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Sharing food with others is one of life's greatest pleasures. Add in family and friends and you've got the perfect recipe for happiness! This blog helps me document all the good times.

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Homemade Jalapeño Jack Pizza

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me she was learning to speak Italian.  Fast forward to the present, and I asked her how her lessons were going, and to my surprise, she is still keeping with her lessons.  Inspired by her dedication I decided to tackle and Italian dish that I’ve put off for way to long.  It’s pizza time!  For one reason or another, I never attempted to make pizza dough.  Maybe in my mind, it was always easier to bake a frozen one or have one delivered.  Well, that ends now.  I’m going to learn to make pizza this weekend, and you’re all coming along with me.  Let’s go!

Let’s gather up all the ingredients.

  • 3 cups of bread flour (reserve 1/2 cup in separate bowl)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. of olive oil
  • 1 cup of warm water (100-110ºF)
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. of sugar

Directions:

Begin by preheating your oven to 475-500ºF.

First, you need to proof the yeast by combine the yeast, sugar and warm water.  Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes depending on how active the yeast is.  You’ll begin to see yeast foaming and emitting an odor similar to opening a can of carbonated bread.

While the yeast is proofing, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the 2 1/2 Cups of flour, salt and olive oil. Then combine the yeast with the flour mixture with a spatula until a rough ball forms.

Then use the remaining 1/2 Cup of flour and dust your work surface and dump the dough right on top.  Begin to knead the dough until it becomes smooth.  Then form it into a tight ball.

Place the ball into a different bowl that been lubed with olive oil.  Brush the top of the dough ball with olive oil and cover it with a kitchen towel.  Place the bowl in a warm spot for the dough to rise.  Wait an hour to an hour and a half for the dough to double in size.

After the time is up, punch the dough down like you’re angry at it, and dump it back out onto your floured work surface.  Knead it a little more then divide into four pieces.  Knead each piece a few minutes more then form each piece into a round ball.  If you want to create larger pizzas, you can just cut the down in half instead of quarters.  You can store the unused dough in a zip-top bag in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month.  If you are going to go the freezer route, just place a few drops of olive oil into the bag to keep the dough from sticking to the bag while in the freezer.

Then roll the dough out into a flat disc using your finger tips and the palm of your hand.  You may have to work with the dough for several minutes before it retains it shape.  Since the dough is so elastic, it wants to return back to it’s original ball form.

Once you have the dough flattened to the size of your liking, brush the top with olive oil and begin piling on the sauce and topping of your choice.

Since this was and impromptu attempt at making pizza, I just used what I had in my fridge.  Bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, bacon, and jalapeño jack cheese were my options.  So I said, “Screw it, it’s all going on the pizza!”  Luckily, I had a jar tomato basil sauce in the cupboard.  Feel free to use any ingredients that suit your fancy.

Throw your pizza in the oven for 10-15 minutes, just enough time for the crust to crisp and the cheese to bubble.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before you enjoy.  That is, unless you like having the roof of your mouth feel like the pits of hell, be my guest and enjoy immediately.

Posted on Saturday, April 7th 2012

I was in the mood for Vietnamese food, but I didn’t want to bust out the pots and pans.  Luckily, the local Asian market carries several options for me to get a quick fix.  Today I decided to go with bánh cuốn.  Bánh cuốn translated means rolled cake.  It is thin sheets of noodle that are folded into rolls.  Typically, the noodle rolls are stuffed with ground pork and mushrooms, but he ones I picked up are filled with dried shrimp and green onions.  
The only thing left is to pick up some herbs, bean sprouts, cucumbers and vietnamese ham loaf (or cha lua).  The typical cha lua is made by pounding pork meat into a fine paste then flavoring with fish sauce and pepper.  Banana leaves are used to wrap the pork to form a loaf-shape while imparting a bit of sweetness.  It probably doesn’t sound to appetizing to most, but trust me, it’s good.
Now it’s time to head home and plate.  Cut the noodles and the meat into bite size pieces then warm them in the microwave for about a minute.  Then top the noodles and meat with the cucumbers, herbs and bean sprouts.  Last but not least, generously sprinkle the sauce of your choice over your entire plate and enjoy.  The sauce of choice is prepared fish sauce, or nuoc mam.  But you could also use soy sauce.  And of course, sriracha is always welcome.

I was in the mood for Vietnamese food, but I didn’t want to bust out the pots and pans.  Luckily, the local Asian market carries several options for me to get a quick fix.  Today I decided to go with bánh cuốn.  Bánh cuốn translated means rolled cake.  It is thin sheets of noodle that are folded into rolls.  Typically, the noodle rolls are stuffed with ground pork and mushrooms, but he ones I picked up are filled with dried shrimp and green onions.  

The only thing left is to pick up some herbs, bean sprouts, cucumbers and vietnamese ham loaf (or cha lua).  The typical cha lua is made by pounding pork meat into a fine paste then flavoring with fish sauce and pepper.  Banana leaves are used to wrap the pork to form a loaf-shape while imparting a bit of sweetness.  It probably doesn’t sound to appetizing to most, but trust me, it’s good.

Now it’s time to head home and plate.  Cut the noodles and the meat into bite size pieces then warm them in the microwave for about a minute.  Then top the noodles and meat with the cucumbers, herbs and bean sprouts.  Last but not least, generously sprinkle the sauce of your choice over your entire plate and enjoy.  The sauce of choice is prepared fish sauce, or nuoc mam.  But you could also use soy sauce.  And of course, sriracha is always welcome.

Posted on Tuesday, March 13th 2012

When I mention avocado smoothie, people usually give me a look of disgust as the thought of sipping guacamole through a straw enters their mind.  Well, that thought can’t be further from the truth.  A properly prepared avocado smoothie is creamy, sweet and a perfect way to cool down on a hot, summer day.  
Oddly enough, not many restaurants and tea shops offer avocado smoothies.  It’s probably because the price of avocados is a bit steep and the demand to blend them is quite low.
Luckily, it’s easy to make at home.  All you need are the following ingredients:
1 Ripe Avocado
2 Tablespoons of Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Cup of Ice
1/2 Cup of Milk or Water
1 Generous Pinch of Sugar (optional)
First, cut the avocado in half and remove the seed.  Then scoop the flesh into the blender.  Then add the condensed milk, sugar, regular milk, and ice.  Blend the ingredients until smooth.  Pour into a glass and enjoy.
This drink can be made several ways, but this is the way I enjoyed this drink as a child, and so this is how I make it today.
You could replace the condensed milk with honey or agave.  You could replace the milk with yogurt.  And if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, I’ve seen recipes call for apples, basil, lime and even chocolate (not all at the same time, of course).  If you want a little chew with your smoothie, you could add some boba pearls, but make sure you So go out and experiment with different flavors until you find your favorite.  Let me know which one you enjoy.  As for me, I’m sticking with the classic.

When I mention avocado smoothie, people usually give me a look of disgust as the thought of sipping guacamole through a straw enters their mind.  Well, that thought can’t be further from the truth.  A properly prepared avocado smoothie is creamy, sweet and a perfect way to cool down on a hot, summer day.  

Oddly enough, not many restaurants and tea shops offer avocado smoothies.  It’s probably because the price of avocados is a bit steep and the demand to blend them is quite low.

Luckily, it’s easy to make at home.  All you need are the following ingredients:

  • 1 Ripe Avocado
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 Cup of Ice
  • 1/2 Cup of Milk or Water
  • 1 Generous Pinch of Sugar (optional)

First, cut the avocado in half and remove the seed.  Then scoop the flesh into the blender.  Then add the condensed milk, sugar, regular milk, and ice.  Blend the ingredients until smooth.  Pour into a glass and enjoy.

This drink can be made several ways, but this is the way I enjoyed this drink as a child, and so this is how I make it today.

You could replace the condensed milk with honey or agave.  You could replace the milk with yogurt.  And if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, I’ve seen recipes call for apples, basil, lime and even chocolate (not all at the same time, of course).  If you want a little chew with your smoothie, you could add some boba pearls, but make sure you So go out and experiment with different flavors until you find your favorite.  Let me know which one you enjoy.  As for me, I’m sticking with the classic.

Posted on Monday, March 12th 2012