Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mmmmmmmm....Whole Foods

This pizza was part of our efforts to eat whole foods and no chemicals. I know, we really sacrifice a lot, don't we?

The crust is homemade and whole wheat. This was part of my goal to take on yeast. I was incredibly nervous about it, and fretted that I had 'killed' the yeast and was overwhelmed with flashbacks of the unleavened bread disaster from this summer. I checked on it so much that it took a little longer to rise, but rise it did. The great thing about the recipe (which I will include below) is that it makes two crust. I made one pizza on Sunday and then saved the rest of the dough to use last night. 

In a perfect world, I would have made my own marinara sauce but this was a weeknight. I chose Amy's Marinara Sauce for two reasons. 1: All the ingredients were actual foods, no chemicals. 2- Sugar was not an ingredient. This is tricky because many marinara sauces add sugar. So even though this had more fat than Newman's Own Marinara (a favorite of ours), it had half the sugar.

You would think that it would be easy to find mozzarella cheese sans chemicals, but alas. All those packages of shredded cheese have chemicals to keep it looking fresh and to prevent it from clumping. This was a disappointment I have to admit. Shredded cheese would have made this an even easier dish, but to find cheese without any added chemicals or preservatives, I had to get a block of fresh mozzarella.

Usually, I cook with reduced fat mozzarella but went with the full fat version for this pizza. In addition to a definite boost of flavor and creaminess, the full fat cheese melts so much better! As you can see from the picture, the cheese is literally oozing off the crust. When I have made pizza with reduced fat cheese, I have always used a full package which is a pound and sometime it still seems skimpy. So when we made this one, I did the same. While it was good to have all that cheese, it was too much. Next time I will just use a 1/2 pound. So even though I am using a full fat cheese, I have learned I don't have to use as much.

Now, the chicken sausages we used are a processed food, but I did buy the Target Organic brand. Like the marinara sauce, all of the ingredients listed were actual foods as opposed to chemicals. 

The recipe for the dough is from the Cooking Light Complete Cookbook.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

1 package of dry yeast
1/4 tsp of sugar
1 1/2 cup of warm water
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp of olive oil
1 1/2 tsp of salt
Cooking Spray
1-2 Tbsp of yellow cornmeal

1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water, let stand for 5 minutes. 
2. Add 2 1/2 cups of of all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, oil and salt to yeast mixture. Stir until well blended.
3. Turn dough onto floured surface. Kneed until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Add enough flour to keep dough from sticking to hands. It should still feel tacky.
4. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray and, turn the dough so the top is also coated.
5. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place (85 degrees) and no drafts. You will know it's properly risen when you can gently press your fingers into the dough and the indention remains.

SIDE NOTE: This is where I freaked out a bit. I had read about turning your oven on its lowest setting for ten minutes and then turning it off and putting the dough in. But then I worried that I didn't wait long enough between when I turned it off and put the dough in, so then I opened the oven door. Then I took it out. Then I got impatient and put it back in the oven. Then I opened the oven door. Then it got hot in the kitchen. Then I cheered because the dough was still rising. Then I shut the oven door. Then...well, you get the picture. It wasn't the most efficient process. I will keep you posted as I continue to learn how to raise the bread.

6. Punch the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes. 
7. Divide dough in half. (Here is where I stuck one half of the dough into a ziplock bag to be used later)
8. Roll out on a floured surface and place on a 12 inch pizza pan (greased unless you are using a pizza stone) and dust with cornmeal.
9. Proceed with pizza directions.

TIP: Before putting on toppings, bake crust for 5 minutes. The first time I did not do this and the center was a little soggy. When I pre-baked it, the crust was crispy throughout.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Quick Lunch

I really tried to be lazy. I tried twice to order Thai delivery but I was rejected both times. Then I began to think about the book I was reading last week, Real Food Has Curves, and how when it went comes down to it, it's a matter of people not wanting to put forth the effort to each healthier, whole foods rather than processed foods. And I realized I was a hypocrite. I had been telling people about this book and how cool I thought it was and how I was trying to cut out processed foods, yet here I was trying to avoid the kitchen and order delivery.

So I scavenged our cupboards and came up with a delicious and easy Thai inspired dish.

I cooked a chicken breast, steamed some frozen veggies and prepared some whole wheat spaghetti noodles. What made the dish was the following peanut sauce.

Peanut Sauce
3 Tbsp of reduced sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp of minced fresh ginger (FRESH ginger is key here)
1 1/2 Tbsp of natural crunchy peanut butter
2 Tbsp of white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp of sugar
Few shakes of hot sauce

Whisk ingredients together and then pour over noodles, chicken and veggies. Finish by squeezing a half of lime over the dish and enjoy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

When Manatee is Away...

Badger Girl doesn't do as much planning.

Manatee has a golfing trip this week. I am divided about how to proceed: tonight we are making a black bean and mushroom enchilada casserole and I am baking some molasses cookies. Tomorrow we are going out with some friends, but after that? I'm divided.

Part of me wants to tackle some of my cooking goals, particularly the ones of which I don't think Manatee will be very fond, namely the homemade macaroni and cheese, but then I have a huge pan of cheesey goodness and just me to eat it.

Part of me wants to rebel and eat all of the things he doesn't like: goat cheese, blue cheese, pasta, oh my!

Another part of me wants to tackle bread making and get some loaves made and frozen. Maybe do some preserves too.

And the other part of me wants to get takeout every night and spend the time doing more productive things, like reading books, watching movies and doing my nails.

If the ambitious Badger Girl presides then I will keep you updated. If you don't hear from me, be rest assured I am enjoying my Thai food with my trusty friends: TV, nail polish and my latest installment from BookSwim.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Where oh where have the uncooked shrimp gone?

Oh, where oh where could they be?

I was determined to make the baked shrimp and tomatoes dish last night. So determined that I sent Manatee on a mission: find me some uncooked shrimp. He tried three grocery stores and NONE of them have uncooked shrimp.

For you Madisonians-where can you find uncooked shrimp? For everyone else, where do you find uncooked shrimp?

There are tons of cooked shrimp out there but that only works for shrimp cocktail. It doesn't work if you want to put them in a dish and cook it yourself.

To make a long story short, we were forced to order in pizza last night. It was a hardship, I know. But uncooked shrimp, I won't be thwarted. I will find you and I will cook you and then I will blog about it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January Hum Drums

So I have good news and I have bad news. Good news: As unsuccessful I was last week in my cooking, this week has exceeded my expectations. Bad news: No pictures. Hunger has taken away my patience for taking pictures.

Monday: Spaghetti Squash with Grilled Chicken Breasts and Vegetable Marinara

Tuesday: Moroccan Red Lentil Soup (a new staple in our household)

Wednesday: Pork with Thai Peanut Sauce

Thursday: Baked Shrimp and Tomatoes

Recipe: Pork with Thai Peanut Sauce

2 lb pork tenderloin trimmed of fat and cut into 4 pieces
1/3 cup terriyaki sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar (or in my case, apple cider vinegar with a pinch of sugar)
2 red peppers diced large
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 Tsp of crushed red pepper

1/4 cup peanut butter
2 green onions minced
crushed peanuts
lime wedges

1. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.
2. Place the following in the slow cooker: pork tenderloin (cut in 4 pieces), red pepper, teriyaki sauce, vinegar, garlic, and crushed red pepper.
3. Cook on low for 8-9 hours.
4. Remove pork.
5. Stir in peanut butter.
6. Coarsely chop pork (by that time, it will fall apart when you place your fork on it)
7. Put pork back in slow cooker and cover with sauce.
8. Serve it over brown Jasmine rice and top with green onions and peanuts. Squeeze over lime juice.

After a long day of training, this was a great dinner to have waiting for me. I know training doesn't seem like it would be hard but it's a long day of saying 'Click on X. No, not there. Or there. Or-stop! (sigh) Okay, let's start over....again." By the time I get home, all patience has completely eroded.

On a side note, this may also contribute to not being able to wait to take a picture before eating....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sad to Report...

Not one thing I have made this week has been pretty. Sunday night, we made Pot Roast with Winter Vegetables. This was not only unappetizing in looks but also in flavor. Imagine a hockey puck surrounded by water-y, tough cabbage. What was I think when I picked this recipe? Also, please consider this an SOS when it comes to cooking with a Dutch Oven. This was a gift from Manatee which I had gone as far as to send him a link to where he could buy me one because I just HAD to have it. Now I have it and clearly have no idea how to use it.

Then we made our Fish Packets with Deconstructed Pesto. This didn't taste awful but it was not a very attractive dish. When you steam basil, it turns brown and crinkly. And fish stinks. A lot.

Finally last night we made Crockpot Santa Fe Chicken. I couldn't find fresh cilantro for it, so I bought this cilantro in a tube. It looked like dark green finger paint. It gave the chicken a nice flavor but between that, the extra can of tomatoes we added and the fact we over-cooked it by about three hours, it was a lovely shade of dark brown with black (bean) and yellow (corn) chunks in it.

Here's to hoping I have some prettier dishes in the days to come.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

An Easy Fancy Dinner

For NYE, Manatee and I decided to stay in and cook together. We wanted to do something a little fancier than normal but didn't want to spend the day cooking. We decided on peppered tuna steaks with buttered green beans and mushrooms (and salad and sourdough bread). This was a super easy thing to make and it was delicious.

Peppered Tuna Steak with Sweet and Tangy Marinade

2 ahi tuna steaks
Ground Black Pepper
Oil for grill

Oil the grill.

Grind some black pepper and press into tuna steaks. 

Place steaks on heated grill. Brush on marinade (recipe below). 

Grill for 4-6 minutes. 


1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 soy sauce

Whisk ingredients together. Use for basting and pour marinade over steaks when finished grilling.

Butter Green Beans and Mushrooms

6 oz sliced shitake mushrooms (stems removed)
6 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
1 garlic clove minced
2 Tbsp of butter
Salt and Pepper

Blanche green beans by steaming for 4 minutes and then dunking in ice water and placing on towel.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in pan. 

Add mushrooms and salt and pepper. Saute for approx 8 minutes until mushroom juice evaporates.

Add minced garlic and sautee for 1 minute.

Add green beans and sautee until thoroughly heated.

Serve and enjoy!

The Conquering of a Goal

I kind of cheated and started on my cooking goals on New Year's Eve. Manatee and I made angel food cake from scratch.
It was awesome. You take twelve egg whites and keep beating them and they transform into a huge bowl from lightweight froth, otherwise known as meringue. I may sound naive or a little dim, but seeing the chemical reaction (or whatever it was) was just really, really cool. Matter of fact, I am going to add to my list of goals to make homemade mayonnaise.

I am not going to include the recipe because it is quite involved. We used the one from the Ultimate Cookbook.

Angel food topped with cocoa/cinnamon whipped cream with spicy caramel sauce

The Plan for the First Week of 2011

Pot Roast with Winter Vegetables and Fresh Thyme Popovers

Fish Packets with Deconstructed Pesto and Steamed Asparagus

Santa Fe Chicken Lettuce Wraps



Baked Eggs with Ratatouille