Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mushroom and Brown Rice Casserole

I usually don't have too hard of a time coming up with ideas and recipes for the main dish each day, but the sides? Whew.. Now that's a whole different story. My mind draws a huge blank each time I try to think about sides and I usually go back to the same boring salad, corn on the cob, mixed veggies, salad, fresh fruit... salad.. You get the picture. It was so nice and refreshing to actually find a different side recipe other than salad! And if you haven't already picked up from my blog that I love mushrooms, then you need to come visit more! I absolutely loved everything about this casserole. The rice was moist and flavorful and the mushrooms and onions added a nice texture and flavor to the brown rice. It's a very simple dish, very creamy and comforting that reminds me of home. And the best part of all is I now have a new side dish to add to my salad and veggies! Perfect in my book. (Recipe and picture courtesy of Annie's Eats)

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. brown mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Minced fresh herbs (optional) such as chives, parsley, etc.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2-qt. baking dish. In a large skillet over medium heat saute the mushrooms in the olive oil, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their juices, about 5-7 minutes. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add in the rice and stir to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream and salt until smooth. Add in the rice mixture and stir gently until blended. Spoon mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle most of the Parmesan cheese over the top, reserve a bit for finishing. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes more, until the top is lightly browned. Top with remaining Parmesan and fresh herbs, if desired.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Mushroom Pizza with Garlic White Sauce

Some of my absolute favorite ingredients all in one combination that just happens to be on a pizza. Oh baby.. Can't get better than this! I loved the sweetness of the caramelized onions combined with the savory garlic white sauce. Add some sauteed sliced mushrooms and fresh spinach to make a beautiful and flavorful pizza! The mushrooms have enough substance to make it very filling so meat isn't necessary. Oh, and if you don't like mushrooms, this probably isn't the pizza for you... Just sayin'.


Garlic White Sauce:
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • Herbs such as basil, parsley, and oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion sliced thin
  • 1 small package cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 bag fresh baby spinach
  • 2 cups Fontina cheese, grated (A mozzarella and parmesan mix works great too)
Make the garlic white sauce first. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for three minutes. Whisk in the flour until a roux or paste forms. Slowly add in the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Add in a pinch of desired herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Place the sliced onions in a saute pan with a couple tablespoons of butter. Stir over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes or until they become very soft. Add in sliced mushrooms and cook until mushrooms begin to release their juices and the onions begin to take on a caramel color.

Pour the white sauce into the middle of the pizza dough and spread around with a a ladle. Sprinkle on the onions, mushrooms and spinach and top with grated cheese. Bake pizza on a pizza stone in a 500 degree oven for 8 to 13 minutes or until edges are crisp and cheese is golden and bubbly in spots.

The Best Homemade Pizza Crust

I have another recipe for homemade pizza crust on here that I've used for years, but it was just missing something... My husband gave me a pizza stone for my birthday a couple of weeks ago and I was determined to find a crust worthy of my new stone! Of course it didn't surprise me a bit when I tried the basic pizza dough recipe from the America's Test Kitchen and it turned out amazing. I have yet to try a recipe from them that I don't like, and I honestly can't say that about any other recipe book I own or website I follow. I've said it before, but if you have to choose one particular cookbook, choose one by America's Test Kitchen. I have their Family Baking Book and I can't say enough good things about it!

The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Their cookbooks have "secret" tips and tricks to make the best recipes, particularly when it comes to baking. For their basic pizza dough recipe, they recommend three things to make the crust perfect: 1) Use bread flour because it gives the dough enough strength to be stretched thin, but still provide a crust that's very crisp and chewy once baked. 2) Use a pizza stone. Pizza stones retain heat and lessen the effects of temperature fluctuations. And 3) Preheat your pizza stone in the oven for at least 30 minutes before topping and baking. If you don't allow the stone to have enough time in the oven prior to baking your pizza, the crust will absorb moisture from the sauce and cheese before it cooks and will be limp and soggy instead of crisp and sturdy enough to hold its' shape.

This particular pizza crust uses instant yeast and takes a little bit longer than my other quick go-to crust recipe, but it is worth every extra minute. The result is a soft, chewy crust with a slightly crisp bottom that holds the pizza together perfectly. Both Neal and I agreed that this crust was even better than most food-chain pizza crust, and you really can't get any better than a homemade meal!

  • 4 - 4 1/2 cups bread flour (all-purpose flour may be substituted but the crust will be less chewy)
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp.) instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
Combine 4 cups of the flour, yeast and salt together in a food processor or mixer (fitted with dough blade) to combine. With the processor/mixer running, pour the oil, then water in and process until a rough ball forms, 30 to 40 seconds.  Let the dough rest for 2 minutes, then process for 30 seconds longer. If after 30 seconds the dough is sticky and clings to the blade, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and form it into a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, before using.

Divide dough into 2 equal pieces and press and roll each piece into a 14-inch round on a lightly floured counter. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet and reshape as needed. Lightly brush the other 1/2 inch edge of the dough with oil and top with desired toppings and cheese.

Slide the parchment paper and pizza onto the hot baking stone and bake at 500 degrees for 8 to 13 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the cheese is golden in spots.

This recipe will make enough dough for two 14-inch pizzas.

To make ahead: After the dough is mixed, do not let the dough rise but refrigerate it overnight or up to 16 hours. Let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before using. Alternatively, the pizza dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; let the dough rise as directed above, then wrap tightly in greased plastic wrap and freeze. Let the frozen dough thaw on the counter for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator before using.