Sunday, May 1, 2011

Meatball Pizza and Pickled Onions

Claire and I made the final decisions on what we were going to make about an hour before she came over.  We're taking a break on chicken this week!  The usual challenges this week: fatigue, mid-cooking session kid pick-ups, last minute grocery shopping, twin toddlers underfoot, and playdate.  I also want to point out that we often take a few shortcuts here and there- canned goods, pre-made dough.  We don't try to make everything from scratch organically- although when we do accomplish this, it's certainly a plus.  What we do try to do is make a lot of food that tastes good and is reasonably healthy in a short amount of time.  Here's what we made this week. 

Meatball Pizza
(adapted from Rachel Ray.  I saw this on the show a few years ago, and it looked so good I made it the next night.  It's one of our family favorites.  Who doesn't like pizza? I adapted it a little to put a few more veggies in it.  Oh, and I couldn't resist the caramelized shallots on top.  We used pre-made pizza dough, but you can make your own if you want.  For an extra bit of veggies, you can add 1 jar of pureed carrots- from the baby food aisle!)

1 bag of pizza dough, store bought
Handful of all-purpose flour
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 tablespoons dried rosemary, chopped if you want
Coarse salt

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 cup spinach, choppedBlack pepper
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning
2 cups grated mozzarella
1 medium shallot (optional)
1 T butter (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Drizzle rectangular baking sheet with extra-virgin olive oil. Press dough in place, using olive oil on your fingers to keep the dough from sticking.  Season the dough with rosemary and a little salt. Poke some holes in it with a fork.  Place in oven 10 minutes.  (It's going to seem like a lot of olive oil, but I've tried it with less- it's just not as good.)
Brown the ground meat a couple of minutes in a large pan, then add onions and garlic. Add the mushrooms and spinach.  Add salt, pepper, italian seasoning to taste, and work in the tomato paste using the back of a wooden spoon to combine. Stir in the parsley. 

Melt butter in a small saute pan. Add sliced shallot and slowly brown on low-med heat. Take off the heat when nice & caramelized.
Remove crust from oven and top with a thick layer of the meat mixture. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the meat. Arrange the caramelized shallots over the top of the cheese. Return the pizza to the oven and bake until golden, another 10 to 12 minutes.

Grown-up White Pizza
I made this a couple of nights later with the extra bag of dough that I had.  So good.  My kids don't like bleu cheese, so we saved this for the grown-ups.  You won't miss the meat.

2/3 c cream cheese (cottage cheese blended in a mini-food processor works well too.)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c bleu cheese crumbles
1/2 c spinach leaves, chopped
5-6 basil leaves, sliced thinly
1/4 onion, sliced thinly
6-8 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 shredded parmesan cheese

Toss the tomato halves and sliced onion (separately) with a little olive oil.  Lay out the tomatoes face down on to a pan, and spread the onion slices out evenly in a layer.  Broil on high for 2-3 minutes until the tomato skins are slightly blackened.  Watch closely- it goes fast.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (this won't take long since you've just used the broiler).  Drizzle rectangular baking sheet with extra-virgin olive oil. Press dough in place, using olive oil on your fingers to keep the dough from sticking.  Poke some holes in it with a fork.  Place in oven 10 minutes.

Spread the cream cheese evenly onto the crust.  Sprinkle the minced garlic evenly, followed by the bleu cheese crumbles, spinach, and basil. Space the roasted tomatoes out. Sprinkle the mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  Top with the roasted onion slices  (you could also use the pickled onion slices if you have those!).  Bake for about 12 minutes, or until cheese is golden.

Green Goddess Dressing 
Best in a salad served with bleu cheese crumbles, cherry tomatoes, and good lettuce. Excellent for summer, or when you are tired of the dressings in your fridge!  Add homemade croutons (recipe last week) if you have any left.

2/3 c fresh basil
1/3 c fresh cilantro or flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste1 garlic clove
3 sliced green onions, including the green tops1/3 c white balsamic vinegar
2/3 c olive oil
2T sugar

Blend all in blender or food processor until herbs are fine.

Soup, salad, and meatball pizza.

Minestrone Soup
Super quick to make, and easily adaptable to vegetarian households. 

1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
2 small zucchini, diced small
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 c finely sliced cabbage
6 finely diced mushrooms

2 cans french onion soup
2 jars good spagetti sauce
1 jar water

1 can canellini beans2 c cooked beef ( leftover pot roast or cooked sausage are good.  Substitute 1 c kidney beans for vegetarian)
1 can beef broth (vegetable broth for non-meat version)

1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano

black pepper to taste
1/2 c chopped spinach

Saute the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, cabbage, and mushrooms in 1/4 c olive oil in a large stockpot for a few minutes, until the onions are softened.  Add french onion soup, spaghetti sauce, water, cooked beef, beans, and broth.  Simmer all of the above 20 min.  Stir in chopped spinach shortly before you're ready to serve.  Ladle into a bowl and top with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Peach Berry Crisp
I think my favorite part of this recipe was when Claire pointed out that she liked to serve it to her boys, because then they get an extra serving of fruit.  Perhaps I took it too far when I ate half a pan of leftover crisp in an effort to get in my daily 5, plus maybe a little extra....

3 c peaches
3 c blueberries
2 T cornstarch
2 T sugar
1/4 t cinnamon

1/4 t cinnamon
3/4 flour
3/4 brown sugar2/3 stick butter
pinch of salt
1/4 c sliced almonds, optional

Preheat oven to 450  degrees. Mix fruit, cornstarch, sugar, and cinnamon in 8x8  greased pan.   Mix the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together with your fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles pea-sized crumbs.  For added protein, you can also stir in 1/4 sliced almonds. Pour topping mixture over fruit, do not press down.  Bake 450 degrees for 30 min, then at 350 degrees for 30 min.

Champagne Vinegar Pickled Onions
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to make, and keeps for at least a month in the fridge.  I don't really like raw onions, but I could eat a whole bowl of these pickled onions. They are great on sandwiches, hamburgers, fish fillets... you name it. I buy Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar from Trader Joe's- it's cheap and easy to find.  One bottle is not quite 2 cups, but I finish off the measure with white balsamic. And don't forget to strain it when you pour it over the onions.  I've made this mistake before, and found myself picking out shards of cinnamon stick from my onions.

2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced very thinly
2 c champagne vinegar
1 c sugar
1 c water
1 tsp turmeric
2 cloves
1 small bay leaf
1/4 cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients except for the onions in a small pot and boil for 5 minutes.  Strain over the sliced onions.  Allow to cool.

For lunch, I had purchased pre-made salmon burgers with yummy buns.  We had a cup of minestrone with salmon burgers topped with julienned red pepper, baby spinach, and the pickled onions.  I also had a small bunch of organic arugula from our CSA, so I made a tiny little bit of wilted arugula on the side.  It cooked down more than I thought it would- so I adjusted the recipe to reflect slightly less meat, which is really just intended to provide flavor.  If I had had time, I would have roasted the red pepper.  Mmmm....

Claire's dad would say, "What are the peasants eating for lunch today?"

Wilted Arugula
I had to substitute a slice of pastrami, which was good, but f you have a slice of chopped bacon, that would be better!  The saltiness of the bacon and the tartness of the lemon juice really balances out the bitterness of the arugula.

2 cups sliced arugula
1/2 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
1 slice of cooked bacon, chopped
1 tsp olive oil

Heat oil in pan.  Add garlic, then bacon.  Add arugula and saute until wilted. Add lemon juice and serve.

Please leave a comment and let us know how things turned out if you tried anything!

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