Friday, April 25, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza

Hooray, it's pizza night at our house! This is one of my most beloved nights of the week.  Today I'm especially excited because I'm using a specialty flour I ordered, that comes from Italy; 00 caputo flour, just for pizza-making!  I'm still deciding tonight's toppings but I'm pretty sure it's gonna be good.

I digress though.  Let's talk about THIS pizza. Chicken Cordon Bleu was a dish I used to make frequently when I first got married. Over the years I stopped making it but I still love the flavors.  This pizza is just as mouth watering as the actual dish.  The creamy sauce is the perfect base for the ham and chicken and, of course, the flavors are all fabulous together. 

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza
makes 2 12-inch pizzas

Perfect Pizza Crust (doubled)
2 chicken breasts, grilled and chopped
1 cup cubed ham
4 green onions
2 cups swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

for the sauce:
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 cup swiss cheese, shredded
salt and pepper, to taste

Make pizza dough according directions.  While dough is rising make sauce and grill chicken.

To make the sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add the flour and let bubble about a minute.  Whisk in milk and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and whisk constantly until thickened; about a minute or so.  Remove from heat and whisk in mustard.  Add cheese and stir until melted and incorporated.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, to taste.  Set aside.

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees F.

Once dough has risen and doubled in size, split it in half.  Roll one half out on a pizza peel generously dusted with corn meal.  You can also roll it out on parchment paper.  Brush the edges of the dough with olive oil. Spread half of the cheese sauce on the rolled out dough.  Evenly layer half of the chicken, ham, shredded swiss and shredded parmesan cheeses.  Top with green onions.

Slide pizza onto preheated pizza stone in oven (or inverted cookie sheet).  Bake 7-9 minutes or until golden on top.  Repeat with other half of dough and toppings.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fresh Lemon Cake

There are a few things that I remember eating growing up that will I will always remember my mom making for our family.  One is homemade pizza on a cookie sheet, another is a plain old pot of ham beans.  So simple but some of my all time favorites.  My mom's lemonade cake probably made an appearance as dessert more times than I can remember.  My dad and I LOVE all things lemon so that's probably a huge factor in why we had her cake so much.  Another is that it's so quick and easy.

Fast forward many years.  I still like to make some old favorites; sometimes a little more healthy, sometimes with my own twist or sometimes just more home-made. That's where this cake comes in. I don't use mixes much anymore so I wanted to update my old recipe to use fresh ingredients, ones that I had on hand.  I loved the result.  The cake was so moist and tender and the lemon flavor was perfect. 

If you're looking for a spring dessert this is it! Perfect for any Easter gathering.  

Fresh Lemonade Cake
for the cake:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour (or 3/4 cup all-purpose flour + 2 Tbsp. cornstarch, sifted) 
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar
zest of one lemon
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
juice of half a lemon (about 2 Tbsp.)
1/2 cup  + 2 Tbsp. milk at room temperature

for the glaze:
juice of 1 1/2 lemons (about 1/3 cup)
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour an 8 or 9-inch round baking pan and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flours, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest.  Cream until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.  Add vanilla lemon juice and milk and mix until combined.

Add in sifted ingredients and gently mix until just incorporated.  Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 25-27 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and top is slightly browned.  Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

In the meantime, combine the juice of the 1 1/2 lemons with the powdered sugar and whisk until mixed well (some lumps are ok).

While cake is still warm, but not hot, take a fork and poke holes all over the cake.  Slowly spoon on glaze, one spoonful at a time, letting it soak in before the next spoonful, until all the glaze is gone.  Cool cake completely and serve.

SOURCE: Cake from Annie's Eats

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lemon Poppyseed and Blueberry Crepes

Although we have a lot of pancakes for breakfast and I pretty much make breakfast every morning,  crepes are still a delicious treat we very rarely enjoy around here.  I don't know what got me in the mood the other day, but I was craving some crepes in a bad way. I was going to do our most frequent flavor, sweet crepes with nutella, strawberries & bananas and whipped cream, but we didn't have any nutella, or strawberries for that matter.  So I went with the next best thing; fruity and citrus-y (if that's even a real word).  I figured they would be good and everyone would eat them but I couldn't believe just HOW good they were.  Blueberries and lemons were just meant to be.  My mouth was Mmmmmm-ing and Ahhhhh-ing and wanted MORE!

If you've never made crepes before they can be a little daunting at first.  While the batter takes just a few minutes to prepare, getting the hang of swirling it around the pan quick enough and thin enough takes a little practice.  Don't let that stop you, I still mess up the first couple of each batch I make anyway.

Lemon Poppyseed and Blueberry Crepes
makes about 12-14 crepes

for the crepe batter:
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. oil
3 Tbsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup flour
1 1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
zest and juice of a lemon
2 tsp. poppy seeds


for the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
zest and juice of a lemon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh

For the crepe batter, put all the ingredients except the poppy seeds into a blender and blend until there are no lumps.  Add in poppy seeds and just barely blend to incorporate.

Heat crepe pan or frying pan over medium heat.  Have a stick of butter handy, leaving the wrapper on half of it.  This will make it easy to butter your pan between each crepe.

Whip the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in lemon juice and zest and vanilla and mix well.  Gently fold in blueberries.  Set aside.

