About Me

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Just a simple gal living on the outskirts of Portland making ends meet. I have lived in Portland for over 20 years and I am happy to call it home. On this blog you will find everything from cooking to my crazy life. I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


It should come as no great surprise, to anyone, that I love pizza. To me pizza is the perfect food. Pizza crust is just a platform to transport all manner of delicious foods to your mouth (literally). Last nights pizza was no exception. A pizza is only as good as its crust, and that is something (until last night) I had problems with. I could never get my crust crispy enough or thin enough for my liking. Well I discovered a new recipe for a cracker crust pizza dough that I think for me ticks all the boxes.
Cracker Crust Pizza Dough 3/4 cup cool water 1/4 cup canola oil 1-1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 1 teaspoon sugar 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more as needed Directions For the pizza dough, pour the water, oil, salt, and sugar into a large bowl. Add 1 cup of the flour and whisk until smooth. Switching to a wooden spoon, gradually add the remaining flour, stirring until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead until it is smooth and supple (like a baby's tushie), about 5 minutes. Divide the dough into two or three equal pieces, shape each one into a rough disk, cover with a cloth, and let rest on a board between 30 minutes and 3 hours. I let mine rest for as long as it took me to clean house.Roll out each piece of dough between two sheets of parchment paper (this makes it easier to transfer to your preheated pizza stone in the oven. Brush a little olive oil on the surface of the crust and spread on a little sauce cheese and whatever else you have planned.
For our pizzas last night I used a really light tomato basil sauce and roasted garlic.
Then I added on some grated mozzarella and the last little bit of fresh mozzarella I had taking up space in my fridge.
Then I slid the pizza parchment paper and all onto my preheated (500 degrees)pizza stone and cooked it between 15 and 18 min.
The last couple of minutes of cooking I tossed a handful of chopped fresh spinach onto the top of the pizza.
The pizza was amazing, the crust was crisp, the cheese melty (should be a word), and the sauce was not to heavy. To say the least we cleaned our plates.
The sauce was super easy to make and can also be made ahead. I took a can of diced tomatoes with the juice and poured into a small sauce pan. I added 1 whole sprig of basil, a pinch of fresh rosemary, pinch of sugar, oregano and chili flakes. I also added a clove of that roasted garlic a couple of tablespoons of water (you could use red wine)and brought it to a boil turned it down to a simmer and let it bubble away for about 20 min. You may have to add a little more liquid during the cooking. Let the sauce cool some and put it into your food processor and give it a couple of good turns. When you have the consistency you want your done.
Pizza the perfect food!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Delicious Asparagus

I love asparagus. I don't care how you prepare it I love it, and if you don't watch me I will eat it all. I was not a fan of it when I was younger but then I learned how to cook (somewhere around age 8) and I have enjoyed it ever since.
This recipe came about due to a lonely sheet of puff pastry sitting in the freezer calling to me...no really it was. Honestly though that sheet of puff pastry had to be used before the freezer did its damage, and because I had half a container of whole milk ricotta languishing in my fridge begging to be eaten. I also had purchased a outstanding bunch of asparagus at the market, so I had an idea formulating.
First, pull out that sheet of puff pastry from the freezer so it can thaw. Then wash and snip off the tough ends of the asparagus. Then roll the asparagus around to dry them off a bit with a paper towel. then place them on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Roast the asparagus in a 450 degree oven until almost half way done. Pull the asparagus out and set aside, and turn your oven down to around 375 degrees.
In a small mixing bowl place 1/2 to 1 cup of ricotta cheese (it really depends on how thick you want it), egg white, 1/4 cup Parmesan, a pinch or two of salt, fresh ground pepper, some fresh oregano, basil and rosemary (about a 1/2 tsp each). Set aside.
Unfold that sheet of puff pastry onto a sheet of parchment paper, lightly roll the puff pastry out creating a little larger sheet. Transfer parchment paper and puff pastry to a cookie sheet. Fold about 1/2 inch edge of the puff pastry up. Spread the ricotta cheese onto the puff pastry, keeping the folded edge of the pastry clean. Then take the asparagus and place it on top of the ricotta.
Slide it into your pre-heated oven and bake until the pastry is golden brown. Be careful to not burn the bottom of the pastry.
This delicious asparagus dish goes great with a salad and a nice glass of wine. It is a perfect light dinner, and if you want to reduce the calories you can certainly use part skim or skim milk ricotta.
Have a wonderful long weekend!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Almond Lemon Bread

I made this amazing bread/cake last Thursday evening, so it would be waiting for me Friday morning when my self imposed calorie restrictions are put aside for the weekend (I love weekends). This bread went together in minutes and baked for about an hour making the house smell like Christmas. This is not my recipe, but I had to share anyway because it really is amazing and makes buying a half gallon of almond milk, because it is on sale, and making your bf drink the rest on his breakfast cereal except for what you needed for the Almond Lemon Bread completely worth it.
I stumbled across this recipe while browsing through the recipes on Piterest and I saw this amazing looking bread. I had all the ingredients except the almond milk, so I thought I would give it a try. Having never cooked or even drank almond milk I was a little concerned.
For the bread: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. baking powder 1 cup granulated sugar (take the 2 tablespoons of zest and toss it with the sugar and set aside. 2 tablespoons lemon zest 3/4 cup Almond Milk 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil 2 large eggs, slightly beaten 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon almond extract Combine all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, the mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl. Pour the wet ingredients in to the dry blending well. Pour the bread mix into a lightly greased and floured bread pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for roughly 1 hour. Let the bread cool some before running a knife around the sides and removing from pan. Let it cool even longer before drizzling the glaze over the top (You have to have the glaze). 1 cup powdered sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon almond extract 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, for sprinkling on the loaf to make it pretty.
This bread does not disappoint the taste buds in any way shape or form. This is the perfect bread for taking to a dinner for dessert, summer BBQ's or just when you want to have your cake (excuse me bread) and eat it to. Delicious, simplistic and moist. Like I said earlier this is not my recipe and I want to give all the credit to "Two Peas & Their Pod" for this wonderful bread.
Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It's Not Rocket Science It's Hummus

I absolutely love Hummus, and I can not think of a more perfect food during warm weather. A cup of Hummus (or rather chickpeas)contains roughly 15 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber with a calorie count of only about 269). Hummus is simplistic in it's components and very easily made at home yet I see it fly off the shelves at the grocery store. Hummus goes on everything from crackers, Pita bread to slices of cucumber and chunks of Feta cheese. Versatile and oh so delicious! Here is how I make this basic summertime staple.
Having a food processor is best but I imagine if you have a blender this could work. You take one can of Chickpeas (drained reserving liquid) and put into the bowl of your food processor, 1 dried chili, 1 large clove peeled garlic, 1 1/2 Tlb of Tahini, 1-2 Tlb of fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste ( I happen to like a generous amount of black pepper), 4 Tlb of Olive Oil, 1/2 tsp Cumin. Put the lid on lock it into place and give it a whirl! Blend it adding reserved liquid if needed to achieve the consistency you desire being careful to not get it too runny.
This recipe is easily doubled and can be quickly put together. You can dress it up with the addition of different spices or heat it up with the addition of roasted red bell pepper or jalapeno pepper or dried cayenne pepper. You can serve it as a appetizer or as part of a main. Delicious, nutritious hummus. You really can't go wrong with this.
I know I covered hummus in an earlier posting, but honestly with the temperature moving beyond 90 today can you think of a more perfect food to have outside with an ice cold glass of something.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Needful Things

We all have them, those needful things we just cannot do without, things that make our life easier…simpler. Personally, I have many of those things located in my kitchen. Tucked away in drawers, prominently displayed on the counters in what free space I can find, and hidden away high up on shelves. despite having a small kitchen one of my weaknesses is kitchen gadgetry. I love the little tools that make cooking and baking simpler, or just more fun.
This zester is new to my collection. I received it as a gift last Christmas from one of my children. I use this anytime I need to zest a lemon, orange, or any citrus fruit. It is super handy, easy to use and wicked sharp giving me the finest little shreds of citrus zest. If you don't have one I seriously recommend getting one.
This cutting edge garlic press is simply fantastic. I actually bought this as a gift (stocking stuffer) for the bf a couple of Christmases past, but strangely I seem to use way more often than he does. You simple roll (with pressure) over the top of a peeled garlic clove and Shazam! crushed garlic. I got a solid stainless steel one because we use and obscene amount of garlic, and I figured this one would be more durable.
This handy dandy power tool for the kitchen is just the thing for small blending job. Back in the day I owned one of the first versions and I had it for years (loved it), and when it finally died I never got around to replacing it, but my lovely children gave me this one for Christmas last year and I use it every chance I get. For example the other night I was in need of a can of tomato sauce but had none in the pantry...I took a can of diced tomatoes and Zap! tomato sauce in a jiff. It also works well for hot liquids that need to be blended like soup or gravies. I haven't tried it on fruit smoothies, but I have a feeling that would be no problem.
Motar & Pestle I don't use it often, but more often than you would imagine. I don't have counter space for a large electric spice grinder, and honestly I prefer my handy little Motar & Pestle. It works great, cleans up easy, and I don't have to wonder what was ground up last. I truly love the rustic feel of grinding spices in this. I have had this set for at least 100 years (in other words I don't remember when or where I got it.)
Butter Bell. This is my second one. This first one I had for a really long time, but it ended up getting a pretty good chip, and my daughter gave me this one for Christmas a couple of years back. It seriously is the best invention since sliced bread. It keeps the butter soft and fresh and looks nice on the table during dinner. If you don't have one you should.
Next to that wonderful Butter Bell is one of two food scales I own. I don't think you can function in a kitchen without a food scale. I use it for everything and anything. This one works great for dry ingredients. The other one I have has a larger flat surface for weighing big bulk type things.
This wire whisk represents a collection of five wire whisks that I currently own. This particular whisk is a flat whisk. No two are alike in size or flex. I have a silicone one just for the non-stick pans. I use at least one daily for something I am concocting in the kitchen. You can't have just one, so go out and buy more. You will thank me for it later.
Last but not least this old Coke Cola bottle I have been toting around for the last 20 some odd years. It serves only one purpose, and you are looking at it. I use this wonderful classic bottle for inverting my Angel Food cakes so that they cool properly. Single use tool that it is in all these years I haven't found something (or looked really) that works better. I tuck it away under my kitchen sink and wash it before each use. It is a simple as that.
I hope you all enjoy my wit and witticism. Going to be a warm day here, which honestly up to 80 I am fine more than that and I get cranky and downright mean. I hope everyone has a wonderful day.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Birthday Dinner

Even though the weather was not cooperating last night giving me the warmth and sunshine I craved to be able to sit outside and have cocktails on the patio dinner was a success! I kept it simple and made things ahead so I could actually stand around and do nothing when the the birthday boy and his lady arrived.
I made a roasted red bell pepper hummus with fresh veggies and warmed pita bread for an appetizer. The recipe is as easy as 1 can of chick peas drained (juice reserved), 1 whole roasted red bell pepper seeded, sliced and skinned, 3 Tlb. of fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 Tlb of Tahini, 1 minced clove of garlic (I think I used two), 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. cayenne, 1/4 tsp. salt. Toss all of that into your food processor and hit the button. If you need to thin out your hummus use a tiny bit of the reserved chick pea juice.
The next thing I put together a little bit a head of time was a Italian salad, which was made up of mixed greens, grape tomatoes, sizable amount of shredded fresh basil and fresh mozzarella ciliegine (small balls). I dressed the salad with a little homemade balsamic olive oil dressing. There is no exact amount for this. You just eyeball it and adjust according to your own taste. Don't forget the salt and pepper.
For dessert I put together a angel food cake and topped each slice with a couple of spoonfuls of marionberry/raspberry sauce that I made with berries from our annual family berry picking last summer, and healthy dollops of whipped mascarpone cheese. I took 1 cup of mascarpone cheese, 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/4 cup warmed honey and 1/2 tsp of rose water and whipped it. Now if you want a lighter texture you can reduce the cheese or add more whipping cream. The choice is yours to make. It turned out great you get this spongy, cheesy, sweet and tart thing going on in your mouth.
The berry sauce was easy. I thawed a couple of cups (like 3) of mixed berries then I put them in a sauce pot added about a 1/3 cup of white sugar and a little cornstarch and presto changeo! you have a quick sweet and tangy sauce. The main course was grilled 1/3 lb burgers (I weighed each one) sorry I didn't get any pictures of the burgers grilling but the light was gone by the time we started grilling. The best thing about this entire birthday party was I made everything ahead of time. The hummus I actually made three days ahead the flavors had time to marry which gave the hummus a really rich and vibrant flavor, the veggies I cut up and stored in the fridge. The mascarpone cheese, cake and berry sauce all made ahead. I even made up the salad and dressing about an hour ahead along with the hamburger patties. The only thing that needed doing was grilling and guess what...not my job. My bf is the master griller and he made some awesome burgers last night.
F.Y.I Birthday boy and his lady...yes I knew angel food was the favorite cake...I hear things and store it away in my mental rolladex...I listen a lot and talk little .