Mac’s Margherita Pizza

Be warned, once you start making homemade pizzas, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and other chain pizzas will pale in comparison.  Once you open Pandora’s pizza box, there’s no turning back :).

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We got tired of the way delivery pizzas tasted: too much grease, varying quality, and limited toppings.  So we started testing out ways to make our own pizzas.  Not only do you end up saving “dough” by making your own dough, but then you can put anything on the pizza that you desire.

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If you have a bread machine, or a kitchen-aid mixer with a dough hook, we highly recommend either of those methods to make a basic pizza dough.  If you are looking for a simpler approach, you can always start out how we did, making the crust from a box and then topping it with your own delicious ingredients.

One small tip: Once you have the dough rolled out, don’t forget to flash-bake the crust for a couple of minutes before putting the toppings on.  This will help it cook a bit more evenly (and avoid the dreaded soggy pizza).

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Then load it up with all of your goodies and prepare to enjoy deliciousness!

Mac's Margherita Pizza
 
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Ingredients
Toppings:
  • 3 medium Roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Dough:
  • 1⅔ cups water
  • 2½ tbsp olive oil
  • 2½ tsp. salt
  • 5⅓ cups bread flour
  • 2½ tsp. yeast
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients for the bread dough into a large mixing bowl (bread machine if you have one) and begin to mix vigorously. Once the dough starts to take shape, remove from the bowl and begin to knead it for about 10 minutes (dough should be slightly tacky). Quickly rinse and dry the mixing bowl and place ½ tbsp of olive oil in the bowl coating the sides, place your well-worked dough into the bowl, take a dish towel, make it damp by running it under hot water and hand wringing, towel should be damp but not soaked, place over the mixing bowl place it in the oven and let the dough rest for 1 hour.
  2. Now that you have the dough working, it's time to move on to the toppings. First, start by dicing the tomatoes. They should be cut into ¼-1/2 inch bits, normally I cut the tomatoes into ⅛'s then slice the rest about ⅛ of a inch.
  3. Next, you need to mince the garlic, a neat little trick up I picked up for finely chopping garlic without hassle is put a drop of olive oil on the garlic when your mincing to help keep it in a nice neat pile so it does not fly all over the cutting board.
  4. In a small mixing bowl combined minced garlic (if you don't want to mince ½ tbsp of garlic powder should do the trick as well), diced tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil (if you are using fresh basil shred the leaves by hand will reduce the browning and give you better flavor.)
  5. Here is the fun part, take your index finger of your dominate hand and stir/mix the bruschetta. Remove finger the from the bowl and give it a taste, if you're not mind-blown by how amazing it tastes, try adding more basil, garlic, or salt to your liking. At the end of the day if you don't love how it tastes now you won't like it later on your pizza.
  6. Place the mixture into the fridge and let it rest. If this is your first time making this it should take you less then 15 minutes, if you are a pro pizza maker about 5. at any rate you now have 45 minutes of "prep" time, so sit back and relax fantasizing about your families faces when you tell them you made a pizza from scratch.
  7. Ok, it's an hour since you placed the dough in the oven (hopefully you didn't turn it on) and it has doubled in size. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and plop it on your clean counters....well at least I hope they're clean. The dough recipe can make about 3 medium pizzas about 15 inches per pie. We're just making one pizza so divide the dough into thirds, leave one out, and store the rest.
  8. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  9. I typically work the dough a little bit by hand, making a relatively round flat mass before it take a rolling pin to it. Once you have a pizza looking mass of dough you want to roll it out the rest of the way. Take a small amount of flour and spread it about on the counter top (rolling surface) and place your crust in the middle, add a small amount of flour on top as well. Now we start the process of the hand made crust. It will not be a perfect circle (that is a promise), but do your best to keep the crust uniform. My technique involves a lot of turning the crust, rolling, turning, rolling, flipping over, rolling, and so on. I only have one bit of advice, try to keep the crust form sticking to the pin or rolling surface or you may have to start over if you fold it over onto itself. Once I get a relatively flat crust I pull out the pizza pan lay it over the top of the crust and begin to cut off excess dough (since it is not perfectly round, this helps make it look nicer). This process will take a few times to get used to doing but once you get the hang of things it should only take you a few minutes to knock out a pie crust to feed a whole family or two teenagers.
  10. Place your crust onto the pizza pan and insert it into the preheated oven for flash baking. This process takes 7-10 minutes depending on where you place the pan. The object here is to not fully cook the crust, but give it some fortitude against the toppings. If you like a softer crust, take it out after about 5 minutes, if you're a fan of crispy pizza, aim for about 10. Either way, once you're satisfied with your crust, remove the pan from the oven and place it on a trivet or burners so you don't ruin the counters.
  11. While you're waiting for the pizza crust to be flash baked, its time to cut the cheese *snickers to himself* (I know i'm being juvenile). Depending on the type of cheese you buy depends on this process. If it's shredded mozzarella, you're all set. We use fresh water packed mozzarella so what I do is remove it from the packaging and give it a delicate squeeze to get some excess moisture out, then cut it into ⅛ inch slices. I then cut the slices in half and and dice the rest into a ½ inch sections. Now the great thing is it will all melt down so uniformity is not 100% necessary unless like me you like the artistry.
  12. At this point your pizza dough should be coming out of the oven looking amazing if i do say so myself, and ready for the toppings. first go to the fridge and remove the bruschetta, using your hands pull out the bruschetta giving it a squeeze over the bowl so as to remove some of the liquid (not all because it has amazing flavor that will add to the pizza.) now smear it all over the crust as if you were spreading jelly. Next comes the cheese, Again if your slightly OCD you have a system, if your like household six, random cheese bombardment will taste equally as good. My system involves intricate spacing and precision, in a clockwise manner so each circle is symmetrical and consistent but hey, its pizza so do as you will.
  13. Now that all the toppings are set and ready to go place the pizza into the oven and reduce the temperature to 350. 15-20 minutes later your crust will be a nice golden brown (unless your a New York pizza type), cheese melted, and pizza ready for consumption. Sometimes the fresh mozzarella can leave excess liquid on the top of the pizza, if this happens just use a paper towel and dab up some of the excess so you're not serving pizza soup.
  14. Last and most important step in the process: enjoy the pizza. Best served with friends and/or family that will adorn you with praises of how amazing your cooking is!

 

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Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato (B.L.T.) Lite

I’m pleased to announce that we are back from hiatus!  Lots of family events, graduations, births, and other special occasions have kept us quite busy!  Now that the season is turning colder, that means more time indoors, and more time for making (and in my case eating) delicious food!

Bacn, Lettuce, and Tomato Salad

As we all know, bacon makes everything better.  Matter of fact, it is what brought CPL Mac and I together in the first place.  The very first and only word that I ever said to CPL Mac when we first spoke was in fact, bacon. Apparently bacon is all you need to start a relationship and several years later you end up happily married.

Bacon actually gets a pretty bad rap considering one slice is only a little over 40 calories.  Sure, you can’t eat a whole plate of it without paying a price, but you can sure use it to liven up a salad without too much consequence.  So without further ado, check out the Culinary Corporal’s version of a “deconstructed” B.L.T.

B.L.T. Lite
 
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So if you're like me and you think salad, you just want to drown out the flavors of veggies with something spectacular. Well I have good news, there is nothing more spectacular then BACON! Today's menu is a play on a BLT. Every good BLT has to have three things, bacon, bacon, and a bit more bacon....OK fine you can add lettuce, tomatoes, and bread to the list as well.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of lettuce
  • One medium sized Roma tomato
  • 2 Strips of Bacon
  • 10-12 Sour Cream and Onion Triscuits (or flavored cracker of choice)
  • ¼ cup of Shredded Smoked Gouda Cheese
Instructions
  1. I can't stress this enough cook your bacon well, there are a billion and seven different ways to prepare your bacon, convection, broil, bake, fry, even sadly enough microwave. It doesn't really matter who you choose to cook your bacon, but just make sure its done. Depending on your method it can take as little as 90 seconds to cook your bacon, make a determination and go for it; if you use a slower method you need to allow time for it to finish so you're not sitting there salivating over your half completed salad staring woefully into your convection oven.
  2. Take your lettuce and wash well. Shred it by hand to make it nice bite-sized chunks. Place it a medium sized mixing bowl.
  3. Dice your tomato. Normally I try and cut them into half inch cubes or smaller so there well dispersed throughout the salad. Sprinkle them lightly with salt to really bring out the tomato goodness.
  4. Toss your tomatoes into the mixing bowl and toss well. We are not using any dressing so the tomato juice should coat most of the leaves and this is important for the next step
  5. Put your 12 (or more) wheat thin crackers into a food processor if you have one, if not just place them in a bag and go all hulk smash until they are fantastic little crumbles to top the salad.
  6. Since the above steps should take you all of 2 minutes to complete I imagine right about now there is a lovely aroma of bacon in the air, remove your bacon from the cookery of choice and mince it into little morsels no bigger then about a finger nail.
  7. You should now have a mixing bowl with red and green ready to get supper yummy, here's the fun part. Dump all the crumbled up wheat thin bits into the mixing bowl and jostle it, make sure all the little crumbles cover are pervading every bite, this will give your salad a wonderful crunch, just like the toast of a BLT.
  8. Now arrange your salad on the serving vessel of your choosing top with the minced bacon bits and cheese, serve, and impress.

 

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Posted in Dinner, Lunch

Quick Chicken Tacos

So, on this site we’ve posted a few great ideas on what to add into your tacos, from homemade shells to salsa chicken. Here’s what household 6 and I had for dinner last night. Its fast, simple and perfect for using up some leftover delectable ingredients!

