Snow Day Donuts

I’m not one for keeping up with traditions.  I try, I really do.  I love traditions, especially family ones.  It just seems to me it was much easier to keep family traditions when it fell on the shoulders of my parents.  Our family has evolved over the years, as I am sure it is with most.  A few things have stuck…Christmas Eve Open House,  Mom’s Blueberry Cobbler, and Snow Day Donuts.

What?  You don’t know what Snow Day Donuts are?  Well, they are donuts made on snow days.  It is the oldest and probably dearest tradition (at least to my one daughter) that we have held on to.  Thirty-three years ago, my then 3-yr old daughter and I were snowed in for several days.  I, being very unprepared for such an event, had nothing in the house to make a proper meal.  On the other hand, I had plenty of flour, sugar, butter, eggs, etc.  Trying to figure out how to feed us for the duration, I came upon a simple recipe to make donuts.  Which is what I did – and we ate them for three days as if it were the most normal thing in the world to do! (There were a few perks to single-motherhood)

After that winter, my daughter expected donuts on snow days.  I never made them any other time, so it sort of fell into a tradition.  My girls are grown now, but I still make donuts on at least one snow day each winter.  A few years ago, I offered to extend the tradition to my next door neighbors, and well, a funny feuding banter now goes along with the annual tradition.  It seems as if my adult daughter (the original donut eater) didn’t like sharing her mother, or her donuts with the family next door!  With a little Facebook exposure, the faux feud is now public.

Tomorrow is going to be a snow day and I have already prepared the dough.  Taunts and threats have been made.  Now the race is on to see who gets to my door to pick up their donuts first.  I predict there will be enough for them, and a few of my new neighbors as well.

If you’d like the recipe, I found it online here.

PS.
I made the donuts today and I have a few observations…

  • the recipe is very easy, and very good
  • stick to the 8 hours or overnight…the donuts I made in the morning were much better than the ones I made later in the day
  • be sure to give the donuts a good rise time of at least an hour – do not put them in an overly warm area
  • the better you control the oil temperature, the better your donuts will turn out
  • the donuts are best eaten fresh

Diner favs, kitchen staples, and leftovers!

Do you have a favorite diner food?  Meatloaf?  Chicken fried steak? Omelettes?  Well, my all-time favorite diner food is Chicken Croquettes!  It’s what I usually order whenever I eat at a diner.  It’s not always good, though.  Some diners are certainly better than others with this menu item.  I hate when they are dry and tasteless.  Funny thing is, I have never attempted to make these at home.  I think I heard somewhere that they were difficult to make and so I just never bothered.

I learned a long time ago that there are certain things that need to be kept in my pantry.  Things that help make a meal out of basics – perfect for those nights when I don’t have time to shop or frankly, don’t feel like it.  My list of staples include flour, sugar, cream of chicken soup, bread crumbs, chocolate chips, cinnamon and dried minced onions.  Don’t misunderstand, I don’t use all of these together, but I often fall back on them.

What gets leftover in your fridge the most?  For me, it seems to be chicken.  I always make too much and because it’s just my daughter and I living together, it gets a little boring eating the same leftovers for days on end.  We can never finish it up before it expires.  I hate throwing away food, and yet I never know what to do with it.

If you’re still following along with this fractured story, I’ll pull it all together right here.  I came across a recipe for Chicken Croquettes that claimed to be simple.  Of course, I happened upon this today, after a long morning of baking and cleaning.  I’m exhausted so the “simple” claim was appealing.  The thought of shopping for ingredients was not.  Luckily, my pantry staples came in handy, and I even had leftover chicken and celery in the fridge.  I don’t know what excited me more…the thought of eating Chicken Croquettes or the fact that I wasn’t going to be throwing away all of that chicken!

I gathered the ingredients and began the preparation.  The chicken went into my Ninja Chopper (love that thing!)  I had enough chicken to double the recipe, so I did. (see what I mean about making too much?)  My plan was to make these and then freeze the extras for another time.  Basically, everything went into a bowl and was mixed with my hands.  I formed 12 patties and put them in the fridge to firm up.  When it was time for dinner, I coated them with bread crumbs and browned them in a pan.  I made the sauce as per the recipe and served them with applesauce and mashed potatoes (just like at the diner).  Yes, it was simple – and delicious.  Here’s the recipe:

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Ingredients

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

 

 

1 1/2 cups finely chopped, cooked chicken meat

 

1/4 cup Italian-style dry bread crumbs

 

2 tablespoons minced celery

 

1 tablespoon minced onion

1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 tablespoon shortening

1/2 cup milk

1/8 tablespoon poultry seasoning

1/2 cup Italian-style dry bread crumbs, for rolling

Directions

  • Combine 1/3 cup of the soup, chicken, bread crumbs, celery, onion and 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning. Mix well and shape into 6 croquettes (I make patties). Chill in refrigerator for about 1 hour.
  • Remove croquettes from refrigerator and roll in additional bread crumbs. In a large skillet, melt 1 to 2 tablespoons shortening. Brown the croquettes in the shortening. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the remaining soup, milk and 1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning. Heat over low, stirring occasionally. Serve sauce over croquettes.

