{In case you're wondering, that means "Everyone to the table to eat!" in Italian}

Saturday, February 27, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza
15" pizza crust (I use my whole-wheat dough, recipe here makes enough for 3 crusts)
1/2 c. pizza sauce
1/2 c. BBQ sauce, divided (our faves are Sweet Baby Ray's and Famous Dave's)
2 c. (8 oz.) mozzarella cheese, grated
1 c. pineapple chunks
1 large chicken breast
olive oil, s & p
1/2 medium onion, sliced

Roll crust out and place on pizza stone or tray. Mix pizza sauce and 1/4 c. bbq sauce. Season chicken w/ salt & pepper, cook in skillet over medium-high heat in olive oil for about 5 minutes per side, or until no longer pink in center. Chop chicken and mix w/ remaining 1/4 c. bbq sauce. Cover crust with sauce, mozzarella cheese, chicken, onion, and pineapple. Bake in a pre-heated 425 oven for about 15 minutes, or until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly. Mmmm!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Southwestern Crock-pot Chicken

This was so fast and easy and had great flavor! I will definitely make it again. Recipe slightly adapted from Erin at Sister’s Cafe.

Southwestern Crock-pot Chicken
1 small bag frozen corn
1 can black beans
3 large frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 16-oz jar medium salsa
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped cilantro
tortilla chips
sour cream
diced avocado

Pour bag of frozen corn in bottom of crockpot. Place frozen chicken breasts on top of corn and cover with rinsed and drained black beans and jar of medium salsa. Cook on high for 1 hour, and then on low for 4 hours. Shred chicken with forks. Add chicken and chopped cilantro back to crock-pot and mix everything together. Serve with tortilla chips and add toppings to individual servings.

**It is very important that you use MEDIUM salsa in this. Mild simply isn't flavorful enough. Be sure to serve with tortilla chips, and not tortillas. The salty crunchy chips make this so good!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nanaimo Bars

I read about these bars on another food blog, and since they are a traditional Canadian treat, we thought we'd celebrate our obsession with the Vancouver Olympics by eating these for our Family Home Evening treat last night. The story is that a lady in the city of Nanaimo submitted the recipe for her no-bake bars to a city cookbook contest and won. No wonder, they are seriously awesome! The bars were eventually named after the city (which is on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada).

Nanaimo Bars
Bottom Layer:
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut
Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer:
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream (I used milk successfully)
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder (or vanilla pudding mix)
2 cups powdered sugar
Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer:
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

Glazed Italian Meatloaf

My mom taught me how to make meatloaf, and I have changed some things over the years to suit my tastes, but the glaze is still all hers. It is SO good! I serve it with either baked or mashed potatoes and green beans.

Glazed Italian Meatloaf

2 lbs. ground turkey (or beef if you prefer)
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
1 large egg
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 c. Italian breadcrumbs, oats or almond meal

Mix all ingredients together. Pat into a large loaf pan. Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (depending on your oven). Mix glaze ingredients in a bowl: 1/2 c. ketchup and 1/3 c. brown sugar. Pour grease out of pan, pour glaze over meatloaf and bake an additional 15-20 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menu-Plan Monday: Week 1

For about the past 5 years I have been making a menu plan every Sunday night. I then do all my grocery shopping on Monday and have everything I need for the week. Of course there are times I forget something, run out of milk, or have to get stuff for an unexpected event, but for the most part I get it all done once a week. This has helped me save a lot of time, money, and stress wondering what to make for dinner. I sit down Sunday night, check the grocery store ads to see if anyone is having great sales on things I buy, and then make my list. I have a list I made up that I print with sections for groceries: dairy, meat, other grocery (canned goods, baking products, etc), produce, deli, bakery, frozen foods, and non-food items. I keep one on my fridge so I can write items down as I run out throughout the week. Then on Sunday I figure out my menu, adding items that I need for each meal (I write the menu on the back of my list). This helps me get through the store faster, and also helps if I need to change something at the store because they are out of one of my ingredients. I always list my side dishes on my menu, and add any lunch or breakfast items I need to the list as well. If you want to give it a try and would like my list, shoot me an e-mail and I'll send it to you. I thought I'd start posting my menu plan each Monday, so if you get bored with the same old things like me you can get some ideas. Here is this week's menu (I'll add links to the recipes I post later):

Monday: Glazed Italian meatloaf, baked potatoes, and green beans
Tuesday: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup and crackers
Wednesday: Denver omelettes and fruit salad
Thursday: Southwestern Crock-pot Chicken
Friday: Pizza/movie night (BBQ Chicken pizza and salad)
Saturday: Roasted Veggie & Black Bean Burritos
Sunday: Cafe Rio pork salad w/ cilantro-lime dressing

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cinnamon-Raisin French Toast & Maple Syrup

I added 2 tb. cinnamon-sugar and 1/2 c. raisins to my extra bread dough from making pizza crust, baked it up, and made this yummy french toast the next morning for breakfast. Of course you could also use store-bought cinnamon raisin bread. It was great!
Cinnamon-Raisin French Toast
1 loaf cinnamon-raisin bread
8 eggs
1/2 c. milk
2 tb. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
powdered sugar, for dusting
Beat eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Heat griddle and brush with butter. Dip each slice of bread in egg mixture and cook until lightly browned on both sides. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with warm maple syrup.
Want to make your own syrup? Here's a quick, easy, and delicious recipe:
Maple Syrup
4 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 c. water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maple extract
Mix sugars and water in small saucepan. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla and maple extracts. Cool. Store in refrigerator to prevent sugar crystals from forming.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gourmet Veggie Pizza

Gourmet Veggie Pizza
1 15-inch pizza crust (I make my own using my whole-wheat bread recipe- one recipe makes about 3 crusts)
3/4 c. ranch dressing
2 tb. fresh minced garlic
2 c. (8 oz.) mozzerella cheese, grated
1 c. baby spinach leaves
4-5 large mushrooms, sliced
1 large tomato, chopped (I didn't use this time since they aren't in season)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 tb. parmesan cheese
1 tsp. basil, oregano, or Italian seasoning
Roll out crust and place on pizza stone or greased baking tray. Mix dressing and garlic, spread on crust. Place spinch leaves over sauce, then cover with cheese. Evenly spread on mushrooms, tomato, onion, and artichokes. Mix parmesan and herb of choice together, sprinkle over top of pizza. Bake in a pre-heated 425 oven for 12-15 inutes, until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chicken & Dumplings

Easy. Fast. Warm. Delicious. Enough said.
Chicken & Dumplings
3 frozen chicken breasts
2 tb. chicken bouillon granules (or 6 cubes)
8 c. water
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tb. baking powder
1/2 c. cold butter
1/2 c. milk
Place chicken in 6 quart saucepan with water and bouillon granules or cubes. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink inside. While chicken is cooking, make dumpling dough: mix flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in milk. Roll out on floured surface to about 1/4" thick. Cut with cookie cutters, using all dough. Remove chicken from broth to cool. Season broth with pepper and parsley, bring back to boil. Gently place dumplings in broth, submerging each one. Cover and cook about 10 minutes. Chop chicken and add back to broth, warm and serve.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rustic Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Did you know the peel is the healthiest part of the potato? It is for this reason, and not laziness, that I rarely peel potatoes. No, really! If I am making a large batch of mashed potatoes I do peel them halfway (because that many peels get a little overwhelming). Try it!

Rustic Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Potatoes, scrubbed and diced
Milk or cream
Garlic salt
Black pepper
Parsley flakes

Place diced potatoes in a large pan with enough water to cover. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Simmer potatoes about 15-20 minutes, until fork-tender. Drain water out. Add butter (about a tablespoon per 2 large potatoes) and milk and mash with a potato masher, adding milk to reach desired consistency. Season to taste with garlic salt, pepper and parsley.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day Feast

Around here we have our own Valentine's tradition: feed the kids dinner early (usually noodles or mac & cheese), put them to bed, and have a home-cooked feast and romantic movie at home. No baby-sitter, no crowds, and easier on the wallet. We enjoy it! We keep it simple so we don't have to slave away, but it's delish! We always have Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits, salad with tiny shrimp, and steak & seafood. This year we accompanied it with Welch's Sparkling Red Grape Cider (sometimes we do Pina Coladas) and chocolates for dessert. Dustin had seared scallops with a rib-eye steak, I had scallops and steamed snow crab legs. Here's the recipe for the biscuits:
Cheddar Bay Biscuits
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tb. baking powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. cold butter
1/2 c. milk
1 c. cheddar cheese, grated
2 tb. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. parsley
pinch salt
Mix flour, 1/2 tsp salt, baking powder, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder. Using 2 knives or a pastry blender (or your hands, like me), cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in the milk, then the cheese. You can either roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/2 " thickness and cut with round cookie cutters, or just drop the dough onto a greased cookie sheet in 12 equal portions (I do the latter). Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Meanwhile, mix 2 tb. melted butter, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, parsley and pinch of salt. Remove biscuits from oven, and immediately brush butter mixture over tops, using it all. Eat while still warm.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fluffer Nutters

My kids are always getting bored of the same old sandwiches for school lunches, so I try to change things up every once in a while. My throw-backs or pb & j, pb & honey, or lunchmeat, but sometimes we'll throw in something different. This is one of them: fluffer nutters. They consist of pb & a layer of marshmallow fluff (aka marshmallow creme). I know, not very healthy, but okay once in a while, right? If you've never had them you've gotta give it a try. Your kids will love it (and so will the kid in YOU!). My other faves include sliced strawberries with blueberry cream-cheese, and sliced cucumbers with garden cream-cheese. Yeah, on a sandwich (not the same one, though). Mmmm!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ropa Vieja & Sofrito

A while back I started watching the new PBS channel Create late at night, when lots of cooking shows are on. The lady who makes this, Daisy Martinez, is a riot. The catch phrase of her show and cookbook, Daisy Cooks, is "Latin flavors that will rock your world". She is lots of fun to watch, and at least this dish really does rock our world. It is so good, we've decided we don't need any other way to cook a roast. The name of the dish, by the way, means "old clothes", which references the falling-apart tenderness of the meat, NOT the way it tastes!
Ropa Vieja
One 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 lb. chuck roast
Salt & pepper
Onion powder
3 tb. canola oil
1/2 c. sofrito (see recipe below)
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
Two 8 oz. cans spanish-style tomato sauce (I used regular)
1 1/2 c. water
3 tb. chopped green olives w/ pimentos (I hate green olives, so I left these out)
2 bay leaves
4 celery stalks, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 c. fresh or frozen peas (we hate peas so I leave these out & up the other veggies)
Pound roast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap with meat mallet until 1/2" thick (I only got it down to about 1" thick, and it turned out great, the idea is to tenderize it). Season both sides generously with salt, pepper, and onion powder. Heat oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet. Add roast and brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350. Meanwhile, stir in sofrito and cumin. Stir in tomato sauce, water, chopped olives, and bay leaves. Cover (if your lid isn't ovenproof use foil) and put in oven. Bake for about 2 1/2 hours, until meat is tender. Remove from oven and take meat out of pan to cool enough to handle. Remove bay leaves. Add celery and carrots to pan, place over medium heat on stove, and bring to simmer. Shred meat and add back to pot. Stir in peas after 15 minutes, cook about 5 minutes more, adding water if drying out. Serve and enjoy!
2 medium Spanish onions, cut into large chunks
3 to 4 Italian frying peppers or cubanelle peppers
16 to 20 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large bunch cilantro, washed
7 to 10 ajices dulces (see note below), optional
4 leaves of culantro (see note below), or another handful cilantro
3 to 4 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into large chunks
Chop the onion and cubanelle or Italian peppers in the work bowl of a food processor until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, add the remaining ingredients one at a time and process until smooth. The sofrito will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It also freezes beautifully. Freeze sofrito in ½ cup batches in sealable plastic bags. They come in extremely handy in a pinch. You can even add sofrito straight from the freezer to the pan in any recipe that calls for it.
Makes about 4 cups.
*If you can't find ajices dulces or culantro, don't sweat. Up the amount of cilantro to 1 ½ bunches. I did this and also used regular onions and Anaheim peppers instead of the Italian ones.

Sweet & Spicy Salmon

This is my favorite way to fix salmon. I almost always serve it with baked sweet potatoes and a green salad or another green veggie. It is sweet and a little spicy, but not too spicy (even for the kids).
Sweet & Spicy Salmon
1 lb. wild Alaskan salmon fillets, cut into 4 equal pieces
2 tb. brown sugar
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
Heat a skillet or electric griddle over medium heat. Spray the pan or griddle with cooking spray (you can also grill these, make sure to grease the rack or they'll stick). Mix brown sugar and seasoning. Sprinkle over tops of salmon fillets, rubbing it in gently. Cook fish in pan, griddle, or grill for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through, until fish flakes with a fork. Enjoy!

Blackened Fish Tacos

Before I found this recipe, I tried making fish tacos once before, and it wasn't a good experience. But I found this recipe in my Pampered Chef cookbook, and they are SO good! My kids even love them (except the one that hates all fish except tuna, no matter how I disguise it). They are quick and easy, too. I'm not really a white-fish lover, but these are really yummy.
Blackened Fish Tacos
1/4 c. sliced green onions
2 tb. snipped fresh cilantro
1 tb. lime juice
1 tb. vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
2 c. broccoli slaw mix
1 lb. tilapia or catfish fillets
1 tb. Cajun seasoning
1 avocado, seeded and sliced
8 corn tortillas, warmed
3 medium radishes, grated (I didn't use these)
For slaw, mix first 7 ingredients in small bowl. Whisk until blended, then mix in slaw mix. Cover and refrigerate. Heat a saute pan or electric griddle sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat. Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of fish fillets with Cajun seasoning. Cook fillets in hot pan about 10 minutes, until fish flakes with fork, turning halfway through. Flake fish into bite-sized pieces. To serve, top each tortilla with slaw mixture, fish, radishes (if using), and avocado slices. Serves 4.

Hawaiian Pizza

Hawaiian Pizza
15" pizza crust (I use my whole-wheat dough, recipe here makes enough for 3 crusts)
3/4 c. pizza sauce
2 c. (8 oz.) mozzarella cheese, grated
1 c. pineapple chunks
canadian bacon slices
1/2 c. colby cheese, grated
Roll crust out and place on pizza stone or tray. Cover with layer of sauce, mozzarella cheese, canadian bacon, and pineapple. Sprinkle colby cheese over top. Bake in a pre-heated 425 oven for about 15 minutes, or until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly. Mmmm!