Cocoa Brownies

In December Louise Miller posted her favorite cookie recipes on Twitter including this fudgey brownie recipe from Bon Appetite. It’s part of BA’s best recipes. This recipe makes just the perfect amount of brownies in an 8 X 8 pan. She fancied them up by adding Andes mints to the batter and a chocolate glaze with peppermint extract.

Let’s bake some brownies!

Ingredients

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8 X 8 X 2 glass baking dish with foil, pressing firmly into pan and leaving a 2 inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray; set baking dish aside.

Melt butter is a small sauce pan over medium heat. Let cool slightly. Whisk sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl to combine. Pour butter in a steady stream into dry ingredients, whisking constantly to blend. Whisk in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. Add flour and stir until just combined, (do not overman). I added a cup of chopped up Andes mints and mixed them into the batter. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top.

Bake until top begins to crack and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, 25-30 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool completely in pan. Using foil overhang, lift brownies out of pan; transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares.

Louise recommended a delicious glaze for the brownies. It’s super simple and fancies them up. I added sugar pearls on the top. Crushed candy canes are a festive touch.

Chocolate Glaze

4 ounces of butter

8 ounces chopped up semi sweet chocolate or chocolate chips

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler, stirring until melted.

Add the light syrup and extract. Mix until combined.

I leave the brownies uncut and in the pan, in the foil wrap and then add the glaze. Smooth the glaze over the brownies making sure to cover every corner! Add any toppings while the glaze is still warm. Once the brownies are cool and the glaze is set, you can take them out of the pan and foil, then cut the brownies.

Store at room temperature. You can bake these ahead of time, and freeze them unfrosted. I leave them in the foil and then defrosted them in the foil and pan. After they were defrosted, I made the glaze.

Enjoy!

Meltaway Thumbprint Cookies

Cookies do not bring Christmas cheer. Lies! Fake news! But these cookies are guaranteed to bring you happiness. It’s a King Arthur Flour (KAF) recipe that was brought to my attention on Twitter by a pastry chef/author Louise Miller. This recipe is easy, delicious and stays fresh for several days. The cookies are tender and delicate. After I baked them, I froze half a batch and they were still wonderful.

The original recipe calls for Fiori di Sicilia, a citrus and vanilla flavoring. It’s out of stock at KAF and I successfully used vanilla extract and orange extract instead. The grated orange zest stands out as well. The orange skins were not thick enough for me to use my box grater, so I changed to a zester with better results. I love jams and jellies. I used raspberry preserves. Next time I will use apricot and blueberry preserves. Specific to (KAF) are thumbprint cookie cutters. They make a beautiful cookie but are not necessary. You can roll the chilled dough into a ball and with a wet finger, make an indentation prior to baking. Simple!

The recipe also calls for extra-virgin olive oil and butter. I don’t usually like baked goods with olive oil. These cookies are the exception. You wouldn’t know it was an ingredient. The cookies are very tender. It seems like a lot of fats in the recipe but it works! Don’t let them dissuade you from trying the recipe. Use good olive oil and butter. It’s important to use quality ingredients when you bake.

Let’s bake some happiness!

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups (300g) KAF unbleached Cake Flour

1 cup (113g) confectioners’ sugar

1/4 tsp salt

8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, softened

6 tablespoons (76g) extra-virgin olive oil

1 to 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, to taste

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp orange extract, to taste

2 large egg yolks

jam or preserves

Sift together the flour, confectioner’s sugar, and salt over a medium bowl. I use a mesh strainer instead of a sifter.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter an olive oil until it is fully combined. It’s very important that the butter be very soft, in order to have the fats mix together thoroughly. Mix in the zest, vanilla, and yolks. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Scrape the bowl and mix briefly once more to be sure no dry flour remains. I do use my stand mixer and use a low speed to add the flour.

If your are going to use cookie cutters, shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for a least an hour. The dough can be made up to 2 or 3 days in advance. If you are not using cutters, after chilling the dough, make a ball of about 1 tablespoon of dough and make the indentation. If the dough is too crumbly and difficult to form into a disk, you can add a small splash of milk. Measuring the dry ingredients correctly helps prevent this problem. I prefer to weigh my ingredients.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the over to 325 degrees and place parchment paper on two baking sheets.

