December 31, 2010

Sunday Pizza: 12.26.2010

Last Sunday Pizza 2010
Last Sunday Pizza of the year!  We started doing Sunday Pizza dinners in March.  I read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and decided we needed to work towards 10,000 hours of pizza making to get really good.  We're really not much closer to that goal but it has morphed into a wonderful hobby for me and excuse to get together with friends and family.  Like the variety of toppings on a pizza, Sunday Pizza 2010 has ranged from just us to a large group and sometimes not on Sunday.

Phone used to show Z making pizza
This Sunday was special.  The family pitched in and got my mother-in-law, Grandma Choo-Choo, an iPhone!  It is so exciting to be able to Facetime with her on a whim.  Sunday Pizza was just us and while C was baking the sausage and grating the cheese I was on Z duty.  So I decided to call G-Ma Choo-Choo.  While we were on Facetime we realized why not have them watch Z make his pizza!  Woot Woot!  So rather than taking of pictures of it I held the iPhone.  It was awesome!   The rest of these pictures were once we hung up.  The pizza was amazing.  LOVE the new batch of sausage and sauce.  Heaven!

Captain STUFF!
Ready to bake

Watching Dad make pizza

Finished Product

December 30, 2010

2010 in Review

Wow 2010 is over!  Done.  Shocking isn't it?!  It went too fast but was certainly a great year!  I taught math with Cindy B at Hindsale Central years ago.  She told me the reason the years seem to go by faster and faster and faster.
10 months and cruisin'

It's all about the fractions and as you age, one year becomes a smaller and smaller fraction of your life.  When you are five a year is 1/5 of your life.  20% is a lot!  When you're say, 35, one year is only 1/35 of your life.  Under 3% of your life.  Pretty small so the time seems quicker. Maybe I'm busier than I was at five.  Ah math.  Such a beautiful and simple thing.

Z turned one in March!  That was a huge milestone for us as parents.  He learned to walk, run, climb then jump!  He also went from smiling and saying ba ba to saying two word sentences (sometimes), nodding yes, and following basic directions (sometimes).  As you all have seen he also learned how to make pizza!  Sniff sniff my baby boy is so grown up!
21 months and climbing!

C finished his Masters degree!  He can officially be a principal in a school.  I am so proud of him.  He interned last school year with his principal while taking classes and teaching full-time.  How we survived in one piece is beyond me.

I had fewer changes in life.  Phew! I started a blog which I love!  We had lots of visitors throughout the year including my dad and J-Mo (Papa Howie and Gma J-Mo), my in-laws (Papa and Grandma Choo Choo), and my sis-in-law Marcy and her dingo Jeremiah (Aunt Marceee and Aunt Jamima).  

Other than making pizza we were happiest riding our bikes with Z. It is only late December and we are already looking forward to breaking them out this spring for rides.  We look forward to more visitors, more laughs, more memories, and of course, more pizza!  Wishing 2011 brings you the same!  

December 28, 2010

Sausage: Go Big or Go Home

CostCo.  Need I say more?  CostCo is headquartered in Issaquah, WA.  Anyone that has ever visited always comments, "What's with everyone here and CostCo?"  It is not uncommon to be at a party and overhear (or have) the following convo:

Guest:  "Wow this artichoke dip is awesome!"
Host:  "Oh I know! CostCo!"
Guest: "AHH CostCo! I love that place!"

We are out of Italian Sausage and pizza sauce.  Naturally, we get the main ingredients at Seattle's obsession, CostCo.  [sidebar - I also got a 10 lb tube of ground beef, you read right, to make a gagillion meals with for my expecting sister].  Anyway, the first two times we made sausage we used 4-5 lbs of pork.  Since CostCo has pork shoulder we decided to get it there [it is what we used to make sausage with Em and her family in Ritzville, WA]

We get home and realize this baby is over 13 lbs!  WHAT?!  Ok calming down... we have a freezer it'll be ok.  You've seen most of the sausage making process here so I won't repeat.  Really this time there were four differences, we used a scale to weigh the spices (Merry Christmas to us), we added more spice in general, we used red wine mixed with pomegranate juice as the binder, and we make a boatload of it.  [yep Em non-farming kids use that phrase too!]

