Monthly Archives: June 2010

Container Garden, Week 8

It’s amazing how quickly vegetables grow in one week.

First of all, my tomato plants are much, much taller than me.

There are still plenty of flowers on the tomato plants, but only one more tiny tomato. You can see the new tiny tomato on the bottom and my first tomato on the top – it’s gotten much bigger in a week!

I also have four green peppers, and they’re growing at a nice rate! I can’t wait to see them turn different colors.

And finally, my serranos.  Some of them are quite big now, so I’m just waiting till they turn color to pick them. On another note, my serrano pepper plants were overrun with ants and aphids (I think).  It was quite gross – lots of little bugs on the undersides of the leaves and ants crawling all over. I did some research and discovered that ants will “farm” aphids, so although ants themselves won’t plants, they will bring aphids to the plants, and aphids do eat the plants. So I bought some plant bug spray. Hopefully that will keep my poor pepper plant bug free and healthy. I’ll just have to wash everything more carefully before I eat them.

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BBQ Chicken Pizza with Roasted Red Peppers

There’s a pizza place in Raleigh called Lilly’s – they make fancy kinds of pizzas, and is one of those funky, independently owned places. One of my favorites there is the BBQ Chicken pizza. It’s got spicy BBQ sauce, roasted red peppers, onions, and cheese. I had made The Pioneer Woman BBQ pizza before, but I wanted those red peppers. Seriously, red peppers on pizza with barbecue sauce is to die for.

I found this yeast at the grocery store, and seeing that it was the same price as regular old yeast, I thought I’d give it a try. It is formulated so that you don’t have to let the dough rise or proof, so it’s quick. And, it promised that I could make pizza any way I wanted – whole wheat, thick crust, thin crust…I had to try it! Plus, I actually wanted to make whole wheat dough and didn’t have time to let it rise. Sold!  I used the recipe on the back of the packet, but swapped out half of the white flour for white whole wheat. It turned out great; I would use this again (but if I ran out, I would probably turn to this easy recipe: Five Minute Pizza Dough. I just don’t know how well it holds up with whole wheat/white whole wheat flour).

After I mixed and kneaded, I oiled a sheet pan and spread the dough out using my fingers. It was surprisingly easy.

Then I cooked up a chicken breast using Trade Joe’s BBQ sauce, used a red pepper I already had roasted (great tutorial here), shredded up some parmesan, chopped up some fresh basil (from my container garden!) and green onions (not from my container garden), cooked up some onions (I half-caramelized them…I ran out of time), and got my mozzarella ready to go (I had some pre-sliced fresh mozzarella that I had bought awhile ago, frozen, and thawed for this).

I slathered on the barbecue sauce right onto the crust, gave it a good sprinkling of parmesan, then layered on the fresh mozzarella, chicken, onions, strips of red peppers (I would dice or chop next time), more barbecue sauce, some basil and green onions, and more parmesan cheese. This is probably not very healthy.

Then I baked it in a 450 degree F oven for about 15 minutes (I think I underbaked it just a hair, so I’d recommend the full 15 or more). Delicious! Before I served it I sprinkled with the rest of the fresh basil and green onions.

It wasn’t quite like Lilly’s, but it was still really good! The onions and red peppers really gave the barbecue and cheese combo a yummy sweetish flavor. Definitely I would do this again, but maybe put more barbecue sauce on top.

White Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Adapted from Fleischmann’s Pizza Yeast Packet
Yield: Dough for one 12 inch pizza

Ingredients:
1 to 1-1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 to 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope Fleischmann’s Pizza Yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup very warm tap water (120-130 degrees F)
3 tablespoons oil

Directions:

  1. Combine 1/2 cup white whole wheat and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in large bowl.
  2. Add water and oil to bowl.
  3. Mix until well blended, about 1 minute. It will be very wet and not dough-like at all.
  4. Add 1/2 to 1 cup flour (half white whole wheat and half all-purpose) until soft dough ball is formed. It will be slightly sticky. I think I ended up using almost 2-1/2 cups of flour altogether.
  5. Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes, adding more flour as needed (at this stage, I was just added all-purpose).
  6. Stretch or roll dough to fit oiled pan and add toppings as desired.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees F for 12-15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is brown. NOTE: I baked for 14 minutes and needed more. I would say the range might be closer to 14-17 minutes, at least for a pizza with lots of toppings.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza with Roasted Red Peppers

Inspired by/adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:
Dough for one pizza
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
3/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
1 whole onion, sliced and caramelized (or just cooked down with butter for a little for some sweetness)
1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into thin strips or diced
Chopped/julienned fresh basil (about 4-5 leaves or to taste)
One green onion, sliced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Spread pizza dough onto oiled sheet pan.
  3. Spread about three-quarters of the barbecue sauce onto the dough, making sure it covers almost to the edges and isn’t too thin. Add more or less to taste.
  4. Sprinkle half of the parmesan cheese over the pizza.
  5. Add the sliced mozzarella evenly over the pizza. Make sure the slices aren’t too close together, and not too close to the edge.
  6. Add the chicken, onion, and roasted red pepper evenly over the whole pizza.
  7. Add some more barbecue sauce over top, then sprinkle on the remaining parmesan cheese and half the basil and green onions.
  8. Cook for 14-17 minutes until the crust is brown and the cheese is bubbly.
  9. Top with the rest of the herbs and slice.

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Container Garden – Week 7

This week marks the appearance of the first actual fruits/veggies on my plants!

I had to rearrange the plants again so you could get a good view of the green pepper plant, but they’re all still growing steadily. They’re also using a lot more water so I have to water them almost daily now. I finally broke down and bought a watering can so it only takes me two trips back and forth instead of 6 or 7 (I was, unfortunately, using one of those 2 quart pitchers as my watering can). Hooray efficiency!

Here’s one of the three green peppers …

… one of the many serrano peppers. The serranos are in various stages of growth – some are teeny, covered by the flower, some are like this, and a few have lost the flower altogether.

Aaaand, here’s the first tomato! Already I am excited because I can see it’s going to be big and funky shaped.  I have plenty of blossoms, so I’m hoping more will start growing soon.

Also, the tomato plants are now taller than me, I think. It’s hard to tell because I took this myself, so the angle wasn’t totally straight on, but if they aren’t already taller than me, they will be soon. The basil is still growing strong, but I figured you didn’t need to see another picture of my lovely basil plant.

On another note – I really don’t understand the “proper” way to pick off basil – people seem to pick off whole stalks that they can then sit in a glass of water…but all I can get are individual leaves. It’s very perplexing. I want to avoid having my basil plant flower too early, so any tips would be very helpful.

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Brownies with Brown Sugar and Walnuts

I follow Domino Sugar on Twitter, and they recently posted a link to Brown Sugar Brownies. Not blondies, mind you, but chocolate brownies with brown sugar instead of white. I was immediately intrigued and knew I was going to have to make brownies that night.

However, I took a closer look and decided to alter a different recipe instead of using my inspiration recipe. The Domino Sugar recipe batch was too small, and it called for beating the butter.  This made me skeptical because most brownie recipes called for melting the butter.

From Smitten Kitchen, I found the Baker’s Chocolate One Bowl Brownies.

I assembled my ingredients – simple! Only 9 items (I didn’t have vanilla but you should add it).

I lined a 9×13″ pan with foil (2 pieces, horizontally across the dish) and sprayed with PAM.

I love those little squares of Baker’s Chocolate – there’s something so comforting about the solid- and square-and old-fashioned-ness of these. Or something. Baker’s Chocolate also, incidentally, always reminds me of the part in Steve Almond’s book Candyfreak where he talks about the cruelty of unsweetened chocolate to chocolate and candy lovers.

After you chop up the chocolate, you melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Gross at first, then delicious. You could do this over a double boiler as well, if you don’t have a microwave.

You mix in the sugars – I replaced half the white sugar with brown. After some online research, I was afraid to replace all of the white sugar because I was worried it wouldn’t hold up. However, I think next time I would try more brown sugar. Then you add in the eggs, flour, and walnuts.

And here they are after cooking…yummm.

Cut up and stacked, ready for co-workers. They brownies turned out wonderfully. I haven’t been able to make brownies from scratch very successfully before, but these were everything I wanted. Moist, chocolatey, thick with a crunchy top. Yum.

Brownies with Brown Sugar and Walnuts

Adapted from this recipe and inspired by this recipe

Yield: 24 normal sized brownies, 36 small brownies (I cut mine pretty small)
Prep time: 15 min
Bake time: 30-35 minutes
Total time: 50 min

Ingredients:
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1-2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan.
  3. Grease foil (I sprayed with baking spray).
  4. Roughly chop chocolate (it helps it melt faster).
  5. Melt chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
  6. Stir in white and brown sugars.
  7. Stir in eggs and vanilla.
  8. Fold in flour, salt, and walnuts.
  9. Pour into prepared pan and smooth evenly.
  10. Bake for 30 to 35 min. or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs.
  11. Cool in pan on wire rack.
  12. When cooled, remove brownies from pan, using foil handles, and cut into squares.

*Updated ingredient list and directions for clarity 7/31/10

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Container Garden, Week 6

My plants have flowers! I was VERY excited this week to find all of my plants blooming with little buds. You’ll also be happy to know that the serrano peppers are doing very well after being staked – they’re growing evenly and straight. The green pepper has grown up a bit as well, so I think it’s doing okay.

They continued to grow like crazy (especially the tomato plants), so I had to rearrange them a little bit to ensure that everything was getting enough sun.

Both my serrano pepper plants had flowers (top), as well as the green pepper (bottom).

The green pepper flowers are hidden under its gigantic leaves, but they are there.

Both my tomato plants had beautiful little yellow flowers as well – which means tomatoes aren’t too far behind!

Speaking of – my tomato plants are huge…they are almost as tall as me! The stalks are thick, and there are plenty of leaves and buds showing. I had to move the basil from behind them because they were blocking all the sunlight.

However, my basil seems pretty happy. It’s growing more and more leaves, so I’m looking forward to having some tomatoes to eat with this basil.

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