Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tasty Crackers... from Won Ton Wrappers?!

I love eating crackers and chips with different dip options.  From childhood, we always had chips and usually French onion dip on hand for snacks.  I love making homemade pita chips, but I was looking for something different to try.  One of the best shortcuts to "homemade" pasta is to use refrigerated won ton wrappers (usually found in the produce section of the grocery store), but when I use them to make ravioli I always have way more wrappers than I do filling.  What to do....

Fried won ton strips (like they serve with hot and sour soup at Chinese restaurants) are always yummy, but the fat and calories aren't ideal.  I started searching the web for recipes involving baking won ton wrappers.  I found inspiration at Sam the Cooking Guy's website.  His recipe doesn't specify any seasonings, so I played around with some options.  I modified the recipe slightly and added some bbq spice to a batch, salt and pepper to another, and a third included garlic powder and parmesan.  Here's the basic recipe:

Won Ton Crackers

1 package won ton wrappers
Non-stick cooking spray
Salt, pepper, and seasonings of choice (bbq, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, etc.)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Slice won ton wrappers in half lengthwise to form rectangles.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet.  To help crisp them and adhere the seasonings, spray with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with seasonings of choice (salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning, etc.).  Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until browned and crispy.


The cracker was important, but so is the dip.  I had lemons and lemon juice handy, so I whipped up a dip with light sour cream (Greek yogurt is a great sub), creamy prepared horseradish, and lemon juice and zest.  The result?  A light and tasty dip with crunchy, thin crackers.  I know my snack for this week! PS - this dip could be a great twist to serve with prime rib.

Lemony Horseradish Dip

1/2 cup light sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp - 1 tsp prepared creamy horseradish to taste
2 tsp lemon juice, preferably fresh
Zest of 1/2 - 1 lemon (depending on size)

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, and zest.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  If desiring more horseradish flavor, may add more to taste.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Got a cast iron skillet - you got great pizza!

Last year, I fell completely in love with grilling up a pizza for a quick, light meal.  Crispy, slightly charred crust underneath, any pre-cooked toppings you can imagine, and crazy, wonky shaped dough - yum!  Even though this winter is abnormally pleasant and we could probably grill most any night, typically, pizza in winter would mean a call to Papa John's.  I've tried so many pizzas in the oven and just can't really groove on most of the deli and frozen pizzas out there. 

I came across a recipe for a pizza cooked in a cast iron skillet and was intrigued.  Cast iron is a magical tool in the kitchen - an absolute must-have item.  I received a cast iron skillet as a wedding present - probably a $20 gift, but perhaps one of my most treasured kitchen items.  It pretty much can go anywhere and cook anything... except in the microwave.  Anything that uses the cast iron skillet intrigues me since it's easy to use and easy to clean.  Plus, a recipe that's ready in 30 minutes with minimal fuss is even better.

A few hints about making skillet pizza:
- pre-cook your toppings - the crust will burn before raw sausage is cooked in this type of recipe
- think outside the tomato sauce box - add pesto, or use olive oil, parmesan and garlic powder to make a "white" pizza
- use less cheese for a healthier option - I love using little fresh mozzarella pearls.  They spread out as they melt covering more of the pizza for far less calories
- Living gluten free?  Making your own pizza lets you control the crust, toppings, and prevent gluten issues

For this recipe, I just used store-bought pizza dough in a can, but you can get dough from a pizzeria, frozen dough, or make your own.  Since we love mushrooms, I sauteed some with some shallots before starting the pizza.  I went mediterranean with chorizo, fresh mozzarella, and olive oil.  The interesting part of how to cook the recipe is that it actually cooks on the stove in the skillet part of the way and then finishes in the oven.  It's rustic and homey comfort food.  Try this recipe with your favorite toppings and you can have fresh pizza in 30 minutes for the whole family.  Happy eating!

Cast-Iron Skillet Pizza
1 tube of refrigerated pizza dough
Cornmeal, for dusting skillet
Toppings of choice - veggies, cheese, meat, etc.

Heat oven to 500 degrees.  Heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  While skillet is preheating, sprinkle cornmeal on counter and roll out to 12-inch circle.  Once heated skillet is heated, sprinkle cornmeal in skillet and place dough in skillet.  Spread out dough to edges of skillet.  Brush crust with olive oil, sauce (tomato sauce, pesto, etc.) if using, and top with items of choice and finishing with cheese.  Cook over medium-high heat for 6 - 8 minutes periodically turning crust slightly to prevent sticking and burning.  Finish cooking in oven for 6 - 8 more minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted and beginning to brown.