Saturday, May 29, 2010

Homemade Pizza

Okay, it's nothing fancy. I didn't make the crust, I didn't grate the cheese, I didn't even slice the mushrooms. But I did bake it myself, and by not ordering it from the local pizza place, I felt justified in putting it up here. More than anything, it makes for good ideas. Usually when you want pizza, you order up the greasy goodness, and if you get more than just one topping, you're really paying for it. This is a healthier, hopefully cheaper alternative that you might feel better about and have fun doing. This was also the perfect way to use up some extra veggies I had before going out of town (beach time!). Use whatever toppings you like; again, I'll write down what I did. (What I like about this pizza is that I don't use tomato sauce--just diced tomatoes. I think it makes it a little bit lighter.)

Homemade Pizza

1 can Pillsbury pizza crust (I used thin crust)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 chopped green bell pepper
handful of sliced mushrooms
handful of sliced pepperoni (I'm not very good with my measurements)
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Prebake the crust for at least 8 minutes! When crust is prebaked, top with toppings and bake for another 8-10 minutes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Southwest Veggie Dip

This is one of our absolute favorites, and we never have to feel guilty about eating it! (Might have to work on portion size, though, since we eat the whole bowl.) I adadpted this recipe from a dip my sister made called Texas Caviar that used a can of black-eyed peas. This one has black beans, and that suited me better. Although I'm putting it on here as a dip to eat with chips, we've made it to serve atop grilled chicken breasts. It's another one that you can add to according to your tastes. I love this dip with some sliced avocado, but I forgot to get one from the grocery store; it's great with some chopped onion. Of course, all of the ingredients would be excellent fresh, but canned veggies are our way to go for this one. It's as easy as opening cans.

Southwest Veggie Dip

1 can diced tomatoes, mostly drained
1 can corn
1 can black beans, drained
1/4 cup of jalapenos, chopped
1 Tbsp vinegar
handful of cilantro, chopped
dash of cumin
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Allow dip to sit for at least half an hour in the refrigerator before serving.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread

Are you loving all of the posts I've been able to do since school is out? I usually put up one per week, but now I have a record four in one day! Whoo hoo! (Side note 1: It was silly of me to start this thing at the end of the school year when things are busy, but apparently that's how I roll--making things unnecessarily complicated. Side note 2: It's a good thing I have four posts from today. I have nothing else to show for the twelve hours I've been awake. Zero. Nothing.) As nice as all the posts are, just being able to cook this much since school is out is even better, so now we're moving on to the cheesy cornbread muffins (from scratch!), another Barefoot Contessa recipe.

I halved the recipe, and it fit perfectly into a 12-cup muffin tin. This accompanied the soup nicely, but it would go well with a lot of dishes. They weren't really that spicy, but the change of extra color and flavor to the cornbread was well worth it. Very good.

Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread (the halved recipe)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/8 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
2 scallions, chcopped
2 Tbsp seeded and minced jalapenos

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are gone. Don't overmix! Mix in the Cheddar, the scallions, and the jalapenos. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly spray the muffin tin with cooking spray (or an 8"x8" pan, if you don't want the individual muffins).

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, and sprinkle with any remaining cheese or scallions, if desired. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Mexican Chicken Soup

I love Mexican food, and I'll often just get some tortilla soup at a restaurant, hoping that the chicken broth and vegetables will be good enough for me to counteract the three bowls of chips I inevitably eat by myself. Sometimes the soups are better than others. This one is excellent and healthy! It also feeds an army, so be prepared to cut the recipe in half, or make room in your freezer. Five people had bowls of soup, and we didn't make a dent in it. It was SO good though, so eating more isn't a problem. I served it with cheesy cornbread muffins and pineapple margaritas, and all of the recipes were from Ina Garten. I followed her recipe exactly, except I didn't have coriander, so I left that out. I would definitely make this again!

Mexican Chicken Soup

4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes in puree
2-4 jalalpenos, seeded and minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro (optional, if you're one of those people who doesn't like it)
6 tortillas
For serving: sour cream, shredded cheese, sliced avocado, and tortilla chips

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 3 Tbsp olive oil over medium low heat. Add onions, celery, and carrots, and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions are slightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, one tablespoon of salt (depending on the saltiness of the stock), one teaspoon of black pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Tear the tortillas in half; then tear them into 1/2" strips, and drop into the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot, topped with cheese, sour cream, avocado, and broken tortilla chips.

Pineapple Margaritas

These are good and strong! One or two will do the trick, and you'll be thanking your designated driver. They don't have an overwhelming tequila taste, but you can just taste that they're strong. They're not quite as sweet as I was expecting, but still very good. (And also--Geaux Tigers!) The original recipe is from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. I cut the lime juice down to one cup instead of two, as the recipe reviewers suggested.

Pineapple Margaritas

2 cups tequila
2 cups triple sec
2 1/2 cups pineapple juice
1 cup lime juice

Mix ingredients and serve over ice.

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I forgot to take a picture of the dip before I served it, but I was lucky to get that much of it in the picture; in 30 minutes, the whole thing was gone. This was good and easy! I even took a shortcut and used canned chicken breast instead of actually defrosting and grilling more chicken breasts. Biz had a few friends over tonight to see what happened to Jack Bauer, and everyone filled up on this first! Very yummy. Thanks to my teacher friend, Gina Davies, for her recipe!
Buffalo Chicken Dip
2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (or 2-3 cans cooked chicken breast)
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese
1 cup Frank's (Buffalo) hot sauce
1 cup ranch dressing
2 cups shredded mozarella and jack cheeses
Lightly spray a 9"x12" pan with cooking spray. Heat oven to 350.
Cut the cold cream cheese into small blocks and place evenly in the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of half of the mozzarella/jack cheese mixture over the cream cheese. Cover cheese layers with ranch and hot sauce. Bake uncovered for 7-10 minutes. Then remove from oven, stir, and bake for another 7-10 minutes. Stir well so that cream cheese has melted and combined with other ingredients. Add chicken to the pan and add last cup of cheese mixture Cover with foil, and bake for 20-30 mintues. Serve warm with chips, bread, or celery sticks.

Pesto Calzone Braid

Oh my gosh, this is soooo good. My pictures show my messiness but probably don't show how delicious the calzone is. (The braid also looks so impressive!) Again, I don't have a nice serving dish to take a pretty picture, but I could take a picture of the empty pan and few crumbs left, since Biz and I ate the whole thing in one sitting. In the recipe I got from Plain Chicken, she used chicken as the main filling (besides cheese, tomato sauce, and pesto), but we added pepperoni, green bell pepper, and mushrooms. So delicious! We'll definitely make this again!

As you can see in the pictures, the dough got a little sticky when I was trying to cut it and cross the strips. That's because it was hotter than the sun in the house; we turned the AC off in the house since we went out of town, and it was still easily 80 degrees in the house.

Pesto Calzone Braid

1 can crescent rolls
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped (I used one chicken breast)
1/3 cup pesto
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
(we added pepperoni and 1/4 green bell pepper, chopped)

Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (or in my case, foil).

Finely chop chicken. In a large bowl, mix chicken, pesto, ricotta, garlic, tomato paste, parmesan, and mozzarella. Mix all until well combined.

Unroll crescent roll dough, and arrange flat on a baking sheet, pinching the seams together to form a single sheet of dough. Using scissors or a knife, cut one-inch strips in toward the center, starting from the long sides. There should be a solid strip, about three inches wide, down the center, with the cut strips forming a fringe down each side.

Spread the chicken mixture down the center strip. Fold the side strips across the chicken mixture, alternating sides. Pinch or twist to seal. Bake at 375 for 25-28 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

Whenever I make this, I always wonder why I don't do it more often. It's so good, so easy, and it makes enough for lunch the next day; it's one of Bizzuck's favorites. My food processor decided to cut my finger and then not work to chop up the ingredients for the pesto, so we just had whole sun-dried tomatoes--still delicious. I can't say enough good things about this tasty pasta dish. Thanks, Giada!

Penne with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

1 lb penne pasta
2 chicken breasts, grilled and shredded
1 (8.5oz) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water. Reserve one cup of the cooking liquid before draining.

In a food processor, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, the garlic, the basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour in a bowl. Add pasta and parmesan cheese to pesto mixture, and toss to coat. Add enough of the cooking liquid to moisten. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Parmesan Broiled Tilapia

We've made this several times (again starting in Lent), and it always looks and tastes so good. It came from AllRecipes originially, but we tweak it every time. Most recently we added a little bit of ranch dressing, which was delicious. I've only made it with frozen tilapia fillets, and I'm sure it's even better with fresh fish. It's fast too--start to finish in 10 minutes!

Parmesan Broiled Tilapia

2 pounds tilapia fillets
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter (I only used about 2 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp mayonaisse (can cut back)
1 Tbsp ranch dressing
1/2 Tbsp mustard
2 Tbsp lemon juice (I used lime juice)
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 onion powder (didn't have any)
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Preheat broiler. Line pan or baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Mix together parmesan cheese, butter, mayo, ranch, and mustard. Season with basil, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Set aside.

Arrange fillets on a single layer on the baking sheet. Broil a few inches from the heat for three minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil three more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the parmesan mixture on the top side. Broil for 2-3 more minutes or until the topping is brown.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Beer Cheese Dip

This was a hit at the teachers' luncheon we just had. I thought it was good, but I think I could add a lot to it that would make it better. Jalapenos, bacon, green onions, tomatoes--any or all of the above would boost the flavor (and the color--what a monochromatic picture! I added the Ritz in a desperate attempt to make it look better. I'll get better with the pictures--and the serving dishes--one day!). The original recipe from AllRecipes said to serve it in a bread bowl, which would have made it even better. It was also good because it took about two minutes to throw together with ingredients I already had.

Beer Cheese Dip

2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
2 (8oz) packages shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup beer
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
(if desired--1 (1lb) loaf round bread)
Mix together first four ingredients with a mixer until smooth. Serve in hollowed out loaf of bread (replace top of bread between servings) or in a dish with chips or crackers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Loaded Quesadillas

This isn't so much of a new recipe as it is just a tasty meal we already make some weeknights. We started doing this during Lent when I couldn't eat meat on Fridays. Bizzuck would add chicken to his then, but we've still had these with just vegetables when I've forgetten to take chicken out of the freezer. It's great because you can add whatever veggies or meat you want to it. This would be great with cilantro, jalapenos, mushrooms, and of course with steak and probably shrimp or fish. It would be great to serve with Mexican rice, but we usually pair it with a hefty serving of chips and salsa and don't have room for anything else. A lof of it is left up to the chef and his tastebuds, but this is what we went with.

Loaded Quesadillas

4 tortillas

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

1/2 onion, chopped and grilled (grilling or sauteeing the onion makes them so sweet and so good)

1/2 green pepper, chopped (we also grilled this)

1 medium tomato, chopped

1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup shredded cheese

Heat griddle or pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Grill onions and peppers for about 10 minutes and take off. Put two tortillas on griddle and top each with 1/4 cup of cheese, then beans, green pepper, onions, tomato, and chicken. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese and the other tortillas. After 7-8 minutes, flip the quesadillas and cook for another 7-8 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

He's only the best looking dog in the world. I love how he's smiling in the first picture.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Apple Enchiladas

Mmmm...these are good. I was looking for a dessert recipe with apples since we were cooking for Bizzuck's mom for Mother's Day, and she likes apples. I adapted this recipe from one on AllRecipes. It was fast and easy, and it makes a lot. You could easily split the enchiladas in half and have enough dessert for twelve people instead of six. Serving it with ice cream also stretches the recipe (and makes it more delicious). I didn't have any pecans or walnuts, but I bet they'd be great sprinkled in the enchiladas or on top.

(Before and after baking)

Apple Enchiladas
2 (20-oz) cans apple pie filling (I got the no-sugar added kind and gave it a rough chop)
6 flour tortillas
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 (8oz) container of whipped cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (5 Tbsp) butter
1/3 cup water
Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, mix the two cans of apple pie filling with the cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl, mix the powdered sugar with the cream cheese. Spread some of the cream cheese mixture on each tortilla, and spoon the apple filling on top. Roll up tortillas and place seam-side-down on a lightly greased 8x8" baking pan. (I had leftovers of the cream cheese mixture and the apple filling, so I put what I had left on top of the tortillas.)
In a sauce pan, bring the butter, white and brown sugars, and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for three minutes. Pour sauce over the tortillas. Bake for about 40 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

These are sooo good. Everyone loves the cookie dough more than the cookies anyway, so these treats let everyone indulge themselves on what they'd rather be eating. Plus, there isn't raw egg in these to worry about (not that I've ever worried about that when eating cookie dough, but I know I'm supposed to). It does take a little while since you have to refrigerate/freeze the dough at different times, so plan to do this in stages. Also, dipping them in chocolate at the end can get a little messy, so be prepared! Thanks to Plain Chicken for the tasty recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

1 stick butter at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 cups flour
1 (14-oz can) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 lb chocolate bark or chocolate candy coating

Combine the butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl, and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the flour, condensed milk, and vanilla until incorporated and smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate until the mixture has firmed up enough to form balls.

Shape the chilled cookie dough mixture into balls. I use a spoon to scoop them, which means they come out smaller, but you could do them any size. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Cover loosely, put the pan in the freezer, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to dip them, melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. Dip each chilled truffle, one at a time, in the chocolate, and gently shake off any excess. You can do this all with spoons or with your hands (which gets messy but is fun). If the cookie dough gets too soft at any point, put them back in the freezer for a few minutes. Once all the cookie dough bites have been dipped in chocolate, store them in the refrigerator.