Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sausage Bread

Easter Sausage Bread
     Since it is Easter time, some of my family get together for an Easter Brunch.  This year it was my turn to host in my little apartment.  There was a total of 17 people at my house for brunch today.  I cooked the standard scrambled eggs, bacon, and some toast. Everyone else brought different dishes ranging from French toast to cake and fruit.  I also made a very good "breakfast in one" bread that now has become a tradition in its own right.  Sausage Bread.  This bread is so simple to make and only requires a few easy ingredients.  I used store bought pizza dough from the roll, some Italian sausage, fresh spinach, egg, and cheese.  That is it.  Quick, simple, and very delicious.  Sausage Bread will definitely start to show up on your brunch or breakfast table in the near future. 


  • Pizza dough in the roll
  • 1/2 lb Italian Sausage
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 bag fresh spinach
  • 1/2 bag fresh shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 15oz ricotta
  • Oregano

      Preheat oven to 425F.  In a sauté pan over high heat brown the Italian sausage.  Before it starts to finish its cooking mix in the fresh spinach and wilt.  In a side bowl scramble the eggs together and toss into the sausage mixture.  Cook by scrambling just until they are almost completely done as they will finish in the oven.  Remove from heat.  Meanwhile spread the pizza dough out on a greased baking sheet to make a rectangle. Spread the ricotta over the dough evenly leaving a little room around the edge. Sprinkle with some oregano.  Next sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the ricotta.  Now spread the sausage and egg mixture over the cheeses.  Fold in all four sides of the pizza dough in one inch.  Now bring one long side halfway in to the center then the other side on top of it until you have a loaf shape.  Quickly and carefully flip over so the seems are side down.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Slice and serve warm or cold the next day.  Breakfast in one bite!  Enjoy this delicious Sausage Bread.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Three pizzas

       I love PIZZA. I'm crazy about it. When I was little my Italian grandmother would take left over bread dough, spread some marinara, and cheese, and viola, little mini pizzas for PJ.

      When I typically make dough, I make enough for 2-3 pizzas. I am usually feeding some friends or family members who really enjoy homemade pizzas. For this one weekend I decided to make three very different styles: a traditional Margherita, a very rustic, herb, ricotta, and one that we used to get served in the school cafeteria. (Don't ask, it was just one of those things that I liked).

3 Types made tonight:

Traditional Margherita: Marinara, Mozzarella, and Basil. (That is all). Once you spread out your pizza dough just top with some homemade marinara sauce or a good store bought one that you like. Sprinkle out some fresh mozzarella, and top with fresh chopped basil.

Lunch Lady Taco: In high school our cafeteria used to make a taco pizza I loved, so I have recreated it and named it Lunch Lady because my Aunt Eleanor was our lunch lady. Spread store bought taco sauce, 1/2lb taco seasoned beef that you have cooked earlier, and cheddar cheese.

Rustic White/Rustico Bianco: Herb ricotta, (oregano, thyme, and garlic), 1/2 lb Italian sausage that you cooked earlier, sliced mushrooms, and fresh chopped baby spinach.

How to cook:

       I turn my gas oven up to the highest setting, typically 500 to 550 F. I place a wrack covered in tinfoil on top and place a pizza stone directly on the bottom of the oven. I let the oven preheat for about 30 minutes. I then use a pizza peel that my uncle made me and slide the pizza directly on the stone. It cooks in roughly 3-5 minutes. When you pull it out, it has that charred bottom and a nice light brown crispy looking crust. Almost like having your own stone pizza oven outside. One of these days I will build one and have it at my house. Buon Appetito!

P.S. the pictures do not do them justice. I need to work on the photography of it all.

