Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bacon Corn Hash


I am a big breakfast person, as I am sure I have mentioned before. However; I usually lie on the sweet side of things. Every once in a while I want something savory, but not usually. A couple days ago Hunter requested a good breakfast and after much contemplation, this is what I decided on.

Another one of my breakfast habits is that I almost always need ketchup with any form of hashbrowns or eggs. As such, I pulled out the ketchup and took it with us to the table, but we didn't need it at all. It sat there untouched. The corn in this dish really takes it to a whole different level. It. Is. So. Good. Trust me on this one. You will not be disappointed.

Recipe:
Yield: 2-3 servings

1 1/2 cup corn kernels
4-6 slices of bacon
1 Potato
1 Jalapeno, diced
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Cube the potato and boil for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a medium skillet. Once the bacon is fully cooked, move to a plate with paper towels and absorb some of the grease. Dice the bacon. When the potatoes are done boiling, place in the skillet with the bacon grease and allow to cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes WITHOUT turning. Once allotted time has passed, flip the potatoes over and cook for a similar amount of time on the other side. Then add the corn, jalapeno, bacon, and spices. Cook until everything is heated through.

Source: adapted from The Novice Chef Blog

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

It's time for our first pizza recipe! While it isn't beautiful, it looks soooo much better than my first pathetic attempt they aren't even comparable. And this is definitely edible. Which is a score in my book.


Probably my favorites of the various types of pizza I have made to date is the Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza. I have even tried multiple variations of it and am fine tuning what I like the most and how much sauce/cheese we like, etc.


My favorite version (the one posted below) definitely includes jalapenos. I made it sans jalapenos a couple days ago and they were sorely missed. But, if you aren't a lover of heat, then feel free to leave them out. Moral of the story: feel free to experiment. In fact I encourage it - things are more exciting that way!

Recipe:

1/2 pizza dough recipe

1 Chicken breast
2-3 strips bacon
1/2 cup ranch dressing
2-3 jalapenos, diced (remove seeds according to how hot you want it)
1 tomato, diced
1 cup mozzarella (or pizza) cheese
1 cup Colby jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the stone inside and allow to be at 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Cook the bacon in a frying pan until done. Set aside and let cool. Once cooled, dice. Dice the chicken and cook in the same frying pan as the bacon with about 1 tbsp of the grease. Set aside.

Put 1-2 of the jalapenos in a food processor and process until finely minced. Add ranch dressing to food processor and pulse until combined.

When the oven is ready (not too soon - if assembled to early, it doesn't work as well), shape pizza dough into a circle, leaving the edges a little thicker to help form a crust and place on a double layer of parchment paper. Spread ranch dressing/jalapeno mixture all over the pizza crust. Top with one cup of cheese (your choice on what kind), then add chicken, bacon, tomato, and remaining jalapeno. Top with the rest of the cheese. Move parchment paper with the pizza on top into the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pizza Dough

The first time I successfully made pizza I was thrilled, overjoyed even. You see, my first attempt was dismal and scarred me for quite some time. It ended in a saucy doughy mess that tasted okay, but was ultimately a disaster. I'm not even going to show you a picture - it was that bad. Imagine a volcano that just exploded and you get a pretty good idea. For a long time after that I stuck strictly to making calzones. However; I overcame my fear a few months ago and have been making pizza regularly ever since. Enter: thrilled, overjoyed. So, if you have failed before, fear not, go try again!

Some of the blogs I frequent give step by step instructions to their recipes. I enjoy it most of the time so I thought I would give it a try.

Combine 1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees - should feel hot to the touch) with 2 1/4 tsp yeast. Let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells - about 5 minutes.


In the mean time, mix together 1 1/4 cups of room temperature water with 2 tbsp olive oil in a small or medium bowl.


In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of bread flour and 1 1/2 tsp salt.


Once your yeast has swolen, mix it in with the water and olive oil.


Then slowly add to the bowl with the flour. I use my handy dandy Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, but you can also do this by hand (I did many times before I got my stand mixer) or food processor. It's the same idea - just make sure your dough looks like it should in the end.


Process until the dough is smooth and elastic and forms into a ball.


Next step (not pictured): turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few strokes to form a nice ball. Seriously, 3 or 4 strokes is all you knead. I am a big fan of no kneading.

Then, place in a deep bowl coated with cooking spray (or olive oil).

Allow to rise for 1 1/2 -2 hours.


Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and press to deflate it.


At this point, you can take a number of courses with your dough. The one I chose here is to divide it in two and freeze it for later use. You can also turn it into a pizza or calzone right away.


To freeze, wrap each half in clear plastic wrap...


...and place in airtight container for storage in the freezer. To use later, allow the dough to thaw in the fridge for about 24 hours before it is needed, then allow it to come to room temperature - about 30 minutes.


And there you have pizza dough! I will be posting more specifics on certain types of pizza and calzones at a later date (one coming soon!). But, if you just can't wait to get your pizza cooking on, here are some basics: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with your pizza stone in it. Then, allow the pizza stone at least 30 minutes in the heated oven before cooking on it. Cook pizzas for 10-12 minutes and calzones 15-18 minutes. If you have any more questions, see this tutorial on Annie's Eats. I learned everything I know about pizza dough from her blog.


Recipe:
Yield: 2 medium pizzas or 4-6 calzones

1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface and hands
1 1/2 tspsalt
Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl


Combine 1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees - should feel hot to the touch) with 2 1/4 tsp yeast. Let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells - about 5 minutes. In the mean time, mix together 1 1/4 cups of room temperature water with 2 tbsp olive oil in a small or medium bowl. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of bread flour and 1 1/2 tsp salt.

Once the yeast has swolen, mix it in with the water and olive oil. Then slowly add to the bowl with the flour. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic and forms into a ball. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few strokes to form a nice ball. Place in a deep bowl coated with cooking spray (or olive oil) and allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and press to deflate it. Divide dough in two and use to make pizza, calzones or freeze for later use.

Source: slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

I know, I know. You don't have an ice cream maker so you almost immediately skip over this recipe. But wait! I don't have an ice cream maker either! This recipe doesn't require one! I was one happy girl when I first saw this recipe and had already started making it within 24 hours of first reading through it. Super easy. Super yummy. Score.


This seemed the perfect desert for a blistering hot July in Utah. My timing was a little off though - the only cool days we have had in weeks happened to be today and yesterday. Oops. Don't worry, this ice cream still hit the spot. It just so happened that the rain and cool 80 degree weather did too. Thank you for the little break Mother Nature, it is much appreciated.

Recipe:

1 package cream cheese (8oz)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cups strawberries
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

Mix the first three ingredients together until well blended. Freeze until almost solid - about 4 hours. Remove from the freezer and beat with a mixer until creamy. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor with the lemon juice until smooth. Add strawberry mixture and graham cracker crumbs to cream cheese mixture and mix well. Freeze for at least 8 hours. To serve, remove from the freezer about 15 minutes prior so that it will soften slightly.

Source: slightly adapted from The Food Network Magazine, July/August 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

No Bake Cookies

Confession: I. Love. Cookies.


Alright, not like that wasn't already obvious. But, I have been craving these No Bake Cookies a lot recently. When my husband and I were dating, he would make these all the time and I have fond memories associated with these cookies. The alterations in the original recipe seen below (substituting nutella for part of the peanut butter) stem from those dating days and are of my husband's own genius.

Hopefully you will soon have fond memories associated with these cookies as well. Go make yourself a batch!

Recipe:
Yield: 20-24 cookies

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup nutella
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups quick oats

Put the butter, sugar, milk, and cocoa in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Let boil for 1 minute and remove from heat. Stir in the peanut butter, nutella, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the oats. Drop by heaping tablespoons on to wax or parchment paper and allow to cool until set.

Source: adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Monday, July 9, 2012

Italian Stuffed Peppers

I have decided that I am a big fan of stuffed peppers (re: Southwestern Stuffed Peppers). As such, I thought it was a great idea to make another version so they could be eaten a little more frequently.


On a suggestion from my Aunt, I decided to try these with couscous and it was a nice variation from the normal rice. If you prefer rice though, feel free to substitute it straight across for the couscous. These peppers made for a tasty, light meal that we have already enjoyed again.

As another added bonus, these are super easy and quick to make. Enjoy!

Recipe:
Yield: 6 servings

6 green bell peppers
1-1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage (sweet, mild or hot - your preference!)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked Couscous
24 oz bottle spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops off of the peppers and remove the seeds and white lining.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute the sausage, onion, and garlic until the sausage is cooked. Remove from the heat and add spaghetti sauce, couscous, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.*

Place the peppers cut side up in a pan large enough to hold them all and divide the filling evenly among them. Bake until heated through, 25-30 minutes.
*To freeze: you can freeze the filling by itself or fill the peppers first and then freeze them. If freezing the peppers already stuffed, allow to thaw completely before cooking and add an extra 5-10 minutes to ensure they are heated through.

Source: adapted from Brown Eyed Baker here and here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tortilla and Black Bean Pie

If I could I would probably eat something Mexican or an Americanized version of Mexican every single day. However, I try to make sure my husband enjoys my cooking as well - which means absolutely not more than once a week, if that. Unfortunately his love of Mexican food is no where near as strong as mine.

This has caused me to greatly increase my ability to cook - and enjoy - other types of food though. So good can come from every situation.

This meal is part of our regular rotation and, coincidentally, we both love it! The first time I wanted to make it, Hunter kept putting it off and putting it off because it didn't sound any good to him (aaaand it was Mexican themed to boot). So, I beg of you, don't judge a meal by it's name. You might actually REALLY enjoy it.

Side note: the original recipe is made vegetarian, and I am sure it would be delightful that way. I have made it with both ground beef and chicken and both were very good. So feel free to experiment!

Recipe:
Yield: 4-6 servings

4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1 tbsp. canola oil

1-2 Chicken breasts
1 large onion, diced
1-2 jalapenos, minced and seeded depending on how hot you want it (I generally keep most of the seeds)

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and pepper
2 (15-oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ½ cups water
1-2 cups frozen corn
4 green onions, thinly sliced

8 oz. shredded Mexican cheese
Sour cream and salsa, for serving (optional, obviously)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Trim the tortillas to fit a  10 inch springform pan by using the bottom of the pan as a guide. Set aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add chicken, cook until browned and cooked all the way through. Add the onion, jalapeno, garlic, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened. Add beans and water to the skillet and bring to a boil. Simmer until liquid has almost evaporated - about 8-10 minutes. Add the corn and green onions and remove from heat.

Put a trimmed tortilla in the bottom of the springform pan and layer with 1/4 of the beans and sprinkle with some of the cheese. Repeat until all remaining ingredients have been used. Bake until hot and the cheese is melted, 20-25 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve.

Source: slightly adapted from Annie's Eats