Pita Pizzas with Sautéed Apples and Bacon

Phew!

I just finished writing six articles for a soon to be launched nutrition website and my brain is so fried that I’m having difficulty spelling three letter words. So, you’ll have to forgive me if this post doesn’t quite make sense. It’s a good thing today’s recipe was a breeze. Seriously! It’s so simple a monkey could’ve done it… preferably while wearing a full body hair net.
Granny Smith Apples and Red Onion

Pita pizzas are so simple and homey. They saved my life in university.

These adorable little pizzas are cozy food. The kind of food you eat in sock feet while watching reruns of The West Wing… okay so, maybe that’s just me. These pita pizzas are topped with sautéed apples and red onions with a sprinkling of bacon and cheddar cheese. Once again that magical salty, sweet flavor has stolen my heart. My beau was hesitant at first, because he doesn’t really like the texture of cooked apples (applesauce is his arch nemesis) but, the pizza was sporting a few pieces of bacon so, he couldn’t say no. It’s against his religion.
Sautéed Apples and Red Onion

By the way, don’t leave the bacon out. Mmmm! Sweet, salty and smokey all at the same time! These pizzas have it all. My beau loved them so much he told me not to put them on the blog; he decided they were too good to share, but I’m not one to deprive others of good food so, have at it!

Apples and Red Onion

Now that I’ve completely run out of words, I’m going to leave it here to avoid drooling on my keyboard.
Pita Pizza with Sautéed Apples and Bacon

Try this pita pizza. It’s totally delicious, quick and tasty!  Like totally!

Oh gosh! I’ve turned into a Valley girl… I gotta go!

Enjoy!

Pita Pizzas with Sautéed Apples and Bacon: Makes 2 pizzas
2 pitas
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 granny smith apple, cored and sliced
½ red onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced (divided)
¾ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup demerara sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
pinch of cloves
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp crushed chili pepper flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°
Place the onion and apple in a large bowl.
Add sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, chili pepper flakes, salt and 2 cloves of garlic. Toss to coat.
Melt butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Add apple and onion mixture and sauté until the apples are tender. About five minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Brush the pitas with the rest of the olive oil and sprinkle with the remainder of the garlic.
Top pitas with apples and onions and sprinkle with cheese and bacon.
Bake in the oven for five minutes then turn the oven to broil (keeping a close eye on them) for 1-2 minutes.
Slice into quarters and serve.

Thin Crust Genoa Salami Pizza

Whenever I ask my beau what he would like for dinner the answer is inevitably pizza and I can honestly say I am not always happy to oblige.  If this surprises you I challenge you to try eating an unreasonable amount of pizza for the next three years and see how you feel about it. Every now and then, however, my beau and I are on the same page and experience a mutual craving for that classic Italian pie.

Red Pepper

To me, Friday is the perfect pizza night. As a child my family never really ate takeout that much, but on the odd Friday, and it was always a Friday for some reason, my parents would spring for a pizza and it would be like Christmas came early.

Genoa Salami

In honor of this beloved childhood tradition I whipped up a pizza last Friday night. I came across an astounding recipe for a no-rise crust (yes, such a thing does exist) and in mere moments the pizza was dressed and bubbling in the oven.

Pizza

I selected a decadent outfit of chewy Genoa salami, juicy red pepper, bitter-sweet red onions, lush basil leaves and, of course, a hefty helping of shredded mozzarella cheese. After a brief 15-minute stint in the oven dinner was served and I was chowing down on a sumptuous slice in my sock feet in front of Netflix.

Thin Crust Genoa Salami Pizza

The perfect kick-off to a stellar weekend, this thin crust Genoa salami pizza will more than fit the bill.

Pizza Slice

Thin Crust Genoa Salami Pizza: Serves 4

FOR THE CRUST: Adapted from here.

1 package of yeast

1 cup warm water

2 ½ cup all purpose flour

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

TOPPINGS:

1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded

6 slices Genoa salami

½ red bell pepper, sliced

¼ red onion, diced

I cup pizza sauce

6-10 Basil leaves

Sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°

Place water and yeast in a mixing bowl and let stand for 5-10 minutes or until frothy.

