Monday, June 29, 2009

Mushroom, Ricotta, and Olive Pizza


Got your attention, yes?

This recipe is from The Complete Low Fat Cookbook but despite that fact (which some people might take as bad news) this pizza is really quite yummy.

It makes me hungry just looking at the picture. I tried my best to make it look like the one in the recipe book!

Mushroom Riccota and Olive Pizza
  • 4 Roma Tomatoes, quartered
  • 3/4 teaspoon caster (aka, superfine) sugar
  • 7 g (1/4 ounce) dry yeast or 15 g (1/2 ounce) fresh yeast
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml/4 fl oz) skim milk
  • 1 3/4 cups (220 g/7 oz) plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 750 g (1 1/2 pounds) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup (250 g/8 oz) low-fat ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons sliced black olives
  • small fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven to 210° C (415° F/Gas 6-7). Put tomato on a baking tray covered with baking paper, sprinkle with salt, cracked black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon sugar and bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are starting to darken.
Stir yeast and remaining sugar with 3 tablespoons warm water until the yeast dissolves. Cover and leave in a warm place until foamy. Warm the milk. Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the yeast and milk. Mix to a soft dough, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Leave, covered, in a lightly oiled bowl in a warm place for 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the garlic and onion until soft. Add the mushrooms and stir until they are soft and the liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Roll out to a 36 cm (15 inch) circle and transfer to a lightly greased oven or pizza tray. Spread with the ricotta, leaving a border to turn over the filling. Top with the mushrooms, leaving a circle in the center, and arrange the tomato and olives in the circle. Fold the dough edge over onto the mushrooms and dust the edge with flour. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Garnish with basil.
Serves 6

Nutrition Info: Protein 15g; Fat 7.5g; Carbs 30g; Dietary Fiber 6g; Cholesterol 20mg; 1100 kJ (265 calories)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cherry Blossoms

I love cherry blossoms.

I recently learned several polymer clay techniques and I immediately fell in love with doing "appliqué" to make a miniature work of art on a bead. First and foremost, pink cherry blossoms!

Here, I share with you my sketches and a few of my new designs in the making. I love the look and style of Chinese disc beads. The soft, flat circles are pleasing to the eye and feel good to the touch. Add a chocolate brown branch of beautiful pink cherry blossoms and I'm hooked!

By definition, appliqué is a decoration or ornament, as in needlework, made by cutting pieces of one material and applying them to the surface of another. In my case, I've made a stone-effect disc bead and instead of cutting out a branch or flowers I hand-sculpted a branch of miniature cherry blossoms and applied it to the bead.

I make the pendants out of white or gray polymer clay with inclusions of art sand to mimic a stone disc bead. I began the design using a gray stone-effect, however, subsequent experiments lead me to prefer white because I think it's a better background to show off the pinks and browns.

I had no idea of the time and tedious effort it took to use an applique technique on polymer clay but I'm in love with the results. I certainly have a higher respect for sculptors and other artists who work in fine detail than I ever have before in my life! In addition to working with this new medium, I am now learning the art of Chinese knots so I can showcase my precious pendants from a pretty satin cord.

Next up, dogwood?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Grillin' and Chillin'

I love to grill!

A few weekends ago we grilled some turkey dogs, steak medallions wrapped in turkey bacon, and Cajun boudin. I added some soaked oak chips to the coals just before I laid the meat on the grill. Smoking the meat and veggies with oak, mesquite or pecan chips is a must in my opinon.

Everything looked so good I had to take pictures! The summer we bought our first grill I went to Half Price Books and bought the book How To Grill by Stephen Raichlen. It's a very useful book for newbie grillers. I highly recommend it!

We immediately fell in love with grilling and literally grilled every single weekend for about two months straight. Every time I grill my husband raids the fridge looking for every single piece of meat and vegetable that is even remotely grill-worthy to add to the grill. It got so crowded on our grill, we eventually ended up buying two grills: one for veggies and one for meat!

I've never tried a gas grill because I love grilling with charcoal. Currently, we use plain old briquettes but I'd like to try natural wood lump charcoal because I hear it's the best choice. As you can see from the pictures, we make enough food to feed an army even though there are only two of us. We grill it all up and refrigerate the meats and veggies so we can eat them throughout the week.

My favorite things to grill: portabella mushrooms, button mushrooms, peppers, onions, salmon, and last but not least, marinated steak!

My favorite thing to do while grilling: sitting on the patio in the shade listening to the radio while drinking a beer and chatting with my husband.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Lanai Above

Free yet unsure.

It's late and my parents and brothers are asleep in their beds. I slowly slide open the door and step out on to the lanai. I breathe in the fresh air and wonder at the twilight. My nightdress flutters softly in a warm, comforting breeze. I step up to the rail -- taking in the view.

Lights twinkle.

I see the dark, hard silhouette of a Diamond in the distance. The black expanse of the ocean opens up before her. I recall this afternoon's cheerful waves running up the beach to chase coconut-scented friends playing in the surf. I can still taste the salt on my lips and feel the bright, sunny sand beneath my feet.

Tonight the sea is a new creature. I can see it. Black as ink and far beyond my reach it broods quiet and mysterious in the darkness. Intriguing. She pretends to be peaceful but I see her edge of danger glinting in the distance.


The breeze touches my face, reminding me. I'm high above the streets that bustle in the morning rush. The night noises of a sleepy city below me are faint.

I drink in my surroundings.

Uninvited memories come fluttering. A distant ache returns, back to haunt as if they never left. I grimace in a spasm of pain and disappointment. They are a part of me. They make me understand. I'd rather not have known them. I'd rather not anyone know them.

What a bittersweet reunion.

I can see the stars above me twinkling a hello. They remember me! I look for my friend, the Moon. He is always there for me. He smiles softly.

I smile back.

Such a sweet, dreamy inhale. I lean over the rail and peer down into the streets below. It's a miniature scene of tiny streetlights and trees lining the roads. I hear a whisper of the night-calls drifting up.

I see you.

Complete oblivion. You are on the lanai just below. You are covered in a thin blanket, stretched out and relaxed in slumber. You stir and turn on your side, sleeping high above paradise.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Big Huge Labs

Not big huge, adorable Labradors or big huge, smelly Lab Rats...

I've been playing with Flickr and it's 3rd party applications. Big Huge Labs is a site featuring "fd's Flickr Toys". I'm liking the Mosiac Maker. It allows you to make a mosaic from a photoset, favorites, tags, or individual digital photographs/images ~ including ways to customize colors and layouts ~ !

The only drawback to this tool is you must have a public photostream. If you have pictures listed specifically for friends, family, or private photos on your photostream you won't want to use the Mosaic Maker because the application accesses all your Flickr photos.

It's great fun and an excellent tool for bloggers!

Pictured here:
Black & White Doggie
Blue Planet Clusters
Crystal Sky Clusters
The Sentry

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Cheerful Candle: Green Tea Goodness

It was a dreary rainy day until I went to check my mail. I recently placed my very first Etsy order for a soy candle handmade by Buzzabee. The package arrived today!

Buzzabee is a fellow Etsian and blogger who makes yummy soy candles and awesome bookmarks.

This is my "Thank You" photo for Buzzabee. The 7.5 ounce candle with the cute little bee is called Green Tea Goodness. I don't know her formula but, to my nose, the candle smells warm and comforting; green and down to earth. My husband says it smells fresh, like a "day in the hammock" or "a cool breeze". Interesting! We don't even own a hammock but the scent brought the vision of relaxing in one to his mind. It just goes to show how good it smells! Also pictured is my blue tea light votive holding a "freebee" and my celadon glazed teacup and teapot. My mom and dad gave me the teapot and set of cups for my birthday last year.

I've heard a lot of good things about the benefits of choosing soy over traditional paraffin wax candles. I'm no expert on the matter but apparently there is a lot of debate over which type of candle is best for your home. If you were to walk into my house today you would sniff out a number of different types of candles. In the past I never gave a second thought to what kind of candle I was buying, however, I've decided I prefer soy or beeswax candles for no other reason than because I like them!

I love getting packages in the mail, even if I know they are coming because I ordered them! I especially enjoyed this package because the seller sent me a note right away to let me know when to expect it to ship. The shipment came via USPS Priority Mail and the candle comes in it's own cute little box, wrapped securely. As you open the box the scent of the candle greets you. I was delighted to find the "freebee" too: a Sweet Summer Melon tea light candle from Buzzabee. What a nice surprise!

Now I'm eyeballing the Rejuvenating Mint Julep! ^-^