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Braving the Elements

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I’ll have you know, Brent and I did not puss out and let the rain keep us inside yesterday. We decided to head downtown anyway, and after an hour or so, the rain turned to our normal drizzle and all was right with the world. We’ve been trying to get out of our little Queen Anne bubble, so we took ourselves downtown for some shopping and then on a walking tour of Capitol Hill.

After a few miles of walking, we stopped at Quinn’s Gastropub for some beer and maybe a snack. Quinn’s has Happy Hour from 3-5 Monday-Saturday (woot! a HH brent can actually participate in!) so we were psyched for some half price beer, especially when we saw what Brent referred to as “a taste of home.”

Sofie, the saison from Goose Island. So refreshing and we were so psyched to see it because Goose Island has extremely limited distribution in Washington. We miss our midwest beer. The seattlelites love their beer, and claim they have the best beer scene in the country, but umm… we disagree. We haven’t found any breweries in Washington that we like and we definitely miss Goose Island, 3 Floyds, and Bell’s.

Anyway, along with splitting the Sofie, we also ordered some frites because Brent saw them delivered to someone else and thought they looked good. We tend to spy on other diners. That’s a totally normal thing, right? The frites were served with a Fontina fonduta and some kind of demi glace. (Feel free to call it fries with cheese sauce and gravy, Quinn’s. I don’t need impressing).

Assuming that picture loaded for you, you don’t need me to tell you these were delicious. We obviously need to go back for dinner sometime. Or just more bar food and beer. I’m not picky. I would have definitely ordered more food, but we had the makings for pizza at home so we headed back.

Last night’s pizza topping combo was requested by Brent and inspired by one of our favorite haunts in Fort Wayne, 800 Degrees. We were huge fans of their rocket pizza, so I made a pizza (crust from ABin5) with prosciutto, sliced garlic, Fontina and arugula. I just layered the prosciutto  on the dough, sprinkled sliced garlic, topped with a healthy dose of the cheese and baked for 10 minutes. When the pizza came out of the oven, I tossed a handful of arugula on top, just so it barely wilts.

The pizza was great, but perhaps a bit too salty for my taste. Brent could not stop raving about it and ate all of his pizza and quite a bit of mine too. I guess it’s clearly a make again.

For us, it’s another grey, wet day out here, but I’ll be making my way to the Ballard Farmers Market, and maybe over to Bedlam Coffee for a Nutella Mocha. Hope losing an hour doesn’t slow down your Sunday!

Locally-Inspired Pizza

I’ve had last night’s dinner on my mind all week. It was inspired by a slice of pizza Brent and I had from Veraci Pizza at the Ballard Farmers’ Market last Sunday. It was made with mole salami from Salumi (owned by Mario Batali’s father) and cheese from Beecher’s in Pike Place Market. It was so flavorful and delicious. Just a perfectly topped pizza, so while eating I immediately said to Brent, “I could make this you know.” Cocky, aren’t I?

I lied. My version was not as good as its inspiration, but it was very tasty in its own right. Here’s what I used:

  • 1 orange-sized hunk of the Master Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes
  • 1/2 c. fire-roasted tomatoes, drained and pureed
  • drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few slices of mole salami (any salami would work)
  • 2oz Beecher’s Flagship cheese (any semi-hard cheese would work)
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • plenty of cornmeal

To begin, I rolled out the dough to about 1/4-1/2″ thick. I gave up trying to make circular pizza long ago. Most of mine are misshapen and they taste great regardless. place the rolled dough onto a generous sprinkling of cornmeal on a cutting board, pizza peel, or some other flat surface. I drizzled the dough lightly with olive oil, spread the tomato puree thinly over the surface and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Once your base is ready, place a few slices of salami over the surface. This stuff is very potent and flavorful, so there’s no need to go overboard here.

