March 29, 2011

Tomato, Spinach Goat Cheese Pizza

Pizza night is a new addition to our house. We don't have pizza often, never order it for delivery, and rarely buy it at the store. Don't get me wrong- we're no pizza haters. I love a good slice or two...or three. Just not from any delivery service or frozen food aisle. I am a gourmet pizza gal, pizza from a good Italian pizzeria, coming out of a wood burning oven, pizza from California Pizza Kitchen (Pear & Gorgonzola, if you haven't tried it, you haven't lived).

I loved the different kinds pizza that we had in Italy, on our honeymoon.

Simple. Delicious. So tasty. Italy. How I miss thee.

Lately I've been obsessed with making my own pizza at home. I love making the dough from scratch, peeking to see if it has risen, grabbing  my rolling pin to roll it out (I love my rolling pin, it makes me giddy). This weekend I wanted to recreate the only frozen pizza that I will buy, on occasion. Target's Archer Farms Spinach & Goat Cheese pizza. It's so good, we dream about it and the globs of goat cheese...

This is my version. I hope you try it!

For the dough
Source: How Sweet It Is

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey

Combine flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add water, honey and oil, mixing with a spoon to form into a ball. Continue mixing with your hands and kneed for about 60 seconds. Lightly oil bowl and add dough back in. Cover and let rise for 2-3 hours.

After 2-3 hours, remove from bowl and punch down. Roll back into ball and let sit for 30 minutes.
Lay on lightly floured surface and roll very thin. Top with toppings and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

For the Toppings
3/4 cup tomato or pizza sauce (I pureed a can of whole tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 garlic powder 1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
7-8 slices of goat cheese, plus more for crumbling
6-7 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup defrosted spinach
salt and pepper
olive oil

After rolling out your dough, transfer it to your pizza stone or baking dish. Make sure to flour or use non-stick spray on your pan. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the dough and spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle the oregano, basil, and garlic powder over the sauce, followed by the cheeses. Place the slices of goat cheese on top. Add the tomatoes and defrosted spinach, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.

What's pizza night like in your house?

March 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I am so excited for next week: Spring Break! I'm going to sleep in, read, and test out new recipes. It's going to be awesome. I shared some good eats I had with you this weekend, but other than that, my kitchen was fairly quiet. Except on Friday night, when I made a delicious pizza.

My menu plan this week is a little shaky, as I planned according to what we have on hand, which is not much! I didn't go grocery shopping this week and am trying to stretch out what we've got for as long as I can. Our grocery budget is out of control this month. I can't believe how high grocery prices have soared in the last few months. It's insane. So I won't be going to the store until April (which is Friday, yayy!)

Bacon and Goat Cheese Chicken
Skillet Lasagna
Pan-Seared Salmon with Cranberry Quinoa
Apple Cinnamon Pork Tenderloin
Chicken Francese
Teriyaki Chicken Legs

Have you noticed a spike in your grocery bill? What changes have you made, if any, to keep costs low?

March 27, 2011

Weekend Eats & Treats

I don't usually post about what I eat on a daily basis, but I've just got to share these eats with you. We're going to work backwards here. Starting with today.

Sunday: I am obsessed with this cinnamon bread from Aunt Miller's.

I want to eat it all day every day. Spread with some apple butter on top- oh my god. Greatest thing ever!! It was my breakfast this morning.

Saturday: Last night, after coming home from shoe shopping and a great girl's day out, I made Broccoli Cheddar Soup and some biscuits to go along with it.

Holy biscuits. These are good! Recipe forthcoming!

Friday: Friday night I made pizza, using Target's Archer Farms Spinach and Goat Cheese pizza as my inspiration. It is my favorite frozen pizza. My version is just as good, if not better, if I do say so myself...

Oh yeah, and these are the shoes I got. I know you're curious. :)

Sigh. Ready for Spring, anyone?

What should be for dinner tonight? I'm not sure...what are you having?

