Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pizza Night!

I love pizza, it's one of my favorite foods. After moving to Colorado, we tried to find a great local pizza shop. After trying half a dozen places we still haven't found a place that checks all the boxes.
- Great crust
- Reasonable price
- Fast delivery
- Yummy Toppings

A few years ago I bought a cast iron pizza pan that lives in my oven ready to make bread and crisp pizza crusts. The great thing about making your pizza is you can customize it for your family. Does everybody love thin crust? Make it as thin as you want! Lots of toppings? Load them on.

Homemade pizza can easily be transformed into calzones too, but let's save that for another day.

This pizza is our meatless meal of the week. When I pick our meatless meal, I look for something with lots of flavors and textures so that the meat lover in my house wont be left unsatisfied.

I like to make my own whole wheat pizza dough but most supermarkets carry dough in the freezer section so if you don't have time feel free to pick that up instead. Whenever I make pizza dough I double the recipe, one for this week that I put in the fridge and one for another time that I put in the freezer.

I make the dough over the weekend and then let the dough sit in the fridge until I'm ready to use it. Dough that has been in the fridge for a few days has a better flavor and texture than whole wheat dough that you've just made. When you get home from work just take it out of the fridge and let it warm up on the counter so it will be easier to roll.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough recipe slightly adapted from KitchenMinions

Ingredients for 2 pizzas
- 2 packets active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoonful salt
- 1 tablespoonful brown sugar
- 1/2 tablespoonful olive oil

1.) Stir together the yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup warm water in a large stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook and let sit for about 5 minutes until the mixture is puffy and smells yeasty
2.) Add all but 1/2 cup of the flour, the remaining water, salt and oil into the bowl and turn the mixer onto medium
3.) Knead the dough until it forms a ball, adding flour as needed. The dough should be slightly tacky but not so sticky it cannot be handled
4.) Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl
5.) Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for about 90 minutes
6.) Divide the dough into 2 balls and store in the refrigerator if being used in 1 week or freezer for later use

Portobello Mushroom and Goat Cheese Pizza

- 1 ball of whole wheat dough
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1-2 oz goat cheese
- 1 large portobello mushroom, gills and stem removed, sliced about 1/4"
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

1.) Preheat your oven to 500 for at least 20 minutes with your pizza pan on the middle rack
2.) Heat up the oil in a pan then add the mushroom, saute until tender and golden
3.) Add the garlic, salt and pepper and saute for about 1 minute more, transfer onto a plate
4.) Roll out the pizza dough onto floured parchment paper
5.) Spread the sauce on the pizza followed by the cheeses and top with the mushroom
6.) Quickly put the pizza on the pizza pan and cook for about 10 minutes until the dough is cooked and the cheese is all melty
7.) Let the pizza cool for a couple of minutes then dig in!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to: Make Almond butter

Has anyone else noticed that nut butters are getting really expensive at the store? Lately it seems you can rarely find a jar of almond butter for less than $5. A few months ago I noticed roasted almonds were on sale in the bulk department of my supermarket. I decided it was time to make my own nut butter and now I don't think I could go back! The result is better and cheaper than what you can buy and it also gives you the chance to make some unique flavors.

The only special equipment you need is a food processor. Otherwise making your own jar of nut butter is super simple.

I decided to make Vanilla Cinnamon Almond butter this time.

-2 teaspoonfuls of cinnamon
-1 teaspoonful of vanilla extract
-2 1/2 cups of roasted almonds

1.) Put all the almonds in your food processor
2.) Turn the food processor on and let it go until you have almond butter!
3.) Add the vanilla and cinnamon and stir to combine

I will say it will sound pretty scary when you first turn on the food processor. The nuts will go through several stages. First they will just get chopped up and then they will turn into a powder. Soon a big ball of paste will form. You may think it's not going to work out but just let it keep running and all of a sudden the paste loosens and you have nut butter!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Italian Wedding Soup

Fresh snow!

When it's cold and snowy outside I love to make a big pot of soup and fresh bread for dinner. This soup definitely eats like a meal with all the different ingredients and textures.

I loosely based this recipe off of Full Fork Ahead with some modifications to allow for less dishes, ingredients and time.

Whenever I'm chopping up vegetables I save any scraps that could be used for chicken stock later. Think onion or carrot peels, carrot/celery ends, garlic skins, herb stems and things like that. I keep a gallon size freezer bag in the freezer for this. When I have 2 full of vegetables and chicken bones I make stock.


-1-2 tablespoons of oil (olive, canola, etc)
-1 diced onion
-2 cloves of garlic minced
-1 cup diced carrots
-3/4 cup diced celery
-1/2 cup white wine-- This is not a necessity...but if you're opening a bottle anyways you might as well!
-8 cups low sodium chicken stock
-1 cup small pasta
-12 ounces baby spinach/arugula mix
-1 lb fresh chicken sausage, casings removed (choose a flavor you love, I picked tomato basil)
-a pinch or 2 of red pepper flakes (if you like it spicy)

1.) Heat your oil in a stock pot or dutch oven. Once the oil is hot add the onions and saute until translucent
2.) Add the garlic, carrots and celery and cook until the veggies have softened
3.) Deglaze the pot with white wine and scrape any brown bits off the bottom. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
4.) Roll the chicken sausage into small meatballs and drop into the pot, stir occasionally to make sure the meatballs don't stick together.
5.) Adjust the heat to keep the soup at a simmer. After about 5 minutes add the pasta and continue simmering the soup until the pasta is cooked.
6.) After the ingredients are all cooked, add the spinach and stir until wilted. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
7.) Serve with bread for dipping and maybe some Parmesan cheese to top it all off!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mexican Quinoa Casserole

 I'm big into casseroles right now. Not only are they usually pretty easy to make but they almost always have leftovers.

I based this recipe off of Savor the Rainbow with a few changes.

-1 lb cooked shredded chicken (I poached 2 large chicken breasts)
-1 tsp oil (olive, canola, etc)
-1 medium onion sliced
-2 garlic cloves minced
-1-15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 cup uncooked quinoa
-1 small sweet potato cubed
-1 cup frozen corn
-1 packed frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry
-1 Tbs tomato paste
-1-15oz jar salsa
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1.) Preheat the oven to 375
2.) Bring to a boil 1-1/2 cups of water. Once boiling add the quinoa, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the water is absorbed
3.) Once the quinoa is cooked (or just get another pan if you love washing dishes) pour it into an 11 x 7 pan. In the same pot that cooked the quinoa, heat enough oil to sweat the onions.
4.) Once the onions begin to brown, add the garlic and heat for about 1 minute. Then add the tomato paste and cook for another minute or so.
5.) Add the onion mixture to the quinoa.
6.) Add the chicken, beans, sweet potato, corn, spinach and 1/2 the salsa. Mix to combine. Then cover with cheese and remaining salsa.
7.) Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is bubbling

If I were to make this again I would mix all of the salsa into the casserole. I would also add some additional spices to give some more heat. Otherwise this was a great meal to pack a lot of veggies into without making a big mess. My dish-washing husband appreciates that!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Grocery Store Woes...

After working all day the last thing I feel like doing is trying to figure out what to make for dinner and then go to the grocery store. I like to go to the store once a week and that's it. So what's a girl to do?

Menu planning is the answer.

Make a plan and stick with it. I like to have at least one vegetarian, one meat and one fish each week. That way you don't get bored making the same things every week.

I get inspiration from different places. I love, I get a lot of great ideas there. I also get recipes from my mom and sister or from magazines like Cooking Light.

I start with a blank piece of paper. Then I write out the days of the week when I'll need to make dinner. As I find recipes I want to make I write the name under the weekday and then on the back of the paper I write what ingredients I need to buy. Then I take the list to the store and all of a sudden grocery shopping is quick and painless.

Here's what my week looks like:
Sunday: Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole and Salad
Monday: Leftovers (no one said you had to cook every night)
Tuesday: Italian Wedding soup with fresh bread
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Spinach and mushroom pizza on homemade whole wheat pizza crust

I typically try to plan for enough leftovers for lunches too.

Latte "helping" make dinner

I'm never alone in the kitchen. We have a very curious Siamese who always wants to be where the action is. If she's not underfoot while you're trying to cook she is sitting on the trash can next to the island trying to sneak a piece...

Hello Blog World!

I know what you're thinking, another food blog? What's going to set this one apart from the others?

The photography?

Probably not. I want my pictures of food to look nice but I'm not a pro.

The funny commentary?

Now that one is a possibility, my life is pretty funny. I'm a Massachusetts transplant in Colorado Springs trying to figure out where my life is taking me. I recently graduated pharmacy school with my PharmD and I couldn't be more excited to finally have some free time, ya know and hobbies! Speaking of hobbies I love to run. I started running about a three years ago and have really enjoyed it. I really like longer distances like 10ks and half marathons.  I've completed 2 full marathons and can't wait for the next one.

Well then what? The food. The food will set this apart.

I also love food. Food has been a huge part of my whole life. My dad is a great cook, especially when it comes to grilling and bbq. At my parent's house there are always at least 3 grills/smokers of various sizes and types. Sunday dinner is kinda a big deal. It's just nice to sit down with family friends, eat some great food and get ready for the week. I love sharing my cooking creations with others. My sister is an amazing baker. You can find her at Decorate This! she did my wedding cake as well as the wedding cakes for a couple of my friends. Her cupcakes are amazing too. Every time I come home we also try to bake something together.

Although I can bake, nothing is as polished or covered in fondant. It just tastes good. As much as I love to bake I also love cooking savory dishes. My husband appreciates home cooked lunches and dinners almost every night of the week. Speaking of a husband, we've been married just over 3 years but have unfortunately lived apart for most of the time. Our jobs take us apart from each other on a regular basis but he is now located in Colorado too!