Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gourmet Pizza!!

Pizzas almost ready to come out of the oven! Yes I know opening the door to sneak a pic is letting the heat out. Oh, and yes that is baking soda at the bottom of the oven from strawberry-rhubarb pie overflow. I have yet to find time to clean it and probably won't for a little while.

My favorite toppings: roasted peppers, feta, and kalamata olives (along with oil and garlic as a sauce and some mozzarella)

This one was soooo good!!!!

Roasted fennel, summer squash, tomato, and fresh basil pizza, with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, and thyme balsamic reduction

-I made homemade crust for the first time and it was reeeeeally easy! I used this recipe

-Coat a pan generously with olive oil and stretch dough to cover pan. 

-Instead of sauce I used garlic and olive oil. Just mince finely or crush the garlic with some salt to make a paste. Add desired amount of olive oil and spread all over the pizza dough. 

-I roasted sliced fennel tossed with olive oil and a little salt at 400F until soft.

-I sliced the zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes, and placed them between paper towel to soak up excess moisture.

-Slice mozzarella and place randomly on dough. Top with fennel and layer on squash and tomatoes. Place dollops of fresh ricotta all over pizza and sprinkle the top with fresh basil. Bake at 350-375 for about 20 minutes. Or until crust is golden brown and the middle of the dough is not too soft when you place a spatula under it. (next time I may prebake the crust for about 10 minutes at 350-375, and then do the toppings. After the prebake, I would crank up the heat to 400 to give some good color to the toppings)

-And for the balsamic reduction, I placed about 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar in a small pot with a few thyme sprigs. I let this simmer until the vinegar thickens into what looks like a syrup. It get very sweet and yummy! Drizzle this over the pizza just before serving.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Farmer's Market Goodies!

Fresh picked flowers, lettuce, and fresh fennel
(fennel is on it's way to being roasted for a pizza experiment...stay tuned for updates)

This Pitcher?

or this canning jar?
(This won in the end)

Aren't they beautiful?

Friday, July 9, 2010

4th of July table, Black Eyed Susans, new little jug, and other pretty little things

Well, my gigantic checked tablecloth finally came in handy for our 4th of July BBQ. It was much too large for this table so I folded it in half and perfect!
Does it get any more American than ball canning jars, red gingham, and a vintage Coca Cola crate?
My Coca Cola Crate is one of my most favorite versatile items. Here I used it for paper plates, plastic ware, and a vase of flowers. I love it!

Yes I was the crazy lady pulled over on the side of the road with her scissors cutting the wild black eyed susans. They are my most favorite, but unfortunately they start to wilt almost immediately once picked. I did find a tip online though that if you mix water with 1/2 tsp. of bleach and 1 tsp sugar, it will make flowers last longer. I guess we'll see!

I purchased this little jug today at the local antique mall. I think it's adorable! I also think these books are adorable. Especially the one on top that my Aunt gave me. 

Love it!
Another use for my Coca Cola crate
Oh and I can't not mention my new (well not really new, but new to me) watering can. I'm running out of room for all my fabulous finds! Someone please buy me a house!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Delicious Dinner and Delicious New Plate Set!

I purchased this adorable vintage tablecloth while I was home last week. I love how it matches my new plate settings. 

Dinner was served with homemade iced sweet tea

I love my new plate settings (Corelle Ware from Wal-mart)! 
(the middle plate is not new and did not come with the set, 
but doesn't it just go along so well?)
The best part is they are break and chip free, so my style!

Also, while I was home visiting Joe and I ate, per his request, at Dinosaur BBQ with the company of my lovely sister and brother-in-law. This is no ordinary BBQ. I believe it has been featured on the Foodnetwork 2 or 3 times. After downing a platter of pulled pork, brisket, mac-n-cheese, BBQ baked beans, corn bread, and sweet tea, I recalled my grandmother owning a Dinosaur BBQ cookbook. She said I could borrow it and has since said I can keep it. Lets just say I will be busy cooking many of these recipes this summer. 
When we returned the first dinner I made was from the cookbook. Ya never knew a Dinosaur BBQ recipe could be so fancy as grilled chicken stuffed with goat cheese and asparagus, huh?

...and asparagus, red pepper, & Potato Salad

No worries the recipe was still BBQ style while the chicken was dusted with creole seasoning and stuffed with Italian sausage as well, and finished off with slathering sauce to finish
This was a keeper for sure!

Stuffed Chicken Highbrow:
"As far as Dinosaur patrons are concerned, anything with goat cheese is kinda suspicious. Add some asparagus and you're tippin' the highbrow scale - hence the name of this dish. Many have discovered the tangy difference goat cheese makes when matched up with ourMutha Sauce." 

20 thin asparagus spears
kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, cut in half lengthwise
2 mild Italian sausages
4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
black pepper
5oz goat's cheese
1/4 cup sliced scallions
olive oil
creole seasoning (recipe follows or you can use their cajun foreplay seasoning sold in grocery stores)
1 1/2 cups 
Mutha Sauce (recipe as followed below)*

*Dinosaur BBQ sells their sauce in many grocery stores. I did not have the time to make to Mutha sauce, but their bottled slathering sauce does just as well.

Wash asparagus and cut off the rough bottoms. Pour an inch of water into a skillet and season with salt and add garlic cloves. Bring to a Simmer. Slide in asparagus and cook til tender. Remove from water, discarding the garlic. Set aside. In another skillet, cook the sausages whole and set aside.

Pull the tenders off the breasts. Leave the breast whole and with the smooth side down, open like a book on a work surface. Flatten then with a mallet or large glass bottle until 1/4 in. thick. Season breasts with salt and pepper.  Slice the sausages thinly on the diagonal and place one on each side of the butterflied chicken breast, leaving a thin border round the edge of the chicken. On top of the sausage, layer 5 thin asparagus spears, letting the points hang out the ends. Cut 12 thin slices of the goat cheese and layer 3 on top of the asparagus on each breast. Sprinkle with the scallions.

Fold the uncovered lobe of each breast over the stuffed side. Press around the edges to seal. Gently oil each breast and season with salt and pepper and creole seasoning. 

Build a bed of coals in your grill. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes on each side. Check the temperature with and instant read thermometer. It should register 160. 
 Let the breasts rest for 5 minutes and slather with Mutha sauce.

Creole Seasoning :
1/2 cup paprika
1/2 cup granulated garlic
1/4 cup granulated onion
3 Tbl black pepper
2 tsp white pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/4 cup dried thyme
2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbl sugar

Combine everything in a bowl and mix it up well to blend. Store in plastic or glass container with lid

Mutha Sauce:"Just like the name says, this is the basis - the true mother of all the sauces we have in this book. It is a balanced blend of sweet, savory, spicy, and smoky flavors that acts as our leapin' off point for creating a world of barbecue sensations. It can even stand alone as a traditional slaterin' sauce for ribs and chicken."

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup minced onion
1/2 cup minced green pepper
1 jalapeno, sliced and minced
pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper
2tbsp minced garlic
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup cayenne pepper sauce
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1tbsp liquid smoke (optional)

Pour oil into a large saucepan and set over medium high heat. Toss in the onions, jalapenos and give a good stir. Season with salt and pepper and cook until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Dump in the rest of the ingredients besides the liquid smoke. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the sauce can simmer. Simmer a total of 10 minutes, then swirl in the liquid smoke and let it all cool. Use as needed and save the remainder in a container for the next BBQ!

Asparagus, Red Pepper, & Potato Salad

The Veggies
1 pound new red potatoes
1 pound asparagus
1/2 large red pepper, seeded
1/2 cup slivered red onion

Dressing (this is really good on regular tossed salad also)
5 tablespoons creole mustard or spicy brown
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic pressed or finely chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
tabasco sauce

Scrub potatoes and cook in boiling salted water to cover until tender. Without peeling cut potatoes into quarters (this is if they are very small. If they are large cut them in 3/4 inch cubes). Snap off tough bottoms of asparagus and dicard. Then cook the tops in a shallow pan of simmering salted water until tender crisp. Drain and shock in cold water. Slice asparagus into 1 1/2 inch pieces and add to the potatoes. Cut the pepper into sticks about the same width and length as the asparagus. Put in the bowl and add in the onion.

Mix dressing by stirring together the mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic in a bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly while whisking constantly to make a creamy dressing. Add a couple dashes of tabasco if you wish. 

Splash the dressing onto the vegetables and give the salad a good stir. Serve right away for best color in the asparagus.