21 July 2014

Grilled Potato Wedges


If you're like me, you've been totally obsessed with grilling this summer.  Last month we upgraded from a charcoal grill (which neither one of us was able to master) to a used, but new-to-us gas grill.  So much better!  Now we are grilling everything we can think of.

I love potatoes and had some a couple of weeks ago that I needed to use up.  I read online somewhere (can't remember now exactly where) that grilling potatoes works best if you pop them in the microwave first.  That ensures that the insides get cooked before the outside burns.  So with that idea in mind, I came up with this recipe for grilled potato wedges.  Super simple and super yummy.

Grilled Potato Wedges

Ingredients:
4-6 red potatoes
Olive oil
Seasoned salt

Directions:
Preheat grill to medium heat.

Cut potatoes into wedges.  Place them in a microwaveable dish (I used an 8” Pyrex) and microwave them on high for 6-8 minutes or until they are beginning to get tender.

Remove from microwave and brush all sides liberally with olive oil.  Generously sprinkle all sides with seasoned salt.

Place the wedges on the grill, cut side down.  Close grill and cook for about 5 minutes, or until nice grill marks form.  Turn each wedge over to the other cut side and turn grill down to low.  Cover and cook another 5 minutes or until you get good grill marks on that side.  At this point, check them to see if they are done in the middle.  If they are, remove from the grill (you can place back in the same dish you brought them out in).  If not, turn them over to their skin side and cook another 5 minutes or until they are fluffy inside.

Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

 I made these wedges again tonight.  So far they have turned out perfectly each time I have made them.  I think they are pretty hard to screw up!  They are the perfect combination of crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.  I think I could eat these everyday!


I did our whole meal on the grill tonight.  These potato wedges, some barbecued smoked sausage, and some zucchini seasoned with dill.  Such a perfect summer dinner.  The first time I made these wedges, I served them with Baked Cornmeal-Crusted Cod and fresh corn on the cob.  They would be awesome with hamburgers.

These wedges are absolutely perfect as they are, but they also make great dippers.  When I served them with the cod, I dipped a few in the tartar sauce that I made to go with it.  Yummy.  They are also good with ranch.  

The other great thing about them is that you can easily change up the flavor profile by using different seasonings.  Italian seasoning would be great, as would your favorite barbecue rub.  The possibilities are endless!

The next time you are grilling out and need an easy side dish, throw some potatoes on the grill!


17 July 2014

Improv: Butterscotch Popcorn and Peanuts



It's time for this month's Improv Challenge!


The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it. 

This month's ingredients were popcorn and peanuts.  Interesting!  Made me think of baseball of course, since I'm a big baseball fan.  I wasn't sure what there was to do with them though, until I started looking around on Pinterest for ideas.  I found Thai-style chicken that was breaded with popcorn and peanuts, fudge with popcorn and peanuts in it, and several different varieties of popcorn and peanut snacks.  While I am still very intrigued by that chicken, I went the snack route this time.  We are getting ready for a car trip and I thought I would make us a fun car snack.  I found a recipe for Butterscotch Popcorn Crunchies on Nestle's website, and since I love all things butterscotch, I had to try it.  It's basically like caramel corn, but with a butterscotch twist.

Butterscotch Popcorn and Peanuts

Ingredients:
12 cups popped popcorn
2 cups lightly salted peanuts
¼ cup butter
11 oz. pkg. butterscotch baking chips
¾ cup light corn syrup

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300° . Spray large roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place popcorn and peanuts in prepared roasting pan.  (Make sure there are no unpopped kernels in there.)  Lay a large piece of parchment paper out on the counter.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Add butterscotch chips and corn syrup and increase heat to medium-low.  Stir often until butterscotch chips are completely melted and mixture starts to bubble. Immediately pour over popcorn mixture in roasting pan; toss as well as you can to evenly coat.

Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, for 20 to 30 minutes. Carefully pour mixture onto parchment paper and spread evenly. As mixture cools, it will harden. Once completely cool, break into bite-size pieces. Store in airtight container. 

Makes about 14 cups.

