Tag Archives: cheese

A Delicious Mediterranean Pizza


When we were trying to decide on what to have for Christmas dinner I voted for homemade pizza. One, because I’ve got it down to an art that feels hassle-free. Two, because it tastes good (seeing as pizza is my favorite food group). Three, because there is no wrong day to eat pizza – certainly even on Christmas. But my husband requested comfort food, which also goes over well with everyone else. There will certainly be mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade cranberry sauce, creamy macaroni and cheese, garlic green beans, a vegan roast, homemade cinnamon rolls early in the morning…

I decided that we’d just have pizza earlier in the week. So we did. When we used to go out for pizza, the Mediterranean was always a hit. Generally it’s vegetarian already, but easily made so even if that requires asking for no chicken, or whatever meat may be included. Toppings often include feta, olives, and artichoke hearts, along with some variety, restaurant to restaurant. I’m glad the days of eating pizza out in restaurants are behind us, unless we’re travelling. The local pizza place we used to order an incredible Mediterranean pie from charges $25.25 for a 16-inch pizza. I can make three large pizzas for less than $25 that satisfies every family members’ preferred topping choices. Plus they taste better than many places we can get pizza from, reasonably!

With that, I present my go-to take on this pizza. It’s a great vegetarian option even for non-vegetarians. If you want to keep this pizza from being spicy at all, you can cut back the number of pepperoncinis and leave off the red chili flakes. Personally, I like the spiciness along with the saltiness of the olives and feta!


Mediterranean Pizza

Makes one large (16-18 in.) pizza


½ recipe of this dough, or enough of your preferred recipe for 1 ball of pizza dough
¾ cup prepared marinara sauce
1 1/2 – 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
6 oz. jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained
one 2.25 oz. can sliced black olives, drained
5-6 whole pepperoncini, sliced with stems removed
2 oz. feta cheese
3 oz. fresh spinach
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
1 roma tomato, diced into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil



Preheat your oven to the highest setting it will go (ours goes to 550°F). If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven to preheat as well, for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface, into a 16-18 inch round (approx. the size of your pizza stone or pan). Place on your preheated stone, working quickly. Prick with a fork all over 8-10 times. Bake the dough for 2-4 minutes, until not doughy, but also not browned at all.

Spread the sauce evenly around the pizza dough, starting at the center and working your way out towards the crust. Evenly place the spinach all over the sauce. Next, sprinkle on about 3/4 of the shredded mozzarella. Arrange the artichoke hearts, olives, pepperoncini, feta, and diced tomato all over the pizza. Next, add the remaining cheese. Sprinkle on the chili flakes, oregano, and basil.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden on top and the crust, nicely browned. Allow the pizza to cool slightly, then cut and serve.


Baked Artichoke Squares


In the food world, I understand that Thanksgiving is a big deal. There are so many dishes to give your attention to, so much time to spend on preparing and planning. This year, however, Thanksgiving was a small ordeal for us. Dinner included my husband, mother in-law, and myself. My husband’s birthday was the Friday following Thanksgiving and we had plans to go out of town with the kids for the weekend. That trip meant we would either have to freeze the majority of our leftovers or give them away… or plan on less food to begin with, decreasing the liklihood of leftovers.

I cut down the menu I had originally planned, but managed to make too much food anyway. We had the usual Tofurky roast, which I think I’d like to skip all together next year. My mother in law had also picked up Trader Joe’s vegan turkey roast so we had that as well. We planned to pack leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches for the road the following morning, so the vast amounts of veggie meat wasn’t too overwhelming. Our table hosted some of the usual dishes – mashed potatoes, vegetarian mushroom gravy, homemade cranberry apple grape sauce, stuffing… When I modified my original menu, I figured appetizers weren’t really necessary, but there was one dish I couldn’t talk myself out of making.

This recipe for baked artichoke squares has been floating around my brain since I first saw it, nearly a year ago. Since artichokes and cheese are often pretty big hits around our house, I thought this would be a perfect small dish to include as an appetizer. The recipe is easy and as it turns out – the final product is absolutely delicious. These squares are similar to a crustless quiche and thus served in the same way – warm or at room temperature. I am certainly adding this to my (short)list of go-to appetizers and quick, simple side dishes. I encourage the same for you!


