Saturday, April 13, 2013

Homemade Sandwich Rolls!

Homemade Sandwich Rolls!

Happy Saturday morning to you all!  I am hoping for a beautiful day, the last two days were rainy, and chilly.

When the kids were off for their Spring break, I planned on making Sloppy Joes for dinner, but didn't have any hamburger/sandwich rolls to go along with the meal.  I didn't want to run to the store, so I made up a batch, and they came out GREAT!  It was so easy, they mixed up within minutes, and everyone loved them.

If you have never made homemade bread before, I encourage you to start, especially if you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, its so easy!

Homemade Sandwich Rolls

1 1/4 cups warm water 80 degrees
1 TBS Sugar
2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast

Add the water to a small bowl, add the yeast, and sugar and mix well with a fork.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes, it will proof, and get bubbly.
Yeast all proofed and ready!

Meanwhile measure out the rest of the ingredients into your Kitchen Aid Bowl.

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt

  When the yeast is all foamy this means it's "proofed", now add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and turn on the mixer on low, using the dough hook, knead the bread.  This will take a couple of minutes.  Now look into the bowl, what is happening, you may have to scrape the sides of the bowl down with a rubber scraper, turn the mixer back on low, what does the dough look like....if it looks like a cake batter, you need to add a bit more flour, like 1/4 cup, or if the dough looks dry, you may have to add a little more water, 1 tsp at a time... turn the mixer back on and the dough should be forming a ball around the dough hook, and won't be too sticky, but sticky, at this point I like to flour my hands. These are the steps to making bread in your Kitchen Aid Mixer, the dough hook does all the kneading for you, so easy!  

Dough wrapped around the dough hook, it's ready!

Now if you don't have a Kitchen Aid mixer, you may do this all by hand, the same way!

When it is all kneaded spray a large bowl with cooking spray, add the dough to the bowl, and turn over coating both sides. Cover with foil, let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.  I usually turn the oven on to 350 for like 2 minutes and shut it off, and then put the bowl of dough in the oven to rise. 

Remember to shut the oven off, you don't want to bake your dough's not READY, and don't let the oven get TOO HOT, you don't want to kill the yeast, that's why I say 2 minutes!!!!

Dough doubled in size all risen

When the dough is all risen, and doubled in size, punch down the dough getting rid of all the air bubbles, divide the dough into 9 portions, and form into a round ball, tucking the ends underneath.  Put them on a foiled greased cookie sheet.  Cover lightly with a piece of greased wax paper, or foil, I mean just lay the foil over, do not wrap....and let rise again for the second rise on the counter, or put in the oven, again turn on the oven on to 350 for 2 minutes, shut off, and put the loaf pan in the oven and let rise for 20 minutes or so until the rolls  have risen nice and doubled in size.  Again, do not let the oven get too hot, it's not ready to be baked yet.....2 minutes!!!!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Right before they go into the oven, get a spray bottle and fill it with water, spray the rolls lightly with the water.  This will give the rolls a slightly hard crust.   and bake the rolls for about 20 minutes

Hot out of the oven!  YUMMO!

Homemade Sloppy Joes!  Find the Recipe here! 


Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Bread.....An Easter Tradition!

Easter Bread!

It's Good Friday, and I've been busy preparing for our Easter feast!  This year I'm cooking Lasagna, with a big pot of sauce, meatballs, a baked ham, and a most delicious salad. And for dessert my Ricotta Rice Pie, along with some other delicious goodies.

I love traditions, and baking Easter Bread is one of them.  I started baking this bread the first year my baby girl, Becca was born. We always had traditions while growing up, and I want my children to learn to love them as well.  This bread is so easy, and if you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, it's even easier!  Make this Easter Bread, have a piece toasted with butter for your Easter "Resurrection Day" breakfast, you and your family will love it!

Have a most blessed and wonderful Easter!

Easter Bread

1 cup warm milk (105 - 115)
1 pkg active dry yeast
2 TBS Sugar

Heat the milk to 105 - 110 degrees,  Let the milk cool or if it's too hot it will kill the yeast. In a large bowl add the yeast, milk and 2 TBS sugar, mix with a fork, and let the yeast get all bubbly.

In your Kitchen Aid mixer, or a big bowl, add the following ingredients:

5 cups flour
1 cup butter melted COOLED butter
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp grated Lemon Zest
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Using the dough hook, or your hands, give it a whirl, then add the milk- yeast mixture.  Turn on the mixer and let the dough hook knead the dough, then add another cup of flour, continue kneading, what does the dough look like?  If it looks like a cake batter, you need to add another cup of flour, until all the dough is wrap around the dough hook.  If it's too dry, just add about 2 TBS water.

Dough wrapped around the dough hook
Take the dough off the hook, knead it a little with your hands, and put it in a well oiled big bowl.  Cover and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours, until doubled in size.  I like to heat up the oven for about 3 minutes, then turn it off, and put the bowl of dough in the oven, it's a nice warm place for it.

All risen, ready to shape into braids!
While the bread is rising.....Dye 6 - 8 RAW EGGS (3 or 4 for each bread sometimes I do 3, sometimes I do 4!) in whatever Easter colors you want, I like to do this when the kids are dying all the hard boiled eggs, then at the very end they carefully dye the raw eggs for the Easter Bread.

When it's done rising, punch it down turn it out onto a floured board.  You can make 2 loaves of bread with this recipe.  Divide the dough in half, then divide each into thirds, roll out each piece into a long rope, you are going to start braiding.  Bread the dough, and then pinch the ends together making a circle. Place the dyed eggs into the bread, right before it goes for it's 2nd rise.

All braided and shaped into a circle!

With the raw eggs waiting for the 2nd rise!

Put on a greased baking sheet, or what I do is put them in greased spring form pans, I like the shape when it's all baked.  Let them rise again for the 2nd rising,  Carefully brush with an egg wash of 1 egg yolk and 1 TBS water.  Bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes.  Let cool, and ENJOY!

My traditional Easter Bread!  YUMMO!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ricotta Rice Pie....An Easter Tradition!

Ricotta Rice Pie!

I will be having my family here for Easter this year....and every year, no matter where we go for Easter, I make this most delicious Ricotta Rice Pie.

This recipe was handed down to me from my Mom.  She use to make this pie every Easter, and even around Christmastime when she hosted the "Deacon's Christmas Party".  I remember it all so well, she would be cooking all week for this Christmas Party, all the delicious foods that us kids would love to eat.  On her menu was "Ricotta Rice Pie".  My sister and I loved this pie, and we were so worried we wouldn't get a piece, after the platter went around to all the Deacon's and their wives. 

Finally the time came, and the platter went around the huge table, there was at least 20 people around that large table. There we were in our P.J.'s, (yes we were very young) waiting in the kitchen for the leftover pie. Would you believe the platter was empty!  YES, EMPTY....but my sister and I enjoyed the crumbs, and they were delicious!

This pie, is so creamy from the ricotta cheese, and you don't even know there's rice in it, it's so tender.  I like to serve this with sliced strawberries and whipped cream, or you could just eat it plain.  Here's the recipe!

Ricotta Rice Pie

2 cups COOKED white rice COOLED (I use Carolina Long Grain)
2 cups Ricotta Cheese
1 & 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs beaten
1/2 stick butter softened
1 TBS almond extract
1 pint fresh strawberries sliced, and sweetened with 1 TBS sugar
Freshly whipped cream

HINT - Cook the rice the day or night before so it's cooled down. Leave all the ingredients at room temp for about 1 hour before you start mixing, you do not want cold ingredients just won't work!

With an mixer,  beat the butter, eggs, sugar, and almond extract.  Add the Ricotta cheese and beat until smooth.  Add the rice and mix really good.

Grease a spring form pan, and add the batter, or a 9x13 dish.  Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  When cooled, run a sharp knife around the spring form pan, and unmold.  Put on a pretty platter, serve with fresh strawberries, sweetened with 1 TBS sugar, and freshly whipped cream! YUMMO!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Beef and Bean Burritos, with Salsa Verde Sauce

Homemade Beef and Bean Burrito with Salsa Verde Sauce!

Well, it snowed yet AGAIN yesterday, and into today.  We got about 4 inches here in Northern, New Jersey.  I am ready for Spring, and the warmer weather.  I sure am hoping for some really soon.  I made the most delicious Beef and Bean Burritos the other night, along with my homemade Salsa Verde Sauce. The burritos are baked after filling them, and they came out lightly browned, crunchy and delicious.

Have you ever tried Salsa Verde?  It is such a delicious sauce, so much better than the red enchilada sauce or even better than regular salsa.  The Salsa Verde is made with Tomatillas, they look like a green tomatoes with husks.  I have never used a tomatilla in a recipe before, and I was very surprised at the delicious flavor.  Give this recipe a try, you will NEVER buy store bought Salsa Verde again!

Beef and Bean Burritos

10 Large Floured Tortillas
2 lbs ground beef, I like to use 85%
1 large can Refried Beans
1 tsp Chili power
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Salt
1 small onion diced
2 Jalapeno pepper diced small, seeds removed if you don't want it too spicy
1 cup water
2 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Brown the beef in a large frying pan, drain the fat.  Add the diced onion, and diced Japeno pepper.  Mix the spices together and add them to the beef mixture, add the water and cook on low for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile heat up the refried beans in a small pot, add 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese and mix well, simmer on low for about 10 minutes.

Assemble the Burritos, spread about 1 TBS of the refried beans in the middle of the floured tortilla add about 3 TBS of the beef mixture on top, and fold up the burrito, bringing the sides in first, then tightly roll.  Arrange in a 9x13 casserole dish.  Continue with all 10 flour tortillas.  Top with the remaining cheddar cheese.  Bake in a 375 oven for 20 mins uncovered.

Salsa Verde Sauce

5 Tomatillos
2 Jalapeno Peppers stems and seeds removed
1 med size onion, skin removed, sliced in half
1 cup cilantro, chopped roughly stems removed
Juice of 1 fresh lime
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 cup chicken stock
Food Processor

Brown the WHOLE Tomatillos, Jalapeno peppers, and onion in a frying pan with NO OIL.  Brown on all sides, will take about 2 minutes on both sides, checking to see if the sides are actually BLACK!

Add everything to a food processor and chop until smooth.  Add the salt, sugar, and lime juice at the end, and mix again.  Taste it what does it need?  More salt, and sugar.  Add it.

Pour into a sauce pan, add the 1 cup of chicken stock and cook for 20 mins.

Take the Burritos out of the oven, and top with Sour Cream and the Salsa Verde Sauce, and even some more cheese! Complete YUMMO!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chinese Chicken with Veggies...and Fried Rice!

Homemade Chinese Chicken with Veggies!
Well yet another MONSTER Storm is headed our way.  I don't understand, I've been living here in Northern, New Jersey now for 20 years, and years back the storms were never called, "Monster, or Super", just plain old snow storms.  I am hoping this storm passes us.  I feel Spring in the air, and really would love some warmer temps. I actually saw a Red Robin today!  My Mom said it's a sign that Spring is near!  

I have been experimenting with Chinese recipes now for the past couple of weeks.  This past Thursday I made an awesome dish.  Chinese Chicken and Veggies. It was so delicious! I made Fried Rice to go along with it, and everyone loved the meal.  A very easy recipe, a few pots and pans, and planning, but so well worth it.

Chinese Chicken with Veggies

4 Chicken Cutlets sliced in strips
1 Cup Broccoli florets
1/4 cup Snow Peas
1/2 Red Pepper sliced in strips
1 small onion sliced in strips

1/4 cup low sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tbs Sesame Oil
2 Tbs Rice Vinegar
1 Tbs freshly grated Ginger
2 tsp sugar
2 TBS chopped Green Onions

Whisk all the Marinade ingredients together and pour half of it over the sliced strips of chicken and marinate for 2 hours in the frig.  Reserve the rest of the marinade for cooking.

In a large skillet, on medium heat, add 2 Tbs of canola oil and saute the onions until done, add the rest of the veggies, and lightly saute them until just about done, but don't overcook!

Take the veggies out of the skillet and put them aside.  Turn the heat to med/high, add 2 more Tbs of canola oil to the skillet and brown the chicken strips until done, no longer pink, and cooked through.

Turn down the heat to med/low, add the veggies back to the skillet, add the reserved marinade to the chicken and veggies and stir constantly so nothing burns for about 3 minutes until everything is combined.  Now TASTE IT!  What does it need?  Probably nothing right since there is plenty of salt in the soy sauce.

Fried Rice

2 cups cooked Rice, I used Jasmine
2 large eggs
1 Tbs chopped green onion
1/4 cup frozen peas
3 - 4 splashes of low sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tbs butter

Cook up the rice. While the rice is cooking, in a large skillet add about 2 Tbs butter and melt.  Add the 2 eggs and scramble really well.  Turn off the heat and add the cooked rice, add the peas, and soy sauce.  Mix well, add the green onions for garnish.  Taste it....does it need more soy sauce?  YUMMO!

