The Absolute Best Dump Dinners, A Review

Okay, wow. That’s a title that grabs you right from jump street. And I’m not sure if it’s in a good way, either. But more on that later. For now, let’s just go over the book, how it’s written, and most importantly, the content. With the exception of the unfortunate title, this book is the goods. It’s got some amazingly simple and satisfying recipes, and some real no-nonsense, smart advice. You like veggies? There’s a recipe in here for you. Like meats? You’re covered. Want cheesy goodness? Check, check and check.

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If you have finicky eaters, or a family that’s sometimes tough to please, or you just don’t have the time for something that you saw featured last night on the Food Network, you might want to pick this book up. And let’s be honest, we could all stand to eat a little fresher, a little healthier, and this book will help you in both categories. It teaches you the importance of eating fresher, buying in bulk, using less salt, dating you leftovers (you have no idea how much this will help you keep things fresh and rotated, and not waste your leftovers!), and what kitchen tools you’ll soon find you can’t live without. Here’s a little hint: Your slow cooker will soon be your best friend. If you want to start cooking at home more but don’t know where to start, then this book is for you!

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Overall, I enjoyed this book, and even with as much as I cook and bake I learned a couple of things and took scans 0f more than a few recipes to add tot he rotation. Now, some things that bothered me is painting everything with too broad of a brush. Sometimes, you don’t want to throw everything together in a pot (or “dump” them as the book constantly references). Next would be the so, so offputting title. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot! I get that everyone needs a catch, a hook, or a gimmick. But we tend to make snap decisions based on first impressions, and a ho-hum picture with an awfully worded title generally means you’ll pass this book right by with nary a second glance. And that would be a loss, because there is some awesome content here. There is, quite literally something for everyone, as long as you get past the title.

I received the above product(s) free of charge for the purpose of review.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Smart Weigh Digital Kitchen Scale With Platform Review

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I have a few kitchen scales, and one that is spot-on accurate that gets used. A lot. But over time, every scale will, with heavy use, become somewhat inaccurate. And I use mine very heavy, so I’m always on the look out for a replacement or backup. I was hoping with the Smart Weigh platform digital scale my search had ended. Sadly, the search continues.

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See, the one thing a scale must be, every time, is accurate. Sometimes a gram or two will make a difference between good food and dog food (no reason to toss a semi-dry loaf of bread when the pooch would go ga-ga over it). And hubby measures his various sundry shakes and powdered voodoo by the gram, so yeah, sometimes…one gram matters. And no matter what I tried, wet or dry ingredients, glass or plastic containers, this scale just would not tare properly. Every time we’d add a gram or two, tare, and start adding again, it stayed at “zero”. When we removed the vessel, without fail, it would show the total weight, original plus added. Yet the display, every time, showed again, “0”. So very frustrating.

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What’s sad is that I may have just gotten a bum unit. The reviews on Amazon are absolutely stellar. It has a lot of features I really like, like the removable tempered glass platform, the sleek glass top with integrated touch controls so that no ingredients get caked up around the buttons. It uses 4 AAA batteries (not included), so there’s no need to hunt down button cell batteries online or pay through the nose at a store. Firm gripping non-skid feet and a solid base. Bright backlit LCD display. Lb, oz, ml and cups measurements. It has everything I would want in a scale, if it were accurate. But it’s not. For $23.99, I want accuracy. The manufacturer also offers a 2-year warranty, so I may see what the company is made of or how it stands behind it’s products, because I’m just heartbroken that this snazzy, smooth-looking scale is useless in my kitchen.

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Connect with Smart Weigh:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Smart Weigh.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Gurin: Touch Professional Digital Kitchen Scale KS-100 #Review #DigitalKitchenScale

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Anyone who reads my blog knows I do a bit of baking. And a bit of cooking. Maybe a touch of kitchen activities here and there. So when Gurin offered me a chance to test a kitchen scale, I jumped at it with both feet. I’ve tried a few cheap-o kitchen scales, some really nice ones, and once I even bought one from a national kitchen and bath retailer. I was happy with a few, disappointed in most. When your recipe calls for exact measurements, “close enough” isn’t good enough. Accuracy counts.

