Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Recipe Review: Simple Dollar's Homemade Pizza

When I found Trent's Guide to Making Inexpensive and Delicious Pizza at the Simple Dollar, I had to give it a try. Trent has two young children, and since this is a recipe he makes frequently, I figured that it must really be inexpensive and delicious (as well as hopefully relatively painless).

I am pleased to report that the guide is fantastic, and his recipe is customizable, inexpensive, delicious and easy-to-follow. So far I've made this pizza twice. Each time I've added a number of herbs such as basil, oregano and rosemary to the dough.

Overall, I thought the recipe was terrific. If you are going to use vegetables with a high water content, such as bell peppers, or frozen vegetables, its best to warm them up first in the microwave so you can drain off the water before putting them on the pizza. Also, while Trent recommended pre-baking the crust for about 6 minutes, if you prefer a crisper crust or you oven is difficult to predict, you may wish to pre-bake it a little longer.

As you can tell from the photos, its not imperative that you get the dough rolled out perfectly symmetrically. Once you're done its fairly easy to cut into "normal" looking pieces. Enjoy!

Veggie Side: Asparagus and Brussels Sprouts

This week I decided to make brussels sprouts for the first time, since I'd never tried them and I generally like related vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. To be safe, I figured that I would mix them with a vegetable I love, asparagus.

First, I halved the sprouts and parboiled them for about 2 minutes. Then, I placed them on a baking sheet and drizzled them with olive oil, salt and pepper. I then roasted them in the toaster oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

While the sprouts were roasting, I washed and chopped the asparagus. I spritzed with olive oil and left to grill on our stove-top grill pan. While the asparagus was grilling, I also chopped a few cloves of garlic, which I quickly sauteed in olive oil.

When all the veggies and garlic were done cooking, I combined in a bowl with some additional salt and pepper. I added 1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts for protein, crunch and flavor, although you could omit these or substitute another kind of nut if you prefer.

Although the results were definitely edible, I did prefer the asparagus pieces to the brussels sprouts pieces. If you're in the mood to turn this into a main dish instead of a side, add some whole wheat pasta and fresh chopped basil for a veggie-pesto-pasta dish.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Low Fat Crustless Vegetarian Skillet Quiche

  • Whatever veggies you have on hand (I used broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and red, yellow and green bell peppers).
  • 6 eggs
  • Cheese if desired (I added a few pieces of pepper jack).

Dice veggies and add to lightly greased skillet, saute. Turn on broiler. In a separate container, whip the eggs together (can add milk, cream, chives, salt and/or pepper if desired). Pour eggs over vegetables in skillet. Once the bottom of the eggs has set, add cheese if desired and place under broiler for a few minutes until eggs are cooked to desired consistency. Enjoy!

Recipe pros: Quick, uses up veggies, low-fat/low carb.
Recipe cons: Not as fun as other skillet recipes. Would have been better with some potatoes or a crust!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ardelle's Sweet and Sour Greenbeans

As a vegetarian, I've shied away from a number of my German grandmother's favorite foods and recipes. One tried-and-true recipe that I've always adored, however, is her sweet and sour greenbeans. These are a snap to make, and keep well in the fridge.

-3/4 cup of white vinegar
-3/4 cup of water
-3/4 cup of sugar
-1 can of french cut greenbeans*, drained
-chopped onions, if desired

*Note: Fresh peeled and sliced cucumbers can be substituted for the greenbeans.

Combine vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan. Heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Combine with greenbeans (or cucumbers) and onions if desired. Refrigerate, serve chilled. This lasts a long time in the refrigerator and is better if made a day or two ahead of serving.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Recipe Review: Homemade Girl Scout Cookies: Samoas Bars

Recently, Baking Bites, a fantastic baking blog, has posted a series of recipes for making your own Girl Scout cookies. When I saw a recipe for Samoas bars, I had to give it a whirl. (If you prefer more authentic looking Samoas, there are instructions for that too.)

The recipe was fairly straightforward, and aside from the coconut and caramels did not require anything I wouldn't otherwise have on hand. Unwrapping each individually-wrapped caramel took a long time, and next time I would consider making my own caramel sauce. Toasting the coconut was a snap, and I was able to do it at the same time that the shortbread cookie base was baking.

I liked that the recipe had a number of helpful reminders/tips throughout (stop and stir the chocolate frequently when melting, use parchment paper and a wire cooling rack, a ziplock with a hole in a corner can be used as a pipette, etc.) I think it would have gone more smoothly had I followed the directions more closely and waited for each stage to cool completely, but I was impatient and rushed and the cookies turned out mostly OK (a little crumbly, and not as pretty as the Baking Bites ones, but still delicious.)

I definitely recommend this recipe for Samoas fans and will be making it again. If you've never had a Samoa, but love toasted coconut, caramel, and/or shortbread, I'd give it a whirl.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Make Your Own Caramel Sauce

If you're a caramel lover, few things are as gratifying as making your own caramel sauce. I like to make mine using part of a recipe for Grandma Ople's Apple Pie.

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add sugars and water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

While this sauce is fantastic on apple pie, as in the original recipe, it would also be amazing served warm over ice cream or as a dip for fresh cut fruit.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mulled Wine

Mulled wine can be a quick and easy treat on a winter evening. Since last Friday was the final Friday of winter, I decided to make some to enjoy.

  • 1 750 ml bottle red wine (inexpensive wine is OK)
  • one orange
  • mulling spices (I used Penzey's mulling spices mix, but you can use a combination of cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice, cardamom, mace and/or nutmeg.)
Directions: Pour wine into large pot. Squeeze juice of one orange into pot. Add mulling spices (Penzey's: 1 tbs per bottle) to taste. Simmer on low for 25 minutes. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Vegan Pho

Having never made pho before, I started by reviewing the recipes here and here.

Based on what we had on hand, this is the recipe I followed:

1/4 white onion
8 cloves garlic
dash of dried shallots
dash of ginger
dash of cinnamon
2 pods star anise
5 cloves
8 cups vegetable stock
3 tbs soy sauce

1 pkg extra firm tofu, fried
1 pkg rice noodles (I used mung bean noodles)

crushed peanuts
lime wedges
chili paste

Heat large pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, garlic, and spices and dry roast, stirring occasionally until vegetables begin to char. Add stock and soy sauce and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. Strain solids out with slotted spoon and discard.

While broth is simmering, fry tofu and set aside. Prepare rice noodles according to directions.

When soup is ready, divide tofu and noodles among the bowls. Ladle hot broth into the bowls. Serve with platter of toppings (spices, lime wedges, etc.). Enjoy!