Monday, January 20, 2014

Alfredo Sauce

I've never made Alfredo sauce before, so I decided for my first attempt I would go with this "Better Than Olive Garden" Alfredo sauce recipe.
I used buffalo mozzarella because thats what I had in the house, and as usual it makes everything more delicious !

yield: 4 servings

3 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2C heavy cream
¼ tsp white pepper
½C parmesan cheese, grated
¾C mozzarella cheese

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan with olive oil over Medium-Low heat.
  2. Add garlic, cream, and white pepper.
  3. Bring mixture to a simmer.
  4. Stir often.
  5. Add parmesan cheese and simmer sauce for 8-10 minutes or until it is thickened and smooth.
  6. Add mozzarella cheese and stir frequently until smooth.
  7. Enjoy!

Crockpot Pasta Sauce

I usually make sauce the way my dad has always made it.
I found this recipe on Pinterest and thought that I'd give it a go.
I left out the meat because I chose to make meatballs and cook them in the sauce rather than adding ground beef.

two 6oz can tomato paste
½C  water
24oz can tomato puree
24oz can diced tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs sugar
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tbs dried basil
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper

  1. Add all ingredients to a large crockpot.
  2. Stir well.
  3. Add uncooked meatballs (if cooking meatballs).
  4. Cook on low for 6 hours (or more).
  5. Enjoy!

Crockpot Italian Sausage & Peppers

This recipe is delicious, filling, and easy to serve for a crowd.

yield: 8 servings

2lbs Italian sausage (hot or sweet or both!)
2 yellow onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, cut into 2" pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 2" pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 2" pieces
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
14oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
6oz can tomato paste
1/2C Chardonnay
1 tbs dried parsley
½ tsp dried oregano
½ dried basil
½ tsp salt
⅛ tsp white pepper

  1. Brown sausage in a heavy skills over medium heat (they don't have to be totally cooked through).
  2. Layer half the onions on the bottom of a large crockpot.
  3. Add half the peppers on top of the onions.
  4. Add the sausage to the crockpot.
  5. Top sausage with the remaining onions and peppers, bay leaves, and garlic.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, and wine.
  7. Pour mixture into crockpot.
  8. Add parsley, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper to the crockpot.
  9. Stir crockpot contents well.
  10. Cover crock pot and cook on low for at least 6 hours (we had it going on low for 6 hours and then on warm for another 4 and it was just as delicious).
  11. Enjoy!

Oreo Bark

For my AFC Championship party, I needed something quick and easy to whip up for dessert.
This recipe was super easy and also super delicious - I changed the ingredients slightly based on what I happened to have in the house.
yield: one 9x13 baking sheet of bark

25 double stuf Oreos
24oz package of vanilla almond bark

  1. Line a 9x13 baking sheet (or pan) with parchment paper.
  2. Roughly chop 20 Oreos.
  3. Melt almond bark according to package directions.
  4. Stir chopped Oreos and melted almond bark together (don't stir too much or it turns gray!).
  5. Pour mixture onto parchment paper.
  6. Roughly chop remaining 5 Oreos and sprinkle on top of mixture.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, until hardened.
  8. Lift bark out of baking sheet/pan by holding on to each edge of the parchment paper.
  9. Split bark into pieces with sharp knife.
  10. Enjoy!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Caramel Apple Cider Cookies

I made this recipe for a NYE party.
And while they are delicious, they are a million times better after being popped in the microwave for about 10 seconds -- only then can the caramel reach its gooey delicious potential.
yield: 42 cookies

1C butter, room temperature
1C sugar
½ tsp salt
1 (7.4oz) box Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Drink Mix (near the hot chocolate!)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3C all-purpose flour
1 (14oz) bag Kraft caramels

