Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts

Friday, April 13, 2012

Philly Cheesesteak

One of the eating options at our undergraduate college was set-up fast-food style. It wasn't a big name restaurant that you see at some of the big student unions, but a smaller operation ran by the same people that ran the cafeteria. You would walk up and literally write your name and order on a little slip of paper and hand it to whomever was cooking. They had you standard fast-food fare - burgers, chicken strips, mini pizzas, and Philly cheesesteaks. Those cheesesteaks were SO good. Horrible for you, I know, because they would drip grease, but how much do you care about that at 19?

To make a long story short, I haven't had a Philly Cheesesteak in a long time because I know that it is definitely more of a splurge. You can imagine that I was really excited to find a makeover recipe in the March issue of Cooking Light!
As I mentioned, it has been awhile since I've had a "real" cheesesteak, but these were pretty good in my book. The recipe came together really well. I did not include the mushrooms as they are not my cup of tea. My only note would be to be sure to make the cheese sauce just before you are ready to eat. I made mine too early, and ended up needing to reheat it. This did not go well as the sauce got really thick, but could be fixed easily enough. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Philly Cheesesteak
Adapted from Cooking Light March 2012

1 (12 oz) flank steak, trimmed 
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1-1/2 cups thinly sliced green bell pepper
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 ounce provolone cheese, torn into small pieces
2 Tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
4 (3-inch) hoagie rolls, toasted  

Place beef in the freezer for 15 minutes. Cut beef across the grain into thin slices. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. 

Heat a large nonstick skillet over 2 minutes or until beef just loses its pink color, stirring constantly (mine took about 3-4 minutes). Remove beef from pan. Add remaining 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan. Add onion; saute 3 minutes. Add bell pepper, and garlic; saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Return beef to pan; saute 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Stir in Worcestershire and soy sauce; keep warm.

Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1/2-inch thick shell. Divide the beef mixture evenly amongst the bottom halves of the hoagies.  

Just before ready to eat, place flour in a small saucepan; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook 1 minute or until just slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Drizzle sauce evenly over beef mixture; replace top halves.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ham, Cheese, and Broccoli Casserole

Have leftovers from Easter still hanging around your house? I can't help you too much with any leftover hard-boiled eggs, but this recipe will certainly help you use up that leftover ham and another surprising ingredient that may be hanging around your house after Easter dinner. Carrots... This recipe from Clean Eating for broccoli and cheese casserole actually uses cooked, pureed carrots to help slim down the cheese sauce.

Using up leftovers and turning them into a healthy meal? Sounds good in my book. I've made the recipe a couple of times. The second time I decreased the amount of crushed red pepper slightly, and we liked it much better. It is not really that it is too spicy with the full amount, but the flavor is just too overpowering.  Be sure to use a cheese that you really enjoy. I found a reduced-fat sharp cheddar by Cabot that works really well for this dish.
Sadly, we both worked last weekend, so I don't have any Easter leftovers. So, if anyone wants to send a bit of ham my way, I'd love to make this again! Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe) 

Ham, Cheese, and Broccoli Casserole
Adapted from Clean Eating: Classic Comfort Foods

2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups cauliflower florets
2  Tbsp. olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (originally 1 Tbsp)
1/2 lb. whole wheat pasta, desired shape
4 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
3/4 cup evaporated skim milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese 
1 cup, cubed cooked lean ham
1/2 cup whole wheat Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet, toss broccoli and cauliflower with oil and red pepper flakes. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside; reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. 

Meanwhile, boil some water in a medium saucepan. Add pasta and cook about 5 minutes or until al dente per package directions. Drain and set aside. 

In a separate medium saucepan, combine carrots, milk, and 1/2 cup water. Place on medium-low heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until carrots soften. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes. You can transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor; add cheese and pulse until smooth. Alternately, you can use an immersion blender (this is what I did). Set aside.

In an 8x10-inch baking dish, combine broccoli-cauliflower mixture, carrot-cheese mixture, pasta and ham. Spread mixture in an even layer. Cover with Panko bread crumbs and bake for 20 minutes or until topping is browned and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Monday, April 9, 2012

SRC: Stromboli

Hope everyone had a great weekend. It is Secret Recipe Club time here again! This month I was assigned The Keenan Cookbook. The blog is ran by Chris, Rachel, and Baby Boy, and Chris indicates that they make a great team in the kitchen with him doing much of the cooking and Rachel taking most of the photos. The recipes on their website often come along with personal stories, and I really enjoyed all of their posts.

So how did I settle on this stromboli recipe? In the spirit of posting recipes with memories and family connections, we have our own stromboli story here. While it was a much different recipe, stromboli is the first meal that my husband (then boyfriend) made for me.
In the spirit of staying true to his recipe, I also made the pizza dough recipe that Chris suggests for this recipe. My other changes were minor - chicken sausage, turkey pepperoni, and smoked mozzarella. I also added some provolone cheese, although I am not sure this was a substitution. Chris doesn't list this in his ingredient list, however his photo indicates there was some form of sliced cheese in addition to the mozzarella cubes. The dough recipe was different that others that I have made in that I felt the dough turned out stiff and hard to maneuver. Nonetheless, it baked up nicely and held in all the ingredients stuffed in this stromboli really well, so it may be worth a second try to see if my problems were user error.
Be sure to stop by The Keenan Cookbook to check out his original version of the stromboli as well as all of their other recipes. I know I've bookmarked several other recipes to make myself. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Stromboli with Alton Brown's Pizza Dough
From The Keenan Cookbook

4 Tbsp. sugar 
2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1-1/2 cups warm water
4 cups bread flour
2 tsp. instant yeast
non-stick spray

1/2 recipe pizza dough 
3/4 lb. chicken sausage
1/2 pkg. turkey pepperoni
1/4 lb. deli salami, sliced 
1/4 lb. deli provolone cheese, sliced
8 oz. smoked mozzarella cheese
3 Tbsp. dried parsley
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 egg white, slightly beaten

For the dough, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the ingredients in the following order: sugar, salt, olive oil, water, 2 cups flour, yeast, and remaining 2 cups flour. Mix on low until the dough just comes together forming a ball. Spray the hook attachment with cooking spray. Swap the paddle attachment for the hook and knead for 15 minutes on medium speed. Tear off a small piece of the dough and flatten. Stretch the dough until thin. Hold it up to the light to see if you can see through it. If it tears, you will need to knead the dough for an additional 5-10 minutes. Form the dough into a smooth ball with your hands. Spray a large bowl with the non-stick spray and place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat the ball of dough with the spray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18-24 hours. I divided this in half, using half for the stromboli and the other half for a different pizza. The dough can be frozen by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and placing the wrapped ball of dough into a freezer ziplock bag. Remove from the freezer the morning you want to use it and place in the refrigerator. 

For the stromboli, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature (approximately 30 minutes). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, cook the sausage until cooked through. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle. Sprinkle with the herbs. Layer with meats and then cheeses. Starting with the long end of the rectangle, roll the dough up. Pinch the seams to seal. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet and pierce with a fork in several places. Brush with egg white. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Slice and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cheeseburger Salad

By far, the most popular day at our work cafeteria is taco Thursdays. They make both normal tacos and taco salads served in those big, fried taco bowls. I typically bring my lunch to work, so I have yet to participate in taco Thursdays. Nevertheless, if you would sit outside the cafeteria, I would bet almost every single person walking out of that cafeteria has one of those big bowls. While those taco salads may be delicious, part of the reason that I have not yet indulged is just that. With all the meat (which I doubt is lean), cheese, and the fried bowl, I'm sure those salads are far from health food. 

From tacos to cheeseburgers, doesn't seem like too far of a leap up the "healthy meter" but hear me out. Lean ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, whole wheat homemade croutons with no heavy dressing. May be a little higher in sodium due to the condiments and pickles, but not so bad after all. 
This salad is actually adapted from recipe that I saw on Ree's site The Pioneer Woman. In the two weeks since I first noticed the recipe online, we have already made it twice. The second time requested specifically by my husband. It is that good. Almost better when I reassembled the leftovers for my Thursday cheeseburger salad lunch :) Enough said. Enjoy!
(Printable Recipe)

Cheeseburger Salad
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

2 large whole wheat rolls, cut into 1-inch pieces
Butter-flavored non-stick spray
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
1 lb. lean ground beef (93 or 96%)
3 Tbsp. ketchup
1/2 tsp. yellow mustard
1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. barbecue sauce
1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and torn
1/4 - 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 Roma tomatoes, diced
4 whole dill pickles, cubed
1/2 red onion, sliced

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray the pieces of bread with the non-stick spray and toss. Sprinkle with the garlic salt and parsley and mix. Spread the cubes on a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes. Stir and bake for 15 more minutes or until brown and crispy.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. When cooked through, drain any fat from the pan. Add ketchup, mustards, and barbecue sauce and stir to combine. Keep warm.

To assemble each salad, divide the lettuce between plates. Layer on the meat, onions, tomatoes, pickles, cheese, and croutons. Serve immediately. The salad can be saved for lunch by storing the vegetables, croutons, and meat separately. Warm the meat up in the microwave just before eating, then assemble the ingredients.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mexican Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Cheesy. Enchilada. Casserole. Not the terms that you would typically think of in a January meal. Surprise, this recipe is actually based from Cooking Light, although I found this adaption on Iowa Girl Eats this past summer. Not sure it would actually classify as "health food," but when a Mexican craving strikes, this could certainly fulfill the requirements without doing too much damage to your diet. Good news in our book as Mexican is one of our favorite types of cuisines.
This recipe starts by cooking chicken breasts on the stove top in a mixture of chicken broth and green chiles. The cooked chicken is shredded and set aside as the chile mixture turns into your cheesy enchilada sauce. On a side note, did you know that you can shred a cooked chicken breast in your stand mixer? It works here or if you've boiled them on the stovetop. Just place the hot breast into the mixer with the paddle attachment and go. Perfect if you're like me and always end up burning yourself while trying to shred the hot chicken :)

Our verdict: cheesy, lighter, and delicious! Looking through the ingredients, the dish is really a deconstructed enchilada layered lasagna-style into a baking dish, so if you have that soft spot in your heart for enchiladas, these should float your boat. Enjoy!
(Printable Recipe)

Mexican Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats (originally adapted from Cooking Light)

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth 
2 (4.5oz) cans chopped green chiles, divided
1-1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup skim evaporated milk
1 (10oz) can enchilada sauce
2oz. 1/3-less fat cream cheese
1 cup (4oz) Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup (2oz) 2% sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
9 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1-2 oz tortilla chips, crushed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8-inch baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.

Heat the chicken broth and one can of the green chiles in a large skillet on medium-high heat. When boiling, add the chicken breasts and cook for 7-8 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken, shred, and set aside. Reserve the cooking liquid and set aside. 

Re-heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and second can of green chiles. Saute until the onions are soft, then add the evaporated milk, enchilada sauce, cream cheese, Monterey jack cheese, and reserved cooking liquid. Stir until sauce is combined, then add in the shredded chicken. Stir well, and remove from heat.

Lay 3 corn tortillas on the bottom of the baking dish, tearing them when necessary to cover the entire bottom of the dish. Top with 2 cups of the chicken mixture. Repeat the layers 2 more times, ending with the chicken layer on top. Top with the crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese on the top is golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mashed Potato Pizza

Mashed potato pizza. What a great idea. Saw this right before Thanksgiving on Iowa Girl Eats. In her post, Kristin talks about how she used to work right above a pizza parlor. That would be heaven in my husband's book. In fact, I am not sure I'd ever see him again :)

Kristin's idea was to use up leftover mashed potatoes to recreate one of the parlor's pizzas at home. We found ourselves with some extra, extra mashed potatoes after our little Thanksgiving gathering, so I thought I would give it a whirl as well. Our verdict - unique and absolutely delicious. As Kristin did, I would recommend making it on a thinner crust to counteract the layer of potatoes. This pizza is everything that is good about a loaded baked potato piled on a crispy crust.

