Friday, October 18

Roasted Cauliflower Pizza

For the regular or even attempted frugal shopper, Aldi is likely a familiar player in the monthly budget.  I honestly can't bring myself to think of grocery shopping before Aldi.  Of course, there is a learning curve.  Like the need for a quarter in your car/purse at all times, otherwise you'll be walking around the store with arms overflowing with food like a fool.  And if you have children, forget going to Aldi without a quarter.  You see, you need the quarter to unlock the carts (they're all chained together near the store)- this is one of the ways the store can cut costs.  No cart boy=less cost.  But it's incentive to walk that cart back to the store, too, that darn quarter.  Because you can't get it back until you lock the cart. And remember to bring your own bags, too. Unless, of course,  you're like my Mom and gather all the empty boxes around the aisles to carry your food in.  It's another way the store cuts costs- no bagger.  The cashier promptly (and I mean that, they're quick in there!) puts your groceries in your cart unbagged, and you must bag/box/carry them out of the store yourself.  I don't mind it- and Molly actually loves helping me bag the goods.  I like to give first time shoppers a little warning though, because honestly, my first time was so confusing!

So the real reason I shop at Aldi: the cost.  I get cereal for $1.49/box, apple cider for $2.99/gallon, and the produce prices, although changing weekly, will knock your socks off.  Butternut squash this week- $0.99/each.  Each! Not per pound! And cauliflower- $0.99 each! I'm a fall produce nut, especially when it's going to provide a meal for a buck!  Seriously, I've got some nice, cheap produce at home.  It forces me to cook more real food, and forces my family to eat more real food.  And it's inexpensive.  It's a win-win.

Onto cauliflower:  I love to roast cauliflower, just some olive oil and parchment.  It's one of those vegetables that's truly transformed by high heat for an hour.  And what better way to get your family to eat cauliflower than to roast it AND put it on a pizza?!  This pizza fit the bill around here.  My two year old asks for noodles or pizza most days, so I'm always searching for ways to serve her what she wants, but get her to eat what she needs.  This pizza is it.   And we like a Friday night pizza tradition.  So a serving of whole wheat + vegetable + cheese = a meal I can feel good about!

Roasted Cauliflower Pizza
//with garlic, honey, and a whole wheat crust//

1 head cauliflower
2 tblsp olive oil
sea salt to taste
16 oz mozzarella cheese
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
Drizzle of honey

Cut cauliflower into wedges, coat with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast on parchment lined baking sheet at 400F for about an hour, until golden brown.
When crust is ready (recipe below), and oven is still at 400F, spread crust on pizza pan/baking sheet using cornmeal to keep it from sticking.  Pour 1/4 cup olive oil on dough and spread evenly.  Sprinkle with minced garlic, mozzarella cheese, and roasted cauliflower.  Drizzle entire pizza with honey (I used a very generous drizzle).  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Honey Whole Wheat Crust

1.5cup warm water
1/3 cup honey
2 1/4 tblsp yeast (or 1 packet)
1.5 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 tblsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Combine honey and water in the bowl of a stand mixer, and sprinkle with yeast.  Allow to sit until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.  Fit mixer with dough hook, and turn on low, adding 1 cup of flour, salt and olive oil until combined.  With mixer running, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough is not sticky to touch.  Knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour, 1 tblsp at at time, as needed to keep dough from being sticky.

Put dough in bowl coated with olive oil and allow to rest at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour (I often turn my oven on to 200F, then turn it off and place bowl in oven).  Punch dough down, allow to rise again, 30 minutes.
Separate dough into 2 equal sizes and spread onto pizza pan using cornmeal to keep from sticking. Top with toppings and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
Makes 2 pizza crusts.

It's another pizza Friday around here, we're about to get some cauliflower roasting.
If you haven't yet ventured into an Aldi, I  recommend it- I don't think you'll be disappointed!
Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, October 16

Whole Wheat Brown Butter Apple Muffins

Despite all of the apple picking we've done at local orchards this fall, I still can't seem to get over the taste, crispness and flavor of a fresh, local apple.  So when a local farmer brought in a tractor-trailer load of apples from an orchard about an hour north of us, I couldn't resist a few more bushels!  Seriously, have you ever tried a Northern Spy apple?! They're the epitome of an apple:  slightly sweet, slightly tart, and the crispness is perfect!  We've been eating at least an apple a day, and the farmer's wife (I need to work on my personal farmer's wife duties) assured me they will last in my fruit bin for months- she says her last 6 months!  Sold.  And for $11 a bushel.  My husband thought I'd lost it.

So now we're a houseful of apples, and couldn't be more happy (or more healthy). :)

We've made apple pie, applesauce, apple crisp, apple cake, baked apples and apple pancakes- but these muffins are our favorite thus far!

I adapted two different recipes, both from my old cookbooks, to create a delicious yet healthy muffin that's sweet enough to use as a dessert and hearty enough for a grab-and-go breakfast.  Plus, this recipe allowed me to brown the butter, and well, brown butter is always a winner.


Whole Wheat Brown Butter Apple Muffins

2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup diced apple (1 large/2 small)
1 cup skim ricotta
1/2 cup milk
4 tblsp butter
1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

1/2 c pecans
2 tblsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F.  Lightly grease 12 muffin tin or line with parchment/muffin cups.  Add butter to sautee pan over medium heat, and melt until butter begins to crackle.  Stir frequently until butter turns a light shade of brown, this total process is quick (3-5 minutes), then add apples, brown sugar and cinnamon, and cook for about 5 minutes, until apples are tender.  Allow to cool in pan. 
In a small bowl, combine ricotta, milk, egg, vanilla until well mixed. 
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices until just mixed.  Add ricotta mixture to flour mixture until just combined, then fold in cooled apple mixture.
Fill each muffin cup to 2/3 full.
Combine filling ingredients, and top each muffin with 1/2 tsp.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until firm to the touch.



Enjoy the last few weeks of Fall, especially all it's bounties.


Happy apple picking.
Happy apple baking.


Linking up at LivingWellSpendingLess 

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Monday, October 14

Our Weekend

Saturday was the perfect day for the local Pumpkin Fest, complete with great company and apple cider.  My older sister is expecting her first baby at the end of March, and made the two hour drive home for the weekend.  She's preparing a gender-reveal party, and I am so excited!  I've caught some really cute ideas on pinterest in the past, but I've not participated in one.  She is planning the cake cutting reveal- the ultrasound tech will write boy or girl on paper, seal in an envelope, and my sister will take it to a baker who will fill a cake with either pink or blue icing, covering the cake with neutral icing.  First slice= big reveal!  We can't wait.  She's just under 3 weeks from her ultrasound! We're thinking girl!  I'm sad to admit, I don't have a single belly photo- but she's not really in the show-off-my-belly phase, at least not for the classic profile photo.  Keep growing that baby, Renee- I'll catch a profile picture soon!  And oh, how that thought makes my own uterus ache ;)

Molly had her own rules with the pumpkin bowling game- no one was injured, thankfully.  Of course, she enjoyed running throughout the pumpkin patch more than anything!  That girl has endless energy.  One of my forever friends, Erin, was home visiting from Washington, D.C. this weekend as well.  Unfortunately, she has been adding #furloughactivities to her instragram feed lately, but we were glad to have a reason to see her!  Erin and her boyfriend, Tim, joined us for dinner (and cleanup!), football, and that girl even brought us cupcakes to celebrate her birthday (she sure knows the way to Molly's heart)!  And after some quality time practicing forward rolls, Erin even revamped my knitting skills and started an infinity scarf for Molly.  I forgot how much I enjoy knitting, as I spent some of Molly's nap time working on that scarf.  It's the perfect rainy day/cold weather activity. We're always so glad to see you, Erin and Tim! :)

I make a conscious effort to include physical activity most days, but I've really been neglecting the jog.  I tend to enjoy walking with Molly in the stroller most days.  But as the rain was letting up during Molly's nap time Sunday, I couldn't resist a quick run.  We are so fortunate to live about 2 miles from my parent's house, and as my sister was still in town, it was the perfect run.  I underestimate the physical and mental enjoyment from a run.  I'm going to try to make time for more running.

The season change is the perfect reason for some new, dark nail polish.  As we were working on potty training, it was the chance to touch up those toenails!  I'm constantly amazed at the changes a toddler makes in even a few short months.  During the summer, I had to paint Molly's toenails during her nap, because she refused to sit still long even to have them painted, and couldn't refrain from touching the wet paint.  This weekend, I explained not to touch them, and she didn't!  That simple!  I'm really beginning to love this age :)

And, of course, lawns are full of leaf piles.  I didn't even have to instruct the jumping.  As soon as the leaves began forming somewhat of a pile, she was running and diving into them!  I love watching her deep in play- it's such a healthy, wholesome act.  The mind of a child is so refreshing.  And I need the reminder to take things a little less serious some days.  To live and be in the moment.  It's something children do so well, and likely a large reason why they are so happy, genuinely happy.  So that's my goal for this week: to live and be in the moment, especially when with my. No thinking ahead of lists and chores and deadlines- just in the moment. 

Have a great week,