My Very Own Chicago “Stuffed” (Deep Dish) Pizza

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Here in Chicago, most of us don’t call it a “deep dish pizza,” we call it a “stuffed pizza.” Why?  Not sure – but it sure is delicious!

What makes stuffed pizza so delicious and special to the hearts of midwesterners is the unique buttery, flaky crust, gobs of mozzarella cheese and a thick, zesty sauce.

Before you go and try to make this pizza with a regular pizza dough, do yourself a favor and…don’t.  Stuffed pizza has a lighter, flaky crust due in part to the cornmeal and also in part by “laminating” the pizza dough with butter.  (Will explain later.)

I have to be honest and admit that when I first tried making stuffed pizza, I bought pre-made regular pizza dough from Caputos.  While it was pretty good, nothing tops actual stuffed pizza crust!!  So, I highly recommend using this recipe.

All of the “oohs” and “aahs” that I get from this recipe is enough to make it a staple comfort food in our house.   My sister even said it was probably the best stuffed pizza she’s ever had.  Did you hear that, Giordano’s???  😉

You will first want to read these instructions all the way through, at least a day ahead, so you can make time for preparation and purchasing of the correct ingredients. 

YOU WILL NEED:  either 2 cast iron skillets (10″ or 12″), or 2 springform pans.  I prefer cast iron all the way!  I must warn you though, it is hard to cut the cooked pizza in a cast iron skillet since you can’t take it out of the pan.  A springform pan easily comes off and you can cut it easily.  You don’t want to use a rolling pizza cutter because it will crush the crust and not look pretty.

NOTE:  This is a very LONG recipe, but simple enough.  Hang in there with me. You will be glad you did because this is what you will get:

CHICAGO STUFFED PIZZA

INGREDIENTS:

Crust (makes 2)

  • 3 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 & 1/4 tsps salt
  • 1 Tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 standard packet of yeast (not instant)
  • 1 & 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided (1/4 cup melted, 1/4 cup softened or room temp)
  • olive oil for coating

Sauce:

  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, grated (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1-2 drops oregano essential oil)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (San Marzanos (THE BEST), if possible)
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp granulated sugar

Toppings:

  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (buy a block and shred it yourself, rather than buying pre-shredded – you will thank me!)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Topping Options:  approx. 20 pepperoni slices, 4 slices cooked/crumbled bacon (2 per pizza), cooked and crumbled mild Italian sausage, thinly sliced green peppers and/or onions, sliced mushrooms.

Crust Directions:

Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, or food processor with dough attachment.

If you do not have any mixer, you will have to do it by hand.  Use a large bowl. Give the ingredients a quick toss with your mixer on low or with a large wooden spoon.

Add the warm water and 1/4 cup of melted butter.  The water should be warm – not hot, or it will kill the yeast.  Also, make sure the butter isn’t super hot.

On low speed, mix the ingredients until everything is moistened.  Continuing on low speed (or remove from the bowl and knead by hand on a dough mat), mix the dough until it is soft and pulls away from the sides of the bowl and falls off of the dough hook (about 4-5 mins).  If the dough is too hard, mix in a teaspoon of warm water.  On the other hand, it feels too soft, mix in a Tablespoon of flour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball.  Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside, turning it around so that all sides of the dough are coated in oil.  Cover the bowl tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rise in a warm environment for 1-2 hours or until double in size.

TIP:  If your house isn’t warm, preheat your oven to 250F degrees.  Once it’s 250F degrees, turn it off.  Place the bowl of dough inside and close the door.  The heat will help your dough rise quickly like magic!

When the dough is ready, lightly flour a large work surface.  Remove dough from the bowl, set the bowl and aluminum foil aside to use later.  “Punch down” the dough to remove any air bubbles and roll the dough into a large 15×12″ rectangle.

Slather 1/4 cup of softened butter on top of the dough, covering every inch.  This is the “laminating” part.

Roll the dough up lengthwise like a roll-cake or Litttle Debbie “ho-ho”.  Cut the dough log in half.  Form the two pieces of dough into balls and put them back into your greased bowl.  Cover again with aluminum foil and allow it to rise in the fridge this time for 1 hour until the dough balls are fluffy.  Make the sauce during this time.

Sauce Directions:

Place butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat to melt.  Add grated onion, salt, oregano and red pepper flakes.

Once the onion has browned a bit, after about 5 minutes, add garlic, tomatoes, and sugar.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and allow to simmer until it’s hearty, fragrant, and thick – about 30 mins.  If it isn’t think, keep cooking until the moisture reduces a bit.  Remove from heat and set aside until ready to be used.  (You can store the sauce in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 days, or freeze up to 2 months.)

Preheat oven to 425F degrees.

Assembling the pizzas:

After the dough balls have risen and are fluffy, take out only one ball to start.  Roll it out on a lightly floured work surface, working it into a 13-inch circle (if your pan is 12″) to about 1/4″ thickness.

Pick up the circle of dough and place over your skillet or springform pan so that the dough is hanging slightly off the sides.

Using your fingers, gently press the dough down a little, leaving some dough hanging off the sides – try not to tear it.  Then add your cheese – 2 cups of cheese per pizza. Next add your meat/veggie toppings – except your pepperoni – you will use that towards the last step.

Then, use a knife to cut off the extra dough hanging off the sides of the pan and save. We will use it to make the top layer – just like the famous Giordano’s stuffed pizza. It’s their secret step, and what I believe makes their pizzas so awesome. (Giordano’s seals up the pie with a super thin layer of dough before topping it off with the sauce and parmesan.)

Roll a bit of that extra dough into a circle as thin as possible.  Place it over your filled-up pizza, and pinch it together with the dough on the sides to seal the pie.

Place pepperoni on top of this dough layer, then top your pie with half of the sauce. Finish by topping it off with half of the grated parmesan cheese.  Add more, if desired.

Here is a photo before it went into the oven:

Repeat steps with the 2nd dough ball in a 2nd pan.

If using springform pans, place them on top of a large baking sheet, which will catch anything that might spill over.  Bake for 20-28 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Remove the pizzas from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

YUM!!:

Place any leftover pizza in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days (yeah right, like there will be any!!!)

Reheat leftovers in a 300F oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot.
Enjoy!!!

 

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Marriage Retreat!  $100 Promo Code Inside 

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Today’s Blog is all about Marriage Retreats, and how you can save $100 on the BEST one out there.

So, I know this blog is for essential oils, but I just HAVE to share my experience at a FamilyLife marriage retreat with you.  

My husband and I recently went to one of FamilyLife’s many “Weekend to Remember” retreats and had a wonderful time learning about what makes a good marriage, all while enjoying the hilarious speakers!

These retreats go on throughout the year all across the country.  They have marriage experts, top speakers (always funny people!), fun couples merchandise and books.  It is like a mini getaway, and we so needed that!

How many couples do you see who invest in everything else BUT their marriage? Sadly, way too many. 

We decided we would try it out, get away for the weekend and invest in what is the most important relationship we will ever have in our lives.

We haven’t had a vacation in a while, and while we are happy together after many years together, we could always stand to learn something new.  And…for some reason, staying in a hotel always seems to stir up romance.  Woowoo!  

The retreat starts out at the hotel on a Friday evening, for the first/intro session of guest speakers.  The 2 guests at our retreat were AWESOME!   So funny!  One was a married couple, and the other was a married man whose wife doesn’t like to speak on stage so he spoke solo.  We were laughing so much all weekend it was such a great release of those daily stressors.

Here’s us when we first got to the hotel room…feeling a little goofy and laughing hysterically at who knows what:

Saturday morning, after you have breakfast, you go to the morning session.  
Here’s our view during breakfast.  So serene… (except for the goose that kept attacking another goose, because apparently the pond wasn’t big enough for the both of them!):

After the morning session,  they break for lunch.  After lunch, there is an afternoon session. 

Then they let you have the evening off to go on a “date night.”  You are supposed to make reservations somewhere ahead of time, and have a romantic evening with your spouse.  We loved the restaurant we chose – maybe a little too much – because we came back to the hotel WAY too full to enjoy the rest of the evening.  Our bad. 

Sunday morning, after breakfast, there is a morning session.  We skipped this one because it was a session where they split up the men and women, and you listen to designated speakers of your own sex.  I am sure it was as great as the rest of the retreat, but we didn’t want to separate!   God has done some intense healing in our marriage and we we’ve been feeling like newlyweds lately.  (Sorry if it makes you gag…it is just great to feel so good again!) 

The stories we heard from the speakers were eye opening and touching and funny! They told us of some couples at past retreats who came there with divorce papers in the car…and left feeling they should give their marriage another try. Beautiful.

So, we loved the retreat so much that we decided to become volunteers for FamilyLife, and spread the word about their retreats and help out any way we can!  Although thousands attend these retreats every year, there are still so many couples who could benefit from attending. 

If you’re interested in investing in your marriage, or having marriage troubles, or just want to get away from the kids for a weekend!!…you should definitely check it out for yourself.  I highly recommend it!  I can save you $100 off registration, so it won’t be so hard on your pocketbook. 

This PROMO CODE that will get you $100 off registration at any retreat, in any state.

Just click this link and type in Promo Code: ‘TwoAreOne‘ when prompted:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/l5m95kd

Watch this funny promotional video from FamilyLife:

https://youtu.be/zYwT1-5RaPU

If you go, I’d love to hear your story!!  

Blessings!

Savory Roasted Marinara Sauce From Scratch – with Essential Oils!

cooking with essential oils, diy, do-it-yourself, essential oils, health, homemade, natural living, recipe

I have always been afraid of making marinara sauce from scratch – like from actual tomatoes!  Scary stuff.  I mean, what if I buy all those tomatoes and screw it up??  I’m Norwegian, not Italian – how could I possibly make a good “gravy”!???

While marinara made with a can of crushed tomatoes is delicious, I felt it was time I face my fear and give the scratch kind a shot.  And, of course, I also wanted to incorporate my beloved essential oils into the recipe.  

The sauce took me a few hours to make, because I took my time (and took photos as I went along), so you will want to plan ahead to make this on a day where you have some free time.  Those of you with small children are thinking, “free time, what the hay-hay is that??”  If you have small children…I am sorry…maybe you should save this recipe for 12 years and then give it a try!  Seriously though, I think you can pull this off if you start cooking right when the kiddos go down for a nap.  I believe in you.

I will spare you the annoyance of reading each step between each photo.  I used to do that, and now understand how annoying that is!!  When I find a recipe on a person’s blog, and they do that, I feel like posting a comment on it just to say: “Just give me the recipe so I don’t have to scroll through your whole stinking blog during the cooking process!!”  But that wouldn’t be very nice,  soo…  

I did post pictures below, in the order of each step of the recipe as a visual reference.  Some people feel better if they can see how it is supposed to look along the way.  So, enjoy the beauty of these colorful fresh ingredients!:

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Garlic cloves before peeling.

Garlic cloves after “quick peel” in a jar.  I’ll explain below.

Blending roasted ingredients with basil & parsley

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I did it!  Delicious!  Roasted marinara sauce with broiled asparagus coated in olive oil, salt, onion powder and garlic powder, and unleavened whole wheat “bread” (see recipe at bottom of page) with a little shredded basil on top.

ROASTED MARINARA SAUCE FROM SCRATCH

Ingredients:

  • 25 Roma tomatoes, cored
  • 2 sweet vidalia onions, quartered
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic, cloves peeled (see note in the recipe for “Easy Peeling”)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt (preferably Pink Himalayan)
  • 1/4 C sugar or “Date Paste” (See Recipe for “Date Paste” in the Pizza Crust recipe at the bottom of this blog)
  • Small bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cans tomato paste, for thickening
  • 2 drops Oregano essential oil (therapeutic grade only, with “Supplement Facts” on bottle – message me for the company I use)
  • 4 drops Basil essential oil
  • 2 drops Black Pepper essential oil
  • 1-4 pepperoncinis, for a little heat
  • *Optional:  1/4 cup dry red wine, diced carrots

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425F.

Wash and core the tomatoes.  Split them between two 9×13″ baking dishes, or put all of them in a large roasting pan.  The tomatoes can be left whole; they will break down during the roasting process.

“Easy Peeling” of garlic cloves.  Toss a few garlic cloves in an empty, clean, dried jar (any kind of glass condiment jar will do), screw the lid on, and shake vigorously for a minute, or until the peelings become loose.  This makes it much easier to peel!  Don’t overload the jar, only a few cloves at a time.  Cut off the hard ends of the garlic cloves.

Arrange the quartered onions and peeled garlic cloves (and diced carrots, if using) around the baking dish with the tomatoes.  Drizzle olive oil over all and then use your hands to toss the tomatoes, garlic and onions to coat everything well with the oil.  Season everything generously with salt.

Roast tomatoes in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or so.  The tomatoes and onions will look wrinkled, roasted, and slightly charred.  For a thicker sauce, cook longer and stir occasionally to keep from burning.  

Remove the pan(s) from the oven and set on the counter to cool for 10-15 minutes. You can easily remove the tomato peelings if you want, but I left them on. 

Place a large colander inside a large bowl.  Pour the roasted tomato ingredients into the colander.  The bowl underneath the colander will collect all the juice.  You need this juice for later – don’t toss it!

Scoop the roasted tomato ingredients into a blender or food processor.  Add parsley, and most of the basil leaves (save a few to shred and top your final pasta dish as a garnish).  Puree until it reaches your desired consistency.  You may need to do it in separate batches if you have a small food processor.

Put about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or stock pot.  Warm on medium heat, and then toss in the diced shallots.  Cook until they are soft.

Dump the pureed tomatoes, and the reserved juice, into the pot.  Season with additional salt, if needed.  Add the essential oils and any herbs you might want to add to the sauce to flavor it to your liking.  Add the pepperoncinis and cans of tomato paste.  If you are using red wine, add that to the pot as well.  Mix thoroughly.  I had to use a whisk to make sure the thick tomato paste was dispersed throughout the sauce.

Simmer on low, covered, for an hour or longer, so that all the flavors blend well together.  The longer the simmer, the better the flavors will be.  Stir occasionally so that it doesn’t burn.

Serve immediately as pasta sauce, or on homemade pizza (Click here for the pizza crust recipe that I also used as garlic bread with this meal.  For garlic bread, I just rubbed olive oil all over the dough and sprinkled generously with garlic salt and then baked it).  You will also find the “Date Paste” recipe within the pizza recipe. 

Or, you can cool all of it completely and freeze it in containers or Ziploc bags for later use as a quick meal!

Mangia tutti!!

 

Guacamole With Lime & Cilantro Oils & Homemade Tortilla Chips! Delicious!

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For a healthy,  quick snack, try some homemade guacamole and homemade tortilla chips! They are fresher and taste a whole lot better than store bought chips!

First, gather your ingredients.  You will need the following:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • 1/8 cup diced red onion
  • Pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 drops Lime essential oil (See note in red below)
  • 1/2 drop Cilantro essential oil, or less (it is very strong and even 1/2 drop is too much for me!) (See note in red below)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 pressed garlic cloves
  • 1/2 drop Black Pepper essential oil (See note in red below) or 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 4 soft yellow or white corn tortillas (I prefer El Milagro – they don’t use preservatives)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (or a healthier cooking spray oil than PAM!)

Thoroughly wash and chop your tomatoes, onion and avocado.

Put your avocado in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher until your desired consistency.  I like mine a little chunky. Once mashed, toss in your onion and tomato and stir.

Then, you can add the spices and/or essential oils.  Where it says to use 1/2 drop of essential oil, here’s the trick on how to do that.  Since you can’t really measure a half drop, I usually put one drop on a spoon and then lightly shake some off into the sink.   Then I can stir the remainder of the oil that is on the spoon into the guacamole.  It seems to be just enough.  These oils are super potent, and a little goes a very long way!

PLEASE READ:  Be sure to only use 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils from a company that puts a “Supplement Facts” on the bottles.  This means they are pure enough to ingest.  You can just ingest any old essential oil bought at a store.  The purity of most essential oil companies at the store are nowhere near close enough to ingest.  Only specific companies make therapeutic grade oils.  The ones I use are pretty awesome.  I have been using them for over 2 years now and use them every single day in one way or another.  Message me and I will send you the link on where to get them.

If you aren’t going to eat the guacamole right away, put the avocado pits into the storage container along with the guacamole and refrigerate.  The pits will keep the avocado from turning brown!

