Cadbury Egg Caramel Cake Milkshake

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It’s that time of year, my friends! The Cadbury Mini Eggs are springing up in stores everywhere, and that makes me one happy cookie. If you’ve never tried Cadbury Mini Eggs, you might wonder what makes them so great. There is something so satisfying about biting into that crunchy, flaky shell and reaching ultra-creamy and rich Cadbury chocolate. Go try some, join our fan club, then continue reading.

Okay, now that that’s over, on to the greatest milkshake of all time: my Cadbury Caramel Cake Milkshake. I took my favorite Easter candies and blended them into a thick and creamy shake, along with sweet caramel and vanilla cake. It’s a party in a milkshake, and we’re celebrating spring.

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Okay, maybe it doesn’t feel like spring here in CNY right now, but it’ll be here before we know it. Nothing will get you ready better than this frosty glass of perfection. When you’ve got Cadbury Eggs on their own, or cake, or caramel, they are all amazing in their own right. Combine them, and you get something out of this world.

But you better break out your big straws because this thick shake means business, and no puny straw will do. Or you can be a wild child and ditch the straw altogether. That’s the nice thing about making milkshakes at home; there’s no one to judge whether you use a beverage delivery vessel or not.

Let’s start the season of on the right foot (or should I say, rabbit’s foot!) with this chocolate-speckled, caramel-swirled, cake-studded shake. It ain’t spring yet, but we can pretend!

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A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. I recommend using Mrs. Richardson’s caramel sauce. It’s my favorite – thick and not too sweet.
  2. You can also add fudge sauce. Why not?
  3. If you don’t own a blender, do what I did and use a food processor.
  4. You can buy fun, decorative straws to adorn your shakes with at just about any store: Target, Walmart, Michaels, etc.

Cadbury Caramel Cake Milkshake
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients

  • 3 generous cups vanilla ice cream
  • 2 slice vanilla pound cake
  • 1 cup Cadbury Mini Eggs, crushed
  • 1/3 cup caramel sauce, plus more for the glasses
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Optional: spring-colored sprinkles

Directions

  1. In a blender, pulse ice cream until it smooths out just a bit.
  2. Add pound cake and pulse just until it starts to break up. Add the Cadbury Eggs, 1/3 cup caramel and cream and blender until nice and smooth and well mixed. If its too thick, add more cream.
  3. Use a fork to drizzle caramel along the inner sides of two glasses. Divide milkshake mixture between glasses and top with sprinkles, if desired.

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Smart Cookie Shopping 47: Snacks Galore

SCS 47Today’s Smart Cookie Shopping round-up is going to satisfy your strongest snack cravings. I’m checking out the latest products at the grocery store so you can decide what to add to your next shopping list. This particular collection features chips, pretzels, and chocolate. So don’t be surprised if you’re ready for a snack after reading.

Get your shopping carts ready, and let’s go!

1. Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips - available in the chip aisle

These taste exactly like Pringles, so the kid in me can’t help but love them. They aren’t bad for you when eaten in moderation, but be prepared to want to down the whole canister in one sitting.

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2. Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzel Poppersavailable in the chip aisle

Whether or not you like these depends on your preference. I personally find regular crunchy pretzels to be too heavy and dry, so I liked that these were airy. They’re essentially hollowed out pretzels (and they’re great dipped in hummus). Another taster, however, just thought they were weird.

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3. Wise Kettle Cooked Cracked Black Pepper Chipsavailable in the chip aisle

I don’t believe these are “new,” but I only recently tried them, and I need you to know about them. If you enjoy potato chips, immediately grab a bag of these babies. The kettle cooked chips are crisp and delightful, but that zingy black pepper is what makes them.

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4. Smucker’s Chocolate Hazelnut Uncrustables - available in the frozen section

I will always be a sucker (or should I say “smucker?”) for Uncrustables, and since these are stuffed with chocolate hazelnut spread, they’re even better. If you’re serving these to a kid though, I recommend making it a snack, not lunch. It’s sweet like dessert.

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5. Edy’s Frozen Custard in Vanilla - available in the frozen section

I’m not sure what’s so special about this. It has twice (twice!) the calories of regular ice cream, but tastes almost the same.

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6. Snyder’s of Hanover Raspberry Creme Sweet Pretzel Sandwichesavailable in the chip aisle

I love salty-sweet, so this was a good idea in theory, but wasn’t executed well. The filling was very off-putting in flavor. It tasted like medicine.

