Monday, March 26, 2012

Pesto Rolls

I made these rolls the other day to go with some homemade chicken and rice soup and salad for dinner. Homemade bread takes a meal from good to extraordinary. If you are lucky enough to have a food processor and a stand mixer then it is no trouble at all to make fresh bread for every meal (if you are home). These also make great croutons when they are a day or two old. Simply cube and saute them with some olive oil and maybe some extra minced garlic. 
I didn't have quite enough basil needed so the rolls I have pictured are less green than the ones you will make. 

Hope you enjoy!

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3 1/4 cup bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

Special equipment needed:
Food processor with metal blade
Stand mixer fitted with dough hook attachment

Yields 8 large dinner rolls
Time: About 2 hours prep (1 1/2 hours rising) and 15 minute cook time.

Combine the pesto, olive oil, Parmesan, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the food processor and process until finely chopped and paste-like.
Place warm water and yeast in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add 1/4 cup of flour and whisk by hand. Let sit for 10 minutes or until yeast is activated and looks foamy.
Add pesto and whisk by hand until well blended. Add 3 remaining cups of flour and 1 1/2 teaspoon salts. Attach dough hook and blend on low until the dough begins to come together in one cohesive mass, about 2 to 3 minutes. 
Cover the dough with plastic wrap or damp lint-free cloth and let rest for 20 minutes. Scrape the bowl and then turn the dough over so everything gets mixed evenly. Knead on low until the dough is firm, elastic and smooth, 3 to 6 minutes. 
Lightly oil the bowl and brush the surface of the dough with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour (longer if your house is cold).
Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Press down the dough firmly to expel some air bubbles but be careful not to knead the dough again because it will make the dough hard to work with. (If this happens simply cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes to let the gluten relax).

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and shape each one into a taut, round ball. Place the rolls on the prepared baking sheet about 3 inches apart. 

Cover rolls looslely with plastic wrap or damp cloth and let rise until almost doubled, 35 to 40 minutes. (They should look like they took a deep breath).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. If you have a pizza stone place it in the oven as it preheats and allow at least 30 minutes to an hour to fully heat. Otherwise bake on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Remove plastic wrap from rolls and lightly (very lightly) sprinkle with flour. Use a razor or sharp knife to make a decorate slash or two on each roll.
 Immediately place in oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until internal temp reads 200 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. 
Transfer to cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. 
The rolls can be baked earlier in the day and reheated in the oven for 400 degrees F for 6 to 7 minutes.

Store uncovered, at room temperature for 1 day. They can also be kept frozen for up to 1 month.
To freeze, let rolls cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and store in a plastic freezer bag. 
To thaw, spread apart on baking sheet at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours, then reheat as directed to crisp the crust and warm the center. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Egg Salad Sandwiches

I don't often make egg salad sandwiches but sometimes I get a craving for them. I usually make them a standard way with mayo, mustard, salt and pepper. Sometimes I cut up pickles and throw them in. This time I decided to look up recipes and see what other people put in their concoctions. This version had a lot more flavor than what I usually make. It turned out pretty good.  I might try another recipe next time just to see what other versions taste like. Next time you get in the mood for egg salad, give this version a try!

8 hard-boiled eggs
1 cup reduced fat mayo
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt (more or less depending on your tastes)
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon dill weed

Yields 4-5 sandwiches
Time 5 minute prep and 30 minute chill time.

Remove shells and rinse eggs with cold water. Place eggs in a medium size bowl. Using two butter knives cut up eggs until they are the desired size. Mix in mustard and mayo. Add seasonings and stir. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to blend flavors. Serve on bread or with crackers. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Easy Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This recipe isn't so much of a recipe as it is a suggestion. I didn't make anything from scratch or really put much effort into this one at all. I wanted to share it with everyone because it was easy and tasted delicious. 

1 (2 pound) pork sirloin roast
Apple-wood smoked rub (or whatever rub tickles your fancy)
Texas toast style bread
garlic butter

Yields 4 to 6 servings
Time: 5 minute prep and 2 hour cook time 

Super simple...

Rinse pork with cold water and pat dry. 

Generously rub meat with the rub of your choice. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Cook, uncovered at 300 degrees F for approximately 2 hours or until meat is falling apart and reaches an internal temp of 170.

Pull meat apart and chop the chewy outer pieces up. Mix all pieces together.  

