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Archive for August, 2010

Chicken pesto pizza

I got a baking stone for my birthday, so I figured it was time to try making my own pizza! Instead of going for a traditional cheese with tomato sauce (which is definitely my favorite), I went for a chicken pesto pizza. Due to time restraints, I made the dough the night before and let it rise for 1 1/2-2 hours (it only took 1 1/2 this time.) I punched the dough down and split it in half before wrapping it in plastic wrap and putting it in plastic bags. It had to go in the freezer even though I was planning on using it the next day because the fridge isn’t cold enough to completely stop the rising process. The next morning, I took 1/2 of the dough out of the freezer and let it thaw all day in the fridge.

I took the dough out of the fridge about 1 hr before I wanted to bake the pizza. I preheated my stone at the same time. After about 45 minutes, the dough was ready to roll out. It rolled out well but I probably should have punched it down a little more. My dough had a few more bubbles after baking than regular pizzas. We spread with pesto, cheese, cherry tomatoes, and 1 chicken breast that I marinated in Italian dressing. Jacob wasn’t a fan of the chicken, but I thought the pieces on the pizza worked nicely with all of the other flavors. Sure, it wasn’t the most amazing chicken, but it was pretty moist and had a bunch of seasonings.

Anyway, the pizza was absolutely delicious. Jacob said I’m ruining frozen pizza for him, which is good because he eats too much of it anyway! I can’t wait to make another pizza, this time more traditional. I love the taste and texture of the dough also, and baking it on the stone produces great results. I think I would add a little sugar to this dough, just to add a little sweetness. Some garlic butter on the crust sounds really good too.

Chicken Pesto Pizza (Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients:

For the pesto: (I used my own, but supposedly this makes twice as much as you need for the pizza)

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 7 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

For the pizza:

  • 1/2 batch perfect pizza crust dough (enough for 1 pizza), at room temperature
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Grilled chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1/2 of one chicken breast)
  • Cherry tomatoes, sliced into thirds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

To make the pesto, toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat until just golden and fragrant, 4-5 minutes.  Set aside.  Add the garlic to the empty skillet and toast, shaking occasionally, until the cloves are fragrant and their color deepens slightly, about 7 minutes.  Transfer the cloves to a cutting board; cool, peel and chop.  Place the basil in a heavy-duty gallon-sized plastic bag.  Pound the bag with a rolling pin until all the leaves are bruised.

Combine the pine nuts, garlic, basil, olive oil and 1/2 tsp. salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the Parmesan cheese, and adjust the salt to taste.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To make the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.  Place a pizza stone in the oven while it is preheating, and let it heat up for at least 30 minutes.  Place a round of parchment paper the size of your pizza stone on a work surface and lightly sprinkle it with cornmeal.  Place the pizza dough in the center and roll it out into a large round using a lightly floured rolling pin, or a pulling/stretching motion with floured hands (I use both).  Leave an approximately 1-inch border that is thicker around the edges for the crust.  Lightly brush this outer edge of the crust with olive oil.  Spread a thin layer of pesto on the pizza crust using the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle with a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Top with grilled chicken pieces and sliced cherry tomatoes.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Carefully transfer the parchment round to the preheated pizza stone.  Place in the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 12-15 minutes.  Slice and serve immediately.

Basic Pizza Dough

Makes two pizzas

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup warm water (about 110°)
  • 1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast
  • 1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl

Directions:

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes.  Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed.  Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.  Press the dough to deflate it.

To bake, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven.  Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal.  Top as desired.  Slide the dough onto the pizza stone.  Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes.  Repeat with remaining ball of dough or freeze for later use.

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Lasagna

I’m not sure sure what inspired me to put lasagna on my list of things to make, but once I found a few good-looking recipes I couldn’t wait to make it! Of course, I couldn’t stick to one recipe and I combined aspects from a few different ones. The end result was extremely good. It had over-the-top flavor and I couldn’t think of anything wrong with it. My only complaint was how hard it was to remember the “correct” way of layering according to the directions. Why can’t each layer be identical? It would make my life easier. But it’s ok, because this is now one of my all time favorite pasta recipes. Which is saying something, because pasta isn’t something I cook on a weekly basis. I’m going to write the recipe using the exact measurements I used for the two of us, and I baked it in a 8×8 pan.

