Blogs, Recipes

Homemade Mac & Cheese

As many of you know, I joined the initiative #EducateYourself. I knew some but I am learning so much more. As a foodie, I wanted to learn more about the Black Culinary community, this is where I learned about James Hemings and his brother. 

The story of James Hemings is  fascinating, here’s a little taste. 

In the 18th century, James Hemings was one of America’s most accomplished chefs. He was also Thomas Jefferson’s slave. Hemings grew up as a household slave in Monticello, Jefferson’s Virginia estate. He could read and write and Jefferson trusted him. So when Jefferson sailed to France in 1784 to become America’s trade minister, he brought Hemings with him. While in Paris, Hemings was trained in the art of French cooking. He studied first with the caterer and restaurateur, Monsieur Combeaux, apprenticing with pastry chefs. After three years of study he became the head chef at the Hôtel de Langeac, Jefferson’s residence that functioned also as the American embassy. Here his dishes were served to international guests, statesmen, authors, scientists, and European aristocrats.

In 1796, James Hemings was freed by Jefferson on the condition that James would train his younger brother to replace him as chef in the Jefferson household. In 1802, Jefferson served a “macaroni pie” at a state dinner, more than likely prepared from a recipe by James and cooked by his brother. Since that time, the dish has been associated with the United States. Unfortunately, no written record of the Hemingway’s mac and cheese survives.

Enslaved chefs played a huge role in refining some of America’s current staple foods, like mac and cheese.

If you want to learn more about James Hemings. Check out: Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brûlée: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America written by Thomas J. Craughwell . There’s even a children’s picture book, My Name Is James Madison Hemings written by Jonah Winter. 

Here is my Mac & Cheese recipe, inspired by the 1824 cookbook “The Virginia Housewife” written by Mary Randolph. It is believed that  Randolph’s recipe may have been one of James Hemings creations.

Pair this Mac and Cheese with Scout & Cellar 2019 Fiddleneck Chardonnay, Lake County, California

INGREDIENTS

  • Butter, to grease the dish
  • 16 ounces large elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 2 cups Half and Half
  • 2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups Italian cheese blend. shredded
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Smoked paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder

Topping:

  • 1 sleeve Ritz Crackers, crushed
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup shredded cheese
  • ¼ tsp Smoked paprika

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and butter a 3 qt baking dish (9×13″). Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When boiling, add the dried pasta and cook 1 minute less than the package directs for al dente.  

While pasta is cooking, mix all 3 cheeses in a large bowl. Remove ½ cup of the mixed cheese and set aside, you will use this for the topping. 

Drain the pasta and drizzle olive oil over the pasta and combine to keep from sticking.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Sprinkle in the flour and whisk to combine.  Mixture will look like very wet sand. Cook for approximately 1 minute, whisking often.  

Slowly pour in the 2 cups of the milk, while whisking constantly, until smooth.  

Next, slowly pour in the 2 cups of half and half, while whisking constantly, until combined and smooth.

Continue to heat over medium heat, whisking often, until thickened. 

Lower the heat and stir in seasonings and whisk together. 

Stir in 1 ½ cups of the cheeses, stirring to melt and combine.  

Stir in the rest of the cheese, and stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta with cheese sauce, stirring to combine fully.  

Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.  

For the topping, mix the 1/4 remaining cup melted butter, remaining cheese and crushed crackers together in a bowl; scatter the cracker mixture evenly over the macaroni.

Bake until the cheese is bubbly and the top is lightly golden brown for about 15 minutes.  

Blogs, Recipes

PAN FRIED WHITEFISH WITH ARTICHOKES, OLIVES, AND CHERRY TOMATOES

It’s almost summer and what goes with summer. FISH, well at least here in Florida! Light and flavorful pan fried fish always reminds me of summer. 

The sauce is what defines this recipe. Prepare the sauce first and allow it to simmer as you pan fry the fish. And, if you don’t like Black olives or even artichokes, no worries leave them out. Just add one tablespoon sea salt and ¼ cup lemon juice!

A tip, I have learned along the way is to add the SALT later in the dish. So you will notice salt is not on the ingredients list. The artichokes and olives give this dish enough salt, but if you feel you need salt, taste and add a pinch as needed. 

