Sunday, July 31, 2011

Romano's Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread

Today is my 6th wedding anniversary with Chris. In some years we exchange gifts and others we don't. This year, we went the gift route and I got to open up a shiny new 12-cup Kitchen Aid food processor which is something I've had my eye on for a LONG time. I've got a mini food processor which works great for grating parmesan cheese (but I really prefer using a microplane anyway), but always find myself ruling out some recipes because they call for a larger food processor. I'm excited to try out more bread recipes, bigger batches of hummus, perfectly slicing potatoes for scalloped potatoes, and whipping up our favorite salsa in the processor instead of the blender.

To celebrate our anniversary, we went to the Tornado Steakhouse in downtown Madison. This was the first time we've eaten there, and we had a few drinks, so of course we were ooing and awing over pretty much everything and this included the bread plate that arrived before our salads. One of the breads was a yummy rosemary bread, so I decided that I had to take my new food processor for a test drive by whipping up a batch of rosemary bread myself. Also puts good use to the mound of rosemary growing in the garden right now.

I found this recipe by googling "rosemary bread food processor" and honestly hadn't even thought about looking for a recipe for the Macaroni Grill bread...I haven't eaten there in years! But, when I saw the recipe in the search results I remembered how good the bread was, and seeing the great reviews I decided to give it a try. The recipe came together easily and if I made it again, I'd go ahead and use all 2.5 cups of flour right away since the dough was very sticky with 2 cups. And, I'd add all the rosemary to the dough rather than saving a tablespoon for the tops. Other than that, it's a great recipe that yields two tender loaves of bread. Perfect for eating one and saving another!

Here's the recipe on food.com: Romano's Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread Recipe
I've modified it below just slightly to reflect the changes I'd make.

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter, separated (1 Tbs for the bread dough, 1 Tbs for brushing the tops of the loaves after baking)
  • Kosher salt for finishing
Directions
  1. Place yeast, sugar and water in large bowl or food processor and allow mixture to become bubbly, about 5 minutes. Mix in 1 T butter, salt, and flour. Add one tablespoon of the fresh chopped rosemary. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or in food processor about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. (dough will still be fairly tacky with 2.5 cups, and that is okay)
  2. Oil a bowl, put dough in it and cover with a towel. Let dough rise in a warm place for one hour or until doubled. Punch down dough and divide in half. Let dough rest about 5 minutes.
  3. Spray baking pan with cooking spray. Shape the dough into 2 small, round loaves. Let loaves rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter. Carefully remove bread from oven, brush with melted butter and a few hearty pinches of kosher salt.
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Friday, July 29, 2011

Spicy, Pressed Carving Board Chicken Sandwich

This is by far one of the best sandwiches I've ever made. And, aside from a BLT with a garden-fresh tomato, this is one of the best sandwiches I've ever eaten. You all should know, I work for Kraft Foods Oscar Mayer...so it's only natural that I'd use some of the great food my company makes to develop a sandwich that Chris has actually requested more than once (that never happens with sandwiches, even BLTs... I take that back. He requests burgers a lot). It makes my life easier that I can buy most of the ingredients for this sandwich at the company store in my office building too!

There are a few things that make this sandwich awesome. First, the bacon. Who doesn't like an excuse to eat bacon? Crispier the better. Second is the chicken. Carving Board Rotisserie Chicken is is what makes this a winner for Chris. Chris isn't a cold cut eater, but this Carving Board Chicken is moist and juicy like the chicken we'd get if we had bought a rotisserie chicken and sliced it ourselves, but better because someone else sliced it. And last, but certainly not least, the bread. I know you all have experienced a grilled panini that tears the roof of your mouth up because it's dry or over-grilled. I don't know about you, but for me, that wrecks the entire panini experience. The bread I use here is ciabatta bread and when the exterior is buttered and grilled (just like a grilled cheese) you'll end up with a crispy shell and a soft bready interior. No painful eating experience! Only deliciousness!

(Did I mention, I work for Kraft Foods Oscar Mayer? Sorry folks, I have to say that.)

Here's the "recipe" for two sandwiches

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, cut into 2 sandwiches and split (the loaf I found was at Target in their bakery/fresh bread section)
  • 1/2 Tbs butter
  • 2-3 Tbs ranch dressing (I used Kraft Ranch)
  • Couple pinches of cayenne pepper (omit if you don't want it too spicy)
  • 2-3 slices pepper jack cheese (I used the new Kraft Big Slice pepper jack cheese)
  • 1 mashed avocado
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked to crispy (3-4 minutes in the microwave)
  • 1/2 package Carving Board Rotisserie Chicken

Directions:
  1. For each sandwich, butter the outsides of the ciabatta bread. Spread 1 to 1.5 Tbs of ranch dressing on one side of bread. Sprinkle with pinch of cayenne pepper. Spread 1/2 avocado and top with the chicken, two slices of bacon and pepper jack cheese.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat place the sandwich in the pan with the cheese side closest to the bottom (this will help the cheese get all melty). Using a plate or strong spatula, press the sandwich down to flatten a bit. After 3-4 minutes carefully flip the sandwich and grill the other side, continuing to press the sandwich. If the cheese isn't melting, cover the pan with a lid briefly.
  3. When each side has gotten as crispy as you want it, remove from heat, cut in half and serve.
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bubbly Homemade Lasagna

Lasagna is so good. And this recipe is very easy. My mom taught me how to make lasagna and this recipe is essentially the same way she's been making it for years. It's what I make when I want comfort food, lunch the following day (or week!) or leftovers the following night. I've got this recipe down and can whip it up on a weeknight with the help of no-boil noodles. Or if I want a particularly noodle-y batch I'll spend a little more time to boil up those thick chewy lasagna noodles. Give this a try and tweak the cheese, amount of sauce, number of layers to your taste. It's very flexible and forgiving.

Here are my tips for building your lasagna:
  • When placing your next layer of noodles, rotate the direction of the noodles. It'll make for a more stable lasagna.
  • Break the no-boil noodles where needed in order to fully cover the pan. It's fine if a no boil noodle overlaps a bit, but work to have just one layer of noodles so that they cook through.
  • No boil noodles work because they absorb the moisture from the sauce in order to cook. So for this lasagna to turn out (especially your top layer) make sure that the noodles are covered in sauce. It doesn't have to be a lot of sauce though (unless you want it that way)!
  • No boil noodles require more sauce than the noodles you boil before assembling. The two jars of sauce should be more than plenty for a saucy 9x13 pan using no-boil noodles. You'll probably only need 1 jar if you boil noodles ahead.

The recipe below will make a saucy, cheesy 9x13 pan of lasagna or 8x8 pan with some leftover noodles, filling & cheese. About 3-4 layers is usually all that fits in my baking dishes. All measurements are approximate so eyeball the cheese in each layer adding more or less than you want. Just remember to save enough sauce for the top layer!

Ingredients:
  • 1 package of no-boil lasagna noodles (Barilla)
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (make sure to cut this in half if making an 8x8 pan)
  • 16z cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs Italian seasoning
  • 2-4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 slices provolone cheese, torn into pieces (or use shredded provolone)
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prep the sauce: Brown ground beef in a pan, drain fat and add spaghetti sauce heating it through.
  3. Prep the cottage cheese: Combine cottage cheese, egg and Italian seasoning in a bowl stirring to combine.
  4. Begin layering the lasagna: In your baking dish spread a very thin layer of sauce on the bottom before adding any noodles. Add the no bake noodles on top of the sauce. On top of the noodles add a layer of sauce. Dot the layer of sauce with 4 (or so) heaping tablespoons of the cottage cheese mixture, spreading it out just a little bit (this isn't pretty. It doesn't have to cover the entire pan). Sprinkle on shredded mozzarella. Top mozzarella with one layer of torn provolone (about 2 slices worth). Sprinkle a little parmesan. Top with another layer of noodles and repeat the layering process described above. For your last layer cover the lasagna noodles evenly with sauce and top only with the mozzarella, provolone and parmesan. You will not need the cottage cheese here.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Check periodically to make sure the cheese isn't browning too quickly. If it is, cover with foil.
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lemon Sandwich Cookies


These are very refreshing cookies, especially when stored in the fridge and eaten cold. The cookie dough itself is pretty delicate, and warrants being baked on a silpat. And, it's easy to over-bake them so keep a very close eye on them. I would add more lemon zest than is called for in the recipe. You can't go wrong.

Recipe from MarthaStewart.com

Ingredients:
Cookies:
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for sprinkling
  • Creamy Lemon Filling (recipe below directions)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, lemon zest, and salt until combined. With mixer on low, add flour (dough will still be stiff); finish mixing with a wooden spoon.
  2. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, pat into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour (and up to 3 days).
  3. Unwrap dough; place on a lightly floured piece of parchment or waxed paper. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough about 1/8 inch thick (if dough cracks, let it warm up slightly).
  4. Cut out cookies with a 1 1/2-inch round cutter (reroll scraps once, chilling of too soft). Place 1 inch apart on two baking sheets; sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake until barely beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  5. Form sandwiches: Place about 1 teaspoon creamy lemon filling (recipe below)between two cookies, sugared sides facing out; squeeze gently.

Creamy Lemon Filling:
  • 1 package (4 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, mix cream cheese and zest until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup confectioners' sugar, mixing until smooth. Mix in remaining sugar as necessary to create a firm but spreadable filling.
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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

These muffins are delicious. I don't think my husband had any clue that there was zucchini in this. The key is to finely shred the zucchini before combining in the recipe. I also liked using chunky chocolate pieces to make it feel even more indulgent. These are a great way to use up summer's bounty of zucchini!

Recipe from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease or line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl beat the eggs. Beat in the sugar and oil. Add the cocoa, vanilla, zucchini and stir well.
  3. Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. Mix until just moist.
  4. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins filling 2/3 of the way full. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. Store loosely covered.
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