March 24, 2011

Asparagus with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Tomatoes

Don't you hate it when the weather gods tease you with promises of Spring? It was beautiful here last week with sunny skies and warmer days. This week we've had rain, colder temperatures, and a promise of snow! Never fear, the weather gods can't get me down- in the kitchen.

My favorite Spring veggie has to be asparagus. I love it. The grocery store had some really good looking bundles this weekend and I had to buy a bunch. My favorite way to make asparagus is to roast them. Tossed with salt, pepper, and olive oil in the oven for 15 minutes. I came across this recipe in a recent Cooking Light magazine and just had to try it.

Topped with goat cheese and balsamic tomatoes, I ate more asparagus than I ever have in one sitting. How did I not know goat cheese went so well with this veggie? We hardly ever have any in the house, but I bought a log on our recent trip to Costco that was only $7! I'm planning on using up this cheese in all kinds of ways, on top of a pizza, wrapped up in chicken, as an afternoon snack...

The hubbs had to bring his thick study book with him to the table, but was still able to enjoy his dinner. Three days in and he's already going crazy!

Source: Cooking Light

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cook asparagus in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar; cook 3 minutes. Stir in salt. Arrange asparagus on a platter; top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper.

What's your favorite Spring vegetable?

March 22, 2011

Lemon Sugar Cookies

I may have a slight baking cookie addiction. I wait impatiently for the weekend- not just because it's the weekend, but because I get the chance to bake! I don't have the time or the energy during the week to bake so when the weekend comes I search through my dessert bookmarks and magazines for something new to make.

This weekend I made three things: a pound cake, crackers, and lemon sugar cookies. The pound cake was just okay- it needs some jazzing up, so I might work on that before I share it with you. The crackers were also just okay...but then, the next day, they were incredibly hard and chewy. :( Anyone have a good crackers recipe to share?

Alas, these cookies are worth sharing. Not all my baking endeavors were lost!

Oh lemons, how I love thee.

At first, I was a bit confused. I ate a few right after they cooled out of the oven and wondered where the lemon flavor was. It wasn't enough for me. I contemplated making some sort of lemon glaze, which I think I will do next time, however, the next day these cookies were awesome. The lemon flavor had intensified and I was pleased.

I'm still adding more lemon juice next time though. You know, because I have to.

Source: Goddess of Baking

Be forewarned, this batter makes A LOT of cookies!

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Zest of 1-2 lemons, I'd say 2
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Extra sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk together. Set aside. In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Mix until fully incorporated. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms. Roll tablespoon size balls of dough in the extra sugar.  Place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes or until very lightly browned.

I can't think of a question to go with today's post... So, how's your week going?

March 21, 2011

Chicken with Creamy Dijon Sauce

There wasn't very much cooking going on in my house this weekend. Baking, yes, lots of baking. But I wasn't particularly hungry around dinner time and I was feeling very lazy. Saturday night the hubbs came out of his dungeon and asked about dinner.

Husband, eyeing me on the couch: "So, what's for dinner?"

Me: "I don't know." 

Husband, panicking: "Huh? We're not eating tonight?"

Me: "I'm not really in the mood to cook tonight."

Husband, baffled: "What do you mean? Then we're not going to eat?"


Sometimes you just don't feel like cooking, you know? Don't worry, he didn't starve. We had bowls of ravioli and he was a happy camper.

This is an old chicken dish I made during my chicken escapades. It's super easy and quick, perfect for a night when you don't feel like cooking.

Depending on what you serve it with, you might only need to dirty one pan! Yippie! I don't know about you, but that's the only thing I dread about the kitchen- washing pots and pans. You could make a simple salad or maybe some rice to go with this. Keep it simple!  

Source: Cooking Light

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped shallots
1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 rosemary sprig (I used 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, add more if you really like this herb)
3 tablespoons whipping cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle chicken with salt and black pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan. Add chicken; sauté 3 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer to a serving platter. Add shallots to pan; sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and rosemary sprig; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes. Stir in whipping cream; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and discard rosemary. Stir in Dijon mustard. Spoon over chicken.

