Friday, April 11, 2014

LOOKING FORWARD

















I’ve attempted to write a recipe post all week long, and quite frankly my heart hasn't been in it. 

Billy came home from golf on Saturday and told me that there was to be a big announcement at church on Sunday and that he didn’t think that it was anything good…so of course he Googled it…if you happen to be hanging with Billy, and a topic comes up that needs clarification, you can always count on him to get out his phone and Google it!  As he showed me what he found my heart sank and I felt a little sick.  Our pastor was resigning due to “moral failings”.  I so didn’t want this to be true, but somehow I knew that it was.  I don’t say that I knew because I had any clue beforehand, but because I know that my pastor is but a man.

Sunday morning as one of the associate pastors, Pastor Chet gave a message on faith, preparing the church for what was to come that afternoon, I felt as though I were in mourning; and I was.  I was mourning the loss of innocence for our church.  I mourned for those who would be devastated because they had mistakenly put the pastor on a pedestal.  I mourned for his wife and the kids whose lives had been turned upside down and inside out.  It was announced that there would be a Family Meeting later that afternoon; while the announcement had been quite vague, it was obvious that everyone at the meeting already suspected what was about to go down.  The announcement was made and a letter from the pastor was read.  There were hugs and tears, even some anger, as we all left the church grounds knowing that this church would not be the same.

I’m just gonna be blunt, what our pastor did is inexcusable; as a Christian and as a pastor he is held to a higher standard as he should be cuz he knows better, and also because it’s also biblical (1 Timothy 3).  While my pastor’s sin is inexcusable (and in no way has he been excused), it is not unforgivable!

God used our pastor as a tool to build this good church.  Our pastor insisted that we not idolize any pastor; he encouraged us to learn our bible, so that we could be sure that what the pastor was teaching is biblical; more importantly he emphasized that a relationship with Jesus was what mattered above all else!  My pastor and his family gave and sacrificed so much for their church, which became a strong church; that is rooted in Jesus!  I love my pastor, and I also want to punch him really hard in the arm.  I love his wife for sharing so much of herself and her life with us.  I love their kids for sharing their parents with us and for all the great stories that they may or may not know that we know!

Every difficult thing or experience that I’ve ever been through has helped to shape me and to get me where I am now, and while many of them I don’t want to experience again, I’m grateful for those experiences.  I know that the same is for the church.  God was not caught unawares and He will use this for His glory, which I believe will result in an even stronger church. 

This is what I read yesterday morning:  Luke 9:62 “No one having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I am no longer mourning the past, but looking forward so that I will see the amazing things that God has in store for this church, His church!  Thank you Jesus that You are our Shepherd!



Thursday, April 3, 2014

MEXICAN PIZZA plus CORNMEAL PIZZA DOUGH




When you hear Mexican Pizza do you think of pizza piled high with ground beef, and smothered with cheddar cheese and sour cream?  Well this ain’t that pizza!  For me cheddar cheese has no business being on a pizza and don’t even get me started on the sour cream and pizza that is piled high with toppings gives me the willies!  I admit it, I am a pizza snob!

Pizza has to have the right toppings to crust ratio, if there are too many toppings the crust will get soggy and then you have no choice but to eat it with a knife and fork…half of the fun of pizza is that you get to eat it with your hands!

While homemade crust is superior to any other, one can still make a pretty good pizza using store bought pizza shells.  Having said that, this cornmeal pizza dough creates a crust that is soft in the middle, crisp on the bottom, and cornmeal gives it just a little crunch and just a hint of corn flavor, and if you have the time, you should definitely make it! 

Sweet corn and mildly spicy poblano peppers are meant to be, they go perfectly with spicy and slightly sweet chorizo sausage, and together they are the stars of this Mexican Pizza. 

I am a great cheese lover so I will never, ever use low-fat or fat-free cheese, never ever!  What I will do to cut the fat is to use a little of a stronger flavored cheese, such as Cotija or Ricotta salata, and then use less mozzarella; this way there is still lots of cheesy flavor but I don’t feel like I’m getting missing out.  If you happen to like low-fat cheese, you go ahead and use it, cuz I’m not the boss of you!

Speaking of being the boss, I do hope that I don’t sound like I’m being bossy about your pizza.  I guess I’m more passionate about pizza than I realized!  Pizza should be fun, so do whatever the heck you like.  If you wanna use store bought pizza shells, go ahead, if you want 3 pounds of cheese on your pizza, knock yourself out; but you should definitely make this pizza…you’ll be glad you did!