Add olive oil to the water yeast combo.

Shift together salt, sugar and flour in a separate bowl.

Using a dough hook attachment, add dry mixture to wet in ½ cup increments until the dough comes together to form a slightly tacky ball.

Remove dough from mixer and lightly knead.

Leave to rest covered by a clean tea towel for ten minutes.

Divide dough in two and stretch one half to fit an 11-inch pizza pan.

Place other half in the fridge for another time or form into a second pizza.

Spread pizza sauce over the dough and sprinkle with chili pepper flakes and ½ the red onion.

Sprinkle with cheese and arrange the salami so it is evenly distributed over the entire pizza.

Top with remaining red onion, red pepper and basil leaves.

Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes rotating halfway through.

When golden and bubbling, remove from the oven and let stand for ten minutes before slicing.

Serve with a sprinkling of fresh ground pepper and a nice cold beer.

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Ah, cheese and bread!  Is there anything better? Nothing can rival the simplicity and the level of comfort a buttery, crisp and gooey grilled cheese affords.  I realize I’ve already sung the praises of this simple snack over the equally glorious Open-Faced Warm Mushroom and Brie sandwich, but I cannot contain my love and admiration for this humble slice of culinary bliss.

Pineapple

When cheese, bread, butter and a hot pan come together magical things happen. Since these simple ingredients and implements are all that is required to make a knock out grilled cheese sandwich, the adaptations are endless. One such creation is this sweet, spicy and sharp number that I like to call the Hawaiian Grilled Cheese.

Caramelized Pineapple

You may remember me telling you my beau discovered a love for pineapple this summer. It all started with this Hawaiian pizza. Then, to break the endless and somewhat daunting parade of Hawaiian pizzas I was badgered to prepare, I created this fruitful take on a plate of nachos. Stir-fries studded with pineapple followed and the fruit has since become a staple in our refrigerator; in fact, we gage how badly we need to go to the grocery store based on our pineapple supply.

Jalapenos

After enduring a day that felt like three, I stumbled home horrifically hangry only to find that my beau was in the same state.  The situation was dire so, I knew I had to pull a rabbit out of my hat and fast. Grilled cheese sandwiches (even fancy ones) require less than 15 minutes prep work and less than 10 minutes cook time; in other words, they are weekday perfection.

Pineapple, Cheese, Ham

I caramelized the last bit of pineapple we had in the fridge, grabbed some ham, cheddar cheese and a jalapeno. I placed the whole mess between two pieces of nutty bread and introduced the happy bundle to buttered hot pan. In mere moments I was declared a hero as the golden brown sandwiches found their way to the table. If only all victories could come this easy and taste as sweet.

Pineapple, Cheese, Ham, Jalapeno

Throw some butter and pan and prepare to rid the world of hangriness one Hawaiian Grilled Cheese at a time

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese: Serves 4

8 slices of multigrain bread

¼ pineapple, sliced

2 tbsp brown sugar

4 tbsp butter, divided

1 tbsp olive oil

1 jalapeno, deseeded and sliced

8 slices of deli ham

1-cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a small pan over medium heat.

Add pineapple and brown sugar and sauté until golden turning once – about 3 minutes per side.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Assemble sandwiches by placing dividing cheese amongst four slices of bread.

Next stack some ham followed by a roughly three slices of pineapple and top with a few jalapeno slices.

Close the sandwich with another slice of bread.

In a large pan heat the rest of the butter and olive oil over medium heat.

Add sandwiches to the pan and fry until golden brown – about 3 minutes per side.

Slide onto a plate and slice diagonally.

Serve immediately with a bowl of piping hot soup.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad

I am back! Hope you guys had wonderful holidays!

Meanwhile after getting a good rest, I left my zone of comfort….

…and look at me! I fried something!

Mango

I never fry anything! I have a deep-frying phobia.

