Archive | January, 2012

Pesto Chicken Pizza!

31 Jan

I’m going to start out by saying this pizza was fabulous!! It may have something to do with my undying love for pesto, but in all sincerity, this pizza was pretty good. Feel free to simplify this recipe and cut down on the cook time by using a pre-made pizza crust or use leftover chicken breast from dinner a few nights ago.
Pesto Chicken Pizza

(This was the first time I made homemade pizza dough so you’ll have to excuse the ugly edges.)

1.5 cups warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
3.5 cups of flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
.5 tsp sugar
(makes 2 pizza crusts)

.5 Chicken breast grilled, cooled, and thinly sliced
Pesto Sauce- (I would have made this myself if fresh Basil was in stock but since it’s the end of January in Northwest Ohio I just used a premade pesto sauce from the store)
1.5 cups Shredded Mozzarella or Italian Blend Cheese

Pour the water into a large bowl and add the packet of yeast. Let dissolve for about 5 minutes or so. While it’s dissolving, combine flour, oil, salt, and sugar in a second bowl. After the yeast is dissolved, gradually add the flour mixture to the yeast and water using an electric mixer just until dough is mixed well and has an elastic texture. Form the dough into a ball. Coat one of the bowls with olive oil and place the dough back inside. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set in a warm place to rise for at least an hour.

The dough should double  in size (or come pretty close to doubling). At this point you can pound the dough down. On a floured surface take out the dough and separate into to equal balls and place back into the bowl for another 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a floured surface, starting from the middle and working your way to the out side press the dough until it is an even layer. From there I transferred my dough to a pizza pan and poked holes all over so there weren’t any bubbles. I then baked it for five minutes so that the dough would have a chance to cook before all of the toppings were on it. After 5 minutes, I removed the dough and added my toppings. ((evenly coat the dough with pesto sauce, top with the cheese and then added the chicken, drizzle extra virgin olive oil on the top for a golden brown color) Bake pizza for another 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.

Hopefully you enjoy this as much as we did!

Pesto Pizza



Stuffed Shells

21 Jan

Italian Stuffed Shells

Italian Stuffed Shells

This seems to be a favorite of the guys in my life (Dad, brother, boyfriend). Every time I make them I make a ton because they go so fast! Its a fast and super simple recipe! This is a little “healthier” recipe from my original. But they are still very good; you’ll never know they’re “healthified”.

I love that this recipe is very versatile. I sometimes sneak some chopped spinach in to make it even healthier. Or if we’re not looking to make it so healthy I substitute in some pancetta instead of the bacon.

2 15 oz low fat/partial skim Ricotta Cheese
1 ½ cups of shredded low fat mozzarella cheese (plus a little more for sprinkling on top)
3 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ lb of cooked chopped bacon (feel free to use turkey bacon, I just had regular in the fridge to use)

2 eggs
salt and pepper
1 tbsp dried basil
1 jar prepared marinara sauce
6 oz (about ½ a box) Jumbo Shells

Cook pasta according to box instructions. Drain and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl combine the first 7 ingredients well.

Spread about ¼ of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish. After the shells are cooled enough to handle, scoop a healthy helping of the cheese mixture inside the shell. After it is filled line the pan with filled shells. Repeat until the shells are gone or until you run out of filling.

(If you are concerned about it being pretty and not getting filling on the outside of the shell, you can fill a piping bag with the cheese filling. Piping is much prettier but I normally skip that and just go for the scooping method)

After the dish is filled with shells spoon the remaining sauce across the top of the shells and top with shredded cheese.

Bake covered in a 300 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the shells are warmed through.


Healthy Chicken Spinach Burgers

20 Jan

Fabulous (healthy) Chicken Burgers!

2 lbs ground chicken
1 medium onion
1 package of chopped frozen spinach (thawed)
½ lb  cooked bacon (I used turkey bacon)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Pinch of Dried Basil
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
5 slices of Provolone Cheese
5 Kaiser rolls

Thinly slice half of the onion into rings. Caramelize onions with a little extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet until tender and sweet. Set aside for later use.

Grab a cheese grater and grate your onion over a large bowl.

(Sounds weird, I know, but grating the onion adds onion flavor but avoids the crunch of raw onions in your burger. I use this method in many dishes like in cheesy potatoes during the holidays since we have some people who aren’t fans of onions. Just give it a try!)

Place your spinach in the center of a clean dish towel and squeeze out any excess liquid over the sink. (The spinach is a great way to help our chicken not dry out but if there is too much liquid from the spinach, the burgers will fall apart during cooking)

Combine the grated onion, drained spinach, ground chicken, chopped bacon, mustard, basil, garlic powder and a dash of salt and pepper. Separate into 5  equal patties.

In the same skillet you caramelized the onions in, coat the bottom of the pan with extra virgin olive oil. Once the pan is hot enough, add the five burgers. Cook burgers for 6-7 minutes on each side. In the last minute or so of cooking add the provolone cheese till its melted. Place the burgers on the Kaiser roll bottoms and top the burgers with the caramelized onions, thinly sliced tomato, and a little mustard if desired.


