Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pizza from the Weber Kettle Pizza Kit

I must admit that I do have a love affair with Pizza. It has been a favorite if mine as long as I can remember. As a teenager I frequently ate it for breakfast. For now I must give my Stud Muffin the credit for finding our latest food gadget, the Weber Kettlepizza Kit. I thought what a clever idea to be able to turn your Weber grill into a wood burning pizza oven. So next thing you know Mama is on a mission and our trials and mistakes will you help you get off to a great start if you want to try it as well. I will confess that it is a good bit of work, so this is only for the serious pizza lovers who want to make it at home.

I found out that fast, easy and great tasting dough can be made from Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast. I tried the store locator online but none of the grocery stores that said they sold it in their store actually did. I finally found it in my local super Wal-Mart in Frederick. We tried many different dough recipes and this one won hands down. Another one that was great was a pizza dough recipe that I made in my bread machine set on manual, but you do need to proof the dough for several hours or overnight.
It came as a 3 pack and cost $1.34. I get two pizza crusts from one package since we like a thin crust pizza, you will only get one pizza crust if you like it regular. Just follow the directions on the back of the pack and they even have videos you can watch online as stated on the back of the packs. If you want a thick crust you will need to play with making 2 packs at a time. I can't help you with that since I never eat a thick crust pizza and I welcome feed back on that.

Also yellow corn meal is very important!!! Hopefully my constant nagging during this blog post will drum that into your head. You will need to generously coat your pizza stone and your pizza peeler with it, this will let the dough slide off without sticking. I also like to spray my crust with a thin layer of olive oil before I put my sauce on. I make my pizza right on top of the pizza peeler so that it has one less transfer, the hardest part.

Your next important selection will be your sauce that you choose for your pizza. I can not emphasize the importance of a good tasting sauce, it truly can make what would be a perfect tasting pizza just barely OK. There is so much to choose from so use your favorite jar of sauce or canned pizza sauce. I must admit to you that my best tasting pizza came from my homemade spaghetti sauce. The sauce is your choice! Make sure you do not put it on too heavily or your cheese will right slip off of your pizza. As you can see in the pic above all you need is a nice thin layer.

 Don't forget to generously cover the peeler with corn meal for ease of sliding onto the pizza stone. Also do not make it too far in advance, make it just before you need to place it onto the pizza stone or you risk it sticking.
You will also need a chimney charcoal starter to get to your coals cooking quickly since you do not want to use charcoal lighter fluid. You will also need wood chunks to place on top once you get the coals going. We bought our chunks at Home Depot but make sure you buy a big bag of the larger chunks. You will be surprised how fast the big chunks burn off, those small pieces would disintegrate.

You can see our pizza cooking in the oven. IMPORTANT TIP ~~~ Make sure that your stone height is correct by putting the grill grate inside the Keetlepizza ring on the bottom 3 handle bolts. This will keep your stone level with the opening. Also your stone will get all discolored as it seasons, not to worry. Make sure you have cornmeal on the stone so the pizza slides easily. Your pizza will need to be turned after just a few minutes because it is much hotter in the back then it is in the front. Also I recommend not putting on any toppings until you have mastered your pizza peeler skills. Even so no more than 3 toppings per pizza, it is harder to navigate if you use a thin crust pizza vs a regular crust. Also if the pizza developes a bubble in the crust I like to pop it right away with a long bar b q meat fork.
 If you choose to try the Kettlepizza kit you will be rewarded with a great tasting pizza at home. I used Sargento grated reduced fat 4 cheese Italian blend. So my pizza was lower in fat and to help boost the flavor I sprinkled a little bit of grated Asiago cheese on top and some garlic powder before cooking. My pizza cooked in only 5 minutes and look at that golden brown crust. Yum yum!!!

I watched several videos on youtube and found them helpful to get me started with my new adventure. Please do your homework and you too will feel much better prepared. Also make sure you read the suggestion sheet ( directions), that comes with the Kettlepizza kit. Oh and don't forget the corn meal. 

  • 1 pack of Fleishmann's pizza crust yeast
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, & a bit more for dusting
  • 1/1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup very warm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • pizza sauce
  • grated cheese, I used Sargento reduced fat 4 cheese Italian blend
  • garlic powder
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • grated Asiago, optional
  • corn meal
  • olive oil spray
  • optional toppings
  • Weber Kettlepizza Kit for your Weber grill with accessories 
  • Wood chunks meant for cooking on grills
  • Kingsford charcoal
  • Charcoal Chimney
  • High temp cooking mitts

The amount of the dough ingredients is enough for 2 thin crust pizzas or 1 regular crust pizza. I love to eat a sprinkling of Parmesan on top of my pizza.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fresh Lima Bean Soup

I just love the sweet buttery flavor of Lima Beans. Did you know that they are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and are cholesterol - lowering from the plant sterols. Whew! That makes the Lima a win win in my eyes. I can't bring myself to eat something healthy unless it tastes good as well. You can hit the jackpot on the Lima Bean when it comes to taste and nutrition value. My Stud Muffin shucked the 4 1/2 cups of these buttery treasures for me. I lured him on with the promise of fresh Lima Bean soup. Enjoy this nice hearty buttery flavored soup where once again I worked my magic on cutting back on fat, but not on flavor. Trick your fat cells into singing. Enjoy!

  • 4 1/2 cups of freshly shucked Lima Beans*
  • 1/4 cup chicken base
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup yellow meat potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Smart Balance original margarine
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half
In a large 8 qt soup pot over medium heat add first 8 ingredients. Stir well and bring to a low boil, then set to low heat and cover with lid on and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Whisk together Half & Half and cornstarch until there are no longer any lumps left. Now while stirring the soup slowly pour in the Half & Half mixture, constantly stirring. mixture will thicken up immediately. Turn off heat and serve immediately.

*I understand access to fresh Lima Beans is limited and seasonal so use some frozen ones if you do not have access to the fresh ones.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mushroom - Miso Pasta

I found this treasure published in my local paper The Frederick News Post. It caught my eye because it uses two of my favorite food groups, mushrooms and pasta. All I can say is that it is doubly special because it is scrumptious and healthy too. I just love that! Needless to say my Stud Muffin is my hardest critic and he loved it as well. The creaminess of this dish is wonderful without any adding fat and calories. Not to mention my love affair that I have with mushrooms. I must say my all time favorites are, number one maitake and second place is cremini. So enjoy this rich creamy tasting pasta dish without the guilt of a high fat dish, sin no more.

  • 1 12oz. box of Ronzoni Smart Taste Penne Rigate
  • 5 Tbsp of salted butter
  • 12 oz (or more if you are a mushrooms addict), of maitake and cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine, the drinkable kind
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. white miso paste
  • 9 oz. of chicken broth
  • 4 Tbsp. of nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. of Dijon mustard, optional
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile in a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter, allowing it to bubble and cook until it turns a nutty brown, about 5 minutes. Watch it carefully because butter burns easily! Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the wine, stir and scrape to deglaze the skillet, simmer for about 1 minute to cook off the alcohol.

Whisk in the miso into the chicken broth and cook for 2 -3 minutes in the skillet, then add the nutritional yeast (this adds a cheesy like flavor), and stir until the sauce is uniform. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the skillet from the heat and toss into the cooked pasta.

Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of a cookbook, "Supermarket Healthy." This is my version of her scrumptious recipe.