Fast Personal Pizza

Maybe it’s because I’m gearing up for a lot more work travel over the next few months and summer is just around the corner and we haven’t figured out which summer camps Evan will be doing…regardless of the reason, it seems we’re in fast forward! Fast forward often requires fast food….but only in the figurative sense. We don’t eat a lot of Fast Food in our family…(though it seems like road trips and McDonald’s go hand in hand and I have no problem with that!)

But make-your-own pizza…that can be really fast and still great. We often get ready-made pizza dough from Trader Joe’s but that still requires rolling it out etc. The BEST super fast mini-pizza vehicle I’ve found, thanks to my mom who tuned me onto it, is Greek style pita. There is no pocket, it’s designed for wrapping around souvlaki or tearing up and dipping in hummus or tzatziki (hmmm…I sense a future post).

However, it also makes terrific pizza crust. Spread your favourite jarred sauce and favourite toppings on the bumpy side. Put it straight on the oven rack flat side down and it gets nice and crisp. About 8-12 minutes on 375° depending on your oven and when you consider your pizza ‘done’. Then, if you’re me, try to get it on the table without a “Mommy, can you finish taking pictures so I can eat it now?”

Hmmm....seems this lunch was particularly orange!

Appies for Dinner

I’m truly shocked that I actually cooked, got dinner on the table while still hot (in spite of the photos along the way and after), uploaded said photos, and wrote a post all in one evening! Although, this is actually an exercise in positive thinking because I haven’t finished anything yet…this is only my first paragraph. We’ll see how it goes. Come to think of it, you won’t know either way because if I don’t finish it, I can always edit. Mwaa ha ha ha (evil laugh). (Is it lame that I told you that was an evil laugh?)

I suppose I’m on a roll because this dinner required quite a bit of rushing around to get it all done at the same time (the perils of making different versions of the same dinner) so I guess I’m on an energy high at the moment. Which is why I’m ignoring my child enjoying my hobby right now rather than Harry Potter-ing myself into a post-reading stupor after which I can barely mutter good night to him before flopping sideways on the couch and reaching for the remote. It’s good to still be vertical.

So. Back to dinner. Evan’s been asking for ‘hot wings’ lately because of something he saw on Phineas and Ferb. He didn’t really know what ‘hot wings’ were, but he wanted to eat them nonetheless. Who am I to argue with that? It’s a new version of chicken for him (which totally counts as a new food if you’re in our picky-eater world). So we talked about it and I suggested that I make some ‘not-hot wings’, that were sweet, tangy and sticky! He was all for it…as long as they looked like little drumsticks. (I guess cartoon chicken wings only come in one shape).

Well wings are great for the omnivores in the family but our resident pescatarian would need something else for his protein. Tofu! I could certainly fry it until firm and crispy and then glaze with the same sauce as the wings. Brilliant. But what about veggies….well two desperate looking yams became oven-baked fries and a little of the wing/tofu glaze sauce mixed in with some (eggless)* mayo became the most amazing dip. Seriously. This post really should be all about the dip. Oh. My. God.

I probably should have put together a salad to add some green, but it was more than I could handle putting together when also trying to get photos. (Which sort of suck by the way….but I didn’t have time to take a gazillion pics, or stage the food with lovely napkins or rustic props. I’m also back to using my iPhone again because my brother had to go on a trip and needed his camera back. Once you fly business you can’t go back to coach…you just can’t. 😉  Well, it was fun! Guess I’ll have to bite the bullet and shell out for my own one of these days!).

HONEY GINGER GLAZED EVERYTHING:

Honey Ginger Marinade and Glaze

3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
3/4 cup honey
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1″ x 1/2″ piece of fresh ginger, grated

In a 2 cup measure, whisk soy sauce, honey and hoisin sauce together. Mince garlic and grate ginger into sauce and combine. I use a rasp to grate ginger and it makes it very fine, almost like a paste so it’s a bit hard to give you an exact measurement of the amount. But a piece of ginger about an inch long and 1/2 inch diameter should do it. Makes about 1 cup of marinade. Scale up as needed.

Honey Ginger Chicken Wings

6-10 chicken wings, separated at joints, wing tips discarded.

Preheat oven to 375°
Prepare the wings and place in a ziploc bag or bowl. Pour about 1/3 of the above marinade over them so they’re well coated. The longer they marinate the better, but even if it’s just 20 minutes, that’s fine. It’s the weekend, so I prepped the chicken in the morning and they marinated all day.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (tip: sprinkle water on the baking sheet before you lay the parchment so it doesn’t slide around)
Arrange chicken wing pieces on the parchment.
Bake for about 20-25 min per side, pausing to brush more marinade on as they bake.

Yam Fries
Slice yams into thin wedges with skin on.
Spread on parchment lined baking sheet.
Brush or spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake at 375° for about 40-50 min

Honey Ginger Mayo
2/3 cup mayonaise
2 tbsp honey ginger marinade
Serve as a dip for roasted veggies, oven fries etc.

Honey Ginger Tofu Sticks
1/2 block of tofu, sliced into sticks
1/3 cup honey ginger marinade

On med-high heat, brown tofu in a bit of oil, turning on each side. When fully browned, but still in the pan, pour the marinade over the tofu (it should sizzle) and then turn off the heat. Fully coat tofu and serve.
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So how did it rate…? “Mommy this is the best chicken EVER!”
*Oh and a note about eggless mayonaise. We buy Vegenaise, manufactured by Earth Island. You can find out more here. It’s fabulous.

Butternut Squash Quesadilla

This squash is shocked that I would steal a little work time to play around with the camera.

It was a beautiful spring day (finally) and spending another minute in my windowless home-office surrounded by decidedly non-foodie and non-spring-y things wasn’t doing it for me. Heading upstairs and poking around, I found butternut squash, spinach and some tortillas that needed using up. Voilà, this quesadilla was born.

You can’t tell me that this squash isn’t a little reminiscent of Wallace….though it would be more so with some googly eyes.  (Check out this link for a LOL).

So this is the quick version of this quesadilla. I can already think of ways to improve it but I’ll leave that for another day. A speedier version can be had using leftover butternut squash, or bag-o-squash. I had to cook mine.

 

 

Butternut Squash Quesadilla

With apologies to those who like formal recipes, this was pretty free form. I cut my squash in half, scooped out the seeds, sprinkled with seasoned salt (see pic of my fave one below) and put it in the microwave for about 5 minutes on high. Then scooped out a couple of tablespoons worth and spread it on a tortilla. A squeeze of lime would probably be good, though I didn’t have a lime to do that.

Add some spinach leaves, thinly sliced shallots, clumps of goat cheese, fold the tortilla and place it in a non-stick skillet on med heat.  Flip when it gets brown and toasty.  Cut into sections, drizzle with crema. Enjoy!

Buttermilk Crema

1/2 cup sour cream
buttermilk
salt and pepper

In a measuring cup whisk together sour cream with enough buttermilk to thin it to a pouring consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This is my favourite seasoned salt. I use it for everything. Roasting vegetables, potatoes, seasoning a roast or chicken….I found it in the salt section of my grocery store. You can find it on Amazon too. It’s worth the splurge.

Salted Chocolate Matzah Crack

Ok so this is crazy good and oh so addictive. Plus it’s super easy to make…the hardest part is waiting for the chocolate to completely cool so you can snap and crack it into pieces. Wish I could take credit for the name and the recipe but I took it from Dinner with Julie last year and made it for book club. It was an instant hit and made me realize that I cannot make this unless I’m about to share it with several people because I don’t even want to think about what would happen if it were just me and the Crack. Ok, so I have thought about it…a lot! It’s so hard to just sit here on the couch and write about it and not get up and make a batch!

Place the matzah in a parchment and foil-lined cookie sheet with sides, pour melted caramel over it, spread it, then bake it until golden.

Then scatter chocolate chips all over the matzah and let the heat from the caramel melt the chips until you can spread them.

Sprinkle some course salt and then let it cool completely. Break into pieces. Then I dare you not to eat it all! We packed ours up and most of it made it over to our friends’ house.

Salted Chocolate Matzah Crack
adapted, barely, from Dinner with Julie

The proportions are 1:1 so really you could easily make as large or small a batch as you like.

4-6 sheets matzah (or any other thin crisp flatbread, really)
1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips (or more…)
coarse salt

Preheat oven to 375°.  Line an edged baking sheet with tin foil and then parchment paper. Place matzah on the sheet, breaking some to fit.

Make caramel by melting the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan, then bring to a boil for 3 minutes stirring constantly. It will get all bubbly.

Pour the caramel over the matzah and spread it with a heat-resistant spatula. Bake for about 10 minutes, until caramel is golden. Then scatter chocolate chips over the caramel and let them melt with the existing heat. Spread melted chips with the spatula, sprinkle with coarse salt and let cool completely (putting it in the fridge helps if you’re impatient!)

Butter Beans with Leeks and Thyme

Evan will not eat this. Not one bite. But I guess I don’t really blame him, being 7 and all….the texture of beans is something that doesn’t come easy to many kids.  No matter, it was terrific for the adults and with the meal rounded out by a roast chicken (which he does eat), and some steamed broccoli (which he eats when he’s in a good mood, but only out of “just one bite” obligation), it all worked out in the end.

You can start with canned butter beans, but I much prefer starting with dried if the thought crosses my mind in enough time to make it happen. They hold their shape better and aren’t as mushy as canned beans can get. Soak them overnight in cold water or do a quick boil and then soak for 90 min or so. The bag of beans will have instructions. But seriously, you just throw the beans in a mixing bowl with cold water and leave it. The next morning just drain them and put them in the fridge until you’re ready to do more with them.

I sweated the leeks and a clove of garlic (kept whole) in a bit of butter and olive oil, until the leeks were soft, added the thyme, salt and pepper and a good glug of white wine. Then I tossed it all with the beans, some stock, a bit of heavy cream (just a bit) and popped it in the oven for about 40 min. Easy. All you need to do next is chill for a while until its time to cut up the already roasted chicken you got at the grocery store (brilliant invention). AND if you go with bag o’ broccoli, it only takes about 3 minutes to steam it.

I totally forgot to take photos of the butter beans as they came out of the oven. But they looked pretty similar, just deeper in colour and creamier.

Butter Beans with Leeks and Thyme

2 cups dried butter beans (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
2 leeks, white and a bit of green only
2 tsp dried thyme
1/3 cup dry white wine
~1/2 cup broth/stock (if you’re using canned beans you may only need a bit to keep them moist in the oven)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp heavy cream (optional)

Slice/dice the leeks and toss in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil and a clove of garlic (whole). Stir fry about 3-5 min on med-high, then add thyme and stir around until fragrant. Add wine (pan should sizzle) and let it bubble for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, put the drained beans in a casserole dish, then pour the leeks over top. Combine well. Stir in stock and cream, cover and put in the oven at 375° for about 40 minutes.