Sunday, July 29, 2012

Three Cheese Grilled Pizza

Let me start off by saying the beauty of this post is that you can use whatever you have on hand.  It's not so much a recipe, as it is an idea to work off of.  With that said...the pizza we (my husband  and I) made tonight was the best we have ever made.  Oh, did I mention another beauty of this post is that the husband and I cook this together?  If he's not home, the children and I don't make it.

I love grilled pizza night for many reasons.  It means the man is home, and while I always joke about loving my own space when he travels, I do miss him when he is away.  Quite a bit.  Just a little.  The second reason is because I can open up my fridge and see what I have and what needs to be used.  This is perfect for using up a little of this and a little of that.  The third reason is that the man and I most often times work in sync for this meal.  It's the little things that I can appreciate.  ☺ Another reason is that I won't get take out pizza this good or this fresh here.  Don't get me wrong, we have a few really great pizza joints, and I am not afraid of ordering from them.  They just aren't as good as what can come off of our grill.  There.  I said it.  Now go try this!

Here's What You Need...for what we made tonight:
  • Pizza Dough, make it yourself or buy it
  • Sauce, My version or a good jarred version are fine
  • Mozzarella, grated
  • Parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler 
  • Ricotta, the homemade version I do or a store bought version are fine
  • Onions, caramelized
  • Mushrooms, sauteed
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Basil, torn
There are a few tricks that The Husband has perfected with this whole process.  Take your dough out and let it sit on the counter for at least an hour, it will make it easier to stretch and work with.  Get your grill screaming hot.  Last, cook one side first and then put the toppings on that cooked side.  Yes.  Just continue reading.

My part in this whole process is to have all the toppings prepared.  That means I see what will work from the fridge, chop them and then cook them.  All toppings should be cooked because they aren't on the grill long enough to cook through.  I also am the one that gets the "pizza topping buffet" set up.  I clear off everything from our island and set the toppings out in bowls.  When we have company over and make these it is always inevitability a huge hit and it's easy for the children to make their own (which is the best part don't you know?).  The ricotta that I make is from Jennifer Perrilo on Food 52.  It is so completely wonderful, delicious and incredibly easy.  Did I mention delicious?

So once your grill is squawking and your dough is stretched out, oil both sides and throw it on the grates, then shut the hood.  Don't go anywhere because it will take about 90 seconds to 2 minutes to cook on this first side.  Once the first side is done take it off the grill and bring it to the topping bar.  

You want to top the side that has been cooked!  The raw side should be on the bottom.  For this pizza I put sauce first then red pepper flakes, ricotta, mushrooms, onions, Mozzarella, Parmesan and finally basil. 

 Once all the toppings are on, then the pizza goes back on the grill and the gas gets turned to low...put the hood down immediately.  This second turn on the grill will take a little bit more time than the first,  about 2-3 minutes.  Don't go anywhere and check it after 2 minutes so it doesn't burn.  What you are trying to accomplish here is cooking the dough and melting the cheeses.  Our pizza's usually turn out large so we take them off the grill with cookie sheets or cutting boards.

Once they come off the grill let them sit for a minute or two to cool.  If you try cutting into the pizza with the smoldering cheese it will just pool into the middle.  Let it set up and try to be as patient as you possibly can...not an easy feat for me.

A simple salad with this makes everyone happy but I have to admit, tonight it was just pizza...and a vodka tonic each for The Husband and I ❤
Bon's time to eat!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Zucchini Bread

I had started this blog back in February as a way for my friends and family (especially my children) to have my recipes that I have cooked for them, on hand.  It seemed simple.  I wasn't expecting to have stories to go along with the food, but they sort of go hand in hand.

What I can't believe I haven't told you all is why I enjoy cooking so much.  It finally occurred to me after our most recent trip to Texas. We went in July to visit my Grandmother (my Mem) who turned 85 years old while we were there.  Let's be clear, she does not look or act like she's 85 one bit.  She is spunky and has a fire in her...and she does not take crap from anyone (sound like someone?).  She's a card shark and loves shoes.  She has a sweet Canadian accent and she also happens to be an amazing cook.  She will cook her face off for the people that she loves, and I happen to be lucky enough to be one of them.  She loves me and my little family that my husband and I have created, unconditionally.  She shows her love through her food...just like I do.  Aside from passing me her curly hair gene, she also passed the love through food gene down to me.  I adore this woman.  I adore her so much I named one of my babies after her.  She's that amazing.

Years ago when she was still living in Florida she gave me a few of her most well known recipes...I can't even mention what they are since other family members will then hound me for them.  I mean, who really wants that?  LOL!  I still have them written down on the same paper I used to document them all in her kitchen way back when.  One of those recipes was for her zucchini bread.

Having grown up with her and my Grandfather, this bread was something I had often.  Come summer time when her garden was spitting out courgettes left and right, she would make her bread and freeze it.  This was especially fantastic because I would never know when to expect it...sometimes it was for The Love Boat on Friday night, Saturday morning cartoons, after school snack.  You just never knew when she would bust out a loaf of this incredible bread.  So when we arrived in Texas this last time she had a platter of goodies and one was slices of "The" zucchini bread.  Sigh.  I told you she was wonderful.

So with all that gushing let me just tell you this...I modified her recipe.  OMG.  I can't believe I even attempted it, never mind now publish it on my blog.  I do believe once my Old Girl sees it and tries it (I'm sending her a loaf along with a sack of tomatoes, TX tomatoes are nasty according to her!) that she will love it.

Here's What You Need
  • 2¼ Cups Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ Cup Applesauce, unsweetened
  • ½ Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1½ Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1½ Cups Bread Flour (or AP flour)
  • 1½ Teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 Cups Raw Zucchini, grated
  • ½ Cup Chocolate Chips, I used Ghirardelli (optional)
  • ½ Cup Walnuts, chopped (again, optional)
Preheat your oven to 350℉.  Prepare two bread pans with your vegetable spray of choice.
Combine your sugar, eggs, applesauce, oil and vanilla, I use my stand mixer.  Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl and then add in 3 parts to the wet.  Remember what you have heard about over mixing once flour is added.  Just mix the wet and dry until they come together.  Stop the mixer, add the zucchini, along with the chocolate and walnuts if you decide to add them and mix for 10 seconds.  I'm telling you, it's the magic number.  Everything gets mixed yet you don't turn out bricks once it's baked.
Bake both for 50-60 minutes.  I actually check mine at 45 minutes and the color is usually good but it still needs to hang out in the oven a bit longer...I just take a large piece of aluminum foil and place it over the two pans.  This prevents it from browning on the top any longer but allows the center to continue cooking for the last few minutes.
I hope you enjoy this treat and share it with someone you love...that's what my Grandmother and I would expect.  ❤

Bon's time to eat!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Quinoa and Arugula Stuffed Mushrooms

This recipe is delicious any time of the year, but for me it's especially amazing when I can get most of the ingredients fresh from my favorite Fat Moon Farm.  The owner, Elizabeth, always teaches me something new when I go and I love seeing all the changes every week.  So, obviously not all of you have the luxury of a farm close by, but even buying your produce seasonally makes a huge difference in their tastes.  That being said, I do buy things from Trader Joes or another grocer out of season, I just know that it always makes my belly and my family a wee bit happier to have things taste their best.  And isn't that the greatest?
Let's talk about a few of the ingredients here first.  Quinoa is actually a seed...A SEED!  It's delicious and so good for you.  I beg you to give it a try.  It's got a great "chew" to it and is so versatile. I think I've talked before about most days having a big resealable bag of quinoa and another of either a brown or wild rice in my fridge.  I will usually make them on a Sunday and if it's football season it's not a huge bother because you just let it set on the stove top with the cover on!  I always find things to use it for and it also makes my life easier when I want something good but quick.'s a green and it's amazing, but I will admit I'm not a huge fan of it raw.  Cooked and it's fantastic.  It wilts like spinach but doesn't lose it's body or get mushy like spinach does and it has so much flavor where spinach doesn't really do it for me unless I'm adding to it.  So good.  Elizabeth was telling me that she has a ton of it but no one is really buying it.  WHAT?  Fresh arugula isn't being purchased and scarfed down?  Oy.  I make a tremendous pesto with it as well...I really need to get on that post too!  ☺

Here's What You Need
  • Portabello Mushrooms (8)
  • Olive Oil
  • 4-5 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Leek, chopped in half moons
  • 1 Medium Zucchini
  • 1 Yellow Squash
  • ½-1 teaspoon Oregano, depending on how much you love the herb
  • ½ Cup Peas, fresh or frozen
  •  Arugula, 3 large handfuls
  • Quinoa, 2 cups (cooked)
  • Wild Rice, 1 cup (cooked)
  • 1 Cup Feta
  • ¼ Cup Pine Nuts, toasted
  • 3 Tablespoons Basil
  • 2 Tablespoons Parsley
  • Tomato Sauce, My Version of Sauce or from a jar works too
  • Mozzarella

I have to use two 9½ x 11 dishes for this recipe, of course if you don't need 8 stuffed mushrooms just halve this recipe.  No biggie.  Brush the mushrooms with olive oil and place them gill side up in your dish.  A bit of pepper does nice things at this point as well...just saying.  Place them in a 375℉ oven for 20-25  minutes to roast.  While that's doing it's thing you can easily get the filling done.  This roasting is an important step because the filling will be completely cooked.  The first time I made this dish I didn't roast them first and then the quinoa was too crunchy on top from being in the oven too long.  Don't make that mistake.  Eeeek!

Leeks need to be cleaned really well.  They have layers and sand get's in there and biting down on gritty leeks is definitely one of my least favorite food things.  Cut the leek in half lengthwise then chop it in half moons.  I then take a large bowl, put it in my sink and add the leeks with as much water as possible.  Then I roll up my sleeves and rub the leeks between my hands, this breaks the moons up and the grit falls to the bottom while the leeks stay clean and pretty at the top.  Whatever you do, don't skip this step.  It takes 3 minutes.  Once you're done here, dry them a bit on a clean kitchen towel and add them to a large saute pan with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Cook them for 2 minutes or so just to soften them then add in your garlic.    Now after 45 seconds the garlic should start smelling amazing.  The smell of garlic makes me instantly hungry.

Feel free to add in your squashes and oregano now and throw some salt and pepper in there while you're at it.   As I have said before, I like my vegetables to have some color on them so I like to caramelize mine a good deal.  If you like yours just softly sauteed then do that.  My recipes are all pretty forgiving and easily adjusted to your tastes.

While this magic is happening in your pan please get a large bowl and add in your quinoa, rice, feta, basil and parsley and mix them all to get aquainted.  If you have a party at your house you introduce people right?  Same with this only the party is in the bowl instead of your family room!  Actually, all good parties end up in the kitchen or wherever the booze is in my experience! 

Check on the squash mixture and if it's where you want it to be color wise,  add in your peas and arugula.  Don't forget to add in a little more of your S & P and you may also need to add another Tablespoon of olive oil too!  It should be nicely wilted in 2 minutes.  Now take the whole saute pan and add the contents to your rice bowl.  More guests have joined the party...introduce them and mix!!!

Now let me confess.  I burn things.  More specifically, nuts.  So when I have them in a recipe I always make sure I don't have anything else that needs my attention, I stand over that pan and watch them like a hawk.  Honestly.  If you are capable of toasting the pine nuts while introducing the rice and quinoa and sauteing squash, go right ahead.  Brag about it in the comments below if you must.  I will applaud you.  I am a master nut roaster only when it's all I have to do!  LOL!  Once yours are done, get them in the quinoa bowl and mix.

Please, before you try stuffing your mushrooms let them cool a bit.  I take them out of the pan they roasted in and cool them on another dish so I can add some sauce to the bottom of that pan.  Then add them back on top of the sauce.  Depending on the size of your shrooms they will take ⅓ to ½ cup of filling, I overfill mine.

Once every mushroom has been filled I top each with ¼ cup of additional sauce and then mozzarella.  Is it shocking that I REALLY pile on the cheese?  It just makes everything right in my world.

Everything is cooked at this point so you really just need to heat it all through and get your cheese all nice and melty.  Fifteen minutes should do the trick but if you want to brown the top of your cheese a bit you can also then throw on the broiler for a minute or two. 

There you have it.  Great meal, full of protein and happiness.  Serve it with a simple salad and dinner is ready.  Amazingly these can also be made the day before (I wait to top with the cheese until it's time to go in the oven though) and life is really easy!

Bon's time to eat!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mushroom and Pea Risotto

Let me warn you, I'm not starting this post the way I necessary should...but I never said I was a good rule follower. 
I used to really suck at risotto.  Badly.  My first attempt (probably 12 years ago) was delicious and my husband looked forward to the dish in the future.  It rarely happened ever again, it was always a hit or miss.  I didn't know why and it really pissed me off.  Over the years I have tortured him with "experiments", always with another dish on deck in case the risotto didn't pan out, pun intended.  Over the past year or two I have always managed to make risotto that everyone, all 5 of us, has raved about.  I think I have figured out what the problems where and they weren't that difficult.  Risotto is really a simple dish as long as you follow some easy steps.  I don't lie about these things! 
So my oldest baby (she's 10, whatever) had to have 4 teeth removed and needed a soft diet for a few days.  She requested a risotto dish and a Frittata Dish.  No problem.  Anything for my poor cherub!  This was what I came up with and everyone was thrilled!  Not an easy feat for a family with three girls, albeit amazing girls! 
Here's What You Need
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter, unsalted
  • ½ Large Onion, Chopped
  • 2 Large Portabella Mushrooms, Chopped
  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • ½ Cup White Wine, Pinot Grigio is my "go to"
  • 5-6 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • 3½ Ounces Goat Cheese
  • ⅓ Cup Parmesan Cheese, I used my microplane
  • Zest of ½ Lemon
  • 1 Cup Frozen Petite Peas
  • Salt and Pepper, always
Start with the usual suspects...Olive Oil and Butter, in a large saute pan and the onions.  Cook them down for 2 minutes or so with some salt and pepper, then add in the mushrooms.  This should all cook for about 5 minutes until there is some nice color on them and then add in the rice.  Stir it around and get it coated in the mixture completely for 2-3 minutes.  Don't skimp on this step.
Now is the time to add in the wine!  I measure out the correct amount for the pan and then have a glass handy to fill for my own personal consumption.  It's my favorite step.  Don't judge me. 
Stir the rice until the wine is absorbed then it's time to add in the the broth.  Now I know I wrote "Vegetable Broth" on the ingredients list but please, feel free to use whatever you like.  I have a standard size ladle (not the over sized version) and add in two ladle fulls.  Stir, stir, stir.  Once it has been absorbed by the rice, add in two more.  I don't sit over the pan stirring the whole time, but quite often.  I am always close by and keeping an eye on what's happening.  This whole process takes about 25-30 minutes, it always varies for me, just like the amount of broth does.  I haven't figured this one out...but who cares.  It's delicious.
Risotto should be al dente.  Stick a spoon in that pan and try it at around 22 minutes to see where it is, you may have to add one more ladle and try it again in a few minutes.   Good?  Now add in the peas.  I like the petite peas rather than the regular ones but again, use what you have.  Stir it around then add in the cheese.  I break the goat cheese up to melt it a bit easier then once that's incorporated add in the Parmesan.  Stick another spoon in and try it again.  Check for salt at this point.  I never add too much in the beginning because the cheese tends to have a good amount of salt.  If it needs it, add it...if it's good, just enjoy it.
I serve this with roasted vegetables or grilled shrimp.  Sometimes I use it as a main dish and sometimes a side.  It's quite versatile in that way.  
Today because of "Toothless" I roasted  2 zucchini,  2 yellow squash and ½ of a sliced onion with olive oil, salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary on 400℉ then add in  ¼ cup of both basil and flat leaf parsley.  It was perfect for her and scrumptious for the rest.
Bon's time to eat!

Frittata with Cheddar

Frittata's are one of my "I Have No Idea What I'm Making For Dinner And Have 3 Hungry Children Demanding Food Or They Will Die" meal.  I make it for everything...breakfast, appetizers for play dates, lunch with a salad, dinner with salad, side and grilled bread.  Name it...this works for it.  Unless it's a dessert party.  This would suck for that.
So this was the other request I had gotten from the largest one after she had to have 4 teeth extracted to make room in her mouth for big teeth and eventually braces.  The dentist tells me she has a small mouth but she sounds so freaking loud at home that I really had to sit back and question his degree.  I may have to go online and find out if he graduated from  an accredited school or an online version.  I'm not joking.
She also requested Risotto.  I made that too!  My poor baby!
Notice that adult beverage in the background?  My husband and I fight over who gets the pink straws...tonight I lost the battle but he was the one making the Vodka Tonics so I really didn't mind too much!  I'm not very happy with the picture but until I make it again, this is the best I can do for you.  My bad.

Here's What You Need
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • ½ Onion, I use Vidalia or a sweet type usually
  • 1 Large Portabella Mushroom, chopped small
  • 1 Medium Zucchini, quartered and sliced
  • 1 Bunch Beet Greens, about 3 cups chopped
  • ¼ Cup Parsley
  • 10 eggs, beaten
  • ½ Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup "Seriously Sharp" Cheddar
Preheat your stove to 350˚.
As usual I start with a large pan, oven safe this time, butter, olive oil and onion.  Stir them around with some salt and pepper for a few minutes and then add in your mushrooms.  After a few minutes of these two getting to know one another add in the zucchini and saute them all until they are to your liking.  Personally I like mine with some color.  Next comes the beet greens...if you are afraid of them add in something else like spinach, arugula or kale.  I will say beets and their greens are some of my favorite things on the planet.  No joke.  While the veggies are working their magic crack the eggs, add the milk and whisk away.  I like to get a little bit of air into them.   Once your green of choice has wilted down enough to your liking (spinach will take no time, while kale will still keep it's body) spread the filling around the pan evenly and add in the egg mixture gently so as to not disturb the filling.  I keep the heat on medium/low to medium.  This is when you add your cheese...spread it around the top of the mix and just leave it.  Wait until the edges are just set, the middle will still be liquid and then put it on the middle rack of your stove.  This is where the oven proof pan comes in handy.  You will have to wait 13-15 minutes or just until the middle is set and not jiggling.
We cut ours like a pie and have hot sauce on the table.  If you're serving the frittata as an appetizer I cut it into 16th's.  If it's a main meal I cut it into 8th's and I serve it with a salad or other side.
Bon's time to eat!!!