Hamburger & Caramelized Onion Pizza

Pizza is one of those foods that works for just about everyone. From meat eaters to vegetarians, kids, adults and everyone in between. Year-round, its the perfect entree for family or party events.

Brion & I always enjoy pizza, preferably homemade. Usually my go-to toppings would be veggies, chicken or seafood, but nothing says it can’t be ground meat.

One of the things that seemed to improve on the flavor of this pizza was the caramelized onions. It takes only a few extra minutes but is worth it. For the sauce, I tried a blend of prepared lite Alfredo & marinara and then used a combo of cheeses instead of just one. Its always interesting to me what develops when you ‘step out of the box’.

Of course, if you have time to make a full fledged pizza crust it will take it all to the next level. But, I never hesitate, when I’m too busy, to use a purchased, refrigerated pizza crust. Pizza is just good, so do what works for you!

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Hamburger & Caramelized Onion Pizza
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Instructions
Pizza Crust
  1. For my PIZZA CRUST RECIPE, you can find it in either JULY or AUGUST 2019 blog entries on this site. It is a yeast dough so it will take a bit of time to prepare (but worth it).
Pizza Toppings
  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter & add onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 20-25 minutes or until onion is browned & caramelized. Remove onion mixture from skillet; set aside.
  3. Add 1 Tbsp butter to skillet & saute mushrooms until tender & moisture has evaporated. Remove from skillet; add to onion mixture. Place ground beef & garlic in skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5-6 minutes or until browned. Drain off fat. Stir in caramelized onions, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper.
Assembly
  1. Spread Alfredo/marinara sauce blend over either homemade or purchased PIZZA CRUST. Sprinkle with a small portion of your cheese blend. Top with ground beef mixture, red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, sliced green olives & remaining grated cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes or until crust is nicely golden brown.
Recipe Notes
  • To grill pizza, heat one side of gas grill on medium or charcoal grill until coals are ash white. Place coals to one side in charcoal grill. Place pizza onto grill opposite coals. Close lid; grill, rotating once 12-15 minutes or until heated through & cheese is melted.

Sausage & Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

While there are numerous ways to enjoy spaghetti squash, I favor stuffed. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to stuffing. Beef, turkey, chicken along with rice and a nice smoky cheese like Gruyere or even mozzarella and Parmesan work really well.

It’s called spaghetti squash for a reason. Just steam, microwave or bake the squash in its shell and scrape out the flesh with a fork or spoon. No need for a spiralizer as it separates its own flesh in slender pasta-like strands. It makes for a remarkable stand-in for pasta dishes and with such a mild flavor you can chose from any number of sauces to give it a flavor boost.

This stuffed squash is the full meal deal. Along with veggies, you have chicken, sausage and cheese. Super good!

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Sausage & Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, German
Servings
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Instructions
Squash
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Drizzle cut sides of spaghetti squash with oil & season with salt & pepper. Place cut side down on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Using a fork, break up squash strands. Set aside.
Filling & Topping
  1. In a large skillet, scramble-fry sausage in olive oil; drain on paper towels. Add another Tbsp oil to skillet; saute onion & pepper about 3-4 minutes then add tomatoes, zucchini, garlic & lemon zest. Season with salt, pepper & Italian seasoning & cook 3-4 minutes more. Gently stir in squash, cooked chicken & sausage & remove from heat.
  2. Divide mixture between spaghetti squash halves (or quarters). Top each spaghetti squash portion with mozzarella cheese & return to oven to melt for 5 minutes. Garnish with Parmesan & serve.

Parsnip Noodles with Meatballs

Spiral vegetable slicers, also known as spiralizers, have been a trending kitchen gadget since about 2014. This nifty apparatus can transform veggies such as zucchini, pumpkin, carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, squash, potatoes ……. into linguine-like strands which can be used as an alternate to pasta.

The process is pretty simple, either peel or wash the raw piece of produce and use the tool to spiral it down into a noodle shape. There are two basic varieties of vegetable spiralizers on the market to consider.

For smaller kitchens and counter spaces there is an hourglass-shaped tool. It is two sided for the option of thin or thicker noodles and calls for an easy manual twisting of the vegetable to produce noodles. It comes with a small metal prong to hold the veggie in place.

For larger kitchens and counter spaces there is a tri-blade version with a variety of attachments and a handle so you can crank out your noodles.

