Summer Veggie Pizza

Summer Veggie Pizza

I recently acquired a free subscription to Better Homes and Gardens. As a 25-year-old woman this is not my normal magazine of choice but it came with a comforter I purchased this past spring and if it’s free it’s me!

In the August edition of BHG I found an article of ideas to use zucchini and yellow squash in ways that would be more exciting for your family such as a full veggie pizza. The article didn’t have a recipe but rather a short list of ingredients, including Alfred sauce, mozzarella cheese, sliced zucchinis and squash and basil. This recipe seemed easy and quick allowing for room for creativity and that’s just up my alley so I invited some friends over for dinner and ran off to the grocery store with my meager list. I grabbed two pizza crusts with Sherree, two jars of Alfredo sauce, 3 zucchinis and 3 yellow squashes and shredded mozzarella cheese.

First I used my mandolin to slice the zucchini’s and yellow squash, as it turns out I needed about one of each veggie for the two pizzas. Next I spread the Alfredo sauce over the pizza crust and layered the zucchini as the first level, the squash as the second layer. I added a generous layer of mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

What I failed to do was add any seasoning and thus my friends and I enjoyed a rather bland pizza. My friends decided to add crushed red pepper or hot sauce to add flavor post-cooking. These items may be good to have on hand even if you do add seasoning because they are beloved condiments and hot sauce is a crowd pleaser any day.

Ingredient List:

  • 1 store bought pizza crust
  • 1 jar of Alfredo sauce
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1 Yellow Squash
  • Mozzarella cheese (one store bought bag)
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Spread a layer of Alfredo Sauce on top of the pizza crust (expect to use 1/3 to ½ of the jar)
  • Sprinkle Italian Seasoning over the Alfredo sauce
  • Spread zucchini directly over the Alfredo sauce with little separation between the zucchini slices
  • Spread yellow squash over the layer of zucchini with little separation between the squash slices
  • Liberally sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of the veggies, sprinkle parmesan cheese as a second layer of cheese on top of the mozzarella
  • Place in oven and allow to cook for 20 minutes

Prepping the Veggies

Step 1 Veggie Pizza Step 1.5 Veggie Pizza

Step 2 Veggie Pizza

Last Step, Veggie Pizza

I hope this summer veggie pizza provides you a delicious meal to share with your family or friends and that you submit comments on how to improve this recipe as you experiment.

– Enjoy! –  

PB Energy Balls

Today in preparation for a friend’s cookout, I spent the afternoon cooking. Now what I should have been doing all afternoon was studying for an upcoming Midterm. It’s my last semester of grad school and my motivation is low, low, lowwwwwwww. But hey, at least I’m well fed!

 

My first recipe was from Edible Sound Bites’ blog for Peanut Butter Energy Bites, I had my eye on these energy balls because they are sunflower seed based and I have a bunch of sunflower seeds with no recipes’ planned and thus a great curiosity to use them.

PB Energy Ball - cover 

I utilized my Blendtec blender for this recipe but you can use a food processor if that’s your kitchen tool of choice.

PB Energy Ball Ingredients

 

The ingredients are as follows:

1/2c Sunflower Seeds

1/4c Rolled Oats

1/2c Dried Apricots

1/2c Peanut Butter (or other nut butter)

1oz Honey

1/4c Vanilla Protein Powder

2 tbsp Ground Flaxseeds

*Optional:

Coconut flakes, cocoa powder or chia seeds to roll and coat energy balls in.

 

What I like about this recipe is that I am able to get 16-19 balls and each bite is less than 100 calories. I can take a zip lock of 2 or 3 balls to school and have a quick snack before each class that I know is healthy and tasty. I ran my recipe through Spark People to generate a Nutrition Label to show you just how great these snacks are!

PB Energy Nutrition

First up you’ll add the sunflower seeds and oats to the blender and pulse until you have a flour like mixture.

PB Energy Ball - Step 1

Second, add in the apricots to the existing mixture. You’ll pulse until you have a crumbly mixture.

PG Energy Ball - Step 2

Add in the remaining ingredients to the blender and pulse until the components are well mixed.

PB Energy Balls - Step 3

Lastly, remove spoonful’s of the mixture and form into 1” diameter balls.

(At this time you may roll the balls into one of the optional ingredients to coat the energy balls with a topping.)

PB Energy Balls - Step 4

Store energy balls in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks and voilà! 