So I have to admit that it took me two tries to get this stuff right.  It was my fault, though.  Instead of using a roasting pan, I used my two stoneware large bar pans (from Pampered Chef).  They are rimmed so I thought they would work just fine.  And they did, except that I put them both on the same rack, side-by-side.  I should have known not to do that, because every time I do, the outside edges are too close to the sides of the oven, and those sides burn.  I forgot.  I noticed it the second time I went to stir them, so I moved one pan to a different rack and centered them both.  That stopped the burning, but the damage had been done.  The butterscotch caramel coating got too dark.  In hindsight, I realize I should have taken it out sooner, because the original recipe called for cooking it a total of 40-45 minutes.  So I just followed the recipe.  But like I said, the butterscotch part got too dark.  The result was still edible, and my husband liked it just fine, but I was very disappointed. The butterscotch flavor got cooked out.  :(

I wasn't sure I would try again, because I was busy getting ready for our trip.  But I had more of all of the ingredients and I thought it would make an awesome car snack, so I squeezed in some time to make it again.  This time I started out with the pans on different racks so there was no burning.  And I played it safe, and only baked it for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes everything was evenly coated and the butterscotch stuff seemed to be the right consistency, so I took it out.  Perfect.

This is kind of a messy dish to make, but it's worth it.  When you first pour the butterscotch syrup on the popcorn and peanuts, you're going to think that something went wrong, because it's very difficult to stir.  You can't possibly get all the popcorn evenly coated.  Don't worry about it.  When you go back to stir it after the first 10 minutes, you will see that the sauce has melted and loosened up quite a bit so you are better able to stir it and get all the popcorn covered.

The first time I made this, I made it just as written, and when my 4-year-old, Eva, found out she couldn't have it (because she's allergic to peanuts), she was heartbroken.  So when I made it the second time, I did half of it with peanuts and half without.  Then I had a very happy girl on my hands!

Check out all the other popcorn and peanuts recipes below and come back next month to see what I make with bacon and beans.  Yum!



An InLinkz Link-up

11 July 2014

Sesame Ginger Grilled Tuna and a Giveaway!


Did you see that? Yes, I am doing a giveaway!  Healthy Solutions Spice Blends contacted me and asked if I would like to try out some of their tasty spice blends.  Of course!  They have a fantastic array of spice blends that make it easy to "create gourmet meals in minutes".  These little packets of awesomeness take the guesswork out of choosing how to season your meals.  Check out the different varieties:

Herb Crusted Tilapia
Shrimp Scampi
Cajun Seafood
Encrusted Haddock
Lemon Pepper
Sesame Ginger Tuna
Grilled Swordfish
Salmon with Dill
Bold Beef Rub
Authentic Chili/Tacos
Hearty Beef Stew
Italian Meatballs
Perfect Steak
Savory Meatloaf
Ultimate Burger
Pork & Poultry

They have a spice blend perfect for whatever kind of protein you are cooking up!  And the best thing about these spice blends?  Most of them contain no salt and no sugar.  They are a great choice for anybody trying to eat healthier without sacrificing flavor.  I decided to try out the Sesame Ginger Tuna variety.  I recently discovered very affordable tuna steaks at Sam's and have been stocking up!  They are really good and this spice blend was just perfect for them.  Here's how I made them.

Sesame Ginger Grilled Ahi Tuna Steaks

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs. Ahi tuna steaks, thawed if frozen
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp Healthy Solutions Sesame Ginger Tuna Spice Blend

Directions:
Place tuna steaks in a large resealable bag.  Whisk together soy sauce, honey, and spice blend in a small bowl.  Pour marinade into bag, seal, and place in fridge, turning occasionally, for 2 hours.

Preheat grill to medium heat.  Remove tuna from bag and place on the grill.  Pour some of the remaining marinade on top of the tuna steaks.  Discard bag.  Grill tuna for about 5 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned on the outside but still pink in the middle.  Remove from grill and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

My whole family loved this tuna.  The flavors were just perfect.  I served it with some peanut noodles and roasted broccoli and carrots.  It was an awesome meal.

Now, about the giveaway!  I have three more packets of these spice blends and I would love to share them with my lovely readers.  Unfortunately, I don't have another Sesame Ginger Tuna, but since we are in the middle of grilling season, I have three different blends that will take your grilled beef dishes to a whole new level.  Up for grabs are:

Perfect Steak: The perfect blend of rosemary, garlic & onion to beef up the flavor of your select cut.
Ultimate Burger: Not your average burger blend. This summer grilling favorite turns your boring hamburger patties into Ultimate Burgers bursting with a unique blend of beefy flavors.
Bold Beef Rub: A robust roundup of herbs and spices that even the finickiest cowhands at your table will enjoy. This rough riding dry rub enhances any cut of beef with rich juicy flavors of the West.

If you would like a chance to win one of these little packets of heaven, do the following three things:

1. Like Healthy Solutions Spice Blends on Facebook
2. Follow Healthy Solutions Spiced Blends on Twitter
3. Leave a comment here telling me which of the three blends above you would most like to try and why.  Also include your Facebook and Twitter names for verification of the first two requirements.

This giveaway will close on Sunday, July 20th at 11:59 pm.  I will pick three winners at random and will contact you to get your shipping address.  Please include your email address when commenting; you do not have to include it in your comment, just enter it into the form. That way I will have it but it will not be seen publicly.  If a winner does not give their email address, or he/she does not respond in a timely manner to my email asking for his/her address, another winner will be chosen.

I was given free samples of Healthy Solutions Spice Blends in exchange for an honest review of their product.  I was not compensated in any other way and the shipping costs for the giveaway are coming from my own pocket.  All opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.

Good luck!


06 July 2014

SRC: Fig, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese Pizza


It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club! The Secret Recipe Club is a group of food bloggers who secretly make one of someone else's dishes and post them all on the same day at the same time.  It's really fun, choosing a recipe to make, making the recipe, then reading about everyone else's recipes.  It's a great way to "meet" other bloggers and check out some great blogs that you never knew about before. 

Secret Recipe Club

This month I was assigned the blog The Tasty Gardener.  I couldn't find the author's name anywhere on her blog (maybe I missed it), but I know that she is a gardener who loves to cook!  I have to admit that looked for something specific when deciding on which recipe to make and I found it!  I have been on a homemade pizza kick lately.  I make a different homemade pizza every Friday night.  It's really fun!  In fact, my pick for last month's SRC post was homemade pizza too. :)  I like finding really fun, unique pizzas, so that was the first thing I looked for on The Tasty Gardener.  She had a recipe posted for Fig, Prosciutto, and Walnut Pizza.  Perfect!  I made it and loved it.  Here's my slight adaptation.

Fig, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese Pizza

Ingredients:
Pizza dough
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 cup dried figs, stemmed and chopped
½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
3 slices prosciutto
½ cup goat cheese crumbles
Honey

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425°.  

Spread pizza dough out on a pizza stone.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until dough begins to brown.  Remove from oven and brush with olive oil.  Sprinkle with garlic, figs, and walnuts.  Tear prosciutto into small pieces and lay them on top.  Sprinkle with goat cheese crumbles.  Bake an additional 10 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.  Remove from oven and drizzle entire pizza with honey.  Slice and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

This pizza is a salty-sweet combo lover's dream!  I just love the combination of the fruity figs, salty prosciutto, crunchy walnuts, creamy goat cheese, and sweet honey.  Amazing.

Like last month, I made this pizza twice already.  The first time I made it, I took lots of pics only to find out that I had a smudge on my camera lens and every single picture had a blurry smear on it.  But that was okay because I was happy to make it (and eat it!) again.  I made my girls regular tomato sauce/pepperoni pizzas because I wasn't sure they would like this one, but they begged me to try and they both loved it.  )They are 4 and 6.)  They were big fans of the figs and they can't resist anything with honey on it. :)

My only complaint about this pizza is that there isn't much to hold the toppings in place.  They liked to tumble off right before I took a bite.  But I'm not sure what would make a good "glue" for them.  Anyway, that was a minor complaint compared to how much we loved this pizza.

 I used goat cheese instead of mozzarella because for some reason, figs, honey, and goat cheese seemed like a great pairing to me.  Have you seen these goat cheese crumbles?  I had never seen them before, but I loved them.


I love goat cheese, but it can be a pain in the butt to "crumble" because it's so sticky.  I always end up with big clumps instead of petite crumbles.  Then I saw in the store and had to try it.  It's weird because when you look at it, it looks like feta, and you really expect it to taste like feta, even though it's not.  It's a surprise when you put a crumble in your mouth and it melts into smooth and creamy goat cheese.  Awesome.  And perfect for topping pizzas.  (You can see the blurry smear I was talking about in these two pics because they were taken the first time I made the pizza.)


Thanks for a great recipe!



   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

03 July 2014

Red, White, & Blue Pizzas


Happy 4th of July!  I know it's kind of last-minute, but I wanted to share the fun patriotic pizzas we had for dinner tonight.  I decided to try making red, white, and blue pizzas.  I think they turned out pretty well!  These aren't so much recipes as they are ideas.

My patriotic mise en place.



Red, White, and Blue Pizza #1

Ingredients:
Purple potatoes

Pizza dough
Jarred alfredo sauce
Pizza seasoning
Grape tomatoes, sliced
Mozzarella pearls
Shredded mozzarella

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425.  Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Boil until tender.  Drain.

Meanwhile, spread pizza dough out on pizza pan.  Bake for 10 minutes or until just beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and spread with alfredo sauce.  Sprinkle with pizza seasoning.  Run potatoes under cold water to cool them down a bit, then slice.  Season with salt and put them on the pizza.  Place tomato slices and mozzarella pearls on pizza.  Top with a small amount of shredded mozzarella.

Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.  Slice and serve.





Red, White, and Blue Pizza #2

Ingredients:
Purple potatoes
Pizza dough
Pizza sauce
Pepperoni slices
Mozzarella pearls
Shredded mozzarella

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425.  Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Boil until tender.  Drain.


Meanwhile, spread pizza dough out on pizza pan.  Bake for 10 minutes or until just beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and spread with pizza sauce.  Run potatoes under cold water to cool them down a bit, then slice.  Season with salt and put them on the pizza.  Place pepperoni and mozzrella pearls on pizza.  Top with small amount of shredded mozzarella.

Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.  Slice and serve.




Yes, technically the potatoes are purple, but they are a really blue kind of purple and they look pretty blue next to the red and the white.  And they are the closest thing to blue you will find that will go on a pizza!

My kids don't really like potatoes, but they still liked these pizzas.  They loved how patriotic they were.

I hope you have a safe and fun Fourth of July!

25 June 2014

Ranch BLT Chicken Burgers


It's summer!  Have you been grilling a lot?  We sure have.  I love to get creative with the grill, coming up with unique things to cook.  That's why I was super excited when Red Gold Tomatoes asked me if I would like to sample some of their products for their second annual Summer Grillin' Party.  I was also excited to work with Red Gold because they are fellow Hoosiers.  They were founded and still operate in my home state of Indiana.  All of their tomatoes come from Indiana, Ohio, and some neighboring states.  They are truly a Midwestern company!  Did you know that Red Gold consumes 95% of Indiana's tomato crop and 80% of all Midwestern tomatoes?  Wow!

Red Gold sent me this apron and six cans of their diced tomatoes.  They also sent some recipes for burgers that include their tomatoes.  Did you know you can put tomatoes inside your burgers instead of on top?  I didn't! I would have thought they would be too wet and the burger would fall apart.  Not true!  I decided to create a fun burger recipe of my own that included diced tomatoes.  I grilled them up tonight, and oh man, are they amazing!  One of my all-time favorite tomato dishes is the classic BLT.  Love BLTs!  So I decided to make a burger version.  Ground chicken, diced tomatoes, chopped bacon, and a little ranch seasoning all mixed together and grilled to perfection.  Say goodbye to boring old beef burgers!

Ranch BLT Chicken Burgers

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground chicken
1 egg
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp dry ranch dressing mix
4 strips bacon, cooked
4 toasted hamburger buns
Green leaf lettuce
Ranch dressing

Directions:
Preheat grill to medium-high.

Place the chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, and dry ranch dressing mix into a medium bowl.  Chop the bacon and add it to the bowl.  Drain the tomatoes very well and add them to the bowl.  Mix up the contents of the bowl until it is evenly distributed.

Separate chicken mixture into four patty-shaped servings.  If you have time, you can refrigerate the patties at this point to make the mixture a bit more firm.  But this step is unnecessary.

Oil the grill grates and grill patties over medium heat until completely cooked through and the middle of each patty registers at least 160°, flipping once.  

Place a patty on each hamburger bun and top with lettuce and ranch dressing.

Makes 4 servings.

Check out the gorgeous grill marks on these babies.  Beautiful.


 See how it's chock-full of juicy red tomatoes and smoky bacon?  So good!  


These burgers were a huge hit with my family.  They were quite large, so I split one in half for my daughters (ages 4 and 6).  They both wolfed down their half and asked for a second.  I love it!  

You can certainly use ground beef instead of the chicken if you prefer, but I chose the chicken because of its more mild flavor.  I didn't want the flavors of the tomato and the bacon to be overwhelmed by the beef.  And the chicken was the perfect choice.  Moist and tender, it let the tomato and bacon be the stars of the dish.  Disclaimer: Ground chicken is not as easy to work with as ground beef when it comes to burgers.  It is much softer and "squishier".  It can be difficult to form the patties, so I just kind of plopped it on the grill into a patty kind of shape.  Then it firms up as it cooks and it should be holding together just fine by the time you flip it to the other side.  They probably won't be the prettiest burgers you have ever served your family, but after one bite, you won't care one bit what they look like!

Let me know if you try these burgers and also go check out Red Gold's Facebook page.  Their Summer Grillin' Party starts today and they are giving away 1,000 Red Gold aprons (like mine above) every week until July 23.  There will also be one grand prize winner who will win a large Big Green Egg Grill.  So go enter!




24 June 2014

Birthday Cake Cookies


My youngest daughter turned four earlier this month.  How is that possible?  She's my baby!  But babies grow up, and mine is no exception.  

My big girl, Eva.

She got to take birthday treats to school twice.  She took them to her preschool class (a couple of weeks early because our last day of school was the Friday before Memorial Day) and she took some to her speech class at the public elementary school.  

When thinking about what kind of treats to make for this, I knew I wanted something easy to make, but also something that had a birthday feel to it.  Something a little more fun than just chocolate chip cookies.  I found the recipe for these cookies at Cookin' Cowgirl and knew immediately that they were perfect.  They are super easy  to make since they use a boxed cake mix, and since you use a cake mix, they really do taste just like birthday cake.  

Birthday Cake Cookies

Ingredients:
1 (15.25 oz.) box French Vanilla cake mix
⅓ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
½ cup canola oil
½ tsp almond extract
½ cup sprinkles

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry cake mix, flour, and baking powder.  Stir in the eggs, oil, and almond extract.  Stir in the sprinkles.

Take the dough by spoonfuls and roll into balls.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Do not allow them to brown. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack or parchment paper.

Makes 28 cookies.

A couple of important things about these cookies: 1. Don't let them get brown.  They should be super soft and kind of fluffy.  If you take them out the oven before they are brown and leave them on the baking sheet for a few minutes before you transfer them to cool, they will be perfect.  2.  Keep them small.  If you make them too big, they will take longer to cook through and they will get brown on the bottom.  You don't have to roll them into balls, but I love how it makes them turn into perfect little round shapes.

These little cookies are amazing!  Soft and pillowy with a little bit of crunch from the sprinkles.  And they really do taste like cake which I think is so fun for a birthday treat.

Eva took these to her speech class and they were a big hit.  I made birthday cake blondies for her to take to her preschool class.  They are also make with cake mix, but have a completely different texture.  I'll post that recipe sometime as well.

19 June 2014

Improv: Berries and Cream Floats


It's time for this month's Improv Challenge!


The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.

This month's ingredients were berries and cream.  Classic combo.  In fact, we had done something similar a few years ago when our assigned ingredients were strawberries and cream.  I made this No-Bake Fresh Strawberry Pie.  Bad picture, but awesome pie.  I honestly didn't put too much thought into it this month.  I thought that when school got out, things would slow down around here, but quite the opposite happened!  We have been super busy ever since, so I didn't have a chance to be super creative and come up with a savory application for berries and cream.  I saw this float in the June issue of Food Network Magazine and thought it would be perfect.  

Berries & Cream Floats

Ingredients:
Vanilla ice cream
Berries of your choice
Red soda (I used Strawberry Crush)
Whipped Cream

Directions:
Layer the ice cream and berries in a glass.  Pour the red soda over all and top with whipped cream.

Makes as many as you want!

Kelsey Nixon made her own vanilla-sweetened whipped cream, but I went the lazy route and grabbed a can of Redi-Whip.  I like my desserts to be easy-peasy and this one definitely fits the bill.

I used raspberries because that's what was on sale at my grocery store.  Strawberries and blueberries would be good too.  And don't be afraid to mix them!

Desserts don't get much prettier than this one.  Perfect for summer!

Be sure to check out all the other great berries and cream recipes below and come back next month to see what I make with popcorn and peanuts.  Oh fun!




   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   


01 June 2014

SRC: Potato and Smoked Bleu Cheese Pizza


It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club! The Secret Recipe Club is a group of food bloggers who secretly make one of someone else's dishes and post them all on the same day at the same time.  It's really fun, choosing a recipe to make, making the recipe, then reading about everyone else's recipes.  It's a great way to "meet" other bloggers and check out some great blogs that you never knew about before.

Secret Recipe Club

This month I was assigned the awesome blog Inquiring Chef, written by Jess.  Jess is an American who has been living in and loving Bangkok for the past four years.  She is also a new mommy!  She gave birth to twin baby girls just a little over a month ago.  Congrats Jess!  They are beautiful!  

I found so many recipes on Jess's blog that I marked to try.  I pinned her Chicken Marbella, which she lovingly calls "wedding chicken" because it's what was served at her wedding, her Quinoa and Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes, her Slow Cooker Mango Sriracha Pulled Chicken, and I can't wait to try her Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Quinoa, Pecans, and Parmesan when fall rolls around.  Yummy!  

I found so many yummy things on Jess's blog that I couldn't narrow it down to just one.  I made two of her recipes this month and they were both awesome.  One definitely took the cake though, so that's the one I'm sharing with you today.  Her Potato and Bleu Cheese Pizza caught my eye and then I couldn't get the thought out of my head.  It was so awesome I made it twice in one week!  The first time I made it, it was so dark and stormy that I couldn't get a decent picture to save my life.  But I was happy that I had an excuse to make it again!  

Potato and Smoked Bleu Cheese Pizza

Ingredients:
1 tbsp cornmeal
Fresh pizza dough
1 tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp dried marjoram
1 large yellow potato, about 6-8 oz.
½ cup smoked bleu cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp heavy cream or half and half
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425°.  Spread cornmeal on a stoneware baking sheet.  Press pizza dough out on baking sheet, about 11” across.  Brush dough with olive oil and sprinkle with marjoram.

Slice potatoes very thinly using a mandolin.  Arrange potato slices on prepared pizza dough, overlapping them slightly.  Top with bleu cheese crumbles and bake for 8-10 minutes or until bleu cheese has melted.  Drizzle the cream or half and half on the pizza and top with the freshly grated Parmesan.  Return to oven and bake another 8-10 minutes or until crust and cheese are golden brown.  Cut into 6 slices.

Makes 3 servings, 2 slices each.



Oh my gosh, this pizza is amazing!  You would not believe how good it smells while it's baking.  Unbelievable.  The smoked bleu cheese is definitely the star of this pizza, but the way the all the flavors and textures combine is what makes it amazing.  The crispy chewiness of the crust, the soft bite of the potato, the sharp tang of the blue cheese and the way the cream and Parmesan get all browned on top make it just heavenly.

I made this as our meatless meal last week, paired with a spinach salad.  I wasn't sure if my daughters would like it, so I made them a smaller simple cheese and tomato sauce pizza.  They ate that and then my six-year-old, Lena, asked to try this one.  She loved it and ate a whole piece of this one as well.  


I only made a few minor modifications to Jess's recipe.  I used my tried-and-true dough recipe, which is actually very similar to Jess's.  I lopped off about a third of it and used that for my kids' pizza and used the rest to make an 11" potato pizza.  The recipe is easily adapted for bigger or smaller pizzas.

I also used a smoked bleu cheese instead of regular.  It would be just as great with regular bleu cheese, but I loved the smoked flavor of it.  I had used smoked bleu cheese before, in my Smoky Steakhouse Grilled Cheese Sandwich, so I knew how amazing it was.  I just happened to pick this stuff up a few days before making this pizza.


So good.  Cheese this expensive is not usually in my grocery budget, but I won a gift card to this specialty Italian grocery store at a Taste of Home Cooking School event last year.  Just got around to using it!  This was the perfect item to spend it on.

I also used dried marjoram instead of fresh rosemary.  I really dislike rosemary, so I was perusing my spice cabinet to see what else I could use.  I saw a small jar of dried marjoram that I honestly don't even remember buying.  I know I had not used it before as the paper strip on the Penzey's jar was still intact.  I smelled it and thought it would pair nicely with the bleu cheese.  It was perfect.  Thyme would also work well, I think.



This pizza just blew me away.  My husband raved about it too.  And it was really super simple to make, which is important on pizza night!  

Oh, the other recipe I made from Jess' blog was her Thai Salmon Satay.


It was really good, but I managed to burn a lot of it because I walked away from the grill for too long.  Oops!  The pieces of it that I was able to salvage were great though.

I am so glad I was assigned to Jess's blog this month.  I definitely have a new favorite pizza!  Thanks for a great recipe, Jess!




   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

28 May 2014

Strawberry Lemonade Punch


Not a great picture, but it was the only one I got before my camera battery died. :( I had a pretty glass set out with a beautiful lemon garnish, but oh well!  This is only a half batch in this little pitcher. I didn't think a whole batch would fit.

I made this punch for our school's closing service last week.  It was a huge hit!  I love how it only has three ingredients and one of them is fresh strawberries.  The absolutely perfect punch for this time of year.  It's adapted from The Frugal Girls.

Strawberry Lemonade Punch

Ingredients:
2 (16 oz.) pkgs frozen strawberries, thawed
2 (12 oz.) cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 (2 liter) bottles Sprite

Directions:
Place strawberries and 1 can of the lemonade concentrate in a 2 quart pitcher.  Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture.  (This step can also be done in a regular blender.)  Once pureed as smoothly as possible, add the other can of lemonade concentrate and stir.  Cover pitcher and refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, pour strawberry lemonade concentrate into a large punchbowl.  Very slowly pour in the Sprite.  It will get really foamy.  Scoop some of the foam off (I put it back into the pitcher) so you can fit all the Sprite in there.  Give it a gentle stir.  The foam will subside a bit after a few minutes, so pour in the Sprite about 10 minutes before you are ready to serve for best results.

Makes 1 large punchbowl.

This is by far the easiest and tastiest punch I've ever made.  Three ingredients and super simple prep.  Amazing.  The only problem I had with it was the Sprite foaming up.  I was not expecting that.  I wonder if it has something to do with the strawberries.  Because earlier this month I made a cherry limeade punch for the spring fine arts program at our school, and it didn't foam up like this when adding the Sprite.  But this punch is totally worth dealing with a little foaminess.  The foam calms down in a matter of minutes, so just pour in the Sprite about 10 minutes before you want to serve.  If you scoop the foam off and into the pitcher, you will see that after a few minutes, it fizzes out and turns back into punch and you can pour into the punchbowl.

This recipe is great for making ahead.  I made two pitchers of the "concentrate" the morning of the event and stored them (and the Sprite) in the fridge.  Then when it was time to serve, I simply poured one pitcher of the concentrate into the punchbowl, then the Sprite.  Then when the punchbowl was getting low, I poured in the other pitcher of concentrate and the rest of the Sprite. Easy peasy!

I wondered if the strawberry seeds would be weird in this, but they totally aren't.  They are so tiny that you don't really notice them, and I found lots of them on the bottom of the punchbowl, so most of them sink down there anyway.  Not a problem.

This will definitely be my go-to punch whenever strawberries are in season.