Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Asian Noodle Bowl

We are having this for dinner tonight so I thought I would add it to the list. The girls and I both love this recipe - Dan is learning to like it the more often I make it. :) Which is frequent! I got it from a Pampered Chef cookbook and really, it's just yummy and easy. Oh, and I even have a picture I can add!

Asian Noodle Bowl
2 cups diced cooked chicken (I always use a rotisserie chicken)
2 cups thinly sliced bok choy
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup julienne cut carrots (I buy a bag of pre-shredded carrots)
1 1-inch piece peeled fresh gingerroot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups water
1 can (14 oz) vegetable or chicken broth
2 Tbsp soy sauce (I use a bit more than this)
1 package ramen noodles (any flavor you prefer)

Dice, slice and chop ingredients as according to recipe. Place mushrooms, carrots, gingerroot and garlic in 4-qt (or larger) pan**. Add water, soy sauce, broth, and seasoning packet from ramen noodles; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add chicken, bok choy, green onions and noodles. Cover; remove from heat. Let stand 3 minutes. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.
**Sometimes I saute these in a bit of sesame oil, just adds some flavor. You can also increase the amount of noodles if you prefer more. And for those of you that like a little heat, you can spice it up with some asian hot sauce or something.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Enchilada Casserole

Oh this was a good one. Really really yummy. The girls gobbled it up and actually loved it as leftovers the next day. Dan was a little on the fence - he helped me make it and SAW that I put sour cream in it so he insisted that he could taste it (he does NOT like sour cream). I insisted that he CAN'T taste it as there is such a small amount. Anyway, you should try it. It is really good and I'm looking forward to lunch so I can have it again! :) Hope you like it.

Pork Enchilada Casserole
12 oz. ground lean pork
1 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 can (15 oz) pinto or chili beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use the fat-free or 98% or whatever it is)
1/2 cup sour cream (I used the light or reduced fat)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground oregano
1 can (10 oz) green chile enchilada sauce
12 6-in. corn tortillas, cut into 2-in. pieces
6 oz cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a mix of cheddar and jack)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 2-quart shallow baking dish (I used a 12x8 pan) with cooking spray. Cook pork, onion and garlic in a large, nonstick skillet, breaking up the meat, until browned. Drain; stir in beans, soup, sour cream, cumin and oregano. Spread 1/2 the enchilada sauce in bottom of pan. Top with 1/3 the tortillas, 1/2 the meat mixture, and 1/3 the cheese. Repeat once with tortillas, meat and cheese (you should have 1/2 cup cheese left). Top with remaining tortillas and enchilada sauce. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake uncovered 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro if desired.
**I was only able to find ground pork shoulder which was a little fatty, but if you can find a leaner ground pork it would be a bit healthier.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Baked Potato Soup

This recipe is a BIG favorite in our house!! I've also made it quite a few times for moms with new babies as it's pretty mild and comforting. And oh so yummy. And really quite easy, honestly. I got this from a Southern Living cookbook (GREAT recipe books by the way). Hope you like it! You can tweak the amounts pretty easily to double it if you're having a crowd too.

Baked Potato Soup
4 lg. baking potatoes
2/3 c. butter or margarine
2/3 c. flour
6 c. milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 green onions, chopped and divided
12 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled and divided
1-1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
8 oz. sour cream
Bake potatoes at 400 for 1 hour or until done (don't cook in the microwave - doesn't come out the same) Let cool. Cut in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp and set aside. (I like to freeze the leftover skins and have potato skins for another meal or appetizer)
Melt butter in heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, a small amount at a time; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly.
Add potato pulp, salt, pepper, 1/2 the green onions, 1/2 the bacon and 1 c. cheese to saucepan. Cook until thoroughly heated and stir in sour cream. Add extra milk if necessary. Serve with remaining onions, bacon and cheese to top.

Homemade Pizza

Dan and the girls (and me too) LOVE pizza. And we love family movie night, which traditionally calls for pizza for dinner. However, I am cheap and dislike paying that much money for pizza delivery and not getting exactly the type I want, due to different taste preferences in this house. So I have started making my own and seriously, it is WAY better than delivery. And really quite easy. My favorite pizza dough recipe is one I found online by Wolfgang Puck who is known for pizza. It's an easy recipe and you can kick it up (different chef!) by adding some things to it. I hope some of you will be willing and adventurous to try it!!!! :) Please post and let me know if you tried this and how it came out!!!!

