Saturday, February 28, 2015

Italian Bread

I found this recipe on AllRecipes. I didn't wait for the water to get hot enough for the yeast so the bread didn't rise as well and we ended up with a flat loaf of bread. Still very tasty but my Dutch Oven Bread Recipe came out better and was less "touchy". Italian bread needs a bit more attention. It also would have improved if I added some Italian herb seasoning or garlic into the bread dough.

Italian Bread
Makes 3 loaves

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
7 cups all-purpose flour

Add the sugar and yeast to the warm water and let proof.
Stir in 4 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Beat in the salt and then add enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Knead until as soft and smooth as a bambino's behind. Turn in a greased bowl, cover, and let double in size. (I put it in the oven with the light on - perfect rising temperature.)
Once doubled, punch down and divide into three. Place back in the bowl, cover, and let rise.
Once doubled again, punch down and form into three fat "footballs." Grease heavy cookie sheets and sprinkle with corn meal. Place the bread on the sheets, cover with a towel, and let rise.

Once risen, mist with water and place in a preheated 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) oven. Mist loaves with water and turn occasionally while they bake. Bread is done when golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Meat Lasagna

I found this Lasagna recipe on AllRecipes. I made a couple tweaks but nothing major. I omit the parsley and used oregano instead of basil. I used spicy sausage and ground turkey. I reduced the sugar from 2 tbsp to 1 tbsp and I think the sauce was still very sweet. Next time I will omit the sugar completely and add some red pepper flakes.

Served with my Italian Bread recipe!

Update 9/2015: I've made it again, yummy! I will say it is better if you keep it covered while cooking for almost the entire time as it doesn't dry out as much. Instead of making one large pan I split it into two 9x9 pans and froze the other. To reheat - defrost overnight in the fridge and bake covered for 1-2 hours.

Meat Lasagna
Makes a heaping 9 x 13 baking dish

1 pound Italian sausage (sweet or spicy)
3/4 pound lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves (or oregano)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1 box lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned.

Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange noodles over meat sauce. Spread with one third of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with handful of the mozzarella. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella and repeat the layers.

Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia

Continuing on the fish meal experiments. This recipe is from Martha Stewart.

It was tasty but very heavy and made a bit more of a mess than I wanted to deal with. I also think it would be better if I had made some veggies to go with it. I forgot to separate the thick part from the thin part of the fish so the edges were a bit overcooked so that the middle part would be cooked.

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia
serves 4

1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons paprika
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 (6 to 8 ounces each) skinless tilapia fillets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup prepared tomato salsa

In a shallow dish, combine cornmeal and paprika; season generously with salt and pepper. 
Separate fillets into thick and thin sides. 
Dredge each piece in cornmeal mixture, patting it on to coat completely.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. 
Cook as many pieces as will fit (without crowding) until golden brown and firm, about 2 minutes per side for thin pieces and 4 minutes per side for thick ones. 
Transfer to a plate; sprinkle with salt, if desired, and cover loosely to keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and fish. Serve with salsa.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Steamed Fish with Soy Sauce, Ginger, and Scallion

Happy Lunar New Year! I used the Steamed Fish with Scallion-Ginger-Soy Sauce recipe from Nomnomcat. What a taste of home! My mom and my grandmother used to make this for the family.

The only change from the recipe is that I omitted the sugar.

At banquets this is an entire steamed fish, not just the fillet. But you can make this with fish fillets and it can be microwaved! I used the individually frozen tilapia fish fillets.

A fresh healthy dinner in less than 10 minutes! And another perk? This recipe pretty much creates NO dishes. Seriously, for dishes I had: a rice pot and lid, a pie plate, a plate, scissors (from the scallion, cilantro, and opening the fish packets), a knife from cutting the ginger, and chop sticks.

If you don't have a rice cooker, here are straight forward white rice directions that I wrote up a while back!

Fish in the soy sauce with ginger on top

Noonk! This is the rice at the bottom of the rice pot that gets crispy.
Take the rest of the rice out of the pot and leave a thin layer.
While you are eating put the rice pot on low and let the bottom cook.
Pry it out of the pot and put some butter and salt on it and enjoy!

