Tuscan Meatballs au Gratin

tuscan meatballs with cheese
tuscan meatballs with cheese

These have to be our favourite meatballs. They have everything we love. Good quality beef, cheese and mediterranean flavours.

This dish is actually lighter than you might think. The trick is to remove any fat after cooking the meatballs by draining them in a colander. The lemon zest lifts the whole thing up, and the fresh herbs add freshness. A great dish for all year round. Serve over pasta, with french bread or in a sandwich, or make small ones and serve as an appetizer. Also make a double batch and put one in the freezer for an other day (without the cheese).


tuscan meatballs with cheese

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 14-oz cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • a tiny grating of lemon zest, about 1/4 teaspoon
  • a pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup cream, I use half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano

Meatballs:

  • 1-1/4 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Topping:

  • 6 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon  fresh oregano

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large skillet melt the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook about 3 minutes . Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds until it starts to soften, Add the tomato paste. Stir in the sugar. Add the wine. Add the lemon zest.
  2. Add the canned tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Add the herbs. Reduce heat to a simmer and let it cook while you prep the meatballs.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the onion until it is finely diced. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until well combined. Roll the mixture into meatballs about the size of golf balls.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220° C / 425° F.
  5. Heat a large non stick frying pan and add the meatballs to the pan with no extra oil. The meatballs will start to release some fat as they cook. Cook for 15 minutes – it’s okay if they aren’t cooked all the way through since they are also going into the oven. Remove from heat and drain off all the fat in a colander.
  6. Place the meatballs in an oven proof dish.
  7. Pour the sauce over the meatballs, add the cream. Stir.
  8. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
  9. Place in the oven to bake until the cheese on top is bubbling , about 20 minutes.
  10. Garnish with the fresh oregano.

Enjoy!

Myra XO

tuscan meatballs with cheese
Pumpkin Loaf

Pumpkin Beer Bread

Pumpkin Beer Bread

Everywhere I look, it’s Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins… and I’m loving it.
I can’t get enough of Pumpkins, I eat them all year round (thanks you frozen pumpkin).
But since I’ve been thinking a lot about Pumpkins lately (no surprise there), I wanted to find more ways to use them. And today I am sharing with you my Pumpkin Beer Bread Loaf. Just like a normal whole grain loaf but with Pumpkin in it, and a little something extra… beer!
The result is a soft textured loaf, hearty with a hint of sweetness and a nice crispy crust.
I’ve kept it plain and simple so you can eat it with anything from cheese to Nutella. Don’t worry you can’t actually taste the beer.
The color of the bread needless to say, is beautiful.
So those of you who are still looking for a new Pumpkin adventure, make this Pumpkin Beer Bread,  you’ll love it 🙂

⏰ Prep time: 15 minutes
🎃 Cooking time: ca 30 minutes
🍴 Makes: 2 Loafs

Pumpkin Loaf

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 – 4 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 package instant dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup luke warm water
  • 1/2 cup light beer,
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, freshly made or canned
  • a small handful of Pumpkin seeds
  • more flour for rolling out dough

jakob-owens-YCX5QMNFUkE-unsplash

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a bowl mix the two flours with the salt.
2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the beer, the sugar, oil and 3 cups flour. Add the pumpkin puree. Beat until smooth.
3. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form a soft dough.
4. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.
5. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half. Shape each into a loaf. Place in two greased 9×5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes. Brush with a little milk and sprinkle with the Pumpkin seeds.
6. Bake at 375 F for 30 – 35 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
7. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool.

Enjoy !

Myra XO

Pumpkin Loaf

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Fool Proof Lasagna

Classic Lasagna

Fool Proof Lasagna

Nothing beats classic lasagna!
And this is the easiest recipe you will ever make. It’s FOOL PROOF ,  anyone can make it even if you have never cooked before. Follow the recipe exactly and you will be super happy with the result. Also, it can be made ahead of time and it’s freezer-friendly!
This recipes does take some time to make and a little bit more effort – but I promise you, it’s worth it. I even double the recipe some times and put one lasagna in the freezer.
The lasagna has layers of classic meat sauce, bechamel and cheese. A.K.A. layers of goodness!
This one of those dishes that tastes even better the very next day! So if you have leftovers, lucky you!

