Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cheesy Tomato Sauce

You know when you the cooking gods are smiling and you make something really really tasty? Well this pasta sauce was created on one of those lucky cooking days. It is a simple semi-homemade sauce recipe for when you need to make dinner with limited ingredients!

Cheesy Tomato Sauce
makes 4-8 servings

1 lb ground turkey
1 onion, diced
2 big cloves of garlic, minced
1 Thai chili pepper, small mince
3 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp dried or freshly chopped basil, oregano
1 jar of pasta sauce (I used tomato basil)/Canned no flavor tomato sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oil in large frying pan. Saute onion, garlic, and pepper together. Once starting to soften add the meat. Season with the worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook meat until done. Add spices and tomato sauce and let it simmer until you are ready to eat. If you want to make it cheesy, stir in the mozzarella until it is combined and melted. Let it simmer for another 10 (ish) minutes then serve over pasta!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mom's Best Banana Bread

I forgot to take a picture, luckily my
godmother sent me a picture of her banana
bread bites! This batch was made
with cashews.
Here is an original family recipe which as been passed down for generations! Well, at least one generation. This is mom's incredible banana bread recipe. The recipe below is even formatted and worded the same as how she sent it to me!

This is a hearty, moist, and dense quick bread which means there is no waiting for dough to rise or needing to proof yeast or do anything funky.  Just mix up ingredients, pour into pans, and bake it!

I also learned that banana bread ships easily if you need to mail it anywhere.

Note #1: What does "Prepared and floured" mean? Prepared and floured pans means spray your pans of choice with non-stick spray, then add a tsp or tbsp of flour into it. Tap the pan until the flour coats the edges, corners, and bottom of the pan. This helps the removal process and you really shouldn't skip this step. 

Note #2: How many cups is 4 bananas? Honestly, I have no idea. I made it with about 2 cups of mashed up bananas which was 3 really big bananas. Be sure to mash them really well otherwise the little banana lumps will burst and create a burned mess on the edges of your muffin pan or bottom of the oven.

Note #3: Double this recipe. Seriously, it is awesome and will be eaten far too quickly.

Possible changes that I have done in the past? Add chocolate chips and swap using walnuts or cashews.

Storing the bread is easy, leave it out on the counter over night to let it cool completely before sealing it up into an air tight container. You can leave it at room temperature. I'm not sure how it will stay fresh for because I've never had it any bread left after 3 days.

Update 1/11/2015 - I subbed almond milk for regular milk. This didn't change the texture of the bread itself but it did change the crisp of the outside of the bread. Normally banana bread has that almost caramelized crunchy crust. The almond milk gave the bread a softer crust, similar to the inside of the bread. Bananas - I had frozen bananas that were going to start go bad. Peel them before freezing. To use them I let them defrost on the counter then when they were getting soft I pureed them in the food processor.For this try I used both walnuts and chocolate chips. I baked it in a 9x9 glass pan for 35 minutes. Yummy!

Banana Bread Recipe
By My Mother

yields: 3 mini loaves (40-45 minutes) OR18 mini muffins (12 minutes) and 2 mini loaves OR a large loaf (45 minutes)

1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup white + 1/2 cup brown)
1 stick of butter, soft-room temp
2 eggs
¼ c. sour milk (1/4 c. milk + 1 tsp. vinegar) or buttermilk
2 c. flour*
¼ tsp. salt*
½ tsp. baking soda*
1 tsp. baking powder*
4 ripe bananas – well mashed, approx 2 cups
½ -1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
½ -1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F and prepared pans with oil and flour
Cream sugar and butter
Add eggs and blend well
Add sour milk
Add * ingredients on low in mixer
Add bananas and nuts
Pour batter into prepared pans 2/3 deep
Bake until when you test the cake with a toothpick it comes out clean

Friday, August 16, 2013

Crustless Broccoli and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche

I was going to contribute to a work brunch! My original plan was to make cinnamon rolls, however I soon realized I had no flour, no vanilla, and no butter. I needed a new plan (and to go grocery shopping!). I also figured a better option would to bring something savory since I knew there would be bagels and other tasty but not as healthy options. Eggs are a great protein hearty meal!

Since I procrastinated, it was late and I didn't have time to run to the store for additional ingredients. I researched many different quiche recipes and combinations and this was the brain child!

I assembled this and cooked it before going into work. It took about 10 minutes to cook the veggies, while they were cooking I made the eggs.  It takes about 40 minutes to cook and I was able to get ready during that time! I transported this to work in a 9x13 glass baking dish lined with towels to keep it warm and so I didn't burn myself.

We ate this too fast for me to remember to take a picture. But try it! You won't regret it!

