Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Lazy Pizza Trick

I love pizza.  LOVE IT!  Especially when its homemade.  The only problem is that with past recipes, the dough had to rest for at least 30 minutes before forming and baking.  Well, I got a new book and its changing the way I think about baking bread. 

The book is called 'Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day' by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg.  The general method is to mix up a match of high moisture dough on the weekend and keep it in your fridge.  When you're ready to bake bread or make pizza, pull out your dough and do it.  You just have to use the dough within two weeks of mixing.  That's it.  That's all. 

Last night, I made pizza.  Again!  I had some leftover meat that I wanted to use up and all of the other ingredients were on hand.  Why not?

For pizza, make up a master dough recipe found here following up to refrigerating the dough:

This time, I replaced 1 cup of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour.  Here's how to make the pizza:

'Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day' Lazy Pizza

1.  Put a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to the highest temperature setting.

2.  Place a sheet of parchment paper on the table and lightly dusted it with flour.  Next, pull the dough out of the fridge and grab a nice hunk (about the size of a grapefruit).  Formed the dough hunk into a ball and put it on the prepared parchment.  Flatten with your hands and get out your favorite rolling pin.  It should look a little like this:

3.  Roll out with the rolling pin to about 1/4 inch or so thick.  Keep the rolling pin dusted, but don't worry too much about the dough sticking to the parchment paper.  The sticking helps the dough from springing back too much when you roll it.  Take your time-- It should take at least a full three to five minutes to roll. 

4.  Using your fingers, press the dough from the center to the outside edge, stopping about an inch from the edge.  This will create a lip for crust and a 'toppings crater'.  This is a good thing.

5. Slide the whole thing onto the pizza stone and bake for 7 to ten minutes (see note) to give the crust a head start. 
6. Remove from the oven (the crust will not be done at all), carefully peel off the parchment and slide the crust onto a cornmeal dusted pizza peel.  Top with your favorite toppings.  I use the little cans of tomato sauce with basil, oregano, and garlic as my sauce.  Last night, I also used leftover turkey sausage crumbles, leftover garlic lemon chicken, leftover sauteed mushrooms, olives and a few slices of pepperoni.  I always put my cheese on top of the toppings.  Not sure why-- that's the way Mom did it so that's how I do it.  One of those things.

7.  Slide the pizza back on the stone in the oven and continue to bake for another 7 to 10 minutes.  Its done when the cheese is bubbly and and crust is golden.   Scoop it up with the pizza peel and let it cool a minute before slicing.  You will need a GOOD pizza cutter for this crust.   It's super crispy.

  • I baked mine for only 5 minutes and wish I would have baked it for longer. That way, my cheese wouldn't have been so brown. Oh well. I know for next time!

I also have some new friends in the kitchen.  Want to see?

Lemon Thyme

Sweet Basil


Can't wait to start using the fresh herbs.  They add so much to ordinary dishes!  When it gets warm enough, I'll plant them outside.  For now, they seem to be perfectly happy in pots on the kitchen table.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

English Muffins

As promised, here is the recipe for the lovely English Muffins we made during the cooking class in Arkansas.  The flavor is not like those sold in the store-- its much better.  Because these English Muffins are made in one day rather than by the multiple day starter method, they don't have a lot of nooks and crannies. 

English Muffins

1 cup milk
2 Tbsp sugar
1 (0.25 oz.) package active Dry Yeast (I use 1-1/2 tsp)
1 cup warm water (110°F)
1/4 cup melted shortening
6 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt

1.  Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it just begins to bubble, then remove from heat.  Mix in the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Let cool until lukewarm.  Meanwhile, dissolve yeast in the warm water in a small bowl.  Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the milk, yeast, shortening, and 3 cups of flour.  Beat until smooth.  Add the salt and the rest of the flour.  The dough should be soft.  Knead about 8 minutes or so.  (I did all of this in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook).  Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl.  Cover and let rise until doubled (about an hour or so).

3.  Gently deflate the dough.  Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick on a clean counter top.  Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter (an empty drinking glass or CLEAN empty tuna can will do in a pinch).  Sprinkle a large piece of waxed paper with cornmeal and set the rounds of dough on it to rise.  Dust the tops of the muffins with cornmeal as well.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise another 30 minutes.

4.  Heat a large griddle over medium heat.  Grease well (I used canola oil).  Cook muffins on the griddle for about 10 minutes per side over medium heat.

5.  Keep baked muffins in a warm oven (150°F to 200°F) until all have been cooked.  Allow to cool completely, and store in plastic bags.  Split and toast or use in your favorite English Muffin Recipe. 

--A Breakfast Souffle recipe will follow shortly as one use for the English Muffins from this recipe.

Josie and Heather proudly showcasing their beautiful English Muffins.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Garlic Lemon Chicken with Sauteed Mushrooms

After working a 12 hour shift yesterday, I needed something easy.  SUPER EASY!  I got this recipe from a McCormick advertisement in a magazine I was reading over the weekend.  Looked easy-- very easy.  And I jazzed it up a bit with some mushrooms.  Don't you just love mushrooms?  I do.  

Garlic Lemon Chicken with Sauteed Mushrooms

1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. chicken breasts, trimmed and sliced in half horizontally to create two thin cutlets
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp of your favorite salt-free seasoning**(I used a Garlic Lemon blend I had on hand)
1/2 tsp salt (if using salt-free seasoning)**
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp lemon juice

1.  Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender and lightly browned- about 7 minutes.  Remove from pan and keep warm.

2.  Place flour and seasoning in a bowl and mix well.  Reserve 1 Tbsp of the mixture for later.  Place half of the flour mixture with half of the chicken cutlets in a large ziptop bag and shake until the meat is evenly coated. 

3.  Pour 1 Tbsp of oil into the pan and swirl around to coat the bottom.  Add the chicken cutlets in a single layer and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side.  They should be golden.  Remove from the pan and keep warm.  Repeat with the remaining chicken- coat with flour and cook in oil.

4.  Mix the reserved 1 Tbsp of flour and seasoning blend with the broth and lemon juice.  Pour into the saute ban and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  It should become slightly thickened.

5.  To serve, place a couple of cutlets on the plate, top with mushrooms, and spoon some sauce over the top.  Yum!

Chicken Piccata variation:
Add 1 to 2 tbsp of dry white wine to broth and lemon juice.  Once thickened, add 1 tbsp chopped capers and a few crushed olives (green or katamala would work well).  Spoon over chicken breasts and top with chopped fresh tomatoes, parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan. 

**If you do not have salt free seasoning on hand, then use half the amount of seasoning.  The chicken broth has a lot of salt in it.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guest Blog on Weekly Bite!

Wow!  One of my favorite blogs is  I just love it.  The photos are always scrumptious and the recipes look delish.  When the blog owner Estella asked for guest bloggers while she took a break house hunting, I jumped at the chance.  Go to weekly bite to check out my recipe for Pesto Rolls ( You won't be sorry!  They are absolutely wonderful.

When I made them, I made one pan of Pesto Rolls and one pan of Cinnamon Rolls.  Happy cooking!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pesto Tomato Soup

I am enjoying lunch today.  This weekend was a bit hectic.  I was supposed to get home close to midnight on Friday.  After everything was over in Pittsburgh, we rushed to the airport.  Upon arrival, we found that our flight to Chicago had been cancelled and we didn't get to come home until the next day.  I was one of the lucky three that got to leave early Saturday morning to arrive home that afternoon.  The rest of our party didn't get to arrive home until late Saturday evening.  We made the best of it!  What else can you do?

