asparagus and gruyere cheese pizza

asparagus and gruyere cheese pizza

asparagus and gruyere cheese pizzaWe’re bringing back pizza Friday in the Grandy house, at least for the summer anyway. I just love pizza Fridays. We all hang in the kitchen, I make a big salad while the kid’s roll out the dough and assemble their pizza while talking about their week. I unwind with a glass of wine and watch them (just kidding, I do help). The kids usually create their own pizza, usually just a jar of Trader Joe’s red sauce, some pepperoni and some mozzarella cheese, easy peasy and kid friendly. John and I like a more adult pizza so I like to experiment with different combinations. I created this one night as I had tons of asparagus in the house and thought to myself, why not throw this on a pizza. I added a bit of garlic to some olive oil, threw in some gruyere cheese along with the mozzarella, just to jazz things up, and voila, a delicious pizza was created. I love when that happens. Pizza is pizza, and I love that you can just throw anything on it and have it turn out great, (well, most of the time). My next pizza idea involves some heirloom tomatoes, that is when their prices comes down of course.

This is the perfect spring-time meatless pizza. I love a good white pizza and top it off with some asparagus and gruyere cheese, well HELLO!  I’m a total cheese and carb fan, so pizza works for me. Everyone in the house, except for Eli, loved the pizza. Eli liked it, but he took off the asparagus spears on his slice. Eli just wants you to all know that he is OVER asparagus. He keeps asking me everyday when asparagus season is going to be over. He even marked his calendar. He’s so good though because he eats it without complaint every time it’s served up to him, even though he’s not a happy camper. I will say that this pizza has some pretty strong flavors with the asparagus and the gruyere cheese, it’s not your typical all american pizza, it’s more of a gourmet white pizza, but if  you like asparagus and gruyere cheese, then give this a try.

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deep-dish pepperoni pizza

deep-dish pepperoni pizza
deep-dish pepperoni pizza

Have you purchased a cast iron pan yet?  Yvonne, I’m speaking directly to you!  My friend Yvonne said she would get a cast iron pan once I did a post on how to maintain one.  I still haven’t put a post together hoping that she will just go with it and let me explain it to her over the phone. Is anyone else interested in a post on how to maintain a cast-iron pan?  If so, I will write one. It won’t be the most exciting post, but if you’re all wanting it, I will do it, so let me know. See, I’m nice that way. If you don’t have a cast iron, you have to get one. They are really inexpensive, ($22 for a 10-inch and $28 for a 12-inch) and you can use them for just about anything. I even made a chocolate chip cookie in mine.

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kale, pluot and ricotta pizza

kaleplout
ISO: 400  A: f/1.4   S: 1/160

We’re getting creative with food lately in the Grandy household, as I don’t want to be dragging the kids to the grocery store every day (I mean it is summer, come on).  So, I find myself scrounging the pantry and fridge for some new and tasty lunch and dinner ideas.  Zoe has been super helpful at creating some fun pantry lunches. She made a cheese quesadilla with salami in it last week, and she’s been awesome at packing leftovers for lunch to take to her intense dance camp. Eli just happily eats whatever combination Zoe and I throw at him. He’s not a picky eater at all.

I took a look in my fridge, and I of course had some kale, (remember, I am kale obsessed) and some leftover ricotta from this amazing grilled kale and ricotta salad I made last week (recipe later).  I had a big bowl filled with nectarines, pluots, (a plum-apricot hybrid) and plums.  I always keep some whole-wheat naan bread on hand to make mini pizzas with or to serve alongside a kale salad for dinner. I thought to myself, why not create a mini lunchtime pizza with the above ingredients.  
Don’t you love it when you get creative, and end up coming up with something so delicious? Sometimes those are the recipes that turn out the best because there is a sense of pride in the effortless creation. 
This is an aesthetically beautiful pizza.  The crispy green kale contrasts so beautifully with the pinkish red pluots.  The heat slightly wilts and chars the kale and really brings out the green color.  I think this pizza would be a beautiful appetizer as well.  
ISO: 400  A: f/2.2  S: 1/100

 

kale, pluot and ricotta pizza:

  • 1 slice whole wheat nann bread 
  • ricotta cheese – approximately 2 tablespoons, it’s really based on taste and personal preference
  • 1 dinosaur or lacinato kale leaf – de-stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 pluot or plum, sliced thin - I used a red pluot
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Spread a layer of ricotta onto the nann bread.  
 
