Keep It Simple

Bacon and Onion Pizza
I love making pizza.

I have this magical bread machine that makes the pizza crust for me. It’s so fluffy! I highly recommend getting a bread machine. Even if all you ever use it for is pizza dough, it’s totally worth it.

Rising Pizza Dough
I do stray a little from the original bread machine’s recommended whole wheat pizza crust recipe. I’ve found that an extra 20 minutes of rising time makes a huuuuuuuuuuge difference in the ease of shaping. And whole wheat pastry flour has consistently turned out softer, crispier crust than regular whole wheat flour.

Pizza Stone
I also find that scattering cornmeal on my pizza stone is essential. There is nothing worse than a pizza slice that won’t come off the stone. Truly a sad business.

Pizza Dough
I roll the dough out right on the stone. That way, I know exactly what size to make it, and I don’t have to try to transfer the dough. We all know how **awesome** I am at working dough.

**Ha!!**

Curled Crust
Just roll the dough out slightly larger than the stone, and then curl the edge back onto itself.

Pizza Sauce
When it comes to sauce, less is more. You need to make sure it touches all the edges, but too much sauce gives you pizza soup when you take it out of the oven.

Pizza
I make no judgements on how much cheese you want to use. Cheesiness is a personal choice, and I believe that we should never judge each other’s choices.

I tend to love pizzas that don’t have too much going on. Don’t get me wrong, if it’s pizza, I will like it. But my favorites tend to have only one or two toppings. Bacon and onion; pineapple and Canadian bacon; arugula and prosciutto; just olives.

In the oven
And whatever you do, do not take your pizza out of the oven before your cheese is bubbly and starting to brown! It’s important.

Bacon and Onion Pizza
Pizza and salad. The perfect, simple dinner.

Bacon and Onion Pizza
Makes one medium pizza. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes.

Pizza Crust:
**Every bread machine will probably have different instructions, so be sure to read the directions. The way mine works, it takes about an hour and a half from the time I throw in the ingredients to the time I’m pulling out the dough for an extra rise.

1 1/4 cup of warm water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in order into the bread machine. Use the “Dough” setting.
When the machine is fully through the cycle, place the dough into a greased bowl and let it sit, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 20 minutes. Then spread some cornmeal onto a pizza stone, and roll the dough onto the pizza stone, draping the dough over the sides of the stone. Curl the edges of the dough back onto itself, pressing gently.

Toppings:
3/4 cups pizza sauce (I made a batch of this sauce, and then pureed it in the food processor)
1 1/2 to 2 cups freshly grated mozzarella
2 strips of bacon, diced
1/4 cup of thinly sliced onion

Preheat the oven to 400F. Assemble your pizza, in ingredient order, onto the uncooked pizza dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is crispy and browning. Slice with scissors or a pizza cutter, and serve hot.

Apple Oatmeal Cookies

Apple Cookies
I’m not sure what happened to all of my cookies. These lasted all of two hours before they vanished.

Apple Cookies
I restrained myself from eating the dough, which was no easy feat.

Apple Cookies
And they definitely came out of the oven…

Apple Cookies
They made it to the cooling rack. But then?

Apple Cookies
One by one, they disappeared!

Huh, I guess I’ll just have to make more.

Apple Oatmeal Cookies
Makes approximately 36 cookies

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oatmeal (this is the amount before blending), blended
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 to 2 large apples, chopped

Preheat oven to 375F

Start by making oat flour. Place 2 1/2 cups of oatmeal into a blender or food processor. Pulse on low until the oats resemble gravely sand.
Cream butter, applesauce and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla.
Add flour, oats, baking powder and baking soda and mix. Add the apples and gently combine.
Drop onto a cookie sheet or stoneware pan, and bake 15 to 20 minutes, just until golden brown.

These cookies are perfect on their own, but you can add vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for an extra decadent dessert.

Steamy Rice and Beans

Rice and Beans with Chicken
I love elaborate recipes. I really do.

But 90% of the time, I’ll look at an elaborate recipe with 20 ingredients and think, “Yeah right! Not tonight, my friend.”

Which is a pity, because ingredient lists can be deceiving as far as effort involved.

On the other hand, if I come across a recipe with only 3 or 4 ingredients, I’ll probably dismiss that one too. “Not exciting. Probably has ‘boxed something’ as an ingredient.”

Sometimes I’m too judgmental.

While this list looks medium-longish, just look at the process:
Rice and Beans with Chicken
Rice

Rice and Beans with Chicken
Sauce

Rice and Beans with Chicken
Beans

Rice and Beans with Chicken
Broth and chicken

Cover and cook. Eat.

And don’t get a steam burn!

No seriously, DON’T get a steam burn. I went to pull off the aluminum foil, and my hand got in the way of the escaping steam. It was one of those burns that actually took a second to reach my brain. At first it was like, “oh that was kind of hot,” and a second later I was jumping around the kitchen waving my hand in the air like I just didn’t care. Then I remembered to run it under cold water.

I’m quick like that.

Hours later, I was STILL icing my fingers because they felt like my skin was melting off. Unwrap with caution, folks.

Steamy Rice and Beans
Serves 4-6
Adapted from eat, live, run

2 chicken breasts, diced (or leave out the chicken!)
1 cup dry rice (I used Jasmine rice)
8 oz can of tomato sauce
14 oz can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne, depending on how much kick you’re looking for.
guacamole for topping (I’m kind of obsessed with the Wholly Guacamole from Costco. Best ingredients list I’ve seen on store-bought guacamole.)

Preheat the oven to 350F

In a 9×13″ dish, pour in the rice, tomato sauce and kidney beans. Add the spices to the broth and whisk together. Pour the broth over the rice and beans, and give the pan a little stir. Add the chicken, and then cover the pan very tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 90 minutes with the foil on.

CAREFULLY remove the aluminum foil, top the casserole with guacamole, and serve.

Yours truly with peeling fingers,
Jo

Fool Proof but without any proof Quiche

Let’s pretend this is a photo of a beautiful quiche, ok?

Quiche Drawing

And it’s all steamy, and delicious smelling, and puffy.

Puffy is a very important quality in quiche. And don’t tell me you can’t smell food photos. You may need to get your nose checked, ok?

In true Jo fashion, I made yet another meal that I took no photos of.

Not one. Not even an instagram shot.

I am so winning at being a food blogger!

Oi.

Vegetable Quiche
serves 6-8

1 Pie crust (this is the one I used)
9 eggs
1/3 cup milk (I used whole milk)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 or 1/4 tsp cayenne (or none if you don’t want any kick)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F

In a bowl, beat the eggs until all the yolks have broken and are combined.
Add the milk and spices and continue to beat until the egg mixture starts to get thick and frothy.
Stir in the vegetables and half of the mozzarella, and then pour the mixture into your pie crust. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the quiche is set in the middle. If your pie crust starts to get too brown, line it with some tin foil. Serve while hot.

I’ve never had good luck saving quiche for leftovers. I’ve just never been able to reheat it well. Anyone have any suggestions?

Well, if this isn’t inspiration

Then I don’t know what is.
New Oven!

I know I haven’t posted anything in awhile. And while I’m kind of sorry about that, I also really enjoyed the downtime.

I took some time to take photos just for fun. And because I wasn’t trying to get any kind of photo in particular, it helped me improve my skills a little.
Hellooooooo F stop!
Dandelions
Exhibit A

My Bubble
Exhibit B

And to be quite honest with you, I was feeling a bit uninspired in the kitchen. I know, right? Kind of lame for a food blogger to stop having fun in the kitchen.

I don’t want to post fluff just so I can say I posted something. I write when I’m inspired. Or when I’ve had a success.

Or an epic failure.

And there were so many other things happening in my life–all for the good!–that what we were eating for dinner just kind of went on the back burner. (Kitchen pun! It’s ok, I know I’m hilarious.)

But let’s get back to that gorgeous photo at the top.

Dude, we got a new oven!

New Oven!
It bakes! (And doesn’t take 40 minutes to preheat)

New Oven!
It cooks! (Well, I guess technically I cook, but that’s beside the point)

I’m in love.

Between the new oven and my dreamboat, I’m kind of in heaven. And! I’m ready to get back in the kitchen.

Watch out world!

Dreamboat

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you My KitchenAid Stand Mixer:
Homemade Raviolis
(The folks at KitchenAid have no idea I exist, and I’m not getting paid or perked in any way. I’m just seriously in love with my mixer, and my amazing husband who gave it to me. This is a total gush post.)

Remember last Christmas when I yelled at family? This year was stunned silence. Speechless awe.

Yeah, Nick gets me. He knows what’s what.

And this mixer is what, let me tell you!

‘Cause it has attachments, you see.
Homemade Raviolis
Like pasta rollers.

And my talented husband knows how to work that roller.

Sure, the filling tasted amazing. And balsamic brown butter sauce is epic. But paper thin pasta rolled to perfection just can’t be beaten. Or competed with, really.

And making cookies with this mixer? No sweat.

Literally! I don’t have to mix the chocolate chips in by hand anymore!

You know how some people choose a certain car or shoe designer to fall head over heels for?

For me, it’s this mixer. And I anticipate we’ll spend many happy years together.

Now it just needs a name…

A new take

IMG_0034
Remember those bacon things?

Sometimes I like to mix it up, without having to work or think too hard.
IMG_0007

Quick and easy, same steps, sweet not savory.
IMG_0027

Should I be calling these apple turnovers?
IMG_0030

That just doesn’t seem like something I’d do.

Call something by its proper name? Not me!

IMG_0045
Breakfast just got fancy.

I made bacon things and apple things, which is why there’s bacon in the photos. I briefly considered combining everything into bacon/apple things, but I was lazy. It will happen soon, don’t you worry!

Apple Things
Makes 8

2 apples (of your favorite variety) sliced thinly
1 can crescent rolls
8-12 tsp cream cheese
brown sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375F.

I’ve made these with baked apples and raw apples. Honestly, there isn’t much of a difference, so if you’re pressed for time, just slice the apples and go.

“Bake” the sliced apples by gently heating them in a skillet or griddle over medium heat. You may want to use a little cooking spray to keep them from sticking.
In the meantime, spread out the crescent rolls. Drop a teaspoon to teaspoon and a half of cream cheese on each. Sprinkle the cream cheese with brown sugar and cinnamon. Top with several slices of apples, and roll up the crescents.
Bake for 16 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for several minutes before serving.