Pulled Pork BBQ Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Pulled Pork BBQ Pizza! Need a break from ordinary pizza? Here’s a unique twist on an old classic. Take southern pulled pork, usually served on a toasted bun, lose the bread, and spread the pork over pizza crust instead. Tangy barbecue sauce is used in lieu of marinara, providing just enough zing to alert the taste buds. Since barbecue sauces come in a multitude of options from hickory smoke to brown sugar sweet, you may want to blend two flavors together like I’ve done here. The results will astound you.

PULLED PORK BBQ PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 prepared pizza crust

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon cornmeal

3/4 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup chili cocktail sauce

1 cup pulled pork

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Rub both sides of prepared pizza crust with olive oil. Season bottom with garlic powder. Sprinkle cornmeal over the bottom side. Bake on a pizza stone for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Combine barbecue sauce and chili cocktail sauce. Mix well. Spoon onto pizza dough. Top with pulled pork and mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.

Nature’s Tomato Naan

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Nature’s Tomato Naan. Who likes ooey gooey melted mozzarella cheese? I do, I do! Now add nature’s juicy ripened tomatoes for fresh garden flavor that will have you wiping your chin after the first bite. Be careful of those cheese pulls, though. Steam may be trapped between the naan crust and the pizza stone. Besides, there’s nothing worse than burning the roof of your mouth from lack of patience. Let your eyes create desire. After all, everyone wants eating to be an enjoyable experience.

NATURE’S TOMATO NAAN

Ingredients:

One prepared naan crust

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 Campari tomatoes, sliced

5 grape tomatoes, sliced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spread olive oil on both sides of naan bread. Sprinkle cornmeal over bottom crust. Sprinkle garlic powder over top crust. Place cornmeal side down on a pizza stone. Bake for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, slice tomatoes on a cutting board. Sprinkle tomatoes with sea salt, oregano, basil, and marjoram. Remove naan from oven. Carefully layer mozzarella cheese over crust. Then arrange sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Bake 15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with parmesan cheese before serving.

Tomato Herb Cheese Naan

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Tomato Herb Cheese Naan! The other day I sent my husband to the grocery store with a short list of produce items. Sounds simple, right? Within 15 minutes, I had several frantic texts asking me to clarify the type of tomatoes I needed him to buy. Perhaps you can understand his quandary. Years ago, a shopper had their choice of garden tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. Nowadays, you practically need an Old Farmer’s Almanac to clarify all the different varieties like Cherry, Grape, Green, Roma, Beefsteak, Campari, Cocktail, San Marzano, and Vine-Ripened tomatoes. Sheesh! All I really wanted were fresh tomatoes.

TOMATO HERB CHEESE NAAN

Ingredients:

1 prepared naan, store bought

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

6-8 cocktail tomatoes, sliced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

Fresh oregano leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. Brush the bottom of the naan. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Transfer naan to the baking sheet, bottom side down. Bake 5 minutes. Remove pan and set aside. Meanwhile, to prepare tomatoes, arrange sliced cocktail tomatoes on a cutting board; sprinkle with kosher sea salt. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Arrange sliced fresh mozzarella over naan. Layer with cocktail tomatoes. Sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano, basil, and marjoram. Bake 15 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted and golden. Cool slightly, cut into portions. Garnish with fresh oregano leaves. Serve warm.

Spinach Ricotta Flatbread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Spinach Ricotta Flatbread! Savory flatbreads have to be on my Top 10 list of foods to make. Growing up as a child of the ‘60s, Sunday nights were the night for pizza. Because my mother cooked well-balanced meals all week, she boldly declared Sundays “Pizza Night”. Back then it still meant she made homemade pizza because we lived in the country and, to my knowledge, there was no such thing as pizza delivery. Years later, while raising my own children, I adopted her “modus operandi” and to this day I still honor it. Sometimes I make the dough from scratch, and other times I take a shortcut by using prepackaged flatbreads found in the bakery department of the grocery store. The toppings change according to the mood of the day and the ingredients in the kitchen. So far, no complaints from the husb.

SPINACH RICOTTA FLATBREAD

Ingredients:

1 flatbread, prepackaged

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/2 cup marinara sauce

3/4 cup ricotta

1 cup grilled chicken, precooked and cubed

1 cup baby spinach leaves, stems trimmed

1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush both sides of flatbread with olive oil. Sprinkle bottom side with cornmeal. Place flatbread, bottom side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Spread marinara sauce evenly over top of flatbread. Place dollops of ricotta cheese over marinara sauce, leaving 1/2” perimeter around the edge. Arrange grilled chicken and baby spinach leaves as the next layer. Sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan cheeses over top. Garnish with dried oregano and red pepper flakes. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly gooey. Remove flatbread from oven. Allow to cool for 2 minutes before cutting into slices. Serve warm with extra marinara sauce for dipping.

Uber Hasselback Caprese Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Uber Hasselback Caprese Salad! Want to do something fancy-schmancy? Take ordinary garden Roma tomatoes (the oval kind) and cut them in such a way that they fan out a little bit like an accordion. Then, using your fingers, tuck slices of cheese and fresh herbs in between. It’s so simple, yet looks incredibly delish as a side salad. This is why we like food so much. It becomes a dining experience versus chowing down.

UBER HASSELBACK CAPRESE SALAD

Ingredients:

3 Roma tomatoes

3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

13-16 fresh basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon Everything But Bagel seasoning

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette

Instructions:

Judging by the size of each tomato, make 4-5 slices, stopping before the knife cuts completely through. Transfer tomatoes to a serving dish. Fill each slit with a mozzarella slice. Tuck in spaces with fresh basil leaves. Sprinkle Everything But Bagel seasoning over all. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.

Yellow Pepper Spaghetti

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Yellow Pepper Spaghetti! You know how spaghetti always tastes better the second day? There’s something about those savory spices intensifying the sauce and melding it with the pasta. Some of it has to do with starch, I’m told, but I don’t want to get too scientific. I’ll trust my taste buds to go with the flow. Because my garden has a bounty of peppers right now, this seemed like a natural progression. Stuff ‘em. Not only did the leftover spaghetti taste amazing, but the yellow pepper added it’s own smoother mild flavoring. Not bitter. Not sweet. Just right. Maybe you’ll come to the same conclusion.

YELLOW PEPPER SPAGHETTI

Ingredients:

4 yellow peppers, whole

4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 cups of leftover cooked spaghetti in marinara sauce

Chopped tomatoes, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut off the top of each yellow pepper and remove the insides. Rinse and drain. Stand peppers upright in a baking dish. Put a heaping tablespoon of mozzarella cheese in the bottom of each yellow pepper. Then stuff each pepper with the leftover cooked spaghetti in marinara sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil, divide remaining cheese over the tops. Garnish with chopped tomatoes and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

Manicotti Pasta Bowl

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Manicotti Pasta Bowl! Comfort food. We all have our favorites. Some include melted cheese, rich chocolate, home made soups, or peanut butter sandwiches. And then there’s pasta; guardian of the energy boost. Not only is pasta a healthy option, it satisfies by keeping hunger pangs at bay. Being affordable, versatile, and nutritious make it even more enjoyable. And a little pasta goes a long way. We all know that. Sure, pasta is a carb…but in a good way. It partners well with low fat protein and veggies. Go, Team Pasta!

MANICOTTI PASTA BOWL

Ingredients:

6 manicotti shells

3/4 pound lean ground beef

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

3 cups prepared spaghetti sauce, chunky

1 ounce cream cheese, softened

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh basil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook manicotti shells according to package directions. Drain shells; rinse in cold water. Set aside. In a large skillet, brown ground beef until cooked and crumbled. Remove from heat. Drain liquid. Add sea salt, oregano, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder. Pour prepared spaghetti sauce over meat. Mix well. Spoon 1/3 of meat mixture into the bottom of two single-serving casserole dishes. Add softened creamed cheese and mozzarella cheese to the remaining meat mixture. Stuff each shell with filling. Arrange three filled manicotti shells in a row over sauce. Repeat in second casserole dish. Spread remaining filling over the tops of the stuffed shells. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 15 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Remove from oven; serve in casserole dish. Garnish with fresh basil.

Kid-Friendly Pizza Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Kid-Friendly Pizza Toast! If it’s one food item that catches a kid’s attention on the cafeteria menu, it’s pizza. After all, Pizza checks the right boxes in the following food group categories: grain, milk, meat, and vegetable. What I like about this kid-friendly recipe is the fact that adults control the quality of ingredients. Plus, by involving the youngsters you’re feeding, they can feel good about making healthy choices. For instance, substitute plain white bread with crusty artisan varieties. Choose 90% lean meat. Nix the high fructose corn syrup brand of ketchup for the organic one. Try pimentos for natural sweetness. The opportunities are endless.

KID-FRIENDLY PIZZA TOAST

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef sirloin

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup tomato ketchup

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/4 cup diced pimentos

6 slices artisan bread

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef until cooked and crumbled. Drain excess liquid. Reduce heat to low. Add sea salt, ketchup, lemon juice, vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard. Stir well. Add chopped yellow onions, green peppers, and diced pimentos. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°. Butter one side of artisan bread. Place buttered side down on a baking sheet. Top with spoonfuls of pizza mixture. Sprinkle on mozzarella cheese. Bake 15 minutes until cheese melts and toast is crunchy. Bada-bing-bada-boom!

Aubergine Mini Pizzas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Aubergine Mini Pizzas! Lately I’ve been exploring different ways of making gluten-free pizza. So, naturally, when I discovered using an eggplant slice to replace the dough, I had to jump on the low-carb bandwagon to celebrate the merits of healthy choices. Talk about satisfying! Don’t believe me? Check my fellow foodie at http://chefkresorecipes.wordpress.com/2018/02/21 who gave me the idea. Yes, you still get marinara sauce. And of course, cheese toppings are a must-have. The secret to the incredible taste is Italian herbs, in my opinion. But be forewarned, you absolutely cannot skip the first step of “weeping” the bitter juices from the eggplant slices before assembling. Just be sure to allow at least half an hour for that process. Then you’re good-to-go.

AUBERGINE MINI PIZZAS

Ingredients:

1 eggplant

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon corn meal

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, chunky

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh basil leaves, chopped

Instructions:

Cut off ends of the eggplant; discard. Slice remaining into 3/4” equal sections. Sprinkle kosher salt on both sides of each slice and transfer eggplant onto paper towels to “weep” for 30 minutes. Set aside to allow the towels to absorb the liquid. Then rinse well. Pat dry. Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush one side of each eggplant slice with olive oil. Dust with cornmeal. Place each slice face down on the parchment paper. Then brush the tops with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle on oregano, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and layer each eggplant slice with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. Top with freshly chopped basil. Return to the oven. Change setting to Broil. Watch carefully. Remove after a couple minutes when cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.