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.

Monday, March 27, 2017

California Chicken Flatbread with Chipotle Ranch Sauce

This is the recipe I searched all over town for good flat bread and finally made my own (see previous recipe). This was so good and made the perfect individual size pizza. You could top any way you like but I like this combination. I followed it pretty close just did a variation for the Chipotle Ranch sauce. Yummy!

California Chicken Flatbread with Chipotle Ranch Sauce
INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 small flatbread or naan
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ to 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or any other favorite cheese such as monterey jack or pepperjack for a spicier version)
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and diced 
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced or diced
  • ½ red pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 chipotle pepper with a teaspoon of adobo sauce (I buy a small can in the Mexican section of the grocery store, use what I need for a recipe and freeze the rest)

INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Warm olive oil in a small saucepan, then add minced garlic, cook for about 30 seconds till fragrant. remove from heat. Next, dice chicken and set aside. I also dice my bacon, avocado, bell pepper and cilantro. 
  2. Brush flatbread with olive oil and garlic mixture. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Top with chicken, red peppers, and bacon. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet  and bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until cheese is completely melted.
  3. While flatbread is baking, I puree together ranch dressing and chipotle with adobo sauce in a small food processor.  (you can also add a dash or two of lime juice and pinch of sugar to the sauce) I place my chipotle ranch sauce in a squeeze bottle. When flatbread is finished baking , top with avocado, and cilantro. Drizzle with chipotle ranch dressing and serve immediately.
  4. Enjoy!

Flatbread

I love flat bread, so yummy to use as individual pizza, gyros, tacos or wraps or just what ever you would like. I had never made it before but ran across a flat bread pizza recipe I wanted to try. Do you think I could buy a decent flat bread at the grocery store? They all look too too thin or tasted like cardboard. I found a recipe here and pretty much followed it as written. Didn't take to long and it turned out delicious.

Home Made Flatbread
recipe courtesy of Mel's Kitchen Cafe

  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup warm water (about 100 degrees, warm but not hot to the touch)
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (about 100 degrees, warm but not hot to the touch)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups bread flour, more or less 

  • In a large bowl (or bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook), mix the yeast, sugar water, milk, oil, salt and one cup of the flour until well combined.
  • Gradually add the remaining flour until a soft dough is formed. It will pull away from the sides of the bowl to form a ball but still be slightly soft to the touch. Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes until it is soft and smooth.
  • Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap; let rise until doubled, about an hour or so.
  • Divide the dough into six or eight equal pieces. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let the dough pieces rest for 10-15 minutes (this helps relax the gluten so they are easier to roll out).
  • Working with one piece at a time, on a lightly greased or floured counter, roll the dough about 1/8-inch thick into a large circle, about 7-8 inches in diameter.
  • Heat a griddle or skillet to medium heat (I preheat my electric griddle to 300 degrees). When the griddle/skillet is hot, cook the flatbread for 2-3 minutes on the first side until it bubbles and puffs. Flip it over with a pair of tongs and cook on the second side until it is golden and spotty. If the skillet isn't hot enough, the bread can turn out dry (and won't bend easily) from being overcooked so look for the right amount of heat that will cook the flatbread in 2-3 minutes max per side.
  • Transfer the flatbread to a plate or work surface and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining dough (I can fit two pieces of flatbread on my electric griddle so I roll out two at a time), stacking each warm flatbread on top of the others and covering with the towel.
  • The flatbread can be made, cooked, cooled and frozen with great results. It is best served the day it is made but can be reheated gently the day after, if needed.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Prosciutto Egg Cups

I love these little egg cups.... fancy but way easy!! I made them for Valentines day and formed my red pepper into a heart (see pic at bottom of recipe) or just place the pepper strips on randomly for any weekend brunch!  I found the original recipe here, pretty much followed as written except I used chopped parsley instead of chives... I never have chives on hand. I also halved the original recipe since it made 12 egg cups... double this if you need more than six! Enjoy!

Prosciutto Egg Cups
  • 1 o 2 Tablespoons roasted red peppers (sliced from a jar)
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 6 slices thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray 6 cups in a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Line each muffin cup with 1 slice of prosciutto, cutting or folding in half if necessary to fit evenly into the pan.
  3. Crack an egg into each cup, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 7 minutes
  4. Remove from the oven and sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of parmesan cheese on top of each egg. Lay a couple roasted red pepper strips along with a few sprinkles of parsley on top. Return to the oven for another 7 minutes. This makes a set but runny egg... if you like yours firmer bake a little longer.
  5. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan.  Serve and enjoy!
    you can also form the pepper strips into a heart. :D

Apple Fritter Coffee Cake

My husband absolutely LOVES apple fritters..... I love baking surprises for him especially on Sunday mornings when I have the time. this recipe was originally supposed to be for apple bread.... but it was more cake looking to me and instead of using fresh apples I used a pint of my home canned apple pie filling.... It seems to me when I use fresh apples in recipes they never seem to get cooked all the way thru. I also thought this sounded more like a coffee cake than a bread. So delicious! Enjoy!

Apple Fritter Coffee Cake
Topping:
                1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cake:
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk or almond milk
      1 pint apple pie filling (I chopped in the can with two knives so the apple pieces were smaller)
Old-Fashioned Creme Glaze
 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
         1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
         1 or two dashes of salt
 1-3 tablespoons of milk or cream- (depending on thickness of glaze wanted)
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a 8-inch round cake pan and spray with non-stick spray or grease and flour it. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Set aside.
In another medium-sized bowl, beat white sugar and butter together using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended in; add in vanilla extract.
Combine & whisk flour and baking powder together in another bowl and add into creamed butter mixture and stir until blended.
Mix milk into batter until smooth.
Stir in your apple pie filling until mostly incorporated
Pour half the batter into the prepared cake pan;  then sprinkle half the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture over it.
Pour the remaining batter over cinnamon/sugar  layer and top with remaining the remaining brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Lightly pat brown sugar mixture into the batter. You can run a knife around through this now to make swirls if desired.
Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, approximately 25 to 30 minutes approximately. (ovens vary so cooking time varies-- may need a few minutes longer)
To make glaze, mix powdered sugar, vanilla, dash of salt and milk or cream together until well mixed.

Let cool for about 5-10 minutes and turn over onto serving plate. Drizzle with glaze. Serve while still warm! YUMMO