Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Homemade Pizza Dough...With a Kick!

I have been on a roll lately! Or maybe setting a goal for myself of 30 things to do before I turned 30 was just the kick in the behind that I needed to really get me re-focused on this little food blogging experiment. 

I LOVE pizza, (you can tell because out of relatively small number of posts, pizza appears twice on this blog already). But I really love making homemade pizza. It lets each person enjoying the pizza pick out and create their own dinner concoction. I'm also discovering that regardless of your age, be in 3, 30 or 100, everyone loves playing with food and this is one of the best ways to get to do so!

Pizza dough is so easy to make, it just takes a little bit of time, so that the dough can rise and the flavors can really meld together. I suggest making this on a weekend..especially because it's one of those recipes that you literally set it and forget it until you're ready to make dinner. And once you are, you come back to a perfectly risen pizza dough that's just begging to be topped with lots of ooey gooey cheese, veggies and whatever else your heart desires! Then just pop it in an oven set to 450 degrees and let it bake 12-18 minutes depending on how crispy you like your crust! 

If you're feeling like being super crazy, you can even add different herbs and garlic to your crust before you top it, and it makes the crust extra flavorful. I added basil and garlic, and I'm definitely not sorry I did. 

Homemade Pizza Dough
1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F-115°F)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) of active dry yeast (check the expiration date on the package)
3 1/2 cups bread flour (can use all-purpose but bread flour will give you a crisper crust)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar

In a large bowl add warm water. Sprinkle on the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Stir to dissolve completely if needed at the end of 5 minutes.

Attach a mixing paddle to the mixer (or get ready to buff up your arms by hand mixing!). Mix in the olive oil, flour, salt and sugar on low speed for about a minute. Remove the mixing paddle and replace with a dough hook. Knead using the mixer and dough hook, on low to medium speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If you don't have a mixer, you can mix and knead by hand. If the dough seems a little too wet, sprinkle on a bit more flour.

Place ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough around in the bowl so that it gets coated with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place (75-85°F) until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours (or several hours longer, a longer rise will improve the flavor). If you don't have a warm spot in the house you can heat the oven to 150 degrees, and then turn off the oven. Let the oven cool till it is just a little warm, then place the bowl of dough in this warmed oven to rise.

Preheat the oven to 450°F for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.

Remove the plastic cover from the dough and punch the dough down so it deflates a bit. Divide the dough in half. Form two round balls of dough. Place each in its own bowl, cover with plastic and let sit for 10 minutes.

Top your pizza with all the yummy delicious toppings you like and bake for 12-18 minutes (the longer you bake, the crisper your crust will be!)

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Favorite Time of the Year!!

I LOVE the Fall. Love. Love. Love. The weather gets colder, the leaves start to change color, and it's absolutely beautiful outside. It's my most favorite time of the year! I also love all the yummy foods, and especially the tasty desserts that are inspired by the fall.

In honor of Halloween, and because we were really getting into the spirit of things in my house this weekend, I made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies...and they were delicious!!!

They have cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin (duh!) and of all things a pinch of cayenne pepper to give them just the right amount of bite. They're loaded down with chocolate chips, because who doesn't love chocolate, right? The original recipe comes from Martha Stewart, but it calls for you to melt the chocolate with the butter and make these more of a swirl brownie...I chose to keep the chocolate chips whole and mix them in, so you'd get to bite into a big chunk of chocolate. To each their own, right?!?!

They are the perfect fall dessert and just the right thing to get you into the mood to carve pumpkins! Which is what we did this weekend :) Take a look...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter square baking pan or dish. Cut a length of parchment that will cover the bottom and two sides (makes it much easier to remove), and line the pan with it.

Melt butter in a heatproof bowl.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.

Combine pumpkin, vegetable oil, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and add it to the mixture. Add chocolate chips and mix well.

Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Crispy Crunchy Baked Pork Chops

Here I go...my second post of the month! I'm off to a good start on completing my list of 30 things to do before I turn 30! I'm super excited about this one too. I like pork chops. I don't love pork chops. They're not my favorite...I don't get super excited about them and let's be honest, of all the proteins in the world, I think pork chops get a bad rap. That being said, I think I may have fallen in love with this pork chop...don't tell my hubby :)

This recipe comes from one of my favorite food bloggers out there Deb from Smitten Kitchen. (Side Note: She has a cookbook coming out, which I've already pre-ordered from Amazon, and CANNOT WAIT for it to come in the mail and you should go buy one too! You will not regret it. I promise!) I only altered it slightly, using onion instead of shallots and whole wheat bread and whole wheat flour instead of white. I also skipped the Dijon mustard (not on purpose, I just didn't have any on hand), but if they turned out as good as they did with those slight alterations, I'm sure the original is even better!

It's the perfect combination of crunchy outer coating and perfectly tendered cooked meat. The homemade bread crumbs mixed with fresh parsley, garlic and thyme add so much flavor that I dare you not to fall in love with pork chops. I know I did.

Crispy Crunchy Baked Pork Chops

Table salt2 boneless center-cut pork chops,
4 slices hearty wheat sandwich bread
1/4 cup finely chopped onion3 medium garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons olive oilGround black pepper2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves1/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons whole wheat flour2 eggs

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve 1/4 cup salt in 1 quart water in medium container or gallon-sized zipper-lock bag. Submerge chops, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes (DON'T SKIP THIS STEP - IT MAKES THE PORK CHOPS SOOOOO TENDER). Rinse chops under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.

Pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground.Transfer crumbs to rimmed baking sheet and add onion, garlic, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. (Do not turn off oven.) Cool to room temperature. Toss crumbs with Parmesan, thyme, and parsley.

Put flour in one bowl, the eggs (beaten) in another, and the bread crumbs in a third. 

Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet. Season chops with salt and pepper. Dredge 1 pork chop in flour; shake off excess. Using tongs, coat with egg mixture; let excess drip off. Coat all sides of chop with bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so that thick layer of crumbs adheres to chop. Transfer breaded chop to wire rack. Repeat.

Bake about 20 minutes and let rest for 5 full minutes before serving. 


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mashed Potato and Kale Pancakes

I cannot believe it has been more than 2 months since I posted something. Especially because last time, I promised I would be better about posting. Lots has happened in the past two months. I got married (yah!) I turned 29 (not sure how I feel about this one), the hubster (I'm still getting used to saying husband, but I like it! I really do) and I are settling into married life and exploring our new city, Portland. So with all these new and exciting things happening, and it being the last year of my twenties, I was inspired by my good friend, Morgan (Hi Morgan!) to make a list of 30 things to do before I turn 30! Guess what topped that list? Committing to posting at least 3 times a month (or MORE!) on this little adventure of a food blog. I'm going to try, really really really hard. We'll see how well I do and please feel free to hold me accountable. 

And for those of you who might be thinking, how hard is it to take a picture of what you're cooking, you're right! And, I promise I'm not starving my new husband to death either. I'm trying really hard to be a good little wife (hehehe!) and make him healthy, wholesome, delicious dinners on a somewhat regular basis. 

One of the really cool things about Portland, is that there are tons of local farms in the area, and lots of grocery stores, co-ops and food delivery services that are available to help you get easy, inexpensive access to all of the yummy produce! The other day, I received my first box of local produce from "Organics to You." It was awesome! Full of tons of seasonal fruits and veggies that I can't wait to try out. It also forced me to do a little experimenting with different veggies that, I'm sorry to say, I've never actually tried (sorry kale, I've found you and now  I love you and I promise I'll eat you all the time). 

This wonderful little delivery forced me to look up and research all kinds of recipes that use Kale, a leafy green, that I'm sorry to say, I had never tried before until this past week. I found an awesome recipe for Mashed Potatoe and Kale Pancakes from Bon Appetite and it was AMAZING. The hubby like them too, so it was a double win! I'm also excited to say that there is a bunch of Kale left over so I get to try out and experiment with it a little bit more. Look for more kale recipes soon, but first, you must go make these. They were delish!

Mashed Potato and Kale Pancakes
1 1/2 pounds unpeeled russet potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 pound kale, center rib and stem cut from each leaf, leaves coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cook potatoes in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain; return potatoes to same saucepan. Add yogurt and butter. Mash potatoes (with peel) until smooth. Season with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Transfer mashed potatoes to large bowl and cool.

Heat 11/2 tablespoons oil in large deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add kale and thyme. 

Toss until kale wilts, about 5 minutes. Add kale mixture, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg to potatoes; blend. Cool potato mixture 30 minutes.
Shape potato mixture by 1/4 cupfuls into 1/2-inch-thick patties. Arrange on rimmed baking sheet. 

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cakes and cook, without moving, until cakes are brown and crispy on bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully turn cakes over. Cook until brown on bottom, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to plates.