Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza

Caramalized Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza

I haven’t posted a recipe here in a LONG time. While I’ve made a few “fancy” dishes, most of our meals are on the simple side. It’s more about getting (mostly) healthy food on the table in a timely manner at this stage in our lives. Especially with Big Man’s non-traditional work schedule, there are weeks when dinner is grilled cheese or PB&J sandwiches almost every night.

But sometimes I get a little creative and do something out of the ordinary, like I did with this pizza. We have homemade pizza at least once a week, and usually the toppings are a mix of cheese, veggies, and meat, based on what I have in the house. But Big Man and I had picked up a smoked goat cheese in the local natural market and I decided to build a pizza around that.

I find any kind of smoked cheese to be quite strong  for my taste, and goat cheese has that natural tangy flavor as well. So I figured caramelized onions would balance out the tartness and a garlic and olive oil base would work better than the usual marinara. I used a good dose of shredded mozzerella as well and ended up with a really yummy pizza! It was definitely different from our usual pizza night (although I made a mini cheese and marinara pizza for the Little Ones) but I didn’t have to spend a lot of extra time in the kitchen or buy ton of unique ingredients. Big Man and I enjoyed sharing more “sophisticated” fare even though we weren’t at a restaurant.

If you’re looking for a different spin on pizza night, I hope you’ll try this. Add a glass of wine and it gives a weekday dinner a nice break from the usual.

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza (original recipe)

Yield: 1 12-inch pizza

  • 1 dough ball (1/2 of my favorite recipe, or your favorite pizza dough recipe)
  • 1 medium onion (I used a red one), thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (more or less to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. smoked goat cheese

1) Half an hour before you want to cook the pizza, preheat your oven to 500 degrees F, with a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven.

2) Caramelize the onions. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and when it starts to foam, add the sliced onions. Stir once to coat the onions and then leave them alone for 5 minutes. Then, stir in the salt, sugar, and thyme. Reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet, leaving the lid ajar to let steam escape. Continue cooking on low heat for 30 minutes, or until the onions caramlize. Be sure to stir occasionally to all the onions cook evenly. Note: You can make the caramelized onions up to 2 days in advance and keep them in the fridge.

3) Roll out the pizza dough into a thin circle, about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer to your pizza peel and brush the whole surface with olive oil. Add the minced garlic evenly over the oil, then add the caramelized onions (when I made this, I put the onions on last but they got overly dark in the oven, so in the future I will cover the onions with the cheese). Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese, then use your fingers to break the goat cheese into very small pieces and distribute evenly over the pizza.

4) Transfer to your preheated pizza stone and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling. Let sit for a few minutes before slicing.

5) Enjoy!

Honey Lime Chicken Enchilada Casserole

So, I’ve spent all day trying to think of a funny and/or creative into to this post.  And I’ve miserably failed so far. I think I’m going to claim writer’s block and have some chocolate to make myself feel better.

Despite the lack of introduction for this post, but this dish is just so good that I had to share it anyway. I originally found this recipe for Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas over at The Well-Fed Newlyweds and Big Man and I absolutely loved it! The flavors are so bright and unique and it’s a nice change from normal enchiladas with red sauce. I love how the sweet honey and gooey cheese balance the zing from the lime juice and chili powder. However, rolling the individual enchiladas was a little time consuming (and messy) and I was never able to serve them out of the pan without at least one unrolling so I decided to just make a casserole version instead. It’s layers of yumminess! After playing around with the ingredient amounts and casserole assembly, I finally came up with the perfect way to get these awesome flavors into an easy to make and serve form. That leaves just enough time to stir up a batch of margaritas to enjoy as well!

Honey Lime Chicken Enchilada Casserole (Adapted from The Well-Fed Newlyweds)

4 tbs. honey
3-1/2 tbs. lime juice (I use those little green plastic “juice grenades” you keep in the fridge, but you can use real limes)
2/3 tbs. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1-1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded (I just roast chicken breasts in the oven, but you could also shred a rotisserie chicken to make it even easier)
6-7 flour tortillas, snack size (6 inch diameter)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
10 oz. green enchilada sauce
3/4 cup half and half

In a bowl, whisk together the honey, lime juice, chili powder, and garlic powder. Add in the shredded chicken and stir thoroughly to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

To assemble the casserole, first cut the tortillas in half. Then, remove the chicken from the marinade and stir the enchilada sauce and half and half into the remaining marinade. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray an 8×8 square with cooking spray (or lightly grease). Add 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce mixture and turn the pan so the sauce coats the bottom. Layer in 4 tortillas halves, with the cut sides against the pan walls and the curved sides toward the middle, as shown. If desired, you can add another tortillas half at the center to cover the gap.

