Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chicken Marsala

You don't need to go to a restaurant to get Chicken Marsala. You can make it right at home, it's easier than you think.

1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
6 boneless thinly sliced chicken breasts (1 ½ pounds)
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp butter, divided
sliced Baby Bella mushrooms (8 ounce package from the store)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 cup marsala or slightly sweet white wine
1 Tbsp lemon juice
handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Mix flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Lightly coat the chicken with the mixture.

Heat the olive oil with 2 tablespoons of the butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 pieces of chicken. Cook about 5 minutes, turning once, or until lightly browned and fully cooked in the center. Remove the chicken from the skillet; keep warm by covering with a piece of foil. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Return the skillet to the burner and add another Tbsp of butter. Once the butter melts, add the mushrooms and oregano; cook until mushrooms are softened, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in marsala wine and lemon juice to the pan. Bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and cook for 2 minutes. Add the parsley and remove from heat. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.

Tip: Buy already washed and sliced mushrooms from the store to save time. If you can't find, buy whole ones. When cleaning mushrooms, don't rinse right under the water or soak. Mushrooms absorb a lot of water and can become tough. Just lightly wipe with a damp towel.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Orange-glazed Salmon

This is another recipe from Cuisine at Home. It has a nice mix of sweet and spicy. The salmon fillets are rubbed with cajun spices, but the glaze is made with orange marmalade.

1 and 1/2 Tbsp Cajun or Creole Seasoning (can be found at the grocery store)
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp Kosher salt
2 salmon fillets (6 ounces each), skins and bones removed (most stores sell the salmon already de-boned, but ask the seafood counter to remove the skin for you)
1/8 cup orange marmalade
1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

In a small bowl, combine cajun spice, sugar and salt. Rub all over the salmon fillets. Heat the oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, saute the fillets for 3 minutes. Turn and saute for another 3 minutes.

While the salmon is cooking, blend the orange marmalade and lime juice together. Add to the pan, swirl until the mixture melts. Carefully turn the fish to glaze on all sides. Fish is done when it begins to flake when tested with a fork.

Remove from the pan, garnish with a lime wedge and enjoy! Serves two.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pork Tenderloin Diane

This recipe may sound fancy, and you can find it on many restaurant menus, but I assure you it is very doable. The pork tenderloin was a great piece of meat; very lean, moist and tender. This particular recipe is from the magazine, Cuisine at Home.

3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. brandy (optional; I didn't use it because I didn't have any and didn't feel like buying any)
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut at an angle into 1 and 1/2 thick pieces, roughly 8 pieces) salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

In a food processor or blender, blend the broth, onion, garlic, brandy (if using), dijon mustard, Worcestershire and tomato paste until onion is minced. Set aside.

Trim the pork tenderloin of any excess fat. This is very easy to do and the fat comes off very easily. Just slide a knife under it and gently pull it off. Once it is trimmed, cut it an angle into 1 and 1/2 thick slices. You should get 8 pieces, enough for four servings. See the picture below.

See how lean the pork tenderloin is? It almost looks like beef. Hey, check out my fat fingers!

Now, season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high to high heat. Add the cutlets and sear for 3 minutes on each side or until a nice brown crust forms, see below. If using a stainless steel pan, make sure there is enough oil in the pan. You may need to add more once you flip the pork over to brown the second side. (I pretty much smoked out my house. I am surprised the smoke alarm didn't go off, which might be a sign that I need to change the batteries.)

See the smoke? Lovely. Learn from my experience, add more oil to the pan. Do you see how dry mine is? But hey, this is my first time with the recipe, so it sometimes take a couple of tries to perfect the process. Has a nice crust to it though, and searing the meat locks in all the juices.

