Friday, October 31, 2008

Saturday: Home Made Whole Wheat Pizza

Well, I have done it. My first real true official FLOP!

Our little family is on the search for our favorite pizza dough and I this was NOT it. I will present to you what I did, with pictures and then provide you with an alternative.


MY FLOP:
3/4 cup of water
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup white flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast
2 tbsp milled flax seed (my secret healthy ingredient)
Seasonings

I put all of the above into a breadmaker and set it on the dough setting.
This dough was dry and although the pizza was edible it did not taste great.
And, home made pizza should taste great!


Here is a dough recipe we have used in the past and liked. I recommend this one and will share a new one next time around.

What to do:

1. Place the following into your bread maker and set on the dough setting.
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon of your favorite pizza seasoning
4 teaspoons fast rise yeast
2 tablespoons of milled flax seed


2. In the mean time take a little bit of cornmeal and sprinkle it onto your pizza pan.

3. When the dough is ready cover it and place it in a warm place for 30 minutes to rise.


4. Roll it out and put your toppings on!

5. Bake for 25-35 minutes at 350 degrees.


TOPPINGS

Canned Tomato Sauce
Cheese (Mozzerella and Paremesean)
Tomatoes, Green Peppers, Mushrooms
Bacon

You can, of course, add any toppings you like!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Friday: Gnocci!!!

You are reading the words of a proud momma! I can not believe that I actually made gnocci and it turned out. But, it really did turn out. It was easy and so yummy. Even my incredibly picky husband helped himself to seconds.

I encourage you to try this unique Italian dish.

Gnocci is a noodle resembling a dumpling. It is made with potatoes, egg and flour.

Here is what you will need:



3 Potatoes (Yukon Gold are great!)
1 Egg
1/2 cup of flour (plus a couple pinches extra)
Salt
Pepper
Parmesan Cheese

What to do:

1. Peel your potatoes!
2. Place them into boiling water and cook for 30 minutes. They are ready when you can poke a fork through them.
3. Remove them from the water and let cool.


4. Butter a baking dish and set aside.


5. If you have a potato ricer you are lucky! You will need to use it now to mush up your potatoes. If you do not, like me, you will get an chance to work out all your stress by forcing the softened potatoes through a sieve with a large spoon. This worked really well and it was worth the efforts!





6. Now, add the following to your potatoes: 1/2 cup of flour, salt, pepper, parmesean cheese and one egg. Mix together.


7. It will become a dough like this picture below. Kneed it for one minute, make sure you flour your hands and kneed this on a floured surface.


8. Divide your dough into four parts. Roll out each piece until it looks like a little gnocci snake. (about 3/4 inches thick). See that little hand in the picture? That is my two year old son. He was helping Mommy with the dough.


9. Cut the dough using a knife into little pieces. I like to take a fork and make little divits into each piece. I do not think this is a must.


10. Now, doing a few at at time, place the gnocci dough into boiling water. Stay right by it! The gnocci will cook within just a minute. It will rise to the top of the water. Allow it to boil at the top of the water for 1 additional minute. You do not want to over boil these dumplings otherwise they will fall apart.




11. Take your cooked gnocci noodles and layer them with marinara sauce, oregano, and cheese~ really soak them into the sauce! Place them into the oven for 20 minutes and enjoy!


This was such a nice alternative to spagehtt and it was really delicious.

Pinto Beans and Cornbread




This is my first repeat meal! These will come now and then, because this is not a fancy smansy cooking site~ rather real mommies who are trying to meal plan, cook, and have happy bellied kids.

I also have to apologize. My dog chewed my memory card. No I am not kidding. It is a long story. My pictures of this meal were electronically digested by a black lab now sleeping on my feet. You can do this meal without pictures, it is easy!!


Pinto Beans and Cornbread is a staple meal in my family.

It is healthy. It is super easy. It is hearty. It is CHEAP.

I make my beans the same way each time and they always come out just perfect. I am currently on the quest for the most perfect, delicious corn bread. I am pleased with the cornbread recipe that I am going to share with you today, however I know there is better cornbread out there...somewhere....waiting for me to find it!




You will need:
Bag of Pinto Beans
Bacon (only four slices)
Salt and Pepper



The Simple Steps to Delicious:

Step 1: Put 4 cups of pinto beans into a collinder, rinse and drain.
Step 2: Put beans in pot of a water. Make sure the water is a few inches above the beans.
Step 3: Slice up the bacon and add to the beans.
Step 4: Place on stove and cook for about two hours. Check on the beans and stir occasionally. The beans will start to get a gravy like sauce around them. This means they are almost finished!
Step 5: Add salt and pepper to taste.

Make your cornbread.

Serve hot and with a delicious sweet treat.
We enjoyed blackberry cobbler to go along side this dish. It is a tradition. Yum!

The beans make for great leftovers or you can use them to nachos.
***************

Now, for the cornbread!

