Monthly Archives: October 2015

Pizza can be a Hasty Tasty Meal

What prevents pizza from qualifying as a quick meal is the crust. If you have a ready-made crust, great. But don’t make a trip to the supermarket just for pizza crust or dough. In the time it takes you to shop, you can be halfway to making your own. Or, if you can plan, make pizza crust dough the night before and stick it in an oiled zippered storage bag and refrigerate for later.

Don’t be intimidated by the professional pizzeria. Throwing dough in the air to stretch it takes practice, and it’s partly for show. But you do need to stretch the dough, not roll it. This isn’t a pie crust. Gently stretch the dough (little tosses, not ceiling-high ones) until you get the thickness you prefer.

The rest is easy. Prebake the crust while you assemble the toppings of your choice. Today I used leftover pasta sauce from yesterday’s dinner, but use whatever you like. The secret to delicious pizza is good cheese. If you can, grate your own mozzarella and Parmesan. The grated cheese in bags are convenient, but they contain additives to prevent clumping (and flavor!).

RECIPE

Hasty Tasty Pizza

Makes one 12″–14″ round pizza

Dough Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt (or I use pink Himalayan salt)
  • 2 cups flour (your choice of bread, all purpose, or a blend of whole wheat/bread flour)
  • 1 tsp. dried yeast

Pizza toppings:

  • 16 ounces prepared sauce (Plain tomato sauce with Italian spices added works)
  • 1 cup chopped meat or vegetables of your choice
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup grated (or sliced) mozzarella (or more, to taste)
  • (optional) ribbons of fresh basil

Directions:

  1. For pizza dough, combine all ingredients into a bowl, cover with a towel, and set aside.
  2. After the dough rises, punch it down and toss gently to stretch into the desired shape (round or rectangle, depending on the pan you use to prebake)
  3. Preheat oven to 425°F
  4. Bake the crust in a greased pan for 15 minutes or until done (slightly brown).
  5. Remove crust from oven but leave oven on.
  6. Gently remove crust from pan and place on a pizza peel (this step is optional but I recommend it for thin and crispy crust).
  7. Top the pizza crust with sauce, toppings, and cheese. Leave a minimum ½” around the edges plain to discourage oven spills while baking.
  8. Using the peel, carefully place the pizza on the middle rack in the oven. Or if baking in the pan, place the pan on the middle rack.
  9. Bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes, or until pizza is bubbly and cheese starts to brown.
  10. Turn oven off. Carefully slip the peel under the pizza and remove it from the oven. Allow pizza to cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
  11. Slice and serve!

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Chicken Skillet Pie

At first glance, this recipe appears time consuming, not hasty. What makes this skillet pie a hasty tasty meal is the prep. You can make it the day before if you want. Then simply place the skillet in a 400°F preheated oven for an hour when you’re ready to cook. Make-ahead meals are so convenient. Today I made this one before heading off to church. When I got home, I simply baked and served. Meanwhile, I had the luxury of changing clothes, reading the Sunday paper, enjoying a cup of tea, and still had time to set the table and pour the iced tea.

Use the oven-safe skillet of your choice, but I prefer the 12″ Lodge cast iron skillet.

RECIPE

Chicken Skillet Pie

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked, chopped chicken meat
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
  • 1 thawed pie crust

Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
    2. Generously oil the interior surface of a 12″ cast iron skillet. Preheat over medium heat.
    3. Add onions, celery, and carrots. Cook for five minutes, or until onions soften.
    4. Add mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook five minutes.
    5. Combine the cooked chicken with the vegetables. Heat through.
    6. Combine soups and milk in a quart bowl or pitcher. Stir to blend.
    7. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in the soup mixture.
    8. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and herbs over the top of the pie filling.
    9. Gently roll the pie crust until it measures 12″ in diameter (or whatever size skillet you use). Carefully lift the crust and place it atop the pie filling.
    10. Crimp edges of crust. Cut several vent holes in the top of the crust.
    11. Place skillet pie in oven on the middle rack. Time for one hour. Do not open oven door to peek until after 45 minutes. If your crust browns before time is up, turn off the oven.
    12. Carefully remove skillet from oven and allow the pie to cool for at least fifteen minutes before cutting to serve. Drape a towel or potholder over the skillet handle as a reminder that it’s hot.
    13. Cut into six wedges and serve.

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Southwest Butternut Squash Soup 


It’s cooler weather. Soup season is back.

By request, here’s the link to my recipe.

https://chefcheri.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/southwestern-butternut-squash-soup/

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