December 25, 2010

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

This recipe is for all the pizza lovers who love their homemade pie even more when they know it's healthy! I've gotten a few requests for the whole-wheat pizza dough recipe that I use. This makes enough dough for two thin-crust pies. The extra dough freezes well for later use; simply wrap well in plastic wrap and tuck into a labeled freezer bag.

You'll love the end result of this crust. I was amazed by how delicious it was the first time I used this recipe! It is light, crispy, and has none of the density of some of the other whole wheat doughs out there. Enjoy!

1 c. warm water
2 t. active dry yeast
1/2 t. sugar
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 c. stone ground whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. white flour
1 1/4 t. salt

Combine yeast and water in 2 cup measuring cup. Add the sugar and stir. Let sit 2-3 minutes until cloudy, then stir in olive oil. Combine flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor, pulse twice, then pour in the yeast mix with the machine running, until a dough ball forms on the blade. Remove the ball with floured hands. Knead lightly on a floured surface until smooth, a couple minutes.

Shape into a ball pinched at the bottom and place into a lightly oiled bowl with the pinched side down. Leave in a warm place to rise 1-2 hours, covered with plastic wrap. Divide into 2 equal balls, cover with a towel, and let rest 20 minutes. Can refrigerate 3 days, or freeze.

When ready to use preheat the oven to.  Roll into pie shape, brush with olive oil, and bake.

December 20, 2010

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pancakes

There is quite possibly nothing more delicious that can happen before noon. 

I hear my mind wandering to other things.  
But...! It says. Once I had a....!  
Squeaks the corner of my brain, recalling a fresh-baked,
buttery croissant of breakfast past, or conjuring the taste
of a distant rich, smooth cup of coffee. 

Hush. Be still. 

There is quite possibly nothing more delicious that can happen before noon
than this. There is quite possibly nothing more delicious
than a frigid December morning, so cold that from here
I observe the crackled webs of ice
splayed wildly across the nearby windowpane. 
There is quite possibly nothing more delicious 
than knowing that nothing will call me out of pajamas all day.

There is quite possibly nothing more delicious
than the sweet aroma 
of cocoa and sugar as they dance
through the apartment. Nothing more comforting 
than when the silky, thick batter crackles instantly upon contact 
with the salty, buttered griddle. Then, it hisses slowly,
a relenting sigh, as small bubbles form on its surface.  

And finally, there is quite possibly nothing more delicious before noon 
than heaping forkfuls of dripping semi-sweet chocolate 
enveloped in soft, peanut butter laced dough. 

It's like a steaming chocolate chip cookie stolen
straight from the baking sheet, 
so fresh it's not yet formed and so it crumbles immediately
into a big, heaping mess of sweet doughy goodness right there on your tongue. 
Except that it's pancakes. And they're for breakfast. 

  If you think there's anything quite possibly more delicious, please let me know.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pancakes: Add to your favorite pancake batter or mix at least 2 T. of peanut butter, 1 t. cinnamon, 1 t. vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth and fully incorporated, then fold in 1/2 cup swemi-sweet chocolate chips. Keep cooked pancakes warm in a 200-250 degree oven while you finish the entire batch. Enjoy melted, chocolate peanut butter goodness covered with hot maple syrup, warmed in the microwave.

December 19, 2010

Nut Bread

This nut bread is the perfect holiday gift. Its uncomplicated, simple goodness will be appreciated by both the giver and recipient. With a soft crumb and dense interior that yields to the crunch of toasted nuts, this slightly sweet loaf is sure to be happily gobbled up for snack, breakfast, or any holiday gathering.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
3/4 cup chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of an 8x4 or 9x5 loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine all of the the dry ingredients and stir. In a smaller bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients and stir well. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour in all of the wet ingredients at once. Fold in the nuts. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes for the 8x5 pan or 40-45 minutes for the 9x5 pan, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack, then wrap tightly and store at room temperature overnight before serving.

December 15, 2010

Mexican Turkey Soup with Quinoa and Corn

Cold winter wind, you howled at me, hard, as I rode my bike down Walnut Street. You pushed and persisted, biting at the tiny tips of my ears until I became numb to the pain. You made my eyes tear and my nose turn a deep, desperate red. 

But I still made it home.

I gasped a little when I came inside. My hands could barely feel as I locked up the poor, frozen bones of my bike; and my bones, too, were just as frozen as its steel frame. I shuffled to the apartment door. What miserable creatures we were then, bike and I. What could fix this wild chill? 

