Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gourmet Portobello Mac & Cheese

One of the most important things I've learned about residence and fellowship is that sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to get things done.  Brian and I are in the middle of a crazy stretch... his call weekend, my work weekend, his regular work week, my night shift stretch, etc.  You get the picture!  I wasn't willing to let a whole week pass without spending at least a few hours with my hubs which meant one thing... ROAD TRIP!  This long, crazy stretch will be so worth it when we're able to load up and head to Arkansas for a long weekend!  YEHAW!

I was able to find a few hours this weekend to sneak up to Wilkes-Barre.  After hearing for days that Brian was either at Panera or chewing on sunflower seeds for dinner, I thought it would be nice for him to have a real meal for dinner.  I've always heard that the way to a mans heart is through his belly :)  I loaded up the Prius with a few spices, a few bags of groceries, and Brian's cast iron skillet.

I'm a firm believer that macaroni and cheese should be it's own food group!  I love it.  All kinds. All shapes.  All combinations of cheese.

This dish is one that reminds me of something you would get at a fine steakhouse.  It's perfect for a dinner party but in all honesty is probably "too much" for just a normal date night for two.  This is mainly because the cheese can get a bit pricey and it makes way too much for just two people.  It would be perfect for a group of four to six.   I promise if you pull this out at your next dinner party your guests will leave full, happy, and begging for the recipe.  It doesn't hurt that it's baked and served in cast iron. Cast iron makes everything better!  We served this with Brian's pan seared scallops but it would also be awesome with a big, juicy, medium rare steak.  It's rich, it's savory, and it's delicious.  Mmmmmm.

My next project is to find some individual size cast iron skillets...  I see a dinner party in our near future!  Who's coming??

Enjoy.
xoxo

The iPhone photo DOES NOT do this justice :) 


Gourmet Mushroom Mac & Cheese
(recipe from leitesculinaria.com)

Ingredients

  • Handful coarse sea salt, to taste
  • 1 pound macaroni (a classy macaroni called cavatappi is shown in the photo above)
  • 10 ounces portobello mushrooms, stems trimmed level with cap, gills removed
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Leaves from a few sprigs fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Leaves from a few sprigs fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup tightly packed grated white Cheddar, plus more to taste
  • 2/3 cup tightly packed grated Parmesan, plus more to taste
  • 8 ounces Taleggio, rind removed, diced or sliced
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Directions

  • 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C).
  • 3. Arrange the mushrooms in a single layer on a baking sheet, stem-side up, and brush with oil. Season lightly with salt, sprinkle with the herbs, and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Remove and let cool slightly. Dice the mushrooms and set aside.
  • 4. Preheat the broiler to medium.
  • 5. Put the cream in a large saucepan and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat. Add the Cheddar and Parmesan and half the Taleggio, and stir well to melt. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (If a thicker sauce is desired, add more cheese to taste.)
  • 6. Dump the drained macaroni into a large bowl. Stir in half the mushrooms and the hot cream sauce and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer the macaroni mixture to a 2-quart casserole or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (be sure your baking dish is broilerproof; do not use a glass or ceramic dish). Top with the remaining mushrooms and Taleggio and a good grinding of black pepper. Broil for 5 to 10 minutes, until the top is golden. Serve immediately.

**I made this is a large cast iron skillet. I poured just enough peanut oil to coat the bottom and prepared exactly as the directions suggest.  It was so good, so pretty, and SO easy to clean up!**

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Foodie Friday: Camping Edition!


First and foremost, let me just set the record straight.  There are no calories when camping!  There are also no calories on date weekend, date night, girls night, Saturday mornings, or at Sunday dinner.  With that being said, let me introduce you to Foodie Friday: Camping Edition!

While I do LOVE a nice hotdog or sausage cooked over the open fire that is lightly charred with chopped onion and spicy brown mustard, it is also so fun to change things up a little bit.  One of the most beautiful things about camping is that there is just NO rush.  There is nowhere to be, no DVR to catch up on, no cell phone service and that my friends is glorious.  So why not prepare some gourmet food to go with your gourmet views?

We tried several new things this weekend... most of which were super easy!  The prep work is all done in your home, before you leave for the weekend, while you're surrounded by your modern day kitchen amenities.  When you get to the camp site your main job is to sit back, relax, and smell the delicious food cooking over an open fire.

See information at the end of the post for help with the basics of cooking with a dutch oven and grilling with charcoal.  It's really pretty simple once you get the hang of it :-)

In addition to what you see below, Brian also made a beef stew and paired with his Mom's cast iron cornbread that was so amazing I can't even think of an adjective to do it justice.  He and I shared a large bowl, dumped the cornbread in, and topped it with the stew.  I'm so glad no one else was around to watch us devour it... it was pretty embarrassing.  It was a continuous spoon, bowl, mouth motion barely allowing time to breath.  More on Brian's awesome meal later.  It really does warrant it's own post!

Enjoy!

xoxo
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Onion Bombs On The Grill

Sorry veg friends... you may have to pass on this one.  One of my guilty pleasures and all time favorite foods is meatloaf.  This awesome dish is made with large white onions, meatloaf, and topped with a special sauce.  The concept is so easy!

Take a large white onion. Cut it in half removing the center of the onion to create an open ball/hollow area in the center. Prepare a meatloaf with whatever recipe you choose.  Make a large ball of meatloaf and place in the center hole of the onion repositioning the second half of the onion so that it looks whole again.  Wrap twice in foil and throw it in your cooler.  Mix up your sauce and place in quart size ziplock.

When you get to the campsite, simply throw the foil balls onto the grill (direct heat), turning every 10-15 minutes, and cooking for one hour.  Remove foil and you're DONE!  Top with sauce.

The sauce is so easy.  Make a small foil boat and heat only the grill for 2-3 minutes until warm. Pour over onion bombs.  

We served this with asparagus that we tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, 1 tbs lemon juice, and parmesan and romano cheese. We grilled this in a foil boat until tender.

While the photos may not make the onion bombs look super appealing (it's hard to get great food photos in the woods!) trust me when I tell you they are to DIE FOR!  

Onion Bombs
4 large white onions
Meatloaf recipe made with 1lb ground beef
Foil

Sauce
1/4 cup Sweet and Spicy Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tbs brown sugar


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Dutch Oven Cinnamon Rolls
(recipe from livewellnetwork.com)

This recipe is also made 100% at home, frozen, and then brought to your campsite ready to be cut and placed in the dutch oven.  This makes for an easy, stress free morning that allows you to have coffee and watch the sunrise while breakfast is cooking away!  This is slightly labor intensive at home just as any homemade bread can be... but it is SO worth it!

Cinnamon Rolls
Dough
1 pkg active dry yeast
2 tbs honey
1 1/4 cups warm milk
4 tbs melted and cooled butter
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 1/3 cups flour

Filling
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
6 tbs softened butter

Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tbs honey
1 tbs prepared coffee

1. Prepare your dough.  In stand mixer or bowl comping yeast with 1/4 cup warm water and honey. Stir together. Let sit for approximately five minutes until it starts to bubble. Add milk, melted butter, eggs, and salt. Mix together.  Using a dough hook, slowly add flour one cup at a time mixing on medium low speed until smooth and elastic. This takes about 10 minutes.  Place dough in an oiled mixing bowl, cover with damp towel, and let it rise until the size has doubled. This will take about an hour.

After dough has risen, punch it down to release some of the air, lightly flour your work space, and roll dough into 12" by 24" rectangle.

2. Prepare your filling.  Spread 6 tbs of butter over rolled out dough.  Mix all other filling ingredients and spread equally over dough.

3.  Once dough is rolled out and filling is spread evenly begin rolling the dough towards you.  You want to roll it from the longer side so that you have a roll that is 24" long. Pinch ends.  Cut into two pieces.  Lightly oil a gallon size ziplock, toss it (carefully!) into the ziplock and put into the freezer until the morning you leave.  It needs to be frozen for at least 6 hours and can be stored for up to 1 month.

4. Mix icing ingredients in small bowl and pour into a ziplock.  Make sure you use coffee that has been prepared and not grounds.

Ready to camp??
Simply get your logs out of the ziplock, slice into 1.5" to 2" rolls.  Grease dutch oven with peanut oil (remember to get the sides). Arrange cinnamon rolls so they're touching.  Let them stand for about 30 minutes in the sun to warm up a bit.  Bake in dutch oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  


Pour icing on top and enjoy!

