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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Multigrain Pizza Dough

Makes two 14-inch pizzas.  From America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.

1 3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup (5oz) seven-grain hot cereal mix
2-2 1/4 cup bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

1.  Stir the boiling water and cereal mix together and let stand, covered loosely about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  It will turn into a thick porridge and be warm (about 110 degrees).

2.  Pulse2 cups of bread flour, whole wheat flour, yeast and salt until just combined.  Dollop the porridge over the top and drizzle on the olive oil.  Process for 30-40 seconds until a rough dough ball forms.

3.  Let the dough rest for 2 minutes and repeat 30 seconds longer.  If the dough is sticky and clings to the blade add a little flour 1 T at a time, pulsing to incoporate.

4.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured countered and knead into a smooth, round ball.  Place dough in a large, lightly greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size 1-1.5 hours before using.  Or you can put the dough in the fridge for up to 16 hours ahead of time, letting it come to room temperature 30 minutes before using.*

5.  To bake, preheat oven to 475-500 degrees using a pizza stone is optimal.  Divide the dough in half.  Roll out dough into a 14-inch round.  Brush the edges of the dough with olive oil if desired.  Spread pizza sauce, top with cheese, toppings, etc.  Bake until the edges are brown and the cheese is golden in spots 8-13 minutes.

*You can also freeze the dough.  Wrap it very tightly in grease plastic wrap.  Then wrap it again with more plastic wrap and freeze.  Let the frozen dough thaw on the counter about 3 hours or 24 hours in the fridge before using.

Spinach Salad with Sweet-Spicy Nuts, Apples, Feta and Bacon

This salad is super yummy!  The bacon, cheese, apples, and sweet spicy nuts ,etc are a delicious combination.  Slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  Served with grilled chicken it's a great entree.


16 ounces baby spinach
½ small red onion, slivered
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled or chopped into small pieces
1 cup Feta cheese crumbles, more or less to taste
1 cup dried cranberries or cherries, more or less to taste
1-2 crisp apples, cored and sliced thin

Sweet Spicy Nuts:

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of cayenne (more to taste if you want)
Pinch of salt

Red Wine Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, pressed or finely minced
1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
Fresh cracked pepper to taste

For the dressing, shake all the ingredients together in a mason jar until well combined or run them through a quick blender cycle. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The dressing can be made up to a week in advance.

For the nuts, lightly toast the nuts in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, checking often so they don't burn. While they toast, place the sugar, cayenne and salt in a skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the sugar mixture until it liquifies completely, adjusting the heat so it doesn't bubble and burn….this takes awhile but you have to watch it.  When it starts to liquefy it happens fast and can quickly burn.  Quickly toss in the toasted nuts and stir to coat the nuts with sugar.   Spread out on waxed paper and let the sugared nuts cool completely.

To assemble the salad, toss all the salad ingredients together along with the cooled nuts. Serve immediately with the vinaigrette on the side.

Baked Brown Rice

The main way I cook brown rice.  It does require longer, prep but the rice cooks up so nicely not like soggy brown rice. I always make a 9x13 pan size, and freeze half of it for a later meal.  Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

3 cups brown rice
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water (if using water, add 1 teaspoon salt)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9x13 glass* baking pan. Place the rice in the prepared pan and pour in the liquid. Stir to equally distribute the rice. Cover tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 10-15 minutes.  I like to check it after 1 hour, peeking at the bottom to make sure it’s not burning.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before removing the aluminum foil and fluffing with a fork.

*If your rice still has a bit of liquid on the bottom or conversely, if it is dried out, adjust the baking time up or down to make changes.  I like to use a glass pan so I can check on it before fluffing it.  One hour and fifteen minutes is usually perfect in my oven.

M&M Rainbow Cookies

makes about 18 large cookies

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of salted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mini M&M’s

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Take eggs out of the fridge if needed.  Melt butter and set aside.  

Using a whisk mix the flour and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the butter and sugars until they are combined.  Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed.

Gradually add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms – it will look crumbly at first, but it will come together. Fold in the m&m’s.

Shape the dough into large 2T size dough balls.  I literally use my tablespoon measure to scoop the dough.  After shaping the dough balls try this baking tip:  tear the dough balls in half so you’re left with 2 pieces.  Each piece has a jagged side and a smooth side.  Squish the smooth sides of each half together and place the rough edges facing up and down to make what my girls call "bumpy snowmen". Place the dough with a rough-side up on a baking sheets leaving about about 2 inches in between each cookie.

Bake for 8minutes at 350 degrees.  Then turn the oven up to 375 and bake for 2-3 more minutes. or until the edges are slightly brown. The centers should be soft and puffy. Transfer to cooling rack after about a couple of minutes.

For smaller cookies, just use 1 tablespoon of dough and decrease baking time by about 2 minutes.
Slightly adapted from here (check out the site for some great photos of these amazing cookies!).  I modified the directions, upped the baking temperature, and subbed whole wheat flour.

Brown Rice

Different from conventional methods of cooking rice, this is more like cooking pasta--you bring the water to boil first, add the rice and boil with the lid off.  Drain, then return to the pot off the heat and let steam with the lid tightly on for 10-15 more minutes.  And voila!  no more soggy brown rice.  While I primarily make the baked brown rice since it's more hands-off, this is my fall back recipe when I don't have an hour and half of prep time.  From Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

1 cup brown rice (any kind basmati, jasmine, etc)
6 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring water to a boil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. While the water is coming to a boil, rinse the rice under cold water for 30 seconds. When the water comes to a boil, stir in the rice and salt, stirring once.

Boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Pour the water off the rice into a colander in the sink. Let the rice drain quickly for just 10-15 seconds.  Then pour it back into the pot while still moist.  

Put the pot on the stove but off the heat.  Immediately cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. If your lid isn't really tight, place a kitchen towel over the pot before nesting the lid tightly into the pot. Let the rice steam for 10-15 minutes before uncovering the pot and fluffing the rice with a fork. Season with more salt, if desired.