Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Homemade Pizza Dough

Michael making a BBQ chicken pizza. He uses BBQ sauce instead of tomato sauce and tops it with sliced grilled chicken, red onions and shredded cheddar cheese. Yum, yum, yum!

Yes, we make our own pizza dough. No, we are not professional pizza makers. Making your own pizza dough is actually easier than you may think! Give it a'll be surprised!


1 1/3 cup of warm-to-hot water (about 100 degrees F)
2 1/4 teaspoons of dry active yeast (1 packet)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 1/2 cups of flour

Kitchen Essentials:

KitchenAid Mixer with Flat Beater Attachment
Measuring cups and spoons

Large cutting board

Rolling bin


In the stand mixer, mix the yeast with the warm water. Allow for the yeast and water to sit for a few minutes in order to activate the yeast. Make sure the dough hook is on the mixer and turn it on low. Add the sugar, salt and olive oil and then begin to slowly incorporate the flour in half-cup increments until all 3 ½ cups are added. Once completely mixed, allow the dough to sit for about 30 minutes covered with a clean kitchen towel to give it a chance to rise.

Dust a large cutting board or clean surface with flour and roll out the dough into your desired shape. Add toppings and bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 20-40 minutes, depending on how thick the dough is.

Michael's Tip: To make a flavorful dough, simply add two sprigs of chopped up rosemary into the dough.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fruity Champagne

A modern twist to the classic simple, so stylish, so good! All you need is three ingredients to make this refreshing drink.

2/3 cup champagne
1/3 cup fruit punch
Strawberry for garnish
Chill the bottle of champagne for a few hours before serving. Rinse and dry the strawberries.

Kitchen Essentials:
Champagne glass
Measuring cups

Pop open the bottle of champagne and pour into the glass. Next, pour the fruit punch. Garnish with a strawberry. Sip and relax. Makes one fruity cocktail.

Rosemary Potato Wedges

These fragrant potato wedges are a weekly special at our home. It’s a healthy alternative to French fries and easy to prepare. We like to use fresh rosemary springs from our garden to add robust flavor. Don’t have a green thumb? You don’t need a backyard garden to grow your own rosemary. You can simply buy a small rosemary bush in a pot and keep it in your kitchen. Then, use it on everything except dessert! Make sure you water it everyday and place it near a window. Bon appétit!

2 baking potatoes
¼ cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper

Kitchen Essentials:
Baking sheet
Parchment Paper
Cutting board
Large bowl
Measuring spoons

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash and dry the potatoes.

Chop the rosemary leaves into tiny pieces and place into the bowl. Pour the olive oil into a bowl and add the salt, pepper and rosemary. Whisk the oil mixture until well distributed. Slice the potatoes into ½ inch thick wedges and toss into the bowl with the thongs in order to coat the wedges evenly. Place the wedges onto the baking sheet and pop the sheet into the oven for 30-45 minutes depending on how crispy you like them. Makes enough for two hungry people.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Our veggie/herb garden

Because we cook so much, we decided to grow our own veggies and herbs. We put basil and rosemary in almost everything we make, so we are actually saving a lot of money in the long run! Michael has a green thumb (he got that from his mom and grandmother) and takes really good care of our garden. So far, we have rosemary, basil, Thai basil, mint, thyme, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, chives, oregano and Mexican Long Jim peppers and red bell peppers.

Cherry Tomatoes



Caprese Panini with Prosciutto

You'll have as much fun making this panini as you will eating it! It's gooey, crunchy and yummy. Enjoy!

Loaf of French bread (sliced)
1 tomato
A few basil leaves (about 2-3 per sandwich)
Fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 pound of prosciutto ham
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Pinch of Italian seasoning
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Kitchen Essentials:
Panini press (or a George Foreman grill)
Cutting board
Pastry brush
Small bowl for olive oil
Paper towel
Flat spatula

Turn panini press or grill on to pre-heat. Slice the mozzarella cheese into 1/2 inch slices and pat dry with paper towel. (Fresh mozzarella cheese has a lot of moisture and will make your panini soggy if you don't pat it dry. Trust me, I learned the hard way!) Pour one tablespoon of olive oil into a small bowl.