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Breakfast Burritos

These are also made 100% at home and simply tossed on the grill!  

1 lb chorizo sausae
6 hot/medium hot peppers
1 large white onion
2 cloves garlic
6 large eggs
2 cups of cheese (I used Mexican blend)
1 pkg medium tortilla shells




Sautee chorizo sausage separate from onions, peppers, and garlic.  Prepare scrambled eggs as 
you normally would.  Fill tortillas with a layer of scrambled egg, chorizo, peppers, onions, and cheese.  Fold and wrap in saran wrap individually.  Place 3-4 in a ziplock and freeze the night before you leave.






The morning of simply get them out of the cooler and throw them on the grill using INDIRECT heat.  See photo below for our first attempt when we tried using direct heat... epic failure!!  Grill slowly until golden brown and warm to touch.  


Top with salsa and sour cream.

Indirect heat using direct heat just to brown at end.
Direct heat disaster!

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TennTucky Cobbler
(recipe from everydaydutchoven.com)

1 cup sugar
1 cup self rising flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups fresh or frozen berries
1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 cup sugar (for topping)

This cobbler is so easy and so delicious!! 

Lightly oil dutch oven.  You can even premix all of your ingredients at home (leave out the berries and cinnamon). Pour batter into dutch oven, sprinkle berries on top of batter, top with sugar and cinnamon.  Brian prefers tart deserts and isn't big on sugar so he recommended leaving the sugar off the top!  The beauty is that you can use any fruit that you choose.  We used a mixture of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

There are no photos of our fabulous cobbler because we literally made it under a tarp, at 10:00pm, in the pouring rain!  
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I'm a firm believer in knowing the how and why of what you're doing before doing it.  Below are the very basics of dutch oven cooking and grilling with charcoal.

Basics Of Dutch Oven Cooking
I did quite a bit of research on this cooking method before we left for fear that we would be in the middle of the woods with burnt food... and I don't do well when I'm hungry :)

Dutch ovens are meant to cook food with even heat distribution with relatively low heat.  Make sure for camping that you get a dutch oven with legs and an inset lid.  Also, make sure it is well seasoned! Having a well seasoned piece of cast iron can make or break you success!  There are tons of methods and articles on how to do this.  Take the time and make sure you do it!  
Here are the need-to-know basics.

1. The oven works by putting coals below the dutch oven and also on the lid.

2.  There is a formula to use to calculate how many coals to use.  For 350 degrees use this easy +2/-2 formula.
Find the diameter of your dutch oven (There is a number printed on the lid... ours is 10")
Coals on top is diameter +2 (12 for us)
Coals on bottom is diameter -2 (8 for us)

3.  Arrange the coals below the dutch oven in a circle so that there is no heat directly below the cooking surface. This helps avoid burning the bottom of your food.

4. Arrange to coals on the lid in a circle and also with coals in the middle. 2/3 around the perimeter and 1/3 in the center.  We lined 8 coals around the edge and 4 in the middle.

5. To increase by 100 degrees add 4 coals to the top and one to the bottom.

Basics Of Grilling With Charcoal
1. Weber makes small briquettes to start charcoal. Use them!  Place one under your charcoal chimney.

2. Fill chimney with charcoal and light briquettes with long lighter.

3. Let charcoal heat and burn until the charcoal on top is white with red embers.

4. Pour into grill.

5. Decide on direct vs. indirect cooking
Direct cooking means all charcoal is evenly dispersed throughout the grill and your food is being cooked directly above the charcoal.
Indirect is when the charcoal heats the food indirectly by being placed on one side of the grill while the food is on the other.

GOOD LUCK!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Be Present. Do Date Weekend!





It's so easy to get caught up in everyday life.  It's easy to become consumed with all that you have to do, how many hours you have to put in at work, all of the chores you have to take care of, bills and mail that need to be sorted, dogs that need to go to the vet, laundry that needs to be done, and the list goes on and on... AND ON.

I challenge you to take a moment and just STOP.  Make an effort to "be present" in your life.

