Super Bowl Snacks: Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Bread

Good Afternoon and Happy “Hump Day,” everyone!

Today’s post is coming at you all a little later on in the day than usual- but with a Patriot’s Parade, work and friends visiting from California- the past couple of days have been a little crazy!

I’m still riding the post-Super Bowl celebration high right now- which is why I’m sharing a dish that I particularly love to make during football season- but can also really be prepared and served any time of year! Pizza dishes are appropriate year-round- on any day, occasion, party, etc.

This cheese-stuffed pizza dough takes just over an our to prepare, cook and serve- and about two minutes to eat (or one minute, if you’re like me…)

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces finely diced fresh mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomato pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ⅓ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese Fresh basil, for serving

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 4-by-14-inch rectangle. Cut the dough in half lengthwise. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon water until combined.
  3. Sprinkle the mozzarella down the length of one piece of the dough in an even layer. Sprinkle the oregano and pepper evenly over the cheese. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash around the perimeter of the other piece of dough. Stack the pieces of dough, pressing firmly around the edges to seal and encase the cheese.
  4. Use a spoon to spread a line of pesto, about 1 inch thick, all the way down the length of the dough.
  5. Gently pick up the dough and twist down the length of it so that the pesto looks swirled. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and coil it into a tight spiral.
  6. Brush the dough with the olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the Parmesan onto the dough and then bake until very golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. 8. Serve immediately, garnished with basil.

Amid the nachos, French fries, chicken wings, chips & dip, sliders and beer- this “Pizza Bread” was definitely a hit and went pretty fast! I also made sure to serve it alongside small bowls of marinara sauce and ranch dressing- since those are the mandatory Super Bowl side-sauces, after all!

And, of course- no Super Bowl party is complete without properly representing your team. Luckily, I had plenty of Patriots plates/cups on standby for the occasion! There’s still some left over, too- so maybe I can break it out again for next year’s Super Bowl!

A girl can hope, right?

Anyway, I have to get back to work- but here’s wishing you all a wonderful rest of your Wednesday!

xx

– Ashley –

Cozy Cooking: Smoked Gouda Potato Pancakes

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend- and considering I almost *didn’t* make it to the weekend- I’m very grateful.

Last night, while en route to visit a friend for a pre-birthday dinner celebration since I won’t see them on my actual birthday- I was hit from behind by a woman speeding on the highway who failed to slow down for the line of traffic I had been stopped and waiting in. The collision caused some serious damage to the back of my car, and unbeknownst to me until later on when I attempted to get myself and my vehicle home safely- some even worse damage to my tires.

What made it worse was that when I went to pull over to exchange information and see if she was okay- she went around me and took off. The impact had caused my stuff to go flying around the inside of my car- so I didn’t get a photo of her car, her license plate, etc. It was a hit and run- and now I’m dealing with the fallout, the appraisal process, and a very sore back. I hope wherever she is- she steps on a Lego block.

I digress. I’m thankful it wasn’t worse- and even though I’m in some pain right now- I’m especially thankful it seems to be a superficial injury.

___________________________

We’re expecting a significant amount of snowfall here in New England this coming weekend, which means a couple of things- the supermarkets are going to be like something out a post-apocalyptic horror movie with people fighting for the last of the bread and milk (it’s a Northeast thing) and I am more than likely going to be spending a considerable amount of time indoors while the roads are cleared.

I’ve already done my grocery shopping for the next couple of weeks- so I’m ready for anything- and I know of at least one Winter-friendly, warming dish I can whip up if I don’t lose power! These Gouda-loaded potato pancakes are crispy, cheesy, super filling- and can make even the coldest climate feel a little more cozy and comfortable.

Best of all? They’re super easy and fast to make! I did a trial run of these earlier this week- and they came out fantastic!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 lbs. russet potato, peeled
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¾ cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Grapeseed oil, as needed
  • Sour cream
  • Sliced green onions

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Coarsely shred the potato and onion on a box grater. Transfer shreds to a piece of cheese cloth and squeeze as dry as possible. Let sit for 2 minutes and then squeeze dry again.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes, onions, and cheese in the flour to coat and then the lightly beaten egg and stir until evenly coated.
  3. In a large skillet, heat up a generous amount of oil over medium heat until hot and shimmery. Drop the potato mixture by the tablespoon and flatten.
  4. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until edges are crisp and golden, about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels.
  5. Continue pancaking until potato mixture is done. Top pancakes with sour cream, green onions, and more shredded Gouda, if desired.

I could eat these pancakes every day for the rest of my life and never get sick of them. They’re like thicker, cheesier hash browns and are perfect for breakfast, lunch- or dinner!

Prior to the snowfall, I’ll be finishing up some things/loose ends in regards to my car accident and icing/applying a heating pad to my back to alleviate my pain. This coming Tuesday is my birthday- and depending on the weather and if I have a car or not- we’ll see what ends up happening for a celebration!

I hope you all have a wonderful, warm and safe weekend. If you’re from my neck of the woods- be careful driving and shoveling!

See you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –

Breakfast Bites: Freezable Croissant Breakfast Sandwiches

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

The week ahead is an exceptionally busy one (and a great way to dive into the New Year, really!) I’ve got work, meetings, appointments, events, my best friend’s birthday- and I still managed to pencil in a little self-care and pampering right before the weekend- so I’m firing on all cylinders right now!

In order to make sure I’m not crashing by noon and keep on maintaining my current level of focus and efficiency- I prepared a delicious, filling breakfast for nearly every morning this week- a meal that can be safely stored in the freezer and reheated whenever I’m ready to get my daily grind started the right way!

Instead of relying on lukewarm drive-thru breakfast sandwiches that are made with questionable meat product and artificial eggs- here’s how to make the real deal with real ingredients at home- and how to keep them fresh in the freezer.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup Half & Half Creamer
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 croissants, halved horizontally
  • Thinly sliced ham (check your local deli!)
  • Sliced cheddar cheese, halved

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add eggs to the skillet and cook, whisking, until they just begin to set. Gently whisk in half and half; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue cooking until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains, about 3-5 minutes; set aside.
  2. Fill croissants with eggs, ham and cheese to make 4 sandwiches. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
  3. To reheat, remove plastic wrap from the frozen sandwich and wrap in a paper towel. Place into microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through completely.
  4. Serve immediately and enjoy a savory breakfast to start your day!

I can’t stress how filling and tasty these sandwiches are- and paired with a hot cup of coffee- they’re exactly what I need to keep me fueled when I’m heading into work first thing in the morning and getting down to business like the no-nonsense boss I am.

You can mix and match ingredients with these sandwiches, too- of course- by substituting the ham with bacon (including turkey bacon), sausage, vegetables, etc. As long as they’re sealed properly and frozen- you’re good to go!

And now that I’ve shared my early A.M. hack- I’m off to get started on my work for the day and prepare for appointments I’ve got lined up this evening. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Monday- and a lovely and stress-free start to the week ahead!

xx

– Ashley –

Festive Foodie: Balsamic Cranberry Roast Chicken

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! (Also- Happy First day of Winter!)

We’ve made it to another weekend- and it’s the one right before Christmas- which means a lot of people are more than likely going to be getting a bit bonkers with last minute gift shopping and/or preparing for travel and visits with friends and family!

Tonight I’ll be having a pre-holiday pasta dinner with my mom, brothers, sister-in-law and niece so we can eat all the carbs we want and watch a couple of classic Christmas movies together before it’s time to pack up the car and travel ’round the state throughout Saturday and Sunday to deliver presents to my cousins, aunts, uncles, best friends, etc.

Before I do that, though- I wanted to share one last festive recipe for those of you who may be in need of a quick, easy, packed-with-flavor entree to serve any guests you’re expecting over the next couple of days! If you like chicken and cranberry (and who doesn’t?)– this one is going to give you plenty of holiday cheer.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1½ cups cranberries, divided
  • 8 pieces chicken (thighs, drumsticks or a mixture)
  • Nonstick spray, as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus extra sprigs for finishing
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra sprigs for finishing

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, process the garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce and ½ cup of the cranberries until smooth.
  2. Place the chicken pieces in a large zip-top plastic bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. Close the bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a large oven-safe skillet or casserole dish with nonstick spray.
  4. Remove the chicken from the bag, reserving the marinade. Place the chicken pieces in the skillet or dish, skin side down, and season with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cranberries around the pan.
  5. Roast the chicken until the skin begins to brown and the meat is nearly cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Flip the chicken and brush each piece generously with the reserved marinade. Discard the remaining marinade.
  6. Raise the oven temperature to 425°F and cook until the chicken skin is crispy, 5 to 8 more minutes. Serve immediately.

I love a good chicken roast- and this one had just the right amount of sweet, tangy deliciousness to give it an extra kick of unexpected- but savory- flavor!

Christmas Eve is my mom’s birthday- where my family and I will be having yet another big, celebratory dinner- so I’ll be taking the day off from posting content to decompress and enjoy my time with loved ones.

I *will* be back on Wednesday, though- since it’ll officially be the countdown to New Year’s from there! I’ve got a few more posts to share before we enter 2019, after all.

I hope those of you celebrating Christmas have a wonderful, fun, safe and happy holiday filled with good friends, loving family, warmth and laughter.

And I hope Santa is extra good to you all this year!

See you next week!

xx

– Ashley –

Festive Foodie: No-Bake Sugar Cookie Truffles

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

Today’s post is coming at you all a little later on in the day than usual- since this morning and mid-afternoon were pretty busy for me. For starters, I was live on-air for “Morning Glory” at Indie617 bright and early this A.M. talking about some of my favorite albums, shows and indie music headlines from 2018. There was a lot of good music and a lot of laughs. If you missed the action or want to hear the audio- CLICK HERE.

Following the segment, I headed back towards Central Massachusetts to have a pre-holiday luncheon with some of my friends/co-workers from the office, where we had a mini gift exchange and got a chance to talk about normal, non-work related things.

Now that I’m home and able to catch up on some e-mails (and touch up my makeup) before I get together with my family to have a little Tree Trimming party- I thought I’d share one of the bites I’m preparing for tonight. With limited ingredients and no baking required for this quick, easy dessert- these truffles are a go-to during the hectic holiday season.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 cups sugar-cookie crumbs (from about 15 medium cookies)
  • 6 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 cups white chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles, for finishing

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cookies until they are fine crumbs. Add the cream cheese and mix well to combine. The mixture should hold together when pressed.
  2. Scoop the mixture into heaping tablespoon-size portions and roll into balls. Transfer the balls to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Add the white chocolate chips to a medium-size microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate is smooth and melted.
  4. Dip the cookie truffles into the melted white chocolate to coat fully, returning to the baking sheet as you go. Before the chocolate sets, decorate with sprinkles.
  5. Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator until the chocolate is set. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

These truffles are delicious- and can be tweaked a bit for those with different tastes (using dark chocolate instead of white chocolate, for example)– but the’re festive and fun- and no hassle at all!

This coming weekend is going to be filled with time with family and friends (and a long overdue touchup of my hair for the season) as Christmas continues to draw closer.

On Sunday, I’ll be heading out to Easthampton to catch a holiday performance from one of my favorite theater groups- Paintbox Theatre– who will be putting on their annual ‘Santa Show’ for adults and kids alike! Tonight’s first performance is at 7:30 PM, while Saturday and Sundays’ performances are at 10:30 AM and 1 PM.

You can purchase tickets directly through Paintbox’s website or at the Williston Theater- but be sure to get there early to snag a good seat!

And be prepared to sing along to a lot of holiday classics and laugh along to a lot of crazy antics!

But for now- I’m off to prepare for tonight. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful and safe weekend. I’ll be back on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –