The Nutty Irishman

One of the larger coffee roasters/coffee shops in our area is the Roasterie. We love their coffee and treat ourselves on occasion when we are in town. At the beginning of the month, I saw their post on Insta that the drink of the month was the Nutty Irishman. It sounded yummy and I couldn’t wait to try it.

So on our next trip to the city, my husband treated me to my coffee, and some yummy cold brew to take home.

It was a great iced coffee, the flavors were nice without being overpowering or too sweet. I needed more of this in my life! LOL

I started thinking… hazelnut and Irish cream?  I had hazelnut syrup at home thanks to a recent find at Home Goods. I could get one of those flavored creamers at the store? No, I only drink those on occasion, I can make something healthier at home….

So I began Googling and found several recipes for Irish Cream coffee creamer. Most had sweetened condensed milk in them, but I found this simple one at The Gracious Wife, without additional sweeteners, and I had all the ingredients at home, minus the instant coffee 🙂 YAY!

Since I was planning on using some of my coffee ice cubes, and a quality cold brew, I thought maybe I could get away with not using the instant coffee, and I was right. It is SO simple and so delicious, you should totally whip up a batch to have on hand to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

I used my coffee ice cubes, filled my glass about 3/4 full of cold brew, and added 2.5 pumps of hazelnut syrup and gave it a quick stir with my straw. I gave the irish cream coffee creamer a good shake in it’s quart jar, and toppped off my glass. It is SO good, you need to give this a try!

PS it is so good hot as well, with frothed milk…. YUM!!!!

 

Plaza III Steak Soup (copycat) & Bonus Banana Pudding

Kansas City is know for it’s steaks, and for many years there has been a wonderful steak house called Plaza III on the Country Club Plaza. They are sadly closing their doors this weekend, so I decided I would finally get around to trying the recipe for their famous steak soup.

There are several recipes floating around, with minor variations. I found one on a recipe site that had a review from a person who claimed to be a former chef at Plaza III, and the originator of the recipe. He said that one was pretty close, and suggested a tweak or two. I also made a couple of changes myself in the preparation, and the resulting soup was AMAZING. Definitely a keeper. Let me walk you through it.  *Full recipe at the bottom of post*

First we are going to make a roux. In a stockpot or dutch oven, melt the butter and then add the flour, whisking until smooth. I like to let it cook a little bit, and brown just a tad.

Next you can add your broth (chicken, beef, vegetable, whichever is fine), continuing to whisk as you add liquid.

In  a skillet ( I use cast iron) sear your meat well in a little olive oil. It doesn’t matter the cut of beef you use. I got some round steaks on clearance. Because this is going to simmer a LONG time, even tougher cuts will be tender once the cooking is complete.

My addition:  Remove meat to a plate, and put your diced celery, onions, and carrots in the pan and saute over medium heat.  Then add a bit of water, this will deglaze the pan and get all that delicious flavor. As per the chef’s instructions, I added a splash of Kitchen Bouquet and worcestershire sauce to this, and letting it cook for several minutes until the vegetables were soft and the flavors melded.

Then I added everything to the stockpot: diced vegetables, frozen vegetables, stewed tomatoes (which I pureed), steak, (which  I diced) and a quart of water plus a tablespoon of Beef flavored Better than Boullion.

I gave it a good stir, covered it, and let it simmer for 4-5 hours on the stove. The potatoes (which were my addition) actually dissolved in the broth, but it helped thicken the broth a bit, I would do it again. If you want to eat pieces of potato in yours, add some more and hour or so before serving.

This soup freezes beautifully, and is definitely a keeper. It would be good served as a soup course for a company dinner, or with a salad and french bread, as we did, for a cozy night at home.

Earlier in the day, I decided to make a treat for my husband who loves banana pudding. I had never made pudding from scratch before, but it could not have been easier. I used Christy Jordan’s recipe from Southern Plate 

I love Christy, her recipes and stories about her family, but mostly her love for the Lord.

