Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Pepperoni Pasta Salad With Dressing

Some times during the summer I want a quick and easy meal that doesn't heat up the house to make.  Let's face it, who wants to be standing by a hot stove and then later on, eating a hot meal? Not me.  This is delicious as well as nutritious.

First For The Salad Dressing, What You Will Need:
Measuring Cup
Measuring Spoons
2-Cup Size Glass Mason Canning Jar or Container With Lid

Salad Dressing Ingredients:
1/4-Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus 1-Tablespoon
2-Tablespoons White Cooking Wine or White Wine.
2-Tablespoons White Vinegar
3/4-Cup Mayonaise
1 + 1/2-Tablespoons Lemon Juice
3-Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4-Teaspoon Granulated Garlic
1/2-Teaspoon Dried Basil
1/2-Teaspoon Dried Parsley
1/2-Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/4 Teaspoon Salt *I used Pink Himalayan, finely ground*
1/4-Teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
2-Teaspoons Anchovy Paste
4-Tablespoons Pure Honey
2-Tablespoons Water

Directions For Salad Dressing:

*Makes 2-Cups*

Combine all of the above ingredients in to a container of your choice, place the lid on tightly and shake until well blended.  Put in to the refrigerator to chill.

What You Will Need For The Pasta Salad:
Large 4-5 Quart Pot
Sharp Knife
Large Serving Bowl
Large Wooden Spoon Or Spoon

Salad Ingredients:
1 12-Ounce Bag Veggie Pasta Spirals
1-Tomato Medium, Diced
1 6-Ounce Can Large Black Olives Pitted, Drained and Sliced Lengthwise
1-Medium Sweet Onion Peeled and Sliced
1 6-Ounce Bag Pepperoni Slices
7-Mozzarella Cheese Sticks Cut In To Bite Size Pieces
1-Orange Pepper Seeded and Diced
1-Cup Sweet Peas

Directions For Salad:
In the large pot salt water and cook pasta for 8-10 minutes or until aldente. Drain pasta in a colander over your sink, be careful this is extremely hot! Shake the colander a few times until all of the water is completely drained from the pasta.  Put the pasta in to the large bowl and put in to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2-hours.  Once chilled, remove the pasta and the salad dressing.  Add the above ingredients to the pasta, stirring - tossing gently until all are well combined.

Shake the salad dressing and then add to the pasta mixture, stirring - tossing gently until all combined. Plate and serve. This can be used as a main dish or as a side.

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Pepper Jack and Cheddar Cheese Bread

I love home made bread and make it often, this is so easy it's unbelievable. It is a little time consuming waiting on it to rise twice, patience.... patience. You can serve this with pretty much any meal or even eat it alone with a knob, good size of butter. I do have a home made butter recipe listed here if you'd like to also try that?

What You Will Need:
Stand Mixer With A Dough Hook *Or use a regular Mixer and your hands*
Pastry Cutter or Sharp Knife
Measuring Cup
Measuring Spoons
2-Loaf Pans 5"x9" *I use glass*
Box Grater or Hand Grater
Candy Thermometer
Large Bowl *If not using your stand mixer*
Cutting Board or Clean Flat Surface
Kitchen Towel
Pastry Brush *If you have one, if not, use your hands*
Small Bowl For Egg White
Whisk or Fork To Beat The Egg White
Oven Mitts
Wire Rack
Large Bowl

2-Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil *Plus extra to grease the 2-Loaf Pans*
7-Ounce Package Cheddar Cheese Grated *I like Dubliner*  *Save 2-Tablespoons aside for the top of the breads*
8-Ounce Pepper Jack Cheese Grated *Save 2-Tablespoons aside for the top of the breads*
4 1/2 - 5 1/2-Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour *Divided*
2 1/4-Ounce Packages Of Active Dry Rapid Rise Yeast *I like Fleischmann's*
1 1/2-Teaspoons Salt *I like fine grain Sea Salt*
2-Tablespoons Sugar
1-Large Egg White Beaten Lightly
2-Cups Water Warm *105 - 115-Degrees, no warmer or you'll kill your yeast.*

Helpful hints:  I freeze my cheeses for several hours, it makes grating so much easier, it doesn't crumble and fall apart on you.  Also, spray your box grater with a cooking spray or with olive oil.  I have a Misto Olive Oil Sprayer and it's a handy little thing to have around. By spraying, it coats the grater so the frozen cheese glides easily.