Scout and Cellar Sauvginon Blanc is the perfect pairing for this recipe! Oh and GO BUCS! Definitely need a Bucs wine glass for this dish! LOL

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 grouper filets
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • I can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 can (6 ounces) Large Black Olives
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon ground Black Pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Parsley Leaves, for garnish
  • Parmesan Cheese, for garnish
  • DON’T LIKE OLIVES OR ARTICHOKES:
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt 
  • ¼ cup lemon juice!

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the olive in a heavy skillet until lightly smoking, then add the onions, sautei for 1 to 2 minutes. 

Add the garlic, Italian seasoning and pepper, stirring to combine. Saute for 2-5 minutes until fragrant. 

Add the chopped artichokes and whole cherry tomatoes. Slowly add the chicken broth and stir. 

Place lid on for 5 minutes, liquid to reduce. 

Once liquid is reduced, add the white wine, stir and place the lid back on. Tomatoes should start to burst. 

Add the olives and stir to mix. Place the lid back on and cook for 5- 1 minutes. 

Add butter, stir and melt on low heat. 

Heat a separate pan, add a drizzle of olive, then add the fillets to the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. 

Place the filets  in the tomato mixture pan and cover with the sauce, cook for 2-4 minutes. 

Serve the fillets topped with the tomato mixture, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and parsley. 

You can serve this on its own or with a side of cauliflower rice/white rice. 

Blogs, Recipes

Easy Étouffée

Don’t be scared away by the crawfish! You can make this spicy creamy sauce to serve over shrimp, white fish, chicken, or even pork. The possibilities are endless. 

Any cajun meal always reminds me of my best friend, the Cajun Queen Christine! She has taught me the amazing flavours of Louisiana cuisine. 

Étouffée is a French word that means “smothered” or “suffocated.” As you can see in the photo, the crawfish is smothered with a combination of chopped vegetables and tomatoes in a rich light roux. Étouffée brings together all of the hallmarks of Louisiana cooking: Seafood, a flour-and-oil roux, the “Holy Trinity” of onion, celery and peppers, traditional Cajun seasoning and hot sauce.

Another one of my Louisiana  friends, Alaina suggested Louisiana’s Cajun Land seasoning to use when cooking Cajun meals. You can order some from Amazon. It definitely will give your food a cajun kick!

When making this crawfish Étouffée recipe, I like to use freshly boiled crawfish when I can. You can also grab frozen crawfish tails from the freezer section at your local grocery store. If crawfish tails aren’t your thing, then shrimp, fish, chicken or pork will do. My mom and dad used andouille sausage and said it was delicious! Just saute the protein of your choice before adding it to the sauce. 

So pour yourself a glass of Scout and Cellar 2018 CHE FICO PINOT GRIGIO RISERVA and let’s get cooking! 

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 4 tbsp of butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 1 shallots, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of chopped bell pepper (I like to use a mixture of red, orange, and yellow)
  • 1/4 cup of freshly chopped parsley (or 1 tbsp of dried parsley)
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp of Cajun Seasoning (I usd Cajun Landing but Tony Chachere’s works too)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound (16 oz.) peeled crawfish tails or protein of your choice.

Instructions

Put flour and butter in a pot and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the onion, pepper, celery, parsley, and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes.

Pour in half and half and whisk until there are no lumps.

Add the tomato paste and whisk.

Add 1 cup of the water or broth and whisk until smooth. Let cook for 2 minutes stirring often.

Pour in the other cup of the water/stock and stir. If this is the desired consistency you would like, there is no need to add any additional water or stock. If you would like the etoufee to be thinner pour a little more water at a time.

Add cajun seasoning. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the crawfish tails into the pot and squeeze the lemon juice on top and stir.

Allow the crawfish to warm in the pot for about 4-5 minutes, then serve with rice and sprinkle with sliced green onions.

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Blogs, Recipes

Grouper Piccata

Living in Florida has many benefits, sunny days, beautiful beaches, and it also comes with the benefits of AMAZING fresh fish. 

I was lucky enough to grab some grouper fillets from my local fish market but you can also score some at your store’s frozen section. If you are unable to find grouper fillets, you can use snapper, cod, catfish or even chicken. 

