Cooking 101

House of Bedlam went on the road last week with our very first cooking class! Thanks to all the little chefs that helped make it a huge success.

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Their enthusiasm was contagious as they rolled dough, slurped up sauce, sprinkled cheese, and got really really messy! Our dessert was the hit of the party and even though a lot of chocolate ended up on their faces most made it on to the plate!

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As you can see a delicious time was had by all:

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Interested in planning a mini-cooking class with your kids? Are you located in Lower Westchester?

Contact House of Bedlam for more information.

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Snow Day Circuits

Spending a snow day with three high-energy kids is a lot like circuit training at the gym. Our typical snow day workout goes like this:

Wake-up to a quick warm-up of milk and cartoons. Then it’s time to fuel up before heading out to shovel. Breakfast is important because getting on snow pants is a workout in itself. At best a 20 minute exercise, at worst a 45 minute drenching cardio segment. After driveway is cleared, it’s back inside for some hockey practice. No relaxing, maybe a quick water break to rehydrate. Once someone gets hit with a stick it’s time to move on to another activity. From the basement we rotate to the kitchen station for a little upper body work. A recipe involving dough is my preferred mode since there’s lots of kneading and rolling involved. And if we make the dough from scratch it means we can get in some dough punching after it rises. Bonus!

After kitchen time and a quick lunch we clear up and prepare for another cardio burst. With the lure of hot chocolate or a pack of Pokemon cards it’s back into snow pants for a brisk walk to town. Getting them back home needs another incentive. Promises of ice cream or a yummy dessert usually does the trick to motivate them to pick up the pace.

Back home the dough punching or rolling usually turns into “brother punching”. To cool things off we get in some mental exercise with a board game or two. This is the toughest part of the workout – but we are heading into the home stretch. After our last burst of energy we settle in for some screen time. While the boys zone out to TV or video games I can get dinner on table. Our last activity? A much anticipated dinner of serious carbo-loading and off to bed. And hopefully to school the next day!

Leftover Deep Dish Pizza (a perfect snow day recipe)                

Ingredients

For the dough:

½ cup warm water, about 105 degrees

½ packet active dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

¾ cup room temperature water

3 Tbsp. olive oil

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1 ½ tsp salt

For the toppings:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup tomato or pasta sauce

1 cup roasted sweet potato cubes (optional)

1 cup chopped leftover meatballs (optional)

1 cup shredded mozzarella

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Method

Mix warm water, yeast and sugar in a measuring cup. Let stand and dissolve until yeast starts to bubble and swell, about 5 minutes. Add room temperature water and oil, stir to combine.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and mix until a ball is formed. This can be done in a food processor as well. Dough will be very sticky and might need a little bit more flour but add in small amounts. Dust work surface with flour and knead dough to form a smooth round ball. Add a few sprinkles of flour as needed.

Place dough in a large bowl coated with oil and cover with plastic wrap.

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Let rise for at least 2 hours until doubled in size.

IMG_1985Punch dough down and divide in half, reserving one for another snowy day. Simply wrap the extra dough in plastic and refrigerate or freeze. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly oil a round cake pan, 9” diameter. Press the dough to fit evenly into the pan building up a lip around the edge of the pan. Let the dough rest a few minutes if it is snapping back. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork several times and then bake for about 5 minutes until dough is set.

IMG_1987Remove from oven and gently press down any bubbles that have formed.

Brush crust with the olive oil and add toppings. First layer the sauce and about half of the mozzarella.

IMG_1994Then toppings of your choice.

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Top with remaining mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan.

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Return to oven and bake until crust is lightly browned and cheese is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

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IMG_2001And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Wow, work of art”

Dylan (age 5): “That rised!”

Liam (age 5): “You gotta love cheese!”

Snow days are never easy but if you have this to look forward to they’re not so bad!

 (recipe for pizza dough adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated)

Luvo Flatbreads – Product Review

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could get food from a box that was not filled with preservatives and chemicals? Believe it or not a company called Luvo has developed a line of convenience foods that accomplishes just that. Normally, boxed frozen food leaves much to be desired, in my opinion, and I prefer to limit our intake of processed foods as much as possible. (That being said I won’t pretend there aren’t a few boxes of mac and cheese in my pantry.) So I was excited to try Luvo and see if they delivered on the promise of healthy, great-tasting, and convenient food.

ABOUT LUVO

Luvo was founded on a simple idea: people should love their food – how it tastes, how it encourages a healthier lifestyle, and how it supports a more sustainable planet. Part of their mission is to support farmers and suppliers with people-, animal- and planet-friendly practices. The company uses anti-biotic free meat and poultry, and non-GMO ingredients whenever possible.

THE TASTING

Our shipment of Luvo flatbreads contained six varieties: Apple Cinnamon Ricotta, Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta, Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion & Mushroom, and Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella.

We decided to sample the breakfast flatbreads the very next day. I was looking forward to simply turning on the oven and just popping the flatbreads in. No buttering toast or cutting fruit! I envisioned a peaceful morning with time to linger over a cup of coffee before getting the kids off to school.

The Verdict is:

Although cooking these breakfast flatbreads was convenient I’m not sure if they would work in our house during the school week. Between the cooking and heating and cooling phase, it took a little over 20 minutes. A lot longer than it takes for toast. However, they would make a great option for the weekend and I did get to enjoy my coffee while they were cooking!

Apple-Cinnamon w/Apricot Ricotta

Apple-Cinnamon w/Apricot Ricotta

The Apple Cinnamon was a little too sweet and the boys thought it would be better suited as dessert instead of a breakfast choice. But everyone loved the bread and ate most of the crust edges.

Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta

Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta

I really liked this one but I was in the minority. Too much green for breakfast was the consensus. Again, it was all about the wood-fired crust which crisped up beautifully in the oven. So far I was sold but the boys were not yet convinced…

Next up were the appetizer flatbreads:

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom

Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant

Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant

Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella

Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella

These got much better reviews and some of the comments were:

“I like the pizza one”

“Too many little vegetable parts”

“Bread is best part”

“Pizza is my favorite”

“Did Derek Jeter really cook these?”

The Tomato and Mozzarella was the clear winner. I thought all flavors were delicious and I would definitely serve them as an appetizer at our next party. I plan on keeping a few in my freezer on hand for the holidays. They were so easy! Just simply cut them up and drizzle with the balsamic glaze for a great presentation.

Where can I find Luvo products?

Luvo products are sold in major supermarkets. Visit Luvo Inc. to find a store near you. Price for flatbreads range from $4.99 to $5.99 for a box of two. Besides flatbreads, the company also makes burritos, breakfast and dinner entrees.

And if your kids aren’t convinced try telling them about Luvo’s latest partnership with Derek Jeter, who joined the company as Brand Development Officer. My boys were definitely impressed and I believe it was the reason they were willing to try the Market Vegetable version!

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

My Little Foragers

A few weeks ago I did a story on Foraging With Kids. As with all educational things I do with my children I never know if it has any impact. So I was taken by surprise when out on a nature hike the boys suddenly screamed “ONIONS!” They had actually spotted wild garlic, which look and smell similar to small onions. All three vigorously began yanking and tugging to break some bulbs loose from the soil. We harvested a few sizable pieces and Dylan insisted he would keep them safe in his pocket, dirt and all, until we got home.

After a lively discussion we unanimously decided a pizza sauce would be the perfect thing to make with our wild edibles. Nothing hard about this recipe and a much better alternative to jarred sauce. With some simple ingredients, tomatoes, garlic, and some spices (plus, I snuck in a zucchini), we had a delicious sauce in no time. And the boys were thrilled that they had eaten off the land. I can almost guarantee they would not have eaten this zucchini sauce had they not had a part in harvesting one of the ingredients. I will confess, I supplemented with garlic cloves purchased at the supermarket.

Now if you live in the suburbs you might be familiar with this plant (or weed as most people would refer to it) as it tends to invade lawns in clumps and take over quickly. This is how I first became acquainted with it, although I would strongly advise against eating anything from a lawn that has fertilizer on it.

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Zucchini Sausage Pizza

Ingredients

1 zucchini, peeled, cut in large chunks

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp basil

½ tsp pepper

1 lb. sausage meat, removed from casings

1 package pizza dough

All-purpose flour, for dusting

2 cups, shredded mozzarella cheese

Method

Puree zucchini and diced tomatoes until smooth. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Then add garlic and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant. Do not brown.

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To the garlic, add pureed vegetables, salt, sugar, oregano, basil, and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to a simmer. Let sauce reduce by at least half, this will take about 45 minutes. The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for 3-4 days.

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Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a skillet and brown the sausage, breaking it up, until cooked thoroughly. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lightly coating it with olive oil. Roll out pizza dough on a floured surface and transfer to baking sheet.

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Next add the zucchini sauce in an even layer onto the dough.

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Then top with sausage.

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And lastly, sprinkle liberally with cheese.

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Bake in oven until underside of the pizza is crispy, approximately 12-15 minutes.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “That’s some good stuff”

Liam (age 5): “Only put a little on mine”

Dylan (age 5): “I love our onion sauce!”

Can you guess who made these?

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Grilling Spree

Memorial Day marks the official first weekend of summer and unofficial grilling season. After a long, cold winter I was pretty excited to get outside and flex my grilling muscles so I went on a bit of a spree. I grilled avocado for guacamole, I grilled bacon for breakfast, and I even tried grilling fruit. But the best dish we had all weekend was the grilled pizza.

Since my homemade pizza/ ketchup was due to expire soon, I decided pizza was a must for our first BBQ of the season. Pizza is one of those superfoods that my kids never ever tire of. It’s right up there with grilled cheese and chicken nuggets.

I broke out the rolling pins (we have 4), lined the boys up and we got to work. If you like to cook with your kids I highly recommend you invest in some rolling pins. It’s the cheapest babysitter in town. They keep my kids busy and happy for at least ten minutes, sometimes, even fifteen before they start fighting with them. Enough time to heat up the grill and get my own dough rolled.

Easy Peasy Pizza

Ingredients

1 package pizza dough (buy 2 if you have some little helpers)
Flour, for dusting
2 Tbsp olive oil, for brushing
Salt & Pepper
½ cup homemade pizza sauce
½ cup grated fresh parmesan or ½ cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp fresh parsley

 
Method
Preheat grill to high. Divide pizza dough into eight small pieces. Dust your surface and rolling pin with some flour so dough doesn’t stick. Roll each piece out to desired thinness. If dough is springing back just let it rest a few minutes and start again. When dough is rolled place on baking sheet.

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Add oil to small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Brush one side of dough with olive oil and place oil side down on heated grill. Cook about 2-3 minutes until dough begins to get bubbly and is lightly browned.

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Brush top side with some oil and flip. Cook another 2-3 minutes until crust is lightly charred and then transfer crusts back to baking sheet. Spoon one tablespoon of sauce on each crust. Less is more on the toppings. Too much sauce will make your pizza soggy. Add parmesan cheese and oregano, or ricotta cheese and parsley.

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Place baking sheet onto grill and close cover, heat an additional 2-3 minutes, until crust is crispy and cheese is melted. Enjoy!

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And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “Thumbs down on that ricotta stuff! But I love the other one”
Liam (age 5): “This pizza is GREAT”
Dylan (age 5): “What kind of cheese is THAT?”
Parmesan was the clear winner but the ricotta was also GREAT!

 

For my local readers:

Great event this weekend at Fairway Market in Pelham Manor!

Saturday May 31st. 1-3pm

Funny Food Workshop Breakfast Event – Bill Wurtzel, author of “Funny Food 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfast” teaches families how to create funny food art.

Register at customer service or online at www.fairwaymarket.com.