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Calling For Some Cauliflower Soup

After last night’s elaborate meal (which was very tasty by the way; there’s not much left in the way of leftovers- a little bit of soup and steak, that’s it), we get back to an easier meal today. Today’s Cauliflower Soup is our meat free meal of the week and promises to be quite delicious. This recipe is very easy and doesn’t have a lot of ingredients to it. You can make it in about 30 or 40 minutes as well, so it works well as a mid-week meal when things can get busy.

Cauliflower Soup

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups chicken broth

1 head cauliflower, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp. paprika

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until nearly translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and cauliflower, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, until the cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes. Using a food processor or blender, process the soup to a smooth puree. Return the soup to the pan. Place over medium heat, stir in the cream and re-heat to serving temperature. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, sprinkle with the paprika and serve immediately.

This recipe doesn’t make a lot of soup (this one serves 4), so if you want more, you can always double the recipe. You could also easily use broccoli in this one instead of the cauliflower, if that’s your preference. The biscuits we made the other night would go well this meal, or a nice salad of some mixed greens to add to the soup and fill out your meal. Either would go well with this dinner.

Wow, that was a really quick entry today. One pot, quick cooking and easy clean up – just the way I like it! Tomorrow’s dinner will be Oven-Fried Catfish with rice and an Herbed Salad with a Champagne Vinaigrette. I plan to go to get the fish in the morning tomorrow, so hopefully they have catfish, or we’ll be changing up the meal tomorrow night with a different fish. We also be talking about the meal plan for next week tonight, so hopefully I will be able to put that up as well. If you would like your own meal plan to follow, print out the one I use right here:family_meal_planner. We’ll be making some good hearty meals over the next few days as we have Pot Roast on Friday and Roast Leg of Lamb on Sunday, so make sure you check in for those. They are going to be good. If you have any questions or comments or something you would like to see a recipe for, please leave me a not here or feel free to send me an email at IguanaFlats@msn.com. I hope you all have a wonderful day (it’s a little gloomy here in New York today, but not cold) and enjoy your meal, whatever it may be, this evening!

 
 

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Your Own Hamburger Happy Meal

It’s Tuesday and it’s another mild day here in New York. While it may not have you thinking of using the grill just yet (although using it all year round would be nice), today’s dinner on the meal plan might help you think more towards summer. Today’s is Sean’s pick, and he has chosen Hamburgers and Fries with salad. Nothing special or fancy about it and everybody makes them. I love a good burger myself; I think it is probably one of my favorite things to eat and it’s great for lunch or dinner and can be made any time of the year, and it can be made quickly (which is always a plus).

Skillet Hamburgers

1 1/2 pounds (80 percent lean) ground beef

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 hamburger rolls

Mix the beef, salt and pepper together. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions. Shape the meat into a loose ball, and using your hands, flatten the balls into 1-inch thick burgers. Press the center of the patty down with your fingertips to form an indentation that is about 1/4-inch deep. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place the burgers in the skillet indentation-side up and cook until the bottoms are dark brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the burgers over and continue to cook to your desired doneness. Transfer the burgers to the buns and top as desired.

Everyone has their own variation of this and things they made to the meat before cooking, so do what you like the taste of best. Just a couple of recommendations on my part. Using 80 percent lean ground beef does seem to make a difference. Any more fat than this and the burgers are greasy, any less and the meat becomes dry and pretty bland. As for the indentation I put in the meat, it’s great for avoiding the puffy burgers that you often get while cooking and also leaves you a bit of a well for your toppings. As for the toppings, the list is endless. You can pretty much put anything on top of a burger, as most of us have seen thanks to cooking shows. Personally, I love sautéed onions, some pickle, maybe a slice of tomato or a slice of bacon, maybe even some sliced avocado some times. Sean goes for just American cheese and bacon on his burger. Michelle also goes for cheese and sautéed onions, and mixes in some ketchup and mayonnaise. Let me know what some of your favorite toppings are for burgers. I might be willing to try them out!

French fries almost seem a must if you are having a burger (although I do like onion rings too, or some homemade potato salad or cole slaw, but we’ll leave those recipes for summertime). Our house is mainly a tater tots kind of house as everyone seems to like them the best. I’ll be making some homemade fries when I make our Fish and Chips recipe on Friday, but here is a good recipe for homemade Oven Fries that I have made before. They turn out great and taste better than most things you’ll get out of a bag.

