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Pizza with Acorn Squash, Caramelized Onions, and Beet Greens

March 2, 2011

I think my generation is the first group of people to really create bonds with other individuals via the internet, without ever having met one another face to face or ever intending to do so.  These relationships can be as strong as more traditional friendships as well.

For instance, I’m internet-friends with Kelsey at Apple A Day.  No, I don’t know her favorite song and I can’t pick out a handbag that she’d carry, but I have known true happiness for Kelsey and true empathy for her.  And sharing in emotions is surely a part of a friendship, whether or not you’d recognize the person on a busy street in NYC.

I also know that Kelsey is getting married (very soon!) to the absolute love of her life.  And that’s why I, along with a bunch of other bloggers, combined to throw a virtual shower in honor of that union.  To see what everyone contributed, please stop by Amy’s blog or Kelsey’s Blog.

Naturally, I needed to pick a recipe that Kelsey would love at a true get together, and that task wasn’t hard.  I’ve picked up on a few of Kelsey’s favorite flavors over the years.

I know she loves pizza.  I know she loves sweet, caramelized onions. She rates this meal she made with squash as one of her best kitchen accomplishments.  So I am quite confident that she would adore the appetizer I came up with for her party.

I made a Pizza with Acorn Squash, Caramelized Onions, and Beet greens.  The dough was dyed pink using beet juice.  Pink is one of Kelsey’s favorite colors so I knew she’d adore this (flavorless) addition.  Just replace 1/2 cup of the liquid you use in your pizza dough recipe with canned beet juice.

I wish Kelsey and her groom all the best.  Cheers.

One Year Ago: Hoagie Rolls (whole wheat)
Two Years Ago: Breakfast Stuffed Peppers and Old School Latkes

Pizza with Acorn Squash, Caramelized Onions, and Beet Greens
1 batch pizza dough
1 acorn squash
1 – 2 tsp pure maple syrup
1 onion, sliced very thinly
beet greens from one bunch
ricotta cheese

Poke acorn squash several times with a sharp knife and microwave three minutes to soften.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400*.  Cut squash in half, remove seeds, and place flesh side down in a lightly greased glass cooking dish.  Bake 25 minutes or until very soft.  Remove from oven.  Scoop out squash flesh and mash with the back of a fork until very smooth.  Add 1-2 tsp of maple syrup to sweeten to desired consistency.  Set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Place a thin layer of oil in the pan and heat until shimmering.   Add onion slices and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook about 30 minutes until onions are brown, soft, and sweet.

These two steps can be done days in advance.

Wash beet greens thoroughly.  Remove ribs and slice into ribbons.  In a microwave safe bowl, add greens and about 3 T of water.  Steam in the microwave until wilted.

Roll pizza dough out to desired shape.  Spread squash mixture over dough.  Arrange beet greens and onions evenly on top of dough.  Dollop with ricotta cheese.

Preheat your oven and pizza stone to 500*.   Once heated, transfer prepared pizza to stone.  Cook 5 minutes at this high temperature and then reduce to 400*.  Cook an additional 10 minutes or until pizza is puffed, dough is cooked, and toppings are heated thoroughly.

Orange Scented Beet Risotto

February 26, 2011

“This color is on the verge of offensive.”

He said it in the nicest possible way.

“Oh.  It is beets!  Okay then.  I love beets.”

I think that was an apology.

So, you’re not rightly going to be able to serve this dish to self-proclaimed beet haters.  There’s just no hiding the star player here.  And why should we hide beets?  They are such an under-appreciated vegetable.  They come in bunches.  They come attached to pretty, edible greens.  And they make things a shockingly red color.  And red is pretty.  And pretty food tastes better.

One Year Ago: Spicy Black Beans with Spinach & Masa Dumplings
Two Years Ago: Mediterranean Pasta with Limas and Olives

Orange Scented Beet Risotto (adapted from Martha Stewart)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, heated
2 beets
zest of one orange, plus wedges of orange for serving
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Coarse salt and ground pepper

In an oven heated to 425*, roast beets until tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes.  Allow to cook; then peel and dice into 1/2″ chunks.  This step can be done in advance – simply refrigerate cooked and chopped beets until ready to use.

