We call this “Jane’s Pasta” because my sister in law made this for my kids one day when it looked like there was nothing in the refrigerator. Everyone has some kind of meal that they can whip up with very little planning. Spaghetti (and anything) is probably pretty common, but this came out good, and everyone in the family loved it, so I figured it was worth sharing. It’s certainly not one pot, but planned right, it can be ready in about an hour, and it’s always best the next day.
1 box Thin Spaghetti or Angel Hair
1 lb (or whatever you have) of ground beef, pork, turkey, etc.
1 16 oz jar tomato sauce (I prefer Newman’s Own Marinara, but you go by what you have).
1 yellow onion
1 cup parmesan (freshly grated)
1 cup pasta water
1/2 cup chicken stock
Fresh greens if you got ’em: basil, parsley or oregano
Dried spices to taste: I use adobo seasoning, onion powder and garlic salt
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pan that you’re going to use for the pasta, caramelize the onions using olive oil or olive oil and butter. Salt and pepper the onions, and keep them from burning, using chicken stock if necessary.
In a separate pan, season your raw chopped meat (I use 80/20) with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic salt and adobo seasoning and cook till brown, drain and reserve.
Grate about two cups of parmesan cheese, reserve.
Bringing a pot of water to a rolling boil, cook your pasta according to the box.
Combine chopped meat to carmelized onions.
Add sauce and 1/2 cup of parmesan.
Add pasta with at least 1/2 cup of water from the pot.
Mix and bring sauce to a boil.
Rest and either transfer to a dish or serve in the pan, garnish with parsley, basil or top with parmesan.
If you know me (either in real life or through this blog) you’ll know that I take perfecting a particular thing very seriously. Most notably, I worked on my chocolate chip cookie for about three or four years until I got it right. I was obsessed with creating the perfect chocolate sheet cake for birthday parties (and celebrations) for about the same until I discovered an author who mostly cracked the code. For the longest time I have not been able to settle on a peanut butter cookie recipe, but using DuckDuckGo I found “Chelsea’s Messy Apron” and this recipe, which is everything, as the kids say. Did I leave it alone? No, because I’m obsessed with tweaking. Also, the recipe called for smooth peanut butter, which I’m against, even it makes the cookie worse (it doesn’t). Also, every time I make a cookie or cake now, I have to add three types of vanilla: vanilla powder, vanilla bean powder and vanilla extract (liquid).
The reviews for this cookie in my house have been unparalleled: “Top five of all time” and “The best cookie you’ve ever made.” Sure, the Coronavirus has us all sheltering in place, but you can’t ignore your public.
2-2/3cupwhite all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1/16 tsp vanilla bean powder
1cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, nearly melted
1cup dark brown sugar, packed
1cupwhite granulated sugar
1/2 cup Teddie creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup Teddie crunchy peanut butter
Semi-sweet chocolate for drizzle
Fit your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Add both sugars and combine. Melt your butter mostly all the way in a microwave. Add it to the sugars in a stand mixer and combine.
Add both peanut butters, almond extract, and vanilla extract and mix. Add eggs, one at a time.
In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients: sifted flour, baking soda, salt, vanilla and vanilla bean powder.
Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix to combine: don’t OVERMIX.
Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Set your oven to 325 degrees—this is a low temp, short-cook cookie recipe.
Using a the 1 inch scoop, place balls onto parchment paper your cookie sheet. Don’t crowd, you’ll have to make multiple batches.
Bake for 10 minutes, remove and keep on cookie sheet for 5 minutes.
Once cool, melt chocolate (probably using your microwave) I like Ghiradelli melting wafers, but you can use any semi-sweet chocolate you have. Drizzle over cookies and serve.
I doubt I will ever post another chocolate chip recipe, but there are some things that require continued tweaking, revising and innovation. Cornbread is obviously one of those. Its very simplicity begs for some kind of added complexity in the form of bacon, jalapenos, or anything that might give it a personality that separates it from being just ‘corn cake.’ For me, it’s about being moist and sweet. I know there are people who don’t like sweet cornbread (or corn muffins) and they are entitled to their opinons but not welcome to bring such cornbread to my barbecues. In any case, I found a recipe on a terrifc site called “Baking a Moment” and I naturally found it needed a few tweaks, including more sweetness in the form of both sugar and molasses, added real corn, the use of buttermilk and of course, a final butter melt for the last two minutes of its cooking.
