Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hummus



When I was little I didn't have a cell phone.  Nor did I have an iPod.  I actually had to get up and walk to the tv to change the channel.  And as for the phone (the one attached to the wall), I actually dialed it... with a real dial!  Today, when the power went out I didn't have a whole lot of sympathy for the kids and their lack of ability to use their current electronics!

What to do??  The cell hone wasn't charged up so she couldn't text.  The iPod player didn't have batteries so he couldn't play music while doing his math homework (shouldn't be listening to music while studying geometry anyway!), and the computer, well, it was just a blank screen.

Oh, the complaining I heard!  "What are we supposed to do now?"  Hmmmm... read a book?  Do your homework?  Go outside, even though it is sprinkling and you might get a bit damp.  Play with a puppy?  

For me the issue was the oven... I had a nice new recipe for Cranberry Orange Scones sitting next to some already softened butter.  Flour had even been measured and was patiently waiting to be combined with the baking powder and orange zest.  However, no power + no oven = no scones.   

With hunger pangs increasing, and no microwave available for a teenaged boy to heat up his burrito, the kids began to worry about how we would eat!  Dire circumstances indeed.... but as luck would have it we happened to have a fresh batch of creamy hummus in the fridge.  When combined with a bag of pita chips and a head of broccoli they were going to be just fine!

Hummus

An easy to make, healthy dip for your crunchy pita chips or vegies.  Greek yogurt adds a slight tang along with a nice creaminess.  Cayenne gives a slight punch that lingers on the tongue and makes you reach for more!

1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas), rinsed
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tbs lemon juice
3 Tbs Tahini
2 - 3 Tbs olive oil
generous 1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 Tbs Greek yogurt
1-2 Tbs water
salt to taste

olive oil and paprika for garnish

Place all ingredients (with the exception of the garnish) in a food processor and process until desired consistency.  Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, using more if the hummus is too thick.  

Spoon into a serving dish and top with a swirl of olive oil (garlic oil works well!) and a sprinkle of paprika.  Serve with pita or tortilla chips or crisp vegies.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Frozen Chocolate Banana Lolipops - by Liv. And a giveaway!

Frozen Banana Pops, by Liv
Today Liv Life has a few special treats for you.  First of all, I would like to welcome our first Guest Poster, none other than the inspiration behind this blog, Liv (age 11)!  With the arrival of summer here in San Diego (full sun with temps finally rising over 80º and actually hitting 97º!!) Liv took the opportunity to put together some of her favorite things, bananas, chocolate, sprinkles and a stick.  MMM!

In addition, we have been approached by "the people" at the CSN Store to give away a $35 gift card (available to residents of the United States or Canada only) good at any of their many stores.  With Liv's Banana Pops looking so cheery, we couldn't help but combine the two events.  So now I will turn over the keyboard to Liv and we will finish up about the give away at the bottom.

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It was a hot summer day in September and I was seeking a cold, yummy treat.  Of course it had to have sugar in it.  I’ve loved sugar since, well, forever!  I even remember one time when I was a little girl and I was at a Girl Scout meeting and my mom was the leader.  We were going around saying what our favorite food was, "Mine is pasta.” said my friend.  "Mine is pizza."  said my other friend.  Then it was my turn and I said, "Mine is sugar!"  and I didn’t mean in candy, no.   I meant sugar, pure sugar!

So for this hot summer day in fall, I decided to make Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Lollipops with sprinkles (of course).  Luckily we had two perfect bananas.  I peeled them and cut them into chunks.  Then I chopped milk chocolate and melted it.   I put a lollipop stick in each chunk and dipped it into the chocolate!  And for the grand finale I dipped the chocolate covered banana chunks in sprinkles!!!!!  After that, we froze them and finally ate them!!  They were sugarlicous!!!!!!!!!!:D



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Now for the $45 Giftcard Giveaway!!  I'm sure many of you are already familiar with the CSN Stores, but for those of you who are not, CSN is a network of stores with products covering all ends of the spectrum.  From end tables to game rooms to patio and garden, and of course, kitchen and cooking, they have it all.  My son was immediately disappointed that we didn't choose to put the gift card to use on a new air hockey table - he was quick to point out that the price was not only a good deal but they were offering free shipping as well (he's learning!).  Liv discovered Halloween Costumes for the pups, who were immediately thrilled that we decided to give the giftcard to one of you instead, and I, well, I won't fill you in on just how easy it is to get lost among 2,198 bakeware items...

Here are Liv's housekeeping rules:
  • You must be from the United States or Canada (actually that's CSN's rule)
  • To enter the giveaway we are not asking for anything other than a comment letting us know about a food that "helps you Liv Life in a yummier way!" (Liv's idea!)
  • We would love and appreciate a "like" on our Liv Life Facebook page, a link back to this post any way, or a sign up for our RSS or email feeds, but none of those are necessary to enter.
  • The contest will close as of noon, Pacific Standard Time, Sunday, October 10, 2010.
  • All names will be placed in our favorite mixing bowl, stirred with a wooden spoon and chosen at random by Liv.  
  • We will then send your contact information to Jamie at CSN and he will send you a $45 giftcard! 
That's it!  Thanks for participating, and Liv and I are looking forward to your comments.



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Savory Peach Chicken


Rosy peaches have been widely available at our local markets for the last few weeks and I can't help myself but to buy arm loads of these beautiful, blushed fruits.  When I arrive home I frequently look at my overflowing bag and think, "Now just what am I going to do with a dozen peaches that will all ripen on the same day?"  In addition to our luscious weekend treat, Peach Crepes, Ellie Krieger's Savory Peach Chicken was a perfect solution to our peach buying spree!

Four perfectly ripe peaches were chopped into large pieces and sautéed with a savory mix of soy sauce, garlic, and orange juice for a perfect sweet/savory dish that was a family pleaser served over rice.  A nice side salad along with a beautiful bowl of fresh berries (I was lucky to find organic black berries and golden raspberries!) completed our healthy weeknight dinner without much fuss and a request to "please make this again soon" was music to my ears!


Savory Peach Chicken
adapted from Ellie Krieger

3 cooked, boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks or slices
1/2 small onion, cut into wedges
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp powdered ginger (may use 1 tsp fresh minced or grated ginger)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
3 large firm-ripe peaches, chopped in large chunks
Scallion slices for topping

Spray large skillet with cooking spray and add onion wedges, cooking over medium heat for about 4 minutes, just until they begin to get tender.  While the onions are cooking, combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar and orange juice in a small bowl, whisk and set aside.  

Add ginger and garlic to the skillet and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the chicken broth, soy sauce mixture and peaches to the skillet and simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the peaches begin to soften.  Add the cooked, sliced or chunked chicken to the pan and cook until heated through.  Serve over white or brown rice and top with a sprinkle of sliced scallions.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies


 I think I'm getting old... I remember going to the movies when I was little and it was SO fun.  The big screen, the big bowl of fake buttered popcorn, a friend sitting next to me.  A kid's dream!  Somehow, I've changed over the years and now I usually prefer watching a video in the comfort of my own home, without all the crackling papers, crunching popcorn (I'm not a popcorn fan!) and coughing patrons.  

I haven't been to the actual theater in over a year, and was really looking forward to an evening out with my daughter and her friend to see the new You Again movie (it really was cute!).  Pizza was the treat of choice before heading in to find our seats, and luckily, by choosing the earlier showing we didn't have a full theater.  The girls sat in front of me and I settled in behind them with a nice big row all to myself.  With the theater being just a bit over 1/2 full, what are the chances that someone would pick the seat right next to me??  Tonight, the odds were 100%.  Really??  With 1/2 the theater open she had to pick that seat?  It's not like it was even a really good seat, and the entire rest of the row was open.  She then proceeded to eat each and every piece of her popcorn one, agonizing piece at a time.  I made it about half way through the movie before scooting down a few seats, giving myself a bit of breathing space.  The movie was cute, and I truly enjoyed watching the girls laugh and giggle.  The ride home was filled with their laughter and comments about the show that made me smile and to top it all off, we finished up our evening with a special Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookie treat.

