Friday, July 17, 2009


On my way home, I went by the grocery store and picked up a few ingredients quickly. The sky was dark and lightening was flashing before I went in. I grabbed an onion, green pepper, cheese, 3 cans of organic crushed tomatoes, a can of mushrooms, and a can of olives. And a bottle of sparking wine. When I left the store, it was almost dark outside.
When I got home, I combined a packet of yeast in a cup of warm tap water and combined 3 cups of flour with 1 teaspoon salt. Rain began to fall in sheets outside. The yeast didn't look alive in the water, so I stirred in some honey. Bubbles started to float up to the surface, so I thought it was okay. Then I mixed the water and flour/salt mixture together with a spoon. I let it set for about 10 minutes while I looked for my dough hook for the stand mixer. I fitted the bowl and dough hook on the stand mixer as the wind beat the rain against my windows. As soon as a ball formed, the power went out.
I found two candles in the back of my kitchen, lit them with my grill lighter, and set them on plates in the kitchen and in the dining room.
I finished kneading the dough on the countertop and broke it into two pieces, and then I pour olive oil into two bowls. I put a dough ball in the first bowl, flipped the ball over, and oiled it on all sides. I repeated the process with the second ball of dough. Outside small pieces of hail pummeled my front windows.
I cut the fleshy lobes off of the bell pepper. I cut it into thin strips and then diced them, separating some for topping the pizza. I cut the skin from an onion, cut it in half, and diced it. The rain had slacked off outside.
I was grating a carrot into the bowl with the pepper and onion when my husband came home. The rain was slacking and I was considering cooking my sauce outside on the gas grill's burner when the power came on.
I made my sauce by sauteing the onion, pepper, and carrot a tablespoon of olive oil. I added 3 cans of crushed tomatoes and a teaspoon of crushed red pepper. Now the pizza stone is preheating in the oven and the sky is clear.

Pizza Party

1 cup warm water
3 -4 cups bread flour
1 package active dry yeast
Olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Corn mill
Tomato sauce (see recipe below)
Desired toppings

Equipment: pizza stone and a wooden cutting board(a stand mixer makes this easy, but it isn’t necessary)

Mix water and yeast. Mix flour and salt (start with 3 cups flour). Add yeast water. Kneed or mix with hook if using a stand mixer. If using a stand mixer, stop and push down sides periodically. Add more flour if needed to make a ball. Once a ball forms, divide ball in half. Place each dough ball in an oiled bowl. Flip the balls over, and cover bowl with a damp towel. Let rise one hour.

Heat stone in oven to 450 degrees (Make sure that your oven is clean and there is no unbaked oil on the stone).

Flour a wood cutting board and the dough ball. Using your hands, gently stretch dough into a flat disk. Sprinkle board with corn mill. Gently stretch dough to a pizza shape, being careful not to tear holes. Arrange pizza on board and lightly cover with olive oil. Remove stone from oven and place on heat proof surface. Carefully slide pizza to stone (the corn mill will let is slide). Top with sauce and desired toppings. Bake 15 minutes or until done.

Tomato Sauce

Olive oil
1 small onion diced
½ green pepper diced
½ rip celery diced
1 carrot grated
½ teaspoon pickled garlic or pinch of garlic powder
2 cans organic crushed tomatoes
½ teaspoon red pepper flake
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion, bell pepper and celery in two tablespoons of olive oil until tender. Add grated carrot and garlic and cook for a few seconds. Add cans of crushed tomatoes and red pepper flake, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Note: The pizza can be made on the cold stone and then put into the preheated oven. The pizza isn’t as good, but it leaves less room for disaster.

Note: After cooking the allergy safe pizza, cheese could be added to a second pizza. However, use caution. The separate cutter and server were hard for some of my diners to keep separate and the situation isn’t safe for children who have allergies.

Dessert Apple Pizza

1/2 recipe hand tossed pizza crust (enough for one pizza)
½ cup apple butter
3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
For icing (optional) 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon oil, 2 tablespoons water

Shape pizza as in previous recipe. Spread apple butter on crust like a sauce. Arrange apple slices on pizza. Sprinkle with brown sugar and drizzle with olive oil. Bake on preheated pizza stone in a 475 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Note: Try any combination of fruit and jam.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tonight's Dinner: Olive and Fresh Tomato Pasta with Cinnamon and Sugar Banana "Pudding" Dessert

Olive and Fresh Tomato Pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
1 green bell pepper, diced
12 olives, cut in pieces
2 tomatoes
¼ cup tomato sauce
8 ounces pasta

Directions:Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, sauté onion, bell pepper, and chicken breast in olive oil until chicken is no longer pink and the onion and pepper are tender and lightly brown. When pasta is done, add drained pasta and remaining ingredients to the chicken and vegetable mixture. Cook until warm through.

Serves 4.

Cinnamon and Sugar Banana “Pudding”

4 bananas
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

With bananas still in peeling, use a knife to make a long slice down one side of each banana without cutting all the way through. Use a spoon to widen each cut. Mix the cinnamon and sugar. Fill each cut with one teaspoon of cinnamon and sugar mixture. Put bananas on a broil safe sheet. Broil on high for 5 to 15 minutes, until peeling is dark brown and bananas are warm through. Serve in peel with spoons for scooping warm banana “pudding” out of the skins.

Serves 4

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Strawberry Pork Lettuce Wraps

The hold up with posting a lot of my recipes is getting pictures of them. I take pictures, but they are often out of focus. My brother-in-law, William Jones, has agreed to help me in this area, so I'm sorry, but a picture of this one will have to come later.

Strawberry Pork Lettuce Wraps
I love my slow cooker, but it often gets relegated to storage in the summer because my family, friends, and I tend not to crave the hardy warm foods that it produces during the hottest months. This dish, along with my North Carolina Barbeque recipes, gets my slow cooker out of storage to make a wonderful summer meal. The strawberries melt into the pork, making it tastey and moist.

2 cups strawberries, caps removed
1 to 2 pounds lean pork roast
1 head lettuce, washed and cored with leaves separated
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon red pepper flake (optional)

In a slow cooker, combine strawberries, pork, salt and pepper, and red pepper flake if using. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Use a fork to shred the tender cooked pork. Serve with lettuce. Allow diners to scoop a small amount of filling in a lettuce leaf, roll, and eat. Serve with fresh fruit and crunchy vegetables like shredded cabbage and carrots.