Friday, August 23, 2013

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pizza

I had just enough pizza dough the other night to make a pizza for two, so I decided to make something a little less kid-friendly than my normal pizza. My husband and I enjoyed this after the kids went to bed. Ah, a peaceful, fancy meal...the kind of things dreams are made of! This pizza was wonderful. The flavors worked together really well. The roasted garlic I used as the "sauce" and the caramelized onions added a nice sweet flavor to balance out the saltiness of the Gruyere and bacon. One warning: this is a more time consuming recipe than a basic cheese or pepperoni pizza. If you are short on time, use some alfredo sauce instead of roasted garlic for the sauce, and take care of making the onions and bacon the day before, or earlier in the day. That way you just have to assemble and bake. This is definitely worth the time and effort to make the pizza. If Gruyere cheese is not in the budget (I found a good price at a local produce market), feel free to use provolone, swiss, or even white cheddar cheese instead.

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pizza
Adapted from How Sweet it Is

8 oz ball of pizza dough
4 slices thick bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
2 onions, sliced
1 head of garlic, roasted (if you are short on time, feel free to use alfredo sauce or olive oil as your "sauce")
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided, or 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon bacon fat
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese

1) Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil or bacon fat in a heavy skillet over medium low-heat. Add onions and butter. Saute over medium low heat for 30-40 minutes, until onions are light brown, stirring occasionally.
2) If making roasted garlic sauce: Squeeze roasted garlic into a bowl. Add remaining olive oil and mash together.
3) Preheat oven to 400. Roll out pizza dough into a 9-inch circle.
4) Spread roasted garlic and olive oil on the crust of the pizza and top with grated parmesan/romano cheese. Add 1/2 of the mozzarella and Gruyere cheese.  Add the bacon and caramelized onions. Top with remaining cheese.
5) Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crust is done and cheese is bubbly and brown.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Roast Beef (Double-Duty Dinners, Part 2)

As promised, I'm posting a second double-duty dinner idea. I apologize for the really quick post today...This was the first week back to school for us, so finding time to cook was pretty hard...finding time to blog was even harder. I made this roast on Tuesday afternoon, using the oven. I like to use the crock pot for roasts, too,but I wanted to be able to slice leftovers for sandwiches, and crock pot roasts usually are so tender, they fall apart when you slice them. Sirloin tip roast was on sale this week, so that's what I ended up using. The first night, the roast was served with mashed potatoes and carrots that were roasted in beef broth and the drippings from the roast. Two nights later, we enjoyed roast beef sandwiches for dinner. Another good use for leftover roast beef is shepherd's pie, which my family loves. To make the shepherd's pie even easier, you could double the mashed potatoes from the first night and use them to top the pie the second night.
I highly recommend a meat thermometer for making oven roasts. I've found that cooking times vary widely from roast to roast. This one cooked much faster than anticipated. Other times, they seem to take twice as long!

Roast Beef

1 3-5 pound oven roast
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 cup beef broth

1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Place beef broth in the bottom of a roasting pan. If your pan has a rack, place the rack on top of the broth, then place the roast on top of the rack. If you are just using a baking pan, put the roast on top of the broth.
3) Rub down all parts of the roast with the seasoned salt and Italian seasoning.
4) Set a meat thermometer in the fattest part of the roast. Cook until the center reaches medium. It took my 4 pound roast, about 1 hour and 45 minutes...but the label on the meat said to allow up to 2 1/2 hours.
5 Allow roast to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Ideas for leftovers:
*Roast beef sandwiches
*Cheesesteak sandwiches: Heat up roast beef, saute onions and peppers in a skillet. Put peppers, onions, and beef on a steak roll and top with cheese.
*Shepherd's pie: Pour 1/2 cup of beef broth to the bottom of a pie plate. Add about 2 cups of chopped roast beef. Add 1 cup of frozen mixed vegetables. Spread mashed potatoes on top of the veggies. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Top with cheese for the last 5 minutes, if desired.
*Roast beef hash. Cook frozen hash browns according to package directions. Add leftover sliced roast beef, and heat until warm. Top with a fried egg.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Turkey Breast (Double-Duty Dinners, Part 1)

Roasted turkey with veggies

We all have those weeks where life is just crazy! There is something that either begins or ends close to dinner time, 3 or 4 days of the week. I really don't like those weeks. But, they happen. And this month seems to be full of those weeks for my family. There are nights where it's pretty much impossible to avoid eating out (example: a swimming lesson that ends at 6:00 and a meeting at church that begins at 7:00), but I've been working hard on feeding us at home whenever possible. The easiest way to do that has been through double-duty (or even triple-duty) meals. These are wonderful meals where you cook one thing, usually in the crock pot, then use the leftovers for different, quick, easy meals.I know that side dishes on busy evening can be hard, so I'll try to include easy side dishes, even if the ones pictured aren't so easy.

Turkey dip with sweet potato fries
The first double-duty meal is actually a triple, or even quadruple-duty dinner. Turkey breast, turkey dips, turkey soup, and even easy lunches of turkey sandwiches, depending on the size of your family. I've been making turkey breast in the slow cooker since I got married. My mom made it for us year-round when I was growing up. I know there are people who see turkey as a Thanksgiving-only food, but I'm not one of them.  A friend of mine came across the recipe for turkey dips and posted it on her blog about a year ago. I quickly made it a few weeks later when I found turkey breasts on sale. The big change I made to this recipe was to have the sandwiches the second day. I did this for two reasons: the first being that I really love turkey as a meal by itself. The second was that I wanted to dip the sandwich in just the broth, and skim some of the fat off the drippings, and that's just easier if you let it sit in the fridge over night. I also changed the cheese on the sandwich to something more kid and budget-friendly.

For the turkey soup, I threw all the turkey bones into the slow cooker with carrots, celery, onions, and 12 cups of water, and cooked on low for 12 hours to get nice broth. The recipe is an old post , and is a favorite at our house. We eat it year-round, even in the summer. The soup can even be thrown together in the slow cooker in the morning and it's ready by dinner time.

As promised, I'll share some easy side dish ideas. If you have an hour to work on sides- including prep-time: roasted potatoes, rainbow veggies, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, or roasted cauliflower. If you have less than 30 minutes: frozen vegetables, fruit salad, frozen french fries, green salad, or even chips with the sandwich (my favorite are BBQ chips).

Hopefully these turkey recipes will help if you have a busy week where just thinking about cooking stresses you out.

Roasted Turkey and Turkey Dips
Adapted from Cooking Channel 

4 tablespoons softened butter (or if you forget to set out the butter, like me, just melt it)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
note: substitute 1 tablespoon of dried Italian seasoning if you don't have the fresh herbs on hand
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 bone-in turkey breast

1) Spread the onions in the bottom of a slow cooker. Pour the chicken chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce over the onions.
2) Sprinkle the turkey with salt and pepper and place in the slow cooker.
3) Mix the herbs and butter together in a small glass bowl.
4) Spread the butter over the turkey breast, trying to get some of it under the skin.
5) Cook on high for 4-6 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
6) Slice and serve with sides of your choice. Save the broth and drippings from the slow cooker in a glass jar in the fridge. Use for dips with leftovers.

***If you figure out an easy way to get a turkey breast out of a crockpot without making a total mess, please let me know.

Turkey Dips
Serves 4

2-4 ounces of sliced turkey per person
4 ciabatta rolls, slices of french bread, sandwich rolls, or crusty bread of your choice.
4 slices of your favorite melting cheese- we like Gouda, double Gloucester, and Munster.
softened butter
Turkey broth/drippings from the previous night. Optional: scoop the fat off the top before heating.

1) Heat the leftover broth and drippings in a saucepan over medium heat.
2) Preheat the broiler to high.
3) Split each roll or slice of bread in half. Spread butter on cut side and broil for about 1 minute. Top with turkey and cheese, and broil another 1-2 minutes, until bread is browned, turkey is warm, and cheese is melted.
4) Place the buttery top of the bun on the side with the cheese and turkey. Serve with broth for dipping.