Archives for category: Cooking

Almost any homemade pizza dough recipe article will say that their pizza dough recipe is easier than ordering pizza delivery. Few things in this world are easier than calling and ordering a pizza — I am not going to lie. However, this pizza dough recipe I got from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook is very easy and fun for kids.

You need 5 ingredients:
2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of water
Olive oil for greasing the pan
Toppings of choice

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1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly add water to the dry ingredients and mix with a big spoon until incorporated with the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix and don’t knead the dough. You just need to form a ragged mass shaped like a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for at least three hours or up to 12 hours.

2. When you are ready, heat the oven to 500 degrees. Oil a rimmed baking pan or iron skillet. Stretch or roll out the dough and press it in the pan or skillet and add toppings. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven.

I got this recipe from Food 52. Their recipe melted extra chocolate and almonds as a topping but I didn’t think that was necessary.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 natural unsweetened almond butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups. rice cereal

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Line an 8X8 square pan or pie plate with wax paper. In a large saucepan, bring the maple and rice syrup to a boil for 1 minute — stir frequently. Remove from heat and add the other ingredients (except the cereal). Fold the rice cereal in at the end. Press into pan and let set for 2 hours or set in the refrigerator for 1hour.

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This is a super easy way to make pizza at home. Heat the oven to 475 degrees. Oil an iron skillet. Press your favorite pizza dough into the skillet (I like Trader Joe’s dough). Add your toppings and cheese. Place in the bottom shelf of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Let the pizza cool for 5 minutes and then serve.

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Homemade Mac and Cheese is a bit time-consuming; so, you have to plan ahead. But, it is really easy to make and really delicious.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a casserole dish or other large baking vessel with butter.

2. Grate 2 1/2 to 3 cups or so of your favorite cheese (the more cheese the cheesier your mac and cheese will be) — cheddar, jack, mozzarella are all good choices. Feel free to use a combination of cheeses.

3. Fill a pot with water and some salt. Boil water. Add about a pound of your favorite pasta. Cook according to instructions on the pasta box. Drain pasta and set aside.

4. While to pasta cooks, add 2 tablespoons of butter to a medium-sized saucepan. When it melts, add 2 tablespoons of flour. Cook the flour on medium-low heat for a few minutes. Add 2 cups of non fat or whole milk. Simmer for 15 minutes. Take off heat and add 2/3 of the grated cheese.

5. Combine cheese sauce and pasta in the a large bowl or the pot you used to boil the pasta. Add half the mixture to you baking dish. Sprinkle some grated cheese on it. Add the rest of the pasta and cheese mixture. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

I love Pad Thai.  I think I have cut out a million recipes for Pad Thai from various magazines over the years.  One day I was at the market and saw some rice noodles and I really wanted to buy them; but, I wasn’t sure what I would make with them.  Then, I noticed recipes on the back of two different boxes one for Pad Thai and and another for a stir fried rice noodle dish.  I thought I could follow the Pad Thai recipe on one box and add the homemade sauce on the other box.  Last night, I was dying for some Pad Thai.  I got the two boxes out, mixed the recipes, added the ingredients I had on hand, and presto — lazy person’s Pad Thai was born.  I call this a lazy person’s recipe because it is really easy to make and it includes ingredients you probably have at home already.

The first step is to soak 1/2 pound of rice noodles. I used a fairly thick rice noodle.  The box for the noodles said to soak the noodles for 20 minutes in hot tap water.  That didn’t seem to work; so, I added boiling water and let the noodles soak for 30-40 minutes.  They were still stiff when I took them out of the water; but, they loosened up a lot when I stir fried them with the veggies at the end.

Next, make your sauce.  The sauce is made of three ingredients:  fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar.  This is why I think of this as a lazy recipe.  Many Pad Thai recipes include tamarind paste and other ingredients that I know I will use once and then forget until they go bad and I have to throw them out.  If you like Thai food; then, fish sauce is a good thing to have on hand.  It adds a nice saltiness that is a bit like that secret briny salty flavor you get from melting anchovies into a sauce.  It is inexpensive, it doesn’t go bad, and it is a good flavor enhancer.

Then, stir fry your veggies in a bit of oil.  If you are using broccoli, snap peas, carrots or other long cooking vegetables then stir fry for a few minutes then add a 1/4 cup of water and allow the veggies to steam until they are tender.  If you are using baby spinach or other quick cooking vegetables you can add them at the very end of the recipe.  After your long-cooking veggies are almost done, add cubes of firm or extra firm tofu.

Add one to two slightly whisked eggs.  Allow the egg to firm up and then scramble it with a spatula.

Add your softened rice noodles. Stir fry the noodles until they soften.  Then add the sauce and stir fry for another minute.  Add fresh chopped cilantro, chopped roasted peanuts, slices of lime.

Enjoy!  This isn’t the most authentic or most complex-tasting Pad Thai; but, it is easy and versatile.  You can add other vegetables.  You could take out the tofu.  You could add fresh mint, bean sprouts, chopped scallions or try other nuts.  Have fun!

Lazy Person’s Pad Thai

Adapted from Thai Kitchen & Taste of Thai recipes

Ingredients

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

a couple of handfuls of broccoli florets

a couple of handfuls of snap peas, thinly sliced

4 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and dried and cubed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 pound of thick rice noodles

1/4 cup of chopped cilantro

1/4 cup of roasted peanuts, chopped

2 limes, sliced into 8 wedges

1.  Soak rice noodles in boiling water from 30-40 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

2.  Make sauce — mix fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a small bowl.

3.  Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add broccoli and snap peas (or whatever firm vegetables you like — carrots, etc).  Stir fry for a minute or so.  Add 1/4 cup of water and let the vegetables steam in the water for a few minutes.  Add the tofu and stir fry it for a few minutes.  Add the eggs let them set for a minute or so.  Then, scramble the eggs with a spatula until they are fully cooked.  Add the noodles and stir fry them until they are just limp.  Add the sauce and mix it with the other ingredients for almost a minute.  Add cilantro and peanuts (and quick cooking greens like baby spinach — if you like).  Serve each portion with two lime wedges.  Note:  You could also add bean sprouts and/or chopped scallions at the end as garnishes.

I don’t really like fish; but, I love noodles and veggies. My husband brought home some Ahi tuna the other night. So, I made up a dish that made us both happy. I had just bought some dried soba noodles, carrots, and avocado. I was thinking maybe something Japanese. I consulted my favorite Japanese cookbook Everyday Harumi:  Simple Japanese Food for Family & Friends by Harumi Kurihara and came up with this dish.

It looks complicated; but, it is really easy.  The first thing I did was make the banno sauce.  To make the banno sauce:  In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of mirin to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook for a further 2-3 minutes over low heat to burn off the alcohol.  Remove from the heat and add 1 1/2 cups of soy sauce and one 4-inch piece of kombu seaweed.  Cool and refrigerate.

Then, I turned my attention to the Ahi tuna.  I heated up my gas grill to 500 degrees.

I brushed grape seed oil on both sides of the fish.  You can also use vegetable oil.  Then, I rubbed a lot of kosher and black pepper on each side.  I grilled the fish on direct heat for 2 minutes on each side.  You want to watch the fish; because, you want to make sure it stays nice and pink in the middle.  I let the fish sit for a bit after I cooked it.  Then, I sliced it thinly against the grain.

Then, I boiled the soba noodles according to the instruction on the packet.  That took about 8 minutes.  I tossed the noodles in grape seed oil to make sure they didn’t stick together.  I thinly sliced the carrots and sliced the avocado.

I placed everything neatly on the plate and we had a great meal.  Feel free to substitute other vegetable or even use baked/grilled tofu instead of the fish.  I think cucumber would be really good in this dish.

Banno Soy Sauce

from Everyday Harumi by Harumi Kurihara

Ingredients

1/2 cup mirin

1 1/4 cups soy sauce

4 inch piece kombu seaweed (dried kelp), wiped of any salty deposits

In a small saucepan, bring the miring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook for a further 2-3 minutes over low heat to burn off the alcohol.  Remove from the heat and add the soy sauce and kombu.  Cool and refrigerate

Grilled Ahi Tuna

Ingredients

2 large Ahi Tuna steaks

grape seed oil or vegetable oil

kosher salt

black pepper

Heat the grill to 500 degrees.  Brush the steaks with oil and both sides.  Rub a generous amount of salt and pepper on both sides.  Place the steaks on direct heat and grill for 2 minutes on each side.  Let fish rest for 10 minutes then thinly slice against the grain.

Many years ago, my husband and I were in Cleveland in the summer.  We went to this coffee shop called Arabica, near the Case Western Campus, that had the best iced coffee.  We told the barista that we loved the coffee and she said that they cold brewed the coffee using the Toddy method.  As soon as we returned to Michigan, we began to investigate the Toddy method.  It turns out that it is really easy and the Toddy maker is very inexpensive ($40).