In a small bowl, toss the sliced kale and pluots with the teaspoon of olive oil. 
Top the pizza with the marinated kale and pluots.
Bake at 425 for about 7-10 minutes, or until the crust is browned.
 
Slice up and enjoy.  I paired this pizza with my lacinato kale salad, and it was the perfect healthy lunch.
ISO: 400  A: f/2.2  S: 1/80
You could also throw this combination on top of a regular pizza crust to make a larger dinner sized portion, just make sure to increase the quantities of the other ingredients.  
If you don’t have ricotta on hand, you can try another soft cheese such as goat cheese. 
I think I am going to pick up some pizza crust, and make this for dinner next week for John and I.  Come to think of it, my kids might even like the sweet combination of the pluot and the tartness of the kale.  I will give it a shot and let you know their opinion!
 
So, this was my first attempt at taking photos at home with the Aperture setting. I had a lot of photos that I discarded and though I didn’t necessarily get the perfect photo (one without any blurring, the crust is blurred in some spots), I feel proud that I keep the camera in manual mode and didn’t give up and go to an automatic setting.  My next step is to figure out how not to get a blur in my photo.  Maybe I need to work on the focus, or turn up the ISO or drag my tripod out of the garage and start using it.

Here is my how I set up the pizza to be photographed.  As you can see, I have tons of natural light with the french doors, (almost to much, I think).  I used a black foam board for the background as well as on the right side (opposite side of where the light was coming in from).  The black helped to create a mood, and to showcase the colors on the pizza.
I will explain more about boards and such in part 2 of my food photography workshop.


Cheers folks!

fig and arugula pizza on naan bread

fig and arugula pizza

fig and arugula pizzaWhat we have learned from my what I ate last week posts is that I love using whole-wheat naan bread as a base for mini lunchtime pizzas, and that I love my fig jam. Fig jam is incredibly thick, rich, and sweet, and pairs really well with nuts, cheese, crackers, and fruit. I love pairing it with almond or walnut butter for a scrumptious PB&J.  Below is a picture of the fig jam I love so much. 

DSC_0003-2Naan bread is awesome because you can do so much with it.  You can heat it up with just a splash of olive oil and pair it with your favorite salad, or use it as a base for a mini pizza like I did above. 

I love to play around, and throw different toppings on the naan bread to see what I can create. It’s a bit like painting and very therapeutic.  I threw this one together on a whim one day as I was craving some fig jam, and noticed that I didn’t have any bread in the house (which was very odd).  I thought, “Why not throw it on the naan bread and heat it up?” Needless to say, I loved the end result of this creation, and if you like fig jam, you will as well.

fig and arugula pizza on naan bread:

  • 1 slice of whole-wheat naan bread
  • fig jam
  • mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced or shredded
  • arugula
  • extra-virgin olive oil
 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put a slice of naan bread on a rimmed baking sheet.  Brush the bread with a bit of olive oil, and then spread some fig jam on top. 
Next, add some thinly sliced mozzarella cheese. Fig jam and mozzarella go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Pop it in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is crispy and brown.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss together a handful of arugula with a splash of olive oil.
When the pizza is out of the oven, throw the arugula on top.
Slice the pizza into 2 to 3 pieces and enjoy.
fig and arugula pizzaThis is a super easy pizza to throw together for lunch or light dinner. Come to think of it, I could even see this being a great appetizer.  All you need to do is cut the naan bread into smaller pieces.  
See, there is so much you can do with a little fig jam and some naan bread.
Did I mention that figs are good for you?

roasted red pepper and arugula whole-wheat pizza

roasted red pepper pizza
roasted red pepper pizza

So remember on Friday when I mentioned that because I can be a perfectionist with this blog that I sometimes make a recipe 2 to 3 times before I post it?  Well, this recipe was one of those recipes.  I actually only made this 2 times, but still, it was 2 times within the course of a week.  I figured it was OK since it’s a pretty healthy meal and my kids always are happy to eat pizza, even if it’s on a whole-wheat crust.

