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I Don’t Have Ice Cream… But I Have Pizza!

July 4, 2011

Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Happy Fourth of July everyone! A couple people have let me know that 208 years after the Declaration of Independence, Ronald Reagan established another important holiday in July — National Ice Cream month (thanks Emily and Aunt Sue Ellen!).

I didn’t know about the holiday when I decided to make 30 types of homemade ice cream to share at my 30th birthday party later this month. Unfortunately, my month of ice cream has come to an unexpected halt as our 3-year-old fridge/freezer stopped working. (Ironically our home warranty expired two weeks ago – thanks Murphy.) We’re hoping the fridge is still under manufacturer’s warranty, but by the time we thought to call the place where we bought it, it was closed for the holiday.

As we started moving our food into a cooler, I came across some frozen pizza dough I had made and I knew exactly what to make with it. Earlier in the week, I had visited a little friend’s garden. During his summer break, he decided to plant a garden and he wanted to show me. I was definitely impressed – egg plant, popcorn, two types of tomatoes, three types of squash, watermelon, peanuts, peppers, beans, several types of herbs, and probably more that I’m forgetting… He definitely has a green thumb! He was nice enough to share some of the fruits of his labor with us – thanks Jeff!

Dill

Basil

A sweet, fresh tomato!

Deep Dish Pizza With Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella

Slice the garlic and allow it to soak in the olive oil for several hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place an iron skillet into the oven as it’s preheating. Remove the skillet and carefully stretch the dough to fit it. Brush the crust with the garlic oil and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Top with the tomatoes, basil, red onion and sliced garlic (from the oil). Slice the fresh mozzarella and place the pieces on top of the veggies. Drizzle with any remaining garlic oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden and cheese is browned.

Pizza

Grillin’ for the Fourth!

July 1, 2011

Tomorrow I’ll continue my month of ice cream with one of my favorite ice creams ever, but I couldn’t wait to share some grill recipes for this Fourth of July weekend. Beer can chicken, grilled potato salad, grilled sweet corn and grilled peaches – an entire meal from the grill! Wishing you a safe, fun and delicious weekend!

Beer Can Chicken

  • 12 ounce can of beer or cola
  • 1 whole chicken (4 to 5 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Dry rub (recipe below)

Preheat your grill to medium and prepare the grill to cook the chicken over indirect heat. (If you’re cooking over charcoal arrange the coals along the outside of the grill so the chicken won’t be directly above them; if you’re using gas don’t place the chicken directly above a burner.)

Remove the giblets from your chicken and rinse it well. Pat it dry, inside and out, with a paper towel. Brush the chicken with the oil and then massage the dry rub into the chicken, inside the body, outside the body, and between the skin and the flesh. Open the can of beer or cola and remove half of the contents. Once the grill is preheated, place the opened can of beer or cola into the cavity of the chicken (with legs downward). Place the chicken on the grill with the can upright and position the legs of the chicken to help stabilize it. Cook the chicken for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until a thermometer inserted into the breast reads 165 degrees and inserted into the thigh reads 180 degrees.

For the Dry Rub

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Grilled Potato Salad

  • 2 pounds red-skinned potatoes (unpeeled)
  • Canola oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 ear of corn
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • ½ yellow bell pepper
  • ½ small red onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat the grill to medium. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Toss the potatoes with a tablespoon of the canola oil and half  a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Place the potatoes on a large piece of foil in a single and form a packet around them. Place the potatoes on the grill, directly over the heat. Cook for approximately 40 minutes, flipping the packet over after 20 minutes.

Peel back the husk on the ear of corn, leaving it attached at the base. Remove the silk. Soak the corn in cold water for about 5 minutes.  After soaking, brush the corn with oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.  Pull the husk back up around the cob. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, rotating the corn several times. After removing the corn from the grill allow it to cool and then cut the kernels off of the cob.

Cut the bell peppers in half. Remove the core and seeds from the half of the pepper you’ll be using and cut each half in half again. Brush both sides of each quarter of the pepper with canola oil. Place the pieces on the grill and cook for about 10 minutes per side or until the skin of the pepper is charred. After removing the pepper pieces from the grill, carefully remove the skins and cut the peppers into ½ inch pieces.

Combine the cooked potatoes, corn, bell peppers in a medium bowl with the onions and basil. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette shortly before serving.

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar.  Mix in the minced garlic.

Corn on the Cob with Herb Butter

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Preheat the grill to medium. Peel back the husk on the ear of corn, leaving it attached at the base. Remove the silk. Soak the ears of corn in cold water for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the butter, mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. After soaking, brush each earn of corn with the butter mixture. Pull the husk back up around the corn and place it on the grill. Cook for about 10 minutes, rotating it several times.

