Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mediterranean Pizza



Hey Food Lovers!

We’re back with another amazing pizza recipe!  And this time we’re getting creative.  Instead of a traditional cheese-sauce-and-topping mix, how about something a bit wild and exotic?!?  I present to you:  Mediterranean Pizza!

I came up with this idea when I had an extra can of chick peas and wanted to do something interesting with it.  Typically I would have just made hummus which I’d eat with chips.  But this time I wanted something more appropriate for dinner.

This recipe is a bonus because it includes my quick-and-easy hummus recipe, which serves as the sauce of the pizza.  If you’re short on time or ingredients, or just want a nice dip for when friends come over, you’ll enjoy this recipe.

So, you will need:
1 15oz can of chick peas (garbanzo beans)
4 tbsp Lemon juice
4 tbsp Olive Oil
4 oz Feta Cheese
Salt
Pepper
Garlic Powder
3 oz Olives, diced
Pizza Dough
Food Processor or Blender

As usual, I use an instant pizza dough mix which you can find in any supermarket.  But you can also use frozen dough, a pre-cooked pizza crust, or even a few pitas if you want to further the Mediterranean authenticity.  Prepare your dough as per instructions on the package and set aside.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Hummus is a thick blend of chick peas and oil which makes a sweet dip with an almost nutty flavor.  To make it, open your can of chick peas and drain half the juice.  Pour the rest of the can into the food processor.  Traditionally, a hummus recipe calls for Tahini, or sesame oil.  However, this is something I don’t ordinarily keep around, and it’s not sold at my local corner grocery store.  So I skip this step and add olive oil instead.  Pour four tablespoons of olive oil into the food processor.  Add in four tablespoons of lemon juice.  Begin blending until the contents mash up.  You will also want to add garlic, salt, and pepper.  I put in roughly a tablespoon of each, but try the mix as you go and add according to your own taste.  Keep blending until you have a thick paste with no lumps. 

Alternatively, you can just use a tub of store-bought hummus, but I prefer making my own.  It’s quick, easy, and much cheaper. 

Take your pizza dough and spread it out in a wide circular pan or on a baking sheet.  Make sure it is nice and even.  Pinch the edges to form the crust.

Pour your hummus on top of the dough.  Spread it out evenly, leaving about an inch from the edges.  Now, add the feta cheese.  You can get crumbled feta in 4oz tubs at most grocery stores.  Top the hummus covered area of the dough with the cheese.  Now it’s time for the olives.  Make sure you have the diced and pitless type.  A 3 oz can should cover your entire pizza.

Place in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes.  It is ready when the edge of the crust begins to turn brown, the cheese is melted, and the hummus is puffed up.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Cut into slices and you’re ready to eat!

Like with all of my recipes, have some fun with the ingredients.  Next time I plan to add spinach and grilled chicken.  You can also use pita bread instead of pizza dough – just cook until the cheese is melted.      

Have fun and bon app├ętit!   



jb

 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Spinach Lasagna



Welcome back food friends!

Been a while, but you demanded the return of the recipe!  So we’re back with some awesome eats for you to try at home.  And what better way to kick it off than with a family favorite… Lasagna!

Even your cat knows how awesome lasagna is...
So I was hungry to try a new pasta-based recipe, and I’ve already shared with you my famous meatball recipe.  I considered baked ziti, but that’s just too easy.  Why not go all out and put a little effort into it.  Lasagna takes some skill and is a lot of fun to put together.  It’s like a puzzle – with pasta!

One thing about lasagna – it’s big!  Using one box of noodles and the corresponding ingredients is going to be a bit more than a bachelor chef can eat by himself.  So in the Italian spirit of abbondanza, or abundance, invite some friends over to help you eat!  

Since I have some vegetarian friends coming over to enjoy this recipe, I decided to put a veggie spin on a dish often served with meat.  So here is my recipe for Spinach Lasagna!

You will need:
A large baking pan (13x9x2 is perfect)
A large pot for boiling noodles
A mixing bowl and spoon
1 box (16oz) of Lasagna Noodles
1 brick (10oz) of Frozen Spinach, thawed
1 jar (24oz) of Tomato (spaghetti) Sauce
1lb Ricotta Cheese
½ lb Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
Garlic Powder or Fresh Chopped Garlic (to taste)
Oregano (to taste)

This recipe is easy because you shouldn’t have to measure anything – all the ingredients use the standard size pack you get from the grocery store.  This recipe assumes a brand tomato sauce, but feel free to make your own from scratch if you desire.

