Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cajun Andouille & Portabello Grilled Pizza

Well, hello there.  It's been awhile.  A long while.  Since my last post, the hubby and I bought a house, and had a baby.  I guess we've been a little busy.  So now I'm venturing into the world of SAHMs (Stay At Home Mom's for the unititiated...) and I've been enjoying having the time to cook more.  I'm going to make an effort to get more stuff back on the blog, not that anyone actually reads this, but it's fun for me!

Anyways - I love to grill pretty much everything in the summer. I even made ice cream on the grill....well, part of it - grilled peaches for the ice cream. That was yummy.

Pizza is a great thing to throw on the barbie.  The heat of the grill approximates a wood fired oven so you get a super crispy and yummy crust.  The only thing is that you can't count on cooking raw ingredients that top your pizza - so you need to prep toppings ahead of time - the grilling is basically just the melting of the cheese and the cooking of the crust.

I had some chicken andouille sausage from Trader Joe's and thought it would be fun to make that into a Cajun style pizza.  So I did.  This pizza is super yummy.  The sausage is spicy and hearty, the sauce zingy and smoky, the cheese creamy, the mushrooms earthy and meaty, and the 'green' toppings so fresh and bright.  All tastes phenomenal on the tangy, crispy crust.  Here's how you can make it too.

  • 2 Chicken Andouille Sausages, grilled and sliced into medallions
  • 2 Portabello mushrooms grilled (season with S&P, EVOO, and some fresh chopped parsley before grilling) and sliced
  • 1 scallion, green and white part, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 shallot, very thinly sliced
  • 1 handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 bag shredded jack cheese
  • Cajun béchamel sauce (recipe follows)
For the Dough
I chose to use my sourdough started for a sourdough pizza crust.  The tang of the crust pairs really nicely with the richness of the sauce and cheese. The recipe I used is from King Arthur Flour.  I love their flour, and their recipes have never done me wrong.  Find it HERE.

After the initial proofing and forming, you can let it rise a lot or a little.  I made two thin crusts from the recipe.  The first one rised (rose?) for just about 15 minutes and it made a thin and very crispy crust.  The second one went for about an hour and it was much breadier, but still had a nice crispy crust on the bottom.

Let the dough rise on a pizza stone or metal baking sheet that you'll put on the grill.  Set your grill to medium high heat, and let the crust cook until the bottom starts to get some color (check it by lifting the edge with a spatula) and the top looses it's raw look.  Then, flip it over and cook for another few minutes. Remove from the heat, and bring it inside to top.

For the Sauce
The sauce is really what makes the pizza. It's creamy, spicy and smoky and oh so good! 
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 1.5 cups milk (I didn't measure this - but this is probably how much you'll need!)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • S&P to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt-free cajun seasoning (the simple trick to make this super yummy!)
To start, make a roux with 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp flour. In true Cajun style, let this cook until it's a nice nutty brown.  Then add milk slowly while you vigorously whisk the sauce to keep the lumps out.  Keep whisking in milk until the sauce starts to seem thin.  Reduce the heat to low, and stir frequently, just until it thickens.  While it thickens, season it up!  Add in the garlic, smoked paprika, basil, cajun seasoning, and S&P to taste.  Once the sauce is thickened, turn the heat off, cover it, and set aside until ready to assemble your pizza.  If you're intimidated by roux/bechamel making, check out my super shaky video tutorial HERE.

Now to assemble the pizza!

Start by spooning the sauce onto the crust and spreading it evenly over the entire crust. Then, add your shredded cheese.  Follow with the sausage and portabello mushrooms. Next comes the scallion and shallots, and another little sprinkle of cheese just to "glue" it all together.

Take the pizza back out to your grill. The heat should be set at medium - it it's too hot your crust will burn before all the cheese melts.  Grill the pizza with the cover closed just until the cheese is melty and starts to bubble. 

To finish, sprinkle the top of the pizza with some of the fresh chopped parsley, cut and serve!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stationery Card

Ribbon Dot Boy Birth Announcement
Announcements for all occasions: graduation, a new baby, or wedding.
View the entire collection of cards.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bacon Jam PopTarts with Maple-Chipotle Icing

savory, flakey & delicious!