In the large bowl or the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, put in the yeast, sugar and the warm water. Let stand and dissolve for about 5-minutes. Add in the olive oil and salt.   The yeast mixture should bubble up - fizz, if not, throw it out and start over. This bubbling - fizzing is called "Feeding the Yeast."  This means the yeast cultures are alive, which you want and need to help the dough rise.

Now, little by little add in 3-Cups of flour, mixing until smooth. Add in the cheeses, mix until well combined.  Now, add in enough of the remaining flour to make the dough soft.

Sprinkle a small amount of flour on to the cutting board or flat surface, remove the dough from the bowl and hand kneed on to the floured surface.  You want the dough to be smooth and have elasticity, not sticky,  do this for about 5-minutes, then gently roll the dough in to a ball. Grease the sides and bottom of the large bowl with olive oil. Place dough ball in to the greased bowl, rub the ball gently around the bowl to cover the bottom of the dough ball, then flip over and do the same for the top. You want both top and bottom of the dough ball lightly coated with the olive oil.  Cover the bowl with the towel and let rise in a warm area free from drafts and air conditioning, approximately 45-minutes or until the dough proofs - rises.

Lightly grease the sides and bottoms of the 2-loaf pans while the dough is proofing.  Once the dough has proofed - risen, remove from the bowl and place on to the cutting board or flat clean surface. Using your pastry cutter or sharp knife, divide the dough in to 2-equal portions.  Shape each piece in to loaf shapes, place in to each of the loaf pans. Cover both of the loaf pans with the towel, again, let proof - rise in a warm draft-free area.  Let the dough do a second rise for the same amount of time, 45-minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350-Degrees Fahrenheit

Once each of the dough loafs doubles in size, dip your pastry brush in to the beaten egg white and gently brush the tops of the loafs, you don't want the loafs to drop in size deflate. Top each of the loafs with 1-Tablespoon each of the Pepper Jack and Cheddar Cheeses. 2-Tablespoons each in total.

Place the loafs in to the oven and bake for about 30-minutes or until a golden brown color.  Once both are a golden brown, remove both loafs from the oven with your oven mitts, be careful both will be extremely hot!  Place on a heat resistant surface and let cool for at least 15-minutes.  When you are able to handle the loafs, remove and place each loaf on to the wire rack to finish cooling.  Let each of them rest and cool for 30-minutes before you slice them.

I used one of the loafs a few days later for garlic bread, it was delicious. I served it with a plate of Pasta Puttanesca, the recipe is located here on my blog.  Please leave a comment if  you have tried any of my recipes, I'd love to hear from you. Keep coming back because I will be adding more recipes as time allows. Enjoy!

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My Wonderful Brody Has Passed Away

With everything that has been going on here in my little world, I forgot to mention and give tribute to my wonderful English Bulldog, Brody.  Brody was just 5-yrs old and had to be put to sleep on April 11, 2018, due to being diagnosed with cancer.  This was a complete surprise because he was just at his veterinarian's 3-months prior to his diagnosis and nothing was detected.  Brody was eating his dinner one night and blood gushed out of his mouth.  I opened his mouth and he had a fairly large growth in the back of his bottom teeth. Who thinks to check inside of your pet's mouth if there's no problem? I don't but I will from now on. 

The following morning I contacted his veterinarian and she had me bring him right in.  After being examined and having a biopsy of the growth, I was informed that this was a progressive cancer and there wasn't much she could do for him. The one option was to have his bottom jaw removed, but this would be an expensive procedure and it would only extend his life by about 6-months. I wasn't going to put my boy through all of that and I didn't want him to suffer. It was decided between the veterinarian and I, the best and kindest thing to do was to have him put to sleep while he was still happy and not in a lot of pain. Once again I was losing a beloved pet, companion. I have had so many loses as it was the past 3-yrs and now here is one more.  My heart was breaking as I held him in my arms one more time. He snuggled in to me and kept kissing my cheek until he quietly passed away.  I will miss him every day that I am here on earth.  Rest in peace Brody boy, you are now over the Rainbow Bridge with the rest of your family. That's my grandson Caleb with Brody, they were best buddies and inseparable whenever Caleb came to visit.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Butternut Squash Carbonara

Hello everyone, I'm trying to add a couple of recipes here and there as time allows.  My son Jarrett and his girlfriend Cassandra were back home for 2-weeks.  It's so hard when your children grow up and move away from home.  Jarrett is now living in North Carolina which is a good distance away from home.  His Gramma and other relatives live near by him, so that takes a little of the stress and worry off of my shoulders. I think stress and worry goes hand-in-hand when we have children and grand children.  I had made this dish because not only is it delicious, but Cassandra is a vegetarian.  I just served hers without the bacon. This time I didn't make my own home made pasta, I just didn't have the time, so I used store bought instead. I have always tried to incorporate vegetables and fruit in to the meals I prepare, or offer them up as a snack or dessert.  Some times being a mom you have to think outside of the box and sneak them in to the dishes that we make.  Most of the time my 4-kids and even now with my 2-grand kids, they don't know I pureed a vegetable or two and put it in to the meal. Ssshhhh.....wink.

