Pumpkin-Parsley Pizza Pie

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When my friend Amelia mentioned her pumpkin pizza in a Facebook post, I was perplexed. 20131029-203319.jpg

Pumpkin puree for sauce? Pumpkin pulp as a topping? Can that really taste good?

Yes. I’m always surprised when sweet-savory combinations work so well. I’m not sure why I always forget this little culinary truism, but I’m always pleasantly reminded.

Pumpkin as a topping, and a sauce that’s part pumpkin, part marina is oh so sweet, and it gets an herb-y fresh kick from our good friend parsley. I mean, really good. If you live pumpkin, you really should try this pairing.

And where’d I get the “pumpkin pulp”? The jack’o’lantern I carved all by myself (first time!) this year.20131029-203437.jpg

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

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Seasonings: garlic, basil, oregano

Topping

2 T slice pumpkin pulp

1 T tomato sauce

1 T pumpkin puree

3 T fresh, shredded Mozzarella

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Crushed red pepper

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 on a 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.20131029-203335.jpg

-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:

-In a small dish, mix the 1 T marinara and 1 T pumpkin puree to make the suance. Rub sauce evenly over the dough in a thin layer, and then sprinkle cheese on, too. Arrange pumpkin pulp evenly on top. Sprinkle parsley on top.

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

Pizza Muffins

Thai Flatbread Pizzas

Zucchini ‘zas

Appetizer Idea: Healthier Mozzarella Sticks

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Guess who was still trying to eat her way through 20+ egg roll wrappers after a month or more of coming up with egg roll wrapper ideas?CC Pics 016

This girl.

When my own creative mind fails, Pinterest does not. I took to the pin boards and happened across lots of recipes using cheese sticks to make baked mozzarella bites with an egg roll wrapper coating. I’ve already tried the breaded bites, so I thought why not the wrapped ones. Let’s see which is better.

Well to no surprise, they were both equally good. I think my baked mozz bites made with whole-wheat breading looked a lot prettier, but these had a nice crunch.

And these egg-rolled-wrapper ones are super quick, easy, and mess free. If you’ve got some wrappers to use or company coming over and not a lot of time on your hands, I’d go for these. CC Pics 032

1 serving (Double or triple for more company)

Ingredients

2 organic or soy mozzarella cheese sticks

2 egg roll wrappers

optional: Marinara sauce for dipping

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

Cut the cheese sticks into three equal parts. Lay on one edge of the egg roll wrapper, and then slice the wrapper into three’s, too, to fit with each of the mini sticks.CC Pics 030

Roll up! I rolled mine sort of at an angle and then tucked in the sides at the end. Use a drop of water or less to seal the egg roll wrappers in place.

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. The cheese may begin to bubble out of the sides, and if so, that’s just a sign that you did something right. They’re ready to go!

Appetizer Idea: Basil-Tomato Margarita Bites

four tomato

So continues my obsession with egg roll and won ton wrappers.tres tomato aerial

If you’ll recall my post “Appetizer Idea: Bite-Sized Fajita Bowls,” I picked up a pack of  Nasoya egg-roll wrappers at HyVee. It’s been true love ever since.

Another one of the won-ton wrapper apps I see floating around on Pinterest.com features a combination of tomato and mozzarella.

For this first one, I wasn’t feeling mozzarella. I’ve been using a soy-based garlic-herb cheese a lot lately, so I crumbled that over the top instead, tossed in some basil, parm, and spice, and felt my eyes roll back in my head when I tasted the crispy-cheesy-flavorful crunch of this appetizer.

Hope you get a pow in the yum like I did. These appetizers are right up my alley. I’m sure I’ll continue to make them for myself, but I suspect they might become my new favorite stand-by for potlucks and dinner parties, too. Very easy, and very good.

Ingredientsbite tomato

1 egg roll wrapper (Get a good healthy brand like Nasoya)

1/2 Roma tomato, diced into medium chunks

red pepper flakes

1 oz. cheese of choice, mozzarella or a heartier herb one will do

dash of parmesan

1 t basil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a mini-muffin tin. Set aside.

Take the egg roll wrapper and slice into four equal squares. Press into pan, folding sides to fit down as necessary, but not pushing too hard.

In a small pan, saute the tomatoes in a little cooking oil for a few minutes, adding in the basil, then the red pepper flakes. Evenly  distribute among the wrappers.four bore tomato

Bake for about 7 minutes or until edges of wrappers turn golden brown. Top with cheese of choice (cubed or crumbled), dash of parm, and more basil if you like. Bake another 2-3 minutes until cheese melts.

Serve right away and warm, if possible. Enjoy!

Easy Caprese Skewers

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So quick.

So easy.

And yet, still so darling.

When I didn’t know what to bring to a writing center meeting last fall, I remembered those fancy little caprese skewers on Pinterest. They pop up all the time, but I can’t help but wonder if anyone ever makes them? They look easy enough. But I imagine that the caprese skewers, like so many other popular pins, are pinned and forgotten.

But I remembered. And I wanted to try.SAM_3610

Ingredients

Mozzarella, fresh preferred

1 carton of grape tomatoes

balsamic vinegar for dressing the skewers

fresh herbs to garnish

Directions

Not exactly rocket science on this part either. Just skewer–in whatever order or pattern or amount you like–drizzle with balsamic, and serve on something cute. (Great-tasting food is always 50% presentation.)

A bright, healthful addition to any potluck, and as always, my co-workers thanked me for bringing something fresh to the table. It’s always a pleasure to hear that.

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.

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.