Sunday, November 1, 2015

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (GCE)

I've been making my usual whole wheat pizza dough for years. We love it, but it makes two medium pizzas, rather than two large unless you like extremely thin crust pizza. My husband does love thin crust, which is why I've made it for years that way (plus the associated calorie savings). However, with two hungry toddlers, one who's particularly finicky about toppings and might only eat cheese and crust some days, I decided to look for a dough recipe that would allow me to make thicker crust pizzas. This recipe comes from one of my favorite food blogs, Good Cheap Eats. I modified it a bit to use some white whole wheat flour and optional King Arthur Pizza seasoning, which is basically a cheese and garlic powder (and a was total impulse buy that I've come to really love).

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 1/2 cups bread flour (or all purpose)
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
4 teaspoons King Arthur Pizza Dough Flavor
1 tablespoon yeast

Mix ingredients together in the order required for your breadmaker. Set to "dough" cycle. I bake my pizzas at 450 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.

Makes 2 large pizzas

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Apple Pie

This recipe from Living on a Dime was just the thing for the first recipe made with the 20 pounds of apples we picked this weekend. Sweet, but not too sweet, it complemented the slightly salty pie crust perfectly. Other than omitting the nutmeg in favor of more cinnamon, I followed the recipe precisely as written. I used a combination of Ida and Mitsu apples.

Apple Pie

6-7 cups of medium apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. butter
double pie crust

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl except the butter. Pour into the pie crust. Dot with chunks of the butter and top with the other crust. Cut steam slits in the top crust and sprinkle the top with sugar. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Then turn down to 350 degrees and bake for 35-45 minutes, until apples are tender and juices are bubbling nicely out of the steam slits.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Grilled Steak Salad with Gorgonzola and Pine Nuts

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Steak Salad with Gorgonzola and Pine Nuts
2 1-lb sirloin or top round steaks, about 1" thick
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 TBS red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic, minced
8 c mixed greens
3 TBS pine nuts, toasted
6 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Season steak with salt and pepper and grill or pan fry until desired degree of doneness. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing thin.

Whisk together rosemary, red wine vinegar, mustard, and garlic.

Toss greens with dressing, then top with sliced meat, pine nuts, and cheese.

Serves 4

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Halloween Pillows

A couple of years ago I became obsessed with making pillow covers. It's a quick and easy sewing project that results in a fresh look for the whole room. Now as each holiday season rolls around, I hit the holiday fabric section at Joann's when the sales are good and whip up a set for us or to gift. Sometimes, however, my fabric buying gets ahead of my crafting time. I purchased this fabric last year, but never got around to putting it to use.

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Since these all fit so nicely on one couch, I think I need to think about acquiring more pillow for the other couch and chairs. :)

MS Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake - My birthday cake!

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I turned 36 this year. Surprisingly, it was a bigger deal for me than turning 35. Possibly because last year I was 7 and 1/2 months pregnant or because my husband was working 12-hour night shifts or because my toddler was going through an extremely difficult sleep stage, I just didn't have time to worry about it. This year, however, I felt like 40 is knocking at my door. I'm definitely not grown up enough to be 40! Anyway, what better thing to do than celebrate with an obnoxiously decadent cake? I didn't want to go too crazy as I have a toddler and a 10 and 1/2 month old underfoot, but I did want something fancier than my regular cake. I'd pinned this recipe from Martha Stewart some time ago and decided it try it.

With loads of butter, eggs, and chocolate, this is quite a dessert. The actual cake is surprisingly quite light and fluffy. While I won't say that it is a complicated recipe, there are a number of steps. I actually messed up the caramel because you're meant to bring it to the soft-ball temperature in candy-making 238 degrees). However, the darn mixture kept boiling over even after I switched to a larger pot. So I gave up about 5 degrees short, which yielded a runnier caramel, which is perfect for ice cream. Luckily, when the buttercream hardens it holds the cake together beautifully, so it's not a huge deal. Enjoy!

MS Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake
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For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Sift flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, 1 1/2 cups warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Divide batter among pans. Bake until cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool in pans set on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks, and let cool completely.

For the caramel:
4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 sticks cold butter, cut into tablespoons

Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, without stirring, until mixture is dark amber, about 14 minutes. Remove from heat, and carefully pour in cream (mixture will spatter); stir until smooth. Return to heat, and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees, about 2 minutes. Pour caramel into a medium bowl, stir in 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Let cool completely.

For the frosting:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Coarse salt
1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
Coarse sea salt for garnish.

Whisk together cocoa and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water in a bowl until cocoa dissolves. Beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and a generous pinch of coarse salt in a clean bowl with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in melted chocolate and then cocoa mixture until combined. Let stand for 30 minutes before using.

To assemble the cake:
Trim tops of cakes using a serrated knife to create a level surface. Cut each in half horizontally to form 2 layers. Transfer 1 layer to a serving platter, and spread 3/4 cup caramel over. top. Top with another cake layer, and repeat with remaining caramel and cake layers, leaving top uncovered. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

Frost top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Cake layers and caramel can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Martha notes that they actually taste better when refrigerated and have a better texture for stacking. Bring the caramel to room temperature before using. The frosted cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.  photo IMG_6145.jpg

1st Birthday Cake - Yellow Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Well, I'm only about six months overdue in posting this creation, but better late than never, right? I started drafting this post ages ago but never published it....

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My younger son turned 1 year old! I have no clue where the previous year went. I still vividly remember all the blood tests, weekly doctor's appointments, and worrying about what we'd do with our toddler during delivery and subsequent stay in the hospital. Amusingly, my husband actually didn't remember that our awesome babysitter stayed at our house for 2 or 3 days while we were in the hospital and apparently thought our son had stayed with friends instead). Rather a big memory glitch in my opinion as one of the reasons I embarked on a mad hunt to find reliable paid care for our hospital stay as our closest friends live at least 45 minutes away. Plus, they have jobs and children of their own which might have made it challenging to drop everything and take our older child. Baby #2 arrived about 3.5 hours after I checked into the hospital and maybe a mere 4 hours since I was sitting in my OB's office telling her that I didn't think I was in labor only to find out I was more than 7 cm dilated. (*Sigh) Yet another opportunity for my husband to say "I told you so."
Getting off track here.

For my baby's birthday for whatever reason I thought he seemed like a white cake kind of guy. I love chocolate cake and had made my favorite chocolate cake for my older son's first birthday two years ago, but somehow I thought Baby #2 wanted a vanilla cake with a vanilla buttercream frosting. Hitting the cookbooks, I used a cake recipe from my big Gourmet cookbook and a frosting recipe from an old copy of Betty Crocker's Baking Classics.

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Yellow Cake
2 3/4 c sifted cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 TBS butter (1.5 sticks), softened
1 1/2 c sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1.2 tsp vanilla
1 c whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two cake pans by lining them with parchment paper or buttering and flouring them.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and continue beating for 5 minutes more. With the mixer on low, gradually add flour and milk in batches until mixture is smooth.

Divide mixture evenly into pans. Bake 20-25 minutes until tester comes out clean and cakes are beginning to pull away from sides of pans. Cool 5 minutes in pan, then remove cake from pan to cool completely before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream
1/2 c butter, softened
4 c powdered sugar
2 TBS milk
2 tsp vanilla

Mix butter and powdered sugar until well combined. Beat in milk and vanilla until desired smooth consistency is reached.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

MS Basic Pancakes Made With Whole Wheat Flour

I've never been in search of the perfect fluffy pancake recipe. I simply want a pancake that's tasty, whips up easily and isn't too unhealthy. With a little tweaking, Martha Stewart's Easy Basic Pancakes fit the bill. To feed my growing family of four with a few leftovers for the freezer, I always double the recipe. This morning on a whim I decided to use whole wheat pastry flour, which tasted just fine, but made for a thinner batter. I simply added an extra 1/4 cup and all was well in toddlerland.

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MS Basic Pancakes
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or 2 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour)
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted, vegetable oil, applesauce or a combination thereof (I used 2 TBS butter and 2 TBS canola oil)
2 large eggs

Whisk together dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add eggs and butter, oil, etc. Gently combine while adding milk until a smooth consistency is reached. Allow to rest for a few minutes while you preheat your griddle to 350 degrees or skillet to medium. Grease cooking surface lightly with oil.

Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip carefully and cook until browned on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in oven on low. Continue with more oil and remaining batter. Makes about 24 2-3" pancakes

Friday, May 1, 2015

KA Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Okay, I'm about a month and a half overdue in posting this recipe, which I made for dessert on St. Patty's Day. Someone told me oatmeal cookies were most appropriate, however, I was in the mood for chocolate. These cookies from King Arthur barely lasted the day. I made them a touch healthier by using white whole wheat flour which made for a slightly hardier cookie.

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King Arthur Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups white whole wheat (or all purpose) flour
1 cup oats (either rolled or quick)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

Cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla one at a time, beating well after each.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture in the bowl and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop or rounded tablespoon, fill cookie sheets, leaving about 1 1/2" to 2" between cookies.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies are a light golden brown, with slightly darker edges.

Cool on pan for a few minutes before removing to racks.

Yield 4-5 dozen (1-2") cookies

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Black Bean Burritos

I'm such a meat-lover when it comes to burritos (I blame Chipotle and this place called Marivillas by my college) that I didn't think a meatless version would cut it. However, I absolutely love roasted sweet potatoes and black beans so I was willing to try this recipe from the Tasty Kitchen. These are a hit and I make them probably at least once a month. These freeze great and are perfect for lunch (especially if you have 2) or a substantial snack. Any leftover filling works great on a salad, too, which means there's no guilt in getting bored folding burritos after you've made enough for dinner and a snack (a common occurrence for me since I'm not terribly adept at it). I regularly omit the jalepenos and use whatever onions I have on hand.

No pictures as these rarely last long around here!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Black Bean Burritos
2 whole sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed 1/2"
2 whole jalapenos minced
1 whole red pepper, diced small
1 whole red onion, diced small
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
1 can (15 Oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cups cilantro - I omit
2 teaspoons lime juice - I occasionally omit
2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican blend
8-10 burrito-sized wheat tortillas
Salsa and sour cream for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss veggies with olive oil and season with spices. Place on a large baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender, turning halfway for even cooking.

In a large bowl, toss roasted veggies and black beans. Add cilantro and lime juice, if using,

If desired, warm tortillas in a microwave for easier folding. Add 2-4 tablespoons of filling to a tortilla and sprinkle with cheese. Fold top, then sides, and roll to close.

At this point, I often wrap the burritos in foil for freezing.

To bake, in a preheated 375 degree oven bake burritos seam-side down for 15-20 minutes until top is golden brown. (For a faster treat, especially if frozen, microwave each burritos for 2-3 minutes than crisp them under the broiler or on the stove.)

Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Makes 8-10 burritos (approximately 4 servings)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Fresh Tomato Sauce

I started writing this post last fall, but never finished it. Now with tomato season practically around the corner, it's practically timely!

No pictures for this post, but I wanted to get it up before I misplaced my notes or forgot entirely. This summer has been a great one for tomatoes. I had some success in growing cherry tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes in pots on my deck, and have received a ton in my produce box. Though I love fresh tomatoes in salads and cooked on margarita pizza, we got a lot of tomatoes. So I hit the internet for a tomato sauce recipe. I came across this one from Oh She Glows and doctored it up a bit. It's been a hit both with pasta and on pizza. I especially love it because it cooks up in much less time than my slow cooker marinara sauce

Fresh Tomato Sauce

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, diced (about 1/2 large sweet onion or 1 small yellow onion)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 large tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 3 cups diced)
1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1/4 c fresh)
6 oz tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoon brown sugar

Add the oil, onion, and garlic into a medium pot and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the diced tomatoes and increase heat to high-medium to bring to a low boil. When the mixture boils, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered, until most of the water cooks off. Stir often to prevent burning and adjust heat as needed to keep a simmer (not a boil).

Stir in tomato paste, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper, optional red pepper flakes to taste, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar. Continue cooking until thickened to your liking. The sauce will thicken a little more as it cools.

Serve chunky or puree, as desired.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Smokey Lentil Soup

I readily admit that I am terrible at food photography, but this has to be one of the most unappetizing-looking dishes I've ever posted. Don't let that fool you! This soup is delicious. It's hearty, intensely flavorful without a lot of ingredients, and perfect for a rainy (or snowy) day.

I've been trying to explore the world of meatless dishes, particularly those that aren't dependent on cheese for protein. My toddler lives on cheese and bread and my husband loves cheese pizza and quesadillas, so let's just say that I've bought more cheese in the last few years than I had in the prior 30-some years of my life combined. Anyway, I digress.

For this recipe, I used homemade turkey stock, which also probably oomphed up the flavor a bit, but I'm betting it's mostly the cumin. Maybe the roasted garlic? I also used sexy multi-colored organic carrots, but taste-wise a carrot is a carrot. We had this as our main dish for supper paired with crusty bread a couple evenings ago and then leftovers for lunch the next day.

I found this recipe on a blog called Dinner Was Delicious. The original called for double the lentils and stock, but being afraid that I was going to hate this soup, I halved the lentils, stock and spices, but kept the other ingredient quantities the same.

Smokey Lentil Soup
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4 cloves Garlic
1 Yellow Onion
4 Carrots
4 stalks Celery
1 cup Lentils
1.5 tsp Cumin
1 qt stock (vegetable, chicken or beef would work)
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp thyme or 1 fresh sprig
Olive oil, salt and pepper

Dry roast the garlic with their peels still on in a dutch oven over medium heat. Let them toast for a few minutes on each side until the skins are browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Roughly chop the Onion, Carrots, and Celery. Add the Olive Oil to the dutch oven and saute veggies until browned and fork tender, but not mushy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Peel and chop or smash the garlic and add it, the lentils, and cumin to the pot. Give the mixture a few stirs and add the stock, bay leaf, and thyme.

Bring mixture to a near boil, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until lentils are tender. (Mine also doubled in size.) Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig before serving.

Serves: 2-4

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Baked General Tso's Chicken - Our Best Bites

I first tried this recipe from Our Best Bites over the summer and completely forgot to post about it. Though it isn't the same as the fried stuff we get from our local Chinese takeout place, it's very tasty and loads healthier. The first time I made the recipe, I omitted the crushed red pepper flakes since I thought my picky toddler might like it better. This time I included them since he'd eaten his dinner before this meal was ready. Both ways work, depending on your taste. I highly recommend the chicken baked with corn flake crumbs idea--I had a hard time preventing my husband from eating the chicken pieces while I prepared the sauce.

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Baked General Tso's Chicken
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 egg whites (or 2 whites plus 1 egg)
5 cups corn flakes, finely crushed
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
1 2/3 cup water
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup apricot jam
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
nonstick oil spray

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet lined with foil. Spray rack with oil spray. Pour flour into a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Whisk egg whites until foamy in second shallow dish. Spread corn flakes crumbs into third shallow dish.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Working in batches, dredge chicken in flour, dip in egg whites, then coat with corn flakes. Place on prepared wire rack.

Spray or brush chicken with oil. Bake until chicken registers 160 degrees and coating is brown and crisp, 12-15 minutes.

To make sauce, whisk water, soy sauce, apricot jam, hoisin, cornstarch, and vinegar together in bowl. Heat oil in 12 inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic, finer, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in soy sauce mixture, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and keep warm.

When chicken is cooked, return sauce to simmer over medium-low heat. Add cooked chicken and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

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Moroccan Lamb Burgers

This recipe comes from a former coworker of my husband's. He was a bachelor with a single cookbook but was developing an interest in food. His version calls for an egg on top, similar to a "loco moco" burger at home in Hawaii. Since I've never been a fan, I omit it, as well as the mint garnish. Sometimes I add a bit of provolone cheese. No pictures because these always disappear too quickly. I've grilled these and pan fried them, all with tasty results.

Moroccan Lamb Burgers

1 - 1 1/2 lbs ground lamb

1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander (I sometimes omit)
1 tsp sea salt (I typically use plain kosher)
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (I sometimes omit)

1/2 cucumber (English seedless or regular, seeded), thinly sliced
1/2 med red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 TBS apple cider vinegar
4-6 whole wheat buns

Place cucumber and onion in cider vinegar and allow to marinate while you prepare the burgers.

Mix seasonings and meat. Shape into patties. Allow meat to rest while you preheat the pan or grill to medium-high heat.

Grill or cook burgers about 5 minutes per side. Remove meat from heat and allow to rest while you toast the buns.

To assemble the sandwich, spread a thin layer of mayo on one or both sides of the bun. Top with burger and pickled veggies.

Serves 4-6