The Ultimate Comfort Food – Beginning With Mirepoix

Do you know what I like about mirepoix (pronounced meer pwa)? Besides the fact that it is fun to say, it’s the basic foundation of many soups, stews and sauces. It’s commonly made up of aromatics such as carrots, celery and onions. I’m adding garlic and green bell peppers to the trio because I find it packs a lot more flavor. It’s the beginning of many layers of flavor I’ll be using today in my hearty homemade tomato sauce which then goes on to the star of the show, American Chop Suey.

Sweat or sauté

The idea of mirepoix is to sweat the vegetables over a low heat for about an hour in a small amount of fat. I like to use a little butter and extra virgin olive oil for an additional layer of flavor. You don’t necessarily want to sauté the veggies because that method cooks the product too quickly and you will get a much different flavor result. Sweating is similar to sautéing, however, at a much lower temperature and for a longer period of time. Sweating softens the veggies, releases water from them without browning. This will draw out their natural sweetness and will be helpful later when we add the tomatoes. The reward for your patience in the slow cooking of the veggies is that the sweetness from the mirepoix will neutralize some of the acid from the tomatoes.

There are many different combinations to make a mirepoix. The possibilities are endless. Most often you will see a basic mirepoix is 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot and 1 part celery. That is an excellent starting point. However, you may want to experiment with the ratios to find different flavors that suit your tastes. I find I like more carrots than onions and that is what I use in this recipe.

As I mentioned, mirepoix is found in many foods. I like to make a big batch of it so I can have it on hand for a quick soup or stew. Depending on the dish you’re making, you might even consider adding some bacon to the mixture for additional flavor. Likewise, ginger adds a lot of flavor and goes well if you use a mirepoix when making a stir fry. For other recipes, which I will share another time, I use different combinations.

The. Ultimate. Comfort. Food.

For now though, get ready for American Chop Suey, the ultimate comfort food. I’ve made this dish countless times for lunches or casual get togethers. People always seem surprised that this dish has mozzarella cheese in it. How could it not? I mean, all of the ingredients are just screaming to be covered in cheese. *Disclaimer* I am a cheese fanatic. If I could find a way to add cheese to my breakfast cereal that isn’t gross, I would totally do it. Stay tuned, you never know what challenges await.

American Chop Suey

A hearty pasta dish packed with a hearty tomato sauce, ground beef and mozzarella cheese.

Course Dinner
Keyword Pasta
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Author Lisa

Ingredients

Mirepoix

  • 2 cups carrots shredded or diced
  • 2 cups red and green bell peppers diced
  • 1 cup onion diced
  • 1 cup celery diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • drizzle olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • pinch salt

Hearty Tomato Sauce

  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 12 oz can tomato paste (optional - as needed)
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef

American Chop Suey

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 3-4 cups mozzarella cheese shredded

Instructions

Mirepoix

  1. In a large skillet over low heat, drizzle olive oil  to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the butter until melted.

    Mirepoix ingredients
  2. Shred the carrots, dice the onions, celery and bell peppers, mince the garlic. Add to the skillet. Toss the ingredients until well coated. Add the pinch of salt. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for approximately one hour. (Be sure to keep an eye on the vegetables, you shouldn't hear loud sizzling while it's cooking and your ingredients shouldn't turn brown. If this starts happening, reduce heat.) 

    Mirepoix simmering

Hearty tomato sauce

  1. While the vegetables are sweating, in a separate skillet, over medium heat, brown the ground beef. Add half of the broth, and all of the seasonings. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

    Ground beef for tomato sauce
  2. After the mirepoix has simmered for the hour, add the remaining broth to the mixture and bring to a low boil. 

    Mirepoix plus broth
  3. Combine the mirepoix mixture and the ground beef mixture. Then add the crushed and diced tomatoes. Continue to simmer up to another hour. The sauce will thicken and get sweeter the longer it cooks. If the sauce is too thin for your liking, you can gradually add some of the tomato paste a little at a time until your sauce reaches your desired consistency.

    hearty tomato sauce
  4. Meanwhile, cook one pound of pasta according to the package directions.

    Elbow macaroni

American Chop Suey

  1. When the pasta is cooked to your desired tenderness, gradually add the sauce and mozzarella cheese to the pasta and mix thoroughly. 

    American chop suey assembly2

Mainely Salsa-tional

Salsa ingredients
Salsa ingredients

Pico de gallo or Salsa?

They are both basically salads, but classified as sauces. Salsa is made with tomatoes, onions, and one or more varieties of peppers. Depending on what recipe you follow, there may also be other ingredients, but they’re chopped and mixed together.

The actual definition of salsa is a spicy tomato sauce. Salsa is sometimes cooked, sometimes not, again it depends on the recipe. It will have more liquid and has a thinner, soupier texture than its counterpart. 

Pico de gallo literally translated from Spanish is Rooster’s Beak. It is also known as salsa fresco. Pico de gallo is not cooked, this seems to be a standard rule. The chopped vegetables are clearly visible in the mixture. It’s chunkier and more rustic. It doesn’t require much seasoning other than salt and cilantro.

With all that said, I call my recipe a “Salsa” even though I use all fresh ingredients, don’t cook it and you can clearly see all the vegetables in it. But, I do add seasonings and other non-traditional ingredients which gives it more liquid than a traditional salsa.

Don’t worry, though, by non-traditional, I don’t mean you’ll find any rooster beaks in this recipe; but what you will find, however, is a lot of flavor. You can control the amount of heat, by selecting milder peppers and reducing the amount of ground cayenne. But, if made as the recipe calls, you’ll find a pleasant refreshing, almost sweet-tasting salsa followed a moment later by a little spicy kick.

 

Too Many Players On The Field

This particular recipe is slightly different than my very first version made many years ago. I once had to make an emergency alteration to stretch the recipe.

Has this ever happen to you? You’re only expecting a few people to show up for a gathering, but next thing you know, you have twice as many people than you’re prepared for. What do you do? I mean besides freak out about whether or not you have enough food for everyone. Well, this happened to me once and necessity became the mother of creativity.

I invited some friends over to watch football. I was only expecting 6 people, so I only made a small batch of salsa. It was kind of an unwritten rule that I would strategically put out bowls of salsa and chips within reach so my guests could nibble throughout the game. Next thing I knew I had twice as many people than I expected. I did not have enough salsa to place around for everyone and I couldn’t place a skimpy bowl of salsa in front of my guests.

I scrambled for ideas, I fumbled at the thought of adding the salsa to a big brick of melted cheese and just making a dip instead. But, I recovered and decided to just add some random vegetables from the crisper drawer. That move ended up winning the game..I mean the approval of my guests. They liked it better than the first draft and I still make it that way to this day.

I debated for a long time about sharing this recipe. This is the recipe that was going to make me rich and famous. I made it for an office party once and a few people offered to pay me to make it for them again. At that time I offered to share the recipe, but for one reason or another they thought it was just easier for them to pay me to make it. So, for a while, word got around and I was making gallons of this salsa every week. I brought it to the office, craft fairs, made gifts for friends and it was requested often for parties or just when we were hanging out for no special occasion. 

So, finally, that brings me to the name. Mainely Salsational. I had some very clever co-workers who would be gracious enough to sample my experiments while I was trying to come up with some new varieties. Some of those experiments were successful and others, eh not so much. These clever co-workers used a play on words making salsational out of the salsa is sensational. And, of course, Mainely because we’re from Maine and no one expects salsa from Maine to be a thing. Today I’m just going to share what is now called my “Original” salsa. I’ll share the other successful recipes another time.

Original Salsa

A fresh salsa with a touch of sweetness and a slight kick

Course Snack
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes seeded and diced
  • 1 cup cucumber seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers (medium size) seeded and minced
  • 2-3 medium cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • sugar as need optional
  • cilantro optional

Instructions

  1. Set a strainer in a small bowl. Cut the stem end off of each tomato and cut in half. Squeeze the tomato over the strainer to catch the seeds. Reserve the juice to the side. If you have the handy chop wizard kitchen gadget, you can use it to dice the remainder of the tomato and other veggies to get a nice, uniform size. Otherwise dice the tomatoes as usual. Add the diced tomatoes to a large bowl that has a lid.

    Chop Wizard
  2. Peel the cucumbers, cut in quarters lengthwise then cut off and discard the sections of seeds. Dice the remainder of the cucumber then add to the tomatoes.

  3. Remove the seeds from the peppers and discard. Dice the remainder of the peppers then add to the tomato mixture. (NOTE: If you want to add a little heat to the salsa, leave some of the jalapeno seeds and membrane. If you want a milder salsa, be sure to remove all the seeds and the membrane.)

  4. Mince the garlic then add to the tomato mixture.

  5. Add the remaining ingredients (except the sugar) to the reserved tomato juice. Stir well until the dried seasonings are well dissolved.

  6. Pour the mixture over the tomato mixture and stir until all the vegetables are well coated. Cover the salsa and refrigerate. (Trust me, you want to cover this dish. Otherwise everything in your fridge will taste like salsa.)

    Salsa
  7. This salsa will taste even better the next day, so if you have time, I would suggest making it the day before you want to serve it. 

  8. Adding sugar to this recipe is sometimes needed depending on your taste. Sometimes, after the vegetables have had time to infuse with the sauce, it will become a little sweeter. I would recommend not adding the sugar until the next day. And if you do need to add the sugar, start with a 1/2 tsp at a time. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and well blended. Repeat if necessary.

  9. I listed cilantro as optional because I am not really a fan of it and I do not miss it in the salsa when I make it, but others feel that it is needed and have enjoyed it when I’ve made it with the cilantro. So, it is up to you. Use as needed.

Do you prefer your salsa cooked or do you like the freshness of uncooked better? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for more recipes.

Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring – Father’s Day Brunch

Omelets are my all-time favorite breakfasts. I have many variations that houseguests frequently request. And, in my house, breakfast for dinner is a common occurrence. Omelets were the first dish I learned to make on my own as a kid. I’ve added many different ingredients for some unusual combinations over the years. My favorite is the Philly Cheesesteak Omelet. A close second favorite is the Italian Hoagie Omelet. Coming in third is the Meatball Parm Omelet. They’re all exactly what they sound like, too. The awesome sandwich fixings stuffed inside an omelet instead of bread. I know, some of that sounds really weird, but trust me, they’re amazing.

When I was younger, I had thoughts of opening a breakfast restaurant. I was going to serve breakfast all day long, especially eggs, more specifically, these unconventional omelets. At the time, I lived on the cape of New Jersey. I was going to call the restaurant “The Great Eggs Cape”. If you say that quick enough, it sounds like The Great Escape. Well, I thought it was a clever idea at the time. That restaurant idea never panned out, but my experiments live on. I live in Maine now, so that name wouldn’t work, but if I ever have the inclination to open a restaurant here, it would be called Comfort Café.

With Father’s Day quickly approaching, I’ve been considering something different for breakfast. I’ve been thinking about a frittata and incorporating the toast into it somehow. But, I recently saw an edition of Taste of Home that had a dish using crescent rolls. I’ve made party food using these crescent rolls and shaped them into a ring before and they were pretty good, so I decided to give breakfast a shot. It’s not exactly what I originally envisioned, but most of my recipes transform from the initial thought anyway.

My dad likes ham and cheese in his omelets, but never complained when I added peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic. Well, he might tell you I use too much garlic, so I’ll try to behave when adding the garlic this time. Since this dish has the ingredients of a Denver Omelet, I chose to go with that in the name, even though it’s not in the shape of an omelet. I did a test run of this recipe when visiting our family best friends (my Godparents) in Massachusetts this past weekend. It was a hit. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring

This dish has all the ingredients of a Denver omelet, but the eggs are scrambled and shaped into a ring over a base of Crescent rolls. Thick slices of ham layered over the dough hold in the egg filling. 

Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword Omelet
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 11 Extra Large Eggs 1 reserved for egg wash
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large green bell pepper diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 medium/large tomato diced
  • 1 pkg Crescent Rolls 8 count
  • 8 slices of deli ham
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/2 tsp sesame seeds optional
  • 1/2 tsp dried minced onion optional
  • 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic optional
  • 1/4 tsp poppy seeds optional
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt optional
  • pinch oregano optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Veggies
  2. Dice pepper and onion. Sauté in a large skillet over medium/high heat until tender. Add the garlic during the last minute of sautéing. Reduce heat to medium/low heat. Add the butter and allow to melt before adding the eggs.

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Veggies cooked
  3. Dice the tomato. (Add a little salt and oregano - optional)

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Tomatoes
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until fully incorporated. Eggs are fully whisked when no signs of yolk or egg whites can be seen in the mixture. 

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Eggs
  5. Add the whisked eggs into the skillet with the peppers and onions. Gently scramble the eggs mixing them with the peppers and onions. When the scrambled eggs are just about set (they'll still be a little wet, but not runny), add the diced tomatoes, stir until they are mixed in then remove the skillet from the heat.

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Scrambled Eggs
  6. On a large baking sheet or pizza pan, lay out the crescent roll triangles in a circle with the pointy tip of the triangle pointing outwards. Overlap the wider edges and press the dough to seal the pieces together.

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Crescent Rolls
  7. Lay the ham slices lengthwise over each triangle piece of dough. 

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Ham
  8. Sprinkle 1 cup of the shredded cheddar cheese around the center hole.

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Cheese
  9. Spoon the scrambled egg mixture over the shredded cheese. 

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Egg Layer
  10. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese over the scrambled egg mixture.

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Cheese 2
  11. Fold the pointy tips of each crescent roll over the filling and tuck under the ring. The filling may show through some of the openings. 

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring fold over
  12. Beat the remaining egg and add a teaspoon of water for the egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush each crescent roll with the egg wash and sprinkle with the optional salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion and dried garlic. 

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Toppings

What do you make on Father’s Day? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

 

Southwestern Skillet Easy To Make, Easy To Clean Up

As a kid, and even as a young adult, I loved those easy-to-make, one-skillet box mixes. All you had to do was brown the ground beef, dump in some powdered  sauce and the pasta, rice or potatoes along with some water. And boom! Dinner was ready. Well, I’ve been an adult for a long time now, but I still love the idea of throwing together a quick meal with an even quicker clean up. As I grew older and learned how easy those dinners are to make from scratch, I’ve made what seems like, a million variations. This Southwestern Skillet is just as easy as the packaged products, but tastier.

Tonight’s dinner came about by necessity of finding a use for some leftover rice. I searched the freezer and decided that I would use the ground beef. I was beginning to have tacos and Mexican-style rice on my mind, but I didn’t have any taco shells. Then I thought stuffed peppers would be good, but I didn’t have enough peppers. As I was running out of ideas, I looked through the pantry and pulled out a few cans of vegetables and my homemade taco seasoning, checked the fridge for some cheese and this one-skillet creation came to life. This would be better with all fresh vegetables but, in a pinch, canned will do.

Southwestern Skillet

Just as easy as the boxed food products, but tastier.

Course Dinner
Cuisine Southwestern
Keyword one-skillet
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 packets taco season **Or 4 tbsp of my mix
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz whole kernel corn
  • 1 16 oz kidney beans
  • 2 cups Mexican blend cheese shredded
  • 4 cups cooked white rice

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, over medium/high heat, brown ground beef. Drain the fat.

    Southwestern Skillet Ingredients
  2. Reduce heat to medium, add the diced onion and minced garlic, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent.

    Southwestern Skillet Ground Beef
  3. Add the taco seasoning to the ground beef with 2 cups of water. Stir until the seasoning is dissolved.

