Pepperoni Rolls

Pepperoni rolls are the perfect appetizer if you are looking for something easy! Or instead of Friday night pizza takeout, serve it with a tossed salad…dinner done! I have been making these for as long as I can remember, and before that my mom made them. I have her hand written recipe, circa @1985. So for well over 36 years this recipe has stood the test of time!

This recipe uses frozen bread dough. It’s so easy. Thaw, roll it out, fill with your favorite pizza toppings, bake it, and serve.

How to Start

I use Rhodes white bread dough. Begin by thawing out the bread dough, following the directions are on the package.

Next, chop up some peppers. I use red or green depending on what I have in the fridge. Sauté the pepper in olive oil till soft, about 3-4 minutes, set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, add the pepperoni. You can use sliced pepperoni, or a thicker casing version and dice it(remember to remove the casing before baking). I don’t leave the slices whole, I typically chop them up. Add the cheese and beaten egg and the peppers, mix well.

Next, roll out the bread dough into a rectangle, as thin as you can get it. Spread the filling over the bread, roll it into a log, and place on parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down. Pour melted butter over the top, sprinkle a little parmesan cheese over the top and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and baked through. Serve with marinara sauce (see simple recipe at the end)

I included my mom’s hand written recipe below, and here’s my updated version. I love that I have her hand written recipes. Especially this one!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup pepperoni
  • 1 chopped green or red pepper, sautéed
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Romano cheese plus more for sprinkling on top.
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 loaf of frozen bread dough
  • 1 -2 TBSP melted butter

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350º. Dice the peppers and sauté in a medium pan over medium heat until soft, about 3-4 minute. Set aside too cool. In a separate bowl, add cheese and chopped pepperoni, beaten egg, and cooled peppers. Roll out the thawed bread dough into a rectangle. Spread filling, and roll up into a log. Place seam side down on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce.(recipe follows)

There’s many different variations you can make depending on what you like. Here’s a few to try.

Variations to pepperoni

  • Make it a veggie roll, mushrooms, peppers and onions
  • Add green olives and change up the cheese to mozzarella or asiago cheese.
  • Make it a Mexican version with 1/2 cup taco seasoned beef, refried beans, black olives
  • Make it a Greek version, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, red peppers, 1tsp oregano, 1/4 cup chopped artichokes
  • Add crumbled Italian sausage for a heartier rolls
  • Make it sweet instead of savory with chopped apples, walnuts/dates, cinnamon

Simple Marinara Sauce

  • 1 can Cento brand crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oli
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 11/2 tsp sugar

Heat olive oil and cook garlic until soft, about a minute. Add tomatoes, and spices and simmer for about an hour. Serve warm with pepperoni rolls.

Apricot Pastry Cookie (Apricot Kolache)

A delicious cold dough cookie that is so easy to make. The dough can be made ahead and frozen. Take it out and thaw it when you need a fun cookie to serve. This is a traditionally Polish or Hungarian cookie. They can be filled with any pastry filling you like. I use https://www.solofoods.com/products/cake-pastry-fillings my favorite is the apricot filling. But the raspberry pastry is equally delicious!

I have to tell you that my mother in law made this cookie every year at Christmas. I think she probably could make it in her sleep! She sort of wrote down the recipe, it was partially there, but no real directions. So after many failures, I finally figured it out! This cookie is one of my husband’s favorites, and every time I make it, it brings back fond memories of his childhood!

Where to Start

First make sure the butter and cream cheese are softened and at room temperature. Cold butter will make it more difficult for the cream cheese to be incorporated into the butter. Beat together until completely mixed. Add the flour and continue beating until the sides of the bowl come clean. Then remove the dough, separate it into 4 equal parts, and wrap in plastic wrap, or freezer paper until ready to use.

What is a cold dough cookie

Traditionally, when you mix all the ingredients for a cookie, you would bake it off right away. These cookies need to be refrigerated for at least an hour before baking. The dough needs to firm up because they get rolled, otherwise the dough would stick to your rolling pin, and it would make it difficult to work with.

What tools are used to make this cookie

  • Rolling Pin
  • 3″ square cookie cutter
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixer

I found this fluted square cookie cutter to make these cookies. It made the process go so much quicker! My mother-in-law used to use a ruler and a knife to measure out all of her dough! You can do that! But the cookie cutter makes it so much quicker, plus the fluted edges look so pretty when the cookie is folded.

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook:15 minutes
Additional: 1-3 hours
Servings:48 (4 dozen)
Ingredients
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 12 oz pastry filling such as Solo
  • 1 egg white
  • Granulated sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)
Instructions

Step 1. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix butter and cream cheese well, about 4-5 minutes, until completely mixed. Add the flour one cup at a time until it is incorporated well, and the dough starts to come together and the sides of the bowl come clean. Remove from the bowl, and separate the dough into 4 equal parts.

Step 2. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. Remove one wrapped dough at a time. Begin by flouring the work surface, and roll out dough into a rectangle, as thin as you can get it about 1/8″ thick. Press the cookie cutter into the dough. Place 1/2 teaspoon of the pastry filling in the center of each square. Using egg white as glue, fold up one side onto the other and lightly press it on the top. Secure with additional egg white so they don’t separate when baking.

Step 3. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, sprinkle with granulated sugar, bake at 350° for 14-15 minutes until lightly browned, rotating the cookie sheet half way through baking. Remove from oven, and sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Let cool. Store in a air tight container for up to 5 days, or freeze. Makes 4 dozen.

Holiday Nut Rolls

Polish Potica

This is my Christmas tradition! Baking these nut rolls. The funny thing is my mom made these when I was growing up. Every year it was a tradition. It was an all day long project for her! I think she must have doubled the recipe and made 12 rolls! I know she used a different recipe than this one. This one is my mother in law’s recipe. I am not even sure if my mom’s recipe was written down. Both are equally good, but my mom’s recipe didn’t use egg whites in the filling, she used milk. I think this is one of those recipes that has changed and can still change over time and yet still be delicious. I would like to think my daughter’s might make them someday, so I am glad to have finally put together a written recipe that is legible! My mother in law’s handwriting was hard to decipher, and I think she left out some parts. She made them every year too. And even made them with poppyseed filling on occasion I am told. I love traditions. This one is my favorite because it always reminds me of my mom and my mother-in-law! Enjoy!

Where to start

Begin by making the filling first. Start with grinding the walnuts in the food processor, making sure they are finely ground. Put them in a large bowl, and set aside. Next, separate the eggs. This recipe uses 6-8 large eggs. You will need one cup of egg whites for the filling, about 6 large eggs. Beat the egg whites until frothy add the cream of tartar and vanilla. I use a whisk attachment for my mixer. Add the sugar and continue whipping until fully incorporated, about 5 minutes. Remove from the mixer and fold into the reserved walnuts until completely mixed. Set aside.

Filling

  • 2 pounds ground walnuts (I use a food processor for this, you want the nuts to be finely ground)
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 6-8 egg whites (enough for one cup)

How to make the dough

Start by measuring out all of your flour into your mixer bowl. Next in a 2 cup measuring glass, measure one cup of luke warm water (not hot) and sprinkle both packages of yeast into the water and stir. I add a tablespoon of sugar to the yeast mixture to help it activate, set aside and let this rise until it measures to 2 cups.

In a small sauce pan, warm the milk (don’t let it scald) and add the butter and 2 TBSP of sugar until it melts. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature before you add it to the flour. In an other separate bowl, beat egg yolks with a whisk and then add the sour cream and beat well.

In your mixer, fitted with the dough hook, add 6 cups of flour, the egg mixture and the yeast mixture and milk & butter. Keep mixing until the sides come clean. You may need to add more flour until it comes together, but not too much or it will be too elastic.

Dough

  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm whole milk
  • 6-8 egg yolks beaten
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 sticks of softened unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 2 packages of yeast

Do you let the dough rise?

After the dough is mixed, turn it onto a floured surface and roll into a shape of a log. I use a large plastic knife and separate the dough into 6-8 evenly measured dough balls depending on how big you want your nut rolls. Try to make them all about the same weight and size. The dough has already been kneaded, so you don’t have to worry too much about doing that again. Once they are separated, put them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and cover them with a towel. Let them rise about 20 minutes.

The tricky part-rolling out the dough

The dough is soft, and rolling it out is not that hard, but the tricky part is measuring the filling to make sure you have enough for all of them! You can use about 3/4 to 1 cup of filling for each roll. Roll out each dough ball into a rectangle on a floured surface. Roll it out as thin as you can get it. Carefully spread the mixture so you don’t tear the dough. I usually put about 5 dollops around the dough so it makes it a little easier to spread. Then with your fingers, begin rolling the dough beginning from the long side. Start with a tight roll, and slowly roll it to a log form, and place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet seam side down.

Baking the nutrolls

Preheat your oven to 350°. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the nut roll seam side down. With the leftover egg yolks, mix with 1-2 TBSP of water to use to brush on top of the rolls. This will give them a glossy top and help them brown on top. Then poke about 4-5 holes in the top of each with a sharp knife so the steam can escape. Otherwise they will explode in your oven and the filling will fall out! (Believe me, this has happened to me before!) Brush with egg mixture and bake 20-30 minutes until golden brown on the top. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack until completely cooled. Slice into one inch rolls and enjoy!

Do they freeze well?

Absolutely!! This is the best part! They take a lot of work to make, but do freeze well. Wrap tightly in freezer paper, and they can be frozen up to 3-6 months. Take out and let defrost on your counter before slicing.

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground walnuts (I use a food processor for this, you want the nuts to be finely ground)
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 6-8 egg whites (enough for one cup)
  • 6-8 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm whole milk
  • 6-8 egg yolks beaten
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 sticks of softened unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 2 packages of yeast

Instructions

  1. Begin by making the filling. Ground 2 pounds of walnuts with a food processor. Put into a large bowl, and set aside. Place one cup of egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar, and the vanilla. Slowly add the sugar until it is mixed thoroughly and it is bright white and thick. Pour the egg whites into the walnuts and mix until combined. Set aside.
  2. For the dough, measure 6 cups of flour in your mixer bowl. In a 2 cup measuring cup, measure 1 cup of warm water and sprinkle 2 packages of yeast into the water, along with one tbsp of sugar, mix well and set aside.(Let the yeast begin to activate before you put it into your flour, I let it rise to 2 cups before I put it in the flour) In another bowl, whisk together 6 egg yolks and sour cream and set aside. In a small pot warm the milk and add the butter until it melts, add 2 TBSP of sugar and mix well. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Next, with your dough hook attached to your mixer, mix the flour, add the yeast mixture, the egg mixture and the milk mixture to the bowl. Continue mixing until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. You may need to add more flour up to another cup until it comes together.
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and roll into a log. Separate the dough into 6-8 equally measured balls, place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise 20 minutes.
  5. Roll out each dough ball into a rectangle shape. Spread about one cup of filling on each one. Roll up and pinch the ends closed. Brush with egg, and poke about 5 holes in each. Bake at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes, rotating once in your oven. Slice and serve, or freeze.

Hearty Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage & Spinach

I have been looking for an easy soup that my kids would eat! Don’t get me wrong, they are not always picky, they love their chicken noodle soup, but also will chow down on some broccoli cheese soup too. But the ordinary Campbell’s tomato soup is the closest they have gotten to a tomato based soup….until now! They loved this soup. Mind you they ate around the spinach, but loved the flavor! This soup is delicious by itself, or pair it with a simple green salad and some garlic bread and you definitely will have a winner for a quick weeknight meal.

How to start

Start with chopping up onions, carrots and garlic. I use whole carrots when I need them for soups or stews. I think they have a fuller flavor than the precut carrots. I love to use fresh herbs when I can, but I don’t always have them, especially in the winter. Dried herbs work just as well for this soup.

