Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Finished Quilt


Here's the thing.  I cook.  A lot.  I even cook with the intentions of posting recipes on this blog.  I take pictures of the food.  Then, sometimes it just falls apart.  I forget, I don't have time, I wonder why I'm even posting recipes here...

I have been sewing a lot lately.  I always do, but lately I've been sewing a lot more.  Quilts, clothing, household schtuff. 

I feel like if I can post a variety of stuff, I will probably be more diligent to post different things, rather than just food.

If I post that kind of stuff, tutorials, projects I'm working on, fabric choices, finished projects, is that going to annoy you?  I know this is technically a "cooking blog.

Mostly I ask this, because check it out:

I finally finished Zoe's quilt!  Well, to be honest, I "finished" it months ago.  It has been sitting, waiting for the binding, and waiting for Zoe to move into her "big girl bed".  I finished the binding [my mom is an amazing quilter and taught me the best way ever to do binding], and Zoe moved into her bed.

And I love it.  The colors are awesome.  It turned out just how I wanted it to.  [The bottom isn't pink minky, that is just the back of Zoe's snuggly blanket her Grammy made her folded at the end of her bed.]

Pattern used: Skipping Squares from Cluck Cluck Sew [blog] [The circle pillow is also a tutorial from her blog!]
Fabric used: a mishmash of stuff I have been collecting forever!  Amy Butler, Free Spirit, Riley Blake....

So, thoughts?  Are we anti-sewing? 

Easy Granola

My kids LOVE granola!!  We eat it for breakfast, with milk (GREAT for keeping those bellies full until lunch), on top of greek yogurt (Zoe's preferred method), as a snack, with fruit, on top of cobblers, with ice cream, etc. 

This is our quick, "basic" recipe.  You most likely have everything on hand for this already.  It will save you a ton of money compared to buying your granola at the store.

Also, you can creat your own variety.  You can add nuts, dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, etc), ground flaxseed (I usually do this), etc. 
Quick Granola
  • 8 cups oats (any kind will do)
  • 2 cups coconut (you can omit if you like, but you won't really taste "coconut", it gives a great flavor and texture.)
  • 2 T. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 c. coconut oil (you can use vegetable oil if that is what you have)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla (I use vanilla bean paste, but you can use regular vanilla if you like)
  1. In a BIG bowl, mix together oats, cinnamon and coconut.  (This would be the time to add ground flaxseed, nuts, etc.)
  2. In a sacuepan over med-low heat, mix together the water and brown sugar, until the sugar is dissolved.  Turn up the heat, and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat (but let it continue to boil), and stir for one minute.
  3. Remove mixture from heat, add in oil and vanilla.
  4. Pour over oats, and mix to evenly combine.
  5. Grease two large cooking sheets (using baking spray), and evenly pour the granola on the cookie sheets.  Spread out the granola, but don't pack it down.
  6. Bake at 275 degrees for 60-70 minutes until golden brown and toasted.  Remove from oven and let sit in pans for 10 minutes. 
  7. Using a spatula, go through and "crack" up the granola.  Let it sit until completely cool. 
  8. Once cool, store in an airtight container.
It's fun to make variations, try adding in different ingredients.  Sometimes I also add honey or agave nectar in the liquid, and cut back on the brown sugar.  But, this is a great basic version to play with!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Harvest / Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Recipe

A small glimpse of the blackberries we picked. 

My oldest dude, Mason, helping me slice the tomatoes from our garden, so we could make "sundried tomatoes".

Grape "pastegh"....fruit leather.
 I can't even begin to tell you the amount of canning/preserving that has been going on around here.  A lot of it is from our garden, but even some of it isn't.

So far, this year, here is what I've done:
-Sundried tomatoes (amazing!)----used cherry tomatoes & thyme from my garden
-Raspberry jam (raspberries bought locally)

-Blackberry jam (with a few raspberries thrown in for good measure---blackberries picked locally)
-Jalapeno jelly ---- ALL from my garden (red & green bell peppers, jalapenos)
-Bottled (canned?) peaches---bought locally
-pickles (cucumbers from my garden)

I also flash froze a bunch of blackberries, strawberries, and peaches.

Hopefully I will also be able to do some tomatoes, salsa and pasta sauce.  So far, our bigger tomatoes (romas, etc.) are slow to produce.  I think it has to do with our insanely wet spring.  I'm hoping they are all just coming on late!

Admittedly, not everything is being "saved" for later.

The peaches that I bought are amazing! In fact, they are so ripe & juicy that I had a hard time slicing them for canning.  They aren't pretty (in the jar), but they'll taste good!   So, of course we had to eat some.

I made a simple, but amazing, vanilla bean ice cream.  Then, I topped it with tons of sliced juicy peaches.

As my son Camden would say, "Mom, I could DIE with this."   Who can say it better than a 6 year-old?