Somehow, chocolate and peanut butter make everything better!  My Mom made these cookies for us a few years ago and I have a note, handwritten by my son, that these are the "best cookies in the world"!  The tender cookies, just ever so slightly crisp on the outside give way to a beautifully soft, peanut butter center.  Covered with a sprinkle of sugar the cookies melt in your mouth and any frustrations you may have simply slip away.  Easy to make, quick to bake and tasty to eat.  The perfect finish to a fun evening.  For my next movie though, I think I'm queuing up on Netflix! 


Friday, September 24, 2010

Grilled Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Black Bean Salsa


Fall has arrived in San Diego and thank goodness it is bringing some gorgeous summer weather with it!  This year our annual May Gray turned into the usual June Gloom which extended into the July... bly?  And on into August and even September.  What a "summer" it has been, cold, dreary, drizzly and not a whole lot of sun.  However... we finally woke up to a bright sun peeking over the horizon and received a whole new look on life.

The world bathed in the morning sun is truly beautiful.  Light, low on the horizon, provides a photographer's dream with soft, golden colors, and beautiful angles.  And to imagine I found myself on my morning beach walk without my camera!  Luckily my husband has supplied me with a trusty blackberry and with how nice this image turned out I'm wondering why the heck I need all my Canon equipment??  (To my husband - if you are reading this I'm just teasing!).

Sunny weather, warmer temps and a touch of summer automatically send me to the grill.  With a perfect pork tenderloin in the fridge, a few spices in the pantry and a bowl full of market fresh heirloom tomatoes, the Rubbed Tenderloin with Black Bean Salsa was a given.  The spices are those one usually has on hand and are easy to whisk together at a moments notice.  The salsa also uses fresh ingredients that are not out of the ordinary, but when mixed together provide a lovely contrast to the slightly spicy, tender pork.  Finished off with a side salad, a slice of focaccia and a bowl of fruit we have a meal that works for the whole family!



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Maple Glazed Coffee Cake


When my teenage son takes a piece of something and excitedly proclaims, "Mom!  I can't stop eating this!  Why don't you make things this good all the time???"  I know I have a hit.   This coffee cake lasted almost 20 hours, serving as a side at breakfast, a mid morning pick-me-up, and an after school snack.  As the last piece disappeared amid numerous hands all reaching for what was left, an immediate request went out to make this one again soon!

With such amazing reviews I have to share this recipe that caught my eye about a week ago while I was perusing the Cooking Light Message Boards.  Leonard posted the original recipe and after reading the comments:  "OMG! This is the best coffee cake I've ever tasted!! The cake is so tender, with the lovely buttery cinnamon flavors! The maple glaze is the finishing touch that makes this so incredibly delicious! This one is a must bake!"  I knew this was one for us.  A little brown sugar in the mix provided that deeper sugary flavor and subbing some spelt flour in place some of the All Purpose flour added a touch of whole grain without losing the tender crumb.  The maple glaze is amazing... sweet, yet extraordinarily flavorful, completely balanced with the little brown sugar/cinnamon strip that creates a beautiful, tasty layer in the center of the cake.

A wonderful addition to a brunch table, or simply a light mid morning snack, this cake is a sweet treat. 


Monday, September 20, 2010

Peach Crepes


Weekend mornings are so much more appreciated now that school is back in session.  Somehow waking up after the sun has broken the horizon feels much more agreeable than waking in complete darkness.  With less of an agenda on these leisurely weekend mornings, extra attention is given to our first meal of the day, and making breakfast together becomes a special time.  

Since discovering how easy it is to make strawberry crepes, these little fruit wraps have been oft requested by Liv.  Today's request though, found us without strawberries!  What to do?  A perusal of the fruit basket showed watermelon or 4 perfectly ripe peaches and one beautiful white nectarine.  Not much of a choice!  Out came the cutting board and we soon had a bowl of perfectly sliced, fragrant, juicy peaches.  

Hoping for a peach pie-like flavor and texture, we warmed a little butter in a pan, added brown sugar, cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg.  Once the sugar had begun to melt we added the peaches and simmered until they were somewhat soft, but not mushy - about 6 minutes.  Off of the heat we drizzled in a bit of our favorite Tahitian vanilla and were set to fill our lightly browned crepes.

Fragrant cinnamon and peaches filled the house with a tantalizing aroma... beautiful enough to drag a sleepy 14 year old boy from the depths of sleep wondering what was for breakfast, a definite sign that we had done well!

 

This recipe takes a good amount of ripe peaches and would be a perfect complement to a nice vanilla ice cream if you have leftovers... which I'm thinking you won't!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grand Marnier Brownie Bites


Who doesn't like the nicer things of life?  Breakfast prepared and served to you... an early morning run along the beach... a day at the spa??  Combine all three and you most certainly have a day worthy of a rich, decadent treat. 

With our spa appointment set for 10 AM, breakfast was prepared before the sun was up and the bowl licked clean.  Off to the beach, luck was with us when we found an old, yucky tennis ball that someone else had lost in the tossing waves.  But as they say, someone else's loss might be our treasure!

For 45 minutes we frolicked in the foggy mist and shared the beach with the occasional surfer entering or exiting the chilly ocean, but we made sure to let them know that this was our beach and not to get too close.  Now thoroughly wet, tired and sandy we made our way just a few miles south along the coast to Leucadia and the best spa we have yet to find.  Ahh... just imagine... getting our nails done, a special oatmeal shampoo and conditioner, hair completely styled, and our teeth brushed.  Yep... the Grateful Dog does it all!  

Life is good!
Kona and Tavo, our 10 month old Maltese adolescents had "the works" done at the Doggie Spa, but were apparently a bit out of hand and not really enjoying their spa treatments as much as they enjoyed that yucky, used tennis ball at the beach.  Luckily the groomers are patient and loving, and we came home with two adorably clean, beautifully smelling, exhausted puppies who enjoyed a quick snack and proceeded to sleep the afternoon away.

Kona (left) and Tavo after a day at the spa!
While the Grand Marnier Brownie Bites may not be the perfect doggie treat (chocolate is toxic to dogs!), this sumptuous chocolaty treat sounded absolutely divine to me.  Rich chocolate brownies embellished with a touch of grated orange peel and layered with a luscious Grand Marnier enhanced ganache for a bite of pure decadence.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Ellie Krieger's Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup


Every weekend I look forward to visiting our local Farmer's Markets.  Having no less than 3 markets that I regularly attend, I consider myself lucky.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are currently so beautiful and plentiful that I'm having a hard time resisting the urge to scoop them all up to bring home.  Summer produce is my favorite, and our cooler than average San Diego summer has local produce running a tad behind schedule, which is just fine by me!

In addition to flavorful sweet onions, succulent avocados and gorgeous salad greens, this week's market provided a bounty of fresh tomatoes.  Heirloom, cherry, and Roma were among the many varieties that found their way into my bag, all looking to be at the peak of their season!  The irregular yet inviting shapes of the heirloom varieties always catch my eye and are hard to resist... before I knew it I had a bag with more than I knew what I was going to do with.  Somewhat concerned that I had overdone it, I searched for recipes using pounds of tomatoes and thankfully remembered one of our favorites, Ms. Krieger's Roasted Tomato Black Bean Soup.  

Perfect selection of my treasured heirlooms!
The versatility of this savory recipe is a benefit for me as I don't always have just the right amount of tomatoes on hand, but using a few more or less doesn't materially impact the soup other than making it more or less tomatoey.  The black beans give texture that I love and adding roasted sweet onions lends a savory touch when combined with the roasted garlic.  Topping the soup with a sprinkle of cilantro, a scoop of creamy sour cream and a spoonful of luscious diced avocado provides a meal in a bowl that is just as good, if not better, the next day!  Perfect for freezing, I try to make extra to have on hand for those "I don't feel like cooking" days.

Soup with a side of our favorite focaccia!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Herbed Focaccia


14 years ago, 4 days after my son was born, we had a knock at the door and our wonderful neighbor, Brenda, brought me this delectable focaccia.  After eating hospital food for a few days, I can't even begin to explain how good this homemade treat tasted.  Soft, herby, a hint of garlic and a touch of salt.  Mmmm...  Beyond amazing!


Over the years we have served this bread at dinner parties as a side, with a dipping sauce as an appetizer, and sometimes simply split and layered with turkey and vegies for a quick lunch or snack.  Popping the ingredients into a bread machine on the dough cycle makes easy work of kneading while you are finishing up other errands or daily chores, or simply enjoying a nice glass of wine.  A final stretch of the dough, then topping it with oil, herbs and a touch of salt brings the bread to life as you pop it into the oven, and less than 20 minutes later you have a house that smells like a restaurant and a side of bread that your family will devour!

Usually I simply grind a sprinkle of Sea Salt over the top of the oiled dough, but today I had a special treat.  A couple of weeks ago I was the lucky winner to Deb from the Kahakai Kitchen's Captain Cooked book giveaway!  I won a signed copy of the recently released Captain Cooked book (a tale set in Hawaii with a foodie flair!) and Deb so kindly included spices and other foodie goodies along with the book.  Today we broke out the prized Red Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt.  Coarse and a lovely reddish color, we ground it a bit smaller and sprinkled it over our oiled and herbed dough.  Traditionally Hawaiians use Alaea salt in ceremonies to cleanse, purify and bless tools and canoes, as well as in healing rituals for medicinal purposes.  Further reading taught us that the salt is rich in natural minerals and is frequently used in traditional Hawaiian dishes such as Kalua pig.  We truly felt special using this blush colored salt, and would like to extend our hearty thanks to Deb for our special treat!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Temecula Wine Country and Farmer's Market Salad with Roasted Garlic and Sweet Cherry Vinaigrette

Temecula Wine Country, CA
 Every once in a while someone crosses your path and makes an impression.  More often than not, the impressions we remember are not as favorable as we would like... I think that's why when someone actually make you feel good, for no special reason, it's that much more special.  


Last Saturday my husband and I were lucky enough to meet a few special people as we carved out an afternoon together in the Temecula Wine Country.  As I stood at the Oak Mountain Winery Counter wondering which wine to taste, I heard a voice over my shoulder say "Try the Cab Franc".  With the description reading  "a nose of tamarind, black berry, pine needle and allspice", I wasn't quite sure, but took the advice and watched as the gorgeous burgundy liquid filled the bottom of my glass.  A swirl and a sniff led me to believe that I had made the right choice and a sip assured me that I had indeed chosen well! 

Mourvédre
As I turned and thanked the voice, my husband and I struck up a conversation with John who ended up helping us plan our day.  John lives in the valley and is a plethora of information on the ins and outs of the many wineries along the trail as well as the main town.  His recommendations were spot on and not only did we enjoy our time with him at Oak Mountain, we ended up bumping into him at his next recommendation, Danza Del Sol, a new winery that is sure to be up and coming.   

But before we left Oak Maountain, following John's advice and that of Debbie, the pourer, I took advantage of the Avocado Oil tasting table set up in the tasting room.  After numerous tastes and mixings of the special oils which included Roasted Garlic, Blood Orange, Chili, Key Lime, and Tuscan Herb, and just as many flavored vinegars, I chose the Roasted Garlic and Sweet Cherry Vinegar combo to take home.  

At our next stop, Danza Del Sol, we had the pleasure of meeting John one more time, and again following his advice, we enjoyed a flavorful flight of reds.  He highly recommended the Cab, which my husband completely agreed with, while I slightly preferred the Merlot.  John and the pourer filled us in on the new ownership of the winery and the improvements that had been done to the beautiful tasting room.  After another quarter hour of easy conversation (which included a lunch spot tip!) John told us that he was going to be on his way.  As we thanked him for a very enjoyable afternoon he gave me a quick hug and with a smile, pressed a bottle of the Merlot I had so enjoyed into my hands saying, "This is for you," and sauntered out the door.  So John... thank you for the Merlot!  I'm am enjoying it in my Danza Del Sol glass as I type and as promised, we are thinking of you!

Scallion dipping sauce with focaccia
On down the road, John's next suggestion for our last tasting of the day as well as an extraordinarily tasty lunch at Ponte Winery brought us to Hilary, a most delightful girl serving us in the restaurant .  The reds again were robust and gratifying, and the meal, beginning with the focaccia and a most amazing Scallion Dipping Sauce followed by a shared Grilled Romaine Salad, delectable Halibut for me and a tasty pulled pork for my husband was beyond delicious.  Hilary (thankfully!) highly recommended the creamy Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee which was topped with fresh berries and we smiled with pleasure at the end of our day.  Hilary's first wedding anniversary is this month, and we would like to send our best wishes her and her husband (we think he made quite a catch!).

Zinfandel grapes with my Zinfandel!

As we headed home with full bellies, relaxed minds, and bags full of wine, oils, vinegars and 3 Scallion Dipping Sauces, we commented on the lovely people who had crossed our path this wonderful day.  I don't know if we will ever see John or Hilary again, but the little things they did on this delightful day will remain with us, and as I am doing right this minute, every time I pull out my Danza Del Sol glass, I will smile and think of John, the man from Temecula with so much valuable information and a wonderful smile.

Farmer's Market Salad with Oak Mountain Roasted Garlic Oil and Sweet Cherry Vinaigrette 


A trip to our local Farmer's Market provided a treasure of early fall (late summer?) vegetables!  Heirloom tomatoes so red they don't look real, sweet onions grown in local fields, avocados fresh from the tree and an amazing red lettuce mixed together to create an fantastic side salad topped with our Temecula Vinaigrette.   These amazing avocado oils and/or flavored vinegars are available on the Oak Mountain Web Site (I have not received any incentive from Oak Mountain or any of the wineries in this post, my opinions are just that, my opinions!).

2 Tbs of your favorite oil (I used the Roasted Garlic)
1 1/2 Tbs of your favorite vinegar (I used Sweet Cherry)
1 small dollop of spicy mustard
small clove of garlic, minced (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Greens, torn
Heirloom tomatoes, chopped
sweet onions, chopped or sliced into rounds
avocado, diced
Sprinkle of toasted, salted peppitas 
Sprinkle of Crumbled Feta or Blue cheese

Whisk oil, vinegar, mustard and garlic together in small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Tear the lettuce into a large bowl and layer with tomatoes, onions, avocado and any other of your favorite salad ingredients.  Pour desired amount of the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss lightly to coat.  Top with a sprinkle of peppitas and your favorite cheese, crumbled feta or gorgonzola and serve. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Quinoa
Labor Day may have passed, but my kitchen is still swirling with fresh fruits and vegies.  A recent visit to our local Farmer's Market in Vista provided a plethora of delights - poblanos, cilantro, heirloom tomatoes (my favorite find this season!), melons, mushrooms, corn and organic peaches and raspberries... just to name a few.   With my husband's arms overflowing with my treasures, I tossed in a fragrant, white tuberose and our visit was complete.   All of these fresh finds made putting together this healthy side effortless.  

Quinoa, frequently described as a grain, is actually the seed to a leafy plant distantly related to spinach.  High in protein and a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, it packs a healthy punch in addition to providing a pleasing delicate, nutty flavor.  The seed works well in side salads, main dishes and I have even seen recipes for breakfast!  Easily substitutable for most any other grain, this seed has earned a high place in my kitchen.

 

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans is a versatile recipe that works well with whatever vegetables you may have on hand, making it an easy last minute choice and transitioning seasons.  With my treasure chest full of market vegies, the salad tossed together quickly, and easily provided a tasty and healthy side!  (FYI... left overs make a perfect next day lunch!) 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza


I, for one, am refusing to accept the passing of summer.  Actually, with the gray, chilly weather we have been having here in coastal Carlsbad, we really didn't have summer, so it really can't pass!  On the flip side... our cooler than normal summer has put all of the summer fruits and vegetables a few weeks behind and we are still seeing the local markets with perfectly ripe fruits and vegies in abundance.  

With mild temps nearly all year round, the grill is my main cooking device, with the exception of those 14 or so days a year that it rains.
Dough par baking on the grill
Pizza on the grill often gets a raised eyebrow or two when I explain that I'm tossing the dough directly on to the grates.  The most frequent question is, "Won't it fall through?"   No, it' won't!  

The dough is rolled thin (or thick if you prefer) and placed on the hot grate for a few moments until the bottom of the dough is cooked.  Most recipes will have you flip it over and place the toppings on the dough while it is on the grill, however I've found that this is a perfect way for me to get overcooked (burned!) pizza.  After cooking one side of the dough I remove it from the grill and flip it onto a rimless baking sheet that has been sprinkled with semolina.  Quickly add the sauce and toppings.  Sliding the finished pie onto the grates is easily done with a slight shake of the pan and within minutes you have perfect, bubbling, cheesy pizza ready for a family dinner.

Par baked pizza with toppings... waiting for the cheese!
With the exception of making the dough (but you could use store bought!), the grilled pizza is done in a flash and ready for the table.  Our favorite is BBQ Chicken, but you could just as easily do a Pizza Margherita, plain cheese, or a pie with the works.  Perfect for an appetizer tray or a full meal.  The grill may not be the same as a wood fired kitchen oven, but it most certainly does the trick!



Grilled Pizza

1 batch of your favorite pizza dough, or store bought.

BBQ Sauce or pizza sauce
Chicken
onion
cilantro
cheese *
avocado


Semolina Flour for sprinkling on the pan

* (I use a blend of pre-shredded cheeses from Trader Joe's, Quattro Formaggio as well as a shredded blend of mozzarella, cheddar and jack.  For the BBQ Chicken pizza I add some of my own shredded smoked gouda - note that the gouda is not the best melting cheese and may not melt as quickly as the others, but adds a wonderful smoky flavor!)

Preheat grill, then roll pizza dough to desired thickness.  Have all topping ingredients ready to go by your grill.

Reduce grill heat to low and place rolled dough directly onto oiled grates.  Cover and cook for about 2 minutes, just until grill marks appear on bottom of dough.  The dough will begin to puff.  Remove dough to a rimless baking pan generously sprinkled with semolina flour or fine cornmeal, flipping it so that the cooked side is up.  

Working quickly, spread sauce over dough and top with your favorite toppings.  Slide prepared pizza onto grill over low heat and cover.  Cover and cook until bottom of pizza is slightly crispy and the cheese is melted.  Don't peek at the pizza too often as you will release the heat from the grill and the cheese will not melt as quickly...  However, do keep a watchful eye on the pizza as the bottom may burn easily if grill is too hot.  If the bottom begins to burn, slide the rimless pan under the pizza and remove from the grill, line the grates with foil and return the pizza to finish melting the cheese.  

When the pizza is done, remove from the grill and cool slightly before serving.  Top with extra Parmesan, crushed red peppers, cilantro, avocado or any of your favorite toppings.

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On a side note... we would like to introduce Elizabeth!!  Elizabeth is a new addition to our neighborhood (no... not my house!) and came into the world about 5 weeks ago.  She has 2 sisters and 1 brother who look just like her!  With her adorable face and eyes that melted my heart, I couldn't help but post a photo for everyone to see.  Weighing in at a whopping 2 lbs, she is the "big" one of the family.  She lives a few houses up from us and we have had the pleasure of watching the puppies grow from infants to toddlers so far.  Watching them get their balance and form their little personalities has been a joy!

Elizabeth



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Whole Wheat Pancakes



Pancakes, hot off the griddle, topped with a touch of butter or maybe some sweet maple syrup, are always a good start to the morning.  Add in some whole grains and a side of OJ for a health boost and you are off and running with energy for the day!  Our early Tuesday morning followed this exact scenario after enjoying a much needed extra day off during our holiday weekend.  


As this summer draws itself to an unwelcome close we did our best to enjoy the holiday weekend.  A fun-filled evening with friends, an exciting day at the track and best of all, simple time together was enjoyed by all.  However, it was with heavy hearts that we received news that two of my husband's co-workers lost their lives last Friday as they valiantly fought to get the UPS 747 they were flying on the ground as some sort of fire caused them to eventually crash their plane in Dubai.  Our hearts, in addition to our thoughts and prayers, are with their families as they suffer through these most difficult days.  As I send my husband off to fly the open skies this evening I know there are two new shining stars to clear the way for all those in the air.

All the more important to have enjoyed our special early morning pancake breakfast!  Lately I've been getting a number of foodie comments from the kids, but the one that lets me know we have a definite hit is "Mom... you should write about this one!"  And that is the exact comment I received this morning regarding these easy to make, far better than any box, fluffy pancakes.  Whole wheat flour and a touch of wheat germ add additional flavor to the light texture, while the buttermilk adds a bit of depth.  While Liv feels they would be best with covered with whipped cream in addition to syrup, we simply stuck to the syrup and were quite pleased all the way around.  


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