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Monday, October 31, 2011

Pizza on the Grill!


Last night I went over to my parent's house for pizza's on the grill. My mother, the mastermind behind the idea had never grilled dough before... so we had a few challenges but the pizza's were all fantastic! My mother bought pizza dough for Broder's Italian Deli on 50th and Penn for the crust and made up her own toppings. Pizza dough is quite easy to make, and if you're feeling ambitious, I have included a recipe below. My mother and I made three pizzas, one with a red sauce, salami, red pepper, mozzarella, grilled onion and mushroom, the other with a pepper-jack cheese sauce, onion, prosciutto and parmesan and lastly, a veggie pizza with feta, artichokes, basil, onion, mushrooms and eggplant! We used corn meal under the pizza dough to prevent sticking to the pan or the grill, but clearly we didn't add enough, because the pizza's would not pry off the sheet pan and transfer onto the grill. We ended up with a few holes in the pizza, which were immediately consumed by the wrath of the inner grill. Despite miner mistakes, the pizza's were all gobbled up by our guests and leftovers were accepted, which is always a good sign ;)

Pizza Dough Recipe (*taken from allrecipe.com)
 (yield: 1 large crust)


  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups bread flour, olive oil, salt, white sugar and the yeast mixture; stir well to combine. Beat well until a stiff dough has formed. Cover and rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface. Form dough into a round and roll out into a pizza crust shape. Cover with your favorite sauce and toppings and bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes.



Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dinner Tonight: Coconut Curry Soup with Grilled Chicken & Spinach

Dinner tonight was inspired by a recipe I made a few years ago, taken from Cooking Light magazine. For me, every time I make recipe I change a thing or two so that the dish is always a bit different. This time around I grilled my own chicken thighs, after placing the chicken in a Thai-influenced marinade including fish sauce, soy, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger and curry. I decided to use chicken thighs because 1. they are often cheaper and 2. they contain more fat which equates TASTE ;). The grilled chicken was then shredded and dropped into the soup at the last minute. This soup is hearty enough for a main course and tasty enough to satisfy guests at a dinner party. I have attached a link for the recipe below. Please try this one at home kids, and be sure to comment on your results!


Click here for the recipe!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Grilled Salmon with a Cilantro and Pepitas Pesto

Last night I made a delicious pesto to pair with the salmon I had waiting to be used. It's been a while since my last posting due to the fact that I have been playing shows with my new band, MPLS South. I am a singer for those of you who may not know me. This past weekend was spent driving to and from Chicago for a show on Saturday. I would have liked to blog about some of the tasty numbers I had on the road but unfortunately I was not too productive before wolfing down the food. I did have however for the first time, stuffed Chicago style pizza which to me tasted more like a lasagna baked inside a pizza crust. Very delicious but as our server forewarned, most adult men can't make it past one slice. To make a long story short, for dinner I wanted to have something healthy and home cooked. I used cilantro and pepitas ( the inner fragment of a pumpkin seed) to give my pesto a nice nutty flavor to mellow out the harshness of the cilantro. I threw some green beans in a frying pan with sesame seeds and garlic as a side dish. I have written out the recipe for the pesto below for your reference. I recommend this condiment on just about anything from sandwiches to vegetables! 


Cilantro & Pepitas Pesto 
(makes about 1 cup)
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
1/2 cup pepitas, roasted and salted
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8-1/4 cup pineapple juice
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp lime juice
Salt, pepper


Pulse al ingredients together in a food processor until well mixed. Chill in refrigerator and serve!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sweet Tomato and Vegetable Soup

(serves 5-6)
Half of a butternut squash, chopped into bite sized pieces and roast with olive oil for 20 minutes at 350 degrees
2 tbsp olive oil 
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced shallot
1 bay leaf
1 red onion, diced
1 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cans low sodium chicken broth 
3/4 cup water
1 large can cannelloni beans
1 can diced tomatoes with oregano, garlic and basil
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika 
Sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese


Heat dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat with olive oil, garlic, bay leaf, shallot and red onion. Saute 5 minutes until tender, add carrot and saute 2 more minutes. Add white wine to deglaze pan. Add chicken broth and water, and bring to a boil. After soup boils simmer on low and add cannelloni beans, tomatoes, squash and spices. Simmer 10 minutes on low. Top with sour cream and cheese. Enjoy!



Pizza Party!


Last week, I made a fresh pizza with ingredients I had at home. I started out with the classic ready-made Boboli crust. I love the idea of combining atypical toppings for a truly unique pizza, good thing is as long as you have cheese and crust you're about 90% sure to have a tasty pie. Follow my recipe below or make up your own!


Creamed Spinach Pizza with Shrimp and Toasted Pepitas
1 classic Boboli pizza crust 
1 tbsp butter
1 large bunch spinach 
2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
Pinch salt, pepper 
1/4 cup heavy cream 
6-8 raw shrimp
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 cup, steamed broccoli
1/4 cup roasted, salted pepitas 
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat saute pan with 1 tbsp butter, add spinach and saute 1 minute with salt, garlic and pepper. Whisk in cream and heat until bubbles and thickens. Add to pizza just like you would a pizza sauce. In another saute pan, heat with a tiny dab of butter. Rub shrimp and paprika and saute until pink. Cool shrimp and chop into bite sized pieces. Add shrimp and broccoli to pizza and top with cheese and pepitas. Cook in oven at 450 for 8-10 minutes. 










Very Veggie Stir-fry


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cheesy Potato Croquettes

Last night I made a lovely croquette out of a batch of cheesy mashed potatoes I had made the night before. I wanted to create something a little bit more interesting with mashed potatoes so I thought to make a croquette, a fried potato ball or cake, often combined with various other fillings. I am a huge fan of potato pancakes, made with shredded potatoes and fried, so I decided to try my own spin on the beloved pancake. The resulting croquettes were amazing, everything you'd expect from blending potato, cheese and fried goodness. I made a batch of caramelized onions to top off the croquette, which unfortunately are not pictured in the photograph. I highly recommend adding the caramelized onion to the dish, adding just the right amount of sweet! Follow my simply recipe below:


Rachael's Cheesy Croquettes
(makes approx. 9-10 2-3inch croquettes)


1 dozen baby red potatoes
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sour cream
3/4-1 cup milk
2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh basil 
Pinch salt, pepper, onion powder and sweet paprika
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Pinch sweet paprika, salt and pepper
2 eggs, mixed well 
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup ketchup


Caramelized Onions
3 onions, chopped into thin rounds
1/4 cup olive oil


For the potatoes, quarter and place into a pot of boiling salted water until tender, strain and return to pot over low heat. Add butter and mash, then add sour cream and milk until creamy. Add cheese, garlic and spices until mixture is thick and creamy (potatoes must be a bit thick to form into round cakes for frying). Next, allow to cool thoroughly in refrigerator. While potatoes cool, start your caramelized onions by heating a pan over low heat with the olive oil, add onions and simmer on low for nearly 30 minutes, until onions have reduced and appear brown in color. Prep your sauce for the cakes by mixing the sour cream with ketchup and set aside. When mashed potatoes have cooled, form into 2-3 inch round disks and set onto a plate. Once cakes are made, mix the bread crumbs (panko and reg.) with spices in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, add egg mixture. Dip potato cakes into egg wash and then into breading until coated. Heat a frying pan over high heat and add a good amount of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil is screaming hot, add cakes and fry on both sides until browned. When your ready to plate, add three cakes to each plate, top with the sour cream and ketchup sauce, a dollop of caramelized onion and a fresh green herb for color!



















Thursday, October 6, 2011

112 Eatery

Cold cuts with pickles 

Sauteed sweetbreads in porcini & clam sauce


French fries with tarragon aioli 

Pan-fried gnocchi with parmesan 

Lamb scottadito with goats milk yogurt 

Country style pork rib with salsa picante 

"Christmas" spiced popcorn and almonds
Last Sunday night I joined a few friends of mine at the 112 Eatery on North 3rd Street in Downtown Minneapolis. I have been to the 112 several times before and always leave satisfied. There are a few reasons why I love the 112, one being the intimacy of the restaurant. The storefront is small and inconspicuous, upon walking in the front door you notice the lights are dim and sultry with dark wood topping the bar and tabletops. On the main floor the floor-plan is quite narrow with booths lining the perimeter which takes you into a galley-style open kitchen. The ceiling features pressed tin leaving the diner with a feeling of timelessness and quality. Secondly, the menu. The menu is small and features many small plates, sides and appetizers. Diners have the option to choose a large main course, but I always prefer a smorgasbord. The menu is considered "New" American with offerings from sweetbreads, to soba noodles. The 112 has received some outstanding reviews locally and internationally. Just recently chef and co/owner Isaac Becker won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Midwest for 2011. Now I'd like to walk you through our smorgasbord as shown in the photographs above. The first photo shows the cold cuts plate, also called charcuterie, the art of preserving meats. We samples several delicious meat combinations as well as a side of hard-boiled eggs with a fresh garnish of herbs, garlic and mustard, a great starter. Next we sampled sweetbreads with porcini and clam sauce. Sweetbreads are the thymus or pancreas gland typically of a calf. We joked at the table that this dish is not for the amateur eater. I recommend not telling your friends what they're eating and they might think differently about it. Sweetbreads are extremely soft, almost like a custard inside and normally panfried with a crispy edge. Next, we sampled their delicious crispy french fries and their traditional parmesan gnocchi. The gnocchi was good, but not too exciting, I would have preferred a more complex sauce. The Lamb Scottadito was wonderful. Scottadito in Italian means "burned fingers" meaning the lamb is so good you're willing to burn your fingers- which is exactly what I did! The sauce underneath the lamb was a yogurt base, similar to an Indian raita with herbs and garlic. Next we tried my favorite, country pork ribs with a salsa picante. The ribs have been brined in a deep aroma of smoke and spice. The best way to eat this rib is to get your fingers dirty and gnaw right on the bone. The salsa is made with a rich red pepper sauce, not for the faint of heart :) When the bill arrives, sweet popcorn always arrives at the table, I suppose to sweeten the deal! The popcorn is very strong, my friend commented, "it's like Christmas in your mouth." I loved sampling the menu and would be happy to return as soon as possible. 

Check out the 112 by clicking HERE

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dinner Tonight: White Wine Cream Linguini with Sweet Sausage

Dinner tonight was simple and delicious. I will briefly illustrate how to prepare this meal below. If you have further questions please post me a comment!


Boil water for pasta and cook to box instructions. In large saucepan heat a drizzle of olive oil with 1 diced onion, saute 2 minutes and add 2 tbsp minced garlic and saute 2 more minutes. Add crumbled sweet Italian sausage until browned. Add 2tbsp flour and whisk until a paste forms. Add milk, whisking constantly until sauce thickens. Add 1/2 cup cream cheese, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and spices such as basil, garlic, salt, pepper and onion. Add more milk if sauce is too thick. Combine linguini with 1/4 cup pasta water and toss well. Plate with a sprinkle of parmesan!