Tag Archives: cauliflower

Garden Pizza, Gluten Free Crust, and Pizza Day Giveaway

finished sauce with tomato2 copy

In my newest book, Pizza Day, which will be released by my publisher Tuesday, there is a pizza recipe at the end of the story called Garden Pizza.

To win a signed and personalized copy of Pizza Day and its the companion, Soup Day, please go here!

Pizza Day and Soup Day Melissa Iwai 2017-72

Garden Pizza is what a little boy and his dad spend the day making using some of the ingredients that they have grown in their garden.

pizzaday_int_garden-Melissa-Iwai

These are some of the vegetables that they gather:

Pizza-Day_int-10-11-Melissa-Iwai

Sadly, we don’t have a stellar garden like theirs, so I made this pizza the other night for my guys using ingredients I bought instead.

Sauce igredients4 copy

Some of my sauce ingredients: diced carrots and onion, dried oregano and basil, garlic, tomato, and olive oil (I forgot to include the tomato paste here!). I use the fresh basil as a garnish to top the pizza when it’s done.

First I made the dough and let it rest and rise while I cooked the sauce.

dough pre rise 2 copy

My sauce gets its sweetness from the carrots. No sugar needed! Plus the carrots add nutrients and fiber.

pizza sauce

After the sauce cooked down and the flavors melded together, I pureed it in a blender, just like the boy in my book!

Pizza-Day_int-20-21-Melissa-Iwai-2017

Then when the dough was finished, I kneaded it, let it rest a bit, and rolled it out.

rolled out dough copy

It was time to top! Denis and Jamie just wanted sauce and cheese.

cheese pizza PIzza Day by Melissa Iwai 2017

I made mine veggie and turkey and used a cauliflower crust I had made (see recipe below), because I was doing reintroductions after the Whole 30 and hadn’t gotten to gluten yet!

PIzza Day by Melissa Iwai 2017

Riced cauliflower with egg and almond meal prebaked

PIzza Day by Melissa Iwai 2017

Baked crust (you must bake it before topping)

veggie pizza PIzza Day by Melissa Iwai 2017

Topped with pepper, tomato, onion, sauteed kale, and turkey

Then into the oven our pizzas went.

The final product:

finished pizza 3 copy

Crispy on the outside, chewy crust

 

vegie pizza closeup PIzza Day by Melissa Iwai 2017

My mini pizza with veggies, turkey, mozzarella, and fresh basil

Pizza Day by Melissa Iwai 2017
Cheesy!

Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Pizza Day and the board book version of Soup Day here!

Pizza-Day_int-30-31-Melissa-Iwai-2017

 

Garden Pizza from Pizza Day by Melissa Iwai

Pizza Dough:

Ingredients:

Non-stick spray or oil for greasing

1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

3 cups flour, divided, plus more if needed

non-stick spray

 

Pizza Sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

¼ chopped carrot

1 ½ tablespoons chopped garlic, about 2 cloves

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

2 ½ cups chopped vine-ripened tomatoes, about 3 large

¼ cup tomato paste

  1. Spray a large bowl with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together yeast, water, olive oil, and salt in another large bowl until combined. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add 2 cups of the flour to mixture and mix together until well blended.
  4. Add a little bit of the leftover flour gradually (you may use half or all) until dough forms a ball.
  5. Sprinkle flour onto a large board or counter top, and dump out dough. Knead for 5 minutes, adding a bit of the remaining flour each time it starts to feel sticky. You want to end up with a smooth, elastic mound of dough.
  6. Shape dough into a large ball. Place in greased bowl and turn over to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 1 hour.
  7. Heat olive oil in skillet and saute onions, carrots, garlic, salt, and herbs until onion is translucent.
  8. Add tomatoes and paste. Simmer until softened on very low heat, covered, about 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  9. Pulse in blender or food processor to desired chunkiness.

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F for 10 minutes.

  1. Divide pizza dough in half, and roll each into a ball. Let rest 10-15 minutes.
  2. Lightly dust two baking sheets and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out each ball of dough into a round on each baking sheet.
  3. Spoon pizza sauce on top and spread onto each. Top with fresh veggies, pepperoni, cooked sausage, shredded cheese, grated parmesan cheese, goat cheese, whatever you like!
  4. Bake for 10-13 minutes, depending how crunchy you like your crust.

