Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cauliflower Rice

Here's a healthy alternative to rice which I think tastes great.

Cut the cauliflower from the head and cut it into smaller pieces.  Wash and dry the pieces and then put them into the blender/food processor and mix it till it is the size of rice.  Add Cauliflower into microwave safe dish with the lid (nothing else, don’t add water) and microwave for 5 minutes or put in pan on stove with an inch or 2 of water bring to a boil and throw in cauliflower with lid and steam 3 to 5 minutes then strain.  When it is done add what ever seasoning  you would like!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Asian Quinoa Salad

Here’s another great and healthy Quinoa Salad. I used a combination of white and red Quinoa.

Asian Quinoa Salad
3/4c. uncooked Quinoa
11/2c. water or Chicken Broth
1c. Sugar Snap Peas or Snow Peas trimmed and cut in half
Bring to a boil then lower to med low and cook 10 minutes. Then toss in Snow Peas and cook for 6 minutes more.
Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.
2-3 C. shredded Coleslaw mix or (shredded cabbage and carrots)
1 Red Bell Pepper sliced thin
3T. Cilantro Chopped
2T. Green onions sliced
1T. Sesame Seeds
1T. Rice Wine Vinegar
2T. Orange Marmalade
2t. Sesame Oil
1T. Ginger root minced
Juice from 1 lime
1t. salt
pinch of Cayenne pepper
1t. garlic minced
Mix altogether until combined well. Pour over Quinoa and toss.

Adapted from Weight Watchers

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Best Pizza Dough for Thin Crust - Seriously

If you like thin crust pizza, then this is the crust for you. It comes out with crunchy edges and bottom crust but not too much. Just like you would get at a pizza oven restaurant. Well no need to go out or order in you can make it right at home with your regular oven. The only tools you need are a pizza stone and if you don’t have that you can bake it on the bottom of a cookie sheet. ( I recommend the pizza stone you can get them cheap at Ross) I’ve tried several recipes and have found 2 that are great in texture and crunch but the best overall was Peter Reinhart’s due to the flavor of the crust. ( It ferments overnight in the fridge so be prepared for that). Peter Reinhart is a master of Bread. I have a few of his cookbooks and they are awesome to read. He traveled all over Europe learning the skills and secrets of Artisan bread bakers. The cookbook this recipe came  from was Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It’s a great cookbook and interesting too.  If you are into bread baking this is a must have for your baking repertoire. The recipe is Napoletana Pizza Dough recipe and here it is:
Napoletana Pizza Dough recipe
4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 (.44 ounce) teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting
1. Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). With a large metal spoon, stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment), If you are mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the metal spoon into cold water and use it, much like a dough hook, to work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other hand. Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the gluten further. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed. If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn’t come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50 to 55F.
2. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with baking parchment and misting the parchment with spray oil (or lightly oil the parchment). Using a metal dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you are comfortable shaping large pizzas), You can dip the scraper into the water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking to it, Sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip your hands into the flour again. Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pan, Mist the dough generously with spray oil and slip the pan into a food-grade plastic bag.
3. Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough, or keep for up to 3 days. (Note: If you want to save some of the dough for future baking, you can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag. Dip each dough ball into a bowl that has a few tablespoons of oil in it, rolling the dough in the oil, and then put each ball into a separate bag. You can place the bags into the freezer for up to 3 months. Transfer them to the refrigerator the day before you plan to make pizza.)
4. On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before making the pizza. Before letting the dough rest at room temperature for 2 hours, dust the counter with flour, and then mist the counter with spray oil. Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour; dust your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil, and cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag. Now let rest for 2 hours.
5. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone either on the floor of the oven (for gas ovens), or on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven as hot as possible, up to 800F (most home ovens will go only to 500 to 550F, but some will go higher). If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.
6. Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Make the pizzas one at a time. Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in flour and lift I piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue shaping it. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss as shown on page 208. If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, though this isn’t as effective as the toss method.
7. When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction (about 9 to 12 inches in diameter for a 6-ounce piece of dough), lay it on the peel or pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide. Lightly top it with sauce and then with your other toppings, remembering that the best pizzas are topped with a less-is-more philosophy. The American “kitchen sink” approach is counterproductive, as it makes the crust more difficult to bake. A few, usually no more than 3 or 4 toppings, including sauce and cheese is sufficient.
8. Slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door. Wait 2 minutes, then take a peek. If it needs to be rotated 180 degrees for even baking, do so. The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake. If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone to a lower self before the next round. if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone for subsequent bakes.
9. Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to set slightly.
Makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts.
from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
My notes: It is hard to hand toss pizza and it does take practice so until you can get it down here is an alternative. I would press my dough round out and then stretch it as best as I could on top of a piece of parchment paper using a little olive oil rubbed on top of the dough. The olive oil helps you not rip the dough.  I always try to get mine as thin as possible but that’s my preference. Remember that they aren’t going to be perfectly shaped. Think Artisan.  I give it a sprinkling of dried basil before I put on the sauce and toppings.
One of the most important things I can tell you so you can keep that nice toasty crunch is to go light on toppings don’t over do it or it will steam the crust and make it soft. Just put a nice thin layer of sauce and then scattered toppings. I slide it into the oven on the pizza stone but still on the parchment paper. It works great until you master the hand toss technique.
Enjoy,  we do regularly!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Bunny Snack Mix

What To Do With All Your Leftover Easter Candy – Make Easter Bunny Crack! I Mean Crunch Mix.

I hope you all had a fabulous Easter. I did but I probably ate my weight in candy and desserts. Thank goodness it’s Monday and I can start fresh!
This is really good and really addicting.  So if you are hoping to make it and get rid of candy this is a good way but you might hate yourself for it because you might be the one to eat it all. I actually made it before Easter but this is a good way to use up any leftover candy and you can make it with what you have. I of course made it with a lot of things I love and to go together. 
Easter Bunny Crack Crunch Snack Mix
1 bag of Caramel Puff Corn
1 box of Annies Chocolate Chip Bunny Cookies
11/2c. Peanut Butter filled pretzels or pretzel sticks. (I did a combo)
1 bag of M & M’s
1 bag of Candy Corn
2 C. mini Marshmallows
1 package of White Almond Bark Melted
1/2c. Peanuts
Put all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour melted Almond bark over all of it and mix well. Spread out on cookie sheet to let harden then break apart if needed.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Carrot Cake Cream Puffs

Carrot Cake Cream Puffs

One last treat for Easter or anytime really. I had this idea in my head about an Easter themed or flavored cream puff in the shape of Carrot. I looked around on the net couldn’t find anything so I set to work. I do this from time to time I have some fails and some good ones and some great ones. This turned out to be one of those great ones. I was super excited about how they turned out. They tasted awesome just like Carrot cake. So I made the Pate’ Choux using Alton Brown’s recipe and piped it into carrots. I came up with a carrot mousse like recipe adding spices to mimic carrot cake and filled it with that and glazed it with a carrot juice, glaze. It helped finish off the look of the carrot due to the orange color. Yay! I love when things work out how you envisioned. Everyone really enjoyed them and kept going back for more. It really has the  carrot cake taste. So here’s the recipe:
Carrot Cake Cream Puffs
Alton Brown’s Pate Choux
Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Mousse
8 oz. cream cheese softened
1/2c. plus 1heaping Tablespoon of Carrot Puree’ ( I cooked half a bag of mini carrots in water and a T. brown sugar until tender and water almost all evaporated then I emersion blended it til smooth)
1c. sugar and 3T. toasted pecans blended in blender until no sign of pecans
1t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/4t. nutmeg
1/8t. cloves
pinch of salt
11/4c. whip cream whipped
1T. of cheesecake pudding mix (optional) I added this to whip cream as I was whipping it
1t. vanilla
Beat cream cheese until fluffy, add sugar pecan mixture and beat in until all mixed in.
mix spices and salt into carrot puree and add to cream cheese mixture. Add vanilla and fold in whip cream.
Chill in fridge for at least an hour.

Cut off partial tops of pate choux carrots and pipe or spoon in mousse and return tops.

Carrot Juice Glaze/Icing
2c. powdered sugar
3T. carrot Juice you may need more to thin out enough
1t. lemon juice
1/4 t. vanilla
mix until all combined well and adjust to make it spreading consistency but thick enough to harden on top.
spread or pur glaze over top of carrots and let harden.
refrigerate until ready to serve.