Tried and True – Giada’s Cheesy Baked Tortellini

There’s a 90% chance that if you look in my fridge or freezer, you might find a package or two of ravioli, gnocchi or tortellini for quick weeknight meals. It’s a pantry staple that has saved my butt on more than one occasion when I need to whip up something scrumptious but have little to no energy to make anything that takes a ton of thought.

Instead of pairing some of my fave tortellini with some marinara, I decided to give Giada de LaurentiisCheesy Baked Tortellini a spin.  Most of the ingredients were already on hand and all I needed to pick up was the smoked mozzarella.  This recipe is going into regular rotation and it is well worth the extra 30 minutes on the treadmill for all the cheesy smoked mozzarella deliciousness.

I’d pair this with a simple salad, a great red wine and enjoy a nice evening in. After all, while it looks like you slaved over a hot oven, we won’t tell how simple it really is to throw it all together.

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Giada de Laurentiis Heads Back To Philly For Weeknights With Giada

The 2012 Cookbook Season has begun, my friends. And, to kick it off will be one of my faves, Giada de Laurentiis.

Giada de Laurentiis has written her latest, Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner, and it will be in stores starting March 27th.   For us Philly peeps, we have some great news – she will be visiting the Williams Sonoma in King of Prussia on March 29, 2012 at noon. As always, it will be a packed house so, a bit of advice – wear the flats and leave the stilettos at home – trust me on this! Like last year, it’s a ticketed event so, if you are planning on heading to King of Prussia to see Giada, make sure to get your ticket as soon as possible because it WILL sell out.

One thing I adore about Giada at Home, the recipes are always fantastic so I’m sure this cookbook will not disappoint.  So – who’s headed to Giada’s cookbook signing?

Giada’s full book tour schedule * courtesy of Random House is below.

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Cozy Up With A Bowl of Winter Minestrone

Philly got a bit of a present over the weekend in the form of freezing rain and snow galore. With the freezing rain that turns the hills of Manayunk into skid central, it was a weekend in for this gal. The Sous Pug didn’t fare well with the snow as he is now officially completely blind and could only slide down the sidewalks and stand bewildered on the freezing snow banks that he bravely attempted to climb. He pretty much was ready to pack his toys and head back to Florida.The good thing about being a food blogger held captive during a snowfall is that one can play in the pantry for a bit.

One of my new favorites for winter is this comforting Winter Minestrone Soup from Giada de Laurentiis. It was lightening quick to make and perfect to take off that icy chill. The one step you can’t skip is the parmesan rind – it’s definitely one of those secret weapons. I buy them from Whole Foods and keep them in the freezer for soups like this.  Grab a bowl of this soul soothing soup and curl up on the couch.  It’s a recipe that you will find yourself making again and again.

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Recipe Redo – Panettone Bread Pudding With A Dash Of Cherries and Rum

Panettone Bread Pudding Fresh From The Oven

One of my goals for 2012 is to go through some of the utterly “food blogging newbie” posts when I first started and redo the recipe with new photos and, occasionally, play with the recipe a bit.  Hard to believe that it will be 4 years for Cooking In Stilettos this March.

For the holidays, one of the desserts that is often requested is Giada’s Panettone Bread Pudding with Warm Cinnamon Syrup. I originally wrote about it in 2008 and decided to document it again but add my own little twist to it.

At the beginning of the holidays, I often head to Philly’s Italian Market and pick up a box or two of some amazing Panettone Bread.  This year, I decided to add to my tried and true recipe with the addition of some rum soaked cherries. In my humble opinion – this was the best panettone bread pudding that I have ever made!  Friends were asking for the recipe, family headed back for seconds and thirds and, well, this bad boy didn’t last too long.  A word of caution is necessary however – this dessert is rich so consider yourself advised before you dive into its puffy gloriousness with a spoon.

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Tried and True: Pumpkin Goat Cheese Risotto

I have a habit of thinking some recipes are overcomplicated and tend to think “I can never make that” even though it might be somewhat simple. Risotto is one of those recipes. I have seen it made time and time again on various shows and never had the urge to try it until I saw this Pumpkin Goat Cheese Risotto recipe from Giada de Laurentiis and decided to give it a whirl.

For the record, the most effort is stirring the rice constantly. I have a habit of making “crispy toasty rice” and not in a good way. I loved how the flavors came together and decided to make it in one pot, using some of the bacon fat to caramelize the onions and it really did add some great flavor. Plus – everything is better with bacon, right? When I went to gather the ingredients, I noticed that I was out of thyme and parsley but didn’t let that stop me. Another point – I rarely drink white wine in my house – just ask SL. White wine might lead to someone dancin’ on tables – I’m just sayin’… However, when I do cook with it, I tend to keep the little bottles of Pinot Grigio in the wine fridge just in case for those moments when I don’t want to open a bottle of white and have it go to waste. Don’t judge ;)

This pumpkin goat cheese risotto is a tried and true recipe in this household. Plus, I am happy to report that I have conquered my fear of risotto – beef wellington, however – well that will take some time.

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It’s All About The Stuffing – Ciabatta Chestnut Stuffing That Is

Holiday time always meant that when I visited my Bampa’s house, there was a strong likelihood that in addition to the typical stuffing you might find, overflowing with celery, onions, raisins, etc., there would be a small dish of chestnut stuffing for those that might enjoy it. Now, I was a snotty little kid who liked all things processed – Cool Whip, Stove Top and god knows what else and, if I had a time machine, I would go back in time and tell my Bampa I was sorry for not appreciating his culinary wisdom. I’m sure he must have shaken his head a few times at my turned up nose and exclamations along the line of “Chestnut stuffing – YUCK!” Like I said – I was a brat.

I attempted to give Chestnut stuffing a try over the holiday and, guess what, Giada had a recipe for Ciabatta Chestnut Stuffing that rocked! It’s a stuffing that even my Bampa would thoroughly enjoy. Giada’s recipe called for pancetta but I wound up using some bacon I had in the fridge. Also, as I didn’t have a 15 x 10 x 2 dish, I used two of my Le Creuset bakers. Coupled that with some great ciabatta from Whole Paychex, roasted chestnuts from Williams Sonoma and some turkey stock – it was a dish that was not only great with dinner, but better the next day. Chestnut stuffing will become a family tradition, once again.

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Tried and True: Creamy Cheesy Corn Polenta

Remember that Short Rib Chili I yammered on about earlier this week – well, the one side that you must try – at least once in your lifetime – is this Creamy Cheesy Corn Polenta. In my house, short ribs are often served with polenta. It’s quick, easy and with the right additions, is so much better than potatoes. Don’t get me wrong, I adore a good mashed potato (I am Irish after all) but polenta just has that chic unexpected vibe.

When I was looking at Giada’s short rib and polenta recipe from Food Network, I realized that I might have to make a few changes.  Not only did I only have the quick cooking polenta in the pantry (which I often get at one of my favorite spots at Philly’s Italian MarketClaudios), but I wanted to add flavors of asiago and ricotta to it.  Granted it was a bit rich but coupled with the sweet corn puree and additional texture from the fresh corn – love! When you want to deviate from the typical sides, try this one for a bit of a change.

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