Archives for posts with tag: recipe

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


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.



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.


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 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


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.

I couldn’t avoid making Matzo Brei this year.  The editor of Bon Appetit had an article about it.  Then, the grocery stores started stocking matzo for Passover.  I couldn’t resist.  Matzo by itself is pretty bland; but, if you add a bit of egg, fry it in a bit of vegetable oil, and sprinkle some sugar on top, it is really good.  I used the recipe from Bon Appetit; because, I don’t have a written recipe.  My Bubbie didn’t believe in using measuring cups or spoons or writing recipes down.  The Bon Appetit recipe makes a pancake type of fried matzo.  My Bubbie and my Mom made more of a scrambled matzo; so, that is what I did.

I took 5 matzos, ripped them into 1/2 inch pieces, and soaked them in hot water for 30 seconds.  This was enough for 4 people. If you want to make more just add more matzos.  I then beat 5 eggs (you need one egg per sheet of matzo) in a large bowl and added a bit of salt.  I drained the matzo and added it to the egg and salt to form a chunky batter.

I heated 2 tablespoons of vegetables oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Then, added the matzo batter in a single layer.  The rest of the process is very similar to scrambling eggs.  Let the batter sit for a minute or so and then keep stirring until the egg is cooked.

Top with sugar, jam, maple syrup — whatever you like.  We always had sugar sprinkled on ours.  I guess I don’t use sugar very often; because, when my daughter ate her matzo she said, “Mama, this salt tastes really good.”


Matzo Brei

from Bon Appetit Magazine, April 2012

4 servings


5 matzos

5 eggs


2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

sugar, maple syrup, or jam for drizzling on top

1.  Break the matzo into 1/2 inch pieces and soak in hot water for 30 seconds.  Drain the matzo.

2.  Beat 5 eggs in a large bowl, season with a bit of salt.  Add drained matzo to the bowl; mix until combined and a wet batter forms.

3.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the matzo mixture in a single layer.  Let the matzo mixture set for a minute or so.  Then stir around the mixture until the egg looks cooked.  Sprinkle with sugar, jam, or syrup.  Serve.

It is raining, it is cold, and I keep reading about hot pots on two of my favorite Japanese food blogs — The Japanese Food Report and La Fuji Mama.  I tried to make a traditional Japanese Sukiyaki with beef and vegetables.  I didn’t really like it.  I think I overcooked the beef.  Then, I decided to work with food that is more in my comfort range — vegetables, noodles, and tofu.  I found various recipes on the internet and looked around my kitchen and came up with this recipe.  It turned out really delicious.  And, it is very versatile; so, think of this as a good recipe to use to just clean out your refrigerator.  It also is good to make if you are cooking with people that have strong opinions about what goes into their meals (i.e. people on special diets, kids, etc.); because, you could make a couple of small pots of  this soup and let everyone put what they like in their pot.

I started by chopping and slicing all the vegetables I had in my refrigerator.  I think it is important to have some mushrooms (here I used fresh shiitakes) and some onion.  The other vegetables are optional and can vary based on what you have and what you like.

I also drained and cubed some firm tofu.  Soft tofu would also be good.  You can add any other protein you like. If you are using leftover meat that has already been cooked — add it at the end to just heat it up.  If you are using uncooked meat, add it at the beginning with the mushrooms and onions.

Boil four cups of water with four tablespoons of light soy sauce, two tablespoons of mirin, mushrooms, and onions.  Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.  For extra umami, you can add a piece of kombu (dried seaweed).  The kombu is optional; but, if you can find some (Whole Foods, Japanese market, etc.) it adds a nice texture to the soup.

Add your the rest of your vegetables.  I also added some dried rice noodles.  Let it simmer until the noodles and vegetables are cooked.  Season with salt to taste.  Simmer for another minute and remove from the heat.


I sprinkled a bit of shichimi togarashi on my soup.  Shichimi togarashi is Japanese seven flavor chili pepper.  It typically contains:  red chili pepper, black and white sesame seeds, orange peel, ginger, Sichuan pepper, and nori.  It really adds a lot of flavor to this soup.

I liked this soup so much that I made it again the next night.  I was out of fresh shiitake mushrooms; so, I used dried shiitakes.  I added a piece of kombu, udon noodles, and roasted chicken.  I soaked the kombu and dried shiitakes in warm water for about 20 minutes in the pot before starting the soup.  I kept the soaking water in the pot and took out the shiitakes to stem and slice them.  I returned the mushrooms to the pot with some onions (and the kombu that was left in the pot).  I simmered this for 5 minutes.  Then, I added my remaining vegetables, the pre-cooked udon noodles, and the roasted chicken.

A bit of shichimi togarashi sprinkled on top.  Delicious.  I am looking forward to further experiments using this basic formula.  This soup is quick, delicious, easy to make, and a good use of leftovers.


Vegetable Sukiyaki

Note:  Feel free to substitute other vegetables, noodles, and meat into this dish.  If you are using meat that has already been cooked, add it at the end with the noodles to just warm it up.  If you are using raw meat, add it at the beginning with the onions and mushrooms.  Roasted chicken worked well in this dish.

Ingredients for 2 servings (you can double this recipe)

1 cup fresh or dried shiitakes (soaked in warm water for 20 minutes), sliced

1/2 cup of chopped kale (or bok choy or chard or nappa cabbage)

1/2 cup of sliced red pepper

1/2 cup of tofu (cubed)

1 small onion, sliced

a handful of dried rice noodles or udon noodles (or whatever noodles you like)

4 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tablespoon of mirin

kosher salt

Shichimi togarashi (optional)

1 piece of kombu, rinsed, dried with a towel, and soaked in warm water for 20 minutes (optional)

Boil 4 cups of water with the soy sauce, mirin, mushrooms, onion, and kombu (if using).  Let it simmer for 5 minutes.  Add red pepper, kale, tofu, and noodles.  Let simmer again until the noodles are soft.  Season with some salt.  Cook for another minute.  Remove from heat.  Remove kombu.  Season with shichimi togarashi.

In my CSA box from last week I got a ton of green beans.  The first thing I thought of was these slow cooked green beans that I had at a middle eastern restaurant.  I know the current trend is to cook vegetables only until they are crisp.  However, slow cooking the green beans gives them a nice texture and allows the cumin and paprika to give them a rich flavor.  This recipe is very easy and really delicious.

The first step in any green bean recipe is snapping off the ends of the green beans.  Then, thinly slice a medium-sized onion and finely chop 4 cloves of garlic.  Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in  a large sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Add 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about one minute.

After the cumin seeds are fragrant, add the garlic and onion and some salt and pepper.  Cook until the onions are soft and light brown, about 12 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and 1 tablespoon of paprika.  I used the sweet paprika but I think any type of paprika would be fine.  Let the tomato paste cook a bit; then, add 1 1/2 pounds of green beans, 1 28 ounce jar can of whole tomatoes with their juice, and 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed).

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook (half covered) until very tender about 1 hour.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.  You could let this simmer at low heat for longer then an hour.

Serve over steamed rice with a slice of lemon.  If you happen to have preserved lemons, a couple slivers of preserved lemon would be nice.  This is a dish that is so rich and satisfying that you don’t even notice that you aren’t eating meat.  I also like slow cooking because you can clean everything up while the stew is cooking and then you only have one pot (well, two if you cook rice) to clean up after dinner.  Also, while this is cooking, your kitchen will smell amazing.

Slow Cooked Green Beans with Cumin & Paprika

from Saveur


1/4 cup of olive oil

2 teaspoons of cumin seeds

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon of paprika

1 1/2 pounds of green beans, strings removed

1 28 ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes

1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 lemons cut into slices for squeezing over stew at the end

1.  Heat the oil in a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat; add cumin seeds and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2.  Add the garlic and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly browned, about 12 minutes.

3.  Add the tomato paste and paprika, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste is lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes.  Add the green beans, tomatoes, chickpeas, and 3 cups of water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 1 hour.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.  Serve on steamed rice and a slice of lemon.

I took a cooking class when I was in elementary school and the only recipe I remember from that class was the apple crisp.  It was so good!  Apple crisp is really the lazy person’s pie.  I am all for being lazy in this case; because, making a pie crust is extra work and adds a lot of extra fat and calories that aren’t really necessary to make this a delicious dessert.  In addition, taking the pie crust out of the recipe makes it very easy for kids to make the whole recipe by themselves (with their own little hands) with just a bit of adult supervision.

I got this recipe from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  I like this recipe because it works for many different kinds of fruit.  The book includes modifications to the recipe for stone fruit and berries.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Then, add 6 tablespoons of butter (cut into cubes), 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 2/3 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of rolled oats, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl to make the topping.  My daughter mixed the ingredients with a metal pastry blender.  You can also use two knives to break up the butter; or, put the topping in a food processor.  You want the butter to be the size of a pea and incorporated into the other ingredients.

Then, you put your thinly sliced apples and pears in a bowl.  I kept the skin on; but, you can peel them.  Add a bit of lemon juice, grated lemon zest, sugar, cinnamon, and ground ginger to the fruit.

Put the fruit in your pie plate.  Or, if you have a toddler helping you, they can throw the ingredients in the pie plate (as long as most of the fruit ends up in the pie plate).

Crumble the topping evenly over the fruit.  Bake for about an hour and ten minutes.

I put the baked crisp into ramekins to make it look fancy.  You could add a bit of whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or frozen yogurt on top.

Then, feel free to attack it.

Apple Pear Crisp (or Lazy Person’s Pie)

Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Ingredients for Crisp Topping

6 tablespoons of butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks

3/4 cup of brown sugar

2/3 cup of flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of salt


2 1/2 pounds of fruit — apples or pears thinly sliced (you can peel them if you like)

Ingredients for coating the fruit

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons of sugar

a pinch of ground ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Use your fingers or a food processor to work the butter into the rest of the ingredients, so that each piece is coated and you have a coarse, crumbly mixture.  The butter should be the size of a pea.  Do not work the butter too long; because, you don’t want it to melt.

2.  Toss the apples and/or pears with the rest of the ingredients listed under “ingredients for coating the fruit.”  Put the fruit in a pie pan and top with crisp topping.  Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Serve in small ramekins topped with whipped cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.

It is a rare and beautiful thing when two of my favorite things — film & food — come together.  The other night I attended a screening of films by legendary documentary film maker Les Blank accompanied by smell-around.  The films were The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins (1969) and Always a Pleasure (1978).  The second film, Always a Pleasure, was about street celebrations in New Orleans and featured some great scenes which included red beans and rice.  To enhance the experience, the powers that be at the Red Vic and their honored guest, Les Blank, decided to waft the smell of red beans around the theater during the appropriate scenes and then serve them with rice after the film.  My friend, Betsy, enlisted me to help prepare the beans based on a recipe given to her from Les Blank.

Betsy created an inviting tablescape of beans, veggies and spices.

And,  procured the secret weapon — smoked ham hocks.  These are the food of the Gods.  I swear these beauties could make wet newspapers taste good.

We minced the garlic, onion, and celery in the food processor and chopped the green peppers.  Mr. Blank is well known for his film, Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers, and the man is not afraid of garlic.  This recipe calls for a head of garlic for a pound of beans.  We placed the pre-soaked beans in a pot with the ham hock and water and let it simmer for an hour.  After about 1 hour of simmering, we added the veggies and a tablespoon of cayenne pepper.  The beans softened after about 1 1/2 hours.  They simmered on the stove for most of the day to meld the flavors and allow the meat on the ham hock to slowly cook to perfection and fall off the bone. At the event, Les Blank explained that these beans were traditionally made on Monday while the women did the washing.  They were placed on the stove and left all day to cook.  Think of this dish as something that you start in the morning and leave to cook until dinner.  If you have a slow cooker, you can safely leave the beans cooking all day while you go about your business.  We multiplied the recipe by 5 to make it for the event.  You can easily increase the recipe based on how many people you are feeding.  This truly is the ultimate party food — you can easily make a ton of it and it tastes great with beer.

At the event, we heated the beans in some slow cookers.  In the second film, Always a Pleasure, there is a scene where a group of people prepare red beans and rice for Mardi Gras.  When the scene came on, we carried the beans through the theater in bowls and wafted the smell around using cardboard.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of this because I was carrying a bowl of beans with one hand and wafting the scent around with a piece of cardboard in my other hand.  The Edamamemonster is not a many-armed Hindu Goddess so I don’t have a photo but I can say it was a lot of fun and the smell was amazing.  I did manage to get this photo of Les Blank taking questions from the audience.

At the end, we served the beans over steamed basmati rice with a bit of sliced green onion.  Magnolia Brewpub, down the street from the theater, kindly donated a keg of their beer and it went perfectly with the beans and rice.  I’m so hooked on this recipe that as I am writing this I have some cooking in my slow cooker.

Red Beans & Rice

Adapted from Les Blank’s recipe


1 pound of dried red beans, soaked overnight

1 onion, minced

1 head of garlic, peeled and minced

1 stick of celery, minced

2 green bell peppers, chopped

1 – 1/2 pounds of smoked ham hock

1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper

A few pieces of green onion, chopped (for garnish)


Steamed rice for serving

1.  Add the pre-soaked beans, 7 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of salt, and the ham hock to a large pot.  Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.  Cook for about 1 hour.

2.  Add the vegetables and cayenne and allow to cook for many hours until the beans have absorbed most of the water and the meat has fallen off the bone.

3.  Serve over steamed rice.  Sprinkle some sliced green onion on top.

If you ever have 5 heads of garlic to peel — the Edamamemonster is your girl.  She has a strong little arm and enjoys pounding with a cup measure.

Onigiri (Japanese rice balls) are a great snack, appetizer, or lunch box treat.  Making these delicious little morsels is also a great way to practice making sushi rice.  I’ve heard many times that the key to good sushi rolls is getting the rice right.  I like to use Nishiki rice for my sushi.

Sushi rice is made from rice cooked in water and a bit of sake then mixed with a rice vinegar sauce. To make the rice, you wash the rice several times until the rinsing water comes out clear.  Then you soak the rice in your cooking water for about 30 minutes.  Then, you add a bit of sake to the rice and water and cook the rice.  While the rice is cooking, you can make the vinegar sauce.  You can buy seasoned rice wine vinegar for sushi rice or you can make your own. I make my own because that way I can adjust the seasoning.

To make the vinegar sauce, I put 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. I add 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.  You can adjust the sugar and salt to your taste.  I let the sugar and salt dissolve in the vinegar and then I take the saucepan off the stove. I set it aside to cool.  I let the rice cool and then carefully mix in the vinegar sauce.  Now, you are ready to make rice balls or onigiri.  I learned how to form the rice balls from my favorite Japanese food website  Take a ziploc bag, put about 4 tablespoons of water in it, and a pinch of salt.

Squeeze the rice into a corner of the ball and then roll it around in your hand to make a ball.

Then sprinkle on toasted sesame seeds, toasted seaweed, Japanese pickled plum (umeboshi), or you can buy a mix of toasted seaweed and toasted sesame seeds at a Japanese market.  You can also put things in the center — pickled plum or a salmon salad are often put in these balls.  Check out for other ideas.

Here are the onigiri I made. The first two have toasted seaweed and sesame seeds sprinkled on top and the other two have a bit of Japanese pickled plum on them.  Aren’t they cute? They are super tasty and a good way to practice making sushi rice. They are also a fun snack for kids. Children can form the rice balls and top them with what they like which always makes them happy and more likely to try new foods.

Sushi Rice

Time: 30 to 40 minutes

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt, plus 1 pinch

2 cups short-grain white rice

1 teaspoon sake, optional

1. Wash rice in several changes of water until water runs clear. Combine with sake, a pinch of salt, and 2 1/2 cups water (if you’re using a rice cooker) or 3 cups water (if you’re cooking it on stovetop). Cook until water is absorbed, 38 minutes in a rice cooker, about 25 minutes in a covered pot over medium-low heat.

2. While the rice is cooking, cook the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar and salt dissolve in the vinegar.  Take off burner and let cool.

3. Turn rice into a large bowl, preferably wooden, and let cool for 15 minutes.

4. Using a rubber spatula, a wooden paddle or spoon, gently fold sweetened vinegar into rice, a little at a time. Rice should be glistening and moist but not wet, and sweet but not overly so.

Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)

1 recipe of sushi rice



Ziploc sandwich bag

Toppings — toasted seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, pickled plum, smoked salmon

Put 3-4 tablespoons of water and a generous pinch of salt into a ziploc sandwich bag.  Add a small handful of sushi rice.  Squeeze the rice into a corner of the bag and roll in your hand to form a ball.  Sprinkle with toppings of your choice.  Some good toppings are toasted seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, toasted seaweed/toasted sesame seed, Japanese pickled plum (umeboshi).