We’ve used some of our favorite recipes as ingredients for this dish, check them out below!
Sour Cream and Yum
CPL Mac’s Salsa Smack
Cheesy Garlic Flour Tortillas
Salsa Chicken

Quick Chicken Tacos
 
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Ingredients
  • Sour Cream and Yum
  • CPL Mac's Salsa Smack
  • Cheesy Garlic Flour Tortilla
  • Salsa Chicken
  • 1 beefsteak tomato
  • ½ avocado
  • jalapeño slices
  • ¼ cup garlic cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)
  • butter (as needed)
  • olive oil (as needed)
Instructions
  1. If you spend the last ½ hour cooking/prepping your ingredients everything will be fresh and ready to go. But I am going to assume that you are like me and cooking an hour at the end of a long day seems a bit too much. Here is the fast, simple way to compile all the cold ingredients
  2. Start with the taco shells. They are probably a bit dry and not too pliable. Nobody likes a sharp taco shell, so take a skillet add a smidgen of butter, turn the burner to as low as it can go, lay on shell for about 10 seconds per side, just enough to warm it up and make it nice and soft.
  3. Next, take your Salsa Chicken out of the fridge and chop it up into bite-sized portions, ½ by ¼ of an inch sections. Use a little bit of oil, take ¼ cup of your CPL Mac Salsa Smack and add it to the chicken and oil over low heat for about 2 mins or until it's nice and hot. This will dry out your chicken a little bit, but hey two day old fridge chicken will never taste better! Also, the liquid from the salsa will help retain some of the moisture.
  4. While your chicken is cooking off this is your chance to start building your taco to perfection. Take your beefsteak and chop it into bite sized portions no more then ¼ inch cubes.
  5. Slice your avocado down right down the middle and pull out the seed. Not gonna lie this is my favorite part preparing an avocado. Take one half put it in the fridge or make some guacamole. For the second half, slice it right down the middle and peel. Use your knife and thinly slice the avocado into creamy green slices of delight.
  6. Next chop up your jalapeño slices into nice spicy nibbles. I know you're salivating right now, but you're almost finished.
  7. Hurry up and turn around! Ok, your chicken is perfect. Turn off the heat place your incredible, delectable chicken onto your taco shell in a row straight down the middle.
  8. Add tomatoes, avocados, jalapeños, and Sour Cream and Yum to your preference
  9. Now take your garlic cheddar cheese and sprinkle it lightly on top. If you don't mind a sloppy taco, add about a tablespoon of Mac's Salsa to add the extra kick.
  10. POOF! your done, call in the kids, wives, neighbors, in-laws, whoever you want. Now impress them by saying it only took you 10 minutes and everything is from scratch!

 

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Posted in Dinner, Lunch, Mexican

Sour Cream and Yum

The best part of sour cream is the ability to temper a spicy food. So what we’re doing today is making a sour cream that adds not only the cooling effect, but great flavor!  

We used this recipe in our taco recipe that we’ll be sharing soon, but it’s super versatile and can also be used for dips or to dress other food items.

Sour Cream and Yum
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 10 mini sweet peppers
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 teaspoon lime juice (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of salted butter
Instructions
  1. First, take your mini sweet peppers and dice them up. You don’t need to go crazy, but the smaller they are the faster they will cook. Mince your garlic clove, but try and keep the peppers and garlic about the same size.
  2. In a small pan over high heat add cumin, wait about 45 seconds, and you should get a nice toasted cumin smell that fills the air. Quickly turn the heat to low and add your butter. Once the butter melts make sure the butter is infused with the cumin, just swish it around the pan a bit.
  3. Turn the heat up to medium and add your garlic and peppers. Now just let them cook. What you really want is your garlic to get a slightly browned and your peppers to end up with the edges moderately charred (blackened). You need to make sure you're mixing often to keep the garlic from burning and getting bitter.
  4. Once you get the peppers and garlic to color/texture, you want to remove them from the heat and toss them into a food processor. If your food processor can't handle high heat, let them cool on the counter; about 5 min should bring them to room temperature.
  5. Add the peppers, garlic, sour cream, and lime juice in a food processor and mix. If you want it to be smooth, just keep blending. If you like some crunchy garlic bites you can just pulse it a few times. KAPOW! You got some freaking good dipping sauce or extra special sour cream to add to a taco!

 

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Posted in Dinner, Dips, Lunch, Mexican

CPL Mac’s Salsa Smack!

I personally like spicy salsa so I add 10-15 jalapeno slices or fire roast a whole fresh jalapeno (takes a little of the kick out of it). I suggest you tweak the proportions ’til you find the mix that works for you. This recipe is more of a jumping off point so you can develop your flavors as you desire.

I’m personally allergic to onions so I don’t add them to my food, but I know they add great flavor. Try adding some fresh onion or chives to the salsa for another layer of fabulous flavor.

(Pictures to come)

CPL Mac's Salsa Smack!
 
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Ingredients
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 1 can of green chili peppers, (4.5-ounce Can)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of salt (more to taste)
  • 5 jalapeno slices (more if desired)
Instructions
  1. Ok, this is a super complex insanely difficult to make, so make sure you follow all the directions 100% in the correct order in order to avoid epic disaster.
  2. Take EVERYTHING toss it all into a blender..... BLEND! Finished!
  3. I know I apologize for the complexity of the salsa, but it's totally worth it.

 

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