If you have any mashed potatoes leftover from Christmas dinner, I would highly recommend giving this pizza a shot! 

(Printable Recipe)

Mashed Potato Pizza
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

1 prepared or purchased thin crust pizza dough
1-1/2 cups mashed potatoes
chopped broccoli, steamed or cooked (I used part of a steamer bag)
1 roma tomato
1-1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Place a pizza stone (if you have one) in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

Roll out the pizza dough on a piece of parchment paper. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Spread the mashed potatoes over the dough. Layer with broccoli, cheese, tomatoes and crumbled bacon. Briefly take the hot pan out of the oven and slide the pizza (on the parchment paper) onto the hot pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is browning around the edges and the cheese has melted. Slice and enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Creamy, Light Mac and Cheese

It really hasn't been that long since I posted this version of macaroni and cheese, but really, who can resist a big bowl of cheesy macaroni when the weather starts to cool down? In our house, past macaroni and cheese recipes or not, there was no way my husband was going to allow me to not make this when he saw my September issue of Cooking Light. It was cover-love at its greatest :)

In reality, this macaroni and cheese recipe was the makeover recipe for September swapping pureed butternut squash for some of the cheese and fat in the traditional sauce. This one major swap cut the calories by almost 2/3. Crazy! Thinking there is no way that butternut squash could be a good replacement for cheese? In our opinion, it didn't do too bad. It certainly wasn't they Velveeta, gooey version of macaroni and cheese, but the squash actually keeps it quite creamy all while staying barely noticeable. If you are looking for that Velveeta version, you won't find that here. What you will find is a pretty good mac and cheese that would fall within most diets. In fact, if you didn't know the ingredients, it would be hard to pick squash out of the lineup. Perfect if you happen to know any vegetable haters. You don't even have to lie about the name. They left the word 'squash' out :) Enjoy!
(Printable Recipes)

Creamy, Light Mac and Cheese
From Cooking Light September 2011

3 cups (1 lb) cubed, peeled butternut sqaush
1-1/4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 cups skim milk
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. fat-free Greek yogurt
1-1/4 cups (5 oz) shredded Gruyere cheese
1 cup  (4 oz) grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup (1 oz) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided 
1 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
cooking spray
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place the hot squash mixture in a blender (or blend with an immersion blender if you have one as this step is much easier). Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of the blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid. Place a clean towel over the opening of the blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash in a bowl; stir in Gruyere, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 9x13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. 

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat the topping with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts

It has been almost two weeks since I have posted on here. I have my reasons (solid 19 day stretch at work), but it is what it is. We're all busy. I am currently on day 14 of 19, and I promise that I will try to be better. We have certainly still been eating, so I should keep posting :)  In a peace offering for my absence, I am offering up this recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

While it may be a little hard to offer you a serving of this dish in person, I am not kidding when I tell you this recipe rocks. In her post, Mel talks about wanting to dream about this dinner forever. I am with her! The ingredients themselves seem fairly basic, something that would be the makings of your standard weeknight meal. I am not sure if it is one ingredient that stands out or if it is the combination of these ingredients together, but the finished dish is hands down one of the best dinners we have made (I say we because my husband actually made this dish, although I have to get some credit as I picked out the recipe). 

My take on this one: Just make it. Please! And call me when you do, as I'll be over for supper as soon as I get off work :)

(Printable Recipe)

Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and from Cook’s Country Cookbook: Rediscovering America’s Home Cooking

1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup minced basil, divided
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (on the thicker side in order to stuff them)
3 Tbsp. lowfat mayonnaise
1 cup whole wheat Panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded cheese, 2 tablespoons of the minced basil, cream, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Cut a pocket in the thickest part of the chicken breast. Stuff with cheese mixture and seal using a toothpick to help close the slit if necessary. Transfer the stuffed breasts to a 9x13-inch pan and spread the tops evenly with mayonnaise.

In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, remaining garlic, remaining basil, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the chicken breasts, pressing lightly to adhere.

Toss the tomatoes with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange the tomatoes in the baking dish in and around the chicken. Bake until the crumbs are golden brown and the chicken is cooked through (registering 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer), about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lighter Macaroni & Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes

I was talking to my mom the other day, and she was telling me that they are absolutely getting a bumper crop of tomatoes off their 3 plants right now. It hasn't gotten cold enough there to kill off the plants yet, and the plants are churning out tomatoes like crazy. Sounds like my eggplant plants! 

I spotted this dish several months ago when Natalie posted it on her blog, Oven Love, but I think it is quite appropriate right now with the change in seasons. While it is a lighter take on macaroni and cheese, there is certainly enough cheese and carbohydrates in here to land it squarely in the comfort food category. The summer link comes through the tomatoes - just in case you have the same bumper crop that my parents do :)
It has been several weeks since we made this dish, and in looking through my pictures, I am thinking that I want to add it to the menu again soon!  Natalie suggests making it in individual ramekins, however I didn't have enough small ramekins for the entire dish, so I simply made it in a large casserole dish. In changing it to a larger dish, I would do 2 things differently next time. One, add more tomatoes. I love how roasting tomatoes brings out their flavor, and I definitely could have done with more tomatoes in here! Two, roast the tomatoes for a little longer. Since the tomato slices were only roasted in the oven for 20 minutes, they were still pretty soft.  I wouldn't want to take them all the way to "dried" tomatoes for this dish, but I think I would rather have them somewhere in the middle between soft and water and fully dried. This may fully be a personal preference, so I'll post the recipe below as written and let you decide. Enjoy!
(Printable Recipe)

Lighter Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Oven Love and Martha Stewart

6 small vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 24, 1/4-inch thick slices
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, plus extra for sprinkling
coarse salt and pepper
1/2-3/4 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. elbow macaroni (whole wheat if you'd like)
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
pinch nutmeg
pinch cayenne
1 tsp. ground mustard
2 cups milk (I used skim)
4 oz. (1-1/8 cup) reduced-fat (NOT non-fat) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz. (1-1/8 cup) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 oz (about 1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread tomatoes in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle each sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tomatoes have softened, about 20 minutes. Leave the oven on.

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and pasta to the water. Return to a boil and cook pasta until al dente (about 2-3 minutes less than called for on the box). Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Whisk 1/2 cup of stock into the flour in a medium bowl. Set aside. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in nutmeg, cayenne, ground mustard, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add milk and remaining 1-1/2 cups of stock. Whisk in flour mixture. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce to a simmer. Cook 8 minutes, whisking frequently. Add cheeses, cook, stirring until melted. Pour over macaroni and stir to combine. 

Arrange the tomato slices to cover the bottom of a large casserole dish. There should be a few slices left. Carefully pour the macaroni over the tomatoes. Top with any remaining tomato slices. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and thyme. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Baked Veggie Sandwiches

I really can't believe it has taken me this long to post these. The dates on my pictures are in April! The idea comes for this recipe comes from Kara at Itty Bitty Bistro, but I ran across them here at Finding Joy in My Kitchen. Despite my delay time from dinner to blog, these little guys pack a big punch. The posts from these ladies are actually a couple years old (2009), and my only regret now is that I didn't find this recipe sooner!

The ingredients are really pretty unassuming - broccoli, red bell pepper, spinach, shredded carrots, cheddar cheese, and whole wheat dough, but they combine to make a sandwich packed with flavor. You can tell a recipe is good when a blogger ends up making it again, and this one is in our regular rotation :) I followed SnoWhite's directions exactly, except for I didn't refrigerate the dough since I did not make it the night before. We actually used Cabot brand reduced-fat cheddar cheese for half of the cheese (per a suggestion from America's Test Kitchen), and it worked really well. It was still ooey, gooey and had just a little less guilt.
I know that turning on your oven may not be the first thing on your mind right now, but as soon as the heat wave breaks, you really should try these out. Promise! We are having them tonight! 