Once browned, remove the tenderloin pieces from the pan and keep warm. Add the broth mixture to the pan, scraping up any brown bits. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Retun pork to the pan along with any drippings; simmer to warm through. Season to taste, spooning sauce over cutlets.
Sorry I don't have a picture of the finished product. By the time I de-smoked the house and finished the dish I just wanted to eat it. Even though I had a little mishap, the dish still came out very good. The pork was juicy and tender. The sauce was delicious. I definitely will add it to the rotation.
I served this with smashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

My New Kitchen Appliance

I finally got a new coffeemaker and I am so excited. My previous coffeemaker was a coffeemaker/cappuccino maker and it was just too big. I needed that little bit of extra counterspace so I got a regular coffeemaker. Plus, I never used the cappuccino side, not even once. I got a black/stainless steel Black & Decker coffeemaker that has a program feature to auto-brew and it shuts off automatically. This machine was made for a person with OCD, because it has a thermal pot, once the coffee brews it shuts off right away. No warmer is needed. First, the people at Revlon made my automatic shut-off flat iron and now the Black & Decker people make an auto-shut off coffeemaker? This is awesome! Two less rituals to perfom in the morning now. (Who am I kidding? I'm still going to check that both our unplugged before I leave the house.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stuffed Turkey Burgers

Tonight I made stuffed turkey burgers with mozzarella cheese and roasted red peppers. This really gets my mind going thinking about other possibilities for stuffed burgers.

1 package of ground turkey
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 Tbsp grill seasoning, like McCormick Grillmates
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
salt and pepper
4 kaiser rolls
mixed greens for topping the burgers

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, poultry seasoning, grill seasoning and garlic. Mix well, but be careful not to overwork. Divide the mixture into 4 equal parts. Then divide each part in two forming a total of 8 parts into patties. Divide the cheese and roasted red peppers among 4 of the patties. Top each with a remaining patty. Work around the turkey to seal the edges of the burger. Season the top of the burgers with salt and pepper.

Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Spray with PAM. Place the patties on the grill and cook for 5 minutes per side. Toast the rolls under a broiler or in a toaster oven. Place a turkey burger on each roll. Top with mixed greens.

I think next time I am going to make a basil mayo or aoli for the burgers. But regular mayo works just fine.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chicken and Portabello Fajitas

Tonight, I made chicken fajitas for dinner. Pretty basic, I just use one of those McCormick fajita seasoning packets, but it is so easy and yummy. My mom used to make this when I was a kid and I loved it, still do. Sliced portabello adds extra flavor and meatiness.

2 Tbsps oil
1 lb. chicken breasts, thinly sliced (I was able to find a package of chicken at Publix that was already thinly sliced and labeled for fajitas, how convenient)
1/2 of a large white onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 package of pre-sliced portabello mushroom
McCormick Fajita seasoning packet
1/4 water
salt and pepper to taste
flour tortillas
shredded chedder and monterey jack cheese
sour cream

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan, season with salt and pepper. Sautee until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan onto the plate. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan. Add the green pepper and onion to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook for a minute or two, then add the portabello. Let cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken back to the pan, the water and seasoning packet. Turn the heat down to medium and let cook for a couple more minutes to warm through. I like to warm my tortillas before building the fajita. Just layer the tortillas with paper towel, alternating between a tortilla and a sheet of paper towel. Cover the final tortilla with a paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Fill the tortilla with some of the filling. Top with cheese and sour cream. Other toppings can be guacamole or salsa.

If you want to make yours spicier, add a little cracked red pepper or hot sauce to the filling in the final stages of the cooking process.

My Plates Were on TV

As we were watching Reaper on television tonight I noticed in a scene they were using the same plates I have. I guess that is what happens when you shop at Target. In fact, I've seen my shower curtain featured on television more than once. It's just always funny to see your stuff on TV.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Baked Shrimp in Tomatoes

This dish is a new one I tried inspired by a recipe in Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave. It is shrimp baked in tomatoes with fresh dill and parsley, topped with feta cheese.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes (no salt added if you can find it)
a couple pinches of cracked red pepper (optional; I added it for a little heat)
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp minced fresh dill
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the olive oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and cracked red pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 5 minutes, until the tomato juices thicken.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, dill and shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the feta cheese over the top. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through and the cheese melts, about 12 minutes. Serves 4.

I served this dish over orzo pasta. Use 1/2 a box (8 ounces or 1/2 a pound) for 4 servings. You could also serve this over rice.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Marinated Flank Steak

I apologize for being M.I.A. recently. I had a busy week of late meetings and volunteering at a local art festival, so I haven't cooked since Tuesday. But, I am back on track now and have some great dishes lined up for this week. Tonight I am making a flank steak, which has been marinating all day. I am going to grill it and top it with a basil sauce. Flank steak is a great piece of meat to make because it isn't fatty and it is very affordable.

