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Pizza with Shrimp and Pesto is totally the Besto!

What?  I totally speak Spanish.  I’m serious!  haha  Sorry, I’m just in a cheeky mood(not *those* cheeks), I guess–must be the heat.  LOL  This recipe has a bit of a history….WAY  (Ok, maybe not WAY…just *way*) back when, I lived in Minneapolis, right near Loring Park and the Walker Art Museum…I loved my neighborhood.  I loved that it was close to Uptown, and close to Downtown…and one of the restaurants I used to *Really* love was the Green Mill Too on Hennepin Avenue in Uptown.  I swear, you have not lived until you’ve tried their pizza, or had drinks at the Oyster Bar!  :D   If you are interested in their story, you can find more info here: The Green Mill Too.  Anyway, back to the food!  One of my absolute favorite things to order was their extremely deep dish shrimp and pesto pizza…SO freaking good.  I mean, even better than SO freaking good!  So, I had to start making my own here, since the last time I checked, we still don’t have a Green Mill ’round these parts.  Sigh.  Maybe one day. 

shrimp and pesto pizza

My version doesn’t have the extreme deep dish crust, but I think you’ll find that it’s darned good anyway. ;)

Ingredients:

1 pizza crust (use you favorite recipe, adding garlic powder, basil and oregano to the dough, and be sure to sprinkle your pan with cornmeal before placing tossed crust onto it)
1 cup (more or less according to taste) pizza sauce (stir all ingredients and allow to meld for 2-3 hours):

-4 ounces (100 grams) tomato paste
-1 cup water (more for a thinner sauce)
-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
-garlic powder to taste
-dehydrated onion to taste
-salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
-1 tablespoon oregano
-1 tablespoon basil
-1 teaspoon fennel
2/3 cup pesto sauce (process everything in a food processor until fairly uniform):

 

-4 cloves garlic
-1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (to toast pine nuts, just toss them in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and aromatic)
-1 large bunch basil (by large, I mean about 2 cups leaves), stemmed
-1 large bunch parsley, stemmed
-1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
-salt and cracked black pepper to taste
-extra virgin olive oil to taste

1-2 cups grated mozzarella cheese to taste
1 pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined, brushed with olive oil

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 500ºF (260ºC).
Par-bake pizza crust for 5-7 minutes.
Spread sauce over crust.
Sprinkle pesto over sauce.
Sprinkle grated cheese over this.
Now arrange the shrimp.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through.

Purple Beans and Pork Roast

I’m so sorry for the lengthy time in between posts…things have been crazy busy around the canary abode of late…and…something tragic happened to my laptop.  :(   My darling son decided it was thirsty, and poured a glass of water into the keyboard.  Can you just hear it sizzling and crackling from there?  Yes.  It was completely destroyed in the incident.  The worst thing about this, of course, is all of the photos that I haven’t uploaded either to Flickr or Snapfish have been lost…all the videos we’ve shot of the kids….(I know–I should have backed them up)  Terribly terribly sad.  And to add insult to injury, the pc is in my bedroom–not exactly accessible to someone who spends most of her waking moments in the kitchen/living area…so posting has been very limited for me until I can get a new laptop.  Today I’ll try and post at least two recipes, for even though I haven’t been able to post, I’ve still been cooking and clicking away on my camera!  :)   First of all, the purple beans…I was so thrilled to find them at my organic grocer!  I mean, how cool are THEY?!  The kids might even eat them–I mean, come on.  They’re purple!  So I thought, lightly steam and add just a drizzle of evoo, lemon juice, salt and pepper….but, much to my dismay, while steaming, they turned green, with purpley spots, so that they looked like regular old green beans past their prime.  Sigh.  So much for that.  They were pretty though…I think the next time, though, I’d toss them into a salad raw, celebrate their beauty and crunchy goodness just as they are.

purple beans

See?  Pretty, huh?  Just don’t cook them.  LOL 

The pork roast is something I had all the time growing up….Good old fashioned comfort food.  And while it wouldn’t be considered gourmet, it is definitely delicious, and makes a fabulous gravy, too.

pork roast

Ingredients:

1 (3 pound/1 1/2 kilo) pork roast
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 packet onion soup mix (I use Knorr)
cracked black pepper to taste
——————————-
1 cup flour or cornstarch slurry to thicken gravy

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 325ºF (160ºC).
Place roast in a large oven proof roaster with a lid.
Drizzle with vinegar, then sprinkle with onion soup packet and pepper.
Cover and bake for 5 hours.
Remove roast and cover with foil.
Heat juices to boiling and whisk in flour or cornstarch slurry, stirring constantly until thickened.
Adjust seasonings.

Peppers and Leeks and Onions…Oh my! Quiche for da hubs…

In our house, rare is the day that everyone at the table likes the food I’ve prepared…Each person has their own special quirks, likes and dislikes…myself included.  On quiche days, however, everyone tends to be happy…I make at least 2, sometimes 3 or more…One of our favorites is my Spinach and Feta Quiche, which has to be made every time. lol  There are several ways to make quiche, the fillings can be as varied as the imagination permits…this time, we’ve got an abundance of peppers, onions and leeks that were beckoning me at the fruit and vegetable vendor….Since I’ve been making a lot of kebabs lately, I thought maybe a change of menu was in order…lol  And so, this time, I threw it all together in a quiche.

vegetable quiche

Ingredients:

crust for one pie
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks (reserve whites for another purpose)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 of 1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 of 1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 small-medium red onion, minced
1 leek, white parts only, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup chopped ham
2/3 cup Gouda cheese, shredded

Preparation:

Par-bake crust at 425ºF (200ºC) for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk eggs with some salt and pepper until frothy.
Add in cream and milk and continue whisking until fully combined.
Add vegetables, ham and cheese and stir to combine.
Pour egg mixture into prepared crust.
Bake at 425ºF (200ºC) for about 45 minutes, or until just set in the center (it may still jiggle a little).
Allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Crispy Fried Chicken, Parmesan Smashed Potatoes and Creamy Cucumber Salad

Now that’s a summer menu! :)   Fried chicken…one of the quintessential American summer foods…I like to make mine full of herbs and spices, and “double dipped” for extra crispness. The Parmesan smashed potatoes make a delicious addition to the chicken, and the salad…the salad is something my mom used to make all time during the summer months…cool, creamy, crunchy and simple….a nice alternative to coleslaw.

chicken and potatoes

Crispy Fried Chicken:

Ingredients:

2 pounds (1 kilo) chicken parts (skin on, bone in)
1 quart buttermilk
sea salt
pepper
garlic powder
————-
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion flakes
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1-2 teaspoons paprika
salt and pepper
oil for frying

Preparation:

Combine seasonings and buttermilk in a large bowl.
Place chicken pieces in the buttermilk mixture.
Cover and refrigerate several hours.
Combine flour and remaining ingredients (except oil) in a deep plate.
Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, then buttermilk mixture, then again in the flour mixture.
Reserve on a plate and repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
Heat enough oil (medium heat) in a deep, heavy bottomed skillet to come halfway up the chicken.
Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
Carefully add chicken pieces to hot oil (skin side down), taking care not to overcrowd.
Fry about 10 minutes per side, or until juices run clear (reducing heat if necessary).
Drain on paper towels, then place chicken on a baking sheet and place in the oven.

potatoes

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes:

Ingredients:

4-6 potatoes, skin on, well washed
1 container plain yogurt (6 ounce, 125 grams)
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
roasted garlic to taste
onion flakes to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
chopped parsley

Preparation:

In a fairly large pot, bring potatoes to a boil.
Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.
Cook 45 minutes, or until the potato easily falls when a knife is inserted in the center.
Drain and add remaining ingredients.
Smash using a potato masher, breaking up the skin and combining the ingredients thoroughly.

cucumber salad

Creamy Cucumber Salad:
Ingredients:

1-2 large cucumbers (to yield about 3 cups)
1 medium onion
water
salt
3 tablespoons mayo or Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons dill
garlic powder to taste
salt and pepper

Preparation:

Soak cucumbers (sliced) and onions (sliced) in salted water for 2 hours (this reduces bitterness).
Drain.
In a large bowl, whisk together mayo/yogurt, milk and seasonings until smooth.
Add cucumbers and toss to combine.
Allow to rest in refrigerator at least 1 hour and serve.

Nutty Basmati Pilaf

Recently, my blogger friend, Elly, did a five question interview with me. One of the questions she asked was, “What would your husband or kids say is their favorite thing you make?”  It was then that I realized that I hadn’t posted one of my hubs’ favorite recipes yet!  Whaaaa?  How did that happen?  Hubs loves….no…*loves*  Middle Eastern food, and one of the things he asks for fairly frequently is this rice.  It is such a simple preparation, but so incredibly tasty.  You can change up the nuts, add dates, lamb or whatever else to suit your own tastes, but this is the basic version of the recipe. :)

pilaf

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups basmati rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin (for gluten free, as always be sure all of your spices are certified gf)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup nuts (pistachios, cashews, slivered almonds), roughly chopped
salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (to garnish)
sumac to garnish

Wash rice in a sieve under cold running water until water runs clear.
Place rice in a bowl with fresh cold water, and allow to rest 30 minutes.
Drain well.
Heat oil in a larger sautee pan, and lightly sautee the onion and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice, cumin, cumin seeds, coriander, cardamom and bay leaf.
Toss rice to coat well with the seasonings, and lightly sautee 2 minutes.
Add broth, and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low.
Allow to cook 10 minutes. (Do not lift lid.)
Remove from heat and allow to sit 5 minutes before lifting lid.
Fluff rice with a fork, then add nuts and cilantro and toss to combine.
Garnish with cilantro and sprinkle with sumac.

Happy Birthday to ME!

Well folks, yesterday was my birthday…yep…the big 2-5.  (again)  What?  I am very good at being 25.  I have several years experience to prove it, too.  LOL  Ok, who am I kidding?  The clock is turning so quickly it’s a blur.  So what better way to drown my age-ly sorrows—I mean CELEBRATE! than with a triple layer whipped truffle filled and frosted cake with chocolate ganache and pastry cream pearls (courtesy of my dear sister-in-law, Marta)?  The answer is simple.  There is no better way.  :)   In all seriousness, I had a great day yesterday..my family and friends spoiled me with lovely massages, shopping time, Italian take-out, flowers and wonderful gifts.  I even got a photo of Nicholas Cage and “me.”  (so what if it was photoshopped?!  I can now say I’ve walked the red carpet with Nick.  We shall now be known as “Nik squared.” LOL)  I am a very lucky girl.  :D

truffle cake

canarygirl




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