Sunday, January 31, 2016

Crispy Tofu Sandwiches with Ginger Peanut Sauce


I've always had a love/hate relationship with tofu. It really needs to be prepared correctly or paired with a flavorful sauce or the resulting product will end up bland and unappetizing. I've made one or two tofu sandwiches before and really liked the idea of pairing the tofu with the ginger peanut sauce.

Recipe from Oh My Veggies.

Crispy Tofu
-1-14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, pressed for 30 minutes (you can use a tofu press)
-1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Ginger Peanut Sauce
-6 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
-2 tablespoon rice vinegar
-1 tablespoon soy sauce
-2 teaspoons light brown sugar 
-1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
-1 tablespoons water

-1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
-1 small sweet red pepper, sliced
-2 tablespoons minced chives
-4 naan 
-lime wedges (optional)

For the Tofu:
Cut tofu crosswise into 8 slices; cut each slice into two triangles. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high eat. Carefully place tofu in skillet and cook about 5 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy. Transfer tofu to plate lined with paper towels to absorb any extra oil.

For the Ginger Peanut Sauce:
Whisk together all ingredients. Add additional water, one tablespoon at a time, to thin sauce if necessary.

Now Build Your Sandwiches:
Heat naan according to package instructions. Top each with 4 pieces of tofu, shredded carrot, red pepper, chives, and peanut sauce and fold. 

We both liked this recipe. The sauce was incredibly flavorful and everything paired together nicely. Now that we moved, I can easily buy naan at the grocery store (for the first time), but if you are unable to find naan, you can substitute sandwich wraps or tortillas.  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Crock Pot Mexican Quinoa Tacos

This recipe is perfect to make on a weekend or a weekday. It's easy to prepare and makes many servings, so you'll easily have leftovers to enjoy later. Some crock pot recipes are labor intensive, but this one doesn't require any additional steps other than putting all of the ingredients in the crock pot at one time.

Recipe from Chelsea's Messy Apron

-1 cup quinoa
-1 cup vegetable broth
-2 cans (15 ounces each) reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed
-1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in tomato juice
-1 can (10 ounces) enchilada sauce
-1 can (15 ounces) corn
-1 packet taco seasoning
-Corn tortillas
-Optional: cheese, diced avocado, fresh lime

Combine the quinoa, vegetable broth, rinsed black beans, diced tomatoes (in their juice), enchilada sauce, corn, and taco seasoning in a large crock pot. Cook on high for 2 1/2-4 hours. The cook time will depend on your individual crock pot, I ran errands while mine cooked which resulted in it cooking for about 3 1/2 hours.

Once the quinoa mixture is cooked (but not mushy) spoon it onto tortillas and top with the desired toppings. 

This recipe made for a nice taco filling, but it was also good spooned over a bed of greens to make a taco quinoa salad or even just on it's own as a quick lunch. Dave always enjoys adding a little bit of lime juice to recipes like this to help enhance the flavor, so if you'd like to add another layer of flavor, a squeeze of lime is an easy way to accomplish that. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Winter Chopped Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Blood oranges are my current obsession. This salad uses them in two ways -- as a salad component and in the vinaigrette. Happy Friday!!

Recipe from How Sweet Eats

roasted sweet potato
-1 large sweet potato, cubed
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 tablespoon maple syrup
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

-6 cups romaine leaves, chopped
-2 blood oranges, segmented and chopped
-1/4 cup pomegranate arils
-4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

blood orange vinaigrette
-1/3 cup blood orange juice
-1/4 cup golden balsamic vinegar
-1 garlic clove, freshly grated or pressed
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-1/3 cup olive oil

First, prepare the sweet potato for baking. Toss the sweet potato cubes with the olive oil and maple syrup. In a small bowl, sift together the salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika, then toss the sweet potatoes with it. Lay the sweet potato cubes out on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, flip and roast for 10 to 15 minutes more. 

While the sweet potato is roasting, add  the chopped romaine to a large bowl and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Toss the greens with the oranges, arils and goat cheese. Add the sweet potato cubes once they come out of the oven. 

To make the vinaigrette, combine the blood orange juice, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk together. Stream in the olive oil while constantly whisking until the dressing comes together. Add as much dressing as desired to the salad and enjoy! 

