January 26, 2010

I know, I've neglected my blogging duties.

So, to make up for it, here's a big post. :)

I made a tasty and unique pizza for Mr. Zach and myself the other night, and unlike my previous pizza attempts, I made the crust from scratch! :)

-1 package Active Dry Yeast
-1 cup Warm Water (105 To 115 Degrees)
-2-½ cups All-purpose Flour
-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
-1 teaspoon Sugar
-1 teaspoon Salt

-about 3 tbsp. of your favorite pesto (we kinda eyeballed it. go to taste here.)
-a good handful of spinach, wilted in a skillet for a few minutes
-8-10 white button mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
-1/2 a yellow onion, diced and sauteed
-2 or 3 cloves of peeled garlic, minced
-1 nice lookin' tomato, diced
-sliced green olives (on Zach's half)
-1-1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
-freshly grated parmesan to taste

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Add next 4 ingredients, stir. Give a quick knead (just in bowl), drizzle with olive oil and let rest in a warm place – 30 minutes.

In a skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil, and wilt your spinach in it. Set the spinach aside, then go ahead and saute your onion, garlic and mushrooms. Season them with some salt and pepper, you'll thank yourself for it later. :)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle a pizza pan with a small amount of olive oil, punch down dough and gently fit it to the pan. Dot dough with a fork, sprinkle on some garlic powder and bake for 10 minutes. (I have the kind of pizza pan with the little holes in it, which make the crust a little more toasty. very nice! ^_^) Spread your pesto atop your crust, then layer your toppings. Zach likes to have a small middle layer of cheese (to stick the ingredients together), then the rest of the toppings and topped with the rest of the cheese. Season the top with a sprinkle of basil and, for added class and pizazz, add some freshly ground black pepper. Put that glorious pie back in the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Let sit 5 minutes, cut and serve!

Tonight's menu featured Cobb Salad and Bananas Foster. Yum and Yum! The light nature of the salad totally made it okay to have such a decadent dessert. LOL :)

- 1 bag mixed baby greens
- 2 roma tomatoes, quartered
- 1 avocado, quartered
- 2 hard boiled eggs, cut into slices width-wise
- 4-6 strips of bacon, cooked to crunchy
- 6-8 slices of thinly sliced deli turkey
- 1/2 cup of shredded Cheddar/Jack cheese
- BBQ Ranch Dressing (see below)

I started by making my hard boiled eggs by following the method outlined by The Incredible Edible Egg. I have never in my life made so perfect a hard boiled egg. They were mah-velous. I let them cool in cold running water while I put the salad dressing together. (see still below. ^_^)

While the dressing chilled, I cooked my bacon. I get the "fully cooked" bacon that you just heat and serve. I cooked it to crunchy in a skillet, and let it cool in a folded paper towel. Then, I crumbled it and put it aside.

I cut the deli turkey into little pieces and warmed it up in the skillet with a dash of pepper and some chili powder. Once it was done, I assembled the other toppings (quartered tomatoes and avocados, sliced eggs, crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, and the aforementioned turkey).

To serve, I put a handful of the greens in a bowl, and topped with all the goodies, then drizzled the dressing on. Yum! :)

Prepare Ranch Dressing using Hidden Valley seasoning packet, following directions on reverse of packet. Reserve about 1/3 of the dressing mixture in a small bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of your favorite Barbecue sauce, stir well, and chill for 30 minutes.

For the Bananas Foster, I prepared Alton Brown's Recipe, via the Food Network website (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/bananas-foster-recipe/index.html).

* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) dark brown sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
* 1 tablespoon banana liqueur
* 2 under ripe bananas, sliced in half lengthwise
* 1/4 cup dark rum
* 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest


Melt butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over low heat. Add brown sugar, allspice and nutmeg and stir until sugar dissolves. Add banana liqueur and bring sauce to simmer. Add bananas and cook for 1 minute on each side, carefully spooning sauce over bananas as they are cooking. Remove bananas from pan to a serving dish. Bring sauce to a simmer and carefully add the rum. If the sauce is very hot, the alcohol will flame on its own. If not, using stick flame, carefully ignite and continue cooking until flame dies out, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. If sauce is too thin, cook for 1 to 2 minutes until it is syrupy in consistency. Add orange zest and stir to combine. Immediately spoon the sauce over bananas and serve. Serve with waffles, crepes, or ice cream.

I omitted the orange zest. It turned out good, albeit a little "rummy". An adventure in cooking with real fire!!! :D

Anyway, I'm alive, and will definitely be more regular in my cooking, though maybe not in my posting. Since the last, I've changed job locations and am still settling into a routine. I need to cook more anyway. I gained 10 pounds over the holidays from eating too many baked goods and fast food lunches... oops!

Eat well! (but not TOO well... hee hee!) :)