Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Italian Cannellini Soup

With windchills hitting -50 at times, it is time to make soup.  This is what I created after gathering ingredients from the refrigerator and pantry.

Italian Cannellini Soup

3 oz Pancetta, cooked, drained and crumbled
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp celery flakes
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp parsley
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or soup kettle.  Add in carrots and allow to cook for 5 minutes.  Add in garlic and cook for another minute before adding in the broth and remaining ingredients.  Simmer until carrots are fork tender.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Cinnamon Honey Roasted Autumn Vegetables

There's no denying that these vegetables are my favorites and putting together with honey and cinnamon is just a win-win situation.

Cinnamon Honey Roasted Autumn Vegetables

1 sweet potato
2 large carrots
1 small buttercup squash

3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 generous pinch of sea salt

Peel and diced all the vegetables.  In a large bowl, combine honey, olive oil and spices.  Add in vegetables and toss.  Spread out on a baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil.  Bake for 40 minutes at 350°.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Apple Stuffed Pork Chops

I decided to try making apple stuffed pork chops since the pork chops with cranberry stuffing turned out so well.  I added in an easy to make gravy this time with apple cider in it.

Apple Stuffed Pork Chops

2 thick cut pork chops
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup herb stuffing
1/4 cup apple, diced
1 tsp rubbed sage
Salt & freshly ground pepper for the stuffing and on the chops

Apple cider
1  tbsp flour
1/2 cup cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut a slit in the middle of each chop to create a pocket.  In a small bowl, mix together stuffing, apples and spices.  Stuff into the pockets.  I did not secure the pockets with toothpicks and the stuffing remained intact.  In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil.  When heated, add in the pork chops and cook on each side for 5 minutes.  Place in a baking pan and cover that with aluminum foil.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the pork temperature reaches 150°.  If there are juices that ran off, pour into a measuring cup and add in apple cider until it reaches the 1/2 cup mark.  Reheat the frying pan and add in juices, cider and flour.  Whisk together.  Add in cream.  Continue stirring until it thickens.  Season to taste.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Raspberry Ale Cheese Ball

It's not often that I will mention a brand name of a product in my blog but I will when I find a new cheese that love.  The cheese I found is Sartori Raspberry BellaVitano,  a cheese that was soaked in raspberry ale.  It shredded nicely and I didn't want to add in spices that would hide the flavor.  

Raspberry Ale Cheese Ball

8 oz cream cheese, softened
5.3 oz Sartori Raspberry BellaVitano cheese, shredded
1 tbsp red raspberry seedless jam
1/3 cup cashews, chopped

Mix together softened cream cheese and Raspberry BellaVitano cheese. Add in the raspberry jam and mix well. Shape into a ball shape in bowl and cover
with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove and roll in chopped

Return to refrigerator. Remove 15 minutes before
serving.  Serve with crackers or vegetables.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Italian Bread

Cold weather, actual colds or the flu...not sure what hit me but the need for soup and something to go along with it and this bread was the perfect thing.  A nice, crisp crust and soft insides.  

Italian Bread

2 3/4 cups bread flour
2 1/2 tsp bread machine active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp extra light virgin olive oil

1 large egg slightly beaten
1 tbsp water

Put flour, yeast, warm water, sugar, salt and olive oil in bread machine and set to dough setting.

When done, remove from machine and put on a baking stone that has a thin coating of corn meal.  Cut a quarter inch deep in three stripes with a sharp knife.  Let rise for about a half hour in a warm area.

Brush top of bread with the mixture of 1 beaten egg and 1 tbsp water.  Bake until a golden brown.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350°

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cinnamon & Sugar Snack Mix

This could also be called a sweet & salty snack mix.  The salt from the pretzels and almonds balance out with the sugar and cinnamon mixture on top of them making them not overly sweet.

Cinnamon & Sugar Snack Mix

5 cups pretzel twists
2 cups sea salt almonds
2 cups Crispix cereal
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup canola oil

Mix together pretzels, almonds and Crispix in a roasting pan or dutch oven.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon completely before stirring in the canola oil.  Pour over the pretzel mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes at 300°, stirring every 10 minutes.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Cranberry & Strawberry Jam

Another gift giving treat this year is this jam that I made.  It's a perfect topping for an orange cranberry bread or biscuits.

Cranberry & Strawberry Jam

12 oz fresh cranberries, rinsed and chopped
16 oz fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 package Sure-Jell

Place fruit and 1/2 cup sugar in a large saucepan and let sit covered for one hour.  Remove lid and cook over medium heat.  Adding in brown sugar and sugar.  Put sugar in 1/2 cup at a time and taste.  What I think was good might be not sweet enough for you.  Make the package of Sure-Jell to their instructions.  Stir into fruit mixture.  Before it's done, add in cinnamon.  Can or place in decorative containers for gift giving.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chocolate Blossoms

Peanut butter blossoms are one of my favorite cookies but this cookie rates a close second.  I had intended to use a peppermint kiss but unfortunately got the wrong package so I used Hugs instead.  I put my candy in the refrigerator so they wouldn't melt as fast but next time I think I'll keep them in the freezer for extra insurance that they won't melt.

Chocolate Blossoms

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup dark cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add in egg and vanilla.  Stir in salt and flour.  Fold in cocoa and make sure it's all blended in.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before rolling into 1" balls.  Place 2 tbsp of sugar in a bowl and roll the balls in coating evenly all sides.  Place on parchment lined baking sheets and back for 10 minutes at 325°.  Remove from oven and place kiss/hug in the center.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cheesy Taco Soup

Cold weather is always a good time to try new soup recipes out and this one is so thick it could almost be considered more of a stew than soup.  Lots of Mexican flavor and it's fun to top with Frito's for a chrunch.  I had told one of my readers that I would find make a recipe using black beans so here's what I came up with Linda ~

Cheesy Taco Soup

1# extra lean ground beef
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1 can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
2 cups Cheddar Jack cheese, shredded
4 oz cream cheese

Brown hamburger and drain any excess grease.  Place in crock pot with beans.  In a large saucepan, melt the butter and stir in flour.  Let this cook together for a minute and start to gradually add in the 2 cups of milk.  Stir frequently until it starts to thicken.  Add in cream cheese and Cheddar Jack stirring until completely melted.  Pour over ground beef and beans.  Cook for an hour over medium heat.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Apple Cider Braised Ribs

I had leftover apple cider that needed a good home and the brisket had turned out so well using it that it was time to try some ribs.  They came out with a delicious apple flavor and so tender they were falling off the bones.  Plus after you brown them, all you do is put them in a dutch oven with the sauce and walk away and let them simmer for 8 hours.

Apple Cider Braised Ribs

2.5# pork back ribs
extra virgin olive oil 
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 cups apple cider

Brown the ribs with heated olive oil in the dutch oven in small batches.  Once all done, place in dutch oven and add in the apple cider, honey and lemon juice.  Cover and let simmer for 8 hours.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Candy Cane Cookies

'Tis the season for me to finish up my holiday baking.  Here's one of the cookies I made for gift giving.

Candy Cane Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 tbsp crushed candy canes

Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla.  Gradually mix in flour and cornstarch.  Fold in crushed candy canes and cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Remove and roll into 1" balls as the oven is heating to 350°.  Bake for 9 minutes.  Remove and let cool.

Icing ~

1/4 cup butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Mix all the icing ingredients together and frost the cookies.  Top with crushed candy canes.  Keep cookies chilled.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hamburger Dip

Game time!  And what better way to spend a cold winter day than watching football (ok, there will be some hockey mixed in there too).  A comfy couch, a beverage of choice and a hot cheesy dip for snacking is all you need.

Hamburger Dip

1 # extra lean ground beef, cooked and seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup Mexican cheese blend
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Brown seasoned ground beef.  Just before it has finished cooking, add in the onions and cook together.  Add in tomato sauce and ketchup.  Add in remainder of ingredients and stir until cheese is completely melted.  Transfer to a small crock pot to keep warm.  Serve with chips ~ any kind work - potato (use rippled because they are stronger), tortilla or Fritos.  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chicken Chili

It's too early to be this cold out when it's not officially winter yet.  I made this spicy meal on a day when the temperature didn't get above 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  It took only an hour to cook but the warmth it created lasted much longer.

