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

 

Homemade Chicken Soup with Rivels

It’s funny how heritage can greatly influence what we cook and eat.  Cultural food can bring about great comfort. It brings families together, but more importantly, it allows us to carry on those traditions for generations to come.

The older I become, the more sacred these traditions become. When I was 19 I lost my 18 year old brother in a traumatic auto accident. Three years ago this coming May, we lost my dad to stage IV lung cancer.  That same year, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was very ill, and has traveled a long and windy road to recovery.  But she beat it!

She. Kicked. Cancer’s. Ass!  Two years cancer free and counting. Yaaaay Mom! She’s one tough cookie. She never once complained throughout her whole sickness. In my eyes, my mom is the most beautiful woman in the world.

Growing up, whenever my mother would prepare a roast, occasionally, instead of potatoes she made a sort of egg and flour dumpling and added them to the broth and called them “rubbs.” As strange as it sounds, it was one of my favorite meals to eat. I couldn’t get enough when she served up the steaming pot of roast and rubbs.

I remember as I grew older, I asked my mother one day, “Why are they called rubbs?” Without skipping a beat, she replied, “I don’t know. That’s what my mother called them.” Fair enough. I never questioned it again. It’s not like I could get on google back then and look it up. I just gobbled them up whenever she made them.

I also never attempted to make them myself until a few years ago. I think it had more to do with I didn’t think I could make them as well as my mom. It’s like one of those comfort foods and feelings only your mother can elicit.

Believe it or not, I got it right on the first try. I called my mother and she walked me through how she made them, and it’s not like there was an exact recipe. Upon completion, I was pretty darn impressed with myself. I didn’t add them to a roast either, I added them to some chicken soup.

So what are rivels?

Turns out my mom knew what she was talking about…even though she didn’t know exactly what she was talking about. If that makes sense. Rivels or rivlets, prepared mainly by the Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish, are a wheat flour and egg dumpling used in hearty soups such as potato soup or chicken corn chowder. Often used to stretch out the soup to feed large quantities of people.

Typically, the egg and dough are mixed by making a well with the flour and a little salt and pepper. Eggs front and center. Then, with your hands you slowly incorporate the ingredients until you have a tacky stretchy dough. The dough is then broken off and “rubbed” (Oh my gosh! Rubbs!) between your fingers until pea sized dumplings are formed. Which are then dropped into the boiling broth 15 minutes before the soup is served.

I always knew that I was Polish by way of my maternal grandfather, but I never knew my grandmother’s Nationality. That is, until I knew I was going to write this post, and I asked my mom, “What Nationality was Moger?” (That’s what we called my grandmother.)

My mother firmly answered, “She was Pennsylvania Dutch.” EUREKA! Now it all made sense. All these years, and I never knew my maternal grandmother was Pennsylvania Dutch. Just a little fun fact, I was always told the story that my cousin couldn’t pronounce grandma, and called her Moger instead. Moger is Dutch according to google. Coincidence? I think not! I think my grandmother secretly taught my cousin to call her that, and so it stuck with all the grandkids. Kinda like how my kids and nieces and nephews call my mom, Mamaw! Or how the Italians refer to their grandmothers as Nona.

So there you have it. Mystery solved. I’m part Pennsylvania Dutch and my mom knew what she talking about (kinda sorta) when she called rivels “rubbs.”  There  isn’t an exact recipe for rivels or for my homemade chicken soup. But I’ll do my best to give you measurements.  I also add some parmesan cheese to the rivel mixture and make them bigger than pea sized. If you make them right, you will have an airy chewy center when you bite in. It may take you a few tries to get the right consistency, but once you get the feel for it, you’ll easily make them every time.

Homemade Chicken Soup with Rivels
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Pennsylvania Dutch
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6
 

Homemade chicken soup with rivels…the Pennsylvania Dutch’s alternative to Jewish Penicillin.
Ingredients
  • FOR THE SOUP:
  • 3 large chicken breasts with rib meat (can use a whole chicken if you prefer dark meat.)
  • Package of chicken backs.
  • Water for boiling
  • Two 32 oz. containers organic chicken stock ( I use Emeril’s organic brand.)
  • 1 Tablespoon chicken base (can find in same area as chicken stock)
  • One large white onion (half for boiling chicken and half for soup)
  • One large red/purple onion (half for boiling chicken and half for soup)
  • Large bag of carrots (plus extra for boiling chicken)
  • 4 large celery stalks/ribs
  • 1 large minced garlic clove
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • FOR THE RIVELS
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-5 handfuls of all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. DIRECTIONS:
  2. In a large stock pot place chicken breasts and backs in pan and cover with water. Slice half of white and red onion and add to water.
  3. Add large handful of carrots
  4. Add 3 large celery stalks/ribs
  5. Add Salt and Pepper to taste
  6. Bring water to a rolling boil and boil chicken on high heat for about 20 minutes.
  7. When chicken is done grab another large pot and place a colander over the pan in the sink.
  8. Carefully pour the hot contents of the pot into the colander and reserve the stock you just made.
  9. Place chicken breasts on a plate and let cool.
  10. Discard the chicken backs & cooked vegetables.
  11. Wash out pot.
  12. Next, take the reserved stock in the other pot and pour back into pot you just emptied & washed.
  13. Add 48 ounces of organic chicken stock to pot.
  14. Add 1 tablespoon chicken base
  15. Add rest of bag of sliced carrots.
  16. Add other half of sliced red and white onion.
  17. Add minced garlic clove
  18. Add desired amount of sliced celery ( I used 1 and ½ stalks chopped)
  19. Add ⅛ tsp of nutmeg
  20. Add desired amount of chopped fresh parsley
  21. When chicken cools enough peel and shred into pot.
  22. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  23. Let simmer for at least 30 – 40 minutes
  24. Meanwhile prepare rivels.
  25. crack 2 eggs into medium bowl.
  26. Whisk well.
  27. Add fresh grated parmesan
  28. Salt & Pepper to taste
  29. Add flour a large handful at a time.
  30. Mix each handful well with a fork.
  31. Keep adding increments of handful of flour at a time until the consistency is tacky and stretching. It should not be wet, but should stick to your fingers if you touch it.
  32. minutes before ready to serve soup, turn up heat to hight and bring broth to a rolling boil.
  33. Test a small rival by taking a fork and adding a small about of flour mixture to the fork and dropping in broth with a butter knife.
  34. Wait a minute or two. Rivel will float. Take it out.
  35. Let cool taste.
  36. If you bite in and it’s airy and chewy inside and has the consistency of al dente pasta, continue dropping small forkfuls into broth until all of mixture is used up. Make to your desired size.
  37. If rivel looks more like a scrambled egg and is soft and mushy, or dissolve into broth, you will need to add small flour increments until you get the right consistency.
  38. Please leave any comments or questions below. I will be happy to answer.

Please leave any comments or question below. I will be happy to answer.

Lobster & Shrimp Ravioli

I can’t believe I waited until I was 46 47 years old young to try my hand at homemade pasta. And all without a pasta maker. That’s right folks, it doesn’t get more scratch and primitive than this! And who knew that a homemade vodka sauce was so easy and more tasty than jarred sauce? What was I thinking all these years? Oh, wait, I wasn’t! That’s why it’s never to late to “teach an old dog a new trick.”

According to various social media posts, many of you up North have been trapped inside for days at a time in what seems like endless snow and ice storms. Often, with the kids off on yet another snow day and complaining how bored they are. What better way to fill up the days then making homemade pasta. Everyone can join in and be a part of. Or, it could have them scrambling out of kitchen and out of your hair faster then you can say… “Hey kids, let’s have some fun in the the kitchen!” Either way, pour a glass of vino and enjoy!

Why not give them something they can create with their own hands, as well as taste the fruits of their labor. Cooking with your children can keep them occupied in addition to strengthening the bond between you. It’s something they will remember forever. The traditions you instill in them might just surprise you as they grow older. Who knows, you may even be creating the next Giada or Mario!

There are so many combinations and flavors you can add once you get the basics down. Now, granted, I only made this once, but that is all you will need to understand that the fresh taste is well worth the effort. I use the word effort loosely, as pasta is quite easier to make than you might think.

I have fond memories of my mother making homemade pasta when I was a little girl. She even has her original pasta maker. Back then; however, I was too young to appreciate the full concept of creating something from scratch, let alone savor the flavor notes created by homemade pasta. All I ever understood was the processed boxed pasta that comes off the shelf at the grocery store. It’s the same concept with naps, really. You don’t ever fully appreciate them until you’re an adult.

*Note: See very end of recipe post for a printable version.

PASTA INGREDIENTS:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour (You can substitute bread flour. Semolina is a high gluten flour as is bread flour)
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
2tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons milk (You can also use water. I used milk for a richer flavor)

DIRECTIONS:

On a clean countertop, large pasta mat or cutting board, mix flours and salt together with a fork. Clear out a spot in the center, forming a well for your all your liquids. i.e. eggs, olive oil, and milk.

With a fork, slowly incorporate dry flour into wet mixture until it becomes a solid ball. If too dry add more liquid and if too wet, add more flour slowly.
Hand knead for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with flour as you are kneading so it doesn’t stick to your hands or the surface.

I think it’s best to hand knead the dough first time so you can get the feel for how the dough should feel. Smooth and elastic. Much like a babies soft bottom.  Sprinkle with flour and cover with plastic wrap. Place on counter and place a ceramic or glass bowl upside down over the dough. Let rest for one hour at room temperature. This allows the gluten to relax.

While the dough is resting, prepare your filling. You can use any filling you desire. Same with your sauce. Get creative. I was craving lobster and shrimp with a vodka sauce.

LOBSTER AND SHRIMP FILLING INGREDIENTS:

12 medium  defrosted cooked shrimp (Reserve 6 of the shrimp for the vodka sauce.)
2 lobster tails reserve some for vodka sauce (Reserve one of the tails for the vodka sauce.)
4 tbsp ricotta cheese
2 tbsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp fresh parsley
One egg yolk
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place 6 of your shrimp in the fridge to keep cool.

Bring a pot of salted water with 2 tablespoons of butter to a rolling boil. Turn off burner completely and place lobster tails in for approximately 3 minutes. That is all you will need. Remove from water and drain on a paper towel. Let cool for a few minutes. Place one of the tails in the fridge with the shrimp. These will be used in your vodka sauce.

Chop your shrimp and lobster finely with a knife. You want some chunk. Chop your onion and parsley as well. I chop all my ingredients separately and then mix them all together.

In a bowl add all the ingredients and mix well with a spoon. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set in fridge to keep cool.

The vodka sauce doesn’t take long to make at all. I made mine right before cooking my ravioli. However; I infused 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes in one cup of high quality vodka and set aside while I was rolling and stuffing the pasta. So, you may wish to do that step now or eliminate if you aren’t using the red pepper. The quality of vodka really does make a difference, so splurge a little. You’re worth it!

