BBQ Chicken Pizza

This homemade pizza is so good!  Fresh ingredients, no grease, no high fructose corn syrup, no belly aches, extra money in your pocket.  Your pizza night maybe changed forever, ours is!

Topping ingredients:

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Chicken- I use thighs, they are cheap and super easy to fix.  Season them up with a bbq dry rub or salt/pepper/oregano/thyme blend under the skin, but leave skin on and bake in a 350 oven for 45 minutes.  Chicken breast works great too,  split chicken breast with rib is  a lot cheaper than boneless skinless chicken.  Bake the same way.

1 small/medium onion, 1 green pepper, a couple cloves of garlic

BBQ sauce- the one pictured is called Garland Jack’s Secret Six-no high fructose corn syrup, less then $3, and delicious!

Real Mozzarella cheese, not the imitation stuff.

Chop the vegetables and chicken up and set aside. Turn the oven up to 450 degrees!

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Crust Ingredients:

You can buy a box crust by Betty Crocker or Jiffy, or just make your own.  It’s really easy and this recipe makes two thin crusts or one thick crust.

Homemade Pizza Crust

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1 package of rapid rise yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 cup warm water

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

Add sugar and yeast to warm water and let sit 5 minutes

Combine flour, salt, oil, and water/yeast mixture in a bowl and beat with a stand mixer or electric mixer until the dough pulls together.  On a lightly floured surface, start kneading the dough with your hands adding small amounts of flour (1 tsp at a time) until the dough is tacky, not sticky, and forms a smooth round ball.  Let it rest for 5 min.

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Spray a large flat baking sheet with cooking spray and lightly flour or better yet use corn meal.  If making thin crust, which I recommend, use half of the dough and freeze the other half in a ziplock bag.  Roll the dough out on the baking sheet.  This takes a little work, keep pulling the dough up off the sheet and lightly pull out to stretch the dough out to the edges of the baking sheet.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but make sure there are no holes in the crust.

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Add a thin layer of BBQ sauce, too much will be to heavy on a thin crust. Add on some herbs if you like as well.  Marjoram, basil, and oregano are make a great blend for pizza. use about 1/8 tsp of each.  If you don’t have fresh garlic, sprinkle on a little garlic salt before adding the toppings.

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Here is my little helper…

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Next, add the garlic, chicken, and vegetables and a thin layer of cheese.  Don’t pile the cheese on, it will be too heavy and the vegetables will not cook right.

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Ok, here is a VERY IMPORTANT STEP!!  Put the pizza in the oven set at 450 degrees.  Set a timer for 7 minutes.  With a spatula, metal works great but any will do, CAREFULLY loosen the crust from the baking sheets and put it directly on the rack.  This makes the crust the crunchy awesomeness that is thin crust.  If the crust has any holes after this operation, put the sheet on the bottom rack under the pizza to save the bottom of your oven.  Bake for another 8-10 minutes, keep a close eye on it, it will bake fast now!

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And there you have it!  Let this masterpiece cool for 5 or so.

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This pizza goes really well with a red Zinfandel.  I found a good one called Zinopolis for around $10 that was really good.

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Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Got a special occasion coming up or just love beautiful and delicious sweets? Make these chocolate covered strawberries! It was so easy and they turn out perfectly.  I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips and Ghirardelli white chocolate chips.

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Wash and dry the berries with a paper towel.

Have a baking sheet lined with wax paper set aside.

I used a pot that has a steamer basket.  you could also just use two different sized pans to make a double boiler.

In a small heat safe bowl/ramekin melt the dark chocolate chips (just do about 1/4 cup at a time, you can always add a few more at a time) over the indirect heat,  stirring until smooth.  Once melted, set the heat on low.

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Dip each strawberry in the chocolate, let any excess drip back into the bowl, then set on the wax paper.

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Oh yum!

Next.  Do the same thing with the white chocolate in a new bowl.

* You do not need very much white chocolate! I used maybe a 4 Tbsp amount.*

Now, I had to do a little work to get the consistency were I wanted it with the white chocolate.  I added a very small amount of butter, like less then what you would use on toast.  and a teaspoon of milk.  Stir to get a consistency that is drizzleable! Hey folks, you heard it here first!

Dip a fork in the melted goodness and fling it around over the strawberries to get this…

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It’s not an exact science, fling around is really all I could come up with this early Saturday morning.

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Sebastian has something to add…

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Aw, mommies little heartbreaker!

They will set in about 30 minutes.  I popped mine in the freezer for a little bit and they turned out fantastic!

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Enjoy!

More Hummus Please!

Here is a very simple hummus recipe that is delicious as is or as a base for adding other flavors.

First, you need these ingredients

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1 can of chick peas (garbanzo beans) reserve liquid

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp Tahini

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sea salt, or to taste

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Add everything, except the reserved liquid, to a food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency adding the reserved liquid just a little at a time if needed.  I usually only use about 1-2 Tbsp in all.

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Yum!

I take half of the batch out for Sebastian and add a little more distinguished flavor for myself.

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1/2 tsp of ground cumin and 1/4 tsp hot madras curry powder

Mix this in for an Indian flavor! Thanks Rhea for this delicious idea!

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For you:

Chop up some green pepper, mushroom, avocado and spinach…

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and stuff it all in a pita pocket with hummus spread on the inside!

For baby…

Hummus on wheat toast with sliced avocado.

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Going….Going

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GONE! Approved!

Muffins!

Yum, yum, yum!  Banana muffins, blueberry muffins, or whatever else you want to add, this recipe is one I have been working on for a long time.  It is so much healthier than your usual muffin recipe.

Why?

