Tag Archives: salt

Best Baked Beans! – Show 101

Best Baked Beans! – Show 101

Every time there’s a get together in my neighborhood the first thing that comes to mind, “I hope Linda brings her baked beans!” That’s how good these baked beans are! My friend and neighbor, Linda, graciously offered up her recipe so that I may share it with all of you. Linda titles the recipe “Sue’s Baked Beans” because she got the recipe from her sister Sue who got the recipe from their mom! No matter what the title it’s one great family recipe.

Just the thought of bacon, sauteéd onions and creamy beans and you’ve got my attention. These are a few of the ingredients that go into this Best Baked Beans recipe. Other key ingredients are brown sugar, honey mustard, garlic granules, and to balance out the whole dish  apple cider vinegar, of course.

It’s really fairly simple especially since the recipe calls for canned beans. Shhhh …no one has to know that, lol! These beans, in my opinion, taste like they are made from scratch. Our time is very valuable and if you can make baked beans that taste like this you’re one step ahead of the game. These best beaked beans are creamy, flavorful, and a wonderful balance between sweet and tangy making a great addition to grilled fish, chicken, pulled pork or sausages. These will become your go to baked bean recipe once you taste them!

For some other fun BBQ ideas, Homemade BBQ Sauce, Grilled-Marinated Steak on Skewers, Seared Sea Scallops or Stout Braised Pulled Beef Short Ribs and don’t forget to end the meal with some Homemade Hersheys Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake topped with GHOST Peeps!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • Bush Beans – Vegetarian (large can undrained)
  • Black beans- 15 oz. can (drained and rinsed)
  • Kidney beans – 15 oz. can (drained and rinsed)
  • Butter beans – 15 oz. can (drained and rinsed)
  • Cannelloni beans – 15 oz. can (drained and rinsed)
  • Bacon – 8 slices Boars Head
  • 2 to 3 onions (chopped)
  • ½ cup cider vinegar (add more if you like tangy vs. sweet)
  • 2 to 3 tbls. honey mustard
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • Ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Add the 5 cans of beans to a large mixing bowl
  2. Cook bacon in skillet until crisp, drain on paper towels and then crumble into small pieces–save 2 tbls grease
  3. In the same skillet cook chopped onions in the 2 tbls bacon grease until soft
  4. Then add in the crumbled bacon, cider vinegar, brown sugar, honey mustard, garlic powder, and ground pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes
  5. Pour this mixture over beans and mix well.
  6. Pour into baking crock or dish and bake at 350 degrees for one hour….delicious!

 

 

 

Girl Scouts Thin Mint Chocolate Mousse Pie

Girl Scouts Thin Mint Chocolate Mousse Pie

This Girl Scouts thin mint chocolate mousse pie is absolutely delicious!  The oh so chocolaty mousse is light and lucious and melts in your mouth. The texture’s of the pie are undenialbly one of my favorite aspects of the pie. It goes from the cool, silky mousse to the crunchy cookie crumble in the crust with subtle hints of mint.

Although you do bake the thin mint crust for a mere 8 minutes, this is a no-bake, no fuss, chocolate mousse filling. The crunchie crust is made with puréed Girl Scout Cookies, butter and sugar. In the same food processor that the thin mint cookies were just puréed, the chocolate mousse starts off with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.  Then boiling heavy cream is streamed into the opening at the top to melt the chips as they spin into a smooth and creamy chocolate delight. This chocolate is cooled to room temperature and folded into whipped heavy cream for the finale. It’s one of those special dessert’s that’s so uncomplicated you’ll find yourself making it more than just once.

Having my daughter’s Girl Scout troop in my kitchen making this thin mint chocolate mousse pie was so much fun! We are very fortunate for our wonderful leader, Jen Swenson, who is generous with her efforts and time with the troop. It’s one of those precious things in life that the girls will treasure always.

Those of you who love the good ole mint-chocolate flavors will go crazy for this dessert. Those of you who aren’t partial to that flavor combo might be surprised how suble and sweet the thin mint crust is …tamed by the butter maybe! And like I told Maisy in the show, you can always just eat the chocolate mousse middle!

If you are looking for some appetizer’s to start off this Girl Scouts Thin Mint Chocolate Mousse Pie extravaganza you should try my Salsa 101 or Best Guacamole Ever!  Maybe you are more in the mood for Zucchini Torta or a main dish like one of my all time favorite’s Stuffed Peppers or Chicken Piccata…both dishes you’ll add to your week day meals once you have your first bite! Enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients for Girl Scouts Thin Mint Crust Pre-Heat oven to 350º :

  • 28 Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies – 1 3/4 sleeve …(a few left over for nibbling on)
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 10″ pie plate, or 9″ spring form pan, OR 9″ pie plate & cups for the extra chocolate mousse you will have

Directions for the Girl Scouts Thin Mint Crust:

