Sunday, February 16, 2014

Apple Walnut Cheddar Pizza

I've become quite a fan of the apple/cheddar combination. While I was in Boston over the summer, I had this combination in a delicious omelette. Upon returning home, I decided to put some apple slices and cheddar in a grilled cheese sandwich (which was delicious, by the way). So knowing that these two flavors work so well together, I decided to embark on the journey to bring them together on a pizza.

I did some experimenting with this pizza before I decided on something that works well. What resulted is a pizza that I've really come to enjoy. I took some cues from other pizzas I've had that use a fruit, cheese, and nut combination. This pizza ended up as a tasty and unique flavor that is different and unexpected for a pizza. Since this recipe came as a result of experimenting, please excuse the very informal measurements.

This pizza can be made on any pizza dough, though I'm a big fan of making dough at home. I can't take credit for the dough recipe that I use, though. That comes from A Couple Cooks. You can get that recipe here.

1 batch of pizza dough
2 tablespoons of honey
1 apple
1 teaspoon lemon juice
black pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese
handful of walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Stretch out the pizza dough on a baking sheet.

2. Put the honey into a bowl and warm up in the microwave for about 20 seconds so it's runnier and spreads out easier. Brush the honey onto the pizza dough. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top.

3. Core an apple and cut into thin slices. Mix the apple slices with the lemon juice, cinnamon and black pepper. Arrange the apple slices on top of the cheese.

4. Crush up a handful of walnuts and sprinkle on top of the pizza.

5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the crust is lightly browned.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Basil Pesto

ummer is a wonderful time to enjoy plants, flowers, the outdoors, and fresh herbs. Unfortunately, I live in an apartment, so I don't have a yard, but I got creative and constructed a small herb garden under the window in my kitchen. This lovely little herb garden has provided me with mint, cilantro, oregano, and basil, which is my favorite.

I'm a big fan of pesto. My dad always made it when out of the basil that he grew and it was delicious. When I was finally able to grow my own basil, I had one end goal in mind: make pesto. So that's exactly what I did recently. When my basil plant had reached a reasonable height and was nice and leafy, I clipped some leaves and made up a delicious batch of pesto. Of course, pesto is delicious with a serving of pasta, but I also love putting it on sandwiches and enjoy a spread of it on a veggie burger. Point is, the recipe itself is very simple. Deciding what to do with the pesto once it's made is the fun part.

1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper

Blend basil leaves, walnuts, Parmesan cheese and garlic in food processor. While blending, drizzle in olive oil (about 1/4 cup) to make a paste-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until use.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Coucous Cakes with Salsa

As I believe I've mentioned that I made a New Year's resolution to myself to make at least one new recipe every week. This usually means that on Sunday, when I'm making up my weekly menu (yes, I actually do that), I end up flipping through one of my cookbooks for something that I haven't made before and that sounds intriguing. So recently, I was flipping through Better Homes and Garden 365 Vegetarian Meals and came across this recipe. I thought it sounded interesting, and worth a try. I ended up being happy with how it came out. I wasn't expecting couscous to go well with a Mexican-flavored salsa, but it did! This is a nice, light meal and great for summer. It has a couple components to it, so bear with me.

Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup whole wheat couscous
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teapsoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk or sour fat-free milk*
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 recipe Black Bean Salsa
Nonstick cooking spray

*To make 3/4 cup sour fat-free milk, place 2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Add enough fat-free milk to make 3/4 cup total liquid; stir. Let stand for 5 minutes before using.

1. In a medium bowl combine uncooked couscous, whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl beat egg with a fork. Stir in buttermilk and oil. Stir buttermilk mixture into couscous mixture. Let stand for 20 minutes (batter will thicken as it stands).

2. Meanwhile, prepare Black Bean Salsa; set aside. Preheat oven to 200 degree F.

Black Bean Salsa: In a medium bowl stir together 3/4 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed; half of a 15-ounce can black beans (3/4 cup), rinsed and drained; 3/4 cup salsa; 1/2 cup chopped, peeled jicama; 1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro; 1 tablespoon lime juice; and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin.

3. Lightly coat an unheated griddle or large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Preheat over medium heat. For each cake, spoon 2 slightly rounded tablespoons of the couscous batter onto the hot griddle or into the skillet; quickly spread to 3 1/2-inch cakes. Cook about 4 minutes or until brown, turning once halfway through cooking or when bottoms are lightly brown and edges are slightly dry. Remove bean cakes from griddle or skillet. Keep warm in oven while cooking remaining cakes.

4. To serve, top couscous cakes with Black Bean Salsa.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Return from Hiatus

I'm not going to completely ignore the fact that I haven't written a new recipe on here since September or something, and then just decided to post something today. So here's what happened. This was my first year of teaching, and while I loved every moment of it, this did require a great deal of work. I knew that was going to be the case. This past school year as a whole was a huge learning experience that brought a great deal of joy, the feeling of being overwhelmed at times, and a little bit of heartbreak here and there, including the passing of my grandfather.

I knew I would begin updating this again as soon as school ended, and that is precisely what happened. My school year ended yesterday at approximately 1:30 pm, which is when I entered the final exams I had just finished grading. And now, I intend to keep writing more often.

Please know that I although I have not written here, I have still been doing lots of cooking. With the exception of the week that my grandfather passed away, I have kept my New Year's resolution to make one new recipe every week. So I have lots of new recipes, which I'm excited to share.

Happy reading, and happy summer!


