Me and My Cooking, Volume 1: Foccacia "Pizza"

Hey there, internet people. As you may know, it’s no secret that I LOVE to cook. The number of new recipes I find myself Pinning is outrageous. Just ONE of my food boards has more on it than the rest of my boards, combined. It’s a serious problem.

Lately, I’ve tended towards healthy recipes. Not as a diet so much as a lifestyle. When I eat better, I FEEL better. And losing a few pounds wouldn’t hurt, either. But considering all the cooking I’ve been doing, I figured it was about time I started sharing the delicious dishes I’ve cooked up with you, so you can enjoy them, too.

I’m still pretty new at making substitutions and editing recipes, so a lot of what I cook are just hybrids out of my cookbooks. But hey, good food is good food, am I right?

The first recipe I want to share is my Foccacia “Pizza” recipe, which is easy AND healthy. Although you have to let your Foccacia “crust” rise a few times, the rest of the steps aren’t that time consuming. So if you’re a college kid with an apartment like I soon will be, you can get some homework (or Pinning, Facebooking, etc) accomplished while the dough rises. The results will be well worth it, I promise.

Tah-Dah!

So, after that promising piece of evidence, let’s get started with the ingredients list. You will need:

Foccacia bread (crust, loosely based off a recipe from the Weight Watcher’s Cookbook):
4 Tbsp Whole Wheat Flour
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 package Active Dry Yeast
1 cup (minus 1 Tbsp) lukewarm water

Topping (this is my “clever” invention):
1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil (plus extra for coating dough)
Pepper, to taste (preferably from a grinder)
1 medium tomato, chopped
Approx 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (I like the Kraft stuff that comes in an easy to sprinkle can)
Approx 1/2 cup Mozzerella cheese, grated (I just buy the prepackaged stuff to save time and dishes)

And how it works: 
To start with, take a small bowl and combine the yeast and warm water. Cover that with a (clean) kitchen towel or loose saran wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together both types of flour and the salt. Slowly mix in the yeast, stirring until dough will form a ball. Flour your hands and knead the dough approx 30 times. Spray the bowl with cooking spray and return the dough to the bowl. Cover with the kitchen towel from before and let sit for 1 hour, until dough doubles in size.

Spend that hour however you please, but when it’s up, punch down the dough (hit it to get the air bubbles out). Spray a pizza stone (or baking sheet, whatever you choose) with non cook spray, then place the dough ball on the stone and press it out to a nice pizza shape, approx. 10 inches in diameter (you can just eyeball this. Think a small-medium delivery pizza.) Cover with that good old towel and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, take your chopped tomato in a small bowl. Add the 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil, and the pepper. I also like to add a pinch of parsley flakes, for a little extra flavor. Stir it all up and set aside. In preparation for baking, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

When your dough has finished rising the second time, discard your towel and get ready for the fun part. Dip a basting brush in olive oil and brush over the dough, just to coat it. Then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese (this is largely a “to taste” activity. The 1/2 cup measurement is just approximate. Feel free to add as much as you want). Over top the mozzarella, add your tomato mixture. Top with the Parmesan. Sprinkle on a little more pepper, if desired. And then stick it in the oven for 15-20 minutes and ENJOY! Hope it turns out as delicious for you as it does for me.

I’m in Freaking Italy!

Hello internet people! This is going to be a short post because I’m presently sitting in my semi-posh hotel room in Florence, Italy using the remaining minutes of our 5 euro internet connection to do one of my very favorite things–ramble using my words on the internet!

Basically, I want to fill you all in on the glory that has been the nice, relaxing final leg of a truly once in a lifetime study abroad experience.

We began our glorious journey in Italy, sans any ability with the language whatsoever, by taking a lovely plane (with actual food and seats and checked bags and everything) to Venice! Venice, if you didn’t know, is completely surrounded by water and has no roads. Just water. It was a really unique experience, and quite fun not having to watch out for cars, since you’d have to actually jump into a canal to worry about any traffic other than that of the pedestrian variety.

Venice is a gorgeous city, especially because of all of this water. There are few things I love more than a good body of water, especially when the sunlight (SUNLIGHT) is hitting it just right. And yes, Italy IS full of scary people who come up to you telling you silly things like “Half off because you have beautiful smile” and trying to get you to buy useless stuff you don’t want, but I can tell you how to deal with that right now–run away! They are only going to follow you so far, and the language barrier can really only HELP you at that point. Just scamper off and enjoy the city, never minding the silly people selling you silly things.

What did we DO in Venice, you might ask? We did a lot of wandering around and looking at stuff, which is one of my favorite activities to do in a new city. We did a spot of shopping and navigated the city without a map rather cleverly. We saw a gorgeous cathedral by the name of San Marco and we ate a lot of gelato and other such glorious things. I have now consumed more pasta and pizza than I would have EVER thought possible. These things are rather prevalent in Italy, regardless of the fact that our trip courier assured us that most Italians do NOT routinely stuff their faces with pasta. Still, they do it right and I have enjoyed every single bite of it (even if it’s currently resting nicely on my stomach giving me a bit of extra padding I didn’t ask for).

It’s been a very chill vacation thus far, and I’m definitely planning on keeping it that way. A bit more wine, a bit more pasta, and a bit more sun and then it’s back to my real life, taking this glorious amazing dream of an experience with me.