Cooking Cravings- Butter Lettuce + Blue Cheese + Cayenne Candied Walnuts

I wanted to love this salad, with that….I make a whole hell of a lot of salads like this, I pick a lettuce, add a fruit, a cheese and a candied nut. Sometimes I throw spices on the nuts but I never make them spicy spicy.

It lost me with the lettuce. Butter lettuce is just too delicate, especially paired with crispy apple and nuts. Maybe grapes would be a better choice? Or just stick with a spring mix blend of lettuce and herbs. The other thing that didn’t work for me was the vinaigrette. It was a tad bitter, it need a bit of sweetness so next time I will add some honey.

All said and done, this is a good salad but for me who makes them daily, not good enough. Although the walnuts can be eaten every damn day, so good!


Dressing Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


1 large head of butter or Boston lettuce, separated into leaves, larger leaves torn
Apple, halved and cut into thin slices- I used Fuji
1/2 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
1/2 cup cayenne-candied walnuts

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, blue cheese, shallot, salt, and pepper.

In a salad bowl, combine the lettuce, apple, and onion. Drizzle in the dressing to taste, toss lightly, and top with the cayenne-candied walnuts.


Pizza and Pumpkins

Friday evening Kaili was invited over to a friends house to pick a pumpkin. My friend has a serious green thumb and I feel like a bad human being when I go to her house because her backyard is like a little farm and I can’t even grow tomatoes in a container.

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Saturday I found myself with leftover blue cheese and Pears from our Farm Fresh delivery. I knew that I wanted to put them on a pizza with some arugula because I heart arugula . Sprouts didn’t have any pre-made pizza dough, are they done with that? So I was forced to make my own. I used this Martha Stewart recipe that only required an hour rise time, perfect.


Preheat oven to 450.

Once the dough was rolled out i brushed garlic + olive oil onto the dough and baked it for a few minutes. Then I threw on some mozzarella, crumbled blue cheese, roasted pears and red onions and baked for 10 minutes, toss on some arugula and return to oven for a few more minutes.

I would actually recommend using gorgonzola instead of blue. The cheese was so strong that it overpowered the other flavors.

Caramelized Onion, Brie and Blue Cheese Pizza

I have been on the hunt for the best pizza dough recipe. The last time I made a Cooks Illustrated 24-hour-cold-rise dough recipe, and it was good but it was a bit of a process to make. This time I tried this recipe from Bon Appetit. [Dad, you would be proud!] This is by far the best home-made pizza crust I have ever had. Thin, chewy, crispy and tastes like REAL pizza crust.

I came across a recipe for a caramelized onion, Brie and gorgonzola tart made with puff pastry. I thought that sounded pretty damn good but even better on homemade pizza dough. So that is what I did and it was AMAZING! I am talking fancy-shmancy-top restaurant- style pizza.

*Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes


Pizza dough

2 Tbsp olive oil

4 cups of sliced onions, sliced root-to-top in thin slices

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 oz chilled Brie cheese, rind removed and diced

2 oz crumbled blue cheese

1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme


Heat pizza stone in a 500 degree oven for 45 minutes. Meanwhile,Heat oil in a large deep pan on medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes or until wilted and starting to brown. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cook gently, uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until richly caramelized. Add a little water if the onions look like they are starting to dry out. Cool.

Roll out pizza dough and measure to fit your pizza stone.

Take out the pizza stone, reduce oven to 450 and quickly put your pizza dough onto the stone. Sprinkle the onions all over your dough, dot with both cheeses and bake for 14-16 minutes.  Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and thyme. Let cool for a few minutes if you can wait, cut and enjoy!

Prepared to be wowed!