Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pizza Toppings

181. We've been experimenting with a variety of pizza toppings. Although I love to order pizza or go to a pizzeria, homemade pizza is just as delicious.
When we make pizza at home, I usually make my dough from "scratch". Yes, flour, yeast, water. You can find my recipe here. You could also purchase a pre-made pizza dough from your local pizza shop, find dough in the freezer section of your grocery store or shop Trader Joes Market in the prepared food coolers for pizza dough.
We tried two different toppings, broccoli and tomato.
Broccoli Topping for Pizza

2 cups chopped, fresh broccoli
2 cloves garlic crushed
olive oil
parmesan cheese
mozzarella cheese
pizza dough

Saute the broccoli in olive oil till bright green, add garlic and seasoning. Set aside to cool. Spread broccoli on prepared pizza dough and sprinkle parmesan cheese over broccoli evenly. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake in a 450 degree oven till cheese is browning lightly.
Stewed Rosemary Tomato Topping for Pizza

4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, remove rosemary leaves from stem
olive oil
mozzarella cheese
pizza dough

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil for approximately 3 minutes, add tomatoes and seasoning. Saute till tomatoes begin to break down but color is bright. Set aside to cool. Spread stewed tomato on prepared pizza dough and sprinkle rosemary leaves evenly over. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake in a 450 degree oven till cheese is browning lightly.
The type of cheese you use is important. Whole milk mozzarella will give you a better overall covering and will add flavor to your pizza. Finding a cheese mix with mozzarella, provolone and parmesan is a great combination as well.
For a large pizza I will use 2 to 3 cups of cheese.
I made this pizza in my Pampered Chef bar pan.
Once the pizza was done I sprinkled whole fresh basil leaves over the top.
This was scrumptious!!! We really like using the stewed tomato topping on grilled pizza and crusty bread slices also.

"I am always doing that which I cannot do,
in order that I may learn how to do it. "
~Pablo Picasso

"Take risks: if you win, you will be happy;
if you lose, you will be wise."
~Author Unknown

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Salad for Dinner

180. A refreshing change for dinner is taking a break from meat and potatoes. Tonight, we had salad for dinner.
I found a wonderful olive focaccia bread at the local bakery. It was rustic, flavorful and almost a meal in itself.
The salad ingredients were romaine lettuce, chopped scallion, sliced red radish, chopped apple, crumbled feta cheese, ground sea salt, ground gourmet pepper corns, dark balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
This meal was satisfying, and the apple added an extra special sweetness and crunch.

Have salad for dinner and add fruit or nuts for a surprising and delicious change.

"To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist-the problem is the same in both cases. To know exactly how much oil one must put with one's vinegar."
~ Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shaker Bean Soup

179. I have the perfect soup recipe for you on a chilly autumn day. This recipe was in an old "Taste of Home-Country Woman" magazine many years ago. If you know anything about ToH, they include pull out recipe cards for you to place in your recipe box. And that is where this jewel my "favorites" file.

When you first read the ingredients, it is difficult to assimilate the tastes with the finished product. But trust me, you will be in awe as you take the first couple bites and the richness and full body flavor of this soup surprises you!

Fresh ingredients are always my first choice, but frozen or canned substitutes work just as well.
Shaker Bean Soup
Country Woman (Taste of Home) Jan/Feb 1992
Grand Prize Winning Recipe

1 pound dry great northern beans
1 meaty ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks (don't use a ham bone from a ham baked with cloves or spices.)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 large stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, shredded
kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes in puree, or 6 fresh tomatoes chopped and crushed
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 cups finely shredded fresh spinach leaves, or one frozen package of spinach, thawed

Sort and rinse beans. Place in a Dutch oven or soup kettle; cover with water and bring to boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; let stand 1 hour. Drain beans and discard liquid. In the same kettle, place ham bone or hocks, 3 quarts of water and the beans. Bring to a full rolling boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until meat easily falls from the bone. Remove bones from broth and, when cool enough to handle, trim meat. Discard bones.
Add ham, onion, carrots, salt pepper and thyme. Simmer covered, 1 hour or until beans are tender.
Once beans are tender, continue with remaining ingredients.
Add tomatoes and brown sugar. Cook for 10 minutes. Just before serving, add spinach. This gives the soup a beautiful color with the bright green of the spinach.
The cook who shared this homemade recipe was Deborah, of Michigan.
You will be delighted to serve this delicious and beautiful, colorful soup. It is very hearty and filling. Perfect on a cold evening. And you will wait in line for seconds!

"Omit and substitute! That's how recipes should be written.
Please don't ever get so hung up on published recipes that you forget that you can omit and substitute."
~Jeff Smith (the Frugal Gourmet)

"Recipes are like poems; they keep what kept us.
And, good cooks are like poets; they know how to count."
~Henri Coulette

Monday, October 18, 2010

Apple Picking

178. Apple picking is a yearly tradition for our family. And, visiting Wickham's Fruit Farm in Cutchogue, NY is always a highlight.
When you pull into the parking lot and step out of the car, the aroma of fresh made donuts fills the air. You can purchase sugar and cinnamon, sugar or plain. We always go for the mixed bag.
They are cake like and so delicious!

Once you pay for u-pick apples, you walk across the field and climb onto a wagon. Our Girls Club came along for the fun.

After you fill your bag with apples and eat one or two you head back to the farm stand.
They have all types of fruit, cheese, apple cider, jams, jellies
and delicious baked goods.
They also have fantastic honey collected from their own hives.
We had a wonderful day and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine, time with friends and the delicious apples.

"You never know how many apples there are in one little seed."
~ Annonymous

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Icing

177. This is a frightful post...because you can't eat just one, or two of these awesome cookies and also frightful for the amount of butter in the recipe. Ha, ha! But, that has never scared us away in the past.

With fresh pureed pumpkin ready to use, a batch of Pumpkin Cookies was on the "to-do" list.
I found a few recipes and adjusted them for use with fresh pumpkin puree'.
Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Icing

1 1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup fresh pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup evaporated milk
3 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and brown sugar for approximately 3 minutes till creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, pumpkin puree'. Blend together at medium speed and slowly add the evaporated milk in a stream. Next, add all the dry ingredients. Mix together till the batter is smooth and all flour is incorporated.
The batter will be sticky and wet. Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet allowing room for cookies to spread. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or till they spring back to touch. Remove cookies to parchment paper to cool. Be careful you do not overlap or touch cookies together. They will stick to each other and you will loose the perfect edge.
Cookies will rise nicely and will brown lightly on the bottom.
The centers will be very cake-like and soft.
Browned Butter Icing

4 cups confectioners sugar, place in mixing bowl and set aside
1 1/4 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup evaporated milk plus 1 Tablespoon

Place butter in a small saucepan. Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling the butter and continue the cooking process for 3 minutes till butter browns. First the water cooks off and foams, then the temperature rises as the butter boils. Finally, the small bits of milk solids and salt drop to the bottom of the pan. Once the color of the butter becomes nutty brown remove the saucepan from the heat.
Scrap the bottom of the pot to release all the yummy bits from the bottom. Pour all into the confectioners sugar. Add the vanilla and evaporated milk. Blend together till all sugar is smooth and butter is incorporated.
Allow icing to cool and spread on cooled cookies.
Now this is Pumpkin Cookie Heaven!!!

"Eat butter first, and eat it last,
and live till a hundred years be past."
~ Old Dutch Proverb


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