New and Fabulous Pizza

Benji and I are home today due to a blizzard, and it is truly glorious being stuck in the house with one of my kids and no chance of being able to go out to work or do errands.  So I’ve been cooking up a storm. I asked him if he wanted some homemade pizza since I know how much he loves pizza, and of course he gave a very enthusiastic thumbs up.  Now, the pizza is out of the oven, and he is loving it. He said it’s the perfect doughiness, cheesiness and sauciness. And of course, I’m always thrilled when Alexa Hente approves of my cooking!

for the pizza dough:

  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ¾ cups King Arthur Organic Bread Flour (to start with)

Pour ¾ cup warm water in the large bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Mix and let sit about 15 min. till foamy. Add 1 ¾ cup King Arthur Organic Bread Flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix on low for about 15 min. adding about ½ cup additional flour till dough is mostly together as a ball around the dough hook. Turn out onto floured parchment or counter and knead maybe 10 times. Turn under to roll into a nice ball. Lightly oil a large bowl and cover with saran wrap. Put in warm spot for about 1 ½ hours.

for the sauce:

  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (I used Cento).
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 light teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Pour 2 tablespoons light olive oil into pot. Grate 2 large garlic cloves with microplane into the oil. Sprinkle about ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes into the oil as well. Saute over low flame for about 3 min. till garlic is softened, but not brown. Pour crushed tomatoes in. Simmer over low flame about 30 min with cover off till sauce reduces by about 1/3 to 1/2.

put it all together:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Turn out dough onto floured parchment and flatten. Cut into 2 pieces. Put one in fridge. Let other one rest (covered) for a few minutes or refrigerate covered till ready to use. Cover large baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle parchment with a little yellow cornmeal (I use Quaker yellow). On counter or another piece of parchment, roll out dough to about ¼ in. thick (rectangle or circle). Transfer to parchment on cookie sheet.

Spoon tomato sauce over dough almost to edges. Sprinkle with about 8 oz. whole milk (or part skim- which I used) mozzarella cheese – all the way to the edges. Put cookie sheet on lowest shelf of oven. Bake about 15 min. till cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Slice with pizza cutter.

easiest spinach pie

I’ve been making this spinach pie for years for my daughter and my grandkids.  During dinner tonight at my daughter’s house, my grandson Ezra said, “Safta, this is my favorite dinner!”  Noah chimed in his agreement.   They each had at least 4 or 5 pieces.  My daughter said, “This is the perfect comfort food.”  She commented that  it’s her favorite meal too.  She wasn’t too happy when I set aside a piece to bring home to my son Benji.  When I got home, Benji wasn’t too happy that I only brought one piece home for him.

  • 1 box Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets
  • 2 10 oz. boxes frozen organic chopped spinach, defrosted and drained and squeezed pretty dry
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • about 8 oz. chunk feta
  • about 1/4 cup parmesan
  • about 1/2 tablespoon Litehouse dill
  • about 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • pinch salt

Place frozen puff pastry in refrigerator to defrost.

In mixing bowl, put mostly dry, drained spinach, eggs, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese.  Break apart the feta into smallish pieces and add to mixture.  Add the dill, pepper, and salt.  Mix gently with a rubber spatula until all ingredients are incorporated.

Grease aluminum pan that’s about 9 x 13 in. (sides are less than 1 inch deep).  Place pharmacy online parchment paper that’s a little longer and wider than the bottom of the pan, pressing it down into the corners.

Take 1 sheet of the puff pastry out of fridge and roll it out so that the size matches the bottom of your baking pan (about 9 by 13.  Sprinkle flour on the counter as necessary to roll out the pastry.  Transfer to parchment lined pan.  Spread entire filling evenly over pastry, almost to the edges of the pastry.  Then roll out second sheet of pastry.  Place it over the filling, and turn the edges of the pastry over the filling and crimp it with the bottom layer of pastry.  Then make an egg wash of 1 egg with buy modafinil 1 teaspoon of water, and brush it generously over top of pie.

I usually stick it in the canadian pharmacy freezer for about 30 min.  Then I cover it with foil and put back in freezer till I’m ready to bake it.