    Southwestern Skillet Seasoning
  4. Drain the liquid from the vegetables then add them to the skillet. Discard the liquids. (I save the liquid from the tomatoes in case my sauce gets too thick, I can add the tomato juice which will have more flavor than adding more water.)

    Southwestern Skillet Veggies
  5. Add the rice. 

    Southwestern Skillet Rice
  6. Add about 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Then reduce heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. The sauce will start to thicken.

    Southwestern Skillet Cheese
  7. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top of the mixture. Cover, remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes. The cheese will continue melting and the sauce will thicken. Serve with tortilla chips and sour cream - optional.

    Southwestern Skillet Cheese 2

Recipe Notes

**Instead of store bought packets of taco mix, why not try my homemade mix. You can find the recipe here.

Did your family rely on the hamburger skillet dinners for something quick? Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Garlic Breadsticks – A great bread for dipping

Do you ever get a craving for bread? I do. All the time. I love a rustic, hearty bread that you can dip into marinara or seasoned olive oil. Or better yet, toast the bread and load it up with garlic butter and parmesan cheese. My go-to garlic breadsticks are easy to make and you can top them with just about anything you like.

I’m a huge garlic fan. To be sure to keep the vampires away, I usually add a lot of minced garlic to the melted butter along with a blend of herbs and smother the bread in the final minutes of baking. I mostly use the Jack of all Herbs Medley that I wrote about here. Sometimes I just use sesame seeds or poppy seeds. If you don’t like those options, the breadsticks are very good on their own, too.

You can follow this recipe for the twisted breadsticks or make whatever shape you prefer. You’ll just need to adjust the baking time to accommodate for larger or smaller loaves. The leftover breadsticks are good for snacks, just place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper then bake for a few minutes then enjoy with your favorite dipping sauces or seasoned oils.

This dough is excellent for making a pizza dough as well. I have to admit, though, I don’t make homemade pizza often. Pizza is one of those things that I like to have when I don’t feel like cooking. But, since there aren’t any pizza places that deliver to my neck of the woods, sometimes I experiment at home when the mood strikes.

A Few Tips For Better Breads

Bread making can be very intimidating and sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right. But, don’t be discouraged if your first attempt fails. Practice makes perfect. I’m going to share some tips with you that took me many trials and errors and lots of research to figure out. Hopefully, you’ll master this process much sooner than I did.

As with most yeast breads, exact measurements and timing are not always consistent. The type of flour you use, the weather, temperature, humidity and altitude can all affect the outcome of your bread. Remember, you’re working with yeast that needs warm, moist climates to thrive, so you’ll want to make sure to work with warm or room temperature ingredients. Ingredients that are too hot or cold will cause a different outcome for your bread.

The Trick To Adding Flour

When making your dough, you may not need as much flour as the recipe calls for, but measure all of your ingredients as directed. However, when you start adding the flour, just use the amount of flour listed as a guide. Start by adding 1 cup of flour. Knead the dough until the flour is fully incorporated before you add more. Then continue by adding 1/2 cup of flour and kneading thoroughly. Once the dough starts to form a ball, reduce the amount of flour you add each time to a tablespoon or two.

The dough will have enough flour when it is still a little tacky but no longer sticky. This is the best way to tell when you’ve added enough flour. Keep in mind that when you roll out the dough, the dough will pick up a little more flour from  your floured work surface and floured rolling pin, so a little tackiness to your dough is necessary. Adding too much flour will make your bread tough. For this recipe, I’ve used as little as 3 cups of flour and, on occasion, I have needed all 4 cups of flour.

How Long Do You Need to Knead?

Kneading it too long or not long enough will also impact your final product. It will probably be different every time, so start with 5 minutes, then do this test. To ensure that you’ve kneaded it long enough, take a small piece of dough and work it with your hands, stretching it out as thin as possible. It should be almost transparent (I recently discovered this is called a gluten window or a windowpane test). If it rips or you can’t get it that thin, then you need to continue kneading it. Test your results every few minutes until you form the window.

