Homemade Sushi

The summer is always fun and busy for me (and everyone else), but for me and my friends, the summer is also birthday season!! Four of my best friends from college and I celebrate birthdays, all within a month of one another, and we always take some time out of our busy lives to celebrate together. Last year we did something big for everyone’s birthday, but this year, with our busy schedules, we had to get a bit more creative with our time.

My friend Nikki celebrated her birthday at the end of July and since she loves to cook and loves sushi, we thought we would have a sushi making party and make our own sushi! Getting the supplies was not an easy task, but once we found everything we needed we were excited and ready to experiment.

We decided to make a spicy tuna roll, a bagel maki roll and a shrimp and avocado roll. We started with making the rice, which was an interesting task. You have to soak the rice in water and mix it around until the water is no longer murky. The rice takes almost an hour to make from start to finish and if you don’t do it properly, your rice won’t be sticky enough to make the rolls.

While I was making the rice, the other girls were making the spicy sauce, avocado mix and the bagel maki cream cheese mix. I will spare you the recipes that I used because I haven’t had a craving for Sushi since this night, and I used to crave sushi almost daily. Let’s just say that after all was said and done, I prefer to have someone else make my sushi. Not only is it worth every penny, but it tastes better and doesn’t make me queasy.

Maybe I should take a hint from my blog name and stick to my roots…Anyway, here are a few pictures of my failed Kitchen Adventure.

Add the rice to half of a seaweed sheet

Add the insides, roll and enjoy!

This just does not look appetizing, but it tasted a little better than it looks! (not much though…)

In other news, Ryan was nice enough to buy me a new camera for my birthday so I will be able to finally share some MUCH better pictures of my kitchen adventures in the future. Stay tuned for a recap of another Big Fat Italian Wedding soon! My cousin Nick got married last weekend and I can’t wait to share some pictures of the night. Trust me, this was nothing short of a crazy Italian wedding!

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Quick and Easy Homemade Pizza

Growing up, I used to eat homemade pizza at my Grandma’s house and I have always wanted to make some of my own. I’ve never made the time to get around to it and after making it the other weekend, am not sure why I thought it was such a daunting task! My Dad’s family is rather large and we used to get together every Thursday for Spaghetti dinners. My Grandma would make her homemade bread and everyone would gather round her table (which was not big enough for the 16 kids and 20 something Grandkids). After those Thursday dinners she would sometimes have leftover dough to make these amazing pizzas. Those Thursday dinners and homemade pizzas are some of my earliest, and favorite, memories from my childhood. It was a true Italian family – and you could feel the roots of our Italian culture that had been implanted in the core of our family. I felt special to have such a large family who took time out every week to stop and appreciate one another and share some laughs over homemade pasta and bread. Isn’t that what happens in Italian families and what movies are made around?

It might have been my childish sense of perfection, but those Thursday nights just seemed so joyful. Perfect, actually.  I am sure there were the fights that there are now and the bitterness you can still sometimes sense when we all gather – but that comes with a large family and it helps you to continue to bond with each other. You fight hard and love even harder. I think Caroline from the Real Housewives of New Jersey said that in an episode once, and I could not agree more.

I miss those loud, crowded, hectic and fun nights eating with the people I love, so whenever I get the chance to create a meal with my family or friends, I cherish it. Living in Chicago, I am away from my large Italian family, but I’m lucky because I have a small little family here and we often get together to make dinners and enjoy each others company. A few Sunday’s ago we  decided to grab some dough from Trader Joe’s (which is only 99 cents) and make homemade pizza! It was SO easy and some of the best pizza I’ve had. I definitely think it is worth it to do this instead of ordering pizza or getting a pizza to go.

Pepperoni Pizza

1 package Trader Joe’s pizza dough

1 package shredded mozzarella Cheese

2 cups of my quick sauce (add oregano and basil to taste while cooking)

1 package pepperoni

Parmesan Cheese

Follow the directions on the back of the Trader’s Joe dough package. Once the dough is ready and rolled out, spread the sauce from end to end (put as much as you would like). Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese, add the pepperoni and put it in the oven! It is THAT simple!

Nikki rolling out the pizza dough!

Me attempting to spin the dough in the air…I failed miserably!

White Spinach Pizza

1 package Trader Joe’s pizza dough

1 package shredded mozzarella cheese

2 cups white sauce

  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 carton heavy whipping cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • Dash oregano

Spinach (however much you would like!)

Mushrooms (optional)

White Sauce:

In a medium sauce pan, heat butter and garlic until garlic is translucent. Add 4 1/2 tsp flour and mix with a whisk until well blended. Add in the heavy whipping cream and continue to whisk until sauce thickens. If it’s not thickening, add in the remaining flour and continue to whisk. Once the sauce starts to thicken, add in the parmesan (slowly), salt and pepper, to taste.

Pizza:

Follow the directions on the back of the Trader’s Joe dough package. Once the dough is ready and rolled out, spread the sauce from end to end (put as much as you would like). Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese, add the spinach and mushrooms and put it in the oven! Yes, it really is that simple!

The pizzas turned out amazing! I like to make my dough homemade, when I can, but with how simple and delicious these pizzas turned out, I don’t see the point in making your own pizza dough. AND each dough package was 99 cents! So cheap and so worth it! Next time I am craving pizza, instead of ordering out or picking up a Homemade Pizza Co. pizza, I’m going to consider just making my own!