Cheddar Jalapeno Sourdough Bagels

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I am turning into a bagel junkie, actually, I think I always have been a bagel junkie since I “discovered” bagels in Grade 7 music class.  I bet you are wondering why our teacher brought in bagels and cream cheese into her music class that day, well, it was because we were studying the soundtrack for the 1970 rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. So what does bagels and cream cheese have to do with a rock opera? I have no idea as bagels originated in Jewish communities in 17th century Poland… but I am certain she had her reasons and I am ever so grateful she introduced her class to chewy, yummy baked bagels!

Since then, bagels have always been a part of my breakfast rotation. I usually just have them on weekends, but today being Wednesday and fresh bagels coming out of the oven this morning, well, who can fault me for diving into a fresh, hot bagel? Especially ones made with cheddar and jalapeño, a seriously awesome combination!

The sourdough bagel recipe I use is under copyright law so I am unable to share it here, but I can tell you which book it came from, “Artisan Sourdough Made Simple” by Emilie Raffa, and the recipe is called “Sunday Morning Bagels”, the link here, which is available from Amazon or from Indigo Books Canada here.

The actual recipe in her book is for plain sourdough bagels as well as additions you can make for cinnamon raisin, pumpkin spice, etc. But she did not have any additions for cheddar jalapeño so I was on my own in that regard for figuring out how much of both to add.

I settled on adding 8 oz of grated, 3 yr old cheddar and 2 large jalapeños that were finely diced.

This recipe calls for making the dough the evening before you are going to bake them as the dough needs to sit out in a cool environment for 12 hours. So I made my dough at 7:30 last night…and it was nicely risen by this morning.

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Next up was to divide the dough and shape into bagels, I get 8 good size bagels out of a batch.

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Next up is to boil them for 30 seconds each side before baking…

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Then they are baked until they are golden and the house smells simply amazing!

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It was really really hard not to dive into one right away, I had to let them cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and popping one into the toaster. Slathered in cream cheese and another 10 minutes later I had a happy tummy.

I highly recommend this book, it is by far the best bagel recipe I have ever tried, and believe me, I have tried oodles off of the internet that just do not measure up to a true, artisan bread chef product! and no, I do not get any compensation for my glowing review of her book, just call me a happy, satisfied bagel baker!

Deborah

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Taco~Refried Bean Casserole

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Leftovers. Some people love them, others not so much! I always like to try to reinvent leftovers into something else. Like when I repurpose old sheets into weaving strips for rag rug weaving. I have always been a big proponent of not wasting anything, especially food.  I don’t like letting them sit in the fridge until whatever becomes a green, fuzzy science experiment.

In the freezer I had some leftover taco beef in one container, and refried beans in another. Instead of reaching for the hard taco shells to make tacos, I thought, what if I transformed these humble, but yummy ingredients into a casserole? The result would be way less messier than if I had tacos, where you try to take a bite of an overstuffed taco and the filling and toppings scatter all over your plate or roll off onto the floor, which would be fine if you had a dog I guess.

So this casserole idea is what I came up with. Pretty easy to put together with ingredients you most likely already have on hand. It’s ok to be creative!

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Ingredients *
Previously prepared ground beef in taco seasoning (I had about 1 cup left)
Refried beans (1 to 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tomato, diced and divided (reserve half for garnish)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (reserve a few sprigs for garnish)
Taco Sauce
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese with jalapeno
3 small soft tortillas

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a small casserole dish with cooking spray, set aside.

Saute onions and peppers in a little olive oil until translucent. Add chopped tomatoes, cilantro and leftover ground taco meat. Mix well.

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Place a few tablespoons of taco sauce on bottom of casserole dish.

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Place one tortilla on top of sauce. Spread beef/vegetable mixture on top of tortilla.

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Place another tortilla on top, spread refried beans over tortilla.

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Top with remaining tortilla. Add another 2 or 3 tablespoons of taco sauce over top, spreading around to edges. Top with shredded cheese.

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3. Bake  (uncovered) at 350°F oven for approximately 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with reserved tomatoes and cilantro.  Serve immediately with sour cream or avocado slices. Makes 2 servings.

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Buen Provecho!

*Measurements are approximate, this recipe is one where you can add as little or as much ingredients as suits you.

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It’s A Green January

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In a corner of the livingroom here at the Homestead sits a folding blue patio table adorned with 3 pots and a small overhead LED light strip.

What are the lights focused on?

Cilantro!

20210106_0937012 pots that are overflowing with bright green leaves and stems that are standing up amazingly well from my daily assault with the scissors since they sprouted over a month ago. I simply cannot go the entire winter without fresh cilantro. Yes, I could buy a sad looking bunch in the grocery store, but they would last a week at most before becoming limp and mushy in the fridge in a glass of water.

There is simply nothing like having fresh herbs around, especially since delicate herbs like cilantro and basil do not lend themselves well to freezing. I tried the ice cube tray trick with both and both were an epic fail.

What is your favourite herb? and how best do you utilize it? For me, Cilantro goes into almost everything, egg dishes, lunches of tuna or salmon/avocado wraps, dinners like pulled pork tacos, soups and stews…the list goes on!

With the global pandemic continuing on through winter, it is imperative that people find new ways to relieve the stress and anxiety of lockdowns and forced displacement from their family members. Take the opportunity to grow a little herb garden in your kitchen, get the kids involved and have them each be responsible for their little pot. Growing plants is a way to brighten up dull, moody days not to mention the health benefits of fresh herbs used in your daily cooking.

My wish is for everyone to get involved in something new, whether it is taking up a new hobby, growing herbs and plants, learning a new language or skill, there are plenty of ways to beat the winter Covid blues.  For me, the ability to grow 2 pots of Cilantro chases away the gray days of January and Covid worries with their brilliant green, happy leaves, which for me, is the best therapy!

Happy Indoor Gardening!

Deborah

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Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Spinach Frittata

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This morning I woke up to the sound of gunshots, don’t worry though, it wasn’t directed at any humans, just the annual Fall duck hunters blasting my duckie buddies out of the water.  It makes me sad, but I know people hunt to put food on the table and I am ok with that aspect, after all, I am a meat eater myself.

So to keep my mind off the hunters, I headed to the kitchen to make a fabulous Sunday brunch frittata.  Yesterday I had cleared out the raised garden beds except for the carrots and came away with a bounty of peppers, tomatoes, chard and spinach, and the spinach was going to be a supporting cast member in this mornings breakfast.

The next 2 must have ingredients are onions and mushrooms…simmering in butter until caramelized and then folded into a luscious egg and cheese mixture, divine I tell you!

Here is today’s recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did this morning!

20201004_072129Ingredients
6 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced white onions
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups baby spinach, roughly torn
1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, add sliced onions and salt and pepper to taste and cook slowly until just starting to caramelize, add mushrooms and thyme, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are browned.

20201004_063102Add spinach and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and spread across the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

20201004_063901In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and salt and pepper. Add the cheeses and stir to combine. Pour the egg mixture over the onion, mushroom and spinach mixture.

Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes until set.

20201004_071226Remove from oven, cut into 4 pieces and serve with a toasted crostini. Enjoy and if you make this, feel free to leave a comment below!

Makes 4 servings

 

 

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Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder

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It has been a very hectic Spring and Summer here at the Homestead, not just the usual busy gardening season (which is now winding down), but we have had a lot of excitement with the construction of a new garage as well as a 3 Season Room addition to the Homestead. Exciting, but also anxiety filled when dealing with a contractor, glad that part is now behind us!  Now that the structures are up and usable it is time to get back to doing what I love, crafting and cooking!

We had a lovely hot, dry summer and the pepper garden exploded with produce as a result.  I have already pickled quite a few jalapenos, chopped and froze gypsy peppers, roasted poblano peppers and new this year is pickling pepperoncini peppers and making my own hot sauce for hubby (more on those two in later posts), but lets jump back a step to the poblano peppers.

