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Christmas Eve Pizza Night

On Christmas Eve we gathered the fam together for a homemade pizza night. I contributed my friend Anna’s famous spinach pizza and Shannon made BBQ chicken and chicken-bacon-artichoke pizzas. I feel a new Christmas Eve tradition coming on!

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“They see me rollin’…my pizza…”

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Draining the tomatos for the spinach pizza.

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A little brush of melted butter and a sprinkle of garlic salt makes the crust oh so good!

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Even Tian helped make his own allergy-friendly personal pan pizza.

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Saucy!

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Shannon’s genius trick of spreading the sauce all the way to the edges of the rolled-out dough and then rolling it up inside the crust. Try it next time you make homemade pizza. I dare you.

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Nice and brown and bubbly! ::Drool::

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The BBQ

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The Spinach

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The CBA (Chicken Bacon Artichoke)

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Mmmmm…. :)

Now… it would be just plain mean if we showed off all of these yummy photos without providing a way for you to enjoy them yourselves! So the recipes for the dough and all three pizzas are below. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

 

Pizza Dough
 
Creator:
Ingredients
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 package Active Dry Yeast, (0.25 oz)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar
  • 1 Cup Warm Water
  • ½ tsp Garlic Powder, (or fresh garlic)
  • 2 tsp Pizza Seasoning, (make sure it has marjoram in the seasoning. If not, add in a bit)
Instructions
  1. Combine flour, salt, sugar, pizza seasoning, garlic, and yeast in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in oil & warm water.
  3. Spread out on large pizza pan or stone.
  4. Top as desired.
  5. Bake at 375℉ for 20-25 minutes.
Notes
If you have time, let it rise in a warm place for an hour or two. If not though, the dough is still great un-risen! Recipe for Homemade Pizza Seasoning: 2 T oregano 2 T basil 2 T marjoram 1 tsp garlic powder

Anna's Famous Spinach Pizza
 
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Meatless and utterly delicious!
Creator:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 1 Store-bought pizza crust, (or homemade)
  • 1 Tablespoon Pesto Sauce
  • 1 clove Garlic, pressed
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 ball buffalo mozzerella, sliced
  • ½ cup pre-shredded mozzarella
  • 1 large mushroom, thinly sliced
  • ¼ medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 bag spinach, chopped
  • garlic salt
  • parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Spread sliced mozzarella and tomato slices on a piece of paper towel to draw out the extra water. (The spinach contains A LOT of water so draining the tomato and cheese will help keep it from getting soggy). Sprinkle mozzarella with a good amount of salt.
  2. Preheat a pizza stone in a 250℃ oven.
  3. Remove pizza stone from oven and form pizza crust onto the stone in a circle. Brush with a few drizzles of olive oil, pesto, crushed garlic, pepper, and a generous dash of Italian seasoning.
  4. Place tomatoes evenly spread out onto crust.
  5. Cover entirely with chopped spinach.*
  6. Place mozzarella slices on top of spinach (evenly spaced). Sprinkle liberally with pre-shredded mozzarella.
  7. Top with onions and mushroom slices.
  8. Cover with LOTS of grated parmesan cheese on top.
  9. Brush the crust edges with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt.
  10. Sprinkle entire pizza with more fresh cracked pepper and salt.
  11. Bake at 250℃/480 F for approximately 10 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. The cheese needs to be quite browned to make sure the crust is fully cooked.
  12. Tilt pizza to check for water build up. If there is some, soak it up with a paper towel and bake for a minute or two more.
  13. Cool for a few minutes, slice, and enjoy!
Notes
Makes enough for 2 slices per person for 3 people. *You will use more spinach than you think you'll need. It shrinks quite a bit in the oven. It is recommended that you follow these cooking instructions, despite what your pizza dough recipe calls for. The high heat and short cooking time allow for the correct amount of moisture to evaporate from the spinach. Otherwise you might end up with a soggy pizza!

