Pizza! For When the Busy Takes Over.

Hey folks, it’s been awhile since I posted here, hasn’t it? I had to take a break from blogging about food in order to grow some! Late April to early June is prime time in our garden, when the seedlings start growing into actual plants and lots of care is needed to make sure they become strong and healthy.  So far, so good as far as all that goes. And with all the good that has been going, meal time has become something of a challenge, especially on the weekends when we do most of our garden work. After being out in the yard all day, the last thing we want to do is cook.

This is where pizza comes in.

I love pizza. You love pizza. We all love pizza! And homemade pizza gets lots of love in our house, partly because it’s so easy to manage when we’re bone tired. And while you can’t go wrong with the basics – tomato and cheese, pepperoni and sausage, pepper and onion, etc., sometimes it’s nice to branch out into other flavor territories. So here are a couple recipes that we came up with when more than the basics are required: Buffalo chicken white pizza and artichoke, sun-dried tomato, and feta pizza. (So delicious, both!) I’ve also included a sauce recipe that’s become a staple whenever fresh tomatoes are not available. Either recipe can be made on the pizza crust of your choice — fresh, pre-made, flavored, wheat, white — the sky’s the limit! Cooking the pizza is up to you, whether you use a pan, pizza stone, or are maybe lucky enough to have a pizza oven. For our usual setup of individual pan pizzas, I cook the crust alone first for about 10 minutes at 375-400 degrees. Then I take the pizzas out of the oven, add the toppings, then put them back in for 13-15 minutes.

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Semi-homemade pizza sauce

  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with basil, oregano, and garlic (If you like a lighter sauce, only drain the tomatoes slightly. Drain fully if you want a thicker sauce.)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • dash of ground pepper
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon agave nectar (Recommend the agave over white sugar as it mixes better, but you could use white sugar. Go with a smaller amount of sweetener at first and add more to taste.)

Blend all ingredient together using a blender or stick blender. Let rest for about 30 minutes prior to using to let the dried herbs soften up a bit. Recipe makes enough for 2 large pizzas.

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Buffalo chicken white pizza

Ingredient list:

  • chicken (white and/or dark meat, whatever your preference)
  • flour
  • egg white
  • water
  • panko or white bread crumbs
  • corn meal
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oil, sliced or diced
  • butter
  • hot sauce
  • garlic powder
  • onions
  • whole milk mozzarella cheese (really, don’t skimp on the cheese! A little goes a long way.)

For buffalo chicken, cut up chicken into strips about an inch wide. Coat in flour, then dip into a mixture of 1 egg white and 1 tablespoon of water, then coat with a mixture of panko, corn meal, salt, and pepper. Fry chicken strips in about 1/2-inch of oil over medium heat, about 4-6 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain chicken on paper towels and let cool.

For the buffalo sauce – whisk together 1/2 cup of melted butter and 1/2 cup hot sauce. (Can adjust to taste.)

One chicken is cool to the touch, cut into small chunks and place in a ziploc bag. Pour in a enough buffalo sauce, and shake everything around, so that it liberally covers the chicken. (You’ll want to have enough sauce left over for two drizzles over the pizza.)

Also saute or caramelize the onions.

For garlic butter sauce, in a small container with a lid, add 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 2 teaspoons garlic powder. Put lid on a shake vigorously.

Prepare pizza: Brush garlic butter on crust. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Add chicken and onions. Drizzle a little buffalo sauce over the top. Cook until crust is golden brown. Drizzle a little more buffalo sauce over pizza before serving.

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Artichoke, sun-dried tomato, and feta pizza

Ingredient list:

  • artichoke hearts, quartered and marinated
  • sun-dried tomatoes (dry packed, not the ones in oil)
  • feta cheese
  • whole milk mozzarella cheese.
  • semi-homemade pizza sauce

Throw the sauce and cheeses on your pizza crust. Cut up a desired amount of artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes, and place liberally on top. While cooking, you may want to keep an eye on the pizza as sun-dried tomatoes have tendency to burn. (P. S. If you happen to like black olives, they work well on this pizza, sliced and in small quantities. Too many and it gets too salty.)