So, go buy (or pick) some juicy, fresh, local peaches, and slice them ontop of this ice cream!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

  • 1 cup cold half & half
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla beans)
  1. In a medium sized bowl, or the bowl of your mixer, whisk (or beat) together the half & half and the sugar until the sugar is dissolved.  Mix in the heavy cream and the vanilla until well combined.
  2. Pour into ice cream  maker, and mix until thickened about 30 minutes. 
  3. Transfer the ice cream into a freezer safe container and freeze (with a lid on) until frozen.  At least 2 hours.

Monday, August 22, 2011

BTS Dinner.

Kids started school today. 

For the first time since my oldest was born (8.5 years ago), I only have one child home with me all day.  What in the world do you do with only one child home?! It feels weird.

Sad.  Lonely.  Quiet.  And weird.

I miss my little dudes.

But, in their absence, maybe I will have time to update my poor neglected blog. 

We had a fun back-to-school dinner last night.  I made a big deal out of it, and let the kids select the menu.  [They decided on grilled steak  , twice baked potato mash, garlic broccoli , fresh squeezed lemonade & I made lemon cupcakes with blackberry filling and a lemon frosting. ] 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Buttermilk Waffles

**Once again, I apologize for my summer hiatus.  I have been spending almost no time on the computer---instead trying to hang out with my little midgets and have fun.  So far, it's working!  School starts soon (sadly), so maybe I'll get my groove back by then!
Yes, another breakfast recipe.

Seriously though, these are some seriously good waffles!  Just ask my kids, they ate them by the truckload.

Buttermilk Waffles

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. butter melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (real, not fake---vanilla bean paste is also good here, but will make them a bit sweeter)
  • 1 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  1. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter & vanilla.  In another bowl whisk together the dry ingredients; combine the wet and dry ingredients just until smooth.
  2. Spray your waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray before preheating it.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until your iron stops steaming.  [Will vary depending on your waffle iron.]
Serve traditionally with butter and syrup...or with strawberries & vanilla bean whip cream (our house favorite). 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Recipe Update.

A funny thing happened.

My garden decided to send me 1400 zucchini all at the same time. 

So begins the time of year in which every meal has some form of zucchini in it.  Somewhere, somehow.

The other day, the midgets and I made a batch of zucchini bread.  It's been a while, so I had to pull up my recipe. (I have a tendency not to cook from recipes exactly.)

I noticed a few ingredients that I talked about, but then never listed!  Whoops!  (Oh, you know, things like bananas, etc.)

So, I've fixed and updated my zucchini bread recipe.  And, in case you need a reminder: It's freaking delicious. 

I just picked 6 more zucchini.  We might have to make more.  And then some brownies. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Funny thing....

I've been cooking like crazy.

Even taking pictures.

But for some reason, getting from there to HERE is the hard part!  3 kids, busy summer, right?

Anyway, hopefully soon I can get these posted.  Coming soon:

Another grilled pizza: prosciutto & caramalized purple onion with fresh mozzarella

Another AMAZING Turkey Burger recipe!

The best Buttermilk Waffles

Tips on making this amazing Artisan Bread.

Our current fave (subject to change) panini, with a watermelon slush.

The BEST homemade fruit leather!

...and tips on using and storing those fresh summer herbs!!
...Also, I promise to post pictures of my newly renovated kitchen!  It has taken several months (doing work ourselves, with the help of some awesome family, and paying as we go).  The subway tile should be in soon!! As soon as that is done, and the new lighting I will take you on a tour of where the magic happens!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Grilling Pizza 101 & Red, White & Green Pizza

Grilling pizzas might be my new favorite obsession! (I feel like I say that about everything!)

It can seem a little intimidating, but seriously, it's almost fool-proof!  This can easily be turned into a quick weeknight meal, or even a fun party with tons of different pizzas.  I think we might do these again with individual sized pizzas, and let the kids make their own (toppings---not going to send them out to the grill).  This would be a really fun, casual, easy summer dinner with friends!

 Most important is the pizza dough---I've found that I don't like certain pizza doughs grilled.  They can be too doughy, or too puffy, or just to dense.  This recipe is hands-down my favorite pizza dough (not just for grilling, but for baking in the oven as well!)  It does require a bit of "thinking ahead", but not a ton.  You can use it right after you make it, but for best flavor, I suggest the fridge time---trust me, you won't be sorry!