What You Will Need:
Large Non-Stick Frying Pan
Large Pot
Parchment Paper *Optional, I use it for easier clean-up*
Large Baking Sheet
Blender - Mixer **Make sure that the glass or plastic jar to the mixer - blender is heat-resistant**
Measuring Cups
Measuring Spoons
Paper Towel
Oven Mitts
Large Plate
Small Bowl

2-Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-Tablespoon Butter
1-Teaspoon Brown Sugar
1/4-Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/4-Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/4-Teaspoon Salt
1/2-Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1-Pound Butternut Squash Peeled and Diced. *I purchased mine Spiralized, it was so much easier* If you don't use spiralized, then get 1 1/2-pounds.  By the time you remove the skin and seeds, it will be around 1-Pound.
1-Pound Pasta *Spaghetti or Linguine is what I use.*
1/2-Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2-Large Eggs Whisked In A Small Bowl
1-Pound Bacon *I buy Nitrate-Free Uncured All-Natural*
1-Small Sweet Onion Peeled and diced
1/4-Teaspoon Dried Ground Sage
2-Garlic Cloves Peeled and Crushed-Minced
14-1/2 Ounces Low-Sodium Chicken Broth, I used Vegetable Base Bouillon

*Adjust the herbs and spices to your own personal taste, this is just a guide and what I had used.*

Preheat Oven to 400-Degrees Fahrenheit

Line your baking sheet with parchment paper, remove the bacon from the packaging and run under cold water, don't ask me how, but this prevents the bacon from shrinking. Pat the bacon dry. Line the strips side by side on to the baking sheet until the sheet is full. Place in to the oven and bake for 15-minutes or until golden brown and crispy.  Keep an eye on it because depending on your altitude, it may cook slower or faster. Once the bacon is golden brown, put on your oven mitts and remove from the oven, placing on to a heat resistant surface.  Line your large plate with a couple of paper towels and place several strips of bacon on to the plate.  Place a couple more paper towels on top of the bacon and press, this helps remove excess grease.  Repeat until all of the bacon has had the grease removed, cut or break up the bacon in to small pieces, set aside. Discard paper towels.

Next place your frying pan on medium-high heat, add in the butter and the olive oil. Let them both melt, add in the onions and garlic cook for a few minutes until the onions turn light golden brown. Add the Salt, pepper and butternut squash.  Cook all for about 7-10 minutes, gently toss the squash a couple of times so it's well covered with the oil, butter, etc.,. Pour in the vegetable bouillon, add in the nutmeg and sage, reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for approximately 15-minutes.

While the squash mixture is simmering, add water and salt to the large pot.  Follow the cooking instruction on the box of the pasta. Once your pasta is cooked, keep back a 1/2-Cup of the pasta water.  The starchy water helps the sauce stick to the pasta. Drain the pasta in a colander over the kitchen sink and set aside. Remove the squash mixture off of the stove and let it cool down for a few minutes, either push it aside or place on a heat resistant surface. Once cooled, add the squash mixture in to the blender - mixer, this should only be half way full.  If you have a small blender - mixer, do this in smaller batches as not to over-fill and make a mess.  Add the 2-large whisked eggs slowly in to the squash mixture, put the top securely on to the blender - mixer, mix on low until combined. Remove the lid and add in the cream, mix until well combined.  I put a dish towel over the lid just in case it spits or by the small chance does over-flow.  If it starts to rise to the top, shut off and remove some of the mixture.  Puree until everything is smooth.

In the frying pan you recently used, place it back on the burner on medium-heat.  Add in the drained pasta water and the squash mixture, gently stir - toss until the pasta is coated with the mixture and the pasta water. Add in the grated Parmesan cheese and the bacon. Or leave the bacon on the side if you have someone that is a vegetarian. Using a tasting spoon, taste to see if the Pasta needs any more seasonings, salt, pepper, etc.,.. Gently combine the cheese and bacon.

Place the butternut squash carbonara on individual plates or serve family-style in a large decorative bowl. You can top with additional grated parmesan cheese if you like. Some times I fry a few sage leaves in a little of the bacon grease, sprinkle with salt and place them on top as a garnish. You can eat the fried sage, it's really good.  The photo on the right is with my home made Pepper Jack and Cheddar Cheese Bread that I had made previously.  I had a loaf left over so I turned it into garlic bread, it was delicious.  I'll be posting that recipe soon.

**For some reason the photos aren't showing the creamy sauce, it's there believe me.**

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia

This is a wonderful not too thick rustic Italian Style bread, it pairs beautifully with Sea Food, Soups and Pasta dishes. I previously shared a recipe for home made Pasta and Puttanesca, along with this Foccacia and Olive Oil, herbs with spices for dipping. This is extremely simple to make, the only draw back is, it takes a little bit of time to make due to having to rise 2-times.

What You Will Need:
Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer
Bread Hook Attachment *Stand Mixer*
Large Bowl if using a Hand Mixer
Small Bowl
Spatula or Wooden Spoon
Oven Mitts
Cutting Board
Plastic Wrap
Measuring Cup
Measuring Spoons
Medium Size Baking Sheet or Jelly Roll Pan 12"x19" *I love my new non-stick Copper one, things just slide right off of it. Clean up is a breeze.*

2-Teaspoons Raw Honey or 1 1/2-Teaspoons Sugar *I like honey*
1-Packet Active Dry Yeast *1/4-Ounce*
5-Cups All-Purpose Unbleached Flour *And a little extra for dusting the cutting board.*
1-Tablespoon Sea Salt, plus some for sprinkling *I used Pink Himalayan Salt.*
1-Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil Divided
2-Tablespoons Dried Rosemary, plus some for sprinkling.  *Rub it between the palms of your hands to crush it up.*
7-Cloves Fresh Garlic peeled and finely minced. *You can use more or less depending on your taste.*
1 3/4-Cups Luke Warm Water *Not hot and not cold*

In the bowl, add the luke warm water, yeast and honey. Using the spatula or wooden spoon, stir until all combined.  Let the ingredients rest in a warm place for about 15-minutes or until it becomes foamy, this is called "Proofing the yeast." My house was warm enough so I just left it on the table. If this doesn't foam, then throw it away and start over, you need live yeast to make this bread rise.  If it foams then add in the flour, salt and 1/2-Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and mix on low speed using the Bread Hook. Mix well.

Remove the dough and place on to a lightly dusted, clean, dry cutting board or flat work surface. Knead the dough by hand a few times, if it still feels sticky add a little more flour to the cutting board and continue kneading until the dough is pliable and no longer sticky. Using the Olive Oil, lightly coat the bottom and sides of the bowl. Place the dough back inside of the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for an hour or until it has doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen - doubled in size, add the remaining Olive Oil and coat the Baking Sheet - Jelly Pan. Don't worry, it looks like a lot of oil but it really isn't. This bread is supposed to be crusty and a little bit on the oily side, this is what makes it taste so good.  Place the dough on to the pan and stretch, gently pressing so the dough covers the entire pan's bottom. Now, flip the oiled dough over so it can coat the opposite side with Olive Oil.  Make sure the dough is stretched and fits the entire bottom of the pan.  Now using your fingers, gently poke little holes aka: dimples into the top of the dough, don't poke all the way through.  Once this is baked you won't see the holes - dimples, it will be lightly bumpy. Place the tray in a warm place so it can rise and double in size for the second time.  This usually takes about an hour.


While the dough is rising, pre-heat your oven to 425-Degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the dough has risen - doubled in size, sprinkle the top of the dough with the sea salt, rosemary and lightly drizzle with more Olive Oil.  Place in the oven and bake for about 30-minutes or until it's a golden brown color. Put on your oven mitts and remove, place on a heat resistant flat surface and let cool before cutting.  I made an Olive Oil, herb and spices for dipping.

1/3-Cup Olive Oil *I warm mine just a little bit in the microwave.*
1/4-Teaspoon Dried Red Pepper Flakes
1/2- Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2-Teaspoon Dried Parsley

Directions: Place all ingredients into a small bowl and stir with a spoon until well blended. Dip small pieces of the Foccacia in to the oil and eat.

