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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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
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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

 

Chipotle Salmon with Roasted Broccoli

chipotlesalmon

Okay, so not my best photography, but this was dinner last night and it turned out so well I had to share it.

Seafood does not get prepared very often in our house, my husband does not like fish or shellfish, and cooking it tends to make the house smell decidedly fishy. However, salmon was on sale, the tiny human likes it, and I was in the mood for fish.

Once a week we go into town for my son’s swim lessons, and I like to swing by Whole Foods when we are there. While poking through the aisles I saw a Chipotle Powder I knew I needed for my ever expanding spice rack. Into the cart it went and I started to think about how I could use the spice.

How Sweet Eats BBQ Salmon opened my eyes to the fact that not only does BBQ salmon exist, its delicious. So I figured a spicy chipotle twist would also be tasty. Roasted veggies are a pretty standard side in our house, especially when I can take some frozen broccoli straight from the freezer, toss in olive oil salt and pepper and roast. So easy. Cauliflower is my favorite veggie to roast but today was broccoli.

chipotlesalmon2LD

If you grill, I think this would be fantastic grilled. I pan seared my fish, it was quick and easy, but also made my house smell like salmon. Worth it.

Chipotle Salmon with Roasted Broccoli

  • Servings: 2 adults, or 1 adult twice and one toddler
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Inspired by: How Sweet Eats

Ingredients

Chipotle Spice Rub

  • 1 teaspoon Ground Chipotle Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper

Salmon

  • 2 five ounce portions salmon (or however many you want, the spice mixture can definitely cover more than two portions)

Broccoli

  • 1 bag frozen broccoli, stems and tops
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 425°F. Toss broccoli in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, maybe 2 tablespoons. Season with salt and pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet lined with foil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or until roasted to your liking. I like it a little burnt. (I prefer the term crisp but it may appear burnt).

Mix spices together in a small bowl or ramekin. Place a saute pan over medium high heat with some olive oil, like a tablespoon Take your salmon and pat the top dry. Rub a generous amount of the chipotle mixture on top of your salmon. Once the oil is hot, place salmon spice side down and cook for 5 minutes. Then flip and cook skin side down until you reach desired doneness. ( I like it well done).

Lemon “Cookie” Strawberry Shortcakes

This started out as a total disaster. I had grand plans of making Amerikaners also (known as Black and White Cookies) with sprinkles and lemon for Fourth of July. As I made the dough it seemed a little off. If you follow along in my Instagram stories you know what I mean. The dough was REALLY thick. The directed portions were large. When I pulled them from the oven they much more resembled dense biscuits over cake-y  cookies. Looking back, I realized I left out AN ENTIRE INGREDIENT (milk) But it all worked out in the end.

Anyway, I was devastated. Both because my recipe failed and I was looking forward to Amerikaners. I haven’t had any since we lived in Italy and a German friend made some (should have gotten her recipe!) But then I tried one of my failed cookies. Lemony and dense, I immediately knew what I could use them for.

whipped cream

The lemony “cookie” (they are more like biscuits to me) was perfect for strawberry shortcakes! I took out my strawberries and put them in a bowls with some sugar and whipped some heavy cream and Boom! Strawberry Shortcakes.

Eaten alone, the cookie/biscuits are not too sweet with a hint of lemon. Topped with strawberries and whipped cream the lemon flavor really pops. The juice from the berries soaks into the cookie/biscuit and the whipped cream is cool on top of the ripe strawberries. If I had to describe the taste with one word it would be summer.

LemonBiscuitStrawberrySHortcake3

 

Lemon Cookie Strawberry Shortcakes

Inspired by: This recipe 

Ingredients

  • Cookie/Biscuits
  • 9 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Sprinkles (if you want)

Strawberries

  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Whipped Cream

  • One cup whipping cream
  • 1/8 cup sugar

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter and sugar together in an electric mixer or large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon extracts. Combine flour and baking soda in another bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three batches, mixing well after each addition.

Scoop 1/4 cup batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Bake for 20 minutes.

While those are baking, put your strawberries and sugar into a bowl. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the strawberries and sugar to combine, forming a nice juice. (aka macerating the strawberries).

Either with an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk and a clean bowl, fiercely whip the heavy cream and sugar until thick and fluffy. (With my mixer this took about 1 minute and 30 seconds on high).

Cut a cooled biscuit in half and top with strawberries and whipped cream!

 

Smoked Gouda Pimento Cheese

I went to Raleigh this weekend and stayed with my good friend Ashley who was an amazing host. In addition to just being an awesome person, she made my son and I breakfast every morning. What did she make you ask? Fried Egg Sandwiches with SMOKED GOUDA PIMENTO CHEESE. It was transcendent. Unfortunately she bought it at a grocery store that does not exist where I live and that left me one option.  Make it myself.

And I nailed it.

Pimento Cheese might sound kind of gross if you haven’t heard of it before. I know when my college roommate introduced me to it I was a little skeptical. Cheese, pimentos and mayonnaise? Who thinks “You know what would go great with this cheese? Mayonnaise”. The South. That’s who. And I am so glad.

Thinking about it, its not a huge leap when you consider most chip dips are mayonnaise+other ingredients, often cheese. So not that crazy.

No matter how you look at it, this is mind blowing stuff. Smokey, salty and creamy. Unapologetically ugly, it sings on a cracker or as my current favorite, spread on a fried egg sandwich. I tried to take pictures of this morning’s breakfast sammich, but the combination of terrible photography skills, rain clouds, and my need to eat it NOW means no pictures today.

You’ll just have to make some to see for yourself!

What is your favorite breakfast food?

 

Smoked Gouda Pimento Cheese

  • Servings: Pimento Cheese-many servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Inspired by my good friend Ashley and-This recipe 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups smoked gouda, shredded
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese (definitely shred your own at home, the pre-shredded kind is coated in a powder to prevent clumping, which will prevent it from properly combining in this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6 oz pimento, drained and chopped
  • black pepper to taste
  • dash Worcestershire sauce

Directions

Mix softened cream cheese and mayonnaise in the bowl of a counter top mixer or large bowl. Add onion powder and garlic powder. Add shredded cheeses and pimento. Add dash Worcestershire. Taste and season with black pepper. Serve with crunchy crackers, spread on an english muffin with an egg, on a spoon directly to your mouth, grilled cheese ect..

 

 

 

 

 

Banana “Brownies”-Actually trying recipes I pin on Pinterest

First things first, this is really more of a snack cake than a brownie to me. I’m a brownie purist, and brownies = chocolate in my book. And a chewy, fudgy texture.

That said, these were fairly tasty. One of the reviews said they are more like banana bread with frosting, and I would say that is pretty accurate. Browned butter frosting to be precise.

I have actually baked these before, about 5 years ago. The 5 bananas rapidly turning brown on my counter inspired me to try them again. That and the the aforementioned browned butter frosting. I’m really into brown butter frosting these days. Frost yourself. Or your baked good rather.

Anyway, this recipe makes a huge pan, perfect for a summer BBQ. The frosting is really rich, so a small square more than satisfies even the sweetest of teeth. I can put away some sugar and one of these is more than enough for me.

 

bananabrowniesLD

The next time you have some bananas that are rapidly browning, try these “brownies” instead of your regular banana bread. If banana bread isn’t your thing, this Real Deal Banana Pudding is always a huge crowd pleaser.

Do you like banana bread/pudding? Weigh in down in the comments below!

 

  • Servings: 20 slices
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Inspired by Banana Brownies

Ingredients

Brownies/Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup greek yogurt ( the original recipe calls for sour cream, I had greek yogurt in my house so I used that)
  • 1/2 cup softened butter (one stick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 bananas, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting

This is their recipe as written, I started with the same amount of butter and then just added butter,  powdered sugar and vanilla until I was happy. Don’t be like me. Follow the recipe. My frosting is a bit too sweet.

  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Directions

Pre-heat oven 375°F. The original instructions say to use a 15×10 jelly roll pan, I used a half sheet pan. Google tells me these are similar but not the same. I put my silpat on it, but you can use parchment paper or flour and grease it.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, greek yogurt and eggs until combined. Add vanilla extract and mashed bananas. Once incorporated, add flour, baking soda. Stir to combine. Pour batter onto pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the pan 180° half way through.

To make the glaze, heat the butter in a medium pot for about 10 minutes, until it turns a nice amber color and is fragrant. Add powdered sugar, and mix. It will be quite thick. Add vanilla and milk until a thick but pour able consistency is achieved. Spread over cake while the cake is still warm. Allow to cool fully before eating.

Kale Salad with Avocado-Tomato Dressing

We went to the beach yesterday and I have quite the sunburn. My little guy LOVES playing in the surf so between keeping him alive and making sure he drank enough water and was coated head to toe in sunscreen, I forgot to reapply my own. Sigh. The beach is always a good time but it wears me out.

Luckily, I prepped dinner the day before and made sure I had all the ingredients on hand to make this 10 minute salad.  Pre-washed Kale? Check. Avocados? Check. Bacon cooked in the oven the day before? Check. Cherry tomatoes? Check. The rest of the ingredients are pantry staples for me and help this come together quickly.

kalesaladwbaconLD

Bonus? Eating this salad definitely negates the “snack” you eat later of Nutella straight from the jar. Trust me.

