pizza

I’ve recently become a huge fan of homemade pizza. While we still occasionally buy pizzas from the store (Safeway’s fresh made pizzas are amazing), I love making my own dough and topping it with whatever I want. Maybe it’s the scientist in me, but I think yeast is fascinating. And I do love punching down the dough after it has risen. I first used a recipe I found online that called for all-purpose flour. It was good, but a little biscuit-y for my liking. I prefer soft, chewy crust. I found a recipe on Annie’s Eats yesterday that uses bread flour instead. I have never used bread flour, but I don’t think I’ll ever go back to all-purpose! Now we just need to get a pizza stone, and we’ll be set. But this dough was pretty close to perfect. It was much easier to work with, and we had pizza and breadsticks all in one!

I’ve been craving red meat since giving blood this week, so I made a bacon cheeseburger pizza with onions and jalapenos. It was delicious.

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be my daffodil

Daffodils are up there on my list of favorite flowers. I think I just love bright, sunny yellow flowers, which is why I chose yellow daisies for the wedding. If we were getting married in April, I would definitely carry a huge bouquet of daffodils. We ventured up to Mount Vernon to a flower farm that had the most gorgeous field of daffodils I’ve ever seen 🙂 It’s probably the only field I’ve seen in person, but that’s beside the point. Really brightened up my day, just in time for more rain tomorrow.

I meant to post about this cake when I made it last week, but I got busy/lazy and forgot. It changed my life, though. Seriously one of the best cakes I’ve ever had! I made it a while back, too, and brought some into work. This last time, someone offered to pay me to make it for him 🙂 I might have something to do for a side business in the future? Anyway, I highly suggest making this ASAP. It’s for your own good. Note: I added about twice the amount of lemon zest, because I like my lemon desserts extra lemony.

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Citrus

It’s finally spring! The cherry trees and daffodils are blooming. The sun comes out, even if only for a little while. It’s one of my favorite times of the year.

With the warmer weather comes my craving for all things citrus. If I could choose between a chocolate dessert and a fruity, citrusy one, I’d definitely go for the latter. I’m also a fan of entrees that incorporate lemons or oranges. I’m pretty sure my Vitamin C level is through the roof. Tonight, I tried the orange chicken dish that I had previously failed at making. It was almost perfect! Not too salty, lots of tasty orange flavor. And the fried rice was the bomb, too. I made enough to have leftovers for a couple of days, but since Bryan played basketball tonight, he was extra hungry. And Wes stayed for dinner too, so my leftovers were significantly reduced. But I’m just happy they enjoyed it 🙂

Orange Chicken with Fried Rice

For the chicken:

  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 can of frozen orange juice concentrate
  • orange or lemon zest (I used lemon because I had some leftover from the dessert I made)
  • sriracha, to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat the chicken in oil and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Combine the orange juice, soy sauce, zest, and sriracha in a saucepan over med-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat and simmer until the sauce reaches your desired thickness (I might try adding cornstarch or some sort of thickener next time, because I was too impatient and had hungry boys waiting for me). Pour the sauce over the chicken.

For the fried rice :

  • As much rice as you wish – I used 1 1/2 cups of uncooked brown rice, which is enough for 6 people
  • 9 or so tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Bell peppers, diced – again, as much as you want – I had 1/2 of an orange pepper and 1/2 of a red
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • about 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • salt and red pepper to taste

Cook the rice, preferably the day before, according to directions on package. When I made this today, I split my rice into halves, and fried up each half separately because my skillet isn’t big enough for all of the rice. Add 3 tbsp oil to a skillet, and add half of the rice. Spread the rice out so it is evenly coated with oil and covers the bottom of the skillet. Press down with a spatula and let it sit for a few minutes. Flip the rice over, and repeat until it is browned, adding more oil if necessary. Create a hole in the middle of the rice and add half of the beaten eggs. Stir until the eggs are cooked thoroughly and transfer the rice to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining rice.

In the same skillet, add 3 more tbsp oil and the chopped vegetables. Saute until the onions are translucent and the carrots, peppers, and peas are soft. Return the rice to the skillet and stir everything together. Garnish with chopped green onions.

 

For dessert, I made my grandma’s lemon breeze bars. She makes some awesome desserts, and these are one of my favorites. She was so happy when I asked her for the recipe before moving out here. She even gave me her Betty Crocker cookbook as a little going away present. Thanks, Grandma!

Grandma’s Lemon Breeze Bars

  • 3/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. flour

Cream together and pat into a 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until it starts to get brown

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Mix well and pour over baked crust. Bake at 350 for 20 more minutes. Let cool and lightly dust with powdered sugar

 

 

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Kiss me…. I’m Belgian?

As the title says, I’m not Irish. But I love any holiday that involves drinking good beer and partying with friends… so pretty much all holidays. I also love green, so that works out well too, since I never have to try very hard to find something green to wear.

I had planned to make these last night and bring them to work today, but that didn’t happen. Something about going for a run and then needing food for dinner and not wanting to bake cookies at 9pm. Oh well. It was nice to come home and drink some Guinness 🙂

I’ve been wanting to make whoopie pies for a while now, ever since I saw a recipe for pumpkin ones. I still need to make those, but I’m not really into pumpkin unless it’s fall, and then I eat enough pumpkin for a whole year. I found this recipe while looking for a booze-y dessert to make. However, I used cream cheese frosting instead of the Irish Cream. Washington is lame and doesn’t sell liquor in grocery stores, and I didn’t feel like driving to 2 different places. For a place that claims to be eco-friendly and turns its nose up at the rest of the country, some of their laws are a bit backward. We may love our huge pickups in Indiana, but at least you can get everything you need at one store.

Also, I might have added lemon extract instead of vanilla to my frosting. Oops. I tried to scoop it out and cover it up with extra vanilla. Meh…. it’s okay. At least it’s green! And it still tastes great, actually not bad with the stout flavor of the cake. I don’t recommend it though, not quite what I was going for.

Chocolate Stout Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting (I halved the original recipe, and ended up with about 16 whoopie pies

  • 1/2 cup stout
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (I just sprayed it with nonstick spray – forgot to buy parchment paper at the store).  Put the stout and butter into a saucepan and heat on low until the butter is melted.  Turn the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a simmer. Whisk in the cocoa powder and set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. In another large bowl, beat the sour cream and egg until combined. Slowly add the stout mixture and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until the flour is moistened, then fold together with a spatula. Place the batter in the freezer for a few minutes to make it easier to scoop.

Use a small cookie dough scoop or tablespoon to drop the batter onto the cookie sheet, leaving about 2 inches between them. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until they are set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Spread with frosting and enjoy! Store them in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Pi day!

Happy Pi day to all my fellow nerds 🙂 I was trying to figure out which pie to make when I remembered the half bag of cranberries in the fridge from the cranberry orange bread. Since apple pie is probably #2 or 3 on my list of favorite pies (with rhubarb being #1…. oh man, I can’t wait until it’s in season again!), it sounded like a perfect combo. I made cranberry apple crisp a while back and decided to incorporate that into a pie.

I used my new favorite crust recipe from Annie’s Eats, which has given me delicious buttery flaky crust every time. Nothing against my mom’s classic crust with shortening, it’s just a little hard to find these days, and I always have butter on hand. I just made the recipe for a single crust, since I was going to cover it with the crumb topping. I adapted this recipe, replacing the pears with more apples and using flour in place of cornstarch. Of course, I saved a little of the crust to make the “pi” for the top.

Apple Cranberry Crumble Pi

  • 1  9-inch pie crust, unbaked
  • 5 granny smith (or other good baking apple) apples, cored and sliced – I didn’t peel them, because I love the peels
  • about half a bag of fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon

Crumb topping

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Make pie crust, chill for about 30 minutes, and roll out into 9-inch pie plate and trim the edges, keeping the extra dough. Preheat oven to 375.

Combine apples, cranberries, lemon juice, sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix until the fruit is evenly coated.

Prepare the crumb topping by combining the ingredients in a medium bowl and mixing the butter in until it forms large crumbs.

Place all of the fruit in the pie crust and cover with the crumb topping. Place a cookie sheet in the bottom rack of the oven to catch any juices. Bake at 375 for about an hour, or until the pie is bubbling. Cover with foil if the top starts to brown too quickly. Let cool for 30 minutes. Serve with ice cream!

Oh, and Bryan gave this pie 3.14 out of 3.14 stars 🙂

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B is for beer

We brewed beer today! A group of us went to a place up in Edmonds that lets you choose a style of beer to make, and then we’ll go back in 2 weeks to bottle our tasty brew. It was like the most awesome chemistry lab ever. I just hope it’s as delicious as I think it will be! I went for a run when we got home, and did surprisingly well considering I had beer sloshing around in my stomach.

Earlier this week, I went to happy hour with some coworkers to a place downtown near the waterfront. I tried the spaetzle, which I’d never had before. It was so good and covered in parm so it was like a delicious salty German mac n cheese. I just knew I had to try and re-create it at home. I loved the texture, and after looking at recipes, it seemed pretty easy to make. So I thought I’d give it a shot tonight. It was so good and will definitely be making more appearances at our dinner table 🙂

Here is a basic recipe. I replaced the fresh parsley with maybe a tsp of dried.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • parmesan cheese

Mix together flour, salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Beat eggs well, and add with the milk to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth. Press dough through a spaetzle maker or a large holed sieve or grater (I just used 2 spoons to drop small amounts into the water). Drop a few at a time into a pot of simmering water and cook until they float to the top, about 3-5 minutes. Drain well. Saute in butter or margarine. Sprinkle parsley and parmesan on top. I made some honey mustard glazed pork chops to serve with it. So good!

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cinnamon toast

I stumbled across this once while looking for recipes – http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/04/the-right-way-and-the-wrong-way-to-make-cinnamon-toast/

I love cinnamon toast, it was one of my favorite breakfasts growing up. I love Cinnamon Toast Crunch and all of its generic varieties. There is something so simple, but perfect about the combination of cinnamon, butter, and sugar. Sadly, after reading her post, I realized I was one of those people making cinnamon toast the completely wrong way. I had often thought about what it might taste like if it was toasted in the oven instead of the toaster. I am not a fan of toasters, mostly because they have 2 settings: zero, or burnt to a crisp. And I never really liked how I had to rush to butter the toast before it cooled down and the butter didn’t soak into the bread. So really, this post from the Pioneer Woman saved me from ever making crappy burnt cinnamon toast again. I tried Approach #4, because it was obviously the one she thought was best. One bite, and my life completely changed. It was almost like a cinnamon roll, which you better believe I will be making again sometime soon 🙂

This is it, in all its glory. So amazing. It may look burnt in the photo, but that’s just all the cinnamon I used. I want more, but I don’t need to start my day with that much butter. Also, although I’m sure he’ll never read this, major props to Mr. Wettrick, my best friend Lisa’s dad, for making the badass coasters. We love them!

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