Friday, July 31

Lemonbalm Sleepy Time Tea Syrup

Lemon Balm tea syrup is great for unwinding and relaxing at night. The syrup can be kept in refrigerator for up to a month and is great when you need a nice cup of evening tea. Mixing 1-2 tbsp with 10oz of boiling water will make a nice sleepy time tea.

Full time 1 hour
Makes 12 oz tea syrup

The needs-

2 cups cool, not cold water
1 cup lemon balm leaves
1/2 cup honey, I like using wild or clover for this

The know-

Place lemon balm in a sauce pot and cover with water. Boil over medium-high heat until water reduces by half, approximately 35-45 minutes.

Strain into a heat resistant bowl.

Add in honey and whisk vigorously until mixture foams up.

Allow foam to subside before bottling.

Pour into a jar or air tight container. (you can actually can this for later use if desired, just store in cool place).

Keep in refrigerator for up to a month, cheers!

Tuesday, July 28

Firecracker Burgers

Hot and zesty these burgers bring a bit of punch and a whole lot of kick to the party. Perfect for hot sauce lovers, BBQ variety, or when your looking for a bit of a change to the everyday burger.

Full time 1 hour (including grilling time)
Makes 5-6 burgers

The needs-

2 slices soft bread, any variety
1 egg
1 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
1/4 cup hot sauce
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 tsp salt

The know-

In a small mixing bowl, tear bread into tiny pieces.

Add in black pepper, red pepper, and salt.

Add in hot sauce and stir to completely coat bread.

Add in milk and stir to absorb.

Add in egg.

Place ground beef into a bowl and gently fold in bread mixture. Working only to blend.

Form into patties and lay out on a plate. Let patties rest in refrigerator for thirty minutes before grilling.

Grill burgers over a medium-high flame for 5-8 minutes per side. Cheers!

Sunday, July 26

Twenty Minute Fruit Cobbler

Yes-you read that right fruit cobbler in twenty minutes. This recipe is perfect for when guests drop by unexpected or you just want a flavorful dessert with little time. With a few time saving ingredients and a microwave this dish will be good to go!

Full time 20 minutes
Serves 4-6

The needs-

15 oz apple pie filling
15 oz sliced peaches drained
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup fine chopped walnut or pecan pieces
4 tbsp brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon

The know-

In a bowl combine cake mix, nuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

In a microwaveable baking dish pour apple pie filling.

Top with peaches.

Top with cake mix mixture.

Pour over butter.

Microwave for 14 minutes and then let rest in microwave for 5 minutes to let dish cool.

Serve with ice cream or on by itself. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 22

HOW TO: Make Calzones

Making calzones is one of the easiest things to do in your own kitchen. You really only need a few base ingredients to do this, these ingredients are:

1 lb Pizza dough, will make 2 calzones (so will canned dough)
1 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzeralla cheese

If you want to have a more resturant quality and flavor than grab the following as well:
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp onion owder
1 tsp garlic powder

If you want to add a stuffing such as chicken, pepperoni, vegetables, you cannot use more than a total of 1/2 cup. So I recommened starting with one item or mixing in a small bowl and measuring it out.

Once you have all your ingredients, this will take roughly 30 minutes start to finish and will make two calzones. Which is nice iy your making one for yourself for dinner you can have an extra for lunch tomorrow.

Let us begin what you need to know. First start by preheating your oven to 425', if your oven runs hot preheat to 400'. Next lightly spray a sided baking sheet with cooking spray. (I only recommend sided because if you burst and sauce runs out during cooking, it will spare you some clean up.)

For that great resturant feel and flavor in a small bowl combine parmesan cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, and dried parsley.

Add in ricotta cheese.

Add in egg and set aside.

Divide your dough into two and roll out 1/4" thick. try to get your dough 10" around or square. Lay on baking sheet so that you are only working with half of the dough, this will be your bottom of the calzone.

Place have the ricotta cheese mixture (or plain ricotta cheese) into the center of this half. Repeat with second piece of dough.

Top each ricotta dallop with 1/3 cup pizza sauce and 1/4 cup shredded mozzerella.

If desired top with up to 1/2 cup filling. (I am using chicken)

Fold top half of dough over and pinch, roll edges around to ensure that they are sealed tight.

To give your calzone a nice eevn color after baking, beat one egg lightly and brush a nice even layer over the tops of the calzones.

Bake in your oven for 12-15 minutes or until a nice even golden color has formed and dough is firm to the touch.

