Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza

Yum. That's pretty much all I have to say.

Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza
Courtesy of Cooking Light


2 teaspoons sugar
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
12.38 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 3/4 cups), divided
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 precooked mild Italian chicken sausages (about 6 ounces), casings removed, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in olive oil.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 11.25 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) flour, cornmeal, and salt in a bowl. Stir flour mixture into yeast mixture until dough forms a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Roll dough into an 11 x 15–inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; press dough up sides of dish. Spread 1 1/2 cups cheese evenly over dough. Arrange chopped sausage evenly over cheese.

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Chop tomatoes; place in a sieve. Stir in oregano and basil; drain tomato mixture 10 minutes.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add mushrooms to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in bell peppers; cook for 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Arrange vegetables over sausage; spoon tomato mixture evenly over vegetables and sausage. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until crust browns and cheese bubbles. Cool 5 minutes before cutting.

Salted Caramels

That's it. I've done it. I've made it so that Jonathan will never buy me candy again. These are awesome. And ridiculously easy. A candy thermometer is essential, but honestly, it was easier than I ever thought it could be.

I didn't use fleur de sel because I didn't feel like spending a whole ton of money on salt. But kosher salt worked fabulously.

Also, the original recipe on is incorrect, as many of the reviewers note. I used the revised version that's used on the episode that has Ina making the caramels, and it worked. Enjoy these!!

Salted Caramels
A variation on this recipe by Ina Garten


1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fleur de sel (or kosher salt), plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan (or loaf pan) with parchment paper, then brush the paper lightly with oil, allowing the paper to drape over 2 sides.

In a deep saucepan (6 inches diameter by 4 1/2 inches deep) combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil until the caramel is a warm golden brown color. Don't stir - just swirl the pan to mix. Watch carefully, as it will burn quickly at the end!

In the meantime, bring the cream, butter, and 1 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a small pan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, set aside and keep warm.

When the caramelized sugar is the right color, slowly add the cream mixture to the caramel - it will boil up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer. Very carefully (it's hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate until firm.

When the caramels are cool, use the parchment paper to pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Starting at 1 end, roll the caramel up tightly until you've rolled up half of the sheet. Cut the sheet across and then roll the second half tightly. You will have 2 (1 by 8-inch) logs. Sprinkle both logs lightly with salt, cut each log in 8 pieces. Cut parchment papers in 6 by 4 1/2-inch squares and wrap each caramel in a paper, twisting the ends. Store in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Oreo" Cookies

I'm trying out various cookie recipes to possibly make for our upcoming holiday entertaining, and when I found this "Oreo" cookie recipe, I couldn't resist trying it.

They came out tasting good, but there is no way I would recommend trying to roll out the cookie dough. I chilled it overnight and ended up with dough that could be cut but wouldn't come off the parchment paper. So I did one batch with kind of reformed shapes that had been cut out and pried off the parchment paper, and then I just tried to eyeball-formed the rest of the dough into disks of relatively equal size. I actually liked how the eyeball-formed ones turned out better. The cut ones were smaller and tasted a bit burnt to me.

These don't taste exactly like Oreo cookies, but they're a decent replication, and I especially liked that I know exactly what went into them. No hydrogenated or high fructose anything. Definitely a plus.

"Oreo" Cookies
A variation on this recipe from Trois Pommes Patisserie, Brooklyn for Food Network Magazine


For the Dough:
1 1/3 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare the dough: Sift together the cocoa powder, flour and salt in a large bowl.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, incorporating each ingredient before adding the next. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Refrigerate dough, until firm, at least 1 hour or up to several days.

Using a melon baller or tablespoon measure, scoop out even amounts of dough and form into disks. Place the cookies about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Bake the cookies until they are set and slightly darker around the edges, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Using a mixer, cream the butter and shortening until fluffy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla.

Flip half of the cookies upside down and top each with 1 level tablespoon of filling. Press the remaining cookies on top to make sandwiches.

Black-Bean Salsa Chili

This was a wonderful thing to have on a chilly night. The garnish really does give it a whole other dimension. And it went very well with the Honey Cornbread Muffins I'd made before.

My only modifications were that I used olive oil rather than cooking spray, and I used 1 tablespoon of chili powder rather than the 1 1/2 that's called for in the original recipe. I don't think the additional 1/2 tablespoon would have made it too spicy, so I may have been unnecessarily cautious.

Black-Bean Salsa Chili
Courtesy of Cooking Light


2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
Cooking spray
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 sweet hickory-smoked bacon slices, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups mild salsa
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Combine 1 1/2 cups beans, 2/3 cup water, and sugar in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine bean puree and remaining beans in a bowl.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add turkey; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove turkey from pan.

Add onion, bell peppers, and bacon to pan; cook 5 minutes or until bacon and onion are lightly browned. Return turkey to pan. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, and crushed red pepper to pan; stir well to coat. Stir in bean mixture, salsa, tomato paste, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine sour cream, cilantro, and juice in a small bowl. Serve chili with sour cream mixture.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpkin Oat Muffins

I had some leftover pumpkin in my fridge and a very cold and rainy afternoon to get through without falling asleep (as primary caregiver, it's usually a good idea to be conscious), so I decided to warm up the house with some pumpkin muffins I've been wanting to try for over a year. I haven't tried them yet since they're still cooling, but I wanted to get this recipe up as soon as possible since I just posted the photo on Facebook. I'll be back with my verdict later...

Edited to add: Delicious. Perfect for a snack. It could probably even be considered healthy if you left off the crumble topping. But I don't know if I would since it's just too tasty.

Pumpkin Oat Muffins
Courtesy of Taste of Home


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon cold butter

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Combine the egg, pumpkin, milk and oil; add to the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in oats and raisins.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour and pie spice; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle 1 rounded teaspoonful over each muffin. Bake at 375ºF for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.

Prairie-Rubbed Spiced Brined Roast Chicken

Now, making a roast chicken always makes the house smell fabulous... But the one I made yesterday was particular awesome. I recently bought a new roasting pan from Kohl's. It was from the Food Network brand, so I found a very interesting roast turkey recipe included in the packaging. I didn't want to try it on a full turkey since that we're moving into the turkey-eating season, so I thought I'd try it with a chicken. I was a little nervous about some of the flavor combinations being a bit too strong, but I'm so glad I gave it a shot.

Wow! It was flavorful, and because I brined it, it was so moist. I made a pan gravy to go with it, but honestly, it didn't need it. Though it certain was a delicious addition.

I served the chicken and gravy with some roasted vegetables (Enough veggies for everyone eating, cut up into equally-sized pieces, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, and any dried herbs you want, and then roasted at 425ºF for 18-20 minutes). I added some turnips as an experiment, and we were really pleased with the results. They had enough of a starchy quality that we didn't miss another starch at all. Though I'm sure a little bread would have been good for some sopping up of the gravy and other drippings.

I'm going to post the recipe I used, so it's a variation on the original roast turkey one. If you're interested in the turkey recipe for your Thanksgiving Day feast, let me know, and I'll post it.

I used the butter that was called for in the recipe to brush on the chicken, but I wonder if maybe oil would have worked better. The skin was not crisp. Though I think perhaps roasting the chicken tented with aluminum foil may have contributed to that. I'm going to try not tenting the chicken next time (I don't usually tent my other roast chickens, just thought I'd try what the recipe called for this time) and see if that helps. If it doesn't, then I'm going back to oil.

The Prairie Rub makes a lot, so you'll have it available for future chickens and any other recipe into which you feel like tossing it.

Oh, and I can't seem to ever remember to take a picture of my roast chickens. I promise to try harder to remember next time.

Prairie-Rubbed Spiced Brined Roast Chicken

For the brine:
10 cups water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 (3- to 4-pound) chicken, excess fat trimmed and giblets removed

Before roasting the chicken:
1 medium onion, quartered
1 head garlic, halved
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Prairie Rub:
3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons dried minced garlic
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon dried minced orange peel
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Brine: A day before serving, heat 4 cups of water, salt and sugar in a stockpot, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from heat, add remaining water and stir. Cool to room temperature. Lower chicken into brine. Cover and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.

Rub: Mix all ingredients in a bowl. If you have one, pulse mixture in a spice grinder in a few batches until finely ground (It's not a big deal if you don't). Seal in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 months.

Heat oven to 350ºF. Drain and pat chicken very dry inside and out. Place onion, garlic and bay leaves inside the cavity. Set bird breast-side up on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Brush with butter and spread entire bird with enough Prairie Rub to cover evenly.

Roast chicken for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until an instant-read thermometer registers at least 165ºF in the thigh of the bird. Remove the chicken from the oven and set aside to rest 20 minutes.


Roast Chicken Pan Gravy

Once bird has been removed from roasting rack, pour drippings into a heat-proof measuring cup. Let cool long enough for the fat to rise to the top. Skim off 2 tablespoons, add back to the roasting pan, and discard the rest of the separated fat. Combine the remaining drippings with 1 1/2 cups chicken broth.

Place roasting pan over medium-high heat (you'll need both burners turned on). Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Stir in 2 tablespoons of flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in drippings and broth, bring it to a boil, and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pumpkin Pasta with Spinach Salad and Pumpkin Waffles A La Mode

Another night with my brother-in-law over for dinner, so I decided to go a little Iron Chef on him and have a secret ingredient running throughout the meal... PUMPKIN! (If you've seen the show, just imagine me arching my eyebrow and presenting you with a table full of pumpkins in a overly dramatic fashion. If you haven't seen the show, I promise, I'm not completely insane.)

I've tried the variation on the pumpkin pasta recipe I made last night from Rachael Ray's 365 Repeats. The big difference between the two is that the recipe from the book has mushrooms added to it, whereas the one I found online does not. I can't decide which one I like better since they're both really delicious. And the accompanying salad from the recipe I found online is one of my favorites. The dressing is the one I always make when I have salads at home.

And pumpkin waffles... How could you go wrong with that? I made a double batch and have the extras in my freezer for future breakfasts. But last night, we had them for dessert with some of my vanilla ice cream on top. Yum!


Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage
Courtesy of Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Romano or Parmigiano, for grating

Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Sauté 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.

Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.

Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.


Spinach Salad with Apple and Red Onion
Courtesy of Rachael Ray

1 pound triple-washed spinach, de-stemmed
1 small Golden Delicious apple, quartered, cored, and sliced
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grain mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Coarse salt and black pepper

Place spinach, apple, and onion in a salad bowl. Place oil, vinegar, mustard and honey in a small plastic container and fit lid on container. Shake dressing to combine, 1 minute. Pour dressing over salad, toss, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.


Pumpkin Waffles
Courtesy of Taste of Home


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, combine the eggs, milk, pumpkin and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until combined.

Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Apple Bread

This is a recipe from my in-laws' church's cookbook. I've tweaked it a bit over the years, and it's become one of our favorites. You can make it as desserty as you want it to be. Just add or omit the cinnamon-sugar.

Apple Bread


1 cup shortening
2 cups + 4 teaspoons sugar, divided
4 eggs
4 cups flour
2 cups apple, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat. Stir in apples and flour. Mix milk, baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Add to dry mixture. Pour batter into 2 loaf pans.

Mix together remaining sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over batter in pans. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Super Apple Pie

Super apple pie indeed! I love the flavor of it, and it smells phenomenal while it's baking. Alton Brown is a genius.

While I was fine without the pie bird thingy (I found one on Amazon, but I haven't gotten it yet), the 2-piece tart pan that the apple pie recipe calls for is truly genius, and I highly recommend getting one if you don't have one already. Beautiful and easily-cut pie slices just make the presentation that much better. And, in my opinion, vanilla ice cream is essential (I made my vanilla).

I could not find the grains of paradise or the tapioca flour that the pie recipe calls for, so I used the substitution of caraway seeds that I had seen Alton suggest on his show. And I saw that a good substitution for tapioca flour was regular flour mixed with cornstarch.