Heat olive oil in a medium stockpot over medium-high.  Add rice and stir to coat.  Cook 3-4 minutes.  Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1/2 the liquid is absorbed.  Stir in orange zest.  Add 3 cups broth in 1/2 cup intervals.  Add 1/2 cup broth, stir occasionally until liquid is mostly absorbed and repeat until no broth remains.  This process should take about 30 minutes.  Just before serving stir in butter and half the Parmesan cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve each portion with 1 T Parmesan cheese on top.  Offer orange slices to squeeze atop risotto before serving.

Pinto Bean Soup

February 23, 2011

(This post was originally published on 10/29/2009 but has been updated with a new photo)

Aw, shucks.  Let me just tell you the point I’m trying to make.  This soup is ridiculously good.  And has ridiculously few ingredients.  Yeah, it’s more or less a bowl of beans with an occasional onion (and if you are the Omnivore, bacon, too), but for some reason, it is tasty.

I know what you’re thinking.  Can I sub canned beans?  I’m going to go with NO on that one.  There’s just something synergistic about eating the beans in the broth that cooks them that you gotta have.  It’s the bean juice.  Magical bean juice.

But I promise.  It is not hard to make beans from scratch.  I know you screwed it up last time.  I know you tried really, really hard and cooked that blasted Mexican Chili forever, only to bite into a starch black bean.  It won’t be like that this time.  Trust me on this.  Just follow the recipe.  Don’t get fancy on me.

Pinto Bean Soup (4 servings, adapted from here)
1 1lb bag dried pintos
6 cups water
pot o’ water
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt

parsley
bacon for the Omnivore (added at end)

Add beans to a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water.  Bring beans to a boil stove top.  Boil hard for 5 minutes, then remove the pot from heat and cover.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Go pet your dogs.  Drain water.

Combine the remaining ingredients listed above in a crockpot.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

Make some cornbread to go along with this meal.

Garden Style Tomato Sauce

February 23, 2011

(This post was originally published on 2/19/2009 – I’ve just updated the picture and added more precise measurements today)

I know a lot of times women and mothers are desperately trying to increase the number of veggies in their loved ones diets.  Husbands insist on a main dish of Hamburger Helper with sides of macaroni and cheese with some Fritos.  Ahh, the horror.  Lucky for me, my husband loves his veggies (save for the zucchini, which we all know about these days.  Why oh why must he hate my favorite veggie?)

So, if you are fighting the veggie battle in your family, this recipe may help you out.  You may have to throw some meatballs in the mix to get the sauce down the hatch, and that’s okay (just use lean ground meat!).

This recipe is full of garden fresh vegetables (well, okay, not really, it is February after all, but let me tell you, if it were August and my husband’s foot wasn’t broken, these veggies would be fresh from our garden, I promise!).

Garden Style Marinara
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, diced into 1/4″ dice (okay, I had a mammoth genetic abnormality of a bell pepper, so I only used 1/2 of it.  Do as I say, readers, not as I do)
1 onion diced
2 stalks celery, diced
Ugh, the celery gnome strikes again!  If you have some in the fridge, throw it in.  If you don’t, blame the gnome.
2 bay leaves (So important!  As a rookie cook I always skipped this ingredient.  Don’t do it!)
1 T dried basil
1.5 T dried oregano
salt (amount varies depending on the salt content of canned goods you have purchased)
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 15oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 can broth or water

Saute the veggies.  If you are using a crockpot, here is a neat trick: while prepping veggies, crank your crockpot up to high and oil the bottom, put the lid on in order to maximize the temperature inside the crock.  By the time you are done chopping the veggies, unless *ahem* you used your food processor, the oil in the crockpot should be piping hot enough to saute the veggies in the pot itself (instead of using a pan stovetop).  You can thank that crazy lady at crockpot365.blogspot.com for this tip.

