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Friday Recipe Exchange: Revisiting Fun with Ricotta

Yummy Cannoli by JeffreyW

Yummy Cannoli by JeffreyW

Things are not slowing down here. I put a bid in on a cute little Victorian house, only to face 15 other bids this past week. I did not realize house hunting was going to turn into a full-time job that feels like an episode of the Bachelor, where I go home without the rose each week. Between that and raising a rambunctious 10-month old Great Dane, the weeks are slipping by. Speaking of the Beast, I had to clean out the freezer to make room for his frozen apples halves (apples were on sale, so I stocked up) and his giant beef bones (again, on sale, so I stocked up and boiled a good two week supply). Deep in the freezer, behind the pumpkin, cranberries and leftovers, was a pint of ricotta.

Decided I needed to use it up, so I dug into the archives looking for my vegetarian meatball recipe. That became tonight’s featured recipe, and I pulled up the previous recipe exchange where it was featured and said, “hey, that looks good.” In other words, tonight is a repeat. Next week, though, I’m planning on sharing some fun recipes I’ve been playing with this week.

To start tonight, how about homemade ricotta? JeffreyW has made it and if you click here and he’ll take you step by step through the process.

He then puts his homemade ricotta to good use with Stuffed Shells, as pretty to look at as they are delicious. (recipe and photos here)

I have a great alternative to regular gnocchi, a lighter, easier version using ricotta cheese and a fire roasted sauce to make a simple, quick Baked Gnocchi. (recipe here).

A quick Skillet Lasagna (recipe here) is great for weeknights and a breeze to make.

And a yummy dessert from JeffreyW, a beautiful Cannoli recipe, pictured above and found here.

Finally, for the pet lovers, a Bixby update from the pup himself. If you click here, be prepared, he’s a Beast, standing at his full height on his hind legs.

What’s on your menu for the weekend? Anyone else house hunting? Have you started your gardens in earnest yet?

Now on to the featured recipe. These are very simple to make and are delicious. It’s a great vegetarian alternative for your pasta dishes. They’re light and once you get the technique down, you can play with the flavors and customize them to your palate.

Veggie Meatballs

Most of the recipes I looked at used Italian Breadcrumbs. But I really feel these need fresh breadcrumbs, so I’ve included instructions for making your own. I didn’t season mine because I didn’t want them to overpower the delicate flavors of the cheeses. Fresh breadcrumbs absorb flavors and moisture more than packaged ones, so I thought it gave the whole meatball a better, lighter texture. I added a bit of  garlic powder (fresh garlic did not work with this, it was overpowering and a touch bitter), basil, oregano and fennel. The fennel really took it up a notch. My second round of these, I added a bit of red pepper flake.

Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs

  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (instructions below)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese mix
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten

=======

  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese
  • Olive oil

Breadcrumbs: this took a full 1-lb loaf of day-old Italian or French bread. I bought it from the day-old rack for cheap. I tore it into small pieces, spread out on a baking sheet and dried it in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want them toasted or seasoned because I thought it would overpower the delicate flavors of these meatballs. Once they were dried, I ran them through the blender. I reserved 1/4 cup for rolling the balls in before cooking.

Meatballs: Mix together ricotta, grated cheeses, spinach and spices. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup at a time. You want it to come together to form soft balls, but you don’t want it to be dry. Once you can form a soft ball with some structure, you don’t need to add more breadcrumbs.

Scoop up a heaping tablespoon (I used my cookie dough scoop) and roll the mixture into balls.

Mix together 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheeses in a bowl and roll each meatball in the mixture, coating on all sides.

You can bake or pan fry these. I chose to pan fry, it used a bit of oil, but it gave them a nice flavor. Baking them would be my option if I was doubling the recipe.

To fry: heat olive oil in a skillet on medium and add the meatballs, leaving enough space between them to easily turn them. They are soft, so it’s a delicate process. The good news is, if you really want them round (instead of kind of flattened) you can reshape them after they come out of the pan. Turn them until they are golden brown on all sides.

To bake: place them on a well oiled baking sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with a bit of oil if desired. Leave space around each one so they brown evenly and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You can turn them halfway through if desired.

Serve them with your favorite pasta and sauce. If you need sauce ideas, click here for Garden Fresh Sauce and click here for Awesome Sauce.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Dinner Menu: Linguine w/Peppers and Italian Asparagus

It’s the time of year that I begin to crave fresh, light dinners. I’ve tired of stews, hearty soups and the other staples of the mid-winter gloom. As I start to believe spring will arrive again, I want meals that reflect that belief. Lots of fresh veggies, fresh fruits, light sauces and simple, full flavors.

This menu includes items that are plentiful at my local grocery this week. All the peppers are on sale right now, so I use red, yellow. orange and green. Lots of fresh berries, too. And asparagus is everywhere.

On the board tonight:

  1. Linguine w/Garlic & Peppers
  2. Italian Asparagus
  3. Mixed berries & whipped cream

Linguine w/Garlic & Peppers

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes*
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 oz shredded Romano-Parmesan cheese
  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine

saucepan and skillet

In skillet heat oil, add garlic, red pepper flakes, green & red peppers and sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add fresh basil, tomatoes, salt & pepper let simmer while pasta cooks. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well. Toss with pepper mixture & cheese.

* you can use fresh tomatoes, probably 2 large, but I couldn’t find any decent ones this time of year.

Italian Asparagus

  • 1 bunch (approx. 16 oz) fresh asparagus spears
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz shredded Romano/Parmesan

saucepan & steamer

Gently scrub asparagus, cut in half and place in steamer. Add enough water to saucepan to come in the bottom of the steamer. Steam for 5 to 8 minutes, until the stalks are tender. Remove and toss with oil, oregano, salt, pepper & cheese.

Shopping List:

  • 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes*
  • 4 oz shredded Romano-parmesan cheese**
  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine
  • 1 bunch (approx. 16 oz) fresh asparagus spears
  • 2 oz shredded Romano/Parmesan
  • 16 oz mixed berries
  • Whipped Cream

Also: oregano, olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed garlic, crushed red pepper flakes

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Dinner Menu: Baked Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato-Basil Sauce

This is an elegant dinner that looks like it took you all day to prepare.  From start to finish I cooked the asparagus and gnocchi in 1/2 hour.  The strawberry bread takes an hour to cook, but it’s a breeze to put together.  So if you feel the need for something special, but still easy, this one could be for you.

On the board tonight:

  1. Baked Ricotta Gnocchi
  2. Broiled Asparagus
  3. Loaf of good crusty bread
  4. Strawberry Bread

Christmas Eve is spent eating good food at friends’ Mark and Larissa’s house. Mark’s mom is from Italy and Larissa’s mom is from Japan, and luckily for me, the subject always turns to food from both countries. This year we talked about ravioli, gnocchi and fish in salt domes. I have to confess I’m not a fan of gnocchi. Should be good, right? – potato goodness, covered in sauce. What’s not to love? It just isn’t a favorite of mine. Maybe because I’ve never had it fresh I am missing out. But after we discussed how to make it fresh, well, I don’t think I’d be making it anytime soon. Then I saw a recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi and it sounded good and best of all, easy.  So I’d thought I’d try it. This is what I came up with and it quickly became a favorite of my guests.

Baked Ricotta Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato and Basil Sauce

Sauce:

  • 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh chopped)

Add ingredients in saucepan, bring to a low boil, reduce to low and let simmer while preparing gnocchi.

Topping:

  • 4 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 1 oz grated parmesan or Romano cheese

Gnocchi:

  • 15 oz Ricotta (whole or low-fat)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 oz fresh parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 cup unbleached flour

large stock pot, mixing bowl, mixer, glass baking dish- lightly oiled

While preparing gnocchi, bring water to boil in large sauce pan or stock pot. In a mixing bowl, mix together Ricotta and eggs. Add parmesan, salt, pepper and flour, stir in by hand until combined, do not over mix.  Bring water up to a low boil, you’ll want a low boil to keep the dough from falling apart as it hits the water.  Form dough into cookie dough sized balls (I use a cookie scoop, you can use two tablespoons) and drop into boiling water. Do not crowd, cook in several batches as needed (I managed 12-13 per batch of 1″ balls). Cook for 7 minutes, remove with slotted spoon, draining well,  to baking dish. When all the gnocchi are cooked, cover with sauce, and top with cheeses. Bake for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven, until cheese is bubbling.

This week I actually made this a day ahead, keeping the gnocchi, sauce and topping separate, so I could bribe the guys at work to attend a lunch meeting.  I put it together and baked just before serving and it turned out very well.  I baked it for 20 minutes until it was heated through.

Broiled Asparagus

  • 1 lb Asparagus
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

baking sheet

Cut woody stems off of asparagus and toss lightly with olive oil. Spread onto baking sheet in one layer. Broil until lightly brown and tender, turning as each side browns, about 8-12 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Strawberry Bread

  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup butter
  • 12 oz frozen strawberries, thawed & chopped*
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

loaf pan, greased

Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, oil, strawberries and pecans. Stir just until all ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes then run knife around edges & remove to cool on wire rack.

*I pureed mine, works fine, needs additional 5 minutes cooking time

Shopping List:

  • 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Fresh basil
  • 4 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 3 oz grated parmesan or Romano
  • 15 oz Ricotta (Whole or low-fat)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 1 loaf nice crusty bread
  • 12 oz frozen strawberries
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 oz chopped pecans

Also: garlic, dried oregano (or fresh), salt, pepper, flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, olive oil, cinnamon, sugar

Originally Posted January 2010

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Dinner Menu: Pasticcio and Salata Meze

I’m planning on making a cream of chicken soup today. I wanted a rich, creamy soup and that is where I settled. I haven’t made it before, so if it turns out, I’ll post recipe and photos. If not, you’ll never know it happened. LOL.

For this week’s dinner menu, I went with a recipe that was completely out of my experience when I first tried it. Cinnamon and nutmeg in macaroni and cheese? Never!  It soon became one of my favorite recipes because the flavors are so rich, layered and exotic. Paired with an equally flavorful salad, this menu adds a little Greek to the week.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pasticcio
  2. Salata Meze
  3. Chopped Apples w/honey & walnuts over ice cream

Pasticcio

  • 7 oz dry ziti
  • 3/4 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp salt
  • 6 oz grated parmesan/Romano mix
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

saucepan & skillet

8×8 glass baking dish, greased

Cook ziti according to package directions, drain well. Sauté onions, add beef and cook until beef is browned. Stir in tomatoes & salt. Layer 1/2 ziti in baking dish; add beef mixture and then 1/2 of the cheese, sprinkle cinnamon over cheese. Add remaining ziti. Beat eggs, milk & butter together. Pour over ziti mixture, top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes, until center is set. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Salata Meze

  • 8 oz green beans
  • 2 small zucchini sliced
  • 8 oz cauliflower crowns
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 red onion, sliced in rings
  • 6-12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • lettuce leaves
  • 2 oz whole black olives
  • 2 oz crumbled feta cheese

saucepan & serving bowl

Add beans, cauliflower and zucchini to water in saucepan, bring to a boil. Simmer on med-low for 3-5 minutes until vegetables are tender-crisp. Rinse with ice water & drain well. Mix oil, lemon, honey & spices and toss with vegetables, including onions & tomatoes. Layer lettuce leaves in serving bowl, top with vegetable mixture. Garnish with olives and feta.

Chopped Apples w/honey & walnuts

  • 2 apples, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup honey (more as needed)
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • Dash of lemon juice

Add chopped apples, honey, lemon juice and walnuts to saucepan and heat until honey is melted and coats everything. Let simmer until apples are tender. Serve warm over ice cream.

