Friday, August 25, 2017

Best Spaghetti and Meatballs Ever!


I love spaghetti and meatballs..... I watched a food network show and the chef soaked their breadcrumbs in milk before adding to the meat mixture. I gave it a try and it makes a difference! The meatballs were so moist! I also finish cooking my pasta in the sauce.... I cook in boiling water till al dente then just a couple more minutes in the sauce. YUMMO! I also like cooking my sauce in the oven for a couple of hours in my big dutch oven pot, love the roasted flavor the sauce gets. Enjoy!

Best Spaghetti and Meatballs Ever
Ingredients:
Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup diced roasted red bell peppers and green peppers
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more if you like it spicy
1 tablespoon tomato paste
One 28-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Meatballs:
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 to 2 lbs ground beef
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley or dried works
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced onion
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Instructions: 
For the meatballs: Soak the panko in the milk for 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, Parmesan, parsley, minced onion, garlic, Italian seasoning and some salt and pepper and the soaked panko. Mix well to combine; do not overwork. Form into 2 inch- balls. I dump the mixture out onto a sheet of wax paper. Pat into a rectangle about an inch thick. Then cut into rows both lengthwise and width-wise (is that even a word?) Each square should be enough for about a golf-ball size meatball--Form meatballs and place on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cook meatballs in oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. 

While meatballs are cooking make the Sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a large, dutch oven medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, roasted bell peppers and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, 1 cup water, and some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and bring to a simmer.
When Meatballs are mostly done, add to the sauce. Turn oven down to 250 to 275 degrees. Place the lid onto the dutch oven and put in the oven. let this cook for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. 
When sauce is almost ready, cook pasta according to the package directions just to al dente. Drain but save a cup of the water. 

Get your dutch oven out of the oven, and check , if sauce is too thick ad 1/2 to 1 cup of the pasta water and stir. Bring up to a simmer on the stove and add your pasta, let simmer for another minute or two. Garnish individual servings with some grated parmesan cheese. Serve along side a steamed veggie and crusty french bread. Enjoy!!

Yummo Brown Bread

If you have eaten at Cheesecake Factory, then you know the yumminess of their brown bread... Love it slathered in butter as you can see in my picture above. This recipe was a pretty close clone of it. LOVE it. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.


CHEESECAKE FACTORY’S HONEY WHEAT BROWN BREAD

Ingredients:
1½ cups warm water (105ºF)
1 tbsp sugar
2¼ tsp instant dry yeast (1 package)
2 cups bread flour
1¾ cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp espresso powder (or coffee)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, softened
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp molasses
caramel colouring, or dark brown food colouring (optional)
¼ cup cornmeal, for dusting the bottom of the shaped (not baked) loafs (optional)
Old fashioned oats, for dusting the top of the shaped (not baked) loafs (optional)
Instructions:
In a medium bowl, mix together the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes to proof (it will be foamy on top at the end).
Using the paddle attachment in your stand mixer, whisk together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Add the yeast mixture, butter, honey, and molasses. Also, add your food coloring here if using. You can adjust the colour while it's kneading, so just add a little at a time. Mix on medium-low speed until combined. The dough will be fairly thick and a little tacky.
Swap out to the dough hook, and knead on medium speed for 8 to 10 minutes. This dough is thicker than your standard white bread, so it will be a little tacky, but will not pull or stick to the bottom of the bowl while kneading (but will when the mixer is stopped).
Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise is a warm spot for two hours, until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 6 equal sized pieces, and shape into mini-baguette style logs, roughly 6" long and 2" wide. See below notes for directions on this.
Place the cornmeal on a plate (if using), and set the loafs in it to lightly coat the bottom. Place the loafs on a lined baking sheet, with lots of space between them. Lightly wet the top of the loafs with your hand and some water, then sprinkle on a light dusting of oats. Spray the tops of the loafs with Pam (to keep the wrap from sticking), then cover VERY loosely with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place and let rise for another 60 to 90 minutes, until nearly doubled in size again.
Bake in a 350ºF oven for 25 to 35 minutes. The crust will be soft and squishy to the tough. Bread is cooked when the internal temperature is 190ºF, so feel free to use an instant read thermometer to check.
Let cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing. If baking ahead of time, store tightly wrapped in plastic wrap once completely cooled, for up to 2 days, though it's best eaten the day baked. Gently warm in the oven before serving.
Note:

With the flour - Some days I find that I need to use more flour (probably depending on the weather, or how packed my cups are). the key is to have the dough feel tacky, but NOT sticky - none of it should stick to your fingers when you give it a squeeze.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip cookies

OMG! these cookies are the bomb! to die for ... bet ya can't eat just one cookies! If you love chocolate and peanut butter you have got to give these a try. I only made half the recipe and I used my middle sized cookie scoop for the cookies. I placed the cookies in the refrigerator before baking like the recipe recommends, and baked for about 6 minutes. PERFECT cookies in my opinion. You can find the recipe here -- I love this blog. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, microwave for 10 seconds or set on counter for 30 minutes
2 cups granulated (white) sugar
2 eggs, cold
1/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark Unsweetened Cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
2- 10 oz bags Reese's Peanut Butter Chips
Instructions:
Place rack in center of oven with no other rack on the shelf directly above the center rack. Preheat oven to 400 convection bake or 425 regular bake.
Cut the butter into tablespoons size pieces.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat butter, and sugar for about 1 minute until butter is broken up and starts to blend with the sugar.
Add eggs, one at a time until mixed well. Keep the mixer speed on medium. Turn mixer off and add cocoa, mix until cocoa is blended well.
Turn mixer off. Add all purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to bowl all at once. Pulse the mixer until the wet and dry ingredients are combined using low speed.
Fold in the peanut butter chips.
Scoop the cookies with hands onto a kitchen scale, the cookies should weigh 6 oz each. There will be approximately 9-10 pieces of dough. If you are making minis, measure out to 3 - 3.5 oz size and refrigerate before baking.
The large 6 oz cookies do not require refrigeration before baking. Bake the cookie sheets one at a time, 4-5 cookies per sheet at least 3 inches apart.
Bake when oven is hot for 5-6 minutes on convection or regular bake. The cookies are done when a top crust is formed and the cookies no longer look wet. Do not over bake!

Let the cookies cool for 30 minutes before eating.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Best Mac & Cheese Ever!!



Don't you LOVE mac & cheese. I have always made homemade mac and cheese from my mother's stand-by recipe. I don't bake it though, tends to make the noodles soak up all the sauce. I ran across this recipe at different web sites and blogs and all were pretty similar. It's a copy cat recipe for Panera Bread company's mac and cheese, and it's pretty darn close. Mac and cheese is a comfort food to me. I served along side ribs and brisket for the 4th of July. Enjoy!!

Best Ever Mac & Cheese
1- 16-ounce Package of Medium shell pasta
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2½ cup milk
6 Slices white American cheese, (not the prepackaged, individual sliced cheese, get the American cheese in the deli) sliced into thin strips
8 oz extra-sharp white cheddar, shredded
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
Fresh ground pepper for Garnish (optional)

Ingredients:
Prepare pasta according to package directions.
In large saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, 
whisking constantly. 
Gradually whisk in milk; cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce   is smooth.
Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated). Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh ground pepper if desired. 
YUM!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

My Version of "Schlotzsky's" BBQ Chicken Pizza



I LOVE Schlotzsky's bbq chicken pizza. It was my little treat to myself now and then, but our Schlotzsky's closed a while. I was so sad. So , for my birthday I searched the internet for a copy cat recipe. I found this one for the bread!! Yay! I made it just like it says, but I divided into 4 pieces and finger spread it out into four  8 or 9 inch round aluminum cake pans. (see picture below) Then baked for about 15 minutes till lightly browned and then we added our own pizza toppings and baked an additi onal 10 minutes!! Viola!!! my own version of Schlotzsky's BBQ chicken Pizza! Delicious!!!
Enjoy!

