Thursday, May 26, 2011

Naan Pizza Pie

                                                                                                                   

 Yep. These are some yum-a-licious pictures of homemade pizza! Doesn't it look delish? I have been on a pizza kick for a while know. I use to never crave it, but for the past month, I have really wanted to eat it! I generally by the lean cuisine pizzas to help balance the calories and try to relieve the conscience (mega calories are often present with "da pie"). But, I decided it was time to make my own.  A compromise between pizza-chain pizza and lean cuisine-  a happy medium :).

Plus, I really wanted to use the Naan Recipe I had made a few weeks ago as the vessel to carry my yumalicious indulgence (see the prior posted Chicken Tikka Masala for the Naan recipe). To add further, Aaron has requested the making of the Naan , oh, about 3 times in the past month  -so, I figured I better get my butt in gear and make it! Yeah, apparently, he really likes it. Really. Like, he ate just Naan as his whole dinner one night. Just Naan. What can I say, the man likes his bread.

Okay, back to "da pie". I had prepped the Naan the night before - meaning, I had mixed, kneaded (only a tad), and let rise the night before. Then, I wrapped is in saran wrap and stashed is in the fridge for the next day's (tonight's) dinner. It happily awaited my rolling pin upon my arrival home from work today. So, all I had to do tonight was pretty simple. I would definitely make this again. Definitely a good idea to use the Naan. Thank you, Naan! Plus, I "healthed it up" by using Turkey Pepperoni-which I highly recommend. It is way better for you, plus, still tasty. Easier on the digestion, too since they are not so greasy.

Here's my "Process":
1) I rolled out my prepped Naan. Placed on a Baking Sheet. Brushed the dough with tad of olive oil, garlic powder, and basil. Then, baked the crust only until lightly browned.
2) Then, I removed from the oven. Added my tomato sauce. 
(I will use a different brand next time. I had Kroger's in stock, but I will use either the Walmart Traditional blend (don't knock it, it is really good, promise!) or another brand.)
3) Topped sauce with mozzarella cheese, McCormick Garlic and Red Pepper seasoning, and Italian Seasoning, Wee bit of Parmesan, Turkey Pepperoni, and Green Olives.
4) Let bake in oven until melted and gooey and lightly browned and until I was drooling. Okay, maybe I wasn't drooling...noticeably, at least, but....
5) Dining time! Of course, I served mine with pepperocini rings.

Drool Shot!


 I know, wipe the drool away now.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Crock-Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches

Well, I have heard of Italian Beef in the crock-pot, but had never yet tried it. Probably due to my feelings toward beef-I am not "in love" with beef, but I like it just okay. I totally favor chicken and fish more. Howver, one of the ladies at work mentioned she had made it the other night and that it is just tasty AND easy. Tasty AND easy? Sweeeet!

The crockpot is a major time-savor with the added bonus of me NOT having to really make the dinner once I get home and wait on it. Just so easy-peasy!

Well, the giver of the recipe, said she uses onion dry soup mix, beef roast, and pepperocinis in a crock pot. Then, cooks for 6-7 hours on low and serve as sandwiches. Really, super easy. Of course, I complicated things, and thought I it was suppose to be Itialian dry soup mix...which I didn't have....so, I stubbornly made my own. *sigh* You know me, always doing things the hard way...

Yes, probably would have been quicker and easier if I had just drove to dang wal-mart and bought the Italian Soup Mix, but, in my defense, I know have a super-duper seasoning blend consisting of spices I generally already carry in my cabinet. Plus, all of the knowledge I have gained. Knowledge = Power! Okay, cheesy, I know.

But this turned out sooooo good. Makes me reconsider my indifference toward beef...almost...not quite. Nah, I still like chicken and fish better, but this IS GOOD! I will definitely make this again.

I have to give some major credit to the husband. He is the co-cooker of the meal (a rarity, but welcomed!). I was responsible for the ingredient list, but he really did all the measuring and watching. Since, in a rush for work, I simply only put the ingredients in the crockpot. Well, having never made this before, I did not really know how much seasoning to add. Good ol' hubby of mine took care of all that for me. He did so good! It was and is yummy! Totally scored leftovers for lunch! Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 cup water
1 Tbs Au Jus (or Beef) Base (like beef bullion cubes, but SO much better...promise on this!)
Italian Seasoning/Soup Blend (recipe below) or 2 envelopes of Dry Italian Dry Soup Mix
2 lb Beef Roast
8-16 oz of Pepperocini Rings
Bread (Subs, Hoagie Rolls, Etc) of choice

Directions:
1) Add the first 4 ingredients in the crock-pot.
2) Cook on low 6-7 hours.
3) Right before serving, shred beef with a fork and add in pepperocini rings.
4) Service on Bread as sandwiches! Enjoy!


Dry Italian Seasoning Mix:
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp basil
2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery salt
1 tsp italian seasoning
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs sugar (I substitued 1 of the Tbs with Splenda)

Mix all together. Store in a sealed container at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Greek Veggie Toss

I was having a craving for some yummy Greek salad I have had a couple of times while visiting my in-laws in the northern states. I was having dreams of feta, beets, tomatoes, onions, and all that jazz piled on a hug bed of lettuce. Well, since I am about, oh, 9 hours from that Greek restaurant, I was going to have to find an alternative. So, I made my own version. It was yummy, healthy, and sufficed my craving. Also, this is a very fresh, light, filling, and good-for-you recipe. This would be a good one for potlucks-make ahead and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Here goes...

Ingredients:
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/4-1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup of pepperocini rings (Olives would be better, if you have them.)
1 can of beets, quartered and drained
1/4 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
Juice of 1/2 of lemon
2 Tbs of red wine vinegar
2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper

Directions:
Combine all. Serve! (Even better if you let this marinate in the refrigerator overnight).


P.S. I added a can of tuna to 1/3 of the recipe in order to make this a lunch!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fluffy Pancakes

It's so fluffy!!!! Behold, the fluffy pancakes! Ta da! This officially one of my easy "go-to" pancake recipe. I have made these twice now, and both times, they are just so darn fluffy!

I arrived home from a brief a.m. outing to a few rummage sales when Aaron asked, "Why don't you make me some breakfast?" Challenge taken. He decided pancakes sounded yummy. I also made bacon to accompany -We don't need lonely ol' pancakes by themselves! Alas, I turned to my good "old faithful" recipe. So easy and so wonderful.

These babies possess the 2 necessary traits of pancakes: Texture and Taste. While I have stuck with the plain ol' version, I am positive these would be awesome with the addition of blueberries or chocolate chips, if that is what works for you. The husband prefers his plain-jane style.




<---The plate I originally fixed for the hubby








<---His "re-fixed", bigger version...








Ingredients
3/4 cup milk
2 Tbs vinegar 
1 cup all purpose flour (Option to substitute up to half of AP flour for whole-wheat, only if you want)
2 Tbs white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 Tbs of melted butter (Totally forgot to add this time-oops!)

Directions

  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to "sour".
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into "soured" milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala with Homemade Naan and Raita


Welcome and travel with me to the flavors of India! That sounds a bit nerdy, but, what the hay! Let me start by saying that we love Indian food. However, Indian food is not really available in "our neck of the woods." In order to obtain some of this tastiness, you have to travel quite a-ways away from our town. Not really an ideal situation for us. So, here's my attempts to make-up for the lack of accessibility.

I was first introduced to Indian fare by my in-laws - from my dear ol' step-father-in-law, to be exact. He spawns from the curry-loving country. Yet, he has never personally cooked Indian for me. The audacity, I know. No worries, the good ol' mom-in-law has made some for us. Yay!!!

Now, Indian cooking definitely has its own flavor profile: strong, dominating, and distinct. Traditional Indian cuisine can be quite spicy, but not always. Common ingredients are tomatoes, garlic, ginger, curry, garam marsala (a spice), cilantro, yogurts/milk, paneer (a cheese), chutneys (kind of like jellies, sometimes savory or sweet), and so much more! It is so yum, but it not for the "safe" eater; more for the adventurous with a tendency toward stronger flavors. To me, it has a uniqueness unlike other cuisine...you just have to try it to see for yourself.You will either love it or hate it.

I have tried prepackaged spices, sides, and sauces in attempts to satisfy my cravings. However, most of the time, they don't replicate the authentic Indian flavors that I would like. Like, the last spice mix I tried was so spicy, it kind of nauseated me...the husband on the other hand liked the spiciness. Won't do that one again! So, I decided to try and make my own. The results was pretty darn good-not the same as if made by an Indian cook, but a pretty darn-good substitute. Plus, Indian can be healthy if you know what to look for.

For this one, I actually followed the recipe, with the exception of a few instances. *GASP* I know, abnormal, but it happens sometimes. Probably because I am not well-experienced in Indian cooking. But, I would love to learn and practice more! Next time, I will make this in a crock-pot or let it cook all day to better develop the flavors. The chicken tikka masala is kind of like chili in the way that the longer it sets, the better it gets. BTW, this a Cook's Illustrated recipe which I really admire. Cook's Illustrated really tests recipes for the best preparation and flavors. Here goes...don't be scared, just try it!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (Which is ground, dried cilantro)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used Extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves (minced or pressed through a garlic press,about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (grated) ( used 1/4 tsp dried)

Masala Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves (minced or pressed through a garlic press, about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger (grated) (I used 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 serrano chili, fresh, ribs and seeds removed, and flesh minced (I substitited ground red/cayenne pepper) ( I substituted ground red/cayenne powder)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (I used plain yogurt and milk instead)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (chopped) (I used dried)
  Directions:
  • FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.
  • FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
  • While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.
  • Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve. 
  •   Serve with rice.
I also made Naan, which is an Indian yeast flatbread (Taste like Pizza dough) with Raita (a cucumber-yogurt sauce). 
Naan                                               
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbs white sugar                                     
  • 1/4 cup white sugar                                 
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour (I used All-Purpose, since that was what I had)                                                                                            
  • Garlic Powder, to taste                                                  
  • Onion Powder, to taste
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and 1 Tbs of sugar. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
  2. Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  3. During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.
  4. At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared. (I used my indoor George Foreman since I, sadly, have no outdoor grill-But I really want an outdoor grill!)
Raita
  • 1 cup plain yogar
  • 1/3 of a cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 roma tomato, diced 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Onion Powder, to taste
  • A bit of water to thin out
Directions:
1) Mix all. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve with Tikka Masala and Naan.