“Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might be found more suitable mates. But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to.”—J. R. R. Tolkien, Letter to Michael Tolkien, March 1941 (via indignantinfatuation)
Tim: So are you really going back to school?
Me: Yea. Eventually.
Tim: That’s good.
Me: Why? I don’t have enough degrees already?
Tim: Well, you’re kind of like the dog. If you don’t get enough intellectual stimulation, you start causing trouble.
This is a recipe I kind of made up, with the help of The Pasta Book from Williams-Sonoma, by Julia Della Croce. I took the basic recipe for egg pasta dough, and added dried herbs. I then rolled it out with our pasta machine and cut it into fettuccine (also with the machine). I then cooked it (Only for like 2-3 minutes! Fresh pasta takes a shorter time to cook, and you do NOT want to over cook it!), tossed it with olive oil, garlic, chopped fresh basil, and chunks of tomatoes. It was DELICIOUS!
Here is just the recipe for the pasta dough. If you have a pasta machine, you don’t need me to tell you how to roll it out. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can roll it out with a rolling pin and cut it into whatever shape you like by hand. It’s actually not THAT hard. :)
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I just use regular, bleached, all-purpose flour. Works just fine) 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 4 large eggs, at room temperature (I don’t get the eggs to room temperature, but you need to be sure to use LARGE eggs, not jumbo or small. Pasta dough is really temperamental, and if you get too much moisture from the eggs, the dough will be sticky and unusable. 2 teaspoons olive oil 1 tablespoon dried parsley 1 tablespoon dried rosemary 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
You can use whatever combination of dried spices/herbs suits your fancy, but make sure it follows the ratio of 1 tablespoon dried herb/spice per cup of flour. As far as using fresh herbs/spices, you’ll have to google that or test it yourself.
1. Put the flour and salt and herbs into a bowl, mix them together with your hands. Make a well in the flour for the eggs.
2. Crack the eggs into the well of the flour. Pour the olive oil over the eggs. Be careful not to break the walls of the well. (If you do, it’s really not a big deal. It happens to me almost every time. This picture is actually a fluke.)
3. Whisk the eggs and oil together with a fork within the well. Don’t incorporate the flour yet.
4. Take that fork and start incorporating the flour in a circular motion. Always move the fork in the same direction you started with.
5. Keep mixing with the fork until you can’t anymore. It will be crumbly, but don’t worry. You’ll knead all that in. When you feel like you can squeeze most of it into a ball, flour a work surface and dump the contents of the bowl out onto that floured surface.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This stuff is STICKY. Take off any rings before you touch this, because otherwise you will NEVER GET IT OUT OF YOUR RINGS. For real. Or wear gloves. I’m not kidding.
6. Start kneading with your hands. Push down and away with your palm, fold it back and push it again. Keep doing this for about 10 minutes. You’ll feel it change and get smooth and elastic when it’s done. This is not quite done:
This is totally done:
See how smooth that looks? Form it into a ball, and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it sit for AT LEAST 15 minutes before you roll it out to let the gluten relax. At this point, you can roll it out or refrigerate it for up to 3 days, or you can freeze it for 6-8 weeks. Just be sure you thaw it to room temperature before you try to roll it out.
Dirty Girl Scout Cookies Recipe (Chocolate Cookies with Boozy Mint Glaze)
This recipe is from The Boozy Baker by Lucy Baker. It is the best baking cookbook I have ever seen, as every recipe incorporates booze in some way. And lots of the recipes have drink recipes to go with them. Perfect for your next party! Definitely check this book out. Though for these cookies, the booze doesn’t actually cook out of them since it’s all in the glaze, so you might want to alert people to that fact, especially parents of children. There isn’t enough to get you drunk or anything, but better safe than sorry!
Writing in italics came directly from the cookbook.
For the cookies:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 1 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 2 large eggs 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (I couldn’t find this, so I use 2 1/2 teaspoons instant decaf coffee) 2 cups all-purpose flour 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt
For the glaze:
1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar 2 tablespoons Iris cream liqueur (I use Baileys) 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur (I use Kahlua) 1 tablespoon creme de menthe (I use Peppermint Schnapps)
32 Junior Mint candies (I didn’t have these, and Tim and my mom - the recipients of these cookies - don’t like mint/chocolate, so I just used chocolate chips.)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. (I actually just sprayed them with canola oil.)
2. To make the cookies, beat the butter, sugar, and light brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat to combine. (Be sure that butter is softened, but not melted. Trying to do this yesterday before the butter had time to soften was awful and really, really difficult.)
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.
4. Drop the dough into rounded balls (about 3 tablespoons each) onto the cookie sheets. Make sure they’re spaced apart because they will flatten. The dough should make about 32 cookies.
5. Bake the cookies until they’ve flattened, about 15 minutes. Cool completely before glazing.
6. Make the glaze after the cookies have cooled and right before you want to glaze them. If you leave it sit too long, it will harden. Combine all the glaze ingredients - powdered sugar and booze - in a bowl and whisk until smooth. I find the glaze is usually pretty chunky, so I end up adding more booze. This makes the glaze thinner, though, so be careful not to add too much liquid.
7. Drizzle the glaze over the cookies with a spoon.
8. Press a Junior Mint into the center of each cookie.
9. Enjoy! These are absolutely delicious. So is everything else in that book, so go get it right now!
I originally found this recipe from the book Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas by Craig W. Priebe with Dianne Jacob. Most of the recipes come directly from there, but I did tweak it a little bit. There are all sorts of pizza recipes in the book if you feel like trying something new from a recipe. They are totally awesome, and the book is absolutely worth getting if you are a pizza connoisseur. Writing in italics came directly from the book.
This is a very involved recipe because I made the dough, herbed olive oil, and sauce all from scratch. But let’s start with the dough, because you can make the crust and put whatever you want on it.
Pizza Dough Makes 2 12-inch crusts
3/4 cup warm water 1 packet active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tablespoons) 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 1 teaspoon kosher salt (I use normal table salt, works just fine.) 2 tablespoons cornmeal, plus additional for the pan 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 teaspoon for the bowl
Pour the water into a small bowl. Be sure it’s not too hot or the yeast will die. If it’s too cold, the yeast won’t activate. Pour in the yeast and the sugar and stir it together. Leave it sit for 5 minutes. If a film develops on the top of the liquid, it’s good to go. If not, start over. If you don’t start over, your crust will be hard as rock.
Then, combine the flours, salt, and cornmeal into a large bowl. Add the yeast and water mixture and olive oil. Mix well with a very tough spoon. It will look something like this:
When you get to the point where you can make a ball out of the dough, flour a clean counter and dump the dough out. Start kneading the dough with the palm of your hand. Continue to roll and press the dough for about 8 minutes until the dough is smooth. (You will feel the dough change. It will soften and become more elastic.) Add only enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the counter. It will look like this when done:
Coat it with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil (which prevents a crust from forming on it as it rises), wrap it in plastic wrap, and set it in a warm (room temperature), draft-free place for 2 hours. It will double in size. At this point, you can refrigerate it for an hour or so to make it easier to roll out, or you can just roll it. I was really hungry, so I bypassed the refrigeration.
Punch the dough to get rid of some of the gas. Cut the dough in half. Roll out the first half of the dough with a rolling pin on a floured counter top. It should get to about 12-inches in diameter. It won’t be a perfect circle, don’t even try. That’s part of the appeal of grilled pizza; it looks rustic and delicious.
Put your crust on a cookie sheet. You’re ready to grill!
Grilling the Crust
Start your grill just before you roll out the dough. You don’t want to leave the dough out for too long or it will get sticky. You want your grill to heat up to medium-high. Not super high or you will burn the crust.
Take the cookie sheet with your crust on it and a pair of long tongs. Get as close to the grill as you dare (careful, it’s hot!) and slide the crust onto the grill.
The dough should take about 3 minutes to cook. Watch for bubbles. Bubbles means it’s about done.
Take it off of the grill with the tongs, and place it back on the cookie sheet with the grilled side up. That grilled side becomes the top of your pizza.
See? Pretty. :)
Topping and Grilling the Pizza
This is the fun part, because you can top it with whatever you want. But there is something you want to do no matter what you top the pizza with to make the crust taste seasoned and delicious.
First, brush the top of the crust with herbed olive oil (recipe below).
Then, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top of the oil.
After that, you can top the pizza with whatever you choose! I did chunky tomato basil sauce (recipe below), shredded and chunked mozzarella. YUM!
To grill the pizza, put the cookie sheet with your topped pizza as close to the grill as possible, and slide the pizza onto the grill with tongs. Cook it for a few minutes, until the cheese is gooey and melted.
Cut it into pieces, and enjoy!
YUM! Literally the best pizza I’ve ever had.
Herbed Olive Oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 small clove garlic, minced 1/2 teaspoon each of dried oregano, dried thyme, and dried basil
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well. Can be kept indefinitely.
Chunky Tomato Basil Sauce
2 small cloves garlic 8 large fresh basil leaves 1 1/2 pounds (about 3 medium) ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered 2 tablespoons tomato paste (or more) 1 teaspoon kosher salt 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Chop tomatoes finely (but leave them a bit chunky; it’s supposed to be a chunky sauce). Chop basil leaves and garlic finely. (Or chop all three ingredients in a food processor). Put these ingredients in a bowl, stir in the rest of the ingredients until mixed well. If the sauce looks watery, add more tomato paste until you see no more juice.
Let her be bored. Let her have long afternoons with absolutely nothing to do. Limit her TV-watching time and her internet-playing time and take away her cell phone. Give her a whole summer of lazy mornings and dreamy afternoons. Make sure she has a library card and a comfy corner where she can curl up with a book.
Give her a notebook and five bucks so she can pick out a great pen. Insist she spend time with the family. It’s even better if this time is spent in another state, a cabin in the woods, a cottage on the lake, far from her friends and people her own age. Give her some tedious chores to do. Make her mow the lawn, do the dishes by hand, paint the garage. Make her go on long walks with you and tell her you just want to listen to the sounds of the neighborhood.
Let her be lonely. Let her believe that no one in the world truly understands her. Give her the freedom to fall in love with the wrong person, to lose her heart, to have it smashed and abused and broken. Occasionally be too busy to listen, be distracted by other things, have your nose in a great book, be gone with your own friends. Let her have secrets
My favorite sort of Facebook status update is the sort that is obtuse and unknowable…a good Facebook status reminds your network, and yourself, that you are sitting alone somewhere, full of yearning, that you have a desire that needs meeting or a wave of nostalgia that needs revealing or an…
This is a really great, relatively easy recipe (especially if you have a food processor that can slice potatoes!) that can be served as a side for 6-8 people, or a hefty and starch-filled meal for 4. It’s also really easy to make half of it or adjust the proportions, so if you’re cooking for one, just cut it down by 1/4. And I made it vegetarian!
I got this recipe from Taste of Home’s Backyard Grilling cookbook, and adapted it to meet my (vegetarian and space) needs.
6 large potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick (food processor=super fast slicing)
2 medium onions, chopped (I did not use this at all as Tim does not like onions. I sprinkled some onion powder and used 2 green onions instead)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (and more to pass at the table)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided (+more to pass)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, divided (+more to pass)
1 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled (I used four slices of soy bacon and did not add it in while grilling. I mixed it in afterwords so it would retain some of its salty flavor)
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 tablespoon minced fresh or dried chives (I didn’t use these, either, because of all the green onion)
1 to 2 teaspoons seasoned salt (I just used normal salt. Worked just fine.)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bag of steam-in-the-bag broccoli (optional - this was my addition because I wanted something green and we served it as a whole meal rather than a side dish)
I started by peeling the potatoes. You can scrub them if you like the skin on, but I don’t. It grosses me out. So I peeled them. Then I sliced them by hand because I had some extra time and didn’t want to get the food processor dirty because it sucks to clean. If you have the nifty slicer blade, though, that would make this process a whole lot faster.
Then, I divided the potato slices evenly into two very long sheets of non-stick foil. I didn’t spray them with canola oil, but you maybe should. It gets sticky.
After that, I combined the Parmesan cheese and 3/4 each of the cheddar and mozzarella and sprinkled it over the potatoes.
I then chopped up two green onions - whites and greens - and added that over the potatoes and cheese. After that, I sprinkled the salt and pepper over everything.
Finally, I cubed half a stick of butter and added it in. I use unsalted butter for everything so I can control the salty flavor, but you can use whatever you prefer.
If you prefer to use real pig meat, you can add that in at this point, too. If you use soy bacon, add it just before serving. Otherwise the salt cooks off of it and you’re just left with a chewy piece of soy, which is kind of gross.
At this point, seal up the foil and throw those puppies on the grill. 35-40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Don’t leave them open like that. I just opened them to check the softness of the potatoes and snapped this picture. Make sure the foil is sealed.
While the potatoes were grilling, I cooked and cut up the soy bacon. Cook it according to directions. It works much better to cut it than crumble it. If anyone has any tips for crumbling soy bacon, I’d love to hear them. Let it cool before you cut, though, because that stuff gets HOT.
About 5 minutes before the potatoes came off the grill, I cooked the steam-in-bag broccoli according to directions. If you had fresh broccoli, you could use that, too, by cooking it first and adding it later, or by cooking it right in the foil with the potatoes. We happened to have the steam-in-bag kind so I improvised.
When the potatoes are done, take them off the grill, put it all in a nice, big bowl, and add in the broccoli and soy bacon. Give it a good mix, and add the remaining cheeses on top. Isn’t it pretty?
Look at all those food groups there! Starch, dairy, vegetable, protein. Delicious, colorful, and healthy!
Like I said, this recipe is fairly easy to adjust to your tastes or needs. Vegan cheese would work well in this, too, and if you used olive oil instead of butter that would make it a totally vegan meal.
If you are a flexitarian household like ours, you can add cubed (and cooked) ham to one plate. Tim added chicken because we had it all ready to go last night. He said it was delicious!