I have two life changing words for you: Bacon. Jam.

I'd heard about bacon jam on Top Chef, and found a picture of a bacon jam PopTart on Pinterest, but it had no recipe. After some interneting to learn more about this meatalicious jam, I came up with a recipe.  With a brunch on the calendar for this morning, I thought this would be a fun contribution to the spread.

The process is actually SUPER easy - it just takes awhile to cook down to the right consistency, and it is not something that can be rushed.  The end result is a savory, meaty, smoky, rich & spicy taste of wonderfullness that really has no comparison.

Bacon Jam

  • 1 lb high quality bacon 
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Cholula hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp Chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa poweder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Black Pepper

In an enameled cast iron pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat renders out.  You don't really want to brown it, just get the fat to render.  This will probably have to be done in a few batches. Once cooked, let cool, finely chop, and set aside.

Discard some of the fat, leaving just enough for a thin layer on the bottom of the pot. Add your onions and garlic and sauté over medium heat until translucent but not browned.

Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot, stir well. Add in the bacon, and bring to a simmer.  As soon as the mixture is simmering, reduce the heat to low.  Continue to cook on low for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.  You want it to end up as a somewhat dry and deep brown chunky paste.  If it looks to oily, push the mixture to one side of the pot, tip it, and absorb the oil with a paper towel.  If it starts to dry too quickly before reaching a nice deep color, just add a bit of water.

When done, you can either purée it in a food processor till smooth, or just keep it chunky (that's what I did).  Remove from heat, and put into a jar.  The jam will stay good for at least 1 week in the fridge.

Bacon jam is great as a sandwich spread, burger topper, or addition to scrambled eggs. If you want to make it into a PopTart, read on!

Best Flakey Pastry
This is an excellent pastry dough to use for anything from Rugalach to Empanadas!

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 8 oz cream cheese, cut into chunks
  • 2 T sour cream.
Pulse the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor just until mixed.

Then add the butter, and pulse until a coarse meal is formed.

Add in the cream cheese and the sour cream, and pulse just until a rough dough starts to form.

Remove and put onto a floured surface, push together into a cohesive dough, and divide into 3 portions.  Make a flat-ish disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze for 15 minutes (this can be made ahead and left in the freezer, just refrigerate until unfrozen but still cold before using).

Let this freeze while you prep the icing, then you're ready to assemble your PopTarts.

Maple-Chipotle Icing
Perfect for a little touch of sweet and spicy!

  • Powdered Sugar
  • Real Maple Syrup
  • Half & Half
  • Pinch of Chipotle chili powder
So I don't have measurements here - this is easy enough to 'eye' it.  In a smal mixing bowl, add about 3/4 -1 cup of powdered sugar.  Pour in some maple syrup, and stir.  Start with a little bit, and add more as needed to get it to a very thick frosting - basically just wet enough so there isn't any dry sugar left. Once you reach this point, add some half & half, a tiny bit at a time, just to thin the mixture into a drizzle-able consistency. Add in a pinch of the Chipotle chili powder to give it a little kick and to add some color. 

To assemble the PopTarts:
Roll out the pastry dough into a nice thin piece (think the thickness of a store bought pie dough)

I chose to make circular pop-tarts, so I used a 3" circle cookie cutter (the bacon jam is very rich so you don't want to make these too big). You could also cut the dough into little rectangles to be more authentic looking.

On a parchment lined cookie sheet, place half of the pastry pieces.  Spoon some of the bacon jam onto the top of the pastry and pat down into an even layer, leaving at least a 1/4 inch border on the sides.

Whisk together 1 egg white and a couple Tablespoons of milk to make an egg wash.  Using your finger, rub some of the egg wash around the edge of the jam topped pastry.  Then, take a pastry top, and do the same thing on its edge. This will help the halves stick together. Put the top on, and then pinch the edges together.  Place back on the cookie sheet, and then crimp the edges with a fork.  Brush the top of the PopTart with the egg wash, which will make a beautiful shiny golden brown finish.     Finish by using the fork to do a single punch into the top of the PopTart to let the steam vent while it bakes.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the pastry is nice and golden brown.