Baked Artichoke Squares

Makes 16 squares

Recipe adapted from Shutterbean (Tracy Benjamin)

Two 6 oz. jars marinated artichoke hearts
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
4 eggs
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon sriracha or tabasco
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups extra sharp white cheddar, shredded
salt and pepper
cooking spray



Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with the cooking spray, then set it aside.

Add the juice from one jar of marinated artichoke hearts to a skillet.  Add in the onions and garlic, then saute over medium-high heat until the onions are translucent.


Discard the juice from the remaining jar of artichoke hearts, then roughly chop up all of the artichoke hearts.  Beat together the eggs and sriracha/tabasco.  Stir in the breadcrumbs, artichoke hearts, oregano, basil, onion mixture, and cheese.

Evenly spread the mixture into your prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes (until completely set and golden on top).  Let the pan cool briefly, then cut into squares.  Serve at room temperature or warm for best flavor.


Tomato Potato Tart


Having a good, flaky pastry crust in your recipe repertoire is a must. This is advice comes from the same girl who has made her fair share of crusts that shrink down from the all sides of the pan they’re supposed to line, or pastry crusts so tough and gummy simultaneously even the dogs won’t eat it… Crusts that mush down into the bottom of the pan, soggy oily messes of butter and flour and heat. Yes, yes. Kitchen fails happen. Luckily I haven’t had a pastry crust fail with the following recipe. I’ve tweaked it many times to incorporate it into sweet desserts, or savory pies and tarts. Keeping your butter cold is essential, as it keeps the crust from breaking down too quickly once it moves into the oven.

This tart was a dinner experiment, created as a means of using up some tomatoes out of our garden. I contemplated doing the tart as a side dish, but when laziness hit and I decided I wanted less dishes and a more filling dinner-style tart, I threw potatoes into the equation. Perhaps potatoes and tomatoes sounds like a funny combination (or maybe it’s just fun to say potato-tomato over and over again). But the ‘taters in this tart add some bulk and create a more substantial savory meal.

The ingredients are simple and straightforward, the focus primarily on the fresh tomatoes that are so delicious this time of year. The freshness of the ingredients here makes this a refreshing dinner choice.


Tomato Potato Tart

Yields two tarts: one 13 ¾” x 4 ½” x 1″ rectangular and one 9″ round tart.


For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly chopped parsley
½ teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
2 teaspoons freshly chopped oregano
1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil
1 stick cold, unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons ice cold water

For the tart filling:
3 to 4 ripe, heirloom tomatoes
2 large yukon gold potatoes
½ cup freshly chopped herbs (I used basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley like in the dough)
½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1 cup smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup fontina cheese, shredded
1 cup havarti cheese, shredded
4 teaspoons stone ground mustard
salt and fresh ground black pepper



Prepare the dough:  combine the flour, sugar, salt, parsley, thyme, oregano and basil in a large bowl. Mix to thoroughly combine. Cut in the butter and shortening, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the ice water, adding six tablespoons at first, working the dough into a slightly moist ball. If you need more water to get the dough into a ball (versus a crumbly mess) add the additional water, one tablespoon at a time. Cover and refrigerate for 45-60 minutes.

Prepare the tart filling: Place the potatoes in a small pot and cover with generously salted water. Bring the potatoes to boiling and cook until fork-tender (12-15 minutes). Drain the water and cool the potatoes to room temperature. Once the potatoes have cooled, slice them into rounds about 1/4-inch thick. Set aside.

Remove the stem and pit of each tomato. Slice the tomatoes into rounds that are about 1/4-inch thick. Place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels (or a dish cloth, coffee filters, etc.). Add another layer of paper towels or another dish cloth over the tomatoes and press gently, to remove some of the excess liquid.

Mix together the smoked mozzarella, fontina, and havarti cheeses. Set aside. Mix together the fresh herbs and red chili flakes. Set aside.


Prepare your tarts: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil two tart pans. Lightly flour a flat surface to roll the dough. Split the dough into two equal portions. Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thick, large enough to fill the tart pan with a little overhang. Press the dough into your prepared pan, working it up the sides evenly as well. Pierce the dough with a fork 6-8 times. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

Remove the tart crusts from the oven. Brush the bottom of each tart with two teaspoons of mustard. Sprinkle on a quarter of the shredded cheese evenly between the two crusts. Next, add a layer of potatoes to each tart, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle the potatoes with a quarter of the fresh herbs, some salt and pepper, then another quarter of the remaining cheese. Add a layer of tomatoes, overlapping slightly, followed by the more herbs and cheese, then a layer of potatoes, cheese, herbs, tomatoes, herbs. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is crisp and the tomatoes are slightly crisp along the edges and very fragrant.

Allow the tart to cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Refrigerate leftovers (and heat in the toaster for best eating later!).


Vegetarian Baked Spaghetti with Field Roast Vegan Sausage


It’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I’ve folded precisely seven loads of laundry, done the dishes four times since waking up, ran up and down the stairs in our house fifteen billion times, pulled weeds that will inevitably show up again tomorrow. I’ve worked my ass off at the gym, responded to x-number of e-mails, photographed three entirely different dishes, then edited five hundred photos down to eighteen. Somewhere in there, I think I had a shower. And figured out meals for the coming week.

But tonight? Tonight I would gladly have cold beer and slightly stale jalapeno cheddar tortilla chips for dinner. Of course not everyone appreciates beer and chips for a meal. And I’m certain it’s illegal to feed kids such a dinner. It’s those moments I’m grateful for having mastered (well, I’m working on mastering it… and things have certainly gotten better…) the art of winging-it-meals. The kind of meals where you dig around in the fridge and pantry, cross your fingers that you’ve got things like onions, garlic, and fresh herbs on hand.

Spaghetti is a good throw-together meal, vegetarian or not. True, I hated how often this thrown together meal happened when I was about 15 or 16 years old. Spaghetti three times a week is no way to live, Mom (just kidding, Mom. P.S. Return my phone calls. P.P.S. I’ll call you this weekend if you don’t return my phone calls. Offer or threat!). This isn’t a typical spaghetti throw-together; however, it’s still pretty simple.

We often have some kind of veggie meat on hand. Field Roast sausages are by far my favorite to keep around, because they’re delicious… and can be as versatile as your creativity lends. This baked spaghetti mimics the flavors and ingredients of lasagna, with much less work. Field Roast Italian Sausage contains fresh eggplant, fennel, red wine, garlic and sweet peppers. Combined with the fresh herbs in the sauce you make this with, the dish is packed with flavor. For ease, eat it just on its own. For a rounder, filled meal, eat it alongside a good salad and The Pioneer Woman’s killer bread, also referred to simply as The Bread (it does not skimp on butter, I’ll warn you now, but DAMN, it’s good).


Baked Spaghetti with Italian Field Roast Sausage

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes

Serves 8-10 people.

1 lb vermicelli or thin spaghetti
2 tbsp. olive oil
12.95 oz. Field Roast Italian Sausage, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
¼ pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
¼ cup fresh oregano, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ tsp. red chili pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
ground black pepper
one 28 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes (with juices)
1½ cups water
2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for greasing the casserole dish
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous amount of salt. As the water comes to a boil, proceed with the recipe:

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan, over medium-high heat. Add the chopped sausage, onion and garlic. Cook until the sausage is lightly browned and the onion, tender.

Add the mushrooms, basil, oregano, parsley, chili flakes, salt and a reasonable amount of black pepper. Stir to combine everything, cooking until the mushrooms release most of their liquid, shrinking down to half their initial size. Add the tomatoes and water, again stirring to evenly combine everything. Continue cooking, reducing the heat to a low simmer. Cook for 15 or so minutes, while you’re preparing the pasta.

Once the water (from step one) has reached boiling, add the pasta and cook, uncovered for 4-6 minutes, until the noodles are cooked al dente. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander and run under cold water, to prevent further cooking.

Return the pasta to the cooking pot. Add in the remaining olive oil, along with the grated Parmesan, eggs, and granulated garlic. Toss to evenly coat (using your hands is easiest).

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch dish with olive oil. Spread about one cup of the sauce on the bottom of your prepared pan. Spread half of the pasta over the sauce, followed by half of the remaining marinara sauce. Dot all of the ricotta cheese over the sauce, followed by half of the cheddar and half of the mozzarella. Layer the remaining pasta, then sauce, then cheddar and mozzarella.

Cover the dish with foil then bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and return the dish to the oven for 20 more minutes, uncovered. Allow the baked spaghetti to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving, hot.


Double Herb and Cheese-Stuffed Crust Veggie Pot Pie


It’s a mouthful. The title. The dish. The meal. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a pot pie before this one… vegetarian or not. I remember frozen, TV dinner style chicken pot pies every now and then as a kid. You know the ones. Those with the usual cast of characters: chicken, potatoes, carrots, peas, all swimming in an almost too salty gravy/broth.

To me, the best part about a chicken pot pie, or any pie for that matter, is the crust. I’ve been intimidated by homemade crust making (much in the same way biscuits used to immediately cause a deep panic within me just at the mention of their name). In the last few years, I’ve learned that the more you make these things, the less intimidating they get and the more fun the whole process is. It’s also easy to get a little creative when you remember the most useful trick I’ve found – keep your ingredients cold (inevitably, work quickly to make this happen).

This crust is flaky, light feeling, despite being filled with cheese and herbs. The flavor works nicely with the pot pie filling. I actually enjoyed this dish the second day more than the first. Overall, this is a great one-dish meal, perfect for a cold winter’s day like we’ve been having!


Double Herb and Cheese-Stuffed Crusted Veggie Pot Pie

Serves 8-10 people


For the crust:
1¼ cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. unrefined cane sugar
¾ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. granulated garlic
¼ tsp. ground white pepper
2 sticks unsalted butter
¼ cup vegetarian shortening
½ cup ice cold water
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

For the filling:
1½ cups fingerling potatoes, cut into ¼-inch rounds
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch rounds
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise then in half-moons ¼-inch thick
3 tbsp. fresh sage, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
¾ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground white pepper
1 cup crimini mushrooms, diced
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups No-Chicken broth
¼ cup half and half
¾ cup frozen green peas
¾ cup extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes (½-inch by ¼-inch)
1 cup chicken-style seitan, roughly chopped

1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. of water


Prepare your dough: whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, basil, oregano, thyme, garlic and white pepper. Use a pastry cutter (or my favorite method, use a box grater) to cut in the butter. Add the shortening to the mixture. Use your fingers to rub the butter/shortening into the dry ingredients until everything resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the ice-cold water, using your hands to mix everything together into a ball of dough. If needed, add more ice water one tablespoon at a time, just until the dough stays together.

Turn the dough out to a lightly floured surface. Split the dough into four even sized portions, rolling each into a ball then flattening into discs about one inch thick. Separately wrap each dough disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour (up to 24).

Prepare the filling: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and carrots, boiling just until both are fork tender (12-15 minutes). Drain and rinse with cold water immediately.

Meanwhile, heat the two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and garlic, cooking until the onions are translucent (5-6 minutes). Add the zucchini, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, and mushrooms. Cook until the zucchini is slightly tender (3-4 minutes), occasionally stirring. Add the potatoes and carrots.

Sprinkle the flour into the mixture, using a spatula or wooden spoon to evenly coat all of the ingredients with the flour. Add the broth and half and half all at once, stirring frequently. Once the mixture begins to thicken up, gently stir in the peas, tofu cubes, and chopped seitan. Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking. Keep on low heat, covered.

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a rectangular pan (no bigger than 9”x13” – mine was 11”x7”).

Remove the rounds of dough from your refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the discs until about ¼-inch thick, and about the same length as your baking dish. Sprinkle half of the sharp cheddar cheese on top of the dough, evenly.


Roll out a second round of dough equally as long and wide as the first. Place this dough on top of the cheese-topped dough.



Use a rolling pin to roll the layers together, until everything is about ¼-inch thick.


Use your hands to press the dough into your baking dish, including all the way up the sides. Pierce with a fork five or six times. Bake in your preheated oven until golden brown and crisp to the touch (20-ish minutes).

While the bottom crust is baking, roll out the remaining dough exactly like the first two.


Pour the filling into your bottom crust, then smooth it out evenly with a spatula.


Place the second rolled out, cheese-filled crust on top of the filling. Use your hands and work all the way around the pan, tucking the top pie crust to seal it into the first. Cut a couple slits in the top of your crust so that steam can escape. Brush the top with your beaten egg, then bake the pot pie for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is nicely golden brown and crisp.

Allow the veggie pot pie to sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.