Creamed Spinach, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizza

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I am so excited to finally write out this recipe. I think it  is quite possibly one of my favourite pizzas ever and will possibly become yours too. It is inspired by a Cooking Light Magazine recipe that I found at least 5 years ago. I used to love that magazine and still have stacks of issues that I just can’t part with. Of course I added all of the fats back into every recipe. Some may argue that defeated the purpose others will recognize that’s just good sense.

This recipe is not low fat by any means but I would say that compared to other pizzas it is a far cry from the heavy weight contenders you could have. Using a creamy garlic sauce reduces the need for lots of cheese and the toppings add so much flavour that a little goes a long way. I also have butter and olive oil hanging out together. The butter adds flavour while the olive oil lightens it up a bit and adds some healthier fats too.

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The original recipe called for the spinach to be cooked in a small amount of bacon fat and then spread over the pizza. The problem with this is spinach’s miraculous ability to shrink into almost next to nothing. It made spreading it at all almost impossible and it was pretty skimp. Instead I have taken the bacon fat right out and added the spinach into the cream sauce. I have used both frozen and fresh and it works great either way. This makes a pizza base that reminds me of creamed spinach, hence the name…

It also means that I felt totally justified adding in two more strips of bacon then the original :0

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Using Balsamic vinegar helps to sweeten and caramelize the onions quickly. I don’t have time most nights to patiently wait for my onions to slowly cook down so I find this speeds up the process and adds a little extra flavour too.

If you are a vegetarian please don’t ignore or overlook this recipe! I made it for a veggie friend and without the bacon it was still amazing. I had considered making the coconut vegetarian version I have seen on Pinterest but got tired and decided it was just fine without it.

This recipe makes two pizzas.

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I use Bobby Flay’s Pizza Dough Recipe

Preheat your oven to 425

Caramelized Onions

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp Olive oil
2 medium onions thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
tsp of sugar
1/4 cup stock (chicken or veggie)
Salt to taste

In a sauté pan over medium heat melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onions, sugar and the balsamic vinegar and allow the onions to soften. Pour in the stock and continue cooking until the stock has reduced and the onions are soft and caramelized. Season with salt to taste.

Spinach Cream Sauce

1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Tbsps flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 finely chopped clove of garlic
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 bag frozen spinach, thawed and drained or One 5 oz package of fresh spinach
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan over medium low heat melt the butter with the olive oil. Whisk in the flour and continue stirring until a thick paste is formed. Warm the milk in the microwave for about 1 min. Slowly pour the warmed milk over the flour and butter constantly whisking. Continue until all of the milk has been added and the mixture is smooth. Thicken the sauce until it is able to coat the back of a spoon.

Stir in the nutmeg, spinach and garlic. Cook about another minute and then remove the sauce from heat.

Add in the parmesan cheese, stir and season sparingly with salt to taste.

Bacon

6 slices of Bacon

Slice the bacon into small pieces. In a pan over medium heat crisp the bacon. Once crisped remove the bacon from the pan and allow to drain on paper towel.

2 cups grated extra old white cheddar cheese

For each Pizza spread one half of the creamy spinach over the crust. Top with half of the caramelized onions and half of the bacon. Sprinkle one cup of the grated cheese over the top.

If you’re like me and don’t have a pizza stone or a wood burning pizza oven, preheat your pizza pan in the oven while the oven heats. When it’s hot sprinkle on just a little cornmeal and then lay out your pizza crust. I find this helps crisp up the crust and prevents a soggy bottom, (very undesirable).

Bake in 425 oven for about 15-17 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbling

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I’d love to know what you thought, leave me a comment or just say hi.

If you’d nightly ideas for supper check out my Facebook page www.facebook.com/myweeklydish. I share meal inspiration, recipes and tips and for feeding your family and friends

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Tuna Noodle Casserole

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Do you ever do a little cleaning of your kitchen cupboards and find something in the back you totally forgot you had and really aren’t sure what to do with?

I do it all the time and I hate wasting food so I need to be pretty creative. A while ago I found a bag of goldfish crackers. My kids love them but this bag was a little salty so I put it in the cupboard and well that’s where it stayed. Until I needed a topping for my tuna casserole recipe.

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I’ll be honest this is not a recipe I ever thought I would be working on. I had a traumatizing incident with tuna and noodles as a child (sorry dad) and until last year I had never actually tried it again. But being budget concious and having a hubby who grew up with comfort food like this, made me want to give it a try again.

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Lets call it an exercise in moving forward and letting go of the past:)

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I used a white sauce with lots of veggies to make a tasty and canned soup free casserole that comes together pretty quick. The goldfish crackers make a great crust but if you are short on time you could skip the baking step and it would still be great.

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Tuna Noodle Casserole

1 package of broad noodles

1 Tbsp canola or olive oil
1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
1 cup of diced carrots (about 1 large carrot)
1 cup of diced celery (about 2 stalks celery)
1 cup of frozen peas
2 cloves of crushed garlic
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp mustard powder (grainy mustard would work too)
1 bayleaf
2 cups of milk
2 cans of chunk tuna

preheat the oven to 350

Prepare the noodles to the package instructions.

In a large saucepan heat the canola to medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery to the pan and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking for about 30 seconds. Melt in the butter and stir in the flour. Add the mustard powder and the bay leaf.

Heat the milk until  luke warm (I use my microwave and it’s about 45-60 seconds), slowly add it to the veggies and flour, stirring constantly.

Once it’s all mixed together add the peas and simmer the sauce until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon then remove the bay leaf

In a large casserole dish spread out the noodles and pour over the sauce. Fold in the tuna and top with the goldfish crust

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Goldfish crust

1 1/2 cups crushed gold fish crackers
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 Tbsps melted butter
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Bake the casserole for about 45 minutes

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My sister decorated this plate almost thirty years ago. It was one of those ones you colour and than bake. I think it’s one of my most treasured dishes.

Well there’s my version of a meal I’m sure most of us have eaten at some point. I just happen to think mine’s awesome. Hope it makes your family and friends as happy as mine. Let me know what you think

I also post nightly meals on my Facebook page if you’re looking for inspiration www.facebook.com/myweeklydish

Kale and Butternut Squash Pizza

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We meditate in our staff meetings.

Our coordinator leads the visualization and it’s about 5-10 minutes. Usually it takes me the first two to remember to breathe and relax then I’m good. I can use the time to truly become present which is a great way to start a meeting.

It’s great in practice and normally I love the chance to gather my chaotic brain but today I couldn’t focus for even a second.

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Today I only had one train of thought ricocheting around in this little noggin and that was….

Would I put garlic and sage in the sauce or should I put the sage in with the squash???

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Seriously, I spent the entire time I was supposed to be grounding myself and connecting with my breathe on wondering which herbs would go where and if I should use more or less cheese.

I have come to realize that food is more than a hobby for me and if I ever have an opportunity to make this a career let me tell ya I will jump at the chance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I work with families in a way that I feel brings real hope and we can make a huge impact but all I want to do is feed them and cook with them while we talk.20131113-212750.jpg

Maybe that’s what my goal should be. I could be the cooking counsellor. I would invite people to my kitchen and we would cook together while discussing their concerns and planning what to do. Then we would eat a lovely meal build our relationship and everyone would be the happier and wiser.

There may be some insurance concerns though… Some people just shouldn’t be given pointy things and even I burn myself on an almost daily basis.
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Oh well the idea was fun

Until then here’s the recipe that I worked out while I should have been meditating.

It’s a perfect fall pizza with ingredients that are in season and usually available locally. Kale and sweet squash seem to pair wonderfully and mingling with a little sage and parmesan makes this pizza something I could eat way too much of. I also went with the theory that if you’re feeding non-vegetarians a veggie based meal, cheese usually makes them happy.20131113-212731.jpg

Actually I’m really not using that much cheese compared to an average pizza. The bechamel base adds a creaminess that helped ease the cheese. If you wanted to cut back on the butter too I have made white sauces with olive oil quite successfully.

This pizza was also the first time I have used a home made crust. Usually we just don’t have time but hubby was off and loves baking so he prepped the crust earlier today. We used this Recipe

Kale and Butternut Squash Pizza

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 cups diced Butternut squash (about half a medium sized squash)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 bunch of kale chopped 
salt and pepper

Garlic Parmesan Sauce

1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 clove of garlic finely diced
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
pinch of both chili flakes and nutmeg

1 cup of old white cheddar or mozzerella
Parmesan 

Makes 2 pizzas

Preheat oven to 425F

In a medium saucepan over medium heat warm 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the squash, season with salt and pepper sautéing for 5 minutes then add the fresh sage. Continue cooking for up to another 5 minutes until the squash is fork tender then set aside.

In a seperate pan heat the 2nd Tbsp of oil and wilt the kale, cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper

In a small sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes regularly whisking. Warm the milk (I used the microwave) and slowly stir into the flour and butter. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken then stir in the parmesan, garlic, chili flake and nutmeg. Once the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon remove from heat and set aside.

I used a metal pizza pan sprinkled with cornmeal. I find this helps it not stick and get crisp on the bottom.

Spread the crusts with the garlic cream sauce then layer on the kale and squash. Top with the grated cheese and sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan.

Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes or until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbly

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Please leave me a comment letting me know how your family or friends enjoyed it or really anything you have to share:)

I have a Facebook page too if you want to come on over and check it out. I post nightly meals, ideas, and share about how I feed my family healthy and tasty meals.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

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Every time my husband meets a vegetarian he asks if they eat bacon. The man is convinced that even vegetarians can’t resist it and that they all obviously cheat. I honestly think he struggles to believe that a person could happily choose to not eat meat. It’s terribly embarrassing and thankfully my vegetarian friends have been submitted to sillier questions so they  laugh it off.

I’m not really surprised though. When I met his family and told them that I was a past vegetarian  they had a hard time imagining a person living on carrots and potatoes. Meat was central to family dinners and hubby just came to expect to see it on his plate.

I didn’t help much either, at least at first. When we first started dating I  adapted my mostly veggie ways and made meals more to his tastes and preferences. I guess I believed the saying “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. Over time this started to drive me a little batty, (shocking), and since he isn’t the cook in the house I decided to cook the way I prefer. I dropped the meat-ccentric meals and slowly shifted our diet to the veggie focused way I ate before he came around

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More recently I’ve managed to get us eating  three vegetarian meals a week, (our budget is thrilled). It’s taken some finessing and finagling to keep a meat eater happy with all veggies for dinner, but other than the odd request for an entire ham for supper I think he’s adapted well. One of the tricks I’ve learnt is to give him something that’s familiar like pizza or a burrito. He already knows he likes them so he’s willing to try a veggie version.

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These burritos are a great example. The combination of sweet potatoes, beans and cheese provide not only all the nutrients you need but come in a familiar package. Plus they are filling and hearty enough to satisfy hubby. The kids loved them and I get my way, which of course always makes me happy.20131024-183631.jpg

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup diced onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1 clove crushed garlic
2 cups small cubed sweet potato
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 can black beans
1 cup diced red pepper (about 1 pepper)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup veggie stock
2 Tbsps lime juice (about 1 lime)
1 tsp honey
salt to taste

2 cups of grated cheese
6 tortillas

In a large skillet melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to become translucent. Stir in the garlic, cumin and chili powder cooking another 30 seconds or so then add the sweet potato. Continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes or until they are fork tender.

In a separate bowl combine the stock, honey and lime juice.

Stir the beans and peppers in with the sweet potatoes and pour the stock mixture over top. Cover the pan and leave for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the sweet potatoes are cooked through and most of the sauce has been absorbed. Season with salt and sprinkle in the cilantro

Lay out the tortillas and place about a half cup of the mixture near one edge of the tortilla and sprinkle in a layer of cheese.

Roll and place in a clean skillet.

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Place a heavy pot or another pan over top and cook over medium low heat for a few minutes on each side until golden brown.

