Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Remembrance

This Memorial Day, remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Remember also the families of these brave heroes. There have been so many in the history of the United States. God Bless our military men and women who are serving all over the world.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


A few weeks ago I found this pizza recipe, by Bobby Flay, in the Parade Magazine, which is included in an area Sunday newspaper. I've been wanting to try it and finally made it last night. We loved it, of course. The dough was so easy to make and to work with. It was a breeze to shape. I wanted to twirl it and toss it in the air, but I know my limits! I love the commercial on TV showing a chef tossing the dough quickly into the air, retrieving it and twirling again. Such fun that would be. But alas, I am no pizza chef. I can only use a rolling pin. If you have not tried making pizza from scratch, this would be a great recipe to try.

You can use all purpose flour for a chewy crust, or bread flour for a crisp crust. I used the AP as that's all I had on hand. We all though the crust was great, but next time I'll try the bread flour for a comparison. The sauce, of which I didn't get a picture, was delicious. The recipe calls for canned plum tomatoes, but I used regular tomatoes that I had in the pantry. This wonderful pizza was baked on a pizza stone. I don't have a pizza wheel to transfer pizzas to the oven, so here's what I did. After rolling out the pizza dough, transfer it to a sheet of parchment paper.

Take the paper and crust and lay it on the bottom side of a large baking sheet or flat pizza pan. Reshape the dough and add the sauce and the toppings. Open the oven door and pull out the oven rack just a little. Holding the pan with the pizza close to the pizza stone, take hold of the parchment and slide the paper with the pizza onto the stone. It works!

My daughter prefers Italian Sausage and Red Onion Pizza, and not too heavy on the toppings. My husband, on the other hand, likes more meat. So I made one with sausage, Canadian bacon and pepperoni. I just like it all. This is now my go to pizza recipe. If you don't have one yet, give this a try! It is easy to make.

PIZZA (adapted from Bobby Flay)

makes 2 pizzas
3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour-bread flour for a crisp crust, or all purpose for a chewy crust

1 teaspoon sugar

1 envelope instant dry yeast

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 cups warm water (11o degrees)

2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

1. The recipe calls for the dough to be processed in a food processor, but I don't have one. So in a bowl add the flour, salt sugar, dry yeast and whisk,. Stir in the water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and dough should form a ball. If too sticky add 1 T. of flour at a time. Or if it is too dry, add 1 T. of water. Stir until it comes together in a solid ball. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough until it is a smooth ball.
2. Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, add dough and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot and let rise until double, about 1 hour. Place dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide in half equally. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest 10 minutes.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

pinch of red chili flakes

1 28 ounce can of plum tomatoes, with juices, pureed- I use regular whole tomatoes, pureed in the blender

2 tablespoons fresh basil - or 2 teaspoons dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dry oregano- my addition

1 teaspoon sugar, my addition

salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, 20-25 minutes. Stir in basil and oregano; season with salt and pepper. Can be made a day ahead.

Assemble pizzas:
1. Heat oven to 500 degrees, with a 16 inch pizza stone on the bottom rack. Heat for about 30 minutes.
2. Place 1 round of dough on a floured surface and roll into a 14 inch circle. Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper. Transfer paper and dough to a flat baking pan. 3. Spread 3/4 cup of pizza sauce over dough, leaving 1/2 inch border around the edges. Add toppings of choice. I used very tradition toppings this time. I used 6-7 ounces of freshly grated mozzarella cheese to each pizza. Then I added the meat and other topping. Open oven door, and holding pan close to the pizza stone, slide the parchment paper and pizza onto the very hot stone. Bake until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly, 10 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired. Repeat process with other piece of dough. Cool 5 minutes, slice. Enjoy! Can't wait to try other variations of pizza using this recipe!
What's your favorite pizza toppings?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Easy Tuna Casserole (a no-soup version!)

Sometimes when the weather is cool and rainy, I crave an old fashioned casserole to eat. My Mother-in-law used to make a wonderful Tuna Casserole, but I really haven't tried to make one myself too often. You see, my husband won't eat it-he doesn't care for canned tuna. But, the other day it sounded so good to me that I decided to come up with a Tuna Casserole for my daughter and I for dinner. It turned out wonderful. I did not use creamed soups, but made my own white sauce with a little cheese. This Easy Tuna Casserole was creamy and delicious and I'll definitely be making it again! This recipe is for a small pan and will feed only 2-3 people, so double it to feed more.

from Lynda's Recipe Box

2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup onion, diced
about 4 ounces of sliced mushrooms- I used some leftover from the day before.
1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup milk or half and half
1/2 cup (4 ounces), shredded cheddar cheese
5-6 ounces egg noodles
1 can tuna, drained
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
crushed potato chips for topping