{This recipe can be found at Allrecipes)

Tomorrow Night’s Dinner is As Good As Done!

I’m a lazy cook.  In fact I don’t cook a lot.  When I do, I make more than we need and we eat leftovers.  Needless to say, I LOVE MY CROCKPOT!!!  I, in fact own 3 crockpots of varying sizes, and a 22 quart counter top oven that is also a slow cooker.  I am the “Tim the Tool-man Taylor” of kitchen gadgets.  Actually, the crockpot collection stems from a lot of entertaining.

Today, I just couldn’t get my act together.  I had so much to do, but once I arrived at church and found the company of my friends, I was in no rush to get anything done.  I was planning on making red gravy and taco soup in my slow cookers, but it turned out that the recipes called for 8 hrs of cooking time.  I managed to buy the ingredients and I plan to make the soup tomorrow and the gravy on Tuesday.

The soup, I decided, could be prepared tonight and put in the fridge until morning.  The most difficult part (and it wasn’t difficult) was cutting up the onion and browning the ground beef.  The rest was done with a can opener.  Everything into the crock – and voila! dinner is done…well, I will have to put it into the cooker in the morning.

Here’s the recipe if you’re thinking of being lazy one day this week:

TACO SOUP

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (16 oz) can chili beans, with liquid
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, with liquid
  • 1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn, with liquid
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chile peppers
  • 1 (1.25 oz) pkg taco seasoning mix

In a medium skillet, cook the ground beef until browned over medium heat.  Drain and set aside.

Place the ground beef and the remaining ingredients into the  slow cooker.  Mix to blend and cook on LOW for 8 hours.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, taco chips, and/or sour cream.

NOTE:  This recipe is not my own.  I can be found at here at allrecipes.

 

So Sorry for the Lapse…

Remember me?  I barely remember me!  I started this blog with the intention of posting on a regular basis…but we all know the where the Road of Good Intentions leads.  Anyway, I’m not going to make a lot of excuses.  I am going to attempt to be more diligent in my postings.

To catch you up…I have been doing a lot of home projects and writing tutorials for Hometalk.  You can visit my project page here.  I hope to share some of them with you on this blog.  Please feel free to follow me on that site.  I have recently been asked to provide tutorials via Skype – it’s a new program they are launching, in which customers can click on a link to purchase time with me (and other members of the Hometalk team) for one-on-one help with a project they are working on.

I am not baking and decorating cakes as much since returning to work full time last August.  That’s not to say I’ve stopped.  I have just slowed down.  I have been trying some new and old recipes and I will certainly be sharing those with you here at Nonnasense.

My grands are growing up quickly and I am enjoying time with them (although not nearly enough!).  They love baking with me and especially love when I open my craft room to them for special projects.  Right now my craft room is full of everything but crafts – a project I am hoping to tackle this weekend!

Well, enough about me.  I just wanted you to know that I am still around and will be dropping in a little more often now that I am a bit more settled.  I hope you will find something here that makes your life just a little bit better – even if only for a moment.

Refrigerator Clean-Out Stromboli

You can make Stromboli from just about any combination of foods providing there is cheese involved.  Now, I’m only half Italian and I’m not sure if I could be handed a pair of cement shoes for saying that or not.  This is just my observation based on what people have been willing to eat (and dare I say, enjoy) under the name “Stromboli” in my house.  Growing up, it was referred to as Pepperoni Bread because traditionally, in my family, pepperoni (and lots of it) was the meat of choice.  I not sure what kind of cheese my aunts used – I just knew it was good.  Also, we only got it on New Year’s Eve – making it that much tastier.

By the time I had a family of my own, we were calling it Stromboli and everyone had their own way of making it.  I used to be so intimidated because of the way people used to talk about their “process” of creating the loaf – like it was rocket science or something.  I didn’t attempt it for years.  I feel silly now, knowing that it is so easy and versatile…

I don’t have a recipe, and I am always trying new combinations for the filling.  This tutorial was made using what I had available in the refrigerator.  It’s a great way to use up leftovers and also to put a quick meal on the table during the week – trust me, no one will complain!

Supplies & Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of pizza dough (sold in bags (fresh or frozen) at Walmart, ShopRite, Aldi’s, etc.) I usually buy half a dozen bags when it is on sale and throw them in the freezer.  I take a bag out the night before I want to make the loaf and let it sit in the fridge until I’m ready.  Don’t get hung up on rising and temperature.
  • All-purpose flour – for dusting the work surface
  • Aluminum foil – to set the loaf on
  • Vegetable oil – for coating the loaf
  • Cooking spray – for coating the foil
  • Garlic powder – for flavor, of course!
  • Other spices – again, your choice
  • Large cookie sheet – preferably with sides
  • Wooden rolling pin
  • A nice, clean, flat surface to roll out your dough.
  • Sharp, serrated knife
  • Grated cheese
  • Cheese – I always use a combination of at least 2 cheeses, but it’s not a requirement. I think it adds some depth to the flavor, but that’s just my “process”.  I can’t tell you how much cheese you’ll need – enough for two layers to cover the dough when it is spread out.  If you are buying it, I’d purchase at least ½ lb.  You will see in the tutorial that I ran short on both types of cheeses but in the end, no one was the wiser.  Cheese is NECESSARY to bind the loaf together.
  • Meat – Pepperoni, salami, lunchmeat, quick steaks, roast beef, chicken, sausage, hamburger, and on and on… Think of your Stromboli like a big sub and throw in any combination that makes you happy.  Once again, I can’t tell you how much and don’t panic if you run low…improvise!  Meat is NOT a requirement.
  • Other Fillings – Veggies like onions, sautéed spinach, broccoli, asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, sauces, eggs – if you can lay it on the dough, then it’s all good.

A note about meats and other fillings…some things should be precooked before adding to the loaf.  Any meat that is raw falls into this category (quick steak, sausage, hamburger, etc.)  Any veggies that you want caramelized or sautéed should also be done prior to layering onto the dough.  Here is the important thing – after preparing ingredients like these, you must drain them thoroughly.  Too much grease or moisture in your Stromboli ingredients will prevent the dough from baking properly and make it very heavy (and kinda gross).

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Now that may seem like an extensive list, but trust me…you have most of it at your disposal.  Okay, here we go:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cover the cookie sheet with foil and spray with the cooking spray. If your sheet does not have sides, just turn up the sides of the foil so that any oil that seeps out of the loaf won’t spill all over your oven.20170416_142030
  3. Dust your rolling area with a liberal amount of all-purpose flour. Dust your rolling pin as well.20170416_141204
  1. Remove the dough from the bag and stretch it out a bit in your hands, forming a rectangle of sorts…don’t overthink this – you just want to get your shape started.

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  1. Begin rolling the dough into a rectangle (again, not perfect). The dough will stretch back and fight you for a bit, but keep at it.  You don’t want to leave the dough too thick or your loaf will be very bready (is that a word?).  You also don’t want it too thin or it will appear limp.  Your rectangle should be roughly 15”-18” side-to-side and 10”-12” front-to-back.  IT WILL BE VERY ROUND ON THE EDGES, which is why I am even hesitant to call it a rectangle.

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  1. Sprinkle the dough with garlic powder and/or any other spices that you like.

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  1. Grab your cheese and lay it out in a single layer over the dough. Leave about ½” along the side closest to you and the two outside edges.  Leave about an inch on the side furthest from you.  If you run out of one type of cheese, just grab another to finish.  This layer must cover the whole surface of the dough.

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  1. Next, add your meats and/or other fillings. If using any sauces or really wet ingredients, use them sparingly. You can always serve the loaf with sauces on the side for dipping.  Again, don’t fret about running out before the layer is done…just throw something else on there.

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  1. Another cheese layer. If you don’t have enough, don’t give it a second thought.  You’ll see in the photo below that I only had enough provolone to cover half of the dough.20170416_141843
  2. A bit more meat or filling, but just in the center – not all the way to the edges.
  1. Now it is time to roll. Begin with the edge closest to you.  Fold it up and over the fillings.  Continue rolling, do not try to make it tight or loose – just allow it to roll onto itself without picking it up.

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  1. When you get to the last few inches, you will notice that the fillings are starting to move toward the edge (law of physics or something like that). Take the edge of the dough that is flat on the table and stretch it outward a bit so that the fillings don’t overflow.  You want to have at least a ½” of dough that is not covered.

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  1. Wet your finger (with water, not your mouth!) and run it along the remaining strip of dough. This will help seal the loaf.  Make the last roll of the loaf so that the seam is on the bottom.

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  1. On each end, grab the dough and stretch it out a bit and then fold it under. This keeps the loaf from leaking.

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  1. Carefully transfer the loaf to the cookie sheet. You may need to sit it on there diagonally to fit the length.
  2. Now this is a bit messy. Take some vegetable oil and coat the outside of the loaf.  Be generous, but don’t saturate it.  I usually pour some in my hands and give it a good once-over.

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  1. You can sprinkle grated cheese and/or more garlic or spices over the loaf. Don’t put too much or it may take on a burned appearance.
  2. With a sharp serrated knife, cut slits (just through the dough) every ¾” or so. This allows it to bake evenly and also scores the loaf for easier cutting.

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  1. Bake it for approximately 20-25 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Remove the loaf from the foil onto a clean cutting board.20170416_151731
  2. Allow the loaf to sit for about 5-10 minutes before cutting with the serrated knife and serving. Mangia!

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The possibilities are endless…cheesesteak with fried onions, sausage & peppers, cheeseburger, breakfast Stromboli, veggie Stromboli, you get the idea!