Fresh Mozzarella & Fig Pizza

It’s all about new obsessions.  Fall is here and the world (including myself) is obsessed with pumpkin.  Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin martinis, pumpkin soup, scones, bagels, raviolis, etc etc etc.  Like I said… I’m all about the pumpkin too… but let’s get a little more creative than that…

Personally, I have a few new obsessions brought on by the fall season already.  The first absolutely has to be this watch:

img-thing

… I’m in love.

I’m also preemptively calling the new movie Gravity a new obsession.  I just have a good feeling about this one.

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I’d say my most important new obsession however would have to be my discovery of homemade pizza.  My mind was absolutely blown away by making my first very own homemade pizza.  (In case you missed it)  I look at pictures of it and am craving it every day since.  Oh my godddddddddddddddddddd…………….. yum!

MMMMMMMM!

MMMMMMMM!

Today I decided to combine my new infatuation for homemade pizza with an old obsession of my dear friend Ricki- FIGS.  Ricki and I have been friends since we were 6.  We have grown up together and have been friends for 21 years!  Pretty cool, right?  I can’t eat figs or dates without thinking of her, and because of her obsession with figs- I dedicate this recipe to her!  She absolutely loves them… and so do I now too!

This recipe uses fresh mozzarella, pre-made pizza dough, some sliced fresh figs, olive oil, basil, grated parm, and lots and lots of garlic.  What could be better?  I decided to use just the basic garlic/olive oil sauce on the base of this pizza to bring out the delicate flavors from the figs and mozzarella.  Top with some fresh basil, another drizzle of olive oil and call it a night!

Fresh Mozzarella & Fig Pizza

Ingredients:

1 Prepared Pizza Dough, raw – I like Trader Joe’s!

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1-2 Tablespoons Crushed Garlic- I use Gourmet Garden Herb Tubes!

1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper, Sea Salt, and Black Pepper

4oz Fresh Mozzarella, thinly sliced

8 Fresh Figs, thinly sliced

2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil, sliced

1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Directions:

1.  Let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2.  Place a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet in the oven.  Preheat to 500, keeping the stone or baking sheet in the oven.

3.  Roll dough as large as possible (14 inches or so), on a floured surface.  Piece entire surface with a fork.  Carefully remove the stone or baking sheet from the oven and arrange the dough on the surface.  

4.  Spread the Olive Oil and Crushed Garlic over the pizza crust.  Sprinkle crushed red pepper, sea salt, and black pepper over the oil.  Now, distribute the fresh mozzarella and fresh figs all over the pizza.  

5.  Bake at 500 for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is browned and crisp.  Top with the 2 Tablespoons of sliced fresh basil and sea salt.  (Crushed red pepper an an extra little drizzle of EVOO optional!)

Now get ready for some serious food porn!  It tasted as amazing as it looked.  Next time, I’d love to add some prosciutto, dressed arugula, and a balsamic drizzle!  🙂

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What are your fall obsessions?  Please share!

Emily’s Chicken Marinade

Something crazy happened this past weekend.  Dave and I went food shopping together.  OMG!

As you’d probably imagine, food shopping is one of my happy things to do… I love it!  Dave on the other hand loves to eat the food but hates to walk around a market with ME.  Walking up and down every aisle would probably make him have a nervous breakdown.

I have been telling him since we moved that I’ve gotten a lot better and he should come with me.  I tell him I make lists now, that I am faster, and don’t even go in the middle sometimes!!  It’s a constant back and forth that usually ends with me up and down every aisle on my own.

After spending our Sunday afternoon at the movies (we saw Olympus Has Fallen… SO MUCH FUN AND SOOOOO GOOD), it just made sense to both go.  Without Dave knowing and obviously to prove my newly found shopping skills, I set a timer.

Who doesn't love two hours of THIS with 1783972497 person body count?!?!

Who doesn’t love two hours of THIS with 1783972497 person body count?!?!

We completed our entire shop in just under 50 minutes… and I’m talking picking up to dropping off shopping cart.  Pretty impressive, right?!  I felt like I was on a gameshow.  Oye.

BAM!  Great shop.

BAM! Great shop.

Anyway, the recipe I am sharing with you today is such a great one!  It is a creation of my friend Emily or EMKA as I have called her for the past ten years.    I came to Emily for some post-work night dinner inspirations, the other day and this is the first I’ve tried.

It’s like, ridiculously easy… and amazing.

Emily’s Chicken Marinade

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Light Olive Oil

1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar

Some Chopped Garlic (for you, I’ll say I used 5 cloves, smashed and sliced)

1.5 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard (I used Mild & Creamy Grey Poupon)

Fresh Rosemary (about 2-3 sprigs)

Black Pepper and Sea Salt

Directions:

Mix ingredients.  Pour over chicken and seal in either a Ziploc bag or Tupperware container.  Let marinate overnight or while you are at work.  Bake in the oven at 350.  YUM**.

(**EMKA’s finishing note on the recipe is so true)

Finished product, yum!  Served with Roasted Asparagus and Locatelli and Crushed Pepper Orzo.  Delish.

Finished product, yum! Served with Roasted Asparagus and Locatelli and Crushed Pepper Orzo. Delish.

I sliced up a package of the really thick kind of chicken, slicing the breasts in half to make them thinner, then in half to make them smaller.  The recipe made enough for the entire package.

The chicken baked for probably about 10 minutes extra (UGH!  So frustrating!  Whoops!  Probably only needed 15 minutes), which would make for a completely dried out chicken normally… but the marinade made the meat so tender and juicy that it was still just perfect.  I couldn’t believe it!

Emily suggests making a little extra sauce to keep aside and to use for dipping.

So easy... just a few ingredients.

So easy… just a few ingredients.

This is what the chicken looked like after I shook it up and let it sit overnight and while I was at work.  I couldn't believe how creamy it got.... yummm

This is what the chicken looked like after I shook it up and let it sit overnight and while I was at work. I couldn’t believe how creamy it got…. yummm

OH, and check out this amazing purchase from the Italian Market… a bag of spinach bigger than Dave’s head for $7… omg!

SPINACH!!!!!!!!!  (and fresh garlic)

SPINACH!!!!!!!!! (and fresh garlic)

Leftovers

Healthier

Trader Joe’s Carne Asada

Trader Joe’s makes an amazing pre-marinated steak that I love to pick up every once in a while. It’s a great change of pace from my typical asian-flavored marinades I normally use.  This Carne Asada packs a PUNCH of Mexican flavor.  It is a bit spicy but super flavorful.  The steak is also sliced so thin that all you have to do is put it over some high heat (pan or grill) and it’ll be done in just a few minutes.

I cooked this batch up with some Parmesan Garlic French Fries and Sauteed Spinach.

For the Parmesan Garlic French Fries, I took a good ol’ bag of frozen fries my Dad keeps in the house and fried them in a pan with some Sunflower Seed Oil.  I added Minced Garlic, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, and some Smoked Paprika.  Once the fries were all crisped up, I removed them from the pan onto a wad of paper towels and shook off some of the oil.  Next, they went into a brown paper bag with a few shakes of Reduced Fat Parmesan Cheese.  I added a few shakes of Sea Salt too.  YUM.  What a great combination with the garlic and parmesan… seriously yum.

The spinach was frozen also, I just took a big hunk of it and threw it into a saucepan with maybe 1/4-1/2 Cup of water.  I let it cook over medium-high heat until all of the spinach “melted” and was stirable.  It is a pain in the ass (using frozen spinach) but you have to drain the water.  I take a colander and cover it with a few layers of paper towels, then use some paper towels for my hands and squeeze it all out.  Careful though, it can be really hot!  When serving, add a squeeze of lemon juice, a few sprays of butter spray, some salt and pepper and another shake of that Reduced Fat Parm Cheese.  That’s all you’ll need!

Deelish! Super fancy on our paper plates 🙂

Thank you, Instagram!

Sesame Beef Stir-Fry

Dinner on my diet night #3… and what do I decide to make?  You guessed it… Asian!  Before you judge, let me explain.

If you were to order a comparable dish at a Chinese Takeout restaurant, you’re looking at a meal that takes up over half your daily calorie allotment!  Chinese Beef & Broccoli can have over 1,000 calories and up to 65 grams of fat.  For a dish that has a vegetable in its title, that’s pretty disgusting!

This is exactly why I wanted to give up Chinese food for my Challenge.  Dave and I could live off of it, we just love it… and for a while were eating it once a week.  The funny thing about Chinese Food and my past dieting, is that every time I would eat it, my diet would go astray for a few days.  The reason for this is because it is VERY difficult to find nutritional information for Chinese Food.  All of the places we order our takeout are local, neighborhood, Mom & Pop shops.  None of them have websites let alone nutritional information… and I bet you can agree about the restaurants you go to!  So, in the past, I would go a few days keeping track of my food, eat Chinese, and then give up since that day couldn’t be tracked.

I did find a few websites recently that you can use to help you track Chinese Food.  Here is one of them!  And another!

Although I’ve given up Chinese Food for the obvious nutritional value, it’s more important to me that I’m keeping track of my food diary.  If I make my own asian inspired meals, I know exactly what’s going into it and I can still continue to track.

With all of that being said, you HAVE to try out this Beef Stir-Fry!  This is another recipe I tried out from Cooking Light (Nov 2011) – where a lot of my recipes come from.  This recipe in particular claims to be a “20-Minute Dinner”… so I put it to the test!

Sesame Beef Stir-Fry Recipe:

1 tablespoon bottled minced ginger

1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic 

2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1 pound presliced stir-fry meat (such as flank or boneless sirloin steak)

8 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces (white and light green parts only)

4 cups bagged baby spinach leaves 

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

½ teaspoon hot chili garlic sauce (optional… I added this!)

This recipe is pretty simple.  Mix the first five ingredients (ginger, garlic, soy, sugar, red pepper) into a bowl.  Heat the sesame oil in a wok or sauté pan.  Once the oil is heated, stir in the sliced beef and cook for 3 minutes or until browned.  Mine took about 5 minutes.  Add the green onions and sauté for one minute.  Pour on the sauce waiting for you in the bowl and stir for 30 seconds.  Pile on a bag of spinach.  Let it sit for a minute until it starts to shrink, then stir until it shrinks completely.  Add the sesame seeds, stir, and serve!

Ginger, Garlic, Asian, Deliciousness!!

I love piling the spinach on...

When I was done cooking the stir-fry, I checked the clock and it turns out that it took me about 23 minutes.  Not too bad!  This is only the second time I’ve ever cooked with fresh ginger.  I’m happy with the way it turned out, it tasted fresher and less salty than the normal store-bought sauces we stir-fry with.

Sesame Beef Stir-Fry

Unlike its takeout twin Beef & Broccoli, this recipe only has 230 calories and 11 gramsof fat per serving.  The recipe should make 4 servings, but I only got 2 out of it… I guess I was pretty hungry!  I ended up buying a bigger than normal bag of spinach leaves (not baby spinach) and used the entire thing.  I also didn’t check the weight of the beef I purchased, so there’s a chance it was less than a pound.  However, 460 calories is pretty good for a delicious Asian dinner that was made in 23 minutes!