Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pizza with Scratch Dough

This is a new one for me, pizza dough from scratch.  I like making pizza at home, but in the past I have used store bought crust (which tastes fine, but I don't like all the preservatives/additives) and store bought dough (not the most flavorful).  I was pretty impressed with how easy and tasty it was to make the dough myself.  It's really not complicated, had all the ingredients in my pantry already, and the flavor is so much better than from the store.  This would be super fun to make for New Year's Eve or day with the family (if you're not into the party scene). Here's what I did:

Begin by blooming yeast (waking up the yeast) in warm water for about 5 minutes in a large mixing bowl. 

You'll know it's working because it'll get bubbly.  I can already smell the yeast - I love it!

Add in flour olive oil, salt and sugar and mix well.

Swap out the mixing paddle for the dough hook...

and knead for about 10 minutes.  Do you see how in the previous pics the dough was just a big lump, and here it's stretchy, that's just what you're looking for. Now the dough needs some time to rise.

Spray a lid or some cling wrap with non-stick spray and loosely cover.  Notice I didn't seal the lid on tight, just set it on top, if you use cling wrap make sure you leave a little bit open, too.  

Place in a warm spot til the dough doubles in size, 1-1 1/2 hours.  I have mine on top of the fridge, you can also do this in your oven: preheat your oven to 175F while the dough in kneading.  Cover as shown, place in oven and turn oven off, let rise for 1-1 1/2 hours. (this is not the best pic-sorry- but notice the size of the dough here)

Again not the best pic, but you can see how the dough has really expanded.  Now it's ready to punch down, which isn't actually punching the dough. This just means to release the dough of all the excess air. 

Scoop the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface, you can see my finger marks in the dough. Do this by pressing down on the dough with your fingers, no aggression necessary!  

From here you can decide what size pizza you want.  I'm making individual pizzas, so I divided it into 4.  If you make 2 you can easily fit them onto a standard cookie sheet to bake, if you make one large pizza you'll need a pizza baking stone.

Cover loosely and let rest for about 15 min.

Preheat your oven and gather your favorite toppings while you wait.

Now the dough is ready to roll out, using a rolling pin roll out the dough into an even surface.

Move it to a baking sheet that has some cornmeal on it...

layer on toppings, starting with a thin layer of olive oil..

pizza sauce (easy, yummy recipe below)...

cheese and toppings...

bake for about 12 minutes and enjoy!

Pizza Dough

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/3 c warm water (105F-115F)
3 1/2- 3 3/4 c ap flour
2 T olive oil
1 T salt
1 T sugar

Place yeast and water in a large mixing bowl for about 5 minutes.  When yeast is bubbly add in remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Place dough hook on mixer and knead for 10 minutes.  Cover loosely and allow dough to rise in a warm spot for 1- 1 1/2 hours.  Punch dough down, and divide according to your desired pizza size.  Cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes. While the dough is resting preheat oven to 475F and gather cheese, sauce and toppings.  With a rolling pin, roll dough out to desired size and place on a cookie sheet that has corn meal on it.  Brush olive oil on dough, then spoon on pizza sauce, add a layer of cheese and finally, top with your favorite toppings.  Bake for about 12 minutes.

Pizza Sauce

1- 15 oz can tomato sauce
1- 6 oz can tomato paste
1 T ground oregano
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t ground paprika

Mix all ingredients on a medium mixing bowl.  Spread on pizza dough.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Aussie Bites

I hope you're enjoying this holiday season.  Things are buzzing about our home quite nicely!  The stockings are hung, the tree is lit and there are even some gifts under it.  The boys were so surprised to see that, I wonder what they think I do while they're in school?  :)'s a recipe that I just love (well, I guess I love'em all:)!  Sort of a cross between a breakfast bar and a blondie.  You used to be able to buy these at Costco, but really they were pretty spendy and they're so much better homemade.

Begin by melting butter and honey over low heat on the stove top.

