Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sweet Potato and Wilted Greens Salad

I made this dish last night as a side. I had a sweet potato and about half a bunch of kale, so I "googled" around looking for something to make out of it. I found a few recipes to get ideas from and made this dish up. I think it was tasty, see what you think. 

This is enough to serve three people as a side can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.

Sweet Potato and Wilted Greens Salad

Made up...

One large sweet potato
~ 1/2 C thinly sliced onion
~ 6 C greens such as kale and baby spinach 
(I honestly didn't measure the greens, you'll have to eyeball it)

~2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1/2 to 1 tsp. honey
1 Tbs Dijon mustard

~1/4 C feta cheese (more or less to taste)

First, peel and cut the sweet potato into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes. Toss them with a bit of  olive oil and some salt and pepper and roast on a cookie sheet at about 400 degrees. Toss them every once in a while so that they brown evenly, and wait until they are nice and soft when pierced with a fork - this will probably take around half an hour depending on the size of your cubes.

Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook it slowly until it is soft and beginning to brown. Whisk the vinegar, honey, and mustard together in a small bowl.

Over medium-low heat, add the greens to the onions. At the first signs of wilting (within about 15 seconds), pour in the vinegar dressing and toss the mixture to full incorporate it. Continue to cook slowly until the greens are wilted to your liking - I took mine off when the kale was just turning bright green and the spinach was beginning to shrink. If you like, you can heat it until the greens are fully cooked or leave them basically raw - it's all personal taste. Finally, transfer the mixture to a serving bowl,  toss in the cooked sweet potato and cheese, and enjoy!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Homemade Pizza With Cracker Thin Crust

Tonight the whole family came over for dinner, so I made some homemade pizzas and a big Italian salad.The recipe for the dough came from the latest issue of Fine Cooking. Because the dough recipe is so extensive, I had to "cheat" a little to give you the recipe...

For the ingredients and instructions on how to combine them, click here

After you have mixed up and refrigerated your dough, there are a few more steps before you can assemble your pizzas. These instructions are copy-and-pasted directly from

"At least 30 minutes before baking, position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and if using a pizza stone, set it on the rack. (If you don’t have a stone, use a heavy-duty 13x18-inch baking sheet lightly oiled with olive oil.) Heat the oven to 550°F. If using a pizza stone, dust a peel with unbleached all-purpose flour.

While the oven heats, generously flour the dough and then stretch and tuck it under itself, giving it quarter turns as you form a ball of dough with a smooth top. Let rest on the work surface, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Meanwhile, prep all the toppings as directed in the ingredient list before you begin shaping your dough.
Once the dough has rested, very lightly flour your work surface and lay your dough ball in the center of the floured area. Flour your hands and then, using your palms and fingertips, press and stretch the dough into a rough circle about 12 inches in diameter..."

(See my table for dough amounts, cook times, thickness, etc. )

"...Or use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a circle; if sticky spots occur, flour your fingertips (or your rolling pin) and continue stretching the dough. Flip the dough occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the work surface, and use a dough scraper to detach the dough from the work surface if it does stick. If the dough continually contracts, let it rest, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before resuming the stretching process. It’s OK if your dough isn’t a perfect circle. Transfer the stretched dough to the prepared pizza peel or baking sheet..."

(Now, add your sauce, toppings and cheese...)

"If using a baking sheet, put it on the rack. If using a pizza stone, shake the peel a bit to make sure the pizza isn’t stuck and then slide the pizza off the peel and onto the heated stone (Aim for the back of the stone and place the end of the peel there). Bake, turning the pizza with a peel or tongs if one side browns faster than the other, until the crust is nicely browned and crisp and the cheese is bubbly, about 5 to 7 minutes on a pizza stone, or 10 to 12 minutes on a baking sheet. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board, scatter the basil over the pizza, and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes before cutting it with a pizza wheel, kitchen shears, or a chef’s knife."

Neapolitan-Style (Regular)
Sicilian-Style (Thick)
4 oz.
1 1/2 lb.
1/16 in.
1/8 in.
½ in.
Oven Temperature
550 F
550 F
500 F
Baking time (pizza stone
5 to 7 min.
8 to 10 min.
20 to 25 min.
Baking time (baking sheet)
10 to 12 min.
13 to 15 min.
25 to 30 min.

Here are some tips on the overall pizza-making process!

A note on the dough: 

I made whole wheat, and the recipe says to replace one C of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat. I went ahead and replaced two C of the all-purpose with whole wheat and it tasted great. Also, beware if you are making the cracker crust: one pizza will probably only serve about two people - or one very hungry person!


Fine Cooking claims that the best pizza sauces are the simplest ones - and I agree! For mine, I simply poured two cans of diced tomatoes into a sauce pan, then pureed them using the immersion blender. My tomatoes were "Italian style", but you could use plain and add your own herbs and spices. Also, using whole tomatoes would work fine too.
Just bring the pureed tomatoes to a simmer, then reduce the heat so that it continues to simmer slowly. Let the tomatoes reduce until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. 


 Pizza toppings are another area where less is usually more. You can throw virtually anything you want on top of your pizzas, but my general rule is don't exceed more than 4 toppings (I don't count the cheese as one of those). I'm not a very creative cheese eater, I usually stick to Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Feta, but many people like more flavorful cheeses like blue and goat cheese. 

