Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mannecoti con la Balsamella

For the Christmas party at Steve's office this year, they decided on an Italian theme, and Steve had volunteered us for a main dish and a dessert. With that in mind, I decided to do Manicotti and Pannacotta. They turned out wonderfully, and we will definitely be doing them again! Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of them and they are completely gone, so I will have to take pictures of them the next time we make them! I originally got both of these recipes from this site, and was really pleased with all of the very authentic Italian recipes that abounded there. It is well worth the time to check it out!

Balsamella white sauce (makes approx 6 cups sauce):
4 1/2 oz butter
5 1/2 oz flour
5 1/3 cup milk
2 1/2 oz parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
Pinch of nutmeg

This is just a white sauce, so melt your butter, stir in your flour and then gradually add the milk as it thickens, stirring contantly. Add salt to taste (it will need it, we used between 1/2 and 1 tsp) as well as the parmigiano and the nutmeg once it has thickened up.

3 - 4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 lb ground beef, or mix of different ground meats (beef, pork, cold cuts)
salt and pepper
3 oz parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
pinch of nutmeg

In a frying pan put the butter and olive oil, on medium heat. When the butter starts foaming add the ground meat, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and breaking the meat in small particles, until browned. Place the meat in a food processor and run the blade until the meat is very fine. Add 3 - 4 tablespoons of white sauce, nutmeg, and the parmigiano cheese. Continue running the blade until a soft compound is obtained. Transfer to either a pastry bag or a ziploc, with a corner cut out, to make for easy filling of the pasta.

20 dry manicotti, or no-boil cannelloni
3 oz parmigiano reggiano cheese, freshly grated

The original recipe refers to no-boil cannelloni, but that wasn't available in my grocery story so I went with regular manicotti. The instructions on the box say to boil them for 6-8 minutes, but we found that to be much too long; 5 minutes is more than enough, and allows them to maintain enough of their shape to make filling them easy.

So now you need a pan for your manicotti. The instructions say to use an 11x14, but I don't have anything that size. I managed with a 9x13, using some creative placement, but you may have a couple of differently sized pans that will work better than one large. In any case, you need to butter your pan and then put 1/4 to 1/2 a cupe of white sauce in the bottom of the pan; enough so that it is covered. Then, holding pasta in one hand and bag of meat in the other, begin filling your little tubes of pasta goodness. Be careful to avoid over-filling the pasta, as that will make it tear. If necessary, fill half-way from one side and then flip to finish filling from the other side. Place the pasta in the pan and, when full, cover with sauce. Finish with a sprinkle of the parmigiano cheese, cover with foil, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve hot, and I would definitely balance the heaviness of this dish with some veggies or salad to accompany it.

Notes: I don't have a food processor, and the thought of grinding the meat up in small increments in my blender was a bit daunting. I do have a meat grinder attachment for my Bosch, though. So I actually browned my meat, put it through the meat grinder, and added my butter and olive oil afterwards so that I didn't lose any of those oils inside the Bosch (and not have them in my filling for later). I used the smallest sized attachment that I had for the meat grinder and four blades instead of two.


This is a new dish that we tried just this year for the party at Steve's office and it was just great! You can get a general idea of the dish if you think about it being the Italian version of flan. It's extremely rich; a little bit goes a long way. We really enjoyed this and Steve has specifically requested that we do it again, along with the Manicotti that I made for the main dish.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water, hot

1 cup milk
1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
2 cups heavy cream
1 slice of lemon peel
1 piece of cinnamon stick
1/4 cup sugar

To prepare the caramel, put the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Mix very well together with a metal spoon, and place over low heat. Stir the sugar-juice once in a while until it becomes dark gold and begins smoking. Add hot water, bring it to a boil, and remove the pan from the heat. Pour the caramel into a round mould approximately 7 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep; bunt pan works great. Swirl the mold in all directions so that the caramel covers bottom and sides. Set aside.

To prepare the pudding, pour the milk into a small bowl and add the gelatin powder. Set aside to soak for about 5 minutes. In a saucepan, put the cream, lemon rind, cinnamon, and sugar. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Remove it from the heat and set it aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Remove the lemon peel and the cinnamon stick and add the milk-gelatin mix; return it to the stove. Stirring, bring to a boil. As soon as the cream starts boiling, remove the pan from heat, pour the mixture into the mould, and let it cool at room temperature. Once at room temperature, place in the fridge to set. Keep it in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (better if overnight) before serving. To un-mold it, place the mould for ONLY a few seconds in very hot water. Any longer than that, and your pannacotta will simply begin to melt. If necessary, insert a knife all around between the mold and the cream to detach it from the walls. Invert onto a serving plate. Dress Pannacotta with berries or fresh fruit for additional color and flavor.

Notes: First of all, this recipe originally came from here. Second, I didn't use lemon peel and a cinnamon stick in the pudding. I used just a dash of lemon juice and very small sprinkly of ground cinnamon. It meant that you could actually see the cinnamon in my pannacotta, but it worked to give it that light cinnamon flavor, and I didn't mind that it was visible.

Hot Artichoke and Crab Dip

Allow me to present another member of the Hall of Traditions. We seem to have a lot of those... Anyway, this is a huge favorite of ours during the holiday season, most often used on Christmas Day for general snacking amongst the other horse duvers (welcome to our pronunciation of that fancy word for appetizers!) to avoid making anyone have to actually cook or do anything.

8oz cream cheese, soft
1 cup mayo
1 lg can artichoke hearts, packed in water, drained and chopped
1 small can green chilies
1 cup parmesan cheese
8 oz crab (or to suit personal taste; we like a little more)

Combine cream cheese and mayo until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Place in pie plate and bake uncovered 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees until heated through and lightly browned. Serve hot with crackers for dipping; we happen to be partial to Club crackers and What Thins.

Judy's Chocolate Cream Pie

This is the chocolate cream pie that Steve grew up on, and he absolutely LOVES chocolate cream pie. He'll take that over a birthday cake any day. I don't have a picture for it yet, but hopefully I will after this evening...

3/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
3 cups milk
3 egg yolks
1 tsp almond extract

Mix together dry ingredients in a medium sauce pan and whisk in milk and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until it thickens. Remove from heat and add almond extract. Pour into cooked and cooled pie shell.

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 Tbsp sugar

Beat the whites until they are frothy and then add the other ingredients. Continue beating until stiff snowy peaks form. Top pie with merengue and then, if desired, lightly toast the peaks of the merengue under a broiler (or a kitchen blow-torch, if you're that fancy :) for just a few seconds. Refrigerate pie until ready to use, but keep in mind that merengue will begin 'weeping' within about 24 hours.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cinnamon Pull-Aparts

This one is DEFINITELY part of the Hall of Traditions!! It is a concrete part of Christmas, to say the least, and we do it periodically at other points during the year as well. This is something that comes from Steve's family, and is much-anticipated thing for our kids now. I will be posting this in two parts: the original recipe from Steve's mom and our modifications.

Judy's recipe:
1 bag of Rhode's frozen rolls
1-2 cubes butter, melted
2 cups sugar mixed with cinnamon to taste
While still frozen, coat rolls in melted butter and then in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place in a buttered bunt pan or angel food cake pan that doesn't have the removable bottom. Layer the rolls up inside the pan until it's about half full. Allow to sit until doubled in size; usually overnight, because of the rolls being frozen. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. After letting sit for several minutes, turn contents of pan out onto a large plate (hold plate on top of pan and flip quickly and carefully); serve immediately while still hot!
My recipe: (uses a feather roll recipe out of one of Mom's cookbooks, the name of which I have forgotten)
9-10 cups flour
2-3 Tbsp yeast
3 cups warm water
2/3 cup oil
1/2 cup honey or sugar
1/2 cup powedered milk (optional)
4 large eggs
4 tsp salt
Dipping and Rolling:
1-2 cubes butter, melted
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
cinnamon to taste
Mix 5 cups of the flour with the dry milk and the yeast. Mix in the water, oil, and honey; let sit for 10 minutes. Mix in the eggs and the salt. Add the flour one cup at a time until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl and then knead for 5-6 minutes.
This is a highly versatile dough and can be used for everything from pizza crusts, to dinner rolls, to cinnamon rolls; you name it. For the purposes of this recipe, we will be shaping 1" balls out of the dough. Mix the brown and white sugars with the cinnamon. Dip the balls of dough in the butter and then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture before placing in the pan, as stated above. Layer the rolls up inside the pan until it's about half full. Allow to sit until doubled in size. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. After letting sit for several minutes, turn contents of pan out onto a large plate (hold plate on top of pan and flip quickly and carefully); serve immediately while still hot!
Note: the cooking times are different on the two recipes for a reason. Steve's family prefers a slightly doughy center on their pull-aparts, while I prefer my rolls cooked all the way through. Obviously, you can do the Rhode's rolls with a longer cooking time to get an easy pull-apart with fully cooked rolls; I just separated them that way because that's the way the two different households make them :)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fruit Crepe Strudels

I haven't actually made these yet, but they're high on my list of stuff to try out!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 tbsp cooking oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 20- to24-oz can fruit pie filling
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted nuts
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
6 tbsp fine dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Crepes: In bowl combine flour, milk, eggs, oil, and salt; beat till blended. Heat a lightly greased 10-inch skillet; remove from heat. Pour in about 1/3 cup batter; lift and tilt skillet to spread batter evenly. Return to heat; brown on one side only. To remove, invert pan over paper toweling; remove crepe. Repeat with remaining batter to make 6 crepes, greasing pan occasionally.
Filling: Combine filling, nuts, lemon peel and vanilla.
Assembly: Brush unbrowned side of each crepe with about 1 tbsp melted butter; sprinkle with 1 tbsp bread crumbs. Spoon a scant 1/2 cup filling at one end of each crepe. Roll up as for a jelly roll, starting with the filling end. Fold sides under. Place crepes seam side down on lightly greased baking sheet. Brush with remaining melted butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle atop. Bake at 400 until crespy, about 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; cut in pieces. Serves 12.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mint Chocolate Brownies

I just tried this one out today and it's pretty good. I found it on this site, and altered the pan and cooking time because I like my brownies to be thicker and fudgier than the original recipe would have given me :)
2/3 cup butter OR margarine

1 2/3 cups (10-ounce package) HERSHEY'S Mint Chocolate Chips, divided

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8x8-inch baking pan.
Place butter and 1 cup mint chocolate chips in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at 20-sec intervals, stirring in between, until chips are melted.
Add sugar, flour, cocoa, vanilla, baking powder, salt and eggs; stir with spoon until smooth. Stir in remaining 2/3 cup chips. Spread batter into prepared pan; sprinkle walnuts over top.
Bake 25 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cottage Pie

I kind of made this one up based on Steve telling me about meat pies and stuff that he had while he was in Australia, so it's really general, and open to lots of interpretation :)

2 tbsp oil
1 lb stew meat
1/2 cup water
2 beef boullion cubes
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp savory
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or more to taste)
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup milk
frozen peas
mashed potatoes
grated cheddar

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pressure cooker and brown the stew meat. Add in the boullion cubes, water, and seasoning; seal, bring to pressure, and cook for 10 minutes. After the pressure comes down, remove the meat to a small casserole dish (just big enough for the meat to cover the bottom) and leave the drippings in the pan on a medium-high heat. Combine the flour and milk until smooth and add to the drippings, stirring constantly. Since this is a gravy, you may need to add more milk or flour depending on how thick you want it to be. When the gravy is done, pour it over the top of the meat. Cover with the meat and gravy with peas, and cover those with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle a bit of cheese over it all and bake in the oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly around the edges.

Note: I love using my pressure cooker, because it cooks the meat up really tender so quickly. If you don't have one you can obviously just allow more time for it to simmer in a skillet on the stove instead. This can be done with any of your favorite meats (Steve really likes it with lamb) and vegetables.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Apple Butterscotch Tart

There's no memories or tradition behind this one yet, because I just made it this evening, but I was so good I just had to add it in here! I found it at the Cook's Recipe Index and was quite pleased, both with the taste and with the simplicity.
1 pie crust, ready and waiting in your dish
5 cups apple, thinly sliced
1 cup butterscotch morsels
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup margarine, chilled
Arrange the apples in the dish, and then sprinkle the butterscotch chips over the top. In a separate bowl combine the flour and brown sugar, cutting in the margarine, and then evenly cover the apples with this mixture. Bake in the oven at 375 for 40-45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


For most of us, the recipes that we grew up with will always hold a special place, and that is certainly true with this cornbread recipe. This is the recipe that my mother used all my growing up years, and I have never used any other, although I have tasted others! This is just always going to be my favorite cornbread recipe, bar none!

1/2 cup margarine
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 Tbsp vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour

Melt margarine, add sugar, beat in eggs and salt - set aside. Combine buttermilk and soda - add to other ingredients. Combine flour and cornmeal. Add to the rest of the ingredients. Stir just until everything is moistened. Do not stir out your lumps or it will affect the texture of your cornbread. Pour into greased pan (I have a 6x10 glass pan that I like) and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of the pan (which determines the thickness of your cornbread). You are looking for the cornbread to be golden brown on top and to have pulled away from the sides of the pan. If you are using an 8" square pan, be sure that it's done in the center before you pull it out :)

Steve's Chili

Steve showed me how to make chili this way when we were newlyweds and he was still in college. It's ultra-simple, which makes it great for the crock pot on a chilly day when you don't have a great deal of time.

3 cans beans, undrained (we usually make each can a different variety of bean)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey or stew meat)
2 Tbsp chili seasoning

Combine beans, tomato sauce, and chili seasoning in the crock pot. Brown meat and add to other ingredients. Do not add water or any other liquid, even if it looks a little thick to start with. Cook on low most of the day (or on high for about 4-6 hours) and then taste. You may need to adjust your chili seasoning depending on the kind that you have and how strong you like your chili to be.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sticky Chicken

When I was seven years old, Dad was transferred from Rantoul, IL to Edwards AFB in California. He was stationed there for the next 12 years. When I was in high school, I remember the Relief Society putting together a ward cookbook. I purchased a copy (or Mom bought it for me??) to put in my hope chest for when I got married. There are specific recipes from it that I use on a regular basis, even now. This one was pointed out to me a couple of years ago, by Mom, and it has since become one of our regulars. It was originally entered into the cookbook as Chicken Wings by Pam Woodburn.

chicken wings
2 beaten eggs with a little milk
1 cup flour
salt and pepper
3 tsp soy sauce
3 tsp water
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tsp accent
1/2 tsp salt

Mix flour, salt and pepper together in one bowl and the eggs and milk in another. Dip wings first in egg mixture and then coat chicken wings with flour mixture. Fry in oil until browned on both sides and put in a 9 x 13 pan (I line mine with foil for easy clean-up). Mix remaining ingredients to make a sauce and pour over thechicken. Bake at 324 for about 1 hr or until sticky, turning the chicken over 3-4 times during baking so that they are well-coated with the sauce.

Notes - Although this calls for wings, I like to use either chicken tenders or boneless skinless breasts cut to a similar size. Also, even though the picture shows it served with mashed potatoes and veggies, we have also really enoyed it as an Asian meal with a side of fried rice :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

There are definitely a few options out there for using your left over roast beef, but this is by far and away our favorite. Based on the concept of corned beef hash, it is a simple and satisfying breakfast item, found in our Cooking with Mickey cookbook.

roast beef, leftovers

2-3 potatoes, sufficient for your family, diced small

1 cup beef stock

1 tbsp onion powder

2 tbsp butter

Pre-heat oven to 350. Melt butter in large frying pan and add diced potatoes. Chop up roast beef (I've been known to use leftover steaks, too) and combine with potatoes and onion powder in the frying pan just long enough to mix well. Spoon into a greased baking dish and bake uncovered for 1 hour. After this, you can go one of two ways. We have certainly served it just like this, topped with a fried or poached egg. The other option is to heat a little more butter in your frying pan and fry the cooked potatoes and meat before actually serving. We happen to like it more when it's been fried in the butter after the baking, but you could save a few calories by not :)

Note: The original recipe uses 1 medium onion finely chopped, instead of onion powder, sauteed in the frying pan before adding the potatoes and meat.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Peanut Butter Balls

Steve's mom makes these for him at Christmas time every year, and he would be quite thrilled if I made them a few times through the year. They are a prime example of the fact that he enjoys almost anything that combines peanut butter and chocolate. For most things I will go cheap on quite a few ingredients, but I wouldn't reccomend it on this one since the quality of the peanut butter and the Rice Krispies actually make a difference in how well the recipe works; I've tried. Also be aware that room temperature is bad for this recipe, since a room temperature dough will lend moisture to your Rice Krispies, depriving them of their crisp.

1 cube margarine, softened
1 cup peanut butter, Jif
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup Rice Krispies
1 - 12 oz pkg chocolate chips
1-2 tbsp parafin (you will find it in the canning area of your grocery store)
toothpicks (square is better than round)

Cream margarine and peanut butter. Add powdered sugar and carefully mix in Rice Krispies. Chill immediately in the fridge for 4 hours. Roll into 1/2 - 1" balls, but be careful not to crush the Rice Krispies. Freeze overnight. This is the part where the kids can have fun helping now, so melt your chocolate and paraffin together in a double boiler (or in a metal bowl set on top of a pan of water), being careful not to burn your chocolate. Stab frozen peanut butter balls with toothpicks and dip in melted chocolate. Place on waxed paper on a baking sheet. We usually use 4-6 toothpicks and rotate them as the chocolate cools, since they don't pull cleanly right away and we don't want to use the entire box :) As soon as all the balls have been dipped, place entire baking sheet in the freezer and leave over night. Yeah! You're done. We store ours in a ziploc bag, and they will keep for months.

Sloppy Joses

No, the Jose isn't a mis-spelling. Steve calls it a Sloppy Jose because he adds a dash of Tobasco sauce to make them a little spicy. I was quite stunned when we first made these because I had never had Sloppy Joes on anything but a burger bun, but Steve likes to have his on a single slice of bread and eat it open-faced with a fork. I will still use a burger bun if I have them on hand, but his method is by far the more common method in our house now.

1 lb hamburger
Worcetershire sauce
Tobasco sauce
liquid smoke
1 egg

This recipe is almost entirely a 'feel it as you go' kind of thing so sharpen your cooking instincts and enjoy the ride :) Brown and drain the hamburger. Add a few generous shakes of Worcestershire, one to three dashes of Tobasco (depending on how much you want it to bite back), a cap-ful of liquid smoke, and then enough ketchup to bring it to your desired consistency. When all of that is well-mixed and thoroughly heated, push the meat mixture to the outer edges of the pan, leaving an empty space of hot pan in the middle. Crack your egg into this well and immediately begin scrambling it in, allowing it to mix into the meat as it cooks. Once your egg is mixed into the meat (you should just see small flecks through your Joses) it is ready to serve.