Add a generous amount of your favorite BBQ sauce and serve on garlic buttered Texas toast. 
The best way to make the toast is by buttering both sides of a piece of bread and toasting it on a pan (like you would making a grilled cheese sandwich).

Of course this sandwich can be made even better with some gooey cheese and/or crunchy Cole slaw on top. "the more the merrier" I always say. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

French Toast Sticks

My mom had the great idea of making a boatload of pancakes and french toast sticks and freezing them. This has been a lifesaver for me since she had to go home and leave me to fare in the mornings with my newborn and toddler. My son loves these and it has been so great to be able to pop a few in the microwave and run out the door when we are running late. I know you can easily buy these at the store but I like knowing exactly what's in them, plus saving money is always nice. 

1 loaf of Texas toast
8 eggs
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 

Heat a griddle to medium or around 350 degrees F.

Beat the eggs, vanilla, sugar, cream and cinnamon in a large bowl. 

Cut the Texas toast into fourths. 

Dip enough of the bread pieces into the egg mixture to cover the pan while leaving about in inch between sticks.

Consider not submerging the tips of the sticks in the mixture since that portion will not be grilled directly on the pan. 

Butter the grill and grill each side of the sticks until golden brown.

Place cooked sticks on a cookie sheet and allow to cool completely at room temperature. 
(Only place 1 layer of sticks on the sheet)

Place the uncovered cookie sheet in the freezer. Allow the sticks to freeze completely. Place sticks in a large freezer bag. Best to enjoy within a month.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup

This is a very flavorful and versatile tomato soup. It is wonderful with grilled cheese on a rainy day or as an appetizer at a dinner party. You could add crushed red pepper flakes or rosemary for extra flare. Omit the butter and go easy on the olive oil and you have a flavorful low-fat alternative. This is Tyler Florence's, the man of my (food) dreams, recipe. It is pretty much fool proof to make and it is sure to please.


  • 2 1/2 lbs fresh ripe tomatoes (preferably a mix of heirlooms, vine, plum and cherry tomatoes) 
  • 1 large or 2 small yellow onions (sliced)
  • 6 large whole garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (washed & chopped right before adding to soup)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 quart of chicken stock
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • basil leaves (for garnish)

  • Yields 4-6 servings

Time: 20 minutes prep and 50 minutes cook time.


  • Preheat oven to 375. Clean, core, remove seeds and half tomatoes. Place tomatoes, sliced onions, garlic cloves on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake until caramelized, about 20-30 minutes.
  • Remove baking sheet from oven and transfer contents to a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add  3/4 of the quart of chicken broth, bay leaves and the butter (if using, add fresh rosemary or crushed red pepper to taste).  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is reduced by a third. 
  • Add basil to soup. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. If using a regular blender, blend half the soup at a time, placing the first blended half in a large bowl then adding both blended halves back to the pot (be careful as blending hot liquid in a regular blender can make the top explode off).
  • Return to low heat and adjust to desired consistency by adding the remaining broth. Simmer for 5-10 minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Portion soup into individual serving bowls. Add a dollop of heavy cream and stir slightly. To garnish place a whole sprig of rosemary (if used in the soup) or basil leaves on top. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Curried Lemon Cranberry Couscous


1 (5.8 ounce) box instant couscous
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 orange, juiced
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 to 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Yields 4 side dish portions 

Time: 10 minute prep and 5 minute cook time (excluding the time to toast the walnuts)


Stir the couscous, cranberries, curry powder, salt and sugar in a medium size heatproof bowl. Bring the water (amount directed on couscous box) to a boil and pour over couscous. Add orange juice. 

Stir and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender. 

Fluff couscous with fork. Add olive oil, scallions, parsley, lemon juice and walnuts. Stir until evenly distributed.

Adjust salt and pepper to taste. 

This dish can be made two hours ahead of time and left at room temperature. It also reheats nicely as leftovers for another day. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container. Best to use within a couple days.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Super Easy Salsa Recipe

I was making a sauce for a margarita chicken recipe the other day and to my surprise I stumbled across an easy way to make salsa. All I had to do was throw in some onions, and lime juice. I never knew that salsa from canned tomatoes could taste just as good as fresh. It had a good kick to it because I used tomatoes with jalapenos but if you want it milder, just use plain canned petite diced tomatoes.


1 14.5 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes with jalapenos
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt to taste

Yields a good size serving of salsa for 4-5

Time: 10 minute prep and 30 minute chill time.


Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until desired consistency. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.