Monday, August 29, 2011

Tips and Techniques for Perfect Pizza on the Barbeque

I am a huge pizza fan, but only for homemade. Frozen pizza and delivery pizza just don’t hold up! My house gets so warm in the summer, so I am always cooking outdoors on the barbeque. Pizza is a favorite! I not only make pizza with this crust recipe, but breadsticks and flatbreads.
In light of this, I thought I would share my pizza crust recipe and how I grill them on the barbeque!
Pizza Crust Recipe
3 ½ to 4 cups of all purpose flour
1 ¼ cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
First, start off by “blooming” 1 tablespoon of yeast in 1 ¼ cups warm water. Make sure the water is not too warm, or you’ll kill the yeast. The water should feel just barely warm. Add the yeast and stir together. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes. You should see some little bubbles on the top.
In a large food processor (or, you can use a mixter, or stir together by hand) fitted with a dough blade, add 3 cups flour and ½ teaspoon each ground black pepper and sea salt. Add ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. With food processor running, add yeast mixture. This should form a sticky dough. Add ½ -1 cup more flour, until mixture holds together is just barely sticky. Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil. Form dough into a large ball, place in bowl, turn to coat in oil, and allow dough to raise until doubled in size.

To prep your crust for the barbeque, brush a cutting board with oil. Place a piece of dough on the cutting board, brush the top, then form into a rough circular shape. Flatten into ¼ inch to ½ inch.

Place onto a med grill, directly onto the grate.

Cook for about 1 minute – you will see some large bubbles begin to form, as in picture above.

Flip the crust, then begin topping it with your choice of toppings, beginning with sauce.

Spread the sauce of choice first, then top with assorted toppings, followed by cheese. Close the lid to melt the cheese. Keep an eye on the bottom crust, you don’t want it to burn. If the crust looks like it’s done, pizza can be moved to the top rack in the barbeque to melt the cheese. Remove to a cutting board, slice, and serve! In the picture above, this pizza is topped with a creamy garlic sauce, spinach, grilled zucchini, artichoke hearts, and fresh mozzarella, gorgonzola, monterey jack, and mozzarella cheeses.

 This one is topped with marinara, Canadian bacon, grilled chicken, sliced red pepper, crimini mushrooms, and monterey jack and mozzarella cheeses.
Here are some pizza topping suggestions:
Pepperoni, Canadian bacon, bacon, grilled chicken, sausage,
Grilled zucchini, grilled eggplant, artichoke hearts, olives, pineapple, sliced fresh or roasted peppers, jalepenos, mushrooms, onions, spinach, fresh basil, sliced fresh tomatoes (I love heirlooms!)
Assorted cheeses, such as fresh mozzarella, gorgonzola, Monterey jack, Parmesan, ricotta, and cheddar.

Here is the finished white pizza, topped with some fresh basil once it's removed from the grill. If you add the basil while the pizza is still on the heat, it will turn brown.

And, served it up with a fresh peach daquiri to make a satisfying dinner!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Banana Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

In honor of Cupcake Day, I decided to make Banana Cupcakes. Better late than never, right? In my defense, my bananas weren't ripe....
This morning, I created a banana cupcake recipe that is awesome! My parents came by today and were able to sample them - and the cupcakes and frosting received high ratings! The frosting turned out a little softer than I would have liked, but I am hoping it firms up a bit after some time to chill.
Here are my 4 tips for a perfect butter-based cake or cupcake:
#1 DON'T overmix or your cake will be tough
#2 Make them by hand - you will tire out before you can overmix them!
#3 Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature before mixing
#4 No peeking in the oven while the cupcakes bake - it lets too much heat out
 Ever since I started making butter-based cakes by hand, using only a whisk, spatula, or wooden spoon, I have never had a cake fall or come out too heavy. As a bonus, you burn a few calories making it!
Here is the finished cupcake!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tonight's Dinner, with an Asian Flair!

As many of you know, I love to cook as much as I love to get a good deal! My inspiration for dinner came from getting a 9oz package of fresh japanese style noodles for 50 cents! Score!
After a trip to China 6 years ago, I've had a fond spot for Asian cuisine. Most Asian style recipes are relatively low in fat, ,which is a great healthy option! Tonight's dinner consisted of zucchini, snow peas, carrots, mushroom and japanese style noodles in a sauce made with fish sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, tamarind paste, water, and cracked pepper. It was pretty tasty, in my opinion!

Asian Style Noodle Stir Fry

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dinner tonight!

I am very blessed in that every year, I am able to go on a family fishing trip with my husband and his dad. So, I usually have a freezer stocked with some great fish! Tonights dinner was a Pan-Seared Salmon with a Creamy Mushroom Sherry sauce, served over Parmesan Polenta with steamed broccoli. Can I just say YUM! This sauce is very versatile, as I have made something similar to it to be served with steak. When you pan sear salmon, always sear the presentation side first and you will get a great crust!
Here, the salmon is nearly finished and it has a beautiful, golden sear on the presentation side...

Here is the finished dinner! Both the polenta and the sauce have dijon mustard in them, so they are subtly tied together. The colors are amazing! Not only is it beautiful, but the salmon is so good for you. Definitely a new favorite for me!


Since I am new to blogging, this will be a learn as I go situation! I am looking forward to sharing some food ideas and recipes with you. Trying to find inspiration some days can certainly be challenging. So, for inspiration, I thought I would turn to my followers (which at this point is only me...) and ask: What dishes or types of food would you like me to post? Does anyone have any specific requests? What do you have a hunger for? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beginning the Journey

As I continue to move forward with my cookbook dream, I am excited to have finally found a name! As I begin on this journey of blogging, I look forward to getting to know all of my new followers! Thank you in advance for your support!