Chicken Chili

1# chicken breasts, cubed into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup onions, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp green chilies, chopped
1 tbsp chili seasoning  (my homemade recipe below)

Lightly brown chicken pieces in olive oil in a dutch oven or large saucepan.  Add in onions and garlic and let cook an additional couple of minutes.  Add in broth and remainder of ingredients.  Simmer for one hour.

Spice Mix ~

1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp  oregano
1 tsp pepper, freshly ground
1/2 tsp salt

Place in a sealable plastic bag or container that's airtight and mix well.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake

You need a comfort food sometimes as a long week draws to a close.  What better than Chicken Alfredo to come to the rescue.  It's creamy and full of Parmesan flavor.  

Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake

1# chicken, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2# linguine, cooked still slightly al dente
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp parsley
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup peas
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

Melt 3 tbsp butter and stir in flour.  Gradually add in chicken broth and cream, stirring constantly.  When thickened, remove from heat and add in Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

In a greased casserole, put cooked linguine, chicken, peas, parsley and cheese sauce and mix together.  Top with the 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Breakfast Sausage

I've always been fascinated with sausage making.  I buy it often and create recipes around it but starting from scratch has always been on my bucket list.  I can now scratch that off the list.  But this is just a beginning...I will be making more in the future.  Plus I got to use one of my favorites that is hard to sneak into recipes ~ fennel seed.

Breakfast Sausage

1# ground turkey
1/2# ground pork
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp cayenne

Mix together everything in a large bowl.  Make sure the spices are completely blended.  I recommend frying a small piece in a pan to make sure your spice level is to your liking.  Cook all the pieces taking care not to overcrowd your pan.  Drain on paper towels before serving.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lemon Ricotta Waffles

I posted a blueberry sauce recipe the other day and these waffles are what I made to go with it.  The light lemon waffles and the blueberries with a hint of lemon are a perfect compliment to one another.

Lemon Ricotta Waffles

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 large eggs, separated
3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup ricotta
1 cup milk

Sift all dry ingredients and zest into a large bowl.  In a small bowl, beat egg whites until light and fluffy.  Gradually mix milk, egg yolks, butter, ricotta, lemon juice and beaten egg whites into dry ingredients.

Bake per your waffle makers instructions.

Makes 8 waffles

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Italian Roasted Potato Wedges

Easy to make sides are always a challenge during the work week.  This one can be done in 45 minutes and has lots of flavor.

Italian Roasted Potato Wedges

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
salt to taste

Cut potatoes into wedges.  Cut in half, in half again and then into 2 more slices.  You should get 16 wedges from each potato.  Place in a bowl and coat with the extra virgin olive oil.  In a small bowl, combine the cheese and spices.  Sprinkle half over the potatoes.  Toss and then sprinkle in the other half.  Toss again.  Bake on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet for 35 minutes at 400°.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Grilled Ham & Pear Sandwich

It's Monday.  It's cold out and it's Monday.  That was worth repeating.  It usually also calls for an easy dinner.  This is an easy to make sandwich with lots of fun flavor.

Grilled Ham & Pear Sandwich

2 slices of your favorite bread ~ I used sour dough
Applewood smoked sliced ham
Fontina cheese
Fresh Anjou pear slices

Butter outsides of the slices of bread.  Place one butter side down and top with Fontina slices, ham and slices of pear.  Top with the second slice of bread and place face down on the pear. Grill until a golden brown on both sides. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pork Chops with Cranberry Stuffing

I always buy extra cranberries during the fall because they are a great fruit to work with for sauces, stuffing, jams...  Last night I used some for a stuffing for some thick pork chops I had bought.  The little tart bite they add is perfect for pork.  The stuffing would also work great for a stuffed pork roast.

Pork Chops with Cranberry Stuffing

2 thick cut pork chops
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup herb stuffing
1/4 cup fresh cranberries, diced
1 tsp rubbed sage
Salt & freshly ground pepper for the stuffing and on the chops

Cut a slit in the middle of each chop to create a pocket.  In a small bowl, mix together stuffing, cranberries and spices.  Stuff into the pockets and close with toothpicks.  In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil.  When heated, add in the pork chops and cook on each side for 5 minutes.  If the pan can be put in the oven, cover with aluminum foil and place in a 350° oven.  You can also place in a baking pan and cover that with aluminum foil.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the pork temperature reaches 150°.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Tassies

I made this recipe years ago before I started blogging and just ran across it again in my Living Cookbook.  It seemed like the perfect addition to my holiday baking and smells so wonderful with the chocolate and raspberry filling.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tassies

Shells ~

3 oz cream cheese, softened 
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup flour

Mix together cream cheese, butter and flour.  Place covered in refrigerator for 2 hours.  Scoop out balls of dough and press into greased mini muffin cups to form a bowl.

Filling ~

2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp butter
1 large egg
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp Chambord
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Melt chocolate and butter.  Allow to cool slightly.  Add sugar and egg.  Add in vanilla and Chambord.  Stir in hazelnuts last.  Carefully spoon chocolate mixture into each of the cups.  Bake for 20 minutes at 325°.  

Makes 24.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mac & Beer Cheese With Sausage

After watching it snow all day, an almost getting stuck in my driveway, shoveling and frigid temperatures moving in...it's time for alcohol.  I chose to combine it with one of my favorite comfort foods ~ mac and cheese.


Mac & Beer Cheese With Sausage

4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup beer
8 oz Cavatappi pasta, cooked and drained
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, grated

4 oz Apple Wood Smoked Gouda, grated
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup sliced sausage
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp paprika

1 dash garlic powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt 4 tbsp butter and stir in flour.  Gradually add in milk, stirring constantly.  When thickened, remove from heat and add in cheeses.

In a casserole, put cooked macaroni, sausage and cheese sauce.

In a small pan, melt 1 tbsp butter.  Add in Panko bread crumbs and spices.  Stir into macaroni mixture.  
Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Blueberry Sauce

I've used quite a few different fruits to make toppings & syrups for pancakes or waffles and this is my latest.  Normally I make lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberries inside the cakes but I'll be using this as a topping this weekend.  These are not overly sweet so you could use them as a topping for ice cream too.

Blueberry Sauce

10 oz blueberries, I used frozen
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan.  Allow to simmer for a half hour so the berries release their juices and it starts to thicken.  Store covered in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Jingle Bell Pillow

Christmas craft projects are back again!  I've been doing different projects  and some actually going to stay in my home this year.  The first that I'm sharing is this easy to make pillow decorated for the season.  Luckily my cat has decided to leave it alone.  I opted for a faux suede pillow, instead of just a case.  It was cheaper than buying a pillow cover and a pillow form.  You could make your own cover too.  I chose black but a red pillow would also look nice.  I picked multi-colored bells but I have seen some matte bells that would look very nice on this project.

Jingle Bell Pillow

1 - 16 x 16 pillow
25 - .5 bells
black thread

I spaced the bells about 2 3/4" apart.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Parmesan Herb Rolls

I made these to go along with the turkey pot pie soup.  The aroma of bread and herbs together blocked out the snow that was starting to fall outside.

Parmesan Herb Rolls

1 1/4 cups warm water
1 pkg yeast
3 cups bread flour
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp Italian Seasonings

I take the easy way and use my bread maker on dough setting.  All you do is put all the ingredients in the basket and 90 minutes later the dough is ready to roll out on a lightly floured surface.  Cut into 12 equal pieces and place in a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Allow to rise until double in size.  Bake for 20 minutes at  350°.  Remove from oven and brush with 2 tbsp of softened butter.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top and return to oven for another 5 minutes.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Turkey Pot Pie Soup

This is the final Thanksgiving leftover meal.  The remainder is heading for the freezer but it was a tasty ending to using turkey.

Turkey Pot Pie Soup

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cups turkey or chicken broth
2 cups milk
2 cups turkey, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup carrots, pared and diced
1 cup potatoes, pared and diced
1 cup peas
1 cup corn (I used 2 ears of fresh corn)
1 tbsp celery flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Melt the butter in the bottom of a dutch oven or soup kettle.  Stir in flour and cook for a couple minutes.  Whisk in chicken broth.  Add in milk, turkey, carrots and potatoes, cover with lid slightly ajar and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes.  Add in peas, corn and celery flakes.  Cook for an additional 30 minutes.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.