Serves: 6-8

Cooking time: approx. 1 hour


INGREDIENTS:

• 9 fresh lasagna noodles
• 1 pound ground beef
• 4 oz. finely chopped bacon
• 1 onion peeled and diced small
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
• Salt and Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 2 1/2 Cup Pasatta (tomato sauce)
• 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
• 1 tbsp. bouillon powder
• 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
• 1 C. red wine or water
BECHAMEL:
• 1/2 Cup Butter
• 1/2 Cup Flour
• 1 tsp. salt
• 4 Cups milk
• a grating of nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp.
• 1 bay leaf
ADDITIONAL:
• 3 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
• 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

•Fool Proof Lasagna

DIRECTIONS MEAT SAUCE:
• Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C . Lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.
• Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the bacon and fry until it starts releasing a bit of fat, add the ground beef and onion and cook until beef has browned, add the garlic. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; season with pepper, to taste. Drain off excess fat. Put back on the heat. Stir in the pasatta, bouillon powder and Italian seasoning until well combined. Add the wine or water and let simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
• Remove from heat.

Fool Proof Lasagna

DIRECTIONS BECHAMEL:
1. Heat a large pot with a thick bottom, add the butter and melt.
2. Add the flour and stir with a whisk until well combined.
3. Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly, until very well combined and there are no lumps at all.
4. Add the bay leaf and nutmeg.
5. Simmer for about ten minutes until flour is fully “cooked”
6. Remove from heat.
ASSEMBLE LASAGNA:
1. Spread 1 cup tomato mixture onto the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish; top with 3 lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the bechamel sauce and 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat . Top with remaining noodles, tomato mixture, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan.
2. Place into oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until bubbling.
3. Let cool 15 minutes. This is an important step! *
4. Serve, garnished with parsley, if desired.
*Letting the Lasagna rest for 15 minutes will ensure that you can cut beautiful squares or portions.
*MAKE-AHEAD: Cover lasagna tightly with foil. Refrigerate up to 24 hours. Bake for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until completely cooked through and golden on top.
*TO FREEZE UNCOOKED: Cover lasagna tightly with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Freeze up to 3 months. To bake, remove plastic wrap, cover with foil and bake for 90 minutes. Uncover; bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until completely cooked through.
*COOKED from frozen: sometimes I will make this recipe and divide it into four portions and pack them into foil baking dishes. Then freeze, when I’m in a hurry I will only have to defrost and place on a plate and microwave, and believe me….still really delicious.

Fool Proof Lasagna

everyday spelt bread

Everyday Spelt Bread

everyday spelt bread

This is the easiest bread recipe I have in my repertoire, I make it all the time. Mostly because it is a no-brainer recipe and some times because it’s even quicker than going to the store to buy a loaf, or because it’s raining and I don’t want to leave the house. Whatever the reason may be, this fool proof recipe is one I use time and time again .

Pro’s :

  1. delicious
  2. Soft
  3. Warm
  4. Healthier
  5. No additives
  6. Cheap
  7. Home made

Con’s:

  1. Nope…can’t think of any.

everyday spelt bread


Prep time : 10 minutes

Cooking time : 45 minutes

oven temp : 200 C / 400 F


Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 1/2- 4 cups whole grain spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons extra-light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • extra olive oil or melted butter for brushing loaf

everyday spelt bread

Instructions:

Combine the warm water, yeast and honey in a large jug, and let it sit and “proof” for 10 minutes. Add the milk and stir.

Place the flour in the bowl of your mixer, fitted with the kneading hook, pour the water yeast mixture into the bowl of flour with the motor running on the lowest setting. Add the salt and olive oil. Once incorporated you can turn the mixer setting on higher. Knead for about 7 minutes.

Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rise for 45-60 minutes in a warm place. It should double in size.

Grease a loaf tin with melted butter.

Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead a few minutes. Shape into a loaf and place in loaf tin.

