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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pizza Ring



Here's a kind of spectacular dish that looks really good on the potluck table.  It's not terribly hard to make and just requires a few basic ingredients and some very simple tools.  I've included a link to a video showing a version being prepared. The one I did is healthier and lacto-ovo vegetarian. Really it's just a pizza crust wrapped around some tasty stuff in the middle. Here's how it goes.

Ingredients:
  • Pizza crust  (Here's the basic recipe - I use 1 1/2 cup white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour in my variant of the dough recipe).  If you've got a stand mixer with a dough hook, it's really easy. You don't have to let the dough rise.
  • 1 pkg. - Cream cheese (I like Neufchatel myself)
  • 1/2 pkg - Morning Star Farms Vege-Steak Strips®
  • 1/2 red or green bell pepper chopped or cut in strips
  • 1/2 large sweet onion chopped or cut in strips
  • 1/2 jar pizza sauce
  • 1 cup Mozarella (vary according to your taste)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • Oregano
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Cheese sauce or your favorite marinara
Directions:
Ready for the oven

  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Roll out pizza dough on pizza pan or stone
  3. Cut three 4 inch cuts in the center of the dough with a pizza cutter. The three cuts should cross at the center and make six wedge shapes with the points at the center.
  4. Place a dollop of cream cheese in each of the wedges halfway between the center and the edge of the dough. Spread it with a spoon or spatula to make a ring of cream cheese.
  5. In a skillet, brown the vege-steak strips and spread evenly over the cream cheese circle.
  6. Caramelize the onions and peppers on low heat in the skillet and then spread them over the vege-steak and cream cheese evenly around the circle.
  7. Spread pizza sauce lightly over the top of the mixture around the ring.
  8. Cover the ring of filling with mozzarella cheese.
  9. Fold the outside edge of the dough up over the filling and let the dough make a large flute opposite the base of each center cut. 
  10. Lift the tips of the inner wedges as shown in the video up and over the outside dough and press into the dough. Press the flutes down against the wedges to help hold the ring together firmly.
  11. Make an egg wash with an egg and milk. Whisk till smooth, then spread the egg wash over the top of the dough to give in that golden brown color you want.
  12. Bake 20 minutes or until the top turns a nice golden color.
  13. Make up the cheese or marinara sauce you like best.
Serving suggestions:

It's a ring. Put something in the middle. Serve it on the pizza pan or a pizza stone. Place a bowl with a nice sauce in the center as shown above.  It can be reheated, but I wouldn't recommend the microwave for the job or the dough gets rubbery.  Provide guests a sharp knife for cutting a slice of the ring and a spoon for the sauce. 

The pizza ring is pretty impressive for the work involved, and it's tasty too and, of course, we don't make this kind of thing to show off at church potluck.  Do we?

Click on this link to see a video of how this is made. I changed the recipe some to suit me, but once you see the basic steps you can easily adapt it to your personal tastes.

© 2017 by Tom King

Friday, May 26, 2017

Wilted Spinach Salad




Here's an old fashioned recipe with fresh spinach, boiled eggs and a vegetarian substitute for bacon drippings. Worthington Stripples or Morning Star Veggie-Breakfast Bacon Strips and the oil you cook them in make an excellent substitute for bacon drippings such as our grandmothers used in their "salad".  It can be partially prepared the previous day and all you need is to heat up the dressing just before serving. It's actually quite good and an unusual salad for potluck.  

Ingredients:
  • 6 cups spinach, washed, drained very well and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1⁄4 cup sliced green onion
  • 3 hardboiled egg, coarsely chopped
  • 5 slices Stripples, cooked and chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup red vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper (optional)
Directions

  1. Combine spinach, onions and eggs in a large salad bowl.
  2. Cook Stripples/Breakfast Strips in skillet until crispy; remove and drain on paper towels.
  3. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of oil you cooked the Stripples in.
  4. Add vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to the oil and heat to boiling, while stirring to blend evenly.
  5. When ready to serve, pour over spinach mixture and toss gently.
  6. Sprinkle salad with Stripple/breakfast strip crumbles. 
Serving Suggestions:

Put the eggs, fresh spinach and green onions in a large Tupperware bowl and seal it up.  Set aside the cooked vege-bacon and go ahead and boil the sauce. Set it aside in a small sealed container. When you get to potluck, open up the greens, heat the sauce in the microwave until warm and pour it over the greens, onions and eggs mix. Crumble the crisp vegebacon over top of the salad and serve.

