Monday, May 28, 2012

Favorite Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

I've been making pizzas for the family almost every Friday evening for about 2 years now.  I've been using this crust recipe for most of that time and have tweaked it to perfection (imho).  This makes almost 2 pounds of dough and is perfect for 2 large pizzas.

I use a bread machine to do the mixing, so this is the order in which I put the ingredients in. 

1 3/4 cup water
1/2 Tbls sugar (I use sucanat)
1 1/2 Tbls olive oil
5 cups whole wheat flour--only put 4 1/3 c in machine to begin with (I grind hard white wheat berries just before preparing.  Don't use soft wheat berries or pastry dough for this recipe)
1 Tbls yeast
1/2 Tbls sea salt

Add the ingredients in order in the bread machine making sure that the yeast and salt are not combined.  I sprinkle the salt around the edges of the flour and put the yeast in a little "well" in the center of the flour.  I use the whole wheat bread setting for 2 lb.  As the dough is combined, add more flour until the dough forms a ball that doesn't stick to the sides or the bottom.  When the dough stops mixing (mine takes about 15 1/2 minutes), turn off the machine and let the dough rise in it for about 1 hour.  Pull the dough out and dump onto generously floured surface.  Divide into approximately equal halves.  Spray pizza stones.  Roll out dough into circle large enough to cover entire pizza stone.  Let rise.  While the dough is rising on the pan, preheat oven to 450 degrees until fully heated.  I give this lots of time because it really makes a difference in how the pizza cooks if the oven is fully heated, not just when the light goes off.  The other thing I like to do at the same time, that you can do if you have a double oven, is to heat my second oven at 150 degrees for 2-3 minutes and then shut it off with the crusts inside.  This speeds up the rising process.

Once the crusts are risen and the oven is fully warmed, bake each crust for 7 minutes.  Remove the crust from the oven, add desired toppings (or allow to cool and then freeze for later use), then place back in oven for 6-8 minutes depending on the depth of your toppings.  Here is what our pizzas typically consist of:

The girls' pizza: red sauce, mozzarella, 1/2 black olives, one half pineapple and ham.  I cook this for 6 minutes after adding toppings.

My hubby's and my pizza: pesto base, spinach (sometimes), mushrooms, sweet peppers, kalamata olives, black olives, onion, artichokes, sausage (his half), feta, mozzarella, and tomatoes (fresh or sun-dried depending on season).  I cook this for 8 minutes and occasionally extend it another minute.

The last picture was before my hubby bought me a second round stone.  Don't those look delicious?!  My kids are very biased about pizzas because of getting their favorite pizza every week.  :)

One additional tip: If you decide to use lots of toppings like I do, cut up extra ingredients and flash-freeze them for future use.  I have large amounts of mushrooms, bell peppers, black olives, etc already in my freezer to cut down prep time each week.  I even buy the olives in the huge can at the wholesale club already sliced and then freeze them up.  Just make sure you drain them REALLY well, or you will have a soggy pizza later.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles

2 1/2 cups hard white wheat flour (or any combo of wheat and all-purpose flour)
1/4 cup sucanat sugar (or white)
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

2 eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
2 cups milk
1/4-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (1/2 cup makes pretty chocolately waffles)

Whisk dry ingredients together.  Fold in wet ingredients until just moist.  Cook in waffle iron until golden brown.  Makes approximately 16 waffles.  These freeze very well and can just be popped into a toaster straight from the freezer to reheat.  I usually make a double batch because they are so awesome fresh from the waffle iron.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Freezer Burritos

I finally made my first attempt at freezer burritos.  I can definitely declare them a success!  My family loves them and my girls are reaching for them instead of asking for other less-than-ideal foods for lunch.  They are super easy and super inexpensive to make.

Here are the ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef (I bought a half of a side of beef, or basically a quarter cow, in December.  We have lots of grass-fed, organic beef to use up!)
taco seasoning
long-grain rice
black beans ( I have these cooked, drained, and stored in 1 cup increments in the freezer)
shredded mexican cheese blend or whatever cheese is handy
24 tortillas (buy a big bag cheap at a wholesale club)

First, I cooked the rice according to my spanish rice "recipe".
Meanwhile, I cooked, rinsed, and drained the ground beef.  I added a half-packet of taco seasoning and somewhere between 1/4 cup-1/2 cup of water.  I eyeballed it.  Basically I just wanted the meat to be moist, but not swimming.
After the rice and meat were ready, I warmed a few tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds to soften them up.  I put them between some kitchen towels to keep them warm.    I only took out one at a time to work with.

 Just off-center I laid a heaping spoonful of rice in a strip. 

 Be sure you don't go all the way to the edges of the tortilla!

Then I added a spoonful of beans.

And a spoonful of taco meat.

I didn't want to dip my spoon into the cheese bag, so I took two big pinches of cheese and sprinkled it across the pile.

Then I folded the burritos like an envelope.  (You really can't tell by the angle of the pictures, but the ingredients are a little more towards me on the tortilla, rather than right in the center).  I folded the tortilla away from me, then folded the ends in, and rolled it the rest of the way.  I made sure the flap was on the bottom so that the tortilla wouldn't flop open on the pan.

Here are the burritos all ready to go in the freezer.  I made 23 burritos and ended up with leftover rice and beans.  I estimated that I spent about 40 cents per burrito.  After the burritos were frozen (I pushed the "quick freeze" button on my freezer to mimic flash-freezing), I put them in a resealable bag in the freezer.  We take out as many as we need and nuke them in the microwave for a couple of minutes (depends on how many we're reheating, though).

My girls rave about these and love the convenience of having a reasonably nutritious snack or lunch in a matter of minutes.  My DD 10 needed a quick snack on-the-go one day and this was mess-free for the car ride.  I can't argue with that!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spanish Rice

I have several versions of "Spanish rice" that I make.  The one I've made for years is from a recipe I clipped from a magazine.  Over the last few months I have been making burritos on a regular basis (think cheap AND easy!), so I've simplified my recipe even more.  It probably doesn't even resemble Spanish rice any more, but it works beautifully to add on, or even next to, our burritos.  Keep in mind that I am not a fan of spicy food, so tweak accordingly.  My version with Rotel is as spicy as I dare to go!

Here is the recipe version:

1 can (14 1/2 oz) reduced-sodium vegetable broth (I usually use chicken as it is what I typically have on hand)
1 can (14 1/2 oz) stewed tomatoes (my adaptation is diced tomatoes)
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic salt

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Okay, here is one of my altered versions:

1 cup long grain rice
1 can (14 1/2 oz) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can (10 oz) Ro*tel

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

I have also been experimenting with different flavored cans of diced tomatoes (i.e. italian diced tomatoes) with good results.  My 8 y.o. doesn't like tomato chunks, so I tried pureeing the tomatoes today.  I haven't tested it on her yet to see what she thinks.

There is so much moisture in this rice that it is fluffy and moist.  Again, experiment with whatever version you think may appeal to your taste buds and report back to me what you find out!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
2 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup olive or canola oil
2 cups skim milk

1/4-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Combine dry ingredients.  Fold in wet ingredients.  Add chocolate chips.  Cook in waffle iron until golden brown.  Try not to eat them all as they come out of waffle iron.  Freeze leftovers after allowing them to cool completely.  Pop them in the toaster to reheat.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Ice Cream

I know, there is no fresh snow to be found in Overland Park right now.  But, this is for the next time it snows and so that you can be prepared!

My mom made snow ice cream when I was a kid.  I loved it!  I haven't a clue as to what she put in it, though.  I tried a recipe last year, but it was too watery and sweet.  I found an extremely simple recipe and added a little more snow because it was also rather sweet.  But, we were quite satisfied with it overall and ate a bit too much of it since it doesn't store well.  Another bonus besides simplicity is that this doesn't call for raw eggs like a lot of the recipes out there.

Snow Ice Cream

9-10 cups of clean snow
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine in a bowl and serve immediately.  This is a yummy vanilla ice cream with a delightful texture.

Friday, December 24, 2010

More "green" wrapping paper

Here are a few more pictures of my re-usable cloth gift wrap.  I sometimes wrap (roll) the gifts in cloth and add ribbons.  Other times, I sow a bag and close it with a pretty ribbon.  Here are some more examples:

The gift on the left and the one in the middle are both in bags and the one on the right is "wrapped".
My DD10 told me that she really likes the cloth because she can wrap gifts by herself.  If you are all about ripping through the wrapping paper, this is not the technique for you.  

(Just for clarification: wrapping paper is not recyclable.  I am a recycling maniac and have been for at least 15 years.  My children have grown up with my enthusiasm, so they have a real appreciation for reusable materials.  I will also clarify that I am still using up all of the gift wrap I have bought over the years.  Sometimes it serves a much better purpose than cloth.  For example, when gifting to a non-family member who may just throw the material away afterward.  Really, Christmas is NOT for stressing over this kind of thing.)

May everyone have a Merry CHRISTmas and remember the true reason for the season!!