Ciabatta Bread

This crispy crusted homemade ciabatta bread has a soft, warm center with little crannies that are perfect for dipping into seasoned oil, butter, soups, dips, and more!

Cibata Bread
Cibata Bread

What is Ciabatta Bread?

Ciabatta bread is an Italian bread with a crispy crusted outside, and a soft and airy inside. The crannies on the inside are a perfect way to absorb seasoned oil, sauces, and dips. Ciabatta bread also makes a great sandwich bread.

What is a Starter Dough?

A starter dough (or “sponge”) is a simple mixture of yeast, water, and flour that sits for an extended period of time to allow it to ferment. It is then added to dough and acts as a leavening agent, perhaps with the addition of more yeast. This helps create the best tasting bread.

👉The top left image is what the starter dough will look like when its finished, nice and porous!

Making Ciabatta Bread
Making Ciabatta Bread

Storing Ciabatta Bread

Before storing, ensure that the bread has cooled completely. Then wrap it tightly in foil or in an airtight plastic bag. Leave it at room temperature, do not refrigerate as that will cause it to dry out. It will remain good at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Can You Freeze Ciabatta Bread?

Yes! To freeze Ciabatta bread, wrap it in aluminum foil or freezer plastic wrap and place it into an airtight freezer bag. It will be at its freshest if used within 3 months, however it’s still safe beyond that time-frame.

Ciabatta Bread
Ciabatta Bread

Ways to Use Leftover Ciabatta Bread

–Homemade Croutons are a perfect way to use up leftover Ciabatta bread.

-French Toast is also a delicious way to make use of bread that’s a few days old.

Ciabatta Bread 2
Ciabatta Bread 2

Homemade Ciabatta Bread

Servings:20 SLICES

Prep Time:13 HRS
Cook Time:20 MINS
Total Time:13 HRS 

This crispy crusted ciabatta bread has a soft, warm center with little crannies that are perfect for dipping into butter, soups, dips, and more!

Ingredients

Yeast Starter Dough:  (Needs to sit for 8-12 hours. Overnight works well too)

  • 1/2 tsp. rapid rise yeast
  • 3/4 cup room temperature water
  • 1 cup bread flour or all-purpose flour

Ciabatta Dough:

  • 1/2 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
  • 3/4 cup room temperature water
  • Yeast Starter Dough from above
  • 2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Instructions

Phase One: Starter Dough:

  1. Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Cover with Saran Wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 8-12 hours, or overnight. This dough doesn’t rise so you won’t need excess room in the bowl. 

Phase Two: Ciabatta Dough:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the yeast and the water. Add the starter dough and mix gently. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined.
  2. Use a hand mixer and mix the dough on low for 3 minutes, then let it sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Repeat, mixing for another 3 minutes and letting it sit for 10.
  4. Remove the dough with a silicone spatula and drop into a large oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 45 minutes.
  5. Use the same silicone spatula and drop the dough onto a floured surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. The dough will be extremely sticky. 
  6. Take one end of the dough and fold it up into the middle. Take the other end, and fold that one into the middle.
  7. Sprinkle more flour on top of the dough and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  8. Repeat the two prior steps again, folding and letting it sit for another 15.
  9. Take the bread and create an 8×8 inch square.
  10. Use a sharp knife and cut the square in half. Cover each of the loaves with a light dish towel and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees while it sits.
  12. Gently lift the loaves onto a greased baking sheet, trying to touch them the least amount possible.
  13. Bake for 17-25 minutes, (mine was ready after 17 exactly so I’d keep an eye on it a little before that time.)
  14. Let it cool on a cooling rack and then slice it up and serve!

NUTRITION INFORMATION Calories: 69, Sodium: 175 mg, Potassium: 21 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Protein: 2 g, Calcium: 3%, Iron: 0.2%

Author:Zeeshan
Course: BREAD
Cuisine: ITALIAN

Texas Roadhouse Rolls

These Copycat Texas Roadhouse Rolls are brushed with sweet honey butter and can be made in a bread machine or by hand! A perfect side dish idea for holidays and family dinners!

Texas Roadhouse Rolls
Texas Roadhouse Rolls

Ingredients

  • Active Dry Yeast -See below for using Rapid Rise instead
  • Milk
  • Honey
  • Butter
  • Egg
  • Salt
  • Flour- All-purpose or bread flour may also be used

Subbing Instant/Rapid Rise Yeast for Active Dry

  • Cooks Illustrated recommends using 25% less yeast if using Instant instead of Active Dry.
  • In this recipe, that equates to 1 + 3/4 teaspoons.
  • Combine the yeast with the flour instead of adding it to the warm milk.
  • Proceed as outlined, no need to let the milk stand for 5 minutes after combining it with the honey.

Can These Be Made Ahead of Time?

Yes! Here’s how to make these rolls ahead of time:

  • Bake for no more than 12 minutes, before the tops start to brown too much.
  • Don’t top them with the melted butter yet. Let them come to room temperature and store them in an airtight container.
  • When ready to serve, bake for a few minutes at 350°, until the tops are golden brown.
  • Top with melted butter and serve!

Can You Use a Bread Machine?

  • Yes. Add the ingredients to a bread machine in the order listed in the recipe card and select the dough setting.
  • From there, proceed with rolling and cutting the rolls. Place them on baking sheets, cover, and let them rise until doubled in size.
  • Bake and brush with honey butter.
Ball of Risen Dough
Ball of Risen Dough
Risen dough being punched down
Risen dough being punched down
Rolling out tx roadhouse dough
Rolling out tx roadhouse dough

How to Make Dough Rise:

Dough needs a warmer environment in order to rise. If you’re having trouble, try these tricks. Note: it may take the dough longer to rise with these methods:

Method #1: (👉My favorite)- Preheat the oven to 315° F and place the bowl on top of a warm spot on the oven. For me, the warmest spot is right in the front of the oven between the front two burners.

Method #2: Place a baking tray on the bottom rack in the oven. Remove the top rack. Boil water and pour it into the tray, then place the bowl of dough on top and close the door.

-Method #3: (Assuming you have a warm place for the dough to rise but it still isn’t)-Take a new package of active dry yeast and mix it with 1/4 cup of warm water and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Let it sit for 10 minutes until it starts to foam. Knead the yeast mixture into the dough, and place it in a warm place to rise.

Cutting Dough for Rolls
Cutting Dough for Rolls
Brushing Rolls with Butter
Brushing Rolls with Butter

Copycat Texas Roadhouse Rolls

Servings:24 ROLLS

Prep Time:1 HR
Cook Time:15 MINS
Time:1 HR 45 MINS 

These Copycat Texas Roadhouse Rolls are brushed with sweet honey butter and can be made in a bread machine or by hand! A perfect side dish idea for holidays and family dinners!Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup Milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons melted Butter, separated
  • 1 large Egg at room temperature
  • ¼ cup Honey
  • 4 cups all-purpose Flour or Bread Flour
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon Active Dry Yeast or 1 packet

Instructions

  1. If using a bread machine, see next section below.
  2. Bring the milk to a boil. Remove it from heat and let it reduce lukewarm, between 80-90 degrees.
  3. Mix the milk, yeast, and honey in a small bowl until well combined. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of the butter, the milk mixture, the room temperature egg, and 2 cups of flour. Mix slowly until smooth. (Use a mixer with a dough hook if you have one, otherwise it works by hand.) Gradually add the remaining 2 cups of flour and mix until a dough has formed.
  5. Add salt, and mix/knead for 8 minutes. Then drop the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a few more minutes.
  6. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and drop the dough inside. Cover the bowl (plastic wrap or a damp cloth works) and let it rise for an hour in a warm place.
  7. Punch down the dough and roll it out on a flat, floured surface until it’s about ½ inch thick. Fold it in half and gently seal.
  8. Cut into 24 squares of even size and place on 2 lightly greased cookie sheets. Cover them and let them rise for 30-40 minutes,, until doubled in size.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the top is a light golden brown.
  10. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and brush the top of the rolls.
  11. Serve with Copycat Texas Roadhouse Butter.

If using a Bread Machine:

  1. Add the ingredients to the bread machine in the order listed above. If your manual indicates a different order, follow that.
  2. Set the bread machine to the dough cycle, let it do the work from there.
  3. Once complete, proceed to step 6 above.

Recipe VideoRecipe Notes

Subbing Instant/Rapid Rise Yeast for Active Dry:

  • Cooks Illustrated recommends using 25% less yeast if using Instant instead of Active Dry.
  • In this recipe, that equates to 1 + 3/4 teaspoons.
  • Combine the yeast with the flour instead of adding it to the warm milk.
  • Proceed as outlined, no need to let the milk stand for 5 minutes after combining it with the honey.
  • Bread flour or all-purpose flour both work well in this recipe. 
  • Make sure your yeast is fresh and not expired!

If your dough doesn’t rise:

If you’re baking on a chilly Fall or Winter day, it might be tougher to get your dough to rise as it needs to do so in a warm place. These tricks can get you out of a bind, just note that it may take longer for your dough to rise if these methods are needed:

Method #1: Preheat the oven to 315 degrees and place the bowl on top of a warm spot on the oven. For me, the warmest spot is right in the front of the oven between the front two burners.

Method #2: Place a baking tray on the bottom rack in the oven. Remove the top rack. Boil water and pour it into the tray, then place the bowl of dough on top and close the door.

-Method #3: (Assuming you have a warm place for the dough to rise but it still isn’t)-Take a new package of yeast and mix it with 1/4 cup of warm water and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Let it sit for 10 minutes until it starts to foam. Knead the yeast mixture into the dough, and place it in a warm place to rise.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Calories: 117, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 13mg, Sodium: 122mg, Potassium: 54mg, Carbohydrates: 19g, Sugar: 3g, Protein: 3g, Vitamin A: 90%, Calcium: 19%, Iron: 1%

Author:Zeeshan
Course: SIDE DISH
Cuisine: American

Copycat Texas Roadhouse Butter

This Copycat Texas Roadhouse Butter recipe needs nothing more than a little honey, butter, and 2 additional ingredients! Use this on homemade rolls, pancakes, sweet potatoes, and more!

Be sure to pair this with my Texas Roadhouse Rolls Recipe!

white ramekin filled with 4 scoops of copycat texas roadhouse butter with rolls and a knife.

If you’ve been to Texas Roadhouse, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference between their delicious honey & cinnamon butter, and this. If you’ve never been there, you have to try this. The sweet cinnamon/honey/butter combo is to die.

I’ve masted the art of making their rolls too- they’re spot on, and perfect with this sweet butter. And when I say that I’ve “mastered the art”, I mean…I used yeast that wasn’t expired. (Did that once, didn’t work out well.)- But attempt #2 worked out perfectly. And after just a day, they’re almost gone. Those glistening, buttery, soft rolls have a hint of honey flavor and are just way too good. 

Ingredients for Texas Roadhouse Honey Butter
Ingredients for Texas Roadhouse Honey Butter

The Key To Creamy Butter

To ensure that your butter is creamy and smooth, use high quality butter and ensure that it has been at room temperature for at least an hour. Don’t microwave it to achieve this as it will mess with the consistency.

What Brand of Butter is Best?

Grade AA butter is the highest quality butter you can find, if you are able to get your hands on some.

Cabot Salted Butter is definitely better than store-brand butter and is what I love using for this recipe.

What Does Honey Butter Taste Like?

  • Honey butter is a delicious combination of salty and sweet, and there is a touch of honey flavor in there as well. It tastes perfectly with various breads, rolls, muffins, pancakes and even sweet potatoes.

Storage

  • Honey butter can be stored in the refrigerator for a week. You can even freeze it but taking chilled honey butter and placing it in between some wax paper and wrapping plastic wrap around it.

Copycat Texas Roadhouse Butter

Servings:8 TABLESPOONS
Prep Time:5 MINS
Total Time:5 MINS 

This Copycat Texas Roadhouse Butter recipe needs nothing more than a little honey, butter, and 2 additional ingredients! Use this on homemade rolls, pancakes, sweet potatoes, and more!Ingredients

  • 1 stick salted butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1.5 Tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. For a creamy consistency, ensure that your butter is very soft and has been at room temperature for at least an hour. Don’t heat it in the microwave to achieve this as it will mess with the consistency of the butter. Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer until it’s creamy and smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use and enjoy!

NUTRITION INFORMATION Calories: 127, Fat: 11 g, Saturated Fat: 7 g, Cholesterol: 30 mg, Sodium: 100 mg, Carbohydrates: 7 g, Sugar: 6 g, Vitamin A: 350%, Calcium: 5%

Author:Zeeshan
Course: SIDE DISH
Cuisine: AMERICAN

Yeast Types

Can you sort out yeast label confusion? And can they be substituted for each other?

Despite indications to the contrary—created by the commercial largesse of the yeast companies—there are only three types of yeast: fresh, active dry, and instant. All are derived from the powerful brewer’s yeast known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but each is processed from a slightly different strain of this protypical yeast.

Fresh, Compressed, or Cake Yeast

The original commercial yeast, known as fresh, compressed, or cake yeast is about 70 percent water by weight and is composed of 100 percent living cells. It is soft and crumbly and requires no proofing—fresh yeast will dissolve if it is simply rubbed into sugar or dropped into warm liquid. Owing to qualities associated with its strain, fresh yeast will produce the most carbon dioxide of all three types of yeasts during fermentation. Fresh yeast is considered fast, potent, and reliable, but it has a drawback: it is highly perishable and must be refrigerated and used before its expiry date.

Active Dry

Active dry yeasts arrive at their granular state by undergoing processes that reduce them to 95 percent dry matter. Traditional active dry yeast is exposed to heat so high that many of its cells are destroyed in the process. Because the spent outer cells encapsulate living centers, active dry yeast must first be dissolved in a relatively hot liquid (proofed) to slough off dead cells and reach the living centers.

Instant Yeasts (called “Instant,” “Rapid Rise,” or “Bread”)

Instant yeasts are also processed to 95 percent dry matter, but are subjected to a gentler drying process than active dry. As a result, every dried particle is living, or active. This means the yeast can be mixed directly with recipe ingredients without first being dissolved in water or proofed. It is in this context that the yeast is characterized as “instant.” We prefer instant yeast in the test kitchen. It combines the potency of fresh yeast with the convenience of active dry, and it is considered by some to have a cleaner flavor than active dry because it contains no dead cells. (In our months of testing, we found this to be true when we made a lean baguette dough but could detect no difference in flavor when using the two yeasts in doughs made with milk, sugar, and butter.)

