Cooking

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella

If you’re thinking I have too many recipes for Panzanella on this site, you may be right. But seriously, Panzanella is one of the best things on the planet. It’s right up there with goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, eggplant, and chiles. You can see I get obsessions…

I’m not a traditional Panzanella maker, either. For one thing, I always toast and salt my bread. I love the crunchy texture of toasted bread in contrast to soft vegetables. It’s very satisfying! And, well, I kind of have this other obsession with Sel Gris and Pink Himalayan sea salts, so I tend to use one of the other (probably) more often than I should. Luckily, I have very good blood pressure.  Most Panzanella recipes also call for vinegar, but I opt out of this ingredient, and stick with olive oil, salt (see above), pepper, and plenty of fresh garlic. In my Artichoke Panzanella, however, I did use lemon zest.

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella

The best part of Panzanella is, as long as you’re not a traditionalist, its versatility. Mix and match vegetables with different styles of bread, and you have an entire new dish! For this version, I roasted zucchini, red pepper, yellow pepper, and onion, then tossed in fresh grape tomatoes and basil. If you prefer your tomatoes roasted, too, however, toss them into to oven, as well. I highly suggest experimenting to find new Panzanella recipes that make you swoon! (more…)

Strawberry Mango Salad with Pomegranate Shallot Vinaigrette

In the heat of summer, it’s often hard to think about food, much less eat a full meal. There are days when only water and ice cold popsicles sound appetizing. Especially Otter Pops—those non-frozen popsicles you buy in a box and stick in your freezer, and once they are frozen you push the sugar water out of the slinky plastic wrap. Ah! Nothing quite says summer like Otter Pops. When I was growing up, Otter Pops didn’t have characters, and I only remember four flavors. Now Otter Pops are all kinds of cute.  Anyway, on those kinds of energy-sucking-sticky-with-heat days, I find light lunches and dinners of fresh fruit and veggies are just the ticket. I love salads any time of year, of course, but summer particularly requires refreshing meals, just as winter is rich, warming comfort food time.

Summer is also a great time to find fresh fruit, and if you haven’t yet ventured into combining greens with fruits, nuts, and cheese, you should give it a try! Veggie salads are tasty, but fruit and veggie salads are juicy, delectable, crave-worthy treats. For this salad, I use strawberries, mango, toasted pecans, and chévre, with a pomegranate shallot vinaigrette. The result is a sweet, creamy, crunchy salad with accents of bitter greens and a delicate onion flavor from the shallots. (more…)

Margherita French Bread Pizza with Garlic Oil

Do you remember Stouffer’s French Bread Pizzas? I LOVED them as a kid, and even as an adult, if I’m “forced” to buy frozen pizza, I’ll run straight for these little guys. They’re like little bread boats of pizza goodness. And for me, they are the perfect size, especially for an easy lunch, or dinner when the hubby’s away.

I’ve made my own French bread pizzas plenty of times, but always with marinara sauce. While watching The Food Network channel a few weeks ago, however, I tuned into an episode of the Barefoot Contessa, and watched her make this super simple recipe for Garlic Oil. As soon as I saw it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it—Margherita pizza, which traditionally uses olive oil in lieu of marinara sauce. Garlic infused olive oil would add another dimension to the pizza, I thought. Plus, I absolutely love garlic on pizza. Especially pepperoni and fresh garlic, but that’s another story…

To make things easy on myself, and add a bit of fun, I picked up French bread to use instead of pizza dough. The day was hot, hot, and I didn’t want to spend time in the kitchen kneading and rising dough. To accompany the French bread, I bought Purple Cherokee (I believe) heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil. That’s it. That’s all you need for these pizzas. Oh, and pinch of sea salt, and some fresh ground pepper. Okay, I also snuck in some fresh spinach leaves, but that’s optional. Pretty simple, huh? (more…)

Food Alert: Synthetic Food Coloring

Synthetic coloring isn’t something most of us consider when making food purchases. We may look for sugar, sodium, fat and other nutritional content, but how many of us actually read through the list of ingredients? And if we do, do we even know what we’re reading? So much of what goes into processed foods isn’t even pronounceable. Also, food coloring is often used in meats (farm raised salmon) and fresh fruits (oranges, to correct brown spots), which don’t contain ingredient labels. Synthetic coloring is something we should all be aware of, however, as research has shown it to be harmful to humans in many ways. The concern is great enough that several colorings have already been pulled off the market, and there is pressure to pull more.