Super Apple Pie
A variation on this recipe by Alton Brown


For the crust:
6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ounces vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 to 7 tablespoons applejack
12 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 2 3/4 cups, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

For the filling:
3 to 3 1/2 pounds apples, mixture of Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn and Golden Delicious, about 6 large apples
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons apple jelly
1 tablespoon apple cider
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise (or caraway seeds)

For the crust:

Place the butter, shortening and applejack into the refrigerator for 1 hour.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add the butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until the texture looks mealy. Add the shortening and pulse another 3 to 4 times until incorporated.

Remove the lid of the food processor and sprinkle in 5 tablespoons of the applejack. Replace the lid and pulse 5 times. Add more applejack as needed, and pulse again until the mixture holds together when squeezed. Weigh the dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

For the filling:

Peel and core the apples. Slice into 1/2-inch thick wedges. Toss all of the apples with 1/4 cup of the sugar, place in a colander set over a large bowl and allow to drain for 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer the drained liquid to a small saucepan, place over medium heat and reduce to 2 tablespoons. Set aside to cool. Toss the apples with the remaining sugar, flour, cornstarch, jelly, cider, lime juice, salt and grains of paradise (or caraway seeds).

For assembling and baking the pie:

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator. Place the dough onto a lightly floured piece of waxed paper. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and roll out into a 12-inch circle. Place into a 9 1/2 to 10-inch tart pan that is 2-inches deep. Gently press the dough into the sides of the pan, crimping and trimming the edges as necessary.

Place the apples into the unbaked pie shell in concentric circles starting around the edges, working towards the center and forming a slight mound in the center of the pie. Pour over any liquid that remains in the bowl. Roll out the second pie dough as the first. Place this dough over the apples, cutting a hole in the top. Press together the edges of the dough around the rim of the pie. Brush the top crust with the reduced juice everywhere except around the edge of pie. Trim any excess dough. Place the pie on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake on the floor of the oven for 30 minutes. Transfer to the lower rack of the oven and continue to bake another 20 minutes or until the apples are cooked through but not mushy. Remove to a rack and cool a minimum of 4 hours or until almost room temperature.

Beer-Roasted Pork, Mashed Potatoes, and Roasted Vegetables

Wow! Delicious! What a fun Fall meal. I had to use a pork roast instead of the shoulder the recipe calls for since I didn't need the 12-pound cut I could find at the grocery store. This significantly cut down on the cook time (it only really took about 30 minutes in the oven), so be advised if you need to change your cut.

After I took the pork out of the oven to rest, I put the veggies back in with some of the drippings to get them roasted up a bit more.


Beer-Roasted Pork Shoulder
A variation on this recipe from Everyday with Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon caraway seeds
Salt and pepper
One 4-to 5-pound pork shoulder, thick skin removed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
1 carrot, scrubbed and chopped
1 rib celery with leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
Two 14.5-ounce cans beef broth
1 bottle dark beer
3 to 4 tablespoons flour

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Mix the caraway seeds with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper and season the pork shoulder with the spice mixture.

In a medium roasting pan or large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Place the pork in the pan and brown on all sides, turning occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes total. Add the onions, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to caramelize, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the beef broth to the pan and pour the beer over the meat. Transfer to the oven and roast, basting occasionally with the juices, until the center of the pork registers 155ºF on an instant-read thermometer, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Transfer the meat to a platter, tent loosely with foil and let stand.

Strain the pan juices into a large heatproof bowl. Return veggies to the pan and continue roasting until caramelized. Skim the fat off the top of the pan juices, then pour the juices into a saucepan. Stir the flour into 1/4 cup water to form a paste. Whisk the paste into the pan juices and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the pork shoulder and serve with the pan gravy.


Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

Potatoes of your choice, peeled and chopped
Milk or cream
Salt and pepper
Onions and/or shallots, sliced

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add onions/shallots and cook until tender and deeply caramelized.

Add potatoes to a pot and cover with water. Bring water to boil and cook until potatoes are fork-tender. Mash with butter, milk/cream, salt and pepper.

Orange Chicken

In our pre-kid days, we used to go to a nearby mall where they had a food court when we were feeling like a quick meal. 9 times out of 10, I would head over to Panda Express and get some orange chicken. It's been years since I've had that orange chicken, and when I saw this recipe on my favorite crockpot blog, I decided to give it a try. It was a good recreation! It was especially delicious with some Asian-style roasted broccoli (I tossed the broccoli in soy sauce and sesame oil before roasting it) on the side.

Orange Chicken
Courtesy of


1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken, cut in 2-inch chunks
1/2 cup flour
Olive oil, for browning the chicken
1 tablespoon kosher salt (If you're using any other kind of salt, use a little less.)
6 ounces (1/2 can) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed (Opt for little-to-no pulp. The pulp can taste a bit bitter when cooked)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons ketchup

Use a 4-quart slow cooker for best results. Dredge the chicken pieces with the flour, and shake off the excess. Go ahead and throw away any remaining flour, you won't need it. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on the stove and brown the chicken on all sides. There is no need to fully cook it, just sear it enough for the flour to stick and get a nice coating.

Plop the chicken pieces into your slow cooker. In a small mixing bowl, combine the orange juice concentrate, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt, and ketchup. Taste. If you'd like the chicken to be a bit sweeter, add a touch more sugar. Pour sauce mixture evenly over the chicken, and toss gingerly to coat.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or on high for 3 to 4. Serve over white or brown rice.

Fall Minestrone

Ever since I discovered this recipe, I've had to make it every Fall. It's a hearty soup that definitely needs a bit of extra stock/broth if you want more of a soup than a stew. And it's especially fantastic with toasted garlic bread.