Life will go on if the laundry isn't done right this minute (or even within the next few days) and the world will keep spinning if the house isn't perfectly clean.  Are the little odd jobs of life really what's important to you?  HECK NO!!  God has blessed you with one special life and I challenge you to get out there and live it.

There are a few things in life that you cannot create more of.  One of those very precious things is time.  Unfortunately, the clock keeps ticking and every minute that passes is another minute that you cannot get back.  Take every opportunity to live life, enjoy the simple things, and be present in the things you are doing.  Leave the laundry and go have date weekend.  Spend your time actually spending time together.  When you're talking to your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriends, or family make an effort to put down the iPhone, put away the iPad, turn down the TV and focus 100% on what they're saying.



One of the most amazing things in life, in my opinion, is having DATE WEEKENDS!  Take the time to get away together and enjoy each others company.  Catching up on life and actually having more than five minutes to plan for your future is priceless.  It is amazing how refreshing it is to spend the entire weekend with the one you love.  Pure bliss if you ask me.  Now... Do date weekends have to be fancy and lavish?  Absolutely not!  In fact, I've found that simpler is often times better.

My love.


This past weekend Brian and I had an amazing date weekend!  I've actually named it as one of my top five memories with Brian... EVER!  We headed north to Seneca Lake.  Since we've lived in Pennsylvania we've talked numerous times about going to the Finger Lakes for wine tastings.  We opted for camping instead of getting a hotel and found an amazing camp site right on the lake.  We woke up each morning and watched the sunrise while having fresh coffee made over hot coals.  We made delicious meals with the dutch oven and spent Saturday night huddled under a tarp in the pouring rain drinking wine and throwing together a homemade cobbler.  I learned that my husband is the worlds greatest rock skipper. It was perfection.





We spent the days traveling the countryside and stopping at several wineries.  The weather was perfect, the leaves were turning, and it was a perfect representation of fall in the northeast.  It was hoodie and scarf weather with no jacket required during the day!  I was with my sweet hubs and had my Canon over my shoulder. We picked some grapes off of one of the vines and then headed back to our campsite to get bundled up and make dinner.  It was my definition of paradise.


Making friends.

What if this was your "work" everyday?

For an entire weekend we were both "present" and spent all of our time together just enjoying and loving every minute of this precious life.  We slept outside, didn't have a bathroom, and wore the same clothes two nights in a row and I'm here to tell you it beat the socks off of any Marriott we could have found.

My one and only complaint is that it had to end.  I try to avoid the Monday blues but this Monday was a bit tough!  Yesterday I had to make the choice to go to work and "be present".




Please, please, please do yourself a favor and DO DATE WEEKEND!  If you feel like you don't have time... make time!  We had the most amazing weekend and truly probably spent less on food, gas, and lodging than we would have just by going out for one nice dinner.  Date weekend doesn't have to be fancy and it doesn't have to cost you a ton of money.  The only thing required is that you're there, "being present", together!  One thing I can promise you is that we will never regret spending a weekend away.

It's a brand new day.
Heaven let your light shine down.

Stay tuned for Foodie Friday: Camping Edition!  We made several amazing dishes that were ridiculously easy and equally delicious!!

Here are some of my favorite photos from this weekend.  You know I had my Canon strapped to my body the entire time :-)

If you're from this area and interested in a Seneca Lake date weekend with camping and wine tasting send me an email (tbandricks@gmail.com) and I'll send you a list of all of our favorite places with information on the campsite.

My advice for the day... if you have the chance ALWAYS get up in time to watch the sunrise.

xoxo

Fall colors.

For any woman who wonders why their husbands want to go fishing in the early morning.

Pat... this one's for you! Mushroom pic!
Middle Fork Rapid Transit... on the life to-do list!




Campsite.

The days plans.


I'll never get tired of seeing a ring on that finger!
Rise & Shine.

Quiet time.