Fridge Pizza Dough

  • 3 c. all purpose flour**
  • 2 tsp. yeast (active dry or instant)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 7/8 to 1 1/8 c. lukewarm water
  1. If you are using active dry yeast (I do in most recipes, unless instant is required), dissolve it, with a pinch of sugar, in 2 Tablespoons of the lukewarm water.  (I do this in the mixing bowl I am going to be using.)  Let the yeast and water sit together for about 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded.  (If you are using instant yeast, skip this step.)
  2. Add in (with the yeast) the remainder of the ingredients.  Mix everything together until you've made a soft dough.  I use my stand mixer, with a dough hook, and let it knead (speed 2) for about 5 minutes.  The dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, maybe sticking at the bottom.  Don't overknead the dough; it should hold together, but might look a little rough on the surface.
    **FLOUR: The amount of flour can depend on the humidity, how it was stored, etc.  so don't always go by measurements, instead by how your dough looks and feels. 
  3. To make pizza now: Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow it to rise until it is very puffy.  This will take about 1 hour using instant yeast, or about 1 1/2 hours using active dry yeast.  It might take longer, just give it the time it needs.  Then proceed with baking.
  4. To make pizza later:  Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes at room temperature.  Refrigerate the dough for 4 hours (or for up to 24 hours); it will rise slowly as it chills.  This step develops the crust's flavor.  About 2 hours before you want to serve the pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator.  ***THIS IS THE WAY I PREFER TO DO IT!
  5. Roll your pizza out on a floured surface (or on a dough board).  This recipe makes 2 pizzas.  When I'm making it on the grill, specifically, I don't care about the shape as much as the thickness.  I want it about 1/2-3/4" thick.
  • Preheat your grill to a medium heat.
  •  Brush olive oil on ONE side of your pizza.  Place the oiled side of your pizza down on the grill.
Sorry for the bad picture, my shadow killed it.  Lay your dough directly on the grill, with the oil side down, like this.
  • Close the cover of your grill.  The amount of time this step takes varies, depending on your grill, how fast it cooks, etc.  Probably no more than 4 or 5 minutes.  Stay close, and check as necessary.  However, don't continue to open the lid over and over, or you will loose the heat and the steam necessary. 
  • Once your pizza dough as PUFFED it is ready.  At this point, I remove the pizza from the grill.  I use my pizza peel, and take it off the grill. 

This is what it will look like when it is ready to be taken off the grill.  It isn't done at this point, but now we'll add the toppings to the other side.

  • Flip the crust over so that the puffy side is now on the bottom of your pizza peel (or tray, whatever you are using). 

This is what the bottom of mine looked like---PERFECTION!
  • Now you are going to add whatever toppings, sauces, etc. that you want to your pizza. 
  • Using your pizza peel (or tray, pan, etc.) slide the pizza back onto the grill---no need to oil or anything.  You are going to be putting the puffy side onto the heat.  Close the lid and cook until the cheese is melted and the toppings are cooked.  This should take about 4 -5 minutes depending on your grill.

To make the pizza I made, here are the directions:

Red, White & Green Pizza
  • tomatoes (roma)
  • fresh mozzarella
  • pesto
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • fresh basil
  • salt
  1. Slice your tomatoes pretty thin.  In a wide shallow bowl, combine a few tablespoons of olive oil with a few tablespoons of crushed garlic cloves.  Add your sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with salt.  Let this marinate for about 20 minutes while you are working on the pizza dough.
  2. Once you are ready to top your pizza, spread a thin layer of pesto over the crust of the pizza.  Top with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese.  Then, lay the marinated tomato slices on top.  At this point, I usually drizzle a little bit of the garlic flavored oil over the top of the pizza.  Not a lot, just a little drizzle.
  3. Cook the pizza until it is cooked through.  Top with freshly chopped basil.
**This is a slight play on my favorite Margherita pizza---just the addition of the pesto. 

Another great grill treat: With the leftover pizza dough, if you have any.  Grill it up, and when it is done, brush it with melted butter and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar.  In a small bowl, mix together a splash of milk with powdered sugar.  Cut the pizza into strips, and dip into the frosting. 

We did this last week, and the kids loved it!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Caprese Salad

My current favorite food obsession is this salad.  I could eat this entire bowl.  And then lick the sauce off the bottom.  It is THAT good.

This is a good recipe to have on hand for those times when your garden overfloweth---tomatoes and basil from the garden, for the win!

I already know that we will be eating this A LOT this summer.  It's so quick to make, and so fresh.  And my 2 year old eats it by the fist full. 

