Saturday, May 31, 2008

Grilled Pizza

We've been wanting to try grilling pizza for a while...but things came up, other dishes to try took precedent over a simple pizza and this went on the proverbial back burner for a while.

A couple of years ago, Norm bought a Weber Grill cookbook (Weber's Real Grilling) that had a couple of pizza recipes in it that looked fantastic. By the way, this cookbook is gorgeous...lots of pictures (a big plus for a visual person like me) and loaded with pro grilling tips and of course some outstanding recipes.

For the holiday weekend, we decided we'd try a grilled pizza. And holy cow, it was delicious! I was going to try my hand at a homemade crust, but opted for the ready-made whole wheat pizza dough that I found at Trader Joes. The pics I took came out blurry so I figured I wouldn't post them...but here's the recipe!

Barbecued Chicken Pizza
(Source: Webers Real Grilling)

1 envelope active dry yeast
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt

2 T unsalted butter
1/4 C finely chopped yellow onion
2 tsp minced garlic
3/4 C ketchup
1/4 C dry red wine
1/4 C dijon mustard
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, 5-6 oz each
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
ground black pepper
2 C grated smoked Gouda cheese
1/4 C finely chopped fresh chives

To prepare dough: In a medium bowl, combine the yeast and sugar with 3/4 C warm water (105-115 degrees F). Stir once and let stand until foamy, 5-10 min. Add 2 1/2 C flour, 3 T of olive oil and salt. Stir until the dough holds together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, 4-6 minutes. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Turn the ball to cover the surface with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, 1-1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough in the bowl. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Cut parchment paper into 9-inch squares and lightly oil each sheet on one side. Roll or press dough flat on the oiled side of the paper into circles about 8" in diameter, leaving the dough a little thicker at the edges. Then lightly oil the top side of the dough.

To make the sauce: In a medium saucepan over med-high hear, melt butter. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until light brown, about 1 min, stirring occasionally. Add remaining sauce ingredients. Whisk to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Pour 1/2 the sauce into a small bowl, reserving the other half in the saucepan.

Lightly brush or spray chicken on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Lightly coat the chicken on both sides with the sauce in the bowl. Grill the chicken over direct medium heat until meat is firm to the touch and no longer pink in the center, 8-12 minutes, turning once. Finely chop or shred the chicken and moisten with same reserved sauce in the saucepan (you may not need all of it).

Lay dough on the grate, with the paper facing up. Grab one corner of the paper with tongs and peel it off. Grill over direct medium heat until they are marked on the underside, 2-3 minutes, rotating the crusts occasionally for even cooking. Don't worry if crusts bubble, they will deflat when turned over. Transfer the crusts from the cooking grate to the back of a baking sheet, with the grilled sides facing up.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese over each pizza, leaving 1/2 inch border around the edges. Arrange the chicken and chives over the cheese. transfer the pizzas from the baking sheets to the cooking grate. Grill until the crusts are crisp and the cheese is melted, 4-5 minutes, rotating the pizzas occasionally for even cooking. Transfer to a cutting board, cut into wedges. Serve warm.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Private Wine and Cheese Tasting

So we made a special trip to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Saturday to gather all the yummy foods we needed for the holiday weekend. On the menu...burgers & dogs, corn on the cob; steaks and pasta; and pizza on the grill.

While we were in Whole Foods, Norm found one of our favorite cheeses - Humbolt Fog. So that sparked the idea of getting a few specialty cheeses, cracking open a bottle of wine and enjoying our deck. So 4 cheeses, a container of quince paste, apples and pears and the cutest whole wheat mini-toasts that you have ever seen later...we were exiting Whole Foods ready to have ourselves a good time! That is until we got back to our car, parked by the state store and I had the idea of each of us picking out 2 bottles of wine to have a wine tasting along with our newly acquired cheese.

Here's what our feast looked like -


...and after = )

Eggs Over Spinach & Mushrooms (& other fun stuff!)

So this brings us up to the Memorial Day holiday weekend. We decided not to go anywhere, and just spend some quality time on the deck, grilling tasty foods and just relaxing. And that we did!!!

It was so nice to sleep in for a change!!! On Saturday morning, I woke up before Norm, so I put on the coffee and decided on what to make for breakfast.

Here's what I came up with....

3 C baby spinach
1 C mushrooms, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
salt, pepper
1/4 C reduced-fat feta cheese
2 slices of canadian bacon
2 eggs

Heat two skillets over medium-high heat. Spray both with cooking spray. In one pan, add mushrooms, saute until brown around the edges. Add spinach and garlic; sautee until spinach is wilted. While the mushrooms and spinach are cooking, add the canadian bacon to the other pan, and "fry" until it starts to brown. Remove bacon to the spinach pan and keep warm.

Re-spray the bacon pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add eggs and "fry" until done season with salt and pepper. Divide spinach and mushroom mixture between 2 plates; divide cheese between two plates. Top with canadian bacon and eggs.

Spicy Chicken & Veggie Stir-Fry

We make this quick stir-fry quite a bit and it's always fantastic. I first found it in a South Beach Diet cookbook....the original calls for shrimp, but we used chicken this time. You can pretty much put any veggie into it that you want (it's great for cleaning out the ol' fridge), but the snow peas really make it great. We also spice it up with some jalapeno cuz we're spicy like that! It's great over brown rice...or just as is if you're watching your carbs.

Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry
(Source: South Beach Diet Quick & Easy Cookbook)

4 tsp canola oil, divided
2 T plus 1 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb chicken tenderloins, cut into bit sized pieces
2 T minced fresh ginger
8 oz mushrooms, quartered (I usually use sliced)
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bell pepper, any color, cut into strips
8 oz snow peas, strings removed
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Whisk together 2 tsp canola oil, 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce, and garlic in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat.

Lightly coat a large skillet (or wok) with cooking spray, and heat over high heat. Add chicken, stir frying until cooked. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Heat remaining oil in the same skillet over high heat; add ginger and cook 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, scallions, bell pepper, snow peas, and red pepper flakes and cook until veggies are crisp-tender (about 4-5 minutes). Stir in chicken and remaining soy sauce and toss to combine. Serve hot.

A Twist on Eggs Benedict

For the life of me I can't remember where I found this recipe, but it was darn tasty! I think it was an Ellie Kreiger recipe from the Food Network, but I saw it on a cooking blog .... printed it out, but forgot to star it on my Google Reader. I am far too lazy to do a search we'll leave it at that = )

We had this dish for a light dinner one Sunday night. We had gone to Norm's parents for lunch - Norm's Dad made me a special dinner for my birthday (pork dhansak with brown basmati rice...and rava for dessert...YUMMY!) So after all that food during the day, a lighter fare was much appreciated. I did change the original recipe and poached the eggs instead of scrambling them. We served it up with some cut fruit on the side, and it hit the spot!

Pesto Eggs Benedict
(Source: Ellie Kreiger, Food Network -adapted)

Cooking spray
4 portobella mushroom caps
4 slices Canadian Bacon
4 eggs (I used eggland's best)
2 tsp pesto, divided
2 T chopped fresh basil leaves
Here's what I did...

Fill multi-pan up with water, add egg poacher insert and heat until water comes to a boil. Heat grill pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Clean mushrooms and scrape gills out carefully with a spoon. Spray pan with cooking spray, put mushrooms on, gill side up and cook for 3 minutes. Add eggs to egg poacher, season with salt & pepper. Flip mushrooms, cook on other side. Add canadian bacon to grill pan. When eggs are done, take mushrooms out of gril pan and put onto plate...gill side up, top with canadian bacon and 1/2 tsp pesto. Add poached egg and top with 1/2 tsp pesto and basil.

Eggless Caesar Salad

This is one of my new favorite salad dressings! I have been on the lookout for an alternative to my ol' standby olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing.

I have made this so many times since we first tried it. This is also from the South Beach Diet Quick and Easy cookbook, but I've been playing with the ingredient amounts to suit our tastes. Personally, I like more dressing, so I upped the amount of everything except the olive oil. I keep tweaking it, but it's really just plain good!

We have also had this salad served with grilled salmon on top for a filling lunch or with grilled mushrooms and asparagus for a little something extra to accompany dinner.

Eggless Caesar Salad
(Source: South Beach Diet Quick & Easy cookbook)

1 T fresh lemon juice
2 anchovy filets, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t dijon mustard
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1 T grated parmesan cheese
1 (1 1/2 lb) head romaine lettuce, chopped (8-10 cups)

Whisk together lemon juice, anchovy, garlic and mustard in a large mixing bowl; slowly whisk in oil. Stir in cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lettuce, toss, and serve.
Makes 4 (2-Cup) servings.

160 calories; 15g fat; 2.5g saturated fat; 3 g protein; 4g carb; 2 g fiber; 125 mg sodium

Playing Catch Up...again (and Indian Spiced Lentils)

Blogging is hard, if you don't have a computer handy. = )

Our laptop took a dive around the middle of April...causing much distress. Norm couldn't check his fantasy baseball Web site, I couldn't blog or do any of the fun internet things that I can't (um or shouldn't) do from work. We had to send it away to get fixed. The entire process took far too long (like 3 weeks!) so we were very happy to get it back and fully functional.

In the meantime, I did spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen making some yummy stuff.

So here's the first of the catch up recipes...Indian Spiced Lentils. I found this in a South Beach Diet cookbook. I wasn't sure I could convince Norm to try lentils. Outside of his Dad's authentic Indian dishes, I don't think he has had too many things where lentils were a major player. The dish was yummy. Since we like our food on the hot side, I added some extra heat from a jalapeno...and I upped the curry powder for more flavor. We had it with some grilled salmon and broiled eggplant.

Indian Spiced Lentils
(Source: South Beach Diet Quick & Easy Cookbook)

4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced (not in original recipe)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp curry powder (I used closer to 1 T)
1 C dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 1/2 C chicken broth
2 T chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Stir in curry powder and lentils. Add broth, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and papper. Stir in parsley just before serving.