Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mama Mia!

I wish I knew some Italian because these little pizzas are amazing!! I love pizza, but don't have it near as often since I've had a baby. We don't like to spend the money on delivery, and even the frozen pizzas (the good ones) are expensive! Before Logan was born, we made homemade pizza a lot. It was easy, inexpensive, and most of all...good!

I was watching a recorded episode of Rachel Ray and she made mini deep dish pizzas. They looked so good and easy I decided I had to make them for dinner. I changed them up a little and made them cheeseburger pizzas. They were so good and the great thing is, you can eat three and it is only the equivalent of 1 biscuit! I do have some hints to make them easier for you, so before you make them be sure to read all the way to the end of the recipe.

Bacon Cheeseburger Mini Deep Dish Pizzas
Source: Inspired by Rachel Ray, my additions are in italics

1 can refrigerated biscuits
1/2 lb. ground beef
6 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
tomato sauce
parmesan cheese
mozzarella cheese

Cut each biscuit into thirds and press into rounds. Press each round into a cup of a muffin tin that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cook according to the package's directions. Brown ground beef, drain fat, add onion and cook until tender. Add garlic and worcestershire sauce and cook an additional few minutes. Put cooked meat into a medium bowl and toss with crumbled bacon. Fill each mini crust with tomato sauce, about a spoon full in each cup. Not enough to make the crust soggy. Top with parmesan cheese and then fill with the toppings and top with mozzarella cheese. Place back in the oven just to melt the cheese.

My tips: My crusts puffed up instead of spreading around the cup, so about 3/4 through the cooking time, I took them out and used a spoon to mash them back into cup form. Then placed them back in the oven to finish cooking. Also, be sure to spray your pan with cooking spray and use a large spoon to remove the mini pizzas. They come out great!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Getting Creative

I picked up a snack while out shopping the other day called New York Style Focaccia Sticks. I thought they would be great, but they were a little hard and crunchy for my taste. I guess I'm just more of a chip person. I didn't want to just trash the bag, so I decided to smash them up and use them to bread chicken fingers. I am all about getting creative and turning something you don't like into something you do like. This way I wasn't wasting food or money. :) These sticks had a great flavor, after all, just not a good texture. I bought the Quattro Formaggio flavor, and turned them into Parmesan Chicken Tenders. And for those of you with weight loss New Year's aspirations, these are baked, not fried.

Parmesan Chicken Fingers
Source: Me

1 cup crushed New York Style Focaccia Sticks, Quattro Formaggio flavor
1/2 cup bred crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp italian herb seasoning blend
1/2 cup parmesan salad dressing (you could also use ranch)
1 tbsp chili paste
6 chicken tenders

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a cooling rack on top of a rimmed cookie sheet. Mix the salad dressing and chili paste in a medium sized bowl. Mix the other remaining ingredients (other than chicken) in another medium bowl. Dip the chicken in the dressing mix and then in the breading mix. Place the chicken strips on the cooling rack/cookie sheet. Using the cooling rack keeps the underside of the chicken fingers from being mushy. Bake for about 40 minutes or until browned outside and all the pink is gone from the chicken.

Stepping Out of the Box

Well, it is probably not out of the box for most people, but for me it definitely is. I saw a recipe in Rachel Ray's magazine and normally I would just keep going because it wasn't something I would normally make. But it looked good, and I've been trying to branch out and try new things. As you know, I don't really like vegetables. I am learning to like them in different dishes, as long as the pieces aren't big. ;) This dish required you to make a tomato bread salad. I'm not usually a big fan of tomatoes or bread salads. I am a big fan of steak though, which was the main ingredient. Plus RR's picture in the magazine made this dish look mouth watering. I'm not sure if my picture lives up to the original, but hopefully it gives you an idea of what my plate looked like. :) Overall, the consensus was that we liked the dish, but it doesn't rank on our favorites list.

Grilled Garlic Skirt Steak with Bread Salad
Source: Rachel Ray, my additions/changes in italics

3 cloves garlic, smashed (I pressed the garlic to get more flavor out of it)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Black Pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 large tomatoes, cored (I just used canned fire roasted tomatoes)
2 pounds skirt steak (I used some sandwich steak I got on sale at my local grocery)
2 kaiser rolls, split (I just used regular sandwich bread)
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped (I used dried basil because I like basil better and I didn't have any fresh)

Preheat grill to medium high. In a small bowl, stir together garlic, olive oil, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Brush tomatoes with some of the garlic oil. Grill, turning once, lightly charred, about 12 minutes, transfer to a plate. (I of course skipped this step because I used the canned tomatoes) Meanwhile brush the steak and bread with garlic oil. Grill the bread, turning occasionally. Grill the steak. Coarsely chop the rolls and tomatoes and toss in a medium bowl. Add the rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Slice the steak and top with bread salad.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Guess What I Tried??

Nope, these are not anemic, pale carrots. They are parsnips! Yep, I really tried a new vegetable. I saw Rachael Ray use them in a recipe and she described them as slightly spicy and a good alternative to potatoes. Since I LOVE potatoes, I thought I'd give the parsnip a try. I couldn't abandon my potatoes completely, so I did a combination of 1/2 potatoes and 1/2 parsnips. I decided to roast them since that seems to be the most common way to eat them.

My take on the parsnip is that it wasn't spicy AT ALL. It was actually sweet. I liked it ok, but it will not make my top 10 food list. In the picture below, it is hard to tell the difference between the potatoes and the parsnips. They look almost identical, but the taste is definitely different. Anyway, here is how I prepared them:

Roasted Parsnips and Potatoes

Source: Me

2 parsnips, peeled and cubed
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
olive oil
grill seasoning

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place the parsnips and potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the grill seasoning. Roast for about 40 minutes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner, With a Twist!

We used to have pizza night once a week, either ordered in or homemade. If you recall, we went through a grilled pizza kick. Man, those were good! Anyway, I decided to do a breakfast pizza. Taylor wasn't as enthused as I was with the prospect, but he did try it. He said he would rather stick to traditional pizza, but I thought it was a nice change of pace.

I also used one of my favorite seasonings EVER! Pilleterri's Bold & Spicy Seasoning. It is great on just about everything!!!

Breakfast Pizza
Source: Me

1 refrigerated pizza dough (we like pillsbury)
5 eggs, scrambled
5 sausage links, the heat and serve kind, defrosted and sliced into 1" pieces
cheddar cheese
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
chicken stock
Pilleterri's Bold & Spicy Seasoning

Roll out the pizza dough and bake for 1/2 the time indicated on the package. While it is baking, add the butter to a small sauce pan and let it melt over medium heat. Add the flour and cook a few minutes. Add milk until it creates a sauce. Yeah, I don't do measurements with the liquids. I just add until it looks right. Let it thicken over the heat and then use the chicken stock to thin it out a little. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When the half baked pizza crust comes out of the oven, use the gravy like pizza sauce and spread over the crust. Sprinkle with the pilleterri's seasoning. Add the eggs and sausage. Sprinkle with any cheese of your choosing, I used cheddar.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Apple Cobbler, Revisited

I don't usually post about a recipe more than once, but since it was one of my first posts ever, it lacked appropriate photos. ;) You can see the original post here.

My grandmother got a fruit basket for Christmas and she insisted that my mother take most of it, who then insisted that my sister and I take most of what she had. We don't eat much fresh fruit around our house...yes, I know, shame on us. But when I saw all those apples sitting there, apple cobbler just popped into my head. It's one of those dishes where you have all the ingredients in your pantry other than apples: the main one. It just seemed like destiny!

This is really such a simple recipe and it always turns out perfect. I love all the thick crust filled with juicy, cinnamony, apple goodness!

This is what it looks like before you put it in the oven:

Here is the finished product:

And ready for a bite:

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Few Of My Favorite Things

Happy New Year! I haven't had much chance to cook lately since we've been on the run with holiday madness, but I wanted to blog about some of my favorite Christmas gifts! Hopefully I'll be back soon with a new recipe.

My new digital camera! Taylor got me this Sony Cybershot T77 for Christmas. I am still learning all the cool features, but it does have a gourmet mode that I can't wait to try out. I guess I need to cook something worth blogging about! :)

An herb mincer. This was in my stocking and I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but I can't wait! I love the idea of quickly rolling over fresh herbs to mince them.

A Rachel Ray Moppine! I know some people can't stand RR, but I love her! This is such a great innovation; pot holders in the corners of the dish towel. Anyone who has ever picked up a large steaming pot of pasta to drain, knows those handles can get pretty hot! This was another stocking item. Santa was good to me this year!!!