Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

It Tastes Exactly Like…


Some things really irritate me. One of those things is when people make “food swaps” and say that it tastes EXACTLY like the real thing! It also irritates me when people add healthy ingredients to recipes and say “you can’t even taste it.” That’s how I ended up making today’s recipe, zucchini pizza crust.

zucchini crust 2

A colleague at work was drinking a green smoothie…another person heard us talking about it, chimed in and made the dreaded mistake of saying that she loves green smoothies because she eats veggies she normally wouldn’t because “you can’t even taste it.” This is a lie. Face it. I am not saying that it doesn’t taste good or that you can distinctly say “oh I taste kale”, but it adds a different flavor profile than just drinking a smoothie without veggies. You know I’m right!!

Our conversation then turned to food swaps…you know those things that claim to taste like the real thing but are so much healthier. Pizza crust is a popular one. I’ve seen pizza crust recipes made from sweet potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, and about 100 different Paleo pizza crusts. I decided I wanted to prove my point and so, I came home found some frozen shredded zucchini in the freezer and got to work. I read through numerous zucchini crust recipes, developed my own from what I’d read, and jumped in.

zucchini crust 4

Now, I’m sure this is the point where you are waiting for me to tell you that I was wrong and that faux-pizza crust tastes just like real pizza crust. If you are attuned to the blog world and if you believe in all those picture perfect Pinterest recipes you dutifully pin each day…then yes, you would expect that I was wrong. But…

I was not wrong…it tasted nothing like pizza crust.

However, it did make a great base for my pizza and was a nice alternative to all that flour and carbs. In all honesty, it didn’t really taste like much of anything. I am glad I added some seasonings because this did help the flavor. I may have gotten a little carried away with trying to make it super crispy, so it looks a little dark on the bottom. (Also, what is up with these pictures??? I think a 5 year old could take better pics…I promise to work on this!)

zucchini crust 3

So my point is this…if you want to try to make “faux-foods” and swap out ingredients for healthier ones than go for it. After all, any step to being healthy is a step in the right direction. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking that it is going to replace the real thing. I think all these paleo treats and food swaps just reinforce our toxic relationship with food.

My advice: if you want pizza go ahead and eat a piece…just one piece! Eat most of your meals as they are meant to be and skip the paleo brownies (more on paleo treats in an upcoming post!) and if you just absolutely want a brownie, go ahead and eat a real one (because that paleo brownie does not taste just like the brownie you want and you’ll probably end up eating a whole pan of real brownies after your “healthy” one just didn’t cut it).

It’s all about balance. I know that it’s easier said than done…trust me I have struggled with this all my life. I feel I’m doing pretty well with this now…but I am human and humans just have a hard time breaking bad habits. Just don’t give up. You can do it….and if you mess up along the way don’t give up. Get back on that horse and try again!

zucchini crust 1

Zucchini Pizza Crust

2 cups shredded zucchini, drained of all excess water

½ tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

¼ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 egg, beaten

  1. In a bowl combine the zucchini (make sure to squeeze out all the excess water as much as you can!), garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and shredded mozzarella cheese.
  2. Add the beaten egg a little bit at a time. You don’t want it to be too wet but if it doesn’t stick together add a little more egg.
  3. Mix it all together, spread it out on parchment paper in a nice flat layer…if you have a pizza stone I highly recommend it because it’ll get crispier.
  4. Bake on the pizza stone for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and top with pizza sauce and toppings put back in for 5-10 minutes.

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Ranch Chicken Grilled Pizza


Here is another delicious grilled pizza recipe. For this recipe I did not use my usual “go to” pizza dough recipe, but used one that is a little bit thinner and has a good texture for cooking it on the grill. It is so easy to work with and shape and it’s not sticky at all. When you put it on the grill it may puff up a little but this goes down and ends up nice and crispy. For the chicken you can pretty much make it however you want or use leftovers, but personally I like to make my Grilled Ranch-Style Chicken.  Also, you can use whatever cheese you like, but based on previous attempts at making this I think mild cheddar is the way to go, as it does not overpower or clash with the ranch dressing. Also, I’ve included measurements in the recipe, however they’re just guesstimates so just go ahead and adjust them based on your own tastes. Remember to follow the last step of completely removing the dough from the grill to add the toppings. If you do not do this you will run the risk of burning your pizza!!

 

Ranch Chicken Grilled Pizza

Pizza Dough:

  • 2 tsp. instant/rapid rise yeast
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp. salt
  • 3 – 3 ½ cups flour
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

 ¼ to ½ cup Ranch Dressing

4 oz. cooked boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed (I use Ranch Style Grilled Chicken)

2-3 slices bacon, cooked crisp & crumbled

1 to 1 ½ cups of mild cheddar cheese, shredded.

