Google Amy's Cooking Adventures: October 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spaghetti Squash

I am not sure about you, but I have been hearing the praises of spaghetti squash for some time now.  I hear how it is so versatile and how it is so superly fanstical that you can trick your children into thinking it is noodles and they will eat squash by the bucketful without even realizing it! 

While I was skeptical, I was still curious enough to try the spaghetti squash.  So, I went and picked out a nice pretty one from the store and scoured the internet for the right recipe, ready to trick my family into thinking squash was noodles.  They will never know, thought I!  Well, right away my husband spied the thing and the following conversation occurred:

Him: What the heck is that?

Me: It’s a spaghetti squash

Him: Okaaaaay

Me: You can trick the kids into thinking it’s noodles but really it’s squash, so I’m trying it.

Him: (looks at me with an expression that clearly says, “she’s finally lost it—oh my”) Interesting.

So I admit, at this point I was a little nervous, but I knew my husband would give me the benefit of the doubt and try it. 

So the next day, I roasted my squash and seasoned it up all nice. And I have to say, it was quite delicious (and from what I hear, only 25 calories for a ½ cup serving—woo hoo!) and my husband and I both kept going back for more.  The little guy: not fooled at all.  I gave him some and told him it was noodles.  He looked at me like, “yeah right, mom” and did a wonderful job of ignoring those so called noodles for the rest of the meal

So, while not successful in tricking my son into eating noodle squash, it was quite enjoyable for the adults in the crowd.  I highly recommend making yourself some spaghetti squash, just don’t expect miracles.

Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 cloves or 1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp fresh basil, coarsely chopped
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Slice spaghetti squash in half the long way.  Scoop out the seeds and strings.

Place the halves, cut side down, on a baking dish.  Add 1/8 to ¼ inch of water in the bottom of the baking dish.  Carefully place in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until the skin gives easily under pressure and the inside is tender.

Let squash cool for 10-15 minutes or until cool enough to handle.  Using a fork, scrape out squash flesh little by little.  It will naturally separate into noodle-like strands.  Reserve 1 shell for serving.

Next, heat olive oil in a skillet.  Sauté tomatoes, and garlic for 3-5 minutes.  Stir in basil, sauté for 1 additional minute.  Remove from heat.

Toss tomato mixture with squash strands.  Spoon into remaining shell for serving and top with cheese.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6


Friday, October 29, 2010

Witch Hats

With Halloween quickly approaching, I wanted a fun but easy dessert that the whole family could enjoy.  With only three ingredients, these little witch hats were the way to go.  And really, who can say no to a Hershey Kiss and a Fudge Stripe cookie?  Yum and easy.  Happy Halloween!
Witch Hats

1 package of Keebler Fudge Stripe cookies
1 small package of Hershey Kisses
Decorator Icing*

Flip Fudge Stripe Cookies to the bottom.  Pipe a dollop of colored icing in the center.  Top with an unwrapped Hershey kiss.  Pipe a band and bow on each cookie.

*You can buy pre-made decorator icing at the grocery store or I used ¼ a batch of decorator icing found on this post and tinted it purple.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin-Nutella Swirl Bread

When I saw this recipe at Real Mom Kitchen, I knew it was a must try.  I have never used Nutella before, but have always been looking for an excuse to buy some.  This bread is delicious, but quite spicy in my opinion.  Next time I make this, I think I will use a bit less spice.  Though I have to say, the spices blend nicely with the nutty, chocolaty flavor of the Nutella.  But, despite the spiciness, my husband and son both loved it as a nice afternoon treat.

When I made the bread, I decided to cut down the sugar from 1 ½ cups of sugar to 1 1/8, and feel that it could even stand to be cut by another 1/8 cup.  I can’t imagine how sweet the original recipe must be!  I also added some whole wheat flour and wheat germ in place of half of the all purpose flour, just to give it an extra nutritional boost.  I ended up using an additional ¼ cup of whole wheat flour because my homemade pumpkin puree was a bit watery and I didn’t want my bread to come out dense or uncooked in the center.

Pumpkin-Nutella Swirl Bread

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour (I needed an extra ¼ cup)
1/8 cup wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tbsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp nutmeg
1 1/8 cups sugar
½ cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 tbsp Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, water, pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth and combined.

Slowly stir in the flour mixture.  Mix until ingredients are combined.

Pour batter into prepared load pans, making sure the batter is evenly divided.  Drop 4 heaping tablespoons of Nutella onto each loaf.  Stir Nutella into the pumpkin batter with a knife.  Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove loaf pans to a wire rack.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully remove loaves from pans.  Cool completely before slicing.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

I found this recipe on Sweet Life Kitchen.  It looked, delicious, easy and a little different than your traditional beef taco, so I gave it a try and it was great!  There are only a few ingredients, so it came together very quickly.   Plus, I got to ignore it for the next 6 hours—that’s my kind of cooking!  I modified the recipe slightly, using tomatoes with chilies and using my own seasoning.

We got 2 meals out of this chicken mixture (figure about 1 chicken breast per person).  For the second meal, I put the chicken in tortillas, dumped some Colby-jack cheese on top, folded and half and cooked the on the Foreman grill to make some easy chicken quesadillas! 

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

15 oz low sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp minced garlic (or ½ tsp garlic powder)
½ tsp onion powder
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes with chilies, with liquid
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Pour chicken broth in a medium sized bowl.  Whisk in chili powder, cumin, garlic, and onion powder.

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.

Pour diced tomatoes into the slow cooker.  Lay chicken breasts on top of the tomatoes and pour the broth mixture over top.

Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.

Remove chicken and tomatoes from the slow cooker.  Use 2 forks to shred the chicken.  Add about ¼ cup of the liquid from the slow cooker and stir.

Put chicken into tortillas and top with spinach (or lettuce), avocados, and cheese.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Brownie Bites with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling

I saw these cute little brownie bites over at Multiply Delicious.  They looked so fun and festive, not to mention delicious, so I decided to give them a try.  Instead of making brownies from scratch, I used a box of brownie mix, baked in a 9 x 13 inch pan.

These make a very pretty little dessert to add to your dessert tray, but are incredibly time consuming.  First, it takes a lot of time to cut out all of the little brownie circles, especially since the brownies stick to the cookie cutter.  Multiply Delicious suggests dipping the cutter in powdered sugar to prevent sticking, but I just ended up with sticky brownies with white globs of sugar when I did this.  So, I ended up rinsing my cookie cutter several times during the process.  The next time consuming bit was slicing each cut out in half.  There was the same stickiness problem as before, plus if I wasn’t careful, the brownies would fall apart.  This could be because I used box mix instead of making the brownies from scratch.

If I were to make these again, I think I would save some time and energy by just frosting the whole pan of brownies with the pumpkin cream cheese mixture.  That way, I still get the nice pumpkin/chocolate combination without all the work.  Not as pretty, but still yummy!

Brownie Bites with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling

1 box of brownie mix
            Ingredients to make brownies as indicated on box (water, oil, eggs)

4 ounces Neufchatel cheese, room temperature
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup solid pack pumpkin puree
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Dash of ground ginger
Dash of cloves


Bake brownies in a 9 x 13 inch pan, according to package directions.  Cool completely.


In a mixer, cream butter until smooth.  Once butter is smooth, add creams cheese and continue to whip until smooth.

Gradually add confectioner’s sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Add the pumpkin and spices, whip until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary.


Transfer filling to a pastry bag with a snipped end or a large decorating tip.  Note: if you do not have pastry bags, you can use a heavy duty zip lock bag with one corner snipped.

Cut cooled brownies into rounds using a small 1 inch round cookie or biscuit cutter.  Cut each round in half. 

Pipe a large dollop of filling onto the bottom half of each circle.  Place the tops back on, pressing down gently so the filling spreads evenly to the sides.

Place brownie bites to an airtight container, separating layers with waxed paper.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Store in refrigerator up to 5 days.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

It was another pizza night in our house and I wanted to take make something a little different.  By swapping out tomato sauce for BBQ sauce and using chicken for the meat, I got a fresh twist on traditional pizza.  The spinach added some mild flavor and a nice nutritional punch.  By using the premade crust and the cooked chicken strips, this meal was done and on the table in less than 30 minutes!  It wasn’t entirely kid friendly, but by keeping some of this chicken aside, I could include my son in the meal too.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 premade 100% whole wheat pizza crust
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
4 tbsp barbeque sauce, divided
½ cup fresh spinach
3 tbsp Real Bacon Bits
1 ½ cup mozzarella cheese
1 (6 oz) package of pre cooked chicken strips

Preheat oven to temperature indicated on pizza crust.

Combine garlic and olive oil in a microwave safe dish.  Microwave for 30 seconds.  Brush olive oil mixture over the whole crust.

Next, brush 2 tbsp BBQ sauce over the crust.  Top with bacon bits and spinach.  Cover with a layer of cheese.

Coat chicken strips with the remaining 2 tbsp of BBQ sauce.  Sprinkle chicken strips on top of the cheese layer.  Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Taco Meat

One of the reasons I started this blog was to stretch myself in my cooking abilities, trying new recipes or foods, or just trying to add variety to our diets.  Tacos are one of those things I just didn’t make, mostly because I used to associate taco meat with the “meat paste” they use as some fast food restaurants.  Then I remembered this recipe that I got years ago when I took Foods class in high school.  This is a yummy recipe for taco meat that is just as easy as dumping a packet of seasoning onto the browning meat, but without the saltiness that comes from those packets.  It is done quickly and is a great meal for a weekday night or when you are on the go!

Again, this is a very versatile recipe that can be used as tacos, taco salad, burritos, or super nachos with your favorite toppings.  As you can see from the photo, I made mine into a taco salad with lettuce, cheese, avocado, salsa, crushed tortilla chips, and the taco meat.  Delicious!

Taco Meat

1 lb ground beef
½ cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup tomato sauce

Brown meat with onion and garlic.  Cook until meat is browned and onion is tender.

Add tomato sauce and spices. Simmer approximately 15 minutes.  Keep hot until ready to serve.

Serve with your favorite toppings as tacos, super nachos, or taco salad.


Monday, October 18, 2010

"Texas Roadhouse" Sweet Yeast Rolls

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to Texas Roadhouse.  As always, I barely had any room for my main meal after gorging on the rolls.  As I stuffed my face, I began to wonder if I could make these at home.  The next day, my internet search began and I found this recipe all over the internet.  Supposedly, according to nearly all the sites, this recipe comes from someone who trains Texan Roadhouse employees to make the rolls.  It seems a little far fetched to me, but I decided to give it a whirl using the recipe on this site.

I made a couple small modifications to this recipe.  First, I cut it in half (I posted the original whole recipe) because I thought that 6 dozen rolls was a bit excessive.  I also apparently make very large rolls, because I got about one dozen from the half recipe. 

Also, the recipe indicated that the milk should first be “scalded” and then cooled to lukewarm.  I thought this to be difficult and unnecessary (I even called my Grandma, the baking queen in our family, about this and she agreed) and instead just warmed the milk in the microwave to a lukewarm temperature. 

Lastly, I brushed the rolls with salted melted butter right as they came out of the oven.  And I must say, though they weren’t as light and airy as Texas Roadhouse rolls, the sure tasted like them!  So I was able to stuff myself with deliciousness right at home and have leftovers!  Yum!

Texas Roadhouse” Sweet Yeast Rolls

1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
½ cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 cups milk, warmed
3 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup sugar
8 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs
2 tsp salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water with 1 tsp sugar.  Cover with a damp towel until foamy.  Warm milk in the microwave, about 90 seconds.

Add yeast, sugar and about half of the flour to the warmed milk.  Beat thoroughly.  Let stand about 5 minutes.

Add melted butter (cooled), eggs, and salt.  Beat well.  Add enough flour to form a soft dough,  Sprinkle a small amount of flour on the counter, turn our dough, and let rest.

Meanwhile, spray a large bowl with cooking spray.  Knead dough incorporating remaining flour (until dough is no longer sticky).  Continue kneading until smooth and satiny.  Move to greased bowl, turn dough to grease top.  Cover with a damp towel and like rise in a warm, dry place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down, turn onto a floured board.  Roll into a log for shaping.  Let rest for 10 minutes.

Cut dough log into rolls.  Place on greased baking sheets.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven, brush rolls with melted butter (I melted about 2 tbsp unsalted butter and added a dash of salt).  Serve immediately.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Easy Chicken Divan

On weekday nights when things get hectic, chicken divan is one of my go-to recipes.  It is quick, easy and the little guy likes it, because it is has rice.  I like sneaking the orange puree into this one for my son.  I also like using the broccoli/cauliflower mix for the same reason…maybe he will “accidentally” eat some cauliflower thinking is chicken (though usually it ends up just being wishful thinking!

This meal is done in about 30 minutes, only dirties one pan, and has a meat, a grain, and a vegetable.  Done!

Easy Chicken Divan

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 box Rice-a-Roni Creamy 4 Cheese Rice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 ¼ cups water
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups frozen broccoli/cauliflower mix
1/3 cup orange puree (optional)

In a large, non-stick skillet, cook chicken breasts about 2 minutes per side until lightly browned.  (This may take longer if you are like me and forget to thaw your chicken first).  Remove from skillet, set aside.

In the same skillet, add olive oil and rice mix, cook according to package instructions.  Add water and special seasonings, mix together.  Add garlic and chicken.  Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.

Add broccoli/cauliflower mix and orange puree.  Return to boiling (add a little more water if needed).  Cover and continue cooking until rice is tender and vegetables and chicken are cooked through.



Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chicken Nuggets

My 2 year old loves chicken nuggets (or chicken nunnets, as he would say), but I only like to give him fast food nuggets occasionally.  I am also not a huge fan of frozen nuggets, so I decided to try making my own.  This recipe is my Aunt’s Parmesan Chicken recipe with a few tricks added in from The Sneaky Chef (you know I love adding those extra veggies in!)

My little guy loved these and the spices added enough interest that they were enjoyed by my husband and me as well.  These are great plain or dipped in your favorite sauce.

Chicken Nuggets

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch chunks
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp wheat germ
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp paprika

If you wish, pound chicken into a uniform ½ inch thickness.  If you choose not to do this, it will affect the cooking time slightly.

Cut chicken into 2-inch chunks, set aside.  Place whole wheat flour in a medium sized bowl, set aside.

Beat eggs and orange puree together in a medium bowl, set aside.

Mix bread crumbs, wheat germ, parmesan cheese, basil, thyme, black pepper, and paprika together in a medium bowl, set aside.

Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Coat chicken pieces in whole wheat flour, shake off any excess. 

Next, dredge chicken through the egg mixture, evenly coating both sides.

Lastly, lay chicken in the bread crumb mixture and gently press; turn to coat the other side.  Arrange coated chicken pieces on the cookie sheet.  Repeat as necessary.

Place tray in preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.  Flip chicken nuggets and return to oven for another 10-12 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked.  Enjoy plan or with your favorite dipping sauce!



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Great Pumpkin Cookies

One of my favorite fall cookies from my childhood are Great Pumpkin Cookies.  My mom made them for many years when I was young, but stopped as my brothers and I grew older.  Once I started having my own children, I asked my mom for the recipe so I could pass the tradition down.  These cookies are fun because kids can help decorate by using raisins, chocolate chips, candy corns, or sprinkles to make jack-o-lantern faces!

I adjusted the recipe slightly, replacing one cup of the white flour for a cup of whole wheat flour.  This is a fun fall treat with more of that yummy pumpkin!

Great Pumpkin Cookies

1 cup Libby’s pumpkin
1 egg
1 cup margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (otherwise cookies will stick to the pan, I learned this the hard way).

Cream butter, sugar, and egg.

Add all other dry ingredients and mix well.

Use two teaspoons or a cookie scoop to drop cookie dough onto prepared cookie sheets.  To shape into pumpkins, add a little extra dough near the top for stems.

Bake 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting.

Decorator Frosting
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
3/8 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup water

Mix ingredients together, adding water slowly to desired consistency (careful, it gets really runny, really quickly).  Mix until fluffy, use food coloring to tint to desired colors.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Grilled Rosemary Pork Chops

This past summer, I decided to try growing my own fresh herbs on my patio.  I was quite successful and am hoping to keep them alive indoors now that the temperatures are starting drop (or they should be once this warm spell is over).  Once I realized my herbs were thriving, I went on a search for recipes that used them.

