Wednesday, November 18, 2009

American Sandwich Bread

I've been trying my hand at bread making for the past year and a half.  Most of the recipes come out okay; that is, as long as they are toasted they are edible.  There has yet to be a bread that I will eat out of hand, as a sandwich, in other words untoasted.

That is, until yesterday.  This is the.most.amazing.bread you will ever make.  So yummy I scarfed down a piece or two while I was cutting it for future use.  My husband even texted me on his way to work: "this is the best bread."  In my book, that designates a winner.  Simple ingredients, quick assembly, and out of this world taste equal a bread I'm happy to make weekly or even, daily:)  For great pics of the finished product, head here!

American Sandwich Bread

(The New Best Recipe, pg. 725)

Time: About 2 hours (lots of inactive time)

Yield: One 9-inch loaf


3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm whole milk (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (also called rapid rise)


Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Once the oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain the heat for 10 minutes, then turn off the oven.

Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix the milk, water, butter, honey, and yeast in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the liquid.

When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and satiny, stopping the machine two or three times to scrape dough from the hook, if necessary, about ten minutes. (After five minutes of kneading, if the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and up to 1/4 cup total, until the dough is no longer sticky.) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.

Place the dough in a very lightly oiled large bowl, rubbing the dough around the bowl to coat lightly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes.

Gently press the dough into an 8-inch square that measures 1 inch thick. Starting with the side farthest away from you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed. Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in a warm spot until the dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil 2 cups of water and pour into a baking pan, and place it on the bottom rack. If possible, put the loaf on a rack above the baking pan of water (my oven is much too small to have a loaf of bread on anything but the bottom rack) otherwise put the two pans side by side. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted at an angle from the short end just above the pan rim into the center of the loaf reads 195 degrees, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Grilled Pepperoni Pizza

After we were first married, I was really excited to try and make everything from scratch.  The first thing on the list was pizza dough.  I have a favorite for regular, hand tossed style pizza and calzones and one for pizza on the grill, which is the one I’m talking about here.  I happened upon it in my cooking light one month and no, the recipe was not for pizza on the grill! 

When I was younger and we went camping pizza on the grill was what I looked forward to most and back then I think we just threw a frozen pizza on the grill!  But this one is easy to throw together, does not need a long rising, and is perfect for the grill.

The key to grilling pizza is to make sure you have everything ready before you start.  I like to roll out the dough and then place it on a cookie sheet that is covered with cornmeal.  It’s easier to get the dough onto the grill not to mention much easier for carrying it out TO the grill!

There’s no good way to describe pizza that has been cooked on the grill other than delicious and oh so good.  Try it, you’ll fall in love!

Grilled Pepperoni Pizza
(adapted from Cooking Light)


6 servings (serving size: 1 slice)


  • Sauce:
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 1  (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1  tablespoon  minced fresh parsley (i either omit or use dried)

  • Crust:
  • 1 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1  package quick-rise yeast
  • 1/2  cup  warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  teaspoons  cornmeal

  • Remaining ingredients:
  • 16  slices turkey pepperoni (such as Hormel) (we use regular pork pepperoni, and lots of it!)
  • 1 1/2  cups  (6 ounces) preshredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (we also use lots of cheese!)
  • 2  tablespoons  grated Parmesan cheese


To prepare the sauce, place a small saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Add the dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper, and tomato sauce; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley, and keep warm.
To prepare crust, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water in a large bowl, and let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 1/4 cups flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes), and add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into the dough. If indention remains, the dough has risen enough.)

Preheat oven to 450°.

Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface.

 (this is where the new instructions come in for baking pizza on the grill! ~ take pizza dough on a baking sheet out to the on grill and put the cover down.  After 5 or so minutes, flip the dough while first popping any bubbles that have crept up!  Once it is flipped arm yourself with your sauce, cheese and toppings and begin assembling as quickly as possible.  Put grill cover down and bake for about 5 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and bubbly!)

Place dough on a 12-inch pizza pan or baking sheet coated with cooking spray and sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim. Cover and let rise 10 minutes.

Spread sauce over pizza crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border; top with pepperoni. Sprinkle with cheeses.

Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until crust is puffy and lightly browned. Remove pizza to cutting board; cut into 6 slices.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Croque Monsieur...oui, oui!

Even though I lived in France for part of a summer I never had a croque monsieur.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  But when given the chance to go back, I ordered one within the first 24 hours.  There is something so utterly delicious and comforting about this meal.  It’s a little fussy…it’s French for goodness sakes, but take the time…the end result is so worth it. 

These didn’t stick around for long.  Great alone or paired with a green salad or some soup this sandwich is comforting, salty, gooey and like I said, oh so delicious!

