Sunday, February 28, 2010

Parmesan Crisps with Pancetta and Roma Tomato Salsa

Michelle and I saw these on the Food Network on Guy Fieri's show. We thought they'd make a great appetizer. And they did!

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/2 cup chopped pancetta
1 cup diced Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons julienne fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
balsalmic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine Parmesan, paprika, and freshly ground black pepper.

On a parchment lined cookie sheet (or Silpat!), add the Parmesan mixture in 2 tablespoon dots, 2 inches apart. Gently pat down into a flat disk.

Place in preheated oven and cook until cheese melts. (about 3 minutes)

Remove from oven and when cheese is cool enough to handle but still moldable, remove and form into small taco type shells.

In a small saute pan cook pancetta until crispy, remove and let cool. When cool, crumble with your hands.

In a small bowl add tomatoes, basil, salt, freshly ground black pepper, olive oil, and toss gently to combine. (A splash of balsalmic vinegar is a GREAT addition)

Add tomato mixture to Parmesan crisps and top with pancetta.

Molten Lava Cakes

Got this from Paula Deen and altered it just a little bit. I had to make 8 servings, so it was a bit tricky to scale it... The recipe below serves 6.

6 (1-ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli)
2 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli)
10 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange liqueur (I used Kahlua instead)
granulated sugar

(* I made these early in the day and put them in the fridge. Be sure to take them out an hour before baking if they are in the fridge.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Grease 6 (6-ounce) custard cups (I used the Pampered Chef little prep bowls) with shortening and coat well with granulated sugar.

Melt the chocolates and butter in the microwave, or in a double boiler. Add the flour and sugar to chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and liqueur. Divide the batter evenly among the custard cups. (Cover and put into refrigertor at this point, if you are making them ahead.)

Place in the oven and bake for 14 minutes. (Since mine were still a little cool from the frig, I baked 17 minutes, but could probably have gone even longer.) The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates. Use knife to help lift up the cup and release the cake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Perfect Dinner Party Menu

So last night we hosted a dinner party for Doug's partners and spouses. I have been planning to throw a dinner party whenever they finally went full time with Chrisso. So, basically I've been planning this party for over a year...

It was everything I'd dreamed of. :) Doug went to a local butcher to get some *really* good steaks and we researched quite a bit on how to cook the perfect indoor steak. See my notes on the steak and couscous recipe for details.

Here's the menu:
* Parmesan Crisps with Pancetta and Roma Tomato Salsa
* Bruschetta (used extra tomato salsa from above recipe on toasted baguette)
* Steak with Spinach Couscous
* Homemade rolls with cinnamon butter (Tracy brought these - yum!)
* Molten Lava Cakes
* Lots of great wine! (and sparkling grape juice)
- Villa Antinori Toscana 2005
- the Little Penguin Pinot Noir 2008
- Aquila D'Oro Chianti 2008
- Brown County Winery Blackberry Wine (the BEST dessert wine ever)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blueberry Crumb Bars

I make these with a 16 oz. bag of frozen blueberries instead of the fresh and it turns out just fine. I usually thaw the unopened bag by putting it in a bowl of hot water and then drain out the juice. This could be dessert with ice cream or as a breakfast treat! (Taken from allrecipes.)


1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup shortening
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and cinnamon, if desired. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the shortening and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jo's Rosemary Bread

This tastes just like the bread at Macaroni Grill. Yummy!

1 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start. When finished, shape into round or oval shape and place on greased pan to rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

I tried out Money Saving Mom's Bread Machine Cinnamon Roll recipe for Valentines Day and boy was it a hit!

Here is her recipe:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm milk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten plus 2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups flour (Add a bit more if dough seems too wet after first few minutes of kneading in the bread machine.)
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons bread machine yeast

2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup brown sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
4 tablespoons (or less) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put the dough ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed and run on the dough cycle. After the dough cycle is finished, roll the dough into a large rectangle* and spread it with 2 Tablespoons melted butter and 2/3 cup brown sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon cinnamon. *(I split this in half and rolled two rectangles to make it more manageable)

Roll up and cut into 10-15 rolls* and place in two greased round cake pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until browned. Spread the icing on as soon as they come out of the oven. *(These looked little and sparse to have 5-6 in a pan, but man did they rise and plump up!)

You can also cover the unbaked rolls with plastic wrap, stick them in the refrigerator overnight, and then bake in the morning.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

30 Minute Pizza Dough

I got this recipe from and have used it countless times. You can have a pizza ready-to-eat in 30 minutes or less and the crust is GOOD. I've also used this crust for breadsticks and calzones with great results.

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups flour
Tomato Sauce, cheese and toppings

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the rest of the ingredients in and mix.

Dump onto a floured surface .

Knead into a smooth dough (five minutes or so).

Roll out and press down onto a greased pizza pan.

Add toppings.

Bake at 450 degrees F. for around 12-15 minutes until the crust looks crispy and lightly browned.

90 Minute Rolls

This recipe is on the Internet in many forms. The following is how I make them. It is NO FAIL and delicious.

2 - 2.5 cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons butter

1. Mix 3/4 cup flour, sugar, salt and undissolved yeast in Kitchen Aid mixer bowl with paddle attachment.

2. Heat milk, water and margarine to 120 F. - 130 F. (hot, but not unbearable)

3. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of mixer.

4. Add 1/4 cup flour. Beat at high speed 2 minutes.

5. Switch to dough hook attachment and add in just enough additional flour to make soft dough. Knead with dough hook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add in flour bit by bit so that it doesn't stick too much to sides of bowl.

6. Turn oven on just enough to kick on the heat.

7. On a well-floured surface, divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape into balls. Place in greased 8-inch round pan.

8. Cover rolls with clean towel. Turn off oven (should be warm) and close door; let rise 30 minutes.

10. Uncover rolls.

11. Turn oven to 375 F. Bake 20 minutes or until done. Remove from pan to cool. Serve warm.

Yield: 8 dinner rolls

Potato, Broccoli and Cheese Soup

I made this soup during my Eat from the Pantry challenge, in an effort to use up some frozen broccoli and potatoes that I had on hand. It was really quite good and I will definitely make it again. I think it would freeze well. (Taken from

1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 pounds peeled and cubed potatoes
5 cups boiling water + 4 cubes chicken bouillon OR 4 cups chicken stock
1 lb frozen broccoli (cooked and drained) * 1 pound fresh broccoli = 2 heads
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In a large stock pot saute onion in butter. Add potatoes, water and bouillon cubes/stock. Cover, bring to boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove tough outer skin of broccoli stems and cook broccoli (or nuke frozen broccoli). Once cooked add to soup.

In a blender or food processor puree half of the soup and return to stock pot. Season with salt and pepper.

Add cheese and heat soup through until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

Serves: 6