Bake about 45-50 min. at 400 degrees till puffy and brown.  Serve immediately.

creamy and light quiche lorraine

Whenever I go out for a breakfast or a brunch, I always think about ordering the quiche, but I usually don’t make that selection because I’m usually disappointed.  I’ve had a yen for the perfect slice of quiche, and my son Benji put in the request, so I obliged.

Wow.  I put together a bunch of recipes and came up with this.  The result was quiche heaven. The consistency was creamy but light like a soufflee at the same time!

ingredients:

  • 1 Oronique deep dish pie crust (very important to use a deep dish crust.  I have found this crust to be the best tasting.
  • 5- 6 oz. swiss cheese, grated by hand (you can substitute gruyere)
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • no nutmeg (to me that ruins the recipe!) 
  • about 10 -11 oz. crispy bacon, broken into bite sized pieces, not crumbles! (I use Nature’s Promise, which I bake on a foil lined sheet pan at 425 degrees, till crispy, then I drain on paper towels) 

First, take crust out of freezer, use a fork to prick pharmacy online bottom and sides.  Bake for 10 min. at 350 degrees. Take out of oven while you prepare the filling and raise temperature to 375 degrees.

Cook your bacon as described above in list of ingredients. Drain and set aside.

Grate the cheese by hand.

For filling, mix eggs and cream well with a fork.  Add canadian pharmacy online salt and pepper. Place pie crust on a sheet pan lined with foil.

Spread cheese on bottom of crust.  Then spread bacon evenly over cheese.

Ladle the custard over bacon and cheese.  You may not be able to use all the filling because it will overflow, but save it for a few minutes later after the quiche has started to cook.

Begin to bake on middle rack of oven.  After about 15 min., pull oven shelf out with sheet pan carefully and spoon any remaining custard into the quiche.

Bake for about 45 to 55 min. until entire pie is puffed nicely.  Let sit modafinil online on counter for about 15 min. before serving.

Back to Basics Macaroni and Cheese

When my children were little, I found a recipe for macaroni and cheese on the back of the Creamettes box.  This was the recipe I made for years and years.  I recently made it again instead of the recipe I’ve made for the last 10 years (Judy’s Creamy and Delicious Macaroni and Cheese), and I discovered that I may like it more because it seems a little less rich.  It’s basically the same as my current recipe except that it has much less cheese.

  • 2 cups elbows (I like Creamettes) (about 1/2 of 1 lb. box)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 10 oz. Land o’Lakes yellow American cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk 

Melt butter in saucepan.  Add flour, salt, and pepper.  Whisk over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add milk gradually.  Whisk over medium heat for about 10 minutes till starts to thicken a little, but not too much.  Add in the cheese.

Cook pasta in boiling water till just cooked- not overcooked.  Drain in colander.  Butter a casserole dish.  Pour sauce into casserole.  Pour the macaroni noodles in and mix together till noodles are evenly coated with the sauce.

Cook at 375 degrees for about an hour till the cheese starts to rise to top and brown and the edges start to get brown and crusty looking.

Baked Penne with Marinara, Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Miniature Meatballs

I wanted to make a baked pasta dish and add my homemade meatballs, so I came up with this very easy recipe.  I was thrilled when my daughter told me how much she loved the dish.  I decided to omit ricotta cheese from the dish, and I was glad.  I thought it came out perfect without it.

Ingredients:

1 lb. penne or ziti, whole wheat or not

1 lb. or a little more of grated mozzarella (I used Whole Foods part skim)

about 1/2 cup grated parmesan

about 1 qt. marinara sauce (I used jarred)

about 1 teaspoon fresh thyme if you happen to have it

a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes, if you like the heat

for the meatballs:

1 lb. grass fed or organic ground beef, 85% fat

about 1/3 cup ketchup

1 large egg

abut 1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs or white ones

kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder

make the meatballs:

In a mixing bowl, gently mix the ground beef, ketchup, 1 egg, about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, about 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and the bread crumbs.  I use my hands to mix gently.  Then form little meatballs- a little less than 1 inch in diameter.  Put about 2 tablespoons light olive oil or canola oil in nonstick saute pan and heat.  Gently place meatballs in pan and brown only very lightly on all sides.  Pour marinara sauce in a saucepan, and gently place drained meatballs in sauce.  Add the thyme if using as well as red pepper flakes, and simmer covered over low flame about 10 or 15 min.  Turn heat off.

for the assembly:

Cook pasta in boiling salted water till al dente.  Drain in colander. In 9 by 13 rectangular or oval baking dish, spoon a little sauce in pan to coat bottom.  Put a nice layer of noodles to cover bottom of pan.  Spoon about 1/3 of sauce and meatballs over the noodles.  Sprinkle with parmesan and about 1/3 of grated mozzarella.  Put another 1/3 of noodles on top, 1/3 of sauce and meatballs, parmesan, and 1/3 of mozzarella.  Spread last 1/3 of noodles, the rest of the sauce and meatballs, parmesan, and rest of mozzarella.

Either put in fridge to bake later, or bake right away.  From the fridge, it will take about 1 hour at 375 degrees.  If you are baking it immediately, it might only take 30 minutes for it to get nice and bubbly.

Fried Chicken Nuggets Topped With Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheese and Mushrooms

When I was a senior in college, my roommate concocted a chicken recipe that seemed strange, but mysteriously tasted magnificent.  I used to sneak a few bites whenever I could as she wasn’t sharing.  I made this for my daughter a few times over the years- since nobody else in the family except for the two of us liked mushrooms, and she announced that it was her favorite chicken.  Last week, I made it for her and her family, and she loved it.  I dropped off a taste of this dish to a foodie friend of my daughter’s and mine, and she said, “What’s in this?  It’s insanely delicious!”  So here is the recipe.

  • 1  to 1 1/2 cups of organic chicken breast cutlets (not thin sliced), cut into chunks about 1 1/2 in. by the same (I try to use Nature’s Promise from Stop and Shop)
  • bread crumbs (I used a mixture of Wegman’s Whole Grain Bread Crumbs and Trader Joe’s Organic Bread Crumbs)
  • 2 eggs beaten with a little water
  • light olive oil for frying (or a mixture of canola and light olive oil)
  • 10 to 16 oz. mushrooms (I used baby bella) (slice in 1/4 inch thick slices)
  • about 8 of shredded Monterey Jack and Mild Cheddar (I use Whole Foods)

olive oil and a little butter and kosher salt and pepper for sautéing the mushrooms

Put cut chicken in egg mixture and toss well.  Then coat well in bread crumbs.  Heat oil (a depth of about 1/2 in. till very hot (about 350 degrees) in a large frying pan.  Carefully place chicken in hot oil, and cook quickly only till browned on one side, then turn with tongs, and brown on other side.  Keep in mind that you will be baking the chicken in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, so don’t overcook it at this stage.  Cook it only till browned on both sides.  Drain on paper towels.  Place chicken in a 8 1/2 in. by 11 in. baking dish.   In sauté pan, pour a little olive oil with a little butter.  Slice and saute mushrooms (sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper- optional cayenne- till they no longer have that raw look to them.  They don’t need to be overly browned.

Place mushrooms over chicken and the grated cheese to cover the mushrooms.

You can bake in a preheated 375 degree oven right away for about 10 min. till cheese is melted or you can refrigerate this casserole until dinner time.  Then preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake uncovered till cheese is melted and starting to bubble – about 15-20 minutes.  If you are cooking the chicken right from the fridge, it may take a few minutes longer.  I recommend taking it out of the fridge- if you are preparing it earlier in the day- about 30 min. before you intend to start baking it.

Judy’s Newest Cheesecake

I tried a new cheesecake and it came out beautifully.  The water bath worked amazingly.

Beating the egg whites separately insures a very light texture.  The next time I make

this, I want to add a thin layer of whipped cream on top and then top that with sliced

strawberries.  If I do that I may substitute chocolate wafer crumbs in my crust.

for the crust:

  • 2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter (I used salted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Chocolate cookie crumb crust

  • 3 cups Oreo cookie crumbs (don’t use the crème filling) (use food processor to make crumbs
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

I did not pre-bake this crust; I put it in the freezer for about 20 min. prior to putting the filling in.

    for the filling:

    3 8 oz. blocks of Philadelphia brand cream cheese, at room temperature. (for a 10 in. springform,

    I used 4 blocks of cream cheese (1 was neuf.)

    1 pint whole fat sour cream (I like Daisy brand as it has nothing artificial in it)

    5 extra large eggs (separated)

    1 1/3 cups sugar

    pinch of kosher salt

    1 tablespoos fresh lemon juice (I use either fresh or Minute Maid frozen concentrate)

    1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    make the crust:  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

    Put graham cracker crumbs in a mixing bowl.    Melt butter in bowl in microwave.  Add it to bowl with

    crumbs,  add the sugar and cinnamon, and mix.  Grease a 9 inch springform and

    then press the crumbs mostly on the bottom and a little up the sides of the pan.  Bake

    at 325 degrees for about 8 minutes.  Let cool on counter.

    make the filling:

    Separate eggs and set aside. In large bowl of mixer using the paddle attachment, mix the

    cream cheese till smooth and a little fluffy. Add the sugar and mix well.  Add the yolks and

    mix just till smooth.  Add lemon juice and vanilla, blend a few seconds.  Add pinch of salt.

     Add the sour cream,and mix on very low speed or even by hand till blended.  In a second

    bowl, whip the egg whites with whisk attachment till stiff

    peaks form.  Fold egg whites into batter gently. Pour batter into crust lined pan and smooth top

    gently.

     

    Change:  instead of wrapping pan in foil and baking in water bath, I did something

    much easier that had equally good result.  Place roasting pan filled 2/3 to the top

    with water.  Place this pan on a rack just below the rack you’ll be baking

    cheesecake on.  The steam has same effect as water bath.

     

     

    Bake in middle of oven at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 min.  Turn oven off and open door

     slightly, keeping it open with a wooden spoon.  Let sit in oven for a few hours until the cake

    is almost totally cool.  Let sit out on the counter for another hour or so.  Then cover with plastic

    wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    I recommend making this at least 1 day in advance.

    Note: I’d like to try whipping up about a half pint of whipped cream with some sugar and

    spreading it on top, then topping with some thinly sliced strawberries the next time.

    Or just slice up some fresh strawberries or a mixture of berries and serve on the side.

     

    Raspberry Swirl Variation :  Tried on Mother’s Day 2014 with excellent results

      For the raspberry sauce:

    • 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 12 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed

    In a small saucepan, combine the cornstarch, sugar and water. Add the raspberries

    and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture boils. Once boiling, cook

    and stir for one additional minute. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve placed

    over a bowl to remove seeds. Cool to room temperature or chill in refrigerator.

    Pour half of batter in crust.  Put little baby spoons of the sauce all over the batter.

    Then take a wooden skewer and swirl the sauce through,being careful not to touch

    crust when you do this.

    Then pour rest of batter on top and repeat with raspberry sauce in baby spoons over

    top; then swirl through.

     

    Homemade Ricotta Cheese with Fresh Herbs and Lemon

    Over the last few months, I’ve been wanting to make my own ricotta cheese.  I read a few recipes for this delicate and delicious cheese, I took a some ideas from a few sources and came up with my own version.  I served mine this weekend at my grandson’s third birthday party, and it was a hit.  It’s super easy to make and as fresh tasting as you can imagine.

    Ingredients:

    2 quarts whole milk

    1 pint heavy cream

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    for seasoning later:

    kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

    2 scallions, both green and white part, minced

    about 2 tablespoons minced  fresh chives

    1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced

    the zest of one lemon, and its juice, too

    Instructions:

    In a heavy six quart pot, pour the milk, the cream, and the 1 teaspoon salt.  Over medium heat, bring to a full boil, stirring every few minutes to prevent scorching.  When it comes to a boil and bubbles all over, add the lemon juice and turn off the flame.  Let sit for a minute until the mixture curdles and the curds separate from the whey (the liquid).  Set a sieve over a deep bowl and line the sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth.  Pour the mixture through the sieve.  Let sit for 20 minutes.  Then turn the cheese in the cheesecloth into a bowl.  Cover and put in fridge to cool.  After about 30 minutes, take out and add all the seasonings above:  the dill, scallion, chive, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  Mix gently with rubber spatula, and refrigerate until you serve with crackers or on toasted slices of baguette.