Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

strawberry shortcake cupcakes

Yesterday was National Eat a Cupcake Day. Uh, OK. Don’t have to tell me twice.

Today is National Strawberry Shortcake Day. Um, yes please.

So for all us indecisive lazy types, such as myself, I put the two together.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes.

These aren’t a regular yellow cake. They are kinda, sorta vanilla cake(ish) but denser like a biscuit. You might even say a bit dry, but each bite of deliciously sweetened, macerated berries creates a nice balance. They also seem to firm up a bit in the refrigerator as these need to be refrigerated due to the whipped cream cheese frosting. Oh that frosting! The cream cheese in the sweetened whipped cream is light and not overly sweet and gives this shortcake a flavor unexpected in a traditional strawberry shortcake. This frosting would be delicious on any kind of cake. It holds its shape like a stabilized whipped cream and has enough density to keep the strawberry on top firmly in place. I will be adding this to my fave frosting list for sure.

Enjoy berry season!

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Cupcakes

1 ¼ c. sugar
¾ unsalted butter, softened
3 oz. light cream cheese, softened
¼ c. milk
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ c. all-purpose flour

Strawberry Filling

1 c. finely chopped fresh strawberries
¼ c. sugar
1 Tbls. cornstarch

Frosting

5 oz. light cream cheese, softened
¼ c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
Fresh strawberries, sliced

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Place paper baking cups into muffin pan cups; set aside.
  • Combine 1 ¼ cups sugar, butter and 3 ounces cream cheese in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add milk, eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Continue beating until smooth. Stir in flour.
  • Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin pan cups. Bake 25 minutes or until light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.
  • Place strawberries, ¼ cup sugar and cornstarch in 1-quart saucepan; cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil and is slightly thickened. Set aside.
  • Remove 1-inch piece of cake from center of each cupcake using a sharp knife or cupcake corer; discard cake piece pop it into your mouth. Fill hole with about 1 tablespoon strawberry filling.
  • Combine 5 ounces cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Slowly add whipping cream, beating until stiff peaks form.
  • Frost cupcakes; garnish each with strawberry slice.

Recipe from Land O’Lakes

 

Classic Guacamole

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I asked Nina what she wanted for dinner, and she said “Guacamole”. I said, “Fine. If you make it, you can have it for dinner”.

She called my bluff.

Good moms keep their promises I wasn’t in the mood to cook.

Don’t judge me.

So, yep, my nine year old made this awesome guacamole. This was not just an appetizer to a healthy, nutritious meal either.  It was dinner.

I’ll make her eat an extra vegetable tomorrow. It’s all good.

Again, this a judge-free zone, so please keep your comments to yourself, unless you have never handed your kids a PB&J or a bowl of cereal for dinner. And if you haven’t done that, we need to meet. I need your secret.

This guacamole is so easy, that yes, even a nine year old can make it. It’s got nice heat, just enough for a little tingle but not nearly enough to make you want to chug a glass of milk or wipe a slice of bread across your tongue. You can always add more heat if that’s what you like, but for us, it’s just right. The lime gives it a nice zing too.

This is a great appetizer with some simple tortilla chips or a great addition to sandwiches or topped on a quesadilla. Or if you’re super mom like moi, dinner.

Forget the hermetically sealed dairy section guac and try some homemade. You’ll never go back.

Ingredients

1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped

1 serrano or jalapeno chili, roughly chopped
1/2 cup picked cilantro leaves, finely chopped, divided
teaspoons kosher salt
4 ripe avocados
2 tablespoons juice from 2 limes
Directions
  1.  Combine onion, chili, half of cilantro, salt, and half of lime juice in a food processor or blender and process until smooth paste is formed, scraping down sides as necessary. Or you can pound into a fine paste in a mortar and pestle.
  2.  Split each avocado in half, discard pits, and spoon out flesh into a medium bowl. Roughly mash with a stiff whisk. Add onion/chili puree, remaining cilantro leaves, and half of lime juice. Fold to combine. Season to taste with more salt and lime juice if needed. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

    *Note: To store, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top and press down to remove air so it doesn’t turn brown.