Cheesy Pasta Bolognese

11 Jan

Cheesy Pasta Bolognese

Cheesy Pasta Bolognese
This is a total comfort food.  I try to lighten up the dish by using light ingredients for my grandpa’s diet. Instead of using heavy cream in the cheese sauce I use skim milk. The sauce is still delicious, but it is much lighter. And instead of regular bacon I use turkey bacon. Hope you enjoy!


4 Carrots
1 medium onion
4 stalks of celery
1 garlic clove
1 carton of button mushrooms (any kind you like really)
1 14 oz  Can of diced Italian style tomatoes
1 lb lean ground beef
.5 lb  cooked  chopped bacon (I use turkey bacon)
about half a box of dried penne pasta
2 tbsp butter or margarine
2 tbsp flour
1 cup skim milk
1.5 lb block of  light/skim mozzarella, chopped into bite size pieces
2 tbsp grated/shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop carrots, onion, celery and mushrooms to bite size pieces. Mince garlic. Sautee carrots, onion, celery, mushrooms and garlic in a pan until soft and onions are translucent. Reserve for later.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the penne. Follow the instructions on the pasta box. Drain and set aside for later.

Brown ground beef and drain excess grease. Add cooked vegetables, tomatoes in canning liquid, and bring to a slight simmer. Reduce heat and stir in chopped bacon.

In a separate pan melt butter. Add the flour and stir for a few minutes just to cook out the flour flavor. Gradually add the milk stirring with a whisk. Bring the liquid mixture up to a light simmer. Add the mozzarella and parmesan, stirring continually until the sauce becomes smooth and thick.

Spread the meat and vegetable mixture  in a 9×13 glass pan. Layer the pasta on top of the meat mixture. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese becomes bubbly and slightly browned.


Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

7 Jan

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie
To make your awesome creamy chicken pot pie you will need:
4 carrots
4 stalks of celery
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
1 c of frozen veggies- Carrots, corn, peas, green beans I grab a bag from the freezer section unless you can get a hold of fresh veggies
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 c heavy cream
½ c chicken stock
Pie crustChop carrot, celery, and onion into bite size pieces. Sautee veggies and garlic with a little extra virgin olive oil in a covered pan until tender (about 8-10 minutes). While the vegetables are sautéing, place the chicken on a cutting board or clean counter top and cover with plastic wrap. Pound out the largest portion of the chicken breast with a meat tenderizer until the entire breast is uniform in height. (I mainly do this so the chicken cooks evenly. It’s all the same size so the thinner portion of the breast doesn’t get overcooked)
Once the vegetables are done, remove them from the pan and reserve for later. Turn the heat of the pan up to medium high. Once the pan is hot enough, place the chicken in the pan and flip after two-three minutes.  If the pan is hot enough you will get a nice golden color on the chicken. Two to three minutes after your flip reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Continue cooking for atleast eight minutes or until the juices run clear.
Remove chicken from pan and reserve for later. With the heat on medium sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour in the drippings. Be careful to stir well to avoid flour clumps. Stir in the chicken stock to deglaze the pan.  Finally, add the heavy cream and bring to a slight simmer.
After the chicken has slightly cooled, shred it into bite size pieces and add it to the cream mixture along with the reserved sautéed and frozen veggies. Bring to a slight simmer.
I must admit, I cheated and used store bought pie crust. It was already in the fridge and still tastes great. So all I had to do was roll out the dough, pour my filling in and top it off with the top pie crust. Bake the pie at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Pulled Pork

4 Jan

Pulled Pork Sandwich

That’s right! We’re starting out the year right with homemade pulled pork sandwiches. Now I will warn you, this recipe takes a while to cook but it is super simple and it always seems to please the crowd. A friend shared this recipe when we made it for a fundraiser for a missions trip at church. We fed about 300 people or so on more than one occasion with this dish but its also great for a week night dinner.

Here’s what you’ll need for the pork:

  • 3 tablespoons paprika (I use 1.5 tbs of regular paprika and 1.5 tbs of Hungarian hot paprika to give it a little extra punch)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 (5 to 7 pound) pork roast (Pork butt seems to work best, although I have done it with pork shoulder and pork loin as well)

Start by mixing all of the spices together. After spices are mixed, generously rub the spices on the pork. Refrigerate at least one hour. (I normally make a day ahead to really let the flavors marry together).

Oven instructions:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees, covered in a deep dish for at least 6 hours. (more time may be necessary depending on the size of your roast) The meat will be tender and if  your pork has a bone the meat will be falling off.  After the meat cools slightly move to a separate dish and  “Pull” the pork apart with two forks.-this step should be quite effortless really

Crockpot instructions:
Put pork in the crockpot and set on low. Cook anywhere from 7-8 hours depending on the size of your roast. Then follow the steps above. (I prefer the crockpot version because I can turn it on in the morning and by dinner time a delicious dinner is ready with out heating the house up with the oven)

I normally serve mine on a toasted bun topped off with simple homemade coleslaw.

It’s that simple! Hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think