Category Archives: cooks

My Favorite Pizza Dough Recipe

Making pizza can is fun and tasty. And especially if you make your own dough, it’s cheap. My go-to dough recipe is by Anna Maria Volpi and I recommend her helpful step-by-step photos for beginners. The dough is easy to handle and I use it to make three thin pizzas. My abbreviated version is below.

Also, my number 1 tip for making CHEAP pizza dough is to buy yeast in bulk. I did the math and the little 3-portion packets in the baking aisle at the supermarket are – wait for it – 20 times more expensive than the $4.39 2 pound package I bought at Sam’s Club.

Recipe: Pizza Dough

Summary: Adapted from Anna Maria Volpi’s Recipe to use a stand mixer.


  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups 110 degree water
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • healthy shake of garlic powder (optional)


  1. Measure the warm water in a measuring cup, sprinkle the yeast on top, stir, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer (like a Kitchen Aid). Stir in the garlic powder.
  3. Make an indentation in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the olive oil and yeast/water mixture.
  4. Mix with the beater blade until all the ingredients are combined, then switch to the dough hook and allow the mixer to knead slowly for 3 minutes or so. The dough should hold together nicely and not stick to the bowl. The proportions are usually perfect for me, but you could sprinkle in a bit more flour or water if it’s too wet or dry.
  5. By now the mixer bowl is basically clean, so I remove the dough, rub the inside of the bowl with olive oil, return the dough, flip it over to coat it all with olive oil, and make a cross in the top with a knife.
  6. Cover the bowl with a damp, clean kitchen towel and allow it to sit until doubled, about an hour and a half. I usually put my oven on the lowest setting (170) for a couple of minutes, turn it off, and then put the bowl in the slightly warmed oven to rise.

A Home Beer Tasting

My husband and a friend decided  to have a beer tasting to celebrate their birthdays, which are a week apart.  What a good excuse!

With all the beer lovers we know, it was difficult to keep the guest list small enough to fit in our dining room, and we wanted to try a somewhat serious sit-down tasting. We ended up with just short of 20 guests and asked each to bring a 750ml bottle of beer, which works out to a little over an ounce per person. We even ordered a case of beer tasting glasses and I designed a beer tasting sheet (PDF).

Since this was our first tasting, we decided not to specify a style or to taste blind. When guests arrived, we grouped their beers into themed flights. We spontaneously paired these groupings with the food – recipes are at the bottom of this entry:

  • Paler ales and soft pretzels (our first time making them!)
  • Belgians and Liege waffles
  • IPAs and buffalo chicken dip
  • Porter with meatballs
  • Dessert-type beers with stout brownies

We also had plenty of snacks on hand, including sriracha popcorn (pop and toss with sriracha and melted butter), bacon caramel popcorn, cheese plates, hummus with vegetables, and an assortment of chips and nuts.

If I had to choose a favorite beer from the night, it would be the Collaboration No. 3 – Stingo, a joint brew by Boulevard and Pretty Things.


  • Bacon Caramel Popcornbacon caramel popcorn recipe
  • Soft Pretzels: via Tasting Table. I let the dough rise all day at room temperature.
  • Liege Waffles: used the recipe on the package of Lars Pearl Sugar because it was so much simpler than others I found. I let it rise 3 hours or so, longer than recommended
  • Buffalo Chicken Dip: Pressure cooked 5 skinless chicken thighs on high for 15 minutes in some Franks’ Red Hot sauce. Shredded and mixed with a package of cream cheese, 1/2 cup mayo, 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot, 1 cup shredded cheddar, season to taste and add more hot sauce if desired. Filled in ramekins, sprinkled with blue cheese, baked at 350 until bubbling.
  • Stout Brownies: I used this recipe but wasn’t too happy with it. It tasted great (how could it not?) but it completely stuck to the foil and was a total mess.

Lemony Arugula / Shaved Zucchini Salad

This improvised salad turned out to be my favorite of the summer…so far. We had a little bit of delicious Castelmagno cheese left from our last visit to Persimmon Provisions and it was perfect on this salad, but it would have been great without cheese too. Lemony Arugula Zucchini Salad

Recipe: Lemony Arugula / Shaved Zucchini Salad


  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups (packed) arugula
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1/2 cup capers, drained (or less, to taste)
  • 1 oz salty aged cheese, crumbled or shaved (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice, mustard, and sugar until well combined. Taste and add more sugar if it is too acidic. Stir in the lemon zest.
  2. Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking. You can always use more oil, too, if you’re in the mood.
  3. Add arugula to the bowl and, with your hands, mix and massage the dressing into it.
  4. With a vegetable peeler, peel the entire zucchini into long ribbons (you can just do it over the bowl – it’s going in there anyway).
  5. Add capers and toss to combine.
  6. Divide into bowls and top with cheese, if desired.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s) Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 2

Restaurant Leftovers

Restaurant portions can be huge, so I’ll often end up with leftovers. Some people have a serious aversion to leftovers (I don’t get it), and others eat cold pizza or Chinese food for breakfast the next day (I don’t get that either).

My favorite thing to do with leftovers? Freeze them in small portions for work lunches. I’ve talked about my dedicated work lunch freezer drawer, and while most of it is home cooked, it’s great to bring along a memory from a favorite restaurant. Yesterday was the first afternoon warm enough to eat my lunch outside, and I enjoyed Eggplant and Shrimp with Garlic Sauce over rice, from Gold Stone. We’d been over a month ago and it was great to revisit the tender eggplant and flavorful sauce.

First Al Fresco Lunch of 2013


Another way to enjoy leftovers is by transforming them into another dish. We came home from Gold Stone with a lot of rice, so I made the extra into rice pudding – just simmer with milk, sugar, raisins, and spices for a half hour or so. Sometimes I’ll bring home a choice piece of meat or fish to eat on a salad the next day. If  you’re not fond of leftovers, why not make a completely new meal out of them?

Red Quinoa and Greens with Fried Tofu Triangles

It’s always a pleasure to unpack a delicious, healthy lunch on a Monday. Today’s was leftovers from a dinner I cooked on Saturday – I enjoyed it and thought I’d share the recipe.

Red Quinoa and Yukina Savoy with Fried Tofu Triangles


Red Quinoa and Greens with Fried Tofu Triangles


  • 1 cup Red Quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1 bunch greens, coarsely chopped (I used Yukina Savoy)
  • 1 package of extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp seasoning salt (I used Texas Hot Salt), or your own mixture of salt and spices
  • 4 tablespoons oil, divided


  1. Prepare the tofu: If you have time, remove the tofu from the package and press between two plates lined with paper towels. This is not absolutely necessary but will help dry it out.
  2. Cook the quinoa: bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a strainer, then add to the boiling water along with the 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the quinoa grains have unfurled. (Not all the water may be absorbed).
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the greens: heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan/skillet and sautee the shallot over medium heat until softened, but not browned. Add the greens and continue to sautee, turning the heat down to avoid burning the greens.
  4. Assemble the quinoa: drain the cooked quinoa using a fine strainer and add to the greens. Taste and season as needed.
  5. Fry the tofu: Cut the tofu into triangles. On a plate or in a shallow bowl, combine the flour and seasoned salt. In a skillet, heat 3 tbsp of oil until shimmering. Dip each piece of tofu in the flour mixture and fry, not crowding the pan too much. Flip once when lightly browned (should take 3-5 minutes per side). Remove to a plate (you can keep warm in a toaster oven if necessary).
  6. Serve the tofu triangles on top of the quinoa.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Freezer Lunches

There’s a drawer of my freezer just dedicated to lunches (and these days, dinners eaten in the student lounge before my night classes). Sometimes I make a big batch of something especially for weekday lunches, other times I just pack up dinner leftovers. I just took a peek at the selection and I have to say, I’m pretty excited to reach for a lunch this month:

  • Hungarian ragout and dumplings
  • Rabbit in mustard sauce w/ polenta
  • Chicken with tomatillo sauce
  • Chinese beef w/ rice
  • Chinese chicken w/ rice
  • Chinese eggplant shrimp w/ rice
  • Pigeon Peas and rice
  • Chicken / rice / beans
  • Senate bean soup
  • Chorizo and bean stew
  • Stir fry (w/ chicken)
  • Celery root / potato soup
  • Jambalaya
  • Beef stew and polenta
  • Moroccan chicken
  • Black bean burger
  • Pork fried rice
  • Empanadas (w/ turkey, raisin, olive filling)

Grab and Go

An older photo – but this is how my lunches are usually stored – I love the Ziploc twist & lock containers and have yet to have one leak.

Best Recipes for Rolled Oats

Ten pounds of organic oats? When I picked up my order from the Urban Greens Buying Club, the bag was bigger than I thought. But to my surprise, I went through all ten pounds in a couple of months, and oats eclipsed flour on my list of pantry staples.

Here are some of the recipes that had me loving oats this winter. What about you?


Homemade Granola Bars Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

My 2012 Go-To Holiday Potluck Recipe

I’ve baked quite a few cookies this winter as usual, but my go-to potluck recipe has been cookie dough dip. I saw the recipe posted somewhere and dismissed it as a healthy concoction that probably wouldn’t taste good. A couple of weeks later, I was still thinking “can that really be good?” and decided to give it a try.

And it was good! I tested it on family first and then brought it to four parties. I can just about make it in my sleep. So far it’s gotten quite a positive reaction, though people are probably put off when I stand over their shoulder the whole time asking “Do you like it? Do you like it? What do you think is in it?”

(By the way, it’s made of chickpeas.)

Recipe: Cookie Dough Dip at Chocolate Covered Katie

Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

Maybe this is blasphemy, but I think turkey is turkey and the sides are the exciting part – especially when your guests are not stodgy and you can play with flavors.

Thanksgiving Sides

Last year we roasted potatoes, carrots, and brussels sprouts, and made creamed turnips and these two winners:

For cranberry sauce, I like to make a traditional cooked version as well as a fresh version with orange.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving sides?

Pumpkin Oatmeal

Like the rest of the northeast, I’m in a pumpkin thrall when fall finally rolls around. Pumpkin lattes are too sweet for me and I’m not a daily pastry eater, so my favorite way to get my pumpkin fix is this oatmeal.

If you’ve never made oatmeal in a large batch, try it! This morning I was wondering how instant oatmeal even exists when one can invest just 5 minutes of prep to make delicious, healthy oats for the whole week.


This recipe makes 4 large servings or 5-7 small servings (perfect for the work week). Vary the salt, sugar, and spices to your taste. I love spices so I am heavy handed.

Recipe: Pumpkin Oatmeal


  • 1 cup regular (not quick) oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar (you could substitute maple syrup)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (note – you could substitute all 3 spices with pumpkin pie spice)


  1. Bring water and salt to a boil.
  2. Add the oats and raisins and simmer for 5 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed by the oats.
  3. Stir in the pumpkin puree, sugar, and spices and cook, stirring once or twice, or 5 more minutes or until the consistency is to your liking.
  4. To reheat, if refrigerating: Place one serving in a bowl and break it up with a spoon. Stir in a few tablespoons of half and half, milk, or water. Microwave for 1.5 minutes, pausing once to stir.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4-7