Most corn bread calls for buttermilk. A frugal tip is to add vinegar to your milk, set it aside for a few minutes, and WHALA you have a terrific buttermilk substitute. I use 1 tablespoon of vinegar for every cup of milk.

What you will need:

2 Tablespoons SHORTENING
2 Teaspoons BAKING POWDER
1 Teaspoon SALT
1 EGG
2 Cups Corn Meal
1 Teaspoons BAKING SODA
1 3/4 cup of BUTTERMILK (OR THE TIP I GAVE ABOVE!)
To make real cornbread you should use a cast iron skillet. You CAN make cornbread without it but it is just not as fun.

Step 1:
Take your shortening and scoop it into your skillet. Place this into the oven at 400 degrees while you do the following. You want the shortening to melt.

Step 2:
Mix together your corn meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Step 3: Mix in your egg and "buttermilk"

Step 4: Add this to your hot skillet and stir it all around in the melted shortening.

Step 5: Bake for 25-30 minutes or until nice and golden brown.

*Some people like to put a tad of honey into this recipe also.

Next week I will be making a new cornbread recipe. If you have any suggestions for making really yummy home made cornbread let me know and I will post them!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday: Corn and Wild Rice Casserole

Let me just take a moment to tell you how I feel about this recipe~ YUMMMMMMY!!!!!
I am a Pioneer Woman fan and saw this recipe on her website. She uses this as a side dish during thanksgiving. We decided to use it as the main course and were so pleased with it.
*Forgive me for the lack of pictures, there are a few below. My camera went crazy and ate my memory card. Long story.

Here is what you will need:

Either six fresh cobs of corn OR a bag of frozen corn, no canned corn here!
2 eggs
Whole cream
Wild Rice (the real stuff)
Butter
Cayanne Pepper


What you will need to do:

1. Thank the pioneer woman for her amazing recipie!

2. Follow the instructions on your wild rice for cooking. If you have chicken broth I HIGHLY suggest cooking the wild rice in chicken brother rather than water. This gives it a really good flavor.
I just love the feel of raw foods. Look at this rice (actually, wild rice is a grass).






3. When your rice is cooked drain it and let it cool.

4. Beat your two eggs together and set them aside.

5. In a large bowl add your corn (if it was on the cob make sure you took it off the cob!) and 1 cup of cream, 1 stick of butter, and 1/4 tsp cayanne pepper and do not forget the salt. Now, add your eggs.

6. Stir in the cooled rice with the corn mixture and taste. Add more salt if you need more.

*If your mixture seems too thick you can add a little bit of milk.

7. Place in a buttered baking dish and using a spoon push the corn/rice down into the cream. Bake 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.


Enjoy!


We ate this meal with home made applesauce, homemade wheat bread and pumpkin butter. It was delicious. My husband suggested adding some chicken to the wild rice and corn casserole. I will try this next time around. If anyone does this please let me know how it turns out!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday: Chicken Soup

I think that every family has a way of making chicken soup. I began making chicken soup this way when I was living in Ethiopia. I was able to purchase chicken, carrots, and potatoes very easily and grew to love this simple version of a hearty and healthy soup. I encourage you to take my idea and expand it any way that you and your family enjoy.

What you will need:
Chicken broth (frozen, canned, fresh, matters not!)
Chicken ( I used one very large chicken breast)
Carrots
Potatoes
Seasonings (I like oregano, salt, pepper, onion powder, bay leaves, garlic and thyme)

What you will need to do:
1. Begin by placing your uncooked chicken into your broth. You can always add water to this mixture if you feel that you do not have enough broth. The chicken, as it cooks, will create more taste.

2. Meanwhile, peel your carrots and chop them up however you desire. Wash and cut up your potatoes, but leave the peel on. This adds fiber to your meal.


3. Add your potatoes and carrots to your chicken broth. Continue cooking.

4. When your chicken is cooked, remove it from the broth and cut the meat off of the bone as desired. Place the meat into the soup and continue cooking.


5. Add your seasonings, cook for ten more minutes or until ready to eat!



The soup is finished when your chicken is cooked and your vegetables are tender.
Serve, relax, and enjoy.




This soup freezes very well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday: Katie's Quadoba

I meal plan for three reasons. First, for some sense of control and organization. I think that meal planning, because it is organized, gives me a whole lot more time to be spontaneous. I like that. Second, I meal plan because it allows me to be more frugal. I create my meal plans based off of what is seasonal, on sale, and what I already have in my kitchen. Third, I mean plan because I love sharing this website with my two wonderful and way more talented friends~ Sarah and Alisha.

This particular meal was created for this meal plan because I looked into my fridge and saw some stray items needing to find a home in my tummy. I put them together in a healthy way and came up with a surprisingly good meal.

Here is what you will need:

Tortilla's
Black Beans
Cilantro
Tomato
Avocado
Chicken
Lime Juice
Salt/Pepper
Garlic
Shredded Cheese
And, if you have it Liquid Smoke (if not, it is OK!)

What to do:

1. In the morning put two cups of black beans in some water to soak. Then, cook them and put them into the fridge until you are ready to prepare dinner.
OR you can just use a can of black beans and you are ready to go.

2. Begin by making some pico de gallo. I did not have onion so I made mine by mixing together chopped up tomato, cilantro, and a bit of lime juice. I love pico de gallo.
Set aside. Mmmm...look at those colors. I love fresh food!




2.Cut up some chicken and cook it in a frying pan. When it is almost finished add garlic, lime juice, and if you have some just a hint of liquid smoke.


3. Take your tortilla and spread avocado onto it as if you were buttering bread. Really get that avocado on there. It is really good for you!

4. Scoop some chicken onto it.
5. Scoop some pico de gallo onto it.
6. Scoop some black beans onto it.
7. Scoop some cheese onto it.



8. Place another tortilla ontop and put it into a frying pan that has a little bit of olive oil in it. Brown and flip.


9. Serve with a little bit of sour cream or taco sauce.



MMMMMM....enjoy.

ps...you can also make these without the chicken. Just add garlic and lime juice to your black beans for flavor.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday: Pumpkin Tomato Basil Soup



As promised! It is so healthy and so yummy and so easy!



What you will need:
3 cups (estimate) of your pumpkin puree that we just made (see post below this one)!
1 jar of tomatoes OR 7 tomatoes skinned and chopped.
4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
4-7 good sized carrots
Onion
Mushroom
Garlic
1/2 stick butter
Fresh basil
1/4 cup cream, half and half, or milk (I used milk!)


How to create this yummy and healthy soup:

1. Chop up your carrots. Using a food processor makes this really easy.


2. In a large pot add your carrots, pumpkin and broth together. You can use either chicken broth or vegetable stock. I used vegetable and was very pleased with the flavor.


3. Using your food processor yet again, cut up your onion and mushrooms. I love my food processor.


4. Keep stirring your pumpkin/carrot/broth as you saute your mushroom/onion mixture in the 1/2 stick of butter. Add in your tomatoes.



5. ADD your cream/milk at this time to the carrot/pumpkin mixture.
Mix in your vegetables into the big pot, and stir all together. Cook for about 10 minutes. This really gets the flavors melted all together.


6. Add your basil!

7. Serve it into bread bowls (recipe below) and enjoy!





************************Bread Bowls************************
I love making bread bowls for soup because it makes it seem like I actually am good in the kitchen! These are so easy, especially if you have a bread maker.

Step one: Make your favorite bread as normal in your bread maker, but do not bake it. Set your bread maker to make the dough only! I made whole-wheat bread with flax.

Step two: Once the bread dough is ready, which you will know by the insistant beeping of your bread maker, divide it into balls~ one for each bread bowl you are making.

Step three: Trying not to handle the dough too much, shape the balls into, well balls. Dur. Bake them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (this may change depending on their size).

Step four: While they are still hot cut a top into them and remove a lot of the inside, without puncutring the outer shell.
I use my fist to punch down a lot of the inside bread rather than removing it all.

That is it! They are ready for soup and to be eaten!








One little tidbit about this meal~ I read that some people add sugar to this soup. We did not and it was delicious. You may want to, this is a taste preferance.
My husband devoured this soup. Remember it contains carrots, pumpkin, mushroom, tomato, and onion. My husband would stand his ground and tell you right now that he would never be caught eating tomatoes or onions or mushrooms or pumpkin. Hehehe...he did not even know that these were in his soup. What a sneaky woman I am!

Bonus: Making Pumpkin Puree

Most of you probably know how to do this already. As I am early on in my quest to become more self-sufficient this is the first year I have said "no" to canned foods and made everything fresh even down the pumpkin. This was so easy, actually a bit fun, and has yielded several delicious recipies for our family.

Here is what you do with a pumpkin, which by the way are staring to go on sale now all over the place.

1. Find a pumpkin patch and pick out several pumpkins. Choose a pumpkin this is not

2. Go home and have some fun cleaning out the pumpkin guts! Make sure to save all of the seeds. I started by using a big spoon to clean as much of the guts out as I could.
too big for your "puree" pumpkin.



3. Cut your pumpkin in half and continue cleaning it up.




4. Cut your pumpkin into smaller pieces and place them on a baking sheet (or two!)




5. Place your pumpkin (with skin on) into the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the pumpkin looks soft and golden.




6. Remove the pumpkin pieces. Let them cool for a moment. Remove the skin, it peels right off the back!

7. Place your pumpkin into a food processor and blend into a nice puree is formed.




8. Place your puree into seperate bags/tupperware and freeze. This puree will last several months in your freezer and is going to be used to make all sorts of yummy things in the coming weeks.


Now, clean off your pumpkin seeds. Even clean they will remain slimy.



Place them on a baking sheet and let them sit overnight.



The next day sprinkle them with olive oil, salt, pepper and seasonings of your choice and bake them!


MMMMMM, yum!