Friday, May 27, 2011

Flatbreads and Flatbread Pizzas

It's Friday!!!!!!!  And gorgeous to boot!  Oh, and three day weekend?  Don't mind if I do!  I hope all of you enjoy your time off this Memorial Day weekend.  I have a very exciting weekend coming up with outdoor drinks, a day of hiking, a picnic, a family BBQ and finally, the Sox game on Monday night.  Can a girl ask for much more?  Hooray!

While I am normally a very organized in my grocery shopping (I go in with a list, I come out with the items on the list, case closed), sometimes I pick up things here and there, without any regard tn how I will eventually use them.  This happened to be the case with a whole wheat pizza dough I spontanously threw into my cart a few weeks back.  Fast forward to last week when I was craving flatbreads and my mind flashed to the frozen pizza dough in my freezer and the rosemary hanging out down below.  Inspiration sprung and presto - homemade flatbreads were born.  Ta-Da!!!!!!

Homemade Flatbreads and Flatbread Pizza:
  • chopped garlic
  • pam cooking spray
  • fresh parmasen
  • onions
  • arugala
  • balsamic vinegar
  • butter spray
  • anything else that calls your name, herbs, cheeses, toppings, get creative
I split my dough into three pieces.  I spread each one out, as thin as could be.  When doing so, see if you can't channel some inner Italian heritage.  I gave whrrrling the dough a good spin, just like I have seen in the movies, but ended up putting a hole in my dough.  Oopps.  And I looked like a bit clumsy.  In the end, I just gently used my hands and fingers to spread it out on a pizza pan.  I finely chopped some rosemary and garlic and sprinkled onto the dough.  Then I used zero calorie butter spray and gave the entire surface a good coating.  If you like calories, you can use the real thing and though I know it's all chemicals, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray is an exception to my guilty conscience. 

Make sure you poke holes into your dough using a fork.  Otherwise, it will puff up and you won't be able to call it flatbread.  Bake on 375 until dough starts to get a bit crispy.  At this point, I used more not really butter spray and sprinkled cheese all over. Back into the oven then went until the cheese melted and browned a bit.




 When it came out, I topped with arugala and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  I then used all the willpower in the world not to eat this in one sitting.  Glorious. The rosemary infused into the crispy, perfectly crunchy dough and the garlic and cheese all complimented the delicious drizzle of balsamic. Holy Moly... I love flatbread pizzas.  I allowed myself half while I whipped up another flatbread- this time, using some very beautiful caramelized onions in addition to the rosemary and garlic. 

Of course I had to try the caramelized flatbread too, so there was another slice.  And then another.  I was trying to save me some calories, but alas, that backfired.  When all was said and done, I had "accidentally" eaten nearly two plate sized flatbreads.  I shoved the rest into some tinfoil and polished it off the next morning.  Opps.  I suppose these were that good that I was unable to have any self control.

**Note to self:  Apparently, along with ice cream and caramel, sista cannot have flatbreads in the house either.  Like, Whoa.




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pepper and Parm Crusted Halibut with Cherry Tomato Basil Sauce

Unexpected company is almost always a good thing.  Except when your studio apartment is destroyed after laundry day or you've been busy cheffing the night before, but too lazy to have yet done the dishes.  Which, I have to admit, dish laziness is becoming a real issue round these parts.  I love cooking, but seriously, I am so over doing dishes.  Eating by yourself + no dishwasher = real motivational problems.

So when I had unexpected company AND a relatively clean apartment, I was psyched.  But even more psyched because I looked like a domestic diva when I "spontaneously" whipped up this easy fish dish below.  That and I had a fabulous bottle of chilled white on hand to compliment it. 

(But we all know that this sista is a planner.  Shhhhhhhhh.... I prefer to bask in spontaneous adoration.)

Pepper and Parm Crusted Whitefish with Cherry Tomato Basil Sauce (as adapted from Rachael Ray)
Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • a few basil leaves, torn
  • salt and pepper
Fish
  • 2/3 cup of cornmeal, or parmesean bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parm-reggiano cheese
  • course black pepper
  • 4 8 oz halibut fillets or other white fish
  • EVOO
  • balsamic vinegar
Ready to get after it?  Let's go.
 
Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and stir for a couple of minutes to saute and get some aromas going to get your mouth watering. Add the tomatoes and basil and saute for 10 to 15 minutes.  The goal here is to break down the tomatoes, getting a sauce 'ablending.


Mix the cornmeal with the cheese and black pepper.  I realized that corn starch and corn meal aren't substitutes for each other, so I made a game time decision and went with bread crumbs.

Side note:  Anytime I say bread crumbs, I start giggling.  In Thailand, there was a menu that listed one of the ingredients as "Bread Grumbs".  BREAD GRUMBS!  Ha.  There was also a menu item called Cream Cheese Magaroni and Fried Chicken, kentuky style.  bahahahaha.  Oh Thailand, your english interpretations crack me up.  I know, you kinda had to be there, but trust me, we couldn't stop laughing our asses off.  Then we proceeded to have the second worst meal of the trip.



You can cook the fish one of two ways:

As Rachael Ray does:
Add the fish (to corn meal mixture) and turn to coat. Heat a thin layer of EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook, turning once, until crisp and brown all over, 8 to 10 minutes.

Or as Kelley does:
Coat fish in bread grumbs and bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes.  Rachael goes for crispy, I go for baked. 

Once done, top the fish with the tomato deliciousness and drizzle with some balsamic.  Done and Done.

I was too hungry to appropriately take anytime to plate this for pictures, but there was a bottle of Kim Crawford calling my name.  Anyone who knows me knows that Kim is my favorite bottle of wine and I cannot be stopped in it's consumption - even if you're on glass 5 at $12 a glass on a Tuesday night.

However, you'll have to trust me, this was more YUM-O that the pictures indicate.


 
 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

I'm addicted to the Haymarket Farmer's Market.  Yes, you Bostonians know which one I am talking about.  The one near Fanueil Hall that trashes up the streets and brings that dead fish smell to the city.  Yes, that one.  Now that my typical grocery trip is comprised primarily of produce, I am at an advantage having this market so close to both my work and home.  This market has a reputation for having some less than desirable produce.  In fact, in past experience, I myself have fallen victim to cutting open moldy bell peppers and having produce go bad the very next day.

But I am telling you folks, it's hella cheap.  Insanely cheap.  Out of your mind, are you Shaw's folks fricken' kidding me cheap. 

I have gotten less than desirable produce from Shaw's as well.  And paying $4 for eggplant is hot damn ludacris.

Anyways, long story short.  I grabbed a $20 from the ATM and headed over to Haymarket last Friday.  I left the market with two dollars and about four bags of groceries.  Everything from red/yellow/green peppers to more basil than you can handle to 2 pounds of tomatoes to rosemary to portobello mushrooms and scallions to onions and more.  At Shaw's this loot would have easily run you $30+.  Conservatively.  I love a good deal.  And because I am more familiar with produce now, I can easily spot the good stuff, over the stuff about to expire. 

Haymarket, I love you.

I took those portobellos and whipped up a stroganoff.  Because the real recipe is loaded with butter and sour cream, I adapted it to be less calories.  I barely noticed the difference.

Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff (All recipes.com)
  • 1 tbsp butter or EVOO
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3/4 pound portobello mushrooms, sliced (About two large)
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 16 ounces plain yogurt
  • 4 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 8 ounces egg noodle, or other swirly noodle. 
 

Fire up a salted pot of water and get your pasta going.  Once that's going, heat 1 tbsp of butter or EVOO and start sauteing your onions.  Go about five minutes and add in your sliced mushrooms.  Saute until soft, remove from pan and set aside in a bowl.

Add your vegetable broth to the pan and be sure to scrap up all of those scrumptious brown bits from the pan.  Bring this to a boil and let it reduce by about 1/3.

Add back in your onion and mushroom mixture.

 

In a side bowl, mix your yogurt and flour well.  Add to broth mixture.