  1. Melt 5 tbsp butter, set aside
  2. Add 28 cookies to the food processor and pulse 3-4 times until they are a fine crumb
  3. Pour in melted butter and 2 tbsp sugar and pulse 10 seconds to combine
  4. Turn out crumb mixture into a 10″ pie plate, or 9″ spring form pan
  5. NOTE: If you only have a 9″ pie plate NO WORRIES just add the excess chocolate mousse to cups or glasses, topping with cookies crumble and set the same in the frig for 4-6 hours or even freeze for a later date!
  6. Press cookie crumb mixture all along the bottom and up the edges of the pie dish forming the crust
  7. Put the pie crust into a 350º oven for 8 minutes
  8. Take out and completely cool

Ingredients for Chocolate Mousse:

  • 3 cups heavy cream – 2 cups for whipping the heavy cream/ 1 cup for melting the chocolate chips in the food processor
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 bag mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions for the Chocolate Mousse:

  1. Wipe thin mint cookie crumbs out of food processor and add mini chocolate chips
  2. Add vanilla and pinch of salt
  3. Add 1 cup heavy cream to small sauce pan and bring to a boil
  4. Place cover on food processor, turn on and slowly add hot cream thru opening at top
  5. Keep it running for about 20-30 seconds until chips are melted and creamy
  6. Empty out into a bowl to cool, only cool to room temperature NOT COLD because the chocolate will solidify and it will be difficult to fold into the whipped cream
  7. When chocolate is close to room temp add 2 cups heavy cream to a large glass bowl with 1/4 cup sugar and begin to whisk with electric beater
  8. Whisk the cream until stiff peaks, 3-5 minutes
  9. Fold 1/2 cup at a time of the room temp chocolate into the whipped cream until there’s none left
  10. Pour out chocolate mousse into the COMPLETELY cooled baked pie crust and smooth out top with a offset spatula
  11. Sprinkle thin mint cookie crumble over the top and place into the frig for 4-6 hours
  12. Slice and serve with whipped cream…yum!

Crêpes 101- My Trick to EASY French Crêpes!

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Crêpes 101- My Trick to Easy French Crêpes!

Buttery, paper thin crêpes filled with raspberry jam, topped with maple syrup, fresh berries and whipped cream is an amazing way to start your morning. Not only are these French crêpes a cinch to make but you can totally make them the night before. Re-heat them in your toaster oven wrapped in foil and they taste like you just made them! A real energy saver and perfect for all those holiday guests staying over.

The word “crêpe” actually means pancake in French, although they are quite different from the all American pancake. Now is it French crêpe or Swedish pancake? Well, they are really very similiar in the way that they are both paper thin compared to that well known Amercian pancake. Over the years I have found that French crêpes can be savory OR sweet while the Swedes like their swedish pancakes strictly with sweets, jams, ice cream or yogurts. The Swedish pancake also has a considerable amount more sugar in the recipe where as most crêpe recipe’s don’t have any sugar at all in the batter.

manicotti3My trick to keeping a recipe as easy as possible is knowing how to save time with a proven method of preparation without foregoing the quality or taste. That’s what I do with my crêpe recipe here, the order in which you whisk your ingredients in the batter is crucial and saves you energy and time so you don’t have to strain the batter! This method of mixing is exactly how I make my Homemade Manicotti Pasta Crepes.

IMG_2536If you are big on breakfast you will definitely want to try my mouth watering  Gourmet Frittata where you use what ever your favorite veggies are or my German Pancake that puffs to amazing heights coming out of the oven getting lot’s of ooh’s and ah’s! If your heading to lunch time try my Secret Family Zucchini Torta Recipe that also makes great appetizers! Another delectable brunch item to make are Homemade Gravlax, the best I’ve ever had, or my Pasta Fagioli that will have you going back for seconds! Hope you get to eventually try them all…you won’t be disappointed! Enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients for French Crêpes- Makes 12 Crêpes:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp whole milk  (If you like them thinner add 2 tbsp milk…NOTE:  if too thin they will tear)
  • 2 ex-lg eggs
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • NOTE: If filling your crepes with sweets add 1/4 tsp vanilla, if savory omit
  • Maple syrup
  • Favorite jam
  • Confectioners sugar
  • Fresh berries, raspberries, blue berries black berries
  • Whipped cream
  • 8″ non-stick pan OR sauté pan OR crêpe pan

Directions:

  1. Melt 2 tbsp butter and set aside to cool slightly
  2. IMPORTANT: My Trick is – MUST MIX IN THIS ORDER then you won’t have to strain batter …saving time!
  3. Add flour and salt to a large mixing bowl
  4. Pour in milk and whisk until smooth
  5. Whisk in 1st egg until completely combined, then the 2nd egg
  6. Whisk in melted cooled butter until combined
  7. Tip for removing air bubbles – Gently stir the crepe batter with a large spoon to help remove any air bubble as these will cause tears in the crêpe
  8. You can make this up to 1 day ahead keeping in the fridge
  9. Put 8″ saute pan on medium heat
  10. TIP for EASY pan coating…Peel back one end of a whole 1/4 stick of butter and rub open end across pan just to coat right before pouring in ladle of batter!
  11. Right as you ladle in 1/4 cup of crepe batter QUICKLY lift pan off the heat and SWIRL to spread batter evenly
  12. Put pan back down on heat and cook for 35-45 seconds, then flip, 10 more seconds cooking
  13. Turn out cooked crêpes onto a dish or cookie rack
  14. They will not stick together
  15. OPTION: Cool a pinch and then stack them on top of one another and into fridge for the next day
  16. Serve warm crêpes with you favorite fillings and roll up or fold and then top with syrup, confectioners sugar, fresh berries and whipped cream …YUM!

Pickled Eggplant at Nancy’s

Pickled Eggplant at Nancy’s

pickperfectThere’s nothing like homemade Pickled Eggplant with thinly sliced strands of eggplant delicately flavored by vinegar, garlic, red hot chili pepper’s, oil-cured black olives and capers all nestled in an olive oil bath. The oil-cured, black olives, add a burst of rich, meaty, sweetness and then there’s a little pucker from the capers. Similar to the oil-cured olives, the eggplant become’s sweet in the beginning of the pickling process when the salt pulls out all the moisture and bitterness.

When Nancy first gave me a jar of her delectable pickled eggplant I knew I would have to get the recipe. Not only is her pickled eggplant to die for but everything she cooks is of the same standard, absolutely delicious! Along with inspiring me in the kitchen, Nancy had the same effect on me on the golf course when I first started playing 8 years ago. She has such tenacity and determination when playing I call her the fiesty golfer! Considering how difficult the game of golf can be, she’s the perfect person to learn the game with.

I had so much fun at Nancy’s house last week making her pickled eggplant. It’s so worth the effort you put into making your own, a most rewarding process when you taste the final product. All of these incredible flavors come together to make an amazing eggplant appetizer like you’ve never had before! You just can’t buy this in the stores!

You may just want to turn your party into an anti-pasto party with other dishes to compliment your pickled eggplant like Guacamole Crostini, Roasted Garlic Bean Dip, Arancini Reubens Balls w/Homemade Thousand Island Dressing, Spanakopita w/Metaxa Mojito’s and, or Homemade Pesto w/Fresh Mozzarella & tomato Crostini! Yum! Hope to recieve an invite to your delectable party lol 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 9 large eggplants
  • 10 cups distilled white vinegar – 3/4 of gallon jug
  • 10 cups water
  • 4 cups olive oil
  • approx 1/2 container of Mortons salt… use 1/3 cup per eggplant
  • 2 cups Italian black oil cured olives – seedless
  • 1 long hot red pepper
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 8 lg garlic cloves coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano OR 2 tbsp fresh oregano dried in the microwave
  • 1 large pickling crock
  • 2 clean white cotton pillow cases
  • 1 extra large bowl to tranfer wet eggplant in pillow cases back and forth from washing machine
  • a case of canning jars

Directions:

  1. Peel and slice all 9 eggplants into 1/8″ thick pieces
  2. Stack slices and cut into 1/8″ strips
  3. Place cut up strips into large pickling crock
  4. After the addition of each cut up eggpant sprinkle in about 1/3 cup salt and mix strips around with salt by hand
  5. Go thru all 9 eggplant making sure to spinkle 1/3 cup salt after addition
  6. Place a small dish on top of all the sliced eggplant so that the dish fits into the crock
  7. Place the gallon jug of vinegar onto dish and let sit 2-3 hours
  8. Remove vinegar bottle weight and plate from crock – at this point there will be a lot of dark brown juice extracted from the eggplant
  9. Transfer eggplant to a clean pillow case a handful at a time leaving behind the brown juice
  10. Divide all the eggplant into 2 pillow cases and tie off the ends into knots so as the eggplant doesn’t come out when you “spin” it in the washer
  11. Rinse out the pickling crock
  12. Take the two pillow cases full of eggplant to the washer and put on “spin” cycle only – NO WATER
  13. After spin stops, remove eggplant from pillow cases & place back into crock (save pillow cases in a large bowl ready to use one more time before cleaning)
  14. Add in chopped garlic cloves and sliced hot pepper
  15. Bring 10 cups vinegar/10 cups water to a rapid boil
  16. Pour vinegar/water mix over eggplant strands in crock
  17. Stir breifly to mix and cover
  18. Let ferment until cooled approx. for 3 hours giving the eggplant a stir at 1 1/2 hour mark
  19. When the eggplant is cooled remove from crock back into pillow caeses
  20. Divide up the eggplant and place back into the same two pillow cases you used on first spin
  21. At this point run all the jars thru dishwasher – time it so they are hot ready to jar the pickled eggplant after 2nd spin (give it about 1/2 hour-depending on timing of your own dishwasher)
  22. Put all the tops to the canning jars in a pan of water, bring to a boil to sterilze as well
  23. Place the eggplant strands back in the washer on “spin” cylce only again – NO WATER
  24. Rinse crock
  25. Microwave fresh oregano in a microwave for 1 minute, crumble the oregano leaves off the stem and set aside
  26. Add spun pickled eggplant back into the clean crock, add in 4 cups olive oil, 2 cups oil-cured black olives, 2 tbsps of caper and 2 tbsp of fresh microwaved oregano
  27. Take hot jars out of the dishwasher and begin to fill with eggplant
  28. Top off the pickled eggplant in the jars with a drizzle of olive oil keeping 1/2″ from the top
  29. Wipe the top of the jars clean with a clean paper towel and seal with the hot tops you boiled on the stove – Be Careful Not To Burn yourself here
  30. Approx 5 hours after putting the tops on the jars, gently push down on the middle circle to hear a small pop and complete the “seal” – NOTE: they may pop down completing that last seal all on their own
  31. The pickled eggplant is done and will keep for months at room temp
  32. I keep an opened jar in the fridge and bring to room temperature when ever I serve it…YUM!