Don those aprons! Now it’s time to roll the pasta. Remove bowl and plastic wrap from dough. You will immediately see and feel how the gluten has relaxed. Cut in half with a sharp floured knife.

I don’t own a pasta maker/roller, so I went all old school and used a wooden rolling pin. In my head, I heard Italian grandmothers everywhere clapping their hands together and shouting “Bravo! Bravo!”

The trick is to roll out your dough very thin. As you can see here, it’s almost see through. This is what’s referred to as the window test. I recommend rolling it out by hand once, just to see what it’s like. It’s not hard. I will invest in a pasta maker at some point. I just haven’t decided which one I want to purchase yet.

Flour your surface well and roll the first half of your dough out as above. I used a small biscuit cutter dipped in flour to cut out circles. I got about 20 ravioli with each half of the dough.

I brushed all of them with an egg wash, (one egg mixed with 2 tablespoons of water) so they will form a tight seal. Then I filled half of the ravioli with less than a teaspoon of the lobster and shrimp mixture. Next, place the other half of the discs over and seal the edges well with a fork. You may need to keep dipping your fork in flour so it doesn’t stick to the edges.

You can put smaller amounts of filling in and fold those over to a half moon to get more ravioli, but I seem to like to make more work for myself in the kitchen. It’s my nature!

Once you have sealed the edges well, carefully transfer the ravioli to a baking sheet on a well floured surface of parchment paper. Put in fridge uncovered until ready for cooking.

How about we get that vodka sauce on now? Mmmmmm, it’s so delicious. I will never eat jarred vodka sauce again, if I can help it. Just remember, homemade does not always equal hard. It does; however, always equal fresh and flavorful with ingredients you control and can pronounce.

VODKA SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
2 tbsp salted butter
28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes
16 oz. tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup high quality vodka
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large minced garlic clove
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
3 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano
4 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese & basil for garnish

Retrieve the reserved lobster tail and shrimp from the fridge. Chop into 1/2″ pieces for the sauce. As well, chop your garlic, onion, basil, parsley, and oregano if using fresh. Also, take the 20 oz. can of whole tomato and in a food processor or blender, process the tomatoes until smooth. Set aside.

In a large sauce pan, over medium high heat, melt your butter. When pan and butter are hot, add all your chopped ingredients to the pan. Sauté for a couple of minutes to draw out and marry the flavors. The lobster and shrimp are going to give your sauce a nice seafood flavor note.

Next, add your vodka mixture to pan. The vodka should have a nice peppery taste, so either strain or carefully hold back the flakes while pouring into the pan. Let the sauce simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes until the alcohol burns off.

Next, add your processed mixture of whole tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Stir well and turn sauce to a low simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add whipping cream and stir well. When completely incorporated add parmesan cheese. Turn to low heat and occasionally stir while preparing pasta.

Fill a large pan with generously salted water and a hint of extra virgin olive oil and bring to a rolling boil. Carefully add the pasta and cook for about 4-5 minutes or when the ravioli begin to float to the top.

Remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon a few at a time and place them in the sauce to absorb all that saucy goodness. I do apologize for some of the blurry pictures. I am in the process of learning to use my new camera I got for Christmas and had to revert briefly back to my iPhone in my cooking haste. The horror!!!!

Time to plate your masterpiece for all to admire. Can you believe you just made this beautiful dish completely from scratch? Pinch yourself, because it’s not a dream. It’s Belissimo, No!

Load that plate and Mangia, mangia! Savor the fruits of your labor.

You will be hooked on homemade pasta for life. Plus, you’ll have bragging rights once your family and dinner guests get a look at the inside of your masterpiece! 

Lobster & Shrimp Ravioli
Author: 
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
 

Homemade never tasted so good.
Ingredients
  • PASTA INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour (You can substitute bread flour. Semolina is a high gluten flour as is bread flour)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons milk (You can also use water. I used milk for a richer flavor)
  • LOBSTER AND SHRIMP FILLING INGREDIENTS:
  • 12 medium defrosted cooked shrimp (Reserve 6 of the shrimp for the vodka sauce.)
  • 2 lobster tails reserve some for vodka sauce (Reserve one of the tails for the vodka sauce.)
  • 4 tbsp ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • One egg yolk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • VODKA SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup high quality vodka
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 large minced garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano
  • 4 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese & basil for garnish

