Tag Archives: bread

Panzanella Salad

I had never heard of a Panzanella Salad until I saw a cooking challenge on television. The amateur chef was Italian and decided to make a Panzanella Salad because ingredients were limited and time was short. After all, it was a challenge.

Salads in general don’t take long to pull together and Panzanella Salad fits that bill. The most time consuming part of making this salad is crisping up the bread cubes. Of course, if you are really short on time you could use prepared toasted bread cubes or even croutons. In a pinch use whatever is quick. I like crisping up my own bread cubes because I like to use different types of bread when making this salad. Ciabatta, sour dough bread or even a french baguette are a few of my favorites. One day I want to try and use cornbread but I am afraid it may come out mushy. I will let you know once I figure it out.

I took a few liberties with my version of Panzanella Salad by adding vegetables not included in the traditional versions (there are many versions of the traditional salad in the universe). The straight forward version does not use peppers or meat. I wanted the salad to be colorful since we often eat with our eyes. My family and I are meat eaters. Plain and simple. We love veggies and can go a few days without eating meat but we always go back to eating fish, fowl, pork and sometimes beef. I offer no apologies to my vegetarian friends. Adding meat is optional.

Like I always say …. make this recipe your own. I did!

Panzanella Salad

Ingredients:

2 – 3 cups cubed ciabatta, sour dough bread or french baguette

3 pearl tomatoes cut into wedges

3 slices prosciutto torn into pieces (optional)

1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half

1 English cucumber

3 oz fresh mozzarella torn into pieces

3 oz fresh feta cubed

½ red pepper seeded and cut into chunks

½ yellow pepper seeded and cut into chunks

½ orange pepper seeded and cut into chunks

½ cup kalamata olives pitted

¼ cup red onion thinly sliced

¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese (garnish)

4 tbsp olive oil

Dressing:

½ cup olive oil

½ cup red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic minced

1tsp salt

1 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried basil

½ tsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp ground black pepper

pinch red pepper flakes

Place ingredients into a small jar and shake to blend. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bread cubes and allow to crisp up but not toast. Shake and toss the bread cubes to make sure they do not burn. Let cool and set aside.

Cut cucumber in half and scoop out the center then cut the cucumber into chunks. Place vegetables in a large bowl. Add prosciutto, feta, mozzarella cheese pieces and bread cubes. Shake dressing then pour over salad and gently toss to combine all the ingredients. Set salad aside for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours so that the flavors blend together. Sprinkle with shaved parmesan cheese for garnish.

 

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Apple Bread Pudding

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I feel like bread pudding is one of those desserts you either love or hate. Okay,  maybe hate is a strong word. Dislike might be a better a description. Growing up, bread pudding was not one of those treats I liked to eat. My mom used to make it and folks raved over how delicious it was but I just could not find that taste bud that would make me say “oh yeah, that bread pudding was delicious”. No offense, Mommy. I know your bread pudding was probably wonderful.

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The bread puddings I have tried over the years (yes, I kept trying to find one that I liked) have all reminded me of wet bread. I know bread pudding is moist but it should not be wet and soppy. It usually reminded me of dunking donuts into coffee. I tried that too and did not like it. Fast forward many years later and my taste buds have changed. I am not totally in love with bread pudding but I must say it has grown on me.

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My first experience with a scrumptious bread pudding was at a local restaurant. I ordered it because I saw a beautiful plate of the dessert at the table next to us. The description on the menu made the bread pudding sound so good I thought I should give it another try. The dessert lived up to the description and looked absolutely wonderful. Now I am willing to eat and make bread pudding whenever the mood hits me.

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My version of bread pudding does not use regular bread like most bread puddings. I stepped it up and use butter croissants which makes the bread pudding both savory and a little sweet. Adding thinly sliced apples and walnuts just makes the bread pudding even more delicious. For those that don’t like apples, you can leave them out to make a more classic bread pudding or substitute peaches, pears or some other fruit you like. Any choice you make will be equally delicious.

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Apple Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

6 – 8 croissants broken into pieces

2 eggs + 2 egg yolks lightly beaten

1 cup milk

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup sugar

¾ cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup light brown sugar

½ stick butter melted

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 granny smith apple sliced thin

In a medium non-stick frying pan add 2 tbsp butter and melt over medium. Add apple slices, water, raisins and light brown sugar. Toss to coat apples with brown sugar then simmer until apples soften. Remove from heat and set aside.

Whisk eggs and egg yolks with sugar until smooth. Whisk in seasonings then add milk, cream and vanilla.

Place croissant pieces in a long buttered baking dish. Pour melted butter over bread then layer with cooked apples. Toss walnuts into the bread mixture. Pour custard mix over croissants. Press bread into the custard and make sure all pieces are covered with the custard (add a little more milk if necessary). Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 2 – 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake bread pudding for 30 minutes until set and golden brown. Let cool.

