Three Ingredient Shells & Cheese

I made these cheesy shells last night with grilled ribeye steaks and asparagus. Oooh so easy, so creamy, so dreamy. There is no need to ever buy boxed shells and cheese again.

RECIPE: THREE INGREDIENT SHELLS & CHEESE

Approximately 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups milk

2 cups pasta shells

1 cup cheddar cheese (Vermont sharp cheddar or white cheddar cheese are my favorites)

Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and pasta to a  simmer (not boil) over medium heat. Cook approximately 20 minutes, stirring often and making sure that the milk doesn’t boil. Once the pasta is al dente, remove from heat and add the cheese. Stir until melted. If you like it a little creamier, you can add more milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Homemade Coney Sauce

Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a messy, drip down-your-arm cheese-laden coney dog. Coney dogs, along with swirl ice cream cones, conjure up memories of childhood summers for me. This is an easy recipe you can make at home and well, I think it makes it a little healthier for you than the canned versions you buy in the stores.

In order to get the fine hamburger texture that you find in most restaurants and canned sauces, you can either chop the hamburger real fine with a spatula or fork as your browning it. Or you can do what I did, which was to use a handheld immersion blender once I added the tomato sauce and remaining ingredients and just lightly blended it until the meat was the texture I wanted. Another option is the trick they use in some coney island restaurants to make the sauce smooth: put the ground beef in a bowl of water in the refrigerator for several hours. When you brown it, the excess water will cook off and you’ll have a much finer texture.

RECIPE: HOMEMADE CONEY SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef (I used organic beef)

1/2 onion chopped

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

1 cup water

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon worcestershire

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (can add more if desired)

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Direction

1. Place the ground beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until beef is browned and break up the meat with a fork or spatula until fine. Note: you can drain a little if there is a lot of fat but I used a 90% lean beef and didn’t drain it as there was little fat.

2. Stir in the tomato paste, water, and remaining ingredients. Then simmer on low for 30 minutes or longer. The longer you simmer it, the better it tastes.

Well hello beautiful….

Easy Homemade Grilled Pizza

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for grilled pizza with a homemade sauce and crust. I must say that grilling is my favorite way to make pizza…just something about those heavenly char marks. Oh baby baby.

My first attempt at grilling pizza was with my sisters and well, let’s just say we were laughing our butts off because it was just such a beautiful disaster and it was either laugh…or cry. We chose to laugh because that’s how we roll. So here are a few helpful tips and suggestions before I get to the recipe:

1) Do not try to make one huge pizza on the grill. Split the dough up and make 4 smaller pizzas. They will be so much easier to handle and flip. Also, it allows you to personalize the pizzas for taste preferences.

2) Make sure you brush both sides of the pizza very well with oil. Otherwise, it will stick like hell to the grill. I then like to stack them separately with a layer of parchment paper between each of them…that way I can just use the parchment paper to flip them easily onto the grill.

3) Have all your toppings ready to go and next to the grill because these babies grill up fast and if you don’t, they will burn. We do not want that. I like to carry all my ingredients out on a large cookie sheet to make it easier.

4) I like to buy a block of mozzarella and shred it myself as I feel it melts much better than the pre-shredded stuff but that’s up to you. Note: the pizza pictured below is a veggie pizza I made with this sauce and crust recipe. I  topped with cherry tomatoes and some sauteed some onions, green peppers, red peppers, baby portobello mushrooms, and jalapenos. You can obviously top with your favorites….pepperoni, bacon, sausage, ham, veggies, banana peppers, black olives…the options are endless.

5) I really love King Arthur’s “White Whole Wheat Flour”. It’s a milder, lighter colored whole wheat and is obviously nutritionally better for you than regular flour and your family will never guess it’s whole wheat once you jazz it all up.

6) I also like to dust the crust with corn meal. It’s not a necessary step but just thought I’d mention it in case you want to do it too. Note: you will want to make sure the side that is bottom-down on the parchment paper is the corn meal dusted side. The side that you first flip onto the grill will end up being the top of the pizza because you will end up flipping the crust over once on the grill and topping it.

RECIPE: HOMEMADE GRILLED PIZZA

INGREDIENTS:

Toppings and cheese of choice

For the sauce:

1 cup crushed tomatoes

6 oz tomato paste

1 teaspoon minced onion

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

For the crust:

1 envelope Fleishmann’s Pizza Yeast

1-3/4 to 2 cups flour (I use King Arthur Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour)

1-1/2 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon italian seasoning

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

2/3 cup very warm water

3 tablespoons oil (I use extra light olive oil)

Directions:

1. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside.

2.  Combine 1 cup flour, undissolved pizza yeast, sugar, and the seasonings in a large bowl. Add water and oil. Mix until well blended. Then gradually add in remaining 3/4 cup flour until a soft dough ball is formed. Knead dough for a few more minutes until smooth and elastic.

3. At this point, I would go ahead and pre-heat the grill to medium high. Then separate dough into 4 pieces and spread each piece out on a piece of parchment paper, brush both sides with olive oil. Note: don’t worry about the pizza crust being perfectly round. The important thing is just make sure it’s evenly spread out. I happen to like the funny shapes….it gives it the ol’ rustic feel.

4. You will then want to flip the crusts onto the grill using the parchment paper. Once the bottom is browned (2-3 minutes), flip the pizza over. Then….GO….hurry, hurry, hurry…. add the sauce, cheese, and toppings and then close the lid for about a minute to melt the cheese and waaahlah…you have delicious, yummy, rustic grilled pizza! You did it! Note: if you find the bottom is too browned  after applying the toppings, you can always remove the pizzas and broil them in the oven to get the cheese melted until you master the timing.