April 30, 2014

Chicken and Spring Vegetable Alfredo

Spring Vegetable Alfredo

Spring has sprung.  With dandelions, thunderstorms, and big giant rainbows! As I was sitting on the couch last night I caught a glimpse of the rainbow and dashed outside.  Little did I know it was probably the biggest rainbow I've ever seen; a complete arch from one end to the other, with a tiny double rainbow on either end. So then I had to stand in the middle of the street to take pictures.  The neighbors were probably laughing at me, Dustin definitely was.

Spring Vegetable Alfredo with Asparagus, Leeks, and Peas

Spring has sprung in our dinners too! Vegetables and lemon flavors galore. Dinner last night combined a creamy sauce, juicy chicken, and delicious bright spring vegetables.  Asparagus, leeks, and peas are pretty much my favorite vegetables, and I love being able to use them all at once.  Combined with chicken, pasta, and Alfredo this pasta dish was warm, filling, and full of spring flavors.

Chicken and Spring Vegetable Alfredo

I love Alfredo sauce, but hate when everything is drenched in it. The Alfredo sauce here is bright with the addition of lemon zest and lots of pepper, and it gently coats the pasta and vegetables.  It's more of a supporting sauce for the vegetables, and it really brings out their flavors.  The chicken and spring vegetable Alfredo was a great spring dinner.

Chicken and Spring Vegetable Alfredo Pasta Dinner

Chicken and Spring Vegetable Alfredo
author: Happy Food Happy Home
serves: 2-3--can easily double

2 chicken breasts, cubed into bite size pieces
salt and pepper
2 big glugs olive oil

½ pound of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 leek, thinly sliced
½ cup peas

½ pound pasta

1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¾ cup parmesan cheese
salt and a lot of pepper

green onions or chives for topping
  1. Heat olive oil in a high sided skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. 
  2. Salt and pepper the chicken cubes.  Add to the dutch oven and cook until browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate or bowl.
  3. Rinse the sliced leek thoroughly to remove any grit.  Add the leek to the dutch oven and soften.  Add extra oil if needed.  Remove pot from heat.
  4. Blanch the asparagus in salted water for 2-3 minutes until crisp tender.
  5. Start cooking the pasta in salted water.
  6. Prepare the sauce.  Heat cream over medium heat until slightly thickened-about 5 minutes.
  7. Add lemon zest, a generous amount of pepper, and a pinch of salt.
  8. Add the parmesan cheese and butter and stir the sauce until it is smooth.
  9. In the dutch oven with the leeks combine the chicken, drained pasta, peas, asparagus, and sauce.  Heat for about 5 minutes until the peas are cooked and everything is warmed through.
  10. Serve in bowls topped with more parmesan cheese and chopped green onions. 
Chicken and Vegetable Alfredo with Asparagus, Leeks, and Peas

What delicious spring foods are you cooking?  Are you as obsessed with asparagus as I am? Please say yes...

April 28, 2014

The Best Ham Sandwich

The Best Ham Sandwich

"The best ham sandwich?" you're asking.  I know, it's a mighty big claim.  But this ham sandwich has just about all you need in life.  It has ham (ofcourse), tangy cheese, apples, and an egg.  Because putting an egg on anything makes it better.

The sandwich is a lovely study in contrasts--salty ham meets tangy cheese meets sweet crisp apple, meets savory egg.  Didja get all that?  It's a great weekend lunch, and would be the perfect brunch sandwich.  And while it would be great for lunch every day it is often hard to fry an egg at work.  Though if you can swing that more power to you!

The Best Ham Sandwich with an Egg on Top

Our weekend was great.  Dustin and I headed out to my mom and dad's to help them plant the garden.  Dustin tilled, while Mom, Dad, and I planted.  Magoo laid in the sun, and Boomer ran around like a crazy dog.  And he rolled in the dirt--more than once.  Picture him rolling with glee in the freshly tilled dirt, getting as much all over him as possible.  I told him he was going to have to stay there. :)

The Best Ham Sandwich with Apples and an Egg

On Sunday Dustin and I went to breakfast and then grill shopping.  And we got one!  I am so excited to grill this summer.  We literally cleaned every grill-able thing out of the fridge last night for dinner.  It was a random smorgasbord of delicious grilled things.  I can't wait for more!

