Tuesday, December 18, 2012

BBQ chicken pizza

  The 5pm sunsets have not been kind to my amateur photography skills and my little point & shoot Panasonic. I meant to share a lot of the pizza recipes we've been making, but the yellowy light in our dark kitchen has resulted in some truly terrible photos, and I've been quite frustrated. These weren't so bad so I just cheated and sepia-fied them.

Do you like Sweet Baby Ray's Barbeque Sauces? I love them. SBR's is the absolute best BBQ sauce, in my opinion--and no, this isn't a sponsored post. Although I wish it was, so I could get free BBQ sauce to try. We had two flavors on hand (Hickory & Brown Sugar and Honey Chipotle) so I asked Dane which we should use. His answer? "Both." That's why I love him.

BBQ Chicken Pizza
makes one 12" round pizza

for the crust:
3/4 cups warm water (~110 degrees F)
1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp evoo, plus more for oiling the bowl

for the toppings (amounts are approximate, since I usually just eyeball how much of each topping I want):
1/4 to 1/3 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked, diced chicken breast
3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

To make my crust, I followed Bobby Flay's recipe with a few modifications. I halved the entire recipe, and since I used active dry yeast, I first proofed my yeast by combining the sugar & water and sprinkling the yeast on top. I set this aside for five minutes (the yeast should become foamy) and then combined with the dry ingredients and evoo. I then followed Bobby's steps for mixing & rising.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. After the dough has risen, gently press into a 12" round pizza pan greased with evoo. Using a fork, poke many holes in the crust (so you don't get air bubbles!) and bake for 6 minutes. Carefully remove the pizza crust, top with your sauce and toppings, and return the pizza to the oven to bake for another 6-8 minutes, until the crust is starting to brown.

Public Service Announcement: Always prebake your pizza dough to prevent soggy, drippy pizza.

Friday, December 7, 2012

christmas tree by the books

Hi everyone! I was having some problems uploading photos to blogger this week, but I seem to have it figured out. 

Despite my mini holiday decorating spree this past weekend, we don't have a proper Christmas tree up yet (either fake or real). I saw a tree made out of books on Pinterest (but can't find it anymore!) so I decided to build a book tree for our bedroom! In Chicago, our living room (exposed brick) wall had two large built in bookshelves that we loved to fill, so we have a ton of books--now, our bookshelf in the living room is completely full along a dedicated shelf in the hall cabinets--so I had plenty to build my little tree!

I didn't take any step-by-step photos, because the construction of the tree was trial and error. I divided my books into three piles--large hardcovers (like old textbooks & coffee table books) for the bottom, medium hard covers & paperbacks (like biographies & novels) for the middle, and small paperbacks (like shorter novels & plays) for the top! I first stacked the bottom books in a circular configuration, trying to layer the corners of the books to look more natural. Then, I did the same for the middle & top layers and finished with an open book on top to make a point. It took me a few tries & re-stacks to get something stable that looked good (due to the ranging thickness of the books). Once I was happy with my tree, I wound a string of lights around the "branches" and topped it with a bow!

The tree is about 2.5'--3' tall. I wanted it a little taller, but I didn't want to pull all of the books out of our living room bookshelf. I used the books we had stored in the hallway--about 35-40 in total for the tree. This is a great project for you if you have a bunch of old college textbooks and readers that you couldn't (or didn't want to) sell back!

I still want a real tree with ornaments though :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

pizza advent

For our advent calendar this year, Dane & I decided to try something kind of silly, kind of strange, but kind of awesome. The idea stemmed from a statement Dane once made: "I could eat pizza every day." So, to build anticipation for Christmas, we created pizza advent.

To defend myself against those of you who think this idea is unhealthy and gross, we have twenty varieties of pizza on our advent calendar. Some are the traditional, cheesy variety (pepperoni, Chicago style deep dish) but some are healthy (veggies & herbs, butternut squash, grilled fajita). A lot of these pizzas are dinners we already make--but now, they will be served on some sort of crust. The crust will change up a bit as well, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with different styles and tastes of crust.

We are also very active people and you can't tell me what to eat. So there.

To make the calendar, I simply cut triangles of white paper and decorated them in seasonal themes with markers. Then, I pinned them onto a cork board in a feathery, pine tree like manner. Can't beat that for simplicity.

Here's a rundown of the pizzas that made the list. I'll be sharing the recipes for some of the more "special" ones:

cheeseburger pizza
s'mores pizza
grilled fajita pizza
dessert pizza
King's choice (Dane picks)
Lady's choice (I pick)
breakfast pizza
bacon & eggs (inspired by Elise's pizza)
taco pizza
butternut squash & caramelized onion pizza
BBQ chicken pizza
veggie & herbed cheese pizza
Chicago style deep dish (because we miss it!!!)
green chili pizza (this is the flavor we usually make when we have a regular "pizza night")
pesto pizza
buffalo chicken pizza

We put twenty pizzas on our advent calendar. I am pretty excited for this--not only do we get to eat some form of pizza every day, we also get to spend time together in the kitchen creating the recipes and save money by not eating out (since we have every meal planned until Christmas vacation on the 20th).

Did your favorite kind of pizza make the list? If not, share! I'll still need to come up with something good as my "Lady's choice" night!