Cheesy Garlic “Bread” Sticks {made w/almond flour}


I had an argument with my coworker the other day about low-carb pizza. He oftentimes eats the low-carb lifestyle but doesn’t believe you should bother trying to make pizza low-carb. He’s a pizza purist.

I have been intrigued by the recipes and the pictures I’ve seen on the internet. Also I’m more along the lines of the philosophy of … I’ll try anything once. So I decided to give it a whirl and see how it turns out. I started with a recipe for garlic bread instead of pizza because I didn’t feel like worrying much about toppings and sauce. I found a good looking recipe at Butter is Not a Carb. My recipe below is pretty closely based on that one.

ingredients.

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 6 ounces shredded provolone cheese
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 2 c .almond flour
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder
  • 4 ounces shredded white cheese (such as fontina, mozzarella, romano, etc.)

directions.

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.
  2. The original instructions say to soften the cream cheese and 3/4c shredded mozzarella in the microwave until slightly melted, approximately 45 to 60 seconds. My microwave kind of sucks so after 60 seconds I had some melted cheese, some cheese still in tact and the cream cheese was a big brick. I microwaved a bit longer and then went on with the show.
  3. Add almond flour and egg; mix until a dough ball is formed. I started with one cup of almond flour which wasn’t nearly enough. By the time I added another cup the “dough” was sort of ball-like, but not really. It was also really sticky. At this point I was kind of pissed thinking I’ve just wasted a bunch of cheese and almond flour but I carried on.
  4. Spread the dough out across the baking sheet. This will be difficult because the dough is sticky. I just tried to pound it down a bit with the heel of my hand. You want the dough to be as thin as possible. The parts that aren’t thin will taste slightly rubbery after being baked and won’t be as crisp. You can ignore the rubberiness but … just make it really thin, OK? Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning, some garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes until golden brown on the edges. (I thought mine could have baked longer than the 12 minutes, just an FYI.)
  6. Stir minced garlic into melted butter and brush the butter mixture over the crust.
  7. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake an additional five or so minutes. You may wish to broil it a bit to get the cheese to brown.

I actually thought this recipe was pretty fantastic considering it’s basically fake crust. You almost can’t tell it’s not pizza dough but for the slight rubberiness every once in a while with the thicker spots within the crust. I’d say it’s a great substitute if you are living the low-Carb life. Even for pizza purists. 

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies


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I have tried a lot of chocolate chip cookie recipes in my day in search of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. So when I recently signed up for emails with America’s Test Kitchen and promptly got an email for the Perfect Chocolate Chip cookie, I knew I needed to try it.

The recipe is based on the classic Nestle Tollhouse recipe but changed drastically. I will warn you that it’s labor-intensive especially when compared to a regular ‘ole cookie recipe. But I will also tell you that it’s totally worth it to go the extra mile. The cookies are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Just really damn good.

I simplified the recipe a bit (below) but you should really read the whole recipe plus all the tips and tricks on the America’s Test Kitchen website. It talks about measuring flour (I weighed mine) and why it’s so important to have the right amount of flour in the recipe. It also talks about common problems and what you could do to fix them, as well as high altitude baking.

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ingredients.

  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 14 T. butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk
  • 3/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 14 c. chocolate chips, plus more for garnish (use your favorite chip, I used bittersweet)

directions.

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees and adjust oven rack so the rack is in the middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in a pot over medium-low heat until melted and bubbling. After a while flecks of brown will rise from the bottom of the pan; the butter will still be bubbling. Swirl the pan a bit. The butter should smell nutty and be a golden brown. Don’t let the butter brown too much; you don’t want it to get too dark or it will burn. Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to the bowl of a stand mixer (if you have one). Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted; your browned butter will bubble and fizz when you add the cube.
  4. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.
  5. Here comes the labor intensive part: Let the mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat the process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.
  6. Stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons. Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. Dot cookies with additional chocolate chips. This will make sure you have a pretty cookie with chips facing upward/outward when the cookie bakes. I do this with all my cookies for picture-taking purposes.
  8. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Cool cookies completely before serving.

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Cheesy Creamed Brussels Sprouts



Whenever I decide to start eating more vegetables I go overboard in my buying. Which usually means I usually end up wasting too much. I randomly purchased a one-pound package of brussels sprouts last week with no real concept of how to cook them. Since I had bacon and heavy cream in my refrigerator that I planned to use for a different recipe (creamed spinach), I decided to stick with the same general theme. I found a recipe for “Over-the-Top-Creamed-Brussels-Sprouts” and realized I needed to modify it because I had less than half the amount of Brussels Sprouts called for in the recipe. No matter. Here’s my modified recipe below.

ingredients.

  • 1/4 lb bacon ends and pieces cut into good sized chunks (make them small enough where they can fit in your mouth)
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, split in half
  • 1 medium shallot, finely minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1. c. heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces shredded cheese (I used a combination of Gruyère and Fontina)

directions.

  1. Heat butter and bacon over medium-high heat in a large straight-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven. Cook, stirring frequently, until well browned, about 8 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add heavy cream and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

  2. Adjust heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until cream has reduced by about half and has a consistency that coats each sprout, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a casserole pan and cover with shredded cheese (for make-ahead instructions, see note above).
  3. Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 425°F. Transfer casserole to oven and bake uncovered until bubbly around the edges and cheese is melted and spotted brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

My excitement about this dish waned within the 5 days that I prepared the dish prior to me baking it to the point where it seemed like a bit of a chore to consume it. I had other yummy competing foods in my fridge that I thought would be better. But I had to bake the Sprouts because, per the recipe, I was at day five.

One bite of these beauties and I was bowled over. I’ve made creamed Brussels sprouts in the past and was less than impressed so perhaps my PTSD was tainting my anticipation of the tastiness of this dish. I baked the Sprouts for 5 extra minutes because the dish was cold when I put it in the oven and at 20 minutes the cheese was not browned. I accidentally doubled the cheese. Three ounces of cheese is probably sufficient but I would still recommend the full six ounces as there’s no such thing as too much cheese.

 

Cauliflower Fried Rice {with ahi tuna}


 

The first time I tried substituting “cauliflower” for rice in an Asian dish, I liked it enough but didn’t love it. There was something about the texture that didn’t thrill me. It was a great substitute and a great way to make a dish healthier but it was missing something.

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About a week or so I bought a bunch of veggies intending to veggie-it-up a bit in life and a week went by and I realized most my veggies were still in my fridge! I hate, hate, hate wasting food so tonight I stepped to it and began prepping for some veggie dishes for tonight’s dinner and the next few days.

I continue to buy riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s with no real concept of what I want to do with it. It basically just seems like a good idea at the time and then it sits in my fridge staring at me. About a month or so I actually tossed out a package that had gone bad. I would not let that happen to this new package So I found a recipe that looked somewhat intriguing that I thought would pair well with the last ahi tuna steak in my fridge: fried “rice.” The recipe called for bacon (bacon makes everything better, right?) and several other recipes I have on tap also called for bacon, so I decided to fry up all the bacon in my fridge (approximately 1 1/2 pounds) in an effort to motivate myself to eat all the veggies that are slowly dying in my fridge.

The recipe I based my recipe on is a low carb one found at Ruled Me.

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ingredients.

  • 1 16 oz. package of riced cauliflower (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 ounces bacon ends and pieces chopped into large chunks (or regular bacon will work too)
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin
  • 3 to 6 T. bacon grease
  • 1 T. fish sauce
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced

directions.

  1. Spread cauliflower out onto a baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees until cauliflower starts to turn brown and crisp. Stir occasionally. This took me at least 30 minutes. May have been closer to 60. I wasn’t paying oodles of attention to the time.
  2. Fry bacon until very crisp. Drain grease if there is a ton but try to keep around 3 tablespoons, if possible. I can’t remember how much bacon grease I used. I had my grease in a mug and began pouring more into the pan when I thought I needed it. Add baked cauliflower and stir into the bacon and grease. Let fry for a few minutes as you slice the scallions and get your egg and sauces prepared.
  3. Add garlic and scallions to the pan and stir to combine. Add sauces and let the rice cook through a bit.
  4. After a few minutes, push your cauliflower to one side of the pan, adding your slightly beaten egg and allow the mixture to cook.
  5. Mix everything in well, chopping the egg up to form smaller pieces as you mix.
  6. Top with your favorite protein. I used Ahi Tuna but that’s because I had it on hand. It was delicious though!

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I actually think this recipe could make one big bowl of fried rice but I could not power through the whole thing. There’s so much fat in this dish I got full about less than half-way through. I ate about half the dish though because it was so freaking good! I don’t know if baking the cauliflower helped my case or not (I was trying to avoid mushy “rice”) but I believe that cooking the rice in bacon grease at least helped to cover up that skunky cauliflower taste that clings to cauliflower no matter how you try to hide it.