BBQ Chicken Pizza
 
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Creator:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 1 Pizza Dough
  • 1 bottle BBQ Sauce
  • 1-2 breasts Grilled Chicken , (or 2-3 thighs) cut into bits.
  • ¼ Red onion
  • 1.5 cups Mozzerella Cheese
  • Cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. Roll out pizza dough. Spread BBQ sauce to taste on top of dough all the way to the edges. Roll up the edges around the sauce to form the crust.
  2. Top with half the cheese, all the toppings, and then the rest of the cheese. Top it all off with cilantro.
  3. Bake at 375℉ for 18-22 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly

Chicken Bacon Artichoke Pizza
 
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Creator:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 1 Pizza crust, unbaked
  • 1 jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1 cup Mozzerella cheese
  • 1-2 Grilled Chicken breast, (grilled with oil and salt)
  • 1 can Artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 slices Bacon, cooked and cut into pieces
  • handful Spinach
  • 1 Green onion, chopped
  • 2-3 small Mushrooms, sliced to preference
Instructions
  1. Roll out pizza dough flat. Spread a layer of alfredo sauce (to taste preference) all the way to the edges of the dough. Roll up edges of dough (around sauce) to form crust.
  2. Top with ½ of the mozzerella cheese. Add all the toppings. Add the rest of the cheese.
  3. Bake at 375℉ for 18-22 minutes until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.

 

 

Cruise: Naples, Italy

“Naples?” you say. “Naples? Haven’t you already been to Naples?” Yes, yes we have. Two Novembers ago, in fact, when Chris went to Naples for work and I tagged along. So instead of doing another tour, we decided to venture off completely on our own. We already had a list of things we wanted to do:

  1. Go to Pompeii (since I couldn’t stop talking about it last time and Chris wanted to see what all the chatter was about).
  2. Get pizza at Da Michele (initiate mouth-water sequence).
  3. Get gelato.

Nice and easy :) Besides, the cruise tour to Pompeii would have given us less time and cost over $100 a piece. Getting there on our own gave us all the time we wanted, and between the train and the entrance ticket only cost us something like 18 euros each. Awesome :)

So while Josh and Kolie boarded a cruise tour to Capri and Sorrento to see a bit of the Amalfi coast….

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…. we hopped on the Circumvesuviana train to explore Pompeii!

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C² and Vesuvius

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Gladiator Style

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Pompeii the second time around was just as good as it was the first! You can seriously spend hours exploring and not see everything. We got to see a lot of the places I missed before AND they updated their maps! We didn’t get lost this time!

The next MUST-DO on our list was eat pizza at L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele. We tried it on a friend’s recommendation before and we have been thinking about it ever since (I’m not even joking…it comes up every other time we eat pizza). In case you missed the previous post about it… it’s a little hole-in-the-wall pizza joint that only makes two kinds of pizza: margherita and marinara (ie with cheese and without). And really… two pizzas are all you need. Fresh, brick-oven baked, covered in balls of squeaky buffalo mozzarella cheese….::drool:: You really can’t beat it! We consider ourselves extremely blessed that we got to return to Naples and try it a second time. Although… after too much longer eating Norwegian “Grandiosa” frozen pizzas we probably would have snapped and bought a plane ticket back to Naples anyway just to eat some real pizza again!

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And of course, what visit to Italy would be complete without gelato?

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Well… that’s it for our cruise folks! We left Naples and docked back in Civitavecchia where we began our journey homeward. I’m sure you’re thinking, “It’s about time! We’ve been hearing about this cruise for weeks now! Let’s move on.”
Yes… let’s :)
NAPLES: Food

I was only going to be in Italy for 3 whole days, so I decided to focus on eating as much good food as I can. I regret to say I got caught up a bit in other things…but I did get to eat lots of delicious treats!

Here are the best things we ate:

1.

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Pizza

Pizza: My all-time favorite food. Naples: Birthplace of pizza. I was in crust and sauce and cheese heaven the entire trip!

The best places we found were:

Da Michele: They only have 2 kinds of pizza – Pizza Marinara with JUST sauce and Pizza Margherita with cheese. We were way skeptical at first, but it was DELICIOUS. I shocked myself by enjoying the marinara one more than the one with cheese! And I love cheese!  You get giant pizzas for 4 euro each so it’s a great deal…just be warned about the line to get in! Go before 7pm.

Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente: A little hole in the wall not quite as good as Da Michele, but still WAY delicious. They had about 15 times more choices too. And also arancini…which I had a minor love affair with during the trip (shhh…don’t tell Pizza)

2. 

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Gelato. Gelato. Gelato.

It strangely really does taste better in Italy than it does anywhere else I’ve had it. I always thought people were full of it when they would tell me…but it’s actually true!

3. 

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Panini

Ham and mozzerella on a baguette. That’s all. Proof right there of how amazing Italian cooking is. No sauces, toppings, or anything else…yet the quality of the ingredients made it one of my favorite things I ate in Italy.

 

4. 

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Random pastries from various bake shops.

Some I liked…some I really didn’t. All of them were beautiful to look at though and the bake shops smelled fantastic!

I think next time I’m in Italy all I’m going to do is eat. And gain 15 pounds. But it will be a 15 pounds well spent!

 

A Highland Anniversary

Back in August (yes…I know I’m behind again…) Chris and I celebrated our 1st anniversary! Whoa. Time has gone by so fast, yet it already feels like we’ve been married forever! What an adventure it has been so far! I just want you all to know that I love this man with all my heart. He is a truly amazing husband and the perfect man for me. He has made me unbelievably happy this past year. I’m very excited for all of the future adventures we are going to have together in year 2 :)

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We knew we wanted to celebrate this awesome occasion by doing something, well…awesome. Unfortunately all of our previous plans fell through for various unforseen reasons. So about 3 days before our anniversary we decided that no matter what, we were going somewhere out of Stavanger. We looked at flights and the cheapest we could find landed us in…..

SCOTLAND!

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We flew into Edinburgh,  jumped on a MacBackpackers tour bus we had booked  for a 3-day trip to the Isle of Skye up in the Highlands, and then spent the last 2 days hanging out back in Edinburgh and checking out the Fringe Festival (performing arts) that runs most of August. It was a beautiful, romantic, adventurous trip!

Chris brought the big fancy camera from work so he could teach me how to use things like aperture and shutter speed to take better pictures. Naturally, that meant we ended up with about 1500 photos from the trip. No joke. I didn’t want to have to make you all scroll through tons of photos (nor did I want to have to sort through and edit them at the moment), so me and my friend iMovie made a video instead! Enjoy!

 

 Ok….so maybe I snuck a few pictures in there after all. I really just wanted you to be able to listen to the entire song without me editing it and I ran out of video footage. It’s an awesome song, eh? It’s by a band I just recently found called Seven Nations. If you like bagpipey folk music with a modern twist, definitely check them out!

 

 

A little more info about our trip in case you find it useful someday:

What we flew: Norwegian Airlines

Where we stayed: The first night in Edinburgh we stayed at the Novotel Hotel Centre. Gorgeous hotel with a pool and hot tub. Nights 2-4 were at the Skye Backpackers Hostel in Kyleakin, Isle of Skye. We booked a double private room instead of the bunk room with the rest of the tour. Night 5-6 were at the Holiday Inn Express Waterfront. Since we booked so late and the Fringe Festival was going on, we didn’t have a lot of options to pick from, but the HIE was nice and basic….just way too far from Edinburgh Center. Buses ran by frequently, but it was still quite a hassle to be so far away from all the sights.

Where we ate: To be honest…. Pizza Hut and Pappa Johns :) We may have mildly freaked out when we saw they had them in Edinburgh. We were so excited to eat good, greasy, cheesy American-style pizza again! On Skye we had delicious pub fare at Saucy Mary’s Pub. It was our most Scottish food experience of the trip. The rest of the time, we ate food we brought with us (such as noodle bowls and ramen dinners) which was easy to whip up in the hostel kitchen and worked perfectly using hot water heated with the coffee makers in the hotel rooms. Hey…we’re still newlyweds on a budget afterall :)

What we saw: Loch Ness, The Isle of Skye, Inverness, lots of old ruins, Kilt Rock, Battlefield of Culloden, National Wallace Monument, Faerie Glen, Glen Goe, Eilean Donan Castle, Braveheart Country, The Old Man of Storr, Edinburgh Castle, The Palace of Holyrood House, waterfalls, and tons of other stuff I don’t quite remember and am too lazy to look up. We loved the magic of Scotland :)

**About our MacBackpackers tour: If any of you are planning on going to Scotland and don’t want to rent a car to drive around in, we would both HIGHLY recommend a tour with MacBackpackers. Normally, I’m not a fan of organized tours, but this one was amazing! It was a great way to get out of the main cities see the highlights of the Highlands without worrying about where to stay or getting lost. MacBackpackers is a really down-to-earth tour company run through a local hostel that focuses on the younger backpacking culture, although anyone of any age can come along. It almost felt like we weren’t tourists. Our tour guide, Ruthie, was absolutely hilarious and told us all sorts of stories about Scottish history, legends and local culture. We stopped in gorgeous tiny towns that we never would have thought to stop in on our own. You do normally stay in a hostel on Skye as part of the tour, but they have private double rooms or you can opt to book your own room at one of the hotels/b&bs in town. It was a fantastic 3 days and we would highly recommend it if you are heading out to Scotland anytime soon!