Add the spices, bay leaves, and canned goods.  Cook to your hearts desire.  A couple of hours stovetop or a couple of hours on low in the crock.  Whatever.

And, if you must, feel free to puree the sauce in your blender or with your immersion blender in order to entice bachelor husbands to get their 4-6 servings of veggies a day.  And remember, potatoes don’t count!

Whole Wheat Orange Ricotta Pancakes

February 21, 2011

You don’t see a lot of breakfast on my blog.  It isn’t that I don’t eat breakfast.  It is just so hard to cook breakfast for one.  Well not hard, but it just isn’t worth it.  And I like oatmeal.  A lot.

Even weekends when the Omnivore is here visiting me (no, our house in another state still hasn’t sold so yes, we’re approaching 6 months of living apart), I rarely cook a big breakfast for the both of us.

Why?  I wake up first and am rip roarin’ ready to eat.  In fact, I think it is my stomach growling that actually wakes me up most of the time.  The Omnivore wakes up later and has to wait before he eats. (Yeah, say that last part in a whiney voice).

But I’ve found if I wake up and just get crankin’ in the kitchen, he’ll eat anyway.  And this recipe I picked seemed like the perfect amount for two people anyway.  Maybe two people and a toddler.  Definitely not three people.

I didn’t tell the Omnivore about the ricotta in these pancakes because (insert whiney voice again) he doesn’t like ricotta.  He would have never guessed it anyway.

He had two servings of these pancakes.  These fluffy, just a little orangey, pancakes.  Even though he can’t eat that early and doesn’t like ricotta.  This recipe is a keeper!

One Year Ago: Pad Thai Healthy Style
Two Years Ago:
A Slumdog Feast

Whole Wheat Ricotta Pancakes (seen on FakeGinger, from Sargento)
3 eggs, separated
grated rind of 1 orange
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine egg yolks, orange rind, juice, cheese, flour, milk, butter and salt in large bowl.  Stir thoroughly.

Beat whites with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoons onto greased, preheated griddle or skillet. Cook pancakes 2 minutes each side or until golden brown. Serve hot with honey or syrup, if desired.

My heart beets for you

February 19, 2011

My blogger friend, Jey, over at The Jey of Cooking, decided to host a blogging event similar to my Charity Souper Bowl for animals.

In honor of Jey’s mom, Jey is collecting heart healthy recipes that will culminate in a blog round up similar to mine, with her donation going to the American Heart Association.  You can read and Jey’s event and her mom here.

I was happy to participate in this event.  Most of the recipes on my blog are “heart healthy” but I wanted to be sure to pick something really special for Jey.

I decided to play off the idea of a beating heart by making something with beets.

Beet chips!  No, they aren’t potpurri, although they look like some sweet smelling flower petals.  These are a heart healthy, and easy, snack to whip up when you have the munchies.  They taste great without salt (if you have a heart condition) and are slightly sweet.

They are a heart-healthy side dish to a sandwich!

One Year Ago: Pasta with Spicy Cauliflower and Walnuts
Two Years Ago: Spaghetti and Wheatballs

Beet Chips
2 beets

Preheat oven to 250*.  Wash, peel, and slice beets.  Make sure the slices are very thin (I used my mandoline slicer).  Arrange beet slices on a cooling rack over a baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Turn oven off and leave beet chips inside to cool completely, about 1 hour.  Enjoy!

Homemade Peanut butter

February 16, 2011

There’s a big, big difference between natural peanut butter made at home and storebought natural peanut butter.

My stuff spreads like a dream.  My stuff doesn’t separate.  And my stuff doesn’t cost $6 a jar.

I just dumped about 1.5 cups of salted peanuts into my food processor and turned the on button.  I processed the nuts for about 3 minutes and then streamed in about 1 tsp of flavorless (safflower) oil.  I let the processor work a little more and got this.

It was nutty but subtle and just plain delicious.  Great for my vegetarian chili. And great with a spoon.

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