Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pizza Dough

 Tonight I made an entire pizza homemade. I'm talking fresh, homemade dough for the crust and sauce cooked on the stove.  So I didn't grind the cow meat myself or make the cheese fresh, but I'm still pretty proud.  I'm ashamed to say that this was my first pizza dough experience.  The dough had excellent flavor and texture.  I had some issues trying to shape it at the end (it wouldn't stretch or roll) so I went with the "rustic" look =).

I'm still playing around with the sauce recipe.  While it was pretty good, it needs some fine tuning. Stay tuned for that recipe.
As for the crust, let me show you...(it's important to note that the recipe I used involved a stand mixer with a fitted paddle.  I do not have one of these so I just did it by hand.)

 The recipe calls for your warm water to be around 110degrees.  I couldn't quite get it up to that without making it jump to 120.  105 was fine.  (If your water is too cold, the yeast won't activate. If it's too warm, it can kill the yeast. Yeast and I have such a love/hate relationship, but I won't bore you with it.) Save yourself the time and just use a thermometer. 

Add your yeast to the warm water.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes so that the yeast can dissolve and swell.  The recipe did not say to stir before letting it sit, but I couldn't help myself.  I totally stirred it first. 

While your yeast water is sitting, mix the salt in with the flour.

Once your yeast has sit for a while, it will start to get bubbly.  This is a good sign it is activated and working.

To the yeast water, add your oil and room temperature water.

Pour into the flour

Mix until it starts to form a cohesive dough. 

Dump on a floured counter

Knead the dough until it's no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic

Put into an oiled bowl. Turn over once to coat both sides.
The original recipe says to cover with plastic.  I have always been taught to lay a warm, wet cloth over the top.  My thinking is if the plastic sticks to the bowl, it will prevent the dough from rising and we do not want that. 

Let sit for one and a half to two hours

Two hours later....

Punch dough down and divide into two.

 This is where I had my trouble.  I tried rolling the dough.  I tried stretching it into shape.  It either bounced back at me and wouldn't hold the shape or it ripped a whole in the dough.  Finally I just put it on the pizza pan and did the best I could praying it would fix itself in the end. .
After going back and reading the recipe and doing some research, I realize that I forgot to let the dough rest after it rose. This is important because if the gluten doesn't get a chance to rest, the dough will "bounce back".  Lesson learned!

Layer on your toppings and cook

The dough rose perfectly in the oven and had an amazing texture.

It made two crusts:

A bit of warning for parents out there:  Make sure you are keeping a close eye on your child while you're all wrapped up trying to shape the dough.  If your not careful you might end up with this:

Yes, that's crayon...all over my couch.  Oiy!
Mommy Fail!

The Recipe

Yield: enough dough for 2 medium pizzas or 4 calzones

½ cup warm water
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp. salt
1¼ cup water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Measure 1/2 cup warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top. Set aside for about 5 minutes, allowing the yeast to begin activating.   In a bowl combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend.  Add the olive oil and room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture.  Slowly pour the yeast-water mixture into the flour.  Mix until a cohesive dough is formed.  Pour unto a floured work space and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with a warm, wet towel and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours.
Press down the dough to deflate it.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball.  (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.)  Cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.
To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone (if you have one. I used a normal pizza pan)  to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes.  Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  Shape the dough with lightly floured hands.  Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil.  Top as desired.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

Source: adapted from annies eats

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Black Bean Burger

Two things.  First, I absolutely love finding new food blogs to get ideas from.  Second, I'm trying to train my body to get less sleep.  No, you did not read that wrong.  I have been falling asleep at night when I put my daughter to 8pm.  Yet every day I struggle to keep my eyes open.  So maybe I'm getting too much sleep????  Who knows, but I decided to kill two birds with one stone (where did that phrase come from anyway??) tonight and stayed up late to try out a new recipe from a new blog that I'm quickly falling in love with: Annie Eats.