This sauce highlights the fish without taking over. In this recipe, I use a simple piccata sauce with lemon and capers to create an easy meal that everyone will love! Oh, and this is a one pan dish! Hello easy clean up! 🙂

I’m not usually a Chardonnay fan but since I received a bottle of Scout & Cellar Fiddleneck Chardonnay I thought I’d give it a try. I am now a Chardonnay fan! The Fiddleneck Chardonnay is the perfect pairing to this recipe! It’s not oaky like most Chardonnays I have tried in the past. It’s light and refreshing with notes of yellow apple, candied lemon peel, and ripe pineapple. It truly is delicious with the buttery lemon flavor of the grouper piccata! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 6-ounce grouper fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

Sprinkle grouper fillets with salt and pepper. 

Dredge fillets on all sides in flour. 

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil in a large skillet. 

Add fillets to skillet; cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove fish from skillet.

Add garlic, lemon juice and wine to the skillet, scraping browned bits from the pan. Add the chicken broth and stir to combine. 

Cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. 

Tip: if the sauce is too bitter, just add ¼ cup of chicken broth at a time. 

Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, capers and parsley.

Serve sauce over fish.

I served mine with a side of angel hair pasta and baby broccoli.

Blogs, Recipes

French Onion Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

If you love French Onion soup, you will LOVE this French Onion Stuffed Pork tenderloin! This smothered pork tenderloin has all the great flavors of a French onion soup, plus juicy pork, and it’s made in one pan! 

Seriously! Brian, my boyfriend said this meal made the Top Ten! It’s savory, it’s gooey, it’s rich, it’s easy, and it’s all done in one pan, which makes for easy clean up! I personally love cast iron so my 10 inch cast iron skillet is my go-to for one pan meals! 

Grab your favorite oven-safe skillet, and let’s get started! 

Preheat the oven to 350°F while you brown the onions and garlic. This will take about 20 minutes. You will use two onions, which may seem like a lot but trust me the onions will reduce as they cook. Cook the onions and garlic in an oven-safe, large skillet. The pork tenderloin will be going back in there. Be sure to keep the cooked onions warm by putting an aluminum tent over them while you prepare the pork loin.

Before butterflying the tenderloin, mix the oil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning in a bowl. You will rub this oil mixture on both sides of the tenderloin. To butterfly the pork tenderloin, use a sharp knife to make a horizontal cut about one-third of the way up from the bottom of the tenderloin. Flip open the thicker, top flap (like opening a book). Then, take the knife and cut another horizontal line through the thicker part of the tenderloin to open it up even more (like a trifold). You should now have a flat surface of meat that will hold the flavor of the French Onion Stuffed Pork Tenderloin. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the laid out pork and pound it out to about a 1/3 inch thickness, be careful not to tear it. Once the pork has been butterflied, rub both sides with the oil mixture.

Top the pork tenderloin with half of the cooked onions and half of the shredded cheese. Roll up the pork tenderloin, making sure you wrap up all that goodness inside! Then, using cooking twine, tie the rolled pork tenderloin up to hold in all the ingredients. Heat the same skillet that you used for the onions, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Next, sear the pork tenderloin on all sides, rotate it about four times to get as much of the pork seared as possible.

Next, cook the pork tenderloin for about 15-20 minutes, making sure the internal temperature is at 145°F. Take the tenderloin out of the oven. Don’t worry, I did not forget about the rest of the onions and cheese. Top the tenderloin with both and broil for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and Enjoy!

This recipe pairs great with my french onion risotto and a glass of Scout & Cellar’s 2018 LITTLE JANE PINOT NOIR. Little Jane Pinot Noir is elegant and complex with red plum, black cherry and fresh raspberry balanced by garrigue, Asian spice, and a hint of coffee bean with soft tannins and a lingering finish.

Risotto recipe is at the bottom of this post. 

Ingredients

ONIONS

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • Salt & Pepper
  • ½ cup beef broth

PORK TENDERLOIN

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Chopped Parsley 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

ONIONS

In a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter.

Add onions, drizzle EVOO over top, stir and saute for 5 minutes.

Add garlic, stir to combine and saute for 2-5 minutes

Add beef broth, stir and cook until the onions are browned and tender (approximately 15-20 minutes). 