Distribute half of the shredded chicken over the tortillas. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese, and spoon 1/3 of the sauce mixture evenly over the top.

Repeat with another layer of tortillas, the rest of the chicken, and another 1/3 of the cheese and sauce.

Add the last layer of tortillas. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the tortillas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. Let cool for about 5 minutes before cutting to make serving easier.

Garlic Knots

Things have been busy here! Little Man had his second birthday party this past weekend and loved every minute of it. Rainbow cupcakes, balloons, gifts, and tons of love and attention; what’s not to love? He is talking more and more, learning to kick a soccer ball, and rocking his new “big boy” haircut.

Little Lady is getting so big! She is starting to crawl, babble, and she finds the world utterly fascinating, especially her big brother. She really enjoys trying out new foods and her hair is finally starting to grow (slowly)!

In the midst of all this, we still have all the rest of the normal life stuff, like Big Man’s job, church, grocery shopping, cleaning, and cooking. It can be a bit overwhelming, and I am learning that it is not only OK, but necessary to admit that I can’t do everything all the time. Not that Big Man asks me to do everything; he helps out so much. But there are days when we are both pretty tired and everything just feels a little off kilter.

This past week was a little rough, so when my mom called and asked if I would like her to drop off some homemade chicken soup for dinner, it was a wonderful treat! A yummy, healthy meal (even Little Man loves that soup) that I don’t have to cook? Yes, absolutely. Thank you, Mom! Since the main course was taken care of, I figured it would be nice to make some dinner rolls to go with the soup. I found this recipe on Tasty Kitchen and tweaked it a little to our tastes, and to account for the high altitude.

These rolls were a perfect accompaniment to the soup. Soft and fluffy, with just the right amount of garlic and spices on top. And the recipe was super easy: you don’t even need a mixer! I mixed the dough with a wooden spoon and kneaded by hand. I especially liked that the recipe only made 5 rolls, so I didn’t have to worry about having too many leftovers. I’ll definitely be making these rolls again soon, and I hope you will too!

Garlic Knots (adapted from Tasty Kitchen)

1-1/2 cups bread flour*
1/2 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. quick-rise (instant) dry yeast
1 (scant) tsp. salt*
1 tbs. olive oil
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp. minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 tbs. butter, melted
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried parsley
*These measurements are for high altitude baking. If you are not at high altitude, use 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour, and 1/2 tsp salt.

 

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the olive oil, milk, and water, and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms (it will be quite wet and sticky). Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic (you may have to add more flour). Transfer to a bowl that has been lightly oiled or sprayed with cooking spray and turn dough once to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for one hour.

Turn out risen dough onto floured surface and divide into 5 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope (about 3/4 to 1 inch diameter) and tie into a knot, tucking the ends under. Place rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Cover with a clean towel and let rise 45 minutes, until the rolls look puffy.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make the topping, combine melted butter with garlic and herbs. Brush the topping onto the risen rolls, and bake until golden brown, about 16-20 minutes. Enjoy warm with your favorite soup or chili.

Weeknight Spaghetti and Meatballs

If I ever have time and money to burn, I would like to go to culinary school. I’d love to learn fancy-food dishes and techniques, use top-of-the-line equipment, and get to try lots of interesting things. I doubt that will ever happen, but I am blessed that Big Man lets me play “chef” and try new dishes and techniques even though he isn’t really the foodie type. (And if I’m being honest here, I am not really a true foodie either, I’m a wannabe. I’ll try just about any type of food, but what I actually eat day to day fits a 5 years old’s palate better than that of a Food Network star. Scallops, truffles, vegetables? Not so much. Sugar cereal, pepperoni pizza, and grilled-cheese-ketchup sandwiches? Yes, absolutely.) So a couple times a month I try cooking or baking something fancy and foodie-like, and it is something I really enjoy. But most of the time my recipes revolve around “normal” food, the simple, tasty thing that Big Man, Little Man, and I love eating.

So here is another weeknight recipe. Spaghetti and meatballs with a homemade sauce that is easy and quick enough to make on a weeknight. The sauce is a variation of 3 Ingredient Sauce from Smells Like Home and the Meatballs are from Savory Sweet Life. I added a couple things to the sauce, but the meatball recipe isn’t changed at all. I just cut it in half when I don’t want leftover meatballs and half the recipe makes just enough for 2 adults and a toddler. And if you are really in a time crunch, do bother sauteeing the onions and garlic for the meatballs, just mix them in raw. I’ve done it before and it works fine.

Sauce

1 28 oz. can peeled crushed tomatoes
5 tbs unsalted butter
1 yellow onion (or Vidalia when in season), peeled and cut in half
3 tbs half and half or heavy cream
1/2 tsp sea salt

Combine tomatoes, butter and onion is large saucepan. Heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt and half and half/cream and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove onion and serve over hot cooked spaghetti.

Meatballs (serves 2)

1/2 lb ground beef
1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, cool slightly. In a large bowl, add all ingredients with onion and garlic and mix by hand until combined. Form golf-ball sized meatballs and brown on all sides in skillet (add more oil if needed). Once meatballs are browned, transfer skillet to oven (if oven-safe, otherwise place meatballs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper) and bake for 15 minutes. Serve over hot cooked spaghetti and sauce.

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Reality and Homemade Bread

Before I started homekeeping I had all these grand (read: unrealistic) ideas of things I would do. I would keep the house spotlessly clean and beautifully decorated. I would keep the kids entertained with interactive and educational games that I invented. I would make dinner from scratch for Big Man every night and have it ready when he came home from work. I would have all this extra time to invest in myself as well: I’d read more “real” books like non-fiction and classics, I’d learn some useful craft like crocheting, and I’d teach myself to make candles or something else to sell on Etsy.

Then I actually started homekeeping and reality set in. I consider the house clean if I’ve vacuumed in the last week or so and decorated if I light a scented candle. I do play with the kids but usually it is some game with Little Man that he made up using things like cooking utensils or laundry. No Baby Einstein here, and there are plenty of days that I put in a Disney movie for Little Man to watch because it gives me a break to do something non-kid-related like check email or surf the Internet. I don’t make dinner every night and even when I do it is sometimes Hamburger Helper. I still can’t make candles or crochet, and while I am slowly making it through my list of “real” books to read, I generally pick up a novel or magazine if I get time to read. Dickens or Shakespeare not so much.
But I bake homemade bread. It is one of the few things from my unrealistic homekeeping list that I actually do. I love how the house smells when bread is baking, and having homemade bread instead of store-bought makes me feel like a successful homekeeper. The best part is that I don’t have to invest a lot of time to get the payout of homemade bread, thanks to the geniuses that wrote Artisan Bread in Five Minutes Day.  This is one of the greatest cookbooks ever, especially because their method actually works! I have tried lots of recipes for different things that don’t work out as advertised (I’ve never been able to make a 30-minute-meal in 30 minutes) but this bread does. I adapted the recipe according to some of the authors’ suggestions because I live at high altitude. Basically I went a little light on the yeast measurement, a little heavy on the salt and used bread flour instead of all purpose. Below is my version of the Master Bread Recipe from the book. I get two nicely rounded 9x4x3 loaves, but there are several other ways to use the dough (see the book). Once you try this method for baking bread at home it will change your life. Seriously. Just try it and see. Seriously
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbs (rounded)  Kosher salt
1 1/2 tbs (scant) yeast, I use Rapid Rise
6 1/2 cups bread flour
Stir together water, salt, and yeast in bowl of a stand mixer. Add flour all at once and mix using the dough hook until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Let dough rest 1.5-2 hours until it rises and collapses or flattens on top. Refrigerate at this point or bake right away. To refrigerate, cover bowl (not airtight) and use over the next 14 days.
To bake, sprinkle flour over dough and divide in half. Shape half into a ball and then elongate to fit inside loaf pan. Drop into greased loaf pan and let rest 40 minutes if fresh and 1 hour 40 minutes if refrigerated. (I usually make one loaf right after I mix the dough and refrigerate the rest for another loaf later in the week). Preheat oven to 450 degrees, making sure there is a broiler pan on the lower rack. When oven is ready, dust top of loaf with flour and slash with a sharp knife. Put loaf pan on upper rack and pour 1 cup hot water into broiler pan on lower rack. Close the door quickly so the steam doesn’t escape. Bake 35-45 minutes until top is crusty and deep golden brown. Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing. *Then cover a slice with a thick layer of butter and eat while flipping through Redbook or reading a fluffy novel.*
*Serving suggestion only. You could do something way more sophisticated, like spread with Gorgonzola, pear slices, and honey to enjoy with a glass of wine and Tale of Two Cities. Your call.

