bits and bites - june 2013

Hi friends!  It's definitely been a while... I guess you could say I've been on a bit of a 'pregnancy hiatus'.  I just didn't seem to have time to do everything that I wanted to over the last few months and, unfortunately, blogging was put on the back-burner.  This week was my first week of maternity leave - I'm about 8 1/2 months pregnant, so we're almost there.  I've been working on getting the house and nursery in order and managed to find a bit of quiet time to relax on the couch with my lap top.

This was taken last month when I was in Victoria

In all honesty, I haven't been doing much in the way of cooking or baking in the last several months (due to lack of energy, ongoing nausea and severe reflux) but I did take a few pictures that I can share along with some recipes.

Sweet Potato Skins

These make great appetizers if you're having friends over for movie/sports-watching or an easy light dinner (just add a quick side-salad).  The left-overs also warmed up nicely for lunch the next day too.  Depending on how many you want to make, slice 1-2 sweet potatoes into 3/4"-1" slices and brush with olive oil on both sides.  Bake at 375 F on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet for about 45 minutes (or until soft all the way through and lightly browned).  While the sweet potatoes are baking fry up a few slices of bacon, drain it on some paper towel then cut it into small pieces.  When the potatoes are cooked, remove them from the oven, sprinkle on some grated cheddar/mozzarella cheese and the bacon bits then put them under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese.  Serve them up with sour cream and finely sliced green onion.  Easy and yummy - I love sweet potatoes.

Pizza is a pretty common dinner in our house.  It doesn't really take that much effort, it tastes great and we're both happy eating the left-overs for a few days.  I don't think I've found *the best ever* dough recipe yet (or baking method - I really want a pizza stone!) but this one is easy and pretty tasty, so I thought I'd share it.  For the pizza in the picture I topped it with tomato sauce, fried Italian sausage, wilted spinach, toasted pine nuts, sliced green olives, provolone and a sprinkle of freshly-grated parmesan cheese - definitely a tasty combo!

Food-Processor Pizza Dough

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 envelope instant yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 1/4 cups room-temperature water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups bread flour (it's best with bread flour, but you can substitute all-purpose if that's all you have)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • olive oil or cooking spray for the bowl

Combine the warm water with the yeast in a measuring cup and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes, until it looks foamy.  Add in the remaining water and olive oil and stir together.  Pulse the flour and salt together in the bowl of the food processor fitted with the dough blade (if you have one).  Allow the food processor to run while you slowly pour the liquid ingredients in through the feed-tube.  Continue mixing until the dough comes together into a ball.  Continue mixing for another 30 seconds, then turn the dough out onto the counter and knead a few times to form it into a smooth ball.  Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow the dough to rise until doubled in sized, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.  Press the air out of the dough, then form your pizzas & top them (I found that it's best to roll out the dough as thin as possible).  I usually bake at 450 F until the bottom looks lightly browned.

This last one is just a photo - I can't find the recipe that I used.  Trevor and I made this cake together for a family dinner.  All I remember is that it involved poaching the pears in a bottle of wine (riesling maybe?) and spices then nestling them into a very thick, pound-cake like, batter.  It looked really pretty when sliced up and had good flavour.

So what else have I been up to?  We sold our first little house and bought a new one (to make room for our expanding family), so things were a bit hectic with packing, moving and getting settled again.  We both love our new home, and I really think it suits us perfectly, but we've decided to do a bit of renovation in the kitchen.  Trev just started tearing tiles off the existing backsplash and we've picked our new stone countertops, so stay tuned for kitchen-reno posts in the future :)

Pizza dough recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated.