Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

Baking a Pizza from Scratch!

It’s dinnertime in the Viesh Household and homemade pizza’s on the menu.  Originally, when I came up with this idea, I decided to get pre-made crusts, and Jack & Karen agreed:

premade

but then, Alex jumped up and down about making the crust from scratch, so we used this recipe:

Pizza Crust

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour (about 2-2 1/2 cups of flour per pizza)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (add one tbsp. at a time. You don’t want the dough to be sticky or too dry)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, olive oil, salt, white sugar and the yeast mixture; stir well to combine. Beat/kneed well until a stiff dough has formed. Cover and rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F (175°C).
  3. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface. Form dough into a round and roll out into a pizza crust shape. Drizzle olive oil on the dough and bake for 5-8 minutes until the dough is slightly golden brown.
  4. Cover with your favorite sauce and toppings and bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes.

alexdough

Pizza Toppings

  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Pizza Blend: Mozzarella & cheddar blend
  • Spinach leaves
  • Minced Garlic/Garlic Salt
  • Green peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Oregano
  • Basil leaves
  • Crushed Red Pepper

toppings

I topped the pizza half & half, because Jack couldn’t eat the real garlic and he didn’t want spinach or too many peppers, and I left out peppers on part of the pizza because Jason can’t stomach them.

topped

We baked the pizza for somewhere between 10-15 minutes with the oven preheated (for 12 minutes at least) to 425°F, until we got… DELICIOUS:

BAKED

It looked so good and smelled so delicious it got sliced before I could take a picture. Here’s Jason & Jack with their slices:

jason

jack

And I have leftovers for tomorrow! YAY!

  • Have you ever made pizza from scratch?
  • How did you make it?
  • What kinds of toppings did you put on it? What blend of cheese did you use?
  • Most importantly, have any of you made pizza sauce from scratch?
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Nachos Nachos Nachos!

It’s a Saturday night and I’ve a bunch of homework to do (I know, I know, most college students go out on Saturday nights … I’d prefer a movie or a nice book at home. Call me granny if you want to.), and of course I’m looking for every possible method of procrastination. I might call up my friend Karen to see if she wants to go to Sunset. Where we would get beer, but more importantly, nachos. Now, nachos could really mean any manner of things, but the nachos I’d get here are a vast improvement from the nachos I used to eat at Target when I was 6 years old.

Case in point:

1. Nachos at Target – Tasteless tortilla chips doused with heated queso. I’d get jalapeños on these nachos just because otherwise those nachos were boring…

2. South of the Border Fiesta Nachos at Sunset Grill & Tap / Sunset Cantina – Here’s the description, straight from the menu: Hot nachos topped with choice of chili (Vegetarian, Taco Beef Black Beans) , jalapenos, scallions, tomatoes, black olives, jack and cheddar cheeses, shredded lettuce, guacamole, sour cream and salsa.  You can get the guac, sour cream, and salsa on the side, and you can substitute BBQ pulled pork, or add in BBQ/Cajun/Buffalo chicken. Or something. Choose a meat if you don’t want vegetarian chili, basically. But if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably looking to keep the veggie.

While rooting around the interwebs, I found a blog titled El Tour Del Nacho, written by several students in Boston who made it their mission to try and rank nachos all around Boston.  While I’m appalled that they’d rank it as such – they give Sunset the Bronze Medal for most delicious Nachos. They hold fast to The Pour House as the Gold Medal Champion. However, they give you a comprehensive analysis on the nachos. If this seems excessive, you must be new to the area. Or not from the South.

3. Repeat mention: The OTHERSIDE Nachos – I’ve professed my love for these nachos before, on this blog, but here it is again: This plate of delicious starts with a bed of tortilla chips topped with melted cheddar, jalapeños, their homemade vegetarian chili and salsa.

If you’re at home and you’re strapped for ingredients, try this twist:

Simple Nachos

  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • Scallions/Jalapeños
  • Tortilla Chips – Choose a brand that ISN’T Tostitos and you’re golden
  1. Sprinkle the cheese and scallions/jalapeños on the chips to your heart’s content.
  2. Microwave 30 seconds (or less if you’ve got a really powerful microwave. The cheese should not start bubbling.)
  3. Eat!
  • What are your thoughts?
  • Do you make nachos at home?
  • If so, what do you put on them?

Scrambled Eggs or Omelettes?

Vegetarians often have a huge problem with variable sources of protein, so growing up, my parents always stressed the importance of eating eggs and cheese.  Conveniently, I’m not a vegan – there’s nothing that could get me to give up ice cream, milk, quesadillas, scrambled eggs… and the list goes on.

Backing up to the scrambled eggs, let’s talk about more breakfast options.  I have to be in the mood to eat eggs, but once I get into the mood, I love them cooked in several different ways.  However, my favorite has to be two classics: scrambled eggs and omelettes. I’ve experimented over the years with different types of cheese, different combinations of vegetables, and different ways of cooking the vegetables. I’ve also switched to Egg Beaters (egg substitute in a carton) instead of real eggs in order to keep my cholesterol in the normal to low range.  Yes, I realize I’m 21, and I also realize that most people don’t worry about cholesterol at this age.  Genetics, however, likes to spite me, and I’m reminded that high cholesterol tends to run in my family and that my father had his own fight to bring down his cholesterol levels several years ago.

Because I don’t want to go on a seriously restricted diet and take medicines in 5 or 10 years to combat this unnecessary sign of aging, I watch my cholesterol intake carefully.  So long as I avoid fast foods – done easily as most restaurants don’t use different frying oil for say french fries or chicken fingers (take Rhett’s, located in the Boston University George Sherman Union, for example) and most don’t section off their grills when cooking hamburgers and veggie burgers (UBurger, and I’m sure many others I’m unaware of) – and maintain awareness of how I cook my foods, I know I’ll be fine.

Sorry about the cholesterol tangent – back to eggs.

Step 1: Choose your eggs

  • Real Eggs (I grew up eating white eggs in FL, but my friend Karen grew up in MA eating brown eggs… so it’s really personal preference. I’ve never noticed a difference in taste.)
  • Egg Beaters (egg substitute)
  • Egg Whites

Because Martha Stewart would disprove of any method otherwise, if I’m cooking with real eggs, I’ll always beat them with a whisk, and never with a fork.  I add a little milk to make the eggs lighter and fluffier (amount variable, never more than 1/4 cup per 2 eggs), salt and pepper.  I like to use a spice grinder with a coarse setting, otherwise I feel the eggs drown out the flavor of the pepper.

Step 2: Choose your grease

Okay, that’s not as gross as it may have sounded. Unless you have a large egg skillet – mine is really only large enough to fry an egg on – or a nonstick pan, you’ll want to grease the pan before cooking the eggs. Otherwise, they’ll stick and they’ll burn and your whole place of residence will reek of eggs.  These are my usual options:

  • PAM cooking spray – this is the low cholesterol, flavor-retaining option.  Don’t overdo the spraying though, or you WILL taste the PAM, and trust me that’s gross. Dab the pan with a paper towel once you’ve sprayed it to make sure you’ve just coated the pan lightly.
  • Butter – real butter, on a stick.  You don’t need to cover the whole pan, just run the stick over the surface of the pan lightly in a zig-zag method.  Remember when you’d use a glue-stick in elementary school to paste something onto paper? Same idea.
  • Spreadable butter – place a pat of butter on the pan, turn on the stove, and as the butter melts, slowly lift and rotate the pan to spread the butter.
  • Margarine – I really dislike that margarine is high in trans fat, so I only use it if I have nothing else.  And usually, I don’t have margarine anyway.

Step 3: Choose your cheese

  • My favorite: Grated sharp or extra-sharp cheddar.  I love the flavor of cheddar and sharp/extra-sharp stands out against the flavor of the eggs.
  • Kraft Mexican Blend
  • Grated mild cheddar
  • Cheddar & Monterey Jack
  • Swiss

Step 4: Choose your veggies

This step is wholly dependent on personal preferences, but here’s the assortment of veggies I love to choose from.  Several friends of mine love to roast their veggies first before putting them in the omelette, but I prefer them fresh, thrown into the omelette/scrambled eggs halfway through cooking the eggs.

  • Diced red onions – yellow onions work too, obviously. I just like the color of the red onions.
  • Diced bell peppers – choose a mix of colors.  Orange peppers are pretty.
  • Diced tomatoes – yes, coming from the girl who doesn’t really like raw tomatoes.
  • Sliced black olives – I dislike green olives, but if you don’t, go for it.
  • Diced zucchini
  • Chopped broccoli
  • Fresh spinach

I never put in all of these veggies at once, though it would probably still taste good if I did. The last three, I would probably roast a little before adding them to the eggs, because they tend to be tougher vegetables if uncooked and the texture would contrast a little too strongly with the eggs.

Step 5: Cook it!

Before you begin doing anything with the eggs – put the toast in your toaster! For toast options, see my breakfast post from November 4th.

My first instinct is to assume everyone knows how to cook eggs, but assumptions are dangerous.  So here’s a short crash course on cooking eggs.  Whether scrambling or making omelettes, crack your eggs on the side of the bowl or edge of the counter and open them up into a bowl.  Add salt, pepper and milk. I also add crushed red pepper, but only add that if you can handle the spice.

Whisk using a whisk if your like your eggs properly beaten or beat with a wooden spoon if you like the white/yellow mix of color more distinct in your eggs. Turn your stove on and grease the pan with your choice from Step 2 above.

Once the pan is warmed up, pour in your egg mixture and let sit for a minute. Make sure you keep the stove flame on low/medium otherwise the eggs won’t cook from the inside out and you will burn your mixture.

Scrambled eggs

As the eggs start to whiten and solidify on the bottom, start moving them in the pan with a flat spoon or spatula.  The trick is not to let the eggs stick or sit for too long.  You can flip the eggs as they begin to fluff up to make sure they’re cooked evenly.  When the eggs are 2/3 cooked, add in the veggies so they cook a little with the eggs.  Just before you remove the eggs from the pan, add in the cheese and mix into the eggs thoroughly so the cheese melts.

Here’s a short YouTube clip from One Pot Chef, an Australian guy who simplifies cooking in an easy-to-follow manner:

Omelette

As the eggs start to whiten and solidify on the bottom, move the eggs gently from the outside edge toward the middle and tilt the pan in the direction of your flat spoon/spatula so the still-runny part of the mixture moves off the top of the solidifying eggs and fills in the space you create on the outside.

When no more runny mixture remains but the eggs are still whitish, flip the pancake-shaped eggs and let the top cook for a minute.  Sprinkle your veggies and eggs on top and fold over the eggs like a quesadilla. Let cook another minute or two, but don’t let it burn.

Place the toast and eggs on a plate, put some ketchup or hot sauce on those eggs and enjoy!

P.S. Cholula hot sauce is the best.

Tacos! Burritos! Comida Mexicana!

Replace the beef with beans. No, really, I don’t want any meat.

taco spread

Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, Mexican blend cheese, Old El Paso Taco Shells, and Sweet Leaf Iced Tea

tacos
Delicious, Vegetarian Hard-Shell Tacos!

I am secretly (or not-so-secretly now, oops!) in love with Mexican food.

Unfortunately, many Mexican restaurants lack for a vegetarian selection, and sometimes I’m worried that meat accidentally fell into my tacos or burritos. The good news is, all the ingredients (yes, I realize they aren’t as authentic as if they were homemade) are readily available at any supermarket and preparation of these dishes is rather simple.  So tacos can be made at home! If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you could fry the beans yourself instead of buying the canned kind.

The basic ingredients are listed above. I like to add Cholula hot sauce and red salsa to my tacos as well, but unfortunately, I forgot to pick up those ingredients tonight, and I apparently ran through all my hot sauce without realizing it. I piled in the refried beans – which are much better heated on the stove in a saucepan rather than in a microwave oven, sour cream, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, guacamole, and cheese (in that order), and voilà! Tacos!

Warning though: tacos tend to fall apart as you eat them… but that just means you have taco salad on your plate when you’re finished eating what managed to stay in the taco shell.  More taco? Most excellent!

 

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