Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chicken Sesame Pasta Salad

I had this at a baby shower last weekend and everyone there agreed that it was fantastic.

1 1/2 c. chicken, cooked and cut up
1 12-oz. bag pasta, cooked and drained (bowtie pasta is great)
1 bag baby spinach
1 green pepper, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 c. sliced almonds
3 T. sugar

Melt sugar over medium heat and add almonds. Stir until almonds are fully coated and sugar begins to crystallize. Combine all other ingredients in large bowl. Add almonds and dressing just prior to serving. Serves about 8.

1/2 c. oil
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. toasted sesame seeds
1/4 c. fresh parsley
2 T. sugar
salt and pepper

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Traditional Pizza Dough

Pizza (and breadsticks) Dough
1 1/2 C very warm water
1 packet yeast
1 t sugar
4 C flour
3 T olive oil
1 t salt

Combine warm water, yeast and sugar. Let stand for 5 min or until yeast foams. Gradually add flour. Add oil and salt. Knead for 5 min. Let rise for 30 min. Roll out dough. For breadsticks: After rolling out dough, prick with fork several times. Cook in 450 degree oven for 8 min. For pizza: After rolling out dough, top with sauce, cheese, and desired toppings. Cook in 450 degree oven for 10 - 12 min.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Two Reviews

Three enthusiastic thumbs up for Chicken Gyros and Honey Curry Chicken.

My three year-old ate both of them voraciously, as did my husband. They'll definitely be added to our dinner rotations!!!!

Thanks for posting!

"Classic Brownies"

I got this recipe from a Cook's Illustrated magazine that came in the mail one day. Have you ever seen America's Test Kitchen on PBS? The magazine is by those people. Anyway, this recipe is supposedly the ideal brownie, a "brownie to please everyone" -- "neither cakey nor fudgey." There's a whole article that preceedes the recipe about how the author achieved brownie perfection, but I'll just give you the recipe. For quite a while we were working our way through a stash of Betty Crocker box brownies, but once we ran out I decided to see if this recipe was all it claimed to be. This was the first time I'd ever made brownies with real baking chocolate, and I liked how they turned out. Sometime I'll try the cocoa powder+shortening substitution and see if it makes a difference. Anyway, this recipe is definitely more work than brownies from a box, but not tons more, and I decided after making them twice that they really are quite good. Now I wonder what others think (since my husband likes most anything).

Be sure to test for doneness before removing the brownies form the oven. If underbaked (the toothpick has batter clinging to it), the texture of the brownies will be dense and gummy; if overbaked (the toothpick comes out completely clean), the brownies will be dry and cakey. (This is their disclaimer, by the way.)

1 cup (4 oz.) pecans or walnuts, chopped medium (optional)
1 1/4 cups (5 oz.) cake flour (but I did an all-purpose conversion: 1 c. + 1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour. You're welcome.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine (next time I make these I'm going to try them with less chocolate, just to see)
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length of foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. (Okay, this didn't make any sense to me (I needed a picture to understand what they were talking about) so I just line the pan with foil. I think that's all they're going for.) Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.
4. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When cocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.
5. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies tin 2-inch squares and serve. (Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

Pizza Crust

In response to Liz's request, here's the pizza crust recipe that I use. I've had really bad luck with pizza crust. The recipes I tried always came out break-your-teeth hard, and I'm not sure if it was me or the recipe that made it bad. Anyway, this is the recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook, and it hasn't failed me yet, although I'm sure there are better ones out there. I've had no trouble doubling or dividing this recipe, and it still comes out pretty well even when I don't have time to "let it rest" for 30 minutes. I haven't tried it with whole wheat flour, but I'm sure it would be great. Oh, and you really don't even need an electric mixer. If I don't feel like cleaning my mixer, I just do it by hand and it works out just fine!

2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 Tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 cup very warm water (120 to 130 degrees F)

In a large bowl, mix 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast. Add oil and warm water. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves sides of bowl. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead 5-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes. Continue as directed below for thin crusts or thick crusts.

For thin crusts: Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease 2 cookie sheets or 12-inch pizza pans with oil. Divide dough in half. Pat each half into 12-inch circle on cookie sheets. Partially bake 7 to 8 minutes or until crust just begins to brown. Add toppings and bake as directed (8-10 minutes at 425). (I usually do the thin crust, but I just press it out with my hands to cover an entire cookie sheet or two instead of doing circles. I also don't partially bake it before topping it. I just put everything on and bake it for 15-20 minutes.)

For thick crusts: Grease two 8-inch square pans or 9-inch round pans with oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Divide dough in half. Pat each half in bottom of pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 30-45 minutes or until almost doubled in size. Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Partially bake 20-22 minutes or until crust just begins to brown. Add toppings and bake as directed (20 minutes at 375). (I've only done this version once, and it was too thick for my taste. Way more crust than pizza!)

I'd like to try some new crust recipes too, so I hope some of you have recipes to add!

REQUEST: Pizza Crust

Do any of you have a killer pizza crust recipe?  Bonus if you can make it in a bread machine.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thanks Alicia!

Just wanted to give two, big, fat thumbs up to this yummy soup. It truly was yummy.

my Fettuccine Paolo

• 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
• 1 broccoli crown
• 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
• 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
• 8 oz whole wheat fettuccine, cooked according to package directions
• 1 1/3 cups chicken stock or broth
• 4 tsp balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp dried basil
• 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken (I used left over crockpot chicken)
• parmesan cheese
• salt and pepper

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add red bell pepper and broccoli, cook until tender. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add stock/broth and vinegar, chicken, and basil bring to a boil, and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Add fettuccine. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm and serve with parmesan.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wheat Bread

Well, I guess when it rains recipes, it pours recipes. =)

I'll preface this by saying that I'm not good at making bread. AT. ALL. But I can make THIS bread turn out really nicely. That's sayin' something, folks.


2 1/2 cups warm-to-hot water
1 1/2 T. yeast
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
2 t. salt
2 T gluten
3 cups white flour
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Mix yeast with water. Add the oil and honey. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Add 1 cup white flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, gluten, and salt. Stir to combine--work out the lumps.

Add the rest of the flour until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. Turn onto floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes.

Divide into 2 balls. Form loaves and put into greased pans. Place into warm oven (the lowest temperature on my oven is 170, and this works just fine) for 40-45 minutes until dough doubles in size.

Turn the oven to 350 and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Bread is done when it sounds hollow when you tap on the top.

(credit for this recipe goes to the wife of my husband's freshman roommate....who's blog I stalk....There. It's all out in the open). =)

Canneloni, My Old Faithful

This is a best friend of a recipe. This is my go-to guy. This is what you will receive from me if you're sick or just had a baby. Toss a little garlic french bread, salad and corn with it and you're golden. It's great for kids-nothing they're offended by. Also meatless, so again, it makes it unoffensive to people. It doubles nicely and reheats like a dream. It's just an all around good guy to have around.

With that introduction, I present to you:


16 oz cottage cheese
2 T butter
1 egg (even when doubling)
8 oz cream cheese
2 T chopped green onions-I always leave these out. But just so you know that the recipe calls for them
8-10 flour tortillas
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 small can sliced mushrooms

I also add a little Parmesan cheese and basil to the filling mix. Recipe doesn't call for it, but I'm a wild kind of gal. :)

Kay, and I'll also be honest again-I use varying amounts and ratios of cottage cheese and cream cheese. Just as long as the filling isn't too runny, you're in good shape.

Grease a 13x9. Blend cheeses, butter and egg (and parmesan and basil and onion, if you want). Spread down the center of a tortilla, then roll. Place seam side down in pan. Spread spaghetti sauce over the whole thing. Sprinkle with canned mushrooms-again, if your family isn't offended by such a thing. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Note on the next few recipes / Request

So my almost-2-year-old daughter has a serious sweet tooth. (I wonder where she gets it from!) I have been searching lately for recipes for sweets (cookies, muffins, etc.) that contain little or no sugar, and little to no butter or oil. One source that has been helpful is the book Better Baby Food: Your Essential Guide to Nutrition, Feeding and Cooking for All Babies and Toddlers by Daina Kalnins and Joanne Saab. I'm posting here a few of the recipes I've found (some from that book and some from other sources): sweet treats that I also enjoy, and that I don't feel guilty about eating or feeding to my toddler.

I've been making tons of muffins. I've found that they freeze very well; I typically have a bag of muffins in the freezer so that I can pop one in the microwave for 30 seconds and have a quick snack or breakfast. If anyone is interested in more muffin recipes than these (I've posted two), let me know and I'll be happy to pass on some of the other keepers I've found.

If you have any other recipes for healthy snacks and treats (preferably toddler-friendly), please post them! I'd love to see them...

Apple-Raisin Muffins

(adapted from Daina Kalnins & Joanne Saab)

1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. applesauce
1/4 c. oil
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. raisins
3/4 apples, peeled and diced

Mix together the brown sugar, applesauce, oil, egg, and vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Fold in the apples and raisins. Use an ice-cream scoop to place scoops of the mixture into muffin tins that have been lightly sprayed with cooking spray (or lined with paper liners). Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Makes 12.

(Note: I loved these muffins. They're super-moist and I love the apples in them.)

Cranberry-Banana Cookies

(adapted from Daina Kalnins & Joanne Saab)

1/2 c. dried cranberries
1 mashed banana
1/3 c. butter
1/4 c. apple juice
1 egg
1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. oats
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. baking soda.

Mix together the banana, butter, apple juice, egg and vanilla. Add the oats, flour, brown sugar, and baking soda. Fold in the cranberries. Place mounds on baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

(VARIATION: Today I made these using peanut butter instead of butter, and dark chocolate chips instead of cranberries. They came out pretty good [certainly not Toll House, but not bad for a healthy cookie], and were totally butter/oil-free!)

Applesauce-Bran Muffins

1 1/4 c. flour
1 c. bran
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. baking powder
3/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. applesauce
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. oil
1 egg
1/2 c. raisins (or more, or optional)

Mix together the applesauce, milk, oil, and egg. Add the flour, bran, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Fold in raisins. Use an ice cream scoop to place scoops of the mixture into a muffin tin that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray (or lined with paper liners). Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes.

(Note: I like to add little "extras" to these muffins to give them some extra nutritional punch. I usually add 3 T. flaxseed to the mixture (or 3 T. wheat germ). Sometimes I use half regular flour and half whole-wheat flour. I have learned, though, that if I increase the amount of "roughage" I need to also add some extra applesauce to keep the mixture from getting too dense and dry.)

Crispy Rice Treats

(from Ellie Krieger)


* 1/2 cup honey
* 1/2 cup natural chunky-style peanut butter
* 6 cups crispy brown rice cereal
* 2/3 cup chopped dried cherries (3 ounces)
* Cooking spray


Combine honey and peanut butter in a large pot and heat over medium-low heat until melted, about 2-3 minutes. Add brown rice cereal and cherries and stir to combine until mixture is sticky. Press into a 9 by 13-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Let cool, then chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Cut into 15 (2 1/2 by 3-inch) squares.

(Note: This is a relatively healthy way to satisfy a craving for sweets. Although, I have been known to throw in a couple of handfuls of dark chocolate chips into the mixture as well :) )