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Home Made Pasta and Puttanesca

Coming from an Irish-American family, I have a lot of Italian influence due to my Aunt and Uncle both by marriage and their families, along with my Step-Grand Father who was from Italy.  All are and were amazing cooks. Some of my best childhood memories were spent in the kitchen surrounded by family and extended family. When we were kids, my Aunt Karen the one that is Italian-American and my Aunt Patty Irish-American, would both make this dish.  Because we were young we couldn't pronounce the name, so we came to know this simply as "Fish Spaghetti." To be honest, you can't even taste the Anchovies and if I didn't tell you they were an ingredient, you'd never even know.  I paired the Puttanesca with home made Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia, I'll post that recipe here as well, but on a separate page. If you don't want to take the time to make home made pasta, you can purchase it at the store. Admittedly if you make the pasta, along with everything else, it is a bit time consuming so make sure you set enough hours in your day. The Foccacia does need time to rise twice.

What I like to do is, turn my favorite music up, kick off my shoes, just relax and take my time. I enjoy spending time in the kitchen and I find it so satisfying making my own meals, desserts, breads, etc., from scratch. There is nothing better than serving something to your friends and family that you have made with your own two hands.  Also, you know what the ingredients are, no artificial ingredients or preservatives like so many prepared so called "Convenience Foods" are today. This isn't hard, again..... it's just a little time consuming, but well worth the time and effort.  The herbs I used were dried, during the summer months I grow my own. Mangiare godere - eat enjoy!!

What You Will Need:
Large Frying Pan *I used non-stick this time*
Spatula or Wooden Spoon
Measuring Spoons
Measuring Cup
Large Pot
Spoon For Tasting
Large Serving Platter *Optional.*
Small Bowl for the eggs
Stand Mixer
Pasta Attachments *Paddle, Pasta Roller and Spaghetti Cutter*
Sharp Knife
Rolling Pin
Dish Towel
Cutting Board

Ingredients For The Pasta:  *You can buy store bought, if using store bought use Linguine or Spaghettini. *Follow cooking instructions on the box or label.*
3-Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour *Sifted.*
1 1/2-Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2-Teaspoon Sea Salt *Fine*
4-Large Eggs *Beaten.*

*NOTE: This recipe has a few ingredient changes, as well as, using a different attachment than my Home Made Egg Noodle recipe that I have posted here. Use these ingredients and follow the step-by-step instructions listed here:  http://shebangspotsandpans.blogspot.com/search?q=pasta   I did post a few new photos here.

Ingredients For The Puttanesca:
1-28 Ounce Can Whole Peeled San Marzano Tomatoes *Dice.*
1-Large Tomato *Diced*
1/2-Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1-Tablespoon Parmesan Cheese *Real*
2 6-Ounce Cans Pearl Black Olives, Pitted Large Size *Cut in half Lengthwise*
1/3-Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4-Cloves Garlic Fresh *Peel and either finely dice in to tiny pieces with a knife or run through a Garlic Press.*
1/2-Cup Dry Basil *I used dried*
1/2-Teaspoon Black Cracked Pepper
1-Teaspoon Sea Salt *Fine*
2-Teaspoons Anchovy Paste
1 2-Ounce Can Anchovy Fillets *only use 8 of them, drain off the oil and rinse under cool water, chop in to small pieces.*
1/2-Cup Parsley *I used dried*
1/2-Tablespoon Sugar *Optional*

Cook the fresh Pasta first. Use a large pan filled 3/4 of the way with water, add 2 1/2-Tablespoons Sea Salt, bring to a rolling boil, add in the Pasta.  Now start the Puttanesca Sauce.

Set the stove top temperature to medium-high.  Add in the Red Pepper Flakes, Ground Black Pepper, Sea Salt, Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Anchovy Paste and the Anchovy Fillets. Stir all of the ingredients together with the spatula or wooden spoon. Cook until everything turns to a light golden color. You'll start to smell everything meld together.

Once this is done add in the Black Olives, Basil, Sugar, Parsley and all of the tomatoes, canned and fresh. Stir all of the ingredients together and cook on a low simmer. I usually leave it on the stop top for about a half hour - forty five minutes, you want all of the flavors to infuse. Stir occasionally so it doesn't burn. Using your tasting spoon, taste to see if you need to add a little more salt, basil, parsley, etc.,. You can always add in, but you can't take out.

Check your Pasta, you want it Al Dente (to the bite) meaning firm not too soft.  Retain 1-Cup of the starchy cooking water, this helps the sauce stick to the pasta. Drain the Pasta in to the colander over your kitchen sink using oven mitts, be very careful this is hot!! Give it a few shakes, you want the hot water completely drained off. Pour the Pasta back in to the large pot.

Now add the sauce and retained starchy water over the Pasta, toss - turning gently with the tongs until well blended. You can garnish with extra Parmesan Cheese and Parsley. Add the Puttanesca on to a large serving platter and serve. On the right is the home made Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia served with Olive Oil, herbs and spices for dipping.

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