Let cool slightly, then drizzle with the icing and serve. If you want to make them ahead of time, wait to ice them until shortly before serving.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spicy Chipotle Carrot Soup and Bunless Turkey Burgers with Slaw

So satisfying, you don't realize it's low fat and low carb!

Okay.  So I haven't blogged for awhile.  The hubs and I were on the Master Cleanse last week, and there is absolutely nothing about surviving on lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne that inspires you to post on a food blog, let alone do anything other than miss food.

I'm back now - and with a very crazy work and life schedule, the last few meals have been 'throw togethers' with no measurements.  Sometimes, those throw togethers are the best - you just combine the things that you like, and more often than not, it comes out great.

Here's tonight's throw together, with my best guess at measurements!

Spicy Chipotle Carrot Soup
  • 5 lb bag of carrots, peeled and rough chopped (don't worry about making it pretty - it all gets puréed in the end!)
  • 1 red onion, rough chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Mexican Oregano
  • 1.5 T Chipotle chili powder (the newest addition to my spice cabinet, and I love it! It's very spicy though, cut down if you don't want the heat)
  • 1 T Pasilla chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 boxes of Swanson's vegetable broth
  • EVOO
  • S&P
  • 1 individual portioned container of nonfat Greek yogurt.
Sauté the onions over medium heat with a little bit of S&P until translucent.  Add the garlic, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the carrots and all the spices, season with some more S&P and continue to sauté until very fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the broth, cover the pot, and turn to medium low.

Let simmer until carrots are fork tender.  When tender, use an immersion blender to purée the soup to a smooth mixture.

Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Mix in the greek yogurt, and let simmer on low for 5 more minutes, or until ready to serve.  If the soup is thicker than you like, just thin with some more broth, and let it heat through.

Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt on top if you like!

Bunless Turkey Burgers
  • 1 package of ground turkey meat
  • 2 tsp Pasilla chili powder
  • 1 tsp Adobo seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 scant tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder.
Mix the turkey meat with the seasonings, and form into patties.  Cook with whatever method you like.  Since it's freeeezing today I opted to cook them on the stovetop.  Just make sure that you cook them thoroughly since this is poultry and you don't want it rare!

I finished ours off with a little sprinkle of cheddar cheese, which always makes the hubs very happy. Serve over Slaw (recipe below) with a little Pico de Gallo, Guac (thank you Holy Guacamole!) and a dollop of plain greek yogurt or sour cream.

Red Cabbage & Cilantro Slaw
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 3 scallions, whites and half of the greens sliced
  • 1 handful of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 T light mayonnaise
  • 3 T skim milk
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • S&P
Whisk all ingredients except for the cabbage and bell pepper together, and let sit for 10 minutes to allow flavors to marry.  Add the cabbage and bell pepper, and toss well to coat.  Cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Toss again, and serve.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blue Cheese Dressing and BLT Salad

Husband approved "man salad"
Salad dressing is one of those things that I really hate to serve out of the bottle.  All the stabilizers, sweeteners and additives, ick!  Homemade dressings are so easy, and so quick, and made out of things you probably already have in your pantry - there's really no reason not to always have homemade.  Here's my version of blue cheese dressing - tangy, peppery, and creamy.

I never measure salad dressing, so I hope this approximations works. I used a large spoon out of my regular silverware for measuring these scoops.

Simple ingredients make for a super tasty dressing.

  • 4 heaping scoops of regular mayonnaise 
  • 3 heaping scoops of non-fat greek yogurt 
  • 4 dashes* of white wine vinegar
  • 4 dashes* hot sauce (Franks red hot, texas pete or tabasco work best)
  • 2 dashes* Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Generous amount of fresh ground pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • A bunch of blue cheese, at least 1/2 cup - I used the already crumbled blue cheese

*By dash - I mean a shake through a controlled bottle top.  If your bottles have open tops, just put your thumb over the top to control the flow, and shake away.

Mix well, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let flavors marry.

I used this dressing to make a Blue BLT salad for the the hubby and me for lunch. Just combine non-cured applewood smoked bacon, baby lettuces, and grape tomatoes with a bit of thinly sliced shallot, and some dollops of the blue cheese dressing with a little extra blue cheese on top.  Add a couple of slices of this homemade bread on the side, and you've got a super tasty and super fast lunch. The addition of grilled chicken would make this even better, or take it one step further and add chopped hard boiled egg and you've got a Cobb.