Start out by boiling a large pot of water.  When it boils, add in the lasagna noodles and boil for 12-15 minutes uncovered or until the noodles are soft.  Be careful not to overboil or the noodles will break.

While the noodles cook, mix the spinach and ricotta cheese together in a large mixing bowl.  Add in as much garlic and oregano as you like, or any other Italian spice you enjoy!  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Now for the fun part.  Drain the pasta and let cool for a few minutes.  Take your baking pan and cover the bottom with a light layer of tomato sauce.  Assuming you are using a 13’x9’ pan, take three noodles and place them flat on the bottom, so they just overlap on the sides.  Be careful, the noodles will be hot. 

Next, spoon out several clumps of the ricotta and spinach mix.  Spread it out evenly with your spoon, making sure not to move the noodles around.  You only need a thin layer so don’t use too much – you’ll repeat this step later.  Once spread, take your tomato sauce and pour another thin layer on top, spreading it with your spoon as you go.  Now, take a handful of shredded mozzarella, and evenly distribute it on top of the sauce.

And layer 1 is done!  Now, take three more noodles and layer them as you did in the first step.  Top with the ricotta and spinach, tomato sauce, and cheese. Layer 2!  You should have enough ricotta/spinach mix to do this four times total.  Once your fourth layer is done, top with three more noodles, and cover the top with the rest of the tomato sauce then mozzarella cheese.    

And now it’s time to bake!  Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes.  Take the lasagna out, vent the foil in one corner and let sit for 5-10 minutes more.  And there you have it, a beautiful lasagna!


The lasagna can now be cut into 12 square portions.  You can easily feed 6 with this dish, or in my case, 4 hungry people.  As a side dish you can serve garlic bread or salad, or more lasagna! 

Have fun cooking, and especially fun eating!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Poor Man's Paella

Hello Foodies!  Ready for a recipe with some foreign appeal?  How does Paella sound?  Expensive???  True, but for those aching from the economy, I have prepared a simpler recipe with ingredients you're likely to have floating around.  I present to you:  Poor Man's Paella!

Paella (pronounced Pie - A - ya) is a traditional Spanish dish consisting of rice, vegetables, and mariscos (Spanish for seafood).  The rice is seasoned with saffron, a rare and pricy spice that turns the rice a bright yellow color.  While the dish is usually made with a mix of shrimp, clams, mussles, and fish (or sometimes chicken), those ingredients are also expensive and hard to prepare.  This recipe gets to the basics of the original meal...

Ok, so you probably don't have saffron just lying around.  But you can pick some up at the local supermarket. Skip the spices and go straight to the cultural foods aisle.  Goya, for example, sells serving-size packets of saffron just for this type of recipe.  Pick up a box and enjoy!

For the recipe, you will need:

1 cup rice (uncooked)
1 cup diced green pepper
1 can tuna
1 can peas or mixed vegetables
1 can diced tomatoes (or 1 large diced fresh tomato)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups chicken broth (or prepared bullion)
2-3 teaspoons of saffron (2-3 Goya packets)
pepper
garlic powder

You will also need two medium or large cooking pots.


Begin by preparing the rice in one pot.  Dice the pepper and onion and put it in pot 2.  Add the broth, tomatoes and peas to pot 2, along with a few shakes of garlic and pepper (as to your personal preference). Heat to a boil on the stove.  When the rice is about halfway done, add the can of tuna to pot 2 and mix everything together.  Leave to simmer until the rice is done.



When the rice is finished, add the saffron.  Make sure you mix it in nice and evenly.  Every part of the rice should be bright yellow.


Dish out a generous helping of rice onto a plate or bowl.  Next, cover the rice with the melange from pot 2.  If you'd like, garnish with a lemon peel.  I didn't have lemons, so I used an orange peel instead.  Not quite the same thing  :)


And there you go.  The whole process takes about 20 minutes - not much longer than it takes to boil a cup of rice.  I recommend trying the real Paella at a Spanish restaurant if you get the opportunity.  But for those on a budget or on the go, this is a perfect substitute for the real thing.  Oh yeah, and it's healthy too. But I won't tell if you don't!

Salud!

-Josh



  


Monday, April 2, 2012

Mac and Cheese Pizza


Hey Foodies!  Hungry for more crazy recipes?  We did one for you last week that was good for the body, so let’s do one this week that’s good for the soul!  How about we take two of the greatest bachelor chef staples – Pizza and Macaroni & Cheese – and combine them into one amazing meal?  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you:  Mac and Cheese Pizza!

You will need:
½ Box of Macaroni & Cheese (prepared)
1 cup tomato (or spaghetti) sauce
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup chopped hot dog or pepperoni
Parmesan cheese
Oregano
Olive Oil
Garlic
1 pack pizza dough mix or 14” pizza crust

In the spirit of bachelor chefdom, I’m going to suggest using an instant pizza dough, found in any grocery store.  Mix or frozen are fine, just follow the label directions until the dough is soft and ready to be topped.  You can also use whatever brand or style mac & cheese you want, follow the label directions as well.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and begin boiling the macaroni on the stovetop.  Mix the dough together as per package directions and knead over a large cookie sheet.  You can also use a large skillet, which will help keep it round, just make sure that it is oven safe.   If the dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the mix.  Flatten into a circle and pinch the edges to form a crust.



When ready, mix together all the ingredients for the macaroni and cheese.  You’ll only need about half the box, so save the other half for leftovers.   Set aside (preferably in the fridge) for at least five minutes to cool down.  While you wait, dice up the hot dog or pepperoni into small pieces.  A cup (roughly 3 dogs) should be enough, but add as much as you want.  Next, prepare a cup of tomato sauce.  If unflavored, mix in some garlic, oregano, and any other Italian spice to taste.  Pour slowly over the pizza, beginning in the middle in a spiral pattern outwards.  If there are gaps, use a spoon to spread the sauce around evenly. 


The macaroni & cheese should have firmed up slightly, so add the hot dogs into to the mix.  Now for the fun part…  slowly pour the mac & cheese over the pizza!  While your pizza bathes in the gooey waterfall use a spoon to spread the mac out evenly.  Leave about an inch of crust around the edge.  Try to stop drooling, and sprinkle parmesan cheese evenly on top.  And if that’s not cheesy enough, you still got the mozzarella!  This will top off the tower of goodness you have in front of you.



You’re ready to start cooking.  Carefully place the cookie sheet or skillet into the oven and let bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges turn firm and brown.  Try not to go nuts from the anticipation!  When it’s ready, carefully take it out of the oven and let cool for five to ten minutes. 



Little tip:  Slice the pizza as soon as you take it out.  The cheese will still be hot, and will solidify around the edges of the slice, locking in the mac & cheese goodness inside!



And there you go.  A crazy, cheesy combo pizza in about as much time as it would take to have a regular one delivered.  This will easily feed two hungry cheese lovers, and you’ll probably even have enough for a third.  It’ll get messy too, so have a fork ready!  If you’d like to see more recipes like this, let me know.  I’ll be working on some other pizza varieties and maybe I’ll share those in the future…

Hasta la Pizza!



Josh

Friday, March 23, 2012

Black Bean Chicken with Rice


Welcome back, fellow food lovers.  Been a while, but we’re back and ready to get cooking.  Lately I've been busy working on some projects and hitting the gym, so I figure why not give you a recipe for something good for the body and the mind.  For those looking for a low-fat, high-protein dinner, I present to you:  Black Bean Chicken with Rice.

These ingredients should be right out of your pantry.  All you need is:
1 can of black beans (15oz)
1 can of diced tomatoes (15oz, better if flavored with garlic/basil/etc)
1lb Chicken Breast
1 small/medium onion
1 cup rice (uncooked)
2 cups chicken broth (or 2 cups water and 2 bouillon cubes)
garlic

Begin by preparing the rice as per packaging instructions.  This will take about 15 minutes if using non-instant rice.  While the rice boils, cook the chicken breast on a separate grill or pan.  Cook for 4 minutes each side, and make sure the middle turns white.  This should take a few minutes, so in the meantime dice up your onion and open your cans of beans and tomatoes.  Drain the tomatoes fully but keep most of the liquid from the beans – you will use this.  Once the chicken is done, dice it up into small chunks.  The rice should be done by now.

If there is any water left in the rice, drain it, and return it to the stovetop.  Add in the chicken broth or 2 cups of water and heat to a boil.  If using water, add the bouillon cubes after it boils.  Lower the heat to a simmer, then add the diced onion, chicken, tomatoes, and beans in their liquid.  Add a few sprinkles of garlic power as to your taste.  You can always add more later.  Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.


And that’s it.  Dish it out and enjoy!  This recipe made three good servings, so invite some friends or prepare for leftovers.    

Good Grazing!
-J