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Deep Dish Pizza – Chicago Style

15 Feb

I know we’re in good company when I say our family is comprised of pizza lovers.  My kids literally jump for joy on occasions when I declare that it’s “pizza night.”  Thin crust, regular crust, stuffed crust… we love ’em all.  From Pepperoni to a yummy BBQ Chicken Pizza, the pies don’t last long here.  But nothing – nothing – beats a truly great Deep Dish Pizza.

Deep Dish Pizza 3

The last time we were in Chicago, we made a point of visiting well-known joints popular for their deep dish pizzas.  Perhaps it was the huge crowds of people waiting and maxing out the kitchen… or maybe we needed to manage our expectations, but we were left a bit in wanting.

Deep Dish Pizza

Of course, there have been moments we’ve experienced pizza heaven at certain little pizza joints, and those memories always made me wish I could make my own deep dish pizza at home so we could have it anytime the craving hit.

Deep Dish Pizza 4

Rolling up the dough, starting from the short side

One day I noticed this deep dish pizza recipe resting in my humungous Cook’s Illustrated cookbook.  Nothing I’ve ever made in that beloved cookbook has ever turned out wrong, so I had a feeling this deep dish pizza would not disappoint.  We have never looked back.

Deep Dish Pizza 5

Slice rolled dough in half

This Chicago-style deep dish pizza turns out deeply flavorful and delish, so much so that the guys proclaimed it “way better at home.”  Deep dish victory!  The crust is appropriately crusty and deep, chewy yet tender, and not greasy at all.  The filling is a-ma-zing.  Awesome.  Mouthwatering.  Enviable.  Because other pies get jealous of this one.

Deep Dish Pizza 6

Roll both dough halves into balls. Two pizza crusts, ready to press into pan!

If you decide to make this, definitely follow original order for placing of the toppings.  The cheese goes first, then toppings, followed by sauce.  The cheese on the bottom is what prevents the crust from getting soggy…genius!  Wish I came up with that on my own.  The cooked pizza will yield a beautiful deep dish with cheese that stays melty underneath all the toppings your tummy desires.

Deep Dish Pizza 2

This recipe is for an awesome cheese/sausage combo, which is what we were craving the day I made this.  What’s your tummy craving?

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RECIPE (two 9-inch round pizzas)

INGREDIENTS

For the Dough:
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 1/4 tsp instant (rapid rise) yeast
2 tsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 1/4 cups room temp water
3 TB melted butter
4 TB  softened butter
olive oil

For the Sauce:
3 TB olive oil
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes with juices
1/2 tsp white sugar
2 TB dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Toppings:
1 lb (4 cups) freshly shredded mozzarella
1 lb bulk Italian sausage, browned and crumbled
4 TB freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

For the dough:  Using stand mixer and dough hook, mix flour, cornmeal, yeast, sugar, and salt on low until combined.  Add water and 3 TB melted butter and mix 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.  Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is glossy and smooth, 4-5 minutes.  Pliable dough should pull away from sides of bowl.

Coat large bowl with olive oil and place dough ball in bowl.  Turn dough around in the bowl to ensure all sides of dough are protected by oil.  Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

For the sauce:  Saute minced onion and garlic in 3 TB olive oil over medium heat until soft.  Add rest of sauce ingredients, except for salt/pepper.  Bring sauce to simmer and cook until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 25-30 min.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

Heat oven to 425F with rack on lowest position.  Turn dough out onto large surface.  Roll into 15×12 inch rectangle.  Spread 4 TB softened butter evenly over top of dough, leaving 1/2 in border along edges.  At the short end, roll dough into a tight cylinder (see photo.)  With seam side down, flatten cylinder to 18×4 in. rectangle.  Slice rectangle in half crosswise.  Working with one half at a time, fold dough into thirds and pinch seams together into a dough ball.  Return dough balls to oiled bowl, ensure all sides of the dough are protected with oil, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let rise in fridge until doubled, 40-50 min.

Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 TB olive oil each.  Transfer one dough ball to large surface and roll into disk, 1/4 in. thick.  Transfer to cake pan and gently press into pan, working into corners and up sides.  Repeat with other dough ball.  (If dough resists stretching, let it sit for 5 min covered and try again.)

