Margarita Pizza

Handmade Margarita Pizza
On Friday, I got the big guns out, after my daughter who recently had knee surgery refused to eat anything but, donuts and candy. My chicken noodle soup could not compete, so I had to get creative.

I made her favorite soup (recipe to follow), which she enjoyed for two seconds, and then went back to the pounds of candy delivered by friends. Being desperate to get her to eat something more nutritious I made her favorite pizza.  

Making pizza is fast and easy, but you do have to stay close to the kitchen, and keep an eye on it as it cooks. I had enough dough for two, so while they were baking I made her a white lasagna (recipe to follow).

Note: The oven must be well preheated and very hot. 

Margarita Pizza

Pizza dough (Whole Foods)

3 tablespoons tomato sauce (any kind)

1/2 oz. extra-virgin olive oil

2-4 ounces fresh mozzarella (small balls)

4 to 5 basil leaves

Instructions:

  • Let dough rest for half an hour in a warm place. In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Rollout dough with extra flour on stone. Place a pizza stone (or cookie sheet, but grease with olive oil) to warm in the oven.
  • Roll dough with a rolling pin into a circle. Spread the sauce using the back of a spoon evenly across the surface, stopping approximately 1/2 inch from the edges.
  • Cut each ball in half and place evenly and gently on the sauce. 
  • Place onto the heated stone or tiles in the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, approximately 4 to 8 minutes.
  • Add fresh basil. 

Make as many as you have time for, as these disappear magically. They can also be eaten cold, or reheated with excellent results. 

Cooking for Teen Athletes – Gluten free Spaghetti and Meatballs

Although I’ve been very busy with my entrepreneurial ventures and teaching at Berkeley, I’m still required to cook for my athletic teenage daughters.  Cooking for athletes is different than cooking for a normal family as there are serious time constraints and, “food as fuel” is more of a practice than a concept, although I think it should be an extremely high priority for anyone feeding growing children, athletic or otherwise.

My daughter will often swim for an hour and a half.  She does this after school, so she has already had a full day and has eaten next to nothing.  She’s also prone to anemia, so I am always trying to pack her meals with nutrients, and they need to be iron dense.  My other daughter plays soccer and has practices in the evening, so between soccer and swimming there is a tiny slice of time for dinner, and it’s around 5 p.m.

As many mothers know, teenage girls don’t eat much at lunch, which makes them very hungry when they get home from school.  This is when the bad snacking is often done.  I’ve tried many strategies over the years, but have recently decided to serve a quick dinner at this time when possible.  I know how lucky I am to be able to have the flexibility to cook early in the day, but if you don’t, try making a double batch of this to freeze in single serving glass containers, or to serve the next day.

When the kids were little, and I was for the most part a stay-at-home mom, I could spend two hours cooking dinner, but that is no longer possible.  Someday, I hope to have time to make homemade ravioli again, but for now this will have to do, and it checks the boxes of the top criteria for me.  Fast, easy, hot and nutritious. Plus, they love it, which might be the most important criteria.

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Spaghetti and Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 package gluten free spaghetti cooked

1 jar of marina sauce or make your own

1 package of meatballs from Whole Foods Market or make your own

Parmesan cheese (I like these large shavings)

Instructions:

Begin cooking gluten free pasta as per package instructions.  Then, in a large sauce pan heat the meatballs and sauce until they come to a slight boil, reduce heat and let simmer while the pasta is cooking.  Once pasta is done, add to the pan and gently toss while hot.  Reheats and freezes well.

 

 

 

 

 

Laguna Beach or Orecchiette Pasta for Four

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P & S @ Laguna Beach
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Oak Street Beach
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Dana Point – Summer 2014

I have just returned from a fabulous trip to Laguna Beach.  The salt air and glorious azure water, plus seeing old friends, made it the perfect August escape.  When I returned I decided to make this little comfort food dinner to get everyone to bed early and back into their summer sports routine.  

Because this pasta doesn’t have a cream sauce, just a little olive oil and parmesan sprinkled on the top, it is fairly low calorie while still providing a nice carb load to help everyone feel full and sleep a little sounder.  Not to mention it is totally scrumptious.  

If you get to Laguna, the Oak St. beach is my favorite.  Make sure you take the time to check out Laguna Surf & Sport and ask for Russell if you want a surf lesson.  Happy summer. 

Chicken Asparagus Orecchiette Pasta

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Ingredients

1 box orecchiette pasta

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves of garlic diced

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cubed

1 bunch slender asparagus 

4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese in small pieces or balls

Sea salt and ground fresh pepper to taste

1/2 cup parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top

Preparation

Prepare pasta as per package directions, but ensure pasta is not over cooked.  While pasta cooks heat olive oil in a sauté pan and brown garlic on medium heat.  Add the chicken and cook until white throughout – about 10 minutes.  Cut asparagus one inch below tips and cook toward the end of the cooking time with the chicken.  Tips should be fairly crunchy (about 2 minutes).  In a pasta bowl toss chicken mixture with cooked pasta and add mozzarella while still hot.   Mozzarella should be slightly melted, then add salt and pepper to taste.  Top each serving with a generous amount of parmesan. 

Cheese Stick Lasagna

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Mozzarella cheese sticks are a staple in most homes with small children.  So, one summer day I decided if my kids would eat cheese sticks all day long than maybe they would eat a cheese stick lasagna.  The recipe I had been using for classic lasagna was not up to the standards of my then very small daughters.   My kids loved this version, as did my friends and baby sitters who all begged for this recipe.  Nuts, no cook pasta, and cheese sticks gave this dish a wonderful crunch that is hard to describe.  It is the antithesis of that over cooked mushy lasagna our mothers, or at least mine, made.   This is wonderful reheated.

▪ 1 jar of marinara sauce

▪ 1 package lasagna noodles

▪ 1 handful of pecans

▪ 8 Mozzarella cheese sticks

▪ 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese

▪ 1 cup fresh Mozzarella  (small balls melt well and you don’t have to cut them or slice a larger ball)

▪ 1 small can of sliced olives

Preparation:

By using noodles that do not need to be boiled and cheese sticks, this dish has a layered quality that is not too wet.  The cheese sticks melt and harden a bit, making this lasagna full of flavor and unusual textures.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   Layer noodles, sauce, cheese sticks and pecans, starting with red sauce on the bottom.  When all is layered, top with olives and fresh Mozzarella; Mozzarella melts well and is low in calories and has a fresh clean taste.

Bake for 35 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.

To impress, add fresh basil leaves as garnish, but make sure they are easy for small hands to remove.

Real Food for Real People

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Sydney Chaney Thomas –
Real Food For Real People
Coming to Amazon March 2014 (photo by Christina Shook)

Several years ago, I found the time in tiny intervals to write a little cookbook.  I self published it and give it to friends.  A few months later, I was invited to present it at the State of California Food Conference, where it was very well received.  I was encouraged to expand it and get it published, but life intervened and I let it go.  Over the summer of 2013 it kept whispering to me, “Sydney, you need to finish the cookbook”.  Now finally, it’s done, or as done as any creative endeavor can ever be, and will be available on Amazon (Kindle) in the Spring of 2014.  It truly has been a labor of love.  My dearest wish and greatest hope is that it will help other people.

I’m proud of the fact that my food is very simple to execute and as a result of that I had a number of different titles that conveyed that, but my editor (Neo Garaby) recommended that I not call the book,  Easy Food for Lazy Moms, or the even more controversial, Easy Meals for Drunk Moms, but all joking aside, the book is created for people who may be distracted and/or drinking a little wine while cooking.

In these pages you will find not just my recipes, but other topics that I hold most dear.

Blessings to the kind souls who have encouraged me every step of the way.   I love you all.