Posts tagged ‘pizza’
Everyone has a slightly different meaning of appropriate cook-out foods depending on your cultural and regional backgrounds. Growing up in NJ, a summer BBQ always meant hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, and chips. To my husband, who was born in Brazil, no cook-out is complete without linguica (Brazilian sausage) and short ribs. I have also heard that BBQ and cook-out can signal two totally different affairs if you are from the southern US.
No matter what, it is hard to disagree that anything off the grill just screams summer. My husband got a new Weber charcoal grill for his birthday yesterday, so we are excited to have many grilled treats this summer. Here are some of my favorite summer recipes for the grill. These are all perfect for any special graduation celebrations or Memorial Day BBQs coming up!
The one thing I miss most about home, besides my family and friends, of course, is the grill. I do not own a grill in Boston, and love grilled foods during the summer months. There is something about the open flame and cooking outside that makes everything taste better, from mushroom burgers to vegetables to pizza! I made sure to request all of my favorite grilled foods while I was relaxing at home for the week, and my mom and I had a blast grilling together!
My mom has been making grilled pizza for years and it has always been one of my favorite meals. You take homemade pizza dough, cook it directly on the grill for a few minutes on each side, and then top it with your favorite pizza add-ons. (I love making non-traditional pizzas loaded with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and as many veggies as I can think of.) Cooking the dough directly on the grill gives it a great crispiness that mimics brick oven pizzas, but in a unique and homemade way. It can be a challenge to get the crust right, and takes constant attention as to not let it burn. (See the bottom of the post for step-by-step pictures). If this is not your thing, you can always use a pre-cooked crust from the grocery store and then warm it up on the grill after topping it. Give this pizza a try this summer, it is worth the extra step!
1 batch pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
1 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp Balsamic vinaigrette
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch asparagus spears
1 medium Vidalia onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
6 oz goat cheese
2 oz Parmesan cheese
If making dough from scratch, prepare dough. While it is rising, toss the cherry tomatoes with the garlic and 2 tbsp of Balsamic dressing. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus spears. Roast the vegetables in a grill basket for 5-7 minutes, or until the cherry tomatoes are wrinkled and ready to burst. Remove from the heat and separate. Cut the asparagus spears into bite sized pieces. In a medium saucepan over the stove, heat olive oil. Add the sliced onion and cook until soft. Add 1 tbsp Balsamic dressing and allow the onions to continue to cook until they are dark brown and slightly caramelized. When ready to create the pizza, form dough into a roughly round pizza shape. Rub both sides with olive oil. Preheat the grill and clean the rack. Place the dough directly on the grill rack. Turn down the flame, close the lid, and allow the dough to cook for 3-4 minutes. Carefully flip the dough, and cook for 3 more minutes. Keep a close eye on the dough at this point – you want it to rise and cook, but not burn. When the dough is cooked, transfer to a large sheet of aluminum foil. Spread with the roasted cherry tomatoes, squishing them slightly to release the juices to form a crust. Layer on the caramelized onions and asparagus pieces. Dot with goat cheese crumbles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Close grill and allow to heat through for 7-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Cut into slices and serve.
Not only were my meal creations earlier this week tasty for two days in a row, but they also were really simple to make! And they lend themselves to fun alliterative names! You’ve waited long enough, so here are the stories and recipes behind the pictures…
My mom frequently stocks me up with bulk goods from Costco, which makes me a happy camper to have an endless supply of shelf stable nut butters, pasta, quinoa, raisins, oatmeal and other staples. One of my Mom’s favorite gifts are Tasty Bites Madras Lentils. She leaves a box in her office for a quick, filling, healthier-than-fast-food lunch when work gets out of control. They are all natural and vegetarian, and taste really good for a pre-packaged meal. My only problem is that I never find a need to use them as is! Between dinner plans with friends and a well stocked freezer with my own frozen leftovers, I rarely run into an emergency situation that necessitates a lentils and rice kind of meal. However, even shelf stable food eventually expires! I had two pouches to use up and wanted to spice things up a little bit… hence, the Cheater’s Chili was born! Vegetarian chili is not too difficult to make in the first place, and this takes even less effort for a fast weeknight meal!
2 pouches Tasty Bites Madras Lentils
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 large can tomatoes, chopped with liquid
2 small red onions, sliced thinly
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
2 sweet potatoes
Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Roast on a greased pan in the oven for a half hour, until they start to soften. Meanwhile, saute the onions in the juice from the canned tomatoes. Once the onions are soft, add the tomatoes and chickpeas. Add the sweet potatoes and bring to a low boil. Add the lentils and spices and stir to combine. Cover and let cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!
The Persimmon Pizza came about in a similar need to rid my fridge of older produce before receiving my latest Boston Organics shipment. Persimmons are not an east coast local food, and I had heard very little of them before receiving them from a friend and her mom. There are two types: hard and soft, with the latter having an almost jelly like consistency. The hard can be sliced and eaten in wedges, and remind me of a cross between a tomato and apple. The flavor is growing on me, but I still couldn’t eat them fast enough! The sweetness of the fruit reminded me of figs (even though they taste nothing alike) and so it made me feel like they would pair well with goat cheese. After a Google search of “persimmon pizza,” I found a blog that linked to another blog written in Portugese. Nothing that Google Translate can’t solve! My suspicions were confirmed: garlic, basil, goat cheese, and persimmons do in fact make a wonderful pizza. I added some spinach for some of my own veggie flair, and this pizza was finished within two days. My dinner guest loved it, and I was glad to have someone to experiment on!
1 batch pizza dough, rolled into a rectangle
1 tbsp olive oil
sprinkle of garlic powder
sprinkle of dried basil
3 cups spinach, lightly steamed
2 persimmons, sliced thinly
4-5 oz goat cheese
Roll pizza dough into a rectangle and transfer to a greased cookie sheet. Drizzle crust with olive oil and dust lightly with garlic powder and dried basil. Top with spinach, persimmon slices, and crumbled goat cheese. Cook at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes, and then broil for 3 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.
Wait, what is today? Wednesday? Are you sure? Maybe it’s because my meals and snacks for the past two days have been shockingly similar, or maybe all this time cooped up at my desk is starting to get to me… but I can hardly keep the days straight any more! I am not a meal repeater and need variety in my eats, so you know these must be good if I could eat the exact same thing two days in a row! Recipes will be up tomorrow, so this is just to whet your appetite!
Oatmeal, of course! Today’s flavor was chai spiced: I steeped a chai tea bag in hot water while I was finishing up last night’s dishes. When the kitchen was clean(ish) and I was ready to make breakfast for real, I removed the tea bag, added some milk and brought it to a boil. I added in my oats and chia seeds, a dash of ginger, and a few shakes of cinnamon. Sweetened with a spoonful of honey at the end – it was like a chai tea latte with some staying power!
Fruit and nuts both days! Today’s mixed was perked up with the last handful of my chocolate covered espresso beans… it’s never to early for a chocolate pick me-up, right?
A big bowl of “Cheater’s Chili” two days in a row! Sweet potatoes, lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes and onions… so simple and good! You’ll have to come back tomorrow to see why I cheated! Lunch was paired with an apple, but those are boring to photograph!
I made the mistake of running an errand hungry. I couldn’t resist the 75% off candy corn at Rite Aid, but was able to create an intervention when I got home. I made this great sweet-n-salty snack mix with air-popped popcorn dusted with cinnamon, salted peanuts, and candy corn. The popcorn fills you up before you can eat too much candy corn, and it satisfies all cravings at once!
Have you eaten a persimmon before? Until last week, I had never even heard of them! My friend’s parents have a persimmon tree in their backyard in CA, though, and so I got to try a few from the last shipment. Not so sure if I am a fan of just eating them sliced, but I am a fan of them on this pizza! They are super sweet, and so I got the idea from a fig and prosciutto sandwich I tasted over the summer in Italy. How can you go wrong with a goat cheese pizza, right? A friend and I enjoyed this pizza for dinner last night, and I am looking forward to the leftovers for tonight! You can look forward to it as well… the recipe will be up tomorrow!
It snowed in October, and now it’s almost 70 degrees? Can someone tell the weather on the East Coast to stop messing around? Darkness at 4 pm and a noon run in shorts cannot coexist in my mind. But whether or not my mind is okay with it, that was my day! Thanks to Jenn for another WIAW – head over to check out other blogs for meal inspiration and recipes, and maybe join in next time! Here is a glimpse into my unseasonal day.
My newest blog project is to come up with a different flavor of oatmeal for 30 days. It was the brainchild of my roommate and friend Jon, and I am excited to see what delicious bowls come of it! I am sticking with just hot oatmeal, no baked or overnight oats or other fancy things. Just simple, low sugar, healthy and hot oatmeal bowls! Today was supposed to recreate a sugar cookie (with very little sugar, of course!) but had too much banana flavor. Banana oats aren’t bad though! I have an idea or two to get the sugar cookie oatmeal just right… like my page on Facebook for early previews of some oatmeal creations along the way!
Pre-run snack: 11am
Studying took longer than expected this morning. I wanted to be on my run by 11am so I could just eat lunch when I got back, but a few tough kidney problems (and chatty friends ;)) got in the way of that! To tide my hunger and keep me going for my run, I snacked on a homemade Larabar for pre-run fuel. I made these a few weeks ago, and they are still good out of the Tupperware in my fridge!
Did I have time to run for an hour? Not really. But the sunshine was taunting me through the window all morning and I just couldn’t resist. I set out in the beautiful weather, in shorts and a T-shirt (crazy!), for what is likely my last long run along the waterfront. I covered 7.1 miles and enjoyed every minute of it, not worrying about my pace or an upcoming training goal or the studying that faced me when I returned. I will still run outside during the winter, but it gets too windy to run along the water (I almost got blown away last week!) so this was probably my last time running one of my favorite routes until spring.
I always thought that a pita pizza was a common concept, but I am finding out that many of my friends have never heard of it. So spread the news about a cheater’s homemade pizza! This is a fast, easy, and fun way to get some veggies! To take it over the top, I like to make a slit in my pita and stuff it with a bit of cheese. So today for lunch, I enjoyed not just any pizza, but stuffed crust pita pizza. A bit of simple homemade sauce (just canned tomatoes and paste mixed together) with spinach, red pepper, and onion on top? Enough said. This kept me pretty full even after a long run, so my afternoon snack was just an unpictured apple and some unsweetened iced tea at Panera this afternoon.
I had some kale to use up and a friend coming for dinner, so I knew a soup was in my future! I wanted something a little different, so I tried out this recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for a North African Chickpea and Kale soup. Even without the saffron, the soup was still delicious! Warming wasn’t exactly what we needed on such an unseasonably warm evening, but we enjoyed the light spiciness of the broth! My friend contributed bread from Au Bon Pain, and brought dessert along as well! Whatever these were (Coconut Cherry Macroons dipped in chocolate, I think?) they were ah-mazing. I love coconut, and these were so great to savor slowly over great conversation, laughter and tears. I ended my night with more tea and a few handfuls of granola while cramming for my upcoming exam. Hopefully I have studied enough today between running, blogging and socializing, to do what I need to on this exam!
Question: What is your favorite pizza topping?
Restaurant options in Orebic were quite frankly underwhelming. We had been warned of this possibility by our friend before our arrival, but it was still disappointing to see that it was true. There were several restaurants dotting the shore line of the small town, but each boasted a very similar menu of pizza, Italian-style pasta dishes, or overpriced seafood. Further complicating the problem, everything contained ham! My friend, who is Muslim and cannot eat pork, therefore had even fewer options, the menu now pared down to three different pizzas she could choose from. Coastal Croatian cuisine is strongly influenced by neighboring Italy, but we knew the real deal was around the corner and did not want to overload on the available pasta options. Therefore, a limited selection of pizza it was whenever we went out!
Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza. Maybe not as much as the next person, but a good slice of pizza can really hit the spot. I just usually don’t have that craving four days in a row. For this reason, we cooked at home for three dinners and brought picnic lunch to the beaches. Because we didn’t overload on pizza, it was really special when we did have it! Here are a few highlights from our restaurant outings!
My favorite pizza had thinly sliced eggplant and fresh olives and was absolutely heavenly! Garlicky flavor with a great thin crust. We weren’t sure about ordering it at first because the English menu listed it as aubergine, which isn’t a term that any of us were familiar with. Azra actually had to look at the word in Croatian (the languages are similar enough to Bosnian) to figure out that it was an eggplant! We felt a little silly… but the pizza and the view made up for it! We enjoyed our pizza on our day trip to Korcula, a really beautiful old town that tries to take credit as Marco Polo’s birthplace, although I am still unconvinced of the historicity of their claims.
The most surprising meal I ate was in Dubrovnik, where I ordered off the breakfast menu for lunch. The dish was entitled “The Dubrovnik” although I am unsure of why. It was a delicious platter of homemade garlic flat bread with smoked salmon, a few anchovies, freshly made feta cheese, and tomatoes. I traded my college roommate a bit of flat bread for some cucumbers to fully round out my meal. I decided that I didn’t like the salted anchovies after eating two of the four, but fully enjoyed the smoked fish, fresh feta and vegetables. And the garlic bread was out of this world. I could have been satisfied eating that alone.
Of course most dinners were washed down with a good house beer (toceno pivo). What is better than pizza and beer? Not only was the beer really good, but it was also really cheap. Even if we cooked dinner at home, we frequented a restaurant with great outdoor seating for a big beer. One thing I might miss about Croatian restaurants! We even caught a display of fireworks there one evening, coincidentally on the evening before July 4th. Even as ex-pats we found a way to celebrate the 4th with watermelon, beer and fireworks!
This post is in honor of my beautiful sister, my best friend in the whole world. We have been practically inseparable since we were little (we looked through some baby pictures last night for proof!) and have been through a lot together. She is always my nurse and expert milkshake-maker after surgery, and now it is my turn to repay the favor. Over the past year, she has had increasingly severe intestinal pain, mostly associated with eating. Last summer, we realized that one trigger of her symptoms was dairy, and so she gave up lactose-containing products. Initially, her symptoms seemed to disappear, but slowly, they began to come back, even without any lactose in her diet. However, she is not a complainer, and so for the past year has masked how bad she has truly been feeling. However, she could not hide for much longer as the pain continued to escalate. After talking to some friends and doing a little research, we realized that gluten (a protein in all wheat products) could be another potential trigger. We realized the magnitude of this realization, especially since my sister’s favorite foods in the world are pizza and bagels (like any good Jersey girl!). After thinking about it for a few weeks, however, my sister concluded that feeling better was more important than her beloved treats. Therefore, she started avoiding gluten last week. In order to be supportive, I am also going gluten-free for these initial few weeks. Even after just a few days, she is already feeling so much better. The sparkle in her eyes and the joy of her smile has returned, and she is no longer sluggish and sick after meals. She is going to see a doctor to confirm her self-diagnosis, but until then, all of my cooking (and recipe posts) will be gluten-free and lactose-free for the next few weeks.
Since my sister’s favorite Jersey treat is pizza, I knew that would be something incredibly difficult for her to give up. I mean, that is the least Chelsea-friendly food in the world, with all that lactose-laden cheese and doughy crust! Therefore, I wanted to experiment with a pizza that would be much more Chelsea friendly. Can you believe that I did it? A lactose-free, gluten-free pizza? When I told my sister, she balked, “Well, what’s even on it? Sauce?!” Eating for a special diet requires a little more creativity and planning, but this delicious pizza proves that it can be done.
I have not yet tackled gluten-free baking since it requires so many replacements (funny named flours, xantham gum, special mixes, different baking times, etc.) and so decided to play it safe with a store-bought gluten-free crust for a trial run. It is expensive, but this crust was so good… my sister and I could hardly tell that it was gluten-free! I made a roasted tomato sauce to up the flavor quotient in every way possible, and it was delicious! Check out this new how-to for making a roasted tomato sauce, which you can use for pizza, pasta, or even as a dip! Lastly, I topped it with prosciutto, fresh basil, and caramelized onions, which I had made the night before in my slow cooker. The slow cooker is seriously my new favorite gadget – caramelized onions are usually so labor intensive, but these took me all of 10 minutes to prepare! With all of the flavor from the different toppings, no one missed the cheese at all. And as with my new theme, everything for this dinner (with the exception of the onions) was made on the grill, giving the crust a cool, crispy texture. My sister was really happy, especially after having a bad food day filled with not knowing what she could or should eat within her new guidelines. Even if you aren’t gluten or lactose intolerant, try out this pizza (you can use a normal crust too!) And if you are vegetarian or vegan, replace the prosciutto with some roasted veggies. Grilled eggplant or balsamic-soaked mushrooms would be a great option here. I guess the moral of this post is to never let food allergies or preferences stand in your way of eating excellent, healthy food. With a little creativity, you can enjoy meals inspired by old favorites that fit your new dietary needs.
Question: Do you or anyone in your household have food allergies/intolerances? How do you deal with cooking meals, and where do you turn to for recipes and inspiration?
Prosciutto and Caramelized Onion Pizza with Roasted Tomato Sauce
inspired by this recipe at Pioneer Woman Cooks
2 personal sized gluten-free pizza crusts, or 1 recipe of whole-wheat pizza dough
1 tbsp olive oil
1 recipe of Roasted Tomato Sauce
1 tbsp fresh basil
1/2 cup caramelized onions
6-8 thin slices of prosciutto
If the pizza dough is uncooked, roll out into desired shape and thickness. Place on an oiled cookie sheet or pizza stone and bake for 15-18 minutes at 400 degrees in oven. Alternately, place on oiled aluminum foil and cook on low heat on the grill for 10 minutes. Once dough is pre-baked, top with a few spoonfuls of roasted tomato sauce, chopped fresh basil, caramelized onions and prosciutto. Split toppings evenly between pizzas if making it personal sized, gluten-free pizzas. Cook directly on grill over low heat for 5 minutes until toppings are warmed through, but make sure heat is low enough to not burn the bottom of the crust.