I had intended to cook the rice in a hot sesame oil but was disappointed to learn that I’d used all my sesame oil the last time I’d made cauliflower “rice” when I went to make this dish tonight. That being said, the bacon grease probably worked out as good if not better. I’d like to try a mixture of bacon grease and sesame oil next time, maybe.

Spaghetti and Meatball Stroganoff


The concept of having stroganoff in it with anything other than beef didn’t occur to me until rather recently when I began googling stroganoff and finding all the different options that existed. Years ago I had made Lamburger Stroganoff, at my sisters suggestion, when we had extra lamb after a holiday meal. I’d thought her idea was a novelty and quite genius but hadn’t thought much about other types of stroganoff recipes.

A few weeks ago I made Bacon Stroganoff to use up some really good, expensive bacon my dad had purchased. I’d seen recipes for meatball stroganoff on Pinterest but I wanted my recipe to be specific to the combination of spaghetti and meatballs as I was using some frozen meatballs my mom had made on one of her recent visits to California. If you don’t have any meatballs lying around in your freezer, try Trader Joe’s. They have a decent turkey meatball option.

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ingredients.

  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 lb. pre-cooked meatballs (I used some my mom had made and frozen last time she was here but you can easily find some frozen ones at your local grocery store)
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. dry white wine
  • 1 14.5 oz can beef, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 10.5 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. spaghetti noodles

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directions.

  1. Make the sauce: In a large pan over medium heat cook the onion and mushrooms until onions are golden and mushrooms have shrunk down, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the meatballs and brown on two sides. Make a well between meatballs and add the butter and flour and stir to incorporate. Stir in the wine and broth and cook over high until the mixture has reduced greatly, approximately 10 or so minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the condensed soup and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook the pasta: While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, according to the package instructions. Reserve a bit of pasta water, just in case.
  3. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Warm briefly over low heat to blend the flavors. Add pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce, garnish with shaved parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 generous portions.

img_3028My recipe is based on one I found at Williams-Sonoma for Mushroom Stroganoff. I wanted something that used sour cream and wine because I had opened a bottle of white wine a few weeks back, got extremely sick, and wasn’t able to finish it. It was probably past it’s prime for drinking but I figured it was still OK for cooking. Plus it had been given to me as a gift and I didn’t want to waste a gift!

One of the things I love about stroganoff is how easy it is to make. You make the sauce and then toss in the noodles and voila. You have a yummy pasta/casserole dish that sticks to our ribs.img_3027

Peanut Butter Bars


When I was in high school The Back Street Cafe was one of my favorite hangouts. It was right down the road from me, in Eagle, Wisc., before it moved to a bigger location in Delafield, Wisc. It’s since closed its doors, sadly. They had amazing food and always made my list of restaurants to visit on my visits “home.” My favorite foods to get at the Back Street Cafe were the Lovers Lane sandwich and fried cheese curds. Both came with the delis homemade ranch dressing. I also tried about every dessert and pastry they offered. The peanut butter bars were one of my go-to choices. So when my mom said she had tried them recently and also sent me the recipe, I was inspired to give them a go myself.

I made two different batches after I wasn’t totally satisfied with the first batch. The bars turned out extremely thick. They didn’t really remind me of the bar I used to buy in the deli so I wanted to try to recreate the bars as I remembered them, flatter (not nearly as thick). For the second batch, in re-reading the recipe, I noticed that the recipe states that the bar sold at the deli is a different shape than the bar you can get if you purchase them through the catering business.

You can find the original recipe published on the Milwaukee-Journal website. My tweaked version for a thinner, flatter bar is below.

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ingredients.

  • 2 2/3 c. flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp.baking soda
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 2½ c. peanut butter (divided; see note)
  • 2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • Pinch or two of salt
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) chocolate chips (about 2 cups)

directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 15-by-11-inch pan or large rimmed cookie sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  3. In another bowl, cream butter and 1 cup of the peanut butter. Add brown sugar and mix until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Gradually blend in flour mixture until well blended. Spread into prepared pan.
  4. Bake in preheated oven 15 to 20 minutes or until batter does not jiggle. Remove from oven. The bars will fall after baking. Remove from oven and cool completely. If desired, bars can be refrigerated overnight, then covered with the peanut butter and chocolate layers the next day. If you want to make it all in one day or night, stick the bars in the freezer or refrigerator to cool while you make the filling and topping.
  5. For filling: In medium bowl, mix remaining 1½ cups peanut butter, salt and the powdered sugar until well blended. Spread over cooled bars.
  6. For the topping: In small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat cream over medium heat until scalding, then pour over chocolate chips in a bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth, then pour over top of bars.
  7. Refrigerate overnight. Best if eaten a day after making; allow the bars to come to room temperature.

Note: Do not use natural or crunchy peanut butter.

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The trick with these bars is that you need to make them a day before you plan to serve them. Just as the directions say. I’m not sure why but the magic happens when you cut them and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight. The peanut butter filling seeps into the cookie-like base making the base super moist. I cut them in large squares and brought them to work on a Friday. My boss ate five of them that day!

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Buffalo Chicken Tacos



The other day I bought the cutest little tortillas at Von’s. They are called Mission “Street Tacos.” They are tiny, flour tortillas – something you would see sold on the street. I love tortillas of any kind. Flour. Corn. Homemade. Low-carb. Even whole wheat. The only tortillas I don’t really care for are hard shell tacos. Unless you make your own hard shell tacos, which an ex-boyfriend of mine once did. Those were amazing! At any rate, I love most tortillas and most types of tacos.

I’ve been sick for longer than a week with very little taste buds so I’ve been dreaming about getting better enough to have the energy to cook something and I’ve been dreaming about eating something I could taste. I’ve been living off toast and grilled cheese and even the grilled cheese I really couldn’t taste all that much. Not even when it was slathered in chipotle mayo.

For some reason I got the idea in my head that buffalo chicken would make an excellent taco. I figured it would be spicy and hot enough that even if my taste buds still weren’t up to par that I would be able to taste them. So I found a couple of recipes on the internet for buffalo chicken tacos and kind of came up with my own really easy recipe. Really. It was really easy.

taco ingredients.

  • boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • buffalo sauce
  • tortillas (whatever kind you fancy)
  • blue cheese crumbles
  • garnish (cilantro, chopped tomato, avocado, buffalo sauce, onion, cole slaw, blue cheese dressing, shredded cheese – really the possibilities are endless)

buffalo sauce ingredients.

  • 6 T. butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 c. hot sauce
  • 2 T. white vinegar

directions.

  1. Make the buffalo sauce. In a small pan over medium heat, heat and stir all ingredients until butter is melted and sauce is uniform.
  2. Cut the chicken breast into tiny pieces. Think of what you would feed a very small child. If you’ve never fed a very small child, just make them smaller than bite-size. In a saute pan over medium-high heat, drop a little bit of canola oil. You don’t need to cover the bottom of the pan and we are not deep-frying the chicken. Just put some in there so your chicken doesn’t totally stick. Brown the chicken. To brown any meat you simply let it sit cooking, unstirred for a bit. For cubed meat you would brown on each side. For this chicken just let it cook until it’s browned a bit then stir it up and let it sit some more. You’re not going to get all sides browned.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare your garnishes.
  4. Once your chicken is browned toss it with some of the buffalo sauce. I didn’t measure.
  5. Serve hot over warmed tortillas with whatever garnish you like.

To be honest, I wasn’t overly enthused with this dish. To be fair, my taste buds are not fully back in business. I couldn’t really taste the buffalo sauce but could taste the blue cheese, which must have been really strong. And I could taste a sprig or two of cilantro What I really wanted to do was “bread” the chicken because I believe that buffalo sauce sticks better to chicken that’s breaded in some capacity. I just didn’t feel like futzing around with any breading so I opted not to but I do think that would have made a big difference in how I felt about this dish. If I could taste the food that would certainly help as well!

I plan to take the leftovers to work with me for lunch this week so hopefully one of these days my taste buds return in full and I can give a more accurate depiction of my thoughts on this recipe.

As an aside, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the tortillas. I like the size but these babies were thicker than normal flour tortillas. The texture seemed to compete with or detract from the meat.

The Perfect Grilled Cheese



I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate and practice making grilled cheese sandwiches this week. I stayed home sick from work all week and mainly ate toast and grilled cheese. I had no taste so I didn’t want to waste my food/meals/calories on something new or super tasty. Plus I had zero energy to cook. In fact making grilled cheese required too much energy on some days.

One of my favorite grilled cheese sandwiches is made with chipotle mayo and tomato. I tried to reblog my old post but apparently I’ve previously reblogged it and WordPress only allows you to reblog a blog once.