Caprese Salad
  • 1/4 tsp. salt & 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 8 oz. FRESH mozzarella cheese
  • 5 fresh tomatoes (I used on the vine tomatoes) if you use roma, you'll need more
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Dice your tomatoes---seeding them before you dice.  (Scoop out the goop, basically).  Place your tomatoes in a mesh strainer, and place over a bowl, to catch the liquid.  Toss the tomatoes with sugar and salt.  Let rest over the bowl to drain the excess liquid from the tomatoes.
  2. Cut the mozzarella into bite sized pieces.  Depending on how fresh your mozzarella is (make sure you buy the fresh kind, and not the kind you can get at a deli), you'll need to dry it off a little, or let it sit on your cutting board for a bit.  (If it is really wet, just tap a paper towel over it to absorb some moisture.)
  3. In a blender, combine the vinegar, minced garlic, dijon mustard, salt & pepper, and blend until combined.  Slowly stream in the olive oil, until it is emulsified and frothy.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Take your basil leaves and stack them on top of eachother.  Roll them up tight like you are rolling up a cigar (hey...), then slice them in thin strips.  You can add more basil if you want, depending on the size of your basil leaves.
  5. Combine the tomatoes, cheese, and basil in a bowl.  Pour dressing over and toss to combine.  Let rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  6. ***Sometimes I'll add some of the drained tomato liquid to the dressing---SO good!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Little pockets of delicious goodness.  That's what these potstickers are!! 

They are shockingly easy to make.  A tiny bit time consuming, putting them together by hand, and cooking in batches.  But, oh, so worth it! 

This recipe makes about 30 potstickers.  I suggest doubling or tripling it, and freezing them.  Freeze them BEFORE you cook, or they will be a hot mess.  [I would flash freeze them----line them up on a baking sheet, and put them in the freezer for a few hours, until solid, and then package them for longer term freezing.]

Chicken Potstickers
  • 1 c. cabbage (chopped finely)
  • 3 green onions (chopped finely)
  • 1/3 c. water chestnuts (chopped finely---do you sense a pattern?)
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger (about 1")
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 large chicken breast (about 1/2 lb.)
  • won ton wrappers (I buy them in the store in the refrigerated section)
  • water
  • cornstarch
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. rice vinegar (can sub white wine vinegar)
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 T. honey
  • dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Start by cutting your raw chicken breast into big chunks.  Grind it in your food processor until you get "ground chicken".  Alternately, you can buy ground chicken, but really?  It is so much easier and cheaper to do it yourself!  Place chicken in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. You can finely chop all of the ingredients, and add them to your bowl.  Or do as I do: process them each in your food processor, then add them to the bowl!  So much quicker, and keeps everything about the size you need!
  3. Add in soy sauce, salt, ginger and oil.  Mix together with hands, until completely combined.
  4. One at a time, take a won ton wrapper (keep the others covered with a damp kitchen towel, so they won't dry out), and place about 1 tsp. of filling in the middle of the wrapper.  Take a finger, dip it in a bowl of cold water, and run it along all of the edges of the wonton wrapper.  (So, all four sides will be wet.)  Fold up two opposite corners, hold together, and fold up the other two corners, connecting and sealing them at the top.  Sounds confusing, but really isn't.  Hopefully you can tell by the picture above, how they meet.
  5. Place the sealed potsticker on a sheet pan sprinkled with cornstarch.  Cover the completed potstickers with a damp towel while you work on the rest.
  6. To cook:  You'll cook them in batches, so it can be a tiny bit time consuming, but not hard! [I usually cook about 8-10 at a time in the pan.]  In a medium to large non-stick skillet heat about 1 Tablespoon (can use 2, but I found it to be too much oil!), over medium-high heat.
  7. Add potstickers, and cook until the bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes.   Adjust heat if necessary.  If the oil is spitting at you too much, turn it down.  You want it bubbling a bit, but not, you know, giving you 3rd degree burns.
  8. Carefully add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan.  Most of the oil has cooked off by this point, but there will be some left in the pan, that's okay!  Just make sure the heat is turned down enough that when you add the water, you don't start gunfire!!  Depending on the size of your pan, you might need to add a bit more water---to make sure it covers the bottom.
  9. Cover the pan immediately with a lid, and cook for 4 minutes.  Uncover, and cook for about 3 more minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates. Remove cooked postickers, and store them in something with a lid, while the others cook.  The steam will keep them warm.  (I used a glass baking dish with a lid.)
  10. Repeat for remaining potstickers.
To make dipping sauce:
  1. Combine all ingredients and whisk well together. 
  2. Serve with cooked potstickers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Vanilla Bean Strawberry Ice Cream

It's that time of year---I can finally break out the ice cream maker!  (Well...hopefully soon.  I'll ignore the fact that as I am writing this, it feels more like November than May!) 

The other night we had an impromptu barbecue, and I decided to make ice cream for the first time this year.  It was a HIT. 

Of course, my fridge was busting at the seams with strawberries, so I knew I'd have to include those.  And vanilla bean paste, because really, why wouldn't I?  Of course, I had just made some strawberry sauce, so I figured it was a match made in heaven!!

And boy, was it.

Vanilla Bean Strawberry Ice Cream

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, stemmend and chopped
  • 3 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 c. sugar, divided
  • 1 c. milk (you could use whole, but I used 1%)
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla bean, or vanilla extract)
  1. In a small bowl, combine the finely chopped strawberries with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the sugar.  Stir gently and allow the strawberries to macerate in the juice for about 2 hours.  (If you like bigger strawberries, you can leave them bigger, but they will freeze in big rock chunks that will be hard to eat, so I suggest chopping them pretty finely.)
  2. In a medium bowl, use a mixer or a whisk to combine the milk and the rest of the sugar (2/3 c.) until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes on low speed.  Stir in the heavy cream, vanilla, and the juices from the strawberries.
  3. Add to ice cream maker and freeze until thickened.  During the last 5 minutes, add strawberries. 
  4. Remove and store in a freezer-safe container and freeze until hard.
Serve topped with strawberry sauce.ALTERNATE DIRECTIONS:
Strawberry Revel
-Prepare as above, except when transferring the ice cream from the maker to a container, mix in streams of the strawberry sauce, to create a revel.  Don't mix!  Leave the streams of strawberry sauce flowing through the ice cream.  Freeze until hard.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Strawberry Sauce

Confusing picture...but trust me, I'll make it all come together!

As you know, I love strawberries.  Probably one of my all time favorite fruits---and that is saying a lot, since I could live off of fresh fruit! 

I love to make strawberry sauce! It's so simple to make, and honestly can be used in literally hundreds of ways.  Heat it up and serve it with pancakes or waffles, serve it over angel food cake, or with strawberry shortcake, mix it into yogurt, freeze it in ice cube trays and pop them into lemonade (hey, I just thought of that one!), add it to smoothies, the list goes on and on!  Or, you can do as I did in this picture---make a strawberry lime rickey! 

This isn't really a "recipe" as much as a method.  I don't usually measure when I make this, but I can give you estimates.  It doesn't need to be exact, it will still be great!
Also, this is a great use for those strawberries that aren't perfect---maybe even a tiny bit overripe.  This recipe will also freeze well. 

Stay tuned for a recipe featuring this strawberry sauce!!

Strawberry Sauce
  • 1 small container of strawberries (you can easily double, etc.)
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla bean (if you don't have either---use vanilla extract)
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  1. Wash and cut your strawberries.  No need to be exact or precise---they'll be blended up anyway! 
  2. Combine strawberries, sugar, vanilla (in whatever form) and lemon juice in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until it simmers and berries start to break down.  Between 5 & 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  4. Add contents to blender and completely puree.
I store mine in a squeezey bottle (like a ketchup/mustard bottle), and store it in the fridge. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pesto Ricotta Pasta

This meal fits the bill for quick, tasty dinner.  You know, for those months of baseball season, when you have one in t-ball, one in coach pitch, and your husband is the coach of both teams.  Oh, that happens to you too?

If you make your pesto in advance (I usually make it in batches and keep in the fridge), this will come together really quickly.  If you don't want to make your pesto, you can easily substitute store bought.  But, really, it's so quick to make, it won't add that much work. 

I have posted a recipe before where I made pesto using spinach, which is super tasty!  You can use that here, or traditional basil pesto.  (I tend to like walnuts better in my pesto, rather than pinenuts!)

This recipe is easily made with chicken or without, both are fantastic!

Pesto Ricotta Pasta

  • 1 lb. pasta (like penne or rotini)
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 chicken breasts (if desired)
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (or more) ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup (or more) pesto
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  1. Boil your pasta according to package directions until it is al dente; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.  If you are using chicken, dice it into bite sized pieces, season with salt and pepper, and saute over medium heat in the olive oil until cooked through.  Add garlic to pan about 2 minutes before chicken is finished---not at the beginnging or the garlic will burn.  Once the garlic is added, stir more often to keep it from burning.
  3. Add drained pasta, pesto and ricotta.  Turn heat to low.  Mix together until pesto coats all of the pasta, and the ricotta breaks down.  You can add more or less of the ricotta and pesto according to your preference.
  4. Add in parmesan cheese, and mix until slightly melted, then stir in tomatoes.  Stir just until the tomatoes are warmed through.
  5. Serve.
**This would also be good with some fresh baby spinach, just add a few handfuls at the end, and cook until it wilts. 

***Make a big batch of pesto early in the week and then use it to make quick meals like this, pesto turkey burgers, green pit-za or the pesto pasta I posted previously.  The meals won't taste the same, but will utilize the same base, which will save time, and won't waste the extra pesto!  I also have a great recipe coming using more pesto (a fun meatball slider)!  This is a great idea for the busy dinner nights, or weeks when dinner needs to be fast! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vermont Oatmeal Bread (aka: the best toast bread)

I have a thing for bread.  I know, I know.  It isn't that great for you....but listen, my friends, moderation.  And running, lots and lots of running.

And, not just bread, but toast. I love toast!  In fact, when I was pregnant with my 2nd child (a little dude called Camden), I ate toast a lot.  Toast with peanut butter and honey on top.  I also threw up a lot of toast, and never gained weight.  I totally should have eaten more!

