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Baked Ziti Pasta

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Baked Ziti Pasta 2
This is a tried and tested recipe for baked ziti pasta that needs very little changes. It is pretty much perfect just the way it is and makes an ideal healthy mid week family meal. Despite all the rubbish about no carbs in your diet they are essential for providing energy to our bodies and I never feel the slightest bit guilty when making this meal and nor should you. Actually now that I think about it I did make one change to this recipe and that was to how I layered it. I placed the sauce on top of pasta and then I added the toppings. Be sure to stir the sauce through the pasta to make everything nice and consistent. When preparing your pan grease well or spray with a good non stick spray, you will glad you did when it comes time to do the dishes because it makes cleaning a breeze. This recipe makes plenty so if you don’t have a big pan use two smaller ones. One lady emailed me saying she was disappointed because I never mentioned that this dish needed to be covered when baking I am sorry I just assumed everyone knew that. So please everyone – bake this with a covering of aluminium foil or use a covered baking dish. This is an absolutely delicious savoury and creamy dish and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do whenever I make it.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry ziti pasta
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Description

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
  2. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.

Baked Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs

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Baked Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs 2
Baked goods are the best. If you’re like me, you also love the convenience of having to pop something into the oven and cook. That’s how I prefer to cook my chicken dishes because they take no time to bake at all. On days when you don’t have the extra time to whip up complicated dishes, this recipe will surely help you out.

I scratch my head sometimes because I have to cook for a family that easily loses their interest in food that’s been on my dinner table one too many times this week. Besides, having pasta 4 out of 7 nights, I’d probably wonder if there was something better in store for next week too.

Personally, I don’t find anything wrong with chicken dinners every night for as long as each recipe would be different. If you’ve got to serve chicken (because my kids love them) like I do, this will surely give your taste buds a ride. The ingredients aren’t difficult to find; some may already be kitchen staples too. Have fun making this like I did.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 pounds chicken thighs (or legs)
  • Salt
  • Slivered Almonds
  • 2 sprigs rosemary or Italian parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced

Description

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In the meantime, prepare a large bowl and throw in the honey and olive oil. Next, add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. If the seasoning isn’t quite adequate, add more salt and the mustard until the desired flavor is achieved.
  2. Season the chicken thighs lightly and arrange them skin-side up in a shallow casserole dish. Massage the honey mustard sauce over the chicken. Add the rosemary sprigs in between the chicken pieces.
  3. Add your sliced bell pepper and silvered almonds.
  4. Place the casserole in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Insert the meat thermometer needle in one piece and watch if the temperature reaches 175 °. The juice would probably run clear once you’ve pierced the chicken. When done, remove the casserole and scoop out the excess fat.
  5. Sprinkle some freshly ground pepper before your serve. Best served hot.

Baked Cauliflower Gratin

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Baked Cauliflower Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1 large (3 pound) head of fresh cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 cups grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1/3 cup dry, seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Description

  1. Preheat an oven to 375F. Butter a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish and set it aside. Steam the cauliflower in a large pot of boiling water fitted with a steamer basket for 5 to 7 minutes, until the florets are just tender. Rinse them in cold water, drain, and arrange them in a single layer in the buttered dish.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour until it forms a smooth paste. Continue whisking, cook for about 2 minutes, and then gradually – 1/3 cup at a time – add the milk. Continue whisking and cook until the sauce is completely heated through, smooth, and thickened. Remove from the heat and season with the salt, thyme, and nutmeg.
  3. Pour 2 cups of the Béchamel sauce over the steamed cauliflower and gently toss the florets to make sure they are thoroughly coated with the sauce. Bake the gratin, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Stir together the grated Gruyere cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle them over the gratin. Bake it for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the gratin is hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted and browned. Sprinkle the surface of the baked gratin with the ground pepper and serve hot.
  4. This cauliflower gratin recipe makes 8 to 10 servings.

Baked Chicken Nuggets

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Sometimes the kids can’t stop munching on junk food which bugs me whole lot because I can’t seem to get them to snack on something healthier. Admittedly, I knew they weren’t the biggest fans of vegetables. As parents I might have had a hand on that too. This time, I am beginning to change things at home starting with our food.

