Houston Pizza love and ‘Artisan Pizza in 5 Minutes a Day’

hungrykatie bakes pizza

Can we all just agree that freshly baking bread is the best smell to come home to?  Okay, pizza AND fresh chocolate chip cookies.

Our house is full of pizza fanatics – a gluten-y habit that gets quite pricey when you choose to frequent the gourmet pizza shops in town.  If you’re ever in Houston, our go-to pizza joints are:

  • Bombay Pizza – an Indian pizza restaurant, you’ve never eaten anything like it
  • Pink’s Pizza – perfect for a GIANT quick slice or a fancy
  • Star Pizza – great whole wheat crust and a vegetable pizza that means serious business
  • Dolce Vita – a quirky restaurant in an old house with great veggie apps too
  • Piola – a fantastic happy hour and dinner spot with amazing gnocchi to boot

Pizza in 5 Minutes

To squash the extra spending and to master our own pizza creations, I bought Adam a nifty cookbook (and pizza stone and pizza peel) called:  Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day.

The idea of the book (see their site here) is that bread and pizza making should be fast and easy.  Basically, you prep a batch of dough to keep in your fridge and whenever you’re ready to bake something amazing you grab it, roll it and bake it.  Voila!  Cheap, easy, fast and satisfying.

We’ve most frequently made the ‘master recipe’ and olive oil variation – a batch makes about 7-8 pizzas (and way more bread sticks if you’re going that route).  The American Style pizza and dough Cornmeal Olive Oil dough are worth trying too.

Photo from Diggin’ Food

Ever find a recipe that you simply cannot stop making?  Even if you’re the only one in the house that eats it and you’re starting to get weird looks from the rest of the family?

This slow roasted tomato recipe from the Created for Joy blog has become a serious obsession with me.  Thanks to this discovery, there are few meals at home now that I don’t sneak them into now.

And likewise, there are no trips to the grocery store that don’t involve buying a tub of cherub tomatoes so that I can get my fix again.  Seriously, I’m obsessed and you’ll go crazy over the SUPER tomato-ness that brings a bit of fresh and bright homegrown tomato flavor into your meals this winter.

Smitten Kitchen also has a simple and similar slow roasted tomato recipe, but I prefer the higher oven temp and longer oven stay (not to mention the stupid simple ‘cook while you sleep’ idea).  Simply So Good makes hers with Roma tomatoes, which I will totally be trying during tomato season.

So so so so good and easy enough to do while you’re sleeping (literally, I leave them in the pre-heated oven overnight and wake up to juicy red treasures in the morning).  Add to your morning eggs, salads, pastas, sandwiches, pizza, soups – or just eat them by themselves and relish each delicious, delightful, intensely flavored bite.

Like I said… obsessed!

Easy fresh herb salmon love in the oven

Baked salmon dinner

Oh the delight of an occasional perfectly cooked filet of salmon topped with your favorite fresh flavors.

I’ve been sneaking in some fresh salmon lately to feed my cravings.  But, since no one else in this veggie household will touch the (delicious) stuff, I’m way out of practice on cooking anything fish related.

That’s why this slow baked salmon recipe from The Kitchn is so beyond perfect.  It gives you the flakiest, most flavorful cook possible with ingredients straight from your garden and it’s a breeze.Baked salmon with fresh herbs

It all starts with super ingredients and thoughtful seasoning – good olive oil, organic or homegrown herbs and really fillets are what makes the meal.

Spinach, artichoke hearts and red peppers

And pay attention to your sides too.  Use what’s in season and/or what’s in your pantry and garden.

Roasted squash

Sometimes the memory of a good restaurant dish is what drives me to combine flavors sans recipe – and I love how consistently wonderful the act of roasting veggies with a good EVO is to any meal.

Weekly menu August 2013: Quinoa casserole and veggie butter chickpeas

Roasted cauliflower with Alfredo sauce from The Shiska

A week’s worth of quick assembly and fast heat up meals – mostly vegan and all delicious:

Lots of my recipes this week came from the Once a Month Mom website – I subscribed most of this year and am now transitioning back to a more regular cook-ahead meal plan.

I’ve also been really inspired by Mavis from the 100 Dollars a Month blog.  She posts a lot about gardening, putting up food and eating in season and under budget.

Lots of simple, yet yummy, meal opportunities this week.  We’re still going strong on the homemade pizzas, thanks to the awesome Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day book.

It’s so easy to jazz up even a super simple 32 bean soup (yay Whole Foods bulk shopping) with a delicious side of breadsticks and heavenly pies.  What are you eating right now?

Berbere seasoning – ‘awesomely’ spicy and soup friendly

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Penzey’s Spices is always one of those especially fun shopping trip stops, wielding the power to completely upgrade all of your at-home cooking experiences for weeks.

A visit there this weekend helped replenish our flavor stores of Sunny Paris blenddouble strength vanilla extract, hot curry powder and a larger jar of Mural of Flavor blend.

Best of all, we also got to snag a complimentary bottle of last catalog issue’s featured product:  Berbere seasoning – in their words:

Awesomely hot and spicy North African-style hot
pepper blend. Also known as peri peri or bere bere.
No salt, no mild paprika, just a lot of Cayenne Red
Pepper with the rich flavors of fenugreek and
cardamom. It’s not just hot, it’s peri peri hot.
Hand-mixed from: cayenne red pepper, garlic, ginger,
fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, black pepper, allspice,
turmeric, cloves, Ceylon cinnamon and coriander.

The berbere’s tasty heat really perked up this lentil and veggie stew I made – loosely based on a recipe from Penzey’s themselves.  Great for cleaning out veg you’ve got in your fridge and for baking biscuits, perhaps, to mop it all up.

Chop the veg you’ve got and pick some (root vegetables are grand) to roast, drizzled in olive oil, for 40 minutes or so at 375 degrees:

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Bring 8 cups of veggie broth to a boil with 1 cup of green lentils – add the remaining veggies (both raw and roasted) after 10 minutes and cook until tender.  Add 1-3 Tbsp of Berbere seasoning, start off with a light hand.  This rosy red spice blend packs a punch that’s hard to take back :)

berbere soup and spice

Top with goat cheese, Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper.  We had some naan on the side too, ever the suckers for dipping bread into things at meals.

Garlic naan from Trader Joes

It was an easy and tasty Sunday night dinner – thanks to Penzey’s :)  See more great vegetarian friendly recipes on my ‘Food For Friends and Fun’ Pinterest board.  xo

 

Weekly menu 4.21.2013: Bánh xèo, avocados + goddess bowls

Perfect toast pic from How Sweet Eats

Perfect toast pic from How Sweet Eats

I’m in the noodles, quinoa bowl and savory crepes mood this week, what are you eating?

Follow my ‘Food for friends + fun’ Pinterest board to see what else will probably land on our dinner table this month.

Monthly vegetarian cooking with ‘Once a Month Mom’

Monthly cooking food prep

I over complicate my food resolutions.  In the last year, in no particular order, I have tried to:

  • Cut out processed foods, increase whole foods
  • Eat out at restaurants less
  • Spend less money on groceries
  • Eat little (to no) dairy products
  • Eat little (to no) gluten
  • Eat local
  • Eat seasonal
  • Lose weight
  • Make tastier food

Whew.

But at some point, I realized that I really need to tackle the availability of home cooked, healthier meals on its own – hoping that the rest will follow.

 Once a month freezer cooking is where it’s at

That where ‘Once a Month Mom’, a handy subscription-based monthly menu / shopping list / how-to cooking site, comes in.  It keeps your morning and week night cooking waaaay down by doing the majority of your food work for the month in a single day.

Your freezer will never have been so full, but the idea is that you’ll limit grocery store runs and pizzeria calls  in lieu of pretty much ready for you meals that are yummy.

It’s not a new concept of course, my own mom used to rock the once a month cooking (using this classic book) back in the day, but I love the geeky side of Once a Month Mom.  You plan through easily editable Google Docs, eyeball recipes sourced from around the food blogosphere and share your culinary triumphs on Pinterest.

Even better still, there are a variety of freezer cooking menu plans to choose from:

So far, the recipe quality is high (they have food bloggers test the recipes before sharing to the community, which is good) and I love that I can go back through past months if I’m not a fan of certain meal options.
The cost is $8/ month for something you can technically do for yourself for free (that is, search through cookbooks and online for recipes, create a giant shopping list and a prep / cook plan for your kitchen party day) – but if you are like me, the hand holding is totally worth it at less than the price of a weekday lunch out.

Have you experimented with bulk cooking for your family?  What are your vegetarian freezer cooking tips and tricks?

 

Recipe geekout: Sweet potato and chipotle soup

Sweet potato and chipotle soup from Healthy Delicious blog

Is it winter where you are, yet?  In Texas we keep getting little teases of Fall coolness, but temperatures today were in the high 80s leaving frosty mornings just a daydream.  (I’ve got cute gloves to wear, darnit!!)

In hopes of beckoning a nice cool day, I’m making this gorgeous sweet potato and chipotle soup from the Healthy Delicious blog.

It’s fast and simple, but best of all only requires what you’ve probably got in your pantry.  Make sure you’ve got a nice cinnamon stick and a can of chipotles in adobe sauce – and you’re groovy to go!  Nom.

 

 

Say Aloha to poke

Maui poke love

Sometimes during exciting travel adventures, people fall in love with a mysterious local and share naughty nights and lurid adventures together until it’s time to go home.

I, however, connect with food (and booze) and bring my lurid voyaging affairs to the table in a most open manner.

My latest local foodie crush from my trip to Maui – poke.  Raw chunks of super fresh ahi tuna steak mixed with various sauces, seaweed, herbs and the occasional vegetable.  It’s like a raw fish salad, but so much better than that just sounded.

Per Esther’s suggestion, we picked our poke up by the half pound at a nearby Foodland grocery store.  Their poke case was full of maybe 15 different kinds to choose from – we tried traditional, avocado, Hawaiian, wasabi, garlic and I think a couple of other variations.  At about $7 – $8/lb, it was one of the cheapest (and most delicious) meals we had on the island.

Poke photo thanks to puffsdaddy

Flickr photo thanks to puffsdaddy

I brought home a poke seasoning pack and am excited to try my hand at making my own (after a quick jaunt to a local sushi-supplier fish market), especially as it’s giving me some new ingredients to find in Houston – although completely replaceable:  Hawaiian pink sea salt (pretty easy), Hawaiian seaweed = ogo (hmm….) and a nice sweet Maui onion.

It’s simple, but like so many simple dishes can be tweaked and refined in a multitude of tasty ways.  Freshness is key here, as are large quantities because you won’t want to stop eating it once you have started.  Some recipes to get you salivating:

Other culinary happiness from Maui that I brought home include a nice big bag of Hawaiian Black Lava Salt and a nice packed tube of Maui vanilla beans.
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