Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fresh Mozzarella Pizza

Eating on a budget does not have to be as hard as it sounds to some! I have found that creativity goes a long way when it comes to feeding us on a strict budget. It's fun to have something that tastes so delicious feel like it was a really expensive meal when it really wasn't! For this pizza, I did splurge a little bit with the fresh mozzarella, but it was well worth it in the end. This is such a simple, yet delicious pizza that we devoured the whole thing! Enjoy!

Much food love,

Fresh Mozzarella Pizza
Source: Me
Serves: 2-4

1 pizza dough (we always use Fresh and Easy dough; this time I bought the Rosemary Focaccia and it was amazing)
1 (16 oz) container marinated boccacini mozzarella (don't discard the olive oil; it's good for dipping!)
1/3 to 1/2 cup marinara sauce
freshly grated parmesan cheese
flour or cornmeal for sprinkling

Preheat the oven and your pizza stone to 500 degrees. Allow your dough to reach room temp before you use it. Once it's ready to use, lay a piece of parchment or wax paper out on the counter. Sprinkle the flour or cornmeal on the parchment paper. Stretch your dough out and work into a circular shape. Lay it down on the flour/cornmeal and shape it so you have about a nice size circle (about 10-12 inches in diameter). Spread the sauce on the dough. Arrange the mozzarella balls on top of the sauce; use the entire container. Bake at 500 for 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese and a few drops of the olive oil from the mozzarella container on top of the pizza. Serve with a green salad.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sliders and Strings

I'm always curious about trying new and interesting burgers, but find myself reverting back to the standard ground beef, yellow cheese, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, and red onion. I always want more from my standard burger and every time I go to try a new flavor I get scared that Husband won't like it. But, this time he actually recommended trying ground turkey burgers! I was so thrilled that he actually suggested it that I immediately knew I'd use the ground turkey for a recipe I'd printed off of PioneerWoman a few weeks back. The original recipe called for ground beef so I was worried about the substitution. Wow! I am glad I tried this variation on an incredible recipe! We are looking forward to eating these again in regular burger size!

Turkey Mushroom and Swiss Sliders
Source: adapted from PioneerWoman
Serves: 2-3 hungry adults
Burger Sauce:
1/3 cups mayo
2 T ketchup
1 tsp Cayenne pepper (less if you want to cool it down)
Burger Topping:
2 T butter
1/4 yellow onion, finely diced
4 ounces fresh white mushrooms, chopped finely
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
1 T butter
1 lb ground turkey (or beef, or chicken)
2 T heavy whipping cream
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
4 slices swiss cheese, cut into 4 for a total of 16 squares
8 slider buns, split in half, buttered, and toasted

-Mix ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl; set aside.
-Toast the buns under the broiler.
-Melt the 2 T butter in a large skillet. Add the onion, mushrooms, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent. Transfer to a separate bowl.
-Mix ground turkey, heavy cream, Worcestershire, salt and pepper in a bowl. Use your hands to form 8 small patties; make an indentation in the middle of each patty with your thumb (to keep them from plumping up too much when they cook). In the same skillet used for the onion mixture, melt the 1 T butter over medium-high heat. Add 4 patties at a time, indented side up. Cook for 5 minutes, then flip. Spoon generous portions of the onion mixture on top of the patty, then top with 1-2 slices of swiss cheese, depending on how cheesy you want your burger. Place lid on skillet and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, until burgers are cooked through and cheese is melted. Remove to a plate and keep warm while you finish up with the rest of the meat.
-Spread the spicy sauce on both halves of each bun. Place patties between the buns and serve with the following onion strings.

Onion Strings, or Manna from Heaven
Source: PioneerWoman
Serves: 2-3 hungry adults

1 huge yellow onion
2 cups buttermilk (I goofed and used heavy whipping cream instead and they were still amazing, but use buttermilk)
2 cups flour
scant tablespoon salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
1-2 qts cooking oil (veg or canola)

-Heat oil to 375.
-Slice onion into super thin rings and transfer to a large, rectangular dish. Cover with the buttermilk and allow to sit for at least an hour.
-In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne.
-After the onions have had a nice long bath in the buttermilk, transfer a couple of tong-fuls of onions to the flour mixture and toss to coat well. Shake off excess flour and put them in the hot oil. Fry for just a couple of minutes until they're golden brown--they brown quickly so watch them like a hawk!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good Food, Good Books

Alright, I'll admit it: I'm a book nerd. I have a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf filled with books I've read, want to read, won't read, should read, and probably should not read because my Grandma wouldn't approve. Everything from Shakespeare to One Hundred Years of Solitude line the many shelves. My husband is allowed one shelf; it contains 2 economics books, one high school yearbook, one contracting book, a soccer trophy from the 8th grade, and a few of my books that wouldn't fit on the other shelves. In my classroom library, I have over 400 novels that I let my students borrow so that they can't say that there aren't any good books from which to choose; of course, they'd end the sentence with the preposition: "There aren't any good books to choose from." In the words of Cathy the comic strip lady, "ACK!"

Nevertheless, one of my all-time favorite things to do is curl up on the couch in my PJs with a good book, droop my big zebra blanket over my lap, set my bottled water, Diet Coke, a sweet and a salty treat on the TV tray next to me, and start reading. I'll sit there as long as it takes to get a good chunk of the book read--if not the whole thing. When I was in 3rd grade, I challenged myself to read all of Charlotte's Web in one day--and I did it! I was so proud of myself and that is still my favorite book to this day.

Admittedly, I read all types of books, but my favorite genre is Christian Fiction. I love the imagination it takes to create a fiction novel, but I also really appreciate the values and cleanliness of Christian Fiction. I think our world gets far too wrapped up in sex and the physicality of relationships. It's not that I'm opposed to non-Christian Fiction because it certainly takes talent to artfully string together any meaningful phrase that can hold a reader's attention, it's just that Christian Fiction offers something that is both entertaining as well as uplifting. That being said, I want to promote a friend's Christian romance fiction novel she wrote and self-published! My friend, Heidi Marshall, and I played in the band together in high school and both went to Azusa Pacific University so I'll be able to say, "I knew her when..." :-). Here's Heidi's description of her work as the writer of More:
"Remember 16 months ago when I decided to write a book?

It's been quite a journey! What started out as some ideas scribbled on index cards is now an actual novel. Well, a digital novel. I self published my book, More, and I'm excited to share it with all of you. And with strangers, too. And with those of you who are strange.

It's a light-hearted Christian romance fiction novel. I wanted to write a book for people like me - who believe in true love (awwww), but get tired of reading all those "romance" books out there that are just about sex. And vampires. And vampire sex. This story is about a young woman trying to navigate adulthood with all of its victories and failures, joys and sadness, community and lonliness, and basically trying to not end up a crazy cat lady. I hope it will make you laugh and think.

If the book had a back cover, this is what it would say:
Twenty-something Kate Henry lives a simple life in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. She fills her days managing a bookstore that she loves, spending time with her best friends and their young children, and trying to convince herself that she will someday have what she’s always wanted – a family of her own. Wounded by a father who abandoned her, Kate is desperate to find a man who wants to know and love the real her. The real her who talks to inanimate objects, loves to cook for others, and named her favorite pillow Mr. Darcy.

Will the reliable lawyer Ian realize after ten years of friendship that Kate is the one? Will the exciting and spontaneous Ben sweep her off her feet? After facing one heartbreak after another, Kate begins to wonder if perhaps she was meant to be alone. She faces some life-changing decisions, but always manages to keep her sense of adventure and humor.

It's available in ePub format (which works on most eReader devices except for the Kindle.) iPhone, iPad, Sony Reader, Nook - or you can read it on your PC or Mac by downloading free software (I recommend Adobe Digital Editions).

Thanks everyone!"
You can buy the book here and you can also read the first chapter by downloading the preview file. I hope you enjoy reading this book!

Recommended sweet treat: 5-Minute Fudgy Brownies
Recommended salty treat: Dilly Crackers
Recommended clear beverage: Water
Recommended fizzy beverage: Diet Coke

Much food love,

Friday, August 27, 2010

Perfect Roasted Chicken

I'd much rather endure subzero temperatures and have to warm myself up with extra layers and extra hot hot chocolate than suffer through the triple digit days we've been experiencing here in Southern California. Yes, Dad, I know running that A/C costs money, but I have to do it!! That being said, why would I decide to roast a chicken when the outside temperature is just a few hundred degrees cooler than the temperature inside my oven?! Why, why, why? Because roasted chicken is THE BOMB!!!!!! Man, I almost couldn't handle the sound of the buttery skin crackling in the heat while the potatoes boiled on the stove. That was a long two hours let me tell you! I served this chicken with some light and fluff mashed potatoes and one of the simplest vegetable side dishes in the world! Enjoy this meal...on a Sunday afternoon...when it's not over 100 degrees outside... :)

Much food love,
Perfect Roasted Chicken
Source: Me
Serves: 4-6

1 roaster chicken, about 4-5 pounds
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cubed
salt and pepper
dried parsley
dried thyme
(other good seasonings might be garlic salt, oregano, or marjoram)

Preheat oven to 425. Meanwhile, clean out the inside of the chicken discarding the insides. Wash the chicken with cool water inside and out and pat dry with several paper towel. Transfer chicken to a rectangular roasting pan breast side down...YES, you have to do it that way so that the breast meat is inevitably moist; you can't go wrong with it upside down. Sprinkle the insides and top with salt and pepper. Sprinkle thyme and parsley on the top. Dot the top of the chicken with the cubed butter. Place in oven and allow to roast for at least an hour and a half up to two hours--the juices in the thigh must run clear. Serve with the mashed potatoes and veggies that follow.

Fluffy Mashed Potatoes
Source: Me
Serves: 6

6-7 Russet potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut up into 1-in cubes
water for boiling
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 T bacon bits
5 green onions, chopped
a splash of milk
3 T sour cream
salt and pepper

Put the cubed potatoes into a deep stock pot and cover with water. Put a lid on it and bring the water to a boil on high. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and transfer back to the stock pot. Add in the butter, bacon bits, green onions, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper. Using a hand mixer, blend everything together until the potatoes are smooth and creamy. Taste and re-season as needed.

Simple, Cheesy Veggies
Source: Me, well my mom really
Serves: 4-6

1 bag frozen vegetable blend that contains carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli (any 10-16 oz will feed 4)
3 slices American cheese--just do it! It's good!
a splash of milk

Steam the veggies until they are just tender; don't go too long because they'll be mushy! Drain the water and transfer back to the hot pot. Add in the splash of milk and the cheese slices. Stir until the cheese is melted. Yummm!

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Using Random.org, the number 3 was randomly generated and my dear friend, Ellie, was the 3rd person to comment on the Dutch Oven Chicken Enchiladas! Congratulations to Ellie of ellieabney.blogspot.com!! She has won the $40 gift certificate to www.csnstores.com! I hope you enjoy your little shopping spree, Ellie!

I wanted to thank everyone for commenting on my blog. It was really fun to host this giveaway knowing that someone near and dear to me would win the money! It was also great to get some exposure for my blog; I'm no PioneerWoman, but I would love to have a few more followers and hits each day! I'll be working hard to keep the blog updated so spread the word!

Stay tuned for more giveaways and fun! Congratulations, Ellie!

Love from Me!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dutch Oven Chicken Enchiladas

I was approached by a representative from CSNstores.com (Hi, C-!) and she asked me if I would be willing to share with you all the fantastic-ness that is the Dutch oven! I, of course, quickly agreed knowing that you all need to seriously get one of these bad boys! I love my bright orange Rachael Ray Dutch oven, but there are tons of others you can find here. I have extensively searched the cookware.com website (part of the CSNstores group) and absolutely love everything they have to offer! Hey, Dad, can I use your credit card? I...uhh...err...have an emergency...yeah, that's it, an emergency! I'll pay you back--I promise!

Isn't she perrrtty?

So, now here's the even greater news. YOU, yes YOU, could win your very own $40 gift certificate you can use toward your purchase of ANYTHING from the CSNstores.com group--even a nifty, new Dutch oven! Here's how to enter: just leave a comment below. It could be about the Chicken Enchiladas, the Dutch oven, the weather, why everything ought to be sold in twin packs, or really anything else that makes your heart happy. You have the rest of the week to leave comments (only one per day, please!) and at the end of the week (meaning Saturday) I'll choose a winner using Random.org so it won't seem like I'm playing favorites! -- This contest is now closed.

Oh--I almost forgot! Here's how you make these fantastic Dutch Oven Chicken Enchiladas:

Dutch Oven Chicken Enchiladas
6 hungry adults
Source: Heavily edited, but inspired by http://papadutch.home.comcast.net/~papadutch/ (Byron's Dutch Oven Recipes--this guy is cool!)

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
12 corn tortillas
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles, undrained
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
1 small (4 oz?) cans sliced black olives, drained
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 green onions, chopped
2 T olive oil
dash cumin
dash chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Boil your chicken in a stock pot on the stove top until it is no longer pink. Shred it up using two forks and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cans of soup, sour cream, diced green chiles, cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat the 2 T olive oil in your Dutch oven on the stove top over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, and olives. Once the onions are tender, add the shredded chicken to reheat. Transfer the chicken mixture to another bowl.

Put enough of the sour cream mixture (about 1 cup) on the bottom of the Dutch oven to cover the bottom. Warm the tortillas in the microwave for a minute to soften them. Fill a tortilla with a scoop of the chicken mixture, a pinch of the green onions, and a sprinkle of cheese. Roll it up and place it seam side down. Do this for all the tortillas and arrange in the Dutch oven. Cover the tortillas with the rest of the sauce, the shredded cheese, and the rest of the chopped green onions.

Bake uncovered for about 35 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, and sauce is bubbly, and the dish is heated through.

Side note: You can do this same thing in a 9x13 glass dish, but the Dutch oven is fun to use!
Side note #2: Visit Foodista to check out more Dutch oven recipes!

Dutch Oven on FoodistaDutch Oven

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats

Cue the orchestra and choir! "HALLELUJAH!" So I don't think my mouth has ever, ever tasted something so scrumdidlyumptious for dessert. Ever. Okay, I might be exaggerating because there have been some amazing sweets that have made their way to my mouth, but these are right up there with number one. I know what you're thinking: "Rice krispy treats? Really? How borrrring." Well, quit thinking that! It's rude! What you should be thinking is, "Holy heck these sound amazing!" You'll thank me for influencing your thoughts when you try these bars. They are SO simple to make and will make you happy. They made me happy. Twice. Within one week. Oops. Better get on that treadmill.

As a side note, I only made half a pan because Husband wanted the other half of the pan plain; strange, strange man. These are amazing. I'm obsessed.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats
Yield: 9x13 pan, about 24 bars
Source: browneyedbaker

6 cups Rice Krispies
10.5 oz bag of mini marshmallows
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 bag (12 oz) mini Reese's peanut butter cups, roughly chopped (it's about 40 mini PB cups)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (original recipe calls for milk chocolate but I like semi-sweet better for this)

-Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking pan.

-Measure the cereal into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

-Melt the marshmallows and butter together in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.

-Pour the melted butter/marshmallows over the Rice Krispies and stir well so all the cereal gets coated by the creamy deliciousness. Transfer to the buttered 9x13 pan and use a piece of buttered wax paper or a spatula to press into place.

-In the microwave, melt the butter in a heat-proof bowl until thin, about 1 min. Pour over the bars in the pan.

-Sprinkle the chopped peanut butter cups over the peanut butter; they will slowly melt into the peanut butter and continue to do so in the next step when you add the chocolate.

-In the same bowl you used for the peanut butter, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave. This works best in 30 second increments: heat 30 seconds, stir, repeat until the chocolate chips are melted. Be patient; this whole melting of chocolate chips in the microwave is tedious.

-Using the back of a spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the peanut butter cups. Lick the spoon (and dish if no one is watching) to make sure you don't waste any chocolate.

-Place the pan in the refrigerator to set before cutting and serving. Trust me, it's worth the wait.

-Store in the refrigerator if your house is always hot like mine; otherwise, an airtight container in a cool place will work.

-Try not to eat these all in one day. I wish you luck, my friend.


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