Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Salted Caramel Butter Bars

My new choir is super fun.  Each month one section is in charge of birthday treats, and they put out a spread of snacks before rehearsal and then we nosh and visit and sing Happy Birthday to everyone who has a birthday that month.  This recipe comes from the 2nd Soprano section (My section!).  I took one bite of these, and then turned to Judith, who made them, and said, "Oh my goodness, how much butter is in these?"  She replied, "You don't want to know, just enjoy."  She has shared the recipe with me, so now I know exactly how much butter is in them!  

I must confess, I haven't made them myself yet.  I plan to do so for our upcoming book club meeting, but the recipe was in a hard to find facebook post, and I don't want to lose it. 

Salted Caramel Butter Bars --let go and let butter

1 c unsalted butter, room temp
1.5 c powdered sugar
1 c granulated sugar
4 c flour
1 package caramels
1/3 c half and half, whole milk or cream
1 tsp vanilla
Kosher or sea salt (or flavored salt if you’re wild)

1. Preheat to 350. Prepare a 9x13 by lining with sprayed parchment. 
2. Cream butter and sugars. 
3. Add flour and mix till smooth. 
4. Pat half the dough into prepared pan, and bake for about 20 min or so, until just beginning to brown (may take 25). Place other half of dough in the fridge. 
5. Meantime, melt caramels, milk and vanilla either in microwave or stovetop. Stir till incorporated and smooth. 
6. Pour over hot first layer as evenly as possible (difficult to spread). Sprinkle generously with salt. 
7.  Moosh the rest of the dough on top of the caramel layer, sort of flatten out chunks. Does not have to be perfect at all. 
8. Bake another 25 min or so, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool in pan for about 30 min. Lift parchment from pan and place on cutting surface. When completely cooled, cut into bars, and then into triangles. 
Just enjoy them. Don’t think about it too much.

source: Judith B.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lasagna Soup

Apparently this is a lighter version of a Paula Deen recipe. I've never tried the original, because this one is plenty flavorful and filling.  It really does taste just like lasagna!

Lasagna Soup

2 tsp olive oil
1 pound Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (32-ounce) container chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 ounces broken lasagna noodles (You can use whole wheat noodles for an even healthier version.)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (I didn't use quite this much.  I think I used probably half that.)
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (again, you could go low-fat here, but I don't)

1.  Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over med-high heat.  Add sausage, onion, bell pepper, and garlic.  Cook until sausage is browned and veggies are tender, about 8-10 minutes.

2.  Add broth, tomato sauce, tomatoes, salt, and crushed red pepper.  Simmer about 20 minutes on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes.

3.  Bring back up to a boil, and add noodles.  Cook on medium heat, uncovered, until noodles are done, about 10-12 minutes.

4.  Remove from heat, and stir in basil and cheeses.

Serve with breadsticks or warm crusty bread.

The Deen Brothers

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup

If you want to go a step above opening a can of Campbell's tomato soup, this is your recipe.  It takes only slightly longer to prepare and is much creamier and tastier.  I like to serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches.
Note that it didn't all quite fit in my blender, so either do it in two batches or just use an immersion blender.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup

2 (28oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (or Italian diced tomatoes)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

seasoned croutons

1.  Process all ingredients (except croutons) in a blender until smooth and pour into a large saucepan or use an immersion blender in the saucepan.
2.  Cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  (Do not boil.)

top individual servings with seasoned croutons.  (I like the Texas Toast Cheese & Garlic ones.)

source:  emeals

Asian Pork Noodle Soup

This is so flavorful and warm.  The whole family was happy to eat it all up.

Asian Pork Noodle Soup

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 3-4 lb bone-in boston butt pork roast, well trimmed (a smaller, 2-3 lb boneless roast would work as well.)
2 (32 oz.) cartons low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and stems
3 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (I often use prepared, jarred minced ginger or ginger paste instead.)
1 tsp garlic-chili sauce
1 tsp ground coriander
8 oz.  rice noodles (or rice vermicelli)  If you cant find either of those just use a packet of ramen noodles, (without seasoning packet).
optional topings:  Basil leaves, cilantro leaves, lime wedges, and garlic-chili sauce. (I found the lime wedges to be the best addition.)