While Cary’s happy to talk food here, she’s also pretty good at doling out words about video games at United We Game while simultaneously maintaining her own blog, Recollections of Play. You can also find an archive of fun, geeky articles from her and like-minded souls at Geek Force Network.

Recipe Challenge: Fried Rice with Mushrooms

Mushrooms and I have a…well…rocky relationship. That’s to say I’ve spent the better part of my life avoiding them. For many years, they simply struck out in both the taste and texture departments. (Unless they were hidden so deeply in a dish as to be completely unrecognizable.) But some years ago I learned about the nutritional benefits of mushrooms, and since then have been trying to accept them into my life. I can now eat mushrooms on a pizza without wincing and can make a suitable mushroom gravy when needed. I’ve also been cooking with them more as I would any regular vegetable. The results have been…not the worst, but I still have a long way to go in become the world’s greatest mushroom chef.

Part of this re-examination of mushrooms has involved trying different varieties. For the most part, and thanks to their explosion of the 2000s, portabella mushrooms have been my go-to. But our local grocery store has upped its game in the produce section, and now all sorts of mushrooms are readily available. One of the newest things now for sale is this:

mushroom mix

“Exotic blend?” Erm, well…okay. Save for the portabellas, I guess shitake and oyster mushrooms still count as exotic these days. I brought them home with no plan of what to do with them. Only then entered in a challenge put forth by 8bit’s ringleader Liores: create a recipe using three chosen ingredients — peppers (hot or bell), mushrooms, and eggs. Well now…suddenly my fancy, exotic mushrooms took on a whole new meaning.

In thinking of meals that might include mushrooms, peppers, and eggs, my thoughts naturally turned towards breakfast — omelets, scrambles, fritattas, and such seemed perfect for such ingredients. Well, that is if the thought of eating mushrooms for breakfast didn’t give me pause. I needed something where the mushrooms would be suitably cooked and “disappear” into the dish. With that in mind, one meal jumped out: fried rice! Oh yes, what better way to incorporate different vegetables into one dish with (usually) good results? Hence my newest creation: Fried Rice with Mushrooms!

Now, to say that I have a fried rice “recipe” would be a lie. Fact is, fried rice is one of those nice dishes where you can throw in a little of this and a lot of that and smidge of something else, and most of the time, things turn out okay. So instead of a traditional list of ingredients and instructions, I’m going the sorta kinda play-by-play route, which, you should know, is unheralded as I’m perfectly awful at taking pictures of my cooking while it is happening. Apologies here for any blurry images.

Fried Rice with Mushrooms

First up in prep, the veggies. Here we have (going counterclockwise from bottom left), the mushroom mix (portabella, shittake, oyster), a large serving of broccoli spears, half a white onion, a few baby carrots, one egg, one bunch of scallions, and a bell pepper. Taking half the mushroom mix (about 4 ounces), I chopped everything up into bite-sized pieces.

ingredients - veggies

Next, we have the oil and spices. From left to right, teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, canola oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

ingredients - spices

And finally, the cooked and slightly cooled rice. (In this case white jasmine, because it was all I had.)

rice

Now onto the stove. First, heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large pan or wok over medium high heat. Then add in onion, pepper, and carrot. (If you like, you can also add in some chopped garlic.) Sauté until the carrots have softened a bit — about 8 minutes.

friedrice1

Then throw in the broccoli and mushrooms. Keep on stirring and cooking until the mushrooms have browned – another 5-6 minutes.

friedrice2

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. In the wok, create a small well in the center of the pan by moving your veggies out and up the sides a bit. Drop the egg into the center of the pan. Let it cook from about 2 minutes before incorporating it into the mixture.

friedrice3

Once the egg has been stirred in, fold in approximately 1 1/2 cups of the cooked rice.

friedrice4

Season the mixture with 3-4 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, a couple good shakes of garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and let the rice and veggies cook over heat for 3-4 minutes more.

friedrice5

Sprinkle scallions over the rice and let them warm through.

friedrice6

Serve the fried rice warm on its own or with your favorite Asian-inspired meat dish and/or egg rolls and/or whatever else you like.