1 1/3cup all purpose flour, sifted
1cupsugar (2/3 cup in the dry ingredients and 1/3 in the wet ingredients)
1tablespoon baking powder
~1teaspoon kosher salt
4tablespoonsunsalted butter, melted (plus extra to melt on top)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup of supersweet corn (I used canned, drained)
2 tablespoons of Egg replacer
6 tablespoons of room-temperature water
1 tsp of blackstrap molasses
mixed well and left for about 5 minutes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, spray a 9×13-inch pan (I prefer metal over glass here).
Make the egg replacer, set aside for about five minutes, until it is a cohesive glop.
In one large bowl, sift and combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt together.
In another bowl, combine your melted butter, milks, oil, and egg replacer mixture together.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and stir together until combined: DON’T OVERMIX.
Transfer to your sprayed pan, knock on the counter a few times to take out air bubbles, and bake for 35 minutes.
Open the oven at 35 minutes (!) – Cake should spring back to your touch and be browned around the corners. Cover with about two tablespoons until melted, and bake for another five minutes.
Take out, cool and cut.
For maximum effect, toast before serving (gives it a slightly crispier crust).
So I was asked to make ‘chocolate chocolate cookies’ and quickly found that there are as many variations on that as there are on chocolate chip cookies, including with and without flour (both good). I finally found one I loved at the website Crispy Waffle (love that name). Making it a few times consecutively I found that the author’s conclusion that milk chocolate was resulting in a cookie that was too sweet was not my experience. The dutch cocoa and bittersweet chocolate did result in a dark cookie that I liked, but using semi-sweet chocolate chips made them edgy and almost bitter. So I went back to milk chocolate chips, and being a vanilla addict, I was compelled to make it a triple-chocolate/triple-vanilla cookie, by adding more vanilla extract (tablespoon instead of a teaspoon) as well as two other kinds of vanilla (vanilla powder and the seeds of a vanilla bean). To retain and amplify my chocolate flavor, I added a teaspoon of Dave’s Coffee Syrup, which is a favorite addition to nearly any chocolate thing I make. Now in danger of being too smooth, I found a final topping of sea salt kept the cookie well-balanced.
Also, perhaps due to the addition of more liquid (coffee syrup, vanilla) I found I needed 15 minutes to get the right soft, chewy texture at 325 degrees. At 13 minutes the cookies barely set up and were living in the dangerous limbo between cookie dough and cookie. I’m not saying my oven is properly calibrated, so you’ll have to experiment for yourself if you want something more akin to a brownie-lava like thing or soft and chewy cookie.
Cookie Name Still Under Development: Cookie Cube, Triple-Triple? makes about 20 cookies using a 1 and 1/3 scoop
4-5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I have a big block so this is at best an estimate).
1 stick sweetened (unsalted) butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp of Dave’s Coffee Syrup (or you can substitute actual coffee)
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla powder
Seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
heavy 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of flaky sea salt for the top
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the flour, cocoa powder, vanilla powder, baking soda, chocolate chips and salt. Set aside.
Melt the butter and 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate together. I did this in a microwave, so yes, I’m a hack.
Mix the chocolate and butter until it combines—from a greasy wet mess to something dark, brown and satin-y.
When cool, add the vanilla and coffee (or coffee syrup). Whisk thoroughly.
In your stand mixer, combine the eggs and sugar and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the chocolate/coffee/vanilla mixture until well combined.
Add the flour and stir by hand. Maybe one or two “pulse” mixes to ensure everything is well mixed. Don’t OVERMIX!
I used the 1 1/3 scoops which I found gave me about 20 cookies. If you use a smaller scoop you’ll likely need to adjust the time in the oven, too.
Bake for 15 minutes. Cookies are best ‘underbaked’ so they are chewy. When you take them out of your oven, depending on their condition, yo might want them to cool on the cookie sheet (more cooking) or remove them. Again, it’s a personal choice. Everyone in my house wants to eat them as soon as they can be picked up (about five minutes).
I am continually challenged to bake things so that I may serve a constituency that may be have issues with meat products and/or wheat products, so I am always looking to solve the ‘this is good but not as good as the meat/wheat version.” If we are going to bake something, it’s going to have to be the best version of whatever it is. So it is with Oatmeal cookies, that I have been working on for two years already. I use the King Arthur measure-for-measure gluten free flour, which I think is a revelation for baking, if you are baking for someone who is simply looking to live gluten-free. For someone with a serious gluten allergy (etc.) special care needs to be taken with all of your tools, ingredients and even you. That’s challenging, so take this recipe with a grain of gluten.
18 tablespoons softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups gluten free flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2-1 tsp ground nutmeg
1.5 cups craisins, soaked in vanilla-water*
3 cups quaker oats, ground in the cuisinart
vanilla powder/vanilla paste to taste (optional)
maple syrup for basting
Heat oven to 375°F.
In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.
Add eggs and vanilla; beat well; until no longer gritty
Combine all dry ingredients: gluten-free flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt oats and craisins; mix briefly by hand to combine (and maybe one or two seconds using your stand mixer)
Use a 1.5 scoop and make big cookies.
Bake at 375 for 10 minutes and finish at 350 for 5-10 minutes. (Depends on if you want really soft or crispy cookies, and the size you scooped them at)
Remove from oven, and after about two minutes, baste with maple syrup.
I love meringues because once you get the hang of it, they’re pretty easy to get right, and they can literally be whipped up pretty quickly (even though they take a while to finish). For a dessert, they’re relatively low-calorie, they’re naturally gluten-free and people can eat lots of them. You can’t say that about too many cookies, and definitely not for any desserts I make. There is nothing wrong with a plain meringue but I find I like to add more vanilla than is traditional (1 tablespoon vs. 1-2 teaspoons) and other stuff, usually coffee flavor or syrup. For syrup I use Dave’s Coffee syrup, which is fantastic. Again, you can flavor them however you like but remember; add the flavor after you have gotten some foaming in your mixer. Don’t try without electric beaters or a stand mixer, your wrists will never be the same. Lastly don’t forget to add the salt!
1/4 cups white sugar
4-5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Optional (not all together)
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
1 tablespoon of Dave’s Coffee Syrup
1/8 tsp Butterscotch extract
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper
Separate your egg whites from yolks and set aside. Legend has it if you get any yolk in your whites they will not become stiff peaks.
Using a stand mixer, beat egg whites for about 60 seconds, then add your cream of tartar. Continue to mix and slowly add your sugar and salt. When you have added all the sugar, continue to mix and slowly add other ingredients like vanilla, coffee syrup or butterscotch extract.
Keep beating until soft peaks form and continue to beat until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
Use a piping bag (this picture is of a straight tube, but Pipe the meringues onto the pans using a pastry bag and star tip. Alternatively, drop meringues by large teaspoonfuls onto the pans.
Bake the meringues for 1 hour, then turn off the oven /heat and allow the meringues another hour in the stove. Tase for desired crispiness.
On a recent trip to the West Coast I was advised to order Swedish pancakes from a local restaurant near San Francisco. Being an intrepid, but skeptical pancake eater, I did. They were amazing not just for the taste but the unusual texture. A bumpy consistency that reminded me of those kambucha drinks or bubble tea. It was unusual but not unpleasant. I determined the magic ingredient was oatmeal and the secret is letting the ingredients sit for a period of time (some recipes claim overnight is best, but I found 30-45 minutes did the trick). I found a few great recipes online and on especially here that called for a quart of buttermilk. Now I’m no diet fanatic but that did seem excessive. Fortunately, I was down on all ingredients, but in my estimation they came out perfectly. So my modified version is below.
Mix dry ingredients together.
Add wet ingredients.
Let settle for 45 minutes
Use a 3/4 cookie scoop to make pancakes on a hot buttered grill or pan.