When pan is sufficiently hot, quickly butter it with the stick of butter (just run it across the pan a few times real quick).  Hold the pan with one hand while you pour the batter with the other hand.  I use about 1/3 cup batter for each crepe.  Quickly rotate the pan in a circular motion until the batter has covered the bottom of the pan.  Set on the stove and cook about 30 seconds or until edges are set and you can run a spatula under them.  Flip and cook another 20-30 seconds or so.

Remove crepe from pan and place on a large plate.  Cover to keep warm, if desired, and continue cooking until all the batter is used up, buttering pan in between each.

To serve, spread filling over half of the crepe, then fold in half and fold in half again.  Alternately you can place the filling just off the center and roll it up burrito style.  Garnish with extra powdered sugar and blueberries, if desired.

SOURCE: Crepes from Our Best Bites, Filling from Say Yes

Monday, April 7, 2014

Zucchini Spinach and Basil Soup

I remember reading about this soup sometime last year, maybe end of summer or fall.  It's from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  She called it "life-changing soup" because it's luscious and creamy without the cream! I bookmarked it for later but didn't think of it again until I got a recommendation from my sister who had made it and who's whole family loved it. That's all the push I needed to finally make it myself.  I mean, anything that's "life-changing" good has got to be worth it right?

If you have a garden and grow zucchini, this soup recipe will be your best friend.  I mean, there's only so much you can do with zucchini before you get tired of eating it.  ZUCCHINI is the secret ingredient in this soup that makes it silky creamy without the cream.

Now, I realize I'm posting this before most of you have even planted your gardens this year, but it's really a soup for any season.  It's delicious warm, but it is also yummy room temperature or even chilled, like a gazpacho. So make it now and eat it throughout the summer and fall.

Zucchini Spinach and Basil Soup
serves 4-5

Olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
2 medium zucchini, trimmed and chopped (about 4 cups)
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and saute about 5 minutes, until nice and tender.  Add the garlic and zucchini and saute another minute or two.  Add the broth and bring to a simmer.  Cover, reduce heat and cook until zucchini is very tender and falling apart; about 8-10 minutes.

Remove soup from heat and add spinach.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.  Alternately you can work in batches pureeing the soup in a blender.  Check for seasoning and salt and pepper, to taste.  Stir in fresh basil.

Serve warm with baguette or homemade bread.

SOURCE: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Friday, April 4, 2014

Raspberry Lemon Baked Oatmeal

Oats, in some form or another, make their way onto our breakfast table at least 2-3 times a week.  While everyone is perfectly happy with a simple version of a little brown sugar and cinnamon, it is nice to change it up a bit. 

My girls LOVE pretty much any berry they can get their hand on. Raspberries are probably my most favorite, but I enjoy them all as well. Fresh berries in season are such a treat.  Whenever we get a clamshell of blueberries or blackberries in our CSA basket, it doesn't even make it to the fridge before my girls have ripped it open and started shoving the berries in their face.  I don't mind though.  Any fresh produce my girls willingly eat is ok by me.

That said, it's no surprise that this Raspberry Lemon Baked Oatmeal is my favorite version so far.  I usually try to use a small amount of sugar when I make breakfast foods, but I did add a tiny bit more to balance out the tartness of the raspberries a bit.  If you're into mix-ins, my favorite with this flavor combination would be toasted coconut, chopped white chocolate and a splash of milk.  Enjoy!

Raspberry Lemon Baked Oatmeal
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
zest and juice of a lemon
1/4 cup  coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup raspberries (frozen or fresh)

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8 or 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together milk, egg, vanilla, lemon zest and juice, coconut oil and sugar.  Add baking powder, salt and rolled oats.  Stir to combine.  Gently fold in the raspberries.  Pour into prepared baking dish and bake 28-30 minutes, until slightly golden on top. 

Serve warm, with mix-ins as desired.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Oven Baked Ravioli

So, sometimes I will make a meal just for my husband and I to enjoy, usually something that we don't have often, that the kids probably wouldn't eat or want. Take this ravioli for instance or this lobster risotto I made a few years ago for Valentine's Day.   Mmmm, I still think about that one.  Makes my mouth water. Anyway, so that's kind of where I was going with this dish. I totally thought they wouldn't go for it but it turns out our dinner for two turned into a dinner for 5!  I'm glad they enjoyed it though, 'cause sometimes it's hard to get them to try new things.  Maybe it was the fact that I made it just for my husband and I that got them curious...hmm, good tactic.

These were fun to make and changed it up from just a typical pasta and sauce dish.  Although pasta and sauce is a pretty quick meal to make, this doesn't take too much more effort (as long as you're willing to get your hands a little dirty) and it's FUN to eat!  I served it with my new favorite pizza sauce and we all loved it.

Oven Baked Ravioli
1 lb cheese ravioli, about 40 (or whatever you like)
2 eggs
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch of black pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Pizza sauce or Marinara for dipping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top.  Spray rack with non-stick cooking spray.  Whisk eggs in a small bowl and set aside.  In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, garlic, salt, pepper and cheese; mix well.

Dip ravioli in egg wash, allowing excess to drip off, then coat with breadcrumb mixture, pressing to adhere.  Place on wire rack and continue with remaining ravioli.

Bake 12-15 minutes, or until browned and crispy.  Serve warm with marinara for dipping.

SOURCE: Adapted from How Sweet It Is and Edible Life in YYC
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