27 March 2009

It's been a while since I got creative and made a new tortilla pizza, but I just made the yummiest one ever for lunch today. Sorry there are no measurements; when I make it again I will measure what I use.

Spinach Alfredo Pizza with Turkey

1 large flour tortilla
1 tbsp olive oil
alfredo sauce (I use jarred)
1 large handful frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained
1 clove garlic
turkey or chicken breast, cooked and diced finely
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place tortilla on a thin baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on and spread to evenly coat tortilla, all the way to the edges (I use a silicone basting brush). You can leave this step out if you like, but it makes the tortilla really crispy, which is a must for me. Spread a layer of alfredo sauce on the tortilla, leaving about ¾" around the edge. Sprinkle on spinach, making sure it is completely dry. Grate or very finely mince garlic and sprinkle on top of spinach. Top with turkey or chicken breast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle generously with parmesan. Cut with pizza cutter and serve.

Makes 1 serving.

Man, this turned out better than I thought it would! I wish I had made two! Great use for leftover stuff I usually have in the fridge. The garlic is a must and hopefully next time I make it I will have some shallots laying around because I think that would be a great addition as well.

24 March 2009

Another new tilapia recipe.  I found this one on Recipezaar.  I made just a couple of changes to it.

Baked Tilapia with Spinach and Tomatoes

1 (8 oz.) bag baby spinach, rinsed and drained
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 tilapia fillets
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano, and garlic
1 small onion, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray or oil a 9 x 13” baking dish.  Layer dish this way: spinach, garlic, tilapia, parmesan, tomatoes, and onions.  Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes.  

Serve over couscous or rice.

Makes 4 servings.

The first picture is of the dish going into the oven.  The one below is when it came out of the oven.  The original recipe didn't call for garlic, but I love garlic and spinach together, so I threw some in.  It said to bake it only 15 minutes covered, then to uncover it and bake until the fish flakes.  When I checked on it after 15 minutes, I saw that the spinach hadn't wilted down like I had expected.  So I left the foil on, thinking that would help the spinach wilt, and baked it another 15 minutes.  After that, the spinach still wasn't quite as wilty as I was expecting, but I didn't want to overcook the fish, so I took it out.  It was okay the way it was, but I think it would have been better with softer spinach.  I will probably try this again.  Maybe I will try decreasing the oven temp a bit so that I can cook it longer without turning the fish to mush.

Jim loved this dish.  He doesn't usually like tomatoes, but he loved them in this.  He ate so many he had bad heartburn that night!  I'm still having to force myself to eat the tilapia, but I did like it prepared this way.  As you can see in the photo below, there is so much other stuff on the plate, you can barely see the fish!

12 March 2009

This recipe came from bhg.com.  I have been wanting to expand my repertoire of slow cooker soups, so I thought I would give it a try.  I changed a few things about it as I was making it.  Here is how I made it.

Creamed Chicken and Corn Soup

16  oz. cooked chicken breast, cubed
2  10.5 oz. cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1  14.75 oz. can cream-style corn
2  cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2  cups chopped carrot 
1  cup finely chopped onion 
½ tsp celery salt
1  15 oz. can whole kernel corn (or 1 cup frozen)

In a 3 ½ or 4 quart slow cooker, combine chicken, chicken soup, cream-style corn, chicken broth, carrot, onion, celery salt, and corn.  Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours or on high for 2 ½  to 3 hours.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: If you prefer, you can put raw chicken breasts into the soup instead of cooked. When done, take them out and chop them and put them back into the soup before serving.

So after cooking it on low for 6 and a half hours, the carrots were still quite firm and the onions weren't as soft as I would have liked (I didn't mind them, but I knew Jim would.)  And it just wasn't what I had been expecting.  I expected it to be more of a chowder.  In fact, I thought it was called a chowder and didn't realize it is termed a soup until I looked at it now to blog about it.  I'm not sure why I thought it was a chowder; I think it may be because of the picture on the website.  It looks thick like a chowder.  So that's what I was expecting, but it was definitely more of a soup.  I tried stirring in some corn starch, but that didn't seem to help.  Maybe because it has to come back up to a boil for the corn starch to thicken it?  I don't know.  But since the carrots and the onions weren't done, I decided to let it cook a while longer.  Unfortunately, we didn't have time to wait for it.  We had a meeting at church, so I left it simmering in the crock pot and we hit Subway on our way to church.  By the time I got home (long meeting!), the carrots and onions were more to my liking, even though the soup as a whole hadn't thickened up very much.  I refrigerated it overnight and took it to church on Wednesday for our Lenten meal which happened to be a soup night.  It turns out that refrigerating it and letting the ingredients meld a bit really helped to thicken it up.  It ended up much more chowder-like.  

So, I'm not really sure I will make this again.  If I could figure out a way to make it thicker so I could serve it the day I made it, I probably would because it was pretty good. But I'm not really sure how to do that.  Maybe I'll try it again someday.

06 March 2009

We tried a new vegetable tonight.  I've really been interested in trying new vegetables and new vegetable recipes lately.  Nuking frozen peas over and over again is getting boring!  I'm not sure if I mentioned this before or not, but I recently purchased the cookbook, Perfect Vegetables.  It has the best method for cooking each vegetable and has recipes to go along.  

Anyway, now I love perusing the produce department at the grocery store to look at all of the different vegetables I haven't tried yet.  The Meijer I do my monthly shopping at has a really nice produce section with lots of out-of-the-ordinary veggies.  Yesterday I came across something called broccoflower.  It kind of looks like green cauliflower, but has weird geometrical spikes on it instead of the usual clumpy head.  I assumed it was a cross between broccoli and cauliflower, but it doesn't really look anything like broccoli.

So I bought it and after I got home I looked it up.  It turns out that the term broccoflower can refer to two different things.  One is green cauliflower and the other is what I bought, a different type of cauliflower also known as Italian cauliflower or Romanesco broccoli.  That name is deceiving because it is not a cross between broccoli and cauliflower; it is just a different variety of cauliflower.  I guess it got that name because of the green color.  It is quite interesting, though, because of the pattern of the head, as you can see from the picture above.  The dark green spots are the result of bruising it received in my car on the way home.

To prepare it, I read that you cut it up similar to regular cauliflower.  I cut the core out and proceeded to cut off the florets.  Another difference from regular cauliflower is that the head is less dense and the florets have actual stems.  This was the one way in which it resembled broccoli to me.  The stems looked like broccoli stems, but were much more tender and not woody at all.  

To cook it, I just steamed the florets.  The broccoflower does taste a lot like regular cauliflower, but it is slightly sweeter.  It is more mild than regular cauliflower.  I didn't take a picture of the cooked broccoflower because it looked exactly the same as raw.  It was really good.  I would definitely buy it again.

And it's very nutritious.  One cup raw provides 20 calories, almost 2 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 56 mg of calcium.

04 March 2009

I've recently started serving tilapia at our house. It took me so long because I am really not a fan of white fish, so I usually avoid it.  But I saw frozen tilapia fillets at the store and they were really inexpensive. Every time I shop, I notice the price of salmon fillets going up, and I know it's good to have seafood in our diets, so I decided to give the tilapia a try. 

The first time I made it, I just seasoned it with salt and pepper and roasted it at 400° with some fresh asparagus.  It was okay; the asparagus took longer to cook than the tilapia, so the tilapia ended a bit overcooked and mushy.  But it wasn't horrible.

Last night I tried something different with it.  I coated it with a mustard-ranch spread and dipped it in Panko.  Then I browned it up in the skillet.  Here's the recipe.

Mustard Crusted Tilapia

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tilapia fillets (I use the individually-frozen kind)
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 tbsp ranch dressing
2 cups Panko bread crumbs

Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Pat tilapia dry.  Combine mustard and dressing and brush over tilapia.  Then coat tilapia in panko.  

Brown in the skillet until fish is cooked though and coating is crisp, a few minutes on each side.  Be careful when flipping the fillets as they are quite fragile.  (I used two pancake turners.)

Makes 2 servings.

The reason I combined the mustard and the ranch is because I thought the mustard alone would be a bit too intense.  The ranch really did a nice job of mellowing it out and adding a nice flavor.

The coating did fall off a little bit.  It really wasn't too bad, but I might try to experiment with ways to keep it on better.  But it tasted really great.  The tilapia was good with a nice crispy coating on it.  

I'm still not that crazy about white fish, but I know it's something I should eat and I found a few recipes online I would like to try as well, so you will probably be seeing more about tilapia in the near future.