Monthly Archives: June 2012

Flatbread Pizza a la American Flatbread

I’ve been embracing my inner DIY’er lately. My current unemployment status means I’ve had plenty of time to complete projects that have been on the to-do list for a while, go on long runs and read for pleasure… gotta find the positives right? Between a little bit of graduation money, prize money from an award I got right before graduation and my refunded college deposit check, I’ve got enough money to make it through the next couple months… which takes the pressure off for a little bit.

One of my projects was to give a little TLC and some new cushions to 4 kitchen chairs. These chairs are special… They used to provide seating at Flat Street Brew Pub, Mark’s Dad’s restaurant. Hurricane Irene brought tons of silty water into their basement dining room. They were able to reopen their upstairs bar area, but the basement has remained closed. These chairs were beautiful and in need of a loving home… so love them I did. I gave them 3 good scrubbings to get the silt off, I sanded down the rough areas and touched them up with a bit of black semi-gloss. Mark cut the plywood bases for the cushions and I attached batting and stapled on some beautiful teal canvas. They came out beautifully and for only $15 a chair!  And we get to have a little piece of Flat Street up here with us!

We also painted our bedroom this weekend! When we moved in, there was some pretty awful wallpaper and our landlord was more than willing to let us take it down. After all, we were doing him a favor. So, I decided to tackle removing the wallpaper while Mark was at work last week. He came home while I was working on the last wall. His jaw dropped when he walked in the room. “surprise” I yelled “look what I did!” I felt kind of like a three year old who had just colored on the walls, as I stood shin deep in strips of pink floral wall paper. Luckily, he wasn’t mad; I had done a good job!

We chose “wisdom”, an off-white with hints of green and blue. After 2 coats this weekend, it looks great!

On Saturday, we met our friend, Rachel, in Burlington for a walk along the lake and a drink at American Flatbread. After salivating over the specials board, we had to convince ourselves out of staying for dinner. I did, after all, have a large ball of whole wheat pizza dough sitting in the fridge. When we got home, I whipped up a massive pizza topped with local feta cheese and tons of veggies from the farmers market and cooked it up on the grill.

Things you should know about pizza

1. Grilled pizza is delicious… it is like the brick oven pizza from home, thin and crispy

2. Pizzas should be piled sky high with veggies

3. Using a small amount of a strong flavored cheese is way better than mounding on loads of cheap mozzarella. It’s less calorie-laden and way more flavorful in the long run

 4. If you make your crust thin, load it up with lots of veggies and only a little bit of cheese, you can justify eating multiple slices without feeling  guilty

Flatbread Pizza a la American Flatbread

makes 1 square pizza, roughly 10×14″

1 ball of pre-made whole wheat pizza dough

1 squash, cut into ¼” rounds

4-6 cups spinach, roughly chopped

1 red pepper cut into ¼” strips

1 Vidalia onion cut into ¼” slices and separated into rings

10 button or baby portabella mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced 1/4″ thick

Black pepper

1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, divided

2 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons of your favorite Italian dressing

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided

Few dashes of dried garlic

½ cup of your favorite tomato sauce

1 cup of frozen corn

2 oz of fresh feta cheese

First preheat your grill to a medium heat. While the grill heats up, work the pizza dough until it is about ¼-1/2 inch thick and resembles the shape of a pizza. This is tricky, I like to use my fist, pulling the dough gently. I shaped mine into a square so it would fit on the grill. Place the dough on the grill and grill about 2-4 mins, until it has light brown lines on the underside. Flip (I used 2 spatulas), and grill lightly on the underside. (Don’t grill the second side as much as much as the top because the pizza ends up on the grill again later)

While the dough grills, chop the veggies and put them (minus the spinach and corn) in a zip top bag with the dressing, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, garlic powder and black pepper. Close the top and shake to coat the veggies.

