Monthly Archives: October 2013

Sausage, Fennel, and Ricotta Pizza

I’ve been on a little bit of a pizza binge lately.  Whether it’s greasy takeout pizza, frozen pizza or homemade pizza, I’m all about it.  Earlier this year, I was in the habit of coming home on Fridays after work, throwing a frozen pizza in the oven, popping open a beer or two and settling in to watch Grimm with the lights off.  Yes, it’s sad, I don’t go out on Fridays.  By the time work is over for the week, I’m exhausted and look forward to a Friday night at home.  Well, now that Grimm starts again tonight, I’m right back into old habits except this time, I’m challenging myself to make a different pizza each week instead of those inexpensive frozen pizzas I’m used to having (no matter how much I love them!). This Sausage, Fennel, and Ricotta Pizza was no disappointment.

Refrigerated pizza crust is topped with browned turkey sausage, thin fennel slices, and dollops of creamy garlic-laced ricotta. Red pepper flakes and fennel seeds are scattered over the whole pie before it is baked until golden and crispy. This pizza uses fennel 3-ways: in the sausage, fresh from the bulb and the seeds. I have decided I’m obsessed with fennel. I’ve used fennel before in soups and other recipes but this pizza really stands out to me as a way to really celebrate fennel’s unique flavor. If you haven’t used a fresh fennel before, this is a great way to try it.  The slices get soft when baking and the flavor mellows out perfectly. Of course, if you really aren’t into fennel bulb, you can leave it out: the fennel seeds provide perfect flavor alone.  Pizza and beer sounds like the perfect way to spend a Friday night to me.

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The ingredients:

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Preheat oven to 500° (keep pizza stone or baking sheet in oven as it preheats). Let pizza dough stand at room temperature, covered, while oven preheats. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casing from sausage. Add sausage to pan; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring to crumble. Add fennel bulb; cook 4 minutes or until tender.

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Roll pizza dough into a 16-inch oval on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle cornmeal over pizza stone or pizza pan; place dough on pizza stone or pan. Brush dough evenly with oil. Sprinkle sausage mixture evenly over dough, leaving a 1-inch border.

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Combine ricotta and garlic in a small bowl; top pizza with teaspoonfuls of ricotta mixture.

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Sprinkle red onion and remaining ingredients evenly over pizza.

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Bake at 500° for 11 minutes or until golden. Cut into 8 slices.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Red onion

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

Sausage-and-Feta Cheese-Stuffed Peppers

Do you ever come across a recipe and think If only I liked (fill in the blank), I’d love this! Well when I came across this recipe for Chorizo-and-Goat Cheese-Stuffed Peppers I thought, if only I liked goat cheese and if only I ate chorizo and if only this used basil instead, this would be right up my alley! Well, when in doubt, substitute!  I recreated these appetizers using what I wanted instead to come up with something similar yet my own.  Introducing Sausage-and-Feta Cheese-Stuffed Peppers!

Turkey sausage and peppers are cooked together before adding in creamy cream cheese and tangy feta cheese.  The whole mixture is scooped into mini-sweet peppers and baked creating a perfectly small, appetizer-sized stuffed pepper.  The flavor of the turkey sausage, mixed with the difference cheeses and sweet peppers make for an overall perfect appetizer in my opinion.  Yes, removing the seeds of the peppers and making them into cute little boats may be a bit time consuming but the rest of the dish is easy as pie and quick to come together.  The hardest part is waiting the fifteen minutes for these suckers to be done.  The best part of the hardest part? Eating the left over sausage mixture out of the pan with a spoon while you wait.

Sausage-and-Feta Cheese-Stuffed Peppers (makes 24 appetizers)

Adapted from Coastal Living Magazine‘s Chorizo-and-Goat Cheese-Stuffed Peppers

  • 24 baby peppers or mini-peppers
  • 1 lb turkey sausage or pork sausage (hot or sweet, up to you!)
  • 2 ounces reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 4 ounces 1/3-less fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut about 1/4 inch from top of peppers to form a “boat” (see picture below). Seed peppers, if desired, and finely chop pepper tops. Combine chopped peppers and sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until sausage is browned. Drain well, if necessary. Add feta and cream cheeses, stirring until well blended. Spoon or pipe sausage mixture into pepper boats. Place on prepared baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes or until cheese melts and peppers are tender. Garnish with basil, if desired.

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The ingredients:

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Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut about 1/4 inch from top of peppers to form a “boat.” Seed peppers, if desired, and finely chop pepper tops.

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Combine chopped peppers and sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until sausage is browned. Drain well, if necessary.

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Add feta and cream cheeses, stirring until well blended.

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Spoon or pipe sausage mixture into pepper boats. Place on prepared baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes or until cheese melts and peppers are tender.

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Garnish with basil, if desired.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions (from adapted recipe):

  • Turkey sausage
  • Reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 1/3-less fat cream cheese
  • Basil

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Adapted from Coastal Living magazine

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies

Whenever someone claims to have the “Best Ever” recipe for anything, that’s a mighty tall order.  I mean, who do they think they are with all that noise? Well, I can be a sucker for new products (especially when it comes to nut butters) so when I came across this dark chocolate peanut butter in my grocery store recently, I had to give it a try.  Alone it was more peanut buttery than chocolatey which was okay with me.  With an entire jar left, I found this recipe for the “Best Ever” Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies so I put both the chocolate peanut butter and the recipe to the test.

The result was pretty much the best ever peanut butter-oatmeal cookies I’ve had.  No joke.  I mean, look at the pictures of the cookies I made.  Can they get any more perfect looking?  Since the dough was thick, I scooped equal sized amounts into my palm and rolled them in balls which made them perfectly circular when baked.  These cookies are soft and chewy, just the way you expect a cookie to be. I have to say though as far as the dark chocolate peanut butter goes, I didn’t really taste a difference in these cookies so use whatever your favorite peanut butter is. I love peanut butter cookies and I love oatmeal cookies so there’s no surprise that I loved this combination of both.  The recipe also calls for optional chocolate chips which I didn’t use but why not combine 3 kinds of cookies in one recipe if you want? No doubt, they’ll still be the best. Like, ever.

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The ingredients:

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Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.

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In a large bowl, beat peanut butter and butter with an electric mixture until smooth. Beat in sugars, eggs, and vanilla until blended.

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Beat in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips, if desired.

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Drop by rounded spoonfuls, 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 13 minutes until golden brown.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Chocolate chips

Substitutions:

  • Dark chocolate peanut butter

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source: Skippy peanut butter website

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