Pizza with Spinach and Sun Dried Tomatoes

THIN CRUST SPINACH & SUN DRIED TOMATOES PIZZA has become a staple in our home. Guilt-free pizza with only 1 g of carbs per slice. Lots of protein and full of flavor!
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INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 large clove of Garlic (Minced)
1 Prepared Thin Pizza Crust (12 Inch )
5 ounces of Spinach (Fresh and organic)
1/4 cup of Sun Dried Tomatoes (Re-hydrated ), cut in thin strips
4 ounces crumbled Feta Cheese
Ground Black Pepper (To Taste)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Heat oven to 450 degrees and place pizza pan pan or stone in the oven to heat.  Use the middle rack. Steam sun dried tomatoes to hydrate. They should be ready after you have built the rest of the pizza.
  2. Heat Oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook on low for 1 minute (do not brown)
  3. Add spinach and season with pepper. Cover and cook stirring once – just until spinach is wilted.
  4. Top pizza crust with spinach and pan juices. Sprinkle on sun dried tomatoes and cheese
  5. Make a circle from your parchment and place the pizza and parchment on your hot pizza pan or pizza stone. Bake in  preheated oven ( 450 Degrees oven )  for 8-10 minutes



SUN DRIED TOMATOES
Trending sun dried tomatoes! How do I sun dry my own tomatoes – in the oven? please click here. My home made sun dried tomatoes not only have a dollar savings but it does not include any preservatives and is only handled by myself. Note: You do not need to add herbs when drying your tomatoes.

This is part of our theme on PLANT BASED DIETS. Lots of flavour and healthy goodness. I hope you enjoy our pizza.
BON APPETITE!
Some kids don’t like garlic. This can be omitted as you know.

Bread Pudding Soufflé

Bread pudding has been around since the 11th century. The first time I had Bread Pudding Soufflé  was at the famous Commanders Palace in New Orleans.

Bread Making With Fire Ovens During the sequestered days, people were busy baking bread; myself included.  When I found a loaf of bread hiding in the bar frig, bread pudding came to mind.  Re-purpose stale egg bread like brioche, challah or Finnish pulla,  Italian, French or sour dough bread work well. I would file this under COMFORT FOOD!

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INGREDIENTS
Unsalted butter, for pan and ramekins
1/4  cup of sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
3 large free range whole eggs
1 cup  whole milk ( 3% – 15% )
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. of salt
5 cups day-old white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
Meringue: 6-9 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
Whiskey – Custard Sauce, (recipe below)

INSTRUCTIONS
STEP 1 Bread Pudding
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan; set aside. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Beat in whole eggs until smooth; whisk in milk and vanilla extract. Add bread cubes; stir, allowing bread to soak in well. Add more milk if needed. Bake for 25-30 minutes until pudding is golden and firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. It should be moist, not runny or dry. Cool to room temperature.
You now have made “bread pudding.”
You can stop here and not make the meringue for the soufflé portion. I suggest you still making the custard sauce. The sauce makes the bread pudding.
STEP 2 Meringue
Butter six 6-ounce ceramic ramekins; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk 6-9 egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add 1/4 cup sugar. Continue whisking until shiny and thick.  If whites stand up, like shaving cream, the  meringue is ready. Watch this video for tips.

STEP 3 Meringue and Sauce
In a large bowl, separate out the bread pudding into  chunks. Gently fold in a quarter of the meringue, being careful not to lose the air in the whites. Divide this mixture among the ramekins. Top the rest of the meringue on each ramekin, piling it as high as you can. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
TOPPING: Cut a slit on top of each soufflé and pour  the  custard sauce into each individual ramekin. Serve immediately.

WHISKEY  CUSTARD SAUCE
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cups (600 ml.) whole milk
4 large free-range egg yolks
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 vanilla pod ( or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract )
1/4 cup bourbon -whiskey (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Pour milk and vanilla extract into a pot and bring just to the boil.
2. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and flour until pale.
Gradually add the warm milk to the egg mixture. Whisk well to prevent clumping.
Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook gently on a low heat for about 20 minutes -or- until thick. Add the whiskey. Adjust to taste. Whisk continuously.
Taste to make sure the sauce is sufficiently sweet.  Pour into the center opening of each soufflé.

Bread Pudding Soufflé Scored in the middle for the sauce to blend well.

