Make This Now

So much of life is a Catch -22.  I like planning ahead, but I like to match things to my mood and you can’t plan your mood ahead of time, can you?  That would be nice though!  Good moods every Friday please!  Anyway, this is all to say spring is so up and down and I find it hard to match pre-planned meals to ever-changing weather.  I feel like grilling a burger when it’s 80° and sunny and curry when it’s rainy and gray, but those things can happen in the same day!

I guess this list is comprised of meals that managed to match my mood and the weather.  Those make me extra happy and are the reason I continue to chase that feeling.

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One-Skillet Lemon Pepper Shrimp and Orzo

Do you every just HARD-sear some zucchini coins and then realize they look bad in pictures?  Me neither…  Anyway, we made this skillet dinner a few weeks back and were delighted when the orzo cooked perfectly and tasted wonderfully decadent but still light and citrusy.  Also, we bought a bag of Meyer lemons to make this and I legitimately full on ate the other six?  Joey thought I was insane, but they tasted like candy to me!

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Banh Mi Burgers

Okay, I maybe said “next time I make these, I’m definitely adding more salt to the beef” something like 10 times the night we made these, but they were still REALLY GOOD.  Then again, I’m a sucker for banh mi anything.  Joey asked me “what makes these banh mi burgers??” and I was so confused, because… everything?  Those quick-pickled veggies, that fiery sriracha mayo, all that cilantro!  I loved them.  Also, I’ve tried SO MANY sweet potato fry methods and then I just tossed these in olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them for 30 minutes and I think they were the best ones I’ve ever made, ha!

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Tomato-Ricotta Pizza

Per my Dinner Diary (yeah, I still keep that!), I made this pizza two years ago and not since.  Which is a shame, because it is delicious!  It has a pesto-ricotta and roasted cherry tomatoes and a sprinkling of feta and basil.  So many flavor bombs that just really sing together.  Plus I ate a cherry tomato while prepping this pizza and it had NO RIGHT to taste as good as it did this early in the season.  Not mad about the leftover ricotta I have in the fridge either because it means ricotta pancakes are in my very near future!

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Black Bean and Tempeh Tacos with Cashew Cheese Sauce

These tacos were a breeze because I had leftover cheese sauce from burrito bowls the week before and black beans I’d already cooked from scratch in the freezer.  Look, I’m not really one to enjoy a veggie taco because you know what’s good?  Steak, chicken, shrimp, carnitas!  But these were honestly so good and satisfying.  Also, how good are those corn-wheat blend tortillas?  Thank you, La Tortilla Factory, for this little gift.

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Skillet Poblano and Pumpkin Enchiladas

Two skillet recipes in one post?  You know it!  And let me tell you, skillet enchiladas are way way way easier than real enchiladas.  Joey and I are still traumatized by the time we made enchiladas from scratch (cooked the meat, made the sauce, individually fried the tortillas, milked a cow and made cheese… okay, maybe not that last one) and it took HOURS, but this recipe basically just requires you to stir some tortillas strips into a skillet and that I can do!  Plus all the garnishes just make this meal feel extra special.  There’s a lime yogurt sauce, a sprinkle of salty Cotija and those spiced pepitas.  We loved it!

I hope that you’ll find some inspiration here and that you have a wonderful weekend!

Cast-Iron Skillet Pizza, aka The Very Best Pizza-Making Method

On March 2, 2016, we made our very first cast-iron skillet pizza and life has never been the same.  Okay, maybe that’s dramatic, but then again, maybe it’s not!  This is by far, my favorite pizza we’ve ever made and I am delighted EVERY SINGLE TIME we do so.  The crust is thick but perfectly crispy on the bottom, the cheese is melt-y and golden-brown in places and brushing the hot crust with a little spicy honey is maybe the best pizza-making discovery I’ve ever made.

All this being said, the whole process moves sort of fast and until literally yesterday, I’d never not had pizza-making anxiety the entire time.  I’ve got it down now, so I feel qualified to coach you through it.  Here’s how!

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First, take out your dough and set it on a floured surface (it’s easier to work with when it’s room temp), make sure you have an oven rack in the center of your oven and preheat to the hottest temperature it will go (really!).  Now, grate your cheese, mix some honey, chili flakes and just enough water to thin it out and make it brush-able and tear a good handful of basil leaves.

While your oven is heating, start working your pizza dough.  I personally like to give it a stretch, then let it rest, then give it another stretch, then another rest, and repeat that until it’s big enough to fully fill your cast-iron skillet.  Dough, I find, does not like to be rushed.  Same, dough, same.

Once your dough is stretched and your oven is fully heated, put your flour, cornmeal, olive oil, salt & pepper and pizza sauce next to the stove and preheat your cast-iron over medium-high.  Let it get nice and hot (if it’s smoking, it’s too hot!) then quickly sprinkle with a pinch of flour and like the tiniest amount of cornmeal (I understand the strategy with cornmeal but I do not like tasting those little raw beads of cornmeal so I truly keep it to a minimum).  Drape your dough in the pan, then brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Let your dough cook until bubbles start to form on top.  Once you see those bubbles, spread the pizza sauce over the ENTIRE surface of the dough.  It’ll caramelize into the crust and taste amazing!  Top generously with shredded cheese (mozzarella is our favorite but anything shredded works) and slid the whole pan into the oven.

Cook for 10ish minutes, but keep on eye on it.  The cheese will really bubble, which is FINE, but it will start to turn golden fast and once that happens, it’s time to take the pizza out.  Slide the pizza onto a cutting board and brush the hot honey all over the crust.  Let it sit for 5ish minutes (harder than it sounds!), then top with the basil and admire your work.  Maybe take a picture because IT LOOKS MAGNIFICENT, then slice it up and devour.

YOU GOT THIS!