Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easy Shrimp Scampi

This recipe is easy, and delicious! When I made this last week, I didn't add any lemon juice, but you could most definitely add a tablespoon or two to add to the flavor. Enjoy!

Easy Shrimp Scampi
2 TBSP White Wine (I used cooking wine.)
2 TBSP Butter
1 tsp Dried Parsley Flakes
2 TBSP garlic, minced
1 pound shrimp

Melt butter in skillet. Once melted, add wine, parsley, and garlic. Mix well and add shrimp. Cook 6-9 minutes until shrimp is pink on both sides. Serve hot!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Creamy Mashed New Potatoes

Let me be honest. I rarely use Russet potatoes. I almost always use red potatoes because they are healthier. And, I almost always keep the skins on. I prepared these this week to go with our Pecan Crusted Tilapia in Rum Butter Sauce and Green Beans. They were perfect. You could omit the green onions, but I wouldn't.

Creamy Mashed New Potatoes

3 medium to large red potatoes
2 oz cream cheese
4 TBSP butter
1/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 green onions, chopped

Cut potatoes in half and place in pot of salted, boiling water. Boil until cooked. You will know they are cooked when a fork is easily inserted into the potatoes. Drain all water off and return to pan and place back on burner on medium heat. Mash with a potato masher to release excess steam. Add butter with masher, then add cream cheese with masher. Finally, add heavy whipping cream, salt, pepper, and green onions. Serve hot!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fluffy Stuffed New Potatoes

I love twice baked potatoes. And these are pretty awesome! And the best part is that they made with red potatoes, which makes them a little bit healthier, minus all the yummy stuff that goes in them! haha! These are easy and yummy, definitely try them!

Fluffy Stuffed New Potatoes
slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman Cooks

3-4 medium/large red potatoes
2 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a combo of cheddar and Colby/Monterrey)
1 TBSP green onions/chives chopped
olive oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and dry potatoes. Drizzle olive oil on potatoes and massage into potatoes. Sprinkle kosher salt on the outside of potatoes. Place in preheated oven and bake 30 minutes, or until cooked through. You'll know they are cooked when a fork is easily inserted and removed. I turned mine over half way through so as not to burn on one side. Set aside and let cool for 15 minutes while you prepare the filling.

Place cream cheese, sour cream, shredded cheese, and green onions in a bowl. Now, after letting the potatoes sit for 15 minutes, slice each of them down the middle and scrape the insides of the potato out, leaving a small rim of potato inside the skin. Dump the potato into the mixing bowl of the filling. Now, using a potato masher, mash away until the filling is all mixed together. Salt and Pepper to your taste. I actually didn't add and Salt and Pepper at this point. I salted and peppered before I placed them back in the oven.

Now fill each of the potato shells with the filling. I used a small cookie scoop. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Alton Brown's French Toast

I mentioned in my french bread recipe that french toast is better with french bread. So, I searched and found this yummy recipe from the Food Network!! It's not exactly good for you with the half and half, but it was very tasty and it's not like we eat it everyday!! I hope you like it, too!!

Alton Brown's French Toast

1 cup half and half
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 (1/2-inch) slices french bread
4 tablespoons butter

In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. Pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a cookie sheet, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Remove from pan and place on rack in oven (I used another cookie sheet with a cooling rack) for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

We had leftovers, so I just put them in a Ziploc and put them in the fridge. The next morning I warmed them up in a 350 degree oven and they tasted great!

Glazed Carrots

This recipe came from a Betty Crocker cookbook I have, the Heart Health edition.

Glazed Carrots

1.5 lbs carrots, cut into julienne strips
1/3 c packed brown sugar
2 T butter
1/2 t salt
1/2 t grated orange peel (I didn't have any oranges and the carrots were still yummy!)

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat 1 inch water to boiling. Add carrots. Heat to boiling: reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 6 to 9 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and reserve.

In 12-inch skillet, cook remaining ingredients over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly.

Stir in carrots. Cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until carrots are glazed and hot.

French Bread and Cheesy Garlic Bread

I always love the challenge of making bread and I recently discovered that really good french toast is made with french bread. So, we'll start with the bread! The recipe recommends using a standing mixer, which I have, but I bet you could do this by hand, too. The best part is that the bread only rises for 30 minutes, so this could be made last minute!

French Bread (also from My Kitchen Cafe')

2 ¼ c. warm water
2 T. sugar
1 Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
5 ½ -6 cups flour-stirred before measured (I think I ended up using 7. My dough was too sticky for just 6 cups)

Dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water. Let this proof—or sit for a few minutes until it bubbles. Then add salt, oil and 3 cups of flour and beat well. Add in 2 1/2 -3 more cups of flour. The dough should clean off the sides of the bowl and not be too stick – but be careful not to add too much flour. Knead for a few minutes.

Leave the dough in the mixer to rest for 10 minutes and then stir it down (turn on your mixer for 10 seconds) and then allow to rest another 10 minutes. Repeat for a total of 5 times. Then turn dough onto a floured surface and divide into two equal parts. Roll each part into a 9×13 rectangle. Roll dough up, starting from long edge of loaf to seal. Arrange seam side down on large baking sheet that’s been sprinkled with corn meal, allowing room for both loaves. Repeat with second part of dough. With a sharp knife, cut 3 gashes at an angle on the top of each. Cover lightly; allow to rise 30 minutes. Brush entire surface with egg wash (one egg beaten slightly with 1 Tbsp of water). If desired, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

Cheesy Garlic Bread (Yet another from My Kitchen Cafe')

When we had leftovers tonight, I made the rest of the french bread into cheesy garlic bread. It was so tasty, John ate about 6 slices!! No more leftovers!!

5 garlic cloves, finely minced (click here for a tutorial on working with fresh garlic)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 18-20-inch baguette or loaf of french bread, sliced in half horizontally
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I took the recipes recommendation and used mozzarella and Parmesan)

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400.

In a small nonstick skillet, cook the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the butter and water over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is straw colored, 7-10 minutes. It is important to keep the heat low or the garlic will burn and turn bitter. The garlic should be lightly browned but not burned!

In a small bowl, place the remaining 7 tablespoons softened butter and the salt and pepper. Mix in the hot garlic mixture and stir to combine. Using a rubber spatula, spread the butter mixture on the cut sides of bread. Sandwich the bread back together and wrap the loaf in foil. Place the wrapped loaf on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and turn the oven to the broil setting.

Sprinkle the bread with the shredded cheese. Broil until cheese has melted and bread is crisp, 1-2 minutes. Slice, serve and enjoy!

Glazed Mini Meatloaves

So, its been awhile since I've posted, but this week I made a meal that was fabulous! So, I wanted to share three recipes with everyone starting with these meatloaves! I got the recipe from My Kitchen Cafe'. They were quite delicious!!

Glazed Mini Meatloaves


17-20 saltine crackers, crushed fine (about 2/3 cup)
1/4 cup whole milk (I used skim)
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground meat (I used ground chuck)
2 teaspoons oil (I used canola oil)

1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons cider vinegar

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Stir cracker crumbs, milk, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, egg, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl. Add ground meat and combine until uniform. Shape mixture into oval loaves.

Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is rippling. Add meatloaves (without letting them touch sides) and brown well on one side, 3-5 minutes. Carefully flip loaves over and tidy up edges using a spatula, if needed. Brown on this side for another 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix glaze ingredients together until smooth. Transfer mini meatloaves to a foil-lined (I used parchment paper) baking pan and spoon the glaze over the top of each meatloaf. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

I served them with homemade french bread, mashed potatoes and glazed carrots. A plus is that these warmed-up really well for left-overs two days later!!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Easy White Pizza

Recipe from The Food Network

Garlic-flavored olive oil
1 (1-pound) ball frozen pizza dough, thawed and at room temperature
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves, plus more for garnish
Special equipment: 14-inch round pizza pan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third of the oven.

Brush the pizza pan with oil. On a work surface, using your hands, press the pizza dough into a large flat disk and transfer it to the greased pan. Using your fingers, press the dough out until it has stretched to the perimeter of the pan. Create a dough "lip" around the outer edges of the pan. Brush the entire surface of the dough lightly with garlic oil and pierce the bottom of the crust all over with a fork, to prevent bubbling.

Evenly spread the mozzarella over the crust. Using 2 spoons, dollop teaspoon-sized mounds of ricotta evenly over the mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and evenly sprinkle the chopped oregano over the top.

Bake in the lower third of the oven until the crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly and browning on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes before garnishing with additional oregano and slicing into 8 pieces.

Cook's Note: Try buying fresh pizza dough from your local pizzeria; just be sure to let it sit out at room temperature for a few minutes, as warmer dough is easier to work with.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Caramel Bars

These look super yummy.
From My Kitchen Cafe
*Makes 9X13-inch pan of bars

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup melted butter

14 ounce bag of caramels
1/2 cup whipping cream or milk
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Mix the first six ingredients together and sprinkle half on the bottom of a 9X13-inch baking pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, melt the caramels and whipping cream or milk in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave at 50% power, stirring often, until the mixture is smooth. When the bars have been removed from the oven, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crust and pour the melted caramel over the top. Sprinkle the rest of the crust over the top and bake in the oven for an additional 10-12 minutes, until the caramel is bubbling and edges are lightly browned. Cool the bars completely before serving so they can set up properly.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

3 cooked and shredded chicken breasts
1 - 10 oz can cream of mushroom soup
4 cups shredded cheese of your choice
1 - 3.5 oz can chopped green chilies
15-20 tortillas - corn or flour - your choice
2 cans enchilada sauce

Combine first four things. Spoon mixture into tortillas and roll. Place in greased baking dish so that the fold is to the bottom. Pour enchilada sauce over them all and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mary's Spaghetti Sauce

For years I have been saying that I need to make my mom's spaghetti sauce. After she died, I because the proud owner of all her recipes. After 15 years, I can finally say that I have made her spaghetti sauce. My friend, Julie and I, made this sauce for our freezer cooking day. (More on that soon.) It is SUPER easy and is SO much better than jarred sauce! This recipe made enough for our family to have five dinners and extra for lunches.

2 lbs ground chuck
4 large (32 oz) tomato sauce
1 large (32 oz) tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Brown mean and onion. Add all other ingredients. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours partially covered. Stir often. **I simmered mine for 2 hours and it was superb! Serves 15-18 adults (depending on how much sauce you like on your spaghetti.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dirty Rice

I usually use Zatarain's boxed mix for dirty rice when I'm making it. But, I came across a recipe that looked really simple on Southern Plate, and thought I'd give it a try. It was so simple and tasted very similar to the Zatarain's boxed stuff I usually use. Best of all, my kiddos liked it!

Dirty Rice
slightly adapted from Southern Plate

3-4 Cups cooked rice (I used brown)
1 pound ground turkey, beef, or sausage (I used turkey)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Creole Seasoning (I use Tony Chachere’s), or less if too spicy
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 Bell Pepper, chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped or minced garlic
4 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley (or 2 Tablespoons dried)

In large skillet over medium heat, place celery, bell pepper, garlic, onion, parsley, and meat. (My meat was already cooked, so I cooked the vegetables and garlic and one tbsp butter in the skillet and then added my ground turkey.) Break up meat and cook all, stirring regularly, until meat is fully cooked and vegetables are tender. Add Creole seasoning, stir. Stir in rice and continue cooking over medium heat until rice is heated through, stirring well the whole time.

Curry Chicken and Broccoli Cheese Casserole

While at my mom's house last week, she prepared this yummy casserole. Of course I got the recipe. Her original recipe calls for one can of chicken. I used my own cooked chicken and tripled the amount of chicken. The curry in the dish isn't overpowering at all, so don't let that turn you away. I may actually double the sauce recipe next time since I increased the amount of chicken, but making it as directed below turned out really well too. Just another twist on the classic chicken casserole!
Chicken Curry and Broccoli Casserole
slightly adapted from my mommy

1 1/2-2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
4 cups broccoli, frozen (chopped or florets)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 can cream of chicken soup (or click here to make your own)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder
1- 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/3 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Layer broccoli in bottom of baking dish. Layer cooked chicken on top of broccoli.

In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, soup, lemon juice, and curry. Spread this evenly on top of the chicken and broccoli layers.

Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of creamy mixture, and then sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Cover with tin foil and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Because I was short on time, I baked mine for 30 minutes in a 425 degree oven. It turned out well, but I think the cheese would have melted better if I had done it longer in a cooler oven.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am one of those girls who after her kiddos go to bed, bakes 2 Nestle Tollhouse Ultimates Chocolate Chip Lovers cookies for herself and then pours a big glass of milk and sits and enjoys each and every bite. Sometimes I make 3 and give my hubby one. No kidding, I make them every night, until recently. Have any of you noticed that Nestle Tollhouse cookie dough is scarce these days? I have searched every store around here and can't find my beloved Nestle Tollhouse Ultimates Chocolate Chip Lovers cookie dough anywhere! I've actually been quite distressed over this. So, this week, I decided to actually try the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bags and see if it at all compared to my favorite cookie dough. I googled to see if there were any suggestions to change and found a couple, and made a couple of my own and came up with the recipe below. They tasted almost exactly the same as my favorite refrigerated cookie dough! One big problem though, I like to eat them warm, so would these babies freeze and then bake up just as good. Yes! I have two dozen frozen cookie balls of dough in my freezer and they bake just perfectly! At the bottom I'll have cooking instructions for the frozen cookies.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening (yes I know, yuck, but it makes these great!)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup Nestle's Tollhouse semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup Nestle's Tollhouse milk chocolate morsels
1/2 cup Nestle's Tollhouse Semisweet chocolate chunks, divided (this is important, these chunks are the best thing about these cookies!)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and mix. Beat the butter, shortening, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until creamy.

Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter-eggs-and-sugar mixture and mix thoroughly.

Add the chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of the chocolate chunks and mix well.

Drop rounded tablespoons of the cookie dough onto an ungreased baking sheet, leaving a few inches between the drops. I used a cookie scoop, that made about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch balls. Press two chocolate chunks into the top of each ball.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, just until the edges are turning brown and the middle isn't fully set, and let cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

*Freezing Instructions- Refrigerate dough for 10-15 minutes to help the dough harden up a little. Scoop out small balls, rolling them with your hands into little balls and place them on wax or parchment paper in a Tupperware or air tight freezer safe container. Press 2 chocolate chunks into the top of each ball. Separate layers with another piece of wax or parchment paper, seal tightly and place in freezer. I would say they would probably be good for 3-4 months, but they won't last that long at my house! When ready to bake them, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake, frozen, for 11 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool, and serve with a tall glass of milk!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Banana-Cinnamon Waffles

Suzanne and I made these during our Freezer Cooking session. I only have 3 left in my freezer so I made up another batch tonight. I think it's safe to say that we really enjoy these around my house. :) The recipe is adapted from Cooking Light and I have made it with all milk and 1/2 milk, 1/2 buttermilk. I think I like it even better with buttermilk in it. To freeze, just let cool and put in freezer bag. Pop in toaster while frozen and enjoy!

Banana-Cinnamon Waffles (Makes 10-12 regular sized waffles)

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk (or buttermilk)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large ripe banana, mashed
Cooking spray

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, flaxseed, and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Combine milk, butter, and eggs, stirring with a whisk; add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring until blended. Fold in mashed banana.

Preheat a waffle iron. Coat iron with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per 4-inch waffle onto hot waffle iron, spreading batter to edges. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until steaming stops; repeat procedure with remaining batter.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Printable Menu Planning Sheets

Since this is a site devoted to helpings Moms feed their families...I thought a menu planner might be helpful. I am a planner by nature and love to see on the fridge what we are eating for the week. I have no idea if my husband even reads it but I know it's there. :) Here is a link with several styles of planners, including some for all 3 meals plus snacks...and they are FREE! I usually plan one week of meals out at a time but have started keeping a monthly menu journal on my computer. I change my mind a lot (A LOT!) so it doesn't do me a whole lot of good to plan too far in advance. It may work for you and be one less thing you have to think about. Another benefit to menu planning is it saves on your budget. You can really utilize what's in your pantry and shop sales when you have a plan in place. Blessings!

Menu Planners

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Classic Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Got this from My Kitchen Cafe. I liked them.

Classic Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 3/4 cups oatmeal
2 cups chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Add Baking soda, powder, and salt and mix. Add flour, oatmeal and chocolate chips. Mix until combined. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

From My Kitchen Cafe (


I tried this new recipe for a pizza off of My Kitchen Cafe. The crust tasted a little like Stefano's with the whole wheat flour in it. I liked it. The thing is you have to kneed it a while unless you have a mixer. But I thought it was worth it especially since you make the crust the night before. I am going to put it in quotes as it is Melanie's recipe.

"My Favorite Pizza Dough

*Makes 2 12-inch pizzas or 1 large 16 to 18-inch pizza (we do two pizzas as the crust is thin)

1 1/4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Make the dough the night before or early the morning on the day you want to make the pizza. In a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), mix the water, yeast, sugar, honey and oil. (If using active dry yeast, increase the amount of yeast to 2 3/4 teaspoons and proof the yeast in the water until foamy before mixing in the sugar, honey and oil.) Then mix in 1 cup flour and the salt. Continue mixing in all the remaining flour until you get a nice, soft dough. Knead until dough is soft and smooth, about 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes with a stand mixer.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl and cover tightly (with a lid or plastic wrap). Place the dough in the refrigerator to slowly rise until three hours before baking. Three hours before baking, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, keeping it lightly covered.