Croque Monsieur

(borrowed from the Barefoot Contessa: Paris)


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • Dijon mustard
  • 8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pasta, Pesto and Peas

This is delicious.  Let me just put that out there before I even begin.  So easy, so simple and yet so utterly good.  Especially when someone cuts a corner and uses jarred pesto…I don’t know who you are talking about…:o  Sometimes on a weeknight, quick and easy is the best way.   Not only is it delicious but it’s fairly healthy as well, unless of course you eat far more than the portion served to you!

Try it, you’ll love it even if you don’t especially care for pesto.  I used the brand Classico and it’s sold at Target and probably every other grocery store and it was oh so good for only $2.99.  You can’t beat that.  And look forward to how I used the rest of the jar…it gets even better!  I changed some things from Ina's recipe, mostly because I just used what I had on hand and I also added some pan fried chicken breasts cut into smaller pieces for some protein.

Pasta, Pesto and Peas (recipe courtesy of Barefoot Contessa)


  • 3/4 pound fusilli pasta
  • 3/4 pound bow tie pasta (i just used bow tie)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups pesto (packaged or see recipe below) bought
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry  didn't use
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise  did not use
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/3 cup pignoli (pine nuts)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignoli, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.


  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pignoli (pine nuts)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
  • 5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups good olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Place the walnuts, pignoli, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.
Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.
To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.
Yield: 4 cups

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cumin Spiced Chicken with Green Chile Sauce

Really Easy...Really Fast...Really Delicious!
There is not a whole lot to this one except the explosion of flavors when it hits your mouth:) In the mood for mexican food, I threw what we had in the pantry together to create this delighful dish. So feel free to substitute with what you have on hand or run to the store, everything in here is relatively cheap and easy to find! Enjoy!
Cumin Spiced Chicken with Green Chile Sauce
(inspired and created by...ME)
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 T ground Cumin
1/2 t ground adobo pepper seasoning (ground red pepper will also work)
a little olive oil, 1 T or so
salt and pepper
1/2 C fresh cilantro
1 can green chiles
1 clove garlic
1/2 t minced jalapeno
1/4 t salt
squeeze of lime
monterrey jack cheese
1. Preheat grill. Combine seasonings in a bowl (cumin, adobo, s&p). Rub chicken down with seasoning. Allow to sit and mellow in the seasoning up to 24 hours.
2. Put chicken on grill...cook until no longer pink, flipping accordingly. In a food processor or blender, mix together all of the sauce ingredients (cilantro through lime).
3. During last minutes of grilling, top with cheese and let melt. Grab off grill and bring inside. Pour sauce over the top. Enjoy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cashew Chicken

Cashew chicken is one of my all-time favorite meals to order from a chinese restaurant. Something about the savory asian flavors paired with the creaminess of the cashews, is well perfection in my opinion, and this meal delivered. Alex and I both loved the taste of this, very tasty brown sauce, not too spicy and not too sweet. It's great with whatever you want to throw in the wok, but this time I threw in some napa cabbage I needed to use up, celery, and some onion.

It was quick and easy and hit the spot...delish!

Cashew Chicken
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
~makes 4 servings ~


3 tablespoons. soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons corn or peanut oil
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup salted roasted cashews
Steamed rice for serving


Marinate the chicken -In a large bowl, stir together 2 Tbs. of the soy sauce, the wine and ginger. Stir in the chicken to coat evenly and set aside for 15 minutes.

Make the sauce - In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbs. water, the remaining 1 Tbs. soy sauce, the Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, sugar and cornstarch, and stir to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch.

Stir-fry the chicken- Heat a wok or large fry pan over high heat until very hot and add 2 Tbs. of the corn oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade, draining it well, and discard the marinade. Add the chicken to the wok and stir-fry until opaque, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl.

Return the wok to medium heat and add the remaining 1 Tbs. corn oil. Add the green onions and stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Return the chicken to the wok and add the cashews. Give the sauce a quick stir, add to the pan and stir until the sauce thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately with the steamed rice.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Lemon, and Asparagus all I have to say for this one. It's so simple and so delicious. The best part, you can use the extra chicken all week long.

So roasted in the oven keeps the potatoes crisp and the chicken moist. Add some fresh crusty french bread to mop up the juices and dinner is set. Light enough for summer and spring and hearty enough for winter, just switch up the asparagus to something in season.

Try it, you'll like it...not only the food, but the savings that comes from using a whole chicken.
Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Lemon, and Asparagus (courtesy of Martha Stewart)


Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 package cut-up whole chicken (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 bunch asparagus (1 pound), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme


  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place potatoes and half the butter in a roasting pan; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until potatoes are golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Place chicken, skin side up, on top of potatoes; season with salt and pepper. Roast until chicken begins to brown, about 20 minutes.
  3. Scatter asparagus, lemon, remaining butter, and thyme around chicken. Roast until asparagus is tender and chicken is opaque throughout, 5 to 15 minutes. Serve chicken, vegetables, and lemon drizzled with pan juices.