Strawberry Balsamic Pizza with Chicken & Applewood Bacon


When choosing recipes for my menu, and hopefully for my blog I often spend hours searching through thousands of them.  I don’t really go into a week of planning with specifics in mind, I like to stay pretty open to whatever catches my eye.  Among the many that just don’t make the cut are some that I like to save for a later date for one reason or another… perhaps they are a bit too indulgent for my current eating habits, or would be great for a nice meal, or other times they just look so interesting to me that I can’t help but save them to reconsider later on.

Tonight’s recipe falls under the last category.  While the idea of fruits in savory dishes is most definitely not a “new” thing, it is somewhat foreign to me.  I guess it’s just hardwired into my brain that they are sweet… and thus best suited for desserts.  Of course this is not true, and through my experimentation I have come to realize this, but there are still plenty of fruit and savory combinations I have yet to try…. perhaps someday.  One that had been a long time on my list was strawberries and balsamic vinegar.  When I saw this recipe it just really stood out, and I knew I HAD to try it.  Not only do we love gourmet pizzas, and want to try the flavor combo, but it also has bacon!  Who could ask for more!?

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Let’s just say…. I was NOT disappointed.  In fact I could easily put this up there in my top favorite pizzas.  It has such a freshness to it from the strawberries and cilantro, balanced perfectly with the sweet, tangy and ever so slightly spicy sauce (which according to my husband tastes like BBQ sauce, but perhaps a fruity version) and salty crisp bacon.  Plus, it’s a gorgeous pizza with all the colors, and sure to impress.  I honestly would not change a thing about this recipe or even embellish it.  I plan on making this one over and over again.

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Though I wouldn’t change anything, there are a couple places that leave some room for versatility based on what you use.  For the crust I used a Stone Fire flatbread (multigrain) which I found in my local grocery store.  And for the strawberry jam I went with Santa Cruz Organics Strawberry Spread, which I feel is a little fresher/less sweet than some of the popular brands.  As I mentioned above the sriracha lends just a HINT of heat to this, and it was great as is, but I would also like to try it with a bit more and see what that does in terms of balance as well.  For the cheese I used an Italian Blend, pre-shredded.  Feel free to over-estimate your ingredients like I tend to do and really pile them on there… mine was kind of heaping when I got it all on there because my crust was already perhaps a bit smaller than a typical “ball of dough” would yield and I get a bit heavy handed.  As long as you have a crust that can stand up to it, I say the more the better!

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Strawberry Balsamic Pizza with Chicken & Applewood Bacon

Ingredients :

  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam or preserves
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha Chili Sauce
  • 1 ball pizza dough
  • 1 cup diced or shredded cooked chicken breast (I used rotisserie)
  • 1/2 cup applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces, cooked
  • 1/2 cup thin sliced sweet onion
  • 12 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese (I used closer to 6-8 oz because my crust was smaller)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh strawberries, diced small

Directions :

  1. Place pizza stone or sheet pan on middle rack of oven.  Preheat to 450 degrees (I was making other things at the same time and with a pre-baked crust I just left mine at 400 which worked great)
  2. Place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 4-5 minutes or until reduced to half of original volume and mixture is thick and syrupy.  Add strawberry preserves and Sriracha and mix well.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Pat or roll out pizza dough on lightly floured surface to approximately a 14 inch circle.  Place a piece of parchment paper, slightly larger than your dough, on a pizza peel or upside down sheet pan (to help in transfer).  Sprinkle parchment paper lightly with cornmeal.  Fold dough in quarters and place on parchment paper, then unfold.  (Or if you are using ready made crust like me forget all that)
  4. Combine chicken with 2 T. of the balsamic-strawberry mixture and mix to coat all chicken with sauce.  Pour rest of sauce onto pizza dough and spread to cover, leaving 1 inch border on edges.  Scatter chicken evenly over the sauce.
  5. Place about 3/4 of the cheese on top of dough and spread to cover sauce evenly.  Scatter bacon and sweet onion over cheese.  Scatter remaining cheese over this layer.
  6. Slide parchment paper with pizza on top onto stone or cookie sheet.  Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown.  Watch carefully, at this temperature it is easy to burn the pizza. (I only had to bake mine the same amount of time at 400 with the pre-made crust)
  7. Remove from oven and let cool slightly, 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and fresh diced strawberries and serve!

Recipe from The Cafe

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Chipotle Lime Chicken Bacon Flatbread Tacos