This bread is fantastic toasted (with peanut butter and honey, or so I hear).  My littles loved this toasted, not toasted, in any form.

Vermont Oatmeal Bread
*recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour
  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 c. boiling water
  • 1 c. oats (any kind)
  • 1/2 c. maple sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 T. honey
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 T. instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 4 c. unbleached flour
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, oats, maple/brown sugar, honey, butter, salt and cinnamon.  Let cool to luke warm.  (I add it all to my mixing bowl.)
  2. Once it is luke warm, add the yeast and flours, stirring to form a rough dough.  Knead (about 10 minutes by hand, 5 to 7 minutes by machine) until the dough is smooth and satiny.  (If dough is really sticky, add a tiny bit more flour, if it is too dry, add a tiny bit more water.)
  3. Transfer the dough to a large bowl, sprayed with non-stick spray, and cover with plastic wrap, also sprayed with non-stick spray.  Let rise for 1 hour; it should double in bulk.
  4. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a loaf.  Place the loaves in two greased bread pans.  Cover the pans with lightly sprayed plastic wrap and allow them to rise until they've come up about 1 inch over the rim of the pan.  (1 to 1 1/2 hours.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the loaves for 35 to 40 minutes.  Remove them from the oven when they are golden brown.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Best Burger Bun & Everyday Burger

Hello warm weather (well, we had 2 days of it...), and hello grill!!

You may remember me making my own homemade buns.  However, I no longer have a bread maker.  It was eating up space in my kitchen, and I only ever used it to process dough, and even then, I didn't use it often.  Plus, I really disliked the fact that my previous bun recipe uses shortening. 

It's a great recipe, so try it!  But, I'm a girl who likes options (for real, you should see my eyeshadow drawer). 

These buns are my new "go to" recipe!  I make them, freeze half and use half.  They are amazing!!!

Also included---a great basic burger recipe.  This is one you can throw together with things you have on hand.  I love to make crazy flavored burgers, but sometimes classic is a good thing!!

Burger Buns

*alternately, these could be hot dog buns, sandwich rolls, etc.

  • 1 c. warm water
  • 2 T. butter (slightly softened, the warm water will also help with this)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 c. unbleached flour (you can also use 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat)
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. instant yeast
  1. Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl, and mix.  Knead together, by hand or machine (using dough hook if you are using a mixer) until you've made a soft smooth dough.  (About 5 minutes by machine.) 
  2. Place dough in a large bowl that has been lightly sprayed with non-cook spray.  Cover with plastic wrap (also sprayed with non-stick spray), and let rise for 1 hour.
  3. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (less if you are making slider buns).  I like to use my bench knife for this.  Shape each into a ball, and slightly flatten them.  Place the buns on a greased baking sheet.  Cover with a loose towel and let rise for about 40 minutes, until they are quite puffy.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake the buns for 12-15 minutes (mine took about 15), until they're golden brown.  Remove them from the oven and cool on a wire rack. 
*I find that these buns are best toasted---I don't like to butter them (though some do), instead, I just split them, and place them face down on the top rack of my grill during the last few minutes of the burgers cooking.  Alternately, you could broil them in the oven.
Great Basic Burgers

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or turkey)
  • 3 T. steak sauce (A1, or the like)
  • 1 1/2 T. dijon mustard
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 T. dehydrated onion
  1. Combine everything together in a large bowl.  Mix until it is combined, but don't over mix. 
  2. Form into patties---you can either do 4 burgers or 6, depending on how big you like them.  Form them with a small well in the middle---this will help the burgers to not shrink as much during cooking.
  3. Cook on  preheated grill for about 5* minutes a side.  (*This can vary widely based on how hot your grill is, and how you like your burgers cooked!)
  4. If desired, place cheese on burgers during the last minute of cooking.
  5. Serve on awesome homeade buns, and top as desired. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Perfect Strawberry Shortcake!

I think you'd be shocked to realize just how many strawberries my family goes through, and how quickly!  And if I were being really honest---I can plow through most of them myself.  I eat a bowl of strawberries for breakfast, some for lunch, a snack...  I've been that way since I was small---I have always loved strawberries! In fact, I have memories of picking strawberries from the patch at our old house, and eating so many of them that my hands were stained solid red!

Strawberry shortcake might just be one of my favorite desserts.  I'm not a big fan of "cake" in general, which is probably why I love strawberry shortcake---it isn't overly sweet. 

The "biscuits" I made with this recipe have the addition of vanilla bean (I used vanilla bean paste) which might be my current favorite kitchen/food item.  It is AMAZING!!!  It gives the biscuits a little hint of sweetness, and those gorgeous black flecks.  If you don't have the paste, or vanilla beans, you can easily substitute vanilla.

Strawberry Shortcake

  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 T. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 T. sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter (cold)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • cream/milk (for topping)
  • raw sugar (for topping---optional, but highly suggested!)
  1. Sift together the dry ingredients.  Cut in the cold butter (I cut it up into tiny squares, then pop it back into the freezer, so it will remain cold.  Then add it.)   Whisk in the wet ingredients, and add to dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined.  Pour out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it holds together.
  2. Pat the dough out using your hands (no need for a rolling pin), until about 3/4" thick.  Cut into circles using a biscuit cutter.  Repeat with remaining dough.
  3. Place on a silpat lined baking sheet (or lightly spray with cooking spray).  Brush the tops of each bisquit with cream or milk.  Sprinkle the tops with raw sugar. 
  4. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for about 15-20 minutes before serving.
  5. Serve with strawberries and fresh whipped cream!
*To make my strawberry mixture, after washing and cutting all of my strawberries, I take out about 1/4 of the strawberries, and put them in a different bowl, and a small amount of sugar and lemon juice, and mash them with a potato masher.  Once they are smashed, add them back in with the sliced strawberries and stir.  Let it sit together (in the fridge) for at least an hour before serving.

Vanilla bean paste is also so good to add to the cream as you whip it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pancake Mix

Breakfast foods = winning.
My kids are breakfast-a-holics.  Pancakes, eggs, oatmeal, cereals, muffins...they love it all! 

This pancake mix is amazing.  You can make it in batches and store it in your fridge/freezer or even in the pantry.  It's amazing!  It's filled with whole wheat flour, ground up oatmeal---way better than anything in a bag at the grocery store.

Pancake Mix
original recipe from King Arthur Flour---altered by me slightly

-3 1/2 c. oats
-3 c. whole wheat flour
-2 c. unbleached flour
-3 T. sugar
-3 T. baking powder
-1 T. kosher salt
-1 T. baking soda
-1 c. +2 T. vegetable oil

  1. In a blender or a food processor, grind the oatmeal until it is milled.  Add to the bowl of a big mixer.
  2. Mix in all ingredients, except for the oil.  Using a paddle attachment, mix together dry ingredients.  With the mixer still on, slowly pour in the oil. 
  3. Mix together until combined.  Texture will look a little bit like wet sand.
  4. Store in an airtight container.  Will store at room temperature for about 2 weeks, or in the fridge or freezer indefinitely.  (I store mine in my fridge in this glass container from IKEA.)
When you are ready to use:
-1 c. mix
-1 c. buttermilk**
-1 egg

Mix until well combined.  Let set a bit before cooking---the mixture will thicken a bit as it sets.  Cook on a preheated griddle.

(This makes about 7 pancakes.)

**You can substitute for buttermilk, but I highly suggest using the real thing.  Don't worry about wasting it!  Buy a big container of buttermilk, and then freeze in 1 or 2 cup (if you want to double the recipe) amounts.  Buttermilk will easily freeze in a ziploc bag.  You can take it out the night before and put it in the fridge to thaw, or just run it under hot water. 

*These are a great "base", we also love to add blueberries, chocolate chips, cinnamon and vanilla, etc. to the mix when we make them! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

My excuse?

Kitchen Remodel.

It's going to be super awesome when it's finished.  But in the meantime I am going crazy.  Everything from my cabinets now lives on my kitchen table.  We look like an episode of Hoarders gone bad.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Toasted Roast Beef Sandwiches

This is the perfect "busy weeknight" dinner!  It comes together really quickly, and can also be made using leftovers. 

I threw this together the other night, on "one of those" nights. (You know, homework, scouts, science projects, basketball... need I go on?)  My husband especially loved it, so I'll take that as a win.

Nothing fancy, but it'll put food in the bellies, which is always a good thing.

Toasted Roast Beef Sandwiches
  • Rolls/buns (you can make your own, or buy store bought if you are lazy...I use my french bread recipe, and just make them into individual sizes.)
  • 2-3 T. butter
  • 1 or 2 onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 T. bbq sauce (your favorite kind, or homemade)
  • 1 T. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound roast beef, cut into thin strips (you can use leftover roast for this, or buy the kind in the deli)
  • salt & pepper
  • provolone (or any kind) cheese slices
  1. In a large skillet, melt butter.  Slice the onion in half and then in thin slices (so they are half circle).  Add to pan and cook until soft and golden.  This will take about 10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and the seasonings, and cook for just a minute (you don't want to burn the garlic).  Add the bbq sauce, worcestershire sauce and the roast beef.  Cook until everything is combined and coated and the meat is heated through.  Taste for seasonings and add salt & pepper accordingly.
  2. Slice the rolls in half, and place desired amount on the bottom of the roll.  Top with cheese.  Place pan under broiler JUST until cheese is melted and bubbly, will not take long at all.  About 1 to 2 minutes depending on your broiler. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Best Cinnamon Rolls

Sorry kids---my mom owns this category too!

