Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pizza, My Way

One of our favorite things is pizza. People look at me strangely when I say I make ours from the crust up. Adjust it to fit your family's needs and likes/dislikes.


~1/4 recipe of the Artisan Bread base recipe
~1/2 cup of mayonnaise
3 to 4 cloves garlic
1 to 1 1/2 TBSP Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (I buy this in the bulk container)
~1 to 1 1/2 lbs of meat(s) of choice
Assorted vegetables
Shredded cheese (tailor this to match the meat/veggies, but Mozzarella always works in a pinch)

pre-step 1: About an hour or up to several hours before hand, mix the mayonnaise with the Ranch Dressing Mix and the minced garlic (shove it through a press). Cover and let the flavors meld.
1. Roll out the dough into a round shape (or whatever shape your flat baking pan is). I use 15" AND 13" pizza stones by Pampered Chef. It's what I have! Put a little cornmeal on the stone to help prevent sticking (if your stone isn't well seasoned yet).
2. Put the crust in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. This basically starts the cooking process, and makes sure that you don't have a soggy crust.
3. Meanwhile, prepare your toppings. I have used cooked chicken breast, homemade italian meatballs (tiny), bell peppers of all colors, broccoli, onion, name it.
4. Get the crust out of the oven. Spread the mayo mix on the crust, top with the meat, then the veggies. Cover with cheese. Put it all back in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the chesse is melty and starting to brown a bit.
5. Remove from oven, slice it up, and prepare to welcome the adoring accolades of your family. Really. They will RAVE about this to everyone. I know. I've been there.


What...I didn't give you enough leeway?

Chocolate pizza: Use a chocolate sauce as the "base" sauce, add in flavorings, top with fruit and coconut. It's done when the coconut is starting to get toasty goldeny brown.

Sauces: We use the garlic Mayo sauce because tomato sauce hurts our stomachs. Regular Ranch dressing works in a pinch. But go a head and doctor up some tomato sauce with Italian seasoning and Rosemary for a more traditional Pizza sauce.

Enjoy your Pizza!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Quick...What Is IT?

My family is so damn helpful sometimes. The let me know what they want to eat, and when they want to eat it. They are especially good at this when I ask them what they might like to eat for the next week or so. You feel the sarcasm dripping off these last three sentences, don't you? I thought you might.

So, gee, Mom...what's for dinner? HELLIFIKNOW! But they still expect to get food...So, going through the pantry, here's what I came up with

Spaghetti and sausage with Curry Sauce

20 ounce package of sausage, your choice of flavor. (Just so happened that I had a package of Johnsonville 4 Cheese Italian)
1 can coconut milk
1 TBSP Green Curry Paste
2 tsp Rice Vinegar
2 tsp Fish Sauce (what, you don't have this stuff on hand???? Calm down, keep reading!)
1 TBSP or so oil of choice (Yes, Byn, coconut oil is an EXCELLENT choice here!)
Pasta (however much and whatever kind you want to feed your group)

1. Start cooking the pasta. Boil water, add salt, add the pasta, cook to al dente...that's the usual way of it.
2. When the water starts boiling start cooking the sausages. Nice and brown on all sides. Turn off heat when fully cooked.
3. At the same time IN A DIFFERENT PAN, heat the oil. Add the curry paste when the oil is hot, stirring pretty well constantly. Saute until your husband in the very back of the house can smell it...or about three to four minutes. Lower the heat!
4. Shake that coconut milk before you open it. Add about 1/4 of the can to the curry paste. Stir it well until it starts bubbling. Add another 1/4 can. Stir. Add the rest. Stir. Add in the vinegar and fish sauce.
5. Drain pasta. Slice the sausage thinly.
6. To serve: place pasta on plate, add sausage, top with curry sauce.

Variations and Explanations

Fish sauce is used in Thai cooking in place of salt. I'll spare you the details of how it's made. Rice vinegar is the acid agent I use to put that "zing" in my Asian sauces. You can substitute soy sauce or regular salt (but I wouldn't, Fish sauce is cheap.) And you can use any light colored vinegar. Be sure to start out slow and add more if needed. You can add more, but you can't take it out if you put too much in.

Sausage: There are SO many options here. Cheesy brats, chicken sausage, pork sausage, ACTUAL REAL Chorizo, beef sausage....

Pasta: whole wheat, spaghetti, rotini, shells, bow-tie,

Instead of pasta: rice, mashed potatoes

I highly recommend serving with green beans, or broccoli. YUM.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Stores are Out of Food...

Damn, a whole week late. Guess I'll grab this one today, and figure out what to throw at you guys tomorrow. Sorry, I'm snowbaked, and the animals have been top priority with this crazy weather.

With the blizzard(s) that have smacked Oklahoma in the last two weeks, the store shelves are bare of certain staples. Like milk and eggs and butter. And for the love of dawg: BREAD.....what? There was plenty of the GOOD bread in the bakery, and plenty of bread making ingredients, but that horrible white "just past dough" bread had flown off into the wilds.

Yes, I have a distinct bias against what is laughingly sold in our grocery stores as bread. If you use it to sop up the juice from your roast, it turns into a slimy disgusting mess. For the love of all that is GOOD, peaple, make bread. It's easy, it takes very little time, and it's SO much better.

But, Brat, you have to do all that kneading. And that hurts my wrists (shoulders, little finger). BAH, I say, BAH! The book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day has forever changed that. The basic recipe has been posted on-line in several locations, and I'll post my version here. Let me just say, that if my twelve year old can master this bread, so can you.

Basic Recipe

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (buy it by the pound folks. really)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups of flour (UNBLEACHED all purpose) Notice, I did NOT say to sift this.

a little cornmeal
2 cups hot water

1. Mix the yeast into the water and add the salt. Use a REALLY BIG bowl. Like Huge.
2. Scoop the flour into your measuring cup using a spoon, and use a knife to level off the top. Add flour cup by cup into the water, and mix it. You may or may not need to use that last 1/2 cup or so. The dough will be much wetter than you are used to. This is fine. By now, you have invested, at most, ten minutes. Or if you are REALLY smart...make the kids do it.
3. Cover the bread and let it sit there and do its thing for a couple of hours. At this point, you can make a loaf, or you can cover it with a lid and put it in the fridge. I'll assume you want to make something now.
4. Flour up your hands. Spread some flour on the top of the bowl of dough, and scoop out the bread. Here's a video that shows how it's done. Form your loaf, and let it sit for 30 to 40 minutes. (Sprinkling cornmeal on the surface where you are resting your loaf is a good idea, but flour will work in a pinch.)
5. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 500F, with your pizza stone inside (middle). And the pan that your water will go into (lower).
6. Slash the top of your loaf artfully. I have not has sticking problems, but I use a regular knife, not a serrated one. Flour the top of the loaf a bit if you are using a serrated knife. Gently move the bread from the board you had it on, into the oven onto your pizza stone (that is on the middle of the oven). Pour the hot water into the pan (sacrifice a cheap roasting pan to the bread gods. Really, it makes that much of a difference).
7. Bake at 450F for 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size loaf you are making, and the composition of said loaf.
8. Remove from oven, allow to cool, slice with a serrated knife (yep, trust me, it's MUCH easier), serve with dinner. Oh, who are we kidding here...if homemade bread survives in your house longer than 5 minutes when made one loaf at a time, you are obviously single. Or at least not attached to the crew I am. The bread usually doesn't have time to get from oven to cutting board before the vultures are circling and ready to drop and devour the entire loaf in 2 minutes.

This bread is crunchy with a great texture, and it makes the whole house smell AWESOME!


I know, I know. This is what you were waiting for. Right? I can hear them now. But BRAT, bread loaves are great, but you can't make hamburger buns, flat bread, garlic sticks (insert your random choice here) at home. Wanna bet?

With the basic recipe, we have made buns for our pulled pork sammiches, flat bread, garlic sticks, rolls, pizza dough and badness knows what else. In the books, there are a LOT more recipes. I don't use them...because I don't own the books. Hey, single income here. The book budget is overrun with home school books.

You don't like white bread. Or don't want to eat it for whatever your reasoning is. Fine, no problem, they wrote Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Me, I just substitute in some whole wheat flour for some of the white flour. If you are making whole wheat bread (no white flour), you probably need some wheat gluten to help it rise.