Instructions
  1. Place 6 of your shrimp in the fridge to keep cool.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water with 2 tablespoons of butter to a rolling boil.
  3. Turn off burner completely and place lobster tails in for approximately 3 minutes. Remove from water and drain on a paper towel.
  4. Let cool for a few minutes.
  5. Place one of the tails in the fridge with the shrimp to will be used in your vodka sauce.
  6. Chop your shrimp and lobster finely with a knife. You want some chunk.
  7. Chop your onion and parsley as well.
  8. In a bowl add all the ingredients and mix well with a spoon.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Cover and set in fridge to keep cool.
  11. Add ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes in one cup of high quality vodka and set aside.
  12. You may eliminate above step if not using red pepper.
  13. Remove bowl and plastic wrap from dough.
  14. Cut in half with a sharp floured knife.
  15. Flour surface well and roll out the first half of dough very thin.
  16. Use a small biscuit cutter dipped in flour to cut out circles.
  17. Brush all your discs with an egg wash, (one egg mixed with 2 tablespoons of water) so they will form a tight seal.
  18. Fill half of the ravioli discs with less than a teaspoon of the lobster and shrimp mixture.
  19. Place the other half of the discs over and seal the edges well with a fork.
  20. Keep dipping your fork in flour so it doesn’t stick to the edges.
  21. Carefully transfer the ravioli to a baking sheet on a well floured surface of parchment paper.
  22. Place in fridge uncovered until ready for cooking.
  23. Retrieve the reserved lobster tail and shrimp from the fridge.
  24. Chop into ½” pieces for the sauce.
  25. As well, chop your fresh garlic, onion, basil, parsley, and oregano.
  26. Take the 20 oz. can of whole tomato and in a food processor or blender, process the tomatoes until smooth.
  27. Set aside.
  28. In a large sauce pan, over medium high heat, melt butter.
  29. When pan and butter are hot, add all chopped ingredients to the pan.
  30. Sauté for a couple of minutes to draw out and marry the flavors.
  31. Next, add vodka mixture to pan.
  32. Either strain or carefully hold back the flakes while pouring into the pan.
  33. Let sauce simmer on medium heat about 10 minutes until alcohol burns off.
  34. Next, add processed mixture of whole tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Stir well and turn sauce to a low simmer for 15 minutes.
  35. Add whipping cream and stir well.
  36. When completely incorporated add parmesan cheese.
  37. Turn to low heat and occasionally stir while preparing pasta.
  38. Fill a large pan with generously salted water and a hint of extra virgin olive oil and bring to a rolling boil.
  39. Carefully add pasta and cook 4-5 minutes or when ravioli begin to float to the top.
  40. Remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon a few at a time and place them in the sauce for a few minutes to finish cooking.
  41. Plate and garnish with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese.

 

 

Spiced Honey Orange & Garlic Chicken

This Honey Orange & Garlic chicken recipe is on my Top Ten favorite dinner rotations. Some recipes I can go several months in between making.  Or I can completely walk away from a recipe after making only once. Life is too short to eat the same thing over and over. Don’t you agree? However, some recipes you just keep coming back to. And this is one of them.

The rub contains brown sugar. Brown sugar gives a great crusty char when grilling. I know what you’re thinking. That it is sub zero temperatures out there and your grill has seen the light of day since Fall. Just pull out a counter top grill if you have one, or a cast iron skillet grill will work too.

The spice also boasts a tickle-your-tongue- spicy flavor. The orange honey combined with the tanginess of the apple cider vinegar balances out the sweet and savory. The orange zest really brings out the flavor. It’s the right mix of zest and garlic. So good! I promise you will keep coming back to this as part of your dinner repertoire. It also is a quick fix dinner recipe if you’re pressed for time. You can get the printable recipe at the end of the post.

SPICE RUB INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet or smoked paprika
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (* if preferred less spicy add 1/2 teaspoon)

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to blend together. Store the rub in an airtight jar away from heat or light. It will keep for at least 6 months.

Generously sprinkle spice rub on both sides of chicken breasts ( You can use any chicken or pork cut that you want.) Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

ORANGE HONEY & GARLIC SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup organic orange honey
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1/2 orange
Mix together all ingredients.

Grill chicken and brush on honey sauce the last few minutes of grilling. Reserve some sauce for dipping…or shall I say “soppin’ it up!”

Spice Rubbed Honey Orange & Garlic Chicken
Author: 
Recipe type: Chicken Dish
 

The sweet and savory flavors balance out this dish perfectly. You will keep coming back to this over and over.
Ingredients
  • SPICE RUB INGREDIENTS:
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sweet or smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ORANGE HONEY & GARLIC SAUCE:
  • ¾ cup organic orange honey
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • Mix together all ingredients.

Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients for the spice rub in a mixing bowl and mix well to blend together. Store the rub in an airtight jar away from heat or light. It will keep for at least 6 months.
  2. Generously sprinkle rub on both sides of chicken. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Grill chicken and brush on honey sauce last few minutes of grilling. Reserve some sauce for dipping. *Double the sauce recipe if cooking more than 3 chicken breasts.

 

 

Dear Di Carlo’s Pizza: A Recipe Blogger’s Response to Trademark Bullying

I recently posted a blog and review about my favorite childhood pizza,  Di Carlo’s Original Pizza, and a recipe tribute to the pizza I grew up eating and now miss living here in Florida. I gave the particular pizza and company rave reviews and shared my own interpretation of the recipe in the same article.  It appears that post has drawn some unwanted attention.

*Update, I have been getting several emails from people who have pinned or bookmarked the original post of the recipe. I have since edited the article and you can find the recipe here. I haven’t pulled it. It is still alive and well.

I received a comment on my About Page from a representative of the company. Here is the unedited comment:

“Please remove anything and everything that involves DiCarlos Pizza. DiCarlos Pizza is a registered trademark with the USPTO and it us illegal to publish articles that have to do with our product with out consent. Your article has come to my attention from a number of people. I appreciate the fact that you are a fan, but I don’t appreciate you posting recipes that have to do with my business and also are incorrect. I don’t want to make this a legal issue, but please remove your article immediately.”

-DiCarlo’s Pizza

My response:

Dear Di Carlo’s Pizza:

I can only assume from your above response that you either have not consulted your legal counsel before firing off that ridiculous comment, or you were ill-advised by your counsel. I hope it’s the former. In my opinion, this is a futile attempt on your part to silence my Constitutionally protected right to Freedom of Speech. I feel this was conducted for personal reasons cleverly disguised as accusations of Trademark Infringement. Not cool.

I’ll admit, initially you had me shaking in my “blogger boots” and scrambling to wrap my head around what I did. I almost felt as if someone may even come drag me away in handcuffs. Although, I must thank you for the crash course in Trademark Law and Trademark Bullying.

I think it would be doing a huge disservice to myself and other bloggers by not calling you out on your bad behavior.

You would have me believe I can not mention your Trademark name in ANY capacity whatsoever. Luckily, I’m not that gullible. That is blatantly untrue and ridiculous, and I imagine, somewhat embarrassing on your part.

If you are going to police the internet under the scope of your trademark rights, threatening small time bloggers, such as myself, along with a plethora of Yelp and Trip Adviser reviewers, stating we can’t mention your company name without asking your consent,  you should at least have some knowledge of Trademark Law and a structured factual basis for your claim.

It is my suspicion that you have either knowingly or unknowingly resorted to:

1.) Unreasonable interpretation of the scope of your trademark rights.

2.) Intimidation and Manipulation tactics, related to the above, in order to enforce your demands by way of manipulative insulting remarks (i.e. your emails regarding my lack of compliance which you inferred as unladylike and “extremely low class,”) and inciting threats of “legal problems.”

You went on to ask why I would “fight and lose over a legal battle over something so small?” Which, in my opinion, is the “pot calling the kettle black.”

This is outright legal intimidation, highly suggestive of legal superiority. It’s somewhat nauseating. Fortunately for me, I’m not the defenseless imbecile you make me out to be.

Furthermore, you have failed to fairly assess my website and its primary use. It is a Recipe Blog where I express myself artistically through food. I write reviews, share stories, develop, and recreate recipes for a small circle of readers. I’m not on some covert operation to single handedly bring down your company.

My website is noncommercial. I also do not carry a mark similar to yours, nor link to any advertisers or other third party commerce sites. Therefore, I’m not sure how any of this constitutes infringement. Please refer to Warner Brothers Corporation policing of third party non commerce Harry Potter sites. It was quite the red-faced debacle for Warner Bros.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I’m still confused to the alleged claims in regard to “misuse” of your trademark name. Your last email sounded somewhat desperate in nature, given that the prior threat promised legal problems if I didn’t remove your name from my article within the next 24 hours. Finally, in a last ditch effort, accusing me of “causing many problems” with your business and “tainting” your product and name. This is almost laughable.

Rest assured I take it quite seriously; however, I’m sure you can understand my confusion. I trust you will make this more clear should you decide to move forward with your threat.

In that event, I’ve compiled a list of requests that I hope you will kindly forward on to your counsel, as this will expedite the process for all parties involved.  After all, you have a business to run, and I have a full time job to tend to, since my blog doesn’t bring in any income.

1.) Please explain clearly and concisely, kindly keeping the legal jargon to a minimum, the exact nature of your client’s Trademark Infringement or Trademark Dilution claims. As we  know, neither qualifies.

This leaves one obvious reason only. Encroachment upon my First Amendment right by your client through intimidation and bullying tactics.  I suspect this is more personal than business oriented. I can’t imagine this person has that much time to police social media sites making such false accusations.

2.) Please kindly forward copies of all Cease and Desist letters or expressed Written Consent for the below sites, whom according to your client, “illegally” mention the use of her trademark name without consent.

a.) All Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Yellow Page review sites that mention Di Carlo’s Pizza.

b.) Bordas Law Blog

c.) Candace Lately

d.) The Food Guy

e.) America’s Best Pizza Honor Rolls

f.) Serious Eats

g.) Iowa Girl Eats

I could go on, but I think this will suffice for now.

3.) In regard to accusations that I “caused problems” with your client’s business and “tainted” the product and name, you may want to advise your client that their social media site shared my blog on 12/15/2013 and continue to share other followers posts’ in relation to the very article she claims is undermining her business.  Oopsie!

4.) Please advise your client to stop emailing me with continued threats and intimidation.

I am open to an amicable resolution for all parties involved. In the meantime, I will report the Trademark Bullying activity to Chilling Effects.

Please understand I hold no ill will toward Di Carlo’s Original Pizza. I love their pizza and I would choose a slice over my version in a heartbeat. I would walk into a shop right now and order up a slice, but I fear I’d have to put on a wig, hat, and sunglasses first.

Sincerely,

Sherri M.

* If commenting below, please only leave respectful comments and avoid disparaging remarks. Comments will be moderated and removed at my discretion. Some have been emailing me comments and I welcome those also. Thank you.

Buttercream Poinsettia Tutorial

No one ever accused me of being au courant (that’s French for up to date.) In fact, I’m what the French call “les incompetents.” Ummm yeah, I’m pretty sure I was even post dates when I was born.

So you can understand why this post makes perfect sense. Ya know, after the fact. However, if you’re enthusiastic and like to get a head start on things, (unlike myself) then you are so going to be the hit of next year’s cookie exchange.

This tutorial is for the buttercream poinsettias, but I have to share with you my other cookie creations.

Like these mittens and wreath sugar cookies.

…or these candy canes

But aside from my poinsettias, I really love how these old school christmas light bulbs came out. They’re adorable. Right?

Okay lets begin with the recipe for my sugar cookies. And the best vanilla buttercream. I can call it that, because that’s what I think it is.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Sugar Cookies & Best Vanilla Buttercream
Author: 
Recipe type: Sugar Cookies & Buttercream
 

Be the hit of the Christmas Cookie Exchange
Ingredients
  • Sugar Cookies
  • 1cup + 2 tablespoons butter slightly cool.
  • 2 cups sugar.
  • Cream butter and sugar in stand mixer.
  • Add 4 eggs room temp and
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla.
  • Mix w paddle attachment as above. Switch over to hook attachment. Add 2 tsp salt,
  • 2 tsp baking powder and
  • 4 cups flour.
  • Mix and then gradually add 1 to 2 cups flour more. Chill dough overnight or at least two hours. Bake at 330 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes or until bottoms lightly brown.
  • Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
  • 1 cup slightly cool butter
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Instructions
  1. Butter Cream Instructions:
  2. Whip butter in stand mixer with paddle attachment.
  3. Add 2 cups confectioners sugar
  4. Vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons whipping cream. Mix til well blended.
  5. Add remaining 2 cups confectioners sugar and last tablespoon whipping cream. Whip well.
  6. Divide and color. If icing thins out add more sugar. I use color gel/paste from Wilton.

Okay, lets get down the the real business of this particular blog. Buttercream Poinsettias!

TIP AND INSTRUCTIONS FOR FLOWER LEAVES:

RED PETALS: #366 Wilton leave tip
GREEN LEAVES: #352 Wilton leave tip
YELLOW CENTER: small ziploc bag with tip of corner cut off
INSTRUCTIONS:
Fill Piping bags with buttercream.
Begin with red buttercream piping 5 long petals from center of cookie. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Next, go in between the red and pipe green leaves.
Begin top layer. Go in between red petals directly above green leaves and pipe 5 shorter red poinsettia petals extending directly over green leaves.
To finish off pipe small yellow dots in center of petals.

Boom…or what the French say “Viola!” Your neighbors and friends will be WOWed with these cookies, I promise you!

 

My Review and Recipe Tribute To Di Carlo’s Original Pizza

Disclaimer: The trademarked brand name used on this Web site should not, in any way, be considered an endorsement of this Web site, or, of the recipe on this Web site, by the trademark holder. No affiliation exists between the trademark holder or the author. Trademark remains property of its respective holder and is used only to directly describe the product. The author acknowledges that all of the recipes on this Web site have been created and kitchen-tested independently of any food manufacturers mentioned here. Thank You.

While other food bloggers are posting glorious holiday recipes around the net and social media, I’m all over here like…”Hey, look at me, I’m posting a pizza recipe!” I can’t help it really.  If you are reading this, it’s because you probably live too far away from a Di Carlo’s Original Pizza and were craving the unmistakeable Ohio Valley pizza sooooooooo so badly.  They pretty much put Ohio Valley Pizza on the map. Literally, hands down, the best pizza I have ever eaten.

Have you ever noticed that people are territorial about their pizza no matter where they are from? Well, I’m from the Ohio Valley, and yes, Ohio Valley has their own Regional Style. Let me first describe what Ohio Valley Pizza is. What it isn’t is your typical run of the mill circular pizza pie. It’s square in shape, the uncooked toppings are usually added on top of the sauce out of the oven as it’s sliced and slightly cooled. The sauce is more of a stewed tomato type sauce, and it’s typically sold by the slice.

The Kitchen Prescription

If you are from the Ohio Valley, Wheeling, WV and Pittsburgh area, then you know this is one of the most highly coveted pizzas around. If you ate this pizza as a kid growing up, (like I did, in the Mingo Junction/Steubenville Ohio area.) and have since moved away, you will inevitably make time to stop in and order some when you go back home to visit just to get a taste of the goods again. Oh, and they didn’t deliver. At least not back in the day.

There’s no other pizza like it in the world.  If you have ever eaten this pizza, then you understand that you can’t even wait to get home to eat it. You tear into the box in the car. Pizza in one hand and other hand white knuckling the steering wheel. It might be worse than texting and driving. I don’t text and drive…and I plead the 5th on eating and driving. Oh, and one slice is never enough!

You can refer to more history on their About Page on the Original DiCarlo’s Pizza website regarding the first DiCarlo’s ever opened.

Primo Di Carlo was the son of Michael and Caroline Di Carlo, who immigrated to the United States from Italy. They owned and operated a grocery store in Steubenville Ohio. My birth town. They later expanded to a bakery as well. Primo decided he wanted to get in the pizza business when he returned from serving in the military during World War II. While stationed in Italy, he noticed that the locals were making a crispy bread,  topping it with tomato sauce and cheese and selling it. He believed he could make a similar concept succeed in his home town. He was right.

When he returned home from Italy, he and his brother Galdo adapted the Italian recipe. They opened their first pizza shop in Steubenville, Ohio in 1945 and sold pieces of their pizza ­ which they called “poor man’s cheesecake” ­ for 10 cents a slice. They basically put pizza on the map in the Steubenville, Ohio and the Wheeling, West Virginia area. When most people think of Ohio Valley Pizza the automatically think of Di Carlo’s.

Factoid: Crooner Dean Martin’s hometown was Steubenville, Ohio and it is said he was “gumbas” with the Di Carlo family.

The creamy stringiness of the cold provolone cheese is almost indescribable. Yes, you heard me right. I said cold provolone. It’s sprinkled over top of the cooling sauce out of the oven and layered with room temperature pepperoni. The steam of the box melts the cheese and warms the pepperoni to sheer perfection. I swear I can smell it just talking about it. The crispiness of the outside crust combined with the light & airy inside will have you hooked after the first bite. People have been known to fist fight over corner slices! I exaggerate, but you get my drift.