Steamed Fish with Soy Sauce, Ginger, and Scallion
serves 1-2 people

White rice, cooked
2 fish fillets, tilapia, defrosted
2 green onion stems, sliced
3 stems of cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp fresh ginger or 1/4 inch of fresh ginger in chunks

In a glass Pyrex pie plate combine soy sauce, sesame oil, cold water. Mix to combine.
Toss the fish in the mix to coat.
Put the ginger on top of the fish.
Cover with saran wrap tightly.
Cook for 5 minutes, until fish is opaque and flaking.
Carefully remove the saran wrap.
Put rice on the plate, top with fish and garnish with green onion and cilantro. Then pour the sauce from the pan onto the fish and rice.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pennsylvania Activities

Roundtop - Sledding, Lewisberry, PA
We have gone here the past two years (2014 and 2015) What fun! We get the full day pass and arrive about 15 minutes before they open. This means we have been to the bathroom and are in our gear and ready to go the second the magic carpet starts! We are able to get about 15 runs in before it gets crowded. Around 1 it starts to get a lot busier and can take about 20 minutes a run.

There is a small hill for those under 5 years old but I wouldn't pay to do that... you can probably find a similar hill in your neighborhood.

The lodge has bathrooms and the lodge is separate from the ski lodge. You can purchase food and drinks and there are tables that you eat at. We bring our food and hot chocolate because it is typical expensive lodge fast food.

Philadelphia, PA - Check out my post from our weekend trip in January 2014!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Peanut Noodles

I have never tried any of Melissa d'Arabian's recipes because I wasn't a fan of her show (Ten Dollar Dinners or her cooking on Food Network Star). But this recipe is great and I think I'll try some more of her recipes later on. This is her Peanut Noodle recipe which was delish! I will be making this again. It was very easy and came together in about 25 minutes.

I added chicken to the meal for protein and I increased the peanut dressing to make sure it would cover the additions. Tofu would also work nicely. This could be a great base to add any veggies wilting in your fridge. I think the sauce would also be good with rice too... but then again I just love peanut butter.


Peanut Noodles
Serves 2 very hungry people

3 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
12 ounces linguine
2 chicken breast

1/2 cup loosely-packed chopped fresh cilantro
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/3 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup roughly chopped skinless roasted peanuts, for garnish

Peanut Dressing:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Sirracha
1 ½ teaspoon sesame oil
Zest and juice of 1/2 lime

Chop and combine salad ingredients, put into a large strainer. 

Heat medium size frying pan. Add a little oil, soy sauce, and sirracha. Stir occasionally and cook until chicken is done (about 8 minutes). Set aside.

Put the peanut butter in a medium size glass bowl. Microwave about 15 seconds to soften. Whisk in with the soy sauce, vinegar, canola oil, ginger, honey, Sirracha, sesame oil and lime zest and juice in a small bowl.Thin with the starchy pasta water if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time. (Dressing should be thick, but pourable.) 

Toast sesame seeds in a frying pan until light golden in color, 4 to 6 minutes, and set aside. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Pour the pasta over the salad in the strainer. The hot water will soften the veggies. Put back into the pasta pot. Pour the peanut dressing over the pasta and veggies, combine.

Top with the chopped peanuts and toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Honey and Soy Tilapia

Here is a new fish recipe from All Recipes! This was about 5 minutes of prep and 20 minutes of baking! I marinated the meat for about an hour and thirty minutes because I was finishing up some things around the house.

Would I make it again? Maybe. This has all the ingredients that I normally have laying around the house. I also think this would be a tasty marinade for grilled chicken.

As not everyone likes fish, it was convenient that I could cook chicken in the oven at the same temp and for the same time. There wasn't the feeling of cooking two meals. (I butterflied a chicken breast and marinated it in Wegman's Savory Marinade for the same amount of time as the fish. Then put the chicken in a tin foil lined pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350F) 

Honey and Soy Tilapia
serves 4

3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Olive oil
4 (4 ounce) fillets tilapia

Mix the honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and garlic together in a bowl. Place the tilapia fillets in the mixture; allow to marinate in refrigerator at least 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 350F. Prepare a glass baking dish with a layer of tin foil and a healthy drizzle of olive oil

Remove tilapia from marinade, and pour in some (or all) of the marinade. Place fillets into the prepared baking sheet, and sprinkle the black pepper over the fish.

Bake in the preheated oven until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes.