CRAFT-Along: Best Pizza Ever

Dear Fin,

Guess who returned Friday? The Malawian/Aussie golfer roomie — Matt. He’s back to make another go of the professional golfing world in Arizona and now I have someone to cook for on a regular basis. {His family took care of me on the tea estate in Malawi last summer. They are some of the nicest people I’ve met. It is a pleasure to return the favor by hosting their son.}

Imagine my delight when I made our March CRAFT-Along pizza crust project last night and he said, “This is some of the best pizza ever.” Giddyup!

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

I did modify the recipe a bit by making the dough whole wheat. I’d never made pizza dough before, so we also had to take a quick trip through Target to get a pizza tray. With some rosemary from a friend’s garden, chicken and heaps of veggies — we ate like kings. This recipe is just too easy and I’m certain I’ll be making it again this week. I’m thinking artichokes, mushrooms, black olives and spicy red peppers.

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Great choice Fin! (Although I still need to learn how to throw a pizza crust. Any suggestions?)

~Donk

Warm Winter Meal

Kale

Mmm... leafy greens

In reading The New York Times late yesterday afternoon, I was inspired to hit the market on the way home from work to pick up some kale. I’ve read a bunch lately about this superfood, not to mention all the yummy recipes on Kath’s blog. I wanted something a bit different and am trying to not eat as much meat. Kale is essentially calorie free and has gobs of good stuff in those dark leafy greens. I gave this recipe a whirl.

look gross, taste great

l'onion!

Stewing kale

Drank every drop

While the kale was stewing, I roasted a sweet potato. It was a colorful, nutritious and cheap meal that left me tickled with new-recipe joy. I am looking forward to the leftovers for lunch.

I read a bit of the latest Bon Appetit (thanks again Meggie!) during diner and the April issue is incredibly goood. Foodies — if you don’t subscribe, this is the month to splurge and pick it up at the newsstand. The recipes are seasonal, delicious and the photography would encourage a caveman to fine tune his culinary abilities. In the Editor’s Letter, Barbara Fairchild writes of spring, cooking and the recession:

“My 401(k) may be a shadow of its former self, but spring will return as scheduled: we’ll still have asparagus and rhubarb, artichokes and fresh peas, carrots and ramps, fragrant herbs and spring greens, juicy berries and tangy lemons, chocolate — always chocolate — salmon and lamb and roast chicken and pork, and Easter and Passover, and a whole lot of other delicious things to look forward to cooking and eating.”

Indeed! Give kale a shot, if you don’t love it already. The flavor is rich and creamy. The broth from this recipe was so sweet, I could easily see adapting this to make it  soup with a giant dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream. I will be planting kale in the next winter garden, absoloodle.

~K

The Construction of a Meal

To be: Green Chile Meatloaf

To be: green chili meatloaf — with cilantro from the garden

To be: Sweet Potato Fries

To be: spicy sweet potato fries

To be: Roast Broccoli

To be: roast broccoli

To Be: Red Velvet Cupcakes

To be: red velvet cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes Red Velvet Red Velvet Cupcakes To be: Cream Cheese Frosting

To be: cream cheese frosting

Dinner: 2-2-09

This post also could be titled: Why I’ve been enjoying meatloaf leftovers for the week. If you are looking for a kick-ass, tried and true meatloaf recipe, my mom’s spicy Mexican Meatloaf is really, really good. Have you ever noticed meatloaf is like gumbo — it tastes incredibly better as leftovers?

~K

Garden to Table

I achieved one of my long-time goals yesterday and you’d think I’d won the domestic lottery:

Cilantro

CIlantro

Garden to table

Table set

Food from the garden to the table! Cilantro for the guacamole, to be precise. Yesterday I hosted a small staff happy hour at my house. For social acceptance purposes, I didn’t let anyone know how dang exciting it was that I was in part feeding them out of food I grew myself. Woo hoo!

As for the recipes for the photos I posted yesterday, I have to ask for your patience. I’m working on a new project that’s keeping me from sharing too much, but I hope to have them in your hands soon! Thanks for all the sweet comments. You know if you are ever in Phoenix, you always have a seat at my community dinners.

Cheers,

Kelli

What’s Cooking?

cooking 008

Roasted butternut squash topped with browned turkey, garlic and veggies with a side of quinoa.

cooking 005

Mmm.. say it with me — “keen wa!” I love this food.

cooking 012

And while I’m trying not to drink much, this decanter is so awesome for impressing a guest. Take a $5 bottle of red wine and decant for 30 minutes before. You wouldn’t believe how much this improves the taste.

Otherwise, I’m not doing much domestic this week. Work is kicking my butt. With hours upon hours at the capitol in a sea of gray cubicles, I am exceptionally happy this is no longer my work environment. I am also over the moon, after spending an hour on the freeway this afternoon, that I don’t have to participate in the concrete jungle regularly either. Both have given me a new dose of perspective and gratitude for my sweet little desk with the pretty window overhead and the fact it is a mile from my home.

