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Category Archives: General Food

Pizza Walkthrough

Everyone has been asking me for my pizza dough recipe lately.  Well, I use a recipe that can be found here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/jays-signature-pizza-crust/  I don’t really change it much, other than the fact that I split it in two and roll it out to make it thin crust.  I freeze the second half to make pizza another day.  

Ingredients:

2 1/4 tsp yeast

1/2 tsp brown sugar

1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110F)

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil

3 1/3 cups flour

So I took photos of each step of the process when I made it this time to make it really easy to follow.  It should be super simple, even for beginners 😀

First, put 2 1/4 tsp (one envelope) yeast into your bowl with 1/2 tsp brown sugar and 1 1/2 cups warm water. Let it rest for 10 minutes.  It will look something like this:

Yeast

Next, while the yeast is blooming, measure out the flour, salt, and olive oil into two bowls (The salt and oil can be combined)

Salt
Flour
salt and oil

Once the yeast is bubbly, you can add the salt and oil mix to the yeast mixture. Give it a quick stir.

Combining

Add 2 1/2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture and stir it until it just comes together. Once it does, dump it onto the table with the rest of the flour and knead it until it isn’t sticky anymore.  It usually takes about 5 minutes or so.

Flour added

This dough is ready to do it’s rise!

Ready to rise

Just starting it’s rise…

Starting out

Almost doubled in size!

Almost there!

Doubled in size (after about an hour)

Doubled

I split the dough in half and roll one half into a vaguely pizza like shape.  Usually it is oblong so it fits on my cookie sheet (prep the cookie sheet with a light sprinkling of cornmeal if you have it)

ready to roll

I pre-bake the crust for about 10 minutes.  This is to prevent a soggy crust once I put the toppings on 😀

Par-baked

Sauced!

Sauce!

Cheese, Pepperoni, and Black Olives

Ready

Baked for 10 minutes in a 425F oven!

Completed pizza

Closeup

My slices

That is all there is to it! If I can do it, so can you! 😀

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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in General Food

 

Baked Easter Eggs

I have been browsing Pinterest lately and I came across something that I saw a few years back. Alton Brown had baked his Easter eggs right on the rack in his oven. He said the peels come off easier and the yolks come out perfectly cooked, every time. Well, I just got around to trying it today and it seems to have worked… sorta.

I took 2 eggs from the carton I had in my fridge for the last week and a half. (I bought fresh eggs from the store yesterday but everyone says the peel coming off easily is because the egg is older so I thought I should start there) I pre-heated my oven to 325F and stuck the eggs in a mini muffin pan.

Baked Eggs

When the oven got to temperature, I put them in and set a timer for 15 minutes. I wanted to make sure they baked evenly so I turned the pan halfway through the cooking time and flipped the eggs over with tongs. Then i set the timer for 15 more minutes. 30 minutes total cooking time.

Baked Eggs

After 30 minutes, they went into a nice icy bath! They bathed for another 20 minutes, til they were cool.

Baked Eggs

One egg was perfect on the outside! It was completely white.

Baked Eggs

As you can see, this egg has a little bit of brown spots on the outside. I think if you tried, you could probably wash them off enough that they wouldn’t make a difference if you wanted to dye them

Baked Eggs

The white egg peeled perfectly. The shell came off in like 2 pieces. The browned egg, the shell came off in a million tiny pieces and took some of the egg white with it.

Baked Eggs

The egg with the big brown spot is also the egg that had the browning on the shell. It tasted normal but it has a weird look for sure. If you are doing deviled eggs, you might want to stick to boiling so the whites stay perfect. Even the perfect egg had a very little bit of browning on the white. Maybe I need to bake it for less time or at a lower temperature?

Baked Eggs

The best part of this, is that the yolks look PERFECT. I have tried a million times to get the yolk to not have that green/grey line around the outside edge after you boil it. I can’t tell you how many different crazy things I have done to try to minimize it. It might be worth baking them just for the perfect yolks.

Baked Eggs

I am going to attempt to bake the 18 pack of eggs I have set aside for dying tomorrow. Hopefully, I won’t be disappointed! 😀

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in General Food

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make Shepherd’s Pie tonight for dinner. I did a pretty traditional recipe from Alton Brown, except I substituted ground sirloin for ground lamb.  I also added a handful of shredded jack/cheddar cheese mix and a sprinkling of garlic to the potatoes because I like interesting potatoes.  I also put a good twist on the Shepherd’s pie by making it into cupcakes! I found some jumbo muffin size foil wrappers at the grocery store today and they made a much nicer serving size than the regular cupcake sized liners were. They were a little harder to fill and smooth the potatoes on because they are a bit flimsier than a real cup would be. I just picked them up in my hand and held them closed while I got the potatoes nicely spread on it.

Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Alton Brown’s Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Ingredients

For the potatoes:
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes
1/4 cup milk
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded jack and cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

For the meat filling:
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
1 12oz package button mushrooms, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen peas

Directions:

Wash the red potatoes and place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Put the pan on high heat with a lid, until it boils. Once it boils, uncover it, and turn it down to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until they are fork tender, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a microwave safe bowl, in your microwave for about 30 seconds – just until it is heated through. Once the potatoes are ready, put them in the bowl of a standing mixer and add the milk/butter mixture plus the cheese and salt/pepper/garlic powder. Mix them until they are whipped nicely. If you don’t have a mixer, you can put them back into the saucepan with the other ingredients and mash them with a potato masher.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, carrots, and mushrooms and saute just until they start to brown. Add the lamb, salt and pepper, and garlic and cook until everything is nice and brown and cooked through. Sprinkle the flour around the pan and mix it well. Let it cook for another minute and then add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, and thyme. Stir it well. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it until it is thick like a gravy. This took me around 5 minutes but it could take up to 10-12 depending on the heat of your pan.

Add the corn and peas to the meat mixture. Line a baking sheet with foil Jumbo muffin liners in a 3×4 grid. Using an ice cream scoop, fill the liners almost to the top with meat filling. The mixture should fill 12 liners. With a smaller scoop or tablespoon, put a spoonful of mashed potatoes on each one. Flatten and smooth with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are nice and brown on top.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in General Food, Meals!

 

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Lasagna Cupcakes

I was reading through my food blogs on Flipboard one night and I found a recipe for these lasagna cupcakes. I modified it a little bit because I have made lasagna quite a few times and I know what I like in it. The original recipe is from Tablespoon.com but I changed it so much that I am going to just re-write it in my own words here. I chose to use gyoza skins instead of wonton ones because they are already round. I liked the way they came out when I used them whole but they can also be cut to size to allow you to see the layers a bit better when you take the cupcake out of the liner to serve it. The gyoza skins end up being soft like regular noodles.  If you use a whole one, the top layer skin sticks out of the sauce just a little bit and becomes crunchy, just like the edges of a lasagna baked in a 9×13 pan!  I used my family’s classic ricotta mix from our lasagna recipe I have been making since I was a kid. The sauce, I kind of made up as I was going along but it is the basic meat sauce I always make really. I love these so much and I am currently dreaming up all the different recipes I can turn in to cupcakes now!

Lasagna Cupcakes
Makes 22 cupcakes

For the Sauce:
3 8oz cans no salt added tomato sauce
1/2 a large, yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp fresh basil
1 tsp fresh parsley
1 lb ground turkey, browned
salt and pepper to taste

For the Filling:
1 8oz container ricotta cheese
a handful of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

44 gyoza wrappers
mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350F.

To begin, brown the onions and garlic in a little bit of olive oil. While they cook, put the sauce into a medium saucepan. Add the onions and garlic to the sauce and use the same pan to cook the ground turkey. I seasoned the turkey itself with salt and pepper and a little bit of garlic powder as well but you don’t HAVE to do that. Once the turkey is done cooking, add it to the sauce as well. Let the sauce cook while you mix up the ricotta cheese and until you are ready to assemble. I left it for a good hour while I made dessert tonight. The longer it cooks on low, the better it will be.

Mix the ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, garlic powder, and salt/pepper in a bowl. Taste it. If it needs more of anything, you can add it now.

To assemble the lasagna cupcakes, line your cupcake pan with foil cupcake liners. I found these to be much easier clean up than spraying the pan itself and building them that way. Spray the liners with a little bit of cooking spray. Place one gyoza skin in the bottom of each well. Add a tablespoon or so of the meat sauce, then about a teaspoon of ricotta, then a sprinkle of mozzarella. Place another gyoza skin on top of that, then another teaspoon ricotta cheese, a tablespoon of sauce and another sprinkling of mozzarella. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until they are golden on top and bubbly.

When I got to the last 4, I ran out of ricotta cheese. Instead of ricotta, I layered gyoza, meat sauce, pepperoni slice, mozzarella, gyoza, meat sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella. These were a touch smaller than the other ones but still just as tasty! Now for the pictures.

In the beginning…

First layer, complete:

Baked!

Close up!

366: Picture 73

Plated:

I can’t wait to make some more of these to freeze for lunches. It is such a great idea that can be applied to a bunch of different recipes! I might actually do this with shepherd’s pie for tomorrow night’s dinner. Hope you enjoy!

