Appetizer Idea: Thai Flatbread Pizza

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The egg-roll wrapper saga seemed like it would never end. I’d tried my hand at every wonton-wrapper-inspired idea I could imagine.photo (38)

And then one day I had lunch at a cool little cafe-bistro in Cedar Rapids, IA called Brewed Cafe. It was at this lunch meeting that I found myself torn between a vegetarian chili and a Thai flatbread pizza. Concerned that the flatbread might disappoint, I went chili. Curious still the next day, I recalled the ingredients and tried making my own version of the ‘za.

It was great. The wrapper I used was a perfect flaky crust to make several mini pizzas. And I’d have never thought cucumber would have worked so well on a warmed crust, but I was mistaken. Slice it thin enough and it can surprise you.

Ingredients

2 egg roll wrappers

2-3 T Trader Joe’s red curry sauce

1/2 cup cucumber, thinly sliced

a few dashes of basil and caraway seed

Directionsphoto (36)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

Spread the curry sauce over the wrappers, being sure not to use to much or the crust won’t crisp up at all. Place on sheet. Arrange cucumbers as you like and sprinkle on seasonings. Bake until wrappers have crisped, about 5-6 minutes.

Simple and tasty, just the way I like it.

Cucumber & Dill Flatbread

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For me, meals at the beginning of May need to be everything fresh. Whatever is fresh, in season, and preferably local is best.SAM_5241

So I had a cucumber.

And some leftover Neufchatel cream cheese from a complimentary brunch I pulled together for my thesis defense, which was hardly touched.

And I had a jillion or so whole-wheat tortillas from the high-fiber nutrition study I participated in this spring. I have probably had a large tortilla for lunch everyday since February. I do not understand how I haven’t made a dent in my tortilla supply.

But I do understand that toasted tortillas make for excellent burrito bowls, crispy chips, and now flatbread ‘zas.

I like this recipe a lot. It’s fresh and light, sort of like the cucumber sandwiches I remember my Nana making for us when we were little. And the serving of cream cheese is pretty small, so it did not cause my stomach any agony–for which I am thankful.SAM_5233

Try it!

Ingredients

1 whole-wheat tortilla

1 T Neufchatel cream cheese

as many cucumber slices as you like

dash of dried dill

(optional) sliced spinach leaves for garnishSAM_5240

Directions

If you’re working with refrigerated cream cheese (and impatient like I am), scoop out your 1 T and place on tortilla. Warm in microwave for 11 seconds or less. Spread to desired consistency. If you’re wanting a cold flatbread, then pop this in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes.

-Slice cucumber. Arrange on cooled flatbread, and then season with dill. SAM_5243

-At this point, if you’d like yours to be “grilled” you can toast it in a toaster oven or broil for just 1-2 minutes.

-If adding spinach for garnish, top it off with that after toasted. Use pizza cutter to slice, and enjoy!

This would also be really delicious with grilled zucchini, I think.

And it would be really easy to pack these ingredients up for lunch and take them with you to work. A good way to mix up your normal routine.

Even if you’ve been eating tortillas. For three months. 🙂

Toasty Breakfast Egg Pizza

You know I love creative meals. Here’s another fun meal idea: Breakfast Egg Pizza!

It started as a wrap, but what gets me about breakfast wraps and burritos is that they’re gone in what feels like seconds. Yes, I realize most people need a few minutes to finish a wrap; I do, too. But you can’t help but always want more.

I like to savor food, all its flavors, to really experience it. I’ve heard some call this mindful eating, and I love that idea.

And I love this egg ‘za, too. It seems bigger in appearance, and it’s quite a spread. A nice big meal with lots of complimentary ingredients, all layed out and toasted to perfection. And by cutting it into slices, you have to stop and enjoy each slice all the more. 

Ingredients

1 whole-grain, low-sodium FlatOut wrap

1 T organic salsa

3 egg whites scrambled with 1 T nondairy milk (sprinkled with cumin and onion powder)

1-2 T nondairy cheese shreds

a handful of your favorite veggies

fresh cilantro and red pepper flakes to garnish

Directions

-Preheat broilers to high. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and place wrap flat on sheet. Spread salsa thinly over the wrap. Set aside.

-Prepare scrambled eggs as you normally would. When nice and fluffy, transfer to wrap, spreading out evenly.

-Add veggies, and then cheese. Broil for about 3-5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and edges are crisped.

-Garnish as you like and serve warm.

Portabella Pizza Appetizers

Everyone loves pizza, and everyone, I think, should love mushrooms. These healthy little treats are packed with nutritional goodness to fight cancer and stave off other unwelcome diseases.

And they can be fun to eat. I promise. Just turn them into your favorite indulgence treat: pizza.

This ‘za twist on a mini pizza makes a delicious addition to any pasta meal or make up a bunch for cocktails with friends. I bet they’d taste great paired with red vino.

Ingredients

3-5 good-sized fresh portabella mushrooms, stems carved out

1-2 T mozzarella cheese (soy-version works great)

1-2 T marinara

Italian seasonings of your choice (basil, oregano, etc.)

Optional Toppings: olives, artichoke hearts, pepperoni, etc.

Directions

-Scoop a small amount of sauce into each portabella. Sprinkle with seasoning, a layer of cheese, and a little more seasoning. If you’re adding in toppings, place those on top of cheese.

-Note that not much is needed in each portabella cap.

-Bake in oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or so, or broil on high for 5 minutes.

You’ll know they’re perfectly crisp and ready once the cheese bubbles and begins to brown a bit. Serve very warm.

Pizza Muffins

I feel, at this point in my culinary journey, that I can turn just about anything into a muffin or cupcake. Anything.

Pizza is no exception. Actually, it’s a delight.

So on a boring Friday night dedicated to the rigors of reading ancient rhetoric, I made pizza muffins for dinner.

…Okay, I secretly love reading Aristotle on a Friday night with some healthy comfort food; I will not lie to you.

If the Greeks originally invented the pizza pie, would Aristotle be proud of my ability to invent and arrange such a wonderful creation. I like to think so.

Ingredients

To make the dough, simply follow my classic, whole-wheat pizza dough recipe:

Ingredients

Dough

1 t honey or agave nectar

1/4 of a yeast packet

1/4 + 3 T whole wheat flour

1 T rolled oats

1 t cornmeal

pinch of salt

Seasonings: garlic, basil, oregano

Toppings

1/4 cup cheese of your choice (I used a soy-based one for my lactose allergy)

3 T favorite marinara or other sauce

whatever toppings you love on regular pizza


Directions

Dough:

-In a bowl, dissolve sweetener and yeast in 2.5 T hot water. Let stand for about five minutes.

-Add flour and salt to the yeast mixture and stir ’til a soft dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

-Place in bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat the top. Let rise ’til double in size, about 30 minutes.

And get your veggies local if you can!

And get your veggies local if you can!

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

-Punch down and work in seasonings. Roll into a circle or square shape. Divide into 3-4 parts and press into the muffin slots of a lightly greased muffin tin. Bake for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and begin topping process.

Topping:

-Spoon sauce evenly into muffin cups, and then top with cheese (plus any additional seasonings you’d like). Begin layering veggies and cheese and seasonings as desired.

-Place back in oven for about 5 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.

Broccoli-Corn Calzones

When you live in Iowa–the crux of America’s heartland (competing maybe with Kansas)–you have no choice but to love sweet corn. If you were to speak ill of sweet corn publicly in this state, Iowans might forget the Midwestern friendliness they’re known for and shoot you a dirty look.

My “Grilled Corn Without the Grill” Recipe

Once I was looking through an Amana Colonies gift shop and happened across a little framed print featuring corn, an outline of the state of Iowa, and printed text that read: “Nothing’s sweeter than Iowa.” That pretty much sums up how people feel about this state and the deliciously sweet corn they grow.

The point is, I’ve eaten a lot of sweet corn since being in this state, but with this I’m perfectly okay. In fact, I’m always on the lookout for a new recipe featuring corn that I can whittle away to a single-serving size.

So when I found a recipe for Broccoli-Corn Calzones on Eating Well‘s website, I was intrigued. When one thinks of a calzone, sweet corn and broccoli don’t exactly come to mind.

This recipe is certainly worth while. The corn and broccoli mixed in a light cheese and herb mixture taste heavenly between a crispy crust. 

