Mother’s Day Leftovers

For Mother’s Day I had leftover cauliflower egg casserole. Leftovers are a mother thing, I suppose. When I was young, my brothers and I would cook our Mother a breakfast of sorts on Sunday morning. Daddy would have brought her coffee in bed, while we three messed up the kitchen making pancakes or scrambled eggs. Of course, she accepted our tribute with a gracious smile and ate it all, no matter what it actually tasted like.

Cauliflower Egg and Cheese Casserole

I’m not sure our measurements were as exact as hers. If my own young daughter’s use of salt for baking powder in a recipe is an example of thinking “they’re both white so they should act the same,” we might have mixed up our chemistry in the old kitchen back in the day also. At least we didn’t set the stove on fire, but our parents trusted us to cook unattended at an open flame even when I was ten, and my brothers were 8 and 5 years old. We’d been supervised much earlier, and “watched like a hawk” in that apprenticeship time, so if Dad strolled into the kitchen for refills, he could tell at a glance if we were on task or about to burn the house down.

I remember my Mother always ate the heel of the bread and took the last serving of any dish at the table. She let us have the choice of the best parts and took what was leftover. I once asked her about her willingness to be last, when the rest of us were falling all over each other to be first. She said, “This is my calling. This is what I do.” I think she sometimes felt unappreciated for this gift of humbleness, for when she was frayed down to her last strand, she’d swear “I’ll get more than one star in my crown when I get to heaven! I’ll shine so bright, I’ll be a whole constellation!”

We’d laugh and hug her, and Daddy would tell her she was still the best little mama ever, and she’d calm down again. Sometimes we don’t appreciate those who do the most for us, until they can’t do any more. We load up on a few good workers at the job site, but don’t train the rest to grow into those positions of responsibility. When these retire or move on, we are left bereft. Some bosses take on all their workers’ duties and then wonder why their help doesn’t do much. If we want to raise up responsible adults, we have to raise responsible young people. We get responsible young people by letting children learn to take small challenges according to their age and capabilities.

I know THEY say never make an untested dish for a party. That just takes the adventure and excitement out of the equation. This recipe was a little more complicated than my usual because I made it for a potluck at my condo this weekend. I used my imagination and prior experience to visualize the outcome. If you can’t taste and smell the recipe before you cook it, you need to keep looking for a recipe that excites and activates your senses.

Cauliflower Cake—cheese, egg, veggies casserole
Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients
• 1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into 1 1/4-inch florets (about 4 cups)
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
• 1 medium red onion
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
• Melted unsalted butter, for brushing
• 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
• 1 teaspoon nigella (also known as black caraway), cumin, or black sesame seeds
• 7 large eggs
• 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped (1/4 C dried basil)
• 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Parmesan or aged cheese
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
• Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Meanwhile, prepare the cake.
2. PAN BOILED CAULIFLOWER—Place the cauliflower florets and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and simmer over medium-high heat until the florets are quite soft, about 15 minutes. They should break when pressed with a spoon. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.
3. ALTERNATIVE COOKING PROCESS—cut cauliflower into 1 inch pieces. Put into baking dish sprayed with Pam. Microwave on high for 3 minutes or until tender.
4. Cut 4 round slices, each 1/4-inch, off one end of the onion and set aside. Dice the rest of the onion and place in a small frying pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
5. Meanwhile, line the base and sides of a 9 1/2-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter, then mix together the sesame and other seeds and toss them around the inside of the pan so that they stick to the sides. (If you don’t have this pan, use regular pan lined with parchment paper, pan well sprayed with Pam, or make in muffin pan.)
6. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl. Add the eggs and basil and whisk well to combine. Add the cheese, flour, baking powder, turmeric, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth. Add the cauliflower and stir gently, trying not to break up the florets.
7. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top. Bake until golden brown and set, about 45 minutes. A knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Let cool at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving. It needs to be served just warm, rather than hot, or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes
Turmeric: substitute curry if you don’t have turmeric.