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in General Food, Meals!

 

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Apple Butter

So, we decided to go apple picking on Friday in Tehachapi. Needless to say, we ended up with a huge amount of apples. So far, I have made an apple crumb cake (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/apple-coffee-cake-with-crumble-topping-and-brown-sugar-glaze-recipe/index.html) without its brown sugar glaze. I also made some apple butter that I plan on freezing. I might even make some more of it because it came out so delicious! Next time I will use a food processor though. Cutting all these apples took me 2.5 hours!

I followed a recipe on allrecipes.com that I found with a TON of awesome reviews. I changed some things based upon what the reviewers were saying and I think it came out amazing.

The original recipe is here: All Day Apple Butter

Here is mine, based upon this one.

5lbs of red and green apples, peeled, cored and diced into tiny squares (It was about 4 apples per pound, I think)
2 cups of white sugar
2 rounded teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put all the apples into the insert for a slow cooker. In a smaller bowl, mix the sugar, spices and salt. Pour the spices over the apples and mix thoroughly. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours. Turn it down to low and cook for another 9-12 hours. The longer it cooks, the more concentrated it will taste. I cooked mine for a total of 14 hours. You can store it for at least 6 months in the fridge in an airtight container. It stays indefinitely in the freezer. I am storing mine in Ziploc Twist n Loc 2 cup containers. This recipe gave me 4 of these.

I hope some of you get to make this because it is super easy and super delicious. I have already had it on toast for breakfast this morning and also, on a turkey and mozzarella sandwich for lunch. 😀

Apple Butter start!

Apple Butter finish!

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2011 in General Food

 

Pulled Pork

Today I thought it would be good to make some pulled pork shoulder. If you make pork shoulder, you gotta have BBQ sauce and buns and coleslaw to go with it, so I made those too! After finding a plethora of recipes this morning, I went to the store and got my supplies.

When I got home, I started the bread rising. I used a recipe for hamburger buns that I will for sure make again. I found the recipe months ago when I was reading food blogs with Flipboard on my iPad. The buns were light and fluffy, even with whole wheat flour subbed for half the regular flour. The recipe can be found here: Hamburger Buns and I can’t say enough about how many things I have learned from this website. They have a lot of really helpful, basic recipes that I have been trying lately.

Homemade Hamburger Buns (Makes 8 buns)
From thekitchn.com
1 tablespoon active-dry yeast
1/2 cup (4 oz) warm water
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk (2%)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or a large bowl, if mixing by hand), stir the yeast into the warm water and let it sit until dissolved. My mixer’s dough hook couldn’t reach the water/yeast mixture so I stirred it by hand.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, oil, sugar, and salt. Add this to the yeast mixture and stir until combined. Add all the flour and stir until it forms a shaggy dough. Knead at low speed (around 2 on my Kitchenaid), or by hand against the counter, for 10 minutes. The finished dough should be smooth, feel slightly tacky, and spring back when poked.

Cover and let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

Dust your work surface with a little flour and turn out the risen dough on top. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape each into a tight ball. I ended up with 9 rolls because some of mine were a little smaller Transfer the balls to a baking sheet and let rise until they look puffy and hamburger-sized, roughly 30-40 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
Bake the buns until golden, 15-18 minutes.
Let the buns cool to room temperature before slicing and using. They are best if eaten within the next day or two, but will keep in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week.
Additional Notes (from the original post):
• For Whole Wheat Buns – Substitute 1/2-1 cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour and prepare the recipe as usual. The texture of the buns will be a bit more dense, but still very delicious and burger-worthy. – I followed this suggestion and they turned out awesome.
• Doubling the Recipe – Double all of the ingredients except for the yeast. To make even more buns, it’s best to prepare separate batches as the dough becomes too cumbersome to work with easily.
• Freeze Buns for Later – Wrap the buns in aluminum foil and then store in an air-tight container or freezer bag. Let them thaw in their packaging overnight on the counter. Foil-wrapped buns can also be thawed more quickly or re-warmed in a 300°F oven for about 10-15 minutes.

While the buns were rising, I cut up the onions and got the tomatoes ready for the pulled pork shoulder recipe I was following. The recipe can be found here: Pulled Pork Shoulder I decided to use a basic recipe to start out with and when I got the hang of making it, I would try something new. I changed two things when I made it today. First, I didn’t use carrots because I thought it would be a waste. We probably wouldn’t eat them after they had cooked for 3 hours so they would have just gotten thrown away. Secondly, I added chili powder to the dry rub. I did 1tsp of cumin and 1tsp of chili powder instead of 2tsps of cumin. Cumin is one of those spices that is very strong and I don’t like a lot of it in anything I eat.

Shredded Pork Shoulder
Adapted from thekitchn.com
3.5 pound pork shoulder, bone-in
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 12-ounce beer (I used Blue Moon Honey Wheat Ale because it looked tasty)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Trim the pork shoulder of any thick layers of fat. Mine had barely any fat on it so I just left it all. Combine the brown sugar, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the pork all over with the spice mixture. Make sure you get it in all the little nooks and crannies. Let the pork to sit out for 30 minutes. (This was just enough time for me to bake off the hamburger buns)

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the pork on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the pork from the pot. Add the onions, garlic, tomatoes, and beer. Bring it to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to bring up any browned bits.

Return the pork to the pot. Cover and put in the oven for 3 hours or so, checking once or twice, until the meat is extremely tender and pulls away from the bone easily or reaches around 200F. My bone ended up being a tiny shard of a bone so it came out pretty easily. I made sure to check the temperature of the meat before I took it out, just to be sure. Shred the pork in the pot, using tongs to separate the meat from the fat. This worked pretty well for me but toward the end, it was easier to take the meat out and put it on a cutting board to get the fat off and shred it. If you do it this way, just add it back to the pot when you are done shredding it. I threw away the bone but you could just as easily use it for some kind of soup or something if you are so inclined.

While the pork shoulder was bubbling away in the oven, I started on the barbecue sauce. This recipe came from Bobby Flay and Foodnetwork.com. I used only the sauce recipe on this page: BBQ Sauce I have to say that I was disappointed in the sauce at first. While it cooks, it is really thin and chunky. I didn’t want it to be that way. The flavor was really good but I did change a couple of things in this one as well. First, I had a bunch of stewed tomatoes so I used those instead of diced tomatoes. Second, I decided to blend the mix to make it semi-smooth. I had used the food processor to do the onions for this recipe anyway so I thought it would be a good idea to throw it in there to get it the consistency I wanted. I also put the very first jalapeno from my garden this year into this recipe! 😀

First Jalapeno!

BBQ Sauce:
Adapted from Bobby Flay

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
2 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt
Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook until soft. I burned mine so I had to swap out pans! Be careful with this step! 😀 Add the fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes and juices, vinegar, honey, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce, and cook until the sugar has completely melted and the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened. The sauce never really reduced down and it filled my house with vinegar gases! I cooked it for a good 2 hours and it reduced, it just never got thick. If you are looking for a thick BBQ sauce, just pulse it a few times in the food processor and put it back in the pot to keep it warm. Season with salt, to taste.

Finally, while everything else was simmering away and the buns were cooling, I made the coleslaw. I wanted a pretty basic traditional recipe for this and it turns out, Bobby Flay has one! Coleslaw
I adapted this recipe by changing up the amounts of mayonnaise and sour cream. I don’t like to use that much mayo in anything I am making so I cut that and added a little more sour cream to the mix. I think it came out pretty awesome! It worked perfectly with the pork and the BBQ sauce.

Coleslaw
2 bags shredded coleslaw mix (without dressing)
1/2 cup best-quality mayonnaise
1/2 cup light sour cream
2 tablespoons grated yellow onion
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons celery salt
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery salt, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add the cabbage mixture. Mix well to combine and taste for seasoning; add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desired. I don’t like it to be too sweet so I didn’t add any more sugar. It did need a touch more salt and pepper though.

So here it is finally completed. I couldn’t wait to eat at this point, after smelling it all afternoon so the first shot is a little blurry. I loved this and I would absolutely make it again. Next time, I would mix the pork with the BBQ sauce AND the juices/onions it cooked in, I think. 😀 Even though there are subtle changes I would make or add to each recipe, they are still delicious the way they are!

Carter’s plate:
365: Picture 219

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2011 in General Food, Meals!

 

Poppy-Tarts!

I have been wanting to make pop-tarts for a really long time and today in the IRC, people were talking about making them. They inspired me to get off my butt and try it. I found quite a few recipes but I decided on the one at SmittenKitchen.com Her recipes are generally awesome so I had lots of faith in this one as well.

I followed the directions pretty much exactly. I agree with adding some whole wheat flour to the crust next time. It would make them hearty and a little more healthy as well. I didn’t chill the dough between mixing and rolling them out but the dough was perfect. I also decided to egg wash the tops of them and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top of each tart.

I HIGHLY recommend baking up the leftover crust edges with cinnamon and sugar (I used vanilla sugar). They are so delicious that I can barely stop eating them!

Pics!

365: Picture 216

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2011 in General Food, The Bakery!