Here’s what you do.
In a large bowl combine only 2 cups of the bread flour, cornmeal, sugar, yeast and salt.

Stir in some warm water and olive oil.

This dough is still too sticky.
 
If that happens mix in more flour 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it's smooth and elastic.
 
Put the dough into a bowl that's been coated in olive oil and cover it with plastic wrap.
 
Allow the dough to rise until it's doubled in size, which takes about an hour.





It's not necessary, but  making the dough the night before and letting it rise in the refrigerator overnight, or even for a few hours, allows the yeast to ferment and creates a more flavorful dough.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator 45 minutes to an hour before you want to use it.



The toppings:  Chorizo sausage, which has been browned but not completely cooked through, thawed corn, roasted zucchini and onions which I purchased from the salad bar at the grocery store, a diced poblano pepper that's been tossed in just a tiny bit of olive oil, mozzarella cheese and ricotta salata cheese.


I use a pizza stone to bake my pizza, so I need a peel to transfer the pizza to and from the pizza stone.  

The peel must be generously covered with cornmeal.


Cut that risen dough in half for two large pizzas, or quarters for individual pizzas.
 

Working one at a time, coat the dough in olive oil.

 
Putting the mozzarella cheese on the bottom helps to keep the crust from being soggy.
 


Distribute the toppings evenly over the mozzarella.  

This pizza has the chorizo sausage only on one half cuz that's how we roll in my house.
  

Top with Ricotta Salata or Cotija cheese.

By using flavorful cheeses I can use less cheese over all and not feel like I'm missing out on anything.
 


Bake until the crust is deep brown on the edges and the cheese is melted; and then get ready for the party that's about to happen in your mouth!



MEXICAN  PIZZA

Makes 2 large pizzas

½             lb.           Chorizo sausage, removed from its casing (about 2 links)
1                            Poblano pepper which has been coated with ½ tsp of olive oil, medium dice
                             Olive oil
8              oz.          Grated Mozzarella cheese
¾             cup         Corn kernels, fresh or frozen corn which has been thawed
1              cup         Zucchini, medium dice (that has been roasted, sautéed or grilled)
1              cup         Onion, medium diced (I used roasted onions, but raw is also fine)
¼             cup         Cilantro leaves
1              cup         Grated Cotija or Ricotta Salata cheese
                             Pizza dough for 2 pizzas

1. To preheat oven: if using fresh pizza dough and a pizza stone heat the stone according to the directions that came with your stone (mine is 450 degrees).  If using a sheet pan (be sure to grease that pan) heat the oven to 425.  If using packaged dough, heat according to the package directions.

2.  Break the sausage up into bite sized pieces and add it to a medium skillet; cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, cooking the sausage only about half way through, this will render out most of the fat.  Remove the sausage to a plate which has been lined with paper towel.

3.  Drizzle olive oil over the pizza dough (which has been rolled out or shaped), just enough to coat the entire crust.  Sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese over the dough, and then layer on the chorizo sausage, corn, poblano pepper, zucchini, onion, and cilantro.  Sprinkle the Cotija or Ricotta Salata cheese over the top.

4.  Bake until the crust is browned and the cheese has melted.

Notes:  *I prefer pizza without a lot of cheese, but if you like it cheesy you will need to double the amount of mozzarella.
**Purchasing grilled veggies from the salad bar at your grocery store makes for light work! 



Cornmeal Pizza Dough gives the dough a bit of crunch and a slight corn taste which is delicious for Mexican Pizza.

CORNMEAL PIZZA DOUGH

Makes 2 large, or 4 individual pizzas

2 to 3       cups        Bread flour
1              cup         Cornmeal, medium grind
1              tsp.         Sugar
1              packet     Yeast
2              tsp.         Salt
1 ½          cups        Warm water (from the tap is fine)
3              Tbsp.       Olive oil

1.  Combine 2 cups of the bread flour, cornmeal, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl.  Add the water and olive oil and stir until combined.  If the dough is sticking to the bowl, add more flour ¼ cup at a time until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

2.  Turn the dough out on to a surface which has been generously dusted with flour (a wooden surface works best) and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic (you could also use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and let the machine do all the work).  Place the dough in a bowl which has been greased with olive oil, and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

3.  Divide the dough into the desired portion size, stretch or roll it out, top it and bake it!

Notes:  *You may use all-purpose flour in place of the bread flour, it will still be good, it will just change the texture.
**The dough is most flavorful if you’re able to refrigerate it overnight; in which case it will be removed from the refrigerator about 1 hour before you need it.


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This recipe was shared at:
The Weekend Potluck