But it doesn’t really matter because the point I’m trying to make in this blog is less about the ingredients and more about the technique. I’ve been making grilled cheese for many, many years. Sometimes they turn out great. More often than not, the bread cooks too quickly as the cheese takes forever to melt. So I’ve compiled some tips that will allow you to make the perfect grilled cheese. See below.

  • Cook open-face  and covered on a very low heat. You will probably have to experiment with your stove top but I set mine to “2” and it was perfect. In fact by the time the cheese had melted the bread seemed like it could go a bit longer so I cranked the temperature up to “6” for about a minute. I prepared everything and placed the sandwich in the pan. Then I turned the heat on, covered the pan and walked away for a little while. It takes longer, but I promise you it is well worth it. This is especially important if you’re lathering your sandwich in any type of mayonnaise. I’ve noticed that when I cook a grilled cheese sandwich over higher heat when using mayo, the mayo seems to evaporate or soak into the bread. I like to be able to feel and taste that layer of mayonnaise and cooking on a low heat will allow you to achieve that.
  • If you’re using sliced tomato, make sure to blot the slices with paper towel to try to get them as dry as possible.
  • Use shredded cheese, it melts faster.
  • Use a cheese that’s semi-soft and creamy, it melts faster. I love fontina, Muenster, Havarti, mozzarella or Tillamook’s Colby-jack. Harder cheeses are fine to work with they just don’t melt as well, in my opinion.
  • If you’re using cooked bacon (and I highly suggest this), I like to use smaller pieces of bacon. Have you ever bitten into a grilled cheese made with entire slices and in one fell swoop or bite accidentally removed all or most of your bacon slice because your teeth didn’t saw through the meat? It happens to me all the time. Also I don’t like when the meat is not evenly distributed across your sandwich. I like bacon in every bite. I’ve found that using smaller pieces of bacon makes a better eating experience for me.
  • Cover your entire piece of bread with whatever spread you’re using. I prefer butter, hands down, but I know some people use a butter spread. You can also use mayonnaise for grilling. I think it makes your bread softer, but you can use it. I’ve even used cooking spray before. You don’t need to gob on your desired spread, just make sure it’s completely covered. When I notice a dry spot of bread I’ll scrape at a spot of bread that looks like it’s thick with butter to get some of that butter over onto the dry area of bread.
  • Rotate your pan. Sometimes your stove top doesn’t cook evenly. Or maybe it’s your pan. Either rotate your pan or rotate the bread within the pan. Just make sure that your pieces of bread are as evenly cooked as possible.
  • Allow to cool a minute before cutting, if cutting. Otherwise your cheese goes everywhere on your plate!

By today I had run out of the Muenster I was using and instead had only Monterrey jack. It was fine, but I’m telling you that a semi-soft cheese makes all the difference. Don’t be afraid of piling on the shredded cheese. I hate to tell you this but grilled cheese is not low-fat. It never will be. So why skimp on the best part (the cheese)?

One thing I’ve never tried, but should, is using browned butter as the spread for a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve never found a dish or baked good that didn’t taste better when using browned butter.

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Bacon Stroganoff


I searched high and low for a bacon stroganoff recipe on the internet. There aren’t that many recipes out there which surprises me because I think I’ve seen nearly every type of stroganoff you can imagine – even meatball! (Meatball Stroganoff should be my next try.) So I took my mom’s basic recipe for stroganoff and a pound of bacon and went from there. I had to wing it a little after I made a roux, added the cream of mushroom soup and got a curdled mess. So I poured in enough cream to give it a consistency of a cream sauce, like an alfredo or something. I almost didn’t bother with adding the sour cream, but sour cream is what makes stroganoff, no?

Plus my taste buds were a little off while I was making this dish (I was on the verge of full-blown sickness replete with zero taste buds) so I added some salt and then became terrified that I’d added too much but couldn’t even taste it. I figured the sour cream would help offset the saltiness if there were any.

I realized recently (because it seems like I’ve made so many variations of stroganoff) that I really do not care for egg noodles. In my opinion they are flimsy and I don’t enjoy the shape. So for this dish instead of egg noodles I swapped pappardelle noodles, which are like a very wide fettuccine. You could use any shape of noodle you prefer though. Or you could stick with the traditional egg noodle.

For some reason I always like to take pictures with the sauce on top of the noodles. I don’t know why. It doesn’t look any better in my opinion and I grew up where my mom mixed everything together. I did that again for this recipe but opted not to publish the sauce-on-top version because I don’t think it does justice. You can’t really see the bits of bacon that are the star of the show in this dish. So you’ll see pictures only of the noodles mixed with the sauce, but serve it as you prefer!

ingredients.

  • 1 lb. bacon, chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 8 oz. mushrooms cleaned and quartered
  • 1 T. minced garlic salt or 1 clove minced garlic
  • 3 c. heavy cream, half and half or milk
  • 1 14.5 oz. can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1/3 c. pasta water
  • 16 oz. wide egg noodles, cooked
  • salt and pepper, to taste

directions.

  1. In a large skillet over medium-low heat cook bacon, mushrooms and shallots and minced garlic until bacon is crisp, stirring occasionally. I began by cooking the bacon a bit on its own first, then added the mushrooms. I let the mushrooms and bacon cook a bit while I chopped the shallots. Then I added the shallots and garlic. It took a while but you want the bacon to be crispy. Do not drain the bacon fat. You need it to make a roux.
  2. Stir in flour. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. The flour will bubble up in the grease.
  3. Stir in condensed soup. The mixture will look curdled. Slowly add the cream/milk. Simmer 10 minutes, uncovered. Stir in sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.
  4. Prepare noodles according to package directions. While the noodles are boiling, add 1/3 cup of pasta water to the bacon sauce.
  5. Serve sauce over noodles. Or mix sauce with noodles. Your choice!

Tex-Mex Chicken Enchiladas



I roasted two whole chickens for my diabetic dog and he turned up his nose at the meat. Hmph. What do do with all that cooked chicken? Got it. Re-make an old blog post and update the recipe and pics. Winner!

I love this recipe because it’s super fast. You literally mix all the ingredients together and slap the mixture into tortillas, top with more mixture, cheese and bake for 40 minutes. It’s fast and easy and looks impressive!

I changed the recipe slightly from when I last made this dish six years ago. I used low-carb tortillas because they weren’t egregiously priced at the grocery store this morning and I love how much fiber they contain. I swear they don’t taste any different than regular flour tortillas. I added a bit more chicken and a bit more salsa, plus added some garlic and cilantro to the mixture. I used eight tortillas instead of the recommended six and topped the dish with some fresh cilantro before cooking. After I pulled the dish out of the oven I topped my enchilada with pico de gallo and cubed avocado.


ingredients.

  • 1 can (10-3/4 oz) Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 c. salsa
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/3 c. fresh cilantro
  • 2 c. chopped cooked chicken
  • 2 c. shredded Monterey jack Cheese, divided equally
  • 8 flour tortillas (6”) warmed
  • pico de gallo (for garnish)
  • diced avocado (for garnish)
  • cilantro (for garnish)
  • sour cream (for garnish)

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 directions.

  1. Stir soup, sour cream, salsa, cilantro, garlic and chili powder in medium bowl.
  2. Stir 1 cup salsa mixture, chicken, and cheese in large bowl.
  3. Divide chicken mixture among tortillas.
  4. Roll up tortillas and place seam side up in a 2 qt. shallow baking dish.img_2761
  5. Pour remaining salsa sauce mixture over filled tortillas.img_2762
  6. Sprinkle more shredded cheese on top.  Cover baking dish with tin foil.img_2763
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until enchiladas are hot and bubbling. (Remove tin foil after 30 minutes so cheese melts better. Put under your broiler for a minute or two if needed.)
  8. Top with desired toppings.

I totally made this wrong and didn’t know it until I was re-blogging but the entire time I was making dish I kept thinking how the dish just seemed wrong. I have a tendency to not fully read directions which results in some interesting twists and turns at times. In this instance I mixed all ingredients together right from the star. So at the end I had to top the enchiladas with more sauce that contained chicken. Not a big deal … it’s just that in most enchiladas the meat is inside the tortilla not on top!

Le Food Snob

My mom sent me this recipe and though it’s far from traditional enchiladas, these really are amazing: rich and heavy with sauce and cheese, one enchilada will sustain you for hours. I decided we would make these for dinner tonight because Kiki saw the picture in my gallery and thought they looked good. These are super easy and super fast to make.

* Prep. 10 minutes * Bake 40 minutes * Makes 6 servings *

ingredients.