For the steak:
1 flank steak (about 1.5 to 2 lbs.)
salt and pepper
the juice of two limes
balsamic vinegar, I eyeballed it, but probably about a 1/4 cup
2 gloves of garlic, pushed through a garlic press
olive oil

Season the steak well with salt and pepper. Place in a large sealable plastic bag. In a small bowl, mix the lime juice, vinegar and garlic. Slowly stream in some olive oil while whisking. Again, I eyeballed it. This is not a science, but I probably used a couple tablespoons. Pour the marinade into the bag, seal and toss around. Let marinate for a couple of hours in the fridge.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Spray the pan with PAM. Place the steak in the pan and grill on each side for 7 minutes for medium-rare, depending on the thickness of the meat. Mine was about 3/4 of an inch to one inch thick. If you like your steak more done, than cook it a little bit longer. Remove the steak from the pan to a plate. Let rest for at least 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute. If you cut into it immediately all of the juices will pour out and the steak will be dry. Once rested, thinly slice it across the grain. The grain is the muscle tissue of the meat. It is the lines that run lengthwise along the meat. Cutting against it, or perpendicular, makes it more tender and easier to chew.

For the sauce:
1 cup basil
2 cloves of garlic
pinch of cracked red pepper
olive oil

In a food processor, pulse the basil, garlic and red pepper until finely chopped. Turn the food processor on again and stream in olive oil until it reaches a sauce-like consistency. Pour a little over the warm steak.

I served this dinner with a Caesar salad and baked potato (for my husband) and a sweet potato (for me). I had leftover meat, so I plan to pack steak caesar salads for my and my husband's lunch tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Comment Moderation

I recently changed the settings for posting comments in order to make it easier for readers to post comments. Well, it only took a few days for spammers to start leaving comments. I have changed the settings once again and now will review comments before they're posted. So, if you leave a comment and don't it see posted right away this is the reason. I'll see how this goes over. I do encourage interaction by my followers and readers, and I want to make it easier. However, I don't want spammers clogging my posts with their sales pitches. I urge you to continue posting comments and once I review and determine you're not a spammer I will approve it. As always, thank you for reading!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nothing Says St. Patty's Day Like Corned Beef

My mom always makes corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day. It's a tradition I grew up with, so this year I made it for the first time. It is so easy, you just throw into a slow cooker, and let it cook all day. I didn't make cabbage because my husband really doesn't like it.

I bought an already seasoned corned beef. Mine was a little over 2 pounds. It already has the pickling spices like mustard seed, peppercorns and cloves. Throw the beef into a slow cooker and cover with water. I added 2 bay leaves and a little more mustard seed. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. (Heads up - the meat will shrink a bit.)

Remove the corned beef from the cooker and onto a plate. Slice the beef. It will be so tender, it will just fall apart. I served mine with boiled potatoes.

Leftovers make great sandwiches... Reuben sandwiches!

Vegetarian Paninis

Here is another one of my panini recipes. This one features grilled portabello and zucchini, which I marinated first, provolone cheese and a sundried tomato pesto. And tomorrow I plan to use the remaining pesto on some pasta. Double duty again ladies. That's how I roll.

For the panini
4 slices of hearty, multigrain bread
2 slices provolone cheese
2 Tbsp prepared sundried tomato pesto (see below)
2 portabello mushrooms
1 zucchini, cut in half and then thinly sliced, but not paper thin
balsamic vinegar (eyeball it, enough to coat the veggies)
olive oil (same as the vinegar)
1 tsp dried oregano
2 small cloves of garlic, minced or run through a press
salt and pepper

In a large plastic bag, place the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the portabellos and zucchini to the bag. Toss around to coat. Allow to marinate for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the sundried tomato pesto.

Remove the vegetables from the bag and dab-off some of the excess liquid. Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Spray with Pam. Place the vegetables on the pan and cook until tender, flipping halfway through, about 10 minutes.

The mushrooms will release a lot of liquid, so place on some paper towels to drain a bit. Now to build the sandwich: first, take two slices of bread and drizzle with olive oil, flip over; next, place a piece of provolone on each; then the zucchini and mushroom; next, take two more pieces of bread and spread with an even layer of pesto; flip the bread, pesto side down onto the mushroom; lastly, drizzle the top piece of bread with olive oil. Place the sandwich on a hot panini press until golden brown.

