After school, I attacked my planned whole living experiences for the day: homemade peanut butter (I actually made the PB yesterday, but it's easier just to lump it in to today), Rich Peanut Butter Bars (aka, brownies), and whole wheat pizza with "special" sauce.
Homemade Peanut Butter
We have been pretty good about buying "natural" peanut butter over the last couple years; however, those jars of "natural" peanut butter still include a lot of sugar and are still somewhat processed to increase shelf life. So I figured...what do I have to lose giving it a try?
It was SO easy.
I dumped a pound of peanuts into the food processor and turned it on. After the peanuts started to break up, I dribbled a bit of oil over the mixture through the little hole thingy at the top. I let the food processor keep going until the peanuts turned to paste. The kids thought that was pretty cool. Then I dribbled a couple teaspoons of the delicious honey I got at the farm yesterday on to the paste.
That was it. And it's good! Michael even said it tastes better than the "normal" peanut butter. The only one who doesn't like it, surprisingly, is my best eater, Audrey. She's not so fond of the straight peanut taste. But 3 out of 4 ain't bad.
Rich Peanut Butter Bars (aka, Brownies)
I decided I needed to put the homemade peanut butter into some sort of snack for the kids today. I still don't have my honey granules from Bread Beckers, so I went to the Bread Beckers cookbook for help. I have a bucket of Sucanat which came with us from Georgia, so I found a recipe that called for it. Sucanat is evaporated cane juice. Regular Sucanat has a rather strong flavor, so it cannot always be substituted for refined sugar. It can almost always be substituted for brown sugar, however. If you don't have Sucanat, use regular sugar or even light brown sugar.
Anyway, this recipe from the Bread Beckers cookbook already calls for Sucanat, and the end product turns out very brownie-esque...which the kids really liked (with the exception of the Princess who still had an issue with that peanutty peanut butter). They were very quick and easy too!
Rich Peanut Butter Bars
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. Sucanat
1 c. whole wheat flour (I used hard white)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. cocoa
1 t. vanilla
Melt butter and peanut butter together. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well blended. Press into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake in preheated 350 oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.
So I got stuck with dinner duty tonight. Ugh! Even though I am only at this time focusing on healthifying snacks, I thought I'd take the challenge and make dinner worth it too. And all I had to work with was some ground beef. So I decided on pizza.
The kids always opt for cheese pizza, sometimes with some kind of meat. They don't opt for pizza with green peppers, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, or onions. So I waited until they went outside to play, and I dumped big hunks of green pepper, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, and onion into my food processor and pureed it a la Deceptively Delicious style.
I then added tomato sauce (someday I am going to try my hand at making my own tomato sauce) and threw it in a saucepan. I added seasoning, a couple of bay leaves, and some molasses. Molasses takes away some of the acidity of the tomato sauce and enhances the flavors.
OK, so I don't really know if that's what it does, but my mom used to always add it to her sauces. Plus I wanted to sound all Food Network-y. But here is something I do know about molasses (I read it anyway): Blackstrap molasses is the only kind that has any nutritionl value.
Anyway. Then the crust. This recipe comes from Marilyn Moll who owns Urban Homemakers, which is where I purchased my grain mill, Bosch mixer, and other start-up bread making stuff. This is quite possibly the easiest pizza crust I've ever made.
I had a sudden panic attack at 4:00 this afternoon because I hadn't yet looked over the pizza dough recipe, and I worried that I wouldn't have enough time to make it, let it rise, shape it, let it rise again...BUT this dough does not need to rise! Here is the recipe:
Basic Pizza Crust
4 c. whole wheat flour (I used hard white)
1 T. yeast
1 T. olive oil
1 T. honey
1 1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. warm water
If you have a pizza stone, preheat it now. If you don't have a pizza stone, get one; pizzas are so much better from a stone! I only have one and need to get another one because 1 pizza doesn't feed all these growing children anymore.
OK, so put the warm water in your mixer bowl and then add the rest of the ingredients (maybe go easy on the flour at first - not all at once). With your dough hook, mix ingredients and add enough flour to make a stiff dough that pulls cleanly from the side of the bowl. Continue to knead with the dough hook for 3-5 minutes until dough is elastic.
Roll out pizza dough on cornmeal and then place on heated stone. Brush with olive oil and prick with a fork. Pre-bake in 400 oven for 5-8 minutes.
Remove and add sauce, toppings, and cheese. Bake about 10-15 minutes.
So why no photos of my masterpiece pizzas? Well, if you know me, you know cooking is really not my thing. My pizzas did not look all that pretty. But they sure tasted good!