Divide the 4 cups mozzarella in half and sprinkle on top of each pizza dough.  Follow by browned sausage (plus any other toppings desired.)  Next, spread 1 1/4 cups tomato sauce per pizza.  Last, sprinkle 2 TB Parmesan cheese per pizza.  Bake until crust is golden brown about 20-25 min.  Remove and let sit for 10 min. before serving.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

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Cioppino – Seafood Stew

13 Feb

Happy Valentines Day tomorrow!  I meant to give you this succulent Cioppino earlier in case you were looking for a special dinner inspiration, but better now than never.  You’ll want to save this recipe for your seafood-loving friends and family; they’ll be hard pressed to find a dinner as enjoyable as this intensely mouthwatering seafood stew.  Your peeps will adore you for cooking up this Cioppino for any special dinner.

Cioppino 1

I’ve been a seafood fan all my life.  My parents are adept at dishing up delicious sea fare, and living near the ocean most of my life sure didn’t hurt our fresh seafood consumption.  If you enjoy seafood, you already know there are very few things that parallel the awesomeness of a deeply satisfying bowl of good Cioppino.

Cioppino

We were previously under the assumption that Cioppino originated in Italy, which I gather is a common assumption.  In reality, Cioppino is considered Italian-American, as it was originated in good ol’ San Fransisco.  Cioppino is a concoction that resulted from fishermen combining their catches, creating a hearty stew with whatever good stuff was in their boats.  Catch-of-the-day stew.

Cioppino 4

I personally am supremely thankful for those fishermen who helped propel this wonderfully hearty, satisfying, and healthy stew.  It’s the perfect solution for cold weather dinners, and scrumptiously satisfying with crusty bread.  The bread is a must-have, for soaking up every drop of the light yet full-flavored broth that’s way too delectable to be wasted.

Cioppino 2

I’ve eaten Cioppino in many places, and it’s always made a little differently, depending on where you get it at.  Typically, there is a variety of shelled seafood (clams, mussels, shrimp, crab, etc.) combined with chunks of firm fish.  All swimming in an indescribably delicious warm broth.  If you can’t get certain shellfish but can get a hold of others, just sub with what is available to you.  Keep the shells on for cooking, as that is what lends the broth its amazing flavor.

Make it a date for two, or a dinner for eight.  My fave part – this phenomenal broth can be made the day before, and just add seafood the day of.  Enjoy!

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RECIPE (about 6 servings)

INGREDIENTS

2 medium onions, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup light olive oil
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
2 TB tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 can (28-32 oz) can whole plum tomatoes, drained and chopped.  Juices reserved.
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken or fish broth
2 TB white sugar
20 hard shelled clams
20 shelled mussels
1 lb firm fish (ie., halibut, snapper, or salmon)
1 lb very large shrimp (16-20 count-size), deveined, shell-on
1 lb large sea scallops, muscles removed from side if attached
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, freshly chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, freshly chopped
Crusty bread for serving


DIRECTIONS

Place first seven ingredients in a large heavy pot or dutch oven over moderate heat.  Cook until onions are soft, 5 min.  Stir in celery, bell pepper, and tomato paste, cooking 1 min.  Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5-6 min.  Stir in tomatoes, their juices, claim juice, broth, and sugar.  Simmer covered 30 min.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

(At this point, broth may be cooled and placed in fridge overnight.  When ready to serve, just bring broth back to simmer and continue with recipe.)

If ready to serve:  Bring stew to simmer.  Add clams and mussels until shells just open, checking every minute and transferring opened clams/mussels to a separate bowl with tongs immediately when they open.  Remaining unopened shellfish should be tossed out.  Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt/pepper.  Add them to the stew and simmer covered 3 minutes or just until shrimp turns opaque.  If shrimp turns opaque before the fish is done, remove shrimp to prevent overcooking.

Turn off heat and leave uncovered.  Discard bay leaves.  Return all cooked shellfish back into the stew.  Add parsley.  Serve warm stew in bowls, garnishing with fresh basil.  Serve with crusty bread.

By:  Chew Out Loud, adapted by Gourmet

Wine Pairing:  A good quality dry Sauvignon Blanc or crisp Rose will go beautifully here.

Notes:  Feel free to use whatever fresh/good quality seafood is available to you.  Many people like to include crab legs.  The most important thing is not to overcook the seafood.  If I have any leftovers, sometimes I pour it over al dente pasta the next day… amazing.

