5 Ingredient Homemade Beefaroni

I’m always trying new recipes I think my grandkids might like.  I made this simple recipe yesterday.  I was skyping with my son Benji who’s in Vietnam right now.  We were discussing all the different recipes he wants me to make when he gets home in a few weeks. I was showing him pictures of the beefaroni I was cooking and he told me that on the night he gets home from Vietnam, he wants that dish waiting for him.

  • 1 lb. good chop meat (I bought Whole Foods short rib chop meat)
  • 1 28 oz. can organic Cento chunky style crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1 medium to large onion chopped
  • about 6-7 garlic cloves chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dried oregano (about 1 teaspoon)
  • about 3/4 lb. of pasta (I used De Cecco wagon wheels)
  • parmesan for serving

Saute onion for a few minutes in about 2 tablespoons olive oil till soft.  Add garlic and saute a few minutes. Add chop meat and brown over low flame.  Add salt and pepper and oregano.  Then add tomatoes and pure.  Break up the chunks of tomatoes with the spoon or spatula you are using to mix.  Cook over medium to low flame about 15-20 min dvakotla.com.ua.  You don’t want to reduce or lose too much of liquid, cause you’ll need it.

Boil your water and cook pasta till al dente.  Drain, and add about 3/4 of the box or pound to the meat sauce.  You’re ready to serve.  If you are serving it later, just heat it up in the microwave, because baking it in oven will dry it out.

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.

Homemade Applesauce

This is a great recipe for homemade applesauce.  You will think you’re eating baked apples with cinnamon.   I made this for my son and his friends, and they couldn’t get over how much better it was than eating store-bought applesauce.

  • 1 teaspoon good cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (I use Minute Maid lemon juice from concentrate if I don’t have fresh lemons)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths (or Cortland, Honeycrisp, Winesap) (Reserve some of the apple peels)
  • 3  large McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths (or any of the above varieties)
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place cut up apples in dutch oven or pyrex baking pan.  Sprinkle apples with the lemon juice, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, and water.  Add the reserved pieces of apple peel. Mix gently.  Bake for about 45 min.  Mix once or twice during the cooking.  After the 45 minutes, cook a little longer if aren’t soft enough.  When apples are soft enough, take a potato masher just to mash the bigger pieces a little.  There should be a little texture to this apple sauce.  If you wish, you can take out any pieces of apple peel, but they may have pretty much dissolved.  Refrigerate or serve warm.

Amazing, Incredible Irish Soda Bread

This is the most perfect Irish soda bread imaginable.  My son Danny’s friends couldn’t get over how great it was.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour (I use organic unbleached flour, preferably King Arthur or Whole Foods brand)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder (I use aluminum free)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, from the fridge is fine
2 eggs (1 extra large for the bread;  the other can be any size egg to be mixed with 1 tablespoon milk, half and half, or light cream for brushing on top of the bread before baking)
3/4 cup buttermilk (I usually use Friendship, which is 1.5%)
1/3 cup raisins (I try to use the most amazing raisins, which I get at Whole Foods (they are Sunview Organically Grown Black Seedless)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking powder, baking  soda, and salt. Cut butter with a knife into cubes, and add to bowl.  Cut in butter with pastry blender until crumbly.  Then take the raisins (if you are using the ones mentioned above, you’ll want to chop them up just a bit because they are larger than normal raisins) and add them to the flour mixture. In a small bowl, combine the one extra large egg with buttermilk and then pour into flour and butter mixture.  Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture just until moistened.  Take a piece of waxed paper and sprinkle a little flour on it.  Dump your dough onto the paper, and sprinkle just about 1 teaspoon of flour on top of it.  Gently knead 1 or 2 times.   Knead on a well-floured surface with just 2 or three motions.  You don’t want to overwork the dough.  Grease a cookie sheet with butter, and take the dough onto the cookie sheet, and shape it into a round loaf about 10 inches in diameter.  With a knife, make a X indentation in the loaf.  Mix the Shape dough into a round loag; place on a greased baking sheet. Cut a 1/4″-deep cross in the top of the loaf. Brush egg wash over loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  You will know the loaf is done when you put a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean.

Serve right out of oven with butter.  Or eat later and heat up in microwave or in toaster.

Easy Mac and Cheese

I had read a recipe in the NY Times for a Crusty Macaroni and Cheese.  I was having some company, and I decided to give it a try.  It’s very simple to make as you don’t make a white sauce or a roux.

The consensus was that it was very good, but not quite as creamy as my regular recipe.  But I liked it a lot, and I’ll definitely make it again.

