Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pita Bread

These do take a while to make, but they are pretty delicious.
We use these for all types of meals -
Stuff them with a salad, turn them into a sandwich, pile them with taco and fajita meat, etc.
Whatever you use them for, they always turn out great!
Pita Bread
Recipe from Sweet Basil 
3 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 pkg. (2 1/4 tsp.) yeast
1 1/4 c. water, room temperature
2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil

Mix yeast with flour, salt and sugar.
Add oil and water.
Stir together with a wooden spoon until ball forms.
Knead for 10 minutes.
Place dough in bowl lightly coated with oil and cover with saran wrap.
Let raise till double.

When doubled, punch down and divide into 8.
Roll each into a ball and cover with a damp kitchen towel, resting for 20 minutes to gain elasticity.
Working on a flour surface, roll each ball out about 1/8 - 1/4" thickness, about 6" in diameter.
Let rise, uncovered, until barely doubled in thickness, about 30-45 minutes.

Bake individually on a heated baking stone at 450 for 5 minutes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Soften Brown Sugar

Don't you just love it when you go to use your brown sugar and find it hard as a rock?
Here are some tips to keep it fresh and moist, as well as ways to get it back to normal after hardening.
This information was retrieved from

10 Ways to soften Hard Brown Sugar

1.Place the brown sugar in an airtight container with a slice of fresh bread placed on top. Seal and leave overnight. It should be soft and fresh again in the morning, if not just let it sit another day or two.

2.Sprinkle a few drops of water over the chunk of hardened sugar, place in a plastic bag, seal, and let sit for a couple days.

3.Place brown sugar in an open container, then top with a moistened cloth (paper towel works too). Let sit overnight.

4.Place the hardened sugar in an airtight container with a few apple slices. This should soften the sugar within the next day or two. Remove apple slices once sugar is soft again.

5.Use foil or plastic wrap to cover the top of the sugar. Then set a dampened sheet of paper towel (not dripping wet) on top of the foil. Place in an airtight container and seal. Let sit overnight or a few days as needed. Remove foil and paper towel once the towel is dry and sugar is fresh again.

6.Buy a clay disc or if you have a pottery piece on hand (from a broken clay pot, etc.), set it in water for about 30 minutes. Dry the piece so it isn’t dripping wet. Put the clay piece in a container with the sugar and seal. Check after a few days. Keep the piece in with your sugar for months if you’d like–will keep it soft.

Need the sugar soft now?

Quick Tip #1: Put the brown sugar in a container and place in the microwave with a small bowl full of water beside it. Microwave for about 1 minute–check. If it’s still hard, try for another 30 seconds. You can keep doing this until the sugar is soft, but watch that you don’t melt the sugar.

Quick Tip #2: Place the hardened sugar in a baking pan and set in oven (temperature at about 250° F). Check after 5 minutes. If still not soft, continue checking every few minutes until it’s soft and ready to use.

Quick Tip #3: Place the brown sugar chunk in a microwave safe plastic bag. Take a square of paper towel and moisten with water (not dripping wet–wring out excess). Place the wet paper towel in the bag with the sugar and seal. Place in the microwave for approximately 20 seconds. If still not soft, microwave for a few seconds more, repeating until the sugar is ready to use. Be careful not to melt the sugar.

Quick Tip #4: Stick chunks of the brown sugar in a food processor or blender and chop/pulse until useable.

For best results, make sure to store brown sugar in a sealed, airtight container (consider using an oxygen absorber packet). A clay disc kept in the container can keep it soft for months (see tip above for clay disc).

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chicken Parmigiana

This is one of my husbands favorite meals.
It's a good thing it can come together in about 30 minutes!
Chicken Parmigiana
2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
4 chicken breasts
1/3 c. flavored bread crumbs
1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
Marinara Sauce (you can use the jarred kind if you wish, or make your own with the recipe below)

Between sheets of waxed paper, flatten chicken to 1/4" thickness.
In a shallow dish, mix bread crumbs and 1/3 c. parmesan.
Dip chicken into egg, then coat with bread crumb mixture.

In 12" skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
Cook chicken in oil 10-15 minutes, turning once, until no longer pink in the center.
Spoon a small amount of marinara onto each chicken breast.
Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the chicken.
Broil on high until cheese is melted and golden.

Serve remaining sauce with noodles of choice (I used whole wheat fettuccine)

2 Tbsp. olive oil 
1 c. chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat.
Cook onions and garlic in oil for 2 minutes, stirrin occasionally.
Stir in tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper.
Heat to boiling.
Reduce heat; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Banana Bread

Nothing is better than fresh banana bread.  This recipe is so easy and delicious - it turns out perfect every time!
Banana Bread
6 mashed bananas
1 c. shortening
2 c. granulated sugar
4 eggs
4 c. sifted flour
1 c. crushed walnuts OR chocolate chips (optional)
4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Cream shortening and sugar.
Add unbeaten eggs and beat until well blended.
Sift together dry ingredients several times.
Mash bananas until thick liquid consistency.
Alternate dry ingredients and banana mixture, beating well after each addition.
Add walnuts or chocolate chips if desired.
Bake in well greased loaf/muffin pans.

2 Large loaf pans: 1 hour at 350
4 Medium loaf pans: 40 minutes at 350
Muffins: 15 minutes at 375.
Did you know that you can also make banana bread with dehydrated banana slices?  Click here to find out how.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Treats
1/4 c. butter
10oz. pkg. (about 40) regular marshmallows, or 3 c. mini marshmallows
6 c. rice krispies cereal
1 c. fruity pebbles cereal

Melt butter and marshmallows in a saucepan or microwave, stirring occasionally.
Once smooth, stir in cereal, coating evenly.
Press into a greased 9x13" dish.
Cool and cut.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs

I got this idea from Make It and Love It, and I knew I had to try it.
It did not let me down!
I was worried that the squash wouldn't be as filling as real noodles, but that wasn't the case either.

And remember all that pepperjack cheese I had?
Well it added just the right amount of spice, packed individually into each of those juicy meatballs.
We will be going back to this recipe again and again.

Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs
For the Squash:
Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and pulp.
Put 1-2 Tbsp. of butter in each half (depending on the size).
To cook, either:
Bake (cut side up) at 400 for 45 minutes, or
Microwave on high for 10-15 minutes.
Shred with a fork (squash will naturally take on the spaghetti noodle form).

For the Meatballs:
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1/2 c. seasoned italian breadcrumbs
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/4 c. parmesan or romano cheese
12-16 slices/chunks pepperjack cheese (or mozarella)

Combine all igredients except pepperjack/mozzarella cheese.
Divide into 12-16 chunks.
Place a chunk of pepperjack cheese next to each meat chunk and form the meatball around the cheese.
Bake at 450 for 12 minutes on a greased baking sheet.
(I didn't want to heat up the house so I actually cooked mine in an electric frying pan - just be sure and turn it so it cooks evenly on all sides.)

Serve meatballs over spaghetti squash and top with your favorite sauce.

** Meatballs can be frozen prior to cooking, as well as once cooked **

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spiced 4 Cheese Pizza

I was recently given a LOT of pepperjack cheese (which I happen to love).
So... I've been trying to incorporate it into some of my meals this week.
I started with pizza.
Spiced 4 Cheese Pizza
Pizza dough (found here)
1/2 - 1 can tomato sauce (my hubs LOVES a lot of sauce, so we use a full can)
2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 c. pepperjack cheese
1/3 c. mozzarella cheese
1/3 c. cheddar cheese
1/3 c. parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried cilantro

Roll out pizza dough.
Mix Italian seasoning with sauce and spread over dough.
Top with cheese.
Bake at 425 until browned and bubbly, about 12-15 minutes.
Sprinkle with dried (or fresh) cilantro.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nacho's in a Bag

Whenever we have a big family get together and we are in charge of food, we always make this:
Nacho's in a Bag.
It is perfect for feeding lots of people, and as you can see has very little cleanup.
Plus, it is delicious!

