I was surprised to look at my blogger dashboard today and see that this is my 600th post. My gosh, that's a lot of writing considering most of my posts are like essays! Have you noticed I'm trying to write more often? And I've been spending an hour in the morning and most times, an hour in the evening visiting blogs. It's a nice balance. I want to thank all of you ladies who have followed me on Instagram, I've followed all of you back (I think). I'm a little new with it all so bear with me. I'm also working on getting a Pinterest button on my pictures...the sort that pops up in the corner when you hover over the picture. It's difficult and I've failed a few times figuring it out. I thought everyone had a Pin it button their toolbar! Well, if I ever get the button up and running, I'll let you know.
I know most of you know Maria Elena from Our Home Away From Home. I was the lucky winner of one of her recent giveaways. If you know Maria, you have probably been amazed by her many talents...from crafting to sewing to decorating her beautiful home. One of the gifts I received (and packaged so prettily!) was a sweet collection of handmade gift tags. They are precious! I already have some ideas for using them with some homemade gifts of my own, and to give my little nieces to include in a few valentine's for their besties.
Maria makes the most beautiful pillows. The first three pictured here are the ones she made for me. I love the Paris theme on the fabric in the first one, and then the red and gray pick up those colors. I had a stash of pillows that I wasn't using so I just popped out the forms and everything fit! I love how bright they make my family room look on these dull days. Thank you, Maria!!
Oh, goodness (I can hear you saying), she's cooking again. I just don't know what else to do with myself all day long. I wake up to an empty house and then The Husband and Abby don't arrive home until about 6 or 7 p.m. I hope to get into a better routine by next week; gym first thing, cleaning, laundry, make ahead meals for the weekends and getting more reading in. I've felt like I've been floundering around since Christmas. I can't seem to focus on one thing for very long. When I'm busy running errands and preparing for this or that, I long for a lazy day at home. And then when I'm home for a day or two without plans, I'm climbing the walls. Do you feel that way at all in the winter or is it just me?
Last week Emily made a delicious and healthy pizza and I shared it with you on my last post. I was in Trader Joe's Wednesday for just a handful of things as I was in the area, and I saw a bag of arugula. I remembered Emily using it on her pizza, so I grabbed a bag along with some other things that sparked my idea for a healthy pizza and out the door I went with my little brown bags. This is a couple of big handfuls of arugula softening and shrinking in size in just a few tablespoons of water in a hot skillet. It literally takes about a half minute.
I've made pizza dough a few times but I was sort of intrigued by the bag of Trader Joe's fresh dough so I grabbed one. The instructions say to roll the dough out but believe me...that never works. Pizza dough needs to be stretched...that's why you have that iconic picture in your head of the Italian, mustached man in a chefs jacket, tossing and twirling the pie in the air. S-t-r-e-t-c-h it! Smack the ball of dough down in the middle of a lightly oiled pan. Use one hand to hold the pan down firmly and the other to push and pat the dough towards the edges. It will tear and you'll have holes but you just have to keep at it. Patience. ;-)
What I really wanted to fiddle with was the sauce. I've never made my own pizza sauce and I wondered, what's the difference between the sauce you might have on spaghetti or ravioli, and what you have on pizza? I scanned thorough a lot of recipes on the Internet and in some of my cookbooks. The common denominator? The texture, the use of tomato sauce and the addition of brown sugar for sweetness. The tomato sauce gives you a smooth creaminess that spreads well over the pie. I always use a pinch of sugar in my tomatoes when I make a sauce as they can be bitter when cooked slowly. Brown sugar is a bit of an earthy sweetness. The catch here is that I didn't have tomato sauce so I used a large can of crushed tomatoes. It's a different result but I'll happily make it again this way.
Healthy Pizza Sauce
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion, and 2 chopped garlic cloves. Saute until onion is softened. Add a large (14.5 oz) can of crushed tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of dried fennel, and a pinch of salt. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for a least an hour. Remove bay leaf.
I put the pizza together by spreading most of the sauce over the pie, then I added sliced mushrooms and arugula that I had steamed a bit together, sliced tomatoes, shredded pieces of Prosciutto, a palmful each of Parmesan and Mozzarella. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before cutting. This was so good. I wish I had doubled the sauce to freeze. Next time!
Tomorrow we are leaving for downtown at about 9:00 a.m. And wouldn't you know it..my area has not seen more that 3 inches of snow since winter hit. And this weekend they are warning us of a blizzard!! Well, as our weather people say, "A winter storm warning." Well, I have a warning! This is my 'winter weekend birthday' and no amount of snow is stopping us. Take that, you 5-9 inches of white stuff!
I'll be back next week to tell you all about it.