Are there nights when you just don't feel like cooking? What do you make?

March 20, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Hello friends! Happy 1st Day of Spring to you! I am so excited- I was able to go out today and not wear a coat or jacket. 50 degrees suddenly feels like 70. I have become a true Northerner.

I hope you had a chance to relax, possibly do something Spring related, outdoors or in the kitchen? I'd love to garden but I don't have much of a green thumb...every plant I buy dies on me. But I will try again! When the warmer temperatures stick around for good I will be potting some pretty flowers and try once again to keep them alive.

I spent a good chunk of my Saturday on the couch, flipping through magazines, reading Shiver (great book), and keeping the hubbs company while he studied powerpoint slides on Reproduction. Haha, he knows everything there is to know about lady parts! :) As of Friday, he is officially done with second year, yayy!! He will begin his third year in May. But before he can get there, he will have to take Step 1 of the boards. For the next six weeks he will be locked up in a room and review all the material he has learned in the past two years. I will be summoned for coffee and food.

On Sunday we made a trip to Costco and stocked up on essentials: chicken, pork, olive oil, wine, chips...Disney World for Adults. I also did some baking, cleaning, and more chillaxing.

As for our menu...I've realized that I'm severely lacking in sharing side dishes with you all. I guess I'm pretty good at determining our main course and but forget to consider what could go with it. Hopefully you will start to see more side dishes as I'm on a mission to jazz up plain brown rice and quinoa!

Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage Sauce
Chicken with Mushroom Sauce and Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Glazed Salmon with Asparagus and Balsamic Tomatoes
BLT Pasta Salad
Pork Tenderloin with Bacon and Brown Sugar Glaze, Roasted Potatoes, and Asparagus

Have a great week!

March 17, 2011

Grilled Chicken, Bacon Mac and Cheese

Holy sun Batman! I don't know about you, but the past couple of days here in Michigan have been beautiful! The sun has been shining, the temperatures have been rising, and I've even seen little flower buds starting to pop their way out. I'm thinking about dragging out the patio furniture and making a giant pitcher of lemonade. But I need some Spring treats. What should I make?

Anywho, on with the food. I've told you all about my love affair with pasta. I've shared pasta dishes that I am over the moon for, Mushroom Herb Mac and Cheese and Lemon Alfredo. I bring to you another glorious pasta dish.

This one has everything that I love and want eat on a regular basis. Cheese, bacon, and chicken. The chicken is seasoned with paprika, a great flavor in the background. It would be easy to double this recipe and stick a tray in the freezer for a night when you're not too keen on cooking but are craving some comfort food. It also reheats well, I had it for lunch the next day and I might say that it was even better! I love it when that happens. 

A few notes on what I did: I used Percornio Romano and Parmesan cheese (it was what I had on hand). I also cooked the bacon on the stove, not in the oven as suggested. Either method should be fine!

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine

 6 slices good-quality smoky bacon, such as apple-wood smoked bacon
Salt and pepper
1 pound whole wheat, short-cut pasta
2 pieces skinless chicken breasts, lightly pounded
EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
4 tablespoons butter
1 half of an onion, quartered lengthwise and very thinly sliced
2 rounded tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cloudy apple cider or chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese (I used Parmesan)
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (I used Pecorino Romano)
Chopped flat-leaf parsley or celery greens, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Arrange the bacon on a slotted broiler pan or on a rack placed over a baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Chop and reserve. Switch on the broiler and position the rack in the center of the oven.

Bring a pot of water to boil, salt it, add pasta and cook 1 minute less then instructions indicate, or until just shy of al dente. Drain and return to the pot.

