Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cauliflower pizza bake

YES I know I just did a pizza-y post. But that means I had some leftover ingredients to use up! Anyhow. Everyone loves the cauliflower pizza crust. But of course, there are two problems with it. One: it uses a f*ckton of cheese to hold the crust together. Number two: all of the squeezing to get the moisture out of the cauliflower is a total pain. However, I do like that it incorporates tons of veggies. So, I came up with this solution. Instead of creating a pizza crust, I just mixed the toppings and sauce with riced cauli, packed it into a large pan, baked it, and served it cut into squares. As with the meatza, it's not something that anyone will mistake for a "real" pizza, but it does have those flavors. A real bonus is that it incorporates tons of cauliflower so you don't have to bother with a separate veggie side if you're lazy like me.

Serves about 6

  • 1 head of cauliflower, leaves and core removed
  • 1 lb fresh Italian sausage, casings removed (sweet or spicy; pork, chicken, or turkey -- whatever you like!)
  • 1 red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 8 oz sliced white or crimini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives (a 2.25 oz can, drained, will work)
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce (I used the plain canned stuff)
  • 1 cup liquid egg whites or four eggs, beaten. I used egg whites for the color and also so that it'd be less eggy-tasting, but I am sure whole eggs would work, too.
  • 15 slices of pepperoni
  • Ghee, olive oil, or butter for cooking
  • Salt and pepper
  • Marinara sauce for serving (optional)
  • Grated parmesan for serving (optional, only if you or your family eats dairy)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. First, make your cauliflower "rice". I used this method, or you can run it through the shredding disk of a food processor. Put it in a large microwave-safe bowl, cover, and nuke on high for 2 minutes. Season generously with salt, toss with a fork, cover, and nuke for another 2 minutes. Uncover, stir, and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, brown your sausage meat in a skillet over medium-high, crumbling with a wooden spoon. When it is completely cooked through, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the fat in the pan.
  4. Add the onion, pepper, and mushrooms to the pan which contained the sausage and cook over medium-high heat until everything is softened and the onions are translucent. If you used lean sausage such as chicken or turkey you may need to add additional ghee or oil. Turn off the heat, stir in the vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the egg whites or eggs, 3/4 cup tomato sauce, oregano, garlic powder, and crushed pepper flakes. Stir in the sausage, vegetable mixture, olives, and riced cauliflower. Add additional salt and pepper if you deem it necessary. Mix to combine.
  6. Grease a 13"x9" pan (I lined the bottom with parchment paper and greased the sides). Pour in the cauliflower mixture, packing it in a smoothing the top evenly (I use my hands). Dot with small pieces of cold butter or ghee or brush the top with olive oil. Uniformly distribute the 15 slices of pepperoni over the top so that when you cut it into squares, each square will be topped with one slice of pepperoni.
  7. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Let rest for a couple minutes, then cut into squares and serve. If you'd like, pass heated marinara sauce at the table to spoon over the top (highly recommended), and/or grated parmesan (recommended if you eat dairy).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Meatza Supreme

Honestly? While I love pizza (obviously) I think I like pizza toppings more than the pizza itself. Pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, and yes, anchovies. I also realized that I like oatmeal toppings and mix-ins more than the oats themselves, but today I'm going to talk about pizza. I wanted a dairy-free meatza that tasted like a heavy loaded pizza slice, covered with the works. So here you go. I eat these wedges with my hands because I'm gross and shameless, but my husband as well as most normal people use a fork. If some members of your household eat dairy and others do not, do what I do and make it sans cheese but pass Parmesan at the table.

Serves 4-6

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb fresh Italian sausage* (I used chicken sausage, pork or turkey would work as well)
  • 1 tsp Italian herb mix
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • Tomato sauce (the plain canned stuff is fine for this)
  • Sliced pepperoni
  • Green bell pepper, diced
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Sliced black olives
  • Sliced mushrooms (I used crimini)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Combine the ground beef with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. If you bought sausage links, remove and discard the casings. Mix the sausage meat with the seasoned ground beef. I didn't combine it too thoroughly so that the beef and sausage still tasted somewhat distinct.
  3. Divide the meat mixture evenly between two round cake pans. I lined mine with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Pat it down to spread out out thinly like a pizza crust. it will shrink from the sides as it cooks, so it's a good idea to pat it up the sides of the pan.
  4. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the top. Top with pepperoni slices, then sprinkle with the bell pepper, onion, mushroom, and olives.
  5. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes or until done. Let rest for a couple minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.
*It's very difficult to find sausage without any added sugar. Usually it's only a tiny bit, but if you're very strict about avoiding it, just use plain ground pork instead, double the ground beef seasonings, and add 1 tsp fennel seed.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Crock pot chicken musakhan

As part of my Sunday prep, I like to make some sort of meat pile. "Meat pile" is what I term a bunch of meat that I cook in the crock pot (or possibly browned ground meat) that I can use on salads, over veggies, as part of a snack plate, and so forth. Lately my meat piles have been seasoned chicken thighs, and this one was tasty enough to share.

Apparently, Chicken Musakhan is a very popular Palestinian dish. According to Wikipedia:

Musakhan is made of tender chicken spiced with the lemony flavor of sumac and the sweetness of caramelized onions.

OK, I'm in...

Sheets of flatbread encase the chicken as it cooks, protecting it from direct heat and soaking up the juices.

Honestly? HONESTLY?? That sounds f*cking delicious. But...I'm going to make it without the bread. And that means I can use the crock pot! Bonus: I don't have to run the oven and heat up the kitchen in July.

Musakhan is traditionally eaten with the fingers.

I guess that is what the bread is for, right? Whatever, ate some fistfuls of chicken pre-workout. Just trying to be authentic here.

You can see that my chicken musakhan meat pile is part of a mezze plate of sorts. I made a cucumber salad (basically a chunky version of this), roasted some eggplant, and also laid out some storebought olives, roasted peppers, and little pickles. Instead of the cucumber salad and roasted eggplant I might do raw cukes and peppers with baba ghanoush (favorite recipe) and other assorted dip(s), like tahini sauce or Middle Eastern dressing. I also might add some marinated artichoke hearts to the plate, or some cooked veggies like okra or kale...basically whatever I bought from the store and/or prepped on Sunday. It's really nice when I'm indecisive about what I want to eat.

Serves about 6

  • 2.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (I used the food processor fitted with a slicing disk)
  • 1.5 Tbs olive oil
  • 0.5 oz (weight) ground sumac*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I used 1/2 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon)
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • Big pinch saffron (optional, but nice)
  • Handful of pine nuts
  • Fresh mint for garnish (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

  1. In a large microwave safe bowl (I used a big glass mixing bowl), combine the onions, olive oil, sumac, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and saffron. Microwave for 2.5 minutes, stir, then microwave for another 2.5 minutes. If you don't mind dirtying a pan, you can of course saute the onion and add the spices, I just like this shortcut when I'm using the slow cooker.
  2. Dump the chicken into the slow cooker (frozen is fine, just tack another hour onto the cook time if unthawed). Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add the onion mixture and stir, nestling the chicken in the onions.
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours or until done. When ready to serve, saute the pine nuts in a bit of olive oil over medium-high until browned. Finely chop the mint. Taste and add more salt and pepper to the chicken if desired. Serve topped with mint and pine nuts.
*I realize that this is obnoxious for several reasons: giving a directive for spices based on weight rather than volume (who does that?), and giving a recipe that involves sumac, period. I found sumac in a little bag at a specialty market, it said it was half an ounce so I just dumped the whole thing in without measuring. I think it was about two tablespoons? If you can't find sumac, you can substitute paprika + a squirt of lemon juice, but you can get sumac at Middle Eastern markets ($) or stores like Whole Foods ($$$$$).

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