SPEEDY THIN CRUST PIZZA: My Very Favorite!

one hour pizza textSpeedy Thin Crust Pizza has become my go-to pizza recipe not only because I can have it on the table in a little over an hour, but because it’s REALLY good. It’s a very thin pizza with a nice chew.

Pizza in a little over an hour, you question? That’s right!!! This is my variation of America’s Test Kitchen’s 1-Hour Pizza. (I’ve made this pizza many times and could never make in in 60 minutes – more like 70 minutes.) Of course, the first time or two you make it, it will take longer.

SPEEDY THIN CRUST PIZZA – makes 2 pizzas

  • 6.25 oz (1-1/3 cup) bread flour
  • 2.75 oz (1/2 cup) semolina flour
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 5 oz (1/2 cup + 2 T) warm water (about 110º F)
  • 1-5/8 oz (1/4 cup) beer (I like a pale beer)
  • 1/2 oz (2 tsp) white distilled vinegar
  • 1½ tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • toppings of your choice

Preheat oven to 500º Fahrenheit. Place the oven rack with a pizza stone or steel  4″ from the top heat source. It will take at least 30 minutes to bring the oven up to temperature, so I turn on my oven when I begin making the dough. 

If you have a scale (which I highly recommend), place the workbowl of your food processor with the steel blade in place on top. Turn the scale on if it’s battery operated so you start at ‘0’. Weigh the bread flour, semolina flour, water, beer, and vinegar. Add in the yeast, sugar, and olive oil. one hour pizza12Set the workbowl on the processor base and run the machine for 10 seconds.one hour pizza15 Let mixture set in place for 10 minutes. Add in the salt and process for 30 seconds. one hour pizza14Empty dough onto a floured counter and fold the dough onto itself a few times to bring the dough together. one hour pizza7Divide the ball in half and place each one on a piece of oiled (I use olive oil) parchment paper approximately 12″ wide. DO NOT USE WAXED PAPER – IT’S TOO THIN!!!one hour pizza9Rub the tops of the dough with a little more oil then top each with another piece of same-sized parchment. Press down with your hands to smoosh the dough into a square to get it started. With a rolling pin roll both dough balls to about 13″ x 10″ using short strokes, working from the center outward. (I find it easier to keep the parchment from sliding on my counter if I place it on a dry tea towel.) Let set 30 minutes.one hour pizza10 Use this time to get your toppings ready.

After 30 minutes, place one of the parchment covered pizzas upside down on a dry pizza peel or rimless cookie sheet. (The reason you flip the pizza upside down is that it’s easier to peel away the oiled parchment.)one hour pizza16 Carefully peel away and discard the top parchment (which used to be the bottom parchment). one hour pizza4bTop pizzas with your choice of sauce and toppings.one hour pizza17 Slide the pizza with bottom parchment onto the preheated stone or steel. one hour pizza18Bake for 4 minutes. Rotate the pizza 180º, then remove and discard the parchment by securing it in place with a spatula with one hand and pulling out the parchment with the other. (The parchment won’t burn your fingers, so you don’t need to use an oven mitt as long as you don’t touch anything else.) one hour pizza19Let bake another couple of minutes, until it’s browned to your liking. Remove from oven, let set a minute or two, then slice it up and serve. (This is not the same pizza I placed in the oven in the above pictures.)

NOTE:  If you want to sprinkle top with basil, do this after it’s baked – otherwise, the basil will burn.

one hour pizza6

 

GREEN CHILI STEW: Fast, Easy, and Delicious!!!

green chili stew textGreen Chili Stew is an incredibly tasty blend of flavors that’s quick to put together. The little pop of lime is my favorite part!

You can tailor this recipe to your needs: roast the chilis yourself or buy canned, use the type of chilis I recommend or amp it up (or down), use fake chicken (nowadays known as “plant-based”) or use tofu. It’s up to you!!!

As Queen of Freeze, I always encourage people to make large quantities of something that freezes well (after trying it first). However, this stew is so delicious that there’s never any left to freeze so I’m not sure how well it would do. I suspect it would be fine.

GREEN CHILI STEW – makes 11 cups

  • 1/2 lb corn (I use frozen)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 jalapeño chilis
  • 1 serrano chili
  • 1 New Mexico or Anaheim chili
  • optional in place of fresh chilis: 2  4-oz cans diced mild green chilis                                                                                                 1  4-oz can diced hot green chilis
  • 1½ tsp vegetable or avocado oil
  • 1 large (about 3 cups) yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 T cumin
  • 1/2 T coriander
  • 1 tsp + more salt if needed, divided
  • 1  15-oz can hominy, drained
  • 1  15-oz can white beans (I use cannellini beans), drained
  • 14 oz fresh tomatillos, chopped
  • 3½ cups vegetable stock (I use homemade vegetable stock)
  • 8½ oz fake chicken (I’ve used Worthington frozen ‘chicken’ log & Beyond Meat frozen seasoned ‘chicken’ – they’re both good)
  • optional in place of fake chicken: 1 block of tofu, cubed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tsp lime juice (fresh or bottled)

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit, rack in upper third.

