Tag Archives: Cookie

Red Velvet Hamantaschen

The Jewish festival of Purim celebrates the defeat of Haman’s plot of destroy the Jews in ancient Persia as recorded in the book of Esther. It is a happy holiday with costumes and celebrations. My favorite part is the food, of course, particularly the hamantaschen. Hamantaschen are triangular pastries, traditionally filled with poppy seeds, but now they come in a wide variety of flavors. The triangular appearance of these yummy treats may originate from the shape of Haman’s hat. Purim is also associated with the gifting of food, mishloach manot, and hamantaschen are usually part of the package. I have fond memories of my grandmother mailing us a shoebox stuffed with hamantaschen each year, with filling flavors including peanut butter, cream cheese, apricot, and raspberry. It was always such a treat!

Hamantaschen

In order to build up a big stash of hamantaschen to gift, I got together with a few friends this weekend and we, along with our young kids to “help,”, made 5 different types of hamantaschen ranging from traditional fruit filled, to rainbow (super gorgeous and impressive), to black and white (yummy but not so triangular) to red velvet. The Red Velvet Hamantaschen were a last minute addition to our repertoire but were a perfect foil to my grandmother’s traditional cream cheese filling, looked gorgeous, and tasted great. And let’s be real, I just moved back to the south, so everything needs to be red velvet, right?

Red Velvet Hamantaschen

Some general pointers for Red Velvet Hamantaschen and hamantaschen in general:

  • Refrigerate the dough before trying to roll it out. It makes it less sticky and you want the dough to be fairly cold when you bake it so it holds it shape and doesn’t spread out everywhere, because spreading dough causes spreading topping and those usually aren’t so triangular.
  • Do not overfill your hamantaschen. It is tempting to pile in the filling. Restrain yourself. Otherwise it’ll leak out and make a big mess on your cookie sheet.
  • For the red velvet goodies, roll out the dough on a cutting board or parchment paper. You don’t want to risk the red food dye staining your counter. Or your hands…just be careful during the preparing the dough process. I didn’t have much trouble with red hands while rolling out the dough.
  • Make sure the hamantaschen sides are well sealed before baking. You can use the “pinch” method or the “fold” method to seal the edges but just do something to prevent the filling from leaking.

Hamantaschen

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Red Velvet Hamantaschen (adapted from The Holiday Kosher Baker)

Yield: 18-24 hamantaschen

Ingredients for Dough:

3 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 teaspoons red gel food coloring

3 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for rolling out the dough)

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

Ingredients for Filling:

1/2 pound (8 oz. block) cream cheese

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add in the food coloring and mix until well blended and the color is uniform throughout.
  2. Add in the flour, cocoa, and mix until combined.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing together all of the ingredients until well blended. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes prior to using.
  5. After an hour, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 2 cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  6. On a cutting board or parchment paper sprinkled lightly with flour, roll out the dough until about 1/4-inch thick. Turn over the dough at least once while rolling it out to make sure it’s not sticking too much underneath.
  7. Using a 2-3 inch diameter drinking glass or cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles. Collect the scraps and roll out again to make more circles until all the dough is used up. Place about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese filling in the center of each circle.
  8. Fold the 3 sides into the middle to form a triangle, making sure to pinch carefully along each edge to avoid leaking filling.
  9. Bake for 14-16 minutes until the cookies are set. Carefully transfer to cooling racks.
  10. Store in airtight containers at room temperature. Can also be frozen for several months.

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Gingerbread Blossom Cookies

I know, I know. It’s very last minute to share this holiday cookie recipe with you. After all we’ve already lit the last Hanukkah candle, and Christmas Eve is upon us. But just in case you’re still looking for a delicious treat to enjoy this holiday season, I figured I’d still share these tasty Gingerbread Blossom Cookies. I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while, but somehow 6 Hanukkah events plus 3 traditional holiday parties plus seemingly hundreds of potato latkes, a toddler, and a job got in between me and my blog. But anyhow, gingerbread is so good you can enjoy it well after the holiday season passes.

gingerbread blossom 1

I was lucky enough to receive a bag of Hershey’s Kisses from Influenster and I knew I wanted to bake something with them, though I have to say, I was tempted to unwrap one of those shiny little Kisses and dig in as soon as I opened my box from Influenster. I spent some time researching Hershey’s Kiss recipes. And believe me, there are tons out there on the internet. I know the Peanut Butter Blossom cookies are somewhat traditional this time of year, and even showed up in my Hershey’s cookbook, but since I really love the flavors in gingerbread, I figured I’d veer slightly off the peanut butter path (though chocolate and peanut butter in combination are pretty darn delicious too) to the gingerbread world.

gingerbread blossom 2

The final product is amazing. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside ginger cookies, complete with a smooth chocolate-y Kisses perched on top. I hope you enjoy a wonderful and sweet holiday season with your friends and family and I’m looking forward to sharing more recipes on The Dinner Pages in the coming year.

gingerbread blossom 3(I’ll make sure to come back and share my yummy Pistachio Blossom cookie recipe one day soon!)

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Gingerbread Blossom Cookies (adapted from Cinnamon-Spice & Everything Nice)

Yield: 4-5 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup turbinado (or granulated)

48-60 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Gradually add in the dry ingredients on low speed until fully mixed. Remove from the bowl, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, coat all over in turbinado sugar, and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silpats.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. The edges of cookies will just begin to brown. Remove from the oven and immediately press an unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss into the center of each cookie.
  6. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

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Here’s another yummy ginger cookie recipe from The Dinner Pages!

 

What's Baking Badge

 

I received Hershey’s Kisses complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes but all opinions are my own.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Mini M&Ms

When thinking about cookies, there’s nothing like the classic chocolate chip cookie. And you’re in luck because today, May 15, is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, so I am going to share a delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe with you. Today is also my little brother’s birthday…so have a cookie on me, Scotty!

M+M chocolate chip cookies

These cookies bring you all the flavors you’d expect from a standard chocolate chip cookie–with a twist, teeny tiny little mini M&M’s. While these cookies are as chewy as a chocolate chip cookie should be, with the wonderful flavors of cookie dough ice cream thanks to a bonus of vanilla pudding in the batter, the mini M&M’s add just a touch of crunch. Delish!

M+M chocolate chip cookies

Just to highlight how yummy these cookies are, I was approached by one of my son’s daycare teachers who, after I gave her a batch as part of her holiday gift in December, asked me if she could pay me to bake her more of these cookies. Of course I was more than happy to oblige (and no, of course I couldn’t accept payment from one of my son’s favorite teachers). It made me happy though, because I’m not a professional chef/baker so I was thrilled that someone loved my baking that much that they would pay to eat these cookies!

M+M chocolate chip cookies

So give yourself and your loved ones a treat today, with Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Mini M&Ms!

M+M chocolate chip cookies

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Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Mini M&M’s (adapted from Mommy on Demand)

Yield: 6 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1.7 ounce box vanilla pudding (I used sugar free)
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini M&M’s (the entire 12 ounce bag)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add in vanilla extract, then the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

3. Add the baking soda, salt, flour, and vanilla pudding and beat until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and M&M’s.

4. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
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Ebony and Ivory: Passover Cookies Two Ways

Whether you celebrate Passover or not, try these Mexican Chocolate Passover Cookies and Passover Chocolate Chip Blondies!

DSC_0590

I was really excited about this month’s Improv Cooking Challenge and creating a recipe on the Ebony and Ivory theme. But, life happened, and I’ve got a lot going on right now so my writing has taken a bit of a back burner even though I’ve still been cooking up a storm and building up my repertoire of recipes to share later on. So I was going to bow out of the challenge. However when doing my Passover baking I realized the desserts I was already planning to make would be perfect. Alone, they both qualify as ebony and ivory. The Mexican Chocolate Cookies are lovely dark treats with a crispy outside and chewy interior, lightened in color by a coat of powdered sugar. In contrast, my Passover Blondies are, well, blonde in color (we’ll call it ivory) and studded with yummy ebony chocolate chips. So they’re both black and white and together, as you can see, they exemplify light and dark, ebony and ivory.

Passover Cookies Two Ways

Now as some of you may know, Passover can be challenging to bake for since a lot of my typical ingredients for baking are out of the question. No flour is a big one. So creativity is essential to come up with substitutions that don’t taste like cardboard. I’m proud to say that my Passover guests agreed that these desserts would be delicious year round. One other great thing about both of these recipes is that they’re both gluten free and dairy free too.

Mexican Chocolate Passover Cookies

Just as a heads up, both recipes take a little bit of planning ahead, the Mexican Chocolate Cookies because the dough needs to be refrigerated for several hours or overnight before shaping and baking, and the blondies because you need vanilla sugar. Now if you already have vanilla sugar you’re golden, but if not it takes 24 hours to make. But overall they are both easy without excessive hands on time.

Passover Chocolate Chip Blondies

These desserts are lovely to serve as a seder dessert (so pin for next year, I know I’m a little late for this year but I couldn’t get the cleaning, prepping, baking, AND blogging done in advance) but they are truly fantastic anytime during Passover or otherwise. Despite my Ebony and Ivory theme, no need to be strictly black and white and only enjoy these treats during Passover!

Passover Cookies Two Ways

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Mexican Chocolate Passover Cookies (adapted from The Holiday Kosher Baker)

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup potato starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

1. In a mixing bowl combine the oil, sugar, cocoa, eggs, and vanilla. Then add in the potato starch, salt, and cinnamon and mix until fully combined. Refrigerate overnight (I refrigerated mine for 7 hours which was enough).

2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll walnut sized pieces of cookie dough in confectioners’ sugar then place on the cookie sheet at least 1 1/2 inches apart.

3. Bake for 14 minutes. The cookies will still be somewhat soft, but not raw. Let cool slightly then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Passover Chocolate Chip Blondies (adapted from The Holiday Kosher Baker)

Yield: 24 bars

nonstick cooking spray

2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (see below)

3 1/4 cups ground almonds or almond meal

1/4 cup potato starch

1 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray then fit in a piece of parchment paper to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Coat the parchment with cooking spray as well.

2. Beat together the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla sugar in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add in the ground almonds and potato starch and mix fully. Stir in the chocolate chips, then add the batter to the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the edges are brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool then remove the parchment paper from the pan and cut into bars.

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Vanilla Sugar

Yield: 1 cup

Slice a vanilla bean down its entire length. Add to a container of granulated sugar. Cover and let sit overnight.

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Check out other bloggers’ takes on the Ebony and Ivory Improv Cooking Challenge theme here:

Chinese Almond Cookies

Chinese New Year is this week. This year is the year of the Horse. Now, I’m not Chinese but I am all about celebrating any holiday that involves good cuisine, plus I think their zodiac characteristics are interesting. I was born in the year of the Sheep. Supposedly that means I’m wise, gentle, and compassionate (hopefully true) but also a worrier (definitely true) and weak-willed and puzzled about life (not true at all, I’m fairly outspoken and very determined and driven). My baby was born in the year of the Dragon. Apparently this has a high reputation in Chinese culture and I hope for him, that this bodes well for his future success.

Chinese Almond Cookies

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while (well it’s only been around for 3 months so no one has been reading it for a long while), you may have noticed that I post a lot of recipes featuring Asian style ingredients and flavors. We are huge fans of the varied cuisines from all across Asia and since having a baby we don’t get out quite as much as we used to so we try to replicate these meals at home. One thing I miss about the Chinese buffets we used to eat at from time to time was the almond cookies for dessert. After a heavy meals, the almond flavored cookies always hit the spot. They’re less bland than fortune cookies but aren’t overly filling to tip you over from pleasantly full to overstuffed, as can so easily happen at a buffet. These homemade cookies are a bit cakier than those at the buffets however they’re still nice and crispy.

Chinese Almond Cookies

I’m celebrating the Chinese New Year with a batch of these Almond Cookies. And maybe some Lo Mein or Asian Glazed Chicken Wings while I ponder my fate after being born in the Year of the Sheep. Under what Chinese zodiac sign were you born under? Do the characteristics fit?

Chinese Almond Cookies

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Chinese Almond Cookies (adapted from Great Cookies)

Yield: approximately 40 cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

40 whole blanched almonds (about 1/3 cup)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line 2 cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the shortening and 3/4 cup sugar with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat to combine, then add the almond extract.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients and beat until combined.

5. Place rounded walnut-sized balls of dough (heaping teaspoonfuls) onto the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart and flatten slightly with your palm to make a 1 1/2 inch round.

6. Brush the cookies with the egg white and water wash. Top with a blanched almond and lightly sprinkle with the remaining granulated sugar.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.

Per cookie: 88 calories, 5 grams fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)

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Homemade Graham Crackers

Graham crackers were originally created to be a health food, containing whole wheat flour, wheat bran, and wheat germ. Despite that they still contain “graham flour,” which is a whole wheat flour consisting of those elements, it’s hard to argue that the wafers sold by many commercial companies are really all that nutritious. Nonetheless, they are still popular as crusts for cheesecake and key lime pie, as s’mores of course, and as a frequent snack in daycares and preschools.

When my little son isn’t at daycare, I do my best to cook from scratch for my him because I like to know what he is eating and everything tastes better when made with love, right? So I was thinking back to 8 years ago when I first starting cooking my way through Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. It was my project for quite awhile to bake every recipe in that book. I had to give it up because buying butter in bulk at Costco got old and life just got in the way, but it is a task I hope to complete. Someday.

Anyway, I remembered that I had once made graham crackers from scratch and even found some notes in the margins of my trusty cookbook urging me to make them again sometime, since the first time around I mostly used the dough to make a crust for a key lime tart. So I decided to revive this recipe.

Homemade Graham Crackers

Making graham crackers is totally worthwhile but isn’t the quickest endeavor. It took about 2 to 3 hours of my afternoon to complete. The first hurdle was finding graham flour. Surprisingly, I ended up getting it at Walmart. The bag actually said whole wheat flour but the label under it said “graham flour” so I looked a little closer at the bag and it had the story of Reverend Graham who first created this food. I understand you can make your own graham flour by combining white flour with wheat bran and wheat germ; I haven’t personally tried this to see the outcome.

Making graham crackers starts off like most cookie doughs, by combining the dry ingredients in a bowl, then creaming butter, brown sugar, and honey in the bowl of an electric mixer. The dry ingredients are then added to the mixing bowl until the mixture is well combined. A somewhat dry dough is the result.

The dough is then separated into 4 sections, each of which is rolled out into a 1/8-inch thin slab between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Use the parchment paper. I tried to skip that step but quickly realized that like graham crackers, the dough is crumbly and would easily break when rolling it out with the rolling pin unless stuck between the parchment paper.

Graham Crackers

Once the dough is rolled out, it should be cut with a pastry wheel into an approximately 9×6-inch rectangle. Within that rectangle each piece should be lightly scored with the pastry wheel so that the graham crackers can be broken on the lines after they’re baked. If you don’t have a pastry wheel you can use a butter knife, but the edges won’t be quite as decorative.

Graham Crackers

Once all the dough is rolled out and cut into rectangles, the dough, sandwiched in parchment, can be stacked in a layer and should be frozen for 20 minutes, until firm. The dough is then removed from the freezer, and pierced with the tines of a fork, then baked on an ungreased cookie sheet (still on parchment) until golden brown, for approximately 15 to 18 minutes.

Graham Crackers

After they’re fully cooled, the graham crackers can be broken into individual pieces along the perforations made from the pastry wheel.

I’ll admit these treats do not taste exactly like graham crackers. Their buttery flavor elicits notes of a shortbread cookie but there is definitely an essence of graham cracker while you’re chewing. If you use it for a pie crust it’ll taste even better than the usual graham cracker crust. I love them. And my son loved them too. I kind of wish he didn’t know the word cookie already, but at least if he is going to be asking for cookies, I’m happy to share my own baking with him. And they’re a health food, right?

Graham Crackers

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Graham Crackers (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook)

Yield: approximately 48 graham crackers

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/2 cups graham flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons honey

Directions:

1. Combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and honey on medium speed until creamy. Slowly add in the flour mixture, beating on low speed, until fully combined.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into four equal pieces. Between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out each piece of dough until about 1/8-inch thick. With a pastry wheel, cut the edges into a 9×6-inch rectangle. Within the rectangle, lightly score the dough to form individual crackers in desired size. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

4. After all the dough has been rolled and cut out, stack the dough/parchment layers on a baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes, until firm.

5. Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the dough from the freezer and prick in a decorative pattern with a fork. Place onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until dark golden brown. Carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool, prior to breaking into individual crackers.

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Gingersnap Meatballs

Did you get too many gingersnaps at your cookie exchange? Did you bake the White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies but not dip them in the chocolate yet? Do you just love gingersnaps and their spicy tangy flavor? Gingersnap meatballs are fantastic year round but they’re an especially good use of leftover ginger cookies around the holidays, even the slightly stale ones at the bottom of your cookie exchange container.

Gingersnap Meatballs

This recipe really is one of my favorites. I’m not a huge meat eater, but this is one of those dinners that I crave. How much do I love this? The night before I went into the hospital to give birth to my son, what did I do? I should have slept. But no, instead I made a big batch of these meatballs to freeze for a treat on one of the (many) nights I was too exhausted from my newborn to cook. Granted in my 9 month pregnant state I’ll admit I ate quite of few of them before freezing but anyway, they’re that good.

Gingersnap Meatballs

The meatballs are fairly standard to start with, ground beef, minced onion, bread crumbs (I use panko), salt, pepper, and some lemon juice and water. I browned them lightly in a skillet then removed them. They still get more cooking time later so they were still a touch pink inside.

Gingersnap Meatballs

The amazing part of these meatballs is their sauce. It’s almost like eating candy! The gingersnap crumbs and brown sugar caramelize and become a thick delicious, almost syrupy, sauce. Combined with the pan drippings from the browned beef, the sauce is unforgettable. After letting the meatballs simmer in the sauce for 15 minutes, they, too, become delightfully sweet. I like to serve these meatballs over pasta as a nice plain contrast to their sweetness. This recipes doubles well, if you want to freeze some for later…that is, if you can keep yourself from eating the leftovers.

Gingersnap Meatballs

A few notes:

-I use panko bread crumbs because they are dairy free. Other plain bread crumbs would be fine as well

-Save time by mincing the onion in a mini food processor. Since you have to grind up the gingersnaps anyway, you’re not adding extra dishes to wash

-It can be a bit challenging to find dairy-free gingersnaps at the store. Check the organic foods section; I usually have better luck there. Or just make your own…

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Gingersnap Meatballs (adapted from The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking)

Yield: about 25 1-inch meatballs (serves 4)

1 pound lean ground beef

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1 medium onion, minced fine

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided

2 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons margarine or shortening

2 1/2 cups beef broth

1/2 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup gingersnap crumbs (approximately 15 gingersnaps)

Directions:

1. In a large bowl combine the beef, bread crumbs, onion, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and the water. Form into 1-inch meatballs.

2. In a large skillet, heat the shortening on medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook until lightly browned and almost cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the skillet.

3. To the pan drippings in the skillet, carefully add the beef broth and remaining tablespoon of lemon juice (there may be steam) and gently scrape the bottom of the pan to combine the drippings with the liquids. Once it comes to a boil, add the sugar and gingersnap crumbs and stir until combined.

4. Return the meatballs to the skillet and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Then stir gently and simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes. Serve over pasta.

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