Sunday, May 31, 2009

Decadent Chocolate Cake

This is the cake I made for my and my mother-in-law's birthdays for the big BBQ we had this weekend. It was so good I just have to share where I got the recipe and what I did to make it so yummy! It was received well by everyone.

Also, this is my last day of NaBloPoMo and I did it!! I did 31 blog posts in 31 days for the whole month of May, I did it!! I will do it again, just not the rest of the summer because we have many many plans this summer for fun things outside. But I can say that I did it! Ok, back to the cake.

The cake recipe I used was one I found from a fellow food blogger at Food and Passion and it was wonderful! So moist and chocolaty, it was just what the doctor ordered for a great chocolate fix. I made it even more decadent because I put in Philly Cheesecake filling in between the layers. The cheesecake just gave it that something that put it over the edge of rich and yummy! Other than that I followed her directions to the letter to make this cake and the chocolate ganache that frosted the outside of this cake.

Check it out! It was fantastic! Try it yourself, very easy recipe. Here is the link to that recipe one more time: Food and Passion Dark and Moist One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache and now here are some more pictures to convince you to go visit Food and Passion and make this cake!

Here is the cake before frosting with the chocolate ganache. I took the 2 thick layers the recipe made and cut them in half to make a 4 layer cake to have more cheesecake filling. It was so good!

This is the cake after frosting with the chocolate ganache.

And here is the slice, before I gobbled it up! It was so yummy and rich, one slice was enough... for now! Having some more later!

Now, if that isn't enough to convince you to go make this cake... I don't know what else to do. It is that good, and so easy to make. The instructions for this cake were so simple, that makes it even better! Go make some! You will be glad you did!

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Trip to the Beach and Cioppino

Today I was not working so me and the family decided to go to Westport WA right on the Pacific Ocean. Our goal was to play at the beach and just enjoy the day; however, Mother Nature had other plans. It was so cold and windy and we did not bring coats or wear long pants. It was about 85 degrees when we left home and about 60 when we got to the beach with high winds. Needless to say we did not stay long, which brought me to my second and third goals.

Second on my list of things to do was to go to my favorite candy shop and buy saltwater taffy. This is the only place I buy it because it is the real deal and it is so yummy and fresh. They have so many flavors it makes a person's head double take at all the cool flavors. They also have a great fudge counter, but saltwater taffy takes the center stage with me when I go here. It is called Gifts Ahoy Sea Shanty and anyone who visits Westport must go here to get taffy, fudge, and really cool gifts. It is right across the street from all the piers and floats right there in the heart of this wonderful fishing town of Westport WA.
Check out all the taffy flavors. And, I didn't even get all of them in the pictures, there was also taffy above and below the middle racks of which is pictured here. They have so many flavors, it is a taffy lover's dream.

Then my third goal of this visit was to go to the floating seafood shop called Seafood Connection right on the water at Float 8 on the Westport fishing piers. This is one of the best places in Westport to buy seafood. It is fresh off the boats and when it is sold out, there is nothing frozen or anything. Once it is gone, it is gone; you wait until tomorrow if you want seafood from here. It is so fresh. The cool thing is that it floats, you can actually feel the waves beneath your feet as you shop and they wrap up your seafood and ice it right there. You can buy live crabs, live prawns, halibut, and many other types of seafood. This is where I bought my seafood for my Cioppino that we had for dinner. Nothing like a fresh seafood meal with some yummy sourdough to round out a great day.

Another unexpected treat we got was a sea lion popped up out of the water while we were walking down the pier to go back to the car, he was so close and I had put my camera away. I was pretty disappointed that he did not rear his head again as he was maybe 4 feet away from us and that picture would have been great! But we saw him again from afar and so this is the picture I got.

Yes the little dot in the water is the sea lion. They know when the fishing boats come in and hang out while they throw out any fish parts they do not need, or bait they did not use, so they can get a feast when the charter boats come in.

Here is the wonderful seafood I purchased. We got a dungeness crab, mussels, clams, and part of a halibut fillet.

Ok if you have made it this far in this great day story, then here is the recipe for the Cioppino. It is an adaptation of a recipe I found online at Mama Chios Shellfish Cioppino and I changed it up a little bit to make it a little less spicy and to use what I had on hand and what seafood was in season. Just click the link to get the original recipe and here is the changes included.


1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley leaves
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup merlot wine (we used Fat Bastard Merlot, it was also so good to drink; it is also a great priced bottle at $10 a bottle that tastes like we paid more, it was really good)
2 cups chopped roma tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 cups water

1 dungeness crab, shelled
3/4 lb halibut fillet, cut into bite sized chunks
1 lb clams
1 lb mussels

Heat oil and butter in large pot. Add onion, parsley, and garlic. Cook until onion is transparent. Add wine and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices. Stir frequently while cooking 15-20 minutes. Add water, cover, simmer for 30 minutes. Add all seafood except halibut to sauce. Add more water if necessary to make sure all shellfish is covered. Cook for 5 minutes; add halibut, and cook additional 10 minutes. When clams have opened, cioppino is ready to serve.

- if any clams or mussels have not opened, discard them.
- We ate this with some sourdough bread to soak up broth.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

What a Great Birthday!

Yes, today is my birthday. I am 29 and holding... or as one of my friends says, "I am 29 plus shipping and handling and I am getting quite expensive to go anywhere" That makes me laugh whenever I hear that. I am getting older, but as the old saying goes; Aging like fine wine is what I am. I just cannot remember who said that but it is someone I am related to, just can't remember who. Oh My Gosh.. they say the first thing to go is the mind and with me forgetting things, who knows. Oh well on with my day. I will stop being philosophical because I am no good at it.

My day started out like most any day, I got the kids on the bus and sat down with coffee. But I had plans; plans to shop and buy some things that I wanted and things I did not need. I succeeded. My first stop was of course Starbucks for an Espresso Truffle. I have come to love this concoction of a drink, it is so flavorful to the point of almost being addicting. I savored my coffee as I drove to downtown Olympia for my first real stop on my day of fun (I should say my morning of fun since I was with no kids and able to go shop for myself, that is until 12:30 when the bus comes to bring home my preschooler). Anyway, my first stop was at a very cool little shop downtown right near Farmer's Market called Einmaleins and if you are visiting Olympia WA or you live here in Olympia or near here, you have to go into this store at 121 State Ave downtown. Mathias is such a nice person and we had a great chat in the store while I was purchasing my newest cookbook, Flavors by Donna Hay. He also had some chocolate on the counter that was coffee infused chocolate and it was so good, I should have bought some. I could have eaten that as my morning treat with my Espresso Truffle, but I had to resist since I was having other treats during my day. You can find him at the site (just click the Einmaleins name above, or he is @einmaleins on Twitter. Look him up, he is a neat person and I look forward to going back to his store soon (after all I have to buy up the rest of the Donna Hay cookbooks, I really like that the recipes are simple and don't take 15 million ingredients to get something yummy on the table). See you another time Mathias!

Onward was next to Farmer's Market where I bought herb plants and a couple of pepper plants. I attempted to grow my own herb garden from seeds and failed... miserably. I do not think I am cut out to grow things from seeds, I have failed now a few times so now I give up and will always buy plants instead. I got some really nice herbs (chocolate mint, greek oregano, sweet basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and lavender; I have always wanted to experiment with lavender, I hear people rave about it). Then I bought a green bell pepper and red bell pepper plant. I look forward to planting those this evening after the hot sun goes down with my little planting helper (who happens to be 4 years old and has an aversion to dirt and hates to get dirty so this is my chance to expose her to dirt... again). Oh, and I also bought her a sunflower plant because her little seedlings died also. She wanted to grow her own sunflower, so now she can.

Then again it was on to Jay's Produce Stand because I wanted to get some more things for the house and it is really fun shopping there because the prices are so good, I can buy a lot and not worry about cost. This time I spent $14.90 and got basically heavy things such as:
Cantaloupe 3 lbs/$1
On the vine tomatoes 84 cents/lb
baby lemons 10/$1
baby limes 5/$1
cauliflower 69 cents/lb
navel oranges 59 cents/lb
bananas 49 cents/lb
pink lady apples 69 cents/lb
asparagus 79 cents/lb (I have never seen asparagus that inexpensive and so I also ordered my 40 lbs of asparagus for canning next week, I will pay for that when I go pick it up)

Again, Jay's did not let me down. I still think this place is hands down the best produce stand in Thurston County, anyone who lives here should visit. They are on Mud Bay Road on the west side of Olympia WA.