While that's melting combine the dry ingredients

Rather than buying dried fruits bits ($$$$) I like to buy the big bags at Costco and chop myself.  A little  shoulder work out or letting out the daily frustrations perhaps?

Once the honey and butter is melted add to it the mixed water & baking soda.  It may foam a bit, that's ok.

Pour the liquid into the dry and mix well.  It'll be very thick, again use some elbow grease.

Place into an 8x8 pan and press down with back of a spatula and bake.

mmm delicious, wholesome goodness:)

Aussie Bites

2 c oats
2 c ww flour
2/3 c brown sugar
1/2 c coconut
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1 c dried fruit bits
1/4 c honey
1 c butter
1 t baking soda
2 T hot water

Preheat oven to 350F.  Melt butter and honey in a saucepan over low heat.  Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine baking soda and water, add that to the melted butter mixture then add that to the dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Press into an 8x8 inch baking pan and bake just til the edges begin to brown and center is set.  Cool completely in pan.  Alternately, for mini muffins, press 2 T into a mini muffin pan and bake at 350F for 8 minutes.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Penne Pasta with Pesto

I love a good pesto!  Of course if you want good pesto you'll need to make it yourself.  No good pesto, from my experience, has ever come from a jar.  And not to mention the price!  yikes.  Most of the ingredients you have already in your pantry.  The one wild card just might be the basil.  You can readily get fresh basil at any store, that's not the problem.  But the basil itself bruises and turns black very quickly.  Even if you make it the same day you buy it, the pesto itself goes downhill pretty fast once you start chopping it up.  So instead of basil I like using fresh spinach.  It's cheap, pre-washed and prepped for ease and won't turn brown before you make pesto or while making it:)

Start with a good hunk of parmesan cheese, don't buy pre-grated if you don't have to.

Cut it into big chunks and...

then throw in it the food processor for a minute or 2, til it looks like this.  Set to the side in a bowl.

Gather ingredients: spinach, cheese, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper

With the food processor on drop in 2 whole garlic cloves to chop fine.

Next add in spinach...

pine nuts...


after all that is combined drizzle in the olive oil until it's emulsified.

Give it a taste and add salt, pepper to your liking.  I usually need to add a bit more spinach or cheese to balance things out.  You'll know when you taste it.

Place in fridge til ready to use...look at that beautiful green color, love it!

My husband likes his pesto tossed with penne pasta (I have rice pasta here for a gluten free meal), some peppers, sun dried tomatoes and chicken.

While you're prepping veggies and chicken put a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Warm a skillet over med-high heat.  Toss peppers in olive oil for a couple minutes.  Remove to a dish.

Add in chicken to cook through

Toss back in the peppers along with sun-dried tomatoes, stir and turn off heat.

Before you drain your pasta always reserve a cup of cooking water, this will help bring the dish together in the end.

Drain pasta and place back in pot.  Add in a couple dollops of pesto and stir to combine.  This will be pretty thick so add in some of the starch water, not all, just enough to make your pasta creamy.

Stir in the chicken and veggies, place in a serving dish and enjoy:)

Penne Pasta with Pesto

For Pesto:

2 cloves garlic
3 big handfuls of spinach
1/3 c pine nuts
1/2 c parmesan cheese
1/4 c olive oil
salt and pepper

With the food processor on drop in 2 whole garlic cloves. Next add in spinach, pine nuts, cheese one at a time, combining after each addition.  After all that is combined drizzle in the olive oil until it's emulsified.  Give it a taste and add salt, pepper to your liking.

For pasta dish:

Penne pasta
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 orange pepper, chopped
1/4 c sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water
boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut to bite size pieces.

Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Reserve 1 c of cooking water before draining.

While pasta is cooking, in a large skillet over medium high heat toss peppers in olive oil for a couple minutes.  Remove to a dish.  Add in chicken to cook through, toss back in the peppers along with sun-dried tomatoes, stir and turn off heat.

Add pesto to hot pasta and stir adding reserved water if needed.  Stir in chicken and veggies, enjoy:)