What kind of sausage to use

I use sweet Italian sausage, without casing. You can usually find it packaged by the pound. I typically use only 1/2 pound for this recipe and freeze the remainder for another time. If you like it spicy, you can use hot sausage instead. You can also eliminate the sausage all together. Use a heavy bottom pot, like a cast iron pot, and heat to medium. Cook the sausage until no longer pink, and remove from the pot and drain on paper towels.

Make the soup base

Using Cento brand crushed tomatoes and either vegetable stock or chicken stock. Add salt, pepper and basil. I sometimes add a tablespoon of sugar to tomato recipes to cut the acid. Let this simmer on low for at least 30 minutes. The longer you let it simmer the more flavor it will have.

Add the tortellini & spinach

I use frozen cheese tortellini for this recipe, you can use fresh, it will cook faster. Then add your fresh spinach, this will take a few seconds to wilt so watch you don’t overcook it or it will get mushy. You can leave out the spinach if you don’t like it, or add kale instead.

Hearty Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage & Spinach

Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound crumbled sweet Italian sausage
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 large carrots sliced thin
  • 1-2 cups of packed fresh spinach ( more or less depending on your preference)
  • 9 oz package frozen tortellini
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 32 oz vegetable stock
  • 28oz of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
Instructions
  1. Using a cast iron pot, crumble the sausage and cook until no longer pink, and remove from the pot and drain on paper towels to drain.
  2. Add the olive oil, and the onions and cook until just getting soft.
  3. Add the garlic and carrot and cook until for another minute or two. Being careful not to let it burn.
  4. Add the tomatoes and vegetable stock. Stir well. Add the salt, pepper and basil. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and let it simmer on low for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the tortellini and spinach and let it simmer for another 10 minutes until the pasta is cooked.
  6. Serve with shredded parmesan cheese and a slice of Italian bread.

Variations

  1. Add kale instead of spinach
  2. Eliminate kale or spinach and use zucchini instead. (It will cook longer than spinach, so allow time for it to get soft)
  3. Eliminate all meat, to make it a meat free meal.
  4. Add crushed red pepper when cooking the onions and garlic to make it a little spicier.
  5. Add hot sausage instead of sweet to make it spicy.
  6. If you have fresh basil, add that at the end instead of dried.
  7. Depending on your likeness to garlic add a little less or a little more.

Hashbrown Egg Bake

Hashbrowns and eggs together as one! I think it is instant comfort food! You can serve this for breakfast or brunch, or lunch or even dinner! Why not! Breakfast for dinner is one of our favorite things!

I don’t think you could use the cubed potatoes in this recipe, they would be too chunky. I think homemade shredded potatoes would be excellent, but you should make sure they are drained well. I think there is taste a difference between frozen and fresh potatoes, but to be honest, I didn’t have any good fresh potatoes, so the frozen ones worked well, and they made it easy.

I use 6 eggs for this recipe, because I make it in a 8×8 glass pan. If you want to use a bigger pan, add 2 more eggs and another 1/2 cup of half & half and the full bag of potatoes. You basically double the recipe except for the eggs!

Sauce the onions and peppers in the butter till the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft, about 2-3 minutes.

Simple spices elevate this recipe. A little paprika and garlic powder go a long way!
Top with a little extra cheese!

Ingredients:

1/2 package of shredded hash browns (package typically is 1 pound 14 oz)
1 red bell pepper diced
1 small onion diced
2 TBSP unsalted butter
6 eggs
1/2 cup half & half
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or shredded cheddar/jack cheese) plus more for the top
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 & 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8×8 glass dish, set aside. In a medium pan, sauce onions and peppers in 2 TBSP of unsalted butter until translucent. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, half&half, add spices and cheese. Add peppers and onions and half of a package of frozen hash browns. Pour into prepared pan. Top with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Serve with a side of salsa, or salad.

Enjoy!

Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Are you like me and are baking and cooking a ton right now? It is getting old staying inside, but let’s face it we are all safe at home right now. This global pandemic has to end soon, or the Freshman 15 will turn into the Covid-19 plus some! I have not baked or cooked anything new lately, but plan on getting back to the blog this week. I have this one recipe of my mom’s though and I thought I would share.

My mom didn’t like cooking much, but I will have to say, she loved baking. I could never replicate her pie crusts, or her famous nut rolls she made every Christmas. I have tried to make her nut rolls, and that is for a future post! When I was older, she learned how to make homemade chocolate at Easter and that I may have been able to replicate. That’s for a later post though too!

She honestly was famous for her Chocolate Cake. She made it in a 9×11 glass pan. I don’t think it lasted more than two days in my house when I was growing up.

I think there was a story floating around that my brother used to ask her for two pieces in his lunch, so he could sell one of them for a quarter!

This cake is super moist. I don’t think you even need to ice it, but I do because, well, it looks pretty! Nothing too sweet though, don’t use an icing from a can on it, it will be too sweet.

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup oil (I use canola, vegetable is fine)
2 unbeaten eggs
2 ½ cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
5 Tablespoons cocoa
1 cup hot water
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a large bowl.  Beat 2 minutes. I prefer the cupcakes for this cake, it’s easier for my family!

Bake at 350 degrees

  • 25-25 minutes for layer pans
  • 45 minutes for an oblong pan (9 x 13)
  • 20-30 minutes for cupcakes

Simple Icing recipe:

6 TBSP unsalted butter softened
2 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Let the cake cool, and spread frosting on top. You can decorate it with mini chocolate chips or shaved chocolate, or chocolate sprinkles.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Sweet Italian Sausage with Peppers & Onions

My swimmers eat a lot of pasta! I am always trying to come up with ways to make it differently. I have used it in stir-fry’s, in casseroles (but to be honest my family doesn’t eat too many of those), and I have made it just with butter and chopped fresh garlic and parmesan cheese and they are happy.

But since I am often busy in the evenings at the pool, I need to have an option that can be easily heated up or in the crock pot. We often eat in shifts around here and there are some weeks we don’t eat a meal together until Sunday. This is one of those weeks!

I love sausage and peppers and so does my family. But I don’t like it when the peppers are all soggy. I found that if you put the peppers in the crockpot, an hour before serving them, they are perfect. Cooked but still firm. I usually just lay them on top of the tomatoes and sausage. They steam a little in there with the lid on and they are perfectly cooked in about an hour.

For this recipe I have done it two different ways. I have used Mild Italian sausage, and Sweet Italian Sausage. My family likes both, but I can’t serve them hot sausage! They would definitely not eat it! I like to leave the links in tact with the casing on them. I am sure it can be removed if you like, but when it is in the slow cooker I don’t want them to fall apart.

I use no salt added tomato sauce. You can use any brand you like, I just happen to find Hunts today. I like the petite diced tomatoes, they are small for adding to this recipe for texture and a little extra tomato flavor.

Ingredients:

1 Package of Mild Italian Sausage links or Sweet Italian Sausage
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 medium onion sliced
2 bell peppers sliced into strips (I used one red and one yellow)
5 – 6 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 TBSP olive oil
Mozzarella cheese or Parmesan cheese optional
(Pasta for serving or hard sandwich rolls)

Directions:

Place diced tomatoes in bottom of slow cooker. In heavy bottom pan or cast iron skillet, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add sausage links and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and place in crock pot on top of tomato’s. Reduce heat, add coarsely chopped garlic to pan, and cook till translucent about 1 minute. Don’t let it burn.

Add tomato sauce and tomato paste and stir. Remove from heat and add to slow cooker. Stir into sausage and diced tomato’s. Add the sliced onions and stir into the tomatoes mixture. Cook on low about 4 hours.

One hour before serving place peppers on top of sausage and cover. Cook an additional hour until peppers are soft but not soggy. Serve over your favorite pasta (penne is great) or in a toasted hard roll top with parmesan cheese or shredded mozzarella.

Enjoy!

Healthy Zucchini Muffins

As you probably have already realized I bake and cook a lot! Most of the time my kids turn up their noses at zucchini. They will eat it grilled in the summer, or sautéed with butter. But don’t add marinara sauce to it or try to get fancy with making it into a boat and filled with meat or cheese. They will definitely say “no way”! I will say though, sneaking it into a bread or these muffins…they don’t even realize it is there.

I was going to add oatmeal to these muffins, but changed my mind. I did use whole wheat flour though, it adds some extra protein and to be honest it does’t change the texture of it. I use King Arthur flour, https://shop.kingarthurflour.com/items/king-arthur-premium-100-whole-wheat-flour-5-lb I call them healthy because they honestly don’t have that much sugar in them…well except for the mini chocolate chips! I think the mini ones are better for these muffins, they don’t overpower them with too much melted chocolate!

This time of year is a struggle all the time for me. The sun rarely comes out and we are so busy with swimming and championship season. I think we have 4 weekends in a row with swim meets. It’s hard to catch up sometimes. These muffins are great because I can freeze them well and only pull out a few at a time. During swim season, I need to throw in some good healthier snacks that are packed with protein and carbs.

I often find that around 3:00 in the afternoon we all need a cup of tea or coffee and a snack to keep us going the rest of the day. This is the perfect combination! This recipe made about 17 good sized muffins, I probably could have filled them a little more to get 14 total.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar
4 oz apple sauce
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 medium fresh zucchini shredded (about 1 cup)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

I actually had to hurry up and freeze 6 of these muffins, my family couldn’t get enough of them!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º. Using a box grater or a food processor with a shred blade, shred the zucchini and set aside. In a large bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, whisk all together well. In another bowl add the shredded zucchini, apple sauce, oil, eggs and vanilla. Stir together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix well. Fold in the chopped walnuts and mini chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 15-20 minutes until done. Let cool on a wire rack.

These muffins freeze well, just pop them in the microwave to defrost for about 10-20 seconds and enjoy!

Renovating a cabinet

We acquired this old chemistry bench from when we lived in Kansas. This cabinet was sitting abandoned. And we think it was under an open window or a hole in the roof, because there was quite a bit of pigeon droppings on it. Honestly someone probably would have looked at it and said “no way” and threw it in the trash. But, since my husband’s research advisor was also very talented in wood working he knew there was pretty oak underneath.

When I was decorating for Christmas, I typically put a few things in this cabinet. I have a collection of Santa’s that this same research advisor started for me in 2000. I think he thought I needed a hobby of collecting things! I had just finished our staircase https://foxwit.wordpress.com/2019/12/14/renovating-a-staircase/ and I wanted another project. I kept looking at this thinking it could look so much better painted. But, for one thing its huge and extremely heavy, and its also very old. I believe circa 1910 it says on the back. So I didn’t want to compromise the integrity of the piece but wanted to do something to bring it up to date. I decided on painting just the inside of the top.

Choosing the the type of paint was easy. Fusion Mineral Paint https://fusionmineralpaint.com is the easiest paint to use. It goes on smooth and there is no need for a top coat. I used it on my staircase project and it still looks great after 6 months. I didn’t want to paint the outside so we decided that a stark white would not look right with the warm oak. I chose Raw Silk. It is a little softer in color and goes well with the rest of the piece.

The first thing I did was remove the glass doors and wipe down all the surfaces with TSP. I wanted to make sure there was no grease or anything on the inside.

I put the first coat of Zin primer on the bottom of the cabinet. If you notice there is some bubbles in the middle of it. I think there may have been some acid or base possibly that was spilled inside this when it was used in a chemistry lab. There was some kind of black stuff on the bottom, but it wasn’t paint, not sure if it was some kind of laminate inside to protect it from scratches or chemicals. It was a little damaged, and it showed up pretty well once it was primed white. I didn’t want to leave it like that so I found some ordinary wood filler, and used a scraper and some 120 sandpaper to get the surface smooth.

This is a pretty awful picture, but I wanted to show you that I filled the holes with wood filler and sanded it. It took a couple days to get it smooth, but it worked.

I put two coats of the primer on the bottom and inside of the cabinet. There were a couple other places that needed filled and sanded. The back of the cabinet was plywood, and it had a small gap in the middle that I filled. For the most part it was pretty easy. I used an old $2 brush to put the primer on. I typically use foam brushes, but a cheap one worked fine.

I applied two coats of primer and let the primer dry for a day before I started putting the @Fusion Mineral Paint on. https://fusionmineralpaint.com

I applied two coats of the @Fusion Mineral Paint.

Once the paint was dry I put the glass doors back in and found new hardware for the front. I am pretty pleased with how this turned out. I love using this paint and it has no odor and cleans up so well with soap and water.

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Do you have one of those recipes you like to make on a cold dreary day? One of those meals that is pure comfort food? I think Chicken Pot Pie is one of those. Lets face it a pastry crust on top of anything is delicious! No matter what is underneath it! I have adapted this recipe from one of my favorite chef’s Ina Garten.

Ina Garten has some fabulous recipes and they are all worth trying, but I don’t always have time to cut up fresh vegetables, or make homemade chicken stock or homemade crust. I am sure those things would make it all taste so much better. But for my family, especially during the week, I prefer the packaged prepared pie crusts, and the frozen veggies!

The egg wash is what makes this crust golden brown on top. I think that’s a step a lot of us forget about or don’t think it’s even necessary. You are probably in the majority if you think it. But honestly, I would definitely do that step. It is so simple. One egg in a small bowl with about a tablespoon of water. Using a fork mix it well. Then get out a pastry brush and spread that egg all over the top of the crust. Believe me it will be magical the it comes out of the oven and is all golden delicious on top!

Doesn’t every great dish start with butter? Haha! Butter makes everything better right? I like to use the unsalted butter in a lot of recipes. It’s better to add your own amount of salt. I do prefer the landolakes butter but I don’t always have it on hand.

Unsalted butter gives you control of the flavor. “As it pertains to cooking, unsalted butter lets the real, natural flavor of your foods come through. Have you ever noticed that some recipes call for using unsalted butter and then to add salt? Without the added salt in the unsalted butter, the pure sweet cream taste comes through and you can add the exact amount of salt you want in the recipe.” https://www.landolakes.com/expert-advice/salted-or-unsalted-which-butter-should-i-use-when/

Simple spices. Sure you can go get some fresh parsley or fresh thyme. But honestly all those fresh spices don’t last in my fridge very long, and I don’t have the luxury of having a garden with fresh plants either. I use these simple spices. It’s not overly spiced and I think that’s what makes it comfort food.

You can use fresh carrots, and frozen peas. You can use the bag with the corn in it too. I am not a fan of corn in my chicken pot pie. The frozen bag of peas and carrots are just perfect. I use the whole bag for this pot pie.

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 12oz package of frozen peas and carrots
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup of half and half
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 TBSP dried parsley
  • 1 package of prepared pie crust (I use Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1 TBSP seas salt for the top.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º. In a medium sized sauce pan place chicken in water to cover the top, boil on medium heat for about 20-30 minutes until done. Shred chicken and set aside. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large pan on medium low heat. Add chopped onions and cook till translucent, about 2 minutes. Add flour, stir and cook for 2 more minutes until the flour is all incorporated in the onions and butter. Add chicken stock one cup at a time whisking it into the flour mixture. Pour in the half and half. Add all the spices and mix well. Stir in the frozen peas and carrots. Fold in the cooked chicken.

Pour it all into a 9 inch glass pie pan. Top with the prepared pie crust and crimp the edges. of the crust, or fold them over the edges. Make an egg wash with 1 egg and about a TBSP of water. Brush on top of the crust. Using a knife, make a couple slits in the top of the crust to let it vent. Sprinkle with sea salt. Place pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any leaks. Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden on top. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

If you are like me, just one crust is enough on the top of the filling. But if you prefer two, prepare the pan with a crust on the bottom of the pie pan before filling it.