Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's for Dinner? PIZZA!

Seems like my allergy mom friends are unhappy about pizza lately, while I am loving it over here. When my non-allergy peeps ask me, 'How do you make pizza without cheese?' My flip answer is, 'You just leave off the cheese.' Well, it sounds flip, but it's really kind of true. You just need to pay a bit closer attention to the other ingredients & you're set.

Here's the crust I usually use. I'm not going to say it's the best pizza crust ever (though I'm loving it more each time I have it), but if I spread the batter out really thin, I get 3 pizzas out of the recipe and they're thin enough that the texture is quite good. (The cooking temp was left off the PDF I linked to up there... it's 350F.) Eventually, I'll get around to trying a yeast-based recipe or two but for now this works for us. (And yes, I sub flours all the time...and it always seems to work okay.)

First off, I make sure I use a good sauce. I am not a huge fan of tomato sauce in general but I like (Surprise! What can I say? There's a reason I rep their food, people!) the Wildtree one (Hearty Spaghetti Sauce Blend, but I'm going to try the Scampi blend sometime soon, too, for a tomato-free version)...partly because you can easily customize it to your own tastes. If you get that one, ignore the cooking instructions on the package. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Then you can cook it as short or long as you want (I usually do at least an additional 10 minutes). The boil/simmer helps the tomatoes to carmelize, which gives the sauce a MUCH better depth of flavor. You'll just need to watch the moisture level, as the simmering can thicken it up pretty quickly. Oh, and I usually use canned tomato sauce rather than stewed tomatoes because I like the texture better. Use whatever works for you.

Now, what about toppings? I'm sure you have some favorites & those will probably be fine here as well, unless you're a one-topping type and then I'm thinking you might want to branch out a bit. ;)

A few of my favorite combos:
-- ground beef, spinach, tomato, garlic (or leave off the beef and add basil for a fabulous veggie version)
-- turkey sausage, ham, sauteed spinach & onion, pineapple, olives or olive tapenade
-- turkey sausage, sun-dried tomato, olives, spinach

Since there's no cheese, I usually drizzle on some grapeseed oil (flavored oils work great for this) or extra virgin olive oil--after baking, so it doesn't all soak in--both for flavor and mouth feel. You could also add a bit of balsamic vinegar on top, if that strikes your fancy. I also once used Karina's Best Cheesy Uncheese Sauce and, while it didn't fool me into thinking there was cheese on my pizza, it wasn't bad. (My subs to the Uncheese Sauce: other wheat-free flour, oat milk. I added the mustard but then decided I'll leave it out next time...flavor was too overpowering. And we are seed-free, so no tahini. And it was still pretty good.)

My kids LOVE pizza. Even the cheese eaters in the household like these versions a lot and my picky eater has even started requesting his pizza without cheese. Now that's an endorsement. :)

**I've recently discovered that Daiya fake cheese is safe for my little guy so we have added that to our pizzas now. I do like it better than w/o any cheese at all but pizza seriously was a fave even before that. (We've only had it once so far with the Daiya, if that means anything to you.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Microwave Potato Chips? Really?

I loooove sweet potato chips. I'd eat them all the time except they're kind of a pain to make. Or so I thought. And those fancy veggie chips are so spendy, plus there's the whole issue about unsafe ingredients. But that doesn't bother me anymore, 'cause I just learned that I can make delicious veggie chips in my microwave! :)

I feel silly even posting a recipe because this is so incredibly easy. (I feel even more silly that I didn't know about this before!)

Microwave Veggie Chips
vegetable of choice
1-2 tsp oil of choice (I've tried grapeseed* & olive, both worked great)
salt or other seasoning, to taste

Slice veggie into thin slices. (In my experience, disc-shaped veggies cook the most evenly. However, carrots are so tiny in discs that I'm going to try them sliced lengthwise.) You can use a mandolin slicer or slice them by hand. Leave skin on or peel it off... your choice. (I'd definitely peel non-organic root vegetables.)

Put veg slices into bowl and toss with oil. (*Garlic & jalapeno grapeseed oils were very yummy. I use the Wildtree oils, so I'll definitely be trying all of those--plus spice blends since I have a cabinet full of them--favorites so far are Scampi and Cajun.)

Add salt or other spices, as desired.

Arrange veggies in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined microwave-safe dish or an oiled dish. Cook on high until veggies start to brown, turning them over around halfway through cooking time; time will depend on thickness of slices. Allow to cool/crisp. Serve. (Not sure how they'd store, as I've not made enough at once that storing was an issue. In other words, I eat them pretty much as fast as I can cook them; they go even faster if I share.)

I made super-thin slices using just a potato peeler...those took about 5 minutes to cook. When I did hand-cut slices that were about as thin as I could make them that way (I'm no chef) it took about 11 minutes, and they were just a tad overcooked. My mandolin slicer cuts them a tad thicker than that. You'll need to play with the timing. Once they start to brown they seem to brown pretty quickly so you'll want to watch closely.

My preschooler flat-out refused to try these for a while (his pickiness is becoming the stuff of legend around our house) but as soon as I bribed convinced him to try them, he was asking for more. :)

Okay, now go get your chip on!