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One thing I really enjoy making is pizza.  It’s really one of the easiest things to make. You can make your own dough, or buy a pre-made dough, or go to your local pizza place and ask them for dough.  Summer is officially here, and let’s enjoy it by eating homemade pizza, good fresh salads, and a glass of rose wine!!

I love eating out on our patio, even though now it’s covered in chalk, many mobile kid toys, and baby pool.  It looks a lot different from a few years ago, but now it looks used and lived in so to speak.  I wouldn’t change it for anything, well maybe some grass and rain would be nice, but we have beautiful weather day in day out, 75 everyday (okay I’m bragging a little ;)).  Enjoy!!!

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Whole wheat pizza dough:

1 cup water, heated to 110 degrees (very warm, almost too hot for comfort)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) rapid-rise or instant yeast
2¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt

 

White Pizza with Leeks and Artichokes:

  • 1 leek
  • 1 jar artichokes hearts
  • 1 small container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil for brushing and salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbs. butter

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees
Whisk water, sugar, oil and yeast in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Allow yeast to proof for 5 minutes.
Pulse flour, Parmesan, and salt in food processor until combined. While running the food processor, slowly pour in the water mixture and process until a shaggy ball forms, about 1 minute.
Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and quickly knead dough a few times until it comes together. Halve the dough. Let dough sit in flour for about 20 minutes.  In this time you can prep your veggies or meats, or whatever you’d like to top your pizza with.  If your making this white pizza.  Cook your leeks first, you want them sort of caramelized.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes on low with salt and pepper.  On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough into two rounds about 11 inches in diameter. I used a large cookie sheet with parchment a baked my this way. When I used a pre-made crust from Whole Foods or wherever I just place this pizza on the oven rack.  Once you’ve rolled out your dough place it on the lined cookie sheet.  Brush the outer edge with olive oil.  Next top with mozzarella, leeks and artichokes.  Then top with ricotta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 15 minutes.
Chopped Kale Salad:

  • 2 cups tuscan kale (or whatever kale you like)
  • 2 cups hearts of romaine
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or montery jack
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped salami
  • 1/4 cup salted pistatios
  • 1/2 cup diced English cucumber
  • 1/4-1/2 cup roasted red pepper
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/16-1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

You can buy roasted peppers or make them yourself.  If you want to make them yourself, you can roast them in the oven at 450, for 20-30 minutes.  Or you can just place them right on the open flame on your stove.  Once the pepper has been blackened, let it sit for about 30 minutes.  Once it has cooled, peel off skin, and cut up.  Season with salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil.  For the salad, cut up your kale and romaine, and then pulse in your Cuisinart.  Put salad together. Then shake your vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss enjoy!!

 

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Warning…warning….. this post is going to be flooded with photos of my favorite two year old!!!  Our boy turned two.  I can’t believe he is two. Oliver is such a sweet, caring, loving oh so loving, and adorable boy.  There are days when I can not believe that I get to be his mama, me!!!  We are a pack, we all are!!!  I’ve realized that every birthday of his brings on new emotions that I feel about him.  When I say two is a magical number, it is, because everyday I feel like I know him more, then the day before if that even makes sense.  Or maybe it’s that I feel closer to him, then I did the day before.  You think how on earth can that be possible, but it is.  Here’s an example we go to story time every Monday, and I love I truly love watching him sing and dance and get excited.  And I know just how lucky I am that I get to be there with him, and I get to see that smile on his face.  I seriously get weepy when I see him do this, or whenever it’s something that gives him pure joy.  I see it over and over, and still have to hold back the tears in public and not make a coo coo fool of myself.  I don’t tire of it, I love it!!! I love this child beyond what I ever thought I could or would love another.  My baby is two, how did this happen so quickly, my baby is two!!!!

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And yes I do have a recipe here, in between all my weepiness.  Our friend just had a baby girl, and get this she had her on Oliver’s birthday.  I was going to make some food to send over to them, but instead decided to make chocolate chip cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies are seriously my favorite cookie ever…ever!!!  I change the recipe all the time, but here is the one I used this time…enjoy!!!

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I leave you with my favorite pictures of Oliver from 1-2 years

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Brown sugar chocolate chip cookies with lots and lots of salt

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 2 eggs (room temp)
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup turbino (raw) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (or the flour of your liking)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, or whatever chocolate you like coarsely chopped
  • 4 -6 tablespoons flaked sea salt (maldon)

Directions:

Chop your chocolate into chunks. Beat butter until smooth.  Add sugar, beat for about a minute.  Add one egg at time after sugar is combined, then vanilla.  Push ingredients down, then mix again.  Next add all your dry ingredients…..DO NOT ADD THE FLAKED SALT TO YOUR DRY INGREDIENTS, THIS IS A TOPPER!!!  Then with a wooden spoon mix in your chocolate.  Roll into log onto plastic wrap.  Chill for an hour.  If you want you can just make these as drop cookies right away, you don’t have to wrap them into log if you don’t have time.  Pre-heat oven 375, once they’ve cooled for an hour.  Cut them into 1/2 slices.  Top with flaked salt. Bake for 9-11 minutes.  Once they’re cripy on the outside but soft in the center, take out of oven and let them sit on the sheet for 10 minutes.  They will still bake a little more.  The key to a good chocolate chip cookie, is the cripy edge and the chewy center.  If you don’t them this way, then you stink, just kidding.. cook them for about 11-12 minutes, and still let them cool on the tray for 10 minutes.  Then cool on wrack and then eat…yum yum…enjoy!!!!

 

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My mom came for a visit over the Easter holiday, and Oliver hasn’t seen my mom since Christmas, so he was a little shy when he first saw her Saturday morning.  He warmed up really fast, and was saying Meme, giving big hugs and kisses. We facetime a few times a week,  but seeing someone in person is the real deal.  It’s really sweet whenever we have a guests staying with us.  Oliver runs to the guestroom when he wakes up and pushes the door open.  Like I’m up let’s play, come on, hop to it.  It’s very sweet, but luckily our guests are up and he’s not waking them, at least I think so.

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We normally go with the flow when we have visitors, and maybe plan a thing or two.  It just seems to work out better that way.  One thing we did plan was a brunch at our house.  Dino and Kevin came, and Kevin brought his new puppy Willa, who Oliver is in love with.  Big dog lover we have here.  It’s so sweet to hear him constantly giggling at the dog, pretty heart exploding moments.

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My mom and I did a few other things on our visit that I will talk about in my next post.  I really want to share all the things I made for the brunch.  But for now I want to talk about the this amazing ricotta cheese cake.  This is my godmother Joy’s recipe, which comes from her mother-in-law.  It is oh so delicious, light, fluffy and full of yummy cheese.  And I’m so sad to say but all the great photos I took of the cake were mistakenly deleted:((  Trust me this makes me sad because it’s such a beautiful cake.

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I’ve known my godmother for all my life.  She is my mothers best friend from high school and still is.  She is very much like a second mother, and even a third grandmother to Oliver.  The same goes for everyone in our family, my sister and brother.  We’ve all grown up together.  But something is always missing when we see each other now.  Three and half years ago Fred passed away, Joy’s husband, and my godfather.  I have so many countless memories of him.  So many summer nights spent at their house, running around in the yard chasing fire flies, swimming in the pool, so many bbq’s,  hide and seek, every single fourth of July, Christmas eve, birthdays, and my wedding.  The thing about Fred was he was so much fun, his laugh was contagious.  He was such a great cook, and you could tell he loved cooking when he was doing it, and by how good his food was.  You always hear people say when someone passes that “they lived life to the fullest”, and it might sound cliche but I can tell you Fred did.  He enjoyed life, he was fun to be with, and his laugh, you can still hear it.  He is missed and will always be missed.  I’m sad that he didn’t get to meet Oliver, he would’ve had a blast with him. He was a lover of kids, and all around people person.  So making this cake made me think of him because this is his mothers recipe and my mom was here making it.  Yes, she was the one that actually made it, Oliver slept and I stuffed my face with hummus and pita chips and read her the recipe. It was perfect, the cake , the company, and the memories.

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Ingredients:

1 3/4 lb. ricotta cheese (room temp)

1 lb. cream cheese (room temp)

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 eggs (room temp)

6 Tbsp flour

1 pint sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

cinnamon

 

Directions:

Preheat oven 350.  Beat together ricotta, cream cheese, and sugar.  Continue to beat adding one egg at a time. Add vanilla. Fold in sour cream and then flour.  Pour into greased and floured 10″ spring form pan. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.  Bake for one hour. When done turn off oven and let the cake sit for one hour in the oven.  When cake is cooled wrap in foil.  Place in frig and let it sit for 24 hours.  Eat the next day and enjoy!!!

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I’ve been wanting to post this cake recipe, but Oliver and I came down with the stomach flu, and then it got Jonathan a few days later, so needless to say the last thing I wanted to talk or write about was food.  It’s funny when I was sick and wasn’t taking care of Oliver, I would scroll through Instagram, or Facebook.  And I realized how many people post things about food, whether they made it, had it made for them, or just something they were craving.  But I couldn’t handle it, I wanted to barf on my iPad.  It made me understand how people can be over the food posts, and pics, I get it.

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But I have realized I may be a little obsessed with food.  While Oliver was sick we had lots of screen time, because we were both too sick to really do anything, so we both kinda laid around.  Jonathan came in the room to check on us, and Oliver was watching a video of he and his cousin over Christmas.  He loves watching these types of videos.  Anyway my sister and I were talking in the background about food, and Jonathan made a comment about how so many of our family videos I’m talking about food with someone else.  Is it just me, or do other people enjoy talking about it too?  Maybe I am a little too into food. I love going to new restaurants.  I love reading about food, no lie, if I’m not reading a book, I will lay in bed and read one of my cook books (my sister does the same thing).  I’m always ripping out recipes.  I love when family or friends come to visit, because that means I can cook to hearts delight for them.  I love reading other food blogs. So yeah, maybe I am a little obsessed but I guess there are worse things to be obsessed with.  I’m a food geek.

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For me, cooking, and baking is a release.  I feel like I’m doing something creative, I love working with my hands, and what I really love more then anything is to make something for someone else.  It’s the people pleaser in me.  I know not everything I make is 100% healthy.  But the way I look at it, I made it and I know exactly what I’m eating, and where it came from.   Everything in moderation.  I don’t deign myself anything, but I also don’t over do it.  It’s not a healthy way to live, to say “I never eat sweets, or I never eat carbs, or gluten” (unless you have celiac)  How boring.

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I made some homemade pizzas a few weeks ago when my in-laws were visiting, and had some leftover ricotta, because a certain almost two year old threw an extra tub in my cart.  Not the first time this has happened without me realizing it til I’d gotten home.  So I decided to make a ricotta-orange pound cake.  I was going to make my god mothers famous ricotta cheese cake, but I’m going to make it when my mom is here for Easter.  And that will be a post because that cake is to die for!!!  Both of these are a perfect cake for Easter dessert.  I was going to do a strawberry topping for this cake, but I’ll be honest.  It doesn’t need anything.  It tastes perfect on it’s own.  It’s light, has a ton of flavor, and is filling if that makes sense.

I’m hoping to do a homemade Easter candy post.  I’m trying to figure out what to make….any suggestions?  But here are a few Easter candy posts from the past…..the ever so famous cadbury creme egg, the peanut butter egg, or the peep. Enjoy!!!

 

recipe adapted from giada de laurentiis

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • zest of one orange (I used mandarin because they’re in season)
  • juice of orange
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9′ cake pan.  Beat butter until smooth and ribbon like.  Add sugar, and eggs one at a time once the sugar is incorporated.  Next add vanilla, juice and zest.  Then add ricotta.  Last add all your dry ingredients.  Bake for 50 minutes.  Let cake cool for about 20 minutes before flipping.  Once it has cooled down you can sprinkle on some powdered sugar or not.  Enjoy.

 

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Well I think the weather forecaster may have read my 80 degree taco post, because we’ve been having what some might call winter here.  Its been rainy and in the 60’s during the day, and 40-50’s at night.  So needless to say there has been some sweater wearing, jackets, and the heat is on.  In the past when it would rain Jonathan and I would go to breakfast in the morning, or I would make a pancake breakfast, and the rest of the day we would lounge around watching movies.  Times have change, and with a toddler in tow, you have to get creative, and keep their attention and avoid as many breakdowns as possible.  So we baked this weekend, went on hikes when it wasn’t raining, read lots of books, crafted, and watched a few movies later when Ollie was in bed.

