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Monthly Archives: May 2013

White Pizza with Chicken and Fresh Herbs

White Pizza with Chicken and Fresh Herbs

Homemade pizza is a pretty regular meal in our house. Chances are good that we have a ball or two of pizza dough in the freezer and a can of tomatoes in the pantry. From there, we add whatever we’ve got on hand – pepperoni or salami, some herbs, tomatoes, peppers, etc. Even though I plan out each week’s menu, it’s nice to have something to fall back on for those nights that what I planned to cook isn’t doing it for me. This pizza, on the other hand, was placed on the menu with purpose. I’ve been eager to make it for a while, and after eating it, I’m ready to make it again.

This was Clara’s first time eating pizza, and she went absolutely crazy for this one. This pizza starts out with an incredibly tasty white sauce and is topped with mozzarella, shredded chicken, red onion and lots of fresh herbs. There’s extra white sauce for dipping, if you’re into that (and if you’re not, this sauce may change your mind). Light isn’t something I normally think of when it comes to pizza, but this one certainly has that feeling. Sure there’s a rich white sauce, but the pizza itself isn’t at all greasy or overly cheesy. It’s a good summer pizza because we can take advantage of all the fresh herbs growing in our garden. It’s fun to change things up a bit from the traditional tomato sauce based pizza, but this combination isn’t so crazy that people who lean toward more traditional pizzas won’t enjoy it. And even though there are countless pizza topping and sauce combinations, it will be a while before we try another because this one is just that good.

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Grilled Chicken Salad with Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette

Grilled Chicken Salad with Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette

Just over two months from now, this blog will celebrate its fifth birthday (anniversary?). I have been thinking about this date a lot. I’m horrible about over thinking things and wondering what I could have done differently over a given amount of time (my birthday and New Years Eve do this to me too). In the time that I’ve had my blog, I’ve moved, become a homeowner, become a mom, had friends come and go, met friends through my blog, received kind words from readers when I most needed them and a thousand other minor things that I won’t list. I’ve also watched the way people blog change. Maybe it was the rise of Pinterest or the fact that companies realized food bloggers were a good way to gain an audience or something else entirely. Instead of just writing a post, it seems as though now I have to worry about analytics and how many comments I get and backup ads and perfectly styled photos and how to time my tweets and gain more followers on Pinterest. When I started this blog in 2008, I didn’t anticipate being concerned, or feeling like I should be concerned, about those things.

When thinking about how this blog has grown and changed over the past five years, my first thought isn’t pride. It’s inadequacy. I wonder why my blog hasn’t grown as much as another, maybe one that’s been around for less time. There was once a time I didn’t compare my blog to others, but I’ve had difficulty stopping myself lately. I ask myself  what I’m doing wrong. Are my words, my pictures, simply not good enough? And if that’s the case, why do I keep putting them out there? The answer to that is simple. I love blogging. I love the friendships it has brought me, the world of food it has opened up to me, the photography skills I’ve learned because of it. When I started this blog, I had no intention of getting any traffic, hosting giveaways, attending a blogging conference or even becoming friends with other bloggers. I started this blog was for one simple reason – to have a place to save recipes we enjoyed and be able to easily share them with other people. My blog has grown more than I ever expected it to, so I’m not sure why I started caring that it hasn’t grown as much as someone else’s. I’ve gained so much from it that I can’t even imagine what my life would be like if I had never started it. And who says traffic is indicative of success? Have you seen my early blog photos? The fact that the ones I have now are so much better makes it clear to me that I have been successful in improving my photography. My early writing was awful, too. I’ve definitely grown as a writer. So instead of looking back and wondering how I could have gone further, I’m going to look back and see how far I’ve come. Eric told me a couple months ago, “The truth is, it’s a game and you don’t like playing. You just like making pretty things.” So that’s it. I’m out. I’m over it. I just want to make delicious food, take pretty pictures of it and share them with all of you. That’s what I’ve been trying to do all along. Somehow, recently, the other stuff seemed to take more and more time away from doing that. I didn’t plan on telling you guys any of this, but I knew something was wrong when I debated sharing this recipe because I didn’t get a picture of the dressing. Really?! What a dumb reason.

Chipotle has become our go-to takeout place. I really love burrito bowls and was planning to make them at home recently. We ended up having a heavy lunch that day, so I decided to change things up and make Chipotle-inspired salads for dinner instead. We already had all the ingredients on hand, so it was easy to switch up our dinner plans. This dressing is sweet and smoky, with a little tang from the red wine vinegar and lime juice. I think it would be fantastic on any salad, not just a Tex-Mex one. We haven’t bought bottled salad dressings in years, and this is why. It’s so incredibly easy to whip them up at home, and you can totally customize them to your liking.

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Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits

Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits

I’ve mentioned countless times my love of weekend breakfasts. This time of year, our Saturday mornings are usually spent at the farmers market, grabbing breakfast from our favorite food trucks and coffee from a local roaster before walking around the market. Sundays, though, are usually spent getting extra snuggles from Clara and making a leisurely breakfast. I love days like that and want to soak up as many of them as I possibly can. I’m sure plenty of people, some of our friends included, would find this weekend routine boring, but I really don’t care. I love mornings the three of us spend together, and those mornings are why I eagerly await the weekend.

Last weekend Eric made one of our favorite biscuit recipes, one that I’ve been meaning to share with all of you for a really long time. They’re drop biscuits, which means they come together in no time and are incredibly easy to make. This recipe uses chipotle powder and cheddar cheese, making these biscuits perfect for breakfast or brunch or as a side at lunch or dinner. The chipotle flavor is intense, but the smokiness and heat are offset by a generous smearing of honey butter. The smoky-sweet combo is hard to beat, and these are especially fantastic served alongside bacon. I thought the spice level would be too high for Clara to enjoy these, but she took a bite out of mine and immediately wanted more. Fair warning: these are highly addictive, and you may just find yourself snacking on one at lunch time after eating two at breakfast. Not that I’d know or anything.

Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits

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Waffles of Insane Greatness

Waffles of Insane Greatness

I have a weakness for breakfast food. I always have. Not feeling well? Breakfast for dinner. In a meal planning rut? Breakfast for dinner. Weekend morning? Breakfast that actually involves cooking. You get my point. The only problem I ever have when it comes to breakfast foods is whether I should eat/make something sweet or something savory. In the end, sweet usually wins out. Just look at my breakfast category. One thing that I’ve failed to post until now is a waffle recipe. I have to apologize because I’ve kind of been holding out on you guys. This recipe has been our favorite for years, but honestly I don’t really feel like taking blog photos first thing in the morning so it never got photographed. Yes I’m a blogger and I probably shouldn’t admit that, but I like to keep it real. Eric made a batch of these for Mother’s Day, and since it was later than usual (thanks for sleeping in, Clara!), I took a picture of the one remaining waffle after we all ate.

These waffles are my favorite for a number of reasons. The texture is perfect – slightly crisp on the outside and light on the inside. The flavor is mild – good enough to eat on its own but also a wonderful base for things like Nutella, peanut butter or just maple syrup. I also like that these waffles aren’t overly sweet. And perhaps my favorite reason for loving this recipe so much is that Clara also loves it. We made these for Christmas morning breakfast and again for her first birthday, and watching her eat them is seriously one of the cutest things ever. She eats hers plain with a side of fruit. Eric and I aren’t as healthy in our waffle consumption. For those times I don’t feel like slathering my waffle in Nutella and loading it with fruit and eating it like a taco (or, as Eric and I refer to it, a wafco), it is perfect for eggs, cheese and a couple slices of crispy bacon. As we ate these Sunday morning, we dreamed up all the combinations we could make if we had a waffle food truck. Since we had so many ideas, I’m sure we’ll be having these for breakfast again soon so that we can test them out.

Waffles of Insane Greatness

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Piña Colada Cupcakes

Piña Colada Cupcakes

With Mother’s Day just a couple of days away, I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood and what kind of mom I am to Clara. Truthfully, I think about this topic quite a bit. Apparently I’m better at thinking about it than writing about it, though, because I sat at the computer for over an hour trying to figure out how to put into words something that I feel so deeply and I totally failed. I wish I had something profound to tell you, some eloquent way to articulate the thoughts that float through my head on occasion, but even though I have a blog, I think it’s clear that recipe making, not writing, is my gift. So let me tell you this. Motherhood is many things to me and has made me feel more emotions simultaneously than I ever thought possible. It’s wonderful, exhilarating, terrifying, exhausting, laughter-inducing, tear-inducing, hilarious and a bundle of other feelings I’m surely forgetting. And my biggest hope through it all is that Clara goes to bed at night knowing she is completely and unabashedly loved.

We don’t have big plans for Mother’s Day here. Eric is making breakfast (waffles with Nutella and strawberries, yum) and we’ll hopefully do something outside together, all three of us. That’s just the way I like it, but I totally understand wanting a break for the day too. While this cupcake can’t take over mom’s duties for the day, it can offer her a taste of a tropical getaway. It’s a coconut cake brushed with pineapple syrup and then topped with a silky pineapple Swiss meringue buttercream. Topped with a cherry and a drink umbrella, this cupcake is about as close to the real thing as you can get without needing a straw. I made these cupcakes for a neighborhood block party and was told they were “the hit of the party,” so I promise you they’ll be making more appearances around here in the near future.

PS – Don’t forget you’ve got until Sunday to enter my giveaway from Anolon!

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