Here in the Cleveland area, there is a legendary restaurant named Tommy's. It's a favorite of mine, and pretty much my entire family. The menu is loaded with lots of healthy vegetarian options, including the delicious falafel, which is a small, fried patty made out of chick peas. My favorite sandwich that features a falafel is called the Ceebee, which is pita bread with muenster cheese, falafel, hummus, green peppers, tomato, sprouts and sunflower seeds. Delicious! Ever since I first had the falafel at Tommy's, it's been one of my favorite foods. However, I can't always go to Tommy's when I'm craving a falafel. So I set out on a quest to find a suitable recipe so I could make it at home.

I found a good recipe in Better Homes and Gardens 365 Vegetarian Meals, which I adapted to suit my tastes a little bit more. I've made this recipe frequently since I first came across it. While it's not quite the same as a Tommy's falafel (I don't think anything ever will be), this recipe is very good and easy to make. I would highly recommend giving it a try, especially if you've never had falafel before!

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas) rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons freshly snipped parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon round cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. In a food processor, combine the drained beans, flour, parsley, the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, halved garlic, coriander, cumin, salt and black pepper. Cover and process until finely chopped and mixture holds together. Some pieces of garbanzo beans should still be visible. Shape the bean mixture into four 3-inch diameter patties.

2. In a large skill heat the 2 tablespoons oil over medium-hgh heat. Add patties. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until brown and heated through turning halfway through cooking.

3. Serve up in pita bread with some cheese, tahini or hummus, and veggies of choice.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

black bean quinoa bowl with peach salsa.

My quinoa obsession continues. Quinoa recipes are not difficult to come by, but I always like looking for something interesting that doesn't have some ridiculous ingredients that I don't always have on hand. When I came across this recipe, another creation from A Couple Cooks, I knew this was what I'd been looking for. The recipe is two-fold: one for the peach salsa, and one for the quinoa bowl itself. Let's start with the peach salsa.

the recipe
Peach salsa, serves about 4
4 ripe peaches
1/2 large red onion
1/2 jalapeno pepper
1 lime
Handful fresh cilantro
Kosher salt

1. Peel and core the peaches; cut them into small chunks. Finely dice the red onion. Remove the stem, seeds and ribs of the jalapeno pepper and finely dice half of it. Chop the cilantro.
2. Mix all ingredients together and add the juice of 1 lime. Add a bit of kosher salt to taste. If you can wait, let sit for a few minutes to let the flavors meld.

Quinoa bowl
2 cups quinoa
1 recipe peach salsa
2 cans black beans
6 to 8 green onions
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

1. Rinse the 2 cups quinoa and drain completely. Place quinoa in a saucepan with 3 cups water and a few pinches of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot, and simmer for about 13 to 15 minutes, until the water has evaporated. Turn off the heat and let sit covered to cool for about 5 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and add some salt and pepper to taste.
2. While the quinoa cooks, prepare the peach salsa.
3. Drain and rinse the beans. Chop the green onions, mix the beans and onions with 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, about 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Taste and add more seasonings if desired.
4. When the quinoa is finished, dish the quinoa into bowls, and top with the black bean mixture and peach salsa.

For the peach salsa, I didn't add the jalapeno, just because I made a half recipe for everything and didn't see the point in adding a fourth of a jalapeno pepper. For the quinoa bowl, I used cayenne pepper instead of chili powder. Though I included the green onions the first time I made this, the second time I didn't, and I really didn't notice much of a difference in flavor.

great with
The combination of quinoa and black beans makes for a filling dish and therefore, stands well on its own. This is a great one-dish meal.

the review
Mmm, this is so good. I realize that peaches aren't going to be in season for too much longer, so make this while you can! I love the combination of flavors in here. The spicy of the red onions combined with the sweetness of the peaches is delicious. The lime juice is a nice, subtle flavor in there too. And quinoa...well, I can't seem to find enough good things to say about it. This is a delicious, healthy recipe. Whenever I bring leftovers of this with me to work to have for lunch, people are intrigued!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

creamy quinoa primavera.

Have you ever had quinoa? If not, I'd like to introduce you. Quinoa is a delicious and healthy South American seed that makes an excellent replacement for cous cous and rice. It's very high in protein, which is excellent for vegetarians. It's also gluten-free. Some quinoa recipes were popping up as I was browsing blogs looking for new dishes to make, so I thought I'd give quinoa a try. I'm so glad I did. It's my new favorite food. This particular recipe is from a blog called Let's Dish.

the recipe
1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
3 cups vegetable broth
4 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 cups thinly sliced or bite sized pieces assorted uncooked vegetables
3 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Rinse quinoa thoroughly; drain. Bring quinoa and broth to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes or until broth is absorbed. While quinoa is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook garlic in butter for about one minutes, stirring frequently, until golden. Stir in vegetables. Cook about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir cream cheese and basil into cooked quinoa. Toss vegetables with quinoa mixture and sprinkle with cheese.

Didn't have any for this recipe. I will say though, that for the assorted vegetables, I've just been staying basic with some peas and broccoli, but you can use anything you want.

great with
This could make a great side for any meal. Sometimes I'll have it with a veggie burger or a Morningstar Farms chicken pattie. This is also filling enough to have as a single-bowl meal. I often bring some of this to work for my lunch.

the review
This recipe was my first quinoa experience and I must say, I thought it was really good. I like that this recipe has some vegetables right in it. Overall, it makes for a very healthy, filling meal. The cream cheese in this recipe is a nice touch also. It adds a really nice flavor and the meal itself is very smooth and creamy. If you haven't tried quinoa yet, I would definitely give it a shot.