For the homemade tortilla chips:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Put 4 tortillas (or more) on a cookie sheet (you’ll need a couple of cookie sheets).  Very lightly rub both sides of each tortilla with a very small amount of olive oil (If you use too much oil, the chips will be chewy, not crisp – and ruin the whole experience).  If you have a cooking spray (which I don’t like using due to the propellant in the can), it would work best in this instance.  Lightly spray both sides of each tortilla instead of using olive oil.  Stack the tortillas on top of each other, and with a large knife, cut through all of them so that each tortilla makes 8 chips.  Using 4 tortillas will make 32 chips.

Spread each chip out evenly out over 2 cookie sheets.  Sprinkle salt over all of the tortillas.  And if you’re feeling crazy, put some salt in a bowl, add a drop of lime essential oil to the salt and mix it up.  Then sprinkle the salt all over your chips.  Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until crispy.

Once the chips are cooled, you are ready to eat!

Enjoy!

Pizza for your “Daniel Fast”

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Pizza Photo

Yes, that’s pizza…without cheese, and it is delicious.  Gasp!!

So, my husband and I had been in a bit of a funk lately.  We were getting so lazy that we’d eat out at restaurants, or fast food places 2-4 times per week.  We were both gaining weight, feeling sluggish, brain fogged and just plain fatigued almost all the time.  We knew we had to do something about it.

We are both Christians, and were feeling God laying on our hearts that we needed to learn the discipline of self-control – something we both never really had much of!  When you allow the Lord to give you strength in one area of indulgence, it is easier to exercise self-control in other areas!  Self-control was never something I cared to practice when it came to food.  I love food!!!  Food is great when eaten in moderation, but it can become a vice and detrimental to your health if you eat the way I have for most of my life.

Due to events over the past year where a lack of self-control caused mine and my husband’s lives to spiral out of control, we finally admitted that it was time for us to learn self-control in all areas of life.

A friend of mine told me about The Daniel Fast that she was doing.  Here is a link to the official website:  The Daniel Fast Website

If you’ve never heard of The Daniel Fast, it’s a 21-day fast where you only eat veggies, fruits, legumes, beans, whole grains, olive oil, etc.  Basically no meats, alcohol, sugar, dairy, processed foods.  Some people say you can eat unleavened bread (with whole wheat flour), but others claim you should not.

The fast is based off of the book of Daniel in the Bible, where Daniel refused to eat the King’s food because it usually contained meat sacrificed to false gods.  He told the King’s men that if they would only give him and his friends vegetables to eat and water to drink, for 21 days, they would find that he and his friends were much healthier, leaner, etc.  Here’s a link to the story:  Daniel’s Story

So, since I already drink only water, and have been drinking fruit smoothies every morning for about 2 years, I figured this wouldn’t be so hard.  I’d buy a ton of produce, nuts, rice and beans each week and I’d be all set.  Little did I know that you should really have some recipes planned out for The Daniel Fast if you are going to stick to it and not become malnourished.  After some Googling (by the way, I heard Webster’s just added “Googling” as a verb in the dictionary….seriously), I found some great recipes!  But the Daniel Fast shouldn’t be done as a diet.  Fasts are about growing closer to the Lord, not weight loss, but it just happens to be a great byproduct of a fast like this!

If you are considering the Daniel Fast, I’d recommend doing it with someone else.  It really helps to have someone who can encourage and support you so that you don’t give up.  My husband and I are loving how it is growing us closer together in our marriage, as we cheer each other on in this fast.  We are enjoying cooking dinner together every evening, versus driving to a fast food place.  It’s like a date night – every night!

So, at the beginning of this fast, I’d have a smoothie for breakfast (loaded with goodies), a fruit and a sweet potato for lunch, and sometimes potatoes and leeks for dinner, or beans and rice.  We were pretty fatigued, and needed a little more substance.  I found a bunch of great tofu recipes (try to eat only organic tofu – the non-organic has been linked to breast cancer – or so I’ve heard).

I also found a good recipe for an unleavened bread (more like a thick cracker) that contains 100% whole wheat flour, olive oil, honey and water – that’s it!  We’ve used it as a garlic bread with our potato leek soup, as garlic bread with our pasta and now as a pizza crust.  Who would have thought only 4 ingredients would make such a great crust!

This pizza turned out delicious, even without cheese, and I know we will be making it again – even when the fast is over.  You can sub some of the herbs with essential oils in the pizza sauce!  Basil essential oil gives the sauce a punch!

So far I’m on Day 18 of The Daniel Fast, and loving it!!  My quiet time/Bible reading in the morning has become more fulfilling, my faith in God stronger, my body healthier, my brain un-fogged, and my *ahem* colon *ahem* cleansed.  Sorry if TMI.  I hate to brag – but I now poop like a champ. 😉

If you aren’t used to eating fresh produce, then you might want to pass on this fast.  But if you’re used to cooking fresh, not frozen, this should be easy for you!  Also if you’re a coffee and/or soda drinker, this will not be easy!!

The pizza recipe I will post below is sort of mix of a few different recipes I have found, but tweaked to my liking.  If you make the pizza and love it, let me know in a comment below.  Or if you used different ingredients and loved it, please let me know so that I can try it too!


PIZZA – THE DANIEL FAST WAY

For the dough:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup & 1 Tbs quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, separated
1 Tablespoon “date paste” (a lower glycemic food than honey) (recipe below)
3/4 water
garlic salt

Preheat oven to 500 F.  Mix all ingredients, except the garlic salt, in a bowl until combined.  Use a rolling pin on a flour-dusted surface or a pastry mat.  Transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet, preferably a metal pizza sheet with holes, or a good baking stone, but a cookie sheet will work.  Bake for 6-7 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove from oven and set aside.  Leave the oven at 500 F so you can bake it again with the pizza ingredients this time.

For the Sauce:

1 can of tomato sauce
1 can of tomato paste
1 tsp Italian seasoning (I used Wildtree’s Hearty Spaghetti blend)
2-4 pressed garlic cloves, or more to taste
3-4 drops of Basil essential oil (ONLY use therapeutic grade oil that has “Supplement Facts” on the bottle – ask me for what oils I use and I’ll forward you a link)
1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan salt
2 drops of Black Pepper Essential Oil (or 1/4 dried black pepper)
1 Tbs of Date Paste (see recipe below – prepare ahead) or sub with honey

Put all ingredients in a small pot and heat on low until all ingredients are combined.  Approx. 20 minutes.  You may need a lid so tomato sauce doesn’t bubble and spray everywhere.

Date Paste:

1 cup pitted medjool dates
1 cup of very hot water

Put the dates in the hot water in a bowl and let sit overnight, or even an hour.  You can massage them a little to soften them.  Then dump the water and the dates into a food processor and blend until it becomes a creamy paste.  This is the basic date paste to use in recipes in lieu of honey or sugar.  Satisfies the sweet tooth!!  (If you are going to use it as a topping for a dessert or sweet potato (tastes just like brown sugar on a sweet potato! YUM!), you may want to add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to the paste).  It keeps well in the fridge in a tight container for about a week.

The Toppings:

1 bunch fresh basil leaves, washed & shredded
1 red onion, sliced very thin
1 small zucchini, sliced very thin
1 tomato, sliced very thin
1 Tbs Nutritional Yeast (Optional) (give a cheesy flavor to the pizza)

Assembling and Baking the Pizza:

Now that your crust is baked, and cooled a bit, rub 1 Tbs of olive oil all over the crust and generously sprinkle garlic salt all over it.  (FYI – We bake the crust first without any ingredients on top, because if you try to put sauce on a wet slab of dough, it won’t cook through and you’ll have doughy pizza.) 

Spread all of the pizza sauce over the baked crust.  Sprinkle the fresh basil on top of the sauce.  Then put all of your veggies on top.  And last,  sprinkle the nutritional yeast over the top of everything.  Bake for approx. 12-14 minutes or until veggies look cooked.

Remove, cut into squares and enjoy!

Vegan Falafel with Cardamom and Coriander Oils & Tahini Sauce

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I became a fan of falafel the day I sunk my teeth into one of those warm balls of crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside, pillows of delight at an Israeli restaurant in Chicago on my lunch break.  Sorry I don’t have a photo.  I will take one the next time we make them and post it.

My husband is part Lebanese and grew up eating all sorts of Mediterranean foods.  He’s gotten me into eating some foods that I normally wouldn’t have tried.  Falafel with tahini sauce has become a cheap, healthy and easy dinner for us.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) is one of the main ingredients in falafel and is a great source of iron, protein, fiber, manganese and folate.  There are also pecans in this recipe, so there’s a little more protein for ya!  All around, it’s a great side dish or meal for any day of the week.