Oven Fries

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 10 to 12 evenly sized wedges

5 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the potatoes in a large bowl, cover with hot tap water, and allow to soak for 10 minutes. While the potatoes are soaking, coat a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with 4 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle the baking sheet evenly with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Drain the potatoes, spread them out over paper towels, and pat them dry thoroughly. Toss the dried potatoes with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Arrange the potatoes, cut-side down, in a single layer over the prepared baking sheet. Cover the sheet tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake until the sides of the potatoes touching the pan are crusty and golden, about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes. Using a metal spatula, scrape to loosen the potatoes from the pan, then flip each wedge over, keeping the potatoes in a single layer. Continue to bake until the fries are golden and crisp on both sides, 10 to 15 minutes longer, rotating the pan as needed if the fries are browning unevenly. Transfer the fries to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Not too hard to do, if you ask me. Soaking the potatoes before you bake them is important in this recipe. They will cook much better, become crispy on the outside and be creamy on the inside. If you have a heavy-duty non-stick baking pan to use for this one, it does make your life easier as well. Just make sure you choose something to use that can hold up to the higher heat. A final note: I prefer using vegetable oil in this recipe. Olive oil leaves a distinct flavor on the potatoes that you may not want.

The final part of the meal, as we have had before in our meal plan, is a simple salad. You can check out my list of salad and accompaniments here from a previous blog entry if you like. I will, however, post a new dressing recipe today. A lot of people seem to like Ranch dressing, and you might want some to dip your fries in or use for a dip for veggies, so here is a good one to try. One note about this recipe, use fresh herbs for it. I tried it with dried and it just doesn’t work out well.

Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

6 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

A pinch of sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. The dressing, covered, can be refrigerated for up to 4 days; whisk to re-combine before using.

If you want a low-fat option of this one, use non-fat buttermilk, non-fat sour cream and low-fat mayonnaise and increase the amount of lemon juice to 2 tablespoons.

That about does it for today’s meal. Tomorrow is one of Sean’s favorites and Michelle picked it. We’ll be having breakfast for dinner, but it is also going to be our meat-free meal this week, so no bacon or sausage. We will be making pancakes and hash browns, and maybe some eggs too, we’ll have to see how that goes. Sean will only go for the pancakes and hash browns anyway. Breakfast for dinner is always a good choice; everyone seems to like it. Enjoy the rest of your day, have fun cooking tonight, and enjoy the burgers, if you make them. As always, feel free to leave a comment or just say hello!

 

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Dressings, Potatoes, Salad

 

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Warm Chicken Salad on a Chilly Day

It’s a nasty, rainy, cold day here in Harriman today. Today would have been better suited for the potato soup we made on Tuesday, but that’s the way the menu kind of fell out this week. Michelle and I used to eat Warm Chicken Salad at least once a week when we first got married, before Sean was born. It’s such a quick, easy meal that could be thrown together at the last-minute. it’s also great to make for a buffet-style party to put out with other foods, giving a healthier choice for people to eat. Another nice thing about this recipe is that you can really put in as many or as few ingredients as you like. We all like different things in a salad, and this gives a great opportunity to “customize” your meal however you would like it.

Warm Chicken Salad

1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs ( I am using my own, but you could use panko or other store-bought if you like)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon water

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat

1 package mixed salad greens, such as romaine, spinach, arugula, mesclun or Bibb lettuce

Salad additions (recommendations to follow recipe)

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and set aside to cool. Wipe the skillet clean. In a separate shallow dish, add the flour and 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. In a third shallow dish, add the egg and water and lightly combine. Dredge the chicken in the flour, lightly shaking off any excess. Then dip in the egg mixture and then dip in the breadcrumbs. Press on the breadcrumbs to make sure they adhere. Over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Add in the chicken and saute until golden brown on the first side, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken over and continue to cook until it is no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes longer.Transfer the chicken to a plate and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Arrange the chicken with the salad and any accompaniments. Toss lightly and serve.

The nice thing about salad is you can add whatever you want to it. Here is a list of a few suggestions:

Cucumbers (I prefer the English ones myself)

Shaved Carrots

Olives (any kind you like really)

Artichoke hearts

Tomatoes – I find the cherry tomatoes work best in a salad

Avocados

Radishes

Scallions

Peppers – if you want a bit of  color

Hard-boiled eggs – you could just add the whites if you don’t like the yolks

Crumbled bacon

Cheese – whatever kind you like really – feta, cheddar, Asiago, blue cheese

Nuts – sliced almonds or walnuts work well

Beans – chickpeas and black beans are both great in salad

The combinations are virtually endless. They are so many different ways to serve this dish that alone it could probably make 20 different recipes. This also makes a great lunch if you just refrigerate the chicken after sauteing and want to have some the next day. Three more things about salad I want to say. One, fresh, clean greens are essential to a good salad. If you don’t have a salad spinner, I think you should invest in one. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on it and you will notice the difference in the way the greens of your salad turn out. Two, dressings, as I have said before, seem to be a personal choice. You don’t even need a dressing for this dish if you don’t want one (Many times we don’t use one). For this salad, I think just about any dressing is a great addition, although something creamy like a ranch, a blue cheese or a creamy garlic might be the best. There are lots of good brands available that you might like, or feel free to send me a message and I would be glad to supply a recipe for one to you. Third, I love a salad with croutons. Homemade croutons taste far better than anything you will buy at the store, and the store-bought ones are usually loaded with preservatives anyway. Besides saving money by making them yourself, you can add whatever spices you like to them for extra flavor. Here is a recipe for some simple garlic croutons.

Garlic Croutons

3 tablespoons olive oil (it really does taste better if you can use olive oil for this one)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups (1/2-inch) bread cubes (I don’t think it matters what kind of bread you use for this, as long as you cube it to a uniform size)

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the oil, garlic and salt together in a large bowl. Add the bread cubes and toss until thoroughly coated. Spread the bread onto a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the croutons to cool at room temperature before serving.

Like the salad, you can add lots of things to the taste of the croutons, like chili powder, rosemary, thyme, oregano, Parmesan cheese, paprika, whatever you might like to taste.

That’s all that’s to dinner tonight. Light, healthy and quick, just the way we wanted it to be. Tomorrow I really am going to the fish market to see what I can get, so it’s kind of a mystery as to what I’ll be cooking (just don’t think of it as the Manager’s Choice that used to appear on the lunch menu in school). We’ll also be laying out the meal plan for next week tonight, so I will post that as well if you’re interested. If you’re interested in using the meal plan, here it is if you want to print it out:family_meal_planner. As always, if you have any questions, comments (good or bad, I’m not sensitive, I can take it) or just want to say hello, please feel free to leave a comment or a message. hopefully you’re enjoying the recipes and can use some of the ideas for your own cooking. Until tomorrow, enjoy your evening and try to stay warm if you’re here in the Northeast. Might be a good night for hot cocoa, or an Irish coffee!

 

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Dinner, Equipment, Lunch, Salad, Vegetables

 

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Nothing Better Than Cooking a Meal Ahead of Time

Today I was really glad we had cooked tonight’s meal ahead of time. It was a crazy day and I haven’t had a lot of free time to do things like blog or cook. Luckily, we had made tonight’s dinner for the meal plan on Sunday night and refrigerated it, so it was just a matter of re-heating and serving. Tonight is Potato Soup with a side salad and some crusty bread. Nothing fancy tonight, and it is our meat-less night of the week and this one really hits the spot. Potato soup is one of my favorites and it is so easy to make. The prep time is simple and then it just cooks on the stove. It also freezes really well if you want to save some for another day or use for lunches (This is a good kid’s school lunch if you can send them with a thermos. This soup is one of Sean’s favorites).

