July 30, 2010

Healthy Greek Thin-Crust Pizza

Pizza is on the list of foods that I would eat everyday and be totally content.  I've always said it includes the 4 food groups that they beat into our brains growing up.  (Crust=Bread, Cheese=Dairy, Pepperoni or Sausage=Meat,  Mushrooms or Tomatoes from the sauce=Vegetable)

I bought the Pillsbury thin-crust pizza dough to try.  I have tried the regular pizza dough and it's too thick and doughy in my opinion.   The thin-crust cooked perfectly.  It was crispy but not too thin or dry.   I had just a few ingredients on hand that I just threw on to see what it would taste like.  I didn't add a sauce because I didn't have any and really didn't think it needed much with all the flavor in the toppings.  Pizza is all about personalizing to make it your own and put whatever you like on it.   Here's my tasty creation.  I hope you enjoy!!

2 tbsp olive oil
1 pkg Pillsbury thin-crust pizza dough
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning
1/4 c sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 c parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 c feta cheese
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and roll dough out.   Drizzle dough with about 1 tablespoon olive oil, dried oregano or Italian seasoning, parmesan and mozzarellla cheese.  Bake for 5 minutes (I believe that is what is directed on package but double check.) 

Take the crust out of the oven and add the toppings.  Spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, minced garlic, feta cheese.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil on top.  Bake for 8 minutes or whatever package says.  Slice sicilian-style (squares) and enjoy!

July 29, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Mac N Cheese

Say cheese!! My husband has been begging me to make this for months now.  I finally snuck it in on the menu and he was so excited.   It turned out really tasty and creamy.   This is a perfect potluck dish to share.  To be honest, I had never made my own homemade mac and cheese until this.  I know!   I'm out of my mind.   And I LOVE cheese especially in macaroni and cheese.   I really need to stop being such a procrastinator.   This made so much we ate on it for 2 days (dinner & lunch) and had enough to share with two people at work for lunch.  They loved it! Beats eating Lean Cuisines for a day. 

I used Tabasco as that is what we had on hand.  **You can really use about any hot sauce but a thicker one you would use about 1/4-3/4 cup.  (or whatever amount to your taste)

2-3 c chicken, cooked and shredded
1 lb elbow macaroni or another fun shaped pasta (like corkscrews or rotini)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp Tabasco sauce**
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp dry mustard
2 1/2 c half n half
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or cubed
8 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded or cubed
2/3 c sour cream
1 c panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 c blue cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or use dried if you have that on hand)
7 tbsp butter, unsalted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Butter 9x13 baking dish.  Bring large pot of water to boil.   Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.  Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes.  Then add the hot sauce and simmer an additional minute.

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a 4 qt- saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Whisk in the half and half and stir about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses then whisk in the sour cream until smooth. 

Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared baking dish, then top with the chicken mixture and the remaining macaroni.  Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the top.  

Put the remaining 2 tbsp of butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted.  Stir in the panko crumbs, blue cheese and parsley.  Sprinkle over the macaroni.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.  Let rest about 10 minutes before serving.   Serves a small army!

July 27, 2010

Beef Stroganoff & Mad Men

I wanted to make something special for the season premier of Mad Men on Sunday. I figured a comfort dish from the 60's would be a great fit.  I gave my husband an option between 2 of his favorite meal:  Meatloaf and Beef Stroganoff.  It was a tough decision but he chose Beef Stroganoff.  I was surprised because he usually goes for meatloaf without hesitating.  I went for the crockpot method so I could throw it on after we got back from the lake and relax the rest of the day while smelling the magic happen.

If you haven't seen an episode of Mad Men, you must do so now.  It's a great show and Don Draper is too cool for school and super hot.  End of story!

2 lbs round steak, cut into 1 inch cubes, fat removed
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 c all purpose flour
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 large onion, cut into half rounds
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 c dry red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 c beef broth
1/4 c dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled
1 c heavy cream
Noodles or long-grain rice for serving

Mix the salt, pepper, paprika and flour in a large plastic ziplock bag.  Add the meat, toss to coat and shake off the excess flour.  Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the meat a few pieces at a time and brown all sides.

Transfer the browned meat to the insert of a 5-7 quart slow cooker.  Add the onions and cremini mushrooms to the skillet.  Saute over medium-high heat until the vegetables are softened and browned. (7-9 minutes)

Transfer the contents of the skillet to the slow-cooker insert.  Deglaze the skillet with the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire, and broth and heat.  Transfer the liquid to the slow-cooker inset and stir in the porcini mushrooms.

Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.  Stir in the cream, cover, and cook on low for an additional hour.

Serve with noodles or steamed long-grain rice.  Serves 8.