(Printable Recipe)

Baked Veggie Sandwiches
From Finding Joy in My Kitchen (originally from Itty Bitty Bistro)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
2-1/4 tsp (1 pkg) rapid rise yeast
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup warm water

1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup red pepper, finely diced
1 cup broccoli, finely diced
1 cup spinach, finely diced
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. olive oil
marinara sauce for dipping (optional)

Combine flours, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl and mix well. Add oil and water and stir just until dough forms a ball. Knead a few times on a lightly floured surface. Set inside a bowl sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover and allow the dough to rise about an hour and a half until it is doubled in size. SnoWhite indicates that the dough can be made the night before and placed in the refrigerator for the first rise, although I have never done it this way.

Divide the dough in half, and let it sit, covered, in a bowl for about 30 minutes. When the dough is just about done, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the vegetables (except the spinach) and saute until crisp tender. Add spinach and cook until it is wilted. Set aside. 

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat an 8x8 inch square pan with cooking spray. Take 1/2 of the dough and stretch it to form a square, and place in the bottom of the pan. Cover with 1/2 of the cheese. Top with the vegetables and remaining cheese. Stretch the second piece of dough over the top of the cheese. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until warm and dough is cooked through and beginning to brown. Slice lengthwise and serve with marinara sauce if desired.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thin-Crust Pizza and Homemade Pizza Sauce

Today, I realized that I have a couple of "kitchen quests" that I am not sure will ever end. Aren't we all looking for that perfect brownie, chocolate chip cookie, or pie crust? I know that I certainly have several recipes saved for each of those things, however around here you can add another one to that list - pizza dough. I have a bread machine recipe that I shared on here over a year ago. It is a great recipe, but it tends to yield more of a "hand-tossed" crust. I still use it every once and awhile, but my husband would prefer one that wasn't quite so thick, especially when I use whole wheat flour. Thus, my quest for a perfect pizza crust began. 

Since the "great pizza crust quest" began, we've tried a couple of different recipes. Some of them just did not work for us. Others like this one, have great parts but do not quite meet all my requirements. Nevertheless, this crust recipe is definitely one to keep in my files. The positives include a sourdoughish flavor from the extra storage time, just enough puff on the edges to create that characteristic pizza crust, and a thin, crispy, well-baked interior of the dough beneath the toppings. The downsides - first, it takes some planning since it needs to sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Secondly, I really wish it was whole wheat. I have struggled with this last requirement in making whole wheat crusts. Whole wheat flour tends to create a denser crust, and I have not found a good way around this. One thing I haven't tried is white whole wheat flour. Does anyone know if that helps?
Aside from the crust, this pizza was pretty simple in order to showcase the crust. We were a little underwhelmed with cheese as the only topping, and in making it again, I would add other toppings. Nevertheless, one thing from this recipe that I know I will use again and again is the pizza sauce! Despite trying to make my own crust, I have never made my own pizza sauce, and I will never go back. This is one of the best pizza sauces I have ever tasted, and it literally took me 2 minutes to make. If that isn't deliciously simple, I am not sure what is. Enjoy!
(Printable Recipe)

Thin Crust Cheese Pizza
From Cook's Illustrated January-February 2011

3 cups (16.5 oz) bread flour, plus more for work surface
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1-1/3 cups (10.5 oz) ice water
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more for work surface (the recipe called for vegetable oil)
1-1/2 tsp. table salt

1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and liquid discarded
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
8 ounces shredded whole-milk mozzarella (about 2 cups)

For the dough, in a food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. With machine running, slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand 10 minutes. Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl, knead briefly on lightly oiled countertop until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. 

For the sauce, process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. This makes more than enough sauce for the 2 pizzas. Extra sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to a month. 

