Sunday, November 28, 2010

New blog

I'm switching over to a new blog name!  I think that the name sounds better, even though it is not witty in the least.  Oh well!  In Krista's Kitchen

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pork Sandwiches

Or as my friend Sarah would call them, "BBQ sandwiches".  Many fights have been fought over what constitutes as BBQ, but I'm pretty sure that you need to be more specific when you say "we're eating BBQ".  Anyway, this meal was pretty easy.  I managed to prep everything and throw it in the slow cooker in about 30 minutes, and that counts the two times that I ran to the store across the street to get something.  I put Alex in charge of making the buns (since I had to go to work and couldn't clone myself quickly enough to bake a batch), and even though he was a little apprehensive about being in charge of something beyond stir-fry, the buns turned out great.  I ate a whole bun by itself before dinner.  And the meat smelled so amazingly-awesome that I started forking off pieces and dunking them in BBQ sauce while I waited for my fries to hurry up.
This recipe is from Life's Ambrosia

  • 3 lbs of pork shoulder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (5 pound) bone-in pork shoulder
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
Combine all of the spices and rub the pork down.
Let the pork rest a bit- preferably overnight.
Chop up the onion and lay it on the bottom of the slow cooker.
Place the meat on top of the onions and fill the slow cooker with the beef broth and water.
Cook on low for 8 hours.
Scoop the meat up with a slotted spoon and encourage the meat to fall apart by pulling at it with two forks.  This step should be a breeze.
Eat the meat in a sandwich, burrito, fajita, enchilada, whatever works.

Belated Pumpkin Pie

Black Friday for me was pretty... lame.  I'm glad that I didn't wake up early like I had intended to.  Granted, my version of early was 7 am.  Alex and I managed to eventually roll out of bed and get to the shopping area where I quickly flew off to Bed Bath and Beyond.  For some silly reason I figured that BBB would have spectacular deals, and I would have been one super sad shopper if I had gotten there three minutes later.  The ONLY Black Friday deal they had was 20% off of your entire purchase, if you got there by 10 am that is.  This did end up saving me a grand total of ten bucks, but I had to work hard to find stuff that I actually want/need. This trip to BBB made me realize that BBB sucks when it comes to food prep equipment.  They really don't have anything that I need that is high enough quality for me to actually want it.  I did manage to pick up some "necessities" though (pastry brush, glass cutting board for Alex since he hates our plastic ones, more measuring spoons because I can never have enough, and a pastry mat).

So... I had A LOT of pumpkin puree left over from my cornbread, and I promised Alex that I would make him a pie with it.  I almost changed my mind about making this pie after Alex ate FIVE slices of pie yesterday, but I wanted to make some for myself.  I chose to make this particular recipe because 1) it doesn't require making a legit pie crust and 2) the filling is "paleo" friendly (which means that it contains stuff that only paleolithic people ate- Alex is a fan of this approach to eating).  Wherever a paleo woman ever managed to scrounge up honey, pumpkin pie spice, coconuts, salt, and vanilla extract is beyond me.  Anyway, I wanted to continue to Thanksgiving theme by making this tonight.  I also wanted to use the arrowroot starch that I bought weeks ago, and can't find any recipes with starch in them that I really want to make with it. Oh, and hear is a list of all of the things that I am thankful for, starting with the most obvious.
  • my hunk of a man
  • my mom- who is my best friend.  No joke.
  • all of the other members of my families
  • my obese cats
  • my horses and all that they have made me become
  • the fact that I got into such a great school with a pretty awesome Chinese dept.
  • the fact that my mom gained some weight and had to give me her brand-new super coat (thanks mom!)
  • the fact that I picked up a love of cooking/baking
  • China- for being so bizarre and quirky 
  • the fact that I am no longer such a picky eater
  • my kitchenaid mixer
  • the fact that I finally started a work out that gets me off of the elliptical
  • Netflix- best subscription service ever
On with the recipe!

