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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Cream and Spice Muffins

These muffins are my favorite on a cold winter morning, because they have just a hint of sweetness . . . and a savory, warm, "holiday" kind of taste.  I have mentioned before how my Aunt Kristie sent me a surprise package in the mail when we lived in Arkansas: it was a wonderful and beautiful cookbook called 1 Mix, 100 Muffins, by Susanna Tee.  [I just found out she has a new book called Whoopies! and it is on my Christmas wishlist, Allen Santa].

Growing up in a family of eight kids, we didn't have muffins very often, but whenever we did have them, it was always with hot cereal.  It has always seemed incredibly strange to me to have a breakfast in which muffins are the main (or only) course.  I don't really eat muffins without Cream O'Wheat or oatmeal or hot cracked wheat cereal.

If you don't like Cream O' Wheat, know that I feel
sorry for you.  From the bottom of my heart.

I have great memories of my dad making hot breakfast every morning.  We had cold cereal for breakfast only on Saturday mornings--other than that, it was an after-school snack.  Thanks to this tradition, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day for me.  I wake up hungry every morning, whether I am up at 5:30 or 7:00 or 10:00.  Cold cereal satisfies my hunger for about one hour, so I still eat a hot breakfast most mornings: usually eggs and whole wheat toast, or oatmeal and toast, or Greek yogurt with nuts and berries and some 5-grain mixed in.

But muffins make my breakfast special.  And my square muffin pan pushes "special" to "amazing."

If you want to try out something new for breakfast, this is a great muffin to get you started.  I also think they're a great complimentary treat for hot cocoa.

Square Muffin Pans use regular old muffin liners--when you
fill them with muffin batter, they form into the shape.
Like so . . .
Out of the oven and ready for dusting.
Dust with the magical OXO powdered sugar wand
My kids love it when I get out the muffin rack.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.  If it's not sweet enough for you, may I suggest my all-time favorite muffin?  Cinnamon Ripples . . .

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Grilled Pizza

My sister Bonnie first told me about cooking pizza on the grill.  Then my husband got interested and looked up a bunch of methods on the Internet.  His first attempts were "blackened" more than "grilled" . . . which is the nice way to say that they were burnt to the point of inedibility.  Even our chickens turned up their beaks at those carbonized scraps . . .

So, I gave it a go and mine have never looked black I have never looked back.

Nothing makes me feel more like a chef than grilling pizza outside.  The best part is that it's actually really easy and super delicious.  Your pizza will have a crispy thin crust, and your cheese and toppings get a smoky, brick-oven flavor that can't be beat.  Right now we are seeing record-breaking temperatures and I have zero desire to turn on my oven, so the grill is my best friend.

I use my regular pizza crust and homemade sauce recipes for grilled pizza.  The only difference is that because you roll the crust so thin before placing it on the grill, the dough recipe actually goes a lot farther!  I usually make 5-6 twelve-inch pizzas with one dough recipe.

The main trick to grilled pizza is to be FAST.  You want to preheat your grill on it's highest temperature with the lid closed so it will simulate an oven, then you turn the burners all the way down to low before putting your dough on the grill (so it doesn't burn).  Have your toppings ready to go right by the grill.

After you make your dough, shape it into 5-6 balls and let them
rise for a half hour, then roll out each ball on cornmeal into a thin crust

Turn your preheated grill all the way down to low, then place
your thin crust DIRECTLY on the grating of your grill.  You do
not need to spray with nonstick or otherwise oil your grill---it will
not stick.  Close the lid and let one side of your dough cook for 2-3
minutes The first crusts sometimes puff up because the grill is so hot.  

Turn over crusts with tongs or pizza peel.  Now comes the most
essential part of grilled pizza: you need to quickly spread your
sauce, cheese, and toppings on the cooked side of the crust, then close
the lid so that the cheese will melt and the toppings will cook before
the bottom of the crust burns.

Sausage needs to be pre-cooked, I also saute my mushrooms or
onions so they will be pre-cooked, too.  Ham and pepperoni are
already pre-cooked and can be placed directly on the pizza.
ALWAYS use fresh mozzarella (it comes in a one-pound, shrink-
wrapped ball), it melts better and tastes a thousand times better.
I also never make any pizza without chopped, fresh, basil, and
I cannot recommend it strongly enough.

Hawaiian and pepperoni before the lid is closed . . . 

Let your cheese and toppings slowly grill for 5-7 minutes, until
cheese is melted all the way.  Use a pizza peel to slide the cooked
pizzas onto a platter or stone, then cut and serve.

Sausage and basil grilled pizza

Hawaiian is my favorite kind of pizza . . . and if you serve it with a
yummy summer salad from your own garden, you have officially
reached a state of Summer Zen.