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April 26, 2011

Scalloped Ham and Potatoes

I hope you all had a Happy Easter! I know I sure did. I made a big ham for some of my family that came over Sunday afternoon and now I'm left with thinking of ways to use it up.

One of my favorites is Scalloped Ham and Potatoes.


I've had this recipe since the early 80's and it's still my favorite.
Very simple, and most importantly, delicious.

Here's how I make it:


Melt your butter and add flour.


Whisk it together and let it cook for a few.


I like to whisk in the milk first and let it slightly thicken then add my soup.


Whisk that together and set it aside until you need it.


Once you have your ham cut up and the potatoes and carrots ready, just layer them in your dish and lightly season, repeating until everythings in there.


Pour the soup mixture over the top, then


add a layer of cheese. I think I used some cheddar and havarti. Good stuff!


Bake it up, let it sit for a few, then enjoy.


Simple and delicious. Just add a tossed salad and a roll and ring the supper bell.
 It's a real family pleaser.


Scalloped Ham and Potatoes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cubed cooked ham
3 cups potatoes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can milk
Minced onion
Shredded carrots
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp of flour

Melt butter in a skillet or saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook for a few minutes. Whisk in soup and milk until everything is combined. Turn off heat.

Thinly slice potatoes, no need to peel, and grate up 2 medium size carrots.

Grease a 2 qt casserole dish. Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom, sprinkle in some carrots and some minced onion (I like to use dry minced onion in this because I like the flavor it gives and also because my kids would actually eat it when they were younger but fresh would be good), season with a little salt and pepper then add a layer of ham. Repeat this process until all ingredients are used then pour soup mixture over the top. I like to cover with a layer of cheese. Use whatever flavor you have on hand.

Cover and cook 60 minutes at 375*, uncover and cook 15 minutes more. Let cool slightly then serve.

April 20, 2011

Best Ever Pizza Dough

I love that I am posting this because that means, I found the time to do it -----Yea!

I do enjoy watching my new grandbaby Kathryn during the week, but I have to say, I had forgotten just how time consuming a newborn can be.

Bottom line.....Good Times :)


That being said, I wanted to share with you my favorite homemade pizza dough recipe.

I've tried lots of them because my family does love their pizza. Any kind of pizza, even frozen. Out of all the doughs I've made, this one is my absolute favorite. 
It's super easy and turns out perfect every time.

Here's all you do:


Whisk the flour and salt.


Make a well and


add water, sugar and yeast.


Once it looks like this, mix in the oil.


Pull flour to the middle with your hand until combined.....


until it looks something like this. Dump it out on your floured surface and knead until it looks...


like this! At this point just put it into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, turning,
making sure both sides are covered and let it rise, let it rise.


Once doubled,


give it a good punch.


and divide it, making it into 2 balls.


Form it out onto parchment paper by pressing with your hands, or you could roll out with a rolling pin, and top with toppings of your choice.


Once topped, you just transfer, paper and all, to your heated stone or an inverted baking sheet.
This one was my hubby's.
He went with lots of cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions and olives on a tomato sauce base.


I had to taste it of course and have to say, it did turn out rather yummy.

Here's how I made mine....


The first thing I like to do is drizzle olive oil over the dough then sprinkle on some cheese. 
I used a little mozzarella. Next, I spread on some basil pesto.


Next layer was thinly sliced yellow squash, fresh mushrooms, some grated Havarti cheese, some goat cheese (a must if you ask me, Yum), black olives, thinly sliced tomatoes, and thinly sliced onion.

Then I sprinkled on some dried Italian seasoning, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes. Then to top it off, just a drizzle of olive oil.


It looked something like this.


Here's what it looked like once cooked.


Doesn't that look good!?!


It was DELICIOUS. Best I've had in a long time, bought or homemade.



Look how the crust bubbles in places.


Has that awesome crunch factor too.

Go, go forth now, and bring this deliciousness to your table, asap.


Best Ever Pizza Dough

Ingredients:

3 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 packed yeast
3 tbsp olive oil and more for rising dough

Whisk flour and salt together. Make a well and add warm water, sugar and yeast. When foamy, mix in olive oil and combine with your hands, folding flour into the middle, until it comes together.

Dump out on a lighly floured surface and knead until smooth, apprx. 5 minutes. Place in a large bowl and brush top with olive oil turning to coat both sides of dough and sides of bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Heat a stone or inverted baking sheet on lowest rack to 500*.

Divide dough into two 1 pound balls. Use 1 pound per pizza. Form dough on parchment paper, top with toppings of your choice, and transfer to your stone or baking sheet (transfer and cook with parchment paper).  Bake @ 500* (475 in my oven) 12-15 minutes.

April 8, 2011

Pastitsio (aka Greek Lasagna)

My sister Leah and I have been trying to have the family together for Sunday lunches on a regular basis. Ideally, every Sunday. Yea tradition!

We did ok for a short while, but it sounds easier than it is. You have to come up with menus that can be made ahead, or cooking while your at church, with very little to do once home. It's a good idea and everyone loves it but, well, the get togethers have not been very regular but we're still trying.

Anyway, the last time I had everyone over I made Pastitsio.



Man I love this stuff. It's a greek lasagna.
The recipe I used is from Ina Garten. The original can be found on Food Network website.

There are a few steps to making it, but they're not hard and it's a good dish to make the day before. I assembled the whole thing, but waited to cook it until we were going to eat.

Here's how you make it. I would call this step by step, but evidently 
I forgot to take pictures of them all.


Saute onion, then add beef and lamb. I actually made mine with all beef.


Set down your glass of wine and add some to the pot.


Here's what I used. It's really tasty and doesn't cost much. This big bottle runs around $13.


Cook for a few and add spices.


Then add the crushed tomatoes.


While the tomato sauce simmers, start the bechamel....


Mix cream and milk and heat to a simmer.


Melt the butter, then whisk in the flour (not pictured).


Add the milk/cream mixture and cook until thick.


It'll end up looking something like this.


Grate in some fresh nutmeg, and add salt and pepper.


Grate up some parmesan...


and add it with a little of the tomato sauce. Let it cool, then stir in the yogurt and eggs.

Here's where the pictures get, well, there are no pictures. But, it's ok cause there's not
much left to do. Just cook the pasta and add it to the meat sauce. Pour it into the baking dish,
spread with the bechamel and sprinkle on the rest of the parmesan.



It should come out of the oven looking something like this.


Doesn't this look good. It's a nice twist from just ordinary lasagna.
It was a huge hit with everyone.


Layered deliciousness.


Leah brought the dessert. It was really good, oh, and low in fat which was a
good thing because the Pastitsio definitely is not.


It was  angle food cake filled with lemon curd and covered in whipped topping.
It was delicious, light and refreshing,,,, a great summer dessert.



Pastitsio
Ingredients

For the Tomato Meat Sauce:


1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large)
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground lamb 
1/2 cup dry red wine 
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 large cloves)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 
Pinch of Cayenne pepper 
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Bechamel:

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan or Kasseri cheese
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage Total
3/4 pound small shells
Directions

For the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the beef and lamb, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it's no longer pink, crumbling it with the back of wooden spoon.

Drain off any excess liquid, add the wine, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne, and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Don't over-cook because the pasta will later be baked. Drain and set aside.

Add the pasta to the meat and tomato sauce, and pour the mixture into a baking dish. Spread the bechamel evenly to cover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Set aside for 10 minutes and serve hot.