Wednesday, June 6, 2012

pizza & white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.

PIZZA! I love making my own pizza. It's so fun to personalize. From the toppings to the amount of cheese, it's so much fun to make. Plus, making my own pizza means: Portion Control. Whenever we order pizza, we always have way more than what we need to eat. Like, I'm still full after the 2nd slice, but I eat more 'cause it's there. But with the size pan we own, I still make a good size pizza, but only need to eat 1 big slice (which equals 2 smaller slices).

Here we go.

Annelih's Supreme Pizza:
ingredients
Pizza dough from your local supermarket --- (I have yet to make my own pizza dough. Although I love cooking, I haven't ventured into making my own breads or doughs yet. One day.)

Pizza Sauce --- (This I did do from scratch!)
[thank you to www.allrecipes.com for the recipe! --- http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-pizza-sauce-iii/]
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon ground oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground paprika  

Mozzarella cheese. (About 2 cups. More or less. I measure by the handful. But I have small hands.)

Your favorite toppings! I chose:
Green Peppers, diced - 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Fresh Mushrooms, diced - 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Red Onion, diced - 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Pepperoni - 1/4 cup
Canadian Bacon, diced - 1/4 to 1/2 cup

A little bit of oil to grease the pan

materials
Oven

Can opener

Pizza pan. Whatever size you want. Just be aware that your pizza dough has got to cover the majority of the pan.

Rolling pin (optional)

Pizza cutter (also optional, but highly recommended)

how to
1. If your dough comes with a label on the front (like mine did), read the directions. Mine said to preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, so I did that.

Leave the dough out so it has a chance to relax at room temp. It will be easier to work with later. 

2. Whenever there is chopping, slicing, and dicing, I always get that outta the way first.
Chop up the green pepper, fresh mushrooms, & Canadian bacon into bite size pieces. Chop until you think you have enough to cover the entire pizza. Set aside.

3. Make the pizza sauce. It is SO EASY. Like the name!

a. Open the cans of tomato sauce & tomato paste. Spatula both into a medium bowl. Stir until smooth.

b. Add the dried herbs in & mix! Done.



4. Now, the fun part: Workin' the dough.

Ok, there are a couple ways to do this:
a. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it's to the size you want.

b. Stretch the dough out by hand on the lightly greased pan until it's to the size you want. (I obviously chose this option because I don't have a fancy device like a rolling pin.)

This takes a few minutes.
  • Lightly grease your pan with oil. I pour a little bit of oil on the pan, then take a paper towel, and spread it around, covering every inch of the pan. 
  • Take the dough of the bag and place it on the center of the pan. 
  • Now, the fun part! ---> start working that dough, stretching it, flipping over from one side to the other, all the while gently doing this so that there are no tears in the dough, but so that it covers the entire pan.

There will be air bubbles, so be careful of those. Try not to tear the dough! And try to work the dough as evenly as possible over the pan. It does not have fill the whole pan, but the majority of it. Doesn't have to look perfect 'cause that's the beauty of homemade!

 5. Spread the pizza sauce all over the dough, as evenly as possible. You won't use all of it. Put the rest of it in a plastic container & fridge it. 

6. Top the pizza! I do it in layers:
1st layer: Mozzarella -- 2 handfuls
2nd layer: All the veggies & meat
3rd layer: More mozzarella -- 2 handfuls

7. It's ready to go! Pop it in the oven for 20 minutes. 

And it comes out like this:

At this point, I realized we do not own a pizza cutter. Oops! I used a big knife, still served the same purpose. 

My serving:

I cut it up into 4 big slices, but that was according to my pan size. 

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

So I learned something new about my bf. One of his favorite cookies are white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. I had no clue! I've never been a fan of cookies with nuts in them, but I figured if he loves them, why not give them a shot? And I'm glad I did. They are so delicious. Especially this recipe. They just Melt. In. Your. Mouth. 

adapted from Joy the Baker & Betty Crocker
[http://joythebaker.com/2009/09/white-chocolate-macadamia-nut-cookies/]

This recipes makes about 2 dozen small cookies. 

ingredients
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (Joy says to not use margarine, so I didn't. Had to actually go out & buy butter!)
  • 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar 
  • 2 Tablespoons milk 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 coarsely chopped macadamia nuts (These took awhile to find. They were not in the baking aisle. Had to go to the chips aisle where they have peanuts and found a can of macadamia nuts. Not chopped up already, but they are easy to chop!)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chunks
how to
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

2. Take a medium saucepan and put it on medium heat. Melt the butter, stirring the butter until it browns. This takes about 5-7 minutes. Once the butter is browned, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool a bit.  

3. Measure out the dry ingredients, combine in a bowl, and set aside.  
Chop up the macadamia nuts, set aside in a different bowl. 

4. Take out that stand mixer! (Mine was dusty from neglect, sadface) In a stand mixer bowl, add the brown sugar and slightly cooled butter. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Add egg and beat for another minute. 

Add the milk and vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.
mixer in motion

5. Turn the mixer off, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the dry ingredients all at once. 
With either the stand mixer on low, or by hand with a spatula, incorporate the dry ingredients until just mixed in. I did it by hand, more fun.

Fold in the chopped nuts and white chocolate chips.
Tip: Turn the bowl while you are simultaneously folding in the nuts & chips. Incorporates easier. 

6. Take a spoon and measure out little balls of dough the size of 2 teaspoons onto a lined baking sheet.
all gone

7. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cookies are deliciously golden. Remove from the oven and let them rest on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before enjoying!

p.s.
Shout out to my friend, Rhiannon, who mentioned my blog in her food blog! Thanks, girl!
She makes delicious cupcakes & as well as other goodies. Her latest post has some British nomsnoms to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee (60 years, holla). Check her blog out at: http://rhiscupcakes.blogspot.com/?spref=fb

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

omelette.

I usually don't feel like cooking on the morning during weekdays, but today I was craving something savory rather than a sweet cereal. It doesn't take long to make and I change it up every time! What I love about omelettes is how diverse they can be. Whatever you have in your fridge that sounds good with eggs & cheese, then that's the makings of an omelette!

This was my omelette this morning:
nice filling breakfast, complete with my favorite mug!

ingredients
a clove or 2 of garlic (I love garlic, so I always put in a little more.)
about 1/2 cup of chopped onion (whatever onion you got)
1/2 cup of fresh tomato, chopped
a tablespoon or so of parsley
2-3 slices of thin deli ham, shredded up (by hand or slice!)
2 eggs
Salt & pepper
Butter, margarine or oil for the pan
1/4 - 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (whatever you got! I'm using 4 Cheese Mexican Blend.)

how to
1. Take out a small to medium sized pan and put it on medium heat. It depends how big you want your omelette to be.

2. Chopped up the garlic, onion, tomato, parsley, and ham & put them all together in a medium to large sized bowl.

3. Crack in the 2 eggs. Season with salt & pepper.

4. Beat everything together.

5. Put butter or oil in the hot pan. I use our staple, Country Crock's Margarine! Coat the entire pan, even the sides.

6. Pour the egg mixture into the pan, taking care to spread the veggies & ham evenly. 

7. Let it cook on one side for about 3-5 minutes. It's gonna get nice and toasty brown.

8. Turn it over! There is a trick to this. And it DOES NOT have to be perfect! Because there is so much yummy goodness, it makes it difficult to flip the omelette over in one go. I slice mine up into pieces (usually 4, depending) and then flip the pieces over. A LOT easier.

9. Let that side cook for 3-5 minutes.

10. Add the cheese! Put it on one half of the omelette. Stack the other half on top of the cheese layer. Allow the cheese to melt. It may spill down on the pan, which was deeeeelicious. I love grilled cheese.


11. Finished product:
good morning :)

Off I go to teach my Acting for Non-Majors class!


Monday, June 4, 2012

shepherd's pie. take 2.

Two of my Summer 2012 Resolutions:
1. To cook more
2. To cook from cookbooks that we already own

On Valentine's Day 2010, my boyfriend gave me this awesome cookbook called The Irish Pub Cookbook & I've been anxious to try out every single recipe! Up to just recently, the only recipe I've done is the Bread & Butter Pudding with Hot Whiskey Sauce (sooo delicious), mainly because we had most of the ingredients. But now, I'm ready to try more recipes & the 2nd one I've tried is:

SHEPHERD'S PIE

my pretty plate!

I had to do a couple of things differently because we didn't have the ingredients that the book calls for. I think it still turned out super delicious! 

Recipe adapted from The Irish Cookbook

THE FILLING:

3 tablespoons oil (I use any oil that's safe on high heat...or margarine.)

2 pounds of ground lamb (Didn't have lamb, so used ground beef! I imagine this recipe would be tasty with ground turkey or chicken. Not legit shepherd's pie, but as long as there's a tasty protein, that's all that matters to me!)

Salt & freshly cracked pepper

1 medium onion, chopped up (I use sweet onion or white onion.)

2-3 carrots, chopped up (Didn't have regular carrots, but had baby carrots! Just chopped a bunch up and estimated what 2-3 carrots would look like. Also, if I were to use regular carrots, I would choose not to peel them. More rustic and healthy! Would wash them first, of course.)

2 tablespoons of parsley, minced

a teaspoon of fresh thyme, minced

1.5 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

3 cups of beef stock or broth (Either homemade or from the store. I used 3 beef bouillon cubes mixed with 3 cups of boiling water.)

THE TOPPING:

2 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled & chopped up into 1 inch pieces

1/2 cup of milk

2 tablespoons of butter (They recommend Kerrygold Irish butter, but I didn't have that, so used good ol' Country Crock Margarine!)

3 tablespoons of cheddar cheese, shredded (They prefer Irish cheddar, but all we have is the shredded 4 Cheese Mexican Blend! Still yummy.)

HOW TO:

For the filling:
1. Get out a large skillet and put it on the stove at medium heat. Put in some oil, enough to coat the bottom. Once it gets hot enough, add all of the ground meat and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the meat is browned. Make sure to season with salt & pepper! Take off the heat and transfer the meat to a large bowl. If you want to drain some fat off, transfer the meat by using a slotted spoon. 
2. Leave the pan on medium heat. Add a little bit more oil to the skillet. Put in all the onion and cook for about 3-5 minutes, just long enough for the onion to be soft, but not browned. 

3. Add in the carrots, parsley, & thyme and stir a little bit, cooking for 2-3 minutes. The vegetables need to be coated with the oil. 

4.Then stir in the flour, cook for about 1-2 minutes. 

5. Add the beef stock and bring it to a boil, making sure to scrape up all the delicious browned bits at the bottom of the pan (the best part!). 

6. Then add the meat back in, reduce the heat to low, and simmer it, uncovered. Stir every once in a while for about 20-25 minutes, just so that the meat is tender and the sauce is thickened. Season once more with salt & peppah!
 look at that yummy stew goodness

7. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 

For the topping:
1. Take out your large pot and cook your potatoes in boiling water for 12-15 minutes, just until they're tender. 
Tip: Don't heat the water beforehand! You want your potatoes to cook evenly, so put the potatoes in the pot first, put cold water over them (just enough to cover them) and then bring to a boil.

2. Drain the potatoes & mash them up! If you have a masher, great! If you're like me and have never thought of owning such a device, improvise! I use my detachable beating whisk from my electric mixer, haha.
doing what I can as a poor grad. student

3. Add the milk & butter and stir until it's smooth.

Putting it together:
1. Spoon the meat stew into a large casserole dish. You can do individual casserole dishes if you want separate portions. 

2. Spatula the mashed potatoes on top of the meat stew, trying to layer it on as evenly as possible. The recipe recommends piping it, if you're feeling creative. 

3. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes!

4. Take it out of the oven, then preheat the broiler. 

5. Sprinkle this already delicious-smelling pie with CHEESE. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons, but I use a few HANDFULS. Just enough shredded cheese to have a nice crust on top. 

6. Put it back in the oven, underneath the broiler, 4 inches away from it! (Don't wanna burn it.) Broil for 1-2 minutes. The potatoes will brown slightly and the cheese will bubble. Yum.

Then, VOILA!:
oh-so-delicious-shepherd's-pie!

Thank you, Irish Pub Cookbook! This is the 2nd time I've made it and it was just as easy as the first time! Fun to make & even more awesome to eat. The boyfriend approves of it, that's for sure. :)

Plus, it makes scrumptious leftovers. I personally think it's better the next day because the flavors have even more time to get all marinated with each other. 

This was a perfect meal to make after the end of a wonderful weekend! 

Cheers to the week ahead! 




an introduction

There is not a lot of time for anything in grad. school. From taking my own classes, to teaching my own classes, to rehearsing lines, and going from Point A to B to X, Y, Z --- sometimes it feels like there isn't enough time to breathe.

I am about to go into my third and final year of grad. school & as I look back on these past 2 years, I can say that it's been stressful, chaotic, & rewarding. Even through all the chaos, stress, & exhaustion, I have learned that cooking has been my therapy to soothe my nerves. Now, there's isn't a lot of time for it during the school year, but on an occasional free weekend, I can be found bustling away in my boyfriend's & my little kitchen, trying to cook up a recipe I found online or from that Irish Pub Food cookbook he got me for Valentine's Day. More often than not, we don't have the exact ingredients the recipe calls for, so I have to improvise with what we have. And it usually tastes delicious all the same.

It's summer now, so I have more time to relax and NOT stress myself to exhaustion. Which means I have more time to cook! :)

For a few days now, I've flirted with the idea of doing a food blog. I am a cheerleader of food (as my instagram bio says) & I love trying out new recipes or simple snacks. I am not a trained culinary chef by any means, I just like bustling around in the kitchen.

I've surfed the web and checked out tons of other food blogs and most of them are full of recipes that I want to try, haha. I'm not sure what I want this food blog to be... But I know I have a love for life & for my family & friends and there is something about food that holds it together for me.

So, I want to share my zest of food & life with you. There will be ups & downs, highs & lows, but there will always be food. And hopefully it's scrumptious, yummy food.