Cookies, Dessert

Molasses Cookies

This recipe brings back many childhood memories. My mom would make these Molasses cookies a couple times a year. I remember coming home from school and finding these on the counter fresh from the oven.

So this morning I found her recipe in my collection. Now when you look at this you can see how special having family recipes and memories passed down. She wrote this down on medical notepaper she had in the drawer. Lol!

When you find something like this, cherish it. Mom is soon going to be 92 years old. She still cooks now and then. Macaroni and cheese is a staple and loved by her Grandchildren. She does love her sweets. Last week I took over the apple pie. When I asked her how it was She said it was delicious and was quickly gone, but next time she would like pumpkin.

So this morning our kids were planning a visit so I decided to make some of mom’s Molasses cookies. As you can see from the recipe, not much detail. But they go together pretty quickly.

As soon as I started to put together the wet ingredients I was in love with the flavor. Just opening up the Molasses jar and smelling brought back memories. Adding the cinnamon and the ginger pushed it over the edge.

Now to push these over the edge you have to try them with butter. Just spread a little on the bottom and savor the flavor.

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 well beaten eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup strong cold brewed coffee
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger

Mix together shortening and sugar.  Add eggs and mix well.  Next add Molasses and coffee.

In a separate bowl sift together dry ingredients. Then slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Once combined drop by teaspoon full on greased cookie sheet at bake at 350 degree oven for 12 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Enjoy the as I suggested….with a little butter!

Appetizers

Easy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

This recipe was so easy! I can’t believe how fast this came together Saturday night. And it got rave reviews from my son. “Mom, this is better than Applebee’s!” I laughed at that because in the past when we would go to Applebee’s for the 2 for $20, Ian always wanted to get the Spinach Dip.

This past Saturday night we made late dinner reservations at Francesca’s in Downtown Syracuse. Reservations were for 8:30. Not because we planned it that way, but it was either 5:00 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. We had no other plans and that was where Ian wanted to go to dinner, so hey, we took the late reservations. But with that time frame I knew we needed a snack late afternoon. So I found a recipe for Spinach and Artichoke Dips from Alton Brown.

Ingredients
1 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach

1 1/2 cups thawed, chopped frozen artichoke hearts

6 ounces cream cheese

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Boil spinach and artichokes in 1 cup of water until tender and drain. Discard liquid. Heat cream cheese in microwave for 1 minute or until hot and soft. Stir in rest of ingredients and serve hot. Note: I did bake this for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees to insure that it was hot

Dinner

Goulash!

When someone mentions comfort food people think meatloaf or mac and cheese.  I dig back in my childhood memories and Goulash pops up.  My Dad was great at throwing things together and creating a tasty meal or soup.  When I was little 9 up to about 12 years old) my parents ran a small town diner and Dad manned the kitchen.  Dinners were generally from the diner and generally prepared quickly and pretty hearty.  None of my Dad’s recipes were written down, so I like to try and recreate them from either memory or find something similar and close to it. This recipe was pretty close.  I lightened it up with a half ground beef, half ground turkey.  This is a good meal to make in a hurry because most of this is pretty much on hand pantry items.  With the snowstorm coming this might be a great meal to make.

Ingredients

2 onions chopped
1 pounds lean ground beef

1 pound ground turkey breast
2 cloves garlic minced
1 jar tomato based pasta sauce approx. 26 oz.
1 28  oz cans diced tomatoes, un-drained
1 can 6 oz tomato paste
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
3 cups water
salt & black pepper to taste
2 cups macaroni noodles uncooked
1 cup cheddar cheese



Cook ground beef, onion and garlic over medium high heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
Add pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, seasonings and bay leaves. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.

Add in the in the macaroni and continue to simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender (about 20 minutes). Remove & discard bay leaves. Top with cheese and replace the lid. Let sit about 5 minutes or until melted.

