Monthly Archives: July 2011

Pizza Time – how to make the best pizza dough

Of course you can always buy our flatbreads, *Pesto and Cheese Flatbread or Verdura Gourmet Artisan Flatbread with Kalamata Olives.

But if you have some time, making your own pizza dough is so satisfying, easy and tasty!

I’m going to give you two methods; leavened and non-leavened. Traditionally a pizza dough is leavened, using yeast. But a simple dough can also be used. If you have the time, use the leavened version, you’ll be happier.

If you practice, you can get as good as this guy:

Version one- Leavened

1 1/2 Cups – Warm Water (110-115 F)
2 Tbsp. – Sugar
1 Envelope – Active Dry Yeast
1 1/2 Tsp. – Salt
2 Tbsp. – Oil
4 Cups – White all-purpose flour

Pour the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and package of yeast. Stir the mixture until dissolved. Let sit to for about ten minutes.

Add the salt and oil and stir again to combine the ingredients. Add 1 cup of flour and whisk in until dissolved. Add the second cup of flour and whisk it in. Add the 3rd cup of flour and combine. By now the dough mixture should be fairly thick. Add the last cup and flour and, with your hands, begin to combine and knead the dough.

You may need to add a dusting of flour from time to time to reduce the stickiness of the dough. Be patient, folding the dough ball in half and then quarters, over and over again for perhaps 5 to 8 minutes. You may wish to remove the dough ball to a tabletop to knead it. You’ll know you’ve done well when the ball no longer sticks to your hands. It will become a smoothly-textured ball slightly larger than a large grapefruit.

Coat the dough ball with a thin layer of olive oil, and place it in the bottom of a large mixing bowl which has also been coated on the inside with olive oil. Stretch a piece of kitchen film over the top of the bowl and set it in a warm place such an as a microwave. Allow the dough to rise, undisturbed, for 60 to 75 minutes. The dough will have grown to at least twice its original size.

Take the dough out of the bowl and cut in half with a knife. You now have two pizza dough balls, enough to make two (2) 12″ deluxe pizzas. Take each raw dough portion and hand-mold them into balls. Smoothing the outer surface, tuck each ball into itself from underneath.

No need for a second rising, just roll it out, throw on your toppings and cook in a hot (425 degree) oven until the bottom is cooked and the toppings are hot and bubbly.

Version two- Unleavened


1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups water
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour


1. In a large mixing bowl*, combine the oil, honey, salt, eggs, and water. Stir until well-mixed. Stir in about 4 cups of the flour, then add more flour as needed and knead into a fairly stiff dough. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Divide dough into 8 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a circle about 8′.  Make it as thin as possible, about like a pie dough. Place on lightly-greased baking sheets and bake for about 6 minutes, until lighttly browned and not doughy.

3. Take them out and add sauce, cheese and your favorite ingredients. Don’t get too heavy-handed, this dough wants a light sprinkling of cheese, a little sauce and about 2 other ingredients. Some fresh chopped basil after cooking is a great touch. Pop them back in the oven for about 10 more minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Serves 8


Five Foods that taste good and are good for you

The cookie monster raps about healthy food!!

    1. Salmon like’s new Seared Salmon -4 ounces of baked or broiled salmon contains about 2 grams of omega-3 fats. Omega-3 is associated with decreased risk of numerous cardiovascular problems,enhances brain power, and supports joint cartilage. It also is good for the eyes, and may decrease cancer risk. A wonder food that tastes great!!
    2. Almonds – Full of omega 6, omega 9, dietary fiber, and proteins, almonds are knowm to help lower cholestrerol levels. They’re also an excellent source of Vitamin E and minerals such as magnesium, calcium  and phosphorus. They are high in fat, so keep your portions down, but they are an excellent good food!
    3. Carrots– Toss them with a little oil to roast or grill them, which brings out their sweetness. Or order’s Buttered Carrots in a healthy broth/butter mixture. Carrots are  good sources of vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin K, biotin, fiber, potassium and thiamine. They can help prevent certain cancers, improve your vision(yes, mom was right!), prevent heart disease, reduce the risk of stroke, nourish the skin and keep you looking younger!
    4. Bell Peppers -Sweet and crunchy, they are great as a snack, on sandwiches, or tossed into a stir-fry or a pasta. And they’re good for you as well. With a load of antioxidants to keep yout arteries, nerves and tissues healthy, they contain a lot of vitamin A to protect your vision and stave off Macular degeneration. Bell peppers also may reduce cardiovascular disease and prevent colon cancer. Not bad for such a delicious food.
    5. Watermelon- one of my favorite foods is right up there in the best foods you can eat. Watermelon is thirst-quenching, crunchy, sweet and absolutely delicious. It may also help lower the inflammation that contributes to conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and arthritis. It also contains Lycopene which has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties.

So there they are, the first five foods that taste good and are good for you. More to come in the coming weeks.

Melody, Blogger


Graham’s Foundation has long recognized the challenges new parents face to get nutritious, tasty meals on the table with ease while caring for their newborn baby. Since 2009 we’ve partnered with Graham’s Foundation, a charitable foundation for parents of micro-preemie babies, to offer even greater support to a niche population of new parents.

The founders of Graham’s Foundation, Nick and Jennifer Hall, know firsthand the roller coaster ride of emotions and challenges that having and raising a preemie baby bring; they experienced the struggles themselves when their twins Graham and Reece were born at just 25 weeks gestation. Reece survived after 4 months in the Neonatal Care Unit but the couple lost Graham after just 45 days. Today, the foundation that carries his namesake seeks to ease the burdens of parents of micro-preemies by providing care packages that offer practical and emotional support during parents stays at the NICU.

Today Nick says:

In addition to the pain and the stresses of having a daughter or son born far too soon, whether that amazing baby is struggling to survive or thriving against all odds, there is a practical side to being the parent of a micro-preemie. While there are those fortunate fathers and mothers who have backgrounds in medicine or child development and feel comfortable with the medical paraphernalia, treatments, and therapies that become an important part of the lives of families with micro-preemies, many parents have never even heard of micro-preemies before being introduced to their own.

In the past, we have called parenting a micro-preemie an isolating experience. It can also be a confusing one. The needs of babies and children born too soon are unique, and seldom mentioned in childcare manuals or on websites geared toward new parents. A micro-preemie will have her own health needs. She’ll meet milestones on her own terms and in her own time. Her parents will hear dictionary’s worth of medical jargon in her first year alone, and when she’s released from the NICU, it may feel like she’s bringing half of it home with her.

That’s why the mission of Graham’s Foundation now goes beyond the NICU. From the beginning, we have endeavored to let parents with extremely premature infants in the hospital know that they aren’t alone in what they’re facing. Over time, however, as we have connected with more and more parents of micro-preemies of all ages, we began testing ways to connect micro-preemie parents with their peers and to become a source of support for families who have left the NICU, but not necessarily the turmoil and uncertainty, behind.

Right now, on our Facebook page, new parents of micro-preemies are connecting with one another, asking each other questions and answering them. Our Twitter feed is keeping some up to date on new issues facing those caring for micro-preemies. We’re developing care packages that are geared toward the needs of parents making the joyful but tough transition from NICU to home. And we’re out there, online and in the real world, raising awareness so that someday all parents of micro-preemie know that help, support, and someone who understands what they are facing are all just a phone call, a click, or an email away.


Ten great kitchen gadgets

Our chefs have lots of gadgets in their kitchens to make their professional lives easier. Most of theirs are gadgets for professional kitchens, but these cool toys will make your kitchen a more enjoyable place to be!

Here’s a fun video about it, but we think we can come up with even better ideas:

  1. Instant-read Thermometer – No more losing the heat in your oven or BBQ, poke this little guy into your meat and get an instant reading. Great for our Best-selling Chicken Ana Luisa.
  2. Picnic Time Metro Collapsible Insulated Basket – Great for taking out a picnic of favorites
  3. Citrus Squeezers – These are ideal for squeezing a lime into a cool refreshing drink, or for squeezing a lot of lime juice at a time.
  4. Grill Surface Thermometer – Lay it right on your grill and know for sure what the temperature is!
  5. Julienne Peeler – These handy little gadgets take vegetables like carrots, cucumber, zucchini, potatoes and also fruits and julienne them into long strips!
  6. Salad Dressing Emulsifier – If you’re like me, in the middle of making supper you never have time to drizzle oil into vinegar while you whisk, whisk whisk to make a perfect emulsion. These handy gadgets do it in seconds!

  8. Microplane – When I was a carpenter’s assistant, we used these to smooth wood, but chefs have discovered that they’re the best graters around. Good for hard cheeses, nutmeg, lemon zest, chocolate, ginger and garlic.
  9. Corn Stripper – these handy little gadgets strip the corn cleanly from the husk. Or you could buy’s tasty fresh cut corn medley.
  10. Silicone Cupcake molds – These cute little things mean no more paper cupcake cups, and no more sticking cupcakes! They come in different shapes, too.
  11. Coverflex Reusable food covers- Kick the plastic habit with these silicone covers – they stretch to fit over all kinds of dishes and bowls and can go from oven to fridge to freezer to table. Might be kind of perfect for those leftovers.

Melody, blogger


Summer Cocktail Ideas

Ahh summertime! Our minds turn to lounging by the sea, drinking colorful icy concoctions, eating delicious bites of cool food. Here are some cocktail recipes for summer, and the meals they will complement! Leave out the alcohol and these will be virgin drinks!

  1. The ever popular Margarita. This was not actually invented in Mexico, but in L.A.! Nevertheless, it is served everywhere in Mexico and widely associated with that
    shrimp burrito
    Shrimp Burrito

    country. Here’s my recipe, with the secret ingredient to make it perfect! Put in a good strong blender: 1 shot white (silver) tequila, 2 shots fresh-squeezed lime juice, 1 shot triple sec, 1 shot simple syrup (or a packet of Equal or another sweetener), 1 cup ice and…here’s the secret…1 shot of orange juice. Blend until pureed, and pour into a glass rimmed with salt. Drink this with the oh-so Mexican Shrimp Burrito for a summery brunch.

  2. Long Island Iced Tea – be careful, this one is dangerous! Tastes like iced tea but packs a punch! In a tall glass  filled with ice, combine:
    • 1/2 oz. Vodka
    • 1/2 oz. Gin
    • 1/2 oz. Rum
    • 1/2 oz. Tequila
    • 1/2 oz. Triple Sec
    • 1 oz.Sweet & Sour
    • Top with Coke

    You’ll want to nibble on something with this- try’s Blue Crabcakes.

  3. Mojito: This one requires fresh mint. Muddle (crush) the mint in the bottom of a cocktail shaker or a large glass. I prefer to have the taste of the mint without having it in the glass, so now I add a shot of white rum, a half-shot of simple syrup and a shot of lime juice to the mix. Shake (Use a smaller glass inside the large one to simulate a cocktail mixer). Strain the mix out over ice, then fill the glass with soda. Decorate with a sprig of fresh mint.These fresh and refreshing drinks go well with a light dessert like Coffee cake bites.
  4. Last one-Gin Fizz. This is for a crowd. Get out a punch bowl or a large container of some kind. Mix the following ingredients:
  • 1  (2-liter) bottle lemon-lime flavored soda (7-Up, Sprite, store brand, your choice)
  • 1  (12-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 1/2  cup lime juice
  • 1/4  cup powdered sugar(confectioners’ sugar)
  • 2 1/4  cups gin

Serve over ice in tall glasses with a piece of lime. This would go wonderfully at a barbecue with our Prime Rib roast.

Enjoy summer, it’s all too short!

Melody, blogger


Senior Meal Plans

I’ve been writing a lot about senior meal plans lately, on various web pages. Senior nutrition is a really serious issue in the country. Other countries, too. Here’s a good video about how to cook for a senior.

You may have an elderly friend or relative that you visit regularly and worry about. You can cook for them, based on the video above, or have meals delivered. Of course meals on wheels is a well-known resource. We think’s  senior meal plans are a cut above.  There’s a large variety of meals, and two menus to choose from.

I don’t usually spend a whole blog concentrating on only, but I really think this senior meal plan is something to talk about. Here’s how it goes.

You call in and tell the person who answers the phone that you’re interested in a meal plan. The first thing you’ll find is that there’s no commitment! How many times will you see that in a meal plan? The staff member will talk you through the kinds of foods you like, and arrange to send an order. You’ll receive the order and try the meals, and then someone will follow up with you.

If you’re interested in establishing a meal plan, it goes on file with your likes and dislikes, things you’re allergic to, dietary needs. etc. And your meals will be hand-picked and sent out to you. OK. Sit back and be amazed. How many companies do that for you? It means if you don’t like broccoli (George Bush Sr.), you won’t get broccoli. Period.

You can call in and tell us that you didn’t particularly like a certain meal (or that you absolutely loved another), and that will be taken into account in future orders. Plus you get a discount on every shipment. Personal touches like that, in my opinion, make this senior meal plan better than any other. By the way, you don’t have to be a senior to take advantage of this!

Ok, you’re thinking. What if my circumstances change and I can’t afford the meals anymore? How much does it cost to stop them? Nothing. Call before the next order is placed and we will not send it or any subsequent order.

“But what if I go on vacation?” – no problem. Call and we’ll stop the meals for as long as you need. “What if I have been eating out or something and the meals are building up?” My, you worry a lot, don’t you? Again, no problem. Call us and ask us to cancel the next shipment and then start them up again.

That’s a lot of “no Problems”. But that’s how we roll around here. We really do care about the customer, and their needs. And when you call, you may get put on hold but you won’t hear, “If you want a meal plan, please press one. If you want to know our hours, please press 2”. Nope,a  real person will answer the phone and talk to you.

So maybe we’re some kind of a throwback, but that’s the way we like it. We think you will, too.

Melody, blogger


Another Enthusiastic Blog Review

Thanks to we were thrilled to try some of their products! I am so excited to tell you about this awesome company! offers a full menu of Gourmet frozen dinners and Gourmet TV Dinners delivered to your door. Founded in 2005, they have been revolutionizing the way busy Americans eat, with their chef-prepared frozen meals.

Chicken Marsala

They sent us lots of different items to try. We got 3 main course items. The Chicken Pot Pie, Eggplant Parmigiana, and their Chicken Marsala. The handmade Chicken Pot Pie was stuffed full of goodness surrounded by their golden, flaky pastry and so good. I am picky with Eggplant Parmigiana and this is the best one I have ever tried. The Chicken Marsala tasted better than any restaurant we’ve tried it at and was fantastic.

Lemon Risotto
Lemon Risotto

Next we got to try three sides. The Lemon Risotto, Rosemary Potatoes, and Stuffed Baked Potato. The Lemon Risotto was so wonderful, I can’t wait to order more of that. The Rosemary Potatoes and Stuffed Baked Potatoes were cooked to perfection and very flavorful.

We also got 3 yummy desserts. The Chocolate Cake, Panna Cotta, and the Gourmet Cupcakes Assortment. The Chocolate Cake and Gourmet Cupcakes were so moist and melted in our mouths. The Panna Cotta was my favorite dessert and brought over directly from Italy, so-ooo delicious!

This company is my dream come true! Perfect for the nights I don’t have time to cook and want a gourmet meal. You can get home-cooked goodness from so make sure and check them out! Bon Appetit!!

Thanks for the amazing food and customer service!


Healthy Eating Made Easier –and More Enjoyable

In addition to making meal time easier, supports a healthy lifestyle by providing a wide selection of delicious, wholesome meals. The menu of low sodium, diabetic, senior and portion control meals that we offer through our MK Meal Menu is particularly healthy. This summer, we’ve improved the quality and variety of these lines to offer health-conscious customers even more options to choose from. Our tempting lineup of new dishes includes a Grilled Rosemary Chicken dinner, Chili Con Carne, Pot Roast, Roast Pork, Basil Beef Stir Fry, Seared Flank Steak and Orange Glazed Pork Chops.

Last spring, we introduced a new extension to our MK Meals product line: Dialysis and Renal Meals. We designed the meals for customers who are on dialysis or in stages 3 or 4 of renal failure to keep them well fed during a challenging stage in their lives. We rolled out our initial menus in our summer catalog; among the options, you found Chicken In Wine Sauce, Grilled Salmon, Braised Short Rib, Baked Tilapia, Stuffed Peppers, Shrimp in Garlic Sauce and Baked Tilapia a la Mushrooms. .

This summer, we added Mango Ginger Mahi, Baked Cod with Lemon Caper Sauce, Crab Cakes, Shrimp Enchilada, Citrus Salmon, Chicken & Apple Curry, and Pepper Steak. For people hampered by special diets, taking care of yourself never tasted so good!

New Breakfast Bundle

With much encouragement from customers, we put together a bundle consisting solely of breakfasts. You will find Buttermilk Pancakes & Sausages, Egg Patties & Turkey Sausage, Western Omelet, fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes and Sausage again, Cheddar Cheese Omelet, Whole Wheat French Toast with Sausage, and a second course of Egg Patties & Turkey Sausage.

Ashley, writer