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Tag Archives: cheese

Cheesy Potato Breakfast Casserole

30 May

Another school year is about to end, and celebrations abound.  There are end-of-year lunches and brunches to celebrate the year’s achievements, big or small.  Ushering in the welcome summer and contemplating what lies ahead.

Cheesy Potato and Sausage Bake

Any festivity that involves brunch is a happy thing.  I love brunch food.  If it isn’t something sweet, then it’s got to be something deliciously savory… and cheesy.  One of my favorites is this Cheesy Ham ‘n Hash Brown Casserole.  But I made that for our last brunch event, so I did a different cheesy bake for this round.

Cheesy Potato and Sausage Bake 2

This Cheesy Potato Breakfast Casserole is uber cheesy.  Three kinds of cheese, eggs, potatoes, and browned sausage for excess yum factor.  It is wonderfully easy to whip up the night before.  Let it sit in the fridge overnight, and it bakes up into a crowd-pleasing dish the next day.  We love make-ahead dishes around here.  It helps hectic mornings run a little smoother.

Cheesy Potato and Sausage Bake 3

This Cheesy Potato Breakfast Casserole is smooth, robust with flavor, and an instant hit with both little people and grown-ups.  I made an extra dish of this for the boys, who requested it again for dinner.  I indulged them.  It is, after all, the end of their school year.

Enjoy!

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CHEESY POTATO BREAKFAST CASSEROLE (one 9×13)

INGREDIENTS

1 large onion, chopped
1 pound bulk sausage
4 cups (20 oz) plain frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
9 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
3 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.

Heat heavy large skillet over medium heat.  Cook sausage and onion, stirring often and breaking up the bulk sausage into small pieces.  Cook until sausage is browned throughout.  Drain and set aside.

In a very large bowl, combine potatoes, eggs, Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, Swiss cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Add cooked sausage mixture.  Stir to combine well.  Pour entire mixture into prepared baking dish.  Can tightly cover and refrigerate overnight, if desired.

Bake in preheated oven 50-60 minutes or until eggs are set and cheese is melted.  If casserole sat in fridge all night, it may need to bake a bit longer.  Watch and cover with foil if the top starts browning too much in the oven.  Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from allrecipes

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Perfectly Creamy Mac ‘n Cheese

22 Feb

For many, mac ‘n cheese means warmth and comfort.  Many of us grew up on mac ‘n cheese and can recall random stories that involve this family friendly pasta dish.

Perfectly Creamy Mac 'n Cheese 2

Back in junior high, I would come home famished, and cook myself some stovetop shells and cheese of the Velveeta variety.  That was my after-school snack.  Then, I’d venture on to eat a normal dinner later.  Those were the days.

Perfectly Creamy Mac 'n Cheese 3

Now that I’m all grown up, I’ve worked through what feels like a mountain of homemade mac ‘n cheese recipes, hoping to capture that rich and creamy texture using fresh ingredients.  No ingredients I can’t pronounce, please.

Perfectly Creamy Mac 'n Cheese

Needless to say, I’ve had my share of hits and misses.  One solid recipe almost made it to post-worthy status, but it was a teensy grainy, so it didn’t make the cut.  Another popular recipe was great right out of the oven, but the leftovers were kind of clumpy.

You know I’m here to share “the one.”  The one mac ‘n cheese made with whole ingredients that is worthy enough to have its own post.

Perfectly Creamy Mac 'n Cheese 4

This mac ‘n cheese is perfectly creamy, rich, superbly cheesy, and big on flavor.  It’s fabulous right out of the oven, and it manages to reheat surprisingly well.  Sharp white cheddar makes all the difference, with its super creamy texture.  Pecorino Romano puts this dish over the top.  It’s deliciously pungent, and lends toothsome flavor to the cheese sauce.  Grate your own fresh cheeses, as it makes a difference in the texture too.

With more winter days lying ahead, it’s the perfect time to make the perfect mac ‘n cheese.  Round your people up for a warming, comforting, satisfying meal.  Enjoy!