Here are some quiche tips: you make a quiche with crust, be sure you pre-cook the crust or you might have some soggy not quite cooked bits of dough at the bottom. Or you can put the crust on top which my mother does! This ensures it stays nice and crispy. Bacon is another funny issue, if you bake it in the quiche it gets soggy.

Happy eating!

Crustless Broccoli and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche
Serves 6-8

7 eggs (used only 3-4 of the yolks)
1/4 cup Ricotta cheese
Approx 1/2 -3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4-1/2 cup milk
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, rough chopped (seasoned w/ garlic and oregano)
Splash of water
Salt/Pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp dried oregano/basil/thyme

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a pie plate.

Saute the broccoli and tomatoes in the tomato oil with salt and pepper and herbs. Add a splash of water to the frying pan if it seems to dry. Cook until broccoli is tender/firm.

Meanwhile, scramble the eggs and combine in the cheeses and milk.

Pour out the broccoli and tomatoes into pie plate. Pour eggs over the top. Put in oven at 350F for 35-40 minutes. If you cook it at 375F it will be more golden on the top.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

THE No-Rise Pizza Crust

Mozzerella and Parmesean pizza topped
with fresh oregano and basil
Photo credit of Kelcey =)
I found it! I found it! This is the go to no rise pizza crust recipe compared to my previous pizza dough attempt. The basis of this dough is found on all recipes. Combine the ingredients, top with your favorite toppings, and bake! Two exciting aspects of this recipe? Using yeast and using the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid mixer!

According to a few of the reviewers, if you proof the yeast in the water with the sugar before adding it to dry ingredients it will be a thicker chewy crust. If you combine all the dry and then add the wet ingredients the dough will be thinner and crispier.

I have made it two times (so far!).

The first time I added to the dough 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 heaping tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp of dried herbs. I also used 2 cups white flour and 1 cup whole wheat. I proofed the yeast prior to mixing it into the dry ingredients but did not let the dough rise. I cooked it for 20 minutes at 350F. This was a soft and doughy pizza crust recipe.

The second time I prepared the dough following the recipe below (no herbs/garlic/cheese, and all white flour) and cooked it for 20 minutes at 420F, I liked the slightly crispy dough better when cooked at the higher temperature.

Next time I will try 450F and see how that comes out. I also would like to try this on a pizza stone/tray to see if that will help the bottom crisp up better too.

Very easy to double the recipe, make bread sticks out of, or add herbs too.

Happy eating!

Update 4/16/2014: Preheat oven to 500F with cast iron griddle. Cook pizza on the pan for 10-15 minutes. When I cook over 500 the smoke detector goes off.

Recipe Idea: Pulled Pork Pizza using the North Carolina Influenced Pulled Pork. Roll out dough. Cover dough with a thin layer of olive oil and minced garlic. Add a layer of sliced red onion, pulled pork, cheese, fresh cilantro, and a drizzle of bbq sauce.

THE No-Rise Pizza Crust
makes one medium size pizza

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

In a small bowl combine warm water and yeast. Let this sit together for a few minutes. Meanwhile combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add oil. Add water/yeast mix. Roll out then use your toppings of choice!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Authentically Based Ma Po Tofu

Wow its good to be back! I have been caught up with so much summertime that I haven't had time to work much on sharing my tasty recipes! I also have a broken laptop screen so I'm chained to a desk and spare monitor which makes it a little less convenient for writing. But I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and here is a little taste of home!

While most people claim their recipe is authentic, this Ma Po Tofu recipe comes right from the lips of one of my aunts. She cooks as authentic as they come, in fact, she often has to make her food less spicy for my poor Americanized taste buds!

This stir fry dish can be chopped, cooked, and on the table in 30 minutes or less. Make sure you chop everything up before starting to cook!

Some differences: She uses soft tofu, I used firm since I couldn't find soft. Soft tofu has a very different texture and will fall apart easily if you don't stir gently. Personally, I like soft tofu better then extra firm. She also uses ground pork while I used ground turkey. I have no real reason for that, I just tend to use ground turkey as my meat of choice.

The measurements for the "sauce" type ingredients are estimated, I just pour into the meat and guess each time.  You may have never used sesame oil, I highly recommend it, you will never be able to stir fry again without it!

I add broccoli or green beans, but that isn't very authentic.

Happy eating!

Ma Po Tofu
serves 4

1 lb Ground turkey or pork
1 big clove Garlic, minced
1 - 2 tbsp Garlic Chili sauce
1 - 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sesame oil
Combine 1/4 cup water, 1 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp each minced Cilantro, sliced green onions

Cook the meat until almost done. Add garlic, hot sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and combine. Cook about 2 minutes.
Add broccoli, cook until just about tender.
Add tofu and carefully stir.
Add water/corn starch mix and stir until thickened.
Top with Cilantro and green onion. Serve hot and over rice.