Let rise again for 30 minutes covered with an oiled piece of plastic wrap.

Preheat your oven to 200 C/400 F , remove plastic wrap and place loaf on a rack in the middle of the oven. Bake the loaf for about 45 minutes turning half way, tap the loaf to see if it’s fully baked, it should sound hollow. Once baked , brush the crust with some butter. This is an optional step but I love the way the crust gets a bit softer and glossier. Let it cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing it to cool completely on a wire rack.

everyday spelt bread

Salmon and Zucchini Phyllo Quiche

 

salmon phyllo quiche5

I have always wanted to make a Quiche with Phyllo dough, it’s been in the back of my mind for ages, but I always wondered if it could stand up to the filling or even become crispy enough on the bottom.
Well, please to report, …a big fat, yes!

The phyllo is really wonderful. It gets so crispy along the edges and so pretty too. I may have gone a little overboard with the top but I was having so much fun playing with the dough. You can leave the top completely plain if you prefer to show more filling. That’s up to you.

I must add that it’surprisingly easy, very forgiving dough. I had a bit of a hard time separating the sheets, but half torn pieces worked perfectly, it really makes no difference in the end result.

Obviously for me the game changer was the fact that Phyllo is virtually fat free. So there is no going back to any other kind of dough for me. 

salmon phyllo quiche2

Serves: 8


INGREDIENTS:

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1 cm/0.5 inch slices and then quartered

1 leek, washed and sliced

1/4 cup drained corn 

1 tbsp. olive oil for cooking

200 gr. / 7 oz. smoked salmon, cut into pieces

4 large eggs

1 cup light cream or whole milk

1/4 tsp. sumach 

1/4 tsp. dried dill

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

10 sheets 9×14 phyllo dough (225 gr)

3 tbsp. olive oil or melted butter for brushing phyllo

4 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese, or your favorite semi strong cheese

3 tablespoons sliced green onion

 

 

salmon phyllo quiche3INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 175 C / 350 degrees.

Heat a frying pan with half a  tablespoon of olive oil and cook the leek and onion on medium heat until soft. Set aside.

Add the remaining half tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and cook the zucchini on medium high heat just until golden on all sides and fork tender.

Remove from heat and add to the a large bowl to cool. A lot of liquid will release from the zucchini, you need to discard this before using.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the cream or milk,  salt, pepper, sumach and dill and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Brush a 20 cm/8 inch round baking dish (I used a cake tin) with a bit of olive oil. Layer the sheets of phyllo in the dish, see pictures. Brushing the layers with olive oil or butter as you go. Torn sheets are fine.

Place the drained veggies, corn and salmon over the phyllo layer, then add the shredded cheese and green onion. Pour the egg mixture over the top.

Bake the quiche for 60 minutes or until set when you wiggle the pan.

Serve warm or chilled with a salad.

Enjoy!

Myra XO

salmon phyllo quiche10

salmon phyllo quiche4

wonder bread

Norwegian Health Bread

wonder bread

This amazing bread was originally invented by a Norwegian Pastor named Marksett, and is nothing short of a miracle. Jam packed with nutrients and no flour, no yeast and no leavening whatsoever. Pure natural ingredients for a real bread.
Oats, seeds, olive oil, salt and water, that’s it. The Chia seeds and Psyllium act as binding agents.
A nutrition BOM, so to speak. Full of fibre and healthy fats. I eat two slices a day and I can assure you, it’s plenty and very delicious. Toasted it’s pure heaven.
The beauty of this loaf is that it has to be made with lots of love, almost like therapy. You need to mix the ingredients and leave it overnight in the fridge so that all the seeds and fibre can do their “thing” and expand. Bake the next day. A slow bread if you will, worth every bit of effort.

wonder bread

wonder bread

wonder bread
Freezes well too!


