I feel like I've exhausted most of the Covid 19 food related topics on my blog and I don't have anything new to say about it sooooo I decided to break my foot so I'd have a new topic to discuss on my blog. 🤣(I'm sure you were all getting a little tired of my quarantine woahs anyway.) I think I've gone from bad to worse when it comes to food blog commentary. Details about my broken metatarsal is about as appealing as watching someone get wax pulled from their ear. (Giving you all the visuals today. 🤪)
Not to worry - out of respect for readers who are just looking for a decent recipe, I'm going to spare you all the gory details of the recent mishap to my lower appendage. But, you will probably hear me grumble about the fact that I'm back on crutches for the foreseeable future, the fact that this has put a huge kink in my plans for the summer AND the fact that I can't drive. (Ok, I'm done complaining now.)
It didn't take me long to figure out that a simplified dinner menu works best for a girl with only one good foot. I feel super blessed to have my uber-supportive family to pitch in whenever I need extra assistance and meal time is definitely one of those times. I'm trying to plan meals that they will enjoy and also using this time to add to secretly their culinary repertoire. I'm going to have them making beef bourguignon by the time this whimpy bone heals. 🥩😅
French Bread Pizza seemed like the perfect way to launch my family members into a summer of involuntary cooking training. It's something that I really haven't made or eaten since I was a kid. I'm not really sure why or when French Bread Pizza fell off my radar but I probably hadn't even thought at least 20 years. It was featured in a recent issue of Cook's Illustrated though and I could not wait to whip up a batch of this cheesy pizza throw back meal.
French Bread Pizza
24x4" soft French Bread
1 Tablespoon oil
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 Tablespoon oil
3/4 teaspoon basil
3/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
I served my French Bread Pizza with a simple green salad and it was DELICIOUS!
French bread pizza is officially back on my dinner rotation. It was super easy to put together and it was super tasty. I didn't have any topping to put on our pizza last night but this pizza WILL be making a repeat performance and next time, it just might be stacked high with freshly sliced garden tomatoes, black olives and button mushrooms. THEE perfect pizza combination.
Georgia is STARTING to see some signs of life in businesses and restaurants that have been desolate for months. Like most people, I'm navigating this period with caution and slowly starting to find my "new normal." I've accepted the fact that I can't leave the house without masks and hand sanitizer anymore. I'm a pro at disinfecting literally everything (and everyone🐶🤪) in my house. And if I see toilet paper in the store - I buy it because I might not find it again for weeks. 🧻 New normals.
On a positive note, I'm having a much easier time finding what I need at the grocery store now, than I did when this pandemic began. Chicken, fish, and even pastas, rice and beans have all made their way back to the grocery store shelves. Yeast and flour have been the hardest things for me to find. Is it possible that a side effect of this virus is the need to bake homemade bread? 🥖
I'm not out to judge the quarantine bakers - I did my share of baking while were sheltering in place. I think that more people SHOULD make their own bread actually. Just don't hoard all of the flour and yeast, people.
Biscotti was my go-to when I had the urge to bake while I was in self quarantine. They freeze beautifully so I don't have to worry about trying to eat them all before they expire AND I have lots of family who generously offer to help eat any leftover biscotti when I bake a batch that's bigger than I anticipated.
I have 28 different biscotti recipes on my website (I guess that explains just how much I love them.) and not a single one for vanilla biscotti. I think I've got just about every other fruit and nut combination that you can think but I decided that it was time that I added a good old fashioned vanilla biscotti to my repertoire. I scraped the seeds from the inside of a vanilla bean and added them to the batter to give this biscotti that beautifully speckled look and rich, vanilla flavor.
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
I'm a morning tea drinker and these vanilla biscotti are the perfect compliment to a cup of peppermint tea. AND they're dairy free!! Just an added bonus. Hope you enjoy.
If you want to see my type A personality come out - come to my house 30 minutes before I host a dinner party. If you envision a put together food network cooking show scenario where I've got everything organized and under control - you couldn't be any more wrong. 🙄 I can assure you that things are anything but calm and any bystanders would agree that it doesn't appear that I have things even remotely under control! 30 minutes before any dinner party, my hair will still be pulled up into an untidy pony tail (not the cute kind), my sleeves will be rolled up and covered in food scraps and I morph into the supreme dictator of the kitchen.
Amidst all of the chaos of last minute preparations, I lose all sense of politeness and I start barking commands at my poor family. "No, you may not move the dining room table to the back yard!" "No we can't squeeze 12 chairs around our 3 foot kitchen table." I'm embarrassed to say that these are actual statements that have come out of my mouth 30 minutes before dinner guests arrived at my house. My family has learned to accept the fact that all of these "less than desirable" traits will come out in me before we host a dinner party and more importantly, they've also learned to avoid the kitchen and maintain as little contact with me as possible during this stressful time.
Somehow, as if by magic, once we reach 10 minute mark from dinner guests arriving, no matter what stage the meal is in, I force myself to retreat to the bathroom to make myself presentable for dinner and miraculously, when I emerge, my attitude radically shifts to a more pleasant and civilized persona. My kitchen turns from a state of pandemonium to controlled chaos and my language becomes softer and all around, more congenial. I'm in "company mode" at this point.
I used to think that it was the food that I was serving that caused all of my pre-dinner party stress so I started to simplify my menus. Tackling beef bourguignon for a party of 15 might be a stretch so I started serving things like big pans of lasagna and make ahead casseroles. But even with the simplified menu, it happened like clock work - 30 minutes prior to any event, things would start to fall apart in my kitchen.
So where are my fellow type A personalities? I know you're out there. We may not be the nicest people to be around while dinner preparations are underway but we WILL get the job done - our way. (Type A people know exactly what I mean by that. - And all those people married to type A people.) 😂 I refuse to let my inner Dr. Jekyll stop me from inviting guests over for dinner though. I hosted a luncheon recently and served these delicious Avocado and White Bean Sandwiches. They were a BIG hit and I even though I had my usual mini meltdown 30 minutes prior to the arrival of my guests, it was completely unrelated to these sandwiches. These sandwiches are REALLY delicious and a great option for non-meat eaters.
Avocado and White Bean Sandwich
15 ounce can white beans or chick peas
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 slices whole grain bread
1 cup chopped roasted red peppers
8 thins slices sharp Cheddar cheese
4 cups baby lettuce
I think this is my new favorite summer sandwich. I've been eating a lot of these lately and experimenting with different types of bread and cheese on my sandwiches. Enjoy!
Serendipity. Have you ever received good news in the middle of an otherwise ordinary day that completely caught you off guard and changed the trajectory of your day? Like putting on an old pair of jeans and finding a twenty dollar bill in the pocket.👖 Nothing turns around my bad attitude faster than discovering unexpected cash. 💵
Serendipity plays a role in the majority of my recipes creations as well. I'm pretty sure that most of my most popular recipes were all discovered by accident. When I'm out of one ingredient and I have to substitute another only to realize that the substituted ingredient really was the better choice all along. When I try and recreate a restaurant meal from memory and I end up making something entirely different but equally delicious.
On a recent freezer quarantine clean out, I discovered a plethora of leftover meatballs which were just screaming to be used in some sort of deliciously saucy and cheesy recipe. Hello, Meatball Skillet Bake.
I always thought of meatballs as an accompaniment to a big pasta dinner but why not let them take the spotlight and be the star of the meal for once? Now that the carnivores (2) outnumber the non-meat eaters (me) in this house - I'm having to prepare more meat based meals than normal. I've got to admit that once these meatballs were covered in rich, homemade tomato sauce and smothered in mozzarella cheese, even I was tempted to dig in.
Meatball Skillet Bake
1 dozen meatballs
2 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Cover and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 oven.
Place pan under broiler to brown cheese.
My family has given me the title of "sauce natzi" because of my strict regulation of my homemade spaghetti sauce. I have a strict 'No Oversaucing" policy so as not to waste even a single drop of my precious homemade sauce. If you're a fan of lots of sauce though - go for it and just drench these babies in tomato sauce before you pop them in the oven. I wont judge you.
For some reason, my catering business has gotten an unusually large number of requests for tiny food lately. Mini cupcakes, tiny quiches, small finger sandwiches and dainty little tartlets. While everyone else seems to be craving delicate little treats, I'm over here dreaming about an enormous chocolate cookie. 🍪 The kind of cookie that takes two hands to properly hold. A cookie with at least a million calories. One that's way too large to dunk in a glass of milk. 🥛I'm talking about a REALLY GIANT cookie - the size of a pizza. A cookie that's plenty big enough for 2 people to share. Or not???
Until I made these cookies recently, I had forgotten just how satisfying a giant cookie can be. It reminded me how much I've missed ridiculously large cookies in my life. I used to make giant cookies for my kids when they were little. Their little faces would absolutely light up when they were offered a cookie that was the size of their head. Who wouldn't love a head-sized cookie?
Triple Chocolate Almond Cookies
8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup roasted almond butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1 egg white, beaten
Hold this larger than life cookie in your hands and take a bite or slice it up like a pizza. Either way - your chocolate cravings will be satisfied. I love tiny food as much as the next girl and I think there are occasions where small, delicate bites are more appropriate. BUT, a single miniature Chocolate cupcake doesn't always satisfy my need for sugar and chocolate. 💁🏻♀️
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