Monday, January 30, 2012

Balsamic and Basil Pizza

Yes, this is a cheese pizza.  So what?  Cheese pizzas are delicious.  And for this one, the sauce makes it, along with the thin, crispy crust.  Super simple and absolutely not your everyday cheese pizza.... but it could be....  You know, if you made it that.

Balsamic and Basil Pizza
~12 oz pizza dough (1/2 of this recipe, but make the whole recipe, it turns out better that way)
6-8 oz fresh mozzarella
1 C crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
1 heaping Tbsp basil puree*
1 clove garlic, minced (1/2-3/4 tsp)
corn meal

   Stretch dough into a roughly 13x9 in rectangle, about a 12 inch circle on a pizza pan or baking sheet that has been sprinkled with corn meal (to prevent sticking).  Pre-bake dough on bottom rack in a 450 deg F oven for 4-5 minutes.
   Combine tomato, balsamic, basil, and garlic.  (Add salt to taste if you are using a salt-free tomato product.)  Spread over crust.
   Slice mozzarella, then tear it into small-ish pieces and evenly distribute over pizza.
   Put back into 450 deg F on a middle rack.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until bottom of crust is golden and cheese is browned and bubbly.
   Serves 4.

*I puree fresh bunches of basil over the summer in just enough extra virgin olive oil to create a thick paste.  An equal amount of pesto is a great substitute, just omit the garlic from the recipe.  Or if it is summer and fresh basil is everywhere, I would say 1.5-2 Tbsp of chopped basil, that has not been packed down and bruised.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Roasted Yellow Squash Salad

This started as just a throw together side dish, but was so delicious.  It is only a few ingredients, but the flavors play so well together that I figured I would share.

Roasted Yellow Squash Salad
2 med yellow squash, cut into half moons
extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper, cayenne
~3 C baby arugula
1/4 C chopped kalamata olives
Roasted Garlic and Mustard Vinaigrette

   Toss squash with about 1 Tbsp oil, ~1/2 tsp salt, ~1/4 black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne.  Roast at 400 deg F for 10-12 minutes.
   Place on top of fresh baby arugula.  (The lettuce is supposed to wilt a little under the heat of the squash.)  Top with olives and a drizzle of vinaigrette.
   Serves 2.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spinach with Garlic and Raisins

I am always looking for new and easy vegetable side dishes.  This fits the bill.  It takes less than 10 minutes to make, is super healthy, and is absolutely delicious.  I don't know if it is a tradition Indian recipe, but the Betty Crocker Easy Indian cookbook features it (I don't know why the pic says 'everyday'.)  The raisins are the perfect sweet touch to the earthy and slightly bitter spinach.

I guess I should talk about this book for a second.  I got it in the bargain section of Barns and Noble for my husband as a Christmas present.  We love Indian food, and I thought that I would at least be able to get some ideas from the book.  And because he wants to learn to cook a wider variety of things, I wanted a book that wasn't technically intimidating.  I didn't expect it to be a great cookbook or anything, but it has surpassed my reserved expectations.  The recipes are really easy and most of the ingredients are readily available in your local supermarket.  For the  less common items, there is a buying guide with several websites listed, just in case you want to expand your spice cabinet and pantry.  For anyone looking to venture into Indian cooking at home, I definitely recommend this cookbook.

Spinach w/ Garlic and Raisins
1/2 med red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 lrg cloves garlic, minced (2 lrg tsp)
1/4 C golden raisins
10-12 oz spinach, roughly chopped
1 scant tsp garam masala*
salt and oil

   Heat about 2 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over med heat.  Saute onion and pepper for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and raisins, cook about 1 mintue.
   Add spinach and a pinch of salt.  Allow spinach to wilt.
   Sprinkle with garam masala, toss.  Adjust salt to taste.
   Serves 4.

*If, like me, you don't have garam masala when making this, but have a bevy of other spices, substitute with 1/4 tsp cardamom, 1/4 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp cumin, and a pinch of cinnamon.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Weekend Re-direct

I haven't told you to check out Save the Artist in a while.... so, um, go do it.  There is a really awesome recipe for Roasted Pork and Tri-Chili Soup.  Also, you can read my Top 10 American Food Icon series in its entirety.

If you have signed up for the newsletter, you'll be receiving an exclusive recipe soon for Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta w/ Creamy White Wine and Goat Cheese Sauce.  And if you haven't signed up for the newsletter yet, you still have time! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Roasted Garlic and Cumin Sauce

Sometimes a good sauce is all you need to shake up dinner.  This sauce is easy, tasty, and versatile.  We put it on tacos and are planning to use it for some loaded quesadillas, but it would also be fantastic with potato chips, fresh veggies, chicken tenders... really, just about anything.  I suggest multiplying this recipe several times over and keeping the extra in the fridge.

Roasted Garlic and Cumin Sauce
1/4 C sour cream
1 heaping Tbsp mayonnaise
3 lrg clove of garlic, mashed into a paste*
1/2 tsp ground cumin
juice of 1/2 a lime
pinch of salt

   Combine ingredients.
   Serves 4.  (Makes about 1/3 C.)

*Combine a head of garlic (cloves separated) with ~2 Tbsp oil.  Wrap in foil.  Place in 350 deg F oven for 25 minutes.  Allow to cool.  The cloves will easily slide out of the skins.  They should be very soft and mash up with very little effort.  Keep extra in the refrigerator for 10 days (ish).  You can just roast the amount of garlic you plan to use that day, decrease oil amount and only roast for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bacon Creamed Spinach

Doesn't that just sound wonderful?  So, yeah... I don't really have anything else to say about that except it is easy, cheap and delicious.

Bacon Creamed Spinach
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 10oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water mostly squeezed out
1/4 C chopped onion (~1/4 of a med onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 oz cream cheese
2 Tbsp milk*
1 Tbsp parmesan

   Render bacon until crisp.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Saute onions in bacon fat until translucent, ~5 min.  Add garlic and spinach.
   Melt in cream cheese and add milk.  Stir in parmesan.  Top with bacon.
   Serves 2-3.

*Whole milk, cream, buttermilk, or half and half will work.  Even 2% in a pinch, but stay away from 1% and skim for this.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mozzarella Meatballs

Sometimes meatballs can get too complicated.  Delicious, but complicated.  These delicately balance complex flavor with easy technique.  It is my basic meatball recipe with a gooey, cheesy surprise that requires very little effort.  And they pair perfectly with the Spicy Bacon Tomato Sauce and spaghetti.

Mozzarella Meatballs
1 1/2 lb 80/20 ground beef
4 oz mozzarella, diced
2 eggs
1/3 C bread crumbs (seasoned or plain)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
3/4 tsp salt (a little less or more depending on the amount of salt in your bread crumbs)
1/3 tsp black pepper

   Combine all ingredients except beef.
   Using your hands, work beef into mixture just until everything is evenly distributed.
   Form into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a lightly sprayed baking sheet.
   Place in a 450 deg F oven for 7 minutes.
   Turn heat down to 350 deg F and cook another 10 minutes.
   (Reheat in simmering sauce if necessary.)
   Makes 18-20 meatballs.  (Serves 6-8)
Mozzarella Meatballs w/ Spicy Bacon Tomato Sauce over spaghetti

Monday, January 9, 2012

Spicy Bacon Tomato Sauce

This tomato sauce was inspired by watching The Best Thing I Ever Made family recipes episode for the I-don't-know-how-many time.  Chef Beau MacMillan's recipe is a bacon tomato sauce with buccatini and meatballs.  I've put bacon in tomato sauce before but with other stuff too; I never let bacon just do its thing.  This time I did and it was so, so delicious.
Spicy Bacon Tomato Sauce
6 slices thick cut bacon (8 regular), chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flake (more or less to taste)