Allow It To Rise To The Occasion

The last uncertain element to bread making is the rising time. The temperature of your ingredients and environmental factors will determine how long your dough needs to rise. It’s best to allow it to rise in a warm location. If your kitchen is very cool, try covering your dough with a towel or plastic wrap then allow it to rise on top of the stove with the oven set to a low temperature. If you live in a very dry climate, put a pot of boiling water next to your dough to rise in an enclosed space…perhaps your oven (without the heat turned on).

Most recipes will suggest that you allow the dough to rise for a certain period of time or until the dough doubles in size. These are good suggestions, if your environment is consistent. If it’s not consistent, like my kitchen, you’ll need to test the dough manually. Allow it to rise until it appears to have doubled in size. Poke your finger into the dough, if the dough snaps back into shape, a little more time is needed. If the hole remains, it is ready for the oven.

 

Garlic Breadsticks

An easy breadsticks recipe for an appetizer with a dipping oil or sauce. A bread to have with dinner or for a snack. 

Course Bread
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Rising time up to 1 hour
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 24 breadsticks
Author Lisa

Ingredients

Bread

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 packet yeast 1/4 oz or 7 grams
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Egg Wash

  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 tsp water

Topping

  • 4 tbsp butter melted
  • 1 tsp Jack of all Herbs Medley

Instructions

Bread

  1. In a large bowl add the warm water, the yeast and the honey. Stir until the yeast is thoroughly dissolved. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes until it gets foamy. This is called proofing the yeast and "proves" that the yeast is active...which is necessary to make the dough rise.
  2. Add the salt and about 1 cup of flour then mix well. Continue to add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough starts to form a ball.

  3. Pour the dough onto a floured surfaced and knead the dough by hand.  Then add a tablespoon or 2 of flour at a time until it is just a little tacky to touch but doesn't stick to your fingers. You may not need all 4 cups of flour, so be careful not to add too much or your bread may be too dense. (Note: after the rising process, you'll roll out the dough on a floured surface, so the dough will pick up more flour, therefore, it is necessary for the dough to be a little tacky.)

    Garlic breadsticks dough
  4. Check the result of your kneading, by performing a windowpane test. Take a small amount of the dough and work it with your hands, stretching it until it is almost transparent...like a windowpane. If it tears or your can't stretch it that thin, continue kneading for a few more minutes.
    Garlic breadsticks dough risen
  5. When kneading is complete, return the dough to a bowl. Cover with a towel and allow to rise until at it is at least doubled in size. Poke your finger into the dough and if the dough snaps back, continue to rise a little longer. If the hole remains, your dough is ready.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
    Garlic breadsticks dough roll out
  7. Place the dough on a floured surface and gently press down to flatten the dough. Using a rolling pin, mark the dough with a cross shape. Then starting from the center of the dough, roll out the dough towards each quarter of the dough until your form a rectangle that is about a 1/2 inch thick. 

    Garlic breadsticks dough roll out2
  8. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough in 12 vertical strips then make one horizontal cut across the middle of the strips, making 24 individual pieces of dough.

    Garlic breadsticks dough twists
  9. Roll each piece into a log then fold in half twisting each side of the dough around each other.

    Garlic breadsticks dough twists2
  10. Lay out your individual twisted pieces of dough on a baking sheet. 
    Garlic breadsticks baking

Egg Wash

  1. Thoroughly beat the egg and beat in the water until well mixed. Brush the top of the breadsticks with the egg wash. This will help brown the bread as it is baking.

  2. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes or until the tops have a tint of golden brown.

Topping

  1. Melt the butter then add the garlic and herbs. Mix well.

  2. Brush the mixture over the breadsticks.

  3. Continue to bake for for 2-3 minutes.

    Garlic breadsticks

Recipe Notes

Alternative choice for topping:

4 tbsp butter melted, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, pinch salt, 1/4 tsp oregano and 1/4 tsp basil.

