Stuff I’ve made recently, January 2012


  • Beer bread (Alton Brown): The ultimate weeknight bread recipe, for when you want something starchy/tasty to go with soup, etc. Super easy and super quick. My changes: used dried dill instead of fresh, subbed in part skim mozzarella cheese for cheddar, omitted the sunflower seeds. I also used Lagunitas IPA, with great results.
  • Carrot soup with miso and sesame (Smitten Kitchen): I have a long-standing hatred of carrots. So much so that it’s become a default joke with my loved ones. Something about the texture and the underlying sweetness just doesn’t work for me, despite my best efforts to overcome the distaste. I want to like them! Really! They’re so good for you! Despite all this, something about this recipe called to me, so I just ran with it. And you know what? It was pretty darn good, even for me. The miso helps offset the carrots’ sweetness, and the toasted sesame oil is just perfect. The texture still bothered me at times, but I ate three servings of it over the course of three days, so there you go.
  • Chicken lima bean soup (Taste of Home): I made this because I was dying to use my bag of Rancho Gordo Christmas lima beans, the recipe looked easy, and I wanted a nice sturdy soup after a whole holiday vacation of splurging on baked goods. It’s a very good soup, although I think the chicken may have been a tad overcooked. My changes: used Christmas limas, used kale instead of spinach, used dried parsley and other random seasonings instead of fresh.
  • Cottage cheese muffins (101 Cookbooks): Like every 101 Cookbooks recipe ever, these were really good. I made them for an office holiday potluck, but when I make them again, I’ll have them for breakfast instead.
  • Grapefruit yogurt cake (Smitten Kitchen): I had extra grapefruits, I had leftover yogurt that was threatening to go bad, I had everything else needed for this simple loaf cake. So I made it. And I’m really glad I did. It’s very, very good, and very, very easy. Next time, I’ll try the Ina Garten original lemon version, or a lime version with coconut milk yogurt and coconut oil. My changes: I used nonfat plain yogurt instead of whole milk.
  • Macaroni and cheese pizza (Food Network): For Jeffrey‘s birthday dinner! We used the Quick Beer Crust from King Arthur Flour, which is quickly becoming my favorite go-to pizza crust recipe. This is one of the more indulgent things I’ve ever made. Wow. We sort of winged it with this recipe – I don’t remember most of the changes that we made, however. The main thing is just stovetop mac and cheese, put on a pizza crust, and baked. Yum.
  • Meyer lemon fresh cranberry scones (Smitten Kitchen): I made these for my Bay Bridged comrades to enjoy while we set up for the Bay Brewed. They were a big hit. My changes: used regular lemons instead of Meyer.
  • Rustic lentil soup (Soup Addict): Delicious, hearty stew. That’s really all you need to know. Really, really good. My changes: I didn’t have any pancetta so I used more bacon instead, omitted the fish sauce, used 3 small leeks instead of celery, and used dried rosemary instead of fresh thyme.
  • And of course, I’ve made several more 30 before 30 items. Just need to actually sit down and write them all out!

Christmas lima bean soup with kale

Macaroni and cheese pizza

Cooking with Trader Joe’s

I love Trader Joe’s. Joe is my religion. The only downside of shopping at Trader Joe’s (for me, at least) is that sometimes it’s not a one-stop experience, especially if you’re picking up particular recipe ingredients.

Enter Cooking with Trader Joe’s, a rather large recipe resource. The site’s content is mostly user-generated, wherein users can upload and share recipes, as well as rate and review others. You can also create and print out recipe lists.

The pure beauty of it (aside from new meal ideas) is that every recipe utilizes items carried by Trader Joe’s, so unless your local TJ’s is out of something in particular, you’ll be able to pick up everything you need all at once. It’s brilliant.

This weekend, we made two recipes from the site: Potato Spinach Soup and Spicy Buffalo Pesto Pizza. Both were awesome. I used my own leftover pizza dough (use of frozen pizza dough = successful!) for the pizza instead of the TJ’s dough, so our pie was smaller and used fewer buffalo wings. Highly recommended.

P.S. The Cooking with Trader Joe’s site is the companion site for various “cooking with Trader Joe’s” cookbooks – I don’t happen to own any, but they are definitely tempting.

More pizza, this time: cheeseless.

Cheeseless whole wheat pizza

I had lots of whole wheat flour at home and a hunger for something bready and crusty. So I decided to make whole wheat pizza again. I was also determined to use some leftovers and not pick up anything extra at the store.

I doubled the amount of whole wheat flour this time and cut back on the white stuff, making for 2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups white. I divided the dough up before rising and froze the extra three portions for later.

The dough still rose quite well, despite the fact that our apartment is, um, cold . . . because I propped up the bowl next to my space heater. It worked. I seemed to have inherited at least some of my mother’s resourceful genes.

For the tomato sauce, I used the half can of whole peeled tomatoes I had in the fridge – cut them in half, shook out the seeds, chopped them up. Sauteed a bunch of garlic in olive oil over medium heat for a minute, threw in the tomatoes, as well as one smaller can of diced tomatoes I had lying around. Pinch of salt and pepper. Three small sprigs of thyme. Let cook until nice and thick, then added some more pepper for extra kick. Removed the thyme sprigs before using, of course.

I spread it across the dough once it was ready, then sprinkled a bunch of torn spinach on top. Since I didn’t have any cheese at home, I just didn’t use any. And it was SO GOOD. Next time, maybe I’ll use crushed red pepper in the sauce and roasted vegetables for the toppings.

Actually, I lied. This wasn’t totally cheeseless, because I sprinkled some Parmeson on top after baking. Can you blame me?

Whole wheat pizza with mushrooms and spinach

Whole wheat pizza

I wanted to do two things for dinner yesterday: utilize whole wheat flour and my brand new gorgeous KitchenAid stand mixer (thanks, Mom and Dad!). Solution: whole wheat pizza!

Pinch My Salt has a very appetizing whole wheat crust recipe with fresh rosemary, so I went with that one. She provides a “tangy tomato sauce” recipe that we followed as well.

We followed both recipes exactly, except we used my stand mixer to do the kneading (so easy!) and also used a regular pizza pan and cookie sheet for the pizzas (no pizza stone available).

For the toppings: I chopped up some crimini mushrooms (I just eyeballed it – maybe about a cup and a half) and fresh spinach (around one cup). We added a touch of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper to the mushrooms and let sit while we prepared the pizza dough and sauce. The toppings were enough for two of the four pizzas that the dough recipe will yield, and the sauce yielded just about enough for all four pies.

End result? Delicious.

Whole wheat pizza

Stuffed crust pizza

Stuffed crust pizza

House-sitting at the folks’ place again meant tackling a long complicated recipe that required lots of time, counter space, a stand mixer and a good oven. Hence: Stuffed Crust Pepperoni Pizza on Local Lemons (the recipes on LL site all look amazing, plus they revolve around locally acquired + seasonal ingredients).

Our modifications:

  • We didn’t have two 8-inch cast-iron skillets, but we did have one big pizza pan, so we just made one big pizza instead of two smaller ones.
  • We didn’t make our own mozzarella cheese. That looked fun, but I didn’t really feel like tracking down vegetable rennet. Maybe some other time.
  • We added sausage as well as pepperoni.
  • We were too stingy with the cheese in the “stuffed” part of the crust. Still really tasty, but we’ll be more generous if we make this again.

Otherwise, the recipe was actually pretty easy – it just takes awhile, between letting the dough rise twice and boiling and peeling the tomatoes and all that. But it was worth it, and it’s a fun project for an afternoon devoid of plans.