One hour before baking the pizza, adjust the oven rack to the second highest position (rack should be about 4 to 5 inches below the broiler), set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. Shape each half into a smooth, tight ball. Place on a lightly oiled sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick spray. Let stand for 1 hour.

Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour and place on a well-floured countertop. Using fingertips, gently flatten into an 8-inch disk, leaving 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker than the center. Using your hands, gently stretch the disk into a 12-inch round, working along the edges and giving the disk a quarter turn as you stretch. Transfer dough to a well-floured peel or to a piece of parchment paper and stretch into a 13-inch round. Using the back of a spoon or ladle, spread 1/2 cup of pizza sauce in a thin layer over the surface of the dough, leaving an 1/4-inch boarder around the edge. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, followed by 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Carefully slide the pizza off the peel onto the hot baking stone or transfer the pizza plus parchment paper to the hot stone. Bake until pizza is bubbly and beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pizza and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Yield: 2 13-inch pizzas 

Notes: I only used one portion of the crust and froze the 2nd portion for another day. Just place the dough in the refrigerator from the freezer the morning you intend to use it, and proceed with the directions for setting the dough out at room temperature 1 hour before baking.

Also, the authors say not to "overload" a thin crust with toppings. They suggest using only 6 ounces of vegetables, or no more than 4 ounces of pre-cooked meats.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Black Beans and Corn

When I was looking through my pictures hanging out in my "to blog" folder yesterday, I realized that I have a lot more main dishes than baked goods in my queue. This surprised me a little because I typically consider myself more of a baker than a cook, but maybe I'm growing into cooking a little bit more. My husband surprised me yesterday by telling me that he thinks I'm a better cook than I give myself credit for, and I suppose he is right in a sense. I mean, we need to eat, but I suppose that we don't necessarily NEED the cookies, bars, and popcorn creations that I end up making =) I am a lot more comfortable cooking than I used to be, and our dinner plans for the past month since I've been back have been pretty solid.

Speaking of good dinners, these stuffed peppers definitely fit that bill. In fact, I think my husband has told me that these were awesome no less than 15 times since we've had them. It should be no surprise that the recipe originates from the editors of Cook's Illustrated in their book, The Best Light Recipe. I have not had a CI recipe fail me yet, but the one complaint I do have is that they seem to disregard where recipes land with respect to total fat, calories, sodium, etc. in a recipe. This book combines the CI taste and recipe testing with a healthy focus. Unfortunately, since it was a library find, I had to return it this week when someone else put in a request for it, but I am already looking forward to checking it out again!
When I was making these, I actually combined it with another CI recipe that I was making later in the week so that I could make the black beans for both recipes at the same time. The original pepper recipe in the book calls for a 14.5 ounce can of black beans. I am sure that canned black beans would work in a pinch, but I beg you to take the time to cook the dried beans as I am certain this is what took these peppers from good to phenomenal. Before these peppers, I had never used dried beans, and now I am going to have a hard time going back. It does take more time, but the results are worth it. One thing to note, the cook time on the beans is a little short since you will be cooking them longer in the oven. When I took my beans off the stove, they were soft enough to eat but not quite fully cooked. While al dente is a term reserved for pasta, that seems to be the appropriate description for these beans. I've looked up some other recipes for cooking black beans and cook times seem to range more in the 1-2 hour time frame, so you may want to keep that in mind if you are using them for a purpose where they should be fully cooked. Another thing that I wanted to note is that I had WAY more filling than ever would have fit into 4 peppers. I probably had enough filling for more like 6-7 peppers. We just saved the extra in the refrigerator and cooked up fresh peppers each time to enjoy the leftovers.

Either way with the beans, I would encourage you to make these peppers. I seem to have a thing with stuffed peppers as I have two other recipes here and here. They are all good, but if you are craving a taste of summer, give these a shot. Enjoy!

