Pie For Dinner

I’m Stressed!  I’m experiencing two things that are not compatible with each other.  One is writing this blog where I want to include baked goods, and more importantly reading other blogs where there is all kinds of wonderful baking going on; and two is trying to follow a low carbohydrate diet plan.  Baked goods, generally speaking, have no place on a strict low carb diet.  I need to bake something to bring my stress level down.  I want to stir something or roll out something like pie dough or cookie dough.  Yeah, that would help out a lot!  I don’t need to eat it, just make it.  What to do?

Well after giving this situation a lot of thought,  I decided to make a pie.  Not a dessert pie, no sireee; a dinner pie.  My analysis of the standard pie crust shows that 1/8th of a 9-inch pie contains 13 Gms. carbohydrate, none of which comes from sugar.  This is well under the 20 Gms. I’m limiting myself to per day.  So then I needed to figure out what the filling should be.  I decided on cheeses and fresh tomatoes flavored up with pesto.  With the creative juices flowing, and the stress level coming down, I set to work mixing up the pie dough. Cutting in that shortening and rolling out that dough takes muscle, but I was up for it!

Here then,  ladies and gentlemen, I present to you for the first time, my newest creation:  Fresh Tomato and Ricotta Cheese Pie

INGREDIENTS:

Makes 8 servings

  • pie dough for a single crust 9-inch pie, either home made or store-bought
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 large tomatoes, and 4-5 grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Fit pie dough into a 9-inch pie pan.  Do not prick.  Line with heavy-duty foil.

2.  Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for 8 more minutes.  Remove from oven.  Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

3.   In a medium bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, salt and pepper to taste, and egg.

4.  Spread the cheese mixture in the partially cooked pie crust.

5.  Slice each large tomato into wedges, small tomatoes in half.  Remove as many seeds as possible.   Arrange attractively  on top of cheese layer.  Heirloom tomatoes produce vibrant colors ranging from pale yellow, pale pink,   purplish red,  even striped.  No two taste alike.  A tomato is a beautiful thing!  Mixing 2-3 varieties together makes a pretty presentation.

6.  In a food processor, process basil, garlic and olive oil until coarsely chopped.  Drizzle over the tomatoes.  I used my own previously made basil pesto, or you could use commercially prepared pesto here.

7.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  The filling will firm up a little more as it cools, so allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting.

8.  The finished product!  I served this pie with chicken salad on a bed of greens and a cucumber salad with a vinaigrette dressing.  I would also serve this dish as an entree for brunch along with some bacon or ham.  Oh, Yum!  The best part of all folks,  I didn’t just make it —-I got to eat it, too.  I am no longer stressed!

SOURCE:   a Carolyn Original

Caprese Salad

Caprese salad; one of the simplest, most beautiful and delicious salads I make.  Every summer when tomatoes of all kinds are at their finest, and my pot of basil is full and lush, I scout out the best mozzarella cheese I can find and we have this salad over and over.

The people of the Isle of Capri,  (thus it’s name)  created this tri-color salad, using tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil, the colors of the Italian flag.  We are so lucky they did.  It is so simple to make you really don’t need a recipe, and I expect many of you know how to make it.  But for those of you who have never had it, you might want to try it.   This is how I make it.

This makes enough for a first-course, or side salad for 4.

  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Whisk all of the above together to blend.  Set dressing aside.

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes.  An assortment makes a pretty presentation, such as regular vine-ripened tomatoes, plum tomatoes, red or yellow cherry tomatoes, or heirloom tomatoes of any color.  The ones in my photo are dark skinned heirloom tomatoes, very meaty and sweet.
  • a ball of mozzarella cheese, about 6 ounces, thinly sliced
  • several sprigs of basil, torn into small pieces

Slice the large tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices,  cut smaller tomatoes into wedges, and grape or cherry tomatoes  in half.  Arrange on a platter with the cheese.  Drizzle the dressing over the top.  Sprinkle with the basil and any additional salt and pepper.

 

A loaf of crusty Italian bread is the perfect accompaniment .

