A look at today’s accomplishments…

goodies for B and the kidsChocolate chip cookie bars are cooling…

Dutch oven chickenDutch oven chicken cooling…

pizza dough prebakingPizza¬†pre-baking…

I like to pre-bake the pizza dough. Barry likes his pizza well done. This way the dough has a chance to bake some and when I put the toppings on and put it back in, the dough finishes and the toppings cook beautifully, but don’t burn. Also, I now have the dough ready so when Barry comes in I can add the toppings and dinner is ready in a jiffy! On long, cold days, this is a brilliant plan.

Barry likes sauce, cheese, and PEPPERONI, but there are so many great toppings and combinations. And if you want the lighter fair, try that cauliflower pizza crust… so good.

Ok, I am back to the kitchen. Time to get ready to ENJOY! ūüėÄ

 

Easiest Bread Recipe Ever – Period

Last night’s beef lentil soup was a huge hit. After a long day, Barry came home hungry and enjoyed every bite. There is more than plenty for dinner again tonight and then I will freeze the rest for planned leftovers.¬†I confess I did relent and put potatoes in Barry’s. I took a smaller pot, boiled up the taters and added soup in. This way the rest can be frozen. Potatoes don’t freeze well.

I was going to run to the market and get bread, but then I decided to make it myself! I found a recipe that I believe was originally attribted to the NY Times. I cannot confirm but wish to give credit where it is due. This is the OMG-EASIEST-BREAD-RECIPE-EVER!!!

You need:

  • 1 packet yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 5-7 cups flour (I ended up using 5)

instructions:

  • Put yeast in warm water – not HOT just WARM or you will kill the little active yeasty guys!
  • Mix the salt into 3 cups of flour
  • When your yeast is dissolved, combine the two and mix well
  • Continue to add flour until the dough is not wet – I used about 5 cups
  • Now the dough needs to be kneaded … put on a floured surface and go at it
  • I split the dough into two loaves … put in greased loaf pans.
  • Cover with plastic wrap or a towel.
  • Allow to rise 30-60 minutes, depending on how warm the room is.
  • Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. I checked at 12 minutes and did a quick egg wash to make the top brown and pretty.

To know it is done, you can actually tap the top and it will sound hollow. You can also use a thermometer into the center which should be 190-210.

Fresh bread

So yummy! And Barry loves bread to dip in soup. I sliced and warmed some for a perfect winter, yucky day dinner!

OH SO YUMMY

Sliced for eating

Barry’s lunch today has a ham and cheese sammie with this lovely bread too. Give t a try. You really can’t mess this one up! You can freeform it on a regular pan too. You really don’t have to make it in loaf pans!

ENJOY!!!

Beef lentil soup

Finally, Barry will get that lentil soup he is “hankerin” for! I tried – unsuccessfully – to convince him that lentils and ham are a better match, but he would not be dissuaded. So here we go….

soup!

For this recipe you need:

  • beef – your choice ground or cubed, I used cubed beef
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed well
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 bay leaves

I began with the beef. Brown it in oil and season with salt and pepper. I also used some garlic powder for flavor, but that is optional. Remove the beef and drain on a paper towel. Remove the drippings from the pot in this case.

Now, this is the simple and amazing thing…. add the beef back to the pot and then add the can of crushed tomatoes, the water, dried lentils, carrots, celery, onion, diced peppers, salt, pepper, and the 2 bay leaves.¬†Stir and bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. Check the vegetables, and check for flavor.

Seriously.

So there are certainly a bazillion variations. You might add thyme. Or beef bouillion. I saw recipes with frozen chopped spinach. I also saw cabbage. None of these options would please Barry’s palate. You will make soup to please yours. So taste a little, then if you wish, add a little more!

Barry wanted potatoes in this too. Lentils and beef are hearty enough so I will likely disappoint him in that. But there will be toasty bread to dip and that will make him happy.

Next venture is the cauliflower pizza crust…. what is going on in your kitchen!?!??! Whatever it is…. enjoy!

 

***Author’s note: If you decide to expand the pot of soup by adding liquid, make sure to taste and add flavor too…so if you decide to add water, consider beef bouillion as well. Remember to taste!! ūüėČ
ENJOY!!!

Food is Love ~ The Ultimate Comfort Food Dinner!

Last night I made a dinner that was a knock out! I started to make Barry the keeper chicken noodle soup that he loves but I had an urge to change it up. So dinner became Chicken Pot Pie Soup. Now I didn’t make a pie crust top but the soup seemed to need a pie crust somewhere. I had seen a soup recipe that suggested actually baking a pie crust and braking it into pieces (like¬†crackers) to actually put into the soup when serving. Then I saw a savory tart idea. And as I always do, I changed the recipe and made it my own.

So let me talk about the tart. It was oh-so-yummy!! When Barry asked me what a savory tart would be like, I said, “Remember the rustic apple pie? Well, take out the apple filling and put in cheese, potato, and caramelized onions.” YUM!!!!

