chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
This is a celebration cake so lets celebrate! I baked this cake to celebrate my blog being in the Marin IJ today. 
OMG, I just saw that I’m on the front page!  
You can click here to see the article if your interested in viewing it, come on, check it out!

This chocolate cake was actually one of the first recipes I posted on my blog, (way back in October) and I wanted to post it again with some updates because it’s just that good folks!  Seriously, this is the best chocolate cake and it’s pretty famous among my group of friends.  I am always getting requests to bake this cake for dinner parties, birthday celebrations or just for plain old enjoyment.  I’m a cake gal.  Give me the choice of cake or ice cream and cake will always win hands down.  I have since made this cake into cupcakes and honestly they taste just as good as the cake and don’t dry out like typical cupcakes.  
chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
This cake is so chocolaty and moist and the cream cheese frosting adds a perfect balance to the cake making it not too sweet!  Zoe brought a piece to school the other day to share at lunchtime and there was a long line for a bite!  Zoe has actually made this cake by herself by going through the steps-by-steps below on my blog.  She wanted to practice making it with me overseeing her, so she could make me this cake for my birthday (since I always get the store bought version).  Isn’t that sweet?  

There is a secret ingredient to this cake and that is…

You guessed it coffee!  I actually brew a strong batch of Peet’s coffee (love that stuff).  When my kids first saw me add coffee to the batter, they were like, “Mom what are you doing adding coffee to the batter, the cake is going to be sooo gross.”  I smiled and told them to “trust me” and they did, and loved it.  So now when they see me adding a bit of wine or vodka to a dish, they do not question me, they may make a yucky face, but they just go with it.  
 Anyway, I am getting off track here, below is the recipe for the actual cake. 
chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting:

for the cake:
  • butter for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed good quality hot coffee-  Don’t be turned off by the coffee in the recipe, you honestly don’t taste it at all. The coffee enhances the flavor of the cocoa powder, resulting in a more chocolaty cake, not a coffee-flavored one. 

cream cheese frosting:

  • approximately 3-4 cups unsifted confectioners sugar – this is to taste – You will then sift the confectioners sugar so there are no lumps in the frosting
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2  8-ounce packages of cream cheese (1 pound), at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Let’s start out by making the chocolate cake.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (I have 2 oven’s so I preheat both).  Butter two 8-inch round cake pans.  Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.  
Tip:  I trace the pans on the parchment paper to get the correct size, and then cut out the circles and place them on the bottom of the buttered pans.
Butter and flour the pans. 
 Tip: I use cocoa powder instead of flour when making this cake.  It totally works and you’re not left with any white flour on your cake.
Here are 2 more quick tips before I go on!
 Tip: In order not to waste that precious and expensive cocoa powder, measure over a bowl and parchment paper so the excess can be put back in the container after.  
Tip: To make sure you always have fresh baking soda, fill out the “change by” section on the box when you open it.  I have started doing that, and found it really makes a difference.  I mean who honestly remembers when they bought their baking soda.  It really helps to have fresh baking soda when baking. 

In a large bowl whisk the following ingredients together until combined:

 1 3/4 cups flour
 2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
In small bowl combine the following:
1 cup buttermilk – make sure the buttermilk is well shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 room temp eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 
 Looks appetizing right?  
With either a hand held mixer or an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.  
This is what your batter will look like once the wet and dry ingredients are combined and before you add the coffee.  It will be pretty thick.
Now it’s time to add that freshly brewed coffee.  
I always use a good strong coffee like Peets.  I don’t know if that’s what makes the cake taste so rich, but I’m sure it has some part to play in it.
With the mixer still on low, add the 1 cup coffee and mix until combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  
Sidetrack here, doesn’t that coffee look good?  I always make sure I make enough for an extra cup to drink!
Below is what your mixture will look like before you pour it into the pans. See how much thinner it is once you add the coffee?   
Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Make sure you make them even.
Bake the cakes for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.  I have 2 ovens so my cakes are done at exactly 35 minutes. 
Baking tip:  It’s hard to give an exact cooking time when it comes to baking because every oven, pan and even geographic locations, can command a slightly different cooking time.  A great way to know when a cake is done, is to do the finger test. Press your finger down gently in the middle of the cake, if it’s done, it should puff back up automatically on it own. If it stays dented, then the cake is not ready to come out yet. Also, a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean as well.
Cool the cakes in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.  
After those cakes are completely cooled, it’s time to make the frosting.  The frosting recipe was passed down from my dad.  He’s actually a wonderful cook, as well as my mom. 

Pour 3-4 cups unsifted confectioners sugar into a sifter and sift the sugar into a large bowl and set aside.  Sifting the sugar helps to ensure you don’t have lumpy frosting. Put your softened butter and cream cheese into a bowl and get your handy dandy mixer out.  Beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed until well blended. Add the 2 teaspoons of vanilla and then slowly add the confectioner’s sugar to taste.  Pour in at least a cup or two and then taste it.   

If you add to much confectioner’s sugar it will be really sweet and you won’t really get that cream cheese flavor.  Just keep adding and tasting it till it reaches a flavor you like.  You want it to be sweet, but not too sweet.  I usually taste it and have my kids taste it as well.  They are pretty accurate when it comes to the finished product!  

Below is what your finished product will look like! Yum!  Scrape off the mixers and then save them for the kids to lick!Put one cake layer on a flat plate or cake pedestal.  With a frosting knife or spatula, spread the top with frosting.Then the side.DSC_0058-3Once you spread the frosting on the top of the first (bottom) layer, its time to place the 2nd layer on top. 

 I like to the place the top part of the 2nd layer (rounded part) upside down so that the flat side (bottom side) is up. It makes the cake look taller and prettier because you have the natural flat top.   

Now, frost away, making sure to spread the frosting around evenly on all sides and to get a nice fluffy layer on top.  
Tip: Warm your frosting knife/spatula under hot water then dry. This will help get sides of your cake smooth.  
This is what your cake will look like when you’re finished frosting it.  Now, comes the fun part, the decorating!
I didn’t decorate this particular cake because I was photographing it for the blog.  
Slice off a piece, (or two) and dollop it with some fresh vanilla ice cream or enjoy with a tall glass of milk.  
chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
This cake is so easy and so good.  
As Barefoot would say, how easy is that?
I have also made a cupcake version of this cake and I have to say that the cupcakes taste just as moist as the cake.  Give them a try!
chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (1 of 1)
chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

Ingredients

    for the cake:
  • butter for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed good quality hot coffee - Don't be turned off by the coffee in the recipe, you honestly don't taste it at all. The coffee enhances the flavor of the cocoa powder, resulting in a more chocolaty cake, not a coffee-flavored one.
  • cream cheese frosting:
  • approximately 3-4 cups unsifted confectioners sugar - this is to taste - You will then sift the confectioners sugar so there are no lumps in the frosting.
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese (1 pound), at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Let's start out by making the chocolate cake.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (I have 2 oven's so I preheat both).

Butter two 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

Tip: I trace the pans on the parchment paper to get the correct size, and then cut out the circles and place them on the bottom of the buttered pans.

Butter and flour the pans. Tip: I use cocoa powder instead of flour when making this cake. It totally works and you're not left with any white flour on your cake.

In a large bowl whisk the following ingredients together until combined:

1 3/4 cups flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a small bowl combine the following:

1 cup buttermilk - make sure the buttermilk is well shaken

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 room temp eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

With either a hand held mixer or an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.

Your batter will be pretty thick at this point.

Now it's time to add that freshly brewed coffee.

I always use a good strong coffee like Peets. I don't know if that's what makes the cake taste so rich, but I'm sure it has some part to play in it.

With the mixer still on low, add the 1 cup coffee and mix until combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. The batter will be much thinner with the coffee added to it.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Make sure you make them even.

Bake the cakes for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. I have 2 ovens so my cakes are done at exactly 35 minutes.

Baking tip: It's hard to give an exact cooking time when it comes to baking because every oven, pan and even geographic locations, can command a slightly different cooking time. A great way to know when a cake is done, is to do the finger test. Press your finger down gently in the middle of the cake, if it's done, it should puff back up automatically on it own. If it stays dented, then the cake is not ready to come out yet. Also, a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean as well.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

After those cakes are completely cooled, it's time to make the frosting.

Pour 3-4 cups unsifted confectioners sugar into a sifter and sift the sugar into a large bowl and set aside. Sifting the sugar helps to ensure you don't have lumpy frosting.

Put your softened butter and cream cheese into a bowl and get your handy dandy mixer out. Beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed until well blended.

Add the 2 teaspoons of vanilla and then slowly add the confectioner's sugar to taste. Pour in at least a cup or two and then taste it.

If you add to much confectioner's sugar it will be really sweet and you won't really get that cream cheese flavor. Just keep adding and tasting it till it reaches a flavor you like. You want it to be sweet, but not too sweet. I usually taste it and have my kids taste it as well. They are pretty accurate when it comes to the finished product!

Put one cake layer on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a frosting knife or spatula, spread the top with frosting.

Then spread some frosting on the side.

Once you spread the frosting on the top of the first (bottom) layer, its time to place the 2nd layer on top.

I like to the place the top part of the 2nd layer (rounded part) upside down so that the flat side (bottom side) is up. It makes the cake look taller and prettier because you have the natural flat top.

Now, frost away, making sure to spread the frosting around evenly on all sides and to get a nice fluffy layer on top.

Tip: Warm your frosting knife/spatula under hot water then dry. This will help get sides of your cake smooth.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/03/chocolate-cake-with-cream-cheese-frosting/

spinach power smoothie

spinach power smoothie

spinach power smoothieGuess what? I’m treating you all today to another “green” smoothie, yaaay! No, I didn’t use grass in this smoothie, in-case the above photo confused you. This is a simple but very nutritious spinach smoothie paired with some omega rich nutty ingredients.

This smoothie is chock full of nutrition. It’s a great smoothie for your body, skin & hair. Did you know that walnut butter contains a significant amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, almost 9 times more than the closet nut? Walnuts are also great for boosting metabolism so more calories can be burned. GO WALNUTS! We all know the benefits of flax seeds, bananas and spinach, pair those ingredients with some almond milk and some walnut butter and you have yourself one nutritious breakfast or lunch.

I seriously can’t get enough of my green smoothies. They are the best on-the-go way to get your veggies and omega’s in. I love this one especially because it’s a nutritional powerhouse and has tons of protein that keeps me filled up for hours. I like to drink this one post workout or before I work a grueling 3-hour hot lunch shift at the kid’s school.

This smoothie is not super sweet tasting like my other green smoothies because it does not contain any fruits except a banana. I like a break from a sweet smoothie every once in a while. This one is creamy with a nice nutty flavor that goes down ever so smoothly.

spinach power smoothie

Spinach power smoothie:

recipe adapted from Green Monster Movement

  • 1 cup almond milk, or milk of your choice
  • 2 cups packed spinach
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 tablespoon walnut butter or nut butter of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed
  • 3-5 ice cubes
Below are all the ingredients you will need.
spinach power smoothie (1 of 1)-3Get out your blender and add the following:

1 cup of almond milk
1 tablespoon nut butter
2 tablespoons flax seed
1 banana
2 firmly packed cups of spinach
Toss in a few ice cubes to taste

Blend away till smooth, pour into a glass and enjoy!

spinach power smoothieGoing, going, gone!  It was that good!

spinach power smoothie (1 of 1)-2Here’s an Instagram photo that one of my reader’s Marian Ang, took of her smoothie.  This is part of her new breakfast routine! Love it!

photo 1I hope you all enjoy this smoothie!

 

big dutch baby

big-dutch-baby

Remember on Monday when I told you I went skillet crazy?  Well, this was the first dish I made that day. The big dutch baby, oh yeah! This is one of the easiest pancakes you will ever make. I mean it, it’s so easy, easy peasy! It’s a one-dish pancake and who doesn’t like that?  I’m calling the dutch baby a pancake for simplicity sake, but it’s not really a pancake, it’s less cakey, lighter and spongier.  It actually is more reminiscent of a crepe in its taste and texture. We all like to treat ourselves and kids to a fun breakfast on the weekend but who wants to slave over a stove flipping pancakes, not me. I would rather throw something together, relax with my cup of coffee and let the oven do the work.  Sound good to you?

 

This is the perfect pancake for sleepovers or any large breakfast gathering. You can serve a lot of people with minimal effort and everyones jaw will drop when you pull this puppy out of the oven.  It’s fun because it rises differently every time, almost like popovers.  Don’t fret when you look in the oven and see this huge monstrosity; it deflates a bit when you take it out of the oven.

The other great thing I love about this breakfast is that the ingredients are basic and you don’t have to bring any eggs or butter to room temperature.  I made my dutch baby in a cast iron skillet but it can be made in any oven-safe dish such as a pie dish, square or rectangular glass baking dish or even a roasting pan.  So you don’t need a cast iron pan in order to make this for breakfast say, TOMORROW!  You are going to make this for breakfast tomorrow, right?  Haven’t I enticed you yet?

big dutch baby:

recipe from Food 52
Serves 2 to 4 – You can double this recipe and break it up into 2 large skillets or half it and
serve it in a smaller pan.  I used my 12-inch cast iron for this recipe.
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or 1 % – I used 1% milk as I did not have whole milk, and it was perfect
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons (half stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

 Below are all the ingredients you will need (see I told you it would be easy)!Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk your two eggs together.  Add the flour, milk and nutmeg to the eggs.  Beat lightly. Leave the batter a little lumpy.  When your oven is preheated, melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet (or oven safe pan of your choice) with a heatproof handle.  When the pan is very hot and the butter is melted, pour in the batter. Put the pancake in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pancake is golden brown.

Sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar and return briefly to the oven.
Remove the pancake from the oven and sprinkle with the lemon juice and top with more of the confectioners’ sugar if desired.
The pancake tastes absolutely perfect with just the confectioners’ sugar and lemon, but you can jazz it up a bit by adding any fresh fruit of your choice.  The cool thing about dutch babies is that you can play around with them.  Just serve them up and let people have fun with the toppings.  You can make large ones for people to share, or smaller individually sized ones.  Zoe is not a fan of this with the lemon on top, so I give her a piece before I squeeze the lemon on it.  Eli loves it with the lemon!
If you’re looking for another amazing breakfast treat with a “wow” factor, try these sugar crusted popovers. They will literally melt in your mouth they are sooo good!
Do you have any easy breakfast treats that you would like to share?  If so, feel free to comment and add a link!

skillet-baked chocolate chip cookie

cookiepan
Here was my Friday.  It was crazy raining and the kids had the day off from school so what did I do?  I baked 3; count them 3 things in my cast iron skillet.  I was cast iron crazy!  

I started off the morning making the kids a big dutch baby (recipe soon) via the skillet.  I did not of course eat this, I had a bite, teeny tiny.  I am a creature of habit in the morning.  I either have a big bowl of grapenuts topped with cafe fanny granola and some fiber one or a big bowl of oatmeal.  I also always have to have at least 2 cups of Peets coffee, the stronger the better.  I proudly admit it; I am a carb girl in the morning and always have been.  Protein alone does not work for me.  

So my kids happily ate the big dutch baby for breakfast along with some eggs for protein.  For lunch I prepared them my sausage & arugula skillet pizza, (sans the arugula as it was just for them).  They happily ate that along with some fruit and a few bites of kale salad (I pushed this last part on them).  My 12-inch skillet was getting lots of attention and my 10-inch was sad, so I decided to bake a GIANT chocolate chip cookie in it!  Bring on the sugar folks!

Please don’t criticize me, it’s been raining cats and dogs all week and my kids came home with amazing report cards, so they deserved this Friday treat, right? 

Have you picked up a cast iron skillet yet?  If so, have you ever made a cookie in it?  I didn’t until today, and I am so glad I did as this cookie was YUMMY and super easy to make.  Way easier in fact than baking up a bunch of cookies.  This is the way to go folks if you want a quick and easy dessert.  It could even be a great birthday cake.  Just throw some candles on top and singHappy Birthday!  

skillet-baked chocolate chip cookie:

recipe from Martha Stewart

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda & 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the 1 1/2 sticks of butter, 1/2 cup sugar & 3/4 cup brown sugar until mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the egg and the 2 teaspoons of vanilla; mix until they are fully incorporated.
Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until just combined.
Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula.  A note about chocolate chips, my family prefers dark chocolate to milk chocolate, so we use these Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips.  They are amazing, and they do say that dark chocolate is good for you, so that may help take some of the guilt away.  Try them in your next recipe that calls for chocolate chips.  
Transfer the dough to a 10-inch cast-iron or ovenproof skillet (if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, then you can use a pie dish).  
Press the dough down with a spatula to flatten, covering the bottom of pan.

Bake until edges are brown and top is golden, 40-45 minutes.  My cookie took 40 minutes to bake to perfection.  Don’t over bake, as it will continue to cook a few minutes out of the oven. 

Transfer to a wire rack or oven top to cool, 15-20 minutes.

Cut into wedges and enjoy with a glass of milk or top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
  • As you can see, the kids and their friends got to the cookie and were all part of the clean plate club.
This cookie went fast, but we did have leftovers.  
To keep those leftovers tasting out of the oven fresh, I re-heated individual slices in the microwave for about 12 seconds.  The cookies got warm and the chocolate chips were all melted again.
Make sure you wrap your leftovers up tightly as big cookies can tend to dry quickly.

What is the most exciting or favorite thing you have cooked in your cast iron skillet?

BTW, I wrote post for Paradise Foods, (which is a local fine foods grocery store). Check it out here...

lacinato kale salad

lacinato kale salad

lacinato kale saladI know this photo is not quote on quote “food porn” quality or pinterest worthy, but I guarantee it’s tastebud worthy.  It’s so tastebud worthy that I was literally licking the bowl after this salad.  I never thought I would be licking the bowl of a kale salad, but I was licking this one, seriously!  Who am I these days?  When did I start getting excited over kale of all things?  You won’t even realize that you’re eating kale as the garlic and lemon take away the bitterness of the kale.  You might surprise yourself and find that you just ate a whole head or two of kale with this salad.  I have friends who have tried this salad and gone from kale haters to kale lovers.  Seriously, it’s that good!

The Marin IJ recently interviewed me and the first question that the interviewer asked me was, “what’s your obsession with kale?”  I laughed because I honestly didn’t think I was obsessed with kale.  I mean I have a few kale recipes posted, but nothing to over the top.  Do six recipes equate a kale obsession?  Maybe they do, but I don’t care.  I would rather be obsessed with kale than obsessed with chocolate, (well, I am a bit obsessed with that as well, but that’s another post).

lacinato kale saladSo, I did the phone interview the other day, and today the photographer is coming over to take the pictures for the paper. He is going to photograph me while I make this salad and my sausage skillet pizza (see photo below). I’m a bit nervous about being photographed cooking as I am not a pretty gal when I am cooking. I get all flustered and crazy messy as I am constantly using my apron and clothes as a towel. This time I have to look pretty and relaxed while cooking. I’m not sure I can pull that off.

DSC_0005-4So let’s get back to this salad.  I made this for lunch on Monday because I had too much birthday cake over the weekend as we celebrated Zoe turning 12.  I wanted to do a mini Monday cleanse, so I made this salad for lunch and then paired it with some of my cauliflower soup for dinner.  I couldn’t have been happier and my body was thanking me for this mini cleanse.

lacinato kale saladThis salad pairs with just about anything because the dressing is so simple. It’s also a great make-ahead salad.  I often make it in the morning and then have some for lunch or dinner that night and the gobble the rest up the next day.  It’s the perfect bring to work salad because it gets better as it sits.  Do you hear this Yvonne?  Here’s a salad you can bring to work!   

Lacinato kale salad:

Recipe adapted from Dr. Weil
Serves 4
  • 1 bunch lacinato/dinosaur kale, de-stemmed and thinly sliced 
  • juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons) - use a hand juicer to get the most juice from your lemon .  If your lemon seems extremely juicy, then I would just add 3 tablespoons of juice.  I’ve noticed that in the winter my lemons have been extra juicy and the dressing can be a bit tart with too much lemon.
  • 3  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced –  I always use 3 large cloves
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste 
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese – you can use more or less here or omit it all together, it’s up to you.  I just throw in a handful and call it a day!

A note about purchasing lacinato kale:  Don’t purchase lacinato kale that feels tough and paper-like.  It will not breakdown and thus will not absorb the dressing even when you massage it.  Kale is best when its soft and pliable, (feels like regular lettuce) as it absorbs the dressing and is tender when eaten.
Ok, I thought I would treat you all to some step-by-step photos for de-stemming kale as well as cutting it into thin strips.  Thank you to Cathie for photographing me.
Grab a stalk of freshly washed and dried kale, holding it by the stem with one hand while placing the pointer or middle finger and thumb of your other hand around the stem just above the leaves.  Pull your fingers along the stem, tearing the leaves off.
 See how easily the leaf pulls away from the stem?
Here is how to cut your kale into thin strips.  You can also use this technique for any sort of lettuce and herbs.  Take the kale leaves and lay them on top of one another and then roll them up tightly.  If you’re using curly kale, it’s easier to just tear it apart into small pieces after you de-stem it, as it’s a bit unruly to roll up and cut into thin slices.  
 Take your knife and slice the kale into thin strips until you get to the end.
Aren’t the kale slices so pretty?
Throw your kale slices into a large bowl.
This recipe calls for the juice of one lemon.  Now, if I was to hand squeeze the juice out of a lemon, I would not get ton’s of juice, but when I use my hand juicer below, I get an ample amount of juice. I would highly recommend picking one of these up hand juicers.  You can literally find them anywhere from your local kitchen supple store to your grocery store.
DSC_0968Now lets move onto the dressing.

Whisk together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup the following:

  • juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic - I always use 3 cloves
  • pinch of  fine sea salt
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch (or more to taste) of red pepper flakes

Make sure to whisk the ingredients together well.

DSC_0050Pour the dressing over the kale and make sure to massage it well so that all the kale absorbs the dressing.  When I say, “massage” your kale, I literally mean, get your hands in there and massage it.

After your kale is well tossed, add the 2/3 cups of  parmesan cheese and toss again.

Let the kale rest for at least 5 minutes to an hour.  This salad can be made hours ahead of time or even the day before.I think my body and taste buds are both thanking me today, as this salad is uber healthy and uber delish! This is such a simple salad but sometimes it’s the simplest things that turn out the best.
If you’re a fan of kale or just want to try more recipes that include kale, then check out my other kale salad recipes.  I also have a post on how to make a mean green” juice without a juicer.  Here’s a post I wrote on how to keep kale and other greens fresh. Check them out!
lacinato kale salad

Rating: 51

Serving Size: 4

lacinato kale salad

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, de-stemmed and thinly sliced - To see step-by-step instructions on how to de-stem and thinly sliced kale click here.
  • juice of 1 lemon (approximately 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced - I always use 3 large cloves
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese - you can use more or less here or omit it all together, it's up to you. I just throw in a handful and call it a day

Instructions

A note about purchasing lacinato kale: Don't purchase lacinato kale that feels tough and paper-like. It will not breakdown and thus will not absorb the dressing even when you massage it. Kale is best when it’s soft and pliable, (feels like regular lettuce) as it absorbs the dressing and is tender when eaten.

Wash, de-stem and thinly slice your kale. To see step-by-step instructions on how to de-stem and thinly sliced kale click here.

Throw your kale slices into a large bowl.

Whisk together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup the following: juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons), 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2-3 cloves minced garlic, pinch of fine sea salt, pinch of freshly ground black pepper, pinch of red pepper flakes.

Make sure to whisk the ingredients together well.

Pour the dressing over the kale and make sure to massage it well so that all the kale absorbs the dressing. When I say, "massage" your kale, I literally mean, get your hands in there and massage it.

After your kale is massaged, add the 2/3 cups of parmesan cheese and toss again.

Let the kale rest for at least 5 minutes to an hour. This salad can be made hours ahead of time or even the day before.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/03/lacinato-kale-salad/
Here’s my video tutorial on how to make this salad.  It’s really helpful as it shows you how to de-stem, wash, massage and thinly slice kale.

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini (1 of 1)-4

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini (1 of 1)-4Here’s another easy-peasy one-bowl pasta dish that is kid and hubby approved! Who doesn’t like that? This was showcased on Oprah’s site as a super foods meal. I think it was showcased as a super foods meal due to the walnut pesto and broccolini. I don’t think the sausage was contributing factor to that title, but that’s ok, because the sausage was the contributing factor to my kids rating this dish a 10. Hey, you have to throw something kid friendly in a dish that has walnuts in it, at least in my house. This pasta is similar to my broccolini, sausage and orecchiette pasta, but a bit different with the walnut pesto serving as the base sauce. I loved the addition of the walnut pesto and the toasted chopped walnuts. The pesto clings to the pasta and the chopped walnuts add a healthy & nutty crunch to the dish!

The walnut pesto can be made ahead of time. I made mine earlier in the day so when it was time to cook up dinner, I had one step completed. I also made another batch to store in the freezer for another last minute dinner idea. This pesto freezes well because there is no added cheese. You really don’t miss the cheese in this pesto either. To freeze the pesto, just brush small glass container with some olive oil, pour the pesto in, seal it up and throw it in your freezer.

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini (1 of 1)-2

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage and broccolini:

Recipe adapted from Oprah
serves 4 to 6

for the pasta:

  • 1 pound rigatoni or your favorite pasta- you can also use a whole-wheat or whole grain pasta to boost up the nutritional value
  • 4 sweet italian sausages (about 1 pound), casings removed
  • 1-2 bunches broccolini or baby broccoli, tough ends trimmed
  • shredded pecorino romano cheese for topping the pasta
  • 1/4 cup toasted and chopped walnuts for topping the pasta
  • walnut pesto (see recipe below)

for the walnut pesto:

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

DSC_0022Let’s first prep all of the ingredients. Peel your garlic clove, wash and dry your basil leaves, wash and trim your broccolini and toast up the 1/2 cup walnuts. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, 1/4 cup for the pesto and 1/4 cup to top the pasta. My favorite way to toast nuts is by using a frying pan. Some people like to toast them in the oven, but the frying pan seems to work better for me.  Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium heat. Add walnuts to the hot, dry pan and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes. Let the walnuts cool. Reserve 1/4 cup of walnuts for the pesto and chop the rest of the walnuts, and then set aside. You will use these to top the pasta.

Remove the sausages from their casing. All you have to do to remove the sausage from it’s casing is to cut a slit down the length of the sausage and then peel it open and remove the sausage. You’re going to literally push and tear it out of it’s casing. You might have some casing left on the sausage, but it doesn’t matter.  You can always remove the sausages from their casings ahead of time and reserve the sausage in a sealed glass container. I tend to do this earlier in the day, so when it comes time to make dinner, I have one less thing to do.

Now its time to make the walnut pesto.  Like I said earlier, you can make this pesto earlier in the day or even the day before.

DSC_0003Combine the 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, 2 cups basil, peeled garlic clove, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor.

DSC_0008Process and while the motor is running, drizzle in the 1/2 cup olive oil to form the pesto; set aside. Note: If you don’t have a large food processor and only have a mini prep, then you can put all of the ingredients plus the 1/2 cup olive oil into the mini prep and whiz away. Pour the pesto into a ramekin or small glass dish.

DSC_0698Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, while the water is heating up, you want to cook up your sausages. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the sausage breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until browned. Remove the browned sausage with a slotted spoon and place the sausage onto a paper towel lined plate.

DSC_0029Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccolini during the last minute of cooking time. Basically if your pasta says it will be done in 13 minutes, then set a timer for 12 minutes and then add the broccolini for the last minute of cooking time (making it a total of 13 minutes). I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time!  How efficient!  Drain both the pasta and broccolini  together.

DSC_0032Put the pasta and broccolini back into the pot and add in the cooked sausage and the pesto.

DSC_0043Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top with some freshly grated pecorino romano cheese and chopped walnuts.

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini (1 of 1)-4

This pasta tastes great leftover as all of the flavor combinations have had a change to mingle. My kids were not complaining when I served this up again the next night.

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini

Ingredients

    for the pasta:
  • 1 pound rigatoni or your favorite pasta- you can also use a whole-wheat or whole grain pasta to boost up the nutritional value
  • 4 sweet italian sausages (about 1 pound), casings removed
  • 1-2 bunches broccolini or baby broccoli, tough ends trimmed
  • shredded pecorino romano cheese for topping the pasta
  • 1/4 cup toasted and chopped walnuts for topping the pasta
  • walnut pesto (see recipe below)
  • for the walnut pesto:
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

Let's first prep all of the ingredients. Peel your garlic clove, wash and dry your basil leaves, wash and trim your broccolini and toast up the 1/2 cup walnuts. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, 1/4 cup for the pesto and 1/4 cup to top the pasta. My favorite way to toast nuts is by using a frying pan. Some people like to toast them in the oven, but the frying pan seems to work better for me. Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium heat. Add walnuts to the hot, dry pan and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes. Let the walnuts cool. Reserve 1/4 cup of walnuts for the pesto and chop the rest of the walnuts, and then set aside. You will use these to top the pasta.

Remove the sausages from their casing. All you have to do to remove the sausage from it’s casing is to cut a slit down the length of the sausage and then peel it open and remove the sausage. You're going to literally push and tear it out of it’s casing. You might have some casing left on the sausage, but it doesn’t matter. You can always remove the sausages from their casings ahead of time and reserve the sausage in a sealed glass container. I tend to do this earlier in the day, so when it comes time to make dinner, I have one less thing to do.

Now its time to make the walnut pesto. Like I said earlier, you can make this pesto earlier in the day or even the day before.

Combine the 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, 2 cups basil, peeled garlic clove, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor.

Process and while the motor is running, drizzle in the 1/2 cup olive oil to form the pesto; set aside. Note: If you don't have a large food processor and only have a mini prep, then you can put all of the ingredients plus the 1/2 cup olive oil into the mini prep and whiz away. Pour the pesto into a ramekin or small glass dish.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, while the water is heating up, you want to cook up your sausages. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the sausage breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until browned. Remove the browned sausage with a slotted spoon and place the sausage onto a paper towel lined plate.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccolini during the last minute of cooking time. Basically if your pasta says it will be done in 13 minutes, then set a timer for 12 minutes and then add the broccolini for the last minute of cooking time (making it a total of 13 minutes). I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time! How efficient! Drain both the pasta and broccolini together.