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RECIPE (12 servings)

INGREDIENTS
6 TB regular butter
5 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 1/2 (18 oz) cups freshly grated sharp white cheddar
1 1/4 cups (5 oz) freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1 lb elbow macaroni pasta

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 375F with rack in middle position.  Grease a large casserole dish and set aside.

Fill large pot with salted water.  Bring to boil, add macaroni and cook 2 minutes fewer than the package states for al dente.  You want the pasta just under al dente (outside of pasta cooked and inside is a bit underdone.)  Transfer cooked macaroni to colander, rinse well, and set aside to drain.

In saucepan, heat milk until hot and set aside.  In large pot, melt 6 TB butter over medium heat.  When butter starts bubbling, add flour and cook 1-2 minutes, constantly stirring.

Add hot milk into flour-butter mixture, whisking constantly.  Continue cooking and whisking on medium heat until mixture bubbles and becomes thick, about 10 min.

Turn heat off.  Stir in garlic and onion powder, nutmeg, black pepper, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper.  Add 3 cups of the white cheddar and 1 cup of the Pecorino Romano.  Mix thoroughly until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth and creamy.

Add cooked macaroni into cheese sauce and stir to combine well.  Pour mixture into greased casserole dish, distributing evenly.  Sprinkle top with remaining 1 1/2 cups white cheddar and 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano.  (To add breadcrumbs, see note below.)  Bake until top is golden brown, about 30 min.  If needed, broil a minute or two until desired browning.  Let casserole cool about 5 minutes and serve.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Note:  I didn’t use breadcrumbs for this recipe by preference.  If you want to include chunky bread crumbs:  Cube 6 slices of good quality (crust removed) bread into 1/4 in. pieces.  Place pieces in bowl and mix with 2 TB melted butter and toss well. Scatter breadcrumbs over top of casserole right before baking. 

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

Brie en Croute

7 Dec

Ready or not, here it comes!  December has arrived and holiday season is absolutely in full swing.  The ongoing festivities beckon a cheerfulness that warms the chilly air, even for self-proclaimed cold wimps as myself.  Each weekend, we’re observing cars galore parked in driveways of homes, signaling a jolly party within.  Our own family created some merry memories hosting a couple of recent dinner parties.  If all goes as planned, we’re hoping to host and attend a few more precious celebrations this season.

20121020-130316

In honor of this magical season, I’m showing off the delectable little Brie en Croute that’s popular on my dinner party menu.  Cute, isn’t it?  Some of the best things come in little packages.  This adorable appetizer is gigantic on flavor, and will take the edge off those ravenous tummies while your family/friends wait for dinner to be served.  Beware of this phenomenal appetizer’s capacity to steal the show.  Definitely be forewarned that the recipe will be highly requested.  Either that, or you’ll be asked to make it every year thereafter.  It could easily become your annual contribution.

Brie En Croute 4

Brie en Croute.  It’s pronounced on-kroot, with gutteral and nasal-ish french accent.  Don’t forget to roll the “r.”  Keep repeating just for fun, oui?  In French, “en croute” refers to anything delish baked in a pastry crust.  That is indeed the sweet secret of this appetizer.  On the outside, it appears to be some kind of rotund pastry thingy flanked by crackers.  Oh, but once it is sliced into… that is the big reveal.

Brie En Croute 6

The first slice into the buttery, flaky pastry exterior reveals the warm silky Brie lying just beneath the surface.  Resting on top of the soft Brie cheese is a gorgeous layer of toasted pecans and sweet raspberry preserves.  We love how flexible this Brie en Croute is; select your favorite nut and fruit mixture, if pecans and raspberries aren’t your cup of tea.   Almost any combination will result in a fabulous treat.

Brie en Croute 7

My favorite part about Brie en Croute?  It is unbelievably easy to pull off.  It’s quickly assembled ahead of time, to be baked up right before you need it.  Just try to let it cool off a bit after baking before digging in, if you can wait.  It’s awesome to have on the holiday menu, whether you’re the host or the guest.  Or present it as a hostess gift and the recipient can bake it up when she needs a mouth-watering treat.  Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

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RECIPE (10 servings)

INGREDIENTS

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 whole wheel Brie, 8 oz
1/4 cup raspberry preserves (or other fruit)
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 beaten egg
turbinado (or coarse) sugar for garnish
assorted crackers for serving alongside

DIRECTIONS

Defrost puff pastry about 15 minutes and unfold.  Preheat oven to 375F and set rack in middle.

Slice off a thin layer of top rind only (we leave the rest of rind on, but feel free to remove it if desired.)  Lay puff pastry sheet out on flat surface and roll out just a little bit if needed to cover entire Brie.  Place Brie in center of the pastry.  Top brie with nuts and preserves.  Gently pull up edges of pastry, wrapping the Brie completely, and gather pastry edges at the top.  Secure the gathered dough at top with kitchen twine.  Double check that none of the Brie is exposed, carefully sealing the dough on all sides.  Brush the beaten egg all over top and sides of pastry.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Place Brie on parchment paper on cookie sheet.  Bake 20 minutes or until pastry is a nice golden brown.  Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serve with assorted crackers.

By chewoutloud

Note:  Baked brie should cool a bit before serving, to allow it to regain a bit of shape.  Otherwise, it will be too melted and spill out.  Also, you can use extra puff pastry to make cut-outs for exterior design, if you’re going for an ultra special presentation.

*I’m excited that this recipe will be entered in this month’s Shine Supper Club contest, so check that out!

Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread

3 Dec

Bread just might be one of the very best edible creations ever.  Around here, we find nearly impossible to refuse soft, chewy, yummy bread.  When I’ve got a bit of time to spare, I work out my issues by making all kinds of bread from scratch.  Kneading and punching down dough is like therapy, but cheaper.  Our all-time favorites include rosemary garlic bread and those “famous” breadsticks.

Ok, but what if one is short on time?  Something’s gotta give when I’m in a time crunch and my beloved peeps are hungry for a hearty bread to go with their pasta.

Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread

Enter this super easy, cheesy, garlicky bread.  Cheese + garlic + crusty bread = Scrumptious.   How can that trio not be perfect together?  This cheesy garlic bread is chock full of savory garlic, butter, and cheese.  It’s tender and soft on the inside, and crisp on the outside.  This garlic cheese bread comes together in a pinch, so you can easily pop it in the oven at the last minute for tempting oven-fresh bread.

Easy Cheesey Garlic Bread 2

Try to use a large, thick, and crusty bread loaf, which will provide that hearty texture.  And, though eight cloves of crushed garlic may sound like a typo, rest assured that it’s correct.  Once it’s all thrown together, the garlic flavor actually tends to get lost, so the herb formula here is:  the more, the merrier.

Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread 3

Y-U-M.  Serve up your cheesy garlic bread with any pasta, soup, or salad dish.  It’s fabulous to use for soaking up broth, if you’re making a dish with savory broth to spare.  This bread is definitely best served warm, right out of the oven, so enjoy it immediately.

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RECIPE (1 large loaf)

INGREDIENTS
1 large, thick loaf of crusty bread (i.e., a rustic Italian or French loaf)
8 cloves of crushed garlic
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 TB regular butter
4 TB good olive oil
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
fresh parsley, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine the crushed garlic, garlic powder, butter, and oil in a saucepan and heat over low for several minutes, until incorporated.  Set aside.

Split loaf in half, lengthwise, and place on foil-lined baking sheet.  Brush bread generously with garlic butter mixture.   Bake bread 5-10 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Remove bread and sprinkle evenly with cheese and parsley.  Adjust oven to broil, and broil bread about 1 minute, or just until desired level of golden brown is achieved and cheese is melted.  Watch carefully and remove bread as soon as it looks done.

Cut into thick slices, wrap in clean cloth, and serve immediately.

By Chewoutloud

Panko Mozzarella Sticks

6 Nov Panko Mozzarella Sticks

If you are a cheese fan and enjoy a good crunch, you’ll really appreciate these Panko Mozzarella Sticks.  They are absolutely the perfect finger food.  These cheesy snacks will be snatched up in a wink if you serve them up for Game Day… or any day, really.

Panko Mozzarella Sticks

Gooey warm Mozzarella is encased by a beautifully crisp exterior – thanks to Panko breadcrumbs, in lieu of traditional bread crumbs.  Panko is definitely in.  Thankfully, a bag of Panko can easily be found in Asian aisles of most large grocery stores these days.