Cantina Steak Burrito

11 Feb

Fast ‘n easy burritos have come a long way, in my humble book.  I recall a few crazy days in my childhood when my hard-working mom would hurriedly dish out quick bean and cheese burritos for our lunch.  Then, in high school, there were those interesting burritos in the lunch line.  And don’t forget college days when frozen burritos could be considered a well-rounded meal.  Nowadays, a burrito on-the-go means something completely different than what it meant back in the day. Cantina Steak Burrito

Today Hubby took one of our boys out for their usual father/son outing.  After their fun adventure, they sweetly brought lunch home for me.  This big Cantina Steak Burrito is what I pulled out of my bag.  A far cry from the to-go burritos of my youth.  I’m suddenly hungry.

It’s been awhile since we’ve been to Taco Bell, and we don’t do much fast food, but seriously?  After sinking our teeth into this flavorful burrito, we’ll go back for seconds.  It’s hefty enough to share if you’re willing, and filled with fresh ingredients that you normally wouldn’t expect on a drive-thru menu.  I want to try to chicken version, which Chef Lorena  shares her recipe for.

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Did I say hefty?  Savory pieces of steak, tender rice, black beans, roasted corn, guacamole, and creamy cilantro-lime sauce.   Tucked snugly in a big, chewy, flour tortilla that’s browned on the exterior.

When Hubby heard my “mmm,” he wanted a bite of my lunch.

Cantina Steak Burrito 3

Huh.  The little guy somehow got his hands on half of my food.  But tomorrow’s his birthday, so I’ll be nice and share.  Just this once 🙂

This post was sponsored by Taco Bell, but all opinions are entirely my own.

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This post is sponsored by Taco Bell. See how great our steak is when you try the new Cantina Steak Burrito. Because when it comes to a great steak burrito, it’s all about the steak.

French Beef Stew (Boeuf Bourguignon)

7 Feb

Don’t let the Boeuf fool you.  Boeuf Bourguignon became a household term after Julie and Julia in 2009.  Despite sounding delicious, the dish got a bit of a fussy reputation.  Admittedly, upon initial glance at the multi-step instructions, I almost felt a stumble in my stride.  To go forth or not?

Boeuf Bourguignon French beef stew

Ultimately, curiosity took over and Mr. Boeuf lost his intimidation factor.  Victory!  That was well over a year ago.  This succulent dish has since become one of my favorite entrees.  Whether we’re having dinner guests or craving something special for the fam, this French Beef Stew is consistently a no-fail crowd pleaser.  After all, ultimately it’s just a good beef stew.  Taken up a notch.

Boeuf Bourguignon French beef stew 2

The bit that takes some pre-planning is the browning of individual cubes of beef.   You’ll have to wear an apron, but the complex flavors are so worth it.  Browned chunks of beef are cooked down in red wine and savory broth, adorned with mushrooms and pearl onions.  Flavorful herbs are slow cooked in the broth. The result is the most tender, savory, richly flavorful beef stew ever experienced.

Hint:  Make this stew the night before and simply reheat when ready to seve.  Relax on the day of your dinner party…how great is that?!  Plus, the flavors in the stew infuse even further with time.  Indescribably delish.

Boeuf Bourguignon French beef stew 3

Serve up your boeuf Bourguignon with a rustic, crusty bread or egg noodles or carb of choice.  You really can’t go wrong here.  Break out a bottle of a  plush, fruit-forward Pinot Noir for a phenomenal pairing.

Seriously, make this for your next dinner party.  Or date night.  Valentines Day.  Family weekend.  Your loved ones will be singing your praises.  Enjoy! 🙂

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RECIPE (6 servings)

INGREDIENTS

Light olive oil or peanut oil
12 oz thick applewood smoked bacon, diced
3 lbs chuck beef, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into chunks or coins
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
10 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 cup Cognac
2 cups good Pinot Noir (or other good quality dry red)
2 1/2 – 3 cups low sodium beef broth
2 TB tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
4 TB room temp butter
3 TB flour
1 lb frozen pearl onions, whole
1 lb fresh button or cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
3 bay leaves
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Heat 2 TB oil in large Dutch oven (or heavy, oven-safe pot with tight fitting lid.)  Add bacon and cook over medium until evenly and lightly browned throughout.  Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to a large plate.  Remaining oil and grease should stay in the pot.

Using paper towels, thoroughly dry uncooked beef and sprinkle the cubes evenly with a thin layer of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Reheat the oil/bacon grease in the Dutch oven and sear the beef cubes in a single layer, working in batches, until each cube is brown on all sides.  Do not over crowd the pan, making sure to leave some space between each piece of beef.  Add more oil as needed to finish browning.  Set beef aside in plate with the bacon.

If needed, add 2 TB to pot and heat oil.  Add carrots, onions, garlic, 1 TB kosher salt, 2 tsp black pepper and saute for 5 minutes until onions are lightly browned.  Deglaze bottom of pot, adding 1 TB oil as needed.  Add Cognac and cook another 10 minutes on medium.

Add beef and bacon back into Dutch oven with their juices.  Add the wine and enough beef broth to almost cover all the meat.  Add tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaves.  Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally.  Once liquid is reaches a simmer, cover the pot with tight fitting lid and place in oven for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until meat is very tender when pierced with fork.

Meanwhile, mix together 2 TB butter with 3 TB flour in small bowl and set aside.  Saute mushrooms with 2 TB butter in skillet just until mushrooms start to become soft.

Remove stew from oven.  Add the butter/flour mixture, frozen pearl onions, and mushrooms to the stew.  Bring to a boil on stovetop and immediately reduce to simmer.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Skim off any fat off the top.  Remove bay leaves.  Season with additional kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread or egg noodles.

Source:  Chew Out Loud (adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Ina Garten)

Note:  If not serving immediately, let the stew cool to room temp and store in fridge.  Just before serving, bring stew to a simmer.  Cover and simmer 15 min, basting with its own sauce a few times while simmering.

Wine Pairing:  A good quality red, similar to the one you used in the recipe.  A jammy Pinot Noir recommended.

Hearty White Chicken Chili

2 Feb

I might have a new addiction to hearty foods.  I recently gave you two of our favorites: Hearty, Chunky Chili and Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup.  Maybe it’s the winter; around our neck of the freezing woods, hearty dishes are more than a mild craving.  Not to mention all the game-day celebrations, which call out for eats that would satisfy a crowd of ravenous guys.  And gals 🙂

White Chicken Chili

So, yeah, I’ll go ahead and add another one to the hearty list.  This white chicken chili hits the spot.  When the weather is cold, I love having my slow cooker filled to the brim with this goodness.

White Chicken Chili 3

Hearty white chicken chili is all that its name suggests… and more.  Chunky bites of tender white chicken, soft white beans, and sweet corn for texture.  All bathed in a mouth-watering broth.  Perfect if a chewy loaf of rustic bread  were to show up alongside of it.  Or bust out these easy sweet corn muffins…sooo YUM.

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I’ve tried various white chicken chili recipes, but always return to this one as my go-to fave.  They all taste yummy, but my laziness brings me back to this great recipe, because it’s super e-a-s-y.  As in, you don’t have to cook the chicken meat separately first.  Yep, it’s true.  Just throw all the goodness into one big slow cooker and let it go.  Just let it go.  Dinnertime 🙂

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RECIPE (10-12 servings)

INGREDIENTS

4 lbs uncooked skinless, boneless chicken breast tenders, cut into chunks
3 (15 oz each) cans Northern beans, drained
2 (10.5 oz each) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
2 (15 oz each) cans corn
2 cups chicken broth
4 small onions, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp oregano
2 1/2  tsp cumin
1 tsp Tobasco sauce
6 TB flour
salt and pepper to taste
Shredded cheddar for garnish, optional

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients (except salt/pepper) into large slow cooker.  Mix well to incorporate.  Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours or until chicken is no longer pink and onions are soft.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Turn slow cooker to “warm” setting, and keep warm until ready to serve.  If desired, garnish with shredded cheddar.  Serve with bread, chips, or corn muffins.

Source:  Chew Out Loud (adapted from an old recipe by my sweet friend Ashley)

Notes:  If you want to thicken your chili further after cooking, mix in 1 TB of flour at a time until desired thickness is achieved and let it cook another 30 min or so.  If you want to thin it out, simply add more chicken broth until desired consistency.

Hearty, Chunky Chili

17 Jan

We’re bracing ourselves for an insane cold front, scheduled to arrive in a couple of days.  The anticipation of well-below-zero  afternoons brings on a certain amount of trepidation.  My favorite remedy against frigid temps, besides curling up by the fire?  Food, of course 🙂  Something big and hearty, like this chunky Chili.

Hearty Chili

This could be dubbed Super Chili.  It’s a man’s chili.  Whatever that means.  Superbowl food?  This makes a huge batch, so it definitely would feed a bunch of hungry guys.  Bottom line:  This is our favorite chili of all time, and we’ve had many a chili.  I got this recipe from my good friend Tiffany, known as Auntie Tiff to my kids.  She generously shared her famous chili recipe with me, and I have never looked for another.  Thank you!

Hearty Chili 2

I’ve tweaked this Chili recipe a bit over the years, but it’s still the same delicious hot bowl that your peeps will love to sit down to after coming indoors on a cold winter day.  A warming dinner, perfect after a long day at work or at play.  This hearty chili is almost enough to make you feel you’ve defeated that dreary blizzard outside.  Not really, but it is  pretty phenomenal.

Hearty Chili 3

I often use ground turkey in lieu of beef, but either works great.  The savory turkey or beef is mixed with chunky veggies like sweet bell peppers and tomatoes.  The heat is up to you.  Top it off with shredded cheese and watch that yummy cheese melt into your hot bowl of chili.   Sweet corn muffins are deliciously moist and go perfectly with chili, every time.

Enjoy, stay warm, and feed some hungry friends!

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RECIPE (10-12 servings)

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs. lean ground turkey or beef
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh round black pepper
1-2 TB light olive oil
32 oz good tomato sauce (I love Premium Hunts Pasta Sauce for thickness and flavor)
16 oz can Italian diced tomatoes, with juices
16 oz can kidney beans, drained
16 oz can black beans, drained
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2-4 tsp chili powder, depending on desired amount of heat
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
Dash of cayenne
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Dash of allspice
Shredded Cheddar or Jack cheese for topping

DIRECTIONS

Mix uncooked ground meat with 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp kosher salt, and 1 tsp pepper.  Mix together well.  Add olive oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven and cook meat until browned, breaking it up while you cook.

In same heavy pot or Dutch oven, add in the rest of ingredients to the browned meat.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Immediately reduce to simmer and cover.  Simmer, covered, for 4 hours until flavors are infused.

Top with shredded cheese and serve with sweet corn muffins.

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Note:  Chili can also be done in a slow cooker.  Cook on low for up to 7 or 8 hours, but not longer.

Homestyle Chicken Chow Mein Noodles

14 Jan

Chow mein is one of those popular staples at any Chinese restaurant.  But…just like no two burger joints make a burger exactly the same way, every restaurant does their chow mein a little bit differently.

Homestyle Chicken Chow Mein

We’re a family that’s fond of all things pasta, so we’ll happily nosh on most varieties of chow mein.  Thin noodles, thick noodles, noodles galore.  It’s all good, as long as the “chow mein” is actually comprised of said noodles, and not a mountain of sprouts and crunchy stick things.

Homestyle Chicken Chow Mein 2

Of course, most dear to my heart is the homestyle variety… the kind of Chicken Chow Mein noodles my parents would make at home.  The kind I often throw together in my own kitchen and my kids devour.  The kind that quickly gets chowed down if taken to potlucks.

Homestyle Chicken Chow Mein 3

This homestyle chicken chow mein is chock full of chewy noodles, julienned carrots, broccoli florets, mushrooms, and chicken.  All good things, embellished with garlic and savory flavors.  Use whatever veggies and protein you like, and you’ll have a dish you love.

Homestyle Chicken Chow Mein 4

Try it and you’ll quite possibly never look at Chinese take-out chow mein the same again.  It’s super easy to cook up and reheats really well.   And…add those crunchy sticks if you must 🙂  Enjoy!

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RECIPE (makes 4-6 main dish servings)

INGREDIENTS

Peanut or light olive oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped and divided
1 head fresh broccoli florets, cut to bite size
1 cup carrots, peeled and julienned
8oz button or rehydrated Shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
14.5 oz dried spaghetti
Asian oyster sauce
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Optional:  Chopped scallions or cilantro for garnish

For the Chicken Mixture:
1 lb chicken breast, skinless and boneless
3 TB rice cooking wine (not vinegar)
3 TB regular soy sauce (not light)
1 TB Asian pure sesame oil, typically brown in color
2 TB sugar
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced

DIRECTIONS

Do Ahead:  Dry chicken breasts and cut into bite size pieces.  Mix chicken with all of Chicken Mixture ingredients, making sure all chicken pieces are in contact with marinade.  Marinade at least 2 hours or overnight.

Start boiling a large pot of salted water for the pasta.

Heat 2 TB oil in large heavy skillet or wok.  Cook chicken with marinade until chicken is no longer pink in center.  Do not overcook.  Transfer cooked chicken with juices to a large bowl and set aside.

In same skillet/wok, heat 2 TB oil and cook half of the chopped garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add broccoli florets and julienned carrots.  Cook on medium high until just tender, adding dashes of water as needed to keep veggies from drying out.  Add 2 tsp kosher salt,  1 TB oyster sauce, and 1/2 tsp black pepper.  Stir fry another minute.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook just until soft.  Transfer veggies to the bowl with cooked chicken.

Cook spaghetti noodles just until al dente – not more.  Drain in colander; don’t rinse.  Heat 3 TB oil in large pot or wok with rest of chopped garlic, cooking just until fragrant.  Add back the cooked noodles.  Add 2 T Asian sesame oil and 4 TB oyster sauce.  Stir fry the noodles on medium about 3 minutes (easier with chopsticks.)  Add salt/pepper to taste, if needed.

Stir in desired amount of cooked veggies/chicken mixture with juices (use all of it, or save some to go with rice the next day.)  Stir fry thoroughly a few more minutes, until well incorporated.

Garnish with chopped scallions or cilantro if desired.  Serve warm.

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta

10 Jan

Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta.  That’s a mouthful. 🙂  But don’t let the lengthy moniker fool you.  This tasty pasta dish is deliciously simple.  Bonus:  it’s good for you!

Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta

Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta boasts players like chicken breast, garlic, spinach, and pesto.  We love making easy homemade pesto, which tastes fresh and super delish.  You’ll love making your own pesto, which also stores well in the fridge.  I haven’t tried store bought pesto, but it’ll probably work in a pinch.

Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta 2

This Chicken Florentine pasta dish is light and perfect for keeping up all those healthy New Year resolutions.  What this dish isn’t light on is flavor.  It is absolutely savory and yummy.  My family loves this pasta, and my 3 year old actually chomps away happily at the spinach!  (Now, if I can get the older siblings to do the same.)

Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta 3

Serve up this pasta with a nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc, and you’ve got a fabulous dinner!  Make it a delicious weeknight supper for the family or weekend dinner with guests.  Either way, this Chicken Florentine Pasta is phenomenal.  Enjoy!

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RECIPE (6-8)

INGREDIENTS

16 oz dried penne pasta
4 chicken breast pieces (about 1 1/2 lbs total)
kosher salt and table salt
freshly cracked black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup crisp white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
9-10 oz bag of fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup prepared pesto
1 cup freshly grated parmesan

DIRECTIONS

Boil a large pot of well-salted water.  Cook penne until al dente.  Drain (don’t rinse.)  Toss drained penne with some olive oil to prevent sticking.  Keep warm.

While pasta is preparing, make the chicken:  Put cling wrap over each piece of chicken on a cutting board.  Pound each piece evenly thin (about 1/4 inch thickness.)  Sprinkle each chicken piece lightly and evenly with kosher salt and pepper, on both sides.  Heat 2 TB of olive oil in a large skillet and brown two of the chicken breasts on both sides over medium high heat.  Cook just until chicken is cooked through; about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on how cold and thick the chicken is.  Repeat with remaining pieces.  Slice chicken breasts into strips and set aside.

Put chopped onion and garlic into skillet with 2 TB oil.  Saute 2-3 minutes until fragrant.  Add the white wine and 1/2 tsp table salt.  Boil vigorously until liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

Add fresh spinach and saute on medium-low, stirring often, just until spinach begins wilting.  Turn heat to low.  Add cooked chicken, cream, and pesto, stirring to combine and warm up, about 1 min.  Remove from heat.

In a large serving bowl or dish, combine cooked penne with the chicken/spinach mixture.  Season with more kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Mix in fresh parmesan, reserving some for garnish.  Serve immediately.

Wine Pairing Note:  This pasta dish is perfect with a crisp, light Sauvignon Blanc

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Simply Recipes 

Eggs Benedict Casserole

28 Dec

Last weekend, Hubby and I took the boys out for a morning surprise.  This year, we have been all about surprising the kids with out-of-the-blue outings.  They love the unexpected discovery of a Minivan Express ticket (idea via Pinterest, my current addiction), signaling that they have 10 minutes to don their coats, shoes, and dash into our minivan for an unheralded adventure.

Hey, if I have to drive a minivan, I’m gonna make it fun.

Eggs Benedict Casserole

Our most recent adventure included a stopover with Santa and his elves.  Then, we headed out to brunch.  One of my sweet boys, knowing me so well, scanned the menu for Eggs Benedict – my all-time favorite breakfast dish.

Eggs Benedict Casserole 2

Eggs Benedict is awesome for breakfast/brunch at a restaurant, but not exactly the quickest thing to whip up at home.  Not for me, at least, because I am not a morning person.  SO not.  Which is why I jumped with excitement when I found this Eggs Benedict Casserole that can be assembled the night before and baked when you need it!

Eggs Benedict Casserole 3

This Eggs Benedict casserole is full of savory goodness.  Tasty and delish!   It won’t be exactly like classic Eggs Benedict, of course, because the eggs here are fully cooked.  This is more like an egg bake that includes the players of Eggs Benedict:  Canadian bacon, English muffins, eggs, and homemade Hollandaise sauce.  I haven’t tried packet sauces, but I’m sure that would work in a pinch also.

Enjoy your mornings!

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RECIPE (one 9×13 dish)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb Canadian bacon (ham works, too) – chopped
6 English muffins, split and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 TB onion powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
fresh chopped parsley for garnish

For the Sauce:
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 TB lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup melted butter
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Grease a 9×13 baking dish.  Place half of the Canadian bacon in bottom of dish.  Top with English muffins.  Follow with remaining Canadian bacon.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, onion powder, kosher salt, garlic powder, and black pepper.  Pour evenly over top of casserole.  Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Remove casserole from fridge at least 30 minutes prior to baking and preheat oven to 375F.   Sprinkle casserole evenly with paprika.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes on lower middle rack.  Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer or until the center is done.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley, if desired.

Meanwhile, make the sauce:  In a double broiler or metal bowl over simmering water (don’t let bowl touch water), constantly whisk together egg yolks, heavy cream, lemon juice, mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Continue whisking until sauce is thick enough to coat back of spoon.  Reduce heat to low.  Drizzle in melted butter, whisking constantly.  Add more salt/pepper if needed. Serve sauce immediately with casserole.  (If sauce stands too long and gets too thick, add a bit of hot water to thin out, 1 tsp as needed.)

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Taste of Home

Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Potato Casserole

27 Dec

Know anyone who is looking for ways to use up that holiday ham?   Our family is pretty good about eating leftovers, but after a couple of days, we’re ready to transform it into something that feels new.

This Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole is one of our favorite ways to renew a leftover ham.  It’s a hands-down phenomenal brunch dish.  In fact, it’s popular enough to bring out for dinner.  Good grub is a winner at any time of day 🙂

Cheesy Ham 'n Hash Brown Bake

This Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole is easy to throw together the night before and bake up the next morning.  If you need something easy and super tasty for brunch on New Year or an upcoming weekend, here it is.  It’s the perfect fuss-free, wake-up-late breakfast cure.   Totally my style.  Did I mention this is a fabulous way to use up leftover ham?

Cheesy Ham 'n Hash Brown Bake 5

This yummy dish is chock full of cheese, ham, frozen hash brown, and whatever add-ins your palate desires.  We like a bit of red bell pepper for texture and color, and of course sprinkled with crumbled bacon on top – because a bit of bacon makes everything better.  Even the kiddos inhale this cheesy casserole.

Cheesy Ham 'n Hash Brown Bake 3

This Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole is also one of our favorite things to bring to brunch potlucks.  You’ll want to keep this recipe in a safe place for your next potluck contribution.  It’s a popular crowd-pleaser, and you’ll love going home with an empty casserole dish.  Though a little left over could be good, too 🙂

Cheesy Ham 'n Hash Brown 4

Here’s to a carefree, delicious weekend morning.  Enjoy the rest of the holidays!

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RECIPE (one 9×13 casserole)

INGREDIENTS

32-oz package frozen plain hash brown potatoes
2 cups cooked, diced ham
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cans condensed cream of potato soup
16 oz sour cream (lowfat is ok)
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
5-6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (real bacon bits work, too)

DIRECTIONS

In very large bowl, combine:  frozen hash browns, ham, bell pepper, cream of potato soup, sour cream, Cheddar cheese, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.  Gently mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Spread evenly into a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon.   If not baking yet, wrap tightly and place in fridge until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Bake 45 min to 1 hour on middle rack, until bubbly and golden on top.  Serve immediately, while hot.  Enjoy!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from allrecipes

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