Makes 2 medium pizzas.

Gluten Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Nonstick olive oil spray

1 1/2 cups of riced cauliflower (I buy mine bagged from Trader Joe’s. You can also make your own by ricing or grating raw cauliflower), steamed for about two minutes

1 egg white or 1/2 whole egg

1 tablespoon almond meal

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prepare  two square pieces of parchment, about 6″ x 6″. Place one square on baking sheet and spray with non stick spray; set aside.
  3. Mix rest of ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Spoon mixture on top of prepared parchment sheet on baking tray. Flatten into a circle with a spoon.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven. Place other square of parchment on top of crust and flip. Then peel cooked piece of paper off.
  7. Your crust is now ready to be topped with toppings of your choice. After topping, bake in oven for another 5 minutes.

Makes one mini pizza crust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Art Related, Books, Children, Dinner, Gluten Free, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Low Carb Cauliflower Crust Bacon Zucchini Quiche

quiche side 1

I procrastinated today and instead of doing my work, I did some experimenting and cooking in the kitchen!  We had a frozen pie crust I needed to use (it kept threatening to fall out of the freezer in an annoying way), so I decided to make a quiche.  I try to keep my processed foods on the low side (with the occasional lapse of salty snacks that sometimes make their way in our house…).  So I made one quiche with the Pilsbury pie crust and one quiche for myself with cauliflower crust (my husband and son hate cauliflower, so that’s why there was no sharing).

I based the filling on this Cooking Light recipe.  I doubled it because I was making two quiches.  The recipe below is for one quiche.  I used onion instead of shallot since that’s what we had. I lessened the oil to 1/2 tablespoon, used only half of the zucchini, and added parmesan cheese.  The results were yummy!  This quiche is also gluten free. 🙂

quiche top

Low Carb Cauliflower Crust Bacon Zucchini Quiche

For crust:

Non-stick spray

1/2 head cauliflower, about 18 oz., chopped

6 tablespoons liquid egg whites (or 2 whites)

salt and pepper

1/4 cup almond meal

For filling:

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 small zucchini, sliced (about 2 cups)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs

9 tablespoons liquid egg whites (or 3 whites)

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1 1/2 oz. shredded part skim mozzarella (about 1/4 cup)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray pie pan with non-stick spray.  Set aside

2.  Finely process cauliflower in food processor.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with saran, and steam in microwave for 4 minutes.

3.  Mix cooked cauliflower, 6 tablespoons egg whites, salt and pepper, and almond meal together in the bowl.  Pour into the pie pan and shape crust with a spoon, pushing sides up the edges.

4.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn heat down to 350 degrees.

5.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet, add onion, zucchini, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes until softened.  Let cool a bit.

6.  Beat eggs, egg whites, milk, parmesan cheese, and bacon together in a bowl.  Set aside.

7.  Spoon cooked onion and zucchini mixture into cauliflower crust and spread evenly.  Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.

Then pour egg/bacon mixture on top.

8.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until center is set.

Serves 8.

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Filed under Dinner, Eggs, Gluten Free

Cauliflower Fried “Rice” with Bacon and Shrimp

Cauliflower fried rice with bacon and shrimp

Cauliflower fried rice with bacon and shrimp


Just yesterday I was listening to a podcast on super foods, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that cauliflower is one of them.  I love it and eat it all the time.  So I was happy to hear that there are so many benefits to incorporating this lovely vegetable into one’s diet.

The other night, I made a huge batch of Cauliflower Fried Rice for myself (Denis and Jamie don’t eat cauliflower… 😦   They don’t know what they are missing!).

I had thought I had already done a fried rice post here, but it turns out I haven’t!  Fried rice is a favorite in our household.  I don’t make it the traditional way — I always add bacon.  We love the smoky flavor it imparts.  And you don’t have to use as much oil — everything gets mostly cooked in the bacon fat.  I add a bit of water later on and steam/braise the fried rice until everything comes together.  Then I season it all with sesame oil (a must!) and soy sauce.  When the kitchen begins to smell like smoky bacon and nutty sesame oil, people will come wandering in, mouths watering.

