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Pizza Margherita

Natalie Griffo

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My husband Mark, is from Italian heritage. He not only loves Pizza Margherita, but he uses it as a measuring rod as to whether an Italian restaurant is actually good or not. Do they care enough to not cut corners on the simplest pizza on the menu? If the Margherita is good, it is likely the rest of the menu will be as well. To celebrate his love of Pizza Margherita, and to show him a little love, I threw together a quick take on his favorite. And it may have just rocked his world.

I made this pizza pretty simply, with my favorite pre made dough, and some pre made pizza sauce that I fancied up with some herbs and spices. But that doesn't mean that you can't make your own dough or sauce. If you have that kind of time, I say go for it. The pizza will be even better.

Notes: I own a pizza stone, and I have to say it makes a huge difference in the way the bottom of the pizza turns out crispy, and not soggy. I highly recommend investing in a good one.

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Makes enough for 2-3 

Pizza dough 

I used Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza dough

Pizza or tomato sauce

I used Whole Foods Pizza Sauce and added my own spices

4 small burrata 

or 2-3 normal sized

Vegans can use a mozzarella alternative

Handful of fresh basil 

leaves only

Handful of fresh oregano 

leaves only

Handful of fresh thyme

leaves only

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Begin by preheating the oven to 480°F. If you are using a pizza stone, allow it to preheat in the oven. Form the pizza dough into a ball, and allow it to sit out while the oven pre heats.

When the oven is ready, take the ball and roll it out flat or toss it until it flattens. Make sure the rolled dough is quite thin, or it will become too thick as it bakes. Place the rolled dough on a sheet of parchment paper, and transfer to the oven for 3-5 minutes, to allow the crust to firm up.

Remove the pizza crust from the oven, and spread with a thin layer of pizza sauce. Not too much, or the pizza will be soggy. Add the burrata to the pizza. Place in oven, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown, the center of the pizza is bubbling, and the burrata is running.

Remove the pizza from the oven, and scatter the top with the fresh herbs. Cut pizza, and serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Lemon + Olive Cacciatore

Natalie Griffo

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Cacciatore, meaning "hunter" in Italian, refers to a meal prepared "hunter-style". Traditionally, a cacciatore is made with tomatoes, onions, herbs, bell pepper, mushrooms, wine, and sometimes olives, capers. But I may have taken some liberties, and made a cacciatore omitting the ever present tomato (much to the dismay of my friend's one hundred percent Italian mother). And it is heaven.

This is not an exaggeration. I mean, how can you not love a dish that incorporates some of the greatest ingredients ever? Caramelized onions, capers, olives, lemons, herby deliciousness? Anyone? This Lemon + Olive Cacciatore makes an amazingly rich, flavorful, and filling meal. Without leaving you feeling heavy and sluggish.

In making this dish, I cannot stress enough the importance of choosing the freshest organic, free-range chicken you can find. Good quality chicken makes a huge difference in taste, and in healthiness factor. You are what you eat!

Notes: To allow the cacciatore to really be the star of the plate, complement it with simple but delicious sides. I recommend serving alongside some fluffy brown rice, or a simple lemon risotto, or atop olive oil mashed potatoes (just use a good quality olive oil instead of butter, and coconut milk instead of cow's milk), with a side salad of arugula and shaved fennel dressed simply with olive oil and salt.

Makes enough for 3-4 people

3 lbs chicken thighs

about 2 packages of thigh pieces

Coconut oil

1 - 2 tsp garlic

minced

2 tsp fresh rosemary

finely chopped

1 tsp fresh sage

finely chopped

1 yellow or sweet onion

chopped

1/2 cup green olives

pitted, and roughly chopped

1 cup dry white wine

I use the (four dollar!!!) Bay Moon Sauvignon Blanc from Trader Joe's

1 tbsp champagne vinegar

1/2 - 1 cup chicken broth

3 tbsp capers

2 - 3 lemons

de-seeded and chopped, include the peel

1/4 tsp salt

pinch of red pepper flakes

optional

salt & pepper to taste

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Begin by heating a big knob of coconut oil over medium high heat in a large, deep skillet. When it is hot enough to make the chicken sizzle, add the chicken. Cook the chicken evenly on either side, until just cooked through. Transfer the chicken from the skillet to a plate, and cover to keep warm.

Allow the skillet to cool slightly, and pour off any liquid. Melt another knob of coconut oil. Add the garlic, rosemary, sage, and onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are cooked through and nearing caramelization. 

Add the chicken back to the skillet along with the olives, capers, and lemons. Toss everything gently, but well. Add the remaining ingredients (white wine, champagne vinegar, chicken broth red pepper flakes), and salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to medium-low. Cover partially and cook at a simmer, until liquid is reduced by half. If the skillet gets too dry, add a few splashes of more chicken broth.

Transfer to a serving dish or platter, and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Almond Meal, Coconut + Cacao Nib Cookies

Natalie Griffo

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Gluten-free baking is hard enough to nail. As you may know from experience, there are plenty of gluten-free baking flops out there. But combine the request for a gluten-free baked good with something dairy-free, and you have real challenge on your hands. Luckily Sprouted Kitchen's Sara Forte has come up with a solution.

Every time I make these Almond Meal, Coconut + Cacao Nib Cookies they are a hit.  Dinner guests down an entire batch and want more, my lactose-intolerant and gluten-sensitive Dad requests them for special occasions, my Father-in-Law convinces me to make them for him by buying me the ingredients... The fan base for these cookies just continues to grow! And I have to say, they are incredible. Kind of like a coconut-macaroon-chocolate-chip-cookie-for-grownups hybrid, these cookies are moist and perfectly chewy, while not being overly sweet. The perfect after dinner or with coffee treat!

Note: Make sure to keep the cookies small, otherwise they will not hold their shape.

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Makes 20 cookies

Dry ingredients

1 1/4 cups almond meal

1/4 cup cacao nibs

1/2 cup shredded coconut

preferably unsweetened

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup muscovado sugar

if you can't find muscovado,

dark brown sugar will suffice

 

Wet ingredients

1 egg

vegans can make a flax egg (1 tbsp flax meal, 3 tbsp water)

3 tablespoons coconut oil

melted, but not hot

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Begin by mixing together the dry ingredients (almond meal, cacao nibs, coconut, baking powder, salt, and sugar) in a large mixing bowl.

In another smaller bowl, beat the egg until it is a uniform color and has doubled in volume. Whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla.

Add the bowl of wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Cover and place the bowl in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Use your hands to roll the chilled dough into balls 1 inch in diameter, and place on a baking sheet 1 1/2 inch apart (don't use parchment, the cookies need a little crust to hold them together). Give the dough balls a gentle press to flatten them a bit.

Bake until the edges of the cookies are just beginning to brown, 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool a bit on the cookie sheet. Release the cookies from the sheet with a gentle twist, or by sliding a thin spatula underneath. Place on a plate and serve while still warm. Enjoy!

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Raspberry + Basil Pops

Natalie Griffo

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Why hello there San Diego summer! You sure came out of nowhere fast. One minute I'm wearing jeans and light layers, and the next I'm sweating it out on the Fourth of July in shorts and a tank. I must've brought some of the Palm Springs heat back with me from my anniversary getaway!

Combatting the summer heat is a must. And what more beautiful and delicious way to do so than with homemade popsicles! These Raspberry + Basil Pops come together quickly, with minimal time over a stove and maximum time spent relaxing.

Notes:

The leftover basil syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for one to two weeks, and used in a variety of ways. Use it to sweeten and flavor iced tea, or stir it into sparkling water to make your own soda.

This is my celebratory purchase and use of my beautiful new Vitamix Professional 750 that I've been saving for for ages post! Hooray!

Recipe inspiration comes from this tasty little book, People's Pops, from the famed Brooklyn pop shop of the same name.

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Makes 10, depending on your mold

4 cups raspberries

5 cups if you strain out the seeds

if using frozen berries, allow to thaw

4 tbsp mascarpone 

if vegan, replace with coconut cream

a few splashes of whole or full fat coconut milk

1 1/3 cup basil infused simple syrup

 

Basil infused simple syrup

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

4 - 5 large handfuls basil leaves

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Begin making the basil syrup by heating the sugar and water together in a small saucepan until the sugar is fully dissolved, and the syrup is just simmering. Turn the heat off immediately, as you do not want any of the syrup to evaporate. Add the basil leaves to the saucepan, and stir until wilted. Allow the basil leaves to continue infusing the syrup while it cools. Once the syrup has cooled, remove the basil leaves and squeeze them over the syrup for maximum basil flavoring.

Place fresh or thawed raspberries in blender. Add the mascarpone or coconut cream, and the basil infused syrup. Puree in the blender until smooth, and the mascarpone or coconut cream is fully integrated. If you're removing the seeds, strain them out.

Get out a popsicle mold, and splash a little whole or coconut milk in the bottom of each mold (this is so that they get pretty marbling and streaks). Pour the raspberry puree into the molds, leaving a little room at the top of each for the mixture to expand as it freezes. Place the lid on your popsicle mold, and place popsicle sticks into the holes. 

Freeze for 3-4 hours, or until frozen solid. 

When pops are fully frozen, fill a sink or large bowl with enough hot water to submerge the popsicle mold in water without going over the top of the mold (no wet pops please!). Let the popsicle mold sit in the water for a few seconds, until you are able to release the pops from the mold with a gentle tug.

Working quickly so that they don't thaw, wrap the pops in plastic wrap or place individually in small bags. Place in the freezer. You can store in the pops in the freezer for up to a month (although I strongly doubt they will be around long enough for that). Enjoy!

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