Monday, September 13, 2010

Peter Rinehart's Napoletana Pizza Dough

This is an Artisan dough-- if you like to wait til the last minute to make some dough for dinner-- this is not the one to use!! This is different as it has a delayed fermentation process- it was the first dough I have ever used that required chilled flour and ice cold water. You will have to read my critique below to see if I liked it or not!

Peter Reinhart's Napoletana Pizza Dough Recipe

Cookbook- taken from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 (.44 ounce) teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting

1. Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). With a large metal spoon, stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment), If you are mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the metal spoon into cold water and use it, much like a dough hook, to work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other hand. Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the gluten further. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed. If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a tea- spoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50 to 55F.

2. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with baking parchment and misting the parchment with spray oil (or lightly oil the parchment). Using a metal dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you are comfortable shaping large pizzas), You can dip the scraper into the water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking to it, Sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip your hands into the flour again. Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pan, Mist the dough generously with spray oil and slip the pan into a food-grade plastic bag.

3. Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough, or keep for up to 3 days. (Note: If you want to save some of the dough for future baking, you can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag. Dip each dough ball into a bowl that has a few tablespoons of oil in it, rolling the dough in the oil, and then put each ball into a separate bag. You can place the bags into the freezer for up to 3 months. Transfer them to the refrigerator the day before you plan to make pizza.)

4. On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before making the pizza. Before letting the dough rest at room temperature for 2 hours, dust the counter with flour, and then mist the counter with spray oil. Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour; dust your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil, and cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag. Now let rest for 2 hours.

5. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone either on the floor of the oven (for gas ovens), or on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven as hot as possible, up to 800F (most home ovens will go only to 500 to 550F, but some will go higher). If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.

6. Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Make the pizzas one at a time. Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in flour and lift I piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue shaping it. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss as shown on page 208. If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, though this isn't as effective as the toss method.

7. When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction (about 9 to 12 inches in diameter for a 6-ounce piece of dough), lay it on the peel or pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide. Lightly top it with sauce and then with your other top- pings, remembering that the best pizzas are topped with a less-is-more philosophy. The American "kitchen sink" approach is counterproductive, as it makes the crust more difficult to bake. A few, usually no more than 3 or 4 toppings, including sauce and cheese is sufficient.

8. Slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door. Wait 2 minutes, then take a peek. If it needs to be rotated 180 degrees for even baking, do so. The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake. If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone to a lower self before the next round. if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone for subsequent bakes.

9. Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to set slightly.
Makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts.

MY COOKS TIPS: I made four different types of pizza doughs on this day- because I waited til Friday- this had to go in the fridge and we weren't able to use it the same night. In the recipe it says in fridge up to 3 days or freeze. I kept mine wrapped up in the fridge for six days then used it.

FAMILY CRITIQUE: This is definitely my personal current favorite. YUM! I really enjoyed it alot. Not sure if leaving in the fridge for 6 days instead of up to 3 had any affect on it or not. It didn't smell or taste yeasty. I thought it had a great texture. I baked a few pizzas on a stone in my 500 degree oven- I had preheated the stones an hour, so they were good and hot. Only took a few minutes for them to bake up. I wish our ovens went hotter than 500! Look forward to trying this on the grill. My husband said it would also be good for a breakfast pizza that I make with eggs, bacon and cheese. I made a special mushroom pizza for myself, tons of mushrooms sauteed up with garlic, onions, and grape tomatoes- with mozz and gouda. I thought the kids wouldn't touch it. Everyone loved it and finished up mine before they finished up the plain cheese and the bbq chicken. I have to make at least 2 bbq chicken pizzas every Friday for the boys. I will definitely make this again, even tho it isn't a fast dough. Try it!

California Pizza Kitchen crust w/ The Original CPK BBQ Chicken Pizza

We call Friday night Pizza Night in America at our house. If it were up to my husband and son Michael they would eat pizza several nights a week. Way back before I started making our own homemade dough, we would rotate around to different pizza places in the area to find our favorite pizza. We only do that now if I am too busy or tired to make pizza! Most doughs freeze very well however so as long as I remember to take a couple out of the freezer the day before, all is good! We are on a mission to find the best crust- of course we all have different taste buds!

COOKBOOK: The California Pizza Kitchen Cookbook by Larry Flax & Rick RosenfieldCalifornia Pizza Kitchen Basic Pizza Dough

Makes dough for two 9-inch pizzas.

1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
1 1/2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus 1 tablespoon for coating

To Make The Dough

Dissolve the yeast in the water and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. Be sure that the water is hot. Temperatures of 120 degrees F and above will kill the yeast, and your dough will not rise.

If using an upright electric mixer, such as a KitchenAid, use the mixing paddle attachment because the batch size is too small for the dough hook to be effective. Combine all other ingredients (except the additional teaspoon of olive oil) and combine them with the dissolved yeast in the mixing bowl. (Do not pour the salt directly into the yeast water because this would kill some of the yeast.) Allow these ingredients to mix gradually, use the lowest 2 speeds to mix the dough. Mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Over-mixing the dough will produce tough, rubbery dough, and friction will cause the dough to rise too fast.

If using a food processor, using a dough "blade" made of plastic rather than the sharp steel knife attachment, which would cut the gluten strands and ruin the consistency of the dough. Otherwise proceed as above. Be especially cautious not to mix too long with a food processor because the temperature resulting from the friction of mixing could easily exceed 120 degrees F, killing the yeast. Mix only until a smooth dough ball is formed.

If mixing by hand, place the dry ingredients in a 4 to 6 quart mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the liquids (reserving the teaspoon of olive oil). Use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients. Once initial mixing is done, you can lightly oil your hands and begin kneading the dough. Knead for 5 minutes. When done the dough should be slightly tacky (that is, it should be barely beyond sticking to your hands).

Lightly oil the dough ball and the interior of a 1-quart glass bowl. Place the dough ball in the bowl and seal the bowl with clear food wrap. Seal airtight. Set aside at room temperature (70 to 70 degrees F) to rise until double in bulk - about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

The dough could be used at this point, but it will not be that wonderful, chewy, flavorful dough that it will later become. Punch down the dough, re-form a nice round ball and return it to the same bowl. Cover again with clear food wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight, covered airtight.

About 2 hours before you are ready to assemble your pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 2 equal portions (or 4 equal portions if making appetizer-size pizza or if smaller 6-inch pizzas are desired.)

Roll the smaller doughs into round balls on a smooth, clean surface. Be sure to seal any holes by pinching or rolling.

Place the newly-formed dough balls in a glass casserole dish, spaced far enough apart to allow for each to double in size. Seal the top of the dish airtight with clear food wrap. Set aside at room temperature until the dough balls have doubled in size (about 2 hours). They should be smooth and puffy.

To stretch and form the dough for pizza

Sprinkle a medium dusting of flour over a 12 x 12-inch clean, smooth surface. Use a metal spatula or dough spacer to carefully remove a dough ball from the glass casserole dish, being very careful to preserve its round shape. Flour the dough liberally. Place the floured dough on the floured smooth surface.

Use your hand or rolling pin to press the dough down forming a flat circle about 1/2-icnh thick. Pinch the dough between your fingers all around the edge of the circle, forming a lip or rim that rises about 1/4-inch above the center surface of the dough. You may continue this outward stretching motion of the hands until you have reached a 9-inch diameter pizza dough.

To dress the pizza

Lightly sprinkle cornmeal, semolina or flour over the surface of a wooden pizza peel. Arrange the stretched dough over the floured peel surface. Work quickly to dress the pizza so that the dough will not become soggy or sticky from the sauces and toppings.

When you are ready to transfer the pizza to the pizza stone in the pre-heated oven, grasp the handle of the peel and execute a very small test jerk to verify that the pizza will come easily off the peel. If the dough does not move freely, carefully lift the edges of the dough and try to rotate it by hand. Extreme cases may require that you toss more flour under the dough edges.

Once the dough is moving easily on the peel, open the oven and position the edge of the peel over the center of the stone about 2/3 from the front of the stone. Jiggle and tilt the peel to get the pizza to start sliding off. When the pizza begins to touch the stone, pull the peel quickly out from under it. Don't attempt to move the pizza until it has begun to set (about 3 minutes). The peel can be slid under the pizza to move it or remove it.

The Original CPK BBQ Chicken Pizza

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro 1/2 cup your fav BBQ sauce small red onion1/4 “ sliced rings
1 diced chicken breast 2 TBS Smoked Gouda cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Cook Chicken
1. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat.
2. Add chicken pieces and cook until done (about 6 minutes)
3. Coat chicken with 2 Tbsp BBQ sauce.
4. Chill in the refrigerator.
NOTE: An easy method is to use a store bought rotisserie chicken and you can skip these steps!

Build the Pizza
1. Spread 1/2 cup BBQ sauce over the top. Leave 1/2 in around the edges.
2. Add the cheeses. (leave ¼ cup mozzarella for the top)
3. Add your chicken.
4. Put onion rings on top. Sprinkle additional ¼ cup mozzarella on top
5. Bake in a 500 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes.
6. Garnish with fresh cilantro to taste.

MY COOKS TIPS: I had three leftover cooked chicken breasts in the fridge so I pulled those out and used those. I also doubled this recipe, so I could freeze some. OH-- my family also insisted I add pineapple to their pizza as that is how they love their bbq chicken pizzas-- so that is why you see it even tho it wasn't in the list of ingredients.

FAMILY CRITIQUE: Everyone thought the crust was okay-- except my son Michael-- he has now moved this crust up to his favorite. He didn't care for the cilantro on the pizza but he had about 6 slices so it must have not been horrible. lol I will have to make this crust again with the other crust he considered his favorite before- I won't tell him which is which- and have him do a taste taste! I have seen several variations of this online. Some use 2 cups of Gouda and then the smaller amount mozzarella. We like Gouda so I might try that next time.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Corn Souffle

Gina's Corn Souffle

Show: Down Home with the Neelys Episode: Date Night- Food Network

5 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dish
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups fresh whole corn kernels (thawed, if frozen)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
5 large eggs
1 cup grated extra-sharp white Cheddar


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat the bottom and sides of a round 2 quart souffle dish with butter.

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the corn, salt and pepper, to taste, the smoked paprika and cayenne. Saute for 1 more minute. Add the flour and stir until it becomes light blonde in color, about 2 more minutes. Add the half-and-half and whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Temper the eggs into the corn mixture, then stir in the cheese. Pour the mixture into the buttered souffle dish. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.

My Cook's Tips:- Simple to make. I used thawed frozen corn- and I made it a 9x13 baker.

FAMILY CRITIQUE: Everyone ate the entire thing so that must say something! It was good but we all agreed tho that it was "too eggy" and reminded us more of a quiche. If I was to make it again, I would try it perhaps with one or two eggs less. However, there are many good corn "souffles", "puddings", "casseroles" out there, so I will probably keep looking and trying until we find that "wow- that is awesome Mom, please make it again!! " recipe. :)

I'm back! Time for some new recipes! BBQ Roast Pork

Well, it's been a busy summer with the move from Missouri to Florida the beginning of August. Still many boxes to unpack but cooking is a stress reliever for me, so may as well try some new recipes while feeding the family. I am SO behind on adding recipes. I hope to become better about that.

BBQ Roast Pork
Down Home with the Neelys- Date Night episode- The Food Network


Dry Rub:
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 (3 to 4-pound) pork loin

Strawberry BBQ Sauce:

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups strawberries, tops removed, roughly chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup strawberry nectar or mixed berry nectar
1/4 cup strawberry jam
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

And just cuz I can-- check out those beautiful strawberries! :D

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix together all of the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the pork with canola oil and generously sprinkle the rib all over the pork. Put in a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight. This is what it looked like when I took it out of fridge the next day- and it smelled SO good!

BBQ sauce: Add the oil to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Saute until soft and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the strawberries and sugar and cook until the strawberries begin to break down and the sugar dissolves. Add the ketchup, water, strawberry nectar, jam, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Justing starting to simmer:

After 30 minutes:

Put the pork in a roasting pan and roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 145 degrees F, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Brush with BBQ sauce the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Remove the pork from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.


It was hard to find the strawberry nectar in a couple stores. My husband found it in the Mexican section of a store, that is one spot I hadn't personally looked. It came in a can and was only about 50cents. I didn't realize I purchased a bone in loin- so when I got home, we cut the ribs off, so we had "ribs" and "boneless pork loin" when done. I put the rub on both and was in fridge overnight.

I baked in the oven as called for, to simply save time as I had hungry kiddos, otherwise I probably would have grilled outside the entire time. When it was time for basting, I did take outside to the grill and put the sauce on for last 10 minutes.


Most of the family wasn't thrilled about having to try strawberry BBQ sauce. They said it sounded gross and questioned why on earth I would want to ruin bbq sauce by putting strawberries in it. My husband at least didn't say it was gross, he said it sounded "different" but was willing to try it. My 11 year old nephew came for dinner and I was afraid he wouldn't even try it. He did, and he loved it. He even said it was tender, moist and full of flavor. My 13 and 16 year olds were pretty against trying it, and my son even went to the fridge to get the Kraft bbq out! It turns out they loved the strawberry bbq sauce, on the meat or with meat pieces dipped in, but not by itself. They wish they had more ribs as they really enjoyed those. I have leftover sauce in the fridge, so might get some ribs to use the sauce up. There was not one bite of the 4 pounds of meat left, my husband had thought it would be too much for the 6 of us. My Mom ate with us too and she said the sauce had a nicely sweet, flavorful taste to it with a tiny kick from the jalapeno. She was afraid it would be too hot as she doesn't like spicy, and I had used a good size jap. It was excellent, tho I think it was unanimous that next time let it grill a little longer so it is a little more crisp on the outside like they like it. I would take it out of the oven sooner tho, as this meat wasn't dried out at all, and I wouldn't want that to occur. I encourage you to try this!

Monday, June 28, 2010

I apologize for not keeping updated

I am completely slammed this summer with an upcoming move to Florida the first week of Aug. The kids and I head to FL to find a house mid July.

I hope to be back up and posting regularly once we get down to FL. I have so many recipes to add but just haven't had any spare time to type them up.
Forgive me and have a great summer! :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Harvest Chicken Salad

The Pampered Chef Harvest Chicken Salad Recipe-
Seasons Best Recipe Collection Cookbook Fall Winter 2006 edition

Keep in mind-- Pampered Chef writes their recipes down with all of their products mentioned throughout. I know it drives some people crazy. Of course you can use whatever tools you want to prepare!


2 oranges
1/3 cup fat-free mayonnaise
2 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon each salt and ground black pepper
1 small garlic clove, pressed


1 package (6 ounces) fresh baby spinach leaves
2 cups diced roasted chicken
1 cup diced celery
2 medium Red Delicious apples
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted pecan halves (optional)
Orange segments and Whole-Grain Croutons (optional)

For dressing, zest one orange using Lemon Zester/Scorer to measure 2 teaspoons zest. Juice oranges to measure 1/2 cup juice. Combine orange zest, mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, salt, black pepper and garlic pressed with Garlic Press in Classic Batter Bowl; whisk until smooth using Stainless Whisk. While continuously whisking, add orange juice in a thin, steady stream; set dressing aside.

For salad, place spinach in bottom of large serving bowl. Dice chicken and celery using Utility Knife. Cut apples in half lengthwise; remove stems and seeds using Cook's Corer®. Cut each apple half into four wedges; crinkle cut wedges into small pieces using Crinkle Cutter. Chop onion using Food Chopper. Layer chicken, celery, apples, onion, cranberries and pecans, if desired, over spinach. To serve, drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat. Top with orange segments and Whole-Grain Croutons, if desired. Serve immediately.

Yield: 12 servings

Nutrients per serving: Light (1 cup salad): Calories 100, Total Fat 2 g, Saturated Fat .5 g, Cholesterol 20 mg, Carbohydrate 13 g, Protein 7 g, Sodium 170 mg, Fiber 2 g

Cook's Tip: To toast pecans, spread over bottom of Small Oval Baker. Microwave on HIGH 2-3 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted, stirring after each 30-second interval.

A 2-pound rotisserie-cooked chicken can be used to prepare this recipe, if desired.

Preparing Orange Segments:
To cut orange into segments, cut a thin slice from the top and the bottom using Utility Knife; stand upright. Cutting from top to bottom, carefully trim away peel and white membrane.

Cut down one side of membrane. Angle knife under segment and lift out. Repeat with remaining segments

MY COOKS TIPS: My made my own croutons quickly by tossing some homemade bread cubes into a bag with a little olive oil, garlic & a little italian seasoning. Baked in 400 degree oven til nice and toasty. I threw the pecan pieces on there also and toasted them at same time. I also roasted my chicken in my wonderful Pampered Chef stoneware Deep Covered Baker with Jamaican Jerk Rub. Microwaved for 20 minutes, and then let set for 10, it was perfect and fast. I also used a large bag of spinach at store not the small one. More than enough dressing. I have also prepared before with honey mustard and yellow mustard. Obviously you don't have to use fat free dressing, substitute what you use. If you use Miracle Whip, I find you don't need to add any sugar. Even when I use mayo, I don't use as much sugar as it calls for. The dressing is yummy. You can even substitute OJ from the jug if no fresh oranges. I also never add salt to the dressing, I find it's not necessary.

FAMILY CRITIQUE: Just me and the kids eating dinner tonight. Needed a fast dinner as we have a band concert tonight. I love the salad, super yummy and makes me feel as if I am doing something healthy for my body! :) Ashley enjoyed it because it was different than a usual salad. Michael said "it's okay". I noticed he ate a large plate of it. He tends to have an aversion to things that seem healthier! ;o) This salad is a winner.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


These mini cheesecakes are wonderful! Very simple and I definitely encourage you to try them!

from Junior's Cheesecake Cookbooks by Alan Rosen and Beth Allen


6 ounces (about 2/3 cup) dry-pack frozen whole strawberries(unsweetened, not in syrup)thawed and drained well
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature, (use only full fat)
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 recipe Junior’s Signature Strawberry Sauce (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 13 muffin cups with silicone, foil, parchment or paper liners. (If you only have 12, use a custard cup for the extra batter)

2. Pulse the thawed strawberries in food processor until smooth (you need 1/3 cup of puree). Set aside.

3. Put one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. Blend in the remaining package of cream cheese. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the cream just until it is completely blended. Be careful to not overmix!

4. Divide the batter among the 13 muffin cups. Drop a heaping teaspoon of the puree in the center of each, pushing it down slightly. Using a small knife, cut through the batter just until pink swirls appear. (Do not mix in the puree completely or the cakes will turn pink and the swirls will disappear). Place the muffin tin in a large shallow pan, place pan in the oven, then add hot water until it comes about 1 inch up the sides of the tin.

5. Bake the cakes until set and slightly puffy and golden with red strawberry swirls, about 45 minutes. Remove the cakes from the water bath, transfer the tin to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours. Cover the cakes with plastic wrap (do not remove from the tin) and put in the freezer until cold, at least 1 hour. In the meantime, make the strawberry sauce if you wish.

6. To remove the cakes, lift them out of the cups with your hands and peel off the liners. Place the cakes, top side up, on a serving platter or individual dessert plates and refrigerate until ready to use. If there are any cakes left over, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator, or wrap and freeze up to 1 month.

Junior’s Signature Strawberry Sauce

• 2 quarts fresh ripe strawberries
• 1 cup cold water
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 2 to 3 drops red food coloring (optional)
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• ¼ teaspoon pure lemon extract
1. Wash, sort through, hull, and slice the berries 1/2 inch thick, vertically from top to tip, into a large bowl.
2. Bring ¾ cup of the water and all the sugar to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan over high heat.
3. Boil for 5 minutes.
4. Mix cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 cup water together in a cup until the cornstarch thoroughly dissolves and mixture thickens and turns clear, about 2 minutes.
5. Remove the syrup from the heat and whisk in the food coloring if you wish.
6. Stir in the extracts and gently fold in the strawberries.
7. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month

MY COOKS TIPS- I followed recipe exactly- and the batter filled 12 muffin tins and 2 custard cups. From previous cheesecake experience, be sure you don't skip on the water bath- your cheesecake won't be moist and it will crack if you don't use it!

The only complaint was "Mom! Why didn't you make a double batch!?" haha My husband said you wouldn't be able to find anything better at the cheesecake factory, so that was definitely a compliment. I think next time I honestly won't bother with the signature sauce as I felt it had so much sugar. I will just use fresh strawberries and slice then sprinkle a little sugar on top to pull out all the juices. These mini cheesecakes were definitely a winner, and I look forward to trying the next recipe from this cookbook!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cowboy Spaghetti

I know, I am WAAAY behind in my posts. I have been incredibly busy these last few weeks; and simply not enough hours in my day! I have a bunch of new recipes that we have been cooking and baking, and plan to type and upload for you, and hope to get caught up this weekend. Here is a recipe for spaghetti you might like to try; a little different and has a nice kick!

COWBOY SPAGHETTI- Rachael Ray- 30 minute meals cookbook and on her tv show as well

1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
3 slices smoky bacon, chopped
1 pound ground sirloin
1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
Ground black pepper
2 teaspoons hot sauce, eyeball it
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
1/2 cup beer
1 (14-ounce) can, chopped or crushed fire roasted tomatoes
1 (8-ounces) can, tomato sauce
8 ounces sharp Cheddar
4 scallions, chopped
Heat a pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and salt the water. Cook to al dente or with a bite to it.

Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and bacon. Brown and crisp bacon, 5 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon. Drain off a little excess fat if necessary. Leave just enough to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add beef and crumble it as it browns, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions, garlic and stir into meat. Season the meat with salt and pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire. Add 1/2 cup beer and deglaze the pan. Cook 5 to 6 minutes more then stir in tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Add hot spaghetti to meat and sauce and combine. Adjust seasonings and serve up pasta in shallow bowls. Grate some cheese over the pasta and sprinkle with scallions. Garnish with crisp bacon

COOKS TIPS- - Only change I made was adding the bacon into the sauce, so no one would fight over it! ;-)

FAMILY CRITIQUE-- It's good! That was the same quote I received from everyone. It is nice for a change of pace from other typical pastas we consume. I like the smoky bacon and the kick! My son thinks it needs more bacon so he can have a BPB (bacon per bite) ratio! Haha My 12 year old wouldn't try it yet as she is still in a "no sauce" kick. I also really enjoy the scallions and cheddar on top! Also, if you like a lot of sauce, then you might want to add either another can of tomato sauce or the fire roasted tomatoes. This will simply coat all the pasta the way it is made above-- which is the typical Italian way I might add! Enjoy!

Here is a picture of how my husband enjoyed his: On top of a slab of garlic bread!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pork Chops in a Sweet Chili and Onion Sauce

Pork Chops in a Sweet Chili and Onion Sauce

My son Michael picked out this recipe from the bookshelf:
From Rachael Ray’s 365: No Repeats Cookbook

Coarse salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 (1 ½-inch-thick) boneless center-cut pork chops
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 heaping tablespoon chili powder (a heaping palmful)
½ tablespoon ground cumin (half a palmful)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of the EVOO (twice around the pan). Season the pork chops liberally with salt and pepper. Place the chops in the skillet and sear for about 2 minutes on each side to caramelize. Transfer the chops to a rimmed cookie sheet and place in the oven to finish off, 7 or 8 minutes, until the meat is firm to the touch, cooked through but not tough. Remove from the oven and let the chops rest, covered with a piece of aluminum foil, for a few minutes.

While the chops bake, return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO, three quarters of the chopped onions, the chili powder, cumin, two thirds of the chopped garlic, the brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer until reduced by half. Once reduced, turn off the heat and whisk in the cold butter.
Pour the sweet chili-onion sauce over the rested pork chops

First, the recipe was written to be served with a creamy cilantro potato salad. It sounds good but I had no cilantro in the house so didn’t make that. Part of the onion and garlic listed above was supposed to be used towards the salad. I used the entire onion and all the garlic for the pork chops as our family enjoys garlic. I also forgot to add the butter at the end; oops. It most likely would have tasted richer and been shinier in appearance, not sure how else it would have changed it.


This was made for Scott and Michael, per Michaels request. I told him we had pork chops I was making and go pick a new recipe, he picked this one. Ashley won’t eat pork chops and Zoe wasn’t home for dinner; although she didn’t like the smell as it was cooking. I wasn’t eating meat so I didn’t sample it. Scott and Michael really loved it and said they would definitely like it again in the future. Michael said first taste reminded him of tacos- probably due to the cumin; but then that flavor went away into something he couldn’t quite into words; only that he really liked it a lot. I made them each two, and they were eaten following day as afterschool snack. I told Scott I forgot the butter, it says it is obviously not needed, so may as well save the fat. They enjoyed it just the way it was and don’t want it changed.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Vegan Cupcakes with fudge frosting

My Favorite Cupcakes- In Alicia Silverstone's -The Kind Diet book
(This is her title not mine :D-- you will have to read critique following recipe to see what I thought!)


2/3 cup hemp or soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup safflower oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of sea salt

Fudge frosting

1/2 cup earth balance butter
½ cup agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup soy milk powder

NOTE- soy milk powder is sold in large amounts, so if you have a bunch left over, you can add water and make soy milk. If you don’t have soy milk powder, the frosting will be fine—just a little runnier- let it set up in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Combine the milk and vinegar in a medium bowl, and set aside for at least 5 minutes or until it bubbles a little. If it doesn’t bubble, keep stirring the mixture until it does. Add the agave nectar, oil, and vanilla and stir.
In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing until no lumps remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, and bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in the center of one cupcake comes out clean and the tops are slightly springy when pressed. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then cool completely on a baking rack before frosting.

To make the fudge frosting, use a mixer to cream the butter together with the agave nectar in a mixing bowl until very smooth. Add the vanilla extract and about half the cocoa powder, mix on low speed to combine, then add the remaining cocoa powder. Add in the soy milk powder, and beat at medium high speed until fluffy. It is runny, refrigerate the frosting until it sets up a little.


I didn't use the soy milk powder as I couldn't locate it in any of the my stores locally. It was thinner icing so I put in fridge for a little bit, and it did firm up a lot more. I also decided to throw in a little cocoa powder into the batter, as I like chocolate. This would have been okay but I should have added a little more liquid to the batter.

I did not tell the kids this was a vegan recipe. My son knew as soon as he bit into the cupcake. He liked the icing but thought the cupcake was too weird and didn't like the texture. He is not fond of wheat to begin with and it has that whole wheat pastry flour in there. My 12 year old said disgusting and told everyone I was trying to poison them. She only took one bite and spit all of it out. My oldest wouldn't even try it, thanks to her siblings comments. It definitely wasn't my favorite cupcake, but it satisfied my chocolate craving. All together out of the 12, I ate 3- over a couple days. Scott said they were different, not horrible. My family has high expectations of my baking and these didn't pass their test. I tried to make them look pretty and fool them by putting some of their favorite toppings sprinkled on them- some toffee bits, chocolate chips and toasted coconut. Didn't fool them, but I tried!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan & "Regular" Chicken Parmesan for the kids

Well, BACK in the land of the living! YEAH!!! Took me long enough to get over that illness. Can't believe we got a big snow storm this weekend when everyone else I know has 70 degree Spring weather!! I am very happy to report that I have lost 6 pounds so far since I started eating vegan 2 weeks ago. My biggest problem is I don't drink enough water, and that was a problem even before doing this. For breakfast today I tried a cereal from Kashi, it was good-- with Rice Dream milk substitute. WAY better than soy in my opinion! First of all it is WHITE!! lol
Kids are ready for some new recipes from the cookbooks so now that I am feeling better, it's time to get busy!

Amazing Vegan Eggplant Parmesan -posted by Samantha Enochs on
(this is the title she gave it not necessarily me)

•Prep Time: 20 minutes
•Bake Time: 30 Minutes
•Serves: 6
You Will Need:

•1 Large Eggplant (Sliced medium thin- I’ll explain about the peel later)
•4 Cups your favorite bread crumbs (or homemade)
•3 Ener-G Eggs
•2 Cups your favorite tomato sauce (or homemade)
•1/2 Medium Red Onion (diced)
•Dried Mixed Italian herbs
•Oil (optional)
The “Parmesan” part:

•1 Block Extra Firm Tofu (Sunrise is a great brand)
•1 Tbs. Lemon Juice (for the cheesy tang)
•2 Tbs. Nutrition Yeast (for more cheesy taste)
•1 Tbs. Garlic Powder
•3 Tbs. Vegenaise
•1 Tsp. Each fresh (or dried) Parsley, Marjarom, Basil and Chives

1.First, make up the Parmesan part. It’s really more like a ricotta, but this is a very simple mix I use in many dishes, and it goes perfect with this. Crumble the tofu. Make sure it is very fine, like ricotta would be. Once you have it ultra fine, add the herbs. You could just shake in some Italian seasonings until you’re happy, but I prefer the mix listed above. Add the Vegenaise, it makes the mix a little more creamy. Then add the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Mix it well.

2.Before you slice the eggplant, decide if you want the peel on or not. I know texturally it might be better for it to be off. But here’s the thing about the peel; The purple part of the eggplant is chalk full of antioxidants which, as we all know, are awesome for your body. So it comes down to this, if you don’t want the peel- take it off! But, if you want a little more of a nutritional bang, don’t peel your eggplant.

3.Once the big decision is made and the slices are sliced, get your breading ready. In two separate bowls, put the bread crumbs (also, herbs and salt and pepper) and Ener-G eggs and take each slice and coat in ‘egg’, then in crumbs.

4.There are two ways to cook the eggplant. You can either fry it (but that is the fatty way to do it) or you could broil it for 2 minutes on each side. This is effective, but the breading doesn’t always stick fantastically. Trial and error.

5.Get out your favorite glass baking dish and pour a little sauce in the bottom. Cover the bottom with layers of eggplant, onions, and finally the tofu ricotta. Pour on a little more sauce and a drizzle of olive oil (if desired) and repeat the process. When you have two layers, cover with tin foil (or a lid!) and bake for 25-30 minutes.

6.Dish is done when the sauce is a little bubbly and tofu on top has crisped up. Best served with spaghetti ala marinara, fresh baked french bread and a tossed sala

MY COOKS TIPS: I didn't realize I had soft tofu in fridge not the extra firm it called for, and I wasn't about to make another trip to store, so decided to use it. I put all the ingredients listed under "parmesan" part into my food processor along with the red onions. Resembled ricotta cheese with seasonings when I gave it a few whirls. Also, we decided to leave the eggplant peel on for more nutrients. My husband Scott cut them into circles. I think next time we will try cutting it the opposite way so they are longer pieces, as it would be if it had been chicken. I have never made eggplant parmesan ever before, vegan or otherwise. I baked my eggplant on parchment paper on my sheetpan, for 20 min. each side, as I saw on a few other recipes online. I drizzled a little olive oil on parchment first. Nicely golden brown and crispy. I also made some homemade bread crumbs quickly in my food processor, as wheat bread crumbs are crazy expensive. I simply toasted some bread in toaster then threw them in food processor with some italian seasonings. Fast and yummy.

FAMILY CRITIQUE: My husband and I were the only ones that would eat this, the kids wouldn't even try it. I had to make them regular chicken parm. as well as buffalo chicken wings for the 12 year old as she is spoiled rotten by her father and that's what she wanted. So it was quite challenging trying to get everything done at the same time with only one oven. But I did it! My husband Scott said it was quite good and I noticed he had two helpings. I just made a small dish of it (to make more room in the oven for everything else!)and put the rest of the eggplant in the fridge for later use. I didn't know what to expect, but I actually enjoyed it. It was amazing that it actually tasted cheesy to me. Weird, but true! I will have no problems eating these leftovers.

Chicken Parmigiana
- by Candy on

1 egg, beaten
2 ounces dry bread crumbs
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3/4 (16 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking sheet.
2.Pour egg into a small shallow bowl. Place bread crumbs in a separate shallow bowl. Dip chicken into egg, then into the bread crumbs. Place coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until no longer pink and juices run clear.
3.Pour 1/2 of the spaghetti sauce into a 7x11 inch baking dish. Place chicken over sauce, and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses on top and return to the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

MY COOKS TIPS: Well I have to be honest and really didn't measure any thing out. Don't tell the kids but I used egg beaters instead of "real" eggs. I had made homemade breadcrumbs for my other dish so just used the remainder of those and threw in a little parmesan cheese to that. The bread crumbs I had already put italian seasonings in. My husband pounded out the chicken breasts with a meat tenderizer. And I didn't have the oven space so I cooked them quickly in a very little canola oil mixed with a little olive oil, in a skillet on the stove. It didn't take very long as they were so thin. I then put in a small dish and finished off in oven.

FAMILY CRITIQUE: Well, even tho my 12 year old wouldn't eat it this way-- she did steal a cooked chicken breast off the plate as I had a couple extras that wouldn't fit in the pan. She LOVED it! Said it was cooked perfectly and seasoned perfectly. I was so happy to hear that so I will use that in future for next chicken tender night and do the same thing. She was happy there was one more in the fridge for tomorrow. (she is on a current NO tomato SAUCE kick)My teens devoured it and said it was great. My son ate two huge pieces. The only complaint is that I cooked rigatoni intstead of spaghetti noodles. The only spaghetti noodles I had in cupboard were whole wheat and they wouldn't eat those. They ate the rigatoni and didn't complain further. I also made them vegan garlic bread. I didn't tell them it was the vegan earth balance spread. Just called it garlic bread. They ate it all. :)
Scott tried a bite of Ashley's chicken and said it was perfectly cooked and fabulous.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

nothing new this week, sorry

I have been SICK this week. Pretty much surviving on crackers, toast, water, tea and peanut butter. Back to the land of the living and recipe cooking soon!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes
Source: Healthy Eating for Life to Prevent and Treat Cancer by Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D.; recipe by Jennifer Raymond, M.S., R.D.

Makes 16 3-inch pancakes

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ripe banana, mashed
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup fortified soy- or rice milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 vegetable oil spray

Mix buckwheat flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate large bowl, combine mashed banana, maple syrup, vinegar, and non-dairy milk. Add flour mixture, stirring just enough to remove any lumps and make a pourable batter. Stir in blueberries and add a bit more milk if the batter seems too thick.

Preheat a non-stick skillet or griddle, then spray lightly with vegetable oil. Pour small amounts of batter onto the heated surface and cook until tops bubble. Turn carefully with a spatula and cook the second sides until browned, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.

COOKS TIPS: I made as is. Took me about 5 stores til I found buckwheat flour tho!

FAMILY CRITIQUE:: Well, perhaps you will recall that my family is great about trying new recipes. I think that is the norm when they aren't termed "healthy". The kids wouldn't try these pancakes. I made them buttermilk plain and with chocolate chips. Scott ate 3 of the buckwheat ones. He said he appreciates the opportunity to try something new but he has no need to eat these again in future. He said in the postive that at least they looked like pancakes. haha very funny. He also mentioned that he was excited about trying them as buckwheat sounded so fancy; and in hindsight they are simply too fancy for him. After his 3 he switched to the other ones I made. What did I think? Well, I liked them. I recall my Mom making buckwheat pancakes sometimes growing up, so buckwheat wasn't new nor foreign to me. I have 4 left in the fridge that I will eat for breakfast this week. :) Yes, they are different than regular or buttermilk pancakes, not as fluffy as "normal" pancakes would be but fine by me.

Per pancake

■Calories: 55
■Fat: 0.5 g
■Saturated Fat: 0.1 g
■Calories from Fat: 8.1%
■Cholesterol: 0 mg
■Protein: 1.5 g
■Carbohydrates: 11.8 g
■Sugar: 3.8 g
■Fiber: 1.1 g
■Sodium: 81 mg
■Calcium: 32 mg
■Iron: 0.6 mg
■Vitamin C: 1.6 mg
■Beta Carotene: 9 mcg
■Vitamin E: 0.3 mg

Saturday, March 13, 2010

no cooking today- tofu product review

The whole family is under the weather tonight, so no experiment going on.

Wanted to share that I had a product called Tofurky Italian Sausage last night since the rest of the family was eating Brats. I cooked up some onions and peppers in some Earth Balance and I was all prepared to enjoy it. I forced down two bites and just ate some vegetarian baked beans instead. It just wasn't palatable to me; I guess the texure is the most difficult for me! I think my exact quote was something like-- whoever decided to take tofu and form it into a shape of an Italian Sausage was playing some kind of sick joke. Scott enjoyed it and ate the rest. I said he is more than welcome to the rest of the package as I won't be eating them! He would do much better on this meal plan than me. Then again when you add a half bottle of hot sauce or other condiment to something, it probably changes flavor completely anyway. Maybe I should have dunked it in chocolate first. Just kidding, sounds disgusting! lol

I really enjoy food. I like reading about it, looking at, thinking about what to do with it, washing it, the preparation, tasting and giving to others.. and this tofu thing is not working for me. I have to say the scale is starting to move downwards tho on my 10 pound goal, so not giving up yet. My metabolism has been on a halt for years, so happy to see something happening.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Egg Salad Sandwiches(kinda)

Okay, this is my first experience with tofu. I have always been scared of it. haha It just look so weird! (no offense to all those tofu eaters out there!)
I figured I just better DO it, if I am going to really give this my full effort. Obviously need to continue eating protein so I don't lose weight from my current muscle! For dinner Scott is making Brats. Aww man, I love brats-- some mustard, onions and peppers--- mmmmm. So, while at the store I found some Tofurky Italian Sausage with sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Everyone on Alicia Silverstone's vegan forum raves about Tofurky products so I thought I will give it a try. I will grill that up and put my onions and peppers on top. I think the family is shocked I have made it this long without meat and my beloved cheese. As I said, not sure if it will be a forever thing or not. Entirely too soon to know! Dreaming of cows now- what would freud say?! Either I am seriously missing red meat or cows are visiting me in my sleep to thank me for saving a couple of them from the slaughter house! haha

Egg Salad Sandwich- from Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet book

(makes 4 sandwiches)

2 (12 oz. cakes firm tofu)
2 small onions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 tablespoons Shoyu
1 tablespoon safflower oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Vegenaise, or more to taste
4-8 thin slices whole wheat bread
Paprika (optional)

Mash the tofu in a mixing bowl until chunky but not completely smooth. Add the onions, celery, shoyu, oil, turmeric, and salt and mix well. Stir in the Veganaise and refrigerate until ready to use.

Divide the egg salad among four slices of bread, as you prefer. If serving open-faced, sprinkle with a bit of paprika.

I just used one 16 oz. block of firm tofu. I was a little nervous opening that package up, have to tell ya! No turning back, I was going to make and consume this sandwich! Shoyu is simply an organic soy sauce, in case you don't know. I didn't have safflower oil or turmeric so looked online for a substitution- I used canola oil and curry powder.

Scott said it wasn't bad, different but not too bad. Feels like egg texture in mouth, which I think is a good thing if it's supposed to be a mock egg salad. He had just consumed a big piece of pizza so didn't want a sandwich, just had a couple spoonfuls. I think I put entirely too much on my bread and will go less next time, and cut sandwich into 4 small squares instead of diagonal as it kept falling apart. It definitely is different but does remind me of egg salad and I can see if you have sworn off eggs and can never eat it again that this would grow on you. The onions definitely help in my opinion, and tho I have never had celery in my regular egg salad, it's okay. Wasn't sure what I was expecting-- I thought it was odd to put a soy sauce product in here, but it works somehow! It kinda looks like a chicken salad to me, and it reminds of something I would put on a savory creme puff. I have seen a couple other recipes online using mustard and think I will try that again next time, but that will be quite a while as I have a huge bowl in the fridge and my children will NOT touch it. The girls made gagging noises every time they came by me and saw me eating it, and well said a few pretty gross things too, that you don't want to hear when you are eating food!! lol One good thing, my son just FINALLY woke up (there is no school today) and said he will try some of it later for sure. He would have preferred to NOT know that tofu was in it. Must be the name scares him for some reason too! lol Wonder where meat eaters got that fear from?!?!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

pizza crust/sauce experiments

WOW! What a day! 15 hour work day yesterday tough! It made my work day today really tough too since I was so tired. Did great on my making my water drinking goal yesterday, still haven't had time to get my digital pedometer configured, plan to do it this evening- or tomorrow at the latest! ;-) Today didn't do as well with water consumption, I was too tired to drink or eat anything. Tonight going to the Whole Foods market with a list in hand, so I will have some things that I am allowed to eat. Don't plan to lose 10 pounds by simply starving myself.

I purchased Alicia Silverstone's new book The Kind Diet book-- I never realized she was vegan. Have learned a wealth of information already- some I probably wish I hadn't learned! (like what they really do at slaughter houses and on some farms! yikes!)

Plan to go to the YMCA finally tomorrow- will be first time all week! No school tomorrow so I have NO excuse!

I want to catch you up on some more of the recipes I've been practicing for my upcoming kids classes at the Culinary Center-

Bill’s Neapolitan Sauce- who's Bill? I have no idea but I found the recipe here-

1 large can Furmano’s tomato puree (28 oz.)
1 T Sugar
1 ½ t Salt
1 t Basil
1 t Oregano
¾ t Black pepper
¾ t Garlic Powder
1 ½ T Olive Oil
½ t Dried Minced Onions

In a small saucepan, heat tomato puree over medium heat. After 5 minutes, the puree should darken. Add other ingredients and reduce heat to low. Simmer and stir for 5-10 minutes. Makes sauce for 2 12 inch pizzas or one large pan pizza.

MY COOKS TIPS:- My store didn't have this brand of tomato puree- I found the company online and they don't carry it out here- but hey if you are in Pennyslvania you are in luck and can try it! haha I just bought the brand that was stamped voted #1- yep, marketing sucked me in- that and it cost the most too. ha!
I would like to try it with San Marzano Tomato Paste as that is the brand The Exec. Chef at Lidia's in KC swears by. I know Costco sells it so I need to get a membership or find someone to take me one day for a little shopping!

FAMILY CRITIQUE- I made everyone taste it by spoon first before it was on the pizza and also on the pizza of course. Everyone except my 12 year old McKenzie enjoyed it alot. I must say however that she is on a NO sauce kick- none on pizza or pasta so I couldn't have pleased her anyway. I thought it was quite tasty for my first pizza sauce experience that wasn't pizza quick sauce out of the jar! :D
This sauce would be good with breadsticks too!

I don't have a picture of this except for it's on the pizza pictures- sorry- I was a slacker and forgot!

Thin Pizza Crust-
Crust will be firm and crispy

.25 oz pkt. active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
3/4 cup 110 degree water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
pizza sauce - of your choice, as needed
shredded cheese - of your choice, as needed
toppings - of your choice, as needed

-Dissolve yeast and sugar in water; allow to rest for 8 minutes.
-In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt.
-Pour yeast mixture over flour mixture and mix well with a heavy spoon.
-Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.
-Working from the edges to the center, press dough into a 12" circle. We've also found that holding the dough up, off the counter and stretching it works well, too (keep rotating the dough circle as you stretch to keep an even circle forming).
-Place dough on a lightly greased pizza pan and stretch dough to edges.
-Spread sauce over crust and top with cheese and desired toppings.
-Bake in a 500 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, or until edges are golden.

Notes: No, the dough does not have to rise - if it did, it wouldn't produce a thin crust. If you'd like to freeze the dough for later use, roll the dough into a ball, place in a sealable plastic bag (allow extra room, as the dough will rise a bit before it freezes completely), then thaw in the refrigerator completely before pressing out into a circle.

MY COOKS TIPS:- I always add a little fresh garlic and italian seasonings in our crust so feel free to throw a little in for extra flavor too. You could even do a little parmesan cheese.

I have made this crust a couple times in the past as my son Michael really likes the thin crispy crust. This is the first time I have made it when Scott was home tho. Scott ate it and said it was good for a "cracker crust" whatever that was supposed to mean. This crust is also good with making a dessert pizza, which I have done and will post today too. I just don't roll as thin for that. There are never any complaints when I make this crust, and I like it as it doesn't have to rise so it's a good basic easy crust I can use for teaching a kids class at the Culinary Center where we only have a couple hours for the entire class or when Michael says Mom make people and I want it NOW and not in an hour and a half!
speaking of which- here are two pics- these were made QUICKLY one of those nights recently,the circles aren't even circular all the way! haha One was a requested pepperoni and carmelized onion and the other is the ever popular BBQ chicken with carmelized onions and pineapple.

My family’s current favorite pizza crust dough:
actual title is
Jay's Signature Pizza Crust-

• 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
• 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.
3. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza sauce and toppings.
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F .If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone or pan; you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan to make a thick crust lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.
5. Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

MY COOKS TIPS- My family also likes it when we add about 1 teaspoon of Italian Seasonings, 1 Tablespoon of garlic powder OR 2 or 3 minced cloves of fresh garlic into the mixture with the oil and salt) I also like to bake my crust on a preheated Pampered Chef stone (of course) for about 7 minutes and then add the toppings on top, as my family likes the crust a little crisper. I also slide the pizza right onto the rack and cook for a few minutes that way as well.

FAMILY CRITIQUE: I added the seasonings I mentioned in the cooks tips as I knew my family would say it would be boring if I didn't. I also used bread flour as I ran out of all purpose in the other pizza I made-- they preferred the bread flour, said it was better texture and fluffier which they liked alot. Made another BBQ chicken pizza (different day) for this crust too as that's what my two main pizza eaters love. On half I did sprinkle some hot sauce and red pepper flakes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Couscous Confetti Salad

It's going to be a long day! After subbing for Spec. Ed. at the Elementary School all day, I head over this evening to the Culinary Center to help Chef Matt with his Knife Skills Class. He is a great cook and I am wondering what tempatations I will be forced to contend with. Afterall they will be using those knives on something to practice! Hopefully just vegetables! haha not with my luck!

Note to self- if all of a sudden you decide to eat vegan-- purchase and prepare ahead of time- items you can eat for lunch when you are not at home. I did make a Couscous Confetti Salad yesterday that was quite good. I will take some of that today for lunch. And my husband made a salsa the other day with all veggies and black beans so that will give a little protein.

Goal today- to program my new digital pedometer today so I can be sure I am getting a minimum of 10,000 steps per day and to drink at least 4 bottles of water. I am always really bad about drinking the water I need.

Have a great day... won't get a chance to post those other pizza and chicken finger recipes I made til tomorrow.

Couscous Confetti Salad- off the meal plan- looks like they got it from Healthy Eating for Life to Prevent and Treat Diabetes by Patricia Bertron R.D., recipe by Jennifer Raymond, M.S., R.D.
Makes about 8 1-cup servings

Couscous is pasta from northern Africa that cooks almost instantly and makes a beautiful and flavorful salad. Whole-wheat couscous is sold in natural food stores and some supermarkets.

1 1/2 cups dry whole-wheat couscous
2 cups boiling water
3 - 4 green onions, finely chopped, including tops
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 carrot, grated
1 - 2 cup finely shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup golden raisins or chopped dried apricots
1 juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

In a large bowl, combine couscous and boiling water. Stir to mix, then cover and let stand until all the water has been absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Add green onions, bell pepper, carrot, cabbage, parsley, and raisins or apricots.

In a small bowl mix lemon juice, vinegar, oil, curry powder, and salt. Add to salad and toss to mix. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Per 1-cup serving

■Calories: 194
■Fat: 2.1 g
■Saturated Fat: 0.3 g
■Calories from Fat: 9.8%
■Cholesterol: 0 mg
■Protein: 5.2 g
■Carbohydrates: 40.2 g
■Sugar: 10 g
■Fiber: 4.2 g
■Sodium: 283 mg
■Calcium: 33 mg
■Iron: 1.1 mg
■Vitamin C: 40.9 mg
■Beta Carotene: 1157 mcg
■Vitamin E: 0.7 mg

MY COOKS TIPS: I forgot I used the red pepper in something else the other day so didn't add that to this recipe. I used my awesome cuisinart to make this very quickly. It was hard for me to find the wheat couscous, most stores have the golden- I am sure Whole Foods has it, hopefully in bulk so it is a little cheaper. I found a small box at The Hen House for a little over $3.00.

FAMILY CRITIQUE Scott loved it and said it was great! I really enjoyed it myself, very tasty! I am sure it will even have more flavor today after sitting in fridge all night. The kids wouldn't touch it. Ewww gross... that's pretty much what they said when they looked in the fridge. Too healthy for 'em I guess!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Irish Soda Bread and Breadsticks

I simply have no idea what I am doing, this will truly be a work in progress! I am not as computer literate as I would like to be-- for instance I can't figure out how on earth to get the title on my blog to be centered! It's driving me nuts! lol And I am not sure about the format and all,so things may change as I learn!

I never thought of myself doing a blog; perhaps a little inspired by the recent Julie and Julia movie that I loved! Everyone that knows me is aware that I enjoy cooking and have a definite passion for baking; trust me it wasn't always that way!!

Recently, I have decided to try the vegan lifestyle in order to jumpstart my metabolism that doesn't seem to want to budge and get these 10 pounds off that have been around since my last child was born. Hello--- that has been almost 13 years! My personal goal is to get these 10 pounds off and be back at my college weight by my oldest daughters highschool graduation May 16th. I'm hoping that cutting out my beloved meat and dairy will help be healthier as well. Not sure if I will make it a week or not but I am going to try.

Tonight, I practiced cooking recipes for some upcoming kids classes I am teaching at the Culinary Center. I practiced a couple chicken finger recipes, pizza recipes, breadsticks using one of the pizza doughs, and Irish Soda bread as one of my classes is on St. Patty's Day and I want the kids to make a mini loaf to take home. I was a good girl and didn't try any of the things I made and let the family be the test testers. Wow it was tough-- especially when I made them dark chocolate fudgey brownies for dessert. For myself I made a Couscous Confetti Salad- yummy!! And my husband Scott really enjoyed it too;the kids said gross and wouldn't try it. Now, onto the recipes I made! Well, I will post a couple tonight-

Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread - from

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
2.In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf.
3.Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 30 to 50 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.

MY COOKS TIPS: I want the kids to take home a small one for St.Patty's Day- so I made them in the small disposable foil pans. The dough divided into 5 of those. Also, no buttermilk in the house- so I used my standard substitution for that- 1 cup buttermilk w/ 1 Tablespoon vinegar. Let it sit a few minutes and it thickens up.

Family Critique- Scott loved it, said it was GREAT! The kids wouldn't try it as they said their stomachs were going to blow up from everything else they tried tonight. Maybe they will try it tomorrow.

Soft Garlic Breadsticks - from
1 1/8 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh basil
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine, melted

1.In bread machine pan, place the first nine ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed). When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 20 portions. Shape each into a ball; roll each into a 9-in. rope. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Brush warm breadsticks with butter.

I did this the old fashioned way. Mixed the water, sugar and yeast and let stand for 10 min. I used one entire package of active dry yeast. I then put the oil, garlic, cheese, dry basil into the flour and salt mixture. I then added the yeast mixture. I think I made them entirely too big. I was tired at this point and just trying to get them done before Ashley went to work. I cut the dough in half to use half for breadsticks and half for a pizza to see what that tasted like as crust. Forgot to add the butter after it came out of oven. Oops!

Well, they didn't love them. They said it needed way more garlic and butter. Keep in mind we LOVE garlic at our house. They said it mostly tasted like bread, good bread but not a nice soft fluffy breadstick. Next time I will try fresh garlic instead of the powder the recipe called for. (If I try this breadstick recipe again) And I will make some garlic butter to put over them when I get out of the oven. I made homemade pizza sauce and they dunked the breadsticks into that. Out of the 6 I made, there are 3 1/2 left. I wasn't able to try it as it had the parmesan cheese in there! I do like that it is a simple dough kids can make and use for breadsticks or pizza.