  1. Combine all the pizza dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough hook attachment, mix the dough on low-medium speed until well combined. Increase the speed and continue to mix until dough forms a smooth ball and no longer sticks to the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into four. Place on a baking sheet and cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes. (If you let it “rest” for longer it’s ok; it will not affect the end result of the dough)
  2. Meanwhile, gather and prepare all other ingredients. Preheat the grill to medium high heat.
  3. After the dough has rested for at least 15 minutes, roll out each piece as flat as possible (be careful not to rip it).
  4. Place the four pieces of dough on the grill for about 2 minutes. Remove the dough completely from the grill (grilled side down) and add the ranch dressing, chicken, bacon and cheese. Return to grill for 3-4 minutes until dough is crisp, toppings are heated through, and cheese is melted.
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Grilled Barbecue Chicken Pizza


Grilled Barbecue Chicken Pizza

For those of you who read my posts regularly, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I love to grill!  I will attempt to grill everything! One of my favorite things to make on the grill is pizza and bread. Grilled pizza has become quite popular over the last few years and with good reason…it tastes great! So here is a really quick and easy meal that everyone will love. Typically this is one of the meals I throw together when I have leftover chicken, but you can always cook your chicken right before making the pizza. If you’ve read how to make grilled pizza you may have been told to oil your dough, but that is actually not necessary. I usually always oil my grill grates because it does help prevent foods from sticking but it also keeps the grates in better condition, however this is also not necessary for pizza. Once the dough firms up it will come right off the grate with no problems. I never measure my ingredients for this so although I’ve included measurements for each ingredient in the recipe ultimately you can just put the toppings on to your own preference.

Grilled Barbecue Chicken Pizza

1 Pizza Dough (homemade or store bought is fine)

1 cup Barbecue Sauce

1 cup Mozzarella Cheese

1 cup Cheddar Cheese

2 slices of cooked bacon

1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded

 1/4 cup chopped red onions

  1. Preheat grill to medium heat.

  2. Divide dough into four and flatten using a rolling pin or your hands.

  3. Place each piece of dough on the grill for 3 minutes over direct heat.

  4. Remove the dough from the grill to add toppings. On the cooked side of the dough, place about 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce, 1 tbsp. onions, 2 tbsp. of shredded chicken over each piece of dough. Crumble the bacon over the pizzas and add the cheese (about 1/4 cup of Mozzarella & 1/4 cup of cheddar on each pizza).

  5. Return the dough to the grill uncooked side down and allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes over direct heat. Then continue to cook the pizzas over indirect heat until the toppings are heated through and the cheese is melted.

  6. Cut into slices or squares and serve!

 

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Slimmed Down Sensations: Whole Wheat Pizza with Chicken and Arugula


As I lie awake at night and mentally compile a list of recipes I want to share on this blog….and as I scroll through Pinterest and I’m bombarded with pictures of beautiful and decadent looking food, I’m hit with a harsh reality….I AM HUNGRY!!! I’m thinking starting a food blog and a diet at the same time was not a great idea. Today marks one week that I’ve been using Weight Watchers online and so far so good I’ve lost 4 lbs! But is it so wrong that I want to continue to make my yummy sweet treats and rich, savory meals!? I want a cupcake!! I want pasta with cream sauce!! But could it be my new found passion for cooking is the reason I am now faced with the need to lose 40 pounds? You see, not only do I love to cook food…I love to eat it…and I typically only like to make food that I like. I am not ashamed to admit I love junk food and comfort food. Of course, I love a good salad and veggies once in a while, but what is even better…veggies smothered in cheese! Salad with creamy dressing and croutons!

Nowadays (luckily for me) there are good recipes that are low fat, low carb, low calorie, etc. and with using the Weight Watchers tools it is easy to punch in a recipe and see how many points it is and it’s actually kind of fun to try to make ingredient substitutions to see if you can lower the WW points value  (and still have it taste good!). Of course, nothing tastes as good as the real thing (sugar, butter, whole milk, heavy cream, white flour….ok I need help!) but I think I’ve come up with some decent recipes for those of us who are not blessed with genes to eat anything we want and stay slim.

So with that, I am going to provide “slimmed-down” versions of some of the recipes I share on this blog, as well as some others I’ve come up with. The first one is for pizza, since my first post was pizza dough. This pizza uses a whole wheat crust and other low fat ingredients. If anyone tries it out I’d love to hear your feedback and advice on how to make it better. It is “diet food” (yes, I am still going to use the term “diet”, even though it is taboo this day in age!) but it’s actually pretty good diet food…however, I’m sure it can always be better! So please share your thoughts!

