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Mom's Hearth

Cooking as an Act of Loving

Things to do with apples
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Brown Sugar Carmel Crisp

Preheat Oven to 375
8 Servings
9 x 9 x 2.5 inch pan

Filling
6 cups of sliced apples
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour

Toss ingredients together and place in the pan.

Topping


1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 Cup brown sugar
1 stick butter melted

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix in melted butter until all well incorporated.
Spread topping evenly over filling

Place in oven.  Bake for 1 hour or until bubbly.
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Things to do with apples
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We have an abundance of apples.  I mean like I still have about fifty pounds to peel that David has picked and there are more on the trees.

Tonight I pared, cored and halved two apples and placed them in a baking dish.  Pored about 1/2 Cup of Mead over them.  Added a handful of sultanas, a handful of pecan halves, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and 2 TBS of butter.  Cover baking dish with foil.  Baked at 350 for an hour.  Served with heavy cream.  Very tasty!
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No Oven Pizza
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Our oven died last Sunday.  I am investigating replacement.  But I wanted pizza tonight.  So I tried the covered skillet technique.  It was reasonably successful.  I need to lower the flame next time. 

 

The process was to per heat a dry skillet, add a frozen pizza, cover, and bake until heated through. 

 

The crust becomes crispy.  Mine was a bit overcooked.  So, rather than 3/4 flame I will set at about 1/3 flame and cook longer.

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What can you do with one large Roasted Chicken?
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One night of roasted chicken as the main course.

Place remaining chicken pieces and parts back into the roasting pot with water to cover. Bake at 225°F for 12 to 16 hours. Remove from oven, cool. Remove meat from bones and scraps. Bottle broth. Toss scraps into the trash.

Make a gravy with a quart of the broth add two cups of chopped chicken. Add some frozen mixed veggies. Serve over toast.

Take 50% of remaining chicken gravy add chilli powder to taste add two cups of cooked elbow macaroni. Mix. Place in casserole top with shredded cheese. Bake until heated through.

Take the other 50% of the remaining gravy add curry powder, two cups cooked rice, one chopped tomatoes, half stick of butter, one small seeded Anaheim pepper, and one diced medium onion. Heat through. Serve with peanut butter, raisins,and yogurt.

Two cups chopped chicken mixed with one chopped tomato, one diced small seeded Anaheim pepper, one small onion diced. Divide mix into six even portions. Place one portion of Chicken mixture in the center of each of six corn tortillias. Roll intuitive shape. Place in low casserole. Sprinkle with sauce from chipotles in Adobe sauce. Pour overall 1 cup of cream. Sprinkle heavily with grated cheese. Bake until golden brown.

Make Rissoto with two cups of chopped chicken.

I still have a quart of the broth. I think that will become gravy to serve over some previously prepared meatloaf. And if there is still gravy leftover, it will make a great soup base.

All in a great value.

It has been 42.5 years ....
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Since I served short ribs.  The first time was a disaster because two cultures clashed at our dining room table in a very ugly way.

So many people write such flattering things about short ribs, I thought I would try them again.  The good news, the tasted just like Mom's did.  The bad news is, there really wasn't that much flavor either when my Mom made them or I did.  They were tender.  But I think I ended up paying about $40 dollars a pound for the cooked meat that resulted from this experience.

Neither David nor I starved.  But I won't be cooking beef short ribs again!  Give me pork country style ribs most any day!

Sunday Brunch
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Blue Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes
Maple Syrup
Russet Coins
Fanestil Thick Sliced Bacon
Butter
Coffee
Milk

The pancakes had a excellent corn flavor. Bob’s Red Mill Blue Cornmeal is coarsely ground so there was still a bit of a crunch in the pancakes but it was not off putting. I found then very tasty with only maple syrup on them. Heck, they were tasty even plain.

Recipe: Blue Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes
Serves 2
½ cup Bob’s Red Mill Blue Cornmeal
½ cup All Purpose Flour
2 Tbs granulated sugar
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg
1 Tbs canola oil
~½ cup buttermilk, more if needed

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together until the egg is thoroughly mixed with the oil and buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix just long enough so that all dry ingredients are moistened. Add more buttermilk if needed to achieve a pancake batter like consistency. You don’t want the batter too thick.
Cook on a hot griddle as you would any other pancake. Keep warm in warm oven for serving.
Serve with maple syrup.

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The potato coins were crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. They did not even need salt as the lard subtly seasoned them.

Recipe: Russet Coins
Serves 2

1 8oz Idaho Russet Potato, cleaned and pricked
Lard, sufficient to achieve ¼ inch depth in 10 inch cast iron frying pan

Bake the potato in a microwave (approximately five minutes in a 1000 watt microwave). Place the baked potato in the freezer to cool off. This will cool the potato rapidly, making it easier to handle.
About 1 hour after placing the potato in the freezer, begin heating the lard in a cast iron skillet. Remove the potato from the freezer. Slice the potato in 1/8 slices. When the lard is hot but not smoking, place potato slices in the melted lard in a single layer. Do not stack the potato slices.
Fry slices until the bottom of the slice is golden brown. The turn the slices over and fry that side until it is golden brown. At that point, remove from the heat and place on a paper towel to drain.
Serve!
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Wow, That was fine French Toast!
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Staying at a B&B in Albequerque, NM owned and operated by Arnold Sargent, his four chickens and three cats!

He and his assitant prepare breakfast each morning. The French Toast this morning was out of this world. It was one of those recipes that you mix up the night before and bake in the morning. But this was not heavy. It yeilded a light and crispy product.

I have the cookbook already ordered and on it's way from Amazon

From Dad's Keyboard: What You Call It Can Change Your Attitude
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You've just finished a great meal. Maybe it was one that Mom helped inspire, but that's not important. You made generous portions and not everything was consumed. There's still plenty of stuff left in the serving dishes. What you call that "stuff" can make a difference in how you think about that “stuff” and how you later use that “stuff”. Around here we have two kinds of "stuff," leftovers and ingredients.

Leftovers are things that will be reheated, etc. and served in the same way they were the first time they were presented. Ingredients are things that will be used in some new form the second time around. The idea of creating ingredients from those dishes that are not fully consumed makes them look different as they sit in the refrigerator staring at you. Now, they look like ways to add richness to following meals rather than just repeating something you've already done.

Mom did not come to this idea all on her own, but application in our home kitchen is pretty much hers. The seed of the idea came from reading Jacques Pepin's "The Apprentice - My Life in the Kitchen." Near the end of the book he talked about things he looked for as he worked with a restaurant to improve its bottom line. He started by looking in their trash cans. What were they throwing away? Often he found lots and lots of food that was perfectly good going into the trash just because it wasn't what was needed for the dish of the moment. Now, let's be very clear, he was not looking at what came back from the dining room, but what the kitchen itself was throwing out.

As we began to use more and more fresh foods and fewer and fewer canned, frozen, and pre-packed foods, Mom started really trying to apply this idea to the way she approached our waste. Then she saw that she could apply it equally to the food left on the serving dishes after a meal. What a difference!

As an example of applying the idea of ingredients, a couple of days ago we had a nice evening meal. It was grilled steaks, boiled buttered potatoes with onion tops, and some really nice green beans. There was some of everything left over. Last night she took the potatoes and diced them up in 1/4" hunks, diced up the bit of steak, added some choziro along with a little salt, pepper and olive oil. Put it all in a skillet to brown it off and topped it with some eggs that were steamed on top. We had some really good hash and eggs for supper. Much better than the canned hash we've used in the past.

So, quit calling the food left on the serving dishes "Leftovers" and start calling it "Ingredients." Just changing what you call them will change the way you approach using them.

Thanks for reading, Dad

Productive Day!
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I have been cooking most of the day.

First was the tomatoes! We have a nice bunch of plants this year. I have been mostly just freezing the tomatoes whole for later use, but I am running out of space. Today, I quartered two pecks of tomatoes. Spread the cut tomatoes on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkled them with a seasoned salt and baked at 425 for 1.5 hours at which point the tomatoes were slightly browned in places and most of the liquid had evaporated. Then I dumped all that into my 14 cup food processor and pureed the mess! Now I have 4.5 cups of awesome roasted tomato sauce in the freezer.

Next was the peppers! I gathered all the red pimento peppers, the red poblanos, and the red Italian roasters. Only the poblanos are hot. The others are fairly sweet. The pimentos are very fleshy. I seeded and deveined the peppers, again, about two pecks. I cut the peppers into 1/2 inch chunks. I threw the pepper chunks into a stock pot with about 2 cups of water, 3/4 cup of peeled garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of vinegar, and 1 tsp of seasoned salt. I steamed the mixture for 10 minutes. After it cooled, I placed the peppers in the food processor which had about 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in it. I pureed the peppers. I froze some in one cup portions. This is going to be a great sauce over pasta! I froze two ice cube trays full of the sauce which I will remove from the trays and place in plastic bags once the cubes are frozen. This will provide seasoning cubes for dishes like chili or hummus.

As a way of cleaning out the food processor, I made hummus with chickpea flour. It was a nice late afternoon snack.

Then I finished up some hot red peppers I had dried earlier this week. After roasting and drying I had about 1/2 gallon of dried peppers. Today, I ground those in my spice grinder. The result was 1 cup of ground chili. I am going to treat it as if it were cayenne. Add it cautiously to dishes and add more only after tasting.

Country style pork ribs are in the oven for dinner. I need to make BBQ sauce to go with them as well as come up with some side dishes. So back to the kitchen!

Breakfast Smoothie
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1 Cup buttermilk
1 nicely ripened banana
2 TBS peanut butter
1 TBS honey

 

Put all ingredients into a wide mouthed quart jar. Blitz until smooth with stick blender.  Add ice. Drink. 

 

Liquid Cheesecake!

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Ultimate Quick Breakfast
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2 Slices of freshly toasted White Whole Wheat Bread
1/2 Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar
1 TBS Fruit Jam/Marmalade
2 TBS Chunky Peanut Butter
1 Cup Coffee
1 Glass Kefir

Place Hersheys bar atop on slice of warm toast. Spread one side of other piece of toast with peanut butter and then jam. Place second slice of toast jam side down atop the melting chocolate bar. Place on plate. Serve at table with coffee and Kefir.

High in protein, antioxidants, fiber, probiotics and pleasure!

Whiskey Cream Sauce
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Four Pan Grilled Steaks
1/2 cup diced onion (1/4 dice)
2 Tbs Butter
1/2 cup Southern Comfort
1/2 cup Beef Broth
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

 

1.  Pan grill steaks to on level below the desired doneness.  Place on a tray in a 170° F oven.

 

2.  Place pan in which steaks were grilled over medium heat.  Add onions and 1 Tbs of butter.  Cook onions while stirring frequently.  Cook them past clarifying to the point where the are just beginning to caramelize.

 

3.  Turn off burner.  This is important.  You don't want to ignite the alcohol fumes.  Add Southern Comfort and Beef Broth to the pan.  Turn burner back on.  Boil while stirring until liquid reduced by half.

 

4.  Add 1 Tbs of Butter.  Stir until melted.

 

5.  Add 1/2 cup of Heavy Cream.  Boil while stirring until liquid reduced by half. 

 

Serve with steaks.


Banana Bundles
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I had four bananas crying out to be used.  They were a bit beyond the stage needed for Bananas Foster.  But I liked the idea of a warm cinnamon-y experience.  Below is what I ended up doing.

 

For each serving: 

 

1 multi grain tortilla
1 medium banana, peeled
1 Tbs + 1 tsp sugar
1 Tbs butter
cooking spray

 

Process:

 

Spray appropriately sized baking pan with cooking spray.  Divide banana in half and place in center of tortilla.  Put 1 Tbs sugar, cinnamon, and butter atop the banana.  bring two sides of the tortilla up and over the banana and seasonings. Then fold over the other two sides the tortilla so that all of the filling is encased.  Place seam side down in baking pan.  Spray bundle with cooking spray.  Evenly spread 1tsp sugar on top of bundle.

 

Repeat as needed.

 

Bake at 425° F for 30 minutes. 

 

Serve on bowl with pan sauce drizzled over the top.

 

i

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Eating Out
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David and I seldom eat out now.  Quite a change from 15 years ago.  Here are the reasons why:

 

1.  Initially, David drove 85 miles to get home from work.  Eating out made that trip incredibly long as restaurants were at minimum twenty miles from home. 

 

2.  The money we might spend on eating out buys an incredible diversity of ingredients that keep our meals interesting. 

 

3.  My cooking skills were good 11 years ago when we began not eating out on week nights.  But they have improved tremendously with use.  This makes meals at home even more interesting.

 

4.  We have fun playing with food.  David is an excellent baker.  We bounce ideas off of one another.  It has become a form of play.

 

5.   We do eat out.  But when we do, it is a matter of necessity as in during travel or for pleasure.   When we find an establishment that serves good food in a quiet atmosphere, we rejoice.  Many are not pricey places.  We have found most chains that others rave about to be way too noisy.  That makes it hard to converse without shouting.

 

6.  I am not sure eating out is a timesaver.  By the time one drives to a restaurant and waits for the service,  dinner could be on the table.  Cleanup could be done in the time it takes to get home.

 

7.  It is much easier to monitor quantity and quality if food consumed by eating at home. 

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Now Serving....
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Well, it was served on Thursday for lunch.  But, I am at a model railroad operating session and unable to participate because of this darn leg.   So keeping myself busy playing on the internet.

 

Thursday found me needing to use a chicken breast before we left town for a long weekend.  I also needed to cook lunch in less than thirty minutes.   George Foreman Grill came to the rescue.

 

BBQ Glazed Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts

 

1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 tsp of "Pinch of This and a Pinch of That" *
4 strips of peppered bacon
2 tsp BBQ sauce

 

Cut chicken breast in half horizontally.  Sprinkle both sides with "Pinch of This and a Pinch of That".  Wrap each piece of chicken with two strips of bacon in a manner that covers all the chicken top and bottom. 

 

Place wrapped pieces on George Foreman grill and cook 9 minutes. 

 


Brush both sides of each piece with BBQ sauce and continue grilling for one more minute. 

 

Serve!


Now Serving....
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Deconstructed Mole Appetizers

Cracked Pepper Triscuit
Creamy Peanut Butter
Hershey's Chocolate sauce or homemade equivalent
One slice of Cowboy Candy (Sliced Jalapeno in syrup of sugar and vinegar)

Spread Peanut Butter onto Triscuit, drizzle with chocolate sauce, top with Cowboy Candy.

Eat!

"Come on, baby, Light My Fire!

Now Serving
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Fried Eggs on Toast with Parmesan Cheese and Jalapeno Sauce

 

For each serving:

 

1 slice warm buttered toast
1 over easy egg
1 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese*
1 Tbs Jalapeno sauce**

 

Place egg atop buttered toast.  Sprinkle cheese over egg. drizzle with pepper sauce.

 

* I have been saving cheese rinds to toss into soup.  I only needed a small amount of cheese for this dish.  I was amazed at how much cheese was available one what I had previously considered a rind.  makes me shudder about the amount I have wasted in the past.  One can eat well and still be thirfty.

 

** Comprised of a scant Tablespoin of red pepper puree mixed with 1/4 tsp pureed red jalapenos in vinegar (my way of preserving some of this year's harvest).  One could substitute Sriracha sauce for the Jalapenos in Vinegar.

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Now Serving
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Red Pepper Hummus

 

 

 

1/4 cup Red Pepper Puree*
1/2 cup Chick Pea flour**
1/2 cup boiling water
2 Tbs lemon juice
pinch salt
1 Tbs roasted sesame olive oil***

 

 

 

Mix all ingredients until no lumps appear.  let rest 30 minutes.  Serve with Tostito brand Artisan Recipe Fire Roasted Chipotle chips.

 

 

 

* puree was made from red bell peppers from our 2011 garden.  I roasted the peppers, pureed them, and froze in one cup portions.

 

 

 

**  I have found chick pea flour quite handy to have in the pantry.  I purchased mine from Amazon.  It is a product of Canada and very fresh.

 

 

 

*** This is a product of Heavenly Oils in Kansas City but sesame oils can be found in Asian food stores.  You will have to adjust the quantity of oil based on the flavor of the oil you have.  I would start out using half of the amount I used and add more if taste warrants more.

 

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Knife Skills
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This is an awesome infographic!

http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2012/10/knife-skills-infographic.html

Failed coconut/blood orange mayonnaise
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Yesterday I tried to make mayonnaise with coconut flavored balsamic vinegar and blood orange olive oil.

 

Disaster.  It never emulsified.  I used three eggs attempting to recover it.  After and hour of trying I poured the solution into a container to save in the fridge until my sanity had been restored.

 

After work while thinking an about ingredients to use for dinner, that goop was brought to mind.  The mind was apparently in better shape because it said,  "You have the equivalent of a hollandaise sauce.  Why not apply a bit of heat in the form of the microwave accompanied with some whisking to distribute the temperature evenly to see what you get?"

