8/3/15

Favorite Summer Pasta Dinner







You know those nights when you just cant bring yourself to cook, but the thought of eating drive thru makes your stomach turn?? This is my simple solution. It's called Favorite Summer Pasta (and anything you have in the fridge) Dinner.




Here's the deal. Look in your fridge or freezer. Pull out any type of vegetable. It can be broccoli, carrots, peppers, spinach, green beans, asparagus. You'll need about 2 cups. Then some protein. Chicken goes well in this dish. Or you can use just about anything you have. I'd probably pass on Spam, but almost anything else goes. Shrimp, turkey, bratwurst, leftover steak, pork, even ground meat. Or if you're not a meat lover, you can simply add more veggies. Tofu (a firm texture) folded into this would be wonderful too!








I used Harmons brand of pasta, which I highly recommend. It has a comparable quality to that of pasta made in Italy. Trust me on this, I've carried home bags full of dried pasta from Italy on past trips. Once I realized for about the same price I could purchase the imported items here, I filled my carry-on with other items.



Get yourself a pot and grow a few fresh herbs.
Joy in a pot. 
If you have access to fresh tomatoes, use them! If you don't have any fresh tomatoes, use boxed or canned. And the fresh herbs? If you don't already have an herb pot, vow to grow one next summer.
In the amount of time it takes you to run to In and Out you can make this at home!
You're going to love it.
Promise.



Favorite Summer Pasta
A Bountiful Kitchen

1/2 lb Harmons pasta, any shape will do, I used Casarecce pictured above
2-14 oz or one 26.46 oz carton Pomi brand chopped tomatoes,
or about 28-30 oz chopped fresh tomatoes in their own juice
2 cloves fresh garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil
2-3 tablespoons each fresh chopped oregano, rosemary, thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup cream (optional)
2 cups chopped fresh vegetable such as asparagus, broccoli, green beans, peppers, etc
2 cups chicken (or other meat), chopped into bite size pieces and cooked
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, additional for topping pasta

Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente, drain and set aside.
Pour the chopped tomatoes in a large saucepan. Simmer over medium high heat. Add garlic, herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper and sugar. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until reduced a bit.
Meanwhile, chop vegetables and place on plate and microwave for about 2 minutes, covered or until the veggies are barely cooked and bright in color. Toss into sauce and add chicken as well.
Add cream and cheese and cook for another minute. Remove from heat. Toss sauce with cooked pasta. Serve immediately with additional grated cheese on top.
Serves about 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side dish

Tips:
-This recipe is easy to double. Simply double the sauce and cook the entire package of pasta. Doubled, it will serve 8.
-It is best to use fresh vegetables and fresh herbs in this recipe. Although, the Pomi brand (purchased at Harmons) chopped tomatoes work very well in place of fresh tomatoes. if using fresh tomatoes, make sure to use a variety that will yield a lot of juice. I do not recommend using fresh Roma's in this recipe, they don't typically yield enough juice.
-I found the Harmons brand pasta needed a bit more cooking than the package directions. I cooked the pasta for about 10-11 minutes total for a perfect al dente texture. Make sure to test this in your kitchen. Depending on size of pot, how much water and pasta are in the pot, how hard the water is boiling will all be factors in how quickly pasta cooks. Do not over cook!



7/11/15

World's Best Cinnamon Rolls






I have a serious weakness for cinnamon rolls.  A few of my favorite cinnamon roll recipes are Mel's Kitchen Cinnamon Rolls,  Cutler's Cinnamon Rolls,  and Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Roll .  When I saw this recipe on Pinterest for the World's Best Cinnamon Rolls I knew it was a must-try recipe.





I Pinned this recipe while drooling over pages of cinnamon roll photos on Instagram one evening. The author of this recipe is Carrian, from Oh, Sweet Basil. Carrian worked on this recipe for SIX YEARS before posting it on her blog. Wow. That's a serious obsession with perfecting the cinnamon roll! I met Carrian a few years ago, and watched her teach a cooking class. She is a darling young mom who loves to cook and workout. Good combo. I just love to cook.
If you're looking for a quick recipe, this is not going to be a good fit. But if you've got several hours at home, and have time to tend a batch of rolls (while doing laundry, cleaning bathrooms, etc), this recipe will not let you down! It is one of the best recipes I have tried.
Maybe even the World's Best  :)














World's Best Cinnamon Rolls
adapted slightly from Oh, Sweet Basil
Prep time: 4 hours
Cook time: 20 mins
Serves: 20-24

Dough:
1 cup warm water
½ cup heavy cream *may substitute whole milk*
4½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt salt
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
⅓ cup canola oil
⅓ cup melted butter
7-8 cups all purpose flour
2 dime sized circles (NO MORE) Soy Lecithin
Filling:
12 tablespoons softened butter, unsalted
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
5 tablespoons cinnamon
4 tablespoons cornstarch
Frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons softened butter, unsalted
1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ tablespoon corn syrup (light Karo syrup)
2- 2½ cups powdered sugar