Once the crust is done, remove it and place it on a cookie sheet. Place the veggies on the grill and grill 5-7 mins on each side. While the veggies grill, spread a thin layer of sauces onto the crust leaving a 1″ boarder around the edge free of sauce. Then arrange the spinach, feta and frozen corn on top of the sauce. Sprinkle on the remaining Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. When the veggies are cooked, arrange those on top of the pizza, I placed the pizza on the cookie sheet on the side of the grill and transferred the veggies with a pair of tongs. Then place the pizza (sans cookie sheet) on the grill for another 2 minutes so the crust can reheat and the cheese can get melty. Transfer the pizza back to the cookie sheet, slice up and enjoy!

Next kitchen investment… a pizza cutter!

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Coconut Banana Muffins with Millet

My mom visited this weekend. We did a lot of walking and a bit of biking too. I went for a quick 3 mile run on Saturday morning. Then when my mom got here, we went for a 4 mile walk along the lake. We hopped on the bus downtown to grab dinner. Then I took her to the lake front park, and we got ice cream… (My first of many this summer, I’m sure) Then we walked back to my apartment, bringing my total miles ran/walked up to around 10 miles. On Sunday morning, we rode our bikes along the lake to get breakfast at Magnolia’s, a super cute little place in downtown Burlington… I got 2 eggs over easy with veggie hash and rye toast.

Then we rode back, roughly a 5 mile ride overall. Then we went shopping for some big girl clothes for a couple of interviews I had lined up this week. After our 1 1/2 hr. shopping marathon, we were both mentally exhausted… we both hate shopping (I know, it’s weird). We headed over to Shelburne Farms for a 4.5 mile walk all through the farm. Then we stopped and got ice cream #2 of the weekend. Sadly after that, it was time for my mom to head home. I’m super glad she got to see our new apartment and that we got to spend time together.

Since we moved to Burlington, we’ve been trying to cut back on our spending. That means lots of coupons and smart shopping lists. This week, millet was on sale for $1.09/lb… so we stocked up on the grain. And I’ve been incorporating the little pearls into a lot of dishes this week. I also picked up some coconut spread, something I’ve wanted to try for ages. And with it on sale and a $2.50 off coupon, it only cost $1.50 vs. its usual $6, so I could justify the investment. What could I make with coconut spread and millet… insert 3 over ripe bananas (this heat wave made them ripen faster than I could eat them)… And coconut banana muffins with millet were born. I took my classic banana bread recipe and made a few switch-a-roos with great success!

Banana Bread

Makes about 14 muffins, or 12 really big ones. I made 12 muffins and a small loaf. Or it makes one large loaf

Scant 2 cups of whole wheat flour

¼ cup of uncooked millet

1 rounded teaspoon of baking powder

Dash of salt

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup coconut spread, softened

2 large eggs, or ½ cup of egg substitute

1 1/2 cups mashed, ripe banana (about 3 bananas)

1/3 cup plain greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup of flaked coconut (optional)

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease or spray a 8 ½ X 4 ½ inch loaf pan, or line 14 spaces in a muffin tin with liners.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, don’t fill them quite to the top. Combine the flour, millet, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar and coconut spread in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each one. Add the banana, yogurt, coconut, and vanilla; beat until blended. I just mash the bananas with my fingers. Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients; beat at low speed just until moist. It’s best to add the flour in batches so it doesn’t go everywhere. Spoon the mixed batter into the greased pan or muffin tin. If making a large loaf, bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. If making muffins, bake at 350° for 20-22 mins. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack (if you can wait that long).

I served mine with some organic peanut butter! The millet gives the muffins a nice little crunch!

Also, shout out to my brother, Harry, for graduating high school! Now he’s off to UNCW to become a marine biologist! (love of preserving water quality runs in the family, I guess)

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Drunken Grilled Veggies

So, I am beyond excited! My plant boxes on the porch are thriving. They soak up 8 hours of sun a day and as a result my basil has sprouted and I have my first pepper… a hot cherry! There are almost 2 dozen buds on my varying pepper plants, and almost a dozen on my tomato plant! The chives are growing like weeds and a few onion shoots have popped up! YAY!

