Sunday, May 29, 2011

My sweet tooth has been nagging at me all day but honestly I wasn't in the mood to make anything, so I kept putting it off and putting it off until about 30 minutes ago.....I couldn't anymore, I really wanted something sweet, so out came the PB and J Bars.

P B and J Bars

Pretty simple to put together and if your kids or you, like Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches, then you'll really enjoy these.

Just wish there was a recipe to keep the children away from these bars before they inhale them all in 10 minutes.  Yikes!

I made half with strawberry jam and half with my homemade tomato and apple jam.  Yum!

P B and J Bars
P B and J Bars
Credit:  Bisquick

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1 1/2 cups Bisquick mix
1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  In large bowl, beat sugars, peanut butter, shortening and egg with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly.  Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl occasionally.  Stir in Bisquick mix until blended.

P B and J Bars

Place dough on surgace sprinkled with Bisquick mix; 

P B and J Bars

gently roll in Bisquick mix to coat.  Divide dough into 4 parts. 

P B and J Bars

Shape each part into roll 3/4 inch in diameter and about 13 inches long.  On large ungreased cookie sheet, place rolls about 2 inches apart.

P B and J Bars

Make indentation lengthwise in center of each roll with spoon. 

P B and J Bars

Spoon or squeeze jam evenly into indentations.

P B and J Bars

Bake 9 to 11 minutes until light golden brown and set. 

P B and J Bars

Cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes.  Cut each roll into 12 slices.  Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

P B and J Bars

About 4 dozen cookies.

P B and J Bars

1 cookie:  70 calories

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homemade Pizza is often made in my home, usually on Friday night's.  It's one of those things that the kids love to help with, matter of fact they always request individual pizzas that they can put the toppings on themselves.

Usually I will have Pizza sauce at hand but to be honest with you, I don't much care for the store bought sauce, it always seems to be missing something.....there's also those days when I run out of pizza sauce so I always turn to this quick and easy recipe, which I found over at Our Best Bites.

Pizza Sauce

1 6-oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. water (just use the empty tomato paste can)
3 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning
1 Tbsp. sugar or honey (I usually use sugar because it’s easier and hey, I think we’ve established here that if there’s an easy road or a hard road, I usually take the easy road…)
3/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

Empty tomato paste into a bowl and add water a few tablespoons at a time, stirring constantly until combined. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and allow to stand until ready to use. Covers two average-sized pizza; freezes extremely well.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm a huge potato lover, I could survive on potatoes alone, alas, I don't because it wouldn't be very healthy now would it?

When looking for a quick side dish to accompany a steak, chicken or pork chop, I like changing up the usual mashed potatoes or baked potato.

This is a way to do that.  Roasted potato wedges with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.

The result is a crispy potato, nicely browned with a bit of a crunch to it.

Roasted Potato Wedges

Roasted Potato Wedges

Potatoes, quartered  (the amount depends on how many people you're cooking for)
2 teaspoons olive oil
Breadcrumbs with Italian Seasoning (if you only have plain, just add some oregano, garlic, salt and pepper)
Parmesan cheese
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 475 F.

Combine potatoes and oil in a medium bowl, tossing to coat.   Add enough breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, toss to coat.

Roasted Potato Wedges

Place the potatoes on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray;  discard any remaining breadcrumb mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes or until brown and crispy.
 The first time I ever had this sauce was actually in South Africa.

We were over at a friend of the family's home, for a lunch.  There was a barbecue going on and steaks and burgers etc.  I remember when the steaks came out, along came this fragrant and peppery sauce to accompany them.  I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to try it at first, but I love pepper and I love hot stuff so I decided to give it a try.

Wow.  It was so good, I remember going home that night and talking about it with the family, I just couldn't get the sauce out of my mind.

I later talked to the hostess and asked her if she would please tell me how to make the sauce, I was expecting something very intricate and using gourmet ingredients, but I was surprised at how simple it was.

I've been making it ever since.

