Friday, August 22, 2014

Metropolitan Cake - Box Mix Makeover!

With just a few simple ingredients, you can turn a box cake mix into something special!  This cake is a copycat of my favorite Entenmann's cakes that has been discontinued!  No fear, it's simple to make yourself!

1 box French Vanilla Cake Mix
1 container Homestyle Cream Cheese Frosting
Seedless Red Raspberry Jam
Bake cake according to package directions and let cool completely.  Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.  
Put about 1 cup of jam into a disposable piping bag or zip lock bag and cut off corner of bag.
Pipe lines across frosting.  Take a toothpick and pull through jam and frosting in the opposite direction to make a pattern.  Top with coconut.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bean & Barley Soup

This is a healthy soup that is quick to throw together and tastes like it has simmered for hours.  Barley replaces the pasta here - but this soup tastes like Pasta Fagioli!

4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Basil to taste (dried or fresh)
1 15-ounce can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed
1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 cup quick-cooking barley (or 1-1/2 cups cooked barley)
1 5-ounce package baby spinach
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or medium-high heat.  Add onion, fennel, garlic and basil; cook until vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown, 6-8 minutes.
Stir in the beans, tomatoes, broth and barley.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until barley is tender, about 15 minutes.  Stir in spinach and cook until wilted.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese and pepper.
~Eating Well 2013

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Diner-Style Patty Melt

This diner favorite - ground beef, caramelized onions, and melted cheese between slices of grilled rye bread is easy to make at home.  If you can find fresh Russian Rye, it's the best rye bread!  It's usually found near the Deli and not in the bread aisle of the supermarket.

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 Tbsp. Canola oil
1 large Vidalia onion (or 2 medium yellow), halved and thinly sliced
12 slices Russian Rye bread
12 thin slices cheddar, Swiss or American cheese
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
Pickles for serving

Season the beef with salt and pepper.  Divide the meat into six 1/4 inch patties that are slightly wider and longer than the bread slices.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring until softened and browned, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the onions to a bowl; wipe out the skillet.  Working in 3 batches, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in same skillet over high heat.  Add 2 burger patties and cook, flipping once, until well browned, about 4 minutes.

Top each of 6 bread slices with some of the onions, a cheese slice and burger patty.  Top each burger with another cheese slice and bread slice.  Spread butter over the top and bottom of each sandwich.

Cook the sandwiches, flipping once, until golden brown and warmed throughout.

How to Make a Big Mac at Home

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Spinach-Bacon Mac & Cheese

Tired of the same old mac & cheese?  Crisp applewood smoked bacon and chopped spinach really adds another dimension to our comfort food favorite.

1 lb medium shell macaroni
1 10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed 
4 thick slices applewood smoked bacon
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tbsp. flour
4 cups milk
4 cups shredded sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cook macaroni as directed on package adding spinach for the last minute.  Drain. Cook bacon in large saucepan until crisp.  Remove bacon reserving 1 Tbsp. drippings.
  • Add unsalted butter to drippings.  Add flour; cook and stir until bubbly.  Gradually stir in milk.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir in 3 cups Cheddar and Parmesan and cook and stir until melted.  Add bacon and macaroni mixture.  Mix well.
  • Spoon into 1-1/2 quart casserole.  Top with remaining Cheddar Cheese and a few bits of bacon.  Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Homemade Fig Newtons

I knew if I went to the store and simple bought a package of Fig Newtons, I would probably be disappointed.  Most of our childhood favorites simply don't taste the same any more.  
1 cup finely chopped dried figs
1 cup water
1-1/2 cups apple juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. grated orange zest

Cookie Dough:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

1.  Make the filling:  Combine the figs, water, apple juice and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce to low and simmer for 1-2 hours or until figs are soft and liquid is reduced and syrupy. 

 2.  Transfer to a food processor, add the orange zest and process until smooth.  Let cool.
3.  Make the dough:  Cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for 2-3 minutes on medium speed.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat in.  Add the flour and beat on low speed until the dough comes together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
5.  Divide dough in half.  Keep one half refrigerated while working with first half.  On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 12 x 8 rectangle.  Cut into two strips, each 12 x 4 inches.  Spoon a line of filling down the center of each strip.  Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the edges together.  Place on parchment paper, seam side down.  Repeat with remaining dough.
6.  Pop the logs in the freezer for 10 minutes before slicing.  Using a sharp knife, slice each log into 10 cookies.  Bake 16-20 minutes, until golden.  Remove from oven and cool on rack.

Artisan Cast Iron Dutch Oven Bread

This recipe is a typical one with two rising periods.  Most of this time it's the yeast working and not you! 2 cups water 1...