Put the pasta and broccolini back into the pot and add in the cooked sausage and the pesto.

Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top with some freshly grated pecorino romano cheese and chopped walnuts.

This pasta tastes great leftover as all of the flavor combinations have had a change to mingle. My kids were not complaining when I served this up again the next night.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/03/pasta-with-walnut-pesto-sausage-and-broccolini/

Brussels sprouts salad

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Brussels Sprouts SaladI know Brussels sprouts are not really “in season” right now.  We are actually at the end of their season, but I was craving a Brussels salad for lunch after devouring one the other night at a local restaurant. Brussels sprouts do taste best in the fall when they are small and green, but you can find still find them in most grocery stores this time of year, at least in the Bay area.  If you’re not a fan of Brussles sprouts or have not tried them, then you might want to wait and try this recipe in the fall when they are at their peak season.  I like veggies so this is a salad for someone who likes veggies, especially Brussels Sprouts.  Now, if you want a nutritious salad, I mean super nutritious salad, that doesn’t taste like veggies, then try my lacinato kale salad.  This salad has converted a few of my friends from kale haters to kale lovers.

So lets move onto the reason that I was craving this salad.  My in-laws were in town last weekend and we went out to dinner at a local pizzeria.  My father-in-law ordered this Brussels salad that was to-die-for.  We all took our forks and dug in as it looked delish.  I loved the salad, and it was fun to try Brussels a new way rather than the roasted version I always make.  I told Mookie, (that’s what we call John’s dad, as Zoe named him that when she was 2 and it just sort of stuck) that I was going to make a Brussels salad this week as a tribute to him since he loves Brussels sprouts.

My salad is a bit different than the restaurant’s version.  Their salad contained eggs, bacon and some other yummy and delectable ingredients.  My salad is a bit healthier (sans the bacon) and is RAW.  Yes, you heard me correctly, this is a RAW salad and you are going to be eating RAW Brussels folks (should you choose to make this).  Honestly, I was a bit intimated to try them raw, but the mustard dressing, walnuts and the cheese took away any bitter taste.  I actually ate the whole bowl in one sitting and thus was stuffed, as Brussels have so much fiber in them that they are really a meal in its self.

Note:  I cut this recipe in half as I was just eating this for lunch and I also changed a few things from the original recipe. If you want the full recipe then you can see it here.
DSC_0071

Brussels sprouts salad:

  • 9-12 Brussels sprouts, washed and dried, woody ends cut off, and sliced into thin slices- I used about 8 or 9
  • 1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped up into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey – optional 

Toast up your walnuts.  My favorite way to toast nuts is by using a frying pan.  Some people like to toast them in the oven, but the frying pan seems to work better for me.  Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add walnuts to the hot, dry pan and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes.

DSC_0001Let the walnuts cool and then chop them up into small pieces.

Now onto the Brussels sprouts.  Cut the ends off of your Brussels and then pull off any yucky leaves.  Rinse the Brussels in a bowl of water.  Slice the Brussels into thin slices with a knife (see instructions below for how I did it) or you can use the slicing disc of a food processor or a mandoline.  I did not have the later two, so I just used a knife.

Cut the sprout in half, vertically, cutting right through the core. Place the half face down on the cutting board and cut it crosswise in thin strips.  This is what you’re left with.  Feel free to throw away any of the yellow core.  Put the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey and a pinch of salt and pepper into a small jar, put on the lid and SHAKE IT UP until the vinaigrette has come together.  If you don’t have a little cute jar, then just whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

DSC_0017Now, it’s time to put together the salad.  Put your shredded Brussels into a mixing bowl.

DSC_0015Add the dressing.

DSC_0021

Add in the freshly shredded cheese.

DSC_0030Add in the chopped walnuts.

DSC_0033

DSC_0038Mix everything together well and dig in!

DSC_0045

DSC_0067You could also add 1 teaspoon maple syrup to the dressing as a twist.

I have never eaten Brussels sprouts raw before and I really enjoyed this salad.
I think I will enjoy it even more in the fall when the Brussels are at their peak.

Brussels sprouts salad

Serving Size: serves 1-2

Brussels sprouts salad

Ingredients

  • 9-12 Brussels sprouts, washed and dried, woody ends cut off, and sliced into thin slices- I used about 8 or 9
  • 1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped up into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey - optional

Instructions

Toast up your walnuts. My favorite way to toast nuts is by using a frying pan. Some people like to toast them in the oven, but the frying pan seems to work better for me. Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium-high heat. Add walnuts to the hot, dry pan and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes. Let the walnuts cool and then chop them up into small pieces.

Now onto the Brussels sprouts. Cut the ends off of your Brussels and then pull off any yucky leaves. Rinse the Brussels in a bowl of water. Cut the sprout in half, vertically, cutting right through the core. Place the half face down on the cutting board and cut it crosswise in thin strips. Feel free to throw away any of the yellow core.

Put the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey and a pinch of salt and pepper into a small jar, put on the lid and SHAKE IT UP until the vinaigrette has come together. If you don't have a little cute jar, then just whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Now, it's time to put together the salad.

Put your shredded Brussels into a mixing bowl.

Add the dressing.

Add in the freshly shredded cheese.

Add in the chopped walnuts.

Mix everything together well and dig in!

You could also add 1 teaspoon maple syrup to the dressing as a twist.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/03/brussels-sprouts-salad/

kale & pineapple smoothie:

kalepineapple
Happy Birthday Zoe! 

My daughter Zoe turns 12 today!  I honestly can’t believe how fast the years have gone by.  It seems like only yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital, and now she is 12!   Goodness gracious!  For those of you with little ones, hold on to them as they will be middle schoolers before you know it.  As much as I miss those toddler years, I am so loving the tween years.  I love being able to watch “real” TV with Zoe as opposed to kid shows or cartoons. We especially love watching Doctor Who & Sherlock together.   We share the love of reading and read the same science fiction and fantasy books.  Zoe is even beginning to take an interest in fashion, which I love, because I can always use a shopping buddy. Yes, she is growing at leaps and bounds, but she is still and always will be my little girl.

Another awesome thing is that Zoe is a fan of this smoothie.  She is actually starting to like the taste of kale, which is a huge plus in my book because as you all know, I am a huge fan of kale. We are still working on Eli, but I believe he will be there soon enough.

I created this smoothie by accident last week as I was out of mango (which is what I usually throw in with my kale).  I had a few bags of frozen pineapple in the freezer so I threw it in with some kale leaves, coconut water and a banana. I really loved the simplicity of this smoothie (4 ingredients plus some flax seed) and how the pineapple took away the bitter flavor of the kale.  Kale smoothies are a great mid-morning snack or lunch compliment.  It’s a great and tasty way to get some additional fruits and veggies in your diet, plus you get the added nutritional boost of flax seed.  

Kale & pineapple smoothie

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 3-4 leaves lacinato kale – stems removed 
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh pineapple - if using fresh pineapple then you will need to add some ice – You could also do 1/2 cup pineapple and 1/2 cup mango
  • 1 large banana
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed
Now how easy was that to create? 
Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!
Zoe, our journey together is only beginning!  
I am so proud and blessed to be your mother.
I am loving the person you are becoming and you continue to amaze me each and every day with all that you do.  
You are truly one of the kindest souls I know. 
You have such love and compassion for family, friends and all creatures great and small.
You care so much for others and always try and put their feelings first.  
You are making the world a better place by the light you shine and radiate.
Your joy and zest for life is intoxicating.
I love you more than words can express!  
You rock! 
 
If you’re a fan of “green” smoothies, check out my other green smoothies.

beer-braised chicken verde tacos

tacos

Let’s talk Mexican!  Who doesn’t love Mexican food? I personally don’t know anyone that isn’t fan of Mexican fare.  Living in the bay area we have access to some amazing Mexican restaurants, and we frequent them quite a bit. I love cooking Mexican at home as well, and have really branched out from just making tacos and burritos. I remember when we first moved to California, 15 years ago, the only Mexican food I ate was a bean, rice and cheese burrito.  I’m so glad I got out of that rut and tried some new and exciting flavors.

My husband introduced me to this recipe.  I saw the title, beer-braised chicken, and thought beer, really John?  Is this something the kids and I are going to eat?  It sounded to me like a “manly meal” not a “family friendly” meal.  I took a bite just to please him and was pleasantly surprised that I really enjoyed it.  The kids loved it so much that Zoe ate 3 tacos and Eli ate 2 (that’s a big deal for him as he usually eats about 1). You don’t taste the beer in these, in-case there are those of you that are worried about that. The chicken is super moist and really mild in flavor.  Don’t be scared off by all the ingredients. Most of them are just spices that you most likely have lying around the house.

Another great thing about this dish, besides the fact that it tastes great, is that it is a two-nighter meal and it can be made ahead of time.  Who doesn’t love that?  Oh, and it’s a great weeknight meal because it takes about 30 minutes or so to throw together.  

beer-braised chicken verde tacos:

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Mexican issue
serves 4-6

  • 1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or olive oil - I used olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion – I used a yellow onion
  • 5 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12-ounce bottle Mexican Beer – I used Pacifico 
  • 1 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 4oz can diced green chilies – you can always use the fresh stuff
  • 1 4oz can diced jalapeños – you can always use the fresh stuff
  • package of corn tortillas

Make ahead or leftovers?  You can make this chicken verde ahead of time and store it covered in the refrigerator till needed.  All you have to do to re-heat it is to put the chicken mixture in a saucepan over low heat, and stir occasionally.  The liquid will come out from the chicken and make a sort of sauce for the chicken to simmer in.   

 Let’s prep our ingredients, shall we?
Cut up your onion, combine all your spices and salt into a small bowl (as you will be adding them at the same time), mince up your garlic, wash and prep your chicken (cut off any fatty parts) and open up your canned goods and the beer.
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic; cook and stir for 3 minutes. 
 Add butter, and your spices of cumin, coriander, chili powder, oregano & salt.  
Cook and stir until butter melts.
Add beer, fire roasted tomatoes, green chilies and jalapeños.  Bring to a boil.  
Add chicken. Return to a boil and then reduce heat.  
Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, stirring a few times.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken from the cooking liquid to a cutting board.  
Gently boil the cooking liquid, uncovered, for about 10 minutes more or until thickened, stirring occasionally.  
Meanwhile, using two forks, shred up your chicken.  Put shredded chicken into a medium sized bowl.
 Add 1 cup of the reduced cooking juices to the shredded chicken and stir to combine.  
You can use this mixture as a filling for either quesadillas or hard or soft-shelled tacos.  
We chose small soft shelled corn tortillas. 
To warm them up, we wrapped the tortillas in tin foil and cooked them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Insert your favorite taco fixings.  

We love topping ours with shredded red cabbage, queso fresco and lots of cilantro.These tacos are family approved and rated a 10+ in our house.  Whenever I make these, all I hear from the troops is, “thanks for making these mom, they’re so good.”  

sausage & arugula skillet pizza

sausage and arugula skillet pizza

sausage and arugula skillet pizzaTGIF!  It’s almost Friday and that means pizza night around the Grandy house!  Get out your cast iron skillet and let’s cook us up some PIZZA!  Let’s just backtrack here, you’re asking me if I said cast iron skillet, right?  Why yes I did, you are going to cook this pizza in a cast iron skillet.

This is me telling you to go out and purchase yourself a cast iron skillet.  You don’t need to get a fancy name brand one like Le Creuset (those cost $150 and up).  Pick up a Lodge Logic.  The 12-inch skillet is only $29 and the 10-inch is only $20.  Here is a link to Sur La Table where you can check out the pricing and features.  Lodge Logic is the traditional cast iron pan that your grandmother had.  These pans rock and I am cooking everything in my cast iron skillet lately from breads & pizzas to meats.

Lets get back to this pizza.  This pizza is family and kid approved, I mean like totally!  The bottom of the pizza and the crust gets all brown and crispy from cooking in the cast iron pan, the sausage adds a bit of spiciness to the pizza and the homemade sauce is amazing and so fresh tasting.  I am actually going to use this pizza sauce recipe going forward because it’s so easy and so DELISH!  We honestly felt like we were eating at a fancy pizzeria.

The best part of baking the pizza in the cast iron skillet was that I did not have to roll out any dough!  I always hated that part.

sausage and arugula skillet pizza

sausage & arugula skillet pizza:

Makes one 12-inch pizza
There is a printer friendly recipe at the bottom of the post
  • 2 sweet Italian sausages or 6 ounces sweet Italian sausage - see photo below for what I used
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound store bought or homemade pizza dough – I used Trader Joe’s pizza dough  
  • 3 whole peeled canned tomatoes, crushed - I used San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • fresh mozzarella cheese – thinly sliced
  • arugula

Note:  Most store bought pizza dough’s are 1 pound.  You can use the whole pound of pizza dough; I did the first time I made this pizza.  It will be a thicker pizza in general, but it will still taste great.  I used 3/4 pound the next time I made the pizza and it was a bit thinner and less doughy in spots, which I preferred.
I used these classic Italian sausages.  You can honestly use any type of Italian sausages.  These were great as they are nitrate free, raised without antibiotics and with no added hormones.  They were also fully cooked so all I had to do was heat up the meat after I took the meat out of it’s casing.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.   
Remove sausages from their casings.  All you have to do to remove the sausage from it’s casing is to cut a slit down the length of the sausage and then peel it open and remove the sausage.  You are going to literally push and tear it out of it’s casing.  You might have some casing left on the sausage, but it doesn’t matter.
Sauté the sausage over high heat until just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes, breaking it up into bite-size pieces.
DSC_0052
Remove the cooked sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel lined plate to absorb the grease.
Slice up your mozzarella, mince up your garlic & toss up your arugula with a splash of olive oil and set aside.
Put the 3 peeled tomatoes into a small bowl.
 Crush the tomatoes with a fork and your fingers if needed.  Don’t be afraid to get your hands messy.
 Add the 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1-tablespoon olive oil, 1/4-teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the crushed tomatoes, mix them all together.
Brush a 12-inch cast iron skillet with 1-teaspoon olive oil.  Press dough flat in the skillet, spreading to the edge.
John thought it was cool to take an overhead shot of me pressing the dough.  He was aiming the camera in all sorts of directions.  I think this shot below came out sort of cool!
Spread the tomato mixture over the dough.
DSC_0056 DSC_0057
Cook over medium-high heat until the bottom of dough is golden brown.  The recipe called for 3-4 minutes but mine took more like 5 minutes.  We like ours a bit more browned.  To check the dough, just take a spatula and lift up the side of the dough to see the bottom.
Once the pizza crust is browned on the bottom, transfer the pizza to the preheated oven and bake for 3 minutes.
After 3 minutes, remove the pizza from the oven and scatter the mozzarella and sausage on top.  REMEMBER TO WEAR AN OVEN MITT WHEN TOUCHING THE CAST IRON PAN AS ITS HOT!  Pop the pizza back in the oven.
Cook the pizza for about 8-10 more minutes until the edge of the crust is golden brown.
Slide the pizza out of the cast iron skillet onto a cutting board.  Folks, I have had this cast iron pan for 2 months now and it’s virtually non-stick.  My pizza slid right out of the pan when I tipped it to the side, so don’t fret about your crust sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Garnish pizza with the fresh arugula.
Cut into individual slices and serve up with a fresh tossed salad or vegetable of your choice.
sausage and arugula skillet pizza
We liked this pizza so much that my kid’s requested I make it again the next day for lunch!
Needless to say, it was devoured!
If you like skillet pizzas then try my deep-dish pepperoni skillet pizza.
sausage & arugula skillet pizza

sausage & arugula skillet pizza

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet Italian sausages or 6 ounces sweet Italian sausage - see photo below for what I used
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound store bought or homemade pizza dough -I used Trader Joe's pizza dough
  • 3 whole peeled canned tomatoes, crushed - I used San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • fresh mozzarella cheese - thinly sliced
  • arugula

Instructions

Note: Most store bought pizza dough's are 1 pound. You can use the whole pound of pizza dough; I did the first time I made this pizza. It will be a thicker pizza in general, but it will still taste great. I used 3/4 pound the next time I made the pizza and it was a bit thinner and less doughy in spots, which I preferred.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Remove sausages from their casings. All you have to do to remove the sausage from it's casing is to cut a slit down the length of the sausage and then peel it open and remove the sausage. You are going to literally push and tear it out of it's casing. You might have some casing left on the sausage, but it doesn't matter.

Sauté the sausage over high heat until just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes, breaking it up into bite-size pieces.

Remove the cooked sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel lined plate to absorb the grease.

Slice up your mozzarella, mince up your garlic & toss up your arugula with a splash of olive oil and set aside.

Put the 3 peeled tomatoes into a small bowl.

Crush the tomatoes with a fork and your fingers if needed. Don't be afraid to get your hands messy.

Add the 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1-tablespoon olive oil, 1/4-teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the crushed tomatoes, mix them all together.

Brush a 12-inch cast iron skillet with 1-teaspoon olive oil. Press dough flat in the skillet, spreading to the edge.

Spread the tomato mixture over the dough.

Cook over medium-high heat until the bottom of dough is golden brown. The recipe called for 3-4 minutes but mine took more like 5 minutes. We like ours a bit more browned. To check the dough, just take a spatula and lift up the side of the dough to see the bottom.

Once the pizza crust is browned on the bottom, transfer the pizza to the preheated oven and bake for 3 minutes.

After 3 minutes, remove the pizza from the oven and scatter the mozzarella and sausage on top. REMEMBER TO WEAR AN OVEN MITT WHEN TOUCHING THE CAST IRON PAN AS ITS HOT! Pop the pizza back in the oven.

Cook the pizza for about 8-10 more minutes until the edge of the crust is golden brown.

Slide the pizza out of the cast iron skillet onto a cutting board. Folks, I have had this cast iron pan for 2 months now and it's virtually non-stick. My pizza slid right out of the pan when I tipped it to the side, so don't fret about your crust sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Garnish pizza with the fresh arugula.

Cut into individual slices and serve up with a fresh tossed salad or vegetable of your choice.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/03/sausage-arugula-skillet-pizza/