So here is my Savory Potato and Onion Tart.

Ingredients:

  • pie crust
  • fontina cheese
  • one potato
  • one onion, caramelized beautifully!

I am not a baker. I am not afraid to admit that and when I need a pie crust, I buy the ready made Pillsbury crusts. So for this savory tart I did that. Take out one crust and unroll it. To make the tart cook properly, place it on parchment paper on your sheet pan. Shred about 4 oz. of cheese in the middle to make a lovely bed. I always reach for fontina, but there are other cheeses (really!?) so add your favorite, but stick to mild, soft, and gentle cheese. Take one potato and slice it very thin. Make it a small potato because once you slice it thin you really don’t need a lot! Cover the cheese with the slices. Over all of that, add the lovely caramelized onions.
   

When you have nicely tucked the crust around the bed of flavor, put it into a preheated 375 degree oven. It needs 30 – 35 minutes. I will say again… no two ovens are exactly the same. I checked mine in 30 minutes and decided it need more time to get golden brown. I added another 8 minutes to¬†the timer. It was perfect!

Now for the Chicken Pot Pie Soup:

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 boxes chicken stock
  • 1-1/2 chicken breasts, diced ~ I used a rotisserie chicken this time, it was on sale
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • salt & pepper¬†~ to taste
  • roux: made from 2 tbsp butter/2 tbsp flour/1 cup cream

I began the soup the way I would any chicken soup. Put a few turns of olive oil around the soup pan over medium high heat. Add the diced carrot, onion, celery, and (this time) potatoes. Salt the veggies to flavor them and to help them begin to soften. Cook the veggies until they are soft and the¬†onions¬†translucent. Add the stock, peas, parsley, oregano and additional salt and pepper. A small pinch of pepper and a healthy pinch of salt to begin. Stir and taste a little… if you need to add a little you can, but you can’t take it out!

Turn up the heat and bring this to a boil. Reduce to simmer and add the diced chicken. Simmer at least 20 minutes. While you are waiting for the soup to simmer, make the roux. (I actually timed things so that the tart was in the oven at this time too.)

A roux is simple: Put even parts flour and butter in a saucepan. On medium heat, melt the butter into the flour. Add the cream. You can use milk for a roux, but in this case I wanted the extra creaminess. Now add a pinch of salt and a little pepper. I add a pinch of paprika and a pinch of nutmeg any time I make a roux. Whisk this until thick and smooth. I needed to add a little water to thin it just slightly, so adjust as you need to.

The roux should go into the soup when it is done. I don’t recommend pouring it all in at once, but putting it in slowly and stirring it in well. You are looking for a consistency that is creamier than soup, but not as thick as stew. I already decided that I would make Chicken Pot Pies in the near future. The recipe will be nearly the same!

Well, dinner was a success. And we have planned leftovers for tonight’s dinner. We will look forward to this meal again. The soup was scrumptious and the tart amazing. It was hard not to eat too much! I highly recommend this warm and comforting meal. More importantly, Barry does! The tart alone would be filling enough for dinner!

Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

Flavor Seeker ~ Buttery Marinara!

I ran into a dear friend last night. She is a dedicated and amazing teacher. I know, because I worked with her as a student teacher and I was and continue to be incredibly proud of what she does every day! Jen is a teacher of special needs kids. There is no nobler pursuit. And last night I ran into her in a local restaurant. . . and she shared the frustrations of her day.

At the end of the conversation I promised her a couple of things. One, I will help her any way I can to teach healthier eating to her class. And two, she was curious about my idea for a marinara sauce she might be able to eat. Jen has trouble with the acidity of marinara so she eats Alfredo sauce. Well, that is delicious, but also high in carbs and fat. At the end of the encounter I promised that my post today would be for her!

So this is for Jen…¬†Buttery Marinara Sauce

You need:

  • 1 large (16 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large yellow or white onion
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic cloves
  • 5-6 ¬†tbsp butter
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • agave ~ optional

Really, that is it. Put your crushed tomatoes in a saucepan. Add the onion … and do not feel the need to chop. Peel the onion, cut it in half and throw the whole thing in the pot. Peel a clove or two of garlic (How much garlic do you like? I used 3.) into the pan¬†and¬†then add 5 -6 tbsp of butter. Put the saucepan over medium heat. Babysit this for the first 5 minutes. You will see the butter melt and begin to smell the onion and garlic adding their goodness to the sauce.

Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to stir occasionally. Check it again at least every 5 minutes. It should take about 30 minutes. You will want to taste a little and add the salt and pepper. My friend will NOT want to add pepper as this may be abrasive to her belly. And she MAY wish to add some agave for sweetness and to cut the acidity.

Remove the garlic cloves and the onion halves. They have done their work.

Give the sauce a stir. And then taste a little. Make sure, as always, that the dish tastes good to you! This sauce is ready to go. Mine is going to be put away as a planned leftover. It will go over pasta and vegetables later.

Try this simple, tasty, and buttery sauce! And as always, enjoy!