Please note my awesome use of an upside down baking sheet as a pizza peel. It’s all about resourcefulness people. Next put some cheese on that pie. The pizza I was trying to replicate had thick, chewy, delicious discs of cheese on it, but I realize now I cut my cheese too thinly and thus it melted rather evenly over the pie, which was still delish, just not what I was going for. As a final flourish, sprinkle some scallions over the top for color and a bit of flava.

Now it was ready for baking. Slide the pizza off the pizza peel onto a pizza stone in an oven that has been preheated to 450 degrees. Ideally you want to do this step very quickly so that the oven does not lose much heat. Because I am not graceful and I never seem to use enough cornmeal, it takes me longer than it should. Oh well. I usually bake my pizzas (which are around 10-12 inches in diameter) for about 12 minutes. That gives it time to brown, but still leaves some chewiness in the crust.

This pizza was really great. Usually I make a simple green salad to go with our pizzas, but I was feeling lazy last night, so we just split the pizza. It earned rave reviews from Brent, but he agreed about slicing the cheese more thickly next time.

Brent really enjoys the Salumi salami and eats it as a snack frequently, but it was way improved on this pizza! It got crispy  and even more delicious. Oh, and pureed tomatoes actually makes a perfect pizza sauce, I think. I prefer it over commercially prepared “pizza sauces.”

Backing up, before dinner I went to yoga and really enjoyed it! I liked the studio so much that, after paying the drop-in rate last night, I went back this morning and bought a 2 month unlimited membership and attended the 8:30am class. AND Brent went with me this morning! He’s been saying he has an increase in stress from his new job and he was looking for a healthy outlet to relieve some stress. He wasn’t convinced yoga would be his type of thing but he gave it a try, and said he may go back next week! 🙂

We also made it to the movies after dinner. We ended up seeing True Grit, which with both loved. I have serious love for Jeff Bridges and the Coen Brothers so I really enjoyed the movie. So glad we finally went! After yoga, brunch (more on that later), and a bit of walking and shopping, we’re back home and bumming around for the rest of the day. Hope you’re having an awesome weekend!

A Taste of Home

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I love Chicago. I mean, I’m falling in love with Seattle now, but I will always love Chicago. One thing I love about Chicago is deep dish pizza. I understand there is controversy about pizza variations, but I’m thankful I’m from Chicago and grew up loving deep dish. My husband did not. He’s kind of offended by it. It’s not that he hates it, but it’s that he very much share’s Anthony Bourdain’s opinion on the subject: “It may be tasty but it is most definitely not pizza.” False. It’s pizza. More than that, it’s the best kind of pizza. And I seriously love it.

I eat Lou Malnati’s spinach deep dish nearly every time I go home, but that’s probably going to be happening a whole lot less now that I live 2000+ miles away. The obvious solution is to find amazing and delicious pizza here in Seattle, but you would be surprised how difficult that is. We’ve tried a few super highly rated pizza places around here and been decidedly underwhelmed by everything we’ve encountered there.

We were in luck on Saturday, however, because we made our way to a new neighborhood. We were in Fremont enjoying some beer at Fremont Brewing (amazing beer, by the way), and when it came time for dinner, we turned to Yelp and searched by nearby restaurants. As luck should have it, Kylie’s Chicago Pizza was a few blocks away. I was excited to try it, but also a bit hesitant. I don’t know who Kylie is, and didn’t know what credentials she had to be claiming to make real Chicago pizza in a funky neighborhood in Seattle. But the possibility had to be explored.

What I found was not my all-time favorite pizza. That title will always belong to Lou’s spinach, but I was pleasantly surprised to find more than a decent facsimile in my new city. 🙂 We started with a green salad, which we ordered more to take up the time while we waited the half hour for our pizza to be ready.

For the main event, we went with the Chicago Classic, with sausage, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. I was judging this pizza pretty harshly as we were eating. It was bound to happen, given my passion for authentic deep dish. The tomatoes weren’t fresh like Lou’s. The mushrooms were the canned variety (a true pizza horror), and I much prefer Lou’s flaky crust. Even with all that though, the pizza was delicious.

It may not be Lou’s, but it’s the best I’ve had on the west coast, and it will make a perfect location to return to when I’m feeling a bit homesick.

Oh, and you know what the best part of any deep dish is? The leftovers. It reheats way better than any other type of pizza! I got to enjoy this meal two days in a row. 🙂

Question: Do you have any fierce food loyalties?

Green Pizza

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Tonight’s dinner was definitely not original, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. It’s the return of the Kale Ricotta Pizza but with a pesto twist. The base of the pizza was plain old delicious master recipe from Artisan Bread. After shaping, I spread a mixture of ricotta (about 1/2 cup) cheese and basil pesto (about 2-3T). Next, I sauteed the kale along with some garlic in a bit of olive oil and added that I top of the cheese. I also sprinkled some sliced scallions and pine nuts on the pizza for fun. No pizza in my house would be complete without melted cheese, so I topped with a mix of mozzarella and Parmesan.

I baked for 15 minutes at 450, and while the oven was doing its thing, I threw together a salad of artisan lettuce, carrots, cuke, red bell pepper, homemade balsamic vinaigrette and a sprinkle of more Parm.

The pizza looked pretty amazing straight out of the oven, but I let it cool on a wire rack for a few minutes to keep the crust crisp.

Pizza is such a delicious way to get your greens in! Dinner is served:

For the next few weeks, school is going to be significantly less demanding, which is so amazing! I’m taking advantage by spending time with friends and family. I spent this past weekend in Chicago for a family party, and on Friday I’m heading to DC for the weekend with my college friends! You know we love Halloween, so we always seem to find a way to be together for the holiday. 🙂

Eatin’ Solo

Brent was gone all weekend doing dude things like drinking a lot of beer and going on a multi-city, 4 baseball games in 4 days roadtrip with his college friends. What this means for me, is that my effort in the kitchen has been pretty minimal. I enjoy cooking, but it’s hard to make it seem worth the effort when it’s only for one person.

That doesn’t mean I eat TV dinners and drive-thru fare when I’m hanging out by myself, but I definitely don’t like to dirty a ton of pots & pans. Friday night all I really wanted was wine and cheese. I thought about making something “more complete” but I just didn’t feel like it. I just made what I was craving: a whole wheat baguette made from the whole grain master recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

I cut the baguette into slices and toasted them in the oven for about 5 minutes and topped with some Brie and sliced Honeycrisp apples.

Along with a glass or two of Chardonnay, this was such a satisfying dinner.

Saturday night, I wanted to clean out the fridge, so I threw the remains of some zucchini, mushrooms, and red bell peppers onto a baking sheet with some olive oil and salt and roasted for about 10-15 minutes. I rolled out some whole wheat dough from the recipe above and covered it with the roasted veggies and a few leftover artichoke hearts. I covered all of that with some mozzarella and goat cheese and baked at 450 for 12 minutes.

Perfect pizza for one. Making individual pizzas is definitely one of the reasons I like making my own. This was so good! (and there was more wine). I wouldn’t have probably made it for Brent because he doesn’t appreciate a lot of stuff on his pizza usually. He’s more of a cheese and anchovy person.

Tonight I got a dinner and Dexter date with my friend. So psyched! 🙂

Pizza, Beer, & Football

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Today I had football practice. Brent claims I wasn’t a total incompetent, but I know he was just being nice. I’m a turd on the field. I run plays in the wrong direction, I duck if the ball comes near me, and I have no grasp on any of the lingo. But it was fun nonetheless. We have our first football game for the Corporate Challenge on Saturday evening. I just hope it’s not 90 degrees out!

Before practice I basically spent the entire day surfing nursing message boards about how it’s impossible to find a job, feeling sorry for myself, eating Cocoa Haze and watching Maury. The epitome of productivity, for sure. I know I don’t graduate until December, but from my understanding, I need to start applying at the beginning of my last semester, which starts next week. I’m trying not to freak out, but that’s not really in my nature. Giving my minor freakout fest today I convinced Brent to take me to 800 Degrees for pizza and beer. They had run out of the first two beers I wanted, so I finally settled on a Bell’s Oberon and Brent and I split the Rocket pizza, with fontina, prosciutto, arugula and sliced garlic. Heaven.

I love this place. Unfortunately Brent and I got into an argument (I really don’t know about what) because I’m still in a crabby mood. I hate when I get like this. Sigh. I’m hoping I’ll wake up a the right side of the bed tomorrow. I think reading Heather’s tips to avoid a downward spiral to the dark side tonight helped. I love the blog community even more at times like this. 🙂

“Damn rapini, you bitter as hell”

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The above quote was said by me while eating lunch today. But before I get to that, thank you for the birthday wishes. I had a wonderful day ending in a sushi dinner that involved me stuffing my face with tuna sashimi and avocado rolls. Couldn’t ask for better, right?

Today, I woke up at the super early hour of 8:30am and started doing some laundry. I waited a bit for Brent to get out of bed. He has a super annoying habit of reading his iPhone in bed for at least half an hour before he actually gets out of bed. I don’t know why this annoys me so much, but it totes does. Once it became apparent he would not be joining me downstairs anytime soon, I made breakfast for myself: a faux “English muffin” made on the cast-iron griddle using half whole-wheat artisan bread dough, sandwiched with a fried egg and smoked provolone, along with a bowl of fruit salad using what was left in the fridge.

Brent and I planned to attend Buskerfest in downtown Fort Wayne this afternoon, and to combine it with a workout, we decided to walk there – downtown is about 5 miles from our house. I’m leaving for Chicago for a week starting tomorrow, so I figured I should try to eat the rest of the produce left in the fridge before I left. For “lunch” Brent sauteed some rapini (broccoli rabe) with olive oil and garlic, and I topped that with roasted beets and goat cheese. Ummm, beets and goat cheese are obviously amazeballs, but this rapini? Not so much. Like the title of the post says “bitter as hell.” Sometimes I talk smack to my food – I’m gangsta like that. I ate most of it, but I don’t think it’ll be making a repeat appearance. Lunch also included an iced coffee. Caffeine was necessary before our long walk.

Then we embarked on our trek downtown. The weather was so much more tolerable than it’s been lately! It was about 80 degrees and super sunny, but we took water with us. Here are some of the shots from our trip. (Everything here on out is courtesy of the iPhone camera.)

Blogworld, meet downtown Fort Wayne:

Look, tall buildings! Shocking, right? That might be a bit uncalled for, but sometimes Fort Wayne really brings out the saracasm in me. We arrived at Buskerfest and watched a few of the performers.

That lunchtime salad did not really hold me over and after 5 miles, I was feeling a bit hungry, so we headed to one of our favorite places in the Fort, J.K. O’Donnell’s. We each got a half-pint of one of the rotating taps, Goose Island “Sofie” – a Belgian Style Saison. I was in love with this beer, and I love that they offer half-pints. Although, after the sandwich, we each ordered another half-pint, but it made me feel like I was drinking less.

We also split the Smoked Salmon Club, served with “chips.” The sandwich is slices of smoked salmon, arugula, bacon and tomato chutney on pumpernickel bread. Unfortunately, they were out of arugula and gave us spinach instead. Totes fine, but the arugula was missed. It adds more flava. This sandwich is always a winner though. I love that tomato chutney.

After another street performance, we made the hike back to the house. It seemed wayyyy hotter on the way back. I spent the last few miles really looking forward to the A/C and the couch! After a bit of relaxation, I started making dinner. Hmmm, when you write a post about all your meals, it really seems like you do nothing but think about food, huh? Anyway, dinner was more of that half whole wheat artisan dough, flattened into pizza dough and topped with some leftover sun-dried tomato pesto.

Then I topped it with three (yes -3!!) cheeses: mozzarella, goat cheese, and Parmesan. I’m a daredevil, I know.

After 12 long minutes in the oven, I was able to enjoy this:

It was insanely delicious. I’m on the couch with a beer and Revolutionary Road playing now, and I think I’m going to bed early, but I wanted to leave you with a funny photo of Larry running like crazy through my in-laws garden (they have a huge 7 acre property).

His flapping, flying ears crack me up!


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Today’s been kind of a let down, which Brent would tell you is ridiculous because nothing horrible happened and my life is totally great. All of that is true, but sometimes you just can’t help but feel blah and mopey. The day had a less than spectacular start. I had class at 8am and needed to be out of the house by 7:15.  Apparently I turned my alarm off in my sleep and I woke up at 6:50 when Brent got in the shower. Crap!

After a mad dash to shower, dress, and blend a smoothie, we got out the door in time. Obviously there was no picture of breakfast. It was a yogurt, banana, strawberry and flax seed smoothie. I drank it while learning about the anatomic and physiological changes that occur during pregnancy — best birth control ever. I called my mom to tell her I couldn’t believe she went through that 4 times!

After class I rushed to fill out my march madness bracket 30 minutes before the first game because I forgot to do it last night. I also had a disappointing phone call with a doctor’s office. I’m in the process of searching for a new one and after researching, I found a physician in Fort Wayne who has an integrative philosophy closer to my own. Unfortunately he’s one of a kind in the Fort and has no openings for new patients until December. I was crushed. Devastated. I get devastated pretty easily though so Brent didn’t seem too concerned. To console myself I made a hummus, veggie & tuna wrap. On a whole wheat tortilla, I spread half of a single serve of hummus. Next I layered some organic spring mix, radishes, cucumber, and 1/4 of an avocado. I mixed the remaining half of the hummus with a serving of tuna and spread that on the top.

Then I just rolled it all up. I used a small glob of hummus as glue to hold the tortilla together. I kind of thought that was genius on my part. Cut in half and serve.

After taking Lucy for a 30 minute walk, I picked Brent up from work a little earlier than usual. While watching some basketball, we split a small bag of potato chips – like half a serving each – and I had a cup of Jones Orange & Cream soda. Brent and I were talking earlier today about getting some chips and dip to have while watching basketball. A month ago this would not even have been an issue for me. I would have been all over it. I freaking love some chips and dip when the occasion calls for it. Now that I have this cholesterol diagnosis and I’m trying to make myself believe I can help it with diet and exercise, I felt so torn. I seriously had long drawn out conversations about it in my head. I Hate thinking like that. I never wanted to be “that healthy chick who doesn’t eat chips or ice cream or pizza or whatever.” Not that there’s anything wrong with not eating those things… but I like all of those things! I don’t want to have to be so stressed about eating a snack. I’m sure I’ll progress and move past that way of thinking, but it just generally made me feel crappy for the rest of the evening.

Moving on, I did have pizza again for dinner. I know. Totes lame. This is why I’m not a good “this is everything I eat every day” blogger. I don’t try to be creative. If I find something delicious, I will generally eat it frequently until either Brent or I is sick of it. So more grilled pizza it was. This time, I made my pizza with a base layer of ricotta mixed with a small spoonful of pesto. I layered sautéed kale on top and sprinkling a small amount of mozzarella to hold the kale down. We also grilled another bunch of asparagus — because it’s life-changingly delicious.

This pizza was delish, but not as ridiculously outstanding as yesterday and here’s why: the coals were defs not as hot today. Those things need to be super hot. Like burn your hand off if you hold it above them hot. Today was more like a mild heat. I have no idea why. But it’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning on throwing the dough on a grill anytime soon.

Speaking of grilling pizza, today I was so proud of last night’s dinner I was detailing it to some of my classmates. They were generally confused, (as they usually are when I discuss my food), and my teacher even said, “I have never ever heard of grilling pizza.” I just shrugged and said “well Bobby Flay does it all the time.” They looked at me like I had 3 heads. I get really amused by people’s wide-eyed expressions sometimes.

A Day of Green Meals & Grilled Pizza

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Tonight’s dinner was amazing!! That’s really the major point in this post, so feel free to skip down to that if you’d like.

I was feeling festive when I woke up this morning. My family is Irish, (and they’ll take any excuse to party) but I kept things pretty tame by making a bowl of banana flaxseed oatmeal and simply dying it green. Brent was already at work by this point or I guarantee you he would have been rolling his eyes at this. I used half milk half water for the liquid, and while the oatmeal was cooking I added half a banana and a tablespoon of ground flaxseed. I topped the bowl with some diced strawberries.

I continued my green theme with a big salad for lunch: organic spring mix, carrot, radish, half an avocado, cucumber, and some wild salmon. Drizzled with olive oil and vinegar.

Awhile after lunch I went upstairs to my “home gym” (which is really just a spare bedroom with some free weights in it) and hit the weights. As my cool down I took both of the dogs (at the same time!) on a 30 minute walk. By then I was ready for a snack — Oikos with the other half of the banana and 1/4 cup of my almond granola.

When Brent got home from work we went for another walk — a must due to the gorgeous weather. We were discussing dinner and I told him I was planning a pesto shrimp pasta. He asked if we could grill the shrimp and asparagus that were going into it and I said sure. But then I got to thinking and I said we should try making a pizza instead.

When we got home I made the master recipe for the artisan bread dough but subbed half whole wheat flour because I ran out of AP. Brent worked out and then got the coals ready. I coated some shrimp and asparagus in basil-infused olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Brent grilled both of those — Grilled asparagus is probably my absolute favorite way to eat a vegetable. Love it. While those cooked, I rolled out the dough. I used these instructions for grilling the dough. Once we flipped the dough, Brent started loading the ingredients on his.

Here’s my pizza, just about done:

The pizzas had a sauce of jarred pesto and were topped with the grilled shrimp and asparagus and a sprinkling of mozzarella. The cheese doesn’t brown like an oven-made pizza, but the crust was amazing!

I cut my pizza into 6ths and had 5 of the pieces. Along side we had the rest of the grilled asparagus and a Sam Adams. Like I said, I’m Irish and it’s St. Patrick’s Day!

This was by far the best dinner we’ve had in recent memory. Brent and I repeated that pretty much the entire time we were eating.  It was a lot of fun to try something new! I actually want to make another one tomorrow. 🙂

In case you were suffering from Larry and Lucy withdrawal, here they are hanging out on the front porch while we were grilling: (Yes, Lucy is laying on a bed sheet. She likes things to lay on — like I said, she’s old and arthritic)

I Just Love Pizza

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When we were in Seattle, we ate some really crappy pizza. It was unfortunate really. The restaurant – Serious Pie – had rave reviews from basically everyone on the planet, so Brent and I were pretty excited to try it. Total disappointment. We had the clam & pancetta pizza, and believe or not, it was indescribably bland. No flavor. Definitely heat from some red pepper flake, but only heat. Blah. What was most unfortunate about our experience is that when we told people we did not enjoy our pizza, they seriously asked, “Oh was it too gourmet for you?” Because, obviously, as hicks from Indiana we wouldn’t know great pizza if it bit us in the ass. Ugh. So offensive.

Anyway, as I was recently reminded, it doesn’t matter if we may not able to get good pizza in Seattle. I can just make my own, which I love way more. It never disappoints me. 🙂 Last night Brent and I made some personal pizzas using the olive oil dough from Artisan Bread. My pizza was tomato & herb sauce, spinach, mozzarella and Parmesan.
Brent’s pizzas are always so boring. This time, rather than just plain mozzarella, he also included anchovies. He loves those salty little fish. Back to my pizza – look at how good this looks!

This olive oil dough made a great crust. I think I like it more than the master recipe dough for pizza. Looking at these pictures is actually making me wish I was eating this pizza again. Sometime you just really need a flatbread covered in cheese, you know?

I’m trying to get at least one serving of cooked leafy greens a day. Brent was alarmed at the amount of spinach I bought at the store, so expect to see quite a bit of it on the blog. I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of the Artisan Bread Olive Oil Dough. 🙂