Friday, May 30, 2014

Grilled Pizza

Here's a little something to shake up your summertime grill menu. While of you were probably grilling hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken on the grill during Memorial Day weekend, we opted for pizza. 

Pizza. On the grill. I cannot express how deliciously different it is. 

We attempted this method a couple of years ago during our days in Illinois but we failed miserably and didn't do it correctly. But thanks to dear friends, we now know how to throw a pizza on the grill. It's actually much easier than it sounds and I am here to tell you that the end result is unlike any pizza you have probably ever eaten. It's slightly smokey and has a unique chewy quality that I don't get when I use my pizza stone in the oven. Homemade pizza dough takes this above and beyond so while you're trying something new, try two new things. Make your own dough, then grill it. My Neapolitan Pizza Dough will not disappoint.

We topped one pizza with a thin layer of homemade marinara, sweet Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, slivered red onions and mozzarella. Pizza number two featured my favorite of all pizza toppings; arugula, mushrooms, prosciutto and mozzarella. Pizza on the screened in porch with wine, good friends and our newly hung bistro lights made for a lovely Italian Sunday night.

If you haven't grilled your pizza, you haven't lived.

Grilled Pizza

1 batch Neapolitan Pizza Dough (or your favorite pizza dough)
olive oil for brushing
pizza toppings of your choice

Fire up your grill!

Split pizza dough in half, to create two pizzas. Roll out dough to desired size and thickness on a floured surface.

Brush the top side of the crust with olive oil. Transfer pizza to the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. The dough will bubble up like a pancake. Remove from grill, flip over onto a flat surface, and top with pizza toppings. Transfer pizza back onto the grill and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpea + Kale Salad

Cauliflower often gets the shaft when it comes to vegetables and it really isn't fair. I'm sure many of you grew up eating it boiled or steamed resulting in a somewhat mushy and blah blob and then, well, I don't blame you for not liking it. But roasting it? Roasting cauliflower opens a whole new world, one that I cannot get enough of. It becomes sweet and slightly crisp on the edges and with just a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper, is simply good. 

This recipe inspiration came as I was flipping through Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook, "It's All Good". Roasted cauliflower and chick peas is where I started and kale seemed like the perfect third ingredient. Tossing the warm, roasted veggies with the raw kale slightly wilts and softens it, without losing the crunch. Mark, who doesn't jump up and down at even roasted cauliflower, went back for seconds of this salad.

With cauliflower in season now, pick up a head and try this tasty salad. If you're still not convinced, check out these tasty ideas from Cooking Light. I'm determined to make cauliflower lovers out of all of you. 

Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpea + Kale Salad

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 can organic chick peas/garbanzo beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
2 Tbsp. good olive oil
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
generous pinch of salt and pepper

Large bunch of kale, washed and chopped
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1/4 cup good olive oil
salt + pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss cauliflower, chick peas, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, parsley and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes.

To prepare the kale for the salad, wash and cut along the rib of the leaf. Place on a cutting board and roughly chop. 

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper.

When the cauliflower and chick peas are done roasting, toss in a large bowl with kale and dressing.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cooking Light: Lighten Up America! {Giveaway}

It's no secret that Cooking Light is my very favorite magazine. Having a subscription is like receiving a cookbook in the mail every month! Each month, I flip through the pages and find recipes and inspiration for our meals for the month. I cannot bring myself to throw them away and I have almost 4 years worth of magazines saved so that I can pull them out whenever I feel like I'm in a rut.

Collaborating with Cooking Light's Blogger's Connection has been so much fun. I've discovered a whole new network of blogs and have gotten the chance to preview exciting new things, including one of Cooking Light's newest cookbooks, Lighten Up, America! 

This book features guilt-free takes on favorite American foods. It features regional favorites and foods that were proudly born right here in the USA. Cajun Crab Cakes to Lobster Rolls, BBQ to Pizza...there is a little something for everyone tucked away in the pages of this delicious little book! The stories behind each dish are so much fun to read and the entire book reads beautifully.

Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff to Summer and with bikini beach days upon us, it's the perfect time to lighten things up! Lucky for one of you, I have one extra copy of Lighten Up, America! to give away. 

To enter, leave a comment below sharing your favorite American dish! For an extra entry, Tweet about the giveaway and make sure to mention me (@ladolcevitanina) and Cooking Light! (@Cooking_Light) The giveaway starts now and goes through Monday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Strawberry Sorbetto

Will and I went down to the strawberry patch with our friends last week and we came home with a five pound box of ruby red beauties. He loves strawberries as much as I do and I think we need to make another trip to the patch before it closes for the season. I need a strawberry rhubarb pie, strawberry salsa and strawberry mojitos in my life as soon as possible. Strawberries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Please and thank you. 

I knew that I wanted to make something special with these fresh berries and when flipped through the pages of my Ciao Bella cookbook, I knew that sorbetto would be sweet and refreshing and the perfect seasonal treat! This cookbook has become my go-to for homemade ice creams, gelatos and sorbettos. The base recipes are so easy and the add in ideas are phenomenal. I have loved everything from this book and highly recommend it. 

This recipe is the best kind of recipe- quick and simple. The base recipes It starts with a basic sorbetto base and adds in eight cups of fresh berries. The sorbetto base could not be easier. Two cups of water and two cups of sugar, otherwise known as simple syrup. Because strawberries are naturally on the sweet side, especially coming fresh from the patch, I only used one cup of sugar instead of two and my sorbetto was still as sweet as can be! 

We've been topping our sorbetto with a pinch of shredded unsweetened coconut and some mini dark chocolate chips. 

This strawberry sorbetto is everything. 

Strawberry Sorbetto
recipe from Ciao Bella

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
8 cups fresh strawberries (quartered)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

In a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, combine water and sugar. Bring water to a boil and remove from heat once sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

In a blender, combine 4 cups of berries, half of the simple syrup and the 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Combine the remaining strawberries and simple syrup in the blender and blend until smooth. 

Pour strawberry mixture in the body of an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer sorbetto to airtight containers and store in the freezer. (these containers by Zak Designs are my favorite)

Side note: There is no difference between Sorbetto and Sorbet. One is the the Italian name and the other is the French. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Little Will- Eleven Months

As of May 9, Little Will is ELEVEN MONTHS OLD! His first birthday is right around the corner and I want to soak in every moment and detail as we finish up this first wonderful year.

When I was pregnant, women around my mom's age would stop me while I was out and about and tell me to enjoy my pregnancy. They would say that their "babies" were in college already, or about to be married, and that the time really is a strange thing. I would nod my head and smile and go along my merry way. BUT...NOW I GET IT. 

Will changes so much every month, but this past month especially he is discovering so much about the world around him. His personality grows more each day and I love watching him explore. He crawls around so fast and wants to see everything. He especially loves eating, playing, listening to Hakuna Matata and reading The Little Blue Truck. He smiles ALL the time and his nose has the cutest scrunch. It's his signature face.

He also still loves his sunglasses and his bunny ears. His ears became a permanent fixture throughout the entire month of April. Bunny ears and blowing bubbles through's a way of life for this kid.

Will is now playing peek a boo by himself. He puts his hand up on the side of his head and cocks it to the side. It's pretty much the cutest thing ever. My grandma also taught him how to clap last month and he is so proud of himself. His little mouth opens up so big as he brings his hands together for giant claps. There are just so many new tricks!

April was wonderful, but also a bit of a roller coaster of emotions. In mid- April, my grandpa passed away peacefully. He had been sick for awhile, and Will was always the one who could put a big smile on his face. Those two had a special bond, and I will never forget the time they were able to spend together. 

Will's social calendar is always full. This kid has the life. We had so many rainy days this Spring, it was nice to have our activities to look forward to. On Mondays, we love going to the library with our friends for story time. On Thursdays, we go to Musikgarten with Miss Annette. We just love it all. 

Easter was so much fun! We started off our celebrations with an Easter egg hunt and brunch with our sweet play group friends. I love all of these girls and their babies and am so thankful to have them in our lives. 

Easter weekend was beautiful and playing the Easter Bunny was everything I hoped it would be. Our little bunny loved his goodies. 

The last half of April and so far in May, the weather here has been amazing. I've gotten back into a good running groove and Will loves strolling as I get my miles in. He loves to be outside!

Our full of fun days almost always lead to two good naps for this little guy. I will never get tired of sleeping baby pictures. 

We celebrated Mark's birthday, which happens to fall on Cinco de Mayo, with a little fiesta! I love this family of mine and birthdays are so much better with babies! 

