Pepperoni & Extra Cheese Pizza

The traditional pizza – fresh sliced pepperoni and lots of fresh shredded cheese.

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Mmmmmm….. Pizza!  I don’t think I’ve ever met someone that doesn’t like pizza, except my daughter – who insists that she only likes MY pizza.  And she’s not picky about which one of my pizza’s she likes, she only likes mom’s pizza.  Honestly though, what isn’t there to love about a great pizza… hot melty cheese, great sauce and toppings galore!

I’m a deluxe pizza kinda girl… If I’m going to eat something that can be upwards of 400 calories a slice, I gotta at least have SOMETHING healthy on the pizza, those things cancel out all the greasy meats and cheeses right?!  So load me up with peppers and onions and mushrooms and I’m in pizza heaven… But, there’s something to say about a good ole pepperoni and extra cheese pizza, it’s just about the best comfort food there is (besides all the other comfort foods I love so much!)

One gets sick of ordering pizza though, or just plain tired of always having the same thing from the same place.  So when we want a really great pizza and my kid will be home for dinner, I’ll whip this baby up.  Now this pizza isn’t fast to make, give yourself a good two and half hours from start to finish, most of that is just spent waiting for the dough to rise and sauce to thicken so you can take a jog or clean house while waiting… or have a glass of wine!  Wine and pizza go great together 🙂

Pepperoni & Extra Cheese Pizza

For the Pizza Dough:

  • ¼ cup warm water (110 degrees)
  • 1 ⅛ tsp. instant yeast
  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp. water, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. Canola oil (or Olive)
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • ¾ tsp. salt

For the Pizza Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. instant garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Toppings:

  • 4 oz. of shredded provolone cheese
  • 4 oz. of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 oz. sliced pepperoni
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter + ¼ tsp. garlic powder

Make the dough:

  1. In liquid measuring cup, measure out the 110 degree water and sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir to mix.  Let the yeast sit for about 5 minutes, until it begins to foam.
  2. In a food processor combine bread flour and salt and pulse a few times to combine.
  3. In the same liquid measuring cup as your water & yeast, add the remaining water and the oil, stir to combine.
  4. With your food processor on high, slowly pour the liquid into the flour/salt and mix until combined and begins to form a sticky ball.
  5. On a flour dusted work surface, remove the dough and kneed for a minute until the dough is no longer sticky and forms a nice cohesive ball.
  6. Grease or spray with non-stick spray a large bowl and place your dough ball in to rest, covered with plastic wrap, for 2 hours.

Make the sauce:

  1. While your dough is rising, add all the sauce ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, uncovered, until the sauce has reduced by almost half, whisking often.
  3. Remove sauce from heat and set aside.

Assemble the pizza:

  1. About an hour and fifteen minutes into your dough rising, turn your oven onto 500 degrees.  Once preheated, let the oven stay on at 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes before baking the pizza.
  2. At hour 2, remove the plastic wrap from the dough and punch it to deflate.
  3. Let the dough set for another 10 minutes, uncovered, then kneed it a few times in the bowl.
  4. Place the dough onto a 14″ pizza pan or pizza stone.  Starting from the center, use the heal of your hand to press the dough out to the edges evenly.  Leave a little lip at the edge for your crust.
  5. Top the dough with 3/4 to 1 cup of pizza sauce and spread to the lipped edge.
  6. Top with pepperoni and cheese.
  7. Bake the pizza for 12-15 minutes, until the top gets bubbly and starts to form dark spots.
  8. While pizza is baking, melt the butter and stir in garlic powder.
  9. Remove pizza, brush crust and top with the melted butter/garlic powder and slice.
  10. After slicing, let the pizza rest 3-5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes:

  • If you don’t have a food processor, combine the dough ingredients in a large bowl and mix until combined.  Remove to a floured work surface and kneed for 3-5 minutes until no longer sticky and forms a nice stretchy ball.  Let set for 2 hours as instructed.
  • This sauce a little on the sweet side, just how we like it, but if you prefer it less sweet, eliminate the brown sugar or cut it in half.
  • This also makes more sauce than you’ll need for 1 pizza, so you can refrigerate the rest for up to 1 week or freeze for 2 months.
  • I prefer and recommend using chunk cheese over bagged cheese.  It melts so much better!  You can shred it by hand or use your shredding attachment on the food processor.  If you want, slice it up into thin slices and place on the pizza too.
  • I also do the same for my pepperoni.  I buy it in a large stick and slice it up in my food processor (or do this by hand).  To eliminate some of the grease in the pepperoni, place them on a paper towel lined plate and microwave for 30 seconds, then blot with extra paper towel!

Prep Time – 5 minutes     Servings – 8 slices     Total Time – 2.5 hours

Estimated Calories per Serving, based on one slice – 380.

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The Perfect Classic Margarita

A summer staple, this classic margarita is the perfect blend of flavors… not too sweet and not too sour.

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The margarita.  Such a summer staple – and one you don’t even have to love tequila to love.  And the endless combinations of flavors you can order at some places are unreal… strawberry, peach, mango, passion-fruit… but there’s only one traditional margarita and those can be turned into a hot mess if someone making them has no clue!  I can’t stand a bad margarita… too much tequila or the use of sour mix and my stomach will be on fire – too much triple sec and the drink is too sweet… So it’s fairly safe to say if I’m in the mood for a GREAT margarita, I’m heading to a local Cantina that serves them up by the pitcher – for $36!!  Yea, that’s a lot of $$ right?!  So – I might only go once a month, maybe twice if the weather is fantastic (Michigan, you know!)… Or if there’s something to celebrate, or if I had a bad day, or if I had a great day, or if I want salsa or if i want Queso… blah blah, who needs a excuse for a great margarita?!

So, of course I wanted margarita’s the other day but also didn’t want to go anywhere (you all have those days too – right??!!).  I wanted a GOOD one as well, not just from a pre-made mix or tossing together a few of the ingredients to get a mediocre one.  A little Google, a little stop at the store and a bit of mixing and taste testing and BAM, the PERFECT margarita was born!  For me and the hubby, PERFECT means the margarita tastes fresh, and has a perfect balance of tequila and triple sec – not too sweet and not too sour and won’t kill our stomachs or give us crazy heartburn… or juicing like 40 limes (no thanks, I have stuff to do man!) this is the one!

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If you love a PERFECT margarita, give this one a shot… I don’t think you’ll be disappointed – Salud!

The PERFECT Classic Margarita

  • 1 – Fifth of Silver Tequila (about 3 ¼ cups, you know, in case you have a gallon of it LOL)
  • 1 ½ cups of Triple Sec
  • 2 – 15 oz. bottles of ReaLime® 100% Lime Juice
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp. Agave Nectar (or 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sugar)
  • Margarita Salt or Tajin (salty chili pepper – found in the Mexican section of your grocery store)
  • Fresh Limes
  • Ice
  1. In a large pitcher, mix the Tequila, Triple Sec, Lime Juice and Agave Nectar (or sugar).
  2. Cut limes into wedges.
  3. If you prefer salt or Tajin on your rim, run a lime (the pulp side) along the rim of your glass then rotate in the salt container.  Or, drizzle agave nectar on a plate, run your glass in that and then in the salt or Tajin.
  4. Fill your cup with ice, pour in margarita mix, garnish with lime and enjoy!

Recipe Notes:

  • Please use silver tequila in this margarita… it will save you the headache the day after and it is just so much smoother!  And cheaper silver is OKAY!!  I’ve used Margaritaville and Sauza brands which are both less than $15.  My favorite tequila is Milagro and I’ll use Cointreau (fancy french triple sec) on occasion too… but then it’s getting to be about $40 a pitcher – might as well go out right?!
  • If you like your margaritas “frozen” rather than on the rocks, you can pop the pitcher into the freezer and it will turn into a slush, the amount of alcohol will prevent it from freezing solid (you’ll have to make the day/night before for it to get slushy).
  • Agave nectar can be found in the baking section of your grocery store by the sugar.  It’s 25% sweeter than sugar so you need a lot less… its a great substitute and is made from the same plant that tequila is made from – so the flavors compliment each other pretty damn good!
  • TASTE TEST this margarita before you drink it or serve it yourself and adjust the agave nectar as needed… this recipe it pretty tart, but not sour… if you prefer yours more tart or sweeter – add less or more agave (or sugar).
  • I’ll be flirting with fresh fruit purees to make flavored margaritas soon – keep an eye out!
  • This stuff is strong – drink it at home 🙂

Sesame Noodles

A delicious sesame-peanut sauce served over warm Pad Thai noodles, in less than 10 minutes!

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Quick, simple meals are the way to go in the summer when its too hot to cook inside and you’re really in the mood for something NOT grilled!  This recipe is a winner because you can literally almost have the whole meal ready to go during the commercial break of your favorite TV show, no joke!  Perfect for nights when you have to feed your family and run out the door or even to prep the night before and have for lunches the next day.

The sauce is not over powered by the peanut butter – which has happened a few times at restaurants, like almost eating peanut butter noodles, gross!  There’s just the right balance of saltiness and spiciness too.  If you like to have protein with your meals, use leftover shredded chicken that’s been soaked in teriyaki sauce and warmed up or ground pork.  If you have leftover spaghetti noodles use those instead!  You can also throw in shredded carrots or bean spouts to mix it up a bit… But the sauce is where it’s at and I hope you enjoy this as much as we do, if not for the flavor, for the sheer aspect of time, which is always worth it!

Sesame Noodles

  • 1 – 10.6 oz. package Pad Thai noodles
  • 1 bunch green onion, chopped
  • ½ cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

For the sauce:

  • 2 ½ tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. instant garlic
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha (optional)
  1.  Cook noodles per packet directions.
  2. Place sauce ingredients in a shakable container and shake until smooth. Microwave sauce for 1 minute, shake and microwave for 1 more minute.
  3. Place the noodles in a large bowl, add green onion, cabbage and sauce. Toss well & serve.

Recipe Notes:

  • I use KA•ME brand noodles that are found in the Chinese section of the grocery store. They are fresh cooked and you can pop them in the microwave for 90 seconds to warm them up!
  • If you want (which I have!) add your favorite cooked protein – shredded chicken, tofu, little shrimp…
  • I also use pre-shredded cabbage found in the veggie section but chop up yourself if you want.
  • Eliminate the Sriracha if you don’t like the spice – or add more, why not!

Prep Time: >5 minutes     Servings:  4     Total Time: >10 minutes

Estimated Calories per Serving, based on 4 servings – 260.