Friday, April 27, 2012

Easy Peasy Pesto

Pin It Now! Ya know how we made homemade pizzas a couple weeks ago?

Well, see, a tomato basil pizza only uses so much basil.  But when you buy basil at the store, ya gotta buy a ton of it.  So after we used all eight leaves of it on our pizza, I thought "Now what in the heck am I gonna do with all this basil??"  Well, duh, make pesto. 

This is a very simple, basic pesto recipe.  Typically pesto calls for pine nuts, but those bad boys were expensive.  I used toasted almond slivers instead and it was just as delicious.  I've also heard that you can use walnuts in place of the pine nuts.  Having never tried that myself I can't back that up, so don't you go quoting me on that now.

Unless you try it with walnuts and it comes out great. Then you can say it was all my idea.

This makes about a cup or so of pesto.  Obviously this is great on pasta.  We've been putting it on pizzas and sandwiches, which is muy delicioso.  Aren't I fancy with my spanish?? 

1 package fresh basil leaves (about two cups)
3-4 garlic gloves
1/2 c toasted almond slivers
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
olive oil

Rinse and dry basil leaves.  In a food processor, blitz basil leaves, garlic cloves and almonds until coarsely smooth (is that a term??)  Add in the parmesan and process briefly.  With the machine running, slowly add in olive oil until the pesto comes together and is mostly smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pizza Night: Margherita Pizza and White Pizza

Pin It Now! Who doesn't love pizza?  I'm a pizza fanatic.  I could probably live on pizza and sushi alone, no joke.  It's hard to decide what I like best - hot fresh pizza from the oven, or cold leftover pizza the next day.  I'm pretty sure there's a law somewhere that says you have to bite the tip off of a slice of cold pizza before reheating it in the oven.

We've attempted homemade pizzas in the past, and for some reason the dough always fights me to the point of wanting to stomp my feet like a child and throw the dough and rolling pin through the window.  Do you have any tricks for getting the dough to roll out without constantly springing back?  Sweet Marina from Yummy Mummy gave me great advice: let the dough come to room temperature.  Marina is a homemade pizza pro (have you seen her pizzas??  Go.  Now.  Stop reading my boring post and go check out her amazing pizza recipes.)  The dough rolled out with ease once it was at room temp.  Thank you, Marina, for saving my sanity!

And my windows.

We decided to make two pizzas: one classic margherita (with a little twist - feta!) and the other a white pizza with garlic cream sauce in place of the tomato sauce.  They were both delicious and extremely simple to put together.  For the white pizza toppings we went with artichoke hearts and bell pepper slices.  Have fun with your combinations.  What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Margherita Pizza
1 prepared pizza dough*
marinara sauce
shredded mozzarella
crumbled feta
tomato slices
fresh basil leaves

White Pizza
1 prepared pizza dough*
garlic cream sauce (recipe below)
shredded mozzarella
toppings of your choice

*Many grocery stores have prepared pizza dough available in the refrigerated sections.  We get ours from a small pizzeria down the street.

Preheat your oven to as hot as it will go.  For us this is 550 degrees.  You want your oven screamin' hot to get a crispy crust.

As I mentioned, the dough rolls out without incident at room temperature.  Save yourself from frustration and set the dough out about 30 minutes prior.  Simply roll out the dough and top with sauce, cheese and toppings!  Bake for approx 8 minutes (depending on thickness, of course).

Garlic cream sauce for white pizza
16 oz. heavy cream
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer, stirring often to prevent scorching.  Add in garlic, salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to simmer on low, stirring often, for approx 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and toss in the parmesan cheese, stirring to combine.  Let the sauce sit while you roll out the dough and prepare your toppings.  Assemble and bake pizza as you would a tomato based pizza.  The leftovers of both sauces make a fabulous pasta sauce.  We combined them to make a sort of "vodka sauce" and made baked spaghetti.

Buon appetito!

Best of both worlds

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Classic Devilled Eggs {Easter Weekend}

Pin It Now! Happy belated Easter!!  How was your Easter weekend?  Spring has been so beautiful, hasn't it?  Here in Southern California we have been enjoying very mild, sun-filled days.  Hubby and I have been soaking up the beauty on long walks on the cliffs overlooking the beach...  tough life, right?

We do have some pretty enviable views around here, that's for sure.

What are your Easter traditions?  We may not have kids yet (apparently Chico doesn't count.  bah.) but we are definitely kids at heart and had a great time dying Easter eggs.  Is it just me, or do those little tablets never dissolve entirely??  Anyone??  I always forget that the purple ones are completely defunct and end up ruining an egg.  Come on, Paas, get it together.  

Easter Eggs... they just don't know it yet.

Households everywhere are completely overrun with hard-boiled eggs after the holiday.  I'm sure there are a lot of egg salad sandwiches being packed into lunches this week.  I'm definitely not reinventing the wheel with today's recipe.  Just classic devilled eggs - but, boy, are they delicious.  These babies are dangerous.  I admit I ate a couple while making them.  You won't tell, right?

No Easter egg collection is complete without a Mudder egg!
I hope your spring is off to a beautiful start!  See you on the other side of egg overload.  :)

Fancy pants, eh??

Classic Devilled Eggs
8 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half
2 tsp mustard (whatever variety you like)
2 tsp sweet pickle relish
2 tbs mayonnaise
salt & pepper

Lightly squeeze the sliced eggs to pop the yolk out into a small bowl.  Add the mustard, relish and mayo and mix until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Pipe the mixture into the eggs if you feel fancy, or spoon it in and attack them. 


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

{Comfort Food} Baked Meatballs

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Guess I kinda dropped off the radar again, didn't I??   So sorry for being such an inconsistent presence lately.  Allow me to give you a brief update...

As I mentioned here, we have been up to our ears with re-doing the apartment (not gonna lie, it's still a work in progress).  The kitchen and living-room are somewhat done, which is a relief, but the "guest bedroom" is still littered with boxes of things to go through.  At the moment we are actively in the "shut-the-door-and-ignore-it" phase.

Aside from the nesting, we had some car issues on our hands.  Hubby's temperamental car took another nose-dive right after the new year, so we had to make the tough decision to let her go and move on.  I didn't think it would be an emotional thing, but I cried when she drove away.  What a goober, right??  We had some good times with her.  We drove that car to the moonlit beach the night Hubs asked me to be his girlfriend so many years ago.  We drove that car countless miles to countless places over the course of our relationship making memories together, and the day after our wedding we drove that car - with my wedding dress in he back seat - home to start our life as husband and wife.  Those are the things that brought me to tears when she drove away with her new owner.  Now, time to change our phone number before they figure it out. ;)

Anywho, last week we took a day trip to the Bay area with close friends to visit some other close friends who recently got engaged.  The guys headed off to play golf while us girls took the train into the city and had lunch at Boudin Bakery overlooking the bay.

Don't judge us, it's a vacay day!
The Rock... Alcatraz
Great friends!!
While the hubbies are away, the ladies will play!
Back to the present, the ACM awards were on this weekend, and I sure loves me some country music.  Country music plus comfort food?  Yes, please!  This was kind of a kitchen-sink recipe.  Shredded carrots and canned tomatoes keep the meatballs tender and moist, while the onions, garlic and feta add tons of flavor.  I think next time I'll add some hot sauce for a little kick.

These would be great for entertaining as well.   The baking time will vary depending on the size, so keep an eye on them.  Now back to our regularly scheduled country music awards...  yeehaw!

Baked Meatballs
1/2 pound ground beef (85/15 or 80/20)
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 can diced italian style tomatoes (salsa would be great, too)
crumbled feta (just eyeball it)
1 carrot, finely grated
1 egg
Drizzle of olive oil
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.

Now pay attention, this is where it gets complicated: Mix all ingredients.  That's it!  Make sure not to overwork the meat, or the meatballs will be tough.  Form into meatballs and bake on a cooking rack at 400 degrees for approx. 20 minutes.  Yummy yummy!