Mini Polenta Pizzas

This is slightly more of a suggestion than an exact recipe, it’s an easy way to make some cute, tasty little pizzas without having to mess with kneading dough or rising times. The polenta also happens to be gluten-free, without requiring you to buy any (other) gluten-free specialty ingredients.

IMG_3511You can top however you like, though I’ll be describing the spinach pizzas I made.

Ingredients:

  • 1 18 ounce tube polenta
  • tomato sauce
  • shredded cheese (I used parmesan and cheddar)
  • 1 bag baby spinach (or other toppings)
  • olive oil

Cook the spinach with a drizzle of olive oil, covered, over medium low heat until wilted. The volume of spinach will decrease significantly.

That was a whole bag of spinach.

That was a whole bag of spinach.

Drizzle some olive oil in a cast iron pan and heat over medium high heat. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a large baking sheet with greased foil.

Remove the polenta from the packaging, draining off any liquid, and slice into 1/4″ slices. Cook the polenta on both sides until lightly browned.

They turn a more bold yellow, like those two at the bottom right, before starting to brown. (I flipped those back to cook further.)

They turn a more bold yellow, like those two at the bottom right, before starting to brown. (I flipped those back to cook further.)

IMG_3505Remove each cooked slice of polenta to the prepared baking sheet as they finish browning.

IMG_3506Spoon tomato sauce onto each slice of polenta.

IMG_3507Cover with cheese, then spinach (or other toppings as desired).

IMG_3508Bake for 15 minutes.

IMG_3509IMG_3510Serve using a spatula. You can eat these by hand, but it’s a bit easier/less messy to use a fork.

This was a good number for 3 people, and pretty quick to throw together. This was not actually the first time I’ve made these mini pizzas, and I don’t expect it will be the last!

Mini Polenta Pizzas

  • 1 18 ounce tube polenta
  • tomato sauce
  • shredded cheese
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • olive oil

Cook the spinach with a drizzle of olive oil, covered, over medium low heat until wilted. The volume of spinach will decrease significantly.

Drizzle some olive oil in a cast iron pan and heat over medium high heat. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a large baking sheet with greased foil.

Remove the polenta from the packaging, draining off any liquid, and slice into 1/4″ slices. Cook the polenta on both sides until lightly browned. Remove cooked polenta to the prepared baking sheet.

Spoon tomato sauce onto each slice of polenta, then cover with cheese and toppings. Bake for 15 minutes, and serve using a spatula.

Posted in Dinner | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Bacon Brown Sugar Green Beans

My mom gets pretty into farmers’ market food in the summer, and somehow this resulted in her buying green beans the other day. She asked me to do something with them, and I was able to turn up a recipe everyone liked!

IMG_3550Ingredients:

  • 50-60 fresh green beans
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Put a medium pot of water on the stove to boil over high heat. While it reaches a boil, rinse and de-string the green beans. Boil the beans for 5 minutes, then drain the boiling water and place the beans in a bowl of ice water and set aside.

IMG_3542Cut the slices of bacon in half, lay them on a paper towel-lined plate, and microwave for 90 seconds, rotating twice if your microwave doesn’t spin.

combineGrease a 9X13″ pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Taking the green beans in bunches of five, wrap a slice of the partially cooked bacon around each bundle and place, seam-side down, in the greased pan. Repeat until the beans are all used up.

IMG_3544Stir together the butter and brown sugar and drizzle over the bean bundles.

IMG_3545Sprinkle with salt and minced garlic.

IMG_3548Wrap with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Take the foil off, turn the oven to the broiler setting, and cook a further five minutes to crisp up the bacon, then serve.

IMG_3549It’s hard to go wrong with brown sugar and butter, and adding bacon never hurts, so this recipe was always going to be a winner. The beans and the bacon both come out the right amount of cooked and with a nice brown sugar flavor, and you’ve got a leftover half a pack of bacon to eat for breakfast the next day!

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Bacon Brown Sugar Green Beans

Adapted from AllRecipes.

  • 50-60 fresh green beans
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Put a medium pot of water on the stove to boil over high heat. While it reaches a boil, rinse and de-string the green beans. Boil the beans for 5 minutes, then drain the boiling water and place the beans in a bowl of ice water and set aside.

Cut the slices of bacon in half, lay them on a paper towel-lined plate, and microwave for 90 seconds.

Grease a 9X13″ pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Taking the green beans in bunches of five, wrap a slice of the partially cooked bacon around each bundle and place, seam-side down, in the greased pan. Repeat until the beans are all used up.

Stir together the butter and brown sugar and drizzle over the bean bundles. Sprinkle with salt and minced garlic. Wrap with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Take the foil off, turn the oven to the broiler setting, and cook a further five minutes to crisp up the bacon, then serve.

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Nut Pie Cookies

Last week my friend Danielle and I made some cookies for our mutual friend Jen’s wedding. The wedding had pies, not cake, so we made some cookies to match. This is a recipe Danielle and her mother make every year at Christmas, and apparently tastes just like mini pecan pies, despite using walnuts. I didn’t taste them (as I haven’t started liking nuts since last week) but apparently they’re a hit every Christmas, and all Danielle’s family’s other Christmas cookies that I’ve tried have been great, so I’m willing to trust them!