Then I did some other things today; took Nicole to Taekwondo, went and picked up pizza, had dinner, went to Walmart, etc etc yadda yadda. Then Nessa (my 4 yr old little helper) helped me to plant my plants I bought at Farmer's Market and planted her sunflower. It was a lot of fun watching her try to avoid getting her hands dirty or her clothes dirty, she sure took a long time to plant her one little plant because of that. You will notice all my plants are in pots; well, that is because we live in an apartment and have no actual ground to plant directly into. So we have to use pots, but it still enables me to have my fresh herbs and homegrown tomatoes which is what I want because they are better that way.

One more birthday on the books is now almost past. This year it is 39, next year is 40 but I am confident that I am going to age gracefully like fine wine! So this is also day 29 on the books of NaBloPoMo and looks like I am going to make it to 31 days this month of blogging. YAY me! I usually never back down from a challenge.. ok well a challenge like this anyway.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza

This is what I call a masterpiece! BBQ Pulled Pork in a pizza; especially since pizza is my favorite food of all time. You can do anything with a pizza with any kind of toppings. Here we used leftover pulled pork and homemade BBQ sauce to make this pizza. It was so good. It was my first attempt at grilling a pizza and it failed. Only because the BBQ ran out of propane and smoked a lot while it was cooking for the short time that it did. It was finished in the oven on the pizza stone. But, it was still yummy!

First, I made a basic pizza dough (any favorite dough will do, my recipe is as follows after the picture). Nothing fancy as I did not want it to overpower everything on the pizza.

Basic Pizza Dough:
3 1/4 cups flour
1 packet of active dry yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup warm water (about 120-130 degrees)
2 Tbsp olive oil

In a bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, yeast, and salt. Add water and oil. Beat with electric mixer on low until all incorporated. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time and beat with dough hooks until as much of the flour is incorporated and a dough is formed. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead in any extra flour remaining until you get an elastic consistency, keeping surface floured while kneading so it doesn't stick. Put into a greased bowl and let rise with a kitchen towel over the top until double. Punch down and divide in half. Let rest 10 minutes. Form your pizza crust. Bake for about 5 minutes at 400 degrees so it does not rise anymore. At this point, the other crust can be packaged to be frozen for use later if needed. It is always good to have pizza crust on hand.

The toppings I used for this BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza is:
- fresh pineapple
- black olives
- fresh chopped spinach
- 3 cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan)

First, put on some BBQ sauce on the crust, as thick or thin as you want. It just depends on how saucy you want your sauce. Click here for my favorite BBQ sauce recipe

Then, you spread on the leftover BBQ pulled pork over the sauce. You can make this as thick or as thin as you want. It also depends on how much leftover you have, in this case, we had a lot of leftover because it was a large pork shoulder roast.

Next, I put on the fresh pineapple and black olives...

Then, it was a thin layer of mozzarella cheese and the chopped spinach...

And then, the rest of the cheese with the parmesan on the very top.

So now that the pizza is built, it is time for the grill (or so I thought) I preheated the grill outside. I put the pizza on the pizza stone (since I was told that it was good to use the pizza stone if I did not want the whole bottom charred, which I didn't since I am not that fond of charred bread products) and took it outside and put it on the grill.

However, just about 5 minutes into the cooking... all the flames went out and it was smoking so badly, I thought I was just going to turn it off anyway and bring it into the house. But it helped that the grill also ran out of propane. Just my luck! I cleaned the grill really good too before putting on the pizza which led me to believe that it was below the grill that needed the cleaning. So, to make a long story short... I finished the pizza in the oven in the house. I baked it at 400 degrees for another 10 minutes and it was done and so yummy! Although the crust was a little crispier than I would have liked, but it was still good! Check this out...

And this...

And finally this one...

It was so good! We ate the whole thing! Just me and the kids... dang, we must have been hungry.. I will have to make this again when Cooking Dad is home, he was out on the road, I almost felt guilty of eating all of it. Almost. But, not quite. Now it is your turn, go and make the best grilled pizza you can but remember this: Make sure your grill is clean inside and out, and that it has propane!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chocolate Mousse with Blueberry Topping

The other night I was wanting some yummy chocolate mousse and when Cooking Dad went to the store, he picked a box of chocolate mousse mix up. (He thought he would simplify my life with the mix, he is so sweet!). So I thought I want it a little more decadent and yummy; I made this with chocolate cups as the bowl for my chocolate mousse. The blueberry topping was so easy to make that I will make it more often for pancakes and waffles. I just used regular whipping cream and used a little bit of chocolate from the chocolate cups to make the little chocolate decorations on top. It was a hit, especially with the kids. They ate double helpings of dessert (every once in a while, double helpings of dessert is ok).

First off I had to make the chocolate cups. So I used milk chocolate chips (I already had those in the house) and melted them. Then I lined the muffin tins with cupcake liners and poured in some chocolate. Then used a pastry brush to brush it up onto the liner up to the brim of the liner. In the freezer they went for about 20 minutes to harden. It was not an easy task to peel off the cupcake liners, but eventually they got done and I had chocolate cups to put the mousse in. These are not the most glamorous looking chocolate cups but since it was just for family and the kids helped, they were just perfect for us.

This is the box of chocolate mousse I had to work with. It was easy to make and very creamy. Usually I would have just gotten myself a great recipe for homemade chocolate mousse; but, I figured there was room to dress this up while I had the box. After making to package instructions, I refrigerated it until I had the blueberry sauce ready and cooled. In the meantime, the chocolate cups are just chilling out in the fridge waiting to be filled and devoured.

To make the blueberry sauce, I just took about 2 cups of frozen blueberries (thawed) + 1/4 cup of the juice, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp water (mixed it up so I have a white cornstarch liquid). Put the blueberries, juice, and sugar in a sauce pan and heated just until boiling. Add the cornstarch liquid and stir until thickened on low heat. Set aside and cool. Now, back to the chocolate cups.

The process in which I filled and dressed up the chocolate mousse is as follows:
1. You get out your chocolate cup from the fridge.

2. Add enough chocolate mousse until it just comes about 1/2 inch from the top (this is to make room for the blueberry topping and whipped cream)

3. Then add the blueberries and whipped cream (garnish with chocolate decoration which I made just by putting some of the leftover melted chocolate in a baggie; cut off a corner of the baggie and by the looks of this chocolate, I made the hole too big. I piped it onto parchment paper and let it harden and you can do this in any decoration you choose, it is very easy) And, there you go, you have a dressed up chocolate mousse that was very easy to make and looks pretty too so you can even have this when company comes. The kids thought it was fabulous and they had fun helping too.

Just remember you can use any fruit that you think will go well with chocolate, I just happened to have blueberries in the freezer so that is what I used. I can see a cherry, raspberry, or even strawberry filling added to this and it would be equally good. Have fun with it and just be creative!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Grilled Corn with Pepper Mayonnaise

The unofficial start to summer was upon us this Memorial Day weekend. It was sunny and gorgeous the whole time; here in western WA, we have not seen a more gorgeous weekend in years. It usually rains. So we thought we would grill us up some dinner last night. Cooking Dad made us some wonderful BBQ country ribs, baked beans; but what stood out the most was the corn he made. He decided he wanted something different than a regular corn on the cob, he wanted something more exciting. So he thought he would grill the corn. But he also wanted something else other than butter on that corn. We have a huge jar of mayonnaise and he thought he would try his hand at concocting a spread or sauce for that corn. He came up with the Pepper Mayonnaise that was wonderful on the corn. He did a good job at his first try to make up his own recipe. I was going to call it Roasted Red Pepper Mayonnaise, but he wanted it just called Pepper Mayonnaise, since he thought you could probably interchange the peppers from either red or green (or another color) and make it different if you wanted a spicy Mexican style mayonnaise. So Pepper Mayonnaise it is.

Grilled Corn with Pepper Mayonnaise

8 ears of corn, husked and small ends cut down (makes for more even cooking without the ends getting burned)
salt to flavor corn

Pepper Mayonnaise
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup roasted pepper, chopped fine (we used red, and here is the link to how to roast peppers Click Here
2 Tbsp finely diced shallots
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley, Italian or regular, it does not matter
1 tsp finely chopped basil

Mix up the pepper mayonnaise, reserving about 1/3 cup for on the table (we did not think to do this so our corn was smathered really good with the mayonnaise, I would have liked to have this on the table as well as on the corn, so we thought of reserving while writing the recipe).

Grill the corn about 5 minutes directly on the grill so it gets browned. Then spread Pepper Mayonnaise all around each ear.

Wrap each ear in foil, grill for 8 minutes turning once over medium flame.

Serve and enjoy! It was so good! Wish we would have thought before eating to save some Pepper Mayonnaise for on the side, that would have been even more heavenly!

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Roasting Peppers

Happy Memorial Day! To those service men and women who serve our country here and abroad, and for those who have fallen... I thank you for all you do to preserve our freedom in this great country!

Cooking Dad wanted to make some roasted red peppers for his Roasted Red Pepper Mayo which he is putting on our grilled corn on the cob today for part of our wonderful BBQ dinner. He really didn't know how to do it, so I told him. Here is the instructions for some wonderful roasted peppers. The key is blackening the peppers so they peel easily to then roast them in the oven.

The method I told him to do for blackening the skin on the peppers was the grilling method outside. A person can also use the cookie sheet under the broiler or an indoor grill for blackening the skins on peppers.

Here is when we first put the peppers on the grill, they are indeed red. (they changed colors as they cooked from red to orange before becoming blackened).

Then as they are grilling they start to turn black; and, they smell so good! They are starting to turn orange while they are blackening.

When he took them off the grill, they are pretty blackened. This way you can peel off the skins after they have sat either in a paper bag or under a kitchen towel for about 5 minutes.

Well, I should have told him to get a large red pepper, because then maybe the peeling would have been easier for him. Instead we bought a bag of small peppers at Costco so that I could have other peppers for cooking and those baby peppers make great snacks. Our kids love to just eat the sweet peppers right out of the bag. They are kind of funny aren't they? Most kids won't eat peppers like that, but ours love those peppers. But, for roasting you really need a bigger pepper; Cooking Dad had a hard time peeling these because they are small.

After they are peeled, you preheat an oven to 400 degrees. In a square baking dish, put down a little olive oil (about 1 Tbsp) and put in the peppers and roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Then you just chop them up and add them to your favorite recipe. In this case, Cooking Dad is making Roasted Red Pepper Mayo for our corn tonight. Very easy to roast peppers, just takes a bit of time and a couple different cooking methods to make some great roasted peppers.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Topsy Turvy vs Homemade Upside Down Tomato Planter Week 4

This week I am a little late in my weekly Topsy Turvy vs Homemade video series. I have been working quite a bit and been very busy with work and the family. Also trying to figure out the video mode on my new camera, so hopefully this will turn out well.

So far we are into Week 4 of comparing upside down planters along with having a tomato in a pot growing the normal way. So far my observations are this:

- I still think the weight of the dirt on top of the Topsy Turvy plant is a concern to why it is not growing like the homemade planter is. They are watered the same times with the same amount.
- They are using the same fertilizer and the homemade tomato planter and the potted tomato are just taking off. The Topsy Turvy has not grown much although it is getting new leaves... finally.
- The potted tomato and the homemade upside down planter are both getting flowers on them for some tomatoes, the Topsy Turvy is not as it barely has any new growth.

Here is the 3 plants in photos taken yesterday 5-23-09:
The Homemade Planter

The Potted Tomato:

The Topsy Turvy Planter:

I also did the video like always since I got the video part of the camera figured out (which was the main reason I took the stills because as of yesterday, I still had not figured it out) and it was videoed today just about an hour or so ago (it is 8:45 pm right now as I am posting). The difference is pretty staggering with the Topsy Turvy and the other 2 tomatoes. Still makes me wonder how many tomatoes I will actually get from the Topsy Turvy, we will see. Enjoy the show!

We will see how this is doing next Sunday, so stay tuned in my journey of experimentation on this project!

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mint Lemonade

Yesterday I made the most refreshing Mint Lemonade and it was so good! The family drank it so fast, I didn't get a chance to get some cool pictures. I will take some the next time I make it and then add pictures. It is so refreshing and the hint of mint just makes it so yummy!

Mint Lemonade

1 can frozen lemonade concentrate
2-3 mint sprigs
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced

Make lemonade according to can directions. Add mint, lemon, lime, and ice cubes. Refrigerate for about 2 hours so the mint permeates the lemonade.

- to make a wine spritzer, add sparkling wine for half of the water.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Just want to give a shout out to my friend Anya over at Anya Cooks because she gave me an awesome recipe for Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta that I made last night for dinner. It was fantastic and not too spicy at all!

This recipe was so easy and took me less than 20 minutes to prepare from start to finish. While the pasta was cooking; I made the sauce, then whipped up a salad, and then whipped up some garlic bread also to go with it. Such an easy meal for when you come home from work and want something yummy, but don't feel like a huge ordeal of cooking. I love that it was so easy! That was definitely the best part after the eating. All I heard at the dinner table was "mmmmmmm" and more "mmmmmmm" and silence while everyone wolfed it down.

My dish probably is not as good looking as hers is (I only had tiny shrimp to work with not the good ones where you can grill them and leave grill marks.. oh well, next time) but it is as good. We also added just a bit of shredded parmesan cheese and little parsley on top and it was yummy! Otherwise we did nothing different than what she had posted on her site. We made it exactly as Anya directed.

Check out her recipe here Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta. It is definitely a recipe everyone should have in their recipe box. It will be a regular meal at our house, it was that good! Thanks Anya!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

"In The Bag" Broccoli Blue Cheese Focaccia Pizza

"In The Bag" is a round-up event sponsored by Real Epicurean for the month of May 2009. Each month 2-3 ingredients are chosen and the participants have to use the ingredients in a dish of their choosing. This month the ingredients chosen are broccoli and blue cheese. The dish of my choosing for this round-up is Broccoli Blue Cheese Focaccia Pizza. Pizza is my favorite dish of all time and so I thought it only fitting that I chose pizza.

I didn't want to make just a standard crust and then it hit me... Focaccia Crust. I thought this would make a better tasting pizza since I used a Basil Garlic Focaccia as my crust. It was very easy to make and I amazed myself on how tender the bread was.

For my sauce, I decided on a parmesan white sauce which is similar to an alfredo sauce just not as thick. I found this in my Simply Delicious by Ron Kalenuik cookbook. It is a classic Mornay Sauce. Very tasty and would make a great base for other pasta or pizza sauces. The only thing I did differently is I added just a tad bit of garlic and basil to the sauce.

So, now here are the recipes and what I used to top my Broccoli Blue Cheese Focaccia Pizza. Makes a wonderful meal as we had it with green salad.

Broccoli Blue Cheese Focaccia Pizza
Focaccia Crust: (adapted from recipe #27968 on RecipeZaar I changed a couple of ingredients around and omitted a couple just so I could have the basil garlic flavor I was looking for, just click on the RecipeZaar link to see the actual recipe)

2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup warm water (between 105-115 degrees)
2 Tbsp olive oil (for brushing on before baking)

Mix the yeast and water in a small bowl. Let proof for 10 minutes (until bubbles begin to form). In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, sugar, garlic, basil, and black pepper. Add the yeast mix and 1 Tbsp olive oil to the dry ingredients and combine. When dough has pulled together, turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with damp cloth and let rise in warm place 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Punch down dough, place on greased baking sheet. Pat dough to 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Using your knuckle, make indentations int he dough about 1/2 inch apart , then prick down with fork. Brush with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Parmesan Cream Sauce (from recipe for Mornay Sauce in Simply Delicious by Ron Kalenuik)
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups half & half cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

Heat the butter in the sauce pan. Add flour and cook 2 minutes over low heat. Stir in the chicken broth and cream. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Stir in cheese, garlic, and basil. Simmer for 2 more minutes. Top the focaccia pizza crust with sauce within 1/2 inch from edges.

The Toppings:

1 roma tomato, diced
1/2 lb broccoli florets, chopped
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup black olives
1 small purple onion, sliced
6 oz cooked chicken
2-3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup mozzarella cheese

On top of the sauced crust apply mozzarella cheese, then add chicken, then tomatoes, purple onions, and olives. Add the broccoli florets. Crumble blue cheese on top and then top with chopped basil. On center rack in oven, broil on low for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown. Cut into squares and serve.

Talk about yummy! The kids really ate it up, they love pizza and veggies so I figured this would be a hit with them. It is a one pan meal since it has the meat, the grain (as in bread), and lots of vegetables on top. We still had a green salad on the side as well. A successful dinner was had by all!

Thank you Scott at Real Epicurean for letting me participate for the first time ever in something like this. It was fun, I discovered some new ingredients that go great together. Always room to learn something new every day!

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