That name sure is a mouthful, but nothing compared to the actual mouthful you get from these delicious gourmet tacos.  They are definitely a bit on the labor intensive side, but I consider truly good food to be a labor of love.  The great thing is you can easily make this in pieces ahead of time.  Myself, I spaced things out through the course of the day…. marinating my chicken and making the sauce when I got up.  Then midday I made my bacon… in the oven of course which I have talked about more than once on this blog.  When it came time to really get down to cooking I still had a few tasks to get through, but it wasn’t quite as chaotic as it probably would have been.  Let’s just say multitasking in life is a forte of mine I like to think, however multitasking in the kitchen…. not so much!  This is why I like to get everything ready BEFORE I start cooking. I LOVED these tacos…. if you can call them that.  As the blogger from whom I got this recipe mentioned, there is not really a good way to fold over such an overflowing mountain of goodness in a taco shell…. but I guess if you must you can just go lighter on everything to make it fit better.  I piled mine HIGH both for the picture aspect and because I knew I was only going to eat a couple so wanted to get my money’s worth!  I was thinking these would make a great taco bowl though if you want the best of both worlds.  You do want the thicker shell though.  The recipe calls for flatbread, but I was able to find very thick handmade taco shells at my local grocery store that worked perfectly and I imagine folded up a bit easier than flatbread would. There is an overwhelming amount of flavor packed into this taco.  You get the smokey heat of the chipotle, the acidity and brightness of the lime, the creaminess of the avocado and sour cream, the freshness of cilantro (my addition) and other toppings, and then who could forget the bacon….. mmm the bacon!  This is definitely not your average taco, but rather one to impress with….. my husband sure seemed to be! I took the suggestion of melting my cheese directly onto the chicken under the broiler for a minute and that worked perfectly, keeping the cheese from falling out… brilliant!  To keep all my goodies on top I also spread the chipotle sauce onto the tortilla first (which I heated beforehand until started to brown/firm up a bit) and that acted as my glue for the chicken.  The recipe does suggest lettuce as a topping, but I decided to just leave it out.  I honestly don’t think it is necessary at all.  For cheese I chose pepperjack.  The recipe doesn’t really say how much bacon to use… I cooked up about 9 slices and we used that for about 6 tacos, which allowed us a fairly generous amount on each.  It also doesn’t specify type of onion, but I suggest red/purple onion for this, it just goes so well with the flavor profile. _MG_0863-1 copy copy

Chipotle Lime Chicken Bacon Flatbread Tacos

Chicken Marinade:

  • 4 chicken breasts (I used about 1lb total)
  • 3 T. chipotle in adobo, smashed up or pureed
  • juice from 2 limes
  • 1 T. light oil (I used evoo)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Chipotle Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 T. chipotle in adobo, smashed or pureed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T. lime juice
  • pinch of salt

Guacamole:

  • 2 avocados
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 T. onion, chopped (I used a bit more)
  • 1/4 C. tomatoes, chopped (I used roma, with seeds removed)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt to taste

Other Taco Components:

  • flatbread (note above, I used thick small tortillas, and we made 6 generously filled tacos)
  • cooked bacon
  • cheese
  • optional toppings : additional chopped tomatoes, onion, cilantro, avocado, etc.
  • Lime wedges

Directions :

  1. Combine the lime juice, chipotles, oil, and salt for the chicken and marinade the chicken and then grill it. When it’s done, chop it up small and toss it with more chipotles in adobo sauce if you want it spicy.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the chipotle cream sauce and set aside.
  3. For the guacamole, smash up one avocado and then add the lime, garlic, onion,  tomatoes, and salt and mix well. Chop up the remaining avocado and stir it in, smashing it up slightly.
  4. Assemble tacos for best results… heated flatbread/shell, chipotle sauce, chicken and cheese (melted together), guacamole, other toppings and bacon.  Serve with wedge of lime.

*Remember you can do multiple steps earlier in the day when you start your marinade cutting back on the workload later.  You do want to make the guacamole just before assembling however, because it will start to brown (though with that amount of lime juice not quite as quickly as without). Recipe from Yammie’s Noshery

Thai Quesadillas With Grilled Chicken


You know the feeling…. the one where you made the effort to plan well thought out meals for the week, made your grocery list and then find out the grocery store doesn’t have one of the ingredients you so desperately needed for that new recipe!  This happens to me fairly often actually.  Living in Portland, OR I could likely find whatever ingredient I needed by going to one of the many choices I have for markets around here.  However, as a busy mom, that is not always practical, so like most of the world I just make do and find a substitute if I can.

Tonight’s recipe called for red chili peppers.  I’ve seen them, and even bought them before, but apparently it wasn’t at my main store.  In the past I have just substituted serranos or even jalapenos, but I just felt like it wasn’t enough for some reason.  Maybe I just wanted more color… forgetting that it would be blended up anyway.  Anyway, for some reason unbeknownst to me I grabbed some habaneros….. if you know much about peppers you know they are HOT.  I apparently wasn’t think about that, and was surprised to find out they are more like doubling up on your jalapenos.  OOPS.  Too late, I decided to just go with them, and use less than the recipe called for.  Like a good chef I tested a piece before I put it in there…. yep, definitely hot lol.  It worked out though, as the rest of the ingredients in the sauce mellowed it out nicely and it really wasn’t hot at all.  My husband would have liked it hotter, but I like it where you can taste the heat at certain points but not be overwhelmed by it so it was great for me.

The dish in it’s entirety was AWESOME!  Great Thai flavors for sure, and a nice combination of textures with the bit of crunch from the peanuts and carrots.  Everything comes together very quickly, and even more so if, like me, you opt to use rotisserie chicken.  Why not take a shortcut when you can?!  I did taste my sauce after first mixing it and decided to add a bit more of the more acidic ingredients (vinegar and lime juice) because it was almost too peanut buttery still.  I also threw in some lime zest…. no sense in wasting it!  I used about 1.5 T of the sriracha.

