My Christmas Story

This Christmas Eve I made homemade pizzas…


I served it with, the usual, Halibut Stew ( due to my vestibular problem, Mark made the stew–and he overcooked it.  We forgave him and moved on) .   I usually make foccacia bread to go with, but this year I was craving fresh pizza.  Everybody seemed to enjoy it.



½ c warm water (110 degrees)

1 envelope or 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast

1 ¼ c water room temperature

2 Tbsp x tra virgin olive oil

4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour plus more for dusting work surface and hands NOTE: I prefer to weigh the flour

1 ½ tsp salt

Olive oil or non stick cooking spray


Pizza stone –preheat in oven

1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in yeast and let stand until dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

2. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor, pulsing to combine. Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few Tbsps.) through the feed tube. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic about 30 seconds longer.

3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto your lightly floured work surface.. Knead by hand for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough in a deep oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate. It is now ready to use.

Divide ball into 3 pieces and Flatten pieces into a disk.

This should make enough dough for approx. 3- 12″ pizza crusts

NOTES: when working your dough, do not stretch. Use your fingertips to press it out from the center into the shape of your pan or stone. Press it out until its about ½” thick.

Place pizza stone in lower third of oven. Heat oven and stone to 500 degrees for about 30 minutes. Then dust stone with cornmeal.

Lightly brush your prepared crust with olive oil.

Layer on pizza sauce and toppings as you like.

Bake 8-12 minutes Cut and serve immediately.

Angelnina’s Tomato Sauce (Adapted from New best Recipe)

1 -28 ounce can whole tomatoes, Italian preferable san marzano

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

½ tsp or more crushed red pepper

½ teaspoon greek oregano, dried and crushed between your palms

½ tsp sweet basil, dried and crushed between your palms

Process tomatoes in food processor pulse 1 second pulses about 8 times or more till smooth.

Heat oil add chopped garlic and crushed red pepper, don’t let it burn or turn color! Just give it a good 30 seconds or less to release the aroma of garlic. Immediately stir in tomatoes, add all seasonings and cook uncovered until thickens a bit to cover a wooden spoon.

NOTE: I use dried herbs because they better suit this sauce. You may add your fresh basil to the pizza and it will taste even better!

I made Ina Garten’s Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake for dessert.  MAN OH MAN, Ina got it right with this recipe!


It tastes just like Christmas Eve.

For the cake:
Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake
1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup grated orange zest (4 large oranges)
3 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup  freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup   buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups   good semisweet chocolate chunks

For the syrup

1/4 cup   sugar
1/4 cup  freshly squeezed orange juice

For the ganache

8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup   heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.
3. Sift together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 2 tablespoons flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.
5. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.
Christmas was lovely this year.   My son, Sean,  and his girlfriend, Olivia, stayed the night at our home.   Sean hasn’t spent the night at home since he moved out, more three years ago.

To read and see more food, family, and recipes, CLICK BELOW….

Sean and Olivia are both Taurus–just like me!   We Taurus like to eat, so this year our gift theme was kitchen and dining  items.


Olivia is holding one of my “favorite things” in her hand.  They are the Mario Batali prep measuring bowls.  “Santa” left them in her stocking.  If you don’t have a set, run out and buy one–you won’t regret it.  I have two sets!

I don’t think the kids know how well I listen when they tell me things they need for the kitchen.  I remembered every item they named –even the exact set of dishes they liked!

They sacked out in the den, on the futon.  Giovanni was thrilled.   He knows Sean is the “fun guy”.  Play time!


Giovanni adores Sean.  I caught them kissing in bed!


The following morning, I awakened to a picture perfect Christmas morning.   It was snowing and everything felt peaceful.


ABOVE: Taken from my dining room window

I tiptoed into the kitchen trying not wake the kids.  I put on the tea and started the biscuits for breakfast.  It didn’t take long before Olivia was rising and stretching.  She asked me what I was doing, and I told her I was making biscuits for some southern biscuits and gravy!  She instantly asked if I would teach her, so I handed her the pastry blender.  It was a lot of fun having her in the kitchen with me.  Olivia is a great help, and she makes a mean biscuit!




Art Smith’s Boarding House Biscuits

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons bakind powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cup buttermilk

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400F.

Whisk the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, ba,ing soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly with a few pea-size pieces of  butter. Stir in enough of the buttermilk to make a soft, sticky dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Quickly knead the dough just until comes together; do not overknead. Pat or roll out the dough until it is 1/2 inch thick. Using a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Gather up the scraps, nead briefly, and repeat until all the dough has een used.

Bake until golden brown, about 18 minutes.


My  Sausage Gravy is easy.

1/2 pound Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage

1/4 cup flour

2 cups milk

Brown sausage, stir in flour until combined.  Add milk and stir until thickened.  salt and pepper.

Mark whipped up some– fresh from the chicken coop–scrambled eggs, and a few skillets of hash browns.

I cooked the bacon and the Creme Brulee French Toast (I add shopped pecans to the butter and brown sugar mixture!), in the oven.

Later, we drank some spiked hot cocoa and watched a movie.

After lounging around most of the day, it was time to start dinner.  I wanted a Southwest Mexican dinner, so we made Tyler Florence’s Southwest Chicken Enchiladas and were they ever good!

Get Southwest Chicken Enchilada Recipe Here

I made some Mexican red rice –inspired by Frida’s Mexican Cookbook.

1 cup long grain rice

1  1/3 cups chicken stock

Tbsp tomato paste

1/2 lime juice


Cover raw rice with hot water and let sit for 15 minutes.

Drain and rinse rice.

Put well drained rice in a large skillet with 3 Tbsp hot oil.  Stir and cook until it feels like stirring sand.

Add tomato paste and stir in well.  Add chicken stock and lime juice.  Bring to a boil,  cover, reduce heat, cook about

20 minutes.

I also made fresh guacamole and homemade ham and pinto beans we had soaked the night before.


The day after Christmas, we had to pick up the kids to take them to the airport.

Their parking lot was snowed in, so they had to haul their luggage through snow and slush.


It was very slippery.


This is the sad part.

I waved goodbye to my one and only son as he prepared to board a plane to Paris, France.  I’m so happy he has Olivia.  They are great together.


Olivia’s famous smile.  I love that smile.

Bon Voyage and have a blast in Europe kids!

Oh, and most importantly–Bon Appetit!


10 thoughts on “My Christmas Story

  1. Everything looks so GOOD!

    I’m so happy you had a peaceful Christmas. And so happy Sean has Olivia. She is a great girl. I hope they have a wonderful time in France.

    That cake from Ina looks AMAZING!

    I just did a very simple recipe from Giada De Laurentis that I think you and Mark might like. We loved it.

    Happy New Year Anita, one of the things I’m most grateful for this year is to have you back in my life.

  2. That was great food for a wonderful family. Glad you got to spend time with Sean and Olivia before they flew to France.

    The recipes look easy to make and easy to enjoy.
    Thank you so much and Happy New Year!

  3. Oh my, what a wonderful post.. full of food… great food. The recipes are all things I have been wanting to make! I could make myself a nice cookbook with your recipes!

    I didn’t know Sean was leaving right after Christmas. … reading it made me teary. I feel for ya. … Paris! wow. I am envious of them. To be young, in love, in Paris.. wow.

    I love the snow you have floating down this page! perfect.

  4. Pingback: More of My Favorite Things « Angelnina’s Cottage

  5. I need the pizza recipe! I couldn’t find it!
    Mark and I want to make homemade pizza. The economy is getting us into the cooking homemade mood!!!
    Your blogs are so cool! I wish you would video yourself. I want to see you make bread. We also want to make bread!
    Your sis,

  6. I clicked the “notify me of follow up comments via email”.
    Does that mean I will get an email of your pizza recipe??????
    Hope so!

  7. Pingback: Shopping in Bulk~Fresh Mozzarella~ Stuffed Shells and Paninis « Angelnina’s Cottage

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