Stove Top Chili Lasagna

Here in Houston I have minimal kitchen supplies as I left my whole kitchen in Indiana for the summer. I didn’t have the time or space to move it down and that makes me really sad now…but I’ll be really happy when I have to move back North in 5 weeks. I guess you can’t win ‘em all.

 

I have one pot and one 8” skillet to make it through the summer so I have to get creative if I want to eat food that isn’t take out or microwaved. I am an avid Pinterest user and I make a point to actually attempt the recipes I pin along with the arts and craft ideas. Understandably, not everything turns out well when I first try it so I took two trials to test out this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Café, to my great surprise even though I had a tiny 8” skillet and had to break the recipe in half and mix it together in my one pot, it turned out perfectly!

 

If you’re looking for an easy and quick dinner that will save nicely for further lunches and dinners then BOOM-BABY, this is your dish!

In total you’ll spend 25-30 minutes with prep work, cooking and plating this meal, I spent about 7 minutes eating each serving throughout the week. Let’s get to the good stuff…

Skillet full of yum

Skillet full of yum

 

Ingredients

2 tbls. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp. Chili Pepper *Suggested: Chipotle Chili Pepper

1 Chopped Yello Onion

4 tsp. Minced Garlic

2 cans (28oz.) Diced Tomatoes *Suggested: Fire Roasted Style

10+ Curly Edged oven ready lasagna noodles

2 small chopped zucchini

2 small chopped yellow squash

1 chopped Japanese Eggplant

1 cup Skim ricotta cheese

Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese

Chopped Veggies

Chopped Veggies

Supplies
–       12” skillet

Directions

  1. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in the skillet at medium heat
  2. Add onion & cook until soft
  3. Add garlic to skillet and cook for 1 minute
  4. Drain cans of diced tomatoes and add to skillet
  5. Break Lasagna noodles and place on top of the diced tomatoes, allow mixture to simmer then reduce to a medium heat and cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally
  6. Mix in chopped zucchini, squash and eggplant. Cook for 8-10 minutes on medium heat.
    1. You want the veggies to be tender
  7. Remove skillet from heat and add ricotta cheese, plate and sprinkle parmesan cheese for serving
Fully cooked and fully cheesed stove top lasagna.

Fully cooked and fully cheesed stove top lasagna.

Frank – Gourmet Hot Dog Review

After Happy Fatz in Huston, TX, my hot dog research took me up to Austin, TX to see fellow WY&PF blogger Sherree where we explored the food and the wonderful things that make Austin weird.

 

Our first stop was Frank (hot dogs, cold beer) a restaurant claiming to be a purveyor of artisan sausage. Frank is located on Colorado Street between 4th and 5th streets in Austin, TX (zip 78701), it has a huge parking lot with a monthly rotating mural supporting local and up and coming artists.

Image  Image

Help yourself get more familiarized with Franks, check out their website http://hotdogscoldbeer.com/austin/eats/

 

There were four of us dining that afternoon, we were able to sit as soon as we walked in and asked for a table and were able to place our drink orders quickly. Sherree and I sampled the freshly made lemonade and puckered up immediately, word or advice it’s t-a-r-t. It took us awhile to decide on what dog we would all order but we settled on the following,

 

Carolina Pork It – Vienna Beef stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon then deep-fried (why not amiright?) with a layer of grilled horseradish coleslaw and pimento cheese.

Image

Southern Boy – The base of this dog is a blackened, split Vienna Beef Hot Polish link with caramelized onions, crispy pork belly, pepper jack cheese and Frank’s Dr. Doppelgänger BBQ sauce.

Image

Jackalope – Smoked antelope, rabbit and pork sausage topped with cranberry compote, sriracha aioli and cheddar cheese.

Image

And The Notorious P.I.G – Smoked pork, bacon, jalapeno and sage sausage dressed with mac n’cheese and Dr. Doppelgänger BBQ sauce.

Image

Everyone loved his or her weenies. The Carolina Pork It was a tasty meaty choice, the Southern Boy was pretty freaking spicy so know that before you go face deep in that bad boy but the spices were flavorful even though they were hot. The Notorious P.I.G. was another hit, the mac n’ cheese wasn’t particularly delicious, fortunately for Sherree she ordered it on the side and not on top of her dog. As a whole we felt that the sides at Frank were lacking. The waffle frys and the additional dips available for order were amazing. My personal favorite was the Chili Mayo. I ate the Jackalope, this dog has changed my wiener life, let me tell you why.

 

While eating the Jackalope I realized that any recipe used for pork, beef or turkey could be done for a hot dog! I am a huge cranberry fan and I dream of big fat turkey and cranberry sandwiches every time there is a boxed lunch option at the Business school or work. Finding that I can marry some of my favorite toppings on what I had previously thought was a run of the mill hot dog is a total game changer.

 

If I lived in Austin I would make regular visits to Frank to eat my way through their menu. I highly recommend this restaurant for any locals, those in the surrounding Austin area or anyone passing through, make a point to stop by this place.

 

Not food related I also recommend you take the time to either walk down South Congress to the 1300 block to see the famous “I love you very much” graffiti and other surrounding gems. If you’re in town around dusk 1.5 million bats fly out from under the South Congress bridge to do their nighttime thing, apparently the site is one to be held and one of the many things that help to keep Austin Weird.

 

Happy Fatz – Gourmet Hot Dog Review

I’ve had hot dogs on the brain recently and there are a few reasons I can think of that would make me be thinking of weeines so much:

  1. I love potty humor
  2. I enjoyed a delicious white sausage with a pint of Hefeweizen during a recent layover in the Frankfurt, Germany airport (more on this Sausage experience later)
  3. It’s summer and I’m dreaming of baseball and hotdogs in my beloved AT&T Park
  4. I saw an article on the cover of All You while in the checkout lane with an article on fresh recreations on a family favorite, hot dogs (http://dailysavings.allyou.com/2014/06/11/easy-ketchup-recipes/)

 

So I launched my first research project for WY&PF that I dubbed simply “hot dog research”, my initial name was “Weiner Search 2014” but I thought I should reel myself in a little bit…

 

When I told some fellow interns at work they were very concerned that I was going to be researching à la Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jungle) I’m not a mystery meat kinda gal, so I let them know I most certainly would be staying out of slaughter houses for this assignment and would focus solely on artisan sausages.

 

First up on my tour de dog was Happy Fatz in Houston, Texas.

 

Happy Fatz is located in The Heights, a cute hipster residential part of Houston that is one of Texas’ earliest planned communities that boasts many quant restaurants and beer gardens. Happy Fatz is known for its Gourmet Hotdogs and Specialty Desserts and regularily receives favorable reviews on Yelp.com as well as operates a clean and user friendly website, http://happyfatz.com, all of these things are important to me.

Image

On a Friday night for dinner I met up with a friend from Purdue who is also interning in Houston this summer. I ordered The Clucker and she ordered the Texas Chili, it just so happens our orders represent the two most ordered dogs on the menu.

 

The Clucker is a mammoth of ¼ pound Hebrew National Kosher Beef hot dog with shredded has brows, large bacon bits, grilled white onions, and an over easy egg onto of a gourmet sausage covered in a light red secret “clucker sauce”. When asked how many calories this behemoth was I was told the calories count is unknown and likely for the best, I decided to order the side of fresh cut fruit to ease my caloric guilt. I had to cut through this dog with a knife and fork, there was no way I could take it to the face with out a bib. With that being said the dog was good and I enjoyed the toppings and the experience of eating a big fat hot dog but I was hoping for bolder flavors. The grilled white onions were prefect and there were bites of flavor with the bacon bits but the clucker sauce didn’t bring much favor to the experience and the egg mostly stressed me out with the running yoke.

Image

My friend ordered the Texas Chili that housed the same ¼ pound Hebrew National Kosher Beef hot dog along with homemade Shiner Bock chili, onions, melted cheddar topped with a handful of Frito chips. Another dog that was too big to eat without a knife and fork that left a little more to be desired. The chili was spicy but the report back was that it was just OK. I personally love the idea of chips on my hot dog (or homemade sandwich for that matter) and my recommendation would be to add a side of sour cream to ease the heat of the chili.

Image

Overall, would I go back to Happy Fatz? Oh heck yes.

 

The Happy Fatz experience is laid back and relaxing. I thought the restaurant was a great place to kick back and catch up with a friend and expand my palate. I appreciated how there were local artists hung on the walls and mention to animal adoptions hosted by the Happy Fatz community, these are all the elements I like to see in a local establishment that engrains it into the community members and brings a sense of belonging to customers.

 

Lastly, I have my eye on the Lotus Blossom (Fresh spinach, red cabbage, Happy Fatz white cheddar pimento cheese on a jalapeno bun) or a Build your Own dog with grilled onions, grilled peppers, hash browns, feta cheese & salsa verde. Also, I didn’t have a stomach capacity to explore the Specialty Desserts so a second visit to Happy Fatz is in my future.