Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Leeks, Pancetta, and Asparagus

So it seems like the culinary world’s IT GIRL, Cauliflower, is still going strong. Mashed “Potatoes”, Buffalo “Wings”, “Fried Rice”… these little florets can do anything and do it deliciously well. Last night for dinner, I put it to the test and made pizza.
 

That’s right, I said I made PIZZA! With CAULIFLOWER. And you know what? It was freaking FANTASTIC!

OK, no more yelling… just on to the recipe. Which you all should try ASAP. A little birdie hinted to me that you can buy cauliflower pizza crust, but it was really so easy to make and it made my house smell yummy, so I say just do it yourself.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

 For the crust:

1 bag frozen cauliflower rice, thawed (I used the one from Trader Joe’s. It’s about 12oz)

2 eggs, beaten

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ cup shredded mozzarella

½ teaspoon garlic powder (eyeball)

½ teaspoon Italian seasoning blend (eyeball)

Pinch of salt and pepper

Toppings: *These are all optional. You can do whatever sort of topping your heart desires*

2 tablespoons garlic spread


½ cup shredded mozzarella

1 sauteed leek

diced pancetta (4 oz)

about 5 or 6 asparagus spears, steamed just enough to make them soft

Take the defrosted cauliflower rice and put it in a blender or food processor for a few pulses to make it even smaller. Add the cauliflower to a dry skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until softened slightly. Put it all in a towel (I used a few paper towels but you can use a dish towel) and wring out as much water as you can from the cauliflower. You’re basically left with cauliflower pulp.

Mix the cauliflower pulp with 2 beaten eggs, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/2 teaspoon or so garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon or so Italian seasonings and a pinch of salt. 

 

Mix together and spread out into a 10″ circle on a parchment lined baking sheet. It should be the equivalent thickness of an average thin crust pizza. Not cracker thin, though. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.


The crust will still be soft but golden brown.


After you add your toppings, bake for another 10 minutes.


I used a light layer of garlic spread from Trader Joe’s, more mozzarella, some crisped up pancetta and sautéed leeks and some parboiled asparagus. But you can use whatever you want.

Corn and Poblano Summer Salad

I was not going to post about this. It was supposed to be an afterthought to the amazing ribs my husband and I were smoking all day. We just needed a quick side dish. No big deal. 

It was a big deal. It turned out so good I just had to make a post about it! This salad will no doubt become my go-to summer side dish. It can be served cold or at room temp. Also, since it isn’t a mayonnaise-based salad, it lends itself really well to BBQ buffets because it can sit out for longer periods of time.

And the best part? It is SO EASY! 

Corn and Poblano Summer Salad 

1 bag frozen corn

2 Poblano peppers 

1 medium avocado 

Handful of cherry tomatoes 

1 lime

3 T olive oil 

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the corn according to package directions, usually in the microwave. You can use fresh corn too if you want, just grill them and cut it off the cob. I just find the frozen much easier and the taste is still great.

After the corn is cooked, add it to a dry skillet over high heat. The goal here is to just char it up a little bit. Set aside to cool. I put it in the fridge to bring the temperature down to warm/room temp. I prepped the rest of the salad in the meantime.

Put the Poblanos over the flame on your stove, turning until charred on all sides.


When done, put the peppers in a plastic bag and seal. Let them steam for about 10-15 minutes. 


Remove from the bag and the skin will just wipe off with a paper towel. Open up the peppers and remove the stem and the seeds. Dice the pepper.

In a bowl, add diced avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, diced pepper, and cooled corn.

In a small bowl, mix your dressing which is just the zest and juice of 1 lime, olive oil, a dash of pepper and 1t salt. Whisk together with a fork and pour over the veggies. Careful toss the veggies to coat. Add a little more salt if necessary.


That’s it! So easy and so much flavor! It was the perfect side!

Grilled Spinach Pesto Chicken

I’ve recently discovered that my entire family loves pesto. My husband has always liked it. I’m a bit late to the pesto game, only discovering how good it was a few years ago. My super picky 7-year-old just started liking it, and my almost 4-year-old has always liked it. Well, she used to love it, then she stopped loving most things. Now we are trying to get her back into her “eat anything” mode. 
 

One time, I made her pasta with pesto and I told her to just try it. She took a bite and I said, “See, that’s not bad at all!” She agreed with me and now she often requests that I make her “the pasta that’s not bad at all” :0)

What I love so much about this pesto is that it is mostly spinach. I also use walnuts (you can use any nut), which adds another layer of nutrition. I’ve made it before, but I’ll post the recipe again.

Spinach Pesto

In a blender, add the following (all eyeballed):

½ bag of prewashed baby spinach (about 3 oz or so)

1 big bunch of fresh basil

½ cup of walnuts

3-4 cloves garlic

½ cup parmesan cheese

Hefty pinch of salt & a sprinkling of pepper

Olive oil

Put everything in the blender. Start with about ½ cup olive oil and then you can add more as needed based on the consistency you want. 

 

Let the blender do its thing and ta-da! Pesto! Isn’t that green color gorgeous?!


You can use this in so many ways. For this meal, I cut two chicken breasts in half lengthwise to get four thinner pieces. Then I coated each piece in some of the pesto and let it marinade for about 20 minutes. You can do this longer, even overnight. You could also do this in a freezer bag and freeze the whole kit-n-caboodle. Then you’ll have premade pesto chicken ready whenever you want it.

 

When I was ready, I just grilled the chicken for about 7 minutes per side over medium-high heat.   

 

Serve with more pesto on top.

If I had mozzarella on hand, I think this would be delish with a couple tomato slices on top of the chicken, then place some sliced mozzarella and put the chicken under the broiler for a couple minutes until the cheese melts. Maybe even add a drizzle of balsamic glaze! Oh my mouth is watering already…

Refrigerator Clean-out Turkey Patties   

You know those days where you come home and you are completely worn out? I mean, more than just the usual end-of-the-day tired. I’m talking exhausted, can barely keep your eyes open, WIPED OUT. That was me yesterday. My lovely 3-year-old isn’t much of a sharer, but last week she decided to share her strep throat with me.
 

You guys, I thought it was going to end me.

I had strep when I was in middle school. I remember it being an inconvenience. I remember going about my business of being 13 like it wasn’t that big of a deal. I remember going to the movies, for crying out loud. Nope, not this time. I guess as an adult, strep is a totally different ball game. It laid me out. I was sidelined for a week. I couldn’t do anything. I was *thisclose* to calling an attorney to get my affairs in order. And maybe a priest to read me my last rites. Bottom line: It was awful. So moms, if your child has strep throat, do yourself a favor and go get a hotel room to yourself until it clears up. I only address this to moms, because husbands are apparently made out of steel and seem to somehow resist the death disease.

Anyway, back to the food, which is why you’re actually here. My first day back to regular life went fine, but I was so worn out at the end of the day, I could just cry. And I was starving. But in that state, who has time for a recipe and all that measuring of ingredients nonsense? Not me, that’s who. Instead, I decided to raid my fridge and see what I could throw together. Hence why these are now called “Refrigerator Clean-Out” because that is literally what I did. So creative, I know.

Here’s the scoop:

Finely dice a half a red bell pepper, half a zucchini, and half a leek. Saute over medium heat with some olive oil and salt and pepper, until softened. Just before the mixture is done, add in some minced garlic and cook until done.

Let the veggie mixture cool slightly and add it to a pound of ground turkey. If you are impatient like me and add it right away, your turkey meat will be really sticky. It will still work, but you will just be making it more difficult for yourself. 


Once the veggies are mixed into the turkey, form into patties. Add a little olive oil to a skillet and cook the patties over medium heat for about 7 minutes per side (depending on how big they are). When I flipped the patties, I added a slice of cheese and let it do its melty, gooey, magical cheese thing while the patties continued cooking.

 

I served these with some brown rice and roasted rainbow carrots. (Fun fact: Carrots used to always be “rainbow” carrots, leaning mostly toward purple. Back in the 17th century, the Dutch carrot farmers created orange carrots through selection and hybridization (the Dutch sure love their orange color!). Those carrots were spread throughout the world through immigration and became the carrots known more commonly. The “rainbow” carrots we see are actually the carrots going back to their original roots… pun intended).    

Chicken, Corn, and Black Bean Enchiladas

I’m always looking for ways to eat Mexican food in a healthier way. The flavors of Mexican cuisine are so yummy but eating out at Mexican restaurants usually isn’t the best for you. I find making it at home is a lot easier to control what ingredients you are using so you can still get the delicious flavors but without any unnecessary fat and extra calories. Plus, you can be sure that the ingredients you are using are less processed and much cleaner.

When I set out to make these enchiladas, I wanted to make chicken, but I was out. I, mean, who runs out of chicken?! Me, I guess. I always try to have frozen chicken breasts on hand in the freezer so I can always make something for dinner, even if it is just a pantry meal (chicken with whatever veggies we have on hand). Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention and I ran out without realizing it.

I almost just threw in the towel, but then I saw that we had some frozen veggie patties on hand. I’ve really been enjoying the Morning Star Farms Chipotle Black Bean Veggie Burgers. I wondered if I could chop those up and throw them in? I warmed them up so they were thawed enough to break apart and added the “burger” crumbles to the corn and black bean mix. 


Most of the ingredients in the patties were pretty much the same as what I had going on anyway, so it totally worked! They made for some really delicious enchiladas. You would never realize they were vegetarian. I will say, though, that because the patties had some of the flavors I was going for already in them, I did NOT include the can of diced green chiles mentioned in the recipe below. If I had just used regular chicken, I would have included that ingredient.

Chicken, Corn, and Black Bean Enchiladas

1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

½ bag of frozen corn

½ onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded

½ tablespoon cumin

1 small can diced green chiles

Salt to taste

1 bottle enchilada sauce (or homemade)

6 corn tortillas (I used a corn/wheat blend tortilla I found at Trader Joe’s. low fat, low cal, and high in whole grains per serving. 

Low-fat shredded Mexican blend cheese

In a skillet with a little olive oil, sauté onions and garlic until soft. Add the corn and black beans and cook until the corn is softened.


Add the chicken, cumin, green chiles, and some salt. Continue cooking until warmed through. Sprinkle in about ½ cup of the shredded cheese and stir to combine.

 

Pour a little bit of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each tortilla and roll up carefully (corn tends to break easily. You can heat them up in a microwave with a wet paper towel to help with this.). Place each enchilada seam side down in the baking dish. Top with more enchilada sauce and cheese (however much or little you want).



Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.


Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’ve probably made chicken tortilla soup too many ways to count, but this one is by far the easiest. Also, my husband said this was the best chicken tortilla soup I’ve ever made, so, you know, it comes with raving reviews! 

When it comes to soups, I much prefer a thicker, creamier soup over a broth-based one. I’ll make an exception for French Onion. I’ve never really been a fan of chicken noodle, even. I find it pretty bland most of the time, and even “good ones” are boring to me. I do, however, love chicken tortilla. When done right, it boasts so much flavor. It’s total comfort food.

I’ve posted a version I made before on this blog, but like I said, this one is so incredibly easy, I had to share it. It’s also really healthy, so that’s more points in the plus column!

It wasn’t my intention to make this soup really spicy, but it was. You can adjust as necessary, for example using regular diced tomatoes in place of the fire roasted one since they usually come with green chiles in them. 

Also, I used baked blue corn tortilla chips: they contain 20% more protein than yellow or white, they are less starchy, they are a more complete protein source, and they have much lower glycemic index. Plus, their blue color comes from anthocyanins which are the same antioxidants found in berries. Need more? They have a sweeter, nuttier flavor than white or yellow corn as well. And they make your food look pretty. You should be able to find them anywhere.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 15oz can fire roasted tomatoes

1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, and seeds removed (if you don’t want to do all this, just use a small can of diced green chiles)

½ onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

olive oil

1 tablespoon chili powder

½ tablespoon cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable broth, to texture preference

1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 ½ cups roasted corn

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

In a skillet with some olive oil over medium heat, add your onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and a little salt and pepper and saute until soft and fragrant. Pour mixture into a blender and add the can of tomatoes (juice and all), the poblano, and the vegetable broth. I didn’t put an amount for the broth because it depends on how thick or thin you want your soup. Adjust as needed for your preferences. Blend until smooth.

In the same skillet you used for the onions and garlic, add a little olive oil over medium heat. Add your beans, corn, and chicken. Stir around until heated through and the corn isn’t frozen anymore. For the corn, I use the roasted corn from the freezer section at Trader Joe’s. You can always use fresh and char it up yourself, or you can just use regular frozen corn. It really doesn’t matter as long as it’s in there.

 

Add the chicken mixture to the tomato mixture and serve for a nice hearty soup! Top with some cheese and avocado and tortilla chips.

Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I just wanted to share an alternative to this White Chocolate Cranberry cookie. Just follow the recipe the same way, but substitute chopped up dried cherries for the cranberries and semisweet chocolate chunks for the white chocolate. It makes for a really yummy flavor combination!

Food on the Table

To me, white chocolate and cranberry are food soul mates. They just belong together. And they make for perfect Christmas treat bedfellows. You can make just about any dessert white chocolate-cranberry and not only would people love it, but it would look super festive on any table or cookie tray.

These are just a twist on a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe which I usually adapt from Nestle.

Fun Fact: The chocolate chip cookie was invented by a woman named Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1938. She owned a restaurant called the Toll House Inn. During WWII, soldiers from Massachusettes (where the Toll House Inn was located), shared the chocolate chip cookies from their care packages with other soldiers. Soon they were requesting them from their families who then inundated Ms. Wakefield with requests for her recipe! After her recipe became so popular, she contacted Nestle and struck a deal: they…

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