Transfer cooked onions to a bowl and tent to keep warm.

PORK LOIN

Butterfly the pork tenderloin. 

Cover the entire cut of meat with plastic wrap and pound to an even 1/3 inch thickness.

In a small bowl, combine oil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Rub over both sides of pork tenderloin.

Top the pork tenderloin with half of the cooked onions and half of the shredded cheese.

Tightly roll the pork tenderloin to completely enclose all of the fillings.

Using cooking twine, tightly secure the roll.

In the same skillet over medium heat, add the pork tenderloin to the pan and sear on all sides (about 3-5 minutes on each side). Turning the pork tenderloin a total of 4 times.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the pork tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 145 °F. 

Remove pork tenderloin from the oven. 

Increase oven temperature to broil. 

Top pork tenderloin with remaining cheese and onions and cook for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Slice and serve warm.

Sprinkle with parsley for garnish.

Risotto Recipe

Ingredients

  • 5½ cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups Aborio rice
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch black pepper

Instructions

First, heat your stock in a pot until warm, and keep over low heat to make sure it is warm while you work – this helps the rice to better absorb the liquid.

Heat your butter in a large pot  over medium heat. Add in your onions and cook for 15-20 minutes or so, stirring often, until they are golden brown and caramelized. Add in your rice and garlic, stir to combine, and then add in your ½ cup of stock. Stir often, you want to make sure that the rice doesn’t burn, stir until the liquid has been absorbed, then add in another ½ cup, stir, and when that liquid has also been absorbed, add in another ½ cup of stock. Continue to do this for another 18-20 minutes, until the rice is tender.

When your rice is ready, stir in the Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve hot.

DIY Projects

Schnitzel

In the summer of 2013, I traveled to Europe with the best group of friends anyone could ask for and met new lifelong friends. It was an EPIC trip! 

We started off in Germany, working at Girls Scout camp in Frankenkaserne. The first day of the trip I was introduced to Schnitzel, the inspiration of this dish! 

A schnitzel is a thin slice of meat fried. Schnitzel can be made with pork, veal, chicken, beef or turkey. So use whatever meat you want. If you’re looking for a traditional German schnitzel, use pork. 

The key to achieving the perfect Schnitzel is to pound the pork very thin, no more than 1/4 inch thick.  The reason this is important is because you’ll need to fry it in butter at high heat for a short period of time to get that perfect crispy crust. Yes, I said “fry it on butter”. Trust me this is what gives it a rich crispy crust and juicy center.

First, marinate your pork chops for 30 minutes. Then place cutlets in a single layer on the cutting board and cover with plastic wrap (this prevents splatter). Pound cutlets with a meat mallet or the back of a heavy saucepan, until 1/4″ to 1/8″ thick.

Set out three separate shallow bowls. In the first combine 1/3 cup flour. In the second, use a fork to beat 3 eggs. In the third bowl, add 2 cups of bread crumbs.

Dip the pork into the flour, coating all sides.

Next dip the pork into the egg mixture, coating all sides.

Then coat the pork with the breadcrumbs. Tip: Do not press the breadcrumbs into the meat. Just softly coat the pork on both sides and all edges, and then gently shake off any excess.

Once all cutlets are breaded, heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of butter. Once butter is melted and bubbling, add breaded cutlets a few at a time and sauté 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through. You may need to add more butter to the pan for each cutlet, keep an eye on the pan. I used a whole stick. Reduce heat if cutlets are browning too quickly. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and squeeze a lemon wedge over each cutlet. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. 

Serve with Scout & Cellar Clean-Crafted™️ 2018 The Resident Pinot Gris.
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Ingredients

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • Chopped Parsley for serving

Marinate:

  • ½ Lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground Dijon Mustard
  • ¼ cup vinegar

Marinate Instructions:

Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl.

Marinate pork chops for at least 30 minutes. 

Instructions

Place cutlets in a single layer on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Pound cutlets with a meat mallet or the back of a heavy saucepan, until 1/4″ to 1/8″ thick.

Set up three bowls. In the first flour. In the second, use a fork to beat 3 eggs. In the third bowl, add 2 cups of bread crumbs.


