Monday, October 13, 2014

Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza

Hi everyone! Not much to post since nearly 2 weeks of absence. Although, I did post my Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza photo on facebook...which I have also been absent from for 3 months now. Wasn't a smart thing to post the pizza photos, since I didn't have it on my blog and it made it look like I just posted a 'random' store bought pizza.
I don't know about you, and how you feel about the 'follow' part on facebook...seems like I follow a lot of people, especially family relatives...ie. cousins, and close friends, but what I have discovered lately...duhh! (dummy me)...pondering over the fact that I have not gotten any feedback of my postings from any, or most of these close friends and relatives...I mean...what gives? I never stopped getting their latest 'tid-bits', photos of their kids mostly...their latest trips, etc. and I have always commented and 'liked'...so when I finally found out that they are NOT following me...I stopped following them...but not un-friending them, and at that point I gave up my interest in viewing what's going on out there. I discovered a totally new 'meaning' to my facebook page; just view what is being sent to my 'timeline' and keep 'liking' and commenting back to friends' that took the time to see my posts as well! So, that's that...getting back to my pizza!
It is really so easy to make your own fresh pizza dough by mixing the dough in a sturdy Kitchen-Aid mixer with a dough hook, or place the ingredients in a Bread Machine, and let it do its work. Just let the dough rise in a large oiled bowl, and the rest is so easy! I seem to be boring, but my favorite pizza topping is pepperoni, mushroom, and onions...although you can't see it all in the photo...it's in there!

MARTHA STEWART
Quick Basic Pizza Dough


  • 2 packets (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl and brushing
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface

COOK'S NOTE

To freeze, you can wrap the dough in plastic and freeze it in a resealable freezer bag for up to 3 months. If you plan to use it in a recipe that calls for half a batch, divide it before freezing.

Note: This pizza is from half a batch...divide the dough in half, and wrap the other half in plastic wrap...freeze for another use, or make 2 pizzas with the recipe!

DIRECTIONS

  1. STEP 1

    Pour 1 1/2 cups warm water into a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. STEP 2

    Whisk sugar, oil, and salt into yeast mixture. Add flour and stir until a sticky dough forms. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and brush top with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead 1 or 2 times before using.

After kneading the dough once or twice, let the dough rest on the floured board...and if you're not a practice 'pizza thrower'...just get a rolling pin and roll into a circle from each direction as dough gets more elastic and your can fit it onto the pizza pan.








As you carefully fit it into the pizza pan, you can brush olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (I also used hot chili pepper flakes). Let the dough rise a little longer, and you can form nice shapely rims around the edges.








Next, I saute my sliced mushroom, and onions just slightly. (nothing worse than topping pizza with raw sliced mushroom, and raw sliced onions)...and paying $18.99 for a large pizza...horrific idea!








Here's a little secret...I pre-bake my dough at 450 degrees F. for 7 minutes, (this assures you not getting a soggy finish) ...next, I spoon my tomato sauce, and topping on it.









I make my own sauce...no pre-cooking needed, just add the entire 28 oz can of your favorite sauce into a medium bowl, add some extra virgin olive oil, abt. 1/4 cup, salt, and pepper, a few fresh torn basil leaves. Now, you are ready to top the pre-baked dough...(seen in the above photo)







Bake for about 10 more minutes, and at the last process, add more cheese and top with pepperoni slices.










Pre-sliced pepperoni comes in a convenient plastic bag, sliced 'paper thin'...so you really just add them at the few remaining minutes of baking time, on top of the shredded mozzarella cheese.










Now, you are ready to finish baking with the pepperoni topping, for an additional 5 more minutes. Total baking time abt. 22-25 minutes, at 450 degrees F.







The finished product! Perfect pizza,
not overflowing with extra cheese, but you can add more for the last baking process if you like. Just the right amount of sauce and topping...enjoy!












...and some other photos to share!