Pizza Margherita
Lunch Lady Taco
Rustic white/ Rustico Bianco

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Perfect Pizza Dough

Homemade pizza dough

         I have tried many times to perfect the art of making pizza dough. I want that perfect dough with the right amount of crunch on the outside as well as the soft airy inside. The kind you find in New York or the place where pizza was born, Naples. I have tried many combinations of mixtures from using flour, water, oil, even adding sugar. After many attempts, many test runs on friends and family, I think I have finally found the perfect results. It is so simple that I cannot believe it took so long. The recipe bellow is enough to make three decent size mediums to large pizzas. It isn't difficult to adjust the recipe to make only two or just a single pie once you understand the correct feel and texture you are looking for when making this. I will explain more as I go through the steps of making this great Pizza Dough.

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch Instant yeast
  • ** 1/2 cup Bread starter, (or less it's an experiment)
  • Extra flour for counter surface

** I have a bread starter that I made over a year ago and have been storing in my fridge, feeding and using it all the time now. Whenever I want to use it, I remove it from the fridge let it come to room temperature over night, and add in equal amounts of flour and water, typically a cup of each. All a starter is is live yeast that you have grown and made yourself.
     First in a mixing bowl combine 2 cups of the flour, (I use King Arthur Bread), the water, starter, pinch of instant yeast, and pinch of salt. Mix for a couple minutes. It will resemble pancake batter. Don't worry; this is how it should be. Cover and let it sit for about 30 minutes. When you uncover it it will still look like pancake batter but has risen slightly. Next mix in the last 1/2 cup of flour. As soon as you do this it will form a ball around the mixing spoon. Lay out on a floured surface. Now you will knead it briefly adding some of the flour from the counter as you go. Pizza dough should feel very moist, spongy, and slightly sticky. Form into a large loaf with floured hands. Cut into 3 equal parts and form into small balls. When you cut into the dough you will see how it is still wet and sticky inside. I then place in sealed individual lightly oiled plastic containers placed in fridge for at least 24 hours. When you want to finally make the pizza remove them from the container and spread them out on a floured surface. They will be very elastic and it will not take much to spread them out onto the surface. You can even carefully toss them if you want that "pizza tossing" feel. Be careful though, they are very fragile and elastic. If they rip or tear, just form them back into a ball. If you had the right amount of flour and liquid they shouldn't tear at all. But sometimes they do. The dough is very easy to work with. Now add you own toppings and Viola! Next post will go into some recipes of different types and how to cook them.  Enjoy your experimenting with the dough and have fun.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hot Sweet and Sour Chicken


Hot Sweet and Sour Chicken with Chow Mein

This was my take on a combination of two different Chinese dishes. I used the inspiration of a Chinese cook's recipe for Chili chicken, Ching-He Huang's, with quite a bit of a spin on making it more my own. I have been a bit obsessed with learning Chinese cooking for some time now. I could eat Chinese take out at least once a week. I have tried my hand at a couple different dishes and will continue to pursue many more. I will be posting them as I try them out. I love how Chinese cooking seems to use some of the easiest and freshest ingredients to make a fulfilling meal. I am slowly learning, however, that the clean up can be a challenge in itself. I call this dish: Hot Sweet and Sour Chicken with Vegetable Chow Mein.  Trust me, this dish will become a must of your own.  The stickiness and spicy bite to these are fantastic.  (As I’m writing this, I want to make some more).


  • 1-2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size chunks
  • 6 oz yellow chow mein noodles
  • 6 oz bag precut cabbage and broccoli, (found this in my local store)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ diced orange bell pepper
  • 5 slices of fresh ginger, diced
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 tbs chili paste
  • 3 tbs sweet and sour sauce
  • Light soy
  • Sesame oil
  • Oyster sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
  • Fresh parsley

    Cook noodles as directed on package.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  In a hot wok sauté the precut cabbage and broccoli in a bit of veg oil.  Toss in green onion and sauté until a bit soft.  Toss in drained pasta, drizzle in a couple splashes of sesame oil and soy.  Set aside.  In same wok pour in enough veg oil to fry the chicken, (about half full) and heat.  In a side bowl mix the two egg whites and two tbs cornstarch.  Toss in the chicken and coat.  Fry in oil for about 5 minutes in small batches until nice and dark golden brown.