What are the dangers of synthetic food coloring?

• ADHD
• Cancer
• Tumors
• Sterility
• Hormone Disruption
• Chromosomal Damage
• Allergic Reactions
• Asthma
• Headaches
• Immune System Suppression (more…)

Grilled Chipotle Turkey Philly

A classic Philly Cheesesteak is made with thinly sliced steak, onions, and cheese (often American). Well, the only part of that sandwich that’s edible to me is the onions, and while today’s Philly often includes ingredients such as peppers and mushrooms, they’re still not my kind of sandwiches. I don’t eat beef, and American cheese, not to mention Cheese Whiz, which is a popular Philly spread, bothers me. I’ll refrain from say disgusts, but really… In my sandwich, I substitute turkey breasts for the steak, and a good stinky provolone for the American cheese. I also use onions and red and green peppers, as well as a spicy chipotle sauce. And I grill all of it. It’s really not a Philly since I’ve taken the Philly out of it, but it’s inspired by, so I’ll use the name to describe it.

Grilled Chipotle Turkey Philly

Ingredients:

2 large turkey breasts (find these next to the chicken breasts)
1 large red onion
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
6-8 large deli-style slices of Provolone cheese
6-8 hoagie style sandwich rolls

2-3 chipotle chilies
2-3 tsp. adobo sauce (the chipotles come packed in this sauce)
2-3 tbsp. honey (depending on taste)
2-3 tbsp. olive oil (depending on desired consistency)
1 tbsp. white wine or apple cider vinegar

Guidelines:

Butterfly the turkey breasts so they are of even thickness. Coat them in a high flashpoint oil, such as canola, and salt and pepper.

Remove the stem and seeds from the peppers and cut them in half. Coat them in a high flashpoint oil, such as canola.

Halve the onion and peel apart the layers. Coat the slices in oil.

Combine the chipotle sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix as well as possible. It should be slightly chunky, as the chipotles like to hold their structure. I use a spoon to chop them apart.

Place the turkey breasts on the grill over moderate heat. When they are ¾ of the way done (they take up to half an hour), place the vegetables on the grill. At this point, take about half of the chipotle sauce and transfer it to another bowl (or paper plate, etc.) for brushing over the turkey breasts. (You don’t want to contaminate all of the sauce with any uncooked turkey, as you will be using the remainder to drizzle over the sandwiches.)

Once everything is cooked, let cool, then thinly slice everything.

Place one slice of cheese on the hoagie sandwich roll and toast in a toaster or regular oven until hot and bubbly.

Heap the onions, peppers, and sliced turkey into the roll, and drizzle chipotle sauce over the filling.

Honey Chipotle Pork Tacos

I made the BEST tacos EVER Sunday night. Swoon. The idea for these Honey Chipotle Pulled Pork Tacos came from an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network. I only caught the last few minutes of the process of making the tacos, but the general idea stuck with me. And my gawd did they look good! There are two key parts to this recipe—the sauce and the process of melting the cheese on the tortillas. You essentially prepare half a quesadilla to put the pork and toppings into. The melted cheese and slightly crispy tortilla adds loads of texture.

Honey Chipotle Pork Tacos

I don’t know how they cooked the pork at the restaurant, and I can’t remember what toppings they used, but here is my version. Also, I didn’t measure the ingredients for this recipe, so I can only offer you guestimates. It’s easy to adjust the sauce, however, so guestimates will work. (more…)

Packed Lunch Favorites

It’s so easy to pack an unhealthy lunch. Cookies, chips, crackers, sandwiches piled with processed meats and cheese and slathered in mayo. Yick. I don’t keep any of that stuff in my house. If we’re craving it, we have to drive to the store and get it. Usually, it’s not worth the hassle. And the “not in my house” rule has made for much healthier (and tastier) packed lunches. Yes, it requires cooking, but I take Sunday afternoon to listen to the football game(s) and cook for the entire week. Here are some of my favorite recipes from three of my favorite sources. Buy these cookbooks, and visit the blogs, and try them for yourself! (Our lunches usually consist of some type of sandwich or burrito, a green salad, a bean or grain salad, yogurt, fruit, and a granola bar, muffin, or other homemade sweet treat.) (more…)

Pacific Northwest Pizza

There is a pizza shop in town that advertises on their website a Northwest Territory Pizza that I wanted to try. We called to order it one night, and they had no idea what we were talking about. Apparently, they are a regional chain, and our chain doesn’t carry that particular pie. Truth be told, I’m not much of a fan of this pizza joint anyway, so it wasn’t too disappointing. A few weeks later, I gathered similar ingredients and made my own version. I wasn’t satisfied with it, however. It was too salty, and the cheese wasn’t right. Like the pizza advertized, I used Gorgonzola and Parmesan, but the combo was overkill and you couldn’t taste the other delectable ingredients. I shelved the idea for a while and came back to it a few weeks ago. This time with great results!

Pacific Northwest Pizza

I don’t think pizza should have a bunch of rules and measurements. I think you should use the ingredients in good balance, and use more of those particular ingredients you like or whose flavors you want to emphasize. When I made this pizza, I opted for more apple and sundried tomato, and went light on the walnuts and mushrooms. I also went light on the cheese, using just enough mozzarella to cover most of the pesto sauce, and a light sprinkling of Parmesan over the toppings. Choose a pesto sauce you really like, because you’ll definitely be disappointed if your pesto sauce isn’t appealing. (more…)

Sausage and Potato Pizza

This is an incredibly rich pizza. I definitely suggest making a thin crust, and using light to moderate amounts of cheese. A side salad with a vinaigrette dressing will also help lighten up the meal. As for the crust, use your favorite recipe, but I’d steer clear of 100% whole wheat, or the store-bought Boboli shells, as both are dense, and will only weight down the pizza even more. Use the highest quality Sweet Italian sausage you can find. Don’t use ground sausage, or breakfast sized links. Neither will produce very good results. In my humble opinion… I’ve used Trader Joes brand, and also Johnsonville, which weren’t too bad, but if you have a nearby butcher shop, check it out. Look for them with the Brats. Red potatoes are less starchy than other types, so I’d stick with them. I also think the Fontina works beautifully here. If you can’t find Fontina, try a mild to medium white cheddar.

And yes, I know, I make a lot of pizza!

Sausage and Potato Pizza

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3-4 tbsp. olive oil
  • large grain sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Sauté garlic and herbs in butter and olive oil until fragrant. Keep warm.

(more…)

Quattro Formaggi and Olive Pizza

Wow. Another pizza post. You’re probably wondering if that’s all we eat in my house. Really, it’s not. For some reason, it’s one of the few foods that inspires me to blog, however. Maybe it’s just my lack of time that stifles my creativity in the kitchen. It is soooo hard to cook, and cook something original, when you work odd hours and have to be ready to show property on a moment’s notice. As such, we’ve been eating a lot of simple dishes lately because of my random schedule. But I had time to crave a cheesy, olive pizza, and actually make it this past week. It really makes me want to get back in the kitchen on a regular basis. We’ll see…

As usual, the ingredients are relative. I offer approximates. The rest is up to your personal taste.

Quattro Formaggi and Olive Pizza

Ingredients:

Pizza dough for a 16-20 inch pizza

1 16 0z. can diced tomatoes (low sodium preferable)
basil, to taste
oregano, to taste
garlic, to taste
crushed red pepper flakes (optional), to taste
olive oil (more…)