   Cook bacon in a large pot over medium heat until rendered and just shy of totally crispy.  Add onions, saute until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  If onions start to stick too much to the bottom, add a little water to loosen.
   Add garlic, tomatoes, oregano, and red pepper flake.  (If using unsalted tomatoes, add ~3/4 tsp salt.)
   Simmer uncovered over med-low for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Adjust salt if necessary.
   Serves 6-8.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Roasted Baby Gold Potatoes w/ Smoked Pepper

For Christmas, my mother- and sister-in-law bought me and my husband tons of goodies from The Spice and Tea Exchange.  With Louis in mind, they bought him things that would go well with grilling and smoking.  One of the things was smoked black peppercorns.  They smell so incredible!  I knew I had to do something uncomplicated to properly highlight the unique flavor.  This easy yet elegant side dish is perfectly cuisine and season neutral.  Dress these adorable little potatoes up with a lovely steak or seafood dinner or dress them down with a burger.

Roasted Baby Gold Potatoes w/ Smoked Pepper
10 baby gold potatoes ("2 bite" size)
2.5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp crushed smoked black peppercorn (~8 peppercorns)*
pinch of thyme

   Toss potatoes with oil, salt, pepper, and thyme.
   Roast at 375 deg F for ~45 minutes, until skin is browned and flesh is tender.  Toss a couple times during cooking.
   Serves 2.

*No big deal if you don't have the smoked pepper.  Just use a nice, gourmet variety of peppercorns like a multi-color blend.  This dish is, after all, about the pepper as much as it is about the potatoes.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Spinach Pie

Did you ever think you'd be able to make a spinach pie in less than 10 ingredients?  Less than 10... and that count includes the freebies.  You can whip this up in very little time and you can always have these ingredients on hand.  Put this on a brunch buffet or serve it any time of day for a light meal and people will think you are a rockstar.
I wish I had a photo of this sliced because it sets up and cuts beautifully!
Spinach Pie
1 9inch regular pie crust, thawed if frozen
1 10oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
4 oz cream cheese (any kind but fat free)
1 med onion, diced
4 lrg cloves roasted garlic (or 2 cloves regular minced garlic)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 lrg eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

   Use a fork to evenly prick the bottom of the thawed pie crust.  Pre-bake at 375 deg F for 5-6 minutes.
   Heat 1 Tbsp of oil over medium/med-low heat in a nonstick pan.  Saute onions until very soft and starting to turn golden brown, 12-14 minutes.
   Cream together cheese and spinach.  Add onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and other Tbsp of oil.  Add eggs and mix well.
   Pour into pie shell.  Cover exposed edges of crust with foil.
   Bake at 350 deg F for 15-17 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 12-15 minutes, until crust edges are golden.
   Serves 6-8.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Chipotle Shredded Pork

If you know me, you know that I adore braised pork.  Which is why I already have several recipes for the stuff.  Normally, I like to load it with spices and various yummy things.  But I refrained from my usual healthy use of the pantry; this is a seriously parred down version.  It is still every bit as delicious, but requires half the ingredients.  Perfect for tacos, salads, nachos, sandwiches, or just on its own with some rice and beans.
Chipotle Shredded Pork
1.75-2 lbs trimmed pork shoulder (or country ribs)
1 small onion, sliced
1 small red bell pepper, sliced (or 1/2 of a large pepper)
2 lrg coves garlic, minced
2 med chipotles, minced
vegetable oil
1/2 C water
salt and pepper

   Liberally salt and pepper pork.  Heat some oil over med-high heat in an oven safe pan.  Sear pork on all sides.
   Add veggies, garlic, chipotles, and water.  Cover.
   Place in a 325 deg F oven for 1 1/4- 1 1/2 hours.  Uncover for the last ~20 minutes.
   Shred pork (it should pretty much fall apart).  Return to pan.  Heat through and make sure most of the liquid is evaporated.
   Serves 4-6.

Ingredient Count: 5
Freebies:  salt, pepper, vegetable oil, water (Because you should always have these things on hand.)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Basic Breakfast Casserole

If you still have out of town guests lingering around the house, this is the perfect easy breakfast for a lot of people.  Or great for a lazy weekend with leftovers for the week.  Seriously, a breakfast that makes tasty leftovers.  There are a lot of breakfast casseroles out there, but this one is super simple, easy, and basic.  No need for a lot of fussy ingredients.  Prep the night before, and throw it in the oven the next morning.

Basic Breakfast Casserole
10-12 oz good quality, "day old" bread (I used a sourdough)
1 lb breakfast sausage (I used a combo of Jimmy Dean hot and reduced fat)
10 large eggs
1 C milk (any kind you like)
1 1/2 C shredded sharp cheddar
1 tsp sage
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
cooking spray

   Cook sausage over medium heat until cooked through.  Crumble as you cook it.  Drain excess water and fat.
   Tear bread into roughly 1 inch pieces.  Toss with sausage and 1-1 1/4 C of the cheese in a large bowl.
   Combine eggs, milk, sage, garlic, salt and pepper.  Pour over bread and sausage.  Cover and allow to soak together in the refrigerator overnight.
   Pour soaked mixture into a lightly sprayed 13x9 baking dish top with the reserved cheese.
   Bake at 350 deg F for 35-45 minutes.  Cover with foil for the first 20-25 minutes of baking.
   Serves 8.

Ingredient count:  7
freebies:  salt, pepper, cooking spray

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Chipotle Maple Glazed Ham

I hope everyone's hangover is doing well!  
Welcome to 2012

Last January I featured healthy recipes that wouldn't bust your resolution or your wallet.  I thought about doing that again, but something has been sneaking up on me for a while.  Since I started working, I've been using fewer and fewer ingredients.  I love a lot of ingredients as long as they all harmonize.  But sometimes you don't need a lot, carefully choosing items and letting them sing can be really wonderful.  Claire Robinson has been doing the 5 ingredient thing for a while.  I don't want to box myself in that much, but this January I will be featuring Few Ingredient Recipes (So, less than 10, because sometimes that 6th or 7th ingredient would help so much!)  And I am giving myself a 4th freebie.  Claire gives herself salt, pepper, and water.  I am adding vegetable oil to that mix of free items.  So, easy, delicious recipes that leave you plenty of time to keep that resolution in check.

Yesterday's recipe kicked off the few ingredient month (even though I didn't mention it in the post.)  This ham is what I made for Christmas dinner, but would make a wonderful first dinner of the year.  And the leftovers make great sandwiches.  This was my first ham, because I generally don't like ham.  But I gotta say, this one changed my mind.

Chiptole Maple Glazed Ham
1 7-8.5lb smoked, spiral sliced ham*
1/4 C real maple syrup
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
4 small-med chipotles + 1 tsp of the adobo sauce they are packaged in
4 lrg cloves roasted garlic
1/8 C water

   If you don't want the glaze to be too spicy, remove the seeds from some or all of the chipotles.  Roughly chop the chilies.
   Combine chipotles, syrup, oil, and garlic.  Use a food processor, blender, or immersion blender to puree the mixture.  Add water to glaze and mix.
   With a pastry brush (I use a silicon one), brush half of the glaze over the ham.  Work the glaze into the cuts of the ham.  Wrap in foil, place on a baking sheet or a roasting pan.
   Bake at 350 deg F for 1 hour- 1.25 hours.  (Time may vary slightly depending on actual size of ham.)
   Remove foil.  Spread the rest of the glaze over ham.
   Return to 350 deg F oven for another ~20 minutes.
   Serves 12-14 (or a few more)

*Make sure that the ham your use is a no water added, regular smoked, bone in ham.  If it says "water added" do NOT buy it for this recipe!  The size varies so much; the ham I used was about 7.5 lbs.  A 9lb would be pushing the ham to glaze ratio but should still work.