Tales From My Test Kitchen

Eggplant and Olive Tapenade Pizza

Last week I finally shared my Perfect Pizza Dough recipe with you guys and several of you have let me know you loved it (I love getting messages like that!). This week, I want to share one of my favorite ways to top my pizza dough: roasted eggplant and olive tapenade. Tapenade is a French puree of olives, capers, anchovies, and olive oil. I first came across it as a topping for traditional New Orleans muffaletta sandwiches when I was growing up. My mom would take us to the local deli on special lunch occasions and we would get one giant, round muffaletta (they’re about 9 inches in diameter), an order from the salad bar, and we’d each pick a Clearly Canadian sparkling fruit soda (anyone else remember those?). The three of us would split it, and if my sister and I behaved, we would get some of the free soft-serve ice cream before we left. 

Muffaletta tapenade (or olive salad as they often call it) is not quite “traditional” Provençal tapenade, because it usually has celery, cauliflower, and carrot in addition to the olives, but it was certainly enough to get me addicted. Buying a jar of tapenade is usually quite expensive, but after I looked up the ingredients I realized it was really easy to make with a little food processor or blender. I just grabbed a variety of olives from my fridge (Kalamata, green stuffed with anchovies, and black) some olive oil, and a bit of lemon juice and ran them for a whirl in my food processor. 

eggplant

The eggplant was one I had bought on sale thinking I’d make some eggplant Parmesan. I left it in my fridge a bit too long and it started turning soft and slightly brown, so I decided to roast… Continue reading

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe

I have tried to write up this recipe a number of times and it never fails that we either eat the pizza before I can get a photo, or there’s not enough daylight left outside to get good photos by the time I get home from work at twilight.   To combat this lack of good photo light, I made a pizza at 2 in the afternoon just so I could photograph it. (We ate it later that night, but it wasn’t hot out of the oven at that point.) I’m still not 100% happy with the photos, and I would have like to have more dough rolling action shots, but I found it hard to get covered in olive oil, try to hold the camera, and take a decent dough rolling selfie. Food styling a lump of pizza dough is a hard task!

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe

My obsession with pizza dough started just after our wedding.  We  were given a pizza stone by a few dear friends and it inspired me to learn how to make my own pizza dough. Before getting married, I’m not sure I had ever worked with yeast dough.  I’d heard all the nightmare stories about how scary and sensitive yeast was and how you could kill it by looking at it wrong.  It was almost as hyped up as the dreaded souffle (which is also not as scary as you’ve been told, but that’s a recipe for another day.)  I started by looking up dough recipes online and picked a random one for my first try. I hadn’t yet learned the magical dough kneading properties of my stand mixer (another beloved wedding gift), so I patiently kneaded it by hand and left it on the counter to rise.  When I returned an hour later, I had made… Continue reading

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

For the longest time, I thought my mom’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread was one that had been passed down through her (mostly Irish) side of the family.  When I asked her about it this year, I was surprised to find out that it isn’t a family recipe. Apparently she picked it up while my dad was in anesthesia school in Kansas City and baked a loaf of this Irish soda bread to share with friends of theirs who had made traditional corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty’s day.  It was a hit, and she’s been baking it every year since. I’ve made a few tiny tweaks to ratios and cook temp, and it sure bakes a beautiful loaf.  

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Despite my misconception about its origins, this is still a very traditional Irish soda bread recipe.  A few years back, a friend who saw my bread invited me to join the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread Facebook group. They are dedicated to preserving the original recipe of 4 ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. While my recipe has the addition of some baking powder to make it extra fluffy, everything else is the same. 

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

To make the Irish soda bread, grab a bowl and measure out the dry ingredients.  Anytime I’m baking, I always measure out my flour by weight using my kitchen scale and the conversion of 1 US cup= 125 grams. I find that you get a very consistent measure and never run into issues with the wet/dry ingredient ratios that can pop up if you don’t measure by weight. This is not as essential with cakes and cookies, but is crucial with bread dough because texture is key to getting a perfect loaf.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Once you have the dry ingredients measured and mixed,… Continue reading

Recipe Roundup: My Top 5 Go-To Recipes

So I know you’re all wondering where I went and why I haven’t posted in forever. (Okay really, I’ve just missed one week, but I’m sure you love me that much right?) Well, the reason I haven’t caught up from last week is that I got pretty sick and then I was out of town. I’m in the middle of transitioning from one form of birth control that I’ve been on for 3 years to another type and it’s been kicking my butt with hormones. I’m pretty sure my body thinks I’m pregnant AND going through menopause at the same time. (Neither are true.) I’m heading out of town again this weekend, so instead of leaving you for another week without any new recipes, I thought I’d share a quick round up of my top 5 go-to recipe staples.

I’m also hoping to get my favorite Irish Soda Bread recipe up on Sunday when I get back, so stay tuned for that just in time for St. Patty’s Day on Monday. :)

The first 3 are recipes I find myself making when we have a crowd coming over for dinner.  They are all awesome and such a great choice since they’re chock full of vegetables.

The Tortellini recipe is probably the most labor intensive and active recipe of the bunch. Read the whole thing and be prepared to be by the stove for a bit. It’s worth all the work though. Yum! 

The root vegetable pot pie is a great make ahead and freeze dish because it bakes up so well! When you buy the veggies you have enough to make 2… Continue reading

Carrot Raisin Salad

Every Sunday in our house involves zombies. A while ago, we invited a couple friends over for dinner and to watch the Walking Dead on a Sunday night.  The simple “post-apocalypse potluck” meal of whatever we had leftover in the fridge has now morphed into a weekly Sunday night event with 8-10 people over for dinner and a watch party each week. We watch it like many people watch football- yelling at the screen: “Look behind you!” “You didn’t check the back room!” “Save your bullets!”  “Yay he’s dead!!” As crazy as it may seem to some to have people over every week, I actually thrive on the hospitality. I also love that we’ve all bonded and become better friends over a zombies. Sometimes we take those online quizzes to see which character we are and then plan what we would do if the world was infected. (I’m Maggie btw.)

Carrot Raisin Salad

We typically provide the “main” dish and ask people to bring whatever they feel like “post-apocalypse style” to contribute. Sometimes that’s beer and some tortilla chips. Other times we have a 50ct box of cookies and a salad to go with the spaghetti.  At one point we had grilled cheese, meatballs, and salsa. It’s low key and fun. This past week was a treat for me because one of our weekly zombie lovers offered to make this amazing chicken pot pie recipe as our main dish. This left me with the easy task of making a suitable side dish.  After thinking through the usual suspects of mashed potatoes and mac and cheese, I decided to head in the direction of salads and landed on this carrot and raisin salad. Come to find out, none of them had ever had it before! It was happily devoured, so I decided… Continue reading

Welcome! I’m Steph.

Welcome! I’m Steph.

I'm a Texas native living in Colorado who blogs about her favorite Tex-Mex and travel-inspired recipe creations. I love the way food is tied to memories and makes friends out of strangers. I'm so glad y'all are here at my virtual table and I hope you stay a while!

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