Ham Sandwich with Apples, Egg, and Gouda Cheese

I also can't wait for more of this ham sandwich.  I kind of want to make one as a snack right now.  It's a great lunch that isn't too heavy but really fills you up.  All the tastes combine to make a interesting and super delicious sandwich.

The Best Ham Sandwich with Apples and an Egg
author: Happy Food Happy Home
serves 4

4 eggs
salt and pepper
4 crusty baguette pieces, sliced in half
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
4 slices sharp cheese
1 apple, thinly sliced
Dijon mustard

  1. Fry the eggs to your desired done-ness--over-medium was perfect for me.  Top with salt, pepper, and paprika to taste as they're frying. 
  2. Schmear Dijon mustard on the bottom baguette halves. 
  3. Top with ham, then the apples.  You want the apples to be as thin as you can get them. 
  4. Add the cheese on top of the apples, then put an egg on top of each sandwich.  
  5. Top with the baguette tops and serve!
The Best Ham Sandwich with Ham, Egg, Gouda, and Apples

What's your favorite sandwich?  Have you caught the 'put an egg on it' bug?  It's kind of my new favorite thing to do!

April 25, 2014

Behind the Scenes

My students have been crazy this week!  I think it's spring fever.  I definitely earned the glass of wine I had last night.  And the afternoon caffeine hits everyday this week.

Yummy wine!

Our crab apple tree is blooming!  It really is the most gorgeous tree in the spring.  We are really enjoying it.

Crab Apple Tree Blooms

Luckily that white stuff on the ground is not snow.  Just tree petals after the wind and rain last night.

Crab Apple Tree Snow

We sat outside on the patio for drinks this week.  The sunshine felt awesome, and it finally felt like spring.  Though I did get cold once the sun went behind the awning.  I love how the sun was shining around the sign.
Sunshine around a Sign

I hope you had a good week!  This weekend we're going out to dinner with our friends; pizza tomorrow night!  And if it's dry I'm heading to my parents' house to help them plant the garden.  I've got to help if I want to steal vegetables this summer.  Have a good weekend!

April 23, 2014

Four Hour Baguettes

4 Hour Baguette

I love baking bread.  The process of taking some really basic ingredients, and with a little mixing and time it turns into delicious crusty bread.  I was intimidated before I had made many loaves of bread;  what if the loaves don't rise, what if it turns out gross, what if I mess up?!  So many worries.

Four Hour Baguette

The more I've made bread the happier it makes me.  The steps are normally pretty similar--mix, knead, rise, form, rise, cook, eat.  The eating is the best part. And sure, some of my loaves fell like Pompeii, some of them didn't taste quite right, and I've killed the yeast in more than one.  I've just kept at it, mostly because the reward is so great--who can say no to fresh bread.

Crusty Homemade Baguette

When Dustin was gone last week I might have eaten two complete loaves of this baguette.  For lunch and dinner. And breakfast. I would be ashamed if the bread wasn't so delicious and easy. Oh, who am I kidding, I wouldn't be ashamed. 

Homemade Baguette

Onto these baguettes.  You really can have the baguettes done from start to finish in 4 hours!  And they are really really good--crusty outside, chewy inside, with a delicious flavor.  The recipe makes three baguette loaves--they are probably best on the day they're made, though I keep mine in a ziplock bag until they're gone.  I also froze two of the dough balls and made them later; that worked out perfectly! 

Quick Four Hour Baguettes
author: Happy Food Happy Home 
adapted from 4 Hour Baguettes at Food52
makes 3 loaves

1 ½ cups water, at 115 degrees F
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
olive oil, to grease bowl
1 cup of ice cubes

