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)
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!




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
Olive Oil
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!