Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Family "Cast Iron" Pizza Night


My husband and I go on a date almost every single weekend. With 3 young kids and very limited time after work and other activities date nights are a must! A few weekends ago our babysitter cancelled last minute and left us home with the kids. So we decided to make it a fun family Friday  night! We made 3 different kinds of pizza in our cast iron pans then made caramel corn and hot chocolate! We watched a movie together and it turned out to be a very fun night!


I have realized that when you decide to let your kids help you cook or bake what you are making does not always look as pretty as you would like it to haha. But sometimes you just have to let loose and let the kids pitch in to create memories in the kitchen and forget about presentation. So that is exactly what happened here. Too much sauce on the pizza creates a pizza that drips all over the bottom of your oven (that you have to deep clean the next day) and cheese not evenly spread makes for some yummy pieces and some not so yummy pieces and pepperonis only on the outside and not in the middle result in the pepperonis hanging over the sides of the cast iron pans.


You can use pre-made pizza dough from your local grocery store or you can use my go-to pizza dough recipe below. To make the pizza follow these directions:


Take 3 cast iron pans and drizzle with olive oil on the bottom and on the sides. Place 1/3 of the dough in each pan and and press down. Cover the pan and let rest for 30-60 minutes whatever you have time for.


Turn oven on to the highest temperature possible. Mine was 525 degrees F. Once dough is done rising remove lid and and top with pizza sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings.



Or skip the pizza sauce and add buffalo sauce


then shredded chicken



and pepper jack cheese. This is my favorite pizza by far!




Turn the stove top onto medium heat and place the cast iron skillet on the burner and cook for 3-5 minutes. The dough will rise more and start to bubble a little.


 Then place in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and enjoy!





Pizza Dough

3 3/4 cup bread flour
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water

In a mixing bowl add the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Mix together and then slowly add the water. Mix for 1 minute or until all the ingredients are mixed well together. Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit until doubled (usually about 2 hours depending on how warm the room is). Divide dough into 3 equal portions.

Pizza Ingredients

Pizza dough
olive oil
pizza sauce
cheese
toppings

Optional:
buffalo sauce
shredded chicken
Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar
Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese
Cabot Sharp Cheddar
Pepperoni

Take 3 cast iron pans and drizzle with olive oil on the bottom and on the sides. Place 1/3 of the dough in each pan and and press down. Cover the pan and let rest for 30-60 minutes whatever you have time for. Turn oven on to the highest temperature possible. Mine was 525 degrees F. Once dough is done rising remove lid and and top with pizza sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings. Or skip the pizza sauce and add buffalo sauce then shredded chicken and pepper jack cheese. This is my favorite pizza by far! I paired the seriously sharp with the pizza sauce and left it plain for a cheese pizza and then did the sharp cheese with pizza sauce and pepperonis for a pepperoni pizza. Turn the stove top onto medium heat and place the cast iron skillet on the burner and cook for 3-5 minutes. The dough will rise more and start to bubble a little. Then place in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and enjoy!







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Monday, November 24, 2014

Toscana Soup




There is a close family friend named Allison that I remember visiting and playing with her kids when I was young. Her and my mom have been friends for years. Recently they decided to go to culinary school together and become catering partners. I work hand in hand with my mom on her share of the catering jobs and her partner Allison does the other half. Both of them have published their own cookbooks and are excellent cooks. I love when I get to cater events with them because they help me to learn new tricks in the kitchen and to become a better cook. This recipe is Allison and she made it for a wedding that we did recently. It is one of her all time favorite soups. It does have a little kick to it I love a good flavor kick. If you were serving it for your kids and family or someone who can't handle much heat I would make sure that you use mild sausage and reduce the amount of crushed red pepper.

Toscana Soup

1 pound sliced russet potatoes
1 pound Italian sausage (in links)
10 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper
2 Tablespoons oregano (flakes)
2 Tablespoons parsley flakes
4 Tablespoons cooked bacon pieces
1 large white onion, chopped
1/4 bunched kale, coarsely chopped
10 chicken bouillon cubes

Cook bacon and set aside. Peel skin off sausage links and cook with chopped onion. Boil potatoes in the 10 cups of water in a large stock pot. When potatoes are almost cooked tender, add all the ingredients. Add the kale right before serving.



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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving recipe round up

Tomorrow night is the first round of "Thanksgiving" that we will have. My husband and I got invited to a nice friends Thanksgiving dinner at one of my closest friends house. No kids allowed just a nice sit down dinner with some of my closest friends. I cannot wait! I was assigned the appetizer and pies.

Sunday night is our second Thanksgiving meal with my immediate family. My mom is one of the best cooks I have ever met and this meal never ever disappoints! I will be bringing sweet potatoes and my favorite cheese ball and crackers along with a cheese and cracker and salami platter.

Then on Thanksgiving day we will be eating with my Dads extended family. Lots of cousins and lots of fun for my kids! Then off the Black Friday shopping with my mom and sisters! We shop (and eat) for almost 24 hours straight and it is by far one of my favorite days of the whole year!

I have collaborated some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes using one of my new favorite websites Foodie.com.



*Disclosure this is a sponsored post by Foodie.com
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sweet Potatoes



This sweet potato recipe is by far my favorite sweet potato recipe I have ever tried. When I received a package of Santé Nuts I knew that it would be the perfect addition to make this recipe even better for our Thanksgiving meal this year! The only challenge was picking which pecans I wanted to add! Cinnamon pecans for the Win! Totally took this recipe up a notch! We have been using our Santé nuts on salads, in our smoothies and in oatmeal, muffins and other yummy recipes.



And here is how you make these yummy sweet potatoes:

First you mix the sweet potatoes, whipping cream, sugar, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and pour into a 9x9 baking dish. Then mix together the topping ingredients and pour over the sweet potato mixture.



Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes


Then serve!



Sweet Potatoes
2 large cans of Sweet Potatoes
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

Topping:
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
4 Tablespoons butter
4 ounce bag of Santé cinnamon pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl mix the potatoes, cream, eggs, butter and vanilla. Then pour into a 9x9 baking dish. In another small bowl make the topping by mixing together the brown sugar, flour, cut in the butter and add the cinnamon pecans (I like to crunch up some of the pecans while I am stirring it). Sprinkle topping over the top and bake for 30-40 minutes, uncovered.


Also give Santé Nuts a try on my most popular appetizer recipe The BEST Cheese Ball!!!



*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by Santé Nuts. They sent me product in exchange in exchange for a post. However all thoughts, opinions, and recipe is my own. 
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Apricot-Pistachio Rolled Pork




With the holiday season quickly approaching I feel like I am constantly looking for great recipes for upcoming parties and events. Whether it is a appetizer, dessert, or a main dish I am always looking for a nicer dish then the average everyday meal. This recipe is what I would like to call a "special occasion" main dish. I would not typically spend this amount of time on a week night meal. In fact when I was making this on a Saturday my husband asked if I was bringing dinner to someone or having people over haha. I actually just wanted to try out my new Thermapen from ThermoWorks that I had just gotten in the mail and he definitely exceeded my expectations so sleek, easy to use, and easy to clean and store. Definitely a must to have in your home! So put it on that Christmas list of yours! Plus they have all kinds of fun colors and other products to check out! So head on over to ThermoWorks and check out their products!



Now onto the amazing recipe and step-by-step pictures of this yummy Apricot-Pistachio Rolled Pork!

First, grab the boneless top loin pork roast. To cut the pork roast into a large rectangle that can be filled and rolled, cut lengthwise about 1/2 inch from top of pork to within 1/2 inch of opposite edge; open flat. Repeat with other side of pork, cutting from the inside edge to the outer dye; open flat to for a rectangle.


Spread about a Tablespoon of the apricot preserves on the pork then sprinkle dried chopped apricots, pistachios, garlic, and salt and pepper over pork within 1 inch of the edge. 


Beginning with the short side, tightly roll up pork.



Secure with wooden picks and then tie with string. 


Then pierce pork all over with a metal or wooden skewer. Brush entire service with brandy. Let stand for 15 minutes. Brush again with brandy. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 


Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Place pork, fat side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. Brush remaining apricot preserves over pork.


 Make crunchy toping by heating butter in a saucepan over medium heat until melted; stir in remaining ingredients; cook and stir for 1 minute. Then set aside and let cool.



 Sprinkle roast with crunchy topping. Roast 30 to 60 minutes longer or until meat thermometer registers from 160-165 degrees F. 


Then it is ready to serve and slice!



Apricot-Pistachio Rolled Pork

4 lb pork, boneless top loin roast (uncut)
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, chopped
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup apricot brandy

crunchy topping:
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons pistachio nuts, chopped
1/4 cup coarsely crushed cracker crumbs (I used club crackers)
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt


First, grab the boneless top loin pork roast. To cut the pork roast into a large rectangle that can be filled and rolled, cut lengthwise about 1/2 inch from top of pork to within 1/2 inch of opposite edge; open flat. Repeat with other side of pork, cutting from the inside edge to the outer dye; open flat to for a rectangle. Spread about a Tablespoon of the apricot preserves on the pork then sprinkle dried chopped apricots, pistachios, garlic, and salt and pepper over pork within 1 inch of the edge. Beginning with short side, tightly roll up pork. Secure with wooden picks and tie with string. Pierce pork all over with metal or wooden skewers. Brush entire surface of pork with brandy. Let stand for 15 minutes. Brush again with brandy. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Place pork, fat side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. Brush remaining apricot preserves over pork. Make crunchy toping by heating butter in a saucepan over medium heat until melted; stir in remaining ingredients; cook and stir for 1 minute. Then set aside and let cool. Sprinkle roast with crunchy topping. Roast 30 to 60 minutes longer or until meat thermometer registers from 160-165 degrees. 



*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Thermoworks. They sent me product in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. No other compensation was given.






Friday, November 14, 2014

Coconut Chicken Curry




Curry is definitely not a staple in our home. I do enjoy the unique flavor of curry on occasion though. My husband backpacked through Thailand for 3 months years ago and said that curry was in almost every dish that he ate for that 3 months so he hasn't eaten too much curry since then. So that explains the reason curry isn't a staple in our home. But on the other hand as a women who cooks dinner practically every night sometimes you have a mix it up! I flip through cookbook after cookbook and look on pinterest for hours to find the meals and sides that I will be making that week. This recipe originally came from one of my families closest friends and neighbors the Cardons. They have a daughter Laura who makes this recipe regularly for her family. So i knew I needed to give it a try and I am so glad that I did! 

Nutiva sent me a fun package full of their coconut oilshorteninghempseedchia seedhemp protein, and red palm oil. Coconut oil is great for your skin, hair, stress relief, teeth, and immune system just to name a few. Their shortening is a good no dairy, organic shortening used in cooking, pie crusts, cookies and other baked goods. Hempseed is great to use in smoothies or oatmeal, on top of yogurt or sprinkled on salads. Chia seed is good to use to bread your chicken or fish, to thicken meatballs instead of breadcrumbs, to make grain free crackers, to thicken soups or gravies, in smoothies or acai bowls and much more. Hemp protein is good in smoothies, to make protein granola bars, in your oatmeal, to make protein power balls, or in any recipe where you would like to add extra protein. Red palm oil is good for you skin and hair as well as on popcorn, sautés and in soups.

This recipe required some sautéing so I decided to give red palm oil a try for the first time. Its mild buttery flavor gave this recipe the perfect touch and helped enhance the other strong flavors in the dish.


Coconut Chicken Curry
2 teaspoons red palm oil
2 cups shredded chicken, cooked
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 red or orange bell pepper, cut in strips
1 yellow squash,thinly sliced
1/2 cup diagonally cut green onions
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup fat free, low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon red curry paste
other:
4 lime wedges
chopped cilantro
white rice
In a large frying pan place the palm oil and sauté the vegetables for a few minutes. While it is sautéing combine the coconut milk, broth, garlic, and curry paste in a medium bowl. Add a little of the mixture to the vegetables. And sauté for a few minutes. Then add the chicken and the rest of the curry mixture. Mix it all together and cook everything until it is well heated and vegetables are slightly tender but still have a little crunch to them. Serve on top of white rice and garnish with lime wedges and chopped cilantro. 

*Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post by Nutiva however thoughts, opinions, and recipe is my own.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Award Winning Chili

Chili and Cornbread is one of my husbands very favorite meals. Even though it usually stays pretty hot here until the end of October I always try to throw in some soups here and there through out the month of October. Then when the busy holiday months of November and December come soups are had once a week. Chili is a perfect meal to make ahead or to throw together when you are in a pinch. Make this chili with Krusteaz Cornbread and you have yourself a great meal!

Award Winning Chili

1 1/2 pound ground beef
1 pound ground sausage
2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can corn
1 large chopped onion
1/2 cup salsa
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can water
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons cumin
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Optional garnishes:
cheese, grated
green onions, thinly sliced
sour cream

Brown ground beef and sausage. Then add seasonings to the meat. Add onions, beans, salsa, tomato sauce, water, and brown sugar and simmer on low for at least 1 hour (or you can throw into a crockpot on low for 4 hours) Then serve. Garnish with chopped onions, cheese, and sour cream.





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