Pizza Dough
1 package active dry or fresh yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup warm water, 105 to 115 degrees
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of italian seasoning
Toppings of your choice

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4-cup warm water. In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, italian seasoning and the salt. Add the oil, the yeast mixture, and the remaining 3/4 cup of water and mix on low speed until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook, about 5 minutes. (The pizza dough can also be made in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse once or twice, add the remaining ingredients, and process until the dough begins to form a ball.) You can also mix it by hand, you just have to knead it a bit longer.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes longer. The dough should be smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. (When ready, the dough will stretch as it is lightly pulled).

Divide the dough into 4 balls, about 6 ounces each. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 or 5 times. Then on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, the balls can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. (I KNOW Pampered Chef says you don’t have to preheat your stones but this really works better – the crust bakes enough without burning the toppings).

To prepare each pizza, dip the ball of dough into flour, shake off the excess flour, place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface, and start to stretch the dough. Press down on the center, spreading the dough into an 8-inch circle. If you find this difficult to do, use a small rolling pin to roll out the dough. Spread sauce as desired and arrange the topping of your choice.

Using a lightly floured baker's peel or a rimless flat baking tray, slide the pizza onto the baking stone and bake until the pizza crust is nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remember that the oven is very hot and be careful as you place the pizza into and out of the oven. Transfer the pizza to a firm surface and cut into slices with a pizza cutter or very sharp knife. Serve immediately.
**I also like to make garlic butter with fresh garlic and brush it all around the crust once it comes out of the oven. Soooo good!**

My favorite toppings are pesto (instead of sauce), salami, black olives, shredded mozzarella and dollops of ricotta. Here is another recipe that I love too, for something a little different. This one is really easy as you use a prebaked crust (like a Boboli) so for those of not into making yeast breads. :) This one is SO not low-fat but it's SO good for you adventurous pizza eaters!!!

Chicken & Cranberry Pizza
1 12" pre-baked pizza crust
1-1/2 cups whole-berry cranberry sauce
2 cups shredded chicken (use a rotisserie chicken)
4 ounces Brie, cut into small chunks
3 to 4 medium green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place crust on a cookie sheet or baking stone, and spread 1 cup of cranberry sauce over crust. Toss remaining sauce with chicken. Top pizza with chicken, brie, green onions, almonds and mozzarella. Bake until the crust is crisp and cheese melts, 10 to 12 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Pork Chops

I'm sure some of you are thinking, oh great, Pork Chops. I'm sure we all grew up eating pork chops that were, well....not good. Dry and chewy, and you HAD to dip them in something to help chew them. Ick. However, I have discovered the wonders of brining!!! Though you have to plan ahead a bit, this is an EASY way to make really good, moist pork chops. I will explain the brining and then post a yummy recipe for Grilled Yucatan Pork Chops and Southwestern Rice Pilaf. Here goes:

I used to buy the nice, thick boneless pork chops at Costco but they're just too thick to cook easily and I end up butterflying them instead. Now I buy the bone-in chops and I love how they come out.

To brine 4 pork chops:
In a non-reactive bowl (glass), mix together 5 cups water, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup kosher salt. Put the pork chops in the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight. After brining, rinse chops and season as desired. I love to just put salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder on them and grill them. YUM. And make sure you don't overcook them - don't turn them a lot, and cook them until JUST slightly kind of pinkish inside. They will continue to cook a bit as they rest. These days, we really don't have to cook pork as much as in the past - 160 degrees is sufficient. So here is a yummy recipe to try along with a rice side dish - hope you like it!

Grilled Yucatan Pork Chops
1 can diced green chiles, 7 oz can
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 8 oz pork chops
Pineapple Salsa (below)

(brine pork chops overnight before seasoning). In bowl, combine 1/4 cup green chiles, oil, chili powder, cumin and garlic. Rub onto both sides of pork chops. Cover; chill at least one hour. Grill or broil coated pork chops for 6 to 8 minutes per side or until done.

Pineapple Salsa:
In small bowl, combine remaining green chiles, 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple (drained), 1/2 cup each diced red pepper and chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Let stand 1 hour to blend flavors.

Southwestern Rice Pilaf
7 cups water
2 1/2 tablespoons chicken bouillon
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 cups long-grain white rice -- uncooked
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup green onions -- chopped

Combine first 3 ingredients in a dutch oven; bring to a boil and stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Melt butter in a skillet; add nuts and cook, stirring constantly, until golden. Stir nuts and green onions into rice.

(Jaime, I'll post a homemade pizza recipe soon. :)