Monday, August 17, 2009

Chicken Spinach & Feta Pizza



It all started when Brian said "what are we going to do with the chicken breast in the fridge?" It ended with one of the best dinners we've had in a while.  So good, in fact, that I'm making it again this week. Even Becca went for 2 full, huge slices!

Ingredients:  Amounts are to your own preference, thus no measurements are listed.
Whole Wheat Pizza CrustChicken, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
Mozzarella
Olive Oil
Garlic, diced
Spinach, cooked in advance
Feta Cheese, crumbled
Oregano
Basil

Directions:

Bake the pizza crust for 2-3 minutes on it's own, then remove from oven.

Drizzle the crust with olive oil, spreading  evenly into a light layer.  (I use this instead of pizza sauce)

Spread on the mozzarella, then the feta, garlic, chicken and spinach. Sprinkle lightly with oregano and basil.

Bake for another 8-10 minutes or until toppings are melted and crust is browned.

Source: An Original Laura Recipe

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust



I've been looking for a 100% whole grain pizza crust for quite some time. I love, love, LOVE this crust, and I've often made it w/ half wheat bread flour & half white, but the 100% wheat version was bleh. When I saw this recipe, I saved it immediately and it did not disappoint.

My only change to the recipe, aside from doubling it- it only makes 1 large crust- was to bake the crust for a few minutes prior to adding toppings. My crust was still a bit doughy otherwise.

Ingredients:

2C whole wheat flour
3/4 C water
1T honey
1T olive oil
1t kosher salt
1/2 t instant yeast

Directions:

In a medium sized bowl, stir together 1 1/4 C of the whole wheat flour, the salt and 1/2C of the water to create the soaker. Stir until well combined. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap, then set aside.

Next, to make the preferment, mix together 2/3 C of the whole wheat flour, the yeast and ~ 1/4C of the flour.water. Stir together until well combined. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Let the soaker and preferment sit for 1 hour (or up to 12 hours).

Place the preferment (yeasted mix) in the bottom of an electric mixer bowl, then add the soaker to the bowl in chunks.  Add in the honey, olive oil and the rest of the flour. Mix on low speed until combined, about 1 minute, then increase speed to medium and mix for an additional 3-4 minutes.

Place the dough ball back into a bowl and let rest for 1 hour (or refrigerate overnight- let the dough rest at room temp for 3 hours after refrigeration)

Preheat oven to 550°.

Roll out and shape the dough on a lightly floured surface. Add desired toppings to your pizza and bake for 10-12 minutes on a heated baking stone or pizza sheet.

Source: Brew and Bake

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fudgey Brownies

Holding true to my "Ugly photo means great food" rule
 Holding true to my Ugly photo means great food rule

I've had this recipe saved for a LONG time. It finally seemed like a good time to dig it out and make it a few nights ago. I figured that after eating almost-entirely vegetables, with a tiny bit of lean meat for dinner I could justify eating half a pan of brownies.... you with me on that? Good. :)

They were delightful, no surprise. And, by the way... the batter for these is the absolute best brownie batter I've ever eaten. Someone needs to make this into a brownie batter ice cream. NOM

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa (I used Hersey's Special Dark since I don't have & can't find Dutch-process cocoa
anywhere)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional (I left it out)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Spray a 13x9 inch pan lightly with oil.

Either in the microwave, or in a small saucepan on the stove top, melt the butter, then add in the sugar. Stir together, then heat again and stir once more.

As the butter/sguar heats up the second time, beat the eggs in a bowl of an electric mixer, then combine with the cocoa, salt, baking powder and vanilla (and espresso if you're using it).

Blend in the sugar & butter mix until smooth.

Add in the flour and chocolate chips and mix until well combined and smooth.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a knife/toothpick/something comes clean when inserted.

Let cool completely before cutting.

Source: King Arthur Flour

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

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I really enjoy making bread (which you can probably tell, as that seems to dominate my blog most of the time). However, I've grown to prefer wheat breads over white breads which usually require a pre-ferment process, thus requiring some advance planning.

A few days ago I was really wanting to make some bread right then so I started sifting through some saved recipes that were a 1 day recipe. This one has been saved for a while, then showed up on the back of one of my flour bags, so I gave it a shot.

This bread was great, it was labeled as a sandwich bread and that really described it well. It was soft and fluffy, but the oatmeal gave it more dimension than a standard white sandwich bread would have.

Ingredients:
1 cup water
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground (I did mine in a food processor)
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups bread Flour


Directions:

 Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a large mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix until the dough forms a shaggy mass, then switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. (I had to add a bit more flour to the mix since it was very sticky.)

Move the dough to a lightly oiled bowl to rest for 1 hour. (The original recipe states that the dough will get a bit puffy, but may not double. Mine doubled- in fact by 1 hour it was HUGE)

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled counter top and shape into a loaf.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°.

Place the loaf into a lightly oiled bread pan and let rest again for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough crests just above the lip of the bread pan.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the center reads 190°. If the bread is browning too quickly, for the last 10 minutes tent foil over the loaf.

Source: King Athur Flour

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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Brian has been begging me to make a pineapple upside-down cake for months and months now, but I never get around to it. Finally, I had some time to bake and asked him if he had a preference. When he requested this again I thought perhaps I should come through on my promise to make it.

We really enjoyed this, however we both thought that it was a bit more cake and less caramel sauce than we'd prefer otherwise. Next time I might just leave out a bit of the cake batter when I make it to make the ratio a bit more to our liking. Otherwise, it was delish. In fact, it was even better the 2nd day. I love when food does that!

Ingredients:

Topping:
1 cup of firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 can (20 oz) of pineapple slices
1 jar maraschino cherries, drained

Cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
6 Tbsp cake flour
6 Tbsp of ground almonds (from about 2 oz of whole almonds)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups of sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
4 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved and the mix is bubbly, then pour into a bunt pan.

Layer the pineapple slices on top of the caramel sauce in the pan. 

To make the cake mix together the flour, almonds, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, then set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add in the vanilla and mix once more.

Alternate adding the flour mix and the sour cream until all ingredients are well combined. Pour the batter over the caramel mix in the bunt pan.

Bake for 60-75 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn upright on a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Source: Joelen's Culinary Adventures

Friday, August 14, 2009

Creamy Parmesan Orzo



I made this recipe a few weeks ago to go along with Chicken Cordon Bleu- which by the way, was a very nice pairing. I confess, though, that I had actually made it one other time several months ago and it was a big, giant FAIL. Last time around I didn't read through the recipe well enough ahead of time. I'd gotten to the point to add the chicken broth, went to grab chicken broth from my cupboard and only then, when the orzo is already going on the stove, realized that the can I'd thought was chicken broth was actually canned pears. I had no chicken broth! Since I had left the heat on while grabbing that can, then during my pear discovery, the orzo ended up burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan and making my kitchen STINK like burned nasty orzo. I was traumatized :)

Thankfully, this time around I read through the recipe several times, and measured out everything I needed before starting even step 1.

When I made it this time I toasted the orzo a bit longer than I would have liked, so a few of the orzo pieces were a bit on the crunchy side- not really what I was going for- so I added a splash of heavy cream that I had out for the cordon bleu sauce and let it simmer for a few extra minutes.

Next time around I may add the heavy cream again since it was very tasty and creamy. I'll probably also lessen the parsley by just a smidge and add garlic to the orzo when it's toasting in the butter.

Creamy Parmesan Orzo
Ingredients:
1 tbsp butter
1 cup orzo
1 1/4 cup fat free, less sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese- I used more like 1/2 a cup
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
*I'll also add 2 cloves of crushed garlic next time

 Directions:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over moderate heat, then add the orzo and toast until some of the orzo is lightly browned (I did this too long and it was crunchier than I would have liked, so keep an eye on it).

Pour the water and chicken broth into the pan and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.

Serve!

Source: Num Yummy Recipes

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Chewy (or rather, The Fluffy) Chocolate Chip Cookie

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These cookies have been making their rounds on cooking blogs for a while now. It seems like every time I open my Google reader there's another The Chewy post. But, I understand why! YUM!

However, Brian and I decided that The Chewy was a bit misleading. We didn't find them chewy, so much as fluffy. Almost cakey. Perhaps we have different definitions of Chewy than the general public? Either way, they were quite tasty!

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375°

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda and set aside.

Melt the butter, then pour into the bowl of an electric mixer.  Blend the sugars with the butter until smooth.  Mix in the egg and egg yolk, milk and vanilla until well combined.

Slowly mix in the flour ingredients until well mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the batter in the refrigerator, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pan 180°. Bake for an additional 9 minutes.

Let cool for a minute or two, then move to a cooling rack.

Source: Alton Brown, Food Network

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sausage Spinach Stuffed Shells

[caption id="attachment_500" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="As usual, comfort food makes for ugly pictures"]As usual, comfort food makes for ugly pictures[/caption]

Remember how I said that I used to not like stuffed shells? Well, now I can't get enough of them!

I concocted these when I had a package of sausage out of the freezer that I had intended on using for something else which fell threw. The spinach needed to be used so I dreamed up these. They were so good, and in my opinion better left over than they were the first time around.

Ingredients:
1 lb sweet Italian pork sausage
4C mozzarella cheese
1/2 jar pasta sauce
16oz ricotta cheese
4C cooked spinach
1/4 t. rosemary
1/4 t. oregano
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 T. parsley

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350°.

Cook the shells according to package directions and drain.

Steam the spinach (I used a microwave steamer for about 5 minutes) then drain excess water.

In a fry pan, brown the sausage and remove from heat.

In a large bowl blend the spinach, sausage, cheese & egg mix along with  1/4-1/2 C of sauce and  1/2 the mozzarella.

Stuff the mixture into the shells and place in the pan, open-side up.

Pour additional sauce on shells, then top with the rest of the cheese.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melty.

Source: Original Laura recipe

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Spaghetti Squash Marinara

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Homemade marinara is something I've wanted to make for years- since well before my kitchen and I started getting along better. This sauce did not disappoint! As a matter of fact, while eating this for dinner we decided that we will not be buying jarred sauce anymore! This made easily enough for at least 2 meals, including lunch leftovers for both of us, so I put the extra left into the freazer for another time.

I had seen people using spaghetti squash in leiu of pasta on food blogs before and decided to give it a whirl. We were both shocked at how much we all loved it! You could honestly barely tell the difference. We'll for sure be making this again.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
~1/2 cup of water

Directions:

Pour the oil into a large stock pot and heat over medium heat, then saute the onions until they are tender. Add in the garlic and continue cooking for an additional minute or two.

Add the tomato puree and sauce to the pot, mix in the seasonings, salt and sugar. Stir in the water until the sauce reaches your preferred consistency.

Simmer the sauce for at least two hours.

Source: Annie's Eats

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Chicken Cordon Bleu & Creamy Parmesan Sauce



I've wanted to try making it for quite a while now- in fact I think  I have 4 or 5 different recipes for it saved- but it looked so compicated. I finally decided to give it a try and I was surprised at how easy it was! Yes, it was a little more time consuming than my average workday-evening dinners but it was so worth the extra prep time. Simply, it was marvelous! Go! Make it! You will not be disappointed.

Chicken Cordon Bleuprint this recipe

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts, pounded thin- about 1/2 inch thick
4 slices of deli ham (I used quite a bit more. I did a double layer of ham on each breast. I'm glad I did.)
4 slices of swiss cheese (Ditto this, I used a bit more)
salt & pepper
flour
2 eggs
1 T water
1/2 C bread crumbs
1/2 C panko bread crumbs
1 tsp dried thyme

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375°

Pound the chicken thin, to about 1/2 inch thickness. Be careful not to tear the chicken. (Note: my chicken looked slightly mangled after Brian was finished pounding it. Oops. But it still worked)

Season the inside of each breast with salt and pepper.  Layer the ham & swiss on the chicken breasts and roll them up tightly. Secure with a toothpick. Place each rolled breast into a lightly oiled pan. (I used a 13x9 glass pan)

Mix the egg w/the water and place in a small bowl. Place the flour in another bowl and in a third bowl mix both styles of breadcrumbs with the thyme.

Dredge each breast through the flour, then dip in the egg, then coat with bread crumbs. Place back in the pan to bake.

Bake for 40 minutes, turning on the broiler for the last minute.

Creamy Parmesan Sauce

Ingredients:
1 T butter
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2-3/4 C half and half (I used heavy cream since it's what I had already opened)
1/2 T cornstarch
splash of white wine
salt & pepper
~1/3 C shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan, then saute the garlic for a minute or two. Add in a splash of wine and continue to simmer for another 1-2 minutes.

Whisk together the half-and-half with the cornstarch. Slowly pour into the sauce pan and mix until it is smooth and thickened.

Add the cheese, salt and pepper to the sauce pan and cook until melted.

Drizzle the sauce over the breasts just before serving.

Source: Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

Light wheat bread

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This bread is one of my favorites for a few reasons. It's delicious, of course, but also I find that my favorite wheat breads require a soaker or pre-ferment to be made the day prior and I usually don't think ahead enough to make that! This one fits the bill nicely in that it can be made on whim. It is soft, great for sandwiches especially, but it also has that nutty wheat taste that I love.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 Cups unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 Cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/ T granulated sugar or honey (I prefer honey)
1 1/2 t. salt
3T powdered milk
1 1/2 t. instant yeast
2T shortening or unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 1/4 Cup water, room temp

Directions:

Mix together both flours, sugar (but not the honey yet), salt, powdered milk and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the shortening/butter, honey and water. Blend on low speed until the mixture forms a ball.  If needed, add a few extra drops of water to pick up any flour lingering in the bowl. The dough should be soft.

Dust a counter top with either bread flour or wheat flour and knead dough (I use the mixer still w/the dough hook for most of this) until dough is slightly tack but not sticky. Add more flour if needed. (I always need to). Knead for about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Ferment at room temp for 1 1/2- 2 hours or until the dough is double it's size.

Fold the dough into a loaf shape and place in a lightly oiled loaf pan. Mist the top lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap.

Proof at room temperature for about 90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the loaf pan on a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pan 180° and continue baking for an additional 15-30 minutes. The loaf will be golden brown on the top and sides.

Remove from the pan and let cool.

Source: The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart , pages 181-182

Monday, August 3, 2009

Multigrain bread

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A few months ago my mom bought me Peter Reinhart'sThe Bread Baker's Apprentice as a gift. I'd been borrowing it repeatedly from the library (then accidentally on purpose, forgetting to return it on time). Finally, when the library started calling my house to tell me that other people were waiting for this book, I decided I needed a copy of my own so I could stop being a buttmunch keeping the library copy from others. Mom to the rescue. Thanks mom!

I love this book.  As soon as I got it home, I started leafing through it, deciding what to try first.

I'd tried the Light Wheat Bread a few months ago and we loved it. I decided that the first thing I should make from my very own copy would be this multigrain bread and BOY it didn't disappoint. Brian's first comment upon trying a piece was "This is the best bread I've ever tasted. You don't even need to try any others". Sorry, B. I've got a whole bookload of loaves to try! Oh darn. :)

Ingredients:

For the soaker:
3 Tbs cornmeal
3 Tbs rolled oats
2 Tbs wheat bran
1/4 C water, room temp.

For the dough:
3C unbleached bread flour
3 Tbs brown sugar (I used light brown sugar both times)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs instant yeast
3 Tbs cooked brown rice (I confess, I left this out both times I made it so far since I didn't have any brown rice)
1 1/2 Tbs honey
1/2 C buttermilk or milk
3/4 C water, room temp
About 1 Tbs poppy seeds for topping (optional, which I left out)

Directions:

Day 1: Soaker

1 day prior to making the bread, mix together to soaker ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and cover with the water. The mix will be just damp. Cover with plastic wrap and set at room temp overnight.

Day 2: the Dough

Stir together the flour, brown sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of electric mixer. Mix in the soaker, rice, honey, buttermilk (I used milk) and water. Mix with the paddle attachment on low speed until the ingredients form a ball. You can add a bit of water if the flour does not fully mix in.

Switch to the dough hook (or transfer dough to a floured counter top) and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding more flour if needed, until the dough is soft and tacky, but not sticky. (I had to add a fair amount more flour both times I made this.) The dough will become smooth and shiny.

Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Ferment the dough at room temp. for 90 minutes. The dough will double in size.

Press the dough into a loaf (or roll shapes) and place into a lightly oiled loaf pan.  Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle the poppy seeds on top. Mist again with oil and cover with plastic wrap.

Proof the dough for another 90 minutes. It will again about double in size.

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake for 20 minutes on the middle oven rack. Small rolls should be finished baking after the initial 20 minutes. For loaves, rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking another 20-40 minutes for loaves. (Mine took about 20 additional minutes, 40 total.) The bread should be golden brown and be about 185° in the center.

Remove loaves from the pans and cool.

Source:The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, pages 187-189

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Blondies

Oh my. So chocolatey and delish.

I made these blondie bars for a family gathering a few months ago and they were amazing. The only problem with them was that I was running late, so I asked Brian to melt the chocolate for the top and drizzle it on. Something went weird with it and he ended up just spreading it all on the top of the blondies like frosting which was VERY rich. So apparently slightly less is more in the case of the chocolate drizzle on the top! Noted for next time! (Even better, give myself more time to get ready so I can do it myself. Novel concept)

Ingredients:

For the blondies:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup chocolate chips or chunks (I used Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips)

For the topping:
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon butter

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Prepare a 8x8 glass pan by spraying lightly with oil.

Combine the flour and salt and set aside.

Blend together the melted butter and brown sugar, then blend the eggs and vanilla.

Slowly beat in the flour mixture until well combined. Mix in the coconut and chocolate.

Pour the batter into the pan, then bake for 25-30 minutes, or until set but still soft in the center. Do not over-bake.

Cool slightly, then mix together the chocolate and butter for the topping and melt in the microwave. Drizzle the chocolate over the top of the blondies (don't drench them in chocolate, as I learned).

Source: Brown Eyed Baker