Sunday, May 31, 2015

Making Homemade Pizza - What We've Learned

Guys - we finally got our pizza to be ROUND! Such a big accomplishment if you've ever made and rolled out your own dough. We've come a long way -> Click here to check out our pizza step by step.

Since my first post, our pizza game has definitely improved - technique, taste, crispness of crust, cheese to sauce ratio, etc. Here's some of the changes we made that seemed to work for the better (written by my husband and me!)

  • We let the dough mix in the KitchenAid mixer LONGER. The key is when the dough actually starts to climb up the dough hook.
  • After letting the dough rest in the mixer for 2 minutes, we did another 30 seconds in the mixer to make sure the dough really came together.
  • Make sure you take the time to really knead the dough well by hand. It should be a smooth ball with no cracks. We think that this batch of dough was the best we've made so far, and may have contributed to our pizza being nice and round
  • As I said in my last post - experimenting with different toppings is fun! This time, we made a new creation - buffalo chicken pizza! We cooked chicken breast in a grill pan and diced it really small. We used Frank's Hot Sauce as our buffalo base, and smoked mozzarella for our cheese. It was a fun alternative to plain pizza!
  • Here's the biggest change we made - we cooked our pizza on the grill vs. in the oven. We used the same pizza stone as last time. My dad is somewhat of a pizza master (he's been making it at home for years and loves having friends and family over for pizza parties) and he exclusively cooks his pizza on the grill as well. We totally get why. The crust gets so crisp - something that was difficult to achieve in the oven. The grill also cooks/melts the toppings perfectly without burning the bottom.
  • Our last tip is - have fun!! Take a day on the weekend that's not busy so you can relax and enjoy what you're doing. The end product is completely worth it!
My dad making his famous pizza! He always cuts up all his cheese and toppings beforehand to make it easier. He's experimented with so many different recipes and toppings - everything from sausage and peppers to ham and pineapple. We leaned a lot of pizza skills from him!

Thanks for reading guys! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Beautiful Trip - the Long Island Vineyards

Who says you have to hop on a plane to travel somewhere cool? We live in NJ, but my husband is from Long Island. I fell in love with the vineyards out there when we first started dating. The endless rows of grape vines get me every time. The company is always great. This year and last year we had absolutely gorgeous weather. And hey, WINE!!!

Here are a collection of photos from our trip over MDW. Below is also a list of my favorite vineyards in Long Island, and a little about each. Enjoy!

I mean seriously?! It doesn't get much better than this!
We were so lucky to have great weather!

My husband and I on this gorgeous day!
I call this my Betty Draper from Mad Men look haha

My brother and I!
This was at Sparkling Pointe vineyard.

Sparkling Pointe is awesome. Sparkling wines only!
The owners of this place are obsessed with Brazil - as am I.
The whole place is decked out in paintings and decor of Brazil.

 The inside of Sparkling Pointe. Not too shabby.

Our vineyards crew! Same as last year.
Always a great time with them!

Hanging out at Jamesport vineyard.
This was my first time there - I liked the rustic feel of this place.

I thought these were so pretty! 
We stopped for some fresh corn to bring home for our BBQ, and came across these fresh honey sticks.

The wine grape chart. Intense!!


Another one of me and the hubs.
Not a bad backdrop.

 Here's us at Duckwalk vineyard. Another one of my favorites!
We get a bottle of wine from here each time we visit (or 2...)

 Along our wine journey, we also visited Greenport Harbor Brewery!
It didn't hurt switching it up a little bit. 
This place was really cute - and you got to keep the little tasting glass!

 We all thought this giant roll of paper was a cool way to display the beer menu

 They had these neat tables made of kegs and wood blocks!

 Lenz vineyard is wonderful. We get wine shipped from here to our house.
A coworker suggested we visit, and it totally made sense why.
It's almost like Christmas when this package arrives at our doorstep!
Also - whoever does this chalk art is really awesome.

 This was my first time at Mattebella vineyards.
The name came from the owners' 2 children - Matthew and Isabella.
Their faces are even on the wine labels, even though the photo was taken about 10 years ago!

 My brother and his girlfriend, Steph! Drinking wine all day is hard work.

Favorites/Vineyards of Note:

• Sparkling Pointe – all champagne. Really pretty inside and big outdoor area, as seen in the photos above!

• Duckwalk North – great wine. We get bottles from here every time we go. More laid back vs. fancy. The employees are great and very knowledgeable about the wine.

• Lenz – the best wine by far in my opinion. This is where we get the wine shipments from every quarter. Smaller vineyard/more rustic but really cute. People bring picnics and stuff here.

• Martha Clara – great atmosphere. Our friend got married here – it was gorgeous.

• Raphael – really fancy and pretty. They have weddings and parties there.

• Vineyard 48 – this is like a party vineyard. Lots of young people, music, big outdoor space.

 Thanks for reading! Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mini Dessert Inspiration - Mini Strawberry Shortcakes!

I could not take my eyes off of this little treat - how adorable is it?! We went to brunch for Mother's Day to the Chandelier Restaurant in Bayonne, NJ. They had a beautiful spread of food, but I have to say the dessert bar was the most impressive. Aside from these cutesy strawberry shortcakes, they had an ice cream bar, various cakes, cupcakes, Jello, and even a chocolate fountain. Talk about eye candy!

I've always loved mini cupcakes - great for parties or large groups, people don't feel like they are eating "too much," pop one in your mouth and go. This little shortcake made me want to experiment with different mini cakes. To be continued!

Here are some more fun photos from brunch!

 My beautiful little cousin Laura getting her chocolate fountain fix!
Love this kid.

 Chocolate. Fountain. 
What is more awesome than one of this at brunch? Besides alcohol...

 Jello for daysssssssssss

The 4 of us! We are the best.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Snickers Popcorn

Hi friends! I made this pretty cool treat for our company's bake sale - Snickers popcorn! Our annual bake sale is usually overrun with tons of cupcakes, so I wanted to try something different this year. It was a huge hit! All of my bags sold out! I tried to dress up the brown bags a bit - I got the hearts from Michael's craft store, and the popcorn tags I printed out from Pinterest. Now to the most important part - the popcorn!

This is what my kitchen counter looked like ha! Here is how to make your own, it's pretty simple:

Serves 10 people
2 bags of popcorn (I used bagged popcorn that had a small amount of salt and butter)
2 cups of chocolate chips or candy melts
10 fun sized Snickers bars
Parchment paper
Large bowl
Rubber spatula

  • Make popcorn using your favorite method - microwave or stove top. 
  • While popcorn is poppin, cut your snickers bars into small pieces. You want them to be small enough to melt easily. 
  • Empty popcorn into a large mixing bowl. I split mine up in two bowls to make it a little more manageable. 
  • Melt the chocolate chips or candy melts in the microwave until it's nice and smooth. We found that the more melted it is, the easier it is to work with. 
  • Pour melted chocolate and dump snickers pieces into the popcorn bowl and use a spatula to combine. Mix until well coated. 
  • Spread your mixture onto parchment paper to dry. Try to separate the bigger pieces that are clumped together with your spatula or a knife. 
  • Let dry for about 45 minutes to an hour on parchment paper.
  • If you are eating them the same day, shove them in your mouth. If you are making them ahead of time for a party or something, refrigerate them. 
Thanks for reading!