Final pizza from this batch

Definitely not quick weeknight pizza, this one. But very excellent and very fall-like, what with the roasted butternut squash. This one worked well with the dough we tried early so now we’ve got a batch in the freezer as well (woot). Honestly, I don’t have much to say about this one because, other than roasting the squash, this one seems like a pretty standard pizza – dough, mozzarella, and toppings. Okay, kale and roasted butternut squash probably aren’t your standard pizza toppings. Or olive oil and salt instead of a red sauce. Aaaaaand I did skip the bacon – intended to grill some chicken, slice it up and stick it on top. But… I forgot, so we just forged ahead without. Okay, not so standard I guess, but it did still feel like I learned the foundational skeleton of a pizza recipe from this. Might be that it’s the third pizza recipe I’ve tried within the last 3 1/2 months.

Adam did turn to me after one bite with a ‘We’re keeping this one!’ So that was nice.

Kale and Butternut Squash Topped Pizza

Original from TheKitchn
Makes one 8-10″ pizza (depends on how well you roll out the dough)
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 11 recipes; Pizza: None! Hurray, we’re done!

  • 1 butternut squash, small – 1.5 lb or less
  • 1 small bunch (or less) of kale of your favorite variety
  • 8 oz mozzarella (smoked if you can find it)
  • 1/2 lb pizza dough, store bought or homemade
  • olive oil & kosher salt
  1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Peel and dice the squash into small cubes, about 1/2 inch. Spread the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil. Roast until soft, about 30 minutes.
  2. Wash the kale and pat dry. Strip the leaves from the steams and tear into 1/2 inch pieces. Slice the mozzarella into thin rounds.
  3. Heat the oven to 500°F or as high as the oven will go – if you have a baking stone, place it in the lower half of the oven as it warms.
  4. Shape the dough into a 10″ round. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle the kosher salt over the dough. Lay the mozzarella rounds on the dough, arrange the roast squash on top, and scatter the kale over the top.
  5. Bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until kale is crispy and the dough a dark golden. Allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.
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In which the difference between Adam & my palette is made apparent

This is one of those dishes that will not be sticking around, not because it’s not good – in fact Adam says he rather likes this one, but because it doesn’t work for both of us. Turns out there isn’t enough textural differences within this bake for me to think I’m actually eating something. Also needed the hot sauce that was a) said to be optional (no… not really) and b) I forgot to add before baking. Adam definitely liked these ramkin sized bakes more after topping off with Sriracha. Probably would have also helped to trust the cooking length directions. What can I say, the egg didn’t looked cooked through until twice as long as called for. At which point, there were some hard-boiled like eggs on top.

Part of what made me feel this one took a while were the chickpeas. The original recipe calls for basically a can of (already prepared) chickpeas. But since Adam makes hummus, we don’t buy canned chickpeas. Yeah, he insists on buying dried chickpeas and soaking them the night before making hummus. All the hummus. mmmm, hummus. Any rate, there’s been another recipe calling for chickpeas so I’d prepared a batch for that recipe. … I don’t really work with chickpeas much and misjudged how much dried chickpeas I’d need. And thus ended up with 8 cups of cooked chickpeas. Yes, this is even more than Adam would use in one hummus making go. So! mentally I was adding in that time to the prep-time for this recipe. Or at least a portion of it. And that was not a terribly pleasant experience so I may have remembered more time than it actually took. ::shrug::  Any rate, be smart and use canned chickpeas if you make this one.

The other part of why this felt long was the first portion on the stove, followed by baking. It’s a thing from learning originally on stir-fry, I think. Mentally my brain goes ‘if I’m sautéing stuff on the stove, why aren’t I dumping everything else in (eventually) and finishing on the stove?’ Not a mental thing with baking… makes perfect sense to me to mix everything together and then put it in the oven. Must be categorizing the mixing parts as ‘prep work’…

End result, would I recommend this one to y’all? Only with certain caveats:
1) if you cannot smell (for any reason – a cold or allergies will do it), move along, this is not the recipe you are looking for
2) if you don’t like hot sauce, again not the recipe for you. the extra kick is needed to make the rest interesting (to us any rate)

Sausage, Chickpeas, Kale and Egg bake – Single Servings

Original from TheKitchn.com
Makes 8 seven ounce ramkin size servings
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 23; Dinners: 4 recipes left

  • 1 onion (variety to your taste), medium chop
  • 2 tbsp olive or other neutral oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 lb sausage (chicken was our choice), sliced
  • 1 bunch of kale (variety to your choice), stripped of the stalk and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 cups -OR- 2 cans cooked chickpeas
  • Hot sauce (variety to your choice)
  • 8 eggs
  • 8 seven ounce ramkins
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. In a medium frying pan, sauté the onion with a pinch of salt in the oil. Cook until the onion softens and begins to turn translucent. Add the sausage, break up into crumbles, and continue cooking until the sausage browns.
  3. Add the kale to the frying pan. If the kale is a bit wet from washing, continue on; if not, add a splash of water to the pan to steam the kale. Cook until kale is wilted. Add the chickpeas and stir gently to distribute but not mash them.Taste for salt.
  4. Distribute the mixture between the ramkins and top with some hot sauce. Make a well in the mixture, crack an egg into a small bowl, then slide the egg into the well. Sprinkle with salt, preferably finishing salt and set on a baking sheet (for ease of getting all the ramkins in and out of the oven). Repeat with remaining ramkins. Slide sheet into the oven and bake for 7 minutes, or until the whites are set but the yolk still looks runny. Enjoy.

Note: you can use a toaster oven instead of a full-sized oven if you like.

All the weekend work for food ready for travel

These pockets too had all the moving parts. The difference here is that the end results are worth it (it may have something to do with doing this over the weekend, rather than a weeknight). I rather like making dough and this dough was just a pleasure to work with – neither too sticky nor too dry, easy to roll out into (almost) the shape I wanted, easy to handle, and cooked great. Both Adam and I liked the combination of mashed sweet potatoes, kale, and lentils. Which is good, for the purposes of expanding our food repertoire, lentils being new to us 🙂

And who doesn’t like caramelized onions? I seriously need to try out the caramelizing onions in a slow cooker thing though. Wha. Tasty tasty onions – take forever though. Well, it feels like forever while standing up.

Adam and I have been using these as dinners on the evenings we have classes (Adam grad school, me I’m taking an intro class in ASL [American Sign Language] after work). The pockets work great being frozen and then slowly defrosting over the day in our bags. Hurrah for reusable sandwich bags for catching the defrosting ice/water.

Whole Wheat Lentil Pockets

Original from TheKitchn.com
Makes 6 pockets
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 25; Lunches: 2 recipes left

Dough

  • 1 cup warm (neither hot nor boiling) water
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Filling

  • 3 small to medium sized sweet potatoes (not yams. As Adam would say “They’re entirely different SPECIES!”)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed & picked over (also known as French green lentils and Puy lentils)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, ribs and tough stems removed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Combine the water and yeast (I use the measuring cup for the water); let sit until yeast dissolves.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the whole wheat and all-purpose flour, plus the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer; mix on low speed with a dough hook. Add the olive oil and dissolved yeast; mix on low until a shaggy dough forms. Pull the dough out and knead on a clean board until the dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly grease the bowl with a little olive oil, butter, or spray; return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in volume, about 1-2 hours.
  3. When the dough is set aside to rise, start preheating the oven to 400°F. Prick the sweet potatoes several times with a fork or other pointy object. Place on a baking sheet or wrap in aluminum foil and place directly on the oven rack. Bake until very soft to the touch, about 45 minutes to an hour. Set aside to cool.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes are in the oven, cut the onion in half. Thinly slice one half and set aside; dice the other half. Warm about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; sauté the diced onion and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the cumin, cinnamon, and allspice; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the lentils and water to the saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. While the lentils are simmering, cut the kale into bite-sized pieces. Add the kale and salt to the lentils then cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes more – the lentils should be soft but not mushy. Taste and adjust seasonings here. Transfer the kale and lentils mixture to a bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving most of the cooking liquid in the pot.
  6. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. The thinner the slice, the sooner this will happen – thin enough and you might even hit the original recipe’s 20-25 minute estimate.
  7. Once the sweet potatoes are out of the oven, increase the heat to 450°F. Divide the dough into 6 balls and let rest, loosely covered (with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel), for 20 minutes. While the dough is resting, peel the sweet potatoes and mash in a bowl until smooth. Add a sprinkle of salt if necessary. If the potatoes are a bit underdone, cutting them into 1 inch chunks will make the mashing go faster.
  8. On a floured board, roll a ball of dough into an 8 or 9 inch circle. Spread 1/6 of the sweet potato mash (~1/4 cup) over one half of the dough, leaving a boarder around the edges – this is where the dough will seal together. Add 1/6 of the lentil mixture (~1/3 cup) over the sweet potatoes, and top with some of the caramelized onions. Fold the unused half of the dough over the filling, then pinch and fold the edges to seal the pocket shut. Transfer to a greased or parchment papered baking sheet, brush the top with olive oil, and cut 2-3 small slits in the top for steam to escape. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes (or until browned). If serving now, let cool for at least 5 minutes before hand. Otherwise, let cool on the baking sheet and then transfer the entire baking sheet to the freezer. Once completely frozen, wrap each pocket individually and store in a freezer safe container. To eat, thaw and reheat in a microwave (or oven), or eat at room temperature.

