Archive for July, 2009

Little Eggplant Alfredo Pizzas

Yesterday afternoon at work I started thinking about what I was going to make for dinner. I’d spent way too much at the store already this week, yet we’d already eaten the things I’d planned. A coworker came up and asked if I like eggplant, and when I said I do, she handed me two of them. I already had one at home, so it was pretty obvious that I should do something involving eggplant, especially after my success at eggplant parm earlier this week.

Before this week I’d only had eggplant disasters. There was the eggplant-as-noodles lasagna which was pretty awful. My sister, coincidentally, had the same experience, completely independent of my own. Before that there was the evil eggplant of doom that always chased Master Higgins in Adventure Island. You can imagine that it’s taken me a long time to warm up to that little plant.

Then I thought about all the Parmesan that I have, and thought of Alfredo sauce. Then I thought of biscuit pizzas. Thus it became:

Little Eggplant Alfredo Pizzas

Biscuits (I made 1/2 batch of this recipe, without the cheddar and thyme, but rolled it out thinner to make 10 biscuits instead of 5. You could make a whole batch for 20 biscuits, though, because there was plenty of alfredo leftover)

For Alfredo sauce:
1 eggplant, diced
1-2 cups Parmesan or asiago cheeses, grated
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1-2 cups milk
2 tablespoon flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

To build your pizzas:
2 tomatoes, chopped
Pepperoni
Extra grated cheese
Other things that sound good- you could do olives, fresh mozzarella, etc…

Cook the biscuits until they are just on the verge between underdone and done. Remove from oven. If they’re really puffy, squish them down just a little.

Throw 3 tablespoons butter into a large pot and add garlic and eggplant (you could throw in some onion, too… and I threw in some smoked paprika).

Stir frequently until the eggplant is tender. Create a little empty space in the middle of the pot and add the rest of the butter. Once that is mostly melted, add the flour and stir. Add the milk. Stir frequently until it is getting thickened.

Remove from heat and let cool until no longer bubbling. Add the cheese a little at a time. I used 2 cups, but mine was very very finely grated and fluffy. If yours is more dense, 1 cup would probably do.

Building your pizza:

Put a pepperoni in the middle of each biscuit (or more, if you love them like Zach does)

Add a spoonful of the eggplant Alfredo.

Top with tomatoes, etc, and then grate a little extra cheese on top if you wish.

Stick back in the oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melty.

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Caprise Salad

Caprise salad

This is such a yummy, fresh, and cool summer lunch or dinner side dish.
Alter the amounts to suite your needs and taste.

Tomatoes, roughly chopped
Salt
Olive oil
Fresh mozzarella, roughly chopped
Basil, chopped fine
Balsamic reduction (recipe below)

Put the tomatoes in a strainer and sprinkle generously with salt. Let sit for a few minute, giving them a stir every once in a while. This will help them not make everything too runny.

Then coat them lightly with olive oil.

Layer the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil on a plate, and drizzle with the balsamic.

Balsamic Reduction:
1 c Balsamic vinegar
2 shallots, diced (or use 1/2 small onion)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Put ingredients in a small pot and boil, stirring occasionally, until it is starting to thicken up, and had reduced in amount.

Caprise salad

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Beer Boiled Beans

When I am at a loss as to what I should make for lunch for the week, I usually throw some beans in a pot and heat them up with spices. This week I managed to make some that I think were actually blog worthy- as long as you really like beans.

Beer Boiled Beans

Olive oil
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1/2-1 beer (I used Newcastle. I think a nice brown nutty beer will work best.)

Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and add in the onion and garlic. Cook until golden.

Add the beans, beer, liquid smoke, and paprika. Boil until they are more chili consistency, and less soup like.

Add the tomatoes and remove from heat.

Some days I sprinkled a little grated cheese on top.

You could also add a pepper or some chili powder, if you like things hot.

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Pudding Bars

chocolate pudding meringue shortcake bars

The other day I started craving the custard and pudding pizza from Pizza Inn. Actually, I’m still sort of craving it, because what I eventually made wasn’t the same. It was GREAT, but different.

So for those of you who are not craving custard and pudding pizza from Pizza Inn, this should satisfy cookie and chocolate cravings.

I did use some custard when I made this, but since the pudding is custard based, and there wasn’t much actual custard to begin with, you can’t taste it, and I think it’s totally unnessessary.

Pudding Bars

Double batch of short bread crust dough
1/2 batch of dark chocolate pudding (make a whole batch and eat some!)
1 batch of meringue pie topping

Preheat oven to 425.

Give a 9×13 baking dish a quick spritz with baking spray and spread the shortbread dough out. Place the dish in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Cook the crust for 13-15 minutes or until golden. Let cool.

Spread the cooled pudding out on top of the crust, and freeze for 15 more minutes.

Then spread the meringue topping out on the pudding.

Bake at 325 for 15 minutes, or until meringue is golden on top.

Be careful if you’re using glass. Pyrex should transfer from the freezer to the oven without cracking, but some cheaper brands or other glassware might crack with the temperature change.

chocolate pudding meringue shortcake bars

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Shortbread Crust

Shortbread and I have a long history. There was the fiasco in college when I made shortbread cookies that only I could eat. Though I do recall Marie and Charlotte (or was it Anelle?) taking bites out of each cookie. They thought they were gross, but wanted to torment me, I suppose.

Since then I’ve tried and tried again, and I’ve never really made great melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. I made some at Christmas that tasted fine, but still, just tough. I was worried that I’d have the same problem with a shortbread crust, but that seemed to work out just fine. I’m tempted to try this crust recipe as cookies.

This recipe calls for a food processor, but you might be able to just use a pastry blender or two forks, or even your hands. But your hands will warm up the butter, so you might want to freeze it and extra time when you get the butter halfway incorporated?

Shortbread Crust

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 – 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 tsp vanilla

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in your food processor and pulse to mix. Then add the butter chunks a bit at a time and pulse until it starts to come together. Add the vanilla and pulse until you have a dough.

Spread in a pie plate and prick the bottom with a fork. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Cook in preheated 425 degree oven for 13-15 minutes or until golden.

A double recipe of this will work for a 9×13 pan of cookie bars.

Be careful if you’re using glass. Pyrex should transfer from the freezer to the oven without cracking, but some cheaper brands or other glassware might crack with the temperature change.

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Meringue Pie Topping

If you have a recipe that calls for egg yolks, you may be wondering what to do with the whites. You could make a nice fluffy angel food cake, you could make meringue cookies, or you could just make meringue.

Meringue Pie Topping

3 egg whites
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat the egg whites until they are frothy. Add the sugar a little at a time and keep beating until it forms stiff peaks. Then add the vanilla.

Spread on top of the pie and bake at 325 for 15 minutes or until it is browning on top.

I actually turned off my oven just as the first little peak turned golden- I was hoping that it would make the meringue more crunchy, but, alas, it did not.

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Dark Chocolate Pudding

Do you prefer dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Me, I prefer dark. The darker the better, really. Though there is a limit- I don’t really love anything above about 83%. I had a 90something percent bar one day, and though I loved tasting all the subtleties, I didn’t really love the bitter.

So when I set out to make my chocolate pudding bars, I knew I wanted dark chocolate pudding. I found a recipe that seemed to be just what I needed, though I did add more chocolate chips than it called for. I’m evil like that. Check out the original recipe here. I didn’t strain the milk part like it said, that just seemed like too much trouble.

Dark Chocolate Pudding

3 large egg yolks, beaten lightly
3 cups non-fat milk
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 Tbsp. unsweetened dark cocoa (such as Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 oz. dark chocolate chips (such as Ghirardelli 60% cacao dark chocolate chips)- I used more like 4-5 ounces.

Separate the eggs and put the yolks in a bowl together. Save the whites separately if you want to make some yummy meringue.

In a pot, heat the milk on medium-high until it is 180 degrees. I have a thermometer, but the original recipe says that when bubbles start to form around the edges it should be about right. Remove from heat. Add sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens.

Take about a cup of the hot mixture and whisk it into the eggs. This will temper the eggs and keep them from having a temper tantrum (aka- cooking)

Pour the egg mixture into the pot with the rest of the pudding and bring back to a boil on medium heat.

When it is thick like pudding, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips and the vanilla.

The original recipe suggests serving immediately, or placing in a glass bowl and covering with plastic wrap actually touching the pudding. This should keep that nasty school-cafeteria skin from forming. I’ve never had pudding last long enough to cover, I eat it. But if you do decide to wait, make sure you refrigerate it!

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