Yellow Squash & Chard Naan Bread Pizza

 Do you eat naan bread?  Are you familiar with it?

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I had the experience of trying naan bread for the first time at a wedding for some friends.  At the time I had never eaten Indian food and I do not think I ate it again for several years.  I liked it. In fact I really enjoyed it, but I was a little intimidated to go to an Indian restaurant and order.  I was happy going to a buffet style restaurant where I could pick and choose, but even that was slightly overwhelming.  A couple years later I again had naan bread, but this time it was far more memorable.  The naan bread was being prepared fresh outside in a oven type contraption.  This is one of those food memories I will never forget.  The naan bread was hot and delicious and the garlic naan was even better.

Not long after this experience we got a Trader Joe’s in the area.  Other grocery stores may have sold naan bread, but I never noticed.  I began purchasing naan bread as I liked to heat it slightly and dip in in hummus.  One evening I was home alone and wanted something warm and comfort like to accompany a salad.  Being that I love pizza, I decided to melt cheese on naan bread.  Oh my goodness.  Naan bread pizza as it is called in our home was born.  This is now a routinely requested item for an easy dinner or a warm weekend lunch.

Several years went by before I ever saw a recipe posted in a magazine or on the internet for a similar type item.  Obviously I kicked myself as to why I did not think to make my new found food known.  Have people been making something like this for yard now or is it a new discovery that blends different traditional foods?

One evening, I noticed that our recipe must make list included a flatbread that used naan bread as a base.  The recipe also incorporated several seasonal summer ingredients.  I planned to try corn, squash, and green onion flatbread from the April 2014 Cooking Light.  However on the evening I went to make the meal, I realized I had already used all but 1 green onion and all the corn had been grilled.  As I browsed the contents of the refrigerator, I noticed a 1/2 bunch of chard that needed to be used.  Though I still want to try the original recipe one day, the result from what I hand on hand was a perfect summer pizza.

Yellow Squash & Chard Naan Bread Pizza       

1/2 bunch of chard, washed and chopped

1 yellow squash, washed and chopped

1/2 onion, sliced (I had 1 green sliced as in as well)

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 cup Mozzerella cheese, sliced or shredded

1 piece of Naan bread per person

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I used the frozen Trader Joe naan bread, so as my chard, onion, and yellow squash were sautéing in a skillet, I heated some olive oil and lightly heated the naan bread as well.  Doing this helped to make a crispier base for the pizza.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a skillet over medium high heat, sauté chard, onions, and yellow squash until chard is lightly wilted and yellow squash is soft and starting to brown.  Transfer naan bread to a pizza stone or baking sheet and cover with the green mixture.  Top with mozzarella cheese and place in oven until cheese melts to desired doneness.

Though the flavors of this naan bread pizza are not Indian.  I enjoy naan bread and it makes a great quick and easy pizza dough.  Luckily I am no longer intimidated by Indian restaurants and am able to enjoy Indian style food at home and out.

Enjoy.

Printable Recipe here IMG_3085IMG_3086

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pimento Cheese

It’s a southern thing.

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I remember having pimento cheese as a child and yes it was the completely processed type, not the type mom made from scratch and I liked it.  Orange and creamy with little red bits in it.  It is not a food that has been a staple in my life by any means as I have probably gone years without it, but every now and then I get a craving.  I always enjoyed it when I have had it.  I like it on crackers, on a sandwich with cucumber, or as a treat in a grilled sandwich.

As I have decreased the processed foods in our house for the last several years I have not given in the the craving for pimento cheese.  However, I recently got that craving again after having been out with some friends and they ordered an appetizer that included pimento cheese. Pimento cheese as an appetizer was new to me.  Indeed I grew up in the south, but I do not recall having it as anything other than an alternative to peanut butter, tuna, or deli meats for lunch.

Well the appetizer was unique in that not only was the pimento cheese clearly not completely processed and might have even been fresh made as I could make out the pieces of shredded cheese.  This cheesy concoction was paired with guacamole and called Double Dip.  Brilliant! Take a southern staple and add an adored mexican staple put them together on a tortilla.  Ta da whether created to appeal to different people who frequent the restaurant, or to expand people’s taste our food and our area have blended to cultural foods together.  Love it!

So now the craving for pimento cheese was only teased because double dip was an appetizer and not a well balanced meal I ordered all for myself, though the thought has crossed my mind in the last few days.  It would make a nice colorful meal for me – cheese, avocado, corn chips… I could think of worse.

Wanting to satisfy the craving, I began researching recipes.  I kept finding recipes that included Dijon mustard and fresh garlic.  I love garlic but my first attempt at homemade pimento cheese left me with a bitter bite of minced garlic, not the flavor I wanted.  So I combined a couple of recipes and came up with something that very much resembles the flavor from the restaurant and the flavor of the pimento cheese I grew up with.