  • 2 cups ginger snap- I made my own using my recipe below (they may or may not have been fudged, but it doesn't matter since why would you make the pedestal better than the item on display?)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup

  • 1 ½ cups of pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (I used a recipe here to make my own, since I have all of the ingredients and PP spice is pretty expensive for something that you only use during one season and then it goes bad)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Crush up the gingersnap cookies and combine with the maple syrup and olive oil.  Press into the bottom of a 9x9 pie plate (2 cups of cookies gave me enough crust to fill in the bottom of the plate, but not the sides).  If you are having problems mooshing the crust into the plate, let the crumbs soak a little bit longer in the olive oil and maple syrup.  
Combine all of the ingredients for the filling in a pretty large bowl and STIR WELL.  I would have used my stand mixer to do this, but it was dirty.  I probably would have saved a bit of time if I had, since I had issues with my arrowroot starch clumping up. 

Pour the filling into the crust.  Bake for about 50 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees.   Cool in the fridge (I found it best after a night in the fridge) and eat with a mound of whipped cream.

I was pretty surprised by this recipe (mainly because it came out actually looking like pumpkin pie).  I was kind of indifferent to the pie after an hour in the fridge, but this morning I couldn't stop myself from going back for a second piece of breakfast pie.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Puree

My contribution to the Thanksgiving family feast tomorrow is my pumpkin cornbread.  A few weeks ago  I noticed that none of the grocery stores that I shop at had any pie pumpkins out.  I was horrified!  It was as if all of the pie pumpkins had been bought up by Libby's and processed so that the 2010 pumpkin shortage wouldn't reoccur.  I prematurely decided that I was defeated, and picked up a can of pumpkin.  However, last night I had a hankering for some Neapolitan pizza and didn't have any tomatoes.  I chose to shop at a store that I always forget exists, mainly because they specialize in cheese.   As I walked up to the storefront (I had walked all the way there, assuming that it wouldn't take as long as it did...), I noticed that there was a HUGE CRATE FULL OF PIE PUMPKINS.  I almost died.  I also almost bought 5 so that I could make a ton of puree and freeze it, but then I realized that there was no way that I was going to carry 5 pumpkins + other purchases home in the cold.  So... this Thanksgiving I am thankful that I was able to purchase a legit pumpkin, and not have to feed my family Libbys.'s.  I mean, if I was busy actually doing homework or making more than just my pumpkin cornbread I would probably use canned pumpkin, but I like avoiding doing my term paper way too much to not spend time actually cutting up/gutting/baking/scooping out pumpkin.

Pie pumpkin!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut off the stem and slice the pumpkin in half.

Place pumpkin halves face-down on a cookie sheet covered with tin foil.
Cover the pumpkin halves with tin foil (this helps with evenly cooking the pumpkin since there is a huge gaping hole where the stem used to be (at least the way I cut the pumpkin since I'm too weak to cut off the stem in one go)).
Bake for an hour and a half.
Let the pumpkin cool and then scoop out the seeds.  This step can be done before the pumpkin is baked, but I find it easier to remove the seeds and guts post-baking.  Save the seeds if you like them, but I just throw them away.  Scoop out the pumpkin flesh and mash it to smithereens or use a mixer.  My pumpkin remains stringy because I don't have any fancy equipment to completely puree it, but I kind of like the added texture in my cornbread.  I'm sure once I get a food processor or food mill I will change my mind, but that has to wait until I go home for Christmas I nab my mom's.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gingersnap Cookies

Since Alex and I are moving to China at the end of this summer, I'm really making an effort to use up my spices. It doesn't help that the recipes that I'm using to use up all of these spices call for other spices, so I just end up buying more spices anyway! Tonight I was able to make these cookies without having to buy any extra spices, so I was pretty ecstatic about that. No lie. However, I didn't have any ground cloves. I went all mega-domestic and ground my own. This was accomplished by mashing whole cloves with a teaspoon, then rolling the cloves with a rolling pin, and then repeating the mashing with the teaspoon. I NEED a mortar and pestle. I need a lot of things that I don't have space for though =/. Anyway, cookies aren't usually on my list of things to make. Ever. I don't think that I have baked any sweets since I was scarred in high school. I spent hours and hours baking and decorating a cake for some guy, and he had the gall to tell me that it was dry. However, these cookies really spoke to me (mainly because I have a lot of molasses).

  • 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
Combine dry ingredients in mixer bowl.
Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
Combine them both and mix in a mix stand with the paddle attachment.
Cover (a pot lid fits on my kitchenaid stand bowl just fine) and place in the freezer for an hour- or until firm.
Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil.  Spray hands with PAM and shape the dough into sixteen 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 12 minutes- or until done.

Let cool, dunk in milk.

Update:  These may be the best cookies that I have ever had.  Not only do they taste great without butter, but there is really no need for sugar on these bad boys at all.  I think that the small amount of sugar that I did sprinkle on top added some texture, but that is it.  I am having a hard time now scarfing all of them down at once, and I almost started crying when I tucked some into Alex's school bag (because I'm a greedy little gremlin.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Noodle Soup

When I was in China I ate noodle soup probably 3-4 times a week.  It took me a while to get used to eating it for breakfast, but it was usually my only breakfast option while we were in Beijing.  During that time all I could think about was how much I missed eating cereal and crumpets, but now I look back on my noodle soup and dumpling breakfasts with fond memories.  Anyway, since coming back to the states I have been eating a lot of pho, since there aren't any great Chinese places around.  I decided to make my own, and I started with beef.  I'm going to try making a chicken version in the future, since I know that my sister will actually eat chicken pho.  I found an inauthentic recipe (I didn't want to buy oxtail or any other exotic ingredients) online at Life's Ambrosia
Considering the simplicity of the ingredients (which essentially made seasoned beef broth with noodles) , it was pretty darn good.

  • 4 cups beef broth (this is the average size carton of broth)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half, one half thinly sliced, leave the other half whole
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves (making this meal made me realize that I have doubles of A LOT of spices, cloves included)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound round steak, thinly sliced
  • fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt
  • 1 (8.8) ounce package of thin rice noodles
  • bean sprouts
  • 1 – 2 jalapenos, sliced (I forgot to add this, and it probably would have had that extra kick that I noticed was missing)
  • cilantro, chopped
  • sriracha and hoisin sauce (optional)
Put garlic, unsliced onion half, cloves, cinnamon stick and beef broth in a pan and bring to a boil.  Cover and lower to a simmer, and let it cook for an hour.  This is probably one of the best aromas that I have ever smelled.  With about ten minutes left on the timer, start cooking the rice noodles according to the package instructions.  Drain the noodles and combine with the broth.  Allow the noodles to truly become married with the flavor of the broth, which will take about 5-10 minutes, otherwise the noodles will taste a bit bland.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with sliced cooked beef, sliced onion, cilantro, bean sprouts, jalapeno, and sriracha and hoisin sauce.  This recipe makes enough for about 2 people.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spicy Roast Beef

I don't like to remake entree recipes often, unless they are really really basic (think tex-mex or stir fry).  I think that if I make them too often (~4 times a year), then I will tire of them.  I have a history of endlessly eating and tiring of food... Smacks cereal, macaroni and cheese, and other foods that I've repressed in order to prevent myself from crying every time I walk past them in the store.  So far I've only been able to regain my will to eat the blueberry cranberry bread from the Breadsmith, a loaf of which I can devour in a sitting.  Good thing I'm never actually in town on the days that it is made, otherwise I would probably have sausage fingers from all of the carbs.  Anyway, moving away from bread... Today I made a roast, the same roast that I made about a month ago!  Alex and I were debating whether or not to go to Outback (which I think we went to like four times in the last two months... yikes!)  I won out, and got to make a roast.  The crushed pepper really added an nontraditional kick to this roast.  It didn't help that I apparently didn't mix the spices well enough, so occasionally there would be bite of very ferocious tasting beef.  We had our friend Sarah come over for dinner, even though the poor girl wasn't fed for like two hours because we didn't get back from the grocery store until much later than anticipated.  Alex really liked the roast, I really liked the roast, and Sarah will be coming back for dinner again.

This recipe is very SLIGHTLY modified from Food People Want


  • 1.5 lb boneless eye-round roast
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground red pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped to a paste.  Or 1 tsp garlic paste.
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Rub salt all over the roast the day before (or in my case- two hours before) you plan on baking it for dinner.  Cover and wrap tightly in saran wrap, and place in the fridge.
Prior to baking the roast, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Rub olive oil over roast and then mix up the spices with the garlic and repeat the rubdown.
In an olive-oiled pan large enough to hold the roast, brown every side (for about two minutes).
Place the roast on a rack that is on top of a cookie sheet.  Line the sheet with tin foil to avoid any unnecessary dish washing *shudder*.
Bake in the oven for an hour and twenty minutes at 250.  Turn the stove off and leave the roast in for another 25-30 minutes (or until the roast reaches 130-140 degrees).
Slice, consume.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beef Bulgogi