Meat Lasagna

Adapted from Annie’s Eats, All Recipes’ Deep Dish Lasagna, All Recipes’ World’s Best Lasagna, and Pioneer Woman’s Best Lasagna Ever

Serves…3? Apparently. Jacob ate 2/3 of the 8×8 pan in one night. Should be 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 box lasagna noodles (Next time I’ll try the oven ready kind)
  • 2 links hot Italian sausage (Out of a package of 5, which was 19 oz. So I used about 1/2 lb)
  • 1/3 ish lb of ground beef (It was leftover)
  • 1/2 of a large onion, diced (Or 1 small)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (one is for the ricotta mixture)
  • Handful parsley, chopped (I didn’t have this but it would have been nice. I used dried.)
  • 1/2 of a 6 oz can tomato pasta
  • 14 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (or diced tomatoes crushed in food processor)
  • 3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp Greek oregano (omg so good!)
  • 3/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp fennel (maybe I’ll bump it up next time)
  • 8 oz part skim ricotta (1/2 of 15 oz container)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (Romano works)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions, until al dente.  (I always add a couple extra noodles, just in case one breaks during cooking.)  Drain and set aside.  (I like to lay out the noodles so that they are flat and separated, to avoid them sticking to each other or curling up.  It makes the assembly process easier.)

In the meantime, in a very large skillet or saucepan (12-14 inches), crumble the Italian sausage and cook over medium-high heat until it just begins to brown.  Add the onion, garlic and 1/3 cup of the parsley to the pan and continue cooking until the sausage is completely browned and cooked through.   Mix in the tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, basil and oregano.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining parsley, ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, eggs, garlic salt, and pepper.  Mix well until blended.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Spread 2 cups of sauce in a thin layer on the bottom of a 9 x 13″ baking dish.  Layer with 4 lasagna noodles.  Top the noodles with half of the cheese-spinach mixture and spread evenly to a thin layer.  Top with about a third of the remaining sauce mixture, and sprinkle with 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella.  Layer again with 4 more noodles and the remaining cheese-spinach mixture.  Spread half of the remaining sauce mixture over the top, and sprinkle with 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella.  The final layer will be 4 noodles, the remaining sauce, and a layer of shredded mozzarella.  Cover tightly with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil and return to the oven for 10 minutes more.  Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich


Best fried chicken sandwich EVER. The chicken was juicy and flavorful, thanks to Kittencal’s Buttermilk Poultry Brine. The coating was delicious and crispy, and thanks to some reviews, adhered perfectly to the chicken. We (well, Jacob) dipped the toweled-off brined, pounded chicken in seasoned flour, then hot sauce, then flour, then a beaten egg, then flour again. I watered down the hot sauce, especially for my piece, but it really only needs a splash or two of water. Jacob’s doesn’t really need any. He loves spicy! I really liked the slight kick from the cayenne and the slight flavor boost from the hot sauce. But I think I could handle a little bit more.

I fried my pounded chicken in my fry daddy one at a time, for 7 minutes.

Instead of regular mayo, I used a recipe for garlic mayo. I liked it by itself, and I liked the creaminess it added to the sandwich, but I probably wouldn’t use it for a fried chicken sandwich again. It’s better for deli meat. I would make a ranch sauce or something different for this particular sandwich.

Kittencal’s Buttermilk Poultry Brine

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (or use 1/2 cup chopped shallots)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic (or use 2 teaspoons garlic powder)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (can use up to 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl mix or whisk the buttermilk, shallots, garlic, salt, sugar, cumin (if using) and black pepper until the sugar and salt is completely dissolved.
  2. Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Place the chicken in the buttermilk mixture; toss with clean hands to coat the chicken in the mixture.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 8-24 hours.
  5. Rinse the chicken quick and just slightly under cold water to remove the onions and garlic if desired before cooking or grilling.
  6. Grill or oven-bake as desired.

Garlic Mayonnaise Aioli

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s Light)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped coriander
  • salt, to taste
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste

Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Fillet Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 6 -8 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup frank’s original red hot pepper sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 chicken breast fillets
  • 4 plain hamburger buns
  • 8 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 slices tomatoes

Directions:

  1. Preheat 6 to 8 cups of oil in a deep fryer to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the pepper sauce and water in a small bowl.
  3. Combine the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, onion powder, paprika and garlic powder in another shallow bowl.
  4. Pound each of the chicken pieces with a mallet until about 3/8-inch thick. Trim each breast fillet if necessary to help it fit on the bun.
  5. Working with one fillet at a time, coat each piece with the flour, then dredge it in the diluted pepper sauce. Coat the chicken once again in the flour mixture and set it aside until the rest of the chicken is coated.
  6. Fry the chicken fillets for 8 to 12 minutes or until they are light brown and crispy. Remove the chicken to a rack or to paper towels to drain.
  7. As chicken is frying, prepare each sandwich by grilling the face of the hamburger buns on a hot skillet over medium heat. Spread about 2 teaspoons of mayonnaise on the face of each of the inverted top buns.
  8. Place a tomato slice onto the mayonnaise, then stack a leaf of lettuce on top of the tomato.
  9. On each of the bottom buns, stack one piece of chicken.
  10. Flip the top half of each sandwich onto the bottom half and serve hot.

Corn dogs improved

I made corn dogs for my family today, and learned a few tips to improve on my previous attempt. I used a slightly different recipe, which had buttermilk instead of milk, less baking powder, and the addition of bacon drippings. I can’t pick a favorite recipe, but these corn dogs were better executed. I added extra milk to make the batter smooth and less clumpy, and cut the dogs in half. I dried off the dogs and tossed them in flour so the batter would stick. Then I put popsicle sticks in them. I got adventurous towards the end of cooking these babies and added some cayenne to the batter. I fried for 4-5 minutes.

A Plus Fair Corn Dogs (All Recipes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart oil for deep frying (I didn’t even fill the fryer up to the line)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I just realized I forgot this! Whoops!)
  • 2 pounds hot dogs
  • wooden sticks

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a deep fryer to 365 degrees F (185 degrees C).

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in melted bacon drippings. Make a well in the center, and pour in the egg, buttermilk, and baking soda. Mix until everything is smooth and well blended.

3. Pat the hot dogs dry with paper towels so that the batter will stick. Insert wooden sticks into the ends. Dip the hot dogs in the batter one at a time, shaking off the excess. Deep fry a few at a time in the hot oil until they are as brown as you like them. Drain on paper towels or serve on paper plates.

Roasted carrot salad

I love finding recipes for vegetable salads that fill you up and hang out in the fridge until you want some more! This recipe seemed really interesting, and it gave me an excuse to try arugula. Fortunately, I bought a spinach/arugula mix because I discovered raw arugula is pretty gross. In the salad, it was ok but I won’t be buying it again. The salad itself was pretty good. Not amazing, but Erin actually asked me to make more of it so that’s a plus! The combo of ingredients work well together, but I guess it’s a little too apple=cider vinegary for me. Maybe I’ll sub some balsamic next time. I decreased the amount of oil and mix-ins, and substituted feta for the blue cheese.

Roasted Carrot Salad (All Recipes)

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 (4 ounce) package crumbled Danish blue cheese
  • 2 cups arugula

Directions:

1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

2. Combine the carrots, almonds, and garlic in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread out onto an ungreased baking sheet.

3. Bake the carrots in the preheated oven until soft and the edges turn brown, about 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.

4. Once cool, return the carrots to the mixing bowl, and drizzle with honey and vinegar; toss until coated. Add the cranberries and blue cheese; toss again until evenly mixed. Combine with the arugula and serve immediately.

Best ever? popcorn balls

Erin and I made popcorn balls using my new popcorn maker and that brand of popcorn. My mom was the one that requested them, and she really liked them. I didn’t really care for the sugar-y mixture. For 1/2 of the syrup recipe we used 1 package of the Real Theater Popcorn and about 1/2 package of microwave popcorn. It made about 14-15 balls. We tried stirring in M&Ms at the end, but it didn’t really work.

Best Ever Popcorn Balls (All Recipes)

Makes 20?

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 2 5/8 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup marshmallows
  • 5 quarts plain popped popcorn

Directions:

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the corn syrup, margarine, cold water, confectioners’ sugar and marshmallows. Heat and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Carefully combine the hot mixture with the popcorn, coating each kernel.

2. Grease hands with vegetable shortening and quickly shape the coated popcorn into balls before it cools. Wrap with cellophane or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Loosemeat sandwiches

Simple, easy, cheap…and really really good! I was surprised at how much I liked this. Draining the meat in a strainer is important, so you aren’t left with fat at the end. I “steamed” my bun by microwaving it for 20 seconds with a damp paper towel on top.

The Blue Mill Tavern Loosemeat Sandwiches (Recipezaar)

Serves 5

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of real goodground chuck or 1 lb ground beef round or 1 lbground sirloin
  • 1 tablespoon fat likelard (if meat is round or sirloin) or 1 tablespoonCrisco (if meat is round or sirloin)
  • 2 teaspoons salt, just enough to lightly cover bottom of your skillet
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • water, to cover
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Get out a cast iron skillet-they are the best for loosemeats-or other kind if you have no iron skillet.
  2. Melt fat over medium heat and lightly salt bottom of skillet.
  3. Break ground beef up in skillet and start crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon-this is very important-the meat must end up being cooked up into small crumbles.
  4. Add chopped onion while browning meat.
  5. Keep working with the back of spoon to break up meat.
  6. When meat is browned, drain off any fat and return meat to skillet.
  7. Add mustard, vinegar, sugar, and just enough water to barely cover meat in the pan.
  8. Cook, at a simmer, till water is all cooked out-between 15-20 minutes.
  9. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Heat your hamburger buns-they’re traditionally steamed for loosemeats-I like mine toasted lightly-do it the way you like it.
  11. When buns are warm, put yellow mustard on them and add some dill pickle slices-I put on lots!
  12. If you start changing this recipe and using things like olive oil for the fat and Dijon or honey mustard for the yellow mustard, you will not get the traditional yummy taste of a loosemeat sandwich.
  13. Likewise, don’t add any liquid smoke or Worcestershire sauce.
  14. Make them just like this the first time so you can sample the simplicity of this famous Midwestern treat.
  15. If you want to start making changes after that by all means do so but I’d like you to taste the original recipe at least once.