Now where did I put the rest of that quinoa…

~K

In the Kitchen

Best cookbook yet!

I’m making my 2009 resolution list, crossing off ideas, writing others in permanent marker and dreaming about the future. While my dream home varies from beach-front to mountain-top, the one constant is a nice kitchen with a giant garden to keep it well-fed. I never expected to love cooking and entertaining as much as I do, but if there were ever a chance to become a professional baker, I’d jump. You can imagine how thrilled I was to receive Alice Water’s “The Art of Simple Food” for Christmas.

Learning new things. Thanks Alice!

My mama, she is a smart cookie. I was on Twitter the other day raving about how much I loved this book when another person commented that if I liked Alice, I should check out her right-hand man, David Tunis. He recently wrote a cookbook called “A Platter of Figs.” Without a moment of guilt for spending yet another $30 on myself during the holidays, I scooped this book up this weekend and have been reading it ever since.

Did you know you can steam fish?

Tunis’ story is funny, honest and simple — like his cooking. He makes mouth-watering meals from basic foods and sticks to seasonal and local eating. He and his partner split their time — 6 months in the Bay area working with Alice Waters at Chez Pannise and 6 months in their European home, where they prepare fabulous meals for friends. Sounds like a dream!

Extras for the halibut dinner

I’ve only cooked one thing so far from either — steamed halibut. I didn’t know how to cook halibut (fish is new to my kitchen), so I pulled out the cookbook and took Alice’s advice. Ten minutes steamed and I had a piece of fish so flaky and tender, it melted. It was wonderful.

Dinner for one

I am looking forward to fewer giant community dinners in 2009 and more intimate meals with a few friends at a time. “A Platter of Figs” is catered to feeding 8 people a three-course meal. This sounds just about right. Tunis is also a fan of using meats not typical in American kitchens, namely rabbit and duck. It is going to take the right group of friends to want to come over for this sort of menu, but I think I’ll be able to round up a few. I intend also to make Ms. Waters and Mr. Tunis great friends of mine in the new year.

And that resolution list will be posted by the end of the week. I’m still editing and dreaming.

~K

Que Viva La Sticky Bun!

Christmas Morning Tradition

While I foolishly poured myself a “healthy” bowl of granola and yogurt, the family prepared to dig into a Christmas morning tradition…

Christmas Morning Tradition

Christmas Morning Tradition

Christmas Morning Tradition

Christmas Morning Tradition

Christmas Morning Tradition

Christmas Morning Tradition

I only ended up eating half a pan…And I wish I could do it again this morning. If there is one thing that signals the holidays in our family, it’s the scent of brown sugar, pecans and doughy white bread baking in the oven. Sweet heaven, these were good.

~K

Three French Hens

I couldn’t let Grace down by not keeping up with the title theme…

Look at her go!

Katie asked me a while back if I’d help her learn how to cook. I couldn’t wait! Visions of aprons and journals and gourmet meals danced through my head. Then I remembered my audience. Katie is a sweet girl with simple tastes and gourmet would bore her. (Not that she’d tell me. Her manners are fabulous.)

Mac & cheese that didn’t come out of a box? Well… that was a fascinating concept.

Cooking with Katie

And chicken that didn’t come in a nugget form? Amazing.

Cooking with Katie

We spent the afternoon Christmas and then grocery shopping. And because the stars aligned, four other friends showed up for lunch so Katie had her very own audience. Everyone was quite impressed.

Table set -- cooking with Katie

(Look! My new folding chairs! Thanks again Santa!)

Katie is the daughter of a former coworker. We’ve been hanging out for a couple of years. I invited her to Nicaragua with me last summer. During our work trip, we really got to know each other and not just because we ended up as roommates. I was able to see her out of her environment — able to admire her grace, her patience, her incredible work ethic and true kindness. She impressed me a thousand ways.

She was the youngest member of our team and she worked tirelessly without ever complaining. It was back breaking work, but she did it with wide eyes — excited to be in a new country. She reminded me how fun it was to be 15 with a passport, youth and a passion for the world.

She’s recently decided to go to a new high school. She’ll start all over, with a new opportunity to create who is she, in just a few weeks. I think she’s almost as excited to not have to wear a school uniform for the first time in 15 years as she is to have new classes, including fashion design. We spent a lot of our cooking time talking about who she will be at this school. For the first time — after more than a year of telling her myself — she said she’d be the smart girl. I truly had to hold back jumping up and down, I was so thrilled. She’s in a couple honors classes for the first time and I think her new-found sense of self-esteem couldn’t come soon enough.

Something tells me we’ll always be friends. And I’m going to have a lot of fun watching the amazing things she’ll do.

~K