While pasta is working, heat grill pan or cast-iron griddle over medium-high heat. Drizzle chicken with EVOO to coat lightly then season evenly with paprika, salt and pepper. Grill chicken for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Transfer to a cutting board and halve the pieces lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.

While the chicken cooks, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until light golden brown and very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 1 minute. Whisk in cider (or stock), then add milk. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Add thyme and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the cheese until melted.
Add the chicken, bacon and sauce to the pasta and transfer to a casserole. Broil until bubbling and browned, about 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley or celery greens.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Link up at It's a Keeper.

March 15, 2011

Banana Nut Cookies with Peanut Butter Topping

Hold on to your hats kids. I've discovered the newest peanut butter cookie combination.

Okay, maybe not. I'm sure peanut butter and banana have been combined many times in cookie form. But it's a new discovery for me!

I love peanut butter- not so much bananas. I can't eat bananas in their natural state. Thinking about eating one straight out of the peel weirds me out. But I'm like that with a lot of fruit. I can't eat them all by themselves. Strawberries must be dipped in chocolate or drizzled with honey. Blueberries go into my cereal or plain yogurt. Grapes are a part of my afternoon snack plate with cheese and crackers. So this might explain why I topped these cookies with peanut butter...

On their own these are just okay. The plain banana flavor wasn't doing it for me. I just had to top them with melted peanut will just die. 

Source: Recipe of the Week: Cookies by Sally Sampson

3/4 (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 very over-ripe banana, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (I used pecans)

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer) and mix until smooth and creamy. Add the egg, mashed banana and vanilla, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Add the flour, oats, salt and baking soda and mix until everything is well incorporated. Add the walnuts or pecans and mix until they are well distributed.

Form the dough into 2 logs and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 2 months.

Preheat the oven to 325. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut the dough logs into 1/4 inch-think slices (or pull off pieces of dough and shape them into cookies) and place the slices 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Transfer to the oven and bake until the cookies begin to brown at the edges, 12-14 minutes. Partially cool on the cookie sheet and transfer to wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough.

Melt a tablespoon of peanut butter (I used chunky peanut butter) and a teaspoon of honey in the microwave for 30 seconds. Spread over the cookies while they're still warm.

What's your favorite fruit? Do you like to pair it with anything?

March 14, 2011

I Got an Award!

I am so excited. I've just received my first blog award!! Yay!! It made my day when I received it from Cheryl and Adam at Picture Perfect Meals. Thank you SO much!! I am delighted. :)

The rules of the award:

1.  Thank them, make a post, and put a link back to the person/s who gave us this award.
2.  Share 7 things about ourselves.
3.  Pass the award to 10 recently discovered great bloggers.
4.  Contact these bloggers and personally tell them about the award.

Seven things about me? Well I of course thought of some really ridiculous things, like my favorite pair of pajamas (pink striped bottoms with a purple tank top) and my favorite Disney movie (Beauty and the Beast). I thought about writing about my life's goals, hopes, and dreams...yada yada. Hopefully what I came up with will be of some interest to you. :)

1. We all know cooking and baking are huge hobbies of mine, but... I have many others! For one, I love to read. I like to read historical fiction, romance, young adult (not so much into mystery or science fiction)...I was obsessed with vampires waaay before Twilight. I stumbled upon The Vampire Diaries by L. J. Smith (which you might have heard of, it's now a TV show on CW, but the books are so much better!!) when I was in the 6th grade. It is still my favorite series. Some other books that I have read recently that I adore are The Art of Racing in The Rain, Water for Elephants, The Weight of Silence, and The Help

2. What do I do for a living? I am a teacher! An English teacher. I taught 5th grade back in Miami before we moved and absolutely loved it. Sadly, I am not currently teaching (no teaching jobs here), but I am working in a school with special education students. I love working with kids!

3. I love my best friend. We've been friends for 13 years. We met in the 6th grade when we were 11 years old. She is the best friend I could ever ask for. I miss her so much!

4. Tv and I are also great friends. The hubbs and I have a long queue of DVR'd shows. We watch The Vampire Diaries (duh), Supernatural, Fringe, Parenthood, Glee, Spartacus...just to name a few. I also watch lots of HGTV (House Hunters, My First Place, Property Virgins) and the Food Network. You'll even catch me watching reruns of The Gilmore Girls! I LOVED that show!

5. Sometimes I still dream about my wedding. Is that weird? I loved it so much that I wish I could relive it all over again, the day I married my other half. <3

6. I am the proud Mama of a Shih Tzu Chihuahua. She is our first baby. 

7. I know this is random, but I'd like to write a book one day. I don't know what it's going to be about or when I'm going to do it. I don't think the story has found me yet. 

That's all folks! Now the award must be passed on...

Yay!! Congrats ladies! I admire each and every one of you, you are all so talented! Enjoy!

Menu Plan Monday

My weekend began with a busy start. A very good friend of mine was throwing a party and asked me if I could whip up some mac and cheese. Four trays of mac and cheese! I made one Thursday night (Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese) and finished up with the second one (Mushroom Herb Mac and Cheese) on Friday, right before the party.

My friend made me these adorable cards to pass out at her party! She is an amazing designer and the owner of her own company, Ellibell.

On the menu was bruschetta, salad skewers, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, and the two mac and cheeses. For dessert there were cupcakes and chocolate covered pretzels.

The party was a blast and I was so glad to be a part of it. Thanks again Andrea!!

The rest of my weekend was pretty relaxing (except for cleaning my apartment, but that's okay). I grocery shopped, went to Target (my favorite place in the whole world), made muffins, banana nut cookies (so good, recipe forthcoming) and a pizza.

My kitchen smelled like a pizzeria as this was baking. Tasted like it was made in one too. It was insanely delicious and it's our new favorite pizza. The hubbs ate four slices in 10 minutes!

I also got the new issue of Food Network magazine and Every Day with Rachael Ray in the mail, so menu planning this week was a piece of cake.

Chicken and Bacon Mac and Cheese
Smoky Pan-Grilled Pork Chops
Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage
Pork Loin with Cranberry Sauce
Healthy Southwest Chicken Salad

And now Monday is here. At least the weather is warming up! 
How was your weekend?

March 12, 2011

Pecan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love waking up on the weekends to make breakfast. On weekdays I don't have time to make anything but a bowl of cereal with fruit and sometimes a piece of toast. I give myself exactly ten minutes to eat while I check my email and scan through my favorite blogs.

I also love weekend breakfasts because the hubbs and I get to eat together. I am up at 7:00am on weekdays while he gets to sleep in- unless he has a required event to attend on campus. Even then he'll rush out the door with a banana and a bagel, which he'll eat on the way there. 

But someone is getting a little bit spoiled with his weekend breakfasts! Just last night as we were getting ready for bed, the hubbs said, "Can you make me something delicious for breakfast tomorrow morning?"

Well. How should I respond to this...

...I was planning on making these anyway!

I've been on a search for a new muffin recipe for a while now. I have several bookmarked but I happened to find this one at the perfect time. We had three bananas that were just about to see the end of their days. These muffins are great, probably the best I've had in a long time. They are very moist and I love the topping- brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, and pecans. Delicioso!

Source: slightly adapted from How To: Simplify

For the muffins:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

For the topping:
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. Combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas and then beat together the bananas, sugar, egg, melted butter and vanilla extract. Combine banana mixture with the flour mixture until just moistened. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

In a small bowl, use a fork and mix together the brown sugar, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, cinnamon and oil until crumbly. Stir in hazelnuts. Sprinkle mixture over the batter. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Next time I will definitely double the batter. I was only able to make 10 muffins, but that might be because I wanted big, full muffins and filled the tins to the top. So if you don't fill them up all the way I'm sure you could make more!

What do you make for breakfast on the weekends?

