Tag Archives: pizza

Chicago Trip, Part 1!

Our good friends Rachel and Mark moved to Chicago last summer where Mark would be getting his MBA at the Kellogg School of Management. Having been friends with Rachel for the last seven years, I knew that I would try to go visit at some point during their time there. Now Mark just finished his first year of his MBA program and got an awesome summer internship out in Seattle; with Rachel still working in Chicago, we were hoping to have a girls weekend at some point during the summer months. Fortunately an opportunity came up last week thanks to work. I was making my first trip out to our client, General Mills, in Minneapolis and would be there until Friday morning. Instead of flying back home to San Antonio, I was able to fly out to Chicago to spend a couple of days with Rachel! I landed Friday around 1:00 in the afternoon and after a bit of a delay to taxi to our gate (we were held back by a lightning storm and sat out on the run way for about 45 minutes), we were finally able to get out of the airport and make our way over to Evanston for lunch. We went and ate at this great local restaurant called the Dixie Kitchen and had some awesome fried catfish. Yum!

Walking around Evanston

After lunch, we drove over to their apartment and dropped off all my stuff. A light rain had come through while we were out eating but it let up for a bit, which allowed us to go for a walk to part of the Northwestern campus and the edge of Lake Michigan. I loved checking out all of the different homes and apartments along the way! Not sure how many times I raved about all of the ivy on the buildings :)

We soon made it to the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and walked through part of the campus to get to the lake (an area called Lakeside). It’s amazing how huge Lake Michigan is; it honestly looked like we had reached an ocean!

Walking past the Kellogg School of Management

Chicago skyline from Evanston

Rocks around Lakeside where generations of Northwestern students have painted messages

While we were walking around and checking out the different messages on the rocks around Lakeside, we started to hear some thunder again so we walked back to Rachel’s apartment and made it just in time before it started to rain. It didn’t seem like it was going to stop anytime soon and we weren’t going to let that ruin our dinner plans! The rain wasn’t too heavy, so we grabbed some umbrellas and walked over to a place with some great deep dish pizza: Lou Malnati’s. It’s probably a good thing that we walked, that pizza was pretty heavy! :) We ended the day with some wine and two episodes of Downton Abbey – if you haven’t started watching this show yet, you definitely need to!

They have some serious deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s

Saturday was going to be a very full and fun day (which is why this trip will be broken out into two posts!). We got started by walking over to the Evanston Farmers Market. This is definitely hands-down the best farmers market I’ve ever been to. The one here in San Antonio at the Pearl is pretty good, but the one in Evanston hadso much different produce, from berries to carrots to varieties of zucchini. They also had some of the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen. Pretty sure I stuck out like a tourist taking so many pictures!

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

Feeling inspired to try growing some carrots…

Farmers Market

Amazing zinnias

So colorful!

Slightly obsessed with these sunflowers

Stay tuned for another post on our adventures in Chicago, including a Cubs. vs. Diamondbacks game at Wrigley Field!

Pizzeria di Nance

It’s no secret that Chip and I became big pizza fans on our honeymoon. We probably ate pizza at least every other day while we were in Italy and I think it changed our lives for the better (we really like food…). Inspired by the awesome pizza we had on our honeymoon, we’ve tried making homemade pizzas a few times. It’s always turned out pretty good, but last Friday evening was particularly delicious.

Provider of the best pizza dough recipe

We used a dough recipe from a cook book we got for our wedding called the Bride and Groom Cookbook. We haven’t used a whole lot of recipes from this book just yet, but we have utilized the pizza dough recipe more than once (for those that are interested, the recipe is at the bottom of this post!). Anyway, we got to work preparing the dough when we got home Friday evening and like good pseudo Italians, we had some red wine while we cooked and ate.

Wine from our anniversary trip to Fredericksburg

Once the dough had risen, we separated it into different sections and let that sit for a while. While we waited for the dough to finish its preparation process, we started making our pizza sauce. We couldn’t find the recipe we’ve used before, but found a different one online that got the job done (was a lot better once we added a small can of tomato paste to make the sauce thicker).

Pizza dough!

Homemade pizza sauce

We made two different types of pizza: margherita and a meat lovers version. Both pizzas called for fresh basil… luckily we have some very fresh basil growing in our garden! I may have been overly excited about this… :)

Putting our basil plant to good use

Fresh basil? We’ve got it covered.

Margherita pizza

Pepperoni and pancetta pizza

Needless to say, dinner was delicious. I’m sure there will be many more homemade pizza nights to come! Who knows, maybe we’ll open up our own pizzeria… Pizzeria di Nance. Sounds pretty good :)

Pizza Dough Recipe:


  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 envelopes (2 1/2 tsp each) active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus oil for greasing
  • 4 cups flour, plus flour for dusting
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt


  • Combine the water, yeast, vinegar and 3 tbsp olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until just blended, about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining 3 cups of flour, sugar and salt until well blended. add the flour mixture to the wet dough mixture in 3 batches, beating on low speed after each addition until thoroughly combined. When all the flour has been added, raise the mixer speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes more. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl, come together in a ball and feel soft tot he touch.
  • Place the ball of dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it several times to coat the surface lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece into a smooth ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
  • If you’ve chilled the dough, take it out o the refrigerator about 30 minutes before using it to bring it to room temperature. Using your hands and a rolling pin, roll and stretch each ball into an 8-inch round (doesn’t have to be perfectly round).
  • To cook pizzas, heat oven to 500 and bake for 10-13 minutes.

Weekend visit

I am so glad my parents were able to come visit us for a quick trip last weekend. We hadn’t seen them since our surprise visit to California back in January, so I was definitely more than ready to have some time with my parents. They got in last Saturday around noon after spending a couple of days in Omaha visiting my brother during his spring break. It means a lot to me that my parents are able to come see both my brother and I, even if it means a little less time with both of us individually as well as additional plane tickets. I’m pretty sure my brother and I would have an intense competition if my parents could only visit us one at a time :)

Since my parents would only be in San Antonio for about 30something hours, we didn’t plan too much for us to do but just hang out together. Well, that and the weather was slightly crummy last Saturday which forced us to stay indoors… it was in the 40s and with a light drizzle throughout most of the day… my least favorite kind of weather. So after a yummy lunch at Papouli’s in the Quarry, we spent a few hours just hanging out in our house. My parents hadn’t seen our home since the summer, so Chip and I proudly showed them the little things we’ve done since then, from decorating the living room to (finally) cleaning out the back room. My parents were also able to meet our foster dog, Duke, who warmed up to them quickly and was much more social than I could have expected (good job, Duke!).

After hours of conversation about everything from life in San Antonio to visions for our backyard to overpaid professional athletes (word of caution to those who know my mom… never bring this up around her unless you want to hear her opinion on it for 20 minutes :)) we made our way over to Dough for dinner. Dough is one of our favorite restaurants here in San Antonio. It’s so good! One of the only downsides to this restaurant is the waiting time since it’s so popular. By the time we got there, we were told it would be a good hour to hour and a half wait before we would be seated (I may or may not have thrown a little fit about this… don’t judge). Dough is currently working to expand their space which will hopefully help shorten this wait and allow them to serve more people at once. I’m definitely waiting eagerly for this to be completed!

We had been to Dough once before with my parents and since we all love this place we stuck the wait out. We were also sharing a very special bottle of wine, one that Chip and I bought on our honeymoon in Italy, and Dough was one place we knew where we could bring our own bottle. It was a delicious red wine that accompanied our meal perfectly. Even my mom who prefers white wines finished her glass of this red wine. Not sure if I’ve ever seen that happen before!

A fun fact about this bottle of wine: it was made in 2007. We got a kick out of this since that’s the year Chip and I met, so it’s like we were meant to have this bottle. :)

Waiting for our table at Dough

On Sunday, we took my parents with us to church at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Chip and I have been going there since around October and really appreciate the community of this church and its focus on the Gospel. I was excited for my parents to come to the service with us so they could meet some of the people that have been impacting us for the past several months. After the service, we went to Urban Taco for lunch with Matt and Haley, some of our closest friends here in San Antonio. We love Matt and Haley and the way they live so honestly. I was glad that my parents were able to meet them and we were able to spend lunch talking and laughing together over delicious street tacos.

After lunch, we stopped by Matt and Haley’s house quickly to pick up some tools. Now with all the rain we had gotten the last month or so, a couple of doors in our house weren’t closing well with the shifting foundation. So with my dad’s help and Matt and Haley’s tools, Chip was able to sand these doors down and get them to shut properly again. I’m thankful that my dad has become so handy over the years; he usually teaches us something whenever they’re in town!

By the time the doors were fixed it was time to drop my parents off at the airport. The weekend went by so quickly and it already feels like it’s been much longer since they were here. But it was a great weekend and we’ve learned to be so grateful for quick trips like these. I know I’m already looking forward to their next visit, whenever that may be :)

Bon Appetit

In honor of my brother’s visit this weekend, I thought it would be fun to spoil him with some home cooking. He just finished taking his midterms and was pretty ready for a relaxing weekend, so I thought it would be fun for him to have a few days where he wouldn’t have to think about his own grocery shopping or spend time deciding what to make for his next meal (which, in all honesty, would most likely be a rice-beans-meat combo). I’ve also been really enjoying cooking more than usual lately. Not sure if I got some invisible “Mini-Martha Stewart in Training” cape once we got married or if I just feel inspired by our nice open kitchen, but I think I would be perfectly content to be at home all day trying out new recipes for us to enjoy.

With this cooking inspiration, I wanted to prepare some special items for my brother. After going through some cooking magazines the past couple of weeks, I decided on some key items for this weekend’s menu: homemade cinnamon rolls Saturday morning, homemade pizza Sunday evening and homemade cookies Sunday night. Needless to say I’ve spent a bit of time in the kitchen this weekend… but it was worth it and everything turned out great!

The cinnamon rolls were first on the weekend list. Luckily Alex slept in a bit on Saturday morning, so I had plenty of time for this recipe. I have a tendency to not fully read recipes ahead of time, so while I knew the dough had to sit and rise for an hour, I hadn’t seen the part at the end where it said the rolls had to sit for 45 minutes before going in the oven… at least I know for next time now! Anyways, the cinnamon rolls were done baking by the time we had finished the eggs and bacon Chip made for breakfast. Cinnamon rolls = breakfast part two. They turned out great and tasted even better with a glass of milk. And yes, we ended up taking a nap later in the day.

Sunday had some serious kitchen time between the pizza and the cookies. Chip and I had made some homemade pizza earlier this summer and had such a great time preparing it, that I was looking forward to Pizza Round Two. We cheated a little bit this time around and didn’t make the dough ourselves like we had before (that made a nice mess in the kitchen the first time around) and instead bought some store-made dough. I think next time we’ll do the dough ourselves again, but dinner was still great tonight!

While the pizza was good, what I really loved on Sunday were the cookies… It’s not much of a secret that I have an epic sweet tooth and a particular weakness for cookies. I got this recipe from Martha Stewart’s cookies book and they are now one of my favorite type of cookies (should have known I would love it since it called for 8oz of bittersweet chocolate… yum). Before putting these cookies in the oven, the recipe calls for rolling the cookies in granulated sugar and then powdered sugar, giving it that cracked look once they’ve baked (super healthy… I know). I have a feeling these cookies will be one of our favorite recipes and this definitely won’t be the last time we bake them. Thanks, Martha Stewart, for a delicious dessert to end a great weekend.