Snydersofhanover.com

Snydersofhanover.com

7. Uncle Ben’s Roasted Red Pepper Brown Rice & Quinoaavailable with the rice

This was delicious and hearty, a great addition to my Cheesy Double Chickpea, Rice, Tomato & Spinach Pockets. However, it doesn’t taste like peppers, but does have a nice chicken stock flavor to it.

unclebens.com

unclebens.com

8. Hershey’s Vanilla Creme Hershey Kissesavailable in the candy aisle

These are very sweet, but if you’ve got the sweet tooth for ‘em, they’re addicting. I think they’re worth buying this Easter.

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hersheys.com

Which of these products have you tried?

Cheesy Double Chickpea, Rice, Spinach & Tomato Pockets

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We have a problem in America where we assume healthy = boring and tasteless. I made changes to my diet many years ago after having grown up eating potato chips, fast food, and frozen meals and realizing that wasn’t a sustainable way to eat. I started out thinking plain fruits and vegetables were basically my only option for healthiness. That got old fast.

As I grew up, I discovered my love for cooking, and that meant unlocking more ways to make healthy dishes. I encountered new ingredients and new methods, and it opened up a world of very flavorful possibilities. Now, I know that nutritious food only has to be boring if you make it that way.

Still don’t believe me? Then let my Cheesy Double Chickpea, Rice, Tomato & Spinach Pockets do the talking. These quick and fully loaded pockets will fill you up easily, and they’ll give you tons of energy and nutrients. But the most important part is that they’re outrageously tasty.

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When I make dishes like this that are so flavorful and hearty, my tasters are often skeptic. They’ll ask, “And this is healthy?” And I’ll say, “Yep,” and they’ll stare at the plate for a moment like I’ve just delivered Earth-shattering news they aren’t sure if they should swallow.

I promise, it’s not that crazy. It’s just food, and it’s good. These pockets are loaded with seasoned rice and quinoa, fresh spinach, juicy grape tomatoes, tender chickpeas, a bit of tangy hummus, and two kinds of cheese. Wait, did she just say “cheese?” Yes, I did! You can enjoy cheese in a healthy dish, as long as it’s in moderation.

I know, I’m shaking up your world today.

The other nice thing about this dish is that I made it ahead of time then just kept the filling warm on the stove until we were ready to chow down. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that. Plus, the leftovers made for a fantastic dinner the next day.

Repeat after me: healthy does not equal boring. Now go make these Cheesy Double Chickpea, Rice, Tomato & Spinach Pockets and enjoy your new revelation.

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A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. You can skip the bread/pita and eat the filling from a bowl. It’s that delicious and hearty.
  2. You can use all pepper jack or all cheddar, if you prefer. Muenster would also be good.
  3. Kale can replace the spinach.
  4. For a little heat, try sprinkling in some red pepper flakes.

Cheesy Double Chickpea, Rice, Tomato & Spinach Pockets
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients

  • 1 box Uncle Ben’s Roasted Red Pepper Brown Rice & Quinoa
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 generous cups fresh spinach
  • 16-oz. chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 3 slices pepper jack cheese, broken into pieces
  • 1 slice sharp cheddar cheese, broken into pieces
  • ¼ cup roasted garlic hummus
  • 4 Arnold’s Pocket Thins

Directions

  1. Prepare rice according to box directions. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, bring stock to medium low heat in a large skillet. Add spinach and let simmer until it starts to wilt, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chickpeas, olive oil, tomatoes, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper and stir until well-combined. Let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the rice and any residual sauce from the rice. Mix in the cheeses until melted. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, or until everything is hot and thickened.
  5. Spread a bit of hummus onto the inside of each pita. Add a substantial amount of filling and enjoy.

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Nutella Mocha Brownie Cups

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Whenever I visit my friends at the radio station WUTQ’s show Talk of the Town, I always try to bring something crowd-pleasing. You’ve got your standards that everyone loves: chocolate and peanut butter, cheese, bacon, cookie dough, etc. Basically, if you use any one of those flavors, you’re going to make people happy.

However, I’m not sure I’ve seen any flavor elicit such a passionate response as Nutella. People love Nutella. They go crazy for Nutella. In fact, I’m pretty sure there are only two kinds of people in this world who don’t like it: those who have nut allergies and can’t enjoy its hazelnut-chocolate goodness, and those who just haven’t tried it yet.

