Monday, April 18, 2011

Meatless Monday: You are never too old to learn

Tonight's recipe comes to us courtesy of Sandra Lee.  Oh, I know, she is not held in a lot of respect but I do love her.  Semi-homemade validates a lot of people and opens up a world of cooking.  But tonight she has helped me come close to solving a problem that has plagued me for ages - why can't home made pizza be as good as take-out.

The answer is, of course, that our home ovens cannot come close to the temperatures of the commercial pizza oven.  But like computer problems, Sandra came up with a work-around:  the phased cooking method.

Bake the crust a little bit, bake the fillings until the moisture is gone, add cheese and bake again (this was my little addition).  Genius!!

                             Fresh Veggie Pizza
Servings: 4    
                        Nonstick cooking spray
1/2  pound  fresh pizza dough -- I make a dough from Mario Batalli recipe
                        All-purpose flour -- for dusting
2 tablespoons  olive oil
1/2 cup  Tomato Sauce -- Prego, Bertolli, your choice
2 cups  shredded Pizza cheese -- this is one 8 ounce bag
1/2 cup  white mushrooms -- sliced (they come this way from the grocer!)
1/2 cup  zucchini slices -- lengthwise slices with vegetable peeler
1/4 cup  green pepper -- diced or red pepper
1/4 cup  red onion -- sliced or yellow or white, what the heck, it's onion
                        Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 13 by 18-inch baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Roll out pizza dough on a floured work surface into a rectangle about the same size as the baking sheet. I kind of lift and pull the dough at this point.
Place the dough onto the baking sheet, brush with olive oil and using a fork, dot holes all over the crust. Let rest for 10 minutes then bake in oven for 8 minutes.
Remove the pizza crust from oven and top with the sauce, half the cheese and the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Bake pizza for 15 to 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and vegetables are browning along the edges.
Top with remaining cheese and bake until golden brown and bubbly - 10-15 minutes

This was awesome.  The staged cooking finally got past the soggy factor.  The two of us ate an entire pizza, and yes I know it was 4 servings.  But it was Veggie, for crying out loud.  Give me a break. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday Night Dinner Special

We have been trying to keep Fridays meatless, as well as Mondays and after a week of work stress and home maintenance stress (another repair and another blow to the checkbook) we usually fall back on something that is nice, soft, squishy and warm.  My fave - of course - is Mac and Cheese but sometimes I like to mix it up a little.

Way back in the Seventies (1970) there was an explosion of recipes featuring Bisquick in a crustless pie form.  Impossible Pie or Impossibly Easy Pie is still featured on the Betty Crocker website.  And in many of its incarnations makes a pretty darned tasty lunch or dinner with a nice salad, or a passable dessert.

But I never have Bisquick.  What I do have is White Lily Self Rising Flour.  My secret ingredient to my cupcakes, pancakes and biscuits.  Oh, heck, just about any quick bread or cake is better with White Lily.  So here is my adaptation of Seafood Pie (it only sounds weird, it smells divine baking and tastes even better).  There is also very little mess - a cutting board, knife and the blender bowl - my Friday night gift to myself.

                                 Crab Pie
Servings: 4    
6 ounces  canned crab meat -- , drained (add a can of tiny shrimp as well!)
4 ounces  Cheddar cheese -- shredded (half of an 8 ounce bag of shredded cheese)
3 ounces  cream cheese -- cut into 1/4-inch cubes (some swearing takes place when trying to dice cream cheese.
1/4 cup  green onion -- minced fine (I have chives right now so that is what I used)
1/4 cup  red pepper -- diced fine (basically for color)
1/2 cup  self-rising flour (White Lily!)
1 cup  milk (2% is fine)
2 tablespoons  unsalted butter -- melted (to compensate for the 2%)
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1/8 teaspoon  cayenne pepper
2 eggs

Heat oven to 400°F. Spray pie plate with cooking spray. Mix crab meat, cheeses, onions and peppers in pie plate.
Blend the remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour over the dry ingredients.
Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean (Cream cheese stays in little puddles so it will stick to the knife). Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

I served this with a chopped salad dressed with lemon vinaigrette.  I imagine that with a little work and mini muffin pans this could make a nice appetizer as well.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

1 a penny, 2 a penny Hot Cross Buns

There used to be this show on PBS called "Breaking Bread with Father Dominic".  It was great and I was able to find an Internet archive file of all the recipes from the show.  This is my favorite Easter recipe and one that resulted in the sudden birth of my granddaughter.  (Well, not quite but it sure sounds dramatic.  Her Mom had just eaten these then her water broke)

This is a bread machine dough recipe, which I love.  I usually stir in some finely grated lemon and orange peel because it seems like the right thing to do.  These rolls are dense and fruity.  Perfect with a cup of tea.