The original recipe made 6 servings, 6 calzones.

But these are probably pretty low in calories and too good to stop at one. So the recipe I’ve adapted makes two.

So nice you should eat twice.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1.5 T part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 T chopped fresh basil
  • pinch of garlic powder, salt, and pepper
  • 6.5 ounces prepared whole-wheat pizza dough (see note below for the single-serving recipe I used)
  • cooking spray

Directions

-Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or pizza stone. Set aside.

-Combine all ingredients, except pizza dough, in a small bowl. Mix ’til all ingredients are evenly distributed.

-Divide pizza dough into two parts. Roll out into circles.

-Divide filling mix into two parts, place each part to one side of each pizza dough circle. Leave at least 1/2 an inch space between the filling and the outer edge of the crust. Brush edges lightly with water and fold over gently. You can use a fork to press the edges together if you like.

-Transfer to baking dish. Spray lightly with cooking oil or brush on oil. Bake for about 8 minutes, then flip the calzones. Bake for 7 more minutes or until golden brown on each side.

Serve warm.

Note:

To make an easy pizza dough:

-Combine 1/4 yeast packet with 1 t stevia. Mix up a bit; then pour in 1/4 cup HOT water (110 degrees or more). Let sit ’til it gets fluffy–about 10 minutes.

-Then blend in dry ingredients: 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour, 3 T spelt flour, pinch of salt, baking powder, baking soda, and 1 t healthy oil (olive, canola, etc.). Blend evenly, but don’t overmix. Add more water if dough starts to try out.

-Let the dough sit for 20 minutes, if you have more time, longer (set mine out all afternoon). It should rise up a bit, getting elastic in texture. Press down and knead on slightly floured surface once you’re ready to use. To bake for a different recipe, bake at 450 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

Party Idea: Pizza Bar

My friend Sareena is one of those women who’s just adorable and doesn’t know it. This summer, she had some of us over for a pizza night (this was pre-parfait bar party, by the way). Each guest was given a … Continue reading

Farm Fresh Veggie Pizza

This past weekend, two great gals, Sareena and Sara, and I ventured into Des Moines to check out the downtown farmers market. I’d heard great things–that it was huge, among the top 3 in the country, and high-quality produce was available for cheap!–and this market lived up to all those expectations and more.

The weather was surprisingly cool, so we took our time traipsing up and down Court Ave. trying dozens of free samples and searching for the biggest zucchini we could find at the best price. Why? Well, not only do I eat my way through a ton of this veggie, but I needed it for two recipes I’ve been aching to try: chocolate zucchini cake and farm fresh veggie pizza.

Eventually we found this huge one for only $1! We thought it was funny how I was cradling it like a baby. Sareena’s soon-to-be child will be named Lydia, so we named the infant-sized zucchini Zydia.

How did the pizza turn out?

Pause while I roll my eyes back in my head as I delight in the memory of it.

Seriously, after a long day of walking around and sampling fresh vegetables, nothing could have tasted better.

Find the recipe below (inspired by Better Homes & Gardens’ Roasted Vegetable Tart).

Ingredients

Dough

1 t honey or agave nectar

1/4 of a yeast packet

1/4 + 3 T whole wheat flour

1 T rolled oats

1 t cornmeal

pinch of salt

Seasonings: garlic, basil, oregano

Topping

1/2 ear of fresh sweet corn, kernels shaved off the cobb

1/3 of a medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise

4-5 cherry or heirloom tomatoes, sliced

2 T tomato sauce

1 T ricotta

1/4 cup fresh Mozzarella

Crushed red pepper and/ or fresh thyme

Directions

Dough:

-In a bowl, dissolve sweetener and yeast in 2.5 T hot water. Let stand for about five minutes.

-Add flour and salt to the yeast mixture and stir ’til a soft dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

-Place in bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat the top. Let rise ’til double in size, about 30 minutes.

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

-Punch down and work in seasonings. Roll into a circle or square shape. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and begin topping process.

Topping:

-Rub sauce evenly over the dough, and then spread ricotta around. Begin layering veggies and mozzarella and seasonings as desired.

-Place back in oven for about 5 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Slice and serve warm.