Substitution Formulas

To substitute active dry for instant (or rapid rise) yeast: Use 25 percent more active dry. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of instant yeast, use 1 1/4 teaspoons of active dry. And don’t forget to “prove” the yeast, i.e. dissolving it in a portion of the water from the recipe, heated to 105 degrees.

To substitute instant (or rapid rise) yeast for active dry: Use about 25 percent less. For example if the recipe calls for 1 packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast, use 1 3/4 teaspoons of instant yeast. And you do not need to prove the yeast, just add it to the dry ingredients.

To substitute fresh yeast for active dry yeast, use a ratio of roughly 2:1, i.e. use one small cake (0.6 ounce) of compressed fresh yeast in lieu of 1 packet (.25 ounces) of active dry yeast.

Note a packet of active dry or instant yeast contains about 2 1/4 teaspoons (.25 ounces) of yeast.

Blackberry Cobbler

This easy Blackberry Cobbler recipe from The Pioneer Woman takes just 5 ingredients and 10 minutes to prepare. It’s got a sweet, juicy filling and a sugary golden crust!

Blacberry-Cobbler
Blacberry-Cobbler

But this recipe is amazing and requires absolutely no baking skills of any kind.

Let’s go over some really easy FAQ.

Ingredients-Blackberry-Cobbler
Ingredients-Blackberry-Cobbler

How to Tell if a Blackberry is Ripe

  • Ripe blackberries are deep black in color as opposed to purple or red.
  • They’re also very full and plump.

Using unripe blackberries will result in a sour taste as opposed to being sweet and juicy.

Different Berries for Cobbler

  • I love how the blackberries in this recipe are so big and juicy, but alternative options include blueberries, raspberries, strawberriespeaches, or a combination of several!
  • Frozen berries work well in this recipe as well, be sure to add them when they’re frozen. If you let them thaw, they’ll be mushy and the consistency will be off.
Blackberry-Cobbler-Before-and-after
Blackberry-Cobbler-Before-and-after

Self Rising Flour vs. All Purpose Flour

  • Self rising flour contains a leavening agent that helps make baked goods rise. It’s often used to make biscuits and other fluffy baked goods.

Homemade Self Rising Flour

  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt for each cup of flour.
Blacberry-Cobbler 2
Blacberry-Cobbler 2

How to Store Leftover Cobbler

  • Baked Cobbler can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Freezing Leftover Cobbler

  • This Cobbler can be frozen and it’s best if you do so after it’s been baked due to the leavening agent in the flour.
  • To reheat, let it thaw overnight and bake it in a covered oven-safe dish at 350° until heated through. The amount of time will depend on how much you’re heating.
  • You can also reheat in the microwave.

Best Pan Sizes For This Recipe

  • I use my trusty 9 x 13 inch pan for this recipe and it works perfectly.
  • 9 x 9 inch pan would work well too.

What to Serve with Blackberry Cobbler

  • Just kidding. I just want to see if you’re paying attention. The obvious answer is vanilla ice cream.
  • Should you choose to omit this very important addition, I will find you…ice cream in hand.
Blackberry-Cobbler-Recipe
Blackberry-Cobbler-Recipe

The Pioneer Women’s Blackberry Cobbler

Servings:4

Prep Time:10 MINS
Cook Time:2 HRS
Total Time:2 HRS 10 MINS

This easy Blackberry Cobbler recipe from The Pioneer Woman takes just 5 ingredients and 10 minutes to prepare. It’s got a sweet, juicy filling and a crisp golden crust!Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar separated
  • 1 cup self-rising flour* see notes for easy homemade version
  • 1 cup whole milk see notes
  • 1/2 stick butter melted
  • 2 cups fresh (or frozeblackberries rinsed and patted dry.
  • Vanilla ice cream for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of flour in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in the milk, then the melted butter. Mix until well-combined.
  4. Pour onto the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish.
  5. Distribute the berries throughout the top. (They’ll sink in further as they bake.)
  6. Sprinkle ¼ cup sugar over the top, reserving 2 tablespoons for later.
  7. Bake for 50 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar on top.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  9. Serve immediately, (with ice cream of course)!

Recipe Notes

*Although the original recipe calls for whole milk, I’ve used 1% before and it comes out great.

Homemade Self Rising Flour:

  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt for each cup of flour.

Different Berries for Cobbler

  • I love how the blackberries in this recipe are so big and juicy, but alternative options include blueberries, raspberries, strawberriespeaches, or a combination of several!
  • Frozen berries work well in this recipe as well, be sure to add them when they’re frozen. If you let them thaw, they’ll be mushy and the consistency will be off.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Calories: 424, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 29mg, Potassium: 228mg, Carbohydrates: 95g, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 69g, Protein: 7g, Vitamin A: 255%, Vitamin C: 15.1%, Calcium: 94%, Iron: 0.7%

Author: Zeeshan

Course: BREAKFAST, DESSERT
Cuisine: AMERICAN

How to Debone a Chicken Thigh

The first step to great food is great knife skills.

knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-01
knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-01

Recipes often call for boneless skinless chicken thighs, yet finding them in supermarkets can be a bit of a hassle. You’re far more likely to find bone-in thighs or even whole legs. Knowing how to take that bone out yourself will save you some hassle and provide you with some good bones for making stock in the process.