Prep time: 15 minutes
Waiting time: overnight
Cooking time : 70 minutes
Makes 1 loaf


Ingredients:

• 1 ½ cups rolled oats (if making gluten-free, make sure to get certified gluten-free oats)
• ½ cup Pumpkin seeds
• ½ cup Sunflower seeds
• ½ cup flax seeds whole
• 3 tbsp. flax seeds cracked or roughly ground
• 2 tbsp. Chia seeds
• 2 tbsp. Psyllium seed husks
• 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
• 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 3/4 – 2 cups water

wonder bread

Directions:

1. In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk oil and water together in a measuring jug. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick , first add the 1 ¾ water and then the remaining ¼ up if necessary. See how it goes. It will however become a big ball. See picture.
2. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight.
3. The next morning, remove the bowl from the fridge and let sit at room temperature for about an hour before baking.
4. Grease a loaf tin, ( 8”/ 20 cm.)
5. Do not preheat oven.
6. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake at 350° F / 175° C for 70-75 minutes.
7. If the loaf gets to dark, make a tent cover of aluminum foil and cover loosely. Test with a wooden skewer to see if the bread is done. The wooden skewer may be moist but not sticky.
8. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. It should also have shrunk away from the edges of the tin. Let cool about twenty minutes and remove from tin. Then cool completely before slicing.
9. Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to four days, or freeze.

Enjoy!

Myra Xo

wonder bread

pepper honey hamburger buns

Black Pepper Honey Brioche Hamburger Buns

pepper honey hamburger buns

I have a problem with store bought hamburger buns, the ones you buy in a plastic bag, the ones that fall apart by the first bite, the ones that have an insipid dull factory flavor of nothing that completely leaves you hanging and doesn’t really do your scrumptious burger justice.
You know the kind right?
A good burger, is crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside with a good amount of flavor, you need a bun that can keep up, a bun that can endure the whole burger eating experience until the very last bite. You’re with me, I know it.

Well I’ve got you covered. Give these a try for your next cook-out and your store-bought-bun-days are over… forever….THE END


Prep time : 15 minutes plus rising 2 hrs.
Cooking time : 15 minutes
Makes: 8 large buns


INGREDIENTS:

• 3/4 C. warm water
• 1/4 C. warm milk, soy or regular. (I use Soy)
• 2 ½ tsp. instant yeast
• 3 tbsp. honey
• 2 eggs, at room temperature
• 3 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
• 4 ½ C. Spelt flour
• 1 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. Black cracked pepper * SEE NOTE
• 1 egg beaten for glaze
• 1 tsp. honey
• 1 or 2 tbsp. sesame seeds for sprinkling on top
* NOTE : Two ways for cracking the pepper, either set your pepper mill to the course setting or crack whole pepper corns in a pestle and mortar.

brioche hamburger buns

pepper honey hamburger buns

INSTRUCTIONS:

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and let the yeast proof for 5 minutes until frothy.
Beat the eggs and the butter together,
In the bowl of a food processor set with the hook attachment, add the flour, salt and cracked pepper and give it a stir, slowly add the eggs and butter mixture and continue with the yeast/milk mixture.
Set the processor on low and knead for 10 minutes.
Turn out the dough on a floured surface, and give it a few turns and shape into a ball.
Put into a bowl sprayed with oil and cover with oil sprayed cling film. Let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. Until double in size.
Take the dough out of the bowl and put it back on your work surface sprinkled with a little flour. Knead a few times and shape into 8 buns. Put them on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Brush the buns with the beaten egg and honey mix and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover the buns with cling film that has been sprayed with oil. Let rise for another 30 min.
Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
Bake the buns for 14 -15 minutes, turning them once half way. Let cool on a rack.
If using for burgers, split them in half and toast slightly on the bbq for a few minutes.
Leftover buns freeze well.

Enjoy!
Myra XO

pepper honey hamburger buns

pesto bread knots

Pesto Knots with Garlic Butter

pesto bread knots

This has to be the best dinner roll of all times. Soft dough filled with pesto and tied in a cute little knot.

pesto bread knots

INGREDIENTS:
• 200 ml / 1 cup minus 2 tbsp. hand warm milk (you can use unsweetened soy)
• 42 gr. / 1.5 oz. fresh yeast
• 2 tbsp. honey
• 500 gr. / 1 3/4 cup Spelt flour (type 630) or all purpose flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 medium eggs at room temperature
• 100 gr. butter at room temperature
• 2 tbsp. Pesto
• 1/4 cup butter
• 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated

pesto bread knots

pesto bread knots

pesto bread knots

INSTRUCTIONS:
Bring the milk to hand warm temperature, either in the microwave or on top of the stove. Make sure it’s not to warm or you will kill the yeast.
Crumble in the yeast and the honey. Give it a stir and set aside. It will start to bubble up.
In the bowl of your stand mixer add the flour and salt and stir to combine. Make a well in the middle and add the butter, the two eggs and the milk mixture. Knead on medium for about 6 minutes. Add a little more flour if it seems too wet. It will be a sticky dough however.
Cover with cling film and leave to rise for thirty minutes.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle of about 35 x 45 cm / 14 x 16 ” , cut in half lengthwise and spread one tablespoon of pesto down the middle.
Roll each half into a long rope and cut each roll into 6 equal parts.
Shape into knots tucking the ends under, free style it because you can’t go wrong here
Leave the knots to rise for 10 minutes while the oven is heating up at 400 F / 200 C.
Heat the butter with the garlic in a small pan until melted. Add the parsley. Brush knots lightly with butter, avoid the parsley as best you can at this point because it might burn.
Bake for about 13 – 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with more garlic butter.

Serve and enjoy.
Myra XO

pesto bread knots

alt="High fibre whole grain bread"

High Fibre Health Bread

img_1980

img_1977

Here is my go to bread, for daily use. Very high in fibre and super healthy. It’s a small compact loaf,  but one slice is an equivalent to a normal sized slice of bread, only ten times healthier. Pure grains and goodness and very filling.

Makes 1 small loaf

Needed : 8 Inch x 4 Inch Loaf Pan

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 C. + 2 tbsp.  milk of choice, warm about at 100 ° F
  • 2 tsp. Yeast
  • 1 tbsp. Organic Coconut Sugar
  • 2 C. Dark Rye Flour
  • 1 C. Plain Spelt Flour
  • 1/4 C. Oat Fiber
  • 1/4 C. Ground Flaxseed
  • 1 tsp. Pink Himalayan Salt
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 C. Cooked Rye or Organic Spelt Berries

img_1984

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a bowl, mix the warm milk with the sugar, add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until frothy. Add the olive oil.

In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the hook attachment, place the flours, the fibre and flax. Stir to mix a little.

When the yeast mixture is ready pour is slowly into the bowl with the flour. With the machine running on low. Once the yeast liquid is mixed in add the salt.

Knead for ten minutes on medium. The last minute add the whole cooked grains and mix in gently with the machine on low.

Turn out the dough, Knead a little and form in to a ball. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Let rise for at least two hours. Although is doesn’t rise much leave for this amount of time.

After this time, place the dough into the oiled baking tin, sprinkle over some oat fibre if you like. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave to rise again for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile pre heat the oven to 375 ° F / 190 C

Place the tin in the middle of the oven on  a rack, bake for about 40 minutes. Tap to see if it sounds hollow after this time. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely before slicing.

img_1978

"Gratin Dauphinois"

Gratin Dauphinois with Gruyere.

Alt="Gratin Dauphinois"

Ingredients;

2 lb /1 kg starchy potatoes

1 garlic clove peeled and sliced in half lengthwise

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

grating of nutmeg

Freshly ground pepper

1 C. cream

1/2 C. chicken stock

1 C.  grated Gruyere cheese

Method;

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

Bring cream, chicken stock, nutmeg and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and let it steep while you make the rest of the gratin.

Rub a baking dish with the cut garlic, then spread with the  butter.

Peel the potatoes and slice them thin.

Place half of the potatoes in the dish, then scatter over cheese.

Repeat for the second layer, finishing with the cheese.

Pour over the cream.

Cover with lid or foil, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 10 until the top is bubbly and golden. Rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with some chives or parsley before serving.

Alt="Gratin Dauphinois"

Alt="Gratin Dauphinois"

Another great fast side dish would be Super quick pan roast Jacket Potatoes.

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