Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pizza Pizza

Pizza has long been my favorite dish to make, order or generally consume.

In fact, the first time I ever cooked for Ross (and probably won him over) I made bbq chicken pizza. That is the way to man's heart.

I will openly admit that I can make a damn good pizza, but it wasn't always so.  

In the beginning, the base of each pizza I made was a pre-made crust.  Covered in bottled marinara and topped with packaged pepperoni and mozzarella cheese, clearly this was not the healthiest option.  After realizing that I did not care for the texture of pre-made crusts, I moved on to pre-made pizza dough.  Although Pillsbury makes the lives of Americans much easier, all of the additives included to keep the dough fresh and flavorful could be completely avoided by taking a little extra time on our end.

Once I took the time to make pizza dough from scratch, I never turned back.

I've followed a few different dough recipes, but this one has to be my favorite.  The dough has a really nice consistency and bakes into a crunchy, thin crust.  It also includes ingredients that I always have in my pantry, which is almost always the deciding factor.

Basic Pizza Dough slightly altered from

    • 2 teaspoons honey
    • package active dry yeast 
    • 3/4 cup warm water 
    • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • Olive oil

  • Dissolve the honey and yeast in 3/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Add 2 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Sprinkle dough with black pepper and oregano.Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic; add enough of the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).
  • Place dough in a large bowl coated lightly with olive oil, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in size. 
  • Roll dough into a 12-inch circle (about 1/4 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on circular baking sheet and cover with sauce and toppings. Bake at 375° until the edges are crispy and cheese has melted, 10-15 minutes.
  • Top with leftover marinara sauce, black olives, spicy turkey sausage, onion, peppers, arugula and fontina cheese... or bbq sauce, grilled chicken, red onion and cheddar cheese. This dough so versatile and yummy, I kind of wonder what it would taste like with nothing but a little butter on top after baking to a crisp. Mmmm.
This pizza recipe is just lovely with a bottle of your favorite red...

Buon Appetito!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pretty Produce

Last weekend Ross and I finally went back to Sunset Valley Farmers Market

I'll be honest, it had been a few months since we paid these local farmers a visit... I'm so mad at myself for this! Mostly because the winter selection is breathtakingly beautiful and super inexpensive.  It's a definitely win-win situation. Not to mention "winter" in Austin is like spring in most places, so that's just one more reason to keep a Saturday farmers market trip in my weekend rotation.

Rather than blabbing on about the selection, the pictures I took will say it all. By the way, there's no filter on these pictures... the produce is really just that pretty.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Winter Veggie Stir Fry

I went to the grocery store the other day, and every vegetable I've ever wanted to cook was on sale. Rainbow chard, shiitake mushrooms, acorn squash... mmm.  In honor of such a bountiful selection, I chose to purchase all of the above items and combine them into one lovely little dish.

This Winter Veggie Stir Fry has a lot of moving parts, but it's actually really easy.

Let's start with the rice:

1 cup long grain brown rice
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
a pinch of salt
3 cloves
1 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms

Place in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Place a lid on the pan and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 50 minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes before removing lid.

Once the rice is in the simmering stage, you can move onto the acorn squash:

Preheat oven to 350 and spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy insides.  Place both halves face down on the pan.  Cook 20-25 minutes and let cool before touching. run a spoon just inside the skin to remove the center in one large piece. Discard skin and chop squash into cubes.

While the squash is in the oven, let's work on the other vegetables:

1 bunch of rainbow chard
2 small broccoli crowns

Remove hard stem from chard and break apart leaves into medium sized pieces.  Cut hard stem off the broccoli and break apart into bite sized pieces.  Steam over boiling water until chard begins to wilt and broccoli is soft enough to eat.

Tying in all together:

1 tbsp Hoisin
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce (or more)

Remove cloves from the rice. Remember, you put 3 in there, and 3 need to come out!  Place pan (with rice) back over a medium heat. Stir in hoisin, vinegar and soy sauce.  Toss in squash, broccoli and chard.  Stir continually for a few minutes and add more soy sauce if needed.

See? That wasn't so bad. And it's so colorful, proving that it's a super healthy winter dish!
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