Summer Travel Survival Kit #Sponsored by Anker

The last day of school is officially here and if it isn't yet for the rest of you, it soon will be! Most of my summer will be spent chilling out by our little blue wading pool and enjoying the warm summer sun with my little man, but as always we have a fair amount of travel planned. We'll be starting with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Ireland! I'll be sharing more details about the trip (as well as a few fabulous Irish recipes) over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Before I kick off our summer plans I thought I'd take a minute to share the handful of items that come along with me when I travel to help keep me sane. I tend to pack light when I travel, so only the barest of necessities make it on the plane with me. I have a small bag that holds my camera, a sweater and change of clothing, as well as my toiletries, then a handful of items that I consider necessary to survival in the event my flight is delayed. So without further ado, here is what you'll find in my travel survival kit:

DISCLOSURE: Anker has provided me with a set of 6 foot USB cables for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.

DISCLOSURE: Anker has provided me with a set of 6 foot USB cables for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.

Kindle Paperwhite: I've always been an avid reader, so my kindle goes everywhere I do. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't make the time to read at least a few chapters. If you're curious, I'm currently working through two different time travel series: Jodi Taylor's the Chronicles of St. Mary's and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. I'm on a huge time travel kick right now!

Larabars: The key to keeping me happy and quiet during a long day at the airport is to stuff my mouth full and leave me alone to read my book in peace. This is why I keep a stash of treats in my bag. If you're a fan of pie (lets be honest, who isn't) then I'll suggest my favorites: Cherry PIe, Coconut Cream Pie, or Pecan Pie. You really can't go wrong with any flavor that ends in pie.

Anker PowerCore 10000mAh Charger: I've started carrying a portable charger for longer trips because there have been numerous occasions, especially during peak travel season, where I've been unable to find a charging station that's open. This one holds enough juice to charge my iPhone several times and still top off my kindle.

Anker Powerline+ 6 Foot Cables: I'm a huge fan of Anker products in general which is why I mention them so frequently on the blog, but these cables are fabulous and have held up to a lot of abuse. I normally keep a set of the 1 foot USB cables in my everyday carry bag (both Lightning and USB C) but I've discovered that the shorter cables aren't convenient for airport travel as they're not long enough to reach most of the charging stations—unless you want to remain standing the whole time. That's ok if you're only at the gate for 30 minutes and need a quick charge, but delays are commonplace these days and I frequently find myself stranded for hours. Another nice feature of the 6 foot cables is the magnetic pouch, it helps keep everything contained and makes it easy to adjust the length of the cables as necessary. 

Moleskine Journal and Pilot G-2 Ink Pen: I like to go technology free as much as possible on vacation, so I always carry a good notebook and my favorite ink pen for taking quick notes about potential recipe ideas or amazing food I've come across on my travels that I'd like to share with you. 

Do you have any must-have items when you travel? Make sure to comment below and let me know your favorites.
 


Disclosure


In an effort to be open with my readers I want to let you know that Anker has provided me with a set of USB cables for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.

This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

How to Regrow Green Onions

A few weeks ago we had friends come stay with us and one of them stopped me to ask what I had in the odd assortment of glass jars that line my kitchen counter. Any time I empty out a jam jar I repurpose it to regrow things like leeks and green onions from the scraps I have leftover. It cuts down on the grocery bill and ensures I always have them on hand to add a little extra flavor to my dishes. I can only imagine how odd my kitchen seems to most of my friends, some of whom can barely boil a pot of water, but to me it's just the way things have always been done. You save your bacon fat for frying, grow your own herbs in the windowsill, and stretch out the little odds and ends as long as possible.

But I can't take credit for these little things I do, most of my tips come from watching not just my grandparents, but others from the generation who grew up during the depression. They lived during a time where everyone grew their own food (or bartered for what they couldn't grow) and there was no choice but to be economical in the kitchen. Learning to make something from nothing wasn't an option, if you couldn't figure it out you and often your family starved.

Not a pretty picture, but true none the less.

Today things are quite different for most of us. When we want something to eat we can go out to a restaurant or pop into a grocery store and pick up the ingredients we need to make a meal fit for a king. If we don't know how to cook then there is someone on the internet willing to show us how. Technology has made it easier than ever for us to learn all sorts of things, but somewhere along the way we've forgotten to pass on some very basic lessons to our children.

Green Onions.jpg

One of those lessons is how to be thrifty, both in and out of the kitchen.

I was talking with the friend who had noticed my glass jars and he mentioned that he wanted to learn how to cook "my way." By my way, he meant more economically, so I gave him lesson number one:

How to regrow green onions

  • Buy a bunch of green onions, snip off the green tips and use them in a meal (like loaded potato soup or taco dip), place the roots and white stalk in a glass or old jar, fill it with enough water to cover the roots.
  • Change the water out every few days, otherwise the water gets slimy and starts to smell.
  • As you need green onions, snip away at the green tops. If you notice the outsides of the onions drying out, carefully trim them off, making sure not to damage the root of the onion as you do.

Notes

The onions won't regrow indefinitely, unless you plant them in soil, but they will last for months on the counter—as long as you remember to change the water frequently.

If you have forgotten to change the water and notice the roots are getting slimy, just rinse them off carefully under cold water.

 

Get a Slice of This: Hawaiian Pizza #Sponsored by OXO

Before sitting down to develop today's recipe I took a poll among friends, family, and random strangers (because I'm that weird person who talks to everyone I stumble across in life.) What I wanted to determine was which pizza toppings were most popular. I was pretty sure that my favorite combination—roasted red pepper, mushroom, caramelized onion, and pesto—wasn't going to make the list. What I wasn't prepared for was the sheer number of people who like pineapple on their pizza.

And to think I was so sure pepperoni was going to be the winner. 

I never stopped to consider that pineapple could be a pizza topping, much less one with such a cult following. The other surprising thing was how consistent people were with their pairings: ham or Canadian bacon with nary a vegetable in sight. I felt like there was a little room to improve upon everyone's idea of the perfect Hawaiian pizza, which is how today's recipe came about. The pairing of home made pizza dough, a simple tomato sauce, mozzarella, fresh pineapple, hickory smoked honey ham, and a sprinkling of red onion makes for a mouth-watering combination that you absolutely have to try.

Don't forget to keep reading after the recipe for a quick review of some great tools from OXO that will help you on your quest to make the perfect pizza at home.

DISCLOSURE: Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of Get a Slice of This: The OXO Pizza Campaign, through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a set  tools for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

DISCLOSURE: Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of Get a Slice of This: The OXO Pizza Campaign, through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a set  tools for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Hawaiian Pizza


makes two14 inch pizzas + extra sauce


 

Ingredients

 

for the sauce

28 ounce can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste

for the dough

1⅛ cup water + additional tablespoon, as necessary (see notes)
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 pinch sugar
3 cups King Arthur Bread Flour + additional 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

toppings (double if making two pizzas)

½ cup pizza sauce
1 eight ounce ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
½ cup fresh pineapple, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 slices hickory smoked honey ham
⅛ cup red onion, thinly sliced
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste

Directions

 

for the sauce

  • In a food processor, combine whole peeled tomatoes with their juices and sea salt. Pulse 4 - 6 times until the tomatoes are broken up, but still slightly chunky. Taste the sauce and add more salt as needed, then use immediately or refrigerate for up to seven days.

for the dough

  • Fill a large glass measuring cup with 1⅛ cup water that is no warmer than 110°F. Add active dry yeast and a pinch of sugar, then stir until everything has dissolved completely. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes. Your mixture should be slightly bubbly.
  • In a large bowl add 3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and the mixture of water, yeast, and sugar. Mix by hand until all of the ingredients are combined and the dough is sticky and somewhat shaggy looking. If the weather is cool and dry you may need to add additional warm water, so do it slowly, one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together easily.
  • Set the mixing bowl in a warm spot, cover with a towel, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  • Dust your work surface with a small amount of flour, then place the dough on top. Knead it firmly and continue to dust with flour until you have a smooth ball of dough. Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover with a towel, and let it rise on the counter for 2 hours at room temperature (approximately 70°F.)
  • Cut the dough into two equal size balls. If you don't plan on making two pizzas take a small amount of olive oil and coat the inside of a large plastic container, add the ball of dough, then cover and and refrigerate for several days.
  • Take the remaining ball of dough and slowly stretch it into a round, flat disk. If you're having difficulty with it keeping the shape you want or find it tears easily, let the dough rest briefly, then continue to shape the dough. You'll want a circle that is roughly 14 inches in size.
  • Move your oven rack to the lowest setting, then preheat the oven to 450°F

Now build your pizza...

  • Top the crust with pizza sauce and spread it evenly over the top of the pizza. Add slices of fresh mozzarella, pineapple chunks, ham, and onion. 
  • Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 13 - 15 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned along the edges. Remove the pizza from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting into slices. Top with a pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes, then enjoy!

Notes


The extra sauce will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, but you can freeze the leftovers for up to three months that way you'll always have some on hand when you want to make pizza. I like to portion mine out into ½ cup containers so I only need to defrost what is needed to make a pizza.

For the sauce I'm partial to using Cento brand San Marzano tomatoes, but can use your favorite whole peeled tomatoes. If you decide to make this sauce using something other than San Marzano tomatoes you may want to add a pinch or two of sugar. San Marzano tomatoes are naturally sweet and less acidic than many other canned tomatoes you'll see on the shelves and the extra bit of sugar will help compensate for the added acidity.

If you have refrigerated one of your balls of dough leave it on the counter for an hour or two, until it has reached room temperature, before use. Once it has warmed up you can stretch it out to fit your pan. If you try to work with cold dough it won't stretch easily and may tear.

Don't forget to keep reading for our review of the products we used for today's recipe.

Review

 

OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Pizza Pan: I've tried quite a few different methods of making pizza over the years and I'll fully admit to having a preference when it comes to the pan vs stone debate—I do love my pizza stone—but there are a number of instances where using a pan is flat out more convenient.

Most notable is the fact that the prep time for putting together a pizza decreases significantly because you don't need to wait an hour for the pizza stone to reach 450°F. This is great for those times when you want pizza in a hurry and even better when you don't want to warm the house up by keeping the oven on for long periods of time. I rarely make pizza in the summer because it means I'll have the oven on for at least 90 minutes, but by using a pan instead I'm down to 30 minutes tops. For those of you who live up North in the land where houses don't have air conditioners, this is a real plus.

The other thing I really like about this pan is that absolutely nothing sticks to it. This means I don't have to spend time after dinner scrapping off baked-on cheese or sauce, which is a common occurrence with my pizza stone. A quick wash with soap and water is all this pan needs, everything slides right off. The downside to this is that the pizza does tend to move around if I cut it directly on the pan, so I have to make sure I'm twice as careful while I'm slicing up my pizza.

Where to Purchase


OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Pizza Pan: Find it on Amazon or purchase it directly from OXO

OXO 4" Pizza Wheel and Cutter for Non-Stick Pans: I have an OXO Pizza Wheel that was given to me as a wedding gift and I absolutely love it. Over the past nine years it has sliced its way through hundreds of pizzas and still works great. So, being so highly satisfied with my current wheel I was curious to see how the plastic version that is designed for use with non-stick pans would hold up. I was a little skeptical at first, but it sliced right through my thick crust pizza without a problem and the cheese hardly stuck to it, something I can't say about my trusty metal pizza wheel. If you own a set of non-stick baking sheets or pizza pan this is definitely a piece of equipment you'll want to take a closer look at. 

Where to Purchase


OXO 4" Pizza Wheel and Cutter for Non-Stick Pans: Find it on Amazon or purchase it directly from OXO

OXO Good Grips Complete Grate & Slice Set: Last but not least, I had a chance to try out OXO's Grate & Slice set, which couldn't have come at a better time. I have good knife skills, but I also have arthritis, so all this rainy weather we've been having has been making my hands ache. It's been difficult to hold on to my knife, but with the Slice & Grate's large handle I was able to produces perfectly uniform slices every single time, with hardly any effort. This nifty tool has been a real asset in the kitchen and it makes short work of putting together the perfect pizza or salad.

The four removable plates give you the option for a coarse or medium grate, as well the slicing surfaces that give a straight or julienne cut. Since the cutting surfaces are removable you have the option of slicing or grating directly over a bowl or you can use the bottom of the container to collect and measure your ingredients as you slice away. When you're done all the pieces, including the handle, fit inside the box. That means there is no chance you'll cut yourself as you're taking it out of the drawer, which is something I've done several times with the blades to my mandoline.

Whether you're just learning how to cook and haven't developed your knife skills yet or you're starting to find holding a knife is becoming increasingly difficult, this is one tool I'd definitely recommend you check out.

Where to Purchase


OXO Good Grips Complete Grate & Slice Set: Find it on Amazon or purchase it directly from OXO

OXO Grate and Slice

Disclosure


This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Get a Slice of This: The OXO Pizza Campaign through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a set of tools for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Have you ever asked yourself why we need so many recipes for chocolate chip cookies on the internet? Every food blogger out there has posted at least one, but the good news is that you can do no wrong with variations on the chocolate chip cookie. Whether they're thin and crispy or thick and chewy it's pretty much guaranteed that as soon as you bite in to one it will be heavenly, because hey, it's chocolate. So even though I already have a dozen or so recipes for cookies on the blog I want you to humor me and give these a shot. They have chips and chunks—two types of chocolate make them superior to every other chocolate chip cookie recipe out there. Oh and did I mention they have pecans too? Stop making me twist your arm and try them already!

Chocolate Chunk Cookies | Not Starving Yet

Chocolate Chunk Cookies
makes approximately 24 cookies

Ingredients

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons sea salt
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces dark chocolate chunks
½ cup unsalted pecans, chopped
additional sea salt for sprinkling on top

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. In a mixing bowl cream together room temperature butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Add vanilla and eggs, then mix until well incorporated.
  • Slowly add baking soda, salt, and flour, continue to mix until dough forms.  
  • Add semi-sweet chocolate chips, dark chocolate chunks, and pecans to the dough, then mix until they are evenly distributed.
  • Using a spoon or cookie scoop, form balls of dough and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Make sure to leave plenty of space as these cookies tend to spread out while baking.
  • Bake for 9 - 11 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes before transferring cookies to wire racks to cool. Enjoy!

Notes

I usually make these with Guittard 46% semisweet chocolate chips and Scharffen Berger 70% dark chocolate chunks, but you can switch it up to use your favorite chocolate.