Meatless Monday: No-Knead Brioche Buns

It Sounds Crazy But I Made My Own Hamburger Buns!  If I’m going to eat bread, I want it to be worth it!  I want the bun to not just be a vehicle for itsIMG_0656 contents but part of the experience.  So, the other day, Chase asked for sliders and remembering that there aren’t very many good options for buns in this town, I decided to make my own.  I know its crazy but I did and they were delicious!  The recipe is a “no-knead” brioche bread.  It makes 10 large buns but you can make them smaller for sliders.  Just watch your baking time.  In addition, start this the day before you want to eat them.  The recipe requires that you allow the dough to rest for 16-24 hours.

Brioche is normally a long laborious process, thanks to Cook’s Illustrated, they have made Brioche an attainable outcome without a lot of guesswork.

According to Cook’s Illustrated, King Arthur Bread Flour works best with this recipe.  However, other high protein bread flours work as well.

No Knead Brioche Buns


3 1/4 cups bread flour

2 1/4 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 tsp salt

7 large eggs (1 lightly beaten with a pinch of salt added)

1/2 cup water, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

16 Tbsp unsalted melted and cooled slightly



  1.  Whisk flour, yeast , and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk 6 eggs, water, and sugar has dissolved.  Whisk in butter until smooth.  Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir with wood spoon until a uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute.  Cover blown with plastic wrap and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Holding the edge of dough with your fingertips, fold dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle.  Turn bowl 45 degrees; fold again.  Turn bowl and fold dough 6 more times for a total of 8 folds.  Cover with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes.  Repeat folding and rising every 30 minutes, 3 more times.  After the fourth set of folds, cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 16 hours or up to 24 hours.
  3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.  Transfer the dough to well-floured counter and divide into 10 equal pieces.  Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, pat dough into a disk.  Working around circumference of the dough, fold edges of the dough toward the center until a ball forms.  Flip dough over and, without applying pressure, move your hands in small circular motions to form dough into a smooth, taut round.  Add flour if needed. Dough can be tacky.  Repeat with remaining dough.
  4. Arrange buns on prepared sheets, 5 per sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until almost double in size. 1 to 1.5 hours.  Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Remove the plastic and brush rolls gently with remaining egg beaten with salt.  Bake until golden brown and internal temperature registers 190 degrees, 15-20 minutes, rotating and switching sheets halfway through baking.  Transfer sheets to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Transfer buns to wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Meatless Monday: Citrus Salad with Arugula, Walnuts and Golden Raisins

I get into salad ruts so when I saw this recipe I jumped for joy!  I’ve made it several times and let me tell you, the citrus possibilities are endless!  The recipe calls for red grapefruit, which I cannot eat because it interferes with my birth control pill.  Check your labels friends!  Did you know that grapefruit and pomegranate can interfere with certain drugs?  So, I used blood oranges and naval oranges and upped the amount to 6 total.  You could also use Valencia or Cara Cara oranges.

The recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated.  You know how I feel about Cook’s.  It’s pretty darn wonderful.

Citrus Salad with Arugula, Walnuts and Golden Raisins


2 red grapefruit
3 navel oranges
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
1 tsp unsalted butter
½ cup walnuts, chopped coarse
3 Tbsp EVOO
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard

4ounces (4 cups) arugula
½ cup golden raisins


  1. Cut away peel and pith from grapefruits and oranges. Cut each fruit in half from pole to pole, then slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Transfer fruit to bowl and toss with sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  2.  Melt butter in 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer walnuts to paper towel–lined plate.
  3. Drain fruit in colander, reserving 2 tablespoons juice. Transfer fruit to platter, arrange in even layer, and drizzle with oil. Whisk reserved juice, shallot, and mustard in medium bowl. Add arugula, ¼ cup raisins, and ¼ cup reserved walnuts and toss to coat. Arrange arugula mixture over fruit, leaving 1-inch border around edges. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup raisins and remaining 1/4 cup reserved walnuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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Cold Weather Food! Easy Lasagna with Hearty Meat Sauce

Now that the weather is a bit cooler in Southern Arizona, there are a few things I like to do: wear more clothing than just a tank top and shorts, drink red wine, and make casseroles!  The highs have only been in the upper 50’s so, this is perfect weather for lasagna!  The recipe below is from Cook’s Illustrated, one of my trusted sources for recipes.  This one will NOT disappoint.  I served this with sautéed broccolini and my All Kale Caesar!