IMG_3538Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon melted vanilla
  • 1 egg

Stir together the crust ingredients by hand until mixed, kneading a bit if necessary. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

IMG_3531 IMG_3532Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Separate the dough into 24 equal portions, roll each into a ball, and place into the wells of a mini cupcake pan.

IMG_3534Press the dough into the pan until it evenly covers each cup, coming up to the top of each.

IMG_3535Stir together the filling ingredients with a fork, then spoon 1 teaspoon of the mixture into each of the dough-lined cups, sharing any extra filling mixture evenly between them all.

IMG_3536Bake 20 minutes, until browned and risen. Let cool in the pan.

IMG_3537These came out cute, and apparently are like a delicious bite sized pecan pie! Just the start of a sweet married life for my friend! (Ew, that was maybe the worst thing I’ve ever typed!) Congrats, Jen!

IMG_3539

Nut Pie Cookies

From my friend Danielle’s kitchen.

Crust:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon melted vanilla
  • 1 egg

Stir together the crust ingredients by hand until mixed, kneading a bit if necessary. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Separate the dough into 24 equal portions, roll each into a ball, and place into the wells of a mini cupcake pan. Press the dough into the pan until it evenly covers each cup, coming up to the top of each.

Stir together the filling ingredients with a fork, then spoon 1 teaspoon of the mixture into each of the dough-lined cups, spreading any extra filling mixture evenly. Bake 20 minutes, until browned and risen. Let cool in the pan.

Posted in Dessert | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Sticky Bun Dip

Another recipe from last weekend’s brunch, this one’s super easy and quick to throw together. It’s from Karo, and in my experience recipes directly from food companies are usually pretty foolproof, because they want you to have a good experience with their product. I’ve got a whole book of recipes from the back of packages, that a friend gave me years ago, that I should really dig out one of these days, but for now this one’s from Karo’s website.

IMG_3526Ingredients:

  • 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Karo® Dark Corn Syrup OR Karo® Light Corn Syrup (I used mostly light, as the bottle of dark was about empty)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (I left these out. I will always leave nuts out.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla until smooth and creamy. Spread in an 8X8″ baking dish and set aside.

IMG_3521Combine the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil.

IMG_3522Boil for 1 minute, the remove from the heat and stir in the pecans. (Or don’t.) Pour the brown sugar mixture over the cream cheese mixture.

IMG_3523Bake for 20 minutes, until bubbly, then remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes.

IMG_3524Serve with cookies, graham crackers, and/or apple or pear slices for dipping.

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Not the most appealing colors, admittedly, but it tastes good!

It is, as you might expect, sweet, and pretty delicious!

Sticky Bun Dip

From Karo Syrup.

  • 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Karo® Dark Corn Syrup OR Karo® Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla until smooth and creamy. Spread in an 8X8″ baking dish and set aside.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, the remove from the heat and stir in the pecans. Pour the brown sugar mixture over the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 20 minutes, until bubbly, then remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes.

Serve with cookies, graham crackers, and/or apple or pear slices for dipping.

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Chickpea Chicken Soup

I had a few friends over yesterday for brunch, and everything turned out really quite delicious. This soup, for instance, has a great flavor from the bacon, but also some sweetness, I think probably from the onions. It’s also, not surprisingly, much more filling than a thinner soup, with all the vegetables and chickpeas in there, although you don’t even really notice the chickpeas that much, especially not flavor-wise. It’s really a fantastic soup!

IMG_3518Ingredients:

  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups raw spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 15.5 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 32 ounces low-sodium chicken stock
  • parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired

By the time we get to adding the chicken to the recipe, we’ll want it to be cooked and chopped. You can cook it on the stove or bake it while the other ingredients cook in the first few steps, or use leftover shredded chicken from an earlier meal, it doesn’t really matter as long as it is no longer raw by the time we get to it.

Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium heat. Once brown and crispy, remove the bacon, leaving the grease behind.

IMG_3513Still over medium heat, cook the onions, mushrooms, and peppers in the bacon grease.

Steaming up the camera lens!

Steaming up the camera lens!

Cook until soft, 5-8 minutes, then add the garlic, spinach, paprika, and cumin, and stir together for 1 minute.

Getting nicely colorful.

Getting nicely colorful.

Reduce the heat to low and add the chickpeas, celery, carrots, chicken, and seasoned salt. Pour in the chicken stock, stir together, and simmer 30 minutes.

IMG_3519Add the bacon back right before serving, then garnish each bowl with parmesan cheese, if desired.

IMG_3527I made mine Saturday, stored the soup and bacon separately, then reheated and served it Sunday, and it was excellent. Much as I am lazy about chopping vegetables, I will definitely be making this again in the future!

IMG_3520

Chickpea Chicken Soup

Slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is.

  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups raw spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced or shredded
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 25-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 32 ounces low-sodium chicken stock
  • parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired

Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium heat. Once brown and crispy, remove the bacon, leaving the grease behind.