Kale Salad with Avocado-Tomato Dressing

  • Servings: Serves one person as a meal, two as a side
  • Difficulty: Easy
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With kale, tasty tomatoes, and a creamy dressing, this hearty salad is simple enough for a quick lunch or side to some grilled chicken or steak for an easy summer dinner.

Ingredients

For dressing:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 3 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For salad

  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 3 cups shredded kale
  • I added asiago cheese, but what cheese and how much you want is up to  you.
  • I didn’t have these originally, but added sunflower seeds the next time I had the salad and really enjoyed the crunch.

Directions

If you haven’t already cooked your bacon, start now. (I put mine in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes). Add all of  your dressing ingredients except salt and pepper to a blender/food processor. (I used a blender). Blend until you reach a creamy, thick consistency. Salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl, add your kale and toss with the dressing, completely coating the kale. Let your kale absorb the dressing while your bacon cooks, it softens it a bit. Once your bacon is cooked, crumble it into your salad and add tomatoes and cheese. Feel free to add anything else you like, sunflower seeds or cucumbers would be nice.

This and That

Guys this week went by really quickly and I don’t know what to do with myself. Time to share what I have been into this week!

^^^ The picture above is of the flowers that lined my neighbor’s driveway in Italy.  They were always so big and  beautiful. I am currently redoing the beds in our front and backyards and would LOVE big hydrangeas like these. I’ve kept my basil plant alive for almost two months now so obviously I’m ready for a massive yard transformation.

 

  • I bought this nail polish last summer and got compliments every time I wore it. Purples make my hands look dead so this is the coolest hue I can wear. I’ve already busted it out and am wearing it as I type this.
  • My two favorite adult beverages combined into one big batch drink!
  • The humidity has really taken a toll on my hair and hair oil helps keep the frizz at bay and makes my hair feel really soft. Plus you can’t beat the price!
  • Flexibility has never been my strongsuit and the combo of a lifetime of sports+desk job+child birth have left me quite immobile, shoulders all impinged and hips out of whack. I’ve been doing Yoga with Adriene and it is really helping me work out the kinks. Plus, Adriene makes yoga really approachable. Like “Hey, you cant do this pose yet? That’s cool, you’ll get there, try this pose instead”.
  • Do you like rose’? I haven’t had any I really enjoyed and am going to try some from this list.

How has your week been? Let me know down below!

(As usual, none of this is sponsored nor are they affiliate links, just things I love and want to share with you!)

 

Li Hing +Citrus Margarita

After living in Italy I am always tempted to throw an “h” in margarita (margherita). That’s not correct.

My parents have lived in the South Pacific since 2010, and one of the first times I visited them I tried Li Hing Mui, a sweet/sour dried plum. Instantly struck my the sweet/sour/salty taste, I spent the rest of my visit trying to hunt it down in convenience stores. It is a pretty common treat.

We went to stay at a resort in Hawaii on the big island (my parents lived in the Marshall Islands at the time) and popped down to the bar for a cocktail. The mango margarita with li hing powder instantly struck me. At first sip, the savory li hing and the sweet mango + tequilla had me in heaven.  I tried to re-create that exact flavor and failed miserably.

lihingmuimargld

So I tried again, this time with my old friend’s grapefruit and lime. The pucker from the grapefruit, tang of the lime, bite of the tequila are enhanced by the li hing powder beautifully.  I added about a tablespoon of simple syrup because I wanted something a little sweeter that day, but it can definitely be left out if you want something more sour and less sweet.

The salt in the li hing powder perfect mimics the salt of a classic margarita, and I shook a little into the margarita itself, resulting in the tangerine color of the drink. Li hing powder can be found on Amazon, and is fantastic sprinkled on fruit and popcorn.

limeld

If you are looking too add a new twist to your margarita, give this a try. It is an awesome compliment to tacos, or the perfect drink to sip at a BBQ with friends.  Doesn’t this drink just look like summer? (I acknowledge the rim looks awful)

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Sweet, Salty, with a little pucker, the stunning color of this drink and tangy taste is sure to delight your eyes and your tastebuds.

You can buy li hing powder on Amazon.

Ingredients

  • Juice from one lime
  • Juice from half of a grapefruit
  • 1 oz tequilla
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup (if you want it a little sweet)
  • splash of seltzer water
  • li hing powder for rim and drink

Directions

Rub lime on the rim of  your glass and then dip into li hing powder, creating your rim. Mix lime, grapefruit juice, tequila and triple sec and simple syrup (if using) in a shaker or glass  ( I don’t have a cocktail shaker, so I always mix drinks in a glass with a spoon). Once combined, add like 2 pinches of your li hing powder and ice stir again. Top with a splash of seltzer water and serve.