 

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Hot Italian Sandwich

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A good sandwich always starts with delicious bread. Some of the best bread comes from the bakery at your local grocer. I often find myself searching for different types of rolls for sandwiches when I want to make a tasty but quick family meal.

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The other day I found two different flat rolls that inspired me to try a new sandwich. An Italian roll and a jalapeno roll. The Italian roll was sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and oregano while the jalapeno roll was sprinkled with a little grated Parmesan cheese with slices of jalapeno peppers baked into the top of the bread. Both rolls smelled heavenly at the bakery and were so inviting that I had no choice but to put a couple of each in my basket. The Italian roll inspired me to create a Hot Italian Sandwich which turned out to me a winner in the family. I have made this sandwich a few times since my first try and it continues to be something the family enjoys. The sandwich is packed with soppressata, capicola ham and pepperoni sliced from the deli.

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Sandwiches are my go to meal whenever we are having a later than usual dinner because my son has a sporting event, school event or I have a bunch of errands after work. By the time we get home I don’t feel like preparing a complicated meal but I still want a balanced dinner. I really just want to get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes so that we all still have time to relax before going to bed to prepare for another busy day.

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Hot Italian Sandwich

Ingredients:
2 – 3 flat bread rolls (jalapeno, Parmesan or regular) sliced in half
6 – 9 slices deli pepperoni
6 – 9 slices deli soppressata
6 – 9 slices deli capicola
1 large tomato sliced thin
4 – 6 slices provolone cheese
4 – 6 slices pepper jack cheese
2 tbsp pesto
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp oregano
1 tbsp Italian dressing
1 cup of shredded lettuce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix Italian dressing with lettuce and set aside.

Spread pesto on bottom half of each roll. Place two slices of pepper jack cheese on the bottom half of each roll. Place on a cookie sheet.

On a separate cookie sheet pile 2 slices of capicola, 2 slices soppressata, 3 slices tomatoes sprinkled with oregano and red pepper flakes. Top tomatoes with pepperoni then 2 slices provolone cheese.

Place meats and bread in the oven until cheese melts approximately 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from oven and top bottom half of each roll with meat and lettuce. Place other half of roll on top of the lettuce and cut in half. Serve with chips or a cup of soup.

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Naan Style Pizza

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Tonight I made Naan Style Pizzas. I found small individual sized Naan at Trader Joes’s. I was looking for small regular flatbread but spotted the Naan flatbread instead. I wanted to make something quick for dinner and thought homestyle pizzas would be a good choice for a quick meal. Hubby and my youngest son are pizza lovers so they usually like any kind of pizza you throw in front of them. I on the other hand prefer non traditional style pizzas.

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Passing by the deli meats and cheeses I had a light bulb moment and decided to make a variety of pizza toppings like pre-cooked chicken, prosciutto, salami and capicola instead of pepperoni or sausage. Since the pizzas were individual sized we were each able to try a different type of topping. To make the pizzas even more non-traditional I slathered the Naan with pesto instead of a basic pizza sauce. This gave the pizzas more of a savory taste rather than the acidic flavor you get with tomato sauce.

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The best thing about pulling together the Naan Style Pizzas is that it took all of 15 minutes. That is my kind of recipe. Baking took about another 15 minutes to melt the cheese and make it golden brown. Total time for me to get dinner on the table was about 45 minutes which included me explaining to my hubby what I was making.

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After a few bites and a couple of umm hmmm’s I knew the Naan Style Pizzas were blog worthy. So there you have it. Another quick and easy meal with a healthy twist. Try it and I am sure you and others will like it.

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Naan Style Pizza

Ingredients:
1 small jar pesto
1 pkg Tandoori Naan flatbread (Trader Joe’s)
1 pkg pre-cooked slices of chicken
8 slices salami
8 slices prosciutto
8 slices capicola
1 bag baby leaf spinach
4 small tomatoes sliced
6 slices of jalapeno pepper cheese
¼ cup buffalo wing sauce
1 tbsp oregano

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pull cheese apart and set aside. Place pre-cooked chicken in a bowl and drizzle buffalo chicken wing sauce over chicken. Toss until chicken is well coated with sauce. Set aside.

Spread about 1 tbsp of pesto on each slice of Naan flatbread then layer with baby spinach leaves. Next on 1 -2 pieces of flatbread layer the chicken then a few slices of tomato and sprinkle with oregano. Top with cheese.

Follow the same steps creating the salami flatbread pizza. Alternate the prosciutto and capicola together on one flatbread when layering.

Place Naan Style Pizzas on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until cheese melts and is golden brown.

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