Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

Anyone that knows me, knows I love pizza. LOVE it. So much that at my last job they hung a pizza box mobile from the ceiling over my desk. Caveat: I do work in design so things like this are completely normal. The thing is, I can eat any kind of pizza, any time of day and be perfectly happy. For me, there is something magical about the combination of tomato sauce, crust and cheese. Robust and crunchy, gooey and savory it really hits all the right notes for me.

I’ve had my cast iron skillet for awhile and have been waiting for just the right moment to experiment with pizza. This past week I attempted it and found it to be a home run. If you have a cast iron skillet I beg you to give it a try. I promise, you will not be disappointed!

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I’m not going to post an ingredient list as pizza toppings are so individual. One thing that is universal however is the crust. If you want to make your own, go for it. If not, buy a good quality premade dough that can be rolled out.

Step-by-Step Directions:

Preheat oven as high as it will go. I preheated mine to 475.

Whisk about a tablespoon of honey, 3 tablespoons of water and some red chili pepper flakes together and set aside.

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Place cast iron skillet on stove top at high temperature. Once the skillet is hot, lightly coat bottom of pan in a dusting of cornmeal and flour.

Next place dough (that you’ve already rolled out a bit) into the skillet and spread out to the edges with your fingers. Be careful! Pan will be hot!

Brush some olive oil on the top of the crust.

Once the crust starts to bubble, sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano. Feel free to add any other herbs you’d like here.

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Now to the toppings. I used fresh pesto, buffalo mozzarella and pizza sauce. You could obviously use anything in your pantry or fridge at this point.

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After placing desired toppings on your pizza, slide into the oven. Be sure to use multiple pot holders as the pan will be hot and heavy.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until toppings are somewhat browned and bubbling. Don’t worry about anything leaking over the edges, it just adds to the flavor.

Pull pizza out of the oven. Set cast iron skillet on a trivet or pot rest. Brush the honey/water/red chili mixture on the crust only. Trust me on this, it adds a nice bite of heat and sweetness to the crust that I found delicious.

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Cut into slices and eat!

The great thing about this recipe is it takes no time at all. Perfect for a weeknight dinner or a Saturday pizza party with friends. And the crust is seriously perfect. I loved the crispness the cast iron skillet gave it. No soggy dough here! Just one happy pizza-loving gal.

Bon appetit!

 

One Pot Chicken with Asparagus

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Looking for an easy weeknight dinner? I promise you this recipe delivers. I discovered it on British chef Jamie Oliver’s website. On paper, it seemed deceptively easy, and lucky for me it was! The only downside? I burnt my finger so bad pulling the ‘hot as hell’ cast iron skillet out of the oven that my right hand was rendered useless while eating. One of the hazards of being the cook I suppose. Make sure you use a oven mitt and not a dish towel that could slip exposing your pinky finger to 400 degree temperatures! Ouch!

I added a couple of my own twists for additional flavor which incorporated into the recipe beautifully. If you aren’t a fan of asparagus, I could see maybe substituting brocollini which I did last night (below). Clearly I like this recipe.

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The key (I think) is a very heavy duty cast iron skillet. Again, watch your fingers and hands! Cast iron creates the perfect sear on the chicken before mixing all the additional ingredients together and slipping into the oven. This is also great when you are scrounging around your fridge and only have two chicken breasts like I did!

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts (feel free to double recipe if feeding a crowd)
  • One bunch asparagus (recipe called for 8 sticks, but I did the whole bunch which was perfect as I love asparagus)
  • One half pint of large cherry tomatoes, chopped in quarters (mine were almost golf ball size) – I probably used 10 in all
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic sliced somewhat thickly (original recipe doesn’t call for this)
  • 1 lemon grated, zest only (original recipe doesn’t call for this)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (original recipe doesn’t call for this)
  • White wine (1/2 cup – 3/4 cup, or enough to cover the bottom of the skillet so that a sauce can be made with the liquid)
  • Balsamic vinegar (I forgot to add this, but honestly it was delicious regardless)
  • Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While oven is heating up, coat chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper and let rest. Chop all garlic cloves into thick slices and set aside. Place cast iron skillet on the stove top and pour in some olive oil (not a ton, maybe a few tablespoons) and some red pepper flakes. While skillet is heating up, add about 2 of the sliced garlic cloves to the pan and allow to brown ever so slightly. Add in chicken (at this point the pan should be HOT!) and sear for a couple minutes on each side (do NOT cook through). While chicken is searing, wash and break the hard part of the asparagus stems off and cut tomatoes into quarters. Season asparagus tomato mixture liberally with salt, pepper, the remaining garlic cloves and some chopped and whole rosemary and place in bowl. Add a few more tablespoons of olive oil and give everything a big stir. Set seared chicken aside.

Add asparagus and tomato ‘garlicky goodness’ mixture to the cast iron skillet. Layer chicken on top and pour white wine around and give everything a quick little stir. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Key: I used a turkey baster to continually baste the chicken with the wine and garlic juices while cooking. Zest lemon and set aside. One minute before chicken is done, open the oven and hit the skillet with lemon zest and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Close oven door door, wait one minute, remove and serve! Note: I forgot the balsamic vinegar which you are supposed to drizzle on top when finished but it was delicious regardless.

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I paired this with Israeli couscous (Pearl couscous) that I cooked the following way. Cut one shallot and add to saucepan with 1 tablespoon of butter and a tiny, tiny bit of olive oil. Lightly brown shallot and then add the couscous (1 1/2 cups) to the pan with some cinnamon and one bay leaf (sounds weird I know but trust me). Give it a few stirs. Add double the liquid (so about 3 cups) chicken stock to the pan. Bring to a boil, then turn low to a simmer and cover and cook til the liquid has been absorbed. Add salt and parsley when finished.

That’s it! This recipe was fast and super, super tasty. I loved the way the wine and tomatoes and garlic created a nice sauce when blasted together at 400 degree temperatures. Be sure to scoop that sauce over everything when serving. Enjoy!

 

 

Avocado Egg Salad

Ummm so yeah, I’m basically trying to clean out my fridge. Hence the recipes using a few similar ingredients these past few posts. But hey, use it or lose it and I’d rather food not spoil if I can help it. I noticed I had two avocados sitting in the SUN and realized if I didn’t start using them up soon they were going to go bad. I also had three eggs in the fridge. Next logical step? Combine the two and make avocado egg salad. With the additional ingredients, this made enough for two servings. You can always double for more!

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Ingredients:
• 3 eggs
• One and a half avocado, pitted and chopped in squares
• One baby Persian cucumber, sliced in half, seeds removed
• 1/4 small red onion, diced
• 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
• Mayonnaise (however much you like for your egg salad)
• Salt and pepper
• Squeeze fresh lemon juice

This recipe is so easy it’s kinda crazy. Boil eggs while assembling ingredients.

Chop one and a half ripe avocado into squares. Slice baby Persian cucumber in half, remove any seeds and chop into bite size pieces. Dice red onion. Add cucumber, avocado and red onion to bowl. Hit it with a splash of fresh lemon juice and give everything a light stir. Add in dijon mustard (I like the kind with the big mustard seeds) and stir again.

Once eggs are cooked and cooled, dice into bite size pieces. Toss eggs into bowl, add desired mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper.

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Told you it was easy. I loved this healthy twist on the traditional egg salad. The crunch of the cucumber gives it a bite and the creamy avocado worked perfectly with the egg. At times I didn’t know whether I was eating an egg or avocado with each bite! Either way, it was delicious. Feel free to serve on bread (partial to Pumpernickel with egg salad) or lettuce cups. Perfect for lunch, perfect for picnics . . . basically just perfect. Enjoy!

Avocado & Shrimp on Toast

So clearly I have a lot of shrimp in my fridge as this is another ‘shrimp-centric’ recipe. This one incorporates avocado – one of my favorite fruits. Yes, avocados are technically a fruit! I was initially craving a BLT but didn’t have any bacon and my lettuce wasn’t that great. This was the next best thing. Anyway, back to the recipe. It’s divine and perfect for a quick, summer lunch. The dressing on top is key!

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Ingredients for Toast:

• 10 large shrimp, thawed
• 2 slices good quality country or seeded bread
• Mayonnaise
• One avocado sliced in half and then into slices, drizzled with lemon juice and salt
• Thin slices of red onion

Ingredients for Dressing:

• Few tablespoons of Olive Oil
• Half of lemon, juiced
• One clove garlic, grated
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 tsp. honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat shrimp in olive oil and any seasonings you like. You could do simple salt and pepper. Or, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic powder. In this case I used a seasoning mix that had elements of a mild taco seasoning. Once seasoned, place on baking sheet covered in foil and bake for six minutes.

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While shrimp is cooking, toast your bread. Slice avocado in half and scoop out one side. Slice into thin pieces. I only used one half avocado for two slices of bread. Tip: If refrigerating the rest of the avocado, leave the pit in…it helps it not turn brown. Spritz the sliced avocado with fresh lemon juice and salt. Thinly slice red onion. Set both aside.

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Time to assemble! Spread a thin or thick layer of mayo on the toasted bread. Next, place your avocado and red onion. Slice baked shrimp into thirds and place on top of the onion. Lastly, drizzle the dressing on top of everything. That’s it! This lunch time sandwich is super quick, healthy and full of delicious flavors. The creamy mayo works well against the zing of the garlic and the spice from the shrimp. Yum! New favorite summer time sandwich. Enjoy and happy Summer Eats!