grilled-sausage-and-red-pepper-pizza

Whenever I suggest making homemade pizza for dinner, my fiance says ‘there are just some things that are better at a restaurant.’  I always give in because he does have a point, why make something yourself when someone else has already mastered it to perfection? I could eat Louie’s pizza in Dallas everyday of my life. Louie makes a mean pizza.

However, there are several reasons to make your own pizza. 1. It’s fun to make 2. You can customize it (i.e., lighter on the cheese!!) 3. It truly is delicious!!!

I bit the bullet this weekend and made this pizza recipe (without telling my fiance about it ahead of time) – and I turned him into a believer. It was wonderful, maybe not Louie’s wonderful, but homemade wonderful – which can be just as good. I like grilling the toppings and crust, then finishing it in the oven. Why grill the pizza at all? Because it tastes more like the brick oven (or woodfire, etc) pizza that restaurants seem so eager to advertise. They must know what they’re doing, so I will follow their lead.

Crust Recipe:

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour (bread flour is key for a crispier crust; all-purpose makes it chewier)
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the bread flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the warm water and oil; mix until combined. Take the dough out and place on a lightly floured surface. Gently knead to form a ball; if dough is too sticky add a pinch more flour; if it is too dry you can add more water. Place the dough back into the bowl and set in a warm place in the house (75 degrees is good). Let rise until the ball doubles in size, about 1 hr.  This is my dough, enjoying an afternoon in my favorite room by the knockout roses.

While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings.

Pizza Toppings (for one large pizza):

  • 1/2 lb mild italian sausage (if you are in Dallas, Central Market has the best!)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 sweet onion
  • Chopped basil
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella to taste
  • Olive oil

In a saute pan over medium heat, brown the sausage and drain. Heat the grill to medium heat. Chop the pepper and onion into large pieces, toss with olive oil and S P, and lay directly on the grill. Grill until slightly browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and chop into smaller pieces, about 1/2 inch wide. Heat the grill to high.

When the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and place it on a floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough until it is about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. I like really thin, crispy pizza, so the thinner the better. It helps to roll it out, let it rest for a second, then roll again. This process gives you the thinnest crust.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 450. Brush one side of the crust with olive oil. Place it on a floured pizza stone or pizza pan to take out to the grill. I find the best technique to move it onto the grill is to just pick it up with both hands and throw it on there, oil side down. Sure you lose a little of the shape here, but if you’re not Bobbie Flay it is tricky to do it any other way.
I didn’t take a picture here because I was too concerned about burning the crust (or my fingers) – but I left the pizza on the grill for about 2-3 minutes, until crispy brown on the side.

From here, you can either flip and finish on the grill, or move to the oven. It’s easier to finish in the oven, so that’s what I did. Slide the pizza dough back onto the pizza pan (using tongs), and bring inside for your toppings.

Brush the top of the crust with olive oil (this keeps the sauce and toppings from sogging up the pizza). Add the pizza sauce, cheese, and desired toppings. I chopped up about a quarter cup of basil to add some flavor, and it was delicious. Place the pizza in the oven and cook for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is slightly browned.

This is a fun dinner party pizza, served with salad and plenty of wine!

Caramello Cookies

caramello-cookies
My fiance is a caramel fanatic. I am a chocoholic. To get myself into the wedding spirit (we are getting married in 3 weeks!) – I decided to do a trial run and marry our two favorite flavors: chocolate and caramel.
The result: a perfectly chewy, gooey, chocolatey-caramely cookie. Everything I hope my own marriage will be.
Recipe:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 36 caramellos
Start by creaming the butter and sugars together in a standing mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, and cocoa. Slowly add to the butter mixture.
Preheat the oven to 375. While the oven is preheating, refrigerate the cookie dough. You will want to refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or the cookies will turn out flat. Make sure the dough is nice and chilled. 

Grease a cookie sheet and pour about 1/2 cup white sugar into a dipping bowl. Form the cookies by scooping out about 1 tablespoon of dough, and wrapping it around a caramello square. You don’t want a lot of excess dough around the caramello. Roll the cookie into a ball, then dip the top in sugar and place sugar side up on the cookie sheet.
Bake for 7-8 minutes, no longer.
People will think they are just getting a plane jane chocolate cookie, only to find out the fun little caramel surprise on the inside.
Sounds like a perfect marriage to me. I think they will be very happy.

Grilled Corn Guacamole

grilled-corn-guacamole

If you are a guacamole lover (and who isn’t), and you are looking to spice up your current recipe – this is a great option. The addition of grilled corn provides a very nice and flavor and texture to the standard guac recipe.

Recipe
2 ears corn
3 avocados
1 small tomato, diced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Juice from 1/2 lime
Pinch minced garlic
Dash Onion powder
Dash tabasco sauce
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Salt Pepper

Peel the husks back on the corn and remove the silk. Pull husks back over the corn and soak in water, about 20 min. Heat the grill, and cook the corn until slightly charred, about 15 minutes. Make sure you continuously turn them to cook evenly.  Let the corn cool, then shave off the kernels.

Next, prepare the guacamole. Smash the avacadoes in a bowl, then mix in the remaining ingredients. Mix in the corn.  Place the pit of the avocado into the guacamole to preserve the color and freshness.

raisin-and-goat-cheese-salad

I could be a little more creative with my recipe titles, but there are only so many things you can do with salads. I like to just put it out there, so everyone knows what they’re getting into. This salad has raisins and goat cheese.  I don’t have quantities for my salad ingredients, because in my opinion – to each their own in salad making. I love a lot of some ingredients, and very little of others. Some prefer more veggies, others prefer more cheese (me).  Here are the ingredients, do with them what you will. This is a wonderfully delicious salad.

Recipe

Spinach
Mushrooms
Raisins
Toasted Almonds
Goat Cheese
Brianna’s AMAZING Poppy Seed dressing

Let me tell you, Brianna knows how to make a salad dressing. The tangy flavor of this goes perfectly with the sweetness of the raisins and goat cheese.

I apologize for the lazy post, but this is a lazy salad and there is only so much I can write.

Stuffed Potatoes

stuffed-potatoes

Does anyone remember that place in the mall food court that had stuffed potatoes?  Fortunately I don’t frequent the mall food court anymore so I have no idea if it still exists, but it was a childhood favorite of mine. Baked potato Cheese Broccoli my mom buying me anything I wanted at the ‘Nature of Things’ Store = perfect day.

I recreated that ‘magic’ here, minus the Nature shopping and a cheese sauce that consists of who knows what. Really, this is just a twice baked potato with the addition of broccoli and bacon. I made this recipe for 2, so you can adjust quantities appropriately.

Recipe

2 large potatoes
1 cup chopped broccoli, cooked (or more if you’re a broccoli lover)
2 slices bacon
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste

Scrub the potatoes, then wrap in foil, make slits, and bake for one hour at 350. You can also bake them in the microwave if you want to speed things up – two large potatoes would take 10-15 minutes, I think.

Meanwhile, prepare the bacon. Place in a skillet over medium heat, and cook until done. Place the bacon on paper towel to soak up fat; leave remaining fat in the skillet. Turn off heat.

When the potatoes are done, let them cool enough that you can touch them without your fingers falling off. Cut off the top fourth of each potato, to prepare the larger side for stuffing. Scoop all of the potato out into a bowl. Prepare the potato stuffing by combining them with the sour cream, butter, milk, s p. Mash until creamy. Add in cooked broccoli and bacon. Mix thoroughly.

Preheat the broiler for the potato skins. Place the larger skins cut-side down onto the bacon skillet. Use a brush to coat the skin with a small amount of the bacon reserve, and make sure there is plenty along the edges.  Place the skillet in the oven to crisp the skin, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven and place on baking sheet.

Flip the potatoes over and stuff with potato mixture. Top with cheese, and place back in the broiler, about 5 minutes or until melted and slightly browned.

Maple Oatmeal Cookies

maple-oatmeal-cookies

I woke up last Sunday morning with an urge to bake, but had no interest in going to the grocery store. I needed to make something with the limited ingredients I already had, and since it was Sunday I decided to start with maple syrup and go from there. See the connection? Sunday is the day for maple syrup.

These cookies are more like a muffin-cookie, a mookie, if you will. They are very moist, fluffy, and soft. They are fantastic for breakfast, and a good alternative if you are in the mood for a ‘lighter’ cookie.

Recipe:

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream the butter and sugars in a standing mixer. Add the egg, maple syrup, and vanilla. Slowly add in the oats, flour, soda and salt. Mix until combined.
Bake on a greased baking sheet at 350, about 10-12 minutes. Enjoy with a cup of coffee!