Adapted from the New York Times Jan. 4, 2006

(The quantities are slightly changed from original recipe)

 

Recipe: Crusty Macaroni and Cheese

3 tablespoons butter (I used unsalted)

12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (I used an extra 3 oz. for the top)

16 ounces American cheese coarsely grated (mine was just sliced thin from the deli, and then broken into smallish pieces)

1 pound elbow pasta, boiled in salted water until just tender, drained, and rinsed under cold water
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional) (I used 1 teaspoon black pepper instead)
Salt (I used 2 light teaspoons of kosher salt)
2/3 cup whole milk

 

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Use one tablespoon butter to thickly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Combine grated cheeses and set aside three heaping cups for topping.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the cooked pasta, cheeses, pepper, and salt to taste. Place in prepared pan and evenly pour milk over surface. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top, dot with remaining butter and bake, uncovered, 45 minutes. Raise heat to 400 degrees and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, until crusty on top and bottom.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings.

New Blueberry Muffins

I’ve been wanting  a muffin that’s bigger and tastes more like a bakery muffin.  This is what I came up with. They are fluffy, perfectly sweet, and a little lemony.  These take a little more effort than my original blueberry muffins, and although I do like these, I’m still stuck on my originals.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 heavy cups blueberries dusted with flour
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (I use Fage)
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 scant cup sugar
  • about 1 teaspoon lemon zest (zest from maybe 1/2 to 3/4 of one lemon)
  • optional sugar for sprinkling on muffins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 385 degrees.  Put paper muffin cups in standard 12 muffin tin.  (This makes about 16 muffins though, so you’ll need 2 muffin tins.)

In large mixing bowl, put flour, powder, soda, and salt, and mix gently.  In second bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, yogurt, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla.

Pour wet ingredients into dry.  Gently fold dry into wet.  When about 1/2 way folded in, add the blueberries, and continue to fold flour and berries in just until you don’t see any more flour.  Use an ice cream scoop to scoop the batter into muffin cups.  Cups will be filled almost to the top.

Bake at 385 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Then reduce the temperature to 350.  Bake about 30-40 minutes until tops are nicely browned but not burnt, and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks.  Sprinkle with sugar after muffins come out of muffin for that professional look.

Shirley’s Amazing Barbecued London Broil Dinner with French Fries

This was one of my favorite dishes growing up.  I loved it with a passion, and I actually cooked it for the family on the grill.  This was the steak we had at our annual Father’s Day Barbecue when I was growing up.  Those were the best times.  Like my mother said often in the last few years, “Where did the time go?”  Over the years, whenever I made this for my mother, Shirley, she would say, “This is the only food I can eat and eat and eat.” I cooked this often for my kids and for my parents when my kids  were growing up, and at family barbecues.  My father Murray always said that this was the only steak he really liked.  People were always shocked to hear that the steak was london broil, and how simple the marinade was.  I think my mom actually got the recipe for this from our neighbors, Lenore and Arthur Velinsky.

So this past weekend, my son Danny requested that I make this for dinner for his friend Stephanie.  He wanted it to be the standard steak dinner I had growing up and I cooked for my kids all the time:  steak, french fries, salad, and LeSeur peas. I added buttermilk biscuits and homemade chocolate chip ice cream with my homemade hot fudge for dessert to the menu. Then Danny’s other great friend Mindy joined us.  Okay, this steak came out beyond beyond.  It was like butter, and so, so juicy.  Stephanie couldn’t believe it was london broil as she ordinarily hates that cut of steak.

All I can say about the steak is wow.

all you need is:

top round london broil- Look for an oyster cut if you see it. Look for a piece about 1 1/4 in. thick.  I bought this steak at Costco and it was phenomenal!  In the package came 2 steaks, and I made both.

The night before:  Place steak(s) in baking pan.  Pierce all over with fork.  Sprinkle  very lightly with Adolph’s unseasoned Meat Tenderizer.  Pour about 1/2 bottle of original Catalina dressing over the steak(s), and spread over with a spoon to cover- even the sides.  Flip steak(s).  Pierce with fork.  Sprinkle lightly with the Adolph’s.  Pour remaining dressing over steak(s) and spread nicely.  Cover pan with saran and put in fridge.