                     Hot Cross Buns by Father Dominic
Recipe By     :Father Dominic
Servings : 12   

  1                cup  milk -- plus 1 tablespoon
     1/2           cup  butter or margarine
  2                     eggs
  1 1/4      teaspoons  salt
  4               cups  bread flour (Regular AP flour will make a lighter roll)
     1/2           cup  whole wheat flour
     1/4           cup  granulated sugar
  1           teaspoon  ground cinnamon
     1/4      teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  2          teaspoons  Yeast
     3/4           cup  raisins
                        Vanilla Glaze:
     3/4           cup  confectioners' sugar -- sifted
  2        tablespoons  milk
  1         tablespoon  butter -- softened
     1/4      teaspoon  vanilla extract

Add dough ingredients to bread machine pan in the order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough/manual cycle.

When cycle is complete, remove dough from machine to a lightly floured surface. If necessary, knead in enough additional flour to make dough easy to handle. Divide dough into 12 pieces; shape each into a ball.

Place balls on greased baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Cover and let rise in warm, draft-free place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. With a sharp knife, cut a cross in top of each ball. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven 15 minutes, or until done. Remove from baking sheet to wire rack.

Meanwhile, prepare glaze. Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, butter and vanilla in small bowl; stir
until smooth. Use a pastry brush to apply glaze lightly to buns while they are still warm. Thicken the remaining glaze with more powdered sugar and drizzle across to form the cross.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mixed up Weather and a Mixed-up Soup

75 degree days and 27 degree nights have kept my gardening efforts confined to my indoor seedlings and some alfalfa sprouts, though the peas planted on St. Patrick's day are now emerging.  I'm down to 35 tomato seedlings and 13 yellow pepper seedlings.  Since I do not have room for this many plants in the entire yard things are looking good so far.  The lettuce box lettuce garden is growing but appears to be all black seeded Simpson lettuce.  I was hoping for some arugula. 

The warmer evenings have me yearning to grill but we do not as yet have a grill.  What I have done is indulged my deep love of beans by cooking up two batches for the freezer and using some in this week's recipes.

The first batch of beans were Great Northern.  These were soaked overnight then bagged and tagged.  The freezer will continue to soak/softening and they will cook fairly quickly in recipes.  I used 2 cups in a chicken thigh and white bean braise posted earlier.

The second batch was black beans.  My favorite bean.  I cooked these in the crock pot after an overnight soak but did not salt them, using only a little smoked paprika for seasoning.  I kept the bean firm because they, too, were destined for the freezer.  But not all.  About two cups were combined in the crock pot in what is basically a dump soup.  I used chicken from a batch that I had poached earlier in water with a little chicken base, shredding the meat for future use.  Boneless, skinless chicken breast was the loss leader this week.   The poaching liquid became the "broth"  because it seemed too good to throw away. 

Chicken Enchilada Soup w/ Black Beans
Servings: 4    
  1  cup  onion -- sliced
  4  cups  low sodium chicken broth
  12 ounces  enchilada sauce -- 1 can - red
  1 cup  green salsa (salsa Verde)
  12 ounces  chicken breast, no skin, no bone, R-T-C -- cooked and shredded (2 breasts)
  14 ounces  black beans, cooked -- drained and rinsed, if using canned
  1 teaspoon  ground cumin
  1 tablespoon  lime juice (I used bottled)
  1/2  cup  Cheddar cheese -- shredded
                        tortilla chips
  4 Tablespoons  sour cream

Combine everything but the cheese, chips and sour cream
Heat through.
Crush a handful of chips in the bottom of a bowl.  Divide soup among bowls and garnish with sour cream and cheese.

This was so good.  Cilantro would have been nice but with the price of gas I wasn't running to the store.