  1. Whisk together water and yeast in a large mixing bowl.  Let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Add flour to water and yeast, and mix with a fork until a shaggy dough forms.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for about 20 minutes to hydrate the flour.
  4. Add the salt and loosely fold together.
  5. Transfer dough to a floured surface.  Knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  The dough might be super sticky--just add flour a little bit at a time until the stickiness stops.
  6. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled--about 45 minutes.
  7. On a floured surface make an 8 by 6 inch rectangle.  Fold the long edges of the dough to the middle, then fold the short edges.  Place the dough back in the bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled--about 1 hour.*
  8. Put a rimless baking sheet on the middle rack in an oven.  Place a cast iron pan on the bottom rack.
  9. Form the baguette loaves.  Cut the dough into 3 even pieces.  Roll each piece into an even 14 inch long rope.  Twist the ropes to help them maintain their shape in the oven.
  10. Place 1 loaf in the middle of a parchment lined baking sheet. Lift the parchment to create a ridge on either side of the middle loaf and place the other two loaves on either side. 
  11. On either side of the loaves place a tightly rolled dish towel under the parchment paper. This will help the loaves rise up and not out.
  12. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  13. Cover the loaves loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until the loaves have doubled--about 50 minutes.
  14. Uncover the loaves, remove the towels, and flatten the parchment paper.
  15. Use scissors to slash each baguette in 4 spots.  You could also use a super sharp knife or a bread lame.
  16. Slide the parchment paper and the loaves onto the baking sheet in the oven.  Pull on the parchment paper as a guide.
  17. Put the ice cubes into the skillet and quickly shut the oven.
  18. Bake the baguettes until brown and crispy--about 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.  Allow loaves to cool before cutting. 
*After this rise you can separate the dough into three pieces and freeze them in zip top bags.  To bake the bread, allow dough to thaw, then continue through the recipe.
Try these baguettes as a side for a delicious dinner, turn them into breakfast, or use them as sandwich bread.  The baguettes are simple to make and great to eat.  I have a feeling I'll be making baguettes from this recipe far into the future!

Easy Homemade Baguette

Do you love making bread or does it intimidate you?  Have you ever eaten two loaves of bread in 1 week? Please tell me I'm not the only one...  

April 21, 2014

Spring Vegetable Risotto

Spring Vegetable Risotto

Spring is here! Spring is here! The sun is shining, the grass is growing, things are green and pretty again! Spring is definitely my favorite season--it is just so wonderful after the cold gray winter.

It has been so wonderful to be able to get outside.  I actually ate dinner outside last week!  We've also been doing yard work (not my favorite), going for walks with Boomer, and .  Yesterday I sat on a picnic table in the sun, went for a walk in the woods, and enjoyed the spring sunshine.

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Peas

I meant to take a photo of the food at Grandma's for Easter yesterday, and I forgot.  I was a little distracted by the eating :)  And also fighting with my cousins, getting my hair braided, and hiding approximately one thousand Easter eggs.  But the FOOD--there are about 40 of us who all go to Grandma's for holidays, and thus there is lots of food.  And it is all delicious.  And I eat way too much.  And that is all.

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Leeks, Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Peas

Dustin went on a business trip last week, and I made one of my favorite foods that happens to not be one of Dustin's favorite foods.  This happened because I made risotto for Dustin a long time ago and let it sit too long before serving it.  Thus it got too tight and sticky, and Dustin will forever think that risotto is heavy.  Risotto is not sticky or heavy! It is delicious and creamy while having no cream in it.  But you do need to serve it right away--if it sits it will get sticky.

Spring Vegetable Risotto

Spring vegetable risotto was the culmination of me wanting allthevegetables while I was in the grocery store.  Leeks! Asparagus! Peas! Mushrooms!  Yesyesyes.  The leeks are fragrant and meltingly soft.  The mushrooms provide an earthy flavor and a meaty bite.  Peas are a bright pop, and asparagus is asparagus--the best spring vegetable ever.  And the Arborio rice combines everything together into a creamy and delicious risotto full of spring vegetables and spring flavors.

Spring Vegetable Risotto
author: Happy Food Happy Home
serves 4 large portions or 6 smaller portions

4 ounces baby portabella mushrooms
1 leek, white and light green parts only
½ pound asparagus
1 clove garlic
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
¼ cup dry white wine
zest of ½ a lemon
½ cup peas
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chives
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Prep Vegetables
    1. Cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces.  Blanch for 2-3 minutes until asparagus is crisp tender.   Remove to a large bowl.
    2. Wash and cut the mushrooms into bite size pieces.
    3. Cut leek in half length-wise, then slice.  Place leek in a colander and rinse to remove grit. 
    4. Mince garlic.
  2. Heat broth in a medium saucepan over medium low heat.  The broth should be warmed through.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a dutch oven or high sided skillet over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes until mushrooms are brown and just starting to release liquid. Remove from the pan to the bowl with the asparagus.
  4. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the olive oil to the pan.  Heat until the butter is melted.
  5. Add the leeks to the pan.  Cook until leeks are tender, 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add garlic and the rice to the pan.  Toast for approximately 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant and the rice smells toasted.
  7. Add the wine to deglaze the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any stuck on pieces off the bottom. Cook for about 30 seconds to allow the wine to evaporate. 
  8. Add 1 ladle of broth to the rice.  Stir and allow the broth to absorb into the rice.  When nearly all the broth has absorbed add another ladle full.
  9. Continue adding broth one ladle at a time.  As the rice cooks allow it to get sticky between each new ladle of broth; this will help the starches release from the rice.
  10. When you only have one or two ladles of broth left add the asparagus and mushrooms, the peas, and the lemon zest.  Stir everything together.  Add broth as needed.  Check the rice to make sure it is cooked through and check the seasonings.  Add salt and pepper to taste.   
  11. Add the parmesan cheese and the chives. Stir together.  If your risotto is too tight or sticky add a little more broth.  If it is too loose or wet allow to cook until it is the texture you desire.
Note:  This recipe can be made vegetarian by swapping the chicken broth with vegetable broth.  Replace the butter with all olive oil and leave out the parmesan cheese, and it's vegan.

Spring Vegetable Risotto

Your risotto is ready to eat!  I can eat a bowl of this as dinner, or add a poached egg on top, use as a side, or mix in some chicken.  Spring vegetable risotto is full of delicious spring vegetables and flavors.  It's like having spring in a bowl! And it's the perfect dish to finally celebrate the arrival of spring.  

April 16, 2014

Key Lime Cupcakes

Key Lime Cupcake with Lime Curd Filling

My entire family loves key lime pie; when we went on a trip through the Florida Keys a few years ago we ordered key lime pie at every restaurant we stopped at.  And we made a few key lime pies as well.  That was a very delicious trip!

Key Lime Cupcakes

Because of our love of key lime pies I gave my brother a choice, would he like chocolate or key lime cupcakes for his birthday?  He chose key lime cupcakes, though he fought hard to get both.  Sorry Adam, only one set of cupcakes per birthday!  He turns 22 tomorrow; Happy Birthday Adam!

Key Lime Cupcake with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

These key lime cupcakes are a trifecta of lime and deliciousness.  The cake is soft with a hint of vanilla and lime, the frosting is a delicious combination of cream cheese and tart lime, and the lime curd is bright lime and citrus hit right in the middle of the cupcakes.

Lime Curd filling for Cupcakes

Don't be afraid of the curd!  It's really as simple as whisking until everything thickens--it just sounds fancy and hard.  Curds are fun, delicious, and a great recipe to have in your back pocket.  Curds can top yogurt, desserts, ice cream, whatever your imagination comes up with! Try the lime curd--you can do it!

Key Lime Cupcakes

These key lime cupcakes are a great spring and summer treat.  The soft cake filled with the tangy bright lime curd and topped with a rich cream cheese frosting make a delicious cupcake.

Key Lime Cupcakes
author: Happy Food Happy Home  
adapted from Key Lime Pie Cupcakes from Annie's Eats
makes 24 cupcakes

Vanilla Lime Cupcakes
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
zest of one lime (or 2-3 key limes)
4 large eggs
1 ¾ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons lime juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lime two cupcake tins with liners.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until the butter is light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides.
  4. Add the lime zest and beat until combined.
  5. Add ½ cup of the sugar at a time (4 times total) beating for 1 minute before adding the next scoop.  Scrape down the sides each time.
  6. Combine the buttermilk, vanilla, and lime juice in a liquid measuring cup.
  7. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl.  Mix on low until the flour just disappears.
  8. Add ½ the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix briefly.
  9. Repeat the 1/3 dry- ½ wet- 1/3 dry until all the ingredients are incorporated.  After the last flour disappears mix for 15 seconds more. 
  10. Scoop batter into the liners 2/3 full.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until an toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooking rack until completely cooled.

Lime Curd
3 large eggs
¾ cup of sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  1. In a medium sauce pan whisk together the eggs and sugar until combined.
  2. Whisk in the lime juice.
  3. Place the saucepan over medium low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is warmed through.  Be careful to heat slowly to keep the eggs from curdling.
  4. Whisk in the butter a piece at a time.  Wait until each piece is melted and incorporated before adding the next one.
  5. Continue to cook until the mixture thickens.  It should coat the back of a spoon, and a spoon should leave a track through the curd when pulled through.
  6. Once the curd has thickened remove it to an airtight container and refrigerate.  

Limey Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cold cream cheese
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lime juice
3 cups powdered sugar  + more if needed
  1. Combine cream cheese, butter, and lime zest with a mixer.  Beat on medium high speed until smooth and creamy--about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Add the powdered sugar.  Beat on low until the sugar is incorporated.  Increase speed to medium high and beat for 2-3 minutes more.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the lime juice and vanilla to the frosting.  Beat until well combined. If your frosting is a little thin you can add a dash more powdered sugar to thicken it.
  4. Use your frosting for key lime cupcakes, sugar cookies, or anything else your heart desires! 

To Assemble the Cupcakes
  1. In the cooled cupcakes use a paring knife to cut a cone shape out of the middle of the cupcake. Remove cones to the side, saving for later.
  2. Use a teaspoon to scoop the lime curd into the holes in the cupcakes.
  3. Remove the bottom of the cones, and put the tops back onto the cupcakes.  This step is optional, you can totally just frost over the curd without the tops.
  4. Using an offset spatula apply the lime frosting to the cupcakes, using 2-3 tablespoons of frosting on each cupcake.
  5. Serve and eat!
Key Lime Cupcake with Lime Curd Filling

Make the cupcakes for Easter this weekend!  They're the perfect spring time treat.  And the key lime cupcakes are really really delicious!  

Do you have any fun Easter plans?  What are some Easter traditions your family keeps?

April 14, 2014

Salami, Spinach, and Mozzarella Pizza Roll

Salami, Spinach, and Mozzarella Pizza Roll with Spicy Marinara

Pizza is one of Dustin's and my favorite food.  We have pizza for dinner at least once a week--I'm also pretty sure Dustin lived on pizza before we moved in together.  I like trying new flavors of pizza; some recent favorites have been arugula and prosciutto and a Greek flavored pizza with olives and feta.  Dustin normally sticks to classic flavor profiles

Salami, Spinach, and Mozzarella Pizza Roll

For this pizza roll I wanted to combine a fluffy dough and a some salami I had languishing in my fridge! I also added baby spinach and mozzarella cheese, and used a spicy marinara dipping sauce instead of putting pizza sauce inside of the pizza roll.

Beautiful Roll of Salami, Spinach and Mozzarella

The salami adds a spicy savory flavor, the spinach adds a freshness and a much needed vegetable into this dinner.  And who can have pizza without cheese!  Shredded mozzarella cheese is delicious and adds a gooey cheesy flavor that also helps hold the pizza roll together.  And the spicy marinara is a great dipping sauce with 'sticks' of pizza roll.  Try this salami, spinach, mozzarella pizza roll for the next pizza night at your house!

Salami, Spinach, and Mozzarella Pizza Roll with Spicy Marinara

Salami, Spinach, and Mozzarella Pizza Roll
author: Happy Food Happy Home
makes 8 servings

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 cup warm water
2 ½-3 cups all purpose or bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

¼ pound salami, sliced thin
2 cups baby spinach leaves
black pepper
4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
olive oil for topping

  1. For the dough, combine the yeast and water.  Whisk together and let sit for 5 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile in a medium mixing bowl whisk together 2 ½ cups of flour, the sugar, and the salt. 
  3. Using a fork mix together the yeast and water and the dry ingredients until a dough forms.
  4. On a floured surface knead the dough for 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and springy.
  5. Put the dough in an oiled bowl and  cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. On a floured surface roll the dough out into a 12 by 18 inch rectangle.  The dough will be about a ½ inch thick. 
  8. Place the salami in a layer on the dough.  Overlap the salami by about half.  Start along a long edge placing the salami right next to the edge--this will be the inner edge of your roll.  When you reach the other long edge leave about a half inch gap to help close the roll. 
  9. Add the spinach in an even layer on top of the salami.  Top with black pepper to taste.  Make sure to leave the half inch gap along the outer edge.
  10. Add the mozzarella cheese on top of the spinach in an even layer.  
  11. Begin rolling the dough; gently fold the inner long edge over approximately 1 inch.  Continue to tightly roll up the dough keeping the ingredients inside. 
  12. One the roll is completely rolled tightly pinch the long edge closed, pulling the dough around the fillings. 
  13. Transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Drizzle the top with olive oil and rub all over the top of the roll.
  14. Place roll in oven and bake for 45-50 minutes.  When cooked the dough will be lightly brown and crispy.  The internal temperature should be 200 degrees F. 
  15. Allow roll to rest for approximately 10 minutes before serving.  

Spicy Marinara Sauce
author: Happy Food Happy Home

Glug of olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon Italian Seasoning
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon wine (optional)
1 can diced tomatoes or tomato puree
  1. In a medium sauce pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. 
  2. When oil is shiny add the onion and cook until translucent.
  3. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, fennel, and oregano.  Cook for 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant.  
  4. Add wine and allow to simmer for 1 minute.  If not using the wine, skip this step.
  5. Add tomatoes and bring sauce to a simmer. 
  6. If desired you can puree the sauce with an immersion blender or in a blender until smooth. 
Is pizza on your dinner rotation?  You will love this pizza roll when you try it!

Salami, Spinach, and Mozzarella Pizza Roll

April 10, 2014

Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches

Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Fast food breakfast sandwiches are my weakness--I'm looking at you mcmuffin!  And while I'm perfectly ok with eating one every once in a while, I often find myself wanting one on the way to work in the morning--that is not every once in a while.

Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich-McMuffin Copycat

So I set out to create a very suitable breakfast sandwich copy cat that would be healthier, as well as having no artificial ingredients.  And  these breakfast sandwiches fit the bill.  The sausage is crispy, the eggs are silky and soft, and the whole wheat English muffins are soft and hearty.

Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McMuffin

The sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches keep me full until lunch.  They are full of protein and so tasty and satisfying.  They are also perfect to alternate with my normal Greek yogurt and fruit breakfast; sometimes I need something a little heartier for breakfast.

Sausage Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches
author: Happy Food Happy Home
makes 8 sandwiches

8 whole wheat English Muffins
8 sausage patties
8 baked eggs (see below)
8 slices of cheese
  1. Use a fork to slice the muffins in half.
  2. Fill each muffin with a sausage patty, an egg, and a slice of cheese.
  3. To prep for the freezer rip 8 sheets of wax paper into 8 inch squares.
  4. Wrap each sandwich in the wax paper.  Fold a corner over the sandwich, the two side corners in, then roll the sandwich into the rest of the paper.  Use a piece of tape to seal the paper closed. 
  5. Place the sandwiches in a gallon ziplock bag, squeeze out the air and put in the freezer.
  6. When you're ready to eat the breakfast sandwiches, remove the tape.  Microwave the sandwich for 45 seconds, then flip and microwave for 45 more seconds.  You might have to add up to 30 more seconds based on your microwave.  
Note: If you are prepping these for the freezer make sure the English Muffins, sausage patties, and eggs are at room temperature or are cold.  Don't put them together warm or they will condensate and get freezer-burnt.
Note 2: You can totally skip freezing these; just combine everything and eat.  I would toast the English muffins, then combine the hot sausage and egg, and put the cheese on top. If needed you can bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes to help melt the cheese. 

Baked Eggs--for Breakfast Sandwiches
author: Happy Food Happy Home
makes as many eggs as you want

Cooking Spray
Salt and Pepper
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  1. Oil the inside of your baking ramekins-1 per egg.
  2. Crack an egg into the baking ramekin.  Use a butter knife to break and swirl the egg yolk through the white.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place ramekins in the oven for 8-12 minutes, until eggs are set in the middle.  If you have lots of ramekins placing them on a baking sheet makes it easier to get them in and out of the oven. 
  5. To remove the eggs from the ramekins run an offset spatula around the edge of the egg.  Then use the spatula to gently lift the egg round from ramekin.  
  6. Transfer directly onto a breakfast sandwich or to a plate to cool! 
Sausage Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches are the perfect grab-and-go breakfast.  They have a ton of protein to keep you full until lunch, and they are really really yummy!  Maybe even gasp better than McMuffins! You should totally try these breakfast sandwiches.  They will make you happy in the morning.  If only they would help me get out of bed on time...

April 9, 2014

Thin and Crispy Sausage Patties

Thin Crispy Sausage Patties

I love the thin and crispy sausage patties classically found on fast food breakfast sandwiches.  I'm not sure I want to think about how much of those patties is actually sausage, but I set out to create crispy sausage patties that would be perfect for my homemade breakfast sandwiches.  

Sausage Patties

However there was a problem--sausage does not like to stick together.  In fact it really wants to fall apart all over the place.  (Attempt one was a disaster lol.)  So I added some binders--an egg and a little flour.  And it worked! Thin and crispy sausage patties just perfect for putting on a breakfast sandwich.  The patties are crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and best of all they hold together!

Sausage Patty for Breakfast Sandwiches

Come back tomorrow and see how I combined the English muffins, these sausage patties, and baked eggs into delicious breakfast sandwiches.

Thin and Crispy Sausage Patties

Thin and Crispy Sausage Patties
author: Happy Food Happy Home
makes 8-10 patties

1 pound ground pork breakfast sausage
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon flour
oil for cooking (optional)
  1. Heat a dutch oven or cast iron skillet over medium heat.  If your sausage is lean add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan.
  2. Use your hands to combine the sausage, egg and flour until fully mixed. 
  3. Divide the sausage into 8 or 10 even pieces.  Use your hands to gently press the sausage into a patty.  Flip the patty into the skillet and carefully spread the patty thinner; use a silicone spatula or your fingers carefully!
  4. Let patties cook until bottoms are browned and then flip.  Cook until the other side is browned and the patties are cooked through.
  5. Transfer cooked patties to a paper towel lined plate and then eat! 
Tomorrow I'm sharing the breakfast sandwiches that all the cooking this week culminated in!  The breakfast sandwiches go straight from the freezer to the microwave to the belly.  They are delicious and easy and totally do these sausage patties justice!

April 7, 2014

Whole Wheat English Muffins

Homemade English Muffin

I love English muffins by themselves; coated with butter, or jam, or (personal favorite!) apple butter!  I love the little crevices that the toppings can nest inside, the light and chewy texture, and how versatile English Muffins are!

Homemade English Muffin

I made these English muffins with the express purpose of making breakfast sandwiches.  McDonald's egg mcmuffins are a weakness of mine, and I often find myself wanting to stop on the way to work.  In order to resist the temptation I made English muffins.

I wanted to see if I could make English muffins; it was an interesting challenge because even though English muffins are not difficult to make, they do have a few steps.  And I'd never made them before!

Crusty Whole Wheat English Muffin

I think the trickiest part of making the English muffins was making sure the bottoms didn't burn.  I might have blackened a few of them instead of browning--oops.  I watched the next batch more closely and no burned bottoms!

