Tuesday, January 7, 2014

.cauliflower crust pizza.

from as far back as i can remember, i've had a favorite food. it is original, unique, nothing you've ever heard a child or adult rave about before. pizza.
since pinterest has been a thing, i've been intrigued by this cauliflower crust pizza craze. i've just never made it. until now.

i mean, blech...take this bland vegetable that looks more like a halloween prop than something edible and imagine it replacing my beloved pizza dough. did i mention blech? well i am here to tell you. this 'can you believe it?!' crust is crazy good. come on. make it with me.

make sand out of a small head of cauliflower in a food processor. it should make about three cups worth by the time you're done. now microwave it for four minutes in a microwave safe bowl. 

dump your 'caulisand' on a kitchen towel because you will soon be wringing every last drop of liquid out of it you can. let it cool for a few minutes before you do this so the micro-waves don't burn you. yep, super-scientific. 

heat your oven and pizza pan in it to 450 degrees. take your cauliflower and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze it inside your kitchen towel. your goal is to get all of the water out. this was the best workout i got all week. 
i digress.

in a small bowl, dump the cauliflower  (which will still seem wet). mix with both the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. then, mix in one egg.

stir in the kosher salt and herbs. roll the oregano between your fingers as your let it fall to bring out the aromatic properties.

remember, we're pretending this bowl of veggies is going to make a pizza. come on, keep up the charade with me. roll it into a "dough" ball and place on parchment paper.

make the pizza pie with your hands! go on, have fun. but wait- don't toss it in the air. that would make a giant mess. this is cauliflower after all.

slide the crust on parchment paper onto the preheated pizza pan and heat in the oven for about 10 minutes. i'm not going to deny that it will smell delicious when you pull it out.

top your pizza any way you like it or usually would. better yet, or usually wouldn't. put it back in the oven until your toppings are cooked; which took me about 8 minutes.

i couldn't wait to see what this very thin crusted pizza would taste like. i added pepperonis to my eye guy's half and was really hoping he wouldn't spit out a mouth full of pizza toppings upon a flat bread of cauliflower.

ok. i can't tell you how utterly shocked i was at how stinkin' delicious this pizza was. even my main squeeze thought it was a new delicious herb crust. he was dumbfounded when i told him what it was made of. we both found it so scrumptious and i hope you do too!

here's a peak at the bottom of the pizza. wish i could have another bite right now.


cauliflower crust pizza
adapted from the tasty kitchen blog

what you need
1 small head of cauliflower
1/4 cups parmesan cheese
1/4 cups mozzarella cheese
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

what you do

Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450ºF. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil.
Wash and throughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Don’t get one the size of your head unless you are planning on making 2 pizzas. Cut off the florets—you don’t need much stem, just stick with the florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. You should end up with 2 to 3 cups cauliflower “snow”. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Cook for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.
Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring the heck out of it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess.
Dumped squeezed cauliflower into a bowl. Now add Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, kosher salt, dried basil (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), dried oregano (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), garlic powder (not garlic salt), and a dash of red pepper if you want. I also added 1 tablespoon almond meal because my cauliflower yielded closer to 2 cups of cauli snow; this is optional and I would not add the almond meal if you have closer to 3 cups of cauli snow. Now add the egg and mix away. Hands tend to work best.
Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down throughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don’t make it too thick or thin either.
Using a cutting board, slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 8-11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.
Add however much sauce, cheese, and toppings you want. I’m not gonna give you measurements for this. You know how you like your pizza—so go for it! Slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden.
Test your patience and allow it to cool for a minute or two. Probably closer to two. Then using a pizza cutter and a spatula, serve up your delicious grain-free cauliflower crust pizza!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

.vegetable mac and cheese with a kick.

let's just put it out there. my blogging has taken a back burner lately. blame it on moving a million times. blame it on the baby. blame it on sleep (or the lack thereof). blame it on candy crush. blame it on the rain. 
regardless, i'm back with a delicious dish that can serve as a hearty side or even the main event. 

this macaroni and cheese is healthy for all you "being good this year" folks because it is packed with veggies. well, let's rephrase that. remove the mac and cheese and eat the veggies and you've got yourself a healthy dish.

dice up fresh red pepper, yellow squash, broccoli florets and carrots. not your mama's mac n cheese, right?

don't these colors look gorgeous together? they're about to be roasted to bring out the best of flavors.

with some hot olive oil, sauté the garlic and add a few tablespoons of flour. then, whisk in your milk. 

use whatever pasta suits your fancy. as an ode to all those bottles opened to ring in the new year, i went with corkscrew. 

now that you have your cheese base, throw in the cheese itself. this is the star of the dish, after all. (this is the opinion of a gal who would eat cheese over chocolate.)

here comes the kick. add crushed red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper. it is only enough to make you go hmm...without needing ice water glued to your hand.

add cooked pasta. 

stir in the roasted veggies.

cover the top with panko bread crumbs and broil for a few minutes. this is a hearty, savory, delicious version of a classic favorite.

vegetable mac and cheese with a kick

what you need
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped into small chunks
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 yellow squash, quartered and diced
10 baby carrots, sliced thinly
2 cups pasta (elbow macaroni, rotini, penne, etc.)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk

2 cups (8 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. panko breadcrumbs

what you do

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Set a medium pot of salted water to boil. Prepare a large baking sheet by lining with aluminum foil and coating with a little olive oil or nonstick cooking spray.
Toss broccoli, red pepper, squash and carrots onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until vegetables have softened. Remove from oven and set aside.
Once water is boiling, lower heat slightly and add pasta, cooking according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, stirring constantly until mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar cheese until well distributed and melted. Add red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Add macaroni and vegetables.
Place mixture in a large casserole dish and sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs. Place under the broiler in your oven (500 degrees) for 3-4 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.