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Feb 25 '13

Cauliflower Pizza

Go ahead, read it again. Yes, cauliflower pizza. It happened. And it was delicious. My husband was not thrilled with the idea but I had been wanting to try it and wasn’t about to make two dinners, so he opted to have a slice rather than go hungry. Now I can say this was really good, however, you cannot beat a delicious slice o’ pie on a freshly tossed and baked dough. When wanting to get in some extra veggies and cut back on carbs, it is a great little substitute!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust - Makes 3 pizzas, about 6 servings.

2/3 of a large head of cauliflower*

2 1/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese

2 eggs

1 T dried oregano

1 tsp granulated garlic

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

A few grinds of pepper

Toppings of your choice, see mine below!

*If you are thinking to yourself, what am I going to do with that extra cauliflower? Cut it into 1” florets and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes at 450 degrees, drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar and toss. Grate some parmesan on top, then bake another 3-5 minutes. yum!! Of course, I would make this on a night you are not also eating pizza made of cauliflower…to avoid overload.

Pizza Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove the stalk of the cauliflower and cut the rest into chunks, approximately 1” or so. In two batches, pulse them in a food processor until it’s about the texture of rice.

This will yield 3-4 cups. Place in microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 8 minutes. Stir and taste for texture; it should be soft but not mushy. Microwave for an additional minute or two if needed. You will need about 3 cups for this recipe and unless you had a freakishly large head of cauliflower, it should be about that!

Beat eggs together in a small bowl. When I made this, I used three eggs and in my opinion that was too much, so I changed it to two eggs as that is what I will use next time. As you will see in the photos, there was excess moisture that just couldn’t get incorporated and it started to burn when the crust was baked.

Add the cheese, egg, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper to the ‘riced’ cauliflower. Still well to combine. Since the cauliflower is warm, the cheese will begin to melt and get stringy. This is when you realize how a vegetable crust can be this delicious. 

Split the ‘dough’ into three portions and shape on your pans into a square, rectangle, circle, star… however festive you are feeling - just keep it around 8-9 inches to ensure a thick enough crust to stand up to the weight of the toppings. See the liquid around the edges? Too much egg. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove crusts then switch oven to broil.

Meanwhile, pre-cook any ingredient that you want to be soft as the pizzas will just be broiled once topped. For the one on the left, I sautéed sliced fully-cooked chicken sausage with onions and mushrooms. I layered pizza sauce, a little mozza, the sausage mixture, sun dried tomatoes, then a little more mozza and parmesan - that was on two of the crusts. The on one the right was my bacon ranch pizza. I layered ranch dressing, then a little cheddar, chopped cooked bacon, red onion, then a little gouda.

Place under broiler for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. We enjoyed the sausage as-is, but added chopped fresh tomatoes and cilantro to the bacon ranch. Seriously tasty.

All in all, a great recipe to try out if your family really likes pizza, but does not need to eat it and all the carbs and grease surrounding it, as often as you really want to! Work this into the weekly or monthly rotation, also great if you are trying to go gluten free! 

And let this be a reminder for you to try new things, even if it sounds a little strange, the results can be great!

Jan 27 '13

Chocolate Dipped Biscotti

I had you at ‘chocolate-dipped’, didn’t I? It takes a lot for me to not like something that is dipped in chocolate, especially dark chocolate. But these  little Italian lovlies made it easy! Although they take a little time and more steps than the average cookie, they are totally worth it in my opinion. The thing about this dough is that it is infinitely adaptable(provided you like almonds) so you could mix up a double batch, but then switch up the ingredients and end up with four different flavors! They are great on their own, or my favorite way, dipped in a strong cup of black coffee.

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Chocolate Dipped Biscotti (Adapted slightly from Rachael Ray Magazine)

2 c raw almonds

3/4 c plus 1T sugar

2 c flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

6oz dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds on a cookie sheet and toast in hot oven for 10 minutes; let cool. Look how much the color richened with the toasting!

Transfer 1/2 cup of cooled almonds, plus the 1 T sugar to the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the blade. Pulse until finely ground. I considered using my pre-ground almonds that I usually have in my freezer, but the toasting really makes a difference so I recommend sticking with this method.

To the ground almonds add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pulse to combine.

Add eggs to the bowl of an electric mixer.

Add the extracts and remaining 3/4 cup sugar to the eggs and beat on high until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Add the flour mixture; beat on low speed until just combined. Stir in the remaining toasted almonds.

Wipe down the cookie sheet used to toast the almonds and spray to coat. Transfer the dough the sheet in three equal sections.

Shape dough into three, 2 1/2 x 10 inch loaves; the dough will be a bit sticky so it helps to spray a bit of oil on your hands as well - smooth the tops. Bake until the edges and tops are golden, about 25-28 minutes.

Using two spatulas, transfer cookie loaves, one at a time, to a cutting board and slice crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces; be sure to use a very sharp knife so not to crush the cookie.

Lower the temperature to 325 degrees. Lay, cut side up, back on the baking sheet and repeat with remaining loaves. Bake until golden and crisp; 18-20 minutes. Note that the underside will have more color than the top side. Allow pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

Place a piece of parchment or waxed paper on your work surface. Bring one inch of water to simmer in a medium saucepan or bottom of a double boiler. Finely chop chocolate and transfer half to a heat proof bowl; I like to use a glass Pyrex one. Place bowl on top on the pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until melted. Sprinkle in the remaining chocolate and remove from heat. Stir until all chocolate is melted through.

Dip bottom(uncut) of cooled biscotti in melted chocolate, just to make a light coat. Using a offset spatula, smooth off any excess.

Place dipped biscotti, cut side down, on parchment.

As per request of my husband, I left some un-dipped because he is a crazy person and prefers them that way. Not to say that they aren’t totally delicious plain. (I may have done some taste-testing, standard procedure) Allow the deliciously-dipped ones to set for about 20 minutes. Then place them in an airtight container to store. 

Coffee anyone?

Jan 10 '13

New year, old favorite.

Man I miss this place. My blog, that is. For as much cooking as I did over the holidays, you would think I would have posted more. I did take some photos of my baking though, you can see them on my twitter/instagram: @katiethebaker if you so desire! Then of course that evil cold bug was waiting for us when we arrived home from holidays last week, and today, eight days later, I am just starting to like 80% of my normal self! I digress.

Okay, so this dish doesn’t exactly require a recipe, but it’s just one of my favorite go-tos on chilly nights. My mama and I used to eat these by the bowlful and they usually have a spot at the Thanksgiving table. It’s a weekend thing for me because it hangs out in the oven too long for an after-work meal. Roasted veggies. YUM. They are so much better that way in my opinion. They get crispy bits and caramelly bits when the natural sugars come out, the colors deepen and it’s just beautiful! Be prepared, however, to get beet blood all over your hands, cutting boards, and all the other pretty veggies. Cut them last. Beets like to mark their territory.

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Roasted Veggies

6 side-dish servings

2 medium sweet potatoes

3 medium carrots

2 small yellow onions

12 Brussels sprouts

4 small beets (or 2 regular ones, mine were small!)

5-6 whole cloves garlic, unpeeled

Olive Oil

2-3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary (or sprigs of your fave herb!)

Kosher Salt & pepper to taste

*Note that you can add turnips or parsnips or whatever you like, this is just the stuff I had when I made them. Plus my husband detests turnips so I didn’t get them. But did he even eat these - NOPE! Oh well, next time.

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Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel and dice potatoes, carrots, and beets to be about the same size to allow for even roasting, I like about 1”. Peel and halve the onions, then cut into ½” wedges.

Trim the Brussels sprouts and halve if large. Toss the veggies into a 9x13” pan as you go.

 

Add in as many garlic cloves as you like, the rosemary sprigs, drizzle with olive oil (Iused about ¼ cup), and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Toss everything together (note the beet blood coverage) and pop in the oven.

After about 30 minutes, give ‘em a good toss, then throw them back in for another 30 minutes or so, until the beets and potatoes are fork tender. Taste for seasoning and then eat! They’re great as a side to a roast, or to add some heartiness to a soup only meal.

Here are the before and after shots of my winter vegetable makeover:

Get ready to be addicted. Or not, if you don’t like them.

Dec 2 '12

A little piece of crunchy heaven.

That’s what these croutons are. A little piece of crunchy heaven. I have never made croutons before, mainly because I never thought to - they were always the annoying  part of my salad I didn’t eat. But these, my friends, these were more like an amped-up bread accompaniment to our dinner. The basis for this idea was knowing I had a bag of random chunks of bread in my freezer from a sad day when I picked up a loaf of ‘fresh bread’ at the market and only the inside was soft. The sad, hard chunks were calling out to me to be something more. And something more they became.