March 9, 2011

Almost-Famous Breadsticks

We are huge pasta eaters in this house. I'd make pasta every day if I could (the hubbs actually told me once to tone it down) if I wasn't afraid of weighing 300 pounds. I love all kinds of pasta- stuffed, baked, filled, drenched in a cream sauce, with olive oil, with a marinara sauce...I don't discriminate.

However, this is not a pasta post! Yes, you read the title...

This is a post about what you should always have (from now on) with a bowl of pasta.


That's right folks, I made my own breadsticks. I am SO excited about this. It is my first time making any kind of "bread" product and I am in love. I loved the feel of the dough, loved sprinkling flour on my counter and rolling it out, kneading it, feeling like a little miniature chef. Wearing my polka dot apron.

I found this recipe in one of my Food Network magazines. When I read through the recipe I literally jumped off the couch and said, "I can do this!"

Making the dough was super easy. I used my good ol' hand mixer (no stand mixer, remember!) to put it together and then kneaded it on the counter for a few minutes. I stretched it out with my hands first, getting a feel for it before using my rolling pin to help out. Once I had formed it into a nice thick log I cut it into pieces. The recipe says to knead it again, so I did, and shaped them into doughy breadstick form. After sitting on a tray to rise (ludicrous) I brushed them with melted butter and salt. Into the oven they went for 15 minutes while I paced my kitchen. So impatient I am! Once they were done more butter was spread on top along with a douse of salt, garlic powder, and oregano (I added more than just a pinch).


Marry me.

Source: Food Network Magazine June/July '09
For the Dough:
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour,plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons unsalted butter,softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fine salt

For the Topping:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter,melted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of dried oregano

Make the dough: Place 1/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a mixer (or use a hand mixer); sprinkle in the yeast and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, butter, sugar, fine salt and 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water; mix with the paddle attachment until a slightly sticky dough forms, 5 minutes.

Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface until very smooth and soft, 3 minutes. Roll into a 2-foot-long log; cut into 16 1 1/2-inch-long pieces. Knead each piece slightly and shape into a 7-inch-long breadstick; arrange 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a cloth; let rise in a warm spot until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Make the topping: Brush the breadsticks with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt with the garlic powder and oregano. Brush the warm breadsticks with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with the flavored salt.

Share with me your bread recipes! I want to make more!

March 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Hello Monday! I am not entirely ready for you, especially after my fabulous Sunday spent with the husband! We went out on a special lunch date to a new place and ate great food. Afterwards, we perused through a pet shop where I had to talk the husband out of buying a hamster. I tell you, he is a sucker for anything cute.

Later we went to do our grocery shopping. Together. I wanted him to see the new Kroger I discovered and he was as excited as I was the first time I stepped through their doors. He marveled over the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, pausing to pick up mangoes, pears, tomatoes, papayas...

Needless to say, I spent more on groceries than I usually do. Oh husbands. Can't take them anywhere.

On Saturday I spent most of the day figuring out what we were going to eat this week. I had absolutely no inspiration. We've been eating so much chicken that I wasn't in the mood for our usual chicken dishes. I went on a hunt for something different. I found several Mexican inspired dishes and a steak recipe that I've been dying to try. It has been so long since we've had a good steak!

Hummus Crusted Chicken
Tomato & Mozzarella Pizza
Taco Buffet
Skirt Steak with Chimicurri Sauce
Sage-Pecan Buttered Cheese Tortellini

Have a great Monday!

March 6, 2011

Salmon with White Wine and Lemon Sauce

We have been eating an insane amount of sweets lately. Chocolate covered strawberries, cheesecakes, banana bread, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies...

It was time for an intervention. At least for one night.

This was really, really good. The sauce is perfect and can be paired with any kind of fish. I pan seared the salmon first, seasoning it with salt and pepper. When it was done I covered it to keep it warm and prepared the sauce in the same pan. I paired it with brown rice, sauteed spinach, and a butt-load of broccoli. 

I was feeling too healthy after dinner and had to make those oatmeal cookies. The broccoli cancels it out though, right?

Source: adapted from Prevention RD

Salmon Fillets
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 lemon

Heat a pan over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray or coat the pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Allow the pan to become very hot before adding salmon. Season both sides of the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. When pan is ready, sear both sides of the salmon. Salmon is done when it is slightly opaque and flaky. Remove salmon and cover to keep warm.

In the same pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions until softened and beginning to color, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add wine and bring to boil. Boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 3-5 minutes. Whisk in butter and parsley. Squeeze in half a lemon. Spoon over fish.

What are some of your go-to healthy meals?

March 4, 2011

Blueberry Banana Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

I know I'm late for National Pancake Day. Forgive me.

I used to have a fear of pancakes.

But now I have become a pancake making queen (haha). All I want to do is make pancakes. All kids of pancakes. Chocolate pancakes. Whole wheat pancakes. Peanut butter banana pancakes. Blueberry pancakes...

I have a ton bookmarked. Just thought I'd warn you. These blueberry banana pancakes are one of my recent bookmarks that I just couldn't wait to make. Before the sickness kicked in I whipped these up in the kitchen during my Mid-Winter break. I was singing to the heavens when the first one came out marvelously. And then so did the next one, and the next...

I had blueberry banana pancakes baby.

Full of bananas and blueberries, I did not feel so bad about eating three of these. I topped them with blueberry syrup, which I saw Nigella make on one of her breakfast episodes. It is so easy- simmer half a cup of maple syrup for a few minutes on the stove with a cup of blueberries. The blueberries will soften and burst open. So good!

For the Pancakes

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-1/4 cups fat-free milk (I used 2%)
3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw)

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine the egg, milk, bananas and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Gently stir in blueberries.

Coat a large flat pan with cooking spray. Turn pan to low heat. Pour pancake batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto the pan. Turn when bubbles form on top; cook until second side is golden brown.

Blueberry Syrup
Source: Nigella Lawson

1/2 of maple syrup
1 cup blueberries

Put the syrup and blueberries into a pan and bring to the boil. Let bubble for 2 to 3 minutes, and then pour into a jug and bring to the breakfast table with the pancakes.

Have you conquered your fear of making pancakes? What kind do you like to make?

March 2, 2011

Beef Dip Sandwiches

Are you trying to convince your husband/boyfriend/man to do something for you? Make him these sandwiches. They will change his life. He will be bowing down at your feet begging for you to make these for him again and again. Trust me. I know. That's what my husband did.  

Ridiculously easy to make and ridiculously tasty, juicy, mouth-watering... you'll eat three in a row before you even realize it. I made these the first day I knew I was getting sick, which was perfect, as I didn't have to do anything in the kitchen. The crock pot did all the work for me.

You'll need a nice beef chuck roast. Place it in the crock pot and pour soy sauce and water over it. Add three bay leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, and a handful of rosemary. Let it cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, the longer the better. When you are ready to assemble the sandwiches, take two forks to shred apart the meat, which takes no trouble at all. The meat will fall apart.

I like to top them with Swiss cheese, but I bet Provolone would work too. And whatever you do, save all that juice that's left in the crock pot! You HAVE TO/MUST/NEED to dip the sandwich into it. You will not achieve it's full potential without it.

And yes, those are tater tots are on this plate. Another man's weakness. :)

Source: What's Cookin Chicago?

4 pounds beef chuck roast
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
3 bay leaves
1 cup soy sauce
6 cups water

Place roast in slow cooker. Season with garlic, rosemary, and bay leaves. Pour in soy sauce and water. Cook on low setting for 6 to 10 hours. Unlike most roasts, the longer the better. 

To serve, place in hamburger buns or split french bread and top with your preferred cheese if desired. Feel free to dip your sandwich in the au jus left in the slow cooker too! 

What do you like to make in the crock pot? 

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