Stuffed Heirloom with Fresh Mozzarella

I love the New York Times. When I was a student at Drew, it was delivered to the dorms (for free!) on weekdays. My favorite Sociology professor used to bring in copies of pertinent articles all the time (his kids read the Opinion section every day…which I am still in awe of). These days, Tim and I have a Sunday subscription, and of course I follow a few of the departments on Twitter.

It may not come as a surprise that my favorite links usually come from @nytimesdining and its unofficial counterpart, @nytimesfood. The Times’s Mark Bittman recently did a wonderful feature on Heirloom tomatoes for the Magazine, and the interactive page with the recipes has been up in my Chrome tabs since. This was the first recipe I made from the selection, and I am eyeing that Salsa Borracha for my next one (salsa with tequila in it? yes please).

This stuffed, baked heirloom has an incredible amount of flavor – I was pleasantly surprised. It bakes up beautifully golden and the heat deepens the flavor and color of the heirloom. Definitely give this a try before summer is over!

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Pizza Margherita

pizza marg close

Wow, so time flies/disappears when you work three jobs. I haven’t posted since the 16th!  I am so sorry, dear readers….I’ve been busy pouring wine, eating cheese, chasing around an adorable two-year-old, writing newsletters, and sending out press releases.

Three jobs, two college classes, and I love it all. This means I’m happy but tired. Most days, I come home ready to crawl into bed and snug the dog. On the days when I feel motivated, it’s usually because I have pizza and wine on the brain.  Oh yes. Nothing beats a homemade pizza, straight out of the oven, paired with a fabulous wine.

My recent pick? Vihuela Incendio, a blend of Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Cab. It’s a fantastic pizza wine, with just the right amount of acidity to balance out that of the tomatoes in this classic Pizza Margherita. I feel more relaxed already…

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Caprese Salad

caprese stack

I know making a Caprese Salad is probably nothing new to you.  There are probably millions of recipes just like this; I know you’ve seen probably 6,000 photos that look just like these.

However.

Let us not forget that Caprese Salad is a perfect light snack.  It is a perfect summer appetizer.  It is a perfect sandwich filling, spread out between a nice loaf of crusty bread.  It can be chopped.  In its skewered cherry tomato and Ciliegine (cherry-sized) mozzarella form, it becomes the cutest appetizer ever.  It can fill a small dish or an entire bowl.  It is healthy – tomatoes and olive oil are wonderful for your body, and fresh mozzarella is low-calorie and low-fat compared to many cheeses.

You get the idea – it’s versatile, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like it.  Let’s begin.

caprese arial

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Tortellini Salad

Tortellini Salad

I’ve never been a pasta salad fan, and when I think about it I think pasta and funky vegetables all covered in a thick mayo dressing…the last thing I want on a hot day is a bunch of fat weighing me down! This salad is different.  It is fairly light (it is still pasta and cheese, but no heavy dressing!), and served cool or at room temperature, and I find it to be very refreshing alongside something hot off the grill.  It is also perfect for a light dinner on an evening in the park.

This tortellini salad has been a favorite of mine my whole life.  The recipe is my mom’s, and I remember it from countless picnics and school lunches.  It’s always a hit and it’s very easy to throw together.  I made it for the Fourth of July, and everyone enjoyed it!

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Baked Stuffed Squash Flowers

squash flower mozzarella stuffing

One of the classic family stories that I’ve heard a million times but don’t remember is this: Little Laura, maybe three or four years old, is asked if she wants some squash at dinner time.  I replied, “Yes, please, but I’d like it whole, not squashed.”  SO cute, right?!  It makes me smile every time.

Not only do I love un-squashed squash,  I love interesting ingredients (like fava beans).  Last week at Gisuppe’s in San Luis Obispo, we ordered the fried zucchini flower appetizer, and after that I knew I was ready to create my own.  Luckily, this past Thursday at SLO Farmer’s Market, I found some for sale and bought a basket – they cost something like $2, and there were probably 10 in the basket, though some were too small to stuff.  I knew I wanted mine to involve mozzarella, and I knew I didn’t want to fry them…so this is what I came up with.  Tomato Basil Mozzarella Stuffed Baked Squash Flowers.  Oh my goodness.
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My Favorite Pizza Dough Recipe

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I first made this dough in July 2008 when my now-boyfriend came over for dinner.  Even though we burnt it that night, we knew we had found an amazing recipe, because it was still delicious. Since then, we have used this recipe over and over for lots of pizza nights, cooked both on the grill and in the oven.  The pizza comes out crispy and chewy…definitely professional-status, especially when you take into account that most pizza found in California is pretty terrible.  We actually grilled pizza this past weekend for some company, and it was a hit!

I made another batch of dough this evening (hey…I don’t let good cheese go to waste!).  It only takes about five minutes of hands-on time, total, so it’s great for a weeknight meal.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, I do not cook my pizza on the grill.  What’s great about this dough is it is extremely versatile and can be cooked in a regular old oven.  I use a pizza stone, but I bet a baking dish would work just fine as well. Read on for the official recipe, and to see what I did!

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