Friday, June 3, 2022

Ramen Noodle Stir Fry

I loved this Ramen Noodle Stir Fry. It was pretty easy to make (I keep a lot of Asian condiments on hand), tasty, and felt healthy with the veggies. I used a bag of frozen broccoli florets and was really happy with the turnout- and it saved a lot of time. I can't wait to make this again- the leftovers were great, too. 

I graduated with my Bachelor's in Education today!! Tomorrow, my oldest son graduates from High School.  Good times. 

Ramen Noodle Stir Fry 
adapted from Carlsbad Cravings 

3 (3 oz.) ramen packets (9 ounces total), seasonings discarded
drizzle of toasted sesame oil (or a neutral oil)
1 pound lean ground beef 
1 small onion, chopped (half large onion)
3 cups medium broccoli florets (I used a bag of frozen broccoli florets)
2 thinly sliced carrots
1 red bell pepper chopped into 1/2” pieces
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, or 1 tsp ground
4-6 garlic cloves, minced or 1 tsp powder
chopped green onions for garnish (optional)

3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons Asian sweet chili sauce (like Mae Ploy)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons Asian hot chili sauce, optional (I didn't include)

1. Cook ramen in boiling water for 2 minutes (they will cook a bit more later). Rinse with cool water and toss with a drizzle of sesame oil to prevent the noodles from sticking. Set aside. (I skipped the oil but there is the danger of them sticking here.)

2. Whisk Sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Heat a large wok, heavy bottom stainless steel pan or cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef and onions, and cook until the beef is almost cooked through. Add broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, garlic and ginger and cook an additional 2 minutes.

4. Stir in the sauce and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 1 minutes, until thickened. Add the ramen and toss until evenly coated and the noodles are cooked to your liking, about one minute. Taste and season with additional chili sauce, salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with green onions if desired.

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Sunday, April 24, 2022

Cashew Caramel Cookies

I made these back around Christmas-time, using leftover homemade caramels we had made for Christmas. I made a half-batch and we really liked them. I haven't had a chance to post much lately, or really cook or bake anything lately, because I was doing student teaching to finish a degree.  But, I just finished! Now I can start doing normal things again.  
Cashew Caramel Cookies
Adapted from the Kitchn. Note- I cut this in half

2 sticks butter (8 ounces/226 grams)
2 cupstoasted salted or unsalted cashews (260 grams)
36 soft caramel candies (about 1 1/2 cups/293 grams total), such as Kraft (I used homemade)
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar (267 grams)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (67 grams)
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups spooned and leveled all-purpose flour (384 grams)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Arrange two racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Melt 2 sticks butter in the microwave or on the stovetop and set aside to cool slightly. Coarsely chop 2 cups toasted salted or unsalted cashews. Unwrap 36 soft caramel candies.

2. Place the butter, 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar, and 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the cashews, 2 large eggs and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, and whisk until ribbony and smooth. Add 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Stir with a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.

3. Using your hands, take 2 caramel candies, press them together, and roll them into a smooth ball. (Depending on the brand and freshness of your caramel candies, they might be too firm to press together. If so, arrange the caramels in a single layer on a large microwave-safe plate and microwave for 30 seconds until the caramels are warm but not melting. If you accidently microwave them too long and they start to melt, just let them cool for a few minutes.) **I used one caramel**

4. Using a large 2 1/3-inch (#16) cookie scoop or 1/4-cup measuring cup, portion out the dough and roll into large balls. **I made regular-sized cookies, using a regular cookie scoops and one caramel for each cookie** Flatten the balls slightly and press a caramel ball into the center of each one. Tightly form the dough around the caramel and reroll into a ball again. Make sure there are no cracks so the caramel does not ooze out during baking. Place the dough balls 1-2 inches apart on the baking sheets (6 to 8 per sheet).

5. Bake 2 sheets at the same time, swapping the top sheet to the bottom rack and bottom sheet to the top midway through baking, until the tops of the cookies are lightly browned, 14 to 17 minutes total. **I can only bake one sheet at a time in my little oven, and my smaller cookies only needed 8-9 minutes** Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for at least 30 minutes before moving. (If you try to pick up the cookies while still hot, the caramel will fall out—and potentially burn you—so be patient.) Keep baking batches until dough is gone.

