Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pizza Dough

This is a quick, no-rise pizza dough. I altered the original so much, I think I'm going to call it mine. :) I would like to continue increasing the whole wheat flour in this recipe, but I think for now it's at a good starting point.

(If you want a crust that is completely whole wheat, I recommend this one... although I decreased the wheat germ content when I made it. The kids weren't too fond of that dough, so I came up with this one below which they really liked.)

2 cups AP unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used the white wheat)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 package)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 - 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp melted lard or olive oil
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp honey
1 cup warm water (110 F)

Combine flours, yeasts, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl; stir to combine. Min the remaining ingredients. Knead dough until all flour is mixed in thoroughly (about 3 - 5 minutes, I suppose).

Roll out crust onto a large pizza pan. Top as desired.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. If using dairy-free cheese topping, you'll need to turn the broiler on HI after the 20 minutes for about 2 - 4 minutes longer to get the cheese to melt.

Pizza Sauce here (substitute nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Try It Tuesday: Rendering Lard

Yes, you read that correctly, I rendered LARD.

Why would I do such a thing? Well, I want to cut out shortening and vegetable oils. And since I don't believe in re-inventing the wheel, I'll just point you in the direction to an article that explains why lard is better than the "normal" options.

I've already replaced vegetable oil with coconut oil for baking, but many times that coconut taste just isn't appropriate for sauteing meats or veggies. And, since we can't use real butter due to our youngest's dairy allergy, I am hoping that home-rendered lard will give us the non-hydrogenated and non-transfat option I want, while boosting flavor for meats and veggies... all while giving us a much needed healthy dose of Vitamin D! Wow, sounds like lard is going to do a lot of good things for my family! :)

So on to my experiment of rendering lard at home:

1) I used fat back and cut it into small pieces (about 1" square). This particular slab of lard was salted (and not preserved with nitrates as far as I could tell). Next time, I will remove more of the salt than I did this time.

2) After about 2 - 3 hours on low, it had mostly melted except for the "cracklins". You know it's done when the cracklins fall to the bottom instead of float. I strained it with some cheesecloth inside a collander.

Here are the cracklins (which can be eaten this way, btw, or ground up with onions and peppers into a spread, or crushed and fed to birds, etc) :

And the hot, clear liquid part - it was reddish brown:

3) I let it cool for about 20 minutes and then put it in the fridge for a more rapid cooling. By morning, it was a yellowish-white.

There is more information on rendering lard at The Nourishing Gourmet. She discusses the difference between wet and dry rendering. In her example, she uses leaf lard instead of fat back (as I used).

I haven't actually done a taste test, yet. I'll save that for another "Try It Tuesday". {grin} One last note I should make for myslef, is to not make this right before company comes over. The house does fill with the smell of pork.

All in all, I am quite please with my little experiment and look forward to trying it out!

To check out what other new things people are trying, head over to Naturally Knocked Up:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Healthier Breakfast Cookies

Although we've enjoyed the previous breakfast cookie recipe I've posted, I wanted to make it a little healthier. I had already reduced the sugar amount from the original, but now I've changed a few more things. I may even try to reduce the sugar further the next time I make them.

Here's our current recipe:

1 cup margarine or coconut oil
1 cup sucanat
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce (not sweetened)
1/2 cup peanut butter substitute
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup dry cereal (your choice)
1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips

2 Tablespoons wheat germ
2 Tablespoons hemp seed
2 Tablespoons milled flax
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit
1/2 cup nuts


Melt together the margarine or coconut oil. Add sugars and cream thoroughly.

Mix remaining ingredient and stir in any or all of the optional ingredients.

Drop by rounded Tablespoons onto lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 11-13 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.

***Just a few notes:

These cookies do NOT turn a golden brown, but they continue to crisp up after cooking. I have found that I get best results when they are still just a little gooey coming out of the oven and leave them on the cookie sheet to cool for at least 5 minutes. Then I transfer them to a cooling rack.

However, if I do over cook and they are just too crispy to enjoyably eat, they are WONDERFUL broken up into a bowl of almond milk and eaten like cereal in the morning for breakfast! They are practically oatmeal and cereal after all!

For the cereal, we use Lucky charms or Fruit Loops to add some color, but I'm sure something healthier would work, too. :)

For the peanut butter substitute, both almond butter and sunbutter gave good results, but I prefer Sunbutter for it's stronger taste.

When using this much coconut oil, it will be necessary to refrigerate these cookies or they will fall apart easily.