Deep Dish Sausage Pizza

August 30th, 2010

By Sheri

RICH AND CHEESY DEEP DISH PIZZA

As much as I love crispy crust regular pizza, sometimes there is nothing as satisfying as the deep dish kind. It’s almost like a pizza casserole if there was such a thing! This deep dish pizza has three components: the crust, the filling and the cheese topping.

Feel free to vary the ingredients. Use your favorite sausage as well as the veggies in season or what you have on hand. I like to use some aged cheddar in the cheese topping for a little zing, but you can just stick to mozzarella and Parmesan if you prefer.

DEEP DISH SAUSAGE PIZZA

CRUST

2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (or 1 package)

2 tsp honey

1 cup warm water

2 ¼ cups plus ¼ cup whole wheat flour

¼ tsp salt

2 ½ tsp olive oil

FILLING

1 cup broccoli florets

1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup zucchini – chopped

¼ cup onion – finely chopped

¼ cup white wine

1 tsp prepared mustard

¼ tsp pepper

2 cups garlic white pasta sauce
or your favorite

8 oz soft Italian sausage or your favorite – casing removed

CHEESE TOPPING

2 ¼ cups of cheeses such as a mixture of mozzarella, Parmesan and cheddar
or your favorite combination

1.  Add the yeast and honey to the warm water. Stir until dissolved and set aside.

2.  Add 2 ¼ cups of the flour and salt to the yeast mixture. Blend to create a soft dough.

3.  Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it until it’s smooth and stretchy. Keep adding flour from the remaining ¼ cup to your hands, the dough and the surface to prevent the dough from getting too sticky.

4.  Place the dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for about 50 minutes in a warm place. The dough should be doubled in size.

5.  Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Place the risen dough in the pan and press it down and up the sides to make a crust. Set aside and prepare the filling:

6.  For the filling, saute the vegetables in a heated pan with cooking oil at medium heat. Add the wine, mustard and pepper and cook for about a minute until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Mix in the sauce and remove from the heat.

7.  Cook the sausage removed from its casing in a separate pan so it’s crumbly and browned. Drain and add the sausage to the filling mixture.

8.  Place the filling on top of the dough in the baking pan. Bake about 25 minutes at 375 – 400F. Sprinkle the cheese blend on top of the deep dish pizza and bake another 10 – 15 minutes until the cheese is melted. Cool a few minutes before serving.

End Of Summer Caesar Burgers

August 30th, 2010

By Sheri

THE FLAVOR OF CAESAR SALAD IN A BURGER!

For a change from plain burgers, Caesar ground beef patties can be awesome. If you’re really intensely craving the taste, you can even serve a Caesar salad along with these similarly flavored burgers. I like to think of these as a little change of pace to kind of celebrate the near-end of the summer barbecue season.

I’m not a fan of anchovies, but if you are I’ve include them in the recipe since a true Caesar salad is supposed to have them. I’d rather just have lots of garlic and Parmesan cheese instead. Remember to cook burgers with no pink in the meat or juices. The meat should be brown all the way through and the juice should run clear.

END OF SUMMER CAESAR BURGERS

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

3 cloves garlic – minced

1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

2 ½ tsp finely-grated lemon rind (zest)

1 ½ cups mayonnaise

2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

(2 tsp anchovy paste – optional)

1 ½ cups soft bread crumbs – cubed from fresh bread

3 lbs lean ground beef

12 hamburger rolls

12 slices bacon – cooked crispy

Romaine lettuce leaves

1.  Combine the Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, lemon rind, mayonnaise, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and anchovy paste, if using, in a bowl. Take ½ cup of the mixture out and reserve it in the fridge to top the romaine lettuce leaves with in the cooked burgers.

2.  Add the rest of the Parmesan cheese mixture to the ground beef in a large bowl. Also toss in the bread crumbs. Mix well and form into 12 burger patties. Refrigerate the patties for about 40 minutes to marinate them.

3.  On a preheated grill at medium heat, cook the burger patties about 8-10 minutes or until they are cooked through and no pink remains in the meat or its juice. A meat thermometer inserted into the centers of the patties should read 160F.