I vowed that I would make them eat healthier. So I thought about incorporating meats into their snacks. Probably some meat recipes I have on my arsenal might work out as filling snacks. This chicken recipe is special because it would do just that. I find that it’s very good as a snack in between meals (believe me they’re perfect for it) as well as lunch. When I first made this, the kids when bonkers for it; which prompted me to be creative about my presentations so they don’t lose interest. They’re the same chicken nuggets we love but with a twist here and there.

I am sharing this recipe to you in the hopes that it would help other mothers do the same thing. It’s an easy dish which could keep your kids interested to eat their lunch/snacks from now on.

Ingredients

  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Description

  1. Prepare the oven and preheat to 400°F or about 200°C.
  2. Slice chicken breasts into 1 and 1/2-inch bite-sized portions. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheese, salt, basil and thyme. Mix these well.
  3. Melt some butter in small skillet and set it aside on a small sauce dish for dipping.
  4. Next, take each chicken piece and dip into the melted butter first and then coat it generously with the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the well coated pieces into a greased cooking sheet in a single layer. Bake the pieces on the oven for 20 minutes. Serve after it has cooled down.

Healthy Stuffed & Baked Tomatoes

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Healthy Baked Stuffed Tomatoes
I know it can be confusing to prepare a meal for dinner guests who are vegetarians. Having that prior notice used to give me panic attacks until I discovered this recipe. The best thing about this dish is the fact that it’s packed with nutrients. That matters when you have guests who count the vitamins and calories in everything.

I just have to say that rice is very filling so I urge you not to eat too much of this at one time. But the dish is lovely as a dinner starter. Try serving it up with other light dishes such as fish (or any seafood dish for that matter) or chicken but never with pasta or mashed potatoes. You don’t want to load your guests up with too many carbohydrates in one meal.

You’re probably in for a treat too because of the Parmesan cheese which doesn’t overwhelm the dish at all. It even gives it a little twist if you find the tomatoes a bit much. Other than this side note, you’re good to go!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup short-grain white rice
  • 6 ripe but firm large tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Description

  1. Fill up a medium sauce pan with water and add salt. Bring this to a boil and add the rice. Stirring constantly, wait for the rice to cook. It takes about 10 minutes and then you can drain the excess water. Run cold water through the rice and drain as well to set it aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, slice off the tops of the tomatoes about half an inch thick. Set aside the tops. Gently scoop out all the juice, seeds and pulp and place them on a separate bowl. Reserve ¼ cup of the tomato juice-pulp content.
  3. Prepare an 8 x 8 inch thick baking dish and spread olive oil to grease the bottom. Then arrange the hollowed out tomatoes into the baking dish.
  4. In a mixing bowl, throw in the remaining tomato juice-pulp contents with the rice. Mix these before adding the Parmesan cheese, basil, parsley, garlic and olive oil. Combine them well and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Then spoon a mixture of the rice into each tomato and mound them in slightly to make sure the contents are really stuffed inside. When done, sprinkle what’s left of the stuffing mixture at the bottom of the pan and drizzle with olive oil. Place the sliced off tops on the tomato and bake in the oven until rice is heated through, usually about 20 minutes. Best served hot or at room temperature, when necessary.

Baked Chicken Thighs with Herbs

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I am the testament that chicken can be cooked best when baked. Fried chicken is good and I have nothing against them especially on days when I don’t feel like cooking and pizza just won’t get it done sometimes (I know you get what I mean). So I order in a big tub of fried chicken. But that doesn’t happen often.

I stand by my belief that baking chicken makes it moister on the inside which is more important than having the crisp on the first bite. Why do I say that? A perfectly moist chicken makes you want to eat all of it. The crisp works only after a first few bites. When the crunch is gone, it’s goodbye to the rest of the meat.

Trust me, I have had to finish off plenty of chicken pieces with the skins gone. Baking it with lemon and the right herbs would bring out its essence especially when you’re generous with the lemon. When the baking is done, the aroma of lemon combined with herb would lift up many down spirits any time of the day.

Ingredients

  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • Coarse salt or sea salt
  • 3 to 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 2 large lemons, each cut into six 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary, snipped into twelve 2-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, snipped into twelve 2-inch pieces
  • 12 sage leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Description

  1. Begin by mashing up garlic with a pinch of salt using a mortar and pestle. You do this in order to create a coarse paste. Using the back of the spoon and a small mixing bowl would do the same trick. Add in the oil very slowly in drops as you pound and grind on the paste. Continue to do this until the allioli is thick, creamy and emulsified. Put the chicken in a bowl and rub this allioli all over. Rub it under the skin as well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Heat up your oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle. Using a large shallow roasting pan or a 9x13x2 inches baking dish, arrange lemon slices in one layer. Top each lemon slice with a piece of rosemary, thyme and sage leaf. Set the chicken thighs skin side up. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper. Place it on the baking oven until the skin is golden and juices are clear. That usually takes 45 minutes to an hour.
  3. A lot of times, both the lemon and chicken would produce a lot of juice but you can create a delicious pan sauce out of that. Remove chicken from the pan. Transfer the lemon and herbs to a plate and place chicken on top. Cover it loosely with foil. Using a small skillet, heat up the juice until it thickens to a saucy consistency. Drizzle on the sauce around the chicken (and not on top) to maintain its crisp skin when served.

Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes

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There’s a reason why I like the French style of cooking. Aside from the butter, of course, they name their dishes in the most fancy of fashions which is what I adore most. If they’re hard to pronounce, then they must taste just as interesting. And this dish doesn’t disappoint in the taste department.

It’s the cream, I say. The creams and sauces in French cuisine are the best. Couple that with toppings of cheeses, seasoned breadcrumbs and then baked to perfection and it becomes pure heaven. I have always loved any dish with a thick sauce on it, especially when the sauces are white and oozing with cheese.

Now if you’re very fond of the classic mashed potatoes, then this one will surely give your taste buds a good trip. Trust me, you’ll think of the French countryside when you take your first bite on this. You see, potatoes are great by itself. You can add them to any baked meats and it’ll still rock your taste buds. But when you pair it with a creamy cheese sauce, it’s a whole new level of culinary heaven.

Cooking in au gratin style is the best way to prepare your potatoes. If that doesn’t persuade you then you are not the foodie I expect you to be.

Ingredients

  • 4 russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 onion, sliced into rings
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Description

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 400°F or about 200°C. Grease a 1-quart casserole dish with butter generously.
  2. Arrange half of the potatoes at the bottom of the dish by layering them in one by one. Top with the onion slices and then add the remaining potatoes. Make sure to season this with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Melt butter in a medium-sized sauce pan. Use medium heat on this one so you won’t burn the butter. Next, mix in the flour and salt and stir constantly with a whisk for a minute. Then stir in the milk. Cook this until the mixture has thickened a bit. Lastly, add the cheese over the potatoes and cover the dish with aluminum foil.
  4. Place the dish in the oven and bake for an hour and a half. By the then, the potatoes will have been tender and cheeses are melted. Best served hot.

Baked Chicken and Tomatoes Casserole

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I got into a mini debate with a friend today about calling tomato a fruit or a vegetable. I insisted on calling it a vegetable. To my knowledge, people classified them as such, right? I was schooled today. She googled it and won the argument. I was on my way to get the chicken recipe I wanted to show her until I was inspired by earlier events.

I planned on making tomatoes the star of my dinner. This recipe is just the perfect complement to the day filled with food debates and internet surfing for answers. I ended up inviting her over for dinner so she could see the humor in what I was about to do.

Baking tomatoes from scratch is good. Simply drizzle olive oil on it and salt and you’re good to go. They give off a special aroma which not all vegetables/fruits have when baked. And they’re pretty nutritious too. Having the chicken to bake along with the tomatoes is a lovely combination, in my opinion.

This recipe also kept my kids craving for tomatoes more. They used to hate eating them because they tasted bland and had no special flavor. I can’t blame them for thinking this way. But this dish will change all that. Trust me, your kids will love tomatoes after having this.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds chicken pieces
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves

Description

  1. Begin with the dry ingredients: Mix in flour, salt and pepper. Next, drench each chicken piece with this mixture. Rub it all over until every part is coated.
  2. Over medium-high heat, warm up a skillet and then add in butter to allow it to melt and follow it up with oil so it doesn’t burn right away. Then slowly add in the chicken and cook until golden brown.
  3. Take the cooked chicken out from the oil and place it into a baking dish. In the same skillet, sauté the mushrooms and onions. Next, add the remaining drenching flour mixture to make rue. Then throw in the tomatoes and bay leaves and give it a light stir.
  4. Cook this for about 4 minutes or until rue is done and pour this over the chicken pieces. Cover with foil.
  5. Bake at 350°F until chicken is tender or wait about 40 minutes. Remove from oven to cool down a bit before serving. Best served warm. Serves 6.

