Thursday, January 28, 2010

Buffalo Bleu Chicken Pizza

The mom came over recently for a lesson in making homemade pizza crust, and I figured that would be the perfect time to test a new pizza recipe I've been mulling over in my head. I love bleu cheese and hot wings, and of course, hot wings dipped in bleu cheese dressing, so I figured I could make a killer pizza with these toppings.

I bought a nice moldy hunk of bleu cheese at Fresh and Easy to crumble over the pizza, and combined that with some shredded mozeralla and mild cheddar cheese. The three cheeses were the perfect combination, with none of them overpowering the other. The only problem we had was the dough took FOREVER to rise, even sitting on top of a hot oven (my usual trick to make it rise quick), which made it harder to stretch out and shape. I chalked it up the fact that we had all the windows open and it was freezing and damp outside after 5 days of torrential rain.

The mom brought my dad over with her-- he wanted to watch football with the husband--so we made a regular pepperoni pizza too, with a homemade tomato sauce. We had a lot of fun cooking while the men watched the Vikings/Saints game, event though, sadly, my boyfriend Farve lost. The mom even washed all the dirty dishes for me!

This pizza is definitely a keeper and I can't wait to make it again.

Buffalo Bleu Chicken Pizza
Source: me
Printable Recipe

1/4 cup chunky bleu cheese dressing
2-3 tablespoons hot wing sauce (add more or less based on how much heat you like)
1 grilled chicken breast
an additional 1-2 tablespoons hot wing sauce
2 cups mozarella cheese, shredded
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
3 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green)

Place your pizza stone in the oven and pre-heat to 525 degrees.

Mix the bleu cheese dressing and hot wing sauce together and spread on your pizza crust.

Slice the grilled chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and coat with the additional hot sauce.

Top the pizza with the shredded cheese and dot with chunks of bleu cheese crumbles and chicken. Sprinkle with the sliced green onions. Drizzle with additional bleu cheese dressing, if desired.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Roasted Veggie Pasta with Arugula

I'm sure you read about my mean decision to deprive the husband of his requested salmon dinner, only to recant after a chiding from some co-workers. Well, I still wasn't feeling like eating any salmon, so I threw together this pasta dish for myself, and popped his salmon fillet in the oven while the water boiled. There, now everyone is happy. :)

But salmon is on the menu again this week. *sigh* At least I convinced him to try salmon pesto pasta...I'll let you know how that goes.

Roasted Veggie Pasta with Arugula
Source: Martha Stewart Every Day Food (The Light Issue)

Printable Recipe

2 pints grape tomatoes (I only had about 3/4 of a pint on hand...I wish I'd had more tomatoes!)
6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 shallots, cut into eighths
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (I used a few heavy shakes of dried)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
8 ounces rigatoni pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
1/2 cup pitted olives, coarsely chopped (I omitted these)
3 cups baby arugula or spinach (I used an arugula mix that also included radicchio and frizzze)

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Place tomatoes, garlic, shallots, and thyme on a rimmed baking sheet (I lined mine with parchment to save on clean up). Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Roast about 20-25 minutes, or until garlic is soft and tomatoes are bursting.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente (I cooked my penne about 11 minutes). Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and drain the rest. Return pasta to the pot, with the 1/4 cup reserved water.

Peel the roasted garlic and smash with the side of a knife. Add garlic, tomatoes, shallots, thyme and olives to the pasta and cook over medium-high for about 3 minutes.

Let cool slightly and mix with the arugula. Serve and enjoy, glad to not be eating salmon!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Basil Lover's Pizza

Remember when I told you I talked the husband out of salmon and made a different meal? Well, this was that meal. :) Of course it was pizza, what else did you think? You should know by now that pizza and I are involved in an intense love affair.

After picking up some basil sausage at Trader Joes, I decided to make a pesto-based pizza, topped with said sausage. This pizza pretty much came to me as I picked up ingredients at Trader Joes recently and the combo worked out fantastically.