Garlic Parmesan Croutons

Hunks of sad bread, cut into your favorite crouton size (about 8oz)

1 T butter

1 T olive oil

1/4-1/2 tsp kosher salt (or to your liking)

Few good cranks of pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

Paprika

1/3 c finely grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a large sheet pan with parchment. In deep saucepan, heat oil and butter together over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, and garlic, stirring to combine. Add in the bread pieces and sprinkle with paprika to your liking. Toss to coat. Spread evenly onto prepared pan and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake about 8-10 minutes total, depending on the size of your bread, tossing once halfway through. Allow to cool completely. Can be stored in an airtight container for a decent amount of time, but we happily consumed ours within 24 hours.

Actually SO good. You need to make them and then eat them. Preferably tonight.

Oct 31 '12

I’ve gone a little nutty…

People who know me would say “yeah, what’s new?” to my title, but I am speaking in literal terms today folks. I was not getting the Fall weather that I was craving so I decided to fill my kitchen with Fall smells in order to encourage the weather. Yes, what comes out of my kitchen influences the temperature and color of the leaves. I made these two nut recipes within a week of each other - one because I wanted to make use of a tasty ingredient in my fridge and the other at the request of a co-worker for something savory instead of sweet!

We’ll begin with my maple-balsamic roasted pecans. I have this fabulous aged maple balsamic vinegar in my fridge that I bought from an olive oil and vinegar tasting room - so good! I have seen a few of these stores popping up so if you get a chance to, go in and taste away, there are all kinds of delicious combos to try! I brushed this same vinegar on bacon and baked it in the oven - divine. All the recipes out there for these nuts use maple syrup and balsamic but I already had that in a combo so here is how I did mine:

Maple Balsamic Roasted Pecans

1 cup pecan halves

1 T butter

2 T brown sugar

2 T maple balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt

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Cover a sheet pan with parchment. Toast pecans in a dry frying pan over medium heat until you can smell them - check right away because seconds later they could be burnt! Look at that gorgeous color change…

After you have removed the pecans, melt butter in same pan. Stir in brown sugar and vinegar and allow to bubble and thicken, about 3 minutes.

Stir in toasted pecans to coat thoroughly, cooking about 5 minutes more. Pour onto prepared pan and separate with two forks so the nuts don’t clump together while cooling. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

Once these little babies cooled, I used them to top off a salad of mesclun, heirloom tomatoes, shallots, peppers, carrots, crispy prosciutto, goat cheese, pomegranate seeds, and grilled chicken…with a tangy maple-balsamic dressing of course!

And for our second round of nuttiness….

Sweet & Savory Mixed Nuts Adapted from Taste of Home

1/2 tsp salt (plain table salt!)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp ancho chili powder

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

3 T unsalted butter

2 cups mixed nuts, unsalted

1/4 c brown sugar, lightly packed

1 T water

1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Couple dashes Tabasco

1 - 1 1/2 T minced fresh rosemary (to your liking!)

Kosher salt

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Pretty maids all in a row…

Cover a sheet pan with parchment and set aside. Melt butter in deep skillet over medium hight heat. Add nuts, stirring to coat, and cook until toasted, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, measure all your spices into a small bowl and stir to combine (don’t skip this step, it helps to evenly distribute flavors!)

Sprinkle spices over nuts and stir to coat evenly. Add in the sugar, water, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. Cook and stir until sugar melts and mixture is bubbly, about 2 minutes. 

Sprinkle with rosemary and stir to combine. Remove pan from heat and pour nut mixture onto prepared pan. Use your spoon to smooth into a single layer. Sprinkle with kosher salt and allow to cool.

Store the nuts in an airtight container or in a dish so you can sit and munch on them constantly. For a fun little treat for my co-worker, I filled a double layer of the parchment tulip muffin papers with the nuts, tied them up with bakers twine (couldn’t find my jute which is what I wanted to use, oh well) and then added a sprig of fresh rosemary because it was so pretty!

These are delicious, easy to make in small or large batches, and could be a quick snack or nice homemade gift for the upcoming holidays. Unless the recipient is allergic to nuts..then it would be just plain mean.          

Happy snacking everyone!!