Baking pan options: If you don’t have a springform pan, you can just use a regular 9-inch cake pan or even an 8-inch square pan, but still line with parchment paper first. Or, just spray well with Pam. There’s enough oil in the recipe and cheese to keep the whole from sticking.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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Black Bean Pizza Crust

BLACK BEAN PIZZA CRUST

The end of the old year always makes me rethink my food choices for the new year. Perhaps the numerous cookies I quality tested also encouraged my recipe experiments. I always try to modify my recipes toward the healthier side, even while I keep the good taste. I’ve made great whole wheat and almond flour pizza crusts and I enjoyed the beautiful, red beet crust variation. What would a black bean crust taste like? My “wild side” wants to know!

Ingredients for one large single pizza crust—
¾ cup black beans (about ½ of a 15oz can) = 7.5 oz low salt beans
7 oz water warm
1¼ tsp sugar (or sweetener of choice, optional, but recommended to feed the yeast)
2¼ tsp yeast = 1 package
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup almond flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt

Black Bean Pizza Crust

1 Drain beans, then mash with a fork, or purée in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add water as necessary (in 1 Tbsp increments).
2 Whisk together warm water, sugar, yeast, and bean purée.
3 Mix together flours and salt, add slowly to yeast mixture (if not using a bread machine, stir as flour mixture is added).
4 Knead until the dough is elastic.
5 Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
6 Shape pizza dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
7 Arrange toppings and sauce of your choice on top of shaped dough. Put half of cheese on dough, then tomatoes, spinach, spices, rest of cheese, finishing with tomatoes, and dusting with more spices.
8 Bake 15 to 20 minutes (or until toppings are cooked through). Cut into 8 pieces. Two pieces make a very filling meal for most ladies. One piece would fill a child, and a hungry man might three.

Nutrition for Black Bean Pizza Crust

I admit the crust doesn’t taste much like a typical pizza, yet I enjoyed the difference. It does need a tad longer to cook, and the moisture in the beans are the reason for that. It might be best to go all “Mexican” with the seasoning, as well as to use a ground beef for the protein. A habanero jack cheese would be excellent too. In the new year, we might “walk on the wild side” with our recipe choices on occasion! I hope you enjoy it and have a blessed New Year!

Joy and Peace, Cornie

OTHER INGREDIENTS FOR FULLY DRESSED PIZZA:

Pizza blend cheese 8 oz x 80 is 640 calories
Tomatoes 3 oz x 8 servings is 24 oz is 600 calories
Baby spinach 6 oz is 40 calories
Mushrooms 1 cup is 15 calories
Chicken breast 8 oz is 272
Total pie topping = 1567 calories or each serving is 195 calories

896 calories total for 8 servings = 112 calories for crust
Total pie topping = 1567 calories or each serving is 195 calories
Each serving total is 307 calories total.

OF ORDINARY MIRACLES

Greek yogurt with cocoa, fruit and nuts

“Fabulous Fermented Foods” have been part of my family’s history for generations back. In the rural antebellum South, folks made cornbread with buttermilk and bacon grease. They didn’t waste soured milk in those unrefrigerated days, just as they used every bit of the pig but its squeal. “Waste not, want not,” was an adage my forebears took to heart, even to my embarrassment of their saving balls of string or aluminum foil for reuse. The latter I thought unsanitary, in my modern worldview, but I’d never experienced great want of any kind as they had.

I enjoyed helping my nanny can food by pickling peaches and cucumbers, but that was a different process than fermentation. My mother did ferment a fruit compote with alcohol, which we all devoured with gusto over ice cream during the holidays. “Is it ready yet?” was as frequent a question as “When can we open a present?”

Of course we ate pimento cheese sandwiches, especially during those long lazy days of summer, but none of us ever connected the cheese making process to fermentation by good bacteria or yeasts. We ate, enjoyed, and never gave it a second thought as we sought the shade or a cool dip in refreshing water. Like many people of our day, we were incurious of the many ordinary miracles which surrounded all of us.

