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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sea Salt Caramel Cocoa Crispy Treats

I can't tell you how excited I was this morning when I found a tiny little patch of flowers blooming in my backyard.

Yeah!  The flowers are finally blooming!

I may have said that out loud.  

I whipped out my phone to take a picture and just as I snapped it Gus stepped into the shot and dropped a tennis ball.

"What's a dog gotta do to get a little attention around here?  Seeing that you're in such a good mood, maybe if I drop this filthy, dirty ball on your flowers you'll play catch with me."

Flowers for me, a dirty tennis ball for Gus.  That's all it took to make us happy on a drizzly morning.

Okay, let's get to today's recipe.  It's a slight twist on the Sea Salt Caramel Rice Krispy Treats
that I posted last summer.

Click on the link above to be taken to the recipe.  Yes, it is still the same recipe that you see in this picture.  The difference is that I didn't scorch the caramel on the treats in this picture.

To make the cocoa treats, you simply follow the same recipe with two substitutions: chocolate extract instead of vanilla extract, and cocoa rice crispy cereal instead of Rice Krispy cereal.

And this is what you'll have.  Oh. MY.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happy Things!

I feel like spring is finally here!  Three days in a row with 50+ temps!

The only fun thing about the rainy weather this past weekend was watching Clyde sashay through the house.  He wears the towels we dry him with as if they're a fancy cloak.

Sometimes he carries the end of the towel in his mouth like it's the royal train.  And he looks at me as if he's saying, "Cue The King's March.  I have arrived."

Plopping himself down to take a nap.  I think he keeps the towel wrapped around him so that he will have royal dreams...dreams where he waves a perfect royal wave to his subjects.

Or maybe he just wears the towel because it's comforting on a rainy day.

Thank you to all who commented about their favorite comfort food to enter the giveaway for the Whole Foods gift card last week.  The winner was Carly G., whose favorite comfort food is "a toss up between baked mac and cheese and biscuits with gravy!"

"Biscuits?  Did somebody say BISCUITS?!

Hope you are all enjoying some glorious spring weather wherever you happen to be!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

Every day, every walk we take, Clyde picks up a stick or a branch along the way.

Today, this one stopped him in his tracks.  He turned around and looked at me as if to say, "Yikes!"  Then he did an about-face and dragged me home.

We came home and he promptly took a nap so he could sleep off his trauma.

While he slept, I baked a batch of muffins.

  I wanted to take a picture of the muffins, and the best place for natural light is on this bench in my dining room.

Gus understands the meaning of "look but don't touch."  Clyde--not so much.  Good thing he was sleeping.

If you haven't yet entered the giveaway for the Whole Foods gift card, head on over to this post and leave a comment telling me what your favorite comfort food is.  The winner will be announced on March 31.  Good luck!

Linking up with Share Your Cup!

Today's Playlist

  • "The Girl Got Hot"...Weezer
  • "In One Ear"...Cage the Elephant
  • "Dani California"...Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • "Glamour is a Rocky Road"...My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult
  • "Teenagers"...My Chemical Romance

Lemon Ricotta Muffins  (Adapted from Cooking Light)
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg
sanding sugar, for sprinkling on top (optional)

Gather your ingredients.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Zest the lemon.  You will end up with about 2 tablespoons of zest, which is exactly what you need!

Funny how that works out.

Squeeze the juice out of the now-bald lemon.

In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar...

baking powder...

and salt.

Whisk together.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a medium bowl, place the ricotta, water...

olive oil...

lemon zest & juice...

and the egg.

Whisk together.

Add the ricotta mixture to the well in the flour mixture.

Stir just until moistened.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.  I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop it into the cups.

Sprinkle the sanding sugar on the tops of the muffins.

Bake in your preheated 375-degree oven for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean and the tops are lightly golden.

For the record, my muffins took 20 minutes.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove the muffins and cool completely on wire rack.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Comfort Food Cooking Show...and Whole Foods Giveaway!

  I'm so ready for the snow to be gone!

Even though it is fun to throw snowballs for Gus.

Got it!  Clyde usually looks on in admiration, he simply doesn't have the desire to catch snowballs. 

 We filmed another episode of the cooking show this week.  With the freezing temperatures outside, it only seemed fitting that the theme of this show should be comfort food!

What did we make?

A large, family-sized chicken pot pie and cute li'l individual ones.

Click on the links to be taken to the recipes.

Dedham TV is also sponsoring a giveaway!  One lucky winner will receive a $50 gift card to Whole Foods.

How to enter the giveaway: 

In the comments section at the end of this blogpost, tell me what your all-time favorite comfort food is.  That's it!  Numbers will be assigned and the winner (drawn via will be announced on March 31.  Good Luck!

This giveaway is closed.  The winner of the Whole Foods Gift Card is Carly G. whose favorite comfort food "is a toss up between baked mac and cheese and biscuits with gravy!"  Congrats, Carly!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Chicken Pesto Pizza (with mushrooms)

Caitie:     We should bake something today!

Erin (smirking, sarcastic):    uh, WE?

Caitie:    Well, YOU should bake something, and I'll sit here and keep you company!

That was a recent conversation between the two of them.

If you read my blog regularly, you may have seen the brownies and cupcakes and creative cakes that Erin regularly bakes.

Caitie does her best to avoid the kitchen.   Just imagine my surprise when I walked in the door one day last week and was greeted by this:

Caitie got busy baking blondies.  They were still warm!

And then she requested that I make Chicken Pesto Pizza.  She's hard to resist when she plies me with warm blondies.

I feel the need to warn you that this is going to be a long recipe.  Three recipes, actually.   I made the crust from scratch.  I made the pesto from scratch.  And THEN  I made the pizza.

But before I made the crust, pesto and pizza, I roasted the garlic (for the pesto), roasted the chicken (for the pizza), sautéed some mushrooms (because NO pizza-o-mine is complete without 'shrooms).  It turned into a two-hour ordeal.  Two hours!!!  For two pizzas.  But it was soooooo good.

Make that sooooooooooooooo good.

To save time, make it easy on yourself.  It's the pesto & chicken combo that's important,  and nobody's going to judge you if you don't prepare all of your ingredients from scratch.  Buy ready-made pizza dough.  Buy ready-made pesto.  Buy pre-cooked (or rotisserie) chicken.

Today's Playlist

  • "Mommy's Little Monster"...Social Distortion
  • "All My Lovin'"...Me First & The Gimme Gimmes
  • "I'm Yours"...Jason Mraz
  • "In The Next Room"...Neon Trees
  • "Holiday"...Green Day
  • "Fell In Love With A Girl"...The White Stripes
  • "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)"...The Offspring
  • "All My Life"...Foo Fighters
  • "Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground"...The White Stripes
  • "Chelsea Dagger"...The Fratellis

Chicken Pesto Pizza

For the Crust:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
For the Pesto:
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic (or 2 cloves fresh garlic)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano 
  • salt & pepper, to taste

For the Pizza:
  • your favorite pizza crust, either homemade or store bought
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 8 oz mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 lb. cooked chicken, shredded or chopped into tiny pieces
  • additional toppings (I used chopped plum tomatoes, scallions and sautéed mushrooms)

Gather your ingredients.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Add milk and stir just until moistened.

When dough starts to pull together....

---place it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about a minute.

I say "lightly floured" because this is not a sticky dough and it usually does not stick to the counter or to my hands while I'm kneading it.

I was making two pizzas, so I had doubled the recipe.

This is a really quick dough to prepare, no rising time is necessary.  It doesn't have the elasticity that a yeast dough would have, but the baking powder does give it a bit of a rise and baking it at a high temperature gives it a really great crunch.

I decided to make my pizzas in cast iron skillets.  You can use whatever type of pan that you like.  

Place a tablespoon of butter onto your pan/skillet, and put it for a minute into your oven while it's heating up.

After the butter melts, remove the pan from the oven and spread the dough onto the bottom of the pan, and up the sizes to form the crust.

Before you add the toppings, you are going to pre-bake the crust.  Bake for 10 minutes in your 425-degree oven.

If you are going to make your own pesto, prepare it now while the crust is baking.

Gather your ingredients.

Place the basil in a food processor or blender.

Add the garlic.  I used roasted garlic because it doesn't quite have the intensity of raw garlic.  

I wasn't in the mood to breathe fire.

Add the pine nuts.  Pulse until  your ingredients are coarsely chopped and mixed.

Drizzle in the oil and process until smooth.

Season with salt and pepper, and add in the cheese.

I still had a couple of minutes while I waited for my crust to bake so I decided to prep the rest of my ingredients.

I chopped up a few plum tomatoes and scallions.  And then I decided to slice some fresh mozzarella for one of the pizzas.

 Okay!  I've pre-baked the crusts and now they are ready for their toppings!

If I hadn't been so excited to assemble the pizzas I might have remembered to take a picture of my toppings for you.

Picture this:  pesto, sliced cooked chicken, mozzarella, chopped plum tomatoes, chopped scallions, sauteed mushrooms.

Feel free to omit or add any toppings you please.  This is a chicken pesto pizza, after all, so I would hope that you would definitely include chicken and pesto.  And cheese, of course.

 Start by putting 1/2 cup of pesto onto the crust.

 Spread it around.  It doesn't have to be perfect; that's part of the charm.

 Arrange the chicken.

 Cover with cheese.

I put packaged, shredded mozzarella on one pizza.

 And sliced, fresh mozzarella on the other.

 I piled on some sautéed mushrooms.

And sprinkled on some chopped plum tomatoes.  Oops, forgot to take a picture of the tomatoes.

Return the pizzas to your 425-degree oven and bake for an additional 15 to 18 minutes, until the crust is completely cooked through and the cheese has melted.

I removed my pizzas from the skillets and placed them onto a board to slice, but if you bake them in a pizza pan you can slice them right in the pan.

Okay, maybe this one was a little bit topping-heavy.

I didn't find that to be a problem.

 This pizza was a mushroom-free zone.

Eagerly devoured.