 

 

Happy Roasted Chic Peas!

Happy Roasted Chic Peas!

iphone pictures 970These roasted chick peas are a tasty and healthy treat that will definitely put a smile on your face. My daughter, Bella, thought it only logical that the name should be “happy” roasted chic peas if they make you smile like that and “because they are just happy”… lol

It’s amazing how this creamy bean can turn into this delicious crunchy snack. You are going to love them as much as I do. After being pleasantly surprised by the full flavored crunch you get with this roasted bean you’ll be back for seconds! A golfing friend of mine, Lisa, turned me on to these roasted chick peas a few years back. I’ve been happily making them ever since.

These roasted chic peas are wicked easy to make and a great on the go healthy snack. What’s so fun about making these happy roasted chic peas is you can totally change up the spices making them as spicy and flavorful as you want. Add in a 1/4 tsp of smoked paprika, chipotle pepper, or go for some Indian spices like a coriander/cumin combo, or one of my all time favorite spice’s garam masala. Garam masala differs depending on what region it’s from but basically it’s a combination of black pepper, mace, cinnamon, cloves, cardamons and nutmeg so you’ll get a big burst of flavor from that one alone!

After you happily roast these chic peas you may find yourself wanting to make my baked asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, zucchini torta or even some baked coconut shrimp.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cans chick peas
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • 1/2 tsp onion granules
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper OR 1/4 tsp finely ground blk pepper for flavorful but not spicy
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • OPTIONAL: a few dashes of Siracha for a little extra spice
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt -1/4 before baking and 1/4 after they are roasted

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450º.
  2. Drain and rinse 2 cans of chick peas.
  3. Gently rub and pat dry with paper towels.
  4. This action will loosen the skins off of the chick peas (you don’t have to get off every single chick peas skin..this just naturally happens as you are patting them dry).
  5. Put the chick peas into a medium bowl and add olive oil and spices.
  6. Mix and turn out onto a cookie sheet.
  7. Put them into the oven and bake for approx. 35 minutes.
  8. Shake the pan rolling around the chick peas every 10 minutes…at 25 minutes, 15 minutes and DEFINITELY at 5 minutes
  9. They will burn quickly at the end so you need to keep an eye on them especially during the last 5 minutes.
  10. Remove the chic peas from the oven and sprinkle with the other 1/4 tsp salt and let cool on tray

Easy Icebox Dinner Rolls

Easy Icebox Dinner Rolls

Laura, my loyal friend and follower making the icebox rolls for the holidays!

2014 – Laura, my loyal friend and follower making the icebox rolls for the holidays!

There’s nothing better than the aromas of homemade fresh baked bread, sweet onion and rosemary to wet the appetite! I was thrilled to find this icebox dinner roll recipe about fifteen years ago and have been making them ever since. The recipe card was from “easytobake” and I have tried to access their website but it doesn’t exist anymore. I have made many different bread dough’s in my life, kneading by hand, proofing, kneading again and it can all be exhausting. The whole idea behind icebox dough is that kneading is not necessary. The flavor and soft, tender texture develops as it proofs right in the refrigerator. Once you see how easy it is to make these melt in your mouth icebox dinner rolls you may never pick up store bought rolls again.

Laura making the icebox rolls for her 2015 Thanksgiving!

Laura making the icebox rolls for her 2015 Thanksgiving!

I have added lots of chopped green onion and fresh rosemary in my rolls but they are just as delicious plain too! It takes all of fifteen minutes to make this dough and can be made up to 4 days ahead. The dough stays in the refrigerator, hence the name “icebox” rolls. You take the dough out of the frig the morning of your dinner party. It get’s formed into dough balls mixing in chopped green onion and fresh rosemary. Then the rolls get lined up on a buttery baking tray and back into the frig.  Two hours before you want to serve the homemade icebox dinner rolls you take them out of the frig and let them rise for an hour and a half to two hours. When they have doubled in size, give them an egg wash for a little shine, then bake.

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Hope you enjoy these scrumptious “easy icebox dinner rolls” as much as our family and friends do.  They will be asking you for the recipe for sure! These homemade dinner rolls aren’t just for holidays they are great for any day. Try them with my turkey stuffed peppers where you can dunk them in the sauce and pepper juices, the Au Jus in my Boeuf Bourguignon, or Bolognese Sauce. After all this savoriness you may need a chocolate fix with my perfectly chocolate chocolate cake or for a light and refreshing sweet try this amazing Pavlova!

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Ingredients: Makes 24 Dinner Rolls

  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 packets active dry yeast (NOT rapid rise)
  • 1 cup warm water (105 -115 degrees)
  • 3 lg eggs (if you use extra large eggs you will need to add a little more flour to compensate)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 2 bunches of green onions chopped to 1/8″ pieces -(from white/greenish part to ends)
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1/3 stick room temp butter to coat the cookie tray or inside of the 10″x 15″ baking dish

Directions:  

  1. Using a KitchenAid mixer OR lg mixing bowl pour in the 2 packets of yeast then add in 1 cup of 105º – 110 º  water.
  2. Then add 1 Tbsp of sugar (from the 1/2 of cup of sugar that you add later) now because it feeds the yeast and really gets it activated.
  3. Let this sit for about 5 minutes and you will see it get foamy.
  4. Add in the eggs, melted butter, sugar, and salt and whisk- make sure the butter is not hot because it can kill the yeast if too hot
  5. Begin to beat in a 1/2 cup of flour at a time using the whisk the whole time until the dough gets too stiff to mix.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, place the big ball of dough into a large Ziploc baggy and put it into the refrigerator for 2 hours…. up to 4 days.
  7. When you are ready to make the rolls just cut the dough right out of the zip lock with scissors nice and easy…..then turn out the chilled dough onto a floured work surface and divide equally into 24 pieces with a pastry scraper
  8. Roll each piece into a ball then firmly push into the pile of chopped green onion and freshly chopped rosemary and re-roll into a ball again. You can keep some of the rolls plain.
  9. Coat 4 Tbsp of softened butter all over a cookie tray with 1/2″ sides or a 10″ x 15″ baking dish for taller rolls
  10. Place the dough balls into the buttered baking tray, cover with Saran wrap and let them rise for 1-2 hours depending how warm your kitchen is (they need to dbl in size) OR you can put them back into the frig until 1 1/2 hours before you need them then take them rolls back out of the frig and let them begin to rise and double in size
  11. Pre-Heat the oven to 375º
  12. Whisk 1 whole egg with 1 tbsp water and brush a good coating onto the rolls after they rise and before putting them into the oven
  13. Bake for 13-18 minutes until a dark golden color…it depends how warm the rolls got while rising so you’ll need to peak at them to see if they’re golden yet.

 TIP:   It’s a good idea to warm the stainless steel mixing bowl by running hot water into it before you begin so the cold bowl doesn’t take the necessary temperature of the water down.

Homemade Pasta at Vin’s

Homemade Pasta at Vin’s

Homemade pasta is something you have to try at least once in your life! You’ll see how satisfying it is when you taste the tender, slightly chewy texture of the fresh pasta. Making pasta has been a part of my life ever since I was young making homemade manicotti with my mother for the holidays. At my Aunt Pasqualina’s, the counters were always covered with fresh pasta drying out on dish towels.

This past weekend, my friends Lisa and Vin, graciously agreed to share their grandfather’s secret family pasta recipe with me. I had the opportunity to try out, first hand, a pasta tool that belonged to Vin’s grandfather which he called the “trucal iron”. It’s a special pasta cutting tool, a roller, made years ago from medal and wood that was eventually passed on down to Vin. The center spiral part of this “trucal Iron”, made of medal, does the cutting as you roll out the pasta. It has Wooden handles which he said his grandfather glued back on a couple of times. Vin also has a newer version of this “trucal iron”, one made of all wood but the wood spirals have begun to chip away from wear and tear. They don’t make some things like they used to. Vinnie also shared some precious memories of his grandfather and father making this homemade pasta for Sunday dinners growing up where his grandfather would creatively hang the pasta noodles from atop the kitchen cabinet doors to dry out.

There’s nothing like an evening with special friends making homemade pasta! This night of homemade pasta making at Lisa and Vin’s reminded me of how much I really love to do this. Everyone has their own way of making pasta and that’s part of what makes this experience so fun. Now as for this “trucal iron”, there are other pasta tools out there that mimic what Vin’s special pasta tool does like the ones below from Amazon. I have to say, I haven’t used any of those tools from Amazon because I use my KitchenAid pasta attachment which is another great option for cutting the kneaded pasta dough. You could even cut your thinly rolled out pasta into strips by hand with a sharp knife to get the stands of fettuccine, spaghetti, or what ever thickness you might like.