If you are using thumbprint cutters, on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/4″ thick. Dip cutters into flour and cut out shapes. Press the plunger several times to make the indentation and emboss the pattern. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the baking sheets. Reroll dough as needed to use remaining dough.

Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown. Remove from oven and leave cookies on baking sheets. Fill the indentation with the preserves while to cookies are hot. This will help the jam melt and give it a smooth finish. Cool cookies completely before removing from the pan.

Store cookies at room temperature for several days in an airtight container. If you need to stack the cookies, place parchment paper between the layers. You can freeze these, even with the jelly, for a longer storage period.

You can sift more confectioner’s sugar over the cookies prior to serving. Fancy them up a bit.

It all started with one book…

A few months ago, I popped into my hometown. When I drive through, I revisit all my happy places and think about what they meant to me.

Driving past my old high school and the town library, I was reminded how one book helped me change my life. It brought me knowledge, which gave me confidence, which helped me be the best at something. Because of this book, I made many friends and memories, and grew up. One book helped me change.

Picture it, Sicily 1972, a young girl wandering far from home…just kidding. But it was 1972 and the start of Title IX. I may have wandered a bit. It was the first year of alleged equality in sports. It was the first year of a girl’s high school track team in my hometown. You know the song, big girls can’t run, so they throw. I had a natural affinity for throwing the discus. Try to find a sexier sport.

There was an abundance of resentment and toxic masculinity among the male species in the field events.  We were given the bare minimum that the law legislated. I went to the library and found a book on how to throw the discus. I found one oversized paperback book that became my bible. I don’t recall the title but it was unlikely as catchy as “Discus for Dummies.” I practiced seven days a week. By my senior year I sported a snazzy metal back brace. I still competed. No one told me not to. I taught myself how to spin when I threw the discus and improved every week. It was unusual for girls to master the spin. I kept looking at the black and white photos trying to capture the technique I needed. I practiced. I watched. I was determined. It was the foreshadowing of my future, being an individual contributor within a team. This book held the key to my accomplishing something. I became the best in my school, in my league and one of the top 20 in the state every year. It was measurable in yards, feet, and inches. It was indisputable. How often are you the best at something? As of a couple of years ago, I still held the record for my high school set in 1975. It’s a disgrace that female runners have set new records, but not in field events. The coaching is crucial.

This success gave me the opportunity to be recognized by a coach from another town and other high school track elites in my league. He believed in me enough to want to coach me on his free time. He wrote me a letter and called our Athletic Director. Unfortunately, I turned down his offer. One of my many mistakes in life. My friends and I became friends with these other athletes. It was great to fit in with people I admired. There were flirty friendships. There were some shenanigans. We went to their team dinners and parties. We went cruising in cars. I brought them to Boston and Cambridge for the culture. They brought me to bars. They got me fired from a great babysitting job. Note to self: boys, beer and babysitting do not go together.

Over the four years, I began to realize the impact of Title IX. I learned a lot about having to work at getting what I wanted. It wasn’t all victories and tooting rainbows. Life slapped me in the face more than once. I learned to endure. I was a constant in the Athletic Director’s office. We needed time in the weight room. We needed real uniforms. We needed better coaches. I was naive enough not to be intimidated. I was just a girl who had goals. I learned I had to rely on myself and my friends. We accomplished so much, and many life lessons were learned.

I had no idea how all these experiences would shape me, or how they would shape the future of women’s athletics. I just did what I had to. It was an exciting time of opportunities. It all started with a book.

Dear Twitter

Dear Twitter.

It’s been fun, but all good things must come to an end. You’ve been a good friend at 3am. So, thank you for entertaining me, and I’ve learned a lot about myself because of you. I have so much to be thankful for.

Thanks for keeping me informed on all the Boston news there is to know. I can watch any news station while following the other ones on Twitter. So many different angles to follow. Kudos to the WBZ morning team for their social media presence.  Oh how I laughed. You guys rock.

Thanks for sharing all the k-pop stories. There could be a Twitter just for all things k-pop. This has been a recent joy for me. It’s a new world. I’ve been reminded how little I know and how I will never know enough. It’s a fascinating industry. There isn’t enough time to listen to all the new-to-me artists. I’ll catch up. The music is amazing. But thanks for all the laughs and the information that makes me scratch my head. To all the artists, jebal be healthy and happy. Oh, and BTS, I have a profound respect for you as a group and as individuals. Let’s talk about it someday. Also, thanks for all the k-drama stories. So many series, so little time. They are my therapy. More to come on this topic.

