Sunday, July 31, 2011

Some Sauce to Put on Those Pizza Bones

I gave you the pizza bone recipe, but not the sauce recipe! I make Mama D's sauce because I usually make her crust and they do rather suit each other nicely. When I make a Mama D recipe, I almost always change the same things. I reduce the oil, either eliminate or dramatically cut the salt, increase the garlic, and jazz it up with something like red pepper flakes and some other spices depending on what's needed. The doctor would not like it if I used all that salt and when you cut salt you really do have to ramp up the other seasonings.

Pizza Sauce 

The nutrition facts for the sauce and for my favorite toppings can be found at Calorie Count!


1 29 oz can tomato puree
3 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/4 t or so of fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 t oregano
1 t or so of garlic powder
A dash or three of red pepper flakes
Often I add a small pinch or two of sugar it all depends on the acidity of the tomatoes.

Directions with cautionary notes:

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot. The seasoning amounts are the minimum, not the maximum or the precise amount needed. Start there and then tweak til it suits you. I add about twice or so what is listed. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. Ok, NOT uncovered or you will get a lot of pretty red blotches all over your kitchen, so put the lid on but leave it tilted so steam escapes and stick that spoon in and stir fast when you stir - a chef's apron is highly recommended or keep the stain stick handy.

Taste and adjust seasonings so that it's the way YOU like it. Ladle on a couple of pizza crusts and top with some wonderful things like basil and gorgeous hunks of fresh mozzarella. This makes more than enough sauce for 3-4 pizzas. Save your leftovers and put it on flat bread or muffins and use your toaster oven to make great individual pizzas!

Homemade pizza is the ultimate Mindful experience and well worth the effort. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

West Indies Rice and Green Peas

I was tooling around the internet looking for something to make for dinner last night that used rice. My fall back rice dishes are things like black beans and rice (sometimes I add sausage) or my fave wild rice that I talked about in an earlier post with stuffed acorn squash. Most of what I found were recipes I had done before or was not interested in. When I added "hot pepper" to the search, I found a few recipes with a different sort of flare that included things like coconut milk and the amazing Scotch Bonnet pepper. I took an idea from this recipe, a bit of stuff from that recipe, combined it with the things I had on hand, and made this deliciously fragrant dish.

It turned out a little on the risotto side of creamy and I'd really rather the rice was more fluffy, but that's easy to fix and I've made the changes in the directions below. If you want it more risotto-like instead of fluffy, add your peas while still frozen about 10 minutes before the rice is actually done and short yourself a bit on the liquid at the start so that you have to add more a bit at a time near the end and stir a bit. That will creamy it right up and is exactly how I made it yesterday. How many servings depends on how you use it - as a side or as a main dish, do you have a small appetite or are you feeding teenage boys, etc. If you are concerned about calories and such make sure you use the lower fat coconut milk. If you want more nutrition, reduce the rice and increase the peas and onions...or consider adding slivers of carrots or sweet red pepper, which would be quite mindfully pretty.

West Indies Rice and Green Peas

Ingredients with some directions and commentary:

1 T olive oil
1/2-1 cup of chopped onion - all depends on how much you love onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups brown rice. Use the kind you like and trust to turn out right every time. Next time I will use Uncle Ben's quick to cook in 10 minutes brown rice as I know it will turn out fluffy for me as I frequently have a problem cooking brown basmati to a state of fluffiness. Not that this is bad it's just a taste thing for several in my family.
1 (one) de-seeded and diced Scotch Bonnett pepper, or 1-2 jalapenos ditto on dicing, or 1 jalapeno and 1 hot chili pepper, or 1 t crushed red pepper (use what you have or can find and do not touch a Scotch Bonnet unless you just love it when your mouth is on fire and you become a tad dewy - see note below on how to dice one safely)
1 t thyme
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, I use low or no sodium - this is one of those amounts that will depend totally on the type of rice you use so check your package for recommended amounts and remember that you are adding coconut milk to the thing.
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup peas - either fresh or thawed from frozen and room temperature

More Directions with Special Warnings:

In a Dutch Oven or heavy pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium and saute the onion til it is clear. Stir in the garlic and jalapenos (that's what I used as that's what I had last night - do not add the Scotch Bonnets here if you are using one of those) and saute for another minute. Add the rice and thyme and saute another minute.

Add broth and coconut milk (and Scotch Bonnet if you are using one), bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. When the water is almost completely absorbed add the peas. How long this takes depends on your rice. Quick cooking 10 minute Uncle Ben's or the 50 minute regular brown. When the rice is done, remove from heat, keep covered, and set aside til dinner. Fluff up before serving.

You might be one of those rice cooker people. The things leave me befuddled and I have failed in each attempt to use one. If you love your rice cooker you should be able to figure out how to make this recipe in one. Sauteing your veggies in a pan and then adding it to the pot with the rest of the stuff should work.

Warning Mr. Smith!!!!! If you have sensitive skin or just because somebody you know might be particularly delicate, do not touch the Scotch Bonnet while de-seeding and dicing. I put the hand holding the pepper inside a plastic sandwich bag so I don't actually touch the pepper. Some people use rubber gloves. If you touch the pepper or its seeds do not put your finger anywhere sensitive (like your eyes mouth or nose) unless you enjoy screaming in pain while your lips and nose are burned off.

Oh, I almost forgot - I don't use salt. If you do, add some at the end. But be mindful of how much you use.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Rocket Burgers

These burgers are the most delicious things I have ever had. It is impossible to mindlessly nosh. The textures, aromas, and colors rock this burger.

To make four fabulous burgers:

1 pound* of ultra lean organic grass fed ground beef or bison meat as you prefer
2 T or so of your favorite steak sauce
1-2 T or so of your favorite southwest seasoning - I love using Prudhomme's Meat Magic. Technically that may be Cajun, but I found that it's perfect used here.
1-3 jalapenos** - depends upon the size, how hot they happen to be, and if you like jalapenos, slice and remove the seeds and membranes if you want to cut the heat.


Your favorite BBQ sauce to brush on the burgers while they cook
4 thick slices super sharp cheddar cheese
8 (or more) thick cut super lean Applewood Smoked Bacon
4 slices of the best tomato possible
slices of onion

* when my son is having dinner with us the burgers must be bigger, so I get two pounds of beef and make six very large thick burgers. Just adjust the seasonings accordingly.

**If someone in our family is not a jalapeno eater, you have my condolences. You don't have to put the jalapenos inside the burgers though. You can de-seed, slice, and put them on the table with the tomatoes, onions, and bacon.

What to do:

Mix the burger, sauce, seasoning, and jalapenos up in a bowl using your hands to thoroughly incorporate everything. Inhale deeply. You should not mostly smell meat. It should make you say "Dang! That smells great!" If it doesn't, add more steak sauce and seasoning. Shape these into four burger patties and set in the fridge on a plate covered with plastic wrap until you are ready to grill them. Set aside four nice slices of super sharp cheddar cheese and have them ready to melt on the burgers.

While the grill is heating up, cook 8 pieces of the best thick cut bacon you can find - preferably an Applewood Smoked Bacon. Set aside covered when done and hold til dinner along with four thick slices of extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Also, slice some tomatoes and onions either to add to the burger or eat on the side. If you like avocado, some slices of that are great too - just remember to squish a fresh lime over them to keep them from browning.

When the grill is ready, brush the burgers with your favorite barbecue sauce and grill. Brush with more sauce as they grill finish by melting the cheese on the top with the grill lid closed. When done bring to the table and serve with more barbecue sauce, steak sauce, tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos.

These are perfect when served with my garlic oven fries - better still when served with both the regular and sweet potato oven fries! A few extra slices of tomato is a great idea as well.

Why are they called Rocket Burgers? The burger was part of an advertising campaign put out by the Texas grocer HEB when Roger Clemens was an Houston Astro and they had him make this for the commercial as an ad for their beef. For a while there, we called them Turncoat Burgers because of his defection to that New York team that will remain nameless. But, we have forgiven him a little now since he suffered so much in the steroid scandal and now call them Rocket Burgers once again.

If you are going to have a burger, have one done the right way, don't fuss the calories (just have them less often) - don't forget to slowly and mindfully enjoy every last wonderful bite.
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Avocado Chicken and Rice

This is one of those dishes that falls into the comfort food category for me. Maybe it's the cheese. You can cheese it up for as much comfort as you need. I've posted the calories here at Calorie Count using slightly less olive oil instead of the butter and using only one cup of the cheese, less avocado, and slightly smaller servings (the calories are for four servings). You can do that, it changes the taste and texture just a little, but it's still very good and a lower calorie way to go. If you are calorie counting, use those portions, otherwise, make it like I do!

I am more likely to make it as described below, easy (also comforting), use some convenience items, and not worry so much about the calories when I'm making it, so I go for more cheese and avocado!

Avocado Chicken and Rice
Ingredients for three main dish servings:

1 T butter (or olive oil)
3 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 T butter (or olive oil)
1 package Low Sodium Chicken Rice-a-Roni
1-2 Hatch chilis either hot or mild as you prefer (or 1 small can hatch chili peppers) - you can use more chilis if you use mild or use a mix!
2 1/2 cups chicken broth or water

2 T chopped cilantro
1-2 C Monterrey jack cheese
3 small avocados, firm but ripe
1 lime cut in half
1 1/2 C Pace Chunky Salsa in medium or hot
extra cilantro for garnish - optional


In a large deep skillet that has a lid, melt the butter over medium heat, add the chicken chunks and saute until browned. Remove to a plate and cover with foil. Add the second T of butter to the pan and pour in the Rice-a-Roni. Stir til the bits of vermicelli are golden brown. Stir in chopped hatch chilis. Add the broth and the bag of seasonings that came with the rice and stir well. Add the chicken to the mix, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes or til the rice is done. Stir in the cilantro and as much Monterrey jack cheese as you like.

You can do the presentation in a couple different ways.

Cut the avocados in half and scoop the seed and squish the lime juice over them.. Set two avocado halves on each plate with the cavity facing up. Spoon in the avocado chicken mixture, top with salsa, sprinkle with more cilantro and serve.

I've also done it as shown in the picture - make a ring of avocado slices and then mound the rice and chicken mix in the center, top with salsa, sprinkle with more cilantro and serve. Or just dice the avocado and sprinkle them on top.

 This recipe is easy to make for four or more, just increase the ingredients accordingly. There's a family size package of Rice-a-Roni that is perfect if you are making this for four.

Enjoy mindfully.