Monday, April 16, 2012

"Not Pizza"

I never expected the word "cauliflower" to be a taboo in my healthy kitchen, but when I mentioned my dinner plans to one of my favorite pizza-lovers recently, the conversation went something like this:
Him: stunned silence.
Me: I'm sorry, did I offend you or something?
Him (with unmistakeable disdain): That's not pizza.
Me: Yeah-huh, just with a healthier crust. I'm so excited to see how it tastes!
Him: Why don't you just put the cauliflower on top?
Me: That wouldn't be any healthier than regular pizza.
Him: Okay well you can't call it pizza...
Me: How 'bout I call it 'Not Pizza' ... would that make you feel better?
Him: Yes because it's not pizza!

That's right, I'm making Cauliflower Crust Pizza, and while I cannot take any credit for this wonderfully guilt-free version of pizza, I had to share it because it is quite amazing that this brilliant woman, Beth, created a "pizza crust" made out of cauliflower (yep - cauliflower) that actually tastes good.

And in honor of my pizza-loving friend, I have respectfully been referring to this dish as "Not Pizza," and for not being pizza, it was pretty awesome.

So, like I said, I take no credit for this recipe - you can check out the original I tweaked at Eat. Drink. Smile. But here's what I did:

Toppings should be quality,
fresh, and flavorful in this recipe
because you really want them to stand out.
I used fresh mozzarella, basil & arugula.
Crust Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower, riced (yields about 3 c. grated/riced)
2 large eggs
About 2 to 2 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. pizza seasoning (dried oregano, basil)
2 cloves garlic, crushed and sliced
olive oil
PLUS pizza sauce, shredded cheese, & toppings of your choice. I used fresh mozzarella, fresh sliced basil and arugula. (Heads up: Toppings should already be cooked through since they'll only be under the broiler a few minutes at the end.)
1. Preheat oven to 450F. Grate (using a cheese grater) or rice the cauliflower into a large bowl. Microwave it for about 8-11 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave.
2. To the cooked cauliflower add the rest of the crust ingredients and combine.
    -parmesan cheese
    -pizza seasonings
3. Transfer the "dough" to a greased baking sheet and use your hands to gently press the dough to your desired thickness. I went with about 3/4" thickness. Lightly spray or brush with olive oil.
4. Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.
5. When the crust is golden brown, add your sauce, cheese, and toppings, and put under the broiler for about 5 minutes - just long enough for the cheese to get melty and bubbly.
6. Voila!

My Rating: 3.75/5
I got a few bites that tasted a lot like cauliflower with pizza sauce on top, but overall thought it was a pretty great guilt-free "Not Pizza!" Would make again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cerveza Fajitas

I recently found my fridge PACKED with peppers! We're talkin' gallon-sized Ziploc bagfuls of sliced red, orange and yellow bell peppers. (Don't ask me where they came from - these things just happen when you live with your crazy mother.*) They were beautiful, and they needed to be eaten. Naturally, what's the first thing that pops into my head?


But these are no ordinary fajitas.

First of all, the absence of green peppers lends itself to a naturally sweeter take on this dish than your traditional fajita. And as I was throwing this quick dinner together a lightbulb popped on in my head just as a particular thirst tugged at my throat.


That's right. A brilliant addition, if I do say so myself. And just about any flavorful light-colored lager will do - I happened to have Yuengling Light on hand, and that is what went into these Cerveza Fajitas!

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, fat trimmed & cut into strips
Half each of red, orange & yellow bell peppers, sliced into strips
One yellow onion, sliced into strips
1 can or bottle of flavorful, light-colored lager (I used Yuengling Light)
Fajita-sized flour tortillas
1 rounded tbsp. fajita or taco seasoning, which includes a few pinches each of: ground cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder

Optional Fajita Toppers:
Sour cream, shredded monterey jack cheese, hot sauce (duh), fresh diced tomatoes

1. Sprinkle the chicken strips liberally with salt & pepper. After heating a nonstick skillet on medium heat, add olive oil (about two turns of the pan worth) and let it heat up.
2. Throw in your onions. Let them cook until almost translucent, then add your peppers, stirring occasionally as there will be a LOT of veggies in your pan :) Let them cook for a few minutes.
3. When the peppers are tender, move them to the outer edge of the pan, leaving an open circle in the middle.
4. Pour in about 2-3 ounces of beer - just enough to cover the bottom of the pan not even a 1/4" high - then stir the veggies around in it.
5. Cover and let simmer for 1-2 minutes.
6. Move the veggies to the outer edge again & add the chicken strips in the middle. Cover and continue to cook for a few more minutes, just until the chicken is cooked through. Cook time for the chicken will depend on how thin the strips are. Of course, the thinner the strips, the faster the chicken will cook through.
7. While chicken is finishing up I recommend warming the tortillas
*tortilla warming trick* Using metal tongs, place one tortilla at a time over a small open flame burner. Each tortilla will need just 5 seconds at a time on each side. I flip mine multiple times until it gets warm and crispy and just on the cusp of having those beautiful burn marks.
8. Serve hot with sour cream & diced tomatoes on top! Mmm-mm!

*If you don't normally find your fridge randomly stocked with typically price bell peppers, that's okay - save this recipe for when they're on sale!

Testing, testing, 1-2, 1-2