Pasta E Fagoli Soup

This was a very hearty soup. It’s very rare that I call a soup filling. Most of the time, whenever I make soup, I’m left still feeling hungry. Same goes with a salad.  Makes me want to chow down on a big bowl of chips after. You don’t really even need a piece of bread with this one. I’ve wanted to make this soup before, but I always left this recipe to the side, because it had beans in it. I wasn’t very fond of beans for the longest time, but now I don’t  mind them at all.

On to the pictures. I’ve decided to start posting more pictures. Trying different things to improve my bounce rate and make people stay longer on the site. I love how the PW does that on her website. So here it goes.

Start off by cooking some veggies. I didn’t have any pancetta or bacon. Only maple wood flavored bacon and I didn’t think that would go very well in this soup. Oh well…

Add in some beans…

Then add in all the liquid.

Bring the soup to a boil and add in the pasta. The ditalini pasta was my favorite part of the soup. It only takes 8 minutes for the pasta to get done cooking and then the soup is done. While waiting for the pasta to cook, I went out and took some random shots.

The final soup!

8 servings

Calories 229 | Fat 4.84g | Carbohydrate 37.18g | Fiber 5.2g |   Protein 10.67g

Points Plus: 6 (without the bacon)

Ingredients: from the little kimchi pierogi

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
⅛ pound (3 slices) pancetta or bacon, chopped
2 (4- to 6-inch) sprigs rosemary, left intact
1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact, or 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
coarse salt and pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini or great northern beans
1 cup canned tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 quart chicken stock
1½ cups ditalini
grated Parmigiano or Romano, for the table
crusty bread, for mopping

Directions:

Heat a deep pot over medium high heat and add oil and pancetta or bacon.  Brown the pancetta or bacon bits lightly, and add herb stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic.  Season vegetables with salt and pepper.  Add beans, tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high.  Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta.  Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente.  Rosemary and thyme leaves may separate from stems as soup cooks; remove stems and bay leaves.  Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes.  Ladle soup into bowls and top with grated cheese.  Pass crusty bread for bowl mopping.

Homemade Twix Bars

Look at the caramel layer, that’s my most favorite part about these!

I don’t know why, but boiling sugar and milk in a pot scares me. I’m afraid of what the bottom of the pot will look like after the caramel/candy/cheese is at it’s proper temperature. Sure enough, right when the the caramel mixture was starting to reach 275 degreesish, the bottom started burning. Not so much that it ruined the caramel though. If you put water in the pot right away the caramel mixture will come out faster.

I have tried even making that recipe for Millionaire’s short bread and it called for boiling just a can of sweetened condensed milk. This recipe seemed to work the best. The caramel is so rich and delicious and I didn’t even use heavy cream. Just some 2 % milk I had sitting in the fridge. That’s a good thing to know, in case I ever I want to make caramel again.Twix bars are my second favorite candy bar. First comes Reese’s and then AlmondJoys. I have a recipe for that, I want to try too. Can’t wait! I’m a candy making machine.

First you make the crust which is a basic shortbread recipe.Shortbread isn’t the greatest to photograph since it’s such a light color.

Then, you sit and wait for the sugar mixture to get to 300 degrees F.

Once the caramel reaches 300 degrees, it should be a golden/brown color. Like this:

Once you add in the cream and condensed milk, the caramel mixture needs to reach 240 degrees again. I know… what a pain waiting for that, but in the end it’s all worth it. Trust me.

Pour the caramel mixture over the shortbread. Now you have to wait 2 hours for it to cool so that you can pour the chocolate over the top of the caramel. Too die for!

Homemade Twix Bars

Ingredients form Not without Salt who adapted from Sherry Yard’s, “Desserts By The Yard”

Shortbread

5 1/2 ounces (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups cake flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons ground rice (rice processed in a spice grinder until it is able to pass through a fine sieve to remove chunks)*

Make the Shortbread:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-X-13-inch baking pan with pan spray and line with parchment paper. Spray the parchment.

In a large bowl  cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Gradually add the flour, ground rice and salt and allow the dough to come together. The dough will be crumbly but should hold together when you squeeze it.

Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pan from front to back and bake for another 10 minutes, until the shortbread is a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack to room temperature.

*Several people have asked about the rice. I just used what I had in the house – brown rice, and the results were great. It’s not the same as rice flour because you want to have a little bit of texture. The purpose of the rice is to give the base of this cookie a unique crunch that remarkably resembles the store-bought Twix. This can be omitted without drastically changing the finished product. But I encourage you to try it. I really love the texture it gives.

Meanwhile, prepare the ….

Caramel

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup (Regular corn syrup is fine)

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling over the caramel layer

Make the Caramel:

Combine the sugar, golden syrup, water, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Remove any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan by wiping down the sides with water. You can use your hand or a pastry brush. Place the pot on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Wipe down any stray sugar crystals that appear using a very clean and wet pastry brush. Do not stir from this point on. Keep an eye on the pan. The mixture will be very bubbly.

When the sugar syrup starts to turn golden brown insert a candy thermometer to check the temperature. When it reaches 300°F, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 1minute, or until the bubbles subside. Carefully whisk in the heavy cream. Stir until smooth, then whisk in the condensed milk. Add the salt (vanilla salt is very nice here if you have it) Whisk until smooth.

Return the pan to the heat and stir constantly over medium heat until the caramel reaches 240°F. Remove from the heat and pour over the shortbread. While the caramel is warm sprinkle the surface with the best quality salt you have. Kosher is fine, Fleur de Sel is better, Maldon would be my preferred choice.

Allow to set. This will take about 2 hours.

Once the caramel layer has cooled prepare your …

Chocolate Glaze

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (Bittersweet chocolate chips also work)

2 tablespoons butter

Melt the chocolate and butter over a bain marie or in the microwave. If using the microwave melt it slowly – in 30 second intervals. Stir well after each interval.

Once completely melted pour over the caramel.  Using an offset spatula, smooth the chocolate in a nice even layer.

Place in the refrigerator to set. They cut best when chilled.

Cut into desired shape and size. Serve.

Crock Pot Apple Butter

I told yah, that I’d be posting some more crock pot recipes and here they are. I didn’t lie to you all. ;) More to come too.  I don’t know what went wrong with the crock pot apple butter recipe that I made last year?? I had  sticky/messy burnt apple goo stuck to my crock pot for the longest time and it was hard to get out. I was thinking that the recipe was wrong and there was no liquid. Nope… that wasn’t it. This recipe didn’t have any liquid in it either and I was surprised after it started cooking in the crock pot how much liquid came out of the apples after mixing in the sugar. Who ever knows what happened to my crock pot the last time I tried making this, will never know.

I’ll be making some more of this, this week since I have a whole week and a half off. I’m so excited for a vacation, but it really won’t feel like one. We’ll be so busy in a couple of days that I won’t be able to put up my Halloween decorations on October 1st. Sad, story. I know. Future husband won’t even let me put them up because he thinks that it’s too early. Well then, why the heck does Wal-Mart already have Christmas trees up? That stinks.

Ingredients from allrecipes.com

5 1/2 pounds apples – peeled, cored and finely chopped
4 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Place the apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples in the slow cooker and mix well.
Cover and cook on high 1 hour.
Reduce heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
Uncover and continue cooking on low 1 hour. Stir with a whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness.

Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Perfect Pot Roast

I can’t believe how tender and good this pot roast was!  Every time I walked into the kitchen it smelled so good and it made my mouth water. Pair that with some apple butter cooking in the crock pot at the same time, and it smells like heaven. Two perfect things to make for a nice cool Fall day.

The only thing I wished I would have done was turn the liquid in the pot into a thicker gravy.  It still tasted good over the mashed potatoes and beef. Next time… I’m also going to add in some more onions and carrots. The onions and carrots practically melted in my mouth.  Thank you Pioneer Women for the perfect pot roast recipe ever! Too bad, I didn’t make the blackberry cobbler that went a long with this show.

I figured out the nutrition info for this since I thought it was pretty healthy and mostly protein. 55 grams of protein, that’s a lot and this was very filling.

Mmmm, look at all that brown food!

Serves 8

Calories 485 | Fat 24.72g | Carbohydrate 6.74g | Fiber 1.5g | Protein 55.43g

Ingredients from Ree Drummond

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 3 to 5-pound chuck roast
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 whole onions, peeled and halved
6 to 8 whole carrots, unpeeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup red wine, optional
3 cups beef broth
2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme

Directions

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Generously salt and pepper the chuck roast.

Heat the olive oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the halved onions to the pot, browning them on both sides. Remove the onions to a plate.

Throw the carrots into the same very hot pot and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so. Reserve the carrots with the onions.

If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the very hot pot. Place the meat in the pot and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate.

With the burner still on high, use either red wine or beef broth (about 1 cup) to deglaze the pot, scraping the bottom with a whisk. Place the roast back into the pot and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway.

Add in the onions and the carrots, along with the fresh herbs.

Put the lid on, then roast for 3 hours for a 3-pound roast. For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours. The roast is ready when it’s fall-apart tender.

Beer Bread

Ever order  anything from Tastefully Simple before? I have and it’s really expensive. The company has some really good products like their bacon bacon dip which goes really good on this beer bread. We like to call the company Tastefully Expensive in our house. They want almost $8.00 for just the beer bread mix. I guess that’s what you get, when you want to pay the bucks for those brand name products.

Making your own is so easy and the main ingredients are basically flour,  sugar, salt and baking powder. Ben and I aren’t beer drinkers at all but we do love this bread. We’ve had this can of bud light sitting in our fridge for the longest time, and last night I finally got rid of it.  Maybe, I’ll try figuring out the recipe for the bacon bacon dip next or try to find a recipe that’s similar to that?

Ingredients: from Gimme Some Oven

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
4 Tbsp. (half stick) butter, melted

Method:

(Makes 1 loaf)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed.  (I recommend popping your honey in the microwave for a few seconds beforehand to make it easier to stir in!)

Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.  (Use a pastry brush to spread it around if you’d like.)

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve immediately.

Homemade Applesauce

We have a bountiful of apples this year. I even went to a beautiful apple orchard with a friend, and picked some.

Our tree in our backyard is packed with them. I’ve already made some apple pie filling and an apple pie with the ones I’ve picked so far.  Tonight I made apple sauce.

I sometimes buy those little cups of applesauce that you get in the store and eat them as a snack at work. I also remember getting them in my lunch bag at school. Now, they have all sorts of different flavors of applesauce like strawberry,  raspberry, and peach. I feel like I was jipped as a kid.

Now that I am older and can make my own applesauce I can do whatever I darn well please with it. I can add in tons of cinnamon, mix in some cranberries, or serve it with some pork tenderloin if I wanted too. Maybe even add in some bacon?  Apples and pork marry well together. Whoever thought of that was a genious.

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients from Simply Recipes

Ingredients

3 to 4 lbs of peeled, cored, and quartered apples. (Make sure you use a good cooking apple like Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Fuji, Jonathan, Mcintosh, or Gravenstein.)
4 strips of lemon peel – use a vegetable peeler to strip 4 lengths
Juice of one lemon, about 3-4 Tbsp
3 inches of cinnamon stick
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
up to 1/4 cup of white sugar
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Method

1 Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

2 Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels. Mash with potato masher.

Ready to serve, either hot or refrigerated. Delicious with vanilla ice cream or vanilla yogurt.

Freezes easily, lasts up to one year in a cold freezer.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

Fall season is when I start taking out the crock pot and start using it more. I sometimes will use it in the summer to make pulled chicken or pork. That’s it.  Making some kind of stew or soup in the crock pot seems weird to me, during the summer. I don’t know why people associate crock pots with Fall or pumpkin with Fall. I think that, you can cook with your crock pot any time of year. In the summer time it’s great, because you don’t have to heat up your stove.

I’m going to try and feature some more crock pot recipes on here, since people really seem to like those recipes.  Beef Stroganoff is really easy to make in the crock and the hardest thing to do was find the Golden Mushroom soup. One grocery store that I went to, didn’t have it, but another did. You could substitute ground beef instead of beef cubes if you want. I didn’t add in all the cream cheese the recipe called for, just half of it.  I’d definitely make this recipe again, I can see why it had so many reviews. It’s good and easy to substitute ingredients with.

Ingredients

2 pounds cubed stew meat
2 cans Condensed Golden Mushroom Soup
1 largish onion diced
2-3-4 tabls of Worcestershire (this stuff is so awesome I always add more)
1/2 water
8 oz of cream cheese (the first time I made this with just 1lb of meat I still added 8 oz’s, sshh don’t tell my lactose intolerant hubbie)
couple of dashes of Garlic Salt
couple dashes of Hot Paprika

In the slow cooker stir in all the ingredients, except the meat AND the Cream Cheese, together. Once combined add the meat and mix together.

Cook on Low for 8 hours. Cut up the cream cheese into cubes just before serving and turn crockpot on high. Stir the cream cheese in until all combined. You might have to put the lid back on and leave for 10 minutes.

Serve over egg noodles. Or mashed potatoes

Fig-Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

I watched the Pioneer Woman make this on her show and I remember her saying that it was a girly type pizza. It definitely was and I loved it. The future husband took one bite of it, and said that he didn’t like it. Bummer. The combination of flavors go really well together. She should sell this pizza to Pizza Hut or some other famous chain restaurant like Pizza Luce.

I have to admit that the ingredients were kind of expensive to buy. The arugula was $3.49 a container, and the prosciutto was around $6.00.  I didn’t go for the fresh mozzarella, that would have be around $15.00 for everything. The jam was from Stonewall Kitchen and I had picked it up at a Macy’s store. If you’ve never tried any of their products, I highly recommend them.  I’m not a very fancy/elegant person that has to have ingredients like this all the time though. One splurge like this every once and awhile is fine enough for me. :)

Ingredients: from the Pioneer Woman

Pizza Crust:

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Scant 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl

Topping:

2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
6 to 8 tablespoons fig spread or jam
12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 bunch washed and rinsed arugula
1 cup shaved Parmesan

Directions

For the crust: Sprinkle the yeast over 3/4 cup warm (not lukewarm) water in a bowl.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the flour and salt and, with the mixer running on low speed, drizzle in the olive oil. Keep going until it’s mixed through. Next, pour in the yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined.

Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, tip the dough in and form it into a ball. Toss to coat the dough ball in the olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for at least an hour, or up to 3 or 4 days.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Arrange the oven rack in the lowest position.

For the topping: Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface as thinly as possible Dough should be roughly 17 by 10 inches. Place on a large baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with the olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Spread the fig spread all over the surface of the dough. Lay the slices of mozzarella all over the surface of the pizza crust. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake the pizza until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and immediately drape the prosciutto slices over the hot pizza. Sprinkle generously with the arugula and Parmesan shavings. Cut into wedges or squares and serve immediately!

I’m not sure if I like the Pioneer Woman’s show yet. I’ve watched a couple of episodes and I know she lives on ranch, but watching the cowboy thing is kind of lame.