The husband can be kind of picky, so I was worried about him liking this pizza, but he loved it. He scarfed down two big pieces for dinner, ate a bit more for a midnight snack, and then polished off the rest for lunch the next day! I'd say that's a pretty big endorsement right there.

I love this pizza and can't wait to make it again. It might be good with some red onion bits on it as well, but that's up to you to decide. I plan to keep the recipe just as it is.

Basil Lover's Pizza
Source: me

Printable Recipe

hunk of olive oil dough (I used all AP flour this time, no whole wheat)
7 ounce container of pesto
2 chicken and turkey basil sausages (I picked these up at Trader Joes), sliced
about 10 grape tomatoes, split in half lengthwise
mozarella cheese, shredded
a few leaves of basil, thinly sliced

Heat your oven to 525 degrees, with the pizza stone inside.

Stretch your dough into the desired size and thickness. The husband likes thin crust pizza, so I stretch mine out a lot, maybe to 1/4" thickness.

Spread the pesto all over the dough, leaving a 1/4"-1/2" ring for the crust. Sprinkle the cheese over the pesto and top with the sausage and tomatoes.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Let cool for 5 minutes, top with the basil, and serve.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Salmon Cooked in Parchment

The husband and I both had Martin Luther King Jr. Day off recently, and since it was pouring down rain, couping us up at home, I had him help me meal plan. As we went through the freezer to assess what food we actually had on hand, we found a nearly full bag of individually wrapped salmon fillets from Costco. He immediately requested salmon for dinner one night and I hesitantly agreed.

I don't like salmon. I think it is too fishy and gross. I have a hard time cooking it; I never get reliable results and the last time I grilled it, my piece was mushy and incredibly fishy even when covered in salsa. The husband thinks I am crazy and loves salmon, and will eat my piece when I balk at it. So as the pre-planned salmon day rolled around, I talked the husband out of it. Being the kind person that he is, he agreed on an alternative meal.

However, some of my work cronies said I was being mean and should just cook the man some fish and make myself whatever I wanted. Fine. I'll make the fish.

Not wanting to grill in the freezing cold-ok, maybe I am being dramatic, but this is southern California, so it was cold in my opinion-I turned to my trusty copy of Martha Stewart's Every Day Food (The Light Issue) and found a recipe for salmon cooked in parchment. She called for capers and green beans, neither of which I had on hand, oil, which I forgot to use, and I added lemon, so obviously I have heavily adapted this recipe. However, the husband gobbled it up and declared it to be delicious with just the right amount of lemon.

I'll have to take his word for it; I ate pasta with arugula instead.

Salmon Cooked in Parchment Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart's Every Day Food Printable Recipe Ingredients
1 salmon fillet
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
zest of 1/2 a lemon
garlic salt

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the salmon fillet in the center of a large piece of parchment paper. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish, top with the zest, and sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper.

Bring the long edges of the parchment up to meet in the middle, and then fold over three times, making a seam. Fold over the edges as well, forming an envelop around the fish.

Place the parchment-wrapped salmon on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. The parchment will brown, and may puff up slightly.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Citrusy Chicken and Green Bean Salad

Now that the holiday season is over and we are into the new year, it's time to lighten up some recipes. While the champagne chicken was delish (and I can't wait to make it again for Valentine's Day and possibly our anniversary in the spring), the husband and I need to move away from heavy cream, butter, and loads of cheese.

What a sad prospect. I feel like that Julia Child quote, "If you're afraid of butter, use cream!" is so true sometimes. There is just something to be said for going whole hog and using those great tasting fats.

But then my jeans get tighter and my belly gets rounder and I start to wonder if butter is really worth it after all. However, lightening up dinner does not have to mean throwing out flavor. Heck no! Squeeze some lemon juice into a dish, add in palmfuls of fresh or dried herbs, and you have just as tasty a meal, without all the fat.

In light of this decision to eat some healthier meals (I said some...I still intend to make pizza, and Mexican, and ice cream with whole milk on occasion), I picked up the newest issue of Martha Stewart's Every Day Food recipe booklet. The cover enticed me with its promise of lighter, yet tasty meals and so far it has not disappointed.

I heavily adapted this recipe from Every Day food; the original called for cucumbers (omitted), only 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (upped to 2 lemons), and 1 tablespoon of basil (upped to 2, plus some dried rosemary). Also, I doubled the recipe, but decided not to double the amount of oil, in an effort to continue the healthyness.

The husband, who doesn't really like lemon, thoroughly enjoyed this and requested that it be added to "the rotation."

Citrusy Chicken and Green Bean Salad
Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food
Printable Recipe

2 chicken breasts, poached
8-10 ounces green beans, steamed
2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley, and dried rosemary.

Cut the chicken into chunks and add to the dressing, along with the steamed green beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the chicken and beans to fully coat with dressing. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and serve.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Royal Icing

As I mentioned in my sugar cookie post, Annie's Eats has been a great inspiration to me and my cooking. She has especially fueled my desire to decorate sugar cookies with royal icing. Having never used royal icing, I turned to her tutorial and read through the steps several times before embarking on my first cookie decorating adventure. I highly suggest you check out Annie's tutorial if this is your first time working with royal icing. It is pretty easy to do, although messy, but her tips helped out quite a bit.

Also, I bought the meringue powder at Michael's, using a 40% off coupon. I recommend you do the same; that stuff is pricey!

Royal Icing
Source: Annie's Eats
Printable Recipe

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons meringue powder
5 tablespoons water

gel food coloring in desired colors
disposable pastry bags (one per icing color)
1 coupler per bag
1 size 2 or 3 decorating tip per bag
1 squirt bottle per icing color

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Mix on low speed until the icing has a matte appearance, about 7-10 minutes. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate all the powdered sugar.

Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. The icing should be stiff, but it will be too stiff to use for decorating. Add a small amount of water at a time (I added about 1/4 of a tablespoon) and stir until fully incorporated. The icing should still be slightly stiff, but be able to be piped. You don't want it to be super thin at this point though.

Mix in the gel icing coloring, a little at a time, until you have reached your desired color.

Fit a disposable pastry bag with a coupler and a size 2 or 3 tip. Using a steady hand, outline each cookie with icing. If you are having any difficulty piping, the icing is still too thick. Add a little more liquid, mix well, and try piping again. Let stand so the icing will set, about one hour (I stuck my outlined cookies in the freezer for about 30 minutes to speed up the hardening process, which worked really well).

Be sure to keep the remaining icing covered to prevent it from hardening.

Once all the cookies have been outlined, squeeze the remaining icing back into the air tight container. Add a small amount of water at a time (about 1/2 a tablespoon) and mix well, to thin the icing. The icing should run off the back of a spoon and completely incorporate back into the rest of the icing in about 5 seconds. Once you think you've added enough water, add a little bit more. If the icing is too thick, it will be difficult to flood and decorate the cookies.

Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, pour it into to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. Carefully spread the icing into the corner with a toothpick.

Allow the cookies to set until the frosting is completely hardened.

Use the remaining to pipe on an additional decorations. If the icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar, mixing well.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shining Stars

I recently introduced my friend and co-worker Michelle to the blog Annie's Eats and we are both semi-obsessed with all of the recipes and beautiful photos Annie posts on her blog. So much so, that Michelle emails me pics so we can both cry over our lack of awesome photography skills (and a DSLR camera). Having recently bought a set of star-shaped cookie cutters, I invited Michelle over to make some shining star cookies with me. We found the perfect excuse to make a ton of cookies: frost them in our school's colors and bring them to our "shining star" co-workers!

By the time we got to 7th grade lunch there were only two cookies left! All the teachers and office staff we work with were very appreciative of the sweet bite of school spirit we brought in. Link
Since the dough needs to be chilled before it's cooked, and then chilled before frosting, and the frosting outline has to harden for an hour before the flood icing, I decided to make the cookies a day in advance and just have them ready for Michelle to help frost--otherwise she would be stuck at my house until midnight! :) As it was, it still took us forever to frost all the cookies, but it made for a fun afternoon with a new friend.

I've blogged the royal icing in a separate blog post. Annie has a great tutorial with tons of helpful pictures on her site for using royal icing. I read it several times before attempting decorating my cookies for the first time.

Sugar Cookies
Source: Annie's Eats, of course!
Printable Recipe

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened or room temp
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups flour, sifted (I measured the flour, then sifted it right into the mixing bowl)


Cream butter. Once creamed, add the powdered sugar.

Mix in the beaten egg, almond extract, vanilla extract, salt and flour.

Chill dough until firm (I put my dough in a Ziplock bag and chilled it overnight).

Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut shapes with cookie cutters.

Place on greased cookie sheets and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown.

Cool cookies completely before frosting.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Salsa Burgers

I wanted tacos for dinner, but the husband requested burgers, so I defrosted a package of ground turkey in the fridge. Turkey burgers are a quick, standby recipe in this house, but sometimes I get bored with them. While the meat was thawing in the microwave, I scoured the fridge, looking for flavor inspirations.

I usually add plain yogurt to ground turkey to increase the moisture (I find ground turkey to be really dry otherwise), but we were out, so I settled on light sour cream. That, combine with my craving for Mexican food, pushed me towards the salsa jar. Slowly, I began pulling out ingredients for a spicy, Mexican-flavored burger.

The husband doesn't like spicy food as much as I fact, he even commented that I put salsa on all my food and wondered when I will create a salsa cake! So I divided the meat in half and only added the salsa to my half of the ground turkey (the recipe below calls for the salsa to be added to the entire pound of meat). If you are like the husband, use a mild salsa and omit the cayenne. You'll still have a flavorful burger, but without all the heat I like. If you like a lot of heat, use a hot salsa and up the cayenne and chili powder. That is the great thing about this recipe, it is easily adaptable to your tastes.

Salsa Burgers
Source: me
Printable Recipe

1 pound ground turkey
2 Tablespoons chunky salsa
2 Tablespoons light sour cream
1-2 teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons pepper
sprinkle garlic salt
heavy dash chili powder
4 small cubes pepper jack cheese

Light a charcoal grill or plug in your George Foreman grill (my method of choice here).

Mix all ingredients, except the cheese, together until fully incorporated.

Form the meat into four patties. Push a cube of cheese into the center of each patty and seal.

Cook the meat until your desired level of doneness. Serve on your favorite bun (we used toasted sandwich thins) with additional salsa.

Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken

I found a bottle of Soy Vey Island Teriyaki at Fresh and Easy recently and decided to pick it up in place of my usual Soy Vey Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce, which I use for Soyaki Chicken.

The husband loves everything pineapple and I knew this would make a great foundation for pineapple chicken. Add some crushed pineapple to the sauce, then add a few pineapple rings to the chicken at the end of cooking, and you have a quick, easy, weeknight dinner. Turn your rice cooker on 15 minutes or so before cooking the chicken and it's a complete meal!

Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken
Source: me
Printable Recipe

2 chicken breasts
1/4-1/2 cup pineapple teriyaki sauce (regular teriyaki sauce will work too)
2 pineapple rings, plus one ring, diced OR 2 pineapple rings and 1 tablespoon crushed pineapple

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a small casserole dish or pie pan with non-stick spray. Place the chicken breasts in the pan. Pierce the chicken breasts with a fork in a few places, to better absorb the sauce.

If you're using crushed pineapple, mix it with the teriyaki sauce. If you are using whole pineapple rings, mix the diced pineapple with the teriyaki sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Lay one pineapple slice over each chicken breast during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Plate the chicken, spooning sauce over the top of each breast, and serve with brown rice (spoon some of the teriyaki chicken juices over the rice for extra flavor).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Onion and Rosemary Foccacia

I recently posted a recipe for champagne chicken, courtesy of The Rookie Chef. I knew I was going to need a chunk of bread to sop up all that sauce, so I turned to my trusty copy of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and found this recipe for foccaccia bread.

I already had a batch of olive oil dough on hand; I like to keep it around for when the urge to make pizza or a loaf of bread strikes. I added some rosemary to the bread to tie the flavors into the rosemary in the champagne cream sauce; this was the perfect accompaniment. It later went well with a hearty bowl of chicken noodle soup on my first day back to work after a 2 week vacation.

Onion and Rosemary Foccacia

Source: Adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Printable Recipe

1 pound of olive oil dough
1/2 medium onion (yellow or white), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil, plus one teaspoon for drizzling
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
course salt and ground pepper for sprinkling on top
oil to grease the cookie sheet


Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees, with a metal broiler tray on the lowest shelf. You will be pouring water into this tray once the dough is in the oven, so give yourself some room between the broiler tray and the rack you cook your dough on.

Saute the onion slices in the olive oil until softened, but not browned. If you brown the onions they will burn in the oven.

Grease a cookie sheet with a little bit of olive oil, or line with a piece of parchment paper (I recommend this option: easier clean up and no worry about the bread sticking). Dust the dough with some flour (I also recommend dusting your hands with flour as this is a wet dough) and shape the dough into a ball by stretching it out.

Place the dough on the cookie sheet and spoon half of the onions onto the dough (spread them out in one layer). Fold the dough over itself, covering the onions, and reshape it so the onions are inside the dough.

Flatten the dough to 1/2"-3/4" of an inch thick. Spread the remaining onions over the top of the dough. Do not completely cover the surface of the dough or it won't brown correctly (you may have leftover onions). Sprinkle the surface with the rosemary, salt, and pepper. Lightly drizzle with the teaspoon olive oil.

Allow the foccacia to rest and rise, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Place the cookie sheet in the oven and pour 1 cup of hot water into the metal broiler tray. Quickly shut the oven door, trapping the steam in the oven. Do not open the oven door for at least the first 15 minutes, or the steam will escape, affecting the crust.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the foccacia is medium brown. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

This is a great bread for dipping in soups and sopping up sauces; I served it with champagne chicken and it was a perfect accompaniment to the creamy sauce.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Oven Roasted Broccoli

As a kid, I disliked many vegetables, but I think none more so than broccoli. I absolutely detested the vile green vegetable and couldn't agree more when President George H. Bush proclaimed his hatred towards this menace of a plant in the 90's.

Whenever broccoli made an appearance on my dinner plate, I knew it was going to be a long night for me. I usually had to stay at the dinner table until I ate all of my vegetables....and sometimes they made a reappearance at breakfast if I didn't choke them down by bedtime. As I got older I devised new ways of making the despised veggie disappear; I often hid florets in my napkin, balled up under the edge of my plate. I even went so far as to drop them in my milk glass, which would then be poured down the sink or in the toilet when no one was looking. I never was very good at dropping food on the floor for the dog, mainly because the dog always sat under my brother's chair on the other side of the table.

As an adult, I still dislike broccoli. The husband on the other hand looooooooves it. Ugh. I am forced to pick it out of stir fry and eat around it when it makes an appearance in other dishes. With two stalks of the green menace in the broccoli at that...I decided to try a new method of cooking. I enjoy oven-roasted cauliflower and asparagus (two other veggies I wouldn't eat as a kid), so I gave oven-roasted broccoli a try.

This recipe, with a nice sprinkle of parm cheese, made me rethink my hatred of broccoli. While I still won't be offering to eat broccoli on a regular basis, this was really good and I found myself eating a second helping.

Oven Roasted Broccoli

Food Network
Printable Recipe


1 pound broccoli, rinsed and trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or sharp Cheddar


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the broccoli florets into bite size pieces. Cut the stalk into 1/8-inch thick, round slices (I just used the florets and discarded the stems). Place the broccoli into a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil, garlic, kosher salt and pepper and set aside.

Spread the panko into a 13 by 9-inch pan and place into the oven for 2 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove the panko from the oven and add to the bowl with the broccoli mixture. Toss to combine.

Return the broccoli mixture to the pan, place in the oven and roast just until the broccoli is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, toss in the cheese and serve immediately.


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