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Appetizers like baked coconut shrimp, baked asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, and, or a nice homemade Caesar Salad might be just what you are looking for to go with this homemade pasta of Vin’s! If you are looking for a meat sauce to go on this homemade pasta you should try my bolognese sauceOf course, there are other options like my Italian beef meatballsor Italian turkey meatballs. Hope you enjoy the show 😉

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 1/2  – 5 lg eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the kneading attachment on your food processor and add the flour
  2. Add the salt and olive oil
  3. Turn on the food processor to slow
  4. Add in 1 tbsp of water
  5. Begin adding in 1 egg at a time with the processor still on slow
  6. Add in the rest of the eggs
  7. Keep the food processor going on medium speed to begin kneading the dough
  8. Let knead for about 8 minutes until the texture turns into a smooth consistency
  9. Remove the pasta dough and place onto the counter
  10. Knead briefly with your hands and let sit for 1/2 hr.
  11. NOTE: Vin does not cover his pasta dough while it sits for the 1/2 so it can begin to dry out  a little bit
  12. Sprinkle some flour onto the counter or work surface and cut pasta dough into 8 pieces
  13. Begin to roll out each piece of dough to your desired thickness
  14. Sprinkle more flour on top of each thinly rolled out pasta piece and use the roll cutter below or a sharp knife or a KitchenAid Pasta attachment to get desired pasta strips
  15. Bring large pan of salted water to a boil and add fresh pasta
  16. Depending on the thickness, cook pasta for 4-8 minutes, test pieces of pasta for proper doneness
  17. Serve with sauce and mangia, mangia!


Perfect Pie Crust in 5 Minutes!

Perfect Pie Crust in 5 Minutes!

IMG_4416Who would ever think you could make this buttery, flaky, homemade pie crust in 5 minutes? After eating many of my Granda’s pies when I was little I was inspired to come up with a recipe that tasted just like hers. Unfortunately, I never got her recipe but have been making pie crust’s for over twenty years and I’m happy to say I came up with a pie crust recipe that is spot on to what my Grandma used to make . Granted, there are some pretty decent pie crusts available at the market and if you are making many pies it totally makes sense to go that route. If you are only making a couple of pies you really need to get busy and make this homemade pie crust!

Homemade pie crust in 5 minutes is just that but there two tricks to this amazing pie crust. First, all the ingredients must be very cold. Refrigerated butter cubes are already firm enough but to firm up the soft Crisco pieces it’s wise to put that into the freezer before adding it to the food processor. Second, you MUST NOT OVER WORK the dough! Over working the dough will build gluten’s like you are make a bread dough and we don’t want that for making this perfect pie crust in 5 minutes. We want our pie crust to be flaky in texture not tough and hard.

In my opinion, a couple of the best bakers in the world are the French and the Southerner’s. One loves butter and the other loves Crisco. So why not take the best of both worlds using both butter and Crisco to achieve these wonderful results. Not to mention, as I always do, I have tested many pie crusts recipes to come to this theory.

You need to try out this perfect pie crust in 5 minutes recipe just once to be convinced to start making your own. In fact, you will wonder why you haven’t been making your own homemade pie crust your whole life when it’s that easy to make and tastes like this! Enjoy the show and don’t forget to make this ahead of time popping it into your freezer until you are ready to roll it out for a pie or a quiche. I would transfer the dough from your freezer to your refrigerator couple of days before you are ready to use it in order for the dough to come to the proper workable temperature. Once you make your dough you really ought to try making an amazing Chocolate Pecan Pie  or Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie for your holiday. Don’t forget to watch Thanksgiving week when we roll out this dough and bake a pie together! For the Best Blueberry Pie ever recipe this is one that shouldn’t be missed. Enjoy 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 10 tbsp cold butter cut up each tablespoon into 4 pieces and into fridge until you are ready to add to flour
  • 1/2 cup cold Crisco cut into small pieces OR 1/2 cup REAL LARD from FIREFLY Farms OR 1/4 cup Crisco & 1/4 cup lard
  • 1/2 cup,  plus 2 tbsp cold water,  (keep in fridge until you are ready to add to flour)
  • 3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • NOTE: I even keep food processor container with medal blade in it in the fridge until you are ready to pulse ingredients
  • Chocolate Pecan Pie Recipe OR Best Blueberry Pie Recipe OR Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie Recipe

Directions:

  1. Be sure all items above are completely chilled
  2. It’s easiest to freeze first, especially for crisco or real lard, then take out of freezer and cut up or grate before adding to processor
  3. Add dry ingredients to the food processor and pulse twice to combine
  4. Drop the freezer cold, firm Crisco or lard pieces onto the flour
  5. Then add the butter pieces helping the pieces to separate with a butter knife as you drop them onto the flour
  6. Pulse 5-7 time until the Crisco and butter are pea size
  7. Now turn processor to “on” and slowly add water through opening – Note: this will take about 12-15 seconds for the dough to come together
  8. The moment you see the dough begin to come together, STOP, and PULSE 2-3 times to finish into a ball
  9. Take dough out onto floured counter surface – you will see little specs of butter and Crisco in the dough which will make for a buttery, flaky crust!
  10. Cut dough into two pieces, cover with Saran Wrap and into fridge for at least 30 minutes or freezer until you are ready ( If you freeze it allow 2 days back in fridge to come to proper workable temperature)

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

These homemade chocolate crackle cookies will make you feel like a baker of fine cookies. The snowy white confectioners sugar and the chocolaty brown cookie dough make a beautiful contrast when the cookies bake in the oven and make all those crackle lines.  Now the inside is some what of a surprise when you first bite into it. By the looks you might think its a crunchy cookie. Then you sink your teeth in and that velvety texture hits your tongue, feeling lighter then you thought and then the chocolaty silkiness just melts away.

