Flaky Pizza Crust

Flaky Pizza Crust

For the crust:
2/3 cup warm water
4 ounces (½ cup) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and dusting pizza
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon instant yeast

I actually use a bread machine to make this dough. I place the ingredients in the basket in the order they are listed. Hit dough program and let it do all the work. But if you don’t have a bread machine:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the cubed, chilled butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it is mostly incorporated and looks like coarse sand. In a large measuring cup or small bowl, combine the warm water and instant yeast. Add to the flour mixture and, using a fork, combine until the mixture is evenly moistened. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute or so until the dough comes together and is smooth. Divide the dough in two, shape into balls, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let rest for about 30 minutes.

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2.Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (or as hot as your oven will get). If using a pizza stone, preheat it along with the oven. If not using a pizza stone, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

3. In my opinion, the key to rolling out a good pizza dough is cornmeal. If you don’t have any on hand, flour will work.  Sprinkle excess cornmeal on counter.  Work dough into circle, being sure not to make any one portion too thin.  Pinch edges up to create a crust.

4. Place pizza dough in oven for about 5-7 minutes. This cooks the bottom of the pizza so it isn’t so soggy.

5. Carefully remove from oven. Top with whatever your heart desires!

6. Return to oven and cook for 8 minutes.  Rotate pizza and cook for another 8 minutes. (times may vary, keep an eye on your pizza)



Southwestern Chimichanga

We were in the mood for some “Mexican” food but Fresno being way too hot in the summer to turn the oven on, I opted for an alternative. A little less healthy, but still all the yumminess. Be aware that you need to place the Chimichangas in the freezer for about an hour prior to cooking! 

I must admit that this is going to be a pretty bad recipe in terms of specifics.  I typically am one to follow a recipe to a “T,” but when it comes to things like this, I don’t really have a recipe, I go by my eye and ease of preparedness.  I started off with a can of black beans. That is pretty much all that I have a measurement on. (because what are you going to do with a half a can of black beans?) I then put the other ingredients in by how much color they add.

Southwestern Chimichangas

Prep time: 30 minutes plus about 1 hours in the freezer
Cook time: Depending on how many you make and how big of a pot you have. Each cooks for about 3 minutes.
1 can black beans drained and cleaned (run water over beans until runs clear)
1 red bell pepper, diced
chicken breast – depending on how much chicken you want. I used 3 small pieces
frozen corn – probably around a cup
frozen chopped spinach – probably about a half a cup
green onions – probably about a half cup (I like green onions!)
chili powder
Cholula Chili Lime hot sauce (if you don’t have this, leave it out, no biggie)
olive oil and vegetable oil
Mexican cheese, shredded – I use the Kraft preshredded cheese
salt and pepper to taste
burrito size flour tortillas (this makes about 12 chimichangas)

1- mix together the black beans, red bell pepper, corn, spinach and green onions. Set aside.
2- Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Cook chicken breast until no longer pink inside and the juices run clear. (don’t want to get Salmonella, do we?)
3- set chicken aside to cool.
4- Without cleaning pan, place black bean mixture in and cook for about 5 minutes on low heat. (just making sure everything is defrosted and edible, we will be deep frying.)
5- Add the cumin, chili pepper, salt and pepper, and Cholula sauce to your taste.. Stir to incorporate.
6- Shred the chicken, and add to mixture. Remove from heat.
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7- Take one tortilla and microwave on high for 10 seconds to make it easier to roll.
8- Spread a few Tablespoons of mixture onto the tortilla, close to one side. NOT in the middle.
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9- Fold the sides of the wrap onto the mixture, and tightly roll the wrap while continuing to fold in the sides. You want it to be small and tight. If you would like to see a video to demonstrate how to roll the chimichanga click here.
10- insert toothpick into chimichanga and place in freezer for at least an hour
11- keep chimichangas in freezer until ready to be cooked.
12- In a large, deep skillet, heat oil for deep frying to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Deep fry frozen, stuffed tortillas 3 minutes each, or until dark golden brown. Drain on paper towels before serving.
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We paired our Chimichangas with a 2013 Imagery Estate Winery Grenache

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I honestly have no idea what to call this recipe! I wanted to make something for a brunch and I saw a lot of recipes that were quiches. I thought to myself, “Well, yeah, quiche. Everybody has quiche for brunch.” I don’t like being one among numbers. I am a Sagittarius through and through and enjoy being in the spotlight. That’s why I played center field in softball and was a point guard in basketball. I had to do something different!

The name comes from my not so creative mind that combines a typical quiche with potatoes. Since in all honesty, that is what it is. Instead of using a pie shell, I used potatoes and created a casserole.


4 potatoes; peeled and sliced
baby spinach
4 breakfast sausage links cooked and sliced
8 oz. Swiss Cheese sliced
8 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
3 eggs
1 cup light cream

1- coat the sliced potatoes in olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste
2- spray a casserole dish with cooking spray
3- layer the potatoes to cover the bottom of the casserole dish
4- add a layer of baby spinach
5- add the breakfast sausage
6- add a layer of sliced Swiss cheese
7- create a second layer of potato, followed by spinach
8- add the crumbled bacon
9- add a second layer of Swiss cheese
10- cover with shredded mozzarella
11- mix eggs and cream together and pour to cover
12- cook in a preheated oven. 350o for 40 minutes
13- let cool for 10 minutes and serve

We paired this brunch with a non-vintage Blanc de Noir from Gloria Ferrer.


Mexican Chicken Pot Pie

Mexican Chicken Pot Pie

1 box prepared pie shells (2 shells)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed
olive oil to coat pan
2 cans condensed chicken soup
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 (8 ounces) package cream cheese, softened
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables ( I use peas, carrots, stringbeans)
3 Tbs. butter, melted
1 package Old El Paso taco seasoning
1 package Old El Paso fajita seasoning

1- About two hours prior to cooking, melt butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Add chopped chicken and coat.  Mix the taco and fajita seasoning together and pour over the chicken. Shake to coat completely and let marinade at room temperature.
2- Preheat oven to 375oF. Spray a deep dish pie pan with cooking spray. Arrange one pie crust on the bottom of the pan.
3- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the chicken and cook until no longer pink. Stir in the chicken soup, cream cheese and tomatoes. Stir until melted. Pour in chicken broth. (if too thin, let simmer for awhile) Stir in the mixed vegetables.
4- Pour chicken mixture into the prepared pie pan. Place the top crust on top, crimping the edges to seal. Slice a few openings into the top pie crust. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.
5- Bake in pre-heated oven until golden brown, about 45 minutes.


We paired this meal with a 2014 Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon. IMG_2619 (1)

Peanut Butter Pasta

Peanut Butter Pasta

1 lb pasta (I like rigatoni)
three cloves garlic
2 pieces chicken breast, cubed and cooked
1 can chicken stock (low salt)
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 cup milk
1 cup chunky peanut butter

Cook pasta according to package directions.


–          Sauté garlic in oil in a non-stick pan.

–          After garlic browns.  Add about 1 cup chicken stock (low salt).  Careful of splatters.  Add slowly and cover with a lid.

–          While chicken stock starts to simmers, with lid removed, add ground ginger, cinnamon, and a few table spoons soy sauce.  Stir in to dissolve.

–          After simmering about 10 minutes, add about 1 cup milk.  Continue to simmer 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

–          Add from 1 cup peanut butter.  I like chunky, but not required. Whisk into the sauce.

–          Continue to cook and thicken sauce about 5 minutes to heat through.  If it gets too thick, add more chicken stock.  If not thick enough, add a tablespoon peanut butter at a time.

Once the right consistency, add the cooked pasta into the pan and toss to coat.  You can add broccoli to give it some color and vegetables, but that is not necessary.

Serve immediately otherwise it gets too thick.


This dinner was prepared in honor of Open That Bottle Night (#OTBN) and was paired with 2013 Nostre Pais by Michel Gassier.


Bacon and Spinach Quiche

I love quiche! I actually never have it for breakfast or brunch, it is a main dinner meal for me. It is great even on a weeknight because it is easy to through together.

Bacon and Spinach Quiche

1 premade pie shell at room temperature
1 cup baby spinach
1 1/2 cups shredded swiss cheese
12 pieces of bacon cooked and crumbled
4 Jumbo eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

1 – Preheat oven to 350o F.
2- Unroll pie shell and place into pie dish.
3- Layer the baby spinach, bacon and swiss cheese into the shell.
4- Mix eggs, heavy cream and salt and pepper then pour into shell.
5- Bake for 35 minutes or until slightly browned.
6- Let set by cooling for 10 minutes. Serve.

Now, if you were going to make this dish for brunch, a mimosa would be outstanding! But as a dinner dish, I went with a Chardonnay.  I am not a big fan of the butterbombs, but if you are , that would be perfect. I went with a J. Lohr October Night Chardonnay. This wine has gone through malolactic fermentation, so there is a hint of creaminess. It was an exceptional pairing.


Pasta Carbonara

This is one of my favorite meals to make. It is so simple and quick to pull together and it is always a crowd pleaser.  Another fantastic thing about this meal, is that it is super easy to modify the amount of ingredients to make it as a single serving or for a full family.

Pasta Carbonara

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

1 pound thick spaghetti
1/2 bag frozen peas
1 Tbs olive oil (plus extra to pour over pasta)
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
6 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste


1- In a large pot bring enough salted water to cover pasta to a boil.

2- While water is boiling, cook bacon (I use a microwave) until crispy and set aside. Put one Tbs olive oil in pan and cook chopped onion until translucent. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add chopped bacon.


4- Cook pasta according to directions to al dente. With one minute left, drop frozen peas into boiling water with pasta. Drain and immediately return to same pot you cooked it in. Pour enough olive oil over so the pasta does not stick. Quickly mix in the bacon, onion and garlic. Add Parmesan cheese and then immediately pour the eggs over. Stir to mix completely. Serve immediately.


We paired this meal with a Cabernet Franc from Lang and Reed in Napa California. The is a lighter body Cab Franc so it did not over power the meal. In addition, the smokiness of the bacon was ideal to bring out the earthiness flavors of the wine.