Ok, so here is the recipe. For those Weight Watchers users out there this recipe has a Pointsplus value of 4, and a serving is 1/8 of the pizza. Also, I would suggest adjusting the spices to your own taste. I’ve provided exact measurements, but you may want to adjust things based on your own preferences. Remember, if you adjust the other ingredients (amount of chicken, types of cheese, etc.) the Pointsplus value will change.

Whole Wheat Pizza with Chicken & Arugula

Ingredients:

Dough:                                    

2  to 2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour

2 ¼ tsp. quick rise yeast

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

1 tbsp. olive oil, + ½ tbsp. olive oil for bowl

1 c. very warm water (125 degrees)

Pizza:

4 oz. cooked, boneless skinless chicken breast, shredded

1 cup arugula

2 part-skim mozzarella string cheese, shredded in food processor or blender.

2 tbsp. shredded parmesan cheese

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

Salt, to taste

2 tsp. minced garlic  (or ½-1 tsp. garlic powder)

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried basil

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the dough:
  • In a food processor, combine 1 ½ cups of the flour, the yeast, sugar, and salt. Pulse one or two times to combine the dry ingredients.
  • Add water and olive oil and process until a smooth dough forms.
  • Add the remaining flour 2 tbsp. at a time, processing between each addition, until the dough forms into a manageable ball. (It should not be sticky)
  • Poor ½ tbsp. of olive oil into a bowl and place the dough ball into the bowl, turning to coat with the oil.
  • Cover and let rise in a warm, dark place for about 35 minutes.
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Prepare the sauce by combining the crushed tomatoes, salt, garlic, oregano and basil in a small bowl.
  3. Once the dough has risen, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface.
  4. Bake the pizza crust for about 5 minutes in the preheated oven (this will give you a crispier crust). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a minute or two.
  5. Top the crust with the sauce, arugula, chicken, and cheese, making sure to spread the ingredients evenly over the crust.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  7. Cut into 8 pieces and enjoy…but don’t eat the whole thing! 😉

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Pizza Dough


Pizza, Food Processor Pizza Dough

Pizza made with "Food Processor Pizza Dough"

Recently I had been tossing around the idea of doing some sort of cooking or baking blog. I really didn’t know where to begin, so of course I kept dragging my feet. So who knew that my excitement over finally finding a good pizza dough recipe would light the spark!?  I have tried many pizza dough recipes over the years…too thick, too bread-like, too soft, too hard, and on and on.  Then one night , a bout of insomnia had me watching a cooking show at three in the morning and I saw what looked pretty easy to make and appeared to come out the way a pizza crust should be. So with that my first blog post is a recipe for pizza dough.

I have to admit my excitement and high hopes for this recipe were moderately frightening, but I’m sure all of you out there who have tried and tried to find the perfect recipe for something, can relate. The recipe is from Sara Moulton, which you can find  on her website, www.saramoulton.com. This dough is made in a food processor and although I do not have a very big or good food processor (it’s actually just an attachment for my blender), I could see right away that this recipe was going to be a winner!  When it was time to take it out of the food processor it had a smooth and beautiful surface and shaped into a ball very easily.Image In the past, I could barely get to this step…the dough would be too sticky or wouldn’t form into a ball, etc. After the rising time, I cut it in half and rolled it out really thin.ImageImage I was able to make two fairly large pizzas (not round, but more oblong, as I’m not really all that skilled with making and shaping dough), one with various meats and one plain cheese, since my husband and I have much different tastes when it comes to pizza. It came out very thin and crispy and one pizza would have definitely been enough for the two of us, but like I said, the hubby and I have very different tastes when it comes to pizza….but, we were able to agree on one thing…that I had finally made a great crust!

So here is the recipe and my first blog! Yay! To make your pizza just add your favorite toppings and pop into the oven at 400 or 450 degrees.  I usually pre-bake my crust for about 6-8 minutes, then add the toppings and put it back in for about 10 minutes.

Food Processor Pizza Dough (Source: Sara Moulton)

2 ½ c. flour

1 package rapid rise yeast

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

¾ c. warm water (125 degrees F)

  1. In a food processor, combine 1 ¾ cup flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Pulse once or twice to combine all the dry ingredients.
  2. Add the water and oil and process until a soft dough forms.
  3. Add the remaining flour ¼ cup at a time until the dough is manageable.
  4. Remove the dough from the food processor and shape into a ball.
  5. Place the dough into a bowl with oil and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow to rise for about 35 minutes, until double in size.
  6. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, to desired thickness.
  7. Add toppings (i.e. pizza sauce, meats, veggies, cheese, etc.) and bake in a 450 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes or until cooked through; or use the dough as called for in any pizza recipe.
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