I have been baking these incredible chocolate crackle cookies for at least ten years and for the life of me I can’t remember where I got this recipe from. All my life I have always written down recipes that looked irresistible whenever I was in a waiting room with an assortment food or cooking magazines. So I unfortunately cannot give credit where credit is due. I did of course change the recipe a pinch with the baking time and chocolate used. It originally said 12-15 minutes but I only bake them for eight minutes with a five minute waiting period before I move them off the cookie sheet to a cooling rack this way they can solidify a bit more. Shortening the cooking time gives them softer, gooier center that melts in your mouth rather then a slightly firmer cookie. I use the confection on my oven because the bottom of my oven runs really hot on “bake” not being conducive for even cooking. The hot air circulates in confection mode in my oven giving a more consistent outcome. As for the chocolate, the recipe had called for Verona chocolate which might be difficult to find last minute so I have been using my Ghiradelli bittersweet or Perugina chocolate bars and those are both scrumptious!

This homemade gourmet chocolate crackle cookie just may become a holiday tradition for you and your family too. Easy to make, oh so chocolaty and melts in your mouth! What more could you ask for in a cookie? Hope you enjoy the show 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 stick of butter softened to room temp
  • 1 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 lg eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. bag of a bittersweet chocolate chips- Ghiradeli

Directions – Pre-heat oven to 350º to bake cookies :

  1. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and set aside
  2. Place bitterswewet chips in a pan over double boiler and melt – you can use a microwave – heat 20 seconds and stir and 10 more seconds and stir but be very careful not to burn the chocolate in the microwave
  3. Cream room temperature butter with light brown sugar in your Kitchen Aid mixer
  4. Add in 2 eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition
  5. Add vanilla and melted chocolate and beat briefly til combined
  6. Alternatively, begin to add dry sifted ingredients and 1/3 cup of milk all awhile mixing
  7. When completely mixed turn out dough onto 3 pieces of saran wrap
  8. Fold up in saran wrap and shape dough into disks, chill at least 2 hrs. – overnight
  9. You can also freeze at this point for a later date
  10. Take dough out and cut into 1″ pieces
  11. Roll each of the pieces into balls
  12. As you shape the dough into balls place them into a bowl full of confectioners sugar and roll around to completely coat
  13. After the balls are coated place them onto cookie sheet 2″ apart
  14. You will need to periodically rinse you hands to remove the dough accumulating on them
  15. NOTE: The dough rolls into balls the easiest when your hands are rinsed and a little damp
  16. Bake for 8 minutes on 350º
  17. Remove and let cool on the cookie tray for 5 minutes before you transfer the cookies to a cooling rack
  18. Let cool completely before to stacking on serving plate

 

Gourmet Caesar Salad

Gourmet Caesar Salad

Caesar salads are probably one of my favorite salads of all time. So many wonderful flavors and textures in this combination from the crunchy garlic croutons (shown below) to the sharpness of the Reggiano Parmesano shaved on top. Then there’s a creaminess with the grated Parmesan and dijon in the actual dressing itself and a tang from the lemon and Dijon. Let’s not forget about that savory flavor in the undertones that you just can’t put your finger on with the anchovy paste and Worcestershire sauce. This Caesar salad is a winner all around!

You will really like how perfectly simple this recipe is and how you can totally make the croutons ahead of time, even weeks ahead. One of the reasons I love this recipe is the make ahead concept which makes our busy lives more enjoyable. You can make my homemade garlic croutons weeks ahead and keep them fresh in a Ziploc baggie in the freezer. Then make my gourmet Caesar salad dressing the morning of your event  storing it in a container in the refrigerator until needed. Last but not least the romaine, which you can clean and cut up the night before storing that in a Ziploc baggie while taking the air out ensuring the freshness as I show you in my VIDEO. Cutting up the romaine into 1/2″ strips is key to serving this at a party or picnic making it easy to eat  and eliminating the need for unnecessary utensils.

Now there’s the whole dilemma on whether or not to use a raw egg yolk. If I am having a small group of foodie friends over I would definitely add in a raw egg yolk to my Caesar salad dressing because it makes it that much more decadent. If you have never tried it with a farm fresh or organic egg yolk yet you should definitely treat yourself! When I do use an egg yolk I drizzle in the full half cup of olive oil and also add in an extra tablespoon or two of rice wine vinegar and lemon juice . Adding in a tablespoon extra of each will give it a nice balance. It’s basically to get the desired thickness you want because that added yolk offers up an extra thick and creaminess to the dressing this way you thin it out a pinch. For the most part when I make this gourmet Caesar salad for parties and picnics where I’m not sure if there will be someone there with an allergy I play it safe and omit the raw egg. And NO, I am not worried about salmonella with the raw egg because I only use farm fresh eggs directly from the farm or organic brown eggs from the food market. The ONLY time I would buy bulk white eggs from the store is when we are boiling and dyeing eggs for a holiday like Easter. You have to be picky about your ingredients, even the eggs are very important.