  • 1 can (10-3/4 oz) Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 c. salsa
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 c. chopped cooked chicken
  • 2 c. shredded Monterey jack Cheese, divided equally
  • 6 flour tortillas (6”) warmed
  • 1 small tomato, chopped (optional)
  • 1 green onion, sliced (optional)
  • Lettuce chopped to sprinkle over Enchilada when eating (optional)

directions.

  1. Stir soup, sour cream, salsa and chili powder in medium bowl.
  2. Stir 1 cup salsa mixture…

View original post 189 more words

Pasta Bolognese


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I made this dish over six years ago and stumbled upon it recently when I decided to start remaking some recipes from blog posts past.

Like the last time I made it, my dad is visiting. When the sauce was simmering away on the stove my dad kept commenting how amazing it smelled and asked if I had ever made it before. I told him that I had, and that, in fact, he had been in town the last time I’d made it too. Interestingly enough when he dug into the pasta, he had the near exact same reaction as he did six years ago. (“This is good. This is good. No. You don’t understand. This is really good!”)

I changed the recipe slightly since the last time I made it. First of all, I doubled most of the ingredients (except for the cream). I wanted a huge pot of this stuff knowing how amazing it was last time. Plus, this time I wanted to use ground beef and ground pork (instead of ground turkey like I used last time I made this) and stores don’t sell ground pork or ground beef in half pound increments.

Because I doubled the recipe and was working with so much food, I needed a pot and a pan to make this recipe (versus one pot that I used last time). I also let the sauce simmer for a lot longer – six hours. I really wanted the sauce to reduce almost all the way down before adding the cream.

Also, I cut out the olive oil. I found that I could sauté the vegetables well enough using the bacon grease alone without having to add any olive oil. However, olive oil should of course be added to the dish if at any point the pan seems too dry. You don’t want your vegetables burning and/or sticking to the pan because there’s not enough fat in the pan.

ingredients.

  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and minced
  • 4 celery stalks, washed and minced
  • 8 fresh tomatoes (on the vine), washed and cut in quarters
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced (or 1 T. minced garlic from the jar)
  • 6 pieces of thick cut bacon, minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 2 28 oz. cans whole plum tomatoes, drained (juice reserved)
  • 1 c. reserved tomato juice
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 2 c. vegetable stock (I used homemade)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese

directions.

  1. Place the minced bacon in a large deep skillet and cook on medium-low heat as you mince the veggies. Add onions and garlic and cook for approximately 20 minutes until the bacon starts to crisp. Continue mincing your veggies. Add veggies carrots and celery and cook for 10 minutes longer or until all the veggies are tender.
  2. When you add the carrots and the celery to the pan, in large pot cook the meat over medium heat until cooked through. Add veggie mixture to meat pot. Add the reserved tomato juice and white wine. Raise the heat a bit. Cook, stirring occasionally until mos the liquid evaporates, about five minutes.
  3. Crush plum tomatoes with a fork and add to pot. Stir. Add fresh, quartered tomatoes. Add the stock. Turn the heat to low and cook at a slow simmer, stirring occasionally.
  4. Mash up fresh tomatoes as the sauce simmers and the tomatoes begin to get soft.
  5. After an hour add salt and pepper to taste. Cook another hour until most liquid is evaporated and the sauce is very thick.
  6. Add the cream and cook for another 15-30 minutes on low heat.
  7. Serve immediately over your favorite noodle.

Le Food Snob

My sister sent me this recipe about a year ago. The comment she made that she liked the smell of the sauce that infused the air in her apartment as it cooked for hours on her stove stuck with me and made me want to try it. I thought I’d lost it; but in moving my stuff from my apartment, I unearthed this treasure of a recipe. Instead of using a mixture of half ground pork and half ground beef as the recipe calls, I used ground turkey (because we had it on hand). I also doubled the amount of veggies called for and added minced garlic.

ingredients.

  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and minced
  • 2 celery stalks, washed and minced
  • 4 fresh tomatoes, washed and cut in quarters
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 pieces of bacon, minced
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (or…

View original post 445 more words

Farm Cookies


“Nope. You don’t need to live on a farm to make or eat these cookies.”

That’s what I said about these cookies when I first published this post on June 14, 2010. Pretty clever, huh?

These cookies are not household in name (most people have never heard of this cookie when I bring it up), but they should be. These cookies are seriously rockstar. They rival Monster Cookies, which I usually ask my mom to make every year when she’s making Christmas cookies (especially if she’s visiting me or I’m visiting her.) Take your standard chocolate chip cookie recipe, add oats, coconut and cornflakes and that is what makes a Farm Cookie. Not sure the title is particularly representative of the cookie but it is what it is. Perhaps someone on a farm created the recipe.

These cookies are so jam-packed with ingredients you will need to stir the ingredients by hand toward the end. I guess unless you have an industrial-sized mixer. I have a pretty hefty one that would probably do the trick but I have it in storage. My old, battered Kitchenaid mixer with a 4.5 quart bowl can’t handle this recipe toward the end. Just a word of warning!

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ingredients.

  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 c. oatmeal
  • 3 c. cornflakes
  • 2 c. coconut flakes
  • 1 heaping c. chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 12-oz. package chocolate chips

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directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Using a mixer, cream butter. Add sugars and cream well. Add eggs and vanilla, mix.
  3. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Add oatmeal, cornflakes, coconut, nuts, and chips.
  4. Roll into large balls and press onto greased cookie sheet. To give your cookies a pretty appearance, dot the top of the cookies with chocolate chips. These cookies will not spread so don’t worry about placing them close together.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool before removing from baking sheet.
  6. Makes approximately 3 dozen large cookies.


Here’s what I said about the recipe back in 2010:

“This is a recipe my mom discovered a few years back. It quickly became one of her most often used cookie recipes. I made these cookies using Blue Bonnet 53% vegetable oil spread (because it was on sale). I kicked in an additional cup of cornflakes and coconut (reflected in the recipe listed above).

“Note: When I add 1 c. ground flaxseed to the batter, I am able to convince myself that eating three or four cookies in a sitting is doing my body a favor.”

I did not add a cup of ground flaxseed today. I don’t know how I would have fit any additional dry ingredients into my mixing bowl. As is, I could barely get the slippery chocolate chips to adhere to the cookie dough! I didn’t say whether I added an additional cup of flaxseed or swapped ingredients but I would say you could easily swap ground flaxseed for the nuts in the recipe. I’m not usually a fan of nuts in cookies but I like them in these cookies. Plus they are chopped up so finely (for the most part) you almost don’t notice there are walnuts in there.

Recipe Rating: 

Taco Soup



“I first made this recipe a few years ago and though it turned out amazing, I hadn’t made it since.”

I wrote that on June 14, 2010 when this post was first published. Fast forward to January 3, 2017 and I hadn’t made the soup since! I stumbled upon the recipe when I was looking back in time horrified by the pictures I took almost seven years ago. It was then that I decided to redo a few recipes so I could redo a few pics.

Here’s what I wrote about the soup back in 2010:

“One of the reasons I really like this soup is because it reminds me of one of the soups the (day) kitchen manager, Christine, used to make when I worked at the Wauwatosa Chancery. We were only allowed to take a spoon and try the soup, but her soups (pizza soup, lasagna soup, chicken Florentine, taco soup, etc.) were so good that we would continue to try the soup all day long. (And try not to get caught as we were trying it!)

“I have no idea where I got this recipe… but it’s super easy to make.”

I actually wish I knew where I got the recipe because it was written surprisingly vague (“can” of this and “jar” or “package” of that). I’m assuming we are using normal-size cans, packages and jars here and added some quantities to be more specific!

ingredients.

  • 1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey browned and drained
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped, browned with meat
  • 1 14.5 or 15 oz can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 14.5 or 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 14.5 or 15 oz can ranch style beans with jalapenos
  • 1 14.5 or 15 oz can diced Rotel
  • 1 14.5 or 15 oz can Mexican stewed tomatoes
  • 1 package taco seasoning (Trader Joe’s sells these individually!)
  • 1 package ranch dip (powder) (Von’s sells these individually!)
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 12-ounce (approximately) jar salsa con queso (optional)
  • 1 12-ounce (approximately) jar spicy black bean dip (optional)

directions.

  1. Brown meat and onions, drain grease. Add canned ingredients, water, bean dip and salsa con queso.
  2. Simmer for one hour. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.


The original recipe does not call for salsa con queso or bean dip, I added that. In 2010 I wrote that you can up the water to between 3 and 4 cups instead of just 2 if you want a thinner soup. But really who wants that? In 2010, I went to three grocery stores and was unable to find Ranch Style beans with jalapenos. Instead I substituted one can of Ranch Style beans along with one small can of diced jalapenos. (In 2017 I had no issues finding Ranch Style Beans with Jalepenos at my local Vons.) In 2010 I seasoned the soup with salt and pepper and green Habanero sauce. I needed no salt, no pepper, nor did I need Habanero sauce in 2017. It was plenty salty and spicy enough!