Having a child with peanut allergies (obviously  he doesn’t eat things like this lol), means extra work.  I am not a minimalist cook, and use a lot of dishes/surfaces to create my masterpieces.  Especially if I am blogging the dish and want it to look as good as it tastes as there are sometimes extra steps to ensure that.  This means peanuts of some form likely touch MANY surfaces in my kitchen before I am done.  That means EXTRA cleaning up after it’s all done, and definitely not being able to take the lazy approach and swear to myself I will get it later.  But a great Thai dish with a peanut sauce is ALWAYS worth it for me!  Such a fantastic blend of flavors!  If you have never tried it, I suggest you dive right in and make this dish ASAP!

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Thai Quesadillas With Grilled Chicken

Ingredients :

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (I used about 8oz shredded rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 T. cilantro, chopped
  • 2 T. peanuts, crushed
  • 4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (I used about like 6 oz)
  • 4 (10″) flour tortillas
  • 1/3 cup + peanut sauce (below)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray
  • cilantro for garnish

Sauce Ingredients :

  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili peppers, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
  • 1/2 T. olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lime (throw in zest too optional)
  • 2 T. water
  • 1-2 T. sriracha

Directions :

  1. To make chicken, preheat an indoor grill over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and place on the hot grill. Grill each side until cooked through and the juices run clear, about 4 minutes per side. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the grill and allow it to rest.
  2. While the chicken is resting, prepare the peanut sauce. Add all of the ingredients to a blender and pulse until smooth. Add additional Sriracha for a spicier sauce. Set aside.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with a little cooking spray and add the onions. Cook until the onions start to soften, then add the carrots.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for an additional minute, then remove from heat. Set aside.
  4. Cut the chicken into strips against the grain. Toss the strips with about ¼ to ⅓ cup of peanut sauce. Reserve the remaining sauce for drizzling.
  5. Assemble the quesadillas by topping a tortilla with half of the chicken in peanut sauce, onions, carrots, cilantro, and cheese. Top with a second tortilla. Place the tortilla on a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Once the quesadilla is golden on the first side, carefully flip the quesadilla over. Cook until the cheese has completely melted and the second side is golden brown. Repeat with remaining tortillas and fillings.  * a tip for flipping it is to slide it out of the skillet onto a flat surface so you can better get a spatula and hand under it without burning yourself.  This way you can also respray your skillet to ensure better browning on the second side, then just flip it carefully in.
  6. Top the quesadillas with cilantro, crushed peanuts, and a drizzle of the remaining peanut sauce. Serve immediately.

Recipe from That Oven Feelin’

Pumpkin Thai Chicken Pizza


Sounds odd right?  Well I thought so at least, but I am only just starting to come around to using pumpkin in anything other than dessert.  Still, I was intrigued, and put it on my menu as soon as I saw it.  I love Thai pizzas, so I figured why not?  If it turned out I would have an interesting post for my blog, and if not, at least it would be simple to make and I won’t have wasted too much of my time.

Turns out it not only doesn’t taste like pumpkin… something I was rather concerned about given the amount of pumpkin vs the amount of other ingredients… but it tastes great too!  My husband said that he felt it wasn’t too different from a more traditional peanut sauce which is a good thing because that’s definitely his favorite part of Thai pizza, but also the highest portion of fat/calories!  My only critic on this would be that I felt it had room for more flavor.  Perhaps some red peppers!

In regards to the ingredients… I had way more sauce than I needed for one pizza.  I could have probably gotten two out of the amount I had.  The only problem was I didn’t have enough chicken for two pizzas.  I also don’t feel like the amount of cheese listed is enough for a pizza…. I probably used 3 times that to be honest, and I encourage you to use however much you like.  With such a simple pizza I like there to be a nice layer of cheese.  I used a store-bought crust, it was a large square one, that bakes in 8 minutes according to the package, so I ended up basing my time off that, and then at the end I broiled it for just a minute to get some color on the top too.  My last change was to use chicken breast I seasoned with some salt and pepper and cooked in a skillet.

I would definitely make this again, and perhaps try it with the addition of the peppers I mentioned.  It came together easily, and was a nice change from the more traditional pizzas.

 

Pumpkin Thai Chicken Pizza

Ingredients :

  • pizza dough, prepared (I used a prepared crust)
  • 1 (15oz) can pure pumpkin
  • 1 T. chili garlic sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Thai red curry paste
  • 1 chicken breast from a rotisserie chicken, shredded (see note above)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (see note above, I used a lot more)
  • 2 thin slices of onion, chopped
  • handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions :

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large bowl mix together the pumpkin, chili garlic sauce, salt and pepper.
  2. In another smaller bowl mix together the cut chicken, curry paste and lime juice.  Mix together until the chicken is evenly coated with the red curry paste.
  3. Flour your surface and roll out the prepared pizza dough.  Sprinkle the pizza stone or cookie sheet with corn meal and place the dough on the sheet/stone.  Evenly spread the pumpkin mixture on the dough leaving about an inch bare for the crust.  Sprinkle the chicken on top of the pumpkin mixture and evenly place the onion slices on the chicken.
  4.  Finally sprinkle with cheese and bake for 16-18 minutes until cheese has melted and crust is a light golden brown.
  5. While it’s baking chop or tear the cilantro.  After you take the pizza out and it’s cooled sprinkle the cilantro over it and serve.  Enjoy!