Open English Muffin

Whole Wheat English Muffins
Author: Happy Food Happy Home
makes 8-10 muffins

1 cup milk, heated to 100 degrees
1 ½ teaspoons yeast
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
vegetable oil
  1. Whisk together the warm milk and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Let sit and bloom for 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. 
  3. Cube the butter into small cubes and add to the stand mixer bowl. 
  4. Gently beat egg and add to the stand mixer bowl.
  5. Add the dry ingredients in two batches and mix until just combined. 
  6. Switch to the dough hook and mix for approximately 5 minutes until the dough pulls away from the bowl and is smooth and shiny.
    1. Alternatively, use a wooden spoon to stir the milk and yeast, egg, butter, and dry ingredients until just combined.  Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until dough is smooth and shiny.
  7. Oil a medium mixing bowl.  Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 1 hour until the dough doubles in size.
  8. Divide the dough into 8 pieces for large muffins, or 10 pieces for medium sized.  Oil your hands and shape each piece into a ball.  Flatten the balls until they are about ½ an inch thick. 
  9. Place the rounds on a cornmeal dusted cookie sheet.  Dust the tops with more cornmeal.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. 
  10. Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and place the cornmeal lined baking sheet in the oven.. 
  11. Cook each dough ball for about 5 minutes per side.  The sides will brown quickly; let them sit for about 5 minutes, but watch that they don't burn.  If you turn them over too soon they can fall flat.
  12. Once both sides of the muffins are browned transfer them to the baking sheet in the oven.  Let bake for about 5 minutes until the middles are cooked.  They will read 200 degrees on an instant read thermometer. 
    1. Note:  If you have more muffins than will fit in your cast iron skillet you can cook them in batches.  Just be sure to transfer the muffins to the oven immediately  after browning-don't wait!
  13. Remove the muffins to a cooling rack and let cool.  Use a fork to split the muffins, coat spread with in butter, and devour! 
English muffins are so yummy!  They were really fun to make; I totally enjoyed my kitchen adventure making English muffins.  And they were delicious to eat! 

Check out the finished breakfast sandwiches!

April 3, 2014

How to Clean and Care for a Wood Cutting Board

My best friend in the kitchen is my giant wooden cutting board.  It's literally huge, and I literally use it every time I cook.  My cutting board has his own spot on the counter-right between the stove and the sink.  It is the perfect prep spot and the cutting board let's me do all my work in one spot.

I use my cutting board to chop and, for gathering my mis en place, and as a general spot to sit anything and everything.  I also use him as a back drop for food photos, and occasionally as a hot pad. 

As a result of all this hard work my cutting board was in need of a deep cleaning and an oiling.  (He was getting kind of grungy.)

Follow these steps for a great looking and working wooden cutting board.  If you take good care of the cutting boards they should last a really really long time.  

How to Clean and Care for A wooden Cutting Board
Author: Happy Food Happy Home

Wooden Cutting Board
220 grit sandpaper
sanding block
Kosher Salt
Coconut Oil
Paper Towels or a clean dry cloth
  1. Optional-If needed use the sanding block and sandpaper to sand the surface of your cutting board.  Sanding will help remove stains, buff out knife scratches, and smooth the surface of your cutting board.  Don't try to be perfect--you might end up with an uneven surface; just lightly sand the surface. Use a damp paper towel to wipe off the sawdust.
  2. Cut the lemon in half.  Pour a teaspoon of salt onto the surface of the cutting board. Use the lemon half to scrub the salt into the cutting board, focusing on stains.  Cover the surface of the cutting board with the lemon juice-salt mixture.  Flip the board over and repeat on the other side with an additional teaspoon of salt.  Let the cutting board sit for approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Thoroughly rinse the cutting board and allow it to air dry completely.
  4. Using your hands massage about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil into each side of the cutting board.  Flip the board over onto a towel before doing the second side.  Let the board sit overnight to allow it to absorb all the oil it can. 
  5. After its overnight soak use paper towels to buff the excess coconut oil off of the board. If your board is dry, repeat the coconut oil massage and allow to sit again.   

Your board is ready for use!  To keep clean day to day rinse your cutting board after every use.  If you cut meat on your wood surface use soap to wash before using with other ingredients. Allow board to dry out between washings-if the board gets water inside it may crack. 

You can oil your board once or twice a month, or you can wait longer. Just follow steps 2-6 for a great looking wooden cutting board.  My cutting board was really overdue for a good cleaning and oiling, but looks wonderful now!  I would recommend only sanding about once a year-if you sand too often there won't be anything left of your cutting board!

Just a note:  I bought my wooden cutting board at a kitchen supply store.  It was cheap-only 15 dollars-but a little rough.  I did an initial sanding to smooth out the roughness before I ever started using it.  After sanding it was as smooth as butter and functions just as well as a 100 dollar cutting board. 
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