Begin to assemble your panini by brushing olive oil on both sides of each slice of bread with a pastry brush. Next, place two slices of mozzarella cheese on the bottom slice of bread. Layer the tomato, ham and basil leaves over the cheese and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the second slice of bread over the layers and top with Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Place panini on the grill and close tightly. Allow the panini to toast for 5-8 minutes. (Don't sneak a peek unless you want your panini to fall apart!) Once the panini is browned and toasted, quickly slide a flat spatula under and place on a plate. Cut in half and munch away!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Three Cheese Spinach Rigatoni

This is one of our favorite weeknight dinners! It's perfect for summer because it's light and doesn't weigh you down. Serve it with a small salad and you are good to go, plus it's a quick and easy meal! Serves 4.

½ box of Rigatoni pasta
Pinch of salt
Splash of extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 ounces goat cheese
1 ounce mascarpone cheese
½ of a lemon (juice and zest)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves (separate 1 ounce for garnish)
Freshly grated Parmesan

Kitchen Essentials:
Large Pot
Large food processor
Large Knife
Cutting board
Measuring spoons and cups

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and olive oil and cook until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.
Mince the garlic in a food processor. Add the goat cheese, mascarpone cheese, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, lemon juice and zest, and 4 ounces of spinach leaves. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Set the cheese and spinach mixture aside.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta into the pot. Place the cheese and spinach mixture over the pasta mixture and mix to coat, adding the reserved pasta water little by little until the sauce is moist. Chop the remaining spinach and toss into the mixture. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the pasta, serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Naked Wontons

It’s like a wonton, but without the wrapper and the deep-frying, which makes it instantly healthier. These pork and shrimp balls may be naked, but they don’t skimp on flavor. Serve this fun appetizer at your next get-together and you guaranteed to hear some “wows.” This recipe makes enough for a small get-together of 6-8 people.

1 jalapeño pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1 lime (zest and juice)
Handful of cilantro
1 pound of ground pork
½ pound of uncooked deveined shrimp
Vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of honey
½ cup of low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon of sesame oil

Kitchen Essentials:
Food processor
Cutting board
Measuring cups and spoons
Chopping knife
Large non-stick skillet

Combine jalapeño pepper, garlic, lime zest and cilantro in the food processer. Then add the pork and shrimp and pulse until blended evenly. Make teaspoon-sized balls with your hands and sauté in hot oil in a non-stick pan until they are fully cooked and golden brown.
To make the dipping sauce, whisk together lime juice, honey, soy sauce and sesame oil. Garnish with thyme.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Personal Mini Pineapple Cakes

I saw this recipe on Giada's show on the Food Network (my favorite celebrity chef!) and got inspired to make it with my own little twist - the sugary glaze drizzled on top. As if they aren't sweet enough without it! Our friend's Melissa and Adrian came over for dinner the other night and I made the mini Bundt cakes for dessert. She said she thought they were adorable and he didn't say much because he was too busy savoring his personal mini Bundt cake! If you want to make a dessert that looks as good as it tastes, look no further than this recipe. The best part don't have to share! Makes 6 mini cakes.

1 20-ounce can of pineapple (drained and juice reserved: 2 tablespoons, 2/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon for glaze)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 egg whites
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 box white cake mix
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Cooking Essentials:
6-cup mini Bundt pan (available at Michael’s)
Cooking spray
Can opener
Food processor
Measuring cups and spoons
10-inch nonstick skillet
Wooden spoon or spatula
Kitchenaid mixer (or hand mixer and large bowl)
Oven mitts or kitchen towels
Small bowl
Serving dishes
Parchment Paper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Spray the mini Bundt pan with Pam
Take 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter out of the refrigerator

Place the pineapple in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, combine the chopped pineapple, 2 tablespoons of the reserved pineapple juice, sugar, and butter over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook until the liquid evaporates and the mixture begins to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Spoon about two teaspoons of the pineapple mixture into the bottom of the mini Bundt pan.
Combine the egg whites, water, vegetable oil, almond extract, cake mix, and 2/3 cup pineapple juice in the Kitchenaid mixer bowl. Beat the mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour the batter over the cooked pineapple.
Bake for 28 to 30 minutes until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and the tops are golden. Allow the cakes to cool for 15 minutes. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the cakes. Put a baking sheet, upside-down, on top of the parchment paper. Flip both pans over and allow the cakes to cool completely while still in the Bundt pan, about 1 hour. In the meantime, combine ¼ cup of powdered sugar and 1 tbsp. of the reserved pineapple juice in a bowl. Whisk until glaze is nice and thick. Add more or less powered sugar depending on how thick you want the glaze to be. Unmold the cakes onto a serving dish and drizzle glaze on top.

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