Batter Licker

April 15, 2011

collard greens, black beans, and potato pizza with parsley pesto

On Sunday each week, I compile a grocery list, taking careful inventory of the contents in my refrigerator and pantry and cross-referencing them with the ever-growing list of recipes I want to try. But before I add ingredients to my list and recipes to my meal plan for that week, I force each recipe through the reality filter. On a week night, after a full day at work, a workout and possibly laundry or working a shift at Bar Method, I can’t always muster the energy or the patience it takes to cook a preparation-intensive meal and have it not be ready to eat until 9 p.m. Earlier in the week on a Monday or Tuesday, I can usually make it work. But come Wednesday and Thursday, fast and easy take priority. So on those nights, I shove my desire to innovate and experiment aside, and embrace familiar, fast recipes that allow me to eat dinner well before 9 p.m. Enter pizza.

While pizza is often associated with the unhealthy varieties featuring at least a half-inch thick layer of cheese and loads of fatty meats, they don’t have to be that way at home. And they don’t have to be boring either. You would be surprised how far a little dusting of cheese can go when you get a little creative with wholesome yet richly flavored ingredients. (more…)

December 25, 2010

pizza dough cinnamon rolls with vanilla-espresso cream cheese glaze

Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 2 6-inch pans (about 12 mini rolls 2 inches in diameter and 1 inch deep)

1 package Whole Foods fresh pizza dough (about the size of a softball)
8 Tbsp. butter, divided and softened
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
flour for rolling out dough

Remove dough from refrigerator, cover lightly with a towel, and let rise for 60 to 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F, and butter bottom and sides of two 6- or 7-inch round baking pans with 1 Tbsp. softened butter per pan.

Sprinkle counter with flour, and roll out dough into a rectangle until 1/4-inch thick. Spread 4 Tbsp. softened butter over entire surface of dough. Sprinkle sugar and salt evenly over the butter, and then sprinkle cinnamon generously over the sugar.

For mini rolls, tightly roll the long end of the rectangular dough over itself, and pinch end of dough against body of dough to seal, using a little warm water on your fingertips to seal the edges as needed. (If you prefer larger rolls, roll the short end over itself, and seal in the same fashion.)

Using a pastry cutter or very sharp knife, slice cinnamon log into 1-inch thick rolls. Do ahead: cinnamon rolls can wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen at this point; defrost in refrigerator one day prior to baking.

Place rolls in buttered round baking pans, leaving a little space between each roll to give it room to rise. Top each cinnamon roll with a small bit of softened butter, evenly distributing the remaining 2 Tbsp. softened butter between the rolls.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until top of rolls is only slightly golden. Remove from oven, and top warm rolls with Vanilla-Espresso Cream Cheese Glaze (recipe below). Serve immediately.

Vanilla-Espresso Cream Cheese Glaze

4 oz. cream cheese or neufchatel cheese (lower in fat and calories, but works equally well in frosting), softened
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. finely ground espresso or coffee beans

Mix together all ingredients until combined. Zap in microwave for 15 seconds if needed to further soften the cream cheese and make the mixture more pourable. Spread over warm cinnamon rolls.

November 5, 2010

roasted butternut squash, caramelized onion, pepitas and arugula pizza

Filed under: pizza,vegan — Tags: , , , , , — Kristen @ 3:10 pm

I bet you’ve been wondering what I did with the extra butternut squash puree from the gnocchi I made a week and a half ago. And if you weren’t wondering, then you didn’t notice that the pictures clearly contained way more than one pound of cubed squash. In fact, I roasted not one but two whole pounds of the orange winter veggie, as I have at least five other uses for leftover roasted butternut squash, including lasagna. And, thanks to some inspiration I derived from a lunch with Bill at Google’s infamously foodie friendly cafeteria almost a year ago, pizza has become one of those uses.

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Yes, I could have made my own dough and incorporated the squash into it, but that’s a little too close to a gnocchi remix for me. Instead, I froze the roasted butternut squash puree for a week, then defrosted it, drained excess liquid, and used it as a pizza sauce.

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Spread over the rolled-out dough, the puree itself tastes so rich and luscious that the pizza doesn’t need any crazy or heavy toppings. (more…)

June 13, 2010

open-faced quesadilla with steak, roasted red peppers, summer squash, and blue cheese

Here in law-law land, discrimination is frowned on. So if the sandwich can be open faced or crostini-fied and the pizza can be stuffed or calzoned, then it’s only fair that the quesadilla have an alternative, more revealing serving method of its own. The open-faced quesadilla proudly showcases its ingredients by allowing meats and veggies that are normally trapped in tortilla to parade around in their vibrant colors, which makes for a more appetizing dish. And it’s healthier too.

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One less tortilla means two things: less calories in your quesadilla without eliminating any of the good stuff inside; and less concern about indulging in a second round. To make it even healthier but no less flavorful, you can use a stronger cheese but much less of it (hello, blue cheese!), and then spread a layer of Greek yogurt on the tortilla. As it bakes, the yogurt develops a texture that’s firmer than normal but still creamy like a soft cheese, and retains a subdued tang that goes well with the sweet smokiness of roasted peppers and caramelized onions and the buttery sweetness of summer squash.

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The blue cheese puts a twist on the otherwise more traditional steak-peppers-onions combination. Just a few crumbles of the sharp, salty, yet creamy cheese bring much more flavor than handfuls of cheddar can muster. Bonus: it allows you to use up the sad little clump of blue cheese that’s been sitting – unloved – in the corner of your fridge from that one time several weeks ago, when you splurged on off-season pears because you just had to have a gorgonzola and pear salad … five days in a row … and then, having tired of blue-veined cheeses, you relegated the poor chunk to the back of the fridge. (more…)

February 17, 2010

prosciutto and fig pizza swirls

Filed under: pizza — Tags: , , , — Kristen @ 3:11 am

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From the simple dough-sauce-cheese combo to toppings galore, what’s not to like about pizza? Pizza offers incredible flexibility and can accommodate everyone from the most adventurous eaters on down the foodie totem pole to the blasphemous cheese-haters picky eaters.

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Pizza is also really easy to make at home if you buy fresh dough from your local pizzeria or Whole Foods, and then you won’t be limited as to toppings or sauces. Big fan of a standard Margherita pizza but want to use heirloom tomatoes? Now’s your chance! Want to transform left over barbecued chicken from the weekend into a different-but-delicious dish that won’t leave your family groaning about eating left overs? Make barbecued chicken pizza – or any type of pizza with chicken on it, for that matter.

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So here I am, pontificating the merits of pizza as though you weren’t already pizza’s biggest fan. But let me tell you, as delicious as six slices a slice can be straight out of the oven, or after a night of embracing your inner lush, or for breakfast even after it sat on the counter all night (I know – unsafe practice; but I don’t know anyone who has ever gotten sick from it), pizza has never been quite so irresistible as it is in the rolled-up and sliced form of a pizza swirl.
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