Serve with salsa and plain yogurt:)

I hope these burritos make your family as happy as ours and that they satisfy even your most carnivorous members. Enjoy and have a yummy week!

This is my first time including a video. I’d love to know what you think! I also share dinner ideas on my Facebook page @ www.facebook.com/myweeklydish

Painted Plates

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Curried Cauliflower with Almonds, Raisins, Spinach and Gnocchi

For some people art or music is their source of creative expression. Not me, I can scribble a little and love music but it’s not an outlet or an extension of my personality. For me the most creative and most me I feel is in the kitchen. It’s my canvas

The prep is my meditation, I get into Zen mode thinking out the rough form of a recipe. And as I cut and prep it’s like an artist sketching in pencil before picking up the paints. Then cooking starts and I find myself tasting and dancing around the kitchen. Smelling spices and peeking back in the fridge.  New ideas coming like little jolts from the divine cooking gods. “What about curry….oooohhhhh what about curry and raisins…yes!”. I feel free and joyful and excited to share my masterpiece, (or crayon drawing, depending on the day). Continue Reading »

Curried Yogurt Marinade

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or How to Make Anything Taste Good

Years ago I realized I go through so many dried herbs and spices that those little dink jars  were just silly. So I started buying in bulk and storing them in reused glass jars with the label washed off. I’ve been using the same jars for so long that I know what size jar the chili powder is in and that the cumin’s lid has a trace of rust on it. However, if you aren’t me and don’t know the jars and aren’t super familiar with what’s in them cooking could be a bit of a crap shoot.

My spice cupboard

My spice cupboard

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Comfort in a bowl – Split pea soup

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My husband grew up in a small community in rural Newfoundland. It’s really small, like 400 people small. He spent most of his time outdoors on dirt bikes, snow mobiles or on the water and not much time watching Much Music or wearing neon. Because of this I sometimes tease that he grew up under a rock, (or on a rock depending on how you look at it). However, both of us were pretty fortunate and had adventurous cooks in our homes. It’s probably why he loves me so much.

His dad is the cook in the home and always willing to try new things in the kitchen. However, in his own way he is really picky and there were certain meals that didn’t make it to the table like pizza or pasta.  I think that’s why to me its so cute that when hubbers was growing up and they got to go to a restaurant he ordered pea soup. Going out for supper in such a small community would be a big deal. And my lovely, sweet man wanted pea soup. Continue Reading »

Tomato and Zucchini Pasta

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When I want creamy pasta I want it to be two things, rich and delicious. To me, it’s supposed to taste a little decadent, like there could possibly be a litre of whipping cream and a pound of butter floating around in there. The problem is that I love pasta so much that if I cooked it that way I would be 5000 lbs with at least 10 heart attacks under my belt. So, instead I’ve created my own pasta template that uses cream cheese to mimic that creaminess but doesn’t have a billion calories, (only 1000’s), (actually I have no idea but I think it’s not too bad…). Continue Reading »

Weekly Meal Plan – Community Garden

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When you live in a town house there are pros and cons. I don’t have to mow my lawn, worry about maintenance and it’s nice to know we’re surrounded by people that are quick to lend a hand. Especially the weeks when I’m on my own. The biggest drawbacks are the horribly small kitchen that I complain about daily and the teeny tiny yard. With two kids and a large dog it makes for a limited space to play.

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Happy gardener

So having a community garden as a yard extension has been my life saver. Continue Reading »

Crispy Fish Sandwich with Tartar Sauce

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One of the things that keeps my husband from getting too homesick is the amazing fish we have here on the West Coast. Honestly, I can’t think of a more comforting meal for an Islander (East or West) then fish and chips. So  it was brutally disappointing when the fish and chip dinner we went out for was utter crap. Normally I would say something but we were at the end of a long outing, had hungry kids and it just felt like more effort then eating what was tolerable and calling it a night.

Fortunately, I had bought some Pacific cod earlier that day and the next evening I decided to make up for our horrible dinner, especially since I felt responsible for picking the restaurant… Continue Reading »