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This Gurin Model KS-100 Kitchen Scale is accurate to the gram thanks to 4 high precision GFX sensors. It will also max out at over 12lbs, which is insane. I hope and pray I never bake so much as to max out this little guy! But it’s still a really, really nice feature. And the stylish tempered glass face means no flour or sugar or particles of any sort get lost in seams or cracks. It’s no-good rubber feet keep it solidly anchored in place, and it’s touch screen controls mean you can switch units or tare with a knuckle, when one is sporting the dreaded “club finger” from mixing or mashing or shaping. Hallelujah! The scale sports a back-lit screen with large, easy to read numbers that can be seen from any angle. Such a nice little feature when one has to glance across a kitchen from computer screen to recipe book, because let’s be honest, it’s easy to lose track with several things going at once.

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If I were forced to point out some negatives, I would initially point to the CR2032 lithium button cell batteries, as you can’t just grab those from anywhere. And the fact that the tempted glass surface is black, which means every speck and fingerprint shows. It’s so nice to look at, one can’t help but be a little OCD with cleaning it.

Retail Price Point: $19.95 via Amazon

The pluses here highly outweigh the niggling little minuses. It came securely packaged, and with batteries too. I so do not miss the old “batteries not included” days! At just $19.99 I would say that you might find a scale a little cheaper, but with a satisfaction guarantee and free shipping, I can safely say you probably won’t find one better. I’d label this one a “buy”, with no regrets.

Connect with Gurin and their products at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Gurin.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Siggi’s: Icelandic Style Skyr Strained Non-Fat Yogurt Tubes in Blueberry #Review

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I’ve been fortunate enough to get to try a whole host of yogurts, Greek style, European style, Australian style…the list goes on and on. Some have been great. Some, not so much. A few are now in my regular rotation. Siggi’s falls into that last category. You might not have heard of Siggi’s, but you really should make a point of finding yourself some.

Siggi’s is truly a different kind of yogurt. In fact, it called Icelandic Skyr, a protein-dense low sugar form of yogurt. Truthfully, they

My local Target carries the Siggi's Yogurt Tubes in Blueberry & Raspberry

My local Target carries the Siggi’s Yogurt Tubes in Blueberry & Strawberry

had me at “low sugar”. In the U.S.A., almost everything you can buy in the markets is salty or sweet. Overly so at that. Don’t believe me? Take a look at almost everything in the middle of the market. Sometimes I think the FDA has revamped the 4 major food groups as salt, sugar, corn and soy. So when Siggi’s skyr says it’s not too sweet, I jumped in with both feet. It’s got all the probiotics and active cultures of the best Greek-style yogurts, but the yogurt here is the star, not some syrup on the bottom or some packets of stuff in a sidecar either.

Here’s another bone to pick: the tubed yogurt marketed mostly to kids is loaded with sugar. It’s practically syrup itself . Yuck.

But not Siggi’s. The yogurt you get in the cups is almost identical to the yogurt in the tube! Nice. And while it’s not as thick as the cups, I’d assume to promote viscosity and ease of eating, it’s not some runny mess either. Finally, something you and the kids can share, and not have them hopped up on a sugar rush later! I’m in love with a tubed yogurt? I am, and I have no shame admitting it. It’s so good hubby made a tube or two a part of his morning breakfast routine.

I have tried only the blueberry tubes from Siggi’s so far, but I’m a big enough fan that I have plans to immediately go and get the other flavor as well.  You can also freeze them and have a healthy frozen yogurt treat!

This is a product unlike any on the market today in the U.S., and if you’re like me a day you’re fed up with all the sugar in everything, get some Siggi’s today. You’ll wonder how you ever ate yogurt any other way before.

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Connect with Siggi’s:

 

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Siggi’s.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Siggi’s: filmjölk Swedish-style drinkable yogurt Blueberry Quick Bread #Recipe

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This is a bread that uses very little sugar and delivers a wonderful texture derived from the combination of flours and the moisture from Siggi’s Filmjolk yogurt. At 0% fat with Siggi’s drinkable yogurt and the little amount of sweetener used, this is a great bread you can enjoy with less guilt!  I am able to enjoy it as a breakfast bread or even a dessert bread. Goes great with seasonal fruit and you can adjust this recipe easily by using any of Siggi’s yogurts. Very versatile and best of all…..very tasty!

Let’s get started……

Ingredients:

1 cup of Whole White Wheat Flour
1 1/2 cups of All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup of Almond Flour/Meal
1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
1 1/2 cups of Siggi’s Blueberry Filmjolk or any flavor you desire

You have your choice when it comes to sweeteners in this recipe and the goal is just to use 1/2 cup to get there and I used:

1/4 cup of Dark Molasses
1/4 cup of Maple Syrup & Orange Blossom Honey

1/4 Unsweetened Dried Blueberries and make sure to plump them before adding by using hot water and waiting 20 minutes for them to re-hydrate. You can get creative and warm a fruit drink (i.e. blueberry juice) to hydrate them and I have used the microwave method where I add the blueberries to a bowl, add water and then microwave to warm.

1/2 cup of fresh Blueberries

Optional- Sprinkling the top with Turbinado Sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Start by re-hydrating your dried fruit and I went with blueberries but you can use whatever fruit or combination of fruits you desire.

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Grab a bowl and mix your flour with a whisk.

Then add the Salt and Baking Soda, and whisk again.

Measure out your Siggi’s Filmjolk and set aside.

Make 1/2 cup of any sweetener mix you desire.

Add the re-hydrated fruit to your dry mix and fold until well mixed.

Then take the wet ingredients (Siggi’s Filmjolk and the liquid sweeteners) and add them to your dry ingredients.

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Fold all ingredients making sure everything is well incorporated and mixed.  You want to make sure there is no dry mix lurking and everything is mixed nicely and wet.

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Grab a loaf pan, spray with non-stick cooking spray.

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Add the mixed batter to your pan and spread evenly.

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Take the 1/2 cup of fresh berries and start studding the top of the bread.

Then, you can sprinkle with sugar to create a nice flaky crust (crisp top) and also sweeten the fresh fruit.  I went with Turbinado sugar because I love the texture and how it makes a loaf just glisten!

Bake the bread at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes.  My Blueberry loaf took 47 minutes and I did not need to cover the pan with foil at anytime but if yours starts to over brown, so ahead and cover loosely (tent) with foil.

 

The loaf is cooled for 20 minutes and I use a cake tester to loosen any stuck edges before flipping and allowing it to fully cool.

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I start slicing always after 1 hour or more of cooling to allow everything to rest and not lose any moisture.

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I served mine with more fresh Blueberries and a nice smothering of whipped topping.  The whipped topping was a cinch to make, just softened cream cheese, a little powdered sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream.  You just then let the mixer do the work until it’s nice and fluffy.  You want an airy topping, not very stiff peaks……just a cloud for the berries to float on when served.  Enjoy!

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I highly suggest using Siggi’s Filmjolk yogurt and you can get your Siggi’s fix at:

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Siggi’s.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

Klout Perk: People V.I.P. Perk with 3 month Magazine Subscription and World’s Most Beautiful gift box #PEOPLEVIP

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Another great Klout perk! Who doesn’t love getting boxes filled with goodies? Certainly not this gal! This one had a nice mix of items from jewelry to nail polish, and all courtesy of People’s Magazine. Definitely a great way in getting that V.I.P. feeling across! They call the items below Editor’s Pick and that means People’s Magazine did the hard work of testing things out to knowing what is currently H-O-T at the moment!

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Let’s get started on the goodies…….

 

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1. Hungry Girl: Chew the Right Thing

A cute but also informational diet book that helps in making better choices when it comes to eating. Perfect timing with Summer creeping closer and that means swimsuit weather too. You don’t want to eat yourself out of a bikini and this little set gives you 50 recipe cards filled with less guilty versions of the food you enjoy munching on. The low caloric versions range from everything like sweet treats, drinks, to full meals. Easy to follow and playful at the same time!

 

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2. Zoya Nail Polish in color Rue
I have tried most brands out there of nail polishes and I once owned a Zoya in a red hue, however it was a bright red and so not me that I gave it away. Wanting to gift it to someone meant not trying it and I always pondered about the brand, many a times walking around Ulta with a bottle but never making the commitment to actually buy it and taking it home. I love neutral shades and I am guilty of purchasing the same color but from different brands. I don’t mean to but there are those tones that just make you smile and this Rue color is it for me. I love how it is a shade that goes with any season and any mood. It’s pretty, noticeable but does not scream out, “look at my nails”…..it sort of just goes with the flow kind of color. I also became a fan of Zoya’s formula because it makes me look like an expert when applying even when I try convincing my left paw to stop shaking.  I was able to do a polka dot accent nail because it was one of my better less shaking going on nail polishing days!

 

 

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3. Professional Hair Detangler
A comb-slash-brush but without a stick. You would think it’s like a broken brush and what’ the fuss? It comes down to control and less stress to your hair. The wand on a brush tends to make you put out more “umph” and this is why so many times we accidentally pull on (or out) our own hair even when it’s ourselves doing the brushing. I’m not into pain and much less tangles, so this little palm miracle makes we have less ouch and I can use it with wet or dry hair. I also like that there is no stick to deal with, so it travels well too.

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4. Delicate Spring Bracelet
A gold accented bracelet that is light on the wrist and can easily be combined with other items to get that “stackable” look we are seeing with everything. We layered clothes for a while, so it seems we are now doing it with our accessories too. I liked the gold shimmer part but the plastic blue wires were just not me. I will not be tossing this piece away but with a little D.I.Y, I will be making this into something that is more “me” and that is the whole point when it comes to looks, you go with what you like!

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5. Chevron Beauty Set
Three different sized bags that feature a nice green colored chevron pattern. I have make-up bags that I store inside other make-up bags because every bag has been used, needed, and even borrowed at one point. Easy closure and I love that these are also wipe-able inside. I’m not a make-up spill”er” but my purses are spotless because these baggies have saved me one time or another. Purses get dropped, stepped on to I have caught my husband using mine as an arm rest. I now still yell but with less spazing if anything was crushed and made a mess. I also use the larger one for half frozen water bottles that are cold and sweat….sort of like when you go to see a movie and don’t want to pay $6 for 8 ounces of H2o. Not that I’m giving you ideas or anything 🙂

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6. People Magazine Subscription
I am reader of all magazines and this usually comes about that I run out of things to read and I’ll read anything for entertainment. I’m not a huge celebrity follower but enjoy entertainment news, like what is coming out soon to what got axed that I just started watching. People’s has it all, to shopping tips and even make-up advice. I will be enjoying my 3 months of entertainment along with my goodies!

I have said it before and if this box does not convince you, I have no idea what will.  Join Klout!  It’s a great way to experience what you already like and also a bit of the new so you can change up now and then.  I was unsure I would enjoy People’s Magazine and wrote it off in the past but I just learned a new thing, I actually found articles I enjoyed to even coupons!

Connections:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Klout and People’s Magazine.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

No Kneading Required- Almost Whole Wheat Rustic Bread, great for fillings #Recipe

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This is a simple and super easy baked bread that uses part All-Purpose flour and part White Whole Wheat flour. It’s a blend that goes perfectly with fruit and even soft cheese with fruit based spreads. No kneading required and the bread lasts about 5 days in the fridge. I literally just pull the ounces I need and bake fresh bread when needed. It makes it look like I worked really hard in the kitchen!  This is the base recipe and you can make it go savory or sweet by what decide to fill it with.  You can also just have it as is and it goes great with ham!

Let’s Begin…..

  • 2 1/4 cups of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup of White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3/4 tablespoon of Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon of Yeast (Active-Dry)
  • 1 1/2 cups of warm Water (105 to 110 degrees)

Simply add the flours in a bowl, the salt and yeast. Whisk until blended and then add the water.

With a wooden spoon or one that has the “umph” to withstand a few strokes, mix until blended. I usually do it for 1 to 2 minutes and if the dough seems too dry, add a teaspoon of water until you get a sticky consistency.

 

Then simply cover lightly and allow the dough to proof for 2 hours.

I recommend a overnight rest in the fridge for better taste and it allows the bread flavor to mature nicely and hydrate properly. The next day just take out what you need. I pull out about 5 1/2 ounces to make a small sized loaf that is good for 2 people, plus leftovers. Allow the dough to rest for 10 to 15 minutes and then make your creations! Allow the shaped loaf to rest and proof for about 20 to 30 minutes and then comes the baking. Brush the loaf with warm water and sometimes I even add a touch of Maple Syrup to mine to even olive oil if I am making a savory loaf. Brush the loaf and then slash (2 or 3 should do). Then bake at 450 degrees until done. Mine takes about 20 minutes.  Allow the loaf to cool before cutting.  I allow 30 minutes unless a “squirrel” attacks my bread because he could not wait.  The squirrel is usually also called a husband 🙂

 

 

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Blueberry Maple Rustic Bread-

  • 9 ounces of Almost Whole Wheat Rustic Dough recipe above
  • 1/8 cup of dried Blueberries (I use no sugar ones- Bob’s Red Mill)
  • Drizzle of Maple Syrup
  • Warm Water with a touch of Maple Syrup for “wetting” the loaf before baking
  • Dusting of Turbinado Sugar

 

Simply hydrate your berries and some people use warm water,

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others like to add flavor by warming some juice and allowing the blueberries to hydrate in that. I went for water because I could not decide what juice to use and since it was late at night, my brain was starting to turn off. I bloom the berries for about 15 to 20 minutes. I then grabbed about 9 ounces of dough from the fridge and let it rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Slowly begin to shape, sort of flattening and pulling softly until I get the desired shape and length.