This salad was wonderful as a light lunch and the leftovers seemed to hold up in the fridge pretty well. The spices on the sweet potato complemented the tangy blood orange nicely and the tartness of the pomegranate arils held up nicely against the mild goat cheese. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Blood Orange Bars with a Brown Butter Crust

I don't like to advertise my cooking failures, the original post of this recipe contains blood orange bars that are such a beautiful color...but for some reason mine turned out looking sad and not like the vibrant bars I was expecting. I'm not sure if I cooked them for too long or incorporated something incorrectly, but we served the finished product to our friends and everyone really liked the taste, so I decided to share the recipe anyway.

Recipe from the White on Rice Couple.

Crust Ingredients
-1/4 pound unsalted butter
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 1/2 cups flour
-1/4 teaspoon salt

Blood Orange Curd Ingredients - makes 3 cups
-1/8 cup cornstarch
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Kosher Salt
-6 eggs, beaten
-2 egg yolks, beaten
-zest of 6 blood oranges
-1 1/4 cups blood orange juice
-1/4 pound  cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces

First make the crust by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking the butter until it develops an amber color. Remove from heat and stir sugar into butter until mostly dissolved.  In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt, then stir in butter and sugar and mix until the ingredients are incorporated and have formed a crumbly dough. Press the crust into a 8x8 pan, pressing a little bit of the dough up the sides to form a "rim" on the crust. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

While the crust bakes, make the curd by whisking together the cornstarch, sugar and the salt in a bowl. Mix in the eggs, zest, and juice. Place bowl over a pot with gently boiling water (cook over a double boiler). Cook the curd in the bowl over the double boiler, stirring frequently until the curd has thickened. Remove from heat and then, stir in the butter a few pieces at a time, until it is completely incorporated into the mixture.

Once the crust has finished baking, our the curd into the cooked crust. Then return the crust/curd oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the filling has thickened. Place in the fridge to chill overnight.

I love using blood oranges due to their pretty and vibrant color, so I was disappointed when this didn't turn out as anticipated, but the filling in the blood orange bars was full of flavor and the nutty taste of the brown butter crust complemented the tangy-sweetness nicely. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Soba Noodle Soup with Mushrooms and Kale

In the heart of winter, stave off the chilly temperatures and head indoors with this filling and delicious soup. The mushrooms and soy predominate, complemented by hints of ginger, garlic and chili.

Recipe from the kitchn.

-4 ounces sliced mushrooms
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-dash ginger
-2 teaspoons minced garlic
-2 teaspoons sriracha
-3 tablespoons soy sauce
-4 cups vegetable broth
-7 ounces soba noodles
-bunch kale
-splash rice vinegar
-sesame seeds

Soften the mushrooms by cooking in the bottom of a pot over medium-high heat with olive oil. Add the ginger, garlic and sriracha, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes, then do the same with the soy sauce.

Pour broth into pot and bring to a boil. Maintain at a simmer and add the chopped kale. Add the noodles, stir and let cook for a few minutes. Pour the splash of rice vinegar into the soup to enhance the flavor profile a little bit. It is ready to serve, topped with sesame seeds.

Alecia and I both liked the soup, and when I brought the leftovers to work, people were interested to know more about it. It captures many flavors and textures, and the tasty broth brings the warmth we so need to get through to spring.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Harissa, Smashed Avocado + Egg Toast with Goat Cheese and Honey Drizzle

We recently moved to a new apartment, which meant that we needed to find a new grocery store. Although I wasn't jazzed about needing to navigate somewhere new, but when Dave took me to see our local grocery store, I became a kid in a candy store. We now go to one of the fanciest grocery stores that I have ever seen -- it has almost any ingredient that you could want, an amazing amount of cool produce, and several made-to-order food stations.

The result of our first grocery store venture was some delicious made-to-order food and a cart full of cool ingredients. We also managed to get most of the items that we went to the store to purchase...also an accomplishment. I'm looking forward to using more interesting ingredients in the future!

I've seen harissa paste used by many bloggers, but have never seen it in my grocery store. This time I had three types of harissa to choose from, neither of us had tried it before, so we stuck with the mild (rather than hot) just to get a feel for how spicy it was.

Recipe slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest.

-2 slices whole grain bread, toasted
-1 tablespoon Harissa 
-1 avocado pitted + peeled
-pinch of salt and pepper
-2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled 
-1 teaspoon honey
-1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
-1-2 eggs, poached

Add the avocado to a small bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper and lightly mash using a fork.

Place the toast on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread  a little bit of Harissa on both pieces -- we actually found the mild to have right amount of spice, it wasn't overwhelming. Once you have a nice amount of Harissa spread onto the toast, add the mashed avocado over the Harissa. Top with a good sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese.

