Margharita Pizza

As a child I didn’t really like pizza. Then again, I also didn’t like mashed potatoes, french fries or steak so it could be argued that I just didn’t like delicious food.

College changed all of that. Between living on free pizza being given away on campus to the fact that I could buy a pizza and eat it for DAYS, pizza grew on me. Still wasn’t my favorite, but free and/or cheap was my go to in college.

Then we moved to Italy. Obviously the pizza as amazing, and I am trying to recreate the thin, flavor packed dough we would have there. I have not mastered it yet. But living in Italy re-ruined American pizza for me. So heavy! So greasy! Why is the crust so thick and sweet?

This pizza, is my happy medium. American pizza with less sugar basically. I do have an excellent “American” Pizza crust recipe, but you do have to make it in the morning, thus requiring some pre-mediation.

On this particular  pizza, homemade sauce tops a *gasp* store bought dough (When I decide I want pizza later in the day, I buy the fresh dough from the deli section of my grocery store, typically Whole Foods or Publix). Crowned with mozzarella and chopped grape tomatoes, topped post-bake with basil from my plant outside. (That I haven’t killed!!!!) Easy peasy.

Even better, this sauce is made with pantry staples. A can of diced tomatoes, fresh garlic, tomato paste, olive oil, and dried herbs. All in all, I would say you can have pizza in 30 minutes, faster than delivery!

Margharita Pizza

  • Servings: makes a medium pizza, serves 2 to 4 depending on appetites
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

For Pizza

  • 1 store bought pizza crust, or homemade dough
  • 16 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 15 grape tomatoes
  • 6 leaves fresh basil
  • Pizza Sauce

For Pizza Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes (I buy brands with no added sugar)
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste (ditto no sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 500°F or whatever temp your particular crust requires. If you have a pizza stone, pop it in the oven while you are pre-heating. If you are using a sheet pan skip this step.

Place a large pan over medium high heat on the stove. Add your olive oil, when warm, toss in your garlic and give it a quick stir. Add your diced tomatoes. Cook tomatoes and garlic over the stove for about 5 minutes. Add powdered garlic and onion powder, as well as dried herbs. Then carefully pour into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour back into pan and add tomato paste. Stir to combine and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Leave in pan over low heat.

Now that your sauce is done, take your pizza stone out of the oven with hot pads and place on a safe workspace (if you have a pizza paddle leave in oven and use paddle. I don’t. If you are using a sheet pan, just pull it out of the cabinet and place on workspace)

Stretch dough on stone/pan into a circle to your desired thickness. Generously spread pizza sauce all over dough. Add cheese and chopped tomatoes. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until dough is golden brown on the edged and cooked through. Remove from oven and top with fresh basil Serve and eat!

Note: Fresh tomatoes will probably make the top of the pizza a little watery as the water comes from the tomatoes while baking. I just took a paper towel and absorbed some of the water, like you do with really greasy pizza.

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This and That

The picture above is another from our trip to Cinque Terre. With all of the World Cup excitement I am feeling a little nostalgic for our time in Italy. The last time I watched the World Cup it was at a BBQ outside of a villa-turned-apartments with my friend Giulia and her friends. My living room in not quite as memorable.

This Funfetti cake bakeoff is exactly what I need. I get overwhelmed by the shear number of recipes out there and love how analytically she presents her findings.

Lemon cake is definitely one of my top favorite cake flavors and this looks like the perfect recipe.

It feels kind of silly to be looking at fall clothes when I know it will be 90°F + for many months still, but last fall/winter I really wanted some water proof booties and these are exactly what I was looking for.

These broccoli fritters are pretty similar to veggoe tots I make for my son but honestly look much easier to make. He refuses all green foods at the moment, I’ll have to try these.

This looks like my dream coconut cake.

I recently bought a new console table for our living room and I kind of hate it, and am leaning more towards something like this table. 

Trying things I Pin on Pinterest-Espresso Cardamom Shortbread

Shortbread is probably my favorite cookie. I don’t make them often, but when I do I tend to eat the entire batch myself.  A few weeks ago in my This and That I mentioned this Espresso and Cardamom Shortbread by Sweet and Savoury Pursuits.

From my Chocolate+Turkish Coffee Cookies to my Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean Ice Cream.   you can tell that putting coffee into sweet treats is one of my favorite flavor combinations. So when I saw this shortbread on Pinterest I knew I had to try it.

cardamomandespressoshortbread

It did not disappoint! Because I very rarely make shortbread, I did not make any adjustments to the recipe and followed it to the letter.

First you dissolve instant espresso in vanilla extract. This was a totally new concept to me! At first I was skeptical that the instant espresso would dissolve in such a small amount of liquid, but it totally worked! The aroma of the vanilla and espresso was heavenly. Then you cream together butter, confectioner’s sugar and the espresso/vanilla in an electric mixer. Even if the shortbread had not turned out well, I am glad I tried this recipe because the combo above, with a different butter:sugar ratio, would be the PERFECT espresso frosting.

After everything is well mixed, you add your dry ingredients that you mixed together in a separate bowl. This results in thick, not quite crumbly dough. The instructions then say to press the dough evenly into a greased 9×13 pan. This was the only issue I had with the recipe, I personally didn’t feel there was enough dough to evenly spread in such a large pan. So I spread it as far as I could without sacrificing thickness. Then you score our your bars.

cardamomandespressoshortbread2

After scoring and dotting your bars,  you bake at 325°F for 30 minutes, rotating once. After I pulled these guys out of the oven, I had to try them. The espresso and cardamom flavors are subtle, resulting in a rich, toasty flavor that my mom couldn’t quite pinpoint, but really enjoyed. She described it as a caramel. I’ll agree that the espresso lends a warm rich flavor that combined with the buttery shortbread does come across as a little caramel-like. Which we loved.

I have had about 6 with my morning coffee this a.m.  They just go so well dunked in my morning joe! All in all, I really enjoyed this shortbread, the flavor is warm and comforting, and these cookies were a cinch to put together.

For the recipe be sure to hop over to Sweet and Savoury Pursuits and give it a go!

Smore’s Cookie Bars

The best smore I have ever had was after finishing my second leg of the Atlanta Ragnar Trail race this year. It was 4 am, I just finished a 5.5 mile loop through the woods after running like 6 miles earlier that day and only eating trail mix and a pasta dinner. Which sounds like plenty of food when I type it out, but for me in that moment it was not.

The last mile of the loop all I could think off was food. Potatoes. Meat. I distinctly remember contemplating which flavor potato chip I would prefer. FACT: I don’t really like potato chips. Basically, ya girl was hungry and desperate.

So I emerged from the woods, passed off my race belt and headed straight for the bonfire and smore’s station. Because they had a smores station at 4am (REI knew what’s up). I snatched up a Hershey Bar, a marshmallow, a graham cracker and a stick. Some poor souls surrounding the campfire were NOT ROASTING SMORES and were also between me and my meal.

Less than delicately, I shoved my way to the fire explaining ” I just really need this marshmallow toasted”. Lit my marshmallow on fire (I like my smores well charred) and waited until it was ready. Then I smashed it between two crackers and some chocolate and wolfed it down in two bites. It was transcendent. Gooey marshmallow, the chocolate bar still solid, molten only by the now carcinogenic marshmallow. Bliss.

So with these cookies I tried to recreate that moment. How does one recreate the perfect bite that was the result of running far more than normal, at a strange hour, in the middle of the woods,  and a bonfire? smoresageddonLD

Cookie bars were the only option. I thought about individual cookies, making regular smores in the oven, but really there was no other choice. Cookie bars were my best bet.

Graham Cracker laced cookies crust, topped with milk chocolate bars while still warm, then crowned with marshmallows. A quick broil, and your bars are done. You can eat them while still gooey, as pictured above, or wait until they have cooled the next day. The cookies will be soft and chewy, the chocolate returned to its solid state, and the marshmallow still sticky on top. 4am smore’s bliss achieved.

Smores Cookie Bars

  • Servings: 40 1-inch squares
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks of butter, softened (1 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4/ cup brown sugar
  • 1 package graham crackers (8 crackers)
  • 6 chocolate bars ( I used Hershey Bars)
  • 40 Jumbo marshmallows

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.  Put graham crackers in a bag and smash until in about 1/2 inch chunks. Add butter to a stand mixer or large bowl and beat until soft. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix until fluffy. Then add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and graham cracker crumbs.

Spread cookie dough into 13×9 inch pan. Use a greased spatula to even the top. Bake in oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven and while still hot place unwrapped chocolate bars across the top of the cookies. Then immediately top chocolate with marshmallows. Broil for one minute or just return to oven to brown marshmallows.

Let cool for a few minutes and then serve. These are also quite tasty completely cool.

 

Cherry Gin Slushies

A few weeks ago in my inaugural This and That post I mentioned these  gin slushies by Joy the Baker. As soon as I laid eyes on those bright red beauties I knew I had to make them.

What held me back? Well I lacked other gin drinking adults to share with! My parents have come to visit and the opportunity to make a big batch cocktail arose, it was slushie time.

Joy uses fresh raspberries, frozen in her recipe. Poking around my fridge, I saw I had all ingredients minus the raspberries, and had really zero desire to leave my house again. But, there were frozen organic cherries in the freezer. Not remembering why I originally purchased them, they fit the bill.  All was well! Cherries are red, and delicious and probably just fine with gin. So I went for it.

frozencherries

Using Joy’s recipe as my guide, I subbed cherries for raspberries, Fresca for seltzer, and simple syrup for sugar. If you like things a little less sweet you could probably forgo the simple syrup. But I was going for sugar rush slush.

Now I am ruined forever and only want to drink gin in those slushies. Icy and refreshing. Sweet, but not saccharine with a hint of herb from the gin. Heaven. You can omit the gin and up the Fresca to make these kid friendly!

Cherry Gin Slushies

  • Servings: 4-6 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Icy cold, sweet, and a little boozy, these slushies are the perfect treat for adults at a backyard bbq during the dog days of summer.

Inspired by: Joy the Baker

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of ice
  • 10 ounces frozen cherries
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup Fresca
  • 1/2 cup gin (or more soda if making these non-alcoholic)
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup (omit if making non-alcoholic version)(also, you could use less, I like them sweet)

Directions

Add ice, frozen cherries, lime juice, soda, gin and simple syrup to blender. Blend until it reaches a nice slushie consistency. Pour and serve. If you only pour one or two at a time, you can add more ice and re-blend what is left in the blender to freshen what it left in the blender before serving.

cherryslushiesontableLD

 

This and That

Hey guys! It’s been a busy week with family coming to town, but I have more posts coming your way. I hope everyone has enjoyed their week and if you are in the US had a firework and BBQ filled 4th!

 

These macaroons look like a perfect way to use up some coconut I have in my fridge.

I bought some marshmallows with the intent to make fondant and then decided I wanted something smores-like instead. These smores cookie cups look right up my ally.

I recently bought a new console table but like this DIY one much better.

I never thought I would say jalapeno popper and dumpling in the same sentence but WHAT. Insane.

This week’s nail  polish color is Mint Candy Apple. I usually like pinks and oranges but these cool blues are really speaking to me this year.

 

This and That

I missed last week’s “This and That” because we were in Raleigh and I did not plan to post. We were in full vacation mode. Anyway, here is what I have been checking out this week.

My parents are visiting next week and I know they will love these cardamom and espresso shortbread.

Time to buy a popsicle mold. I’ve wanted to try making my own fruit popsicles but these tiramisu popsicles look out of this world.

I’m looking into buying a new laptop and am completely lost. Does anyone have any recommendations? The only thing I KNOW is that I do not want a Macbook. Suggestions?

This chopped salad is the only salad I need in my life. I’m over kale. Give me deli meats.

It’s my son’s birthday next week and I am going to try out marshmallow fondant for the first time. This will either be a huge success or a total disaster. There is no in between.

I’m nearing the end of The Office and am trying to decide what to start next. There are so many good shows! I wonder if the latest season of Top Chef is on Hulu yet…