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By learning about basic ingredients and how to use them, you can create simple, quick and delicious meals your family will love!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Easy Irish Soda Bread

Baking a loaf of Irish Soda Bread is total culinary therapy!  The smell of fresh bread baking and the texture of that first bite are heavenly.  This recipe is a great way to teach kids about their Irish heritage and their ancestors, while also teaching them the art of breadmaking.  If you like raisins or caraway seeds in your Soda Bread add them to the dough along with the buttermilk.

4 cups All-Purpose Flour
4 TB White Sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 TB Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Margarine, softened
1 cup Buttermilk
1 Egg
1/4 cup Butter, melted
1/4 cup Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly.

Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk and brush lightly onto loaf. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. If desired, continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes for a golden top crust.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pizza Crust

The next time you want a delicious pizza with toppings just the way you like them, make pizza at home. This recipe makes a large crust (15" x 10") plus about 6 breadsticks, or 2 large round crusts.

Top the crusts with your favorite toppings, your choice of spices and cheeses and enjoy pizza night at home.

1 1/2 cups Water
1 1/2 tsp Salt
3 TB Olive Oil
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
4 1/2 cups Bread Machine Flour
3 tsp  Bread Machine Yeast
1 8 oz can Tomato Sauce or you choice of sauce
Garlic Powder for the Crust

Optional Spices - Oregano, Basil, Chili Flakes
Meats - Pepperoni, Ham, Cooked Sausage, etc
Vegetables - Onions, Green Peppers, Black Olives, Sliced Tomatoes or Cherry Tomatoes, etc

Combine ingredients in your bread machine as outlined in your manual, using a french dough or regular dough setting.

Using a 15" x 10" cookie sheet (or 2 round pizza pans), coat the baking pan lightly with olive oil, coating the pan all the way to the edges.

When dough is finished, place 2/3 of the dough onto the coated cookie sheet and spread dough evenly on the baking pan. (The remaining 1/3 can be shaped into breadsticks and cooked on a separate sheet.) For 2 round pizzas split the dough in half.

Dust the edges of the pizza dough with garlic powder and lightly over the surface of the crust.

Bake at the crusts at 425 degrees for about 8 - 10 minutes until crust is lightly browned, but not completely cooked. Remove from oven and evenly coat surface with tomato sauce. Add seasonings to taste. Next add any meat or vegetable toppings, followed by grated cheese **.  Return pizza to oven and bake for 7 - 10 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.

** For a delicious flavor, use grated Mozzarella and Provolone cheeses plus a little grated Cheddar.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chicken Pesto Pizza

For a last minute dinner, our Chicken Pesto Pizza turned out really good.  We used store-bought (gasp!) Publix Pizza Dough, and I was totally impressed with the flavor and texture.  We will definitely use this again!

After smoothing out the dough with a little olive oil under the crust, we dusted the crust with garlic powder and baked for about 8 minutes, then removed from the oven.

Next added Buitoni Pesto with Basil, another store-bought find that saved a lot of time since my Basil is growing so slow this year. I followed that with a layer of grilled garlic chicken and grated Parmesan cheese, grated Mozzerella cheese and just a sprinkle of cheddar and baked for another 8 - 10 minutes, until the crust was brown and the bottom of the crust was crispy.

I would have loved to add some sun-dried tomatoes to this pizza, but in our gourmet-food-deprived college town, there were none to be found. Boo. Next time for sure!