My dad really enjoyed this soup. It’s mostly healthy, filling and, as he says, clears your sinuses!

 

Recipe rating: 

Sea Salt Buckeye Fudge Bars 


In the beginning of December during an all-hands video teleconference, our VP was talking about how she had made fudge over Thanksgiving break. Which led me to think about fudge (of course). And how I should make some. Flash forward a couple weeks and lots of stress about my dog’s health later and … I realized (today) that I forgot to make fudge. So I decided to look up a recipe for peanut butter fudge (because why not peanut butter?) and found the same variation of a recipe that uses peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar, essentially, all over the internet.

I settled on the recipe found at Brown Eyed Baker’s website. When describing her recipe, she talks about how the fudge reminds her of the inside of a Peanut Butter Buckeye treat, which is a Christmas staple in the Midwest (and maybe other places – as far as I’m concerned it should be a Christmas staple anywhere). Anyway, I got to thinking about Buckeye treats (or peanut butter balls, which is what my family makes) and how time consuming they are. So I thought … why not make an easier version of peanut butter balls? Why not make the bar version. So I poured some chocolate down on the bottom of my pan before pouring in the peanut butter fudge filling and then topped the fudge filling with more chocolate and some flakey sea salt and voila. A star was born.

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ingredients.

  • 1¼ c. (10 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1¼ c. smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4½ c. powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 1/2 c. chocolate chips (I used a combination of semi-sweet and bittersweet)
  • Vegetable shortening or Paraffin wax

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directions.

  1. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler, over low heat on the stove or in 30 second bursts in the microwave. You can use vegetable shortening or paraffin wax to thin out the chocolate. Keep warm on the stovetop.
  2. Butter an 8-inch non-stick baking dish (or line with buttered parchment paper). Pour 1/3 of the chocolate sauce into the pan and set in the fridge or freezer to harden.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter and peanut butter until the mixtures comes to a boil. Remove from the heat.
  4. Add the salt and vanilla extract, then stir in the powdered sugar until smooth and no lumps remain.
  5. Pour the fudge mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Pour the remaining chocolate on top.
  6. Refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour. Cut into squares and serve. Bars can be stored at cool room temperature in an airtight container.

Recipe rating: 

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Grandmother’s Buttermilk Brown Butter {Thanksgiving Day} Corn Bread



No. This isn’t my grandma’s corn bread recipe. And, no. It’s not even Thanksgiving! Two strikes against me on this one.

I made this recipe last year for Thanksgiving and it went over very well with the family who hosted me for Thanksgiving. So well that I intended to make it every year … but plum forgot about cornbread for Thanksgiving 2016! I resurrected the recipe for Christmas Eve when I asked my mom to make turkey and mashed potatoes.

Last year I changed the recipe slightly by browning the butter and using brown sugar instead of white sugar. I did the same again this year only I didn’t have any yellow cornmeal, only white. Didn’t matter. This year’s corn bread was equally as good as last year’s though if I had my preference I would choose yellow cornmeal over white.

Here’s the link to the original recipe, but I swear my version is way better!

ingredients.

directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8-square pan with a generous amount of butter.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-low heat until it starts to bubble and hiss and brown flecks bubble up from the bottom.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

I pulled the cornbread out of the oven after 30 minutes. I’m a firm believer in erring on the side of undercooked to ensure my baked goods come out moist instead of dry and this method has never worked against me. This bread is perfectly moist with a nutty, with a caramel-y flavor (thanks to the brown butter and brown sugar). It can pretty much double as dessert-bread, especially if you top with honey like my sister did. The cornbread was the first thing I sunk my teeth into and both my cousin and my sister immediately exclaimed how good it was.

Sometimes I amaze myself with the great recipe finds and this recipe is definitely one of those.

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Recipe rating: 

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars


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We are wrapping up the end of the year at work. Normally our organization hosts an end-of the year party with our president flying in to the various cities from her corporate office. This past year our organization quadrupled in size making the various holiday parties impossible for her to attend. In lieu of our normal holiday party my group decided to go out to lunch to celebrate and then come back and have a (volunteer) dessert potluck. I had been thinking about making a cake. A bundt cake to be exact. But I lost momentum as the week went by and instead decided to make something a bit more simple.

Enter these bars. My grandma sent me the recipe that she clipped from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. When I saw the recipe in my “bars” file, I knew it was a winner. I had all the ingredients on hand, it seemed simple and it seemed like it would most likely be a crowd pleaser.

The thing about these bars as that they are so simple to make. As easy as making cookie dough and spreading it in a pan. The only added step is to swirl melted chocolate chips on top and waiting until the bars are cooled to cut into them. Easy-peasy, right?

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ingredients.

  • ½ c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 c. (2/3 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt
  • 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate morsels (divided)

directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-by-9-inch pan, coat with vegetable oil spray or cover in parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream peanut butter, butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Beat into peanut butter mixture. Stir in 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Spread in pan. Sprinkle remaining chips on top.
  4. Place in preheated oven for about 3 minutes. Remove from oven and swirl top layer of chocolate chips. Return to oven and bake about 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. Cool in pan. Cut into bars once completely cooled.

img_2366These bars got many compliments from my coworkers and my dad. Me? I was too full from overindulging at lunch to eat dessert! However, I tried one way later on in the evening and determined that if you could make a dessert that is reminiscent of a peanut butter cup (without recreating a peanut butter cup) it would be this dessert.

I like under-baked cookies so I tried to slightly under-bake these bars to make sure they weren’t even a hint of dry. With the marbling of hardened bittersweet chocolate throughout the bar, the bar hints of a peanut butter cup. I swear!

Salted Butterscotch Blondies


Most years on the day after Thanksgiving I will do one of a handful of things: Black Friday shopping (on-line, people -not in the stores!), nab a Christmas tree and decorate the tree and/or my place or spend the entire day baking Christmas cookies. To be honest, it’s been a few years since I spent the day baking Christmas cookies and though I wanted to this year, I was bit pooped from spending all of Thanksgiving cooking. So despite the fact that I had pulled out a bunch of brand-new Christmas cookie recipes to try (courtesy of Food Network Magazine), I could not find the motivation to continue cooking.

This weekend I was craving something sweet and a craving can be the most powerful motivator of all. So I whipped up these blondies (yes, whipped-the recipe is sooooooo easy) to satisfy my sweet tooth.

The original recipe from Food Network Magazine calls for a tablespoon of actual scotch, which I did not have. I do not have scotch listed in the below ingredients. Rest assured that wikipedia tells me that “scotch” is not your standard ingredient for butterscotch so omitting the ingredient from this dish will not render the dish a fraud.

ingredients.

  • 2 sticks plus 2 T. butter
  • 1 3/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1 T. pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. fine salt
  • Flaky sea salt, for topping

directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
  2. Combine 2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and the heavy cream in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally; continue to cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla; set aside to cool.
  3. Melt the remaining 2 sticks butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat until the butter begins to bubble and spit and flecks of brown rise to the top; let cool slightly. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, the eggs and the remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla, then stir in the flour, baking soda and fine salt.
  4. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and pour the butterscotch sauce on top. Gently swirl the sauce into the batter using a knife. (This is nearly impossible to do in batter that uses browned butter so instead it’s fine if you just drizzle the butterscotch on top and let it sit.) Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and let cool completely in the pan. Lift the blondies out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang. Cut into pieces. Eat as is or warmed up with a scoop of ice cream and some butterscotch or caramel sauce on top.

Recipe Rating: 

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Fish Stew



I ❤️ Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes. Every time I do a google search for a recipe and Elise’s website pops up in my browser, I know I have to look no further.

The other day I bought some cod pieces at Trader Joe’s. I was planning on making them for my dog, who has diabetes. One night I checked his blood sugar and it was 43. Unsure if my meter was working, I took him to my vet where his blood sugar was 38. We fed him there and they gave him some sort of topical sugar solution that they rubbed on his gums and his blood sugar went down to 21. I was directed to take him to the emergency room. His blood sugar was unreadable by the time I got there. One overnight stay later, his blood sugar had shot back up to beyond normal amounts and the vet(s) and I puzzled over what had caused his dip. I was given strict orders to feed him the same thing both meals. No deviations. Well. There went my plans to feed him fish because I had been feeding him ground turkey prior to that.

Enter a need to do something with the two pounds of cod I had purchased. I thought about making fish sticks (or fish bites because the pieces of cod did not resemble sticks in any way). But that seemed too time consuming and most likely not all that healthy. Then my mind wandered over to fish stew, which I’ve made once before but not recently. It’s winter here in SoCal (and this year it seems like actual winter with temperatures holding steady in the 60s during the day versus the 70s or 80s of years past) so I thought stew would be an appropriate choice for a meal. Get me some crusty bread for my stew and I’m good to go.

Enter Elise’s dad’s recipe for fish stew, which was perfect because it called for cod and I already had most the ingredients. Plus you can’t go wrong with her recipes. I promise!

ingredients.

  • 6 T. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 2/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 14.5-ounce can of whole or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 8 oz of clam juice
  • 3/4 c. dry white wine (I had an open bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge and used that)
  • approximately 2 lb fish fillets (firm white fish such as halibut, cod, red snapper, or sea bass), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Pinch of dry oregano
  • Pinch of dry thyme
  • Hot sauce to taste (I used Sriracha)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste

directions.

  1. Heat olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant and soft (approximately 10 minutes), add the garlic and cook a minute more. Add parsley and stir. Add tomato and tomato paste, and cook over medium-low for 10 minutes or so breaking up the tomatoes if you are using whole tomatoes.
  2. Add clam juice, dry white wine, and fish. Bring to a simmer and simmer until the fish is cooked through and easily flakes apart, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add seasoning and hot sauce. Serve immediately. Makes approximately 6 to 8 servings depending on your appetite.

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I’m really not sure why the smell of fish gets such a bad rap. I get that it’s a faux pas to heat or reheat fish while you’re at work. I mean, I get it. But I realized tonight that I actually love the smell of fish. When this soup was simmering away on my stove I kept thinking … Mmm – love the smell of this stew, in particular, the fish!

Here’s what happens to me when I eat stew or soup that pairs well with crusty bread (and what stew/soup doesn’t?): I end up eating bread and butter for dinner. Bread and butter dunked in the broth of the stew/soup. And that’s exactly what I did tonight. I won’t tell you the exact amount of bread slices I ate tonight, but I will tell you it was somewhere between two and four. OK. It was four. I had cut four slices of bread for my dad and I to enjoy and my dad did not partake in the bread. So what was a girl to do besides eat all four slices? For that reason, I didn’t eat much of the stew (other than the broth). But I had a few bites in between dunking my bread, and I will tell you that it was mighty good.

My dad thought the soup was spicy and asked why so (Sriracha sauce-I put a hefty squirt into the soup). I had to add what seemed like a ton of salt to the stew. I love salt though so maybe you won’t need as much.

At any rate, this is the perfect stew for winter. The perfect recipe to use if you need to use up an overabundance of fish. And it is so simple to make!

 

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Triple Layer Cheesecake, Pumpkin and Pecan Pie



Even though I gave my dad first dibs at choosing the Thanksgiving menu this year, he allowed me to choose the dessert. Mainly because he knows how much I love dessert but also because I would have to make it. Neither of us overly like pumpkin pie, but it doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving unless you have one on the table, right? This recipe was my way of bringing pumpkin pie to the table without feeling like I was missing out on something better. It contains a layer of cheese cake, pumpkin pie and pecan pie. My grandma clipped this recipe from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and sent it to me. Good find, Grams!

This pie was quite an undertaking. It’s actually not quite as hard as it sounds, though people often tell me that I have a different understanding of what’s “hard” in the kitchen. It was quite an undertaking for me because I believe I chose the wrong sized pie dish. The recipe said it makes a 9-inch pie but I couldn’t fit all the ingredients in my pie pan. And to be honest, there was so much extra pecan pie filling when all was said and done that I didn’t think a 10-inch pie pan would have faired well either. I do have a nice deep-dish le creuset pie pan that probably would have been perfect for the occasion. Maybe I can try this pie another time using a different dish.

Because all my ingredients would not fit into the pan, I wasn’t able to make three separate layers. Also, I actually thought it would make more sense if you layered the pie with the cream cheese on the bottom, pecan in the middle and pumpkin on top. That’s in order of most dense to least dense because the pumpkin layer is all liquid. So the way the recipe reads now you are pouring a heavier density layer of pecan onto liquid pumpkin and you know what happens? It sinks. Even if you pour it carefully. It all sank right into the middle of my pie. And then of course I had a bunch of the pecan filling that wouldn’t even fit, and my cup (or pie pan) was already runneth over at that point.

A bit into the baking when the pumpkin layer was starting to puff up, I added the rest of the pecan filling around the outside edges to try to get a layer of pecan that covered the entire dish. It looked successful as I was pouring but when I pulled the finished product out of the oven … it just looked like pumpkin pie with some pecans peppered on top and like the pecan filling had sunk completely to the middle. It looked like a pumpkin pie with some random pecans sprinkled on top. Oh well. It looked decent just not what I had been envisioning.

Another thing that made me think the pie was going to be a total bust is that it seemed to take waaaaaaay longer than the amount of time called for in the recipe to bake this pie. That could be because I added more pecan about halfway through. When I finally pulled the pie out of the oven, it was still pretty jiggly in the middle but starting to brown A LOT. I didn’t want to risk a dried out cheesecake layer so I yanked it hoping that the pie would firm up/set when it cooled.

Well, it mostly did. When I cut into the pie, it oozed a bit of the pecan filling making it look like I garnished the pie in caramel (or some other sauce) when I plated it. You can see the sauce in the pictures.

But the taste… oh the taste of this pie. It literally tasted like the best thing I had ever had. Literally. I detest pumpkin pie but this pie I could eat all day long. And it had a substantial amount of pumpkin in it! It tasted like mostly pumpkin with some cheesecake and a bit of pecan. But the flavor and texture combination worked so well. If I were going to someone else’s Thanksgiving and had to bring a dessert, this is the dessert I would bring. I mean I would make it in a bigger dish and try to cook it completely next time, but I would definitely bring this pie.

My dad and I felt like we ate too much for Thanksgiving dinner (though I swear I didn’t eat that much – I didn’t even eat half of what I put on my plate!) so we decided to have this pie the following morning. For breakfast. I whipped up some homemade whipped cream (1 cup heavy whipping cream + two tablespooons sugar) to top off the pie but I think this pie would also be phenomenal with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or maybe some butter pecan. You’ve gotta try this pie. Trust me!

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cream cheese layer ingredients.

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 T. flour
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • One 10-inch deep dish blind-baked pie or tart shell

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pecan layer ingredients.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 c. corn syrup (clear or dark)
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 2 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ c. chopped pecans

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pumpkin layer ingredients.

  • 1 c. pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 2/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 T. granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 T. plus 1 tsp. flour
  • ½ c. heavy whipping cream
  • ½ c. whole pecan halves

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directions.

  1. Make cream cheese layer: Place cream cheese and sugar in bowl of a mixer fitted with flat paddle. Beat until combined. Add egg yolk, flour and vanilla and beat to combine. Use a rubber spatula to place cream cheese filling into bottom of the blind-baked pie shell. Place pie in freezer 20 minutes while making the next layer.
  2. Make pecan layer: In a mixing bowl, beat eggs by hand with a wire whisk. Add corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla. Stir to blend. Stir in chopped pecans. Remove pie from freezer and pour pecan filling over cream cheese layer.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Make pumpkin layer: Place pumpkin, sugars, spices and salt in bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add eggs, flour and cream and pulse to combine. Remove pie from freezer and carefully pour pumpkin filling over pecan filling. Decorate with pecan halves.
  5. Bake in preheated oven 1 hour to 1 hour and 25 minutes or until filling is set. Cool pie completely before serving. Store in your refrigerator if not eating immediately and/or if you have leftovers.

The original recipe has you putting the pecan layer on top of the pumpkin layer but during my second go-round of making this pie (for my dad’s birthday) I decided to put the pumpkin on top of the pecan, since the pecan layer is more dense. I noticed that the pecan layer started to want to poke through the top when I very delicately began pouring the pumpkin on top but I still think putting the pumpkin on top makes most sense.

The original recipe also has you making this recipe in a 9-inch pie dish but please do not try this. I promise you that it won’t fit. On the second-go round I used a 10-inch deep-dish (le creuset) pie dish and the ingredients fit perfectly into this dish.

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Crispy-Skinned Herb Roasted Turkey


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I asked my dad if he wanted to fly in for Thanksgiving this year instead of me flying back home to the Midwest when I realized I was low on cash. One of my dogs was diagnosed with diabetes in June, and it’s been a bit crippling to my pocket the last few months.

Since moving to the West Coast, my Thanksgivings haven’t been all that typical. One year I had dinner with my friend and her parents. Another year I went out to eat with a coworker at an expensive seafood restaurant overlooking the ocean. Last year was spent at my then boyfriend’s family Thanksgiving. And on the really good years I was with my dad and/or my sister and I was lucky enough to be able to cook Thanksgiving-like foods. And even though I’ve had a few good years making Thanksgiving-like foods, I have never actually roasted a turkey. Can you believe that? I overcooked some turkey legs in a crock pot one year but I’ve never attempted to roast a turkey.

So this year when my dad asked what I wanted to do for Thanksgiving, I told him I definitely wanted to make the traditional spread. Having made only cornbread the year prior (along with non-Thanksgiving foods on Friendsgiving), I was ready to go all out.

I had found a few turkey recipes that I’d amassed over the years but the recipe my dad suggested was one I found in the November 2016 Food Network Magazine Holiday Best section. The recipe is courtesy of Jeff Mauro.

The recipe online differs slightly from the one I have in print. It says to start the turkey three days prior, while the print version says two. I think the on-line version is correct. I remember remarking to my dad as I was wrapping the turkey in Saran-wrap two days before Thanksgiving that the recipe didn’t make sense. As such, I was afraid I had begun preparing the turkey too late and that my turkey would turn out to be crap.

Despite getting a late start on the turkey prep and thinking that I had overcooked the turkey (the temp read 180 when I checked the turkey prior to the two-hour mark), the turkey came out totally perfect. Crispy skin. Juicy meat. The meat was actually infused with flavor from the rub. I haven’t had roast turkey in a while, but this turkey seemed like the best turkey I’ve ever had. Jeff Mauro describes it as, “The best darned thing I’ve ever made,” and I would have to agree.

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ingredients.

  • One 12- to 14-pound fresh Amish turkey (I used a Kosher turkey; I don’t believe Amish turkeys exist in the great State of California)
  • 3 T. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic (I actually used minced garlic from a jar but I’m pretty sure this is intended to be either garlic salt or garlic powder)
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed
  • 4 T. butter, melted

directions.

  1. Three days before cooking the turkey, rinse, clean and dry the turkey thoroughly.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the salt, granulated garlic, black pepper, bay leaves, thyme, orange zest and rosemary until still coarse but uniform, about 10 times. Rub the inside of the turkey with the salt mix. Then carefully slip your fingers under the breast skin and rub a liberal amount UNDER the skin. Flip the turkey on its side and sprinkle more of the salt mixture on the thigh, wing and leg. Repeat on other side.
  3. Place the bird in a large zipper-top bag or brining bag. (If neither is available, cover in plastic wrap.) Place the bird on a wire rack on a sheet pan breast-side up, and place in the fridge away from any raw food (on a lower shelf). Leave in the fridge for 3 days.img_2194
  4. On the night before cooking, remove the turkey from the fridge and take it out of the plastic. The skin should be dry and the salt should be dissolved. If any large patches of moisture are present, wipe with paper towels. (I never did this step.) Place back in the fridge, uncovered, for another 8 hours to dry out.
  5. On the day of, take the turkey out of the fridge 1 hour before cooking. img_2195
  6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Fit a roasting pan with a wire v-rack.
  7. Put the turkey in the roasting pan and brush with the melted butter. Roast for 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to 325 degrees F and roast, basting occasionally, until the thigh registers 165 degrees F, about another 2 hours. Let the turkey rest for 30 to 45 minutes before carving.

I started this effort Tuesday night and unwrapped the Turkey on the morning of, intending to make the turkey for dinner (by about 6 or 7 pm). This means that the Turkey was wrapped in plastic wrap for less than 48 hours. Despite this glitch, the Turkey turned out amazing. Which makes me wonder what it would have tasted like had I started the turkey a day or so earlier. Regardless, I would recommend this recipe to anyone looking for a roast Turkey on Thanksgiving or any other day of the year.

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Easy Turkey Gravy


When I was growing up, gravy of any kind was made on the stove within the roasting pan. My mom or either of my grandmas would place the roasting pan across two burners and mix the ingredients together in the pan. I had no idea what they did to get gravy to whatever was in the pan other than add some flour.

I hadn’t really considered a gravy recipe until the turkey was nearly out of the oven. Luckily I found an easy recipe at thekitchn.com. I didn’t think it was going to work at first because my roux didn’t turn into a thick, gloppy mixture. It was very runny. As I was preparing to add some cornstarch (mixed with water) to thicken the gravy, a funny thing happened. The very thin sauce began to thicken slightly. Then more slightly. And eventually the sauce thickened into the most perfect gravy consistency I had ever seen.

I didn’t add any salt, pepper or herbs to this gravy. It was perfect as is.

ingredients.

  • 1/4 c. turkey fat
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. pan drippings
  • 1 to 2 cups broth or water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional extras: splash of sherry, splash of wine, teaspoon of minced herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage

directions.

  1. After you’ve removed the turkey from the oven and set it aside to rest, set the pan over medium-high heat on the stove-top. You may need to span two burners. When the pan drippings are hot and sputtering, pour in a cup of broth and begin scraping all the bits from the bottom of the pan.
  2. Pour the contents of the deglazed pan drippings into a measuring cup and place this in the refrigerator or freezer, wherever there is space. (Note: For a very smooth gravy, strain the pan drippings before adding them to the gravy.) In the 30 minutes it takes to rest the turkey, the fat and drippings will separate and the fat will begin to harden. This makes it easier to skim off just the fat for making the gravy.
  3. You want about a cup of pan drippings and 1/4 cup of fat. If you have less drippings, you can make up the difference with broth. If you have less fat, you can make up the difference with oil. If you have more fat, discard a little of the fat until you have 1/4 cup. If you have more drippings, use less broth in the next step. If you have a lot more of either, you can double the recipe.
  4. Skim the fat from the top of the pan drippings (or use a fat separator) and warm it in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the fat is hot, whisk in the flour to form a thin paste. Let this cook for a few minutes until bubbly.
  5. Pour in the pan drippings and whisk to combine with the roux. This will form a thick, gloppy paste. (Note, this never happened for me. When I poured in the drippings, I had a very thin sauce.)
  6. Finish the gravy by whisking in a half cup of broth. You can add more broth for a thinner gravy or let the gravy cook a few minutes for a thicker gravy. (Note, I didn’t add any additional broth because my roux was so thin. It did thicken up as I let it cook over medium-high heat but it only thickened up some. It thickened up enough to be the consistency of gravy. It was perfect, actually!) Taste the gravy and add salt, pepper, and any extras to taste.
  7. Gravy can be kept refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to three months. Reheat gently over low heat while whisking occasionally to prevent the sauce from breaking.

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Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Bacon


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I have this thing with sweet potatoes. I am OBSESSED with them. But not on Thanksgiving. I’m not sure why. Sweet Potato dishes are usually the first thing I’ll pass. Maybe it’s the marshmallows. Or the other overly sweet accoutrements that normally accompany the spud. Whatever the reason, sweet potatoes don’t top my list of Thanksgiving faves.

Yet still when I was creating my Thanksgiving day menu I did not want to skip the dish. I found a few decent looking recipes to try, and my dad chose this one that I found in Food Network Magazine. I thought it was an excellent pick at first glance because it contained bacon. Bacon makes any dish better. But I was worried that the maple syrup would make the dish overly sweet.

On Thanksgiving day, I decided to make this dish in the morning, and then reheat while the turkey was resting. It’s a good thing I started this dish early because I found I only had one tablespoon of maple syrup in my refrigerator. Enter my dad who saved the day. He first walked to several area stores looking for maple syrup. He came back with pancake syrup, which I had to decline. Then he offered to bike to the nearby Von’s where he found some expensive-looking maple syrup that hails from Wisconsin. Thanks to him I was able to make the recipe as it should be.

I tasted these spuds hours before I served them on the Thanksgiving day table and knew they were going to be a hit. I didn’t even mind the sweetness. I’m not sure what it is about them that makes them stand apart but I was more than pleasantly surprised by this recipe. I would serve it in years to come knowing it would impress and please Thanksgiving day diners. My dad’s not overly fond of sweet potatoes in general and he really loved the dish as well.

ingredients.

  • 3 lbs. sweet potatoes (4 to 5 medium)
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 T. apple cider
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream, warmed
  • 6 T. salted butter
  • 3 T. maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt

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directions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Bake until completely soft, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly. Scoop out the flesh into a medium bowl and set aside. Discard the skins.
  2. Cook the bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until crisp, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the cider to the drippings in the saucepan and cook until mostly evaporated, about 30 seconds.
  3. While the bacon is cooking, heat the heavy cream and butter over medium-low heat until the butter is melted/the mixture is warm.
  4. Add the potatoes, heavy cream/butter, maple syrup and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; mash with a potato masher until smooth and warmed through.
  5. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl; top with the bacon and drizzle with more maple syrup before serving.

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Thanksgiving Day Bacon and Biscuit Dressing


I’m afraid the pictures for this dressing do the recipe no justice. But you’ll have to trust me on the fact that any dressing recipe made out of biscuits and bacon is going to rock your world. This one rocked mine. My grandma sent me a recipe that she clipped from Penzey’s magazine. I could not find a link to the recipe on-line but it’s similar to other one’s you’ll find on the internet.

I had to improvise a bit on this recipe which resulted in a very large batch so if you learn from my mistakes and follow the recipe below, you should get a similar dish that tastes just as awesome but doesn’t require 20 people to finish it off.

First off, I had to make biscuits specifically for the recipe. They were yeast-biscuits which I’ve never made before. They didn’t turn out that pretty, but I was fine with that because I intended to use them in the dressing recipe anyway. I made the biscuits a few days ahead of time and froze them, thawing them the night before.

The day of I got going early with this recipe by baking the biscuits. While the turkey was in the oven, I began prepping the rest of the ingredients. This is where things went awry. I had purchased three large yellow onions for two Thanksgiving Day recipes. However, I didn’t realize that this recipe did NOT call for LARGE onions. So I’m sauteing all my vegetables (onions, celery and mushrooms) and I’m noticing that the pan is quite voluminous. I glance over at the biscuits sitting not that far away and think … huh … it appears that there are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more vegetables than biscuits going on here. Now I’m not a stuffing/dressing expert, but I would think that you want your “bread” to be the start of the stuffing/dressing show.

What to do, what to do. In the freezer I had stored the remaining biscuits that I had not already baked/browned. So I took the leftover biscuits from the freezer, but them into cubes and threw them in a pan to bake right along with the turkey. So I doubled the biscuit recipe to make up for the fact that I probably had four-times the amount of onions called for. I still only used 4 cups of chicken stock and, because of that, thought perchance the dressing would be dry. It wasn’t at all! It was moist but not mushy, which is good because you never want your dressing to be mushy. The bevy of fresh herbs in the recipe, gave it good flavor. I made myself a huge plate of turkey, potatoes, and dressing and sadly (or not so sadly, depending on how you look at it) could not finish the entire plate.

Because this recipe yielded so much darn dressing, I was able to create my favorite Thanksgiving Day Leftovers Bowl to take in my lunch next week (and then some).

ingredients.

  • Twelve 4-inch biscuits, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (this recipe is similar to one I used)
  • 1 1/2 lb. bacon
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 5 celery stalks, diced
  • 16 oz. white button mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 T. chopped fresh sage
  • 4 T. chopped fresh tarragon
  • 4 T. chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 T. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 to 2 tsp. salt, to taste
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 4 to 5 c. chicken stock

directions.

  1. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F.
  2. Spread the biscuits out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F.
  3. In a deep sauté pan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  4. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Set the pan over medium heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, mushrooms, and herbs and cook until the celery is soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl. Add the bacon to the bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the biscuits and stock and stir to combine.
  5. Transfer the dressing to a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until the dressing is lightly browned, about 20 minutes more.

In order to have everything timed perfectly, I completed the instructions up to the part where you add in the stock. I mixed the biscuits with the rest of the mixture and then set everything aside until the turkey was out of the oven. Then I quickly mixed the stock into the rest of the ingredients and threw the dressing into the oven. In the fifty minutes it took to bake this dish, I let the turkey “rest,” I made the gravy and I baked the biscuits. With only one oven to use this year I had to choose the exact right recipes–I couldn’t have too many oven-dependent dishes–and I ended up choosing correctly!

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All-Purpose Pie Dough {blind-baked}


I don’t have a lot to say about this pie dough recipe other than it worked out great in my Thanksgiving day pie. I failed to take pics before the finished product above (my blind-baked pie shell). Whoops-a-daisy!

I found this recipe in Bon Appetit and have to say I was intrigued by it–mainly because of the apple cider vinegar. Pie dough recipes by nature are putzy to me. But this one seemed even more putzy given the dissolving of the sugar in the apple cider vinegar and water on top of the 10 minute wait before you can use the concoction.

But I liked the promise of a “flaky” pie crust sans the normal bits of butter (or cream cheese) to aerate the dough while in the oven. My pie filling (more on that later) was so fabulous, I’m not sure the crust mattered much. But I will say that I ate all the crust on my piece of pie–even the part that didn’t have any pie ingredients sticking to it. Good enough for me!

ingredients.

  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T. hot water
  • 3½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ c. (2½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt

directions.

  1. Stir sugar, vinegar, and hot water in a small measuring glass to dissolve sugar. Add ⅓ cup ice water and stir to melt ice; chill in freezer until very cold, about 10 minutes (do not let it freeze).
  2. Mix flour and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Add butter using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the dry mixture until largest pieces of butter are pea-size. Using your fingers, rub the butter pieces between your fingers to incorporate into the flour mixture. Continue doing so until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal.
  3. Gather into a mound and make a well in the center. Pour in sugar mixture, using your fingertips to slowly incorporate into flour; work in until only a few dry spots remain. Knead until no dry spots remain and dough holds together when pressed.
  4. Divide dough in half, flatten into disks, and wrap each in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

*Dough can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled, or freeze up to 1 month.

If you need to blind bake your crust, follow these instructions found at thekitchn.com:

equipment.

  • 1 9-inch pie plate
  • aluminum foil
  • pie weights, dry beans, or pennies
  • baking sheet

directions.

  1. Heat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Roll out the pie crust and transfer it to your pie plate as normal. Trim the edges and crimp.
  2. Cut off a large square of aluminum foil and use it to line the pie. Snug the lining right up against the edges and sides of the pie.
  3. Pour the pie weights or beans, etc. into the pie dish. Make sure they cover the bottom of the pie and press against the sides of the pie. This will keep the pie from puffing up and the sides from sagging as the crust bakes.
  4. Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake until the edges of the crust are just starting to turn golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven.
  5. Grasp the corners of the foil, and lift the weights out of the pie. Transfer them to a bowl or plate to cool. The bottom of the pie will still look wet and un-cooked at this point. (Here’s where I accidentally stopped the process and my crust turned out fine for my pie!)
  6. Return the crust to the oven. Bake until the bottom looks dry, another 5 minutes. If the pie will not be cooked again with the filling, bake for another few minutes until the edges of the crust have browned and the bottom is lightly golden. The bottom crust will puff a bit as it bakes, but will deflate again when you remove the pie from the oven.
  7.  Check your recipe — some pies are assembled while the crust is still warm, others need the crust to be completely cooled.

Bread Bowl Brie Onion Dip


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In between Thanksgiving breakfast and dinner, I knew I needed something for my dad and I to munch on. I have a cascade of “appetizer” recipes located in my appetizer file I keep. That’s right. I keep an appetizer file. I keep a “bread” file and a “pizza” file and a “cake” file and a “side dish” file… I think you get the picture. I have probably 20 or 25 different “files” of recipes.

I chose this recipe (with my dad’s approval) because I love French onion soup, I love Brie cheese and I love bread. I reasoned that I would also love this appetizer. I was right.The recipe is intended to be a dip. You’re supposed to scoop out the onion and cheese mixture with either crackers or bread crisps. Well I found that I liked it better by simply cutting the bread into slices. I didn’t like the idea of wasting the bread bowl, plus the flavors meld right into that thing so it seems like a shame to not eat the onion and cheese smothered bread.

The recipe is slightly to putzy to make – the putziest part is making the bread bowl. But the rest of it isn’t too bad, especially if you have a mandolin with which you can easily slice up the onion. I found this recipe in the November 2016 edition of Food Network Magazine.

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ingredients.

  • 2 T. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 T. chopped fresh chives, plus more for topping
  • 1 loaf French bread (18 to 20 inches)
  • 8 oz. brie cheese, rind removed, thinly sliced
  • Crackers and/or crudites, for serving (optional)

directions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and thyme sprigs, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is caramelized, 15 to 17 minutes (reduce the heat if the onion is getting too dark).
  2. Add the Worcestershire sauce and cook until the skillet is dry, about 1 minute. Add the beef broth and cook, stirring, until the mixture is slightly saucy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly; discard the thyme sprigs and stir in the chives.
  3. Cut your loaf of bread in half and using a small serrated knife, hollow out the bottom bread loaf, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell. Drizzle the inside of the bread with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fill the loaf with half of the brie, then top with the onion mixture and the remaining brie. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake until the brie melts and the bread is toasted, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, if desired, slice the reserved half of bread into pieces and arrange on a separate baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until toasted, 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the dish with more chives and serve with the toasted bread and crackers and/or crudites, if desired, for dipping. Alternatively, cut the loaf into two inch slices and eat with your fingers.

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