Recipe of the Week: Broccoli & Garlic White Pizza

I often hear people say, "Oh, you guys are healthy you probably don't eat pizza." Wrong. We love pizza at our house! But we never order pizza and rarely eat it out because we love rolling our own dough and making up creative toppings.

I've found that pizza is one of the best meals to get kids involved in the cooking as well as the eating. If you haven't got the time to mix up your own dough, there are some great ready-made doughs available at Trader Joe's and Fresh & Easy in whole wheat varieties. If there's pizza, there's always a party at our house. I can hear my little girls scraping chairs across the kitchen floor and pulling up to the counter to help mama. Meilani loves rolling out the dough. Giada loves adding toppings - or rather, eating toppings - while we prepare our pies.

Pizza is also an opportunity to get kids involved in selecting and trying new veggies. If they get to "decorate" their own personal pizzas with colorful toppings, they just might try eating them. We discovered a new fave pizza by using what we had in the pantry: milk, garlic, broccoli and canned black olives. The result was this Broccoli & Garlic White Pizza.

My friend Amy also just made us a fun "Mexican Pizza" by cooking black beans until they were mushy, then spreading them on pizza dough and melting cheddar cheese on top. Then she chopped up lettuce and tomatoes and onions and threw them on top when the pizza came out of the oven. Yummilicious!

Honey-Whole Wheat Pizza Crust


-1 package yeast or 2 tablespoons yeast (Make sure your yeast is fresh.)

-1 cup warm water

-1 tablespoon organic sugar or honey

-1 tablespoon salt

-2 tablespoons olive oil

-3 cups whole wheat flour

-2 1/4 cups unbromated, unbleached white flour (I like Trader Joe's brand.)

-1 cup cold water (filtered is best)
1. Proof the yeast: Add yeast to 1 cup warm water. Be careful not to get the water too hot. (Temperature should be 110-115 degrees if you want to be precise.) Wait about five minutes until yeast begins to bubble up in water.
2. Use KitchenAid or other high-powered mixer with dough hook attachment. Add yeast/water mixture, honey, salt, olive oil, flours and cold water. Mix together on low speed.
3. Increase spead and knead dough in mixer for 8-10 minutes. Dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl and look smooth.
4. Divide into 3 balls of dough. Store in Ziplock bags in the refrigerator (for up to 1 week) or in freezer.

Simple Garlic White Sauce


-1/4 cup butter

-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1/4 cup flour

-1 1/2 cups milk

-1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded

1. Melt butter in small saucepan. Saute garlic.
2. Add flour and whisk together.
3. Allow to bubble and cook 3-4 minutes.
4. Add milk and whisk over medium heat until sauce thickens.
5. Stir in parmesan cheese and cook 3-4 more minutes.
6. Spoon over pizza.

Broccoli & Garlic White Pizza


-1 recipe pizza dough (see above)
-1 recipe white sauce (see above)
-2 cups mozarella cheese, shredded
-1 head of broccoli, chopped
-1 can black olives, sliced
-whole garlic cloves (if desired)
-1 teaspoon fennel seed

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven to heat up.
2. Roll out pizza dough on to pizza pan or transfer to the pizza stone.
3. Top with white sauce.
4. Sprinkle with shredded mozarella cheese.
5. Top with broccoli and black olives. (You may add extra garlic cloves here if you really want that garlic flavor.)
6. Sprinkle with fennel seed.
7. Bake approximately 15 minutes until cheese bubbles and crust in golden brown.


Celebrate St. Patty's Day with a Twist: Shamrock shake gets a new whirl

Happy St. Patrick's Day, friends! At the Gilmore house, a new holiday means a new challenge to find healthy ways to celebrate and have fun. With the help of my little shamrocks, I just created a Minty Shamrock Shake (Move over, McD's) and tried out Irish Soda Bread with healthy twists. Yummy! You could always go digging in your refrigerator or browsing at your farmer's market for green fruits and veggies. Try sliced kiwi, limes, green peppers, asparagus, cucumbers - even apples!

We know it may sound weird but spring is the time for sweet peas so why not utilize their natural color? They have a light flavor but do not dominate a smoothie so your kids probably won't even notice. And the good news is, you don't have to use those yucky dyes to make your food green. If you're gun shy, try a tablespoon first just to get a little color. Just be a sneaky chef and leave a comment so we can hear if your little leprachauns liked it.

Minty Shamrock Shake

-3 cups raw whole milk (or your fave type of milk)

-1 tray of ice cubes

-1/2 teaspoon organic peppermint extract (depends on how minty you like it!)

-3 tablespoons honey (or organic sugar, if you prefer)

-1/4 cup frozen organic sweet peas

1. Whirl these ingredients in your blender until smooth.

2. Serve with a straw.

I found several recipes for Irish Soda Bread and decided to create my own. A special thanks to Maura Marmo and Peggy O'Brien-Bremer from my elementary school on the South Side of Chicago, who inspired me with their bread recipes. I've never used caraway seeds before but they are a fun addition that give this bread a distinct flavor. I would serve this up for breakfast, lunch or a dinner appetizer.

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread


-3 cups whole wheat flour

-2/3 cup organic evaporated cane juice (sugar)

-1 tablespoon baking powder

-1 teaspoon baking soda

-2 beaten eggs

-1 1/2 cups buttermilk

-2 tablespoons organic butter, melted

-1 cup raisins

-1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan or mini loaves.

2. Sift flour into bowl. Add sugar, baking powder and baking soda.

2. Beat eggs. Add milk and butter. Blend into dry ingredients until batter is incorporated and moist.

3. Add raisins.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour or until golden brown on top.

6. Cool, slice and serve with butter.

Here are more St. Patty's Day healthy recipes from one of my fave online sources, Eating Well Magazine.

*This post was pulled from the Health-full archives.


Recipe of the Week: Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Rosemary Focaccia Bread

A few weekends ago we went to visit our friends the VanderMeulens. In addition to taking us to a fabulous Gouda Cheese Farm, Jen also made us a memorable Sunday supper with this hearty wild rice soup. My hubby who is always spewing health and nutrition tidbits started rattling off some of the benefits of wild rice. If you've been reading our blog for any length of time we are crazy about celebrating food created by God that helps our bodies better than any medicine.

Did you know wild rice really isn't rice at all?  Sounds weird but it's actually long-grain marsh grass seed. Wild rice is packed with nutrients and protein. It's especially high in zinc, which is vital for healthy skin, cell growth, sexual and reproductive function, a strong immune system, and blood sugar regulation.

Truth be told, I've been searching out ways to incorporate "wild rice." So far I've only been able to use it in a Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe by Bobby Flay that  has become tradition at our house. I was grateful for Jen's recipe, which I tweaked a little bit to make it my own. The inspiring part about this soup is that it is thick, stick-to-your-insides hearty. It's perfect for those cold winter months but could be served up anytime of the year. I added sausage to my version because I happened to have a package of my favorite Trader Joe's Mango Chicken Sausage in the fridge. (Also, my dad, Mr. Carnivore himself, was coming to dinner so I thought this was an even better way to lure him to love wild rice.) You could choose to make it vegetarian or add the meat.

I am my Italian mother's daughter and I do believe every great meal needs to be accompanied by really amazing bread. I've been tweaking this focaccia bread recipe over the last several months - trying out different flours, playing with yeast and herbs. Let's be real: yeast is finicky and bread making can be tough. I've discovered that if my yeast/warm water/flour mixture doesn't literally bubble over the glass cup within 10 minutes than the yeast is not in good condition. It's worth throwing it out and starting over. Slowly but surely I'm starting to get the hang of it. There is something truly magical about watching the yeast bubble, adding the ingredients, kneading it (or putting my Kitchenaid to the hard work), letting it rise and bake. The rich smell of bread just permeates the house.

My hubby's secret dream is that we would buy a bread mill and grind our own flour and bake our sandwich bread every week. However, we don't have the moolah for a mill or a bread machine and I'm not quite there. I tell him to make a Trader Joe's run. In the meantime though, I will make an occasional loaf and this is my go-to recipe for company or family.

Creamy Wild Rice & Sausage Soup

-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 yellow pepper, chopped
-1 red or orange pepper, chopped
-1 large onion, chopped
-1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
-1 cup celery (about 3 stalks), chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon dried thyme
-1 teaspoon chili powder
-2 teaspoons sea salt
-1 bay leaf
-8 cups chicken broth or water
-1 cup wild rice
-1/4 cup organic butter
-1/4 cup flour
-2 cups whole milk
-1 package Trader Joe's Mango Chicken Sausage (or other pre-cooked sausage of your choice)
-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional if you want to kick it up a notch)

1. In a large soup pot, heat oil. Chop vegetables.
2. Sweat peppers, onions, carrots, celery and garlic in the pot for about 10 minutes.
3. Add spices: thyme, chili powder, sea salt, bay leaf. 
4. Add chicken broth or water and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Add rice and simmer on low, covered for 45 minutes.
6. In a separate sauce pan, melt butter and stir in flour. Whisk together 3-4 minutes until a paste forms. Add milk. Allow to bubble cooking until it thickens.
7. Add roux or flour mixture to large soup pot. Cook additional 10 minutes until soup is thick and creamy.
8. Cut up sausage into bite-sized chunks. Stir into soup.
9. Add red pepper flakes to taste.

Makes 10 servings.

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

-1 package or 2 tablespoons yeast
-4 cups flour, divided (I prefer all purpose, unbleached, unbromated like Bob's Red Mill or Trader Joe's brand; could use 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour if you want to do a mix)
-1/2 cup lukewarm water

-1 cup water
-3 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
-2 tablespoons organic sugar or honey
-1 tablespoon rosemary sprigs
-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons extra for brushing

1. Mix together yeast, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup lukewarm water in a bowl or glass measuring cup. Be careful not to get water to hot or it will kill the yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes until the mixture begins to bubble up.
2. Meanwhile, measure 3 1/2 cups flour, sea salt and sugar into a large bowl. (If using a Kitchenaid mixture, attach dough hook.)
3. Pour olive oil and yeast mixture into the flour mixture. Add additional cup of water. Stir together. 
4. Knead for approximately 10 minutes or until dough is smooth. Add flour if it appears sticky.
5. Cover in an oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
6. Position a rack on the bottom third of your oven and place a pizza stone on the rack. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
7. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Roll out into a large circle about 1-inch thick. Place on top of pizza stone. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle rosemary on top along with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
8. Bake on the stone until golden and crisp approximately 15-20 minutes.

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