This pizza is super easy to make, even easier than my sausage skillet pizza.  I know a lot of you wanted to try that pizza but either did not have a skillet or were a bit intimated by the thought of cooking a pizza in a skillet.  So, here is a pizza that everyone can make.It’s your basic run of the mill cheese pizza except that you are replacing the tomato sauce with a roasted red pepper puree and topping it all on a thin and crispy whole-wheat pizza crust.  Isn’t that genius?  Red peppers are so good for you and this is an easy and delicious way to get them into your diet.  I even think that if you had picky kids they would love this pizza (maybe just add a bit more cheese to disguise the red pepper sauce a bit more).

My kids loved this pizza, seriously, I’m not lying.  They thought the red pepper sauce tasted as good as any tomato sauce and they didn’t complain about it being on a whole-wheat crust.  I honestly don’t think they even noticed that it was on a whole-wheat crust till I mentioned it.  They even liked the arugula on top!  My kids are becoming way more experimental with food since I started this blog.  They will try and eat just about anything I make.  They are now even starting to like my “mommy” dishes.  Zoe has been begging me to make my chickpea burgers again, so I am whipping up a batch of those tomorrow.

roasted red pepper and arugula whole-wheat pizza:

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 4-6

Note:  The roasted red pepper sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated till needed. 

  • 3 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled – see my instructions below on how to roast a red pepper
  • 1 pound whole-wheat pizza dough – you can use regular pizza dough here as well if you don’t like whole-wheat crusts.  I used Trader Joe’s whole wheat crust.  
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced – you can also buy the shredded mozzarella and make it easy on yourself.
  •  extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • cornmeal for baking sheets
  • arugula to top the pizza

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Wash the red peppers and then cut them in half lengthwise.

red peppers cut in halfCut off the stem with a paring knife and scoop out all the seeds and membranes.  I used a melon baller to scoop out the seeds and membranes.

scooping out red pepper seedsPlace the peppers cut side down on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil.

roasting red peppersRoast the peppers in the pre-heated 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes; until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, rotating the sheet if necessary for them to cook evenly.  Below is what mine looked like after roasting for 25 minutes.

roasted red peppersLet the peppers cool for a minute or two, and then remove them from the baking sheet and place them in a bowl, cover the bowl with foil or a plate, and let cool for about 30 minutes.

roasted red peppers in bowlWhen the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and discard them, dropping the peppers back into the bowl.

roasted red peppers skinnedPut the peeled peppers into a blender.

 In a blender, puree peppers until smooth. Season to taste with a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the sauce into a bowl if you’re not using it right away, and refrigerate until needed.  If you’re using the puree right away, then just keep it in the blender for easy pouring.Now, lets move onto the pizza.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Slice up your cheese, toss some arugula with a splash of olive oil and set aside.On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a rectangle shape.  You can also roll the dough out into 2 circles, one large circle or 4 small circles.  It’s really up to you.

We chose to make one large rectangular pizza.
Easy peasy!Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with cornmeal and shape to fit the pizza dough onto the pan.The corn meal helps to keep the pizza dough from sticking to the pan and also helps to make the pizza crust a bit more crunchy and taste like its from an actual pizzeria.Brush the edges of the dough with some olive oil.  This helps to crisp up the crust.Top the dough with the red pepper puree (as you would a tomato sauce) making sure to leave a 1-inch border on the sides. Top the pizza with the mozzarella cheese and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Top the pizza with the arugula.  Slice it up and serve with your favorite salad or vegetable.  We paired the pizza with some roasted asparagus, but I also love to pair it up with my lacinato kale salad.Since we were eating so healthy, I treated us to this for dessert.Cacao nib and cocoa shortbread ice-cream sandwiches.

What are some of your favorite pizza recipes?

sausage & arugula skillet pizza

sausage and arugula skillet pizza

sausage and arugula skillet pizzaTGIF!  It’s almost Friday and that means pizza night around the Grandy house!  Get out your cast iron skillet and let’s cook us up some PIZZA!  Let’s just backtrack here, you’re asking me if I said cast iron skillet, right?  Why yes I did, you are going to cook this pizza in a cast iron skillet.

This is me telling you to go out and purchase yourself a cast iron skillet.  You don’t need to get a fancy name brand one like Le Creuset (those cost $150 and up).  Pick up a Lodge Logic.  The 12-inch skillet is only $29 and the 10-inch is only $20.  Here is a link to Sur La Table where you can check out the pricing and features.  Lodge Logic is the traditional cast iron pan that your grandmother had.  These pans rock and I am cooking everything in my cast iron skillet lately from breads & pizzas to meats.

Lets get back to this pizza.  This pizza is family and kid approved, I mean like totally!  The bottom of the pizza and the crust gets all brown and crispy from cooking in the cast iron pan, the sausage adds a bit of spiciness to the pizza and the homemade sauce is amazing and so fresh tasting.  I am actually going to use this pizza sauce recipe going forward because it’s so easy and so DELISH!  We honestly felt like we were eating at a fancy pizzeria.

The best part of baking the pizza in the cast iron skillet was that I did not have to roll out any dough!  I always hated that part.

sausage and arugula skillet pizza

sausage & arugula skillet pizza:

Makes one 12-inch pizza
There is a printer friendly recipe at the bottom of the post
  • 2 sweet Italian sausages or 6 ounces sweet Italian sausage - see photo below for what I used
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound store bought or homemade pizza dough – I used Trader Joe’s pizza dough  
  • 3 whole peeled canned tomatoes, crushed - I used San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • fresh mozzarella cheese – thinly sliced
  • arugula

Note:  Most store bought pizza dough’s are 1 pound.  You can use the whole pound of pizza dough; I did the first time I made this pizza.  It will be a thicker pizza in general, but it will still taste great.  I used 3/4 pound the next time I made the pizza and it was a bit thinner and less doughy in spots, which I preferred.
I used these classic Italian sausages.  You can honestly use any type of Italian sausages.  These were great as they are nitrate free, raised without antibiotics and with no added hormones.  They were also fully cooked so all I had to do was heat up the meat after I took the meat out of it’s casing.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.   
Remove sausages from their casings.  All you have to do to remove the sausage from it’s casing is to cut a slit down the length of the sausage and then peel it open and remove the sausage.  You are going to literally push and tear it out of it’s casing.  You might have some casing left on the sausage, but it doesn’t matter.
Sauté the sausage over high heat until just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes, breaking it up into bite-size pieces.
DSC_0052
Remove the cooked sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel lined plate to absorb the grease.
Slice up your mozzarella, mince up your garlic & toss up your arugula with a splash of olive oil and set aside.
Put the 3 peeled tomatoes into a small bowl.
 Crush the tomatoes with a fork and your fingers if needed.  Don’t be afraid to get your hands messy.
 Add the 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1-tablespoon olive oil, 1/4-teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the crushed tomatoes, mix them all together.
Brush a 12-inch cast iron skillet with 1-teaspoon olive oil.  Press dough flat in the skillet, spreading to the edge.
John thought it was cool to take an overhead shot of me pressing the dough.  He was aiming the camera in all sorts of directions.  I think this shot below came out sort of cool!
Spread the tomato mixture over the dough.
DSC_0056 DSC_0057
Cook over medium-high heat until the bottom of dough is golden brown.  The recipe called for 3-4 minutes but mine took more like 5 minutes.  We like ours a bit more browned.  To check the dough, just take a spatula and lift up the side of the dough to see the bottom.
Once the pizza crust is browned on the bottom, transfer the pizza to the preheated oven and bake for 3 minutes.
After 3 minutes, remove the pizza from the oven and scatter the mozzarella and sausage on top.  REMEMBER TO WEAR AN OVEN MITT WHEN TOUCHING THE CAST IRON PAN AS ITS HOT!  Pop the pizza back in the oven.
Cook the pizza for about 8-10 more minutes until the edge of the crust is golden brown.
Slide the pizza out of the cast iron skillet onto a cutting board.  Folks, I have had this cast iron pan for 2 months now and it’s virtually non-stick.  My pizza slid right out of the pan when I tipped it to the side, so don’t fret about your crust sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Garnish pizza with the fresh arugula.
Cut into individual slices and serve up with a fresh tossed salad or vegetable of your choice.
sausage and arugula skillet pizza
We liked this pizza so much that my kid’s requested I make it again the next day for lunch!
Needless to say, it was devoured!
If you like skillet pizzas then try my deep-dish pepperoni skillet pizza.
sausage & arugula skillet pizza

