So…..it’s still freezing here.

I wish I was exaggerating, but our entire yard (and driveway) is a huge slab of ice. All the nice snow we got last week was covered with more snow/sleet/freezing rain this past Saturday, and then completely froze overnight, leaving us with an ice block outside.

You know it’s bad when your dog is sliding around and can’t find a place to go to the bathroom.

I was hoping the worst of winter would be behind us, but it doesn’t seem like it. I think there’s more snow in the forecast for this week, and the ice layer on our driveway is so thick that it’ll probably be there until April.

And that means it’s the perfect time for soup!

brown butter potato soup

I am really, really tired of this weather, so getting excited about food is one of the few things getting me through right now.

It was so cold last week that my office at work never got about 55/60 degrees WITH the heat on AND two space heaters going! When it’s too cold to do anything outside, a great pot of potato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich can easily be one of the best parts of the day.

brown butter potato soup

The best way to make a creamy potato soup even better? Start it with some brown butter. And then top it with spicy candied bacon.

The veggies are cooked in a mix of brown butter and olive oil, adding a touch of toasty/toffee-like flavor to the soup, and the cayenne + brown sugar on the bacon is just the right amount of sweet and spicy for the savory soup.

If you’re like us right now – stuck inside because it’s cold and dark and icy – this soup is the perfect meal to have simmering on the stove. I was really sad when we finished this off. I think it’s going on the menu again later this week!

brown butter potato soup

Brown Butter Potato Soup with Spicy Candied Bacon

Not all potato soups are created equal. I love a big pot of creamy potato soup, and this batch takes it to the next level. The added depth from the brown butter in the soup base and the sweet & spicy bacon on top are just what you need for a little twist on your typical potato soup.

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 6 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 cups broth
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Lay the bacon on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the bacon with the brown sugar and cayenne pepper.
  3. Bake the bacon for 12-15 minutes until crisp. Remove from oven and let cool while the soup cooks.
  4. While the bacon is cooking, heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Let the butter melt and continue to cook until the butter starts to brown.
  5. Once the butter is golden and smells toasty, add in the olive oil, onion, carrots, and celery. Cook 3-4 minutes, then add the diced potatoes. Cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are starting to get tender.
  7. Mix the flour and milk together until smooth and pour into the soup. Cook another 7-10 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the soup is starting to thicken.
  8. Either pour most of the soup into a blender or use an immersion blender to puree the majority of the soup.
  9. Pour in the cream, salt, pepper, and fresh parsley and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add more salt + pepper, if needed, to taste.
  10. Serve with the crumbled candied bacon.

strawberry yogurt bites

This will definitely go into the bucket of “basically so easy that you don’t really need a recipe” BUT these little bites turned out SO delicious that I couldn’t wait to share!

strawberry yogurt bites

I love making dessert. I love having dessert. I love having other people make me dessert. And some times, I love digging into a really time consuming dish and lengthy recipe that takes work because you not only end up with something to eat, you have a sense of accomplishment.

But other times, you need something quick. Easy. Something you could probably do in your sleep. And those desserts need to be just as tasty! Not everything needs to take as long to make as croissants, but you should always – always – be happy when eating dessert, no matter how much work it takes.

strawberry yogurt bites

These little strawberry bites are right up my alley for busy weeknights or an impromptu get together or for a romantic night in.

petite creme

My newest favorite yogurt is Stonyfield Petite Crème – have you tried it? It’s almost like a cross between greek yogurt and crème fraiche. Super silky, hardly tangy, and not completely fat free (thank goodness – I’m also on a whole milk yogurt kick right now, and I have no plans of getting off that train). You can tell that it’s still yogurt, but it’s not so tart that it makes you pucker, which makes it perfect for using in desserts!

You don’t have to sweeten it as much (or at all) to get a good balance in the dish, and the tiny bit of tartness is perfect with sweet strawberries and semi-sweet chocolate.

strawberry yogurt bites

Strawberry Yogurt Bites

These little bites are the perfect end to a meal - or great as an afternoon snack! They're not too sweet, and they're still good for you, but it's always nice to have a little chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 strawberries
  • 1 container Stonyfield Vive La Vanilla Petite Creme yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Cut the tops and greens off each strawberry, then carefully cut out the majority of the core. Also, slice the bottom of the strawberry off so it can stand up on a plate.
  2. Scoop spoonfuls of the vanilla petite creme into half of the strawberries.
  3. Stir the cocoa powder into the rest of the petite creme and stir together.
  4. Fill the rest of the strawberries with the cocoa-mixed yogurt.
  5. Top with chocolate chips and serve.

I am part of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club and love to spread the word about their products! This post is not sponsored, although I did receive yogurt to try/use. All opinions/recipes are my own, as always. Thanks for supporting brands that support us!

pepperoni stromboli

Now that we’ve talked about making pizza at home, it’s time to roll it up and make a stromboli.

My first experiences with stromboli all happened at a family friend’s house when I was in high school. A typical dinner at their place – for all us youth group kids – was some of Mr. Willwerth’s stromboli and Mrs. Willwerth’s homemade ice cream. Her cinnamon was my all time favorite, but really – stromboli and homemade ice cream? It’s the perfect meal.

pepperoni stromboli

Mr. Willwerth let us help out with the stromboli if we were there in time, so I had a few chances to layer everything and roll up the dough before popping it in the oven.

But it was years before I ever tried making one on my own, as an adult. It took me a while to feel like I had the dough-making down before I wanted to try anything other than just a regular pizza. But I am so glad I finally started making these.

red star platinum yeast

If you love pizza, you’ll love stromboli. And vice versa. It’s the same concept, just folder together and baked instead of having everything on TOP of the dough. Stromboli is also a little easier to eat (smaller pieces) and makes for great party food! It’s easy to prep and doesn’t take long to bake, either, making it perfect for busy weeknights.

I use the same dough recipe that I use for my pizza, which makes it even easier! I don’t have to keep track of fourteen different pizza dough-ish recipes – this one is basically all purpose. And I pretty much only use Red Star Platinum Yeast now. It has taken over my pantry – I don’t want anything else! It’s the most reliable yeast I’ve tried in years, so it’s all I use.

pepperoni stromboli

I’m pretty sure my stromboli isn’t totally traditional because I usually put a little bit of sauce IN the stromboli, but you can make it however you want!

We like ours with a smear of sauce on the entire piece of dough, topped with shredded mozzarella and pepperoni, rolled up, and topped with some egg wash and Italian herbs. Plus more sauce for dipping when it’s done.

pepperoni stromboli

Again – same with the homemade pizza tips – the most important things for an awesome stromboli?

  • Homemade dough
  • Freshly shredded cheese (no pre-shredded!)
  • Higher baking temperature for the first part of baking, to help get the golden crust
  • Patience before slicing it up. It stays hot for a long time – no need to ruin it by slicing it too quickly OR burning your mouth!

pepperoni stromboli

Happy baking!

Pepperoni Stromboli

Scared of baking? Start with this stromboli! The dough does most of the work for you during the day, so all you have to do is roll it out, top it, fold it back up, and bake!

Ingredients:

Dough:

Stromboli:

  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 10 large sandwich slices or 20 small pizza slices of pepperoni
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the water, salt, and yeast. Stir in the flour until everything is incorporated. Knead a few times in the bowl with your hands, to make sure most of the flour is mixed in. Cover the bowl and let the dough sit 1-2 hours (or longer!) until doubled.*I often mix this up before work and let it sit on the counter all day.
  2. Preheat oven to 475 degrees and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Roll out your dough into a large rectangle, about the length of your baking sheet.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix the tomatoes with the tablespoon of Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
  5. Spread about 1/4 cup of the sauce on the dough.
  6. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the sauce, then top with the pepperoni.
  7. Fold the edges of the dough over, toward the center. Folding lengthwise, take the top 1/3 of the dough and bring it over to cover the center of the dough. Repeat with the other side, almost like you're folding a letter.
  8. Place the stromboli seam side down on the parchment paper.
  9. Using a sharp knife, slice slits in the dough, about every 1-2 inches. Brush the dough with the beaten egg and then sprinkle with the teaspoon of Italian seasoning.
  10. Bake at 475 for 10 minutes.
  11. Lower the heat to 375 and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the dough is set and golden.
  12. Let the stromboli sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

This post is sponsored by Red Star Yeast – all opinions and recipes are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting brands that support us! Follow them on Facebook or Instagram for more great recipes!

cooking 101: homemade pizza

Welcome to Cooking 101!

pepperoni pizza

I’ve decided to start a new series here on the blog, highlighting tips and tricks that I wish I had known when I first started cooking 8 years ago. Some posts will have recipes, some might not.

I mostly just want these Cooking 101 posts to be helpful (for you and for me!). When I first stepped into the kitchen, there was SO much I didn’t know. And I am still a complete novice some days, but I’ve definitely learned some things over the years.

dough

But I don’t want to just be giving out tips and tricks – I want you to share yours, too! Maybe your approach for a certain dish or food is the complete opposite of how I work. Tell me about it! Anything that helps in the kitchen is always good to know, especially if it saves time and the amount of dirty dishes.

To start, I thought it would be good to talk about making pizza at home.