Baked Potato with Mushrooms and Cheese

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I don’t know about you but watching cheese as it melts makes me hungry. Anyone who can resist a cheese and potato combination must dislike food or something. But for the life of me, why would you? There’s nothing to disapprove about this recipe. This dish is basically hyped up mashed potatoes with just a bit more cheese added to it (abundantly so). It would be the perfect complement to steak or fried chicken dinners. Yum!

It’s healthier too because you left the skins on the potatoes not just for presentation. Now some people may not want to eat the skins and that’s perfectly fine. They’re missing out though because I’ve learned that potato skins contain more nutrients than the flesh itself. It really is more nutritious to eat the skin. Anyway it’s perfectly clean. Just make sure to wash them thoroughly before you start baking at all.

If you’re the world’s biggest fan of mashed potatoes like I am, then this recipe will knock your socks off. It’s flavorful and the mushrooms give it a new texture. Plus, the cheese is just heaven. The kids will love this recipe as much as you do. I can tell you that!

Ingredients

  • 6 small russet potatoes (about 7 ounces each), scrubbed
  • 5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large green onions, chopped
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cups coarsely grated white cheddar cheese

Description

  1. Start by baking the potatoes. Set the oven to preheat at 375°F. Using a fork, pierce each potato several times and place them directly on the rack. Bake for at least an hour. When done, they should break open easily just don’t destroy the skins on them.
  2. While potatoes are baking, melt a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms for about 7 minutes or until golden brown. Stir frequently. Then add the green onions, cook until wilted and set aside.
  3. Take the potatoes out from the oven using your mitts and cut them in half, lengthwise. Slowly scoop out all of the cooked flesh, place it on a bowl and leave the skins intact. Add sour cream, cream cheese and 4 tablespoons of butter (not melted) to the bowl and mash all ingredients together. Mix well after.
  4. Then take the mushroom and green onion and add them to the mashed potatoes. Add half a cup of cheddar cheese and mix well. Season to taste using salt and pepper.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat oven again to 375°F. Then take a spoon and mound in the mashed potato mixture gently into the skins. Sprinkle each with about a tablespoon of cheese. Place each potato half on a baking sheet. You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate just before baking.
  6. Bake the potato halves until all the cheese melts through. That takes about 25-35 minutes depending on how long the potatoes have been refrigerated. Serve hot.

 

Baked Pork Chops

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Never mind the long wait but the dish is so delicious and succulent, you’ll soon forget how long it took to make. I know you’re probably imagining the smell of baked pork chops wafting through the air right about now. The first time I made this, the kitchen smelled so good everyone in my family couldn’t wait to eat.

Everyone loves pork chops, right? I know my family does because we’re a serious bunch of carnivores. We’d consider this dish a staple in our household really. Not only does it make a perfect dish that you can serve either for lunch or dinner at home, you can also have your husband take it with him to the office. All it takes is a quick reheating on a microwave and it would smell just as inviting.

Because it takes a bit of time to make, I take this opportunity to catch up on my reading while this one bakes in the oven. Sometimes I make this head, shove it into the fridge and reheat when meal time comes. However you prefer it, it’s still best to serve this dish hot to a family of hungry mouths waiting at the table. And then, I take a moment to watch them smile after each bite. To me, that’s worth all the trouble to prepare and cook.

Ingredients

  • 6 pork chops
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 2 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup white wine

Description

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 350 °F or about 175°C.
  2. Clean the pork chops with water and then pat dry. Place them on a dish to marinate with garlic and salt. Season it to taste.
  3. Prepare the beaten eggs, flour and bread crumbs. Take one pork chop, drench it in flour and then dip it into the eggs. Next, coat it with bread crumbs liberally and set aside. Do the same to all the remaining pork chops.
  4. Take a medium skillet and heat it up over medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil and fry the chops for 5 minutes on each side. Cook until the bread crumbs are well-browned. Then transfer the cooked pork chops into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and cover with foil.
  5. Bake the chops in the oven for over an hour. While doing that, combine the cream of mushroom soup, milk and white wine in a medium bowl and mix them well.
  6. When the meat is done, pour this mixture on top. Make sure all the meat is coated. Replace the foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Baked Pork Chops 2

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