Dredge both sides of each pounded cutlet in flour then dip in beaten egg letting excess egg drip back into the bowl before breading in bread crumbs. It helps to use a fork for the dipping process to keep your hands clean. Repeat with remaining cutlets.

Once all cutlets are breaded, heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of butter. Once butter is melted and bubbling, add breaded cutlets a few at a time and sauté 3-4 min per side or until cooked through. Reduce heat if browning too quickly. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and squeeze a lemon wedge over each cutlet. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. 

Serve. 

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Recipes

Grandma’s Rum Cake

I’ll never forget the day I stopped by grandmother’s house to ask her to share the family recipes. I pulled up a chair at her kitchen counter, pen in hand and she asked “Where do you want to start?”

I remember being a little girl having family picnics at the lake down the street from her house and for dessert she always would make her famous rum cake. My cousins and I would always feel so grown up because we were eating rum cake. LOL

So I asked for her rum cake recipe. She laughed, opened her recipe box and handed me a recipe card. It was the Bacardi Rum Cake recipe card. “It’s that easy”, she laughed. We spent the rest of the afternoon laughing and writing down her recipes. 

This recipe makes the moistest cake you’ll ever eat. And it’s been popular since the 1970s, it’s soft, fluffy and super moist, bursting with rum and yellow cake flavor. Not to mention it’s easy to prepare, and perfect for any occasion.

You can use any rum. I use my favorite rum, 82°West 1911 Special Dark Rum. 82 West Distilling is a craft rum distillery in Tampa, right in Seminole Heights! 

It all starts with a cup of pecans sprinkled over the bottom of a bundt pan. Then you mix a package of yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, eggs, water, oil and half a cup of rum until smooth. I did make one adjustment and added a tablespoon of Vanilla and mixed until combined. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for one hour.

Once the cake is done, you prepare a simple butter-rum glaze made of butter, sugar, water and rum. Spoon the sauce all over the warm cake. Let it sit to soak in all the delicious butter-rum glaze and serve.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1 box yellow cake mix (You just use the cake mix as is, do not add other ingredients listed on the cake box.)
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding mix (92 g)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1⁄2 cup cold water
  • 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1⁄2 cup dark rum 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla 

GLAZE INGREDIENTS

  • 1⁄2 cup butter
  • 1⁄4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup dark rum or rum

CAKE DIRECTIONS

Sprinkle nuts over the bottom of a greased bundt pan.

Stir together cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, vanilla, water, oil and rum.

Pour batter over nuts.

Bake at 325 in the oven for 1 hour.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

Transfer onto a serving plate and poke top with a toothpick.

GLAZE DIRECTIONS

Melt butter in a saucepan.

Stir in water and sugar.

Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat.

Stir in rum.

Drizzle ½ of the glaze evenly over the top and sides of the cake.

Allow cake to absorb glaze.

Drizzle the remaining glaze over the top of each slice right before serving.

Recipes

Roasted Brussel Sprouts & Radishes

Who knew that roasted radishes actually taste like roasted red potatoes! Seriously!
I had a bag of radishes I was worried were going to go bad so I did a quick Google search and learned roasted radishes are a healthy alternative for roasted potatoes.
So I grabbed the radishes, a bag of brussel sprouts, some of my favorite seasonings and bacon. I mean what doesn’t bacon go good with!
I couldn’t believe how delicious this came out! I definitely will be roasting radishes again!

Here’s how I had prepared them.

Ingredients

  • 4 slices Bacon, cooked
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 lb Brussels Sprouts quartered and outer layers peeled
  • 1 bunch Radishes halved
  • 4 strips bacon
  • ½ tsp Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • ¼ tsp Italian Herb Seasoning
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cook bacon and set aside.
  3. Toss the quartered brussels and halved radishes in a bowl with oil, seasonings, salt, and pepper and set aside.
  4. Drizzle EVOO over a baking sheet.
  5. Spread the brussels and radishes out in an even layer on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the veggies are tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.
  7. Chop the bacon and sprinkle on top of the veggies.

Recipes

Family Pizza Night

Did someone say Pizza? Brian and I love making homemade pizza with the girls! 

Now of course, you can just go to the grocery store and buy the pre-made pizza dough but what’s the fun in that! While we practice the Stay at Home Order, get in the kitchen and make your own pizza dough. It’s super fun especially to do with loved ones! 

I have two recipes listed below; one for your regular pizza dough and one for deep dish pizza dough. They both are delicious!

Basic But Delicious Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus some for bowl to rest dough
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 cups All purpose flour, plus more to roll dough

Mix 1 cup warm water with the package active dry yeast and let the yeast bloom and foam, 5 minutes. Add EVOO, honey and salt and whisk together. 

Whisk together the 3 cups of flour and salt. 

If you have a food processor, slowly pour the honey mixture, to the food processor and pulse until the dough comes together in a sticky ball, about 20 to 30 seconds. No food processor, no worries, you can use a rubber spatula! 

Place the dough onto a floured work surface and knead, using the heel of your hand, until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. This can totally count as your arm workout for the day!

Using a paper towel, pour a small amount of EVOO into a large bowl and coat the bottom and sides. Add the dough, turning to coat. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Let the dough stand until it is doubled in size, about ten minutes to one hour. The longer you allow it to stand and rise, the more flavor you will have.  I totally just sounded like Yoda! LOL! Okay back to the recipe. 

After ten minutes, plop the dough onto a floured cutting board. Punch the dough, literally, punch down on it and then puff it back up. 

We like to make several different types of pizzas so we usually make 3- to 4-inch mini pizzas. If you want just one big pizza, skip this next step. 

To make 3- to 4-inch mini pizzas, cut each dough ball into 4 piece wedges, then press or stretch into shape into a ball.

Want one big pizza? Press the dough out on the work surface into a 9 to 12 inch round, a long rectangle or an oval. Now if you used to work at a pizza place like Brian, you can get fancy and toss the dough up in the air. Or you can be like me and start at the center and work outwards, using your fingertips to press the dough to 1/2-inch thick.

Here’s a little tip: let the dough relax 5 minutes and then continue to stretch it until it reaches the desired diameter. 

Use your fingertips to press down and make dents along the surface of the dough to prevent bubbling. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil (to prevent it from getting soggy from the toppings). Let rest another 10-15 minutes.

Looking for Deep Dish?

Brian is from Chicgao and he absolutely loves Malnatis! So one night, we tried to recreate their famous pizza. I’m not saying we nailed it but we came pretty close! If you are looking for a Deep Dish Chicago style pizza, here you go!

Ingredients

  • 3 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups slightly warm water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided (1/4 cup melted, 1/4 cup softened to room temperature)
  • olive oil for coating

Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. If you do not have a stand mixer, use your hand mixer and a very, very large bowl. If you do not have any mixer, you can do this all by hand. 

Make sure you are using a LARGE bowl! The first time, we made this pizza dough, flour flew everywhere, which the girls and I turned into a flour food fight! I’m pretty sure Brian is still finding flour in places in his kitchen that flour should not be. 

Give those ingredients a quick toss with your mixer on low or with a large wooden spoon. 

Into the flour mixture, slowly pour the warm water and 1/4 cup of melted butter. Make sure it is not very hot or it will kill the yeast. Likewise, make sure the butter isn’t boiling hot. If you melt it in the microwave, let it sit for a few minutes before adding into the bowl. On low speed, beat (or stir) the dough ingredients until everything begins to be moistened. Continue on low speed (or remove from the bowl and knead by hand if you do not own a mixer), beat the dough until it is soft and gently pull away from the sides of the bowl and falls off of the dough hook- about 4-5 minutes. If the dough is too hard (it will be textured from the cornmeal), but if it feels too tough, beat in a teaspoon of warm water. Alternatively, if it feels too soft, beat in a tablespoon of flour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside, turning it around so that all sides of the dough are coated.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow it to rise for 1-2 hours or until double in size.

While we wait for the basic or deep dish dough to rise, we usually make the sauce but I’ll tell you more about the sauce soon, below.

After an hour, remove the dough and place it onto a floured surface. Roll it out into a 12-inch circle. You want to stretch it out as much as you can to make a large circle. The dough needs to be stretched out enough to cover the bottom and sides of the baking pan. Remember we are making a deep dish dough! 

Using a rolling pin as a guide, place over a 9×2-inch (23×5 cm) deep dish cake pan or cast-iron skillet. We use our cast iron. We love cast iron, check out my blog in the Tips & Tricks section and you’ll understand. : )

Using your fingers, press the dough into the skillet or pan. Make sure it is nice and tight fitting inside the pan. Trim any excess dough off the edges with a small knife. Brush the top edges of the dough with a little olive oil. 

Now for the sauce!

The sauce is just as important as the dough! Yes, you can buy the jar stuff but come on! Why not go all the way! I’m going to share with you my Sicilian Pizza sauce and then I’ll share with you the best replica Malnati’s sauce. 

Sicilian Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp butter 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic, chopped
  • 3 14 oz cans Italian tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 1 tbsp Italian herb
  • 1 bay leaf

Best Replica Malnati’s Sauce Ingredients. 

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, grated (about 1/3 cup)*
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, but recommended)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes*
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

Sicilian Sauce Directions

Melt the butter and the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.

When all the butter is melted, add the onions and garlic, salt well, and saute over medium heat for about 7 – 8 minutes, until the onion rings begin to lose their shape and soften.

Add the canned tomatoes (with their juices) and bring to a simmer.

When simmering, reduce the heat and maintain a slow simmer for about two hours, stirring frequently.

Add the sugar, tomato paste and Italian herbs (if using dried herbs add now, if using fresh, add about 10 minutes before blending), stir and continue to simmer for about another hour.

Best Replica Malnati’s Sauce Directions

Place butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and allow it to melt. Once melted, add the grated onion, salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Once the onion has slightly browned after about 5 minutes, add the garlic, tomatoes, and sugar. Turn the heat down to low-medium and allow it to simmer until it’s hearty, fragrant, and thick- about 30 minutes. You’ll have about 2 and 1/2 cups of sauce at this point. If you have more than that, keep simmering until the amount has reduced. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to be used. 

Now for the Pizza toppings, get creative! Brian and I have tried several combinations, I listed our favorites but honestly anything goes! 

Malnati’s Toppings

  • ½-1 cup of Malnati’s sauce, or more depending on how thick you like your sauce 
  • 2  cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Crumbled Italian sausage (about ½ lb)
  • Thinly Sliced Pepperoni 

Margherita Toppings

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup pizza sauce
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Parmesan cheese
  • A few fresh basil leaves

Veggie Toppings 

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper 
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion 
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

Prosciutto Pizza

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (6 ounces)
  • 8 thin slices prosciutto
  • A few big handfuls of arugula

Lemon Arugula- no red sauce for this one.

  • EVOO, for drizzling
  • 6 ounces grated fontina cheese
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4-6 Prosciutto slices 
  • 2 tablespoons white truffle oil
  • 2 1/2 packed cups baby arugula
  • Ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh lemon zest, for garnishing

Recipes

Dutch Oven Bread

Who doesn’t love the smell of bread baking? 

Even if you’ve never made homemade bread before, this homemade crusty bread is for you. It’s the perfect beginner recipe because it only requires 4 ingredients, there’s no kneading, and 95% of the work is hands-off. This recipe delivers delicious flavor, and a slightly crisp crust.  Not to mention the loaf is as big as your head… Brian and I had some fun taking pictures of how big it turned out. LOL

You can also add herbs and seasonings such as garlic, rosemary, dill, chopped onion, jalapeño, shredded cheese, chopped nuts, dried cranberries, etc. Get CREATIVE!

So let’s get right to it!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups warm water 105 degrees F

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. 

Optional: If you are using herbs and seasonings add them to the bowl and combine with flour mixture

Add the water and mix until the dough forms a ball.

Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel.

Let dough sit covered at room temperature for 18-24 hours.

After 18-24 hours (or at least 1 hour before you want to serve) preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place a 5 quart dutch oven (or a baking dish) with a lid in the oven while it is preheating. 

While the oven is preheating, transfer the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface.

Form the dough into a ball, adding a few tablespoons more flour if needed. The dough should still be slightly loose. Then cover it with a floured towel while the oven is preheating.

Carefully remove the hot baking dish from the oven. Remove the lid and spray the dish with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.

Gently put the dough ball into the baking dish so it’s evenly distributed.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown.

Remove the loaf from the dutch oven and let it cool on a rack before slicing.