July 26, 2010

Cannoli Ice Cream

We were in the mood for something cool and sinful this weekend.  My husband suggested that he whip up a batch of ice cream.   I wasn't going to argue.  This is the first time he's made ice cream this summer.  He usually makes a few batches every year and we share the majority of it with friends.  In the past he's made flavors such as coffee, cheesecake, cinnamon oatmeal cookie dough, chocolate peanut butter swirl, honey ice cream and more that I can't recall.  My favorite has been the cinnamon oatmeal cookie dough so far.  It's very similar to the Ben & Jerry's version in my opinion.  It was not only my favorite due to the fact that I made the cookie dough but my husband is an amazing ice cream maker.  Also, oatmeal cookies are my fave as well as anything with cinnamon!   I'd love to hear your recipes & suggestions for a crazy concoction. What other ice cream should he make? 

He's not positive where he found the original recipe he adapted or else I'd give props.  If you love cannolis you'll love this. The recipe only makes a small batch so it's perfect for a sinful treat in a small dose or to double to share.  Some sort of cookie crumble over the top would be good in my opinion.

Cannoli Ice Cream
1 3/4 c whole milk ricotta cheese
2/3 c sugar
2/3 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp Grand Marnier (you can substitute with frozen orange juice concentrate)
zest of one small lemon
pinch of kosher or sea salt
1/4 c pistachios, chopped
1/4 c mini chocolate chips

In a food processor, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, sugar, and vanilla until well blended.  With cover on and blade spinning, slowly pour in the heavy cream.  Add the Grand Marnier.  Place the mixture in a bowl, and place that bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water.  Set in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.

Churn in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions.   Mix in pistachios and chocolate chips after ice cream has firmed up a bit.  Place in a container in freezer until firm.  Makes about 2 pints.  

July 21, 2010

Whoopie Pie Wednesday

Cakeballs are fabulous.  Cupcakes are fabulous.  Anything with frosting is fabulous.  Whoopie Pies have now been confirmed by me as fabulous!  I've been wanting to try these out for a while now.  I finally caved.  I made Red Velvet and Devil's Food. Ohh emm geeee!!   Babe, you're taking these to work for the guys to devour.  I've had one of each flavor and I'm going to have to let them go far away from me or I'm gonna have to call in sick tomorrow just so I can stay home to stuff my face with this sweetness in private!

1 Box Cake Mix (any flavor)
2 eggs
1/2 c butter (1 stick)

Beat ingredients in a mixer until combined.   Using cookie scoop, place them on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 10-11 minutes.  Let cool in pan about 5 minutes transfer to rack to cool completely while you make the filling.  Or you could just enjoy them as cookies.  They're very moist! But why wouldn't you want frosting?!

Cream Cheese Filling
1 pkg cream cheese, room temperature
2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat all ingredients in a small bowl until combined.   Add powdered sugar in increments of 1/2 c to thicken if needed.  Spread about 2 tablespoons of filling on the flat surface of cookies and sandwich together.  Makes 16 cookie sandwiches.

July 19, 2010

Hawaiian Pork Burgers

We really should use our grill more often. It's just too dang hot out there right now.   I love almost anything off the grill.  And it's sad to say but my husband just showed me how to use the grill for the first time. This is my first meal where I've been the grillmaster and not depended on him.  I'm very proud of myself but shame on me for waiting so long.  There are so many possibilities for tasty meals off the grill.  

When the subject of grilling comes up, I think of grilled cheesy dogs, asparagus,  zucchini, squash, pineapple, peaches, beer can chicken, kabobs and burgers.  (In that order too.)  I have a weak spot in my heart for almost burnt cheesy dogs.  Other than that, I only eat hot dogs at baseball stadiums.  Is that weird??  Oh well. 

I've never had a pork burger until now.  I thought this would make a tasty version.  At first it was weird since I'm use to medium well meat.  So when I look down and saw the light color of the pork, it grossed me out at first.  I kept thinking it was undercooked.  I got over it.  It was delicious!!  Enjoy!

1 lb ground pork
2 tbsp pineapple juice
1/3 c red bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 c yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 c green bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a medium bowl thoroughly combine teriyaki sauce, pineapple juice, all bell peppers, salt and pepper. Add pork and gently bring all the ingredients together with your hands; do not over-work the meat. With dampened hands, form pork mixture into 4 patties of even thickness, or make 6 smaller patties, if desired. Transfer patties to a lined baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Light the grill or preheat the broiler. Cook patties, turning each carefully with a spatula once, for about 6 minutes per side, or until just cooked through.

I served on a whole wheat bun with spicy mustard and lettuce.  The spicy mustard went really nice with the flavor.

July 6, 2010

Healthy Hummus Wraps

It's too dang hot to cook or bake.   The less meals I have to slave over a hot stove for, the better.  I threw this light and healthy meal together because I was just plain exhausted and didn't want to be near more heat.  Texas, you're brutal this year.  I've never been a fan of you during the summer months but I'll manage to get along fine.

This is actually a very healthy, light and colorful meal.  Step away from that stove and enjoy this for lunch or dinner.

4 wheat or flour tortillas
4 tbsp hummus (any flavor you wish, I used roasted red pepper)
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1 c shredded lettuce
1 medium roma tomato, diced
4 tbsp feta cheese
2 tsp capers

Spread about 1 tbsp evenly on each tortilla.  Place about 3-4 slices of cucumber down the middle of each wrap.  Sprinkle remaining ingredients on each wrap evenly.  (lettuce, tomato, feta and capers) Fold and enjoy.   If you want more protein or more filling, add grilled chicken.  I used a leftover breast from the Tuscan Chicken recipe.  It added a lot of flavor!!

July 5, 2010

4th of July & Berry Cobbler

I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th of July.   Thankfully the rain subsided and we were able to enjoy fireworks last night.  We brought Daxter along with us as well.   He was excited at first and we were having second thoughts but after we settled in, he relaxed and was more calm.   He even watched the beautiful fireworks with us and it was almost as entertaining to watch him than the show.   I'm sharing a cobbler recipe that I made that turned out wonderful.  It had a perfect berry flavor and crispy, buttery crust.  Thanks for the idea Pioneer Woman!

1 c self-rising flour
1 c milk
1 stick of butter, melted
1 c sugar + 1/4 c, separated
1 c raspberries
1 c blueberries
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in a microwavable dish.  Set aside to let cool.  Pour 1 c of sugar and all the flour into a mixing bowl, whisking in milk.  Mix well.  Then, pour in the melted butter and vanilla and whisk it all well together.  Butter a baking dish.

Rinse and pat dry the berries.  Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish.  Sprinkle the berries over the top of the batter, distributing evenly.  Sprinkle the 1/4 c sugar over the top.

Bake for 1 hour or until golden and bubbly.  Serve with ice cream or cool whip.

July 3, 2010

Citrus Lunch

It's been a few months since the girls and I have had a chance to get together over delicious homemade food and girl talk.  Our fabulous friend, Lesley, finally took the lead and scheduled a lunch at her place with the theme being Citrus.  This was a perfect idea for the sweltering summer in Texas.  I was really excited about it and went through several recipes and ideas in my head of what I would make.  Everything we made went so well together and we really explored the spectrum of citrus more than I expected. Citrus flavors such as lemon, lime, orange and tangerine were featured.  I loved everything but I think my new friend, Alice, has a special place in my heart with this round.  She made the dish that leaves something delectable and memorable on my tastebuds.  Her lemon crepes were so amazing!  You can eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  The lemon sauce is not too tart or too sweet.  It's just right.  Alice, I'm still waiting on that recipe.  ;p

Pictured in order below starting top left:
Stephanie - Margarita Shrimp Tacos
Lesley - Tomato Zucchini Augratin
Elisabeth - Tangerine Sorbet
Alice - Lemon Crepes
Chrystal - White Wine Sangria & Caribbean Chicken Salad w/Jerk Lime Dressing (see my recipes below)

White Citrus Sangria

1/2 c sugar
3/4 c orange-flavored liquer or orange juice (I used Contrieu)
3/4 c vodka or lemon-lime carbonated beverage (I used vodka)
2 medium nectarines, thinly slices
1 medium orange, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 bottle dry white wine or white grape juice, chilled (I used wine)
1 liter club soda chilled

In a half gallon pitcher, stir sugar, orange liqueur and vodka until sugar is dissolved.   Add the fruit and wine.  Refrigerate until serving.  Just before serving, pour the club soda into pitcher and stir gently to mix.  Serve over ice if desired. 

Caribbean Chicken Salad
Feel free to add 1 diced, peeled mango if you want. I also believe pineapple chunks and/or shredded coconut would make this a true Caribbean recipe.  Try it out and let me know!  I am going to try those additions next time.

2 containers (6oz each) fat free Pina Colada Yogurt
1 1/2 tsp Jerk Seasoning
juice of 2 limes

3 c shredded romaine lettuce (1 large bunch)
2 c shredded cooked chicken
1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed & drained
1-2 medium chopped and seeded tomatoes
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 c cashews
2 c shredded colby-jack cheese, divided

In a small bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients until well blended.  Cover and refrigerate while preparing the salad.

In a 4 qt clear glass trifle or serving bowl, layer the salad ingredients.  Lettuce, chicken, black beans, 1 c cheese, tomatoes, remaining 1 cheese and green onions.  Pour half of the dressing evenly over salad then sprinkle cashews on top.  Serve the remaining dressing on the side with the salad.  Makes 6 healthy servings.