This is one of the first recipes that I ever made, aside from fajitas.  It is from the Great Food Fast (from Martha Stewart's team of kitchen slaves) cookbook, which was what Alex bought for me a little less than two years ago when I first expressed an interest in cooking.  I made a few meals out of it and most were delicious, and then I fell back into the routine of eating out at restaurants again.  Naturally there are a few flops in this book (and too many fish recipes, gag), but this is truly one of the most scrumptious recipes that I've prepared, ever.  Alex wanted to veggie it to smithereens, and so I obliged and added some extra stuff.  In the future I'll probably be leaving out the added veggies, as I feel that the veggies included in the original recipe shouldn't have to compete with carrots and tomatoes to bring out the flavor of the marinade.

Ingredients *those listed in red are not included in the original recipe, and should probably not be in this one either.
  • 1 lb rib-eye steak- steak substitutions here really detract from the overall awesomeness of this meal, so if you have the money then spend it!
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hot chile sesame oil- if you can't find this then toasted sesame oil with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes will do
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves- minced
  • 1 tbsp peeled and finely grated ginger
  • 2 red onions- cut into wedges
  • 1 green bell pepper- remove seeds and ribs and slice into 1/2 inch strips
  • vegetable or canola oil
  • boston lettuce leaves for wraps
  • carrots
  • tomatoes
  • bean sprouts 

Start cooking brown rice right away according to the package.  This can take up to 45 minutes!  White rice can be cooked right away and then set aside once it has cooked, or it can be started later in the process.
Throw the meat in the freezer for 20 minutes, this will make slicing it into thin strips easier.

Cut up the green pepper and onion.
Combine the soy sauce, hot chile sesame oil, brown sugar, minced garlic, grated ginger in a bowl.
Pour half of the marinade over the vegetables, reserve the rest for marinating the meat.

Slice the beef across the grain into strips.  Marinate for 10-15 minutes with the remaining marinade.
Once the meat has been marinating for about 10 minutes, cook the vegetables in a wok with about two tsp of oil.
Once cooked, set the vegetables aside and use a paper towel to wipe out the wok

Cook the meat until it has been browned, then return the vegetables to the wok.  At this point I added the bean sprouts, carrot shreds, and tomato wedges to the pan.
Cook for a minute or two to reheat the vegetables.

Serve over rice or in a lettuce leaf. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Soft whole wheat sandwich bread

Lately my culinary adventures have all been... unpleasant.  Which has put me in a depression that could smother out an emo kid's emotional distress.  I've made "gourmet macaroni", buffalo chicken burgers, and hummus.  All of which have probably made Alex start to question what I put in front of him at the dinner table.  The failures hurt even more because they all required more effort than I'm used to exerting.  My depression remedy?  Bread.  I mainly made this because I just got Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day  and wanted to dive in.  I also have a ridiculous amount of flour in my pantry right now, and would prefer to get it down to a manageable amount.  I made a loaf of bread and two burger buns with this recipe, and it is truly nom-nom worthy. 

I cut the recipe in half, so that I could remain sane (the original recipe created a boatload of bread).

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tbsp yeast
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
Mix together the dry ingredients in stand mixer.
Mix together the water, honey, eggs, and oil and add it to the dry mixture. 
Cover with saran wrap and let it rest at room temp for 2 hours. 
You can use it right away, or cover it and put it in the fridge.  It can be used over the next 5 days.  If you don't use the dough immediately it will need to rest at room temperature for about 90 minutes after being refrigerated.

Baking instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a sticky (vs. non-stick) loaf pan with Pam.  I don't use nonstick cookware or bakeware, because I'm paranoid. 
Coat the dough with flour so that you can form it into a ball.  Once you have achieved the perfect dough ball (ha), stretch it out into an oval that is as long as the loaf pan. 
Sprinkle with oats, sesame seeds, whatever.

Place the bread in the loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes.  The time required really depends on the size of the pan used.
Remove, cool, chow down.

