Make It: Homemade Caramelized Apple, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Pizza.

Fall means smoky flavors, thick crusts, and roasted and caramelized veggies. The best way to combine all the flavors of fall in one bite? Pizza! The best part of purchasing the heavy black pizza stone I got a few months ago is the amazing crunchy crusts you get from it. For those that have to do without the heavy duty wood-fire ovens that gourmet pizza chefs love so much, a pizza stone is a welcome alternative.

Homemade Caramelized Apple, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Pizza

  • 1/2 pound of bacon (I used Applewood Smoked, fresh from the butcher.)
  • 1 italian sausage, cut into small bits outside of the casing (I used a medium heat one, to balance the sweet of the apples. Optional, just if you want a secondary type of meat.)
  • 4 oz. of goat cheese (I chose the creamy Chevre version for this.)
  • 1 bag of premade dough (I used the garlic and herb type from Trader Joe.)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Mozzerella (or more if you like a lot of cheese.)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic, 3 cloves, smashed
  • Dried Oregano
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper

For the caramelized apples:

  • 1 fresh large apple, thin slices
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 table spoons of cinnamon
  • olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray your pizza stone or pizza tray with cooking spray or olive oil to prevent your crust from burning or sticking.  Take your premade dough out of the bag and let it rest without messing with it for 15 minutes (this lets the air get to the gluten in the flour, letting it become more pliable.) Slowly stretch your dough to the sides of the pizza stone or pan to make the full circle base for your pizza pie (I held my corners down with coffee cups to force the dough to stretch.)

Combine the finely chopped garlic cloves with the oregano, salt, pepper, and olive in a small bowl. Drizzle the garlic oil mixture over the raw dough evenly as your sauce base. Cover the crust liberally and evenly with the shredded cheese, spreading the mozz first and then the parm.

Heat up a small pan with olive oil and put your sliced apples in. Cover the apples with the cinnamon and brown sugar and let it heat up until the sugar dissolves and caramelizes. Take the apples off the heat, let them cool slightly, and then place them on the pizza.

Next layer is the meats. Cut your bacon and sausage up into small bite size pieces and arrange them evenly throughout the top of your pizza. Add small balls of the soft goat cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and pop it into the oven. Bake for about 17-22 minutes, take it out when your crust edges are browning.

Give the pizza a few minutes to chill before slicing out of the oven because the pizza stone will be VERY HOT (believe me.) Slice into thick slices and serve. (I topped mine with fresh mixed greens for a nice crunch to pair with the heartiness of the bacon and sausage.)

This pizza is a crowd pleaser for Autumn afternoons (Including my mom and boyfriend, who aren’t crazy about goat cheese.)

Enjoy with your favorite fall ale, great as a prelude to pumpkin carving.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Make It: Roasted Acorn and Butternut Squash Soup

Using up the last part of my CSA delivery is always a challenge. There it was, a weirdly shaped Acorn Squash, sitting on my kitchen, as if it was mocking me with it’s hard outer shell and culinary obscurity. What the heck was I going to do with this thing? Dealing with a squash in the kitchen is no easy feat, and it’s an underrated undertaking.

What is the best way of dealing with a veggie like this? Roasted, with olive oil and salt. Easy enough right?

I knew that I wanted to make soup with it. And I knew one small Acorn Squash wasn’t going to suffice so I bought a medium sized Butternut Squash to help balance it out.

Roasted Acorn and Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 pounds squash, halved, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, cleaned and roughly chopped into bite size pieces
  • 3 (13 3/4-ounce) cans chicken broth (or two boxes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup light cream or heavy cream (I went with one of the small cartons of heavy for this.)
  • Sour cream, a dallop for garnish

Halve your squash, using a very sharp serrated knife and a lot of patience as it will take a few minutes to crack these bad boys open. Clean out the seeds thoroughly, using a spoon to carve out the innards and stringy bits. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, place your squash face up on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil, placing a small pad of butter in the center of seed pit to keep it moist. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a fork can go through the flesh with ease.

Dice your onion, celery, carrots, and brown them in a deep pan with olive oil. Once the onions start to caramelize the mirepoix, add your chicken stock/chicken broth to the pan. Cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, stiring frequently.

When the squash is fully baked, scrape out the warm insides of the halves directly into a food processor or high-powered blender, adding in the rest of your butter, heavy cream, and a dash of salt. Blend until smooth, adding in your chicken stock and blending again. Serve warm, with a dallop of sour cream.

This soup, although a bit calorie dense due to all of the cream and butter, is great to make ahead for a warm way to heat up the cold Autumn nights.

Enjoy!

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Make It: All Veggie Three Bean Burgers

 

One major power to cooking at home is you get to control what goes into your food. This blog isn’t mean to be entirely veggie but summer just makes me think light veggietastic meals.

I’ve never had a veggie burger, house made or prepackaged, that I thought was to-die-for. Most of the time they end up being rather bland and run into the problems of either too chewy, not structured enough and end up falling apart, or dry as the desert. My goal is to make a tasty, easy, fairly inexpensive solution to all three of these problems.

Note: You can attempt this using the classic fork and mash it all together but honestly, a food processor will seriously make the process that much quicker. You can cook up a few to eat immediately but theyre great frozen for the next time you have a BBQ and you’ll never settle for Gardenburgers ever again.

All Veggie Three Bean Burgers:

  • 1 cup pink beans, soaked
  • 1 cup white beans, small or Great Northern, soaked
  • 1 cup red kidney beans, soaked
  • 1 cup quinoa, soaked and cleaned
  • 2 small red shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs (for a bonding agent, optional if you’re trying to keep it all veggie.)
  • 3 cups of breadcrumbs, fresh or store bought
  • Dried Oregano
  • Dried Parsley
  • Garlic Salt
  • salt and pepper

Part one: cooking with dried beans.

Overnight Soak
Combine the beans in a large bowl or stockpot with 6-8 cups of cold water per pound of beans. Let stand for 6-8 hours or overnight. Rinse and drain the beans.

Note: In general, this recipe is very forgiving. If you like it spicy, add some peppers. If you like it drier, add more breadcrumbs. Add as many different kind of veggies as you like: such as diced sweet peppers, carrots, celery, or bean sprouts. BUT make sure that if you add wetter veggies, make sure to balance out with more breadcrumbs because if they are too wet, the patties will fall apart, and you’ll end up with a gross mess.

Drain your beans. Drain your quinoa, which you’ve fluffed in 1 can of chicken broth.  Mash them all together, making use that you get it as smooth as possible. Add in you veggies, onions, seasonings, and breadcrumbs. Add additional spice to taste. Form the mixture into balls, flaten into 2 inch thick patties, and layer between sheets of wax or parchment paper. Seal the patties in a freezer zip seal bag and freeze for at least three hours to set the patties before cooking. If frozen, the patties will last quite a while so you can make them days or weeks ahead of your next grilling party.

Once  ready to eat, grill them up at medium to high heat for just a few minutes until you get a nice crust on the outside. Top with any and all of you favorite burger dressings and enjoy. (I served mine with melted fresh mozzerella, lettuce, tomatoes, and grilled onion-garlic-mushrooms, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.)

If you need some solid, filling protein without the fat of ground meat, I highly suggest these babies.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Make It: Quinoa Summer Salad filled Endive Spears

When the weather heats up, sometimes you want to avoid the big heavy dinners. In the everlasting quest to be healthy, integrating fresh veggies in new ways can be a challenge and a pleasure.

I took some of the classic cold summer salad recipes and merged them to include tiny stelline “star” pasta and quick cooking quinoa on top of some fresh endive spears to create a fast, crunchy, and healthy bite. It’s perfect as an app, a side, or the main dish.

Quinoa Summer Salad filled Endive Spears:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups of chicken stock or chicken broth
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup stelline “star” pasta
  • 5 pickling cucumbers, peeled, ends trimmed, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (can also use a red shallot)
  • 1 large (firm) tomato, cored, and diced
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 bunches mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 heads endive, trimmed and separated into individual spears

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the quinoa, stir once, and return to a boil. Cook uncovered, over medium heat for 12 minutes. Strain and rinse well with cold water, shaking the sieve well to remove all moisture.

Boil the stelline pasta in one cup of water for about 6 minutes. Since it’s so small, it cooks pretty quickly. Drain and cool, combining with the cooled quinoa.

When dry, transfer the quinoa and pasta to a large bowl. Add the cucumbers, onion, tomato, parsley, mint, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and toss well. Spoon onto endive spears, top with avocado (optional), and serve.