Homemade Bread, take 2

This went perfectly with my husband's homemade red sauce. 
It's been over a year since the last time I made it, but this bread recipe is just too good - it deserves an encore.  This time, I made it with regular all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat flour, and as much as I hate to admit it, the regular flour version was yummier..... truly like a rustic loaf that you'd buy at a bakery, crusty, airy, and oh-so-good.  I still had to add a little bit of extra water because my dough came out a bit too dry, but other than that, the recipe is spot on.

I hope you give it a try!

Christmas Morning Sticky Buns

If this is wrong, I don't want to be right.
While I love to cook, I really don't do much baking.  Perhaps it's my desire to 'wing it' with nearly all recipes that repels me. A novice really can't improvise when baking - you have to follow recipes very closely, or all those magic chemical reactions that turn seemingly lackluster ingredients into something spectacular, just won't happen.

I make an exception to my no-baing rule when Christmas comes around. I like to make a variety of cookies and pastries, and this year I added a new one to the repertoire - Sticky Buns.  My dad used to always make some sort of sweet baked good on Christmas morning (his sour cream coffee cake can't be beat!), so I had a hankering to make something for the husband and me to enjoy and sticky buns just seemed like a good idea.

This is a recipe by Bobby Flay, and in typical Flay Fashion, it incorporates honey and citrus.  While these did take quite awhile from start to finish, there wasn't really anything tricky to them. And wow, they were SO good, definitely worth it.  My dad would definitely approve.

Sticky Buns a lá Bobby Flay
  • Softened butter for bowls and baking pan
For the glaze:
  • 1 cup light muscavado sugar (I just used used brown sugar since I didn't have this fancy one on hand)
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted (I opted for pecans, since the hubs and I like them better, even though almonds probably mesh better with the other ingredients)
For the dough:
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk (not hot, just warm)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus a pinch
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
For the filling:
  • 8 tablesppons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • (I also added a teensy bit of ground clove and nutmeg)
Hot out of the oven! Somewhat
different sizes, but they still taste great
For the glaze:
Combine all ingredients except nuts in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Boil until slightly thickened. Pour the glaze into a buttered 13x9 glass baking dish, and then scatter the nuts over the top.  Cover, and set aside.

For the dough:
Sprinkle yeast over warm milk with a pinch of granulated sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Melt 1/3 cup butter and whisk into yeast with vanilla and egg yolk.

Whisk the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Stir in yeast mixture to make a sticky dough.  Knead the dough on a floured work surface until soft and elastic, 6 to 8 minutes. Shape into a ball, brush with a little melted butter, and put into a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

Knead the dough and reform into a ball. Return to the bowl, and cover with buttered plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours. 
In the dish, and ready to rise  for the last time
For the filling and assembly:
Roll the dough into a 10 x 18 inch rectangle. Spread soft butter over the surface. Whisk 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together, scatter over butter.  Roll into a long tight cylinder, pinch long edge to seal (my roll came out slightly thicker in the middle due to some lame rolling pin skills, but it was still fine!). Cut into 1 1/2 inch rolls with string or dental floss. Evenly space the rolls in the pan, over and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/2 half hours (I let them rise for 1 1/2 hours, and then covered them and refrigerated them so I could bake them first thing in the morning). 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Right before you bake them, brush with a little bit of melted butter. 

Bake until golden, 30-35 minutes.  Rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, unmold an serve warm.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gramma's Chicken Dijon

Gramma and Papa on their wedding day - how cute are they??
Also,  day one of the Eating Keatings family!  
This recipe is an oldy but goody in my family.  Originally done by my grandmother, who is an amazing cook. While she doesn't cook anymore, in her time, she was hard to beat! She instilled the whole family with a love of food and a love of sharing it with one another.

This is a recipe that she would always make when lots of family was visiting - it's tasty, super quick to whip up, and also freezes wonderfully.  I hadn't made this for years, and I'm so glad I've rediscovered it tonight. The smell brought me right back to my childhood evenings on 122 Pine Street.

