Monday, April 26, 2010

In Search of Perfect Pizza Crust, Part 1

My first attempt at homemade pizza crust, circa summer 2007.

I'm really digging the shot of my former kitchen, pre-IKEA makeover. I am spoiled rotten now with my walls of storage and my stove with four working gas burners. This lovely cooktop above had one reliable burner, but when you turned it on the back burner warmed too. Didn't seem to matter much at the time. I still cooked like mad back then.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Quick Meal Friday: Slow Cooker Veggie Chili

Sometimes you just know the dinner hour is going to be rough. A late softball practice, an afterschool playdate, a cranky baby on vaccination day, three solid days of rain... (I know you know what I mean...) It would be so easy to stop at Rubio's or pick up a pizza. With three kids now, those days could happen rather frequently, and, since we keep our dining out to an absolute minimum (maybe once a month), I need a different solution.

Aha! I pull out my slow cooker!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Backyard Honey

Apologies for missing a Quick Meal Friday last week. I had an important date with a beekeeper.

We had a honeybee hive under the floorboards of our playhouse-in-progress. The photo above shows the long strip of floorboard lifted up, revealing a substantial honey production facility underneath.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cookbook Review: Jamie's Food Revolution

I've never cooked from one of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks, but I did get a kick out of his Food Network show a couple years ago. Anyone who can take the intimidation out of cooking gets a pat on the back from me. To see an everyday Joe puttering around in his garden in torn jeans, shaking up salad dressings in jam jars (my favorite method), and serving delicious food without a lot of fuss about napkins and fine silver... I hope his viewers really do believe that anyone can cook.

This book is so convincing. Anyone really CAN cook.

Even if you've never cooked before, or have but hate it, this book is for you. The photos of regular folks in their kitchens, proudly showing off the dishes they made, might just convince the most reluctant cook that making dinner - from scratch, with fresh ingredients - is not such an impossible feat.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Potato Gratin

Now and then I like to spice up my penny-pinching, and cooking from the pantry (and fridge) - without a panicked grocery store trip - often works. There are always leftover items purchased because it was on sale or it was for a dish that wasn't made or, in the case of a recent grocery run, because the bagger put someone else's asparagus in my cart.

(I'm not a greedy, evil person. I figured it made up for the time my whole wheat flour did NOT end up in my bags.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Quick Meal Friday: Spring Green Risotto

Someone will be irritated with me for selecting a risotto as a quick meal.

But here's the deal: When I can get so many vegetables into my kiddos with absolutely no complaint (including baby!), this is a busy 30 minutes well spent. I do have one strong suggestion. If you spend much time in the kitchen, you've undoubtedly heard this one before: The secret is mise en place. Take the time to chop and zest and blanch and measure ahead of time, and this delicious dinner will be a cinch.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bread Bake-Off

Well, we had three good months with our pizza/bread stone, and nearly constant bread baking before this happened:

Yikes. Seemed to be the result of a high temperature pizza. (This shot is after I wrangled a yummy dinner off the stone, of course.) More on pizza in a future post, and my quest for the perfect crust.

So - what to do with all my bread dough and a broken stone?

The kids and I staged a bread bake-off, using one dough and two baking methods. We made the European Peasant Bread from Artisan Bread in 5. Not a favorite, incidentally. I guess I like my breads to have either the creamy chew of an all-white bread or the wholesome nuttiness of a whole-grain bread. That in-between range seems bland and indecisive.

Nevertheless, on to the bake-off...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Quick Meal Friday: Chocolate Chip Cookies?!

I bought the April issue of Martha Stewart Living. In the grocery check-out line. Total impulse buy. Never should have happened. I know.

But here's the real confession: I made the chocolate chip cookies in that issue for dinner. Yes, for dinner. Of course I made the kids look like they were eating the preceding Amy's Mac and Cheese and baby carrots. Not sure if I ever managed to eat any growing food of my own before devouring a half dozen of these.

Because these cookies are that good.