Pizza Amore

When the moon hits the sky, like a big pizza pie, that’s amoré!!!

Are you channeling Italy yet? Well go grab a glass of proseco and come back to check out this pizza dough recipe. I haven’t shared any recipes in a while, but let me tell you, I’ve been cooking up a storm in my kitchen. This recipe came to me from one of my besties. When I moved into our last apartment, she got me the 100 Pizzas cookbook. Every single pizza in this cookbook is made with ONE recipe of pizza dough.

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The best part of this pizza crust is it’s not too thick and it crisps up so scrum-diddly-umptiously. The pizza dough will make enough for two large personal pizzas or one actual large pizza, depending on how you stretch it out and how thin/thick you like it.

The only not so fun part about the dough? Kneading. But kneading always makes for the best crusts, getting just the right amount of air into them so they don’t turn out too dense. But why not have some fun while kneading? I tried out my time lapse camera setting for the first time while kneading but alas I have no patience for the slow uploading speeds of my computer. Soooo you don’t get to see that video.

But here are your 5 simple ingredients for this versatile crust!

  • 2 1/4 cups white bread flour (plus a little extra for dusting/ you can swap in whole wheat if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil (plus extra for kneading)

And that’s it! Now comes the fun part:

  1. Sift the flour (or dump like I did) into a mixing bowl and add the yeast and salt, making a small well or crater in the top. Mix the water and oil together and pour into the bowl, using a rubber spoon to gradually combine all the flous to make a sticky dough. (It may not seem like it will all combine at first, trust me, it will.)
  2. Lightly flour the work surface and your hands and knead the dough for about 10 minutes (20 if you are doubling the recipe. Good luck with hand cramps) until it’s smooth and elastic.
  3. Cover the dough with some lightly oiled plastic wrap or a dampdish towl and let rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size. Don’t cover it too tightly or the platic wrap WILL bust open. At least that’s what happened for me…

Once your dough is done rising, it’s time to start your pizza! I love making pizzas when people come over because it’s fun for others to feel a part of the meal, but also your guest gets to decide how they are going to eat it. I’m thinking this would be a fun meal for kids to get involved in too! My favorite combination I came across when I was studying abroad in Austria: artichokes, banana peppers, and salami. Salty and delicious!

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Bake at 450 for 9-12 minutes or until you’re at the right crispiness for your taste buds. If you’re using a pizza stone, be sure to preheat the stone first. Or you may hear a gunshot-like sound 5 minutes into cooking and look in the oven to find your brand new stone comepletely shattered and your pizza chillin on the oven rack….or something along those lines…3

^^ Our shattered pizza stone go figure…

Before you pop it in the oven, try melting a tbsp. of butter with a few dashes of garlic powder and lathering that all over your crust. That’s of course if you’re not going the healthy route duh…. But I also like to chop up some fresh basil OR if there is no basil in the house I’ll go with a quick sprinkle of oregeno. YUM. Writing this has me dreamin in Italian, scootering off to a piazza to grab some fresh pizza and walk down the streets of Roma. Please and thank you.

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But anyways this is a great recipe for Super Bowl Sunday to make appetizers or quick slices to soak up some of that beer. Try out this easy-peasy pizza and let me know what you think :) How do you like your pizza?

 

The 12 Days of Gift Guides: For the Chef

For day 2 of the Gift Guides, we are focusing on that one person on your list who loves to cook. Or if you are anything like me, that one person on your list who loves to eat.

All the items on the list below are priced really well! Which made them all the more necessary to get on this Gift Guide. So if you are thinking of a gift for little ole’ me (**hint hint David**), I sure do love crème brûlée!

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1. Macaron Kit  |  2. Kitchen Aid Hand Mixer  |  3. Crème Brûlée Set  |  4. “Girl in the Kitchen” Cookbook

5. Choco-Chip Peanut Butter  |  6. Gourmet Salt Collection  |  7. Non- Stick Egg Poacher

8. Muffin Top Muffin Cups  |  9. “This is a Cookbook” Cookbook  |  10. Santa Oven Mitt

 You guys. Those muffin-top muffin cups are equal parts funny and cute. I love/want them. What a wonderful invention.

And that peanut butter? That’s right, you read right. It really is Chocolate Chip Cookie Peanut Butter. Your welcome. I feel like everyone has a someone on their list who either loves to cook or likes the idea of cooking. Either way there is something for them here. Last year’s Gift Guide for the Chef may also give you some ideas!

Shop on, little chefs!

P.S. See you tomorrow for another Gift Guide ;)

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread with Cinnamon Glaze

My favorite kind of recipes to make are the ones where you see a picture and KNOW that it is delicious. You know nothing about the ingredients you just know you must make this delectable, mouth watering concoction of goodness lest you die by means of drowning (because of the drooling obvi).

This recipe was one of those recipes. At first I thought maybe it was just the photoraphy skills on this one were just really up to par. But then I made it and thought… eh… no it’s just plain good all around.

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This is a chocolate pumpkin bread with a super easy cinnamon glaze. It could probably be called ‘cake’ and it would make more sense but by calling it bread it sounds like there is more nutrional value in it, you are insinuating you can eat it other times besides dessert. Which is what I did. Many times.

I got the original recipe here, from Heather who is a fantasical cook and deserves many gold stars for her ability to conquer in the kitchen.

This ‘bread’ is mouth watering. It’s extremely moist (because of the pumpkin) and it looks much denser than it actually is. The cinnamon glaze adds the right spiciness to it and can be compared to Starbucks’ chocolate cinnamon bread, which I believe they discontinued…damnYouStarbucks. Although this IS a better substitute anyways.

Before I get into the ingredients, I would suggest adding a little more pumpkin than what is called for, as when eating it, there really is no pumpkin flavor. It’s more of a moistener. Also, the batter is going to seem outrageously thick and you may wonder (if you’re anything like me) how you screwed it up. Don’t fret my friend. You didn’t screw it up. It is supposed to be that thick. Promise. It won’t seem so thick once it’s baked.

Okay. With those disclaimers in place, here are the things you’ll need for your new favorite fall dessert:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Cinnamon Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
  1. Start by preheating your oven to 350. Spray your loaf pan with non stick spray.
  2. With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. It’s suggested to use a standing mixer but because I am KitchenAid-less, I used a hand mixer and it worked fine.
  3. Next add your eggs and mix until creamy. Add vanilla and pumpkin and mix.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and partially combine.
  5. Add the milk and mix until creamy/smooth.
  6. Transfer your batter to the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes.
  7. Once the bread is done, let it cool for a while. It needs to be cool enough that it won’t melt your glaze.
  8. ONCE it’s cool, in a small bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, cinnamon, heavy cream and salt until smooth.
  9. Lastly, remove the bread from the pan and drizzle your glaze all over the bread.
  10. Now lick the bowl :)

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This is a great recipe if you are having guests over as it looks pretty but is easy to prepare. Also good for kids. Sticky fingers love this kind of stuff, or so I’m told. Check out the other recipes I’ve tried on my “Made it and Loved it” board on Pinterest!

Green is the New Black

When I was a kid, green foods creeped me out a bit. They smelled funny, tasted funny and mostly I turned a nose up at them because I knew in the back of my mind that they were good for me. This characteristic is one of the many that has adapted over the years and I’m proud to say I’m happy to eat anything (almost anything) that is green.

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With that said, you can imagine how happy I was when I was asked to review this “new” tea fad; Matcha Green Tea (by Kiss Me Organics). New to me of course, apparently it’s been around for thousands of years. Who knew?

Now I must tell you I’m first and foremost a coffee drinker. I have never been the one to crave a mug of steaming hot tea for the most part. To me, it was always a drink for hipsters and people who were concerned with having coffee-stained-teeth (clearly I have not been concerned with this as my cavity driven mouth will tell you). I’ll drink some green tea here and there for the added health benefits, then it’s quickly back to coffee for me.

But the thing that caught me off guard was the difference between your average every day green tea and Matcha green tea powder. For instance, unlike regular green tea, Matcha contains the entire leaf of the green tea plant (the Camellia sinensis). Wow Annie, could you bore me anymore with tea talk? Hold on I’m getting to the good stuff!