Easy Lasagna with Hearty Meat Sauce


Meat Sauce

1 Tbsp EVOO

1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)

6 medium cloves garlic, minced, (about 2 Tbsp)

1lb mix of the following meats: ground beef, veal, and pork sausage

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

¼ up heavy cream

1 28oz can tomato puree

1 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained


Ricotta, Mozzarella, Pasta Layer

15 oz ricotta cheese or cottage cheese (1 ¾ cups)

2 ½ oz grated Parmesan cheese (1 ¼ cups)

½ cup chopped fresh basil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

12 no boil lasagna noodles (from and 8 or 9 oz package)

16 oz whole milk mozzarella, shredded (4 cups)



  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high and add ground meats, salt and pepper; cook breaking meat into small pieces with a wooden sppon until meat loses its raw color but has not browned, about 4 minutes.  Add cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and only fat remains, about 4 minutes.  Add pureed and drained diced tomatoes and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low and simmer slowly until flavors are blended, about 3 minutes; set sauce aside.  (Sauce can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days; reheat before assembling lasagna.
  3. Mix ricotta, 1 cup parmesan, basil, egg, salt and pepper in medium bowl with fork until well-combined and creamy; set aside.
  4. In a 9×13 baking dish, smear ¼ cup meat sauce over the bottom of the dish. Place 3 noodles on top of sauce.  Drop 3 Tbsp ricotta mixture down the center of each noodle.  Level by pressing flat with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup shredded mozzarella.  Spoon 1 ½ cups meat sauce evenly over cheese.  REPEAT layering of noodles, ricotta, mozzarella and sauce two more times.  Place 3 remaining noodles on top of sauce over noodles, sprinkle with remaining cup mozzarella, then with remaining ¼ cup Parmesan.  Lightly spray a large sheet of foil with non-stick cooking spray and cover lasagna.  Bake 15 minutes, then remove foil.  Return lasagna to oven and continue to bake until cheese is spotty brown and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes  Cool lasagna about 10 minutes; cut into pieces and serve.


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Kid Friendly Meal: Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps

Do you want an easy, kid friendly meal?  Good.  Here it is.  I found the original recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, which painstakingly tests recipes to improve them.  The first time I made it I only had ground turkey, so I skipped a couple of the steps and augmented one of them to fit my tastes.  They are outstanding.  I served the lettuce wraps with coconut rice, black beans and steamed green beans.

Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps


1 pork tenderloin (about 1lb) trimmed of silver skin and fat, cut into 1″ chunks

2 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp white rice

1/4 cup low-sodium broth

2 medium shallots peeled and sliced into rings to use raw or minced to cook

3 Tbsp juice from two limes

2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp red peper flakes (optional for kiddos)

3 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

3 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh cilantro

1 head Bibb lettuce, washed and dried, leaves separated and left whole


  1. Place pork chunks on a large plate in single layer.  Freeze meat until firming starting to harden around the edges but still pliable, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Place half of the meat in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, 5 to 6 1-second pulses. Transfer ground meat to a medium bowl and repeat with remaining chunks.  (Alternately, place 1 lb ground turkey into the bowl)  Stir in 1 Tbsp fish sauce into ground meat and marinate, refrigerated, 15 minutes.
  3. Heat rice in small skillet over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Grind rice with spice grinder or mini food processor, or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal.  You’ll have about 1 Tbsp rice powder
  4. Bring broth to simmer in 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add pork and cook, stirring frequently until about half of pork is no longer pink, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle 1 tsp rice powder over pork; continue to cook, stirring constantly, until remaining pork is no longer pink, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer.  Transfer pork to large bowl, let cool.  10 minutes.
  5. Add remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce, remaining 2 tsp rice powder, shallots, lime juice, sugar, red pepper flakes, mint, and cilantro to pork; toss to combine. Serve with lettuce leaves.

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Meatless Monday: Twice-Baked Potatoes with Broccoli, Cheddar and Scallions

I’m always looking for meal ideas to send in the boys’ lunches.  Their school is vegetarian and nut-free, so that can get tricky.  In addition, there is not a microwave or manner in which they could warm up their food so, a cold lunch is always on the menu.

I can always count on Cook’s Illustrated to provide tested and delicious recipes, often with multiple options!  Below is the most recent one I’m going to try.  I’ll add a picture tonight after I make them.

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Broccoli, Cheddar and Scallions


4 Russet Potatoes

Vegetable oil

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

6 cups broccoli florets (cut into 1 inch pieces), stems discarded

Sea salt

1 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp powdered mustard

6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)

3-4 scallions, sliced thin (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup half and half

ground black pepper


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven 400 degrees.  Scrub, dry and lightly rub them with vegetable oil.  Bake potatoes on foil-lined baking sheet until a skewer can be inserted into an removed from potatoes with little resistance, 60 to 70 minutes.  Cool on Baking sheet 10 minutes.
  2. While potatoes are baking, heat 2 Tbsp butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides; add broccoli and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.  Add 2 Tbsp water, cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Uncover and continue to cook until water evaporates, about 1 minute.  Transfer to bowl and stir in lemon juice.
  3. Halve each potato lengthwise.  Using a soup spoon, scoop the flesh from each half into a bowl, leaving about 3/8″ thickness of flesh.  Place shells cut-sides up on the baking sheet and return to oven until dry and slightly crisp, about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, mash potato flesh with fork until smooth,; stir in melted butter, 3/4 tsp salt, powdered mustard, 1 cup cheese, scallion, sour cream, half and half, and pepper to taste, then stir in broccoli.
  5. Remove shells from oven; heat broiler.  Mound filling into shells; sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese and broil until spotty brown, 6 to 10 minutes,  Cool 5 minutes and serve,

Other flavor combinations:

  1. Bacon, cabbage and cheddar
  2. Ham, Peas, and Gruyere

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