Carefully move to a serving plate and enjoy, serving with extra pizza sauce if desired!

Monday, July 20

Italian Family Style Bolognese

In my household my other half makes a spectacular Sunday gravy. I am the bolognese maker of the household, creating my great grandmothers sauce from memory and tweaking it every so often. After several years of trying to replicate hers I finally have come to a conclusion, I will never recreate hers, but this is as close to perfecting it as I can.

Full time 1 hour (or more)*
Serves 4-6

The needs-

1 lb. bulk sausage meat
3/4 lb. ground beef
20 oz tomato sauce, home made or store bought
15 oz can diced tomatoes (or 2 1/2 cups fresh diced tomatoes)
6 oz tomato puree
1 large white onion, diced fine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano

The know-

In a dutch oven heat oilve oil over medium-high heat.

Add in onion and garlic, cooking for 5-8 minutes or until softened.

Add in sausage and ground beef, stirring to completely brown. This takes roughly 4-6 minutes depeneding on how hot your range runs.

Add in sugar tomato puree and diced tomatoes, stiring well to blend.

Reduce heat to meduim-low and cook 3-5 minutes.

Add in sauce and cover. Cook 40 minutes over medium-low (*for a more robust flavor drop to a simmer and let cook slow for a few hours).

Roughly 10 minutes before serving, return heat to medium and add in pepper, basil, oregano. Cover and cook 5-8 minutes.

If not serving right away make sure you lower heat and occasionally stir to avoid scorching the sauce.


Wednesday, July 15

MUG IT: Five Minute Meatloaf

Dorms, break rooms, hotels rooms, are a great place for this easy home cooked meatloaf. Full of all those warm comforting flavors, this meatloaf is also a great dish for a night in when your alone or in a hurry!

Full time 5 minutes
Serves 1

The needs-

1/4 pound ground beef
1 slice bread
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp ketchup
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder

The know-

In a deep wide cafe style mug or large ramekin combine milk, ketchup, salt, pepper, and onion powder.

Tear bread into tiny pieces and mix into milk mixture. Allow to sit for 30 second to absorb liquid.

Add in ground beef and mix just to incorporate. Smooth out evenly.

Cover with plastic wrap.

Microwave for 3 minutes and let sit 1 minute before eating.

Serve drizzled with ketchup is desired. Cheers!

Monday, July 13

BAKE IT: Pita Bread

Pita bread is a great addition to any recipe box. I developed a love, partial obsession for it while in Greece, where a bowl of fresh baked pita slices were served with hummus and olives before my meal. Although, later I learned this wasn't always the case, I just happen to be very close to the Turkish border and this meal starter is very common in Turkey. 

I decided to learn how to make my own after I decided to make hummus one day, I then realized I didn't have pita or chips. Having watched the bakers in Greece closely I realized that pita needed a few basic ingredients and an extremely hot oven, that held temperature perfectly. Now, I have the ingredients but, an industrial oven? So I played around with the recipe and settled on one, it creates nice soft pita which can be browned off before serving in a pan. It also turns into pita chips extremely well!

Makes 12 pitas
Full time: 2 1/2 hours (includes rising time)

The needs-

3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cup warm water, 115 degrees
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast, or 1 package
2 tsp salt

The know-

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in water and sprinkle yeast over top. Allow to sit for 15 minutes until yeast is extremely foamy

Pour in olive oil and salt, give a quick stir to incorporate
Add in 3 cups of bread flour and begin to knead to form a dough. As you knead if the dough feels sticky add in small amounts of remaining flour at a time. Do not add in additional flour so watch how much your adding in

Knead for 5 to 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic, if it begins to feel stiff stop
Form dough into a ball and cover bowl. Set to rise for 2 hours in a warm spot

Once risen. Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly oil a baking sheet

Punch down dough and knead for 3 minutes
Slice dough into 12 equal pieces (if small pitas are desired you can form it into 16 equal balls)
Roll dough on an extremely lightly floured surface to 1/4" piece
Place dough on the baking sheet and poke with a fork several times
Bake for 3 minutes in oven on lower to medium rack

Flip over and repeat

Remove from oven and place on a clean towel to cool, cover with additional towel. 
When completely cooled, lightly oil a saute pan and heat over medium-low heat

Place pita in saute pan and brown off each side for 1-2 minutes, the whole thing will not brown off, just contact points.

Cool down completely before storing in a zip bag, or enjoy fresh out of the pan!