This post is pretty much about the pictures of the ridiculous amounts of sausage we made.  In case you are wondering we do not stuff it into casings since it will almost all go on pizzas eventually.  As an experiment half has a red wine/ pom juice as a binder and half has no binder.  I'll let you know the verdict eventually.  Sampled cooked and plain, the batch without the binder is much stronger tasting since the sweet juice isn't there to tone it down.

Pork in strips getting slightly frozen

Yep, ALL this seasoning is for the sausage!
So is this garlic!

Coated with seasoning and ready to grind

December 27, 2010

Gifts that keep on giving the whole year thru

J-Mo's Mom, MR, was hands down the most eccentric person I've ever known.  She passed away eight years ago and she has a special place in our hearts, especially Christmas Eve.  Months before Christmas she would always ask us what we wanted for Christmas.  She would say in her screechy old lady voice, "Now, give me a category!"  Let's just say she usually stuck to with the category but didn't always hit the nail on the head.  Most memorable are my dad and brother-in-law getting robes from Lane Bryant and my niece getting a "refurbished" life-size doll that looked like Chucky.  Eeek!

Needlesstosay, I (or rather J-Mo) could start a blog entirely dedicated to stories about MR.  What has remained the same year after year is my goto category.  Cooking!  Memorable gifts... cookbook holder, Kitchenaid Mixer, Japanese santoku knife to name a few.  This year did not disappoint!  I got a scale to weigh spices and flour etc. Nice!  My sis and bro-in-law got me a waffle iron!  Woo Hoo!  Thank you thank you!
Day after Christmas we made waffles.  YUM.  No, I didn't weigh out the flour but that would've been a good idea.  As evident in both pictures it was/is total chaos in the house.  

December 26, 2010

Roasted Pecans

Sometimes it's the little things in life ya know?  Take, for example, pecans.  Poor little guys only get lovin' in places like pie and only around Thanksgiving.  Sad!

If you have some laying around, show them some love by coating them in goodness and roasting them!  You'll thank me.  Feel free to vary the spices.  My be-fri, Carolyn, candies her pecans twice. Heaven!

Roasted Pecans

2-3 healthy handfuls raw pecans
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (or more if you like)
1/2 tsp cumin (or more if you like)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In bowl mix pecans with dry ingredients (brown sugar through salt). Add liquids and mix well.  The nuts will kind of soak everything up. Sorry, all measurements are approximations.  That's just pretty much how I roll.  I don't think you can mess this part up.

Here's where you really need to be careful!  Roasting!  Spread out pecans on single layer on Pammed cookie sheet.  Pop in oven and set timer for 6 minutes.  Stir at 6 minutes and bake another 5 minutes but keep a watch on them to make sure they don't burn.  At 11 minutes take out of oven and let cool. Nuts will crisp up as they cool.  These seriously make any salad!  Try not to burn your mouth!!

December 24, 2010

Merry KissMoose!

Hope everyone shares their holiday with someone they love!

Here's a big ol' hug from us to you!

L, C, and Z

December 23, 2010


Last year my sis and I made these for the first time.  I actually don't remember having them before which really surprises me.  I say this because my mom was supervising our cookie baking last year and when these came out of the oven she had one bite and exclaimed, "These are just like Bubbe's!!"  Bubbe's?  [Bubbe is my great-grandma]

Turns out she made killer rugalach!  Who knew?  Clearly, not me since I picked the recipe cuz they just sounded  wonderful.  Fast forward to this year.  I emailed my grandma and her sister, my great-aunt Sandy, to see if either of them had Bubbe's rugalach recipe.  No luck sadly.  Aunt Sandy did send me her favorite recipe of Rugalach by Ina Garten.  Well, anything is good from her usually.

She didn't disappoint!  Turns out you can make ahead and freeze them. Instead of putting cookies into the oven put them loaded on a cookie sheet into the freezer.  After a couple hours when the dough is hard throw them in a freezer zip-lock.  When you feel like a cookie throw as many as you like into the preheated 350 degree oven.  They take a little longer, but hey you didn't have to make cookies to them fresh baked.  YUM!

Here's Ina Garten's recipe from Food Network. I followed it to the letter.  Twice!  In my ultimate wisdom I doubled the recipe.  Whatever you do, DON'T double the recipe!

Before rolling into cookies

Pre-bake (forgot flash boo hoo)

Wine, in Illinois?

Ok I just don't even know where to start with this gem!  Last week J-Mo emailed me that her and my dad sent a package to us.  It came a couple days later.  It had a Galapagos calendar with a selection of awesome pictures my dad took on their trip their this fall.  Thanks Dad and J-Mo!!!

Included in the package were the coozies pictured.  Can we discuss how awesome these are?  First, one is lime green (great color only second to purple!).  Second, did you know there is a winery in Illinois?  I didn't.  Finally, they are coozies. For WINE glasses!!!  I just love it.  Thanks again Dad and J-Mo!

btw - is one for Queen?  Wouldn't want her crying "Shaft!"

December 21, 2010

Make this Veggie Chili

Saturday we had our first ever holiday party!  It was pretty fun if I do say so myself.  Yes, this does mean we skipped having Sunday pizza.  GASP!  Eh, it happens.  C made some yummy burgers (big beefy oniony burgers).  I love Seattle because it is always BBQ season here.

I wanted the party to be appetizers and desserts.  Naturally, vegetarian chili comes to mind.  ???  Typical.  Anyway, I decided it was definitely something people can eat standing up schmoozing and didn't look back.  The verdict?  Success!  (Phew)  
Finished Chili: droool

My mom has reminded me several times that I was SO lucky it turned out cuz chili was a risk for the following reasons (counting on fingers required):

1) I had never made this recipe before
2) Veggie chili always seems to be lacking something (ummm meat)
3) I didn't know if it would be too hot since kids would be there
4) It is a party and people are standing around and not wanting to eat chili (ok I don't know if she actually added this one but I thought about it)

Turns out this chili had just the right amount of heat. Even C didn't add hot sauce!  Yet, I *think* kids were able to eat it with cheese and sour cream added.  Plus, I added mushrooms to it which added to the beefy taste and I didn't miss meat one bit.  Finally, I also made meatballs for the party, covered in bbq sauce but whatevs.  People could technically add them to the chili if they wanted.  Wonder if anyone did...

The recipe below serves 6 to 8 people.  I quadrupled it for the party as shown in the photo.  Chili always has a million ingredients so don't be scared and my goodness get your spices from a store that carries them in bulk so you don't break the bank!

Missing from Photo: a bowl FULL of seasoning

Make this Veggie Chili Chili

2 tbsp Canola Oil
1 cup diced onion
2 cups red, orange, or yellow bell pepper diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup mushrooms diced 
3-4 cloves garlic crushed
1.5 tbsp ground cumin (mmmm cumin)
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tbsp New Mexico red chile powder (or cayenne)
1 tbsp Canned chipotles in adobo sauced (puree or finely mince the pepper)
1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp Molasses
1 can pinto beans undrained
1 can black beans undrained

Preheat soup pot over med-high heat.  Add oil. Once shimmering add onions and peppers with a little salt. Saute for 3 minutes.  Add carrots and celery, lower heat to medium, and cook about 5 minutes.  Next add mushrooms and zucchini and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic and stir, then toss in all spices from cumin through chile powder in ingredient list. Cover and cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

Add pureed chipotles with adobo, molasses, and tomatoes and stir well.  Finally add beans (including their liquids) and gently stir.  Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  You can eat it as is or with cheese, sour cream, and crackers.  Or as C's family does it - over macaroni noodles.  Or like my dad on top of a baked potato.  I served it with the optional toppings of cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced onions, and seasoned oyster crackers.  

Come an' git it!

December 19, 2010

Sunday Pizza: 12.12.2010

Classic!  This picture is so priceless I want to just say, "Thank you!  Goodnight!" cuz it just says it all!  C took this one and is clearly not a fan on using the flash (ahem) :)   That said, he did capture the moment beautifully!  

December 12 was a monumental party day.  In the morning we had our PEPS buds over for breakfast.  Then we had two families over for Sunday Pizza.  It was an epic day which we determined should probably never happen again cuz we were beat.  

The little guy on the left, we discovered, does not like touching icky things.  He patted once on that dough and made the face above, insert schreechy-like sound.  Yep, he wanted nothing to do with this whole pizza making business.  Period, the end.  He was a good sport and stayed on the pizza bench and supervised everyone else.  This is one cute kid lemme tell you.  Aside from this picture he was always smiling. 

Speaking of cute kids... here's the little man and his uncooked finished product.  Z decided he wanted a pepperoni lovers pizza today.  He piled four huge baby handfuls of it on his pizza.  Here he is gazing at his work of art. (minus some pepperoni)

Here's the order of events that has been working for us with a batch making 2 large pizzas:

C makes the first pizza
Once it is in the oven we make kiddie pizzas
Kiddie pizzas go in when the first pizza is done
Cut and nosh on first pizza (and a salad)
C makes second pizza
Kiddie pizzas come out (they don't take as long)
Second pizza goes in the oven
Eat until we are Chicago style STUFFED!

December 16, 2010

Oh... Fudge.

Name the movie...

Well, well it is that time of the year again.  The time when us cooks suck-it-up and pretend to be bakers.  I dug through my utensil drawer and fished out my measuring spoons and cups.  I bought my yearly quota of cholesterol butter and am ready to bake.  Today's episode: Fudge.

More years ago than I care to discuss I was in a sorority at University of Illinois, Pi Beta Phi.  We had a house mom, Sue.  She was probably in her mid-fifties and everyone really liked her.  She kept us in line (yeah right).  Around first semester finals time she made fudge for all the girls and I was in heaven.  I don't think I had ever tried fudge and I was in love. The texture was heavenly!  I asked her for the recipe and she actually gave it to me!  Usually people SAY they will and forget.  Thanks Sue!

[One day she was mysteriously/suddenly let go by Pi Phis, the older and stuffier alum Pi Phis.  There are rumors, of course, but I will refrain from gossip since her fudge recipe rocks my holiday world.]

Fast forward and I meet Carol.  We taught high school math together.  I was bragging about my awesome fudge and she says, "oh the one with 24 marshmallows?"  [Carol: BIG SMILE]  I say, "Actually, yes, 24 marshmallows." [me: smile fading]  Suddenly, my rocking secret recipe seemed, well, kinda lame.  Shake it off, it is still amazing, and here it is.

Fannie May Fudge
4 cups Sugar
1 cup whole milk
1/2 lb butter cubed
1 tsp vanilla
24 large marshmallows
16 oz choc chips
16 oz hershey bar chopped (I used dark and milk choc)
2 oz bakers choc chopped 
You can add nuts but be warned it will ruin the whole batch!

Spray jelly roll pan with cooking spray, set aside.  Put all chocolates in large glass bowl and microwave until melted.  I set power at 80% and zap for 1 minute, check, stir, repeat until melted.  If you are good at multi-tasking this can definitely be done while doing the other half.

In large pot combine sugar, milk, butter, vanilla over medium heat.  Stir until dissolved.  You might need to up the heat a bit toget it to boil. Stay on top of it whisking for two minutes.  I turned heat back to medium or lower once at a boil.  

Remove from heat, add marshmallows.  Stir until melted.  Pour in melted chocolate and stir until well combined. (add nuts at this point if you want but yucky - Sue would add to half)  Pour into jelly roll pan and allow to cool.

umm you will have more fudge than you'll know what to do with!  Promise.

December 15, 2010

Too. Much. Baking!