Nacho's in a Bag
Individual assorted chip bags (we like Cool Ranch and Cheddar Doritos, Cheetos and Fritos).
Taco Meat and/or Beans
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream

Have each person pick their chip bag.
Cut off the top of the long side of the bag, and open it up like a bowl.
Crunch the chips into smaller pieces.
Top with taco meat, and your choice of toppings.
Stir together and eat.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Home Made Sun Dried Tomatoes

I guess more appropriately label "oven dried tomatoes", but you catch my drift.
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Recipe from Tipnut

Tomatoes (preferably roma)
olive oil
herbs de provence
kosher salt

Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spread a thin layer of olive oil over entire surface.
Remove tomato stems.
Cut tomatoes in thin strips, removing as much liquid/seeds as possible.
Lay the tomatoes, cut side up, on the baking sheet.
Make sure they do not touch each other.
Drizzle extra oil over the tops.
Sprinkle with a small amount of kosher salt.
Season with herbs de provence.
Cook in a 200 degree oven until tomatoes are shrunken and leathery looking, 4-8 hours (depending on thickness).
They should be firm, but still flexible when done.
Use immediately, freeze, or place in a jar with olive oil in fridge.

**If using in a jar with olive oil:
Cover entire tomato contents with oil to prevent spoilage.
Be sure and bring the jar to room temperature before removing tomatoes to 'thaw' the oil.
You can also add fresh basil, garlic cloves, etc. to enhance the flavor.
The olive oil can be reused for cooking once tomatoes are gone.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Zucchini Tomato Bites

I made this for the first time this year, and immediately LOVED it!
I am always looking for new ways to use up all of the items in my garden and this hit the spot.
And of course they were magnificently tasty.
Zucchini Tomato Bites
Idea from Confessions of a Bake-a-holic

5 small zucchini or summer squash
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
fresh basil leaves
ground black pepper

Cut squash into 1/2" slices.
Use a small spoon or melon baller to scoop out the insides, forming a cup (do not go all the way through).

Fill each cup with cheddar cheese.
Top the cheese with a basil leaf.

For large sqash rings place a whole cherry tomato, half for the smaller ones.
Sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake at 400 for 5-7 minutes, until cheese melts.
Serve immediately.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Basil Pesto Sauce

Pesto is one of those wonderfully magnificent sauces that my husband hates.
More for me.
This year I grew basil.  Specifically for this sauce.
It was well worth it.
Basil Pesto Sauce
Recipe from Our Family Treat

1/2 c. pine nuts
1 large garlic clove
2 c. fresh basil
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

Pulse everything but olive oil in a food processor.
Add extra virgin olive oil until right consistency.
This is perfect for pasta, sandwiches, pizza, you name it!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cobbler Cake (Peach)

Cobbler always reminds me of camping.
That was pretty much the only thing my mom would make in a dutch oven.
This recipe can be made indoors... and all year round.
It is one of Tate's favorites.
Cobbler Cake
8 c. fresh fruit of choice (in the off season we used bottled peaches)
½ c. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. butter
1-2 Tbsp. sugar

1 egg, beaten
1 c. flour
¾ c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ c. rich cream

Peel and chop fruit into bite sized pieces.
Mix butter with brown sugar and add to fruit.
Grease a 9x13" baking dish and pour fruit inside.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, depending on the tartness of the fruit.
For the batter: beat egg and sugar until thick and creamy.
Add flour and baking powder.
Add cream.

Cover fruit with batter and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.
Sprinkle warm cake with extra cinnamon and sugar.
Serve with whip cream or ice cream.