Almond Biscotti

Having realized that I forgot to make any biscotti over the holidays, I had to remedy the situation right away by making a batch.  I kept it simple and went with a fairly plain almond biscotti.  But sometimes plain can be so, so good.

Because I’m me, I made a few changes – I omitted the egg wash and orange zest and I mixed the dough in my stand mixer instead of in the same sauce pan that the butter gets melted.  Click the link below to Bridget’s blog if you want to see the original instructions.  But I was very happy with the results.  I found the dough to be a little bit more sticky than any other biscotti I have made.  It made shaping the logs slightly difficult, but the final product was just fine.  I should also point out that I don’t like my biscotti overly brown, so I shortened each baking time by a minute or two.

Almond Biscotti

Source:  adapted from The Way The Cookie Crumbles

3¼ cups (15.6 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 large eggs
10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 teaspoon salt
1½ cups (10.5 ounces) sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or orange liqueur
1 tablespoon orange zest – sadly I omitted this
1 cup slivered or sliced almonds

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, mix the flour and baking powder.

2. In a small sauce pan, heat the butter just until melted. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Stir in the sugar and salt.  Stir in the eggs, one at time; add the extract, liqueur, and zest.  Slowly mix in the flour mixture, then the almonds.

3. Divide the dough in half.  On the prepared baking sheet, shape each half into a log 2-inches across and ¾-inch high. Brush with egg white. Bake for 30 minutes, until puffed and golden.

4. Carefully transfer the logs to a cooling rack; cool for about 30 minutes.  Leave the oven on.

5. Slice each log on the diagonal into ½-inch thick cookies.  Lay half of the cookies cut side down on the baking sheet.  Bake 11 minutes; remove the pan from the oven and, using tongs, turn each cookie over onto its other cut side.  Bake 7 minutes, until the edges are browned. Transfer to a cooling rack.  Repeat with the remaining cookies.

Cream Cheese Lasagna

First of all, I’m really happy I made this lasagna even though there was one major thing I didn’t like about it.  I actually learned a lot by making this recipe.  In the past whenever I made lasagna, I always used an entire box of noodles, creating several layers and when sliced, the pieces never held their shape and they would go sliding all over the plate.  That fact was part of the reason I started making lasagna rolls most recently – they stay neatly rolled and are easy to serve.  But, this recipe calls for just 6 noodles {I used 8} which means less layers and it held together extremely well when sliced.

Another thing I learned, and probably the most obvious, is that cream cheese makes a wonderful lasagna filling!  I never would have thought of that.  Of course ricotta and/or cottage cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan are obvious ingredients.  The cream cheese creates a thicker filling, which also helped to hold the layers together I would guess.

Now, the thing I didn’t care for at all – the lemon zest.  I should have went with my gut and omitted it from the start, but I decided to stay true to the recipe.  We could taste the lemon in the very first bites we took.  We did not like it, but were able to get past it and eat it because there was no way I was going to throw the whole thing out!

Lastly, I concluded that the pepperoni is completely optional.  Sure it added nice flavor, but I could have done without it.  Again my gut told me to leave it out, but I used it anyway.  I don’t regret it like I regret the lemon, but I will probably skip it next time.

Cream Cheese Lasagna

Source:  Runs with Spatulas

6 or 8 Lasagna noodles
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup onion, chopped
salt and pepper, for seasoning
1 pound ground beef
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/4 cup fat-free low-sodium beef broth – I omitted
1 (8 oz) package reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup 2% cottage cheese
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons lemon zest – OMIT
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 (4 oz) package pepperoni or salami slices – I used turkey pepperoni
2 cups (8 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large stockpot over high heat, bring water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and 1 teaspoons olive oil and cook according to package directions until al dente.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add in the onion, and cook until they start to become fragrant and soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the ground beef, breaking up into smaller bits with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle with garlic powder and red pepper flakes and cook until brown (about 8-10 minutes) stirring often. Turn off heat and stir in tomato sauce, paste, and broth until the mixture is fully incorporated.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the cream cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream. Stir in the eggs until well mixed, then add in the salt, nutmeg, parsley, basil, lemon zest, and Italian seasoning.