Fall Minestrone
A variation on this recipe by Rachael Ray


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 portobello mushroom caps, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, chopped with greens
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 stems of fresh rosemary
8 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 small bunch of kale or chard, trimmed of tough ends and veins and coarsely chopped (4 to 5 cups)
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes or chunky-style crushed tomatoes
1 quart chicken stock or broth
2 cups vegetable stock or broth (or more if you want to make it soupier)
A piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
1 cup ditalini pasta
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to pass at the table

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the pancetta and brown for 2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, mushrooms, onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the mushrooms are lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper and add the rosemary stems and the sage to the pot. Add the zucchini and chopped greens and stir them into the pot until all the greens wilt down, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the beans, tomatoes, stocks and cheese rind, then place a lid on the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Uncover and add the ditalini pasta. Cook the soup for 7 to 8 minutes at a rolling simmer, uncovered, until the pasta is al dente, with a bite to it. Remove the pot from the heat. Remove the rind and then now bare rosemary stems (the leaves fall off into the soup as it cooks). Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and top with grated cheese. Pass the crusty bread at the table.

Creamy Arugula and Lettuce Soup with Goat Cheese and Crostata with Mushrooms and Pancetta

This is fresh and cozy all at the same time.

The crostata calls for leftovers vegetables, but I just sautéed up some mushrooms and shallots in a little olive oil.

Creamy Arugula and Lettuce Soup with Goat Cheese
Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3/4 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup chopped, about 2 ounces, assorted lettuce (butter, red leaf, green leaf)
2 cups (2 ounces) arugula or spinach leaves
1/4 cup cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 ounces goat cheese, sliced

In a medium pot warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until tender and starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the potatoes and the stock. Bring the stock to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer, covered, until the potatoes are almost tender, about 20 minutes. Add the arugula and lettuce to the pot and continue simmering, uncovered until the greens are tender, another 2 to 3 minutes.

Blend the ingredients together until smooth, either using an immersion blender or a standard blender. If using a standard blender, be careful to blend slowly at first with a kitchen towel held tight to the top of the blender lid. Blending hot ingredients can cause the lid to blow off. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes and greens to a blender. Pour in enough of the stock to cover the vegetables.

Pour the blended soup back into the pot with the remaining stock. Add the cream, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and keep warm.

Pour the soup into 4 serving bowls. Top each soup with 1/2-ounce sliced goat cheese. Serve immediately.

* When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.


Crostata with Mushrooms and Pancetta
Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons ice water
2 ounces diced pancetta
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or rosemary, oregano, parsley, or a combination)
1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover side dish vegetables (like sauteed mushrooms and shallots)
1/2 cup grated cheese (try a combo of smoked mozzarella and fontina)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1 large egg, lightly beaten

In a food processor combine the flour, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is finely chopped and the mixture resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl combine the lemon juice and mascarpone. Add the mascarpone mixture to the food processor and pulse a few times. Add the ice water and run the machine just until the mixture is moist and crumbly, but does not form a ball. Do not over mix. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Press into a disk, cover, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cook the pancetta in a small saute pan over medium heat until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the herbs and stir. Transfer the pancetta, herbs, and the pan juices to a medium bowl. Add the leftover vegetables, grated cheeses, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Toss to combine and set aside.

Place the chilled dough on parchment paper. Roll the dough out into a 12-inch wide circle about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the vegetables out in the center of the dough leaving a 2-inch border. Sprinkle the vegetable mixture with Parmesan. Fold the border up and over the vegetables forming a crust. Using a pastry brush, brush some of the egg over the crust. Transfer the parchment paper and crostata to a baking sheet. Bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Slice and serve.

Peanut Butter AND Nutella Ice Cream

I wanted to make some ice cream the other day, but I didn't have enough eggs to make vanilla or enough Nutella to make Nutella ice cream. But I had some peanut butter, so I thought I'd take my Nutella ice cream recipe and just substitute peanut butter for what Nutella I didn't have. It ended up being about 1/4 Nutella and 3/4 peanut butter... and it was delicious. Jonathan and I couldn't stop eating it. And that's why it's now gone.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A new version of roast chicken

So we've started having my brother-in-law over for dinner every Monday night, and the first night we had him over, I decided to make Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Chicken. And it was pretty perfect. It made the house smell great, the vegetables were fantastic, the chicken was moist. She really does know how to make a mean roast chicken.

I had watched her make this on her show, and she used slightly different vegetables than she puts in her recipe. So I added the parsnips that I saw her add on the show and then added some potatoes that I had. She also put the vegetables back in the oven to crisp them up a bit while the chicken rested. I felt like the potatoes definitely made it a full meal, all in one pan. Yum!

Perfect Roast Chicken
A variation on this recipe from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)



1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
4-6 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks (peeling is optional)
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Place the onions, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Put the vegetables back in the oven while chicken rests to crisp them up a bit. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Cheesy Stuffed Shells

This dish has sneaky protein. The tofu takes on a very similar texture as the cottage cheese, so you don't even notice it in there. And with all the veggies and other cheese, it's a pretty wonderful dish. And very kid-friendly. I couldn't believe how easily we got Benjamin to eat this! And he wanted it night after night until it was all gone. Woo!

Cheesy Stuffed Shells
Courtesy of Melissa d'Arabian


For the Sauce:
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Freshly ground pepper

For the Shells:
1 12-ounce box jumbo pasta shells
8 ounces silken tofu, mashed
1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Mist a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot, zucchini, onion and celery and sauté until soft but not brown, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the basil, oregano, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, prepare the shells: Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 8 minutes; drain. Mix the tofu, spinach, cottage cheese, Parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, the egg and garlic in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Spread about 1 cup of the sauce in the dish. Stuff the cheese mixture into the shells and place in the baking dish, open-side up. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

We've been dealing with some very un-Fall-like weather. Humid and warm. I'm refusing to put on my capris again, so to cope with the rise in temperature and still have a little taste of Fall, I made some pumpkin pie ice cream.

This recipe has the traditional pumpkin pie spices. Jonathan thinks the spices take away from the pumpkin flavor a bit, but it's still really good. I think the first time we had this ice cream, we paired it with some angel food cake, which is definitely a fabulous combination.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
Courtesy of Nick Holcomb 2002 for's Ice Cream Cook-Off Competition

4 cups half and half
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 vanilla beans
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
7.5 ounces canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all dairy into a saucepan along with the sugar. Split and scrape the vanilla beans into the dairy and sugar mixture. Bring to 170ºF to dissolve sugar, then let cool at room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.

