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.

gravity-movie-photo-550x309

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!

Fresh Mozz, Organic Jersey Tomato, & Basil Pizza

I did it.  I made my first homemade pizza.  And let me tell you, it’s life changing.

In order to avoid missing out any longer, I’ve done what I do best (made a list) of why homemade pizza will be my new “thing”:

1.  First and foremost- it tastes AMAZING

2.  It’s so EASY!

3.  It takes LESS TIME to cook than most other dinners I’ve ever made.

4.  DAVE loved it.

5.  You can make it with whatever you want!  CREATIVITY strongly encouraged.

So I have been reading so many of my favorite bloggers raving about their pizza recipes for a while now.  What finally pushed me over the edge was this picture…

mozzarella-heirloom-tomato-basil-pizza-ck-l

… right?!

I saw this and immediately had to try it out.  The original recipe called for Heirloom Tomatoes which I fully intended to use until I saw the display of bright red Organic Jersey tomatoes practically calling out my name.  I couldn’t resist.

Fresh Mozzarella, Organic Jersey Tomato, & Basil Pizza

Ingredients:

1 Pre-Made Pizza Crust**

1 cup fresh Basil leaves + 2 Tbsp for garnish

6 cloves of Garlic

3 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (divided!)

4oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese- thinly sliced

2 Organic Jersey Tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices

1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/2 teaspoon 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.  Place basil, garlic, and 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a mini food processor (I used our Magic Bullet for the first time in 3 years).  Pulse a few times to form a paste.  Add remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil and pulse until smooth.

4.  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.  Spread the basil mixture over the dough.  Top evenly with cheese, tomatoes, and black pepper.  

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

Recipe adapted from:  Cooking Light

**So I don’t feel like I’m cheating because the original recipe says you should use refrigerated dough.  Maybe one day I’ll make my own, but for now, I’ll recommend using Trader Joe’s dough.  I also have to admit that for this pizza I used dough from Lazaro’s- a famous pizza place in Philly down the street from us.  I just had to.  YUM**

I could sit here and rave about the pizza, but it might be more fun to just shut up and let you look at some really naughty pizza porn.  I think that’s what we’ll do.  ENJOY!

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Since this is only my first pizza- I don't even have a rolling pin!  Will have to add that to my list this year :)

Since this is only my first pizza- I don’t even have a rolling pin! Will have to add that to my list this year 🙂

Was able to use my mandolin for the second time ever!  Cut these gorgeous tom's perfectly!  (I also used it for the Mozz)

Was able to use my mandolin for the second time ever! Cut these gorgeous tom’s perfectly! (I also used it for the Mozz)

Fork'd dough!

Fork’d dough!

Delightful basil sauce... so bright!

Delightful basil sauce… so bright!

Ready to pop in the oven

Ready to pop in the oven

golden crust...

golden crust…

So much flavor!  Love the globs of fresh mozz...

So much flavor! Love the globs of fresh mozz…

MMMMMMMM!

MMMMMMMM!

And hey… look… it’s Meatless MONDAY!

Healthy Dinner Idea: Steak, Baked Potato, & TBM

It’s hard to eat healthy and keep yourself interested in what you’re eating.  I know it’s easy to get stuck making the same things over and over again because they’re safe.  You know how many calories, or points, or whatever you count… and it’s not hard to get stuck in a dinner rut.

I have been trying to avoid this dinner rut by making new and exciting meals but keeping to my diet.  I make a lot of chicken, salmon, eggs, and tons of salads.  This week, I wanted to expand my horizons and try out steak.  

Of course, I love steak, and I’ve eaten it a million times… but with my new diet, and my the advice of John the Dietitian, I have to stick with lean beef– not the usual Rib Eye.  😦

The cut of meat I decided to try out first was a Top Sirloin Steak.  It was super cheap at the market, and I could see just by looking at it that there wasn’t much fat in it.  I marinated the steak in a gallon ziplock back for about an hour.  The marinade consisted of a little bit of Sunflower Oil (Trader Joe’s), Worcestershire Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, & Minced Garlic.  Pretty simple.  I cooked the steak in my new cast iron skillet, for maybe five minutes on each side.  I took the steak off and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

The steak was a little bit more tough than my typical Rib-Eye, but it was still really good.  The pieces that were on the rarer-side were even more delicious, so I might try to not overcook it next time.  I also would love to try an Asian marinade too!

Yummy steak!

Along with the steak, we baked some potatoes.  I was inspired by Robert Irvine’s Hasselback’s Roasted Potatoes that were featured on “Best Thing I Ever Made” which looked absolutely bomb.  (amazing) lol.  

Robert Irvine’s Hasselback Potatoes…. WOW! Wish mine came out that way… lol.

Since his potatoes are drenched in butter, basted with butter, then cooked with 3 Cheeses… I decided to just take his method from the Hasselbacks.  I sliced the potatoes 3/4 of the way down into several thin slices.  This opened up the potato which allows it to fully bake on the inside but get nice and crispy on the outside.  

First, I soaked the 3/4 of the way cut poatoes in a big bowl with lemon juice (plop the lemon in there too!).  This was also inspired by Robert Irvine and prevents the potatoes from turning color!  I also think it kept it nice and fluffy too.  When I was ready to bake them, I took them out, patted them dry, and sprayed them with just a touch of Olive Oil & Salt & Pepper.  Four of these were baked in the oven on 400 degrees ontop of a foil-lined baking sheet.   They turned out great.

Make sure you don’t slice them all the way through! They will open up just a crack when they bake.

Finally, in the grand story of this exciting new meal, I’ll tell you about the TBM. I actually happened to make these first!  I started this meal off with a nice, fresh , little salad topped with Tomato, Basil, & Mozzarella.  

The tomatoes I used for this experiment were “Kumato“s.  From my recent Wegmans shopping trip, they’re just smaller tomatoes… they’re a little bit sweeter than Grape Tomatoes and have a reddish-brown color.  I love them.  

They might be “ugly” tomatoes, but they’re so sweet

I stacked slices of the Kumatos with a small square of fresh Part-Skim Mozzarella, and small Basil leaves.  They were finished off with a splash of Balsamic Vinegar & just a pinch of Sea Salt & Pepper.  For showing-off-to-you-people purposes, I held it all together with a basil-topped toothpick.  MMM!

How pretty! Super easy too…

Finished product

Do you have a meal that you’ve recently tried for the first time?  – OR – Do you normally keep to the same rotation of dinners?  

How cute is Miss Stella?! She’s snuggling with her crab stuffed animal. Had to throw this one in there!

Italian Meatball Burgers & Roasted Brussels Sprouts

It’s about that time of year… fire up the grill!  Grilling is my favorite , and I couldn’t wait any longer to start it up for the summer.

I’ve been dying to try these burgers since I saw them on this Cooking Light recipe.  It was a great first meal on the Barbie for the season, but I’m sorry to say it certainly wasn’t my favorite burger ever.  They turned out to be really flavorful (just like a meatball!) but a little on the dense-side.

I tried to not over-mix the meat and also tried Bobby Flay’s suggestion to press your thumb in the center of the burger which collects the juices while it cooks and keeps it moist.  They were pretty tasty anyway, and a recipe I’d definintely recommend you giving a shot!

Italian Meatball Burgers

Recipe Adapted from:  Italian Meatball Burgers, Cooking Light
Ingredients:  
8oz Sweet Turkey Italian Sausage
1lb Ground Beef
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning Mix
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/8 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
Cooking Spray
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, thinly sliced
4 Italian Rolls, sliced
3/4 cup Tomato Sauce
Directions:
1.  Remove the sausage from the casing.  Combine in a bowl with the ground beef and all seasonings.  Do not overmix… but mix with your hands… go on… get ’em nice and messy!  Form into 4 burgers (or 6) and flatten.  Push the center in with your thumb to make an imprint.  Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes, or longer.
2.  Spray the grill with canola spray or oil.  Turn on the grill and heat it up!  Turn it on to medium-high heat.
3.  Place burgers on the grill, with the thumb-hole side up.  Cook for 5-ish minutes, then flip ONCE.  Cook for another 3 minutes or so.  Put the cheese on the burgers and close the lid.  Cook for another 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.  Also, for those two minutes, place the split rolls (spray them with the spray or oil) bread-side down on the grill for two minutes.
4.  Remove the rolls and burgers.  Serve with 2 Tablespoons of tomato sauce ontop of the burger.

Results… Like I mentioned, I think I either a. overworked or b. overcooked our burgers.  I wouldn’t be surprised at either… it’s hard to do it perfectly, especially with a new recipe.  Also, I would have liked to use a thicker tomato sauce.  Ours didn’t add much to the burger but if it were thicker or had more flavor it would have worked well.

You can see the thumb-holes! Bobby Flay's suggestion to keep the burgers moist!

Fresh Mozz is key!

Does anyone have any burger-grilling techniques that work really well?  

BONUS!!  We served these bad boys with roasted brussels sprouts.  They were fabulous!  Here’s how:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

1 Bag Fresh Brussels Sprouts

1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Cut ends and any wilted leaves off of the brussels sprouts and toss them in a bowl with the oil.

2.  Place brussels sprouts on a foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, according to your personal tastes.

3.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or so, turning halfway through.  Test one out (let it cool for a minute) and you will know when it’s done when your fork goes through easily and it tastes REALLY yummy!  Cook for 5-10 minutes longer testing until they are cooked.