Next poach (or fry) your eggs. Once the eggs are almost finished poaching, place the toast under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the goat cheese and avocado are warmed through. Once the toast is warm, remove it from the over, drizzle with a little honey, and top each toast with a poached egg. Season with salt and pepper.

This turned out to be a nice light dinner for a chilly evening. The mild harissa paste had a little bit of heat to it, but I wouldn't call it spicy -- Dave and I both like spice, so I think that we can upgrade to the spicy jar next time. The mildness of the avocado paired nicely with the goat cheese and harissa without being overwhelmed by their more bold flavors. The honey added a nice hint of sweetness. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles + Cashew Sauce

A warm, hearty meal for winter, supported by wholesome, starchy yams and elevated by the creamy, delicious and simple cashew sauce.

Recipe from pinch of yum.

-1 cup cashews
-2 cups water
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
-4 small yams
-5 ounces spinach
-1/4 teaspoon basil
-salt and pepper
-optional black sesame seeds (garnish)

Soak the cashews in 1 1/4 cups water for two hours or more, drain and rinse. Blend cashews, remaining 3/4 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and garlic. The sauce appears thin at first, as the cashews blend more and more, it will thicken to a better consistency.

Spiral-cut the yams and begin to cook in a large skillet with olive oil. Stir and cook for five minutes, then cover and continue to cook until yam noodles are al dente. Add the spinach, basil, and salt and pepper, re-cover for a couple minutes so that the spinach can wilt, then stir and plate. Top with cashew sauce and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.

A very healthy vegetable dish with lots of vitamins; at the same time brings a few atypical elements that make it an interesting eating experience. I added a touch too much salt to my cashew sauce, but added less salt to the yams and didn't notice an issue. I was pleasantly surprised when my water and cashews, which seemed too thin to pour over anything, thickened up into a nice sauce with a good coating quality.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Baked Jalapeno Popper Bites

We're back to the winter weather questionably lit photos. I've never had good luck taking food photos once the sun sets, so pardon the slightly dark images. This recipe makes 45 baked jalapeno popper bites, we served this at a recent party and they were incredibly popular.

Recipe slightly adapted from Peas and Crayons.

-45 frozen phyllo shells [3 packages]
-6 ounces plain greek yogurt
-4 oz neufchatel cheese, softened
-1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
-1 cup sharp cheddar
-⅓ cup chopped pickled jalapeños
-¼ tsp garlic powder

Lay out your frozen phyllo shells on a large baking sheet. Then combine the Greek yogurt and softened neufchatel cheese in a medium bowl. Next add in the grated pepper jack, sharp cheddar, pickled jalapenos, and garlic powder. Fill each phyllo shell with the cheese mixture, I used a teaspoon measuring spoon to accomplish this, each cup will fit a little over a teaspoon of filling.

Bake the phyllo shells at 350 for 13 minutes and then serve. 

These little phyllo poppers were pretty addictive, Dave was skeptical about making 45 of them, but in less than an hour they were all gone. They got rave reviews from all of our friends and it's certainly something that I will be making again, it was so easy to throw together right before everyone got to our place. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Zucchini Noodles

We love experimenting with the vegetable spiralizer, but I think that zucchini noodles might be our favorite thing to make. Zucchinis take very well to being spiralized and the noodle (or zoodle, if you will) that results has a similar texture to al dente pasta.

Recipe adapted from GI 365.


-12 ounce jar roasted red peppers
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-2 ounces of soft goat cheese
-1 cup alfredo sauce (homemade or jarred)
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1 small onion, minced 
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-4 zucchini, spiralized

Combine the jarred roasted peppers, one tablespoon of olive oil and two ounces of goat cheese into a bowl. Use the immersion blender to process until smooth, then stir in the alfredo sauce. 

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Ad the onion and garlic, saute until the onion is softened. Then add the zucchini noodles to the skillet and saute until the noodles begin to soften, you'll want them to still be al dente. Add in the sauce and cook until the sauce is heated through.

Serve with additional goat cheese if desired.


I added the alfredo sauce, because I had some sauce leftover in my fridge from another recipe and because my zucchinis were a little on the large side and the roasted red pepper sauce didn't seem like it would be enough to cover them sufficiently. You can omit the alfredo sauce if you'd like or if you want to skip over the red pepper sauce entirely and just douse your zoodles in alfredo sauce, that would be okay too. I enjoy lowering the carb amount in our dinners every once in a while and zucchini noodles are a great way to get a few servings of vegetables. Dave went back for second helpings and we didn't even have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower Chickpea + Quinoa Salad with Jalapeno Lime Dressing

This recipe is a nice light lunch or dinner that would pair nicely with a big salad, a bowl of soup, or some warm bread.