1.  Heat oil in a large skillet over med-high heat;  add roast, and brown on all sides.
2.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Add broth, onion, cilantro, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, chili sauce, and coriander.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or until pork is tender.
3.  Remove pork from cooker; shred with two forks, discarding fat and bone.  Strain cooking liquid from cooker discarding solids.
4. Return strained liquid to cooker along with roast, 2 cups water, and rice noodles.  Cook on high another 20-30 minutes or until noodles are tender.
Serve with desired toppings.

source: emeals

Meatball and Orzo Soup

I'm a HUGE fan of soup, but it is sometimes hard to find one which garners as much enthusiasm with the kids as it does with me.  This one comes close.  It's also extremely easy to make and comes together quickly. And if you use turkey meatballs it's quite healthy as well.

Meatball and Orzo Soup

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
2 carrots,finely diced
1 1/2 tsp.minced garlic
32 oz. reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup water
15 oz.  petite-diced tomatoes, with their liquid  (I will also sometimes use Italian or Fire-Roasted tomatoes for an extra boost of flavor.)
1 lb. pre made meatballs or turkey meatballs (I like the Italian Meatballs at Aldi the best.)
1/2 cup ditalini noodles or orzo
3 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
dash of crushed red pepper, optional (I leave this out for the kids, as they don't like the heat.)

1. In a largestockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. When it is hot add the onions, carrots and garlic, and sauté them until they onions and carrots are tender, about 5 minutes.
2.  Add the broth, water, and tomatoes, cover it, and bring it to a boil. Add the meatballs and orzo, and stir frequently for a minute or two so the noodles don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Add crushed red pepper, if using.  Simmer the soup for 15 minutes, partially covered, stirring occasionally.
3.  Stir in the spinach and let it wilt for one minute. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, and serve it immediately.

As with many soups, I like to serve it with my perfect Bread Machine Dinner Rolls.

source:  Mom Made Foods

Smothered Sweet Pork Burritos

This is another case when Pinterest just WORKS.  It is a crowd pleaser, but I warn you they make a TON!  The original recipe says it will all fit in a 9x13 pan, but in my experience it makes enough for two pans.  I usually make one and then take one to a friend, or make the whole thing if I'm feeding a crowd.  Thus, I've altered the recipe to add a bit more sauce and cheese and tortillas to accommodate 2 pans.   You can compare with the original if you like, but this is about how it works out for me.  I also sometimes just use regular sized tortillas instead of burrito sized if that's what I have on hand, it just makes smaller burritos, which is fine because they are kiddo sized.   I also just use regular rice instead of the cilantro-lime rice in the interest of time and simplicity, but the cilantro-lime rice does add a nice boost of extra flavor if you are so inclined.

Smothered Sweet Pork Burritos

2 1/2 pounds pork roast like pork shoulder or Boston butt roast  (not pork loin)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon oil
1-2 teaspoons liquid smoke  (ok, I have never used this so I'll place it firmly in the OPTIONAL camp, but I wanted to include it just in case you are a person who likes the flavor of liquid smoke.  I don't.)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
3 cups green enchilada sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Dash of hot sauce (optional)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
12 ounces Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese (or a combination), grated
10-12 whole wheat or white flour tortillas, burrito-size
1 cup rice

1.  Trim any excess fat pockets from the pork roast (it's ok to leave a bit here and there just trim the large pieces off). Cut the pork into 2-3 large pieces. Season each piece on all sides with salt and pepper.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil until rippling and hot. Add all the pieces of pork and brown on each side, 2-3 minutes total. Transfer the pork to the insert of a 5-6 quart slow cooker.
3.  Add the liquid smoke, if using  and 1/2 cup water. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8 hours.
4.  While the pork is cooking, prepare the rice.  (Or the cilantro-lime rice.)
5.  Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred into bite-sized pieces (discarding the bone, if needed, or any large pieces of fat). In a large bowl, toss the shredded pork with the brown sugar, 1/2 cup of the green sauce, chili powder, salt and pepper (add more salt and pepper to taste if needed). Add the hot sauce, if using.
6.  Stir in the beans, rice and cilantro to the pork mixture.
7.  Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish (or TWO) with cooking spray and spread about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of the green sauce on the bottom.
8.  Warm the tortillas lightly in a skillet or in the microwave. Scoop about 1/2 cup of the meat mixture into each tortilla and sprinkle with a bit of cheese (you'll want to leave some cheese for the top of all the burritos before they bake). Roll up burrito style (folding the ends in and rolling).
Place the burritos seam-side down in the prepared baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the burritos and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
9.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until heated through and the top is bubbly and slightly golden. Serve immediately.

source:  Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, December 15, 2014

Basic Bread/Cinnamon Bread/Whole Wheat Bread

This is my friend Laura's bread recipe.  I'm going to just copy and paste it here exactly the way she gave it to me because it's perfect.

It is a large recipe as it makes 3 loaves.  I don't have a KitchenAid mixer (yet) so to make it work in my 11 cup food processor I made the following changes:
I cut the recipe in half and processed them separately then combined the dough to rise and still got 3 loaves, or just did half and either had 2 small loaves or 1 large one.
In the food processor I added nearly all the flour (3 cups if doing a half batch) right away.  Otherwise the food processor gets gummed up.  Then add wet ingredients slowly while processing until it forms a ball.  Usually I'll need to add about another 1/2 a cup of flour here to make it the right consistency.  Your mileage may vary.

I do the glaze differently too. I do a 1/4 c. melted butter and 1 tsp vanilla to 2 c. powdered sugar.  If it needs to be thinned I add a T of milk or 2.

Otherwise I follow the recipe.

Basic Bread recipe

2 cups warm water
2 tbs yeast
1/3 cup sugar or honey
Let proof 5-10 minutes

Add to yeast mixture
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs- beaten
1 tbs salt
4 cups flour
*to make cinnamon rolls, add 2/3 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream and 1 extra egg
Mix till smooth

Add 2-3 cups of flour till the dough forms a ball and pulls clean from the side of the bowl.
Leave in the mixer bowl and cover with plastic wrap or towel. Let rise till double-1-2 hours depending on the room temp.

When doubled, turn mixer on and kneed dough for 5-10 seconds.

For basic sandwich bread:
Turn out dough onto floured surface and divide into 3 equal parts. Form into loafs. Let rise till double in greased bread pans. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Butter the top while hot for extra flavor and calories.

*Flour grains can be adjusted for unique results as long as they total a minimum of 6 cups. For example: 3 cups white flour, 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup ground flax seed.

Cinnamon loafs:
Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into 3 parts. Using one part at a time, roll out dough till it measures about 12"x18". Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of brown sugar and dust evenly with 3tbs cinnamon.  Starting with the long edge roll dough to form a long tube. Twist each end of the tube till the middle twists onto its self and doubles over. Place in greased bread pan and let rise till double. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from pans promptly to cool.  Butter the top while hot.  Frost when cool.

Cinnamon rolls:
Divide dough into 2 equal balls. Using one at a time, roll out till it measures about 8"x12".  Sprinkle surface with 1 cup brown sugar and 2-3 tbs cinnamon. Starting at the long edge, roll into a tube. Cut the tube into 2" rounds. Place in a greased 9"x13" pan and let rise till double. Bake at 350 for 17-20 minutes. Butter when hot. Frost when cool.

2 cups powered sugar
1 tbs vanilla

Mix till smooth and adjust to desired consistency.

Pizza crust or focaccia:
Eliminate the egg from the dough mixture and use olive oil in place if vegetable oil. Let rise once and divide in half. Roll out and add desired  toppings. Skip the second rise and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. This is defiantly a soft crust pizza, but that's the way my kids like it.

This is my go to whole wheat recipe. I cut it in half because a full recipe is too much for my mixer. Halfing the recipe make 2 nice sized sandwich loafs. 

Whole Wheat Bread

Grind 9 cups of wheat (hard red, hard white, or combination) This will grind into about 14 cups of flour 
3 T. yeast
5 cups warm water
¼ cup sugar
Combine; let sit for about 10 minutes. 
8 cups wheat flour
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup honey
2 T. salt
½ cup vital wheat gluten*
2 T. dough enhancer** (optional; will increase shelf life) 
Mix for a minute or two. (I use my Kitchen Aide mixer, but you can use electric beaters)
Then add about 5 ½ cups more wheat flour, or until it leaves sides of mixing bowl.  If mixing by hand, add enough so it’s not too sticky.  Knead for about 7-10 minutes
Shape into 4 - 5 loaves.  Put in greased pans.
Place in cold oven to rise for about 45- 60 minutes.  Leaving pans in the oven, turn oven on to 350. 
Start timing and bake for 30 minutes. For easiest slicing, cool completely.

Source:  Laura S.