Besides the small amount of mayo and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, this is a relatively healthy dish, that still really satisfies the comfort food taste buds. The hubs went wild for it.  Hope you like it too!


  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (trimmed up)
  • 1 cup non fat greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonaise
  • 2 T smooth dijon mustar)
  • 1 T worcestershire sauce (lee & perrins is best!)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup dried white wine
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional for a little kick)
  • S&P
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

My dijon of choice.
Grey Poupon is also good.
Place your chicken in a greased baking dish, and sprinkle with a little fresh cracked pepper and salt.

In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients together. Season with S&P to taste. Pour over the chicken breasts to coat well, and bake covered with foil for 45 minutes.  When 45 minutes is up, remove the foil, sprinkle the top of the chicken with a little bit of parmesan cheese, and broil until golden brown and bubbly. Let rest for a few minutes, and serve.

This is accompanied nicely by rice and some sort of green veggie.  I made brussels sprouts tonight - I'll share that recipe soon.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thank goodness for leftovers.

For me, this isn't sarcasm!!
Some days you just happen to find yourself working till 9, stressed out, behind on laundry, and two days late on your grocery store trip. On days like this, I am so thankful for a tiny bit of foresight, and my freezer.

Heating up a tasty home cooked meal is so much nicer than guilt inducing takeout. And is it possible that freezing makes something taste better? Because this was sooo yummy.

I hope that everyone had a nice, relaxing night! And if you didn't, I hope you had some yummy leftovers... and a glass of wine.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Sweet Potatoes with Ginger Maple Syrup

I love the spiciness of fresh ginger
I think I've finally recovered from Thanksgiving (unfortunately ending up with a migraine today).  It was such a fun week, with my sister and her husband coming into town for Thanksgiving with friends here in DC on Thursday, and then all of us traveling up for a Turkey Day encore with family in New Jersey on Friday. 2 in a row - Woof.  A lot of great food, drink, family, friends and festivity - I just love this Holiday.

Our friends Alex & Elisa hosted at their new home on Thursday, where I had my first rotisserie turkey, and it was amazing. Flavorful, moist and tender. I've got to get their secret for it. Friday I was able to try my Grandmother's recipe for dressing (excellently prepared by my Aunt Keri) for the first time - sagey, sausagey, and oh so good.  Definitely going to be adding that to the mix the next time I make the Thanksgiving spread.

I didn't do anything fancy for either meal - on Thursday I contributed some canapés (one of the recipes here), and made three different versions of potatoes - mashed potatoes, savory sweet potatoes, and sweet sweet potatoes.  On Friday, it was an apple tart and my favorite pumpkin pie (recipe here).

The sweet sweet potatoes (i.e. candied yams, etc.) are a staple at a lot of thanksgiving tables, but never at mine growing up - we're more of a savory family. So, I decided to take a whack at making these sweet and delicious, but with a little something different. Here's what I cam up with.

Maple Syrup at the source
  • 1 1/2 cups of pure Grade A Vermont maple syrup
  • 1 4 inch length of ginger, peeled and cut into strips
  • 4-5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted
  • Brown sugar
  • S&P
  • Candied pecans (my sister made these, so I'll have to get her recipe!)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

To start, prep the ginger, and put into a saucepan with the maple syrup. Turn the heat onto low and let the ginger steep in the syrup, stirring occasionally and making sure that it doesn't boil, approximately 15-20 minutes or until the syrup tastes nice and spicy

Meanwhile, prep the potatoes, and place into a large bowl.  When the syrup is ready, remove the ginger and discard, and pour it over the potatoes along with the melted butter.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon, S&P and toss to coat.  Pour into a buttered glass baking dish, large enough so that the potatoes aren't stacked too high.

Sprinkle with a little bit of brown sugar, and then bake until the potatoes are fork tender, and the sauce is beginning to caramelize. I can't remember how long this actually took - I'd start the timer at 15 minutes, and check every 5 minutes after that until done.

Serve with a sprinkle of chopped candied pecans on top.  Next time I make these, I'll probably get some of that yummy crystalized ginger, and sprinkle that on top too, to really kick up the ginger-ness of the dish.