Wednesday, June 30, 2010

PIZZA FACTORY-LIKE BREADSTICKS

If you live in Utah and haven't tried breadsticks from the Pizza Factory, you are missing out big time! I found this recipe on Favorite Family Recipes and found that it's a close match to the real thing. I have to admit that they probably would have tasted even MORE like the real thing had I used all white flour and used more butter; maybe I'll go "all out" next time. The breadsticks are best served the same day, as they toughen up as leftovers.

PIZZA FACTORY-LIKE BREADSTICKS
(makes approx. 10-12 large breadsticks)

Preheat oven to 400

1 1/2 c. warm water
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. instant yeast
Combine above ingredients and let rest for 5 minutes. 
To the above mixture, add 
3 1/2 C.  all-purpose flour (or part wheat flour)
1 tsp. salt

Mix until smooth and let rise in covered bowl for 10 minutes. Roll out dough into a large square on a floured surface. Brush with real melted butter that has been mixed with garlic powder or chopped garlic, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Fold dough in half and cut into 1" strips. Twist a few times and place on baking sheet. Let rise for 15-20 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 17-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately brush with more garlic butter and sprinkle with more kosher salt and grated parmesan cheese.

Monday, June 28, 2010

PB&J Syrup

This photo is far from appetizing, I know! But, trust me it is mighty tasty if you like peanut butter on your waffles and pancakes. My kids are always wanting peanut butter, syrup AND jam on their waffles so today I decided to try mixing them all together in one easy-to-pour syrup. Since I was just playing around, I didn't really do exact measurements, but this should be close.

PB&J Syrup:
makes enough for approx. 8 waffles

2 heaping Tbsp. smooth peanut butter ( I used natural which is slightly runnier to begin with)
3 heaping Tbsp. strawberry jam, or whatever you have
4 Tbsp. maple syrup
1-2 Tbsp. water (until desired consistency)
1 tsp. butter

Combine all ingredients in microwaveable bowl or glass measuring cup. Heat for 20 seconds, stir and heat another 20 seconds or until peanut butter is liquefied.

Enjoy over waffles, pancakes, french toast and I bet it would even be good on ice cream or bananas!

Friday, June 25, 2010

ISLAND RICE

If you are looking for a rice switch-up, this is it! I was pleasantly surprised with the blend of flavors; the coconut and pineapple offer a little sweetness against the buttery, salty rice and there's a nice subtle lemony hint from the cilantro. I could eat this as a meal in itself! So glad I spotted this recipe at Double Dipped Life just in time to serve with the lettuce wraps I made for dinner. She calls it Pineapple Cilantro Rice, but I took the liberty to rename it something a little more exotic.

ISLAND RICE:
1 C. rice (I used 1/2 C. long grain brown, 1/2 C. long grain white), cooked with 2 C. water or as directed on package

To cooked rice add:
 juice from 1 lime
2 Tbsp. butter
3-4 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro (more or less depending on how strong you want the flavor)
1-2 small cans crushed pineapple, drained (reserve juice) (I used approx. 10 oz. from a larger can)
1/2 C. sweetened, shredded coconut
salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all together and serve immediately. If needed, add some of the reserved pineapple juice to thin out rice if it gets too thick.

Monday, June 21, 2010

EASY & LIGHT PASTA PRIMAVERA

I had a different dish on the menu for tonight, but realized too little too late that I had forgotten to remove the meat from the freezer for it! Hate when that happens; meat's just not quite the same when you force it to defrost in the microwave. I thumbed through some old recipes I've had hanging out in my binder, and came across this one that uses dry ranch dressing mix in the sauce. I made a few minor adjustments and ended up with a pretty tasty little meal for my family.

