January 26, 2011

Highly anticipated Sunday Pizza Dough!

We've added a couple new static pages to the blog.  I am shamelessly advertising them through a post for those that subscribe. 

Most noteworthy - C finally had some time (and a badgering wife) and wrote up how to make our pizza dough!  If you don't know what his day job is try and guess based on his write-up.  The answer is in the About us page.

If some of the pizza photos make you drool don't just throw in a frozen pizza or call Dominos.  Start your own Sunday Pizza!  You don't have to be all crazy like we are and do it weekly.  You could just make homemade pizza (or even sort of homemade, hello jiffy) once and on Tuesday and it counts in my book.

Finally, interested in knowing what's on the Sunday Pizza Calendar?  Yeppers, I've gone off the deep end completely and embedded a google calendar showing who is coming to pizza or what the theme is for a given Sunday. 

If you want to email with any crazy pizza pictures or in general here's the email!  SundayPizzaBlog@gmail.com

January 24, 2011

Sunday Pizza: 01.23.2011

Stuffed Crust ready to bake!
Do you ever have one of those Sundays where you look forward to Monday?  If you have kids you probably know what I'm talking about. Right around 6:30 I said, "Man, I can't wait for Monday!"  Did I feel guilty?  Puh-lease!

Here's the skinny ... Sat morning C practically buzzed Z's hair.  [Turns out he is a cutie and can wear it short and C continues to remind me it will grow back]  While prepping Z for a military career C noticed his ear had nasty stuff coming out of it.  blah.  There goes soccer - here we come doctor!  Turns out Z has an ear infection and slight pneumonia.  Poor little guy.  [he has tubes in both ears, hence the nasty stuff]  Sat night C had a fever too.  What's going on?

Sit n Spin
We almost cancelled all Sunday plans but C and Z made miraculous recoveries by Sunday morning.  Way to go!  We watched the Bears wear their uniforms and pass to the wrong team for a couple hours.  Dreadful.

Thin crust with all different size slices

Luckily, Z's and his buddy Elliott go to school together so he's long been exposed to anything Z has [pretty much screwed] and his parents were comfortable coming over.  The boys fought like brothers from minute one.  Z and E and their parents decided to skip making pizzas this week.  phew.

In honor of the Bears game we decided to make an official stuffed pizza.  Well, official might be pushing it since C insisted on going light on the cheese.  We treated ourselves to a 12" cast iron skillet to make a larger pie to feed 6 adults.  As you can see above we also made our traditional thin crust.

Enough sausage, ya think?

What makes it truly Chicago is the wall to wall sausage layer on the bottom. Um... Yum!  We blind baked the crust, then layered with cooked sausage, cooked spinach, red bell pepper, then cheese.  Finally, we topped it with a thick layer of sauce.  My mom will tell you too much sauce...

The one error we made is to not cook the pepper.  Pre-cooking toppings release their liquids so the dough doesn't get soggy.  The dough was a little soggy but everyone claimed to love it nonetheless.  Next time, we'll cook all non-cheese toppings and blind bake the crust longer.  All part of the journey.

January 22, 2011

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie

Did you ever see Seinfeld do standup?  He always talked about Cookie Crisp cereal. "What is the deal with Cookie Crisp? I mean, really, it's cookies for breakfast!"  The SNL spoof would say, "Who are the ad geniuses that came up with this one?"

In our continued quest to eat better C and I have been eating oatmeal for breakfast more and more.  Let's just say, no matter what we add neither one of us is a fan of the gloppiness of oatmeal.  It is hard to eat regularly.

One morning C said to me, "I wish we could just have oatmeal like in a cookie or something."  Bingo!  I looked up a couple recipes and made a batch that very day!  It was an awesome idea and they came out fabulous.  To be on the safe side I made another batch with success.  Make them Sunday night and they last the week.

I'm betting these are dynamite (and even easier) made as breakfast bars.  If you try it lemme know what you think.  How about that Seinfeld?  You can have cookies for breakfast!

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
based on WiseBread Recipe

2 mashed ripe bananas (as evident in picture of ingredients)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp honey
2 globs of peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups uncooked oatmeal
1/2 cup raisins

handful of chocolate chips (I happen to have dark choc chunks - YUMMY)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large bowl mash bananas then add applesauce through cinnamon and stir well.  Add oatmeal and combine.  Once fully mixed add raisins and choc chips. Let sit 5 minutes.

I gotta say the chocolate is BOSS in this recipe.  You only get a little choc here and there but it'll make your morning, I promise!

Ok plop cookie dough onto pammed cookie sheet.  I used the back of a spoon dipped in water to flatten the cookies.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Yowser they are tasty.

January 19, 2011

Kafta Kabobs

Why oh why is Mediterranean food so delicious?!  I just love it to pieces.  Just one minor little hiccup... I hate olives.  blah!  Yes yes like loving French food but hating cheese.  Or loving Daily Show and hating Jon Stewart (gasp!)  What can I say, I dislike salty, slimy, briny, chewy black eyeball looking things.

Anyway, this post is dedicated to my dear friend and former teaching colleague, Gina!  First off I owe her an apology for not responding to her email this weekend.  Sorry Gina - I have no excuse other than I'm lame.  You're the best and deserve the best and eff all the rest!  Nuff said!

On ferry to San Juan Islands
Last week or so I blogged about making tzatziki.  [Andrea left a comment on the tzatkiki post with a link to a fab sounding Mediterranean layer dip.  ooh just lose those olives. Thanks Andrea!]  Gina emailed me and said she "loved tzatziki ... fond memories of hotty Greek boyfriend from college ... please post what to put it on!"  Ok raise your hand if you want to hear more about hotty Greek boyfriend?  Stay tuned for details from G in the comments.  hint hint, G.

I feel like I'm still working on Falafel so I made Kafta Kabobs instead.  This is a killer recipe and actually my bro-in-law's favorite.  Couple notes, you can bake like meatballs or actually skewer and grill.  We grill in the summer and bake in the winter.  Do what you like.  Notice anything missing in the picture above?  Yep, tzatziki!  DUH!  In my haste to snap a shot before gobbling it down I forgot it.  Woops.  Imagine it there.

Kafta Kabobs

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground lamb (this isn't always avail in grocery store.  We've used all beef plenty of times just fine)
3/4 cup parsley minced
1 small to medium onion finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic crushed
2 tsp cumin (heaven)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Weigh your options here... I tend to use my food processor and pulse the parsley, throw in large bowl, pulse the onion throw in bowl with parsely, then pulse the garlic throw in bowl with parsley and onion.  This is instead of prepping by hand.  The trade-off is it saves time but you have to wash the food processor vs one knife.  I'd rather wash personally.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix until well combined.  Another option is to use the Kitchenaide if you have one.  You have to dirty a large bowl anyway so why not use the Kitchenaide and wash the paddle.  Easy.  Only use "Stir" setting and mix until combined.

Shape into short little sausage sized kabobs.  Plop onto cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes or so.  I cut one in half to make sure they are done.  The best thing about these is you can double or triple the recipe and freeze after baking.  They reheat awesome!  Chow down!

January 18, 2011

Sunday Pizza: 01.16.2011

Deep dish only seemed fitting to celebrate Da Bears win!!  Sadly, they beat the Seahawks and I feel for my Seattle buddies that are Hawks fans.  Ok, I'm really not that sad.  Next week, bring on the cheeseheads!

Pepperoni lips!  Don't you love C's shirt?
We have enjoyed a nice long weekend.  Sunday Papa Howie and Bubbe came over for pizza.  Z was ecstatic to see them!  He played with Papa or Bubbe as we worked on the pizzas.  [Z makes a pizza every week but we ultimately started this whole thing to perfect our pizza.  The dream is to open our own pizzeria someday.]

A word about Chicago style pizza.  [Anyone feel free to comment with your thoughts]  Most people think Chicago style is only stuffed pizza. This is a huge misconception.  There's more to Chicago pizza!  Stuffed pizza is basically a pan pizza with probably a pound of cheese and usually one maybe two toppings.  Then it is topped with sauce and baked.  It can also be topped with another layer of dough then sauce.  One piece of stuffed pizza stays with you for about two weeks, like luggage.  "They get lodged right here!"  Imagine me pointing to my gut like Tommy Boy.

We made deep dish.  Think thick crust.  Normal amounts of cheese and toppings but on thicker crust.  Still an investment to digest but not nearly as glutenous.

We haven't made a deep dish pizza in ages and were a little clunky.  Eventually, it worked out just fine.  We found a technique we like from Cook's Illustrated.  First, stretch dough to larger than the deep dish pan you are using. We use a 10" cast iron skillet which works for 4 adults.

Lightly oil the bottom of pan then add dough, pushing it up the sides.  Cover with tin foil then weight with dried beans to blind bake.  We happen to have a heavy ceramic bowl just smaller than the skillet.  Bake at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes.

C made this lovely bowl

In a large bowl combine toppings for the pizza.  This includes plenty of sauce but NOT the cheese.  Our filling happened to be sauce, sausage, mushrooms, onion, yellow bell pepper, and sauteed spinach.  Yep, the WORKS!  When crust comes out of the oven remove the bowl and tin foil.  Add filling to dough and top with cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is brown to your liking.

We also made our normal thin crust pizza.  I totally loved the deep dish pie but thin crust is my fav!  Here's to a fun-filled short week for everyone.

January 14, 2011

Happy Friday!

We made it!  Gotta say I've had better weeks.  I've even had better sucky weeks.  sheesh!  Want some cheese with that whine? :)  Why yes I do.

Have a fab LONG weekend, do something wild and crazy!  Please know that tonight I will raise a glass (or two) of wine tonight and toast you all.  

What am I making for dinner?  Lamb and beef kafta kababs.  mmmm like fancy gyros.  How's that for an oxymoron?  Watch for the post next week.


January 12, 2011

Free beer!

Ok let's face it, if I named the title of this blog post what it is really about you wouldn't have read this far.  But now that I have your attention please humor me and keep on reading...

I was reading Cozy Kitchen's blog about Eggplant Meatballs.  Not being a fan of eggplant, blah, I decided I liked the idea but just couldn't do it.  So I did a search for lentil meatballs and found a couple recipes.  I mainly followed this one and added my own twist.  They came out surprisingly well!  Z-man ate them which is a huge bonus in my book.  C ate nearly as many as he would eat of beef meatballs.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not in lala land over here.  The rain (and snow) isn't making me batty.  They are definitely not meatballs as we all know and love but they are for sure a close second.

Are you still reading?  I'm impressed and think you look lovely today.  Have you lost weight?

The first night we had them with spaghetti and marinara sauce.  [Yep, jarred.]  The second night I simmered them in BBQ sauce for meatball subs.  They are super filling and pretty tasty!  We both liked them even better in BBQ.  They can easily stand up to simmering in a sauce like a regular meatball so next time I'll let them sit awhile in marinara.  So here it is, what I was originally going to title this post but thought otherwise...  [drum roll please]

Lentil "Meat"balls 

1.2 cup low-fat yogurt,well- drained
2 cups dried brown lentils
2 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth if you're hard core)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp garlic powder divided (the real thing would be good)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cooked spinach (get that frozen chopped stuff)
2/3 cups bread crumbs (I toast a piece or two of bread and pulverize in processor)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (shhh don't tell C)
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Bring broth to a boil.  Add lentils, bay leaf, and 1 tsp garl powder.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 20-30 minutes.  All liquid should be absorbed and lentils downright mushy.

In large bowl mix all ingredients very well with a spoon.  If you are like me you pull out the food processor instead and pulse it all until it looks the picture above-ish.  Sorry, not much to look at but it all works out in the end and the picture kinda helps.

Let mixture sit in fridge an hour or two.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Wet your hands and shape meatballs and place onto well greased cookie sheet.  Bake about 25 minutes turning them halfway through.  If you can break it apart like a meatball with a fork then you know they're done.

Fun additions would be saute onion, mushrooms, garlic. Whatever you like!  Heck, try it with some roasted eggplant!  I almost wonder how some Lipton onion soup mix would be in there.  Yep that's right I said it.

January 10, 2011

Sunday Pizza: 01.09.2011

It was a whirlwind week and weekend.  My dad got into town and his new condo then my sister had a baby, Kate!  Exciting!

Sunday pizza was with the regulars Mom, Dad, Emily, Pete, and Elliott.  E and Z are in school together and they act like brothers.  It is awesome cuz 90% of the time they entertain each other.  Then there's that 10% of the time when they fight like brothers.  Part of growing up.

In this week's episode both boys really showed off their skills in pizza making.  I have lots of pictures this time... hope you don't mind.
Both looking at the camera.  Next time, smile :)

Nice pounding technique

Xtra Cheese Please

Is Domino's hiring?

Oven ready
I learned a new term Sunday, "Plate me!"  Yes!  It is used when a person, such as Pete, takes a bite of piping hot, just out of the oven pizza and realizes 450 degree pizza sauce is really friggin hot and needs a plate to throw his pizza onto!  I was laughing like you wouldn't believe, but not so hard that I couldn't grab the camera and snap him scalding himself.  Luckily, he's a good sport and smiled for the camera. Nice work, Pete.  About an hour later I asked if he wanted some Aloe. [As if I actually know where that is in the house.]

Being silly. Yes, the pizza is on the table...
After dinner Z and E played like no one else were around.  First, they played behind our ginormous bean bag.  Then they decided it was coloring time.  We all just watched them move from one thing to the next and chatted merrily.

Looks like they're both righty
After everyone but my dad left we had a sweet moment where Z asked him to read a book to him before bed.  I melt.  There are lots of special moments in your life and this was one of them.  Dad, I'm glad you have a home out here and can't wait for J-Mo to come out too.


Any ideas for next Sunday Pizza?  I'm stumped?  Here are some thoughts... Something fun with the dough like wheat or blue corn.  Deep Dish.  Super thin crust.  Special ingredients.

Tzatziki Goodness

Tzatziki can really make a dish.  Most of my family calls is cucumber sauce.  It is essential on gyros or kafta kabobs or falafel or as a dip with bread mmmmm.  The other night I had dinner with Carolyn and she told me she ate tzatziki for lunch.  Yes, with a spoon straight up!  I thought she was off her rocker.  Then I thought about it... it is yogurt but instead of adding fruit there's cucumber.  It works.

I made falafel and kafta kabobs for New Years Eve (recipes to someday follow).  Tzatziki is so easy to make that I really don't see the point in buying it ready made.  I got several compliments from others so I'm thinking this is worthy of sharing.

Couple Disclaimers
1)  This is another one of those approximate recipes.  I don't have solid measurements.  Truthfully, that's what I love about most cooking - you can make it your own.
2)  I don't have a finished product picture so you'll have to imagine it all mixed up. Time to face facts - I spaced.

Tzatziki Goodness

16 oz Lowfat Plain Organic yogurt (you can use Greek yogurt to save time)
1 peeled, seeded, then shredded cucumber
2-3 cloves garlic (depends on how garlicky you like it)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp dried dill (I'm sure fresh dill would rock the casbah)
1 green onion diced (white and light green part)

If you have Greek yogurt you can happily skip this paragraph.  Place a fine mesh sieve on top of smaller bowl.  Put paper towels (or cheese cloth) in bottom of sieve.  Add yogurt and top it with another paper towel or two.  Use a can of soup or equivalent on top as a weight to help drain liquid from yogurt.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes.  You can throw it in fridge if you're worried you'll space and come back to room temperature nastiness.

While yogurt is draining.  Shred the peeled and seeded cucumber.  Cucumbers are really watery.  Place the shredded cucumber on a couple paper towels and wring out to remove as much liquid as possible from it.

When yogurt is drained place it in medium to large bowl.  Add all ingredients but the green onion.  Mix well.  Chill for at least an hour but ideally overnight.  Right before serving add green onion.  mmm I could have some right now.

January 6, 2011

Sunday Pizza: 01.02.2011

The royal STUFF!
Welcome to 2011!  All futuristic sounding huh?  So far so good, my sis had a baby and my dad just bought a condo out here (can I get a woop woop!?)  Should be a great year - I can feel it!

Our first Sunday pizza of the year totally rocked!  [Am I dating myself using totally and rocked? Probably. Dude.]  My friend, Andrea, and her fam came over for pizza.  What's so cool about Andrea?  Well, she's my friend from college.  That's right, we be kickin' it old school like!
Great "cheese"!
Ya right.  By my calculations all four adults total probably consumed LESS bevie than one of us did any given night out in college.  ahh, college... no rules, no responsibilities, no one waking you up at 6:30 am with a dirty diaper.  Good times.

B has a foot on Z at least! Impressive.
That said, we had a fab time.  Andrea only lives 15 minutes away and sadly this is the first time we've gotten our act together to hang out.  It was like old times and it felt like we just picked up where we left off.  Love when that happens.
Brendan performating the dough

The guest pizza maker is Brendan.  He's an adorable 3.5 year old and has a foot on Z as you can see in the pix.  Z was kind of intimidated I think.  The whole night Z wanted, "UP!" and was happy to watch Brendan play.  Cute.  In the end he warmed up and they were starting to kind of play together.

Z's new phrase is "No Touch" when he wants to do something without help.  The last picture shows him saying "No Touch" and pushing my hands away.  Classic.

Make a pizza this year!  Tell me all about it.  Better yet, come on over and have some Sunday pizza!

Meet Kate!

My sister and brother-in-law had a beautiful baby girl last night!  I am DYING to meet my new niece and spoil her!  Try not to cry on the keyboard :)

Choo Choo!

I melt...
Yes we are officially into trains full steam!  Here's Z-Man with Thomas PJs, thanks Aunt B (aka the Queen), playing with one of his new trains.  Just had to share my cute little bear!  Couldn't you just eat him up?!

January 5, 2011


This blog is dedicated to my mom, Bubbe! We enjoyed delicious beef stew Christmas Eve.  Yesterday, my mom called me to ask if I was making beef stew again.  !  Huge compliment but, sadly, I don't have plans to make it for awhile.  These days the veggie dishes are getting repeated far more often than the meat dishes.  

As a kid my mom didn't cook at all much.  My dad would always sing to "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" - 

Ten pots and pans on the wall
Ten pots and pans
If Mommy should happen to cook on one of those pans
Nine pots and pans on the wall...

When they got down to one my dad decided to try his hand at cooking.  However, she did make a great beef stew!  I remember cutting a million vegetables and layering them in order so the veggies that took longest to cook were on the bottom of the pot. Maybe she can share her recipe in the comments if she has it (hint hint). Maybe she'll make this one...

Fast forward to when I met C and his family.  They put beef stew on top of mashed potatoes.  Lemme tell you - HEAVEN!

Stew-pendous Beef Stew with Mashed Potatoes

3 lb boneless beef chuck roas, trimmed and cubed
Salt and Pepper
Canola Oil
2 med onions diced
3-4 celery stalks diced
5-6 mushrooms diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 cloves garlic
3 tbsp flour
1 cup red wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1.5 tsp dried thyme (can use fresh but I'm too cheap)
2 bay leaves
4 carrots peeled and sliced
1 cup frozen peas
5 yukon gold potatoes
2 tbsp unsalted butter

I like to prep all veggies save onion first. then beef, brown beef, then dice onion right before cooking.

Put oven rack to lower middle position so your dutch oven soup pot fits in the oven.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Pat dry the beef with paper towels, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Put dutch oven on stove on medium-high heat add oil until just smoking.  Add 1/3 to 1/2 of beef to brown on all sides.  I use a splatter guard cuz it can really sizzle! When batch one is browned remove to a large bowl, add more oil to pot and repeat with batch two (and batch three, if needed).  This hands down has to be my least favorite part of the process.

I feel like if you've made it this far you are home free!  All the beef is in a bowl resting.  Return the dutch oven to the stove, add more oil and saute the onions and celery with a pinch of salt for 3-5 minutes. Next add the mushrooms and cook about 2 minutes.  

Add the tomato paste and garlic and stir for about 30 seconds then add the flour and stir for 1 minute.  Slowly add the wine, scraping up any yumminess in the sides and bottom of pot.  Add broth, thyme, bay leaves, and browned beef with the juices.  

Bring to simmer, cover, and move pot to oven. Cook for 1 hour.  Add carrots.  Cover and continue to bake another hour until beef is tender.  After two hours I kept checking every half hour to see if I could cut the beef with a spoon.  That's how you know it is done.  For me, I ended up baking 3 hours this round. WHOA!

Remove from oven when it is ready.  At this point you can either add frozen peas and cover for 5 minutes or allow to cool and refrigerate for a day or two.  When ready to eat warm on stove or oven and add peas right before eating.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.  (Really stew is always better the next day)

I boil the potatoes until they can be mashed somewhat easily with a fork. Drain water, return to pot and add butter and mash.  Since you are adding stew on top I like to keep the mashed potatoes lumpy and dry so they can better soak up the stew. mmmmm.  This is wonderful with crusty bread and butter!  (or those cheapo brown and serve rolls)

January 3, 2011

Room Makeover

C and I have been off the last two weeks of the year!  Woo hoo!!  It occurred to us this is the first vacation we have had together in over three years without going to visit family or having family visit us.  Don't get me wrong we love seeing loved ones, but it has been wonderful to reconnect and just hang out.

When he was born we were renting a house so we only put up pictures of pandas and didn't paint.  We moved into our house over a year ago but put top decorating priority on the non-bedroom parts of the house.  We are feeling good about those rooms now and were excited to work on Z's room!
Squeak No More worked on Z's room!

C would like me to point out that it is a great time to decorate his room since we really know his personality.  Good point!  First off, his floors are incredibly squeaky!  Beyond words squeaky!  C's bro, Matt, told us about a product he saw on This Old House called Squeak No More and we tried it out. When I say "We" I mean C! :)  It worked GREAT and I'm happy to say Z's room no longer squeaks!  Rockin!

Next, we ran to Target and a couple bean bags to set up a reading nook near his crib.  This way we can read right before bedtime in his room.  The same day we had Z help us put the glow-in-the-dark star and planet stickers on his ceiling.  That was way fun!  Finally, we got some no VOC paint tinted blue and chalkboard paint and painted his room!  Below are the before and afters.  He walked in and kept turning around and around and just loves being in there now!