Monday, January 16, 2012
First of all, please excuse my horrendous picture! We seldom eat dinner much before 6 or 7pm and by that point, the lighting is AWFUL! This pizza, however, was anything but "awful"--talk about a huge hit at my house! The kids both said that they preferred it to any pizza they had tried out--of course part of that could have been that they were involved in the whole process :) The recipe was a little unusual for me, because the dough was actually made in my food processor--as opposed to my mixer. It was so very easy to make the dough and for that matter, the actual pizza making process was simple, as well! The downside: you have to make the dough ahead of time and then wait at least 24 hours (but preferably 48-72 hrs) to make your pizza, so the dough sits in your refrigerator taunting you for a while! Trust me, it was well worth the wait and honestly-speaking, it was much easier in the long-run to divide the work. I contemplated making this recipe back in March when we had our kids' pizza-making birthday party, but didn't realize that the recipe required allowing the dough to sit for at least 24 hours...oops! We really enjoyed the dough that we used for the party, but this was equally as delicious! I made the homemade sauce that I made for their party, which is SUPER simple to throw together and freezes well if you have excess. The single recipe makes (2) 13-inch pizzas and it seemed much more filling than take-out pizza. We did struggle a little to get it as thin as we wanted and I'm wondering if it wouldn't have been easier, had we allowed the dough to sit in the refrigerator an extra day??? (I believe the dough was in there for approximately 30 hours). While the recipe calls only for cheese, we added some pepperoni and I would definitely do that again! Our pizzas were done in about 10 minutes and I served them with salad. We had about 3/4 of a pizza left, after the four of us ate, and trust me when I tell you...we're all good eaters!
Thin Crust Pizza
Yield: 2 13-inch pizzas
For the crust:
3 cups (16½ oz.) bread flour
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. instant yeast
1 1/3 cups ice water
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1½ tsp. salt
For the sauce:
1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. red wine vinegar (I was all out, so I used Balsamic vinegar)
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Olive oil, for brushing
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella
To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a food processor* fitted with the metal blade. Pulse just to combine. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube and process just until the dough is combined and all dry ingredients are incorporated, about 10 seconds. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
Add the oil and salt to the dough. Process until the dough forms a smooth, tacky ball that clears the sides of the bowl, about 30-60 seconds. Remove the dough from the bowl, knead briefly on a lightly oiled work surface, about 1 minute. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. (After the period of refrigeration, the dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for later use.)
To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to use.
One hour before baking the pizza, adjust an oven rack to the second highest position and place a baking stone on the rack to preheat. Preheat the oven to 500˚ F. Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. (If you plan to freeze a portion of the dough, this is the time to wrap in plastic, place in a freezer bag and freeze for later use.) Form each half into a ball and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Spray the dough balls lightly with cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
To assemble the pizza, transfer a dough ball to a well floured work surface. Flatten into an 8-inch disk, leaving a slightly thicker edge around the rim. Using your hands, gently stretch the dough to a 12-inch circle. (We used a rolling pin, per Annie's suggestion, to get the crust thin enough.) Transfer the dough to a well floured pizza peel and stretch to a 13-inch circle. (We don't have a pizza peel, nor do I know what one is, so I left Marcus in charge of stretching the pizza out as best as he could!) Lightly brush the thicker edge of the disk with olive oil. Spread ½ cup of the pizza sauce over the dough. Sprinkle evenly with the grated Parmesan and the shredded mozzarella. Carefully transfer the pizza to the preheated baking stone. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
*This dough can also be made in a stand mixer or by hand. Keep in mind, the idea is to avoid warming the dough, so a food processor or mixer is optimal.
Source: Annie's Eats
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Believe it or not, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth! "Craziness" is too mild of a word to describe my life at the moment. My husband just completed his first semester of nursing school, but throughout the course of the semester, meal-planning was a bit challenging. Last semester, he worked (2) night shifts and I've been trying to pick up as many shifts as possible at the hospital, in addition to raising two very active little ones! Not only has it been difficult to muster up the energy to cook, but it's hard to experiment much while living on such a strict budget. I've become quite the little "couponer" and find that most everything I purchase is purchased almost exclusively with coupons (aside from meat and produce, of course), which doesn't always give me much to work with! This coming semester appears as if it will be a little easier, primarily because my husband will only be going to school 2 days/week for the first 8 weeks and he'll be able to work (2) day shifts. The problem, though, is that even when he and I work day shifts, it means we don't get home until at least 8-8:30pm, so we're generally looking for very quick meal ideas! This particular recipe was perfect for last night! I defrosted a package of perch fillets and I'm not exaggerating when I say that between prep and cooking time, my meal was complete in 15 minutes! That gave my husband just enough time to put the kids to bed and take a quick shower, so we could both enjoy a meal together at the end of a very long day! (I forgot to mention that I spent probably close to 6 hours at three different grocery stores with my 3 year old...enough said!) While I do generally prefer a more "crisp" coating, it was very tasty and certainly more healthy than frying. We will definitely make this again!
I hope everyone had a very nice holiday season! Wishing all of you a very Happy (and healthy) New Year!!! Oh, and just as a little side note...my sister, Sarah, just started a new blog--make sure to check it out! (Amateur Foodie)
Oven Fried Perch
1 lb Perch Fillets
2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese - grated
1/2 Cup Dry Bread Crumbs
1/2 Tsp. Thyme
1/4 Cup Milk
1 Tbsp. Margarine, melted
Combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and thyme in a shallow bowl. Dip perch fillets in milk and then coat each fillet with bread crumb mixture. Lay in single layer on greased shallow baking pan. Drizzle with melted margarine. Bake in oven at 450 degrees for approximately 10 or until perch flakes easily with a fork.
***Serves 2*** (Perfect for a late night meal for my husband and I, but definitely not enough food for more than 2 people, so make sure you adjust your ingredients accordingly!)
Saturday, September 17, 2011
I LOVE avocados and look for any excuse to incorporate them into a recipe or meal! We seldom have a family get-together that does not include a giant bowl of my Mom's guacamole, which is absolutely to die for!!! Personally, I love to slice avocados and serve them with most any type of sandwich--especially a nice, grilled chicken sandwich! Plus, you can never go wrong with a refreshing bowl of Avocado-Corn Salsa or adding chunks of avocados to quesadillas! My mouth is watering just thinking about the endless possibilities! What I love most about avocados is that not only do they enhance everything they are incorporated into, but they are exceptionally good for you! One-fifth of a medium avocado (1 oz) has just 50 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, making it a nutrient-dense food choice. They're also wonderful in the sense that that they contribute to the "good fats" in one's diet. Over 75% of the fat in avocados is unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), making them a great substitute for foods high in saturated fat.
(1) A weekly sweepstakes where they will give away a box of avocados for 14 consecutive weeks! Every week during the course of the campaign, a box of Fresh Haas Avocados will be given away to one lucky winner. That's 14 chances to win!!!!
(2) A recipe contest where the winner will win a trip for FOUR people to the Rose Bowl Game ®! (This trip includes round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, participation in a Rose Bowl Game ® Welcome Reception, admission to the "behind-the-scene" Rose Bowl Parade decorating site, sightseeing tour of Pasadena, admission to the Rose Bowl Game ® on January 2, 2012 and more!!!) Just enter your Avocado Game Day Recipe in the contest and a screenshot of your contest entry in your post, if possible...it's as easy as that!
***For more information on how the winner is chosen, be sure to check out their Facebook page!***
I would very much encourage everyone to sign up (on the contest site) to receive free emails with recipe ideas and nutrition information--you'll receive great ideas once per month! If you enjoy avocados as much as I do, you may also want to check out these avocado recipes and tailgating tips and recipes! Enjoy!
Friday, July 22, 2011
Yet again, I have gone quite a long stretch without blogging, but things have been SUPER busy around here. My husband has officially been accepted into nursing school (and will start next month)--it's been quite a long journey, but there's FINALLY a light at the end of the tunnel! He'll graduate in May 2013 and I couldn't possibly be anymore excited--just two more years and then hopefully we can return to some degree of normalcy! He's taking two summer courses (both of which have required an ungodly amount of time), while we both work as much as possible and spend time with our two crazy little kids! Due to the fact that we're always running in different directions and we both work long shifts at the hospital (and get home generally after the kids are in bed), we haven't really had anything too fancy...hotdogs, pizza and tacos have been making regular appearances on my weekly menus, as have those quick, frozen skillet meals! Starting this Fall, I will be home Monday through Friday (and working weekends exclusively), so I will have MUCH more time to cook and experiment with new recipes--especially since my son will be going to school all day, starting this year, and it will just be my daughter and I home during the day. Bless her heart, she's got quite a little sweet tooth, so I'm sure you'll see an increase in my dessert posts, as well!
As for my recipe, I must admit...if I had my way, I normally would prefer to have my husband grill split chicken breasts! He always manages to cook them perfectly and I just prefer that "grilled" taste. Unfortunately, the night we made these, I knew he wouldn't be home until close to 8pm and since I had to be up for work at 4:30am, I didn't want to eat dinner too late. I generally don't have the best luck preparing baked chicken, especially bone-in chicken breasts...they tend to be on the drier side and not overly flavorful. This recipe, however, was the PERFECT alternative to grilling and will come in most handy in the winter. It took all of 5 minutes to prepare the chicken and while the original recipe stated that you should bake them for 1 hr to 1 hour and 15 minutes, I found ours to be fully-cooked after approximately 45 min. (Definitely watch them carefully!) I seasoned each breast very generously, with each of the seasonings and they were bursting with flavor and were so moist, that the juices immediately flowed out upon cutting into them. While I think the leftovers would be great reheated on a low oven, I'm actually looking forward to cutting them up and making a nice, hearty salad...sounds like a refreshing, light meal idea with this intense heat! I hope everyone is staying cool and enjoying their summer!
Super Simple Chicken
4 bone-in chicken breast halves, with skin
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Place chicken breasts in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Add lemon juice to bottom of dish. Dot each breast with 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine, then season each breast generously, with each of the above seasonings.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 1 hour. (Make sure to check around 45min to avoid over-cooking!)
Source: Adapted from Allrecipes.com
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Grocery shopping has become one of my ultimate frustrations lately, as the prices of fresh meat/poultry/fish are nauseating! We've about had our fill of chicken, so I spent a little more than I normally would on a family-sized package of center cut pork loin chops. I figured the pork would be a bit healthier than red meat and ever since I tried breaded pork chops not that long ago, I have been in search of other variations. I realize I just posted a Parmesan Baked Perch recipe, so I apologize for the back-to-back "Parmesan-themed recipes", but I knew I couldn't go wrong with a recipe from Giada! My husband and I both felt that this recipe was a keeper and my son loved these chops so much that he even requested a second one! This is definitely another great, quick, weeknight meal!
Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops
2 large eggs
1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan
4 (1/2 to 3/4 inch thick) center cut pork loin chops
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
*optional lemon wedges for serving*
Whisk the eggs in a shallow bowl to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another shallow bowl or plate. Place the parmesan cheese in a third shallow bowl or plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the egg, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to a plate and serve with lemon wedges.
Source: Giada De Laurentiis (Foodnetwork.com)
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Well, I went grocery shopping the other day and as usual, only chicken was on sale, so as I was attempting to make room in my freezer for the random frozen items I purchased, I found a bag of perch. By no means am I a "food snob", but I'm finding it quite difficult to find frozen fish that I really enjoy. The bottom line is that nothing beats fresh fish--it's just hard to rationalize spending $7-$10/lb, while on a budget! I'm hoping against hope that trout or salmon goes on sale in the near future--not only because I'm desperately craving them, but because I have a couple of REALLY good recipes to share and they won't be near as good on frozen fish. As far as this recipe is concerned, I actually was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful the fish was and it was SO easy! Another recipe I will be adding to my rotation, especially when I'm in need of a quick weeknight meal!
Baked Parmesan Perch
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
1 pound perch or fish fillets of your choice
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, paprika, oregano and lemon pepper seasoning. Brush fish fillets with butter, then dip into the crumb mixture. Place in a greased baking pan. bake, uncovered, at 500 degrees F for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com
Monday, May 9, 2011
First of all, I seriously have every intention of posting some beef recipes just as soon as our local stores have reasonable prices! I can't quite psych myself up to spend $3/lb for regular ground beef...not even ground chuck! Even chuck roast has been $4-ish a pound...RIDICULOUS! Chicken happens to be the only thing on sale these days and I have to stick to my budget! I am so very proud to announce that my husband got straight A's this semester, so this was our celebratory meal in his honor :) Now, we just have to wait another few weeks to find out if he gets accepted into nursing school to start this Fall. If he receives an acceptance letter, I'm most definitely splurging on some good steaks!!! I also will remain on the hunt for quick weeknight meal ideas, because I'm hoping to work a ton to sock away money for next semester--if anyone has any ideas, please do share!
As for this recipe, I found it to be very simple to prepare and was a huge hit with my family. My husband polished off his plate and I think he took the leftovers for work today and my son requested seconds the night I prepared it. I followed the basic recipe on allrecipes.com, but tweaked it a bit. Would definitely make it the very same way next time! If you enjoy garlic and Italian-style food, this recipe will be right up your alley! (Oh, and did I mention that from start to finish, it took all of 25 minutes?!?)
1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins (I happened to use these, because they were on sale for the same price as the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but you could actually just use the boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them into 1 inch wide strips)
In a large skillet, heat the butter or margarine and oil over medium high heat, until the butter/margarine melts. Add the parsley, oregano, garlic and salt and mix together in the skillet. Stir in lemon juice and white wine.
Add the chicken and saute for about 3-4 minutes or until chicken turns white on the outside. Lower the heat and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear. (Watch the chicken carefully...mine was done in closer to 10 minutes). ***Also, you may have to add additional butter/margarine, while the chicken is cooking--I added an extra 1/2 stick***
Serve over pasta or rice. I used one pound of thin spaghetti, because I didn't have any angel hair on hand--this was more than enough for my family of 4.
Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com