Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Pizza Dough that Changed My Life ~ 12.9.12

Homemade pizza. Why bother? There are oodles and oodles of great pizza places (and not so great for that matter) around this great city of ours and ordering from one of them is oh so easy- dial, pay, deliver, done.

There is the occasional Sir Pizza trip. And the once in awhile DiCarlo's (only Elm Grove will do).
I'm also game for Anthony's delicious pies. And Fiori's is just iconic and infamous and sooooo good with the steak sauce, but I digress.

Those are all awesome and delicious, but not what I can do on a weekly basis feeding my family of 7!

 I just always wanted to be able to make my own.

And then one day, I tuned into my favorite cooking show that I've mentioned more times than most of you care to hear about, Mad Hungry*, and my life was forever changed. 

Lucinda made this foccacia-like pizza dough and I was completely ON BOARD.

Now, I've not had too much luck with yeast and most of my friends mentioned using a bread machine. I tried that method on our ancient bread machine only to have it fail, epically.

But I was determined to figure this process out and wanted my own pizza something FIERCE!

Friends, let me just say that we RARELY order pizza out anymore. FOR REALS.

We were having friends over for dinner last night and we decided to do pizza, salad, dessert. Mr. Crafty was wondering where we were planning on ordering the pizza from for dinner. I told him we weren't ordering I was making it. Knowing that Saturdays are a bit hectic around here he was surprised I was going to take that mission on... there would be 4 adults and 10 children between us!

I was firm on my stance. I was making the pizza. He still checked in at 3 to see if I was unwavering in my decision or if I'd like to hit the easy button. I assured him I was hitting the easy button by making this myself. 

So, onto the recipe! I use my kitchen aid stand mixer, but you could work this by hand as well. Also, the original recipe says to let rise overnight in the fridge and I used to do that until one day I forgot and let it rise on the counter and guess what, it was still awesome. So now, I usually just make it the day of.

Lucinda's Deep Dish Pizza Dough 
(but it doesn't have to be deep dish.... see end of recipe for how I make this every week)

1 1/3 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp yeast (I use rapid rise and buy a jar b/c I use it so often)
3 cup flour + 1 Tbs - I use bread flour, but all purpose works, too
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil plus more for bowl

1. In the bowl of your mixer, combine water, sugar and yeast. Stir and let sit 3-4 minutes, until bubbles form (it will look foamy)

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and cornmeal. Stir to combine.

3. Add flour to yeast mixture and turn mixer on low, slowly stream in the 1/4 cup olive oil. When mixture forms a clump, turn dough out on a lightly floured surface.

4. Knead 5-6 times until dough is smooth. Place in a oil covered bowl and refrigerate overnight. OR let rise on the counter. Use when dough is doubled in size- takes about an hour.

5. To make the pizza. Oil a large baking sheet and press dough out into the pan. If the dough tears, let it rest a minute or two. Use a fork to prick the dough all over and cover with a towel to let rest, 20 minutes. 

6. Add toppings: for foccacia, brush dough with olive oil and add roasted tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella or parmesan cheese. see here for original recipe. Bake in a preheated oven, 450 degrees, 15-18 minutes.

Here's how I make this every week:

1. After dough has risen, I dump it onto a sheet of parchment paper and preheat my oven to 450 degrees. I divide the dough into 2 pieces and the place the other piece on another sheet of parchment paper. (the parchment helps me transfer the dough to my pizza stone in the oven)

2. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to your desired shape: round, rectangular, you decide!

3. Add sauce, cheese and toppings. 

4. Slide an upside down baking sheet under the parchment and transfer your pizza to the HOT oven. If you don't have a stone, you could just bake the pizza on a baking sheet instead.

5. Cook about 15 minutes. Check the middle of the dough for doneness. We take ours out of the oven, on the stone, and let it crisp up for a few more minutes. It stays hot while we eat and makes the second, third, fourth piece stay nice and hot!

 this is one of my favorite toppings - found in the freezer section at TJ's

original recipe source: here

So which method do I prefer? We like the new one made on the parchment and pizza stone... let me know if you have any questions!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Recipe hits from November

I've been trying to keep a record of what our family eats for dinner each night for over a year. It's spotty record keeping at best, but I like the practice of it and it helps me to recall the hits and misses of each month. Occasionally, I'll look back and remember a recipe winner- one that everyone loved and thanked me copiously for making that night. That doesn't happen too often but when it does, I'm really happy for the practice of writing down the daily meal on this paper calendar.

I'm old school I guess. I still love holding a pen and writing lists on paper. 

Yes, I've downloaded organization apps and use grocery IQ. They work to a degree. I STILL forget things at the store. Often forgetting to even add it to the list! 

Still, nothing quite compares to a handwritten list, in my opinion.

So, in my quest for documenting the daily stuff- the whole reason I started my blogs- I want to look back each month on those recipe "winners"! Call me crazy but I like looking back to see what we were eating a year ago and how that compares to this year. It's funny how the same foods pop up around the same time of year (something about seasonal eating and comfort foods!).

Here are favorites from the past month....

November Hits

Bourbon Chicken: we called this Chinese chicken. The kids and Mr. Crafty loved it and so did I. Very easy to whip up and tastes fabulous with mushrooms mixed in as well. Sandra's recipes are so very good, do check out her site!

Marinated Pork Tenderloin: this was so incredibly delicious. Now, we have loved our amazing marinade pork for years upon years! But, Mr. Crafty said this was the best pork he had ever eaten. I didn't do the pan sauce that she listed. I just added it all to the pork while it cooked in the oven. It was really, really moist and delicious

Slow Cooked Beef and Potatoes: Another Fullbellies recipe that we all loved. This was better than the beef stew I made a few weeks prior. The kids really gobbled this one up. I didn't do the mashed potatoes like she has pictured but served them beside the beef and veggies (I made my mom's mashed potatoes for it).

While I'm talking about Sandra's website, I'll list this next recipe. The kids and Mr. Crafty did not like it but I loved it and thought it would be a great meal to take to a friend in need. The potatoes were my favorite part. We served this to friends who came over for a game night and I sent the leftovers home with them. They thought it was delicious, too!

Mexican Potato Casserole: taco seasoning added to cubed potatoes that you roast in the oven then top with a ground beef and green pepper mixture. Topped off with shredded cheese! It was easy to make, hearty and very good.

Panera mac n Cheese: made this twice already. Very rich and very creamy and I felt like it got better each day I reheated it! I added milk everytime I reheated it, too, by the way.

Asian Bok Choy Salad: this is from my MOPS cookbook. It's easy and crunchy and the kids liked it! I switched up the dressing and don't have a link as it's from a cookbook. Let me know if you'd like me to post this recipe!

All American Chili: this is my go-to chili recipe. The kids all ate it the first night and then, well, their palates changed the second time around. I even tried to serve it sonic style on hot dogs. no dice. they are so fickle. I just posted this recipe on the blog!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

All-American Chili

I was craving chili the other day and did a search on here only to discover that I have never posted my favorite chili recipe!
I had to remedy that pronto!

I've been making this chili recipe for a long time now. My mom's chili is very good, but I love the addition of turkey sausage, wine and a mix up of beans in this one. The original recipe just calls for light kidney beans, but I'm here to say you can mix that up and use whatever you have on hand! In this case,  black and cannelini (which, by the way, are also called white kidney beans) beans were what was in my pantry. I did consider running to the store as I also had ZERO green peppers... but no. I kept repeating that old mantra: Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, go without. Or something like that. I had red peppers in the fridge, so into the pot they went. Always remember, a recipe is a guideline. Make it the original way at first and then play up the parts you love or vice versa. 

This recipes makes PLENTY, so you'll have some to give away or to freeze for another wintery day when you're craving chili.

Now, as I mentioned in this post, (which has a very similiar looking photo! lol) I grew up eating chili on mashed potatoes, so don't freak out about my picture there. That's just what I like. My husband... purely a tortilla chip and chili kinda guy. The kids ate this, too, but only the first day and refused leftovers. Fickle people.

As written, this is not a spicy chili at all. So if you like the heat and can take it... by all means turn up the volume. This is great for feeding a crowd of varied "heat indexes", the spice lovers can toss in their hot sauce of choice and the weaklings will love it.

All American Chili
adapted from Cooking Light, 2003

2 links sweet Turkey sausage
2 small onions, diced the way you like
1 green pepper (or red), chopped
1 lb lean ground meat
1 jalapeno pepper (I often forget this), diced
1 1/2 - 2 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs brown sugar (optional, I left it out once and didn't notice)
1 Tbs cumin
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
3/4- 1 1/4 cups red wine, Merlot (the amt is based on how much I have left in the bottle ;-)
2 cans whole tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped
2 cans beans, light kidney or combination black and cannelini works
shredded cheddar
adobo seasoning

1. Heat large pot and add turkey sausage, squeeze out of the casings and sauté. Add onion, peppers, ground meat and jalapeńo. Continue to sauté, about 8 min., until meat is cooked. While cooking, use back of spoon or fork to crumble meat.

2. Add chili powder through salt. Cook for 1 minute and stir to combine. Add bay leaves- I wait so as not to crumble the bay leaves.

3. Add wine, tomatoes, and beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.
(At this point, once it comes to a boil, you could turn it off, put it in a container and pop it in the fridge to reheat the next day(in a crock pot!) Chili is always better the next day.)

4. Uncover, take out the bay leaves, and cook 30 minutes more, add adobo seasoning if you think it needs a little something or some more cumin. Again, adjust the tastes to YOUR liking.

5. Serve in big bowls with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese on top (and with mashed potatoes if you're me)


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pineapple Bread Pudding ~ 3.15.12

A few days ago, I was moving around some "older" magazine issues and found a 2003 Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion that I didn't remember reading... maybe because it was from 2003.
Well, I am so glad I did open it up because it had 2 recipes that I just HAD to try this week!

The first is a side dish that pairs well with ham (think Easter!!)- so I cooked up some ham steaks, roasted some asparagus and tested this recipe on my kids.
1 out of 4 liked it, but I loved it! and decided it was MUCH better as a dessert than a side. So I added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to mine later on and ate a big bowl of this pineapple bread pudding.
I saved the leftovers and reheated them a few nights later and served it up when my husband was home- he loved it, too! So that makes 3 out of 7 loving this recipe, but really, the newborn doesn't have a say in this vote. I may make it again for company- it's a super easy throw together kinda recipe!


Pineapple Bake
adapted from the Silver Palate Good times cookbook

8 thick slices day old bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (I removed the bottom crusts)
2 cups drained crushed unsweetened pineapple (I bought the kind in pineapple juice and saved my juice for another recipe!)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 1 1/2 quart baking dish
Combine the bread and pineapple and place in the prepared dish
Mix the butter, sugar, and eggs and pour over the bread mixture
Bake until puffed and golden, about 40 minutes. Serve immediately- with a scoop of ice cream is especially nice!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Banana bread a day.... ~ 3.13.12

Please tell me I am not the only one who has a freezer full of over ripe bananas? At one point it was bordering on at least a dozen, maybe a dozen and a half!

I just can't seem to throw out those bananas and with a recipe as good as this (and as easy as this) one is.... why should I throw them away?

Thanks to Sycamore Stirrings for sharing this recipe for Banana bread made in the food processor- it has become my go-to recipe for it's ease in prep and simplicity of ingredients. The kids LOVE helping me make this recipe and of course, love eating the homemade banana bread.

Banana Bread

adapted from Sycamore Stirrings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease a 9x5 loaf pan

To the food processor bowl add:
2 very ripe bananas- medium sized
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces, chilled

pulse about 20 seconds until butter and bananas are chopped and combined

Next add:
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
a dash or 2 of ground cinnamon

pulse 10 seconds- just until incorporated

Optional- add in 1/2 cup walnut pieces or 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pulse 2-3 times.
Turn batter out into the prepared pan.
Bake for 55-60 minutes or until cooked throughout and a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely before serving.

(click on the recipe name to print out without pictures in Google docs!)