    Drain on paper towel lined plate.  Drain oil out of wok and reserve in heat resistant jar for later use if needed.  Sauté in same wok the orange pepper, garlic, ginger, chili paste, sweet and sour sauce, and a couple dashes of soy and oyster sauce.  Toss chicken back in and reduce the sauce.  Serve in a bowl over the veg chow mein with some fresh chopped parsley.  Serves 2-4. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I've been nominated for an award!

I'm excited that Carrie Stratford-Collver from Wanted.....More Friends to Feed has nominated me for my very first blogging award...The Liebster Award, thanks a million Carrie.

Don't know what it is, neither did I until I did some research. It's an award given to new blogs with less then 200 followers (sadly I have probably the least at this point so feel free to subscribed, PLEASE) and you're nominated by fellow bloggers. In reality, there's no judges, no competition, no actual award mailed to my house. LOL  

I'm pretty new at this whole blogging thing, so getting any recognition that doesn't come from my close circle is a pretty neat thing, especially considering that Carrie and I have never met and she lives in Ontario.
The rules of The Liebster Award are that you post 11 random facts about yourself, answer the 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you and then come up with your own list of 11 questions for the 11 bloggers who you nominate and go back to their blogs to let them know you've nominated them.
11 random facts about me:

  1. I am ambidextrous.
  2. I can do the wave with my tongue
  3. I really like hamburger helper
  4. I am obsessed with Shamrock Shakes
  5. My favorite movie is The Greatest Show on Earth
  6. I am currently making homemade wine
  7. I enjoy sleep about as much as cooking and eating
  8. I am usually late for most things, (odd since I was premature 3 months)
  9. On that note, I only weighed 2 lbs when I was born
  10. I love to travel
  11. I love family heritage.

11 Questions from Carrie:
  1. Why did you start your blog? To promote my Children's book and get my recipes out there as friends have requested.
  2. What did you want to be when you were 5? In the circus 
  3. Who is your biggest inspiration and why? Probably mom, she's a saint
  4. If you were stuck on a deserted island with one person, who would it be and why? Rihanna, (isn't it obvious she's hot)
  5. What's your greatest achievement? Published author 
  6. What's your favorite season? Summer
  7. What advice would you give to a new blogger? Research, take advice, and have patience 
  8. What's your favorite song? right now it is, Locked out of Heaven by Bruno Mars
  9. Do you put your pants on left side first, right side first or both legs at once? right 
  10. Hoodie and Jeans or a Dress and Stilettos? As a man, hoodie and jeans. LOL 
  11. What is your dream travel destination? Bora Bora
11 Questions for my nominated blogs:

  1. What is your favorite food?
  2. Who is your hero?
  3. What do you enjoy cooking the most?
  4. Favorite movie?
  5. If you could go on a date with a celebrity who would it be?
  6. What is your favorite color?
  7. What is your job?
  8. Favorite pastime as a child?
  9. Favorite vacation spot?
  10. How would you promote your blog more?
  11. Why are you currently writing your blog? 

My nominated blogs are..........


My Sense of Taste

Karin's Recipe

S'en la cocina

Loretta's Kitchen

Cynfully Wonderful
    I know I am supposed to have 11 blogs I like, but most of them have over 200 members.  I will keep trying.  Please check out these blogs though, they are great for some very different recipes, travels, etc., from different standpoints. 