Cucumber

I, like the rest of humanity, happen to love fried food! Anything deep-fried is positively out of this world. I bet if you deep-fried a boot it would taste delicious, but as much as I love these crispy edibles I’m still wary of deep-frying at home. I’m sure it would be a different story if I had a proper deep fryer, but if I had said deep fryer I would also be 300 pounds. So, I figure it’s in my best interest to make deep fat frying as cumbersome as possible. I didn’t even do a legit deep fry for this week’s recipe. It was more of a shallow fry; I couldn’t quite bring myself to add the full amount of oil, guilt was holding me back. This time, I simply borrowed a deep fryer from my friend, it was Waring deep fryer.

No. No way I am buying one myself.

Red pepper

Yes, it was messy and yes, I did fear my kitchen afterwards, but these almond crusted fried shrimp were well worth the grease burns.  I served them atop a mound of spicy mango salad and garnished the whole lot with fresh cilantro and dry-roasted peanuts. The combination of the piping hot shrimp and chilled salad was out of this world. The shrimp was beautifully juicy and it’s breading brought a subtle crunch to the dish.

Red Onion

My beau was adequately impressed with my efforts. He could hardly believe I fried anything. I’m usually a stickler when it comes to nutrition, but I justified the whole exercise by saying it was for the blog. Do you hear that? If your at all interested in the state of your waistline don’t start a food blog, it messes with your logic.

Almond Crusted Shrimp

As deep-frying adventures go this one was fairly uneventful. Shrimp cooks quickly and the breading process with simple and efficient. Salads are always low maintenance, but I will warn you there is a fair amount of chopping involved.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad (II)

Decadently rich and restaurant caliber, Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad is one recipe you’ll be happy to have sitting in your back pocket when all you can think about is expensive takeout. This recipe will subdue those pesky cravings and save you a bundle at the same time.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad: Serves 4

FOR THE SHRIMP

16 shrimp, deveined and shelled with tails on

¼ cup almond meal

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp milk

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups peanut oil

FOR THE SALAD

1 mango, julienned

¼ cucumber, julienned

½ red bell pepper, julienned

¼ red onion, sliced

¼ dry roasted peanuts

½ cup fresh cilantro, torn

DRESSING

4 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp granulated sugar

¼ cup lime juice

1 tsp sambal oelek

1 tbsp fish sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Place veggies, mango and cilantro in a large bowl and toss to combine.

In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

In another small bowl combine ground almonds and salt and pepper.

Combine egg and milk.

One by one douse each shrimp in the egg and milk mixture then roll them in the almond mixture and set aside on a plate.

When each shrimp has been coated heat oil in a large wok until it reaches about 350°

Drop shrimp into the oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown.

Remove from oil and leave to drain on paper towels.

Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.

Divide salad amongst four plates and top with peanuts.

Arrange four shrimp on top of each salad and serve immediately.

Warm Open-Faced Mushroom and Brie Sandwich

Mushrooms, Brie and Arugula

Happy Thanksgiving my fellow canucks!  You will have to forgive my somewhat lackluster display of holiday spirit.  There is not a single Thanksgiving recipe on my blog.  There are some that would be most welcome at any holiday table, but none that exclusively scream Turkey Day.

Mushrooms

To make me feel truly ashamed of myself, the good people over at Tasty Kitchen wrote up a lovely piece on the Canadians on their site and included yours truly. Such a wonderful gesture bestowed on a lazy blogger that has basically been MIA since September. I am trying to adjust to a different lifestyle and juggling two jobs and this blog is an exhausting endeavor, but bare with me, I’ll get this sorted out if it kills me.

Brie

I know I’ve been a horrible tease. I leave, announce I’m back and then I leave again. I realize it will take sometime to rebuild the trust between us dear reader, but I think, in time, we can move past this thoughtlessness and be stronger for it.

Multi-Grain Bread

The first step towards healing is this Warm Open-Face Mushroom and Brie Sandwich. If anyone crossed me and then offered me this tasty treat I would definitely rethink excommunicating them.

Mushrooms, Basil

These days I find myself strapped for time. I often have to hit the kitchen running. Lately, grilled cheese has been a favorite of mine. Easy, quick and wonderfully cost effective.  Give me a bowl of hot tomato soup and gooey grilled cheese on a rainy day and I am one happy camper. This open-faced number is riff on this foul weather classic.

Warm Open-Faced Mushroom Brie Sandwich

This sandwich is not grilled, instead the cheese melts into freshly toasted bread.  It liquifies further still when the cheese is crowned with an avalanche of freshly sautéed mushrooms and garlic. If this weren’t heavenly enough, this gorgeous concoction is completed with a halo of peppery arugula. Serve this bad boy up with a hot bowl of soup and consume with a knife and fork.

Open-Faced Mushroom Brie Sandwich

Simple, satisfying and ready to eat in fifteen minutes flat, this sandwich is the perfect treat after a long draining day. Let’s face it; you’ve clocked way too many hours in the kitchen this weekend. After the excitement of Thanksgiving the Warm Open-Face Mushroom Brie Sandwich is just what the doctor ordered.

Warm Open-Face Mushroom and Brie Sandwich: Serves 2

2 slices of Multi grain Bread

4 tbsp olive oil, divided

2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade

6 slices brie cheese

2 handfuls of arugula

Directions:

Turn your oven to broil.

Brush 2 tbsp of olive oil on both sides of the bread and broil until golden brown flipping halfway through.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté until browned and fragrant.

Remove bread from the oven and immediately place brie on top.

Split the mushrooms amongst the two slices of bread.

Sprinkle with basil.

Top with arugula.

Serve with a piping hot bowl of your favorite soup.

Creamed Sweet Onion with Butter Basil Biscuits

IMG_4380

There now, I wasn’t gone that long, and you all faired very well without me I have no doubt.  I’m pleased to say that I am back, and ready to re-enter the kitchen once again.

Sweet Onion

I’m so glad I took the break; it made me really miss this little food haven of mine.  Now that I am refreshed and have my head somewhat above water, my brain has inundated with so many fantastical food ideas that my head is getting a little noisy.  Confusing for me, but awesome for you!

Thyme

This week’s recipe is actually an adaptation of three recipes out of The Joy of Cooking, the classic jack-of-all-trades cookbook.

Butter

I wouldn’t recommend stringing three recipes together.  It smacks of inexperience if not plain stupidity, but since my common sense evades me more often than I’d like to admit I went ahead with this hair-brained scheme.

Basil Leaves

I am so glad (and relieved) to say against all odds it turned out beautifully.  Sure there were snags, but I am confident I’ve identified the problems and they shouldn’t trouble you if you choose to replicate the recipe.

Basil Chiffonade

The stars of this saucy show are the always-unassuming sweet onion, a few slices of smoky bacon (get the reduced sodium, I read some alarming statistics about North American sodium intake today, and it gave me the willies), and some adorable buttery basil biscuits.

Bacon

Essentially the onions and bacon come together in a creamy thyme spiked sauce, topped with a delightful little biscuit then baked until their tops are an inviting golden brown.

Basil Biscuit Dough

They flavor of these puppies is gorgeously savory.  The onions were so tender they melted on my tongue while the sauce warmed me with soft hints of thyme and a delectable smokiness supplied by the bacon.  I served them alongside I nice roast beef, but honestly I don’t remember a thing about the beef, these gems really stole the show.

Creamed Sweet Onion with Bacon

Perfect for the approaching cold weather and fairly easy to prepare, Creamed Sweet Onion with Buttery Basil Biscuits is the picture of culinary beauty.

Creamed Sweet Onion with Buttery Basil Biscuits

Creamed Sweet Onion with Buttery Basil Biscuits: Serves 4

1 Sweet Onion, halved and sliced

4 strips of bacon

1 tbsp olive oil

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 cup chicken broth

¼ cup white wine

1 tbsp of butter

1 tbsp flour

¼ cup half and half

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450°

In a heavy bottom pot fry bacon over medium heat until crispy.

Remove from pot and leave to cool on a plate lined with paper towel.

Spoon off the bacon grease leaving 2 tbsp worth in the pot.

Add the olive oil to keep the fat from burning and toss in the onions.

Sautee for 2-3 minutes.

Pour in broth and add the two sprigs of thyme.

Bring the mixture up to a boil and reduce heat and leave to simmer covered for 5 minutes.

Once onions are tender add white wine and leave to boil until the liquid is reduced by half.  About 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat.

Whisk in flour until it forms a paste.

Slowly whisk in half and half until combined.  Remove from heat and add to the onion mixture. Stir until thickened.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Spoon into 4 ramenkins and top each with an uncooked biscuit.

Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for ten minutes before serving.

For the Biscuits:

1 ¾ all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

6 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed

¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade

¾ half and half

Directions:

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Add butter and basil.

Cut the butter into the dry mixture using a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles a coarse meal.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the half and half.

Stir until the dough comes together.

Turn dough onto a well-floured surface.

Flatten dough to ½ an inch thickness.

Using a 2 ½ biscuit cutter cut out 12 biscuits.

Curried Cauliflower and Ginger Soup

This week Toronto felt the brisk wind of fall and, although I’m a huge fan of summer, I have to admit I felt somewhat relied.  I’m ready for the humidity to leave and stop wreaking havoc with my hair, I’m ready to not sweat my makeup off while I’m waiting or the bus in the morning and, first and foremost, I’m ready to leave heat stroke behind.

Chickpeas

This summer was like enduring the torments of hell.  I am having trouble recollecting a hotter summer.

Seasoned Chickpeas

Looking back at the recipes I posted over the past four months, I realized how little I actually used the stove.  Fresh produce is glorious and I certainly made the most of nature’s bounty this summer, but I’m ready to get reacquainted with my stove and my always-hilarious bipolar oven (it really keeps me on my toes).

Cauliflower

I’m ready to walk into my apartment with cheeks stinging from the cold and plunk myself down in front of a steaming bowl of soup.  Oh, and I can’t wait to make casseroles again, I adore comfort food and we’re finally approaching its peak season.

Cauliflower Florets

But as with most things I lack patience and yesterday is was a balmy 27° and I still made soup.

Roasted Chickpeas

This Curried Cauliflower and Ginger soup was made for runny noses and numb toes, but, of course, yesterday I suffered from neither affliction.  I may have jumped the gun, but its good to know I have an excellent recipe in my back pocket once ski season hits.  This soup is spicy, aromatic and über comforting.  I have never encountered a soup so capable of warming you from the inside out.  So, as you start to bundle up for the coming bleak months, remember this soup.  Nothing will warm your bones quite like a bowl of this fantastically simple and inexpensive Curried Cauliflower and Ginger soup.

Curried Cauliflower and Ginger Soup

Curried Cauliflower and Ginger Soup: Serves 6

1 head of Cauliflower, cut into florets

1 medium-sized onion, diced

4 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp garam marsala

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp dried chili flakes

1 pinch of cloves

2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup milk (I used 1%)

Salt and pepper to taste

Batch of Curried Roasted Chickpeas

Directions:

Melt butter in a medium-sized dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Add onions and ginger and sauté until the onion is translucent.

Pour in the spices and sauté until fragrant.

Next, place the cauliflower in the pot and add the chicken stock.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 15 minuets or until the cauliflower is tender.

Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender.

Return to heat and add milk and simmer until heated through.

Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.

Serve with crushed roasted chickpeas.

 

Curried Roasted Chickpeas: Serves 4

540 ml can of chickpeas

2 tbsp peanut oil

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp garam marsala

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cumin

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°

Drain and rinse chickpeas and leave to dry for 10-15 minutes.

While chickpeas are draining place all the spices in a small bowl and stir to combine.

Roll chickpeas in paper towel to remove excess moisture.

Place dried chickpeas in a large bowl.

Drizzle the chickpeas with peanut oil and toss with salt, pepper and spices.

Place on a dry cookie sheet and bake for thirty minutes, shaking the pan every ten.

Remove from oven and leave to cool.