Pizza #2

This was my second time making pizza dough from scratch. Usually, I’ve always used frozen pizza dough from Rhodes. It’s super fast and tastes good. It does take some thinking ahead though, because it needs to be thawed. A couple of times, I’ve made a pizza dough when we cook the pizza on the grill. The recipe is literally called “The Best Pizza Dough for Grilling”. I’m sure it would have been just fine in the oven, but I thought I should try a different recipe.

While searching, I wanted a recipe that I’d make in the future. Most recipes always had a rise time for the dough. That also requires thinking ahead. When I found this recipe from allrecipes.com that had really good reviews, I thought it was worth a try. There was no rise time.

So first you dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. “Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.” The question is…what does “creamy” look like?

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This was the yeast and sugar “dissolving” in the warm water.

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This was after it sat for 10 minutes. I figured it looked creamy enough.

So then you stir in flour, salt, and oil. It says “beat until smooth.” Honestly, I used my hands and kind of kneaded it in.

I panicked for a second because I wasn’t sure if I had bread flour (I did) and called my mom to find out if All-Purpose Flour would work. She says it will. My plan is to use the bread flour until it’s gone for the next few recipes, but then try All-Purpose. Unless I’m using bread flour on a regular ish basis, I don’t really want to keep it in my kitchen for the few times a year that I’ll use it.

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Then you let it sit for 5 minutes. At this point, I had to run to the store and we weren’t quite ready to top the pizzas, so I let it sit quite a bit longer.

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The recipe called for cornmeal on the pan before laying down the dough. I love the texture the cornmeal added!

As you can see in this picture, I wanted to see if there was a difference between the pizza stone and a baking sheet.

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All three pizzas turned out great! The dough was good, too! We determined that the pizza on the regular baking sheet was more crispy than the pizza on the pizza stone, so I was happy to learn that too.

I will definitely be keeping this recipe for the future. It was so easy and turned out great.

If you haven’t grilled a pizza, I highly suggest trying that method this summer too!!

Pizza

For my first pizza challenge, I cheated a little. Thad and I had Owen over the weekend and we thought we’d try campfire pizzas. We got these handy tools from the store:

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Apparently, you just put buttered bread in the slot, add pizza sauce and toppings, and then another slice of buttered bread to make a little pie.

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Then you stick them in the fire…

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And play a guessing game.

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But they tasted pretty good.

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And of course the kids thought they were pretty cool.

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I promise I’ll do a legit pizza post next week, but this was too cute not to share!

Steak 3

I know, I’ve already done 2 steaks this month, but I wanted to try one more. I wanted to see if there was much difference between a steak on the grill and a steak cooked inside.

First…what cut to buy?? I had two recommendations for top sirloin steak, so that’s what I went with this time.

Second…how?? My mom suggested looking up a recipe from Alton Brown. He said to get a cast iron skillet, put it in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Once the oven was preheated, take the skillet out of the oven and put it the stove on high heat. Prep the steak with canola oil, salt, and pepper. Sear the steak by putting in the pan for 30 seconds each side. Then put the pan and steak together in the oven for 2 minutes a side.

Boyfriend pointed out that the steak I bought was massive and that he didn’t think that short of a cook time would cook the steak to my preferred doneness.


He’s a pretty smart guy, and I agreed with him…especially when I remembered Alton Browns recipe was for a ribeye steak.

After some discussion, I preheated the oven, seared the steak, and then put it in the oven for 5 ish minutes and then another minute or two after I flipped it.


There was a little smoke detector incident, but everything turned out great! I would definitely use this method in the future.

So steak month is over. I learned that rib eye and sirloin are the cuts of steak I should buy in the future. Also that if I need to make a steak by myself, the inside method would be best because I don’t have to deal with the grill.

Steak #2

For this attempt, I got a different cut of meat and used a different grilling method. I wanted to get a ribeye (the same as Steak #1), but couldn’t find it at Cub. Instead, this package caught my eye:


It said it was great for grilling. It lied. Later, I learned that this was the worst cut I could have purchased. I guess that’s why I thought it was reasonably priced.

Anyway, we grilled them up. I learned that you put the charcoal in the grill in an even layer, except for a little hole in the middle, which I guess is something relating to heat and placement of the meat.


Then you light the charcoal on fire, but you have to wait for it to die down before you put the meat on (bummer).


Anyway, then we put the meat on and flipped it once and it was done!


It seemed like less monkey business than the gas grill, even with the charcoal. I didn’t like it because the texture was chewy, but I’m blaming that on the cut of meat. Apparently this is good steak to put *in* things, like fajitas or something. I’ll try that with the leftovers. My mom said sirloin is the way to go, so I’ll have to try that next time.

Steak #1: “You just have to know”

I (helped) grill my first steak last weekend. I thought my first resource would be Boyfriend, because he has experience cooking steak, especially on the grill. My first question was what kind of steak to buy. He suggested the Rib Eye because it was a good cut for the price (at least, that was my takeaway). After I purchased them (more expensive than the chicken last month btw), I started doing some internet research. The internet suggested I just season them with salt and pepper.IMG_3469

Back to Boyfriend to learn how to cook the steak. We turned the grill on high, put the steaks on for “a minute” (not a real minute, mind you) each side to…sear them. Then they went on that small top rack of the grill to cook. I asked how long they cook for or how I’d know if they were done. Boyfriend says “you just have to know.” Super helpful, right?

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Anyway, they turned out, but I’m not confident it would be as easy if I had done it alone. We both agreed that the salt and pepper was all the needed seasoning, at least this time.

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My takeaway: this is waaaay easier than the chicken, although more expensive. I appreciated that I only had to have three ingredients (steak, salt, pepper) and that it didn’t take very long. Also, apparently, you’re not supposed to cut the fat off the steak, so I didn’t have to handle the meat very much, which is a huge plus.

Bundt Pan Chicken

Have you all seen that video going around on Facebook where it instructs you to put veggies in the bundt pan and then a chicken on top? It’s like a “cooking hack”. Eyeroll. I thought I had to try it though.

I used this recipe from Food.com. Overall, the recipe was easy, but more work, because I had to cut up all of the veggies (carrots, onions, potatoes, celery). Once again, the chicken took a million years to cook. When the chicken was done, it turned out just fine. The veggies didn’t turn out, but I wasn’t too concerned with that part. I’m guessing they didn’t turn out because they either needed more space or more fat (olive oil, butter, etc). I also didn’t think they added any flavor to to the chicken. The only point was to have like a “one pot/dish” meal, but since they didn’t turn out, I felt bad wasting the veggies. I think Thad was going to save them and cook them, but I don’t know if he ever did.

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I’m going to use the meat from this chicken to make a couple of Chicken Pot Pies this weekend!

Roast Chicken Number 1

Chicken #1: I used my Cooks Illustrated recipe. The chicken turned out great, but not without some stress on my end. The recipe was clearly not written for those of us who have never cooked a chicken before. I read the recipe a bunch of times and tried to think it through, but I didn’t do any additional research. Here were my problems:

The recipe did not tell me that I had to clean out the chicken. Good thing I called my mom with a different question (what can I use to tie the legs together because I don’t have “twine”?) and she mentioned it. Also good thing I have a boyfriend fiance (eeek!!) who will do the dirty work.

Once the chicken was cleaned, I had to figure out where the wings were (on a frozen chicken, they looked pretty darn similar to the legs) and how push them back and how to tie the legs and ugh. I seasoned it and put it in the pan, “breast side up”. I wasn’t confident that I knew where the breasts were.

Also, can we talk about how I didn’t know the chicken was frozen? It’s not like I got it from the freezer at the store. So this probably was a factor in the next problem…

It took so long to cook!!! The recipe said just over an hour. This took at least two hours probably.

Bottom line: I paid almost $9 for this 4.2 lb chicken (it was the smallest one I could find). It tasted good, but not any better than the rotisserie chicken I can pick up at the store. And it was way more time and effort than picking the rotisserie chicken up at the store. So I’m not really sure why I’d ever roast a chicken again. Other than for cooking challenge purposes.

Before:

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After:

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March – Roast Chicken

Lisa here. It’s March and I’m semi-excited to try roast chicken. I received a Cooks Illustrated magazine a couple of months ago, when Janine and I were just talking about this new challenge. There is a recipe in it for roast chicken. Perfect, right? So I saved the magazine and that’s where I’m going to start.

Here’s my plan: I’m trying not to be too ambitious, but I’d really like to make the chicken and then use all the parts for various things, including broth. I’ll report back with how that goes!

Janine here.   I thought it was a bit auspicious that my New York Times Daily Briefing email (which I subscribe to because it makes me feel #smart and #fancy) included, on March 2nd, Jacques Pepin’s Basic Roast Chicken recipe .

And it is basic. I can’t remember the last time I saw a recipe with only two ingredients (well, three, I guess).  I was reading the instructions and I kept thinking of the mole recipes from Chocolate week during the 52 Week challenge.  Those recipes included 30+ ingredients!

Here’s my plan: the Jacques Pepin recipe linked me to some other ways to prepare a roast chicken, and I decided how I’ll proceed.  I’ll be making 2 roast chickens this month.  One pretty basic and simple, and one a little more complex. I’ll try to find a way to use as much of the chickens as possible. (Though not broth, let me know if you want dibs on my chicken carcasses, I’m serious).

So . . . where does one purchase a chicken to roast?

 

Mastering the Essentials

We’re back!

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We took some time off (like 6ish months), but we are ready to get back into the kitchen and the blogging world! This time, things we’ll be a little different. Lisa found this list of essential dishes that ‘Millennials’ should know how to prepare. There were a few things that we thought we should try and some we thought we should perfect, so we planned a new challenge around it!  We’ve chosen 12 dishes from this essential list and we’ll cover one dish per month:

  • March: Roast Chicken
  • April: Steak
  • May: Pizza
  • June: Burgers
  • July: Margaritas/Cocktails
  • August: Red Sauce
  • September: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
  • October: Pork Chops
  • November: Mashed Potatoes
  • December: Chicken Noodle Soup
  • January: Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
  • February: Meatloaf

The challenge: Each month we’ll both cook the dish at least twice, and report back.

The goal: To master these essential dishes, learn things in the process, and test out some creative cooking.

We won’t be posting every week, but we’ll try to blog a few times per month to talk about our progress and what we’ve learned.

How many of the recipes on the list have you mastered? Not very many? We hope you’ll join us in the challenge so that we can all be better cooks, and have some fun along the way!

Week 51 – Herbs

I was so excited for this week. I have had tons of basil all summer and no reason to be creative with it.

Isn’t my garden nice?? This is a picture of mostly basil, but I also have red and green peppers, jalapeno peppers, and a variety of tomatoes.

With the basil, I’ve made a lot of pesto. Thad and I took a cooking class at Kitchen in the Market this spring where they made a nut-free pesto. I’ve been using their recipe because it’s so easy and I have all of the ingredients.

To make the pesto, you need:

  • 2 cups basil
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

All you need to do is process the basil, garlic, and sunflower seeds in a food processor. Then, while the machine is running, slowly add in the olive oil. Finally, add the cheese, a big pinch of salt, and some pepper. Process to combine and re-season to taste.

Now the real question is what to do with the pesto. Janine made some Pesto Chicken in Week 21 – New To You. For this week, I tried something a little different:

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I put some pesto on top of chicken breasts, added some tomatoes, and some parmesan cheese. It was delicious and so so easy. It’s a great way to use up the pesto and tomatoes from the garden.

Then, since pesto is nothing new to me, I thought I’d try basil in something else: Tomato Basil Soup! I used this recipe for Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Soup. I also added some pesto and tomatoes to the traditional grilled cheese to accompany the soup.

I used sourdough, a variety of cheeses, a tomato from my garden, and the fresh pesto.

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It was such a good combination!

Do you have basil in your garden? What do you do with it? Hopefully these recipes will inspire you to try something different.

Come back next week…Janine and I will both be posting because it’s our final challenge!