We are looking forward to month 12, and celebrating our little man when he turns ONE. Time is flying, but each day is seriously better than the last. 

Happy 11 months, little one!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

{What Will Ate} Baby's Roasted Root Vegetable Medley

Cooking for Will is so much fun. I love watching him try new foods and enjoy his favorites. This comes as no surprise, but he LOVES to eat. So many people are surprised at the variety of foods that he eats, but from an early age, we introduced a wide variety of foods. He puts on quite the show in his highchair during every meal just because he is having so much fun and enjoying every bite. I just love that kid!

Cooking for Baby has been one of my favorite resources for baby food. The recipes are fresh and wholesome and the book provides a great guide to when to start certain types of foods. Will is to the point now where he is able to eat a lot of what we eat, but I still take time to prep foods for him to keep on hand for his meals. I always have fruit purees on hand to mix in with plain Greek yogurt and homemade applesauce is another staple. Roasted vegetables are another go to for Will's lunches and dinners. Mushrooms, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower- he loves all of them roasted. I'm convinced that you can turn any vegetable loather into a vegetable lover just by introducing them to the art of roasting.

Roasting vegetables brings out the best of their flavors. All you need is a pinch of salt, a quick drizzle of olive oil and 20-30 minutes of oven time. This root vegetable medley is so tasty and baby and parent approved! Parsnips are the rare bite in this bunch but my favorite of them all! The original recipe calls for Rosemary, but I switched it out for Herbs de Provence, my favorite for roasting vegetables. This recipe is baby and parent approved!

Roasted Root Vegetable Medley

1 large sweet potato
2 parsnips
2 large carrots
2 Tbsp. good extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. Herbs de Provence or Rosemary
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Peel sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots. Using a chef's knife, slice vegetables into rounds that are about 1/2" thick. Cut rounds into small, baby sized chunks. Place veggies in a large ceramic dish. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with herbs, salt and pepper until combined. Roast until vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze in individual portion sizes for up to 3 months. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Crustless Mini Quiches

It's taken me a long time to become friends with the egg. A really long time. I despised them when I was young and the only way I would eat eggs was in a one egg pesto omelette with cheese made by my dad, a fellow egg hater. I don't quite remember when I graduated to two egg omelettes, but it was obviously when I was able to get over the thick outer layer of egg separating me from my beloved pesto filling. As I've grown, my aversion to eggs has become less and less, although I like my eggs a little amped up- I can't eat them when they're alone. Scrambled eggs should be scrambled with veggies, poached eggs should be eaten on Eggs Benedict and hard boiled eggs a better on salads. It's totally a texture thing for me and some days I'm okay with it, and other days I'm not. Eggs are just so healthy and thankfully, my kitchen creativity allows me to eat them on a regular basis. Quiche might be my favorite egg dish of all.

These quaint little quiches made a big impression on our Mother's Day Brunch spread. They are light and fluffy and filled with fresh ingredients. I opted for grape tomatoes, scallions and asparagus, but you can add any veggies of your choice! You don't have to wait for a fancy feast to get your quiche on. I think these would be great made ahead on Sunday night to enjoy for breakfast all week long. My healthy little eater is a huge fan of these, too. 

Crustless Mini Quiches
recipe from epicurious

6 large eggs
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
6 scallions, finely chopped
8 asparagus spears, cut into 1/2" pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray 2 muffin (I used 12 count tins) tins with cooking spray or line with liners. Add a pinch of cheese to the bottom of each tin.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, milk, cream, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into tins, filling about 2/3 of the way full. Once the tins are evenly full, it's time to add your veggies. I made half of the quiches with tomato and scallion, and the other half with asparagus.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until eggs are set. Remove by taking a knife around the outer edge and popping them out. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day, 2014

Now that I have my little Will, Mother's Day was extra sweet this year. Last year was special, since he was all cozy in my belly, but this year, my heart could just burst. It was a wonderful day spent with the people that I love most. We enjoyed our amazing annual Mother's Day brunch at my parents' with my Grandma and my Aunt and Uncle who were in town for my little sister's graduation. My sisters, dad and I prepped a brunch for the books! Baked French Toast, Mini Crustless Quiches, maple sausage and fruit filled our plates and Bloody Marys and Mimosas were flowing. The day was filled with so much love and I am so, so thankful. 

Being a mom is the greatest gift in the world and I am so very lucky to call this little one mine.