Spread corn out on rimmed cookie sheet and bake in preheated 400º F oven until corn starts to brown (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from oven. green chili stew3If you’re using fresh chilis, turn oven to broil. Wash and cut pepper and chilis top to bottom. Discard seeds and ribs. Lay cut side down on cookie sheet.green chili stew1Broil until skin starts to blacken. (It only takes a few minutes, so keep an eye on it!!!). Remove and discard blackened skin. green chili stew2Chop skinless pepper and chilis into bite-sized pieces.

Remove and discard paper-like green cover of tomatillos.green chili stew11 Wash tomatillos well (they feel kind of waxy) and chop into bite-sized pieces. green chili stew6In a Dutch oven, place the oil, onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, and 1 tsp salt. Sauté over medium/high heat 4 minutes, stirring often. green chili stew4Add in corn, chilis, and pepper – cook 3 minutes, stirring often.green chili stew5 Add in hominy, beans, tomatillos, vegetable stock, and fake chicken or tofu. Turn burner to medium/high heat, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to keep a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and additional salt, if needed (I usually add in 1 tsp salt).green chili stew8

 

BELIZEAN RICE AND BEANS: A One-Pot Wonder!

Belezian rice and beans textThis is probably the easiest meal you’ll ever make. Simply chop the onion, cilantro, and red pepper, then throw everything into the pot and cook for 30 minutes.

This recipe is a lovely combination of subtle flavors. Try not to leave out any of the spices – I know most are only 1/8 tsp, but they’re important for the overall effect.

NOTE: Belizean Rice & Beans is super good topped with Avocado Sauce!

BELIZEAN RICE AND BEANS – makes about 5 cups

  • 1  15-oz can pinto beans, including liquid
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 T butter
  • 1  15-oz can coconut milk (or 1/2 cup powdered coconut milk plus enough water to make 15 oz)
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed
  • 1/8 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan. Belezian rice and beans3Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for a total of 30 minutes. At first, stir now and then – until it’s been cooking for about 20 minutes. At this point most of the liquid will have been absorbed into the rice. Stir more often now to prevent burning. If all the liquid has been incorporated before the 30 minutes is up, turn off the heat and let the covered pot sit on the hot burner. This is to make sure the rice is completely cooked. belezian rice and beans2Eat as is, or do something crazy (like I do) and serve as an open faced sandwich on a homemade English Muffin or arepa, topped with avocado. Yummmm!

SPINACH FETTUCCINE WITH CAULIFLOWER & BROCCOLI – Fast & Easy!

fettuccine with brocc caulif textI’m always looking for quick and easy recipes that are low in calories.  I found Spinach Fettuccine with Cauliflower & Broccoli in Green’s Cookbook, and it filled the bill. Of course, I had to tweak it a bit, as you probably will, too.

I’m a bit of a compulsive DIY-er, so I make my own pasta.  (I’ve included my recipe for spinach fettuccine at the end, for you brave souls.) You can shave off some time by purchasing the fettuccine. By the way, you don’t have to use fettuccine – choose a different pasta if your prefer (or don’t have any in the house).

FETTUCCINE WITH CAULIFLOWER & BROCCOLI – makes 2 large servings

  • 4 T butter
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
  • 1 T salt
  • 3 cups total broccoli and cauliflower, chopped in bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 pound fettuccine (or any pasta you prefer) Recipe for Spinach Fettuccine follows at end.
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Melt butter in 3 or 4 quart saucepan. Add shallots and sauté for 3 minutes over medium flame. Add in garlic and cook another 30 seconds.fettuccine with brocc caulif2 Remove from heat and stir in vinegar, mustard, and dried tomatoes. fettuccine with brocc caulif3In a Dutch oven, bring 2 quarts of water and 1 T salt to a boil. Remove 1/2 cup of this water and stir into shallot mixture. fettuccine with brocc caulif4To the pot of boiling water add the broccoli and cauliflower. fettuccine with brocc caulif5When the water resumes boiling, cook veggies 1 minute only, just to blanch them, then scoop them out and add to the shallot mixture (which is still off-heat).fettuccine with brocc caulif6 Add the pasta and lemon zest to the boiling water, cooking until the pasta is done. fettuccine with brocc caulif7Save a cup of the pasta water in case you need it, then drain pasta. Into the empty Dutch oven combine the shallot mixture and pasta.fettuccine with brocc caulif8 Adjust seasoning, if needed. Add saved pasta water if you feel it needs to be looser.

