In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen: More Pizza!

I’ve been really slacking when it comes to cooking. I’ve tried to make plenty of new things, but nothing really turned out right. I guess my heart just wasn’t in it. But then I decided I really wanted to make pizza (again).

This time I made a homemade thin crust dough rather than just beating the system with store bought mix. I’ve made plenty of pizza dough in my youth with my family, but never on my own despite hearing how “easy” it is from pretty much everyone. The recipe calls for proofing the dough although typically that’s really only done with thicker dough. Proofing this thin dough makes it much more crispy and crumbly rather than airy and fluffy. Proofing dough is super easy because it can be done by room temperature, leaving the bowl on a hot surface (like the stove while the oven is on), or leaving it outside like my grandmother used to.

I chose to split one recipe of dough in half and make two really small pizzas to try different things, so really it makes one regular sized thin pizza ideally. Splitting the dough made it very, very thin and crispy. The first one I made was roasted red pepper and basil while the second was prosciutto and arugula.

I wish I had better photos of the final result. 

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What I Want To Eat

Sharing what I usually buy at the grocery store and realizing how often I do eat like a bird got me thinking about cooking meals. I do love to cook, but the last recipe I really put a ton of effort into making went terribly so I’ve felt a bit uninspired. Not to mention I’ve accidentally cut my fingers on every knife and vegetable peeler I touch recently. Uninspired, accident prone, and terrible seem to be the adjectives that best define me lately.

So I did what anyone feeling uninspired in the kitchen does: check their email! Okay, maybe not everyone checks their email but as someone who gets quite a few food newsletters, it was definitely feeling like time to clean them out. Now here we are with a special list of everything I currently want to eat.

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Pork Lo Mein

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Kitchen Gadgets

Today is Thanksgiving in the grand land of overconsumption also known as America. I’m preparing to make one of the biggest meals of the year including a turkey which scares the bejesus out of me. So many expectations.

So, during my stressed out planning, I decided to browse for kitchen items that would make my life way easier. Okay, so maybe it was me spending a lot of time on Crate & Barrel’s website looking at everything they have that is made out of copper. This occurs partly because when I went to the store last week to pick up pie crust protectors, I saw a beautiful copper Christmas tree I need in my life, and because they didn’t actually have the pie dish I wanted so I “checked” online.

This probably isn’t so much kitchen items that make my life easier, but rather, what would make my meal prep so much more stylish.

Cupcake KitDigital ThermometerMushroom BrushDrop BowlsKitchenAid MixerMeasuring CupsMeasuring SpoonsCookie CuttersPie Dishes

In the Kitchen: Spinato’s Litaliana Pizza

I haven’t made homemade pizza since I was a kid. It was a twice a year family tradition that took an army to make. I made an attempt a couple of years ago during the summer, but it just turned out to be a time-consuming mess. Wow, I’m really selling this idea aren’t I?

When my best friend mentioned she wanted homemade pizza (by mention I mean asked nearly every day), I decided to give it another go. One of my favorite pizzas is from a local pizzeria, Spinato’s, so I tried to make it at home. I went, got a pizza pan, and gave it my best shot.

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Homemade pizza is relatively easy especially when you embrace “lazy” girl hacks (like I did). Here are my tips and tricks followed by the recipe.

  • Use the easiest dough recipe you can, but don’t use premade pizza crusts from the grocery (the only exception is Trader Joe’s). Use just-add-water packets if you have to, but avoid the premade.
  • Using canned tomatoes in the sauce will make it thinner than a pizzeria style sauce. Use tomato sauce or add more tomatoes to achieve the desired thickness.
  • Add your desired amount of parmesan cheese to the sauce as you like. Cheese is always a good idea.
  • Speaking of cheese, use Galbani mozzarella, and shred it yourself. It melts the best.
  • Preheat the oven at least 15 minutes before cooking the pizza to allow the heat to fill the oven completely.
  • Par-bake the crust before applying toppings if you plan to use “wet” toppings. “Wet” toppings are things that create excess liquid while they cook such as vegetables or meat (which produces grease). Par-baking the crust will make it stronger and able to withstand the extra weight of numerous toppings or “wet” toppings.

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Expanding my Cookbook Collection

When I was growing up there were two staple cookbooks in my mom’s kitchen. The first was a Disneyland cookbook which contained recipes inspired by Disney characters and their worlds and from food served in the various parks. The other was a 80’s Better Homes and Gardens binder featuring recipes for Pineapple Upside Down cake and other food we no longer eat. I’m positive this cookbook was gifted to her when she attempted to make a Thanksgiving turkey with the bag of unmentionable gross parts still inside. It was her first try, to be fair.

I have no idea where these cookbooks are anymore, but that is probably for the best. As I continue to explore cooking I’ve turned to cookbooks for inspiration and help. I’ve already fallen in love with Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, Cravings, and I hope to add more to my collection soon. As for the cookbooks my mom owned…I never saw her use them for anything which is a shame. Mickey Mouse pancakes would have been pretty chill to have for breakfast.

Shop Cookbooks: Food52 Genius Recipes, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Cravings: Recipes For All the Food You Want to Eat, It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook

In the Kitchen: Antipasto Pasta Salad

Making pasta salad has become one of my Fourth of July traditions. There’s something delicious about cold pasta, cheese, and vegetables on a warm day. Plus there’s a million different kinds to make and nothing is really off-limits. It’s a kind of everything but the kitchen sink kinda meal.

For this year’s pasta salad I wanted to try something different, but ended up with something pretty Italian. Antipasto is one of my family’s favorite things so I grabbed a bunch of my favorite ingredients and tossed them together in this dish. I chilled it all afternoon, but even just an hour works just fine.

There really are no rules so use whatever pasta you have handy and add any Italian meats or cheeses you enjoy. There are no exact measurements for the mix ins just personal preference (below is one ball of mozzarella, one small log of salami, and one container of cherry tomatoes). Word to the wise, when using prosciutto, cut back on the salt in the vinaigrette because of the natural salt content of the meat it will be overly salted.

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Antipasto-Pasta-Salad

In the Kitchen: Cravings (Chili + Guacamole)

A few weeks back I picked up Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook Cravings. I may have mentioned it here. As part of my attempt to explore things more I decided to make a list of the recipes I knew I wanted conquer (or best attempt to). Feeling bored of my typical kitchen options yesterday I grabbed the cookbook, chose some options, and put it to my taste testers for a vote. They chose the Frito Pie Bar.

The Frito Pie Bar contains two important recipes: John Legend’s Chili and Chrissy’s Cheesy Guacamole. I have made chili countless times (even perfecting my own couple recipes), but never once have I made guacamole on my own. If you read this blog, you know I use Whole Foods guac on the regular. But I did it! I made guacamole on my own and it was actually pretty darn good. Rave reviews on that.

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Next the chili. Rachael, my best friend and main In the Kitchen tester, raved it was better than any of mine. And well…I just let this screenshot sum it up. Yes, Chrissy liked my tweet and it was awesome.

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The chili was so popular I don’t think there is any left. Highly recommend.

A couple of notes before I get to the recipes.

  • I made the guacamole sans cilantro and it still tasted spectacular. I know my audience and they do not like cilantro. So its optional in my book.
  • I did not use individual Frito bags for the Frito Pie Bar. I figured it would be too messy so rather I just used shallow bowls and regular bags of Fritos giving the person the option to have as many chips as they like.

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Recipes:

CheeseGuacamole

John-Legends-Chili