Pimento Cheese

Ingredients

8 oz Sharp White Cheddar cheese, shredded
3 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
3 oz Pimentos
1/4 tsp Paprika
1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
6 Drops Hot Sauce (Texas Pete)
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions
1. Place cream cheese in a glass bowl and allow to sit out until room temperature. This will make ease at mixing all ingredients. You can microwave cream cheese for about 10-15 seconds. The softer the cream cheese the easier to mix.
Cream cheese mixes best and blends to a creamy consistency if whipped with electric mixer for a few minutes.
Add shredded cheese to cream cheese and mix well.
Add pimentos to the cheese mixture. There is no need to drain, but do not allow too much liquid to mix with the cheeses.
Add all seasonings and mix to taste. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator.
Note if using for sandwiches this makes approximately 4 – 6 servings. For appetizer or small bites it can feed more.

Pimento Cheese Recipe print out

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Chicken Broccoli Mac & Cheese with Bacon

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The apple does not fall far from the tree and in the case a smile comes across my face as I think about it.  I think as parents we face a lot of challenges in trying to ensure we raise good eaters.  Good eaters can be a term to describe a variety of types of people.  Someone who is not picky, someone who eats healthy, or to some the individual who cleans their plate.  However you chose to define it, as a dietitian, mom,  and self proclaimed foodie, I never thought about or worried about ” what if my kid will not eat it.”  I am not sure why as I think about food constantly, so why during those months of breast feeding Little Miss Mixture was I not concerned?  Here I was given her some of the best nutrition she could have to start her life and what if she refuses to eat the food I actually make.

 

Well I just have to sigh and admit I am glad I never stressed over that and still continue not to for the most part.  Don’t get me wrong Little Miss Mixture is a kid and at times there is no rhyme or reason to what she will or will not eat.  And yes she loves snack food and junk food, but then again that could be another inherited trait, so I cannot fault her.  I can only guide her as I guide myself to balance healthy meals, snacks, and treats as well.

As I referenced in my about me, I have always been a recipe ripper, collector, etcetera,  in the modern world of today that would be a blog reader, recipe pinner.  Little Miss Mixture has developed these habits early as well.  She is constantly looking over my shoulder when I am reading magazines or looking at stuff and commenting on how that looks good.  Typically she refers to sweets first but on occasion it has been pretty much anything.  She might be more of a food gawker than myself as her comments are directly related to the food pictures rather than the recipes.  But time will tell.

Recently we had time to kill between activities and we were looking through a new Cooking Light magazine.  As usual Little Miss Mixture had quite a bit to say, but I noticed she was not just referring to the pictures but rather reading all the recipe titles and letting me know I should make that.  As the day went on and she referenced a couple of the recipes when I began speaking about our evening meal, I realized she had given me a great challenge.  Rather than ripping and pinning and never actually making the items, I would create a “to try list.”  This is actually not my first attempt at these as I have made list in the past, but I feel as if this time I might be more accountable if I publish it.

While I am working on organizing the list into categories I am going to share the first recipe Little Miss Mixture requested – Chicken Broccoli Mac & Bacon.  A one pot skillet meal which is perfect for a weeknight. At times I am not sure what intrigues LIttle Miss Mixture as she has been known to be the typical kid getting Mac & Cheese at a restaurant or trying something such as calamari for her entree.  In this case I knew what caught her eye – Bacon.  Little Miss Mixture loves bacon and will in fact try anything with it.  Thus the night she ordered bacon wrapped dates off the menu.  The dates were great and enjoyed by all but she did not order the appetizer because she likes dates.  In fact she is not a huge fan but eats them without realizing in some snacks and smoothies.

So here it goes.  I made Chicken Broccoli Mac & Cheese with Bacon early one day as our schedule was busy.  I found it easy to prepare in advance up until the last step.  This also allowed me to taste as I went and enhance the seasoning as I have found lot of cooking light recipes to be very good, but I also have found some to be too bland for our taste.  With the new recipes as I try them I will also include how they were accepted – will they be added to our recipe book or not.

Chicken Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

8 oz. uncooked noodles (original recipe calls for elbow. I used whole grain rotini)

1 head organic broccoli

3 slices bacon

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken cut into 1” pieces

½ tsp sea salt

1 Tbsp. garlic

3/4 tsp. tumeric

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 ¼ cups milk

1 cup chicken stock

¼ cup plus 1 tsp. flour

6 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Prepare your ingredients – wash and cut the florets off the broccoli head. Shred your cheese, mince your garlic, and cut chicken into pieces.

2.Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add broccoli to pot during last 2 minutes. Drain.

3. While pasta is cooking, place bacon in oven proof skillet over medium high and cook about 4 minutes on each side, or until browned. Remove from pan to reserve for later, leaving drippings in the pan.

4. Add chicken to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes. Then add the garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Add turmeric, garlic powder, and black pepper and cook an additional minute, stirring frequently.

5. Combine ½ tsp. salt, milk, stock and flour and whisk together. Add milk mixture to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Add pasta and broccoli to the pan and sprinkle with 2 oz of shredded cheese. Stir to ensure all items are coated.

*If serving immediately you will want to turn the broiler on high at this time and proceed to step # 6. If preparing ahead of time refer to step # 7.

6. Sprinkle remaining cheese over dish and crumble bacon into pieces and sprinkle over top as well. Place ovenproof skillet in the oven and broil until cheese melts and begins to brown. Serve and enjoy.

7. Cover skillet and refrigerate until 30 minutes before ready to serve. Remove skillet and allow to come to room temperature on stovetop over a low burner. Meanwhile preheat oven to broil. Once casserole is warm sprinkle with remaining cheese and crumble the reserved bacon and distribute on top as well. Place in oven to broil until cheese melts about 3 minutes.

Chicken Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

This recipe was adapted from Cooking Light

We had mixed reviews on this meal.  It was good but not great.  My version above increases the turmeric, as well as adds additional garlic and some pepper.  The meal could have used more flavor still.  I think it was better received the first night.

I am working on finding a graphic and a creating a scale regarding the recipes.  In the meantime this was probably a could make again, but no one is requesting it as a weekly menu item yet.  Maybe with a few more tweaks it could become a family favorite.

 

 

 

Shrimp Pesto Pizza

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I love pizza and creating unique and different pizzas has been a passion for some time. I usually think about what will go on the pizza or what type I will make, but many times I just find small amounts of vegetables and foods that need to be eaten and toss them onto the pizza dough.  Sometimes this is how the best recipes are created.

About 15 years ago, I had my first pesto based pizza. My first pesto pizza was more basic than this as I remember it had mushrooms and possibly tomatoes.  The Shrimp Pesto Pizza is one I have been making in our house for a while.  I began making my own pizza years ago with the pre made doughs that could be purchased such as Boboli and Mama Mary’s.  Nowadays I purchase a pre made dough at Trader Joe’s, Earthfare, or Whole Foods.  On occasion I have made my own dough, but I would rather focus on the toppings to make the pizza my own than the dough, and who has time to make the dough fresh each time they want pizza.

Shrimp Pesto Pizza

1 pre made pizza dough, or equivalent recipe ready to use

1/2 cup Pesto

1/2 cup peppers, chopped (orange, yellow, red or a combination)

6 mushrooms, coarsely chopped or sliced

1/2 cup onions, chopped

1/2 cup pineapple

1 cup shrimp, precooked and cleaned

olive oil

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Your pizza dough will cook best on a hot pizza stone.  I preheat oven for about 30 minutes with the pizza stone in it.  Then remove stone once your dough is rolled and ready to pre bake.

2. . Sauté pepper, mushrooms, and onions in olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add shrimp and pineapple continue until lightly golden on edges.

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3. While toppings are being sautéed. Roll out pizza dough and precook on pizza stone In a 425 degree oven until it begins to brown in spots.

4. Remove pizza dough from oven and spread about 1/2 cup pesto sauce on dough.  Spread sautéed toppings evenly over pizza dough.  And cover with cheese.

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5. Return to oven and cook about 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starts to bubble.  Allow to cool for a minute.  Slice and enjoy.

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Last Friday I had the time to sauté the toppings, but this pizza is just as tasty with raw veggies as well.

Shrimp Pesto Pizza  This link will allow you to print the recipe without the entire post.

Want to best and freshest Pesto – use this easy to make recipe.

 

Simple and Stunning

Isn’t that what every girl wants to hear?

Tomato Mozzarella

Unfortunately the compliment was not exactly toward me.  It was referring to the above pictured salad.  Not exactly the compliment I was expecting, but I will take it.

It is not quite tomato season, but there is nothing better than a simple salad during the peak of the season when the tomatoes are bursting with flavor.  In my first trip of the season to a local farmers market, I got a little ahead of myself.  I knew the tomatoes were not perfect, but seeing the fresh herbs ready for planting and some tomatoes that actual had color and a couple varieties, I could not resist.

I enjoy cooking, but I am most happy with an easy fresh meal that does not require twenty plus ingredients and a laundry list of steps requiring I begin the meal two hours before we want to eat.

This salad is in fact simple and can be stunning with a variety of tomatoes or with the national colors of its country’s origin scattered or stacked on a plate.  Perfect for a weeknight meal or a dinner party.  This salad is comprised of 5 simple ingredients.  Though consider the freshness and quality of your ingredients as that will have an impact on the overall flavor.  The salad can be made in a variety of ways, but here is my version.

Tomato Mozzarella Salad   (Serves 2-4)

2-3 Large Tomatoes

1 Lb. Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella

4-5 Fresh Basil Leaves

Olive OIl

Balsamic Vinegar

Ground Black Pepper

 

Cut the tomatoes and mozzarella in 1/2″ thick slices.  Wash, dry and cut or tear basil leaves into 2″ inch strips.  I prefer the basil to be manageable to eat rather than serving the entire leaf.

Tomato Thick Slices

 

Mozzarella

The salad can be put together on individual plates or one serving platter.  Drizzle the plates/ platter with olive oil.  Just enough to provide a light base.  Assemble your salad starting with tomato then mozzarella.

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I throw a few basil strips amongst the layers, ensuring the top layer has some as well.  Build the salad to your desired height (typically 3 alternating layers).  Drizzle with a small amount more of olive oil.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Finish the salad with some fresh ground pepper.  Serve and enjoy.