A large shallow dish like the one I have in the photos and in my video show is a great investment for salads like this. I have found many gorgeous platters and bowls like this at very economical prices at stores like Home Goods and TJ Max…you should definitely check out those deals! When I have many friends over for dinner I often serve the Caesar salad in that large shallow bowl and if it’s a more intimate dinner party I even plate up individual size portions which also make for a pretty presentation. 

Not only can this bold full flavored salad hold up on its own as an appetizer but you can certainly pear it up with some crab cakeslazy mans lasagna, lobster mac & cheese, or some pulled beef taco’s and ending with chocolate eclairs would just put it over the top!

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CAESAR SALAD DRESSING 

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CAESAR SALAD DRESSING RECIPE:

  • 1 large/2 medium cloves of garlic put thru garlic press
  • 1 egg yolk farm fresh or organic brown eggs ONLY – EGG YOLK OPTIONAL
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon – Grey Poupon or Maille
  • 1 Tsp anchovie paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fine blk pepper
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar “seasoned” (this comes original or seasoned …I prefer seasoned)
  • between 1/3 – 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 2 good dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I use Siracha in this recipe)

DIRECTIONS for the CAESAR DRESSING:

  1. In a medium bowl add garlic thru press, anchovie paste, salt, pepper and Dijon
  2. Mash these items together with  the back of a spoon to combine and form a paste in a wooden bowl
  3. Transfer paste to a large glass bowl
  4. Add in 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, dash of Siracha and rice wine vinegar/ lemon juice mixture
  5. Separate egg yolk from white and add to glass bowl (EGG YOLK OPTIONAL) and whisk immediately
  6. Then very slowly whisk in olive oil so it emulsifies JUST DRIZZLE IN DROPS AT A TIME or IT WILL NOT EMULSIFY and you will have to start over
  7. NOTE: Adding in the egg yolk makes it super easy to emulsify the dressing
  8. Lastly, whisk in 1/3 grated Reggiano Parmesan
  9. Put the dressing into a canning jar for ease and pop it into the frig til you are ready to use
  10. Be sure to take out 30 minutes before you use the dressing so it can come to room temperature
  11. Will be good for a few days in the frig

DIRECTIONS- for Assembling the Caesar Salad:

  1. Cut ends off of romaine hearts then cut them in half length wise
  2. Wash and spin leaves
  3. Lay the leaves down on paper towels to catch any additional moisture
  4. Put 3 or 4 pieces at a time layered on top of one another and slice into 1/2″ strips which make it ideal for a party so there no need for a knife
  5. Here you can put the cut romaine pieces into large freezer Ziploc baggies and into the frig til you are ready to assemble the Caesar salad OR
  6. Put into a large shallow bowl, add dressing, and toss
  7. Top with shredded Parmesan and Italian garlic croutons (shown below) and mangia-mangia!

Garlic Croutons

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INGREDIENTS FOR GARLIC CROUTONS: Makes 12 -13 cups of Croutons – 1 Ex-Lg Ziploc Freezer Baggie of Croutons:

  • 1- 1 1/2  large loafs of good Italian bead (14-15 cups croutons-use 1/2 stick butter and 3 tbsp olive oil if you have 10 cup of bread cubes)
    • 4 large garlic cloves put thru garlic press
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 3/4 stick butter (salted) melted
    • 4 tsp garlic granules (not powder) – Sprinkle 2 tsp per cookie tray
    • 1 tsp salt
    • A couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce Siracha -you can find this with the other hot sauces at the super market
    • 2 cookie trays

DIRECTIONS FOR GARLIC CROUTONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400º
  2. Slice bread into 3/4″ slices length wise
  3. Then slice into 3/4″ squares, you don’t want them to be perfect – that’s what’s lovely about hand made croutons they don’t look like they came from a box
  4. Melt 3/4 stick of butter
  5. In a large mixing bowl add 1/4 cup olive oil, 3/4 stick melted butter, 4 garlic cloves thru garlic press, 1 Tsp salt, and whisk  to mix
  6. Divide this mixture into two and pour onto the 2 cookie trays spreading them evenly all over the tray
  7. Divide up Italian bread cubes into 2 and put onto the 2 cookie trays right on the olive oil mixture
  8. Stir the cut up bread cubes all around the cookie tray to evenly coat and soak up all of the olive oil mixture. I use a pastry scraper (see photo) to do this…a tool which I use a lot!
  9. NOW sprinkle 2 Tsp of garlic granules on each of the cookie trays filled with Italian garlic croutons
  10. Put into the oven for 12 minutes til golden
  11. IMPORTANT – they go quickly at the end so you really need to watch them so they don’t burn
  12. Let the Italian garlic croutons cool before putting them into a Freezer Ziploc baggie
  13. I usually keep them on the counter for a few days then throw them into the freezer to store and keep fresh