 

 

The Jack Of All Herbs Medley – A blend of herbs for soups, salads, sauces and spreads

I love annual harvest festivals.  Farmers and vendors from all over the state gather to sell their goods to people like me who don’t have the magical green thumb required to produce such wonderful produce. They always offer so many specialty items along with the fresh produce, herbs, cheeses and meat products, too. Not to mention that the vendors usually offer samples of their delicious creations. So, while you explore the festival, you can usually sample enough items to make a lunch out of it.

About 6 or 7 years ago I stopped by the local harvest festival and found a vendor selling herbs. I was looking for saffron for a bread I will share with you at a later date. They didn’t have the saffron, but they did have a variety of other herbs on display in cute gift jars. They also had a separate display of their own blend of herbs. They offered pretzels to their visitors to sample the herb blend mixed with cream cheese. Well, I could have stood there all afternoon enjoying that concoction. But, instead, I purchased a large jar for myself and few smaller packets with salad dressing jars to use as holiday gifts then continued my quest for the saffron.

Over the course of the next few months, I found many uses for this blend. It has a bit of an Italian seasoning flair, so it goes great in marinara sauce, added to soups, salad dressings and to butter or cream cheese for delicious spreads. You can add it to some oil and vinegar and drizzle it as a condiment for Italian hoagies…or maybe you call them subs. No matter what you call those delicious sandwiches, this condiment is yummy on them.

So, when I started to run out of the blend from the harvest festival, I became very stingy with the remaining portions and decided to use it sparingly until the next harvest festival, so I could replenish my stock. Well, much to my dismay, none of the vendors at this particular festival sold anything like it. I didn’t keep the bag or the tag from the jar with the company name. I have looked for it everywhere, with no luck. Since I have no idea where to get it now, I had to get inventive and try to re-create the blend.

Well, after many batches of cream cheese and herb spread, I have a version that is similar to what I was trying to re-create. Even though it is still slightly different, this medley adds a little pizzazz to many dishes. It has many uses and is good on many things, hence the name, Jack of all Herbs Medley. The recipe is below along with some of my favorite uses.

Jack Of All Herbs Medley

This medley is a re-creation of a blend I can no longer find to purchase. It's slightly different but is still a nice addition to many dishes.

All of the ingredients used in this recipe are dried; although you could use fresh herbs. Just keep in mind that one teaspoon of dried herbs equal 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped herbs. 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder is the equivalent of 1 medium clove of garlic. 2 teaspoons of onion powder is approximately 1/2 a medium onion. 

Course Herbs
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp chives
  • 4 tsp parsley
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp orange peel
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sage

Instructions

  1. Thoroughly mix all ingredients and store in an air tight container or jar.

Now that you have combined all the ingredients, why not try one of these?

Jack of all Herbs Medley and Cream Cheese Dip

This recipe will work as a dip for your favorite chips or pretzels or as a spread for crackers.

Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Herb Medley
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonaisse
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients until well blended. Refrigerate for at least one hour. For best results, make one day ahead to give the flavors optimal mingling time.

    Cream cheese and herb dip

Jack of all Herbs Medley Bread Dipping Oil

This herb blend is perfect for adding to olive oil in place of butter for your dinner rolls.

Course Appetizer, Bread, Herbs
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch Herb Medley
  • pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients until well blended.

    Herb medley bread dipping oil

Jack of all Herbs Medley Butter

Excellent substitution for garlic butter for use on Texas Toast or Italian Bread.

Course Appetizer, Bread, Herbs
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salted butter softened
  • 1 tsp Herb Medley

Instructions

  1. Mix the ingredients until well blended. Serve in place of butter for dinner rolls or in place of garlic butter for garlic bread.
    Herb medley butter

Jack of all Herbs Medley Salad Dressing

A great substitution for Italian dressing. Use as a salad dressing or veggie dip.

Course Dressing
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp herb mix

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a jar, seel tightly and shake until well blended. Shake well before each use. 

    Herb medley salad dressing

Hoagies or submarines? What do you call them? Let me know in the comments below along with where you are from.