SPINACH FETTUCCINE  – makes 2 servings

  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup + extra all-purpose flour

Note: For this recipe you’ll need a food processor and a pasta machine (I use the Atlas hand cranked brand)

Remove and discard stem ends from spinach leaves. fettuccine, spinach6Chop leaves with knife, then place in food processor and pulse until leaves are very finely chopped. fettuccine, spinach11Add egg and oil, and pulse a few times to blend. fettuccine, spinach7Pasta making is all about having the right ratio of liquid to dry ingredients. The spinach, egg, and oil are the wet, and the flour is the dry. You’ll have to go by feel since the water in the spinach and the size of the egg are variable. Don’t worry, there’s wiggle room!

Add in 1 cup of flour and run machine about 10 seconds, until mixture is blended. It will probably be too dry. Try to form a ball with some of the mixture. If it crumbles, you’ll need to add some water, 1 tsp at a time. If it feels like Playdough (i.e., it holds together and feels kind of tacky), it’s done. If it forms a ball but sticks to your fingers, it’s too wet – add more flour, a tablespoon at a time.fettuccine, spinach9 When dough reaches the proper consistency, form 2 balls and place them back in food processor with lid to rest for about 1/2 hour or so. fettuccine, spinach10Attach pasta machine to a table or countertop with plenty of room to lay out dough. You’ll also need something to hang the dry pasta over, such as a dowel. Pour about 1/4 cup of flour on the work surface. Work as quickly as you can so the dough doesn’t dry out.

Take one dough ball and smash it into the flour. Flip dough and smash other side into the flour.fettuccine, spinach1 Brush off extra flour the run dough through machine at the lowest number setting (this will be either ‘0’ or ‘1’). Fold dough like an envelope and run it through again. fettuccine, spinach2Lay dough flat and rub a little flour over both sides of dough. fettuccine, spinach3Fold in half and run it through machine at same setting. Repeat this last step 3 more times. You will have run the dough 6 times through the machine on the lowest setting. Repeat with second dough ball.

TIP: Each time you run the dough through the machine, say the number you’re on aloud so you don’t forget what number you’re on. It’s better to do too many than not enough – by the 6th run-through you’ll see a big difference in the dough consistency.

Turn the machine number up 1 digit and run each dough strip (without folding it) through 1 time only. Rub the dough (like before) with a little flour. Increase the number, run the strips through (again, without folding). You’ll notice the strips get longer with each number increase. It’s a personal preference as to how thin you want your pasta – I like to stop after number 5.

When you’re making your final pass with a strip, cut it to the length you want your pasta – I usually cut it in thirds. fettuccine, spinach4Run these pieces through the cutter before doing the other strip, so the cut edges don’t dry out.

Hang cut dough until ready to boil.fettuccine, spinach5

MEXICAN RICE – An Easy Twofer Recipe

Mexican Rice textMexican Rice is one of those foods that can be both a side dish and an ingredient in something else. For example, Monday night you might want a side dish with a bit of a kick to perk up a main course, and then on Tuesday it can become part of a burrito or taco. One preparation, two meals! Love it!!!

MEXICAN RICE

  • 2 large tomatoes or 4 Roma, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ cups onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 large onion)
  • about 1 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice – medium or long grain
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 jalapeño chilis, remove seeds and mincemexican rice3
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • about 2 T lime juice

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit. 

In a food processor, purée the chopped tomatoes and onions. mexican rice5Empty into a large measuring cup and add enough stock or water (both work fine) to add up to 4 cups total. Set aside.mexican rice6Put uncooked rice in a sieve and rinse well to remove excess starch. mexican rice9In a saucepan, heat oil. Add rinsed rice and sauté 6 minutes. mexican rice2Stir in the tomato purée, garlic, salt, jalapeños, and tomato paste. Pour into casserole dish. mexican rice7Cover and bake at 350º F 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until rice is fully cooked. (Make sure rice is fully cooked – it won’t continue to soften off-heat.) mexican rice8Add in cilantro and lime juice to taste. If you want more kick, stir in another minced jalapeño.

GRANDMA PIZZA – La Nonna Lo Adora!

grandma pizza text

It’s amazing how many types of pizzas there are. While the dough is basically the same for all, how they’re baked makes the difference.

A Grandma Pizza is square or rectangular, and baked on an oiled rimmed cookie sheet.  This produces a light, crunchy crust.  It’s a very wet dough so there’s no need to roll it out – you just spread it with your fingers.

Note: It’s easiest to use a food processor, but you can get a nice workout mixing the dough by hand in a bowl.

GRANDMA PIZZA

  • 2 T + 1 T olive oil, divided
  • 7¾ oz (1½ cups) bread flour
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup hard cheese such as Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano
  • about 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • any other topping you may like

Pour 2 T olive oil into the center of a 10″ X 15″ rimmed baking sheet (also called a jelly-roll pan). grandma pizza4Into the workbowl of your food processor (or a large mixing bowl if you’re going to do this by hand), put the flour, 1 T olive oil, yeast, sugar, and salt. Turn the machine on and slowly pour in the water through the pour tube. Once all the water is poured, let the machine run another 30 seconds or so. This is a very sticky, loose dough.grandma pizza10 Empty the dough onto the olive oil in the jelly-roll pan. Dip you finger tips into the oil so the dough won’t stick to them, and flip the dough so it’s now completely covered in oil. grandma pizza6Cover either with plastic film or a large pan (I use a rectangular roasting pan – it fits perfectly.) DON’T use a tea towel – it will just stick to the dough. (Been there, done that!) Let rise about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500º Fahrenheit. 

Gently nudge dough to cover the entire bottom of pan. grandma pizza1Sprinkle on mozzarella, then drizzle on the marinara, followed by any other topping, and finally sprinkle on the Parmesan. grandma pizza2Bake at 500º F in the lower third of oven for 13-15 minutes. Sprinkle on fresh basil. grandma pizza3

Remove pizza to a wire rack and let set about 5 minutes before slicing.

 

 

CAULIFLOWER PASTA BAKE: A Make-Ahead Casserole…or Not!

cauliflower pasta casserole text

Cauliflower seems to be very popular now. So as a gal who likes to keep up with the trends, I decided to post a cauliflower casserole I’ve been making for years. Like most casseroles, this one can be prepared ahead of time and baked before dinner-time.

Note:  I included the recipe for the optional crumb topping. To be honest, I prefer no topping, but my husband loves it. If you find yourself in this dilemma, a compromise can be reached by serving the topping in a bowl and letting crumb-lovers sprinkle it on their own servings.

CAULIFLOWER PASTA BAKE

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk (any kind – I use nonfat)
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 cups onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tsp dried – but fresh is best!)
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 cups chopped Roma or cherry tomatoes
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 lb pasta (I prefer mini-penne, but it’s hard to fine, so I often use small elbows)
  • 5 oz Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
  • optional: seasoned bread crumbs (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Turn off heat and add flour, making a smooth paste. (Make sure you smash out any lumps – this is your only chance to do so.) Pour in milk, turn on heat to medium, and stir until sauce thickens – about 5 minutes. Stir in Dijon, nutmeg, salt, and black pepper. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside. cauliflower pasta casserole5In a 12″ skillet over medium/high, heat oil. Add onions and sauté until translucent, but not browned – about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and add in garlic and basil, stirring to bloom by using residual heat from the hot skillet.cauliflower pasta casserole4 Turn heat to medium/high and add in cauliflower. Sauté for 5 minutes. cauliflower pasta casserole2Add in the tomatoes and continue to cook until cauliflower is tender – about 10 minutes. cauliflower pasta casserole1In a saucepot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add in 1 T salt and the pasta. Cook until slightly under-done. Drain. cauliflower pasta casserole10In the now-empty saucepot, combine the white sauce, cauliflower mixture, pasta, and lemon juice. cauliflower pasta casserole8Pour half into a casserole dish. Sprinkle on half of Mozzarella and half of Parmesan. cauliflower pasta casserole9Cover with the remaining pasta mixture and top with the remaining cheeses. cauliflower pasta casserole7Cover and bake at 375º Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Remove lid and cook 10 minutes longer, if covering with crumb topping. Evenly sprinkle topping over top. Return to oven, uncovered, and bake another 5 minutes. cauliflower pasta casserole12If not covering with topping, bake uncovered for 15 minutes.cauliflower pasta casserole13Let set 15 minutes before serving – it’s super hot! Pass around Seasoned Breadcrumbs, if desired.

SEASONED BREADCRUMBS – makes 1/2 cup

  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1½ T olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 T Parmesan cheese, grated

In a small skillet combine the panko, olive oil, oregano, basil, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Stirring constantly, sauté mixture over medium until crumbs are browned. (You can crank up the heat to medium/high, but keep an eye on it.) cauliflower pasta casserole6Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Stir in Parmesan when crumbs are cooled.cauliflower pasta casserole14