Spray a 12x8x2 glass {I used a 13×9 which is why I used 8 noodles} or ceramic baking dish with nonstick spray.  Spread part of meat mixture on the bottom of the pan so it is lightly covered. Layer with 3 {4} lasagna noodles. Spoon half of the cheese mixture over the noodles, spreading evenly across the noodles. Top with 1/2 the pepperoni, followed by 1/2 the mozzarella. Repeat with the remaining meat mixture, lasagna noodles, cheese mixture, pepperoni, mozzarella and finally the shredded Parmesan.

Cover lasagna with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes, dabbing off excess grease from the pepperoni if necessary prior to serving {This wasn’t necessary for me because I used turkey pepperoni}.

Serves: 12

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This meal was heavenly!  It really hit the spot for us on a chilly fall night.  I absolutely loved it and will dream about when I can make it again!  Although it is a very common meal, I had never made a version where the meatballs are cooked right in the sauce.    It was definitely worth the extra time too.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Source:  adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, also seen at Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped {I used a white onion}

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree {I used whole tomatoes}

1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 small can of tomato paste

2 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or to taste

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 cup of water (or more)

For the meatballs:

1/2 cup bread crumbs, divided

1/4 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp. dried parsley

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese {I used Parm}

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

1 lb. lean ground beef

For serving:
Freshly cooked spaghetti
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Minced fresh basil

Directions:
To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion to the pot and saute until tender, 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, paste, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and sugar.  Add water to thin the sauce out to your desired consistency.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Let simmer for as long as possible {I went with about 1 hour}.  Since I used canned whole tomatoes, I needed to puree my sauce with my immersion blender right before adding the meatballs.

To make the meatballs, in a medium mixing bowl combine 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs with the milk.  Let the bread crumbs soak for 10 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly.  Form the mixture into meatballs {I had 21 meatballs).  Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce about 45 minutes before the sauce will be finished cooking.  Cover and let simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 45 minutes.

So, my sauce simmered for 1 hour before I added the meatballs and then another 45 minutes with the meatballs.

Transfer freshly cooked pasta to serving dishes.  Top each serving with sauce and meatballs.  Garnish with shredded Parmesan and fresh basil, if desired.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

As if we don’t eat enough regular homemade pizza as it is, we also enjoy pizza dip and now these pizza puffs.  We LOVE pizza!  You should definitely give these a try for your next party.  They are so easy and really tasty!

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

{source:  seen @ Delicious Meliscious, originally from Every Day with Rachael Ray}

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 4 ounces pepperoni, cut into small cubes (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup store-bought pizza sauce
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil- I omitted

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through, then stir in 1 tablespoon basil. Sprinkle the puffs with the remaining 1 tablespoon basil. Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.

Frozen Assets
Freeze the baked puffs in a single layer on a baking sheet, then transfer to a freezer bag. To reheat, bake the frozen puffs on a baking sheet in a 350° oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Hot Pizza Dip

Update 9-9-10:  added pictures 🙂

This was a new recipe that I made for the first time at my sister’s baby shower and I thought it was wonderful.  In the future it will definitely be a party staple just like the famous buffalo chicken dip.  Tim quickly gobbled up the leftover dip after the party!

The recipe says that you can heat it in the microwave for 5 minutes.  But I made it in advance and kept it in fridge overnight.  Then before serving, I baked it at 375 degrees {uncovered} for 20-25 minutes.

Hot Pizza Dip

{source:  allrecipes.com}

Ingredients

1 {8 ounce} package cream cheese, softened

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/4 tsp dried basil

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese {I used 1/2 monterey jack and 1/2 mozzarella}

1 cup grated parm cheese

1 cup pizza sauce or tomato sauce

2 tablespoons chopped green bell peppers – I have omitted before and have also substituted sliced jalapeno

2 ounces turkey pepperoni, chopped

2 tablespoons sliced black olives

Directions

In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and dried spices.

Spread mixture in the bottom of a 9″ pie plate that is microwave/oven safe.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of mozz and 1/2 cup parm on top of cream cheese.  Spread pizza sauce over all.  Sprinkle with pepperoni, olives, and peppers.  Then top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Cover and microwave for 5 minutes.  Serve HOT with crackers, Italian bread, crusty french bread, or tortilla chips.

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic

I think I should change the name of my bliggity blog to  “copy everything that the Pioneer Woman makes.”  I feel like I make so many of her recipes!  But, the truth is that they never fail me.  They appeal to the style of food that Tim and I love which is just simple down home cooking with little or no frills.  And they are delicious.  The only drawback, if you can even call it that, is that her recipes feed an army so I always cut them back.

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic

Source:  PW

Sponsored by HPClick Here
Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cook Time: 1 Hour Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients
  • 8 pieces Chicken Legs Or Thighs {I used 4 thighs}
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil {I used 1 Tbsp}
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Diced Tomatoes {I used one jar of pasta sauce}
  • 1 can (14 Ounces) Whole Tomatoes {I omitted}
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • Fresh Herbs: Basil, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary {I used dried basil and parsley}
  • 8 cloves Garlic {I used 4}
  • 16 ounces, weight Pasta {I used bow tie}
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese, For Serving
  • ½ cups White Wine (or Red Wine)
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Salt and pepper chicken thighs.

Heat ovenproof dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter. When oil/butter is hot, add chicken legs to the pan. Using tongs, brown on all sides, about 2 minutes. Remove chicken from pan.

Pour in wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any bits. Cook for 1 minute. Pour in tomatoes with their juice and add tomato paste. Add salt and pepper to taste, stirring to combine. Bring sauce to a boil, then turn off heat. Add herbs, cloves of peeled (but whole) garlic, and the chicken. {Try to submerge the chicken in the sauce as much as possible.}  Put lid on pot and cook in the oven for 1 hour. {I cooked mine for 45 minutes since I used less chicken.}

Remove pot from oven and allow it to sit on the counter with the lid on while you boil the pasta.

Remove lid and check sauce. If it’s overly thin, remove the chicken from the pot {keep warm} and boil the sauce on the stove top for 5 to 10 minutes.   {my sauce was the perfect consistency and I didn’t need to do this step.} Check seasonings and adjust as needed.

To serve, pour sauce over cooked pasta, then arrange chicken pieces over the top. Sprinkle generously with fresh Parmesan and serve with crusty French bread.

Italian Beef

There’s not a lot to say about an Italian Beef sandwich, other than they are delicious! I used my crock pot for this and it was super easy.  I even put the roast in partially frozen and it worked out great.  The only downfall to putting it in frozen is that I wasn’t able to trim off the fat, which contributed to slightly greasy drippings later.

I was home all day, so I was able to change the crock pot temp after 2 hours.  Had it been a work day, I would have started the crock pot on low from the beginning.  I have heard that they make programmable crock pots, so if you are going to be away from home you can have the temp change automatically as programmed.  I don’t have one of those nifty types of crock pots though.

I served these with oven fries and Asian cabbage salad.  Posts on each coming soon!

 

Italian Beef

{adapted from PW}

Ingredients
  • 1 whole Beef Chuck Roast, 2.5 To 4 Pounds
  • 1 can Beef Consomme Or Beef Broth
  • 3 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ cups Water
  • ½ jar (16 Oz) Pepperoncini Peppers, With Juice {I used about 1/4 jar because that was all I had}
  • I added 2 small cloves of peeled smashed garlic
  • Buttered, Toasted Deli Rolls {I used hamburger buns because I’m fancy}
Preparation Instructions

Combine all ingredients in large crock pot. Stir lightly to combine seasoning with the liquid.

Cover and turn heat to high for a few hours and then turn to low for about 5-6 hours or until done and fork-tender and falling apart.

With two forks, completely shred all meat, leaving no large chunks behind. Serve immediately, or keep warm.

Serve on buttered, toasted rolls. Top with cheese and melt under the broiler if desired {we skipped the chese for once!}.  Serve with juices from the pot.  {After trying it, I thought the juices were a little to greasy this time, so we ended up not using them.}

May make the day before, then store in the refrigerator. Remove the hardened fat from the top before reheating.

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