Shopping List:

  • 7 oz ziti
  • 3/4 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz fresh grated parmesan/Romano mix
  • 1 ¼ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz green beans
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 8 oz cauliflower crowns
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 6-12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small head bib lettuce
  • 2 oz whole black olives
  • 2 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • 2 apples
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Also: cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, salt

==================================

Friday Recipe Exchange: Fun with Ricotta

Yummy Cannoli by JeffreyW

Yummy Cannoli by JeffreyW

I know it’s grilling season, but we’ll have all summer to talk about grilling recipes. This week I wanted to try out a recipe that has been tucked away and waiting for me to put my spin on it.

A while back, I asked you guys for a vegetarian meatball recipe, and you came through with some great ideas. Once I had the general concept down,  I thought it was time to flavor it up a bit more. So tonight’s featured recipe is a vegetarian spinach ricotta meatball. With that in mind, the recipe theme came into focus. The versatility of ricotta cheese, from main course to desserts.

To start, how about homemade ricotta? JeffreyW has done it and you can click here and he’ll take you step by step through the process.

He then puts his homemade ricotta to good use with Stuffed Shells, as pretty to look at as they are delicious. (recipe here)

I have a great alternative to regular gnocchi, a lighter, easier version using ricotta cheese and a fire roasted sauce to make a simple, quick Baked Gnocchi. (recipe here)

Moving on to dessert, a friend of mine has what feels like weekly potlucks at work and she often takes Apple Lasagna, recipe here, that is always a hit.

And finally from JeffreyW, a beautiful Cannoli recipe, pictured above that can be found here.

Now that you have a bunch of ideas for that tub of ricotta, let’s switch things up before we get to the featured recipe. I’d like to know if you’ve ever made your own wine, beer or hard ciders. I’d like to know details, where did you get your ingredients and how did it all turn out? Besides that, what’s on your menu for the weekend?

Now on to the featured recipe. These a so simple to make and taste so good, it’s a great vegetarian alternative for your pasta dishes. They’re very light and once you get the technique down, you can play with the flavors and customize them to your palate.

Veggie Meatballs

Most of the recipes I looked at used Italian Breadcrumbs. But I really feel these need fresh breadcrumbs, so I’ve included instructions for making your own. I didn’t season mine because I didn’t want them to overpower the delicate flavors of the cheeses. Fresh breadcrumbs absorb flavors and moisture more than packaged ones, so I thought it gave the whole meatball a better, lighter texture. I added a bit of  garlic powder (fresh garlic did not work with this, it was overpowering and a touch bitter), basil, oregano and fennel. The fennel really took it up a notch. I think next time I might add a bit of red pepper flake.

Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs

  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (instructions below)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese mix
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten

=======

  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese
  • Olive oil

Breadcrumbs: this took a full 1-lb loaf of day-old Italian or French bread. I bought it from the day-old rack for cheap. I tore it into small pieces, spread out on a baking sheet and dried it in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want them toasted or seasoned because I thought it would overpower the delicate flavors of these meatballs. Once they were dried, I ran them through the blender. I reserved 1/4 cup for rolling the balls in before cooking.

Meatballs: Mix together ricotta, grated cheeses, spinach and spices. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup at a time. You want it to come together to form soft balls, but you don’t want it to be dry. Once you can form a soft ball with some structure, you don’t need to add more breadcrumbs.

Scoop up a heaping tablespoon (I used my cookie dough scoop) and roll the mixture into balls.

Mix together 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheeses in a bowl and roll each meatball in the mixture, coating on all sides.

You can bake or pan fry these. I chose to pan fry, it used a bit of oil, but it gave them a nice flavor. Baking them would be my option if I was doubling the recipe.

To fry: heat olive oil in a skillet on medium and add the meatballs, leaving enough space between them to easily turn them. They are soft, so it’s a delicate process. The good news is, if you really want them round (instead of kind of flattened) you can reshape them after they come out of the pan. Turn them until they are golden brown on all sides.

