Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grilled Pizza

I grilled my first pizza. Mmm! This white pizza had an oil-based sun-dried tomato sauce made by Beano's, fresh mushrooms, mozzarella and parmesan and slivered fresh basil on top. Delicious!

Pizza Dough
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
olive oil
pizza toppings

Proof (prep) the yeast by combining the water, yeast and honey in a liquid measuring cup. Let this sit until the yeast begins to bubble. In a separate mixing bowl combine the flour and salt and add the dough hook to your mixer. Pour the yeast mixture into a mixing bowl and mix for 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and place in a separate bowl that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover and let sit for one hour or until dough has doubled in size.

While the dough is rising it's important to prep your toppings because when the pizza is cooking on the grill you'll need to spread toppings fast. I pulled out a large tray and set the pizza toppings, all sliced and diced, on the tray.

Once the dough has risen you want to turn your grill on so it can be preheating for at least 10 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface, forming it into a rectangular or "log" shape. I like to make small individual sized pizzas because it's easier to handle on the grill and the toppings cook faster on a smaller surface area. If you want smaller pizzas cut the dough into 6 pieces and roll them out to 1/4 inch thickness. (This isn't a thin-crust pizza; the dough gets stretched when rolled but will immediately begin to shrink once you stop rolling it. It will also puff while cooking.) Spread olive oil on one side of each pizza and you're ready to grill!

Place the pizzas, oil side down, on your grill and immediately close the grill lid. This will allow for convection cooking. After 4-5 minutes check the underside of the pizzas; you want to see lightly browned grill marks. If the dough is cooked brush olive oil on the uncooked side and flip all the pizzas over. Quickly spread the ingredients on the pizza tops, then close the grill lid again for 5 minutes. Check the underside of the pizza again for grill marks and when cooked remove and serve immediately.

*My Notes: I've learned my lesson that grilled pizza is best cooked with sliced mozzarella and not shredded. It makes for easier spreading of ingredients and less mess!

Who Dished this first? me.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Watermelon 'Otai (Juice)

Mmmm, watermelon juice!  I'm told that in Tongan you call this drink 'otai and I read on Wikipedia that in Somoan it's "vai meleni". Either way, if you want to enjoy your watermelon island style with milk, coconut and sugar then you'll love this cool treat. I'm convinced that it hits the spot on a hot afternoon (if I'm not watching my weight, of course).

Watermelon 'Otai (Juice)
1 Ripe Seedless Watermelon halved and sliced (this is the smaller round watermelons)
1 can crushed pineapples or 1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 can of evaporated milk
1/2 Cup Sugar
Ice Cubes

Prepare the watermelon by mashing the watermelon with a fork in a large bow. If this becomes tedious try squishing the watermelon with your fingers, making sure the end product is small pieces. If you don't use a seedless watermelon make sure that most of the black seeds are removed with a spoon. 

Stir in the pineapple and it's juices, coconut, evaporated milk and two cans of water using the can of milk. Add Sugar and stir, adding more to taste. You may add ice cubes when you're ready to serve.

Who Dished it First? The Polynesian Kitchen with a slight alteration by me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sweet Potato Foil Packet Tacos

Tacos and sweet potatoes? Both in the same sentence? Take my word for it, this is a good one. In fact, it won a recipe contest! This sweet potato taco recipe is from the cooking blog Perry's Plate. The health-conscious & food-fabulous blogger responsible for all the great posts over at Perry's Plate is the one and only Natalie.

There are so many great reasons for cooking a foil packet dinner. First, it's the easiest way to get your kids involved in dinner prep.  Sprinkle, pile, stack and done! Even better, your dinner preparation is quick and your cleanup a cinch. We ate our foil packets on paper plates on the back porch picnic table so my cleanup was only the silverware and cutting board. Love it!

Besides easy prep and delicious taste I'm really happy my kids ate this right up.  My eldest actually asked for two packets! I love finding ways to sneak spinach into our meals.

Sweet Potato Foil Packet Tacos
1/2 lb ground beef or turkey
2-3 T taco seasoning
1/2 cup tomato sauce (4 ounces)
1 can black, kidney, or pinto beans, drained
2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups total)
2 T butter
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole for garnish
6 12-inch long pieces of aluminum foil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Brown ground meat in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and beans. Set aside.

To assemble packets, spray the foil with non-stick spray. Place 1 cup sweet potato cubes in the center of each piece. Top with a small piece of butter (about 1 tsp) and a pinch or two of salt. Sprinkle some chopped spinach over the sweet potatoes, followed by about 1/3 cup of taco meat and sprinkle of cheese. Fold the sides in, then bring the top and bottom ends of the foil together in the center and fold, sealing the packet.

Repeat with remaining ingredients, placing the packets on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole.

Makes 6 servings.

Who Dished it first? Natalie at Perry's Plate

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fiesta Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Dear Blogger: Do I dare post again? I apologize for the duplication of this post but the previous post was deleted. Hopefully this one sticks around.

Just say the word salsa and I smile. I grew up in a home where salsa was a fridge staple just like ketchup and it was eaten as often if not more often than any other condiment. (Remember watching those Pace Picante commercials on TV in the '90s? "This stuff's made in New York City?!?")

This corn salsa is a great crowd pleasing fresh alternative to anything made in NYC. (*wink*) My dad is the guacamole, salsa, Mexican relish maker in our family and once he made this dip we were all hooked. The ingredients are easy, fresh, and so delicious.

Fiesta Black Bean and Corn Salsa

3 green onions, finely diced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can sweet corn, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 package Italian dressing powder
2-3 avocados
fresh lime juice

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour or until you're ready to serve. Prior to serving, pit and mash your avocados and add them to the salsa mixture. Squirt the juice of one lime on top to add flavor and keep the avocado from browning. Serve!

Who Dished it first? This yummy recipe is courtesy of my Dad.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies

We celebrated Cinco de Mayo over the weekend with some friends and I have to say that it was the perfect party. Good friends + yummy Mexican food (my favorite) = the perfect combination!  I wanted to make a dessert to share but every recipe I found online was fried. That's when I found this recipe for Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies. I've tasted similar cookies in the past and thought they were dry and lacking in flavor but I decided to blindly make this recipe (first time ever!) for a potluck. Brave? Maybe more crazy than brave.

The reason I made these cookies was because of the recommendation source. My source was one of my favorites, Pioneer Woman. Seeing as the purpose of my site is to share recipes that I highly recommend and Ree over at Pioneer Woman has never led me astray I decided to bite the bullet and try baking the cookie. (Added bonus: these cookies have a short and simple ingredient list so I didn't have to go to the store.)

The verdict: If you're careful and don't overcook it, the cookie literally crumbles in your mouth. It's similar to a buttery shortbread but much lighter. This is definitely a recipe we'll be making again.

Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped/coarsely ground pecans
Toast pecans in oven at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon and salt. Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture, beating until well blended. Mix in pecans with a wooden spoon.

Divide dough in half; form each half into ball. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough with palms into 1-inch balls. Arrange balls on large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies until light golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 16-18 minutes. Check cookies throughout baking to be sure not to over bake. If baked too long, bottoms will burn and cookies will be very dry.

Pour 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar in pie dish. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in powdered sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Roll cookies in powdered sugar again once cooled. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough, or reserve remaining powdered sugar and freeze dough for later use. Cookies can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. For extra powdered sugar on your cookies, save leftover powdered sugar and sift over cookies just before serving.

Who Dished it first? This is Shared Sugar's version of a combination of Bon App├ętit and Betty Crocker recipes.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fried Onions & Sauce = the Perfect Steak Side Dish

We're splurging on the calories here today on The Dish List as I serve up a recipe for fried onions and sauce, the perfect sides to a grilled steak. What's unique about these onions is the addition of cornmeal to the flour mixture, adding a great crunch to every bite. 

Cornmeal-Fried Onion Rings 
1 large Spanish Onion
1 cup buttermilk
salt and pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 quart vegetable oil

Peel the onions, slice them 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick, and separate them into rings. Combine the buttermilk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add the onion rings, toss well, and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes. (The onion rings can sit in the buttermilk for a few hours.) In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
When you're ready to fry the onion rings, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a large pot or Dutch oven. (A candy thermometer attached to the side of the pot will help you maintain the proper temperature.) Working in batches, lift some onions out of the buttermilk and dredge them in the flour mixture. Drop into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes, until golden brown, turning them once with tongs. Don't crowd them! Place the finished onion rings on the baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with salt, and keep them warm in the oven while you fry the next batch. Continue frying the onion rings and placing them in the warm oven until all the onions are fried. They will remain crisp in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Who Dished it originally? Ina Garten on the Food Network

Have you ever eaten the Awesome Blossom at Chili's restaurant? This sauce is very similar:

Fried Onion Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1-2 tsp hot sauce 

Mix all the ingredients together and chill for at least a half hour before serving.
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