Berry Pie Bars

My maternal grandmother was a master baker. She loved baking and was very good at it.  During the holidays she baked pies to give away as gifts.  Not just a few pies for family members and maybe the postman.  No, we’re talking 50+ pies at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And those were 100% homemade from scratch, crust and all.

I didn’t inherit all of my grandmother’s baking talent, though I can make a good pie with a decent crust from scratch.  And it is something I love to do, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  However, I want to eat pie far more often than I have the time to make one. Can I dedicate the time and attention to make a good pie crust on a weekday afternoon with both kids in the house and Big Man at work? Not so much. And an interruption in the crust-making process results in a Pie Crust Epic Fail (at least for me). The butter gets too warm or I handle the crust too much or I forget an ingredient entirely because I am trying to keep Little Man from pulling the cat’s tail or spreading the clean laundry over the whole house.

That’s why I love these Berry Pie Bars. All the taste of a berry pie, but make-on-a-weekday friendly. You can use all blackberries or raspberries or a mix of both. This recipe is originally from Joy the Baker, but I simplified it by leaving out the lemon sugar and halving the recipe so Big Man and I don’t have a whole 9×13 pan of yumminess sitting around causing temptation. I think the bars actually taste better on the second day after the flavors have melded together. The best part of this recipe? I has fruit and looks kinda like a coffee cake, so I can convince myself it is OK to eat for breakfast.  Of course, I have been known to eat real pie for breakfast. . .

Crust/Topping

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
dash salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

Filling

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
scant 1/2 cup flour
dash salt
1 16 oz. package frozen berries, thawed and drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9″ square pan. Combine crust/topping ingredients in bowl and mix until it looks crumbly (I use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment). Reserve 3/4-1 cup mixture for topping and press the rest into the prepared pan. Bake for about 15 minutes until it looks light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool while you mix the filling.

In a bowl, whisk eggs and then add the sugar, sour cream, flour, and salt, mixing until smooth. Gently fold in the berries and pour over the crust, making the sure the berries are evenly distributed. Sprinkle on the topping. Bake for 45-50 minutes until set. Cool completely before serving.

Hamburger Gravy

Yesterday was Monday. When I quit my old job to start homekeeping, I had this great hope that Mondays would no longer feel like Mondays since I wouldn’t have to leave the house to go to work. Maybe Mondays would be filled with happiness and anticipation of a great week. Mondays would be the new Thursdays – not quite the weekend, but close enough to encourage a good mood.  I have since discovered that my hope was utterly unfounded. Seriously. Mondays are still Mondays. Blah.

Part of “the Mondays” for me usually means laziness about cooking. I go back to being the only parent in the house after two days of having Big Man here to help. I have piles of laundry to do because I didn’t do the two loads on the weekend like I told myself I would. (I need to stop lying to myself. I will never do laundry on the weekend. It’s a lost cause). So by the time the afternoon rolls around and I need to start making dinner, I’m very tempted to order a pizza or eat cereal for dinner.

Enter Hamburger Gravy. It’s quick to make, inexpensive, requires few ingredients, and is totally delicious! And there are several different serving options. I have used mashed potatoes, egg noodles, biscuits, and grilled bread.  My favorite is the grilled bread, but really they are all delicious.  Add steam-in-the-microwave veggies and you have a complete meal in about 20 minutes. Win!

This is my version, adapted from Allrecipes.  Serves 2


1/2 pound ground beef
1/4 onion, diced (I prefer yellow or Vidalia onions)
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tsp beef bouillon granules
1 tbs butter
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbs flour
Salt and Pepper to Taste


Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Once beef is cooked, drain off any fat more than what is needed to coat the bottom of the skillet.  Add onion and cook until the onion begins to soften


Pour 1 cup of the milk in the skillet and stir, scraping up any brown bits. Add in the bouillon, butter, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.


Whisk the four into the remaining milk until mostly smooth and add into the skillet, stirring constantly. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.  Adjust with more flour or milk as needed to achieve desired consistency.


Serve over your starch of choice and enjoy a home-cooked meal, even on a Monday.