Recipe from My Darling Lemon Thyme.

-1 medium cauliflower, cut into small florets
-the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
-fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
-extra virgin olive oil
-1 can of chickpeas, rinsed
-1 teaspoon fennel seeds 
-2 cups cooked quinoa
-1/4 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
-a handful spinach

jalapeno lime dressing
-1-2 pickled jalapenos, finely chopped
-the juice of 2 medium limes
-2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
-fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lay the cauliflower, chickpeas, and fennel seeds in a single layer on a large baking try. Top withthe lemon zest, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes.

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl, season well with salt and pepper and mix well. In a large bowl combine, cooked cauliflower, chickpeas, cooked quinoa, herbs and almonds, drizzle over dressing mix well and serve.

This recipe was really nice, all of the ingredients paired well together and the pickled jalapenos added the right amount of heat. I think I enjoy working with the pickled jalapenos a little more than the fresh, pickling seems to take the edge off while still leaving behind the right amount of spiciness. This made four good sized servings, but it's pretty light, so pair it with something else.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Drunk French Toast Sticks with Beer Blood Orange Syrup

I hear there's going to be a blizzard this weekend. This french toast breakfast is the perfect stuck-at-home breakfast, so add some beer and blood oranges to your shopping list while you're stocking up on bread and milk.

Recipe from The Beeroness

French Toast Sticks
-One loaf Italian bread, cut into thick slices
-1 ½ cup half & half
-1 cup brown ale
-2/3 cup brown sugar
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-4 eggs
-3 tbs unsalted butter

-1 blood orange, juice and zest
-1 cup white sugar
-1/2 cup beer
-1 tablespoon cornstarch
-pinch salt

In a large bowl whisk together the half & half, beer, brown sugar, salt, vanilla extract and eggs until well combined. Then melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dunk each bread stick into the mixture until well saturated, allow excess batter to drain off and then cook until golden brown on all sides.

In a pot over medium heat whisk together the sugar, beer, cornstarch, salt, orange juice and zest. Bring to a boil, boil for three minutes without stirring. Remove from heat, allow to cool which will help it thicken.

Serve the french toast sticks with the beer blood orange syrup. 

I'm not a beer lover, but I think that it helped make the flavors in this recipe more complex. IF you don't want to do french toast sticks, you can just leave the bread whole. The blood orange syrup is a nice mix of sweet and tangy, you could add some additional powdered sugar over the top if you're looking for a sweeter breakfast/brunch.

Stay warm out there and be safe if you have to travel! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Slow Cooker White Bean Soup

This soup utilizes readily available ingredients to create a large pot of flavorful soup. The weather has been biting lately, and a steaming bowl of this soup with a nice chunk of bread is helpful to cure the winter blues.

Recipe from Budget Bytes

Other Soup Wednesday Posts: Cauliflower + Hazelnut Soup with Fried SageUdon Soup with Poached Egg and Bok Choy;  Minestrone with GnocchiItalian Wedding Soup with Veggie Balls; Thai Peanut Soup; and Curried Cauliflower Soup.

-2 tablespoon olive oil
-4 cloves garlic
-1 medium yellow onions
-1/2 lb. carrots
-4 stalks (1/2 sleeve) celery
-1 lb. dry navy beans*
-1 whole bay leaf
-1 teaspoon dried rosemary
-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
-Freshly cracked pepper (15-20 cranks of a mill)
-11/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) salt

* An important note from the original poster... "Make sure to get navy beans, not cannellini beans, which are related to the kidney bean. Kidney beans and cannellini beans contain a high level of phytohemagglutinin, which is a strong, naturally occurring gastrointestinal toxin. The levels of this toxin can actually increase if the beans are not fully boiled for ten minutes. If you're unsure about your beans, boil the beans on the stove top for at least ten minutes before adding to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients."

Mince the garlic, dice the onion, slice the celery, and slice the carrots into thin rounds. Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, and carrots to a large slow cooker.

Sort through the beans to remove any that don't look good, then give them a quick rinse before adding them to the slow cooker with the bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, paprika, and some freshly cracked pepper.

Add SIX CUPS of water to the slow cooker and stir to combine the ingredients. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 8 hours on low or on high for 4-5 hours. Taste and adjust the amount of salt as desired.

This soup is simple to make, but the result is pretty flavorful. This is more of a hearty comfort meal than five star dining, but we were pretty pleased with how easy it was to make. I hate when slow cooker recipes have you saute ingredients before adding them to the slow cooker, it's best when everything just goes into the slow cooker at one time like in this recipe.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Warm Balsamic & Roasted Grape Cucumber Noodles with Roasted Tomatoes, Camembert and Pistachios

Taking inspiration from both salad and pasta, this medley of fresh ingredients and strong flavors brings the healthfulness of greens and veggies together with the composition of a pasta dish. The folds of the cucumber noodles pick up dressing and toppings so that each bite has a burst of sweet, or acidic, or nutty.

Recipe from Inspiralized.

-1 cucumber
-1 cup grapes
-5 cherry tomatoes
-2 ounces Camembert cheese
-1/4 cup pistachios
-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-pinch oregano

Coat the grapes lightly in oil or cooking spray, add a touch of salt and roast in the oven at 425 for 25 minutes. Halve the tomatoes, brush with oil, salt and add to the baking sheet after 15 minutes. Set aside.

Cut the cucumber into ribbon noodles and arrange for serving (spiralizer device used here). Thoroughly mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt, and a handful of roasted grapes, pressed to release juice into the vinaigrette.

Arrange grapes, tomatoes, pistachio, and Camembert atop bed of cucumber noodles, pour dressing over as desired.

This salad serves two. It is a great way to add freshness and flavor to lunch or dinner and easy to accomplish. Try with different cheese or nuts if you prefer.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Caesars Palace Pizza

Hello pizza lovers! I love creating new and unique recipes, as evidenced my love of ingenious grilled cheese month creations. Over at they are getting excited for an upcoming pizza event. The International Pizza Expo is being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in March. I love a good creative challenge, especially one involving cheese, and marrying together pizza and one of the many great Las Vegas hotels was a lot of fun.

I put together this pizza recipe inspired by Caesars Palace. Caesars Palace is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and was recently named one of the 14 Places in America You Have to Visit in 2016 by USA Today. When I visited England in 2012, I was delighted to order a pizza with arugula salad in the center. I took that "lighter pizza" idea and combined the classic Caesar salad with a modern vegetarian twist. Although Caesar Salad was not invented by the Roman Emperor himself, but rather an Italian immigrant, this pizza combines classic with modern like Caesars Palace itself.

This pizza includes four components: Black Pepper Pizza Dough, Parmesan Alfredo Sauce, Caesar Salad with Vegetarian Caesar Dressing and the Pizza Toppings.

A Vegetarian and Cooking original! (dough slightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse and dressing adapted from Vegetarian Food Lab).

Black Pepper Pizza Dough
-1 cup warm water
-1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
-1 teaspoon honey
-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

Parmesan Alfredo Sauce
-1/4 cup butter
-1 cup heavy cream
-1 clove garlic
-1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
-1/4 cup fresh parsley

Vegetarian Caesar Dressing
-1 cup Miracle Whip
-1/3 cup stone ground mustard
-¼ cup olive oil
-Juice of 1 lemon
-4 garlic cloves
-1 teaspoon salt
-3 teapoons ground black pepper
-1.5 oz. finely grated fresh parmigiano reggiano
-2 teaspoons soy sauce
-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
-2 teaspoons brown sugar

Pizza Toppings
-Romaine Lettuce, finely cut
-Zest of half a lemon
-Pinch of cornmeal
-10 Kalamata olives cut into fourths
-Several spoonfuls of capers
-6 or more slices of provolone cheese, thinly sliced

To Make the Black Pepper Pizza Dough:

The best way I've found to make sure that the water is warm enough for the yeast, but not hot enough to kill it, is to test it on the inside of your wrist like you would do with formula for a baby. Not too hot, not too cold. In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, honey, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, stirring to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.
Next you'll create the dough, by adding 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky -- you might not need all of the flour, I used an additional 1 1/4 cups of flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.
Coat the inside of a large mixing bowl with the remaining olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, free from drafts, I put mine in the oven (make sure it's not turned on), until the dough has doubled in size which will take about 1 1/2 hours.

To Make the Vegetarian Caesar Dressing:

Whisk all of the ingredients together until well combined.
To Make the Parmesan Alfredo Sauce:

When the pizza dough has doubled in size, prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted add cream and simmer for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly, heating through. Stir in parsley and remove from the heat. 