Hamburger buns

From the original dough batch tug off as many bun-sized wads of dough as desired.  Form into a circle (add flour if necessary), and place on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper.  Cover with saran wrap, press down on the buns, and let sit for 40ish minutes.  REMOVE SARAH WRAP (I forgot for a few minutes...), and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.  Bake in an oven preheated to 350 for about 20 minutes. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Animal Crackers

The other day I stumbled across How Sweet It Is, and proceeded to spend practically every lecture that day bookmarking things that I want to make really really soon.  When I saw the animal crackers, I knew that I needed to devour some immediately.  Finding the cookie cutters turned out to be a real big B, but I was determined to not pay shipping and handling. I abandoned Alex in Game Stop, and then drove like crazy to every home goodsy store in the area trying to find these silly cutters.  Eventually I encountered them, and almost accidentally walked out of the store without paying because I was so frazzled from the whole ordeal.  I made the crackers this evening, because I had originally told myself that I was going to spend the whole night doing homework.  Ha. 

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons buttermilk (I used 4 tbsp of skim milk mixed with 1/4 tsp vinegar)
  • Natural cane sugar
Grind up the oats, I used my awful and noisy blender.
I then dumped the ground oats into my mixer bowl, and added all of the other dry ingredients.
Once they are all blended together, add in the vanilla extract, honey, butter, and buttermilk separately and blend until that ingredient is fully incorporated into the mixture. 
Cover the mixer bowl and place in the fridge for a while (~30 minutes).
Sprinkle a pastry board with flour and roll out the dough to a relatively thin layer.   Add flour to the top of the dough if it sticks to the rolling pin.
Then stamp, stamp, stamp!  Make as many animals/boats as possible, then peel out the excess dough, roll it out, and make even more animals/boats!  Sprinkle/pound some natural cane sugar into the animals. 
Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about five minutes.  I used my pizza stone to bake the crackers, even though my stone is broken in half :(.


Kale Pesto Pasta

The last 24 hours have been AMAZING.  I got to hang out with the family and eat a bunch of cookies, got a new job (suck that, deli!),  tell the deli that I am quitting all that nonsense (I didn't even feel bad, not one bit), finally got the bread cook book that I ordered 3 weeks ago (seriously???), and hit up Penzey's Spices and bought some goodies.  Holy wow at Penzey's. I want to completely replace all of my spices with Penzey's, if not for the superior quality but for the cute containers.  There will be time for that once I live in America permanently...  Anyway, on with what I cooked first today!

I looove pesto.  I once had a friend who worked at Noodles &Company that would give me a meal for about one buck.  Needless to say, I ate at Noodles ALL OF THE TIME.  My go-to meal at Noodles has always been the pesto cavatappi, but these days I have tried to diversify what I get.  God forbid I ever get sick of pesto.  Anyway, I decided that I wanted a healthier and home made pesto sauce for some pasta, and this is what I came up with. I originally tried to grind up the kale with a spoon and a cereal bowl in a mortar-pestle fashion, but failed.  I then contemplated just chewing the kale up and spitting it out bird-style, but in the end I broke down and used my blender.  I hate my blender.  It's loud, smokes?, and is unpleasant to clean.

  • 8-10 leaves of kale (much cheaper than basil)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • feta cheese
  • 2 peeled cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper, if desired
 Boil some water in a pot that is large enough to boil a whole piece of kale in it and to cook the amount of pasta that you want.  Add in the garlic and let the garlic boil for a few minutes.  Add in the kale piece by piece, and allow to soak for about 14 seconds (or long enough for it to mush down so that it isn't crispy anymore).  Remove the kale with a slotted spoon and place in a blender or food processor.  Once all of the kale has been boiled, add the garlic into the blender as well.  Add about 1/4 cup of the extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of cheese, and salt and pepper (I didn't add any).  Pulse or blend until everything has been torn to smithereens.  Cook pasta in the pot for recommended amount of time while this is going down.  Drain pasta, toss it in the pesto sauce, and top with more cheese. I ended up adding a lot of cheese throughout the devouring-process, I blame it on living in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Neapolitan Pizza

I adore Neapolitan-style pizza.  My first taste of it was in high school when a Punch Pizza came to town, and practically every time I return home I make a stop there.  As I have gotten more familiar with Madison, I have found several Neapolitan pizzerias around.  For some reason nobody is as bonkers over this pizza as I am, so I don't get many chances to hit up any of these awesome eateries :(.

Luckily I found a new food blog yesterday, and was inspired when I saw that there was a Neapolitan dough recipe.  I quickly started fantasizing about this pizza, and started the prep work when I got home from the store today.  This dough should be made the day before, but I couldn't wait so I only let it sit for about four hours (and it was awesome).  I'm pretty sure that this is the best pizza dough that I have ever made, which has cut my pizza crust quest rather short.  I'm planning on making some whole-wheat modifications, so I can justify eating it every day. 

This recipe makes enough dough for several pizzas.  The exact amount varies on how large you make them, but it can make up to six.

  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour, chilled
  • 1 3/4  teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon  instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cups water, ice cold
  • cornmeal, for the bottom of the pizza
Combine the dry ingredients in mixer with the paddle.  Add in the olive oil and  water, and mix until all of the ingredients are combined.  At this point switch out the paddle for the dough hook, and continue to mix on a medium setting for about 5 minutes.  The dough should not stick to the sides, but still stick to the bottom of the bowl.  Side note- I think that this dough feels so great that I would pet it if I didn't have cats that would appreciate the attention more.

On a tray or cutting board shape the dough so that you can easily cut it up into the desired amount of separate pizzas (I made four).  Shape each chunk of dough into a ball, brush with olive oil, and place each dough ball in its own freezer bag.  I threw two into the freezer for future use, and placed two in the fridge for immediate usage.

Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator overnight.  Take the dough out two hours before use and allow it to come to room  temperature.  About half an hour before preparing the pizza turn your oven to its highest setting (mine tops out at 500 degrees), and make sure that your pizza stone is placed in the oven.  Shape the dough either by stretching it over your knuckles or with a rolling pin (I used the pin).  Place it on a pizza peel that has a layer of cornmeal already spread out on it, and place the desired toppings on the pizza.  LESS IS MORE.  This is not a chance to make a meat-lovers or garbage pizza, this is a chance to experience the fine flavors of just a few ingredients.  I never ever stray from my basic margherita toppings, because I am a creature of habit.  So this is what I put on my pizza
  • my homemade pizza sauce
  • slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (the good stuff, not the mozzarella that you put on sandwiches or your Americanized pizza)
  • shredded basil
  • another option is to add thin slices of roma tomatoes.  I used all of mine up in the pizza sauce, so I went without

When the pizza is prepared, it makes it much easier if you use a pizza peel to transfer it to the pizza stone.  I do not have a pizza peel, so I did my best with a spatula and spare hand (and semi-failed during the transition).  The pizza stone should be on the middle rack of the oven.  Bake the pizza for about 7-9 minutes, or until the toppings are done and the crust feels substantial. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a minute or two, if you can manage to wait.

The crust isn't very sturdy, so this is definitely a knife and fork kind of pizza!

For those without a stand mixer or pizza stone, check out the link above for instructions on how to prepare this.

 And just  because I make this pizza so often, here is a better picture of what it can look like

Pizza Sauce

I have a couple of jars of pizza sauce sitting in my pantry, but today I wanted to be lazy.  With regards to school that is.  So I decided that I would make my own pizza sauce, and headed to the store after class to pick up some sauce essentials.  I'm not sure if this actually saves any money in the long run, but it is definitely much more satisfying (and time consuming).  Aside from slicing the tomatoes up, it is pretty simple and I can't believe that it never occurred to me to make this before.  I went with a recipe from Dawn's Recipes, and tripled it since I bought quite a bit of tomatoes.  I modified the amount used of some of the ingredients, just to make it a little bit healthier.


  • 3 cups of crushed tomatoes (I made my own)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic, or 3 cloves chopped
    1/3 tsp dried oregano, or 1 tsp fresh chopped oregano
  • 2 pinches of sugar
  • 1 pinch of dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Combine everything together in a saucepan and simmer until the sauce thickens up a bit.  Taste, and add more/different spices if preferred.  I'm planning on eating my sauce all up within the next two days, so I didn't actually go through the canning process, but I'm storing the sauce in jars anyway! 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Whole wheat pizza crust

Alex and I are fortunate enough to live within walking distance to one of the best pizza places in Madison (Glass Nickel), and found ourselves spending $20 on a pizza every time we got the urge.  And we get the pizza urge quite often.  Not only was this adding to our waistline, but it was also emptying out our wallets pretty quickly.  Then one day while we were at my future in-laws, we were about to order a pizza from some chain.  Wendy thought that we were bonkers and suggested making our own pizza.  I was a bit apprehensive, because all of the homemade pizzas that I have had in the past use those pre-made crusts that are absolutely blah.  So I was surprised/relieved/delighted when the pizza turned out to be fabulous.  It was also nice to watch Alex do all of the work for one (just kidding!).  I forgot the recipe (Wendy, will you remind me to write it down the next time we are over!?!?), but I have been experimenting with many others.  Many have been fabulous and relatively unhealthy or tasted fine, but were packed with whole grain and all of the wholesome stuff that accompanies whole grain.  A lot of "whole grain pizza dough recipes" use whole grain AND regular flour, but this one is legitimately whole grain.   I made the dough batch relatively small, but it was still large enough to feed two people.

  • 1 1/2 cups whole grain flour
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast

What to do
 Preheat oven to 425 degrees, place a pizza stone in oven.  Combine the warm water, honey, and yeast together.  Don't dump it in with the rest of the ingredients until the top is all frothy.
 Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a mixer and blend together.  Then add the frothy yeast concoction.  Blend together until you have a ball of dough, which should only take a matter of seconds.

Roll out the dough into desired shape.  If you want you can trim off the edges so your pizza is a circle.  
Pull out the rack that the pizza stone is on and place the dough on it.  Allow to bake for about three minutes.  I find that baking the crust makes it more able to withstand the weight of the pizza toppings.
Remove the pizza stone and place desired ingredients on top.  I only had Green Mill pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a tomato on hand.
Place the pizza stone in the oven once again, and let the pizza bake until desired degree of "doneness".  With whole wheat crust this takes about 8 minutes.

My goal over the next couple of months is to find the perfect pizza dough.  Ideally the dough would consist mainly of whole grain, but I don't think that I'll be happy unless I add some bread flour as well.

Interesting note- I used to work in a pizzeria!  I had just been offered a job working at a local tv station, but being a stupid teenager I decided to work at a pizza place.  I got to work with my best friend Dylan, and your usual bunch of sketchy pizza place employees.
I still miss picking out what hair accessory I was going to wear that day (I was convinced that hair doo-dads got me tips), and hanging out with my buddy-boy Dylan :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Avocado Steak

I found this recipe at Lifes Ambrosia.  I figured that it was worth trying.  I mean, I like steak and I like avocados.  IT WAS GREAT.  I've never seen Alex light up so much, so that was definitely worth all of the "hard work". 

The Ingredients: (LA's recipe called for onion powder, but I didn't have any and it was spectacular without it)

  • 2 pieces of steak
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • juice from 1 lime
What to do
Mix together garlic powder, ground cumin, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and chili powder

Rub it on your chunks of meat.

I then set the meat aside in the fridge for about an hour.  I took this time to make the avocado sauce (and do some pilates).

For the sauce:
Peel the avocado, take out the pit, and chop it into pieces. 

Blend/process all of the avocado sauce ingredients together.
This sauce was delicious, and I'm fairly certain it is the same sauce that our favorite Peruvian restaurant serves as a dip to go with their roasted corn kernels.  

Grill or pan-grill your steaks until they have some pink in the middle.
Serve with the avocado sauce spread over the top.
My happy man

I found this recipe to go very well with the asparagus recipe that I provided below and sliced mango.  Alex has requested this to be made on a monthly basis, we'll see about that...

Everything prepared provided enough for two meals.  Modify as needed.

Basic delicious asparagus

Asparagus used to be one of the vegetables that I would avoid like the plague.  I have distinct memories of sitting in my spot at the dinner table crammed against the wall refusing to eat it, being told that it was too good for me anyway, and then feeling proud of myself for not having to eat a foreign green stick.  Then I actually tried asparagus a few years ago, during the much looked forward to post-teen era.  NUM.  Anyway, I thought that making asparagus would be a big B, and never considered making it for myself.  Since I was a little snot when I was a kid I never paid much attention to how my mom prepared it, so I was kind out of luck.  Until I realized that asparagus is the probably one of the easiest vegetables to prepare.  I haven't deviated much from my basic recipe, which consists of asparagus, sea salt, olive oil and lemon.  Honestly, I haven't found much need to.  Yet.

1 bunch of asparagus
olive oil
sea salt
lemon juice (I use the concentrated stuff that comes in a plastic lemon)

What you need to do:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Line a pan with tin foil
Coat asparagus with olive oil and arrange the stalks.  Use a brush (or hands) to apply oil.
Sprinkle sea salt over the stalks
Squirt a small amount of lemon juice over the stalk arrangement.

Bake for ten minutes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tom's Famous Chili

Or what I like to consider "Fuhget Abaout It!" Chili.  Seriously, aside from browning some hamburger with diced onion and garlic all that you need to do is dump the ingredients in a big pot and walk away for half an hour.  This recipe is from one of my mamacita's coworkers.  I've made it for Alex and myself on a number of occasions since it is so simple, and I generally have most of the ingredients.  Is it the most delicious and gourmet chili version?  No.  But it is quick, easy, and should please most palates.  I'm currently on the hunt for a more mature chili recipe, but this will do until then.

Without further adieu,

Two cans of chili beans (I get one mild and one hot, because my tongue is a baby)
3/4 cup taco sauce (I use mild, once again big baby)
1 28 oz can of stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste (I was too overwhelmed by all things tomato, so I opted for tomato sauce.  No big difference)
15.5 oz of salsa (I forgot to buy it before I took the picture!)
1 can of beef broth
1 packet of taco seasoning (I only used about half of it, trying to cut down on Na!)
1 lb ground beef (or chunks of cooked chicken.  I don't have a food processor, and was not in the mood for slicing up meat)
1 clove garlic- cut up into smithereens/grated
about 1 small onion- diced

I managed to find most of my processed foods in low-Na options,yippee!

Brown the hamburger with the onion and garlic.

While the hamburger, onion, and garlic are romancing one another, dump everything else into your big pot.  Once the hamburger is browned, dump it into the pot as well.  Don't pull a me and forget to stock up on salsa before hand, only to make your fiance run to the convenience store to pick up an overpriced jar!

Cook for about half an hour, or even 40ish minutes if you lose track of time.  Serve with your favorite chili toppings!

Pumpkin Butter

A few weekends ago Alex and I went to the apple orchard with some girlfriends.  KL ended up buying some pumpkin butter, which we all dug into when we got back to my apartment.  It was what dreams are made of, so I decided to put some of my pumpkin puree stash into some homemade pumpkin butter.  Is it as good as the kind from the orchard?  Not really, but that pumpkin butter set my standards WAY HIGH!  I should have added more spices.  I ended up adding more than what the recipe called for, but I am still not satisfied.  Anyway, this a halved recipe is from Baked Bree.

2 cups of fresh pumpkin puree
1/2 cups maple syrup
1/4 cup apple juice
1Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon *I added about 1/2 tsp
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg *I added about 1/3 tsp (do they even make them that size?)
1 pinch salt

Dump everything into crockpot.  Cook on low for 3-4 hours.  Stick in the fridge to cool, eat with crackers.

KL eats hers with saltines, I've been using sunflower basil crackers from Back to Nature, which is almost as perfect as a combo.  In the future I'm probably going to add more of each spice, and probably include some cloves as well.  It also wouldn't hurt if I purchased a food processor so that my butter was more buttery and less stringy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Cornbread

I despise cornbread.  I think that I associate it with bible camp when I was young.  Bible camp, for the most part, was super fun.  We dressed up in little Jesusy  robes and were issued tin-foil money (I found the $ stash, and became pretty tinfoil-rich), which we would then use to go around and buy cool things like dreydels and food.  The downside?  The only food that they had was bread!  Most of the bread was delicious (I have a weird thing for artisan bread), but for some reason there was always cornbread.   Yuck.  Anyway, I found this recipe over at Sugarcrafter while I was looking for pumpkin recipes.  I made it about two weeks ago for the very first time, assumed that it would be so-so, and quickly snarfed it down.  I was thrilled when Alex asked me to make it again since it uses up my sugar pumpkin that I was too lazy to carve in hort. lab, and I know it will go great with dinner tomorrow.

What you will need:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
Prepare and combine all of the dry goods together and mix thoroughly.

Combine the wet ingredients and mix.
Mix the dry with the wet...
 Place in an 8x8 baking dish

Cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Try to let cool as long as you can manage to resist gobbling a piece up.  Last time I managed to make this cornbread last for a week, and the last bite was just as moist and delicious as the first.