Friday, June 19, 2015

Family Cooks Individual lasagna

One of my favorite cookbooks is the Family Cooks. They have a fun website also. We have made numerous recipes that we have loved but this one is a favorite of ours. It is personal lasagna made in a cupcake tin. You can put it in a 9 X 9 and bake if you like but they individuals are so fun. Children can make this recipe! Bonus.

Ravioli Cupcakes
Makes 12

2 Tb olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed but not dry)
24 large round frozen ravioli (I used cheese)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
4 cups tomato sauce (or spaghetti sauce)
1 1/2 cup grated mozzarella

1. Preheat oven 400 degrees.
2. Boil ravioli for half the time given in the directions. Drain well.
3. Heat olive oil and add spinach and garlic together. When warm take off heat and let cool. Add egg and Parmesan cheese into spinach.
4. Spoon 1 Tb of sauce into muffin cups. Top with ravioli. Top with spinach then mozzarella cheese. Tuck a ravioli on top and finally a spoonful of sauce. I added more spinach on top.
5. Bake 20 minute until bubbly.
6. Serve with remaining sauce that is heated up.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Coconut Whole Wheat Cookies

Mel's Kitchen Cafe shares another great recipe. This is a fun change with great flavor from the coconut oil. I love anything whole wheat. These cookies are best same day.

I have a baking helper today. She is great in the kitchen. We made cookies, brownies, and muffins today for Maggie and Sadie's open house concert. They are raising money to go to Europe on a school art tour. So exciting.

 Coconut Oil Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, soft but not melted (see note)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups (11.5 ounces) white whole wheat flour (see note)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups quick oatmeal
  • 1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and coconut oil until light in color, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and whip the mixture for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt, and oatmeal until barely combined - there should be a lot of streaks of dry ingredients remaining. Add the chocolate chips and mix until combined.
  3. Scoop and roll the cookie dough into 1-inch (or so) balls and place 1-2 inches apart on a lined (with parchment or a silpat liner) or greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are lightly golden and set but the middles are still soft.
  5. Let the cookies sit for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheets after removing them from the oven before using a spatula to place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sausage and Pesto Ziti Bake

This is so wonderful! My coworkers thought it was a leftover from a restaurant. My neighbors thought it was so good that it was the main menu item on our church brunch and the next Sunday ladies knew me as the ziti recipe lady. Another great recipe find on Mel's blog.

Baked Pesto Ziti with Sausage

  • 1 pound ziti noodles
  • 1 pound Italian turkey or chicken sausage, casings removed (I used regular sausage)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (I used 3-4 cloves)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 9 ounces baby spinach
  • 15-ounces ricotta cheese (I used cottage cheese)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ziti and cook until al dente. Drain.
  3. While the pasta is boiling, in a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat, add the turkey sausage, onion and garlic and cook until the sausage is cooked through, adding a bit of salt and pepper to taste (the amount will depend on the seasonings in the sausage). While it cooks, break up the sausage into smaller pieces. Drain any excess grease if needed.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, pesto and salt and pepper to taste (I added about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Simmer for 10-12 minutes. Add the spinach, stirring until it cooks down a bit into the hot sauce, 1-2 minutes.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella cheese and 1 1/4 cups of the Parmesan cheese.
  6. In the prepared baking dish, pour in the drained noodles. Dollop the ricotta mixture over the top of the noodles. Spread the sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese (1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan).
  7. Bake until heated through and golden around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let stand 5-7 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: slightly adapted from the Food Network by way of Mel's friend Kim in MD (best food advice giver ever!)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The King's Whole Wheat Brownies

I thought I have found my favorite and go to brownie in my brownie challenge. That was until I made King Arthur's Flour Whole Wheat Brownies! WOW. I love these brownies. Great texture and flavor. The only thing is they are an overnight wait brownie!! That is hard to do. I am not a planner and when the brownie need hits me I usually want them right this moment. These are worth the wait till the next day.
King Arthur's flour is a great baking resource. They have a blog, call in baking support, wonderful cookbooks, and wonderful online store with supplies.
 The Baking King's Whole Wheat Brownies
These whole-wheat brownies are the treat we serve when we're trying to convince folks that baking with whole grains doesn't have to be an exercise in deprivation! Moist, rich, and deeply, darkly chocolate, these brownies are the ones to go through life with. We discovered something interesting when sampling these. Their texture is greatly improved if you wait 24 hours before cutting them. Why? The wait gives the wheat bran a chance to soften and "disappear," texture-wise.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (I use 1/2 tea folger's decaf)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour  (I grind my own wheat)
  • 2 cups semisweet chips


  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan; line the pan with parchment paper if desired.
  2. 2. In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine.
  3. 3. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly just till it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F) but not bubbling. Don't worry if it separates; just stir it briefly to recombine a bit. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
  4. 4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder if using, and vanilla.
  5. 5. Add the eggs, stirring till smooth.
  6. 6. Then add the flour and chips, again stirring till smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. 7. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, until a cake tester or sharp knife poked into the center reveals wet crumbs, but not raw batter. The brownies should feel set on the edges and in the center. Remove them from the oven, and cool completely on a rack.
  8. 8. Cover and let sit overnight before cutting and serving; this gives the bran a chance to soften and become "invisible" in your mouth.
  9. Yield: 2 dozen 2" brownies.

Tips from our bakers

  • You can add 1 cup of nuts, or try other flavor combinations that appeal to you: toffee chips, or white chocolate, peanut butter, cappuccino, or mint chips. The total volume of mix-ins shouldn't exceed 3 cups, and may increase baking time by 3 to 5 minutes.
  • If you want to cut shapes out of the brownies, line the baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper. Use a paper or metal spring clip to secure the parchment to the edge of the pan so it doesn't flop down on the batter as it bakes. After the brownies are cool, you can use the parchment to lift the slab of brownies out of the pan, making them easier to frost or glaze, and cut.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Tupelo Honey Garlic Ranch Dressing

Now that summer is here with sweltering temperatures, we have started eating wonderful salads. This recipe for Spinach Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese, Peppered Bacon, and Garlic Ranch Dressing is another amazing recipe from my Tupelo Honey Cookbook. I use canned beets and feta cheese. I do love what peppered bacon adds to a salad. This dressing recipe is amazing!!

 We have added Mandarin oranges and green beans to our spinach salad too. Other wonderful recipes from this cookbook are:
Pinto Beans
Triple Berry Pie
Cookbook Review
Sweet Potato Pudding
Best Chicken Pot Pie

Garlic Ranch Dressing
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup mayo
2 Tb chopped fresh parsley (I used dried)
2 Tb chopped fresh chives (I didn't have)
3 Tb roasted garlic puree ( I didn't use)
1 clove garlic, minced ( I used double because I didn't have the paste)
1/2 tea sea salt
1/2 tea fresh ground pepper

Recipe says blend all in a food processor for 30 seconds. I whisked mine in a bowl. I also halved the recipe for us. The garlic flavor gets stronger as it sits to if you can make a day ahead or just have some on had that is best.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Mini Cream Puffs

I saw amazing pictures of mini cream puffs on Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I was in my math class and had taken a break to check out dinner options and found the recipe. I have always loved cream puffs and eclairs. These are mini and have a layer of whipped cream with the pudding mixture. Yum.

My favorite eclair/cream puff recipe is still from King Arthur.  I posted my favorite puff pastry and filling recipes when I made hoodoos. I really like the flavor of all components in my previous post a lot better.

I did like the addition of whipped cream (the below recipe for that is a keeper) and the fact that they are minis. So fun.

The recipe did not call for chocolate but I think they were a tad bland and needed some Zing! Ganache is the perfect zing. 

 Mel's Mini Cream Puffs
    Cream Puff Shells:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs 
    Vanilla Cream Filling:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
    Sweetened Whipped Cream:
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling
  1. Place an oven rack in the lower-middle position. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 24-cup mini muffin tin (or a 48-cup tin if you have one; otherwise you'll bake two batches of cream puffs).
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and butter to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula until the mixture forms a ball.
  3. Scrape the warm mixture into a mixing bowl (or into the bowl of an electric stand mixer) and beat with a handheld electric mixer until the dough has cooled slightly, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating constantly, until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  4. Scoop a heaping 1/2 tablespoon into each mini muffin tin (about 1/2 full). I use a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon and do it the old-fashioned way (using my finger to scoop it out into the muffin tin). I tried a pastry bag but it was messy and hard to approximate how much I needed for each little tin.
  5. Once the mini muffin cups are filled, wet your fingers and dab them on the top of the mounded dough to smooth out any rough spots and even out the dough (this will help them bake into a pretty rounded top).
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes until the tops of the shells are lightly golden and they are baked all the way through (if there is any doughy moisture inside the shells still, they will probably collapse).
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and working quickly, use a thin wooden skewer to pierce the side of each cream puff and pull it out of the tin and onto a cooling rack. Piercing a little hole in the cream puff will allow any steam to escape. I try to poke the cream puff shell right in the middle where I'll be splitting it anyway to add the cream.
  8. Repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining dough.
  9. For the vanilla cream filling, in a medium saucepan, bring the milk and 1/4 cup powdered sugar to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Slowly ladle or drizzle in the hot milk mixture to the bowl while whisking constantly (this tempers the eggs so they don't curdle and cook into hard bits). Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring and/or whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
  10. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
  11. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (this part is optional but can help remove any lumps) into a clean bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the top and refrigerate until cold. The vanilla cream filling can be made up to a week in advance.
  12. For the sweetened whipped cream, whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks (I like to use my Blendtec for whipping cream; super simple and takes just a minute or two).
  13. Split each cooled cream puff shell in half right at the seam where the puffy top meets the smooth bottom. Spoon vanilla cream into the bottom of each shell and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and place the top back on. Lightly dust all the cream puffs with powdered sugar.
  14. The cream puffs can be fully assembled up to a day in advance (they actually taste better if assembled ahead of time). I store them uncovered in the refrigerator up to a day before serving.

Recipe Source: cream puffs adapted from Sally’s tried-and-true recipe, which is very similar to this recipe I posted years ago, except made them into mini size, vanilla cream adapted slightly from allrecipes (used powdered sugar for a smoother, silkier pastry cream)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

ABC Crackle Cookie Challenge

I love a good challenge. I especially love a food challenge. I have done some that I have blogged about but most of the time when I am cooking I just go crazy and make 2 of things..soup, salad name it. I love to know which is better. I have done a coconut cake challenge, brownie challenge, a funny bread challenge, and now this crinkle/crackle cookie challenge with my ABC baking group. Cookie 1 recipe comes from Scientifically Sweet. I have another recipe that I have used for years and was excited to make both recipes and see which one is better.

On the right (in this photo) we have the scientifically sweet cookie and the left my Crockett Chocolate Crinkle recipe. I got that recipe when we first got married at a church potluck. It is sentimental.

Helpful hint: All cookies that needed to be rolled never made my list to make. Too much work! But I found that I could put all the rolled cookies in a huge bowl and rolled them around all at one time. Presto! all done in one quick shake.

On the left in this photo we see the scientifically sweet. The powdered sugar doesn't stick as sinks into the cookie while cooking. Both are beautiful and bake nicely. Both smell divine. I have been loving cookies on Mel's Kitchen Cafe blog but didn't see a crinkle cookie recipe or would have made three batches. The craziness here is that one of the other ABC bakers, Karin. talked about a rye cookie recipe. I just pulled those out of the oven too! It is a sickness this baking challenge of mine.

Blind taste testers:
MT: Cookie 2 Loved my original recipe. She said it is "So much better than the other one"
JT: Cookie 1 (Scientifically sweet recipe) "This rocked my tastes more expensive. Is it?"
CT: Cookie 2. I love the powdered sugar one! Original recipe.
ST:  Cookie 2. I like the one with more powdered sugar. Original recipe.
ME: Why would I make the crinkle cookie now that I have had the rye cookie?

Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies

Yield: 4 dozen cookies
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes, plus chilling time
  • 1 lb chopped bittersweet chocolate (70%), (I used 5 bars of LINDT)
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    ¾ cup whole-grain dark rye flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon fine salt
    4 large eggs, at room temperature
    1½ cups muscovado sugar ( I used 1 1/2 cup brown sugar and 3 TB molasses)
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
     flaky fleur de sel, for topping
1. Melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the rye flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
3. Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed, adding the sugar a little bit at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated. Turn the mixer to high and whip until the eggs have nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.
4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the melted chocolate-butter mixture and the vanilla. Mix to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, then add in the flour mixture just until combined. At this point the dough will be very soft and loose, which is normal; it will firm up as it chills.
5. Refrigerate dough until it just firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. 

6. Place rolled balls 2 inches apart. Top each mound of dough with a few flakes of sea salt, pressing gently so it adheres.
7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (I baked for 12 min), until the cookies have completely puffed up and have a smooth bottom and rounded top. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let cool slightly (the cookies may flatten a bit), then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. The cookies with keep up to 3 days in an airtight container. (cookies will be gone and you will not need to store)