Before Baking the Pizza: 

You can use a pizza stone or pizza pan to bake this recipe (I used a pizza stone), spread a pinch of cornmeal onto the pizza stone and turn the dough out onto the pizza stone and press it out until it has formed a circle. Roll the edges to form a slight crust. Top the crust with alfredo sauce, you'll have about one cup of leftover sauce, save this for dipping the crust into or for a topping on leftover pasta later in the week. Next, sprinkle the alfredo sauce evenly with the provolone cheese, kalamata olive pieces, and capers. Bake the pizza at 450 F for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.

To Serve:
Use a small bowl to create a circular pattern in the center of your pizza, use a knife to carefully cut out this center circle. Fill the center of the pizza with the romaine lettuce and top the lettuce with the vegetarian Caesar dressing, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and lemon zest. If desired serve the extra dressing and/or alfredo sauce on the side for dipping. 

This was my first time making pizza dough and I was pleasantly surprised with how the crust turned out. The black pepper really helped to tie the entire recipe together. I used the capers and olives as toppings as a nod to anchovies which are used in most Caesar salad dressing, the briny quality of both helped to mimic the salty anchovies. The creamy Parmesan alfredo sauce helped to balance out those briny qualities and the crisp romaine lettuce added a nice textural difference with its fresh crunch. I enjoyed the vegetarian Caesar dressing a lot and thought it hit all of the right notes, Dave enjoyed using it as a dipping sauce for his crust. All of the pieces combined mimicked a Caesar salad, but in dare I say it, a better version that was oozing with alfredo sauce and melted provolone cheese.

The dressing and the alfredo do make more than is needed for the pizza, but those are both versatile sauces that can be reused throughout the week. This pizza didn't last the evening in our house, between us enjoying it as an early dinner and Dave taking down the leftovers before the end of the evening, I declare this a hit. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

See you January 18th

Vegetarian & Cooking is on a brief hiatus. My kitchen is currently in boxes and that makes it pretty hard to run a food blog. I will resume posting daily on January 18, 2016 when my kitchen is in one piece again and we have internet working at our new place.

See you on January 18th!



Monday, January 11, 2016

Blood Orange and Pomegranate Sparkling Sangria

Happy Monday!! January is finally upon us, we've been so lucky this winter having little to no snow. And sadly the weather tides have turned and I'm so not mentally ready for it. This sangria can add a little brightness to your snowy and sad Monday. 

Slightly adapted from Cookie + Kate

-3 medium to large blood oranges
-Arils (seeds) from 1 pomegranate
-¼ cup Triple Sec
-¼ cup simple syrup 
-1 bottle Prosecco

Juice two of the blood oranges and then slice the remaining blood orange into thin rounds. In a pitcher, combine the blood orange juice, blood orange slices, pomegranate arils and Triple Sec. Let the sangria sit in the fridge for an hour or so to help everything really blend together nicely.

When you're ready to serve, pour in the Prosecco. Taste and the simple syrup to taste -- I like sweet drinks, so I used all of mine, but you can tailor the drink however you'd like. 

A nice bright and sweet drink to get rid of the winter blues. Both blood oranges and pomegranates are in season right now, this can easily be adjusted based on whatever wine/liquor you have on hand. Cheers.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Salted Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies were made for a small get-together and were a smash hit. The recipe called for caramel chips but all I had were butterscotch. Salted butterscotch or caramel is a bit of a misnomer, it's the cookies that are salted. I'm just noting, though, not criticizing. The addition of a touch of salt on the top of each cookie invites attention to the tongue and the taste and actually helps you notice more how yummy the cookies are.

Recipe from Two Peas & their Pod.

-2 cups flour
-2 teaspoons cornstarch
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1 egg
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
-1/2 cup butterscotch chips

In a medium bowl stir flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. To a large bowl, add butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Beat to smooth consistency; if you make sure the butter is softened first, you will have an easier time of this. Put the egg and vanilla extract into the butter and sugar bowl and beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in small amounts and stir to incorporate. Fold in the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.

Drop cookie dough on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet in 1-2 tablespoon balls. Lightly sprinkle each cookie with additional salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, transfer to a cooling rack and repeat with the remaining dough.

A fairly easy application for a pretty outstanding result. At our get-together, these cookies were going toe-to-toe with Milano cookies that someone brought, and we all know how easy it is to polish off a package of Milanos. Try this recipe for your next special event or party, makes about 32 cookies.