These pork chops ended up being one of my go-to recipes during grilling season.  They are very flavorful and enjoyed by all.  If you marinate a few extra, these are a great addition to a salad the next day!

Grilled Rosemary Pork Chops

½ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tbsp pre minced garlic
¼ tsp black pepper
4 pork chops, about 1 lb

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, rosemary, basil, garlic, and pepper.  Place pork chop in a gallon ziplock bag.  Pour marinade over pork chops.  Seal and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.  Turn occasionally.

Remove pork chops and grill over low heat until fully cooked.  Reserve marinade to brush on chops while cooking.



Sunday, October 10, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Burgers and How I Blog with 2 Young Children

One of my friends recently asked me how I manage to cook and blog while having two little ones.  I thought I would address the question here on the blog.  To start, I browse recipes and type my posts on my lap top while I nurse the baby.  This often requires some mad one-hand typing skills, but I am a crazy multi-tasker and get bored easily, so it works.  Then, when I cook, I either put him in the bouncy seat while the 2 year old plays or watches from a stool, or this…

Yep, more often than not I have the baby in my sling while I am cooking meals or baking.  It frees up my hands and makes a happy, sleepy baby J

So on to the recipe!

Here in the Midwest we’ve had a resurgence of summer in the midst of cool fall temperatures.  Since I don’t want to heat up the house with the oven, it’s back to the grill!

Usually when I make buffalo chicken breasts, we eat them dipped in blue cheese or ranch.  But, this time I wanted something different.  I had some store made guacamole in the refrigerator leftover from the baptism and thought that the cool flavors of the guacamole would complement the heat of the buffalo sauce.  I wanted to add a little smokiness with some bacon, but did not want to fry just 2 slices of bacon (I really hate stinking up the house with bacon), so I went to my old stand-by: bacon bits.  This makes for a quick, easy summertime (or fall) meal that tastes great and doesn’t heat up the house!

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

2 (3-4 oz) chicken breasts
2-4 tbsp Franks Hot Wings Buffalo Sauce
2 hamburger buns
4 tbsp guacamole
1 tbsp Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits
2 leaves of lettuce

Cook chicken on the grill at low heat.  Baste chicken with buffalo sauce continually during cooking.

Once chicken is fully cooked, place one chicken breast on each hamburger bun and top with lettuce.

Spread 2 tbsp guacamole on each hamburger bun.  Top with bacon bits.  Place on the bottom half.



Friday, October 8, 2010

Pizza Hut Pan Pizza

I found this little gem at Real Mom Kitchen ages ago.  My family loves pizza (who doesn’t?) and we seem to eat it in one form or another at least once a week.  When I saw this recipe for Pizza Hut pizza, I was giddy with joy.  Pan pizza without having to order it?  Yes please!  Of course, I couldn’t resist modifying the recipe to make a whole wheat crust, but I don’t think it takes away from the Pizza hut taste (feel free to use 4 cups all purpose flour if you want it to be more authentic). 

This makes three 9-inch pizzas.  I use two 9-inch cake pans, and one 9-inch glass pie plate.  The two different kinds of pans seem to bake up a little differently.  The best way I’ve found to accommodate for these differences is to place the metal pans on the top rack (fairly high) and the glass plate on the lower rack.  This ensures that the pizzas are evenly baked.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it makes 3 individual pizzas that you can customize.  I can make a cheese and pepperoni pizza for my son, and put onions (ick) on my husband’s pizza.  This pizza is quite filling and we usually have leftovers for the next day, of course I have been known to hog out and eat my whole pizza in one sitting…ugh!

Pizza Hut Pan Pizza

1 1/3 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 package active dry yeast (or 2 ½ tsp)
1 tbsp sugar
¼ cup non-fat dry milk
½ tsp salt
¼ cup ground flax seed
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 ¾ cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tbsp canola oil

9 oz canola oil (this is approximate.  I don’t measure, I just pour oil into the bottom on the pan and swirl it around until the pan is coated)

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp marjoram
½ tsp dry basil
½ tsp garlic salt

Combine and let sit for 1 hour while dough rises

3 cups mozzarella cheese
1 orange bell pepper
2 tbsp onion, chopped
Turkey pepperoni
6 oz can sliced mushrooms


Any of your favorites

Combine water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl.  Cover with a damp towel and let sit for 2-5 minutes, until foamy.

Pour into a large bowl.  Add salt, canola oil, dry milk, flax seed, whole wheat flour, and 1 cup all purpose flour.  Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating remaining flour until you have a smooth dough ball.

Divide dough into 3 balls.  Roll into 9-inch circles, place in oil coated cake pans.  Cover with a damp towel.  Let rise in a warm, draft free area for 1 ½ hours.  Note: the ideal temperature for raise bread is between 80 and 85 degrees.  If your house is too cool and your dough isn’t rising, begin preheat the oven when you start mixing the dough, then place your pans on top of the oven.  The heat from the oven will help the dough rise.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Spoon 1/3 of the sauce on each pizza and spread within 1 inch of the edge.  Place pepperoni on top of the sauce.  Cover with 1 cup of mozzarella.  Add additional toppings (I used orange pepper, mushrooms, and onions).

Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is browned.  Remove from pans, cut and enjoy!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

BBQ Chicken with Cornbread Topper

I was at the book store the other day, browsing the clearance shelf and came across an America’s Favorites cookbook, featuring all kinds of casseroles and comfort foods.  I was browsing through and found this recipe.  The cornbread is what really attracted me.  I didn’t grow up eating much cornbread, but on the few occasions I did, I really enjoyed it.  So, I decided to give this a whirl.  It turned out to be a real hit.  My husband ate it for lunch and took leftovers to work to eat at dinner.  Even this little guy ate some once we convinced him that the chicken had “BQ sauce” on it.  This dish came together pretty quickly, so it is great to have on hand when time gets tight.  From start to finish, this took me about an hour.  The time would be greatly reduced if you started with thawed chicken, instead of being lazy like me and throwing frozen chicken into the skillet!

BBQ Chicken with Cornbread Topper

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in ¾ inch cubes
1 can (15 oz) red beans, drained & rinsed
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup barbecue sauce
1 package (6.5 oz) cornbread mix plus ingredients to prepare mix

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook chicken in a non stick skillet until cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix together beans, tomato sauce, pepper, and barbecue sauce.

Once chicken is cooked through, reduce heat to low.  Stir in bean mixture.  Cover and let simmer about 5 minutes.

Prepare cornbread mix according to package instructions.

Pour chicken mixture into an 8-inch casserole dish.  Spoon cornbread batter evenly over chicken mixture.  Bake 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread layer comes out clean.

Recipe Adapted from America’s Favorites: Casseroles & One-Dish Meals


Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

I love anything with pumpkin in it, so last fall I tried pumpkin pancakes.  Imagine my shock when I took a bit and found them to be bland and boring.  How disappointing!  I almost didn’t try again this year, but I thought pumpkin pancakes deserved one more chance.  So, armed with a new recipe, a few modifications, and a lovely assistant, off to the kitchen I went.  And, Oh. My. Goodness.  I shudder to think about how empty my life would be if I had given up.  These were perhaps the greatest pancakes I have ever eaten.  Ever.  Really.

I based this recipe off the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes at Meal Makeover Moms.  I added some pumpkin pie spices because they are delicious.  Also, because I love chocolate, I doubled the amount of chocolate chips.  Though, as you can see from the photo below, my assistant decided that I went a little overboard on the chips and decided to take matters into his own hands.  Or maybe he just ran out of the chips I had given him on the side.  Either one.  Anyway, everyone loved the pancakes and I think I will be making these frequently.  I am already craving them again…Yum!

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp wheat germ
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
¼ cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cups lowfat milk
½ cup canned pure pumpkin (or homemade pumpkin puree)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, flaxseed, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and chocolate chips in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, pumpkin and vanilla until well blended.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Heat a large non stick electric skillet to medium-high heat.  Pour batter onto hot skillet, using a ¼ cup measuring cup if desired.  The batter is quite thick, so I spread it around a bit with a spoon to make the pancakes thinner and easier to cook.

Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the pancakes and the bottoms turn golden, about 3 minutes.  Flip and cook until golden, an additional 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot plain or with your favorite syrup.

Note: if you have leftovers, toast them in the toast for a minute--good as new!





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