Cook noodles according to package directions.
To make sauce: In a large saucepan melt the butter and saute the onions and mushrooms for a couple of minutes until onions are soft and mushrooms have lost alot of their liquid. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Pour in the chicken broth and whisk while it cooks and thickens. Add the milk or half and half and whisk thoroughly until thickened. If it gets too thick, add a bit more milk. Stir in the cheese, peas, salt and pepper and stir until cheese is melted. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings if needed.
Now gently fold in the noodles and drained tuna, taking care to leave the tuna chunky, if possible. Pour mixture into a buttered 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Top with crushed potato chips, if desired. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until casserole is bubbly. Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pan Fried Sirloin Steak with Mushrooms

Saturday was such a dreary, stormy day here, which was not very agreeable with me wanting to grill outside. I had bought some petite sirloin steaks on sale that day and wanted to try them. Since my husband and I ended up being the only ones here to eat, I pan fried our steaks and made easy sides so there was very little clean up. I'm only sorry that the picture is not very good. My husband was wanting to eat, so I hurriedly took photos, hoping one would be good. They weren't. But the steak was very good.
The steak was delicious, juicy and tender, only seasoned with salt and pepper and a bit of garlic powder. We prefer our steaks rather basic, but I had some mushrooms to use up, so I sauteed them in butter with a bit of fresh thyme and covered the steaks. Yum!

thick sirloin steaks- mine were about an inch thick
olive oil for brushing on steaks
8-10 ounces of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon butter, for mushrooms
fresh thyme
salt, pepper and garlic powder for seasoning

Dry steaks with paper towels, so that meat will sear better. Brush steaks lightly with olive oil. Season them with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy skillet over medium high to high heat. I used my cast iron skillet that is well seasoned. If you're not using a well seasoned pan, you made need to oil your pan with a small amount of oil or butter.
Lay steaks in skillet, not touching. I cooked these about 4 minutes per side and they were very pink in the middle, just right for me. To test for doneness, you can use a meat thermometer. Stick it in the thickest part of the steak for a reading. If you've cooked enough steaks you can tell by touch. If the meat is soft it's rare. If it feels solid, it's probably well done.
Of course you can cut into it too, to see how pink it is.
Rare steak will register 120 - 125 degrees on a meat thermometer. Medium rare-130-135 degrees. Medium is 140- 145 degrees. Medium well is 150-155 degrees. Well done meat will be about 160 degrees, but since meat continues to cook a little after it come off the heat, you really should take it out of the pan early. Also, I think sirloin steak cooked until well done should be marinated, otherwise it tends to be dry and tough. I prefer steak cooked about medium doneness and it's usually tender and juicy at that point.
After removing the steaks from the pan, let them rest a few minutes so the juices can settle.
To cook the mushrooms, add 1 tablespoon of butter to either the same skillet, or another one, and add the sliced mushrooms. Add a pinch of salt and stir them around. As they release their juices, add some fresh thyme if desired and cook until the mushroom juices have evaporated. Serve over steak.
NOTE: Sirloin, New York Strips, T-Bone Steaks  and other better cut of steaks can be pan fried. Cooking times will vary because of size and thickness, and whether or not there is a bone.

I also served Oven Roasted Red Skinned Potatoes, and Oven Roasted Broccoli which I cooked on the same baking sheet. I cooked the potatoes in a 425 degree oven for about 25 minutes, and then added the broccoli and cooked another 10 minutes. Clean up was easy, which made me very happy! Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cornbread Muffins

I think Cornbread Muffins are addictive, or at least these are! They are golden and crusty on the outside, sweet and moist on the inside. Spread with butter, or even honey-butter, these are so tasty! I don't care for cornbread that isn't sweet, but these muffins are just right. This is actually my cornbread recipe, but I decided to make muffins instead. I've made this recipe for a long time and don't really remember where it came from. I get 12 muffins from this recipe, or the cornbread can be baked in a 8x8 inch baking pan, or a cast iron skillet. Delicious! The weather here has been cool the last 2 days with a rainy cold front, so I made these muffins to go with my Hamburger Stew. Here's the recipe.
from Lynda's Recipe Box
Makes 12 muffins or an 8x8 inch pan of corn bread.
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk- I usually use 2%
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray, or line with muffin liners.
In a large bowl, add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk together.
In another bowl add the beaten egg, milk, and the melted butter that has been cooled. Whisk together and add to the dry ingredients. Stir all ingredients together just until combined. Over stirring will result in a tough muffin. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins ( fill to the top), and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean and muffins are golden. (If baking in a baking pan for cornbread, it will need to bake for about 20 minutes.)
These wonderful muffins will be golden and crusty on the outside and tender inside. Enjoy!
NOTE: The original recipe used 1/2 cup of oil, instead of 1/2 cup of butter. Both work!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chicken Piccata (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

