Jun 21, 2011

Strawberry, Pistachio and Goat Cheese Pizza

      When Cale asks "What's for dinner?" One of his favorite responses is: homemade pizza. The only thing that might furrow his brow would be...homemade pizza almost never means traditional pizza with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.  I've always got a few tricks up my sleeve, even when I'm making a standard dish. 
       This pizza is different, but really good. It is a refreshing departure from a traditional pizza. It is like having pizza and your favorite strawberry salad with vinaigrette dressing in each bite. Feel free to substitute your favorite soft cheese or greens. I love arugula and wanted to have a peppery bite with the pizza.
      I have a couple pizza crust recipes in the works, but for now use your personal favorite or buy a pre-baked crust from the store.

Blueberry Salsa

      If you're wondering if I'm on a blueberry kick, the answer is Yes. I got organic blueberries for a killer deal and now I'm on a quest to use the berries that aren't being stolen by grubby little fingers. Hopefully, you will be as pleased with this recipe as I was. It's a delicious twist on traditional tomato based salsa. Plus, I'm such a salsa fanatic that I have been itching to make this ever since I found the recipe.
     The salsa has sweet and fruity flavors from the blueberries. The fresh lemon juice adds a tartness that balances the sweetness of the berries. The cilantro, bell pepper and red onion meld out the flavors for a wonderful fresh tasting summer salsa.

Jun 20, 2011

Corn and Blueberry Salad

       Apparently, I've turned into a goddess. At least that is what some of the church ladies at a recent barbecue are saying. Be forewarned this salad is a goddess creator. You may think the combination of corn and blueberries is strange, but few flavors marry as nicely as corn and blueberries. This salad is light, refreshing and a great side dish for any barbecue. Not only does it taste good, but it also looks pretty. Make this salad for your next barbecue and I'm sure you will be called a goddess as well.
       I made this for dinner a second time and I roasted a salmon fillet to have on the side, but ended up breaking the salmon into pieces and tossing it in the salad. It was amazing. The salmon blended well with the flavors and I thought the salad was as good or better as a main coarse, than as a side dish.
Remember, salads are meant for adapting. Have fun with this, it makes a lot and it keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple days.

Jun 19, 2011

Roasted Broccoli

     Wow, if you think you don't like broccoli you haven't tried roasting it. I never thought I would say the words "love" and "broccoli" in the same sentence. All that has changed.  
      This is a simple side dish that pairs well with just about anything from fish to steak. If you are short on time you can purchase pre-cut broccoli for an even quicker prep. The other couple of ingredients are pantry staples, so it is a great dish when you need one more thing to round-out your meal. 
 The broccoli is cooked through, but still remains a little firm. Not mushy like overcooked steamed broccoli. The high heat helps to bring out the natural sweetness of the vegetable. Enjoy.

Jun 18, 2011

Manti Chicken

            Manti Turkey is a well known recipe in Utah. Manti is a city in Utah which has turkey farms and I believe that is where this recipe got its name. However, I make this with chicken breasts instead of turkey breast.  No matter which type of poultry you use, this marinade is delicious.
          My mom has been making this for as long as I can remember, and I still enjoy it. The first time I made this for Cale, he had seconds. It became a family favorite from that point on. It is quick to prepare, uses standard easy-t0-find ingredients and produces juicy full-flavor grilled chicken or turkey. Hopefully, you like it as much as we do.

Jun 17, 2011

Oat Flour Crepes

        Crepes are wonderful vessels for sweet or savory filling. I love them with whipped cream and fresh berries for a light summertime dessert and also rolled up with ham and cheese. They work perfectly with my Mu Shu Pork and Bean loves them. 
        Crepes are light, soft and have a barely-there flavor. I like them even more when I make them wheat-free using whole-grain oats. They may not have a lot of flavor, but at least these have more nutrition than regular crepes made with white flour. I'm going to try them with a couple other grains and see if they turn out as good.
        These crepes are gluten free as long as you buy oats that have not be processed with wheat. Standard oats may have traces of gluten from being processed in the same plant.

Jun 16, 2011

Mu Shu Pork

            Mu Shu Pork, yes please. This is a unique dish because it is one of the few dishes that is not served with or over rice. Instead, you wrap the delicious filling in a tortilla-like pancake that is brushed with sauce. 
           I really enjoy Asian dishes, but I was usually overwhelmed with Asian recipes. At least until I created this little number. It is super easy and tasty and will definitely be place on my go-to meal menu.  I made this recipe with pork, but I've also excluded all meat and made it vegetarian. You can also substitute chicken or tofu for the pork if you want.                   
            This dish was easy to prepare and tasted like great restaurant food. In fact, I may start making this recipe instead of ordering take-out. We really liked it. It is packed with protein and it includes some veggies. It was easy to eat and full of flavor. 
           You can prepare all the ingredients ahead of time and cook it right before you want to eat. Before you can believe it dinner.is.done.

Jun 14, 2011

Banana Bread - 2 Ways

            I had a slew of bananas that became overly ripe recently, so I decided to test out a couple of new banana bread recipes. There were two that produced great tasting and textured banana breads. For your enjoyment I  am going to post both recipes. One of the recipes is from Cook's Illustrated with a minor adaption and the other is from Cooking Light. I tried a couple other recipes, but they didn't make the cut.
           I made the Cook's Illustrated recipe first and it came out looking gorgeous. It has a golden crust with a high rise and a clean and almost cream-colored interior. It tastes mainly of sweet banana because it doesn't have any added spices. The texture was moist without being heavy and it had a sweet, but not shockingly sweet flavor. Also, it was super easy to prepare.
          The other loaf of banana bread I made was from Cooking Light magazine. It was a healthier version of banana bread. Cale and Bean both really liked it, it didn't have a high dome and because of the flax (I suspect) it had a darker interior. However, the crumb was moist, not dense, and the flavor of the bread was sweet and a little nutty. It had a lot more spices and you can taste the cinnamon, but they accentuated the flavor of the banana. Because Bean cannot have nuts I excluded them. I imagine if you like walnuts in banana bread; both of these recipes would be wonderful with the addition of toasted nuts.
          To finish the taste test, I toasted up a slice of each bread and smeared it with a little mascarpone cheese. Then I had Cale taste each one. He thought they were both good, but he liked the Cook's Illustrated recipe the best. It figures, healthy eating isn't always at the top of Cale's list.
         I'll be using the Cooking Light recipe more at home, only because it is a little healthier. However, as a special treat or if I'm taking it to someone...I'll definitely make the Cook's Illustrated version. 

Jun 11, 2011

Breakfast Pizza - Wheat Free

        This pizza makes a delicious and healthy breakfast. But don't be confused...it isn't a dessert pizza. It is not very sweet, which makes it a wonderful way to start the day. I used whole-grain polenta which makes this even healthier and more filling. My little Bean loved this! 
        I made this pizza wheat-free by using a baked polenta as the crust. You top the crust with a lemon scented mascarpone cheese and fresh berries. You can sprinkle a cinnamon-sugar mixture on the top of each individual portion to add a little sweetness if your berries aren't quite sweet enough. In the above picture, I used a cookie cutter to cut the baked polenta into individual rounds and then topped each one with berries. 
       The picture above is how I brought it to a recipe group with pizza as the theme. I baked the polenta in a 1/4 sheet pan, but if you have a pizza pan I'm sure you can spread the warm polenta mixture into a large round typical shaped pizza. The great part of this breakfast pizza is that the polenta can be cooked, spread and chilled the night before you want to bake it. It makes for an easy prep in the morning.
        If you enjoy making pizza dough and don't want to make a baked polenta crust, make a standard pizza crust then bake and cool it. Top it with the mascarpone and fruit. I topped my breakfast pizza with berries, but any seasonal fruit would be delicious. I think I'll try it in the fall with pears or the winter with thinly sliced rounds of citrus.

Jun 10, 2011

Plain Frozen Yogurt

         Whether you are a Pinkberry die hard or a Red Mango purist, this plain yogurt copycat recipe will have your taste buds and wallet shouting  for joy all summer long. I adapted this recipe from David Lebovitz's book, The Perfect Scoop, via 101 Cookbooks.
         I originally found a recipe for frozen plain yogurt from the food blog 101 cookbooks and I immediately broke out my ice cream maker. I'm glad I did because this recipe is simple, refreshing and delicious. I found the end product to be creamy and tangy with many possibilities. Using Greek yogurt makes the end result much creamier, using whole milk Greek yogurt also helps add a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. 
        This is a wonderful recipe to make with kids, because it calls for 2 ingredients and no actual cooking is involved. I can't wait to make this with Bean, now that I know how easy it is. I'm sure he will also love watching and tasting the mixture as it turns into ice cream.
      This would make a great dessert party. Create a  frozen yogurt bar with different kinds of toppings. Each person taking a scoop of plain frozen yogurt and having lots of fun toppings to customize individual portions. 
      For a soft consistency, serve right out of the ice cream maker. For a firmer texture, transfer the frozen yogurt to a covered container and freeze for 2-3 hours. Serve with assorted toppings. I stored this yogurt in a covered container with good results for 24 hours. Beware: this yogurt does not have any stabilizers, which makes this  'natural' yogurt melt quickly.
       This recipe will be a cool relief for the warm weather all summer long. I loved the slight sweetness and the very prominent tang of  the yogurt. I may experiment with honey flavor or a reduced fat version as well.

Jun 8, 2011

Quinoa Fiesta Salad

       As most of you know my favorite nutritional elements are fiber and protein. When a single ingredient includes both fiber and protein, I tend to obsess and use it all the time. Quinoa is one of those ingredients. Besides the fact that it is really good for us, it tastes great too. Quinoa was called the "mother grain" by the ancient Incan civilization. 
       Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain. In fact, it is a complete protein since it contains all eight essential amino acids. It is also lower in carbohydrates than most grains and has good unsaturated fats. It also has niacin, iron, phosphorus, potassium and is high in lysine. Awesome.
       In the quinoa fiesta salad I used a mixture of white, red and black quinoa. You can use which ever you have available. The original dressing recipe called for cranberry vinegar, but I didn't want to buy another bottle of vinegar only to use 2 tablespoons, so I substituted raspberry vinegar. I imagine any light, fruit-flavored vinegar would taste fine.

Jun 3, 2011

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

     This post is for you Rachel and all other persons that like melted cheese, asparagus and pizza. 
       I love spring in the supermarket. Strawberries and asparagus line the shelves and are on sale everywhere. I've also seen a smattering of asparagus recipes pop up on recent food blogs that I cannot wait to try. However, shaved asparagus pizza has been in my To-Try pile for quite some time. 
      This recipe is really simple, you only need six fresh ingredients. Three of those happen to be winners for me: fresh mozzarella, asparagus and Boursin cheese. I knew I couldn't go wrong with a recipe which included those yummy items.
       Chunks of full asparagus spears are a little too much on pizza, but using a vegetable peeler you get thin slices that get nicely charred in spots.  With the shavings you get all the flavor without the tough stems or having to pre-cook the asparagus in some way. The combination of cheese really adds a lot of flavor and creamy texture. Serve this with a strawberry spinach salad and you will have a meal that tastes of spring.
       If you want to make this pizza, but you don't want to heat up your house during the warm summer months, try grilling it. Yes, you can grill pizza. I haven't done it with this specific pizza, but I'm sure I'll be trying it in the next several weeks. Throw the rolled dough onto the oiled grill and let it cook for a couple minutes. Then pull it off (not with your hands) flip it and pile the toppings on the grilled side. Grill the pizza with the lid down for a few minutes, until everything is brown and gooey.

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Red Star Yeast

Jun 1, 2011

Strawberry Pizza

     Strawberry season is in full swing here in New England. The weather has been warm and the berry plants are full of fruit. My mother-in-law has a few signature recipes. This strawberry pizza is one of them. As soon as the beautiful, red berries begin to show up on the supermarket shelves I start thinking about this strawberry pizza.
      The pizza crust is a crisp, shortbread cookie. It is spread with a layer of sweetened cream cheese and a strawberry glaze and topped with sliced fresh strawberries. I'm salivating as I type up this description. This pizza looks pretty, tastes great and is relatively simple to prepare. Try it for your next gathering and I'm sure you will be pleased.

Indian Butter Chicken

This recipe isn't quite as good as my chicken tikka masala recipe. But, it is quicker, dirties less dishes and the spices are most likely in your cupboard. If you are craving Indian food and don't have the time or energy to make tikka masala, this curry is a great alternative. Not many things are better than...curry in a hurry.