Panko Mozzarella Sticks

If you’ve never worked with Panko before, it’s only fair to warn you that you just might become addicted to the stuff.  It is extremely versatile.  Panko can be used to coat anything from these cheese sticks to seafood to chicken.  Just use them in place of your standard bread crumbs, and be prepared for an extraordinary crunch that surpasses the old stand by.

Panko Mozzarella Sticks

The hubby and kids were all over this crispy, tasty finger food.  It’s so much fun to be treated to one of our favorite appetizers without setting foot in a diner.  Not to mention these mozzarella sticks are tastier, crunchier, and meltier when you do them at home!  But, do serve them up while still hot, so the yummy cheese is savored while it’s still very melty and delish.

Panko Mozzarella Sticks

Most of us won’t have a problem devouring these while still fresh and warm.  Chances are, they won’t be sitting around very long at your party.  Enjoy!

RECIPE (makes 32 pieces)

INGREDIENTS

16 sticks of mozzarella string cheese
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups Japanese Panko bread crumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp fresh black pepper
1 TB dried oregano flakes
oil for frying (peanut oil is great for frying)
Marinara sauce for dipping

DIRECTIONS

Place flour in a small dish.  In another bowl, mix together the eggs and milk.  In a third bowl, combine panko bread crumbs with garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and oregano.   Cut mozzarella sticks into halves.

Roll a piece of mozzarella in flour, dip into egg mixture, and roll well in Panko mixture.  Press crumbs in place so mozzarella stick is fully coated.  Continue until all pieces are well coated.  Place coated mozzarella sticks on a wax-lined baking sheet and put in freezer for at least 30 minutes.  (The flash-freezing is important in keeping cheese from falling apart in hot oil.)

Pour oil to fill a third way up to halfway up in a heavy sauce pan.  Using a thermometer, keep oil steady at 365F.   Remove frozen mozzarella sticks and fry a few pieces (don’t crowd) at a time, keeping oil temp at 365F throughout frying process (you’ll have to play with turning heat up or down as needed.)  Fry about 25-30 seconds, turning sticks until they are an even golden brown, and drain on paper towels.  Try not to let cheese leak, but a few tiny bubbles are fine.  Continue until entire batch is made.  Serve with your favorite marinara sauce and do eat these while hot!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook

PIZZA: BBQ Chicken with Smoked Bacon

27 Jul BBQ Chicken Pizza

Pizza.  Mmmm, cheese, sauce, and toppings.  Pizza is one comfort food that always hits the spot.  Come to think of it, I just realized we don’t go out for pizza much at all.  What the family does do is have fun with DIY pizza creations at home.  We’ve created all kinds of pies, with yummy topping combos.   Here is an all time favorite – the BBQ Chicken Pizza, embellished with smoked bacon.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza, with a bit of smoky bacon

I fashioned this recipe from memorable BBQ chicken pizzas I had at pizza joints back in the day.  CPK creates a yummy BBQ chicken pizza with cilantro.  I use basil because I love it.  You can do whatever suits your taste buds!  The fun thing about creating your own version is that you can sprinkle as much or as little of the ingredients you like.  This BBQ Chicken Pizza gets a lot of its smoky flavor from the smoked Gouda (highly recommended) and smoked bacon.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza with Smoked Bacon – perfection in a pie

We piled on the BBQ chicken, crisp bacon, savory cheese, and lathered on that tangy sauce.  I also threw on some sliced red onions and fresh basil for color and flavor.  Seriously, I can’t believe how quickly my kids devoured this pizza.  They didn’t bother to pick off the onions, like they usually do.  Now, if I can only figure out how to transfer that to other dishes that include onions.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza – savory toppings on a chewy, crispy crust

The tasty toppings rest on a gorgeous homemade crust, which is pretty easy to make.  The crust is chewy and soft, with crisp exterior.  I usually use a large pizza stone, so that helps with getting a better crust.  My kitchen is currently warm with the summer, which means much easier rising of the dough.  In the winter, I let dough rise in the oven, with oven bulb light on for a tiny boost of warmth.  If needed, you can let your oven warm up on “warm” setting and turn it off, and then put dough in to rise.  Just watch it carefully so it doesn’t over rise.  The actual baking time is only 15-20 minutes!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza – go ahead, grab a plate

What are we waiting for?  Let’s get cooking!

RECIPE (one 14 inch pizza)

INGREDIENTS

For the dough:
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 TB good olive oil
1 1/2 cups water to 110F
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups extra flour
1-2 TB cornmeal for dusting pizza stone, if desired
Optional herbs for herb-infused crust:
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

For the pizza topping:
6-7  chicken tenderloin fillets
1 cup sweet honey barbeque sauce (I only use Sweet Baby Ray’s)
2 TB honey
1 tsp salt
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
1 cup smoked Gouda, shredded
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 TB chopped fresh basil
4 slices smoked bacon (applewood is great), cooked and cut into pieces
fresh cracked pepper

DIRECTIONS

Make BBQ Sauce:  Mix sweet honey BBQ sauce with 2 TB honey and 1 tsp salt.  Set aside.  This can be done way ahead of time and kept in fridge.

For the chicken:  Thoroughly dry raw chicken tenderloin fillets with paper towels.  Lay each piece flat on baking pan and generously sprinkle salt over the top of each piece.  Pour 1/4 cup BBQ sauce mixture over chicken, and mix in well so all parts of chicken are completely coated.  Rearrange fillets in single layer.  Bake chicken at 350F for 15-20 min., or until chicken is just cooked but not overcooked (if your chicken pieces are thicker, you may need to bake longer.)  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.  When cool, dice chicken into bite size pieces.

For the dough:  In large bowl, mix yeast, salt, brown sugar, and oil.  Let sit for 10 minutes or until foams.

Mix in 3 cups of flour.  Knead in more flour as needed until dough is no longer sticky.  Add any desired herbs to dough.  Place dough into well oiled bowl, turn dough in bowl until dough is covered with oil, and cover with a damp cloth.  Let dough rise until doubles, about 1 hour in a warm room – true rising time depends on temperature of your room.  After dough is doubled, punch it down, and form tight ball.  Let dough relax for 1-2 minutes.  Roll it out to large circle, flouring your board a bit if needed.  Roll up edges so you have a pizza crust about 14 inches in diameter.

Preheat oven to 425F.  Place pizza stone to preheat in oven if you are using one.  If you have a pizza peel, you can assemble your pizza on that and slide onto hot pizza stone when ready.  You can also assemble your pizza on room temp pizza stone; it just won’t be as crisp on the bottom – it will help to sprinkle cornmeal over pizza stone and spray with oil before laying your dough on top of it.   If you are baking on a pan, oil pan and let dough rise 20 min. before topping/baking.

To assemble pizza:  Spread the rest of BBQ sauce mixture over the dough evenly.  Place diced chicken and bacon over sauce.  Layer red onion slices over chicken.  Sprinkle on mozzarella and smoked Gouda.  Top with freshly cracked black pepper.  Bake pizza for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and sprinkle on chopped basil.

Enjoy!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by CPK

Bagels, Bagels, Here I Come

2 Jul

Bagel.  Just the word makes me hungry.  I’m very willing to drive for miles to the best little bagel shop in cities we travel to, just so we can sink our teeth into the chewy, bready goodness of a freshly baked bagel.  Currently, the best bagel shop is a bit of a drive.  Supermarket ones don’t really count.  And are pre-packaged bagels really bagels?  Thus, I’m willing to do the work and make them at home, so we can bite into that straight-out-of-the-oven dose of yummy carbs.

the everything bagel

It’s fun to do different toppings and play with flavors so everyone gets what they want!

cheese bagels

I was serious about bagels by the dozen.  Or two dozen.

More Bagels

You won’t be sorry you took the time to make these dense goodies.  Happy bagel eating!

RECIPE (one dozen)

INGREDIENTS
7 cups bread flour
1 TB salt
3 TB white sugar
2 cups warm water (110F)
1/2 package active dry yeast
1 TB oil
Optional toppings:
poppy seeds
kosher salt
sesame seeds
shredded cheese

DIRECTIONS
1.  Sprinkle yeast over warm water and stir to dissolve.  Give 10 min for it to foam.  Add 2 TB sugar, oil, 6 cups flour, and salt.  Mix thoroughly until dough forms and leaves sides of bowl.  Probably easier with stand mixer.  Turn dough onto lightly floured board and knead.  Add small amounts of flour if needed.  Dough will be rather stiff.  Knead until smooth and elastic, 15 minutes.
2.  Roll dough into ball.  Place in oiled blows, turning to coat.  Spray with additional oil if needed, to get dough ball covered in oil.  Cover with damp cloth.  Let rise for about an hour in warm, draft free place.  An impression made with finger should not sink into dough.
3.  Divide dough into 12 even balls, rolling with hand over a hard surface to get them round.  Cover with damp cloth and let balls rest for 10 min.  Lightly oil hands and gently press thumb into center of a dough ball.  Gently swing the dough around your finger to make a bagel shape, without ripping the dough.  Make walls about 1 inch thick, with a 2-inch diameter hole in each ball.  Put each bagel back under a damp towel as you complete shaping the rest of the dough balls.
4.  While bagels are resting, fill 4 qt saucepan almost full of water.  Add 1 TB sugar and bring to boil.  Drop 2 or 3 bagels at a time into boiling water and wait until they rise.  Boil for about 1 min per side.
5.  Life each bagel out with large slotted spoon.  Drain.  Put desired topping on.  Continue boiling, draining, and topping as you go.   Put bagels on baking pans lined with parchment.
6.  Heat oven to 425F with large pan of water on lowest rack.  Bake bagels until browned.  Start checking at 15 min.  Turn bagel over and bake until other side is done.

These are best fresh, but baked bagels can be sliced, frozen in airtight bag, and taken out to toast later!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by allrecipes.com

Bruschetta with Roquefort Cheese and Peppers

28 Jun

We’ve been loving our Gourmet Dinner Club for the past three years.  It’s made up of several foodie-couples who adore cooking and eating.  We somehow get our acts together and pull off a four course meal with appetizers, salad, main dish, and dessert, complete with specific wine pairings to match each course.

On one of those fun nights, I made this Bruschetta.  Much of it can be prepared ahead of time, which is a huge plus that anyone who hates last-minute scrambling will appreciate!

Sauteed sweet peppers, garlic, basil, and Roquefort cheese over french baguette

We dig out our cute linens, our “good” dishware, and always the Riedel stem ware.  OK, yeah, it’s a little bit on the frou-frou side, but oh soooo much fun!  Bonus: We get to use our “good stuff” more than just once or twice a year!  If you have some food loving friends, chat about starting some kind of dinner club.  Whether you go with a casual or upscale style, it is absolutely loads of fun.  Oh, if you have young kiddos like we do… totally get a sitter.

Smoked salmon is also a deliciously savory accompaniment to have.

Add whatever other toppings you like to those crispy baguettes.  Have fun with it!

RECIPE (serves 6-8)

INGREDIENTS
1-2 French baguettes
extra virgin olive oil
2 bell peppers (I used red and yellow)
1/2 tsp sugar
3-4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup sliced basil leaves
1/4 lb Roquefort cheese (can also use Gorgonzola)
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
kosher salt to taste

DIRECTIONS
Seed and thinly slice the peppers.  Heat 2-3 TB olive oil over medium-high.  Saute garlic until aromatic and soft.  Add peppers and saute until they are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add sugar and saute for a couple more minutes.  Last, stir in basil for a minute.  Season to taste with salt and black pepper.  This pepper mixture can be made an hour or two ahead of time and set aside to warm later.

Heat oven to 375F.  Slice baguette evenly into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Brush each slice with olive oil on top.  Place in a large pan lined with parchment paper (important for even toasting and to avoid burnt bottoms).  Toast just until lightly browned, about 8-9 minutes.

Spoon pepper mixture on each baguette slice.  Top with crumbled cheese.  Return to oven for another minute just to warm up.  Serve warm.  Enjoy!
Source:  Chew Out Loud,  adapted from Ina Garten

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