This is linked to Melt in Your Mouth Mondays

(Printable Recipe)

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Black Beans and Corn
Adapted from The Best Light Recipe by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Illustrated, March - April 2011

For the beans:
1 cup dry black beans, rinsed and picked over
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 large onion, halved at equator and peeled, root end left intact
1/2 head of garlic, halved at equator with skin left intact
2 bay leaves 

For the peppers:
 4-6 medium red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (6 oz each), 1/2-inch trimmed off tops, stemmed and seeded
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed and minced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
6 ounces Pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 1-1/4 cup)
1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
ground black pepper

Dissolve 1-1/2 tablespoons salt in 2 quarts cold water in a large bowl. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.

In a large Dutch oven or stockpot with a tight fitting lid, stir together drained beans, broth, water, pepper half, onion half with the root end, halved garlic head, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until beans are just soft, 30 to 40 minutes. Using tongs, remove and discard the pepper, onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Drain beans in colander.

For the peppers, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the bell peppers. Cook until the peppers just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the peppers from the pot, drain off the excess water, and place the peppers cut-side up on paper towels. Return the water to a boil, stir in the rice, and boil unit tender, about 13 minutes. Drain the rice and transfer it to a large bowl; set aside.

Meanwhile, combine the oil, onion, jalapeno, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the onion is softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, black beans, and corn and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the rice. Stir in 1 cup Pepper jack cheese and the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the peppers cut-side up in a 9-inch square baking dish. Divide the filling evenly among the peppers, packing the filling lightly. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining shredded Pepper jack cheese. Bake until the filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

The filling mixture will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days. To prepare new peppers, boil the peppers for 3 minutes as directed. Fill with the extra filling and sprinkle with cheese if desired. Bake, as directed, for 30 minutes until the filling is hot. 

Yield: 4-6 servings 

Yellow Bell Peppers on FoodistaYellow Bell Peppers

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pepper Jack, Chicken, and Peach Quesadillas

I've been kind of a absentee blogger lately...dare I say negligent. Truthfully, I really haven't even been on blogger regularly in the past couple weeks. However, when my mother bugs me that she's been waiting for this recipe for awhile, it is time to post =)

We made these quesadillas from the August 2010 issue of Cooking Light a couple weeks ago while I was in AZ. With peaches in full season now, I've been craving them again! At first glance, it seems to be a weird combination of ingredients: peaches, cilantro, and pepper jack cheese? Nevertheless, the combination is wonderful. 

I used some of my husband's sliced Pepper Jack cheese that he had for sandwiches instead of shredding some from a block. That seemed to work pretty well except I didn't get quite enough cheese in the first couple quesadillas. After letting the hubbs, take over adding the cheese, we had perfectly gooey quesadillas. If any of you have kiddos, the recipe suggests subbing Monterrey Jack or fontina cheese if the Pepper Jack is too spicy.

If I had any other suggestions, don't sour cream sauce. It sounds simple, but it complements the quesadillas wonderfully!

(Printable Recipe)

Pepper Jack, Chicken, and Peach Quesadillas
From August 2010 issue of Cooking Light

For the sauce:
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 c. fat-free sour cream

For the quesadillas:
4 (8-inch) quesadillas (We used Light Flat-Out wraps)
3/4 c. (3 oz) shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1 c. chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1 c. thinly sliced firm-ripe peaches, peeled if desired
4 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro
cooking spray

Combine honey and lime juice in a small bowl, mixing well with a fork or whisk. Stir sour cream into honey mixture; cover and chill until ready to serve.

Place tortillas on a flat work surface. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons cheese over half of each tortilla;top each with 1/4 cup chicken, 1/4 cup peaches, and 1 teaspoon cilantro. Fold tortillas in half. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 2 quesadillas in the pan, and top each quesadilla with a skillet one size smaller. This helps the quesadillas cook faster and more evenly. Cook 1-1/2 minutes on each side or until tortillas are crisp and lightly browned. Remove quesadillas from pan; set aside and keep warm. Repeat procedure with the remaining quesadillas. Cut into wedges and serve with the sauce.
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