For those of you that might not know, I was a vegetarian for a good while before I got pregnant and couldn't eat anything that I use to (curse you gestational diabetes.)  Beans were a staple in my diet.  I ate them all the time. With that, I had tried several different black bean burgers. Some good, some not so good.  I never really had a set recipe that I used or fell back on.  After making this recipe tonight, I think I might finally have one.  This burger turned out so flavorful.  All the pieces just fit together perfectly.  Annie suggested Havarti cheese to top it with and I'm going to have to agree completely.  While it might be a bit more difficult to find, the flavor was the finishing piece to round it out. Want to try it for yourself?  Let's go!

mix the olive oil with the breadcrumbs with a fork until it is completely incorporated.  The recipe calls for Panko breadcrumbs but I grabbed plain breadcrumbs from the shelf.  It didn't taint the recipe at all. 

Once mixed, heat in a skillet on the stove until toasted

Set aside to cool
Rinse and drain 2 cans of beans

In a large bowl, mash up 1 1/2 cups of the beans

In a separate bowl, mix together eggs,

salt and cayenne.

dice up a red bell pepper, 

and a scallion. They look like a mini onion. 

To the mashed bean mixture, add the breadcrumbs, egg mixture, pepper and scallion, and the left over whole beans.

Mix all together

Don't forget the cilantro!!  I almost did. I might have cried...

Patty them out.  To keep them all the same size, so they'll cook evenly, I used a 1/2 cup to measure.  This resulted in 6 nice sized burgers (and one baby one for Jesalyn)

Cook on the stove until nice and golden.  The secret to keep them from falling apart on you is: do not flip, touch, or stare directly at them until they are completely set on the bottom.  For me, this took about 8 minutes on each side.

Once cooked, transfer to bun, top with cheese and enjoy!

In yo face!

Black Bean Burgers
Yield: 6 burgers
¾ cup panko
3 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided
2 large eggs
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 shallot, minced
Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Combine the panko with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and mix with a fork to blend.  Add the mixture to the skillet and toast the panko, stirring frequently, until light golden brown.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.  
Place 2½ cups of the beans in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or a fork until mostly smooth.  In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, 1 tablespoon of the oil, cumin, salt and cayenne.  Whisk to blend.  Add the egg mixture, toasted panko, the remaining ½ cup beans, bell pepper, cilantro and shallot to the bowl with the mashed beans.  Stir together until evenly combined.  
Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions, about ½ cup each.  Lightly pack into 1-inch thick patties.  (At this point the patties can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before cooking.)  Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Carefully lay half of the patties in the skillet and cook until well browned on both sides, about 8-10 minutes total.  Transfer the cooked burgers to a plate, tent with foil, and repeat with the remaining oil and bean patties.  Serve warm.

from: Annie Eats

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pet Peeve

Since when is a suburban considered a compact car???  Or, a Denali, or......a HUMMER!!
Seriously folks

Monday, July 18, 2011

Iced Coffee

My coffee addiction started in college.  It got me through the days of classes and double workouts at the gym.  When I got hired on at the local coffeehouse in town, it was over (in a good way I mean.)  I am 100% honest when I say that it changed my life.  It gave me an appreciation for different personalities and types of people.  You will not find more personality or character than at a legit, non-commercial, coffee house.  It gave me a love for baking (the owner made all of her food fresh daily,) and it gave me my dream of one day opening my own coffee place. 

With that said, when I saw this recipe for an iced coffee concentrate, I absolutely had to try it out.  The hubs and I make our own version of iced coffee at night from that mornings leftovers, and it’s good but not always up to par.  Sometimes, there isn’t any left from the morning and sometimes, the coffee just isn’t strong enough to taste good when you add the milk and ice to it.  To have bulk coffee concentrate on hand at all times sounded lovely.  Plus, I needed something to get me through this pile of laundry tonight:


The actual name of the recipe from the pioneer woman is “Perfect Iced Coffee,” and I must say that it held up to its name.  It’s everything I had hoped for and more.

