Last summer I discovered a new favorite flavor-thai basil. This basil is a little different. It has more of a anise like flavor than the sweet Italian basil we are accustomed to here in the Midwest. If you’ve ever had Thai cuisine, chances are you’ve also had Thai basil. Thai basil is somewhat difficult to find outside of specialty stores here in the Twin Cities, so I decided to choose the easier way to keep it on my table-I grew it myself! Turns out it thrived in a large pot on my sunny deck. As soon as there was enough Thai basil in my pot, Thai Basil Pesto Noodles was born!…
These Sweet Corn, Zucchini, and Chicken Tostadas have been a late spring and summer favorite in my house for the past few years. Based on a Cooking Light recipe I’ve adapted over time, they make quick and easy dinner that takes advantage of the best of summer – fresh sweet corn, abundant crisp zucchini, and a light sauce made from salsa verde, onions, and a dash of hot roasted chilis. The tostadas are studded with quick cooking chicken tenders coated in a basic mixture of cumin, salt, and pepper. Piled on crisp tostadas and topped with fresh cilantro and shredded Mexican blend cheese, all it takes is a twist of lime and a few chunks of a perfectly ripe avocado and you have a perfect weeknight meal that your whole family will love. …
Vegetables. A rainbow of vegetables of every color. To me these beautiful vegetables herald summer, and we’re all ready for that here in Minnesota! I’ve been trying to add more vegetables to the foods that my family has been eating as, I must admit, we have slipped into a rut over the winter. I’d also like to be a better steward of the planet by eating less meat (this is sadly not so easy for my family). One of the things I am trying to incorporate into our weekly meal plan is Meatless Monday. These Peanut Vegetable Noodles fit the bill!…
Greek Chicken and Barley Salad is an absolute staple in our house from spring until the early fall. An easy, crowd pleasing recipe, it is filled with fresh, colorful veggies and topped with tangy feta and salty kalamata olives. Shredded chicken rounds out the salad and really makes it a perfect one dish meal. The best part? It can be put together in about 40 minutes when using one or two quick short cuts and is perfect for toting along to work or school or even bringing to a neighborhood gathering. In the summer, all of the ingredients (with the exception of the barley, which I buy in bulk and keep on hand in the pantry) can be found at my local farmer’s market or in my herb garden, which makes it even more fun to make. Even my somewhat vegetable averse husband loves it and usually requests I make it at least once a week in the summer. I consider that a major win….
I was once afraid of making fish. Very, very afraid of making fish. I was even afraid of buying fish (unless at a restaurant of course)! It seemed like such a mystery! But then my daughter, who was a super picky eater, starting ordering salmon in restaurants (She was about 6, and shunned most kid foods) I cannot count the number of strange looks we got from waitstaff. As you can imagine, this got expensive fast. At about the same time I bought a cookbook (sense a recurring theme here?) that had a salmon orzo salad in it that looked amazing. This was all happening around the time that I was just learning to cook and I have to admit, I was initially at a loss. But all roads pointed to learning to cook salmon at home, so that is what I did….
So here in snowy Minnesota, we are enjoying a crazy awesome winter. Sunny, way warmer than usual, and as of today, only a tiny bit of snow on the ground! I can’t remember a winter that has been this mild, well…ever. I have to say all of this very mild weather has kept my mood from heading to despair (although I love living in a place that has 4 seasons- there is truly nothing like watching the snow fall from a window- I have little to no interest in actually spending time out in the cold…and trust me, I’ve sure tried to be interested). At this point of the winter I frequently need rescuing. Even though this winter has has been relatively mild, I’m still ecstatic that spring is on its way. Longer days, daylight when I wake up, birds chirping outside, and egg salad….
Homemade pizza, and specifically Prosciutto, Shallot, and Arugula Pizza, was on the menu for this past weekend. We spent a lovely weekend relaxing at our cabin, which means pajama days, family time, movies and of course, a lot of cooking. While at the co-op earlier this week, I asked my youngest what he wanted for dinner this weekend, and he replied “Homemade Pizza!”.
This is another one of my favorite ways to get my kids into the kitchen. My kids have been making their own pizzas since they were very young. I make up a batch of dough in the morning and when it gets closer to the time we are going to start making the pizzas, I prepare everyone’s preferred toppings. Everyone gathers around and stretches their own dough, adds their own sauce “decorates” their pizzas and then anxiously awaits the finished product. Since it’s a meal so easy to customize, it’s perfect for even the pickiest of kids!
For my son, homemade pizza means a pizza with pineapple chunks and mozzarella cheese. For my daughter, who will not touch cheese, it means a pizza with a ton of sauce and heaping mounds of pepperoni. It’s a little more complicated for my husband and I. On our very first date-almost 21 years ago-we went out for pizza. The big problem then was that I was a vegetarian, and he had not yet met a vegetable he was willing to put on a pizza. That first we night we settled on a cheese pizza, yep, plain cheese pizza. I am happy to report we have come a long way since then! Tonight’s masterpiece was one of our favorites-Prosciutto, Shallot, and Arugula Pizza. (I am happy to report, I am no longer a vegetarian, and my husband is no longer afraid of vegetables)
In order to make Prosciutto, Shallot, and Arugula Pizza, I crisp up some prosciutto in the oven. I always make a little extra since this goes so well on salads, pasta and just to munch on. I also caramelize some shallots in butter, which gives the shallots a sweet, rich taste, plus a few shallots always get crispy and are perfect for garnish. This pizza also features goat cheese and parmesan cheese for depth of flavor, although if you don’t like either of these two ingredients, never fear, you could always substitute all mozzarella cheese instead. Arugula finishes this pizza off with a hint of pepper and a beautiful green color. Prosciutto, Shallot and Arugula Pizza satisfies all of my pizza cravings with each perfect salty, peppery, crunchy bite.
So no matter if you like the same toppings we do, or something completely different, this recipe is for you. You can modify it to please any preferences. And it’s a great recipe to get the kids involved in-after all, kids are always more likely to eat foods that they helped prepare! You never know, you may even get lucky and inspire your older kids to keep on cooking-and make dessert! (My daughter, inspired by my time in the kitchen this weekend, spent her afternoon making us frosted brownies!)
- 1 envelope instant dry yeast
- 1½ cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3½ cups bread flour
- 2 ounces prosciutto
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large shallot (sliced-when sliced it will form rings, try to separate these rings)
- 1 Tablespoon cornmeal
- 1 Can/jar of pizza sauce (our favorite is Muir Glen Organic)
- 2 ounces goat cheese
- ¼ cup mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 handfuls of arugula leaves
- Place instant dry yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
- Add water, sugar, salt and olive oil.
- Turn mixer on and slowly add flour until dough forms a ball.
- Place into a lightly oiled bowl or plastic ziplock bag lightly oiled with olive oil
- Allow dough to rise for at least 1-2 hours, or until dough doubles.
- Split dough in half (for 2 14-inch pizzas). You will use one half of the dough for the remainder of the recipe-save the second half to make pizzas for the kids!
- When dough has 30 minutes left of rising (or you are 30 minutes from cooking your pizza), preheat oven to 400ºF
- Place proscuitto slices on a sheet pan (since my prosciutto comes in a 3 ounce package, I always crisp the whole 3 ounces, extras are useful!)
- Place into 400ºF oven for 10-15 minutes until crispy (keep an eye on this, burnt prosciutto is not good and thinner slices cook faster).
- Melt butter in a small skillet.
- Add shallot slices and caramelize at low heat, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Remove from heat.
- Turn oven up to 450ºF with pizza stone inside.
- Remove warm pizza stone and sprinkle with cornmeal (you may use less than 1 tablespoon).
- Stretch pizza dough (half of total recipe above) until it is in a circle (rustic is fine!).
- Spread desired amount of sauce onto pizza dough (I use no more than ½ cup-otherwise crust gets soggy).
- Sprinkle crumbled prosciutto onto pizza.
- Sprinkle cheeses (goat cheese, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese) over dough.
- Place in 450º oven for 15-18 minutes or until cheeses are melted and crust is golden.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Sprinkle arugula leaves over middle of pizza.
- Garnish with caramelized shallots.
- Slice and enjoy!