Friday, August 31, 2012

Tag Pic Pac Pasta...Just Like Carrabba's Italian Grill Recipe!!

I LOVE Italian food and the best Italian place to eat in my opinion is Carrabba's!!  I especially like their Tagliarini with Picchi Pacchiu Sauce, otherwise known as "Tag Pic Pac"!  

With a name like that, it has to be good!  I was so curious about the name, I did some research to figure out where it came from.  In Sicily, picchi pacchiu is what cooks make for a quick tomato sauce when minimal cooking is necessary.  

So on to the important stuff...the recipe for "Tag Pic Pac"! :)

Picchi Pacchiu Sauce
    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (Colivita recommended)
    4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    1 can (28 ounce) whole roma tomatoes in juice
    1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1 pound fresh tagliarini or fettuccini


  1. To make the sauce, heat the oil and garlic together in a small skillet over medium-low heat just enough so the garlic is soften and fragrant and the oil is very warm (about 5 minutes).  Remove from heat and let stand to infuse the oil, about 30 minutes.
  2. Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a bowl.  Squeeze the tomatoes through your fingers until they are coarsely crushed.  Stir in the garlic in its oil and the chopped basil.  Season with Kosher salt and pepper.  Let stand for 1 - 2 hours for the flavors to marry.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.  Add salt to taste.  Add the tagliarini and stir well to separate the strands.  Cook according to the manufacturer's directions until al dente.  Drain well.
  4. Return the tagliarini to it's cooking pot.  Add the sauce and mix well.  Cover and let stand for 1 minute.  Divide among 4 serving bowls and serve hot.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sugar Cookie Cups with Pink Champagne & Vanilla Buttercream

I am always looking for that new, unique dessert that I can make and let my husband taste test.  (NOTE:  My husband is sweet treat freak!) :) I recently ran across a great recipe that I just had to try because the name was just too cute and catchy for it to not be good!  I mean who wouldn't want to try Sugar Cookie Cups with Pink Champagne Buttercream Icing?  I can assure you after the taste test, these little cuties are definitely as good as the name is catchy and super easy to make!!

Blogger Arlene Cummings of Cooking with Sugar created this fabulous recipe that turns Pillsbury Ready to Bake! refrigerated sugar cookies into a simply elegant dessert that is perfect for weddings, parties, or just because!

Below recipe adapted slightly from:

Cookie Cups:
1 package (16 oz) Pillsbury Ready to Bake! refrigerated sugar cookies

Champagne Buttercream Icing:
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 shortening
4 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp of salt
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
1/4 cup pink champagne (I prefer Pink Moscato wine)
1 Tbsp of milk or heavy cream
1-2 drops red food coloring (until desired pink color is reached)

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray.

Remove cookie dough rounds from tray.  Place 2 cookie dough round in each muffin cup.  Bake 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown.

Directly after taking the muffin tin out of the oven, take a wooden spoon and using the end, carefully press into the center of each baked cookie to make a 1-inch wide indentation.  Allow cookies to cool for a about 5 minutes, remove them from the muffin tin and place then on a cooling rack.  

While the cookie cups are cooling on the cooling rack, in a medium bowl, beat butter and shortening with a stand mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.  Turn the speed down to low and gradually add the sifted powered sugar while beating 1-2 minutes.  After powered sugar has mixed in well, add the 1/4 tsp of sale, 1 Tbsp vanilla extract, 1/4 cup of pink champagne, and 1 Tbsp of milk or heavy cream.  Add 1-2 drops or more red food coloring to create the pink color that you are looking for.  Continue to mix and beat ingredients until stiff peaks form.  

Put the prepared buttercream icing into a piping bag with your favorite end attachment and pipe the icing into the sugar cookie cups (about 1 Tablespoon of icing per cookie cup).  Decorate cookie cups with candy sprinkles!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

German Chocolate Pecan Pie

So, who doesn't love sweets at least sometimes?  And more importantly, who doesn't love decadent cake like German Chocolate?  Well, this pie recipe mixes the decadence of German Chocolate Cake with the sweet crunch of Pecan Pie.  This recipe is so simple, it should be illegal!!  After you make it, everyone who tastes it will want the recipe, trust me!  Enjoy!

3 eggs
1 cup of sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup chopped pecans
3 Tbsp softened butter
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup (plus a handful) milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup coconut
2 deep dish unbaked pie shells

Mix all ingredients together for the pie filling.  

After ingredients are mixed well, pour 1/2 of mixture into one unbaked pie shell and the the other 1/2 into the other pie shell.  Sprinkle the handful of milk chocolate chips over the top of each pie.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Once pie has baked for 1 hour, remove from oven and allow to cool for 1/2 an hour.  A scoop of vanilla ice cream is the perfect accompaniment to a slice of warm pie!! 

 Enjoy and keep making it Crazy Good!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Zucchini Cake lab coat required

Zucchini, I just love that unique and just simple great food!  Zucchini is a fabulously tasting summer squash that is also full of some great vitamins and super healthily!  So, I decided to make zucchini cakes...I mean when I get to experiment with one of my favorite vegetables and turn it into something like a crab cake...can you really go wrong?  :)  I think not!

These zucchini cakes turned out light and fresh tasting and had a wonderfully crunchy outside and a creamy melt in your mouth inside.  Pure perfection in my opinion!

2 zucchinis (graded into shreds)
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 cup of bread crumbs (fresh works best, but store bought are fine)
1 egg
1/2 shallot, finely diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced (usually the equivalent of 1/2 a whole pepper)
1/4 cup of green bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 tsp of Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp of mayonnaise or plain yogurt
1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp of vegetable oil for frying

Cut both ends off of zucchinis and grade into a strainer.  Place the strainer in a larger bowl and sprinkle the 1/2 tsp of Kosher salt over the shredded zucchini.  The salt helps to start the process of releasing moisture from the shredded zucchini and it will drip through the strainer into the outside bowl. After you have sprinkled the zucchini with the salt, let it stand for approximately 30 minutes.  While you are waiting on the salt to penetrate the zucchini, get the remaining ingredients out and dice the shallot and red bell pepper.  After 30 minutes, take a folder paper towel and lay over top of the zucchini and press down to further eliminate any excess moisture.  Continue to do this until the zucchini is fairly dry and you have about a tablespoon of liquid in the outside bowl.

Once the zucchini from the strainer and place into another bowl.  Continue preparation by adding all the other ingredients, except for the vegetable oil and panko bread crumbs.    Mix the ingredients well.  After mixing the ingredients, if the consistency is too wet, continue to add more breadcrumbs until the consistency is perfect for molding into patties.  When you have reached the right consistency (damp and thick), form into about 8 patties (usually a heaping Tbsp makes a good size patty).  

Sprinkle the panko bread crumbs into another plate.  Roll the patties in the panko bread crumbs until well coated.  This coating of panko will help create that crunchy outside on the patties. 

Place the patties onto some wax paper in a pan and place in the refrigerator to chill (approximately 30 minutes).  After your patties have been chilled and are firm, remove them from the fridge and heat the 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat.  Add the zucchini cakes to the pan and cook on both sides until browned (approximately 3-5 minutes each side).  Drain the cooked patties on a paper towel on a plate and serve immediately.  For a quick sauce, mix some chopped fresh herbs (such as chives and dill) and lemon juice and mayonnaise or just dip it in some simple ranch dressing.  Enjoy and remember to always make everything crazy good!! :)

"Always making it crazy good!" ~ Jodanna, the Crazy Good Cook

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Brownies with Expression...I mean Espresso!

This past Saturday night, the hubby and I were sitting at home.  I know what you are thinking, at home on a Saturday night, what madness is this!?!?  Well, we were especially tired from a long work week and a day of house work and yard work...we were basically too tired and lazy to go anywhere.  I decided that I wanted to make some brownies for us, since we both were just in one of those "blah" moods.  Plus, my husband LOVES brownies and I thought that they just might perk us up.  But after I started, regular brownies just didn't seem like enough.  So, I decided to add a little "expression" to those regular 'ole brownies.  The expression consisted of some super perky and flavorful espresso!

1 box (19.8 oz.) of prepackaged brownie mix (Ghiradelli mix is what I prefer)
Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbs of hot water (separate)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp espresso*
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powered sugar
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

*NOTE:  If you are not a huge coffee fan, you can drop the amounts down to 1 Tbsp and 1 tsp, respectively.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9x13" baking pan with nonstick spray.

Whisk 1/3 cup of water, oil, eggs, and 2 Tbsp espresso  in a large bowl to blend.  After ingredients have been combined, add the brownie mix.  Stir until well blended.  Stir in the 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Once everything is mixed, transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

While brownies are cooling, dissolve the remaining 2 tsp of espresso in the 2 Tbsp of hot water in a small bowl.  Strain the espresso granules off and put the liquid espresso in a medium bowl.  Save the espresso granules for later.  In the bowl that contains the liquid espresso, whisk in the 1 tsp of vanilla extract.  Add the 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and the 1 Tbsp melted butter and continue whisking until smooth.  From the saved espresso granules, take 1/2 tsp of the granules and add them to the glaze.  Mix well.  After the brownies have completely cooled, pour the glaze over the brownies and smooth.  Refrigerate until the glaze is set (about 15-30 minutes).  Cut into bite size pieces.  Arrange the brownies on a platter and serve.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Stick to Your Ribs, Not Your Thighs Chili

When you think of chili, most people think of some sort of ground meat, possibly some sausage, some beans like kidney or pinto beans, and a ton of cheese.  I don't know about everyone else, but I have often struggled to find a chili that actually has a little bit more taste to it that just meat, tomato, and cheese.  I found this great recipe for a Black Bean - Hominy Chili in USA Weekend.  I took the recipe and altered it slightly by changing some ingredients and adding a few others.  I call it "The Stick to Your Ribs, Not Your Thighs Chili"!  This truly is a meal that provides you with an adequate amount of protein to make you full and has a ton of healthy vegetables.  I promise that even if you have a man at home that is a meat-eating fanatic, he will be raving about the recipe and asking when you will be making it again!!


1 quart good quality vegetable broth (I prefer Swanson's)
1 can (approx. 14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
1 Tb. vegetable oil
1 shallot (or small white onion), diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped (reserve a few sprigs un-chopped as garnish)
3 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. red pepper flakes (optional, if you want some added heat)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
2 cans (approx. 15 ounces) drained and rinsed white hominy
1 can (approx. 15 ounces) drained and rinsed black beans
1 can (approx. 15 ounces) drained and rinsed kidney beans
1 ounce (or 1/8 cup) bittersweet chocolate, graded over a microplane


Microwave vegetable broth and tomatoes in a microwave-safe container on high power until steamy hot, about 5 minutes.  

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs. vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add shallot and bell peppers; sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add chili powder, cumin, and oregano; sauté until fragrant, about a minute or so.  Add diced garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.  Add the beans and hominy along with hot broth and tomato mixture to pot.  If you want to do so, for added heat, you can now add the 1 Tbs. of red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partly covered, until all vegetables are tender and flavors have blended well, about 20 minutes.  Stir in graded semi-sweet chocolate and chopped cilantro.  Simmer for 5-10 more minutes to blend the chocolate and cilantro.  Turn off heat and let chili stand a few minutes before serving.

I like to serve this chili with a spring of cilantro, a dollop of Greek yogurt (substitute for high fat sour cream), and a small cake of cornbread.  This chili is sure to get you raves and people asking for the recipe!  Enjoy and always remember to make it CRAZY GOOD!!

The Crazy Good Cook

*Above recipe slightly altered from USA Weekend - Healthy Black Bean-Hominy Chili.