You can use whatever long grain Rice you want.  But Jasmine is really delicious. Also, you can add whatever you want to your Fried Rice.  This is the way my Mom use to make it for me when I was a kid, and it's so satisfying! 

Homemade Fried Rice!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars!

I feel it....Spring is in the air.  Well I felt it yesterday morning, but not this morning!  Anyway, only three more weeks of Winter, and Spring will be here.  I sure hope.

This past weekend was a busy one.  My daughter Becca had a sleepover with some girlfriends.  So I baked  and cooked up a storm for them.  These girls can EAT!  I made them my homemade pizza, homemade waffles, homemade peanut butter ice cream, and homemade chocolate ice cream, homemade pretzels, (Yes, I like "homemade"  just tastes better, dontcha think?) and these really delicious Homemade Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars. It was a fun sleepover, if only next time they would SLEEP!

Here's the recipe, so simple, give it a try!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

1-3/4 stick of cold butter, cut into pieces
1-1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 cup regular Oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs. 
Sprinkle half the mixture into the pan and pat lightly to pack it a little tight. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly on top of the first layer.  Sprinkle the other half of the oatmeal mixture over the top and pat lightly again.
Bake until light golden brown on top, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in pan.
When cool, cut into squares and serve. YUMMO!
Variation:  Use Jam in place of the chocolate chips, So GOOD!  

Monday, February 18, 2013

Homemade Pretzels

Homemade Pretzels!

Homemade Pretzels.....they are so easy! If you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer or even a bread machine, set it on the dough setting, the dough will come together in minutes.  Here's the recipe!

Homemade Pretzels
Kitchen Aid Mixer Method
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
1 cup warm water

In a large mixing bowl combine the above ingredients, whisk together and set aside for about 5 mins until proofed and foamy.  This is called proofing the yeast.

After the yeast has become all foamy about 5 mins, to the bowl add the following:

3 cups flour (I didn't use bread flour just all purpose flour)
2 TBS oil
1/4 tsp. salt

Using the dough hook, and on low speed, mix it all together until the dough forms a ball around the dough hook.  If the dough doesn't form and the mixture is dry, add 1 TBS water, until it forms the ball.  If the mixture is too wet, and looks like a batter, add a little more flour about 1 TBS....this is the "art" of breadmaking and knowing if the bread dough is ready.

Take the dough out and knead for a couple of seconds in your hand.  The dough should be soft and not too sticky.  If it is sticky, flour your hands before you take it out of the bowl.  Put the dough in a large oiled bowl and turn over to coat the dough.  Put plastic wrap over the bowl, and let it double in size for about 1 hour.

After about one hour, turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured board, and cut the dough into 8 pieces.  Roll into about 18 inch ropes.

My Hubby Rolling the dough into a rope.


Form a U shape with 1 rope, and twist and form into a big pretzel. 


Let rise again on a greased foiled covered baking sheet for 20 minutes or until doubled in size. While rising make sure you cover them with a piece of greased waxed paper so the paper doesn't stick or a light-weight kitchen towel.

 Meanwhile, bring a big pot of water to a boil, add 3 tsp Baking Soda.  After the 20 minutes of rising, boil the pretzels for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, being careful when flipping.  I used a big slotted spoon.


After boiling the pretzels drain them on a rack for about 2 minutes.  Transfer them a greased foiled covered cookie sheet, sprinkle with coarse salt, and bake in a 475 oven for about 15 - 20 minutes until golden dark brown.  Let cool on a rack for about 10 minutes.  So delicious!!!!


Valentine's Day!

It's been a quiet couple of days for us around here.  My little boy, Davey was sick and out of school all of last week.  But in spite of Davey being sick, we still had a wonderful Valentine's Day.  I cooked a special dinner of Lasagna and Meatballs, Homemade Italian Bread, and for dessert, Chocolate Covered Strawberries.  Everything was a big hit, and it was nice to just be home with my family and celebrate a day filled with LOVE!

Enjoy some of these recipes.....YUMMO!

Big Pot of Sauce with Meatballs, in my NEW POT!
You can find the recipe here!

Homemade Italian Bread! Will post recipe soon!
Homemade Lasagna (not cooked yet)  RECIPE

Chocolate Covered Strawberries!  YUMMO!
Photo: Just some pictures from Valentine's Day.
Me and my Crazy KIDS!!!! 
Photo: Just some pictures from Valentine's Day.
My Hubby and our CRAZY

Beautiful flowers from my Hubby!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beefy, Cheesy.....PIZZA!