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Irish Stew and Apple Braised Cabbage

Irish Stew and cabbage

       A traditional Irish dish that is so simple and can be also so tasty is Irish Stew.  Since this is St. Patrick’s Day and being part Irish I have decided to share my version of Irish Stew along with some Apple Braised Cabbage.  Some people like to think that Irish food can be somewhat a bit bland; however I have found it to be some of the best and most hearty and delicious meals.  Give this dish a try and trust me you will love it and will add it to your St. Patty’s day menu or winter weekend line up. 
  • 1 lb stew beef
  • ½ lg white onion
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 2 cups baby golden potatoes
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth
  • ½ cup good Irish Ale
  • ½ tsp savory
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Parsley
  • 2 tbs butter

  • 1 tbs flour
Irish Stew

    In a Dutch oven over medium high heat, brown beef in a tbs of butter.  Meanwhile dice up the onion, carrots, and potatoes into nice bite size chunks.  Toss in the onion and sauté.   Stir in the tbs of flour and mix in to add some thickening to the later stew.  Toss in the carrots and potatoes. 

Irish Stew

     Stir in the beef broth, the ale, along with the savory, thyme, and bay leaf.  Bring to a nice simmer and turn the heat down to low.  Cover and simmer for about 2 ½ to 3 hours stirring occasionally.  Before serving, stir in the last tbs of butter to give some silkiness.   Sprinkle with parsley and serve.  Serves 4.
Apple Braised Cabbage
Cabbage is an Irish staple and goes well served as a side dish with stew.  I used already shredded green cabbage.  Just a quick sauté in a pan and you are ready to serve.
  • 15ox shredded green cabbage
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups apple juice
  • 1 tbs butter
In a large sauté pan melt butter and toss in the cabbage.  Sauté until cabbage has softened a bit.  Pour in the apple juice.  Cover and simmer on low until the juice has been absorbed by the cabbage.  Serves 4.

Brown Soda Bread

Soda Bread
Brown Soda Bread
Here is a quick and good recipe for a Brown Soda Bread, a staple in Irish cooking. 
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs molasses
     Preheat oven at 350F. Combine first six ingredients together in a bowl until mixed well. In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, egg, and molasses until blended.  Add to flour mixture until combined. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until able to form into a ball.  Split into two equal loafs.  Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Enjoy with a nice stew or with some jam.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CORNBREAD and Beans: A country staple

Beans and Cornbread
          Many southerners know what I am talking about when it comes to comfort food. Growing up in West Virginia cornbread and beans was a staple of our household having it at least twice a month. It is one of the easiest and tasteful dishes to make. As a kid, this was not one of my favorite dishes. In fact I couldn't stand it when my dad or mom made this. I much preferred S.O.S. to this. As a matter of fact, S.O.S. is one of my favorite cheap meals to this day. (Hope most of you know what S.O.S. is). Anyways, this dish requires a small bag of Northern White beans, some ham hocks or jowl, some white onion, green pepper, water, salt and pepper, and some thyme. I soak the beans over night and then sauté the onion and pepper in a little oil.  Stir in the beans, cover with water, and stir in some thyme. Simmer for a couple hours until beans are done. Now, the cornbread is the secret to making this dish stand out. My mother always made a simple cornbread, however I decided to mix it up a bit and go for an even better, more mouthwatering cornbread: Sweet Brown Cornbread.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal, (I use a really good brand)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup veg. oil
  • 1 1/2-2 tbs molasses

          Preheat oven to 400F.  Lightly grease a 9 inch pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Stir in egg, milk, and oil until well combined.  Mix in the molasses.  Pour batter in pan.  Bake for roughly 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Once you have this amazing brown cornbread with a nice bowl of soup beans, you will never enjoy another cornbread again.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Irish Chicken Connemara

Chicken Connemara
          I recently went on a family trip to Ireland last fall to visit the homeland of my father's side of the family. It was an amazing trip, and I will soon post a few pictures and stories regarding this travel adventure. Growing up half Irish the only few dishes we ate were your simple stews, meat and potatoes, and other dishes here and there. One of my memorable dishes while visiting Dublin was a dish called Chicken Connemara. Not so sure it is of traditional Irish cuisine, but when I saw that the dish contained cream, bacon, and whiskey, I was all in. I was actually surprised at how light this dish was. I was thinking that the cream would make it heavier; however the combination of the cream and whiskey I feel actually made this a light dish. I went to the restaurants website to find out what all was in it. It listed only: cream, mushrooms, bacon, and Irish mist. I had no Irish mist so I substituted Irish whiskey with a little bit of honey. This turned out to be one of my newest favorites that I will be making quite a bit. Sadly the picture above doesn’t do it justice.  You cannot see how creamy it was.  Something I need to work on is my food photography.

  • 3 strips of bacon
  • 2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup of Irish whiskey
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs rosemary
  • Pinch oregano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt/pepper

            In a large skillet over medium high heat cook bacon on one side of the pan.  On the other side of the same skillet drizzle the olive oil and cook the chicken breasts at the same time. Once bacon is crisp remove and drain on paper towel lined plate.  Keep cooking the chicken until browned on both sides.  Remove chicken and drain off most of the grease. Meanwhile dice the 1/2 onion and the 1/2 cup mushrooms and sauté them in the same skillet.  Mix the whiskey and honey in a bowel. Pour in the mixture and simmer on low to medium heat until the liquid reduces a bit.  Stir in the heavy cream, rosemary, and oregano and mix.  Place the chicken back, cover, and simmer on low for about 10-15 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with rice or roasted potatoes.  Serves 2-3 people.

P.S. just thought I would capture the awesomeness that is BACON!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Casserole into Soup


Every picnic, every Thanksgiving, and seemingly every special event, many of us in the family beg my mother to make her Broccoli Casserole.  A wonderful combination of broccoli, cheese, chicken, and rice that makes this dish a favorite of many. No clue where she obtained it, but it has always been a "go to" for big meals and special occasions.  Now as a self proclaimed foodie, I like to take dishes of all kinds and turn them into another form.  I have taken many main courses and turned them into soups, taken soups and turned them into sandwiches.  Whatever it is, I like to try different ways of eating the same wonderful dish.  For this time around I decided to take this casserole and turn it into a soup.  Now I know what everyone is thinking, (there already is broccoli and cheese soup), but this is just a bit different and the taste is great.  Don't be mad if you really enjoy this, because it truly is not the healthiest dish out there.  This soup contains processed cheese, and yes I know that it is not that healthy for you, but it just does the great cheesy job of making it taste better.  I believe that we should not limit ourselves to what is supposed to be good for us and what isn't.  Everything in moderation is just fine in my opinion. 
Broccoli Casserole Soup
  • 2 Lg boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ Lg white onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 56oz of Chicken stock/broth
  • 16oz of water
  • 1 ½ cups instant rice
  • 1 ½ 12oz bag of frozen broccoli spears
  • 1/4- 1/3 lb processed cheese cut into cubes
  • 1 10oz can of cream of chicken
  • 1 10oz can of cream of mushroom
  • 2 tbs of flour
  • 2 tbs of butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt/pepper
                In a large Dutch oven sauté onion in 1 tbs of olive oil.  Once onion has softened add garlic and sauté just before turning brown.  Pour in chicken broth and water and frozen chicken breasts.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until chicken is done.  Remove chicken and let cool until you are able to pull apart into small pieces.  Mix in both cans of cream of chicken and cream of mushroom into the soup mixture until incorporated.  Toss chicken back in and frozen broccoli.  As the soup continues to simmer, in a side sauté pan melt the 2 tbs of butter.  Whisk in the 2 tbs of flour to make a rue.  Whisk in the cup of milk slowly until mixture has thickened.  Next whisk in the cubes of processed cheese until the mixture has become a nice soft cheese.  Pour the cheese mixture into the soup and incorporate.  About five minutes before you are ready to serve stir in the instant rice until cooked through.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with some nice toasted bread. Serves between 6 and 8 people with some leftovers.  I like to make a lot of soup so I can freeze some as well.  Enjoy!
Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup