Pizza Dough


1¼ cups warm water (110° to 115°)

2 tsp. sugar, divided

1 pkg. active dry yeast (¼ oz.)

3½ to 4 cups 00 flour (or all-purpose flour)

1 tsp. sea salt

1/3 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)



In a small bowl, mix warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar; add yeast and whisk until dissolved. Let stand until bubbles form on surface.


In a large bowl, whisk 3 cups flour, salt, remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and, if desired, dried herbs. Make a well in center; add yeast mixture and oil. Stir until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead, adding more flour to surface as needed until no longer sticky and dough is smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes.

Place in a large, greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Transfer bowl to refrigerator and chill overnight. Allow dough to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before rolling.

via Taste of Home


Pan Seared Filet Mignon


4 thick tenderloin beef filets (10 oz. - about 2 inches thick)

2-3 Tbsp. butter

Salt and pepper to taste



Preheat the oven to 415°F. Remove steak from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking to bring the steak to room temperature and ensure your cooking times are more accurate. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.


Add the plain butter to an oven safe cast iron skillet and turn up high, allow the skillet to become scorching hot firs. Place the filets face down and sear undisturbed for 2 minutes (time it!). Flip the filets and sear for an additional 2 minutes. This will give your filets a nicely seared edge.


Transfer your skillet directly to the oven. [WARNING] the skillet may be hot, handle with oven mitts.

Rare: bake 4 minutes (120° - 125°)

Medium Rare: bake 5-6 minutes (125° - 130°)

Medium: bake 6-7 minutes (135° - 140°)

Medium Well: bake 8-9 minutes (145° - 150°)


(Remember, depending on the size of the steak, the more or less time it will take. This recipe is ideal for 8-10 oz. portions, roughly 2-3 inches thick)


Remove filets from the skillet and set on a plate, lightly covered with tin foil and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. (This is important to bring your steak to its final serving temperature.


Top with a slice of garlic and herb butter and serve.


Garlic Herb Butter (make this first!)

½ stick butter

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 Tbsp. Chopped fresh tarragon

½ Tbsp. minced garlic


Soften the butter in in a microwave safe bowl until malleable, 10-15 seconds. Stir in the herbs and garlic until fully mixed. Spoon the butter onto tin foil doing our best to reshape it to reassemble a stick of butter. Place in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes  and remove 5 minutes before adding to the fillet.



·      The secret to cooking the perfect filet mignon is to combine pan searing in a cast iron skillet with an oven finish.


·      Cooking steaks at high temperatures in a skillet tends to get smokey. Open a kitchen window and turn on your kitchen’s overhead vent fan begore you start to help with ventilation.


via Kitchen Swagger


Best Hard Boiled Eggs


6 to 12 large eggs, straight from the fridge



Fill a saucepan about a quarter of the way with cold water. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of the saucepan. Add more water so that the eggs are covered by at least an inch (6 eggs) or two (7-12 eggs) of water.


Leave the pan uncovered. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat, cover, and let it sit for 10-12 minutes.


Strain the hot water from the pan, careful not to dump out the eggs, and run cold water over them until they are cool to the touch. Peel or store in the fridge for later.


via SimplyRecipes


Panera Mac & Cheese


1 lb. Lumaconi pasta (Target)

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2½ cups milk

4 oz. white American cheese, shredded

8 oz. extra-sharp White Vermont cheddar, shredded

½ tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. hot sauce



Gather all the ingredients and shred the cheeses.


Cook the pasta as per the package instructions.


Melt the butter, and add flour and milk, cook until thickened.


Whisk in the cheese until melted.


Stir in the pasta and serve immediately.


Recipe Variations

You can use any type of pasta, but to make this just like Panera’s, you will need to use Lumaconi pasta. In its place, you can use medium shells, elbow macaroni, or Cavatappi.


If you’re serving this as a main dish, it serves 4-6. If you’re making this as a side dish, it serves 8-10.


To get optimal results, you MUST use extra sharp white cheddar and sliced white American cheese from the deli, not the fake stuff you find in the box.


Add I cup of chopped and steamed broccoli floret for broccoli mac and cheese.


via Food Folks and Fun


Christmas Crack



1 cup butter (salted or unsalted)

1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)

40 salted saltine crackers

1 pkg chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)

Toppings such as nuts, M&Ms, sprinkles, crushed candy canes, etc. (optional)



Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 11x15 baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Spread the crackers out on the foil (5x8) in a single layer and fold up the edges of the foil to box in the crackers. Set aside.


In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium Hight heat on the stovetop. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to boil for 5 minutes exactly, (set a timer), stirring occasionally. Quickly pour over the crackers and spread to cover completely.


Bake for 5 minutes in the oven, or until bubbling so the toffee reaches its second boiling point and absorbs into the cracker. Turn off heat. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.


Let sate for 1-2 minutes or until the chocolate starts to look shiny and is soft enough to spread evenly over the toffee. If the chocolate is still not warm enough to spread after 4 minutes, place it back in the oven for a minute to help soften it.


Top with additional toppings if desired.


Chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to harden. Peel away the foil and break into pieces.



If using regular foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray for easy removal.


via little sweet baker


Eggnog French Toast


2 eggs, slightly beaten

1½ cups eggnog (I use light eggnog)

1½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

12 slices French bread*



Whisk eggs, eggnog, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice in a mixing bowl until well blended. Pour mixture into a shallow dish.


Preheat an electric griddle to 300°F. Lightly grease the skillet.


Dip one slice of bread at a time into the eggnog mixture, being sure to coat each side of the bread thoroughly.


Place the prepared bread slices into the preheated skillet, and cook, turning once, until golden brown on each side. Place cooked slices on a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm until all French toast is cooked. Serve immediately.


* I use one loaf of Great Grains Hawaiian Bread instead of French bread.


via allrecipes



Mapleine Maple Syrup


1 cup water

2 cups sugar (white or brown, or 1 cup each)

½ tsp Mapleine (more if desired)

1 tsp. vanilla (optional)



Boil the sugar and water, then add the Mapleine. If it hangs onto the spoon a little before pouring it out, it's done.


Sugared n Spiced Nuts



1 pound (about 4 cups) pecan or walnut halves                                               

1 cup sugar 

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Heat oven to 275°F.  Grease cookie sheet. Spread nuts on prepared cookie sheet.  Bake 10 minutes.

In medium saucepan (you can use a larger saucepan because it is easier to stir in the nuts at the end), combine sugar, water, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and nuts.  Stir until well-coated (sometimes leaving the pan on the burner you just turned off helps to keep the mixture soft enough to coat all the nuts well). 

Place the nuts on a large piece of foil or waxed paper.  Separate into individual nuts with forks; let dry.  Store in airtight container in cool, dry place.


Easy Biscuits and Gravy


1 pkg Pioneer Sausage Flavor Gravy Mix

1 pkg Pioneer Peppered Gravy Mix

1 pkg (1 lb) Swaggerty’s sage ground sausage

1 can Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits



Bake biscuits according to directions.


While biscuits are cooking, make the two packets of gravy mix according to directions in a medium pot and set aside.


Cook the sausage and crumble it, then add the sausage to the gravy and stir.


Spoon gravy over hot biscuits and enjoy!



Swiss Onion Soup


1 pkg. Pioneer Peppered Gravy mix, prepared

2 Tbsp. butter

2½ cups water

2 large onions, quartered and thinly sliced

1 cup Swiss cheese, finely grated

1 Tbsp. parsley, minced

1 tsp. salt



Sauté onions in butter until soft and golden brown.


Add sautéed onions and remaining ingredients to the prepared gravy.


Stir over medium heat until the cheese is melted, and soup is smooth.


Makes 6 cups of soup


Via Pioneer gravy packet


Skillet Breakfst Casserole


1 pkg. Pioneer Sausage Gravy, prepared

4 cups diced potatoes, frozen

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

½ cup sausage, cooked and crumbled

1½ cups water

2 eggs, beaten

1½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded



•Preheat oven to 350°F.

•Heat oil in 10-12” cast iron skillet.

•Brown potatoes 5-6 minutes and then sprinkle cooked sausage on top.

•Mix eggs into prepared gravy and pour mixture over potatoes and sausage.

•Bake 25-30 minutes, or until filling is set in the center.

•Sprinkle on cheese and bake another 3 minutes, or until melted.


via Pioneer Gravy packet



Tomato Basil Blender Soup


8-10 tomatoes, halved

2 medium onions, quartered

4 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/3 cup sliced fresh basil

Salt and pepper, to taste



Place halved tomatoes, quartered onions, and garlic cloves into a large bowl.  Add oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir well to coat.


Pour the vegetables onto a baking tray and roast at 400°F for 30 minutes. Remove tray from oven and let it cool for 5 minutes.


Place roasted vegetables in blender along with sliced basil and blend until smooth.


Add more salt and pepper if necessary and/or heat soup on stove.


Makes 4 one-cup servings.


*Can be frozen in Ziploc bags or containers.


via Recipe Diaries


Boiled Cider


Boiled cider is  a thick, syrupy, apple-scented secret ingredient that brings your favorite apple desserts from good to "how on earth did you make this?!"


1 gallon fresh cider  (A gallon of cider will reduce down to about 2 cups. Since the cider takes up to 6 hours, it is recommended to start with at least a gallon to make it worth your time.)


Select a large, sturdy pot designed for long-term stove-top cooking, such as a cast iron pot or Dutch oven. (If using 1 gallon of cider, use a pot that holds at least 5 quarts.)

Bring the cider to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for 5-6 hours, giving a couple of quick stirs twice every hour. Starting around hour five, stir more frequently — every 15 minutes or so.

Note: The cook time will vary depending on your stove and which pot you choose. In testing, the boiled cider made in a metal pot took five hours; in a cast iron pot, six.

There are a few ways to test if it's done:

1. Bubble Color - It's done, when stirred, dark copper-colored bubbles form, covering the entire surface.

2. The Chopstick Test: The cider will boil down to about 1/8 of its original volume. The easiest way to track this is to place a skewer or chopstick into the cider before turning on the heat. Mark the height of the cider on the chopstick before you start boiling it. Repeat once every hour, marking the new height until it's about 1/8 the original height.

3. Consistency: Boiled cider has a similar viscosity to honey; when hot it behaves like hot, runny honey. Once cooled, it mimics thick, room-temperature honey.

 What about temperature? Just as water does, apple cider has a boiling point: 219°F. The temperature won't change once it begins to boil. Because of this, the temperature isn't a good indicator of doneness.

Be careful of overcooking boiled cider beyond that copper-bubble stage. It'll become too thick to easily pour or bake with. It also becomes unpleasantly bitter and sour.

Slightly over-cooked cider has the thick consistency of molasses. Sour, but still usable. VERY over-cooked cider  is firm and sticky like taffy. It's mouth-puckering and liable to rip out your fillings. 

To make your batch truly one of a kind, infuse your cider with other flavors. Simmering on the stove for several hours gives you the perfect opportunity to add a little something special. Cinnamon sticks, your favorite spice blend, a sliced vanilla bean, or orange peels will make your homemade boiled cider extra special. If you're going to add spices, we'd do so in the last hour of the process for the best flavor.

Run the finished cider through a coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove any impurities, if desired. Store your finished homemade boiled cider in the refrigerator.

Boiled cider-fanatics say it will keep indefinitely in the fridge, but it will probably not be around long enough to test that theory.

If this seems like a present you might like to give to friends and family, include a note with a  few ways to use the boiled cider.

You can boil it hard for about 5 minutes at the beginning and it seems a lot of the impurities rise to the surface as a foamy scum, then just skim it off with a fine small wire sieve.

To avoid sticky steam on your walls, be sure to use the range hood fan.

Use a 50-50 mix of boiled cider with Dijon mustard as a glaze for pork tenderloin or on a spiral sliced ham.

via King Arthur Baking


Crock Pot Enchilada Soup

2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 cup diced sweet peppers (optional, not part of the original recipe)
3 cup low sodium fat-free chicken broth
8 oz, can tomato sauce
1-2 tsp. Chipotle chili in adobo sauce (or more to taste)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained (use 3 cans if doubling recipe)
14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes (we prefer fire-roasted or w/ green chiles)
2 cup frozen corn or drained canned corn
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2- 8 oz skinless chicken breasts (16 oz total)
1/4 c. chopped green onions, for topping
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1-2 diced avocados
3/4 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (optional)
6 corn tortillas, cut into strips (Optional, not part of the original recipe. I used this rather than the recommended tortilla chips to make it healthier and we all enjoyed it.)
OR Tortilla strips found in the salad topper section.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, and peppers and sauté until soft, 3-4 minutes. Slowly add the chicken broth, tomato sauce and Chipotle adobo sauce and bring to a boil. Add cilantro and remove from heat. Pour into Crock Pot.
To the Crock Pot, add drained beans, diced tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano and stir. Add the chicken breasts; cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.
Remove chicken and shred. Add chicken back into the soup, adjust salt and cumin to taste. (I added the tortilla strips at this point. You could also add them to each bowl while it is still hot.) Serve in bowls and top with fat free sour cream, cheese, scallions and cilantro. You can also top with avocado or crushed tortilla chips. Enjoy!
via Mary Starr