    Enjoy!

     

    Recipe from Serious Eats

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Donuts

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It’s National Donut Day! Could there be a better day? I mean really, who doesn’t love a donut or two?

My favorite is, oh who am I kidding? I love them all. Except jelly. I can live a lifetime without eating a jelly donut. Bluck.

Many donut shops around the country are giving away free donuts today. The ubiquitous Dunkin Donuts here in New England is giving a free donut with a beverage. If you can find a DD around here, stop by. If you are from New England, you’re LOLing right now, as there is a Dunkins on every corner. Literally!

Sorry Dunks, free donut or not, I’m a Starbucks girl through and through. I don’t even care if Gronk and Big Papi are in your ads. This girl does not “run on Dunkins”!

I have never made a donut before now. But in honor of the day I decided to give it a try. These glazed old fashioned buttermilk donuts are one of my favorites. A perfect no frills treat.

These were amazing! I called my mother just to tell her I made a homemade donut and too bad she couldn’t have one. Then I giggled, hung up and ate a warm donut hole or two.

If you decide to try your hand at homemade donuts, these are a great way to start.

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Donuts

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 large eggs plus one egg yolk
6 cups vegetable oil
Glaze
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup water

PicMonkey Collage

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together 1 cup of flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.
  2. In small mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, and eggs. Then add wet ingredients to the dry and mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds.
  3. With speed on low, gradually mix in the remaining flour a little at a time, to make a moist, tacky dough.
  4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  5. Place oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven and heat to 375°.
  6. Prepare the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, vanilla and water until smooth. You can add more powdered sugar or water if necessary for a thin glaze.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thick. Use a floured donut cutter or a large and a small biscuit cutter to cut out the donuts and holes.
  8. Roll out dough scraps again to cut more donuts. Make little snips with kitchen shears in the center of the donut in a triangle pattern to create crevices.
  9. Cook several donuts at a time scored side up, flipping them over as they rise to the surface and turn golden brown, about a minute per side.
  10. Drain on a wire rack to drain and cool slightly.
  11. Before frying another batch, make sure oil temperature has returned to 375 degrees.
  12. While still warm, dip the donuts, crevice side down, into the glaze. Swirl the donut in the glaze a little, then pick it up and let the excess glaze dribble back into the bowl.
  13. Return the glazed donut to the rack to let the glaze dry.
  14. Repeat the process until all donuts and donut holes have been cooked and glazed.

Enjoy and Happy Donut Day!

 

Recipe from Barbara Bakes

The Perfect Burger

burger

Aaaaahh, Memorial Day weekend! And in New Hampshire, it is finally starting to feel like the summer is just around the corner. We had a fairly mild winter with very little snow, but the cold lingered a bit longer than it normally does. Because of a combination of a deep freeze in February and a cold snap in April decimated the peach crop in the Northeast. Summer won’t be the same without juicy, delicious peaches.

And speaking of summertime staples.

Today is National Hamburger Day.

And you can’t have a Memorial Day weekend cookout without burgers.

There are two types of burgers. Thick and juicy and thin and caramelized. I personally love a thin patty burger joint classic. If you’re with me, then here’s how to do it at home. I know, “It’s just a burger” you say. And you know I’m all about breaking the rules, but these rules will make it the best burger ever. For realz.

The Patty

This is key people. You must use a 70% lean mix. Don’t try to get all healthy and go for the leaner mix. This patty is going to sizzle in its own fat on a griddle, not a grill. Don’t have a griddle? Use a pan. No flame here. These are easy to freeze, l layered between parchment paper and taken out of the freezer about an hour before use. However, I find using fresh burger to give the best tasting results.

The Cook

Heat your griddle (or fry pan) to high heat. Immediately before cooking, season your patty with salt and fresh ground pepper. Place your patty on the surface and immediately smash it down with a stiff metal spatula. Cook until the top of the patty begins to turn pale pink/gray in spots, about a minute or so.(Think Bette Midler in Ruthless People) Using a bench scraper or the back side of a stiff metal spatula, carefully scrape burger patties from pan, making sure to get all of the browned bits and flip patties. Cook for another 45 seconds (*internal temp of 150-155F) and place a slice of cheese on the patty and remove from the pan to the waiting bun.

The Cheese

American. Simple. End of story. Don’t go all gourmet on me here.

The Toppings

Keep it simple. Iceburg lettuce. Not romaine. Iceburg!  Sweet, thinly sliced onion. Hellman’s mayonnaise and Heinz ketchup. That is what goes on my burger. You want to taste that deliciously greasy (in a good way) patty.

The Bun

There is only one choice. Martin’s Famous Sandwich Potato Rolls. They are perfectly squishy and slightly sweet. Lightly buttered and toasted bring out all the goodness of these buns. This is a must people.

I’m so bossy today.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day and remember to the reason behind the holiday. Thank a veteran. Better yet, make him/her a burger!

 

*Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs, may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions. 

 

Grilled Turmeric Chicken (Gai Yang Khamin)

chickenskewer

I came home the other day to the most amazing smells coming from my kitchen. Amazingly delicious smells, not anything like “OMG, what died” kind of smells either. Which sadly, I have also come home to once or twice.

But no, really. My wonderful husband. The man I married almost twenty years ago ♥. The man who I could count on one hand the times he has stepped into a grocery store. The man who has cooked, oh I don’t know, NEVER while we’ve been together (until recently), was cooking. And if it tasted half as good as it smelled, I was in for some good eats.

Let me say in the past couple of months, my husband has been taking an interest in cooking. First was the pizza oven. Next came the griddle. A very large griddle in fact that lives on our deck next to the grill. That’s pretty much what started it all. Now that he had the griddle, we had to cook the Sunday “Big Breakfast”. That consists of pretty much every breakfast food that you can think of. Pancakes, bacon, eggs, hash browns and home fries, because everyone needs two types of fried potato. And really, you can’t get all that done without a very large griddle. It’s quite a production, to say the least. But I’ve got say, the kids and their friends love it and now that I’m getting used to bumping into him in the kitchen, I like it too.

I like having him in the kitchen (minus the mess). We horse around, decide what to try next and share almost all the tasks of making a meal. I usually get stuck with the cleanup though. But, I’m working on that.

I’ll tell you. In the past couple of months, he has become quite a good cook.  Dare I say he’s getting better than me? Nah, but I still may need to step up my game a bit. He’s also way more adventurous when it comes to trying new recipes.

Take this recipe for example. Honestly, I never would have tried this. I would have assumed no one would eat it. I would have gotten several comments from the whole lot of them that would spurred some cranky comments about ungratefulness and starving children in Africa.

“Why is it yellow? I don’t like yellow food.”

“What is that smell?”

“Can’t we just have regular chicken?”

Humph.

Well, I for one am so glad he tried it because it was absolutely delicious. It was extremely fragrant being heavily flavored by herbs and spices. Using chicken thighs meant the meat was tender and juicy and got a beautiful char on the grill.

It was so good, he and I ate it all. The kids said it was too yellow and smelled funny…shocker. More for us, that’s all.

Not only did we eat it all, but I wanted it again the next day. So I made some. It wasn’t as good as his. Sshhh.

If you are sick of “regular” chicken. Then add this to your list of must tries. Pair with a side of Jasmine rice and steamed vegetables, or eat it with some guacamole and chips like we did. Not traditional, I know, but dang it was good! This would be great for a barbecue as well. I mean, you can never go wrong with food on a stick, right. Just sayin.

So try something new and enjoy!

Grilled Turmeric Chicken (Gai Yang Khamin)

  • 2 tablespoons finely-chopped cilantro stems or 2 cilantro roots
  • 2 teaspoons whole white peppercorns (used already ground)
  • 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can use breasts, but the meat will be drier)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine cilantro, white pepper, coriander, and garlic in a mortar and pestle and pound into a fine paste. Alternatively, combine in a small food processer and process until a fine paste is formed. You may want to crush the coriander seeds in a baggie with a rolling pin, as the food processor just kind of shoots them all over and doesn’t really grind them well.
  2. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes; Transfer a large mixing bowl along with fish sauce, oyster sauce, ground turmeric, brown sugar, and the prepared paste. Mix everything together well, cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Thread the chicken pieces onto bamboo skewers, pushing them tightly against each other to form a tight, compact body of meat on the skewers.
  4. Heat grill to medium-high, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Make sure grates are scraped clean and oiled. You can oil the grate by shutting the flame off for a moment and spray with nonstick cooking spray, then turn gas back on.
  5. Grill the chicken, turning occasionally, until thoroughly cooked through and slightly charred, about 8 minutes total. Remove the chicken from the grill and serve.

 

Recipe found at Serious Eats

Where to Eat in Portland, Maine

This weekend was very special. Friday the 13th was my birthday. I turned 45. Closer to fifty than forty. Ugh.

Never a fan of my birthday, even when I was a kid, each birthday gets more difficult for me. I have always seen it as a negative, a reminder of getting older. Like anyone is really a fan of aging, right? I look in the mirror lately and see all only my flaws. Crows feet. Laugh lines. Gray hairs and stray hairs.

I always hated birthday parties or birthday celebrations of any kind. Just another reminder. Maybe it won’t happen if no one acknowledges it, right? Wrong.  Each May 13th I still get a year older, no matter how hard I try.

That being said, this year I wanted it to be different. To have a different outlook. To be more positive about something out of my power to change. So, to kill two birds with one stone, I planned a romantic weekend away in Portland, Maine.

Even though it’s only an hour and a half away, I had never been there. WOW! Was I missing out! What a wonderful city.

We stayed at Portland Regency Hotel and Spa in Old Port. This is a gorgeous, 95 room hotel housed in what used to be considered one of the best and well-equipped armories in New England.  It is two blocks from the waterfront and centrally located to a ton of unique shops and restaurants.

Historic Old Port is one of the country’s few working harbors and boasts beautiful architecture and cobblestone streets. There is something to see around every corner, whether it be to stop and enjoy the sounds of the street musicians or take a break and enjoy a drink at one of the many eatery’s outdoor patios.

Portland is a foodie paradise. There is something for everyone from casual to fine dining. If you aren’t sure where to eat, hop on a foodie bus tour or just stand next to a sign on the sidewalk that says “Foodie tour meets here. Your guide will be with you shortly”.

Many of the restaurants serve small plates and tasters, which we enjoyed as it allowed us an opportunity to sample so many amazing things.

If you are planning a trip to Portland, I hope you find some of these recommendations helpful.

If you aren’t planning a trip to Portland, you must.

fatcatcollage

This bakery should be called “Cool Cats”. Totally unpretentious, this no-frills bakery had the greatest people who were so fun and friendly and down to earth. I kinda wanted to hang with them all day and “Like, just bake maaaan”. The sour cherry pie was simply amazing. I may or may not have bought one all for myself and ate it with my fingers in the hotel room like a savage. We stopped back before heading home to pick up a couple of pie sampler boxes to take home for family. They actually made it home!

demilloscollage

A Portland landmark, we stopped at DiMillo’s on the Water for some appetizers. The burrata cheese with fresh fruit was so refreshing and light. The total opposite of the Braised Short Rib Poutine. I would go back for that cheese plate alone.

stcollage

Then there was Street and Co. This restaurant was in a league of its own. A beautiful, old building with exposed wooden beams, soft lighting and a smooth, poured concrete bar packed with ice and fresh oysters created a relaxed, inviting atmosphere. There is an extensive wine list to choose from and the menu is unlike any you’ve likely come across.  Steel skillets were brought to the table piping hot. We ordered Mussels Provencal with garlic, white wine and butter served with freshly baked artisan bread to sop up all that delicious, fragrant broth and grilled lobster served on linguine with butter and garlic. As a taster, we enjoyed sweet cherry peppers stuffed with creamy halibut and a saffron aioli. We were lucky enough to grab a seat at the bar. It is suggested to make reservations well in advance.

On our first night, we ate at a tiny eatery called Hot Suppa which is located in Portland’s West End. It is Southern soul food right here in Maine. Friendly, inviting and simply delicious. We sampled fried oysters in a chipotle Beure Blanc with hot pepper relish, fried chicken and grits. A bit off the beaten path, but well worth it.

We also made a stop for Thai at Boda. The food was fresh and delicious and we were able to try a few things with their small plates. Their pad thai was out of this world, spicy quail eggs served with soy sauce and scallions, shrimp and pork belly skewers with orange, ginger, garlic soy sauce. I am still drooling over the pork belly.

After watching Phantom Gourmet, we decided we had to make a stop at Duckfat which was supposed to have absolutely amazing fries and milkshakes. It was meh. The fries were very salty and the milkshake was thick, creamy and delicious. Like a milkshake. The restaurant itself was so small, I had to sit with one cheek on a tiny stool and the other on the poor man next to me, that happened to not be my husband. It did not lend to a great experience.

The other Phantom Gourmet recommended restaurant was Holy Donuts made with Maine mashed potatoes. It had to be good. The line was out the door,  I picked up a half dozen of assorted donuts in somewhat odd flavors like, chocolate sea salt, mojito, maple bacon, lemon and cinnamon sugar. I’ve never met a donut I didn’t like, until now. I found the texture to be mushy but dry, if that’s possible. The flavors were very fresh, but actually a bit strong. I got an iced coffee as well, and it was so strong, I couldn’t drink it. That’s saying something because I like my coffee strong.

Skip the hype at Duckfat and Holy Donuts if you make the trip.

Enjoy!

 

 

Fruit & Nut Granola

fruit and nut granolaRight around 3:00 in the afternoon, I need a snack. That’s the witching hour for me. It’s so easy to grab a little bag of chips or a cookie or some other crappy little treat.

I started having a Greek yogurt topped with some granola and it really keeps me satisfied until dinner. There are a ton of granola brands and combinations to choose from. Many are loaded with sugar. There are some organic and more healthful brands, like KIND and Bare Naked, which are the brands I typically buy.

Now, I’ve made my own granola before, but I haven’t in quite awhile. It’s pure laziness people, I’ve got to be honest. Because homemade granola takes very little time and very little effort. You can add whatever ingredients make you happy and leave out all those icky, unhealthy ingredients that don’t belong.

This is a great recipe loaded with a variety of nuts and oats sweetened with honey and brown sugar, dried fruit and shaved, natural coconut.

And, you know me, I love a little dash of salt, so there is some coarse sea salt sprinkled in there. You know, for a little sumpin sumpin.

Make a batch. Throw it on ice cream. Toss it on yogurt. Mix it with fresh fruit. Or just leave it in a container on the counter. The family will eat it by the handfuls. Trust me.

Fruit & Nut Granola

3 c. Old fashioned oats (not instant or quick)

1/3 c. coconut oil (melted)

1/4 c. honey

1 Tbls Pure vanilla or vanilla bean paste

3 Tbls packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

1/2 c. coarsely chopped pecans

1 Tbls millet (optional)

1/2 c. sliced almonds

1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts

1/2 c. apricots, chopped

1/2 c. dried cherries or cranberries

1/2 c. flaked, unsweetened coconut (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside
  2. Mix oil, honey and vanilla together.
  3. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.
  4. Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients until really well-blended and everything is coated.
  5. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet and spread thinly
  6. Cook for 15 minutes
  7. Remove and flip granola with a spatula and flatten gently and evenly
  8. Cook another 15 minutes
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  10. Once cooled, break apart and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. But trust me, it won’t make it that long.

Enjoy your new healthy snack!