Pepper Sauce

Pepper Sauce

Small onion, finely chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 can evaporated milk (you can also use heavy cream)

In a small saucepan....add a little bit of olive oil, the onion, salt and pepper and some butter (I eyeball everything, I don't do measurements unless I'm following a recipe for the first time, so just use about 2 tablespoons or so).  Cook over medium heat until onion is cooked. Keep adding little bits of water to prevent it from sticking or drying out.

Pepper Sauce

Once the onion is cooked, check the spices. This is a pepper sauce, my husband likes it pretty hot so I just keep adding crushed peppercorns until he is happy with it. You could certainly make this mild and add only a little bit if your kids don't like spicy stuff.

Cook for a few minutes and then add the can of evaporated milk, mix well.

Pepper Sauce

In a separate little bowl or cup....add about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and a little bit of water and mix well until smooth and free of lumps. Add to the sauce and stir until thickened, remove from the heat.

Pepper Sauce

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I love a good bread stick but it's not always easy to find one that I enjoy.  Some are either too hard or too soft or just not tasty enough for my liking.

Homemade Bread Sticks

One of the bread sticks I do enjoy are the ones they serve at Olive Garden, they seem to have just the right amount of everything.

Truthfully though, we don't go out to eat at restaurants that often and I can say that the last time I was at Olive Garden was about 6 or 7 years ago.  I know, I know, shocking.

If you search online there are quite a few recipes for bread sticks and some even copy cat recipes for major restaurants and fast food places.

But the one I use which we all just love, is the recipe from The Misadventures of Mrs B.  These are phenomenal!

Quick note though.....I think the salt in the basting sauce is a LITTLE too much for my family's liking...if you don't like a lot of salt, just use 1 teaspoon instead of the 2 recommended.

Homemade Bread Sticks

Olive Garden Bread Sticks 
Credit:  The Misadventures of Mrs B.

1 1/2 cups warm water (between 110 - 120 degrees F)
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water and allow to sit for 10 minutes, covered. Mixture should be frothy.

In separate bowl, combine flour and salt.

Homemade Bread Sticks

Add to yeast mixture. Add melted butter. Mix with paddle attachment of stand mixer or wooden spoon until fully combined.

Homemade Bread Sticks

Knead dough for a few minutes just until dough is smooth. Do not overknead!

Homemade Bread Sticks

Grease a cookie sheet. Pull off pieces of dough and roll out into strips.

Homemade Bread Sticks

Now, I tend to make pretty thick breadsticks so I normally end with around 10 or so, but I'm sure that if you rolled yours out more thinly you'd have at least a dozen.

Homemade Bread Sticks

Cover the dough and let sit in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and once heated, pop in the bread sticks. In microwave, combine the following:

1 stick unsalted butter (or 1/2 cup margarine)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt

After 6 or 7 minutes, brush the bread sticks with half the butter mixture.

Homemade Bread Sticks

Then continue to bake. Honestly, I almost never leave them in there for an entire 15 minutes - normally it's closer to 12 because I like them softer and less crisp on the outside, but to each their own. Either way, immediately upon removal from the oven brush the other half of the butter on the sticks.

Homemade Bread Sticks

Allow them to cool for a minute or two, and enjoy!

Homemade Bread Sticks

Monday, May 16, 2011

This was tonight's dinner, I was in the mood for something comforting and filling but I didn't want to make something that would take too long.

Pasta Bolognese

The beauty of this recipe is that it's delicious and it tastes like you've been cooking it all day when in fact, it's only been about 15 minutes.

Pasta Bolognese
Pasta Bolognese
Credit:  Cooking Light

1 (13.25 ounce) package whole-grain linguine
2 (4 ounce) links hot turkey Italian sausage
Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
1 pound 93% lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 (8 ounce) package button mushrooms, chopped  (I used a small can)
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
1 (28 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Cook pasta in a large Dutch oven according to package directions, omitting salt and fat:  drain, return to pan, and keep warm.

While pasta cooks, remove casings from sausage.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add sausage, beef and onion;  cook 2 minutes, stirring to crumble;  drain, if necessary.  Add mushrooms and rosemary.  Cook 5 minutes or until browned.

Pasta Bolognese

Stir in tomatoes;  reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes.  Stir in milk, pepper, and salt;  cook 2 minutes.  Add sauce to pasta, tossing well.  Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

Pasta Bolognese

Yield:  8 servings (serving size 1 1/2 cups) 
Calories 324 per serving

Pasta Bolognese

This says it's 8 servings, but honestly, we're a family of four and it was just WAY too much, so I was able to halve the recipe, half for dinner and the other half went into a casserole pan that is going to be frozen for another meal.
Without a doubt, my favorite cake on earth.

Tres Leches Cake

I make it every single year for my birthday and I eat way too much of it, then I complain that I've eaten too much and feel like a pig and then put it off for another year and then it comes around again and I complain again.  It's a vicious cycle but I can't seem to break my hold on it.

If you've never tried it you will kick yourself once you have because truly, yummy doesn't even begin to describe it, it's like a party going off in your mouth.

Everytime I've made it for family or friends, the recipe has been requested.

So here it is......oh and by the way, I don't use the whipped topping, it is a bit too sweet for me, I just whip up some heavy whipping cream, add a tiny bit of sugar OR you can omit it and spread that on top of the cake.  Oh boy, now I'm wanting more....I'm out of here.

Tres Leches Cake

1 package white cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 cup milk

1 cup (1/2 pint) whipping cream

1 container (8 ounces) whipped topping, thawed

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Bake about 35 to 40 minutes or until cake is firm to the touch. Remove cake from oven; cool 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sweetened condensed milk, milk and whipping cream in a 4-cup measure. Poke holes all around the warm cake, using a wooden skewer or toothpick.

Tres Leches Cake

Slowly pour milk mixutre evenly over top of holes on cake.

Tres Leches Cake

Let cake cool 10 to 15 minutes more to absorb all the liquid. Cover and refrigerate cake in pan at least 1 hour.

Tres Leches Cake

When cake is completely cool, spread whipped topping evenly on top.

Tres Leches Cake

Cut into pieces and serve with fresh fruit. Keep cake covered and refrigerated.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Piri Piri Sauce is pretty much a staple in any Portuguese home.

Just like anything else, there are a TON of variations and different ways to make this hot sauce and it pretty much depends where you are and where you get it, or who taught you how to make it.

I was born in Mozambique on the East of Africa and one of the things they're very well known for as well is their Piri Piri Sauce which goes great when you're enjoying it with freshly caught Prawns or Crab from the local market.

What exactly is Piri Piri??

"Piri-piri" means "pepper-pepper" in Swahili, the pan-African language, and sometimes the chile is called "pili-pili." It is a generic term that can apply to any member of the Capsicum genus, but in Portugal it specifically refers to a small-fruited variety that resembles a piquin. The question is: how did it get to Portugal? The answer is ironic because after Columbus brought back chile seeds to the Iberian Peninsula on his second voyage to the New World, Portuguese traders carried the seeds to their African colonies of Angola and Mozambique.

Soon, spread by birds, traders, and farmers, chiles conquered all of Africa and became an inexpensive way for people to spice up their bland foods. Sometime during this process, traders took small, hot pods back to Portugal where they were called "piri-piri," the Swahili term.

This is the way I make mine, but like I said, there are so many versions out there but if you're looking for an amazing, never to be forgotten, grilled chicken basted in the most delicious hot sauce, you have got to try it.

My fondest memories are of Galinha no Churrasco or Grilled Chicken which is something that's on the menu for this coming week, so if you're interested, keep an eye out here on the blog :)

Piri Piri Sauce
Piri Piri Sauce

Chilies, in Portugal we call them Malaguetas, but you can use whatever you have on hand
1 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves

Remove the stem from the chilies and chop them into smaller pieces.  Drop it into a small bowl.  Remember to include the seeds as well. The amount of chilies you use is totally up to you, if you want it hotter add more....I only used 5 and it's hot enough for us as it will get even more heat as it steeps in the refrigerator.

Piri Piri Sauce

Add the olive oil, garlic and bay leaves.

Piri Piri Sauce

Using a hand blender, blend everything well, check to make sure that all the ingredients are pureed.

Piri Piri Sauce

Pour into a mason jar, close tightly and shake well.  Place in the refrigerator and let it steep for a few days, the longer it sits, the hotter it gets.  Shake well after every use.

It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Come back this coming week where I'll show you how to make the BEST grilled chicken you've ever tasted.
Homemade goodies are healthier and tastier than store bought.  PERIOD!

I don't care what anyone says but to me there is nothing like better than sitting down and enjoying one of your favorite snacks or treats when you know exactly what went into them, and know that it's full of delicious fresh ingredients.

One of my favorite treats is Guacamole and I've tried quite a few, some are good, some not so good and some just plain dreadful, but through all the trying, I finally nailed it by just adding what I wanted and seeing what would come of it. 


Homemade Guacamole

4 medium avocados, halved, seeded and pulp removed
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp cumin
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 roma tomato, chopped
onion, chopped
cilantro, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt

Homemade Guacamole

Place the pulp from the avocados in a bowl, squeeze the lemon juice over and using a fork mush it all up.  You can leave it chunky or smooth, it's up to you, we prefer smooth, so I really mash it up with the fork.  

Homemade Guacamole

Add the chopped garlic, tomato, cilantro and the salt and cumin.  Mix well. 

Homemade Guacamole

I then spoon the guacamole into a tupperware container, cover it and let it sit for about 30 minutes, then serve.

If you're not going to be eating it soon after making, then place in the refrigerator.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

If you've ever had Spaghetti pie or Baked Spaghetti, this is very similar.  It's actually just something I tried for the first time tonight and we absolutely LOVED the result.

Zucchini and Maple Sausage Pie

I'm a huge fan of Zucchini and I mean HUGE, like I could eat it all day long and never get tired of it, it's one of those veggies that just make me drool.

I saw a couple of Zucchini Lasagna recipes floating around the web and knew I had to give it a try.  Imagine if you will a Lasagna with NO noodles featuring Zucchini which actually kinda takes the place of the pasta in the dish.  Yeah, I know, Yum right?

Zucchini and Maple Sausage Pie

Well I took the recipe from Finding Joy in My Kitchen, which I love, tons of great recipes over there, but don't just take my word for it, go on over and take look......where was I?  Oh, yeah, so I took the recipe and adapted changed it up a bit to suit our tastes, which meant actually cheating and throwing in spaghetti noodles because my kids absolutely love spaghetti.    My idea was to turn it into a spaghetti pie kinda dish and boy was it good.

Anyway, here's the recipe, you gotta try it for yourself and let me know what you think, deal?

Zucchini and Maple Sausage Pie

Zucchini Lasagna
Adapted from:  Finding Joy in My Kitchen

1 lb. maple sausage
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
2 tsp. Italian Seasonings 

1 tsp. salt 
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
4 C zucchini, sliced to 1/4 inch thick (and roasted)
1 C small curd cottage cheese

2 cups cooked spaghetti noodles
Mozzarella Cheese slices

Provolone Cheese slices

Zucchini and Maple Sausage Pie

The way I roast my zucchini is quite simple.  I slice it up, place it on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper.  Then I drizzle on some olive oil, salt and pepper and garlic powder and pop it in a really hot oven, like 450 for a few minutes until it's nice and tender and brown on the bottom.  You can toss it around after a few minutes, I don't, I just leave it.

Heat oven to 325. Coat an 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a medium skillet, brown maple sausage; stir in tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, salt and garlic powder.

Arrange half of the roasted zucchini slices in the bottom of the dish. Layer half of the meat sauce, half of the cottage cheese, and top with some mozarella slices (I only used 3), layer on the spaghetti noodles (previously cooked). Repeat layers, ending with the provolone cheese (just use as many slices as you wish, again I only used 3 and cut them in half and just laid them on top).

Zucchini and Maple Sausage Pie

Bake uncovered for 40 minutes.

Zucchini and Maple Sausage Pie