Since I didn’t feel like eating a ton of rice, and because there wasn’t enough anyway, I made mine with cauliflower rice recently.  It was really delicious and much lighter, but filled with as much flavor.  This is a perfect alternative for people who are reducing their starch intake.  Half a head of cauliflower makes a lot of “rice”!  You can eat tons of it with abandon, knowing you are getting a ton of nutrients, fiber, and protein.

cauliflower fried rice 3

Cauliflower Fried Rice

1/2 head of cauliflower

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 slices of bacon

2 sprigs of green onion, sliced finely

2 cups of veggies (I used zucchini, steamed broccoli, and frozen corn and peas)

1 cup of shrimp (deveined and cleaned), or cooked chicken, ham, cubed tofu, or other protein of choice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1.  Process cauliflower in a food processor until it has the consistency of rice.  Set aside.

2.  Cook egg in a small skillet on stove.  Remove to cutting board and chop coarsely. Set aside.

3.  Cut bacon into small pieces using kitchen shears.  Heat a large cast iron skillet or non-stick pan.  Add bacon.

4.  When a bit of fat has rendered from the bacon, add the chopped onion.  Saute until almost translucent.  Add other vegetables and meat if you are using it.  When softened, add cauliflower.  Drizzle with sesame oil. If pan seems dry, add a bit of water and cover pan with a lid.  Turn down low and braise until vegetables are cooked to your liking.

5.  Add soy sauce, chopped egg, and scallions.  Stir to incorporate.  Serve immediately.

Makes 2-4 servings.

 

Note:  You can also use about 2-3 cups of leftover cooked rice in place of the cauliflower (or a combination!) to make regular fried rice.

My regular fried rice with bacon

My regular fried rice with bacon

 

 

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Red Quinoa and Cauliflower “Rice”

High protein low carb and full of nutrients!

High protein low carb and full of nutrients!

Have you ever tried Red Quinoa?  They have it at Trader Joe’s, but I also buy it in bulk at our local store.  Health food stores probably would carry it as well.  It is nuttier and chewier than regular quinoa.  It takes longer to cook, but it is minimal active time on your part.  You just simmer it in a lot of liquid (I used broth to make it more flavorful) for about 45-50 minutes.  Then you mix it with steamed “riced” cauliflower (process raw in food processor and then steam in microwave for 4 minutes).

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

I like to eat this as a side with veggies and meat.  It is really good with curry.  And it also good mixed with some real rice!  Either way, you are getting a nice dose of protein and wonderful nutrients and fiber.

 

This weekend is jam packed with various events.  On Saturday (tomorrow, May 17, 2014), we will be in Hillsborough, NJ at the Hillsborough Library Children’s Book  Festival.  If you are in the area, come by!  The event is from 10-3 at the Hillsborough Library (379 South Branch Road, Hillsborough, NJ 08844).  There will be a number of authors and illustrators there signing books and giving presentations.  Hopefully it will be nicer weather tomorrow, but regardless, it is indoors, so you don’t have to worry about standing out in the rain!

I’ll be signing Truck Stop, Soup Day, and we will both be signing Hush Little Monster, of course!

turck stop_cover

The recipe is at the end of the story.

=

hush_book

On Sunday through Tuesday, I will be at Surtex, one of the major licensing conventions in North America.  I’ll be helping Victoria Johnson with her booth (#447!) and checking out all the amazing art at the rest of the show.  It’s a great way to learn about the industry which is somewhat unfamiliar to me.  Check out this amazing post at Print and Pattern where Victoria and other amazing artists are featured.

 

Red Quinoa and Cauliflower “Rice”

1/4 cup red quinoa

1 1/4 cup or so of liquid (water, vegetable broth, chicken broth or beef broth)

1/2 half head of cauliflower

1.  Simmer quinoa in liquid in a saucepan until quinoa is soft and chewy and most of liquid has been absorbed.  Keep an eye on it and stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure there is still liquid in the pan.

2.  Meanwhile, process 1/2 head of cauliflower in food processor until finely chopped.  Transfer to a large bowl, cover with saran, and cook in microwave for 4 minutes.  Let sit while quinoa cooks.

3.  Mix quinoa and cauliflower together.  Season to taste.

 

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Filed under Gluten Free, Grains, Sides, Vegetables

Slow Cooker Tomato Beef Sauce and Quickie Baked Pasta

beef pasta 1


I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m still crazy busy and haven’t had time to cook or bake anything very exciting!  Unfortunately since I’ve been working on client work, rather than personal pieces, I can’t show anything (until it’s published).  Here’s a peek at a sketch I did that will appear as part of a story in Highlight’s magazine for babies, Hello!  I also did the cover for that issue.

I had a lot of fun painting this little on and her mom!

I had a lot of fun painting this little one and her mom!

I’m also working on another Hidden Picture for a Let’s Play Hidden Pictures book, and working another Anne Rockwell story as well as several other projects.

 

The slow cooker has been my friend still, and last week, I threw together a baked pasta with an active prep time of about 15 minutes.  Here’s what I did:  In the late morning I threw a bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker (no pre-sauteing or anything! I also didn’t measure –the recipe is an estimate) and cooked it on low for about six hours.   Then 30 minutes before dinner, I preheated the oven to 350, boiled some water and cooked some rotini pasta. Next I assembled the pasta dish with the sauce and parmesan, and topped it with some shredded mozzarella  and baked it until it melted — about 10 minutes.  That’s it– dinner done.  I didn’t even add oil at the start, as I figured the meat and liquids would be sufficient, and they were.  The meat was moist and juicy, and the sauce was delicious.  It was a bit hit with my son, who had seconds. 🙂

I’ve also been (quickly) experimenting with cauliflower flat bread (see my previous version here) and chia pudding in my attempt to eat more whole foods even in the midst of stress and work.

cauliflower pizza with caramelized onions

 

I’ll post more on that later!  In the meantime, enjoy this easy, fast, and delicious beef pasta dish!

beef pasta 2

 

Easy Beef Pasta in Slow Cooker

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small can of tomato paste

1 small can of diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

kosher salt

pepper

1/3 cup red wine

1/2 lb. dried pasta of choice

1/2 lb. shredded mozarella (I used smoky)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Put beef through red wine into slow cooker.  Cook on low for about six hours, stirring every two hours or so.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain.
3.  Return cooked pasta to pot and pour in beef sauce and grated parmesan.  Mix thoroughly.

4.  Pour pasta mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Bake in oven until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

 

 

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Filed under Art Related, Beef, Slow Cooker

Cauliflower Tortilla Bean Quesadilla

quesadilla 1

Awhile back I did a post on Low Carb “Veggie Crusts and Shells”.  I’ve been tinkering with that recipe recently.  I made some cauliflower “tortillas” which I then chilled for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.  The chilling really kept them together, and I was able to fry them up like a regular tortillas and make some quesadillas with them.  Delicious!

Here is the original recipe for the tortilla.  Instead of flour, I used some Panko crumbs for more crunch, and I added chopped onion and  a sprinkle of cumin and chili powder before mixing.

Raw

Raw – I cut it in half before cooking

Cooked-I then chilled this for a few hours

Cooked-I then chilled this for a few hours

Filled with refried beans and cheese

Filled with refried beans and cheese


Bean Quesadilla with Cauliflower Tortilla

One cauliflower tortilla, chilled for a few hours, cut in half

Non stick spray

about 3 tablespoons refried beans

shredded cheese to taste

1.  Spray a skillet with non stick spray to coat

2. Lay one half of of the tortilla in the skillet.  Top with beans and cheese.  Cover with the other half.

3.  Turn heat to low and cover the skillet with a lid.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Flip the quesadilla over, cover the skillet, and cook on other side for about another minute.  Serve and eat immediately!  I love mine with salsa and plain yogurt (I can’t eat sour cream).

Yum!

Yum!

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Filed under Vegetables, Vegetarian

Low Carb Mashed “Potatoes”

We’ve been traveling a lot recently (hence the sporadic posting here!) visiting family in Illinois and Long Island.  In Illinois we celebrated my nephew and sister-in-law’s graduations.  So proud of them!  My sister-in-law decided to go back to school to finish her college degree when my niece was two (she will be 21 this year).  She really stuck with it and kept working towards her goal,  while raising three children, and working full-time as a teacher’s aide for several years.  Sometimes she could only take one class a semester.  For several years, she had to take a break from it.  But in the end, she did it! And she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education this summer.

So proud of this woman!!

So proud of this woman!!

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Before all of our travels and family events, I had meant to post a couple of simple veggie recipes that I make daily.  The cauliflower ones are low carb and make a good substitute for starchier vegetables like potatoes.  I tried once to sneak in some cauliflower into my husband’s plate but he wasn’t having it.  He barely tolerates me cooking it, complaining about the smell.  I usually light a scented candle and continue with my cooking.  

I made a hearty meal of meatloaf, green beans, and mashed potatoes, but for myself, I made mashed cauliflower.  You basically make it the same way as mashed potatoes.  Just added heated milk/cream, butter and seasonings.

cauliflower

I love the versatility of cauliflower.  I have also used it in place of rice sometimes, but processing it in a food processor and microwaving for about 4 minutes.  

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

You process it until it has the consistency of rice.

 

Another great way to prepare it is roasting at a high temperature — around 400F for 20 minutes, flipping and roasting for another 10 minutes.   I can seriously it a whole half of a head this way in one sitting.

roasted 2

For my guys, though, I made mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and parmesan cheese.  It also was quite yummy.

Silky smooth

Silky smooth

With gravy...

With gravy…

They like it with absolutely no lumps or grainy texture, so I whip the whole batch up with an immersion blender.  It makes it silky smooth!  When Jamie was a baby, I used to make all of his food like this (sans seasonings).  I’d just steam or boil the vegetable and then puree with a blender with some liquid, like milk, water, or broth.  It’s a really easy way to make a lot of baby food.  I used to freeze extra too in ice cube trays.  I’d transfer the cubes to freezer bags, and I’d always have a portion on hand to serve.  Apparently, though, there are some foods, I learned later that you should not make for babies.  Check it out here.

Which do you prefer?  Potatoes or cauliflower?  Do you prefer your potatoes smashed with texture or completely smooth?

Mashed Cauliflower

1/2 head to 1 whole cauliflower, washed and broken into florets

butter to taste

about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup warm milk or cream to taste

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Steam or boil a half or whole head of cauliflower

2.  Process in a food processor.  While processor is on, add some butter, warmed milk or cream to the desired consistency.

3.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cauliflower “Rice”

1/2 to 1 whole head of cauliflower, washed and broken into florets

1.  Process raw cauliflower in food processor until it has the texture of small grain rice or couscous

2.  Transfer to a large bowl, cover with saran and microwave for about 4 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and serve.

Cauliflower couscous with butter, roasted sliced almonds, and dried cranberries

Cauliflower couscous:  I added butter, roasted sliced almonds, and dried cranberries to the cauliflower “rice”

Roasted Cauliflower

1/2 to 1 whole head of cauliflower washed, and cut into quarters, then eighths

olive oil

kosher salt

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Slice pieces of cauliflower into 1/4 -inch slices.  Toss in large bowl with olive oil.

3.  Spread on one or two baking sheets in one layer.  Sprinkle with salt.

4.  Roast undisturbed for 20 minutes.  Flip and roast for 10 more minutes.

roasted cauliflower

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Parmesan

1 head of garlic

Olive oil

2 lbs. Yukon potatoes, diced

1/2 cup to 1 cup warm milk or cream

kosher salt to taste

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2.  Cut off top of garlic.  Drizzle with oil, wrap head of garlic in foil.  Roast for about 30 minutes.  Unwrap and squeeze cloves out.  Set aside.

3.  Place potatoes in water to cover and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender.  While potatoes are simmering, warm milk or cream (but do not let boil).

4.  Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.  Season with warm milk, roasted garlic, parmesan cheese and salt, a bit at a time, tasting  along the way.  Stir with a spoon to incorporate.  When you are satisfied with the flavor, whip smooth with an immersion blender or mixer (if you want it perfectly smooth — some people prefer there’s mashed with more texture and feel the smooth way is too “gummy”,  so it’s up to you)!

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Filed under Sides, Vegetables

Low Carb “Veggie Crusts and Shells”


I love breads, cereals, rice, grains of any kind– I am not a carb hater.  But I find my body is happiest when eating those things in moderation.   When a friend of mine announced she was going “breadless” for awhile, I started thinking of all the yummy things she could eat in place of bread.

I’ve used shredded zucchini in the past as a base of a pizza crust during Passover.


Another versatile vegetable is cauliflower.  Pureed with a bit of cooking water, butter, cream, and salt, it makes a great substitute for mashed potatoes.  Processed in a food processor until crumbly and then steamed for four minutes, it is also a great substitute for rice (though for me, I would not use it in place of Japanese rice).

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

I’ve eaten it as a sort of pilaf/couscous with butter, salt, toasted almonds and dried cranberries:

I’ve also seen it various places used in a pizza crust.  I’ve fiddled with the recipe and came up with one I use all the time as a single serving sans all the cheese.  I mix my steamed cauliflower (I nuke it for four minutes without water, just covered with saran) with 2 tablespoons egg white (about one), 1 teaspoon grated parmesan, 1 tablespoon any kind of flour (wheat, soy, almond, chickpea, coconut, etc.) or matzo meal, and seasonings.

It has a texture similar to polenta.

Shape into a crust. I like to do it  on parchment so it doesn’t stick.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Place another piece of parchment on top, flip over onto baking sheet, then peel the top piece of parchment off the browned side.  Bake another 5-10 minutes.

Top with whatever you like.  I’ve used it as a pizza crust, as mentioned before:

Cauliflower pizza with sausage and caramelized onions and mozzarella.

And I’ve also used it as a tostada “shell”:

With refried beans, cheese, lettuce, salsa, and plain Greek yogurt.

Recently, I tried shredded butternut squash (because I discovered I was out of zucchini) and it was fantastic!

Raw

Cooked

The texture was not as crunchy or crispy as the zucchini, but perhaps this could change if I used a bit less egg white and matzo meal instead of soy flour. I’m still experimenting.  The flavor was great though!  Now I’m also thinking of other combinations — shredded carrot and zucchini might be good… I’d love to hear if you try any of these, or come up with your own creations!

Butternut squash used as a tostada “shell” with refried beans, grilled veggies, lettuce, cheese, and Green yogurt.

Individual Veggie Crust

1 cup of shredded vegetable of choice (if using cauliflower, process  and steam for 4 minutes)

1 tablespoon any kind of flour or matzo meal

1 teaspoon or so of parmesan or more if you like

2-3 tablespoons liquid egg whites or 1 egg white (depending on how crunchy you want the crust to be)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees (I use a toaster oven).

2.  Mix ingredients together in bowl.

3.  Shape crust into a 1/4 inch layer on parchment paper on baking sheet.

4.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Place another piece of parchment on top, flip crust, and peel top sheet off of browned side.

5.  Bake for another 5-10 minutes until desired browning is achieved.

6.  Use as a pizza crust or tostada shell and top with toppings of your choice.

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Filed under Dinner, Vegetables

National Soup Month and Soup Day Giveaway!

I can’t believe January is almost over!  Did you know January is National Soup Month? I’ve been making and eating soup all month with my new Vitamix that my wonderful husband gave me for Christmas.

The cool thing about the Vitamix is that you can throw in a bunch of veggies and liquid into the canister and “cook” the soup as you blend.  The powerful motor is four times as strong as a regular blender and can run for five minutes on high.  This causes friction which creates the heat to “cook” the soup.

I’ve been doing a hybrid of stove top cooking and vitamix “cooking” to make my soups. I love to put caramelized onions and/or garlic in my soups, and I find that cooking them on the stove first with seasonings and then blending makes a tastier soup.

Here are some of the soups I’ve been enjoying and tinkering with:

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

Creamy Cauliflower Zucchini Soup

White Bean and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

I am celebrating National Soup Month by giving away a personalized autographed copy of  my book, Soup Day (which includes a recipe for Snowy Day Vegetable soup).

To enter the Soup Day book giveaway, do one or all (to increase your chances) of the following:

1.  Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite soup (recipe) is.

AND/OR

2.  Tweet (Hey everyone enter the @meliwai Soup Day giveaway! http://wp.me/pNxYO-tW) about this giveaway and follow me on Twitter

AND/OR

3.  Follow me on Facebook and leave me a comment about it.

4. Post about this giveaway on your Facebook page with my link (http://wp.me/pNxYO-tW).

Contest is open until February 6, 2012, midnight (EST).
Tuesday, February 7,  I’ll choose a winner using a random number generator and it on the blog.  🙂 I will also email the winner.  You’ll have one week (7 days) to respond to my email or another winner will be chosen. Giveaway is open to anyone in the world.  🙂

Soup Day is also available in stores and online.  I have already written the sequel, and am required to sell a lot of copies of it in order to make that happen! Thanks for your support!

And now, on to the recipes:

Garnished with roasted acorn seeds and crushed pepper.

1 small roasted acorn squash

½ small onion, sliced thinly, about ½ cup

½ teaspoon oil

pinch of kosher salt

1 cup chicken broth (or other broth you prefer)

¼ cup milk

½ teaspoon curry

½ teaspoon cumin

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Roast acorn squash and toast seeds.  To see how to do this, check out this post.
  2. Cut roasted acorn squash in to large cubes.
  3. Heat oil in sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and sprinkle with salt.  Saute until soft and translucent.  Add acorn squash, chicken broth, milk, and spices and simmer for about 10-14 minutes. (Alternatively throw everything in Vitamix including parmesan and blend on high for five minutes.  Serve.)
  4. Blend soup with immersion blender or process in blender in batches, being careful not to fill blender more than half way.  Remove center cap and cover lightly with a towel while blending.
  5. Serve garnished with toasted acorn squash seeds.

Creamy Cauliflower and Zucchini Soup

Garnished with grated parmesan and crushed pepper.

1 half head of cauliflower (about 12 oz.) cut into florets

1 small zucchini (about 6 oz.), cut into slices

½ teaspoon oil

1 small onion sliced thinly, about 1 cup

salt and pepper to taste

Dash of dried thyme

2 cups chicken broth (or other broth you prefer)

1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

  1. Steam cauliflower and zucchini in microwave for about 4-5 minutes or in steamer on stove for about 6-8 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and sprinkle with salt.  Saute until soft and translucent.  Season to taste with thyme.
  3. Add steamed cauliflower and zucchini and broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  (Alternatively throw everything in Vitamix including parmesan and blend on high for five minutes.  Serve.)
  4. Add parmesan and blend with immersion blender or blend soup in blender in batches, being careful not to fill blender more than half way.  Remove center cap and cover lightly with a towel while blending.
  5. Garnish with extra parmesan if desired.

White Bean and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

Garnished with whipped cottage cheese, shiitake, and multigrain cracker.

This is a very thick soup – the consistency is that of condensed mushroom soup.  If you want a thinner soup, use 1/2 the amount of beans.

5 g of dried shiitake mushroom or other dried mushroom such as porcini

1 can of white beans (1/2 can if you want thinner soup)

½ teaspoon olive oil

Dash of kosher salt

Dash of thyme and marjoram

1 small onion sliced thinly, about 1 cup

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 ½ cups chicken broth or more for thinning

  1. Place dried mushrooms in a medium sized bowl and pour about ½ cup boiling water to cover.  I usually place a smaller dish or bowl on top to keep the mushrooms submerged.  Let sit for about 10 minutes. Drain mushrooms, but save the soaking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile rinse beans in colander with water to remove excess salt and drain.
  3. Slice softened shiitake into thin strips
  4. Saute onion in olive oil over medium low heat until soft.  Season with sat and spices.  Add shiitake soaking liquid and braise for until liquid evaporates.  Add garlic and sauté until softened.  Add shiitake and sauté for a few more minutes.
  5. Reserve about ¼ cup of sauted mushrooms and onions and set aside.
  6. Add broth and white beans to pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for about fifteen minutes.   (Alternatively, throw everything into Vitamix and blend on high for five minutes. Add reserved shiitake and onion and blend for a few seconds on low to combine.  Serve.)
  7. Blend with immersion blender or transfer soup to blender in process in batches, being careful not to fill blender more than half way.  Remove center cap and cover lightly with a towel while blending.  Add reserved shiitake and onion and pulse to combine.  Add more hot broth if you want to thin soup out to desired consistency.
  8. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche, sour cream or whipped cottage cheese.

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