Monthly Archives: April 2010

Greek Pita Pizzas

So, we’re moving in two days to a house!  Yes, we bought our very first house– and it’s brand-new!   So, we’re pretty excited!   It’s so much work, and I’ve been trying to clean out my cupboards so I don’t have to pack so much.

I made these little pizzas on Saturday night for dinner and they were simple, delicious and inspiring!  A pita bread is the perfect canvas for a multitude of little pizzas, and it’s quick and easy!  I think they would be good with typical pizza toppings or anything that you can imagine.

Greek Pita Pizzas
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com
Serves 2

2 whole pita breads
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup torn spinach
1/3 crumbled feta cheese
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Brush pitas with 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Place on a baking sheet and broil 4 inches from the heat for 2 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine remaining oil, olives, vinegar, spices, salt and pepper.  Spread over pita.  Top with spinach, feta cheese, tomatoes and parmesan.  Broil 3 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.

XOXO,
The Hungry Teacher

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Fritatta– Pefect for Earth Day

Earth Day is coming up on Thursday, April 22.

There are lots of little things that we can do to help our earth.  One big thing that we can do is to eat locally.  Eating locally is a bit of a craze these days, but it’s a great thing to do!  The book, “The 100 Mile Diet” by Alisa Smith and James (JB) MacKinnon illustrates this concept really well, and it’s a great read.

Eating locally allows you to support the farmers and other members of your community.  Produce especially tastes much better when it is eaten in season.  Farm fresh eggs have beautiful golden yolks that are unlike anything you can get at the grocery store (on my last dozen of farm eggs, I had 2 double yolkers!)

Another thing you can do is to reduce the amount of meat you eat.  I pretty much have to sneak meatless recipes into my house, because of my meat-loving husband, but he’s a good sport and will humour me once in a while.

Now, onto the recipe.  The beautiful thing about a fritatta is that it can be made with anything you have on hand.  It’s perfect for those veggies and pieces of cheese that are leftover in your fridge.  It can also be made in about ten minutes from start to finish!  My frittata had ham (although, this is definitely optional!), cheese, sundried tomatoes and some Italian seasoning in it.  If you are going to use “hard” vegetables (onions, potatoes) sautee them in a bit of olive oil before making the fritatta.  A fritatta is a perfect canvas to play around with, as the options are really limitless!  Some ideas are onions and potatoes, 4 cheese, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil… the list goes on and on! Let me know if you have any amazing combinations to try!  The leftovers taste great the next day–  heated up in the microwave or eaten cold!

Fritatta
Recipe adapted from David Rocco’s Dolce Vita
Serves 4

Beat 6-8 eggs in a bowl with a fork.  Add in whatever chopped veggies and cheese you would like to add.  Add in some salt and pepper and maybe some herbs (I added some Italian seasoning to mine).  Take a large frying pan and heat it over medium heat with about 1 Tbsp of olive oil.  Add in the egg mixture and heat for a couple of minutes.  Once the bottom begins to set, turn down the heat and place a lid over the top.  Cook for a few more minutes, or until the fritatta is set all the way through!  Cut into wedges and enjoy with a green salad!

Enjoy!
XOXO
The Hungry Teacher

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Daring Cooks Challenge: Brunswick Stew

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

So, it’s time for another Daring Cooks challenge.  I have to admit, I wasn’t very excited about this challenge.  I realize that in many parts of North America it’s still wintery, but here, it’s getting pretty springy!  I am ready for light, healthy meals.  But, in the spirit of being challenged, I made this stew for dinner on Sunday night.

Now, as I’ve never been to the South and never heard of Brunswick Stew, I had no idea what it was supposed to taste like!  Apparently, the original recipe calls for rabbit (or even squirrel).  I have never seen rabbit in the supermarket or butcher shop here!  But, we were allowed to substitute other types of meat.  There were two recipes to use… one was long and involved, the other was short and sweet.  I decided to go with the short and sweet variety!

The stew turned out pretty good!  It has so many different kinds of meat in it that there were a lot of different flavours… which I guess is the point!  Basically, I’m not sure that I’d make this again, but it was good to try something new!  By the way, I used all of the ingredients called for, but did not include carrots and substituted frozen green beans for the lima beans.  I also used ground turkey and browned it first, because I had some in the freezer!

Brunswick Stew
Serves 8-10

2 ½ lb TOTAL diced stewed chicken, turkey, and ham, with broth – yes, all three meats
3 medium diced potatoes
2 medium ripe crushed tomatoes
2 medium diced onions
3 cups/ 689.76 grams / 24.228oz frozen corn
1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz frozen lima beans
4-5 strips crumbled bacon
½ stick / 4 tablespoons / ¼ cup / 56.94 grams / 2oz of butter
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz sugar
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz ‘Poultry Seasoning’
Dash of red pepper
2 diced carrots (optional)
Tomato juice

In large stock pot or Dutch Oven, mix all ingredients, heat until bubbly and hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato juice as desired. Cook until all vegetables are tender. Serve hot.

So, if you want to try some Southern food, give it a try!

XOXO,
The Hungry Teacher

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Crispy Garlic Chicken and Sweet Spiced Pecans

Dinner tonight was simple, but so delicious!  We were supposed to have softball, but our game got rained out.

Now, before I get onto dinner,  I simply must share this recipe for granola bars with you.  I have been raving about for a few weeks.  Everyone keeps telling me to blog about it, but Smitten Kitchen did such a good job that there is nothing I would change about it!  These granola bars are far better than store bought and can be made with whatever ingredients you have/want in them!  They are truly delicious, and I can make them peanut free so I can bring them to school.  So, if you want to make AMAZING granola bars, check out this recipe for Thick, Chewy Granola Bars.

So, for dinner, I decided to try this recipe for Crunchy Garlic Chicken from Jamie’s Food Revolution.  There were two main reasons it appealed to me.  1.  Garlic.  2.  It looked quick.  I was not even going to blog about this recipe, but after tasting it, I decided I must!  The breading on this chicken has so much flavour it is incredible!  We had chicken and  a green salad and it was a great, simple week night meal.  I can definitely see this meal becoming a stand-by!  I baked the chicken, but it could also be fried in olive oil in a skillet, 4-5 minutes on each side.

Now, the Sweet Spiced Pecans are from Grazing, by Julie Van Rosendaal.  Oh, my, goodness!  These pecans are to die for!  You must try them.  They add so much to a simple green salad that it is incredible!  They are also amazing as a snack!  I make the full recipe and store the rest in a ziploc baggie in the freezer.  They stay good for as long  as they last (which won’t be very long!), and are amazing sprinkled on a salad.  The recipe calls for fresh rosemary, and I have substituted dry before.  But, I was all out tonight, and the pecans are still really good without it!

Crunchy Garlic Chicken
Serves 2
Recipe adapted from Jamie’s Kitchen

1 clove garlic, peeled
1 lemon, zested
6 crackers (I used Stoned Wheat Thins)
2 Tbsp butter
4 springs of fresh parsley (I didn’t have any, but I used some dried parsley)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heaped Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.  Put the garlic, lemon zest, butter, parsley and some salt and pepper into a food processor.  Whiz until the mixture is very fine and pour onto a plate.  Sprinkle the flour on a second plate.  Crack the egg into a bowl and beat with a fork.  If you want to, you can pound the chicken breasts with a heavy pan, plate or pounder in between some plastic wrap to flatten it.  This helps it to cook more evenly.  Dip the chicken into the flour so both sides are completely coated, then dip into the egg and into the crumbs.  Press the crumbs onto the chicken to make sure it is completely coated.  Place the chicken onto a sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes, until cooked through, golden and crisp.  Serve with a lemon wedge on the side!

Sweet Spiced Pecans
Makes 2 cups
Recipe from Grazing

2 cups pecan halves
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 drops hot sauce
1 Tbsp chopped rosemary
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 300ºF.  Combine everything but the pecans in a medium bowl.  Add the pecans and stir until they are well coated.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until golden.  Let cool, and enjoy!

 Enjoy this quick, healthy meal!
The Hungry Teacher

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Foraging and Risotto

Fresh morels, ready to be used!

My family has a tradition of foraging for morel mushrooms in the spring.  When I was a kid, my parents would force me to go out into the forest in the spring and hunt for these mushrooms.  We had to dodge devil’s club and stinging nettle and stay out for what seemed like hours!  Plus, I never wanted to actually eat the morels, because they looked like something kids don’t want to eat.  But… needless to say, it was a memory.

Now, as an adult, it’s something I’ve been looking forward to doing.  The morels are only up for 2-3 weeks, and I missed going out with my family.  So, last night, after our early family Easter dinner, my dad took my husband and I out. 

It was my husband’s first time going morel hunting, and it was pretty exciting!  The morels hide under fallen leaves and are camouflaged incredibly well.  My family has secret morel picking spots, and you have to know what kind of areas are good to forage in.  My dad told me that I am the fourth generation of our family that has picked morels in the forests around my childhood home.  That’s pretty exciting!

This was the first time that I have actually picked morels with the purpose of cooking something with them.  It’s incredibly gratifying to go walk around in the forest, picking mushrooms, and then use them to create an amazing meal!

I decided to make an Asparagus and Morel Risotto.  I looked online for some ideas, and I ended up adapting one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes to make my risotto.  This is the same base recipe that I used for the Daring Cook’s Challenge last month.  If you would like to try the risotto, but don’t have access to fresh morels, you can substitute other varieties of wild mushrooms as well.

Now, I read up on morels last night, as I don’t really know a lot about them.  Basically, they are a wild mushroom that grows throughout North America, concentrated in southern Canada and the northern US.  They also grow in Europe.  They are ready to be picked in the West (where we are) first, and continue to ripen throughout central and eastern North America during the spring and summer.  They are difficult to cultivate in farms, and so as a result are very expensive to buy.  Now, this may go without saying, but please don’t go out into the forest and forage for mushrooms, unless you are with an expert.  There are many mushrooms that are poisonous, and it’s just not worth the risk!

To clean the morels, I rinsed them in a bowl of cool water, and then I ran them under water to make sure all of the debris and bugs were off of them.  My family always soaks them in salt water, and maybe that would have been a good idea, but I decided not to.   My grandma always sautéed the morels in butter with salt and pepper, and I have some left over that I am planning to saute for dinner tomorrow.

Asparagus and Morel Risotto
Serves 6-8
Recipe adapted from Jamie’s Italy

6 cups chicken stock (you can substitute veggie stock if you prefer)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
a dollop of butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 bunch of thin asparagus, cut into one inch pieces
2 cups morels, cleaned, halved or quartered if large
2 cups risotto (Arborio) rice
2 wineglasses of dry white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 Tbsp. butter
approximately 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the stock.  Put the first amounts olive oil and butter in a separate pan, add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the asparagus and morels.  Stir and cook for a minute.  Add the rice and turn up the heat.

The rice will begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring!  After a minute, it will look slightly translucent.  Add the wine and keep stirring. 

Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add a ladle full of hot stock and some salt.  Turn the rice down to a simmer, so it doesn’t cook too quickly.  Once the stock is absorbed, add another ladle full.  Keep stirring the rice, and waiting until all of the stock is absorbed before adding the next ladle.  After about 15 minutes, check the rice to see if it’s cooked.  If not, keep on adding stock until the rice is cooked.  If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, you can add boiling water in place of the stock.

When the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and add the 5 Tbsp. butter, Parmesan and parsley.  Stir well.  Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes.  Season carefully to taste.   Serve with grated Parmesan to garnish.

 Have fun celebrating Spring!
The Hungry Teacher

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Cinnamon Buns

Oh my blog… how I’ve missed you!  I have been incredibly busy over the past two weeks… our moving day is now only 3 weeks away, so we’ve been busy with all of the decisions that need to be made, plus packing, meetings and softball started!   But, I’ll try to blog when I can!

Cinnamon buns are something I have always loved (who doesn’t, really?).  I like mine without frosting.  I’m not quite sure why… but I feel like it adds too much sweetness to something that is already perfect!  I have been making them for a long time… but they always lack something!  I think it’s that ooey, gooeyness that comes with amazing cinnamon buns.

So, I went to a family friend, who is an awesome cinnamon bun maker, for help.  This lady is amazing!  One time, we went on a road trip and this family came with us.  We picked them up at 7:30 or something pretty early, and she had gotten up to make fresh cinnamon buns for the trip!  Wow!  That’s dedication!  She gave me a tutorial on making cinnamon buns and then sent me home with the recipe.

Her recipe for cinnamon buns is sooooo good!  We had them for lunch… and most of them are now gone, as it is now almost 4:00 in the afternoon and my husband and I have both been home all day!

The sweet dough recipe makes enough for two batches of cinnamon buns.  I froze half of my dough for another time.  When it’s time to use it, I’ll let it thaw overnight in the fridge and then probably bake cinnamon buns with it!

Cinnamon Buns
Recipe from Carol

Basic Sweet Dough

1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 egg, slightly beaten
4-1/2 – 5 cups all purpose flour

Scald the milk.  Pour it into a large bowl.  Add the first amount of sugar, salt and shortening and stir until the shortening melts.  Cool to lukewarm.  Meanwhile, dissolve the second amount of sugar into the water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water.  Let stand for 10 minutes, then stir with a for.  Add to the milk mixture along with the egg.  Stir.  Beat in 2 cups of flour.   Then, gradually beat in the remaining 2-1/2 – 3 cups of flour until the dough is well-formed and coming away from the edges of the bowl.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes.  Shape into a smooth ball and place in a greased bowl, turning dough to grease surface.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour and 15 minutes). 

Cinnamon Buns

1/2 of the basic sweet dough recipe
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar

Roll the punched dough into a 9″x12″ rectangle on a lightly floured surface.  Brush with first amount of melted butter.  Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on the dough.  Roll up tightly like a jelly roll, starting at the longer side.  Cut into 12 one inch slices. 

Combine the second amount of butter and the brown sugar.  Spread in the bottom of an 8″ square pan.  Place the slices, cut side down, in the prepared pan.  Cover and let rise until doubled (about 45 min).  Bake in a preheated 400° F oven for 20 -25 minutes.  Invert at once on a serving plate.

Enjoy!
The Hungry Teacher

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