Homemade Pizza Dough & Sauce

Happy Father’s Day!
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I am not sure what happened but this day kind of snuck up on me. I know you are asking how is that even possible. It is a busy time of year for me. I am on a fundraising board which I have been on I think for the last 10 years but I have proudly supported them since the beginning 17 years ago! Both my kids have their birthdays and my youngest just turned 25 UGH not sure how that happened either. The time goes by so fast; it seems like in a blink of an eye they went from just starting to walk and talk to running and talking back. Then came their their license and off to college and back. Through it all I couldn’t have asked for a better father for my children.

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Our first time playing with the Uuni this last Nov

So how are we going to celebrate this extremely hardworking man? Luckily he loves food just as much as I do. I am sure many people are going to be grilling out today and I thought about that but then decided to make homemade pizza in my Uuni pellet burning pizza oven and invite over both of our fathers to share in the yumminess!
15036315_10207738742531251_9143904106138992854_nI had never even heard of an Uuni oven before but there was a raffle sheet at the office so for $20 I wrote my name on 5 tickets and forgot all about it. Then a month or so later I got a call that I won! Pretty crazy actually and it is a crazy little unit but I love it. We had some friends over a couple of weeks ago and unanimously declared this little $20; to me item; was SO worth it and such a fun social thing to do, plus made excellent pizza. It says you can make other things in it but I haven’t explored that yet.
14938181_10207738747891385_3594414411391080513_nI know you can buy pizza dough at most markets and can even ask your local pizza place to buy some of their dough but my dough is better than any I have ever brought home. That goes the same as with my pizza sauce.

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Cooks the pizza in about 60 seconds – yeah baby!!!

Basic Pizza Sauce
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 28 ounce can peeled, crushed tomatoes with puree
1 bay leaf
1 ½ tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
¾ cup dry white wine
Several shakes of crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in  3-4 quart sauce pan and cook the garlic for 30 seconds. DO NOT allow it to brown or burn. If you do start over; add the remaining ingredients and simmer; stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened and the flavors meld about 30-40 minutes. Any leftovers can be frozen.

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I just pulled this out of my freezer

Basic Pizza Dough – enough for 2 round 14” or 1 rectangle 11”x17”
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
14938302_10207738748251394_3402989645596747515_nCorn Meal helps keeps the dough from sticking on the pizza peel or stone or whatever you are placing and transferring the dough to.

Pour the water and yeast into a large bowl or your stand mixing bowl. Stir and put a pinch of sugar in it. Let is stand in a warm draft place for about 5 minutes until the yeast starts to activate into bubbles. If it doesn’t bubble you are going to have to start over.
Add the olive oil and then sift the sugar and salt. Into the yeast mixture.  Work the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If you are using a stand mixer with the dough hook, let the machine knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. If you are doing it by hand work the dough till it feels springy. If it’s too stiff add a little warm water a teaspoon at a time.
IMG_5255Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl that’s been lightly oiled.
Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm draft free place. Until the dough has doubled in size takes about an hour or so.
Punch the dough down, place on a lightly floured surface. This is the time to decide what size(s) you are making and split the dough as needed.  I tend to make individual pizzas so I break mine down quite a bit.

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This is my current dough I made a little bit ago

Roll out your dough ball and place on a lightly cornmeal pizza peel, stone or sheet pan. At this point you can cover it a let it rise a little again for a thicker crust or just put a little sauce, cheese and your toppings.  It’s best to not LOAD your toppings but place them sparingly so the pizza moves around easily for you. Not a fun mess to clean up topping debris after a split pizza dough.  Bake as you will in a very hot oven around 450’F for 10-30 minutes depending on how large your pizza is.

Boston Baked Beans

I am going to assume we are going to be getting into BBQ season around here; Once it stops raining that is and gets out of the 50’s – Sorry SF another weather update here. He told me I’ve had a lot of weather talk lately. It’s been bizarre so i’m just sharing wink wink! Currently I am sitting out on the porch with my laptop, a glass of wine, Pandora playing and enjoying the end of the day first nice day in a long time and writing my blog for this weekend as we are going to be away.
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Since I have been sharing all of my favorites with all of you, I find it easier to google myself for my recipes than to go through my ridiculous pile of paper recipes. Pretty sad huh? or is it pretty cool? I know typing in cookingatclarktowers and what I am looking for is a lot faster. On Sunday I googled me (that cracks me up) looking for my Boston baked bean recipe. Nothing came up and I thought that was impossible that I haven’t shared it yet. I could swear that I did and I even had a part of what I thought I said in the blog. I will confess that I might be in there and I have labeled the title something else and wordpress (or just me) can’t locate it? I have been trying to get better at this blogging world but I still have a LOT to learn.
IMG_5199Back to the BBQ comment Baked Beans at a BBQ is a must for me I love baked beans ; I know this is a bit controversial; well that’s a strong word but I have a few friends that hate them. My BFF KP has proclaimed that she ONLY likes mine so that is saying something; I think. See this is one of the comments I swear I wrote but whatever I am going to share it now OR again since I made them on Sunday and they were delicious and worth trying.  I will also admit while they are delish and relatively easy, the baking in the oven takes a long time. This is something you have to plan ahead of time. I know there are a ton of shortcuts to delicious beans but I promise these are worth the effort and again very easy just hands off time consuming.
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1 package of navy pea beans – soak overnight
1 lb salt pork – rind cut off, pork diced / I had a ham bone leftover from Easter in the freezer
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 large or 2 medium vidalia onions – sliced
⅓ cup molasses
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup ketchup
2 teaspoon salt
⅓ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard
IMG_5210In a large bowl soak the beans overnight covered in water
Strain and add beans, fresh water, the salt pork and the baking soda to either the stock pot you are going to bake them in or another pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 12 minutes.  Skim off some of the foam.
IMG_5198Strain keeping the liquid in a medium sized bowl and then add the molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, dry mustard and the salt and pepper stir to combine.
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In a bean pot or dutch oven (which I used) layer onions, salt pork and beans.  Do this a couple of times.

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Cover with the liquid. Place in a 300’F oven for 5 hours. Don’t cringe I’m sure you can do many other things around the house while they are baking.

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Worth the wait!!!

Thank you to a pretty old Betty Crocker recipe!

 

Basic Focaccia Bread

I am sure this will not come as a surprise but I LOVE food! I know I know thank you captain obvious! Well my daughter and I; well mostly me as I needed some moral support; have decided to take a much closer look at our food intake since someone might be having a pretty big birthday later this year. So it took less than a week to find out that too many carbs, not enough protein and too large of portion sizes are not really great recipe for your figure. Yeah I know another captain obvious moment here. When you see it in black and white kinda hard to deny.
IMG_5194So what do I do when we have a friend coming for dinner, my husband asked me to make the Pasta Sausage pesto dish I blogged about last week. Yeah that makes it 3 times I’ve made it in the last 2 weeks. And I decided I really wanted to make focaccia – really Donna too many carbs and makes a jelly roll pan full what is wrong with you! Maybe I am rebellious in nature? Maybe it’s the red hair thing? I really have no idea but I wasn’t sorry I made it. I was already thinking of how I would make it next time. Adding rosemary and or thyme some garlic even some caramelized onions does that not sound absolutely delicious.
IMG_5176If you have ever made focaccia and found the recipe online, you probably already have this recipe because why mess with any other when you have the master of dough making Anne Burrell’s at your fingertips. She is a master of all kinds of dough making plus so much more. I am going to share her recipe here because it’s really yummy and though it sounds like it takes a long time. The hands on part isn’t so you can do other things while the dough is rising. Next up is what to do with leftover focaccia bread as it really is a use it or lose it kind of bread.  Croutons? Breadcrumbs? Cheesy Garlic Bread? the possibilities… 
IMG_51911 ¾ cup warm water
1 package or 2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
5 cups all purpose flour plus some for kneading
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
Some coarse salt for sprinkling on top
1 cup extra virgin olive oil – ½ cup in the dough, ½ cup for pan

In a small bowl or the measuring cup combine the warm water, sugar and yeast. Let stand until the yeast bubbles this can take 5-15 minutes. If it doesn’t bloom/bubble start over.
IMG_5178Once ready add the flour, kosher salt, ½ cup olive oil into the yeast mixture. Using the dough hook mix on low until combined. Once the dough has come together and released from the sides. Continue to knead on medium speed for 5-6 minutes. If the dough is too sticky add a small amount of flour so you can handle it.
IMG_5179Transfer to a clean, lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times, if it is still too sticky sprinkle with a little flour.  Add a little olive oil to coat the bowl and add the dough back into the bowl to rise. Cover with plastic and put it in a warm place to allow it to double in size. This takes about an hour.
IMG_5180IMG_5181Coat your jelly roll pan with the other ½ cup of olive oil – if you are worried about it being too much, you can add less but you are making focaccia which is an oily crusty bread – just saying!
IMG_5183IMG_5185Add the dough to the pan and start pressing it so it fits into the pan. Flip the dough to make sure that the oil gets over all of it. Continue to work the dough in the shape of the pan. Using your fingers to make dents into the dough. I didn’t make actual dimple holes in the dough but I will the next time. Mine has dimples but they are not as defined as if I actually made the holes.
IMG_5190Place the tray in a warm place until it has doubled in size, which should take an hour. About 30-45 minutes in preheat your oven to 425’F.
IMG_5193Liberally sprinkle the top with some coarse salt and then lightly drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the loaf is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let it cool before cutting

Thank you Anne – you are a Rock Star

Easy Potato Salad

I have a confession to make; this week there was not a lot of cooking or baking go on in my house; at least by me. I have been writing my weekly food blog for 3+ years now and my “norm” is to make something, take pictures of it and if it comes out good I will share it with all of you. If it isn’t blog worthy I either make something else, pull out something else I might have made and not shared yet or will try to share an oldie but a goody from a couple of years ago. I am sharing my easy Potato Salad – but these are actual photos from this morning! I wanted some today!
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To clarify my comment above about no cooking by me my daughter spent her entire Monday making up lunches, snacks and a dinner. The rest of the meals were quick throw together meals and I would think most of you already have your own that you can quickly put together.
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We are currently have a long weekend as it being Memorial Day – I do want to give shout out to all of the Veterans out there Thank You for your service!
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There are going to be a lot of cookouts around here this weekend; probably not on Monday as they usually are because we are going to have another rain out of a day. We are close to having one of the wettest months of May on record Yeah us! We did get the gardens in though; so that is yeah us!
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My go to Potato Salad

red new potatoes
eggs
mayo
celery
Kens Zesty Italian
scallions

Dice the potatoes into the medium/small even pieces. Boil for about 10-15 minutes; depends on the size of the potato.

put your eggs in your pot and cover with water. bring to a boil, cover and turn off the heat, let sit for 13 minutes.  Move to a cold water bath to stop the cooking process. and Peel once you can handle them.

This is what works best for me. I always make more and once peeled the pretty ones I turn into deviled eggs, the other ones I make into egg salad.

Drain your potatoes and rinse a little in cold water just so you can handle them a little. Place the warm potatoes into a plastic bag and add just enough Italian dressing so that they all get a little taste of it. I used around 2-3 tablespoons. Place in the fridge to cool completely.
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once cooled add to a bowl big enough to mix and then you can put the salad in a nice bowl or a travel bowl. add the sliced egg, chopped celery and top with the chopped scallions.
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Sweet Italian Sausage with Roasted Garlic Pesto

If you have never lived in NH let me give you a quick overview of how quickly the weather can change in just a few days.  Last Sunday it poured and was around 60’F. Thursday was 92’F with 100% humidity; which to me means a seriously bad hair and this morning we woke to 40’F. That’s a week in the life of a New Hampshirite.  These are a few short reasons why I wait to plant the gardens.
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When making a new recipe that sounds good to me and in turn I am hoping that it is one I would ke to share with all of you. Sometimes I will take pictures so if the recipe turns out yummy. I can blog about it and have everything I need. In a perfect world that would probably work. Maybe I should have a camera set up in the kitchen at all times and automatically take pictures so I don’t have to “make sure” I do it. That would be a whole lot easier let me tell you.  
IMG_5140This last week I made the recipe I am going to share with you all and we all loved it. We even had it for lunch the next day and I think it was even better. Well I took a few pictures of the very first part; roasting the garlic; and never snapped another one. So last night I went to the store around 7 o’clock to get the 2 things I was missing so I could make it again and take pictures so I could blog about it today. See how dedicated I am to you; you’re welcome wink wink!
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I know the recipe is good when I share my thoughts with my husband and he is totally on board with eating the same dish in the same week. So this one will be on my go-to list as it is pretty quick, delicious and re-heats well. I think my guys ate it cold for lunch the next day and loved it. My kind of dish!
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Sweet Italian Sausage & Pesto Pasta

1 head of garlic – roasted
1 Package of Brocolini
1/3 or so cup of Olive Oil
1/4 cup or handful of Almonds
Pinch or so of red chili flakes
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
3/4 lb sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 pound package of medium shells
Kosher salt

slice the garlic in half, width wise, place in a small piece of tin-coil and drizzle the cut side with a little olive oil. loosely wrap the head and place in a 400′ oven for about 30-45 minutes. Once roasted let it cool before making the pesto.

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Using a food processor pulse the almonds until they are just broken up. add the rest of the ingredients minus the oil and pulse to combined. while the blade is running drizzle in enough olive oil to make it a loose paste.
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in a large pot fill with water; where you will be cooking your pasta and the broccolini.
generously salt the water, once it starts bubbling put in your broccolini for about a minute or two. remove to a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process.
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drop your pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than the package indicates; you will be finishing off the cooking in the pan with the other ingredients.
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in a large saute pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil once hot enough; just about to smoke; , add the sausage and break it down with either a wooden spoon or a potato masher until brown. add about a 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the pan and stir, getting up all the browned bits in the bottom of the pan.
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reserving some of the pasta water, drain your pasta and add it to the sausage pan. Add the pesto; toss to combine. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan.
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Adapted from Mario Batali The Chew Orecchiette with sweet sausage and rapini

Garden Salad

Good morning and Happy Mother’s day!

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Looking forward to seeing this again this year!

My Mother’s day plans were to be spent in the garden but apparently Mother Nature had other plans. Unfortunately we are not supposed to see the sun until Tuesday; insert sad face here.

The gardens were on the agenda since the kids asked what I wanted to do today and I figured why not tick off something from my “to do” list. And the gardens need a lot of love to get ready for planting in a couple of weeks; and manual labor is a precious gift; to me anyway.  Many OK maybe 10ish years ago this was the weekend when I would go buy all my flowers for the porch and veggies for the garden but after losing more plants and money than I care to share I now wait until Memorial Day and then I go out and buy and plant everything I want. That seems to be the safest in this neck of the woods.

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Although yesterday; while it was still pretty nice out my husband got all the beds ready for planting and throwing caution to the wind he ended up planting a few things like potatoes, onions, leeks, carrots, beets and shallots. I think we should be OK since they are in the soil versus a delicate plant above ground; though we will be watching the weather very closely.  I did see that 3 or 4 towns over awoke this morning to snow and power outages instead of rain YIKES!

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In anticipation of the yummy veggies coming out of our and possibly your hard work and dirty hands I want to re-share a quick and easy summer salad  that everyone loved.

 

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Best if you can make this first before you start whatever you are serving it with so it has time to meld and let the veggies soak up the dressing.

Summer Garden Salad

⅓ cup cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 small clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup sliced cherry, grape or like tomatoes
½ medium cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced thin
½ medium yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
¼ medium sweet onion sliced thin
Kernels from 1 ear of corn
1 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh basil

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the next diced/sliced 5 ingredients; stir well to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Stirring occasionally before serving. Garnish with the basil.

 

Homemade Cinnamon Roll under an hour

With Mother’s Day coming up next week I wanted to give you a breakfast or brunch option that tasted as good as it looked. It also needed to tick off a few of my important boxes; mainly using ingredients that most everyone has on hand; be pretty simple and not take you all morning to make.
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This is only the third homemade cinnamon roll I have ever made. My daughter reminded me that a few years ago while she was living in Japan we made maple bacon cinnamon rolls on Mother’s day. But my go-to; up until now; was my very old, very large white box bread maker. I’m sure some of you can envision the one I am talking about. That was what I used to make the dough for my cinnamon rolls. They always came out excellent but if I wanted to eat them in the morning for breakfast I had to get up around 5am so the machine could work it’s magic; as it took a couple of hours before I could roll out the dough; and then they had to rise for an hour or so. Needless to say I only made them on very special occasions.
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When my daughter came down in the morning and saw the cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven; which is truly the only way to eat them. Her first comment was ‘they look beautiful’ she proceeded to eat two of them. So they definitely passed the test. This recipe is really very easy that I think if you have little ones around they could definitely help you make them.
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IMG_5111Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ teaspoon instant yeast – or 1 packet
½ cup water
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Filing
½ stick unsalted butter softened/room temperature
2 tablespoons cinnamon
¼ cup brown sugar

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoon milk

Pre-heat your oven to 200’ and just before you place the rolls in the oven; turn it off.

I used my stand mixer but you can do this by hand

Making the dough: in a large bowl add the flour, sugar, salt and yeast; mix well. In a microwave safe bowl heat the milk, water and butter till the butter melts 30-40 seconds. Once melted stir into the flour mixture and the egg and knead until the the dough is no longer sticky roughly 3-4 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl to rest for 5 or 6 minutes.
IMG_5113Mix together the cinnamon and sugar for the filing. Roll out the dough after it is done resting; into a 15″x 9″ rectangle. Spread the softened butter on top and then sprinkle the sugar cinnamon mixture over the butter. Roll the dough on the 15” side tightly and cut into 9 large even pieces. Place them in a 9″x 9″ slightly greased pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the; turned off oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the plastic wrap and turn the oven up to 375’F. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are lightly browned.
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I lined my pan with parchment paper so I could lift the rolls out after baking

Make the glaze while the rolls are in the oven. Mix the powdered sugar, vanilla and use enough milk to make the glaze light enough for you to drizzle over the hot rolls when they come out of the oven.


Best served right out of the oven. They are OK re-heated but they do lose a little of their deliciousness. But I have never had any re-heated cinnamon roll that I truly loved.
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recipe adapted from: the recipe critic