Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Potato Pizza

Pizza with a mashed potato and cheddar topping
I got the idea for this recipe from UNO's restaurant. They have a potato skins pizza appetizer that is extremely yummy. So I decided to make my own version at home. I started out by making my pizza dough.

Ingredients for pizza dough:
1 package dry yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup warm water
3-4 cups of flour

I put the yeast, sugar, and olive oil into my bowl, then I add the warm water (as hot as I can get from my faucet) and stir well. Then I add the flour a cup at a time. Usually by the time I get the second cup in, the dough is starting to form a ball. When it does that, I put some flour on the kneading board, and I start to knead the dough. I add another cup or two to get the dough to to stick together without being tacky. Usually, it takes around 3 cups in total, but it all depends.

Spray PAM in a bowl, and put the dough in. Flip the dough to make sure both sides have oil on therm. Then cover the bowl with Saran wrap and a towel. Let the dough sit in a warm spot for around 1 1/2 hours. It will double in size.

After the dough has been rising for an hour, start the mashed potatoes. Peel and cut 2-3 potatoes into pieces (depending on size--the larger the potato, the fewer you need). Put them in a pan, covering with water, and bring to a boil. Boil around 10 to 15 minutes. They are done when you can poke them with a fork, and the potato is soft. Drain the potatoes.

To make mashed potatoes, add around 2 Tbsp butter, an ounce of shredded cheddar cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

After the dough has doubled, get a 13x9 pan. Spray with the pan with PAM. Spread the dough in the pan.

Put the dough in an oven preheated to 400 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes.

Take the dough out, and spread the mashed potatoes over the dough. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top. Bake for another 10-15 minutes till the cheese melts.

For an added touch, you can shred some potatoes, saute, drain off extra oil, and spread over the pizza before serving.

As I always say, EXPERIMENT!!! You can add toppings that you want, or make a different type of mashed potato. Heck, au gratin potatoes might make a nice topping. Enjoy!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Homemade White Pizza

slice of homemade white pizza
I'm sure that there are people out there who think that homemade pizza is just way too difficult to make. Well, I can assure you that even you can make a tasty homemade pizza. I make my dough from scratch, so to do the same, you would have to plan on around two hours before you are sampling the finished product.

To make the dough, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups of flour
Now it's time to start making the dough.
  1. Get a big bowl that you'll use for the dough to raise in. Spray this bowl with some PAM to oil it.
  2. In a small bowl, measure out around 3 cups of flour. 
  3. In a large bowl, put the sugar, olive oil, and yeast.
  4. Add the hot water to the large bowl.
  5. Stir until the ingredients are well mixed.
  6. Add the flour a bit at a time. Use a spoon to mix in the flour.
  7. When the dough starts to form a ball (usually around the 1 1/2 to 2 cup amount), put the dough on a floured cutting board.
  8. Knead in some more flour until the dough is forming a nice, non-sticky ball. Usually, I wind up using around 2 1/2 cups of flour.
  9. Put the dough in the oiled bowl, then flip it so top and bottom are oiled.
  10. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then with a small hand towel.
  11. Put the bowl in a warm place for around 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
You can now start to make the pizza.
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray some PAM on a cookie pan or pizza pan.
  3. Get your dough, and spread it over the pan. Make sure to give the pizza a raised crust.
  4. Bake the crust for 15 minutes.
  5. Take the crust out of the oven, and covered with desired pizza toppings and cook for another 15 minutes or so. I usually set the timer for 12 minutes, and check to see if it needs more time.
When I make pizza, I usually make a white pizza. I buy some good mozzarella cheese, and use the slice side of the grater. Sometimes, I'll sprinkle some feta cheese on the top. I spread some cheese on the pizza, then add some sautéed garlic and onions. Then I add some more cheese. 

Of course, you can put whatever you want on the pizza: mushrooms, tomatoes, fresh basil, spaghetti sauce, meat, etc. Use your imagination to satisfy your taste buds!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Beefy stew

stew with garlic toast
I haven't been making many original recipes lately, but with bone chilling temperatures in Pittsburgh today (hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit), I thought a nice, hearty stew would hit the target. It was too cold to go to the market, so I just used the products I already had at home. You know what that means: you can make substitutions out the wazoo!

  • 1 pound London broil (or similar low fat meat)
  • 4 medium sized potatoes
  • 2 handfuls of baby carrots
  • 2 packages Lipton Onion and Mushroom soup mix
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a casserole dish or roasting pan that would be big enough to hold all the ingredients, mix the 2 packages of soup mix with the flour. Mine was a medium sized round roasting pan with a lid.
  3. Add water to the mix, and stir with a whisk to get everything mixed together.
  4. Cut the meat into big sized cubes. Mine were around 2 inches or a bit under in size. Add to the mix
  5. Peel and chop the potatoes into chunks the same size as the meat. Throw them in with the meat.
  6. Add the carrots, and stir everything up.
  7. Put in the oven. Stir it periodically so it doesn't stick to the bottom, and the stew should be done in around 2 to 2.5 hours.
I made garlic toast from a small loaf of challah bread. For the garlic toast, cut small slices. Put on a baking sheet. Add spreadable margarine or butter of your choosing. Sprinkle dried garlic bits on top. Cook at 400 degrees for around 10 minutes.

You can put the stew over rice or noodles. I think dumplings would be a good idea, which I might try next time. I think I might also put in some peas or green beans instead of carrots next time for a change. 

Recipes are made to be changed and enhanced. Keep that in mind, and don't be afraid to experiment!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Scotch Shortbread

wedge cuts of shortbread
If there's one thing that I LOVE, it's desserts. I love cakes, cookies, and pies. You name it, and I love it! One of my favorite cookies is shortbread, and this is one of my favorite shortbread recipes because it is so easy to make.

All you need is:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter. I use the low-fat butter.
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 cups of flour
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

You'll want to let the butter sit on the counter for around 1/2 hour so it comes to room temperature. This makes it easier to blend in the the sugars. 

You'll bake the shortbread in pie pan. Melt some butter in a sauce pan; then use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter around the bottom and sides of the pie pan.

In a bowl, mix the butter, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and vanilla till it's light and fluffy. It will be very easy to stir and mix. Mix in the flour. Some folks will tell you to mix the flour in with your hands, but  I use a spoon because I'd rather not waste the dough on my fingers when I can make cookies from it.  

Spoon the dough into the pie pan, and spread it around the pan. I plop all the dough into the center of the pie pan, and carefully spread it out.

As an additional treat, you can chop a 1/4 cup of pecans and sprinkle them on top of the dough in the pan. I also added some mini chocolate chips. Lightly press the topping into the dough, just so it doesn't fall off later.

Put the shortbread into the oven for around 45 minutes. The shortbread will be brown around the edges, and when you press on the center with your finger, it will still give a smidge. You don't want it to give a lot, but you also don't want to over bake the cookies.

Take the shortbread out of the oven, and let it cool in the pie pan for around 15 minutes. Using oven mitts, turn the pie pan over onto a cutting board. Cut the pie into 8 pieces, and let it cool some more. Or if you are like me, you start eating as the shortbread is warm.

As you can see, shortbread is very easy to make. Use your imagination, and use some other toppings, like butterscotch or peanut butter chips or caramel. 

Remember that shortbread also makes a good side with a dish of ice cream. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Roasted Chickpeas

roasted chickpeas
One of my favorite snacks is roasted chickpeas. They are a good source of fiber, and boy, are they delicious! If you want to try some, here's what you have to do:
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Get a can of your favorite chickpeas. I usually buy the cheapest kind.
  • Open the can, and dump the contents into a colander. 
  • Rinse the chickpeas. This removes the oil that they were canned in.
  • Dry the chickpeas. You can do this by letting them sit in the colander for a bit, then dump the chickpeas into a paper towel to bloat dry.
  • Combine the following in a small mixing bowl:
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp. cumin
    • 1/2 tsp. paprika
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • 1/2 tsp of salt (or less if you don't like salty things)
  • Add the chickpeas to the mixing bowl, and give a good shake to coat the chickpeas.
  • Spray a small oven tray with Pam olive oil spray.
  • Spread the chickpeas evenly over the tray. They should be in a single layer.
  • Put the chickpeas in the oven for around 45 min. If you want them less crispy, bake them less time.

Be careful with the chickpeas when they first come out of the oven to make sure you don't burn your mouth. If you find that you really, really love the chickpeas, you can make more than one can at a time, as long as you have a big enough oven tray. 

Try some other seasonings too, like Italian, Southwest, or just plain salt and pepper. Experiment, and enjoy the outcome!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tadig (rice with crispy potatoes on the bottom)

Tadig made with instant Minute rice
One of my former bosses was Iranian, and when she would invite me to dinner, she would always have this really tasty rice dish as the side. Crispy potatoes were on the bottom of the rice, and it was a special treat to get the potatoes. It turns out the dish is called Tadig, but all the recipes online called for cooking basmati rice.

Well, I decided to give it a try on my own. I don't have fancy basmati rice; I'm more of a Minute rice type of cook. However, I decided not to let that stop me.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

I got an 8x8 inch Pyrex baking dish. I poured only enough olive oil into the dish to cover the bottom. You don't want the bottom to be dripping in oil, but you need the oil for the crisp.

I peeled a small potato and cut it in thin slices to cover the bottom of the dish. You can sprinkle a bit of salt on the slices of potato.

As I said, I use Minute rice. Not only do I use Minute rice, but I use the kind that cooks in five minutes!  Undaunted, I boiled 1 1/2 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of butter, some salt, and some pepper. When the water came to a boil, I stirred in 1 1/2 cups of rice. Then I poured the mixture on top of the potatoes in the Pyrex dish.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and put it in the oven. Bake for around 90 minutes. It takes that long for the potatoes to crisp, and surprisingly, the Minute rice also turned out just fine!

Since I didn't use a lot of rice, the whole dish had a good crispy texture. You can add more rice if you want.

As you can see by the picture here, it all turned out just great. Even with instant rice, you too can make a very tasty dish of Tadig.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Potato Chip Cookies

Potato chip cookies
I was in the mood to make a different cookie, so I started hunting around for ideas. I found a potato chip cookie recipe that turned out a tasty little treat!

1/2 cup butter (I use light butter and put it out so it gets soft at room temperature)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup of crushed potato chips (comes out to around 1 ounce of chips. I used low salt Wavy Lays)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (around 1.5 ounces of nuts)

1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar (when you smash the cookies before they go into the oven--put this sugar in a small flat dish)
powdered sugar 

Cream the butter, 1/3 cup of sugar, and vanilla until they are well mixed. Add the flour, and mix well. Then add the potato chips and walnuts. Mix it all up really good. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator for around an hour. This will make the dough easy to handle.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Get your dough and ungreased baking sheets. Roll the dough into little balls, and evenly space around the baking sheet. They say 2 inch balls placed 3 inches apart, but use your eyes and common sense with this one. You don't want the cookies to touch when you smash them.

Put some oil on the outside bottom of a glass. Dip the glass into the 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Press the glass down on a cookie. This flattens the cookie and puts some sugar on it.

Put the cookies into the oven for 12-15 minutes. They won't look brown on top, but you can see the bottom browning. That's when they are done. My cookies took the whole 15 minutes.

After they cool on the sheets for around 7 minutes, take the cookies off and put them in a container, and  dust with powdered sugar. 

I only got 2 1/2 dozen cookies from this recipe, so if you are feeding a ravening horde of kids, you may want to double or triple the recipe.