Rhee (no, we are not on a first name basis at all, but I can pretend) claims that it’s super easy to make.  I won’t say she is wrong, but it took more work than our normal method of pouring some old coffee into a cup with some milk.    It’s worth the extra work and it makes enough that you only have to do it once a month, depending on how much you drink.  Her recipe called for restaurant style containers to hold the amount of liquid needed.  I adjusted the recipe to fit the biggest container I had. 

 Grab the largest bowl, pan, horse trough you can find and pour in the coffee grounds.

Pour in the water

Stir it all around to get the coffee incorporated

Put a lid on it and don't touch for at least 8 hours.  This will be difficult to do when you got a caffeine craving.

8 hours later  

Line another pan (or large tea pitcher as I did) with a sieve and then a layer of cheese cloth.  I couldn't find any cheese cloth in time so I used paper towels.  

Start slowly pouring in the coffee, careful not to make a mess.  This took a good 30 min. for all the coffee to filter.  Patience young grasshopper!!!

Transfer the yummy goodness to whatever your going to store it in. 
Then, this is the hardest part yet.  Do Not, I repeat, do not pour yourself a glass at this point.  It has to be cold.  
Put in the refrigerator until cold.

When it's ready, 

Get yourself a glass of ice, 

Fill half way with the coffee

And top off with your choice of dairy. I chose half and half.  I guess I got so excited, I spilled some.  

And there you have it.  You won't find anything better, anywhere.

*on a side note, if your feeling really frisky, you can pour in a little sweetened condensed milk.  It will make your forget all your worries*  Speaking of, where's that laundry?

The recipe: (adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
3 Cups of fresh ground coffee (something bold)
14 Cups of cold water
Whatever milk you want to add

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

Maybe it's because I needed something to do (forget the piles and piles of laundry.)  Maybe it's because I was missing the cooler temperatures of fall.  Maybe it's because I bought wayyyy too much pumpkin last fall in fear of another pumpkin shortage (you can not go through October without pumpkin) and needed to clear some space in my cabinet.  Whatever the reason, I am so glad I made these Pumpkin Cinnamon Streusel Muffins from two peas and their pod.  

Their recipe says that it makes 24 muffins.  As always, I didn't get nearly that many.  In fact, I only got 12.   But they are big and beautiful.

For the batter,

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together:


baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg

set aside and mix the wet ingredients:



pumpkin,  water, eggs (oh look a smiley face...kind of)

and vanilla extract.
(my step dad use to travel to Mexico for work. He would always bring me back and nice big jug of Mexican vanilla.  Boy, do I miss those days.)

Mix the dry in with the wet:
and stir all up

Set aside to make the filling and the struesel topping:

The filling
brown sugar and cinnamon: simple but delicious

The topping:
 Oats, flour, brown sugar, Cinnamon, butter and a "dash" of nutmeg

 thanks to my quick tip I learned, mixing the cold butter in was a breeze!

Yes, I have a spoon for "dash."  Only real bakers do! (kidding of course.)

Now, put the muffins together.  Super easy!
After oiling the tin, fill each muffin cup half-full with the batter.

Sprinkle on the filling

More batter

And finally the streusel

The finished product:

Eat and dream of the cooler days of October....

The recipe (taken from


1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Filling:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Streusel Topping:
1 1/4 cup oats
1 tablespoon flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, water, pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth and combined.
4. Slowly stir in the flour mixture. Mix until ingredients are combined.
5. For the brown sugar cinnamon filling: in a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Set aside.
6. For the streusel topping: in a small bowl mix together the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix in the butter with your hands until the mixture is crumbly.
7. Fill muffin cups half way full with the pumpkin batter. Sprinkle the brown sugar cinnamon filling over each half filled muffin cup. Fill the muffins cups with the remaining batter. Top each muffin with streusel topping.
8. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and cool on a wire rack. Remove muffins from tins and enjoy.