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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Homemade Pizza For Pennies

Friday night pizza is a mainstay in many a tired household by the end of a long week. Even if on a tight budget you can enjoy a good pizza and even have control of what goes in and on it for variety and better nutrition.

The recipe originally came from a cookbook called The Food Processor Bread Book by the editors of Consumer Guide, but I got it from a wonderful book called The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn There are three books to this set described as "promoting thrift as a viable alternative lifestyle". This recipe came from book two.

Bread dough made in a food processor requires no hand kneading, just a few spins to form a dough ball, a short rest and you're ready to roll it out and get it in the oven.


THICK AND CHEWY PIZZA DOUGH

1/4 - 3/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F, you don't want it too hot or it'll kill the yeast)
1 package or 1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine 1/4 cup of the water with the yeast and the sugar in a small bowl.
Stir to dissolve the yeast and let it stand about five to ten minutes till the yeast starts to bubble and rise.

Put the flour, oil, and salt into the food processor and process on blend for about five seconds. Use the steel blade.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and process about 10 seconds or until blended.

While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle just enough of the remaining water through the feed tube so the dough forms a ball that cleans the sides of the bowl. Once the ball is formed let it spin around about 25 to 30 times.

Put the dough ball onto a 14-inch greased pizza pan. I used a pizza stone and sprinkled corn meal over the surface but if I don't have any cornmeal I grease it with coconut oil.
Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap of a bowl and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Using your fingers or a lightly floured rolling pin press out the dough into a circle shape, leaving a ridge along the sides.
Spread with pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce if you don't have pizza sauce, add your choice of cheese, toppings and pizza seasoning if desired.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly.

Remove the pizza pan from the oven, cut and enjoy!

Note:
You can make the dough ball(s) ahead of time and freeze them so you have them on hand.
Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 months. When ready to use, remove from the freezer about 12 hours before you need to make the pizza and put in the refrigerator to thaw. Bring out of the fridge about 30 minutes to warm up before attempting to roll it out.



Friday, September 16, 2016

Flour Free Blender Muffins, Healthy Snacking




When I discovered this recipe on Facebook for a flourless muffin I was intrigued to try it as a great, healthy idea to cut back on the amount of wheat based bread our family eats. The recipe seemed simple enough but the first time around I certainly didn't have them on the table as quick as suggested. Here's why, so should you try these you don't waste time out of frustration and toss the whole idea.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
Use cooking spray or add muffin cup liners to your muffin pan.
Recipe makes 12 muffins

Gather your Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats
2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 cup Greek yogurt  (I don't see why it specifies Greek yogurt other than it is nice and thick. I used vanilla yogurt rather than plain but that is up to you)
3 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
dash of salt which is about 1/8 tsp

Topping Suggestions:

-cinnamon and apple chunks
-strawberries and blueberries
-chocolate chips and almonds
-strawberries and chocolate chips
-unsweetened coconut
-granola

I found these also make a healthy snack idea for our dogs. Just be sure not to include raisins or chocolate as toppings if your dog will be sharing them with you.


The original recipe says to just add all ingredients to a blender, blend for 1-2 minutes and voila. Well, this is the part that can get you to say, umm...what am I doing wrong...and bag it.
From this picture you can see I added the ingredients in the order listed which is the oats first. When I turned on the blender it just seem to strain the motor. Since the liquid (which there isn't much anyway) couldn't drip down to the blades, my blender wasn't strong enough to get things going. So I ended up dumping the whole thing out into a big bowl and stirring it to blend a bit. I put it all back in and tried again...to no avail. So out it goes again into my bowl and I added it back to the blender in parts. I put about a fourth in and blended it before adding some more, continuing to do this about four times till it was all in and churning nicely. Blend till smooth but don't over do it cause we all know that an overly mixed muffin ends up a tough muffin.


Pouring the batter over into the muffin cups was easy enough since it was in a blender and not a bowl where you have the drips from having to scoop them into the pan.

I chose granola for my topping since that is what I had but fresh fruit would probably be delicious and you can't lose with chocolate chips. Vanilla, butterscotch or cinnamon chips are also ideas to try. I also want to see how it works with dried fruit, like blueberries, cranberries, cherries and of course raisins. Keep off the raisins or the chocolate chips if giving to your dog. The other type chips should probably be avoided too since there's no reason a dog needs sugary sweets.


So in the oven they go for 15 minutes. Maybe it's just my oven but they weren't done in only 15 minutes so I baked them another five minutes and my toothpick came out clean. I let them cool a bit so they wouldn't stick when getting them out. They didn't just pop out (maybe your type of pan will, but I used a stone muffin pan), so I ran a dull knife around the edges to loosen first. Don't use a sharp knife or you may scratch your muffin pan.

These muffins are very tasty, but were a little spongy. I don't know if that is normal or perhaps I mixed the batter too long or maybe they could've baked a bit longer. Future trial and error will tell me that.
Since one batch only makes 12 muffins I had no need to freeze them so don't know how that would work out. I have a feeling they would defrost and be even more spongy than they are now. But I'd have to try it to know for sure.
With all the ideas for toppings, these muffins do have a lot of potential to be made frequently.
They are easy and quick and very healthy. One muffin is said to have about 115 calories, 2 grams fat, 20 grams carbs, 5 grams protein, 2 grams fiber, 8 grams sugar.
If it says anything, my dogs loved them!