Maureen Fraîche

Mixing Business and Pleasure in the Kitchen

Cheesy Tortellini and Sausage Skillet

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I ate this bite and behold, it was very good.

The weather’s turnin’ cold, folks!  Time for something warm and cozy, says I.

Cheesy Tortellini and Sausage Skillet?  Yep.  That sounds about right.

I’ve seen variations of this dish all over the interwebs and decided to make my own rendition.  One thing I love about it is how easy it is to add whatever random veggies you’ve got in the fridge and no one will be the wiser.  Well, within reason.  And as for prep, who doesn’t love a one dish wonder?  This dinner comes together in about 30-45 minutes and the clean-up is a breeze.  Your family will love this one, so why not give it a try?

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Fizzy Freckled Lemonade

Fizzy Freckled lemonade

Well, hello there.  It’s been awhile hasn’t it?  Life seems to be full to the brim with busy boys and their shenanigans these days.  Summer is full throttle around here and summer, of course, calls for lemonade.  I adore lemonade.  The real stuff, that is.  I also love me a nice fizzy beverage on a hot day.  Throw a few macerated strawberries in there and we’re practically having a party.

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Golden Delicious Apple Pie

Golden Delicious Apple Pie

It’s hard to beat a great slice of pie–especially if it’s apple pie–and this time of year, there is no shortage of apples in Washington State.  So many delicious varieties are available now and with a husband in the biz, I get to try varieties both unique and still under development.  Even now, I’ve got a bag of Pink Pearls tucked away and I find myself with a severe case of decision paralysis when it comes to what to do with them.  A pie?  A tart?  Chutney?  But I digress.  This recipe is all about the ubiquitous Golden Delicious.  While many bakers immediately reach for a tart apple when baking a pie, my husband surprised me when he came home with some of the most mammoth Goldens I had ever seen and, with a smile, requested pie.  Come to find out, Golden Delicious apple pie is actually a favorite around the office and he was eager to give it a whirl.

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Meaty Mac

Meaty Mac

Cooler temps are just around the bend and already I’m in the mood for some gooey comfort food.  The stick-to-yer-ribs type.

This recipe fit the bill splendidly.  Though it surely ain’t sexy, it is totally delicious.  We’re talkin’ perfectly seasoned ground beef folded into creamy, homemade macaroni and cheese and then baked until bubbly.  I kept it simple this time around, but you could easily add sauteed veggies, different spices–whatever your heart desires.  You could also swap in ground chicken or turkey for the beef and a whole grain mac, such as Barilla Plus, for the regular variety.

So next time you’re looking for something cozy–or just a new way to use that ground beef–give this recipe a whirl.  It’s sure to please anyone from your favorite football fan to those angelic children of yours.

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Baklava

Baklava

Want to know what I’m doing right now?  Well, aside from typing (duh), I’m eating the last piece of this baklava.  Good doesn’t even begin to describe it.  If you’ve never had baklava before, allow me to explain what you’re missing out on: crispy layer upon layer of buttery phyllo filled with sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts all topped (drenched?) in a honey-lemon syrup.  Simply amazing.

This particular recipe is an adaptation from The Complete Book of Greek Cooking.  Everything I’ve tried from this cookbook thus far has been excellent, but what would you expect?  How could you go wrong with the Recipe Club of Saint Paul’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral?  Church ladies know good food.

While baklava is not difficult to make, it is a little fussy and time consuming.  The very best advice I can give you would be to, first, make sure you have all of your ingredients, tools, and whatnot ready to go and within reach.  Make a little baklava station for yourself.  Second, don’t make this when you’ve got other stuff going on or if the wee ones are running mad all around you.  If you must, wait until nap time, bed time, or whatever other quiet time you have so that you don’t end up a stressed out, grumpy mess.  Third, keep whatever phyllo sheets you aren’t working with hiding under a lightly dampened paper towel or tea towel.  If those sheets dry out, they’ll crackle into pieces before your very eyes–and before you’ve had a chance to finish that baklava.  And last of all, if you’re going to make one batch, why not make two?  One package of phyllo dough will make two 8×8 pans of this glorious goodness and it freezes beautifully.  Trust me, once you’ve tasted this dessert, you’ll be glad you’ve got a whole ‘nuther pan stashed for a rainy day.

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Easy Greek-Style Shredded Chicken

Easy Shredded Chicken

Next time you have one of those frantic days that just won’t quit, give this recipe a whirl.  It’s a busy mom’s dream come true.  Just grab some chicken out of the freezer, crank up the ole Crock Pot, and forget about it.  Or at least for a few hours, anyway.  What I love best about this recipe, though, is that the chicken ends up both moist and packed with flavor–two attributes commonly lacking in Crock Pot fare.

My version down below has got some Greek flavors going on, though you could easily switch things up.  I’ve done this with citrus-y flavors, balsamic vinegar instead of wine, and all sorts of different herbs and spices–all good.  And I use this chicken in all sorts of ways: tacos, wraps, salads, pasta, panini sandwiches, you  name it.  I’ll often cook up a batch at the beginning of the week just to have it on hand for a quick lunch or dinner.  I’m all for easy these days, how about you?

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Cherries Jubilee

Cherries Jubilee

Cherries Jubilee is one of those desserts everyone should know how to make.  Got a boss?  Got a poopsie-kins?  How about in-laws (or people you wish were in-laws)?  If you’ve got anyone to impress, this is what you make.  How can you beat a flaming dessert?  And, though everyone at the table will certainly oooh and aaah over your sweet culinary skills, you and I will really know what a snap this is to throw together.

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Hearts of Romaine with Sauteed Walla Walla Sweet Onions, Bartlett Pears, and Gorgonzola Dressing

Gorgonzola Salad

Though I’ve never really been a fan of veiny cheeses, this salad is really fantastic.  So many flavors going on–sweet pears, tart cranberries, toasty pecans, warm sauteed onions–and the dressing?  Oh man.  So good.  I just look for excuses to scoop it up and eat it.  It’s got great bite and is delicious with this salad, though I’m also reeeeeally looking forward to trying it out with my buffalo fried chicken.  And again, this is coming from someone who does not typically like veiny cheese, never mind a blue cheese dressing.  Oh!  You’ll also love that as rich as this dressing tastes, it only has 40 calories per serving!

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Cherry Almond Breakfast Bars

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I’ve been wanting to make some sort of fruity breakfast bar that could actually pass as part of a balanced breakfast…as opposed to, you know, a dessert hiding beneath a few oats.  To make matters even better, I recently came into a few bags of beautifully frozen sweet red cherries and have been itching to do something yummy with them.  Though March is just around the corner, cherry season is still a ways off and I’m definitely missing summer fruit.

So here’s what I came up with.  The base is a lightly sweetened oat crust that’s quickly made in the food processor and then baked solo while you whip up the cherry filling.  Just toss a few easy ingredients together and you’re practically done.  Dump the filling on your crust, top with some more oat crumb and sliced almonds, and then back in the oven.  Though these take about an hour to make–start to finish–there’s really nothing fussy about them.  The crust is actually an adaptation of a recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking; inspired by their Raspberry Crumb Breakfast Bar, I set to work tweaking the ingredients and swapping out the filling until I came up with the rendition you’ll find below.

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Confetti Cookies

Confetti Cookies

So I pretty much made the Birthday Cake Crumb just so I could make these cookies.  I am always on the lookout for a new cookie to add to the rotation and these looked, how shall I say….nomnomnomnom.  And they are.  If the idea of a Funfetti-inspired cookie brings a smile to your face, you should definitely try them, too.

I don’t know about you, but I had never before made a cookie with milk powder as one of the ingredients.  Yet another stroke of Christina Tosi’s genius.  Also unique, of course, is her use of glucose along with the granulated sugar, but I did not have any (and was too lazy to order it) and so used corn syrup instead.

The resulting cookie is really fantastic.  Buttery, the right amount of sweetness with a touch of saltiness, the occasional crunch from the Birthday Cake Crumb–this cookie is so much better than any store-bought goodie, unless of course you’re at momofuku milk bar.  The exterior is perfectly crisp whilst the center remains wonderfully fudgey.  And the sprinkles?  Well, what’s not to love about sprinkles?

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