Grilled Peaches

  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Canola oil

Preheat the grill to medium. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Brush the cut side of each peach with canola oil and sprinkle it with the cinnamon sugar. Place the peaches, sugared side down, on the grill. Grill for about 5 minutes, until the peaches are tender. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Three Things I Love About Michigan

June 30, 2011

Lake Michigan

While I love the people here in Oklahoma, when all I see in the forecast is 100-degree weather, sometimes it makes me question my sanity — especially after going home to one of the most beautiful places in the world where it’s a perfect 70 degrees. Alas, I’m married to a Brazilian who hates cold winter weather, which means we’ll be staying put in Oklahoma. But at least we can vacation in Michigan!

We visited recently for my sister’s wedding so tonight I’m taking a break from my month of homemade ice cream to share some of the things (other than the weather) that I love most about Michigan – which are also some of the reasons you should visit!

1) The Scenery

The Pure Michigan commercials don’t lie – Michigan is truly beautiful! I think God must have created it especially for his vacation home.

Pretty peony

A perfect place to enjoy Lake Michigan

Leelanau Peninsula Vineyard

Grapes on the vine

2) The Food

If you’re planning a visit, here are some of my favorites.

  • BC Pizza: It started in my hometown and now has more than 30 locations across Northern Michigan. It has a slightly sweet crust and sauce and is loaded with fresh ingredients. It’s not fancy pizza, but it’s good! BC Pizza will always hold a special place in my heart.
  • Kilwin’s Ice Cream and Fudge: My brother worked for Kilwin’s making fudge and serving ice cream while we were growing up and we took full advantage of our family discount! They make their own waffle cones, which are definitely the best I’ve had. My sister had a surprise treat of Mackinaw Island Fudge ice cream and waffle cones at her wedding and it was a huge hit! Kilwin’s can be found all over Northern Michigan as well.

Fresh greens with radishes and pepitas...soo good! Thanks John and Shannon for the picture

  • Blackbird Gardens: This Petoskey-based company catered my wedding five years ago and catered my sister’s wedding as well. They are amazing! Everything is very fresh — they picked the salad the day of her wedding and served the most delicious homegrown strawberries. Chef Mike is very creative: for our wedding he made a couple of Brazilian dishes (for the Brazilian groom) and for my sister’s he made a Thai shrimp hors d’oeuvre and Thai chicken and dipping sauces (for the Thai groom). Mike is also a very talented chef. The beef in our kabobs was cooked perfectly. We were sitting by a couple who had vegetarian kabobs and they said it was the best wedding food they’d ever had!
  • Red Mesa Grill: If you’re ever in Boyne City, Red Mesa is a great casual restaurant with good quality Latin food. Their chili crusted chicken twister is my favorite! Sadly, we were so busy I didn’t get to have one during our recent visit.

Corky's

  • Corky’s: For my sister’s bachelorette party we toured a few vineyards in the Leelanau Penninsula. Our tour began and ended at Corky’s in Sutton’s Bay. While the service was sub-par (our server had only been working there for three days and probably wasn’t cut out to waitress), the peaceful setting with a view of Lake Michigan and good food make it worth a mention. I’m not saying it was the best food ever, but it was better than average and the experience was enjoyable over all.

45 Vineyard

  • 45 Vineyard: Our favorite of the three vineyards we visited. It’s named after its location on the 45th parallel.

Fresh fruit at the bridal shower

  • Michigan has an abundance of fresh fruit, from cherries to blueberries to apples and more. Chef Mom recently posted some some delicious-looking recipes featuring Michigan cherries.

3) The People

At least for me, the people (my family) are one of the things I love and miss most about Michigan.

My brother and Natalie

Grandma of the Bride and Mother of the Groom

My sister - the beautiful bride!

And her handsome man, rehearsing for the big day

Natalie and Josue at the beach

Ice Cream or Gelato?

June 28, 2011

Today is day #2 in my month of ice cream. I was talking to a coworker about the difference between gelato and ice cream. She called her Italian mom to find out more about gelato. It turns out that gelato is not just the Italian word for ice cream as I had always thought. It’s normally made with milk instead of cream and the lower fat content actually brings out the flavors. Lower in fat and more flavorful – Italians are smart people! Gelato is also made a little bit differently than ice cream, with less aeration, which gives it a denser consistency.

I should have applied what I learned today when I made tonight’s batch of fresh lemon ice cream. I used two cups of heavy cream and one cup of milk. It tasted good but I wish it was a little more lemony. In the recipe below, I recommend using two cups of milk and only one cup of heavy cream. I had also planned to add limoncello to my ice cream, but when I saw the price tag, I changed my mind (yes, I’m cheap!). If you have it, adding a little limoncello to the ice cream would be delicious. Alcohol will soften the consistency of ice cream so don’t add too much!

#29 – Fresh Lemon Ice Cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 2 or 3 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon limoncello

In a medium bowl, mix the milk and cream. Whisk in the sugar and salt until they’re dissolved. Add the lemon juice and freeze in an ice cream maker immediately (so it doesn’t cause the milk to curdle). Add the lemon zest and limoncello (if you’re using it) at the end of the freezing process.

30 Ice Creams For My 30th Birthday

June 27, 2011

The count down has begun! In less than a month, I will be turning the big 3-0!

I had been trying to think of something fun to do to celebrate the milestone. Since ice cream is my favorite food, I decided that over the next month, I will make 30 flavors of homemade ice cream. On my birthday, we’re going to have homemade pizza and do an ice cream tasting to rate our favorites.

I’m taking suggestions for flavors. My favorite is plain old chocolate and though a little texture is okay, I don’t like too much stuff in my ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s is way too much for me). However, I definitely want to be creative with the flavors I try. Let me know if you have any ideas!

#30 – Raspberry Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Bits
adapted from David Lebovitz’s vanilla ice cream

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1 – 3 to 4 ounce dark chocolate bar

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, cream, sugar and salt over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Don’t allow the mixture to boil.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks. Temper the eggs by slowly whisking a small amount of the hot cream mixture into them. Continue to whisk, adding more of the cream.

Once the yolk mixture is warm, whisk it into the cream mixture in the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Don’t allow it to boil.

Remove the mixture from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Refrigerate the mixture until it’s completely chilled (several hours or overnight). Meanwhile, use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate shavings from the chocolate bar.

Freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker. Add the berries and chocolate shavings at the end of the freezing process.

My Sister’s Wedding Cake

June 21, 2011

9 butter cake mixes

+ 3 dozen eggs

+ an unmentionable amount of butter

+ 2 dozen lemons for the marmalade filling

+ 6 cups of raspberries for the fresh berry filling

+ 10 pounds of powdered sugar for the buttercream icing

+ 10 pounds of dry ice for the 20 hour road trip to Michigan

= MY SISTER’S WEDDING CAKE!!!

I was so busy with the cake, I forgot to take a picture. Here’s one thanks to my cousin, Kristen. It didn’t turn out exactly like I planned, but no one noticed because they were all looking at the beautiful bride!

More pictures from the trip to Michigan are coming soon!

The Wedge, OKC = Great Pizza, Great Date Night

June 4, 2011

Last weekend Josue had to attend a conference in Oklahoma City so I took Friday off of work and we planned a mini vacation (visit family, take Natalie to the zoo, and have a date night). A toddler with an ear infection quickly changed our plans, but thanks to our family we were able to go on a date on Sunday night. We even booked a hotel room online so we’d have more time to enjoy together. When we drove by the prison and the GPS said our destination was imminent, we knew it wasn’t a good sign. Two tenths of a mile later, we pulled up in front of a sketchy looking hotel. We decided to venture inside to see if it was any better than the outside. It wasn’t. Lesson learned: three stars doesn’t always mean nice. Fortunately the front desk guy was nice and gave us a refund even though we had booked through a third party.

By the time all this happened we were starving. We decided to go to Bricktown (a fun, historic district of Oklahoma City) for dinner. We literally drove a loop through Bricktown at least six times because we couldn’t decide where to eat. By that time Josue was pretty frustrated so he started driving back in the direction of the prison. As we were driving out of town, I saw a sign for “The Wedge.” One of my co-workers had recommended a pizza place in Tulsa with the same name so we decided to check it out (though we found out it’s not related to the one in Tulsa).

When we drove up and saw a veggie garden in front of the restaurant, I had to eat there.

The Wedge is located in the Deep Deuce district of Oklahoma City (I think they have another location as well). Our server told us that they make everything they can from scratch, including the Italian sausage we had on our pizza. They grow their own herbs and use local ingredients as much as possible, including chicken from a local farmer. In addition to the normal pizza toppings they offer fresh mozzarella, arugula, prosciutto, figs, kalamata olives, roasted beets, fennel, roasted nuts and a variety of homemade sauces. All of the pizzas are cooked in their wood fire oven.

And most importantly, the pizza is delicious!

It was a the perfect place to relax and forget about the craziness of the day and daily life and enjoy a great date night.

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