Thursday, March 22, 2012


O pizza cravings, I wish you would leave me be.

I can no longer watch Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives without needing to make pizza this minute, right now, or someone call for delivery I need pizza! Pizza is one of my most favorite foods, it's up there with chocolate. I know, I know, chocolate has a competitor in my world.

I used to dream of having a pizza oven in my kitchen, I just wanted that wood oven pizza taste and crust.

Why does pizza taste so good from a wood burning pizza oven? Maybe it's the handmade crust, or the roasted toppings, or for the fact it doesn't come out of a box with greasy stains. Fresh is always better.

I know each time I would order it at a restaurant it never would be a perfect circle. Sometimes the crust would be falling off the plate and it would resemble more of a square than circle. The art of pizza, now that would be a winning coffee table book.

The edges would be a little dark, the cheese nicely brown, and always piping hot. Each bite, delicious. Something I could not recreate at home...until now.

Luckily I was able to put my blueprints away for "project pizza kitchen" when I learned how to properly use my baking stone. I no longer order pizza, I make it and it's perfect. Took a few tries, there was many oven cleaning days at first but I have mastered the pizza cooking/baking/eating skill.

First off buy a pizza stone. If you do not have one, well than I am sorry, go buy one. You will also need a pizza peel as well or use the underside of a cookie sheet but I recommend the peel.

I love two types of hot stones, hot stone massages and hot stone pizza pans. As you can see mine is very well used. Place your pizza stone in a cold oven, close and p
reheat to 500 degrees. Let the oven preheat as well as the stone for 1 hour. Once preheated do not touch your stone, this is a hot brick and will burn right through a oven mitt.

As your oven and stone preheat, you can roll out your dough.

Add your toppings. When it comes to toppings, the less is more does not apply to pizza in my house.

Now here is the tricky part. Carefully using any large spatula and your hands place the pizza on a very well floured pizza peel. Than carefully slide your pizza onto the hot stone in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes if it's a thin crust and 13 minutes if it's a little thicker crust. Do not change the temperature of the oven.

Once the pizza is cooked carefully with tongs (that is what I use) slide your pizza back onto the peel and place on the table. Stand back and take a bow as your family gasps in delight.

Here's the recipe

Pizza Dough
Adapted by: All

  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp white sugar

  • In mixing bowl combine yeast and warm water until yeast is dissolved.
  • Add bread flour, oil, salt, and sugar and mix until soft dough is formed
  • Cover and let rise for 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in size
  • Turn out on floured surface and roll out
I like to divide my dough in half and make two thin crust pizzas but this dough will make one large pizza if you do not divide it.

Pizza Sauce
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (15 oz)
  • 1 can of tomato paste (6 oz)
  • oregano, to taste
  • basil, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, to taste

Mix and spread over uncooked pizza dough. Decorate with toppings

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chipotle Pork

Sunday's used to be my day of rest, than I became a mom; now Sundays are "Day of Roasts." I used to cringe and run from any spicy or hot recipe and now spices entice me. Franks Red Hot is right up there with ketchup in my list of favorite dips. This was another change that came with pregnancy, I now love spicy foods and can handle a lot of heat.

In my new Cooking Light magazine I spotted this recipe, slow braised pork in spicy sauce. The recommendation was to serve it over rice with a green salad but the smoky smell from the chipolte peppers made me crave a burrito. Beans, corn tortilla, cheese, sour cream, pork...yum. I can just see the editor of Cooking Light shaking a skinny finger at me right now.

This is how it goes.

Chop all your onion.

Add onions, garlic, peppers, cumin, cinnamon, oil, honey, and peppers into food processor. Pulse until blended.

Peel and section your limes, use a knife to peel the lime, makes it much easier on the finger nails. Add to food processor with 1 tbsp of oil and pulse until blended.

All blended and ready to go. Place your pork in a the marinade and refrigerate for
1 hour.

Heat up your oil in a dutch oven. When the oil is hot add the pork and brown on all sides. Set on a separate plate. De glaze the pot with chicken broth scraping up all the brown bits. Next time I do this I think I am going to use light beer for this part.
Add your marinade into the sauce and boil a couple of minutes. Return the pork into the pot, cover, and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.

The pork will shred with a fork when it is done. At this point you can make the decision to return the shredded pork to the sauce or drizzle a little sauce over the pork. I chose just to drizzle with sauce because we were using it in a burrito. If I was to serve it over rice I think I would of liked it a little more saucy.

Here is the recipe if you are in the mood for some saucy and spicy pork.

Chipotle Pork
From: Cooking Light, April 2012
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 /12 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 9 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 chipotle chilies, canned in adobo sauce
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 (1 1/4 lb) boneless pork shoulder (I used pork loin roast)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth

  • Add first 6 ingredients into your food processor and pulse.
  • Peel and section your lime, add to food processor with 1 tbsp oil and pulse
  • Place marinade in zip loc, add pork and marinate for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Heat Dutch oven and add 1 tbsp oil.
  • Remove pork from the zip loc and sprinkle with salt (I forgot to do this)
  • Add pork to pot and brown on all sides. Remove pork after browned.
  • De glaze pot with brown, scraping up all the browned bits
  • Return to pork to pot and place in the oven, covered, for 2 1/2 hours.
  • Shred pork, toss with sauce.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sandwich Bread

I love bread! I think I have confessed my love of carbohydrates before but you can never give too much love. Raisin, sourdough, sweet, salty, garlic, love you all. Today we were out! Almost as bad as being out of milk, but that just doesn't happen around here, I live with the milk nazi. Alarms are sounded when the jug nears empty.

No one panicked or cried, well ok maybe I did but only because I have been under the weather and now had to bake bread. I could have gone to the store and picked up a loaf but I know for a fact that not only will I end up spending 30 dollars on food we don't need, I would have to get out of my pjs! After little sprout (my son) went for his nap, I went to work.

I've played with a few recipes and this is one is now the staple in the house. The crust is absolutely, hands down the best part. T who does not eat crusts on bread or pizza ate the crust! Yes he is one of those eaters! Each pizza night I am left with my crusts plus his and a bottle of franks red hot sauce. Total bliss. Anyways...tonight he was dipping his crusts in soup! He was eating the crust. IT IS THAT GOOD.

Whenever I bake bread, I plan all my meals around it. For lunch I remembered Elvis with a PB and banana sandwich. For dinner I made chicken noodle soup which rocked our socks off. It was so good, I stood up after dinner and took a bow.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you very much!" I said with the lip curl. Love cooking.

I had two of these babies, soooo good

Sandwich Bread

  • 2 envelopes of yeast (each packet is 2 1/4 tsp if you are using jarred yeast)
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tbsp margarine melted
  • 2 tsp margarine, for the bowl melted
  • 6 1/2 cups flour, divided

  • Measure your warm tap water and pour into your mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top. Give it a good whisking until all dissolved and let it rest until it starts to foam.
  • Once the yeast has foamed add in your melted margarine and sugar, whisk again
  • Add 3 cups of flour and mix, until flour and yeast mixture is combined
  • Start to add the rest of your flour and mix until all incorporated
  • Lightly flour your surface and turn your dough out onto the surface, begin to knead for a couple of minutes
  • In a buttered bowl place your dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about a hour, the dough should double in size
  • Once risen punch dough down onto floured surface
  • Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, or something that resembles a rectangle, you want the dough to be thin but not thin enough to see through.
  • With your hands, roll your dough tightly, starting at the long end
  • Place seam side down, and cut the dough in half
  • Grease two loaf pans
  • Place the loafs seam side down in pans, tucking the ends underneath
  • Cover and let rise for 20 minutes
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  • Brush the tops with melted margarine and place in the oven
  • Bake for 35 minutes until, the bread will sound hollow when you tap the top
  • Cool on wired racks.
  • Yum

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Veggie Quesadilla

Today I cleaned out the fridge...yikes. It's always amazing what I find stashed in there. The real amazement was that on my last grocery shopping trip I felt led to buy the whole produce section. We are a family of three, T is scared of every veggie except the primary (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, celery), the baby is loving yams and hating carrots, and me well I love it all-which explains why the farmers market is in my fridge.

My eggplant has only a few good days left, the tomatoes are starting to soften, I have enough onions till march, and I am down to one pepper. I was thinking sandwich but than I took it to the next level, quesedilla. Love a good quesadilla with salsa, sour cream and guacamole, so good. However my avocados weren't ripe, salsa was moldy, so sour cream was my only lonely dip.

Off to work I went to create my veggie quesadilla. I wondered what the eggplant texture would be like after it was roasted so I diced it very small, I diced everything very small. I needed to use up lots of veggies.

If you find yourself in the same situation as me, this is what I did.


Veggie Quesadilla

  • eggplant, 2-3 tbsp diced
  • onion, 2-3 tbsp diced
  • red pepper, 2-3 tbsp diced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • tomato, 1-2 tbsp diced
  • 3 basil leaves, chopped
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • cheese, enough to hold the quesedilla together
Probably delicious just like this

Preheat your oven to 425.

Dice your veggies and basil leaves, place in a bowl

Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over veggies, stir.

Pour veggies onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spray the aluminum foil with baking spray before you pour the veggies on.

Place your veggies in the oven for 20 minutes or until roasted to your preference

Heat up a fry pan on the stove

In the fry pan place your tortilla

As the tortilla warms, sprinkle cheese on one side, top with veggies and place more cheese on top

Fold tortilla over.

Flip tortilla carefully. Cook tortilla until both sides are charred and cheese is melted.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole

Friday, February 17, 2012

Beer Butt Chicken- Oven Style

Here is a great go-to recipe when you need to impress your in-laws, company, or just a romantic dinner for two. Beer Butt Chicken.

I am totally joking.

Who would of thought of this cooking method for chicken? It's so strange but it makes a delicious roast chicken. I have made this dinner many of times and I have tried many rubs but this one is the best rub by far! I even purchased a overly priced rub and it doesn't even come close to the flavor from this simple homemade recipe.

If you don't have kosher salt, go buy it. Kosher salt is great for bbq, rubs, and grilling; it creates a great crust on the meat. I have a massive spice collection so I was lucky enough to be able to just whip up this rub in no time.

Don't be shy...Grab a beer, a chicken, stir up the rub and
lose Swiss Chalets number.


Beer Butt Chicken
Adapted from: Food Network

  • 1 chicken (3 1/2 lb to 4 lb)
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used less than 1/4 cup)
  • 1 can beer

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • Rinse and pat dry with paper towel your chicken
  • Open your can of beer, drink half
  • Smother the inside of your chicken with rub
  • Place the can of beer on a roasting pan and carefully place your chicken on top
  • Brush oil all over the outside of chicken
  • Slather on the rub all over your chicken (I had a little left over rub when I was done)
  • Gently place your chicken in the oven
  • Roast for 90 minutes without disturbance
This is very delicious done on the grill as well, great for summer bbqs.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Frozen Cheesecake

Valentine's Day, here it is again. One of those holidays to celebrate our sweeties. T asked what I wanted to do for Valentine's Day this year. In my head I was thinking I would like to eat cake, read my book, drink coffee, and watch smutty tv but instead I said "o nothing." I really didn't want to go out anywhere. I am a total homebody.

"Well can I make you dinner?" He asked.

"Of course!! And I will make dessert." I replied.

"Frozen Cheesecake please" He shot back.

Of all things he could have said he chose the most simple. Yippee! I was totally prepared to be making a Black Forest Cake but luckily I ducked out of that one. Phew!

"Your on. I will be wearing my best set of yoga pants for our date, you know the ones with the holes in them?" He just looked at me and smiled. Love is grand.

Need a quick and simple cheesecake? Here it is. You can change the flavor of the cake by the juice and frozen fruit. I'm already planning the next one.


Frozen Raspberry Cheesecake

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tub (litre) cool whip, thawed
  • 1 cup frozen/fresh raspberries
  • 1 container of frozen berry bunch, thawed
  • First make your crust. Melt the butter and pour into bowl of graham cracker crumbs. Stir to combine.
  • Press graham cracker mixture into the bottom of pan until firm, set aside
  • In a separate bowl with a electric mixture stir cream cheese and sugar until smooth
  • Add cool whip and berry punch into the cream cheese mixture, stir until combined
  • Fold in fruit stirring until combined, don't over stir
  • Pour into crust and freeze for 4 hours or until set
  • Serve frozen with chocolate sauce drizzle, fresh mint, or more berries for garnish.
My Valentine & I (October 2010)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan Soup

I found this recipe in my search the other night. It slapped me across the face and said "Make me!" I ignored it for a couple of days, pushing it back in my brain as I thought about my mushroom burger or the tuna tacos I devoured the other day at Joeys during a seminar. When I went to the market on the weekend the eggplants called me over.
Nice shiny skins, no blemishes, great color, and on SALE! That's all I needed for a push. I grabbed my new purple veggie, collected the rest of the ingredients (already had the list on hand just in case), and off I went. On my walk home from the market I thought "do I even like eggplant?"

Turns out I do! I loved this soup. I have never eaten Eggplant Parmesan in my life. I didn't even know what the inside of a eggplant looked like. Do I peel them? Should I roast or saute? Is it bitter or sweet? Is there a core, seeds? Thank goodness for "the Google." Hehe.

I didn't get too adventurous with this recipe and glad I didn't. It was delicious. It was so good I had two bowls and after the second I was using my finger to get every last bit out of the bowl. T was on the couch next to me and I was so into my soup I didn't see him staring in disgust at my childish eating habits.

You got to make this soup, just make sure you wash your hands before you eat :)


Eggplant Parmesan Soup
Adapted from: Ashbury's Aubergines

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups crushed tomatoes with puree
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups toasted/stale italian or french bread, cubed

Yes that is a eggplant colored Dutch oven, I got to keep it matching

  • Peel and chop your eggplant and onion. Chop your red pepper
  • Heat the olive oil in your pot. When the oil is hot toss in your veggies in

  • Cook veggies for about 2 minutes or until you have stopped crying over the onions. Toss in your oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic, stir.
  • Once the veggies are looking soft and sauteed add in your tomato puree and water
  • Let simmer for 45-50 minutes uncovered on the stove
While you wait you can reheat your coffee (I was making this soup in the morning), do the dishes, listen to the latest Madonna song, or sit on the computer waiting for Madonna tickets to go on sale only to find out they were sold out :(. Still a little bitter over here. You can also grate your cheese

Now the simmering is over, it's time for the parmesan, bread, and balasmic vinegar

My favorite part
  • Add in the three ingredients and stir, let the bread soak up for about 10 minutes on the stove.
  • Keep the pot simmering as you stir in the bread, vinegar, and cheese
  • Grab your bowl and spoon, your done.
I chose to puree my soup with my stick blender but you can serve it anyway you like it.