Potato-Leek Soup

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter

2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and rinsed thoroughly

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups chicken broth (I use homemade, use that or store-bought. If you use store-bought, try to go low-sodium)

2-3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

1 3/4 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (we used large russets this time and only used 3 or 4. Red potatoes also work well with this dish)

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Stir in the leeks and the garlic. Cover and cook until the leeks are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the broth, carrots, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Smash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken the soup (or use an immersion blender or pour some of the soup into a food processor and puree, then return it to the pot with the rest of the soup). Discard the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Another quick entrée in the books. I like one pot meals from the clean up standpoint as well. A couple of notes about this soup. We usually let it cook longer, maybe an extra 15 minutes or so, because we like thicker soups. If you like more liquid, don’t thicken the potatoes or add a little milk or cream instead of thickening the potatoes. Also, if you have never prepared leeks before, leeks tend to be very dirty and gritty and need lots of rinsing. My best bet for preparing them: trim and discard the root and the green leaves. Slice the trimmed leek in half lengthwise, then cut it into 1/2-inch pieces. Then rinse the cut leeks thoroughly in a bowl of water to remove dirt and sand. Make sure you really sweat the leeks down before you add the liquid in this recipe. We use 2 large leeks, and they sweat down to next to nothing by the time they are done, so you could use even more if you want to, or even add an onion in for some extra flavor.

Wow, it seems like I am cheating since that is basically the whole meal tonight. The salad we are making is just mixed greens that I purchased in the bag and rinsed, added some English cucumber and shaved carrots and some black olives. You could use any dressing you like, or not at all. last week, I posted a recipe for Balsamic Vinaigrette. That’s a family favorite. We’re not using this vinaigrette today, but this Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette is tasty and simple to make.

Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette

 3/4 cup olive oil

 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 shallot, minced

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Shake all of the ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring it to room temperature and shake vigorously to re-combine before using.

Throw in a loaf of your favorite crusty bread (I love Ciabatta myself) and you are all set with a very easy meal. It’s hearty, it’s filling, it’s good for you and it’s great for a winter’s night, even if it is pretty warm for January here right now.

With my schedule being kind of hectic the last few days, I haven’t had a chance to get to the fish market yet, so we are moving the fish meal to Thursday and making one of my favorite meals tomorrow – Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, and Brussel Sprouts. I’ll go to the fish market Thursday and get something fresh to make. Any suggestions? I am pretty open-minded when it comes to fish and will try just about anything. I am trying not to break the bank though on the cost, so try to keep that in mind if you have any suggestions as far as the fish goes.

Other than that, I hope everyone has a great night and thanks for reading the blog. I am grateful for whatever visits I get here, and to have had over 200 in a short time to me is pretty good, so I thank you for following. If your planning on watching President Obama tonight, make yourself a nice cocktail and relax so you don’t get too agitated by what you may hear, one way or the other. Enjoy your evening and happy cooking!

 

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Dinner, Salad, Soups & Stews, Vegetables

 

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Planning Your Meals This Week (and Some School Lunches Too)

I didn’t cook today, but we did do our shopping for this week’s meal plan I really do find that the plan helps me in staying on budget as far as shopping. Sure, there are still impulse buys now and then (who can resist a treat now and then) and I do have to buy household items once in a while (garbage bags, storage bags, toothpaste, etc.), but for the most part we really do only buy what we need to make the meals for the week. We do a lot of our shopping at BJ’s Warehouse Club, so we do get essentials that last us for a while, but I have found we can also get good deals on things we use a lot of, like diced tomatoes, pasta and rice, but we also get good deals on meat and poultry and produce. I can buy ground beef or london broil and get enough to freeze for several more meals. The same can be said of poultry. I buy the larger packs of boneless chicken breasts and whole chickens there and we get many meals out of it and also use the chicken carcass to make stock later on for soups. I then supplement that with a short trip to the supermarket for things I can’t get at BJ’s (which isn’t too much) and a trip to Adam’s Farms in Newburgh, where I get our fish for the week and some local produce.

Anyway, for this coming week, this is the meal plan:

Monday – Turkey Meatball with sauce, baked potatoes, broccoli (this was Sean’s choice this week)

Tuesday – Baked Potato Soup (this was Michelle’s pick, and is our meatless meal of the week)

Wednesday – Fish. I didn’t get to the fish market today, but I will go Wednesday morning and pick something out after I see what looks good.

Thursday – Meat Loaf, Mashed Potatoes and corn (this one was my pick)

Friday – Warm Chicken Salad (Michelle picked this one)

Saturday – Peppered Steak, White Rice, Cauliflower and carrots (Michelle picked this one too)

None of the meals are difficult this week and all can be made in a short amount of time. As a matter of fact, we are making the potato soup tonight and refrigerating it for Tuesday. I didn’t have to buy anything out of the ordinary this week other than leeks that we are using in the soup and the peppers for the peppered steak. I bought meat loaf mix of beef, pork and veal that I buy either for meatloaf or meatballs. The London broil was 2 large steaks that I quartered and froze so I’ll only need one piece when I make the peppered steak on Saturday. The ground turkey I bought will be used for meatballs and a portion frozen to be used later on either for chili or turkey sausage (I do make my own for breakfast sausage; it tastes really good and I will be posting that recipe at some point when we make a “breakfast for dinner” one night). Other than that, the rest of the ingredients we will use this week are things we already have in the house, refrigerator or freezer.

Now that dinners are planned for the week, I thought I would spend a little bit of time writing about school lunches. School lunches can be a problem sometimes. Sean buys lunch from school about once a week or less often, mainly because the choices that they have for lunch are, well, less than desirable. It’s pretty rare that when I ask Sean if he wants to buy that he says yes, but I am sure he gets tired of eating either a cheese sandwich or peanut butter and jelly every day. We have thought about doing warm lunches for him in a thermos, but he eats lunch so late in the day that even the thermos wouldn’t keep it warm for him. For others of you, however, warm lunches may be a good option. There is a good blog out there right now called “The Mom With Moxie” by Bree Glenn and she has a good posting on some ideas for school lunch planning. Here is the blog if you want to check it out:http://www.themomwithmoxie.com/2011/11/04/8-resources-for-healthy-fun-school-lunch-box-planning/. She offers up a great list of sites here for some good school lunch ideas. I was able to pull a few ideas off of Good Housekeeping’s website from here also, but if you want to go to Good Housekeeping directly, here is their link:http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipes/healthy/ideas-kids-school-lunches. I thought the ideas of Turkey Meatball Pitas, Ham and Cheese Pitas, Chicken Noodle Soup and the Mozzarella and Tomato Sandwich were all good ideas for lunches. There are several other great links on Bree Glenn’s blog about the school lunches that I think will be very helpful in getting some ideas for things to pack for the kids. If anyone has any other great ideas for school lunches, please pass them along and comment here. I am always looking for something new to offer Sean and I am sure plenty of other Moms and Dads could use some ideas as well.

I think that covers everything for today. I hope to go into greater detail on school lunches and some good recipes of my own in a later blog. I want to do a little more research and try out some recipes with Sean first before I put anything up here for you to try. Tomorrow will be the recipes for Turkey Meatballs with sauce, Baked  Potatoes and broccoli. I know, we seem to eat a lot of broccoli, but Sean really likes it so he seems to pick that one all the time. I need to find a few more recipes to find some more interesting ways to cook it. If you have any thoughts on that, feel free to share! Enjoy what’s left of your weekend, and if you’re watching the Giants-49ers game, enjoy the game! (what will you be snacking on during the game? I already plan to post some things as we get closer to Super Bowl Sunday)

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Lunch, School Lunches

 

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It’s Friday, it Must be Pizza!

Today is Friday, and I think for a lot of family, Friday is often a pizza night. It’s the end of the week, you don’t really feel much like cooking, and just getting a pizza and relaxing is very easy. We get pizza about once a month. We all love the pizza from Kinchley’s Tavern in Ramsey, NJ. It’s great thin crust pizza that you could eat a whole pie of yourself> Here is there Facebook page if you want to check them out: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kinchleys-Pizza/148265588527562?sk=info. If we are getting pizza locally, we do often get it now from Marina’s Pizza here in Harriman, NY. I like their pizza; it’s not greasy, tastes fresh and they have good toppings available for a decent price. if you want to check out their Facebook page, it’s here:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marinas-PIzza-Restaurant/111556995541047?sk=wall. Of course, there is always the alternative of making your own pizza. We do this about once a month as well. I have to admit, I don’t make my own pizza crust. I probably should, but I just don’t have the counter space for rolling and kneading dough. I do buy pre-made dough and make it that way and we also have used Boboli crust to make large pizzas and mini-pizzas (they sell the small, individual crusts for Boboli). I personally don’t have a problem using either one of those as a good option to make your own pizza. Once you have the dough or the crust, the rest is, well as easy as pie :). I do have a recipe for a basic pizza dough, and if anyone wants it I will be happy to post it here, or if anyone has one of their own and would like to share, please let me know or share a comment so we can all have it.

Classic Cheese Pizza

1 recipe of basic pizza dough (or store-bought dough, which is what I am using)

1 recipe Quick Pizza Sauce (recipe to follow, but hey, remember the spaghetti and meatballs we made on Monday? I am using the sauce from that for the pizza)

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Olive Oil

2 tablespoons torn fresh basil

Flour for the counter (if you need it for your own dough)

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, place a  pizza stone or baking stone on the rack, and heat to 500 degrees F. Let the stone heat for at least 30 minutes. (Don’t have a pizza stone or baking stone? No problem. You can bake the pizza on a rimless or upside-down baking sheet that has been preheated like a stone.)

If you’re using store-bought dough, like I am, stretch and shape the dough into a 12-inch round on a piece of parchment paper. I do this by flattening the dough ball into a disk. Using my fingertips, I press the disk until it is about a 1/2 inch thick. Then, holding the center in place, I stretch the dough outward. Rotate the dough a quarter turn and stretch again. i repeat this until the dough reaches a diameter of about 12 inches (of course I eyeball this, I don’t sit there with a ruler!). I then use my palms to flatten the thick edge of the dough.

Spread 1 cup of sauce over the dough. leaving a 1/2-inch edge of dough uncovered. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Lightly brush the edge of the dough with oil. Slide the parchment paper and pizza onto a rimless baking sheet, then slide it onto the hot baking stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is golden in spots, 8 to 13 minutes. (If you’re making more than 1 pizza, now is a good time to start the next one).

Transfer the pizza to a cutting board, discarding the parchment paper. Sprinkle with the fresh basil and cut the pizza into 6 wedges. Let the stone re-heat for 5 minutes before you start the next pizza.

Quick Pizza Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

Salt and pepper

Heat the oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the garlic is sizzling, about 90 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can literally put just about anything on pizza. We are using this meal as our meatless one this week, so it’s just plain cheese for us, but remember those leftover meatballs from Monday (we just used the sauce)? Slice them up and put them right on the pizza before you heat it.  Some of my favorite toppings are Italian sausage (I take it out of the casing, crumble it and saute it before using it on the pie), sautéed onions, sliced black olives, mushrooms and even some buffalo chicken (I plan on using this one as one of my meals later on down the road). Let me know what your favorite toppings are or what you think would be great on a pie.

Now, every meal we have has to have a vegetable in it, and much to Sean’s chagrin, tonight is salad. He doesn’t like salad, so I still have some leftover broccoli and carrots that he will have instead. I am using simple greens tonight; just a spring mix of greens I bought that has spinach in it as well. We’ll add some cucumber ( I prefer the English cucumber) and some shaved carrots, and maybe a hard-boiled egg white, and that’s it. Feel free to add whatever you like to the salad. I sometimes use red onion, artichoke hearts, scallions, black olives, peppers, toasted nuts, cherry tomatoes, and some crumbled bacon. I’ll be making a warm chicken salad for a meal next week, so we’ll see more things in the salad then. As for dressing, i find that it’s a personal thing. Everyone has their own tastes of what they like and don’t, which store-bought brands taste better, etc. We always have a couple of store-bought dressings on hand, usually ranch and thousand island, but tonight I am making a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

3/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons minced shallot or red onion

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (optional)

1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, dill, basil or oregano (whatever you feel like, I am using oregano, it goes better with balsamic)

1/2  garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Shake all the ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 7 days; bring to room temperature, then shake vigorously to re-combine before using. if you don’t want to use balsamic, you can substitute red or white wine vinegar.

A very easy dressing to make with ingredients you almost always have around the house. That’s the meal for today. Nothing fancy, and you can use some of the leftovers from earlier in the week if you want. Tomorrow is Michelle’s choice, and we are having Chicken Parmesan with Pasta and cauliflower for a vegetable. I’ll also be letting you know what the meal plan is for next week if you want to shop along, and I think we are going to make some soup tomorrow as well since the impending snow here will have us housebound. Enjoy the Friday night!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Salad, Sauce

 

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Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

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