Recipe from Seaweed & Sassafras

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Cheesy Spinach & Bacon Quesadillas


I started with a recipe tonight for these, but altered the already small ingredients list enough times that I think it is no longer the same recipe, so I will just share mine instead.  I was sort of concerned before making these that not only would there not be enough filling for each quesadilla (compared to past quesadillas we’ve made), but that we’d be hungry still after eating them as our dinner tonight.  It’s a fine line some nights to come up with a dish that is low enough in calories for my dietary needs while still being filling, but also high enough and filling for my husband as well who gets a lot more calories a day than me.  Quesadillas are a pretty light meal in general, but just looking at the ingredient amounts I was concerned these would be even more so.  It turns out that I was wrong, and these were more than satisfying.  I actually started to feel pretty satisfied after one to tell you the truth, but I managed to eat that second one somehow lol.

The flavor on these is awesome.  The little bit of heat from the tortillas, matched with the creamy smoked flavor of the cheese, and the sweet smokey bacon and fresh spinach is just perfect.  I think serving these with a bit of sour cream would be even better, but it’s definitely not necessary if you are hoping to keep the calories down.

I want to take just a moment to talk about the bacon…. if you have never cooked your bacon in the oven you don’t know what you’re missing!  Not only is there no splatter of oil to clean up and ruin your clothes or burn you, but each piece is perfectly done with ease, and stays nice and straight and looks amazing!  Thick cut bacon works best, but you can certainly do it with any bacon you have.  You just have to watch it closely because the time in which is crisps happens so quickly.  I am going to go ahead and say every oven is different, and so is every bacon so there is no cut and dry temperature/time combo that will work best, but I will list what I used tonight as a guideline to get you started and you’ll just have to try it for yourself to find out what works best in your oven.

Cheesy Spinach & Bacon Quesadillas

Serves : 2-4                            Time to make : 10 minutes (not including bacon preparation time)

Ingredients :

  • 4 Jalapeno Cheddar Tortillas (they are large and the brand is Mission)
  • 3 oz. nonfat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded gouda
  • 8 strips of thick cut bacon, crispy
  • 1 cup of fresh baby spinach (or basically a large handful)

Directions :

  1. First make your bacon… either in the skillet if you prefer, or in the oven as mentioned above.  To make it in the oven line a large cookie (with sides) with foil and place a rack on top.  The foil should come up the sides a bit to catch all your grease for easy cleanup.  Spray rack a bit with non-stick cooking spray.  Lay bacon on rack making sure not to overlap them for the best results.  Bake in a 350 degree oven (not preheated) for about 25-30 minutes or until done, paying close attention starting around 15 minutes and flipping them once or twice for even crisping.
  2. Once bacon is done, combine the cream cheese and gouda in a small microwave safe bowl and heat for about a minute until melted stirring about halfway through.  Watch closely so it doesn’t burn or anything, but it should be fine as long as you stirred it.  You’ll end up with a sort of sticky, ball of cheese rather than a truly melted sauce.
  3. Split the cheese among the four tortillas and spread on one half of each.  Next layer on the bacon.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, add about a T. of water and throw in the spinach stirring gently.  Cook just until it has wilted down a bit, and then remove it.  Layer that into your quesadillas last before folding them over into half circles.
  5. Wipe out any moisture in your skillet left from the spinach and spray with a bit of non-stick cooking spray.  Heat over medium-high heat and then cook your quesadillas in there either one at a time, or if you are brave and have a large skillet go for two at a time but it will make it harder to flip them.  Again, watch closely because once they start to brown they will burn fast if you aren’t careful.  It will probably only take a minute or so for the first side to brown up and start to get crispy, then flip it and cook the other side.  Note: the other side will brown even faster so pay attention.
  6. Cut in half and serve warm.  Optional to serve with a bit of sour cream as well.

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Cauliflower Crust Thai Chicken Pizza


Don’t let the title of this one scare you off… this is an AMAZING pizza.  Not only can you not tell the crust is made from cauliflower, but it’s actually really good.  It might not hold up quite like a regular dough crust, but if I remember correctly (I made this quite some time ago, and just haven’t had time to blog about it) I was able to slice and hold it with some care.  It takes a bit of time, and it might get a little bit messy making this pizza, but it’s definitely worth the effort, and your waistline will thank you too.

Notes: Cauliflower crust doesn’t hold up well for reheating since it’s pretty moist, so plan to eat it all the first night… which is no problem lol.  It won’t smell super appetizing while you heat the cauliflower, but I promise it will taste better than it smells.  When grating the cauliflower use the large holes of a box grater.

 

Cauliflower Crust Thai Chicken Pizza

makes : 1 pizza

Ingredients :

Crust :

  • 2 cups firmly packed shredded cauliflower (about half to 2/3 of a large head)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded mozzarella
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T. (or more) Sriracha
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

Toppings :

  • 1 (7oz) jar peanut sauce (found in most Asian sections of the grocery store)
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken (I believe I used rotisserie)
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded mozzarella
  • 4 green onions, green parts only, chopped
  • 2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. and spray a large baking sheet or pizza pan (I used a pizza pan with holes covering the bottom for ventilation) with nonstick cooking spray.  Place shredded cauliflower in a large microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave for 8 minutes.  Let cool.
  2. Add egg, mozzarella, garlic, sriracha, and salt to the cauliflower, stirring to combine.  Pat the mixture into a 12-inch round on prepared pan.  Brush with the olive oil.
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden.  Remove crust from oven and adjust oven setting to broil.
  4. In a measuring cup or small bowl stir the peanut sauce with the peanut butter until combined.  Spread sauce over pizza crust.  Arrange chicken over next, then sprinkle with cheese, green onions, and cilantro.
  5. Broil for 3-4 minutes, watching carefully, until cheese is melted and begins to brown.  Cut into slices and serve immediately.

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Spiced Vanilla Apple Cupcakes with Vanilla Cinnamon Caramel Frosting


Wow, what a mouthful!  And trust me, you are going to want to have a mouth FULL of these!  A while back I made some caramel apple cupcakes, and they turned out good, but I knew they could be better.  After running out of desserts in our house yet again I decided today was the day to play around and see what I could come up with.

Some of the ingredients I used today might not have been my first choice, but I was trying to stick to things I had on hand.  For example, the confetti cake lol…. I would likely use plain white/vanilla next time.  I might also throw in more than the 15 caramels I had on hand, or perhaps even throw in some caramel syrup to really bring the flavor up front and center in the frosting.  Really though, even with the things used everything turned out great, and if I had those things on hand again I would use them in a heartbeat.

These cupcakes don’t rise a whole lot because of the density from the apples  so I recommend filling them fairly full.  When added the cinnamon to the frosting start with a little and add in small increments until you reach your desired amount.  If you are like me and want to save a bit of time, or enjoy a bit of texture in your cupcakes you can leave the apples unpeeled, however I find kids prefer them peeled.  Also, I know most apple desserts call for granny smith apples, but I used some firm golden delicious today and they worked very well, so don’t be afraid to use your apple of choice for this.

Spiced Vanilla Apple Cupcakes with Vanilla Cinnamon Caramel Frosting

Servings : 24 cupcakes                 Time to make : 35-40 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 box cake mix (confetti or white)
  • water, eggs according to box directions
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (or however much oil the recipe calls for on box)
  • 1 1/2-2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 apples, diced 
  • 1 can vanilla frosting
  • 15-20 caramels
  • 1 T. butter
  • cinnamon to taste

Directions :

  1. Mix cake mix, water, eggs, and applesauce in a large bowl until moist.  Continue on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  2. Add cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, mixing well.
  3. Fold in apple pieces.
  4. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake according to box directions.
  5. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  6. To make frosting : melt the caramels and butter in a glass bowl in microwave slowly, stirring every 10-15 seconds until smooth.  Set aside and allow to cool a bit.  Once cooled fold into the frosting until smooth.  Add cinnamon to taste.
  7. Fill a piping bag, cut a small hole in the end, and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.  Then sprinkle a tiny bit of cinnamon on top.

Day 136 : BBQ Chicken Pizza


Just another pizza night at the Welcome’s!

We’ve really been enjoying the gourmet pizzas of late, so I figured I’d throw in another one this week.  I don’t always like BBQ sauce, but I did really enjoy this pizza.  When I was making it I worried that maybe it would be too blah since there were few ingredients and so many additions were coming to mind, but I refrained from adding any of them and decided to give it a try as intended.  I actually think it was perfect just the way it was, and Jeff seemed to think so too since he quickly claimed it was a 5 star recipe.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Serves : 2-4              Time to make : 25 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 (12 inch) prepared pizza crust (I used a pilsbury one and just baked it for about 8 minutes first)
  • 1/2 cup bbq sauce
  • 1/2 cup diced grilled chicken (I used shredded rotisserie chicken)
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup monteray jack cheese, shredded

Directions :

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Spread bbq sauce on pre-cooked pizza crust, then the chicken, peppers, and onions, and top with the cheese.
  3. Bake 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted.

Published in: on May 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Day 120 : Garlic Lover’s Burger


These burgers are not only packed with garlic flavor but many others as well.  They are SUPER moist, and also so super simple to make.  I like to make them on the foreman grill because they are pretty delicate/moist when starting out, but you might be able to do them on a special rack on the BBQ or in a skillet as well.

I know it seems like a LOT of garlic to cut up and add 3 T. worth, but trust me when I say you want to use it all.  The blend of flavors is out of this world and you will never want to have a simple boring burger again.  Tonight was our first time trying it with the suggested black beans addition and I liked it, but Jeff wasn’t as big a fan.  We usually do add onions though.

I like mine on a bun with just mayo, lettuce and pickle.  Jeff  has also tried it with ketchup and claims it takes on an almost meatloaf taste that way.  Even Archer enjoyed them tonight, so I guess you can say these are “kid friendly”.

