Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Easy for Everyday :: Sweet Potato and Andouille Sausage Pizza

I don't like to let working nights get in the way of great home-cooked meals. Often times, I'll use my weekend to cook ahead on dinners that are easy to reheat. This weekend I had some inspiration to combine a few of my favorite Southern flavors into colorful and delicious pizza. Cooking pizza at home is a lot easier than most people expect, especially if you use an already prepared dough or crust. But even making your own dough doesn't take too long.  And a little trick if you don't want to heat up your oven, fire up the grill! It makes for a great smoky flavor.

1 sweet potato
2 Andouille sausages
6 broccolini or baby broccoli
1/2 can fire roasted diced tomatoes (drained)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Pizza dough (homemade would be best, but to easy with preparation, I used Pillsbury's artisan refrigerated dough)
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven according to pizza dough directions. 
2. On a baking sheet, form dough into a circle or square. If desired, roll edges over to create a crust. Pre-bake dough for 5 minutes and remove from oven.
3. In a skillet, remove sausage from casing and cook until browned. Set aside.
4. Dice sweet potatoes. In the same pan, add olive oil and sweet potatoes. Cook until caramelized. Add broccolini and toss until bright green.
5. Lightly coat dough in olive oil. Spread diced tomatoes evenly.
6. Spread a thin layer of Parmesan cheese. 
7. Across the pizza, evenly distribute sausage, sweet potato, and broccolini.
8. Finish with a layer of Mozarella and Parmesan cheese. 
9. Bake pizza according to dough directions, about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Serves 4-6

Friday, June 13, 2014

Easy for Everyday :: Beet and Arugula Salad

Wow, it's already June. It's amazing how quickly time flies when you're busy. I'm feeling a bit guilty that my last post was in March, especially since I have plenty of content to share with you all. Over the past few months, I've shifted roles in my day job, helped friends prepare to move cross-country and have rediscovered my love of reading. More relevant to this blog, I've taken a few day and long-weekend trips that have left me with some great restaurant finds to pass along. I've found one of my true food loves is Southern cuisine, met one of my favorite chefs and experimented with a lot of seasonal produce. I've literally filled my fridge with produce in no less than a half dozen grocery trips this year. I've participated in 5-10k races and an 11-mile hike for charity, and while I've always been active, the running in particular has pushed me to pay more attention to how my body responds to different foods. There's really no comparison to a meal that's rooted in fresh fruit and vegetables, whether it's the side dish or an entire meal. Well maybe a meal rooted in mac & cheese ... but then, what can I say it's all about balance. 

I managed a 6-mile walk this past weekend in 95 degree weather to make a trip to the farmer's market. It was hard work as it got warmer, but well worth it when I made that evening out of all my market finds. This simple three-ingredient salad is perfect for summer and makes a perfect compliment to a heartier pasta or steak. 

2 beets
2 cups arugula
1 cup sunflower shoots (These can be found at most farmer's markets and some specialty grocery stores, but other sprouts and shoots could easily be substituted)
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Peel and dice beets into small chunks. 
3.  In a baking dish, toss in just enough olive oil to coat and lightly season with pepper.
4. Roast beets for 35-45 minutes, until just soft. Remove and let cool for 20 minutes.
5. Rinse arugula and sunflower shoots, pat dry. Combine in a serving bowl. 
6. Add beets to serving bowl, toss and drizzle lightly with 1 1/2 tbsp each balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Depending on your taste, you can add more vinegar or less. 

Serves 2

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Easy for Everyday :: Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Lemon poppyseed muffins are one of my favorite treats. I found that many of the recipes I tried from cookbooks resulted in a heavier or cake-like muffin. After a bit of experimentation, I developed this recipe that I'm really happy with. The results are airy muffins with great lemon flavor. 

1 1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
zest from 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon extract
1/4 cup oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, beat eggs. 
4. To the eggs, add milk, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract and oil. Mix well.
5. All at once, fold egg mixture into dry ingredients. Stir until just combined, but do not overmix.
6. Scoop 1/4 of muffin dough into lined muffin tins.
7. Bake muffins for 12-14 minutes until golden on top. 
Makes 15 muffins

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Easy for Everyday :: Hashbrown Enchilada Casserole

Nothing is better than sharing a great meal with friends, so it seemed only fitting to celebrate my birthday with a brunch. What's more I spent more time planning what to serve than actually cooking, but that's as it should be. Most of my menu consisted of baked goods, that I could prepare ahead of time. But I wanted something heartier for the table, yet still easy so I wouldn't spend my entire morning cooking. Anyone who knows me know how much I love potatoes, and southwestern flavors. Thus, the inspiration for my hashbrown enchilada casserole. The recipe went over really well with my brunch guests, and what I really love about this recipe that you can set it and forget it. All the ingredients go in a slow-cooker overnight and in the morning, it's ready to serve.

1 bag frozen cubed hashbrowns
2 bell peppers
1 onion
2-3 medium-size tomatoes
1 can green chiles
2 cups cheddar jack or jalapeño jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried jalapeño 

1. Dice bell peppers, onion and tomatoes.
2. Combine sour cream, milk, eggs and spices. Beat well.
3. In a slow-cooker on low heat, layer half of the hashbrowns, then half of the bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and green chiles. Lastly add a layer of cheese. Repeat with the remaining half of the hashbrowns, vegetables and cheese. 
4. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the hashbrown casserole. 
5. Cook for 6.5 hours, then lower the slow-cooker to warm until you're ready to serve. 

Serves 8-10

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Easy for Everyday :: French Toast Casserole

Thanks to my loyal readers, I know it's been a while. I've been busy traveling and working, but my recent adventures have given me some new restaurants and ideas. Stay tuned! 

Recently I've been fascinated with finding new ways to re-purpose my leftovers. Working a night shift, I tend to make a few meals on my weekend that I can eat throughout the week. But who wants to eat the same thing twice in one week if you don't have to. I've had great luck turning my pulled pork into a sweet potato and pulled pork hash for breakfast. But today, I've got something really simple for my favorite meal of the day -- brunch! I took my tried and true mix for my french toast, and combined it with some leftover baguette overnight. All in all it takes about 10-15 minutes the night before and 25-30 minutes in the morning, while you're getting ready for your day. 

1/2 leftover baguette (or a fresh demi baguette)
1 1/2 cups milk
4 eggs
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 stick butter

1. Cut or break leftover baguette into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces.
2. Grease a baking dish and arrange baguette pieces in an even layer.
3. Combine milk, eggs, honey, vanilla and cinnamon and beat well. 
4. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover and let rest in the fridge overnight. 
5. In the morning, heat oven to 350 degrees. 
6. Melt butter. Add brown sugar and mix well. Spread over the top of the french toast mixture.
7. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. 
8. Serve with fresh fruit, syrup or powdered sugar.

Serves 3-4

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Easy for Everyday :: Cookie Brittle

While prepping for a brunch party, I stumbled upon a few recipes for cookie brittle. Both however used quite a bit of butter, 2 sticks! Don't get me wrong, I love to bake and I know butter is a key ingredient in many treats. But I'm all for finding ways to make a recipe just a bit healthier if I can manage it. So I adjusted, and came up with this recipe that I was very pleased with. It's perfectly crunchy, and you'll never miss the extra butter. I used a silicon baking sheet liner, it made breaking up the brittle a breeze after it had cooled and also made for an easy clean-up. Enjoy!

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat together butter and sugar. (To speed along the process, melt the butter first)
3. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time and mix well. 
4. Stir in chocolate chips, so they're evenly distributed in batter. 
5. Spread the batter evenly over baking sheet, about 1/4 inch thick. 
6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown.
7. Let cool, then break brittle into pieces.

Serves 6-8