Meatless Monday - Homemade pizza and nacho rolls

>> Monday, April 26, 2010

A big thanks to Nurse Practitioner Schools for including this blog in its list of 100 Best Blogs for Parenting Advice!   I'm looking forward to checking out some of the other blogs on the list!

I'm retrieving an oldie but a goodie for today's Meatless Monday post.  We had these for dinner tonight, and I sent one with my son for lunch last week.  Such a good little hand held meal!

My son is a picky eater - just like his mother. He gets bored easily with sandwiches - also just like his mother - so I've started a running list of sandwich alternatives to serve at lunch. This recipe for Ranch Chicken Pockets at Megan's Munchies gave me an idea for making homemade pizza rolls. (And, yes, the pizza rolls are really just little calzones, but it's more fun to call them pizza rolls!)

These pizza rolls are great because you can make them ahead of time and throw them in a lunch or even freeze them to eat later. Even better - you can customize them however you want! We've made Megan's Ranch Chicken Pockets (using HFCS-free ranch dressing, of course) - delicious - and nacho pockets as well as the pizza rolls. The flavor combos that would work with this idea are endless.  Maybe hummus with fresh oregano and feta cheese or...well, you get the idea.  Go crazy!

One note - be careful buying pizza sauce! HFCS is a common ingredient in packaged pizza sauce. Once upon a time, we were fans of Boboli's pizza sauce, but alas, it contains HFCS. There are several brands out there that don't have HFCS in it, though. We used Rustic Crust's One Top Tomato! Old World Tomato Sauce. It's a pretty good sauce, and comes in nice three-packs that are convenient.

On to the recipe!

Start with some pizza dough. You can buy some frozen pizza dough or make it yourself. I went the make it yourself route with a little help from my breadmaker.  (My pizza crust recipe is at the bottom.)  Not sure that a Jiffy crust kind of pizza dough would work well here as the quick dough made from the box tends to be a little too flimsy in my experience.

Take a little ball of the dough and roll it out. The dough will puff up a bit when cooking, so make it as flat as you possibly can. You can make your circle of dough big or small. I like to make them on the small side - better for lunch boxes and small hands.

Next, put a little of whatever you want in the middle of the circle. For pizza rolls, we used a little smear of pizza sauce topped with cheese for the kids and added some sauteed onion and mushroom for the adults. For nacho pockets, I used a smear of fat-free vegetarian refried beans (basically just smushed pinto beans) topped with some shredded cheddar cheese and a dab of salsa.

Apologies for the poor quality of my food pictures! Still, you get the idea...

Fold the dough over, and crimp with a fork to close. I've taken to doubling the seam over and crimping again to keep it from opening while cooking, but those of you that are better bakers than I am probably won't need to do that.

Bake in a preheated 400 F oven for 10-15 min until the rolls are lightly browned. Let cool and enjoy!

And if you need another good pizza dough recipe for your breadmaker, here's one that I've adapted to my own tastes from The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook.  This dough is softer than the dough recipe that I've posted in the past, and I like it better because of that.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

1 1/3 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp gluten
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients in your breadmaker according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Program for Pizza Dough and press start.  When the machine beeps at the end of the cycle, immediately remove the dough from the bread machine and place in an oiled bowl.  Let rise for another 30 min.  Use the dough for pizza or pizza rolls.


Why I make my own bread (or ode to my breadmaker)

>> Thursday, April 22, 2010

A little over a month ago, I decided that it was silly for me to buy bread from the grocery store.  My reasons are numerous and simple.

