Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wingless Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Typically Rachel Ray and her wacky combo recipes just down right annoy me but this one caught my eye since we are a house divided by our love for pizza and wings. This pizza makes a fun weekend dinner and we can skip waiting in line at CPK. Using leftover chicken speeds things up if you want to skip a step and you can adjust the heat based on your preference.

Wingless Buffalo Chicken Pizza

3/4 pound chicken breast cutlets or tenderloins
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 teaspoons grill seasoning such as McCormick Montreal Seasoning
1 pizza dough, store bought or from your favorite pizza place
Cornmeal or flour, to handle dough
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons Frank's hot sauce, medium to spicy heat
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, a few generous handfuls
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Preheat grill pan to high. Place chicken on a plate and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the chicken then season with grill seasoning. When grill is hot, add chicken and cook about 3 minutes on each side. Stretch dough to form pizza using cornmeal or flour to help you handle it. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter and stir in Worcestershire, hot sauce, and tomato sauce.

Remove the chicken from grill and thinly slice it. Add chicken to sauce and coat. Cover the pizza dough with the saucy Buffalo chicken, cheeses, and scallions. Bake 18minutes or until crisp

Thursday, February 26, 2009

White Fence Inn Eggs

This recipe comes from a lovely B&B, White Fence Inn, in Ohio that I stayed in a few years back with extended family. With Lent upon us, I'm always looking for Friday meat-free meals and this egg dish is super easy to prepare and is fab paired with a salad. I warn you that it's more like cheese pie than an egg dish but that's our little secret.

White Fence Inn Eggs

7 eggs
1 cup milk
½ tsp. salt
3 c. grated mild cheddar cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
2 cups cottage cheese
½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
4 tbls. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together eggs, flour and salt then add all cheeses. Pour into two 9-inch glass pie plates and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. I separate into two pie plates so I can easily put one away for another meal.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chicken Sausage Patties

I love to cook but hate, I repeat, hate cooking breakfast. I'm not a morning person and the thought of pots, pans, mess in the early hours...well, it's just not my cup of tea. However, I love eating leisurely and comforting weekend breakfasts. What's a gal to do? Make these yummy sausages ahead and then just reheat them with some (already made) pancakes or even a frozen waffle. The apple gives this recipe a sweet and unexpected twist.

Chicken Sausage Patties

1 tablespoon butter
1 green apple, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken breast
1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add apples and onions and season with a little salt, pepper and fennel seeds. Gently saute the mixture 5 minutes to soften and remove from heat to cool.

Heat a griddle pan or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Place chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, allspice, paprika and a healthy drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Add in the apples, onions and fennel and mix the sausage. Form 12 small patties. Cook patties 4 to 5 minutes on each side (until cooked through) and serve warm.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cheddar Corn Chowder

In one of my earlier posts I mentioned that I'm not a soup person. For those of you paying attention, this is my third soup recipe this month. Maybe cabin fever is starting to change me on a molecular level and I'm morphing into a soup lover after all. In any case, I've always made this soup (from Barefoot Contessa recipe) with frozen corn. I'm sure it would be sublime with fresh corn so I'll report back in the summer. Bottom line is that any recipe that starts with bacon has got to be good!

Cheddar Corn Chowder

8 ounces bacon, chopped (we love our bacon so I cook a little more)
1/4 cup good olive oil
6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 cups chicken stock
6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
2 cups half-and-half
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (I don't always use white chedddar)

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon but not so much bacon that it become "Bacon Soup" which is how Caroline likes it!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Naples Rice Salad

This cold rice salad recipe has made it’s way to just about all of my family and friends. The recipe came from a Naples cookbook and we made it while in Florida so hence the name. It's a fantastic salad to serve at brunch or lunch but be ready to share the recipe because it is addictive. I like to chop so making this salad is mildly therapeutic for me. Feel free to add chicken or shrimp for a complete meal.

Naples Rice Salad

½ cup. Craisins (can use a mixture of dried blueberries/cranberries)
1 bunch chopped scallions
1 red pepper – chopped
1 yellow pepper – chopped
½ tin (1 cup) honey-roasted cashews
1 package frozen baby peas- thawed
2 boxes Uncle Ben’s White & Wild Rice (with spice packet)

¼ cup honey
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 tsp. curry powder

Cook rice according to package directions. Allow to cool. Mix in next six items to rice. (Add nuts at the end otherwise they get too soft.) Mix last four ingredients to make dressing. Add to rice mixture. Get your fork ready!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stupid Easy Cake Cookies

From this recipe you will gather that I'm not a food snob. I will pull out frozen peas, canned tomatoes and box brownie mixes as much as the next gal. So proceed with no judgement. When my sister-in-law gave me the recipe for these cookies, my kids begged me to make right away. After having them at her house, Olivia said she could have easily polished off the entire plate. They were darn good but lately, I've been feeling too busy to bake. When I asked for the recipe, I said a little prayer that they would be easy and that I'd have everything on hand to make them. Prayers answered. I've made a couple batches of these already and they seem to work well no matter what cake mix you have on hand.