I found this recipe online and tweaked it a little to my liking and to sub in some essential oils for the dried herbs (dried herbs have much less flavor and aren’t as potent!).

Enjoy!



FALAFEL
  (Vegan)

INGREDIENTS:

1 15-oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed & patted dry
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced (~ 3/4 cup | or sub white onion)
2 Tbsp finely chopped pecans (or sesame seeds)
1 1/2 tsp cumin, to taste (or cumin essential oil)
1/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 drops Cardamom essential oil (send me a message for my brand)
2 drops Coriander essential oil (send me a message for my brand)
4 Tbsp whole wheat flour

3-4 Tbsp grape seed oil
Tahini Sauce for serving (see recipe below)
OPTIONAL: Panko bread crumbs for coating


INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add enough oil to generously coat the pan – about 2 Tbsp.  Swirl it around to coat.

Add chickpeas, parsley, shallot, garlic, pecans, cumin, salt, pepper, coriander and cardamom oils to a food processor and mix/pulse to combine, scraping down sides as needed.  You want a a crumbly dough, not a paste.

Add flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and pulse/mix to combine until you can mold the dough into a ball, but not sticky.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necesary.

Scoop out rounded Tablespoon amounts and gently form into 11-12 small discs (about 1/2” thick or more).

OPTIONAL STEP: Sprinkle on panko bread crumbs and gently press to adhere – flip and repeat. This will produce a crispier crust but is optional.

Once the oil is hot, add only as many falafel as will fit very comfortably in the pan at a time – about 5.

Cook for a total of 4-5 minutes, flipping when the underside is deep golden brown.  Serve warm with tahini sauce or hummus, inside a pita atop a bed of greens.

 (NOTES: Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator covered for several days. Freeze after that to keep fresh for up to 1 month.)



TAHINI SAUCE FOR FALAFEL

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup tahini sesame seed paste
3/4 cup lukewarm water, or more for consistency
3 cloves raw garlic (or 5 cloves roasted garlic)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
1/4 tsp salt (or more to taste)
2 tsp fresh parsley, minced (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put tahini paste, lukewarm water, garlic, lemon juice and salt together in a food processor or blender till sauce is creamy and ivory-colored.  You may need to scrape the sides of the processor periodically during processing.

After a few minutes of blending, sauce will turn into a rich, smooth paste.  If mixture is too thick, slowly add more water until it reaches the preferred consistency.

Taste often during the blending process; add more lemon juice or salt, if desired.

 

Homemade Eggnog With Essential Oils

Christmas, eggnog, Holiday, homemade, nutmeg, Uncategorized

‘Tis the season for a delicious mug of creamy, nutmeg-y goodness.

I’ve been wanting to taste the difference between homemade eggnog and a bottle of Dean’s thick and creamy store bought eggnog.  I have discovered that homemade eggnog is SO. MUCH. BETTER.

I wish I’d have doubled the recipe before making a batch for my family’s Christmas Eve party, because it was gone within minutes.  We loved it so much that we made it again the next day.

Adding a drop of cinnamon or cassia essential oil will give it a much deeper flavor than ground cinnamon from the shore.  Cassia oil gave it an especially unique sweetness.  Ahh!!  I love my oils!   Just make sure you only use one drop…they are potent and it may ruin the flavor of the actual nog should you use too much oil.

Below are photos of the process, so that you can see how it should look.  The actual recipe is at the bottom of this blog.

Here’s the recipe I used, and will be using every year from now on.  It is simple and easy to make.  Give it a shot if you have some extra time!

EGGNOG WITH ESSENTIAL OILS

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 drop cassia or cinnamon essential oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
5 eggs, separated
2/3 cup granulated sugar

In a saucepan, combine milk, cream, cinnamon oil, vanilla and nutmeg.  Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Once boiling, remove from the heat and allow to steep.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar until combined and thick ribbons form when the whisk is lifted.  Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to mix until the mixture is combined and smooth.

Before serving, beat the egg whites in a large bowl or stand mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold into eggnog until combined.  Store in the fridge for up to 3 days in a tightly sealed pitcher.  Or serve immediately.  If refrigerated, shake it before you serve it.  Garnish with grated nutmeg or cinnamon.  Serves 8.

I hope you love it as much as we did!

Merry Christmas!!