Monday, May 30, 2011

Grilled Pizza

This was my first time trying pizza on the grill and it was a hit!  Quick, easy and so yummy!

Naan (Indian flat bread) I picked up on a trip to Whole Foods, but pita, foccacia or any other flat bread would also work.

I chose grilled veggies as a topping - eggplant, crookneck squash, zucchini, onions and green bell pepper.  Any topping will work, be sure meats are pre-cooked and if you prefer softer veggies, grill/cook them a little before putting them on the pizza.

Grilling Veggies
  • Gently warm a little olive oil, add some sliced garlic and your favorite herbs (I used oregano and fresh basil).  Once the oil is infused, you can baste your veggies before grilling.  (If you are in a hurry, you can just add a little garlic powder instead of fresh garlic and skip the warming or just use plain olive oil - it is still yummy.)
  • Slice the veggies lengthways about 1/2 inch thick.  Keep the slices large to avoid dropping through the grill.
  • Lightly drizzle infused olive oil over the veggies and rub to evenly coat surface.  This not only imparts flavor, it keeps the veggies from drying out and from sticking to the grill.
  • Optional - sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place veggies on grill, keep an eye on them zucchini and eggplant go from perfect to burnt very quickly.
Assemble the Pizza

  • Cut your veggies to your preferred topping size - small dice to large slices.
  • Apply sauce to bread base - tomato sauce, olive oil, alfredo
  • Add toppings and cheese
  • Place pizzas on grill

  • Keep the fire low to avoid burning the bottom of the crust faster than you melt the cheese. 
  • Place the pizzas on the grill and close the lid.
  • Check the bottom of the crust after about 5 minutes, if you find a hot spot,  move that pizza to another spot on the grill.
  • Once the cheese is melted and the crust is "grilled", it is time to eat!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rice Pilaf

You never have to settle for plain rice again.  Use this recipe as a starting point and experiment with your own variations.

Rice Pilaf
Adapted from "The Language of Baklava" by Dianna Abu-Jaber

4 - 6 tablespoons butter (can substitute/blend with olive oil)
4 ounces spaghetti noodles, crumbled (can substitute any tiny pasta - orzo, pastina, etc.)
2 cups long-grain rice
4 cups water (or homemade/low-sodium chicken broth)
1 teaspoon salt (leave out if using broth)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pepper to taste

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in bottom of large heavy saucepan with lid.  Crumble uncooked spaghetti into warmed butter, stir until spaghetti just begins to "toast".  Add rice, and if needed additional butter.  Continue to stir until rice is coated and spaghetti begins to smell nutty.  Add liquid and salt and turn up heat to bring to a boil.  Once water is boiling, cover with lid and lower fire to simmer, approx. 20 minutes.  Turn off heat and let stand 10 minutes.
Melt remaining butter in small sautee' pan and toast pine nuts until golden.

Sprinkle butter and pine nuts over rice and dust with cinnamon.  Add pepper to taste.

  • Add or substitute almonds or pecans for the pine nuts and/or add dried cranberries, golden raisins, dried cherries.
  • To make a rice dressing or to make this dish a main course, add cooked crumbled sausage or ground beef/turkey.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding (edited)

In New Orleans, everyone has a favorite bread pudding recipe:  some with pineapple, some with raisins and apples, many with "hard" sauce (see below).  I tried a new variation on my mother's bread pudding recipe.  DS and I LOVE pumpkin, so as an alternative to Krispy Kreme's Pumpkin Spice Cake Donuts, I thought I would make a special Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding.

(If you have never had bread pudding, it is like a big baked pan of french toast.)

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding

4 cups stale bread cubes (french bread and brioche are best, but any bread will work - even stale cake doughnuts, remember to adjust the sugar accordingly)
3 cups milk (I used 2 cups milk and 1 cup almond milk)
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 can pumpkin (approx. 1 cup)
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (adjust to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar (you can adjust to your taste - you can also add sauce)
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
2 tablespoons Steen's Cane Syrup (optional)

If you do not have stale bread, place sliced/cubed bread on a sheet pan with sides and "toast" in a very low oven, just enough to dry out the bread.

Place bread cubes in a buttered baking dish.  In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients, except pecans, making sure to fully beat eggs.  Slowly, pour custard mixture over the bread.  Allow bread to absorb the custard mixture.  Sprinkle pecans over the top, and gently stir into mixture.  Allow mixture to sit about 5 minutes to allow custard mixture to soak into bread.

Set baking dish into a larger dish, filling the larger dish with water (bain-marie).  Bake in 350 degree oven for approx. 1 hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean and custard is cooked.

Delicious warm, or at room temperature (I will even eat it straight from the fridge).  If desired, top with sauce (see below), or you may also use whipped cream, melted jelly, or dust with powdered sugar.

Pumpkin Spice Sauce
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Mix ingredients until sugar is dissolved.  Add more water or sugar to desired consistency.

For a "hard" sauce, add 1 jigger of bourbon, rum, Cointreau or your favorite liquour.

Slow-Cooked Lentils

This is a great quick and economical meal.  It is not the most beautiful dish (especially if you let the lentils become over-done), but it is delicious.  This makes about 7 one cup servings.

16 ounces lentils (approx. 2 heaping cups)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped carrots
1 can diced tomatoes (I like the fire roasted)
3 cups chicken broth (can substitute water or beef broth)
1 cup diced sausage (can substitute ham or leave out for vegetarian meal)
salt and pepper to taste (if using broth and sausage or ham, do not add additional salt)

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker, cover.
Cook on high for 4 - 5 hours.
At 4 hours check for doneness and, if necessary, add additional liquid if it has been absorbed by lentils.

Serving suggestions:
  • Serve with a chunk of good quality bread.
  • To make a complete protein, serve over rice (white or brown).
  • Add a few teaspoons of chili powder to make lentil chili.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Apple and Sage Pork Chops

My guys love pork chops and (since I can take them or leave them) I am always looking for new recipes.
DS actually suggested this recipe when he saw a McCormick's Recipe Inspirations spice mix at the grocery store.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention, so I made several changes from the original recipe:
  • used a  thinner 1/2 -inch chop in place of 1-inch
  • substituted chicken broth and teaspoon of honey for apple juice
  • added pepper and Tabasco
  • reduced the amount of sage and thyme
  • increased the garlic (just a little)

While prepping my ingredients, I had pictures of Peter Brady saying "pork chops and applesauce" running through my head.   The sauce was wonderfully thick and rich with the right balance of sweet and savoryI hope you enjoy this fall-inspired dish as much as we did.

Apple and Sage Pork Chops

1 1/4 pounds boneless pork chops (1/2 - 1 inch thick - based on your preference)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 1/2 teaspoons dehydrated minced garlic (if you use fresh garlic, add it to the pan with the apples)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 red apples, thinly sliced
1/2 cup apple juice (or chicken broth)
1 teaspoon Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
  • Rinse and pat dry pork chops.
  • Season flour with spices, salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with seasoned flour.
  • Heat olive oil in large skillet and brown pork chops on both sides over medium-high heat.
  • Remove pork chops from skillet and put in warm oven.
  • Add onion, cook and stir for 3 minutes.  Add extra olive oil or a little butter, if needed.
  • Add apples, cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Add extra olive oil or a little butter, if needed.  Add fresh garlic, if using.
  • Stir in juice, Tabasco, sugar, honey and any remaining seasoned flour until well mixed.
  • Return pork chops to skillet, bring to boil and reduce heat to low.
  • Cover and simmer 5 minutes or until desired doneness.
Serve with buttered egg noodles and steamed green beans.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pumpkin Penne

September 29th is Pumpkin Day!!  One of my favorite foods.  I thought you might like trying pumpkin in a different way.  We will be having this for dinner tonight followed by pumpkin pie.  I will try to add a picture to the post after dinner.

Pumpkin Penne

1 12 ounce box whole-wheat penne (you can substitute your favorite pasta)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped (can replace with 1/4 cup onion or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder)
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 15 ounce can pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

  • Cook pasta according to box directions, drain and return to pot.  Cover to keep warm.
  • In saucepan, heat oil on medium.  Add shallots, coook and stir until tender, about 3 minutes.
  • Whisk in broth, evaporated milk, pumpkin, spice, salt and pepper, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.
  • Simmer uncovered for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Toss pasta with sauce.
  • Top individual servings with parsley and parmesan

Monday, September 20, 2010

Swordfish and Spaghetti with Citrus Pesto

Recipe from Giada DeLaurentis/Food Network

This was delicious, but I did not stop to take a photo.  This was the first time I have ever had swordfish and it is a wonderful firm flesh fish.  If you are in a hurry or don't have any fresh basil, you could use jarred pesto and add the lemon and orange zest and juice.
For the Citrus pesto:

1 pound spaghetti pasta (recommended: Barilla)
1 bunch fresh basil, about 3 cups leaves
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1 lemon, zest grated and juiced
1 orange, zest grated and juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan

For the Swordfish:
4 (6-ounce) swordfish steaks
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid.

Blend the basil, pine nuts, garlic, zests, juices, salt, and pepper in a food processor until the mixture is finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Toss with the warm spaghetti and the reserved pasta water.

Meanwhile, place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Brush both sides of the swordfish fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the swordfish 3 to 4 minutes a side for a 1-inch thick fillet.

Transfer the pasta to a serving platter and top with the grilled swordfish fillets and serve.