Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bread Bowls

With the fall season starting (at least in some places), I thought this would be a great recipe to share right now. Bread bowls are a great way to serve up your chili, soup, or stew and can make the meal go farther. The bread itself is plain jane - not sourdough, but the outside is nice and chewy and the inside is dense and soft.

Mine turned out a little flat after following the recipe's direction to brush the dough with an egg wash right after rising - bad idea. I'm leaving that step out. You can get 6 good-size bread bowls with this recipe (or you can make 8 smaller ones). Just don't serve them with a thin soup like chicken noodle - the bread will get soggy. Bread bowls are more for thicker soups like cream of broccoli or potato.

According to the recipe, the baked loaves can be frozen up to 1 month if you don't use them all up at once.

adapted from Italian Bread Bowls on

2 packages (.25 oz each) active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)
2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
up to 7 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. cold water

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes until foamy.

Add salt, oil, and 4 cups of flour to yeast mixture and beat well. Stir in more flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough comes together (you may not need all 7 cups). Knead in mixer until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, turn dough to coat, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.

Lightly grease two baking sheets with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Punch down dough and divide into 6 or 8 equal portions. Form each portion into a small, round loaf and place on prepared baking sheets, leaving enough space between each loaf for rising. Cover and let rise again until doubled in size, about 35 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake loaves for 15 minutes. Brush each loaf with egg wash and bake for an additional 10 -15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

To make bowls: using a serrated knife, cut a round out of the top of each loaf and scoop out centers, leaving 3/4-inch thick shells. Fill bowls with hot soup and serve immediately (centers can be used for dipping).

Monday, September 26, 2011

BLT Pasta Salad and Homemade Ranch Dressing

Your favorite sandwich is now a pasta salad! I personally don't care for bottled ranch dressing and I don't always have a packet of dry mix in my pantry, so I've included a recipe for making your own homemade ranch dressing. It makes a little more than you need for this recipe, but I'm sure that you won't have trouble using it up. :)

This recipe serves 6-8 as a side dish. It's easily doubled if you need to serve more.

An easy way to cook bacon is to lay it out evenly on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. To get it crispy enough for crumbling, you may need to leave it in a few minutes longer - but watch it so it doesn't burn. Let cool on a paper towel lined plate.

adapted from

8 oz. rotini pasta (half of a 1 lb. box), uncooked
8 oz. (half a pound) bacon, crisp cooked and crumbled
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup packed, chopped Romaine or Bibb leaf lettuce
1 - 1 1/2 cups prepared ranch dressing
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, combine pasta, tomatoes, and onions. Fold in 1/2 - 3/4 cup ranch dressing until mixture is well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Just before serving, add lettuce, bacon, and black pepper to pasta. Add more ranch as necessary, to taste.

adapted from

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. dried chives
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving to let flavors mingle.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Plum Tart

It may be over 100 degrees here in AZ, but I'm pretending it's Fall. Plums were on sale a week or two ago and I decided to try a recipe I had bookmarked a long time ago. This has a great fall flavor and is very simple to make. It's not a large dessert - it will feed maybe 4-6. The crust is a little shortbread-y and could always be replaced by your favorite pie crust recipe.

adapted from

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 Tbsp. cold water

2 cups sliced plums (about 3 plums)
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 egg, lightly beaten

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt; cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with fork until a ball forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer while you make the filling.

In a bowl, combine the plums, sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil.

Roll dough into a 12-inch circle between two pieces of parchment paper. Place dough on cookie sheet and place filling in center. Bring edges of pastry up around filling, leaving the center uncovered. Brush pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly and crust is golden brown. Cool. Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Apple Raisin Spice Cookies

Fall is my favorite time of year. Best food. Best weather. Well, if you don't live in AZ like I do. It's still high summer here. At least I can still have the food. :)

These can be made with fresh diced apples but be prepared to eat them quick. The extra moisture in the apples will turn your cookies to mush after 24-48 hours. This is why I suggest using dried apples instead.

adapted from

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 (4.5 oz) package dried apples, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup hot apple cider, juice, or water
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp.+ milk or half-and-half
1 cup powdered sugar

Place raisins in a bowl and cover with hot cider; set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter, shortening, and sugars until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in oats, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, and flour until thoroughly mixed. Drain raisins and fold in with apples and nuts, if using. Drop by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are golden brown and centers are set (may take longer if using fresh apples). Cool on sheet 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack.

In a small bowl, whisk together glaze ingredients (adding more milk if necessary to reach a drizzling consistency). Drizzle over cooled cookies with a spoon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Zucchini Patties

I'm sure there are gardens out there just finishing up churning out zucchini like a well-oiled machine. Here's one way to use them up.


3 cups shredded zucchini (about 2-3 zucchini, depending on size)
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup chopped green onion (about 4 onions)
1 1/2 cups Italian style bread crumbs, divided
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. prepared pesto, optional
2 Tbsp. butter
spaghetti sauce (I like Prego's Italian Sausage & Garlic)

Place zucchini in a colander and squeeze out excess liquid. In a large bowl, mix together zucchini, eggs, onions, 1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs, flour, Parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, pepper, and pesto if using.

Place remaining 1 cup breadcrumbs in a small bowl. In a large non-stick skillet, melt 1 Tbsp. butter over med-high heat. Form zucchini mixture into patties; dredge in bread crumbs and place into skillet. Cook about 3-5 minutes on each side until brown and crispy. Add remaining tablespoon of butter to skillet if needed to finish remaining patties. Serve with warm spaghetti sauce.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chicken with Orange-Ginger Sauce

I found this recipe in a publication from Sprouts (if you're not from the Southwest, it's like Whole Foods). I made a few changes and I have to say I really enjoyed this dish! It's great served with steamed rice and stir-fry veggies.


2 - 2 1/2 lbs. chicken tenderloins
1 1/4 cup orange juice, divided
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth
zest of 1 orange
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup chopped green onion + more for garnish (about 2 onions)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 Tbsp. butter
salt & pepper
sliced almonds for garnish

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup orange juice with cornstarch until dissolved; set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine remaining 1 cup orange juice, chicken broth, orange zest, soy sauce, hot sauce, ginger, 1/3 cup green onion, and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium heat; simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter over med-high heat. Add chicken tenderloins and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on both sides and chicken is no longer pink. Remove skillet from heat.

Whisk cornstarch mixture into ginger sauce and boil for 1 minute. Pour sauce over chicken in skillet and return to heat; simmer until chicken is heated through. Garnish with almonds and green onions and serve over steamed rice.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

Boy have I had a time with these. This is a combination and an adaptation of two different recipes I found online. The first recipe was Strawberry Lemonade Bars on Baking Bites. I made them several months ago and though the crust was great and they were a cute pink color they were way too tart for my taste. Then I saw Raspberry Lemonade Bars on Sophistimom and made them for my nieces' blessing dinner. I really didn't like the crust on those and there was too much filling (and still too tart). So I thought and thought for a few months and decided to try combining the two. So the crust is from the Baking Bites recipe and the filling is adapted from the Sophistimom recipe. Since raspberries have a more distinct flavor, I stuck with them for the filling versus strawberries.


1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
3/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
1 (12 oz) bag frozen raspberries, thawed
powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan.

Pour thawed raspberries into a fine mesh sieve placed over a glass measuring cup. Using a rubber spatula, press and scrape raspberries to extract juice:

You will need 1/2 cup. Discard seeds and pulp.

To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press firmly and evenly in bottom of baking dish and bake for 17 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, lemon juice and zest, flour, salt, and raspberry juice. Pour into hot crust and return to oven for 18-20 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely on a wire rack then chill for at least 2 hours. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into bars with a clean, wet knife.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Soft Pretzels and Pretzel Dogs

I saw this recipe for pretzel dogs on and thought it would be a great way to use up some hotdogs in the fridge (especially since the only buns we had were freezer burned). Turns out, this is Alton Brown's recipe for soft pretzels - just with hot dogs. Mine got a little darker than expected but that's because I have a small, non-standard-sized oven and things cook a little faster. The dogs are great for potlucks and barbecues since the recipe makes a lot (Labor Day, anyone?). I like to dip them in Dijon mustard but they are good alone or with nacho cheese. You will get 18 pretzel dogs out of this recipe.

For the pretzels, obviously you leave out the hot dogs and just twist the dough into pretzel shapes. Other than that, the process is the same. You will get 8 large pretzels out of this recipe.

from Alton Brown and Jan's Pretzel Dogs

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 - 115 degrees)
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 (0.25 oz) package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp. water
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
kosher salt - to taste
18 hot dogs, optional

Combine the water, sugar, and 2 tsp. kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.* Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place for approximately 50-55 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling boil in a large pot.

In the meantime:

For pretzels: turn dough onto lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press into the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.

For pretzel dogs: turn dough onto lightly oiled work surface and roll into a 10x20-inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 18 1-inch wide strips, then wrap each strip tightly around a hot dog, pinching the edges to seal, and leaving the ends open. About half an inch of hot dog should peek out from each end.

Place the pretzels or pretzel dogs in the boiling water, 1 by 1 (or up to 3 at a time with the dogs), for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water with a large, flat spatula and place on the prepared baking sheets. Brush each pretzel or pretzel dog with the egg yolk beaten with 1 Tbsp. water. Sprinkle with kosher salt if desired. Bake 12-14 minutes or until dark golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

*The dough can be made in a bread machine: Combine the warm water, sugar, and 2 tsp. kosher salt in a bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes or until foamy. Place the bread flour and butter in the machine. Add the yeast mixture and select the dough cycle.