Baker Stone Pizza Oven Box

When we were planning our new backyard living area the Hubs was contemplating building a pizza oven. While I love pizza, I just didn’t feel that we would use it enough to justify the cost. 

After researching alternative options to a built in pizza oven, we decide to purchase the Baker Stone Pizza Oven Box. 

So. Glad. We. Did! For right around $120 we now have an amazing little pizza oven that works right in our existing gas grill.  

This oven cooks a beautiful pizza in about 5 minutes and the crust turns out beautifully baked and toppings are cooked to perfection. 

We have had fun pizza parties with the kids and grandkids and everyone gets to choose their own toppings. There are a ton of great recipes on Pinterest to try and believe me, I have pinned a bunch for future use. This Apple Cheddar Rosemary Bacon from climbinggriermountain.com has become one of our favorites. 

I highly recommend this pizza oven as an addition to your backyard cooking options. You will not be disappointed. 

Oven Baked Cranberry Maple Crusted Chicken with Roasted Veggies

I am loving finding ways to use Cucina Antica Cranberry Sauce in my cooking. It has such a fresh taste and is so so pretty!

I pulled some ingredients out of the pantry, fridge and freezer to come up with this tasty meal. The combination of the savory breading on the chicken and the tart cranberry sauce and the sweet maple syrup was scrumptious. Oven roasted veggies are one of our favorites also. If you haven’t tried roasted broccoli, get on it! Ah-maze-ing! We gobbled it up pretty fast.

Roasting the veggies on the same pan as the chicken made clean up a breeze. The Hubs likes that since we sort of have an understanding. I cook, he cleans up! Win/win. He was used to doing dishes when he was working in the fire station so he doesn’t mind. (Or I like to think he doesn’t mind!)

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did. Let me know if you make it.

Oven Baked Cranberry Maple Crusted Chicken with Roasted Veggies

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts

1 egg

1/3 c milk

1/3 c flour

1/3 c pinko bread crumbs

1/2 Tbsp Malibu seasoning

Carrots

Broccoli

Granulated garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

Cucina Antica Cranberry Sauce

Maple syrup for drizzle

 

Preheat oven to 400º.

Mix egg and milk with a fork in a small bowl.

Put flour in another small bowl.

Mix bread crumbs and Malibu seasoning in a third bowl.

Lay out carrots and broccoli on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and granulated garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

Dip a chicken breast in the egg/milk mixture to coat. Move to bowl with flour in it and coat with flour. Put back in the egg/milk mixture to coat again. Dip in the Panko/Malibu seasoning mixture to coat.

Drizzle some olive oil on the part of the sheet pan where you are putting the chicken and lay chicken in pan. Repeat with second chicken breast.

Place sheet pan in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until chicken registers 165º on instant read thermometer. Stir the veggies halfway through the cooking time.

Top with Cucina Antica Cranberry Sauce and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Serve with Cheesy Polenta.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Lemony Asparagus, Orzo and Ham Salad

Still have leftover ham from Easter! And leftover uncooked asparagus as well. Fridge is bulging.

Good thing the Hubs has his weekly card game tonight because it is time to use this stuff up. This salad is what I came up with.

This salad looks super fresh and pretty. Beautiful colors in it. Look at those lovely little bits of red pepper peeking out! The lemon vinaigrette that I found online gives it a nice zingy taste.

You really could add anything you like to this salad, making it the perfect “clean out the fridge” salad. I’m thinking broccoli and chicken, asparagus and salmon, make it vegetarian by leaving out the meat. Whatever your little heart desires!

I like to use DeLallo whole wheat pasta in cold salads because it has a little nutty flavor and it stands up to sitting in the dressing. It keeps that nice little bite. But, you could use any pasta you choose.

The toasted pine nuts add a nice little crunch and the avocado finishes it off perfectly. Yum yum!

Hope you enjoy this salad. It really is a “no-brainer!”

Lemony Asparagus, Orzo and Ham Salad

1 1/2 c  DeLallo whole wheat orzo

1/4 c finely chopped red onion

1/2 c medium chopped red pepper

1 rib celery finely chopped

1 lb asparagus, woody part removed, chopped into 1 in. pieces

1 c chopped ham

This dressing. Use the entire amount made. (The only thing that I changed on the dressing recipe is that I just dumped all of the ingredients in a mason jar and gave it a good shaking. So easy!)

One avocado cubed

1/3 c toasted pine nuts

Lemon zest for garnish if desired.

Directions

Bring 3 quarts lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and bring back to a boil. Cook orzo for 8 min then add chopped asparagus and cook two more minutes.

Remove from heat and drain.

Mix orzo and asparagus mixture in large bowl with all other ingredients except for the avocado. Let chill in fridge for at least 4 hours. Gently stir in avocado  and pine nuts just before serving. Garnish with lemon zest.

Pulled Pork Anyone?

Pulled pork salad made from leftover Apple Juice Brined Pulled Pork

The stars recently aligned perfectly for the most amazing string of dinners! We recently hosted a couples bridal shower for our son and his soon to be wife. They will be married in May and will blend two families into one big “Brady Bunch”. She has four kids, he has two. “Here’s the story of a lovely lady……” Now I bet that song will be stuck in your head all day.

We did a bbq theme with pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, and a s’mores bar for dessert . It was super fun.

Getting s’more supplies ready.
I cooked the pulled pork on our Traeger Wood Fire Grill the day before the shower. This is the recipe I used. They have so many great recipes on their site and so far every one is a winner. If you do not have a Traeger, I highly recommend checking them out. The Hubs bought it at Costco because he HAD to have it. Even though we have a perfectly good gas grill and at the time we had and electric smoker as well. At first I didn’t see why we needed it so desperately.

This is the model we bought at Costco.
And then I cooked on it! Let’s just say that I LOVE IT and we DID need it! Everything, and I mean everything, that I have cooked on it has been so so good. I have made ribs, tri tip roast, pork loin roast, pork chops, steaks, salmon, prime rib, roasted whole chickens, and I even cooked our turkey this Thanksgiving on it. Actually, I cook on it WAY more than the Hubs does. We even gave our electric smoker to one of our sons because we don’t need it anymore. The Traeger can do it all.

But, I digress. Back to the pulled pork. I made way to much for the shower. I am terrible at figuring out amounts of food to have for a crowd. I always (not an exaggeration) cook too much. I bought 28 pounds of pork shoulder for 30 or so people. I could have got away with about 10 less pounds. Hence, leftover pork.

Not to worry. We made more sandwiches for dinner one night. The really pretty pulled pork salad above for another night. Pulled pork tacos last night. And last tonight we used up the remainder for pork and cabbage (my favorite).

I served the pork and cabbage over brown rice with a side of the left over watermelon and it was delish!

Here is how I made it:

Pork and Cabbage Easy Style

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 Tbsp grape seed or canola oil

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 cups leftover pulled pork

1 small head of cabbage medium shredded

Soy sauce to taste

Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Heat grape seed oil in large sauté pan. Add onion and garlic and sauté for about 4-5 minutes until onions are soft. Add toasted sesame oil and pork and heat pork through stirring frequently. Once pork is heated through add the cabbage. It will look like a lot of cabbage but it shrinks down as it cooks. Continue cooking and stirring frequently until cabbage is cooked. Add soy sauce to taste as you are cooking the cabbage. Make sure to leave the cabbage with a little “bite” to it so it doesn’t taste soggy.

Serve over brown rice with a little sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.

Enjoy! And check out those Traegers next time you see them at Costco!

 

 

 

 

Let’s Bake Those Hot Cross Buns!

So. Those hot cross buns I made for my book club. Yep. Gotta say, they were delish!

I adapted a recipe from The Pioneer Woman that I found here. I do love the PW. I think her and I could be besties. Hey Ree! I played with the ingredients a bit to use stuff that I had on hand so I didn’t have to run out to the grocery store in my jammies.

I messed up a step when I was adding the yeast so I started a second batch just in case. Even with the mess up both batches were yummy. I ended up with about 48 buns. The neighbors were happy to receive the extras! (It also helps placate them while we have construction going on in our backyard.) The construction guys were pretty happy to get some also. It takes energy to pound those nails.

First I heated up some condensed milk, water, canola oil, and sugar to just under a boil. I let it cool for awhile until it was about 120°. You need it about this temperature for the yeast to do its magic when you sprinkle it in. I forgot to sprinkle the yeast on the liquids before I mixed in the flour on the first batch! Wasn’t sure what was going to happen but it was all good!

After adding some of the dry ingredients it was time to let it rise for a bit. I like to use Pillsbury flour when I do my baking. It gives me consistent results and I trust the brand.

Multiple risings going on here. Look at those cute towels. That is my Grandma Jessie’s cornbread recipe on them!

After the rise and adding a bit more of the dry ingredients it was time to turn the dough out on to the counter and incorporate the cinnamon sugar and raisins. This was a fun step. Play Doh anyone?

I formed the dough into golf ball sized pieces and placed them on the cookie sheet and let them rise again.

Then it was time to brush them with the glaze, pop them in the oven, let them cool, and drizzle that yummy frosting cross on them.

This recipe makes buns that are light, almost croissant-like. The cinnamon sugar/raisin ratio is perfect. So so good with a cup (or two) of good coffee in the morning.

Let me know if you try them for your Easter festivities this year. These will for sure be a part of our tradition from now on!

Books and Buns Hot Cross Buns

Yield: about 24 buns

1  12oz can Carnation® Evaporated milk

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup C&H sugar

1 package fast rising yeast (2 1/4 tsp)

4 cups Pillsbury All-purpose Flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup raisins

1 egg white

Splash of heavy cream

ICING

1/4 cup warm water

1 TBSP light corn syrup

1/4 tsp almond extract

3 cups powdered sugar

Combine the evaporated milk, water, canola, and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Heat over med low heat while stirring to just under a boil. Set aside and let cool to 120°.

Transfer liquid to a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over liquid. Add 4 cups of flour and mix until combined. Dough will be sticky. Cover with a really cute towel and let rise for one hour.

Mix 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Add to dough and stir until combined.

Combine cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar in small bowl.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press to flatten a bit. Sprinkle a third of the cinnamon sugar and a third of the raisins on top. Fold the dough over on itself and flatten it again. Repeat with a sprinkling of a third of the cinnamon sugar and a third of the raisins. Fold it again and repeat the sprinkles one more time. Fold it again.

Put a little bit of flour on your hands and roll golf ball sized rolls. Turn the edges of the balls under themselves slightly to get a nice rounded shape. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and cover and let rise one hour in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 400°

Mix egg white with a splash of heavy cream and brush on each bun when they have finished rising.

Bake for 16-18 minutes or until tops of buns are deep golden brown.

Remove from pan and all to cool on a cooling rack.

Make icing:

Stir warm water, corn syrup and almond extract in a small bowl until syrup have dissolved. Add liquid to the powered sugar and beat with a hand mixer until smooth.

Once buns are cooled, scoop icing into a small zippered sandwich bag and snip the corner a little bit. Make the crosses with the icing on each bun.

 

 

 

 

 

Books and Buns

Book club! Who’s in one? I LOVE mine. We just celebrated the nine year anniversary of ours. We call ourselves the WWWW. Wacky Wednesday Wino Weaders. Let me tell you, we have fun.

Look at that wine glass! Perfect for our WWWW.

There are seven of us in our book club. We are all neighbors. Last night we were reminiscing about how when we started we were really just acquaintances. A friendly wave to each other and neighborly chit chat was about the extent of our relationship.

Over these last nine years we have developed a special bond that we each treasure. We know that if any one of us needed something the others would be right there for us.

We have read 93 books together. Some amazing ones. Some ok ones. Some not so amazing ones. We have laughed, cried, agreed, disagreed and had some great wine (I mean discussions!).

So what, do you ask, do those hot cross buns pictured above have to do with books. I will tell you!

The book that we read for last night’s meeting was “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty. It was a great book and we all gave it the thumbs up. The story is set in Australia and part of the story takes place on Good Friday. Well, I guess everyone in Australia eats hot cross buns on Good Friday because for a while in the book it seems like every single character is eating one! The author made them sound so good. I am telling you, it gave me a craving for one, even though I really couldn’t remember ever eating hot cross bun. So I HAD to make some to take last night. Because…… carbs, cinnamon, raisins, frosting. I think we may have a new Good Friday tradition in our house!

Do you like to read? Are you in a book club? I highly recommend it!