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As a postscript, I must say that this recipe considerably changed my opinion of mushrooms. They lent delightfully hearty and earthy flavors to the fried rice, which were quite appealing, and which made the meal all the more filling. Needles to say, this dish is going into regular rotation, mushrooms and all!


While Cary’s happy to talk food here, she’s also pretty good at doling out words about video games at United We Game while simultaneously maintaining her own blog, Recollections of Play. You can also find an archive of fun, geeky articles from her and like-minded souls at Geek Force Network.

 

That Holiday Classic — Spanikopita!

In two days, we (read: Americans) will be engorging ourselves on a feast that only comes round once a year: Thanksgiving dinner. I’m talking sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, yeast rolls, stuffing/dressing/whatever you prefer to call it, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, ham (at least at my house) and, of course, spanikopita! Uhh, you mean…turkey?  No, actually I mean spanikopita, a classic spinach pie with Greek roots. I discovered this magical meal early on in my turn towards vegetarianism, and it became something of a holiday-only thing because of the limited availability of phyllo dough. Back then, the only time I could find phyllo dough was in November and December. Now, that quirky pastry dough is easily findable year-round, but I still tend to only make spanikopita during the holidays. Putting aside the difficulties of working with phyllo dough, spanikopita is a delicious, savory, and satisfying dish that can be equally enjoyed by all. (Seriously, and I’m not much of a fan of spinach!) Yes, you have to be a little easy on the papery phyllo, but the results are worth ten times the effort.

The recipe below serves 6-8 people and can easily be doubled or tripled (which might require 2 packages of phyllo dough). It’s made in an 8- or 9-inch pie plate, but you can also use a similarly sized square baking dish. Or, if you’re feeling brave and creative, you can also cut the dough and fold the filling into triangular “packets.” (Place them on a greased baking sheet and cook at the same temp and time.) But you’ll have to venture elsewhere online to find out how to do that — I just don’t have the skills and patience.

Spanikopita

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil olive oil
1 lb spinach washed and drained, or 10-16 ounces. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
6-7 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper
6-8 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten
3-4 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 package of phyllo dough, thawed (if obtained frozen)

 Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8- or 9-inch pie plate with a little cooking spray.

2. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat and add spinach. Let it wilt fully and then remove from the pan. Place on paper or cloth towels to cool and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Note:  If using frozen spinach, simply thaw and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

3. In same pan sauté scallions in remaining oil until soft. Add spinach back in along with parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well until spinach is warmed through. Remove mixture from pan to cool at least to room temperature.

Note:  Spinach mixture can be made up to a day in advance and stored in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.

4. Once spinach has cooled, stir in feta cheese and egg.

5. Unwrap and unroll thawed phyllo dough and place all the dough between sheets of damp paper towel. Basting each sheet carefully with butter, layer six sheets crossways — alternating between placing them left to right and top to bottom — in bottom of pie plate. (Some of the dough may hang over the edges and that’s okay.)

6. Place spinach and cheese mixture into pie plate and spread evenly. If your phyllo dough hangs over the edges of the plate, wrap it over the top.

7. Again basting each sheet carefully with butter, arranged 6 more sheets of dough on top of the spinach. (You can wrap or fold the dough in whatever manner you like to cover the pie, but none should hang over the edges of the plate, otherwise it’ll burn.)

8. Baste top layer with butter and cook for about 30 minutes, or until top is browned and filling is set.

9. Once done, cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into wedges.

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Because of phyllo dough’s tendency to become soggy, spanikopita is best enjoyed the day it’s cooked. Leftovers reheat well enough, but the dough will not become as crispy as when it’s first cooked.


Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.

