Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chicken, Spinach & Artichoke Mini Calzones

This recipe comes from Cuisine at Home magazine...however, I changed it up a little bit by adding sundried tomatoes, switching the cheese from Asiago to shredded mozzarella, and using Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust- because it was just too easy not to! These didn't take too long to make and had a rich, delicious flavor. Enjoy!

For the filling:
1 c. shredded Asiago (I used mozzarella)
1 c. diced cooked chicken
1 5.2 oz package Garlic & Fine Herbs Boursin cheese
1/4 c. minced onion
1/2 c. chopped marinated artichoke hearts
5 sundried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped (this is my addition)
1/3 c. chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed completely dry
1 Tbl. minced garlic
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Calzones:
1 lb. prepared pizza dough (I used a roll of Pillsbury refrigerated pizza dough)
1 Tbl flour
1 egg, beaten
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 425F. Place baking sheet/pizza stone in the oven while the oven is preheating. This will get the sheet/stone nice and hot and help prevent the calzone from having a soggy bottom crust.

For the filling combine Asiago, chicken, Boursin cheese, onion, artichoke hearts, spinach, sundried tomatoes, garlic and pepper flakes in a bowl; season with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the calzones, divide dough into four equal pieces. Dust dough and counter with flour. Gently stretch and roll each dough piece into an 8-inch round (do your best here- mine came out pretty misshapen!).

Arrange 3/4 cup filling on one side of each dough round, leaving a 1 inch border at edge of dough. Stretch dough over the filling and cripm edges by hand or with a fork to seal. Brush each calzone with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse salt. Cut a slit on top of the calzones.

Place calzones on the preheated sheet/stone (give it a little spritz of cooking spray first) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

S'Mores Cookies

Who wants s'mores; no sticks required? "Me, me, me," shouted the kids (and their mama wanted some, too!). Those of you who know me know I am obsessed with s'mores! I absolutely LOVE them! So, the other day I was itchin' to make some cookies...I looked in the cupboard and saw my three loves: marshmallows, four Hershey's bars and a sleeve of graham crackers. I got the idea to grind the grahams into crumbs and make s'mores cookies! They turned out super yum! One suggestion : when rolling the dough, make sure there aren't any marshmallows sticking out or touching the cookie sheet. When they melt onto the cookie sheet, they stick, making it hard to remove the cookie from the pan. Just tuck all marshmallow in and proceed as usual! Enjoy these sweet treats!

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (9 whole graham crackers - put them in the food processor for a nice even crumb)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 Hershey's bars, cut into small pieces (you can easily substitute 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips)
1 c. miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375F
Beat together softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Blend in egg and vanilla. Add flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Fold in Hershey bar pieces and marshmallows.
Roll approximately 2 Tbl of dough into a ball and place onto greased cookie sheets about 3 inches apart. Tuck marshmallows into dough so they are not directly touching the cookie sheet.
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on sheet about 3 minute and remove to wire racks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Zucchini Banana Bread

This recipe comes straight from the pages of Taste at Home magazine. It was simple to make and the finished product resulted in a flavorful, moist bread that wasn't overly sweet - it was just perfect! This recipe makes two loaves; so, if you only want one, just half it! Enjoy! 

4 eggs 
2 cups sugar 
1 cup vegetable oil 
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup) 
3 cups all-purpose flour 
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon salt 
1-1/2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini 
1 cup chopped pecans (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350F 

In a bowl, beat eggs. Blend in sugar and oil. Add bananas and mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; stir into egg mixture. Stir in shredded zucchini and pecans just until combined. 

Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 2 loaves. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Salsa Verde Chicken with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings

This meal was downright delicious! As soon as we finished eating, my son asked me when I was going to make it again. And the following day, he asked me again when I was going to make that "fluffy biscuit-y soup"....I must say that I share his enthusiasm for this stew. As I was making it, I kept eating it....just eating spoonful after was so delicious even without the dumplings! I was afraid there wasn't going to be any left by the time dinner rolled around! Thankfully, I controlled myself and put the spoon away and we all had our fill. This meal is a keeper and I will make it again and again (especially in the colder months). I found it on the blog Savory Sweet Life. Here is the recipe word for word:

Chicken Stew:
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth
1 jar (15 ounces) salsa verde (2 cups)
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
1 large rotisserie chicken, meat deboned and left in large chunks (about 6 cups)

1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion greens
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Chicken:  Heat butter over medium-high heat in a large (11 – 12 inch), deep ovenproof skillet or 5-6 quart Dutch oven.  Whisk in flour to make a paste.  Mix broth, salsa verde, and evaporated milk and whisk in all at once.  Whisk, vigorously at first, until mixture simmers and thickens to sauce consistency.  Stir in chicken, heat through, and cover to keep warm. 

Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Dumplings: Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan until steamy.  Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, scallions, and cilantro in a medium bowl with a fork.  Stir in milk mixture to form a smooth, firm dough.  Pinch off Ping-Pong-ball-size peices of dough with your fingers and drop onto chicken mixture.  Return chicken to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Cover and transfer pan to oven and bake until dumplings are cooked through, 20 minutes.  Serve.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Easy-Peasy Apple & Cranberry Tart

Whether you are a seasoned or novice baker, this quick and simple apple & cranberry tart is a must! A friend made me one of these puff pastry tarts after I had my third baby. When I saw it I could not believe she had gone to so much trouble making it for my family!! She started laughing and assured me it was the easiest dessert to whip up in a flash. And she was right! But, just because it is simple, do not think that it isn't oh-so-incredibly-yummy....because it really is oh-so-incredibly-yummy Xs 10!
If you do not like apples (and by the way, if you do not like apples, who are you!?! Okay...moving on...) you can use any other orchard fruit, such as pears. And feel free to omit the cranberries and nuts if you aren't a fan...or try it with another dried fruit, such as raisins, chopped dried cherries or chopped dried apricot...anything goes here! Just don't forget the big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top! That really is the icing on the tart! Enjoy!

1 whole sheet of puffed pastry, cut into halves
2 whole apples with peel, cored, halved and sliced thinly
1/2 c. white OR brown sugar (I used brown)
A pinch of salt 
1/4 c. dried cranberries (optional)
1/4 c. chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 415 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl add apples, sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir gently to combine. Let sit for five minutes.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and place puffed pastry rectangles on top. 

Arrange apple slices on the puff pastry rectangles in a straight line, overlapping as you go. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden brown.
Immediately remove tarts from baking sheet and place on a serving platter. Cut and serve plain, with ice cream or even powdered sugar sprinkled on top!! Yummers!
This is the plain one I made for the kids

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Caprese Steak Sandwich with Spicy Basil Mayo

After taking a bite of this sandwich, my son declared, "Mom, this is the best sandwich I've ever eaten in my life!" Well, I don't know about THAT, but, I definitely loved his enthusiasm for my cooking! Ha! I will say, though, that this sandwich is darn darn good and my husband gave me lots of "yums" while eating it.
I planned ahead for this dinner and had my husband make an extra steak when we grilled out the other night. It made prepping for this sandwich really easy to have the meat already cooked. I used a big ol' one pound filet, but, you could certainly use a different tender cut of meat. Also, make sure you get soft hoagie rolls; there is nothing worse than cracking a tooth whilst biting into a big giant sub. I served this sandwich with a homemade smoothie. Enjoy!

2 Tbl butter, divided
1/2 a large onion, halved and sliced
1 pound steak, cooked to your liking and sliced thin (I used a filet, but, you could use another tender cut of meat)
3 Tbl Mayo
15 basil leaves, cut chiffonade
5 to 10 dashes of Tabasco sauce
2 whole hoagie rolls, split
6 to 8 slices of fresh Mozzarella
6 to 8 slices of ripe tomato
1 c. salad mix

Preheat oven to 350F

Melt 1 Tbl of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Cook onions for five to ten minutes, until golden brown.

While the onions are cooking, mix mayo, basil and Tabasco in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside.

Put split hoagie rolls in the preheated oven for 5 minutes or until rolls are lightly toasted.

Add thinly sliced pre-cooked steak and another 1 Tbl of butter to the cooked onions. Cook till steak is warmed through and butter has melted.
To assemble sandwich divide basil mayo evenly between the two sandwiches and spread on the bottom roll.  Layer steak and onions next. Then fresh mozzarella, followed by tomatoes. Top with salad mix. Press the top half of the roll on top. Cut in half and serve immediately. Yummers!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Turkey, Brie & Apple Panini with Fig Jam

This sandwich was inspired by one I've eaten many times at my favorite sandwich shop at the Jersey Shore. The creamy brie paired with the tart, crunchy apple and the savory turkey make for a delicious combination. Add the fig jam and you've just taken it up a notch! Put it in the panini press you just hit it out of the ball park! Yum!! I served this sandwich with a cup of soup and a fruit salad. Enjoy!
  • 4 slices sandwich bread - I used fresh Sourdough
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tbl fig jam (sub out fig jam for sliced fresh figs, apricot preserves or even honey!)
  • 6 to 8 ounce (weight) brie cheese (rind removed - put brie in the freezer for 20 minutes before slicing off rind- this "firms up" the brie a bit and makes it easier to cut)
  • 1 granny smith apple, sliced VERY thin (you can use another tart apple instead, like Jazz)
  • Sliced turkey breast (I used pepper turkey from the deli counter)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by preheating a panini press or grill pan. If using a grill pan or skillet heat over medium heat.

On a cutting board lay out your sandwich bread and lightly brush the outsides with olive oil. On the inside of one piece of bread, spread 1 Tbl of fig jam. Repeat with the other slice of bread. Cut the brie into thin slices. Place one layer of brie slices on one piece of the bread.
                  Top the layer of brie with a layer of thinly cut apple slices.

                   Add the turkey on top of the apple.

Place one more layer of brie slices on top of the turkey. Salt & Pepper to taste.

If you are using a panini maker, place the sandwich on and cook for 4 to 6 minutes until the top is golden and the cheese has melted. If you are using a grill pan, place sandwich in the pan and place another pan on top to press the sandwich. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes, until bread is golden and cheese is melted.

     Remove sandwich; slice with a serrated knife. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Spicy Pasta Salad with Smoked Gouda, Tomatoes & Basil

After taking a bite of this pasta salad, the first words out of my husband's mouth were "Mmmmmm," followed closely by, "You should definitely blog this!" Yes, it was that good! And two out of three kids gave it a giant thumbs up (those of you who know my kids know exactly which one wouldn't touch it! Ha!). Thank you to the Pioneer Woman's blog for yet another delicious dinner!

  • 12 ounces, weight pasta noodle (like penne, corkscre, bowtie, etc)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
  • 2 to 4 Tbl white vinegar (I used apple cider)
  • 1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoon Adobo Sauce From Chipotle Peppers (you can find this in the Mexican section of the market. If you do not know adobo sauce, tread lightly - it's pretty spicy! Add a little and try it; if you want it spicier add a little more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 10 ounces, weight grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 pound Smoked Gouda Cheese, Cut Into Small Cubes
  • 24 whole Basil Leaves (chiffonade)
Cook pasta until done. Drain and rinse in cold water until no longer hot. Set aside.

Mix mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, salt, pepper, and adobo in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, stir together pasta, dressing, tomatoes, and cubed Gouda. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed, and even an extra teaspoons or two of vinegar if necessary. Stir in basil at the end. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. Serve with a crusty bread! Enjoy!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

 I don't know what it is about these extremely simple cucumber sandwiches, but, I find them to be absolutely irresistible!  I make them for "dainty" all-women gatherings such as baby & bridal showers, MOPS meetings, hostess parties, etc. These sandwiches are loved!

1 8oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 package of Italian salad dressing mix (I like Good Seasonings brand)
1 loaf of very thin Pepperidge Farm white bread
1 cucumber, very thinly sliced
Add softened cream cheese and Italian salad dressing mix to a bowl and stir well until completely combined.  Lay bread out on a cutting board. Spread cream cheese mixture on each slice of bread.
                   Layer cucumbers on one out of every two slices.
         Cover cucumber side with cream cheese spread bread to make a sandwich.

  Slice sandwiches. Some people like to cut the crusts off. Do what you like! Enjoy!