4.  Lightly grill the roll halves if desired, Spread mustard onto the halves if you like. Top each bottom roll half with a cooked burger. Add the cooked bacon and romaine lettuce leaves to each patty. Spoon dressing on top. Place the upper roll half onto the burgers and serve.

Homemade Mushroom Deluxe Pizza

August 30th, 2010

By Sheri

MAKE A YUMMY DELUXE PIZZA

Making pizza dough from scratch isn’t really that difficult. Sure, you’re not going to be able to toss it up in the air to stretch it out, unless you’re an expert juggler. You also probably may not have a 800 degree pizza oven. However, you can control the ingredients and the result can be delicious to say the least.

The exact toppings you use are up to you – feel free to improvise. This recipe is for a deluxe style that typically has mushrooms, green peppers, black olives and at least one type of meat such as pepperoni.

For the seasoned tomato sauce, it’s best to use your favorite homemade recipe – you can always save the rest for a spaghetti meal or something. In a pinch though use canned or jars, but for me these are way too sweet so at least use a top quality type without tons of cheap sugar added!

HOMEMADE MUSHROOM DELUXE PIZZA

DOUGH

1 ½ tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp honey

½ cup warm water

1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour

¼ tsp salt

2 Tablespoons cornmeal

2 tsp olive oil

SAUCE

1 cup seasoned tomato sauce – preferably homemade

TOPPINGS
pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil and chopped parsley

1 ½ lbs sliced mushrooms

3 ounces pepperoni or other meat

black olives, green pepper slices, and any toppings you want

1 ½ cups cheeses of your choice such as mozzarella blended with cheddar and Parmesan

1.  Using a large bowl, mix in the yeast and honey with the warm water. Leave this sit for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the flour plus the salt into the yeast mixture. The dough should be soft.

2.  Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it’s smooth and stretchy. Keep adding the remaining ¼ flour to your hands, the surface and the dough to keep it from sticking.

3.  Grease a large bowl, place the ball of dough into it and cover the top of the bowl with a clean towel. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.

4.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle about 12 or 13 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the cornmeal on a baking sheet, then place the circle of dough on it. Use your thumb and fingers to crimp the edges of the dough crust to make an edge.

5.  Brush the dough with olive oil and bake in a preheated 500F oven for about 7 minutes.

6.  Spread the tomato sauce onto the pizza. Sprinkle on pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil and chopped parsely.

7.  Add the mushrooms, cheeses, meat and toppings of your choice.

8.  Bake about 10 more minutes or until hot all the way through with the cheese melted.

Quick Chicken And Green Pepper Stir Fry

August 30th, 2010

By Sheri

GREEN PEPPER RINGS LOOK GREAT IN A STIR FRY!

Oh these rushed, getting ready for back to school/work days!

By having the chicken and veggies ready to go in small or thin pieces, cooking time is a snap. You could have everything prepared and stored in the fridge. Then all you’d have to do is cook up a pot of rice. The stir fry itself takes only about 10 minutes.

I used to use reduced-sodium soy sauce because I need to cut down my salt intake. However, I got tired of paying for water, so I now buy the full strength and water it down myself! Sliced oranges and a glass of cola go well with this meal. Of course, a few fortune cookies for dessert are great too!

QUICK CHICKEN AND GREEN PEPPER STIR FRY

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs – cut into bite-size chunks

3 Tablespoons plus 1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1 ½ Tablespoons plus 1 Tablespoon cooking oil

2 cups green peppers – sliced into thin rings

½ cup onions – sliced into thin rings

2 cups broccoli florets

¼ cup soy sauce

½ cup orange juice

1 – 2 cloves garlic – minced

sprinkle pepper

1.  Place chicken chunks into a container with a cover or a zip type plastic bag. Toss the chicken with 3 Tablespoons of the cornstarch.

2.  Heat 1 ½ Tablespoons of the oil on medium-high in a large frying pan or wok. Stir fry the chicken in the hot oil for about 5 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove the cooked chicken and set it aside.

3.  In a small bowl, stir the remaining 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch into the soy sauce, orange juice, minced garlic and pepper. Set this aside.

4.  Heat the remaining 1 Tablespoon of cooking oil and stir fry the broccoli for about 4 minutes until tender-crisp. Add the thinly sliced rings of green pepper and onion and stir fry for a few minutes before adding the cornstarch and orange juice mixture as well as the cooked chicken pieces.

5.  Cook all of the the stir fry ingredients, stirring well, so that the veggies aren’t overcooked and the sauce has thickened and is bubbling. Serve hot over cooked rice.

Skinny Mini Meat Loaves

August 29th, 2010

By Sheri

MMMMM INDIVIDUAL MEAT LOAVES!

Little loaf pans can be fun to bake mini cakes in, but they’re also perfect for individual meat loaves. It’s a great way to serve portion sized food when you’re watching your fat and calories. Of course, use lean ground beef.

Don’t worry if you don’t have mini loaf pans! You simply divide the meat mixture into 4 portions and shape them into loaves and bake on a cookie sheet!

Another skinny tip is to use extra tomato sauce so that you use some on your mashed potatoes (a mmmmust serve with the mini meat loaves!) instead of too much butter. If you make enough meatless spaghetti sauce you can use some for this recipe, then have enough for another meal. For your other meal, make up some meat balls for spaghetti and you won’t miss the ground beef in the sauce.

SKINNY MINI MEAT LOAVES

1 lb lean ground beef

1/3 cup onions – minced

½ cup bread crumbs

1/3 cup seasoned meatless tomato sauce
(plus 1 ½ cups or more for top and potatoes)

1 large egg

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ to ½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp tarragon

½ tsp oregano

¼ – ½ tsp garlic powder

parsley to sprinkle on top before serving

1.  With your hands, mix all ingredients except the parsley together in a bowl. If using mini loaf pans, divide the mixture into 4 portions and place into the pans. If you’re not using little loaf pans, line a cookie sheet with foil and form 4 loaves on the foil.

2.  Add about 2 ½ teaspoons of meatless tomato sauce on top of each individual meat loaf. Bake at 450F for about 25 minutes until cooked through and no pink remains. A meat thermometer inserted in the centers of the loaves should read 160F.

3.  Serve with hot mashed potatoes and more of the tomato sauce heated up if desired. Zucchini makes a good veggie accompaniment.

Easy Breakfast Corn Fritters

August 27th, 2010

By Sheri

TURN LEFTOVER CORN INTO BREAKFAST!

If you boil up a few extra ears of corn on the cob, then remove the kernels and store them in a bowl in the refrigerator, you can include them in a nice change from regular pancakes. Corn fritters with leftover kernel corn can make a delicious breakfast topped with syrup or honey.

The fritters may also be reheated or eaten cold or at room temperature for snacks. Most kids like corn fritters and with back to school season in the midst, it’s a good way to sneak in some veggies into breakfast or a snack. Using a cornbread mix makes a hot breakfast on a school or workday doable if you have the corn kernels all ready to go.

EASY BREAKFAST CORN FRITTERS

6 – 7 ounce package cornbread mix

1 ½ cups corn kernels – cooked, leftover

1 large egg – beaten

½ cup milk

1 Tablespoon cooking oil

1.  Blend the cornbread mix with the corn kernels, beaten egg and milk together in a bowl.

2.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan or grease a griddle.

3.  Drop large spoonfuls of corn fritter batter into the pan or griddle and cook between 1 – 2 minutes on each side. Press the fritters down with a spatula after turning them. Serve with your choice of honey or syrup. A few slices of turkey or regular bacon on the side plus a cold glass of apple juice can be a delicious way to start the morning!

CORN TIP:  Look for corn cobs with tight, rather than loose, rows of kernels. As a general rule, the yellowest kernels are the sweetest, however, the longer you store the corn husks before cooking, the more sweetness gets lost.  White or peaches and cream bi-color corn tends to be milkier rather than as sweet as yellow corn.

Summer Vegetarian Lo Mein

August 19th, 2010

By Sheri

ZUCCHINI NEVER TASTED SO GOOD!

Once in a while I enjoy making a pasta dish with tofu rather than meat, fish or poultry. Tofu can be extremely versatile since it absorbs whatever flavors you’re using. It’s great in Asian-themed dishes with soy sauce such as Lo Mein. I prefer the extra-firm tofu, but firm could be used if you can’t find that.

Since zucchini is typically so plentiful in the summer, it’s a great choice for Lo Mein. You can use basically any type of veggies, but a good mixture is essential as the dish has tofu only and no meat. Tofu can be delicious if you pan fry it oil in a single layer and let it turn golden brown for some crunch appeal.

I like to pick a cooler summer night to make this Lo Mein dish, but you can also make it early in the day, refrigerate it and reheat by tossing in a hot frying pan before serving. If you’re trying to curb your salt intake, like me, use reduced sodium soy sauce.

SUMMER VEGETARIAN LO MEIN

about 2 Tablespoons cooking oil

13 – 14 oz pkg. drained tofu – extra-firm or firm
cut into ½ inch cubes, then lightly pressed between
paper towels to squeeze out extra moisture

8 – 9 oz pkg. linguine – fresh preferably, or dried

2 – 3 cloves garlic – minced

1 medium bell pepper any color – sliced thinly

1 large zucchini – sliced into semi-circles about ¼ inch thick

2 stalks celery – cut Julienne into thin sticks

2 large carrots – cut Julienne into thin sticks

¼ soy sauce – regular or reduced sodium

½ tsp sesame oil

pepper to taste

1.Boil linguine until tender.

2.Heat half the oil in a frying pan and saute the drained tofu cubes in single layers until golden-brown. Remove from hat.

3.Heat the remaining cooking oil. Add the vegetables and stir fry a few minutes until tender-crisp. Add the tofu and cooked linguine in about the last minute or so of cooking time to reheat.

4.Remove pan from heat. Stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil. Top with a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper.

Catch As Catch Can Broccoli Skillet Supper

August 16th, 2010

By Sheri

TURN PLANNED LEFTOVERS INTO A QUICK MEAL

Ever since I first heard the phrase “catch as catch can” used to describe a meal in which leftovers and whatever was in the kitchen was fair game to turn into a creative meal, I’ve loved and incorporated the idea. Gradually, I started cooking the ingredients for my favorite creations a few days ahead of time and saved the amounts I needed.

For instance, if we were having broccoli as a side veggie, I’d steam extra, cool it and store it in a bowl in the fridge for a few days. The next day, I’d make a meal with rice such as a stir fry and once again cook and save extra. Another great thing to do for easy skillet meals, or casseroles when the weather gets cooler again, is to keep a plastic bag in the freezer in which you add grated and Parmesan cheeses to so that you can always add it to your quick meals at the last minute for a cheesy finish.

CATCH AS CATCH CAN BROCCOLI SKILLET SUPPER

(I love this meatless, super-cheesy combo, but feel free to come up with your own take – meat, fish, another veggie or two – anything goes!)

cooking oil

1 large onion – finely chopped

1 – 2 cloves garlic – minced

pinch each oregano and basil

salt and pepper to taste

3 cups cooked brown rice

1 – 1 ¼ cups cooked broccoli florets

at least 1 ½ cups grated cheeses
(such as Parmesan, cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella
right from the freezer is okay!)

1.  In a large frying pan, saute the onions in cooking oil under almost cooked. Add the garlic and seasonings and turn the heat down.

2.  Add the rice and broccoli and stir constantly so the rice doesn’t stick to the pan.

3.  When the mixture is hot, remove from heat. Stir in the cheeses and serve immediately! A side salad or sliced tomatoes is an excellent accompaniment to this speedy skillet supper.

Picnic Cooler Food Ideas

July 30th, 2010

By Sheri

PACK LOTS OF SIMPLY DELICIOUS FOODS

The best picnic and camping cooler foods are those that travel well and are simple, but delicious. Use sturdy air and water tight containers so your foods don’t get ruined by melting ice in the cooler. You could use freezer packs or fill plastic bottles with water and freeze them – these can double as extra beverages too. The cooler’s temperature should be at least 40F degrees

Tailor the foods you bring to accommodate allergies and preferences, but in general, classics such as ice cold lemonade, sandwiches and cookies or bars are enjoyed by all. Something about the outdoors seems to jump start most appetites, so bring enough without going overboard on prep time or variety.

You can bake even months ahead by stockpiling extra chocolate chip cookies, brownies and coconut macaroons in the freezer. You can even pack them in containers frozen depending on how soon serving time will be. Its a good idea to also bring containers of chilled grapes, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and/or celery sticks.

An easy recipe for homemade lemonade and a variety of sandwich ideas follow:

HOMEMADE LEMONADE

½ cup water

1 cup sugar

juice from 6 lemons

water to get a drinkable consistency

1.  In a sauce pan or double boiler on low heat, start heating the water. Add the sugar, stirring constantly until it dissolves. Stir in the lemon juice.

2.  Add as much water to make a drinkable consistency. Remember that if you’ll be adding ice later, don’t  overdo the water. You’ll get about 6 glasses from this recipe so you can go from there.

3.  The night before the picnic, you could pour half the lemonade into a bottle and freeze it. Then, when it’s time to pack the cooler, add the remaining lemonade. If you’ve made it a bit stronger, you can bring water and/or ice to add at the picnic or camp site.

SANDWICH IDEAS

Peanut butter and banana on whole wheat wraps

Spread whole wheat tortilla wraps with peanut butter and add lengthwise slices of banana before rolling up each wrap.

Pizza wraps

Spread seasoned tomato sauce onto any flavor of wrap. Add grated cheese and pepperoni or sausage. Roll up each wrap.

Roast beef rolls

On whole wheat rolls, spread on mayonnaise and mustard. Add overlapping slices of cooked roast beef or corned beef plus spinach leaves if desired.

Cream cheese and bacon

Use multi-grain bread and spread both sides with cream cheese. Fill with cooked bacon slices and spinach leaves.

Grilled Campsite Pizza

July 29th, 2010

By Sheri

USE A CAMPING GRILL TO MAKE PIZZA

Grilled pizza can be fun to make when you’re camping if you take care to watch the crust and turn it before it gets too brown. A light brown with some grill lines is the way to go. Bringing everything ready to go is also a good idea. If you prepare the toppings before leaving home and pack them into containers with good lids, you’ll be able to wash out and use them during your camping trip to hold leftovers from other meals. Some pre-made coleslaw on the side and brownies for dessert can complete the grilled pizza meal.

A covered grill is needed for this pizza as it’s the enclosed steaminess that will heat the sauce, toppings and melt the cheese. You can bring a bag or container of grated cheeses with you to top the pizza. A large wooden cutting board and metal tongs work well for getting the hot pizza off of the grill safely. The board can be used for food prep for the camping trip as well as a place for setting hot pots.

GRILLED CAMPSITE PIZZA

Pizza dough – rolled out

Olive oil

Tomato sauce

Italian seasoning – I like basil and oregano

plus garlic power and pepper

Assorted toppings – if using meats, use only cooked ones

Thin green pepper rings, onions, mushrooms, black olives,

and pineapple are just some of the toppings you can use

to compliment meat toppings such as pepperoni, ground

beef or ham.

Grated cheese – I like to use a blend of Mozzarella and cheddar on pizza

  1. Coat one side of the rolled out pizza dough with olive oil. A pastry brush may work best.
  2. Place the oiled side of the crust onto the grill. Cook until it becomes lightly browned. Turn the crust over and add tomato sauce, Italian seasonings and toppings.
  3. Close the grill lid and heat until the grated cheese melts and the pizza is well-heated. Remove the pizza carefully from the grill with metal tongs.