Crusty Bread that I don’t have to knead? Just what I needed to go with the soup I was making. Honestly, the recipe seemed too easy but it worked perfectly. I baked the bread in my Lodge Dutch Oven and I baked it according to directions. The crust was a little too brown, but the interior of the bread was perfect and tasted great!
It is wonderful served with soup and also wonderful as a sandwich. As long as I plan a day ahead, I can make this bread any time!
CRUSTY NO-KNEAD BREAD
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. active dry yeast
1 ½ cups water room temperature
- Form the dough: In a big bowl mix the flour, salt and yeast together. Pour water into the bowl and using a spatula or a wooden spoon mix it until well incorporated. You do not need to activate the yeast before, even though we’re using active dry yeast. The slow rising process will do the trick.
- Allow it to rise: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on your counter or inside your unheated oven for 12 to 18 hours.
- Preheat your oven: Preheat oven to 450°F. Add your cast iron pot to the oven as it’s heating and heat it as well until it’s at 450°F. Usually when the oven is done preheating your pot should be hot enough as well. Remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid from it. Use oven mitts, as to not burn yourself.
- Shape the dough: Flour your hands really well and also sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough. With your floured hands gently remove the dough from the bowl and roughly shape it into a ball. Sprinkle some extra flour directly into the bottom of the pot. Take the ball of dough and drop it into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place it back in the oven. Alternatively, you can also place the ball of dough onto a piece of parchment paper, then lift the parchment paper and drop it in the pot, with parchment paper and all. This could also ensure that your bread doesn’t stick at all to the bottom of the pot. I have found that if I use parchment paper, the bread doesn’t brown so much on the sides, but otherwise it’s still crusty and delicious.
- Finish the bread: Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, after which remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove the bread from the pot, it should fall out easily. Let cool completely before slicing into it and serving.
Recipe from JoCooks.com
French Macarons are such a light, sweet delicacy. I never would think of making them, yet, one day, my oldest daughter, Megan, called to say she’d had a dream about making Macarons and was going to bake them that very day. Megan is the dessert maker in our family, always coming up with something new and delightful. Even so, I thought they would be extremely difficult, especially at Denver altitude.
Never fear! The results were stunning and delectable. The only change Megan made to the recipe was reducing the vanilla and adding almond extract to both the cookie and to the frosting. I’ll leave the Macaron making to Megan and praise (and enjoy) the results!
For the Cookie
- 100 g egg whites room temperature or 3 large eggs
- 140 g almond flour or 1 1/2 cups
- 90 g granulated sugar just under 1/2 cup
- 130 g powdered sugar or 1 cup
- 1 tsp. vanilla 5mL (Megan used 3/4 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract)
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar 800mg
For the Buttercream
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened 226g
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar 100g
- 1 tsp. vanilla (Megan used 3/4 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract)
- 3 tbsp. water 30mL
- 1 pinch salt
For the Macarons:
Sift the confectioners sugar and almond flour into a bowl.
Add the room temperature egg whites into a very clean bowl.
Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites. Once they begin to foam add the cream of tartar and then SLOWLY add the granulated sugar.
Add the food coloring (if desired) and vanilla then mix in. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Begin folding in the 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
Be careful to add the remaining dry ingredients and fold gently.
The final mixture should look like flowing lava, and be able to fall into a figure eight without breaking. Spoon into a piping bag with a medium round piping tip and you’re ready to start piping.
Pipe one inch dollops onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (this should be glued down with dabs of batter). Tap on counter several times to release air bubbles. Allow to sit for about 40 minutes before placing in oven.
Bake at 300F for 12-15 minutes, rotate tray after 7 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from baking sheet.
For the French Buttercream Filling:
Combine sugar and water in medium saucepan. Heat over low heat while stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium- high and bring to a boil
Put egg yolks in a stand-mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until thick and foamy.
Cook the sugar and water syrup until it reaches 240 degrees F. Immediately remove from heat. With mixer running, SLOWLY drizzle hot syrup into bowl with yolks.
Continue mixing until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch and the yolk mixture has cooled to room temperature.
Add in butter one cube at a time allowing each piece to incorporate before adding the next. Add vanilla and salt. Continue mixing until buttercream is smooth and creamy. (About 5-6 minutes.) Add food coloring if desired.
- THE MERINGUE!!!! That meringue HAS TO BE STIFF! I had no idea French meringue could be whipped to such a thick marshmallowy consistency but all it takes is a bit of extra whisking. You’ll notice the meringue start to fill the whisk when you’re getting close to the right stage.
- Sift, Sift, SIFT! Those larger pieces of almond flour will mar the surface of your macarons. Best practice is to sift then whiz in the food processor and repeat two more times. Discard the larger particles, don’t try to press them through the sieve.
- Use a scale if possible, accuracy helps with this recipe.
- The mixing will take some practice, you will fold and fold the batter and then use the spatula to GENTLY press the batter against the bowl. You want to remove some of the bubbles but not to many… Continue this until it reaches a thick “lava” consistency. It should slowly fall off the spatula in ribbons and be able to form a figure eight without breaking.
- Pipe the macarons perpendicular to the surface. If your tip is pointing a bit in any particular direction when you pipe the macarons might be oblong or malformed.
- Add your coloring to the meringue after it reaches the soft peak stage.
- When you are finishing the piping motion stop squeezing the bag and pull up with a circular motion.
- The macarons will be best after 2-3 days resting in the fridge.
- If you over-bake the shells and they’re too crisp, brush the bottom with some milk before assembly to soften them up.
Recipe adapted from Preppykitchen.com
Who doesn’t love a lemon bar? I associate Lemon Bars with Spring, warmer weather, longer days, and early spring flowers. The tart filling paired with the shortbread crust. Yummo!
2 cups granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
optional: confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished bars out (makes cutting easier!). Set aside.
- Make the crust: Mix the melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir to completely combine. The dough will be thick. Press firmly into prepared pan, making sure the layer of crust is nice and even. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the warm crust (not all the way through the crust). A new step I swear by, this helps the filling stick and holds the crust in place. Set aside until step 4.
- Make the filling: Sift the sugar and flour together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and lemon juice and whisk until completely combined.
- Pour filling over warm crust. Bake the bars for 22-26 minutes or until the center is relatively set and no longer jiggles. (Give the pan a light tap with an oven mitt to test.) Remove bars from the oven and cool completely at room temperature. I usually cool them for about 2 hours at room temperature, then stick in the refrigerator for 1-2 more hours until pretty chilled. I recommend serving chilled.
- Once cool, lift the parchment paper out of the pan using the overhang on the sides. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares before serving. For neat squares, wipe the knife clean between each cut. Cover and store leftover lemon bars in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Freezing Instructions: Lemon bars can be frozen for up to 3-4 months. Cut the cooled bars (without confectioners’ sugar topping) into squares, then place onto a baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour. Individually wrap each bar in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place into a large bag or freezer container to freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator, then dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Recipe from SallysBakingAddiction.com
Beef Macaroni Skillet, a one skillet meal, was a regular menu item when my children were young. It was a quick meal that I could put together after work. I haven’t made it in over 20 years and it was a fun walk down memory lane.
My older daughter, Megan, and her girls were here to experience it. Megan didn’t remember it but liked it as did her two year old daughter. The five year old didn’t care for it, but then again, she’s in a phase of only liking what she knows.
The original recipe card is in my handwriting, probably around the age of 11 or 12, when I started my recipe box. It’s funny to look back at it and find humor in the reference to ‘this main dish’.
BEEF MACARONI SKILLET
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups tomato juice (add more if it becomes too dry)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
- Brown beef and onion in a skillet. Drain fat.
- Add remaining ingredients and cook, covered, until the macaroni is cooked, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally while cooking to prevent from sticking.
Juicy, fresh pears are such a treat! For the past few years, I’ve treated myself to Harry and David pears. The grandkids beg for sliced pears like it is candy.
In addition to enjoying the pears by themselves, this Pear Salad is to die for. The combination of blue cheese and candied, or spiced, nuts it wonderful. The dressing is light and a perfect compliment to the salad. My pears are almost gone but I’ll savor every remaining bite!
ROYAL RIVIERA PEAR SALAD
1 head Butter or other lettuce, washed and dried
2 Pears, peeled, cored and sliced (or diced)
2/3 cup blue cheese (if you despise blue cheese–replace with a cheese you like)
2/3 cup candied nuts (I use my homemade spiced pecans)
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup walnut oil (or canola)
- To create dressing, whisk together the first 5 ingredients. Gradually whisk in the walnut oil.
- Gently tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Arrange on four chilled plates.
- Place fans of pear slices on lettuce.
- Crumble blue cheese evenly on top.
- Drizzle dressing generously over the salad.
- Sprinkle with nuts and serve at once.
Recipe adapted from HarryandDavid
Scalloped Potatoes with Ham in comfort food for the soul. My Mother often made a version of Scalloped Potatoes with Ham and I have made in in the crock pot for years. I wanted a new version, and loved this recipe.
While perusing the reviews, several people added additional seasoning to the sauce, parboiled the potatoes, added broccoli, etc. This is a solid base recipe that you can use to get creative. In the photos below, I did not cover the dish while baking and it took a solid hour to cook. It is delicious ad comforting…just what we all need!
SCALLOPED POTATOES WITH HAM
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
12 ounces 1/4 inch sliced baked ham, cubed
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking dish.
- In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in milk. Return pan to heat and bring to a simmer while stirring. When sauce has thickened remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- In a skillet, cook onions in melted butter until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread 1/3 of the white sauce in bottom of baking dish and top with half of the potatoes. Spread out half of the onions, ham, cheese and another third of the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Continue layering ingredients, ending with the remaining cheese on top. Bake, covered, for 45 mintues. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
Hungarian Goulash is different from the Midwest Goulash I grew up with. The Midwest version was always elbow macaroni, hamburger, tomatoes and sometimes, cheese. I experienced the traditional version in a Hungarian restaurant in Denver and again in Eastern Europe. Goulash (Gulyasleves) is one of the national dishes of Hungary. It reminds me of our traditional Beef Stew, although not as thick as stew and uses different spices.
This recipe is an adapted version of the recipe from a tour guide, Food Tour Budapest. We had a marvelous tour of wonderful restaurants, meandering the streets of Budapest experiencing traditional food and drink in historic and unique restaurants. How I wish I could travel again and experience such a tour. Some day… In the meantime, I can recreate the food memories in my own kitchen.
2 tablespoons lard or cooking oil (I used Olive Oil)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika; add a bit of spicy paprika if desired
1 pound cubed beef stew meat or pork shoulder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons caraway seed
4 cups water (I added a bit more as the goulash cooked)
1 whole red pepper, chopped
1 whole tomato, peeled and chopped (or a can of tomatoes)
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, halved and sliced
1/2 cup chopped celery
Optional: small bits of pasta
- Add the lard or oil to the stew pot.
- Add onions to the hot lard or oil. Cook the onions until they are glossy and saucy.
- Remove from the fire and add the paprika. Mix with the onion. Add a bit of water, to prevent from burning.
- Add the meat cubes and put back on the fire. Sprinkle with salt and caraway seed. Add more or less, depending on your tastes
- Add the chopped carrots and celery.
- Once the meat has a bit of color, add water, chopped pepper and tomatoes. Lower heat to simmer and cover. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
- After one and a half or two hours, check the meat. Add the chopped potatoes and cook through, about 20 minutes.
- Add the pasta pieced (optional) when the potatoes are almost done.
- Taste the broth and adjust seasoning as desired.
Serve with bread (white or rye). Optional: add freshly ground paprika or spicy green pepper.
Recipe adapted from FoodTour Budapest and Hungarian Cooking Goulash Soup.
Dips and appetizers are a staple for the holidays. In 2020, we will not be having the large holiday parties and gatherings, but we can still enjoy our favorite foods and traditions in our homes.
Ina Garten’s Smoked Salmon Dip is an easy, delicious dip that last well in the refrigerator for a day or two. Smoked Salmon is a favorite of mine, anytime of year, but dip time is holiday time!
SMOKED SALMON DIP
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound (4 ounces) smoked salmon, minced
- Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth.
- Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt and pepper, and mix.
- Add the smoked salmon and mix well.
- Chill and serve with crudites and/or crackers.
RECIPE FROM INA GARTEN
My Mother always grew a large garden and had a plentiful canning room in the basement with many types of pickles, tomatoes, corn, green beans, chicken, beef, peaches, pears, apples, jams. jelly, and more. What she didn’t can, she froze. I fondly remember the annual family gathering to pick, husk, parboil, cut and pack sweet corn for the freezer. How wonderful to enjoy this bounty during the long, cold Iowa winters.
This year I had a plentiful harvest of cucumbers. With the first hard freeze shortly after Labor Day, I had to pick most the produce, including many cucumbers. I made my Mom’s Easy Dill Pickle recipe and it didn’t disappoint. The addition of fresh garlic to the second batch will be a new twist!
EASY DILL PICKLES
Medium Cucumber, sliced into spears or slices
Optional: Peeled cloves of garlic
- Wash medium size cucumbers and pack in canning quart jars. Add fresh dill to the top (stem and all). Place 1/4 teaspoon alum in the top of each quart jar of cucumbers.
- Boil canning lids and rings in a separate pot.
- Mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. To each quart of liquid add 4 tablespoons salt. Heat liquid to boiling point. Pour liquid, while hot, over pickles.
- Immediately place lids and rings on each jar.Let stand until cool. Check to assure lid has sealed. Let the pickles sit in the brine for a few days/weeks. Store in a cool place.
- I’ve also made these pickles and just placed in the frig, skipping the canning process.