 

Allow mixture to thicken slightly over a medium to medium low heat.  This should just take a few minutes.  Add in chopped parsley and salt and pepper to your tasting. 

Serve over noodles and presto - dinner is served. 

 

 

 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pork Medallions with Peppers

This one is going into my regular rotation.  I can't believe how fast, healthy and tasty this pork recipe was.  Pork has been my go-to meat lately and with recipes like this, I don't see that ending anytime soon!  It comes from a 20 minute cooking recipe, so this recipe is a multi-tasker. 

Pork Medallions with Peppers (Cooking Light, January/February 2011)
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut crosswise into medallions (or two pork chops)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 1/2 ts chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • 4 canned anchovies OR 3 tbsp minced calamata olives (I used calamata olives in my recipe)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
 
 

This one is easy - get chopping.  Once you're all chopped, it's go time.

 

Heat EVOO in a pan, let it heat up and add in your pork chops (or medallions) and let them get a sear on them - about 5 minutes.

 

Flip and add in remaining ingredients (except for balsamic).  Let saute for about 7 minutes or until peppers are soft and pork is cooking all the way through.

 



 

And done.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and a bit of rosemary.  I was so hungry I didn't take anytime to really plate this in any sort of appealing looking way.  I let the porkchops sit to ensure the juices stayed in the meat (5 to 10 is appropriate), and below is the result.  

Awesome! 

 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Quinoa and Bean Salad (5 ingredients!)

Need a quick, delicious and light in calories weekday meal?  Or maybe something to pack in your lunch?  Or something light and refreshing as a side dish to dinner?  I got ya covered.  

Quinoa and Bean Salad (straight from Rachael Ray)
  • 20 oz can of kidney beans
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 1 red onion, chopped (rinse with cold water to take away some of the bite)
  • 2 bunches basil, stems discarded and leaves chopped
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup of EVOO

I have been wanting to try quinoa for a while now.  For those of you who aren't aware of Quinoa's ass kicking health benefits, check out more information from Whole Foods here.  It's nearly gluten free, for all you out there adverse to gluten.  It also has a nutty flavor.  Since this was my first go about with Quinoa, I carefully followed the instructions on the back of the package.  It called for a bit of heat to take away some of the bitter taste and release the nutty aromas.  I don't have anything to compare it to... but I have to admit, I was petrified of ruining this $6 bag of Quinoa, so I watched it very carefully.

First Seitan and now Quinoa.... while I am getting adventurous here kids, don't expect me to go all that much more crazy.  Well maybe.... with my MBA and my freelance job behind me, I have a lot more times on my hands.  

Prepare quinoa as directed and cool.  In a large bowl, mix together beans, quinoa, onion and basil.  In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and EVOO.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss evenly to coat.



And just like that, you're all set.  Serve as a meal (has a ton of grain and protein and fiber, so you can get away with this.) or as a side dish to a white fish or chicken.


I packed up about four tupperwares for lunches that week.  I didn't bother freezing any - this salad is made for eating fresh.  I have to admit, I rather enjoyed my first run with Quinoa.  In fact, the thing that ruined this salad for me was the basil.  I must have had a funky batch because I ended up trying to pick most of out it.  As someone who breathes basil, this was rather disappointing.   I couldn't put my finger on it, but something was just off.  Once the basil was out, I gobbled up this salad.

Chef 'em up!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken

This meal was really flavorful and easy. This was the first time that I had worked with fresh mint. I found this recipe at MyRecipes.com. I made some changes to their recipe.

Ingredients:
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 large chicken breasts, slice each in half
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper


Start by preheating your broiler. Then, combine the goat cheese, breadcrumbs, mint, and parsley in a small bowl.



In each chicken portion, cut a slit for the pocket. Now, put the goat cheese mixture in each pocket. Roll chicken pieces up and tighten each with a toothpick. Season each piece with the kosher salt.


Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Now, brown the chicken on one side. Let it cook for 2 minutes.


The rest of the cooking will be completed in the oven. Please chicken portions on a baking sheet with the uncooked side down. Broil for 8 minutes. Check the chicken with your kitchen thermometer.

The chicken is served here with sauteed spinach, seasoned rice, and a glass of wine.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blueberry & Chocolate Chip Muffins

I made these Blueberry & Chocolate Chip Muffins for our morning Easter celebration. They were really easy. I modified this Dark Chocolate Blueberry Muffins recipe from How Sweet It Is.


Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup blueberries


Combine the first six ingredients.
When well mixed, add in the egg, butter, milk, and vanilla extract. Use a whisk to mix. Then, fold in the chocolate chips and blueberries. Pour the mixture into muffin liners in a muffin tin. Bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes. Do the toothpick test.


Isn't that easy? They were really delicious, especially when they were still warm.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cookie Dough Cupcakes (aka I am SOOO over baking.)


My inability to rotate this picture is similiar to my inability to
produce quality baked goods in my kitchen.
 I've decided that I am doing too much in life lately.... a lot of everything, but nothing really well.  I.e. I can't, for the life of me, get the photos in this blog to rotate today.  Nor can I ever get baking just right either.  I always think I have it down or I have done my research on how to perfect something and it never turns out.  I've had a weee bit of a sweet tooth lately and reading food blogs isn't helping curb that craving in the least bit.  I've seen a bunch of recipes lately for Cookie Dough Cupcakes and I've been thinking about them day in, day out. 

I mean, cookie dough?  Cupcakes?  FROSTING?  Heaven Help Me.  Who dreamt up such a glorious recipe?   The premise is that you take eggless cookie dough, freeze it in balls and drop it into cupcakes before baking.  The cupcakes rise around the cookie dough and when they are done, you bite into the cupcakes and are met with a cookie dough surprise. Almost sounds better than sexy time to me. 

Yeah.  I said it.  I really, really love cookie dough.

Separate batch of cookies
Awful glutton free cookie experiment gone wrong.
Recipe followed to a T.
Red flag #2

I needed a reason to make them and a co-workers birthday was just the excuse.  Due to the freezing of the eggless cookie dough, this is a two night process.

The first night, I whipped up the cookie dough and froze into tablespoon sized balls.  The problem was, once I made it and rolled it up, I realized that the brown sugar was sitting unopened on the counter still.  Which means, despite a recipe that heavily called for it, I had not put it into the recipe.  This was my first baking red flag of the night.  However, I just dumped the necessary sugar into a bowl and took all the cookie dough balls and mixed it all back up. Still tasted like cookie dough to me, so all good.  Fail avoided.

The next night, I got to work on the cupcake batter.  I then spooned the batter into the bottom 1/3's of the cupcake liners.  I then placed a frozen cookie dough ball on the batter and into the oven at 350 they went.  My first batch was a test batch of six cupcakes. 


Which turned out really lucky for me.  I went into the living room to watch an episode of Mad Love and promptly fell asleep on the couch for the next two hours.

With cupcakes, in the oven, at 350 degrees. 

The B's could have played hockey with these overbaked pucks.

Total failure.

But I persevered, as any baker would do, and I continued making cupcakes until 3 am.  I sampled my little heart through every batch and ate enough frosting to give me a sugar high for the next three weeks.  These don't look anything like the amazing ones I have seen around the web, here and here and esp more here.... but in the end, they turned out okay.  I even shared one with a man.  A man I sort of want to impress.  A man who is apparently a glutton for punishment, because he keeps calling.  Which might be sort of tied to my fabulous personality and my perfected white wine mushroom risotto and caramelized sea scallops.  Obviously.

Anyways, my baking days are over.  I would much rather pay $3 a cupcake at Sweet or any local bakery than stress over something I wasn't born to do.  Cooking is my thing.  Baking?  Well, I am breaking up with you baking. We're through.

But, you should make these cupcakes using any one of the recipes I have linked to in this post!  They are tasty treats and there's no way you can fare as poorly as I did.  Even if you do, we're still talking about frosting, cookie dough and cupcakes... how bad can they be?