Fun Things to Read on Friday

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Hi Friends!

While I’m in Portland, I thought you could use a few fun links to ring in your Friday. Gateway to the weekend, YESSSSSSSSSS…

1. Speaking of my vacation, I found this Geek’s Guide to Portland ages ago and I’m so happy to have an excuse to use it. Is it odd how excited I am to EAT in Portland? Detox is scheduled for Monday. :)

2. I have been on a bad book binge lately (aren’t those the worst?) so I downloaded a bunch of free books based on this list of The 100 Best First Lines From Novels

3. I love when people break down Food Photography for dummies. Hi, I’m a dummy.

4. The Curator’s Code — attribution on the internet is always such a interesting topic, and in some ways the wild west. Interesting thoughts here.

5. Interesting thoughts on Book Cover Trends & The Female Body. I had never really thought about it. Kelly brings up some great points.

6. Apropos of nothing, if you like Brussels Sprouts, please make this salad.

7. Speaking of food (wait, am I ever not?) I want to try these Cinnamon Chipotle Sliders.

*****
Well, that’s all I can think of at the moment. Did you read anything fabulous this week?

Cauliflower Pizza with Bacon, Brussels Sprouts + Shallots

On Friday night I had a somewhat empty refrigerator and only a miniscule amount of creative energy. Fortunately when I added the two together I came up with this:

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It was the best faux-pizza I’ve ever made, actually. Hands down. It was a cauliflower crust topped with bacon bits, sauteed sliced brussels sprouts and a sprinkle of crispy shallots. When I took the first bite, I realized that this was one of those recipes that needed to IMMEDIATELY make it’s way to the blog.

But I feel the need to make a slight disclaimer: my love for Paleo aside, I am firmly in the camp that pizza has no substitute. Pizza is doughy and bready and indulgent — well, at least the good kind is — and when I hear about things like Cauliflower Pizza Crust — I don’t care how good it is NOT REAL PIZZA CRUST. You will not sell me on the fact that this is as good a Real Pizza.

So I am not making that claim. I will not try to foolishly dissuade you from loving Real Pizza. There is no substitute.

But the thing is, we all need to eat our vegetables, and cauliflower *IS* a pretty yummy and versatile. So when you make that vegetable into something crusty and add some delicious toppings, it actually turns into a pretty amazing (guilt free!) dinner. And a pizza-like dinner, no less.

So even though I do not claim this is will all of a sudden replace your desire for deep dish, I will claim that this will be one of the best Friday night meals you’ve ever had when all you have in your fridge is a few vegetables and a couple slices of bacon.

Ingredients

1 Head of Cauliflower, chopped incredibly fine in the food processor
1 egg, beaten
1 cup of shredded cheese for the crust, more if you want to top your pizza with it as well
1/2 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper
1 tsp salt and pizza (or italian seasoning)
Toppings of Choice — in this case: brussels sprouts, bacon and shallots

Method

Preaheat your oven to 400 degrees

1. Chop your cauliflower in the food processor until it is finely minced. It sounds like a pain but trust me it will be worth it. When it’s shredded into a fine powder, pop it in the microwave in a bowl for 6 minutes. No need to add water or anything. Let it cool for about the same amount of time.

2. Mix in your seasonings, shredded cheese, and beaten egg until it becomes more paste/dough-like

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3. Spread on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper (a must!) until it is fairly thin and looks like a big ol’ pizza crust.

4. Bake for 40 minutes until crust is browned and crispy

Then it’s time for the toppings! Here’s what I did:

5. While crust is baking, fry up some bacon bits in a pan. You know how to do this, it’s easy — I only had 5 slices of bacon and I was fine. But if I would have had more, I would have added more. More Bacon=Better. I think it’s science. Pull those puppies out and lay them on a paper towel somewhere.

6. Then slice up about 8 clean brussels sprouts into ribbons and throw them into the hot bacon renderings. This is always delicious.
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7. When they get nice and sauteed and have a little color on them, pull those out of the bacon renderings too. You can even throw them on your bacon bits sitting there. It’s ok to mix everything together — GET WILD.

8. Thinly slice a whole shallot and throw THAT into the bacon renderings. These renderings are really doing triple duty. Let them get so crispy they almost appear burned.

Wine Break!!!

(Your crust will still be cooking even though your toppings will be done.)

9. Pull out your crust when it’s browned, top with cheese (no sauce!) top with bacon, brussels and crispy shallots and then throw it into the oven for about 5 minutes just until everything is melty and delicious looking.

10. Let it cool about 5 minutes, slice, serve and enjoy.

11. Serve with a salad and then smugly realize you are eating A LOT of vegetables, even though it feels like you are having Pizza Night!

*****

Do you have any favorite variations on Cauliflower Pizza Crust?

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts

Ah, Brussels Sprouts! Nature’s cruciferous little cast-off.   How can you hate something that is so cute???

Growing up in my house, brussels sprouts (and please note the ‘s’ at the end of brussel so that you won’t be rudely corrected by some bitchy cooking aficionado as I was) were strictly verboten. My father had an unfortunate choking incident with them after being forced to eat them as a child, and let me tell you if there is anything more powerful than a traumatic childhood food memory, I don’t know what it is. 

Just about everyone I’m acquainted with has some story about a time they were forced to eat something, and now as adults they staunchly refuse to partake if for no other reason than ‘because they can.’ As a child this meant no brussels sprouts in our house, at the request of my father, and no seafood of any kind at the request of my mother. The latter is kind of a humorous story for another time, but rest assured I have all but overcome my mother’s hatred of fish and now could live happily as a pescetarian.

But today I want to talk about brussels sprouts.  Deeply delicious brussels sprouts.  And if right now you are thinking that I am at least one card short of a full deck — I urge you to resist judgment, at least until the end of this post.  I mean, it involves bacon, people.  We can reserve judgment if it involves bacon, can’t we?  Okay, so let’s get started with these little delicacies…

So the first rule of Brussels Sprouts Club is Never Talk About Bruss…wait, that’s not right. 

The first rule is No Boiling or Steaming.   If I can impart even a small culinary nugget of widom on you today, let it be this:  If you think you do not like a vegetable, please try it roasted at a high temperature with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.  If you think you REALLY don’t like a vegetable — roast it in bacon drippings.   This is sound advice, I swear.

You see that shiny goodness on your brussels?  That is the magic of bacon!  And it is the result of you rendering about 8 slices of chopped up bacon (or “lardonnes” if you want to be snooty about it) in an oven proof pot or pan (I use a 7 qt Dutch Oven) and then removing those slices of bacon and adding about 2lbs of cleaned brussels sprouts.  While you are at it, give them a little shower of salt and pepper…and don’t be shy about it.  Good seasoning is key here — especially with the salt. 

At this point you are going to pop that bad boy in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes — and the trick here is that you want the sprouts to be in a single layer so they actually roast, not steam.  Steaming makes for a soggy sprout and we want ours to be crusty and delicious when it’s done.  After about 30 minutes your sprouts should be cooked but not completely browned, and at this point you will take them out and throw in what is left of the bacon bits you rendered earlier (c’mon…you know a couple of those pieces made it into your belly, you are only human after all).  Then you want to throw in a little more than a handful of chopped walnuts (whatever looks good to you, you can’t screw that part up) and put them back in the oven altogether for another 10 minutes. 

After 40 minutes of roasting they will look about like this:

And they will smell even more incredible!  At this point, Garrett and I just grab forks and go straight for the pot.  I will assume you are far more civilized than we are, but if not — I really can’t blame you. 
Caramely, nutty, roasty, and of course BACON-Y people, BA-CON-Y.  I just can’t emphasize that enough.
Can you give them another shot?  Seriously.  This recipe might change your life.  
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