In all honesty, there is something about breads that my mom just KILLS it.  These are the sweet rolls that I grew to LOVE. (And I'm not really a bakery/confection person.)  In the past several years, I have tried many other recipes (including recipes that call for "pudding" in the dough), and they don't hold a candle to this recipe.  So, I decided: Why even try? 

I made these late Saturday night, for a special Sunday morning treat for the kiddos.  (I made them, let them rise, and then put them in the fridge and baked them in the morning.)

Cinnamon Rolls/Sweet Rolls
  • 2 c. scalded milk
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 T. salt
  • 2 T. yeast
  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 c. + flour (more like 6+ for me)
  • melted butter, cinnamon, brown sugar
  1. Add the 2 Tablespoons of yeast to the warm water; let rise.
  2. In a saucepan, scald the milk.  In the bowl of your mixer, add the butter, sugar and salt.  Pour the warm milk over the top.  Set aside and let cool to lukewarm.  (You don't want to use it when it is still hot, or you will kill your yeast.)
  3. Beat 3 eggs, and add to the cooled milk mixture.  Mix in the yeast.  Start adding the flour; addimg more if needed, keeping the dough soft.  (* My moms original recipe says 4 c.+ flour, but I always need at least 6, sometimes 6 1/2.)
  4. Knead well.  (I use my mixer, with my dough hook, because I am a cheat!)
  5. Cover the bowl, and let rise for 1 hour. 
  6. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 1/2" thick. 
  7. Spread the top with melted butter, and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon to taste. 
  8. Roll the dough up (starting with the long side), into cinnamon roll shape.  Using your bench knife (one of the best inventions ever, if you don't have one, get one!), or dental floss, cut cinnamon rolls about 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick.  Place on a greased baking sheet.  (I used a HUGE sheet pan that held about 20 cinnamon rolls.) 
  9. Cover with a towel and let rise for about an hour or until double.
  10. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
  11. Frost when they are just out of the oven, so the frosting will melt into the cracks.
(I know some people put cream cheese frosting on cinnamon rolls, but that's so not the right way to do it.  Do it like my mom does, it's better.)

***I use this same recipe for orange rolls.  Instead of spreading with cinnamon and brown sugar, spread with white sugar and orange zest.  In the frosting, replace the MILK with ORANGE JUICE.  Delicious!!
Basic Frosting Recipe
  • 1/4 c. softened butter
  • powdered sugar (2 c. plus)
  • splash of vanilla
  • milk
  1. Blend the butter and powdered sugar together, then add liquids, a little at a time, until you have reached the right consistency.  I make this thinner than a normal frosting, but not liquidy. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Soft Pretzels

Today I decided to tackle soft pretzels once again.  My boys LOVE big pretzels, but I have yet to find a good recipe. 

These are definitely a winner.  They aren't boiled, only baked, so they are a little different texture than a boiled & baked pretzel, but delicious nonetheless!

Soft Pretzels

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar (you could also use brown sugar)
  • 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 2 T. baking soda
  • coarse salt (kosher salt or pretzel salt)
  • 3-4 T. melted butter
  1. Place all of the dough ingredients into a mixing bowl.  (No need to bloom your yeast, just add it all in!)  Mix until all ingredients are combined.  Knead the dough (using a dough hook) for about 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes you should have a nice smooth and soft dough. 
  2. Spray a large gallon size ziploc bag with cooking spray and put dough in bag.  Let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Spray pans with non-stick spray. 
  4. Spray your countertop with a bit of non-stick spray, and transfer dough to counter.  Using a bench knife (or whatever), divide the dough in half and in half again until you have 8 equal pieces.  Let the dough rest while you prepare the topping.
  5. Boil the water, remove from heat, and add in the baking soda. Mix together, making sure the baking soda is dissolved.  Pour into a small shallow dish. 
  6. Using your hands, roll each dough into a long rope (about 2 feet long), then twist into shape.  (I did traditional pretzel shape, but you can do what you like!)  Dip the pretzel into the soda water and then place on the pan.  Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.  Let sit on pans, uncovered for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Bake the pretzels for 7-9 minutes (mine were fairly dark after only 7 minutes, so you might need to alter depending on how fast your oven cooks).  I had 4 pretzels per pan, and cooked them one pan at a time.  Next time I'll probably use my huge sheet tray that would fit all of them at once.
  8. Remove the pretzels from the oven and immediately brush them with melted butter.  Use all of the butter.  Remove to a wire rack.
Best eaten warm out of the oven.  You can also reheat them before eating.

*I plan to make these for valentines day, shaping them like hearts (maybe tinting them red) and shaking them in cinnamon & sugar after the butter.