Surprisingly though, I haven’t made much with Nutella. I must be nuts (pun intended)! So I knew this flavor favorite was a must for a treat to bring WUTQ. Would you believe the host never tried Nutella before? His guest host and I almost fell over when we heard this. I was happy to be the one to change that.

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My Nutella Mocha Brownie Cups start with a semi-homemade bowl made out of pure brownie. There’s nothing better than getting to eat the vessel you serve the mousse filling in. And speaking of that filling, wow, I even amazed myself with it. The chocolate-hazelnut flavor of the Nutella is just beautiful and perfect with the coffee flavor of the espresso. What a match made in heaven that is. Plus, the texture of the filling is super silky, smooth, and creamy. It’s both light and rich all at once.

If you’ve got a Nutella lover in your life – and let’s face it, who doesn’t – then you do not want to miss this recipe. It’s also fantastic for coffee lovers. If you ever find yourself in a position where you need to make friends fast, remember the powers of delicious Nutella, and remember this recipe.

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A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. You can make these bite-sized by baking them in mini muffin tins instead.
  2. I recommend using an aluminum liner because paper tends to stick to the brownies.
  3. This filling itself is amazing on its own. You can serve it as a mousse, or make it a filling for just about anything.
  4. I don’t recommend subbing cream cheese for the mascarpone because the texture isn’t the same, and it will alter the flavor. If you refuse to use mascarpone, then just leave it out; don’t replace it.

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Nutella Mocha Brownie Cups
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients

  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Pillsbury)
  • 1/2 cup fudge sauce
  • 3 tbsp. espresso powder
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the filling

  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 jar Nutella
  • ¼ cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. espresso powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin.
  2. Prepare brownie mix according to box directions. Stir in fudge, espresso powder and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Fill cupcake tins ¾ full with batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center-most cupcake comes out clean.
  4. Immediately use the bottom of a thin glass, or something else round with a 1 to 1.5-inch diameter, to make an indent in the center of each brownie while they’re still warm. Make it as deep as you can. If you find whatever you’re using is sticking to the brownies then spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Let brownie cups cool completely.
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  5. To make the filling, beat together all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer on high speed until it thickens and stiff peaks form.
  6. Transfer to a piping bag or spoon filling into cooled brownie cups. Serve or store in fridge in an air-tight container.

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The Weekender: Arctic Blast, Lambs, & Cuteness

Winter 159

I am deeply concerned we shall never see spring here in CNY. We’ve had consistently single digit temperatures for weeks, and the snow just keeps falling. We’re starting to run out of places to put it. I shudder to think what should happen if it ever actually does warm up here and those mountains of snow finally melt.

It sounds like your Smart Cookie needs to build a boat.

The good news is, you can count on Smart Cookie to bring you comfort food that will keep you warm during this freezing time. Don’t worry if you didn’t catch everything this week. We’ll review right now.

  1. Baked Tortellini Parmesan
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  2. Tudor’s Biscuit World & Frostop Drive-In
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  3. White Pizza Grilled Cheese
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  4. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-Peanut Butter-Fudge Pie
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I hope the old saying “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” will hold true this year because I can’t take much more of this brutal cold. Speaking of lambs, I found the cutest darn holiday Hello Kitty dressed up in a lamb costume for Easter. I appropriately named her Lamby.

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Equally cute perhaps is this beautiful face that I get to look at every day. Is Mina beautiful, or what?

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I guess the bromance Mr. Poe and Ryan have going on is pretty cute too.

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Next week, I’ve got something healthy and hearty, perfect for lunch or dinner, and it involves this hot skillet-full of goodness.

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How’s the weather where you are?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-Peanut Butter-Fudge Pie

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Inspiration works in funny ways. Some days, I’ll see an ingredient or two in a store, and my head will use them as building blocks to weave together a recipe right then and there. Other days, I’ll spot something online and be inspired by that. On more unfortunate days, I’ll sit for hours, stewing over possibilities and failing to come up with anything good.

In the case of this Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter & Fudge Pie, I honestly built it up like a tower in my head. I thought, “I should make a pie,” and then, “Cookie dough sounds good. Why not some fudge? And a light peanut butter filling.” Boom! It was that simple.

Why can’t recipes always come together that easily?

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I was happy to find that the real thing came together as smoothly as the concept did. It was a painless pie to make, and the only baking I had to do was for the crust. Everything else was no-bake. You hear the phrase “easy as pie,” and question its origin because pie isn’t typically easy at all to make. But my Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter & Fudge Pie will give you faith in that saying again.

The great thing about this multifaceted pie is its crowd-pleasing abilities. You’ve got something for the cookie dough lovers, the chocolate lovers, the peanut butter lovers…even the chocolate-peanut butter lovers! That means everyone will get excited when you serve ‘em up a slice of this masterpiece.

If you’re curious as to how you make cookie dough that’s safe to eat raw, the answer is simple. We make the dough just as we would if we were going to bake it, but we leave out the eggs and simply sub in some water for moisture. You get the dough without risk of salmonella.

With this pie, you can tell all the haters who judge you for eating cookie dough to go somewhere. You can have layers and layers of perfection in every slice and indulge your every sweet craving.

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A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. This cookie dough is meant to be eaten as dough; it will not bake up into proper cookies.
  2. Don’t feel like making the ganache? Just use a jar of fudge sauce instead.
  3. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to top each slice with whipped cream.
  4. You can sub cream cheese for the mascarpone, but I recommend using a bit less. It will add a tangy flavor.

Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter & Fudge Pie
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients

  • 20 Double Stuf Oreos
  • 3 tbsp. butter, melted

For the cookie dough layer

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 5 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips

For the fudge layer

  • Remainder of chocolate chips after adding to dough
  • 3 tbsp. heavy cream

For the peanut butter layer

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Optional: Reese’s miniature peanut butter cups, for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cookie crumbs and melted butter until evenly coated. Press into the bottom of an 8-inch pie dish, packing it evenly.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool completely.
  4. Make the cookie dough: Add the flour, salt, butter, vanilla, and sugars to the bowl of a standing mixer and mix on medium speed until evenly combined. Add water and mix in well. It should be soft and moist like normal cookie dough. If it’s too dry, add 1 tbsp. more water. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
  5. Gently press dough down onto the crust in an even layer.
  6. Pour the rest of the chocolate chips into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  7. Place cream in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 20 seconds. Turn the bowl and microwave another 15 seconds.
  8. Immediately pour over chocolate chips. Let sit for 2 minutes then whisk together until completely smooth and melted.
  9. Pour fudge onto cookie dough layer. Cover and place in the freezer for 10 minutes, then transfer to the fridge for another 15 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, make the peanut butter filling. Place all peanut butter filling ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form and filling is thickened. Spread over chilled fudge layer and smooth out. Top with peanut butter cups, if desired.

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White Pizza Grilled Cheese

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White pizza may be a non-traditional pizza flavor, but it’s a classic. When I was a kid, and we’d go to the pizza place in the mall, I’d always pick a slice of white pizza with broccoli. There was something so delicious about the cheese loaded with garlic, a little bit of oil, and spotted with fresh, tender broccoli. Simple, basic, and perfect.

Do you know what else is simple, basic, and perfect? Grilled cheese. So of course, I had to combine the two in my White Pizza Grilled Cheese. Hybrid foods are my specialty, after all. I took the essential components of white pizza – mozzarella, ricotta, fresh broccoli, Italian herbs, and loads of garlic – and I stuffed them all into a grilled cheese sandwich.

It was a perfect match.

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Golden brown, buttery bread oozing with cheese and broccoli is guaranteed to be a good time. It’s amazing how so much awesomeness can fit between two slices of bread, but I suppose that’s what makes grilled cheese the veteran it is. Every bite tasted like my favorite pizza, but with the comfort of a grilled cheese. I paired the sandwich with my Roasted Red Pepper Cream Soup for a winning meal.

Perhaps when you find yourself craving whited pizza, this grilled cheese is the answer. After all, pizza is sort of a pain to make, and why go all the way to the pizzeria when you can make this stellar sammy at home?

Feel free to customize this just like you would pizza by adding sliced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, or even chicken. This is a fast dinner perfect for a chilly weeknight, or just when you need some comfort food. Two classics in one means a new classic is born.

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A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. You can always prepare these ahead of time and keep them warm in the oven on a low temperature until everyone is ready to eat.
  2. You can use a different kind of bread, just make sure it’s crusty and sturdy.
  3. You can make these in a panini maker if you have one.

