Monday, August 18, 2008

Taste Buds Temporarily Disabled

I have been fighting a sinus infection for over three months now, and it's finally taken a toll on my taste buds. Everything I've eaten in the past few days has tasted funky to me. I'll be putting on hold all recipes until I can figure out what is going on.

I'll refrain from explaining exactly what I've been doing to try and get rid of this, but I do want to share one thing. The sign of a good marriage is when you can watch the other person use a neti pot and still find them attractive.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why you should clean out your frdige on a regular basis

As much as I love my father and step-mother, they have one really disturbing habit. They are unwilling to throw away anything in the fridge, ever. We have found ranch dressing two years past it's expiration date, four year old mustard, ten year old hot sauce, and the most disturbing find of all, a sixteen year old spice blend. Yes, the spice blend was old enough to drive. I also think they have dried herbs from the Johnson administration, but they aren't dated so it's harder to prove.

After growing up with this, I've tried very hard to make sure that there's nothing too far past it's time left in my fridge. Last night was my tossing binge. Most expired items were only two to three months old, but I did find two year old mustard. The rest of the tossed items prove that I'm a giant yuppie, in case I needed more proof. Included were a merlot-herb marinade, sun dried tomato tapenade, applewood smoked bacon, and homemade basil butter. I still have 6 dozen straight from the farm eggs if anyone needs some.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sweet Potato Fries

A certain someone (ahem..Jen) is a little obsessed with sweet potato fries. I hadn't had them for a very long time until she made them for me on Saturday.

(Side note - I was over there starting a quilt so Teddy wouldn't try and eat the fabric and/or step on stray pins. The quilt is now halfway quilted and I might actually finish it by the end of the month.)

After I had them, I began to crave them again in about three hours. Last night I was able to talk Matt into letting me make them. He couldn't remember if he liked them or not, so I gave him permission eat ice cream with dinner if he didn't. Of course he did, so they are now going to become a regular menu item at our house.

Sweet Potato Fries
Makes enough for two sides

2 sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut into 1/4" fries
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray. Place fries on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and toss to cover. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and pepper over fries and toss again until well combined. Bake for 30 - 45 minutes (check starting at 25 minutes to make sure no edges are burning) and broil for the last five minutes to make a little crisper.

Monday, August 11, 2008

In honor of the Olympics

We are searching for a new place for Chinese food. The place we used to get Chinese food from has been going down hill for the past year. Nothing is tasting as good as it used to, and the portions are getting smaller. We've tried a couple of other places but haven't found one we really like. Does anyone have a place that they like for Chinese food delivery?

In Olympic news, I heart the swim team. I've teared up at a couple of the races, especially the 4 x 100 relay last night. It was amazing and will go down as one of the greatest races I will ever see. Sort of like how the Wimbledon finals this year will always be one of the best matches I have ever seen.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pizza Dough Take 3

Or clearly Alicia gets obsessed with something and feels the need to make it three times in a week.

Last night I made pizza dough again, but this time I used whole wheat flour. While it was very good (pictures will be coming soon) there were a couple of things I noticed different with the whole wheat flour. First, for the half recipe I used almost 2 1/2 c. of w.w. flour instead of the 1 1/2 of a.p flour. Second, and this is probably because of the increase in flour, it definitely needed a little more honey in the dough.

For toppings I used a caramelized onion (see Alicia obsession above) and tomato saute from Sunday night. It was a take off on this recipe from Gourmet ( that was on the cover two months ago. Since we messed with the original recipe so much, and didn't use make the full batch, I'll post what we did and you can also take what you like from each. At some point I will follow the original recipe, and I'll let you know how that compared to my version.

3 small onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 c. basil leaves, julienned
1 tsp. thyme leaves, chopped
2 TB olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In 1 TB of olive oil, saute onions (sprinkled with salt and pepper) over medium heat until just starting to get color. Add garlic and thyme and continue to saute until onions and garlic are golden brown. Remove from heat, and scrape into a bowl. Return pan to heat, add remaining olive oil, and add tomatoes when oil is hot but not smoking. Saute until tomatoes start to split their skins, then add back onion and garlic mixture, add basil, and season to taste. serve over sliced flank steak. (We marinated our flank steak in 1/2 bottle of pinot noir leftover from Friday night, garlic powder, touch of honey, smoked sea salt, and chipotle powder for 3 hours, then grilled it for four minutes per side.)

While I liked the flavors mine turned out almost like a chutney. Because I had used the beefsteak tomatoes they let out much more juice than the cherry tomatoes, and combined with the caramelized onions, it was really thick. Of course being so think made it a great topping for pizza.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Zucchini Bread

Or what to do when your boss hands you a zucchini the size of your head. And you already have 3 small ones at home from the CSA.

I absolutely love zucchini bread. Especially toasted and smeared with peanut butter for breakfast. When I was little it was the only way I would eat zucchini. We used to get so many from our neighbors (we never grew any vegetables) that my mother once threatened to make zucchini toothpaste. Thankfully it never came to that.

For this recipe (and I can't believe I found a Paula Deen recipe without butter or shortening) I omitted the nuts, dropped the sugar to 2 cups, and substituted 1 c. of applesauce for the vegetable oil. It's moist (almost to the point of sticky) and holds up well in the freezer. It would go in the "Freezes Beautifully" section of my cookbook.

Zucchini Bread
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
2 cups grated zucchini
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 5 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Not food related

But this is what Teddy did when Matt went out to get bagels and coffee on Sunday morning. The picture itself is a from a couple of months ago, but you get the idea. She stared out the window watching him walk to the car and stayed there until the car drove away. It's even funnier if you see it from the street because all you can see are the tops of her ears.

I made that pizza dough my bitch

Thursday's pizza done wrong really bothered me all day on Friday, so I decided that I had to conquer it. I made the dough again on Friday night, making sure to put in only 1 1/2 cups of flour, adding 2 1/2 TB of olive oil, and baking at 450 degrees. I rolled the dough out into one large rectangular pizza (basically filling a rimmed cookie sheet), brushed the pizza with olive oil, topped with caramelized onions and garlic, Parmesan, and mozzarella. Bake for 12 minutes and it was a perfect appetizer for dinner. At least it was perfect for those people eating flour and dairy. Sorry Jen.

This is the pizza dough recipe from Barefoot Contessa that I used, but I only made a half recipe.
For the dough:
1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110 degrees F) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 3 cups flour, then the salt, and mix. While mixing, add 1 more cup of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and roll each one into a smooth ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature. Roll and stretch each ball into a rough 8-inch circle and place them all on baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. (You will be able to fit 2 pizzas on each 18 by 13-inch baking sheet.)

I was really happy with the outcome, and I don't know if it's the weather in my kitchen or the flour that I use (I use King Arthur Flour which has less gluten than normal flour) but I really think that I have to add the extra olive oil and cut back on the flour for it to work.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pizza dough issues

From time to time I get a craving for pizza made from scratch. Now I am the biggest fan of Papa John's pineapple pizza, and will certainly eat it cold for breakfast the morning after we've ordered it, but there's something about homemade dough with the exact toppings you're craving that's wonderful. Except when it all goes wrong. I usually have pretty good success with the Barefoot Contessa pizza dough recipe, especially when I don't use as much flour and add an extra TB of olive oil, but last night it ended poorly. Most of that is my fault, I had a phone call interrupt my dough making for about 40 minutes and spilled in more flour than I meant to, but it was not at all forgiving. The recipe also calls for the pizzas to be cooked in a 500 degree oven for 15 minutes. I usually only turn the oven up to 450, but for some reason last night I choose to go with 500 degrees. Poor decision. The edges of the pizzas were burned before the middle had cooked and it all happened in 8 minutes. Matt's poor pizza also got a huge air bubble in the dough that took up almost half the top of his pizza. Thankfully he had opted for a white pizza so it didn't make too big of a mess, but it was a little bananas. My caramelized onion, red pepper, yellow tomato, and goat cheese pizza had a great flavor combo, but the middle was pretty raw.
Overall the evening's dinner was disappointing, but there were bright spots. I think every homemade pizza I make from now on will have to have caramelized onions. I also should make twice as much caramelized onion as I think I will need because Matt stole some to munch on and then stole half to put on his pizza. Topping thief.