 


What I got was a lovely cooked dressing.  Rather uniquely flavored.  I am thinking it will make a good chicken and fruit salad. 

 

But I feel so much better now turning that project from fail to prevail!


Chocolate Cobbler..or the dessert our daughter would not eat
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Our lovely daughter is not fond of chocolate, so I cannot make this dessert for her to enjoy; but that's okay, it just means her father and I will have more of it to eat ourselves!

And for those who claim they cannot bake, this requires very little in the way of skilled technique. The most important thing is to follow the directions. When it says, "Don't Stir", it means it!

Ingredients

2 sticks butter
1 1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c self rising flour
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c milk
1 c sugar
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 c boiling water


Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

In a 9x13 glass baking dish, melt the two sticks of butter in the microwave oven.

Meanwhile in a bowl, mix together the 1 1/4cups of sugar, flour, vanilla and milk. Once the butter is melted pour the batter over the butter, but do not stir.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa and remaining sugar. Sprinkle cocoa/sugar mixture on top of batter. Do not stir.

Pour the 2 cups of boiling water on top of that (don't stir) and bake for 30-45 minutes. Serve warm. Great with ice cream

Guilt Free Frozen Confection
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I have found the best one ingredient recipe!  All it takes is Ripe Bananas.  

Essentially you will be creating a product that resembles a banana flavored soft serve ice cream, only you will use no ice cream.  

You wait until bananas are ripe, not overly so, but they should be beginning to soften and show some black spots on the skin.  Peel bananas and slice into 1 inch chunks.  Arrange chunks on a baking sheet.  Place baking sheet of bananas into freezer.  Freeze until solid.  Allow at least two hours.

Toss frozen chunks into your food processor.  Whirl until creamy and smooth.  It should resemble soft serve ice cream.

Serve!

One peeled banana weighs about four ounces and has about 105 calories.  So four ounces by weight of this confection is only 105 calories.  Reasonbly Guilt Free!

Luncheon Pizza -- Fish Curry
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Scotty Bender was a dear friend of my Mother-in-Law.  As a young bride, Scotty was cajoled by her spouse to pack him sandwiches for his lunch to save them money. During a nice spaghetti dinner, He errantly told her, "You can make a sandwich from anything."  The next day he had spaghetti sandwiches for lunch.  All subsequent business day lunches for him were acquired at nearby restaurants.

 

Today's lunch was very much in the Bender tradition.  Only this lunch was based on the premise that one can make pizza from anything.  I had one cup of a tasty fish curry sitting in the fridge.  I was trying to figure out an imaginative approach to its use in another meal when David informed me that he was putting the Naan dough in the fridge.  Holy Light Bulbs!  Today's lunch conception occurred.

 

6 oz 5 minute a day Naan dough
1 cup fish curry
1/2 jalapeno finely minced
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
2 oz gouda, finely grated
1 oz asiago, finely grated
2 tbs pine nuts
1/2 cup cucumber, finely diced
sour cream and chive dip

 

Preheat over to 450 F. 

 

Roll dough into 12 inch circle. Spread fish curry thinly over dough smashing lumpy bits as you go to cover more area.  Scatter pepper evenly over pizza.  Do the same with the onion.  Evenly cover pizza with gouda and then the asiago.  Lastly, sprinkle on the pinenuts.

 

Place on baking stone in hot oven.  Bake Ten minutes turning halfway through.  Let rest five minutes after removing from oven.

 

Serve with chopped cucumbers and chive dip.

 

Oh, we ate it so greedily we did not get pictures!

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Apple Bounty: Apple Juice/Cider/Vinegar Guidelines
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When we bought our place, we had four apple trees.  The oldest one has died, now we have three apple trees.  I had no clue how many apples that small number of trees could produce.  I love apple pie, but I could actually get burned out on too many apple pies!

One of the trees ripens in early July each year.  It's a tart apple that makes really good apple sauce.  This year we harvested one time.  We probably managed to get four bushels of apples off that one tree.  I have make three pies, one large apple crisp, and one small apple crisp.  I have made apple sauce and apple butter.  Then David went online shopping and found a fruit crusher and a fruit press.  We decided to bite the bullet as we have two more trees to harvest later in the year.  And we have wanted to make cider in the past.  Now that we have an apple picker on staff (retired gentleman that lives with me) we are likely to have more apples than usual harvested.

The crusher and press have arrived and have been used.  We now have a gallon of fresh pressed apple juice we need to do something with!  

We just winged the process!

Here is a link to how to do it safely.  http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/makingapplecider_uga.pdf

I think I will go pasturize some Apple Juice now!



First Apple Pies of the Season..
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.....have been baked.  One had been sample.  The other two are out for distribution.

1 10-inch pie to Mothers' and Others for my wonderful father in law to devour or share as he sees fit

1 5-inch pie for Meredith because David was headed that way for lunch and Meredith likes good food!  I think the pie qualifies.

So that did in 1/2 peck of apples.  Only about 1000 more pecks left on the trees.  I am seeing apple butter in my future.

Culminations of many things
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My Personal Trainer, Karla, went to Turkey.  She brought back to me a bag of red pepper and one of oregano.

My friend John bought a smoker.  So, David and I started playing with our Ultimate Turkey Roaster as a smoker atop our stove.

While in England with our friend Beth and her daughter Emily, we had some really wonderful Spanish oranges.  I picked up a bag of oranges when I got home thinking maybe I could relive that flavor but alas, the US oranges were wimpy in flavor.  So, I made preserved oranges to make the best of them.

I had some Greek yogurt that needed to be used.

~~~~~~ Imagine Lightning Bolt of Inspiration~~~~~

So, I mixed the pepper, oregano, and chopped preserved oranges into some Greek Yogurt.  I marinated boneless skinless chicken breasts for an hour in this mixture.  Then it smoked for about 1 hour.

OMG

It is wonderful.  I am going to serve it atop a salad for a meal when David gets home.






Surprisingly Good Breakfast
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David is preparing for a trip to St. Louis to play with other peoples' goodies at the Regional NMRA convention.  We packed the few breakfast bars we had left for him to have on the road to save some time and money as well as help keep the calorie load manageable.  So, I needed to be creative for breakfast.

 

1 toasted them buttered English Muffin, the last one left from Cam's visit
1/2 cup chopped liver

 

Spread chopped liver over English Muffin.  Eat.  Yum.

 

But, I should go brush my teeth again!

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Tomato Onion Jam
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Sounds somewhat weird a jam for tomatoes and onions, but it made a tasty sandwich spread.

4 cherry tomatoes chopped finely
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1 TBS Blood Orange Olive Oil (could substitute 1 TBS Olive Oil and a pinch citrus zest
1 TBS Muscatel Vinegar (could substitute same amount of Orange Juice)
1/4 cup honey
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper


Saute veggies in olive oil until onions are soft.   Add remaining ingredients and cook until thick and of spreading consistency.

This recipe makes enough for two sandwiches.

Today's Delightful Repast
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Creamy Greens and Garlic Soup

Spicy Chicken Taquitos


Grilled Pork Chops
Potato Salad
Broccoli with Ranchy Cheeze Sauce


Four Layer Chocolate Cake


Spicy Chicken Bundles
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momshearth

I baked chicken breasts earlier in the week.  I had one whole breast left over.  I have been saving it to do something special with.  Well, that's my excuse.  I just didn't want to eat a casserole.  It would have been lovely in a pot pie, but I couldn't bring myself make a casserole.  I like a variety of flavors in a meal and casseroles tend to be homogeneous.  So, I struck on this idea.

1 cooked chicken breast finely diced
.5 cup chopped onion
.5 cup minced cilantro
1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce
.5 cup grated strong cheddar cheese
6 6-inch tortillas
1 cup cooking oil
1 cup Ranch dressing.

About 1/3 from one side of a tortilla, build a long stack of chicken, onion, cilantro and  cheese (use 1/6 of each ingredient on each tortilla).  Sprinkle with hot sauce according to your hotness preferences.  Fold the end of the tortilla closest to the toppings over the toppings, then fold each side over that.  Finally, roll the tortilla over the fillings in an egg roll fashion.  Fasten with tooth picks to hold shapes.

Heat oil to just below the smoke point.  Fry the tortilla rolls in the hot oil, rotating so that all sides are browned evenly.  Once the roll has taken shape, the toothpicks can be removed.  When  the rolls are done cooking, drain on a paper towel lined plate. 

When cool enough to handle, serve with Ranch dressing.


Creamy Greens and Garlic Soup
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I needed to Iron Chef it today.  I had a bunch of lettuce that I had prepared earlier in the week for salads.  My new technique preserved the lettuce nicely, but after eight days the lettuce was showing it's age.  I still had one Knorr package of Chicken Stock remaining from our trip to the UK as well as one can of UK evaporated milk. I decidedto try a creamy lettuce soup (lettuce can be chopped and added to any complimentary soup).  I started off by roasting the garlic while working on cleaning things in the kitchen.  David went out to the garden and came back with a handful of Mustard Greens.  Ohhhhhhh....they would really jazz up the soup!  So that was the birth of a really pleasant first course for today's meal.

The soup was full of fiber and was no more costly in calories than a salad with dressing. 

3 cups chicken stock
1.5 quarts chopped lettuce
.5 cup mustard greens
.25 cup dried minced onions
1 head roasted garlic
.5 cup instant potato flakes
pinch of mixed herbs
.5 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup evaporated milk
Chili Threads

Bring stock, lettuce, greens, onions and goo from the roasted garlic cloves in a pot.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until the greens are tender and the volume is reduced by one half.  Add potato flakes, herbs and black pepper.  Puree with a stick blender.  Add evaporated milk.  Puree more.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings.  Simmer more if you desire a thicker consistency

Serve into bowls and garnish with chili threads.

Makes three servings.

Tonight's Delightful Repast
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Praline Bacon Wilted Spinach Salad

Baked Chicken
Roasted Greek Fingerling Potatoes

World Table: Chocolate Cinnamon Thins

Praline Bacon Wilted Spinach Salad
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1/2 cup of pecan halves
1 tsp canola oil
2 TBS brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt

4 strips of "streaky"* bacon cut into 1/2 inch squares
1 onion, chopped
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 TBS pomegranate molasses
2 TBS honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

2 quarts of washed and dried fresh spinach leaves

First, candy-coat the pecans:

Put oil and pecans into a skillet set on medium flame and toast the pecans while stirring for about five minutes. Add brown sugar and salt. Continue to stir, the sugar will liquefy. When the sugar has melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir more. As the sugar begins cool it will adhere to the pecans. Pour the mixture on the a baking sheet when the sugar begins to form lumps.  Spread across the pan so the pecans are in a single layer. After the pecans have cooled break into individual pecan pieces.

Next, make the dressing:

Put bacon into a skillet and cook slowly until crispy. Remove bacon pieces from the pan to hold for later use. Add onion to bacon grease and saute about four minutes until slightly softened but not transparent. Add all remaining ingredients except the spinach. Stir and heat to boiling. Shut off heat. Allow to cool to nearly room temperature.

Finally, toss and serve the salad:

Place spinach in a bowl big enough to hold all the spinach and toss. Pour cooled dressing over the spinach and toss together. Plate salads. Sprinkle reserved bacon and pecans over the top of the salad. Serve.

Note: I purchase Pomegranate Molasses at an East Asian store. Much cheaper there than in US local grocery stores where it is considered a "gourmet" ingredient. It lends a fruity tartness to things in addition to sweetness. Light mollasses could be substituted.

* We just got back from the UK.  When the term bacon is used there, it mean back bacon which is a cured pork loin product.  Back back is delightful, smoked or unsmoked.  In the US the bacon we are most familiar with is from the belly.  In the UK belly bacon is called streaky bacon.  If you happen to be fortunate enough to obtain some back bacon, enjoy it in some dish other than this one as it will not be fatty enough to produce the "oil" for the dressing.

Growing in water
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Recently I read about growing green onions on the window sill. It was a heel of palm to forehead moment. Why had I not tried this before.

So next trip to the grocery store, I bought three bunches. I cut the green tops from the white rooted ends, leaving about one inch of green with the white ends. I place the ends in a jelly glass with water and placed in a south facing window.

I used the greens in various recipes.

I added water to the onions every couple of days. But the end of week one, I had another bunch of green tops. This process has been repeated over the past four weeks. It's a wonderful way to have fresh scallions in the winter.

The onions need to be watered every couple of days. And, today I did some "cleaning" of the debris in the glass. Some of the original batch had not continued to live. I am also seeing that the whites themselves are getting smaller. So I am not sure how much longer I am going to have growing onions. But I have managed extend the amount of scallions I purchased by about four times so far. Not bad. Makes the cost of winter scallions more acceptable!

I am thinking of trying some other medium, should I find it, into which to place the roots. Some sort of carbon based pebble that would hold them upright as well as well as add a bit of filtration. But water would still be the primary growing medium.

Today I am thankful for...
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our new shared hobby of model railroading.  We get to share creative moments, hunt for just the right prop, research history and learn new things.

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Nice Meal
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David and I travelled into the big city this morning for the Wichita Model Train Show.  Dad Heinsohn joined us.  I am amazed at the size of the event.  But that is for a different blog.

 

We took a lunch break at N&J Cafe.  Wonderful Lebanese food.  I had the appetizer combination plate so that I did not have to choose:  kibbe, falafel, cabbage rolls, stuffed grape leaves, hummis, babba gahnosh, and tabbuli.  David had a gyro.  His dad had Beef Shwarma. 

 

It was nice to get reacquainted with one of Wichita's long standing establishments.

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New Years Celebrating
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We decided late Friday to give our new Ford Fusion Hybrid a break-in cruise
with a trip to the lovely Depot Inn and Suites in La Plata, Mo. The drive
up was lovely. The air was clear and the temperatures moderate. We broke
the trip into three parts. We stopped in Emporia for lunch are RuYi.
Yummy Pan Asian food. Then we stopped at Docs Caboose in Kansas City, Mo.
We reached the in about 6:30 pm.

This place is nearly a museum of railroads. There are two train cars out
back we will get to tomorrow. They are filled with more history items.
The hotel has an observation cabin that overlooks the two track mainline
operated by BNSF. We may be heading that way about 11:30 pm to join the
revelers.

We had dinner at the Red Rooster. Awesome croissants. Wonderful Broasted
Chicken. And an interesting Summer Wheat beer.

Pictures below:
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Tonight's Delightful Repast: Dessert
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Dessert was simply brownies made from a mix. But since I don't tend to
color within the lines, I used blended two oils to make up the measure
asked for on the back of the box. One half was canola oil and one half was
Blood Orange Olive Oil from Heavenly Oils in Zona Rosa. The brownies have
a delightful citrus undertone. The shiraz was a good accompaniment to the
brownies.

(Alas, no pictures.)

Tonight's Delightful Repast: Main Course
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Our local grocer had Rib Eye Roast on sale again this week. I purchased
one of about five pounds. I cut it in half. Tonight's preparation was to
simply coat the outside with a very generous layer of salt, freshly cracked
pepper and granulated garlic. I roasted it in a 500 ° F oven for thirty
five minutes and then shut the oven off. I let the roast rest in the oven
for about 1.5 hours. The roast came out well instead of medium. I should
have cut the initial high temp roast back to maybe twenty five minutes.

I served a Chimichurry Sauce along side the beef. We found the sauce made
a very good baked potato topper. This easy sauce was comprised of 1/4 cup
minced crushed fresh garlic, 1 cup minced fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup olive
oil, and a 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Pungent and flavorful.

The wine was Black Box Shiraz.
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Tonight's Delightful Repast: Salad Course
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The base was a layer of fresh spinach over which was distributed 1/4 cup
diced pepperoni, 1/2 cup diced celery, 1/4 cup diced radish, 1/4 cup diced
cucumber, 1 Tbs of finely grated asiago cheese, and 1 Tbs roasted salted soy
nuts.

The dressing was a Garlic Peppercorn Asiago which I whipped up. I mixed
1/2 cup real mayonnaise, 1/3 cup buttermilk, 1 tsp Freshly ground pepper,
1/4 cup finely grated Asiago cheese, and 1/2 tsp garlic.

We sipped glasses of chardonnay with this course. It was a fine box vintage.
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The Unhealthiest Cookbooks of 2011
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Books on might checkout from the library but not purchase!

http://www.foodista.com/blog/2011/12/29/the-unhealthiest-cookbooks-of-2011?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Mobile Posting/Crossposting
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I am attempting to catch up with the decade. I have finally setup a system
to post via email. I hope this will facilitate more writing and pictures.

I need to remember this one...
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Salads can be made up in mason jars and held in the refrigerator for several days.  The secret is to put the dressing in first so it's on the bottom of the jar.  Layer veggies and cooked grains on top of the dressing.  The add the greens last so the are on top of the jar.  The greens should not ever touch the dressing until just before the salad is eaten.  So, the jars will have to remain upright.


The kitchen smells heavenly...
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Lemon Peach Almond Bread is baking.


Really Awesome Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich that John would consider a Sacrilege!
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So, I was at the local grocery store in Strong City today performing some Retail Therapy.  They had Country Style Pork Ribs for $2.19 a pound.  The looked very meaty, so I decided they would be dinner.

When I placed them in the pan the looked like a truly different cut than I expected.  I think they were actually created from the end cuts of the loin.  In which case what a bargin!  I placed them in a Calphalon Everyday Pan and sprinkled them with a seasoning named "A Pinch of This and a A Pinch of That" (bottled in Wichita, Kansas and available at the Nifty Nut House (Yes, that is the correct name of the store!  Oh, the do sell nuts!)), added a teaspoon of liquid smoke, put a lid on it all and slid it into the 300 degree oven for three hours.  We both napped while they were cooking and awoke ravenous.

So I did not make any special sauce to go with the pork because I wanted to taste the impact of the seasoning.  Yum. 

David's second helping of the pork was a work of art.  Imagine this:

1.  Homemade Hamburger Bun, sliced, and the two halves "bagel toasted"
2.  Caramel Mustard spread on each cut side of the bun
3.  Sliced Dill Pickles placed on one side of the bun
4.  Pieces of Chili Seasoned Grilled Onions placed on the other side of the bun
5.  Pulled Pork place on top of the onions and the other bun half placed on the pork.


Oh, my!  An Epic Dish.  This would so be on my menu if we had a restaurant!

Pizza Part Two
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momshearth
I asked David to make a whole wheat crust for tonight's pizza adventure.  It was a nice change and an interesting contrast to the White Crust I posted about a couple of weeks ago.  The pizzas were tasty, but different.

Some observations:

1.  David used 50% Whole Wheat Flour and 50% White Whole Wheat Flour in the same quantity as the previous recipe.  Tonight's crust was drier in mouth.  Maybe it was the bran, but I am wondering if cutting the quantity of flour back when doing all whole wheat might improve things just a bit.

2.  The whole wheat crust worked really well with abundant toppings.

3.  The crust did not get as crispy as the White Crust did.

Pictures below:  Left half is Tomato Sauce, Pepperoni, Onion, Poblano Pepper, Three Cheese Mix.  Right half is Tomato Sauce and Three Cheese Mix.

Whole Wheat Pizza

My Friend the Stick Blender does it again!
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momshearth
So, we cleaned out the upstairs freezer this week.  I found that I had some interesting things up there.  Hmmm...what to do with two cups of nachos from a Mexican Restaurant?

Well, 

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped poblano pepper
1 TBS olive oil
1 quart of beef broth
2 cups of leftover nachos (chips, cheese, salsa, meat, beans, olives, jalapenos, etc)
5 oz evaporated milk
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 crushed corn chips


Saute the chopped onion and pepper in the olive oil until slightly browned.  Add broth and nachos.  Bring to a boil.  Still to break up nachos.  Add evaporate milk.  Tortilla chips should eventually dissolve.  When nicely heated through, puree with the stick blender.  Heat to serving temperature. 

Serve in a bowl with 2 TBS sour cream atop the soup.  Sprinkle crushed corn chips over all!

Serve with Moose Drool.

Most tasty!

Wonderful Food Vacation
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To mark David's retirement from Flight Safety International, we took a short excursion on Amtrak from Kansas City, MO to St. Louis, MO and back.  We were accompanied by Emily Leggett, age 12 and her mother Beth.  They were wonderful company and both are consummate foodies.

Beth and Emily stopped at the Farmer's Market in Platte City, MO to gather some goodies for those helping Friend John with his move as well as to fuel our training excursion the next day.  While they did not find the naughty bits they had hoped to, the did find Molasses cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Oatmeal Cookies.  Which did provide nice refreshment for the nice folks who assisted with the move.  Now we the four of us arrived at the Hotel, but broke out the good stuff  Cheddar Cheese Bread and yellow cherry tomatoes.  Awesome home baked goodness highlighted by the fruity goodness of the tomatoes.  Through out the trip the tomatoes offered low calorie refreshment with a nice spike of flavor and texture.

Saturday evening we had dinner at Kabuki in Crown Plaza.  It was like the only place open that seemed to have something other than fast food.  The staff was pleasant the atmosphere was welcoming.  The food was an incredible value.  The table had tempura, chiriasu, sukiyaki, and sushi.  All were well prepared for quality ingredients.  Additionally, the portion sizes were large.  Tempura Fried Ice Cream was had for dessert.  I would really like to go back again. 

That evening we tucked ourselves into bed so that we could make our early morning departure on the train.  We got the station about 7:15 and were all  (well at least the adults) sad to discover that Harvey house would not be open until 8 AM.  No coffee......Hopefully, Emily did not suffer too much from sharing about two hours with adults going through minor caffiene withdrawal symptoms. 

After boarding the train and getting seated in business class we found that we had to wait until the train had left the station to obtain our complimentary beverages.  Oh, was that coffee welcome!  It was not bad and it was freshly brewed.  Now the microwaved breakfast sandwiches had plenty of protein but the were MICROWAVED. The bread was toughed in that process.  It was however food!  For lunch we also had snack car food.  The Cheesburger was generous as were the Italian Subs.  But again, MICROWAVED.  As there was no other place to acquire food, it could have been worse, but it did not match our experience in the Snack Car of the EuroStar in 1999.

Sunday afternoon about 3 PM we arrived in St. Louis.  We took a taxi to our hotel the Drury Inn Union Station.  They have done a nice job of making use of the old railway workers' YMCA.  Emily was hungry for ice cream.  Her mother let her go to the lobby canteen to acquire some.  It was tasty Ben and Jerry's.  About 6 pm we all went down to the lobby where Happy Hour was being served.  I anticipated appetizers, but instead found it was nearly a full meal.  All of use probably put too much on our plates.  After seeing what a Drury Inn Happy Hour was, our impression of the cost of the room changed somewhat and the room became a much better value.  We could stopped the dining experience there, but no we decided that we would go to the restaurant in the basement of the Hotel.  It is call Lombardos.

Lombardos serves italian cuisine.  Several recipes on the menu indicated that they were made from recipes that had been in the family for at least three generations.  I decided that I just had to try the roasted ravioli and the flash fried spinach.  The ravioli was a bit heavy for my taste, but I can see that if one were hungry it would be a nice meal opener.  The Flash Fried Spinach was a dish I want to recreate in my own kitchen.  They fry fresh spinach leaves until crisp and serve piping hot.  I swear they must have presented me with what had started off as a pound of fresh spinach.  The frying intensified the spinach flavors in a very nice way.  The leaves of spinach were strong enough to survive the trip from the dish to your mouth were they crumbled into heavenly spinach flavor bursts that seemed to just dissolve on your tongue.  Definitely a repeatable experience.  The other three diners at the table had various forms of pasta.  All of which were found to be outstanding.

Sunday morning we had breakfast in the Hotel lobby.  Again, the buffet was generous with eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, bagels, waffles, juice, coffee, milk, etc.  I will definitely keep Drury Inns on my radar scope.

After breakfast we went across the street to visit the old Union Station.  St. Louis has built a lovely mall inside the area where the train boarding platforms once were.  After strolling the mall we went inside the old station building itself.  Lovely artwork on the wall.  It is eye candy!  It looked like the Station Grille located in the Marriott that is housed inside the old Union Station had a reasonable menu, so we decided to lunch there.  That was a wonderful decision.  Beth had a corn chowder that was incredible.  It has a rich corn flavor and a light texture with interesting seasonings.  David had a burger with potato chips.  That doesn't sound like much, but the bun was freshly baked and the potato chips were made just for him.  The chips were to die for.  I had a flat bread pizza with pesto, chicken, goat cheese and pistachio.  Sounded strange but the flavors combined perfectly.  The wait staff was excellent and food oriented.  It was quite a nice place to lunch and I would highly recommend to anyone else.  I believe the seasoning of the food we at the Station Grill was nearly perfect.  It matched the seasoning of the food at Krause Dining in Lawrence, Kansas.

On the train trip back home, we had more cheese bread and tomatoes as well as snack car food. 

It was a fun trip filled with unexpected culinary surprises.

Recipe for Thin-crust Cheese Pizza
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momshearth
Dough:

16 1/2 ounces (3 cups)bread flour, plus more for the work surface
2 TBS sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid rise yeast
1 1/3 cups ice water
1 TBS vegetable oil, plus more for work surface
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

Sauce:

1 cup tomato sauce
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Cheese:
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces shredded whole-milk mozzarella

1. For the dough: Place dry ingredients in Kitchenaid mixing bowl. With paddle attached, dry blend those ingredients until mixed. With machine running add water. Mix until ingredients are just combined. Let rest ten minutes.

2. Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clings to the side of the bowl. Remove dough from bowl, knead briefly on lightly-oiled counter top until smooth, about one minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in an oiled zip lock bag. Seal. Place in refrigerator for 24 hours minimum and up to 3 days.

3. For the sauce: Mix all ingredients

4. To bake the pizza: One hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack to second highest position (4 to 5 inches below the broiler), set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide in half. Shape each half into smooth tight ball. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray. Let stand 1 hour.

5. Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour and place on a well-floured counter top. Using fingertips, gently flatten into 8 inch disk. (David got out his carpenter's tape measure for this procedure!) Leave 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker than the center. Using hands, gently stretch disk into 12-inch round, working along edges and giving disk quarter turns as you stretch. Transfer dough to well-floured peel (use semolina flour if available to you) and stretch into 12-inch round. (David got out the tape measure AGAIN.) Using back of spoon or ladle, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce into thin layer over surface of dough, leaving 1/4 inch border around edge. (David DID NOT get out the tape measure to check my work at this stage.) Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan evenly over the sauce, followed by1 cup mozzarella. Slide pizza carefully onto stone and bake until crust is well browned and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pizza halfway through. Remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Repeat step 5 to shape, top, and bake second pizza.

Reheating: We found that a preheated 350 degree oven and oven stone reheated the pizza well. We monitored it's progress, but it took no more than ten minutes to heat to perfect eating temperature. I found the crust actually better on reheat because it was more crunchy!

Wrapping: I made sure I protected the stored pizza from drying out by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap. We lost no toppings with this method and there was little if any moisture loss.

Cold Pizza: Two days after baking and one day after reheating: We had two pieces remaining that we used as cold appetizers. The pizza was still tasty then.

Toppings: Keep them to a minimum so that the crust will bake through. Author recommends no more than 6 ounces of veggies per pie. They should be thinly sliced and slightly cooked, sauteed or microwaved before using. Leafy greens and herbs are best placed beneath the cheese to protect them during baking. They can be added raw after baking. No more than 4 to 5 ounces of precooked meat should be added. Drain fat from cooked meats.

This is definitely a keeper recipe. One of the best we have tried from Cook's Illustrated.

Pizza...
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momshearth
A recent issue of Cook's Illustrated had a recipe for the ultimate homemade pizza. David decided to make it tonight. I am so glad he did. It was most tasty.




The four slices in the top of the photo are of the BBQ Chicken Pizza we did. And the lower four slices are a Classic Cheese Pizza. Both were very tasty.

The differences in this recipe were:

1. Mix dough 24 hours before baking and store in fridge until two hours before shaping. This hydrates the flour.
2. Stretch dough into shape.
3. Only 1/2 cup of sauce used on the crust.
4. Lighter on the toppings makes for a better crisper crust.
5. Oven at 500.
6. Pizza stone thoroughly saturate with heat.

I will post recipe later...

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