If you don't have a panini press, you can place in a hot pan and weigh it down with another pan, then flip to cook the other side. (I suggest purchasing a panini press. I love mine.)

For the Sundried Tomato Pesto
1 cup sundried tomatoes, in oil
1 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup basil
1/2 cup parmesan
3 garlic cloves
3/4 cup olive oil (I used some of the sundried tomato oil)

Toast the pine nuts in a pan over medium heat until golden brown. Place all the ingredients, except the olive oil into a food processor and blend until all the ingredients are finely chopped. Now, while the processor is turned on, slowly stream in the oil, until well incorporated.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Honey Mustard Salmon

This is a new recipe I tried out tonight. It is courtesy of Robin Miller, host of "Quick-Fix Meals" on Food Network. I was looking for a new salmon recipe, and this one is really fast and easy.

4 (5-6 ounce) salmon fillets
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp lemon zest
salt and pepper

Spray a shallow baking dish with Pam or lightly coat with olive oil. Add the lemon juice, dijon mustard, honey and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Salt and pepper both sides of the salmon fillets. Add to the baking dish and coat both sides with the honey mustard mixture. Bake immediately or cover with plastic wrap and regrigerate for up to 3 hours.

When ready to bake, place the dish in a preheated 400 degree oven. Cook for 10 minutes or until fish is fork-tender. (Mine took a couple minutes longer, but it depends on the thickness of the fillets.)

I Need a Drink

I'll be honest. Lately, I have been losing my cool when cooking. I try very hard to have all my elements of dinner ready at the same time, so nothing gets cold while waiting for everything else to be done. But, three times recently I have been making dinner and time it so everything is done, but my main course is taking longer than expected. Last Sunday it was turkey meatloaf, Friday night it was my pork chops, tonight it was my salmon. Maybe it is my OCD or maybe it is low blood sugar, but it just makes me lose my mind. So here I sit with a Kahlua and skim milk, my version of a chill pill, trying to calm down.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ten Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

I got an email today from thenest.com and the first article was about must-have kitchen gadgets, so it of course caught my attention. I thought I would share the list with everyone. Here is the link if you want to check them all out in detail: http://ideas.thenest.com/dinner-recipes/cooking-advice/Slideshows/must-have-kitchen-tools.aspx?MsdVisit=1. Some of them are really genius and I will run out and get them ASAP.

1. Collapsible Measuring Cups & Spoons - I have to get some of these. They would save so much room in my drawers.

2. Garlic Press - duh, already have

3. Silicone Nonstick French Rolling Pin - Genius, but I already have a rolling pin, so I probably won't go out and buy this one.

4. Glass Prep Bowls - I need to get some of these, it would probably make cooking easier and faster.

5. Palm Held Pizza Wheel - Very cool gadget that looks like it would make cutting pizza super easy.

6. Swinging Mandoline - A mandoline is a contraption that can slice veggies very quickly. However, it is very sharp. I have one, but have never used it because I am terrified that I will cut a finger or two off.

7. Recipe Divider - Totally genius! Perfect for single ladies and couples, since most recipes have a serving size of 4 or more. Can also be used to multiply a recipe to serve a crowd.

8. Two-in-One Citrus Squeezer - Neat gadget, but for $22 I'll squeeze my citrus by hand.

9. Fancy Corkscrew - $60! I don't think so. Plus, after opening wine bottles for more than 4 years at an up-scale restaurant, I think I can manage with my little wine opener.

10. Block Set of Cutlery - I don't have one of these, but I should. It is a great investment.

Tilapia Tacos

Last night I made fish tacos with tilapia. See, I made tilapia the other night for the first time and now I am hooked. I cooked the fish filets in a grill pan (since I live in a townhouse I don't have a real grill). But, you could use a real grill or fry or pan sear them. I topped the tacos with a homemade remoulade sauce.

For the tacos:
This recipe is for 2 servings. Take two tilapia filets, about 1 lb. total. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a preheated grill pan over medium-high heat. Grease the pan with some PAM cooking spray beforehand. Grill the filets on each side for about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve in a flour tortilla, top with remoulade sauce, shredded monterey jack cheese, lettuce and tomato. Tip: heat the tortillas in the microwave, covered in paper towels, for 45 seconds to soften.

For the remoulade sauce:
cayenne pepper
horseradish sauce
salt and pepper

In a bowl, mix 2 parts mayonaise with 1 part ketchup. Add horseradish and cayenne pepper to your tasting. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Heavenly Frozen Custard

On the way back from a meeting yesterday, my boss, a fellow foodie, really had a taste for frozen custard. And let's face it, it doesn't take much to convince me to make a pitstop for ice cream of any kind. We stopped at this place called Rita's. Which I had driven by before, but everytime I see it I think of margaritas. (Maybe that's telling me something.)

Anyway, they have frozen custard and also Italian Ice. We tried this fat-free vanilla custard that was absolutely heavenly. I couldn't believe it was fat-free. It totally hit the spot, especially on a warm, Florida day. Prices aren't too bad either. Their prices are lower than Cold Stone or Marble Slab.

You can guarantee I will be stopping by there more often. There are several Tampa Bay locations, plus they can be found in other states as well. Here is the link to their website: http://www.ritasice.com/.

The Sweetest Time of Year

It is that time again... Girl Scout cookie time! I know I am trying to eat healthier, so buying three boxes of Girl Scout cookies probably wasn't the best idea, but I don't care. I put them in my freezer and I'll eat them slowly.

My rationale is that buying the cookies is for a good cause. Those little Girl Scouts need people to buy their cookies because it funds their programs. And let's face it, these are tough economic times. They need as many people as possible to buy their yummy cookies. It only comes around once a year.

I like tagalongs, thin mints and samoas. Thin mints are especially good frozen or crushed on top of ice cream. What is your favorite kind?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My First Cooking Experience with Tilapia

Last night I wanted to make something healthy, so I decided on fish. I had been wanting to make tilapia for some time, so I thought now was better than ever. I seasoned the tilapia with a little salt and pepper. Sauteed it in a skillet with a little olive oil and juice from half a lemon. I cooked the tilapia for 5 minutes on each side. When it was almost done, I added the juice of another lemon, a tablespoon of butter, a little fresh parsley and some capers. I served it with fresh, steamed green beans and brown rice.

The tilipia came out perfectly. It was moist and flaky. I loved it so much I bought some more tilapia at the market today and plan to make fish tacos later this week.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Neighbors from H-E-L-L

I'm sure everyone can relate to having experienced annoying neighbors at some point in their life. I just thought that when I owned a home that I wouldn't really have to deal with it anymore. I was sorely mistaken.

My husband and I bought our townhouse three years ago, and at first everything was fine. It was a quiet condominium community with people really caring about the property, and for the most part it still is, except for a few select people. The way we are set up is that our townhouse is on the 2nd and 3rd floors, so we have another condo unit below us. It is currently being rented out by some very loud and disrespectful people. We constantly hear them yelling and banging shit around through the floor of our downstairs. I am not even sure who actually lives there and who doesn't. People are coming and going all the time I can't keep them straight. They can't even walk from their van to their house without screaming and hollering. Seriously, if I can hear your entire conversation, clear as day, from the inside of my house, you're being to effing loud!

The worst part is they're ruining the property. They broke two of their front bay windows one night in November! Helllooo, it is now March for heaven's sake! And they weren't broken because someone tried to break in or anything. They were being roudy and fighting and poof! window broken. I can only imagine what the inside of the place looks like. I finally called the association and reported it the other week. Some of my other neighbors who actually care about the state of their property have complained as well. And today when we came home from work I noticed the windows were finally fixed. It only took four months.

Now, I don't have anything against renters, but it really pisses me off when people act like they don't give a shit. Some of us own our home and have an investment in the community, so it is important to us for the property to be maintained and not trashed. Seriously, do I need to explain to people that taping up two broken windows for four months is trashy? This isn't "suitcase city" it is Carrollwood. We don't roll like that here.

I am going to make it my personal mission to get them evicted. Not only are they damaging their unit, but they have started destroying communal property. Nothing pisses me off more than vandalism. They have messed with the wrong modern housewife. Stay tuned...

Fast and Lighter Chicken Parmesan

Last night I opened my freezer to see what I had in there to make for dinner tonight. I saw chicken cutlets and all my bags of marinara sauce. Then I thought, well I have lots of pasta in the pantry and some fresh parmesan and mozzarella, and voila! my dinner plan was complete. This chicken parmesan is easier, faster and lighter than traditional chicken parm, yet it has all the flavor. Bon Appetito.

4 chicken cutlets, about a pound total
2 cups marinara sauce
grated mozzarella
grated parmesan
dabs of butter
olive oil
salt and pepper
dried basil

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Season the chicken cutlets on both sides with a sprinkle of dried basil, salt and pepper. In an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add the chicken and brown on both sides. (Don't worry about the chicken being cooked all the way through, you're going to finish it in the oven.)

Remove the skillet from the heat, pour marinara sauce around and over the chicken. Top each cutlet with a little mozzarella and parmesan, add a couple of dabs of butter to each as well. Place the skillet in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the chicken is cooked through (no longer pink in the middle and juices run clear).

I served this over multigrain spaghetti and a side of steamed broccoli.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Unfrozen Pizza

Tonight I made a pizza, and it wasn't frozen and it wasn't delivered. I used fresh ingredients and took a little help from the store to make a delicious and lite chicken pesto pizza.

Chicken-Pesto Pizza
1 store bought thin crust pizza dough (I use the Pillsbury one that is in the tube, found in the refrigerated section)
Prepared pesto (Whatever flavor you like. I used my leftover parsley pesto, but in the past I have used Buttoni's basil pesto)
Shredded chicken (I got some help from the store and bought a rotisserie chicken.)
Artichoke hearts (from the can; drained, rinsed and quartered)
Sundried tomatoes, sliced
Red onion, sliced
Crumbled feta cheese

Now, this isn't a science. If you don't like one of the ingredients I used, omit it. You don't need to measure anything, just use whatever amount looks good to you.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Open the tube of dough and unroll the dough onto a cookie sheet that has been greased with noncooking spray. Place the dough in the oven and precook for 8 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Spread an even, thin layer of pesto onto the warm dough. Top with the shredded chicken, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, red onion and feta cheese. Place in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.

If you like lots of seasoning, after you spread on the pesto, season the pizza with a little cracked red pepper, garlic powder, black pepper, dried oregano and basil.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Caprese Panini and Super Fast Tomato Soup

Tonight I made a very fast and yummy tomato soup that has white beans and ditalini pasta in it. I also made a delicious panini with tomato, eggplant, mozzarella and parsley pesto.

For the Paninis
4 slices of Whole grain bread
4 slices of tomato
4 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
4 slices of eggplant
parsley pesto (see my recipe on a previous post or use store bought, any flavor you like)

First, slice the eggplant about a 1/4 inch thick. Drizzle with olive oil; salt and pepper. Place in a preheated non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook on both sides until golden brown and the eggplant has soften.

To build the sandwiches. Lightly drizzle each slice of bread with olive oil. Turn over. On the bottom slice, place the mozzarella, then the tomato, then the eggplant. On the top slice of bread, opposite side of the oil, spread a thin, even layer of pesto. Place pesto side down on top of the eggplant. Move the sandwiches to a preheated panini press and close the top, pressing down ever so slightly. (Or if you don't have a panini press, use a skillet turning the sandwich over once and weighing it down with another heavy skillet or pan.)

I had leftover pesto, which I am going to use tomorrow on a pizza. I also had leftover eggplant, which I am thinking about making into baba ganoush (a dip similar to hummus.) Stay tuned!

For the Quick Tomato Soup
This soup recipe is courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis.
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (26-ounce) jar of marinara sauce
2 (14-ounce) cans of chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup ditalini pasta (or other small shape)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion and garlic, saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.

How fast and simple is that? And it is so tasty and the beans and pasta make it rather hearty. Plus, I already had a ton of marinara sauce in my freezer, (see Holy Marinara! post) so I was able to skip the first step since the sauce already has onions, carrots and garlic in it. I just pulled out one of my freezer bags of marinara this morning to defrost and I was ready to go when I got home from work. Just poured the sauce and chicken broth into the pot, brought it to a simmer and added the rest of the ingredients. Ten minutes later the soup was finished!