There really are no words. You simply have to try this pizza for yourself at least once in your life.

And if you can’t? Well, I feel sorry for you. So here is my very own tribute adapted recipe interpretation that is reminiscent of that distinct Ohio Vally pizza.

I called upon my memory of the flavors and adapted and substituted ingredients I thought would work for me to come close enough to give me that feeling of nostalgia and satisfy my insatiable cravings for this pizza. And I do mean insatiable! Please, puh-lease understand that I am not claiming this to be the original recipe. I have no idea what it is.  I’m sure that is under lock and key.

DOUGH:
1 packet active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon organic honey OR 3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
3 cups bread flour (can use all purpose, I prefer bread flour)
1 cup warm water
1 + 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon EVOO (plus more for rising dough and baking sheet)

*****Update 03/15/14- After making this several times and receiving comments and suggestions through emails, I have made some slight adaptions to the dough recipe and technique. For best results, I recommend that you make the dough ahead of time (if you’re able) and do a slow cold ferment in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Or you can let it stay out on the counter, and let it rise longer. After the first hour or so, punch the dough down and let it rise again for another couple of hours.

By making a slightly wetter dough and giving it either a cold rise or longer rise on the counter you will get an airier, tastier crust. I promise! Read all about a cold ferment here.

If you are pressed for time, the original way that I posted will do in a pinch. But depending on how well I plan, I will do either the cold ferment or longer rise on the counter.

FOR THE DOUGH:
In small ceramic or glass dish, add honey, yeast, and 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes to activate yeast. It should look like this after about 5 or 10 minutes. (* I prefer to use honey as it makes the dough much easier to work with, just make sure it’s unfiltered and uncooked honey, not that crap in the cutesy squeeze bear that they sell on the store shelves made of genetically modified high fructose corn syrup. Blech!)


Meanwhile in standmixer, add 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and salt.
When yeast is activated, pour into standmixer bowl and add remaining 1 cup warm water. (Note in the above video I mixed up the pictures, but you probably didn’t even notice.) It should look like this after you pour in the yeast mixture and remaining 3/4 cup warm water.

Mix on speed 2 with whisk attachment until frothy as above in video.

Switch over to hook attachment and add two more cups flour.

Mix on low speed until dough becomes smooth and elastic. About 8 to 10 minutes.


If dough is too wet and sticks to your fingers add flour in 1/2 tablespoon increments.
If dough is too dry, add more water in small increments until you get the consistency you see in the video above.  Smooth and elastic.

In a glass or ceramic bowl coat bottom and sides with EVOO.
Place dough ball in and coat well in the oil.

Cover with plastic wrap and clean towel and set in warm area free of drafts.
Let dough rise for about an hour.

The sauce is really simple. It’s made with very few ingredients. I did try to keep it as simple as possible, but it tasted slightly bland, so I did add a little salt and pepper and a bit of organic brown sugar to slightly cut some of the acidity.

*I have since adapted to using Imported whole San Marzano D.O.P. Certified tomatoes. I blend the tomatoes in a food processor. A blender will work also. You can find whole San Marzano imported tomatoes at your local super market. The idea behind the whole tomatoes is that the integrity is preserved and this draws out more flavor in your sauce.

Once I opened up a can and tasted the tomatoes, I knew I had found THE ONE! They make all the difference.

TOMATO SAUCE:

Two 28 oz. cans of imported italian San Marzano D.O.P. certified tomatoes
(Using whole tomatoes preserves the integrity of the tomato and draws out more flavor.)
1.5 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons of oregano (can add more to liking)
2 teaspoons fresh chopped or dried basil (optional)
1 Tablespoon of chopped yellow onion
2 teaspoons sweet green pepper finely chopped (you may use more if you wish)
1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped garlic
2 tablespoons brown sugar or other sweetener (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

The longer you let the sauce simmer the more flavorful. I did let my sauce cook down for about a couple of hours, but I couldn’t wait anymore and made a pizza. I had plenty left, so I let that finish cooking for a full four hours. I’ll freeze it for my next craving. Which I’m sure will be very soon!

In a blender or food processor, process the tomatoes to your desired consistency. Set aside. In a medium pot on medium heat add your extra virgin olive oil. When a piece of onion sizzles in the hot oil, add the rest of the onion, pepper, and garlic. Sweat out the flavors for about 4 minutes. Add processed tomatoes, basil, oregano, and brown sugar. (I use fresh basil and oregano when available. I also use organic brown sugar.) Salt and pepper to taste. *Red pepper flakes are optional if you prefer a little spice. Now let your sauce cook down.  An hour should be fine, but the longer it cooks, the more flavorful.

You can prepare your sauce the night before if you wish, which is usually what I do. I have plenty left over and I freeze it for the next batch.

While the sauce is cooking slice up your provolone cheese. Unless you can find it shredded. I could not. Take a stack of provolone slices and slice it as thin as you can with a sharp knife.

Separate the slices of cheese with your fingers as best you can until nearly all the cheese is separated and looks like below. Place in ziploc bag and keep chilled.

When your dough has finally doubled in size after about an hour. Punch it down as in the above video. I only used about 3/4 of my dough. You don’t want it too thick. I’ll use the remaining dough for fresh dinner rolls or a mini stuffed cheesy garlic bread!

ASSEMBLY:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees an hour before cooking. If you have a baking stone place it in the oven to preheat with oven. I place my baking pan on top of the stone to cook more evenly. If not, don’t freight. Your dough will still cook.

Lightly oil the bottom of your baking pan with EVOO. I used a 15 x 10 baking sheet and about 3/4 of my dough. If your pan is bigger use more dough. Stretch the dough out by hand to the edges of the pan. You want a very thin dough. Don’t roll the dough. You don’t want to ruin the integrity or overwork it. Be patient and gentle with it.

Lightly brush top of dough with EVOO. Lightly, and I mean lightly spread a thin layer of sauce over the dough leaving a crust border. Place in oven for about 6-10 minutes or until dough starts to lightly brown. Keep a close eye on it.
Remove and ladle more tomato more sauce on generously. Sprinkle a small amount of shredded provolone cheese over top the sauce. This keeps the moisture in so the crust doesn’t dry out as it’s baking.

Place back in oven and bake until edges and bottom are golden brown. Keep a close eye that it doesn’t burn. *If edges are browning more than bottom place pan on bottom rack and keep a very close eye on.

Remove from oven when crispy and golden brown. The bottom should look like this.

Immediately layer with lots of cold provolone cheese, and a little mozzarella. This balances out the flavor.

I believe they only use Provolone cheese, (not 100% sure about that) so feel free to stick to that. I think it gets a little too greasy when it melts, so I use a light topping (about 1/4 cup) of mozzarella cheese before putting on the room temperature pepperoni.

Take note of the golden brown thin crispy crust, yet airy, chewy interior.

The bottom is crispy and brown.

One bite of this pizza and it just might transport you back to your childhood memories or first ever experience of this pizza. At least it did for me.

This may never be THE Original DiCarlo’s Pizza that I remember, but it darn sure comes close enough for me to satisfy that nagging craving for the best pizza ever made. And for that, I Salute you, Mr. DiCarlo, for putting the best pizza known to man on the W.V.  and Ohio Valley map! Now, Mangia Mangia!

Enjoy. This pizza is also great reheated. Reheat in preheated 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes.

 

3.9 from 9 reviews

My Review and Recipe Tribute To Di Carlo’s Original Pizza
Author: 
Recipe type: Pizza
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
 

Nothing will ever beat out the Original DiCarlo’s Pizza, but this is darned close enough for me.
Ingredients
  • TOMATO SAUCE:
  • Two 28 oz. cans of imported italian San Marzano D.O.P. certified tomatoes
  • (Using whole tomatoes preserves the integrity of the tomato and draws out more flavor.)
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano (can add more to liking)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped or dried basil
  • 1 Tablespoon of chopped yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons sweet green pepper finely chopped (may use more if you wish)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh chopped garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (*optional- you can also use a little or as much as you want.)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • DOUGH:
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon organic honey OR 3 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 3 cups bread flour (can use all purpose, I prefer bread flour)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 + ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon EVOO (plus more for rising dough and baking sheet)
  • TOPPINGS:
  • Fresh shredded provolone cheese (chilled)
  • You can also use a ¼ cup mozzarella & provolone mix if you desire.
  • Pepperoni (room temp is best.)

Instructions
  1. FOR THE SAUCE:
  2. In saucepan over medium high heat put in EVOO. When hot, add onion, peppers and garlic and sweat until the onions are translucent. About a couple of minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add processed tomatoes. Add remaining ingredients and salt & pepper to taste. Let cook down for four hours to get full flavor.
  4. FOR THE DOUGH:
  5. In small glass dish, add yeast, sugar, and ¼ cup warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes to activate yeast.
  6. Meanwhile in standmixer, add 1 cup flour, EVOO, and salt.
  7. When yeast is activated, pour into standmixer bowl and add remaining 1 cup warm water.
  8. Mix on speed 2 with whisk attachment until frothy.
  9. Switch over to hook attachment and add two more cups flour.
  10. Mix on low speed until dough becomes smooth and elastic. About 10 minutes.
  11. If dough is too wet and stretchy add remaining flour in small increments.
  12. If dough is too dry, add more water in small increments until you get the consistency you want. Smooth and elastic.
  13. In a glass or ceramic bowl coat bottom and side with EVOO.
  14. Place dough ball in and coat well in the oil.
  15. Cover with plastic wrap and clean towel and set in warm area free of drafts.
  16. Let dough rise for about an hour.
  17. ASSEMBLY:
  18. Preheat oven to 475 degrees an hour before cooking. If you have a baking stone place it in the oven to preheat with oven. I place my baking pan on top to cook more evenly. If not, don’t freight. Your dough will still cook. Lightly oil the bottom of your baking pan with EVOO. Stretch the dough out by hand to the edges of the pan. You want a thin dough. Lightly brush top of dough with EVOO and place in oven for about 6-10 minutes or until dough starts to lightly brown. Keep a close eye on it.
  19. Remove and ladle tomato sauce on generously leaving a small amount of crust uncovered. Sprinkle a small amount of shredded provolone cheese over top the sauce. Place back in oven and bake until edges and bottom are golden brown. Keep a close eye that it doesn’t burn. *If edges are browning more than bottom place pan on bottom rack and keep a very close eye on.
  20. Remove from oven when crispy and golden brown and immediately layer with lots of cold provolone cheese, a little mozzarella, and pepperoni. I lightly cover mine with a clean towel to help melt the cheese before cutting.
  21. Enjoy. This pizza is also great reheated. Reheat in preheated 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes.

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