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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

{The World's Best} Sloppy Joes

We love sloppy joes around these parts. I know you can buy a seasoning mix to add to ground beef or canned sloppy joe mix, but I'm a make-it-from-scratch kind of girl. And these make-it-from-scratch sloppy joes are so easy and soooooo yummy! I've tried and looked through several sloppy joe recipes, most call for ketchup. I decided that when there is ketchup in the sloppy joes it's just, well, too ketchupy. So I revised a recipe from my mother in law and this recipe is our go-to for a yummy and quick sloppy joe dinner.

I posted a recipe for French Bread Rolls earlier this week, and they make the perfect bun to go along with these sloppy joes. I usually have some of these rolls frozen, so I just pull them out of the freezer and wa-lah....dinner is served.


Sloppy Joes {The World’s Best}
Recipe adapted from Maureen G.

Printable Version - text only

Makes 4-6 Sloppy Joes

1 pound ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced or ¼ cup dried onion
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground
1 - 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
⅔ cup water
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
4-6 Rolls for serving on

In a deep 12 inch non-stick skillet brown ground beef until cooked thoroughly, cook diced onion along with the beef (if using dried onions add with other ingredients after the beef is cooked). When beef is done drain excess fat if desired. Return beef to pan and sprinkle with flour. Start with one tablespoon and stir until mixed into beef. Add remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. If it doesn’t seem as thick as you’d like add an extra ½ tablespoon of flour (sprinkle it in and mix well) and continue to simmer.

Serve on rolls. Enjoy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

French Bread Rolls

I love love love love these rolls. This recipe comes from one of my most favorite food blogs - Mel's Kitchen Cafe. She has two tutorials that I'll place links to on working with yeast and shaping rolls if you need some pointers.

These rolls are so soft and yummy, and I use them for pretty much anything and everything. They make a great dinner roll, excellent burger/hot dog bun, great for subs, fabulous for a deli sandwich, the possibilities are endless. Anyway you want to eat them, they'll be good. That is a promise!

You can make them into 12 large rolls, 8 6-inch sub rolls, or into 8-12 hot dog/bratwurst size buns. They also freeze fabulously. When I make them I usually double the recipe and make some rolls and subs and freeze what I'm not going to use in the next day or two. Then when I'm ready to use them I pull them out of the freezer and let them thaw - the great part about this is they still taste oven fresh. I pretty much have banned myself from ever buying those nasty dry rolls/buns from the grocery store. These rolls just rock!

Oh and these rolls are great with 100% all-purpose flour or 1/2 whole white wheat (that is how I always make them). I have yet to try 100% whole wheat, but am sure they'd turn out fabulous.

Below the recipe I've posted several pictures of things we make using these rolls. I'll be posting recipes for cheesesteak subs and the world's best sloppy joe recipe shortly.

French Bread Rolls/Buns

Yield: see notes below

1 ½ cups warm water
¾ tablespoon instant yeast (or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour & 2 whole white wheat flour, give or take a few tablespoons


In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, sugar, oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour (if you are using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, let the yeast proof in the warm water and sugar for about 3-5 minutes until it is foamy and bubbly before adding the oil, salt and flour). Begin mixing and continue to add the rest of the flour gradually until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Judge the dough not by the amount of flour called for in the recipe but in how the dough feels. The dough should be soft and smooth but still slightly tacky to the touch.

Knead the dough in mixer or by hand until it is very smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes in mixer or 8-10 minutes by hand. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled (it usually takes about an hour).

Lightly punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly greased counter top. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (or see notes below for making sub rolls/hot dog size buns) and form the dough into round balls. Place the rolls on a lightly greased or silicone-lined baking sheet about an inch or two apart. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap taking care not to pin the plastic wrap under the baking sheet or else the rolls will flatten while rising. Let the plastic wrap gently hang over the sides of the pan to fully cover the rolls but not press them down. Let the rolls rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.

For hamburger buns I like to shape one batch into 12 round dough balls and then give them a squish flat and let them rise from there.  That way they rise fat and wide, not just tall.  Makes it the perfect size for a patty.

Makes 12 dozen rolls (good for a dinner size roll, hamburger bun, deli-style roll, etc.), 6 6-inch sub sandwich rolls, or 8-10 hot dog/bratwurst size buns. These rolls freeze great - pull them out of the freezer several hours before serving or defrost in the microwave on about 70% power for 2-3 minutes..

Recipe Source:

The BEST hamburger bun
The BEST sub-roll bun (especially for these babies)
The BEST deli-style sandwich roll

The BEST bun for a sloppy joe!

Monday, June 20, 2011


We love this stuff.  The hubby requests it for his birthday meal or anytime we have people over for dinner.  He's a bread, meat, and cheese kind of guy, and for him this encompasses all three.  He also loves the leftovers with a glass of chocolate milk for breakfast the next morning.  Not really a breakfast food, but really it's no different than cold pizza for breakfast and who doesn't love that? When my mom would make this, leftovers (which were rare) were definitely eaten for breakfast.  With 6 kids in the house it was survival of the fittest--if you didn't eat it for breakfast, there wouldn't be a trace of it if you wanted it for lunch.


Your favorite pizza/spaghetti sauce (We love Hunt's--Four Cheese or Garlic & Herb)
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Your favorite fillings--ham, pepperoni, sausage, pineapple, olives, peppers...whatever floats your boat.  
Olive Oil
Garlic Salt
Shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Roll out dough into a rectangle almost as long as and almost 2x wider than the width of the cookie sheet(precise measurements, I know).  Transfer dough onto cookie sheet and center it with sides draped over.  Put sauce (not too much or it can get soggy), cheese, and toppings inside.  Fold each edge over to meet in the middle and pinch seam and edges to seal shut.  With kitchen scissors, cut a few small vent holes in the top.  Brush on olive oil to cover surface.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and top with asiago or parmesan cheese.  Bake for 35 minutes at 350.  Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.  

Recipe Source: Diana K.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Coconut-Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats

Recently I've had an OBSESSION with coconut and chocolate. They are two flavors that are meant to be together! Seriously....I have some more creations of coconut and chocolate in the works. I've been dreaming up these treats for a while. My sister, Anna, came to stay and she helped me create them! We think they are pretty much the best kind of rice crispy treat known to man. We ate the whole pan in less than 2 days (oops!).

This recipe has extra marshmallows than your average rice crispy treat, so they are soft and chewy and oh-so-irresistible.

So please, try them, and tell us what you think!

Coconut-Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats
By: Anna K. & Lu Lu

Printable Version
Printable Version - with picture

6 cups crisp rice cereal
1/4 cup butter
16 ounces marshmallows
1 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips, divided
1/8 cup chocolate chips, melted
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/8 cup coconut flakes

In a saucepan over medium low heat, melt butter. Add marshmallows and stir constantly until melted. Remove from heat, add coconut extract, and stir. Pour marshmallow mixture over cereal in a large mixing bowl. Mix until combined. Sprinkle half of cereal mixture in greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips, sprinkle the rest of cereal mixture over top, wait for 2 minutes. Press mixture down firmly with greased hands, or greased gloves. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips, and garnish with coconut flakes. Press chocolate chips on to cereal mixture. Melt 1/8 cup of chocolate chips, with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, and drizzle over top. Let cool until firm, in a cool place for 1-2 hours. ENJOY!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fortune Cookies {How to: Step-by-Step}

When I was a kid I thought fortune cookies were so cool...they had a little message inside waiting to be read. Until my mom made these homemade fortune cookies I never knew that they could taste good. The fortune cookies you commonly find at Asian restaurants taste like cardboard compared to these babies! Normally, I'd just eat one, but since these are so good I can have all the fortune in the world!

You'd also be surprised by how easy and fast these are to make! Don't be scared - you'll impress your family and yourself! (See below the recipe for step-by-step pictures on how to make these cookies - or print the step-by-step PDF)

Fortune Cookies

Yield: 10-12 cookies

1-2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar


Write fortunes (or love notes) on strips of paper (no longer than 4 inches, and 1/2 inch tall or less). Fold the strips of paper up. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease 2 cookies sheets or use a silicone baking mat (this is what I use).

In a small mixing bowl whisk vanilla and one egg white together until foamy but not stiff. Add flour, sugar, and salt to mixture and mix until smooth. It should fairly runny. If it's not then add another 1/2 to 1 whisked egg white (see picture below of the consistency of the mixture).

Spoon a teaspoon full of batter onto the greased or silicone lined baking sheet and using a spoon bottom, smooth the batter out into a 3 inch circle. Only do 2-3 to start and then see how fast you can do them. They cool fast and it's hard to work with unless they are still nice and hot. Make sure you place them at least 4 inches apart from each other so they won't touch each other while baking.

Bake for 5 minutes or until the cookie has tuned a nice golden brown about 1/2 inch wide around the outer edge of the cookie. The center of the cookie will remain a pale color. While one sheet is baking you can prepare the next sheet with more batter.

Remove the pan from the oven and quickly turn one cookie over with a stiff, wide spatula (place on a cutting board if you are using a greased cookie sheet, if you use the silicone liner you can just turn it over on the pan). Quickly place the folded fortune/love note in the center of the cookie, fold the circle-shaped cookie in half - and place the fold of the cookie on the edge of a bowl and pull the pointed edges down, inside of the bowl and one on the outside of the bowl. Put the folded cookie into a muffin tin to help it hold it's shape until cooled. Repeat this process with the other baked cookies before they cool. If you can handle doing 2-3 before the cool you could try baking 4-5 on the next sheet. They don't bend very easily if they cool off too much, so just be warned.

Once the cookies are cooled and set out for 15-30 minutes they will be crunchy and ready for serving.

Recipe Source:

slightly adapted from

Write fortunes/love notes on strips of paper
(no longer than 4 inches, and 1/2 inch tall or less)

Fold the papers up so they are ready for putting in the cookies
(this is important cause you won't have time to fold them before you fold the cookie)
Whisk one egg white and vanilla until foamy

Add flour, sugar, and salt to mixture

Mix until smooth
If it's too thick add another 1/2 - 1 egg white (that has been whisked to foam)
It should be runny but fairly thick

Place teaspoon fulls of batter onto generously greased or silicone lined baking sheet
Smooth the batter with the bottom of a spoon into a 3 inch circle
placing each cookie at least 4 inches from the others
Start with only making 2-3 to see if you can do them fast enough

Bake for about 5 minutes
or until the cookies are golden brown
about 1/2 inch wide around the outer edge of the cookie

With a stiff, wide spatula turn the cookie over

Here the bottom side of the cookie is shown

Place one folded fortune/love note in the center of the cookie

Fold the cookie in half

Place the fold of the cookie on the edge of a bowl and pull the pointed edges down,
one on the inside of the bowl and one on the outside of the bowl.

Place the folded cookie in a muffin tin to hold it's shape while it cools.
Once cool it will be hard and crunchy.

Repeat the process with the other cookies, making sure to move fast,
as they cool they are hard to shape. If you could handle doing 2-3,
try doing 4-5 (but don't do more than that at once)

Here they are! All cute and yummy!
They will knock your socks off as to how good they are,
the ones at restaurants taste like cardboard compared to these babies.
Some recipes call for doing this in a greased non-stick skillet,
but they don't turn out as pretty as you can see from the following 2 pictures.
But they still do taste just as good.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shredded Spinach & Ham Risotto

This was my first time making risotto. I bought some risotto (arborio) rice a while ago and had it sitting in the cupboard until I found the right recipe to try it with. When I stumbled upon this recipe I knew it was the one to try. In my opinion, the risotto rice didn't taste much different than regular white rice, but risotto rice or not, I thought this dish was tasty!