  • I have a great bread maker that does all of the work for me.  Just dump in the ingredients and press start - the machine takes care of the rest!  
  • Around here everyone likes fresh baked bread so much more than store bought bread.  In fact, they like it so much that I thought it might be a problem.  Fortunately, the "must eat it all now!" feeling that came with homemade bread is wearing off.  Now it's just the way it is.  
  • I can control the ingredients.  The breads I make have  simple ingredients - nothing in the way of fancy dough conditioners or preservatives.  I like that.  
  • It's cheaper. We weren't buying the super cheap bread at the grocery store (because the super cheap bread usually amounts to super cheap ingredients that give me the heebie-jeebies).  It would be even cheaper if I had a warehouse store around and could buy bulk flour.
The big thing has been finding good bread machine recipes.  I struggled with this for a while, and then Kara from Itty Bitty Bistro recommended this amazing book - The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger.  Love this book!  Every bread I've made from it has been a hit.  The recipes are easy to follow and work.  And there are about a zillion recipes (ok, or maybe just 300) in here for every type of bread you can imagine - and a few non-bread items (like jams) that you can make in your breadmaker.  If you've got a bread machine and are looking for a good companion book, I highly recommend this book!

The next problem was storage.  For a while, we would wrap our loaves in aluminum foil, but that method was messy and wasteful.  A lot of the bread bags and boxes sold aren't designed to hold the tall loaves made in a bread machine.  A couple of weeks ago I ordered this breadbox, and I've been very happy with it.  It holds my loaves perfectly.  (A note here, I like to make 1.5 lb loaves.  A 2 lb loaf from my bread machine might still be a problem with this bread box.)  And this bread box has done a great job keeping my bread from going stale.  It even has a little cutting board in the bottom for slicing bread.  My only complaint would be that it's a little cumbersome getting at the bread because you have to physically pull the box apart.  On the flip side, because of the way it's constructed, I can adjust the interior volume to fit my loaf size.

My go-to sandwich bread of the moment is a simple white whole wheat bread from the King Arther Flour Company featured in the book.  It makes a very tender 100% whole wheat bread that is great for toast or sandwiches.  We also have a favorite cracked wheat bread for sandwiches, but I'll let you get a copy of the book from your library, a friend, or the bookstore to take a look at that recipe and all of the others!

White Whole Wheat Bread
from The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook

makes a 1 1/2 lb loaf

1 1/4 cups water
2 TBSP nut oil or olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 TBSP gluten
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients in the pan according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Set crust on dark (I actually like a medium crust) and program for Basic or Whole Wheat cycle.  Let cool to room temperature before slicing.


Gorgonzala Sliders to make your mouth happy!

>> Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I know that most of the recipes that I've shared recently have been meatless, but believe it or not, we eat meat as part of our meals a lot too.  Confirmed omnivore here!  I've shared before that my kids complain equally well about meat and meatless meals.  In fact, with a few notable exceptions, my kids aren't huge fans of meat in general.  This meal is one of those notable exceptions.

I started making all of our own bread recently (more on that in a day or two), and that act kind of spurred the creation of this sliders recipe.  Why?  Well, now I make my hamburger and hot dog buns from scratch (thank you, bread machine!) and  can make cute little slider-size buns. 

Wait?  You don't know what a slider is?  Sliders are really just small hamburgers.  I've read that the term was originally coined to describe the small White Castle burgers, but sliders has since come to encompass any small burger.

My kids until recently have not been big fans of hamburgers.  And gorgonzola cheese?  Forget it!  But combine the two and put it on these fabulous buns, and they scarf them down.  They're really that good.  I like to top mine with some caramelized onions, tomato, and just a little ketchup.  The kids just want their sliders plain with ketchup on the side to dip in when the mood hits them.

The buns are a recipe that I found at RecipeZaar made specifically for bread machines.  (I do not make bread by hand if I can help it!)  The only change that I've made to the recipe is substituting white whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour.  (Ok, and I don't brush with egg or add sesame seeds either.)  The whole wheat flour gives it a little chew, but they still are very soft rolls.  It's a great recipe for rolls, hamburger buns, or hot dog buns.  Just mold to the appropriate shape and let it rise!