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Ricotta Meatloaf and Peas with Pancetta

This recipe is a long time coming, but has not been forgotten.  I made this earlier in the spring and with all of our family activity it hadn’t been posted.  Lydia is a new favorite of ours. I will definitely try this again and make the peas more often.

Ingredients 

1 cup milk
3 cups day old bread cubes, from a loaf of country bread
3 pounds ground beef (freshly ground preferred)
3 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1 pound drained fresh ricotta (about 2 cups) plus more for the sauce if you like
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup grated Grana Padano
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut in 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 to 5 cups tomato sauce

Pour the milk over the bread cubes in a bowl, and let soak for a few minutes, until the bread is saturated. Squeeze the soft bread a handful at a time, pressing out as much milk as you can (discard the milk). Tear the bread into small shreds and toss back into the empty bowl. Crumble the ground beef into the bowl, and add the eggs, ricotta, scallions, grated cheese, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Fold and toss everything together, and squeeze the mixture a few times between your fingers to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Scatter the mozzarella cubes on top, and fold and mush them throughout the loaf mix.

Brush the roasting pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Gather the meat mixture in the bowl, turn it into the pan, and shape it into a fat oval loaf. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover the pan with foil—tent it so it doesn’t touch the meat—and bake 45 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue to bake until the meatloaf is browned all over and completely cooked through, another 1 hour and 30 minutes or so. (If you check the loaf with a meat thermometer, it should reach a temperature of 160 degrees.) Remove the roast from the oven, and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Heat the tomato sauce to a simmer in a saucepan as the meat rests. Turn off the heat, and, if you like, stir 1/2 cup or so fresh ricotta into the sauce. Cut the loaf crosswise in the pan or on a cutting board, in slices as thick as you like.

Serve on warm dinner plates, topped with a spoonful or two of sauce, and pass more sauce at the table (or, for family-style serving, arrange the slices on a warm platter, topped with some of the sauce).

Peas and Pancetta 
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 ounces Pancetta, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 (1 pound) bag frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup Pine Nuts, toasted
Directions
 In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, pancetta and onion. Cook until pancetta is rendered, about 5 to 7 minutes.

 Add the peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and peas are tender and flavored with the pancetta. Stir in pine nuts. Cook and toss for a minute, then serve.

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The Pioneer Woman’s Polenta Lasanga

So, following the big tomato soup and roasted garlic and cheese bread demonstration on The Pioneer Woman, Ree made homemade Bolognese Sauce in the crockpot and then used that for a Polenta Lasanga Dish.  Polenta – I love polenta so I had to make this the next day. 
The sauce was very easy and made enough to freeze two extra servings for pasta some night. I will definitely make this sauce again.   The lasagna was very good too.  Just make sure you like polenta or tell you guest that it is not your typical lasagna.  This was best served when it rested. So this recipe topped off a weekend of recipes from just one show on Food Network and we will definitely make these again.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup polenta 
Kosher salt
1 cup grated Parmesan 
5 cups Slow-Cooker Bolognese, recipe follows
12 slices provolone 
2 cups shredded mozzarella 
fresh basil for topping

Slow-Cooker Bolognese

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 celery stalks, chopped 
2 carrots, chopped 
2 onions, chopped 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, chopped 
One 6-ounce can tomato paste 
1 cup dry red wine 
4 pounds ground beef 
2 cups whole milk 
Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes 
1 tablespoon dried oregano 
1 tablespoon dried basil 
2 teaspoons dried thyme 
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes 
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1 Parmesan rind, optional

Directions

Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put 4 cups of water into a pot and set over medium-high heat. Slowly whisk in the polenta so no lumps form. Add a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a boil. Lower the heat and cook according to the package directions. When it is finished, stir in the butter and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.

Spread a cup of the Slow-Cooker Bolognese in the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Add half the polenta and spread it evenly over the sauce. Add a layer of 6 slices provolone and 3/4 cup mozzarella, then top with 2 cups of the sauce. Make another layer with the remaining polenta. Top with the remaining provolone, 3/4 cup mozzarella and remaining sauce. Sprinkle over the rest of the mozzarella and Parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the cheese is browned and bubbling, about 15 minutes more. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Slow-Cooker Bolognese:
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots and onions, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute. Pour in the red wine and cook until it is mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Pour this mixture into a slow cooker.

Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons oil into the skillet, add the beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up any lumps, until it is nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Drain off any excess fat. Stir in the milk and cook until it is mostly absorbed by the meat, about 5 minutes. Add this to the slow cooker along with the tomatoes, oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, nutmeg and Parmesan rind if using. Add some salt. Give it a good stir, cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Skim off any fat on top and check the consistency. If it is too thick, add a bit of water. If it is too thin, cook for another 30 minutes with the cover off.

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Tomato Soup and Roasted Garlic and Cheese Bread

A snowy Saturday morning with the Food Network on and instant inspiration for dinner! The Pioneer Women, Ree Drummond  has really become a family favorite these days.  She fixes simple and delicious meals. Ree is coming very close to become a family favorite along side Ina.

A simple supper of super souped up tomato soup and cheese bread was such a great meal on a cold Saturday night.

Tomato Soup 2.0

Three 10.75-ounce cans condensed tomato soup
1/4 cup sherry
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons pesto
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes
Drizzle of olive oil
A few fresh basil leaves, chopped, for garnish

Add the soup to a pot with 3 cups water and heat over medium heat according to the can instructions.

When hot, add the sherry, cream, pesto and Parmesan. Stir and heat through.

Serve up the soup in bowls and sprinkle on the tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, more grated Parmesan and some basil.

   

Roasted Garlic and Cheese Bread

8 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated fontina
1/2 cup grated Parmesan 
1/2 cup grated Romano 
2 teaspoons chopped chives 
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1 round artisan or sourdough loaf 
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Put the garlic cloves on a square of heavy foil, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Wrap it up and bake until the garlic is golden, nutty and mushy, about 1 hour. Let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Mix the garlic together with the 4 cheeses, chives, crushed red pepper flakes and some black pepper in a bowl.
Cut the bread in strips in one direction, being careful not to cut all the way through the loaf. Rotate the bread 90 degrees and cut in the other direction. Stuff the cheese mixture in between the rows. Drizzle the melted butter all over the top.
Wrap in foil and bake for 25 minutes. Open up the foil and bake until the cheese is hot and bubbly, another 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Meatball Stroganoff Casserole

This recipe kept popping up in my Facebook feed.  I would click on it and save it, but that was about it.  So just before New Year Eve I decided to give this a try and it didn’t disappoint me or the entire family.  While I was out shopping for my Prime Rib dinner I found the ingredients that I need for this little gem. Our daughter’s boyfriend was driving up from Connecticut for the weekend and wouldn’t make it for dinner, but there definitely was enough left over.  
This reminds me of a cross between Swedish Meatballs and Beef Stroganoff.  Mix it in one pot, place in a casserole and your all set for a hardy dinner. Thanks Pillsbury!

Ingredients

1 bag (12 oz) uncooked extra-wide egg noodles (about 7 cups)
1/4 cup butter
2 packages (8 oz each) white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 carton (32 oz)  beef flavored broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 oz cream cheese, softened and cut into small cubes (I used low fat)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 package (22 oz) frozen cooked beef meatballs, thawed
Chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, if desired

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Cook and drain noodles as directed on package, using minimum cooking time. Drain; set aside.

Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion; cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender. Sprinkle flour on top of mushrooms and onions; stir well. Gradually stir in beef broth; add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.

Heat to simmering, stirring occasionally; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened. Stir cream cheese into hot broth mixture, stirring constantly with whisk until cream cheese is mostly incorporated (small pieces of cream cheese may remain but will incorporate in baking). Remove from heat; stir in whipping cream.

In baking dish, add noodles, sauce and meatballs, carefully mixing to coat. Cover; bake 30 to 35 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and casserole is heated through. Stir; cool 10 minutes. Stir before serving; garnish with parsley.