Spiralled veggies are easy and fast to cook. For best results make sure to pat them dry before cooking. I prefer to season and saute ours for a few minutes.

What makes pasta great is not the actual pasta but the sauce you put on it. Vegetable noodles have the same consistency as pasta, so when it comes to sauces, the less water the better. Reduce tomato-based sauce as much as possible or choose thicker cream-based sauces to pair with your veggie noodles.

Parsnips are a vegetable we both enjoy, so for something different, I spiralized them. Brion was amazed at how much this meal looked like spaghetti and meatballs. Nice change!

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Parsnip Noodles with Meatballs
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine ground meat, cheese, grated garlic, Italian seasoning, bouillon cube, red pepper flakes, chopped cilantro & some black pepper. Combine well & form into meatballs.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium-low heat, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Cook meatballs for 8-10 minutes until browned & cooked through. Add pasta sauce & continue cooking until sauce is hot. Remove to a bowl & keep hot while you saute your parsnip noodles.
  3. In the same skillet, melt remaining Tbsp butter; add lemon juice, hot sauce & minced garlic. Add the spiralized, parsnip noodles & saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring regularly, until parsnips are tender-crisp. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper.
  4. Divide parsnip noodles between serving plates & top each with meatballs & sauce.

Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

The name ‘patty pan’ comes from the French word patisson, for a cake made in a scalloped mold. This type of squash is as versatile as they come. It is very similar to summer squash, in fact, the two are interchangeable in recipes.

Summer squash originated from the region between Mexico and Guatemala. Like its relatives, it grows fast and abundant. It cooks like a fleshier zucchini or yellow squash and can be baked, grilled or stuffed.

Patty pan’s shape is well suited to stuffing. Simply cut off the stem end to make a ‘hat’, then cut a thin slice off the bottom of the squash, so that it sits evenly in the baking pan. Use a spoon to hollow out the body, saving the insides. These can be cooked and added to your stuffing.

This is a simple yet ‘showy’ meal, great for fall entertaining.


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Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

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Instructions
Preparing Squash
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. With a small knife, cut a circle around the top of squash. As you cut, angle your knife diagonally from the outer edge of the squash towards the center. Remove the top of squash & set aside. Hollow out the insides with a small spoon, being careful not to pierce the squash. Discard membrane & seeds. Set aside remaining squash pulp. Drizzle the inside & bottom of lids with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, set on a baking sheet & place in the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Couscous
  1. In a small saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover & remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork & drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.

Sausage & Veggies
  1. Add a small amount of olive oil to a large skillet & heat on medium-high. Remove the sausage from its casing; add in small pieces to the heated skillet. Cook & crumble sausage until browned. Add garlic & onion to skillet & saute for 4-5 minutes or until onion is slightly translucent. Add herbs & salsa to taste, then add reserved squash pulp & cook for another 2-3 minutes. Salt & pepper to taste. Add couscous to skillet & stir to combine with other ingredients. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over all & stir to incorporate.

Assembly
  1. Stuff each squash with the couscous mixture, sprinkling a bit more Parmesan on tops. Place the stuffed squash back in the oven for 10-15 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Wild Shrimp & Red Pepper Pizza

One thing for sure — pizza worldwide, never gets ‘old’. The fact that pizza can be topped with almost anything, creates some of the most unique flavors.

But, first we must think about the cheese used as it has been a part of pizza forever. Food experts seem to agree that mozzarella is the best choice. There are four different kinds of mozzarella used for pizza: fior di latte (made of cow’s milk), mozzarella di bufala (made from the milk of water buffalo), burrata (a fresh Italian cheese with a creamy filling), and the type most commonly used in North America, pizza cheese (whole milk or part skim mozzarella). Of course you can always opt for a kind that you favor more personally.

Around the world, regional ingredients and local foods create some interesting combinations such as:                                                                                      Australia: bacon, ham, egg, shrimp & pineapple                                                          Brazil:        green peas, corn, raisins, boiled eggs & hearts of palm                      China:        mini hot dogs                                                                                                          Costa Rica: shrimp & coconut                                                                                                France:       bacon, onion & fresh cream                                                                          Germany:  canned tuna                                                                                                            Greece:       feta cheese, olives, oregano, onion, tomato, green pepper &                                 pepperoni                                                                                                                India:           tikka chicken, minced mutton, pickled ginger, paneer cheese &                          tofu                                                                                                                              Japan:          squid, eel, teriyaki chicken, bacon & potatoes                                        Netherlands: lamb, as well as the so-called ‘double Dutch’ – double meat,                            onion & cheese                                                                                                    Pakistan:    tikka chicken, achari chicken & curry                                                        Portugal:    local garlic sausage or chorizo                                                                      Russia:        a combination of several types of sea food with onions called                             ‘mocaba’                                                                                                                  Sweden:      chicken, peanut, curry powder as well as pineapple & banana

This wild shrimp pizza uses a light garlic-lemon sauce with a mozza-parmesan cheese combo. We love shrimp (or seafood), so what’s not to like!

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Wild Shrimp & Red Pepper Pizza
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, melt butter & add oil over medium heat. Add garlic & lemon zest, cook for 1 minute. Add broth (or wine) & lemon juice, simmer for 2 minutes. Add shrimp & red pepper. Saute ONLY until shrimp is pink. Remove from heat; place shrimp & red pepper in a dish & set aside. Add Parmesan cheese & Italian seasoning to broth remaining in pan; combine well. Cool slightly.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large pizza pan with parchment or sprinkle with cornmeal. Press out pizza dough evenly in pan & brush with slightly cooled 'sauce'. Top with shrimp, peppers, mozzarella cheese. Bake 8-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Roasted Turkey Breast Roulade Baked in Squash

Whether you celebrate Christmas culturally, religiously or not at all, it seems a good time to evaluate your priorities to make sure you are truly doing what matters to you most. Christmas comes and goes each year during which the ‘Christmas Spirit’ is alive and well. Wouldn’t it be nice if that same spirit was applied to our daily lives all year long.

Today, December 25th, we celebrate my sister Rita’s birthday as well as Christmas Day. Our family’s Christmas eve birthday ‘parties’ hold many fond memories for me. After attending Christmas eve church service, upon returning home, we would be joined by family friends to have birthday cake and some homemade root beer. It was very important to my parents that a special birthday acknowledgement was made to Rita apart from the Christmas festivities.

Christmas is a nostalgic time of year for many of us — recalling simple family traditions. When it comes to holiday decorations, the thing I remember most were the ‘multitudes’ of Christmas cards that our family received in the mail. My mother would fasten string between doorways and windows to hang them all on each time we would receive another one. There was a limited amount of other Christmas decorations. We used the same ones year after year and that was what made them so special. They all had their own special place where they belonged, and once they were out, it truly felt like Christmas.

Probably, the most cherished item was a Christmas Manger set. This cardboard tabletop Nativity was published by Concordia Publishing House in early 1940’s from illustrations first produced by artist George Hinke. A base was provided with special tabs to hold the 17 lithographed figures upright; each tab being carefully labeled making it easy to assemble.

George Hinke was born in 1883 in Berlin, Germany where he studied as a painter. He immigrated to the United States in 1923.

I remember this Nativity scene vividly as the cardboard figures were so beautiful and accurately painted. It was sold in a cardboard box that contained assembly instructions. One of the trips Brion and I made to Italy was just after Christmas one year in early January. Thanks to the European mindset, the outdoor Christmas decor had not been tucked away for the season. The detail in some of the Nativity scenes was incredible. They brought back memories of that little ‘Christmas Manger’ set from many years ago.

For our Christmas dinner this year we are having something a little different from the traditional roast turkey. Turkey roulade lets you have all the traditional flavors of Christmas without having to go through the whole turkey cooking episode. Not only is it mouthwatering and tender, it’s easy to make, cooks quicker, a breeze to carve and looks super elegant. Now, there’s the matter of the stuffing. Equally essential to the holiday table, it’s a far more expressive medium than the turkey itself. You could say, it is the personality with countless options. 

Today’s recipe is a turkey breast that has been flattened and stuffed with herbs, cranberries and hazelnuts. The roulade is wrapped with bacon to keep it moist and tucked into a half of a spaghetti squash. The drippings from the bacon and turkey flavor the squash perfectly as it bakes giving a tasty, earthy, vegetable side dish. Brion and I preferred some cranberry sauce and a traditional gravy with this meal but if you want to kick it up a notch you could serve a thin apple cider gravy instead.

                                         HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RITA!                                                                              ENJOY YOUR DAY AS WE CELEBRATE YOU WITH LOVE

        SEASON’S GREETINGS TO EVERYONE FOLLOWING MY BLOG

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Roasted Turkey Breast Roulade Baked in Squash
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Ingredients
Turkey, Stuffing & Squash
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Ingredients
Turkey, Stuffing & Squash
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Instructions
Stuffing
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 T. butter. Saute onion, garlic & sage leaves, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Add bread crumbs, toasted hazelnuts, cranberries, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper; cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat & cool completely.
Turkey Breasts
  1. Using a sharp knife, 'butterfly' turkey breasts. Cover with plastic wrap, flatten them slightly with a meat tenderizer. Divide stuffing between the two breasts & spread it out evenly. Roll breasts up, place cut side down onto work surface. Wrap each roulade with 6 slices of bacon, tucking the ends under the turkey rolls.
Squash
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice the spaghetti squash in half & scoop out the seeds. Place both haves on a large roasting pan & drizzle with olive oil. Roast 30 minutes. Remove squash from oven & place the bacon wrapped roulades into the cavity of the squash. Return turkey/squash roulade to oven, lower oven temperature to 350 F. & roast until the internal temperature of the turkey roulade is 155 F., ABOUT 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven & allow to stand about 10 minutes. Slice & place on serving platter.
Apple Cider Gravy
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine turkey stock, apple cider & sage leaves; bring to a boil. Gently boil, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until sauce is reduced & thickened slightly. Remove sage leaves & discard. Drop in butter cubes; whisk to incorporate, add pepper & remove from heat. Serve hot over turkey roulade.

Pita Pockets

From what archaeologists can determine, pita bread originated with peoples west of the Mediterranean. Pitas have been both a bread and a utensil throughout the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.It is a rather  simple bread that could be made with limited technology. Pitas are cooked quickly at a relatively high temperature. The flat dough expands dramatically to form an interior pocket from steam. 

Pitas’ popularity is partially attributed to using the pocket like a sandwich bread. Many traditional cultures use the pita more like a soft taco or the pita is pulled apart into pieces and dipped in a variety of sauces.

The possibilities of being able to pack, dip or wrap whatever you choose in the pita bread is limitless. Their taste can only be appreciated when eating your pita with different foods that will compliment them.

Although pitas are enjoyed all through the year, they seem like an easy summer meal to enjoy.

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Pita Pockets
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Instructions
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, cook beef, onion & green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, cumin & Italian seasoning; mix well. Simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes.
Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, bring all the sauce ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes. Spoon meat mixture into pita halves; top with sauce, tomatoes & lettuce.

Oven Baked Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

The key components needed when preparing a baked pasta meal lies in selecting a good durum wheat pasta, tossed through a rich, creamy sauce with the addition of proper seasonings and the right cheeses.

Baked spaghetti is more accommodating to busy schedules than stove top pastas. Part of the charm of a baked pasta dish is being able to assemble it completely and refrigerate until time to bake. The results will be good but not great. You are better off making the components ahead of time — saute the vegetables, cook (meat) sauce, combine the cheeses, boil the pasta and then combine everything just before baking.

Oven baked pasta has a long history with many variations. Ingredients will vary depending on regional traditions and approaches. A few things that always work for me are; choosing a good durum or egg pasta, cook it al dente, season each element of the dish, be generous with the sauce but go easy on the cheese and if you choose to use a crumb topping, make your own and keep it coarse.

Today’s BAKED SPAGHETTI with MEAT SAUCE  recipe is a very simple one I used many years ago in the restaurant industry. It was put out by the Campbell’s  soup company and worked well in the commercial setting. It can be changed up with beef, pork or chicken, all with good results.

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Oven Baked Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Very filling as well as satisfying.
Votes: 1
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
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Instructions
  1. In a large pot, cook spaghetti in salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain & set aside. In a medium skillet, brown meat with onion, green pepper, garlic & spices.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Add soups & water to skillet & stir. Combine pasta with 'meat sauce' mixture, mixing well.
  3. Spread mixture into a 9 x 9-inch baking dish; top with shredded cheddar & sprinkle Parmesan over all. Bake for 20-25 minutes & serve.