Now I’m well into my seventh decade and understand these trendy (but ancient) foods have potential health benefits. Fermenting foods changes their taste and texture, along with their chemical and biological properties.

Fermented foods may be the oldest “new” food trend around. The process is as old as civilization itself, and fermented foods are consumed in nearly every culture in the world. While researchers attempt to tease out how the changes caused by fermentation actually impact health, many not-fully-substantiated health claims are being made. Let’s take a look at what we know, and don’t know, about these promising (and tasty) foods.

FERMENTATION PROCESS

What is Fermentation? Fermentation occurs when microorganisms (certain species of bacteria, yeast, or mold) feed on starch, sugar, and other food components. This ancient process was originally used for preserving foods, but it fell out of favor in the age of refrigeration and pasteurization.

Many foods and beverages that are commonplace in the U.S. are a result of fermentation. Grains are fermented to make beer and bread; wine is made by fermenting grape juice; and yogurt and cheese are popular forms of fermented milk. Any foods can be fermented, and there are many examples of fermented foods around the world, such as Korean kimchi and the Swedish fermented fish Surströmming.

HEALTH BENEFIT CLAIMS

Behind the Health Benefit Claims. “It is becoming increasingly clear that the fermentation process changes the health-promoting characteristics of foods,” says Jeffrey B. Blumberg, PhD, professor emeritus at Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

For example, large studies have suggested an association between consumption of fermented dairy foods and weight maintenance that is not seen with unfermented dairy products, and frequent yogurt consumption is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality.

Some data show kimchi, a fermented cabbage dish ubiquitous in Korean cooking, is associated with anti-diabetic and anti-obesity benefits not seen with unfermented cabbage. Some of these suspected health benefits may result from the presence of the microorganisms themselves, but emerging research indicates that changes those organisms make to the food constituents, and new constituents they create, might have health benefits in their own.

HEALTH BENEFITS INCLUDE

Some of the potentially health-promoting effects of fermentation include:

1. Adding to our gut microbiota. Probiotics are live bacteria that some evidence indicates can confer health benefits when consumed in adequate numbers.

Some bacteria used in fermentation are known probiotics (or are similar to probiotic species). If fermented foods and beverages contain live microorganisms when consumed, a relatively large number of these organisms apparently make it through the human digestive system alive. “During the last decade, the number of studies has exploded regarding gut microbiota and their impact on the health of not only the gut but also the brain, heart, and immune system,” says Blumberg.

2. Changing existing compounds. In fermentation, the microorganisms break down food constituents. This process may have health benefits. For example, in fermented vegetables certain bacteria help convert health-promoting flavonoids into a more readily-absorbed form.

In dairy products, the bacteria break down lactose, making yogurt and cheese easier for lactose-intolerant people to digest.

3. Creating new compounds. Fermentation may create new compounds that have health-promoting actions in the body.

For example, one common result of bacterial fermentation is lactic acid (lactate), which recent research indicates is involved in anti-inflammatory and possibly antioxidant processes.

Other strains of microorganisms actually synthesize B vitamins or vitamin K; discourage “bad” bacteria from taking hold in the gut; or produce molecules not found in the original form of the food that play a variety of potentially health-promoting roles in the body.

4. Deactivating undesirable compounds. In addition to creating (mostly) desirable compounds in foods, fermentation can also remove undesirable compounds. In some plant foods, so-called anti-nutrients like phytic acid bind to nutrients like iron and calcium, decreasing the amount of these nutrients available to be absorbed by the body.

Fermentation can reduce phytic acid levels, which frees up more nutrients for absorption. Additionally, some food components are typically fermented in the gut by gut bacteria. This can create gas and trigger digestive problems. Fermenting foods before consumption leaves less work for gut microbes, and may help ease digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.

5. So far, there is not a lot of clinical data backing up the potential health benefits discussed above, or the health claims often attributed to fermented foods.

But tasty foods like yogurt, hard cheese, the fermented yogurt drink kefir, cabbage-based sauerkraut and kimchi, or the increasingly popular fermented tea kombucha are delicious ways to add nutritional variety to your overall dietary pattern.

Of course when we say “yogurt,” we mean the plain, unsweetened product, to which you control the additional fruits and sugar content. The presugared/fruit purée style is not a healthy choice. Look for a yogurt with more grams of protein than in carbohydrates (Greek usually fits the healthier choice).

The same goes for other milk products, or any prepared food or drink. If it has added sugars, leaving it on the shelf is the best way to keep it from showing up on your own body. If you have a body like mine, these sugar bombs explode in one perturbing place, every single time, as if there were a hidden sugar magnet inside my body! Every. Single. Time.

Yet we can do this! I keep weighing my food, keep a food diary, and exercise. I realize 30 minutes a day doesn’t seem to be enough to lose weight, but it is enough to keep my blood sugar and blood pressure in check. I either have to work less and workout more, or accept 2/3 of my efforts are good enough for someone in the later years of her life.

I’ll probably be working on the last 1/3, just because I can’t rest until I get it ALL. This means I need to cut back on some of my “working.” I’m going to post more monthly on this blog than every two weeks from now on. My Facebook Cornie’s Kitchen page will get more frequent posts.

Joy and peace, Cornie.

Tufts Nutrition Letter, Articles, November 2018 Issue

https://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/14_11/current-articles/Fabulous-Fermented-Foods_2487-1.html

Artisan Beet Crust Pizza

ARTISAN BEET CRUST PIZZA

Everyone wants to eat more veggies! In fact, I hear the latest food fad is coffee with mushrooms or broccoli added to it. Some toney java joints serve coffee inside carrots, avocados, or tomatoes. I like my coffee in a plain mug, and my veggies in soups or casseroles. Lately I’ve thrown a produce aisle on my pizza, so rather than the meat lover’s pizza, I create a veggie lover’s pizza.

Using fresh ingredients and a made from scratch dough, the pie can be ready in about the same time as a delivery pizza, but at less cost, and much healthier, especially if you’re watching your salt intake. I used some almond flour to cut the carbs of the crust, plus the veggies add some extra fiber.

Dissolve in 0.25 cup (4 fl oz) Water, tap warm,
1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast
1 tbsp Agave Nectar (Wholesome Organic Blue Agave)
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Set aside and mix together the spices:
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Oregano, ground
1 tbsp Parsley, dried
1 tbsp Basil

In separate bowl sift together
0.25 tsp Salt
0.75 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 serving Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour, per 1/4 Cup
Then add the yeast mix and stir.

Add in 1 beet (2″ dia) Beets, fresh, cooked tender, and chopped fine.

Combine well and kneed until stretchy.
Might need 0.25 cup Whole Wheat Flour to keep dough from sticking to surface.

Use rolling pin or hands to push dough into about a 12” circle.
Drizzle 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil over surface to seal it.

Layers of veggies on pizza, without the tomatoes

Layer these toppings on pizza—
4 oz Spinach – Dole Baby Spinach
226 gram Kroger all natural cheese pizza blend or 8 ounces
1 cup, pieces or slices Mushrooms, fresh
4 oz Beef, 90% Lean Ground Beef from Sirloin
6 oz Tomato, grape (3oz = appro 12 tomatoes) sliced

Sprinkle dry spices over the top, or some on the inside or some inside too.

Crimp up edges to keep the food inside the outer walls of your pizza.

Bake in preheated 425 F oven on middle rack on pizza stone for best texture. It takes 15 to 20 minutes, depending on oven & cooking surface. Cheese should be melted and crust tender but not crispy.

Tips

If you roll out on parchment paper on top of a cutting board, you can slide the pizza still on the paper onto your hot stone in the oven. This way you don’t ruin the dough by picking it up. This takes the place of a “Baker’s paddle” at a pizzeria.
You could make the crust with spinach for a green crust on St. Patrick’s Day.

Directions
425 F preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the oven.

Serving Size: 8 slices of the pizza—I usually eat 2 normally, or 3 if I’m ravenous.

Reheating pizza—put slices on parchment paper in cold oven. Turn to 350F, and remove when you smell it, about 10 minutes. Don’t reheat in microwave.

The nutrition facts are from SparkRecipes. It’s a handy app for creating your own recipes and knowing the nutritional information of the food you eat. I hope you enjoy this pizza! You can modify it any number of ways.

CORNIE’S KITCHEN PIZZA RECIPES at this link—free registration

https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/cookbooks.asp?cookbook=1113303

Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe: 8
Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
Calories 235.3
Total Fat 13.0 g
Saturated Fat 4.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g
Cholesterol 28.9 mg
Sodium 294.1 mg
Potassium 153.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.1 g
Dietary Fiber 3.5 g
Sugars 3.8 g
Protein 15.2 g
Vitamin A 33.7 %
Vitamin B-12 0.1 %
Vitamin B-6 1.6 %
Vitamin C 18.5 %
Vitamin D 1.7 %
Vitamin E 4.6 %
Calcium 23.1 %
Copper 2.0 %
Folate 10.1 %
Iron 7.8 %
Magnesium 6.2 %
Manganese 10.2 %
Niacin 2.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.5 %
Phosphorus 1.4 %
Riboflavin 4.2 %
Selenium 1.5 %
Thiamin 0.9 %
Zinc 0.7 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Beet Crust Pizza

For some reason, when I go into my kitchen, I like to walk on the wild side. Do I go there in real life? Never–you won’t find me climbing up a rock face or hanging off the side of a cliff. When I went to Masada, the ancient fortress where the Jews held out against the overwhelming Roman army which surrounded their mountain fortress, I was terrified as I rode the air tram up to the top. Then I discovered I had to walk on an exterior cantilevered sidewalk hanging out over the valley below to get inside the historic site.

Beet Crust Pizza with Spinach and Chicken

Once I was on solid ground, I could enjoy myself. Going back down I could do, since I’d survived it already one time. Cooking adventures in my kitchen aren’t exactly survival shows like Chopped or Naked and Afraid. Too much drama in those for me! I tend to get an idea in mind, lay out all the ingredients, and start the process. Sometimes I make it up as I go, and other times I’ve read an interesting recipe in the newspaper or on the internet. Most of the time I make a variation on the recipe for my own health’s sake to limit the salt, sugar, and fat in the mix. I use whole grain flour and extra virgin olive oil when I bake, and fresh foods whenever possible. Using foods in season keeps the grocery bill reasonable and assures a variety of nutrients in my menu too.

I had a craving for beets last week, so ate them in salads because of the hot weather. I had a lonely beet left in the veggie compartment, so rather than let it go to waste, I washed, peeled , diced , and microwaved it for 5 minutes until very soft. Then I mushed with a fork. While this was cooking, I combined in a cup 1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast, 1 tbsp Agave Nectar (Wholesome Organic Blue Agave), and .25 cup (8 fl oz) hot Water from the tap.

As the yeast was bubbling, I was sifting the dry ingredients together in a large bowl:

0.75 cup Whole Wheat Flour

1 serving Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour – per 1/4 Cup

.25 tsp Salt

Then I added the mushed beets, the yeast mix, and ADD 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Stir together well. If the mix won’t combine into a ball, add just enough water to make it so.

Turn the crust out onto parchment paper. Use .25 Cup Whole Wheat Flour to kneed the dough for a few minutes. Then roll out the crust to an even thinness. It should be about 12 inches in diameter.

Rub 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil into the surface of the crust to seal it. Add the toppings onto the crust:

4 oz Spinach – Dole Baby Spinach

226 gram Kroger all natural cheese pizza blend (8 oz)

8 ounces Chicken Breast (cooked), no skin, roasted, chopped

Sprinkle the spices over the top evenly:

1 tsp Garlic powder, 1 tbsp Basil, 1 tbsp Parsley, dried; and 1 tsp Oregano, ground

Cut into thin slices about 6 ounces or 168 grams Tomatoes, (red, ripe, raw, year round average) and arrange around the outer edge.

To finish off the presentation, turn up the edges of the crust and press down so the fillings don’t ooze out. The cooked crust is a surprising pink and the topping is a rich filling delight.

Minutes to Prepare: 15

Minutes to Cook: 20 at 425 F preheated oven

(15 to 20 minutes, depending on the oven)

Number of Servings: 8 single pieces–kids or 4 servings (2 slices) for adults

Tips: You could make the crust with chopped spinach for a green crust on St. Patrick’s Day.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Calories in Beet Crust Pizza with Chicken and Spinach

Serving Size: 8 slices of the pizza—I usually eat 2 normally, or 3 if I’m ravenous.

Number of Servings: 8

• Calories: 242.1

• Total Fat: 12.6 g

• Cholesterol: 37.7 mg

• Sodium: 302.0 mg

• Total Carbs: 18.3 g

• Dietary Fiber: 3.6 g

• Protein: 18.7 g

Calories per serving of Beet Crust Pizza with Chicken and Spinach

81 calories of Kroger all natural cheese pizza blend, (28.25 gram)

37 calories of Whole Wheat Flour, (0.09 cup)

34 calories of Chicken Breast (cooked), no skin, roasted, (1 ounces)

21 calories of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour – per 1/4 Cup, (0.13 serving)

16 calories of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, (0.13 tbsp)

16 calories of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, (0.13 tbsp)

12 calories of Whole Wheat Flour, (0.03 cup)

8 calories of Agave Nectar (Wholesome Organic Blue Agave), (0.13 tbsp)

5 calories of Beets, fresh, (0.13 beet (2″ dia))

5 calories of Active Dry Yeast, (0.13 tbsp)

4 calories of Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average, (21 grams)

3 calories of Spinach – Dole Baby Spinach, (0.50 oz)

1 calories of Garlic powder, (0.13 tsp)

1 calories of Oregano, ground, (0.13 tsp)

0 calories of Parsley, dried, (0.13 tbsp)

0 calories of Basil, (0.13 tbsp)

ARTISAN PIZZA

I made a beautiful and healthy pizza for supper last night with whole wheat and almond flours. I added a quarter cup of the latter to cut the carb content, but it doesn’t move the calories south at all. The mix takes 1 package yeast, 1/2 Cup warm water and 1 teaspoon actual sugar (yeast food).

Set this aside to focus on mixing up the flours—1 Cup whole wheat and 1/4 Cup almond flour. If you don’t have the almond flour, use all wheat, but the carb count is more. I didn’t use salt, since the spice mix I use has salt in it. I put a tablespoon of spice into the dough, poured the yeast mix into it, and kneaded the dough for about 5 minutes.

You might need to dust your board with flour if it begins to stick. I always work on parchment paper because I can slip that into the oven and not disturb the pizza. Shape it into a circle or rectangle, but don’t won’t if it’s not perfect. It is artisan pizza, handmade by an artist, and unique, not churned out by the thousands to be exactly alike.

I chopped 6 ounces of fresh tomatoes to put on the rolled out dough, which had a tablespoon of olive oil rubbed into it to seal it up. I left all the extra juice on the chopping board. Six ounces of Kraft Italian cheeses from the package, 8 ounces of precooked chicken, a dozen asparagus half cooked in the microwave, and a generous sprinkling of an Italian spice blend, heavy on the garlic, and it went into a preheated oven at 425 F.

I set the timer for 20 minutes and went into the living room to watch the news to find out if our present administration had given away the keys to the store. We seem to be safe for another 24 hours. As the program ended, the buzzer sounded, so I walked into my kitchen.

Once I got near, the aromas of pizza began to waft out from the oven. The good smells are the result of the food reaching an appropriate high temperature to release the scents, which are the result of chemical reactions taking place in your pizza or other recipe.

Another test for pizza doneness is the eyeball—the crust should be browned and the cheese bubbly. I tend to like my pizza crunchy, so I might cook it about 5 minutes longer than most. I also cook it on a pizza stone, which evens out the heat and keeps the crust proper.

The protein and carbohydrates are about equal in this recipe, so the pizza will stick to your ribs. Two slices is a whole meal of around 400-500 calories. It’s also very tasty. Other virtues are it’s ready in about 30 minutes and uses leftovers. It’s a good way to use up the last of the spinach, mushrooms, or any other veggie that won’t serve the whole family. Plus you can make one side meatless if someone in the family is abstaining from flesh.

The only negative is cleanup, but I’d assign that to someone who didn’t cook. For the individuals living single, I believe treating yourself to special cooking by an artisan chef is a pampering we all can appreciate, and we can save about $20 in the process. I can clean up my own pots and pans for that $20, thank you. And feel virtuous enough to either save it in my coffee can for my vacation or enjoy my fancy pants coffee without shame.

I have to admit, I no longer visit the local pizza joints as often since I discovered how simple pizza is to make. Twenty minutes of this recipe is sitting down and doing something else–this is just my style! I hope you try this Artisan Pizza Recipe. Tell me how it goes for you.

Love, Cornie

National Pumpkin Pie Day Extravaganza!

Today I’m eating homemade pumpkin pie, made completely from scratch. I’m also recuperating from a heart catheterization, which I had at some zero dark thirty hour yesterday. Since I was instructed to “take it easy,” I thought a little pie extravaganza was in order. If I can’t go Wild in real life, at least I can have some Fun in the kitchen.

First I made the pie crust with whole wheat flour and real butter. This was the first recipe to call for ice water to bind up the dough. I put the rolled out crust in the refrigerator while I made the filling also. Keeping it cool made a difference. It was quite flaky, and not a bit soggy.

I took a cheesecake recipe and melded it with a pumpkin pie recipe because I had extra ricotta I needed to use up before it went bad. Although the container said it was good until January 13, 2018, I didn’t trust this, since it’d been open in my refrigerator for two weeks already. For the pie, I used 4 servings of pumpkin (85 grams each), 4 servings of ricotta (62 grams each), 2 large eggs, 1 1/2 Tbs vanilla, 1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice, 3 Tbs Splenda, and whatever spices were on the leftover pumpkin.

As I was making the filling, I preheated the oven to 425 F.

I used the skin and all, making sure to chop the whole fine, mixing the ricotta well, and then beating the eggs into the whole. Then I added the spice and Splenda and mixed again, before pouring into the chilled pie shell. Once I smoothed over the filling, I weighed out 8 servings of Nestle’s chocolate morsels (112 grams) to spread over the top of the pie.

Then I placed the pie into the 425 F oven, and turned it down to 350 F. It cooked for 40 minutes, at which time a toothpick inserted into the Middle came out clean. I set it on a cooling rack for about ten minutes to setup and finish cooking as it cooled.Then I cut it into 8 equal pieces.

You could also make this with baked sweet potatoes, acorn squash, or canned pumpkin. If you didn’t have mild tasting ricotta cheese, you could use cottage cheese and adjust your spices. You could also blend the ingredients a tad more to get the texture smoother too.

Some of you might rather melt your chocolate topping and drizzle it in a design, but I like biting into the chunks of chocolate myself. To each his own. It’s your kitchen. You go for it! I like the contrasts of tastes. For instance, the pastry uses coarse sea salt, so every once in a while, a salty surprise explodes in your mouth unexpectedly. It’s like finding the baby Jesus in a Mardi Gras King Cake.

This is the joy of home cooking, and our loss when we depend on industrialized and mass processed foods. Even if we can’t cook from scratch daily, this is a skill we should acquire so we can appreciate the craft of those who cook for us and produce our food.