Poblanos are my favourite pepper, their flavour is so vastly different from any other pepper, with just a mild tingle of heat.  They are a staple in Mexican cuisine and a staple in my kitchen.

I had 2 corn cobs leftover from the weekend in the fridge and needed to use them up before they got starchy (corn cobs left too long see the natural sugars in the corn turn into starch, then the corn becomes unappetizing and tough) and I had just picked 8 poblano peppers to roast so I thought hmmm…why not make a soup out these two lovely candidates?  Corn goes well with Poblanos so I pulled out some frozen chicken stock from the freezer and got to work.

The result? A savoury and delightful soup packed with great flavour!

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Ingredients

6 Poblano Peppers, roasted, peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped
2 ears of sweet corn, roasted or grilled and kernels cut from the cob
2.5 cups of chicken stock (for a vegetarian option, use veggie stock)
3 Tbsp butter (or Olive Oil)
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/4 chopped cilantro stems (reserve some leaves for garnish)
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp salt (more to taste at the end)
Crema, Crème Fresh, Yogurt or Sour Cream for garnish
Dash of hot sauce (optional)

Directions
In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt butter and sweat onions until soft and translucent (about 7 to 8 minutes). Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.

Add flour and stir to combine. Add chicken stock (or veggie stock if using) and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once at a boil, reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add poblanos, corn, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Remove from heat and using an immersion blender, blitz soup to desired consistency (or use a regular blender, careful transferring soup contents as they will be hot!).

Place soup back on low heat and add the lime juice and adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve with a dollop of crema (or your preferred option listed above), hot sauce and fresh cilantro.

Buen Provecho!

Makes 6 servings

Deborah

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12 Grain Bagel How-To

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Again, necessity is the mother of invention.  I was happily munching away on Costco’s Whole Wheat Bagels when a month ago, they decided to stop selling them. Perhaps I was the only one buying them, but it still irked me that they yanked them from the shelves.

So… I decided to look around the fabulous interweb for either a whole wheat or better yet, a 12 grain recipe and surprisingly there is quite a few available.  I spent one morning a couple weeks ago reading through the top 5 or 6 on the google search, some more detailed than others, some using ingredients that I thought was odd, one even using some sort of sourdough starter that you needed to prep the day before.  I wasn’t willing to spend that much energy on making bagels, one that could be done within a 3 hour time frame would be perfect.

I settled on one from here: http://bonappetitnb.blogspot.com/2012/06/homemade-12-grain-bagels.html but when I made the dough as written, it was crumbly and dry.  There wasn’t near enough moisture to accommodate 4 cups of flour.  I ended up adding some warm water at the end just to get the dough to come together and while the bagels turned out ok, they needed something else.  They were a tad bland overall.

20190416_134337So today I am making a 2nd batch and decided to swap the 1 tbsp of sugar out for 2 tbsp of honey (I know, it may seem like a lot, especially with honey being a lot sweeter than sugar, but I am looking for that honey-whole-wheat taste that I think this will provide) and  I am also bumping up the liquid, 1 cup of milk just didn’t do last time. This time I upped it to a cup and half as well as bumping the butter from a 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup.

The end result? Fabulous! They have texture, are chewy like a bagel is supposed to be (not airy and fluffy like a loaf of white bread) and the taste from the honey and 12 grain flour is enough to satisfy the taste buds.

20190417_060052These really are quite easy to put together, I always viewed bagels as a long, drawn out process akin to the Ukrainian Easter Paska Bread I make and didn’t want to work that hard for a bunch of bagels, but these turned out not as much of a time suck as I thought.

For those wishing to give this a go, below is the recipe, enjoy!

Deborah

12 Grain Bagel Recipe

Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups scalded milk
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 Cup butter (unsalted)
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp instant yeast
3 Cups All-Purpose flour
1 Cup 12 Grain flour

Directions

In a 2 cup measuring cup, scald the milk in the microwave for 2 minutes on high. Remove and add the butter and let it sit to come to room temp (about 20 – 25 minutes). The butter will melt into the milk. Add the honey and whisk to combine.

Place the milk/honey/butter mixture into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast overtop. Let sit for 10 minutes. Whisk in the egg after the yeast has bloomed.

Meanwhile, while yeast is blooming, combine the flours and salt in another bowl and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix together until the dough forms a ball. It will be a tad sticky at this point. On a floured surface, knead the dough (add small amounts of flour a bit at a time) until it is no longer sticky.

20190416_110832Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and place in a warm oven (I turn the oven element on until it just starts to glow, then I turn it off) to proof for an hour.

20190416_122102After proofing, remove dough from bowl onto a floured surface and add just a tich more flour to counteract the oil.  Shape the dough into a long log and cut into 8 pieces.  Roll each piece into a thin log, then shape into a circle and pinch the ends together (use a bit of water if necessary to get it to stay together). Place bagels on a sheet pan lined with parchment and let proof for another 45 minutes to an hour.

20190416_12263520190416_12271720190416_12292720190416_125647Meanwhile, get a large pot of water on a near boiling simmer, just until little bubbles start to form at the bottom of the pot.

When bagels are proofed, add 2 tsp of Baking Soda to the pot of water and place bagels into the pot a few at a time, don’t crowd them as they will begin to puff up quickly.

Cook bagels for one minute on one side, then flip and cook another 2 minutes. Gently remove bagels back to the sheet pan. Careful, if handled too roughly they do tend to deflate.  Also, try and work quickly as time deflates them as well..ask me how I know.

If you want a nice sheen on the bagels, brush a little beaten egg white on the surface of each one before baking. (note – if you want to add decorations, this would be the time to sprinkle on sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc. after brushing with egg white)

Bake bagels in a pre-heated 400°F oven for 15 to 25 minutes depending on their size, until they are a golden brown.

Remove from the sheet pan as soon as they come out of the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Then enjoy with your favourite jam, lox and cream cheese or peanut butter!

 

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Keto Low Carb Tortillas

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Late last year I dabbled in eating in the Ketogenic (Keto) lifestyle.  I achieved both good and bad results over the course of about 4 weeks. I didn’t go hog wild and go total Keto, but enough to make a difference in my weight.  After dropping 7 lbs very quickly (the good), I also sent my cholesterol levels skyrocketing (the bad) and had a shocked family physician who wondered what the heck I did to send my total cholesterol up by 2 points into the danger zone.  The backstory here is that I have a family history of heart disease and I have always had borderline-high cholesterol which I struggle with in keeping it at the mid-range level.  My main culprits are eggs and cheese, which I ADORE, but alas, they are an enemy to my cardiovascular system.

So, after surprising the heck out of my doctor, I pulled back on the Keto foods (it was approaching Xmas and tropical holidays anyway) and went back to my daily oatmeal and severely limiting my cheese and banishing the eggs. Tough to do, but in the interest of my health, it was what I had to do.

Fast forward to this week, back from sunny south holidays and other obligations and I can get back to concentrating on getting myself healthier.  I already exercise daily, but I would prefer to have my diet help burn fat instead of spending over an hour in the gym each day. So I have spent considerable time cruising websites, blogs and listening to podcasts on Keto including looking over hundreds of recipes that are available at the click of a mouse.

Most Keto recipes are egg and cheese heavy, my apparent nemesis, so trying to figure out what else I could eat that wouldn’t send my cholesterol numbers through the roof again was going to be tough.  I came across a website featuring oodles of recipes (www.lowcarbyum.com) featuring low-carb options and some egg free options as well, but what really caught my eye was a recipe for Almond Flour Tortillas that were egg free and I just had to try them (helloo… the Mexican food goddess here remember?).

Now her recipe calls for whole psyllium husks to be ground up as this is the binder agent to replace eggs.  Not wanting to go out and get a whole whack of different ingredients, I already had an egg replacement in the fridge in the form of ground flax seed.  I use it daily in my oatmeal and have been known to add it to baked goods as well to boost the nutrition.  Ground flax becomes a binding agent when mixed with boiling water.  So that is what I ended up doing, as well as adjusting the total water amount called for to get a nice pliable dough.

Now that all this backstory stuff is done, let’s get on with the recipe!

20190207_113510Low-Carb Almond Flour Tortillas

Ingredients

1/4 Cup ground flax seed
6 Tbsp hot (boiling) water
1 Cup almond flour (I used ground almonds with the outer skins)
2 Tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp avocado oil
2 Tbsp hot water (or more to achieve desired consistency)

Directions

- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ground flax with the 6 Tbsp of boiling water; mix well and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients except the extra water and stir to combine. If dough seems dry, add extra hot water by the spoonful, mixing after each one until you get a nice, soft, flexible dough.
- Heat an electric griddle to 350F or heat a frying pan over med-high heat
- Divide dough into 6 pieces and roll into a ball in your hands, using a tortilla press*, press the tortilla as thin as possible. * If you do not have a tortilla press, use a glass pie plate and press the dough between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.

20190207_08515420190207_085319 20190207_085235- Place tortillas on griddle/frying pan and cook until browned on one side, flip and cook on the other side until browned, anywhere from 4-5 minutes per side.

20190207_085955- ** IMPORTANT ** Remove from heat and wrap in a tea towel, then place in a ziploc bag and place in the fridge for 24 hours. If you try to use them right away, they will crumble, but placing them in the fridge to rest ensures they will be nice and pliable the next day so make sure to make these the day before you need them.

These turned out really good. Not at all like cardboard although I do need to try and press them thinner as these puffed up a bit while on the griddle. Next batch I will add some seasonings to the dough…shall I go spicy? or savoury? Either way they will be good!

Makes 6 x 4″ tortillas (if you want larger tortillas, divide dough into 4 balls)

Nutrition per tortilla:
Total Calories: 22.7
Total Cholesterol: 0 grams
Fiber: .53 grams
Sugar: .29 grams
Carbs: 1.44 grams
Fat: 1.51 grams
Sodium: 18 mg
Protein: .96 grams

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Chunky Roasted Butternut Squash and Root Veggie Soup

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Sometimes I like to have an adult version of butternut squash soup.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the pureed version, but there are times when a chunky version fits the “chilly Fall day” without feeling like you are eating baby food.

This recipe came about like most of the ones I do…..I look in the fridge and see all the leftovers and “not-enough-ofs” and go from there. Today, October 9th, in Northern Ontario, Mother Nature decided to jack up the temperature,  just for fun I guess after a solid week of cold, blustery, rainy weather.  It ended up being 75F (24C) and very humid, but the day didn’t start out like that so at 6 am in the morning I roasted a butternut squash until soft, golden and filling the house with its delicious nutty aroma and left it to cool while I did some outdoor chores.

12 hours later and starving, I pulled out 3 leftover parsnips from the fridge, the last of the carrots I yanked from the garden today and the remaining equation to the culinary trio, some celery and onions. After dicing my way through the veggies to some very lively Spanish guitar music, soon the holy trinity et al were being sautéed to a golden brown. I then added the chunks of squash, freshly made chicken stock (thank you sweet son-in-law for leaving me with the cherished poultry carcasses last weekend), along with some just picked garden thyme and voila, after a 30 minute simmer…delicioso!!!!

For those needing structure, the recipe is below in its entirety,  but oh man, was it fabulous with toasted whole grain bread and a sprinkle of parmesan I think it is my new favourite soup!

Provecho!
Deborah

Chunky Roasted Butternut Squash & Root Veggie Soup

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Ingredients
1 Medium Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes*
3 Parsnips, peeled and finely chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large rib of Celery, diced
1/2 Red Onion, diced
2 small cloves of Garlic, mashed
5 Cups Home-Made Chicken Stock (use Veggie stock for a vegetarian option)
Fresh Ground Black Pepper & Sea Salt to taste
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme leaves
Olive Oil

Directions

* Toss cubed squash lightly with Olive Oil and Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in a 400F degree oven for about 30 minutes or until browned all over and tender inside (stir often), set aside and let cool.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, add 2 to 3 Tbsp of Olive Oil and add the onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, garlic and thyme leaves.  Cook, stirring often for about 10 to 15 minutes until veggies are soft.

Add butternut squash and mix gently.  Add stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Adjust seasonings just before serving.

Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan and toasted, crusty bread for dipping.

Makes about 6 Cups.

 

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Mushroom and Spinach White Pizza

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I am all about pizza.  Pretty much any kind put in front of me will get eaten as long as there are no anchovies present.  Surveying the fridge yesterday (day prior to grocery shopping), it looked like it was time to use up an abundance of mushrooms and garden spinach so I sat down in the early afternoon and googled “mushroom and spinach recipes” and as you can imagine, oodles came up in all different cuisines.

Since I wasn’t in the mood for Mexican (shocking, I know) and there was some ricotta cheese to be used up as well, I modified the search engine to add “ricotta”.  The results pulled up a myriad of lasagna recipes, but I also came across several recipes for pizza using those ingredients.

I scanned through 3 different pizza recipes, pulling ingredients from each and combining them into one amazing slab of yumminess.  Of which now I will share with the masses as I am all about sharing recipes, spread the flavor is my motto. Scroll down for the recipe!

Enjoy with a cold beer or a glass of white wine. Salud!

Deborah

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Ingredients

1 ready made pizza dough for one large pizza (or make from scratch my half whole wheat/half A/P flour recipe here: http://www.ournorthernhomestead.com/how-to-make-your-own-pizza-doughand-make-it-healthier-too/)
1/4 cup good quality Olive Oil
1 Cup Ricotta Cheese, drained*
2 Tbsp chopped fresh Basil leaves
1/2 tsp fresh Thyme leaves
1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Ground Black Pepper to taste
1 1/2 Cups thinly sliced Mushrooms
1 Cup torn baby Spinach leaves
3/4 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (or Monterey Jack)
1 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Directions

*Drain Ricotta Cheese in a cheesecloth hung over a bowl for at least a couple hours, discard liquid

Preheat Oven to 450F and prepare a large pizza pan (or 2 small) lined with parchment paper or use a pizza stone if you have one (placing pizza stone in oven during preheat).

In a small saucepan, add Olive Oil, Basil, Thyme, Red Pepper Flakes and Granulated Garlic. Heat over medium-low heat for 5 minutes to warm through. Remove from heat and add Ricotta Cheese; mix well and set aside.

Roll pizza dough out to fit pan(s) and prick dough lightly with a fork.

Spread Olive Oil/Ricotta mixture evenly over the dough, getting close to the outer edges.

Sprinkle Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste over the mixture and top with the spinach first, followed by the mushrooms.

Top with the grated Mozz or Monterey Jack Cheese and Parmesan.

Bake in the preheated oven for approx. 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your dough until the pizza is golden on the edges.  **Turn oven OFF and turn broiler ON and broil until cheeses on top are golden and bubbly.

Remove from oven, slice and serve!

Makes 1 Large Pizza or 2 Small Pizzas.

 

 

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Oklahoma City Fun!

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I had the opportunity to travel this past weekend to Oklahoma City for 4 days.  Hubby is working a contract job there for a month so to break up his “30 day sentence”, we made arrangements for me to fly down and spend our 38th wedding anniversary together exploring some of the fun and exciting tourist attractions that are available in this large Midwestern city

I was able to glean some information from an Internet pal Amy in Pittsburgh who has frequented OKC on numerous occasions and she gave us brilliant suggestions on places to visit as well as which restaurants to try.  She did not disappoint!

Our first stop was the Myriad Botanical Gardens located downtown, right across the street from the Devon skyscraper.

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The 17 acre gardens are gorgeous and the crown jewel is the ‘Crystal  Bridge’ which is a behemoth of a greenhouse filled with tropical plants from around the world.

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The flora on display is stunning, from teeny violets tucked into crevices to towering palm trees and everything in between.

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A gorgeous Blue Agave plant…Tequila anyone?

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Anyone who loves botanical gardens, definitely put this stop on your to see list. You will not be disappointed.  I could have posted more pictures, but then this post would turn into a novel.

After spending a couple hours strolling the grounds and tropical building (and working up a great thirst!), we went to a fabulous Mexican restaurant touted by Amy as the best Mexican food in Oklahoma City, the Iguana Mexican Grill.

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It is a tiny place, packed with friendly servers, cold beer and mouthwatering food!

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Hubs tried the fish tacos and I had the Yucatan Style Roasted Pork, which was achiote and orange roasted pork cooked in banana leaf and served with soft flour tortillas, cilantro and pickled onions.

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Devine! I chose the pinto beans and red chile rice to accompany the roast pork and was seriously stuffed at the end.  I highly recommend this restaurant if you are ever in OKC and you love Mexican food just as much as I do.

Our next tourist destination was the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. I am sure some of you have seen their flagship carving called “The end of the Trail”, a stunning sculpture soaring some 25 feet (at least!) In the air.  The scale of which is hard to depict in photographs. This sculpture signifies a native American and his horse, both weary in body and spirit at the end of their journey.  Sculpted my American artist James Earle Fraser, it is truly a treasured national sculpture.

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There were so many art galleries to meander through, featuring artists from America, Europe and Native North  Americans depicting western life from the early 1800s to the present.  All types of medium were used, whether they were cast sculptures, ink and pen on paper,  oil on canvas, watercolours, tempura and many more. I loved this first one below titled “The Flying Mare”.

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If you love western history and art, make sure you mark this museum down on your bucket list.

They also have a full sized scale of an early western frontier town complete with sheriff’s office and jail,  bank, mercantile shop, saddlery,  saloon and livery stables.  All full of original pieces of furniture,  tack, wagons and full sized replica horses saddled and ready to go.  I was expecting John Wayne to come out of the Saloon at any moment, it was such a fun way to experience a frontier town up close and personal.

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After leaving the Frontier town exhibit, we wandered for over an hour through a maze of of rooms highlighting native and western clothing, saddlery, guns, Chuck wagons,  rodeos and even a room filled with over 1300 samples of barbed wire held in vertical drawers you could pull out and examine. Seriously,  I never knew barbed wire came in so many styles!

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There were a couple of rooms devoted to the film industry of the old West as well.   Featuring actually clothing and props from Western movie stars like John Wayne, Roy Rogers, John Ford and many others.

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There was also a display of Army Cavalry clothing,  guns, horse tack and static displays of enlisted life in the 1800s.  Like the Smithsonian Museum of American History in DC, it has artifacts frozen in time for generations in the future to see and experience.

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Not to be outdone there is a massive display of saddles and tack from not just North America, but early saddles from Spain, Europe and Mexico as well as the saddles made by Native Americans.

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To see the form and function and how they evolved over a century is truly a history lesson I loved to learn.  How they made these items with the limited tools and materials they had available is awe inspiring.

With my limited time in OKC,  these were the 2 main attractions I wanted to see, but there is also the memorial to the OKC bombing of 1995 as well as the OKC Zoo and Botanical Garden which are great places of interest that I would have loved to see if I had more time.

I managed to squeeze out 2 stops at local yarn shops, which of course, I just had to make sure was on the to do list.  The first stop was Yarnatopia and Mustang Creek Alpaca Company.

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I happily contributed to the coffers of both, splurging on yarns not available back in my neck of the woods.  I also managed to fit in Hobby Lobby and a quick trip to JoAnns for sewing patterns as they are significantly cheaper in the U.S., even with the exchange rate.

All in all a fabulous albeit a short visit to spend time with hubby and see the sights Of Oklahoma City. Soon it was time to get back on the plane (not without a cold beer and an awesome grilled vegetable flatbread for dinner)

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and say adios to midwest life and head back north to Canada and my home.

Deborah

 

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