Because the whole leaf is used, you get much more of the health perks and then some! For instance:

  • Energy/Focus Boost– I wouldn’t have believed this unless I had tried it. I read that Matcha acts as a stimulant and a relaxant. So one morning I told myself I would go coffee-free and stick with Matcha for the day. Needless to say I was very nervous about this. I had a cup and was filled with energy the entire day. The best part was that it was a different kind of energy. Less buzzy than I normally feel with coffee and more “awake”. I found myself flying through my work in the morning and in the afternoon, I didn’t even have the usual caffeine crash.
  • Metabolism– Matcha tea can increase your metabolism from 8-10% to around 35-43%! So it is ideal for a pre/post workout drink for anyone working on weight loss. Again, metabolism increases are normal in regular green tea, but the benefits are heightened in the Matcha. I find that if I start my day with a Matcha smoothie (the.best), I can go so much longer without feeling those annoying hunger pangs. Plus with the added energy, I was walking around more and taking less time to sit during my work day.
  • Antioxidants– 137x the antioxidants in regular brewed green tea. No big deal, just fighting wrinkles one day at a time.
  • Glowing Skin– Natral Matcha tea helps protect your skin from UV rays and improves your oxygen and blood flow. For the record, I’ve been outside  ALOT this summer, and have not been sun burned once. Chalk it up to the tea? Say what you will but I wouldn’t be surprised if that a hand in it.

Ok so I had read all these “perks” but after just trying it one time, I was still a little skeptical. For the record don’t do what I did. READ the directions. Because the tea is so potent, all that’s needed is about 1/2 a teaspoon for a mug of hot tea. Well, I didn’t realize this and instead scooped a nice heaping TABLESPOON of Matcha into my mug. I poured the hot water, sipped, and cringed. It wasn’t terrible, but it was VERY potent. My thought process went like this: “Maybe if I chug it really fast it will taste better and be gone sooner”. Well I chugged it and gagged a little. TMI?

I know, I know you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this. It’s so you don’t make the same mistake I did. READ.THE.DIRECTIONS.

Moving on. Once I got passed the awful mug incident, I decided I wanted to try this stuff out in some recipes. So far, I have tried 2 different smoothie recipes, green tea cupcakes, and in a crockpot meal. My favorite BY far has been the smoothies. Here is the one I liked best (but I also tried a mango one that turned out really good also).

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Berry Good Morning Smoothie:

  • 1/2 cup of cold orange juice
  • 1 tsp. of Matcha Green tea powder
  • 2 tsp. warm water
  • 1/3 cup of strawberries
  • 1/3 cup of blueberries
  • 1/2 banana

– Mix Matcha and warm wter until blended.

– Add all ingredients into blender and run until smooth.

Done.

I loved these because the Matcha wasn’t overbearing in the smoothie, but you could get a good hint of the tea flavor. It made it taste more fresh than usual. Plus I’ve started to make these in bulk and freeze them. I even brought some frozen ones on our vacation this past weekend and skipped the coffee. BOLD.MOVE. I know. I got to use the leftover strawberries from my picking trip (because no one has time to make pies like I originally wanted ;)

The tea came with a free recipe book as well so if you are interested in it, let me know here or below and I can get you a PDF copy for free!

I also made these Matcha green tea cupcakes as well as sprinkled a small amount into a few crockpot meals just for the added health perk. I’ll be posting the recipe to these cupcakes very soon!

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I hope you end up liking the Matcha as much as I have. If you are looking for something to help with the weight loss or skimping on the coffee or are just a tea addict and like to try new things, I highly recommend trying it. Again, read the directions before using it (unlike me) but other than that you may have found your new culinary best friend.

**I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.**

Bread and Ze Buttah

I love carbs. Very much. I like carbs dipped in things, smotherd in things and slathered with things. Now I know first hand that too much of a good thing (i.e. carbs) can be a bad thing. Which is why I try to moderate my carb-intake. HOWEVER. You certainly can’t eliminate carbs from your diet, right? Cause they are good for you too! How do you think I have energy this morning? Carbs (ok, anddd protein but that’s another post).

So back to my carbs. I’ve been looking and looking for a good crock pot bread recipe since we don’t have a bread machine. And recently I came across this one at Life with 4 Boys! And by “recently” I mean back during Lent because I made this a lot for bread and water fasting.

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The best part about homemade bread (besides the carbs which I so lovingly touched upon already) is putting something on it. It’s true. There are few (if any) breads that taste bad with something spread on top. Whether it’s some peanut butter or a grilled cheese sandwhich or toasted and dipped in tomato soup, let’s be honest… bread is just better with a mate.

In steps butter.

Along with the bread recipe, I had also come across a blackberry butter recipe. One glance and I was thinkin’, “MMMM…nope. Not gonna happen.” But once I read the recipe and saw how easy it was (this is no churn-it-yourself kind of recipe), I was convinced I had found my bread’s mate.

Both are easy and both are TASTY. Win-win in my book. The bread will make your house smell so homey and I love it toasted and warm with either a slab of the blackberry butter or even some peanut butter. Let me know what you think!

Let’s start with the bread. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp or 1 packet of Yeast
  • 2 tbsp of Sugar or Honey (I’ve tried it with both, I like honey a teensy bit more)
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 cup warm water (not hot!)

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^^Do not judge me for having Christmas plates still out in March when I took this picture…

– Start by mixing together your flour, salt, Yeast and sugar (or honey) into a large bowl.

– Add your oil and water. Stir the mixture until it becomes dough like then switch to using your hands.

– Work the dough with your hands for a few minutes. Work it into a ball. If it gets too dry, add a dash of more water. If it stays too sticky, add a dash of flour.

– Continue to knead the dough for 5-6 minutes. If easier, put some flour on a surface and knead there. Your hands may become tired after a few minutes.

– Line the crockpot with parchment paper. Place the dough into the crockpot and close the lid. Cook on high for 1-1.5 hours. Lift the bread out with the parchment paper to make sure the bottom is browning. After it has the brown-ness (not a word I know) that you want, place it under the broiler for a few minutes (if that) to brown the top. Be careful because I burned my first loaf in the broiler. Me and the broiler are still getting to know one another…

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And your done! NOW let’s move on to the Buttah! I found this recipe here at The Lazy Daisy Kitchen (such a cute blog name if you ask me). Keep in mind you can cut this recipe down as needed. It makes a pretty good amount of butter, which is nice if you’re looking for gifts to jar up. For D and I? It was a lot so make accordingly…

You’ll need:

  • 1 pound salted butter, softened
  • 1/8 cup of honey
  • 1/2 cup of black berries

– Whip together the butter and honey until fluffy.

– Add in berries and mix together allowing the berries to burst until the desired look is met. I left some  berries in tact.

– Add in any more honey or berries to taste.

– Store in a jar OR if you want a log of butter, scoop the butter onto some plastic wrap, wrap it up and mold to the shape you want, then wrap that in foil and refrigerate.

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Martha Stewart who?!

Now grab a cup of tea, cut into that warm-fresh-out-of-the-crockpot bread and slather on a heap (yes a heap) of butter and enjoy! Enjoy those carbs. Enjoy them.

Banana Brain Freeze

I am a sucker for ice cream. As a little kid, I would listen very intently for the ice cream man to come down my street in the summer time. When I’m craving something sweet, it’s almost always something that can be cured with ice cream. Good, ole’ fashion ice cream.

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Now, when it came time for D and I to register, I gladly went through the store going scan-happy, scanning in anything and everything we may want or need. I came to an ice cream maker and sadly enough talked myself out of it. “We don’t need it.”…”It’s impractical”… “We can always just stop by Dairy Queen”…. While many of these are solid reasons not to spend the money on something as frivolous as an ice cream maker, I can’t help but wish just a little that we had made the scan.

But since we are ice cream maker-less, I have resorted to other means. Guess. If you said Pinterest then you are correct. I came across this recipe and didn’t have high hopes for it. Mostly because it sounded too simple to be any good. But what do you do when you have browning bananas but not enough for banana bread? Well now you make this.

Banana ice cream. Have you ever had the Banana Cream Pie Blizzard from Dairy Queen? Well if you haven’t then you should try it soon because these are definitely comparable!

Here’s my tweaked version of what you’ll need:

  • 2-3 bananas
  • 3-4 tbsp of peanut butter (I used crunchy to give it some extra texture)
  • a dash of milk (optional)

– Start by cutting the bananas into slices and placing them on parchment paper or foil and popping them in the freezer until hard.

– Throw the frozen banana pieces into food processor or blender. Add peanut butter. I added a little milk to help move the bananas around and to make it a little creamier. Blend and DONE!

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Wait, what? Done already? Yup. That’s it. The consistency will be similar to very soft serve ice cream, but if you like it a bit firmer, then just pop it into the freezer and it’ll turn out like hard ice cream.

I love this because on more than one occasion it’s helped curb those ice cream cravings and it’s a LOT healthier than your typical Häagen-Dazs (although there IS a place in my life for that as well).

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My next ice cream endeavors will include adding dark chocolate chips, crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers, and/or other fruits. If you have some bananas at home that are starting to reach their last days, then I HIGHLY suggest trying this out. What better way to get your daily dose of fruit?!? :)  Enjoy and be sure to check out some other great finds with Julie at This Gal Cooks for her Monday linkup!

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Be sure to visit Daniela over at Put a Bird On It for the Link’n Blogs Link Up. There is really great stuff over there!

Put A Bird On It