We made some quick marinated rosemary-lemon chicken which we grilled on an electric grill. Super easy and light summer meal, which kept us both full for hours afterwards.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Make It: Thai Fresh Spring Rolls

In trying to be healthier, I wanted to eat clean while trying other types of ethnic cooking (thus making lentils a few weeks ago.)

So, this week, I thought I would try making one of my Thai favorites: Fresh Spring Rolls with tofu and shrimp, complete with Soy Ginger dipping sauce. Really not too hard to do, it just takes patience and finess when dealing with the sticky rice paper wrappers. Safeway surprisingly had everything I was looking for, but most of these ingredients can be found at your local Asian market or online.

Thai Fresh Spring Rolls:

  • 5 ounces thin rice stick noodles
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 1/2 pound unpeeled small shrimp, cleaned and cooked
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 large cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and cut into matchsticks
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil
  • 12 (8 1/2-inch) round rice paper wrappers

Note: If you like your rolls spicier, you can also add some chili paste to the inside of the wrapper. These rolls are pretty forgiving so if you want to add any other veggies like lettuce, sliced peppers, or sliced mushrooms, feel free. DO NOT overstuff your rolls; the paper is a fragile creature and can easily rip if the stuffing is too intense. This recipe was adapted and modified from Alton Brown’s recipe for spring rolls, but feel free to add your own spin on it as well.

Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

 

 

Soak the rice sticks in enough hot water to cover by 1 inch for 10 – 15 minutes, until soft and pliable but not overly mushy.

Bring 1/2 gallon of water to a boil in a large pot set over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Add the shrimp and cook until just firm, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the cooked shrimp to a cutting board and cool for 3 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel, devein, and coarsely chop. Set aside.

Return the water-soy sauce to a boil. Drain the rice stick noodles and add to the hot soy-water. Cook until tender, approximately 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the lime juice, remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, chili paste, and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl.

Drain the noodles in a colander. Add the noodles to the lime juice mixture, toss, and set aside while preparing the vegetables.

Toss the cucumber, carrot, cilantro, and mint together in a small bowl.

Fill a pie dish with warm water. Dip 1 rice paper wrapper into the water for 10 seconds, then transfer to a cutting board until the wrapper is pliable and slightly tacky, approximately 1 minute. Best to do it one at a time, to make sure that the wrappers don’t stick to each other.

Place 1/4 cup of the vegetable mixture on the bottom 1/3 of the wrapper nearest to you. Spoon 2 tablespoons chopped shrimp on top of the vegetables. Top with 1/4 cup noodles. Bring the bottom edge of the wrap tightly over the filling, and then fold in the 2 sides. Finish rolling from bottom to top until the entire wrapper is rolled. Be careful not to tear the rice paper. Place on a parchment-lined half sheet pan and cover with a damp tea towel. Repeat with the remaining wrappers until the filling is gone. Serve with Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce or your favorite Peanut Sauce.

Don’t get me wrong: the first few rolls were definitely not pretty. Once you get the rhythm down, your rolls should start to look more like the rolls you see at your local Thai restaurant. Work in progress but I think for the first time making them from scratch, it was definitely a win!

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Make It: Campfire Potato Packets with Garlic Compound Butter

Since I was a kid, the easy dish that my parents would make on weekend camping trips were always Potato Packets.

I’ve improved the recipe by adding the compound butter to the mix, it adds a nice “grown up” feel to the simple camping recipe.

Garlic Compound Butter:

  • 1 stick of butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • Garlic salt
  • salt and pepper
  • Fresh chives

Let the butter soften and place it in a small bowl. Add the chopped garlic, garlic salt, chives, and salt and pepper to it and combine. Roll the butter in a sheet of plastic wrap, molding into a log. Let the butter chill and set in the fridge for at least an hour.

 

Campfire Potato Packets:

  • 1 lb of small red or yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 stick of compound garlic butter, cut into slabs
  • Tin foil, preferably heavy duty

Make small packets out of the tin foil, placing about 6 – 8 thin slices of potatoes and about two slabs of the butter per packet. Seal all completely, and place on the grill while preparring the rest of your grilled dinner. If you potatoes are thin to medium thick slices, they should take about 15 – 20 min on the grill to cook fully. Make sure your packets are completely sealed to prevent your summer butter from dripping out.

A super easy side, ideal for fast family dinners.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa