Cheese Bread

Photo of sliced Cheese Bread on a cutting boardKneady and Cheesy
With the weather getting somewhat cooler recently, I have been more inclined to turn on my oven. I made some granola over the weekend. It disappeared rapidly—mainly because I sent most of it to my kids who are living in dorms. The rest was inhaled by my husband who has no self-control. That activity, plus the scent of pumpkin spice floating in the afternoon breeze, has me wanting to do a little more baking.

Since the number of people in my household has decreased by two, I have to be more discerning when it comes to the recipes I choose to make. I no longer have teenage boys to finish off 3 dozen cookies overnight. Add to that the fact, that my husband is trying to lose a few pounds (the granola incident notwithstanding). If I want to bake, I have figured it’s better to go savory than sweet to give him a fighting chance.

My daughter has a cheddar biscuit recipe that she likes to use to make tasty ham and cheddar biscuit sandwiches. They are really good but I can’t eat biscuits for lunch every day. Not to mention biscuits go stale pretty quickly. This cheese bread is a great alternative and will be my plan for baking this weekend. Though, I might whip up a secret batch of chocolate chip cookies too because it’s always nice to have a cookie with your sandwich at lunch…

Cheese Bread Recipe
Adapted from King Arthur Baking Company
Yields 1 loaf

We incorporate three different types of cheese (cheddar, cottage, and Parmasean) to make this loaf that is great for toasting and sandwiches. If you wish, you can also divide it into 12 pieces and make dinner rolls. Read more…

Fresh Ricotta Cheese

Photo of Fresh Ricotta Cheese on a knifeEasy Cheesy
Many moons ago I took a cheese-making class. It was great fun and much easier than you would think. Granted, I am not currently aging my handmade cheese in my own mountain caves, nor do I plan to be. But, that would be very cool…no pun intended.

I will, however, make some of the easier cheeses from time to time to add to recipes where freshness matters. By far, the easiest to make is fresh ricotta. The first time I ever made the cheese outside of class, I used it in a lasagna that I made totally from scratch—noodles and everything. The results were ridiculously good. But, I was exhausted.

You don’t need to get quite as nerdy as I did to try making fresh ricotta. For one thing, who really has that time? And second, you will get great results using good quality pre-made pasta and sauce.

Or, forget the pasta altogether and slather this fresh ricotta cheese on some crostini. Yum!

Fresh Ricotta Cheese Recipe
Yields about 1-1/2 cups of cheese Read more…

Apple and Honey Board

Photo of an Apple and Honey BoardBoard of Celebration
Yesterday I woke up and realized that we are basically halfway through September. And, I am not entirely sure how that happened. I do know that I have weather whiplash. Last week the pavement was melting and this week I need a sweater. I guess that means it’s fall now?

This weather has also got me craving fall foods. I consumed some pumpkin spice baked goods the other day without guilt since the temp outside was in the 70s. (My rule is no pumpkin spice when it’s 80 or above—no matter how much I love the flavor. Just on principle.) I also found myself eyeing the crockpot for something slow-cooked and hearty like a pot roast. That line of thought took me on a roasted meat journey that got me to a lovely brisket with plenty of “melted” onions. Then the brisket reminded me that Rosh Hashanah is coming up at the end of the month.

Full disclosure, I am not Jewish. But, I have a deep and consuming love for what most people consider to be Jewish food. My mother-in-law IS Jewish AND from New York. So, after 20-plus years in the family, I believe I know my way around a good bagel among other favorites. Even though we may not celebrate the Jewish holidays in our family, I do like to at least acknowledge the history and culture if only so my kids have some connection to their past. (I mean fair is fair. They must endure all things Viking from my Scandinavian family.)

Rosh Hashanah begins on Sunday the 25th which is perfect as I tend to do what I call a “big dinner” on Sundays. This generally means that whatever we are having takes more than an hour to make. It’s an homage to the Sunday dinners we had at my grandmother’s growing up. Not sure what the main dish will be this year but I do know I will start things off with an Apples and Honey board.

The reasons are two-fold. One, the fall apples are starting to show up in the market and they are all crunchy goodness. (I’m looking at you Honeycrisp.) Second, I’ve kind of become a cheese board-obsessed maniac…so any excuse is a good excuse. And, since apples and honey are part of the tradition it’s a no-brainer…

There is no actual recipe for making an Apple and Honey Board. Just use your imagination. However, if you are doing one for Rosh Hashana remember no meats. And, since circles and rounds have significance for the holiday, try to incorporate them as much as possible. You can use cheese rounds like brie and round crackers. Or consider making this recipe for a classic cheeseball. Read more…

Amy’s Beat Bobby Flay Chicken Parm

Image of Amy's Beat Bobby Flay Chicken Parm with pastaMaybe Classic Chicken Parm
We all have those time-suck TV shows that you turn to because nothing else interesting is on. These are the shows that you tell yourself you will just watch for a little while and then 3 hours later (because it was a marathon) you’re still watching. I have a few go-to favorites. Big Bang Theory is one. The worst offender though is Beat Bobby Flay on Food Network. I found myself down that rabbit hole once again about a week or so ago and what’s worse is I haven’t been able to get one of the recipes out of my head.

That recipe? Chicken Parmesan.

I am a fan of crispy fried chicken in all forms. This particular version is a favorite because it adds melted mozzarella on top. I mean, what’s not to love? I will say that I definitely fall into the less sauce is more camp here which may not be traditional. I like some sauce on top. I don’t like so much sauce that my chicken is soggy but to each his or her own. You make it the way you want to make it.

What struck me about the way the chefs were preparing this dish during that episode is that Bobby was adding ground toasted fennel to the flour dredge for the chicken—because it was how his mother would make it. I had never heard of this. By doing some light research and asking a few friends, I have found that a number of Italian mothers and grandmothers will make chicken Parm this way. However, finding a published recipe that includes the fennel is difficult.

The first thing I think of when I think about the flavor of dried fennel is Italian sausage. I love Italian sausage. The idea of that Italian sausage flavor married with the Chicken Parm has had my mouth watering for days and I haven’t had the time to make it for dinner. It’s always crazy busy at the beginning of the school year…

I’m going to give it a go this weekend by adapting my favorite Chicken Parm recipe. I’m hoping for a win…

Amy’s Beat Bobby Flay Chicken Parm
Yields 4 servings Read more…