45-60 minutes before baking, move the rack to the lowest position in the oven, place the pizza stone on it and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Don't be nervous about a hot oven! I used to be scared to death to cook anything above 400 degrees but I promise 500 degrees is the only way to go when cooking pizza. If your oven is a bit sketchy at that temperature, bake at 475 degrees. Also, I think a pizza stone makes all the difference in good versus great pizza.

Here's a few different methods for making great pizza:

Pizza Paddle/Peel: I have a wooden pizza paddle, like this, which I sprinkle with cornmeal and place the pizza dough on. I layer my toppings on the dough and slide the dough quickly onto the hot pizza stone. After about 8 or 9 minutes, the pizza is baked to perfection and I slide it onto a cutting board to slice and eat.

Alternative Pizza Paddle/Peel: If you don't have a pizza paddle, you can use the underside of a baking sheet (I use an 11X17 size) or a large cutting board as a makeshift pizza paddle. Cover it lightly with cornmeal, flour or parchment paper, make your pizza on the floured baking sheet or cutting board and gently slide the pizza off of the makeshift paddle onto the baking stone when ready to bake (if using parchment paper, you can let the parchment paper slide onto the baking stone with the pizza). Bake for 8-9 minutes until the crust is nicely browned. Retrieve the pizza with a pair of tongs or a spatula and slide the baked pizza quickly onto a waiting cooling rack.

Rimmed Baking Sheet: If you currently bake pizzas using cornmeal on a pizza paddle, you'll know how messy it can be - cornmeal everywhere. In fact, right now, my oven is in serious need of a good vacuuming. So, ofttimes, I'll still preheat my baking stone like normal and instead of using my wooden pizza paddle, I stretch the dough into an irregular shape on a lightly greased rimmed baking sheet (I don't worry about pressing it into the corners to give it a rustic look), add the toppings, and slide the entire baking sheet on the pizza stone to bake. Bake the pizza for 9-10 minutes until the crust is nicely browned. This method still browns the crust nicely - and while you don't get the extremely authentic crispy pizza crust, it is still mighty delicious and I can make more pizza at once rather than sliding them one at a time onto the baking stone.

The Best Pizza Sauce

*Makes enough for 2 16-18 inch pizzas

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic salt (Note from Laura: I thought the sauce was a bit too salty so I use 1 tsp garlic powder OR 1/2 tsp garlic salt)
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency. All the seasonings can be modified depending on taste - add what you like!

Pizza Sauce Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe
Pizza Dough Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Emily at Savory Seasonings"

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

I got this recipe from My Kitchen Cafe. I really liked it. I think the cilantro with black beans and a little lime juice made it taste real good.

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

*Makes 6 wraps*

1 cup cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 red or green pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 cups shredded cheese (i.e. a combination of monterey jack and sharp cheddar)
Sour cream (optional)

6 burrito-sized flour tortillas

Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Add remaining ingredients except for cheese and sour cream. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange chicken and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. (Optional: You can dot the cheese with about 1-2 tablespoons of reduced fat sour cream before arranging chicken and rice mixture down the center - it makes it a bit more creamy.) Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open. Spray the tortillas all over with cooking spray.

Heat a large non-stick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange 2 wraps, seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken

I received this recipe as a newlywed and we have enjoyed it many times through the years. I have recently tweaked it to make it a little healthier....I think we like it even better!

Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken

4-6 chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 10.5 oz can cream of chicken or mushroom soup (or homemade)
2 Tbsp dry Italian dressing mix
1/4 c minced onions
2 Tbsp butter, melted (or just cut it up and throw in, it will melt)
salt and pepper to taste
1 8oz package 1/3 less fat cream cheese, broken into cubes

Place chicken in slow cooker. Pour all ingredients over chicken and top with cubes of cream cheese. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. When finished, stir broth to mix up melted cream makes it really creamy! Serve over noodles, rice or potatoes...and enjoy!

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

This recipe comes from My Kitchen Cafe.*Makes an 8X8-inch pan

1 cup sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Whisk ½ cup sugar with ¼ cup cocoa powder and set aside.

Whisk the flour, remaining ½ cup sugar, remaining ¼ cup cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk milk, butter, egg yolk, and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips (the batter will be stiff).

Using a rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared pan and spread into corners. Sprinkle reserved cocoa and sugar mixture evenly over the top. Gently pour boiling water over cocoa. Do not stir.

Bake until the top of the cake is cracked, sauce is bubbling and a toothpick inserted into cakey area comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 22-24 minutes. Cool on rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.