In a glass measuring cup, add the water and cream. Heat in the microwave until warm, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Make sure it's warm and not hot. Add the yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Allow to foam for 5-10 minutes. In another measuring cup, add the buttermilk and warm as well. Making sure it's lukewarm, add it to the yeast mixture.
In another measuring cup, add the remaining sugar, salt, oil, butter and eggs, whisking to combine. Add to the yeast mixture in a standing mixer. Stir with a dough hook to combine. Add the flour over the top and the soy lecithin. Mix until the dough begins to form a ball then mix for 3 minutes, adding an additional ¼ cup flour if you were too light handed with the first measurement and it needs more. I never do, but everyone measures differently. Remove the dough hook and place a towel over the bowl to rise for 1-2 hours in a warm spot.
Very lightly flour the counter and roll the dough into a large, even rectangle. Spread the soft butter all the way to the edges.
In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon with the corn starch. Sprinkle liberally over the butter, all the way to the edges. Roll into a tight log and using floss, slice the rolls by sliding it under the dough, bring it up and make an "x", pull it tight to cut through and set it in the lightly greased cookie sheet.
Repeat until all of the rolls are in the pan and then drape with a towel to rise for 1-2 hours.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20-22 minutes, watching the tops because as soon as they are golden the rolls are done and you DO NOT want to over bake. Remove from the oven, cool for 2 minutes and top with frosting while hot. Sneak into another room to enjoy one all alone before the husband and kids find you.
Frosting:
Whip the cream cheese and butter together until softened. Add the corn syrup (Karo syrup) and vanilla . Slowly beat in the powdered sugar until desired consistency.


6/30/15

Cheese and Garlic Twisted Breadsticks





I've been making these Quick Cheese and Garlic Twisted Breadsticks for years. They take less than an hour start to finish and paired with a salad or soup make a meal complete! They are simple enough to make with your kids this summer, they'll love to cut the dough into strips, sprinkle with cheese and then twist.
I love them paired with these main dish salads:


Panera's Strawberry Poppy Seed and Chicken Salad Copycat recipe

BLT Pasta Salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing




Here's a little step by step to help you out:


Roll out on a floured surface. Doesn't need to be a perfect rectangle...

Spread with butter and garlic mixture (optional).
I skip this step if I'm in a hurry, sprinkle with cheese, cut into strips. 
Fold the strips back to meet the top of the dough. 


Gently twist one end of the dough.
It's okay if the cheese spills out the side of the breadstick!


Place the breadstick on the greased baking sheet.
Brush with egg and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.
Or skip this step if you're in a hurry.



Shown with Panera Copycat Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe




Cheese and Garlic Twisted Breadsticks
A Bountiful Kitchen

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups flour
1 egg, beaten (optional)
1 clove crushed garlic mixed with 2 teaspoons salt, or 1 tablespoon garlic salt
2-3 tablespoons butter, softened or melted
1 1/2 cup grated cheese (Cheddar, Co-jack, Parmesan)
poppy seeds, sesame seeds optional

Place the warm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over top of the water. Let sit for about five minutes or until bubbly. Stir in honey. Add the flour and salt, a cup at a time, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and is no longer sticky. Remember, it is easier to work with dough that has not had too much flour added.
Let the dough sit for about 15 minutes. This step is not necessary, if you are in a hurry, go ahead and proceed to next step.
Mix the butter and garlic or garlic salt in a small bowl.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface into about a 10x15 rectangle. Spread or drizzle the surface of the dough with melted butter and garlic mixture. This step is optional, you may simply sprinkle the dough with grated cheese, but the flavor is much better with the garlic butter mixture spread on top first.
Grease a jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Place rack in middle of oven.
Using a pizza cutter, cut the bread sticks in to 8-12 pieces (width wise), depending on the desired size. Take one end of the dough strip and fold upward to meet the top of the other end of the strip (see photo). Continue until all of the strips are folded. Pick up one dough strip and gently twist in one direction, holding the other end while twisting. Place the twisted dough strip on the greased baking sheet. Repeat until all of the dough has been twisted and placed on baking sheet. Dough may be brushed with beaten egg and sprinkled with poppy or sesame seeds.
Let the dough sit in a warm place for about 20 minutes.
Place in oven and let bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve immediately.

Tips:
-When making any type of bread, the kitchen should be warm and draft free. The microwave oven is a great place to put a bowl of rising bread dough. Place a cup of water in the microwave on high for one minute. Remove the water and place the bowl of bread in the microwave oven with the door shut. The temperature inside of the oven is perfect!
-While this recipe is supposed to be a thirty minute recipe, the texture of the bread is better if you let it raise a bit before baking. If you have lots of time, let it raise for 30-40 minutes after making the dough, then another 30-40 minutes after shaping into breadsticks and before baking.