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Mmm… Cinnamon Bread

20170107_103120-1600x1200Cinnamon bread with raisins because that’s how I remember it when I smell the aromas and close my eyes go back to being 6 years old and shouting “Me Me Me” when my mama asked “who wants cinnamon toast”.20170107_103209-1600x1200Spreading melted butter on the rolled out dough makes it hard to seal the seams but I don’t care.20170107_103338-1600x1200That plastic mat is just the handiest thing but don’t let them tell you nothing will stick to it.  Use plenty of flour when you roll the dough out.  I have a silicone baking mat under it ti keep it from sliding around.20170107_125454-1600x1200These aren’t the prettiest loaves.  I went with this bread machine recipe for these and it seems to work ok.20170107_150215-1600x1200You can’t have too much cinnamon.

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Got Soup?

20160929_1704341600x1200

Well it’s been a whirlwind of activity here and I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress with the house and garden. Lots of cooking going on for friends and family because I love working in my new kitchen. It hasn’t left a lot of time for blogging. But dinner is in the slow-cooker and I have a moment before it’s time to walk Bixby, so tonight there is a recipe exchange.

JeffreyW and I once again had a mind-meld moment and both made a batch of Beef and Barley Soup this week. His yummy photo is pictured above.  My recipe is here and JeffreyW’s recipe is here, accompanied by great photos.

Chuck roasts were on sale this week, so I stocked up. I love a good pot roast and have a few recipe variations. I have a recipe for a Tangy Pot Roast here.  For a more traditional take on a yummy Slow-Cooker Pot Roast  including a full menu and recipes, click here. My new favorite ingredient is a dash of good whisky to deepen the flavors.  One of the roasts will be cut up and frozen for soup or stew.

The garden is still producing an abundance of ripe tomatoes, so I made a batch of Tomato-Spinach Soup, recipe here. For a vegetarian version, just omit ground beef. I make it both ways depending on my mood. Serve with grilled cheese sandwich on Easy Slow Rise Crusty Bread, pictured below and recipe here.

bread-and-jam

Another batch of tomatoes, along with zucchini, green peppers and eggplant (all garden fresh) went into a fresh dinner for guests this week, Garden Fresh Pasta, recipe here.

What’s on the menu tonight? Any fun plans for this first weekend of October?

Turkey Bean Soup1

Tonight’s featured recipe is what we’re having as part of a get-together tomorrow night. It’s simple, hearty soup that we can put together earlier in the day for a quick dinner. Then we’ll be heading out to the local historical farm for Wildlife Night. There will be owls.

Cranberry beans are usually easy to find, but if not, substitute cannellini white kidney beans – you can use dry or canned.

Turkey Bean Soup

  • 1 lb smoked turkey sausage, diced (or ground turkey, browned)
  • 1 lb dried cranberry beans (soaked overnight, drained)cranberry-beans-close-up
  • 8 cups of water (or 6 cups water, 2 cups chicken broth)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Slow-cooker

Add all ingredients to the slow-cooker and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low. Serve with fresh hot bread and salad for a complete dinner.

That’s it for this week. I’m heading out to buy paint…starting on the living room this weekend. Have a great weekend – TaMara



Turkey Bean Soup1

Spice, Spice, Baby

pumpkin-spice-wagons-are-here

It was 47 degrees when I woke up this morning. I should have been suspicious when I was surrounded by furry bodies, snuggled up trying to stay warm. Who needs a down comforter?

Fall is rushing toward me, but I am not ready for pumpkin spice anything yet. In fact, I’m using up the pumpkin I have today to make puppy treats – these to be specific.

I have made more salsa, two batches of jelly and my favorite bread dough is resting in the refrigerator, waiting for me to form it into loaves. I’m still waiting for the bulk of the tomatillos to ripen so I can make a big batch of salsa verde.

I will post photos and recipes for jelly and bread later (today with luck), but first I have to go start cleaning the garage. The house is pretty much done, except I need to reorganize my office filing system…but that’s for a rainy day. And since today is scheduled to be almost in the 90s, garden and garage have priority.

The poor garage – it has a nice shelving system, yet shelves are all empty because everything destined for the garage landed in a pile to be dealt with later. Later has arrived. Time to clean, sort and shelve.

Be back soon with garden pix and yummy stuff…

cropped-aspen_panorama_master_900.jpg

 



 

Baking Pr0n – Cinnamon Raisin Bread

DSC_1829 (1600x1060)Awesome Aroma!

French Toast Alert System Raised To HIGH!

Rolled Stuffed French Toast Final

The French Toast Alert System has been raised from Elevated to High, as we are expected to get anywhere from 6 to 15 inches of snow tomorrow. If you were lucky enough to get to the store and buy your milk, eggs and bread before the shelves were cleared out, here’s your french toast recipe. Bonus cute sous chef.

Originally posted January 2014

This is a very simple recipe, but I needed a helper, for sure. All you need for this recipe is a good quality bread – I used 12 slices – 2 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, dash of cinnamon, dash of salt, 8 oz of cream cheese, strawberry jam and powdered sugar. You can spread anything you want on the bread, go for your favorites. I think peanut butter and jam would be really good.

Step One: In a bowl, add eggs, milk, cinnamon and salt and beat well.

Step Two: Roll the bread flat, just not too flat, so it’s easier to roll up.

Easy Peasy

Step Three: Spread cream cheese and jam in the center of the bread. Don’t get too close to the edges, because you don’t want it to squish out when you roll up.

Jam and Bread

Step Four: Roll bread up. You’ll want to do all of them before you start dipping and cooking.

Suisse Chef

Step Five: Melt butter in a skillet (adding more as needed as you cook)

Ready to dip

Step Six: Dip bread rolls one at a time quickly into the egg mixture, don’t let them soak. Then add them to the pan.

Rolled French Toast

Step Seven: Cook over medium heat, turning as each side browns, until the whole rolls is golden brown. Remove and immediately dust with powdered sugar. Repeat until all rolls are cooked.  We served 4 with twelve rolls and it was more than enough.

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Bread and Kittens

DSC02875 (1600x1060)This little boy was left at the door of the shelter last Sunday, along with his sister.  At least they weren’t left to fend off coyotes out on a country road somewhere.  He’s had his shots and has been released into the kitten house with the others.  Too small yet to be chipped and fixed – Mrs J says the vet’s rule-of-thumb is to wait till they weigh five pounds, or roughly four to five months. 20150929_122516 (1600x1060)Moar buns!  These are still warm and I’ve just brushed them with melted butter.  They smell great!  We’ll have sloppy joes on a couple of them tonight.DSC02878 (1600x1060)This one just came in with three siblings.  Mrs J doesn’t have any info on any of them.DSC02879 (1600x1060)Here’s that same kitteh with a litter mate, calico coloring about the head and tail.  A pair of real cuties.20150929_144606 (1600x1060)I’ve been making the dough for the buns in my bread machine, letting them go through the first rise before dumping them onto a plastic mat to divide and shape.  I wondered the other day what the loaf would look like if I just let it go ahead and complete an entire bread cycle in the machine.  Bad idea, the loaf grew much to big and was sticking to the lid.  I’m guessing that full tablespoon of yeast the bun recipe called for had a lot to do with that.  Today I dumped the dough and cut it into two pieces, tamped it down into the pans and let it rise for another 45 minutes before sliding them into a 375 oven.  After 20 minutes they were done.20150929_155055 (1600x1060)They look and feel much like regular store-bought white bread, same texture and crumb, a bit more chew to the crust.  I bet they make killer BLTs.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Revisiting Fun with Ricotta

Yummy Cannoli by JeffreyW

Yummy Cannoli by JeffreyW

Things are not slowing down here. I put a bid in on a cute little Victorian house, only to face 15 other bids this past week. I did not realize house hunting was going to turn into a full-time job that feels like an episode of the Bachelor, where I go home without the rose each week. Between that and raising a rambunctious 10-month old Great Dane, the weeks are slipping by. Speaking of the Beast, I had to clean out the freezer to make room for his frozen apples halves (apples were on sale, so I stocked up) and his giant beef bones (again, on sale, so I stocked up and boiled a good two week supply). Deep in the freezer, behind the pumpkin, cranberries and leftovers, was a pint of ricotta.

Decided I needed to use it up, so I dug into the archives looking for my vegetarian meatball recipe. That became tonight’s featured recipe, and I pulled up the previous recipe exchange where it was featured and said, “hey, that looks good.” In other words, tonight is a repeat. Next week, though, I’m planning on sharing some fun recipes I’ve been playing with this week.

To start tonight, how about homemade ricotta? JeffreyW has made it and if you click here and he’ll take you step by step through the process.

He then puts his homemade ricotta to good use with Stuffed Shells, as pretty to look at as they are delicious. (recipe and photos here)

I have a great alternative to regular gnocchi, a lighter, easier version using ricotta cheese and a fire roasted sauce to make a simple, quick Baked Gnocchi. (recipe here).

A quick Skillet Lasagna (recipe here) is great for weeknights and a breeze to make.

And a yummy dessert from JeffreyW, a beautiful Cannoli recipe, pictured above and found here.

Finally, for the pet lovers, a Bixby update from the pup himself. If you click here, be prepared, he’s a Beast, standing at his full height on his hind legs.

What’s on your menu for the weekend? Anyone else house hunting? Have you started your gardens in earnest yet?

Now on to the featured recipe. These are very simple to make and are delicious. It’s a great vegetarian alternative for your pasta dishes. They’re light and once you get the technique down, you can play with the flavors and customize them to your palate.

Veggie Meatballs

Most of the recipes I looked at used Italian Breadcrumbs. But I really feel these need fresh breadcrumbs, so I’ve included instructions for making your own. I didn’t season mine because I didn’t want them to overpower the delicate flavors of the cheeses. Fresh breadcrumbs absorb flavors and moisture more than packaged ones, so I thought it gave the whole meatball a better, lighter texture. I added a bit of  garlic powder (fresh garlic did not work with this, it was overpowering and a touch bitter), basil, oregano and fennel. The fennel really took it up a notch. My second round of these, I added a bit of red pepper flake.

Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs

  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (instructions below)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese mix
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten

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  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese
  • Olive oil

Breadcrumbs: this took a full 1-lb loaf of day-old Italian or French bread. I bought it from the day-old rack for cheap. I tore it into small pieces, spread out on a baking sheet and dried it in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want them toasted or seasoned because I thought it would overpower the delicate flavors of these meatballs. Once they were dried, I ran them through the blender. I reserved 1/4 cup for rolling the balls in before cooking.

Meatballs: Mix together ricotta, grated cheeses, spinach and spices. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup at a time. You want it to come together to form soft balls, but you don’t want it to be dry. Once you can form a soft ball with some structure, you don’t need to add more breadcrumbs.

Scoop up a heaping tablespoon (I used my cookie dough scoop) and roll the mixture into balls.

Mix together 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheeses in a bowl and roll each meatball in the mixture, coating on all sides.

You can bake or pan fry these. I chose to pan fry, it used a bit of oil, but it gave them a nice flavor. Baking them would be my option if I was doubling the recipe.

To fry: heat olive oil in a skillet on medium and add the meatballs, leaving enough space between them to easily turn them. They are soft, so it’s a delicate process. The good news is, if you really want them round (instead of kind of flattened) you can reshape them after they come out of the pan. Turn them until they are golden brown on all sides.

To bake: place them on a well oiled baking sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with a bit of oil if desired. Leave space around each one so they brown evenly and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You can turn them halfway through if desired.

Serve them with your favorite pasta and sauce. If you need sauce ideas, click here for Garden Fresh Sauce and click here for Awesome Sauce.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Tidbits

DSC_4986 (1600x1060)Homer has been an outside kitty lately because of his ongoing battle with Toby.  He does come in everyday to spend time but gets ousted if he acts up.  I think he may be mellowing a bit – the cuddle on the sofa with Bitsy was rare enough that I thought a photo was warranted.DSC_9402 (1600x1060)I picked all the remaining jalapenos so Mrs J could take the pot away and dump the old potting soil.  I sliced and froze these.DSC_9390 (1600x1060)A couple of tacos with guac and sour cream and a few of the last peppers.  I think these were ground beef cooked in a mole made from dried ancho peppers.  More of that sauce is on top, covering the lettuce, tomatoes, and cheddar.DSC01113 (1600x1200)Here are those pups from the other day that were smiling for the camera.  Mrs J says they are terrier poodle crosses.DSC01086 (1600x1200)They are really rocking their little doggie sweaters.DSC01106 (1600x1200)I think she said they were eight weeks old and would be released for adoption pretty soon.  I bet they go fast.DSC_9429 (1600x1060)Here’s a sammich I made the other day.  I had a chunk of hot coppa in the freezer that I thawed and sliced thin.  It also has traditional ham, a slice of roast pork, provolone, and various veggies in a vinaigrette made with dijon and balsamic vinegar.DSC_9416 (1600x1060)This looks like spaghetti and meatballs but the meat is just sliced link Italian sausage.  The sauce was from this year’s tomatoes and has a lot of Parmesan in it.  Good stuff.DSC_9431 (1600x1060)It’s been ages since I made bread in my machine.  This loaf really puffed up when it baked, I thought it might raise the lid before it quit growing.  The soup is a basic chicken noodle made with wide egg noodles and various veggies.  I always add too many noodles to the pot.

Dinner Menu: Mambo Italiano Edition

Spaghetti and Meatballs2

Going old school tonight.  I thought you may still have some zucchini and tomatoes that needed to be used up and this menu does both.  Growing up, spaghetti was a weekly occurrence.  I’m not sure where my mom learned to make it, because it is my dad’s half of the family that is Italian, but it was always a hit at our house.  Over the years we’ve all played with different variations, but this is pretty close to the original. Whether it was at a weekly family meal or the Christmas dinner at my Gram’s, this basic sauce ruled.  And the good thing is, it is simple to modify depending on your tastes.  If you want to spice things up, add 1/4 to 1/2 lb of spicy Italian sausage and reduce the ground beef by as much.

Quick, easy and freezes well, I usually make double so I have some on hand for quick dinners.  Trust me, you will never find any jar sauce in my house.  Ever.  If you’d like to have meatballs instead, recipe is here.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce
  2. Zucchini Italiano
  3. Crusty Italian Bread
  4. Sherbet or even better, Gelato

Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta of choice (I like angel hair for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tsp dried basil, crushed*
  • 3 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 carrot, finely grated or 1/2 tsp sugar (these reduce the acidity of the sauce and bring out the spices – trust me on this one)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

2 saucepans and large skillet

In skillet, heat oil, sauté pepper, onion, garlic.  Add hamburger and cook thoroughly.  Add tomato paste and 1 tsp ea of crushed basil, oregano and rosemary, mix well.   In saucepan, add remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, add meat mixture and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to directions, drain well and serve with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Zucchini Italiano

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½  tsp oregano, crushed
  • ½  tsp basil, crushed
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

medium skillet

Clean and slice zucchini, heat oil in skillet, add zucchini, garlic and spices. Stir-fry over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon water and let steam until zucchini is tender.  Toss with parmesan and serve.

*CRUSHING Spices – when using dry spices, to get the best flavor, you should crush them, either by rubbing them in your hand or using a mortar and pestle before adding them to a recipe.

Shopping List:

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 carrot
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • Crusty Italian Bread
  • Sherbet or  Gelato

Also: olive oil, crushed garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, rosemary, salt & pepper

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Originally published Oct 2010 copyright What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook Spring Edition

Stuffed French Toast Rollups

Rolled Stuffed French Toast Final

This is a very simple recipe, but I needed a helper, for sure. All you need for this recipe is a good quality bread – I used 12 slices – 2 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, dash of cinnamon, dash of salt, 8 oz of cream cheese, strawberry jam and powdered sugar. You can spread anything you want on the bread, go for your favorites. I think peanut butter and jam would be really good.

Step One: In a bowl, add eggs, milk, cinnamon and salt and beat well.

Step Two: Roll the bread flat, just not too flat, so it’s easier to roll up.

Easy Peasy

Step Three: Spread cream cheese and jam in the center of the bread. Don’t get too close to the edges, because you don’t want it to squish out when you roll up.

Jam and Bread

Step Four: Roll bread up. You’ll want to do all of them before you start dipping and cooking.

Suisse Chef

Step Five: Melt butter in a skillet (adding more as needed as you cook)

Ready to dip

Step Six: Dip bread rolls one at a time quickly into the egg mixture, don’t let them soak. Then add them to the pan.

Rolled French Toast

Step Seven: Cook over medium heat, turning as each side browns, until the whole rolls is golden brown. Remove and immediately dust with powdered sugar. Repeat until all rolls are cooked.  We served 4 with twelve rolls and it was more than enough.

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