I also went to the Shelburne Farmer’s Market today, way more reasonably priced than the Burlington Farmers Market and it has much more of a hometown feel. I picked up some spinach and rainbow chard. I can’t wait to use the chard, it is gorgeous.

My mom is coming to visit for the weekend and should be here soon, so I’ll keep this post short. I’ve got a lot planned for us… a walk around Shelburne Farms, dinner in town, and a 12 mile bike ride along the lake tomorrow. I’m so excited for her to come up and see our new home.

Grilled veggies are a staple in our diet, especially durring the summer. I have a pretty standard marinade but I switched it up the other night. Mark was impressed, “these are really good, did you put wine on them?” Yes, I did, I put a splash of a dry Chardonnay for a new twist on an old classic. The best were the mushrooms, they soaked up a lot of the wine, and therefore, flavor.

Drunken Grilled Veggies

1/2 bunch of asparagus, woody ends broken off

1/2 a bell pepper, sliced thinly,

1/2 and onion, sliced into thin rings

1 zucchini, sliced into ¼” rounds

10 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and cut in half or in thirds depending on the size

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1/4 cup of dry white wine, such as Chardonnay

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning

Few dashes of garlic powder

Lots of black pepper

Preheat the grill to medium heat. Place all the ingredients in a zip top bag and shake to coat. Place them on the grill. Let them get crispy and a little charred before you give them a flip. 5-8 minutes on each side, depending on how done you want them. Just give them a check every once in a while. Once they are done to your liking, plate ’em up and enjoy.

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Pinto Bean, Peppers and Corn Burgers

On Saturday we went to the Burlington Farmer’s Market, though it was rather impressive, we’re sure not in Geneva anymore. With $20 in Geneva, I could get our produce for the week, now $20 barely buys the ingredients for a simple salad. I’m going to scope out some other not-so-central farmers markets in the future. Saturday night, we headed down to the Lake Front Park to watch the sunset and listen to an outdoor Jazz concert, for free.

On Sunday, we hiked Mount Mansfield, a 6.6 mile hike with awesome views. And it’s the tallest Mountain in Vermont!

And it was VT Day so parking was free! On the way home we stopped to pick our own strawberries, which saved us $3 by doing it ourselves. When we got home, we walked down to the lake for a swim. Then, Mark made Pad Thai (maybe one day he’ll share the secrets). We capped off the night by watching Gasland, it was highly informative and utterly depressing. Good thing Vermont has banned hydrofracking.

Not too shabby of a weekend. This week, I’ve been logging a fair amount of miles (Monday: 5.5, Tuesday: 7, Wednesday: 4.75, and hopefully 6 today) and doing a lot of reflecting.

So, I’ve tried to make my own veggie burgers before, and I’m not a huge proponent of using fillers like rice or flour to hold them together. I think that they should be mostly veggies, as their name states. Needless to say my last few attempts have been pretty mushy and not really blog worthy. This recipe uses a little less than a quarter cup of corn meal to bind it all together and it’s chocked full of spices and flavor. Not to mention, gluten free. I’m going to fiddle around with the recipe to see if I can crisp them up a little more, possibly broiling them in the oven. I served them with my Tex-Mex Salad with Chipotle Crema and Couscous Cakes (quinoa cakes, but with couscous)

Pinto Bean, peppers and Corn Burgers

Makes 4 Burgers

1 1/2 cups of pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoon of olive oil, divided

1/2 an onion, diced

1/2 a red bell pepper or a poblano pepper, diced

1 cup of frozen corn

1 cayenne pepper, minced, I used a dry one that I re-hydrated in warm water

1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

1/2 teaspoon of oregano

1 clove of garlic, minced

Scant 1/4 cup of corn meal

Lots of black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While the oil warms, in a medium size bowl mash the pinto beans until about 75% of the beans are completely mashed. Add in the onions into the skillet and sauté for 3 minutes, then add in the bell pepper and sauté for another 4 minutes, then add in the cayenne pepper and garlic and sauté for another minute. Then add in the corn and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add in the cayenne pepper powder, cumin, oregano, and black pepper and stir to incorporate. Add the onions and peppers into the pinto beans then add in the corn meal and mix everything together. Wipe out the skillet and add in the other tablespoon of oil. Return the heat to medium.

Divided the  pinto bean mixture into four equal portions and form the patties. Place in the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown then flip the burger and brown the other side, about 4 minutes. Once golden on both sides, remove from the pan. The Chipotle Crema dressing makes a great dipping sauce.

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Grilled Sweet Potato “Fries”

We’re finally settled into our new apartment. Aside from some curtains on order and reupholstering our “new” kitchen chairs, which were rescued from Irene flooding,  we pretty much have everything the way we want it. I guess moving is always a big ordeal. We had to get new curtains for our 100 inch tall windows. I’m excited about all of the light but not about the cost of really, really long curtains. I love our new kitchen, it was redone right before we moved in.

We got our grill a cover so now we can keep it outside like a “real” grill. We’ve been grilling up a storm and eating out on our porch, which came with a patio table and chairs. I planted 6 different kinds of hot peppers, sweet basil, chives and scallions in window boxes on our porch and got us a tomato plant. I can’t wait until everything starts growing.

We joined the co-op and the library. At the co-op you can grind your own peanut butter… I might be obsessed.

We’ve also been running along the bike path along the lake. We’ve done 4 miles every day since we moved in… not too shabby. Now all I need to do is get a job.

This recipe is insanely easy and delicious

Grilled Sweet Potato Fries 

1 sweet potato, washed, sliced into 1/4″ rounds

1 tablespoon of olive oil

black pepper

cinnamon, few dashed

dash of nutmeg

1 teaspoon of maple syrup, optional

Slice up the potato and put the rounds in a gallon size zip top bag with the remaining ingredients. Shake to coat. Place on grill over medium heat. Grill about 5-8 minutes on each side, until crispy and golden. Or if you’re like me, grill them til they get a little char.

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Tex-Mex Salad with Chipotle Crema Dressing

After spending a week in the land of no cell phones or computers, the North Woods of Maine, I think a post is very overdue.

Mark and I headed up to his cabin in Maine for 7 days of hiking, running, kayaking, and just plain relaxing. The cabin, aka Red Camp, an hour from the nearest town, is right on a lake. In its rustic charm, it lacks electricity and running water. Everything, the fridge, lights, stove, runs on propane. We hiked the tops of 3 different mountains, went on 3 long runs, one kayak trip through some big waves and had 5 moose sightings.

Almost every night, we grilled outside over an open flame and passed the dark hours playing board games. Over the fire, I made traditional grill food 3 nights, chili and corn bread, avocado lime rice, and tacos.

Then we headed to Mark’s house for one night before we moved into our new apartment in Burlington, VT. That’s right; we are now Vermonters, living in a restored Victorian from the 1800’s… classy, right. So we’ve been spending the last few days getting settled in.

I made this simple salad and dressing the night before the big move. (More to come on our new apartment soon). The dressing is a Mexican “crema”. Traditionally, crema is a product similar to sour cream, with less tang and more milk fat. However, I swapped in fat free Greek yogurt for the same effect and flavor but with less fat. Adjust the chipotle peppers to your desired spice level

Tex-Mex Salad with Chipotle Crema Dressing

Dressing

3 0z plain, fat free Greek yogurt

1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced very fine, it will become almost like a wet paste.

1-3 teaspoons of adobo sauce

1-3 teaspoons of water, to thin the dressing out to desired consistence, it will vary depending on the water content in your yogurt.

black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl

Salad, makes 2

4 cups of spinach

1 ear of corn, cut off the cob, we grilled ours because Mark was making sausage on the grill, or you can boil it or use frozen corn, but I like the flavor and char the corn gets from the grill

1/3 cup of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tomato chopped

1/2 an avocado, diced

Divided all ingredients evenly between 2 plates. Top with desired amount of crema dressing.

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