Easy Fresh Peach Cobbler


1¾ pounds fresh peaches (about 4 cups)

½ cups salted butter (4 oz.)

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract



Preheat oven to 350°F.


Gently rub the peaches under running water to remove fuzz, and slice peaches.


Place butter in an 11x7-inch baking dish; place dish in oven until butter melts.


Stir together flour, sugar, milk, and vanilla in a bowl and pour onto melted butter. (Do not stir.)


Spoon Peaches over mixture. (Do not stir.)


Bake until brown and bubbly; about 45-50 minutes.


via Southern Living


Roasted Garlic Zucchini and Tomatoes


2 zucchini cut in half lengthwise, then cut into ½-inch half moons

2 cups ripe tomatoes

½ onion minced

3 cloves garlic, minces

½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil



Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly grease a 9/13-inch baking dish.


Combine the zucchini, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in the prepared baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and mix well.


Place in preheated oven. Roast until vegetables are tender and slightly golden, about 18. minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and basil.


via allrecipes



Zucchini with Onion & Tomato


3 Tbsp. olive oil

4 small zucchinni

½ medium onion

1 medium tomato

¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)

Fresh basil or dried basil (to taste)


Parmesan cheese



Cut the zucchini into bite-size pieces.


Chop the onion.


Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet.


Sauté the zucchini and onion until tender and lightly browned (about 20 minutes)


Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until the juices thicken a little (about 5-10 minutes)


Serve with grated parmesan cheese.


via Food.com



Easy Yummy Squash

1. Wash and slice squash thin.
2. Layer in baking dish
3. Sprinkle with ranch
4. Sprinkle with Parmesan 
5. Layer more squash repeat Ranch and Parmesan. Keep layering  
Until your out of squash.
6. Add several spoons of butter 
7. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes



Magic in the Middle Cookies


Ingredients for Cookie Dough

1½ cups unbleached all-purposed flour (King Arthur)

½ cup unsweetened cocoa (Dutch-process or natural)

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup granulated sugar (plus extra for dredging)

½ cup brown sugar, packed

8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup smooth peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg


Ingredients for Filling

¾ cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)

¾ cup powdered sugar



Preheat oven to 375°F, and lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment.


To make the dough: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In another medium-sized bowl, beat together the sugars, butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and the egg, beating to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients, blending well.


To make the filling: In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and powdered sugar until smooth. With floured hands or a teaspoon scoop and roll the filling into 26 one-inch balls.


To shape the cookies: Scoop 1 Tablespoon of dough (a lump about the size of a walnut), make an indentation in the center with your finger and pace one of the peanut butter balls into the indentation. Bring the cookie dough up and over the filling, pressing the edge together and covering the center. Roll the cookie in the palms of your hands to smooth it out. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Roll each rounded cookie in granulated sugar, and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about two inches between cookies. Grease the bottom of a drinking glass, then use it to flatten each cookie to about ½-inch thick.


Bake the cookies for 7-9 minutes, or until they’re set, and you can smell chocolate. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.



The most reliable way to make sure you have equal amounts of filling and dough is to use King Arthur’s teaspoon scoop and tablespoon scoop.


If doubling the recipe, add an extra egg to the chocolate dough (3 total).


If you’re making the dough ahead of time, add two tablespoons of milk to the dough. It tends to dry out as it sits, and the extra moisture will keep the outside dough from cracking as you form the cookies. 


via King Arthur


Sourdough Starter


½ cup flour

¼ cup non-chlorinated water



Mix together the flour and water in a large mason jar.

Cover with cheese cloth and let it grow on the counter.

Every 24 hours, discard half of the mixture and add the same ingredients above.

After a week, you will have starter you can use.


Christmas Countdown