Easy Cook: Best Ever Homemade Pizza

It is “Super Bowl Sunday.” And this one-in-a year football game calls for pizza. I have always enjoyed making homemade pizza and this recipe may be my favorite pizza creations. It is incredibly easy to make and our taste testers decided that it tastes better than any “pizza in a box.” The flavors and ingredients are balanced — you can taste the toppings and not just the pizza crust. Best of all, you can customize the ingredients to each person’s preferences. The recipe is quick–taking about 5 minutes to make the pizza and 10 minutes to bake. Compare that to the time to get a pizza delivered from a pizza restaurant on “Super Bowl Sunday.” To make this “efficient” pizza, I used several convenience products. “Simple” was my objective. Here’s my “way too much” pepperoni pizza.

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Easy Cook: Zucchini, Cherry Tomato & Couscous Medley

Here’s a rather unique dish for using some of the abundance of zucchini which shows up in our gardens, grocery stores and farmer’s markets each summer. This recipe is simple to mix up and quite tasty. The dish pairs roasted zucchini squash and cherry tomatoes with couscous and a splash of red wine vinegar. What is couscous? It is sort of like a pasta which is about the size of small barley. This pasta-like ingredient sits on my kitchen shelf, lonely, just waiting for a recipe to come along to use it. Here’s a great pairing — the neutral couscous blends well with the tomatoes and zucchini. We really like this recipe!

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Easy Cook: Chili Con Carne with Louisiana Red Beans

Here’s an easy and very tasty recipe for “Chili Con Carne.” This is a great concoction for cold winter weather to warm up the body and soul. Or make a pot of “Chili Con Carne” next weekend and watch the football Super Bowl game — your family can help themselves to the chili and you won’t miss a football play. The recipe includes dried red beans –giving it a Louisiana “touch” — as certainly the dried version of red beans is used in traditional New Orleans cooking. I made this chili several times to tweak the recipe and the result is a pleasing blend of chili peppers and seasonings, tomatoes, kidney beans and beef. The chili has “bite” but no one component overpowers the other. I think I got this recipe “just right.” With the dried beans, this recipe takes several hours to cook — so start early in the day.

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Easy Cook: Fresh Cranberry Fruit Compote

Cranberries add a festive and refreshing touch to holiday meals. The tart flavor of cranberry sauce helps tone down the rich flavors of a large holiday turkey meal. Doesn’t cut the calories of the meal you just ate, but it does cleanse the palate. Last weekend  company was visiting — they helped with the cooking. My niece and I created wonderful fresh fruit compote with cranberries and foods on my kitchen counter. We served the dish at almost all meals and discovered it was a satisfying substitute for high-calorie desserts. Guess we found a way to save on calories, after all.

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Easy Cook: Braised Red Cabbage

In general, it doesn’t seem like a nursing home dining room would be the place where a person would encounter fine gourmet.  But on a visit to my mother’s retirement center some time ago, the residents were served Braised Red Cabbage. The cabbage was finely shredded, tender, just a little sweet and seasoned just right. It was divine and I’ve been trying to duplicate the recipe ever since.  

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Easy Cook: Kung Po Inspired Tilapia

I sent my husband to the grocery store to purchase catfish. He brought home tilapia. It’s not the same fish; you can’t deep fry a delicate tilapia filet–it will fall apart. I remembered a recipe for a quick-to-prepare Chinese dish for “Kung Po Cod” in our local newspaper using cod fish and lots of peppers. Why not use the tilapia instead? The dish is fantastic; but about the only similarity with the real Kung Po dish is the peanuts. Continue reading

Game Day Sloppy Joes

The seasons turned from summer to fall last week; the weather doesn’t feel any different; it is still hot and muggy. But now it is football season and in Louisiana folks take this sport seriously. Tailgating before LSU college football games is a social ritual; hundreds of folks descend onto the LSU campus for an afternoon party and then to watch the game. “Game Day Sloppy Joes” is an easy and tasty main dish to serve at the picnic.

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Easy Cook: Roasted Cauliflower

Have you ever gone grocery shopping and purchased a gorgeous vegetable or fruit on a whim just because it looked tempting. But alas, it set on the kitchen counter for several days until it was too ripe to use? Yes, ripe produce spoils quickly. It is nice to have easy recipes to prepare these vegetables and fruit with ingredients that a person probably already has at  home. And I like recipes that do not require much time or effort. Hence, Easy Cook: Roasted Cauliflower. Continue reading