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Friday, March 25, 2022

Burrata and Marinated Cherry Tomato Sandwiches

This is one of my favorite recipes; discovered just a few months ago.  I made it for the first time last fall.  Since then, I've made it with fall and winter tomatoes, and it's just wonderful.  I can't wait to try it with summer tomatoes.  This recipe is easy, too.  You simply marinate the tomatoes for a little while (can be just a few hours or overnight), place on half of a toasted roll, top with burrata cheese, and black pepper.  Here in Italy, I buy "straciatella", which is just the inside of the burrata mozzarella ball; it comes in a tub.  Both ways would be good.  I'm not sure how common burrata is in the US, but I know friends there who do buy it.  

Sorry for the photo overload; these sandwiches are just so beautiful.  
Burrata and Marinated Cherry Tomato Sandwiches
adapted from Saveur

2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. capers
10 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped (2 Tbsp.)
Crushed red chile flakes, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 8-oz. ball burrata or straciatella cheese
4 small crusty sandwich rolls

1.  To a large bowl, add the tomatoes, oil, vinegar, capers, anchovies, a pinch of chile flakes, and a generous pinch each of salt and black pepper. Stir well to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest on the countertop or in the refrigerator for 8 hours or up to overnight (just an hour or two is also fine).

2.  When ready to serve, let the tomato mixture come to room temperature. Split each sandwich roll (I toast mine- I think these would get too soggy otherwise) and top with some of the tomato mixture (stir briefly before spooning it on). Divide the burrata among the rolls. Season with salt, black pepper, or more chile flakes to taste, and serve.

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Friday, February 18, 2022

Aloo Gobi

I loved this Indian cauliflower and potato dish.  It made a delicious addition to our at-home Indian meal.  You roast the veggies first, which creates beautiful flavor.  Then, you cook them together with some jalapenos and spices on the stove.  This is something I need to make again.  
Aloo Gobi
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 (1 3/4-lb) head cauliflower, cut into 3/4-inch-wide florets
1 1/4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeño, including seeds (I had to use pickled here)
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup water
Accompaniment: lemon wedges

1.  Preheat oven to 475°F.  While oven is preheating, place a shallow baking pan on the rack (like a large rimmed cookie sheet). 

2.  Toss cauliflower and potatoes together in a bowl with 3 tablespoons oil, cumin seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread in hot baking pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and browned in spots and potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.

3.  While vegetables are roasting, cook onion, garlic, jalapeño, and ginger in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until very soft and beginning to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in water, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, then stir in roasted vegetables. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.  We served this with Indian curry and rice.  

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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Sticky Toffee Pudding

On our family trip to Spain back in 2019, we went to Gibraltar for one day.  At a restaurant there, we tried Sticky Toffee Pudding.  I had never had it before, and really, really loved it.  I've wanted to make it ever since then.  I saved a few recipes, but finally settled on one from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  I meant to make this for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but didn't get around to it until after that.  The recipe was easy and the whole family loved it!  I really, really loved it.  I made it in a 8x8 pan (or maybe it's 9x9). 
Sticky Toffee Pudding
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

6 ounces (170 g) dates, pitted and finely chopped (I bought pitted dates for ease)
¾ cup boiling water
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup (159 g) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (85 g) butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cup (178 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup (159 g) packed light or dark brown sugar
½ cup (113 g) butter
½ cup heavy whipping cream
Pinch of coarse, kosher salt
¼ to ½ cup chopped pecans, optional (I didn't use)
Additional heavy whipping cream for drizzling, optional

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8X8- or 9X9-inch pan.  For the cake, in a medium bowl, stir together the dates, boiling water, baking soda and vanilla extract. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.

2.  In a separate medium bowl, cream together the granulated sugar and butter with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer) until well-combined and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs and mix.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined.  Fold in the date mixture (no need to drain) until combined; don’t overmix.

4.  Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.  Bake for 22-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top springs back to the touch.  May need more baking time, but don’t overbake or the cake may be dry.

5.  Let the cake cool completely in the pan – although the cake can be served slightly warm also.

6.  For the sauce, combine the sugar, butter, cream, and salt in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the sauce is smooth and combined, 5-7 minutes.  Cut cake into squares and pour the warm sauce over the individual servings.  Sprinkle with pecans, if using; and drizzle with a teaspoon or so of heavy cream.                                                   
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Monday, January 17, 2022

Kinderpunsch (Non-alcoholic German mulled punch)

This is a holiday beverage;  a non-alcoholic substitute for the traditional mulled wine popular at German Christmas markets (and other countries, too, including Italy).  This drink is popular with children or with anyone who does not want to drink alcohol.  I meant to post this before Christmas, but better late than never.  


2 cups apple juice
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup cherry juice
2 cups water
8 cloves
2 star anise (I didn't have this, so I omitted)
2 cinnamon sticks
4-5 bags hibiscus tea
honey, to taste

1.  In a medium-large pot, combine all the ingredients except for the tea bags.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce to low heat, and simmer 10 minutes.  Add the hibiscus tea bags, and let steep 7-10 minutes.  Sweeten with honey if desired.  

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Sunday, December 26, 2021

Overnight No-Knead Focaccia Bread

I've tried a few no-knead (and kneaded) focaccia recipes, many of which are on this blog.  I'll probably never make another after finding this recipe, though.  This recipe is phenomenal, SO easy, so tasty... just everything. You barely have to touch the dough- just mix together the night before, similar to the popular no-knead bread recipes floating around.  (You can also make the morning of, if you don't have time to do overnight.)  It has a slow rise in the fridge.  Then, you dump it out onto an oiled baking sheet where it has another slow rise (up to 4 hours) at room temp.  Then you press it into the corners of the baking sheet while the oven preheats, sprinkle it with kosher salt and more olive oil, and bake.  I love this bread so much I made it for my family's Christmas Eve dinner a few days ago.  

Another reason this recipe is great because it can wait around, rising, until you're ready for it.  (PS: The original recipe calls for brushing it with garlic butter after it comes out of the oven, but it's so good without it that I've never tried that, and will omit it from the recipe I'm posting below.) 

Overnight No-Knead Focaccia Bread
adapted from Epicurious

1 (¼-oz.) envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)
2 tsp. honey
5 cups (625 g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. Morton kosher salt
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for hands
Flaky sea salt or Kosher salt 
softened butter, for pan

1.  Whisk yeast, honey, and 2½ cups lukewarm water in a medium bowl and let sit 5 minutes. Add flour and salt; mix with a rubber spatula until a shaggy dough forms and no dry streaks remain.

2. Pour 4 Tbsp. oil into the biggest bowl that will fit in your refrigerator. Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover with a silicone lid or plastic wrap and chill until dough is doubled in size (it should look very bubbly and alive), at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. (Mine did NOT rise super high in the fridge and get to the top of the bowl, just FYI.)

3.  Generously butter an 18x13" rimmed baking sheet (or similar size). Pour 1 Tbsp. oil into center of pan. Keeping the dough in the bowl, gather up edges of dough farthest from you and lift up and over into center of bowl. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat process. Do this 2 more times; you want to deflate dough while you form it into a rough ball. (Using a fork in each hand makes this process even easier and less messy!) (There's a video on the original recipe, but it's probably also fine if you just dump the dough onto the baking sheet.)

4.  Transfer dough to prepared pan. Pour any oil left in bowl over the dough and coat it in oil. (At this point, don't stretch the dough to fit the pan- you'll do that in Step 5.)  Let rise, uncovered, in a dry, warm spot until doubled in size, at least 1½ hours and up to 4 hours. To see if it’s ready, poke the dough with your finger. The dough should spring back slowly, leaving a small visible indentation. If it springs back quickly, the dough isn’t ready. (If at this point the dough is ready to bake but you aren’t, you can chill it up to 1 hour.)

5.  Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 450°F.  Gently stretch out dough to fill the baking sheet. Dimple focaccia all over with your fingers, as if you’re aggressively playing the piano, creating very deep depressions in the dough (go all the way to the baking sheet). Drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and sprinkle with sea salt or more Kosher salt. Bake focaccia until puffed and golden brown all over, 20–30 minutes.

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