Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

We love making pizza at home. For the longest time I’ve been using the Olive Oil dough recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, which is good and easy to make. But this time around I decided to try Pioneer Woman’s pizza crust recipe, which she raves about, and when have I ever made anything of PW’s that’s been less than stellar? Answer: never.

So I got started and I wasn’t too far into the recipe when I realized it called for 1/3 cup of olive oil, and I had… none. There was no going back at this point, so I used regular ol’ vegetable oil. Did it make a difference? No idea. The crust was awesome. A definite winner over the crust I’ve been making. But I shouldn’t have been surprised. When has PW ever steered me wrong? Answer: never.

This was supposed to be a pepperoni and olive pizza. Unfortunately as I started to put the pepperoni on, I realized they’d been in the fridge a little too long and had mold on them. Sad ūüė¶ So we had olive pizza. And it was delicious! I really didn’t miss the pepperoni at all. You can use whatever toppings you like, of course. Even if it’s just olives.

Pioneer Woman’s Pizza Crust (from her cookbook)

  • 1 tsp or 1/2 packet active dry yeast
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup olive (or vegetable) oil, plus more for drizzling

Pour 1 1/2 cups warm water into a bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water.

Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.

With an electric mixer on low speed, drizzle in the oil until just incorporated. Or, you can use a spoon. Which is what I did.

In a separate bowl, gently stir the yeast/water mixture, and drizzle it into the flour/oil mixture. Mix until the dough forms a ball. You can use your hands if you like, which I did here, until the dough comes together.

Drizzle a little oil into a clean bowl, or mist with cooking spray. Toss the ball of dough in the bowl and turn over to coat in oil.

Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and set in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

To prepare the pizza, preheat oven to 500 degrees. Divide the dough in half. Lightly drizzle olive oil on a pizza pan or baking sheet. Or use parchment paper and no oil.

Using your hands, stretch the dough to the desired shape. Spread sauce and/or desired toppings over the dough and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden brown.

The other half of the dough may be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days before use, or frozen for up to 6 months.


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It’s officially chili weather! It’s taking a while for the cool weather to set in here, but we’re definitely enjoying lower temperatures.

I’ve made a few chili recipes in the past, but we always end up coming back to this one – it’s one we made up a while back, and it’s also ridiculously easy. You can easily double or triple it, freeze it if you need to, whatever.

I think I may make a BIG batch of this pre-baby to keep in the freezer, so we have it to eat later!

Favorite Chili

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can chili-ready tomatoes
  • 1 can Bush’s chili beans [or regular pinto beans]
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • Water or broth as desired, to thin

Brown and drain ground beef. Add all other ingredients, stir well, and simmer 30 minutes. If a thinner consistency is desired, add water or broth (I use broth if I’m using regular pinto beans – but water if I’m using chili beans).

Great with cornbread, cheese, Fritos, sour cream… etc.

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This casserole came about as an “oh crap I forgot to plan dinner tonight let’s see what I have in the pantry” meal. I’ve made similar dishes before, but this turned out to be my favorite by far. It’s simple, cheap, delicious, and really not bad for you. You could make it even healthier by using turkey sausage and low-fat cheese… but I didn’t.

Mexican Rice Casserole with Smoked Sausage & Black Beans

  • 1 cup white rice, uncooked
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chicken boullion granules
  • 1 pkg smoked sausage, sliced (I also halve mine)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained insomuch as possible
  • 1-2 cups cheddar cheese (just eyeball it)

Preheat oven to 350 degree and lightly grease a 9×13 (or similar size) dish.

Prepare rice as you would normally cook rice, but add chili powder, cumin, and chicken boullion to the water.

Dump sausage, beans, and tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add cooked rice and mix well. Spread into casserole dish and top with cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is melted, it smells delicious, and it looks like something you want to eat RIGHT NOW.

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We’ve been on a vegetarian kick with meals this week. JW wanted a salad for dinner on Monday, so we created our own little salad bar. Dinner last night was this chili, and tonight we’re doing ratatouille. I’m sure meat will make an appearance next week, primarily because I have nearly exhausted my list of vegetarian recipes that don’t taste like cardboard.

I was attracted to this dish for two reasons – one, because I love beans and I’m always up for trying a new bean dish, and two, because it was originally a Cooks Illustrated recipe, and Cooks Illustrated is my hero. We thought it was good, although as JW put it, “very tomatoey.” I’d like to try adding something to cut the brightness of the tomatoes, but for a 30-minute healthy dish, I’d say this was really very good.

Oh also, because JW does not like corn, I added an extra can of beans. I’m giving it to you with my adjustments.

Cornbread recipe to follow, hopefully tomorrow.

Easy Vegetarian Bean Chili (Original recipe here)

CI Note: A combination of beans is better in this (kidney, black, pinto, whatever). Also, don’t sub in anything for the pureed diced tomatoes, as the consistency is vital.

  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans beans (see note above), drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 teaspoons minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

Pour tomatoes and the accompanying juices in a food processor. Pulse 4 or 5 times, until it’s kinda chunky.

In a large pot (dutch oven), combine tomatoes, beans, chipotles, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir and cover. Heat over high until it starts boiling. Drop heat to medium-low and simmer for the time being.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. When very hot, add onion, chili powder, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir. Saute until onions are soft and a little translucent, around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic. Stir. Saute until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add onion mixture into pot with tomatoes and beans. Scrape browned bits with the back of your spoon, if you have any, and add them too. Drop heat to medium-low and cook about 15 minutes, until chili has a more chili-like consistency. Stir occasionally.

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Due to a small miscommunication with our gas company, our gas was shut off unexpectedly about a week ago. When they came out to our house, the hot water heater and range came back on, but the heat did not. Lucky for us, we have made do for the past week with a couple of space heaters (of which every hardware store in Houston orders 3 at the beginning of winter, and does not reorder when they sell out, so it is nearly impossible to find one in February).

I don’t care who you are – even in Houston, and even with space heaters, a house with no heat in the middle of winter is freakin cold. So finally yesterday we called our home warranty (thank you, seller of our new house, for purchasing a home warranty for us) and they sent someone out today to fix it. Yea! I am super excited that I don’t have to dread getting out of the shower anymore.

That said, I do realize that most parts of the country are experiencing blizzard-like conditions at the moment as a winter storm the size of Jupiter meanders across the United States, and that our high-40’s temperatures really aren’t all that impressively cold to you guys. And to that all I have to say is…

Cold is cold. Period. And on cold days, one of the best meals to warm up with is chili. It’s warm, cozy, and can be (like this one) healthy as well.

I encourage you to try this with chicken and/or turkey as called for in the recipe. If you have true texture issues with ground poultry, of course you can use beef. Regardless of your choice of meat, the flavor of the spices and other ingredients really makes this a great chili. Because of some things that came up last night, I didn’t quite follow the cook time. I let it cook a little over an hour and stirred in the beans right before serving.

Of course, like most chilis, it was excellent the second day as well.

Chicken Chili With White Beans (Original recipe here)
Note: This is not a spicy chili. If you want more heat, increase the cayenne or red pepper flakes.

  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ¬ľ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¬ľ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups onions, chopped¬†(about 2 medium onions)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds ground chicken and/or turkey (not extra lean breast meat)
  • Two 28 oz. cans chopped or diced tomatoes (I used one crushed because it was what I had)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or use regular and decrease the salt a little bit)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-15 oz. can¬†small Cannellini¬†beans, drained and rinsed

Make spice mixture by combining chili powder, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, oregano, cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Mix well and set aside next to stove.

Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed nonreactive (not cast iron or aluminum) pot over medium heat. Add onions and red bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring to prevent garlic from burning, about two minutes more.

Increase heat to medium high and add the ground chicken and spice mixture. As the chicken cooks, use a wooden spoon to break the meat into very small clumps; cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, chicken broth, remaining teaspoon salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered (set lid ajar so steam has a few inches to escape), for about one hour, stirring occasionally.

Stir in white beans and let simmer, uncovered, for about 50 minutes more, or until meat is tender and flavors are well combined. For a soupier chili, you can add additional water. For a thicker chili, simmer uncovered until desired consistency is reached. Taste and add salt if necessary.

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Here is the part of the post where I make some cute remark about the Ratatouille movie — except I didn’t see it, so just pretend that said remark is here.

Also here is the part of the post where I apologize for not having a picture. The fact is, I simply just forgot to take one, so I don’t have a photo to show you. But you can visit the original recipe here at Recipezaar where there are a few pictures there from others who have made this dish. I think they ended up looking better than mine did anyway.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, this is an easy and healthy dish that is chock full of vegetables and which JW said he would eat again. Translation: Success! You can vary the vegetables depending on what you like or don’t like. I, for one, would have loved to add a whole bunch of mushrooms to this dish. But that would result in my eating it all by myself, and I thought that might be a tad selfish.

I boiled some pasta (whole wheat in our case, but not necessary if you’re not crazy about it) and actually added it straight to the pot with the ratatouille, then we topped with parmesan cheese. But you could do a lot of different things with this. It would probably be great over rice, or even as a side dish.

This also makes A LOT. I halved the recipe and it was more than enough for us, plus I would have really had to cram it down to get it to all fit in my crockpot if I’d made the whole recipe. That said, the recipe says it freezes well, so it wouldn’t have been so bad.

Crockpot Ratatouille (Original recipe here)

  • 2¬†large onions, cut in half and sliced
  • 1¬†large eggplant, sliced, cut in 2 inch pieces
  • 4¬†small zucchini, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2¬†large bell peppers, de-seeded and cut into thin strips (orig. recipe called for green, I used red)
  • 2¬†large tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 1¬†(6¬†ounce)¬†can tomato paste
  • 1¬†teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon oregano
  • 1¬†teaspoon sugar
  • 2¬†teaspoons salt
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon black pepper
  • 2¬†tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4¬†cup olive oil
Layer half the vegetables in a large crock pot in the following order: onion, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, green peppers, tomatoes.
Sprinkle half the basil, oregano, sugar, parsley, salt and pepper on the veggies.
Dot with half of the tomato paste.
Repeat layering process with remaining vegetables, spices and tomato paste.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours.
Refrigerate to store. May freeze up to 6 weeks.

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JW has been asking for a thin crust pizza for a while, so I decided to dig up some new recipes and see what I could find. This one really stood out because of the great reviews, and I was intrigued by the preparation and rising times. I used the quicker sponge method, but it can also be made as an overnight dough.

I – the person who does not like to knead – actually did knead this by hand, and for the recommended 15 minutes (I KNOW! Aren’t you impressed?) I wanted to follow the recipe as closely as possible. I think it did take quite a bit more flour than originally called for in the recipe, but it really was very easy to work with, especially when it came to stretching it out.

I stretched it thin, but left some nice edge on the side. I prefer to use my hands to stretch so the edges don’t get too flat, which has been my experience with a rolling pin.

Speaking of rolling pins, mine has gone on the fritz and I haven’t bought a new one yet. When I told this to JW’s mom, she asked if I had whacked him too hard over the head with it ūüôā

I brushed some olive oil over the edges and sprinkled with a mixture of garlic salt, Italian herbs, and parmesan cheese. It turned out a tad salty for me, so next time I may use garlic powder instead of the garlic salt.

Ready to go into the oven…

And here’s the finished product!

Do you see the mini pepperonis? Aren’t they cute?!

I really did like this dough. The only thing I wish I’d done differently is bake it on a pizza stone – which I normally do, but mine got apple pie juice on it, which bubbled up and then burnt, and if it had been more expensive I probably would have tried to clean it, but as it was I just threw it out when we moved. So the crust wasn’t as “crispy” as if I’d baked it on a stone, but I guess it means I’ll just have to try it again, eh? ūüôā

Premium Thin Crust Pizza (Recipe found here)

  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (or more)
  • 1 tsp sea salt

OVERNIGHT COLD RISE METHOD: In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Stir in 2 cups of flour and salt; mix well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 15 minutes. Place dough in bowl dusted with flour cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

SPONGE RISE METHOD: In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup water. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour; mix well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until foamy, about 1 hour. Blend in remaining water, flour and salt; beat well. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 15 minutes. Place dough in bowl dusted with flour and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 2 to 3 hours (less if rising in a warm place).

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Roll dough out to half of its final size. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes (while you prepare desired pizza toppings). Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, or higher (higher temp will cook more quickly).

Stretch out dough over your floured knuckles and stretch or toss until desired size is achieved. Place dough on a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal or a lightly greased pizza pan. Spread with desired toppings and bake on a pizza stone in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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