Tag Archives: Italian

No Knead Parmesan Herb Focaccia

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Red Star Yeast.  As always, all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

I would like to announce that I have a new favorite bread.

For someone who loves to bake bread, I honestly don’t usually eat a lot of it. I suppose cinnamon rolls and pizza would be the exception to that rule, but I digress. I always give it a try and enjoy a slice of warm bread right from the oven.  But, after that, I’m usually done. Fortunately, my hubby loves bread and happily devours whatever I bake.  So, it works out well.

Now that I’ve discovered this no knead focaccia bread from Red Star Yeast, however, he’s going to have to fight me for the bread.  The Parmesan cheese and herbs give the bread a delicate Italian flavor, but they aren’t overpowering.  I opted to add sliced red onion instead of minced onion because I thought it would be prettier.  My favorite part, though, is that it’s soft and light.  It’s the kind of bread that you just can’t stop eating. It’s easy to pull apart and dip in olive oil, pesto, pasta sauce, salad dressing… You get the point!

It’s fabulous on its own, right out of the oven (and, I bet you won’t be able to wait for it to cool), but it’s also great the next day.  One afternoon last week, we enjoyed it fresh from the oven with some summer salads. The next day, I carefully cut large squares and sliced them in half to create “rolls” for some leftover burgers, topping them with pesto and tomatoes.  And, of course, the few bits that were still left after that made perfect breadsticks for our Friday pizza night. I just toasted them up and served them with some garlic scape pesto. I may never make my regular breadsticks again.

Of course, the fact that this recipe is one of the batterway recipes (i.e. no knead!) in the Red Star Yeast collection means that it’s an easy one to whip up in an afternoon.  I made this bread by hand with just a wooden spoon (who wants to wash beater blades?) in no time at all. If you get it started after lunch (which only requires about 10 minutes of your time), you’ll have fresh focaccia bread for dinner.  Your family will thank you!

I did make a few small changes to the original batterway focaccia bread recipe when I made mine. As I mentioned above, I opted to use sliced onion instead of minced onion. I also swapped in Italian seasoning for the basil and oregano.  And, as I often do, I chose to bake with butter instead of shortening.  I’ve included the original recipe below and made a note of all of my changes, as well.  Happy baking!

No Knead Parmesan Herb Focaccia
Makes one 9 by 13-inch flat bread
(Recipe from Red Star Yeast; Used with Permission)

For the dough:

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    (Jen’s Note – I substituted 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning for the basil and oregano)
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110°-115°F)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons shortening , softened
    (Jen’s Note – I substituted 3 tablespoons of softened butter for the shortening)
  • 1 egg

For the topping:

  • 1/2 pound of shredded natural cheese
    (Jen’s Note – I used freshly grated Parmesan cheese)
  • 1/4 cup of minced onion
    (Jen’s Note – I used sliced red onion)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    (Jen’s Note – Again, I used 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning in the place of the basil and oregano)

Begin by combining the bread flour, sugar, salt, and herbs in a bowl, and set aside.  Pour the warm water into a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle with the yeast.  Let the mixture rest for 3-5 minutes.  Add the shortening (or butter) and egg along with half of the flour mixture.  Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth (1 – 2 minutes).  Add the remaining flour mixture and beat again until the mixture is smooth (an additional 1 – 2 minutes).

Scrape the batter down from the sides of the bowl.  Cover the bowl and let the batter rise until it has doubled, approximately 60 – 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, grease a 9 by 13-inch baking pan and prepare the topping by stirring together all of the ingredients. Set aside.

Once the batter has risen, transfer it to the greased pan and gently fold it into a loose rectangle, being careful not to deflate the dough.  The batter will be somewhat sticky and thick, but try to spread it evenly in the pan.  Tap the pan on a table or counter to settle the batter.

Add the topping, making dents on the topping with buttered fingers, pressing almost to the bottom of the pan.

