Monday, February 28, 2011

Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Pesto Pizza

I pretty much love anything that involves pesto.
And who doesn't love pizza?
This is a great combination.
Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Pesto Pizza
1/2 batch basil pesto sauce
1/2 c. sun dried tomatoes
2 c. mozzarella cheese
1 chicken breast, shredded or cubed

Prepare pizza dough.
Spread pesto over dough.
Sprinkle 1 c. cheese over pesto.
Arrange chicken and sun dried tomatoes evenly over pizza.
Top with remaining 1 c. cheese.
Bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes, until cheese is browned slightly and crust it cooked through.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kale and Potatoes au Gratin

This is a great way to sneak some greens into your diet!
Kale and Potatoes au Gratin
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
8 strips bacon
1 c. chopped onions
16 oz. kale, stems removed
6-8 medium potatoes (russett, red, gold) sliced 1/4" thick
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 400.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
Str in flour until a paste forms.
Slowly whisk in milk; bring to a simmer.
Add 1 1/4 c. cheese and stir until cheese is melted.

In a frying pan, cook bacon until crisp; drain and crumble.
Add onions to bacon drippings and saute over medium heat until tender.
Chop kale leaves roughly and add to pot; saute for 30 seconds.

Layer half of the potatoes in a 9x13" dish, adn season with half of salt and pepper.
Add half of the kale and onions.
Reserve 2 Tbsp. of the bacon; sprinkle half of the remaining amount over kale.
Repeat layering.
Pour cheese sauce over everything.

Bake for 40-50 minutes.
Top with remaining cheese and bacon; bake for 5-10 minutes, or until browned.
Makes 8 servings.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Penne

Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Penne
Recipe from Sweet Basil

1 c. water
1/4 c. white wine OR chicken broth
1 tsp. chicken bouillon
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 c. uncooked penne pasta
1 c. sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil) cut in half
3 Tbsp. chopped shallots
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 c. frozen peas, thawed
2 tsp. dried basil

In a large nonstick skillet, bring the water, wine ad bouillon to a boil.
Reduce heat; carefully add chicken.
Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions.

Remove chicken from pan, reserving the cooking liquid.
Set chicken aside to cool slightly.
Add the tomatoes and shallots to the cooking liquid and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until tender.

Combine the cornstarch, milk, tomato paste and salt until smooth; stir into the pan until blended.
Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Shred chicken with two forks; add to the sauce.
Drain pasta; add to sauce.
Add the cheese, peas and basil; cook and stir until heated through.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ultimate Meatloaf with Vegetable Gravy

 I usually make this meatloaf by itself, but I had a lot of fresh veggies so I put it all together.
If you don't have the veggies, just serve it with ketchup and whatever else you have.
It is great either way.
Ultimate Meatloaf
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 pkg. chicken stove top
1/2 c. BBQ sauce
1/3 c. onion, grated or diced
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. water
1/3 c. cracked wheat
dash worcestershire sauce

Mix ingredients together and place in a greased bread pan or casserole dish.
Spread an additional 1/2 c. BBQ sauc eon top of loaf after molded.
Bake at 375 for 1 hour.

Vegetable Gravy
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsop. minced garlic
2 c. cubed yellow squash
2 c. cubed zucchini
1 1/2 c. sugar snap peas OR beans
1 c. diced red bell pepper
1 c. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
1/4 c. flour
1 c. beef broth

Melt butter with oil over high heat.
Add garlic for 30 seconds.
Stir in vegetables.
Whisk flour into broth and add to skillet.
Stir occassionally until thickened.
Serve over meatloaf.

Friday, February 18, 2011

French Peasant Bread

This is a very simple recipe, with very few ingredients.
I like it best when toasted and for making crostini,
but it is also good plain.
I love the crust; chewy and perfectly seasoned.
The best part?  No oil.  A good recipe to have on hand in case of emergencies and you have limited ingredient options.
French Peasant Bread
Picture and Recipe from Confessions of a Bake-a-holic
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 T sugar
2 tsp salt
4 cups flour
corn meal
melted butter
desired toppings, optional (sprinkle with garlic salt, a combination of rosemary and coarse salt, or garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. Experiment.) **I used parmesan cheese and garlic bread seasoning.

Fill a large mixing bowl with hot water and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
Pour out water and dry bowl.
Place yeast, water, sugar, and salt in the warmed bowl.
Stir until dissolved.
Add flour and stir until blended.  Do not knead.
Cover and let rise one hour or until doubled in size.
Flour hands, remove dough from the bowl and shape into two tall rounds.
Place rounds on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkled with cornmeal.
Let rise an additional hour.
Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with desired toppings.
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 375 and cook an additional 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush again with melted butter.
Serve warm.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mint Brownies

This from-scratch brownie recipe is the best!  Perfect for whatever type of brownie you are making.  This particular post is paired with the frosting recipes from Our Best Bites.
A great go to dessert!
 Mint Brownies
1 c. butter, melted
2 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour

Mint Frosting:
2 c. powdered sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1-2 Tbsp. milk
green food coloring

Chocolate Glaze:
6 oz (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil making sure the foil extends over the edges by at least one inch.
Lightly spray with non-stick spray and set aside.

Cream butter, sugar and cocoa.
Add vanilla.
Add eggs, one at a time.
Blend in flour.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a knife poked in center comes out clean.
Cool completely on a metal rack.

When brownies have cooled to room temperature, prepare frosting:
Combine all frosting ingredients, starting with 1 1/2 tablespoon of milk, and beat until light and fluffy.
Add more milk by teaspoonful as needed.
Spread frosting evenly over brownies and then place brownies in fridge to chill.

While brownies are chilling prepare chocolate glaze.
Place chocolate chips and 6 tablespoons butter in a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted and smooth.
Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes and then carefully spread on top of the frosting layer.
Return pan to fridge to cool.
When chocolate has hardened, use edges of foil to remove entire brownie from pan.
Cut into squares and serve.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Potato Crisps

These are a great side dish, or a perfect alternative to potato chips (not to mention they are much better for you).
Potato Crisps
New Potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
seasoning of choice (I like thyme, rosemary, or herbs de provence, but you can use whatever).

Wash potatoes and pat dry.
Thinly slice (about 1/8") thick.
Toss together with olive oil and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil.
Bake at 400 for 25-35 minutes, until tops are browned and potatoes are crunchy.
Eat plain or with your favorite dipping sauce.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Double Dipped Fried Chicken

We hardly ever have fried chicken.
When we do, this is the recipe I like to use.
It is simple,and turns out great tasting, juicy chicken.

** Quick Cooking Tip: There are a lot of methods to frying chicken, but I have found that one of the most important things is how you apply the seasoning.
Most recipes combine the spices with the flour mixture (in the coating).  The coating then comes in contact with the hot oil, which burns the spice, pretty much rendering it useless or bitter.
The secret is to apply the seasoning directly to the chicken, and then coat it in the flour mixture.
This will guarantee a perfectly delicious, seasoned piece of meat.
Double Dipped Fried Chicken
Recipe modified from Paula Deen

6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (or whatever pieces you have)
3 Tbsp. Salt
5 c. Flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. Season Salt
1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Ground Black Pepper
3 Eggs
Peanut Oil

Rinse chicken well. Place chicken in a large bowl and add enough water to cover.
Add salt and soak at least 30 min in the fridge.
In a separate bowl, stir together flour, kosher salt, and pepper.
In a small bowl beat eggs.

Drain chicken and pat dry.
Season chicken thoroughly with season salt.
Dip each piece in beaten eggs and then flour.
Place on a floured baking sheet.

I always fry in an electric frying pan - I find it easier to monitor the temperature that way.  You can use whatever.
Heat oil to 325 or 350.

Dredge each chicken in egg and flour again and shake off excess.
Carefully place in oil and fry until golden, turning once or twice.

Remove from oil and place on paper towel.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jalapeno Cheese Bread

This is a great alternative to garlic bread.
And don't worry about it being too hot.  I am a complete pansy when it comes to spicy food.
Somehow the cheese just makes it mellow out perfectly.
Jalapeno Cheese Bread
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1 small jalapeno, diced
french bread or baguettes

Slice 2 pieces of bread - 1" thick.
Mix cheese and jalapeno and dump on top.
Place under broiler until cheese melts and browns slightly.
Serve immediately.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

I love love love that these aren't fried!
Crispy and flavorful, without any of the grease!
Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos
Recipe from Our Best Bites
1/3 c. (3 oz) cream cheese
1/4 c. green salsa
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. granulated garlic, or garlic powder
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. sliced green onions
2 c. shredded cooked chicken
1 c. grated pepperjack cheese
small corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray

Heat oven to 425.
Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it's soft and easy to stir.
Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and granulated garlic.
Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions.
Add chicken and cheese and combine well.
Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll without cracking (it helps to place them between damp paper towels).

Place 2-3 Tbsp. of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges.
Then roll it up as tight as you can.
Place seam side down on the baking sheet.
Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other.
Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.
Dip in salsa, sour cream, guacamole, etc.

**If freezing: Lay in a single layer until frozen.  Place in freezer bags until ready to use.  Cook in microwave, or in oven (add an extra 5 minutes or so).**

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vanilla Pudding

For some reason I feel an intense desire to have a recipe for everything so I can make it from scratch.
So... just in case you run out of pudding box mixes, give this a try.
It is an excellent substitute.
Vanilla Pudding
1 1/2 c. pudding mix (see recipe below)
2 1/2 c. water
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a sauce pan add pudding mix, water and egg.
Cook until mixture starts to thicken, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla; stirring to combine.
Put into cups/molds and refrigerate until cooled.

Pudding Mix:
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. powdered milk
3/4 c. corn starch
1 tsp. salt

Mix together and store in a sealed container until needed.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Creamy Tomato Soup

This is SO SO EASY to make, and tastes MUCH BETTER than the condensed soup from a can.
(even though this recipe does come from a can)
Creamy Tomato Soup
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes with garlic, onions and herbs
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
8oz. fat-free or reduced fat cream cheese
2 c. milk
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Place all ingredients in saucepan and heat though.
For chunky soup leave as is (allowing cheese to melt), or puree until desired consistency is reached.