Pizza Pockets

We took a stab at turning our pizzas into pockets. To get going we turned the oven to 425F.

Next we formed 2 pizzas worth of dough (here is how easy it is to make your own) into 5 balls (since we had 5 hungry people at the ready with forks at hand). We also got the following items ready: sliced mozzarella cheese, grated cheddar cheese, grated parmesan cheese, minced garlic, cut cherry tomatoes, cut artichoke hearts, and fresh basil.

We rolled out each ball of dough and heaped on a pile of goodness to each of our liking.

Then we folded the dough over and tugged in the edges. Each pocket received a few slices as air vents and off into the oven they went for 15 to 20 minutes.

That gave us time to set the table and prep a salad.

Broccoli Stir Fry

A shout out to Melissa and Marcus of My Whole Food Life! We tried their Easy Broccoli Stir Fry recipe and chalked it down as a winner. Here is how we managed to screw it up.

For starters we prepared a pot of rice and chopped up 3 carrots, 2 heads of broccoli, 2 handfuls of snow peas, 2 garlic cloves4 green onions, and searched in the cupboards for a couple handfuls of edamame beans and sesame oil.

Next we prepared a peanut sauce by combining roughly 1/2 cup of natural peanut butter (just peanuts), a knob of ginger which we grated, 1 Tbsp of soy sauce, and the juice of 1 orange and 1 lime.

About 10 minutes prior to the rice being done we heated some of the sesame oil in a pan and then gently fried up the veggies all at once, shy of the green onions. By continuously nibbling we decided on a extraction point of perfect crunchy softness, added the sauce, served it on rice and garnished it all with the green onions.

Hmmmmm ... belly-tickling goodness!!

The Five Bowl Roasted Chicken

Yikes this turned out good. It was hard to stop eating. A roasted chicken, potatoes, and leek tray. Definitely a weekend dish. We allowed ourselves two hours to get it on the table.

First we chopped up 5 potatoes and placed them in the first bowl with 2 lbs. of chicken breasts and drumsticks. We tossed them up with salt, pepper, cumin, and olive oil. Letting them marinate for 30 minutes while we warmed up the oven to 425F.

In the second bowl we mixed up 2 sliced leeks, the zest of 1 lemon, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

In the third bowl we mixed Greek yogurt, sour crème, herbs (dill, oregano, chives), 1 grated clove of garlic, salt, and pepper.

In the fourth "bowl" we washed 2 handful of arugula.

And in the fifth bowl we squeezed the juice of the previously zested lemon.

There. 5 bowls.

When the oven was hot we placed the chicken and tater mix onto a tray and roasted it for 15 minutes. Then we spread the leek over it and roasted it for another 30 minutes.

To serve we drizzled the lemon juice and the arugula over the tray. We let everybody load their plates and add the yogurt to their liking.

Roasted Broccoli Pasta

This was an absolute winner for a weekday eating. It took maybe 40 minutes or so.

First we turned the oven to 425F. Then we tossed 2 heads worth of broccoli florets onto a baking tray and seasoned them with cumin, salt, and pepper.

We stuck them into the oven for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, we cooked 1lb of pasta.

In a food processor we whizzed up 2 slices of stale bread, a handful of freshly shredded Parmesan, the zest of 1 lemon, salt, and pepper.
Then we tossed it all together: the cooked broccoli, the pasta, and the bread and cheese mixture. As well as a small container of ricotta cheese, and a couple of glugs of olive oil.

We broiled the heap of goodness for a few minutes to get a nice crispy crust going and dug in. Totally delicious.

Grandma's Beef Stew

When snow came down on a perfectly fine spring day in North Carolina's Piedmont we decided to test out an all American old-fashioned beef stew.

We gave the whole affair 2 1/2 hours with plenty of time to skip out. First we dusted 1 1/2 lb. of chopped up stew meat in a quarter cup of flour and a good bit of pepper.

Then we browned it with olive oil in our casserole pot in 2 batches.

We took out the meat and added about 1 cup of red wine and roughly 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Over medium heat we loosened all the crunchy beef bits and then added 2 bay leaves, 1 quart of beef broth, and the meat, brought the whole shebang to a boil and let it simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours.

Then we pealed and chopped 1 medium onion, 5 carrots, and 3 potatoes. They were added to the stew for another 30 minutes. At the end we measured the consistency of the broth and took off the lid for a while. We also nibbled on the potatoes to call for dinner when they were just right.

A little salt and pepper - Voila! Mama and Papa got a finish off the left over wine as we dug in. It was just right. Warming our bones and leaving us without a care in the world. Of course the snow was all melted and gone by the time we were done.

Weekend Chili

On a moody weekend day this chili hit our table with a hungry thud. For 3 1/2 hours it had been slow cooking to perfection in the oven.

We gave us a lazy 30 minutes to prepare. First we turned the oven to 350F and roughly chopped up 3 onions, 3 carrots, 4 celery sticks, and 4 garlic cloves.

We stuffed it all into a food processor.

Next we chopped up 4 peppers and a chunk of brisket, a bit heavier than 1 lb.

With some olive oil we first fried up the peppers in a casserole dish over high heat and then added the meat and cooked until it was browned.

We added 3 small cans of whole tomatoes, 3 cans of kidney beans, and a tablespoon of each ground cumin, ground coriander, and smoked paprika. With a  little salt and pepper we brought it all to a boil and ...

shoved it into the oven for 3 1/2 hours.

About 45 minutes before dinner time we prepared a pot of brown rice, wedges of 1 lime, a chopped up chili pepper, and parsley.
Oh my. We were supposed to keep about half for left overs. But we dug in so deep that we got dangerously close to licking the pot clean.

Cheese Cake - a Shot in the Dark

Under the protective cloak of night we gathered in the kitchen to secretively prepare Mama's birthday cheese cake for the next morning's traditional birthday-cake-breakfast.
Here is what we tried in the shallow beams of flash lights. And, oh my, did it turn out splendid.

First we wrapped a spring form pan in turkey size aluminum foil to make it water tight. 2 layers. No seams. No rips or punctures.

We preheated the oven to 350 F, whizzed up 15 Graham Crackers (roughly 225g) in a food processor, mixed in 2 tablespoons of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted.

All that got mixed by hand and pressed into the bottom of the form pan. We placed it into the oven for 10 minutes, removed it, and lowered the temp to 325F.

Then we whipped up 4 packs of cream cheese (about 900g) in a mixer until it looked smooth. A good 5 minutes.
Then we added 1 1/3 cup of sugar and whipped it for another 5 minutes.

Then we added one by one without stopping the mixer a pinch of salt, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 4 eggs, 2/3 cup of sour cream, and 2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream.

We placed the spring form pan into a roasting pan, the cheese mixture into the form pan and onto the crust, and the whole thing into the oven.
Then we ever so carefully filled the roasting pan with about an inch of boiling water. Making sure the form pan and in it, more importantly, the cake-to-be was staying dry.
We baked it for 1 1/2 hours.
To keep the top from cracking we turned off the oven and opened its door for an hour before we carefully lifted the cake, form and all, out of the water bed and into the fridge.

Yum. What a keeper. Mama showed up the next morning, dug in, and turned the clock by a year with a big grin from ear to ear.

Roasted Veggies and Chicken

For a quick prep on a lazy weekend we shoved some veggies and chicken into the oven.

We cleaned and chopped up as much broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes as seemed plenty for our hungry hearts.

We arranged them in neat piles around a few chicken breasts on a roasting pan, spread 2 chopped cloves of garlic, and sprinkled olive oil all over.

A little salt and pepper and off into the preheated oven at 400F for 40 minutes.

There was not a crumb left. The kids were fighting over the veggies. Girl Scout's honor.

Banana Bread

We gave it a go at another all American classic - banana bread. Perfectly good for using overripe bananas. For starters we turned the oven to 375F and frothed up 12 table spoons of butter with 1 cup of sugar (Now we do understand that this might not stack up to your health standards, but oh my was it yummy. We might substitute the sugar with a 1/4 cup of honey next time around).

Then Lucy added 2 eggs,

3 bananas, and 4 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, mixing it all up.

Then we folded in 2 cups of flour as well as

1 teaspoon of baking soda and a small handful of chopped almonds (any nut would be good).

We spread the goodness over two 9 inch baking pans and shoved them into the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Look at it. Just unadulterated gobble it down and lick your fingers delight.