Chicken & Herb White Pizza

I made this pizza twice.  Because it’s that good?  Partially.  Mostly because I’m easily distracted and didn’t take a single picture the first time I made it.  The second time?  Totally forgot the onions.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, October 2011.

Substitutions made, noted below.

chicken pizza 1

Chicken & Herb White Pizza

1 lb regridgerated fresh pizza dough – I used the whole wheat dough from Trader Joes
cooking spray
1 tblsp butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tblsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 c 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 c grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese – I used the Parm/Reggiano blend from Trader Joes
1 tblsp yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 c shredded rotisserie chicken breast
1/4 c diced red onion – I used sweet white onion (the first time)
1 tblsp chopped fresh oregano – I used dried
1 tblsp chopped fresh chives – I used dried basil
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley – I used dried

chicken pizza Collage 1

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  – I read a tip recently.  Heat your pizza stone/pan in the oven for approx 10 min.  This will help cook the center of the pizza, so you don’t wind up with a doughy center.  Totally works!!

Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray; let dough stand, covered for 15 minutes.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add flour and pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Cook 3 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal; roll dough into a 12-inch circle on prepared baking sheet.  (I rolled my dough out on a pastry mat and transferred to my pizza stone.)  Spread white sauce over dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Top with chicken and onion.  Bake at 450 degrees on bottom oven rack for 17 minutes or until crust is golden.  Sprinkle with herbs.  (I just read that.  Herbs on after it baked? ooops…)

chicken pizza 4

cartoon-strawberry-9We ate this pizza twice, both times were wonderful.  The sauce is rich and cheesy, and the onions and herbs add a good bite.  I added cheese to the pizza before it went in the oven, because who doesn’t love a little extra cheese on a pizza?

Chicken and Cashews in Lettuce Cups

Who doesn’t love a dinner of fun Chinese food?  It’s even better when you make it yourself and know the ingredients being used.

This recipe is from Real Simple, May 2008.

Substitutions made, noted below.

lettuce cups 1

Chicken and Cashews in Lettuce Cups

3 tblsp low-sodium soy sauce
3 tblsp honey
2 tblsp canola oil
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4 inch pcs – I used turkey breast
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tblsp grated ginger – I used 1/4 tsp dried
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced – I used green onions
1 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained – skipped this
1/4 c roasted unsalted cashews
1 small head Boston or Bibb lettuce, leaves separated – I used Romaine

lettuce cups 2

Combine the soy sauce and honey in a small bowl; set aside.  I used a small whisk to mix these properly.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.  2 tblsp of oil is A LOT, I would cut this in half.

Season the chicken with 1/2 tsp pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes.

Lower heat to med and stir in the garlic and ginger.  Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the water chestnuts and half the soy sauce mixture and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with the cashews.

Divide the lettuce leaves among individual plates and spoon the chicken over the top.  Serve with the remaining soy sauce mixture for drizzling.

lettuce cups 3

cartoon-strawberry-9I served these with chicken pot stickers and steamed pork buns from Trader Joes.  The chicken/cashew mixture was pretty good, not quite level with PF Changs, but pretty close.  In the future, I would use ground chicken or turkey, use a bit more dried ginger and add a little spice, white pepper?  Red Pepper flakes?  It needed a little bit of heat.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

When I was a working girl, one of my favorite lunch spots was Hof’s Hut.  A bowl of steamy chicken tortilla soup, a cool crisp salad and a side of garlic bread – heaven.  When I started to cook on my own more, I created my own version of chicken tortilla soup.  It changes a bit each time I make it, seasonings, ingredients, crockpot or stove top.  But each time it’s hot and filling and good.

chicken tortilla

Chicken Tortilla Soup

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 – 13 oz canned in water chicken breast pieces
4 oz can green chilies
15 oz can black beans – rinsed
1 cup corn – I like the fire roasted corn from Trader Joes
3/4 c to 1 cup chopped carrots
3/4 c to 1 cup chopped celery
3/4 c to 1 cup chopped onion
4 c low sodium chicken broth
2 to 3 c water (if needed)

All seasonings to taste:
salt – table or smoked sea salt (Trader Joes)
celery seed
onion powder
chili powder
few dashes of hot sauce
black pepper sauce (Trader Joes)
dried basil
South African smoke seasoning (Trader Joes)

Crock-Pot.  Combine tomatoes through onions in a 5 quart crock pot.  Pour in chicken broth and add water if needed to cover ingredients.  Season soup and turn on low setting for 5-6 hours.  Stir occasionally and taste to see if any further seasoning is needed.

Stove-Top.  Use a 5 quart dutch oven or heavy stock pot.  On medium to med-high heat, coat bottom of pot with olive oil.  Start with the onions and garlic, saute till the onions begin to turn clear.  Add carrots and celery, saute for another 2 minutes.  Add in corn and chicken, saute for another couple minutes, then add the tomatoes, chilies, beans and broth, using water if needed to cover ingredients.  Season your soup, and bring to a low simmer.  Turn heat to low and let sit until everything is heated through.

Serve with: Tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream or black olives.

Potsticker Soup

Growing up I had two favorites when my parents and I would go out for Chinese food.  Crispy egg rolls, and war wonton soup.  A couple years ago, Trader Joes had a recipe suggestion for their chicken potstickers to be used in a soup.  I took a simple recipe and altered it , my version of a war wonton soup.

Potsticker Soup

1 lb. package of chicken potsitckers – These come frozen at Trader Joes, be sure to thaw before you start this soup.
13 oz. can diced chicken in water – drained
9 oz. package of snap or sugar peas – rinsed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion – chopped
1 heaping cup of carrots – I use Trader Joes matchstick carrots
8 cups of liquid
– generally I’ll use a carton of low sodium, nonfat chicken broth, approx. 4 cups, plus 4 cups of water.
– This time I used a turkey broth I made from the bones I had left over from Thanksgiving.

Seasonings – all to taste
Celery Seed
Ground Ginger
Chinese five spice powder
Minced garlic
Onion powder
Salt & Pepper

Heat your stock pot or dutch oven on med-high heat and add a touch of oil (I use grapeseed oil.) to cook the veggies.  Add the onions first and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the carrots and peas.  Season the veggies as they’re cooking to add depth of flavor to the soup.

When the onions have softened and your peas are a bright green (approx 3 minutes), add the chicken, potstickers and liquid.  Season soup again, cover and let sit until heated through.

As you can see, I added some shrimp to this go round.  I tossed to coat the shrimp with a blend of garlic powder, ground ginger, onion powder and Chinese five spice powder.  I cooked them on a med-low setting, turning a few times until pink.

This is soup is super easy and super yummy!  If only I could figure out how to make the BBQ pork that you get at Chinese restaurants, my soup would be complete!

Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Burritos

Almost every time we go out for Mexican food, husband will get a shredded beef burrito.  So this was a no-brainer to try.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 1997.

Substitutions noted below.

Slow Cooker Beef & Bean Burritos

2lb. London Broil
1.25 oz package taco season mix – I used the Trader Joes mix
Cooking Spray
1 c chopped onion
1 tblsp white vinegar
4.5 oz can chopped green chiles
16 oz can fat free refried beans – I used the Trader Joes fat free refried black beans
12 8inch fat free flour tortillas
1 1/2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese – I used the Trader Joes three cheese blend
1 1/2 c chopped plum tomato
3/4 c fat-free sour cream

Trim fat from meat; rub seasoning mix over both sides of meat.  Place mean in an electric slow cooker coated with cooking spray; add onion, vinegar and green chiles.  Cover with lid; cook on low heat setting for 9 hours.

Remove meat from slow cooker, reserving cooking liquid; shred meat with two forks.  Combine meat and reserved cooking liquid; mix well.

Warm beans and tortillas according to package directions.  Spread 2 tblsp bean down the center of each tortilla.  Spoon a heaping 1/3 c meat mixture on top of beans.  Top each with 2 tblsp cheese, 2 tblsp tomato and 1 tblsp sour cream; roll up.

Using two forks to shred the meat was a bit time consuming.  After I finished (of course) I remembered a trick I read on Pintrest.  Chicken can be shredded by putting it in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, I wonder if it would have worked with this beef?  I’ll try it for sure next time.

I thought this beef would be a bit more flavorful.  The next day the flavor had really sunk in and was super yummy.  This makes A LOT of shredded beef and I’m trying to decide the best way to use these leftovers.  Husband really liked these burritos and is ready for me to make them again.

Meatballs in Pasta Soup with Basil

I could make soup every night of the week, and husband would be a happy man.

This recipe is from ‘The Complete Book of 400 Soups’.

I altered slightly, all noted below.

Meatballs in Pasta Soup with Basil

14 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock
3 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped ** for the onion, celery and carrot – I used the Trader Joes mirepoix mix.
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small red chili, seeded and chopped ** I couldn’t find a red chili, so I subbed a small jalapeno
1 tblsp tomato paste
11 oz small pasta shapes
large handfull of fresh basil, torn
salt and black pepper
basil leaves to garnish
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

For the meatballs:
1 thick slice white bread, crust removed  ** I used wheat bread
3 tblsp milk
12oz lean ground beef or veal  ** I used ground turkey
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, crushed
grated rind of 1 orange
1 egg, beaten
2 tblsp olive oil

First prepare the meatballs.  Break the bread into small pieces and place them in a bowl.  Add the mile and leave to soak for about 10 minutes.  Add the beef, parsley, orange rind and garlic, and season well.  Mix well with your hands.

When the bread is thoroughly incorporated with the meat, add enough beaten egg to bind the mixture. Shape small spoonfuls of the mixture into balls about the size of a large olive.
** I used a little too much egg (approx half), the mixture would be fine without adding the egg.

Heat the oil (from meatball ingredients) in a frying pan and fry the meatballs in batches for 6 to 8 minutes, until browned all over. Use tongs or a draining spoon to removed them from the pan and set aside.
** Do this in a separate pan than the one you’ll be making soup in. I didn’t and had quite a mess on my hands…

Puree the cannellini beans with a little of the stock in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Set aside.

Heat the oil (from the soup ingredients) in a large pan. Add the chopped onion, garlic, chili, celery and carrot; cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Cover and cook gently for a further 5 minutes.
** Cook gently? This was a new phrase for me. So I covered and turned the heat to low.

Stir in the tomato paste, the bean puree and the remaining vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
** I also added 2 cups of water. The stock alone wasn’t enough liquid.

Stir in the pasta shapes and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, until the pasta is tender, but not soft. Add the meatballs and basil and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season the soup well before ladling it into warmed bowls. Garnish each bowl with a basil leaf, and serve freshly grated Parmesan cheese with the soup.
** As you can see in the picture below, I skipped more basil. I used a Parm/Asiago blend from Trader Joes.
** 11 oz of pasta is A LOT, I would cut this to 7 or 8 oz max.

 We had a friend over for dinner when I served this soup, and we all liked it.  Husband and friend did not like the orange rind in the meatballs.  And as I said above, 11 oz of pasta is a lot, I would definitely cut this down.  I’ll be making this one again, with a few slight tweaks.

P.S. – By the time this soup got to leftovers the next day, it had turned into a pasta dish instead of a soup.  The 11 oz. of pasta had soaked up all the liquid.  So less pasta, and adding 3 or 4 cups of water will keep this a soup until leftovers.

Confetti Chili

As the weather cools I turn to soup, chili and stew as a staple in our diet.  When I make chili, it’s a Crockpot, whatever is on hand kinda thing.  Below is my basic recipe, please alter with whatever you may or may not have in your kitchen.

Oh, the blue Crockpot. It’s fugly, but it works.

Confetti Chili

Trader Joes Mirepoix
1 cup frozen corn – I like the TJ’s fire roasted corn
2 cans diced tomatoes – OR – 1 can diced tomatoes and 1 can tomato sauce
1 can black beans – rinsed – OR – 1 can refried black beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can white kidney beans

1 lb. stew meat – browned
1 lb. ground beef – browned
1 lb. ground turkey – browned
2 links chicken andouille sausage – cut into bite size pcs.
1 or 2 links smoked sausage – cut into bit size pcs.
1 heaping cup of diced rotisserie chicken
** I will only use 2 of these options.

Seasonings – these are all to taste:
Chili powder
Smoked Sea Salt – another TJ’s find
Pepper – it don’t matter if it’s black or white
Celery Salt or Celery Seed
Onion Powder – Penzeys has a great Toasted Onion Powder
TJ’s Black Pepper Sauce
TJ’s Habanero Hot Sauce
TJ’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend

If needed, add a little water to cover everything.

Everything goes in the Crockpot on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8.