August 2010


This weekend I went home to Jersey! Can you believe I spent just as much time at the beach over the past four days as I have over the whole summer? The weather was absolute perfection. Of course, dinner on the BBQ is a must and my mom’s grilled pizza was at the top of our list.

We started with dough from J & M Bakery. Usually I make my own but this pizza dough is my favorite and I can only get it when I go home! We tossed and rolled individual pies so everyone could pick and choose toppings.

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Then we pre-assembled all the ingredients. This step is important because you have to move very fast once you have the dough on the grill.  First, we grabbed Ragu pizza sauce, which is much thicker and more traditional tasting than most jarred sauces.

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Lots of mozzarella cheese!

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Mushrooms, red bell peppers, and fresh basil to top the pies.

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Wine of course!

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We used cooking spray to grease up the grill. Mom says “don’t try this part at home…” even though she was technically giving me a tutorial on how to make grilled pizza…! Later we made pizza round 2 and sprayed the grill before turning up the heat and it worked just fine.

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Next, lay the pizza dough onto the hottest part of the grill. You can pop the bubbles quickly if its rising up.

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The tricky part is, you have to be fast! The bottom only needs to cook for about 45 seconds – 1 minute, until the dough is lightly browned with grill marks.

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Flip the dough, moving it to the cooler part of the grill. Quickly add sauce, basil, cheese, and toppings!

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Finally, close the grill and let the pizza cook. It only takes a few minutes for the cheese to melt completely and for the dough to cook through. Whatever you do, don’t let it sit too long. This is one meal you don’t want to walk away from!

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I can’t rate all the treats we receive at the office because I usually ignore most of them. I can, however, tell you which ones are top notch, since those are the ones I decide are too good to resist. Typically we get cupcakes (apparently it’s LA’s coolest calling card), but today we got some atypical deliveries.

Two words. Moldy truffles. Yep, didn’t try those.

We also got a dozen issues of bon appétit and the cutest mini ice cream cones filled with a light whipped chocolate (hazelnut?) cream. They were absolutely irresistible, meaning they passed the Kate “taste-test” and I actually tried one.

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They were so tiny and rich! Much better than moldy truffles. Now all I need is for someone to send over that burger on the cover and I’ll be set :)  

Remember the lovely William Sonoma cake platter I was handed a few weeks ago? Well, the coworker who gave it to me happened to have a birthday Wednesday, so I figured what better way to say thanks than to put that cake platter to good use!  He requested something peanut butter, so my mind immediately jumped to my Barefoot Contessa cookbook which features Ina’s chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing.  This recipe calls for creamy PB (I used natural of course!), confectioners’ sugar, butter, vanilla extract, kosher salt, and heavy cream (I subbed whipping…so much cheaper).

I can’t lie to you; I cheated on the cake. I used a box of Betty Crocker mix but I did beat it for an extra long time. Cupcakes always turn out extra fluffy and light with an extra minute under the beaters. In all fairness, I made the icing Monday night but I didn’t start on the chocolate cake until 11:30 PM on Tuesday, so Betty Crocker seemed like the sane choice.

I woke up early to add some more whipping cream and give my icing another minute under the beaters before frosting those suckers and they turned out gorgeous! Especially when posed with my Vogue coffee table book.

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The cupcakes loved posing with the cake platter too.

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They were a hit! My boss was ecstatic to hear I used Ina’s recipe; he is a huge fan and has even thrown a Barefoot Contessa potluck dinner party, which is actually pretty genius. Anyone else ever hosted a themed dinner? I secretly can’t wait to have a real dining room or big outdoor space of my own so I can host Martha Stewart-style parties :)

This meal is belated but I couldn’t let these gorgeous photos or delicious food go unmentioned! The other week, KJ offered to whip me up dinner (a healthy dinner no less) if I made the drive to her place. Clearly I was the winner of this tradeoff! Along with gorgeous fresh salads topped with Kate’s homemade dressing, she cooked swordfish steaks for the main dish. Does this not scream summer on a plate, or what?

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Kate topped the swordfish steaks in a great sauce made with whipped butter, chives, dill, rosemary, cilantro, and parsley.  All fresh herbs from her gardening of course!  She let me in on a little secret; instead of adding cream to the sauce, she used fresh lemon juice which made the little bit of butter taste incredibly rich.

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We also drank some great white wine. What is it about girlfriends getting together and drinking wine? It’s like the chicken and egg; can one happen without the other? Well, I suppose so, but sipping wine while gossiping/eating/bonding is just way too much fun to forgo.

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Even better, I had fish leftover for lunch the next day. Kate also added some homemade coconut fried rice to my “take home” Tupperware to make a complete meal. Hostess of the year? I’m thinking YES. Hopefully my flattery will score me another KJ home cooked meal sooner rather than later :)

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