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Quick Mini Pizza Appetizers with Arugula, Peppers, and Prosciutto

Happy 2012!

Well… almost.

Can you believe its already been another year? I keep accidentally typing 2010 for some reason. I’m a little behind. I literally almost sent out a resume yesterday that said December 2010. And the first line under my ‘skill’ section says “detail oriented…”

I’m excited for New Years Eve though! As a kid we’d always work it up and make NYE into a huge deal. We’d all sneak like a half of beer from our parents, buy some cheap party hats… and then realize that nobody’s parents wanted to host a bunch of teenagers. But not anymore! O the perks of being older and slightly more mature. A bunch of us are renting a trolley this year and going all over Chicago with a last stop at Navy Pier for the fireworks.

So with all of the fun festivities going on this weekend who wants to waste time slaving in the kitchen… again. Wasn’t it just Christmas??

That’s why these Mini Pizzas are awesome for a New Years appetizer. They’re super easy to make and only need just a few common ingredients.

I swear you can do these pizzas in basically 4 steps. And the first one involves cracking open a can.

I used store bought pizza dough to cut some serious time (even though I love making homemade dough). But you can definitely make your own if you get ambitious. Nothing beats homemade dough but in a pinch store bought is a great alternative.

*Note– I like to use San Marzano tomatoes for my sauce, they really do make a huge difference with the flavor. You can find these at pretty much any grocery store.

Mini Pizzas with Arugula, Roasted Pepper, and Prosciutto

Makes 15 mini pizzas
5 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. pizza dough, preferably whole wheat, thawed if frozen
1 14-1/2-oz. can whole tomatoes, drained (preferably San Marzano)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 large clove garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups lightly packed arugula, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced roasted red peppers (rinsed if jarred)
1-1/2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, cut into thin strips (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup grated part-skim mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


Preheat oven to 475 degrees and move racks to the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets with 2 teaspoons oil.

1. Lightly coat a large bowl with 1 tsp. of the oil. Place dough in the bowl, cover loosely, and let sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes.

2. Put the tomatoes, oregano, garlic, 2 tsp. of the oil, and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper in a food processor; pulse to make a chunky sauce.

3. Divide the dough into quarters. Divide each quarter into 3 equal parts; you’ll have twelve 1-oz. pieces of dough. (Alternatively, use a scale to divide the dough.) Shape each piece of dough into a 3-inch round and put on the baking sheets.

4. Spread about 1 Tbs. of the sauce over each dough round, leaving a little border around the edge for the crust. Top each with arugula, then some strips of pepper and prosciutto. Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmigiano on top.

*Goat Cheese and Pesto Variation: substitute store bought pesto, goat cheese, and jarred peppers (shown in picture below)

5. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is browned, 12 to 14 minutes, swapping the pans’ positions about halfway through for even baking. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes (if using) and serve.

Calories: 140, Fat: 5 grams

Adapted from Fine Cooking, pizza sauce recipe by Ellie Krieger

Nutella Swirl Poundcake

I LOVE Nutella. Nutella cookies, Nutella cake, Nutella frosting, Nutella ice-cream, Nutella on toast, Nutella anything!

And to think… somehow I survived without ever experiencing this stuff until my junior year of college.

That year I was lucky enough to get to study abroad in Rome, Italy. It was an absolutely amazing trip (and not a bad change of scenery from the cornfields at the University of Illinois?)

Nutella was absolutely EVERYWHERE in Rome. It was like their peanut butter. Every bakeshop had Nutella cookies; gelaterias had Nutella gelato, and every sidewalk vendor, grocery store or vending machine had jars upon jars of the stuff.

Nutella Cookies!

You know how we have those little cheese and breadstick snack packs in the states? The kind your mom would give you as a kid to go to school with.. and then you’d trade for a bag of chips or oreos? Well they had cookie sticks with NUTELLA. Genius! And why are Italians so skinny again?

So now every time I see a jar of Nutella I always think of Italy. I’ve been back a couple times now and I swear it gets more beautiful every time. If everyone could just live like they were in Italy and wake up next to ancient buildings and eat homemade pasta and go to work at 10 in the morning the world would be a much happier place.

Here’s a couple of my favorite pictures I took while over there!

Little house in a town outside Pescara

Cinque Terre

Pretty buildings on one of the Five Cities

This one’s so small because we took it with an iPhone. I got to take a cooking class with Diane Seed, a really amazing Italian chef. We made the best pesto pasta yumm

Eating Nutella Gelato in Rome!

The Coliseum at Night

These awesome guitarists playing outside a church in Sienna

My mom, dad and I with our friends who live in Pescara

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake


4 large eggs at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 sticks butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 jar (13 ounces) Nutella


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan and dust with flour.

2. Combine eggs and vanilla in a small bowl and lightly beat. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

3. Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl at medium-high sped until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides.

5. Turn the mixer on low speed and add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. After the last addition mix for 30 seconds on medium speed.

6. Scrape 1/3 of the batter into the bottom of the pan and smooth with a spatula. Spread 1/2 the jar of Nutella over the batter and smooth with a clean spatula. Scrape another 1/3 of the batter on top. Scrape the remaining Nutella on top and smooth. Spread the remaining batter over the Nutella and smooth. Run a butter knife blade through the batter to create marbling. Do not over mix.

7. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Store in a cake stand or wrap in plastic at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnuts

Please meet the chocolate doughnut….

Hot, fresh, cakey, crunchy… smothered in chocolatey goodness…..

And the cinnamon sugar doughnut… rolled and dunked in sweet sugar and spicy cinnamon..

Or how about the classic white iced doughnut?

Dipped in smooth white icing and sprinkled in sparkling sugar.

Are you drooling yet?

I’ve got one hand in the container with all the doughnuts I just made and the other on the keyboard. My keyboard’s a mess.

This was my first go at making doughnuts and they turned out DELICIOUS. I found the recipe in the new Baked Explorations bake book. I slightly modified the proportions and the frosting to keep some calorie counts in check and they are  ridiculously DELICIOUS. Did I already say that?

Its hard to beat a fresh homemade doughnut. The rich cakey doughnut inside has hints of warm cinnamon and nutmeg. Its this irresistibly addictive surprise inside the crunchy doughnut outside. The recipe also includes three different toppings too, so pick your favorite or make all three (I couldn’t resist!)

I don’t even want to clutter this post with more of me rambling. I’m letting the doughnuts do the talking.

Here’s the recipe!

Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnuts- Three Ways


For the Doughnut:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 large eggs

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled.

Vegetable oil for frying

For the Chocolate Frosting:

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Sprinkles to decorate

For the White Icing:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup 2% milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Cinnamon Sugar:

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cinnamon


1. Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and another with paper towels.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

3. In another bowl whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream until combined. Add the melted butter and whisk again.

4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the egg mixture into the center. Gently fold the flour into the liquid until the mixture forms a sticky dough.

5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Pat the dough out until it is about 1/2 inch thick.

5. Use two round cutters (2 1/2 inch and 1 inch). Dip the larger cutter in flour and press rounds. Dip the smaller cutter in flour and cut out the center of the rounds. Arrange the donuts and donut holes onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Continue to pat together the remaining scraps and repeat cutting as many donuts as possible ( I got about 15). Chill the dough while you heat the oil.

6.  Pour oil into a deep skillet until it is about 1 – 1 1/2 inch deep. Slowly heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 165-17o degrees.

7. Make the frosting while the oil heats.

Chocolate Frosting:

Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the heavy cream until almost boiling and pour over chocolate. Let sit for a minute. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter.

White Icing:

In a medium bowl whisk the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth.

Cinnamon Sugar:

Combine cinnamon and sugar.

To Fry the Doughnuts:

1. Once the oil reaches temperature, gently place the doughnuts into the hot oil. Be sure to only fry about three at time so you don’t over crowd the pot. Once they have browned on one side, carefully flip them over int he oil. These should take about 2-3 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the paper towel lined baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the donuts and the donut holes. The donut holes will take less time, about 1 minute per side. Be careful to keep the oil temperature even. Adjust the burner to keep temperature between 165-170 degrees.

Assemble Doughnuts:

Once you have finished frying the doughnuts, quickly dip them in whichever toppings you choose. Serve warm and enjoy!

Mini Pecan Sticky Buns and Pumpkin Spice Cookies

I have been in a sugar coma since about 3 o’clock yesterday. Actually I don’t even know if you can call it a sugar coma. Its more like sugar dependency. These Spiced Pumpkin Cookies and Mini Pecan Sticky Buns are so good that my body is rejecting all other forms of food. Banana with breakfast? You mean banana bread right? Or oatmeal? But what about oatmeal cookies…..

Worth it. I’ll break the cycle when I feel like it. Probably never.

These treats are two FABULOUS new recipes from two new FABULOUS cookbooks. I just bought Pretty Delicious, by Candice Kumai and Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunch Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies, by Alice Medrich last week. I couldn’t decide which cookbook to try first so I decided to experiment with both.

It was one of those perfect recipe days when new recipes work out PERFECTLY. I usually at least burn something or forget salt or something else dumb. But I didn’t! Not this time! These are delicious holiday recipes. The mini sticky buns are great for get-togethers. They’re bite sized, travel well, and so easy to make. Perfect with a glass of wine.

I love the pumpkin cookies because I don’t tolerate dairy so well (more on that later, but not too much. Don’t worry) and they don’t have cream or milk, only a little butter and they are sooooo yummy. The mix of spice is absolutely perfect between the chewy cookie and rich frosting.


Spiced Pumpkin Cookies (From Pretty Delicious by Candice Kumai)


2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I used 1/8 ground)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla


2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon canned unsweetened pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

Preheated oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

1. whisk flour through salt in a medium bowl and set aside

2. Beat brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy (1 1/2 min). Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and beat to combine.

3. Add four mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Chill for 15 minutes.

4. Using a tablespoon measure, roll dough into balls and space 1 inch apart. Slightly flatten balls and bake for 15 minutes or until edges are firm but center is still soft. Cool for 10 min on pan, then transfer to wire rack.


Sift confectioners’ sugar into medium bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cookies and let harden for at least 10 minutes before serving. Yields 24 cookies.

Nutrition (per cookie): 120 calories, 3 grams fat

Mini Pecan Sticky Buns (From Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich)


24 pecan halves

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 salt, plus additional for sprinkling

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease mini muffin tins.

1. Place a pecan half in each cup, top side down. Combine flour, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl and whisk. Make a well in the center and pour in cream. Using a rubber spatula fold in the flour mixture until a soft dough is formed. Do not over mix or your dough will be tough. Let rest for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile mix the sugar with the cinnamon.

2. On a lightly floured surface, with a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 12 x7 inch rectangle and 1/4 inch thick. Spread the dough with the soft butter and prickle with a pinch of salt and the brown sugar. Starting at the short end, tightly roll the dough. Gently stretch the dough to lengthen and cut into 24 equal pieces. Place each piece in a muffin tin, cut side up.

3. Bake for 12-15 min or until well browned, rotating pans halfway through the baking time. Immediately turn the cookies onto a sheet of parchment on a heatproof surface. Serve the same day.

(You can omit the pecans and increase the cinnamon to 1 teaspoon to make Cinna-Minis. You can also add raisins, chocolate chips, or anything else you think would be a yummy combo! These are very easy to tailor to your individual taste)

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