Barbecue Chicken Pizza

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We all have traits that we inherit honestly.  For instance, I inherited my sense of humor, love of cheese,  and coloring from my father and my sweet dance moves, sociability, and cheek bones from my mother.

We also have traits that we are unable to account for their roots. Like my inability to whistle. Or my love for sentence fragments.

I don’t think I inherited my pizza obsession.  It is a personal trait that is not genetic: My husband is happy as long as he has a slice in his hand. I think his trait has rubbed off on me and I cannot even begin to complain. 

Because of this, I make pizza a lot. Since I make pizza a lot, I often feel the need to experiment.

Usually when I experiment, I decide to treat my friends as if they were guinea pigs and try out my new recipes on them. This one received rave reviews, so I have decided to share it with you all!

Happy Pizza-ing!

Barbecue Chicken Pizza (beer not included, but encouraged)
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 chicken breast, pan fried and shredded
1 cup kale, chopped
2 TBS butter, melted
Cornmeal (for a pizza peel)
 Pizza dough:
1 TBS instant yeast
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup water (at approximately 115 degrees) 
2 + cups bread flour
Directions:
1. Combine the yeast, sugar, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add the water, whisking the ingredients altogether, and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes (to proof the yeast!). 
2.  Add the flour and mix until the dough pulls away from the bowl (depending upon the humidity, you may need more than 2 cups of flour), kneading it a few times. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and allow it to rise for an hour.  
3. Punch down the pizza dough to deflate it.
4. Preheat your oven (preferably with a baking stone) for 500 degrees. If you do not have a baking stone, grease a pizza pan. 
5. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the kale and cook until it has softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside. 
6. Once the oven as completed preheating, pull the dough from the bowl, and knead it a few times on a well-floured surface. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thickness. 
7. Pour the melted butter on top of the rolled out dough (ooo, yum, decadent). Drizzle on half of the barbecue sauce. Top with the caramelized onions, kale, and chicken. Finish with drizzling the remaining barbecue sauce. 
8. (If using a baking stone, cornmeal your pizza peel) Put pizza into the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it every minute or so after you hit the 5 minute mark, to make sure it doesn’t overcook! 
9. Slice and enjoy!

A Neighborhood Chili Cook-Off & Smoked Gouda Crackers

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My beautiful boss and I decided to enter our neighborhood Chili Cook-off recently under the name of the flower shop.

I had so much fun coming up with this recipe with my boss. I sat on the flower shop floor as we talked it into existence. We created this beauty out of thin air. And giggled along the way.

Did I mention that I love my job?!

There was a ton of great chili to be had entered by restaurants and other non-restaurant businesses, as well as neighborhood folks! 

We made a chili using ground buffalo. Delicious!!! We won People’s Choice! I did a happy dance. Twice

We had a secret ingredient. Secret ingredients require a James-Bond-like stealthiness. You want it to enhance your recipe, but be undetectable as it is a secret! I always wanted to say that there was a secret ingredient in something that I had created and now I can!

I would share with the recipe for our super amazing chili, but I’d have to kill you. Remember I said there was a secret ingredient?! And I like having you around.  Also, I may need to use this recipe as a bargaining chip in the event I am kidnapped by a mob of bandit ninjas.

…..But I will totally fork over the cracker recipe.

The crackers ended up being a perfect accompaniment to the chili. Everyone is used to eating cornbread with their chili. I love cornbread. It’s delicious, but pretty typical. And I live to be a-typical. So, these crackers were a great way of introducing a cheesy cornmeal flavor without being cornbread!

Smoked Gouda Crackers

Adapted from Allrecipes
Yields: A ton of crackers. 



Ingredients:
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup smoked gouda, shredded
1/4 cup milk

Directions:
1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
3. Sift together the cornmeal, flour, and salt.
4. Cut in the butter (I recommend using your fingers.. you get to play with your food. I need any excuse I can to play with my food. And you get to make sure that the butter is really well incorporated, which is an added bonus).
5. Stir in the cheese and add the milk.
6. Knead the dough a few times to make sure it’s well incorporated.
7. Roll out on a well-floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into your desired cracker shape.
8. Place onto your prepared baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Scrambled Falafel Pitas

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Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying that “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” This is potentially the most profound statement ever made. However, I find Benjamin Franklin’s thought process to be incomplete. There are several other items that he neglected to mention that are gifts from on high illustrating that we are to be joyful creatures, and they are as follows (and in no particular order):
         1. Duane Allman’s guitar
         2. Downton Abbey
         3. Nude high heels
         4. Chickpeas
Chickpeas are awesome. Chickpeas make hummus possible… and veggie burgers… and falafel.
Falafel is delicious. I was unaware of falafel’s existence until I was in college.  When I would hear people talking about it, I thought that they were referring to a foot fungus they had caught in the community shower.
Boy was I wrong….

Scrambled Falafel Pitas
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup of dried chickpeas, **soaked in water overnight**
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 cup kale, chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup hummus
4 pitas, halved
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Drain the chickpeas and place into a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, cumin, and coriander until they are broken down, make sure not to puree them. Set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, cooking until translucent (about 3 to 5 minutes).
3. Add the chickpeas and stir to combine with the onions (think scrambled eggs). Allow the chickpeas to lightly brown, stirring occasionally (may be 5 to 7 minutes).
4. Add the kale and peppers, cooking until the kale softens, about 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Spread hummus on the pitas and add the falafel scramble.
6. Nomnomnom.

A Tuscan-Inspired Day

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Here is a glimpse at an arrangement I put together today. The request was for the the blooms to capture a Tuscan feel. The sun’s affable rays came lovingly shown into the shop, and for a moment I thought that I was ‘Under the Tuscan Sun.’
If only I lived in the house that Frances did. 
Oh, and had her face. 

Happy Friday! 

One for my Husband: Irish Soda Bread (2 ways!)

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My husband has a great name.

Tim Malloy. 

It’s sturdy. It’s timeless. And also quite Irish.

This time of year brings out the pride of those having Irish ancestry, especially in Philadelphia. Beer and mustaches are dyed green for the feast day of St. Patrick. The St. Patty’s Day Parade is also a time of great celebration in the streets of Philadelphia.

Great. But, what does this have to do with my husband?

Very often people will comment on how Irish his name is, the comments reach a height during the month of March. This is most likely because his name is undistinguishable from the name of an old catholic gang from the 1920s in Glasgow, “Timalloy” or Tim Malloys, associated with the Celtic Football Club. This term is now used as a nickname for the fans of that football club, often shortened as “Tims.”

I did not grow up in a house full of Irish Soda Bread and other great Irish treats around the 17th of March, particularly because I am not of Irish heritage (ah, makes sense, right?). And, being of Irish descent, my husband did. So, this time of year, I always try to make a little something for him to enjoy and this Irish Soda Bread was it!

This one is for my husband! Éirinn go brách, Tim Malloy!! :)

Irish Soda Bread (2 Ways)
Yields 6 to 8 servings



Ingredients:
3.5 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup raisins, optional
1 and 1/4 to 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk //or// a dairy-free version: 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups soy milk or almond milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and grease a cast-iron skillet.
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients. *If doing the dairy-free version: combine the vinegar and soy milk, and allow it to stand for 3-5 minutes to curdle.
3. Slowly add the milk, stirring until a dough forms. It may take between 1 and 1 and 1/2 cups, depending upon the humidity.
4. Knead the dough for about 10 seconds, form into a ball and place into the prepared skillet.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

207 calories   |   1g fat    |    6g protein

A Spring-like Day in the Flower Shop

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The door of the shop is open to let in the soft March breeze. It is so difficult to imagine that we aren’t already in the bosom of spring. The flower shop emits a sweet scent that makes the mind wander off to a far away place. I open my eyes and realize that there is no other place that I would rather be.

A young sparrow hops in to say hello and see which flowers we have in stock.

The memory of this kind of day is one that I keep in my back pocket to pull out on a rainy and gloomy day.

Avocado Brownies

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Recently, my husband had to travel for work. I must admit, I am not a fan of this aspect of his job. I got married for a reason other than doing twice the laundry; having a hunk in your presence consistently is quite enjoyable, even if folding his underwear is tiresome.

After he left for the airport, I found myself at the intersection of melancholy and excitement, initially unsure of where to go. Until I remembered that I could watch a marathon of incredibly sappy girly movies. And stuff my face while doing it, all while wearing stained sweats and yesterday’s makeup.

 {{{Bliss}}}

I had my movies lined up and an overall disheveled appearance. The remaining piece to the puzzle was the face stuffant.

-In comes avocado brownies-

I have been on a bit of an avocado kick lately and these delectable treats found a place in my heart.

They also got some great reviews from friends!

…Steer clear of eating a lot of these and later stepping on the scale. I’d say it’s inadvisable. I speak from experience. Just share them with your friends.

Avocado Brownies
Adapted from About.com
Yields: 10 to 12 servings



Ingredients:
1 avocado, mashed
2 cups All-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk- cow’s, almond, or soy
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line all sides of a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl.
3. Combine the avocado, vanilla, milk, water, and chocolate chips. Add to the dry ingredients.
4. Mix until well-combined and pour into prepared baking dish.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean!

Remember Me?

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Hello? Is this mic on? 
Oh good, it is… Hey! Hi! Remember me?
I know, I know, it’s been a while.  I assure you that my absence has been with reason. I have heard about some of the rumors circulating, and wish to address them. I promise that none of them are true.
– I was not abducted by a mob of bandit ninjas.
– My husband and I didn’t flee to Colombia, because we are running from my husband’s past of being a former bandit ninja.
– Nor did I become a lounge singer in Atlantic City.
All of those things are great in their own right, and would make for a fabulous novel, but simply did not occur (although the last one would be awesome).  You see the truth is that I got a new job. It’s great!! I work in a flower shop in my neighborhood! Beautiful things and wonderful scents endlessly surround me. I lead a tough life; it’s often difficult to get out of bed in the morning, but I am somehow managing.
I jest. In fact, I have never been quite so happy! It has taken some time to fully adjust to my new schedule and commute (walking three blocks is quite taxing, I assure you), so I have consequently allowed my blogging to slack.
But, never fear! I am back and here to talk to you about something that has been on my mind.
AVOCADOES.
Avocadoes are simply delicious. Slice them up and put them into a sandwich or wrap.  Or mash them up and serve with chips. Or just simply look at ‘em.
Well, that’s what I did recently. I stared at a halved avocado and realized what a true beauty the vegetable is! She’s a beaut! Green and yellow and just… so… purty.


It just has a perfect shape! Thin up top and thicker on the bottom. Not quite sure where I have seen that before. Oddly close to a pear shape, which is what I see when I look into the mirror.  Oh yes, I recognize it now!
Therefore I have resigned myself to make into existence the “avocado shape.”  And I’m going to be the first to personify this, as it is so much more than a shape, but a state of mind. 
Imagine what it would have done for JLo’s career if she had claimed to be avocado shaped and not pear shaped. 
She would have been a star, I tell ya! 

Roasted Lavender Chickpeas

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Snacks are good. 
Snacks are delicious.
Some snacks are bad for you.
Others, nutritious. 
I love snacks.
I’m not telling a lie.
I will forever adore snacks.
‘Til the day I die.
You are my friends. 
And I love you.
Hence forth I will share
My roasted chickpea recipe.
I know. That last line didn’t rhyme. Let me rework that one, ahem:
You are my friends. 
And I love you thee.
Hence forth I will share
My roasted chickpea recipe.

Roasted Lavender Chickpeas
Yields: 1 to 2 servings
Ingredients:
12 oz can of chickpeas / garbanzo beans, rinsed
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 & 1/2 TBS dried lavender 
Pinch of salt
Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the ingredients. 
3. Spread chickpeas onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, keep an eye on the chickpeas, to make sure that they don’t burn! 


My Niece’s First Birthday Party

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My niece turned one this weekend. 
{{{ONE}}}
How on earth did this kid just turn one? I mean, I swear she was just born. 

How did she go from this?

To this?

Hey! Hey kid!! Slow down. The fact that you are a year older means that I am a year older, too!

Yowza. Is that a new wrinkle I see? I need Tums.

Impeccable resemblance between Miss Alexandra and one of Degas’ dancers! *wink*

My sister beautifully picked out a Sesame Street theme for Miss Alexandra’s party. It was adorable.

And when it came time for the smash cake? My niece was a perfect little lady! :) She most delicately ate the cake!

Happy Birthday Alexandra Noelle!!