EASY & LIGHT PASTA PRIMAVERA
(Serves approx. 4)

10 oz. Ronzoni Smart Taste penne rigante pasta, cooked according to directions on package
2 Tbsp. trans-fat free margarine such as Smart Balance
1/2 - 3/4 C. half & half
1/2 - 3/4 C. reduced sodium chicken broth
4 oz. light cream cheese
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
1/3 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 ( 13 oz.) can chunk chicken
3-4 C. frozen mixed vegetables of your choice (I used broccoli, carrots, cauliflower & squash)
fresh parsley for garnish
more Parmesan cheese for garnish
salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta according to directions on package for al dente. Drain and rinse with fresh water.
2. In medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine butter, half & half, cream cheese & ranch dressing mix. Whisk until smooth. Add Parmesan cheese and whisk until smooth again, adding more half & half or broth until desired consistency.
3. Add canned chicken to sauce and warm through. In meantime, put frozen veggies in a microwaveable dish and cover with plastic wrap. Steam cook for approx. 5 minutes or until no longer frozen. (Veggies can also be cooked with pasta during last 5 minutes of cooking).
4. Assemble by placing pasta on large platter, then layer with sauce and veggies. Top with parsley and more Parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

SHEET PAN BROWNIES

It was my cute little nephew Jake's 1st birthday the other day and my sister (his mom) is not much of a baker, but she ventured out and tried to make cake from scratch that is baked in an ice cream cone. Well, let's just say at least she tried! I was already set to make a batch of brownies as a second option dessert for the party, but I quickly switched to this large-batch recipe I found over at A Bountiful Kitchen. My sister did end up buying some cupcakes last minute to help feed the crowd, but these still flew out of the pan! I cut them pretty big since our family loves their sweets! I think I got about 24 pieces and there were maybe only 5 left. I modified the recipe a bit, using shortening for some of the butter because I ran out of butter and had to used some milk chocolate bar to make them not so "dark" tasting. They are definitely best the day you bake them!

SHEET PAN BROWNIES
(makes approx. 24 - 35 brownies)

Preheat oven to 325. Spray sheet pan with cooking spray.

1/2 C. cocoa
4 squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened baking chocolate
4 sticks butter
4 C. sugar
8 large eggs  
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

Melt butter, chocolate and cocoa together in large saucepan over medium heat and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and gradually stir in sugar. Add eggs 2 at a time until well incorporated. Stir in vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in separate bowl and stir. Stir flour mixture into chocolate mixture in thirds. Do not over mix.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake approx. 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool. Cut with a plastic knife to keep edges smooth.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

COTTAGE CHEEESE PANCAKES



My kids may not eat dinner very well, but they sure love their breakfast, and these pancakes are no exception. I love them because they are low-fat because there's no oil and no sugar. I also love their texture. They are not so fluffy that you wonder if you even put anything in your mouth; they have a bit more "chew" to them, if that's what you want to call it. They are eggy and crepe-like in taste. There's not any added sugar to the mix, which is a plus when you consider all that sugary syrup and jam my kids (ok, and I) have to have. The unique ingredient of cottage cheese adds a lot of protein, which keeps you feeling full longer, but you'd never know it was hiding in these smooth pancakes. Give them a try!

COTTAGE CHEESE PANCAKES
(slightly adapted from Mormon Country Cooking Cookbook)
Makes 7-10 pancakes depending on size

1 egg & 1 egg White
1/2 C. low fat or fat free cottage cheese
1/2 C. low fat or fat free sour cream
1/3 C. skim milk or water
3/4 C. wheat flour, stirred and measured
2 Tbsp. (or more) wheat germ
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. ground flax (optional)

In blender combine egg, egg white, cottage cheese, sour cream and milk. Blend until smooth. In medium bowl, add flour, wheat germ, baking soda and salt & flax. Add blender mixture into flour mixture and combine. May have to add more milk or water to get proper consistency. Bake on lightly greased griddle.

Nutritional Information for a batch making 10 pancakes

per pancake: 67 calories, 1.3 g. fat, 9.2 g. carb, 1.3 g. fiber, 1.3 g. sugar, 5.2 g. protein



Sunday, June 13, 2010

CHICKEN DIVAN

Usually I plan ahead for our Sunday meal, but last night I just pulled some chicken from the freezer and hoped I would figure out something to make with it. For some reason, everyone in the family is extra hungry after church, so I knew I needed something fast. I just happened to have everything I needed for this recipe I found a few weeks ago from Taste of Home. It cooks fast because of the chicken being pounded so thin. My kids loved it, which was a pleasant surprise!

CHICKEN DIVAN
(adapted from Taste of Home)
 4 servings
1 C. water
8-12 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed*
2/3 C. liquid egg whites
1 Tbsp. skim milk
1 C. seasoned bread crumbs
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded real thin
4 Tbsp. trans-fat free spread such as Smart Balance (or butter)
1-2 slices of deli ham per chicken breast*
1 slice of reduced-fat swiss cheese per chicken breast

1. In large skillet, heat 1 C. water to boil. Add asparagus and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
2. In shallow bowl, combine egg white and milk. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl.
3. Dip both sides of each chicken breast in milk mixture, then in bread crumbs.
4. In same skillet as asparagus was cooked in, add butter and melt over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook approx 3 minutes on each side or until no longer pink in center.
5. Top each breast with ham slice, 2-3 asparagus spears, then slice of cheese. Cover with lid and cook 1-2 more minutes to allow cheese to melt. 

* My chicken breasts were quite large, so I ended up having to add an extra asparagus spear and extra ham slice to cover it. The original recipe called for one slice ham and 2 asparagus spears per breast.


Friday, June 11, 2010

OVEN BAKED BLUEBERRY PANCAKE


My kids adore pancakes, so when I came across this recipe for a baked pancake from Lick the Bowl Good,  I had to try it. Yes, it is easy in the sense that you dump it into a pan and bake it vs. babysitting individual pancakes on a griddle. The taste is pretty similar to a typical pancake, but the texture of this is more like a cake because of the thickness. Not that this is a bad thing, it's just different than a pancake. With a little homemade maple syrup and extra blueberries on top, it was devoured.

OVEN BAKED BLUEBERRY PANCAKE W/ HOMEMADE MAPLE SYRUP
(makes one 8x8 pan -- serves 4-6)

3/4 C. milk
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 egg
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 C. flour (I used half wheat flour)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
flax, optional
1/4 c. blueberries, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 8x8 baking dish. In large mixing bowl, combine milk, melted butter and egg. Add sugar and gently stir in flour. Carefully stir in baking powder, salt & flax if using. Fold in blueberries if using. Pour into prepared dish and bake for 20-25 minutes. 


Homemade Maple Pancake Syrup
(from Allrecipes.com)

2 C. white sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 C. water
1/2 tsp. maple flavor extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a saucepan, combine the sugars and water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in maple and vanilla flavorings. Let cool and serve at room temperature. Store in a sealed container in refrigerator. Be aware that it might crystallize if not sealed tightly.
 





Thursday, June 10, 2010

CREAMY CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

These enchiladas are a great way to use up leftover chicken. I had some rotisserie chicken from last night that I wanted to use up and remembered this recipe from a while back that I made out of a ward (church) cookbook. It's pretty simple and pretty common, but quite satisfying. I tweaked it a bit from the original version to suit our taste (and health consciousness). It does use condensed cream of chicken soup, which I try not to use too often, but ...

CREAMY CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
(makes 10-12 medium enchiladas)

3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded (I used rotisserie chicken)
1 (24 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 C. sour cream (reduced fat is fine)
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies
1/2 C. reduced sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. chili powder
4 C. shredded Cheddar cheese (I used a LOT less and still yummy)
sliced olives, optional
sliced green onion, optional
salsa, optional
10-12 flour tortillas

Cook chicken breasts as desired, then shred or cube. Mix soup, sour cream, green chilies, chicken broth, seasonings and 1 C. cheese (I didn't put any cheese in at this point) together in a pot. Warm on medium heat until gently bubbling. Pour a little sauce to cover bottom of 9x13 pan. On each tortilla, layer chicken, sauce and some cheese and olives if using. Roll up and place seam side down in 9x13 pan side by side. Pour remaining sauce, sliced onion, grated cheese and salsa over top. Bake at 350 for 30 - 35 minutes. Makes 2 (9x13) pans

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

SWEET & TANGY FOUR BEAN SALAD

I can tell my blogging is going to slow down a bit with "summer" here. I put summer in " " because it's summer break from school for the kids, yet the weather is anything but summer-like. I live in Utah, but you could convince me I'm in Oregon with all this rain!!

This is a recipe I've had in my to-try folder for a long time and finally got around to making it. So glad I did because it's a good one! It's a nice change of pace from more traditional sides or salads. The dressing gave it just the right amount of moisture and flavor to still let the beans shine through. Very easy and quick to make and it makes a lot! This would be great for a pot-luck.