The most delicious Pizza!

I am linking this recipe up with my Sister's Blog, Walking on Sunshine's Foodie Friends Friday.  
Well I have been lazy yet again.  I just can't seem to get back into the swing of blogging.  You see I have this busy life here, with two crazy kids and a husband!  Life has been busy, and I am enjoying it.  Sure hope you are too.

We have yet another storm coming, they are naming it "Winter Storm Nemo".  I know, I know, I love snow, but this has been an overwhelming Fall/Winter for us in the good old northeast part of the country.  Where can I move where the weather is always beautiful?  I love a rainy day, but not the stormy rain we get here. And I do enjoy snow, but not this much! So we are hunkering down, and preparing for the storm, hoping we don't get too much.

I made this most delicious recipe a couple of weeks ago.  Another Pioneer Woman's recipe, that looked so good I had to try.  It was so good, and you know me, I can never follow a I changed it up to make it my own, but it really is a delicious recipe, and encourage you to try it.

Carnitas Pizza 

Preparing the Chuck Roast
2 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
One 3-4 lbs Chuck roast
12 oz can pineapple juice (YES makes it so good)
2 TBS Canola Oil

1. Combine the spices and rub over the roast. Heat a large oven/proof pot on medium heat and brown the meat in 2 TBS canola oil. Brown on all sides for about 2 minutes per side.  Pour the pineapple juice over the meat and cook in a 325 oven for almost 4 hours, until it is falling apart and took my roast about 3 hours.

After the 3 - 4 hours take the roast out of the pot, and put it on a cutting broad, with 2 forks start pulling it apart.  It will be so well cooked and tender.  Put the pulled beef back in the pot with the juice and drippings until ready to use.

All shredded and ready!

2. Making the Pizza dough - You can find the recipe for my Pizza dough here..

 Rest of the Ingredients
1 jar of Salsa Verde (one of the changes I made)
1 chopped red pepper saute until soft
1 chopped onion saute until soft
2 cups of cheddar cheese (another change)
About 3 TBS chopped Cilantro (another change)
2 TBS butter
1 TBS Canola oil
Sour Cream for serving

Find it in the Mexican isle at the grocery store

Saute the onion and red pepper in the butter and oil.  Set aside and let cool

After the pizza dough is all risen, punch down cut it in half, this recipe only calls for half of the homemade pizza dough, so use the other half and make another pizza with other toppings.  Spread one half on a large greased cookie sheet, or pizza stone, which ever way you make your homemade pizza.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees put the spread out pizza dough in the oven (with nothing on it) for 5 minutes, I call this prebaking the pizza dough.

Notice the picture new cookie sheet from my family for Christmas, I love them, I got four! 

Take it out and spread the Salsa Verde all over the crust, I didn't use the whole jar, about half the jar.
Then the cooked shredded beef drained from the liquid, next the onions and peppers, top it off with the cheddar cheese.

All ready for the oven!

 Bake in the 450 oven for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted, and the bottom of the pizza is lightly brown and crusty.  Sprinkle with Cilantro before serving,  Serve with sour cream, and the left over Salsa Verde. So delicious, So YUMMO!

Right out of the oven!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

So delicious.....So YUMMO!

I came across this delicious Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe when I was asked to do a cooking demo at our MOPS program at church.  It was back in November, and I cooked my Sausage Stuffing, and Chicken Pot Pie recipes for about 20 Moms. Yes, I was nervous, but it was fun! For a thank you gift, I was given the dry ingredients of this cookie recipe in a cute mason jar, right up my alley!

Now I am a Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie baker, but this recipe is by far better! I think it's the added oatmeal.  In the cute mason jar there were M&M's, chocolate chips, and nuts.  This recipe I didn't add the M&M's, I thought they are too sweet for my already sweet kids!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup Old Fashioned Oatmeal oats
1 stick butter softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 bag chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients and whisk together so everything is mixed well. 

In another bowl cream the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add the chocolate chips and walnuts.  I do all of this with my trusty Kitchen Aid!

Line cookie sheets with foil and coat with baking spray.  Spoon nice size spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets, and bake in a 350 oven for about 10 mins or until they are firm to the touch, and lightly brown.  Or if you are like me, a little darker in color.

Cool, and enjoy.  I always double this recipe, just doesn't make enough!  Enjoy!