My Version of Schlotzsky's BBQ Chicken Pizza
  1⁄2 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1(1/4 ounce) package yeast
3⁄4 cup lukewarm milk
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1⁄2 cups bread flour (all-purpose will work)
cornmeal

Directions: 
Stir water, sugar and yeast together and set aside.
Dissolve baking soda in 1/2 tablespoon warm water in medium bowl.
Add warm milk, salt and 1 cup flour; beat till smooth.
Beat in yeast mixture and remaining flour (batter will be thick and sticky, but not as thick as normal bread batter).
Spray four 8 or 9 inch aluminum cake pans with cooking spray and dust with cornmeal.
Divide dough into 4 pieces and place in pie pans; spread out with your fingers and cover and let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375ºF and bake for 12 to 15 minutes till golden.
Cool 1 hour.

Top with your choice of Pizza toppings. 
For the BBQ chicken Pizza I used the following:
Your favorite BBQ sauce
2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced into bite size pieces
jarred Jalapeno peppers or banana peppers
Grated cheddar cheese
Grilled onions

First spread a spoonful or two of BBQ sauce onto each pizza, next comes grated cheese, then chicken, grilled onions, and peppers.
Bake an additional 8 to 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until the cheese melts. 

Remove from oven. Cool for a couple of minutes. Remove from pan and slice with pizza cutter. I served each on a dinner plate! There you have your own pizza just like Schlotzsky’s !!

Friday, May 19, 2017

White Chili

I love chili...especially on chilly, rainy weekends. My hubby and I have been trying to eat less red meat and healthier so I was browsing recipes on the Food Network and ran across this one. I followed it pretty exact, except I used masa flour mixed with water to thicken the broth just a bit and it ads a great flavor, like an enchilada soup. LOVED it. I also swapped low fat sour cream for the yogurt for a garnish since that is what we like on our soups. I will make this again ! 

White Chili
adapted from Ellie Krieger / Food Network
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
3 medium poblano peppers (about 4 ounces each), seeded and white ribs removed, finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste
1 pound ground white meat turkey
2 (15.5-ounce) cans white beans such as cannelini, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (15.5-ounce) can hominy, drained and rinsed
Salt
  1/3 cup masa flour
  1 cup water
Garnishes:
1/4 cup low fast sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
grated cheese
  Diced Avacado
 Tortilla chips

Directions:
Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the onion, celery, poblanos, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the ground turkey and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink about 2 minutes. Add the white beans, broth and oregano. Cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.

Mix 1/3 cup masa flour with 1 cup water and stir. Add to soup with the hominy and salt and more cayenne pepper, to taste, and continue cooking, partially covered, 10 minutes longer.
Ladle into individual bowls and top each serving with your choice of garnishes.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Salted Caramel Butter Bars

oh man... I bet you can't eat just one of these! I LOVE salted caramel buttery anything... These are addicting. The original recipe made a 13x 9 pan.... I cut the recipe in half and it made an 8x8 pan or 9x9 pan full. Plenty! these are a rich butter bar so you can't eat a big piece ... but a small bite size piece about 5 times during the day is PERFECT!
Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Butter Bars
 For the Crust: 
1 cup. butter, softened
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    3/4 cup powdered sugar
    1 tablespoon vanilla
    2 cups flour
     1/8 teaspoon salt

  For the Filling: 
Approx. 30 caramel candies (give or take a few), unwrapped
2 Tablespoons  milk or cream or half and half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 Tablespoon coarse sea salt

Instructions:
  Preheat oven to 325
  1. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Using mixer on medium speed, beat together until creamy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour and salt; mix until smooth.
  2. Line an 8x8 or 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper ( I like to leave the ends hanging over the edge for picking out of the pan to cut later) then spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Press one-half of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust.
  3. Place remaining crust mixture in the refrigerator
  4. Bake crust until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown approximately 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool about 10 minutes.
  5. While the bottom crust is baking and the remaining dough is chilling, make the caramel filling. Place the unwrapped caramels in a saucepan, add the cream and vanilla and cook and stir over low to medium heat until completely melted. (You can also use the microwave in short bursts to melt the caramel mixture. Just use a glass bowl instead of a saucepan)
  6. Pour the caramel filling over the crust. Evenly sprinkle sea salt over the caramel layer.
  7. Remove the remaining chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel. You may find the chilled dough doesn’t “crumble” that easily. If so, just place on a cutting board and chop into small size pieces.
  8. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden, about 25 – 30 minutes.
  9. Let cool, and then you can lift by the parchment paper out of the pan to a cutting board, then cut into squares.