Customizing Dinner

On Sunday we had my husband’s brother and sister-in-law and nephew over for dinner. It was really fun to see them, and that is one of the great perks of this side of the state; We are so much closer to them! I wanted to have us eat something that universally everyone likes, and that is pizza. There is just something amazing about dough and sauce and cheese and other deliciousness that you can add. I figured it was a safe bet, especially since my poor sister-in-law is having a really rough time with morning sickness right now! Hopefully it will soon pass so that she can feel back to normal, or as normal as you feel when you are pregnant! We are so excited for them! We are also excited because about 2 weeks ago, all of my husbands brothers, had pregnant wives (one just recently delivered and both mother and baby are doing well: it’s kinda scary to think that I’m next). And I was worried, when we eventually had children, that they wouldn’t have any cousins their age! :) But back to the pizza! This is a great recipe from Kelsey Nixon, from the show Kelsey’s Essentials on Cooking Channel Tv, an excellent show to learn about the ins and outs of cooking, and not just how, but why you should do things a particular way! You can also check out the other things that she made in that episode on cookingchanneltv.com. Also a note, my husband made this dough while I was getting ready for church, with me coaching from the bathroom, if he had any questions and he did an excellent job! You can do it too!

Basic Pizza Dough

Enough dough for 2 pizzas or 8 individual servings

1-3/4 c warm water

2-1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast

4 c Bread Flour (I only had 2 c Bread Flour, so we substituted 2 c All-Purpose Flour, it still worked out great)

2 tsp Sugar

2 tsp Salt

3 tbsp Olive Oil, plus more

1 tsp Italian Seasoning*

Non-Stick Cooking Spray

*Italian Seasoning is not required, nor is it in the original recipe, but I like how it flavors the dough

1. Mix together the warm water, sugar, and the Active Dry Yeast in a bowl, or large measuring cup. Allow the yeast to “bloom” or grow for 5 minutes. Meanwhile mix together the Bread Flour, Salt, and Italian Seasoning, in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. It is important that the salt is fully incorporated into the flour. Sugar feeds yeast and helps it grow, while salt, especially in larger clumps kills yeast, basically meaning that your dough will not expand as it should.

2. After 5 minutes add the Olive Oil to the yeast mixture. This makes sure that all the liquid is added at the same, and is therefore incorporated equally. Add the Yeast-Olive Oil mixture to the Flour mixture and mix just until combined. When combined remove the paddle attachment and switch to the dough hook attachment.  Allow to knead for 1-3 minutes. Remove dough from standing mixer to a floured surface. Be sure that your hands are well floured when handling this wet dough, and hand knead it for about 2 minutes.

3. Put dough in a covered bowl sprayed with Non-Stick Cooking Spray, and allow to rest until the dough is double in size, around 2 to 3 hours.

4. To bake, preheat oven to 500 degrees, and apply sauce and toppings, and bake for 14 minutes each, whether individual or large pizza. To achieve a really crispy crust you can apply Olive Oil beneath the pan that you are baking your pizza on and it will crisp it up. Otherwise spray with Non-Stick Cooking Spray or apply a thin layer of cornmeal beneath the dough.

5. If you have any left over dough, like we did you can refrigerate it up to 48 hours and make more pizza or any other delicious creation that Kelsey made.

What we did was individual pizzas that everyone could put their own toppings on. We had a smorgasbord of items to choose from to create their own combinations. They included:

Tomato Sauce

Mozzarella cheese, the best and most generic cheese to use with pizzas, though any melty cheese would be delicious

Pepperoni Slices

Ham/Canadian Bacon

Pineapple

Fresh Tomatoes

Diced Peppers

Sliced Red Onions

Chicken, cooked in boiling water to help it be super moist to survive the hot oven temp

Bacon, not cooked too crispy, it will be cooked again in the oven

Ranch, this turns very creamy in the oven and is delicious, don’t be too stingy or you won’t have enough sauce

BBQ Sauce

All of the combinations created sounded, looked, and tasted delicious, but my favorite was the Chicken, Bacon, Cheese, and Ranch, with Red Onion that I made.

I hope that you are able to enjoy this easy, fun meal as much as we did! From my family to yours…

Yummy Asian Roll Lettuce Wraps

A couple of months ago some of our friends invited us to go out to dinner with them to P.F. Changs. Having never eaten there before it was a delicious meal! We had some lettuce wraps there and i really enjoyed them. Now this is in no way a knock off but this is a delicious recipe that I found and tweaked to, what we think is perfection. Now we don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy delicious lettuce wraps and I want to share it with you! And I made these with the Romaine lettuce from my bountiful basket, we also had some steamed zucchini on the side, delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have actually made this a couple different times, tweaking it trying different combos and we believe this is the best. (Note: I had intended to share with you that corn recipe, when I made it, but after tasting it we didn’t like it very much, and I don’t share things unless they pass our like test, or until they have been changed and tweaked until they finally do pass the test. That still has a long way to go.) The good thing is that this is quick, easy, and delicious!

Asian Lettuce Wrap  

Serves about 4 maybe a little more

1 lb ground Turkey or Beef

1 c Brown or White Rice

1 c Water

16 or so large Lettuce leaves, Boston Butter or Romaine will both work nicely, but we found that the Romaine were a little more sturdy

1 c shredded Carrots

1 c Scallions, thinly sliced

1 c sliced Red Bell Pepper

1 c shredded Radishes

1/3 c light Soy Sauce

1/3 c Water

1/3 c Honey

3 Tbsp fresh Lemon Juice, if possible, if not anything that you get from a bottle will work

2 tsp minced Garlic

1 Tbsp minced fresh Ginger Root

1. If you have a rice cooker, cook your rice according to your manufacturers instructions, if not place the rice in a medium sauce pot over medium heat and combine the rice with 2 cups water. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender.  While the rice is cooking, in a large saucepan cook the ground meat until cooked through.

2. Meanwhile begin putting together the sauce in the bowl you will be serving the meat in. Combine the Soy Sauce, Water, Honey, Lemon Juice, minced Garlic, and minced Ginger Root and stir until combined. (Some people don’t like the idea of uncooked Garlic or Ginger, the main idea is to really infuse the flavors into the sauce, little bits will get into your wrap but they only add to the flavor of the whole item. This will also allow your to practice your mincing skills, make those pieces really small and then you won’t have a big chunk of Garlic or Ginger.) Tip: When you get your Ginger root look for a smaller one, unless you use ginger often you don’t want it to go to waste. You want to make sure that you take off the outer skin, but not need to worry about using a peeler on that tricky little guy, use your knife to just cut off the skin, its okay if you take of a little Ginger, it will save you grief and time. One more thing when you cut into your Ginger, pause and breathe in it’s deliciously warm and spicy scent. Smells are very important in the kitchen and it makes the whole process even more enjoyable!

3.  Begin slicing your Bell Pepper and Scallions and I just wash the carrots and radishes and shred them with a large cheese shredder, it’s easy and makes uniform bits. Put the sliced and shredded veggies out in little bowls or on a serving platter. Check on your rice if it is on the stove. Remove any fat from the meat and then pour the meat into your sauce and let them sit together. Then tear off whole Lettuce leaves and wash them off and  pat them dry.  Lay them out on a platter, grab the rice and serve! Delicious meal and is great with the Quinoa recipe here, either as a side or served over the top. It is a little messy though so keep some napkins handy!

Plums are Purple, and Snickers are Sweet,

From my family to yours…

A Long Week and a Light and Delicious Meal

Over the past week or so I have been very back and forth. One day I will feel ready to go and conquer the day, and the next I will feel exhausted and ill, either in body or mind, and it’s lucky if I make the bed. It’s kind of tiring, but I am still, trying to move forward.

Lately, I have been working to get hired on as a Food Service Assistant Substitute for the Boise School District. So basically, when someone calls in sick or goes on vacation, I would get a call to fill in for them. It’s the base job that you have to sign up for first, and then you can move upwards as positions become available. I am excited to be able to work with kids and food!

Today I have for  you a delicious recipe, it is so light and fresh it might just be the thing that gets me back on my feet for the rest of this week. I got this recipe from the blog Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and it is so good! Let me also share with you some information about the “Mother Grain”: Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa)which is featured in this recipe. Quinoa is also a super grain. Though it is not a true grain, its small seeds are treated as such. It is gluten-free and therefore prefect for those who have wheat allergies (Sarah!). Also, it is perfect for those who are Vegan or Vegetarian, because the seeds form a complete protein, with all of the essential amino acids, and they also contain important vitamins and minerals as well as carbohydrates and fat! Talk about an awesome seed! Quinoa can be found in most super markets, but I like to get it in the bulk foods area of Winco (my favorite store).

Black Bean and Sweet Corn Quinoa Salad

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 medium Yellow Onion, chopped

2 cloves Garlic, minced

3/4 cup uncooked Quinoa, rinsed

1-1/2 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth

2 tsp ground Cumin

1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper

1 cup frozen Sweet Corn

2 (15-ounce) cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped

1-In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When shimmering and hot, add the onions and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two until the garlic is fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic.

2-Add the quinoa and cover with broth. Stir in cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes (or until all the liquid is absorbed).

3-Stir in the frozen corn and black beans. Cover and let the pot sit off the heat until the corn and beans are heated through, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Serve warm or chilled – it is delicious both ways!

I hope that you find this as delicious as we did! It’s perfect as a side dish or you could serve it with grilled chicken or pork or along with any mexican themed dish we also really liked it with asian dishes. It’s good with almost anything!

Plums are Purple, and Snickers are Sweet,

From my family to yours…

And here’s hoping that your week has been more productive than mine!

Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Even before I knew anything at all about cooking, I felt I was a master of Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. So Simple, but so delicious, and classic. The recipe below has been modified to my taste, but I will make a note with the original heat level. This is delicious for lunch or dinner, and is not difficult to make.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Spicy Tomato Cheese Soup

Sandwiches:

1  can of Campbell’s Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup

8 oz shredded Mexican Cheese Blend

1 Loaf of Bread, either Ciabatta, French, or a regular high-quality bread, sliced 1/2″ thick

1/2 stick of Butter

Soup:

1 can of Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup

1 can of Campbell’s Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup

1 c of Milk*

2 c Spicy Vegetable Juice*

2 tsp Hot Sauce

1 tsp Italian Seasonings

Sandwiches: 1. Heat a pan over medium heat on the stove. In a bowl combine the Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup with the shredded cheese. Spread the cheese mixture over bread slices, and butter the outside of the bread. Place the sandwiches in the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, and the cheese has become melted.

Soup: 2.Combine all the soup ingredients in a medium saucepan, and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Serve in smaller bowls, or mugs with the sliced sandwiches.

*Omit the 1 c of Milk and add another cup of Spicy Vegetable Juice, if you like Spicy-Medium heat in your foods.

This is also a great “Leftover Item,” especially when there is just two to feed. Just leave the soup in the fridge and the cheese spread in a Tupperware bowl, again in the fridge, and when you feel like having more, all you’ll need to do is heat up a pan to cook the grilled cheese and reheat the soup! Super easy and still delicious!

Do you have a twist on a Classic recipe that is your favorite? Tell me about it!