You should definitely check out her site for the recipe, which is linked above.. The only changes I made were, I doubled the pudding portion, AND…. I added some freeze dried bananas to the pudding to help with the banana flavor. Next time I might try it without, I just happened to see those in the checkout line at Aldi and thought I might give them a try, 🙂

 

Plaza III Steak soup (copycat)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 quart broth
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tablespoons Better than Bouillon Beef
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 1 cup celery sliced
  • 2 lbs steak seared and diced
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 cups diced potatoes
  • 28 ounces italian blend canned tomatoes pureed
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worstcheshire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in stock pot.
  2. Blend in flour to make a smooth paste.
  3. Add quart of broth (Chicken or beef), whisking it smooth as you go.
  4. Simmer until smooth.
  5. Sear beef in a large skillet. Sauté celery, onion, and carrots 1 to 2 minutes in pan after removing meat, add beef broth to deglaze pan with vegetables. Add worsteshire sauce and kitchen bouquet, simmer 5 minutes until vegetables are tender and liquid is deep brown and flavorful.
  6. Add meat, all vegetables and liquids, 1 quart water and seasonings to stockpot.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 3 -4 hours or more.

Have a great weekend everyone, I hope you will give one or both of these recipes a try.

Weekend Idea: Omelettes

I don’t know about you, but I usually do pretty well with eggs. Hard boiled are a breeze-even poached or over easy. But scrambled eggs and omelettes, I didn’t really care for them or do well at making them.

But in our quest to eat less carbs and sweets during our weekend family breakfasts, I had to make more eggs. And while I like a good poached egg, or over easy (farm fresh eggs only please), my family only likes scrambled.

I frequently recruited our daughter to make the egg portion of our meal, because hers were just creamier and tasted so much better. I watched her technique, and the only difference I saw is that she moved hers around in the pan a bit more than I do. So I still didn’t know why hers were so superior in taste than mine- until I asked her 🙂

Have you guessed it yet? It was temperature. Always in a hurry to get the final part of the meal done, I was cooking mine too vigorously and quickly, and they ended up tough and rubbery.

This same principle applies to omelettes which are much easier than you might think. I hope you will add them to your weekend breakfast rotation.

The first thing I do is chop and grate the ingredients for the filling of our omelettes. My husband likes bell peppers, mushroom, deli ham, green onions, and cheddar cheese in his omelette. I slice the pepper very finely, and dice about half a mushroom. The deli ham I keep frozen, it actually slices well frozen and I dice it up as well.

Next, I prepare the egg mixture. I use 2  farm fresh eggs, and whisk them well after cracking in the bowl. We want to incorporate lots of air into them. Then I add 2 tbs of milk or cream, a little salt and pepper and the magic ingredient: cornstarch.

This is totally optional, and your omelette will be light and fluffy without this addition, but I can tell a little bit of a difference when I leave it out, I think it is worth adding. I use about half a tablespoon and 2 tablespoons of water and whisk it together well right before adding to the egg mixture.

Using my 10 inch cast iron skillet on medium high,  I put a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil and let that heat up, and then add my peppers and mushrooms and saute them for a minute or two. Then I turn the heat all the way down to it’s LOWEST setting, and add a tablespoon of butter and swirl it all around the pan as it melts.

Then I add my egg mixture, and then cover the pan with a lid. The eggs cook really slowly this way, which is what you want. When I see the edges begin to dry out a bit, I sprinkle the ham, mushrooms, peppers, diced green onion tops, and a little bit of cheese on top and replace the lid. Once the entire surface looks mostly dry and set, I fold the omelette in half. I use a fish spatula, it’s thinness is perfect for this. The underside of the omelette should be lightly browned.

I cook with the lid on just a few minutes more to make sure that the omelette is cooked thru, then serve on a plate with some more sprinkled cheese and green onions, with a little bit of sour cream on the side. Light, fluffy, and incredibly filling and delicious. These frequently become brunch on the weekends.

I hope you will give them a try soon 🙂

Using Leftovers: Baked Ziti

This is  a twist on Baked Ziti,  and works great for leftover pasta. Here we are using sour cream instead of ricotta, which gives the pasta a little bit different flavor.

It’s super simple, combine a quality pasta sauce (can have meat in it) and a couple of large dollops of sour cream, add a generous amount of parmesan cheese. Toss with al dente pasta (since we will be cooking the pasta in sauce again, you don’t want the pasta to be too mushy)

Pour into an appropriate size casserole dish for the amount of pasta, and top with shredded mozzarella. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven until hot and bubbly. Serve with salad and bread for a quick and easy meal. Our family loves it, I hope yours does too!

The Big Pizza post

For many, many years, I have been making homemade pizza. At first,  it was an economical choice, and I think I started with one of those bagged mixes (please don’t do that.)

Since then, there have  been many recipes tried, in an attempt to get REALLY good pizza at home. Pizza making is really an art, and there are many sites and articles on the web about how to get good pizza from your own oven. I have several recipes I enjoy and have made good pizza for us. And since pizza crust is a dough, I typically use my stand mixer to mix my dough.

But I was intrigued recently when  I saw an article on Serious Eats about making your dough in a food processor.  You can read all about the science behind why this is a superior method if you want an authentic style New York slice in the article posted above, I won’t bore you with the details, but here is my attempt.

After weighing all my ingredients, I followed the instructions, and I had a glorious dough that passed the window pane test in under 30 seconds, kind of amazing! (You can read more about the window pane test HERE)

Next, I weighed my dough ball and found that each pizza ball would weigh 353 which is right around 350 which is a perfect size for my preferred pizza pan.

Most great pizza dough needs to rest for several hours to a couple of days before making great pizza. I do have a couple of recipes that you can use in a pinch, but this dough needs to rest to be at it’s best. Try making it the day before at least.

Here’s what the dough looked like after 24 hours in the fridge.  I was so happy to get very similar results as the author.

And the dough was so great to work with. It formed a great, smooth, well structured ball. Forming your dough into a tight ball will help you make a round pizza crust.

When it came time to form my crust, it was so easy. The dough was soft and pillowy, no shrinking back, it was perfect.

When completely stretched and ready for topping, it was about 14 inches in diameter, perfect for my cast iron pizza pan. I preheat my pan in the oven for 1 hour at 500 degrees to make sure that it is perfectly hot for my pizza, which only cooks for 7 minutes before it is crispy and golden. Baking stones work really well also.

Here it is, ready to hit the oven, after adding a good sauce, the cheese (shredded by hand) about 8 ounces of mozzarella, and some pepperoni.

And here it is after coming out of the oven. I’m not going to be modest or coy, it was PERFECTION, lol

The crust was light, a little crispy on the outside, soft inside, I was amazed to get that kind of texture from my own oven. The ONLY change I will make in the future is adding a little flavor to the crust, either by adding a little granulated garlic to the dough, or brushing the stretched dough with a little garlic oil before adding the sauce. I did the second when I made the 2nd pizza a couple of days later and it was just the right touch of flavor it needed.

Here is one last shot for you, as you can see,  it is not a thick pan like crust, and not a super thin crust like a Neapolitan, definitely New York style, from my own oven, and I was giddy 🙂

I hope you will give this a try this weekend, it is really is easy, and the results are so worth it. Here is a link to the original recipe, which then links to a great sauce recipe as well. Food Processor Dough

I would love to hear your results, please share!

This post is part of the Weekend Potluck at Served Up With Love, be sure to checkout all the other awesome recipes.

 

 

 

 

 

Crepes for Manicotti

Have you ever made homemade pasta? Oh my, it is a game changer my friends! It is so delicate and wonderful, it totally takes your meal to the next level.

I have been making my own pasta since the early days of our marriage. I bought an Italian cookbook that had a recipe for tri color fettuccine alfredo that I knew I had to try. Hubby bought me a wonderful Atlas pasta machine and I taught myself how to make homemade pasta, including carrot and spinach fettuccine.

It is a lot fun, impressive and delicious, but let’s be real, it’s a little bit of work too. These days when I make it, I make extra to put in the freezer as well.

Recently, I was on Facebook, in an Instant Pot group I belong to, and they were discussing making lasagna in your pot. It’s on my list to try as it is super easy and you use a springform cheesecake pan. Well the owner of the group was talking about how she makes her own noodles and it is super easy. She showed a picture and her noodles were perfectly round.

My little brain started thinking- that’s a lot of extra work just to get round noodles, I’d rather stick with a tradition lasagna… but then I kept reading and she was using CREPES.

I remembered also reading a couple of years ago that manicotti is frequently made with crepes, so this made sense.  I definitely want to try the instant pot lasagna soon-but on this day, I decided to give the manicotti a try.

I know, crepes seem very difficult, how is this really making this dish simpler than making your own pasta dough? Well, I think if you give crepes a try, you will see they are worth an extra few minutes.

Years ago we went to a friend’s house, her kids were just finishing breakfast, and i was surprised to see that they were having crepes, on a week day 🙂
My friend assured me that what I thought was fancy and difficult was the easiest thing in the world. She then proceeded to give me a crepe lesson, and truly it is just a matter of getting the technique down, and learning the quirks of your kitchen tools. I have learned that my 9 inch cast iron skillet and a little less than a 1/4 cup of batter make the perfect size/thickness of crepe. I also had to use more oil in my pan than I thought.

Now, to make sure this blog post doesn’t get EVEN LONGER 🙂 I’m going to recommend that you go on You Tube and watch some videos on how to make them at home. The ingredients are not expensive, so don’t feel badly about tossing a few as you learn, but I think you will catch on really quickly.

The filling is super simple, combine the cheeses with some parsley. I then used one of my cookie scoops to portion out the filling, about 3 tablespoons per crepe noodle.

After ladling a little marinara in my pans, I placed the rolled manicotti in the pans.

After topping with more mozzarella I covered with foil and baked for 20 minutes, and then uncovered for 20 more.

Now, you may be a little skeptical like I was, how does a thin egg-y pancake end up tasting like delicate pasta? Something magical must happen while it bakes, because it totally does. 🙂  I hope you will give these a try, maybe this weekend.

Manicotti with Crepe Noodles

Ingredients

CREPE NOODLES:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

FILLING:

  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes optional
  • 1-1.5 quarts good marinara sauce homemade is best
  • Additional mozzarella cheese for topping

Instructions

  1. Place flour in a bowl; whisk in milk, eggs and salt until smooth. Rest in the fridge at least one hour. Pour a scant 1/4 cup onto a hot greased 9 inch skillet; quickly twirl pan to distribute batter all around forming a circle. Cook over medium heat until set; Turn when the top looks dry, about 40-45 seconds first side, 10-15 seconds on the second. Repeat with remaining batter, making about 12 crepes. Stack crepes on a plate; set aside.
  2. For filling, combine cheeses, egg and parsley. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons down the center of each crepe; roll up. Pour half of the spaghetti sauce into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Place crepes, seam side down, over sauce; pour remaining sauce over top. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese if desired and bake 20 minutes longer or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings.

This post is part of the Weekend Potluck, be sure to check it our for many great recipes.

 

 

Recipe Roundup: Appetizers for the Big Game

In our family we are big fans of what we call “Football Food”. My husband coined this term when we were dating and really into cheering for our hometown team each week, and I would fix several things for us while we watched the game.

These days, it is usually a tradition we do each year for the “Big Game” whether we watch the game or not 🙂

So in preparation for the weekend, I thought I would share with you a few of our favorite appetizer recipes from around the web.

First up is Spinach Artichoke Dip. Up until recently, I always made the cold version of this served in a bread bowl, but I recently made the warm, stove top version and really liked it. It was even better later in the week, I reheated it in a small casserole dish in the oven, it was heavenly! You can find it here at Natasha’s Kitchen

Another app we love is sausage balls. These are so yummy, and so versatile! I have served them for brunch, and as football food. Make sure you use Jimmy Dean sausage, and grate your own cheddar.  (Note: I use 8 oz cheddar, and 8 oz. cream cheese) Check out the recipe at South Your Mouth

My go to for homemade salsa is the Pioneer Woman’s Restaurant Style Salsa. I am not a huge fan of salsa, but I could drink this stuff 🙂 It makes about a half gallon, and I promise you will get rave reviews if you make it this weekend. Pop over here to PW’s site  for the recipe.

And finally, my husband loves wings! And I was thrilled to find out after I got my electric pressure cooker a couple of years ago, that they are SO simple to make.

It’s mix, dump, pressure cook, and broil 🙂  Here’s a great recipe from Good Dinner Mom

No matter what your plans are for the weekend, I hope this gives you some good ideas for quick tasty appetizers that are sure to please a crowd.

 

DIY Coffee Drinks #1

Our family loves coffee- good coffee. We love finding little coffee shops and small batch roasters. We even enjoy roasting our own beans at home on occasion.

But coffee shops can be a bit spendy, and we like making our own coffee drinks at home in our PJs too. 🙂

Over the last couple of years, I have been gifted with some great coffee tools that help make our weekend coffee drinks just as wonderful as those that come from a coffee shop. I would love to share with you some of the different methods and drinks that we might make any given weekend.

First up is a lazy iced coffee. 🙂 No special tools or gadgets required.

We love cold brew, and in another post, I will show you our method for cold brewing at home. But this morning, I used a frugal and easy method for my iced coffee drink- leftover coffee. Yes, in our house, on occasion we have leftover coffee. 🙂  When that rarity happens, I let it cool to room temperature, and then pour it in these ice cube trays. The trays have a cover, which I love, so the coffee cubes don’t pick up any weird odors from the freezer.

In a day or two, (or when I need more room in my freezer), I dump the cubes into a freezer bag and seal it well. The first time I did this, I was worried that the coffee hahd stained the ice cube tray, but it washed up really well with no leftover stain or coffee smell.

When I am ready for a coffee treat, I dump 5 or 6 of the cubes (they are cute little squares) into a glass, and add 2 pumps of vanilla or classic syrup. We love to shop at World Market or Home Goods for our coffee syrups.

Next, I fill the glass with whole milk, and give it a quick stir.

The coffee cubes start melting almost immediately, so the coffee flavor comes out right away.


So easy and yummy, and  l love that we are saving money by not visiting a coffee shop, and using something that might have been discarded, for this lazy iced coffee 🙂

 

Valentine’s pancakes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               (cell phone photo)

I don’t have a lot of memories of 2nd grade, but there is one that stands out to me. My teacher made green pancakes for us on St Patrick’s Day, in an electric skillet. So, years ago I thought it would be a fun thing to do for Katie, and then I thought, why not pink pancakes for Valentine’s Day?  We have had some fun with the colored pancake idea through the years. We have also done blue muffins for when her cousin Eli was born 🙂  And YES, I know food coloring is bad for us, 🙂

Now I have to tell you, as much I loved my second grade teacher, the recipe I am about to share with you is LIGHT YEARS better than a mix from a box. Do you like light fluffy pancakes with a delicate, crispy exterior? Then you are in for a treat.

My friend Darcy introduced me to the wonders of Alton Brown. We watched a couple of episodes of Good Eats online and Shane really liked his geeky science personality, 🙂 Well, Alton’s pancake recipe is what I am going to share with you here today. The batter is almost a chocolate mousse consistency, and it is really my go to recipe for pancakes. (His waffle recipe is to die for too!)

This recipe makes a triple batch of the dry ingredients, you can save the remainder in a canister for next time. Click on the link below to check it out.

Alton Brown Pancake recipe

 

Happy Peanut Butter Day!

I read on a friend’s Facebook status this morning that it is Peanut Butter day, and so it seemed like a good time to try making peanut butter in the Ninja.

I added (2) 6.5 oz cans of peanuts, a few raw almonds,  2 tbs coconut oil, and 4 tbs raw local honey and let the Ninja do its magic.

But, I really should have used the smaller food processor bowl, as the peanuts on the bottom got blended well, but I was having to scrape the sides constantly.

So I transferred the mixture over, added a bit more coconut oil, and processed it some more. And this is the end result:

I am not a true fan of peanut butter, but this is pretty good stuff. I think it may even be worthy of the strawberry jam my cousin sent for Christmas, 🙂

Now go enjoy some peanut butter (high fructose corn syrup free of course, 🙂