Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pizza and wine and beer...oh yes

Well hello there blog. It's been awhile. (which might explain forgetting to take pictures) And do I have an alcoholic treat for you. First the cocktails. It was a beautiful snowy day here in Louisville and I opted for an after work run in its fluffy white glory. A run to the wine shop that is...where I picked up a bottle of 6th Sense Syrah, on sale because I knew the Facebook special deal. I must say it reminds me a lot of bacon. Or maybe I'm just hungry for bacon.

However, to settle my pizza craving, and because I have no bacon, I made that instead. Only there was a problem. No yeast. Hmmmm, beer has yeast.

The Crust
  • 3 cups flour: I used 2 cups white and 1 cup whole wheat
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 can frothy, wholesome, delicious, yet cheap beer (Miller Lite in this case)
  • a dash of your favorite spices (oregano, basil, garlic, and black pepper)

Mix all together, flop onto a floured surface (tip: oil your hands first, this dough is sticky). Kneed into a ball and work it out to cover your baking pan/pizza stone/etc. If you're using a pan, I would suggest oiling it first. *Read the rest before topping with sauces, I suggest pre-cooking your crust a bit to avoid sogginess.

The Sauce
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • A splash of vinegar
The Toppings
Do as you wish. I chose veggies for this one: Mushrooms, green pepper, tomato, pineapple, and pepperoncinis. Topped with standard Mozzarella. Nothing too fancy since this was a last minute, pull shit from the cabinet/fridge decision.

So to cook this sucker. I started by preheating my oven to 400 and using a pizza stone for my crust. I went ahead and pre-cooked my crust for about 10 minutes since it was a little thicker than normal.

The Verdict:
Not to shabby for a Tuesday night on the couch watching Working Girl. It was quick, simple, and the flavors aren't like the typical Spinellis slice I spring for. The crust is a tad doughy in the middle, but that can be fixed. It's a shame Upstairs Megan filled up on potatoes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

homemade clothes soap aka laundry detergent

i started making my own clothes soap earlier this summer.  its so simple and much cheaper.  plus, its better for the environment.  

3 ingredients

1 55 oz box of arm and hammer washing soda
1 76 oz box of 20 mule team borax
10 pack of 4.5 oz ivory bar soap

(you dont have to use ivory.  you can also use bar soap that is specifically made for the laundry such as zote or fels-naptha)

the recipe

1 bar of soap
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda

using whatever you have, you will need to shave down the bar of soap.  you can use a hand grater or even a food processor.  i used my ninja mixer.  it made the process quick and fairly simple.  i added the soda and borax at the same time which made the soap a little drier and easier to break down.  

once everything is pretty well mixed, i emptied into a container and stirred until having a power like this...

i usually make larger batches so i dont have to do this so often.  today i used 5 bars of soap, 1 1/2 cup soda and 1 1/2 cup borax.

you only need to use 1 tablespoon per load, depending on how nasty the clothes are.  :)

this can be used in  front loading machines too since this detergent is very low suds.   

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

homemade ravioli... semi-fail

i tried.  i put forth a good effort.  it wasnt a total fail but it wasnt a success either... 

so, ive had this pasta maker for a good year now.  this was the first time i used it :)  it was much easier than i thought it would be but having an extra pair of hands would have been nice when rolling out the sheets of dough.

ravioli ingredients

4 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup water

filling ingredients

1 green pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon basil
1 14.5 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes, drained WELL
1 egg

(ok, the filling ingredients were just random things i had around the kitchen.  i didnt follow a certain recipe)

1. in an electric mixer, first mix together eggs and gradually add flour and water.  continue mixing until formed into a ball.  on a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a ball and kneed until elastic and smooth.  set aside in a covered bowl.

2. in a small bowl, combine filling ingredients.  make sure all ingredients are drained well or it will make your ravioli slimy and impossible.  (trust me) :) 

3. take dough and divide it in half and divide in half again.  take each section and make into a rectangle.  
4. on the widest setting, roll each rectangle through the pasta machine 3 or 4 times. 

5. dust the counter with flour before laying out sheets of dough.  brush each sheet with an egg wash.   (oops, forgot to mention youll need another egg for that.  i added just a little milk also)

6. ok, so this is the part that got tricky for me and where i slowly started failing.  my filling wasnt drained as well as i thought it was.  i (literally) did step 5 and 6 four times.  you take a tablespoon full of filling and drop it on half of the sheet of dough.  space out each tablespoon of filling about 2 inches apart and then fold over the other half of the dough to cover the filling.  note: there are no pictures of this process.  this part turned into a disaster for me and i was so messy and frustrated that i couldnt pick up the camera.  i ended up scraping off the filling and having to reroll the dough because the filling wasnt drained enough, it was a big sloppy mess.  

(fyi - this is what its supposed to look like)

7.  this is how mine turned out.

no, not horrible but not how i wanted them to turn out.  

8. cook the ravioli in boiling water for 10-15 mins.  

i chose an alfredo sauce and honestly, they werent too bad.  since they were enormous, i only ate two.  maybe i will know better next time and be able to make these with a little more ease.  
(hahaha, yeah... right)

Friday, July 16, 2010

banana cake with fudge frosting

it just sounds amazing, doesnt it?

this recipe i found on the better crocker website.  it sounded too good to pass up so i thought, why not?  

banana cake ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter (i used applesauce)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 large)

fudge frosting

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter (again, used applesauce)
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. heat oven to 350ºF. grease bottom and sides of rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.  in medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.

2. in large bowl, beat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup applesauce with electric mixer on high speed, scraping bowl occasionally.  (i used my kitchen aid.  btw, i hope you dont think im bragging about my amazing, beautiful kitchen aid mixer.  im just letting you know... trying to be very specific.)  :)  beat in eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. gradually beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk until smooth. stir in bananas. pour into pan.

3.  bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. cool completely.

(at this point, the pups were very bored with my running around the kitchen.  they were not impressed with my skills.)

4.  meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, mix 1 cup granulated sugar and the cocoa. stir in milk, 1/4 cup applesauce and the honey. heat to boiling, stirring frequently. boil 3 minutes, keep stirring; remove from heat. beat in powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla with spoon until smooth and spreadable. spread fudge frosting on cooled cake.

ok, ill be honest.  i put the cake in the fridge for about 15 mins and then decided to dump the frosting on it before it totally cooled.  i put it back in the fridge and it seems to be just fine.

there is just as much frosting as there is cake!!! :)

whole wheat veggie calzone

so, the other day i was a little frustrated with not having a job.  while im still not thrilled about being unemployed, days like today make it worth it.  even if its just for a little bit....

ive found a new food blog that ive become quite fond of.  tammys recipes is the blog of a stay at mother who just started blogging about what she is making.  she has a lot of great recipes and i have a feeling i will be making a few more of her creations.

the recipe i tried out today were the calzone.  i figured calzones couldnt be that difficult and i was correct :)

Calzone Dough Ingredients:

1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 to 3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon dry yeast
Filling Ingredients:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup pizza sauce (i didnt have pizza sauce so i used tomato sauce with some basil, rosemary and garlic thrown in)
1/3 cup roasted red pepper vinaigrette
1 package morning star meal starters chicken strips
1/2 cup yellow corn

1 large carrot, finely shredded
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cups shredded mexican blend cheese

1. prepare whole wheat calzone dough by putting ingredients (in order listed) into a large bowl (i used my kitchen aid), using about 2 cups of the flour. stir to combine; continue adding flour and knead mixture.  knead 5 minutes. let dough rest while you prepare the filling.
2. in a skillet, cook the chicken strips.  remove from heat.

3. in a large bowl, mix filling ingredients. 
4. divide dough into 6 equal pieces. roll each piece into a 7-inch circle on a lightly floured surface.  (dont break out the ruler... i just rolled mine out to be thinner than a pizza crust but thicker than a tortilla)

5. top half of each circle with about 3/4 cup of the filling mixture, spreading to within one inch of the edge. fold dough over filling and crimp edges to seal, leaving a half-circle.

6. place calzones on greased cookie sheets.  bake at 375 degrees until bread is cooked and filling is hot, about 25-30 minutes. cover loosely with foil part way through baking if calzones start to brown too quickly.

mine are still in the oven as we speak.  i probably will wait until richard is home to eat anyway.... i did have some leftover which wasnt a problem at all.  i took some of the pita bread i made a few days ago and put the filling inside.  it was quite tasty!! :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

red bean lasagna

for the record.... being unemployed was fun at first but now it is really starting to suck.  im bored, broke and about to pull my hair out.  i can only clean the house so much and its too damn hot to be outside actually do something productive.  im not a big tv watcher so i rarely turn it on during the day.  argh.  

sooooo... lasagna.  really simple and a little different.  it doesnt require too many ingredients either.

1 15 oz can of red beans, drained
1 clove garlic, minced (i used a little more)
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained (i used diced tomatoes with onion and green pepper)

  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cold milk
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (i didnt have this so i used a shredded mozzarella and provolone mix) its safe to say you will probably use an 8oz bag for the entire recipe.
  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles

1. preheat oven to 350.
2. heat a skillet with some olive oil and add garlic.  
3. mix in beans, tomatoes and green peppers.  cook for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally.
4. in another pan, melt butter and gradually add flour.
5. slowly add milk and then the cheese until slightly thickened.
6. in a 7x11 pan (you can use a 9x9 pan as well) lay 1/2 of the bean mixture on the bottom of the pan.  top with 3 of the lasagna noodles and then add another layer of bean mixture.  
7. before topping with the remaining noodles, sprinkle on some of the shredded cheese mixture that was used earlier.  
8. after topping with the remaining noodles, cover with sauce and add some more shredded cheese.  (you can never have too much cheese) :)
9. bake for 20 mins or until slightly browned.

so, to be honest... i havent tasted this yet.  instead of baking it, i put it in the freezer for later.  the day i decide to cook it though, i will let it thaw in the fridge first before putting in the oven.

Monday, May 17, 2010

puppy dog treats!

ive been wanting to make homemade dog treats for awhile now but i had never gotten around to it.  well, finally today, i did!!

have you met charlie?  she is a yorkie poo and one of the sweetest little things i have ever met.  for a little dog, she is very calm and hardly ever barks.  she loves taking rides in the car and in my basket on my bike :)  for being four pounds though, she has tons of energy.  she will run and run and run until she makes herself sick... and then she will run some more.  haha.  she is a very good pup though and follows me around no matter where i am going.

these treats were really easy to make and more than likely, you have all of the ingredients in your house already.

peanut butter honey drops

1 cup rolled oats
1 egg
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup shortening (i used butter since its all i had)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1.  preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  heat the honey and peanut butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
3.  combine the rest of the ingredients with the honey and peanut butter mixture.
4.  drop by 1/2 teaspoonful onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 10 mins.
5.  turn off oven but leave cookies in for about 5-7 mins. longer.
6.  take out and leave on cookie sheet.  let totally cool.

this makes about 40 treats so i would recommend freezing some and keeping the rest in the refrigerator.

i tried one... they arent too bad.  charlie likes them too :)  if you have any dog treat recipes, id love to try them out!

the one meat recipe i will actually eat

as you know, i am a vegetarian.  i was never a big meat eater to begin with and i definitely didnt eat seafood.  i found this recipe though as i was looking for something easy and quick that richard could take for lunch.  turns out, i like this a lot and found myself snacking on it too :)

ingredients are...

  • 1 loaf french bread
  • 1 small sweet onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 (12 ounce) can tuna, drained
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (which of course i made from my own recipe)

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. in a mixing bowl, combine sweet onion, drained tuna, mozzarella, and mayonnaise. mix well.
  3. spread tuna mixture on slices of french bread.
  4. bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

super simple and quite delicious.  

Thursday, May 6, 2010

mary mary quite contrary, how does amanda's garden grow?

After a weeks of alternating between peanut butter and strawberry sandwiches and peanut butter and cheese sandwiches, I think it's safe to say, I'm sure not cooking a damn thing. So here's what's happening in the garden.

The lettuce is still alive and thriving. I keep trying to convince people to pluck one of those little guys and let me know if it tastes like lettuce, but not takers.

There's a fungus among us! In this container we have one random green bean sprout and a heck of a lot of okra. And what's that, fungus, how'd that get there?

Green beans!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm sure they're smiling.

And look at those dancing snap pea plants tango-ing with the tomatoes.

And last, but not least my peppers.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cooking, Crafting, and Cropping with Cocktails? Hmmm...

I guess we'll have to call it Cooking, Crafting, and Cropping with Cocktails. Or perhaps just Amanda and Megan drink and do cool things.

Well, as part of my spring resolution to eat healthier, I've started a tiny container garden on my tiny back deck, with the added fun of pumpkins in the front yard (don't tell my landlord this).

This past weekend I invited my handy father to drive to Louisville to construct my garden while my mom and I shopped. It was a great plan and he fell hook, line, and sinker. We started out at the Home Depot and purchased some seeds, pots, dirt, screws, twine, and some tools that he was sure he needed and constructed this beauty!

I have lettuce, basil, rosemary, sage, parsley, peas, green beans, okra, tomatoes, and peppers. So far I've only planted up to the peas in that list. Just 5 days later and I've got sprouts! I feel like I've birthed my first child (it's obvious I have none, nor the intention of having any). I'm just that excited to see their new faces.

For their first debut, my peas.

And the little lettuces. How cute are they? Of course the next step is thinning the lettuce out, which will make me severely sad. What if I pluck the wrong ones?

And last but not least, the herbs. I bought these as plants so I could begin using them asap.

If you too would like to start a garden, or just pretend to share mine if your Megan, I suggest you check out the book "The Bountiful Container" by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey. It's packed full of tips and tricks of the trade.