Let the dough rise a second time until no more than doubled, approximately 30 – 40 minutes.  While the dough rises, preheat the oven to 375°F.  Bake the focaccia bread for 20 minutes, until the top and sides are golden brown.  Remove the bread from the pan adn serve warm.

Jen’s Note – Hold on to your leftover focaccia bread! Just toast it in the oven for a few minutes until it crisps up just a bit on the edges. It’s fabulous dipped in sauce or pesto!

My Kitchen Addiction Disclosure – This post was sponsored by Red Star Yeast.
Though I have been compensated to write this post, all opinions
expressed are my own. – See more at:
My Kitchen Addiction Disclosure – This post was sponsored by Red Star Yeast.  Though I have been compensated to write this post, all opinions expressed are my own.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup

I feel kind of silly writing about soup when the temperatures are going to be in the 80s for a few days this week. Just a few days ago, however, it felt like winter. And, if the last few months are any indication of the weather patterns we will have this spring, I’m guessing that there are still plenty of chilly days to come. So, hang on to this recipe for a chilly day and bear with me!

I’ve been relying on my slow cooker quite a bit lately. I don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen preparing dinner each afternoon, but I can usually get a solid 30 minutes of meal prep done during Madison’s morning nap. It’s just enough time for me to get dinner into the slow cooker. Plus, it feels good to have things taken care of early in the day (especially on those days when she chooses not to take an afternoon nap!).

This vegetable soup has become a new favorite at my house.  I think we’ve had it just about once a week since December. I’ve made a few different versions and perfected my recipe over time.  Sure, it’s fast and easy, but it also tastes great. I usually serve it with a loaf of freshly baked bread or a side salad. This recipe makes a pretty big batch (8 – 10 servings), which yields plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week! Continue Reading

Sausage Ragù

Perhaps this blog post should be titled “The Best Sauce Ever”…  However, that’s a fairly subjective claim to make.  If you ask my husband, though, he’ll tell you this is not only the best sauce ever, but that it is the best thing I have ever made.

So, while this rich meat sauce is certainly not the most photogenic food in the world (especially since I was taking photos well after the sun had gone down), I just had to share the recipe with you! I’ve been meaning to share this one for a while, actually. I first discovered this sauce last January.  My hubby bought me Anne Burrell’s book Cook Like a Rockstar for Christmas, and her sausage ragù was one of the first things I made.  We were having my family over for a birthday dinner, and I planned to make lasagna. I wanted a rich, meaty sauce to take the lasagna up a notch, and the recipe was just what I was looking for.

I’ve made the sauce a few times since then (not as many as I’d like, though, since I couldn’t eat tomatoes during most of my pregnancy), and it continues to be a favorite at my house. I’ve changed the recipe a bit to make a slightly bigger batch since the sauce is always such a big hit.  It takes quite a while (4+ hours!), so it’s one of those recipes where it pays to make a big batch.

I’m pretty sure you won’t need much help figuring out how to use the sauce.  It’s perfect on its own, so all you really need to do is add some cooked pasta.  Of course, I frequently use it in lasagna.  The sauce is so rich that you don’t really need much else… Just layer the noodles with ricotta cheese, a blend of mozzarella and provolone, and sauce. I’ve also made pizza with leftover sauce, too. It was some of the best pizza I’ve ever had.  Since the recipe makes a big batch, you’ll likely have plenty of leftovers.  I highly recommend freezing individual portions of the sauce (I usually freeze it in 2 cup containers) so that you have it on hand.  I’m not big on leftovers, but this is one of the few things that I get excited to pull out of the freezer and heat up for dinner!

Sausage Ragù
Makes about 10 – 12 cups
(Adapted from Cook Like a Rockstar)

  • 4 ribs celery, cut into large chunks
  • 2 large onions, cut in a large dice
  • 1 large bulb fennel, cored and cut into a large dice
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 18 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 1 bottle (750 mL) bottle of red wine
    (Pick one that you like to drink… I used a merlot)
  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Water
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Begin by pulsing the vegetables (celery, onion, fennel, and garlic) in the food processor until finely chopped. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to work in batches.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven or heavy pot. Add the vegetable mixture, and cook until the vegetables are tender and start to brown. Stir every few minutes to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot and let new brown bits develop again. Continue to cook until the mixture is well browned, up to 30 minutes.

Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir to mix into the vegetables.  Cook for just a minute or two.  Then, add the bottle of wine and scrape up any remaining bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the wine has reduced by about half, about 8 – 10 minutes.

Add the sausage to the pot and use a wooden spoon to break it cooks. Continue to cook until the sausage is completely browned, scraping the pot occasionally.  The sausage will take about 10 minutes to cook.

Once the sausage is cooked, add the herbs to the pot and then add enough water to cover the sausage mixture by about 1/2 inch. Season with salt and pepper.  Stir the sauce, scraping the bottom of the pot once again.  Then, bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for a minute, then reduce to a simmer.

Simmer the sauce for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Once the sauce has cooked and thickened up, taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly.

Please Note – The links to Cook Like a Rockstar provided in this post are Amazon affiliate links.  If you purchase this cookbook (or another item) after  clicking on my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale price, which helps to keep My Kitchen Addiction up and running. Thanks!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Mushroom Calzones

I love when I find dinner inspiration in unexpected places. This recipe for roasted butternut squash and mushroom calzones, for example, came from paging through a catalog. Others have come from a commercials on TV, overheard conversations at the grocery store, and forgotten items from the back of the freezer. No matter where the idea comes from, I’m always happy when dinner inspiration strikes.

As I mentioned, these calzones were inspired by a catalog – the Williams-Sonoma catalog.  I had just told my hubby not to throw away the catalog.  No, I didn’t really need anything from Williams-Sonoma, but I wanted to page through it just to see what they had in the fall catalog.  I especially love fall catalogs. As I paged through, I admired some lovely baked goods, commented on the price of the gummy candies they were selling for Thanksgiving, and then I saw it. There was a slow cooker recipe for a gorgeous looking lasagna made with their jarred pumpkin parmesan pasta sauce. Sure, the sauce sounds tasty, and I do like lasagna, but what caught my eye was a photo of some beautiful mushrooms that were being added to the dish. Mushrooms are often a forgotten ingredient in my kitchen, so I was happy for a reminder to add them to something.  After seeing the recipe, I couldn’t get the pumpkin and mushroom pairing out of my head.

A few days later, I had some leftover pizza dough in the fridge that I needed to put to good use. Then I remembered the mushrooms.  Of course, I didn’t have jarred pumpkin sauce on hand.  But, I had some butternut squash from the garden sitting on my counter, so I decided to make butternut squash and mushroom calzones. I roasted the veggies with some fresh sage and added a bit of cheese for a simple and tasty dinner.  Both the hubby and I agreed that the recipe was a winner. It’s perfect for a chilly fall evening!

If you’re participating in October Unprocessed, you’ll be happy to know that this recipe fits the bill pretty well.  If you make your own pizza dough with 100% whole grain flours (which is pretty simple to do) and use good quality cheeses (not the processed cheese-like stuff you can sometimes find at the store), you’re good to go! Continue Reading

Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup

In the last week or two, I’ve been taking advantage of my slow cooker quite a bit. The cooler weather has been a welcome change.  Suddenly soups and other slow cooked meals are sounding much more appealing to me. It also helps that a little bit of effort in the morning (when I actually have some energy) means I don’t have too much to do to get dinner on the table later in the day.  I’ll take whatever help I can get these days!

Even though we’ve been enjoying cooler weather, we are also still enjoying lots of great fresh vegetables from our CSA and garden. So, I have been incorporating them into just about everything I’ve been making.  This tortellini soup is no exception. Loaded with bell peppers, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and kale, there’s no need to bother with a side salad.  The salad is in the soup! Once you add the sausage and tortellini, it’s pretty much a complete meal.  You won’t get an argument from me about a one dish dinner… Especially when it tastes this great! Continue Reading