Tag Archives: Italian

After our last pizza con avocado, I have gotten more brazen about putting avocado in the oven.

I’m not really sure why it seemed like a bad idea to me in the first place. Clearly avocado in the oven is A-ok and “guacamole” pizza sauce may become the norm around here. It is far quicker and easier to make than red pizza sauce and the creamy texture is kind of addictive.

We liked this pizza so well that we made it two nights in a row. Maybe that isn’t saying much though. Chris would gladly eat pizza or guacamole for any meal. No, the picture doesn’t do it justice.

Now that I have effectively turned my blog into a photo chronicle of Chris’ pizza eating, I need to know: Does anyone out there take outstanding pizza pictures? It is a skill that I obviously have not mastered yet, but it is time that I learn!


  • Pizza dough (I used 1/4 of this recipe and froze the rest for later.)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 tbsp salsa verde
  • cumin, ground coriander to taste
  • splash lime juice
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup hominy (Corn would be fine also, but I prefer the texture of hominy.)
  • 1 small tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 oz Manchego cheese, shredded


  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees with a pizza stone in it if you have one.
  • To make “guacamole” pizza sauce:
    • Combine avocado, lime juice, and salsa verde in a small food processor and pulse to blend.
    • Season avocado mixture to taste with cumin and ground coriander.
  • Sprinkle cornmeal on a sheet of parchment paper then roll and stretch dough to form pizza.
  • Spread the avocado sauce onto the pizza. (Save leftover sauce for a sandwich spread!)
  • Evenly distribute black beans, hominy, tomato, and shallot over the top of the pizza.
  • Top with shredded cheese.
  • To transfer the pizza to the oven, carefully pick up parchment, place on pizza stone, then slide parchment out from under the pizza.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and pizza crust is lightly browned.

Servings ~ 2
Calories ~ 542, Fat ~ 23 g, Carbohydrates ~ 63.8 g, Protein ~ 21 g

Before our long run on Saturday I was looking for some kind of carby breakfast. Mostly bread, maybe some veggies, and of course eggs because I have been an egg eating machine lately. I am usually a bit hesitant to try new foods before long runs, but we planned on running later in the day and I had already tried out each component of this as a pre-run breakfast, so I decided to give it a go.

I was disappointed that the avocados turned brown in the oven because I thought that took away from the asthetics of the pizza, but the vibrant yellow egg yolks more than made up for it. This pizza was so fresh tasting and the aroma that wafted out of the oven each time I checked on it was just incredible.

Overall, this was a huge win. We both commented that we could definitely serve this to other people and even discussed having it again. Maybe even for dinner.


  • 1/4 cup julienned rutabaga (Finely chopped potato would work fine too.)
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pizza dough (I used 1/4 of this recipe.)
  • corn meal for flouring
  • 1/4 clove elephant garlic (or 1/2 clove garlic), minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced


  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees with a pizza stone in it if you have one.
  • Toss rutabaga (or potato) in 1 tsp olive oil until it is lightly coated, season with salt and pepper, then saute over a medium-high heat until lightly browned, then set aside.
  • Sprinkle cornmeal on a sheet of parchment paper then roll and stretch dough to form pizza.
  • Lightly brush the crust with the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil, then distribute minced garlic over the crust.
  • Crack three eggs onto the crust being careful not break the yolks.
  • Arrange rutabaga “hash browns” and shallots on top of the eggs, sprinkle with Mozzarella, and place avocado slices on top of the cheese.
  • To transfer the pizza to the oven, carefully pick up parchment, place on pizza stone, then slide parchment out from under the pizza.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and pizza crust is lightly browned.
  • Note: If you prefer not to eat the egg yolks, they can be left out or easily removed with a spoon after baking, but they do make for a much prettier pizza.

Servings ~ 2 to 3

1/3 pizza w/whole eggs
Calories ~ 349, Fat ~ 15.4 g, Carbohydrates ~ 37.6 g, Protein ~ 15.6 g

1/2 pizza w/whole eggs
Calories ~ 523, Fat ~ 23.1, Carbohydrates ~ 56.4 g, Protein ~ 23.4 g

1/3 w/egg whites only
Calories ~ 304, Fat ~ 11.1 g, Carbohydrates ~ 37.6 g, Protein ~ 15.2 g

1/2 pizza w/egg whites only
Calories ~ 456, Fat ~ 16.7 g, Carbohydrates ~ 56.4 g, Protein ~ 22.8 g

Shrimpy pizza…big flavor!

Duke supervising the pizza making process.

A few weeks ago while Chris and I were up late sorting Africa pictures, he made himself a snack. It was a pizza-like concoction that he chose to dunk in a mixture of Dijon mustard and Thai sweet chili sauce.

At first, I was mildly grossed out by the whole thing. Finally, curiosity got the best of me and I asked Chris for a taste. It was out of this world! I wanted some.

In fact, I didn’t just want some, I wanted a whole meal centered around this delicious sauce. At first we were thinking some kind of chicken pizza, but after assessing the ingredients we had on hand, this is what we came up with.

As we set out to make it, I never intended to blog this recipe. I simply didn’t think it could possibly be that good. But it was. Maybe our best pizza yet!


  • ~ 3 tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
  • ~ 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Pizza dough (1/4 recipe)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cabbage
  • 2 oz salad shrimp, cooked and blotted dry
  • 3 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 oz Manchego cheese, shredded


  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. (With pizza stone in oven if you have a pizza stone!)
  • In a small bowl, stir together Thai sweet chili sauce and Dijon mustard. Start with a 3:1 ratio of chili sauce to mustard, then adjust to taste based on your preference for sweet or spicy.
  • On a surface lightly coated with corn meal, stretch and shape pizza dough into desired shape.
  • Spread chili/mustard sauce in a light, even coat over the pizza dough.
  • On top of the sauce, layer cabbage, shrimp, onion, cilantro, and finally cheese.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and the crust is a golden brown.

Servings ~ 2 to 3 (Two for us because we’re piggy.)
Calories (per 1/2 pizza) ~ 444, Fat ~ 11 g, Carbohydrates ~ 60 g, Protein ~ 20 g

Southern Indiana is almost the least snowy place that I have ever lived. Indiana in general is far less snowy than anywhere else that I have lived.

“But wait, that’s a good thing, right?”

Not so fast. You see, each place has had essentially the same winter temperatures.

Place Avg. Yearly
Avg. January
Temperature (F)
Southern Indiana 15″ 20
Upstate NY 65″ 9
Northern Indiana 14″ 16
Southern Tier NY 55″ 15
Happy Valley, PA 46″ 19
Northern NJ 41″ 17

Data Source

If we could equate lack of snowfall to balmy warm weather, the “no snow is a good thing” argument would hold some water. But, when we have to deal with chilly temperatures but not receive enough snow to do anything fun outside…

…well, that’s just a bummer.

Lucky for me, we are experiencing record snowfall here this winter and we have already made two trips to our local “mountain” for snowboarding. After a long day on the snow, this warm, comfort-foody dish really hit the spot!

My only complaint is that the cooking time is a bit long to follow a day out on the ski slopes. Definitely a lazy day meal. (Or should that be not a lazy day meal due to the cooking time?)

Adapted from Cara’s Cravings.


  • 1/2 lb dry cannellini beans
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 lb peeled, diced rutabaga
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp yogurt butter
  • ~ 1/4 cup milk, as needed (I used skim.)
  • 1 pound bitter greens, such as dandelion, broccoli rabe, collards, or turnip greens


  • Prepare beans by soaking them overnight in several inches of water.
  • Drain and rinse the beans, then begin to boil them in a large pot covered by a few inches of water over a high heat.
  • Add the rutabaga and a sprinkle of salt and reduce the temperature to medium-high.
  • Stir occasionally as the beans and rutabaga continue to boil, adding water as needed.
  • While the beans and rutabaga cook, prepare the greens.
    • Wash and chop the greens, then place them in a large pot and cook them over a medium-high heat, covered, for about 30 minutes until they have wilted.
    • Stir the greens occasionally, adding water as necessary to keep them from burning.
    • When they have finished cooking, drain the water off of the greens, season to taste with salt and pepper, then set them aside. (Try to keep them warm for serving.)
  • After about an hour, the beans will begin to break down and the rutabaga will become tender.
  • Continue cooking until the water has evaporated.
  • When the consistency has thickened, remove the pot from the heat.
  • Add the butter, then beat with a hand mixer until smooth adding milk as necessary.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Divide the cannellini and rutabaga purée into five bowls, and top with the warm, tender greens.

Servings ~ 5
Calories ~  235, Fat ~ 3 g, Carbohydrates ~ 40 g, Protein ~ 15 g

After last winter’s love affair with Mac and Cheese with Squash and Peas and my obsession last fall with Pumpkin Ravioli, I knew that I had to try this recipe as soon as possible. It is essentially a hybrid of my two favorite pasta dishes and it did not disappoint.

Sunday afternoon I spent a few hours attempting to cook enough meals to last us for the whole week. It worked out pretty well. As of Thursday morning we still have two portions of food remaining for Thursday night dinner. For a long time, I did a weekly Sunday cooking marathon. I can’t quite remember why I stopped.

It may have come to and end during a phase of grocery list apathy. Cooking everything on Sunday means writing all of the necessary ingredients on the same grocery list in time for weekend grocery shopping. 

Another theory is that I stopped doing it when we joined our CSA. The CSA seemed like a nice idea, but the Wednesday produce pickup did not fit in all that well with our Saturday grocery shopping scheme. It had me going to the grocery store on Wednesdays and Saturdays which was far too often for my taste.

Whatever the case, I may need to revive that ritual so we can have another week mashed potato free.

Adapted from Meet Me on the Corner of Peachtree and Peachtree.


  • 1 13.25 oz box whole grain pasta
  • 2 tbsp reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1.75 cups pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 5 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • heavy-handed sprinkles of salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil
  • dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, dried marjoram


  • Cook pasta, drain, then return to pot.
  • Set burner to a low heat, then mix in the remaining ingredients.
  • Cover and let it sit on low heat until the spinach is completely wilted.
  • Add additional milk as needed.

Servings ~ 8
Calories ~ 264, Fat ~ 5.4 g, Carbohydrates ~ 42.3 g, Protein ~ 12.2 g

I am happy to report that I survived the onslaught of Halloween candy and managed to only eat 15% of the goods (but 45% of the Butterfingers). I’m not sure if that is particularly impressive considering that we had 30 full-size candy bars and I ate 4.5 of them in 36 hours. Wow, that sounds gross.

I love Butterfingers.

Thankfully, Chris brought the remaining 20 some-odd candy bars to work with him to eliminate them spread Halloween cheer to his co-workers and gain popularity in his water cooler circle. Ok, we don’t really have water coolers at work, but Chris does have a cubicle right next to his local printer, so he gets pretty heavy traffic at his desk and never has a problem giving away candy or baked goods.

In addition to my Butterfinger binge this weekend, Chris and I also had Mexican Pizza.  We had leftovers from fajitas, but not enough leftovers to have fajitas again, so…


  • pizza crust
  • Mexican pizza sauce
  • 3 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz leftover steak from steak fajitas, diced
  • 1/3 cup sauteed onions
  • 1/3 cup sauteed bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 small tomato, chopped and drained
  • sour cream for dipping


  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees with a pizza stone inside.
  • Roll out pizza dough and sprinkle it lightly with cornmeal on both sides to prevent it from sticking to the pizza stone.
  • Top the pizza first with Mexican pizza sauce, then with cheeses, steak, onions, peppers, black beans, and corn.
  • Place the pizza in the oven on the pizza stone, the easiest way is to use a pizza peel, and bake until the crust begins to brown and the cheese is fully melted, usually 10-12 minutes.
  • While the pizza is baking prepare any additional cold toppings such as avocado, tomato, and sour cream.
  • Remove pizza from oven, top with any cold toppings, then enjoy!

Servings ~ 2-3
Calories ~ I’m not even going to attempt this one, it depends on your toppings and your pizza crust.

After we decided on Mexican Pizza for dinner on Saturday night, we knew that standard pizza sauce wouldn’t do, so I began scouring the internet for a good recipe. Nothing was really catching my eye until I saw this one.

“Chris, do you want to try Mexican pizza sauce from a Mexican inmate?”

“Wait, you found a recipe from some guy in a Mexican jail?”

“Not exactly, he is a Mexican guy in a Connecticut jail. Do you want to try that one?”

“Sure, it has to be good!”

It sure was! The only issue I had was the quantity of sauce it makes. Most of it ended up in my freezer for future Mexican Pizzas.

Note: Vinny works at the prison, he is not the actual inmate.

Adapted from Vinny DiLeo.


  • 1.75 cups diced stewed tomatoes
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1/4 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove elephant garlic, sliced
  • 1 small jalapeno sliced with seeds removed
  • 1/2 tsp orageno
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder


  • Combine ingredients in a food processor.
  • Blend for several minutes until smooth and well combined.

Servings ~ Makes enough for three to four large pizzas.
Calories (per recipe) ~ 251, Fat ~ 2 g, Carbohydrates ~ 57 g, Protein ~ 12 g

When I decided to do a Caesar dressing post, I envisioned a beautiful Caesar salad with shaved Parmesan and perfectly browned home-made crutons. I did make some pretty nice looking crutons, but I failed miserably with the shaved Parmesan.

I forgot to buy “real” Parmesan at the grocery store, so I was relegated to dressing my salad with the bottled kind. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it certainly didn’t have the same effect in pictures as the shaved variety. As a means to compensate for my lack of shaved cheese, I decided to fry up some of the “fake” stuff into Frico Crisps.


Ingredients (per crisp):

  • 1 tsp yogurt butter
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


  • Melt butter in a skillet over a medium heat.
  • Sprinkle Parmesan in the skillet and swirl the skillet around to coat the bottom of the skillet.
  • Cook Parmesan for 3 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
  • Carefully flip the crisp and cook for not quite a minute.
  • Place crisp on a paper towel on a flat surface to cool.
  • When cooled, cut into desired shapes.

Servings ~ 1
Calories ~ 129, Fat ~ 9 g, Carbohydrates ~ 1 g, Protein ~ 10 g

When I go for my fruit and veggie pickup at my CSA it is kind of like an assembly line. I go down the line and take the designated number of each item out of its box. It is pretty good as long as you get there early. I make a point to go during lunch because it is always pretty picked over by the time I get finished with work.

Last week the last items on the table were pumpkins. Not jack o’lantern style pumpkins. Just little guys in a deep orange color. I immediately though “What the heck am I going to do with this?” We are not really “seasonal decorators” at Duke’s House.

Sadly, last year we didn’t even bother to put up our Christmas tree. Yes, it is that bad. Part of that was Duke’s fault. He was still just a little guy and we didn’t trust him not to eat it or knock it over.

This year Duke+Christmas tree will still be a little dicey. He has about zero sense of spacial relations and has no idea where his tail is and what it may be knocking over. Maybe next year. With plastic ornaments. 

Back to the pumpkin. I finally read the CSA newsletter that tells you what types of fruits and veggies you have. Usually this whole identifiying the produce thing is pretty self-explanatory, but it was helpful to know that the ugly little pumpkin was a pie pumpkin. Aha!

Knowing that if I baked a pie Chris would have one slice and I would end up devouring the remainder, I decided to find an alternate use for that thing. Pumpkin Ravioli it is. Yet another dish to get the Duke’s House “We could serve this to other people.” seal of approval!

This was seriously good. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers!


From The Picky Eater.


  • For ravioli
    • 1 1/4  cups  pumpkin purée
    • 2  tablespoons  dry breadcrumbs
    • 2  tablespoons  fresh grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
    • 1/2  teaspoon  minced fresh sage
    • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/8  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
    • 28 wonton wrappers, round would be best
    • 1  tablespoon  cornstarch
    • Cooking spray
  • For Gorgonzola Sauce
    • 1  cup  fat-free milk
    • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2  tablespoons  butter
    • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • Garnish
    • 3  tablespoons  chopped walnuts, toasted


  • Spoon pumpkin onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels, and spread to 1/2-inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand 5 minutes.
  • Scrape the pumpkin into a medium bowl using a rubber spatula. Stir in breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, minced sage, pepper, and nutmeg.
  • Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep from drying), spoon 2 teaspoons pumpkin mixture into the center of wrapper.
  • Brush edges of wrapper with water and fold in half, pressing edges firmly with fingers to form a half-moon.
  • Place on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch. Repeat procedure with remaining wonton wrappers and pumpkin mixture.
  • Fill a large pot with water; bring to a simmer.
  • Add half of ravioli to the pot (cover remaining ravioli with a damp towel to keep from drying).
  • Cook 2 minutes or until done (do not boil), stirring gently.
  • Remove ravioli with a slotted spoon; lightly coat with cooking spray, and keep warm.
  • Repeat procedure with remaining ravioli.
  • To improve the texture of the wontons, heat a pan over medium heat, spray it lightly with cooking spray, and quickly pan-fried the ravioli to make their texture “crispier” and more ravioli like on the outside.
  • Combine milk and flour in a saucepan, stirring with a whisk.
  • Bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat. Add butter, stirring until butter melts.
  • Gently stir in Gorgonzola.
  • Place 7 ravioli in each of 4 shallow bowls, and drizzle each serving with 4 tablespoons Gorgonzola mixture.
  • Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons walnuts.
  • Serve immediately.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 350, Fat ~ 12 g, Carbohydrates ~ 48 g, Protein ~ 14 g

Last night, I ruined Chris’s beloved baguettes.

Sounds cruel, doesn’t it? It wasn’t meant to be. I was simply trying to use up the cool yellow tomato that my CSA gave me last week.

“So you ruined a baguette with a tomato”, you ask? Yep, sure did.

Enter: Bruschetta. Chris’s culinary nemesis, he is not a big fan of raw tomatoes. Ironic considering that he loves salsa. What an amazing transformation tomatoes can make when we cook them!

This bruschetta was very tasty, although I think red plum tomatoes might have suited it better. I also would have liked more olive oil in the bruschetta, but I was trying to cook something that I wouldn’t feel bad about eating. What a delicate balance that can be!

Here you have it, Yellow Bruschetta!


  • 1 large yellow tomato
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 loaves French Bread
  • olive oil spray


  • Parboil the tomato for one minute in boiling water that has just been removed from the burner, then drain.
  • Using a sharp small knife, remove the skins of the tomato.
  • Once the tomato is peeled, cut it into small pieces, discarding the stem area. 
  • As you chop the tomato, place it in a strainer to drain off the excess juice.
  • Pre-heat oven to broil.
  • Combine garlic, 1 tsp olive oil, vinegar, chopped basil, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
  • Gently mix in the tomato, then adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  • Slice the baguette on a diagonal into thin slices about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Lightly spray both sides of the bread with olive oil spray.
  • Place on a baking sheet and toast on the top rack until one side is lightly browned.
  • Flip the bread and continue toasting until the second side is lightly browned.
  • Arrange the baguette slices on a serving platter and place some topping on each slice of bread. (Make sure to top immediately before serving to prevent the bread from getting soggy.) 

Servings ~ 8
Calories ~ 211, Fat ~ 3 g, Carbohydrates ~ 39 g, Protein ~ 6 g