Stupid Easy Cake Cookies

I box cake mix (I've used a yellow and devil's food mix, both with success)
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Stop laughing there are no more ingredients!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together, taking care to break up dry mix to form stiff dough. Drop tablespoon-size balls on parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Creamy Orzo Pasta

This recipe comes from one of my favorite Food Network Chefs - Giada De Laurentiis. As a queen of Italian cooking, she knows her stuff and fills her cookbooks with several kid-pleasing pasta recipes. This is simple but my family goes crazy for it. My daughters who would rather eat pasta over potatoes any day and this is at the top of their list.

Creamy Orzo Pasta

1 pound orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, juices drained
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a heavy large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cream and peas. Add the orzo and toss to coat. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the Parmesan to the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Stir the pasta mixture until the sauce coats the pasta thickly, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to maintain a creamy consistency. Season the orzo with salt and pepper, and serve.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Curry Chicken with Cashews

My husband claims he doesn't like curry and I've often tried change his misguided mind with little success. However, this cult-like recipe has done the trick. Probably not something to tackle when you're short on time but sometimes it's nice to spend time creating special meals. The cashews add great flavor and heft to the sauce. Get out your favorite Bollywood soundtrack and get cooking!

Curry Chicken with Cashews

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces (boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a great choice)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup cashews (1/4 pound)
3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (can use coconut milk)

Heat butter in a 5- to 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderately low heat until foam subsides, then cook onions, garlic, and ginger, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder, salt, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring to coat, 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, including juice, and cilantro and bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Just before serving pulse cashews in a food processor until very finely ground, then add to curry along with yogurt and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring, until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve with cooked basmati or jasmine rice with chopped fresh cilantro.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Do Not Resist

I'll come out with my dirty little secret. I may be the only person on earth that does not love chicken. I just don't get the hype. So when my mother gave me this recipe, I politely filed it away and thought I'd never make it. Then came a night where I needed a quick meal for a visiting relative and gave into the pressure. I'm now a believer in the bird based on this recipe that makes a moist baked chicken that cannot be beat. Do not resist the bird.

Anita's Baked Vinegar Chicken

1 cup white vinegar
1 stick melted butter
1 tbls. dry mustard
1 tbls. sugar
1 tbls. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 cut up fryer chicken

Mix all ingredients and pour over chicken and bake at 450 degrees for 50 - 60 minutes. Yes, ladies and gentlemen - it is just that easy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Black Bean Soup

I'm a devotee of all things recommended by the folks at Real Simple. I keep waiting for them to knock on my door and give my life a makeover. But until then, I'll just make this easy peasy soup. My kids mix in an absurd amount of sour cream so I buy the fat-free stuff. I've also used jarred salsa (not fresh as recommended) and it turns out just fine.

Black Bean Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups fresh salsa
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 16-ounce can refried black beans (I've omitted this when I don't have it)
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)
dry sherry (optional)

Heat the oil in a saucepan or large pot over medium heat. Add the salsa and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Add the refried beans, black beans, and broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. For a smooth soup, use immersion blender to carefully puree mixture. Ladle into bowls. Top with some of the remaining salsa and the sour cream and cilantro (if using). The grown ups like to add a touch of dry sherry to the soup to finish it. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

THE Best Baked Pasta!

So we had a rare but welcomed warm February day today in Cleveland. I was tempted to toss burgers on the grill but had all the makings for this baked pasta recipe and decided to give it a whirl. Let's just say that after dinner, Chris stood up to proclaim that this was one of the BEST dishes I've ever made. I think he was just hungry from playing with the kids outside but I'll take my props when I can get them. The secret is in the pesto-laced sauce and the glorious cheeses so I look for them at inexpensive places like Trader Joe's. As you can see from the recipe, play around with the cheeses to suit your taste. I'm not typically a fan of smoked cheeses but it did add a nice flavor so don't be shy.

Sausage-Spinach Baked Pasta

1 lb. mild or hot Italian sausage
2-3 Tlbs. olive oil
1 onion - chopped
3 garlic cloves - minced
2 26oz. Pomi brand (in box) marinara sauce
6 Tbls. prepared pesto sauce
1 lb. penne pasta
8 oz. either smoked mozzarella or smoked Gouda - shredded (I used Gouda)
8 oz. Fontina - shredded
8 oz. either diced fresh mozzarella or 8 oz. ricotta (I used fresh mozzarella)
1 cup Parmesan
1 6oz. package of fresh spinach

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook sausage until browned and cooked through. Drain. Saute onions and garlic in oil in dutch oven or deep saucepan. Add marinara sauce and pesto to onions and garlic. Add sausage back into sauce and simmer on low for 15minutes. Cook pasta according to package. Lightly cover a 9 x 13 pan with sauce. Combine cooked pasta, smoked cheese, fresh mozzarella or ricotta and (uncooked)spinach. Pour into 9 x 13 and top with Parmesan cheese and any extra smoked or fresh mozzarella if desired. Bake for 20- 30 minutes until brown and bubbling. Enjoy!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Saucy Friday Night!

Across this great nation, Friday night spells pizza night. Legions of tired worker bees find it easy to order in their favorite pie, grab some beer and pop in a DVD or relax with friends. We are no exception but I've sworn off The Hut and bid farewell to Papa J. I'm making my own. I've resurrected an old recipe that I have almost committed to memory. As for the crust, I don't often make my own because there are so many places to pick up restaurant-quality dough. Local pizza places are a good source but I have luck at Trader Joe's and fresh dough made by my local Heinen's. Control your own destiny with the toppings. A hot oven is key so once you assemble your pizza (on a stone or cookie sheet) bake it fairly high and keep an eye on it. Thanks baby brother for this elementary school gem!

Doug's Pizza Sauce

1/2 chopped medium onion or one small onion
1 Tbls. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
3 Tbls. water

In small saucepan saute onion in olive oil over med-high heat then add garlic and saute just a minute or so until you smell the garlic. Lower the heat and add all other ingredients and simmer for about 15 minutes. Makes enough for one pizza so we double this recipe if making two pizzas.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A soup to warm the soul

So there are some people that claim they could eat soup everyday. My mother is one of those people but I am not. I guess slurping my meal doesn't hold the same appeal for me but this soup...this soup is fantastic with great flavor and is hearty enough to serve for company. You may want to double the recipe in this case. I use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken to speed things up and serve these in sourdough bread bowls for a festive and hearty meal.

Chipotle Chicken Chowder

1 7-oz. can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 Tbls. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. dried thyme
6 cloves garlic - crushed
6 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1½ lbs. boneless chicken breasts
2 medium red potatoes, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 can white or golden hominy, rinsed and drained
¼ cup whipping cream
1 cup chopped and seeded plum tomatoes
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ tsp. salt
8 lime wedges

Remove 1 chili and 1 tsp. adobo sauce from can; reserve remaining chilies and sauce for another use. Finely chop chili and set aside with sauce. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped chili, onion, and next six ingredients; cook seven minutes or until soft. Stir in broth, bring to a boil and add chicken, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until chicken is tender and cooked. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and when cool, shred chicken - cover and keep warm. Remove pan from heat, let stand 5 minutes. Carefully use emulsion hand blender to blend soup until smooth. Stir in potatoes and hominy. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes on medium heat. Stir in chicken and cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the reserved 1 tsp adobo sauce, tomatoes, cilantro and salt. Serve with lime wedges. Can also serve with tortilla strips, sour cream, cheese, etc.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spiced Popcorn

Spiced Party Popcorn
A sophiticated yet simple snack to put out with drinks. The younger kids might not dig it but sometimes you just have to eat like a grown up!

2 tablespoons wok oil or vegetable oil1 cup (un-popped) popcorn

1/2 stick butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground paprika
4 teaspoons salt (I used less)
4 teaspoons sugar

Put the oil into the biggest pan you have with a lid over high heat, add the popcorn and quickly put on the lid. Let the popcorn pop, shaking the pan every now and then to keep the kernels moving. You will hear it but don't be tempted to look, unless you want to get shot at, and once it has stopped popping - a couple of minutes or so - take it off the heat.

Melt the butter with the spices in another pan (or micro) and then pour it over the popcorn and put everything into a large paper bag/shopper. Shake, shake and shake the bag again to mix the popcorn and get it thoroughly coated in the spiced butter.

Arrange in several party bowls.

Recipe from my girl - Nigella Lawson

A pasta for all seasons!

Zucchini Pasta
This pasta recipe has been passed around so many times but it's great no matter the season and right now, I'm tired of the standard winter fare and am looking for inspiration to feel like summer will come again.

1 lb. dried bowtie pasta
4 med zucchini – shredded
4 Tbls. butter
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
1 c. parmesan cheese – grated or shredded
Dash of nutmeg
Salt/pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions and add zucchini to pasta water at last 1-2 minutes of pasta cooking time. Drain pasta/zucchini reserving ¼ c. pasta water. In large saucepan, melt butter and add yogurt, cheese, nutmeg, reserved pasta water and salt/pepper to gently warm. Toss sauce with pasta and enjoy!