For the fortunate human it was turkey soup. As the wind groaned its warnings outside, I was safe and finally warm, stirring a huge pot full of spicy chiles, steaming broth, and plump turkey meat. Moments later, I thanked Winter for being what it is; and for giving reason for hot bowls of soup, filled to the brim, and  eaten slowly in front of the brightly light Christmas tree.

Ingredients: recipe adapted from Cooking Light magazine
4 dried Ancho chiles, or 3 fresh hot chiles, chopped
2 T. canola oil
1.5 cups chopped Spanish onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. hot sauce
1 T. chile powder
1 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. paprika
1.5 t. dried oregano
4 cups water
4 cups fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 - 1.5 cups cooked quinoa
4 cups leftover shredded cooked Turkey breast
salt and pepper to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese for topping
Optional: chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the chile peppers and onions and cook 6 minutes until soft and golden. Add garlic and stir, 1 minute. Stirring constantly, add the chile powder, cayenne, paprika, and oregano and cook 2 minutes, then add the water, broth, corn, and quinoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered 10 minutes. Stir in the turkey and heat through, 2 minutes, then salt and pepper to taste and serve topped with shredded cheese.

December 11, 2010

Stir Fried Tofu with Spicy Sauce

About a month ago I went out with a group to celebrate a friend's birthday. We headed for a Philly favorite called Han Dynasty, a Schezuan Chinese restaurant known for its authentic and incredibly delicious food. Han Dynasty has a reputation for serving up dishes so spicy that tears will pour from your eyes and sweat will collect in places you'd definitely rather it not while out at a social event. Every bite is a glorious combination of heaven and torture. Even though it was about 30 degrees out that night, we all went out for ice cream afterward to put out the fires still raging in our mouths.

Dinner tonight was at home, but what emerged from the stove top was reminiscent of that meal at Han Dynasty. Saucy, authentic, and hot, the stir fry of aromatic noodles, savory tofu, and crisp vegetables brought the big flavors of Schezuan. The best part is that it was all ready in a matter of minutes... which barely gave me enough time to pour myself the big glass of milk I knew I'd need to tame the heat after every bite.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light. To make it less spicy, omit red pepper flakes.
1  teaspoon  canola oil
1/4  cup  hoisin sauce
1/4  cup  ketchup
1  teaspoon  low-sodium soy sauce
1 clove minced garlic
1/8  to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1lb extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cubed
1  teaspoon  black pepper
1/4  teaspoon  salt
2  teaspoons  dark sesame oil w/chili
2 cups stir fry vegetables of choice (I used green beans and carrots)
1/4  cup  thinly sliced white onion
1  teaspoon  toasted sesame seeds
1/4 package Chinese egg noodles (about 1/2 inch wide)
Combine the hoisin sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, red pepper and garlic. Stir until well combined, then toss together with the cubed tofu. Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Using tongs, transfer each cube of tofu to the pan and stir fry for about 3 minutes on a side until a crisp edge appears. Reserve the extra sauce in the bowl.

Add sesame oil to pan. Add all of your vegetables and stir-fry 4 minutes or until tender. Pour the rest of the sauce into the pan and over the tofu and vegetables, then add the egg noodles and toss to coat. Allow to cook 2 minutes until noodles are soft, then sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Homemade Hoisin Sauce

5 T. Soy Sauce
3 T Smooth Peanut Butter
1.5 t. honey
2 t. sesame oil
2 t. hot sauce or hot chili paste
1/4 t. garlic powder
dash salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients well until combined.

December 10, 2010

Brick Oven Veggie Pizza

If you don't have a brick oven (which most of us do not!), a pizza stone is a great way to get a crispy crust in your regular oven. Sauteing the veggies beforehand gives them a deep flavor that makes this pizza feel far richer than it is. This is one of my favorite meals for Sunday nights... Take the time to make pizza with friends or family, then relax over big, comforting slices before the week begins.

Ingredients: recipe from Cuisinart Brick Oven recipe booklet
store bought fresh pizza dough
2 T. olive oil, divided
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups mixed bell peppers, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1.5 T. fresh basil
2 cups fresh spinach, optional
yellow cornmeal for dusting
2/3 cup pizza or tomato sauce
4 oz. mozzarella, shredded or thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 425 with your pizza stone in the lowest rack. Preheat stone for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, allow the dough to rest on a floured board, covered by a dish towel.Heat a large saute pan with 1 T. olive oil over medium heat, and when hot add all of the vegetables and saute until bright and just softened. 

Roll out dough on a cornmeal dusted surface until it is a 12" round, or make as thin as desired. Brush outer dough with olive oil, then spread pizza sauce evenly over. Scatter with mozzarella and veggies evenly. Carefully transfer to the stone in the oven (a pizza peel or other surface in which it is easy to slide the pie will be helpful). Bake for approx. 20 minutes, or until crust is browned and mozzarella fully melted. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

December 7, 2010

Chicken Pad Thai

It's wintry and cold out. The wind is going at 40 miles per hour and I can hear it whistling past our window panes, trying its hardest to eke its way through any cracks. 

Though they're tucked into fuzzy slippers, my toes are cold. They haven't been able to shake the chill since I came indoors hours ago. It's time for a hot, spicy dinner to counteract the elements. 

I'm inside where it's warm, the Christmas tree is lit, ornaments shining, dog snoozing on his couch pillow. A big heaping plate of chicken pad thai, steaming from the wok, truly radiates heat with every saucy, delicious noodle twirled around my fork. It's a recipe for true toastiness from the inside out.  

Ingredients: recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen. Serves 4
8 oz. rice noodles
1/4 cup salted peanuts, finely chopped
1/2 t. grated lime peel
3 T. fish sauce
2 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. packed brown sugar
4.5 t. rice vinegar
1 T. Asian chile sauce with garlic
3 T. cooking oil
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite sized strips
1 T. finely chopped garlic
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh bean sprouts (I used 1 cup of defrosted frozen stir fry vegetables)
1/3 cup sliced green onion
2 T. snipped fresh cilantro (optional)

In a large bowl, soak noodles in hot water for 10-15 minutes (until pliable but not soft). Drain well.
Combine peanuts and lime peel in a separate dish, set aside
Whisk together fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and chile sauce until smooth and set aside.

Heat 1 T. oil a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat and cook the chicken and garlic about 6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the egg to the hot skillet and cook for 30 seconds. Turn the egg with a spatula and cook for 30-60 more seconds, then remove from skillet and chop. Set aside.

In same skillet, heat 2 T. oil over high heat for 30 seconds. Add drained noodles and vegetables (sprouts or stir fry veggies), cook 2 minutes. Add fish sauce mixture and chicken, stir fry for 1-2 more minutes or until heated through. Divide entire pan contents among 4 plates. Top with the egg, peanut topping, green onion, and cilantro.

December 2, 2010

Kimball is Sharing Recipes!

This isn't a post about something I made. Instead, it's a post about something I ate.... years ago. You see, eating at Holy Cross wasn't just a daily part of my college life, it was integral to my entire experience. My roommate sat in the same two seats in the giant, beautiful dining hall for breakfast lunch and dinner for four straight years. Our time there, leaning over the big dark wood tables, was as much about food as it was about friendship, conversation, people watching, and relaxation. Hours upon end were spent in Kimball and its no surprise that many of my favorite college memories took place there.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic to read the latest Holy Cross newsletter and see a link to Kimball's new recipe release. Evidently there is a cookbook in the works! Finally, my beloved dining hall is sharing the recipes to the treats that made us linger over our plates, return for seconds, and finally wrap a morsel or two in a napkin for later.

Kimball's first recipe is for hermit cookies. These moist, aromatic and wonderfully spiced hermit cookies were a consistent part of my Holy Cross experience. The hermits were served almost every Sunday night, two generous slabs of cookie to a plate. We'd spend the last few extra minutes of dinner slowly breaking off pieces of the soft, chewy treats with their plump raisins, then hurry to join the droves of students leaving to attend the 7PM Community Mass. The hermits were more than a food, they were a distinct memory -- a piece of comfort that made Holy Cross a home away from home. 

Kimball's Hermit Cookies: recipe courtesy of Holy Cross via website

  1. Measure raisins and soak in warm water while making the cookie dough.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Grease a baking sheet with a thin layer of shortening or cooking spray.
  4. In a mixing bowl with a paddle, combine salt, sugar, soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, shortening, egg and molasses.
  5. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes.
  6. Add milk and scrape down the bowl.
  7. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, then mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  8. Add pastry flour and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then mix on medium speed for 1 minute.
  9. Drain raisins and add to the cookie dough, mix only long enough to incorporate.
  10. Roll pieces of dough the width of the greased pan approximately into a ¾” log.
  11. Bake at 375 degrees for 14 to 16 minutes.
  12. Remove cookies from the oven and cool for 2 minutes.
  13. Using a pizza wheel, cut into desired size.
  14. Cool completely on pan, after cookie is cooled loosen from pan with a spatula.


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