Speaking of music, thanks for all the news on The Rose. It’s an amazing band of young men that work hard at their passion. They seem to be kind souls that care about their fan group. I need to believe that. I hope they realize they do not have anything to prove to anybody. Their music and lyrics are healing. Rock on guys.

Thanks for introducing me to new authors and reintroducing me to old friends. They are an amazing group. I love their book and life discussions. You inspire me in many ways. Sass on people! I have also discovered I never get tired of pictures of the Domino Sugar plant in Baltimore. 

Thanks for introducing me to new music. People who show you new music are the best. 

Thanks for all the Boston Police and Emergency Service news. It explains what I see and hear from my window. It reminds me how they are real heroes. 

Thanks for all the humorous tweets about grammar. The 15-year-old me never knew it could be so entertaining. She just thought it was confusing. 

Thanks for all the news stories be it international, national, or local. All of them are important. It reminds how I need to be more curious and learn about the world.

Thanks for making me laugh and cry. Maybe it was just information overload. Anyways, thanks for stirring my emotions. 

Thanks for opening my eyes to all the newspapers, magazines, journals, and other resources that exist in this magnificent world. I have bookmarked them for a snow day. 

Thanks for introducing me to podcasts, YouTube channels and other platforms I absolutely needed to know existed. My small world got bigger and brighter. My mindset is better now. See what I did there Eric Nam? People have their stories and I need to hear them. There are so many great things to discuss. I just pretend to hate people.

Thanks for all the pictures of the ocean that is happy and angry. The ocean is Mother Nature at her best. You’ve patched my soul.

Thanks for all the my-kinda-small town news. The article on my son was my favorite. You should have written more about my daughter in her high school basketball days. Just sayin’. I hold grudges forever. 

Thanks for all the political posts. I hated most of them. They reminded me how insane it is outside of my bubble and that people are weird and stupid. Fine, I already knew that. 

Thanks for all the weather news. I love weather. Thanks to someone awesome that reposts my weather photos. Weather is more than science to me. If Jim Cantore shows up, we know we are screwed.

Again, thanks for introducing me to new platforms so I can stay connected to the world. I’m still on the fence about needing to be connected. I just ordered more paper and pens just in case everything goes to shit collapses.

Lastly, thanks for reminding me how much hate there is in the world. How we all must make small changes every day. I’ll continue to be guarded and worry about mankind. I also learned to walk away from the destructive, negative people. I won’t let them win. I always had this power, I just forgot.

There are more things to be thankful for, but I will stop now. My mind can’t rest until my pen hits paper for another thought.  Last one out, hit the lights. Bye. 

Strawberry Summer Cake

My colleague told me about this fantastic recipe. I was looking to make something special for my son and his girlfriend. I didn’t want to make a double layer cake, or the usual chocolate chip cookies. I wanted something summery, so this seemed perfect. Here’s the original recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I opted to use only all-purpose flour, instead of the suggested barley flour. I don’t like buying ingredients I won’t use again. The cake is a wonderful texture and has a lovely flavor. More importantly, it’s delicious. You can use any berry of your liking. While the cake is baking, the berries get a jammy texture from the sugar topping. I reduced it to just what covers the berries. The amount varies deciding on the size of the berries. If they are smaller, I use more strawberries, and more sugar to cover them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter/prepare the springform, cake pan, or whatever you chose to use. I have an Emile Henri pie plate that is deep and it works perfectly. Smitten Kitchen discusses what to use in detail. You have to remember that the cake rises a lot.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray with Pam in a 9 inch spring form pan or a deep pie plate. I use an Emil Henri deep pie plate and it fits perfectly in it. You have to remember to cake rises a lot and you don’t want the batter to overflow. Smitten Kitchen discuss pan size at length on her blog.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy, with an electric mixer. This should take about 3 minutes and is an important step in any cake recipe. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined in a large measuring cup or bowl. I added this step. I like to mix the wet ingredients together to avoid over mixing the batter. Blend in the egg mixture until just combined with the sugar/butter mixture. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth. The batter will be thick.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberry slices, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sometimes you don’t always use all the strawberries. I found it depends on the size of the strawberries. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar (or less) over berries.

