Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pizza Pizza!

I looove pizza! Who doesn't? My fiance and I eat pizza about once a week. I've got muffin tops to prove it. :) We usually order out for pizza, we've made it a few times, but always got Trader Joe's crust (which is a pretty good crust). I've just decided I'd like to make my own and have it taste even more magnificent. I also know exactly what ingredients are going into my pizza. I found this recipe on It looked very yummy, I decided I had to try it. You'll need to make the dough in advance and chill for at least 24 hours. Very well worth it, and super easy to make from the crust to the sauce. What's even better? Left over dough and sauce for next time! The crust is perfect and crisp, the sauce is amazing, and the cheese is perfect. My mouth is watering even thinking about it. I loved it so much I'm making it Friday night, which is usually pizza night or eat out night in our house. I am a cheese pizza lover (I know boring, right?) my fiance loves sausage, so he made himself a sausage pizza. The crust makes 2-13" pizzas, so we had one for the each of us. I didn't finish mine, but I did get pretty close, like I said I love pizza! We had left over sauce so we froze it for next time. The only change were making is cooking his sausage before he puts it on the pizza, due to lots of grease. Other than  that this pizza was pretty perfect.
Thin Crust Pizza

Yield: 2-13" Pizzas
3 cups (16½ oz.) bread flour
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. instant yeast
1 1/3 cups ice water
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1½ tsp. salt

1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Olive oil and garlic powder for brushing dough
1/2 cup (1 oz.) finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded whole-milk mozzarella

Combine the flour, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a food processor* (I used a kitchen aid stand mixer with a dough hook and it worked just fine) fitted with the metal blade.  Pulse just to combine.  With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube and process just until the dough is combined and all dry ingredients are incorporated, about 10 seconds.  Let the dough set for 10 minutes.Add oil and salt to the dough until incorporated into a smooth tacky ball that pulls away from the bowl about 30-60 seconds.  Remove the dough from the bowl, knead briefly on a lightly oiled work surface, about 1 minute.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. You may refrigerate for up to 3 days.  If you plan on only making one pizza you may freeze half of dough. To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Transfer to a bowl until ready for use. One hour before baking the pizza, adjust an oven rack to the second highest position and place a baking stone on the rack to preheat.  Preheat the oven to 500˚ F.  Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. Form each half into a ball and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Spray the dough balls lightly with cooking spray. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. To make the pizza, transfer a dough ball to a well floured work surface.  Flatten into an 8-inch round, leaving a slightly thicker edge around the outside for your crust. Gently stretch the dough with your hands to a 12-inch circle. Place the dough on your preheated pan, being very careful! Stretch to a 13" circle.  Lightly brush the thicker edge of the disk with the olive oil.  Spread the pizza sauce over the dough, and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan and shredded mozzarella.  Bake until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned, 10-12 minutes.  Let cool, slice and serve! Enjoy!  
Source: Cook’s Illustrated, January & February, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vanilla Bean Cake

I'm always looking for the next best vanilla or white cake recipe. I was looking for a cake that was fluffy, white and delicious! One that also pleased my fiance, as anything vanilla is his cup of tea. I'm the exact opposite, I will eat anything over loaded with chocolate. Hey, we have to keep the men happy sometimes too right? I think I may have finally found my vanilla cake go to recipe, I of course will test out other recipes to make my final decision but this one is pretty darn good! It's not your typical way of making your cake by creaming method (which is creaming the butter and sugar, adding your eggs etc.) It's different but it works. You MUST use real vanilla beans to get that awesome, sweet, vanilla flavor. They are expensive, but you won't be let down. The frosting is light, fluffy and velvety smooth. The trick to the frosting is to whip, whip, and whip some more until it looks pale and fluffy. This cake bakes pretty quickly and isn't a very tall cake. I love tall cakes, so I think next time I will double the recipe. I would also recommend eating it with in 2 days of baking as it starts to dry out.

Vanilla Cake
Yield: One 2-layer, 8' round cake

6 large egg whites (6 ounces) at room temperature
1 cup whole milk ( 8.5 ounces) at room temperature
2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract-I recommend using high quality extract
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (8 ounces)
1 3/4 cups sugar (12 ounces)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (6 ounces) at room temperature and cut into cubes

1. Preheat oven to 350°F Grease, and line pans with parchment paper
2. Combine and stir the egg whites, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla in a small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside.
3. Combine the dry ingredients together on low speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle mixer. (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
4. Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.
5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
6. Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh to ensure 2 even layers.
7. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be very careful to not over bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased racks, or wax paper. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
8. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best eaten the same day as baked.

Fluffy Vanilla Bean Frosting

3 sticks + 2 tablespoons (13 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 cups sifted (/7 ounces) confectioners’ sugar (icing, powdered)
3 tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract-Recommend high quality vanilla

1.Whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Butter will look very pale & creamy.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.

*Recipe source:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Grilled Mahi Mahi Tacos and Roasted Corn with Manchego & Lime

Yum, yum, yum! This was my first time trying Mahi Mahi. I will say I was a little disappointed when I went to Whole Foods and they didn't have fresh Mahi Mahi, but I had already bought all the other ingredients for these tacos so I just bought frozen fillets. I must say not too bad! My fiance and I made this meal on a weeknight. It is a little time consuming if it's your first time, but it's well worth it! It was fresh and delicious. I'm so glad I decided to start eating fish! If you're a beginner in the fish world this is a must try!

Grilled Mahi Mahi Tacos:
serves 4
Pico De Gallo
5 plum tomatoes chopped
1/2 small yellow onion chopped
Cilantro chopped
Fresh lemon juice
1 jalepeno seeded

1/4 heavy cream
2 tbsp. sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1tbsp. paprika
1tsp. each, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, kosher salt, and pepper
1/4tsp. cayenne pepper
1lb mahi mahi fillet 
Vegetable oil (for brushing)
8 6" corn tortillas, warmed
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
1 lime, cut into wedges

Pico De Gallo: Combine pico ingredients season to taste with salt and pepper

Crema :Whisk cream and sour cream to blend, season to taste with salt and pepper

Tacos: Build a medium hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. Combine all dried spices and sprinkle over fish. Brush grill with oil. Grill fish until cooked though, about 5 minutes per side. Shred fish with fork. Build your tacos , drizzle with cream and squeeze lime juice over tacos. Enjoy!

Roasted Corn with Manchego & Lime
serves 8
6 ears of corn, unhusked
2tblsp evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
2tblsp unsalted butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 jalepeno seeded, finely sliced
1/2tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 lime cut into wedges
1 cup finely grated Manchego cheese
2tsp grated lime zest

Preheat oven to 450. Roast unhusked corn turning occasionally, until heated through and crisp-tender, about 15 minutes. Once cooled shuck kernels. (A useful note: if you have an angel food cake pan set corn in center of tube and husk into pan) Heat oil in skillet and saute kernels, 3-5 minutes. Add butter, stir until melted and add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to bowl, sprinkle jalepeno and red pepper flakes over. Squeeze lime wedges over; sprinkle with cheese and lime zest.
*slightly adapted from bon appetit magazine
*you may keep seeds in jalepenos if you like your food to have a little heat (I personally don't think the corn needs the seeds with the addition of the crushed red pepper flakes)


Monday, July 18, 2011

Molly's Cupcakes

Yay for Molly's cupcakes!!!!
This would be the cake batter cupcake, yes cake batter! Let me tell you I was pleasantly surprised. It was a yellow cake with some sort of custard/pudding filling that tasted exactly like cake batter. I don't know how they did it but it's amazing. Just think of Cold Stone's cake batter ice cream but in a cupcake. Yum! One of my favorites for sure. 
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, amazing as well. Probably one of my favorite things in the world, besides french fries obviously! This is a white cake with a cookie dough center and topped with vanilla buttercream,  chocolate chips, and a mini cookie! Cute presentation and pretty good/spot on flavor. 

This is a peanut butter cupcake filled with ganache and topped with chocolate buttercream. Very rich, pretty good. I'm all for chocolate, I definitely would need to share this cupcake! The frosting is like velvet, very sweet so if you're not a "very sweet" buttercream lover it may be too rich for you.
Red velvet with cream cheese, and topped with adorable heart sprinkles! Red velvet is probably one of my favorite cakes. I had high hopes for this cupcake (so did my sister) it didn't live up to our standards. :(  The frosting tastes like cheesecake. Cheesecake you say? How can you not like it? I guess I'm just your typical cream cheese icing gal. The cupcake was very moist, I didn't think it had the typical red velvet flavor. It wasn't strong enough for a red velvet connoisseur like myself. ;)

This would be the Ron Bennington. Chocolate cake, peanut butter filling, ganache icing, sprinkled with what tasted like butterfinger bits. The chocolate cake was very good, peanut butter filling was good, ganache was good. Another one of those cupcakes you need to share with a friend. 
In conclusion, I would highly recommend Molly's cupcakes next time you're in Chicago. Very good, great service, and friendly staff! If you're looking for lunch there is a great little empanada place near by. Lito's Empanadas. Mmm! I wish I had one right now.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

City bound with my favorite pastry friend

I decided to see what my college friend was up to this past Friday. Lucky me, she as well had the day off! So off to Chicago I went. We decided on Pork Shoppe and Molly's Cupcakes! If you ever are in the city of Chicago you need to make a stop at Pork Shoppe, it's small and quaint, but the second you walk in the door you are greeted by the amazing smell of barbeque. I of course ordered pulled chicken, yes at a pork place I got chicken :) which my friend later pointed out. She got pulled pork. We both ordered a side of mac n' cheese instead of fries, don't get me wrong I have a huge obsession and love for fries but this mac n' cheese is something you just can't pass up. It's like being in mac n' cheese heaven. Creamy, cheesy, piping hot and just the right amount of pepper and crunch to the top! We also shared a side of cornbread, which has to be the best cornbread I've had in my life. It's divine. It has a hint of heat from the jalepenos and sweetness at the same time, then you add the butter and it's 10x better. It adds just the right amount of salt. It's salty/sweet goodness all bundled up in a piece of cornbread!

The sides are pretty big portions, but when everything is soooo good it's really hard to stop yourself. That's what your friends are for ;) Pulled chicken sandwich was amazing as it was the first time. I'm not a huge barbeque fan but I could eat this sandwich everyday. It's moist, and has lots of flavor and served on a lightly toasted, buttered bun. I chose the spicy barbeque sauce for mine which is also amazing. The service is fast and friendly and the prices are just right! You have to make it a point to stop here next time you visit Chicago! You won't be disappointed ;)

I realize after eating I have no more room in my belly for tasty cupcakes! I can always have sweets after my meals but I was stuffed! I decided to buy many cupcakes and treat them to the ladies attending my wedding as a favor for helping with invitations. That will be saved for a later post ;)  Included is a link to Pork Shoppe Chicago. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been on the search for the best chocolate chip cookies and these are definitely some of the best out there. At least my taste buds think so! They have the perfect crispy outside, and soft inside! 
From | New York Times
Yield | 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet disks or chips, at least 60 percent cacao content
*Sea salt

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop  3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.

You may bake cookies smaller than 3 1/2 oz, for about 12 minutes
You can also use semi sweet or milk chocolate chips!
If you don't like the hint of salt to your cookies use table salt. 
Refrigerating the dough is a must, but it is worth the end result.
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