Still over medium heat, cook the onions, mushrooms, and peppers in the bacon grease. Cook until soft, 5-8 minutes, then add the garlic, spinach, paprika, and cumin, and stir together for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and add the chickpeas, celery, carrots, chicken, and seasoned salt. Pour in the chicken stock, stir together, and simmer 30 minutes.

Add the bacon back right before serving, then garnish each bowl with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Posted in Brunch, Dinner | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Stuffed Zucchini

Hello lovely blog readers! I am back in the US! I’ve actually been back about 3 weeks, but hadn’t done a lot of cooking new things until now. It’s pretty delightful having a kitchen that has all the right bits and pieces, but you won’t need anything too special for this recipe.

It can be a bit of a struggle for me to make vegetable-heavy meals that I’ll actually like, but adding cheese and sausage does a pretty good job of overcoming that. This is real tasty, and at least healthier than layering the cheese and sausage in a heap of pasta.

 

Vegetables!

The internet tells me these are called Eight Ball Zucchini, which I’ll go along with.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eight ball zucchini
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used gluten-free ones, because that’s what we have)
  • 1 pinch thyme
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

Start by cutting the stems off of the zucchini, then cutting the zucchini in half, top to bottom.

IMG_3480Scoop out the inside of the zucchini, using a melon baller, ice cream scoop, or grapefruit spoon. Leave about a 1/4″ “shell” intact. Chop up the insides that you’ve scooped out, then set aside in a large bowl. Microwave the outsides for 3 minutes, and set those aside as well.

IMG_3481Preheat oven to 375.

Over medium heat, cook the onion and celery with a glug of olive oil until softened.

IMG_3482Pour the onion and celery off into the same bowl as the chopped zucchini. Cook the sausage in the now-empty pan until lightly browned, then add that to the bowl.

Briefly beat the egg, then add to the bowl. Add the bread crumbs, thyme, and cheese and stir everything together.

IMG_3483Lightly grease a baking dish just large enough to hold all the zucchini shells open-side up, such as an 8X8″ pan. Fill the shells with a heaping amount of the sausage mixture. Place any remaining mixture in a small greased pan, like a bread pan.

IMG_3484Sprinkle additional cheese on top of the zucchinis, as desired.

Bake 20 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

IMG_3490Serve, enjoy, and feel a bit healthy for having eaten veg!

IMG_3491

Stuffed Zucchini

Inspired by AllRecipes, with some help from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

  • 3 eight ball zucchini
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 pinch thyme
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

Start by cutting the stems off of the zucchini, then cutting the zucchini in half, top to bottom. Scoop out the inside of the zucchini, using a melon baller, ice cream scoop, or grapefruit spoon, and leaving a 1/4″ “shell” intact. Chop up the insides that you’ve scooped out, then set aside in a large bowl. Microwave the outsides for 3 minutes, and set those aside as well.

Preheat oven to 375.

Over medium heat, cook the onion and celery with a glug of olive oil until softened, then transfer to the bowl with the zucchini. Cook the sausage until lightly browned, then add to the same bowl. Briefly beat the egg, then add to the bowl. Add the bread crumbs, thyme, and cheese and stir everything together.

Lightly grease a baking dish just large enough to hold all the zucchini shells open-side up, such as an 8X8″ pan. Fill the shells with a heaping amount of the sausage mixture. Place any remaining mixture in a small greased pan, like a bread pan. Sprinkle additional cheese on top of the zucchinis, as desired.

Bake 20 minutes, or until lightly browned on top, and serve.

Posted in Dinner | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Istanbul

As I briefly mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m in Turkey this month, and specifically in Istanbul. Our kitchen here barely exists, so I don’t expect to make anything worth sharing. So that you don’t all forget me entirely, I’ve taken pictures of some of the food my roommates and I have had and/or seen outside the apartment.

I'm not positive "kitchen" even applies

This is it. All of it.

IMG_2898

Heaps of profiteroles!

Maro excited for her profiterole.

Maro excited for her profiterole.

IMG_2899

Didn’t try any of this stuff, too busy with profiteroles!

IMG_2904

Ready to be consumed!

IMG_2900 IMG_2901 IMG_2969

Fish sandwiches under the Galata bridge are a 'thing' you're supposed to try. (I don't eat fish, though, these weren't mine!)

Fish sandwiches under the Galata bridge are a ‘thing’ you’re supposed to try. (I don’t eat fish, though, these weren’t mine!)

this was

this was

IMG_2975

spice market

IMG_2976 IMG_2323 IMG_2324

chicken salad with pomegranate and cheese

chicken salad with pomegranate and cheese

IMG_2337

cat in a restaurant!

IMG_2502

Dondurma – slightly thicker/chewier ice cream

IMG_2503

IMG_2522

Bosnian food, although if you said that that rice was Mexican rice I would have accepted it without much complaint.

IMG_2523

Bosnian meat UFO filled with cheese

IMG_2638

meat and some veggies in a wrap, super creative

IMG_3152

gluten free!

gluten free!

(this is the gf one)

(this is the gf one)

I’ll be back to the US in a week and a half, and will start cooking things to share with you all as soon as I can wake up and stumble down the stairs after that!

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