Bake cake 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50-60 minutes. My deep pie plate takes about 50 minutes. If it’s not quite done, it will continue to cook in the ceramic pie plate. I suggest start checking a little before 50 minutes. The strawberries will bubble and get gooey. Let cool in pan on rack. Cut into wedges. You can serve with whipped cream. I like it plain. I found this cake is better the second day. The cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered, and longer in the refrigerator, if there’s any left over.

Enjoy! Happy Summer!

                    InstaPot Rice Pudding

You’re probably asking yourself, “Do I really need to make rice pudding?” The answer is a firm yes. It’s perfect anytime of the year. Topping off a bowl of rice pudding with whipped cream will save your soul. The secret is to find the right recipe. I’ve done the research, so you don’t have to. This recipe has a nice consistency and a blended vanilla/cinnamon flavor. It also is quick, and you don’t have to stand by the stove and stir. Your only concern is giving it enough time to cool and thicken. I like to add plump golden raisins, but you don’t have to. I use vanilla beans, but vanilla extract works too. If you don’t have a cinnamon stick, you may add ground cinnamon to your taste. The recipe calls for a strip of orange or lemon zest. I prefer to keep it simple and use only the cinnamon and vanilla for flavorings.  Melissa Clark from the NYTs created this recipe and if you have a subscription, it can be found on the NYT recipe app. I love to read the comments. You can walk away with some additional ideas for most recipes.

Ingredients

¾ cup arborio or other short-grain rice

2 ½ cups whole milk

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick

½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped with the tip of a paring knife, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Large pinch of fine sea salt

½ cup heavy cream

2 egg yolks

½ cup golden raisins (optional)

Ground cinnamon or cardamon, for serving (optional)

Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Preparation

Step 1

Stir into the Instant Pot inner pot, the rice, milk, sugar, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, seeds, and salt.

Step 2

Lock the lid into place and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure.

Step 3

Open the lid and discard the cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean. 

Step 4

In a small bowl, whisk together the cream and egg yolks. Whisk into the rice and continue to stir until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. It will still look soupy. The residual heat of the rice will cook the yolks, and chilling will thicken the pudding. Stir in the raisins, if using. 

Step 5

You can spoon the pudding into individual bowls or leave in one bowl.  I like to let the pudding cool for about 20 minutes, then I cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours.

Serve with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or cardamon and whipped cream, if you’d like.

Note

What do you do with the remaining egg whites? You can make meringue cookies or refrigerate them to be used in an omelet. No need to waste them!

Date Nut Bread

I copied this recipe from my mother’s recipe box when I was a newlywed. I am certain her index card was not this disorganized. There is a reason recipes aren’t written in paragraph form. The stained recipes cards have the best recipes. But what hasn’t changed is the sweet and moist date nut bread. I like it the second day better than the first. It’s mandatory to refrigerate it for maximum flavor. If you are so inclined, it freezes beautifully and is always a welcomed gift.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a bread loaf pan. I like to line it with parchment so the bread releases easily after cooling.

1 cup boiling water

1 cup chopped dried dates

1 tsp. baking soda

1 pat butter

2 eggs, room temperature, separated

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped nuts or additional chopped dates (optional)

Preparing the dates:
In a, preferably, glass bowl, place one cup of chopped dates, 1 tsp. baking soda and one pat of butter. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over date mixture. Let cool to room temperature, for about 1/2 hour.

Separate the eggs. Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat until stiff. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and stir them until well mixed.

Into the cooled date mixture, add the egg yolks, sugar, flour, vanilla extra and the nuts/dates, if you desire. You can also leave out the nuts and additional dates. Stir until completely mixed. Fold in the egg whites. Be careful to gently fold them so you don’t deflate the egg whites.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for one hour. I always check at 50 minutes, just in case. When done baking, place on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes. Take the bread out of the pan and cool completely. Once cooled, I place the bread in a plastic bag and keep it in the fridge or freezer.

Enjoy!

Vegetable Soup for the Soul

Winter is a great time for soups. They taste delicious and keep you warm. Today we are experiencing a blizzard and I am soup ready! This vegetable soup is on the stand by for when we lose power. This is what I call TBTND: tastes better the next day. Over the years I’ve added a few things to make it even better. I like to add a small piece of parmesan rind to the soup. As it heats up, the cheese on the rind melts into the soup. I still like to garnish the top of my soup bowl with grated parmesan, but this addition to the simmering pot is a bonus. It adds a creaminess and flavor. After all the ingredients are added and heated through, I like to make a roux, of equal parts butter and flour. I cook it until it’s a dark brown and stir it into the bubbling pot. This adds a nutty flavor and helps thicken the soup.

I love to bake because it’s a precise science but I love to make soup for the opposite reason. It’s a free for all! It’s your time to be creative Soup recipes are more of a guide than a rule. You can add or take away from a recipe, to your liking. The most important part of making soup, is to have enough liquids to cook your ingredients. I like to think of soup as a meal in bowl which includes a protein (usually beans), vegetables, and a starch (potato or pasta).

Let’s make some soup!

Ingredients

  • Piece of parmesan rind
  • 32 ounces of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 15 ounces cannellini beans (or any bean of your choice)
  • 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes (petite diced is my favorite)
  • 16 ounce package of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 can of water
  • heaping 1/2 cup of uncooked ditalini or 1 large potato, diced or tortellini or uncooked rice
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 dried Bay leaf
  • 1+ tsp of seasoning of your choice, such as Umami, Creole seasoning , oregano, etc.
  • handful or two of baby spinach

Roux

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour

In a large pot, heat oil olive until it shimmers. You will need about 1 tbsp. You want to cover the bottom of the pan to saute the onions. Add the onions and celery, and sprinkle about 1 tsp of salt over them. Stir. Cook on a medium heat until the onions are almost translucent. Add the garlic cloves and stir for one minute. Add the tomato paste and stir until it’s totally mixed in.

Add the broth, the diced tomatoes and water to the pot and bring to a low boil. Once the pot is boiling add in your frozen vegetable, beans and parmesan rind. You can use a bag of mixed vegetables or chose several bags of the vegetables you like, and use a portion of the bags. If you are inspired, you can chop your own fresh vegetable. Once, it starts to boils again, if you’re using potatoes or uncooked rice, add them now. Add what ever seasonings or herbs you like. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir it a few times so the rind doesn’t stick to the pot bottom.

Once the soup base is heated through and the vegetables are cooked, add the ditalini. Stir the mixture until the ditalini starts to soften. It tends to stick to the pot bottom. Let this cook for about 12 minutes or so. Once the ditalini is cooked through, toss in your fresh baby spinch. This will take only a minute to cook. Continue stirring. Taste your soup and add additional seasoning if you’d like.

If you would like to thicken your soup, you can make a roux. In a small frying pan, melt your butter and stir in the flour. Use a medium high heat. Keep stirring as the color darkens. You cannot walk away from this or it will burn. Bring the soup to a boil. Keep stirring this mixture until it’s a dark brown.

Once the roux is done, quickly stir it into the pot of boiling soup. It will sizzle! Keep mixing until it’s incorporated. Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. The color should have changed and it will have thickened a bit.

I like to serve this soup with a fresh roll, or two! It’s a great bring to work lunch. If you need to feed a crowd, this soup will not disappoint.

Store in the fridge for about 5 days. This freezes well too. When you reheat it, you will need to add some water, as it gets thick when it cools.

Enjoy!

Breakfast Pizza

Pizza for breakfast! I have found a way to make two meals about cheese and bread! This pizza includes TWO cheeses, soft-scrambled eggs in a creamy béchamel sauce with sausage, sautéed red pepper and onion. All of my favorite foods. I made it for dinner, because I don’t have the patience to do all the parts in the early morning. It’s delicious for brunch or lunch. The leftovers were even fantastic.

As usual, I increased most ingredients. How can you have too much of a good thing? You cannot! I was sure that I had made too much of the veggie/sausage topping. I convinced myself that I would use it in an omelet later in the week. Nah…I made it all fit.They key was to stretch the dough close to the edge, and make a little ridge, so the béchamel doesn’t leak out. Mine did a little and it was ok. I made my own pizza dough, because I could. It’s really simple. Store bought pizza dough is also great. I used it to make pizza on the grill recently.

I love slathering on pizza sauce on a regular pizza. Surprise surprise, this pizza has no tomato based sauce, but uses a béchamel sauce that is easy and brings it to another level of pizza love. The original recipe calls for 4-6 large farm fresh eggs. I used 5 large grocery store eggs and no one complained. I was nervous about adding the eggs to the sauce and wondered, what is soft-scrambled? Well, mine was a little too-soft-scrambled and it worked. I whisked the mixture until it was getting thicker and had some soft chunks, because I didn’t want to over cook it. The oven finished it off perfectly.

I tend to increase the bests ingredients in recipes. I used 12 ounces, instead of the recommended 8 ounces of breakfast sausage. I used a whole red pepper instead of measuring out a 1/2 cup. My rationale is, when will I use the rest of the sausage or pepper, if I follow the original recipe? Never. My onion addiction had me use two medium onions instead of 1/2 cup. I don’t like measuring some things. I grated my own mozzarella and cheddar cheese. I measured THOSE, but added extra for “good luck.” I mean, CHEESE!

Let’s make some pizza!

one pound of pizza dough

12 ounces of bulk breakfast sausage

two medium onions, diced

1 large red pepper, diced ( a mix of red and yellow peppers is purdy)

3 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 cup of whole milk

5 large eggs

1+ cup of shredded mozzarella

1+ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

Pat out your pizza dough onto a baking/cookie sheet. I lightly coated the pan with olive oil and a dusting of cornmeal. Let it rise while you prepare the topping. I stretched the dough from the middle in an outwards motion. Gently. Let it rest a few minutes and continue to stretch a few more times. Pizza dough is funny like that. I like to form a ridge at the edge so the egg mixture doesn’t drip onto the pan.

In a large saute pan, cook the onions and peppers in a touch of butter or a glug of olive oil, until they begin to soften. You don’t want them to brown. If the pan gets too hot, take it off the burner and add a splash of olive oil to help cool it down. Add the sausage, breaking it up with your hands as you put it in the pan. Cook until the sausage is cooked through but not browned. If there is excess fat, drain it off. Let the mixture cool slightly.

In a medium saucepan, cook the 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour for a few minutes. Whisk it so it all cooks. You do not want it to brown, but to cook off the flour taste. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the milk. Return the pan to the heat and cook and whisk until the sauce begins to thicken.

Crack the eggs into a bowl, and then whisk them into the mixture. Continue to cook and whisk the eggs until soft set. Avoid overcooking or the eggs can become rubbery.

Spread the egg mixture over the crust, and top with the sausage mixture, spreading evenly. If you have more sausage mixture than pizza, save them for an omelet later in the week. If you have more eggs than you need, save if for scrambled eggs. I got mine to fit!!! Top with both cheeses. Stand back in awe. How beautiful is THAT?

Bake the pizza in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15-18 minutes, until well-browned and bubbly. I like to slip a metal spatula under the crust to see if it’s browning.

Enjoy!

The original recipe, from the good people at King Arthur Flour, is in the hyperlink above.

Baking hacks

You want to bake, but the butter and eggs are ice cold. I know, first world problems. But there’s a hack for that.

To warm your eggs to room temperature, place them in a bowl of warm water from your faucet. Not hot water, just warm. Let them sit for about 10-15 minutes. Voila! Room temperature eggs at the ready.

The butter. It will takes hour on the counter to soften. When you microwave it, some of it becomes puddles of butter, while the rest is still hard. How do you soften it quickly? There’s a hack for that! Fill a heat resistance Pyrex bowl with hot water. I have an electric kettle which makes the process faster. Fill the bowl about half way with hot water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Slice your butter on a heat resistant plate. Dinner plates are usually ok if you can microwave them. Don’t pile the slices of butter on top of each other, like I did. Rookie mistake. I had to do the process twice. Check to make sure the bowl and plate are compatible sizes. Ok. Now, throw in that laundry and fix your “no-show” socks that keep slipping. Empty the bowl, giving it a quick wipe and then place the empty, hot bowl over your plate of single layered sliced butter. Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. Ok. Now fix those stupid socks again. Prepare your baking pans. Make sure the oven is heating up. Measure your dry ingredients and your wet. This process does not take away time from your baking. Maybe it even lets you manage it better? (insert shrugging shoulders emoji) Check your email and the weather. Butter is ready for baking!

My last hack involves vanilla extract. My measuring spoons have straight sides. No matter how I tip them to pour in the vanilla extract, there is some residual in the spoon. So, I place the empty spoon in the milk. I hate wasting delicious vanilla.

So, what’s your excuse? Get baking! I have a cake to frost. Bye!