I wanted to try making Chicken Piccata the other night. I've had it at a restaurant a couple of times and thought it was very good. It is also a very quick dish to prepare, making it perfect for a week night meal, or a special meal anytime. The chicken breasts I had were very large so I butterflied them and cut them in half. To do this, lay the chicken breasts on a cutting board and cut them in half using a very sharp knife. This will give you 4 servings. If you have small chicken breasts, lay them between sheets of plastic wrap and pound until the meat is an even thickness all over. They won't need to be cut in half if small.
This recipe calls for a lot of butter and olive oil, which I cut down some. I also used less fresh lemon juice than called. Unfortunately I thought this dish was still a bit too tart. Even though this is a restaurant quality dish, this Chicken Piccata was not a hit with my family. It was as good or better than what I've had when eating out. My 22 year old daughter thought the lemon was too harsh. My husband wasn't overly fond of it, saying it was just OK. So even though I liked it, I probably won't make it again. Not if I'm the only one eating!
Here's the recipe. If you try it, let me know how you liked it.
CHICKEN PICCATA (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut in half
sea salt and black pepper
1 cup all purpose flour for dredging- Recipe calls for 2 cups, way too much
4 tablespoons unsalted butter- recipe calls for 6 T.
4 tablespoons olive oil- recipe calls for 5 T.
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice- recipe calls for 1/3 cup
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed well
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 1 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil. when butter and oil sizzles, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn chicken over when golden, and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate. Add 1 more tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet. Add the other 2 chicken pieces and brown as before. Remove these to the plate.
Reduce heat to medium low and add the chicken stock, lemon juice and capers. Bring to a boil and stir, scraping up all the brown bits from the pan for flavor. Check seasoning. I added about 1/4 teaspoon salt and the same for pepper, but it may depend on how much salt is in the chicken stock. Return chicken to skillet and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the sauce in the pan and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley. I platted the chicken over cooked orzo and it soaked up the sauce nicely. I've also had it with garlic mashed potatoes and it was yummy!
Is there a dish you like that the rest of your family doesn't?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

April's Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun!

I love the posts we received for April's Family Recipes. Such a variety of delicious food, and such wonderful memories are shared this month. I enjoy this event so much because the older I get, I realize how so many of my important memories are centered around food. It seems to be the same way for a lot of people as you'll read in these blogs. I hope you'll take time to visit each blog, and maybe you'll think about sharing a recipe and memory in June when Shelby, from the The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch, will host the next Family Recipes event. So, here they are!
Stracciatella (Egg Soup), from the blog, Erbe in Cucina. This yummy soup with herbs, is a traditional Italian soup that will chase away any chill.

Vingret (Russian Beet Salad), from In My Box, is a Russian classic. Gorgeous color, surprising ingredients and great memories of time spent in Russia.

Japanese Cucumber Salad, from Katy at Food for a Hungry Soul. This delicious recipe is from Katy's dear mother.

Gratin of Belgium Endive, from Hidden Glass House. This delicious recipe evokes memories of Ariane's dear Nana. You must read this.

Vegetable Pancakes, from Chaya at Comfy Cook. These pancakes are filled with lots of vegetables. Check it out!

Cabbage - Potato Crepes, from Chaya at My Sweet and Savory. This Passover dish sounds delicious!

Spicy Asian Hakka Noodles (Stir Fry Noodles), are from Fun and Food Cafe. Mansi has been perfecting this recipe for years!

Jam Roly-Poly and Custard from Jan at Range Warfare. This English pudding is a favorite from her childhood school lunches!

Bambi's Peanut Butter Cookies are from Shelby at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch. These yummy, flourless cookies are from her Dad's side of the family.

Nanny's Ginger Molasses Cookies are from The Life and Loves of Grumpy's HoneybuncH, and were posted in March. A soft and yummy cookie. Since we didn't receive any submissions for March, we are posting this with April's submissions.

My Mother's Goulash, from me (Lynda), at Lynda's Recipe Box. my mother made this quick and easy meal on very busy weeknights. My brother and I loved this dish, and so did my children.
I appreciate everyone who submitted recipes for this months Family Recipes. Our Next event will be in June, so get your thinking caps on! Maybe you've got a recipe to share.