Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Unintentionally Vegan Pizza

Well I may not be a vegan, but I sure have been eating like one lately! Thanks to a recommendation from my friend Marilyn, I whipped up some delicious dairy and soy free pizza for dinner. It was actually a random coincidence that after she mentioned her favorite pizza toppings - sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and caramelized onions - I found them all on sale at Safeway (all in on spot on display, too - it was DEFINITELY a sign.)

I have a confession to make - I had no idea how to caramelize onions. I am, however, an expert at burning them :) Thanks to eHow.com, I muddled through it! I LOVE that site!!

It's like I've been doing it my whole life!!

I used an old focaccia bread recipe I had for the crust (I took a cue from Buddy the Cake Boss) and the pizza was absolutely delicious. I can't take credit for the crust recipe though, it's from Breaking Bread with Father Dominic. The recipe used to be posted online, but I can't find the link anymore so I'll go ahead and share it with you! For the record, it's slightly altered because I don't have a bread machine and it was originally intended to be a loaf, not pizza crust...

Focaccia Bread Pizza Crust

1 cup + 3 Tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons rosemary
3 cups flour

Mix yeast and warm water together. Stir in oil, salt, and rosemary. Slowly add flour until dough forms an easy to handle ball. (I mixed with my hands at the end.) Place dough ball on a lightly floured surface; cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Form pizza crust on pan greased in olive oil (I made two personal pizzas, but you could very easily make one large crust). Cover and let rise in warm place for about 30 minutes. Add desired toppings, and bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.

I think the only thing I will change for next time is to make the crust thinner. What can I say - I'm from New York! Enjoy!!

Kidnapped: Kitchen Edition

I've been taken hostage by my kitchen, somewhat willingly. I'm here to share what I've been doing in my absense from blogging and to try to explain to my mom why I'm too busy to call to her when she knows I'm snowed in :)

3 dozen dairy & soy free banana muffins, 6 loaves of banana bread, and a loaf of italian bread in my freezer

Chicken and rice soup with italian bread


Italian bread

Chicken and squash over penne with basil sauce

Homemade Gnocci

Chicken in mushroom sauce with garlic hasselback potatoes

Bourbon chicken over brown rice

Penne with homemade pasta sauce

Failed italian round loaf

Homemade pasta sauce, simmering

Dairy free oatmeal bread

Acorn squash, roasting in the oven

All I have to say is...cooking is a LOT of work. Especially when it has to be dairy and soy free (yes, that's right...we've added soy to the off-limits list...the rescheduled allergist appointment is on Thursday, but since the roads aren't clear and we're anticipating 10-20 more inches of snow tonight, there's a good chance that's not going to happen). I'm pretty proud of myself though, and I hope it will all get easier as I get more practice in the kitchen.

In other news, I plan on migrating to wordpress in the very near future, so after that is done we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming around here, including a bread down on all the cooking/baking! I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping we don't lose power around here during the Snowpocalypse...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Adventures in Veggie Land

Last week, I decided to switch it up a bit and head down to Harris Teeter for my produce. I usually only shop at HT during super double/triple coupon weeks, and never for produce. I felt like I was walking into a new world...Goodbye, wilted greens and hello fresh local produce and giant organic selection!! They even have a "reduced for quick sale" section where I found some GREAT deals on apples and oranges, and there were a few big bags of limes for a dollar! It's a little out my way to shop there every week, but after that trip I'm going to have a hard time going back to Safeway.

When I got home, I took Sunny Anderson's advice to heart and decided to prep all my produce as soon as I got in the door. I got a lot of stuff...and it was a lot of work. But wow, was it worth it! When my blood sugar is low and I head to the kitchen, apparently it's too much work for me to wash and cut an apple or green pepper or carrot or whatever. I realize how pathetic that sounds, but it's true. When I open the refrigerator now and see a bag of veggies all cut and ready to snack on, I take them out and eat them, often passing up the cookies on the counter or tortilla chips in the cupboard. (Ok, ok, sometimes I eat them AFTER the veggies. The point is I'm eating the veggies!!) It has most definitely saved me a ton of time to get all my cleaning and chopping done at once, and I love that I'm not pulling out my cutting board every single day! That gets SO old.

While I'm on the subject of cleaning and prepping veggies, I've been doing a little research on the best way to be doing the cleaning. My mom has been telling me to fill a big bowl with water and vinegar and let them soak, and then to rinse them off with water. I know you should ALWAYS listen to your mom, but even she tells me I should use Google before calling her :) I found an article on the NPR web site detailing some research on the best way to clean your produce, and sure enough, vinegar is the winner! Mom, you've been doing it exactly right. Imagine that...

I leave you with a shot of a few of my beautiful veggies in their vinegar bath.

I'm curious, how do you all clean your veggies? Any other methods out there I don't know about? I recently watched an episode of Taboo where some freegans washed their produce in a bleach solution, but I personally can't see myself feeding Ava food with possible chemical residue...

Call me crazy, but I think it's a miracle...

Either I was imagining tooth pain, or I've been miraculously healed.

I showed up at the dentist last week to have him poke and prod around in my mouth asking "Does this hurt?", "Does that hurt?", "How about now??". The answers were no, no, and a big no. I felt a little silly...Now it's no secret that I have slight hypochondriac tendencies, but I've been stiff in my resolve to avoid Ibuprofen while nursing until this toothache came along. Doesn't that prove that this was serious stuff?? The dentist suggested it might have been sinus pain causing the ache, but I'm just going to go ahead and chalk this one up to a miracle. Thank you very much to everyone who prayed for me :)

My tooth is better, but I've still been on and off with this pesky fever that has been plaguing me since Christmas. I went to the doctor again last night, and she suggested what I was already pretty sure of: I'm tired and run down and I'm catching every little bug that comes my way. She told me one of my ears isn't looking good and there's a good chance it will be turning into an ear infection, so I've got her direct number for another antibiotic if the need arises. Wahoo. As I've said before, I'm very thankful that Stephen and Ava's immune systems are handling things better...

Speaking of Ava's immune system, she has been sick exactly one day of her life so far. Of course, that day happened to be the same one as her appointment with the allergist that we've been waiting a month and a half to see. We rescheduled for this month, but I have no news on the allergy front other than it seems to be flaring up again suddenly, so I'm just hoping and praying no other allergies are making an appearance. I've been forced to get even more creative with my cooking and I've been taking plenty of pictures, so hopefully I'll have the run-down for you later this afternoon!

Stay warm, everyone...