Next day – Take steaks out of fridge maybe 30-45 min. before you are ready to grill them.  Heat up grill on high.  Place steaks on grill. Here’s where it gets a little tricky.  You want the steaks to form a crust on the bottom, because that’s where the amazing flavor will come from.  I place the cover down on my grill after the steaks are on.  But if there aren’t a lot of flames, you won’t get that crust. There isn’t that much fat in the london broil, so you may not get enough flames.  So this is what I do.  But you have to be careful- and an expert griller to use this technique.  And you have to be an adult to do it.  I take the cap of my bottle of corn oil, and I fill it with oil.  I drizzle some oil on the top of the steaks.  This oil drips down and causes very large flames to form.  Then I put the top down for a few minutes, and repeat if necessary till the bottom of the steak is nicely charred.  I flip the steak and repeat.  Once both sides are charred, using the oil isn’t necessary any more.  Now, I have a really crummy propane grill, but if you have a much better grill, you might not need to use this technique with the oil.

I’m pretty good at being able to tell when my meat is done.  But if you can’t tell, just slice one slice off an end to see how it’s going.  We like our meat medium rare.

When meat is done, take off grill, and place on clean cutting board.  Cover with aluminum foil for about 5-7 min.  Then slice meat sort of on the diagonal about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick using a good knife, depending on how thick you like it.  Place on serving platter and drizzle with juices from cutting board and serve.

for my amazing -not homemade- french fries:

Heat corn or canola (I prefer corn) oil up in a large saucepan- you will need at least 32 oz. of oil.  Watch the oil.  If it gets too hot, it will start to catch fire.  I’m guessing it’s about 350 degrees or so.  Take about 20-24 oz. of Nathan’s Frozen French Fries out of the freezer and place carefully in the hot oil.  I guess alternately you could use a deep fat fryer, which I don’t have and I don’t need.  Cook over medium high heat till crisp and brown- about 20 minutes or so, and wrap in paper towels for a minute.  I just line the serving bowl I’ll be using with paper towels. Then when everything is ready to go on the table to be served, I just dump the fries out of the paper towels into the bowl.  Sprinkle nicely with kosher salt and serve.

THE MOST FLUFFY BUTTERMILK PANCAKES IN THE WORLD WITH THE TASTIEST BACON!

My son Danny’s best friend Stephanie stayed with us over the weekend, and I had the best time trying to spoil her with some of my cooking.  Saturday morning was a rare day for me with no work, so I made homemade buttermilk pancakes and bacon. Oh my god! The pancakes were the fluffiest, most tender, perfect buttermilk pancakes I’ve ever made or eaten. I have so many recipes for pancakes, but this one came from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook.

for the pancakes:

  • 2 cups King Arthur Flour unbleached organic flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I used Friendship 1 1/2 percent milkfat)
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons corn oil for the frying

In large mixing bowl, put dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt) and mix with fork to blend.  In large measuring cup, measure buttermilk and break egg in and mix with fork, add slightly cooled melted butter and mix with fork to blend.  Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisk by hand for just a bit till there are still a few lumps in there.  If you feel the batter is too thick- which I did- add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of buttermilk and whisk again.

I use a griddle pan that has a nonstick finish.  Heat the pan up for a couple of minutes- medium flame.  Then brush griddle pan with a small bit of oil.  Take a 1/4 cup measuring cup and use it as your spoon.  I use a scant 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.  Gently scoop batter into measuring cup and then pour it onto griddle.  Since griddle is already hot, it will only take a minute or two to cook the batter.  You will start to see a few bubbles form on your pancakes.  Turn when beautifully browned on bottom.  Take a peek before you flip- if the underside is not browned, do not turn yet! Let cook till browned before you flip.  Flip and then cook on other side till browned.  For next batch, brush pan again with oil and repeat above instructions.

Serve with butter and the best syrup- Whole Foods brand Organic maple syrup!

for the bacon:

Best bacon:  Stop n Shop’s brand- Nature’s Promise  (no nitrates or nitrites) bacon- it comes in a 12 oz. package

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place bacon on half sheet pan or slightly smaller pan.  Try not to overlap slices.  Bake for about 20-30 minutes.  We like ours well- done, so that might take a little more time.  Drain on paper towels and keep covered with paper towels to keep warm till pancakes are ready.

Amazing Chocolate Cake

It was my daughter’s anniversary today, so I decided to make a yummy dinner for her and her husband (and kids).  For dessert, I decided last night that I’d make a chocolate cake that I’d been eying the recipe for.  It is known as “That Chocolate Cake” and I found it on the Scharffen Berger web site and on Tastespotting. This cake was everything I was looking for, and it was super simple to make.  I believe this recipe is almost exactly the same as the recipe I’ve made for chocolate cupcakes (Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe) except that it calls for no vanilla. I followed it pretty much exactly as it appears on the web site listed above, except that I added vanilla.  The finished product was magnificent.  The cake was really dark, moist, but light at the same time.  The icing was bittersweet and creamy, but I prefer to use my own recipe you will find on this site under “Judy’s Famous Birthday Cake.”

Recipe is adapted from the Scharffen Berger recipe – “That Chocolate Cake.”


for the cake:

  • unsalted butter (for greasing pans)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup SCHARFFEN BERGER Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder (I used this brand of cocoa and after tasting the cake, I’m a huge fan of it! But I also use Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa and it’s great)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (I used aluminum free- Rumsford)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup  oil (I used light olive oil or canola)
  • 1 cup whole milk (I used organic)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 This is one recipe, but I prefer the chocolate icing from Judy’s Famous Birthday Cake  for the frosting which can also be found on this site:

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (I used a heavy 1 1/4 cups since I did not use the 99% unsweetened chocolate the original recipe calls for, but totally unsweetened chocolate)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I used organic)
  • 5 ounces  (squares) Baker’s unsweetened chocolate
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter (I used organic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, but I feel that is too much)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon  kosher salt (the original recipe does not call for salt)

make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter the bottom of  a 9 by 13 inch rectangular pan or two 9-inch round cake pans. My cake pans are amazing- they have a bottom that comes off the sides so I never have to worry about getting my layers out of the pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand held mixer or with a whisk, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, mixing on low speed just to combine. Mix in the eggs, oil, and milk and vanilla.

Increase the speed to medium and beat for a minute or two, scraping the bottom a few times. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the boiling water. The batter will be soupy, but if you mix it on low for a minute, it will thicken up a little.

Pour into greased rectangular pan or divide the batter evenly between the 2 round cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the cake starts to separate from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 15-30 minutes.  Then you can frost.  If using round pans, then run a knife around the edges of the pans turn the layers out onto the rack and cool completely. I just take the sides off my pans to finish the cooling, because the cake is a little fragile at this point.

 Start making the frosting while cake is baking or at end of baking, because it will require about 15 or 20 min. to firm up enough to use.

see Judy’s famous birthday cake recipe for favorite chocolate frosting.

make the frosting:

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and cream and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring almost constantly.  Turn flame off and add the chocolate.  When almost completely melted, add the butter and stir until melted. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the vanilla. Immediately place in the fridge to start firming up.  Every 15 min. or so, mix the frosting with a rubber spatula and place back in fridge.


to frost the cake:

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread the frosting with a palette knife or icing spatula. Spread about 3/4 cup of the frosting over the top of the first layer. Top with the second layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.  Cover with a good quality of plastic wrap that won’t stick to the icing and take any off the cake, and refrigerate cake until you serve it.

Delectble Fried Chicken Nuggets

The inspiration for this dish, believe it or not, came from eating various chicken dishes at P.F. Chang’s.  The chicken in Chang’s  Spicy Chicken and Kung Pao Chicken is in the form of perfect, juicy, lightly fried nuggets.  So I decided that my grandchildren and my kids would love it if I made homemade chicken nuggets.  I have made them about 4 times in the last 2 weeks for picnic lunches and for dinner.  I have made dipping sauces for them including a Greek yogurt, chive, dill, and lemon sauce, and a mustard and yogurt sauce.  These nuggets are scrumptious!

  • 1 to 2 lbs. of organic boneless chicken breasts (not thin sliced) You can find these at Wegmans or at Costco.
  • Italian bread crumbs (I like Colonna)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1-2 eggs mixed with a little water
  • light olive oil for frying

Directions:

Cut chicken up into nice size chunks- about 1 1/2 inches by about the same.  The sizes don’t have to be exactly the same.

Crack 1 or 2 eggs into a bowl or baking pan and add a little water, mix with fork.  Put cut pieces of chicken in egg mixture and toss to cover well.

Pour enough bread crumbs into a baking pan, add some kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer egg coated chicken to pan with bread crumbs and toss well to cover really well.

In large saute pan (about 10 in. in diameter) pour oil about 1/2 inch deep.  Heat up till nice and hot- about 350 degrees. Oil will start to shimmer when ready.  Drop chicken in carefully.  Fry on one side till nicely browned, turn and fry on other side till browned nicely.  Check to insure chicken is cooked through.  Drain on paper towels.

That’s it.

Sauces:

Greekish Yogurt Sauce

Mix about 1 1/2 cups Fage total fat or 2% fat Greek yogurt with zest of 1 lemon, juice of 1 lemon, fresh or freeze dried chive, and some freeze dried dill, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper.  Refrigerate till you use.

Or …  Mustard and Yogurt-Mayo  Sauce (inspired by Ina Garten)

In bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup mayo and 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons Guldens spicy mustard, 2 tablespoons country style grainy mustard.  Refrigerate till you use. Next time, I may use all yogurt as a healthier option.