Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Pancakes and a Lesson on Cooking For One

This past weekend I spent the entire weekend alone. It was the first time in a while that I had to think about how to spend all of my free time and what I was going to cook each day for just one person.

Growing up in a family of five, we almost never had to think about how to cook for just one or two since more often than not we were cooking for 10 to ensure there were leftovers. When I started to date Maeghan, and later moved in with her, learning how and what to cook for two was one of my biggest hurdles. After a few months, cooking for just the two of our little tummies became the norm. But cooking for one? Who even has the motivation to cook for one let a lone a stack of recipes for just one serving?

Refusing to order-in or cave and eat a bowl of cereal for every meal, I set out make myself something to eat for Friday night dinner. I whipped up what I thought was going to be a small helping of vegetable fried rice. You can imagine my reaction when I ended up cooking more than I would have if I was aiming to cook for two...I think there was enough to feed about 6 big eaters.

Saturday morning I slept in and when I woke up I had a craving for pancakes. For the second time I set out hoping to make just a few pancakes for just one person, and low and behold I was left with a giant stack of pancakes and no one to share them with. Don't worry, over the next couple of days I ended up polishing off every last one of those pancakes, and since they were so good I'll share the recipe with all of you!

But before the recipe I'll give you my thoughts on cooking for one... it's just not possible.

Raspberry (or any berry/fruit/chocolate) Pancakes

You will need:
- 1 and a 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 and 1/4 cups of milk
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons of melted butter
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla 
- optional additions such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, chocolate chips, etc. 

- Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
- Slowly add the milk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla to the dry ingredients and whisk together until all of the ingredients are well combined and have created a smooth (lump-free) batter. 
- Add your berries or chocolate and mix well into the batter.
- Heat your skillet or pan over medium heat. Once heated, add a small amount of butter or cooking oil to the pan. 
- Pour your desired amount of batter (about 1/4 of a cup) into the pan in little circles. Flip the pancakes once little bubbles begin to form and pop throughout the batter. 
- Stack, cover in syrup or any other toppings, and enjoy! 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Could making pizza "from scratch" be any simpler?

Each time I think to myself, "I deserve pizza tonight", instead of narrowing down which pizzeria I want to order from, I open up my pantry to ensure I have flour and a can of tomatoes and then move on to the check the fridge to assess my cheese and assorted veggies supply. With those few ingredients, and a shockingly small amount of time, I can make my own pizza from scratch for a fraction of the cost of a pizza from a pizzeria.

Along with being an equally tasty yet inexpensive alternative to pizza from a pizza place,  you can be as creative as you like when you make your own pizza and use up whatever ingredients you have on hand as toppings! This time we went totally vegetarian, however, the time before we had some leftover sausages that we BBQ'd the day before so I cut those up and tossed them on.

I'll share with you my sauce recipe as well as my yeast-less, no-rise dough recipe, but if you're crunched for time or feeling especially lazy, a store bought sauce would work just fine!

You will need:
- 1 can (28 oz) of tomatoes (I find whole taste the most fresh...if you can even say that about canned tomatoes, however, if you don't have an immersion blender crushed will work just fine)
- 3 cloves of freshly grated garlic
- 1/4 cup of finely chopped onions
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

1. If you're using whole or diced tomatoes, blend them until slightly chunky using an immersion blender.
2. In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil, onion, garlic, and spices over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes to the pan, mixing all of the ingredients together. Turn the heat down to low and allow the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Yeast-Less No-Rise Dough
You will need:
- 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon banking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/4 cup of melted butter

1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Slowly add the milk and melted butter, mixing with a dough hook or by hand until the ingredients create a ball.
2. Sprinkle flour onto your rolling surface and rolling pin. Roll out the dough to about a 1/4 of an inch thick.

Putting it all together:
- On a pizza stone/pan or a cookie sheet, lay out your freshly rolled dough. Cover the dough with your desired amount of sauce.
- Toss on your toppings of choice (we usually go with mushrooms, onions, peppers, sliced tomatoes, spinach and possibly some kind of meat)
- Cover with cheese! Of course mozzarella is the most popular pizza cheese, but we usually use marble since that's what we always have kicking around.
- Bake at 450F for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Enjoy!