SWEET AND TANGY FOUR BEAN SALAD
(makes about 12 1-cup servings)

8 oz. fresh green beans, trimmed
3/4 C. cider vinegar
2/3 C. tomato juice
1/4 C. vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. dry red wine or apple juice
1/2 C. sugar (I decreased this slightly)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
1 clove garlic, minced (1/2 tsp)
1 (12-oz.) pkg. frozen shelled edamame (soybeans), thawed
1 (14.5-oz.) can cut wax beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
4 large carrots, coarsely shredded


1. In large saucepan cook green beans in boiling slightly salted water for 10 minutes or just until tender; drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
2. In extra-large bowl combine vinegar, tomato juice, oil, wine or juice, sugar, Worcestershire, mustard and garlic. Stir in beans, green onion, and carrot. Refrigerate, covered, 4-48 hours. Serve with slotted spoon.

Each serving: 174 calories, 6 g. fat, 24 g. carb, 6 g. fiber

Sunday, June 6, 2010

APPLE SQUASH MINI MUFFINS

It's been a while since I've made muffins. I usually make them at least once a week if not more. These sound too much like fall to be making in late spring, but trust me, they're great any time of year. I titled them "squash" muffins because the recipe actually calls for pumpkin, but I have been using my frozen butternut squash puree from my garden last year in place of anything calling for pumpkin. I made 3 versions of these muffins; with walnuts, with chocolate chips, and with raisins. All 3 were really tasty, and I usually gravitate to the ones with chocolate chips, but this go-round, I quite liked the ones with raisins. As you may have noticed from other posts, I usually decrease the sugar, use all or mostly whole wheat or oat flour, use mostly applesauce in place of oil, and add flax meal to make these a little healthier. These turn out nice and moist, so best if eaten within a day or two.

APPLE SQUASH MINI MUFFINS:
makes approx. 30-32 mini muffins

2 1/2 C. white wheat flour
2 C. sugar (I use just under 1 3/4 C. and still plenty sweet)
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (or a combo of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, etc.)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. ground flax (optional)
2 eggs (I use 1 egg and 2 egg whites)
1 C. canned pumpkin or pureed butternut squash (cooked)
1/2 C. vegetable oil (I use unsweetened applesauce)
2 C. finely chopped peeled apples
other optional add-ins:
raisins, walnuts or pecans, chocolate chips, craisins, cinnamon chips, etc.

Cinnamon sugar (to sprinkle on tops)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease muffin tins with cooking spray or use muffin liners.
2. In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin and applesauce; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in apples and any other add-ins. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon sugar.
3. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. If making regular size bake for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

LIGHT BAKED TORTILLA CHIPS WITH CHUNKY GUACAMOLE

I love home made tortilla chips, especially when they are fried up fresh with a sprinkling of salt! But, since we try to steer clear of too much fat and fried food I usually bake them, which still turns out a tasty, crisp and healthy chip!

This is the first time I've ever made guacamole in almost 12 years of marriage. For almost 12 years now I have been under the impression that my husband didn't like guacamole. He loves avocado but says he hates the texture of smooshed up avocado like you get with guacamole. Well, wasn't I surprised a few months ago when at a restaurant he dug into the guacamole appetizer and loved it! Apparently his opinion of guacamole was formed when he got it from a low-budget local "Mexican" (very Americanized Mexican) restaurant that practically pureed it. The chunks of avocado are key!

LIGHT BAKED TORTILLA CHIPS      (makes enough for 2-3 people)

3 Flour tortillas (I like to use Lynn Wilson Thin Style Lite)
Oil such as Canola or Olive Oil
Salt and/or other seasonings

Preheat oven to 400.
Brush both sides of tortillas sparingly with the oil. Stack on top of each other and cut into 8 wedges using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Place in single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt.
Bake for approx. 15 minutes, flipping each chip once.


CHUNKY GUACAMOLE
(slightly adapted from Sisters Cafe)

2 avocados, chopped (don't get ones that are too mushy)
lime juice
1/2 Anaheim Chile pepper, finely minced (we like it mild, but you could use a jalapeno for more heat)
1/4 C. fresh Cilantro leaves, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste

Squirt lime juice over avocados and toss to coat. Gently smash avocado chunks with fork just a few times. Add remaining ingredients and mix.