It's actually quite good and worth the effort of doing the last minute prep work.

© 2017 by Tom King

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ten Layer Mushroom Lasagna



You could call this a "Dump" Lasagna, as it is made with a lot of stuff I had lying around the house and is loosely adapted from a Campbell Soup label recipe. It's actually pretty good right out of the oven and probably will taste better after it sits overnight in the fridge and is reheated. If you are not a mushroom fan, there are plenty of ways to substitute the elements of this recipe (see "Variations" below). It's not as hard to make as you think and doesn't take very long to put together. And most of us vegetarian cooks have most of this stuff already in our pantries.

First three layers - noodles, cottage cheese and sauce
This recipe is an equal opportunity offender. The recipe uses milk, mozzarella, provolone, and cottage cheeses (which upsets the anti-dairy Vegans), pasta with gluten (which sends the anti-gluten crowd into low Earth orbit), and sets off the anti-mushroom folk with it's use of mushrooms and mushroom soup (which sets off the anti-salt faction). It uses vegeburger which sets off the anti-soy crowd. One would think I set out to make a dish that is certain to draw criticism. Actually, I just like lasagna and don't care what the food Nazis think. It's healthier than lasagna with hamburger or Italian sausage in it, so I am content.

Lasagna is a fun dish to get creative with if you have any head at all for substitutions. You could, for instance, substitute fresh spinach for fresh mushrooms. You can take out the cottage cheese if you want and just use the mushroom soup sauce or do it the other way round. You probably shouldn't substitute chocolate chips for the vegeburger, though. That would be silly.

Have fun with this and see you at potluck!

Ingredients:
Layers 4 & 5 - Sliced Provolone & slice mushrooms

  • Sliced black olives
  • 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 bag Morningstar Farms Recipe Crumbles
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 1/2 chopped Bell Pepper
  • 1 can Mushroom soup 
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 9 Lasagna noodles 
  • Sliced fresh mushrooms or small jar of mushrooms drained
  • 2 slices Provolone Cheese (or more mozzarella)
  • 1/2 large carton cottage cheese  
Directions:
Layer's 6-9: Mushroom sauce, noodles vegeburger
and spaghetti sauce

  1. Heat over to 400 degrees.
  2. If the lasagna noodles you use are not "oven ready", you'll need to prepare the noodles according to the package directions. I used both oven ready rice gluten-free rice lasagna noodles and regular whole wheat lasagna noodles because that's what I had. I put the oven ready noodles on the bottom of the casserole dish and put the wheat noodles on to boil.
  3. In a skillet put a little olive oil and heat. Add Griller Crumbles, onion and bell
    Griller crumbles, onion and peppers sauteed in olive oil.
    pepper and brown the crumbles and soften the onions and peppers. 
  4. First layer - In a large casserole dish, cover the bottom of the casserole with lasagna noodles.
  5. Add second layer - Spread cottage cheese over the noodles.
  6. Add third layer - Spaghetti sauce over cottage cheese, spreading evenly.
  7. Add fourth layer - Provolone strips or mozzarella strips laid flat on top of what you have so far.
  8. Add fifth layer - Mix can of mushroom sauce and 1/4 cup milk and pour over mixture.
  9. Add sixth layer - Slice fresh or canned mushrooms and spread sliced 'shrooms over the top of the cheese slices.
  10. Add seventh layer - Spread lasagna noodles over the top of the 'shrooms.
  11. Add eighth layer - Spread vegeburger crumbles, onions, and pepper mixture over the top of the noodles.
    Layer 10: Cheese and olives - ready to pop in the oven
  12. Add ninth layer - Spread spaghetti sauce over vegeburger layer
  13. Add tenth layer - Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over all and sliced olives over that. I count them as one layer, though technically those few olives might make it eleven layers. I just like the symmetry of ten layers.
  14. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees till sauce bubbles and cheese is melted.
  15. Switch oven to "broil" and broil at high for 2 minutes. Watch closely or it will burn on top. This helps brown the cheese a little bit and looks nice.
Serving suggestions:

Set the casserole on a hot pad to cool and cover with aluminum foil or the casserole lid if you have one. Once it reaches room temperature, you can put it in the fridge overnight, which will allow the flavors to spread throughout. Heat it to 170 degrees in the oven or warmer about an hour or so before potluck.

