Friday, February 25, 2011

Whole Wheat Pizza

Mmmmm pizza. As my boyfriend knows too well, I would eat it every night if he would put it up with it. (Alas, he does not. And, although I'm no health nut, my arteries probably couldn't put up with it either.)

Last night I gave into my pizza craving, but made it myself and tried to go pseudo-healthy.

I bought pre-made whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe's, and with my mad pizza tossing skills from my days as a make-line cook at Pizza Pro, hand tossed it into a lovely circle. Then, because I don't actually have a pizza pan, I had to mash it into a rectangle.

Now for some veggies. With a little bit of olive oil cooking spray, I sauteed baby portobello mushrooms, then added some chopped onions, and then dumped in about 8 oz of baby spinach to wilt. Man that stuff cooks down! Every time I cook spinach I am amazed by this. I ended up cooking an additional 4 oz or so after this batch to add to the pizza.

Assembling the pizza: I used canned diced tomatoes instead of sauce (marinara/pizza sauce is always too sweet for my liking) with some garlic powder sprinkled in. Then I arranged the mushrooms, onion, and spinach, and topped with roasted garlic chicken sausage. I cut up three links, which was too much, even after I snacked on some. So I'd recommend two links.

Finally, I topped it all off with part-skim shredded mozzarella and a little bit of parmesan. I also sprinkled on crushed red pepper flakes and dried oregano for some more flavor.

The pie went into a 415 degree oven for about 20 minutes total - this was way longer than the dough instructions called for, maybe because there were a lot of toppings loaded on.

Yummy. And the one leftover piece made a great breakfast warmed up in the toaster oven!

Now I'm anxiously awaiting warmer weather so we can fire up the barbeque and have grilled pizza. Delish.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

White Bean Dip

I've been meaning to make white bean dip for ages. Somewhere between hummus and refried beans, this stuff is so freaking good. My favorite tapas place in Boston always serves some variation of it, along with a warm, crusty baguette, before every meal. I had to attempt to duplicate it.

The first time I tried to make a batch, I got hopelessly distracted while chatting with my roommates and added 2 tablespoons of salt instead of 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Instead of just dumping the mixture down the garbage disposal right then and there, I tried to save it by adding another can of beans. Unless I had been willing to add maybe 6 more cans of beans (and had a bigger food processor to hold said beans), this was unsalvageable. Oh well.

Take two: I made it with red kidney beans instead of white, because my grocery store was somehow completely out of white beans. Weird. But - the resulting dip was really good, and very similar to the white variety.

And finally, take three, which you see above, was made with white beans. And this recipe:

1 can white kidney beans (cannellini), drained
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice (not salt!)
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Puree everything together in a food processor. Done!

Add your favorite seasonings to make it your own. And try roasting the garlic beforehand for a smoother flavor.

We had this on Valentine's Day with some crusty bread (my favorite dipping mechanism), but for an even more nutritious option, dip veggies.

Like the heart-shaped dip bowls? Yes, they are somewhat tacky but perfect for dips, condiments, and candy! They're by Zak Designs, my favorite cutesy kitchenware designer.

So to sum up a rambling post: white bean dip = easy, quick, yummy, and nutritious. I pretty much never hit all four of those at once.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vintage Champagne Glasses

As part of our Valentine's Day celebration, my boyfriend and I watched "Casablanca." While there are a million great things about this movie, this time around I kept noticing the amazing champagne glasses. Classy and vintage.

Lookin good, Bogey.

I pointed out to my boyfriend how it would be great to own some vintage champagne glasses, and resolved to keep an eye out for them.

Fast forward one week. I was in Columbus, OH this weekend visiting a friend, and we made a stop at the antique shops in uptown Westerville. I was in a store for about 4 minutes before I spotted these.

What's more, the set of 2 was $10! A couple hours after landing in Boston, we were christening these with a bottle of Andre. Good deals all around.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shortbread Heart Pops

This post is a little late, since you probably won't go to the trouble to make these post-Valentine's Day. But you can put any shape on a stick and make it a fun cookie pop!

Per usual, I made these with Ina Garten's shortbread recipe, but I doubled the salt and only baked them about 10-12 minutes. I used smooth and scalloped heart cookie cutters from my Wilton 100 cookie cutter set. Such a good investment.

I laid the heart cutouts on 6 inch lollipop sticks (with the stick about halfway up the heart), placed the sheet in the fridge to chill the dough for about 20 minutes, and then baked for 11 minutes (don't worry, the sticks won't burn). You can tell the cookies are done when it looks like the bottoms have browned (but not the tops!).

Yes I had a broken heart. Lesson: don't try to turn the cookies over to examine the sticks until they are completely cool! Now on to decorating. I used dark chocolate candy coating, melted in the microwave and piped onto the cookies, plus Wilton heart mix sprinkles. Below see the three stages of decorating: outlining the border, filling the center, and sprinkling!

All done. I shook the excess sprinkles off after the chocolate coating had set.

And then I wrapped each of them in a plastic baggie and secured with a white ribbon, curling the ends.

And here they are again all packaged. I designed these labels, printed them on white card stock, and then cut scalloped circles out of red card stock to frame each one.

I really like the way the scalloped cookie looks with a smooth-edged heart piped onto it with icing/chocolate. I'll try to remember that for next time. Because cookie pops definitely won't be limited to hearts now that I've tried them!
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Kit Kat Pie

I know I talk a lot about desserts that I love, but I really think that chocolate cream pie is my favorite treat. What could make it better? Answer: a candy bar.

My original intention was to just make a plain cream pie, which is a super easy semi-homemade dessert when you make it with pudding mix. When I bought the mix (Jell-o Devil's Food), there was a recipe on the side for "candy pie," which was a chocolate cream pie with chopped up toffee bars in it.

I'm not a huge toffee fan, but the idea intrigued me. And I AM a huge Kit Kat fan. Everyone always forgets how good they are! So I needed to remind you all.

Yummm diced Kit Kat. Cutting these up was so fun.

Devil's Food Chocolate Pudding (made with the "pie filling" directions), and about 4 oz of Cool Whip, folded together.

Here's the filling mixed with most of the chopped of Kit Kat mixed in, scooped into a baked Pillsbury pie shell.

Rest of the Cool Whip (another 4 oz), and more chopped Kit Kat.

Put this bad boy in the freezer to chill for about an hour. To store, wrap it in plastic wrap in the freezer, and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cutting your next slice.
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Headband Ear Warmer

With the exception that it actually hit 40 degrees yesterday, it is COLD outside. And the snow is seemingly endless. That combined with the fact that my ear muffs broke last month: I needed some quick ear warmers.

These were incredibly easy to make. Even if you have never crocheted in your life, you could make this. Find a video that teaches single crochet, and you'll be up and running.

For your first row, crochet for as long you want the width of the headband to be. Then crochet a strip as long as you want the circumference of the headband to be. Then join the ends of the strip together, either by crocheting through both ends or just sewing. Voila.

To embellish the first one I made, I wove two lengths of green ribbon into the top and bottom, tying the ribbon ends on the inside of the headband. Easy peasy.

For the second one, which I also made narrower than my first creation, I arranged a burst of buttons (from a $5 bag of coordinating buttons) and sewed them in place with white embroidery thread. I got this idea from a girl on the T wearing a similar construction (the colors weren't as fun, though).

Photo: Elise George

Warm, cuddly, and cute. I dare anyone to find an easier crochet project.
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl Snack

I love the Super Bowl. Football, lots of snackage, and beer. I just wish that the following Monday were a national holiday. Can't have everything, I guess.

Isn't this veggie tray beautiful? All I had to slice were cucumbers and celery, since grape tomatoes and baby carrots are nature's finger foods. And I got to use my French Bull plaid platter for the first time! (See the rest of my plaid tableware here.)

You may be thinking, wow, she's a healthy Super Bowl snacker. How wrong you would be. We were dipping the veggies in my boyfriend's buffalo chicken dip, aka bowl of grease. (And then topped it off with brownies.) Delicious, not nutritious. But since we first made the dip for the first NFL game of the season, it was only appropriate to have it this weekend.

Too bad we weren't still watching the Pats.
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

The other day I was hankering a simple baked good, hot out of the oven. This gooey, peanut buttery, chocolatey treat was easy and delicious. And did I mention gooey?

I used this recipe from Bake at 350, and only altered the peanut butter - I used creamy, non-natural stuff (Reduced Fat Jif).

Here's the batter pre-oven. This recipe calls for an 8x8 pan, which I thought was kind of small.

I'm pretty sure I was right to question the pan size. I baked this for 32 minutes, per the recipe, and it was still completely uncooked in the middle. I covered it in aluminum foil and cooked another 5 minutes... still pretty gooey, but the edges were as hard as I wanted them to get.

Obviously I needed more semi-sweet chocolate drizzled on top. Bottom line: the middle was still very gooey. I'm okay with that. It might have been a bit more evenly cooked in a 9"x13" pan, but whatevs. As long as you're alright with some possibly-raw cookie dough in there, you'll like these.

I mean, what's not to like?
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dry Erase To-Do List

If you like fun stationery but don't always have a use for it, maybe you can take this idea: frame it and make a unique dry erase board!

I saw this pad of "to-do" paper at Barnes & Noble like 10 times in a row. I kept telling myself, "No, Hannah, you don't need that." But then one day, I told myself, "You always look at that paper. It's $4. Buy it." I mean, you only live once. However, after buying it, I confirmed that I didn't really have a use for it, since my tasks usually number more than a centimeter's worth per day.

I didn't let that stop me though! The colors are so pretty I thought it should be on display. So I popped it in a 5"x7" frame ($4.00, Marshall's) and have it propped up on my desk at home.

Dry erase markers wipe right off of glass, so I can change my tasks whenever, writing one big thing per day. Even if that "big thing" is laundry.

No, I don't have a concert to go to on Saturday. I actually have a sewing workshop, but concert sounded cooler.

Any other ideas for stationery dry-erase?
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