While dairy is heating, grate nutmeg into pumpkin and add the other spices. Mix in a bowl to combine and chill overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, take pumpkin and dairy mixture out. Filter dairy mixture to remove large vanilla bean pieces. Add some of the dairy mixture to the pumpkin and mix well to loosen it up. Then mix both the dairy and pumpkin together.

Freeze in your ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer's instructions (about 25 minutes). Let the ice cream harden for at least two hours unless serving all immediately.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Great Pumpkin Cookies

Fall is right around the corner, so I had to make these cookies. They're some of my favorites. Hearty, soft, and delicious. And definitely a must for my favorite time of year to cook and bake.

Great Pumpkin Cookies
Courtesy of Jean Rock (my grandmother-in-law)


2 cups flour
1 cup quick oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter, gradually add sugars, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix well.

Alternate additions of dry ingredients and pumpkin, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Mix well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using ice cream scoop or 1/4-cup measuring cup, drop dough onto baking sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until cookies are firm and lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet; cool on racks.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Almost Like Thanksgiving" Soup

It's getting cooler outside, so I'm starting to look at my soup recipes again. And I couldn't be happier. I love to make soup. And this soup is particularly cozy and homey and awesome. My mom found this great soup cookbook last year from Cuisine At Home Magazine. I looked through it, found the recipes I wanted to try, and she photocopied them for me. Looking at the website, it looks like they seem to put out several different kinds of cookbooks on a yearly basis.

So I've made this soup once before and used all the called-for ingredients. This time, I thought I'd see if leaving out the turkey would make a huge difference. But I waited a little too long to make the recipe and found that my mushrooms had gone bad. So while I didn't miss the turkey, I did miss the mushrooms. Still a fabulous soup. So very satisfying. And a very good after Thanksgiving option.

"Almost Like Thanksgiving" Soup
A variation on the recipe from the 2008 Cuisine At Home Soups, Stews, & Chilies


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups leeks, sliced
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 cups button mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup sherry
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
(2 cups cooked turkey, cubed, if using)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste
Minced fresh parsley

Stuffing dumplings:
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups bread, diced, staled
2 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/4 chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

To make soup: Sweat leeks, carrot, and celery in butter in large saucepan over medium heat until soft, 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high.

Add mushrooms and garlic, and sauté 3 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle flour, thyme, nutmeg, and pepper over vegetables; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Deglaze with sherry, simmer until nearly evaporated, then stir in broth and cream (and turkey, if using). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes; season with salt. Garnish with parsley.

To make stuffing dumplings: Preheat oven to 425ºF; line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray.

Combine milk and eggs in a large bowl. Add bread and soak until nearly all liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally; set aside.

Sauté bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 minutes; drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Sauté onion and celery in drippings until soft, 3 minutes, then fold into bread mixture with reserved bacon and remaining ingredients. Form dumplings on prepared baking sheet using an ice cream scoop or spoon, squeezing out excess moisture if necessary. Bake until dumplings brown, 20 minutes, then serve in soup.

Vegetable Shepherd's Pie

Okay, so I haven't actually tried this yet, but Jonathan says it's very tasty. And it smells wonderful. I'll be back later to give my verdict, but until then, here's the recipe... Can I just say how very happy I am that it's starting to get cool enough again for these hearty, warm meals? Woo!

Vegetable Shepherd's Pie
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine


6 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 bunch baby turnips, halved or quartered if large (I used a medium turnip that I peeled and diced)
6 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, leaves chopped (stems reserved)
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped veggie burgers or vegetarian protein crumbles
2/3 cup milk or half-and-half
Grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling (optional -- but I highly recommend it)

Preheat the broiler. Cover the potatoes with water in a pot; season with salt, cover and boil until the potatoes are fork-tender, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a stovetop casserole dish or shallow enamel pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, turnips and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables brown, 8 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid from the potatoes to the casserole dish. Lower the heat and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Tie the parsley stems with twine and add to the casserole. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 8 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons butter and the chopped veggie burgers and warm through, 5 minutes. Remove the parsley stems and stir in the chopped parsley. Keep warm.

Drain the potatoes and mash with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and the milk; season with salt and pepper and spoon over the casserole. Sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired. Broil until golden brown, 5 minutes.

Noodles with Peanut Sauce

We'd tried a noodles with peanut sauce recipe before (though I don't think I put it on here), but it was way too peanut buttery. It felt like we were having a little noodles with our peanut butter. But this recipe is a lot more mild. I think it could use a few more vegetables, but I suppose that's why they suggest serving it with steamed broccoli. I ended up roasting our broccoli, which was a very lovely side dish.

The original recipe calls for chicken and chicken broth, but I vegetarianized it by leaving it out and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Noodles with Peanut Sauce
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light


5 ounces uncooked Japanese curly noodles (chucka soba)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
1 1/2 cups red bell pepper strips
1 tablespoon bottled ground fresh ginger
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped green onions, divided

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.

Combine broth and next 5 ingredients (broth through crushed red pepper) in a bowl; stir well with a whisk.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Combine peppers and noodles in a large bowl.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 15 seconds. Stir in broth mixture; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the broth mixture and 1/4 cup green onions to noodle mixture; toss well. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup green onions.

Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Beans and Rice

I must be on a beans and rice kick... Though this is a vegetarian variation on a chicken dish, so I wasn't sure what else to call it.

This is very good and very easy. Good leftovers too.

Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Beans and Rice
A variation on this recipe from Kraft Foods


2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
2 tablespoons flour
1 each green and red pepper, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
1 cup frozen corn
1 15-oz can black beans, drained
1 1/2 cups salsa
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup Mexican-style finely shredded cheese
Green onions, sliced

Combine first 6 ingredients in crock pot. Cover with lid.

Cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours (or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours).

Stir just before serving over rice; top with shredded cheese and green onions.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

Eh. Not wonderful. It just doesn't have a lot of flavor beyond the spiciness of the sausage. So if I had used a milder sausage (I used Andouille), it pretty much wouldn't have tasted like much of anything. Oh well. You can't win them all.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice
Courtesy of Cooking Light


3 cups water
1 cup dried red kidney beans
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 (14-ounce) package turkey, pork, and beef smoked sausage, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Combine first 12 ingredients in an electric slow cooker. Cover with lid; cook on high heat for 5 hours. Discard bay leaf; stir in salt. Serve over rice; sprinkle servings evenly with green onions.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Squash-Stuffed Cannelloni with Roasted-Shallot Sauce

This is an extremely labor-intensive recipe, but the smell alone is worth the effort. It was also a lovely peak into Fall on this very warm Summer day.

I can't believe I'm actually going to say this, given my love of it... but... We didn't think the bacon was necessary. It actually took away from the other flavors a bit. So I don't think I'll add it the next time I make it. And I think it could have used a little more cheese. So I'm writing down the recipe I used, but I'm definitely doing some tweaking next time.

I also have a ton of leftover filling. I'm thinking maybe some butternut squash raviolis? Stuffed shells? Hmmmm...

Squash-Stuffed Cannelloni with Roasted-Shallot Sauce
Courtesy of Cooking Light


10 cup (1/2-inch) cubed butternut squash (about 4 pounds)
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 slices applewood smoked bacon, chopped
1/2 pound shallots, peeled and halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Remaining ingredients:
16 cooked lasagna noodles
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
1/4 cup chopped blanched hazelnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

To prepare filling, combine first 3 ingredients on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with butter; toss to coat. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Place squash mixture in a large bowl; mash with a potato masher. Stir in sour cream, 1/4 cup half-and-half, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

To prepare sauce, cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan; set bacon aside. Add 1/2 pound shallots and garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes or until browned. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place pan on stovetop over medium-high heat. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons half-and-half, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Spread 1/4 cup filling over each noodle, leaving a 1/2-inch border on each short end. Beginning with a short end, roll up noodles jelly-roll fashion. Place rolls, seam sides down, in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pour sauce over noodles; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is golden. Sprinkle with bacon and hazelnuts.

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Shells and Plum Upside-Down Cake

We were having some friends over for dinner, so I thought I'd make something special. I had made a variation of this stuffed shells recipe before, but I found that the ground turkey the recipe calls for didn't really bring anything to it. So I decided to substitute spinach for the ground turkey. And it came out really well. Jonathan said it was the best version of this recipe that I had done.

I had also found a seasonal desserts section in the most recent Real Simple Magazine. So I couldn't help myself... I had to make the Plum Upside-Down Cake. It came out well, and it looked beautiful. I was only disappointed by the fact that the electricity went off almost immediately after we started dinner, so I wasn't able to serve the cake with the whipped cream or the coffee I was planning on making. As you see from the picture though, I was able to make the whipped cream, and Jonathan was able to enjoy the cake in its most delicious form. Yummmmmmm.

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce
A variation on this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis


1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (recommended: Barilla)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 8 to 10-ounce package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and wrung dry
1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, recipe follows
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, artichoke hearts, and spinach; stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the cooled vegetable mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Arrabbiata Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups jarred or fresh marinara sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use.


Plum Upside-Down Cake
Courtesy of Real Simple


1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan, at room temperature
4 firm, ripe plums, each cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup plus 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the plums and 1/4 cup of the sugar and cook, tossing, until the sugar dissolves and the juices from the plums become syrupy, 3 to 4 minutes. Arrange the plums in the cake pan in slightly overlapping concentric circles, starting from the outside. Spoon any pan juices over the top.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

With an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup of the butter and 2/3 cup of the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, sour cream, and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated.

Pour the batter over the plums and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 1 hour. Place a large plate over the cake pan and invert the cake onto the plate.

Spicy Black Bean-Corn Casserole

I received a new Cooking Light cookbook from my in-laws for my birthday. It's specifically for slow cooker recipes... So I really shouldn't have been shocked when my father-in-law disappeared after giving me the cookbook and reappeared with a new slow cooker. They have always been very generous about gifts, but when I started to show a love of cooking, they've shown extra generosity in the form of kitchen supplies. They joke that they're reaping the benefits.

This was my first recipe in my new slow cooker. I was extremely pleased -- with the slow cooker and the meal. I made a couple of changes, freshened things up a bit. For example, I used fresh jalapeño peppers in place of canned green chiles. And since I needed fresh corn for another recipe, I just got an extra ear, cut off the corn kernels and then chopped up some red and green peppers in place of the canned version. I also went with an egg instead of the egg substitute.

I can't find the original recipe online, but if you're interested in seeing it and finding lots of other new slow cooker recipes, this is a great cookbook.

Spicy Black Bean-Corn Casserole
A variation on a recipe from Cooking Light Cook's Essential Recipe Collection: Slow Cooker


3 tablespoons diced jalapeños, divided
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ear corn, kernels removed
1/2 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce
1 egg
1 8.5-ounce package corn muffin mix
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons chopped bottled roasted red peppers
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Mexican blend or Cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Thinly sliced fresh cilantro

Place 2 tablespoons jalapeños and next 6 ingredients in slow cooker; stir well. Cover and cook on LOW 4 hours.

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon jalapeños, egg, muffin mix, milk, and roasted red peppers in a bowl. Spoon batter evenly over bean mixture in cooker. Cover and cook 1 hour or until corn bread is done.

Sprinkle cheese over corn bread. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Top each serving with sour cream and sprinkle with cilantro.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thai Corn Chowder and Basil Parmesan Biscuits

We woke up yesterday morning to a very dreary scene -- lots and lots of rain. It was the perfect morning to sleep in and potentially sleep the day away. But alas, when small children are involved, there is no rest for the weary.

So given the cooler than usual and dreary conditions, I thought a soup and biscuits dinner sounded like a wonderful idea. Unfortunately, as the afternoon progressed and I started my preparations for the meal, the weather became warm and sticky. So I ended up sweating through the rest of my preparations and the meal itself.

BUT... The meal was delicious. The chowder was really flavorful and the biscuits, though they weren't necessarily supposed to be paired with the chowder, came out great and tied in with the basil in the soup beautifully. The original biscuit recipe actually calls for purple basil, which I think is supposed to have a bit more of a mild flavor, but I couldn't find it, so I just used regular basil. Though maybe I should have used Thai basil in pairing these two recipes... Hmmmm...

The meal was quite labor-intensive. But I'm sure that was felt a bit more with the growing heat and the fact that it was the second meal that I had made that day. I'll be sure to wait until it's a bit cooler and less busy when I make it again. But I will make it again.

Thai Corn Chowder
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine


4 ears corn
2 cups diced red-skinned potatoes (about 12 ounces)
3/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, smashed
8 black peppercorns
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into thirds (optional)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt
1 red jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
8 fresh basil leaves
8 fresh mint leaves
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime, plus lime wedges for garnish
1 tomato, seeded and diced

Cut off the corn kernels; set aside. Combine the cobs, 1 cup potatoes, 1/2 cup scallions, 1 tablespoon ginger, the garlic, peppercorns and 5 cups water in a pot. Smash the lemongrass, if using, and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the broth is finished, melt the butter over medium-high heat in a separate pot. Add the remaining 1 cup potatoes, season with salt and cook until slightly soft, 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon ginger and the jalapeño; cook 1 minute. Add the corn kernels; cook until the vegetables are just tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Strain the broth, pressing out as much liquid as possible; discard the solids. Add 2 cups of the strained broth to the potatoes and corn; bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, basil and mint; season with salt. Stir until simmering. Remove from the heat and add the radishes, cilantro and lime juice. Top with diced tomato and the remaining 1/4 cup scallions and serve with lime wedges.


Basil Parmesan Biscuits
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light


9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2/3 cup fat-free milk
1 large egg
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in basil and cheese. Combine milk and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.

The dough will be very sticky. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap. Wrap it up tightly and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight. The longer you chill it, the easier it will be to work with when you're ready to cut out the biscuits.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface; pat to 1-inch-thick circle. Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter into 12 biscuits. Place biscuits on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool.

Fusilli with Roasted Tomato Sauce and Italian Sausage

I decided to make this pasta dish this week, but to make it a bit more of a significant meal, I added some Italian sausage. Kind of selfishly too, I may add. I've been dying for some sausage, for some odd reason.

The house smelled fantastic while the tomatoes were roasting, but despite following the directions exactly, I think I may have roasted them for too long. By the time I pulled them out, they were about a quarter of their original size and there was very little flesh left to use for the sauce. So the dish ended up feeling a bit weak. Thank goodness I used super tasty fresh Italian sausage with sun-dried tomatoes and basil that we had picked up at Booth's Corner.

I'm wondering if maybe I used a tomato or two more that maybe that would make a difference. My pan was big enough for at least one more... Hmmmm... Maybe I will make this dish again.

Fusilli with Roasted Tomato Sauce and Italian Sausage
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 large tomatoes (about 3 1/2 pounds), cored, cut in half crosswise, and seeded
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 1/2 cups hot cooked long fusilli (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Basil sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Brush a jelly roll pan or shallow roasting pan with 1 tablespoon oil. Arrange tomatoes in a single layer, cut sides down, in pan. Arrange crushed garlic around tomatoes; sprinkle tomatoes with thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Bake at 400ºF for 30 minutes; drain juices from pan. Bake an additional 30 minutes. Remove tomatoes from pan; cool slightly. Discard juice and crushed garlic. Peel and coarsely chop tomatoes.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until no longer pink. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Reduce heat in pan to medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil, or as much as is needed to keep the rest of the ingredients from sticking and/or burning. Add chopped garlic, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chopped tomatoes and basil, and cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add pasta, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese; garnish with basil sprigs, if desired.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Banana Bread Muffins

We invited Jillie's friend, Sophie, over for a playdate this morning, so I decided that we were in need of some goodies. So I took the banana bread recipe from The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book by Susan Westmoreland and made it into muffins. I overfilled the first batch a bit, but other than, they came out great.

Banana Bread Muffins


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 medium)
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease or place muffin cups in a 12-count muffin pan.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In small bowl, combine bananas, milk, and vanilla.

In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Reduce speed to low; alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Beat just until blended.

Using an ice cream scooper, fill each section of the muffin pan about 3/4 of the way full. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Immediately remove muffins from pan. Serve warm, or cool on wire rack to serve later.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Ice Cream

Basically, old-fashioned here means using eggs in the recipe. It makes a very rich ice cream which is always good. I'm thinking it will be particularly tasty with some homemade chocolate sauce on top. Yum!

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Ice Cream
Courtesy of Tracey Seaman


2 cups hulled and halved strawberries (about 12 ounces)
3/4 cup sugar
Ice Water
1 pint half-and-half
2 large eggs yolks

In a medium glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; mash with a fork. Set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water.

In a medium saucepan, bring the half-and-half and remaining 1/2 cup sugar to a simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium heat. In a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then gradually whisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until steaming hot and frothy, about 3 minutes.

Strain the custard into the bowl of strawberries. Let stand, whisking occasionally, until cool.

Using an ice cream maker, process the cooled custard according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuna Salad Lasagna Stack

I think this dish confused my mouth a bit when I first tried it. It looks like lasagna. But it really really isn't. It just has the same noodles and is layered like lasagna. It's served cold, like regular tuna salad, and instead of layers of meat and/or veggies, tomato sauce, and cheese, it's layers of a tuna mixture, arugula, and roasted red pepper sauce. It took me a minute or two to convince my brain that there wasn't something seriously wrong with my lasagna, but when my brain caught up, I really liked it!

I had gone light on the salt while I was making it since I have felt like I have been going a little heavy on the salt lately, but I found when I ate it that it actually needed a bit more.

I think it would be a really fun thing to bring to a picnic. Even if just to mess with people's heads.

Tuna Salad Lasagna Stack
Courtesy of Katherine Barreira


4 red bell peppers
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound lasagna noodles
Three 6-ounce cans tuna packed in water, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
3 cups torn arugula
1/3 cup minced chives

Preheat the broiler. Place the bell peppers on a baking sheet and broil, turning every 5 minutes, until charred all over, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover; let sit for 10 minutes. Using your fingers, peel and discard the charred skin. Discard the stems and seeds.

Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the lasagna noodles until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet to prevent sticking.

In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, dill, lemon juice and 1/4 cup olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Using a blender, puree the roasted peppers, sherry vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. With the machine on, pour in the remaining 5 tablespoons olive oil in a slow stream, blending until thick, about 30 seconds.

Place a layer of lasagna noodles in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with one-third of the arugula and one-quarter of the bell pepper sauce. Repeat 2 more times, using the remaining tuna mixture and arugula and topping with the remaining noodles. Top with the remaining red pepper sauce and the chives.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Vegetarian Makhani Curry

So I was planning on making the Chicken Makhani that I had made before, but when I went to pick up the chicken at the grocery store, I couldn't bring myself to pick up a package. I don't know if it's just because I've been cooking mainly vegetarian stuff lately or because I've been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma and was feeling irresponsible for eating a piece of meat that had been grown in a non-sustainable setting... Though that latter fact didn't stop me from eating Chick-Fil-A today, so I'm thinking it had more to do with the fact that the chicken in the grocery store just looked kind of sad. So... I decided to vegetarianize this recipe.

And it came out really well. Added bonuses: I was able to use some spices that I don't regularly use but have giant bottles of them in my spice drawer (why are these unusual spices only available in giant containers?). AND I was able to use a can of beans that I had kept forgetting to use every time a recipe called for it. Yay. I used cannellini beans, but I think chickpeas (garbanzo beans) could have worked really well too.

Vegetarian Makhani Curry

1 onion, sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons curry
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup frozen peas
Brown rice

Place onions, garlic, carrot, celery, and beans in crockpot. Dot with butter. Add spices, coconut milk, tomato paste, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir in plain yogurt and frozen peas 15 minutes before serving. Serve over brown rice.

Warm Italiano Spread

I decided to give this appetizer a shot in preparation for some dinner parties we're going to be having in the fall. It had all sorts of elements that appeal to me (pesto, tomatoes, cheese), but I didn't really like it. It just felt like there was too much cream cheese. I would have preferred to just have put the pesto, tomatoes, and shredded cheese on top of the crackers and melted them that way. Though, if you enjoy appetizers that consist of cream cheese with stuff dumped on top, you will likely enjoy this one. It's not bad by any stretch. Just not my favorite.

Warm Italiano Spread
Courtesy of Kraft Foods

1 package (8 ounces) Neufchatel cheese (or cream cheese)
1/4 cup pesto
1 plum tomato, chopped
1/4 cup finely shredded Italian cheese blend

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Place unwrapped Neufchatel cheese in small baking dish. Top with pesto, tomatoes, and shredded cheese.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until shredded cheese is melted and Neufchatel cheese is softened but still holding its shape. Serve with crackers.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've become a big fan of interesting oatmeal cookies over the last few years. I love the Great Pumpkin Cookies I've made in the past (and will make during the fall, so recipe to come...), so when I came across this recipe for Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Cookies, I had to give them a try.

Wow. They're super tasty. And they're very easy to put together. I highly highly recommend giving them a try.

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Courtesy of Cooking Light


1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
5.6 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add egg; beat well.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to banana mixture in bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until golden. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Calzone

Yes, I'm tooting my own horn a bit... But I'm tooting my horn more for Cooking Light. These calzones freaking rock. And yes, it matters that all the components are homemade. I don't think it would be nearly as good with store-bought dough and sauce. Though I worry that I'll have to go back to making my dough in the breadmaker. My stand mixer was not happy while I was trying to mix the dough in there. I hope it'll turn on for me the next time I need it... Eek.

The original recipe calls for grilled peppers, onions, and sausage, but since I don't have a grill, I sautéed everything. And I have enough of everything to make two batches of it all, so if you only want to use one portion of the pizza dough, half the filling recipe.

Try it. As soon as possible.

Homemade Pizza Dough
Courtesy of Cooking Light

1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 1/4 cups cold water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
26.1 ounces (about 5 1/2 cups) unbleached bread flour, divided
Cooking spray

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Combine 1 1/4 cups cold water, oil, sugar, and salt in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

Weigh or lightly spoon 24.9 ounces (about 5 1/4 cups) flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, yeast mixture, and cold water mixture in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low 8 minutes or until dough begins to form. Let rest 2 minutes; mix on low 6 minutes or until dough is smooth. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 2 minutes); add enough of the remaining 1.19 ounces (about 1/4 cup) flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).

Divide the dough in half, and place each portion in a large zip-top bag coated with cooking spray. Seal and chill overnight or up to 2 days. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

Note: You can freeze the dough in heavy-duty, freezer-safe zip-top plastic bags for up to 2 months; thaw dough overnight in the refrigerator.


New York-Style Pizza Sauce
Courtesy of Cooking Light

7 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite-cut diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk.


Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Calzones
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light

Homemade Pizza Dough
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 pound hot Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed
1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut into thin slices
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
New York-Style Pizza Sauce, divided
1 1/3 cup (about 5 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Remove Homemade Pizza Dough from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Preheat deep skillet to medium-high heat. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and then add sausage. Break up sausage using back of wooden spoon. Cook until no longer pink.

Reduce heat to medium. Add another tablespoon olive oil, onions, and peppers. Cook until tender. Add salt and pepper. Take off heat and add sausage back to pan to mix.

Preheat oven to 500ºF.

Place one portion of dough on a lightly floured surface; divide dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 9 x 5-inch rectangle. Spread 1/4 cup New York-Style Pizza Sauce evenly over each rectangle, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Arrange sausage evenly over half of each rectangle; top evenly with onion and bell peppers. Sprinkle each calzone with 1/3 cup cheese. Fold other half of dough over filling; press edges together with a fork to seal. Repeat with second portion of dough.

Place calzones on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush calzones with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake at 500° for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes.