Dutch Oven Whole Roasted Chicken With Orange Spice Rub

Dutch Oven Whole Roasted Chicken The Kitchen Prescription

Ever wonder who has their wisdom teeth extracted later in life? I present to you… this girl! Yes my friends, I’m THAT woman who waited until she was 48 years old to have her wisdom teeth extracted. Fresh out of oral surgery. Looking not so fresh,  a bit dazed and confused, and well, sorta “chipmunk cheek-y.” (Disregard the chicken neck.)

wisdom teeth

I can’t really give an answer as to why. Years ago my dentist recommended I have them pulled. The cynic I am thought he was just trying to get easy money out of a needless routine surgery. They never really bothered me, so why should I bother them?

That was until recently, when I began having dental issues and some cavities that needed tending to. My dentist didn’t leave me much choice. He said he couldn’t tend to my other issues until my wisdom teeth came out. He referred me to an oral surgeon and the rest is history.

You might be wondering at this point, what any of this has to do with a Dutch Oven Whole Roasted Chicken. And to that I say, not much. Other than the fact that I just felt like sharing my story with you. For those of you that couldn’t care less, feel free to skip right on down to the recipe.

For all two of you that might want to hear the rest of my story it goes a little something like this… I was terrified of having my wisdom teeth pulled. Days before the surgery, I obsessed about how much pain I would be in.

My Oral Surgeon expressed to me at my consultation that my procedure would be done in office and that I would be under IV sedation. But in my crazy mind I had imagined that while I would be relaxed, I would hear drills and cracking noises, staring up at the ceiling all wide eyed and terrified…confident the novocaine would wear off, and I would feel every cut, yank and pull. All the while, unable to signal anything because of the paralyzed state I was in.

I went into surgery two days ago a Nervous Nellie. The lovely assistants walked me back to the procedure room after they stripped me of my phone and gave it to Mr. Kitchen Prescription for safe keeping. Wait! What!? No connection to the outside world!? How ever would I communicate with anyone? No social media updates in recovery? Were they afraid I might text or post something inappropriate post anesthesia? On second thought, good move ladies.

They proceeded to walk me back to the procedure room where what waited for me looked like my green vinyl electrocution chair, which they fastened me in to. The surgeon was gloving and prepping my medications for my IV sedation. He greeted me reassuringly and began to search for a vein on my arm to start the IV.  After finally locating a winner, he inserted the needle, got a blood return, advanced the catheter, and secured it with tape, and opened up the Normal Saline drip. “That’s the worst of it” he said.

Liar! How dare he insult my intelligence like that? I began questioning him about the medications as he walked over with a syringe to push in the IV port. “Is that Versed?” “No, no, this is to dry up your secretions. Robinul” He knew I was a Registered Nurse. He stated he would be giving me maintenance doses of Propofol, a hypnotic, during the procedure.

He began pushing more medication into the IV port. “Now this is your Versed.” As we looked out the window 8 floors above sunny Fort Lauderdale, he made small talk, something about the weather, while his assistants hooked me up to an EKG, pulse oximeter, and blood pressure monitor. He wasn’t fooling me with the small talk. I felt like a lab experiment going horribly wrong.

“How long will it take for the meds to take effect?” I asked him. “Shouldn’t be too much longer.” As soon as he said that, I felt my head start spinning. “Ok. I feel this now,” I said. This should be soon I thought to myself.

I’m just going to focus on what my vital signs are. My blood pressure must be through the roof given how terrified I am right now. I focused on the monitor in front of me as I felt the blood pressure cuff squeeze tight around my arm. I never saw the final reading. Out  C.O.L.D. Never even knew what hit me!

The next thing I remember was coming to and the surgeon sitting at a small desk in front of me writing something. I looked at him and mumbled some garble. I think I asked “Am I all done now?” Which I’m sure he heard, “Did the cat eat the litter box?”

“Try not to speak at all.” He said. Determined, I tried to mouth something again. My head was still a bit fuzzy. He interrupted me. “Don’t speak,” he said once again. By that time, I realized I had a mouth full of gauze, so I got the feeling I should just zip it. I was slowly becoming more aware of myself and my surroundings.

The first thing I noticed, I wasn’t in any pain. I felt around my mouth and couldn’t feel anything except swollen lips with my fingers. My ginormous lips had no feeling when I tried to bite them. None. Not even a tingle. The assistants began unhooking me from all the cords and tubes and gave me a blanket and left me to rest.

I felt an uncontrollable urge to cry. I didn’t feel sad, or in any pain. Why did I feel like crying? I remember I began to whimper. One of the assistants came back in to check on me and I motioned to her that I needed to write something.

She gave me a post it note and pen. Not even knowing if I could assemble a sentence, much less spell correctly at that point, I scribbled, this medication makes me want to cry. She looked at my scratchy note and laughed a little bit. “It’s okay. The medication makes people feel like that sometimes. Go ahead and cry.” So I did. Several times.

A few minutes later, they paraded Mr. Kitchen Prescription back and gave me my discharge instructions, making sure they spoke to him instead of me. Another good move. They gave me my prescriptions for an antibiotic and pain medication and wheeled me out to the car. Luckily, the anesthesia lasted well into the evening before it wore off.

The lesson here folks? There is nothing to fear except fear itself! I mean, I literally had minimal pain that evening and yesterday I was even on the beach relaxing. Crooked smile and all!

Fort Lauderdale Beach

While I am aware that there is some associated pain and swelling in my mouth and I feel a bit tired, I am able to eat and feel great for the most part. Kudos to Dr. Roland Hernandez and his professional staff for doing such a great job.

I’m not sure why I was such a chicken. Oh wait! Chicken, that’s how it all ties in after all! I won’t waste any more of your time with why you should eat this chicken, except it’s really really good. And you should roast it in your Dutch oven. Here’s why.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with orange everything. Like my last recipe, Orange Crunch Cake.  The oranges here in south Florida have been at their peak ripeness.

Florida Oranges The Kitchen Prescription

So juicy and sweet. I can’t get enough of them. Mr. Kitchen Prescription thinks I’m hoarding them in the fridge. Which I am.

Earlier this week, before I had my surgery I made a killer whole roasted chicken in my Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven. The orange inspired spice rub imparted a great flavor to the chicken as it roasted in it’s own juices over a bed of fresh fruits and veggies. I just love one pot meals!

Dutch Oven Whole Roasted Chicken The Kitchen Prescription

Rub recipe is adapted from Comfortably Domestic food blog.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Dutch Oven Whole Roasted Chicken With Orange Spice Rub
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: One Pot Meal
 
Nothing beats a one pot meal like a whole roasted chicken. Rub adapted from Comfortably Domestic.
Ingredients
  • For The Rub:
  • 4 Tablespoons of Kosher or Sea Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
  • ¾ tsp fresh chopped Rosemary leaves
  • ¾ tsp fresh chopped Thyme leaves
  • 1 1//2 tsp paprika
  • ¾ tsp black pepper
  • ¾ tsp garlic salt
  • ¾ tsp onion salt
  • zest of one whole orange (preferably organic)
  • FOR THE CHICKEN
  • One 4 lb. whole organic or minimally processed chicken
  • 5 Tablespoons butter
  • FOR THE FRUIT & VEGGIES
  • 1 Whole sliced orange
  • ¼ sliced apple
  • 1 medium yellow onion cut into chunks
  • 2 small crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 whole sweet potato sliced thick
  • 1 whole white potato sliced thick
  • ½ bag of baby carrots
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
Instructions
  1. The night before, mix up your dry rub. Remove any innards of chicken, rinse and pat dry. Begin by seasoning the underside of the chicken. Turn over and season under the skin of the breasts well. Rub seasoning inside the cavity. Rub rest of seasoning all over the top of the chicken, wings and legs. Take 2 tablespoons of butter and put under skin of chicken breasts on each side. Carefully replace skin. Set aside chicken.
  2. Peel and slice potatoes thick, about ¼ inch thick. Same with apple and orange slices. Put a small clove of smashed garlic inside the chicken cavity with a few small apple slices, celery, onion and orange slices. Tie up legs.
  3. Layer a bed of onion, the smashed garlic cloves, celery, carrots, apples, orange slices and potatoes in bottom of dutch oven. Squeeze some of the orange slices over the potatoes to keep from browning. Salt and Pepper to taste. Lay the chicken breast side up over the bed of veggies and potatoes. Cover with lid and refrigerate over night.
  4. When ready to bake. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and let chicken to room temperature for about one half hour before baking. Pour about ¼ to ½ cup of chicken stock in bottom of dutch oven, careful not to pour it over the chicken and wash off the rub. Place uncovered on bottom rack in oven for 20 minutes and bake. After 20 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. At one hour mark melt remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and baste over top and side of chicken. Continue baking until a meat thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the breast, careful not to touch any bone, reads 165 degrees. Remove from oven. A 4 pound chicken typically takes about one and a half to two hours of baking time. But it's best to rely on a thermometer. Remove the chicken carefully from the dutch oven and transfer to a plate and tent with tin foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes to redistribute the juices. Cover the veggies & potatoes with the lid to keep warm.
  5. Slice chicken and spoon out veggies and potatoes into a bowl and serve. Will feed 2 to 3 people.

 

Orange Crunch Cake

Orange Crunch Cake

Remember that time you burned yourself on your Easy Bake Oven, and ran crying to your mother? “Put some ice on it honey. You’ll be fine.” As you bolted… hysterical to the freezer, your dad yells out behind you, “Is the cake done?” Yeah, that time.

Orange Crunch Cake1

Whoever invented the idea that a light bulb would bake a cake was pure genius. Dangerous, but brilliant none the less. Despite all our second and third degree childhood burns, we kept going back to our Easy Bake Ovens… bandaged and soldiering on.

Why? Because it held the end result that we all wanted. Sweet, glorious cake. Cake fixes everything!

This Orange Crunch Cake was inspired by the famous Bubble Room on Captiva Island along the west coast of Florida. When I first moved to Florida, my sister and her family often vacationed on Sanibel/Captiva Island. It was only a scenic 3 hour drive over from the east coast where I lived, through Alligator Alley on to Naples and then Fort Myers. I would visit them from time to time for a weekend.

We frequently went to The Bubble Room for dinner and my sister ALWAYS raved about the Orange Crunch cake. The Bubble Room is a quirky colorful little restaurant situated on Captiva Island. It’s well known for its mismatched christmas decorations, trains, vintage toys, and movie memorabilia crammed into every nook and cranny… top to bottom. Basically, it looks like anyone’s grandmother’s house, who may or may not have been a recovering hoarder.

May I make a suggestion? If you ever go there, some favorites to try are the flaming Socra cheese, Gone With The Fin grouper, and of course, all entrees come with their world famous Bubble Bread and sticky buns. Gosh, my mouth is waterin’ just thinking about all this delicious food.

Once you are stuffed to the gills, the Bubble Scouts (servers) bring around a tray of GINORMOUS desserts. If you pass this up, no matter how full you are, quite frankly, you’re not a true Bubble Room aficionado. Or better yet, you can get dessert to go. This keeps you from being a total loser and insulting the Bubble Scouts.

Cue Orange Crunch cake. No words can accurately describe the awesomeness of this cake. It’s unlike any cake you have probably ever eaten before. It’s a citrus-y moist yellow cake with a brown sugar & almond crunch nestled between the layers and covered with an orange flavored cream cheese buttercream frosting. Quite simply, to. die. for.

Orange Crunch Cake8

I have experimented baking this cake for well over three years now. Something was always a little off. The cake tasted fine. The crunch layers always seemed too crunchy! Almost like a toffee. I’ve since figured out it was the butter added to the mixture that was creating the problem.

It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the baker of the famous desserts, Katie Gardenia, online, when I discovered Katie was one of the owner’s of The Bubble Room and would bake her desserts at her North Captiva home and bring them by boat over to the restaurant. How quaint is that?

Katie no longer owns The Bubble Room. She sold it in 1989 to concentrate on her art, but she published a coffee table book of her art and original recipes, appropriately called A Bubble Moment.

The recipes are a collection of stories and the many dishes and desserts the restaurant is well known for. I haven’t purchased the book yet, but the sleuth in me led me to someone who has the book and posted the recipe in a forum.

Turns out, I wasn’t that far off and only had to make a few minor adjusts. Mr. Kitchen Prescription and I enjoyed this cake for Easter dessert. By far the best success yet! The original recipe calls for boxed cake, but I’m just not a fan of boxed cake mixes, for various reasons, but feel free to use which ever you desire. The end result will still be sweet glorious cake!

Orange Crunch Cake4

Orange Crunch Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
 
My version of the Captiva Island's famous Bubble Room Orange Crunch Cake. A citrus-y delight.
Ingredients
  • CRUNCH LAYER:
  • 1 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ c sliced toasted almonds
  • CAKE:
  • 2½ c cake flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup salted butter room temperature
  • 1½ c sugar
  • 3 eggs room temperature
  • 3 egg yolks room temperature
  • ½ cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange extract
  • CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
  • 12 oz cream cheese room temp
  • ¾ unsalted room temp butter
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1Tbsp orange extract
  • 1 whole orange zest
  • Orange slices for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and toast almonds on a lined baking sheet until light golden brown and aromatic.
  2. Cool almonds for 5 minutes
  3. Pulse graham crackers & toasted almonds in food processor or blender about 6 times.
  4. Pour in bowl and add brown sugar.
  5. Mix well
  6. Trace bottom of three 8"cake pans on parchment paper and cut out 3 circles.
  7. Oil or butter pans well and lay parchment paper circles in bottom of pans.
  8. Oil top of parchment paper lightly.
  9. Add ¾ cup of crunch mixture to each pan and press down evenly with palm of hand until bottom is covered & smooth.
  10. Add more if desired.
  11. Preheat oven to 350.
  12. Whisk cake flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in large bowl.
  13. Set aside.
  14. Cream butter and sugar for 3 minutes on med low with paddle attachment.
  15. Incorporate eggs and yolks one at a time.
  16. Add ⅓ of flour mixture and half of milk.
  17. Mix until incorporated.
  18. Repeat step again.
  19. Add remaining one third flour mixture and mix until incorporated.
  20. Don't over mix.
  21. Measure cake batter as evenly as you can between the 3 pans.
  22. Approximately 1¾ cup batter into each pan and spread out with spatula.
  23. Place in center rack of oven and bake until center of cake springs back or toothpick comes out clean.
  24. Completely cool cakes before frosting.
  25. Meanwhile,cream room temperature butter and cream cheese on med speed for 3-5 minutes.
  26. Add confectioners sugar, extracts, and orange zest.
  27. Mix on low speed until confectioner's sugar begins to incorporate.
  28. Increase speed to medium low until well blended and holds a nice shape.
  29. Add more confectioner's sugar sparingly if needed to achieve desired consistency.
  30. Frost cooled cakes with crumb coating.
  31. Place 1st cake crunch side up and frost top of cake evenly with desired layer of frosting ¼ to ½ inch thick.
  32. Repeat same step with second layer.
  33. Lay top layer crunch side down touching frosting and second crunch layer.
  34. Crunch sides should be touching one another.
  35. Lightly frost top layer and sides working your way from top to bottom with a thin crumb coating.
  36. Place in fridge or freezer 10 to 20 minutes to set crumb coat layer.
  37. Add final frosting layer and decorate as desired.
  38. Garnish with orange slices.
  39. Keep covered and refrigerated.
  40. Bring to room temp before eating.

Begin by preheating the oven to 325 degrees and toast slivered blanched almonds on a lined baking sheet until light golden brown and aromatic. Cool almonds for 5 minutes. Pulse the graham crackers & toasted almonds in food processor or blender about 6 times. Pour in a bowl and add brown sugar. Mix well. Set aside.

Trace the bottom of three 8″cake pans on parchment paper and cut out 3 circles. Oil or butter pans well and lay parchment paper circles in bottom of pans. Oil top of parchment paper lightly. This will help the cake not stick to the bottom. It makes for super easy removal. Add approximately 3/4 cup of crunch mixture to each pan and press down evenly with palm of hand until bottom is covered & smooth. Add more if desired.

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk cake flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in large bowl.
Set aside. Cream room temperature butter and sugar for 3 minutes on med low with paddle attachment. Incorporate room temperature eggs and yolks one at a time. Add 1/3 of flour mixture followed by half of buttermilk. Mix until just incorporated. Repeat step again, adding 1/3 of flour mixture followed by the rest of buttermilk. Mix until incorporated. Add remaining one third flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Don’t over mix. Over mixing activates the gluten strands and is what causes a dry cake.