Topping Ideas: Spinach, mushrooms, green/red peppers, onions, green onions, black/green/kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes (sliced, cherry, etc), green onions, asparagus tips, basil, sweet potatoes, pineapple, broccoli

Cheeses: Mozzarella, feta, Parmesan, Romano, blue, Gorgonzola, goat's cheese, and lots, lots more...

Some of my favorite combos:
Spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms and Mozzarella or feta
Basil, tomatoes, and Mozzarella
Green peppers, olives, and Mozzarella

These lists are obviously just ideas. Feel free to try any veggies (or meats I guess :p ) that you think may be tasty. Also, the world of cheeses is endless.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chickpeas and Spinach Over Mashed Potatoes

This dish doesn't have to be served over potatoes, but that is what my family has decided works best. Feel free to try rice, quinoa, or couscous. 

This serves 4.

Chickpeas and Spinach
Every Day with Rachael Ray


1 onion, finely chopped

1 C canned chopped tomatoes
 (I just do a whole 14 oz. can)

3 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained 
(feel free to use freshly cooked chickpeas!)

1 10 oz package frozen spinach

Heat some olive oil over med-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onions, and saute for about 5 minutes or until they are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomatoes and spices, then reduce the heat to med-low and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and cook till heated through, then add the spinach. Cook the mixture until the spinach is heated and incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*The recipe says about 5 minutes for the final step, but it take much longer for me. My spinach is usually still pretty close to frozen, so I run it under hot water for about a minute, then add it to the skillet. I put a lid on the skillet and cook the mixture on medium-low, breaking the spinach chunks up as they defrost. If you plan ahead and defrost your spinach, this step will probably take less time. 

Serve the mixture immediately over your choice of starch, such as mashed potatoes (recipe follows)

Mashed Potatoes (the way Dad likes them)

Idaho or russet potatoes:
 (2 small /1 medium potato per person, plus "one for the pot") 

Splash of milk
A few Tbs butter

(This is obviously a very subjective recipe)

Scrub your potatoes thoroughly and cut them into about a 2-inch dice. If you make them like my family, you'll leave the skins on - that's where all of the nutrients are!

Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and then return them to the pot.

TIP: In order to dry the potatoes before mashing them, put the pot of drained potatoes back on the stove over medium heat to evaporate any remaining water. Stir them to be sure that they don't stick, and take them off the heat as soon as you hear the water stop sizzling. 

Mash up the potatoes using a fork or potato masher. If you like them smooth, you can use and immersion blender or food processor, but we like them with a bit more texture.

Add a bit of butter - anywhere from a tablespoon to a stick - as desired, and a splash of milk. Stir the mixture and adjust fat and liquid amounts to your taste. Season with salt. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Quinoa Salad Updated: Kale

So I recently posted a recipe for Quinoa Salad with Apples, Dried Cranberries, Walnuts, and Gouda, and I made it again tonight with a slight variation. 

Instead of the arugula, which I didn't even use the first time I made it, I used kale. I chopped up one bunch of kale and added to the skillet with the chopped onions after they had begun to soften and turn light brown. Once the kale wilted, I continued the recipe as usual, adding balsamic vinegar and allowing it to evaporate before removing the mixture from the heat.

I absolutely love kale, so this addition worked really well for me. You could probably achieve similar results by doing the same thing with spinach, although be prepared for the distinct flavor that cooked spinach brings to the party. 


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Black Bean and Edamame Sliders + Homemade Barbecue Sauce

These little sandwiches were a good twist on boring old veggie burgers. I've included my recipe for barbecue sauce. I made a half batch to serve three people.

Changes I would make: 
These would be better served on regular hamburger buns. The rolls, at least the ones I served, were a bit too dense. 
I also topped my sliders with a few pieces of spinach. Yum. :)

Black Bean and Edamame Sliders
VegetarianTimes, March 2011

1 C frozen shelled edamame
1 1/2 C cooked black beans, or 1 15 oz. can, rinsed and drained

1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, drained and mined 
(These have disappeared from my grocery store, so I just minced up a bit of fresh jalepeno pepper)
1/4 C loosely packed fresh cilantro
3/4 C plus 1 Tbs. barbecue sauce
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin (use less if you use my barbecue sauce...)
1/4 tsp salt

12 small whole wheat dinner rolls, cut like buns (or  about 6 regular hamburger buns)
4 oz. cheddar cheese, cut into slices

Cook the edamame in boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Process the garlic and chili in a food processor until finely minced. Add the beans, cooked edamame, 1 Tbs. barbecue sauce, cilantro, cumin, and salt. Process until a thick paste forms (or whatever consistency you like).

Warm the mixture in a pan over medium heat, stirring often so that it doesn't burn. When the mixture is hot, spoon  about 1 Tbs. barbecue sauce onto each bun, followed by a dollop of bean mixture, and topped with cheese (and spinach or other desired toppings).


Barbecue Sauce
The Vegetarian Grill

This only makes about 1/2 cup, so you probably want to double it for the recipe above.

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs minced onion

1/4 C ketchup
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. cumin

Heat some olive oil in  pan and saute the garlic and onion until tender and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 5 more minutes. 

Allow the sauce to cool and enjoy!