Garlic Lover’s Burger

Serves : 3-4                        Time to make : 20 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 lb ground beef (extra lean)
  • 3 T. garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 T. ginger paste
  • handful of fresh cilantro, minced
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 4 kaiser buns

Optional

  • black beans (1/2 – 1 can… they act as a bulker and add nutrition), rinsed drained, and roughly chopped
  • chopped onions
  • spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce, which makes it more meatloaf style in flavor

Directions :

  1. Combine ingredients in bowl and mix with hands.  Take care not to over-work the meat.
  2. Shape into 3-4 patties, and grill until done to your liking.
  3. Place burgers on buns and top with whatever you like.

Day 119 : Spicy Thai Tuna Roll


Instead of going to the store today I decided to use up some of the stuff we already had again.  Like I’ve said before, it really helps me to use things up and waste less if I have to get creative, and that’s just what I did today.  I was pretty surprised at how it turned out, and though I think it is good as-is, I might make minor changes if I were to plan ahead for it.

For example, I would use fresh basil if given the choice, and I might choose a different cheese like monteray jack, or even different lettuce.  The addition of some finely chopped red peppers might be nice too.  For the tuna I buy these things called Tuna Sensations, and they come in various flavors.  I usually get the lemon pepper or sun-dried tomato ones and have used them in various ways in the past.  This was the first time I tried the thai one and by itself I was not impressed and almost didn’t continue to make my lunch, but after I doctored it I really did like it.  One thing I left out though was the spicy thai pepper on top, since I felt it was pretty spicy already without it.  I also took the crackers out and will just use them elsewhere.

I didn’t really measure everything so I will give estimations below.

Spicy Thai Tuna Roll

Serves : 1             Time to make : 5 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 can Tuna Sensations Spicy Thai Chili (use crackers elsewhere)
  • 1 1/2- 2 T. mayo (however creamy you like your tuna)
  • basil, I used about 1 tsp dried, but I would use maybe 1/2-1 T. fresh or thai holy basil would be great
  • 1 T. fresh cilantro chopped
  • dry roasted peanuts, chopped (about 1-1 1/2 T.)
  • lettuce (I used spring mix) . enough for a layer on the wrap
  • low fat mozzarella, small handful
  • 1 light Flatout wrap

Directions :

  1. mix together tuna, mayo, basil, and cilantro.
  2. layer lettuce on wrap, then cheese.
  3. place the tuna towards one end about an inch or so in and just make a sort of log shape with it that almost reaches both sides.
  4. Sprinkle peanuts on top of tuna.
  5. Starting at the side with the tuna, roll up tightly and cut in half.

Day 93 : Green Pancakes with Lime Butter


These are not your typical pancakes!  The bulk of the pancake itself is made up of onions, jalapenos, and spinach, and instead of topping with butter and sweet syrups, you top these bad boys with a spicy lime butter.  They are definitely different, but also definitely delicious!  The striking green color makes for a great presentation too.

I would suggest making the lime butter ahead of time, and allowing it to firm back up for a few hours.  When I made mine I found there to be too much lime juice in the sense that it would not incorporate into the butter.  I just mixed it as much as I could and poured the rest off before putting it into a dish.  I also added the zest from both limes so as not to waste and because I love lime flavor.

Go ahead and use the 10 oz of spinach.  It seems like a lot when you look at it, but it wilts down to practically nothing once you squeeze all the liquids out.  I went with 2 jalapenos and don’t be afraid to use the entire bunch of onions as stated.  It really seems like an insane amount when cutting them up but it works.  I used an ice cream scoop to portion my pancakes and got 9 that way.  I was able to cook three at a time in my large skillet, and then just remember to put a bit more butter down between each new batch.  Cook time below will not reflect the chill time for the butter.

Green Pancakes with Lime Butter

Serves : 3-4                     Time to make : 30 minutes

Ingredients :

Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 stems of cilantro, just the leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • zest of 1 lime (or both)
  • juice of two limes
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Pancakes

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 jalapenos, diced
  • 8-10  oz. baby spinach
  • 1 cup self rising flour
  • 1 1/4 T. baking powder
  • 1 large egg plus 2 additional egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2/3 cup lowfat milk

Directions :

  1. Mince garlic cloves and cilantro leaves together until very fine.  Put in a bowl with the lime zest and lime juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and mix in softened butter.
  2. Place in a dish with a lid to chill, or form into a log and roll up in some plastic wrap to chill.
  3. In a large skillet over medium high heat put a few T of water (3-4) and add the spinach.  Cover and cook about 2 minutes or so until wilted down.  Take off heat and allow to cool.
  4. Melt butter in microwave and allow to cool slightly.  Meanwhile slice your onions, dice your jalapenos after seeding them, and drain the liquid from the spinach.  To do so you can put it in a kitchen towel and twist it up tightly and squeeze it out, then unroll and remove the spinach.  Once drained of all the liquid, chop your spinach.
  5. In a mixing bowl combine the scallions, jalapenos, spinach, melted butter, and whole egg… stir.  Then add in the flour, baking powder, salt, and cumin and mix.  Last add in the milk and stir well.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk the two egg whites 4-5 minutes vigorously until soft peaks form (or cheat and use an electric mixer) then gently fold them into the batter.
  7. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and either spray with cooking spray or melt some butter then drop your batter into the pan using 1/4 cup measurements.  Spread into a 4-5 inch round.  You can probably cook 2-3 at a time.
  8. Cook about 2-3 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown and air bubbles start to form on the top, then flip and cook another minute or so until cooked through.
  9. Place in a warm oven between batches to keep them warm.
  10. Serve with the lime butter on top.

 

Day 86 : Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas


I was browsing recipes when I came across this one and it just sounded GOOD to me.  From time to time we enjoy a nice Hawaiian pizza, or even a BBQ Hawaiian pizza, and the ingredients for this reminded me of that.  With that in mind I was fairly certain I would like this, and I was definitely right!  It was a five star recipe all the way for us.  Such great smokey, sweet, spicy flavor and add in that freshness of the cilantro and you have got yourself one heck of a quesadilla!

I used a nice slab of fresh pineapple already trimmed of the outsides and cored from the store, and then just sliced that up into a few rings and grilled them that way.  I also used 2 large chicken breasts rather than three since they seemed quite big to me.  For the BBQ sauce I used a tangy sauce and it went perfectly with everything else.  I have never made quesadillas before where you brown all the tortillas  ahead of time, and I think you lose a little bit of quality that way since it’s harder to get it to stay together like it would if you were to brown it with the cheese and stuff already in it…. but for the purpose of serving a larger crowd at the same time this worked very well.  I just threw them all into the oven for about 5 minutes on 250 to get the cheese good and melted and that worked just fine.

 

Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas

Serves : 4                       Time to make : 35 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 8 flour tortillas
  • butter (about 1/4 cup divided)
  • 2-3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 2 cups pineapple, sliced
  • 3 T. BBQ sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • chipotle seasoning
  • cumin
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 3 cups monteray jack cheese, shredded
  • cilantro
  • sour cream
  • extra BBQ sauce

Directions :

  1. Grill pineapple, then cut into pieces and set aside.
  2. Pound chicken out until even and salt and pepper to taste.  Season with the chipotle seasoning and cumin as well, to your taste.
  3. Grill chicken until cooked through, basting with the BBQ sauce as you go.  Sliced thin and set aside.
  4. In a large non-stick skillet, heated on medium heat, drop in a bit of butter and spread it around.  Then brown a flour tortilla on both sides (about a minute or so, just watch it carefully) and stack on a plate to the side as you repeat for the remaining 7 tortillas.
  5. To assemble quesadillas, layer 1/4 of the cheese onto one of the browned tortillas, 1/4 of the sliced chicken, 1/4 of the pineapple, 1/4 of the sliced jalapeno, and some fresh cilantro torn up before topping with a second tortilla and placing in a warm oven to melt the cheese.  Repeat with the remaining ingredients until you have 4 quesadillas.
  6. Serve by cutting into 6 wedges and topping with some sour cream and additional BBQ sauce.

 

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 7:23 pm  Comments (6)  
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Day 80 : Caesar Club Sandwich


One of my favorite salads is Caesar Salad.  I love the garlicy, salty, lemony, creamy dressing.  So when I came across this sandwich I knew I had to try it.  I had only made my own caesar dressing a handful of times, but never with parsley or mayonnaise!  I was a bit skeptic to be perfectly honest, but I think it really did have a caesar flavor when all was said and done.  And best of all it was super simple to make.  That spread along with the other elements resulted in an amazingly delicious sandwich!  It not only tasted great, but it had so much color to it and looked beautiful on the plate!

I did have trouble finding arugula in my area, so went with a Spring Mix salad that had tango lettuce, baby romaine, & radicchio.  When I did a quick web search for an appropriate substitute it came up with either spinach or watercress.  I would have no better luck finding watercress in my area, and the store was out of spinach that day so I just went with something I would be happy to serve as a caesar salad instead.  I think it worked well for this and it added even more color and texture to the mix.  I also went with shredded parmesan just because I already had some on hand.  To save a bit of time I did use a rotisserie chicken from the store for this.  I think they are really good, and worth getting for any recipe that you need pre-cooked chicken for.  A couple other things I tweaked a bit perhaps were using about double the garlic (because I love garlic), and I have no idea how much sun dried tomato I used since mine were already cut up in the jar of oil.  I just eyeballed it and layered them so they would cover it with some tomato in each bite.  The same with the lettuces and parmesan… I just put enough to cover and eyeballed on amounts.

I did take a couple of liberties in technique tonight as well, but I don’t feel like they changed the overall outcome of the recipe.  One was in using the rotisserie chicken of course, and that was more of skipping a step.  The others were that I cooked the pancetta up in a skillet like bacon, getting it nice and crisp and then laid them out on paper towel to absorb the grease.  I also brushed a bit of olive oil onto the sliced ciabatta bread before sticking it under the broiler for a couple of minutes rather than placing it into the oven.  Time to make below will be for the original recipe as stated with roasting your own chicken, but take note that if you use the store bought chicken it goes much faster.  You can also do like I did, and make the caesar spread earlier in the day, then put it in the fridge.  It not only saves time later, but it allows the flavors to really marry together.