Vegetable stir-fry (with tofu and/or meat)

With gardening now officially done at our house, the time has come when we must deal once again with store-bought vegetables. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but you know what they say: “Once you go black, you can never go back!”

Um…that’s not… …right? …

Anyway, making stir-fries is one of my favorite ways to manage our vegetable intake during the winter. They’re quick, savory, and a little goes a very long way, especially with the addition of a protein such as tofu or chicken or whatever you like.  The recipe below heartily serves 3-4 people. And loners need not fret, because it re-heats very well as a leftover! (It also bears mentioning that you can use just about any combination of vegetables here.)

Vegetable stir-fry (with tofu and/or meat)

Ingredients

vegetable oil
1 small onion, shopped
1 chili, seeded and diced
1/2 of a red, green, yellow pepper, chopped
1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 small can bamboo shoots, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped if large
1 cup snow peas, chopped, or left whole if small
4-6 scallions, sliced into rounds
1 package of extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cubed and/or 1 chicken breast, chopped, or 1 small sirloin steak cut into strips, or other meat/fish

For sauce:
1/4-1/2 cup soy sauce (use more if you like a thinner sauce)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Splash of cooking sherry (optional)

Cooked white or brown rice

Instructions
  1. Prepare 1-2 cups of white or brown rice in a style of your choosing.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together all sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  3. If using tofu, heat oven to 425 degrees and bake tofu for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. (Turn once if you remember. I never do. This process dehydrates the tofu a little, making it less mushy.)
  4. If using meat, in a hot wok or large frying pan pour in about a tablespoon of oil. Let it heat up over medium-high heat for a minute and then add the beef/chicken/whatever.  Sauté for about 5 minutes in just the oil, then add in a tablespoon or so of the sauce and cook for a minute more. Remove meat from pan keeping any remaining oil/sauce in the pan.
  5. Back in the wok, over medium-high heat, add in the onion, chili, pepper, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic. Sauté for 1 minute.
  6. Add in the broccoli and snow peas. Stir the mixture and sauté for a few minutes until the broccoli turns bright green. Add in the tofu and/or meat saute for about another 5 minutes until the snow peas and broccoli become tender.
  7. Pour remaining sauce over everything in the pan and stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes. (Any longer and the sauce will turn very dark and sticky.)

Top with fresh scallions and serve immediately over rice.


Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.

Honey-glazed Carrots with Sage

We’re all busy people.  We work; we tend to our families; we go out with friends; we raid with our guilds/save the universe/kill all the monsters; we try to sleep. Some days, the cycle is so maddening it’s not until moments before bedtime that you realize you haven’t eaten a decent meal all day (if you’ve eaten much of anything at all). Well here’s a super quick dish that you could easily squeeze in for lunch or dinner. It consists only of four ingredients — carrots, butter, honey, and ground sage — so it doesn’t require a fully-stocked kitchen. There’s a little chopping require, but you could whack through a bag of baby carrots if you don’t have regular-sized carrots. You will have to stand over the stove for a bit to make sure things don’t burn, but you’ll receive the lovely aromas of butter and sage, which are enough to calm even the most savage of souls. Granted, you’d want to include some protein and leafy greens with these carrots for a full meal, but having the carrots on their own is better than warming up that frozen something-or-other from the fridge or freezer. Plus, just think of all the wonderful beta-carotene! You need plenty of that to keep your eyesight sharp when raiding/saving/monster-hunting.

Honey-glazed Carrots with Sage

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
5-6 carrots, or about half a bag of baby carrots, roughly chopped
1-2 (or more) tablespoons of honey
1/2-1 teaspoon ground sage
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Melt butter over medium heat in a skillet large enough to accommodate your amount of cut carrots.  Let the butter brown slightly and then add in the carrots. Stir to coat.

2. Sauté the carrots about 10 minutes, or until they can be easily stabbed with a fork (yet aren’t mushy). 

3. Drizzle in the honey a tablespoon at a time. Use enough so that it starts bubbling up around the carrots.

4. Continue to cook the carrots until the honey stops frothing and thickens up. Sprinkle in a little salt and pepper, and then add the sage. Stir.

5. Cook for a couple minutes more until you can just start to smell the sage.

6. Let cool for five minutes before serving.


Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.

 

Root Beer Pulled Pork

Admission: I haven’t always been a vegetarian.

*GASP* you say, but alas, it’s true. For the better part of my formative years, I enjoyed immensely the likes of beef, chicken, sausage, and worldly goods from the ocean. By watching and helping my mother and grandmother, I learned how to cook all manner of meat-stuff.

Back then, it was easy to soak up all the extemporaneous actions of adding a pinch of this and a dash of that without worry. Now-a-days, my repertoire of non-vegetarian cooking relies heavily on written recipes, either those I find online or those from the one of the many cookbooks I own. It also helps to have a meat-eater in the house to whom I can always turn with a “please taste this.”

When I do cook meat, the highest compliment I can receive is having a table full of happy survivors with full and calm stomachs. But I’ll also occasionally get something along the lines of “I can’t believe a vegetarian cooked this!” My response is usually “don’t thank me, thank the recipe.” I had this conversation recently over a dinner of pulled pork sandwiches. If you try the recipe and like it, don’t thank me, thank Betty Crocker!

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Root beer pulled pork

The bulk of this meal is cooked in a crock pot. The recipe recommends using one in the 3-5 quart range, but I used a 7-quart one, and things turned out fine.

For the roast:

4-pound pork roast, bone-in or boneless
salt, pepper, oil
2 medium onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup root beer (NOT diet)

For the sauce:

3 cups root beer (again, NOT diet)
1 cup chili sauce (or 1 cup of ketchup mixed with 2 teaspoons of hot chili powder and a dash of [rice wine, white, apple cider, etc.] vinegar)

You’ll also need:

Hamburger buns, kaiser rolls, or something similar
Condiments of your choosing, like coleslaw and pickles

Instructions
  • Begin by trimming and seasoning the roast with salt and pepper. Then in a hot, oiled pan, sear the roast on all sides (2-3 minutes per side).
  • Place the onions in the bottom of the crock pot, followed by the garlic and then the roast. Pour in the 1 cup of root beer. Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours.
  • Once the roast is done, remove bones if necessary, and then shred the roast with forks. (Depending on the size of your crock pot, you may have to remove the pork into order to do this. If so, transfer the pork back into the crock pot when done.) Keep shredded pork on warm.
  • In a large saucepan over high heat, carefully mix together the root beer and the chili sauce. Bring the mixture to a roiling boil then reduce the heat enough to keep the sauce on a low boil. Stir occasionally.
  • After about 30 minutes, once the sauce has reduced a little, add roughly 1/2 cup of the sauce to the pork in the crock pot and mix. Return the sauce pot to the stove and continue to cook the sauce until thickened — around another 30 to 45 minutes over medium heat. Remember to stir. (The sauce will also thicken a little more once it’s taken off the heat.)

Serve pork warm on rolls, with sauce.


Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.

I Ate This: Two-Cheese Omelette and Toaster Oven Roasted Vegetables

omelette

Sudden craving for a oozing cheesy omelette.

So I made one.

Two beaten eggs, some shredded fresh dill and black pepper, aged cheddar cheese and parmesan crumbled in.

There’s some shredded chicken stuffed inside too, but that’s just because there were leftovers in the fridge.

Syl beat me to posting about roasted vegetables, so I won’t reinvent the wheel, but I’ve been recently into them ever since I figured out that my oven toaster (or toaster oven) was perfectly capable of roasting vegetables. (Duhhh. Right?)

I needed to get back to avoiding too much refined carbs and eating more vegetable carbs anyway, so I was sitting around trying to puzzle out how I could find more lazy ways to get more vegetables in my diet beyond salads and boiling leafy green stuff. (Let’s not even talk about stir-frying, too much time in the kitchen and slaving over a fire.)

I mean, some days, you don’t even feel like boiling water because it’s a pain to stand there and wait for the water to boil, before putting your veggies in, and after that, they taste like… boiled water.

You certainly don’t feel like breaking out your massive oven tray and lining it with foil and going through a big preheating production and massive electrical bill just to roast a small quantity of vegetables, to say nothing of the washing up afterwards.

But you know, lining a small metal tray with foil, piling some cut vegetables coated with olive oil onto it, sticking it in a toaster oven and setting it for 15 minutes… then walking away and going off to read some Reddit posts or watch some television until the cheery little “ding” announces the newly redolent veggies, a little shrunken and glistening with caramelized natural sugars, are ready to be consumed…

…that you can do.

oventoasterveggies

And yes, they’re also good smothered with cheese.

Zucchinis, red peppers, and eggplants have all been the recent recipient of this.

And if you’ve never tried French beans aka green beans prepped this way, DO.

They’re as addictive as french fries, and probably a little healthier.

Just do a Google image search for “roasted green beans” and don’t say I didn’t warn you if you get sudden cravings.

Also fantastic with these vegetables and some pan-fried salmon is this anchovy and caper miracle sauce from Nom Nom Paleo.

Lazy person that I am, I merely microwave-melted the tinned anchovies, stirred in capers and extra olive oil to taste. Didn’t have red pepper flakes, so added a dash of my ground chili paste instead. No lemon juice or parsley neither, but those are all extras anyway.

Recipe: Oven Roasted Veggies with Feta

I love colorful food that’s easy and quick to make. Veggies are an integral part of every healthy diet and yet veggie dishes are often considered heavy maintenance due to prepwork or amount of waste. So, here’s one of my favorite recipes for lazy people that’s also super flexible (you can pick almost any vegetable you like) and takes no more than 10mins of prepwork! There are no exact measurements for this recipe since the amount of vegetables is determined by the size of your baking sheet and number of people to serve.

veggieround

Some of my favorite veggies and feta cheese.

~ Ingredients ~
(serves 2-3 people for a main dish or 4-5 people as side)

  • 2 Red tomatoes
  • 2 Zucchini
  • 2 Medium-sized leeks
  • 15 Spring / baby potatoes
  • Feta cheese
  • Olive oil extra vergine
  • Rosemary and herbal salt
  • (Optional: diced bacon)

Preheat the oven at 220°C and start chopping your different vegetables. Cut the baby potatoes into even halves, bigger ones may be quartered. Make sure you’re not cutting other vegetables that contain more water, such as zuchchini / tomatoes / leek too thin, or they will dry out before the potatoes are done.

veggiecuts

Spread all vegetable slices on your baking sheet (covered with baking paper) and coat with a generous amount of olive oil. Add rosemary and any flavor of herbal salt you prefer – I tend to either go with italian or provençale flavors. Use your bare hands to mix and “massage” the oil and herbs onto all your veggies.

veggiemix

Spread the vegetables evenly, making use of the entire size of your pan. Finally, sprinkle feta cheese to taste over everything and put in the pre-heated oven for approx. 25-30 minutes at 220°C. This dish is basically done whenever your potatoes are.

veggiesdone

It’s omnom time!

Serves as a main vegetarian dish or side to any protein. I tend to go for a plate of purely veggies, sometimes with added bacon, and a spoonful of yoghurt or cottage cheese on top. Bon apétit!

I Ate This: Bacon Guacamole Sandwich

Sandwiches became famous for their simplicity — after all the Earl of Sandwich was looking for an easy way to eat without stopping his card game — but they can be surprisingly tricky for us home chefs.

Inevitably my home sandwich dreams seem modest to begin with and then quickly spiral out of control. A craving for a nice pastrami sandwich turns into buying a whole loaf of rye bread when I only need 2 slices. If I want to make my own club sandwich (my favorite kind!) I end up either spending $9 on a whole pre-roasted chicken or taking the time to roast one myself. Often by the end of the day I have a sandwich, but it either cost me $20 to make or I just spent 5 hours on a side quest learning how to bake brioche buns.

So when it comes to a good summer sandwich, my goal is simplicity and turning on the stove as little as possible. This summer, I am all about the bacon guacamole sandwich.

baconavocadosandwich

It’s simple and delicious, and also by using avocado instead of any mayo or dressing it has a lot of healthy fats. (And some unhealthy fats, because c’mon.)

Bacon Guacamole Sandwich
Makes 2 sandwiches

1) Remove the skin and the pit from one avocado. Put it in a bowl and mash it up.
2) Chop up half of a small red onion and a few tablespoons of fresh cilantro. Mix them in with the avocado.
4) Add a couple of squirts of lemon juice and a very light sprinkle of salt.
3) If you like spicy (I do!) add some red pepper flakes.

If I’m making guacamole for dipping I usually go a bit more complicated, but this is just part of a bite so don’t sweat the small stuff.

5) Wrap 4-6 pieces of bacon in paper towel, put them on a plate, and throw the plate in the microwave for roughly 3 minutes.

Again, on its own I prepare bacon differently — crispy or die! — but for a sandwich you want it to be meaty and chewy.

6) Grab a delicious fresh ripe red tomato and cut it into slices. You’ll need 4-6 for two sandwiches.
7) Get some bread or a bun or whatever you have on hand. Lightly toast it.
8) Combine everything! Spread half of the guac on the bread, add tomato and bacon slices.
9) Eat the sandwich.

You made a sandwich in 15 minutes, you didn’t have to turn on your stove, and it’s super delicious. Summer is served!

Jessica, aka Liore, can usually be found griping about video games on her blog and podcast at Herding Cats, or on Twitter. She likes saying “flavor profile” and going light on the carbs, and dislikes measuring things. Jessica is currently obsessed with Korean cuisine.

Roasted vegetables with pasta

veggies

Greetings all! I don’t want to bore everyone with a long introduction, because this is the Internet and you can easily find links and such, but suffice to say I’m thrilled to be here and am looking forward to sharing my recipes and reading those of my fellow gamers.

‘Nuff said. Let’s get cooking!

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I’m starting off here with one of my staple meals — roasted vegetables with pasta. It’s a great any time of the year, and especially any time when you have a surplus of fresh veggies. It can be made as the main dish, a side, and is great leftover (cold or warm). I prefer the mixture of tomatoes, corn, onion, and asparagus, but I’ve also made it with string beans, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, carrots, and other add-ins. If a vegetable can be roasted, then it’ll be perfect here!

Ingredients
(Serves 2-3 people as a main dish; you can adjust accordingly)

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (or 2-3 large tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen, or canned but drain first
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 10-12 asparagus spears, chopped (and be sure to remove the woody ends)
  • 3-4 whole garlic cloves
  • (Other veggies of your choosing, chopped into bite-sized pieces)
  • Pasta of your choice.  Large shapes, like egg noodles (my fav), bow ties, or shells work well.
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
  • Salt and pepper

You’ll also need a medium to large pan on which to put everything — a cookie sheet, roasting pan, 13 x 9 baking dish, etc. — to which liberally apply a cooking spray of your choosing.

Should you wish to add meat, roast chicken or pork work well. I’ll often cook a piece of chicken (simply seasoned with salt, garlic powder, and pepper) in the oven along with the veggies, then shred and mix it in with the appropriate serving.

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Place all the veggies and garlic cloves on the pan/dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for about 20 minutes. (My gauge for doneness is when the tomatoes start to pop open.) Remove from oven once done.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling, salted water.  Drain thoroughly but do not rinse.

4. In same pot as you cooked the pasta, melt a few tabs of butter over medium-low heat and add in a few splashes of olive oil.

5. Once this mixture is warm, add in all the veggies except for the garlic cloves.  Mash garlic cloves separately (in a press or on a board), then add and mix.  Gently stir in the pasta and mix in a decent handful of parmesan cheese.  (Add chicken, if using.)  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with warm garlic bread.


Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.