Yesterday was my first post on Simple Bites! I shared the recipe for this very yummy Taco Bake as well as some helpful tips on how to get your kids (or adult counterpart) to eat their veg. You can read the post here. I”d love to see you there and hear your veggie tips too!
Thank you everyone for your well wishes last week! We are feeling much better after a very restful weekend.
I try and make a point of making as many things from scratch as possible. Not only is it healthier and cheaper then eating out, but it”s darn satisfying when you are able to make something that is better then store-bought or is restaurant quality.
Pizza was always one of those things that I didn”t make at home very often because my husband simply preferred the frozen or pizza shop variety. In large part, it was because most homemade pizzas are doughy and heavy. But, I”m happy to say that I finally perfected the perfect pizza crust for my husband and he now prefers my pizza over all others. Woot!
This dough is perfect because it draws all the attention to the toppings rather then the crust, which is just the way we like it. The dough is so pliable (due to the amount of vinegar) that it can be easily stretched to the thickness desired. It also freezes like a dream with no adverse affects. When I make it for us I always throw one ball of dough in the freezer immediately, along with half the sauce, and then I have it on hand for a busy day.
I”m still on search for the perfect pizza sauce, but this is so far the favorite and my go to for now. I will share my findings if that perfect pizza sauce ever smacks me in the face.
Are you a pizza topping or thick and crusty dough person? I think for me it depends on my mood and if the crust is done right. Feel free to share any yummy pizza sauces or perfect crusty dough”s in the comment section below.
Thin Crust Pizza Dough
Step by step photos at bottom of post.
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1.5 tsp. yeast
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3-4 cups flour
- Stir together water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over top. Let proof for 10 min.
- Stir in oil, salt, vinegar and 2 cups flour until well incorporated.
- Add additional flour and knead until pliable and barely sticky.
- Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
- Once doubled. Punch down and divide into two portions.
- Roll and stretch each piece of dough to cover a large un-greased baking sheet. Cover with pizza sauce and toppings of choice.
- Bake at 500ºF for 10-12 min. until browned and bubbly.
1 pizza serves: 4
* You can either bake this on a large cookie sheet or an 12×15 inch jelly roll pan.
* If you are only making one pizza now you can freeze the other dough for later use. Grease the inside of a ziploc bag with cooking spray, drop the dough ball in and seal. To use later: take the dough out in the morning or at lunch time and allow to thaw at room temperature (it needs approximately 5-6 hours). Remove from bag and proceed as usual.
Simple Pizza Sauce
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 can diced italian seasoned tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp. oregano
- Cook onions in oil until soft. Add garlic and allow to cook until softened. Do not brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 30 min.
Makes enough sauce for 2 pizza”s
* For a smooth sauce, puree once cooked.
(click to enlarge)
My sonny boy and I have not been feeling very good these days. We pace around the house sniffling and sneezing and saying, “Owie. Owie”. Well, that last part is only him, although I must admit that sometimes I’m tempted to chime in.
These hazy days make eating not so much fun and it has been a struggle for Max to get anything down his poor little swollen throat. So, I figured it was time for some warm and hearty soup.
This Ham and Rice Soup is comfort in a bowl. It’s creamy, chunky and satisfyingly delicious. A warm bowl of yummy goodness to soothe those aches and pains and gain some strength back. It’s definitely not low calorie, but that’s what you need to keep the meat on your bones. :) It’s also a great way to use up any leftover rice or ham that’s stored away in your fridge.
Creamy Ham and Rice Soup
- 6 Tbsp. butter
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 1 small carrot, peeled and grated
- 1/3 cup flour
- 3.5 cups chicken broth (2- 14oz cans)
- 1 cup finely chopped cooked ham
- 2 cups leftover cooked rice
- 1 cup half and half cream
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a medium size saucepan cook green onions and carrots in butter to soften. Add flour and stir until thoroughly combined with butter.
- Slowly add chicken broth, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Bring to a boil and simmer 2 min.
- Add ham, rice, cream, salt and pepper. Heat through, but do not bring to a boil.
* 3.5 cups water plus 2 bouillon cubes may be used in place of the chicken broth.
In other news, I have entered two of my recipes into the Foodista recipe contest. The winning recipes will be published in their upcoming cookbook. Voting is open until the end of March. To vote for me click on the icons at the top right of the page. And, if you have a recipe entered let me know, so I can vote for you!
What is your favourite food when you have the sniffles? Have a great weekend everyone!
Nothing is more frustrating to me then wasting food. Whether it be because I burnt something, forgot about it in the back of my fridge, made something less then stellar, or simply bought too much of it. Whatever the case, I hate to throw away food.
One of those foods that seems to always go bad before it”s eaten in our house is bread. One of my largest hinderances to baking fresh bread is knowing that it will probably go stale before we are even halfway through it. And, since I don”t like anything to be a hinderance to me in the kitchen, I got to work figuring out ways to use it up without having to gag on the dryness.
Two of my favourite ways to use up those bread scraps are to make homemade croutons and breadcrumbs. Not only does it save us money, but since they are things that we use on a regular basis, it”s nice to know that they are much healthier being made at home. Not to mention extremely easy.
Below are instruction on how to make both croutons and breadcrumbs as well as recipes for Parmesan Garlic Croutons and Italian Breadcrumbs. Here are a few tips on how to go about it.
- Do not use already stale bread. If you don”t like to eat stale sandwiches you won”t want to eat stale croutons either.
- If you find yourself with lot”s of little scraps that don”t seem worth the effort to turn into something else, freeze them. Once you have a larger collection, pull them out and get to work.
- If you do freeze your bread, this will probably mean you have a variety of breads stored away. The combination of breads will add a more complex flavour as well as some pizzaz to both the croutons and the breadcrumbs.
- If there is any moisture in either the breadcrumbs or the croutons, they will not be able to store at room temperature without going mouldy. If you would like, you can store them in the freezer. If they regain any moisture, simply give them a short toast to perk them up.
- To make croutons: cube some bread, toss it with oil and herbs, and bake at 375ºF until golden and crisp (15-20 min).
- If you use only olive oil and no other perishable ingredients you can store these sealed at room temperature.
- If you use butter in place of oil, or fresh herbs or garlic, you must store the croutons in the freezer.
- Some topping ideas: oregano, garlic, parmesan, thyme, basil, onion powder, parsley, rosemary, flavored oil.
- One slice of bread will yield approximately 1 cup of croutons, depending on the size of loaf.
- A standard recipe for croutons is: 2 cups cubed bread, 1.5 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp. dry herbs.
The Process[nggallery id=9]
Parmesan Garlic Croutons
- 4 cups bread cubed
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/4 tsp. parsley
- 1 Tbsp. finely grated parmesan cheese
- Toss the bread cubes in oil until well coated. Sprinkle on spices and cheese. Toss until evenly distributed.
- Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 375ºF for 15-20 min. until browned and dry, stirring halfway through cooking time.
- Allow to cool completely before storing in a plastic container (or bag) in the freezer.
- In order to achieve the crispy breadcrumbs you purchase at the store, you will want your bread to be completely dried out and toasted. To do this, place slices of bread on a baking sheet, in a single layer, and bake at 300ºF for 10-15 min. until dry, flipping halfway through cooking time.
- If your bread is already quite dry and you are only making a small amount you can rather toast it in the toaster until dry.
- Once the bread is toasted, allow it to cool completely and then chop it roughly and place it in a food processor. Process until fine crumbs are created.
- If you are not able to achieve fine crumbs then the bread still has too much moisture. Place the crumbs onto a baking sheet and bake again until completely dry.
- Always allow to cool so that no moisture can build up, then process again until you are able to achieve the texture of crumbs that is desired.
The Process[nggallery id=10]
adapted from cdkitchen
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1/4 tsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. oregano
- Mix all ingredients together and store in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.
Do you make homemade croutons or breadcrumbs? If so do you have any tips to share? What”s are your favourite flavours?
The first time I made this recipe was in my first year of marriage and I accidentally subbed three cups of flour for the three teaspoons called for in the recipe. It became more like a cake then a tart, but it was still delicious. You”ll never guess what happened this time I made it. I put in three tablespoons of flour instead of three teaspoons. Dang it! Why is three teaspoons so hard to remember! I have made it the correct way, I promise, and it looks and tastes just like this, just even more gooey.
Butter Tarts are considered a Canadian treat and are similar to the more familiar Pecan Pie in look and flavour. This recipe deviates from the norm and becomes more simple by being baked in a 9X13 pan, rather then into individual tarts. That coupled with the shortcrust bottom, makes this super quick and hassle free. It also makes a great party treat as it makes a large amount and can be picked up with your hands. You might consider making it for an Olympic party to show off your skills at Canadian cuisine. :)
It may not be the most attractive looking desert but after one bite of gooey goodness, you won”t mind.
Butter Tart Slice
adapted from Grand Slam
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup butter, softened
- pinch salt
- Combine ingredients until evenly distributed (I like to use my hands in order to feel for clumps). Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 pan.
- 2 cups brown sugar, packed
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- pinch salt
- 3/4 cup coconut
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup raisins
- 3 tsp. flour
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- In a large bowl combine first 7 ingredients (the “drys”). Add eggs and butter. Stir until well combined. Poor over prepared crust.
- Bake at 350º for 35 min. or until filling is set. Cut into bars to serve.
* This tastes equally delicious served warm from the oven as it does at room temperature. Although, once it has cooled it will be easier to handle.
* Store in an airtight container at room temp.
I made this salad for my company over the weekend. I had plans to make a couple different salads but we all liked this one so much that we couldn’t seem to stay away from it. Sorry Mr. Caesar, you have been trumped.
This is my favourite homemade vinaigrette so far. Most are too oily for my taste, but this one melds together so perfectly it’s hard to tell the ingredients apart. I was quite surprised at how fruity the vinaigrette tasted. In fact, I was asked what type of fruit was in the dressing. I suspect that could be in part, because of it’s lovely pink hue.
It pairs wonderfully with a simple salad of greens, fruit and nuts. It also makes a wonderful dip for fresh fruit. I seriously can’t get enough of it. If a dressing is so good that I can’t stop eating my fruits and veggies, then I know its a keeper.
Red Onion Vinaigrette
adapted from Grand Slam
- 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
- 1 Tbsp. water
- Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
- Store covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Makes: 2/3 cup
* Stir before each use.
Simple Salad with Oranges and Almonds
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup canned mandarin oranges, drained
- 3 Tbsp. red onion vinaigrette
- Clean spinach and tear or cut into bite sized pieces.
- Place a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add almonds and toast just until fragrant.
- In a large bowl, toss together spinach, almonds and oranges.
- Add dressing and toss to coat. Taste. Add more dressing if necessary. Serve immediately.
Makes: 4 (1 cup) portions
* Use any combination of greens, fruit and nuts that you like.