The first leg of our early Saturday morning flight took us on a 5-1/2 hour trip to San Fransisco.  While in San Fran, we enjoyed lunch and I picked up a loaf of Sourdough from Boulin.  Yummy.  What goes perfectly with Sourdough bread?  Pesto Tomato Soup!  I enjoyed a huge bowl last night and am currently slurping down another warm steamy helping.  There's enough for dinner tonight after Zumba, too.  Perhaps with a Grilled Sourdough and Cheese sandwich.

Here's the recipe for the soup.  Hope you like it as much as I do!

Pesto Tomato Soup

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbsp butter
1 (14.5 oz. can) no salt added diced tomatoes
1 (14 oz. can) low sodium chicken broth
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce with basil, oregano and garlic
salt and pepper to taste
half and half (optional)
Pesto (optional)

1.  Melt butter in the bottom of a saucepan.  Add onions and cook on medium low heat until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.

2.  Add diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

3.  Remove from heat and blend with a hand blender until (mostly) smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

The soup will be pretty creamy already, but sometimes I like to stir in a few Tbsp of half and half (I use fat free) to add some silky texture.  I also like to up the flavor a bit by adding a spoonful or two of Pesto Sauce.  I like to make my own, but this time of year, fresh basil is hard to find.  I used the Classico sauce from work. :)

Classico Enchiladas Verdes

There was a recipe contest at work.  Lots of people entered wonderful recipes.  My recipe focused on something that would be quick and easy to put together but still had LOADS of flavor.  Thus, Classico Enchiladas Verdes was born.  The Classico Alfredo Sauce lends a creamy tang to the sauce.  I hope you enjoy it!


Enchiladas Verdes with Classico Alfredo Sauce


1 Rotisserie chicken, deboned and meat shredded (about 1 lb meat)

1 (14.5 oz) can canelli beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup sour cream

2 (4 oz.) cans chopped green chiles

1 jar (15 oz.)Classico Alfredo Sauce, divided

1 (28 oz.) can Green Chile Enchilada Sauce

2 cups shredded cheddar, divided

10 (6”) corn tortillas


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine chicken, beans, green chiles, sour cream, and half of the alfredo sauce. Mix well.

2.       In a separate bowl, combine the green chile sauce and the remaining alfredo sauce.  Blend well.

3.  In a greased 9”x13” pan, ladle ½ cup of the creamy green chile sauce and spread to distribute evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Rip 3 corn tortillas into strips and place over the sauce, trying to completely cover the pan with one layer of tortilla.  Spoon ½ of the chicken mixture over the tortillas and spread with the back of a spoon into an even layer.  Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese.  Drizzle with another ½ cup of creamy green chile sauce.  Repeat layers.

4.   For the final layer, Rip the remaining 4 corn tortillas into strips and arrange in a singe layer.  Pour the remaining creamy green chile sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese.
5.  Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is slightly crisped at the edges.
6.  Let cool 10 minutes, then slice and serve.  Garnishes may include sour cream, limes, cilantro, salsa, etc.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Taco Meat ala Chef Suzie

This is a recipe I learned from the Chef that taught our culinary classes in Arkansas.  Chef Suzie is great!  She's been just about everywhere and done just about everything.  You can't help but be instantly smitten when you meet her!

Here is Suzie's Recipe for taco meat.  She serves them in her bar at Nibbles Cafe in Fayetteville, AR.  If you're ever in the neighborhood, you should stop by.  The food can't be beat!

Beef Taco Meat ala Chef Suzie
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp minced onion
1/2 tsp cayenne (less if sensitive to spicy things, more if you dare)
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 Tbsp Beef Base (I use 'better than bouillon")
2 cups water
2-3 corn tortillas, shredded
2 lbs lean ground beef

1.  Brown ground beef in a large dutch oven.  Drain well.  Measure out seasonings (except beef base) and stir well to combine.

2.  Return beef to pot with seasonings, beef base and water.

3.  Stir in shredded corn tortillas and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until tortillas dissolve and mixture thickens, about 30 minutes.

4.  Serve in your favorite taco shell with your favorite taco toppings!