Sunday, April 4, 2010

What was Cooking this Easter Weekend...

Friday is our traditional Family Pizza Night, a new thing we started in January. This week's pizza was a little different. Aaron is picky with his pizza toppings, while I'm more adventurous and like variety. He loves pepperoni and olives. This Friday, I decided to add a layer of fresh spinach and torn fresh basil to boost the nutrients a bit more. Aaron was skeptical, but in the end he really liked it. I usually serve pizza with a green salad, but this week I just served it with sliced apples.

I've perfected the method for baking our homemade pizza. Here are my tips:
  • Baking instructions: I start out with Trader Joe's fresh pizza dough in a bag or my own from-scratch dough. I roll it out and use a fork to prevent air holes. I par-bake the dough in the oven for 6 minutes on 350 degrees on my oven's convention oven setting. Then, I add all my toppings. I bake it for another 10 minutes until I see the pizza is bubbly and the cheese is golden.
  • Favorite pizza sauce: We really like Roasted Garlic Marinara from Trader Joe's. I've seen pizza sauce in store, but we prefer using jar marinara. I use about 1/3 of a jar for each pizza.
  • Multiple cheeses: We like the blend of mozzarella and a tiny bit of sharp cheddar cheeses. Other good blends are feta and parmesan cheeses because they are very strong in flavor so you don't need as much of it on the pizza.
  • Experiment with toppings: I like to mix it up. Sometimes I use slices of cooked Italian chicken sausage. Aaron loves pepperoni, but I like to add spinach (fresh or defrosted frozen) to boost the nutrients.

I baked Ginger-Carrot Muffins on Saturday morning. I love baking muffins. I don't like the muffin mixes in a box because they are packed with additives and just too processed. Instead, I love to make homemade muffins because they make a quick snack that you can grab-and go. Aaron's parents came to visit us this weekend so I wanted to bake muffins for their visit and keep the leftovers for snacks to serve with yogurt or fresh fruit like this picture. I pack them in our lunches.

This recipe from Cooking Light for Ginger-Carrot Muffins were fantastic! My in-laws loved them, too! They only have 1/2 cup of sugar, but the shredded carrots and raisins add sweetness naturally. My only modifications were that I used half whole wheat flour and 1/2 white flour and used walnuts and not pecans. I used my food processor to shred the carrots quickly. You need 3 cups of shredded carrots so it's easy to do it with the food processor. I made these muffins while the baby was sleeping in her swing! It was funny when I ran the food processor, she squealed and moved her hands by ears like she was covering them. What a personality already!

Storage: The muffins are great for grab-and-go snacks. I wrap the muffins in plastic wrap individually like in this picture to easily drop it in the lunch bag during the work week. I find that they stay fresh for up to a week if they are double packed in a plastic bag.

OR...freeze the individually wrapped muffins and defrost them on the counter overnight. Warm them for a few seconds in the microwave to soften.

Another favorite muffin recipe to try is the Raisin Bran Maple Muffins.

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