White Pizza Grilled Cheese
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 14-oz. frozen broccoli
  • 15-oz. ricotta cheese
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 12 slices French or Italian garlic seasoned bread
  • 12 tbsp. butter spread
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Place broccoli in a large microwave safe dish and fill halfway with water. Cover and microwave until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and chop into small bits.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, garlic, salt, pepper, and italian seasoning until evenly combined. Fold in broccoli. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  4. Bring a skillet to medium heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread then brown the buttered half of each slice of bread on the skillet.
  5. Take half of the slices and spread about 3 tbsp. of ricotta filling onto the unbuttered side.
  6. Place a generous handful of mozzarella on top of the ricotta mixture and sprinkle a bit of the parmesan (this doesn’t have to be exact; just get as much cheese on there as you can!). Finish with another slice of bread, buttered side-up. Place on prepared tray.
  7. Bake sandwiches 10-15 minutes or until cheese is completely melted in the middle. Slice in half and enjoy.

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Frostop & Tudor’s Biscuit World – Southern Staples

Winter 158

I have been dying to take y’all on a trip to two classic West Virginia restaurants since I went to visit my parents last month. I’ve driven past both of them on many occasions during past visits, each time saying that I had to go. Well, I finally got to check ‘em out, and now I’m here to share them with you.

First, I tagged along with Mother and Father Cookie to scope out Frostop Drive-In in Huntington, WV. It’s hard to miss this retro stop with its hypnotic giant glass of spinning root beer perched on its roof. That frosty mug has been calling to me for a long time, but what really pulled me in was when Frostop was recently named the most iconic restaurant in WV.

DSC03777I’m not going to lie; I’m a sucker for Frostop‘s old-fashioned drive-in gimmick. It wasn’t too cold out either when we stopped in, so it was easy to enjoy chilling in our car. Bonus: you don’t have to have contact with other human beings (besides the waitress) when you go to a drive-in! Yay for that!

The service was speedy. Our waitress whizzed right out to us, not on skates though, unfortunately. I obviously had to order root beer from the place with a ginormous mug of root beer on its roof. I also opted for my fried favorites: onion rings and cheese fries.

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I have to say that for a place that touts its root beer, I wasn’t impressed. It didn’t taste any better than mass-produced brands like A&W.

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As far as the food goes, I thought the cheese fries were decent. There was an abundance of cheese sauce, and I love crinkle cut fries. However, they could’ve stood to be a bit crispier.

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I was impressed by the huge bag of onion rings they give you. The breading was a standard beer batter, golden and crisp. But the onions inside weren’t quite tender enough.

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My parents who ordered burgers weren’t impressed either. I guess that leaves me to ask: THIS was the most iconic restaurant in WV? Yes, the drive-in experience was fun, but the food was sub par at best. Hillbilly Hot Dogs is a MUCH more iconic joint, and the food is worlds better.

Next, I had to try Tudor’s Biscuit World after driving by approximately a thousand of them during my stay. They’re a breakfast food chain (although they serve other food too) that’s based in WV, and MAN, they are everywhere! I watched their commercials all the time, and I just couldn’t resist trying one of their many sandwiches.

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For me, it was an easy choice; I needed to try The Dottie, featuring egg, cheese, and a hash brown on a biscuit. Holy crow, that sammy had some weight!

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I was immediately disappointed because my sandwich was cold, and the cheese was not melted at all. Still, I tackled that sandwich without mercy, and I really enjoyed it at first. I loved having a hash brown on a sandwich, but I soon found there was not enough egg to stand up to everything else. I needed twice the egg to balance out that crazy-thick biscuit. I will say, this was filling enough to hold me over all morning.

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Overall, these so-called staples were rather disappointing. Have you been to Frostop or Tudor’s?

Baked Tortellini Parmesan

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Any dish with the word “parmesan” is fantastic in my book. When I was a kid, and I still ate meat, I loved cheesy chicken parmesan. Then, when I became a vegetarian at age 14, I discovered the magical dish that is eggplant parmesan. My mother and I pretty much discovered the best recipe of all time for that.

I’ve also seen people make zucchini parmesan, and just about any “- parmesan” you can imagine. But what I had never seen before was what my Valentine suggested making for our Valentine’s dinner on Saturday: Baked Tortellini Parmesan.

I was skeptical – would it be too rich? That’s a lot of cheese and pasta. But then again, aren’t those two things that I love? I figured we might as well give it a go. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend Valentine’s Day then making a pan of bubbly, cheese-filled goodness with my favorite person.

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I’ll be honest that this dish is a tad time-consuming, only because it takes a while to fry all of the tortellini. And you might find yourself having to fry a few more tortellini than you imagined if you can’t keep your hands off them as they come out of the pan. Did I eat more tortellini while frying or in the actual dish? I think it was close.

All that aside, this Baked Tortellini Parmesan was well-worth the elbow grease we put into it. It was everything I love about an incredible “-parmesan” dish, made even better with delectable little tortellini. There was endless melty, gooey cheese with a trio of fresh mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan. Then an easy but absolutely incredible homemade marinara sauce covers every crisp, breaded tortellini.

Although this dish was indulgent, it somehow wasn’t too rich. There was the right amount of everything. You could taste the good-quality ingredients of fresh cheeses and herbs, and the homemade sauce really packed a punch.

This was a really special meal, and I would definitely make it again. Don’t limit yourself to chicken and eggplant when it comes to parmesan; tortellini is the way to go.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. You can make this with one person, but it will go much faster if you make it a two-person effort. Have one person bread the tortellini while the other person fries.
  2. Make the sauce the day before to save you some trouble the next day when you’re ready to make this for dinner.
  3. You can even assemble the whole thing ahead of time and keep it in the fridge.
  4. Fresh herbs and a homemade sauce are a must. You won’t believe the difference it makes, and you’re just not living if you’re eating sauce from a jar.
  5. This sauce is versatile and would be delicious on pasta, or in any kind of casserole.

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Baked Tortellini Parmesan
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 20 oz. fresh tortellini
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups seasoned Italian breadcrumbs, divided
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 large fresh tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 28-oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 7-oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 20 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 lb. provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Line a large tray with paper towels. Set aside.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, bring oil to medium heat.
  3. Meanwhile, place half the flour in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the milk and egg. Place half the breadcrumbs in a third bowl.
  4. Bread the tortellini by dropping in the flour, then the milk mixture, and lastly, the breadcrumbs. Make sure to completely cover the tortellini with each layer. To repeat, flour – milk – breadcrumbs.
  5. Drop breaded tortellini into hot oil. It should sizzle. If not, you need to let the oil heat longer. Fry tortellini on both sides until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer finished tortellini to prepared tray and allow the paper towels to absorb any extra grease.
  6. To make the sauce, bring oil to medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, and fresh tomato and sauté for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in canned tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, and basil and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Use an immersion blender to smooth out sauce, pureeing all of the chunks. Stir in salt, pepper, and sugar.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  10. Spread a thin base layer of sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Sprinkle half the fried tortellini on the bottom. Cover with an even layer of half the sauce. Lay half of the mozzarella cheese slices out in a single layer, followed by all of the provolone slices and half of the parmesan. Cover with the rest of the tortellini, followed by the rest of the sauce, and the rest of the cheese. To repeat, it’s: base layer of sauce, tortellini, sauce, cheese; tortellini, sauce, cheese.
  11. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling, and a knife inserted in the center feels hot to the touch. Enjoy.

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The Weekender: Valentine’s Day, Activewear & Manicures

Red Velvet ThumbprintsHow was everyone’s Valentine’s Day? No matter how you spent it, or who you spent it with, I hope you ate well! My Valentine and I sure indulged, but more on that later.

We had a whole week-long of festive recipes here on Smart Cookie with our Red Velvet Week. In case you missed a post or two, let’s review, shall we?

  1. Red Velvet Fudge Brownie Bars with Strawberry Glaze
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  2. Red Velvet Rice Krispie Treat Hearts
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  3. Red Velvet Thumbprints
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  4. Red Velvet Recipe Round-Up
    Red Velvet Rice Krispie Treat Hearts

I spent my Valentine’s Day with this guy, which naturally included some time at the gym. What can I say, our relationship includes fitness…and stylish fitness gear!

10361382_10153142480443453_6253117318027097646_nOf course, my fellow BODYSTEP instructor and I were pretty darn stylish for our Valentine’s Day class too.

10959425_10153144453098453_7462539554436750536_nI even painted my nails for the first time in forever so that I’d have a festive manicure. Too bad it chipped in less than 24 hours…

IMG_20150213_113050Now, I know you’re dying to hear the most important part of my Valentine’s Day: what did I make? My Valentine and I worked as a team on this cheesy masterpiece that you’ll see on Monday:

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For dessert, I dreamed up this 3-layered beauty, also coming your way this week.

IMG_20150215_103908_resizedI think the babies had the best Valentine’s Day of all, though. They got the bags and tissue paper they were wishing for.

10991144_10153150632483453_1829249770349582095_nWhat did you make/eat this Valentine’s Day?