 

Caesar Club Sandwich

Serves : 2-3             Time to make : 50 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 2 chicken breasts, bone in with skin on
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced pancetta
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 T. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 1 tsp. dijon
  • 1 1/2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 large ciabatta loaf
  • 2 oz. baby arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 12 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 2 – 3 oz. parmesan, shaved

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan skin side up. Rub the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until cooked through. Cool slightly, discard the skin and bones, and slice the meat thickly. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, place the pancetta on another sheet pan in a single layer. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to drain on paper towels.
  4. Place the garlic and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until minced. Add the anchovy paste, mustard, lemon juice, and mayonnaise and process again to make a smooth dressing. (Refrigerate the Caesar dressing if not using it immediately.)
  5. Slice the ciabatta in half horizontally and separate the top from the bottom. Toast the bread in the oven, cut side up, for 5 to 7 minutes; cool slightly. Spread the cut sides of each piece with the Caesar dressing. Place half the arugula on the bottom piece of bread and then layer in order: the sun-dried tomatoes, shaved Parmesan, crispy pancetta, and sliced chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and finish with another layer of arugula. Place the top slice of ciabatta on top and cut in thirds crosswise. Serve at room temperature.

Day 64 : Spicy Chicken with Herb Sauce


Finally a nice leisurely day at home made all the better by this great dinner!  When you’re making this it seems like a LOT of spices, and it is, but ironically it’s not too “spicy” or strong.  The spices create a sort of crust to the chicken, which once blackened in the skillet is SOOO good.  It also seems to help to seal the moisture into the chicken resulting in some of the moistest chicken we’ve ever had from the skillet.  The chicken itself has a nice smokey flavor with just a hint of heat to it, and is pretty good by as is…… then you add the sauce.

The sauce is a great contrast to the spices, giving it a nice fresh flavor.  It’s also a very beautiful green that contrasts with the blackened red/orange chicken nicely.  I think next time I might make it in the blender however because my processor is so large that with so few things inside it tends to slip under the blades and I think I would have gotten an even thicker emulsion if that wasn’t the case.  As it was, it was still very good, but it separated a bit and the oil was in a puddle after a while.  Anyway, this is a very good, “different” way to have your chicken and I recommend it to anyone.  NOT a very easy dish to photograph in a hurry however, so you’ll have to excuse the rushed picture for tonight.

*I made the spice rub earlier in the day and after rubbing a bit of olive oil onto the chicken I rubbed it into the chicken and then placed it in a glass dish covered with foil in the fridge to allow the spices to really penetrate the chicken.  I think that really helps to get all the flavor you can out of the spices.

 

Spicy Chicken with Herb Sauce

Serves : 4              Time to make : 20 minutes

Ingredients :

Chicken:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 T. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground mustard
  • 2 tsp. ground fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • oil or butter for cooking

Sauce :

  • 1 C. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 C. fresh mint leaves
  • 1 C. fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 T. dijon mustard
  • 1 T. diced green chilis
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions :

  1. To prepare the chicken, combine paprika, cumin, mustard powder, fennel, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Rub your chicken with a bit of oil or butter and then rub the spices into the chicken patting them in well.
  2. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the chicken breasts in some additional oil or butter for about 5 minutes per side until cooked through.  Spices will blacken and that is ok.
  3. For the sauce, place mint, parsley, garlic, and chilis into a food processor and roughly chop.  Add mustard and salt and pepper, then process again.
  4. With the processor running on high, SLOWLY drizzle the olive oil in to create an emulsion.
  5. Serve sauce over chicken.

 

Day 63 : Raspberry Almond Pizza


Busy day today finally getting caught up on things around the house and going grocery shopping.  For a family that shops once a week going two weeks is crazy and I am so glad to have a full stocked fridge and cupboards again.  Lots of good stuff for recipes to come!

Tonight’s recipe was found on Key Ingredient and OMG is it good!  Definitely use the marscapone if you can find it because it has such a yummy creaminess to it that cream cheese just could never duplicate.  The recipe image that went along with this looked so much prettier than mine turned out with the marscapone spread out in it’s own layer while mine more melted into the jam, but I am quite sure no taste was sacrificed lol.  It didn’t look bad, just not as good as I was aiming for based on the recipe image.  It really is good as is, but if you are feeling adventurous I think the only thing that could make this even better is some nice dark chocolate shaved over the top!

I forgot to put the confectioner’s sugar on top before taking the pics, but did add it afterward.  It is necessary to sweeten the fresh raspberries just a bit.  There wasn’t very exact measurements for a lot of the ingredients to the original recipe, but it’s fine to just eyeball it.  I used a pillsbury crust for this and it worked perfectly.

Raspberry Almond Pizza

Serves : 4                   Time to make : 20 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • melted butter
  • sugar
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 1/3 cup marscapone or cream cheese
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • raspberries
  • toasted almonds

Directions :

  1. Preheat a baking sheet in a 450 degree oven.  Roll out 1 pound pizza dough into a 12-inch round.
  2. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
  3. Bake on the hot baking sheet until golden, about 8 minutes.
  4. Brush with the 1/4 cup raspberry jam, then bake 2 more minutes.
  5. Cool slightly.  Beat 1/3 cup marscapone or cream cheese with 3 T. confectioner’s sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
  6. Spread over the pizza and top with raspberries, toasted almonds, and confectioner’s sugar.

 

Published in: on March 5, 2011 at 8:53 pm  Comments (1)  
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