Monday, January 31, 2011

Best Pizza To Date

This weekend I made the best homemade pizza (to date)...and by that I mean its the best pizza I've made thus far, although if asked nicely, I wouldn't hesitate to date this pizza. It was that good.

It seemed like it'd been forever since I made pizza at home - sure, I've been eating lots of pizza, but making it is half the fun. I didn't want to make just any old pizza...I wanted to try something new. So I came up with this concoction, and let me tell you, it was amazing!

I used pizza dough from Trader Joe's and layered the following:
  • slathered dough with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce (original)
  • thin layer of light mozzarella cheese
  • pieces of grilled chicken (that had been cooked in BBQ sauce)
  • caramelized onions
  • chunks of fresh pineapple
  • layer of extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • fire roasted diced tomatoes

Being the control freak that I am (and in all fairness, when it comes to food, so is Pat) we each decorated our own half of the pizza to our exact specifications. Pat also added some bacon to his half. We cooked this on the new pizza stone Santa brought for Christmas (love this!) for about 17 minutes at 400 degrees.

Before cooking:

And after, Pat carefully taking this baby out of the oven:

I think there should be a Pizza Genius award, and I'd be the winner this week. All of these flavors were perfect together! The BBQ sauce was great with the extra sharp cheddar cheese, caramelized onions are always a great addition to any meal, and pineapple on pizza used to be my favorite as a kid, and was so great on this! The fire roasted diced tomatoes added a little spiciness, which I love. 

The pizza stone worked well - we were able to get a nice crispy crust and bottom of the pizza while cooking the toppings perfectly (otherwise I think the bottom would have been soggy from all of the toppings we added). With pizza stones you use corn meal instead of flour on the surfaces, which I think also contributed to the great texture.

On Saturday night we had plans to have dinner at my mom's house, and I'd offered to bring an appetizer. At about 3pm I realized that I hadn't planned anything to make and didn't have enough time to go to the store and cook something before leaving. So instead I turned to a well-known cooking genius, Miss Ina Garten herself! My mom gave me her Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook a few years ago for Christmas. After flipping through a few pages, I found a recipe that I had all of the ingredients for - the Cape Cod Chopped Salad.

I toasted some walnuts...

Zested and squeezed an orange...

Made some dressing...

And threw together the rest of the ingredients to make this salad:

Salad with dressing and extra add-ins:

Salad Recipe (original recipe by Ina Garten)
I made a few changes based on my own personal preferences...

  • 5 pieces center cut bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 12 ounces organic mixed greens
  • 1 large Gala apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 6 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, in small cubes
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
To toast the walnut halves - cook in a dry skillet on medium-low for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until slightly browned. 

I put all toppings for the salad in separate bags and assembled when I got to my mom's house.

For the dressing I simply put all ingredients together in a measuring cup, then transferred to a clean bottle for transport. When ready to serve the salad, I shook dressing until well combined.

*Note - this recipe makes a very generous serving size of the dressing. Between five of us we probably used less than half of the bottle.

This salad was very good - it combined many things that I love. The dressing was light and citrusy- would be perfect for a summer picnic (or when you want to be in denial about the 3 feet of snow outside).

Jim grilled dinner outside, despite the snow. I was hoping to catch some pictures of him in action (the snow was as high as the opening to the grill) but we got there too late. He made steak tips and tons of delicious roasted vegetables.

My delicious dinner:

My mom made apple crisp and pumpkin pie for dessert. I just realized that I don't have a picture of these, but I had some of both, and they were fantastic. The apple crisp had a great topping that was the perfect crispness (many I've had have been soggy, but this was anything but). 
Sunday morning was my long run of the weekend - I planned to run twelve miles. The funny thing about running is that no matter how much or how often you run, you're always going to have your off days. Sometimes a two mile run seems like torture and the next day you can run ten miles easily. Well, yesterday I wasn't really feeling the run. I'd say that part of it was due to the fact that I was on the treadmill for yet another long run, which isn't very exciting - and its a lot easier to quit running on a treadmill in the gym with your car parked outside than it is when you're out on the road and have no other choice but to keep running. After mile four I was dying - I just didn't have my head in the right place. I wanted to quit, but knew that I'd be so mad at myself if I did. I remembered an article my mom printed for me from The New York Times over a year ago, and a training article I read in Runner's World Magazine several months ago - there was an idea about walking 1 minute for every mile you run. I never tried this method - to be honest, I felt like it was cheating in some way. But when I couldn't muster up the miles yesterday, I tried it out. And guess what? It worked. After running the first four miles, I started running a mile and then walking a minute, and kept repeating. With this method I was able to run ten miles - it wasn't the twelve I'd planned on, but it was much better than the four I almost quit after. I'm really happy I tried this and was able to get out another six miles- I know I would have been really beating myself up over it if I'd quit at four. It also made my chocolate milk, apple, and leftover pizza that much more satisfying when I finished!

1 comment:

  1. oh my gosh! that pizza looks so good. and the salad looks delicious too! :)