 

Artichoke, Spinach, and White Bean Dip

A neighborhood block party for the Fourth of July.  Everyone brings a pot-luck dish to share. Friends getting together, talking, playing games, kids running around, riding bikes, playing in the sprinkler.  A very typical July 4th celebration.  That’s what we did and perhaps many of you  did the same.  I hope your day was relaxing and enjoyable.

This post is about the appetizer I brought to share.  It got rave reviews, disappeared very quickly, and was very easy to make.  I served it with a variety of crackers, and toasted pita chips for dipping.  I’ve had this kind of dip on previous occasions, and though I like it very much I limit myself to just a few tastes because I know it is usually high in fat and calories.  This version, however, cuts the calories way back, by reducing the amount of cheese(es) in it, and including white beans processed with the base ingredients to give thickness without fat.

So in this version you have the sharpness of Romano cheese, the tang of lemon juice, and the bite of red pepper, incorporated into a base made smooth by mayonnaise (the only fat) and pureed white beans.  To me this is the real star of the show, although the spinach and artichokes get all the attention.   This is when I say,  Oh, Yeah!  Bring it on!    You’ll be happy to know that a 1/4 cup serving contains only 87 calories,  4.9 g.carb, and 5.4 g. fat.

ARTICHOKE, SPINACH, AND WHITE BEAN DIP

YIELD:  about 3 cups;  serves 12 or more

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup ( 1 ounce) grated pecorino Romano cheese  (purchased already grated at the grocery store.)
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  (15 oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained.  Quarter and chop them.
  • 1 (9 0z. ) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry.
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 1-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Place Romano cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, red pepper, minced garlic, and white beans in a food processor, and process until smooth.  Spoon into a medium bowl.  Stir in the artichokes and spinach.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly and brown.  Serve warm with crackers or chips for dipping.

SOURCE:  Cooking Light Magazine

Bacon, Tomato, and Arugula Pizza

It all started with a Buy-One-Get-One-Free special at the market.  I don’t normally take advantage of these deals because for two of us its often too much of something and it goes to waste.  But for some unknown reason I bought the grape tomatoes being offered, and got the other one free.  OK, now what to do with them?  Other than put these sweet little tomatoes in salad,  I really don’t  cook with them, although I’m starting to.  Coexisting in my refrigerator there was also half a bag of arugula that I wanted to use up, and four slices of thick bacon.  Put all those items together and they spell BLT.  What could taste like a BLT sandwich but be substantial enough for a Friday evening supper?   How about a  pizza!

I always have a bag or two of frozen pizza dough on hand, so I took one out of the freezer to defrost, and in about 2 hours I was ready to get creative with my pizza.  First I cooked the bacon till crisp, drained it and broke it into pieces.  Then in the drippings remaining in the pan I briefly cooked the tomatoes with a little salt and the red pepper.

I always use a pizza stone to bake pizza,  so I sprinkled a little cornmeal on that and patted and stretched the dough into a 12 inch circle to cover it.  Cornmeal helps to get a crispy crust and keeps the dough from sticking.  Next I spread a little pizza sauce on the dough, topped that with the tomatoes, then the bacon pieces and of course lots of cheese.   Once baked and out of the oven I scattered a layer of arugula over the top.   The smell of this pie baking brought Mr. D. to the kitchen without being called, so I knew I was on to something good.  Mouthwateringly delicious is what it was.   I know I’ll be making this one again–and again!

BACON TOMATO AND ARUGULA PIZZA 

Makes one 12 inch round pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 pound refrigerated pizza dough, preferably whole wheat
  • 4-5 slices smoked bacon
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup jarred marinara or pizza sauce
  • 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup baby arugula

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Sprinkle a baking sheet or pizza stone with cornmeal;  roll or stretch dough into a 12-inch circle, and place on prepared pan.

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove to paper towel.  Break into pieces or crumble.  Add tomatoes, red pepper and a little salt to drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spread sauce evenly over dough, leaving a small border.  Top with the tomatoes and bacon.

Sprinkle cheese over top.  Bake at 450 degrees for 17 minutes or until crust is golden.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle arugula over the top.  Cut into 8 wedges and serve immediately.

Source:  a Carolyn Original