To bake: place them on a well oiled baking sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with a bit of oil if desired. Leave space around each one so they brown evenly and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You can turn them halfway through if desired.

Serve them with your favorite pasta and sauce. If you need sauce ideas, click here for Garden Fresh Sauce and click here for Awesome Sauce.

============================================

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Stuffed Peppers

Photo by JeffreyW

I decided that we’d do stuffed peppers tonight and when I went trolling around the blog, found we’ve done a few variations on them over the years. Tonight’s featured recipe is from my cousin Scott. He mentions in the original post that we’re a family who loves to cook and I couldn’t agree more. On his side of my family, I think everyone has the gift in the kitchen. I have memories of my grandparents’ farm and the great food we’d have there. My Grandma Lois made the best fried eggs in the world that I have never been able to duplicate. They were crisp on the bottom (a treatment my family always called “shoe leather” –though that does not do that crust justice), perfectly medium on top and covered in so much pepper you’d sneezed just looking at them. Try as I might, I’ve never been able to come close to those eggs. I asked my mom a few years ago what I was missing and she replied, “lard”. And I’m sure it was previously used lard at that. Grandma Lois kept a can on the stove. It’s probably why her fried chicken was so amazing, too.

Anyway that story has nothing to do with tonight’s recipes. Stuffed peppers. We have several takes on them:

JeffreyW does a traditional Stuffed Peppers with homemade tomato soup (recipe here).

I have a pretty easy stuffed Red Pepper recipe – though you can use green peppers, no problem (recipe here).

And our featured recipe, below, from my Men Who Cook series, is a vegetarian treat.

How about you, any favorite memories of foods from childhood you can’t recreate? Do you have a different take on stuffed peppers that you like to use? Hit the comments and share.

Now for tonight’s featured recipe:

This comes from my cousin Scott Adams. Scottie follows in the footsteps of many in my family – the love of cooking (click here for the full story). These peppers are practically gourmet!

Scottie’s Stuffed Pepper’s

  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound short whole wheat pasta
  • 4 large red bell peppers, tops cut off and reserved, seeded
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for drizzling
  • 4 jarred roasted red peppers
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small portobello mushroom caps, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, stems discarded and leaves chopped
  • One 28-ounce can fire-roasted crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups arugula or baby spinach (a few generous handfuls)
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of Dill

Preheat the oven to 425°. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Trim the bottoms of the bell peppers, without cutting a hole, so that they stand. Season inside with salt and black pepper. Turn the peppers bottom side up in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, set the tops alongside and drizzle with EVOO. Roast for 20 minutes.

Using a food processor, puree the roasted red peppers. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the red onion, garlic, mushrooms, crushed red pepper and rosemary and cook until softened, 7 minutes. Stir in the pureed peppers and the fire-roasted tomatoes; season with salt and black pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pasta and toss. Add the arugula and basil and cook until wilted.

Preheat the broiler. Turn the peppers upright; fill with pasta. Top with the cheese and broil until melted, 2 minutes. Cover with the tops and serve with any extra pasta.

Cross-posted at Balloon-Juice sometime this evening.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Pizza

Cross posted at Balloon-Juice.

JeffreyW's Fantastic White Pizza

On the road again, but didn’t forget you. Tonight I thought it would be fun if we shared pizza recipes. And if we’re talking about pizza, at least at What’s 4 Dinner Solutions, we’re talking JeffreyW’s great pizza incarnations. I think he posts a new one at least once a week and each looks better than the last. I knew as soon as he posted it, I wanted to feature his White Pizza recipe.  But his ideas just start there, he makes Deep Dish Pizzas, a variety of pita pizzas and an array of pizzas topped with his Awesome Sauce.

JeffreyW's Pizza with Dried Tomatoes

Next week:Rice will be our ingredient.

Now it’s your turn, what do put on your pizza?  Here is Jeffrey’s original white pizza post:

I’ve Been Dreaming of a White Pizza

Not sure why but I got a notion to build a pizza with a white sauce today.  I surfed around looking at recipes and went with what I would call a Mornay sauce if it was over pasta.  Just a basic white sauce, a roux of flour and butter with milk added and cheese stirred in as it thickened.  I grated some Parmesan and Romano for this one, about 2 cups.  The white sauce was 2T each of butter and flour and a cup and a bit of milk.  I splashed in a wee bit more milk when it looked like the sauce was a bit thick.  I ended up troweling it onto the pizza dough.  I stirred in some dried basil, was really wishing I had some fresh, and five cloves of smashed and minced garlic.

I layered in slices of mozzarella, and added blanched broccoli and diced grilled chicken.  Grated some more Parmesan on top but I don’t think it was needed.

This went into a 375 oven.  I looked in after 12 minutes and saw that it wasn’t even close yet.  I took the opportunity to brush some olive oil onto the crust.  The sauce and the mozzarella combined into a roiling bubbly sea with islands of green dotted about and I was worried that the pizza would be a bust.  It was smelling great, at any rate.  I lost track of the time but I’d guess it was in there for another 20 minutes.  I pulled it out when the top was showing some nice color.The sauce was still very liquid as it came out but it set up nicely as it cooled a bit and wasn’t runny, relieving me of that particular worry.

Some salt and fresh ground pepper, a generous sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and it was ready.  I was starved and the pizza did not disappoint me at all.  Great garlic and cheese flavors, and there will be a rematch tomorrow:

Thanks Jeffrey!  Are you hungry yet? Now I’m off in search of pizza in Santa Monica.  Woo-hoo!


I’ve been dreaming of a white pizza

Not sure why but I got a notion to build a pizza with a white sauce today.  I surfed around looking at recipes and went with what I would call a Mornay sauce if it was over pasta.  Just a basic white sauce, a roux of flour and butter with milk added and cheese stirred in as it thickened.  I grated some Parmesan and Romano for this one, about 2 cups.  The white sauce was 2T each of butter and flour and a cup and a bit of milk.  I splashed in a wee bit more milk when it looked like the sauce was a bit thick.  I ended up troweling it onto the pizza dough.  I stirred in some dried basil, was really wishing I had some fresh, and five cloves of smashed and minced garlic.I layered in slices of mozzarella, and added blanched broccoli and diced grilled chicken.  Grated some more Parmesan on top but I don’t think it was needed.This went into a 375 oven.  I looked in after 12 minutes and saw that it wasn’t even close yet.  I took the opportunity to brush some olive oil onto the crust.  The sauce and the mozzarella combined into a roiling bubbly sea with islands of green dotted about and I was worried that the pizza would be a bust.  It was smelling great, at any rate.  I lost track of the time but I’d guess it was in there for another 20 minutes.  I pulled it out when the top was showing some nice color.The sauce was still very liquid as it came out but it set up nicely as it cooled a bit and wasn’t runny, relieving me of that particular worry. Makes for a poor picture!  LOLSome salt and fresh ground pepper, a generous sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and it was ready.  I was starved and the pizza did not disappoint me at all.  Great garlic and cheese flavors, and there will be a rematch tomorrow:

Thursday Night Menu: Asparagus, Peppers and Berries, Oh, My

As the weather warms up I find myself wandering the grocery aisles looking for fresh foods to cook with, not wanting any more root vegetables or winter squash.  It can be challenging because I want fresh – not shipped from a thousand miles fresh.  But I settle for what I can find, which are peppers and asparagus.  The linguine calls for red and green peppers, but red, green, yellow and orange were all on sale, so I’m going with that in mine.   It will make for a nice spring presentation.  Add to that a bunch of tulips for the table and I’m in full Spring mode at my house.  What are you doing to chase away the remnants of winter this weekend?

On the board tonight:

  1. Linguine w/Garlic & Peppers
  2. Italian Asparagus
  3. Mixed berries & whipped cream

Linguine w/Garlic & Peppers

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes*
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 oz shredded Romano-Parmesan cheese
  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine

saucepan and skillet

In skillet heat oil, add garlic, red pepper flakes, green & red peppers and sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add fresh basil, tomatoes, salt & pepper let simmer while pasta cooks. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well. Toss with pepper mixture & cheese.

* you can use fresh tomatoes, probably 2 large, but I couldn’t find any decent ones this time of year.

Italian Asparagus

  • 1 bunch (approx. 16 oz) fresh asparagus spears
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz shredded Romano/Parmesan

saucepan & steamer

Gently scrub asparagus, cut in half and place in steamer. Add enough water to saucepan to come in the bottom of the steamer. Steam for 5 to 8 minutes, until the stalks are tender. Remove and toss with oil, oregano, salt, pepper & cheese.

Shopping List:

  • 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes*
  • 4 oz shredded Romano-parmesan cheese**
  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine
  • 1 bunch (approx. 16 oz) fresh asparagus spears
  • 2 oz shredded Romano/Parmesan
  • 16 oz mixed berries
  • Whipped Cream

Also: oregano, olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed garlic, crushed red pepper flakes


Thursday Night Menu: It’s all Greek to me

I’m still getting my feet under me after being in the Boston area for a week, it is amazing how much stuff can accumulate when you are gone. I haven’t even had time to go near the kitchen and cook anything beyond the basics, very happy to come home to 60 degree weather, though. Makes me long for grilling season. Tonight’s menu is a favorite. Pasticcio is kind of like a Greek mac‘n cheese, but the cinnamon and nutmeg give it a rich, exotic flavor. Every time I bust this one out at a dinner, the guests want the recipe. Continuing the Greek theme, the salad is full of fresh flavors with a little touch of honey to sweeten the deal. You can finish up with some baklava, but I prefer the apples and walnuts over ice cream.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pasticcio
  2. Salata Meze
  3. Chopped Apples w/honey & walnuts over ice cream

Courtesy of Delicious Magazine UK

 

Pasticcio

  • 7 oz dry ziti
  • 3/4 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp salt
  • 6 oz grated parmesan/Romano mix
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

saucepan & skillet

8×8 glass baking dish, greased

Cook ziti according to package directions, drain well. Sauté onions, add beef and cook until beef is browned. Stir in tomatoes & salt. Layer 1/2 ziti in baking dish; add beef mixture and then 1/2 of the cheese, sprinkle cinnamon over cheese. Add remaining ziti. Beat eggs, milk & butter together. Pour over ziti mixture, top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes, until center is set. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Salata Meze

  • 8 oz green beans
  • 2 small zucchini sliced
  • 8 oz cauliflower crowns
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 red onion, sliced in rings
  • 6-12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • lettuce leaves
  • 2 oz whole black olives
  • 2 oz crumbled feta cheese

saucepan & serving bowl

Add beans, cauliflower and zucchini to water in saucepan, bring to a boil. Simmer on med-low for 3-5 minutes until vegetables are tender-crisp. Rinse with ice water & drain well. Mix oil, lemon, honey & spices and toss with vegetables, including onions & tomatoes. Layer lettuce leaves in serving bowl, top with vegetable mixture. Garnish with olives and feta.

Chopped Apples w/honey & walnuts

  • 2 apples, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup honey (more as needed)
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • Dash of lemon juice

Add chopped apples, honey, lemon juice and walnuts to saucepan and heat until honey is melted and coats everything. Let simmer until apples are tender. Serve warm over ice cream.

Shopping List:

  • 7 oz ziti
  • 3/4 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz fresh grated parmesan/Romano mix
  • 1 ¼ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz green beans
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 8 oz cauliflower crowns
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 6-12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small head bib lettuce
  • 2 oz whole black olives
  • 2 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • 2 apples
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Also: cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, salt