Pizza Dough

pizza

I live in a small town. We do however, have two, yes count ’em, TWO pizza joints. Sorry to anyone reading this who may be a fan of those local eateries. But I am not. Don’t get me wrong. They’re ok in a pinch, but for pizza snobs like myself, they just aren’t worth the dough ($ee what I did there?) Sorry, it’s mid week crazy hitting me hard tonight.

I like a thin Italian style pizza, with a sweetish sauce, topped with a variety of quality cheeses and a crisp, well-done crust that has a slight crunch, but you can still fold it in half, the only way to eat a slice of pizza. It can be hard to get a good pie like that in a home oven, as they can’t get as hot as a wood burning pizzeria oven. Unless you are lucky enough to have a special pizza oven taking up half of your garage. But you can still get a great homemade pizza with a few good tips and of course, a great dough, even without said special gigantic pizza oven.

I am admittedly, not a great planner. More times than not, I have not taken out anything for dinner. When that’s the case, I usually want something pretty quick and easy. Now, I know I can dial up one of those pizza places and have dinner delivered to my door in half an hour. But I can’t, in good conscience, do that when I have this quick, delicious, foolproof dough recipe in my arsenal.

Before I go any further, this dough has instantly become my favorite recipe. I use it every week at least once and sometimes again on the weekends when the kids have friends over. I did give it a little tweak, but it’s basically the same. So let me give mad props to Mel at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for sharing this recipe. She’s my new girl crush (blush). Click on over for a visit, but plan on spending some time. She rocks.

This dough comes together super quick and only needs ten minutes or so to rest. It makes two medium size pizzas, which can feed quite a few people, especially if you throw together a nice salad to go with it.

Here are a couple of tips for a great pizza every time.

  • Don’t work the dough too much. I throw a bit of flour (AP or semolina) on the counter and use a rolling pin to roll it into a flat circle. Making sure you pin it every once in a while so it isn’t sticking. Use more flour if necessary if it starts to stick. Transfer your dough to your cooking surface (pan, stone, screen) and make any adjustments if needed. No need to toss it in the air like the pros do.
  • Use a pizza screen. I have a stone that I have used for 15 years. It is beautifully seasoned and makes a great crust. But after many trials, I really think the screen is better. The crust is crispier and it is easier to use because it doesn’t have to be pre-heated in the oven. Sometimes that hot stone can be troublesome. I have the scars to prove it! The dough also sticks to it better. I don’t know about you, but fighting with dough that keeps bouncing back can be maddening.
  • Use quality ingredients. That’s a no-brainer. Freshly grated cheese (some bagged, shredded cheese contains cornstarch which can make it melt funny), rich sauce and fresh meats, vegetables and herbs. I don’t think pizza needs too many toppings. Just use amazing ingredients. There’s nothing like a pizza topped with a deep red summer tomato sauce or slices, fresh buffalo mozzarella, fragrant basil from the garden and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Simple and delicious.
  • Let it cool a bit before transferring it to a cutting surface. If you move it when it’s still hot, the crust will lose a bit of its crunch. Be patient.

I hope you find these tips helpful and make you want to skip the takeout and give homemade pizza a try.

Thanks again Mel for this recipe!

Quick and Easy Foolproof Pizza Dough

  • 1 cup warm water (105-1110F)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 -3 cups flour (see note)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 475-500F
  2. In a large bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the water, sugar, oil, yeast and salt. Add the flour gradually until a soft dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Flour amounts can vary, so go by the feel of the dough versus the cup measurement. The dough should be soft and smooth and not leave your fingers sticky, but also not stiff either.
  3. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead another minute.
  4. Cut in half and let the dough rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Roll onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough into pizza(s), place on your screen or stone, spread with sauce and toppings, and bake for approximately 8-10 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Buon Appetito!

 

 

 

Black Bean Brownies

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I am a chocoholic.

There, I said it!

I would skip dinner and head straight to dessert if that were socially acceptable.

I am trying to make better eating choices for me and the family. Let’s be honest, they really don’t have much of a choice. Ssshhh, don’t tell them that.

But back to my dessert dilemma. I love sweets. I love chocolate. I love cupcakes. I love cookies.

You get the picture.

I came across this recipe from The Farm at Eastman’s Corner (more on that place later). It is a simple, cooking for kids book and since Nina shares my adoration of baked goods and chocolate, we decided to give this recipe a try.

I’ve seen many recipes that swap out ingredients for something healthier, but the thought of black beans in a dessert just never really made me want to run out and try it.

But in an attempt to nourish our body and feed the chocolate beast, we gave it a shot.

I am so glad we did. It was easy and really unbelievably delicious. We actually licked the bowl. Just being real.

You can not taste even a smidgen of bean and the texture, although not like a true brownie, was dense and fudgy and super rich and chocolaty.

Now if I’m being truly honest. These aren’t the brownies I would bring to a party for oohs and aaahs (although loaded with beans, you never know what kind of noises you’ll get from the crowd) but for a healthier option to stave off a chocolate attack, I am totally a fan. The fact that Nina actually wanted to pack them in her lunch is saying something.

Warmer weather is coming. And that means swimsuits and shorts people. But chocolate is just part of life. You can have it all!

Give these a try. You will be amazed.

Black Bean Brownies

2 c. canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
2 1/4 Tbls coconut oil
1/3 c cocoa powder
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 c chocolate chips (I used mini, they’re so cute!)

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8×8″ baking dish

Puree beans in a food processor until smooth

Add all remaining ingredients, except for chocolate chips and blend until smooth.

Pour batter into baking dish and sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until firm in the center.

Let cool and enjoy!

store wrapped in the refrigerator

One Pan Sausage Pepper & Onion Pasta

pront

I dig quick, easy recipes. No surprise there.

It’s also no surprise that I came home from work and had no idea what to make for dinner because I forgot to take some sort of meat out of the freezer. I do that a lot. Sometimes I just can’t think that far ahead. Besides, I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl. That’s how I roll.

So there I was, standing in the kitchen with a dull look on my face, staring into an open refrigerator wondering what to feed the fam.

I didn’t feel like Googling anything. Besides, there was no time for that. Time to whip something up and hope for the best.

I grabbed some sweet and hot sausages from the freezer. I always seem to have a bunch of packages of those hanging around for just such an occasion. A sweet red pepper and an onion always goes great with sausages, and I had those on hand too.

I had bought some Barilla Rotini Pronto pasta awhile ago, so I thought I’d give it a shot. “One pan. No boil. No drain”. Yes please.

This dish came together in 20 minutes. For realz people. TWENTY minutes! A little chopping. A bit of boiling and some stirring and in no time I had a creamy, cheesy, flavorful pasta dish on the table. We enjoyed it thoroughly and I’ll be stocking up on Barilla Pronto for my frequent absentminded occasions.

Did you forget you have to feed your family dinner tonight?

Rather sit on the couch and catch up Married at First Sight instead of slaving in the kitchen? Maybe that’s just me.

Are you just hungry and tired and can’t bear to listen to “When’s dinner going to be ready Mom?” for one more second?

Then this is a meal for you. Quick, easy and delicious.

Nuff said.

One Pot Sausage, Pepper & Onion Pasta

8 sausage links (I used 4 sweet & 4 hot, but use whatever you want), sliced into 1″ pieces
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 yellow or sweet onion, coarsely chopped
3/4 c. white wine
1 Tbls. olive oil
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1 box Barilla Pronto Rotini pasta
3 c. water
1/2 c. light cream (or 1/2 & 1/2 or heavy cream)
1/4 c. finely chopped fresh basil
2 Tbls. butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. In a deep, 12-inch skillet slightly brown sausage and add peppers and onions and saute for 2-3 minutes over medium high heat.
  2. Add white wine and cook down for a minute or two.
  3. Add the entire box of pasta, olive oil and 3 cups water (ingredients won’t be completely covered with water, don’t worry). Turn heat to high and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often to make sure the pasta is mixed in well.
  4. Add cream, Parmesan cheese, butter and basil and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes until sauce thickens. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a side salad and enjoy!