Then simply drain the blueberries and drizzle the maple syrup. I then rolled, leaving the flap side down.  You then just make sure the end (tips) are the shape you desire.  I went with a pointy look.

I got crafty and pulled some dough out to give it a scroll design on top but you don’t have to :).  Let the loaf relax (proof) for 20 minutes. Time lapses and I brush the loaf with the water and touch of maple syrup. Gave it a few slashes, sprinkled with Turbinado sugar and in it goes to be baked.  I baked the loaf for 20 minutes at 450 degrees and then allowed it to cool on the rack. I had a late night baking session but come morning, we were enjoying fresh baked blueberry maple slices and it was divine!  You control the sugar and sweeteners and get creative!  Make a patriotic themed loaf by adding cranberries and even chocolate or nuts.  Enjoy!

Garlic Gold: Double Crusted Cheese sticks made with Marinated Mozzarella #Recipe

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I’m so in love with the Garlic Gold brand, that I made another easy recipe to enjoy. These go with everything from pizza, wings, to even a light Italian dinner.  I even pair them with a dinner salad and these sub for my croutons.

Let’s Begin…..

  • Large Mason Jar
  • 1/4 cup of Garlic Gold’s Red Wine Vinaigrette
  • 8 to 10 sticks cut from Mozzarella Cheese (from a semi-soft block, not the soft fresh type)
  • 1/4 cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup of plain Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of plain Bread Crumbs
  • Dash of Garlic Gold Nuggets
  • 1 egg
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • Optional- 1/4 teaspoon of chili flakes if you want to make Fire Crackers. Add the flakes to the marinade.
  • Peanut Oil (or one of your choice) for frying

Take your Mason Jar and add 1/4 cup of the Garlic Gold Vinaigrette. Take your cheese sticks and close the jar, give it a toss and lay it down in the fridge.

I marinated mine overnight and I would walk by the fridge and shake it a few times. You can use a small jar if you wish but I wanted to not fill the jar and waste vinaigrette, so I opted to not filling and used this shaking method.

You will notice the oil will solidify so take the cheese out an hour before cooking and allow the marinade to liquefy and every now and then give the jar a shake.

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Take out a plate (I use a glass pie plate) and use that as your flouring station and another dish for the bread crumbs (both the panko and plain combined). Add salt and pepper to taste to the bread crumbs and a dash of the Garlic Gold Nuggets.

Take cheese out of jar (reserve the vinaigrette) and dip them in the flour, rolling and making sure to not forget to dab the tips too.

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Once the cheese is floured, dip the cheese back into the vinaigrette and then roll into the bread crumbs.

You will notice that not much will stay, but this is the first dip that will insure you have that great flavor. The flour will soak it up and give it a beautiful layer and crunch. Do all the bread sticks and let them relax in the bread crumbs.

Crack open the egg and whisk.

Dip each bread stick in the egg and back into the bread crumbs. I lay the cheese sticks on a plate because they will be relaxing in the freezer for 20-30 minutes after they have received their second coat. This is the coat that will stick really well and just continue until all cheese sticks are nicely covered and coated.

Put plate in freezer and depending how cold yours is, it only takes 20 to 30 minutes for them to set nicely. This buys you time when frying and also allows the breading to set.

Once the above time has lapsed, it’s time to fry! I use Peanut Oil for how it tends to fry everything really crispy. You can use any frying oil of your choice. Heat up the oil and this is a quick dish to make.

It takes less than 30 seconds to get golden. I take about 2 to 3 sticks at a time because I used a small frying pan but you can use a larger one (I don’t like wasting oil either 🙂 ). You just drop them in and you can see my oil comes up half-way and then once they are golden and this happens in a few seconds, just flip and finish.

I placed my fried cheese sticks on parchment to rest. Serve immediately and enjoy.

If you are frying more than the above quota, no worries as you can use a pan with parchment to rewarm them. Again, this happens quick as we are dealing with cheese. Heat your oven to 375 degrees and set your cheese sticks on a cookie sheet (with parchment) and heat until warm and gooey. This can take 5 minutes and I do this with leftovers (from the fridge). You can serve with a pesto and I opted for a eggplant and vegetable marinara sauce. The cheese sticks are flavorful and you can make these into “fire crackers” by adding the chili flakes to your marinade.

