Flatbread Pizza Three Ways

Flatbread makes a great platform for quick pizza.  Remember those English Muffin pizzas we made when we were kids?  These flatbread pizzas are the modern version.  Top them with whatever you like.  I bought Trader Joe’s Middle Eastern flatbread.  You can buy pocketless pita or naan bread at any grocery store for the same effect.  To bake, heat oven to 400 degrees and bake about ten minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.  Here are a few ideas:

1. Classic Pepperoni

  • 1/2 C. plain tomato sauce, I use Hunts
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. dried oregano or basil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 flatbread rounds
  • 1/2 C. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 18-24 slices of pepperoni

Combine the tomato sauce, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper and spread about 2 T. of the sauce mixture on each flatbread.  Sprinkle the cheese evenly over each flatbread.  Distribute the pepperoni among the flatbreads.  Sprinkle a little more cheese over the top.

2.  Bacon, Apple, and Cheddar

  • 6 slices of bacon, fried and chopped
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, sliced very thin
  • 1/2 C. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 flatbread rounds

Brush each flatbread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Distibute the bacon and cheese evenly over the flatbreads.  Top with 4-5 apple slices per pizza.

3.  Arugula and Chevre

  • 6 flatbread rounds
  • 1 C. arugula leaves
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • 3 T. chevre
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 t. olive oil

Brush each flatbread with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Distribute the arugula and basil evenly among the flatbreads.  Dot the chevre on top.  Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of each flatbread.

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Guinness Braised Brisket

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I wanted to make a traditional corned beef (it’s corned, not corn beef, I hate it when people say corn beef) last year for St. Patrick’s Day.  I am usually pretty good at planning ahead, but in this case I waited until the last minute.  You need two things for corned beef: time and saltpeter, neither of which I had.  Corned beef needs to brine for at least 5 or 6 days.  Saltpeter is what gives it it’s characteristic pink color.  Knowing I only had a day or two, I decided to skip the corned beef and go for a braise.  In keeping with the Irish theme of St. Patricks Day, I chose to use Guinness for the braising liquid.  The rich, silky sauce is addictive.  The total time for this dish is about 3 1/2 hours and serves 4-6.

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 3lb. beef brisket
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 medium, yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 handful chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 1/2 C. vegetable or beef stock
  • 1 14 oz. can Guinness or other stout beer
  • 3-4 russet potatoes
  • 1/2 head green cabbage
  • 2 T. butter, softened
  • 2 T. flour

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Season the brisket with salt and pepper on both sides.  Brown the brisket in the oil on both sides, at least four-five minutes per side, you want it nice and brown.  While the meat is browning, peel and dice the carrots, celery, and onion.  Remove the meat to a plate and add the carrots, celery, and onion to the pot with the drippings.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits as the veggies are cooking. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.  Add the parsley and thyme and put the meat back in the pot.  Pour the stock and beer over the meat.  Cover and place the whole pot into the oven.  Cook for 1 hour and forty five minutes.  Turn the meat over, replace the lid and continue to cook for another hour.  Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into two inch chunks.  Cut the cabbage wedge into large chunks as well.  Remove the meat to a plate.  Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and discard the veggies.  Bring the liquid to a boil.  Combine the butter and flour with a fork into a smooth paste and whisk it in a little at a time to the boiling liquid.  The sauce will thicken after about three or four minutes of boiling.  Place the meat, potatoes, and cabbage back into the big pot, replace the lid, and put it back into the oven while the sauce is thickening.  Increase the oven temp to 400.  Ladle a little of the sauce over the potatoes.  Cook about twenty five minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove the meat to a platter and slice across the grain.  Serve the meat with the potatoes and cabbage and pour the sauce over the top.

 

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Thin Mints Ice Cream Cake

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Every year I buy several boxes of Thin Mints from the Girl Scouts and stash them in the freezer.  After the kids go to bed my husband and I will eat a few, ice-cold, out of the freezer.  By some miracle, I still had enough left to make this easy “cake”.  If you have any Thin Mints left in your freezer, this is a winner – no baking involved.

  • I roll of Thin Mints (the box comes with two rolls.  That other one will be really lonely in the box all by itself, so you’d better go ahead and eat it while you’re making this.)
  • 1 pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened to a spreadable consistency.

Line a 6 inch cake pan or ramekin with parchment paper.  Just go ahead and press the paper into the bottom and up the sides, it will be crinkly and uneven in places, no biggie.  Place the cookies in a freezer bag and crush them to a crumbly powder.  Sprinkle half the crumbs into the bottom of the pan.  Drop the softened ice cream on top of the crumbs and use a spatula to spread it evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining crumbs on top.  Pop the whole thing into the freezer for at least 1-2 hours.  Before serving, use the parchment to lift the cake out of the pan.  Peel it away from the cake and place it on a serving plate.  Cut it into wedges with a knife dipped in warm water.

 

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Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies with Melted Butter Icing

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Ten years ago Valentine’s Day was about roses, dinner out, maybe even a new pair of unmentionables. Today, Valentine’s day is about boxes of perforated Power Rangers cards with Tootsie Pops taped to them and forcing my 5 year old to write his own name 28 times like a Drill Sergeant. G-E-O-R-G-E! Again! G-E-O-R-G-E! Again! Just get it done! Oh, and it’s also about frosted sugar cookies. 

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For the dough:

  • 4 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 3 C. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 t. orange or lemon extract
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon (about 1 T. finely grated zest)
  • 4 3/4 C. flour

For the frosting:

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • food coloring- I used Chefmaster food coloring gel in Christmas Red to get the violent pink color.
  • 2 1/2 C. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 t. vanilla
  • water as needed for thinning

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes on med-high speed. Add the eggs and extracts, salt, and zest and beat until well combined. Add the flour a scoop at a time, mixing just until combined, then stopping the mixer while you add the next scoop. Mix just until combined, repeat. Over mixing creates a hard cookie, so for a tender bite, go easy. Wrap the dough and chill for an hour or two.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for about ten minutes, or until just beginning to brown on the edges. These cookies will not rise or change shape if they go into the oven cold. You can place them fairly close together without risking spreading. Cool cookies on a wire rack before frosting.

While the cookies cool, make the icing. Melt the butter in the microwave and stir in the food coloring. Whisk in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Really beat the heck out of it to get it nice and smooth. If it gets too thick, add water a teaspoon at a time. Really only add a teaspoon- otherwise you will get into this good vs. evil battle with the bowl: too thin! add more powdered sugar! too thick, water! Crap, now it’s too thin again! Trust me and add just a teaspoon at a time. This frosting will “crust” fairly quickly, so frost and adhere sprinkles right away. The nice thing about a crusting frosting is it makes the cookies much easier to package- you don’t have to wrap them individually. Although that would look adorbs. In little cellophane bags with heart stickers…or maybe with a Power Ranger sticker:)

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Chocolate and Love, Love and Chocolate

Any of these delectable recipes will make your Valentine swoon with euphoria.  

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Chocolate Sables 

 

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Special Dark Chocolate Pudding 

 

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Double Chocolate Bundt Cake

 

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Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream 

 

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Milk Chocolate Souffle 

 

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Frozen Chocolate Mousse 

 

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Tiramisu Cupcakes

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Black Bottomed Cupcakes

 

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Mocha Pots de Creme

 

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Spring Green Asparagus Soup

There is almost nothing I like to make more than soup.  There is almost nothing I like to eat more than a smooth, pureed soup.  Maybe chocolate.  Make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.  I like Better Than Bullion concentrated bases that come in a jar.

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 2 yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 C. chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 large bunch of asparagus, about 1.5 pounds, diced
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 C. buttermilk
  • olive oil, optional

In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion, leeks, potatoes, and celery.  Cook and stir for about ten minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Allow the veggies to boil for about 5 minutes.  Add the asparagus and cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender, until very smooth.  Stir in buttermilk.  Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.  Serve with a little drizzle of olive oil on top.

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Toasted Coconut Energy Bars

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If you regularly buy Larabars, Lunabars, or other energy bar, you should really try these!  They are easy and quick to make, and if you buy ingredients in bulk, you will save some money in the process.  At my local grocery store, I buy Larabars for about $1.25 a bar. This recipe makes 12 bars, and I estimate I spent about 7 dollars on the ingredients. Another terrific thing about these is that they are made completely without refined sugar, they are gluten-free, and naturally vegan, but they are decadently sweet and delicious. You need to look for a product called Earth Balance Coconut Spread. I found it at New Seasons. Do not substitute solidified coconut oil – it doesn’t have the buttery flavor we’re going for. You could try regular earth balance, but I think the coconut spread has amazing flavor.

  • 2 C. raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 C. unsweetened, shredded coconut, I used the big flakes from Bob’s Red Mill
  • 1 scant C. pitted dates, loosely packed
  • 1 pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 C. Earth Balance coconut spread

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.  Spread the cashews and coconut on a parchment lined baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, or until they just start to turn golden brown. Set aside about 1/4 C. of the toasted coconut.  Pulse the nuts, the rest of the coconut, dates, salt, and cinnamon in the food processor until crumbled.  Add the coconut spread and process until a dough-like ball begins to form. Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper.  Press the mixture into the pan evenly. Sprinkle the reserved coconut flakes on top and press in lightly to adhere.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least two hours.  Cut into 12 bars.  Wrap the bars in parchment or wax paper individually so that they don’t stick together. Store in the fridge.

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