Vino to go!  Thanks for the awesome wedding favor, Car!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Being Happier In Your Home

I was laying in bed this morning looking through sites on Pinterest and I saw a Pin that read "10 Ways To Be Happier In Your Home".  I consider myself to be a REALLY happy person.  I love my life, love my family, love my work, and LOVE my sweet husband!  If you're a Pinterest person you probably know that most of the links you see like that are pretty generic, however, the quote at the bottom of the Pin said "these are actually worth reading and remembering" so I clicked on it.  I'm so glad I did!  Every day, no matter how happy you are, there is always room for improvement.  I love the list I read and plan to incorporate them into my daily life.  I, of course, had to add my two cents below each one AND I added a number 11 :)

1. MAKE YOUR BED EVERYDAY
This is something that I actually try to do every morning.  It makes me feel like I am officially up for the day, makes my room look clean and tidy, and sets the stage for a well organized life.  I do actually feel better if I walk out of my room everyday with my bed made and I love turning the sheets back at night instead of hopping in to a tangled mess!

2. BRING EVERY ROOM BACK TO "READY"
Take 2-3 minutes in every room to bring it back to "ready" before you leave the house.  It truly only takes a few minutes and when you walk in to your home after a long day it is so refreshing to find that your wine glass from the night before is put in the dishwasher and your blanket that you snuggle up in every evening is folded neatly just waiting for you to return to your normal evening position.  

3. DISPLAY SENTIMENTAL ITEMS AROUND YOUR HOME
It means so much more to walk through your home and see things that have meaning and sentimental value to you!  It is so fun to think of a family member or best friend every time you look at a certain piece of art or every time you pull out your silver serving dish.  It's crazy how, at first glance, Grandma's dishes may not exactly be "your style" but when you pair them with more contemporary pieces and fresh flowers they certainly start to feel like your style!

4. START A ONE-LINE-A-DAY GRATITUDE JOURNAL
So this is one that I currently don't do... but I'll try anything once!  I figure that it certainly can't hurt to take five seconds before climbing into bed to write down something you're thankful for.  Gratitude is so important and if you're blessed then you sure should appreciate it!

5. IF YOU CAN'T GET OUT OF IT, GET INTO IT
Unfortunately, in our home, there is no cleaning fairy, the dishwashing fairy is on vacation, the laundry fairy is on maternity leave, and the fairy that cleans up the dino-size messes in our yard ran off to Vegas!  This means that if we want a clean, happy, functional house we get to do those chores ourselves.  If you can't "get out of it" which we CANNOT (I get a little irritable if things aren't tidy) then "get into it".  My Mom & Dad got us a Bose stereo system that we can hook our iPhone to.  Turn on the music, turn it up, and start shaken' those hips as you scrub your dishes!  You have one life to live so you might as well be living it while you're folding the laundry or taking your 2-3 minutes to bring things back to "ready".

6. BEFORE YOU GET UP EACH MORNING SET AN INTENT FOR THE DAY
I've noticed that I do better if I have daily goals or tasks.  I feel that I'm much more productive, I get less distracted, and I feel so much more accomplished.  Don't get me wrong... having intent doesn't always mean work.  There are PLENTY of days that my only intent is to have a "me day" that includes a great run, a few hours to read, a nice bottle of wine, hunting for new recipes, and blogging BUT at least there is a plan.  The Dali Lama said "Every day, think as you wake up: today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it." 

7. DO SMALL FAVORS FOR YOUR HOUSEMATES AND EXPECT NOTHING IN RETURN
So this is a trick that I learned from my husband. I noticed a few years ago that every single time he got up from the couch of an evening he would always say SOMETHING to me and he would never just walk away and disappear.  He either says something like "Hey, I'm just going to run upstairs and check some labs on my patient" or "Hey, I'm going to grab a drink"  and he always follows his statements with "Do you need anything?".  It took a while for it to hit me but I just LOVE that he does that.  It's a simple act of kindness, simply letting me know where he's headed, and being courteous enough to ask if I need anything since he's getting up anyway.  I've started doing the same for him!  

8. CALL AT LEAST ONE FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER A DAY
I think this one is great!  While technology is great and Siri is wonderful she is not a human voice. Text messages and emails are not human voices.  You can't really laugh via text or email and if you do sometimes the other person may take it as sarcasm when it was genuine.  Brian always reminds me that you cannot detect tone via text or email... which is a really great point.  So pick up the phone and have a real conversation with someone.  I'll admit that I'm not always great at this but I am going to try to be better!  I am very guilty of using the excuse that texting is just easier and faster.  I am calling myself out and lecturing myself right here, right now...  Taryn Breanne- texting and email do not take the place of a phone call! Got it.

9. SPEND MONEY ON THINGS THAT CULTIVATE EXPERIENCES AT HOME
We are loving married life and since the wedding I have really tried to get back into the things that I used to love to do.  Since we moved from Tennessee we went straight in to gutting a house, then wedding planning, and now finally back to normal life.  I've started blogging again, reading about photography, reading novels, and have spent hours in the kitchen.  I've really noticed that if I spend money on thing that involve both Brian and myself it is so much more fun.  We do cooking projects together, house projects, weekend getaways...  it is really turning out to be much more rewarding that buying the clearance rack black peacoat that I was eyeing at Banana Republic the other day (which I put back on the rack!).

10. SPEND A FEW MINUTES A DAY CONNECTING WITH SOMETHING GREATER THAN YOURSELF
I don't know what you believe in or if you're a spiritual person but I am happy and proud to say that I love the Lord!  The power of prayer is amazing.  I think it is so important to spend just a few minutes a day "being quiet".  Pray, read a novel, take a bubble bath... do something to bring yourself back to baseline and regroup so you're ready to tackle the next challenge the world is going to throw your way because it is inevitable that there will be a next challenge.

11.  GET UP IMMEDIATELY UPON WAKING
I had to add this one to the list.  I vividly remember sitting in history class as a high school senior. Our history teacher had a list of ways to be successful and happy that he would share with the seniors right before graduation .  The one that stuck with me is to get up immediately upon waking.  It is amazing how much happier I feel if I just hop out of bed, start my coffee pot, hop in the shower, and do a few of my chores instead of laying in bed to get that extra twenty minutes of sleep.  Now... do I always follow this rule?  No.  However, I can honestly say that when I don't I always wish I would have.  It's almost like a free "head start" on the day.  I feel less rushed which in turn makes me less stressed and MUCH HAPPIER!


Again, I saw this list and thought it was pretty great. Of course, there is no list that you can follow that will make you happy and each person has different things that make them happy.  My advice... whatever it is that makes you happy do it.  If you don't know then you need to try your hardest to figure out what it is and do whatever it is you need to do to make it happen!  Life is just way too short to live any other way!

Hope y'all have an amazing weekend... I know we're planning on it!

xoxo

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mom's Tomatoes Provencol




Ok. So just when I think I’ve tried ALL of my Mom’s most amazing foods she does some sort of magic trick and pulls out a recipe that she tells me she’s had for years!!  Where in the world have I been? My life of preparing side dishes has now been changed forever.

I am absolutely not exaggerating when I tell you that this is one of the most amazing side dishes I have ever tasted.  It is a perfect combination of fresh tomatoes, herbs, and garlic!

This is, hands down, going to turn in to one of my favorite, go-to side dishes when we have guests.  It is so fresh and so flavorful yet warm and satisfying at the same time.  It’s also the perfect side dish when you want to add an item but you don’t want something super heavy.  We paired these tomatoes with salmon.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  Try it… you won’t be disappointed!


Tomatoes Provencol
4 large ripe tomatoes (I used vine tomatoes)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tbs chopped fresh basil
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley
6 tbs dry bread crumbs
3 tbs olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper

Mix all together in bowl to form a paste. 

Wash and dry tomatoes. Remove stems and cut tomatoes in half through the width.  Put cut sides up on baking dish.  

Spread paste over each tomato half and drizzle with olive oil.  I actually had quite a bit of left over paste.  I had enough for at least 3-4 more tomatoes!  Buy extra tomatoes :)  

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve hot.


Hope you love this as much as we did!  Until next time... when Mom whips out a new secret gem!

xoxo

Friday, October 11, 2013

Whole Wheat Pizza Topped With Caramelized Pears, Prosciutto, Blue Cheese & Balsamic Glaze























I promise I'm not exaggerating... you HAVE NOT LIVED until you've had this pizza!!  It has officially made our list of, "If you could have one last meal what would it be?"

Brian and I both agreed that it's probably our favorite thing that I've ever made. Ever.  If you're from Tennessee then you know how serious I am when I tell you that this rivals any Scratch Pizza or Cooties  pizza on the menus.  That's serious talk right there.






The crust is a whole wheat crust that is perfectly crispy with toppings that blend so well together.  A perfect combination of sweet, savory, and bold.  It can easily be made veg friendly by leaving off the prosciutto.

Please, please, please do yourself a favor and make this pizza.  The other option is for you to come to Pennsylvania and Brian and I would LOVE to make it for you and serve you with the most perfect beer to go along with it.  

Brian's beer of choice this evening.
This process does take a while because it involves a homemade crust that has to have time to rise.  No big deal... throw the crust together in a few minutes and leave it for an hour or so while you read a few chapters in your favorite novel or fold some laundry.

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Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
1 1/8 Cups Luke Warm Water
3 tsp Active Dry Yeast
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Honey

Mix the water, yeast, olive oil, and honey together in a bowl.  Stir together and let sit for approximately 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes you will notice that there are "bubbles" forming.  At this point you can add 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Save the other 2/3 cups to add after stirring the first 2 cups in.  After you stir the first 2 cups in the dough will be very sticky.  Now add the remaining 2/3 cups.

Even after  I added the second batch of flour my crust ended up pretty sticky and wasn't forming into a ball.  I slowly added All Purpose Flour until it started behaving and stuck together in a ball.  Remove the ball of dough from the bowl and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the bowl.  Toss the ball of dough back in an coat with the olive oil.  Cover with a dish towel and leave it for at least an hour (better to wait 90 minutes) in a warm place.

After you've waited 90 minutes and you're feeling super productive because you've been able to multitask during this step, return to your dough.  Punch a hole in the dough to release the air and knead with your hand for a minute or two.

FLOUR YOUR WORK SURFACE!!  I made this mistake and we had a sticky, sticky mess.  Flour a piece of parchment paper and place your dough on top.  Use a rolling pin to roll out your dough to a thickness of approximately 1/4 - 1/2 inch.  Flip over onto a pizza stone.  We dusted our stone with All Purpose Flour and corn meal to prevent the pizza from sticking to the stone.  It gave it a perfect, crispy crust.

Let the rolled out crust sit for 10 minutes to allow it to rise and then add the toppings.

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Toppings
2 Pears (I used Asian pears)
1 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Unsalted Butter
2 Tbs Light Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Nutmeg

6-9 ounces freshly grated Fontina cheese (the block I bought said 9 ounces, but once I removed the wax I'm sure it was a bit less)
2 Shallots
4 Garlic Cloves
5 Prosciutto Slices
3 Ounces Blue Cheese

Preparing your toppings could be a good task to take care of while you're waiting on your dough to rise.  Though it definitely won't take you the entire time.

Start the pears first.  Cut them in half lengthwise and remove the core.  Then slice thinly.  I cut them in half again so my slices weren't quite so long.  Add olive oil and butter into a skillet on medium heat.  Add pears, salt, and nutmeg. Cover and sauté for 15 minutes.  Add brown sugar, stir together, cover again and sauté for 10 more minutes.

Shred Fontina cheese, mince your garlic, and slice shallots into thin slices then separate the pieces.  Keep all of these separated in different bowls.

Cut prosciutto into 1/4- 1/2 width slices and then cut the slices into 3-4 pieces. You should end up with pieces that are 1/4 inch by 2 inches.  This is just personal preference but the small pieces worked really well for us.
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Putting It All Together

Brush crust with olive oil.  Add 3/4 of the fontina cheese.  Dispense shallots and garlic equally over crust.  Add pears equally over crust and then add prosciutto.  Add 3 ounces of blue cheese crumbles.  Top with the remaining fontina cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese brown.

After you put the pizza in the over start working on the balsamic glaze.  I would wait unit your pizza has been in for 15 minutes or so and then start the glaze.

Heat saucer on medium and add 1/2 balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp honey.  Bring to boil and it will (finally!) begin to thicken.  Be patient... it takes a while.  

Your pizza will most likely be done before you glaze is finished.  This is good because it allows the pizza to cool.

Drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Pour yourself an ice cold beverage, turn on the Cardinals game, and ENJOY!!

I know this sounds labor intensive but it really isn't.  Even if you feel like it's a bit of a pain once you put that first bite in your mouth you will realize that it was so worth it!

Enjoy!

xoxo