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You can also make this easy dish by getting your own Garlic Gold Products at:

  • On-line– http://garlicgold.com/
  • Visit Garlic Gold on Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/GarlicGold
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/garlicgold
  • See the pretty Garlic Gold products and the other dishes you can create onPinterest– http://www.pinterest.com/garlicgold/

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I received the above product free of charge from Garlic Gold.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Rumiano Cheese: Organic Sharp Cheddar #Review and #Recipe; Mezzi Rigatoni with Pancetta and Peas

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This is a cheesy house. Wait, let me clarify that. We love cheese here. Good cheese. Made with good things. By people who know cheese. So it’s with great pride I introduce The Rumiano Cheese family, who has been making cheeses since 1921. I decided to pitch this family-owned company not only because we love cheese, but they are also in my home state of California, but because we love, love and love cheese 🙂 .  Did I mention we love cheese? We have a drawer in the fridge that easily carries 15 different cheese varieties at any given time. I believe there is a cheese for every occasion and even cheese to celebrate with when you find a new cheese. See, I can make any excuse to have cheese. I love it but you would think I consume large quantities of cheese because of the large selection we have, I personally don’t. I found that a good cheese will satisfy you in small doses . It’s quality versus quantity.

Rumiano’s Organic line is:

  • Non-GMO verified
  • USDA Organic
  • Cows that are grass fed
  • Global Culture certified Organic
  • Made in Northern California using the finest ingredients and are also American Humane Association certified

 

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In comes the Rumiano cheeses. I hunted for their smoked mozzarella and wanted to share a recipe that featured two of their cheeses but it’s currently on order with the dairy guy at my local Sprout’s market. I decided to just jump in and make a dish using just one cheese, their Organic Sharp Cheddar. I went in thinking the dish will need some pizzazz, since using just one variety is so not me but…….this is the best sharp cheddar I have tasted! It tastes clean and it’s not just because it’s Organic, but the recipe and aging it’s in a class all it’s own. You get that bite that sharp cheddar has but this one is smooth til the end with no sour tang left behind. A cheese that can stand on it’s own. I proceeded with the dish that I decided to make on Easter Sunday. I do this quite often, where I come up with an idea and attempt to make it on the day of and try not to stress. The only thing that saves my hide is using quality products and I can say that Rumiano will be my go to for Sharp Cheddar as of now. No oily residue when I was making a bechamel sauce, a sauce that tells on you if used poor ingredients. I can easily say this is the best 1-cheese sauce I have made and I thank the Rumiano family for helping me come through for mine.

Get your apron and even a chef hat on but don’t get comfortable because this is a quick and easy recipe. This is a recipe that yields 2 ramekin servings, can be used as a appetizer or a side dish.  Double it or quadruple it if needed.

Let’s Begin…….

Mezzi Rigatoni with Pancetta and Peas, in a Rumiano Sharp Cheddar Cheese sauce

  • 2 Ramekins (single serving) and greased (I went with butter but a spray oil is fine)
  • 20 to 22 Mezzi Rigatoni pasta shells
  • 20 to 22 Frozen Peas
  • 3/4 to 1 ounce of Pancetta (small cubes)
  • 1/4 ounce of Yellow Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 ounce of Salted Butter
  • 1/2 cup of Milk
  • 2 teaspoons of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 ounce of Rumiano’s Organic Sharp Cheddar Cheese (shredded), plus a little more for topping
  • 1 Slice of White Bread
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • Dash of Nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Begin by filling your ramekins with the dry (uncooked) Mezzi Rigatoni pasta shells. I fit approximately 10 to 12 (allow for expansion) to each ramekin. I boil 24 shells just in case one wants to be naughty and split. Cook pasta about 1/2 way through, drain, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Grease ramekins and stand your shells, so they may each be filled with one frozen pea.

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In a separate pot, heat the milk until just warm (do not boil)

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I use a frying pan and cook the pancetta and onion.

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I do not drain the oil when it’s done because I then add the butter. Once the butter melts, add the flour to create a roux.

The roux takes less than a 1 minute to make. You will smell the nutty tones the flour gives when cooking and bubbling. You will then notice a color change and we are going for golden in color and not too deep in tone. Then slowly pour in the milk. I usually get a whisk and begin pouring the milk, whisking and then pouring the rest. This helps temper the milk and you will get no flash heat or mess.

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Continue whisking until the bechamel sauce is made. You test this by using a spoon and dipping it into the sauce. If the coat left is thin, continue whisking until it thickens but never allow the sauce to boil.

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Take the pan away from the heat and add your seasonings. You can change to fresh herbs but I like the Herbes the Provence mix because I feel the lavender gives the sauce a beautiful taste. Add the cheese and stir.

Pour the sauce over your pasta.

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Take a cookie/biscuit cutter and one slice of bread should be enough to yield two circles for toppers. Add the bread toppers and sprinkle some more of the shredded Rumiano Sharp Cheddar cheese.

 

I then give each ramekin a dash of freshly grated nutmeg and into the oven it goes.

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Baking takes a total of 15 to 20 minutes and you cover with foil for the first half.

Take the ramekins out and serve with dinner or you can serve these as appetizers.

You can make everything the evening ahead and then just bake when needed the following day, just adjust the time as the ramekins will be cold from the fridge.

Great tasting and perfectly creamy! Enjoy!

Find all the cheese and butters Rumiano carries at:

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  • Pinterest– http://www.pinterest.com/rumianocheese/
  • YouTube– http://www.youtube.com/user/RumianoCheese

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I received the above product free of charge from Rumiano.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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Bob’s Red Mill: Crake! a Fusion Dessert made of a Cinnamon Roll and caKE all-in-one

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With all the fusion of desserts going on today, I thought I would enter into that playground and have a go at it.  I present to you what I call a Crake!  It’s actually pastry dough that I made using a blend of flours and a cake that engulfs each roll.  Being that Valentine’s Day is around the corner, we all need a hug and this moist buttermilk-based cake does just that to each roll.  So let’s get started creating and let me add, this has a sticky bun topping so I made sure to splurge!

We start by getting our starter going:

Starter-
3 ounces of Warm Water (105 to 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon of White Sugar
1/2 tablespoon of Yeast
1 ounce of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour

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I have a proofing option with my oven that I set at 110 degrees.  No need to have one, so you can also place the starter to bloom in a dark warm corner in your kitchen.  I gently mix everything in a small bowl, but one with enough room for the rise. Then cover with plastic and give it about 15 minutes.

While that starter get’s….well started, I begin with the Sweet Dough Mix for the Rolls:

Dough-
3 ounces of Yogurt (or you can use 3 ounces of cream cheese, plus 1 tablespoon of milk)
2 ounces of Unsalted Butter (softened)
1 egg at room temperature
1 3/4 ounces of White Sugar
1 teaspoon of Salt
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
6 1/2 ounces of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
4 Ounces Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour

Between a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of All Purpose Flour (separate from above measurements) will be needed while the dough kneads.

I cream the sugar and butter together with a mixer (stand or hand will do, use your whisk attachment).  I then add the Yogurt but in this case I went with the 3 ounces of cream cheese (with 1 tablespoon of milk).  Add the egg and vanilla.  I then add the starter and incorporate everything, being careful not to over mix.   In another bowl, I mix the salt and both flours with a whisk.  I add the mix to the wet ingredients, still with the whisk attachment on.  Things will look a little shaggy at this point; that’s okay. I then change over to the dough hook.  I find using a little butter on my dough hook makes it easier in preventing the dough from sticking to it.  I begin to knead and add All Purpose Flour as needed.  Sometimes I need a 1/4 cup and other times I need up to a 1/2 a cup, it all depends on the elasticity it builds.  I knead for about 10 minutes using the mixer.

After the dough is a nice texture, I place it in a buttered bowl and cover it with plastic. In it goes to the proofer for a hour to an hour and 20 minutes. You want the dough to grow almost double in size.

I then begin on the “sticky bun” topping that I call “The Glaze”:

Glaze-
4 tablespoons of Butter (salted)
3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
1/2 a cup of Brown Sugar

I melt the above items down and I find my little “gravy” pan works great as it has a notch for pouring.  Stir frequently and don’t hurry it up by turning up the heat.  Use low heat until things melt and just begin to bubble.  You want no sugar crystals (grains), just a smooth glaze.

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While the glaze melts, I get 1/2 a cup of pecans and throw them on some parchment paper to toast.  This intensifies the flavor profile and also adds a nice texture to the glaze.  The glaze will actually almost create a butter nut toffee texture over the pecans, so it is really delicious and beautiful looking at the same time.  I use my toaster oven because my dough is proofing in my oven.  Just place them at 350 degrees and then watch them so they do not burn.  It may take 5 minutes or 10 to be done, so the time is never exact but keep an eye on them until the color changes (darkens slightly).

Nuts-
1/2 cup of toasted Pecans (or any nut of your choice)

I then get a glass pan that I will use to bake this entire concoction in.  I use a “lasagna” pan that is the size of 9 x 13 inches (3 quart).  This allows enough room for the rolls to rise and for the cake batter to fit.  I use cooking spray on the glass and then place parchment.  The spray allows my parchment paper to stick and stay put better so I don’t have to fuss with it.  I also find that it’s easier to first cut and shape the paper to your liking BEFORE spraying so you don’t then end up with baking spray on your hands too.  Yes, it has happened where I forget and then end up with slippery hands!

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Pour the glaze onto the paper and make sure to help it spread evenly.  Once it spreads out, add the Pecans.

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I get started in making the filling for the Rolls:
Roll Filling-
You can use the standard cinnamon roll filling of 1/2 tablespoons of melted Butter, 1 cup of Brown Sugar, 1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon of ground Cinnamon, with a dash of Nutmeg.
Roll Filling Variations-
With Strawberries being in season and I am going for a Valentine’s Day dessert, I picked Strawberries.  You can go with any berry you wish like Blackberries or even a mix.  I used 6 ounces of fresh Strawberries that I sliced up and because they were already sweet, I used less than a teaspoon of White Sugar and just tossed them.  Take note the glaze is sweet and you don’t want an overly sweet filing too but do sugar the fruit by taste.
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By now the dough has “poofed” to my liking and close enough to being double the size so I get it out of the proofer and just flip it on to a floured surface.  Have a 1/2 cup of flour ready if needed when it comes to rolling the dough out.  I roll the dough out to about 14 inches (length wise).  I then spread the filling and in this case the fruit, and then I begin to roll like I would any cinnamon roll.
You want 8 rolls in total and this is my method:
Cut the ends off and then cut the roll in half.
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You now have 2 small rolls and you will cut each on in half again.
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You now have 4 pieces and you then simply cut each piece in half and you end up with 8 (close enough) equally sized rolls.
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Place the rolls in the pan that has the glaze and in it goes back in the oven to proof for about 30 to 45 minutes.  You want expansion but not so much that you won’t have room for cake batter.
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While the rolls proof, off we go to make the cake batter.  Start making the batter when you are about 10 minutes away from the rolls finish proofing:
Buttermilk Cake Batter-
3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 cup of White Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1/3 cup of Unsalted Butter
1 Egg (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon of Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
3/4 cup of Buttermilk
Cream the sugar and butter together.  While that incorporates nicely, get the 3/4 cup of buttermilk and add the egg, vanilla, maple syrup to it until well blended.  Then in a separate bowl blend the dry ingredients, the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Once the butter and sugar are nice and creamy, add 1/2 of the “wet” buttermilk mixture and 1/2 of the “dry” flour mixture to the mixing bowl.  Make sure to not over mix as this results in a tough textured cake.  Scrape the sides and bottom, then add the rest of the wet and dry ingredients.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
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Take the rolls out of the proofer and then add the cake batter to the areas around each roll.  Make sure to not get cake batter on the top of the rolls since you do not want a soggy roll.  A couple of drips is okay but do not spread the cake batter on top of the rolls.  I used all my cake batter because the point here is for the cake to rise to the height of the rolls.  You do not want when you flip these over to collapse.
By now my bossy oven has beeped at me that it is ready for the Crake to go in.  I then bake it between 30 to 40 minutes.  If you see it start to over brown, just place foil on top and make sure to not over bake.  Take it out when the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine was ready at 37 minutes.
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I allow the pan to cool for 8 to 10 minutes and carefully place a dish that accommodates the size of the pan you used over the Crake.  I use a glass cutting board so that I just dirty one thing and I can just slice when needed.  Use oven mitts to keep a nice grip and also in case it’s too hot.  Flip and this is where you will thank the parchment paper….just carefully peel and I use a small spatula in case a pecan here or there tries to escape.
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Viola, you made a Crake!
I then heated up dinner and allowed the Crake to cool.  It won’t get soggy on the bottom as the glaze stays on top.  After dinner I cut into it and served it with a whipped topping made of Heavy Cream, Mascarpone Cheese, and Powdered Sugar.  You just whip until you get nice stiff peaks but don’t over-whip as you will make butter.  To let my guest know the pastry had a Strawberry filling, I added a cut Fresh Strawberry on top and also a whole one to a dollop of whipped cream I placed on the plate.  This allows anyone to get more topping in case I went light on it.  Enjoy!
You can do this any way you desire.  What I mean is this is a dessert that is really two-in-one.  Want to just make the glaze and the cake, you can.  Stop at the glaze and the rolls….go for it.  I write my recipes as I go on a note pad and the above was created on my first try, so if I can do it, so can you…..so make it any way you want 🙂
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I received some of the above products free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill, an employee-owned company.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.
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