Monday, December 30, 2013

French Bread in a New French Bread Pan-Love it!



I got a new French-Bread pan for Christmas and used it Sunday to make two loaves of beautiful French Bread.  I also made a big pot of homemade Spaghetti Sauce.  What a feast!  (Like we need to be feasting AT ALL with all of the Christmas goodies we've been stuffing ourselves with lately LOL?)

I made this  dough the old fashioned way.  I usually make dough in my bread machine but decided to stick to the basics and kneaded it myself.  It was a little sticky to knead but I made it work and the bread itself was divine!

My new bread pan worked out great!  I have tried using foil logs, spraying them with cooking spray and baking loaves of French bread on a cookie sheet wedged between the foil logs, but that never worked out just perfectly.  This will work much better! I also love the little holes in the pan which crisps the bottom of the loaves.

We loved the thick slices, still slightly warm from the oven, buttered with our spaghetti!  Mmmmm.

I plan on spreading leftover slices with garlic butter, sprinkling with a little mozzarella, and freezing flat for toasting to serve with batches of soup, stews, and pasta dishes.  I learned all about that at the Hickery Holler Farm Blog also.  She has great ideas for putting real food on the table.

Here's the pan I used and which you can find on Amazon HERE:



 And here is how I made French Bread AT HOME MY WAY:


French Bread
 

(Makes two loaves.  Leftovers freeze beautifully.)

Dough:
  • 3 cups warm (hot but no hurt) water
  • 1 Tablespoon Active yeast (1 packet) (not quick rise)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 7 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Brush on unbaked loaves before final rise in the bread pan for golden crusts (optional):

1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk

Instructions:

Measure water.  Make sure it feels like very warm bath water (hot but no hurt).  Add the yeast and stir gently to dissolve.  Add sugar.  Stir gently to dissolve.  Set a timer for 5 minutes while you mix the dry ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl:

Measure 3 cups of flour.  Add the 2 teaspoons salt.  Mix well.

After the timer goes off, the yeast/water/sugar mixture should be frothy like rootbeer.  (If it is not, your yeast is not working.)  The water might be cloudy and swirling and not super frothy but you should see some action in there if you got it right.

Stir gently the water/yeast/sugar mixture again and add to the flour/salt.  Stir with a big spoon until mostly smooth.  Continue adding 3 more cups flour and stirring until you cannot stir any longer.  (Stir between adding each cup).

Add the remaining cup of flour and start working that in with your hands, kneading.  If the dough is super sticky, add small bits of flour and knead in the bowl, folding the dough and pressing it to knead.  Knead for 5 minutes.  (I even moistened my hands with a little olive oil because my dough was so sticky but adding flour can make the bread too dense so try not to add any more than you have to.)

Cover the bowl with a warm/wet/squeezed out kitchen towel and let the dough rise for an hour or so in a place free of cool drafts.  The dough should double in size.

Spray your pans with cooking spray, (gently) divide the dough in half and form into long loaves .

Brush the loaves with the milk/egg mixture (optional) for golden color.

Preheat the oven to 350 while the loaves are rising.  They should rise about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees (fully preheated) for approximately 30-35 minutes.  Let cool some before slicing.  Slice with electric knife for the best looking slices. 

Cool completely before bagging to avoid a build up of moisture in the bag.

Serve, eat or freeze for later use.

Ready for the oven!
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina

Friday, December 27, 2013

Dried Beef Cheese Ball



For just about as long as we have been married, we have spent Christmas Eve with my husband's mom.  Sometimes she has lots of Christmas Eve guests and sometimes she has just a few.  This year she had a bumper crop.  The living room was full of laughing cousins, lots of stories, and even more good food.

My mother-in-law always makes wonderful little BBQ hotdogs on Christmas Eve.  My sister-in-law and I LOVE them!  I haven't posted that recipe but they are just a jar of grape jelly plus a jar of mustard and regular hotdogs cut into fourths.  She cooks them slowly in a little crock for hours until they are thick and yummy.

We are big on hot dogs apparently because the other favorite dish are regular old pigs in a blanket cut small and made with canned biscuits and hot dogs.  Those are always the first things to go.

This year, my daughter, Rachel, made a Dried Beef Cheese Ball.  We love all kinds of cheese balls but this is a particular favorite.  We decided that I definitely needed to post this recipe so that we can find it to make in the future.  We even served the leftovers of this cheese ball on Christmas morning and it was a great savory snack instead of sweets for breakfast.

Here's how Rachel made Dried Beef Cheese Ball AT HOME MY WAY:

Dried Beef Cheese Ball
 
  • 3 (8 ounce) blocks of cream cheese (we used 1 regular + 2 nonfat blocks of cream cheese)
  • 1 jar Armour brand Sliced Dried Beef (2.25 ounces)
  • 4 Tablespoons sliced green onions (approximately 3)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Accent
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce 
  • Plastic Wrap to line a small bowl for forming the cheese ball, serving plate, and crackers.
Instructions:
 
Soften cream cheese in the microwave approximately 30 seconds in a micro safe mixing bowl until you can stir.
 
Chop the dried beef in small pieces - do not add yet.  Dried beef is found near the tuna in the grocery isle and looks like this:
 
 
Chop the green onion until you have approximately 4 Tablespoons - do not add yet.
 
Add the Accent and worcestershire sauce to the softened cream cheese.  Then, stir in the onion and chopped, dried beef.  Mix well.
 
Place a piece of plastic wrap in a small bowl (the size of your cheese ball).  Dump in the cheeseball mixture and using the plastic wrap to fold over, press the cheese ball into the bowl. 
 
Refrigerate for a few hours to harden.
 
To serve, open the plastic wrap and place the bowl upside down on a serving plate.  Remove the plastic wrap.
 
Serve with crackers of your choice.
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sweet Potato Bake



I have made this recipe for Sweet Potato Bake for many years.  I originally found this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine. 

I didn't grow up eating sweet potato casserole so this was new for me.  (When I was little in the south, we normally ate sweet potatoes that were baked and served split in half with butter - with the potato cut in hatch marks so that the butter would soak in). 

When Taste of Home first came out, I LIVED by every issue.  I loved pouring over the magazines and finding new recipes for comfort food to serve to my family.  This is one of the recipes that has survived many family dinners!  Believe it or not, every time I make Sweet Potato Bake, I drag out ALL of my magazines to find the recipe (I write my favorite recipes on the covers in permanent marker).  It's a huge process because I have so many magazines!   Thinking ahead, I am blogging this recipe so I can find it easier.  

I have tweaked the recipe a bit to fit my tastes.  I will link to the original recipe HERE.  I prefer a more dense amount of sweet potatoes so I use less eggs and since the sweet potatoes provide a delicious amount of sweetness on their own, I have also decreased the sugar.  You can make it according to the original recipe or according to my version here, but I can guaranty this will be a winner-winner at your next family dinner!

Here's how I make Sweet Potato Bake AT HOME MY WAY:

Sweet Potato Bake

  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
TOPPING:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons cold butter

Directions:

Bake sweet potatoes @ 350 degrees for 1 hour or until they start oozing goodness from the skins.  (Let cool completely before mixing.)  This means they are ready.  (Just place them whole, in a pan, uncovered, unwrapped, peeling still on - to bake.)  (You can do this ahead of time.)

Peel and/or scoop out all of the sweet potato into a mixing bowl, mash or mix with a mixer.  Add remaining ingredients (except topping ingredients) and blend with a mixer until smooth.  Place in a sprayed casserole dish.

Topping:  Cut cold butter into brown sugar and flour until crumbly, stir in pecans.  Sprinkle over the unbaked casserole.  You can double the topping if you like more of this nutty sweetness!

BAKE at 325 degrees (preheated oven) for 45 minutes. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Quicky (Chunky) Spaghetti Sauce





This recipe for Quicky (Chunky) Spaghetti Sauce is my very favorite spaghetti sauce.  My mom always called it "Quicky Sauce."  That's because it doesn't have to simmer for hours like some homemade spaghetti sauce recipes. 

Is it as quick as jarred sauce?  Well... if you are browning hamburger anyway, its only a matter of dumping in some cans and a few spices, so it's pretty close!  The taste will win you over!  It's delicious!

This sauce is deliciously heady with garlic, tomatoes and mushrooms, with a little bit of basil and sugar.  It comes out chunky but the sauce itself is thin.  With a big pot of buttery pasta, it doesn't get much better than this.

Here's how I make Quicky (Chunky) Spaghetti Sauce AT HOME MY WAY:

 
Quicky (Chunky) Spaghetti Sauce
 
  • 1/2 to 1 pound of hamburger, cooked and drained
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  •  1 regular can diced tomatoes (do not drain)  (fresh tomatoes work great also)
  • 1 small can of mushrooms-drained (I use stems & pieces=cheap)
  • 8 ounces of water (use the tomato sauce can for this)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Directions:
 
Brown the hamburger in a tall skillet, drain.  Sprinkle with the onion powder.  Add the tomato sauce + 1 can of water, the diced tomatoes (not drained), the drained can of mushrooms and the spices.  Salt & pepper.  Cook/simmer (should be bubbling well) uncovered about 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
 
(I cook mine (bubbling hard -stirring) about 15 minutes and then start my pasta water.  By the time the pasta is done and drained, the whole thing is ready to go!)
 
 
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina



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