Pi Day Pizza

Pizza

For those who don’t know, Pi is a mathematical number, equaling 3.14 when rounded. March is the 3rd month and today is the 14th day of the month, so voila, Pi Day. You can find more details on Pi Day here.

You are probably thinking that my family and I made pizza pies today in honor of Pi Day. Well, you are wrong. If it weren’t for the snow day I would’ve been working until 6:15p so ain’t nobody got time for making homemade pizza on a weeknight. Our tribute to Pi day was to eat the final slices left from pizzas that we made over the weekend.

…I know, I know, that was a stretch. Let’s be straightforward, you are reading this article for the recipe and not for the backstory…

Since the hustle and busy of our weekdays do not allow for a lot of family time, I try to maximize our time over the weekend. Quality family time is important for children’s overall development, socialization/social skills development, and mental health. We also use these times to build on existing math skills (e.g. counting scoops of ingredients), science knowledge (such as going from liquid to solid states, how certain ingredients affect the outcome, etc.), and fine motor skills.

But most importantly we love pizza. By making it ourselves we know exactly what ingredients and how much of those ingredients are going in. This way we have a much better idea of what is going into our bodies. Healthy bodies, healthy minds.  Alright, on to the recipe.

Pizza Dough

I used this recipe by Bobby Flay. I used 4 cups of flour and ended up using at least 2 cups of water. I mixed and kneaded by hand rather than using the food processor and my bread maker. Since it is cold here in Maryland getting the dough to rise properly was an issue. A trick I used to help the dough to rise was warming my oven to the lowest setting possible, turning off the oven once it reached temperature, and then put the dough (still inside of the bowl and covered) on top of a sheet pan in the oven.

Pizza Sauce (bear with me again, I didn’t measure anything so these are rough estimates)

1 32oz can of pizza sauce

1.5tsp black pepper (freshly ground)

2tbsps parsley (dried; if using fresh use at least 3tbsps)

1.5tbsps oregano (dried; if using fresh use 2tbsps)

1tbsp Italian seasoning

garlic (5 cloves)

one handful of fresh basil (or about 2tbsps if using dried)

Mix all of the ingredients together and set aside. I did this right after I made the dough. Allowing it to sit gives the seasonings a chance to get to know each other (i.e., it enhances the flavor).

Pie Assembly

Toppings: mozzarella cheese (fresh, and sliced or grated), sausage (ground and cooked), black olives, Kalamata olives, green peppers, pepperoni, tomatoes

Grease the baking sheet with olive oil. Stretch the dough onto the baking sheet (we were able to make 2 large pizzas and one medium sized pizza from this dough). First top with the pizza sauce mixture and be sure not to put too much. Then layer whatever toppings you like but save the cheese for last. Bake in a 425 degree Farenheit oven for about 23 minutes for the large pizzas and about 20 minutes for the medium pizza or until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly. Slice and enjoy!!

By the way, I realize that the use of sausage and pepperoni flies in the face of healthy eating. First, I never said this was a healthy recipe. You can certainly swap out sausage and pepperoni for chicken or mushrooms (and we sometimes do). Second, I am a big believer in moderation and balance. Do we eat like this everyday? No. Do we even eat like this every weekend? No. It is okay to indulge in some of these less healthy ingredients as long as it is not a regular habit. Moderation and balance, people!!

Spicy Baked Chicken

On my Instagram page I posted a pic of a quick meal I threw together:

chickenspicy_baked

I received many requests for the recipe so I decided to not only post it, but also begin a new page on my website devoted to food!! So this will be the first of many posts featuring some of my culinary endeavors.

You might be wondering on what authority I have to create posts about cooking. First, I’ve been cooking since I was 8 years old. That’s 31 years of experience. I’m not saying I’m a chef, but 31 years of practicing anything should make you pretty good at it. Second, I offer another picture from my Instagram page:

cheesecakecherry_homemade

I made the cheesecake from which this slice came. The topping I didn’t make, I could have–it is really rather simple–but for time’s sake I didn’t. And I’ve been making this cheesecake for, oh, about 25 years. The recipe, which is older than I am, was given to me by my Mom. And third, I’m Haitian. If you don’t know the skills that Haitian women bring to the kitchen, please watch this video by Josh Pray beginning at time 0:59:

I think I’ve proven myself now.

Haitian cooking is known for the boldness of the flavors. If you are cooking a dish in Haitian style and are using any fewer than 10 ingredients you ain’t making it right. I’m not kidding. Onions, black pepper, salt, thyme, garlic, oil, clove, tomato paste, hot sauce (made from vinegar and scotch bonnet peppers)…those are just some of the spices that can go into a meal.

Another important aspect of Haitian cooking, other than how fabulous it tastes, is how long it takes to make. Literally, rice itself can take 2 hours to cook. Haitian cuisine involves the “low and slow” method of cooking…brown the meat, bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the temperature down super low and let that baby ride for a while. Hours. Meat can be eaten with nothing more than a fork or spoon, vegetables simply melt in your mouth (if it didn’t already melt into the sauce), and the rice will be the best tasting rice to ever grace your palate.

Unfortunately my life doesn’t allow me to give food hours to cook everyday. So, I taught myself how to adapt the recipes that would normally spend hours to come to fruition for shorter cooking times. I ain’t gonna lie, low and slow is still my preferred method (just think of how tasty anything slow cooked tastes) but I do the most that I can with the time frame I have. When I have the time to let things simmer and come to their full flavor for a few hours, I do that.

The recipe:

So here’s the problem…I don’t measure anything. I occasionally pour the spice into my hand first before I sprinkle it onto whatever I am making. Instead I shake it straight from the container (if using dried spices) or I just grab how much I need of fresh spices. So you’ll have to give me a lot of leeway when it comes to the measurements you see below because I just “eyeball” it. If after coating the chicken with the amounts below your chicken does not appear as well coated as in the picture, then add some more of all the ingredients. (Just reduce the measurements by half.) Also keep in mind I’ve grown up eating spicy food. If you prefer your food more on the less flavorful (read: bland) side then reduce my amounts.

6 chicken drum sticks (could swap out for 3-4 chicken breasts depending on size)

onion (2tbsp dried minced onion, or 1 small onion diced)

garlic (1tbsp powder -OR- 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced)

parsley (2tbsp dried -OR- 1 handful fresh parley, minced)

oregano (1tbsp dried -OR- about 2tbsp fresh oregano, minced)

paprika (1tbsp dried)

2tsp salt (kosher*)

2tsp black pepper (freshly ground; use more if you do not grind it yourself)

1/2 to 1tsp cayenne pepper (ground; if you can’t tolerate spicy heat do not use more than 1/2tsp. You’ve been warned!!)

1/3cup of white wine vinegar (you can use regular vinegar instead)

olive oil (extra virgin)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan (about 1tbsp).

Mix everything except the chicken and the olive oil together in a large bowl (big enough to hold the chicken).

Remove excess fat from the chicken. You can remove the skin as well if you’d like to further reduce fat. Rinse the chicken and pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Place in the large bowl. Turn the chicken around in the mixture to coat thoroughly. If you’ve got time, let the mixture marinate in the fridge for an hour or two.

Spread evenly on the roasting pan. (Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the top if you removed the skin or if you used chicken breast.) Bake in the oven until the juices run clear or the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which should be about 30-45 minutes). Remove from the oven and let it sit for at least 5 minutes (especially if you cooked chicken breast; trust me, the meat will be juicier).

You can use the drippings to make a sauce, but that’s a recipe for another day.

Bon appetit!!

* Note: I am on a low sodium diet (really more people should be). I use kosher salt because it has a less harsh flavor than table salt. The amount of spices I cook with more than makes up for the reduced amount of salt, but if you like you could add more salt to your liking.