Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Munch Madness III: Zucchini-Onion Flatbread!!


My bracket's already dead and buried. It went down in flames. Someone must have put a curse on it, that's all I can say. For some reason I had a feeling I wasn't going to go far this year. Ever get that feeling? Oh well, what can you do? But even though I'm out of the bracket running, I'm still in the mix with entertaining the gang.  I still have pals coming over to catch the action and of course they come hungry.  I wanted to make something quick, light and satisfying, so I whipped up: Zucchini-Onion Flatbread!

A flatbread makes for a good munchie because it's not overly heavied-up with ingredients. This one consists of just red onions, zucchini, oil-cured olives, a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top of a multi-grain crust. When it comes out of the oven, I immediately hit it with some grated parmesan just for a little extra flavor, but not enough to be immediately obvious.

Lots of flavor
Zucchini-Onion Flatbread
(serves 6)

1 package of pizza dough
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 medium zucchini, thinly sliced and julienned
6-7 oil-cured black olives, pitted and torn into small pieces
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbs shaved parmesan cheese


1.  Pre-heat oven to 550-degrees. Roll out dough and place on a sheetpan with parchment. Try to stretch it out to the edges of the sheetpan if you can.

2.  Mix the remaining ingredients (except for the parmesan cheese) in a bowl and evenly spread on top of the dough. Rearrange the olives to evenly distribute over the flatbread.

3.  Place the sheetpan in the oven and begin watching it after 3 minutes. At such a high temperature, this is going to cook fast. You may need to turn the sheet around half-way through so that it browns evenly.

4.  When the crust is golden, remove from the oven and sprinkle a very light coating of parmesan cheese over it.

5.  Let cool, slice and serve to the hungry masses.

NOTE:  This can also be served at room temperature, so it can be made ahead and held until your guests arrive.

And there you have it! Hope you feel inspired to try this for your next March Madness homegate! And speaking of, don't forget to keep homegating!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Munch Madness II: Roasted Chickpeas!!


March Madness is just getting under way. Did you get into any bracket challenges? I don't know, for some reason it's always a hit or miss for me with the brackets. Some years I get down to the Final Four and then other years I go down in flames before the first week is out. I'm staying optimistic this year, though. You can never tell. But the one thing I do know is that I've got a few buddies coming over Saturday night to check out the action. One of the goodies I'm going to serve is so simple to put together and yet so yummy is: Roasted Chickpeas!

The cool thing about making roasted chickpeas is that you can season them up any way you want to. You can make them savory, spicy or sweet. My recipe gives you the option to choose whether you want to go the spicy route or not. What I love about these is that not only are they crunchy, but they're a healthy, high protein snack as well. They're big on flavor and big on crunch.

It's all about the crunch
Roasted Chickpeas      
(serves 6)

32 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp granulated onion
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp sea salt


1. Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees. After rinsing and draining the chick peas, pick through to remove any rogue skins that are in the bunch.

2. Toss all the ingredients together and place the chickpeas on a sheetpan.

3. Roast for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, turn oven off while the chickpeas are still inside. Let oven cool off while the chickpeas are still in there (this should take about 30 minutes).

4. Remove from oven and enjoy.

And there you go! This is a fun and quick recipe that yields high results and high praise. Hope you try it!

I will see you all next week. Good luck with your brackets! Keep on homegating!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Munch Madness: Bruschetta!!!


You know Spring is just around the corner when you start hearing about March Madness (or as I call it, "Munch Madness"). It all starts this Sunday (Selection Sunday) when the NCAA picks and seeds the teams that are eligible to participate for the national championship on April 6. Then from March 15 to April 6, it will be nothing but basketball, basketball, basketball on TV. The games are fast-paced and exciting. Maybe even your alma mater is in it! During this time, the potential to have guests over often is high, so you might want to keep your menu quick and easy. For the next couple of weeks, I'm going to feature simple, but tasty, snacks that you can whip up 1-2-3. This week's featured appy for Munch Madness is: Bruschetta!

What I love about this recipe is that it is so fresh, vibrant and light. You can find some really nice tomatoes in the market right now. The combination of tomato, onion, garlic and fresh basil is a slam dunk. Some bruschetta recipes call for using only olive oil, but I like adding a little balsamic for that extra pop. I think you'll like that also. These are light little munchies that will definitely satisfy.

(Serves 4-6)

4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 tbs finely minced white onion
2 tbs fresh basil, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced with a garlic press
3 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
1 loaf of Italian bread, or French baguette, sliced into 1/4" thick rounds


1.  Heat the oven to 450-degrees. Place the pieces of sliced bread on a sheetpan and place in the oven. Bake until the tops of the bread are very slightly toasted. Keep an eye on them because you don't want then completely browned. This should take only 5 minutes (or less, depending on your oven). Remove from oven and let cool.

2.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and let sit until the bread has cooled.

3.  Spoon the tomato mixture on top of each piece of bread.

Place on a serving platter and let the games begin!

I know you're going to enjoy making (and eating) this. Your guests will love it, too.

I will see you next week for some more Munch Madness! Keep on Homegating!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

S'ghetti with 'Shrooms!!


We're starting to come out of the winter doldrums, sports fans. MLS season kicks off this week, hockey season is skating along, basketball season is holding court, Spring Training is in full swing, NASCAR is revving up and how many more puns can I add in one sentence? Phew! But anyway, the gang came over on Sunday to watch some hockey. I was in the mood to make something a little different than just finger foods, so I came up with: S'ghetti with 'Shrooms!

Comeon let's be serious, who doesn't love pasta? This dish is a bit different and that's what makes it fun. The sauce isn't your typical red sauce. It's a savory, brown sauce made with sauteed mushrooms, granulated garlic & onion, vermouth, beef stock and demi-glace. It's rich and savory and provides a nice change from the classic spaghetti and meatballs. The mushrooms are earthy and meaty. I used cremini mushrooms, but you can go with any kind of mushrooms you'd like. You could even use a combination of different types. It doesn't take long to prepare. You'll find this rustic recipe to be a nice go-to when you want to change things up from your regular pasta repertoire. I served this dish family-style so everyone could help themselves.

S'ghetti with 'Shrooms
(serves 4-6)

1 lb dried pasta
16 oz whole mushrooms, quartered  
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp granulated onion
1/2 cup dry white vermouth
1.5 oz veal demi-glace
2 cups beef or veal stock
salt and pepper to taste


1.  Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. At the same time, begin heating the water for the pasta. Place 1 tbs of salt to the water. Add the mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are golden brown. The mushrooms might release their own juices. Continue sauteeing them until the juices cook out. Add the granulated garlic and onion and heat through.

2.  Add the vermouth and let it reduce slightly. Add the demi-glace and continue cooking until it melts down and coats the mushrooms.

3.  Add the stock and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. By this time, the pasta water should be boiling. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.

4.  Drain the pasta and add to the sauce in the saute pan. Let it heat through.

5.  Place in a pasta or large serving bowl and serve family style.

So there you have it! This was a real hit with the gang and I'm sure your crew will enjoy it as well. Hope you decide to try it.

I'll see you guys next week for more gameday grub and entertaining ideas! In the meantime, keep on homegating!