Monday, June 6, 2011

Pizza ( Roasted Red Pepper Pork Sausage, Cherry Bomb Peppers & Argula)

Pizza...Yet another blank canvas for a foodie to go crazy with. Tonight I made a simple crust and topped it with a red sauce, Roasted Red Pepper Pork Sausage, Cherry Bomb Peppers, and Fresh Arugula. Arugula being in my opinion one of the most versatile and flavorful greens to use. It lends a nutty and earthy flavor and is one of my favorite pizza toppings. Always added after the Pizza has came out of the oven.

Follow the link below to my sisters Stephenie's blog for your some of the best homemade pizza dough around...Once you have your dough you can take it from there. I personally like to bake my crust off for about 7 minutes until it is a little firm and then remove it from the oven and top with my favorite things. I always brush the "crust" with olive oil and garlic paste to add a little flavor...Now its time for you to to create your own Pizza Masterpiece.  
Pizza Dough Link..Check it!

Quick Mac & Cheese

In a pinch I made this quick Mac & Cheese as a last minute side dish for a BBQ this past weekend. I didn't really measure much but I have the rough estimates below. I mean could you really add too much cheese anyways?

Serve 2-4

1/2 box penne pasta
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1 Tbs butter
1/2 cups skim milk
garlic, black pepper, and paprika to taste
1/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs

Boil the pasta and strain. Pour hot pasta back into pan add add all ingredients except the bread crumbs. Stir until all the butter and cheese have melted. This took about 5 minutes on low heat. Once everything is combined pour into a baking pan. Top with bread crumbs and sprinkle with a little bit more cheese. Bake on 375 for about 10-15 minutes, until the top is crisp.

This was quick and easy and allowed me to use a lot of odds and ends I had in my fridge and freezer. Try it out, make it yours, and add whatever else you need to use up...

Twist & Sparkle

The folks at iSi have outdone themselves with their new product, the Twist & Sparkle. This is hands down the best thing to enter my kitchen to date. It allows you to carbonate your favorite juices, wines, water, etc. The possibilities have been endless in my kitchen thus far. So lets give a big shout out to iSi for keeping my kitchen creative...And to all my foodie friends you need to get one as soon as you can!

Here is a drink based on the Le Muse from Bastille in Ballard, WA. It's a less inexpensive and fun way to make my favorite drink on a budget:

Le Muse
2oz Vodka
2oz Creme de Cassis
1/2 fresh squeezed lime
2-4 oz sparkling rose wine
Topped with sparkling pink grapefruit juice ( no sugar added type)

Endless possibilities for summer time fun. Check out the links above to learn more about the Twist & Sparkle and all the other fun iSi products.

Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup

Experimenting with fun flavors led me to making this simple syrup to use as a mixer for both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Mix it with soda water or with Vodka and lime juice for a refreshing after work drink.

Ready to be strained

Make 2 1/2 cups Syrup

1 carton strawberries, chopped
3 stalks rhubarb, chopped
2 cups water
2 cups white sugar

Bring sugar and water to a boil on medium heat, use a soup pan when doing this. Once water comes to a boil add fruit and lower heat. Cover and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until the fruit begins to break down. Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool. When safe to handle strain the fruit from the syrup and chill until ready to use. This had a very strong strawberry taste. If you want something a little more tart you can cut back a little on the sugar, or just use more rhubarb and less berries.....Next on my list is to try this with Mango and Raspberries.

The possibilities for mixing this are endless. A lot of recipes I looked at called for 2 oz syrup to 8oz of liquid and it seemed to be a pretty good place to start.

So what to do with all this leftover fruit??? Do we really want to throw it all away? I pureed mine with a hand blender and stuck it in the freezer to spread on pancakes or to throw in a fruit smoothie. Almost sad to admit I liked the unexpected fruit puree more than the syrup.

Finished Syrup

2oz Syrup, 2 oz Vodka, 6oz Sparkling Grapefruit Juice & Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

Vinegar Salad

This is a salad that lots of people in my family make. It has it roots in Eastern Europe and is a great cool treat on a hot summer day! If you have a Mandolin slicer this will be your best friend when making this salad.

Serves 4

1/2 cucumber, sliced very thin
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced very thin
1/3 red onion, sliced very thin
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
white sugar, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon

Mix vinegar and water and add sugar to taste. Start with 1 tablespoon and taste to see if the taste works for you. You essentially want to use 1 part water to 1 part vinegar. However if the taste is too strong you can add a little more water and sugar to balance the taste. I personally like mine to have a string vinegar taste. I then add a dash of fresh ground pepper and about a tablespoon of chopped garlic.

Once the vinegar/ water meets your tastes add the veggies and chill. Serve as a side dish with you favorite summer meal!