My newest little friend, who lives with his family in our courtyard...in the coconut palm trees...comes to visit me every morning on my balcony, for his peanuts; I named him Alvin!
Caught a glimpse of the lunar eclipse on the following morning...at 7:15 AM...missed it at night, on Oct. 8 before; too many clouds at night~ photo taken on our private beach, in Palm Beach, FL.
Notice the white streak in the sky? An airplane flying through the sky...how awesome is that?!
Finally, at 7:40 AM...this is how the sky and the ocean appeared!
Wherever one is at any given moment...we are seeking connection with the Divine~

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate"...Chocolate Cake...

Just to prove my point...cloudy, dreary, and rain, rain, rain, every single day, here in South Florida until Oct. 17, the official date for the end of our rainy season. Don't get me wrong that we don't get any sunshine...yes we do, even with all the rain. Clouds form on one side of the sky and it's clear and blue on the other side. The weirdest part is; when it rains on one side....for instance; down the road it is sunny...less than one mile away! I was so determined to take my photo of this classic Hershey's Chocolate Cake...by the time I finished, the clouds were rolling in...so there you have it...my worst best shot!
One hour later...delivered the cake to its destination...(did not realize the small smear taking it out of the carton)...doing yet, another 'photo prop' outside my daughter's back yard patio....little better natural lighting, then, a few minutes later...had to literally run inside with the cake because it started to rain. So there you have it; 'the rain saga'...once more!

While I was visiting and commenting on blogs, I stumbled on this wonderful 'classic' Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake from a dear new blogger friend, Dottie, @Family Plus Food Equals Love...what a sweet name for a food blog. She is so gracious, and talented; you can also find the Hershey's Milk Chocolate Chip recipe there, as well!

I haven't made this classic cake in a while, and I must say I had to adapt a few things, first...by adjusting the sugar amount and adding a small amount of 'real' butter to the batter, as well.

My modifications are in red

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar 1 cup of sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa 1 cup
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk 1/2 cup milk boiled
  • 1/2 cup Hershey's semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup veg. oil + 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
                                                                                         
    1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
    2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, softened butter, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water, boiled milk, with chocolate chips added in the milk to melt (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
    3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. Makes 12 servings.

    Frost with FLUFFY WHITE (7-MINUTE) frosting

    VARIATIONS:
    ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.
    THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.
    Fluffy White Frosting, or 7- Minute Frosting...or Marshmallow Frosting is a true American 'classic' that has been around for decades...my very first time I tried it, was a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that was given to me as a gift, in 1974, when it was called...FLUFFY WHITE FROSTING!
    Every recipe I googled called for the addition of light corn syrup added...which I sparingly use...or don't use at all! I have been using McCormick Cream of Tartar instead...for years; which is a powdery substance, a very small amount added to make the frosting fluffy, and add body which the corn syrup adds...which happens to be a stabilizer. A tiny amount of the Cream of Tartar does it all!
    Fluffy White Frosting      

    1 cup white sugar


    1/3 cup water


    1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


    2 egg whites 
    I used 4 egg whites                                                   


    1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    This method is so much easier than the double boiler method, just make sure that you let the mixture get very bubbly, for a few minutes...it will get thicker, and almost a pale yellow color (after that it will turn amber) and you will have to make caramel sauce with it, adding cream to the amber sugar.
    The choice is yours; just carefully watch over the boiling sugar content!






    1. In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.
    2. In a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar mixture while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 to 10 minutes. Frost the cake of your choice. 
    3. I have been making this frosting for my grown children when they were little...and now my 4 grandchildren are enjoying it, and it has become their very favorite. With 4 egg whites you can achieve the same quality...making sure you do the 'finger test'...seriously!

    Saturday, September 20, 2014

    Tuna Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes with Arugula

    I've always loved and enjoyed fresh salads and lately I have gotten bored with the simple 'hum-drum' salad with just cucumbers, tomatoes, and sliced or chopped onions (which I love all kinds, but mostly the red onions.) As for the dressing, just a simple extra virgin olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar.
    Sometimes I just run out of ideas what type of salads I should make, and I simply grab one of my cooking magazines...especially my newest subscription; Eating Well, which I share with my daughter among our other great cooking magazines the she and I subscribe to. The best kind of inspirations you get are of course...the ones with photos, and also knowing you don't have to run out to purchase so many ingredients just for that recipe.
    Here in the U.S. we tend to eat lunch 'on the run'...sometime just grabbing some 'takeout' fast food,
    if you happen to eat at home; maybe leftover stuff from the night before...or if you happen to be in 'luck'...a friend might take you out to a nice restaurant or eatery place not too expensive. You can of course split the bill! Well, I don't seem to fit any of these categories, because most of the time I skip lunch (not good)...eating breakfast too late, and I would be 'starving' by dinner time, which is so unhealthy!
    The only ingredient that I had to buy was the baby Arugula...also known as Roquette, or Rocket. I like to buy it in the small plastic bags, already sealed and the leaves are perfect, and tender...just love the peppery taste when you take a bite, it almost burns your tongue; but mixed with other ingredients, it blends so well!

    Tomatoes, stuffed with tuna salad is a classic elegant lunch dish...now, there's a healthier twist to it, just leaving out the mayo, and adding oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. I must tell you, this was such an amazing light and enjoyable lunch for 2, or 4 people. Did not even require bread or rolls!

    Hope you are all having a beautiful weekend, with most of you starting your Fall Season...oh, how I miss the beautiful fall colors of yellow, orange, red, brown, and burgundy leaves adorning the trees...only to be falling so quickly.

    Before you know it, Halloween is around the corner! xo

    Tuna Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes with Arugula

    July/August 2014           

    The tuna in this great-looking stuffed tomato recipe isn’t your typical mayo-based affair. The sherry vinaigrette does double duty: it adds fresh flavor to the tuna filling and also dresses the baby arugula and white bean salad.

    My modifications are in red

    Ingredients   

    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar I used white balsamic vinegar...you can use your favorite
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • 4 large tomatoes  I used 2 large beefsteak tomatoes (for 2)
    • 2 5-ounce cans chunk light tuna in olive oil, drained I used 1 can of same tuna
    • 1/3 cup chopped celery
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
    • 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
    • I also added 1 Tbsp of rinsed small capers
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1 15-ounce can great northern beans, rinsed Navy Beans are almost the same; I used 1/2 the amount.
    • 8 cups baby arugula  4 cups
    • You can cut down on the ingredients, or just 'eyeball' it...use your own judgement
     Preparation
    1. Whisk oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Transfer 3 tablespoons of the dressing to a large bowl and set aside.
    2. Slice enough off the top of each tomato to remove the core (1/2 to 1 inch). Chop enough of the tops to equal 1/2 cup and add to the medium bowl. Scoop out the tomato pulp using a teaspoon or melon baller. (Discard the pulp or save for another use.)
    3. Add tuna, celery, onion, olives and thyme to the medium bowl; gently toss to combine. Fill the hollowed tomatoes with the tuna mixture.
    4. Add beans and arugula to the dressing in the large bowl and toss to combine. Divide the salad among 4 plates and top each with a stuffed tomato.

    Nutrition

    Per serving: 353 calories; 18 g fat (2 g sat, 11 g mono); 7 mg cholesterol; 30 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 9 g total sugars; 20 g protein; 11 g fiber; 476 mg sodium; 878 mg potassium.
    Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (70% daily value), Vitamin A (63% dv), Potassium (25% dv), Folate (21% dv), Magnesium (16% dv), Vitamin B12 (15% dv)
     

       

     

     

    Thursday, September 11, 2014

    Nectarine and Almond Tart

    
    As you know, we're still enjoying our summer months here in South Florida, with temperatures still in the upper 80's degrees...but meanwhile, in South Dakota, they got their early 'first snow'...so bizarre!
    We are still able to buy peaches and nectarines in our supermarkets, and produce markets, and enjoying the last of the summer's fruits. I decided to make an easy tart with the nectarines, using puff
    pastry...which is so versatile and so quick; the possibilities are 'endless'.
    Here's a little 'hint' when making tarts, galettes, open faced pies, or even on cakes, featuring your favorite fruits, or berries...always brush them with a nice glaze that you make yourself, from heating up preserves that compliment the fruit, and straining them before brushing them on the fruits. You have to work fast, or the glaze will harden and then you have to start all over by heating it to a boil!
    When I made the guava pastries is how I got inspired to want to keep a package of puff pastry in my freezer which would be handy at the last minute's notice...and sure enough it was. You just take one of the pastry rolls (of 2) out, about 30 minutes before starting, and it will thaw out perfect just on your counter. I will walk you through...step-by-step to demonstrate how I made this delicious...just not so 'pretty layers' which should have been standing like 'perfect little soldiers'!
    Very little sugar is used to sweeten this yummy pastry; the hardest part is slicing them evenly, and lining them...slightly overlapping. I had to discard some of the slices, at least half of them which were turning brown inside...sigh!
    So here's my version of this easy, and fast recipe. (The almond filling was adapted by another source)

    Nectarine and Almond Tart
    recipe by; Elisabeth

    8 medium nectarines
    1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
    1/4 cup sugar
    2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
    4 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
    1 large egg
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 sheet frozen puff pastry thawed
    1/4 cup peach, or apricot preserves, heated to a boil, and strained







    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.











    Cut nectarines in half, remove pit, and slice them
    into 1/4 in. to 1/2 in. slices. In a food processor.
    ( a small is OK to use.)




    Pulse almonds, flour, and sugar.









    Pulse a few times making sure to finely grind.




















     
    Add the 4 Tbsp softened butter, the 1 large egg, and the vanilla. Process until it forms into a smooth thick creamy paste.
     
    Unfold pastry to parchment lined baking sheet.
    Spread almond mixture, leaving 1/2 inch border.
     
    Line the fruit slices closely, by overlapping them. (I didn't have enough slices, so I lined them as closely as possible.)
     
    Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes, and lower the temperature to 350 degrees for another 15 more minutes, to keep from burning.
     
     
     
     
     
    Pastry should be golden, puffed, and fruit, tender.
     
     
     
     
    Brush the fruit with the strained preserves, while it's hot, and let it cool for 20 minutes. before cutting.
     
    Very good as a light dessert, or a morning or afternoon snack!
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

     
     
    13th Anniversary of the Sept. 11 Terror attacks...
     
     

    Tuesday, September 2, 2014

    Spicy South Florida Salsa

    Hi everyone! I'm not trying to promote a product...but I must admit that I do love Tostitos Tortilla Chips, especially the new one which is infused with a 'hint of lime'!
    I've been away for another 2 weeks at least...family obligations, and 'life in general' which really kept me from even opening my computer!
    I have so much to share with you; but I've been really 'slacking off' with my food photography these days. I have made some really fabulous dishes for my family...but the only problem was... the photographic side of it...which I was unprepared for... to take,  before...or during!
    I could not resist sharing this yummy, fresh and healthy Salsa...the spices are just right, just dig into all that goodness with a great sturdy and crunchy chip!

    I hope you all had a wonderful Labor's Day weekend holiday...as we also enjoyed, with partial rain, and of course sunshine right after that! ...'typical South Florida weather.

    Spicy South Florida Salsa
    recipe, by; Elisabeth

    6 -8 Roma, or Plum tomatoes diced
    2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, and diced
    1 bunch of scallions, cleaned, and sliced
    juice of 2 limes
    1 teaspoon cumin powder
    dash of hot pepper
    salt and pepper to taste
    a handful of fresh cilantro, cleaned of stems



    Add all the ingredients in a large food processor container.











    Pulse...(do not process!)...just pulse for 2 times, short, making sure that some chunks remain! Finish, by adjusting seasoning, if needed. Ready to serve with tortilla chips of your choice!











    I visited a Goodwill thrift store...other than my local area...and 'lo and behold'...hit the 'jackpot'! September 2014 issues (except or the Eat Smart, which was from June 2014)
    I could not believe my eyes...who would donate a 'brand new issue' of these popular magazines!...especially when they cost at least $5.99...and Goodwill price is 79 cents for all paper backs!...sure will have fun reading them and checking for new ideas and recipes!
    Here's how part of our Labor Day went...rain for about an hour, (view from my balcony)...and a perfectly beautiful sunshine for the rest of the day!
    The rest of the day turned out to be beautiful, sunny, and perfect 'beach weather'...enjoyed by my family!
    Hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend! xoxo
    (not making excuses for staying away, and not posting and commenting!...long story)