Measure cake batter as evenly as you can between the 3 pans. Approximately add 1 and 3/4 cup batter into each pan and spread out with a spatula. ***Place some cake strips around your cake pans for flat top, evenly baked layers. Place cake pans in center rack of oven and bake at 350 degees until center of cake springs back or toothpick comes out clean. Completely cool cakes before frosting.

***Baking Tip: don’t open the oven at all during first 2/3’s baking time. As tempting as it is, this can cause a cake to sink and bake unevenly.

***Baking Tip: Don’t run out any buy cake strips! Make your own. Cut an old towel into 3 equal strips long enough to fit around sides of cake. Wet them and wring out so they aren’t completely dripping wet. Wrap each strip around outside wall of cake pan. Knot it or secure ends with a safety pin. This prevents the cake from getting a dome shape and keeps the layers flat for even stacking. Genius!

Orange Crunch Cake6

While cakes are cooling, cream room temperature butter and cream cheese on med speed for 3-5 minutes. Add confectioners sugar, extracts, and orange zest. Mix on low speed until confectioner’s sugar begins to incorporate. Slowly increase speed to medium low until well blended and your frosting holds a nice shape. That means it should be stiff enough to hold onto the paddle or beater when you lift it.  Add more confectioner’s sugar sparingly if needed to achieve desired consistency.

Frost cooled cakes with a light crumb coating. This prevents crumbs from getting onto your final frosting layer and keeps things much neater and prettier.

Orange Crunch Cake5
Begin the assembly of your cake layers by placing a small dollop of frosting on the bottom of a cake board so it doesn’t slide around. Place bottom cake layer crunch side up onto the board and frost the top of crunch layer, evenly with an off set spatula. Your layer of frosting should be approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Repeat same step with the second layer. For top layer, face crunch side down, touching the crunch layer to the frosting of the second crunch layer. In other words, the top two crunch sides should be touching one another. Kissing if you will.

Lightly frost top layer and sides working your way from top to bottom with a thin crumb coating around the sides. Fill in any gaps in the layers. Place in the fridge or freezer 10 to 20 minutes to set crumb coat layer. Add the final frosting layer and decorate as desired. Garnish with orange slices.

Tip:*** I used a 1M tip for the rosettes and piped the flower design with the same tip.

Orange Crunch Cake2Orange Crunch Cake7Keep covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before eating. I hope you enjoy baking and eating this cake as much as I do. I hope it brings back fond memories and transports you back to Sanibel/Captiva Island.  I’m seriously contemplating purchasing Katie’s cookbook of original recipes so I can make some of my favorite other recipes from The Bubble Room. It’s the least I can do for her sharing such an awesome cake recipe.Orange Crunch Cake10

Chocolate Whole Wheat Mini Naked Cake

Chocolate Whole Wheat Mini Naked Cake

With Valentines Day right around the corner, guess who’s getting naked? Wait. What? No! You thought I was going to say me?  Cake, silly.

Cake just got a whole new make under. If you haven’t noticed, naked cakes are definitely trending. Gone are the outer layers of fancy buttercream swirls and intricate fondant art. Cakes have been stripped down to their bare essentials revealing their inner flaws for all to see.

Chocolate Whole Wheat Mini Naked Cake5

Yet, there is something uniquely simplistic and natural about a naked cake.  Adding fresh fruit and fillings like preserves, compote, or whipped cream can complement and make a naked cake exquisitely beautiful.

Chocolate Whole Wheat Mini Naked Cake4

Keeping it organic and as fresh as possible and pairing the cake with flavors and stylings that play off of one another is the key to making a classic naked cake work. Less really is more.

Chocolate Whole Wheat Mini Naked Cake3

Want to make it even more interesting and exciting? Perhaps something to really make your skirt fly up. How about a mini naked cake?

TZ and I are huge dessert lovers, and aside from the fact that we are eating better and exercising more these days, it’s hard for us to completely give up dessert. We still have our cheat days.

That’s what’s so great about mini anything when it comes to food. With mini we have portion control.  And I can use ingredients that are healthier for us. Plus, let’s not forget the fact that ANYTHING mini is just down right ADORABLE!

Which makes this the perfect dessert for Valentines Day. Picture a nice romantical evening for two, sharing this dessert and sipping champagne out of flutes. Sensually feeding one another chocolate covered strawberries. Hold up! Back up. Reality check. Most of you reading this probably have kids circling around you like vultures this very instant screaming “I’m hungry, I’m hungry!”

That was a nice thought though wasn’t it? In which case, for those of you with more to feed, can double the recipe to make a regular size two tiered cake for all your sweeties. You’re welcome.

Chocolate Whole Wheat Mini Naked Cake2

Chocolate Whole Wheat Mini Naked Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4 small slices
 
The perfect amount for two. Healthy and fun. Chocolate whole wheat mini naked cake is where it's at. Cake can be doubled for two regular size cakes.
Ingredients
  • CAKE INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup White Whole Wheat Flour (I use King Arthur)
  • 1 cup Organic Sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder ( I used Hershey's)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup warm whole milk (or milk of choice)
  • ½ cup strong brewed hot coffee
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil (or oil substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 oz (2 squares) chopped bittersweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli)
  • WHIPPED CREAM INGREDIENTS
  • 1½ cup organic heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tablespoons organic white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • GARNISH:
  • Fresh strawberries and raspberries for filling and garnish.
  • 4 oz. melted bitter sweet or semi sweet chocolate for dipping strawberries and drizzling cake
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Wash and dry berries. Slice core and slice strawberries in half. (choose the amount you want)
  3. Cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit the bottom on your cake pans
  4. Oil the sides of two 5x5 (or 4x4) cake pans.
  5. Place the parchment paper in the bottom of the pans and lightly oil the top of the paper.
  6. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Melt butter and coconut oil.
  8. Slightly warm your milk or pour the coffee in with the milk.
  9. Add the butter and coconut oil to the milk and coffee mixture.
  10. Whisk your egg in a small bowl. Slowly temper in the warm milk, coffee and oil mixture into the egg.
  11. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
  12. Pour the wet mixture into the well, and gently incorporate the ingredients until moist and smooth. (Over mixing will produce a dry cake.)
  13. Gently fold in chopped bittersweet chocolate.
  14. Gently pour batter into each cake pan until ⅔ full. Place small pans on cookie tray and place on middle rack in oven for 20-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Do not open the oven the first 10 minutes of baking.
  15. Cool cakes completely.
  16. While cakes are cooling. Place a metal bowl and whisk in the freezer for 15 minutes. (can use an electric mixer. Place the whisks in the freezer.)
  17. Remove bowl and place in stand mixer with whisk attachment.
  18. Pour in very cold heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla.
  19. Turn on low for a few seconds then turn to medium speed and mix until cream forms stiff peaks.
  20. Do not overmix, unless you want butter.
  21. Cover and return to fridge until ready to use.
  22. Melt chocolate according to package directions. Reserve some of the chocolate for drizzling. Dip desired amount of strawberries and place the strawberries in fridge to harden about 15 minutes.
  23. Assemble the cake.
  24. Gently remove cakes from pans and remove the parchment paper.
  25. Place the bottom cake layer on top of a dish and lightly drizzle with melted chocolate. (You can use a plastic bag for this and cut a small hole int the corner of the bag.)
  26. Place a nice size layer of whipped cream on top of the cake.
  27. Place desired amount of berries on whipped cream, slightly pushing them into the mixture.
  28. Top with another layer of whipped cream to cover berries.
  29. Push berries into sides of whipped cream and around bottom of dish for garnish.
  30. Gently center and place the top layer of cake on the whipped cream.
  31. Place dollops of whipped cream around edges of the top of the cake. (I used a 2 D tip and a piping bag filled with whipped cream. You can fill a ziploc bag with whipped cream and cut a small hole in the corner to the the same effect or even place your favorite piping tip in the ziploc bag.)
  32. Arrange chocolate covered strawberries and naked berries on top of cake.
  33. Lightly drizzle melted chocolate over entire top of cake and berries.
  34. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Even though the classic naked cake has been around for ages, think strawberry short cake, it’s making a huge comeback. And I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that my inspiration came from Amanda at I Am Baker. She posted a naked cake over at The Food Network blog that knocked my socks off. My eyes literally sparkled when I saw it on my news feed. You definitely should check her and her amazing creations out.

Chocolate Whole Wheat Mini Naked Cake1

What are you waiting for? Go get naked & Happy Valentines Day.

No Knead Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust The Kitchen Prescription1

After 3 weeks of exercising and eating right,  I’m happy to report I’m down a few pounds, but I’m craving pizza. If I don’t have pizza at least once a week, I begin to wail and pound my fists like a wild banshee. Dramatic? Yes, but nothing will stand in the way of me and pizza.

Not even my non carb eating boyfriend. He’s doing the low carb thing. I feel sorry for him. I mean, I give the man mad props for his will power, but I can see his suffering. I already know I’d never be able to give up carbs. I can give up a lot of things. Alcoholic beverages? Done. Chips? No problem. Candy? Eazy peazy. Chocolate? Pchhhh, about as much as an ice cube’s chance in hell.

Chocolate and carbs stay. And if I’m being totally honest, I visit wine once a week. Now, to keep it healthier I’ve switched to allotted bites of organic dark chocolate. And, well…wine, we already know is good for you. Packs in the antioxidants…. good for the heart…yada yada yada, skip to the good stuff…it makes me happy. It’s like a comfortable pair of jammies. So I allow myself 10 oz per week.

No white bread or pasta for this girl. Whole wheat and whole grains is where it’s at for me these days. I don’t mind really. Plus, I’m  not sure I want to try the cauliflower pizza crust. I’ve seen some that look really good, but I’m just not sure I’m ready to take it there yet.

Until I feel it’s okay to eat white flour again, I’ll be indulging moderately in this whole wheat business. Especially this no knead whole wheat pizza crust. If you haven’t tried a no knead pizza crust, you’ve no idea what you’ve been missing. Jim Lahey made it all the rage. You can read about it here.

It’s based on a long ferment which imparts more flavor. I prepared the dough in the evening and left it covered on the counter overnight. By late morning, it was ready for it’s shaping and second rise, just in time for lunch. I thought I’d die waiting, but the wait is so worth the taste my friends.

This is an adapted version with white whole wheat flour and a smidgeon of bread flour. I used a bit of bread flour so it wasn’t so dense or have that tastes-like-cardboard, flavor. Feel free to use all whole wheat if you want.  This crust was light and airy. If I were blind folded, I probably wouldn’t even know it’s whole wheat.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust The Kitchen Prescription10

No Knead Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Author: 
Recipe type: Pizza Crust
 
So light and airy, you may not know it's whole wheat.
Ingredients
  • ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoons honey
  • 3 Tablespoons very warm water (110 degrees. If too hot, it will kill the yeast.)
  • 1¼ cups +2 tablespoons White Whole Wheat Flour
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons bread flour cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup warm water
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl add yeast, honey, & 3 TBSP water.
  2. Let stand 10 minutes.
  3. In large bowl mix flour and salt. Stir with fork.
  4. Add olive oil and activated yeast mixture and begin to add 1 cup warm water, stirring mixture with a wooden spoon until mixture is sticky and wet. You may need to add more or less water depending on your measurements.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap & leave on counter for 8-24 hours.
  6. Turn out to well floured counter.
  7. Weigh & divide in half for two 10 inch pizza crusts.
  8. Stretch out dough on well oiled pan or skillet.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another one to two hours.
  10. One hour before baking, preheat oven to highest setting (550 degrees.) put on desired toppings. Place on middle rack and bake until crust is golden brown, about 10 -12 minutes.

In a small bowl add yeast, honey, & 3 TBSP very warm water. If water is too hot, it will kill the yeast, so don’t make it any warmer than bath water. Let stand 10 minutes.
In large bowl mix flour and salt. Stir with fork. Add olive oil and activated yeast mixture and begin to add 1 cup warm water, stirring mixture with a wooden spoon until mixture is sticky and wet. You may need to add more or less water depending on your measurements.
Cover with plastic wrap & leave on counter for 8-24 hours.

This is what your dough should look like after it has risen. Moist and with lots of air bubbles. Those bubbles are what is going to give you a light and crisp crust.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust The Kitchen Prescription3

The more air bubbles, the better.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust The Kitchen Prescription4

Turn out to lightly floured counter. Weigh & divide in half for two 10 inch pizza crusts. You can also make one large pizza if you prefer. The photo below demonstrates half of my dough. Another thing I like about this dough is that it’s much easier to work and stretch. It has very little if any stretch back. If you find you’re having problems stretching, let it rest for 10 minutes and try again.
.Whole Wheat Pizza Crust The Kitchen Prescription2

Spray your pan with a quality oil, ( I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and gently stretch out your dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another one to two hours.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust The Kitchen Prescription9

****I have to take the time to show you our new find. We despise those yicky non stick sprays laden with all those chemicals and poisons, so we purchased a spay bottle for our olive oil. It’s so convenient and it’s a much healthier choice for us. It works great and it’s a staple item in our kitchen. We found this at our local super market, but I’m sure you can purchase it online if you are interested.

Zyliss

One hour before baking, preheat oven to highest setting (550 degrees.) When ready to bake put on your desired toppings. Place on middle rack and bake until crust is golden brown, about 10 -12 minutes. I like my pepperoni to curl up, so I turn the oven on broil for a few minutes, keeping a close eye on it.Whole Wheat Pizza Crust The Kitchen Prescription7

I can’t describe how delicious this tasted. Especially after not having eaten pizza for 3 weeks. Check out all the fabulous air bubbles in the crust. Nothing dense and cardboard like about this pizza. Mangia Mangia!

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust The Kitchen Prescription5

Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark aka Christmas Crack

Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark1

I don’t know how other recipe bloggers do it. Some seem to effortlessly bang out their “12 Days of Baking” and recipe posts and style their photos to magazine worthy editorials. Me? Meh. I’m lucky I can squeeze my baking into a weekend marathon while snapping some decent photos.

Then I look at my photos, wine in hand, and remind myself not to compare myself to other recipe bloggers. I did manage to get my Hard Tack Candy recipe posted.

Technically, it’s still the holiday season, so I’m going to go ahead and post this Salted Chocolate Toffee Bark anyway. If we wanted to be optimistic, we can say I’m getting a super early head start for next year.

I usually make the saltine cracker chocolate “toffee-like” treat every year. A nursing coworker gave it to me as a gift some years back when we worked Labor and Delivery together. One bite in, and I understood how it got its nickname, Christmas Crack.

Although, I’m never truly satisfied with the “toffee-like” impostor. I mean, why call it toffee, if it’s not really toffee? So this year, I decided I’m just going to go for it. I mean really really go for it and make actual toffee instead.

Rather than use crackers, why not use pretzels?  Heck, if I’m going that far, why not top the warm chocolatey goodness off with some salty crushed cashews? A perfectly salted top and bottom with buttery crunchy sweet sandwiched in. Now that’s what gets me going.

Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark3

I made two batches to give away as gifts. If you don’t love salty buttery crunchy chocolatey gifts, well, you may be lacking some holiday spirit.

Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark

Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark aka Christmas Crack
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert/Candy
 
Crunchy buttery toffee marries sweet salty. Quick and easy recipe.
Ingredients
  • 3 sticks salted butter
  • 1½ cups brown sugar ( I use organic)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla (***optional)
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed cashews
  • 1 large bag salted pretzels
  • ITEMS:
  • Heavy bottom sauce pot
  • Candy thermometer (not required, but handy ****can use a glass of ice water to test)
  • Silicon spatula or wooden spoon
  • Silpat or greased baking sheet
Instructions
  1. ****Recipe makes enough for one batch.
  2. ****Have items and ingredients measured, lined up and ready to go.
  3. Line Silpat or greased baking sheet with pretzels
  4. In deep heavy bottom pot, add butter, sugar, water,and corn syrup.
  5. Fasten candy thermometer to side of pot so that bulb is not touching bottom of the pan. This will cause inaccurate reading.
  6. On medium heat, melt mixture stirring until all ingredients are melted and smooth.
  7. When mixture reaches 212 degrees it will begin to boil. Try not to stir after this happens.
  8. Continue to let mixture boil.
  9. As the liquid evaporates the mixture will begin to thicken and get very bubbly.
  10. At 285 through 300 degrees will be the crack stage.
  11. ***If you don't have a thermometer, keep a glass of ice water next to you and drop in a small spoonful of the mixture. Give it a second to cool down. If it is chewy and soft, it needs to cook more. When the mixture is has a crunchy texture, it has reached the crack stage.
  12. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  13. Pour hot mixture over pretzels and smooth out evenly.
  14. Add semi sweet chocolate to top of toffee and let melt for a few minutes.
  15. Smooth with a spatula
  16. Top with crushed cashews.
  17. When completely cooled break apart and store in airtight container.
  18. Makes a great holiday gift for coworkers, friends, and family.

Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark2

Happy Holidays!

Hard Tack Candy

Every year at our house, it’s a battle of the Christmas trees. I’m all… artificial pencil tree. White lights. Dollar store ruby red plastic glitter bulbs and white snowflakes. Red poinsettia and gold leaves sticking out of the tree to hide the gaps. The more, the merrier!

And he’s all… Real tree.  Colored lights. Traditional assortment of delicate glass bulbs and ornaments. Less is more.

It’s come to the point that we alternate being in charge of decorating the tree every other year. But the one thing we can agree on every year is the tradition of Hard Tack Candy. Otherwise known as Stained Glass Candy. Is there anything more beauteous?

This candy transports me back to my days as a child going to visit my mom’s side of the family on Christmas Day. In particular, my Aunt Madelyn was a big time baker. She was a Foodie before being a Foodie was cool. One of my favorite memories of Christmas time was eating her treats and bakes. My absolute favorite was her hard tack candy. She would have every flavor under the sun out on the dessert table.

For the hour long ride home I would stuff my pockets with just about every flavor of those candies, making sure to grab some extra butter rum and spearmint. As I sat in the last seat of our station wagon facing the rear window, watching all the Christmas lights go by on the homes nestled in the hills along the Ohio River, I would pull those warm sticky candies out of my pocket and have to pick off the lint before popping it into my mouth to savor every succulent flavor. Save for choking down a few strands of lint, it was a little taste of heaven and has forever since reminded me of Christmas.

Funny how such a small candy can elicit fond memories that bring about a big feeling of comfort and fun family gatherings. My Aunt sadly passed away this year. That’s why making her beloved recipe this Christmas is even more special to me, because she kindly shared it with my sisters and I.

Aunt Madelyn's Hard Tack Recipe

I did cut down the proportions to get the right amount for one batch and to have enough time to cut the candy.

Hard Tack Candy
Author: 
Recipe type: Candy
 
A fun traditional holiday treat that will forever remind you of Christmas.
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups white sugar (I use organic white sugar)
  • ¾ Cup water
  • ⅔ Cup light corn syrup
  • ½ tsp food coloring
  • 1 dram flavoring or ½ dram oil (note*** oils are much stronger than the flavorings and only require half the amount.)
  • ½ teaspoon confectioner's sugar for dusting
  • IMPORTANT SUPPLIES:
  • Quality candy thermometer
  • Sturdy deep nonreactive pot
  • Wooden Spoon or silicone spatula
  • Silpat or bake pans
  • Pizza cutter
Instructions
  1. ****IMPORTANT**** Have all your ingredients and supplies prepped and ready to go. Read through entire post before starting. Sugar is extremely hot and can cause serious burns. Keep an ice cold bowl of water handy in the event of any small burns. This cooking task is not recommend for small children.
  2. In a sturdy, deep, non reactive pot on medium heat, add sugar, water and corn syrup.
  3. Attach candy thermometer on side of pot, careful not to touch bottom of pan.
  4. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until sugar melts and becomes smooth.
  5. Stop stirring just short of boiling point (212 degrees)
  6. When mixture reaches around 200 degree mark it will begin to bubble up over pot.
  7. Watch carefully and remove from heat, until the bubbles subside.
  8. Replace back on medium heat and DO NOT stir after this point.
  9. Let mixture reach 260 degrees and carefully pour in food coloring.
  10. Do not stir. Bubbles will disperse the color.
  11. When mixture reaches 300 degrees, turn off heat and remove pot.
  12. Let stand about 20 seconds then stand back and carefully add flavoring or oil as stated above.
  13. Stir the mixture to evenly disperse the flavoring/oil.
  14. Pour mixture quickly and carefully onto a nonstick surface.
  15. Place pan and spoon/spatula and thermometer in sink and fill with hot water to soak
  16. Immediately and carefully pour hot mixture on to nonstick surface that can withstand more than 300 degrees of heat.
  17. Wait 15 to 20 seconds and with pizza cutter begin on outside and cut in semi symmetrical strips lengthwise and widthwise.
  18. Cool completely.
  19. Break apart and dust lightly with confectioner's sugar.
  20. Place in airtight containers or canning jars.

Read through entire post before starting. Sugar is extremely hot and can cause serious burns. Keep an ice cold bowl of water handy in the event of any small burns. This cooking task is not recommend for small children.

In a sturdy, deep, non reactive pot on medium heat, add sugar, water and corn syrup.
Attach candy thermometer to side of pot, careful not to touch bottom of pan.
Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until sugar melts and becomes smooth.

Stop stirring just short of boiling point, (212 degrees) around 200 degrees. When mixture reaches around 200 degree mark it will begin to bubble up over pot. It will begin to rise.

And continue rising. Don’t turn your back for a second. Trust me, I can stress this a thousand times, but it’s inevitable. You will at some point in your career of hard tack candy making, overflow the syrup. It’s sort of a rite of passage. Just smile and move on.

When it gets to this point, remove it from the heat until the bubbles subside.

If you make it to this step, you’re home free. Give yourself a pat on the back. Cleaning all that hot syrup off the burner and stove will really get your tinsel in a tangle. If it does happen, just move to a different burner.

Once you return the pot to the burner let it continue to boil on medium heat. It will look like this. Don’t panic if yours isn’t brown. I use organic white sugar. The brown hue is the impurities in the sugar. It will lighten up as the temperature rises. Feel free to use the white sugar of your choice.

Let it continue to boil. Do not stir. You might reach a stand still for a bit. That is just the water evaporating out of the syrup. The syrup will begin to rise and thicken as the temperature increases. Don’t worry, it won’t overflow again.

When it reaches 260 degrees it’s time to put in the food coloring.

Stand back and pour it in carefully. It might sizzle and bubble a bit.

Resist your innate urge to stir. The bubbles will do the work for you. If only they followed you around all day.

****Have all your tools and pans/silpat nearby and ready to go. Call in the elves for back up if need be. You gotta move and move fast. Once your syrup hits the cool surface it’s going to begin cooling right away. You only have a matter of minutes to cut your strands of candy.

When your thermometer reaches 300 degrees, remove the pot and shut off the burner. Wait about 20 seconds and pour in your flavoring or oil. If using flavoring, use a whole dram. If using oil, use half a dram (bottle.) Stand back when you pour, it’s going to sizzle and release steam. You don’t want your beautiful face in the way of that.

Now you may stir. Stir the pot with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to evenly disperse the flavor/oil. Now quickly and CAREFULLY pour the syrup onto your surface of choice. You can even use a marble counter top, but I prefer a silpat. A cake pan is fine too. Make sure it is covered with a light dusting of nonstick cooking spray of your choice.

Here is a video demo on how to quickly cut the candy with a pizza cutter

 

 

Here is where you have to move fast. Give it barely a few seconds to begin cooling. Say 15 to 20 seconds. Begin at any outer edge and with a pizza cutter, slice the cooling candy lengthwise and widthwise into semi symmetrical squares. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly exact. It’s candy, it WILL get eaten.

Let the candies cool completely. Once cool, you can begin to carefully break them apart and place them into a ziplock bag with 1/2 tsp of confectioners sugar. This candy can be like working with shards of glass at times, much like the syrup spilling over the pot, at some point, you are going to get burned or get a small cut or two. So I wouldn’t recommend having the tiny tots helping with this task. The pain is worth all the reward. I promise!

Toss the candies around in the bag to get a light coating of sugar to prevent them from sticking together. I suggest pouring the candies into a colander over the sink and shake all the excess sugar off, which also gets rid of any dangerous shards of candy.

image

These make great gifts for friends and family. Layer them in canning jars with a ribbon. They will love you forever.

Pretzel Crust Pizza

Before Little Caesar’s burst on to the scene with their Pretzel Pizza, Auntie Anne’s was already making Pepperoni Pretzels way before you could say “Hot and Ready.” That’s where I initially got the idea for pizza on a pretzel crust. I talked about it in my Caramel Apple Crisp Braid Recipe and posted a photo of my initial success. Don’t ask me how I got a whole pizza crust covered with the cold baking soda solution. I’ve no idea now! I’m sure I struggled with it.

As I experimented more with homemade pretzel dough and pretzel buns, I discovered signature pretzel taste was more present in a boiling baking soda bath.

Did you know that to get a truly authentic pretzel crust and taste, baker’s use a lye bath. Lye is a chemical, a.k.a. sodium hydroxide and can burn your skin off if not protected while working with it. It can even dissolve glass! Dude, if it burns off my skin, why would I want to ingest it?

“Lye can be toxic in high concentrations, but is also commonly used for curing foods like lutefisk. Most bakers use food-grade lye, which is the chemical equivalent of drain cleaner, but is produced and packaged in a clean, regulated way.” ( Source: The Salt ) Hmm, drain cleaner packaged in a clean, regulated way. <Looks up to the ceiling. Thinking…thinking.> Uh, No!

Enter, baking soda bath. Safe for the skin and gastrointestinal tract. Sign me up! Obviously, I wasn’t throwing a whole pizza dough in a vat of boiling soda ash, so I began making smaller 7″ pies. The simmering bath is what gives the dough that chewy soft resistance when you bite in. It also allows the pretzel to brown nicely in the oven.

Check out the puffed buttery brown edges sprinkled with sea salt, just begging to be eaten. Just look at the steamy pizza in all it’s glory, oozing with melted mozzarella and crispy pepperoni on a soft pretzel. Does it really get any better than that?

It’s easy to make too. I got home Friday night after work about 5:45 pm and my pretzel dough was resting nicely under a towel on the warm stove precisely at 6:11 pm. I poured myself a glass of wine and did a few small preparations until the dough was ready to be rolled into personal pies.

At 7 pm I was cutting and measuring the dough on a scale  into 4 equal pieces and I rolled them out. I dropped them in the simmering soda bath. Brushed them with butter, salted the edges, and pre baked the pretzel dough for a few minutes. I then put the toppings on and put them back in the oven to finish off.  Snapped a few photos and by 8 pm we were eating. Not bad for a start to finish dough from scratch. And it certainly is a nice change up from regular pizza dough.

Pretzel Crust Pizza
Author: 
Recipe type: Pizza
Cuisine: Italian meets German
 
Move over Little Caesars, there's a new pretzel crust pizza recipe in town. Th soft & chewy buttery salted crust can't be beat. It's definitely a nice change up from regular pizza dough.
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1¼ cup whole milk (can substitute low fat if desired or use water if lactose intolerant)
  • ⅓ cup baking soda
  • sea salt for sprinkling
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Pepperoni
  • *additional toppings of your liking
Instructions
  1. In a small glass container empty in package of yeast and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar.
  2. Warm ¼ cup milk to 110 degrees and pour over mixture.
  3. Lightly stir and set aside for 10 minutes to activate.
  4. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer or bowl, add flour, remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
  5. Stir well with a fork.
  6. When yeast has activated add to flour mixture and add 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
  7. Attach the dough hook.
  8. Warm 1 cup milk to 100 degrees or what feels like warm bathwater when you put a finger in.
  9. Pour in ½ of milk and turn mixture on low.
  10. Slowly add the remaining milk as the dough mixes. You may not need all of the milk.
  11. You want the dough to pull away from the sides and not have dry mixture in the bottom of the bowl.
  12. If you added all the milk you may need to add more in tiny increments until you get the desired consistency. If the dough looks too wet add small increments of flour.
  13. Let the dough knead on low for about 6 minutes, rotating the dough off the hook after 3 minutes and turning opposite end down to evenly knead the dough.
  14. You can knead the dough by hand as well.
  15. When the dough looks smooth and doesn't stick to your fingers it's ready to be transferred to a glass or ceramic bowl to rise.
  16. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and lightly cover your dough in butter so it doesn't dry out or stick to bowl. Cover with a warm towel and place in a warm area free of drafts.
  17. Preheat oven to 425 and place baking stones on top and bottom rack if you own them. Otherwise just preheat as normal.
  18. After your dough rises for an hour, lightly punch down.
  19. Measure total weight of dough on a kitchen scale or eyeball it and evenly divide into 4 pieces of dough.
  20. You may need some light flour for dusting, but mine wasn't tacky or sticky and I didn't need extra flour for rolling.
  21. Meanwhile, place a large stock pot or soup pot filled with water on stove and bring to a boil.
  22. On a piece of parchment paper bigger than 7", roll the dough out to 7" in diameter. Continue rolling remaining dough separately on parchment paper.
  23. Water should be boiling at this point.
  24. Turn the water down to a medium simmer and slowly pour in the ⅓ cup baking soda. It will sizzle and bubble so be extremely careful.Pour a little at a time.
  25. Carefully drop one 7" pie crust in the pot and let simmer for each side 25 seconds. Remove and place on paper towel to drain and slightly cool. Pat any excess water off.
  26. Continue as above with remaining dough discs.
  27. Take remainder of melted butter and brush on the top of the dough and edges only.
  28. Sprinkle the edges lightly with sea salt or pretzel salt.
  29. Place in 425 degree oven and place two discs on each stone and bake for roughly 10 minutes, rotating stones on top and bottom oven shelf halfway through.
  30. When dough is between a golden and dark brown (not burnt) remove stones from the oven.
  31. Remove pretzel crusts from the stone so they don't continue to bake.
  32. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
  33. Add sauce and assemble toppings on crust.
  34. Place all four pizzas back in oven on top oven shelf. No pan needed.
  35. Continue to cook about 5-6 minutes until the cheese begins to melt.
  36. The last few minutes turn the oven to broil to crisp up your pepperoni and toppings. Keep a watchful eye on the pizza so as not to burn.
  37. Remove, slice and enjoy.

 

 

Do It Yourself Body Wrap It Works

DIY BEFORE AND AFTER BODY WRAP

Folks, I apologize. Today, there will be no recipe post. Well, technically, it CAN be considered a recipe post. It’s just not for consumption. Today, I’m sharing something very personal with you. Modesty pretty much went out the window on this one.

Today I’m here to talk about Do-It-Yourself Body Wraps. Months ago, I began seeing promotional body wrap “Before and After” photos in my Instagram and Facebook newsfeed. My first reaction was both cynical and skeptical or what I like to call…Cyneptical.

“Yeah, right!” I blurted out loud to myself. No way in hell those before and after photos were possible. Retouched! I tell you. Retouched! Nothing more than scammers trying to persuade me to hand over my hard earned cash for false promises of a flatter more toned abdomen.

The inquisitive person I am, I began searching the internet for stories and bloggers with before and after photos of those who used professional wraps such as spa wraps or those who ordered online at home wraps. From what I saw, most of them appeared to get results. Where do I sign up!

The more I read, the more I wanted to try a wrap. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m a big fan of organic ingredients. I’m also a HUGE fan of Do-It-Yourself and thought if I could research the ingredients, I could probably do this at home on my own. The professional wraps reminded me of plastic wrap anyway. Now there was one item I already had. One of the name brand at home wraps cost nearly $120 for four wraps. I also read that many people were suckered into buying them on a monthly basis. I read some people were spending up to $500/month. Not sure about you, but I have better things I could be doing with my money.

I initially had to make a little investment for items such as an electric heating pad and some quality ace bandages that were large enough to wrap my buddha belly, but that investment is going to go a long way. No pun intended.  Most of the items, I already had in my cabinets.

Let’s get into the theory of body wraps and the purpose they serve. First and foremost, these wraps are TEMPORARY and in no way should be substituted for a healthy diet and exercise. They are a great (and temporary) quick fix if you need to quickly lose inches to slip into that little black dress or need to look your best in a bathing suit. I had a family wedding to attend, and I had been meaning to test out if they really worked or not. So this was the perfect opportunity for me to try them.

I also must stress that before you even try a wrap that you make sure you are very well hydrated. Especially, if you are using either sea salt or epsom salts, as they draw water from the body. I typically drink near a gallon of water throughout the day. I also drink at least 8 oz of water during my wrap session.

Please don’t think that downing a gallon of water before your wrap is the answer. Drinking large quantities of water in a short time period could be detrimental to your health. It could cause a severe condition called Hyponatremia, (water toxicity) where your body’s electrolytes become off balance which can lead to muscle breakdown, a condition known as Rhabdomyolisis. As well as a whole array of other serious health problems such as brain edema and kidney and liver failure.

Results are going to vary from person to person as well. That being said, the theory behind the body wrap is to

1.) Detoxify the body of free radicals and harmful chemicals and pollutants that we ingest or absorb through our skin daily. This can be accomplished by using sea salt or epsom salts, (salts pull water from the body) essential oils, and other organic ingredients such as green tea with caffeine to stimulate circulation. Cacao powder has very little caffeine in it contrary to what some think, but it has a whole boat load of anti oxidants. So as your pores are opening up drawing out toxins, it’s simultaneously allowing for absorption of the anti oxidants which help fight free radicals. And who doesn’t want that?

2.) Exfoliate the skin. Using a combination of course salt and other organic ingredients can greatly improve the skin’s appearance by sloughing off dead skin cells and revealing younger skin below the surface. It can also improve some skin conditions such as acne.

3.) Moisturize. Using organic skin lotions or ingredients such as raw organic coconut oil can greatly add moisture to the skin and helps with the regeneration of skin cells. Adding a heat source will intensify the moisturization process by opening up pores to allow absorption.

4.) Relaxation. Make it an at home spa day if you can. I relax and read while I sit with my heating pad. Some people stay active while they are in their wraps, but I prefer to sit still with my thoughts and sip my water. Avoid the temptation to relax and drink alcoholic beverages. That’s what got me into this position in the first place. Baby steps…

5.) Quick Cellulite and weight fix. Overall, you are losing water weight, so naturally you are going to weigh less. The appearance of cellulite is diminished giving the skin a more toned appearance. Both benefits are only temporary. It’s the compression and heat that bring the result. Please be careful not to wrap to the point where you can not breath. This can cause severe circulatory problems. I wouldn’t rely on this method for your go to weight loss program. I would hope that everyone researches what they are doing and use this technique in a responsible manner that can benefit you if performed correctly.

Here is what you will need.

The Kitchen Prescription Ingredients for DIY Body Wrap

Body Wrap Items and Ingredients:

Electric heating pad or homemade rice sock that can be warmed in the microwave

2-3 six inch Ace Bandages with clips (I suggest you steer clear of the self adhesive bandages, as they can cause skin tears.)

Quality Plastic Wrap

Small bowl for mixing ingredients

Sea Salt or Epsom Salt

Coconut Oil

Organic Caffeinated Green Tea Bags

Organic Cacao Powder

Essential Oils

8 oz. Water to drink

*I recommend a large towel for standing on, as the ingredients can be quite messy. I also recommend wearing old clothes as the coconut oil can stain.

Directions: In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil. 1/4 cup sea or epsom salt. 1 teaspoon essential oil of your choice. Cut open the organic green tea bags and them to mixture. Add 1 tablespoon organic cacao powder. Stir ingredients until you have a thick paste formed.

Stand over large towel and have your plastic wrap and Ace bandages readily available. *(You can soak your ace bandages in warm salt water if you’d like, however, I found this to be too messy. Your heat source is going to be the electric heating pad or a microwaved rice sock. ) Spread the mixture onto your abdomen starting near your pubic line and working upwards toward your breast line. Rub the mixture on with an exfoliating glove if you’d like. The coconut oil is going to melt and run down your legs.  So bear with the uncomfortable feeling. Once you’re wrapped snugly it won’t be as bad.

Next, take the plastic wrap and begin at your pubic line area wrapping the plastic snugly around your abdomen. I say about 5 or 6 wraps should do the trick. Tear and secure. Now wrap your abdomen using the same process with the Ace bandages and secure.  It typically takes me two Ace bandages. Your wrap should be very snug, but not to the point where you feel your circulation is being completely cut off or you feel as if you can’t breathe. Put on an old t-shirt and pair of comfortable exercise pants or bath robe.

Find a quiet area and either lay down or sit comfortably in a reclining chair. Turn on your heating pad or microwave a rice sock and place over your abdomen. Do not put heat source directly on bare skin, as this could cause serious burns. Make sure you are sipping your water throughout your wrap session and drink at least 8 oz of water. Make the experience as relaxing as possible. Dim the lights, put sliced cucumbers dipped in organic honey on your eyes, listen to soft music, read a book, or simply meditate.

I typically leave my first wrap for two and a half hours. More than 2 to 3 hours after the first session is overkill. For the second to fourth wrap, I recommend one and a half hours.

When it is time to take everything off, it’s best to stand in the shower or back on the towel to disrobe all your items. Before you shower off, give the skin another good exfoliation with wet hands or exfoliating glove. Shower off and use an organic moisturizer or oil.

Below are my results. Before and After Wrap #1:

Body Wrap Before and After Wrap 1- The Kitchen Prescription

Hot damn! It really worked. Note to self…Do not ever use the self stick Ace bandages again. Owwwza! Pulling that off was not fun. I invested in two quality Ace bandages with clips for my next wrap.

Comparison Wrap #1 and Wrap #2:

Body Wrap #1 and Wrap #2 Comparison

Before Wrap 1 and After Wrap #2:

DIY Body Wrap Before and After

This is where I think I had the best results. During the first wrap I soaked my bandages, but as I stated above, It was very messy and uncomfortable to sit in. I cut out the messy wet bandages and used an electric heating pad for Wrap session #2. I also changed up my recipe a bit and added more detoxifying ingredients.

Wrap #2 and #3 Comparison:

DIY Body Wrap Before and After

As you can tell, the best result was initially after the second wrap. I used the remainder wrap sessions as maintenance wraps before I traveled home for a family wedding.

Wrap 3 and 4 Comparison:

DIY Body Wrap Before and After

Front View Before Wrap #1 Before and After Wrap #2 :

DIY Body Wrap Before and After Front View

I can’t believe I’m showing this. That front view photo is pretty awful. I look so bloated. I’ve got the buddha belly thing going on here. I warned you there was no modesty; however, I can see a significant difference after the second wrap.

*** None of my photos were edited. I took them with my iPhone directly after the wraps. I also stood relaxed. There was no pushing out or sucking in of the belly. Who would that have benefited? I was trying to see if the wraps worked. Clearly, doing that would have skewed by results.

Before and After First and Last Wrap Comparison:

DIY Body Wrap Before and After First and Last Wrap

I can see an overall difference in the diminished appearance of cellulite and a more toned stomach. Sadly, I didn’t measure before or after any of my wraps. I was initially testing to see if it worked, and for me, the proof was in the pictures.

The next time I perform a wrap, I will definitely measure my before and after results. The wraps can also be used on the arms and thighs. I haven’t tried either, but I can tell you I have some pretty gnarly bat wings, begging me for a wrap session. In addition, I’m getting back to the gym and focusing on my eating habits. These are all big factors in looking and feeling your best.

If you decide to try this, I hope you see beneficial results as I did. Again, I encourage you to do your own research and perform the wraps responsibly and safely. If you have ever tried a DIY wrap or professional wrap. Let us know in the comments below.  Sharing is caring.

Cinnamon Vanilla English Muffins

There’s a new English muffin out on the shelves. Thomas’ Cinnamon Vanilla English Muffins. It’s a limited edition. Have you tried them? While I do love them, I’m not crazy about all the icky chemicals, artificial flavors, and preservatives they put into them.

When I look back at some of my first recipe posts, I had used a lot of processed ingredients. Over my four year journey with this food blog, it has enlightened me to eating more healthy and using fresh seasonal ingredients . I have found a new love for cooking from scratch and food photography & styling . Passions I may have never discovered on my own, had I not had this recipe blog or researched various foods for cancer cures. 

I’m not here to tell you how you should eat. Even kids know what they want and don’t want to eat.  I’m here on this journey exploring my passions, discovering new techniques, and sharing with you all along the way. If I can inspire just one person to challenge themselves in the kitchen, then that makes all the time invested here well worth it.

Don’t be afraid to get in the kitchen and make mistakes. I still make plenty of mistakes in my culinary adventures. My photography skills are amateur on a good day, but I’m pushing myself to step outside my iPhone comfort zone to learn food photography and styling.

I’m also guilty of rephotographing a recipe and going back and replacing the image on a post. It’s temping to do it with all my early images, but I fear if I do, I won’t see my progression. I mean, there are some horrific photos that make me cringe when I look back at early recipe posts, or when I get an email notification that someone pinned one of those bad photos.  Not only have my photography skills and cooking skills improved, I even see a difference in the quality of the ingredients I use.

I definitely have a newfound love for baking bread from scratch. Sometimes, I wonder why I waited so long to try my hand at it. Shoulda, coulda, woulda!

These English muffins can be completed in just a few hours. That may be easy for me to say, because I’m not a novice baker… anymore. But I once was. You’ve got to roll up those sleeves and just dive in. Yes, you’re going to have mishaps, (I still do.) but that is how you learn. Then, you improve upon your technique the next time. (*stepping off my soap box.)

This Recipe is adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. For all the novice bread bakers out there, I highly recommend this book.

Cinnamon Vanilla English Muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: *Most ingredients are organic when possible
Serves: 6
 
The fragrance of cinnamon and vanilla will warm your palate and soul. A nice change from a plain English muffin.
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cup unbleached bread flour (Recommend organic King Arthur flour)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 whole vanilla bean scraped (*optional 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted room temperature butter
  • ¾ to 1 cup whole milk or buttermilk (*hint- to make buttermilk simply add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup milk)
  • Cornmeal for dusting
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean, salt, and yeast with a fork. If using stand mixer use paddle attachment.
  2. Add room temperature butter and ¾ cup milk and form ingredients into a loose ball. If any flour is remaining loose in bowl, add remainder ¼ cup milk. Dough should be soft and pliable not stiff.
  3. Sprinkle counter top or other surface with flour. If using a stand mixer, switch over to the hook attachment. Knead the dough for 10 minutes or until passes the windowpane test. Dough should be tacky but not sticky.
  4. Generously oil a glass or ceramic bowl with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and place dough in bowl. Make sure dough is oiled completely. Cover with plastic wrap and towel and place in draft free area to rise until doubled in size. 60 to 90 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into six equal pieces. Shape pieces in rounded discs by working dough with thumbs to undersides of your finger.
  6. On a baking sheet, place a sheet of parchment paper and lightly oil and generously dust a bottom layer of cornmeal.
  7. Place pieces of dough about an inch apart and lightly coat top with oil and generously dust top with cornmeal.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap in towel and place in draft free area to double in size 60 to 90 minutes.
  9. Preheat griddle to 350 degrees.Or if not using electric griddle place on low medium heat and preheat. Preheat oven to 325 degrees as well.
  10. Lightly spray surface with oil and carefully place rounds on to the griddle. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Carefully flip and repeat above step. Resist the urge to smash down rounds. They will fall on their own as you cook them. Smashing will make them dense.
  12. Place all the muffins on the parchment paper and finish baking on middle rack for additional 5 minutes.
  13. Let cool and slice apart with a fork. For best results toast.

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean, salt, and yeast with a fork. If using stand mixer use paddle attachment. Add room temperature butter and 3/4 cup milk and form ingredients into a loose ball. If any flour is remaining loose in bowl, add remainder 1/4 cup milk. Dough should be soft and pliable not stiff.

Sprinkle counter top or other surface with flour. If using a stand mixer, switch over to the hook attachment. Knead the dough for 10 minutes or until it passes the windowpane test. Dough should be tacky but not sticky.

Generously oil a glass or ceramic bowl with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and place dough in bowl. Make sure dough is oiled completely. Cover with plastic wrap and towel and place in draft free area to rise until doubled in size. 60 to 90 minutes.

This is what your dough will look like after it has doubled in size.

Divide your dough into six equal pieces.

For best results, use a kitchen scale if you own one. Weigh the dough then divide the total weight by six. If I have a little dough left over I just divide it up in tiny pieces to each one.

Shape pieces in rounded discs by working dough with thumbs to undersides of your hands. On a baking sheet, place a sheet of parchment paper and lightly oil and generously dust a bottom layer of cornmeal. Place pieces of dough about an inch apart and lightly coat top with oil and generously dust top with cornmeal.

I love how the vanilla seeds and cinnamon peek through the dough. The flavor is so flagrant.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in draft free area to double in size again for 60-90 minutes.

Preheat griddle to 350 degrees. Or, if not using an electric griddle, place on low medium heat and preheat. Preheat oven to 325 degrees as well. Lightly spray surface with oil and carefully place rounds on to the griddle. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown.

A good quality griddle, either cast iron or electric, is the best way to go. I have since replaced my smaller ceramic griddle above with a cast iron griddle. It made a huge difference while cooking them because cast iron heats evenly, and I was also able to fit all the muffins on at once.

Carefully flip and repeat above step. Resist the urge to smash down your muffins once you flip them. It will make them dense. They will flatten out on their own as they cook. Let them do their thing. It’s one of those “Do as I say, not as I do” kinda things. I repeat, resist the urge to smash down your muffins once you flip them.

Place all the muffins on the parchment paper and finish baking on middle rack at 325 degrees for an additional 5 minutes. Let cool and slice apart with a fork.  That’s what makes the nooks and crannies. Although, you may not be able to wait that long. For best results toast the muffin. My favorite way to eat them is with butter and strawberry jam. What’s your favorite way to eat an English muffin?

Healthy Mixed Berry Yogurt Pops

I’m excited about these yogurt pops for a couple of reasons. 1.) I’m finally learning how to use my Canon t5i that I received for Christmas. And…2.) It’s popsicle season and these yogurt pops are pretty darn delicious and healthy.

Now that summer is rounding the corner, I’m tired of staring at the same old picture in the mirror at the gym. I mean, I know what I look like on the elliptical already…and it ain’t pretty! I live in South Florida and there’s so much out there to explore. Why not kill two birds with one stone by exercising and exploring?

Last weekend was the official kick off to the beginning of summer with the long Memorial Day Weekend. I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to get out my camera and practice using it. Also, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for bicycle riding. We got up early last Saturday and headed to a small island right off of Miami, called Key Biscaye.

The weather was perfect all weekend, and for the day we rode our bikes around the whole island and spent the night in a quaint cabin/condo. My boyfriend was able to persuade the owner to let us rent it for one night, instead of the usual 7 days.

Bicycling, among other recreations, is a very popular activity on Key Biscayne. You can literally find bicycle trails around the whole island. Of course, I was the only girl biking in a dress and large hat and big sunglasses instead of the proper protection. I like to bike pretty. What can I say? I’m a nurse, I should know better.

We didn’t waste any time. Once settled into our humble abode, we took off to Cape Florida Lighthouse on the southern tip of the island. We rode our bicycles along the coast.

Once we arrived at the lighthouse I was ready to spring into action with my camera.

TZ sat patiently while I snapped photo after photo trying to get the right angle.

The lighthouse was open, so we decided to climb the 107 steps to the top. Hey, more exercise!

The view from the top was breathtaking. I spotted some persons canoeing below. Ha! The perfect photo op.

The beach was so crowded. Of course, it was a holiday weekend. To be expected.

Once we descended back down the stairs we headed down this beautiful path of palm trees. We were heading to the beach to take a dip. It was sweltering. Again, I couldn’t pass up the great photo opportunity.

We spent hours exploring the island from top to bottom and side to side. But my favorite part was when we ran into the Peacock garden. It was blooming with wildlife. All the birds and animals were clearly accustomed to people.

It’s almost like they knew how to pose for the camera. Loved this duck!

We had a great time and I’m sure I lost like a gazillion pounds. Summer is the perfect time for day trips and popsicles. I didn’t have any popsicles on the trip obviously, but this hot day and new found passion to exercise while exploring inspired me to make some healthy yogurt pops when I returned home.

Almost all the ingredients are organic. Totally void of any refined sugars or genetically modified high fructose corn syrup. Yucky!

This is a treat you can feel good about giving your family. The berries are packed full of antioxidants and nutrients. The yogurt is chock-full of protein. How cool is that?

Aside from all the healthy benefits, they are super easy to make. The hard part is waiting for them to freeze. This recipe is adapted from Pint Sized Baker Mixed Berry & Coconut Pops.

Healthy Mixed Berry Yogurt Pops
Author: 
Recipe type: Summer Delight
 
A super healthy summer treat. Adapted from Pint Sized Baker.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup blueberries
  • ¾ cup raspberries
  • ¾ cup blackberries
  • 4 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons organic orange blossom honey
  • 1 cup blueberry Stonyfield organic Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup lemon Stonyfield ( or other brand) organic Greek yogurt
  • ½ scraped vanilla bean
Instructions
  1. Add all berries lemon juice, except for the honey (heat will kill the healthy properties of the honey) to a pot and over medium high heat bring the berries to a boil.
  2. When they begin to pop & breakdown (10 to 12 minutes) shut off and place in freezer for about 25 minutes.
  3. Add the honey to the mixtures and stir once cooled.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine blueberry and lemon Stonyfield ( or other brand) Greek yogurt and ½ scraped vanilla bean.
  5. Mix gently.
  6. Chill yogurt mixture until berries are cool.
  7. Alternate layers of yogurt and berries into popsicle mold.
  8. Freeze.
  9. Enjoy!
  10. Makes about 8-12 popsicles

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...