Whole Wheat Lentil Pockets

The first ‘recipe’ I might actually memorize

And by recipe, I really mean that they’re more like … guidelines than actual rules.

This is what makes me think I can actually eventually learn to bake by ratio and weight, rather than volume measurements. Not that baking has anything to do with this dinner. It just that baking is the other place in cooking where a skeleton structure of a recipe makes sense to me.

Also a one pot + strainer recipe, who doesn’t love fewer dishes to clean? Plus, can be seasonal (and thus cheaper) by only using the ‘greens’ in season – makes me happy. Can be kosher and/or vegetarian (depending on the sausage you get). Not gluten-free though. Unless there’s a gluten-free pasta out there that tastes okay? I know not. But yeah, this one should be very versatile.

Definitely going into the binder.

Pasta with Sausage and Greens

Original from TheKitchn.com (yes, most of my recipes come through there – what can I say, it’s my cooking portal)
Serves 4-6
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 27; Dinners: 7 recipes left

  • 1 lb your favorite variety of pasta
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 lb of your favorite variety of sausage, crumbled
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced OR garlic cloves to taste 🙂
  • As many handfuls of seasonal greens as you want/fit in your pot
    • I have used mustard greens in this recipe
    • Also suggest spinach, baby spinach, arugula, kale
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and leave in the colander.
  2. Heat some olive oil in the pasta pot. Add the sausage and garlic; cook over medium heat until sausage is cooked through.
  3. Add the greens on top of the sausage and cook until they begin to wilt. Add the drained pasta and Parmesan cheese to the pot and stir until everything is combined and the cheese is gooey, about 2 minutes.
  4. Serve with extra Parmesan, to taste.

That’s it! So simple.

Improvising for McCormick – Mushrooms, Ginger, Chicken Broth, and Kale

Adam here. I’ll be your writer for this Christmas week. Happy Holidays to you and yours, dear readers!

So, back in the middle of November, Laura pointed out McCormick, the spices company, was tossing out challenges (Go 4 Gourmet Challenge if you’d like to know) along the lines of “here are 4 ingredients including one of our products – go forth and make a meal with them.” The specific challenge Laura pointed to and said “let’s do that” was Mushrooms, Ginger, Chicken Broth, and Kale. Being the improviser around here I thought it would be cool to whip something up and toss it into the proverbial ring.

To that end, I decided to stuff some mushrooms. That’s because Stuffed Mushrooms are one of life’s pleasures and, when right out of the oven hot, they make a great appetizer.

One last thing before I get to the ‘recipe,’ do not rest these before you serve them. Seriously, these have to be served immediately because as they cool the mushrooms get soggy. And no one wants a soggy mushroom.

One other last thing – we had quite a bit of left over kale and crab goodness. So I cracked a few eggs and turned it into quiche. It was yummy.

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Kale and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 24 white mushrooms, with 2 inch caps
  • olive oil
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 oz finely minced ginger
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 3 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 5 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¾ cup crabmeat
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Pull off the stems from the mushrooms and lightly rub each cap with a small amount of olive oil. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the kosher salt and diced tomato. Transfer tomato to a colander and leave it to drain in the sink, for approximately 30 minutes.
  3. In a saucepan, simmer the tomato and ginger in the vegetable broth, until infused; approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Add chopped kale, basil, and flour to the saucepan; season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well and simmer until reduced in size, about 15 minutes. With an immersion blender, purée. Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced by a third. Remove saucepan from heat.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Add the crabmeat to the kale mixture and stir until blended. Add the breadcrumbs to the crab-kale mixture. Stir until incorporated.
  7. Spoon about 1 tsp of crab-kale mixture into each mushroom cap; top with a sprinkling of cheese. Season to taste.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet. Serve immediately.

A Friday Fall Feast – in which we Feastly again

Ze Menu:
Shredded Slow-cooked Savory Brisket Sandwiches
Moroccan Raw Carrot Salad
Roasted Potatoes & Kale
Whole-Wheat Dinner Rolls
and
Mini Baked Apple Fritters

Our Guests: a couple originally from Mumbai, India (NOT vegetarians – I had a moment of panic when they first arrived of the ‘oh no am I about to try and serve beef to Hindus?’ variety – probably presumptuous and stereotypical of me, given that they had to have seen the menu before signing up, but I can only liken it to suddenly realizing that your guests are from Israel and the main dish is pork chops. The odds are good that you have just royally screwed up.)
I am really digging this whole dinner with people I’ve never met before. I have no idea how else I would have met this couple otherwise and they were really good dinner companions – talkative and good listeners, interested in food so we had something in common and it got the conversation started, different life experiences so we got to talk about things which were new to both sets of couples, and just generally a fun evening.

