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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cooking failure…

I was so excited to make hummus the other day because it is my favorite dip and I haven’t had it in about two weeks! Gasp! (I make it weekly and eat is all on my own because Bryan does notlove it).
I have heard that hummus is much better if you start with the dried garbanzo beans rather than the canned garbanzo beans. It made sense to me, and I was willing to try anything that would make my already mouth-watering hummus even a bit better.
So, the night before I put my garbanzo beans in a pot of cold water and set it in the refrigerator overnight to soak. When I got home from work the next day I immediately started making the hummus.
I added everything to the food processor and turned it on.
Humph. I thought to myself, “I know my blades need to be sharpened, but they are not that dull.” So, I took everything out of the food processor, made sure I had it put together correctly (I did – it is not that hard – it is just a food processor) and thought I would miraculously  have better luck. I turned on the food processor but things just did not look right.  
So, I decided that maybe with dried garbanzo beans it takes longer to combine and get all silky smooth so I left it running for about a minute longer than normal.
Finally, I gave up and decided that dry garbanzo beans were not for me. As I was pouring the edible but not great hummus into a container to take to work, I realized something important: You have to COOK the dried and then soaked garbanzo beans! When they are canned they are cooked!
I won’t share the recipe or the pictures with you as it is all wrong, but I’ll try it again next week and (hopefully) have success so I can give you the full recipe.
We are all human and make mistakes when we are cooking, and I am not immune from that!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Homemade Pizza

Homemade BBQ Pizza
For more than a year Bryan and I made Pizza every Sunday night. It was a great tradition but we put the tradition on hold because I got tired of Pizza and wanted to expand our pallet beyond the staple food of kids and college students. We tried to come up with appetizer recipes, but we have not been as committed to appetizers and are back to eating pizza weekly.
My sister found this pizza crust recipe somewhere and I like to modify it (imagine that)! It is a yeast dough that has to rise, but I made the crust, let it rise, assembled the pizza, baked it, and sat down to eat in an hour so do not let it overwhelm you.
The dough can be kneeded with a bread hook on a stand mixer or you can kneed it by hand. I rarely use the stand mixer as that means more dishes.
When you combine the yeast and water it will look like this:

Continue to stir the yeast and water until it looks like cloudy water.
Add the salt, olive oil, honey and 1 cup of flour. Add additional flour (you will probably add 2 cups total flour) until it looks like this:

Once the dough looks like the above picture you are ready to start kneeding by hand.
TIP: Take off your jewelry! You can see why in the pictures below.
To kneed, gather all of the dough in one side of the bowl (I put it in the bottom of the bowl). Place ½ c. flour or less in the bowl that does not have dough (for me this is the top of the bowl). Cup your hand where the flour is (at the top of the bowl) and slide your hand toward the dough. Your hand should be in a loose cup shape, like above, and as you gather the dough in your hand push down you wrist. Replace your hand at the top of the bowl and repeat many times.
When the dough is sticky, add more flour, adding ¼ c. at a time and continue kneeding. Repeat this process as much as necessary but do not use more flour than the recipe calls for.
One way I know that I have added enough flour is that the dough no longer sticks to my hand and looks like this:

Place the dough in a container that is at least twice its size and has an airtight lid. Put the plug in your kitchen sink and fill the sink with 120 degree water. You want to fill the sink so that the dough in its container sits in water but does not float. Leave the dough in the water until it is double in size. (The recipe calls for an hour, but I wait for the airtight lit to pop off and then move on. Time is of the essence, right?) Once the airtight lid pops off the dough it will be about double in size and will look like this:

Homemade Pizza Dough:
1 pkg or 1 Tbsp. yeast dissolved in 1 c. 120 degree water
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. honey
2 ½ - 3 ½ c. flour
Once the yeast is dissolved in the water add the salt, olive oil, and honey. Stir to combine and then add 1 cup of flour. Stir to combine. Add another cup of flour and start kneeding the dough and adding the additional flour as necessary.
Cover, and let rise for 1 hour.
Spread on a pan, and bake the dough alone at 450 degrees for 5-7 minutes.
Take the pizza out of the oven and assemble the pizza, then bake at 450 degrees for 10-13 minutes longer.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuna Salad

I love to spend time in the kitchen and honestly, the more complicated and time consuming the recipe, the better! Reality and my dreams are not congruent, as I do not always have time to make a glamorous and nutritious meal while life goes on around me (and I am sure that I am not alone in this feeling).
Therefore, one of my goals with this blog is to try to find or make up some fast recipes for weeknight meals. I can already tell this will require some creativity on my part as the only fast meals I know are also a bit dull. I think we all can benefit, so let me know if you have suggestions or things you make that are fast, tasty, and nutritious.
Our recent fast meal proves that I have some work to do as it was very common/plain. Actually, it was plain and tasty – so I succeeded in at least one aspect!
Advance preparation helped make this a quick supper as I served the tuna salad on the cornmeal rolls I made earlier this week (which are oh-so good!) In addition, I boiled two eggs this morning while I was getting ready to go to work and put them as well as a can of tuna in the fridge so that we could eat cold tuna salad sandwiches tonight. You see, I have an aversion to room-temperature tuna. I like my protein either hot or cold. Period.
To a can of drained, water packed tuna, I added:
 2 chopped hard boiled eggs
1/8 c. chopped onions
¼ tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp. lime juice
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
I planned to eat this 4 times, (supper for Bryan and I and then lunch for Bryan and I) but we were hungry and ate it all in one sitting J.  
I had some frozen vegetables in the refrigerator so I steamed those and drizzled some balsamic vinaigrette and chopped dried cherries for garnish. I don’t love vegetables; actually, I don’t even like them. As a matter of fact, I asked my dad if I could be a meat-atarian when I was a child! Alas, I know that I need them so I eat them. As I was eating and wishing I had fresh vegetables instead I decided that I am embracing summer and all of its bounty so I will not buy frozen vegetables.
At least for awhile.
At least until I get in a rush and go for the fast, easy option.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I am lame. I was awake for more than half of the night last night thinking about the things I wanted to post in the coming days. You would think that would mean that I would post an in-depth, complicated, difficult recipe today, but all of my energy is gone so tonight we dined on pancakes and sausage.
The recipe came from The Milk Free Kitchen, one of my go-to recipe books as I have an allergy to dairy. When I first found out I was allergic to dairy I decided I would ignore it and go on with my life. That did not work so well so my Mom came to my rescue and made me go shopping to look for dairy-free alternatives. My husband got me the cookbook and between the two I slowly started to embrace my new found cooking challenge and slightly limited diet. I am happy to report that the alternatives are not bad and that I can make almost anything dairy free. 99% of the things I make are based on dairy-filled recipes so I modify when I am cooking but I will post the regular recipe here for the masses of blessed dairy indulging readers J
This is one of the few dairy free recipes I have and follow to a “T” but I promise you will not miss it in the recipe (and you are lucky because you can use real butter to top the pancakes)! As a matter of fact, my sister and brother-in-law make it as their go-to pancake recipe.
1 c. flour                                               3 Tbsp. sugar
2 ¼ tsp. baking powder                 1 Tbsp. cornmeal
¼ tsp. salt                                            2 ½ Tbsp. margarine
¾ c. water                                           1 egg    
Heat a frying pan and melt the margarine in it. Tip the pan from side to side to grease it well all over. Pour out the melted margarine into a mixing bowl. Add the water and egg and mix well. Add in the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Like muffins, it is possible to over stir pancakes, so stir as little as possible.

Cook the pancakes on the stove top. Once they bubble, they are ready to flip and only take a few minutes after they are flipped.

I have little coordination so I make these smaller than you would get in a restaurant.
I eat these with peanut butter but they are of course good with syrup or your favorite topping.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Indian spice Risotto

Last night I grilled a marinated pork tenderloin and it….was….wonderful! There was some left over for us to have tonight so I made some risotto as my way of making leftovers a bit more exciting.

I have made many versions of this including ranch risotto, pea risotto, and more. Tonight I made Indian spice risotto with turmeric, garam masala, paprika, and chili powder so it is more yellow than traditional risotto but I have never been one to follow traditional cooking.

¼ c. olive oil                                                1 c. chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 c. dry risotto or arborio rice
1 c. white wine                                            1 c. chicken stock
1 c. milk                                                       Peas
¾ tsp turmeric                                             ¾ tsp garam masala
¾ tsp paprikia                                             ¾ tsp chili powder.
Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the risotto and brown risotto in olive oil for 3-4 minutes.

Turn burner to low and add the wine. Stir.

When the wine is mostly absorbed, add the chicken stock.
Stir and when that is absorbed, add the milk. This will take approximately ½ hour. Stir the risotto occasionally.
Add the peas and spices. Serve when heated through.
This would have been great with minced ginger. The creamy risotto hit the spot!

Risotto is a small pasta, kind of like rice, that is creamy and takes on the flavors of the things you add with it. It is not as fast as pasta and takes more babysitting than rice, but it is d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s! I make it for my brother-in-law because I know how much he likes it. While it is not as easy as a frozen pizza, it is worth every bit of effort! It is so good that he bought some for himself and has decided to make it on his own.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cornmeal Rolls

There is an unwritten rule in our house – that the oven is not turned on when it is hot outside. I had to make an exception today because I have been craving these fluffy, soft, rolls and I was afraid that if I did not make them now I might not get to make them until September or October. Plus, since I made the rule I feel like I can break it, right?
My family has been making these Cornmeal Rolls for almost two decades. The source of the recipe is unknown, but I believe it came from Taste of Home. I decided to make them with whole wheat flour so I included 1 ½ c. whole wheat flour and 2 ½ c. white flour instead of the usual 4 c. white flour. They are still very good, and I will make them like this again.
Cornmeal Rolls
1/3 c. cornmeal                                                
½ c. sugar
2 t. salt                                                                                 
½ c. shortening (oil)
2 c. milk                                                                               
1 pkg. or 1 T. active dry yeast
¼ c. warm water (110 – 120 degrees)                     
2 beaten eggs
4 c. flour
Cook cornmeal, sugar, salt, oil and milk in microwave or saucepan until thick (like cooked cereal).  Cool to 110-120 degrees. 

Add yeast which has been dissolved in warm water, then eggs.  Beat thoroughly.  Add flour to form soft dough.  Place in bowl; cover; let rise. 

Punch down.  Roll out to 1 inch thickness; cut with 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter. 

Brush with melted butter; dust with cornmeal.  Place on greased cookie sheet; cover; let rise.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.  (Dough will keep in refrigerator for several days.)

I love these with homemade jam but they are also great with tuna salad or other cold meat.

I will freeze these into small portions so we can get them out of the freezer and eat when we would like.