Gorgonzola Sliders
I used ground elk for the sliders in the picture, but hamburger works just as well.  I also add more gorgonzola than seems sane, but I promise, it's a flavor combo that really works.  I mixed about 4 oz of crumbled gorgonzola cheese into about 1/2 lb of hamburger.  Mold into patties that will fit your buns, and broil or grill.  Top with caramelized onions or your topping of choice and enjoy!



Meatless Monday - A Greek Meze Feast!

>> Monday, April 19, 2010

Do you know what a meze is?  A meze (pronounced meh-ZEH) is like a Greek tapa.  They're little bites that taken together make a meal.  Greek food is full of wonderful vegetarian mezethes.  Serve a few together and you have a fabulous meatless meal!

I did just that this past weekend.  My husband is a freak when it comes to Greek food.  He loves it...craves it, which is really too bad since we live in meat and potato country with nary a Greek restaurant to be found.  I like a good challenge when I have the time and inclination, so I set out to give him a homemade Greek meze feast.

I made all of these for one grand meal, but you could take one of these mezethes and make it a centerpiece of a good meal.  They were all fabulous and well received.  Even my picky son tried and liked pretty much everything.  (A major victory!  We happened to catch him at an adventurous moment.)

Without further we go!

Dolmades (aka stuffed grape leaves), falafel, flatbread, and tabbouleh.  Dips, olives, feta cheese, and basmati rice were added after the picture.

First up, dolmades or stuffed grape leaves.  I used Emeril's recipe as my base, but made a few changes in how it was cooked.  This was my first time making dolmades.  I'm not a huge fan of dolmades in general, but my husband thought these were great (and even I thought they were ok).  *Recipe at end of post*

I made tzatziki for dipping.  I don't think that this is a terribly authentic tzatziki as it's my twist on a friend's interpretation of tzatziki, but it is very good!  *Recipe at end of post*

I used Tyler Florence's Tabbouleh recipe without any changes.  It was very good.  A tip I read elsewhere said to stick to curly parsley.  Italian parsley can be too tough for this parsley salad.

I turned to my own falafel and hummus recipes.  They hit the spot every time.

Instead of pitas, I made a flatbreadThis recipe for flatbread from Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking is fabulous and easy.  I make a double batch to get eight pieces of flatbread.  The flatbread can be eaten straight or filled with various mezethes to make an impromptu sandwich.

Also on the plate, basmati rice with pine nuts, some kalamata olives, and some crumbled feta cheese to round out the meal.

Do you have any favorite mezethes?  

olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup basmati rice, cooked
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 TBSP minced mint
2 lemons, juiced
1 (8 oz) jar of grape leaves
broth (chicken or vegetable) or water to cover
2 TBSP olive oil

In a large pan, heat a couple of TBSP of olive oil.  Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and pine nuts and saute for 2 minutes.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl  and allow to cool slightly.  Add the rice, salt, raisins, mint and juice from 1 lemon and mix well.  Set aside.

Blanch the grape leaves in boiling water for a couple of minutes and then quickly cool in cold water.  Cut the stem from each grape leaf as needed.

To assemble the dolmades, place 2 to 3 tsp of rice filling near the stem end of the leaf.  Fold and foll the leaf into a small package.  (See this link for an excellent demonstration of how to wrap dolmades.) 

Place the dolmades in a large Dutch oven seam side down.  Stack them if necessary.  Pour the remaining lemon juice and 2 TBSP of olive oil over the dolmades.  Cover with a heavy plate and add water and/or broth to cover to the level of the plate.  (Note:  The plate is very important.  Dolmades not weighted down by a  plate will unwrap while cooking.  I used a plate and put a mug full of water on top for extra weight.)  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve at room temperature.

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
3 TBSP tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 diced cucumber, seeds removed
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together and serve.


Real food for lunch! Fish Sticks

>> Thursday, April 15, 2010

Do you use Cool Whip?  Or maybe you did once upon a time and then were turned off by the ingredients.  Then you really should check out Truwhip.  A great tasting whipped topping that is completely HFCS and trans fat free!  I'm giving away two coupons for a free container of Truwhip whipped topping.  Head on over to A Life Less Sweet Reviews for a chance to win!

Yesterday I talked about working to reclaim lunches in our household.  While I am generally quite content preparing more complicated and time-consuming dinners, the same cannot be said of lunch (and even less so of breakfast).  Fast and easy rules the day when it comes to lunches.  What to do when you have a child that doesn't care for the traditional fast and easy lunch - the sandwich?  Well, in the past I've turned to a box of macaroni and cheese, but it's time to put that crutch away.  In that light, I hope to show you a few of the new lunches making the rounds at our house here and there over the next several weeks.

First up, baked fish sticks!  I am not a fan of fish, so this is not a meal that I've turned to in the past.  My kids, however, are big seafood fans - especially my son.  I was struck by the (maybe not-so-novel) idea of making homemade fish sticks for my kids as an easy lunch option.  Ok, yes, this takes a bit of work, but what makes this easy is that I can prepare a lot of fish sticks and freeze them.  Voila!  Lots of future super-easy lunches!

I used cod because I assumed that this was a fish used in a lot of processed fish sticks, and cod was one of the more inexpensive fish the day I was shopping.  I know next to nothing about fish, so use whatever makes you happy.

The verdict on these fish sticks - my son loved them!  My husband thought that they were tasty too.  They were easy to reheat in the oven after being frozen.  A little bit of up-front effort seems to have yielded quite a few quick, healthy lunches!

A note on the recipe...I have turned into my mother.  It always drives me slightly crazy the way my mother doesn't really use a recipe.  She uses a little of this and a pinch of that and a temperature just so.  I like a recipe - ingredients and amounts written down to follow precisely (or change how I see fit, as I usually do).  Well, when I'm making up a recipe on the fly, that's not how I work.  Just like my mother, I use a little of this and a pinch of that.  Sometimes I think ahead and write down what I do so that I can more easily share the recipe...and sometimes I don't.  The following recipe is hopefully an accurate representation of how I prepared these fish sticks.  It's at least very close!  You should certainly modify to suit your own tastes.  Use the seasoning that makes you happy.  Don't have panko?  Use all regular bread crumbs or cornmeal instead.  Make it yours and enjoy!

Homemade Baked Fish Sticks

1 lb fish fillets (I used cod)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (read the ingredients!  Some brands of panko have some pretty sketchy ingredients.)
2 eggs, lightly beaten and thinned with about 1 TBSP of water
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp seasoning salt (or to taste)
cooking spray (like Pam)

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine the flour, thyme and garlic powder in a shallow bowl.  Pour the thinned egg into a separate shallow bowl.  Last, combine the breadcrumbs and panko in a third shallow bowl or plate.

Cut the fish fillets into 1" wide strips.  Sprinkle the fish on all sides with the seasoning salt.  Dredge each strip first in the flour mixture, then in the egg, and last in the breadcrumbs.  Place the coated strips on the baking sheet.  Lightly spray all of the strips with oil.

Cook the fish for 10 min or until flaky.

To freeze: 
Place cooked strips neatly on a baking sheet.  Make sure that there is a little space between each strip.  Cover with foil or plastic wrap and put in freezer for a few hours until the strips are completely frozen.  Store in a container of your choice.

To reheat, cook the frozen strips in a 400 F oven for 10-12 min or until strips are completely warmed.

Want some more healthy lunch ideas?  I love the weekly menu planning posts at Super Healthy Kids.  Lots of wonderful ideas for every meal of the day ripe for the pickin'! recently listed their Top 50 Mom Bloggers.  No, I didn't make the list, but I was nominated in the "Who Do You Like" category.  Care to make my day and give my blog a thumb's up?  Go here and vote for A Life Less Sweet!


What's for lunch? A closer look at boxed mac 'n cheese.

>> Wednesday, April 14, 2010

When it comes time to feed your kids lunch, do you ever turn to a handy box of macaroni and cheese?  I must admit, I do.  I serve it too often when my son is home.  A dear friend of mine recently asked me what I thought of the ingredients in Annie's brand mac 'n cheese.  Now, I read ingredient lists - religiously - but nonetheless, I couldn't recall a thing about the ingredients in boxed mac 'n cheese outside of the fact that none have HFCS or trans fat in them.  Time to change that!

Without further ado...let's learn a little more about the ingredients in boxed mac 'n cheese.  

First up, Annie's Deluxe Elbows and Four Cheese Sauce.  The ingredients in all of the Annie's boxed mac 'n cheeses are virtually identical.  I chose this particular variety because it's what my kids are most likely to eat at home.  Take a look at the ingredients:
Organic wheat elbow pasta, four cheese sauce [cheddar, asiago, parmesan and monterey jack cheeses (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), water, cream, whey, natural sodium phosphate, salt, natural flavor, lactic acid, sodium alginate, annatto extract for natural color]
Really and truly...I was pleasantly surprised by the ingredient list.  Nonetheless, there are a few ingredients that look scary, so let's break it down a bit more.  I'm going to skip the common, every day ingredients.

Whey - simply the liquid leftover after milk has been curdled and strained during the cheese making process.

Natural Sodium Phosphate -  an additive with lots of different potential functions.  Sodium phosphate can help prevent off flavors in foods, is an emulsifier, is a leavening agent, is a texture-modifying agent, and is a buffering agent.  Concentrated sodium phosphate (much more concentrated than the small amount present in processed foods) is also used as a laxative for enemas.

Sodium phosphate is produced by reacting mined phosphates with caustic soda of lime to produce phosphate salts.  Where does the "natural" come in?  I'm not sure.  Perhaps it can be called natural as it produced by reacting substances found in nature.  Or maybe they extract it from some other plant or animal source (much as natural nitrates are found in celery).  Plus, adding natural makes it sound more friendly, doesn't it?

Is it safe?  The Center for Science in the Public Interest categorizes sodium phosphate as "safe."  As a food additive, the concerns surrounding sodium phosphate are relatively minor.  Consuming too much phosphate can interfere with calcium absorption leading to osteoporosis concerns.  The small amounts present in a box of mac 'n cheese shouldn't pose a problem with calcium absorption, but it could conceivably be more of a concern if someone is consuming lots and lots of processed foods.

Natural Flavor -  What exactly is natural flavor?  Get ready...under the US Code of Federal Regulations, natural flavor is defined as,
"the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product or roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products therof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."  
Basically, "natural flavor" is a clearing house for anything used in small amounts strictly for flavoring.  It could come from from meat, dairy, wheat...anything derived from a natural source.  There is little way to know what the composition is from product to product unless the manufacturer agrees to disclose when asked.  Understandably, "natural flavors" is a controversial ingredient listing.  To add more fuel to the fire, "natural" flavorings really may not be any better than "artificial" flavorings.  You can read a bit more about the controversy surrounding "natural flavor" here and here.  (I'll note that Annie's states that their "natural flavors" do not contain any of the top eight allergens.)

Lactic Acid - used to add tartness and as a preservative.  Lactic acid is what gives sourdough bread it's characteristic flavor and what makes sauerkraut sour.  Despite the name, lactic acid as an ingredient is a non-dairy product typically produced through a bacterial process.

Sodium Alginate - a very effective algae derived thickener.

Annatto Extract - a natural colorant derived from the dark red seeds of the Annatto tree, a tropical evergreen.

What do you think?  I actually think that Annie's does a pretty good job keeping their mac 'n cheese as free from additives as possible.  Granted, this is still not what I would call a "real" food.  A home cook isn't going to reach for a jar of sodium phosphate or sodium alginate when making cheese sauce at home (though cheaper cheeses may contain these ingredients), but it seems about as additive free as a box of shelf-stable mac 'n cheese can get.

Now...for fun, let's compare that old stand-by, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
Enriched Macaroni Product (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate [Iron], Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid) Cheese Sauce Mix (Whey, Milkfat, Milk Protein Concentrate, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Contains less than 2% of Citric Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Lactic Acid, Milk, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Enzymes, Cheese Culture)
The first thing I noticed is that the Kraft mac 'n cheese uses enriched flour.  Many of the vitamins and minerals are stripped away when making wheat into white flour, and often flours are enriched in an attempt to add some of that goodness back.  The Annie's product that I picked to evaluate doesn't use whole wheat pasta, so other than the fact that Annie's flour is organic, it isn't necessarily any better than what Kraft is using - both use white flour pastas.  Honestly, I'm a little surprised that Annie's pasta isn't enriched.

Moving on...the Kraft product has the same sodium phosphate and lactic acid, but they add a few more artificial goodies to the mix - like two kinds of artificial yellow food coloring.  Let's take a closer look at some of the other strange ingredients in the mix:

Milk Protein Concentrate -  For such an innocent sounding ingredient, milk protein concentrate (MPC) is actually fairly controversial.  MPC is pasteurized milk that has gone through an ultrafiltration process.  In the filtration process, the big protein molecules are retained while lactose, milk, and minerals are washed away.  The high-protein retentate is then spray dried to produce MPC.

Sounds innocuous, right? had an interesting article last year detailing the concerns surrounding MPC.  The biggies - potential contamination and the unknown.  Much of the MPC used in the US is an imported product.  Big concerns over the purity and origins (is the MPC produced from cow or yak milk, for example) of imported MPC exist. MPC isn't included on the FDA's list of "Generally Recognized As Safe" additives that are allowed in foods because the necessary testing for inclusion on the list hasn't been done yet.

Sodium Tripolyphosphate - yet another phosphate!  This one (also known as STP) is different because it is a polyphosphate.  In foods, STP is used as a texturizer, binder, and preservative.  STP is also a strong cleaner in more concentrated form and is often found in detergents and soaps.  STP is generally considered to be safe as a food additive.

Calcium Carbonate - a common substance found in rock and marine shells around the world.  Calcium carbonate is often used as a calcium supplement.

Ready to dig into a bowl of macaroni and cheese?  I'll tell you what I'm ready to do...clean up our lunches!  I won't promise to never serve a lunch made with processed ingredients again, but boxed mac 'n cheese is going to become a bit scarcer around here (though I can also guarantee that it will be made on occasion). We're becoming a little more conscientious about the processed foods we use.  My kids will be eating puh-lenty of processed foods in their life.  I can at least do my part to keep the food at home as nutritious and real as our life will allow.

Come back tomorrow for a giveaway and a great "real food" lunch alternative! 


Good stuff from around the blogosphere

>> Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring break is winding down here and so is my blogging break!  To wade back into the swing of things, here are a few recipes that caught my eye the last couple of weeks.  I can't wait to try these!

Our Best Bites has a  Breakfast taquitos recipe that looks fantastic!  I think that this will make a great Meatless Monday meal next week!  Their baked chicken taquitos are also fantastic.

Do your kids like zucchini?  Mine typically don't.  Who can blame them?  They can have a slimy texture when cooked and they have a pretty distinct flavor that can be an acquired taste.  Never fear! Itty Bitty Bistro has a recipe for Zucchini Nuggets that is sure to make a zucchini lover out of any kid (or adult for that matter)!  My kids are also crazy about these Zucchini Sticks from Cooking Light.  We serve them with a side of jarred marinara to dip in.

Apples and Butter has a great looking Herbed Salad Dressing that I can't wait to try!

Weelicious has a great looking recipe that combines fruit and pancakes to make little breakfast bites.  My daughter will love their Banana Bites.  I'll probably substitute strawberry or apple for the banana for my son.

Serious Eats has a very yummy looking wings recipe.  Their Soy-Dijon Chicken Wings make my mouth water!

Last, a great looking one-ingredient ice cream.  The ingredient?  Frozen banana!  Just stick it in a food processor to make what tastes like soft serve banana ice cream.  I first saw this idea at Choosing Raw, but I've since seen it (along with a good prep tip) at Our Best Bites.  My parents have tried this and assure me that it is fantastic.  I still haven't tried it, but I have some banana in my freezer just waiting to be used (unless my dear husband snags it for his smoothies again)!


Meatless Monday - Fantasma Pizza

>> Monday, April 5, 2010

I apologize for the lack of posts lately!  We're in the middle of spring break here, and even though we've had a continuous helping of snow, I've been enjoying my staycation.  New posts are coming!  Just not today...  Today I want to reshare my recipe for my favorite pizza with white sauce.  I really love this pizza.  It satisfies the garlic monster inside of me. 

I love pizza. And while I like me some pepperoni, 99% of the time I prefer to have my pizza meatless. With two kids in the house and a limited budget, I make pizza at home a lot. Thanks to my breadmaker, I can make a decent whole wheat pizza dough in about an hour.  Because I can choose the quality and quantity of the ingredients, I consider my homemade pizza a healthy food and don't mind making it for my kids.

There's a restaurant in my town that makes divine pizzas.  The crust, the sauce, the ingredients...I love everything about these pizzas! Cafe Ponza has a pizza that is particularly delicious - the Fantasma. This pizza has a white sauce for a base and is topped with roasted garlic, caramelized onions, pancetta, and herbs. For my home version, I left off the pancetta and made a great meatless pizza.

My pizza was very, very good. It takes a bit of time to get all of the ingredients prepared for the pizza, but this is actually a very easy pizza to make. Cafe Ponza doesn't need to worry, though, because my crust doesn't even approach theirs. Still, I'll make this again (and again)!

Fantasma Pizza

pizza dough (my breadmaker dough recipe is at the bottom, but use whatever makes you happy for your dough or crust)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large head of garlic, roasted
1 cup milk (skim or whatever you have on hand)
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 TBSP of thinly sliced fresh basil (or to taste)
olive oil
parmesan or romano, shredded (splurg on the real deal for this - no Kraft allowed!)

Caramelize the onions: Put the onion in a medium saute pan with a TBSP or so of oil and cook over medium heat until the onion is brown but not burned.

Make the white sauce: Gently heat the milk in a saucepan or in the microwave. Keep warm. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add flour and use a whisk to mix it in. Cook for 1-2 minutes. The flour shouldn't change color (this is a white roux). Slowly whisk the milk into the flour mixture. Cook the mixture, whisking continuously, until the sauce boils and is thickened. Remove from heat and add in 8-10 roasted garlic cloves. Put in a blender or food processor and blend to incorporate the garlic cloves. Stir in 1/2 tsp of dried oregano.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Prepare the pizza dough on a pizza pan. Spread a thin layer of the white sauce on the prepared dough. (You may have some white sauce left over.) Top with caramelized onion and basil. Place roasted garlic cloves liberally around the pizza. Finish with grated parmesan sprinkled over entire pizza - as much or as little you desire.

Bake pizza for 15 min at 425 F. Enjoy!

Breadmaker Pizza Dough
For a 1 lb batch of dough

3/4 cup warm water
1 TBSP olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 1/4 cups flour - can be completely all-purpose or a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour (I usually do about 1/2 white whole wheat)
1 tsp yeast

Combine water, oil, sugar and salt in breadmaker pan. Add in flour, and pour yeast on top of the flour. Put in breadmaker on "Pizza Dough" setting or consult your breadmaker's manual for the best setting.


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