Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Green Monster

I have a hate/hate relationship with vegetables.  There is never a time that I enjoy eating them.  Well, I shouldn't say never.  Maybe there was this one time in my entire life that I had a good experience while eating veggies.  I can recall sitting at the table in my younger years, disdainfully eyeballing a pile of cauliflower on my plate.  I threw up after that encounter.  I haven't touched a piece of cauliflower since, and it seems that the experience somehow managed to cloud my perspective on all vegetables.  That being said, I found a recipe for a Green Monster Smoothie, once again, on faithful Annie's Eats.  It sounded normal enough, until the spinach part.  I swore I would never EVER desecrate a smoothie by adding veggies to it. 

Several weeks later I realized that I was in for it because my 20 month old daughter pretty much screams whenever she sees something of a vegetable hue.  I decided I would make the smoothie and even add the spinach to it, and she could drink it.  I made the mistake of letting her see the color before I tried to coerce her into drinking it.  (Which she never did, by the way.)  I hate letting things go to waste, so I sucked up my vegetable pride and took a hesitant sip.  It was actually quite delish!  I have since made several adjustments to it and now find it quite delectable.  So, if you are like me, and find your skin becoming whiter and whiter for lack of vegetable pigment, drink up!  I promise you, I actually enjoy these things - which is saying a lot, coming from me!

Nic's Hate Veggies Smoothie (Makes 1 serving)

1/3 banana
1/3 cup frozen pineapple (I also used mango when pineapple wasn't available)
1/3 pear, coarsley chopped
1/3 + 1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 heaping cup yogurt - flavor of your choice (I used peach)
5 ice cubes
Small handful of spinach leaves
1 Tbsp. ground flax

Combine all ingredients in blender or Magic Bullet and pulse until completley smooth.

It looks so gross, but is soooo good!

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chicken, Pesto & Parmasan Pizza

because really, who does not love pizza?  I have become quite an avid Annie's Eats follower, as you probably know, and I came across the picture of a pizza that she had made, complete with chicken, homemade pesto and roasted tomatoes from her garden.  I started drooling immediatley and knew I HAD to make it.  I made it exactly as the recipe stated the first time around, and it was okay.  I found it lacked a good amount of flavor, so the second time I made my own pesto recipe that I have adapted from the back of a package of President's Choice basil, used a TON of parmasan cheese and only a little bit of mozzarella, and threw in not only tomatoes, but spinach leaves and mushrooms as well.  It was divine.  Between hubby & myself, and little kiddo who doesn't really count because she abhors eating (although, she did eat an entire piece of this!) we polished off the whole thing in one dinner. 
The dough is from Annie's Perfect Pizza Dough, and it is lovely; plus if you have a stand mixer it takes about 30 seconds of effort.  Not bad, especially if you have a little munchkin or munchkins hanging off your leg and attempting to shimmy up your body every time you try and prepare a meal!  The recipes look time intensive, but they aren't; making the pesto is what takes time, and I love shortcuts, so would buy it in a package, but being allergic to nuts means I am destined to always make my own.

Annie's Perfect Pizza Crust Dough|Makes roughly 2 crusts
1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (or one packet)
1 1/4 cups water, room temperature
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups flour (you can use either whole wheat or all purpose - I usually do half and half and it is great!)
1 1/2 tsp salt

Sprinkle yeast into the warm water (in a larger measuring cup) for approx. 5 minutes until yeast is dissolved.
Add room temperature water and oil, stir to combine.
Place the flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer and give it a good mix at low speed, with the paddle, until combined.
Slowly add the wet ingredients and mix at low speed until it forms a cohesive ball of dough. 
Replace the paddle with the dough hook, and mix on low for about 5 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and put into a well oiled large bowl bowl; cover with plastic wrap.
Let rise for 1.5-2 hours, punch the dough to deflate, divide into 2 and make your pizza(s)!

Chicken, Pesto & Parmasan pizza
1/2 batch of pizza dough
Basil pesto (you can buy premade, or make your own; President's Choice has a great recipe on the back of their 28g package of Basil... which I would share, but don't have!)
Shredded parmasan cheese
A small amount of shredded mozzarella cheese
Grilled chicken (I usually use about 1 breast)
Cherry tomatoes (cut in half or thirds)
Handful of spinach
Handful of mushrooms
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400.
Roll out dough onto a pizza stone.
Spread with basil pesto.
Load on the cheese.
Top with remaining ingredients, and season with salt and pepper.
Bake about 15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and crust is lightly browned; let cool for 5 minutes to ease cutting.

Source: Pizza crust from Annie's Eats; adapted from Baking Illustrated

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Celebrating Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

In honor of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, I am back. I have actually been at it for a while, reviewing recipes, taking photos, making my family eat failures and accomplishments alike! So, because of this wonderful day where we recognize the impact that Chocolate Chip Cookies have had on our lives, I decided that is what I would start with. I have been quite an Annie's Eats fan for some time now, and she was the one who actually brought this day to my attention, and because of that, I decided I would make her all time favorite CCC recipe. It was delicious. I have reviewed quite a few of her recipes as of late and some have worked, and some, well, not so much. I will post about what NOT to make later.

My best friend, also known as Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, went on the fritz about 2 weeks ago and I had to send it back. I have yet to get my new one and am about to start a protest, so I had to use my hand mixer for these. Normally that is fine, but mine has an exceptional quality that involves blasting the flour all over the kitchen if you hold it at the wrong angle. For some reason I always forget about aforementioned quality, I should take a picture of the damage one of these days.

Anyways, on to bigger and better things. My goal is to review a recipe a week, and to also share my failures - what if you attempt to make the dud of a recipe that I just did, and I could have saved you from all the work and money? I have also decided that when I post recipes I will ALWAYS put them in Canadian measurments. This has become my new pet peeve: happening upon recipes that have multiple styles of measurment which involves a half hour google search to figure out what it all means.

So without further ado, here is Annie's recipe.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies:
2 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter - melted and cooled
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.
Whisk first 3 ingredients together, set aside.
Mix together butter and sugars until combined. Beat in egg, yolk & vanilla.
Add dry ingredients and mix JUST until combined.
Stir in chocolate chips by hand.
I find cookies bake best on a stone, so use this if you can. Bake at 375 for 11 minutes or so.

Enjoy, because I know you will!

Source:, adapted from Blonde Ambition in the Kitchen, originally from Baking Illustrated

Next up: Pesto, Chicken & Parmasan Pizza