Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Hey all- I hope you're year is off to a good start! I'm going to just start this out by being honest here - I am not really feeling my best about how this blog revival is going already and am feeling a little discouraged. I made several new recipes this past weekend - "crazy" cookies, this stomboli and cinnamon apple crunch muffins. They were all fantastic and delicious but I just didn't get to photograph/style the food in a way that makes me feel the food looks its' most appealing. But I'm not going to let this hold me back - I am going to post this stromboli recipe because it was amazing and I will just have to work up to finding the time to get the pictures right. Maybe I shouldn't make this a big deal and perhaps it is not as important as I am making it out to be, but it still remains my goal for the future.  I definitely will be making the cookies and muffins again in the future so there will be other times to try and capture those recipes to share. 

Anyways - on to more important things - this stromboli!! Before this, I don't think I have ever ordered/made/eaten stromboli but I wanted to try something new and thought this would be fun. We are big pizza fans in our house and I wanted to try changing things up a bit this time. The dough that I made is kind of an all-purpose dough that can be prepared ahead of time and then used for a number of different recipes. The creator of this dough, Gemma Stafford shows how to use it for pizza, focaccia, cheese bread, soft pretzels, or even cinnamon rolls on her blog. I have used it to make garlic knots and grilled pizza in the past and knew it would perfect to try this way as well. You can of course use a regular pizza dough recipe or buy a ball of pizza dough from the grocery store or a local pizza place.  I did a pepperoni, mushroom, bell pepper, and onion combo in this stromboli but you can use whatever filling suits you. If you are using vegetables, make sure to saute or steam them first so they are tender and if using meats like hamburger or chicken, be sure to cook through completely before filling the stromboli.  I was super impatient and hungry and cut into this without letting it cool enough so you can't quite see that there is a nice fluffy layer of the dough in the center of the stromboli - almost like a big pizza roll. We sliced this up and enjoyed it with a yummy Caesar salad. It had all the flavor components of pizza - tomato sauce, melty cheese, savory toppings, and a crunchy bottom crust. Next time, I think I would divide the dough in half and make two smaller strombolis, possibly with different fillings. This one was massive, definitely enough for several hungry adults. If you make this recipe, let me know how you decide to fill it and how it comes out. I would love to hear your ideas!  

P.S. I listened to Endless Beautiful Session 54: Toaster Oven while writing the content of this blog post. If you missed my post from last week - this is a weekly podcast that contains a 15 minute audio prompt to help inspire you to do something creative (writing, painting, drawing, composing music, etc). Head over to their website, check out a podcast and give it a try! 


1 cup warm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 egg

1. Combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl, mix well and allow to rest for about five minutes. The mixture will start to lightly bubble and become frothy if your yeast is active. 
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix well. The dough should be a bit sticky but not too wet/goopy or too dry/shaggy. Add a bit more flour or a bit more water depending on what you need to get the dough right. 
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just a few turns. This just helps make sure the dough is completely mixed and well combined.  
4. Wash out your bowl, grease with a few drops of oil or non-stick spray and add the dough ball back into the bowl.
5. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it proof in a warm spot.  The amount of time depends on when you plan on using the dough. I made this the day before so I just left mine out for about an hour and popped it into the fridge overnight. If you are using the dough right away, I would proof for two hours and then make your recipe.  

Notes: As I mentioned before, this dough can be used as sort of an all-purpose dough - make flatbreads, focaccia, pizza, cinnamon rolls, soft pretzels, you name it. Can be stored in the refrigerator for three days or frozen for a couple of months.  

1/2 cup pizza or tomato sauce
1 cup shredded mozzeralla cheese 
25-35 slices pepperoni 
1/2 cup mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 tsp olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Garlic powder
Salt & pepper
1 egg

1. If you made your dough ahead of time, let it sit at room temperature for one hour before beginning assembly.
2. To prepare your fillings, saute the vegetables in the olive oil over medium high heat for a few minutes until tender but still firm. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Let cool for 10 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 500F. 
4. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and begin stretching your dough out into a rectangle, as evenly as possible. You can also do this on a floured surface with a rolling pin and then transfer to the parchment lined sheet pan. I used a half sheet pan and stretched my dough out to about 1" smaller than the pan on each side. 
5. Spread the sauce and then the cheese out evenly over the entire dough, leaving a 1/2" border. The amount listed in this recipe is an estimate - adjust these quantities up or down to your tastes 
6. Place a single layer of pepperoni all over the dough and then evenly spread your veggie toppings all over as well.  
7. On the two short sides, roll about 1" of dough in on top of itself to start forming a sealed edge on the sides. From the long side, starting at the top, fold the dough down 1/3 of the way, like you would fold a letter and then fold the bottom up to form a log. Press the dough seam together and then roll the dough so the seam is on the bottom, as best you can.  
8. Brush the dough with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a splash of water) and sprinkle the top with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. 
9. Place the Stromboli into the oven for 10 minutes and then turn down the temperature to 375F and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
10. Let the Stromboli stand for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving.


Friday, January 5, 2018

Chewy Gooey Salted Caramels

Hey friends -  Happy New Year! I have decided to revive the blog and try to give this another go around now that my two little ones aren't quite as little (although they are still pretty little- 16 months and 3 3/4 as he loves to tell me). My time is slightly more flexible and I have decided to focus more on creative efforts this year. My hopes are to try a new recipe on the weekend, photograph it and then write a blog post some time during the week. One of the things that I struggled with in the last few months of my more active blogging times was that I didn't have the quality photos that I really wanted to strive for here. I was either lacking in natural light or I didn't have the time to use my DSLR camera and properly upload and edit the way I intended for this blog to be. My original goal when I started this blog was for it to be a place for me to put my favorite recipes to look back on later, to be inspired to try new recipes, and to document the way food influenced my life.
Another part of the reason that my posting fell off.....and by that I mean went on complete hiatus for uhhh too many months to count, was that I was feeling very uninspired. I could always write down the recipes but I couldn't find the right words to fill the blog posts. So if my time allows me, I am going to try this part a new way and see how it goes. My sister and her partner host a creative podcast/workshop weekly called Endless Beautiful in which they provide a 15 minute audio prompt to help others find inspiration for creative activities (writing, drawing, composing, etc). I have tried listening and freestyle writing a few times now and although I have come up with some ideas I don't find that I am really a writer in the traditional sense of sitting down and just creating a story or poem or anything really. I mostly just ended up coming out with a mind dumb of garbage that floats around in my brain and I didn't really feel happy to share that with anyone.  Today though, I stumbled upon this old draft chewy, gooey caramel post that contained nothing but photos and decided maybe I could try their creativity session another way. Maybe it can inspire me to write more in this blog.  I am also contemplating doing some video style food journals and may share those here as well.  So we will see how this goes. Here's to a new year and a new effort to be creative.  Please head over to their website, pick one of their podcasts to listen to and try something creative!   

I make these caramels every year around the holidays and share them as gifts with everyone that I know. I have gone back and forth about sharing this recipe because I sort of selfishly enjoy the idea of having a secret recipe that I keep for myself, but I have decided that in the end that really is no fun. It seems to me that these caramels bring happiness to anyone who eats them and that is what food is really all about to me - providing enjoyment and deliciousness. What better way to celebrate the joy of these caramels than to share the recipe so that anyone and everyone can try it for themselves.  It might seem intimidating at first to make candy at home but if you are careful and follow the directions, it will be worth your while! Please make sure to invest in a candy thermometer before trying this recipe because it will provide accuracy and helps the caramels turn out perfectly. They are fairly inexpensive and can be found in most grocery or retail stores that sell kitchenware or online.

Chewy Gooey Salted Caramels

3 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup (optional)
2 cups heavy cream
10 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1/2 tsp large flake sea salt, divided

1. Prepare a 9x13 pan by lining with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray or line with a piece of parchment paper and set it aside on a heat proof surface or cooling rack.

2. In a large, heavy bottom pot with tall sides, add the sugar, water and corn syrup and stir together. The corn syrup helps give the caramels a chewier texture but can be left out if desired.

3. Run a pastry brush that has been dipped in water around the sides of the pot to wash down any sugar granules that are stuck to the side of the pot. These rouge sugar granules can cause the caramel to become grainy later if not removed.

4. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and turn the heat to medium high. Let the sugar cook without stirring until it begins to turn amber in color and begins to smell like caramel. This is usually around 330F on the candy thermometer for me but be sure to watch your pot carefully. Do not walk away, answer the phone, stop to change a diaper, play a game of hide and seek.....etc.

5.Once the sugar has caramelized to your liking, add the heavy cream, butter, and vanilla paste or extract. The mixture will begin to steam and bubble like crazy and it will look like the whole batch has split or gone funky. Don't worry, when everything begins to melt and come back up to temperature it will all recombine.

6. Begin stirring with a whisk or silicone spatula and stir constantly until the caramel reaches 245F to 246F on your candy thermometer. This is just slightly below the hardball stage 248F which is where caramels are normally cooked to. I like to go just under that stage because the caramels set nicely but they are left really gooey and chewy - almost creamy in consistency.

7. Remove your candy thermometer and pour the caramel into your prepared pan. Do NOT scrape the pot out, just pour out what you can and leave the residue.  Scraping the pot could cause your caramel to set with a grainy or unpleasant texture.  Wait about 10 minutes and sprinkle the sea salt over the top of the caramels, to your tastes.

8. Let the caramels set for at least 3 hours. If your house is hot, they may need to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before cutting. Turn the set caramels out onto a cutting board, peel back the parchment paper or aluminum foil and use a large knife or pizza wheel to cut into approximately 1" squares

9. Cut 3" wax paper squares and wrap each piece of caramel individually. Place the caramel in the center of the paper at the top edge, fold the paper around the caramel until it is enclosed and then twist each side of the paper around to seal.

10. This makes a ton of caramels - put them in baggies and give them to everyone that you know!