The Toddy brewing container is designed to hold one pound of coffee and nine cups of water.  To make the Toddy, you add a stopper and filter into the bottom of the white plastic container.  Then, add two cups of water.  Then, add 1/2 pound of coffee.  Then, slowly pour five cups of water over the roughly ground coffee beans.  Add the water in a circular motion.  Then add the rest of the ground coffee.  Finally, wait five minutes then slowly add two more cups of water (in a circular motion).  Do not stir.  You can lightly tap the grounds with the back of a spoon.  It will seem like the water and coffee is going to spill out.  Don’t worry — it won’t.  Cover the top with plastic wrap and let it sit on your counter for 12 hours.

After 12 hours, take the stopper out of the white plastic top part and let the coffee flow into the glass jar.  The Toddy is very concentrated — go easy with this stuff.  I use about 1/3 ice, 1/3 Toddy, and 1/3 water then a splash of soy milk.  You can play around with these ratios; but, please water the Toddy down — it is very potent.

If you don’t feel like buying the Toddy maker — you can make iced coffee by soaking the beans and water in a huge plastic container and then straining it through cheesecloth.  The Pioneer Woman explains how to do this on her website at http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/06/perfect-iced-coffee/.  I haven’t tried her method.  However, The Pioneer Woman is one of my idols and I trust she can make a good iced coffee.

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

(Toddy System Method)

Ingredients

1 pound coarsely ground coffee

9 cups of water

Equipment

Toddy system

1.  Assemble Toddy System.  You just follow the directions that come with the system.  To start, put plug and filter in the bottom of the white plastic top.  Put top white plastic part on top of the glass jar.

2.  Fill and Brew.  Add 2 cups of water into the brewing container (the top white plastic part).  Then, add 1/2 pound of ground coffee.  Slowly pour 5 cups of water over the grounds in a circular motion.  Add the remaining 1/2 pound of coffee.  Finally, wait five minutes and then slowly add 2 cups of water in a circular motion.  Do not stir.  Lightly tap the topmost grounds with the back of a spoon.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 12 hours.

3.  Serve.  Release the stopper from the brewing container and all the coffee to flow into the glass jar.  This coffee is very concentrated — go easy.  I add 1/3 cup of coffee, 1/3 cup of ice, and 1/3 cup of water to my drink along with a splash of soy (or milk).  If you like more milk/soy you can use less water or ice.

4.  Store.  Put the top on the glass jar and put in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

I love the Pioneer Woman!  If you have not seen her blog, food network tv show, or cookbooks, I highly recommend that you check them out.  I like her recipes because they are good, easy, and she shows you step-by-step how to prepare the food.  On her blog she posted this recipe that she called, “Tortilla rollups.”  To me, they look like sushi if it were turned into a sandwich.  These are super easy to make, healthy, and really cute.  I am always looking for a quick lunch or snack recipe; and, this works well for both.  These take about 10 minutes to make and can be modified based on what you have in your fridge — as long as you have tortillas and cream cheese (or some other sticky spread like peanut butter, hummus, goat cheese, etc.).

So, first cut your veggies into matchsticks.  I used carrots, cucumbers, and turkey the first time I made these rolls.  I used carrot, cucumber, turkey, and avocado the second time.  Avocado was really good and held the roll together.

Spread cream cheese (or hummus, or peanut butter, etc.) on a large tortilla.

Place veggies, turkey, or whatever you have on the side of the tortilla.  The Pioneer Woman placed her filling in the center of the tortilla.  I tried that method and it worked as well.  The idea is to get a lot of filling into the tortilla (without breaking the tortilla) so that it is nice and round when you slice it into rolls.

Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can — like when you roll up your sleeping bag to try to get it back into that tiny sack it came  in — that tight.  At this point, The Pioneer Woman put it in the refrigerator for one hour.  I don’t usually have one hour to wait; so, I tried refrigerating it for 30 minutes — that worked well.  I also made one roll that I didn’t refrigerate at all — that worked as well.  But, if you have time, stick it in the fridge for a little while.  The roll is firmer and sticks together better if it has been refrigerated.

Slice into pieces.

Enjoy!  Feel free to improvise based on what you have in your fridge.  Let me know if you come up with some good combinations.

Sandwich Sushi

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

Soft cream cheese

Large flour tortillas (1 tortilla makes 6 rolls)

Turkey, shredded or thinly sliced length-wise

1 carrot (per roll), peeled and cut into matchsticks

1 cucumber (per roll), seeds scraped out and cut into matchsticks

1 avocado (per roll), sliced

Spread cream cheese on to a tortilla.  Add veggies and meat to the side or the middle.  Roll tightly and wrap in plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes – 1 hour.  Slice into 6 pieces.

My son isn’t a very good eater.  I read this article in the New York Times about this woman who lets her sons pick a dish to cook once a week.  I thought that might be a good way to get him to eat more.  I was reading Food 52 digest and I came across a recipe for baked pasta with cheese and tomatoes.  I modified the recipe to make it more pleasing to a young palate  — I took out the gorgonzola and added more mozzarella cheese so it would be gooier.  I discussed the recipe with my young chef and he approved.

The other thing I liked about this recipe is that children can make most of this dish with a bit of adult help. First, we boiled 1/2 pound of penne — any other short noodles would work. I drained the pasta. Meanwhile, the Junior Chef mixed a cup of cream, 1 cup of chopped canned tomatoes, 1/2 bag of Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio mix which equals 6 ounces of a mix of shredded parmesan, asiago, fontina, and provolone), 1/4 pound of thinly sliced mozzarella cheese, and a pinch of salt.  We poured the mixture into a small baking pan and let it cook at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Junior Chef dotted the top with some butter and a bit more sliced mozzarella.

I took it out of the oven after the cheese looked bubbly and light brown.

The Chef was very pleased with his work.

I really enjoyed cooking with my son.  It was nice for him to have something to do while I was making dinner.  And, he was very proud that he could make dinner.  I may make this a weekly event.  Maybe next week, I can convince him to put some more vegetables into the lasagna — maybe some spinach or broccoli.  We’ll see.

Crazy Mixed-Up Lasagna

Adapted from Food 52 — Al Forno’s Penne with Tomato,Cream & Five Cheeses

Serves 4 (can easily be doubled)

Ingredients

1 cup of heavy cream

1 cup of chopped canned tomatoes in heavy puree

6 ounces of a mixture of shredded asiago, fontina, provolone (like Quattro Formaggio from Trader Joe’s)

2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese

1/4 pound thinly sliced mozzarella cheese

a pinch of kosher salt

1/2 pound penne

2 tablespoons of butter, sliced thinly

1.  Heat oven to 500 degrees.

2.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3.  In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the pasta and butter.  Reserve a few slices of mozzarella.  Stir well to combine.

4.  Cook the pasta according to instructions on the box.  Drain the pasta and add it to the mixing bowl, toss to combine.

5.  Place mixture in a small baking dish.  Dot with butter and the reserved mozzarella, and bake until brown and bubbly on top, 10-12 minutes.  Keep on an eye on this while it is baking; because, baking times may vary.

This week the Edamamemonster visited a local preschool to do some cooking with a classroom of 2-3 year olds.  I tried to find a good recipe; but, it is hard to find a recipe that children this young can do by themselves.  So, I invented fruit pizza.  The idea is to spread some low-fat cream cheese on a tortilla, add some finely chopped fruit, and sprinkle with shredded coconut and/or sesame seeds.  Then, a grown up helper can cut the pizza into slices.

I used low-fat cream cheese (you could also use strawberry cream cheese or other flavors to add flavor and color).  I finely chopped strawberries, grapes, and watermelon.  I also put out blueberries.  The kids had a lot of fun!  They were really proud that they could make a pizza all by themselves.

The fruit pizza can easily become a fruit burrito by rolling it up.  This is a fun and safe activity for preschoolers.  I think older kids would also have fun making this healthy snack.

Fruit Pizza

Ingredients

Finely chopped fruit

Shredded coconut

Sesame seeds

Tortillas

Cream Cheese

Materials

Paper plates

Plastic knives

Saran wrap

Masking tape or stickers (to write names on)

Permanent Marker

Knife

1.  Put the cream cheese containers on a table with a plastic knife in each container.  Put the fruit into bowls and put them on the table.  Put the shredded coconut into bowls.  Put spoons in all the bowls so that the children can take the fruit, coconut, etc out and put it on their pizza.  Put a paper plate on the table for each children.  Place a tortilla on each paper plate.

2.  Let the children put the cream cheese on their tortillas and put fruit, coconut, and sesame seeds on their “pizza.”    Take a knife and cut the pizza into slices.  Put the child’s name on a sticker or masking tape on his/her plate.  Cover with Saran Wrap.