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My new mom friend invited us over for a Sunday supper.  I’m fortunate that a lot of my really good friends had babies around the same time I did.  So its always awesome hanging out with them.  The downfall is most of them have gone back to work, or school.  Which is something I myself will be doing next year, going back to school after 20 years.  That’s something for another post.  Trying to make new friends besides the friends I already have has been difficult for me.  Trying to connect to someone I really like, is not so easy.  I’ve sorted out the crazy mom’s and I’ve learned my lesson to not give my number out to just any mom.

 

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I met my new friend Sara through a client and good friend of mine.  She kept trying to get us to connect but both us where not really interested.  Maryjane finally convinced us that we would really like each other.  And she was right, we do like each other.  Its so nice to meet someone new, and actually like them.  They had us over for dinner on Sunday and it was great.  Some of her family came too, that also have little ones.  It’s nice so the kids can have fun and run around.  She made a delicious bolognese sauce with pasta, and a really good salad.  I wanted to make something that was suiting the rainy and cold day.  So I made a blood orange upside down polenta cake, served with a bourbon creme anglaise.  It came out good.  I liked it and I think everyone else did too, I think.  I normally have an after picture of the it, but I forgot so you’ll have come up with your own image!! Enjoy!

 

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Ingredients for cake:

  • unsalted butter 2 sticks plus 3 tablespoons, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2-3 thinly sliced blood oranges
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup fine cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

First I cooked the orange slices in 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until the peel is translucent.  Take them out lay in a 9 inch cake pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  At this time preheat your oven to 350. In a saucepan add 3 Tablespoons of butter along with your brown sugar.  Cook until the butter is melted and all is incorporated.  Pour over orange slices.   Mix butter until smooth, then sugar, and one egg at a time.  Next add your vanilla and sour cream.  Then your dry ingredients.  Bake for 40-50 minutes.  Test with a tooth pick. Let cake cool for about 10 minutes and then flip your cake out onto the plate you want to use for serving.

 

Ingredients for bourbon creme anglaise:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon

Directions:

 

  • Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside.
  • Place milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt until thick and light. Slowly pour in half of the hot milk, while stirring constantly. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the remaining milk mixture, stirring constantly. Stir in bourbon.
  • Place saucepan over low heat and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly. Continue cooking until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat.
  • Strain creme anglaise through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Set bowl in ice water bath and stir creme anglaise until cooled. Keep refrigerated until ready to use, up to 1 day.
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    I hope you all had a lovely heart day on Saturday.  We had a fun day out.  We spent the day at Arboretum so Oliver could chase after some Peacocks, and run through their sprinklers.  Pretty heavenly for him.  Then an early dinner at out favorite Mexican place, and some heavenly margaritas for us.  Mellow and nothing really out of the normal, but still nice to have all three of us together for a whole day.

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    The day after we spent with our favorite KK sisters.  Karen moved back to Texas and was visiting with her new beau so we were all excited to see her and meet the new boy.  He was awesome.  A true cowboy, even took his hat off when he introduced himself.  Winner!!!  Katherine was here with her baby boy McKinney who we all want to eat up.  He’s such a chill and sweet baby.  And KK was just back from a ton of work traveling.  I love hanging out with these girls….so much!!! We were going to BBQ here, but then decided to go out.  I had everything to make this salad for the BBQ, so decided to still make it and munch on it this week for a snack.  My father in law makes something similar that I really like.  He makes his with zucchini, hazelnuts and Parmesan…… delicious.  So I took his salad and did a different spin on it. The great thing about this salad is you can make it any time of the year, which is why I’m calling it the any season salad.

     

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    Ingredients:

    2 zucchini

    1 medium apple (I prefer pink lady)

    1/4 cup feta

    1/3 cup pistachios

    handful of chopped mint

    1 lemon zest, and juiced

    dash of olive oil

    salt and pepper

     

    Directions:

    Cut apple and zucchini into thick matchsticks.  Place in bowl.  Chop mint or you can just tear it too.  Top with mint, feta, nuts, lemon juice and olive oil.  Toss.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!!!