Also, having to pull together a menu and pitch it to the Feastly community is good-for-me(TM). It’s pushing me to consider (more) how dishes go together – more than ‘have a protein, carbs, and at least 2 servings of vegetables’ which is where I’ve been stuck skill-wise for a couple years. In my defense (excuse!), I’ve been concentrating on knife and technique skills. But really now, this is a useful food skill and I am glad to be finally developing it. (There, I said it, stop twisting my arm now! ::poke, poke::) Learning to pitch things is also good for me in the ‘stretch beyond your comfortable skills little introvert!’ kind of way… but seriously, if anyone ever calls me a ‘little introvert’ with a straight face, there will be pain in their future. I’M the only one who gets to mock my lack of social acumen. Well, occasionally Adam too.


Plus, excuse to try out a new dessert recipe – it’s an event, dessert is totally justified and we don’t end up munching on way too many sweet things for the next 3 weeks.

Mini Baked Apple Fritters

Recipe Count – 40 left
Section Count – Dessert: 10 left
9 fritters

MEH. So much meh. They weren’t bad, they just weren’t… anything. No wow, no interesting texture, no interesting sweet, or spices, or tastiness. They were entirely composed of food. And my dessert binder is full of dessert recipes that are composed of tasty goodness that are entirely worth the a) effort and b) nutritional downsides of the occasional food indulgence composed of all the sugar and butter.

This recipe has earned a trip to the recycling bin, not a place in my binder of sweets.

Which means I am totally not inflicting it upon y’all, who deserve good sweets in your lives. Tasty goodness in recipe form to follow below, of something actually worth your time.

So, the original plan was that I would make the dinner rolls and they’d be the bread to our sandwiches… Yeah, I’m still getting the hang of using whole-wheat pastry flour in place of all-purpose flour. The rolls were tasty, but not fluffy/big enough to be sandwich rolls. Luckily there’s a Harris Teeter close enough that wonderful husband Adam could run out and grab some sandwich rolls from their bakery. Also, all-purpose flour. Somethings are just better that way (like pie crust). Also, I’d made the rolls by 4pm. So, you know, enough time to fix things.

The carrot salad is a cold one, and thus could be made early that morning, hanging out in the refrigerator until dinner time. Also, totally not over-chilled by hanging out so long in the fridge, which was nice. Also nice? The cumin and cayenne spices – just enough kick to make it interesting without kicking you in the face as a greeting and a ‘pay attention to meeeeeeeee!’

Roasted potatoes and kale are quickly becoming my thing, so much so that I am consciously banning my self from using them for a third time in our next Feastly. By this point, I’ve actually made them three times – first was just before the break-in and thus, I lost my write up and pictures but taking the pictures was ticked off on my mental list and I have yet to take more photos. Which y’all totally deserve because this is a tasty recipe. Which Adam informs me that I ‘need to make again’. Every. Time. The man bans roasted carrots for about a year (and counting….) after one unfortunate week of trying out all of my roasted carrot recipes (3 or 4….) to cut them down to a reasonable amount, but still wants these? Timing is, apparently, everything.


Roasted Potatoes and Kale

Adapted (minorly) from What’s Cookin, Chicago?

  • 1 lb potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
    • different varieties will give this recipe slightly different textures/tastes – experiment and find your favorite is my best advice
  • 1/2 lb fresh kale, rinsed, stems/tough ribs discarded, and roughly chopped
  • cloves of garlic, minced
    • pick a number of cloves to your taste
    • Adam and I have been influenced enough by several friends of Italian cooking traditions that the answer to ‘how much garlic?’ is usually ‘Yes’
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • salt & pepper, to taste
    • pepper is best as freshly cracked/ground from peppercorns
    • if using peppercorns, pick your favorite type/color. or mix it up and try out different types for slightly different tastes each time
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, non-stick cooking spray, or your favorite food don’t stick here method.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the chopped potatoes with 1 tbsp of oil, the minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Transfer potatoes to the baking sheet; bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  3. In the same bowl, toss the chopped kale with 1 tbsp of oil, salt, and pepper, to taste. After potatoes have roasted, add the kale on top – do not worry if it looks like a huge mound on top of the potatoes. The kale will shrink/flatten out as it crisps. Just mound it in such a manner as it will not fall off the baking sheet. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes, or until kale is crisp.
  4. Serve hot or at room temperature, but not cold.

Check back in next Tuesday for my write up of the Shredded Slow-cooked Savory Brisket Sandwiches