Saturday, August 28, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things...






Cupcakes are definitely on my list of favorite things! I just love them. If I had the time, I think I would make them everyday. Here are some pics of the last ones that I made for a friend to take to her friend's shower.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Yummy Treats

Last night, at my church, we had a Ladies Night Out. It was absolutely wonderful. First of all, walking out the door without kids was so sweet. Then, I got to spend the evening worshiping and learning about my Savior while getting to fellowship and laugh with a bunch of sweet ladies. It was absolutely delightful! We had cookies and coffee to make the night even sweeter. I made Paula Deen's Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies. Oh my word. They are so amazing! It isn't very often that I make cookies using a box mix, but trust me, these are worth it. Then, I made one of my all time favorite cookies...snickerdoodles. And, these snickerdoodles, are just the perfect texture. You really should try these. You will not be sorry!

Snickerdoodles:
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk (really good...a couple of minutes) the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together the shortening and butter. Add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and blend until smooth.

Mix the 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon in bowl. Roll the dough, by hand, into 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar. Place them on an unlined cookie sheet or a baking stone, spacing them evenly. Bake until light brown, but still moist in the center, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.


Paula Deen's Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies:

1 (8-ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (18-ounce) box moist chocolate cake mix (I used betty crocker's double chocolate fudge.)
Confectioners' sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls (I didn't do this because I didn't have the time and it was fine...just messy). Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioner's sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and "gooey." Cool completely.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Garlic knots

Hmmm...garlic, I love it! Here is a great snack for a party or as a side item to go with spaghetti or baked ziti. These measurements for the ingredients are estimates. I just kind of put however much looks right, but I tried to come up with amounts for you in case you like to measure everything.

20 canned refrigerator biscuits (I buy the extremely cheap store brand that come with the four cans in one pack. They are only like $1 or $2 and I think they work the best.)
1 stick butter
6 garlic cloves (finely minced or use handheld grated)
1/2 cup parmesan
salt, to taste

Take each biscuit and, using scissors, cut them in half. Then, roll each piece into a log or snake shape and twist into a knot. They will be small. Place them all on a greased cookie sheet and cook until lightly golden (on temperature on can). They do not spread much so you can put them pretty close together. Place all the knots in a large bowl.

In a microwave safe container, place the butter and the garlic. Put in the microwave just until the butter is melted. Pour the butter over the knots and toss. Then, toss in the parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with salt.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I promise some new recipes soon...

But for now, here is another giveaway that is food related : ). I've actually never made my own baby food. But, with our third, I would love to try! I like the idea of the food being fresh and good for the baby and hopefully, cheaper. Here is a giveaway for a baby food starter kit! Check it out http://www.babywisemom.com/2010/07/product-review-fresh-baby-giveaway.html

Monday, July 12, 2010

Giveaway

Go to this blog to enter into a giveaway from Pitter Patter Art. She makes some adorable stuff and has two giveaways this week...a customized tshirt and a customized key fob. Seriously, they are so cute!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My favorite thing

I LOVE hummus! I mean, really, I could eat it every day for breakfast lunch and dinner! So, here is the recipe that I have come up with to make at home since I'm not a fan of hummus at the grocery store. However, if I do buy hummus, I buy it from Trader Joe's. They have the best store bought hummus, by far. Now, if you want AMAZING hummus that tastes just like it would if you were sitting in a restaurant in Israel, go to the Pita House in Greenville, SC. Ridiculously delicious!

I actually talked to the owner of the Pita House and he told me all of the ingredients that they put into their hummus. However, he laughed and said that he can't even recreate it at home the same as the Pita House because they make it in such a huge batch. That made me feel a little better about how far mine tastes from theirs : ).

16 ounce can of garbanzo beans and 1/2 cup reserved liquid (Or you can buy dry, which will taste better and soak and cook them overnight. Here is a great step by step on how to make hummus with dry beans.)
3-5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp EVOO
1/2 cup tahini (can find in all grocery stores near the olives usually)

Combine chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and evoo in the food processor. Add 1/2cup of liquid from the can of chickpeas. Then, add 1/4 cup of the tahini. Taste and decide whether you want more Tahini taste or not. I usually prefer more but everyone is different. Add the rest of the Tahini if desired. You also might need to add more salt. Making hummus is definitely a taste as you go thing!

Memories of Keifer's

So, probably seven years ago or more, I went to Jackson, Ms with a friend from college. She took me to the most fabulous place...Keifer's. If you are EVER in the area, you must go there. The best part about Keifer's is their feta cheese dip. It is absolutely amazing! I've only eaten there once and I still dream about this feta yumminess!

Yesterday, my mouth was watering for it. Obviously, it is a little far to drive for me. So, I thought I would try to create something that is similar. This is in NO way as good as Keifer's, but it is good and will satisfy my craving somewhat.

2 cups Feta cheese
1/2 cup thick greek yogurt (I use full fat)
heaping 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp EVOO
pepper to taste (and maybe salt but be careful because Feta is a salty cheese)

Combine everything in a food processor and pulse until combined. You want to have a few chunks of feta cheese. Next time, I might try cutting the red wine vinegar in half. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup and I used a 1/4 cup when I made it. It stills seems like too much. The vinegar still overpowers the feta taste just a bit. So, I would suggest combining everything except for the vinegar and then just add a Tbsp at a time until you like the taste.

I had this on pita bread with Trader Joe's hummus since I didn't have the energy to make my own. It was a great lunch!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My first three tiered cake!

Recently, for my son's birthday party, I decided to try and make fondant. It went pretty well. It was by no means perfect, but it was cute and I was pleased with it. I did a two layer cake...one layer chocolate and and the other white cake with strawberry filling and buttercream.


I attempted to make the balls all different sizes. I thought it would look whimsical and cute. No, it just looks like I couldn't get them the same size. I won't do that again : ).

My neighbor's little boy turned one this weekend and I volunteered to make his birthday cake. This time it was a three layer cake. The top layer of the cake his mom made (she wanted a carrot cake for him) and then I decorated it. The bottom two layers I covered in marshmallow fondant (MMF). The bottom layer is just regular MMF and the second layer is chocolate MMF. I'm going to post the recipes below for the chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream along with the white cake and the vanilla buttercream that I used for the first two layers. I'm telling you, you should make extra of the buttercream because you will be taking lots of spoonfuls of it for yourself. I have some in the fridge right now that is calling my name! Then, I will post the the MMF recipe. I'm going to hold off on the chocolate marshmallow fondant until I try to make it again using melted chocolate instead of cocoa. I had a little trouble with it cracking and hoping the melted chocolate will solve that. I am thinking the cocoa is just too dry. I will try to make it one day this week to see what happens!



This picture is not great. My camera was not liking the lighting in the room. Also, the bottom of the cupcake layer was a little soft and started bubbling up. All in all, I was very excited about this cake. I can definitely see a huge improvement from my boy's cake to my neighbor's cake.

Chocolate cake from Paula Deen's Lip Smackin' Chocolate Peanut Butter cake (Seriously, I've made a lot of chocolate cakes because my husbands is obsessed and this is BY FAR the best, most moist cake recipe I've ever made):
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups Dutch process cocoa (use Hershey's DARK cocoa, trust me)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans (I used 8 inch and only did 2 of them).
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3.In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; sift 2 times (I don't have a sifter so I just use a whisk and blend well).
4.Add sifted flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla.
5.Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake 33 to 38 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

Chocolate Buttercream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (You can also do half butter and half shortening but only do this if you buy organic shortening.)
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup dark cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
In your mixer, cream shortening and butter. Add cocoa and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using. For thinner icing, continue to add milk one tbsp at a time until you reach the consistency that you like.
For a mocha buttercream, you can substitute cooled strong brewed coffee for the milk.

Marscapone White Cake from Giada's Marscapone Mini Cupcakes
8 ounces mascarpone cheese (about 1 cup)
2 egg whites
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 box white cake mix
1 cup water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl combine the mascarpone cheese, egg whites and vegetable oil. Using a hand mixer, beat the ingredients until combined and creamy. Add the cake mix and water and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. This recipe will make ONE ten inch round cake (probably would make 2 8-inch round cakes) so you will need to make this recipe twice to make the bottom layer of the cake I made. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Vanilla Buttercream (This is what is in my fridge that I'm getting ready to go and eat!)
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream
In mixer, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for consistency that you want.
I have used this recipe and replace the vanilla extract with strawberry extract and it is delicious! I colored it pink and used it to top cupcakes.

Marshmallow Fondant (I got this recipe from my friend, Melissa. I'm not sure where she got it. She's been taking cake decorating classes so I'm guessing that is where she picked it up.)
8 cups of mini marshmallows
3 Tbsp of water
1 Tbsp of Flavor (Vanilla extract, Strawberry extract, etc.)
7 cups powdered sugar (You'll want to have about 1/2 cup extra just in case you need it)
2 heaping Tbsp of shortening (I get organic shortening at Earth Fare) and more because you’ll use to grease your work space


Thoroughly grease bowl and dough hook of mixer with shortening. Place 6 Cups of powdered sugar in mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the powdered sugar. In a microwave safe bowl, put marshmallows, water, flavor, shortening.
Heat up marshmallow mixture for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to microwave for 30 second intervals until the marshmallows are almost melted. They will look soupy with some lumps. At this time, you can add food coloring if you like. I think you should go with Wilton's icing colors . You can find them at Walmart for $1.50. It doesn't take much! I use a toothpick and just dab a couple of dots on the marshmallow mixture and stir. Then, I add more if needed to reach my desired color.
Pour marshmallow mixture into the well of the powdered sugar. It’s going to spread out and cover all the sugar basically, but it helps for it to be in the middle of it.
Put 1 More Cup of powdered sugar on top of the marshmallow mixture.
Set mixer on slow speed until everything is incorporated and then set it on 2. Don't scrap mixture off the side of bowl.
Touch mixture to see if it is sticky and if it is add about 1/4 cup of powder sugar.
Grease working area and your hands. Put mixture on surface and kneed for a few minutes.
Wrap the ball of fondant in plastic wrap and allow it to sit for at least 8 hours at room temperature. I try to make mine a day in advance.
Use the left over sugar to kneed into your mixture if you need it. Once you know how fondant is suppose to feel (not sticky, but pliable and not dry and crumbly) this is a very simple non-messy recipe to use.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lime Chicken Tacos/Burritos with Cilantro Lime Rice

Here is wonderful crock pot recipe for Lime Chicken Tacos/Burritos. It is very easy, cheap, and delicious! I got it from my friend Terra over at Barefoot conTerra who got it from a friend of hers. I only used two chicken breasts (because that is all I had) and it made just enough for my family. Of course, we loaded our tacos/burritos up with the Cilantro Lime Rice, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and tomatoes as well. You could also flavor up some black beans to put in the burrito as well.

1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup chunky salsa
flour tortillas (The size depends on if you want tacos or burritos. I make tacos for the boys and my husband and I make burritos)

Place the chicken in the crock pot. Combine lime juice and chili powder; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.

Remove chicken. Using two forks, shred the chicken and return to the slow cooker. Stir in corn and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 45 minutes.

Cilantro Lime Rice
I really wanted Cilantro Lime rice tonight for some reason. So, I looked around on the internet for a recipe. This is a couple recipes put together. If you follow the instructions on how to make the rice, you will be so thankful! This rice is so fluffy and wonderful!

1 c. basmati rice or other long-grain rice
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. water
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tsp. lime zest

Bring water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add olive oil, rice, and salt. Stir just to make sure the grains are separate, then cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for about 17 minutes. Check on it at 10 minutes to see how it is doing. You want to cook just until the water has evaporated. When the timer goes off for the rice, remove the rice from the heat, remove the lid, place a couple paper towels over the pan, and replace the lid. This will catch the steam and keep the rice from getting sticky. Let the rice sit for about 10 minutes with the paper towels and lid on.

Remove the lid. Using a fork, fluff the rice gently.

Toss in cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice. Stir gently, just to combine.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Big news!

Most of you that read this blog already know that we are having a BABY!! I just wanted to let you all know that I'm not done posting on this blog. I know it seems like it since I haven't posted in a while. But, I honestly haven't been cooking a ton and have been using my crock pot quite a bit. I have been nauseous and tired. So, hopefully in a few weeks, I will be back to my old self and feeling like cooking again. And then, I can get back to posting. I miss enjoying the smell of food!! If I come across an awesome crock pot recipe over the next few weeks, I will post it for you. If you have an awesome crock pot recipe to pass along to me, please do!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: Hungry Girl's Crispy Chicken Sanwich (tastes like Chick-fil-a)

Ok...I am pretty sure that I haven't posted about this recipe. But, if I have, it totally deserves two posts. These sandwiches are AMAZING! You are going to think I am crazy, but they really do taste like Chick-fil-a's chicken sandwiches. Just get them a try...trust me!

If your chicken breasts are really thick, you will want to cut them on the horizontal to make two thin chicken breasts. I do this because thick cuts of chicken freak me out but you don't have to do it : ). If the thin sliced chicken breasts are on sale, then I buy those. Then, I cut my chicken breasts (after they have cooked) in half horizontally. So, out of every chicken breast, you will get two sandwiches. I don't like to have my chicken hanging over my bun so this is why I cut mine in half horizontally. Then, they will fit on the bun. Also, the perdue individually packed chicken breasts are the perfect thickness for this sandwich. They are pretty expensive, but sometimes you can find them on sale.

Now, for the best part! One sandwich is ONLY 283 calories and 3.75g of fat (Chick-fil-a's sandwich is 410 calories and 16g of fat!! AND, if you are going on a trip or are just in a hurry and need your dinner to go, you can wrap these in foil and take them in the car. I am telling you...these are AMAZING!


Hungry Girl's Crispy Chicken Sandwich
1 1/2 cup Fiber One bran cereal (original)
Dash each salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder, or more to taste
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original or you can use egg whites)
1/2 to 1 pound boneless skinless lean chicken breast (depending on how many sandwiches you want to make)
fat-free mayonnaise
hamburger buns (light, if available)
tomato (optional...I usually don't use them because I like it to taste just like Chick-fil-a
dill pickles (extra for me!)
romaine lettuce (again, I don't usually use this)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Using a blender or food processor, grind Fiber One to a breadcrumb-like consistency. Season the crumbs with as much salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder as you like, and mix well. Place crumbs in one small dish and egg substitute in another.
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with a dash each of salt and pepper. Then, coat chicken on both sides—first with egg substitute, and then with seasoned crumbs.
Place chicken on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Top chicken with a light mist of nonstick spray
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
Flip the chicken over, and add another light mist of nonstick spray. Cook for an additional 10–12 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked and coating looks crispy.
Spread mayo on each half of the bun. On the bun bottom, place chicken, tomato, pickles, and lettuce, and then top with the other half of the bun. Enjoy!

Friday, April 16, 2010



I posted this recipe on my other blog wonderfullysavedbygrace.blogspot.com last year. I thought I would share it on here since it is SO yummy! My husband and I love the Alfredo Pesto Ravioli from Maggiano's. So, I thought I would try to recreate it. I had a surprise date night for him. I told him that I picked it up from Maggiano's and he totally bought it. I don't know if it is that good but give it a try and let me know what you think. Of course, a few bites in I told him that I made it : ). This would be a great meal to fix for your man as a surprise date night! I made stuffed mushrooms to go along with it.

Pesto Sauce (you can always buy store bought but i don't think the sauce will turn out as good)
In a food processor, blend:
1 cup fresh basil (or you can use cilantro...i prefer basil for this dish)
1/2 cup pecans (or you can use pine nuts but I like pecans much better in pesto)
5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup asiago cheese (or parmesan)
coarse ground black pepper (about one tsp)
salt

Gradually add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup evoo until desired consistency (thick paste). You will want to taste and add salt and pepper as you like. Then, set pesto aside.

Alfredo Sauce
2 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 tbsps)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice or a couple tsp. of concentrated lemon juice
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup asiago
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. white pepper
salt to taste

In a large skillet, stir together cream and lemon juice. Add the butter and turn on medium heat and stir until the butter is melted. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook on low heat until the sauce thickens. Stir constantly so it does not burn the bottom. Once it has thickened, add the pesto and heat through.

I used store bought ravioli from the refrigerated section. I bought the Buitoni mushroom kind. I really want to make my own ravioli one day. I will let you know when I do!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday dinner: Chicken Pot Pie

Chris and I took a meal to some friends, Daniel and Wendy Simmons, that just had a new baby girl. Daniel is going to be the campus pastor at the new Summit church Raleigh campus. We are so excited about it because they are a precious family! Wendy is a vegetarian so I wanted to find something that I could make for her but that I could also add some meat to for the boys. Enter...Ina Garten's chicken pot pie. I modified it some so that it has more veggies. If you like chicken pot pie, you will LOVE this! It was a wonderful evening with new friends. God is so good.

I made a double batch of this so we would have some in the freezer. A double batch will make 3 regular size pie pans and 6 mini pie pans (at our store, they are actually called "pot pie pans"). We ate one of the regular pie pans, put one in our freezer (which we ate for lunch today), and gave the other to Daniel and Wendy to put in their freezer.

Link to original recipe...
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/chicken-pot-pie-recipe/index.html

Chicken Pot pie (or leave out the chicken steps for veggie pot pie)
3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
1 fennel (chopped...remove the green stems/leaves)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
1 cup potatoes
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen green beans
1 1/2 cups frozen small/pearl whole onions
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

For the pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions, fennel, potatoes, and carrots over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Check the carrots and potatoes to see if they are almost soft. If not, allow to cook on low heat for a few more minutes, stirring frequently. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, peas, green beans, small onions and parsley. Mix well.

For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls (or 1 regular size pie pan and a few mini pie pans). Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: Chicken Spedini

I have been in a grilling mood this week. I have grilled our dinner for the last 3 nights. Last night, I really wanted chicken spedini on the grill. My mom makes amazing chicken spedini on the grill. I didn't have the recipe but was having a major craving for it. So, I tried to remember it and I think I got it pretty close. I might have missed a few ingredients but it is still yummy! When I get the actual recipe, I will let you all know if you need to add an ingredient. The best thing about this is it only cost 5 to 6 dollars! Skewer up some of your favorite veggies and you have a yummy and healthy meal!

4-6 chicken breasts (cut in bite size pieces)
kabob skewers

Marinade:
1/2 cup evoo
kosher salt
pepper
5 garlic cloves (minced)
1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix the ingredients together in a shallow dish and add the chicken. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or longer. I let mine sit for an hour. You can also do this step in the morning or the night before.

Breading:
2-3 cups bread crumbs (I used whole wheat panko crumbs. You can also use regular panko crumbs or plain bread crumbs.)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
kosher salt
pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Coat each piece of chicken in the breadcrumbs. Make sure to press the chicken into the crumbs to get it completely coated. Place the pieces on the skewers. You can either grill these or you can put them in the oven. If using the oven, place on a broiler pan and bake on 350 for about 30 minutes or until golden (turning once). If you are grilling, grill on medium heat. When the side that is down is golden, flip and grill until the other side is golden (about 10 minutes on each side).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

I got this recipe out of the Food Network magazine. I actually haven't eaten it yet since I just made it this morning for us to eat for dinner tonight but I am posting it for those of you that have asked for it. This evening, I will sit down and post a comment about how yummy it is because I can already tell it will be. Let me say one thing about an ingredient in this mac and cheese...PANKO crumbs! I use panko crumbs on just about every casserole that I make. I love them! If you haven't tried them, then this is the time. Don't just settle for regular bread crumbs...go for the panko. You can get them fairly cheap at Wal-mart.

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni (I use cavatappi or conchigilie)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank's)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 pound yellow sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. It depends on what kind of noodles you are using. I usually cook them 2-3 minutes under what the bag says to cook them for them to be al dente. They will continue to cook in the oven in the sauce. You want them to still have a bite to them. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 more minute.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, then add the remaining 1/4 cup hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.

Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared baking dish, then top with the chicken mixture and the remaining macaroni. Pour the cheese sauce evenly on top.

Put the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the panko, blue cheese and parsley. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: My Birthday Meal

Today's Thrifty Thursday recipe is the meal that my mom would make every year for my birthday. I LOVE it and it is SO easy! She normally made it in the oven...cooking it for a while on low heat. I put it in the crockpot because it gives the meat the same moist texture and flavor.

1 pound of chicken breasts
2 (16 oz) containers of sour cream
1 or 2 cans cream of mushroom soup (depending on your taste...I use one)
3 garlic cloves minced
1 small or large can dried beef (found in aisle with canned chicken/tuna)
8 oz fresh mushrooms (Optional...I don't use them just because I like to keep it just like my Mom made it.)
salt and pepper to taste


Arrange the dried beef in the bottom of the casserole pan or crock pot in a layer. Place the chicken on top of the dried beef. Mix the sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, garlic, and mushrooms (if using) together and pour over the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. If in a crock pot, cook either on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Both lengths of time will make the chicken fall apart! You can also bake it in the oven for 3 hours on 250 degrees.

Serve it over rice or mashed potatoes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake


Alright everyone, here you go! This is the cheesecake recipe that I made for my husband's birthday that a few of you have requested. It is a combination of three different recipes also with an added touch of my own...Girl Scout Peanut Butter Patties. I'm giving you two crust options in case you don't have or want to find Girl Scout peanut butter patties. The peanut butter patty crust is awesome if you can get your hands on some. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Crust (option 1):
9 Girl Scout Peanut Butter Patties
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
12 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp sugar

Crust (option 2):
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or chocolate cookie crumbs)
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tbsp sugar

Crust topping:
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Filling:
4 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

Topping:
2 cups dark or semisweet chocolate (I used dark)
3/4 cup heavy cream
8 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 or full bag mini Reese's peanut butter cups, cut into fourths


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Assemble a 9-inch spring form pan with the raised side of the bottom facing down. Spray lightly and evenly with baker's cooking spray or other cooking spray. Wrap a sheet of foil tightly around the bottom of the pan. I did 3 layers of foil. This is for the water bath later on. It will keep the water from leaking into the cheesecake.

If using cookies, pulse them in a food processor or crush in a plastic bag until finely ground. Add them to the graham crackers crumbs. Stir in melted butter and sugar until completely combined. Transfer to prepared pan, and press crumbs firmly and evenly into the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the side of the pan. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet (about 1-2 inch deep pan); bake 10 minutes and set aside.

Place peanut butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Pour evenly over the crust.

In a mixer, add cream cheese, sugar, and salt. Blend until smooth. With mixer running on low speed, add eggs, then sour cream, and finally chocolate; blend filling until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Don't over mix. Pour filling onto crust. Pour hot water into the rimmed baking sheet that the cheesecake is sitting on. The water should be about an inch or two up the side of the spring form pan. I also placed an additional 9x13 pan of hot water on the rack just under the cheesecake to make sure the cheesecake didn't crack. Bake cheesecake just until almost set, 1 hour. The 2-3 inches in diameter in the center of the cheesecake should still be jiggly. Turn oven off, and let cheesecake sit 1 hour in oven, without opening (this helps prevent cracking).

Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan (this helps prevent cracking, too); leave in pan, and cool completely on wire rack. Cover loosely and refrigerate, at least 6 hours or up to overnight.



For the ganache topping (don't make until right before you are going to use it), cut the butter into small squares and let cool to room temperature. If using a chocolate bar, chop into small pieces. If using chips, you can leave as is. Place chocolate in a medium size bowl. Heat cream over medium-high heat. Once it comes to gentle boil, pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Whisk until chocolate and cream are completely incorporated and smooth. Whisk in the soft butter.

Once the cheesecake has been refrigerated for at least 6 hours, spoon the chocolate ganache onto the cheesecake. Spread 1/2 to 3/4ths of the ganache into an even layer covering the top of the cheesecake and leaving about 1/2 inch all the way around. Top with Reese's peanut butter cups. Take remaining ganache and place into a ziploc bag. Cut a VERY SMALL hole in the corner of the bag and drizzle the ganache over the top of the peanut butter cups.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chicken Spinach Lasagna

This is a recipe that I adapted from a recipe that I got from my friend, Carlyn. It was passed around her freezer swap group so she passed it on to me. It works great as a freezer meal or as a meal to take to someone. It makes 2 9x13 pans of lasagna or you can split it into 3 8x8 pans. It is absolutely delicious! Now, I haven't actually made it like the original recipe so mine might not be as good as the original : ). If you try it both ways before I do, let me know if it makes any difference. The only differences in mine and the original is that I omitted the cream of mushroom soup (and made my own) and I sauteed the vegetables. The original would be much easier to make and has a lot less steps than the one I made. I just really like the taste of homemade cream of mushroom "soup". However, I will make it like the original next time just to compare.

18 no boil lasagna noodles
EVOO
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed (Squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as you can using your hand. The rest of the liquid will get cooked off in the skillet)
4 cups cooked, diced or shredded chicken (Season 3 split chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook in the oven for about 40 minutes on 350 degrees. Cover with foil and let cool. Shred or dice the chicken.)
4 cups shredded white cheddar (You can use any other cheese you like. I just love white cheddar.)
1 onion, diced
8-16 oz mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cream
1 cup chicken broth/stock
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp soy sauce
16 oz sour cream
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup Parmesan cheese

Heat skillet with a few swirls around the pan of EVOO. Saute mushrooms until they start getting a golden color. Add the onions. Sprinkle with a tsp or so of salt to help release the liquid. Let the onions cook 3-4 more minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the spinach. Sprinkle with flour. Stir and let cook for a minute. Whisk in the chicken broth and then the cream. Let it cook for 6-7 minutes or until thickened. Add the chicken. Take off the heat and let cool to room temperature.

In a bowl, mix together sour cream, mayo, soy sauce, pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Stir in the cooled cream chicken mixture.

In a greased 9x13 pan, place a layer of the cream mixture. Lay down 3 no boil lasagna noodles. Top with more cream mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Place 3 more noodles down. Top with cream mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Place the last 3 noodles down and top with more cream mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Top with pecan/Parmesan mixture.

Repeat in the other 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

You will just need to guess about how much cream mixture and cheese you put on each layer. Just keep in mind that they will be used for both pans. If you have never worked with "no boil" noodles, you will love them! You don't have to cook them at all. Just lay them down. Make sure that every corner has some of the sauce on them. The layer of sauce doesn't need to be thick for the noodles to soften, it just has to be covered. I think you could use the no boil noodles in the original. I will let you know when I try it.


Original Recipe:
24 lasagna noodles, cooked
1 (10 oz) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
4 cups diced chicken(i cooked mine first)
4 cups shredded cheddar
2/3 cup finely diced onion
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 cans cream of mushroom
16 oz. sour cream
2/3 cup mayonnaise

Topping:
1 cups grated Parmesan
1 cups chopped pecans

Combine all ingredients in very large bowl. In a large and deep baking dish, layer chicken mixture, noodles, chicken, noodles, chicken. Sprinkle with topping. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

"Lemon Meringue" Bars

I made Ina Garten's Lemon Bars for our Dgroup the other night. They are so yummy! One of the girls in the group, Katie, said they reminded her of lemon meringue pie in a bar. She is totally right. There is something about the crust that forms on the top that is very similar. You should definitely try these. The shortbread crust gives them exactly the right thickness of crust and gives the lemon layer wonderful stability. You will love them...no doubt! Tip: Make sure to grease your pan. Ina says not to since there is already so much butter in the crust. However, mine stuck to the pan in a few places. Also, if you don't want to buy extra large eggs just use 7 eggs instead of 6. You will want to make these in advance so they have time to cool and set. The real lemons and lemon zest is KEY to this recipe. Don't cheat and use imitation lemon juice. They will not be the same! I am guessing you could substitute lime juice and zest in this recipe as well and they would be wonderful. I love limes! I will try this one day and let you know how they turn out.

Ina Garten's Lemon Bars
Crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature (or 7 large eggs)
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (5-6 lemons)
1 cup flour
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch (greased) baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill for 15 minutes.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour (I did this in my stand mixer with the whisk attachment so that there were no flour lumps. You can also use a hand mixer). Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles or squares and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Taste Test Tuesday: Chocolate Chip Cookies...Real butter vs. Dairy free margarine

Yesterday, I made two batches of cookies. One batch with real butter and one batch with dairy free margarine sticks (I used blue bonnet light). I've made cookies with dairy free margarine sticks before but never actually taste tested them right along side cookies made with real butter. Let me tell you, if you follow the recipes exactly, there is a huge difference. My son, along with some of my friends children, have a dairy allergy. So, I did this just to compare the cookies.

I melt my real butter (and then let it cool to room temperature) before adding it to the sugar when I make cookies. This makes for a cookie that is really chewy. However, after brainstorming for a while about why the dairy free cookies didn't turn out as good, I realized that it has the opposite affect when using dairy free margarine. It actually makes the batter extremely runny, like soup.

All in all, you can definitely make cookies with dairy free margarine and they will taste good (as long as you just use room temperature butter that is not melted). However, cookies made with real butter are no contest the best way to make a scrumptious chocolate chip cookie!!




THE BEST (in my opinion) Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 whole large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 cups All-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt - can substitute with Fleur de Sel or grey sea salt (this is what I use)
1 cup chocolate chips (You can use up to 2 cups, if desired. I really like just one cup and I used to make all of my cookie recipes with 2 cups.)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Melt the butter then allow to cool to room temperature (This is a very important step if you are using real butter. If you are using dairy free margarine then skip this step and just let your margarine come to room temperature). Then using a large bowl or in your upright mixer with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown and white sugar on high speed. Next add the vanilla extract, egg, egg yolk and beat until smooth (make sure to crack eggs into a separate bowl to make sure there are no shells pieces).

Sift the flour and baking soda together (if you don't have a sifter you can just use a whisk). Then stir in the salt and set aside. Now add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix on low until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using stoneware or a greased cookie sheet, form equal size rounds of dough (about 1/4cup of dough). Make sure to leave enough space between each cookie as they will spread out as they bake. Refrigerate for fifteen minutes before baking.

Bake the cookies for 13 to 15 minutes or until the edges turn a light golden color. Once done, cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sunny Anderson's Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Casserole...You must try this!

This is absolutely the BEST broccoli cheese casserole that I have ever had! I just served it as a side with pan fried chicken and gravy. You could also mix some cooked cubed/shredded chicken into the casserole to make a complete meal. However, I love the creaminess without the chicken. I also topped the casserole with panko crumbs and cubes of butter along with the cheese. I love the crispiness that panko crumbs give to it. Try it...you will like it!

Sunny Anderson's Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Casserole
3 tablespoons butter, plus extra for casserole dish
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound shiitake or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I used 4 cloves cause I LOVE garlic!)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
2 cups shredded Cheddar-Monterey blend (I used sharp yellow cheddar. Next time, I will use sharp white cheddar but it wasn't on sale when I was buying. White cheddar is my favorite.)
3 cups cooked rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper



Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Butter casserole dish. In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle with flour and whisk to make a roux. Let it cook a few minutes, whisking continuously. The roux should resemble the color of peanut butter. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, heavy cream and chicken stock. Add broccoli, 1 cup of the cheese and rice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour into buttered dish and top with remaining shredded Cheddar. Bake until cheese is melted and golden, about 20 minutes.

Note: In a separate small saute pan, I sauteed the mushrooms, onions, and garlic before adding them to the roux.

Taste Taste Tuesday: Garlic Herb Bread

So, I got this free magazine in the mail the other day and it had this recipe in it. The picture of the braided loaf is gorgeous! Chris said "Wow. That looks really hard. How would you get it braided like that?". My response was, "You braid it". He said, "I don't know how to braid". Haha. He is such a boy. Anyway, I thought I would take on the challenge of braiding the bread. It really isn't hard if you know how to braid :0). Mine isn't nearly as pretty as the one in the magazine but it turned out pretty good and it tastes yummy! It reminds me of the bread you get in restaurants to dip in EVOO. You could do two loaves (divide dough into 6 portions and make 6 ropes). The smaller loaves would be perfect for a party.



4 to 4 1/2 cups flour (all purpose or bread flour)
3 tbsp sugar
2 pkg yeast (or 4.5 tsp)
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp dried basil
1 3/4 tsp dill
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp butter or evoo
kosher or sea salt

Mix warm water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl. Let it sit 5-10 minutes or until it is foamy. If after 10 minutes it is not foamy, start over. Your yeast may be old or your water temperature too warm or too cold. You just want it lukewarm.

Meanwhile, heat milk and butter in a saucepan until butter is melted. You don't want the mixture to get too hot.

In a large mixing bowl, place 1 1/2 cups flour, basil, dill, salt, garlic powder and rosemary. Add the milk/butter mixture and stir until combined. Add the egg and stir until combined. Pour yeast mixture into bowl and stir until combined. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough is formed. I ended up using 4 cups of flour total but it really depends on the weather that day. Knead for 4-6 minutes and then let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into thirds and shape each into 15 in rope. Place ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid. Pinch the ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 30 minutes).

Bake at 375 (uncovered) for 20 minutes or until golden. Brush with melted butter or evoo and sprinkle with salt.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: Pecan Chicken Curry

We love curry in our house. I used to make Rachael Ray's Curry in a Hurry recipe once a week. It is awesome and really cheap because once you buy the two main ingredients (curry paste and mango chutney) they will last a while. Rachael's recipe actually calls for mincemeat but I use mango chutney. Also, I buy Patak's Curry Paste which I think is the best of all the brands. It costs $5 but it will last a long time!

I started making another recipe recently that I got from the online cooking school that I do. I changed it up just a little bit. Chris and I love it! If you like traditional Indian curry, then this is for you! This meal just makes the cut of under $10. It costs around $9.95. Now, if you already have all of the spices, then it will be much cheaper.

Pecan Chicken Curry
4 whole onions (diced 1/4 inch cubes)
1/2 cup ghee (see below) - can substitute butter
2 bay leaves
2 tsp Kosher salt
4 large garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
2 tbsp fresh ginger (roughly chopped - I buy a fresh ginger root and keep it in my freezer. It keeps it fresh and makes it easy to chop.)
2 whole green chilis (seeded and roughly chopped...if you can't find these, you can use one poblano pepper)
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp paprika
1 cup Water
3-6 chicken breasts depending on your family size (diced in 1 or 2 inch cubes)
1/2 cup pecans
3/4 cup cream
1 bunch cilantro

Heat the ghee over medium heat in a large fry pan or Dutch oven and sweat the onions, bay leaves and salt for about 25 to 30 minutes. You want the onions to sweat slowly. If they look like they are going to start to brown, turn the heat down.
Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the garlic, ginger, chilies and place into food processor and puree.
Once the onions are very soft add the garlic, ginger and chilies and cook for another 3 minutes.
Then add all of the remaining spices and seasoning and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and cover. Let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Add the diced (uncooked) chicken into the sauce, replace the lid on the pot and simmer for another 10 -15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink.

Grind the almonds in a food processor. Then add the cream and blend until you have a smooth paste. Add the almond paste to the chicken and onions and stir. Check for taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. To finish add the chopped cilantro and serve over rice (preferably jasmine).

Ghee
You can buy Ghee in stores but it is much cheaper to make yourself.
This is just a simple process of removing the milk solids from the butter. It allows the butter to be cooked at a higher temperature without burning.
Take a stick of butter and melt it in a saucepan over low heat. Let it continue to cook until you see the layer of milk solids has separated. You can strain the butter through a cheesecloth to remove the milk solids. I just take a spoon and skim off the milk solids and discard them.

Tip: If you don't have some of these spices, I would suggest you go to a Fresh Market or Earth Fare (if you live near one). They sell their spices in small plastic bags and are WAY cheaper than the grocery stores. Also, walmart has really cheap spices as well.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Menu Planning Monday (On Saturday)

So, I just spent the last 2 hours planning our meals. We have 12 dinners before we get paid. Since money is a little tight, I decided to try to get all 12 dinners (plus lunches and breakfast stuff) out of our normal amount of money for one week of groceries. My plan is to make 6 meals that can all be eaten twice or that I can used to make another meal. So, for all of the meals that are casseroles, I will make the whole recipe and separate it into 2 or 3 8x8 pans depending on how much it makes. We will eat one that night and save the other for the next week. Hopefully, we will like these recipes enough to eat them twice so close together : ). My estimated cost of all of these meals plus lunch and breakfast stuff for my boys is going to be $100. I will let you know what happens!

Sunday - Pizza (I am trying a new technique this week and new dough recipe that is supposed to make the pizza thin and crispy. It uses semolina flour and slow rising overnight. I will let you know how it turns out and pass on the recipe.)
Monday - Sunny Anderson's Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Tuesday - Chicken Parmigiano
Wednesday - Chicken Parm Subs (made from leftover chicken parm)
Thursday - Giada's Ragu with Mint (It is made with ground lamb but I will more than likely use ground beef unless there is an awesome sale on ground lamb...which I doubt.)
Friday - My mac-n-cheese topped with bacon and onions
Saturday - Pizza
Sunday - Sunny Anderson's Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Monday - Giada's Ragu with Mint
Tuesday - My mac-n-cheese topped with bacon and onions
Wednesday - Pan fried Chicken with gravy and rice (Chicken breasts are on sale at Lowe's foods for $1.99 a pound)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Baked Ravioli

3 packages of frozen cheese ravioli
1 pound ground sirloin or ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
5 cups of Basic Tomato Sauce
1 cup stock (whatever kind you have on hand)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup red wine (if you don't want to use wine, you can just add another cup of whatever stock you have)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. allspice
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cups shredded cheese (you could do a mixture of mozzarella and Parmesan or provolone and Parmesan)
EVOO

Preheat oven to 375. Cook ravioli according to package but take a few minutes off of the cooking time as they will continue to cook in the oven. Lay flat after draining to keep them from sticking together. Set aside.

Brown meat in large (high sided) skillet with a few swirls of EVOO. Brown until the meat has some crispy parts to it. Move the meat over in the pan and add onion and garlic to the pan. Cook until tender...about 6 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the cup of wine or stock making sure to scrape up any bits on the bottom. Cook for 5 minutes. Add allspice, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and stock. Bring to a bubble and then add the tomato sauce. Cook until it thickens a bit (about 15 minutes).

Place a cup of tomato sauce in a greased 9x13 pan. Place a single layer of ravioli on top of sauce making sure to get ravioli into the corners of the pan. Repeat until all the ravioli is used (3-4 layers). The top layer should be sauce. Then top with your cheese. Bake for 10 minutes. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes after it has baked.

Thrifty Thursday: Chicken Tender Parmigiano and Roll Over Meal

This is a great comfort meal that I hope you enjoy!! Thrifty Thursday meals are always a meal for a family of four for under $10. Today, you can get two meals out of this meal by only buying 4 hoagie or sub rolls.

1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders (or if chicken breasts are on sale you can butterfly them open and then slice into tenders)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
2 cups panko crumbs (you can also use regular bread crumbs but panko makes them crispier)
1 cup Parmesan
2 tbsp thyme (or 4-6 fresh sprigs)
2 tbsp parsley (or a couple of handfuls of fresh)
2 tbsp basil (or 4-6 leaves, chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (finely minced or use microplane to grate)
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
EVOO
1 cup cheese or a few slices (mozzarella or provolone)
parmesan for topping
Tomato Sauce

Preheat oven to 375.

Make your tomato sauce ahead of time (takes 45 minutes to simmer). It will be enough to put half of it in the freezer or save it for another meal later in the week.

Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add a couple tablespoons of EVOO (a few times around the pan).

While it is heating, prepare dipping trays. In one, place the two eggs, whisked. In another, place the flour. In the third, mix together panko, Parmesan, thyme, parsley, basil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Season each tender liberally with salt and pepper. First, dip tender into flour (shaking off excess). Then, dip it in the egg mixture. Lastly, coat in bread crumb mixture pressing the chicken into the mixture to coat thickly and evenly.



Begin frying your tenders in the EVOO (3-4 minutes on each side until they are golden). They do not have to be cooked all the way through. Make sure to not overcrowd the pan. You might have to do a couple batches. As each batch finishes, place them on a cooling rack with a cookie sheet or paper towels underneath.

In a 9x13 casserole pan, place 1 1/2 to 2 cups of tomato sauce. Place chicken tenders on top of the sauce in a single layer. Put a spoonful of sauce on each tender. Then, top with shredded cheese or slices of cheese. Sprinkle with some Parmesan. Bake for 10-15 minutes. You might want to turn the broiler on for the last 2-3 minutes just to slightly brown the cheese.




You can make this dairy free by just leaving the cheese out of the bread crumb mixture. Then, when you assemble it just leave off the cheese or put cheese on those that can have it and leave a few tenders without cheese.

Great roll over meal: Open hoagie rolls (flat but still connected), place on a baking sheet, drizzle with EVOO and toast in the oven on 425 degrees. Once toasted, rub a garlic clove over each piece. The heat will melt it onto the bread. Spread a spoonful or two of sauce on bottom side of hoagie. Top with chicken. Sprinkle with cheese and put under the broiler in the oven just until cheese is melted. The other night I also put a couple of pieces of pepperoni on top of the sauce (before the layer of chicken) and I caramelized some onions and placed them on top of the chicken layer. YUMMY!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Basic Tomato Sauce

This is the basic tomato sauce that I make. It is extremely simple and tastes great. It will store in the refrigerator for a few days or frozen for several months. I would make a double or triple batch of this and freeze it so it is ready to go when you need it. You can also add other spices that you like to change it up. Put it with some ground turkey, beef, or sausage and put it over your favorite pasta. Tip: When buying canned tomatoes, look at the ingredients closely. Good canned tomatoes should only contain tomatoes or maybe tomatoes and water. All of the other ingredients...salt, citric acid, etc. do not make good canned tomatoes. However, if those tomatoes are the best price then it is just fine and your sauce will still be delicious!

1/2 medium onion, chopped very fine (about 1 cup)
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
4 cans (28 oz) whole tomatoes (deseed by pressing through food mill) or you can use a good quality crushed tomatoes
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1/4 cup evoo
salt
pepper
6-8 basil leaves
2 tbsp evoo

Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Then add the oil, followed by the onions. Next, add a pinch of salt and let the onions gently cook until they soften and just begin to turn a slight golden color...not brown.

Once they’re ready, add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute or so, just until softened or until you can begin to smell it. Stir in the tomato paste and let it gently cook for a few minutes until it becomes a shade darker. Then add the tomatoes and a good pinch of salt. Now, stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

Once the sauce has finished cooking, turn off the heat and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as you like. Add the basil...just tear into pieces by hand and drizzle with a tbsp or 2 of EVOO.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thrifty Thursday...One of My Favorite Comfort Foods


A friend of mine requested that I post my Macaroni and Cheese recipe. Mac and cheese is one of my absolute favorite things to eat and fun to make. My friend, Brittany, gave me a great idea the other day that she found somewhere. Make the mac-n-cheese in cupcake tins and store them individually in the freezer. This is great if you have kids! Pull them out and pop them in their lunchbox.

I am going to give you my basic macaroni and cheese recipe (it looks long but it is really simple). Then, I am going to give you a list of things you can do to change it up a bit. This is going to be so fun! You can make an entire meal out of mac and cheese...just serve with a green salad along side. So, Jill, here you go : )...

1 lb noodles (I use either Cavatappi or Conchigilie)
1 stick unsalted butter
2-3 tbsp flour
3 cups whole milk (you can use reduced fat but it will not be as rich and creamy)
sea salt (or kosher salt)
4 garlic cloves (smashed but you can leave skins on)
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme (optional, but it adds a great flavor)
freshly grated nutmeg (about 1 tsp...this is a key ingredient)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
4 cups sharp WHITE cheddar cheese (you can also do half sharp white cheddar and half Gruyere if you can find a good price on it)
1 cup panko crumbs

Cook the noodles according to the package except cook just short of al dente. So, if the package says to boil for 8 minutes then boil them for about 6. You will really just have to taste test them. You want them to have a pretty good bite to them because they will continue to cook in sauce when you bake it. Be sure to use about 4-5 quarts of water for every pound of pasta and 2-3 tbsp of salt. The salt does not significantly increase the boiling point but it is the ONLY chance you have to season the pasta. Also, do NOT add oil to your pasta water. This does not keep your pasta from sticking AND it prevents whatever sauce you use from coating the pasta. If your pasta is sticking together, then you aren't using enough water which lets the pasta move freely in the pot.

While the pasta is cooking, begin to make your Bechamel sauce. In a medium saucepan heat the milk, garlic and thyme on low-medium heat. Allow it to get warm. Once it is almost warm, melt half of the stick of butter in a skillet. Once melted, sprinkle with the flour. Whisk for a couple of minutes (you don't want it to get dark). Drain the garlic and thyme from the milk. Whisk the milk into the butter/flour mixture (roux). Allow to cook for a few minutes to thicken. Season with salt and nutmeg.

Add 2 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese. Add the pasta to the cheese sauce. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan or other casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cut remaining butter into small 1/4 size cubes and place around on the top. Then, sprinkle with the panko crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Variations:
1. Crisp bacon and saute with onions...put on top after Mac and Cheese comes out of the oven.
2. Replace a 1/2 cup of the milk with beer for Beer Mac-n-Cheese
3. BLT - add crispy bacon and sauteed leeks to the mac-n-cheese before baking. Then, top with diced fresh tomatoes.
4. Add crumbled cooked sausage and sauteed onions and bell peppers
5. Add cooked diced chicken and broccoli
6. Add sauteed spinach and artichokes
7. Add sauteed chopped red peppers and onion (and maybe some jalapenos) and switch out half of the cheddar cheese with Monterrey Jack for spicy mac-n-cheese.
8. Add cooked ground beef, onions, crispy bacon, and a tbsp or two of yellow mustard (to the cheese sauce)
9. Add some sauteed shrimp
10. Rachael Ray has a Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac
11. Add pimentos and switch it to yellow cheddar
12. Added chopped corned beef and sauerkraut (you can use rye bread crumbs for topping instead of panko)
13. Rachael Ray even has a Philly cheese steak mac-n-cheese. Now, what could be wrong with that?1
14. Add some sauteed sun dried tomatoes and spinach
Try your own additions and then let us know what you did!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: Two for One

Today, I am posting TWO Thrifty Thursday recipes! I am very excited about both of these. The first one, I am going to just give you the link to it. It is what I am making for dinner tonight so I can't tell you (yet) what I think about it. However, it looks so yummy! I got a great deal on some white fish at Aldi this week. I got a bag of about 6 filets for $3.99. They were out of tilapia but I think these will work great. I will let you know what I think about Bobby Flay's Grilled Tilapia with Lemon Butter, Capers and Orzo (for dairy free, just substitue the butter for smart balance light and omit the cream). If you can find a similar deal on a white fish or tilapia, then you can make this meal for a family of four for around $7.00.
Here is a pic of Bobby Flay's meal that I made last night. It got rave reviews from my husband! Now, if you read the reviews from Foodnetwork.com they say that the written recipe is not the same as how Bobby does it on his show. I did it like the reviews said to do it (make a butter sauce). However, my guess is that he changed it up a bit since making a butter sauce is kind of finicky. The trick is to remove the pot from the heat and whisk in room temperature butter...one cube at a time so that it doesn't separate. Do not re-heat in the microwave. If you need to warm it up put it in a bowl over hot water.


This next idea I got from Rachael Ray's Neapolitan Baked Ziti. I had planned on just making regular spaghetti but then I saw this on her show and thought it looked really good and figured I could do something similar with baked spaghetti. You can make this for around $6.10!! AND, it makes two dinners for a family of four!!

Jazzed Up Baked Spaghetti
1 pound spaghetti (Cooked a couple minutes short of what the package says...noodles will continue to cook when you bake it.)
1/2 lb ground turkey or beef, cooked
2 tbsp EVOO
1 onion, finely chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped or use a microplane zester
seasonings (Use whatever seasonings you like in your spaghetti. I used about a tbsp of Italian seasoning and some extra basil because I LOVE basil.)
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes
S&P to taste
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 bay leaf
nutmeg, freshly grated
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 -1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Heat EVOO in a medium to large saucepan. Add the onions and sweat on low heat until they are translucent (do not brown). Add garlic and cook another minute. Add your seasonings (do not add the S&P yet). Let cook for another minute and then add the tomato paste. Stir and let cook for another minute. Then, add your tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Let simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

While the sauce is simmering, melt the butter in a small to medium saucepan. Once melted, add the flour and whisk until combined. Let it cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly add the milk while whisking (you can also heat the milk before adding it so you don't have to worry about adding it as slowly). Add the bay leaf, nutmeg and season with S&P. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to low and simmer until thick, stirring often. Remove the bay leaf.

Combine the pasta, beef and red sauce and place in a greased 9x13 casserole dish (I split mine into 2 8x8 so I could freeze one of them). Pour the white sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and then the parmesan cheese. Bake on 400 for 25 minutes. Then, place the oven on broil and broil for a couple of minutes until the top of the cheese is golden brown.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Whatever Wednesday: Dairy Free

I have been meaning to do a post like this on my personal life blog for a while now. My son is allergic to dairy products. We found out when he was around 4 or 5 months old (I can never keep up with dates). I was nursing him, so I had to cut all dairy and soy out of my diet. At the time, I was overwhelmed with all of it but was also willing to do anything to make him feel better and help improve his eczema. Now, we have introduced soy to him and he is doing great with it...Praise the Lord. However, we tried him on dairy when he was a year old and it was not good. He will be 2 in May and I am afraid to say that it will be a while before he grows out of his dairy allergy (if at all).

Well, recently a friend of mine found out that she has to go on a dairy free diet because of her sweet baby girl. So, that is the main reason that I am doing this post. I wanted to give her some information on cooking and eating out...dairy free. I figure I might as well post it for everyone just in case anyone else is going through this. Let me know if you have any questions about any other items or things. I might know the answer and just didn't post it on here. However, I might not know the answer but would be HAPPY to research it for you. It can be overwhelming at first.

Cooking meals at home is very easy. EVOO, soy milk, and Smart Balance Light (w/ EVOO or flaxseed) will become your friends. You can make just about any recipe with these three ingredients (unless it is something that contains cheese or creamed soups). I put soy milk in a lot of stuff from pancakes to mashed potatoes and have great results with it! Watch out for chicken and beef bouillon cubes. They contain milk (whey). So, always use canned chicken or beef broth. You will get SO good at reading labels that you just have to look at the label for a couple of seconds check for dairy. The wonderful thing about labels now is that most of them announce in bold letters if there is dairy in them. However, you should always double check for "hidden" dairy ingredients. If I am making pasta or a chicken dish that contains cheese, I will just take out some pasta and chicken (before adding dairy item) and put a dairy free sauce with it to serve it to Kael.

Here is a wonderful little cheat sheet that lists all of the "hidden" dairy ingredients AND it prints out on a business card size so that you can carry it in your purse or pocket...awesome!

This is also another favorite website of mine for dairy free information and recipes. However, their list of restaurant items that are dairy free are NOT always correct. So, I always go to the individual restaurant's website to double check.

Dairy free grocery store list: (These are items that you can find in your normal grocery store. There is a LOT more...this is just a short list)
Smart Balance Light (either w/ olive oil or flaxseed)
Fleischmann's Light margarine sticks
Oreos : )
Saltine crackers (Most crackers don't have dairy in them unless they are some kind of cheese or butter crackers. Except goldfish...ALL flavors of goldfish contain dairy.)
Wheat thins
Graham crackers
Teddy Grams
Soy yogurt

Potato chips and pretzels of course (as long as they aren't cheese flavored)
Duncan Hines brand of cake/brownie mix/frostings (even buttercream)
Orville Redenbacher's Simply Salted microwave popcorn
Arnold's sandwich bread (I was so excited when I found this. It is only $2 compared to the $4 and $5 that I was spending at Earth Fare. Now, I make my own bread which is much cheaper, but Arnold's is nice to have as a back up.)
Ghirardelli dark and semi-sweet chocolate chips Also, they have dark chocolate candy bars and dark and semi-sweet baking bars that do not contain milk. This is their allergy list.


Dairy Free restaurant food list
(Of course, ordered with no cheese if that applies and this is also not a complete list)
McDonald's: Quarter pounder, Southern style chicken sandwich ordered on either a honey wheat roll or sesame bun ( I love honey wheat roll with this), NO fries
Wendy's: Chicken nuggets and fries!
Chick-fil-a: NO meat, but you can eat their fries
Burger King: Chicken fries, whopper, french fries
Subway: any regular sub without cheese
Taco Bell: Spicy chicken soft taco or any fresco menu item
Little Caesar's: You can actually eat there pizza dough and sauce so just order a pizza with only veggies and no cheese...ugh ; ). Also, you can eat the crazy bread ordered with NO parmesan.
Zaxby's: fries
Red Robin: Burger and fries
Chili's:
This is not a good choice : ). You can eat a burger without the bun and no fries.
Barberito's (This is for you, Faith. I asked the Osbolt's.): You can totally eat a burrito just no cheese or dressing on it.
Hardee's: You can have grilled chicken or burger patty on a honey wheat bun.
Panera: Most of their sandwich bread (wheat, white) is dairy free so you can order a sandwich with no cheese.

Well, this is all for now. I will post more in the comments as I think of things. Let me know if anyone has specific restaurants, food items, etc. that you are wondering about!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

If you want to join, Menu Planning Monday, go here and post a link on "I'm an Organizing Junkie" to your MMP blog post!

Monday: Parmesan Crusted Salmon (I am probably going to add some bread crumbs and parsley to the cheese and top it with balsamic drizzle and pesto...recipe to follow) and Truffle Garlic Creamed Potatoes
Tuesday: Engagement Chicken with rice
Wednesday: Grilled Tilapia with lemon butter, capers and orzo
Thursday: Chicken Picatta with rice (I am using a combo of this recipe and a recipe that I have in a magazine.)
Friday: Spaghetti with meat sauce (recipe to come...)
Saturday: French Onion Salisbury Steak (Recipe to come...)
Sunday: Pizza

Talia's Pesto
In a food processor, blend:
1 cup fresh basil (or you can use cilantro during the winter...really good)
1/2 cup pecans (or you can use pine nuts but I prefer pecans)
5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup asiago cheese (or parmesan or a mixture of both)
coarse ground black pepper (about one tsp)
kosher salt

Gradually add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup EVOO until desired consistency (thick paste). You will want to taste and add salt and pepper as you like.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: AMAZING pizza dough

Ok...so just the other day I posted a pizza recipe that I got from my cooking classes. However, you have to let the dough rise overnight. I didn't plan ahead for tonight's pizza night so I had to find a different recipe. I am SO glad I did! I found a pizza dough recipe on allrecipes.com. It is seriously amazing!! I had to add more flour as some of the other people commented. I added about a half a cup more flour. Just add flour until the dough has formed into a good consistency. You want it to be a little sticky (just use flour on your hands). Also, I put mine in a warm oven (turn your oven on about 200 degrees for a few minutes and then turn it off) and covered it with a thin dish towel to let it rise. You just want the oven to be warm...not hot. The cost of two pizzas (cheese, garlic, pepperoni for toppings) is around $7.00!!!



Now, for a few things that you must do in order to make this pizza dough taste like pizza at a restaurant. First of all, make sure that the dough triples in size while rising before forming it into a pizza crust. Mine took about an hour but it will all depend on the weather that day. I also double this recipe to make two pizzas since my boys can down some pizza!

The other pretty important thing is to use a pizza stone. I have one large and one medium round stone from pampered chef. I used 3/4ths of the dough for the large and the rest for the medium. I promise that it will make a HUGE difference in the crust of your pizza. There is no need to spray the stone with non-stick spray. First, place your cold stones into the oven. Then, turn your oven on 425 degrees and let it pre-heat. While the stones are in the oven, form your dough into pizza crust shapes on a well floured surface. After the stones have been in the oven for about 20 minutes, remove them from the oven and sprinkle them with ground cornmeal. Ground cornmeal will allow your pizza dough to move freely on the stone. Immediately after pulling the stones from the oven and sprinkling with cornmeal, lift your pizza dough from the counter and move it to the stones. Note: when making two pizzas I pull one stone out of the oven at a time so that the other stone will stay hot while I am situating the dough on the other stone. The heated stone will help the bottom of the pizza to set. Don't worry if, when you lift the dough from the counter, you get a couple of holes in the dough. Once you place it onto the stone, you can reshape it and fill in the holes.

Next, brush the dough with some olive oil and whatever spices you like (italian seasoning or basil). Top with sauce. Then, put whatever toppings on the pizza that you want. For this pizza, I just used freshly grated garlic, large pepperoni slices, and lots of cheese! Bake at 450 for 6-8 minutes.

If you can find this kind of chunky crushed tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano then you will have the easiest and most delicious pizza sauce! The only thing I did was add a couple of tablespoons of EVOO. One 28oz can is plenty for two pizzas.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie to see other meal plans or to join in on the planning!

Sunday - Rachael Ray's Baked Shell Casserole
Monday - Hungry Girl's Crispy Chicken Sandwiches
(tastes like Chick-fil-a and is SO yummy!) and Rachael Ray's Crispy Oven Veggie Fries
Tuesday - Chicken Curry with rice (Recipe to come later this week)
Wednesday - leftover stuffed shell casserole
Thursday - Homemade Pizza (dough and sauce recipe to follow)
Friday - Greek Chicken with roasted potatoes and broccoli (Recipe to come later this week)
Saturday - Parmesan Crusted Chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes (Recipe to come later this week)


Pizza Dough
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp instant dry yeast
2 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup semolina flour
3 1/4 cups bread flour
2 tsp sea salt
To make the dough, add the lukewarm water to a large bowl, along with the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over top and wait until it dissolves. Pour in the olive oil, sprinkle in about half of the semolina flour and half of the bread flour and stir to combine. Then add the remaining flours and the salt. Stir a few times to combine the ingredients.

Use your hands to bring the dough together, and then turn it out onto the counter. Knead the dough for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until it feels and looks smooth.

Portion the dough and form each portion into a round. Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil. Coat the dough very lightly with olive oil and place into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it slow-rise overnight in the refrigerator (or at room temperature) until double in size.

Step 2: Shaping the Dough
1/4 cup coarse cornmeal (for sprinkling on pizza stone)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (for brushing on dough)
Place the pizza stone into a cold oven then preheat the oven to 450ยบ degrees Fahrenheit. Let the stone heat for at least 30 minutes before baking your first pizza.

Place a piece of room temperature dough onto a lightly floured counter. Press it flat into a round. Continue to press and turn the dough while stretching it. You can also hold the dough upright, rolling it between your fingers as you stretch it. The weight of the dough will help to stretch it.
Sprinkle the stone with cornmeal. Gently transfer the dough to the stone and proceed with your pizza recipe.

Two Pizza Sauces
1 can crushed tomato (15 ounces)
1 to 2 cloves Fresh garlic
1 tsp Salt
1 can whole tomatoes (15 ounces)
1 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
salt (to taste)
1 clove Fresh garlic
6 basil leafs
For a thicker sauce, with a more concentrated tomato flavor, use a can of quality crushed tomatoes (look at ingredients to make sure that the ONLY ingredient is tomatoes). Add a clove or two of thinly sliced garlic, a bit of salt and stir.

To make the second sauce, simply strain a can of whole tomatoes and crush them by hand. Add the olive oil, salt, garlic, and fresh basil and mix together.
 
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