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (or a silpat).
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  4. In a large bowl (or stand mixer), cream together butter, sugar, salt, and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix until light and fluffy - about 3 minutes on medium.
  5. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping well as needed.
  6. Add vanilla and mix well.
  7. Lower speed and gradually add flour mixture until just combined.
  8. Refrigerate dough while you are unwrapping your caramels.
  9. After your caramels are unwrapped, remove dough from the refrigerator.
  10. Scoop out about 2 tbs of dough, roll into a ball.
  11. Flatten ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand.
  12. Press an unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it making sure to cover the carmel completely.
  13. Place dough ball on parchment paper covered cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.
  14. Bake 12-14 minutes, until very lightly browned around the edges.
  15. Slide parchment paper (and cookies) off the baking sheet and allow to cool on the counter or on a wire rack.
  16. Store in an airtight container.
  17. Enjoy! (And seriously, pop them in the microwave for a few seconds before eating).

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Italian Christmas Cookies

I saw a recipe for Italian Christmas Cookies floating around Facebook and decided to give them a shot.
The recipe/picture had the cookies in little tiny swirls, but after tasting them my husband and his brothers instantly agreed that they tasted like the "Italian biscuit cookies" they were used to.
yield: ~75 cookies

for cookies
4 eggs, room temperature
1C sugar
½C butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
3 ½C flour
4 tsp baking powder

for glaze
2C powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
6 tsp water

  1. for cookies: Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Sift dry ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium high speed until combined.
  4. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined.
  5. Slowly add in dry ingredients, until just combined.
  6. Knead dough on a floured surface.
  7. Roll small pieces of dough into a thin log.
  8. Twirl log into a swirl shape.
  9. Place on greased cookie sheets (or Silpat).
  10. Bake for 10 minutes.
  11. Let cookies cool.
  12. for glaze: In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients until creamy.
  13. Dip cookies into icing.
  14. Sprinkle with trim (I used coarse sugar, but nonpareils would be better I think).
  15. Place cookies on wax paper to harden.
  16. Enjoy!

Nutella No-Bake Cheesecake

I made this recipe for Christmas Eve dinner, and it was super rich and delicious.
I love chocolate hazelnut everything, so this was perfect for me. My MIL wasn't a huge fan of the amount of roasted hazelnuts on top, so you could use fewer (or leave them out) based on your personal taste.
yield: one 9" cheesecake

10oz honey graham crackers (I used 2 out of 3 packets that come in a box)
5 tbs butter, room temperature
13oz jar of Nutella, room temperature
¾C roasted hazelnuts, chopped
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
½C powdered sugar

  1. Add the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Add butter and 1 tbs of Nutella to food processor.
  3. Process until the mixture starts to clump.
  4. Add 3 tbs of chopped hazelnuts and continue to pulse until you have a damp, crumbly mixture.
  5. Add mixture into a 9" springform pan.
  6. Press mixture into the base using your hands or the back of a spoon.
  7. Place springform pan in the refrigerator to chill.
  8. In a large mixing bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until smooth.
  9. Add remaining Nutella to the cream cheese mixture, and continue beating until combined.
  10. Take the springform pan out of the fridge.
  11. Carefully smooth the Nutella mixture over the graham cracker base.
  12. Scatter the remaining chopped hazelnuts over the Nutella mixture.
  13. Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to firm up.
  14. Serve straight from the fridge for best results.
  15. Enjoy!

Beer BBQ Sauce

I got new crockpots (yes, plural - 2 of those cool new hookup things) for Christmas and we were feeling some pulled pork.
Out of BBQ sauce, but with a bottle of beer that we had tried but weren't fans of, I searched for a recipe to make BBQ sauce out of this bottle. I came across this recipe that seemed easy enough to whip up quickly.
I didn't let it thicken very long, as I was planning on putting it in the crockpot with a pork shoulder on low heat for few hours, but it was still watery when the pork was done -- but very delicious!

2C ketchup
3 tbs chili powder
1.5C beer (I used Shipyard Smashed Blueberry)
1 tbs paprika
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs smoked paprika
2 tbs yellow mustard
½ tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs molasses
2 tbs apple cider vinegar

  1. Whisk all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Bring sauce to a slow boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Simmer longer if sauce has not reached desired thickness.
  5. Enjoy!