sausage & arugula skillet pizza

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet Italian sausages or 6 ounces sweet Italian sausage - see photo below for what I used
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound store bought or homemade pizza dough -I used Trader Joe's pizza dough
  • 3 whole peeled canned tomatoes, crushed - I used San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • fresh mozzarella cheese - thinly sliced
  • arugula

Instructions

Note: Most store bought pizza dough's are 1 pound. You can use the whole pound of pizza dough; I did the first time I made this pizza. It will be a thicker pizza in general, but it will still taste great. I used 3/4 pound the next time I made the pizza and it was a bit thinner and less doughy in spots, which I preferred.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Remove sausages from their casings. All you have to do to remove the sausage from it's casing is to cut a slit down the length of the sausage and then peel it open and remove the sausage. You are going to literally push and tear it out of it's casing. You might have some casing left on the sausage, but it doesn't matter.

Sauté the sausage over high heat until just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes, breaking it up into bite-size pieces.

Remove the cooked sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel lined plate to absorb the grease.

Slice up your mozzarella, mince up your garlic & toss up your arugula with a splash of olive oil and set aside.

Put the 3 peeled tomatoes into a small bowl.

Crush the tomatoes with a fork and your fingers if needed. Don't be afraid to get your hands messy.

Add the 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1-tablespoon olive oil, 1/4-teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the crushed tomatoes, mix them all together.

Brush a 12-inch cast iron skillet with 1-teaspoon olive oil. Press dough flat in the skillet, spreading to the edge.

Spread the tomato mixture over the dough.

Cook over medium-high heat until the bottom of dough is golden brown. The recipe called for 3-4 minutes but mine took more like 5 minutes. We like ours a bit more browned. To check the dough, just take a spatula and lift up the side of the dough to see the bottom.

Once the pizza crust is browned on the bottom, transfer the pizza to the preheated oven and bake for 3 minutes.

After 3 minutes, remove the pizza from the oven and scatter the mozzarella and sausage on top. REMEMBER TO WEAR AN OVEN MITT WHEN TOUCHING THE CAST IRON PAN AS ITS HOT! Pop the pizza back in the oven.

Cook the pizza for about 8-10 more minutes until the edge of the crust is golden brown.

Slide the pizza out of the cast iron skillet onto a cutting board. Folks, I have had this cast iron pan for 2 months now and it's virtually non-stick. My pizza slid right out of the pan when I tipped it to the side, so don't fret about your crust sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Garnish pizza with the fresh arugula.

Cut into individual slices and serve up with a fresh tossed salad or vegetable of your choice.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/03/sausage-arugula-skillet-pizza/