Friday, March 13, 2009
Pizza. It's the one word that can bring a room full of people arguing over what to have for dinner into immediate and unanimous agreement. Not many people dislike pizza, however once you've decided on pizza the next argument to settle is what toppings. Some like sausage and peppers, some like that classic pepperoni. And then there are those who love those little dead fish on it. I never could understand the allure of anchovies. I don't hate them by any means...in fact I use them in many sauces because the anchovy itself sort of melts away and adds this slightly salty fullness of flavor to other foods without screaming "I am a dead fish!." However, on my pizza? No thank you. Going out for pizza can be quite costly these days and frankly I'm broke. Being broke though does not mean I'm going without. In fact my daughter and I make pizza at home more times than we go out for it. One reason of course is because it's way cheaper. Second reason, I can make it the way I want it and it tastes awesome. Third reason, it's alot of fun for everyone in the family to make. Finally the fourth reason...it's easy! Ok, you can get that "The woman has lost her flippin' mind" look off your face right now. It IS easy. Don't believe me? Ha! I'm going to take great pleasure in showing you just how easy it is.
First of all, you pretty much have everything you need to for pizza right there in your kitchen anyway. I think most people tend to have a bag of some type of shredded cheese in their fridge. As far as sauce goes, you can make your own from tomato paste, water and seasonings or buy a jar of your favorite pizza sauce. Mine happens to be the Ragu Pizza Quick. It's cheap, one jar is enough for two large pizzas and the consistency is exactly what you want. It's not too thick, but it isn't as thin as a spaghetti sauce so it doesn't water down the crust and make it mushy. Speaking of the crust, you have a few options here. You can use the roll out crust that comes in a tube from Pillsbury, however I don't happen to like it. It seems as though they take their basic biscuit recipe and change the shape and call it pizza crust. If you like it, fine. For me? Yuck. Then you have your pre-made crust like Boboli. These will work and actually taste pretty good but for one they can be costly and two, they are a little bready for me. They don't have the soft texture that you normally get in pizza from a pizza joint. Here are the two choices I opt for. I either make my dough in my bread maker (and for this I have THE BEST recipe!) or I'll go to my local pizza shop and buy a couple balls of dough. Our local shop, Garden Pizzeria, sells the dough for $3 a piece so for $6 I can make 2 very large pizzas or 3 medium size ones. Whichever you choose I guarantee you'll love the pizza because you've made it exactly the way you like it and you're not spending an arm and a leg for it. An added bonus is it's really fun to make. Kids LOVE making pizza. They love feeling and stretching the dough and even if they stretch it too much and make a hole, it's easily fixed. They can top it with sauce, cheese and anything else they want and some kids get pretty artistic. In the end they have a great feeling of accomplishment and an awesome dinner at that. *Note - If you are one of those anal retentive, Obsessive Complusive people who don't like any messes at all....don't even think about trying this. Kids make messes. It's one of their God given jobs along with playing and having fun and as a parent you need to know when to allow them to do it and expect a clean up afterwards. This is one of those times. It's a nice trade off though because with pizza making they get to do all three at once. If you like the look of pride on a child's face when they show you how they've colored inside the lines, just wait til they show you their pizza masterpiece. Another great plus is they are getting a great, nutritious meal. Oh....almost forgot....if you have a bread maker sitting on the shelf and have only made one loaf of bread in the past 5 years of owning it, I'm going to show you the great benefits of owning one in the coming weeks. That little piece of machinery is incredible at taking all the work out of making pizza dough and home made pasta. Two things you always thought would be fun to make but were too hard. I'm going to show you how to let your bread maker pull it's weight and make them foolproof. Here are some ideas for pizza's we've made and my dough recipe:
BBQ Chicken Pizza
Sauce - Your favorite BBQ sauce
Toppings - Cheddar cheese, leftover or canned chicken, red or spring onions
Sauce - Basil Pesto Sauce, either home made or from a jar (the stuff keeps forever in the fridge)
Toppings - Feta cheese, black olives, sliced or sun-dried tomatoes
Philly Cheese Steak Pizza
Sauce - Ranch Dressing
Toppings - Chopped leftover steak or Steaks'ums, mozarella cheese, grilled onions, mushrooms and peppers
Sauce - Salsa or Taco Sauce
Toppings - (before the oven) Leftover taco meat, monterey jack Cheese, (after the oven) shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, onions, sour cream
My Pizza Dough Recipe
1 C Water
1 Beaten Egg
1 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Sugar
3 C Bread Flour
3 Tbsp Dry Milk Powder
1 1/2 Tsp Active Yeast
Add ingredients to bread maker just as they are listed. Select Dough setting on the machine. Press the Start/Stop button. When timer reads 0:00 take out the dough and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes covered with a towel. Turn onto a floured surface. Pat it and stretch it by hand into a circle or rectangle if you prefer. *One trick I've learned if you don't own a pizza peel (one of the wooden paddles to make pizza on) and pizza stone to cook it on, use a cookie sheet turned upside down to make the pizza. Just put a little flour or cornmeal on the surface and place your dough on that. Add your toppings and put the pizza into a 450 degree pre-heated oven. Pizza is done when the crust is a nice brown and is no longer soft in the middle, about 10 minutes or so. Take it out of the oven and slide it onto a cutting board (this is why we used the underside of the cookie sheet, it slides easier) and allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
Let me know how you and your family like your pizza and I'd love to see pictures too! Email your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll put them on a new post in the future. "Mangia Bene, vivi felice!" - Eat well, Live happy!!!
Monday, March 9, 2009
Potatoes though.....ooooh, you'd be hard pressed to find a soul that doesn't love a spud. Mashed, boiled, fried, baked, shredded, hashed and browned....it's hard to mess up a potato. Mashed potatoes are one of the classics among comfort food. What would Thanksgiving be without mashed potatoes to go along with the bird? Meatloaf? It goes together with mashed potatoes like peanut butter goes with jelly. How many times have you ever gone through a drive-thru without ordering french or curly fries?? And what goes along with our eggs for breakfast better than home made hash browns? Potato chips are the most popular snack food on the planet. Of course the British have to be be frou-frou about it and call them crisps. (They also call the bathroom "the loo"....what the?!) Anyway, I said over the weekend that I was going to focus on meals that can get the family together around the dinner table and even get the kids involved. Today I was thinking about a potato bar. What could be easier than throwing however many potatoes you need into the oven? Not the microwave!.....the oven. A microwave actually steams your potato. Yes it cooks it, but it's seriously lacking in that classic flavor, fluffy flesh and crisp outer skin that only comes from baking it in the oven. No matter how many your baking, wash the potatoes off with water and dry them thoroughly before placing them in a 400 degree oven for about an hour. If you really like your skins crisp try rubbing them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper then wrapping them in foil before baking. While these are baking you and the little ones can get all the fixin's for a potato bar ready. Be creative....this is when those little imaginations really come in handy. Of course if your 3 year old suggests M&M's on his potato you'll probably want to nix that idea for something a little more nutritious. Besides, M&M's can be dessert. There are the classic toppings: butter, sour cream, chives, cheese. To make the meal complete, serve a protein along with it. Maybe some deli ham cut into small cubes. As a nod to my friend Gretchen who is passionately in love and I do believe lust, with bacon, some real bacon bits would be good or how about some left over taco meat and salsa or chicken you might have leftover in the fridge? Steamed broccoli with cheese is always good.
The reason I'm so hip on getting kids involved in food preparation and cooking, is that I've noticed over the years that the more dependent we've become on fast and prepackaged foods to feed our children, the less they really know about where their food comes from. Alot of kids think that hamburger just magically appears on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic at the grocery store. Many don't even know which animal it comes from! That's pretty sad. Not only do they need to know where it comes from, they need to know that food is more than just something to fill your belly. It contains the building blocks that makes your body healthy and strong. The more nutritionally valuable the food is the healthier you'll be. With the rise and popularity of cooking shows and Food Network more and more people are starting to get in touch with their domestic side and cooking at home. Children need to learn how to cook so they can care for themselves when they get older. I can't tell you how many of my friends didn't know how to boil water when they finally got out on their own. It's hard for me to comprehend. When I was growing up I'd watch my parents, who both loved to cook, in the kitchen. It was like having Cooking 101 every night. My father who was from the south, taught me to love grits, collards, corn bread and fried chicken. My mom, a northerner, taught me how to make classic northern dishes; chicken corn soup, pork, saurkraut and mashed potatoes for New Year's and whoopie pies. Children learn best from example. Let them help in the kitchen as much as possible. Let them wash the potatoes and rub the oil on. Give them the bowls and let them put the toppings in and set the table. Doing this makes it more than just a family meal...it makes it a memory, one that they'll cherish.
Just a side note about potatoes. Potatoes rank highest in potassium among the top 20 most frequently consumed raw vegetables and the 20 top most frequently consumed raw fruits. This nutrient can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and promote heart health. One medium potato (5.3 ounces) with the skin contains 620 mg of potassium. That’s 18% of your daily requirement and more than a banana. Potatoes are are sodium free, fat-free and contain just 110 calories per serving. They have:
- More protein than most of the 20 most frequently consumed raw fruits and vegetables – 3 grams per medium potato
- 2 grams of fiber (with skin on), which may aid in weight loss, lower blood cholesterol levels and decrease risk of heart disease
- 45% Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C, or as much as you will find in a tomato. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that keeps the immune system healthy
Reduced fat sour cream - The fat free just doesn't have the same taste or feel and reduced fat has only 40 calories for 2 tablespoons.
Hormel 50% Less Fat Bacon Bits - These are real bacon and taste great! I use them on potatoes, in omelette's, soups...anywhere you'd want real bacon.
Reduced Fat Cheese - Ok, you know I'm a cheese snob, but not necessarily for this type of meal. A good, reduced fat, sharp cheese works very well. It may not melt quite as much but it tastes pretty good.
So, don't let you or your kids be couch potatoes! (Sorry, I know it was bad but I had to say it) Get everyone involved and bring back the Family Dinner Table, one meal at a time. Let me know if you have any ideas or recipes that would help the family gather together!
Friday, March 6, 2009
Announcer: And now, in this corner-er-er, wearing the Girraffe Garanimals with a hole in the knee-ee-ee, weighing in at a whopping 45 pounds and able to spit a wad of meatloaf farther than he can throw a ball-all-all.....Jumpin' Jimmy Mills!
My mother, God bless her, had more patience than Job. After separating and securing us to our respective seats with a hard glare from her evil eyeball, we thoroughly enjoyed being together and eating the wonderful food made by her. Kids these days, and adults as well, are missing out on this great opportunity to not only nourish their bodies with food that didn't necessarily come out of a deep fryer, but to also nourish their soul with quality time well spent with the people they love. Yes, kids get a little out of hand at times, heck so do adults. The point is everyone is together. These are the times that we as adults look back on with fond memories. Don't you want your children to have that too? It's not as hard as it seems. I know that with everyone working hard these days it's sometimes difficult to come home and prepare a meal. I personally want nothing more than to get horizontal on my couch the second I come in the door. However, with a little planning and some help from the kids (this is not optional....they need to earn their keep lol), you can have a great dinner on the table at least 5 nights out of the week. Starting next week I'm going to have a few ideas on how the kids can help and how you can make dinner interesting for them. In other words I'll tell you how to bait and capture the little boogers so they actually are at home and enjoy dinner with the family. Chairs and whips are optional. If you have some ideas share them as well. I'd also like to hear some of your memories of mealtimes when you were a kid. Man, talking about years gone by makes me feel old. I need to buy a good wrinkle cream. Anyway, next week look for some meal ideas that get the kids involved and taste yummy too. Have a great weekend!!!!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Fiber-licious food doesn't have to look like sticks and twigs.... or....how to trick your child into eating something good for them
I've been experimenting with recipes lately that I already know Nicole likes, and sneaking whole wheat flour in there instead of all purpose. My latest is banana bread. The child loves this stuff and anyone who knows me knows how much I detest waste. Bananas are notorious for going bad before you get to the end of the bunch so I almost always go for the green ones when I buy them. We eat however many we can until they start getting too brown or pithy tasting and then they become bread. This recipe also has no sugar in it. Yep nada and the kid still loves it! Go figure. Usually when you use whole wheat you have to remember that it has less gluten in it than white flour so it generally doesn't rise as much. To remedy this baking soda is used and it rises just wonderfully. It has a great texture. Since there isn't any sweetening other than honey it's not as sweet as most other banana breads but this is easily remedied by either adding a little more honey or if you must have sugar, about 1/4 cup should do the trick. Please try it first without the sugar and see what you think. I'm telling you, if MY child will eat this and proclaim to love it, we have a winner.
Whole Wheat Banana Bread
1/3 C Vegetable Oil
1/2 C Honey
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 C Mashed Bananas
1 3/4 C Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 C Hot Water
1/2 C Chopped Nuts (optional, I use walnuts)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl beat oil and honey together. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Add baking soda to hot water, stir to mix and add to batter. Blend in chopped nuts. Spread batter into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Bake for 55-60 minutes. Cool on wire rack 1/2 hour before slicing.
Servings - 12
Calories - 229
Fat - 10.6 grams
Carbs - 29.6 grams
Fiber - 2.9 grams
Protein - 4.4 grams
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
God (speaking to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and any angels hanging out): "Pardon me for tooting my own horn here, but I didn't do such a bad job creating that whole earth, skies, seas, man thing.....oh who am I kidding, It's PERFECT! I'm worn out. I deserve a treat. Something that will melt in my mouth and make my eyes roll back in my head."
Whammo! The heavens rejoiced!!!
Chocolate was born. We eat chocolate on the day we celebrate the resurrection of Christ....coincidence? I think not my friend.
The fact is chocolate is full of anti-oxidants, has about as much caffeine as 1/2 a cup of coffee or a cola. Antioxidant-rich diets have been linked to a lowered risk of heart attacks, stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancer, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer's and more. So it stands to reason that if chocolate is chock full of antioxidants, it's actually good for you...that's all I'm sayin'. True, chocolate can be addictive, maybe not physically but certainly mentally. It's not surprising that so many people choose chocolate as a sacrifice to give up for Lent every year. Also, I can count on both hands and feet the number of people I personally know who, when stressed, turn to a bit of the chocolately goodness as a mood enhancer and a deterrent to killing anyone within arms reach. We all know someone who should wear a medic alert bracelet reading: In case of emergency, administer chocolate immediately!
My friend Michael is a self-described chocolate addict. The man eats a Hershey bar for breakfast every morning. He's also an Executive Chef. So, when I made him my "Make You Slap Yo' Mamma" Chocolate Cake and he raved about, I felt honored. I'm sharing it with you so if, in fact, you are one of the people who have given up chocolate for Lent, let me apologize now. If not....stop wasting time and get baking!
Shelley's "Make You Slap Yo' Mamma" Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with chocolate frosting (recipe follows). 10 to 12 servings.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
1 Lb Linguini
1 Lb Sirloin (or any type meat you prefer, tofu works too)
1/2 Head of Cabbage, sliced or shredded
2 Carrots, sliced
1 Lg Onion, sliced
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
Kikkoman's Stir Fry Sauce
Slice your meat into very thin slices. It's easier to do this if you place it in the freezer for about 30 mins before slicing. Heat a large pot or wok on high. Add oil and then meat. Saute until meat is done and remove to the serving bowl. Add more oil to the pot/wok and turn heat down to med to med-hi and add the veggies and saute until done stirring almost constantly. When veggies are just about done add the garlic. Remove veggies to the bowl with the meat. In another pot (or this one washed out) boil linguini until al dente. Drain. In the same pot add all the cooked ingredients (noodles, veggies and meat) and add Stir Fry Sauce to your liking. I usually use about 1/2-3/4 Cup. Mix all together, move to serving bowl and serve.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Am I being paid to endorse this stuff? Ha! I wish! I'm just some poor shmuck who feels that if I find something that's as good as this it's only fair to let others, who are suffering by eating that white stuff in a bottle that tastes like garbage, know about this treasure. Try it and let me know what you think. Also...if you have found something that is healthier and tastes good share it so we can all feel the love.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Now a challenge for you! I want to see what we together can come up with for a list of inexpensive casserole recipes. You can use anything you want but preferably things that are easy to come by and won't require me to go to an Indonesian specialty shop just to buy a can of some little known fruit that only 5 people in the world eat. I don't care how good it may taste. Send in your recipes by hitting the comments button. I'll post all the recipes on Monday, Feb 23. Then, I'd like to see everyone try at least one of the recipes and write in to tell me what you thought. I'll post those reviews as they come in. Just to start, I'm giving you probably the easiest Hamburger Casserole recipe ever. It's ridiculous it's so simple. My 18 yr old daughter Nicole has been eating this since she was little. My mom made it for us as we were growing up and it's great for anyone on a budget. Oh and by the way, for some unknown reason my daughter insists my mom's is always better than mine. Little brat. LOL Brace yourself.....
Carol Mills' Hamburger Noodle Casserole
1 Lb Pasta (egg noodles or any small shape desired)
1 Lb Hamburger (ground turkey can be used just as well)
1 Small Onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
3 Cans Reduced Fat Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 Soup Can of Water
1 Lg Can of Sliced Mushrooms
Salt and Pepper
In a medium size pot, brown hamburger, garlic, mushrooms and onion over medium to medium high heat, being careful not to burn the garlic. Drain grease and add back to pot. Add soup and Water and stir to mix. Boil your pasta. Drain pasta and add to the soup mixture. Salt and pepper to taste and add parsley for taste and color.
*I have also added fresh sliced mushrooms, canned fried onions and have sometimes substituted sour cream for the milk to give it a slight tangy flavor. This is one of those base recipes that can be altered with anything you think would taste good.
Friday, February 13, 2009
For anyone who is new to cooking and wants to really impress someone for dinner...this is the dish! You can easily dress it up with bacon or chopped ham or add some veggies, maybe asparagus or peas. Try it and let me know what you think!
Shelley's Mah-velous Mac n Cheese
1 lb of Pasta (penne, elbow or bowtie)
1 qt 1% Low-fat Milk
1/2 C Butter
1/2 C Flour
2 C Sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 C Monteray Jack Cheese
2 C Swiss Cheese
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 C Bread or Cracker Crumbs
Boil your pasta until it's al dente or has just a little resistance when you bite it. Drain and set to the side. In a large, heavy bottomed pot melt your butter over low heat. When melted, whisk in your flour (for the fancy-schmancy readers, this is called a roux....roll eyes here). Cook for about one minute. This will cook out the raw flour taste. Continue whisking and add your milk. Turn the heat up to medium. As you whisk you'll notice it will start to thicken. After cooking and whisking for about 3 minutes start adding the cheese. This will now turn into the most awesome cheese sauce. Add your nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the pasta and then transfer to a buttered casserole dish. Top with your bread or cracker crumbs and top with small bits of butter. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Once browned remove from oven and let cool for about 10-15 minutes. Serve.
Hope you like it!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Chicken Corn Soup is an old Amish Recipe. It's actually a very healthy one with few ingredients and incredibly easy to make. Some recipes call for noodles, another thing the Amish are famous for, but my family always makes it without. It's really good both ways so it's up to you whether or not to "noodle." Also, strange as it sounds, a peanut butter sandwich totally rocks as a go along. Why? I have no idea, but that's what they always served with it in school and the slight sweetness of the peanut butter offsets the savoriness of the soup. Mmm, mmmm.
Chicken Corn Soup
One 3 lb Chicken or the skinless/boneless chicken of your choice
3 cans Whole Kernel Corn, with juice
3 cans Cream Style Corn
2 eggs (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Put chicken in a stock pot and cover with water. Add salt to the water and bring to a boil. Boil until meat starts falling off the bone, approximately 1 hour. While this is boiling add the eggs and cook for 5 minutes until they are hard boiled. Remove chicken and eggs from the newly made chicken stock and set aside to cool. To the stock add all 6 cans of corn making sure to use the juice and all. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken, adding all the meat to the stock/corn mixture. Peel and chop the eggs into small pieces and add them back to the soup. I usually throw away one of the yolks to eliminate some of the unnecessary fat. Salt and pepper to taste and add parsley for color.
Now....grab a bowl of soup, put on your PJ's and prepare yourself for a little comfort.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
My goal with this website is to celebrate the foods that make me happy and bring back memories and to share them with anyone who wants them. I want this to be an interactive thing. I want to share the foods that you have made a part of your life and family. It's a little cyber-bonding if you will. I also want to see if you and I can come up with healthful alternatives to some of our favorites by tweaking and experimenting with recipes without making them taste like cardboard or something that you would have eaten on a commune in the 1960's. Let's do this together and see if we can have some fun. Have a recipe? Share it! Tried a recipe from here? Comment on it and if you did something to make it better....tell me! By the way, if you have nutritional info on the recipe please post it as well. Let's have some fun! Here's my first one:
WHOLE WHEAT PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, butter, honey, brown sugar and egg until smooth. Combine the whole wheat flour and baking powder; stir into the batter until blended. Roll into small balls, and place on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly using a fork.
- Bake for 13 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cookies are slightly toasted at the edges.
Servings Per Recipe: 36
Amount Per Serving
- Total Fat: 6.4g
- Cholesterol: 13mg
- Sodium: 70mg
- Total Carbs: 11.3g
- Dietary Fiber: 0.9g
- Protein: 2.6g