Thursday, May 30, 2013

Roasted Garlic & Mozzarella Chicken Sausage Pizza





*Sigh*
YES, this is another pizza recipe...I can't help it!
I have really been lovin' me some pizza lately.
Guess I've got my Lovin' in the Oven.

Roasted Garlic & Mozzarella Chicken Sausage Pizza  is based off THIS RECIPE recipe I found at 

I had been "eyeing" some Chicken Sausage at Sam's Club and finally "bucked up" and bought a package.
(Plus, Julie at PBFingers always makes chicken sausage look so delicious!)
Sam's Club had several flavors including Fajita, Red Pepper, Italian, Spinach & Asiago, and Roasted Garlic & Mozzarella. 

Clearly, I went with the Roasted Garlic & Mozzarella

Now, I have 15 chicken sausage links to use....
1st recipe using 2 (of the 15) sausage links was this:


TA-DA!!!

It was Yum in my Tum!
For the crust, I used one of the hubby's friend's recipes (Dan's the name, cooking's his game - har har). 
Yeah. I've had that crust recipe for, oh, 2 years and just now finally decided to make it, BUT, better late than never!
The crust was great! The best homemade crust in this house to date! 
The Dan's Pizza Crust was thick, sturdy, yet soft, with a nice crispy bottom. 
Oh, yeah.

Dan's Pizza Dough (aka the crust)
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, 110-120 degrees F
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
dried Oregano, Garlic, dried Basil, to taste
cornmeal, for dusting dough

1) Put Warm water in a cup; sprinkle yeast over water and stir in sugar; let stand for about 10 minutes, or until mixture begins to bubble
2) Separately, combine 2 1/4 cups of flour and salt in a large bowl; pour in oil and yeast mixture and stir until a stiff dough is formed.
3) Turn dough out on a floured surface; knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Add extra flour as needed to keep from sticking to hands and surface.
4) Place dough in a large, greased bowl; turn dough over to coat dough well; Cover with a wet towl and let rise in a warm place (like a warm oven) for about 30 minutes. Dough should double in bulk.
5) After rising, punch down dough. Sprinkle dough with cornmeal and shape to fit a lightly greased pizza pan.
6) Top with toppings (below) and bake on 425 degrees  for 15-20 minutes

The Toppings:
10 ounces of diced tomatoes (if using canned tomatoes, drain tomatoes well)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
Roasted Garlic & Mozzarella chicken sausage links (a different flavor would do fine)
1 cup of shredded Italian 5-cheese blend
5 oz. fresh mozzarella

YUM!!!

On a side note: I think my new favorite flavored coffee is Red Velvet coffee!!!
This is actually my 2nd variety of Red Velvet coffee - I had tried a different brand before this and wondered if my new love was dependent on the brand itself. 
Nope! I think I just looove Red Velvet coffee. 

I picked up this yum at TJ Maxx.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lemony Greek Yogurt "Cheesecake"


Hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day!
I am indebted to all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice one can give - I'm glad I live in the good ol' U.S.A.!!!

***


As Americans, what do we generally do on all holidays?
Eat.
I shouldn't judge, because I am right up with the rest of us "gettin' my grub on."
What can I say, I AM an American. :)

Well, I've been havin' one of my hankerin's.
A hankerin' for a good desert.
Either something uber-chocolatey or something dreamy-creamy.
I went with the dreamy-creamy.

Although, alas, my sweet tooth was rarin' up. 
However, I still thought I'd try to make a healthier dessert - but I wanted the dessert to be G-O-O-D. Because, I don't know about you, but to me, almost nothing is as disappointing as wasting all those calories on something that just isn't worth it. 
Ya feel me, dawg?

I stumbled upon THIS RECIPE for 
Lemony Greek Yogurt Cheesecake.
The recipe replaces the cream cheese and sour cream in traditional cheesecakes with Greek yogurt. 
Hmmm...I was a bit skeptical.
The recipes take out ALL of the cream cheese and sour cream????
Well.
I decided to be "gutsy."
Just call me a risk-taker.
Pssh.
Bring. it. on.

I (of course) tweaked the recipe both on purpose and accidentally.
Don't judge.
Yes, doing both is possible.

On purpose: Instead of sugar, I used Truvia Baking Blend (It consists of both sugar and stevia and cuts calories by 75% of white sugar). 
Accidentally: I omitted one egg (Darn!)

***

Lemony Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
Makes 1 cake
Graham Cracker Crust (you can also use a store-bought crust):
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 whole cookies)
¼ cup Truvia Baking Blend
¼ cup melted light butter (plus 1-2 tsp for preparing pan)

1)  Preheat oven to 300° F. 
2)  Break cookies and place in food processor*. Pulse until ground into medium-fine crumbs. 
3)  Put crumbs into medium mixing bowl. With a fork, stir in melted butter and sugar. 
4)  Turn out crumb mixture into a buttered nine-inch springform pan (or other pan, if you don't have a     
      springform pan) and, using your fingers, press mixture into an even crust along the bottom. (You can also    
      use a buttered glass pie plate and form the crumbs into a traditional crust along the bottom and up the   
      sides.)
5)  Bake the crust for 10-15 minutes until firm and dry. 
6)  Remove from oven and set on a wire rack.

*Don't have a food processor? You can also make crumbs in the blender or by hand. Place crackers in a heavy duty plastic freezer bag and crush with a rolling pin.


Lemon Greek Yogurt Filling:
4 eggs
1/3 cup + 1 Tbs Truvia Baking Blend
1 Tbs. cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups plain Greek Yogurt (I used 0% b/c it's what I had)
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest

7)   With an electric mixer, beat eggs a few times to combine. 
8)   Beat in sugar, cornstarch, salt, vanilla, and yogurt until light and slightly bubbly. 
9)   Add lemon and lemon zest and pulse or beat briefly to incorporate. 
10) Pour mixture into prepared crust (it's fine if the crust is still warm).
11) Place in center of oven. Start checking cheesecake after 50 minutes and then every 5-10 minutes after that. Shake pan gently. The filling should look creamy but firm at the edges, and still appear slightly jiggly in the center. It will firm up as it cools. 
12) Remove from oven and set on a wire rack. Cool to room temperature. 
13) Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight) before serving.

Optional topping: 3 cups of sliced strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or mixed berries tossed with two tablespoons sugar. Let mixture sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour so the berries get nice and juicy. Spoon desired amount of topping over a slice of cheesecake before serving.


***

So, how was it?
I was pleasantly surprised. 
Lemony Greek Yogurt Cheesecake is actually a GREAT substitute for a traditional cheesecake. 
I honestly really enjoyed it (and it satisfied my hankerin').
This recipe even passed the hubby test!!!
He likes it!
Yippee!!!
Trust me, my husband will tell me what he thinks about the new recipes I make - he's like my own personal food critic. :) 
(No worries, he's not like a "Gordon Ramsay" or anything.)
It's funny b/c as "foodies", we critique a new recipe and discuss what, if anything, the recipe is missing, whether it's better than a previous recipe, etc.- just to give you some idea- this couple takes our food seriously.

 Oh, yeah, Great News, I calculated the calories per serving for each piece of "cheesecake":
6 slices per pie: about 270 calories
8 slices per pie: about 200 calories
Plus, a major "bump up" in protein and less sugar than typical cheesecake.
Could it get any better?


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ham & Swiss Hawaiian "Party" Sandwiches




Oh, oh, oh....YUM!
Yeah, these Ham & Swiss Hawaiian "Party" Sandwiches truly deserve that kind of response.
They make me wanna sing that song, "Yummy, yummy, yummy, I've got love in my tummy!" (<---click to refresh your memory of this jazzy tune.)

I have to give credit to the hubby for asking for these for dinner. He asked for me to make them about a week or so ago, so, I picked up the all the necessary ingredients (or so I though I picked up all the necessary ingredients...more on that later) from the grocery store. As we were eating this for dinner, ooooh's and aaahh's and mentions of "Darn, I forgot how good these are" were spoken. The hubby may have bragged that making this recipe was his idea and that "this was the best idea" he's ever had. (You know who guys are!). Although, I have to admit, I kind of agreed.
Ham & Swiss Hawaiian "Party" Sandwiches are definitely making a more frequent occurrence in our dinner rotation. Without a doubt.

Served with Sabra Red Pepper Hummus & Carrots...Okay, I may have put back some of the hummus  & carrots in favor of another sandwich...They're SO good! Don't judge. ;)

Firstly, the recipe is as follows:
Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Makes 12 mini sandwiches
Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of Hawaiian mini sandwich rolls
  • Deli Ham, 1/3- 1/2 pound of sliced  (I used Black Forest Ham)
  • Swiss Cheese, 3 squares, sliced - each square cut into quarters
  • Butter or Margarine, 1/4 cup melted (I used Blue Bonnet Light Margarine simply to cut down on the calories)*
  • 1 Tbs Poppy seeds
  • 1/2 Tbs of Worcestershire sauce*
  • 1 Tbs of Dijon Mustard*
  • 1/4 tsp of Onion powder
Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together butter, poppy seeds, onion, Worcestershire sauce and prepared Dijon mustard.
  3. Slice rolls in half horizontally and set aside tops. Spread bottoms with the butter mixture. Top with ham and Swiss cheese. Replace tops.
  4. Arrange rolls in a single layer in a medium baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 10 to 12 minutes, until rolls are lightly browned and cheese is melted.

*Now, speaking of my "thinking" I had all the necessary ingredients....when I went to makes these, I realized I had 1) no Dijon mustard and 2) no Worcestershire. Um, yeah, out of the 9 necessary ingredients, I didn't have 2. That's almost like I was missing 1/4 of the required ingredients! Well, darn. So, what did I do?
I improvised!! (I feel like there should be a "Ta-da!!!" to go with that comment.)

I found a Dijon Mustard Substitute on food.com and tasted & tweaked to my liking and used Soy Sauce instead of Worcestershire. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit worried the soy would adversely affect the taste of the sandwiches...and the Dijon substitute was a bit spicier than normal....
I don't know how, but it all worked - the sandwiches tasted just as they should!
Hoorah!
Dinner is saved!

Now, I won't make a habit of subbing soy for Worcestershire or using a Dijon substitute, but it's good to know they work "in a pinch."

Never a dull moment in this kitchen.


P.S. Sorry I've been MIA - changed in work schedule, work travel, and excessively tired!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Bit of "Yum in My Tum"

Hey-oh! 
My, oh, my it is a gorgeous Saturday in Arkansas! 
I had a zip of a morning. 
Before noon, I had my oil changed, wash & vacuumed my car, browsed the farmer's market in town, and finished a 9-mile run. 
Now, I'm showered and relaxin' (and thinking of mustering up the courage to attempt the grocery store - it can be chaos).

I've made and eaten a bit of This & That lately, so, here's a few random blurps of what's been
  Yum in my Tum.

***

My Current Obsession
Especially since I found this GIANT jar at Sam's Club for about $3.26 (or something like that). I'm a sucker for anything pickled. 


At-Home Egg, Cheese, & Yellow Mustard on an English Muffin.
Yum! Every time I make these, I wonder why I don't make them more often - I love 'em.

1) English Muffin - Toasted
2) 1 egg - in my case, seasoned with rosemary, salt, and pepper
 (Option to spray a ramekin and microwave for about 30-45 seconds, but watch out! You don't want an "egg explosion!)
3) 1 slice of cheese - again, in my case, American 2% (I know, it's processed, I know.... ;) )
4) Mustard



Cupcakes made with Greek Yogurt (instead of oil).
Hungry Girl has a fantastic review on the different types of oil/butter substtitues and the results in cake (highly recommend looking at the site.)
I like the cupcakes with Greek Yogurt - the taste was great, but they fell apart a bit. 
Eh, I'd make it again. 


Oven-Roasted Curried Caulifolower
The idea is from PBFingers.com, but my only seasonings were curry powder, salt, and pepper.
I really, really liked it! 
Plus, I didn't feel guilty eating so much at one time.....Delicious!

 Ranch Potatoes with Bacon & Cheese
Okay, hold your horses. I made this dish healthier by using Greek Yogurt + Dry Ranch in place of ranch dressing. Save this couple some major calories. Husband didn't even mention tasting a difference (so, I didn't tell him! ha!)
To make follow THIS RECIPE from Joyously Domestic except swap the ranch dressing for the yogurt + dry ranch. And, sorry, I totally "eyeballed" it. 
I also used real chewy bacon bits instead of "real" bacon (less clean up!)
Oh, and I suggest to use something bigger than an 8x8 dish to bake. 
That's what I used and the potatoes were overcrowded and took longer to cook. 


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sweet Pepper Pizza with Artichoke Smear (and Chicken!)






Yes, I've made another pizza!
I can't help it! It's delicious (and the Mamma Mia's pizza crust I purchased comes in a pack of 2, so, ya know...)

This is another example of a tasty, yet "nontraditional" pizza.
Sweet Pepper Pizza with Artichoke Smear (and Chicken!)

In place of traditional pizza sauce, this recipe calls for a simple, whipped up Artichoke Smear
Yum, artichoke.

It ended up taking me a bit longer than I expected to make this, however, it didn't take terribly long. 

Here's the recipe:
Ingredients:

The Crust:
-1 pizza crust of choice (already cooked)

The Toppings:
-1 red bell pepper, sliced into rings
-1 orange bell pepper, sliced into rings
-1 tsp olive oil
-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
-1/2 lb chicken breast
-salt, pepper, and bit of thyme (to taste)
-1/2 cup of feta cheese (I used a Mediterranean flavored feta)
-1/2 cup of Parmesan, shredded

The Smear:
-1/4 cup of mayonnaise (I used Kraft Olive Oil Mayo)
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/8 tsp black pepper
-9 oz artichokes, drained well

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 
2) Add the olive oil to a medium skillet set over medium high heat. Add the bell pepper rings and saute for 3 minutes, or until just tender. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant but not browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
3) In the same pan, season chicken with salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook chicken until no longer pink. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once, cool, shred chicken.
4) Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and artichoke hearts. Process until finely chopped and somewhat smooth.
5) Place the pizza crust on a baking sheet. Spread the artichoke mixture evenly over the crust and top with the bell pepper rings, garlic, and chicken. Sprinkle with the cheeses and additional thyme (if desired). 
6) Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cheeses are melted and bubbly


Monday, May 6, 2013

Honeybun Cake (Make this NOW!)




Um...YUM!!!
If you have never eaten a "Honeybun Cake," I strongly suggest you should eat one shortly!
This Honeybun Cake is AWESOME!

I've had Honeybun Cake several times before, but this was the first time I had made it myself. 
So easy and so delicious. 
I brought the cake along as the "dessert" at a friend's house where they served us Brisket, Potatoes, Salad, and Rolls.
Yeah, all that AND a Honeybun Cake?
Flippin' Sweet.


You can find this recipe at Betty Crocker's website (as well as numerous sites on the internet-it's a popular cake). 


Ingredients:
Cake
1 box of Yellow Cake Mix
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream (I used low fat)
2/3 cup of vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
3/4 cup of packed brown sugar (The original recipe calls for 1 cup)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Glaze
1 cup of powdered sugar
1-2 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
1) Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease and lightly flour 13x9-inch pan, or spray with baking spray with flour.2

2) In large bowl, beat cake mix, oil, eggs and sour cream with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Spread half of the batter in pan.

3) In small bowl, stir together brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter in pan. Carefully spread remaining batter evenly over pecan mixture.

4) Bake 44 to 48 minutes or until deep golden brown. In another small bowl, stir powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until thin enough to spread. Prick surface of warm cake several times with fork. Spread powdered sugar mixture over cake. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Store covered.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mediterranean Chicken


Ever since the hubby and I have eaten at this amazing  Mediterranean restaurant here in town, I have been on a "Mediterranean kick!" I just can't get enough!
Since then, I think my awareness for and desire to make Mediterranean-style recipes has been amplified. 
Hence, this Mediterranean Chicken recipe. 
The original recipe is made in a crock pot, but since I have a crock pot on steroids  I changed up the cooking method and use my Dutch Oven (Omg, I love, love, love my D.O.- my fav kitchen appliance!)

I did however, follow the ingredient portion of the recipe - I promise, I didn't change a thing (this time)!
Oh, wait, I just remembered....
I did change what kind of chicken I used....I used boneless chicken breasts instead of bone-in legs and thighs (because of a "hubby preference"). 


Slow Cooker Mediterranean Chicken Recipe (serves 4 large portions) 


Ingredients
1/3 cup white wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 cup prunes
1/3 cup pitted green olives
4 small chicken breasts (about 2-1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (I used 1 Tbs dried parsley)
1 cup long-grain white rice

Directions

1) In a stove-top in a dutch oven, add wine, brown sugar, oregano, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper; whisk together. Add garlic, capers, prunes, and olives; mix. Let the mixture "bubble" for a bit. 



2) Add chicken, nestling it among olives and prunes. Cover the dutch oven with lid, bring chicken and mixture to a boil, then reduce to low and let cook for about 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. (A longer, slower, cooking helps the flavors meld together.)


3) In a separate pot, cook rice according to package directions. Serve chicken, prunes, olives, and sauce over rice. Sprinkle with parsley.