Greek yogurt, it makes these muffins amazing and cuts out all the bad fats!  Use a plain yogurt with fat in it like the Greek Gods brand.

Ingredients:

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2 c. flour , 1 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 c white sugar, 1/4 c brown sugar

2 eggs

1/3 c greek yogurt

2 Tbsp butter

3 to 4 over ripe bananas

Combine flour, baking soda, powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg.  In another bowl, combine sugars, eggs, yogurt, butter, and bananas. Add dry to wet and stir until just incorporated, pour into muffin tins and bake @350 for 18 to 22 minutes and…

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For Blueberry muffins:

To the above recipe add 3/4 cup milk to the sugar, yogurt, egg mixture

Instead of adding cinnamon and nutmeg, use 1/4 tsp of ground ginger mixed with 3/4cup blueberries and fold into the batter. Bake 350 for 20 minutesor until golden brown.

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Approved!

Monday Night Pasta

Monday is a perfect night for a big pasta dinner.  It’s easy, delicious, and makes awesome leftovers!  I have a few different pasta recipes I like to alternate between, lasagna being a favourite around here!

This is such an easy recipe and the spinach really adds a gourmet quality, if you will, but is not necessary.

1/2 lb ground beef  and 1/2 lb ground hot italian sausage

2 cloves garlic

Herbs: 1/4 tsp each of basil, thyme, oregano and 1/8 tsp each of marjoram, rosemary

2 jars of pasta sauce (I love kroger brand parmesan and romano)

1.5 to 2 cups of fresh spinach

1 24oz container of cottage cheese

Pack of shredded mozzarella cheese

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Brown the meats, add the minced garlic just before it is done.  DRAIN THE GREASE OUT!  It will cut the fat by sooo much with just this easy little step.

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Add the herb blend.  I had fresh oregano and used dried for the rest.

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Add the sauce and simmer for at least an hour, stir often.

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For the noodles:

Boil  a few cups of water, place noodles (I use 10 noodles for a 9×13 dish) in a container, and pour boiling water over noodles.  Cover with either a lid or foil for 12 minutes.  Place on a towel to dry.

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Get out your ingredients,

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and start layering sauce, spinach,

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noodles, cottage cheese,

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and back to sauce, spinach….

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Top it with the mozzarella and bake it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and…

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Bam! Tested and baby approved!

Shrimp & Sausage Pesto Pasta

This recipe is so easy and impress anyone you maybe cooking for!

First, if you do not have fresh basil, go buy a pesto sauce like this one.  It’s from Kroger and just about as good as a fresh homemade pesto.  The packets with the powdery crap are just that, crap.

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Next, buy some good raw shrimp (frozen is fine, get the large ones though, Costco’s tiger prawns that they have on the weekends are the best) and a package of  Johnsonville (or some other tubular 🙂 brand) Andouille sausage.

Peel and devein a half pound of shrimps and cut up about the same amount of sausage in whatever shapes you prefer (circles, half circles, diced, it really doesn’t matter)

Chop up a clove or two of garlic in big chunks.

Get a pot of water on the boil and add noodles.  About a 1/2 package of uncooked spaghetti will be a good ratio of noodle to sauce/meat with probable leftovers so googlie bear’s lunch in the office will be a huge hit for him and anyone with a nose.

Heat a large skillet with a little olive oil over medium heat, add shrimp and cook until they change color, then throw in the garlic and sausage.

Cook this until the sausage is heated through then add a couple tablespoons of the pesto. Stir all this deliciousness together.

Drain the noodles, but save some of the water (like a cup or so)

Grab some tongs and start adding noodles to the skillet, toss them around to cover in the sauce.  Add a little pasta water if they stick together.

I made a couple loaves of bread a few days before and cut big, thick slices, topped with butter and chopped garlic, then toasted in a 300 degree oven until golden brown ~10 min.  I’ll post the bread recipe later.

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Pair this pasta dish with a light bodied red wine.   I like a Cotes du Rhone, Costco has an ok one called Andezon for less than $10, Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages is a great table wine for under $10, or a Pinot Noir would be good as well, go for one from Oregon’s Willamette Valley like A to Z 2011 Pinot Noir.

Cornhole Cornbread Honey

Ah, baking, it’s a necessity in my life.  Perfect measurements of flour and sugar, using all of the nifty kitchen gadgets.  Nothing makes me feel more like a housewife than when I put on my apron and take control of the kitchen.  I like to make things my own, like going through cookbooks and allrecipes.com  recipes for ratios and inspiration and making my own creation.  One of my favorites is Cornhole Cornbread Honey!  The honey is baked in, but not mixed through the batter so you get pockets of delicious sweetness.

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Plus you get dark crispy edges that are burnt sweetness.

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Recipe for Cornhole Cornbread Honey:

1 cup Flour

1 cup cornmeal

2/3 cup white sugar

1 tsp salt

3 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400.  Combine dry ingredients, combine wet ingredients, add wet to dry and mix.  Pour into muffin tins, about 3/4 of the way full.  Easy!

Now, get out some good local honey if you have it, or just use what you got, whatever, both are delicious.

Dip a butter knife into the honey and let it drip off just a little bit so you don’t make a huge mess.  Now stick the knife down into the batter so the honey isn’t only on the top, but marbled through the muffin. I like to always make a hole in the middle and swirl out from there, hence the name “Cornhole”.  Well, ok, I am also immature, so what of it!

Bake these cuties for 20-25 minutes, depending on your muffin size.  I get 10 muffins out of this recipe with my big ol’ muffin tins.

Take them of the tins after a couple minutes and let them cool on a wire rack and eat one immediately, you know you want to.

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