Homemade Pizza (is the best)

I taught cooking classes this summer, and probably the biggest hit was making pizzas.Pizza always means a good time. There are so many kinds of pizzas too, from the different kinds of bases you can use to the endless amount of toppings, pizza is such a treat. Making it at home is not only fun, but pretty easy too! The dough is simple to make ahead, and great for a fun D.I.Y dinner with friends. Metal pizza trays can be bought practically anywhere (even at the dollar store for, you guessed it – 1 dollar). I always cook my pizza until the dough is nice and golden, then slip it off the pan and put it back in the over for a few more minutes to get the bottom nice and crispy. Make sure you ALWAYS flour your pizza tray (semolina flour works great for this) otherwise I’ve had some sticky pizza issues.

Check out this gorgeous pizza one of my middle school students made!

Check out this gorgeous pizza one of my middle school students made!

The Dough –

There are lots of different classic pizza dough recipes out there, but all of them are basically the same.

This recipe makes 1 pizza dough, and can easily be doubled.

1 packet of yeast

2 cups of flour

¾ c lukewarm water

1 T sugar

1 T olive oil

1 t coarse salt

Mix up the yeast and water and let it activate until foamy, usually takes about 5 minutes. Add the sugar into the yeast and water mixture and combine that with the flour and salt. Lightly work the olive oil into the mixture and cover with plastic. Let it sit out at room temperature until it’s doubled in size. Knead the dough for a few minutes when it’s done before using!

I’ve tried this recipe with whole-wheat flour and you can check out this awesome gluten free pizza dough recipe here.

Kale Pesto Base topped w/ Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Kale Pesto Base topped w/ Tomatoes, Brussel Sprouts and Mushrooms

The Base –

The classic tomato base is always nice, but I love me a good pesto base. I’ve made spinach and kale pesto pizza (say that 10 times fast) before and that was absolutely delish. You can also keep is simple and press a few cloves of garlic into some olive oil, and brush that all over the dough!

The Toppings –

There are so many great things you can put on a pizza, never say never! Pizzas are such a great way to use up ingredients that are on their way out. Load it up with all sort of veggies and cheese and you’re set! My only tip on putting raw veggies is to toss them in a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper before adding them to the pizza. Veggies without a little oil on them can dry out.

Then there’s of course the cheese. Don’t think I need to say much on that!

Enjoy! Throw yourself a homemade pizza party!

Plum, Basil and Bacon Pizza with Garlic Base

Plum, Basil and Bacon Pizza with Garlic Base

Flourless Ginger Chocolate Cake (with ginger caramel)

I was going to have dinner with a friend who doesn’t eat gluten, and she asked that I make a dessert. I was thinking of all the gluten free desserts that I’ve made, but wanted to make something that would do the trick –  without being so obviously gluten free.

Flourless chocolate cake is one of those things that just works. It’s not like using gluten-free flour in something and acting like it’s as good as the real thing – flourless chocolate cake is even better than chocolate cake with flour (or so I think). It’s got the richest, chocolatey flavor that’s like a brownie and a chocolate lava cake mixed together. I added a little ginger powder to the mix and  topped it with a ginger caramel, but feel free to top it with a bit of powdered sugar, fruit or really anything you feel like.

**Ginger Chocolate Cake**

5 oz semi-sweet chocolate

½ c butter

½ c sugar

½ c unsweetened cacao powder

3 eggs

Dash of vanilla extract

2 tablespoons of ginger powder

Pinch of salt

Ginger caramel -

½ c fresh ginger

½ c sugar

3 tablespoons butter

Melt chocolate with butter in a double boiler (or metal bowl over small pot of boiling water). When it’s melted, let cool for a few minutes. Add in sugar, unsweetened cacao powder, eggs, a dash of vanilla extract, salt and powdered ginger. Whisk everything together as you add the ingredients.

Grease your cake pan with butter and coco powder and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Fork should come out clean.

Make your ginger caramel by mincing fresh ginger and boiling for 15 minutes. Set aside 1/2 c of the boiling liquid and add the ginger back to the liquid and add the sugar to the mixture. Stir consistently while it boils. It’ll start to look more bubbly and lightly turning color. Take it off heat immediately and keep stirring so that it doesn’t overcook! Add butter and let it melt into the ginger syrup while stirring it all up!

Pour that good stuff all over the cake and enjoy!

Summer Cooking Camp

Screen shot 2014-07-24 at 10.54.16 AM

For the last few weeks I’ve been teaching a cooking camp at the Delphian School for their summer program. Last summer was the first time I had done this, so this year  I really wanted to take advantage of this experience to teach the kids more than just recipes, but also some concepts about food that they can take home with them after summer!

Nothing like freshly made pasta!

Nothing like freshly made pasta!

Making popsicles with my youngest group of students.

Making popsicles with my youngest group of students.

It was such a great, hectic few weeks. I worked with kids ages 4-17, and we worked our way through pasta dough, pizza, ice cream, pies and all sorts of other baked goodies.

Making pizza with my youngest group of students.

Making pizza with my youngest group of students. Whole wheat pizza dough from scratch!

Check out this gorgeous pizza one of my middle school students made!

Check out this gorgeous pizza one of my middle school students made!

Quite a few of them had never heard of tamales before (say what?!) Naturally, I had to enlighten them.

The students made everything including the delicious guac and spicy tomato sauce to go with them!

The students made everything including the delicious guac and spicy tomato sauce to go with them!

The great thing about doing these cooking classes is that everyone is making food that they love, but also learning things about food they never knew before. When making ice cream, we used full fat coconut cream and maple syrup and not the usual egg, cream and white sugar. I wanted to show them that using alternative ingredients can still yield great results!

I used my coconut cream ice cream recipe, and added some of my homemade chocolate. The students couldn't believe it was dairy-free!

I used my coconut cream ice cream recipe, and added some of my homemade chocolate. The students couldn’t believe it was dairy-free!

Students enjoying berry ice cream!

Students enjoying berry ice cream!

It was such a blast and I can’t wait until I can do it again!

Check out this great article they wrote about my visit – Delphian School News

Gorgeous sunset from the campus.

Gorgeous sunset from the campus.

Strawberry Daze (Strawberry Pie, Strawberry Bars and Strawberry Cocktails)

One of my favorite things about living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest is the bounty of  fruit I can find over the summer.

Just a few weeks ago some friends and I stumbled upon a house for sale (totally abandoned) with a huge patch of strawberries in front. We harvested a good 2 pounds of strawberries right on the edge of going bad. It’s amazing the bounty of fruit in my neighborhood, and  I’ve encountered quite a few people who have fruiting trees on their property and didn’t even know it! Before you go foraging, check out this this handy guide that covers it all and more.

First things first – we celebrated with a strawberry cocktail.

The syrup in the cocktails is the same as in the pies - just blended longer. Mixed with a bit of vodka and club soda, you've got yourself a summer drink.

The syrup in the cocktails is the same as in the pies – just blended longer. Mixed with a bit of vodka and club soda, you’ve got yourself a summer drink.

Then we made pies.

These strawberry hand pies are so easy to make and super delicious. I used my basic crust recipe and added a little bit of coriander for fun. The filling is just 1/4 lb strawberries, 1/2 c sugar and 2 t lemon juice. Cook it down for about 15-20 minutes (make sure its on low so that the water doesn’t evaporate out of the strawberries too fast), and then cool and blend half the mixture. Cut the pie crust in circles, place a small amount of the filling, fold over and seal with a brush of egg wash. Crimp the edges with a fork, brush the top with egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar and bake @350 for 10 minutes. Crust should be slightly brown.

Lastly I had to make some strawberry bars. They were easy to make, and even easier to eat. Beware!

The crumble is a basic recipe of flour, brown sugar, butter and oats. Lay half the mixture down in a well greased baking pan, pour strawberry filling on top, and cover with the other half of crumble. Bake @350 for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Wait until it cools slightly to remove from pan.

bars

Happy Summer!

 

 

Crispy Potato Pancakes

I had a few friends over for breakfast this weekend, and was trying to think of what I could make that fits everything you want for breakfast in one dish. After going through the usual quiche or frittata idea (which I already make frequently), I decided to make potato pancakes for the first time. Let just say it took me two times to really nail this recipe, as I totally forgot to squeeze the insane amount of starchy water out of the raw shredded potatoes!

My potato pancake failure turned into some super tasty hash browns!

My first potato pancake failure turned into some super tasty hash browns!

The first time I made these (Saturday) I shredded the potatoes with all the ingredients, cracked some eggs in it and let it sit around for a little bit before making breakfast. The problem was that there was so much liquid at the bottom of the bowl, so I ended up making hash browns instead. So this time I shredded the potatoes and squeezed them out with cheesecloth before mixing them with anything else. Makes a HUGE difference so you can’t forget to do this!

Nice and crispy on the outside, and moist and soft on the inside!

Nice and crispy on the outside, and moist and soft on the inside!

 

**Crispy Potato Pancakes** Makes 2 servings (6 small cakes)

2 medium red potatoes, shredded and wrung out with a cheesecloth

½ c shredded multicolored carrots

¼ c white onion, minced

2 T green onion

Salt, pepper

1 egg

Heat up pan with about a ¼ inch of olive oil. While the oil is heating, add all the ingredients to the bowl and mix together. Form mixture into balls and place in oil, using the spatula to form them into patties by pressing down lightly on the balls. Flip after a few minutes or when crispy colored! Pat with paper towel immediately out of the pan. Garnish with green onions and sour cream!

Topped with a sriracha sour cream - Just mix the two together and serve!

Topped with a sriracha sour cream – Just mix the two together and serve!

Enjoy!

 

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

From the front of the house

From the front of the house

It’s that time of year where I can’t help but go outside every day to garden, even when there is nothing to do. Some days I’ll go outside and just stand there staring at the garden, hoping to see it grow before my eyes. I went out of town for two nights, and first thing I did upon getting home was the walk-around, excitedly ooing and ahhing over any slight progress and growth. The most exciting thing going on at the moment are the strawberries, I go out there every day and count the buds, adding up all the strawberries that will probably never make it into my kitchen only 5 feet away.

Future delicious strawberries!

Future delicious strawberries!

It’s amazing how far the space has come in the past few weeks. The string beans have germinated along with the lettuce, delicata squash and cabbage. My tomato seedlings are coming along and all the transplants from school are in the ground.

The string beans are up! One of the varieties I planted are white!

The string beans are up! One of the varieties I planted are white!

Good sign finding nice fat worms in the soil!

Good sign finding nice fat worms in the soil!

I can’t wait to be able to go outside every day and pick fresh ingredients to use in my meals! Thanks again so much to those people who donated to my kickstarter campaign to get my gardening going! Not too much longer and I’ll have tons of goodies for you!

plants1

Stevia! Have you ever tasted a fresh stevia leaf? So incredibly sweet I can't wait to use it in baking and tea.

Stevia! Have you ever tasted a fresh stevia leaf? So incredibly sweet I can’t wait to use it in baking and tea.

For those of you still deciding on whether or not you should do a garden this year, the answer is HELL YES and you need to get started now! Nearly every garden and grocery store offers plant starts and potting soil right outside or in the front of the store.

Here is an excerpt from my eBook “Shut Up and Eat: A Foodie’s Guide to Growing, Cooking and Eating Food” to get you going! To buy the full version click here!

A picture of my gorgeous fuchsias for good measure.

A picture of my gorgeous fuchsias for good measure.

Chapter Two: Getting Started In the Garden

 

On the subject of gardening there are countless books one could read. There are books dedicated solely to organic gardening and ones for composting, growing herbs, hydroponics, green house growing and the list goes on. I’ve been studying Urban Agriculture for almost two years now, and even with all the information that I’ve gained, I still have an insane amount of things to learn.

If gardening could be simplified into a checklist, then this would be it. Gardening for each person is different depending on what kind of soil you have, your climate and even what you want to grow. However, despite all these things, from start to finish, gardening is all the same. Let’s do this.

 

  • Think about where you can grow – Survey your space and start looking at how much sun hits your yard, kitchen or back porch throughout the day. If you have a big back yard and want to grow outside, there are a few things to keep in mind. Feel the soil and make sure that it’s suitable first – if you cannot stick your fingers into the ground or easily crumble a chunk in your hand, then it may be best to go the other route of raised beds or container growing. A lot of time, in more urban settings, raised beds are a good idea because the soil just hasn’t been conditioned for vegetable growing. Instead look at any spot a container or pot can be set, or even where you could build a little garden bed. I love the bookshelf idea; it’s so easy and just takes finding the right one at goodwill. Costs less money than buying the materials, plus it’s always great to repurpose! If you’re growing inside, look for spots you can set up a table by a sunny window. Lots of herbs are easy to grow inside – as long as they get a good few hours of sun each day and plenty of water!
  • Make a plan – Once you know where you want to grow, coming up with a little plan is a great way to keep it all together. Things may change throughout the process, but having a little drawing or even scribbles on a sheet of paper will keep you a bit saner. You can also figure where pots, beds and containers are going, and plan for a border planting if you wish.
  • Go shopping – Once you have an idea of where you want to grow, get all you need! Buy that bookshelf from goodwill, some raw materials for a bed and collect tubs and pots. Most places will sell plant starts so that all you have to do is transplant into the ground, garden bed or bigger pot. That is probably the best idea for smaller gardens, since the process of starting seeds inside and getting them outside can be a bit more extensive. Don’t let this stop you from trying to start seeds! Browse the seed section at your local garden store and pick some of your favorite stuff to try out. Look into places where you can get good, organic soil and compost as well.
  • Get planting – sow your seeds, pot up your tomatoes and set up your awesome kitchen herb garden. Certain seeds like lettuces, carrots and beets are best direct-seeded into the ground. Seed packets also have directions on the back that tell you when to sow them and how. Make sure you read up!
  • Tend to your garden – Don’t forget about it! Water it everyday when it’s hot. You should be able to feel moisture when you stick your finger into the soil. Watch for suspicious pests and pull up those weeds before they take up all your plant’s nutrients.
  • Research – When you have questions, look for answers. Funny looking color on stalk, or weird holes in the foliage, whatever it is there is almost always a simple answer and solution. There’s always more you can do to enrich your garden – composting and worm bins are just a few examples of all the great ways you can help give back to the environment through your garden!
  • Check out the additional resources page for other great links to reliable gardening sources.
  • Most of all, happy gardening! All it takes is getting started – and you will make mistakes – I guarantee that. Trust me though, the whole process is so rewarding, and even if all you get at the end of the year is 2 carrots and a tomato, they’ll be the best you’ve ever had. My friend Jessica called an herb garden a “gateway garden” as it’s a great way to get into the dirtier gardening stuff. Go get dirty!
Get your boots on

Go get your gardening boots on

 

Vegan Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can’t believe this is the first time I have ever made vegan cookies. Yes, it’s true! I’ve made plenty of vegan treats before, but when it comes to replacing eggs in a recipe, I get awfully flustered. Flax or some sort of egg-replacer, though I am sure they work fine, don’t often find their way into my pantry. Even though I am fully stocked up on my farm-fresh eggs, I love a good challenge. Plus I’ve been really enjoying experimenting with coconut oil instead of butter, so vegan cookies seemed to be the obvious next step. These cookies came out so crumbly and moist, I swear you wouldn’t even know the difference.

** Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies ** Makes 15 small cookies

½ c coconut oil, slightly melted

1 c coconut sugar

1 T maple syrup

2 T almond/coconut milk

2 heaping spoonfuls of almond butter

2 c all-purpose flour (could probably work with GF flour too!)

1/2 c vegan chocolate chips (plenty of chocolate chips are vegan, just read ingredients)

1 t baking powder and baking soda

pinch of salt

1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Melt the coconut oil and mix in with coconut sugar, almond/coconut milk and maple syrup. Mix for a minute or so until fully combined. In a separate bowl add all the dry ingredients. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Using your hands to mix  may work best! The mixture won’t be the typical cookie dough texture, but a little bit more crumbly. Add in chocolate chips. Form into small balls and bake on cookie sheet for 7 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before enjoying!