I fully intended to blog about something tonight but instead got caught up in a baking blitz!
Luckily, I took pix so stay tuned. I can tell you for certain this non-baker requires one ingredient for all recipes. See photo:
Wine (or is it whine?)

Testing testing

Hey I just added the ability to subscribe to Sunday Pizza via email.  Naturally, I'm the first subscriber.  This is a test post to make sure it works.  Are you next?

December 14, 2010

Hanukkah Choo Choo!

Z is very much into Choo Choo Trains!  Big time!  

Oddly enough, about 4 years ago (pre-Z) C and I were in a second hand shop with my in-laws.  I found a menorah in the shape of a train.  I thought it was cool and bought it.  

As you can see it is now his menorah.  What a cutie!

December 10, 2010

Little Drummer Boy Times Two

First off, my dad hates the song Little Drummer Boy (LDB).  Hates.  The only thing worse than LDB, of course, is children singing LDB!  How much does he hate LDB you ask? He hates LDB so much that he has his own version:

"This is a boring song barumpa bum bum
it just goes on and on barumpa bum bum
it has no melody barumpa bum bum"

Second, one year when I was in high school we went to a Baroque music holiday concert.  It was in a big beautiful church in Hyde Park Chicago, home of President Obama.  There was this huge man sitting on this little stool playing the snare drum through much of the concert.  Well, naturally, we named him the "Little Drummer Boy"!  We all had huge tears of laughter streaming down our faces the entire concert. Classic!

In somewhat related news, today I'm streaming Chicago's WXRT holiday station! Very exciting. It has to be the best holiday station out there! I actually heard a Canned Heat Christmas tune. Canned Heat!  Haven't heard LDB yet.

Holiday Music Channel

Live a Little Garlic Bread

Wednesday night.  Eating vegetarian.  In a hurry so figure spaghetti here we come. [missing meatballs sniff sniff]   Joy oh joy.  But wait... we have hoagie rolls!  I can make garlic bread.  drool.  Garlic Bread.  You know you love it.  How can anyone possibly pass on it?  Suddenly, lame meal has turned into eagerly anticipated meal.

Anyone can and should make garlic bread.  Don't buy that pre-buttered stuff at the store.  As Dad says, "Live a little!"  Get yourself some olive oil, a head of garlic, and some italian seasoning and become a gourmet.

Live a Little Garlic Bread

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (amounts will vary depending on how much you are making)
Crushed garlic (just wing it here - remember, live a little)
Italian seasoning
Hoagie rolls sliced in half lengthwise

Preheat oven on broil.  If you have a toaster oven feel free to rock that instead!  Combine all ingredients but rolls in a bowl. Generously brush cut side of roll with oil mixture and arrange on cookie sheet.  Try not to drool on your bread please.

Pop in oven and stand-by cuz it'll be quick.  I actually had my top rack on the middle slot which bought me some time so they didn't burn.  Phew.  Take them out when they are browned to your liking.  Pretend to like the spaghetti as much as the bread.

December 9, 2010

Sunday Pizza: 12.5.2010

Is it already mid-week?!  What happens to the days man!  Remember the good ol' days when time would crawl by as you eagerly waited for winter break... Then how LONG and wonderful winter break was!?  Let's not even talk about summer break cuz that's just down right depressing to think I only have about 10 weekends of sun fun to fill.  My point?  It is Dec 2010 and I feel like I just got used to writing 2010.  I gotta keep up.

Sunday was a sweet contrast to last Sunday.  It was us and the little man hanging out and making pizza galore!  In fact, we still have leftovers in the fridge. Yikes!  We threw on garlic slivers which I really really dug. mmm garlic.  Get this, we actually added some cubed ham onto the pizza.  I am surprised to say that I liked it.  Doubt I'll insist it is on every pizza from here on out but still, pretty tasty.

Speaking of insisting... Zeke made sure he got his own ball of dough to make his pizza.  He's officially a pro.  He takes after his mom in that he wanted to load the pizza with ALL of the cheese!  Love it!  When he wasn't looking I skimmed some off the top so we had enough cheese for the last pizza C made.  [Sorry Bear - I would feel bad but Z ate like seriously 2 bites of pizza and was all into peas and carrots]

December 7, 2010

Holiday Groove

What are your favorite holiday CDs?

For me Elvis Christmas is the big winner!  Many fond memories of my brother, Jon, rockin' out to Elvis Christmas in our living room.  Good times!

Elvis Presley, Elvis ' Christmas Album LP
Next, there's Philidephia Brass Carols blah blah blah see the image :)  Instrumental and beautiful and reminds me of my dad.
A Festival Of Carols In Brass
A Festival Of Carols In Brass

Lately, I'm totally diggin the bluegrass Christmas music featuring some heavy hitters!  Check it out, you'll love it.
A Very Special Acoustic Christmas
A Very Special Acoustic Christmas

Finally, there's A Very Special Christmas Volume ANY!  Reminds me of my sister who LOVES these albums with good reason.  Honorable mention: Elf:Soundtrack, Travis Tritt Christmas, The Chanukah Song song by Adam Sandler. :)
A Very Special Christmas
A Very Special Christmas

What are your favorites?  Share, don't be shy.  Happy holidays!

December 6, 2010

Weekend Craziness with an Ethiopian Kick

Phew!  It's Monday evening and I am beat!  The weekend was awesome but tiring and I am fighting my little heart out trying not to get a full blown cold.  I've been drinking tea like it's going out of style and well, ok maybe I'm not really fighting that hard cuz that's all I got.  Not even a little chicken noodle soup or taking vitamin C.  As usual, Lame.

We had one of those Saturdays where in the middle you tell yourself to remember to never overbook again.  First, we had soccer for Z at 10am.  He wanted to be held for the first 10 minutes poor little guy.  Plus, he was pretty much done with 10 minutes left and the class is only 50 minutes.  hmmm, nowhere to go but up!

Next, we headed home to meet Grandma and change. She watched Z for the afternoon and evening (Thanks Mom!).  We met my sis, B, at Key Arena and saw Illinois crush Gonzaga at basketball.  It was way fun to see so much orange and blue even though Gonzaga was definitely the home team.  ILL-INI!!!

From there we booked to meet friends at an Ethiopian restaurant.  They just learned they have been matched with a baby they will adopt in January!  We celebrated with some of their other friends.  Ethiopian food is pretty good.  C did not like the bread you pick up the food with, Injera.  It is pretty spongy but is so bland that it works well to not overpower the flavors.  He didn't care for the texture.  I get it for sure.  We had some really yummy kitfo (ground beef cooked not tartar) which was pretty spicy and this chicken with collards dish that was easily my fav.  The rest were vegetarian like lentils, and cabbage, and collards, all good too.  I'd go back.

We dragged ourselves home and as quickly as possible went to bed.  Z, of course, was bright eyed and bushy tailed at 5:30 am Sunday.  Groan.  I'll skip the boring Sunday stuff but know this - we made pizza, Z made pizza too, and it was divine!  If you're actually still reading I'll spare you that tale for another post.  Smoochy smooch, to bed I go!

December 3, 2010

Fun Video

Watch this totally impressive, fun video.  I saw it first on TheInsideStoop and had to share.  Thanks Lindsey!


December 1, 2010

Sunday Pizza: 11.28.2010 (Part 2)

Normally, when one of us cooks Z runs over to the cook, arms raised and yells "Up! Up! Up!..." until you figure out a way to cook one handed in order to pick him up.  Which is why whenever I am on my own with Z we make scrambled eggs.  Easy.

 Anyway, C made this lovely wide step with the idea that Z could watch us cook.  Then my friend, Emily, emailed and said she knows someone with a toddler that helps his parents make pizza.  Well, we gotta try this!

I'll let the pictures, again, do the talking. One quick thing - the boys knew exactly what to do!  "No warming up in the bullpen" as my dad always says.  I would have gotten big fat tears in my eyes if I weren't so busy laughing. Here's Z and Elliott's first pizzas!