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It’s not delivery and it’s not Digiorno

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I’m pretty sure the delivery folks from Papa John’s could find their way to our house blind-folded. We order that much pizza. No matter the day or time, my husband is in the mood for pizza. He’s one of those people that will have it multiple days in a row or more than once a day. So, why have I never made it at home? Honestly, I don’t really know. I’ve never felt the urge to learn to make pizzas but for some reason this week it all of a sudden came upon me. So here we are. My pizza looks like a mal-formed amoeba because I don’t have a pizza stone or pan (see above stated lack of interest) so I had to use a jelly-roll pan. Now that I have given pizza a try I will definitely do it again. I liked controlling my own toppings and I LOVED the smell of it baking. I put pepperoni, onions and green peppers on my half. The hubs left his with just cheese. Notes: If you are going to use raw onions rinse them under cold water and let them dry first. This will get a lot of the overpowering flavor out. I love onions but trust me. Also, if you are going to use meats, I’d precook them just to be safe.

Maybe I’ll add a pizza stone to my list of kitchen wants. I also need a new garlic press. I used mine so much I broke it and I haven’t been able to find one I liked as much. Yeah, you heard that correctly. I’m not sure which is more worrisome A) that I use garlic enough to break a press or B) I’m that picky about its replacement. Let’s not linger on this subject, shall we? Onto the recipe!

Pizza

Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flat beer (I used Guinness)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I’ll try olive oil next time just because)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Put beer, butter, sugar, salt, flour, and yeast in a bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough setting, and press Start.

Remove dough from bread machine when cycle is complete. Roll or press dough to cover a prepared pizza pan.

Spread sauce and toppings on top of dough. Brush olive oil on crust. Bake until crust is lightly brown and crispy on the outside, about 24 minutes (mine only took about 15 minutes).

Pizza Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 6 fluid ounces warm water (just fill the tomato paste can)
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste

I made my sauce while my dough was in the machine so it would have time to rest.

In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, water, Parmesan cheese, garlic, honey, oregano, marjoram, basil, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and salt; mix together, breaking up any clumps of cheese.

Sauce should sit for at least 30 minutes to blend flavors; spread over pizza dough and prepare pizza as desired.

Cheesecake

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I love cheesecake. Also, I’m a purist. I don’t like strange flavors and I don’t like weird toppings. Just give me a whole, monster, 5-pound cheesecake that is dense as clay and I’m happy. However, baking a really good cheesecake can be finicky. There are things like water baths and checking to see if it is done, and the worst is when the cream cheese gets clumpy and gross and ruins your whole cake. Bleh. If any of these concerns sound familiar to you, get ready, cause I have a treat for you. This cheesecake is ridiculously easy. You just throw the filling into a blender and boom you have yourself a silky, smooth cheesecake. This recipe has a different crust than your usual graham cracker crust. Personally, I really like it but if you want to go with the original I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t.

Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten

Cheesecake:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10″ springform pan with PAM. WRAP the bottom and up the sides of the pan with a square of aluminum foil, to protect against any leaks. Make sure your springform pan is properly aligned and that it tightly seals when you snap the ring shut!

For crust: Sift together flour, baking powder and sugar. Mix together with butter and egg. Press the mixture along the bottom and slightly up the sides of the prepared pan.

For cheesecake: Place the cream cheese, flour, 2 eggs, sugar and milk into a blender and process on high for 3 minutes.  Pour into the prepared crust.

Bake for 55 – 60 minutes (mine took at least 15 minute longer because I was using a 9” springform). Cool and remove from springform.

Lemon Garlic Potatoes

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I grew up in a household where potatoes were a staple dinner item. There was always a meat, a potato, a vegetable and salad. Hey, it’s the Midwest. I still have that in the recesses of my brain somewhere… it just isn’t dinner if there isn’t a potato! These potatoes are some of my favorites. They’re easy and delicious. Come on, anything swimming in garlic, butter and lemon is amazing. That’s why I love escargot.

Now, the fancy way to make these is to use those cute little baby potatoes. If I’m making them just for us I use whatever potatoes I have on hand. That’s either red or white (I don’t believe in russets because I have to peel them). Besides, you’re supposed to leave the peels on because that is the healthy part. So, there. I’m not lazy, I’m health conscious.

Lemon Garlic Potatoes

Ingredients:
1 ½ pounds potatoes, chopped
½ cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons garlic, minced (I usually use 2 or 3 cloves)
1 teaspoons salt
juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place potatoes in an 8” x 8” baking dish. In a small bowl combine butter, garlic, salt and lemon juice. Pour over potatoes and stir to coat. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over potatoes. Bake covered, 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes.

Baked Mac & Cheese

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There is no comfort food that can compare to mac & cheese. I know, I know, everyone has their own recipe and it is always the best. I, too, have my own recipe and according to my (very) humble opinion it is the best. All you gourmet mac & cheese snobs may turn up your noses at the addition of Velveeta to this recipe but, kids, if you want creamy mac & cheese you HAVE to use Velveeta. Don’t worry there’s plenty of real cheese in the mix.

Frankly, I don’t know why anyone makes the “blue box” when the real stuff is so easy and soooooo much better but what do I know? Leave the “blue box” stuff in your basement storage room in case of apocalypse and make the real stuff.

Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • half an onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) package processed American cheese (I use a bag of shredded Velveeta)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion for 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in milk, salt and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until mixture boils and thickens.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

To the milk mixture add the cheddar and Velveeta cheeses; stir until cheese melts. Combine macaroni and cheese sauce in a 2 quart baking dish; mix well. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Fettucine Alfredo

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Tonight’s dinner is one of my husband’s favorites and is a pretty frequent request. How can you go wrong with ingredients like butter, cream, garlic, and cheese? That’s correct, you can’t. I throw in frozen broccoli just to make it seem a little healthier. If you decide to do the “healthy” version throw your frozen broccoli into the pasta pot during the last couple minutes. If you were feeling especially daring I suppose you could throw some chicken into the mix as well. I dunno, I’ve never done it.

Fettucine Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 pint cream
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound fettucine, prepared as directed

In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add cream cheese. When the cream cheese is softened, add cream. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Simmer 15-20 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and stir in parmesan. Pour over fettucine noodles.