Shredded Spinach & Ham Risotto
Printable Version
3 cups fresh young spinach leaves
4 ounces cooked ham
4 1/2 - 5 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 3/8 cups risotto (arborio) rice
1/4 cup light cream (I used half and half with good results)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
salt & pepper

Slice ham into thin strips and spinach into small shreds. Bring the stock to boil. In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter until the butter has melted. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, translucent, and starting to turn golden.

Reduce the heat, add the rice, and mix to coat in oil and butter. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes, or until the grains are translucent.

Using a ladle, gradually add the chicken stock. Stir constantly and add more liquid as the rice absorbs each addition. Increase the heat to medium so the liquid bubbles. Cook for 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is creamy. Add the spinach and ham with the last ladleful of stock.

Remove risotto from heat and add the remaining butter and the cream. Mix well. Stir in Parmesan until it melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Delicious Suppers Cookbook

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Asian Chicken Salad {with Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing}

My Aunt and I were talking on the phone one day about food and she told me about this salad she makes. It sounded divine, so I decided to add it to the menu! It was a hit - and will definitely be returning to our table again and again. This salad has all the perfect flavors, crunchies and the most yummalicious dressing!

The recipe calls for Kraft's Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing, which I had in the fridge but realized was expired, so I looked at the ingredient list and decided I could easily whip something similar up. I think I prefer the homemade dressing - especially since I had all the stuff on hand. Also, I am thinking this dressing would be so yummy to fry your stir-fry in!

Thanks Lisa for the awesome recipe!

Just a side note: I am kind of a lettuce snob, I really only like dark leafy greens. If you really want a crunch lettuce use romaine or ice berg. In the picture I used a combination of green leaf lettuce and spinach.

Asian Chicken Salad with Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing


1 ½ pounds chicken breasts or tenderloins, thawed
3-4 tablespoons Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing (Kraft version or homemade version below)
A few splashes of rice vinegar
A few splashes of soy sauce
Your choice of greens for the salad (Romaine, Green Leaf, Ice Berg etc.)

Salad Toppings:
Slivered almonds
Mandarin oranges, drained
Green onions, sliced
Waterchestnuts, sliced
Sesame seeds, toasted (dry roast them in a pan on medium heat, stirring frequently or buy toasted)
Rice noodles or chow mien noodles
Shredded carrots (optional - adds more veggies and color to the salad)
Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing (Kraft version or homemade version below)


Heat skillet over medium heat, add chicken and drizzle with dressing and add a few splashes of rice vinegar and soy sauce. Turn chicken after 3-4 minutes and cook the other side. After the second side has cooked a few minutes remove chicken from pan and place on cutting board. The chicken will not be thoroughly cooked yet. Slice chicken into strips (see picture below) and return to pan and cook chicken until it’s cooked thoroughly and slightly browned (the sugars in the dressing kind of caramelize the chicken as it cooks).

Serve the chicken hot or chilled over the salad greens and top with salad toppings.

*Can be made gluten-free if you make the homemade dressing and don’t use the rice or chow mien noodles, also make sure soy sauce is gluten free.

Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil + olive oil to make ½ cup
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted (dry roast them in a pan on medium heat, stirring frequently or buy toasted)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ginger
6 tablespoons maple syrup

In blender combine the following: vinegar, soy sauce, garlic powder, ginger - blend until combined. While blender is running, through the lid opening, pour the oils in a steady slow stream (this will help to emulsify the oil and make the dressing smooth and creamy so you don’t have separated oil). Next pour the maple syrup in a slow stream, same way you did the oil. Pour dressing into dressing bottle or container and stir in toasted sesame seeds. Keep refrigerated.

Recipe Source:

salad recipe by our aunt, Lisa K. Dressing a Leesh & Lu Original, by Lu

This is how cooked the chicken will be when you slice it.

Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing

Fresh green leaf and spinach salad

The salad toppings!
In a clockwise order:
Toasted Sesame Seeds
Green Onions
Slivered Almonds
Mandarin Oranges
in the center: Rice Noodles