Whiskey Sauce poured over the Bread Pudding Soufflé

VARIATIONS

When I attended the Cookin Cajun Cooking School at Riverwalk in New Orleans, the chef said, “You could add anything to your bread pudding soufflé :  raisins, currents, even smarties.”

Get creative with this recipe. Use up ingredients hiding in your cupboards and in your frig.

Kids love smarties. They can help out in doctoring up  their own ramekin, before going in the oven.


TIP: If you don’t have enough stale bread, combine fruit or almonds with the cubed bread, before the final bake. Maybe add some cheese. Sweet or savory, it’s great for breakfast or dessert.

How about eggnog ‘bread puddingsoufflé? Sounds delicious for the holidays!

BREAD – the Staff of Life.  Along with your carbs you will get micro nutrients including thiamin, selenium, and folate from bread.

We really wanted to bring you a trending dessert that is gaining popularity. The cinnamon and nutmeg is fantastic!  I serve this warm dessert with whiskey custard along with a shot of whiskey on the side.

 

Memories of New Orleans! Bread Pudding Soufflé is still the number one asked for dessert at The Commander’s Palace.

How it was added to their menu? Commander’s Palace had so many egg whites left over from their Hollandaise Sauce that it  gave birth to their famous “Bread Pudding Soufflé“. Simply Splendid had the solution to the egg yolks by  making  a custard sauce topping.

bread pudding souffle

Comander’s Palace, New Orleans, Home of Bread Pudding Souffle

KID FRIENDLY with plain custard!  A great snack. Keeps well in the frig for 2-3 days.

Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!

TRENDING PASTA

Beer Pasta

Beet PASTA

Spelt pasta, chick pea, organic, spinach, kale, lentil and chocolate dessert  pasta. The new trend in pasta is part of the “NEW NORMAL”.  Healthy pasta with nutritious veggies have kicked up our pasta -another notch!  Now, that we are homebound, we may be more inventive with our meals and at the same time keep the cost down.

Last night, we had mushroom quinoa pasta. My sister said,  ” This pasta is  really good. What did you do? I explained how I prepared the pasta.  My sis also said, “You must share your pasta secret on your blog. 💖 And, I have selfish reasons. I need a copy to print out..for me!”

PERFECT PASTA

Heart Smart  PASTA

Perfectly cooked pasta is called “al dente” , which in Italian means “to the tooth.” Al dente pasta is cooked just enough to retain a firm texture while still pliable.
MY COOKING SECRET:  I cook my pasta to ‘AL DENTE’.  I start to check my pasta a few minutes before the recommended cooking time,  to ensure perfectly cooked pasta!🍝

INGREDIENTS

1 quart water  (approx.)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp of oil
3-4 cloves of garlic.
Pasta – of your choice

How To MEASURE Pasta For Your Dinner Guests?

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large pot boil 4 cups of water and 1 1/2 tsp  of salt,  for every 3 1/2 ounces of pasta. These are the proportions according to the classic and famous Silver Spoon cookbook.  Optionally, add a few cloves of garlic to the water. I’ve always done this when cooking my pasta.
When the water comes to a rolling boil add the pasta.    Boil for 8-10 minutes. In the meantime, heat oil,  garlic and butter in a fry pan. You may add mushrooms, basil, spinach and parsley. (or, your choosing).   Do not let garlic brown. Then, set aside until pasta is ready.
TESTING PASTA FOR DONENESS
After  8 minutes, take out one small segment of pasta.  You may notice that the outside of the pasta is cooked and the inside is still hard. This is your guide for the next test – 1 to 2 minutes later.

I sometimes test the pasta 3 or 4 times. I like my pasta as perfect as possible. Cook well and you will  keep the flavour of the pasta. If your pasta is cooked too long, you get  “pastey pasta”. And, frankly it tastes like paste.

Quinoa Pasta with Spinach, Mushrooms, Sun Dried Tomatoes, garlic,butter and oil.

PASTA PROVIDES ENERGY!
1. Pasta is one of best sources of good carbohydrates. Runners and rowers have pasta the night before a race.  Carbohydrates provide glucose to the body, which is an essential fuel for the muscles and the brain.
2. Pasta helps repair cells and tissue, rebuilds muscle and strengthens hair, nails and skin.
3. One serving of cooked pasta  ( about one cup ) has  210 calories, one gram of fat, 43 grams of carbs, three grams of fiber, and six grams of protein.
Make sure you have your favorite vegetables with your pasta. Mushrooms, broccoli, grilled asparagus or roasted peppers are so tasty with your pasta. It is not a main course. Keep your pasta serving down to about one cup.

MY FAVORITE PASTA MAKER – MOM
It started on a Sunday afternoon. After church, mom comes over for our  traditional  Sunday afternoon coffee.  The coffee maker is heating up. As I reach for the cups, I smile and say, ” Let’s make pasta for dinner tonight!” To this day, Mom and I still enjoy making fresh pasta on Sunday afternoons.  No Sunday goes by without fresh pasta on the dinner table. On hot, summer days, cold pasta salads are the main event.
My favorite pasta maker!

Lydia And Her Mom Making Pasta


KALE PASTA -STEP BY STEP:–(without a machine)–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT1KwuWBkvo
COLORED PASTA:–(with a machine)–> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJURekWWESo
ROOKIE PASTA MAKER (5 MISTAKES) —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_fu5RaXMVk

ROAST VEGETABLES ~ TRENDING!

‘The BEST’ OVEN-Roasted VEGETABLES!

CHANGE THE WAY YOU ROAST VEGETABLES: For goodness sake! After making over 1,000 meals with roast veggies, I started experimenting and made some modifications. I knew I had a winner when I got huge compliments for  my ‘new’ roasted vegetables. It is still my all time favorite veggie recipe!  One reason is that it’s so easy to make! At a dinner party, one of my friends proclaimed  “These veggies are so good. I cant believe how good they taste!”  The potatoes are crispy,  yet soft and  fluffy on the inside.  The red peppers were especially a big hit.  I have been asked to share this recipe with you. I hope you enjoy it!


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INGREDIENTS

1 medium potato* (any kind),  cut into 1  inch cubes
1 yam* peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 carrot and/or parsnip peeled and sliced into 1 inch slices
6 brussels  sprouts
1/2 head garlic, cloves separated and skins removed
2 large shallots, peeled and quartered ( sweet or red onions  )
2  red and/or yellow bell peppers, cut lengthwise into 1  inch strips
1/2 cup Calamata olives, pitted
2-4 tablespoons olive oil ( more oil, the better )
2 sprigs of FRESH Rosemary or Thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black
* If you decide to leave the  skin on large tubers before roasting,  wash and scrub well. Soak in cleaning vinegar for at least 15 minutes before chopping.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F degrees(232 C ) and prepare vegetables.
  2. In a large bowl, toss potatoes, yams, carrots and brussels sprouts with  olive oil and salt.  Add to roasting pan and roast in the oven for 20 minutes

    Cubed Potatoes, Yams, Parsnips & Carrots

  3. Add garlic and shallots to  the pan  and toss with the other vegetables. Roast for 20 more minutes

    Garlic And Shallots

  4. Add chopped bell pepper and olives to the pan and sprinkle with black pepper.  Add 2 rosemary sprigs on top of the vegetables. Return to oven
  5. Cook for 20 minutes longer until vegetables are nicely browned but not charred. Because the peppers are only cooked in the last  20 minutes, they are still juicy, tender and tasty.  As all oven temperatures vary, please check the vegetables as they roast.

Fresh Rosemary

TIP:  Make sure you use FRESH ROSEMARY (or thyme – if you don’t have rosemary on hand ). Rosemary needs to be fresh, or not at all. When chopping vegetables err on the larger, chunky  side.  You can always  substitute/add your favourite veggies.  Keep in mind  THE 20 – 20- 20  MINUTE ‘Roasting’  Rule: The firmer vegetables go in first. Then, add the onions and garlic with the most tender vegetables in the final 20 minutes: mushrooms, green tomatoes,  peppers.

VARIATIONS
1.  I add baby turnips  if they look especially fresh and small at the market that day.  As you know, this recipe bakes in 3 BATCHES. The hard root vegetables are roasted first.

Turnips

2. The softer onions and garlic are next in the next 20 minute intervals.

3.  In the third and final stage,  the lighter,  succulent vegetables are added. Friends ask me how my roasted peppers stay so juicy and tasty?   They are only roasted for the last 20 minutes.  The peppers add such a great flavour  and sweetness to the mix.   Try the black olives. If you are not a fan, just  leave them as the flavour is very complementary to the mix. Please  try them before you pass judgement.

Oven Roasted Vegetables

The great aroma for these roasted vegetables comes from  the garlic and shallots along with the rosemary of course. HINT: Use up what you’ve got. Look in the fridge and pantry and roast it!


THE POWER OF ROOT VEGETABLES
The starchy root veggies will satisfy your sweet tooth. You not only feel fuller afterwards, weight loss benefits prevail.
From their high-fiber content to their many nutrients, root vegetables boast  a long history of medicinal and dietary uses.  These vegetables can be served cold as well.  They sell these cold  at those expensive gourmet shops.  Cooked and then cooled potatoes (as well as quinoa, barley and rice). All have resistant starch.  Resistant starch burns more slowly and helps you lose weight. They appear to help you burn fat up to  24 hours later. Why?  No one knows. But what is known is that once resistant starch gets to the colon, your body ferments it and produces an anticancer agent called butyrate – yet another health benefit.

Roast Winter Vegetables on the BBQ

Pulla: Finnish Cardamon Bread

EASTER CELEBRATIONS
Traditionally, Easter sweet bread dates back to the Homeric Greek period  around 1100 BC, when honey leavened bread was popular.

Celebrate Easter Sunday with traditional Finnish “PULLA” that adorns every table during Finland’s religious holidays.  Growing up,  this was the best treat Easter morning ( and still is )!  One bite of this light, fluffy, sweet bread and you’re a kid again, remembering those wonderful times!
PULLA bread is a soft, fluffy cardamom braided bread (or buns) served with a hot cup of coffee. Top this sweet loaf with sliced almonds and/or pearl sugar.

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INGREDIENTS (makes 2 loaves)

  • 1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F –  45 degrees C)
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast ( 2 1/4 tsp. )
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk ( 105  – 115 F – same as water)
  • 2/3  cup of white sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground, fresh cardamom
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cups or 170 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces or grated
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk (lightly beaten)
  • I large egg white, lightly beaten with
  • 1 tbsp water (for egg wash)
  • TOPPING: almond slices and course sugar  ( about 1 to 2 Tablespoons )

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and a pinch of sugar. Let stand until foamy, in 5 minutes
[ If yeast does not foam start over with new yeast] This is the most critical part of the recipe.

Yeast In Full Bloom – Mixed With Warm Water ( + A Pinch Of  Sugar )

2. Stir together flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt in a large bowl. You can also sift these  ingredients together to remove any hard lumps in the flour.  Then blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Alternatively,  grate the cold butter using a box grater onto the flour mixture and fluff with  your fingers (like I do).
3. Stir in milk, 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk,  and yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.
4. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting surface and hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Alternatively, knead in your stand mixer or food processor with the dough hook.
5. Form dough into a ball and put in a buttered large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

First Raising – Dough  (My Bowl Was Too Small –  But It Worked Well)

6. Punch down dough (do not knead), then halve. Cut each half into thirds and roll each piece into a 15-inch rope. ( 6  ropes –  for  2 loaves ).Braid together 3 ropes to form a loaf, then transfer to a parchment-lined large baking sheet, tucking ends under. Make another loaf with remaining 3 ropes, arranging loaves 4 inches apart. Or, on two different trays (like I did).

7. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

After Second Rising – Added Egg White Wash + Almonds

8. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. .
9. Brush loaves with egg wash and optionally dust with sugar through a sieve or sprinkle with pearl sugar if you have it.  Bake until golden brown about 35-45 minutes.  Check loaf after 30 minutes.  My pulla was done in 36 minutes. Every oven is different. Some ovens run hotter that others. Rotate the pulla from back to front in the oven, about half way through cooking time – to get an even bake.

Because I used granulated sugar, It had still not melted so I used my kitchen torch to bruleé the sugar.  This is not traditional.  The pearl sugar is but it is not so easy to find.

I am not a fan of sweets but I do enjoy this light sprinkling on top of the pulla.

Torching The Sugar To Melt Into The Loaf

10. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Easter Blessings

STAY HOME STAY SAFE
We are especially thankful this Easter 2020.  I have been at home all week baking pulla  for friends and family. Celebrations started early as my friend sent me an email thanking me for the fresh pulla. My friend  had never tried pulla and said her whole family ate it all in one sitting. Downstairs, the concierge started eating it right away (his second loaf); warm, home baked pulla – by me.

Extra prayers this Easter  🙏🏻  to the brave men and women all over the world. Blessings and hope for everyone during these troubled times and uncertainty.