Friday, August 1, 2014

Paula Deen's My First Cookbook: Homemade Pretzels

This recipe is not as complicated as it looks at first glance, I promise, even though I was making them, and said to Dennis about halfway through, "I don't want to do this anymore!"

All whining aside, these are really good, and not as hard as you'd think.

I did look up a YouTube video on how to twist pretzels so they look like...pretzels, but then decided learning how to twist pretzels wasn't on my agenda for that particular evening, so instead, mine look more like pretzel knots.

That's OK, though, because they're delicious.  Seriously amazing pretzels.  So take a few hours on a weekend and try these out.  They're worth it.

Homemade Pretzels
Makes 18-20 pretzels
From Paula Deen's My First Cookbook


1 package dry yeast
1 stick butter
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt, plus more for use as topping
1 cup whole milk
5 cups flour, plus extra for kneading

Place 1/2 cup warm water in a bowl, then sprinkle the yeast on top.  Stir it well, then let it sit for 10 minutes.  (It's OK if it gets all gloppy and sticky and weird at first.  That's what happened to me, and the pretzels turned out fine.)

Put the butter into a small pot.  Melt over low heat, then measure out 1/4 cup and set aside to cool. 

Separate the egg white from the yolk.  Put the white in a small bowl and set in the fridge for use later.  Put the yolk into a large bowl and mix with the sugar, salt, cooled 1/4 cup butter, milk, and yeast mixture.  Stir until well-blended.

Add the flour to this mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each cup.

Once all the flour has been added, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter.  (NOTE:  My dough wasn't terribly sticky, so I didn't need extra flour at all through this process.  Your mileage may vary, though.) 

Knead the dough for about 5 minutes by hand, until it's not sticky (if it was to begin with).

Spray the inside of a large bowl with either cooking spray or olive oil (I used olive oil).  Put the dough in the bowl, and turn it so it all gets greased.  (I actually sprayed some olive oil on the dough itself to help things along.)

Put a clean towel over the top of the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425°F and either spray a cookie sheet with olive oil or cover in aluminum foil.

Divide the dough into 20 parts of roughly equal size.  Roll the dough into a rope and shape your pretzels into whatever shape you want.  (Or knots, if that's what you're into.)

Brush the tops of the pretzels with the egg white you stashed in the fridge.  Sprinkle each pretzel evenly with salt.  

Bake the pretzels for 15 minutes, or until they're light brown.

After removing the pretzels from the oven, brush the tops with the leftover butter in the pan.


One Year Ago:  No Recipe Post

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Paula Deen's My First Cookbook: Sausage Quiche

This recipe is so easy, it's almost stupid, but considering it also involves half-and-half and an entire bag of cheddar cheese, it's a keeper.

(I just realized that I keep repeating myself with the Paula Deen recipes.  Monday's was shells, which I've posted before, and this one is a quiche, which I have definitely made before, as my very first blog post even!)

Anyway, this is a super-rich, super cheesy quiche, which I, of course, approve of wholeheartedly.

Sausage Quiche
Serves 4-ish
From Paula Deen's My First Cookbook


1 lb. sausage
1 8-inch pie crust, unbaked
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 whole eggs plus 2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups half-and-half

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Put the pie crust in a pie pan.

Cook the sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat until there's no pink remaining, about 10 minutes.  Remove the grease, then spread the sausage over the bottom of the pie crust.

Sprinkle the cheese over the sausage.  Put the eggs and egg whites in a bowl and add the half-and-half.  Beat together, then pour over the cheese and sausage.

Place in oven and bake.  Check after 35 minutes to see if it's set.  If not, let it bake for up to 15 more minutes.

Let quiche sit for 15 minutes before cutting.


One Year Ago:  No Post

Monday, July 28, 2014

Paula Deen's My First Cookbook: Stuffed Shells

I know, I know.  Paula Deen.  People have a lot of feelings about Paula Deen (most of my feelings are less related to everything that went down last year [was it last year?] and more to do with the fact that she came out with the fact that she has Type 2 Diabetes JUST IN TIME to rake in some money from teaming up with a T2 drug company), but this cookbook is adorable.  Just adorable.

All of the pictures are hand-drawn (well, they look hand-drawn), and they're just so cute I can't even stand it.  (Although she looks terrifying on the cover, but what can you do?)

I know I've posted stuffed shells before, but this is a more kid-friendly version than the previous one -- it's just cheese rather than the sausage and spinach the first recipe included.  (Both recipes are great, though!)

Stuffed Shells
Serves 6 to 8
From Paula Deen's My First Cookbook


20 large shell noodles
1 lb. small-curd cottage cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups spaghetti sauce
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 tsp. salt

Preheat over to 350°F.

Add the salt to a pot of water and cook shells according to package directions.  Once they're cooked, shock them with cold water to cool quickly.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cottage cheese and Parmesan.  Stir well.
Spray a 13 x 9" glass baking dish with cooking spray (or olive oil).  Pour a layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish and spread it evenly.

Stuff the shells with the cheese mixture and place shells, cheese side up, in the dish.  Spread the rest of the sauce over the top and sprinkle mozzarella on top.

Bake for 25 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.

Let the shells cool for a few minutes before eating because believe you me, those suckers are hot.


One Year Ago:  No Post

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

365 Easy One-Dish Recipes: Weird Beef Stuff (aka Easy Meat 'n Potatoes)

I don't usually ask for Dennis' opinion on dinner.  It's not that he doesn't have a say -- I just tend to be the one who plans the menu in 2-week chunks.  I know what he likes to eat and doesn't like to eat, and I take that and just sort of come up with stuff.  It's generally successful.  Generally.

For this recipe, though, I had to have a consult first.

"Does this sound too weird?" I asked Dennis.  I read him the ingredients.  He thought about it.

"No, it sounds really good, actually."

" sounds weird."

"I think it sounds OK."

So I put it on the list.  And I made it.  And it's weirdly good.  It's a little addictive, as we ate the better part of 3/4 of the pan.  (Kelly had a serving, but basically just picked the cheese out of it, and that was it.)

This sounds weird.  It is weird.  Try it anyway.

(I changed the name of it because I've never referred to it as anything except the Weird Beef Stuff.)

Weird Beef Stuff
Serves 6 (Or Dennis and Myself)
From "Easy Meat 'n Potatoes" - 365 Easy One-Dish Recipes for Everyday Family Meals


1 pound ground beef
1 10-oz. can Sloppy Joe sauce
1 can nacho cheese soup (if you like spicy, try Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup)
1 32-oz. package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed on the counter
1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar.)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Brown the beef in a skillet over medium heat.  Drain.  Add sauce and soup to the beef and mix well.

Spray a 9x13" casserole dish with olive oil or cooking spray.  Add hash browns.  (It's going to look like it's not going to fit.  If you use a 9x13", I promise it will.)

Top hash browns with beef mixture and sprinkle with cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil.  

(Related:  What happened here?)

Bake for another 10 minutes.

So weird.  So good.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook: Mexican Rice Casserole

This is the newest on Dennis' list of Best Things I've Ever Made.  I don't know why.  I thought it was pretty good, but for whatever reason, it really blew him over.  Maybe it's the Secret Ingredient Cumin like it was last time?

Regardless, this is another super, super easy recipe, the leftovers are good, and it doesn't have a lot of crazy weird ingredients.

(I may have gone a little overboard with the cheese, but what's a little excess cheese between friends?)

Mexican Rice Casserole
Serves 4
From The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook


1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup white rice
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil, add the rice, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Brown the beef in a large skillet and drain the excess fat.  Return the beef to the skillet and add 1/2 cup water, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, garlic and onion powders, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for 5 minutes.

Combine the beef and sauce with the rice in a baking dish.  (8x8 works best.)  Top with cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese melts.


One Year Ago:  No Post

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook: Taco Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe is another really good one out of this cookbook!  Super easy, and the best part of it, if you can believe it, is the cumin.  The flavor that the cumin adds to this particular recipe is just fantastic, and it takes it from what would probably be a meh recipe, into one that you're kind of surprised how good it is.  (Sorry for the last picture.  I was in a hurry!)

Taco Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 4
From The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook


16 oz. elbow macaroni
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 can tomato sauce
1 can Rotel
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the macaroni according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, cook the beer with the onion and garlic until brown, then drain the excess fat.

Return the beef mixture to the pan and add the tomato sauce, Rotel, and milk.  Stir well.

Stir in the cumin and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the cooked macaroni to the sauce and mix to combine.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the mixture and allow to melt before serving.


One Year Ago:  No Post

Monday, July 14, 2014

The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook: Sloppy Chicken Joes

I like making complicated meals.  Since I didn't start cooking, really cooking, until I was about 22, I feel like I'm kind of making up for it by learning how to make things like pork tenderloin and Russian Borscht and beer-glazed salmon and the like.  I like the effort that goes into making a meal that people say, "Wow, you made this yourself?  It must have taken forever.

That being said, using this cookbook was like a marathoner running a 5k Fun Run.  It was still cooking, but holy crap was my life easier.  All three recipes I made were good, and they took minimal time.  One of them, later in the week, was Dennis' new Best Thing I've Ever Made.  And most importantly, all three of them were eaten by a 10-year-old with no complaining.  I call that a successful cookbook.

The ingredient combination on this one is probably going to sound really weird, but, as I always say, you're going to have to trust me.

Sloppy Chicken Joes
Makes 4-6
From The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook


1 1/2 lb. package boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)  (I didn't use these, but would have if it would have been just D and me)
4 to 6 hamburger buns

Dice the chicken into 1/2 inch pieces.  (I diced mine a little too big, but it all tasted the same.)

In a large pan, whisk together the tomato sauce, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, pepper, and salt.  Add the chicken and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

(A note here:  When I saw 8-10 minutes for cooking in the recipe, I thought there was no way the chicken would cook that fast, so I used my meat thermometer to measure, and sure enough, about 8 minutes in, the chicken was cooked through.  Weird.)

Dole out the mixture amongst your rolls and serve.


One Year Ago:  No Post