Variations:

You can actually leave out any of the layers you want to. If you hate mushrooms, leave 'em out or substitute something else. You can make a basic cream sauce or use another cream sauce with any flavor you think suitable. This recipe uses less cheese, so you can substitute extra cheese for the mushroom soup sauce if you want. You can leave out the vegeburger or substitute Loma Linda or Worthington vegeburger, with or without the onions and peppers. You can even substitute spinach for the fresh mushrooms if you want. It works pretty well any way you want to (except, of course, with chocolate).

(c) 2017 by Tom King


Friday, May 19, 2017

No Sugar Added Apple Pie



This is an experimental Apple Pie which hopefully doesn't send my blood sugar into low Earth orbit. It's made with 100% white grape juice and a sprinkle of Stevia in place of sugar. The apples are fresh. I peeled them with my handy dandy apple peeler and corer machine, a bit of kitchen tool self-indulgence I picked up a year or two ago. The pie is tasty, but not overly sweet. Here's how I made it.

Ingredients:
  • 5 apples peeled, cored and sliced.
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup white grape juice
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. margarine or butter
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 pie crusts
  • Spray oil
Directions:
  1. Place water, grape juice, allspice, cinnamon, corn starch, flour, in large pot and heat till blended.  
  2. Add apples to the mix and bring to a low boil.
  3. Spray the pie pan with oil and spread bottom pie crust over the pie pan.
  4. Fill the crust with the apple mix.
  5. Sprinkle the apples mix with Splenda or Stevia. Spread small dots of margarine or butter over the top of the filling.
  6. Spread the top crust over the bottom, flute the edges to seal the top and bottom.
  7. Cut 5 evenly placed slits in the top crust to vent while baking
  8. Bake at 350ยบ until the crust edges and top crust begin to brown
  9. Cool for an hour
Serving Suggestion:

It's really good pie, warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream (sugar free for me).  It's lightly sweet and the cinnamon and butter makes it pop.

© 2017 by Tom King

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Vege-Chicken Rotini Alfredo





This one's quick. You can make your own Alfredo Sauce. It's not very difficult. If you're in a hurry, Paul Newman's Alfredo Sauce works great. You can stir it all up ahead of time on Friday and the flavors will be thoroughly infused throughout the dish by potluck on Sabbath.

Ingredients:

  • Bag of Rotini (I like the whole wheat kind)
  • Jar of Alfredo sauce.
  • Morningstar Farms Vege-chicken Strips
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion chopped
  • Chopped Bell pepper



Directions:
  1. Prepare the Rotini according to directions - al dente' is best. When done, drain in collander.
  2. In a large skillet, saute' onions and Bell pepper and vege-chicken strips in olive oil, till the vegetables are caramelized and the strips begin to brown.
  3. Pour in Alfredo sauce and heat until it starts to bubble.
  4. Pour Rotini into a casserole then pour the sauce over the pasta and stir it up. 


Serving Suggestions:

Cover and refrigerate overnight or eat it hot right out of the pan.  If you premake it to carry to potluck, simply reheat it in the church warming oven or heat in the oven (better) or in the microwave to 170 degrees internal temperature.

© 2017 by Tom King

Friday, May 12, 2017

Custom Cole Slaw Dressing




Here's something you can make up ahead of time to create an instant Cole slaw for potluck. Kraft® makes a similar Cole slaw dressing in a bottle, but if you're making slaw in the industrial sizes, here's a recipe that's easy to double and is really really good. Also, if you're like me and can't do the sugar, you can add Stevia or Splenda to it ans since it's not cooked, you get a nice sweet taste to your dressing without shoot your blood glucose out of the park. You can chop up your own cabbage, carrots and such or you can buy a bag of Cole slaw already shredded, just add dressing. Here's how to make your own so that it tastes just like you want it to:

Ingredients:
  •  1-1/4 cup mayonnaise. (I like to split it half and half between mayo and Miracle Whip Salad Dressing®, but that's just me)
  • 1/3 cup sugar or 1/3 to 1/2 cup Stevia, Truvia, Splenda, etc.
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed (every well-equipped potlucker's kitchen should stock this stuff)
  • 1/2 teaspoon season salt or creole seasoning (I like Tony's® but that's just me)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice 
  • Salt to taste
Directions: 
  1. Mix all ingredients together into a bowl and stir with a wire whisk.
Serving Suggestions:

This dressing has a lovely sweet taste minus the whang some Cole slaw dressings seem to have. And if you sub something for the sugar, you don't have to feel guilty about the lightly sweet taste. You don't want to waste it though. Walmart up here sells fruit in jars by an outfit called Polar® (see the jar in picture to the right).  I hang on to the big ones because they are the perfect size to hold a can of olives after you open them or to put leftover BBQ beans or to store my homemade ranch dressing in.  It also works great for this stuff too. If you double the mix and make a family-sized Cole Slaw, you should have just enough left to fill up a jar and store in the fridge for later in case you need to make an emergency Cole Slaw.  If you've got a big group for potluck coming, you can get a bag of Cole slaw mix at the store and carry that, a bowl and your jar of Cole slaw dressing to church and mix it up fresh on the spot a few minutes before serving. It's best that way instead of storing the mixed up slaw overnight in the fridge so that it goes all soupy. The slaw is crispier that way.  Cole slaw mix usually includes cabbage, purple cabbage and carrots. There are some things you can add to vary your slaw, to wit...

Jazz your Cole slaw up a bit by adding some combination of these things:


  • Slivered almonds and crushed Ramen noodles for an oriental version
  • Chow mein noodles
  • With raisins like our grandmothers used to make.
  • Cashews or peanuts
  • Dill weed or parsley
  • Finely chopped celery
  • Red onions
  • Toasted sesame seeds
There are other variations that involve different dressing mixes and ingredients. The ones here are just a few things that work with this particular dressing. And it's never failed to be a hit for me. The dressing is everything for a good slaw and this one is my very favorite.

© 2017 by Tom King

Friday, May 5, 2017

Aunt Sheila's 1-Cup Easy Peach Cobbler

Blueberry/peach cobbler variant (makes the batter blueish)


Need an easy-to make potluck dessert? This one is a unique take on cobbler. You can use a cake mix, but I much prefer this rich crusty buttery take on the inimitable peach cobbler. The recipe is really easy to double or triple if you've got a large casserole dish. It's also easy to memorize the recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
    Blueberries go in before you pour it if you use them in combo
  • 1 C. milk
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1 C. flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1tsp. vanilla
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 qt. fruit, can or jar (peaches, cherries, blackberries, blueberries or combination thereof)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Cover the bottom of the baking dish with melted butter.
  2. Melt butter in baking pan or casserole dish.
  3. In a bowl Mix milk, sugar, flour, baking powder, egg, salt and cinnamon (if desired). 
  4. If you add blueberries to other fruit, add the blueberries directly to the batter. 
  5. Pour batter into the casserole on top of the butter.
  6. Add fruit to the batter, but do not stir it. Let the fruit float on the batter. When you bake the cobbler, the batter will rise up around the fruit and cover the fruit. The butter and the rising batter absorbs the flavor of the fruit.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour till a knife inserted in the doughy bits comes out clean and the top crust is brown and buttery.
Serving Suggestions:
Ready to go in the oven.


Serve nice and hot and bubbly around the edges. It's really good with whipped cream or ice cream. I like it with a little evaporated milk, but that's me. It's a really easy recipe and is expandable. Just double or triple the ingredients and use a larger baking dish. Not nearly as hard as a pie-crust cobbler and tastes really crisp and buttery.