I’ve tried dozens of methods of boning chicken thighs. As it turns out, the easiest is also the one that provides the best yield, scraping every last bit of meat from the bone. Here’s how you do it.

Step 1: Locate the Joint

knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-02
knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-02

If you’re starting with whole chicken legs, you’ll have to remove the drumstick from the thigh. Place your thumb over the joint and move the thigh bone back and forth with your other hand to find the articulation point. This is where you’ll cut.

Step 2: Divide the Leg

knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-03
knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-03

Insert a sharp boning or paring knife into the joint. It should slide right through. If there is resistance, move the blade around until you find the space between the joints.

Step 3: Set Aside Drumstick

knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-04
knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-04

Set aside the drumstick for another use (they go great on the grill.

Step 4: Remove the Skin

knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-05
knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-05

Peel the skin off the chicken thigh using your hands.

Step 5: Trim Fat

knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-06
knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-06

Trim off any excess fat with your knife and discard.

Step 6: Find the Bone

knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-07
knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-07

Flip over the thigh so that the rough side is up and locate the single bone that runs through it. Your goal is to remove this bone with minimal damage to the meat.

Step 7: Make the First Incision

knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-08
knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-08

Keeping the fingers of your non-knife hand curled for protection (raw chicken can be slippery) and using the tip of the knife, score a line through the meat along the length of the bone.

Step 8: Expose Bone

knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-12
knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-12

Expose the top of the bone by using the tip of your knife in short, flicking motions, making sure to keep your fingers well away from the blade.

Step 9: Scrape the Bone

knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-10
knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-10

Grasp one end of the bone with your non-knife hand (a little piece of paper towel can help if it’s very slippery), then using the base of your knife, scrap the meat off of the bone in short, firm flicks. A boning knife should have a curved bolster designed for this task. If using a paring knife, just use the section of the knife closest to the handle.

Step 10: Separate Meat From Bone

knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-11
knife-skills-deboning-chicken-thigh-11

When the meat has been mostly scraped off the bone, separate the end of the bone completely from the meat. Trim away any gristle or bits of bone or cartilage that may have remained on the meat. Save bones for stock.

The Best General Tso’s Chicken Recipe

General Tso’s chicken gets a makeover with this homemade marinade, crisp coating, and sweet and salty glaze.

general-tsos-chicken-recipe-food-lab
general-tsos-chicken-recipe-food-lab

General Tso’s chicken, with an extra-crisp coating that stays crisp even when coated in a glossy sauce that balances sweet, savory, and tart elements.

Why this recipe works:

  • A balanced sauce has plenty of vinegary kick to balance out the cloying sweetness that most restaurant versions have.
  • Cooking the aromatics for the sauce at a lower temperature lets their flavors develop without having to superheat your wok or skillet.
  • We add vodka to our chicken coating. Its higher volatility and ability to inhibit gluten formation leaves you with a superior crisp crust.
  • Adding some of our marinade to our dry coating mixture creates little nuggets of coating that cling to the chicken pieces, adding more surface area for extra crunch.

Note: Shaoxing wine can be found in most Asian markets. If unavailable, dry sherry can be used in its place. If you can’t find boneless skinless chicken thighs, you can debone them yourself using this guide. If you can’t find whole dried chilies, substitute with 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.

  • YIELD:Serves 4 to 6 

Ingredients

  • For the Marinade:
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons 80-proof vodka
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks
  • For the Dry Coating
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons peanut, vegetable, or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (about one 1-inch piece)
  • 2 teaspoons minced scallion bottoms (about 1 scallion), plus 6 to 8 scallions, white parts only, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 8 small dried red Chinese or Arbol chilies (see note)
  • To Finish:
  • 1 1/2 quarts peanut, vegetable, or canola oil for deep frying
  • Steamed white rice for serving

Directions

  1. 1.For the Marinade: Beat egg whites in a large bowl until broken down and lightly foamy. Add soy sauce, wine, and vodka and whisk to combine. Set aside half of marinade in a small bowl. Add baking soda and corn starch to the large bowl and whisk to combine. Add chicken to large bowl and turn with fingers to coat thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  2. 2.For the Dry Coat: Combine flour, corn starch, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk until homogenous. Add reserved marinade and whisk until mixture has coarse, mealy clumps. Set aside.
  3. 3.For the Sauce: Combine soy sauce, wine, vinegar, chicken stock, sugar, sesame seed oil, and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir with a fork until cornstarch is dissolved and no lumps remain. Set aside.
  4. 4.Combine oil, garlic, ginger, minced scallions, and red chilies in a large skillet and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are aromatic and soft, but not browned, about 3 minutes. Stir sauce mixture and add to skillet, making sure to scrape out and sugar or starch that has sunk to the bottom. Cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Add scallion segments. Transfer sauce to a bowl to stop cooking, but don’t wipe out skillet.
  5. 5.To Finish: Heat 1 1/2 quarts peanut, vegetable, or canola oil in a large wok or Dutch oven to 350°F and adjust flame to maintain temperature.
  6. 6.Working one piece at a time, transfer chicken from marinade to dry coat mixture, tossing in between each addition to coat chicken. When all chicken is added to dry coat, toss with hands, pressing dry mixture onto chicken so it adheres, and making sure that every piece is coated thoroughly.
  7. 7.Lift chicken one piece at a time, shake off excess coating, and carefully lower into hot oil (do not drop it). Once all chicken is added, cook, agitating with long chopsticks or a metal spider, and adjusting flame to maintain a temperature of 325 to 375°F, until chicken is cooked through and very crispy, about 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to a paper towel-lined bowl to drain.
  8. 8.Add chicken to empty skillet and return sauce to skillet. Toss chicken, folding it with a rubber spatula until all pieces are thoroughly coated. Serve immediately with white rice.

One Pot Tomato Basil Pasta

This extra creamy tomato basil pasta is full of fresh flavor and takes just 30 minutes! It’s made with juicy cherry tomatoes, delicious fresh basil, a hint of sausagecheese-filled ravioli, and a delicious Parmesan cream sauce. This is truly restaurant quality!

Tomato Basil Pasta
Tomato Basil Pasta

Ingredients For Tomato Basil Pasta

  • Olive Oil
  • Ground Sausage– Either hot or sweet is fine!
  • Butter– The higher quality, the better. (You can even make your own!)
  • Garlic– Mince it yourself for ultimate flavor
  • Chicken Broth– Homemade is always  best!
  • Half and Half– You can also use heavy cream for extra indulgence. I don’t recommend milk as that can curdle much more easily.
  • Parmesan Cheese– High quality, finely grated yourself at home
  • Cream Cheese– At room temperature to ensure it smoothly combines with the sauce
  • Ravioli– Refrigerated and cheese-filled tastes best with this recipe.
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil
  • Red Pepper Flakes– Optional, adds a little kick!
  • Salt/Pepper– (You likely won’t need salt.)
Tomato Basil Pasta 2
Tomato Basil Pasta 2

How to Make Perfect Cream Sauce

  • Refrain from adding cold ingredients into warm sauce when you prepare it. This includes the Parmesan cheese, half and half, and cream cheese. The consistency will be super creamy if you follow this instruction.
  • Purchase a block of high-quality Parmesan cheese. Always shred the cheese yourself, it will taste and melt much better.
  • Let the cheese come to room temperature before adding it to the warm (not hot!base. 
  • Add the cheese gradually as opposed to all at once.

Tips For This Recipe

  • Cheese-filled ravioli is definitely my pasta of choice for this tomato basil pasta, refrigerated works best but frozen may also be used. Tortellini, Penne, and Linguine make great choices as well. Refer to package instructions for cooking times.
  • very large pan works best for this, you’ll need one with a lid. I always prefer to use a cast iron skillet.
  • Ground turkey may be used instead of sausage. Browning the meat in the skillet first adds tremendous flavor to the pan that transfers into the sauce.
  • I like to use slightly less than a pound of pasta for this recipe so that it’s extra saucy!
  • 1/4 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes may also be used instead of cherry tomatoes.

Storage

  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and is best if used with 3 days. Cream-based sauces are best if eaten fresh but you can still microwave leftovers.
  • This recipe doesn’t freeze too well as the dairy in the cream sauce separates and changes the consistency when reheated.
Tomato Basil Pasta with Sausage 3
Tomato Basil Pasta with Sausage 3

What To Serve With This Recipe:

Home made garlic bread

One Pot Tomato Basil Pasta

Servings:6

Prep Time:10 MINS
Cook Time:20 MINS
Toatal time : 30 MINS

This extra creamy tomato basil pasta is full of fresh flavor and takes just 30 minutes! It’s made with juicy cherry tomatoes, delicious fresh basil, a hint of sausage, cheese-filled ravioli, and a delicious Parmesan cream sauce. This is truly restaurant quality!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ lb. ground sausage hot or sweet
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese finely grated and at room temp.
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon cream cheese at room temp.
  • 1 pound refrigerated ravioli* see notes
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed basil leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes optional
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the sausage, cook and crumble until brown and cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chicken broth and half and half. Increase heat and bring to a boil, then decrease heat to a simmer.
  5. Gradually sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese, whisking well to incorporate.
  6. Whisk in the cream cheese until incorporated. It melts smoothly when at room temperature.
  7. Add the ravioli and then the tomatoes. Stir gently to combine into the sauce.
  8. Cover the pot, let it simmer according to time on package instructions. Mine took just 7 minutes.
  9. Stir in the basil leaves and add the sausage back to the pan. Add red pepper flakes if desired.
  10. Salt and pepper may be added, however it likely doesn’t need any additional salt.
  11. Turn off the heat. The sauce will continue to thicken upon standing.
  12. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

*I usually add slightly less than a pound of ravioli so that my pasta is extra saucy!

Recipe Substitutions:

  • Tortellini, Penne or linguini make good pasta choices as well, refer package instructions for cooking times.
  • Ground turkey may be used instead of sausage. Browning the meat in the skillet first adds tremendous flavor to the pan that transfers into the sauce.
  • 1/4 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes may also be used instead of cherry.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Calories: 474, Fat: 28 g, Saturated Fat: 12 g, Cholesterol: 94 mg, Sodium: 983 mg, Potassium: 232 mg, Carbohydrates: 35 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 21 g, Vitamin A: 497%, Vitamin C: 10%, Calcium: 138%, Iron: 9%

Course: MAIN COURSE
Cuisine: AMERICAN, ITALIAN
Author:Zeeshan

Super Simple Marinara Sauce

This homemade marinara sauce offers rich and lively tomato flavor. You’ll need only five basic pantry ingredients to make this delicious marinara sauce: good canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, dried oregano and olive oil. That’s it!

Instant-Pot-Spaghetti-and-meatsauce-1
Instant-Pot-Spaghetti-and-meatsauce-1

This version is my favorite, no contest.

marinara-sauce-ingredients
marinara-sauce-ingredients

This marinara is exceptionally easy to make, too, so it’s perfect for busy weeknights. You don’t even have to chop the onion and garlic. Yes,that’s right—just crank open a can of tomatoes, halve an onion and peel some garlic. You’re ready to go!

This sauce offers lovely, authentic Italian flavor after a 45-minute simmer. I tried to take shortcuts to make it even faster, but no amount of tomato paste, spices, salt or sugar will make up for lost time.

Bottom line: It’s impossible to achieve enchanting, long-simmered marinara flavor in under 45 minutes. So throw those ingredients in a pot, pour yourself a glass of wine and boil water for pasta. Dinner is almost ready.

I love that tomato sauce, but it doesn’t pass for marinara since it’s missing herbs, garlic and olive oil. So, I added dried oregano and two whole cloves of garlic (which you’ll smash against the side of the pan at the end).

I traded a reasonable amount of olive oil for the butter (you really don’t need to use a ton of olive oil here for rich flavor). I also added a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little kick, but those are optional.

marinara sauce making
marinara sauce making

Why is this the best marinara sauce?

Six reasons to love this recipe:

  • This marinara sauce recipe requires 5 basic ingredients and yields rich, authentic marinara flavor.
  • It’s super easy to make—no chopping required.
  • Unlike most store-bought sauces, this marinara is free of added sugar.
  • You can load up your pasta with as much of this wholesome sauce as you’d like. Tomatoes are good for you!
  • The recipe yields two cups of sauce and freezes well, so you might as well double the recipe. Just cook it in a bigger pot.
  • This marinara also makes an incredible pizza sauce. I made pizza with it and my friend remarked that it tastes like real-deal Italian pizza.
making of marinara sauce 2
making of marinara sauce 2

Super Simple Marinara Sauce

Author: Cookie and Kate Yield: 2 cups 1x

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Category: Sauce
Method: Stove top
Cuisine: Italian

This marinara sauce recipe is the best! You’ll only need 5 basic ingredients, and it’s so easy to make. No chopping required! Recipe yields 2 cups sauce (enough for 8 ounces pasta); double if desired.SCALE 1X2X3X

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes*
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, omit if sensitive to spice)
  • Salt, to taste (if necessary)
  • Optional, for serving: Cooked pasta, grated Parmesan cheese,chopped fresh basil, additional olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the tomatoes (with their juices), halved onion, garlic cloves, olive oil, oregano and red pepper flakes (if using).
  2. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of oil float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, and use a sturdy wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes against the side of the pot after about 15 minutes has passed.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and discard the onion. Smash the garlic cloves against the side of the pot with a fork, then stir the smashed garlic into the sauce. Do the same with any tiny onion pieces you might find. Use the wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes to your liking (you can blend this sauce smooth with an immersion blender or stand blender, if desired).
  4. Add salt, to taste (the tomatoes are already pretty salty, so you might just need a pinch). Serve warm. This sauce keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days. Freeze it for up to 6 months.

NOTES

*TOMATO NOTE: Using high quality tomatoes is key here.

Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

This Instant Pot Spaghetti has perfectly cooked spaghetti and a creamy meat sauce. An easy family dinner that’s ready in less than 30 minutes with only one pot to clean!

Instant-Pot-Spaghetti-and-meatsauce-1
Instant-Pot-Spaghetti-and-meatsauce-1

I strongly urge to to try this secret: add a dab or two of cream cheese to the pot once it’s all done. It mixes right in and makes the sauce so thick and creamy. You’ll seriously want to have spaghetti every night.

What Size Instant Pot did I use?

-Use 6-quart Instant Pot for this recipe, which is what I recommend for most families, and is what most Instant Pot recipes are based on. It can cook enough food for a family of four and won’t take as long to come to pressure as an 8 quart will.

How Long do you Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot?

Different types of pasta require slightly different amounts of cooking time. These regular spaghetti noodles take 8 minutes of pressure cooking time before the quick release valve is triggered and the noodles are cooked.

Tip: Be sure to properly stagger your noodles to prevent them from sticking together. (See image above!)

What if the Burn Indicator Turns on During Pressure Cooking?

-If you’re waiting for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure and notice a burn indicator, this is something that rectifies itself whenever I make this recipe and see that warning. It just takes a little bit of waiting before the pressure cooker will do it’s thing.

-The more I use the Instant Pot, the more I see this message. I’ve learned to basically ignore it as long as I know that I’ve done my due diligence in making sure I’ve removed any specs of meat on the bottom of the pan that may have gotten stuck during while sauteing. I do this before I add any other ingredients.

Adding vegetable oil on the bottom of the pan prior to browning the meat helps with this.

Making-Instant-Pot-Spaghetti-Meat-Sauce
Making-Instant-Pot-Spaghetti-Meat-Sauce

Can you Freeze Spaghetti?

Spaghetti is a great food to freezer for future meals. Here are some tips for success:

-Cook the pasta to the Al Dente Point, but no more. That way the pasta won’t be overcooked when you reheat it. For this recipe, the quick release of the pressure valve helps to halt the cooking process. It’s also best to avoid reheating the pasta again before you freeze it.

-I love to make easy foil packets for freezing these. I lay out strips of foil on the counter and use a big spoon to create portions of desired size on each one, then I wrap it into a neat packet, add the packets to a freezer bag, label it, and freeze! When you’re ready to eat, just pop the entire frozen foil packet in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or so.

-Ziploc bags are also convenient freezing vessels, just let out any extra air in the bag. Laying it flat and freezing it in a uniform rectangle shape will take up less freezer space but will also allow the pasta to thaw out at the same rate when you remove it from the freezer.

-Let the pasta thaw in the fridge before you reheat it. This is an easy lunch to take from the freezer because it’s usually pretty thawed out by the time lunch rolls around.

Instant-Pot-Spaghetti
Instant-Pot-Spaghetti

Best Marinara Sauce for Pasta

Marinara sauce is my sauce of choice for this dish.

Instant-Pot-Spaghetti-meat-sauce
Instant-Pot-Spaghetti-meat-sauce

Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Servings:4

Prep Time:10 MINS
Cook Time:15 MINS
Total Time:25 MINS 

This instant pot spaghetti has perfectly cooked spaghetti noodles simmered in a savory meat sauce. A simple family dinner that’s ready in less than 30 minutes with only a single pot to clean!


Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground beef I use 85% lean
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon Italian Seasonings
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • ½ pound spaghetti
  • 32 oz. high-quality spaghetti sauce (marinara sauce)
  • 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons cream cheese softened (optional, but recommended!)

Instructions

  1. Set the instant pot to Sautee. Add the vegetable oil and ground beef and seasonings. Cook and crumble the ground beef until it is browned and cooked through. Drain any excess grease if needed, and ensure there are barely any brown remnants left at the bottom of the pan to prevent the burning warning to appear when we pressure cook. The vegetable oil helps with this. 
  2. Break the spaghetti noodles in half. Crisscross them over the meat (this is done to prevent the noodles from sticking together).
  3. Pour the spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, and water over the noodles. Push the noodles down so that they are completely submerged in the liquid. It’s okay if they break a little bit as you do this.
  4. Cover/Seal the instant pot and set it to pressure cook for 8 minutes (Or, select the manual button and hit high pressure for 8 minutes). Note: It might sound like nothing is happening but if you put your ear up to the instant pot after a few minutes, you can hear it working.
  5. Turn the quick release valve to let all of the steam escape, and open the pot. (Do not let the pressure release naturally as this will overcook the pasta.)
  6. For thicker, creamier sauce, stir in the cream cheese. The spaghetti and sauce will continue to thicken upon standing. Serve, and enjoy!

NUTRITION INFORMATION Calories: 597, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 88mg, Sodium: 1444mg, Potassium: 1386mg, Carbohydrates: 59g, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 13g, Protein: 31g, Vitamin A: 1200%, Vitamin C: 25.4%, Calcium: 108%, Iron: 6.3%

Author:Zeeshan
Course: MAIN COURSE
Cuisine: AMERICAN, ITALIAN