Tuesday, January 29, 2013

white pizza

Let me share with you my new obsession...white pizza.

I'm a huge fan of regular pizza - you know, the kind slathered with tomato sauce, loaded with meats and veggies, and dripping with melted mozzarella.  Yum.  But lately I've been trying to eat a low-acid diet, which means no tomato sauce.  We've also been trying to stick to a pretty strict budget, which means no red meat overloads.  I thought my pizza days were over for a while...until now, that is.

I love this pizza because it's so simple.  You take a pizza crust - I make my own (see recipe here), but you could also use a mix, refrigerated dough, or a store-bought prepared crust.  I think making it homemade is about as simple as it gets, so I stick with that.

Slather some Alfredo sauce onto your crust (yep...I used it straight from the jar).  Toss on some veggies and cooked chicken (great way to use up leftovers and SO cheap).  Then sprinkle on some mozzarella and pop it in the oven.  Hello gorgeous!

White Pizza
  • prepared pizza crust dough
  • 1 cup Alfredo sauce
  • 1/2 onion, cut into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1-2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
  • 2 cups mozzarella

Spread Alfredo sauce over prepared dough.  Sprinkle on vegetables and chicken.  Cover with mozzarella.  Bake according to crust recipe until cheese has melted and crust has browned.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

aunt nada's salisbury steak

That last Gooseberry Patch giveaway was so fun, wasn't it?!  I just loved all of the recipes I tried from Weeknight Dinners, and I hope you'll be looking for it when it hits the stores.  It's not one to miss!

This recipe was one of my favorites, so I was tickled pink when I saw how interested everyone else was in it.  It's the perfect form of comfort food...warm, meaty, great with mashed potatoes. :)  It's definitely one I'll be making again and again.

To make, mix together hamburger meat, bread crumbs, egg, salt, and French onion soup.  Combine into oval patties and brown in a skillet over medium heat.

PS - Why are Salisbury steaks always oval?  Why not a circle?  square?  octagon???

Mix together more French onion soup, flour, catsup, water, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard.  Pour over the patties.  Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes or until everything is hot and bubble and the patties are thoroughly cooked.

See...didn't I say it was easy?!


Aunt Nada's Salisbury Steak
from Gooseberry Patch's Weeknight Dinners
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 10-3/4 oz. can French onion soup, divided
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1/4 cup catsup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 t. mustard

In a bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs, egg, salt, and 1/3 cup soup.  Form into 6 oval patties.  Brown patties in a skillet over medium heat; drain.  In a bowl, stir flour into remaining soup; add remaining ingredients.  Pour mixture over patties.  Stir to loosen any brown bits in the bottom of the skillet.  Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.  Makes 6 servings.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

baked pork chops

I got this recipe after I became engaged to marry my husband.  His family gathered their favorite recipes together and presented me with recipe cards.  This one is from his Aunt Beth.

I think that recipes are one of the most thoughtful gifts anyone can give a new bride.  As we prepare to start families of our own, there is so much pressure to be a good cook for our husbands.  I especially worried that my cooking wouldn't hold up to the standard that his family had already set.  Thank goodness they were willing to share their recipes!

I've since lost my worries - he loves my cooking and appreciates all of the recipes that I've brought to our marriage.  But, it's still fun to fix some of his childhood favorites.  It's a great way to show him that I love him and appreciate where he came from.

These pork chops are one of my favorite of the recipes that I acquired as a young bride.  They are easy to make and positively delicious.  I just love the creamy sauce that tops them, and I often serve them over rice or mashed potatoes so that I can be sure that no sauce remains on my plate!  They are definitely a must-try.

Start by preparing three bowls - one with flour, one with beaten eggs, and one with seasoned bread crumbs.

Dredge the pork chops in flour, then dip in the egg, and then cover with bread crumbs.  Brown in oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes on each side (or until the breading appears well-browned).  Then, transfer to a 9x13 baking dish and cover with foil.

Bake for an hour, and then pour a mixture of white wine, milk, cream of mushroom soup, and seasonings over the top.  Recover with the foil, and bake for another 30 minutes.

Absolutely delicious!

Baked Pork Chops
  • 4 -6 pork chops
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the eggs, flour, and seasoned bread crumbs in separate bowls.  Dredge the pork chops lightly in flour, dip in the eggs, and coat liberally with bread crumbs.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Fry the pork chops 5 minutes per side, or until the breading appears well-browned.  Transfer the pork chops to a 9x13 baking dish, and cover with foil.

Bake for 1 hour.  While baking, combine the soup, milk, white wine, and seasonings.  After the pork chops have baked 1 hour, cover with the soup mixture.  Replace the foil and bake another 30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

weeknight dinners: review and giveaway

It's that time again...time for a Gooseberry Patch early bird review and giveaway!!!  I just love doing these.  As you've probably noticed, Gooseberry Patch is hands-down my favorite cookbook company.  It's such an honor that they've allowed me to get sneak peaks at their soon-to-be-published books, share them with you, and then give one away to one of you!

Weeknight Dinners is the newest book, and it's an absolute delight.  Cookie Bandit and I sat down with sticky notes to flag all of the recipes we wanted to try - we flagged just about every other page!  There is a different chapter for each weeknight - Meatless Monday, Tex-Mex Tuesday, Italian Wednesday, Comfort Food Thursday, and Just for Fun Friday.  Each chapter has recipes for main dishes, side dishes, and desserts.  With such a great variety, there's sure to be something for everyone's tastes. 

As usual, there's also tips on the bottom of each page...that's over 200 tips!  These are my favorite parts.  I always get such great ideas for crafts, entertaining, and cooking.  These tips are why I always think of my Gooseberry Patch cookbooks as "page turners." :)

Once again, we picked a recipe from each chapter to try out and share with you.  Here they are, each given its own "reward"!
Simplest Delight
Savory Onion-Roasted Veggies from the chapter "Meatless Monday"

Cookie Bandit is a self-proclaimed meat lover, and he LOVED these.  I mean, the guy normally tells me we don't need a vegetable side with out meat...and yet, he almost picked these as his favorite of the bunch!  You can bet that I'll be making them again.  They took about 5 minutes to prepare (very little chopping) and they cooked in the oven while I made the rest of dinner.  The flavor was just out of this world.  I am one happy cook when I can serve up simple veggies that everyone loves.
Most Challenging
Golden Sopapillas from the chapter "Tuesday is Tex-Mex Night"

I've decided that sopapillas are something that practice makes perfect.  And we have definitely not hit perfection.  I'm not sure what the issue was - maybe our oil wasn't hot enough?  But, while they browned beautifully, they didn't puff up like the sopapillas you see at restaurants.  Either way, we simply loved them and will make them again.  They tasted so good, who cares if they weren't hollow in the middle?  We just poured our honey straight on top and chowed down.  They were deliciously fluffy and a delight to make.  Maybe next time, we'll get closer to perfection.
Make-Ahead Favorite
Chicken Tetrazzini from the chapter "Wednesday is Italian Night"

This was a delicious, creamy recipe, and yet it was our least favorite of all that we tried.  I guess that gives you an indication of just how good this cookbook was.  While it lacked the depth of flavors that the others had, it had a lot of other great things going for it.  This one, simple recipe made two casseroles!  I baked one immediately and put another in the freezer to have at a later date.  Both were deliciously creamy.  This is one make-ahead meal that I'll be making ahead many times to come.
Most Comforting
Aunt Nada's Salisbury Steak from the chapter "Comfort Food Thursday"

Cookie Bandit thinks I'm nuts, but I've always loved those salisbury steak TV dinners.  I always thought of them as the epitome of comfort food (at least when it came to frozen dinners).  Well, this recipe for salisbury steak blows those others out of the water!  Even Cookie Bandit - the man who is skeptical of salisbury steak (cause it's not real steak, you see) - loved them.  It's an easy and quick recipe...perfect for busy mommas with hungry men to feed!

 Best Bite-Sized Burgers
Chicken-Apple Sliders from the chapter "Just for Fun Friday"

These are seriously some of the best burgers I have ever had!  We are normally beef people when it comes to hamburgers, but we couldn't resist trying this combination of apple, ground chicken, and bacon.  Um...can you say delicious?  I don't know if I can go back to beef now.  We especially love how easy and quick these were to make.  If you only try one recipe from this cookbook, this needs to be it!

When it came to figuring out which recipe we should share with you today, the decision was pretty simple.  :)

Begin by peeling and grating an apple.  The recipe calls for a tart apple like Granny Smith, but we used a sweeter variety.  Still tasted amazing.  My point - use whichever kind of apple you like best!

Combine grated apple, chopped celery, seasonings, honey, ground chicken, and 4 slices of crumbled, cooked bacon.  Form into 8 small patties and grill until chicken is no longer pink.

Serve on rolls with cheese, additional bacon, lettuce, mayo, and favorite burger toppings.

Chicken-Apple Sliders
from Gooseberry Patch's Weeknight Dinners

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and shredded
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t. poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 8 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled, and divided
  • Optional: 2 slices favorite cheese, quartered
  • 8 mini rolls, toasted and split
  • Garnish: mayonnaise, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, and onion

In a large bowl, combine apple, celery and seasonings; toss to mix.  Add honey, chicken and half of bacon.  Stir until combined; do not overmix.  Form into 8 small patties.  Grill or pan-fry patties about 4 minutes on each side, until chicken is no longer pink.  If desired, top with a piece of cheese during the last few minutes of cooking.  Place patties on rolls; top with remaining bacon and other toppings, as desired.  Serves 8.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

rustic homemade noodles

Have you ever tried to make homemade noodles?  They are amazing, especially in soups and casseroles.  Their thicker, denser texture really gives you something to chew.

My mom is amazing at making homemade noodles.  I'm working on it, although I can't claim "amazing" just yet.  As mom always said, it takes a bit of practice to figure out exactly how dense the dough needs to be and to cut those noodles consistently thin.  But, even if you aren't perfect at it, making homemade noodles will never fail to impress your customers and liven up any meal.

To make homemade noodles, mix together flour, eggs, and salt.  My mom swears by using jumbo eggs - anything smaller just doesn't cut it!

Use your fingers to knead the dough until rubbery.  In other words, it should spring back like elastic when it's touched.  You'll have to knead it a lot!

Using a rolling pin and a floured surface, roll the dough out very, very thin.  This is where you gain a lot of upper body strength, let me tell you.  Making your own noodles isn't just economical - it's a workout!

Roll up the thin dough into a long log.

Using a sharp knife (I think serrated knives work best), cut the log into thin strips.  Immediately begin loosening and separating the noodles, otherwise they'll get suck in the log shape.

Lay out your noodles on the counter and let them dry a bit.  Actually, mom never does this.  She just throws them straight in the pot.  But, I've always heard that you should let them dry, so I do it.  I generally leave them sitting for 30 minutes to an hour while I get the rest of dinner ready.

Add noodles to boiling water or broth or soup - basically, add them to boiling liquid!  Boil for about 10-20 minutes or until tender (a lot of that will depend on how thin you made them).  Enjoy!

Rustic Homemade Noodles
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 jumbo eggs
  • 1 t. salt

Mix above ingredients together.  Knead dough until rubbery (springs back when touched).  Knead a lot!  Using a rolling pin and a floured surface, roll the dough out very thing.  Roll up the thin dough into a log.  Using a sharp knife, cut into thin strips.  Immediately loosen the noodles.  Add to boiling water or broth and cook for 10-20 minutes, or until tender.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

cherry streuselkuchen

I remember as a kid that my mom had a friend named Tammy.  I just loved her.  She always looked pretty, her food was delicious, and she bought me a hair bow once.  I guess it's pretty easy to win over a little girl when you've got hair bows! :)

We got this recipe from her, and I always loved it when my mom would make it.  That didn't happen often - it was a bit more involved than my busy mom had time for - but it was always such a treat.  The cake-like bottom with cherry filling and streusel topping just made me swoon.  I don't know why my mom cut it into small little bars - I always ate WAY more than just one serving.

For this recipe, you need tart cherries.  I use Oregon brand cherries packed in water - 3 cans provide the perfect amount.  Make sure you don't use cherry pie filling!

To make, place flour in the center of a mixing bowl.

Add one cup of sugar around the edge of the flour.

Then, make a well in the flour and add a dash of salt.

Heat a cup of milk in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes (or, if you are using the stovetop, get the milk very warm but not too hot to touch).

Add sugar and yeast to the milk and stir until dissolved.

Pour the milk into the well that you made in the flour.  I never make my well big enough and the milk always overflows...that's okay.  The recipe still turns out great every time!

Use a fork to mix the milk into the flour and sugar.  Some flour and sugar will remain on the sides of the bowl.  It's supposed to.  Don't worry about getting it all mixed in.

Let your dough rise for about 45 minutes.  The top of the dough should appear cracked - that's when you know you're ready for the next step.

Combine an egg and some oil and pour into the dough.  Mix, adding more flour if you need to.  Spread dough to a lightly floured countertop and knead.

Spread dough into the bottom of a well-greased jelly roll pan.  Spread cherries over the top of the dough.

To make crumb topping, combine butter, sugar, and an ingredient called vanilla sugar until creamy.  Never heard of vanilla sugar?  You can find it at international markets like World Market.  Or, if you need to do without, just substitute a splash of vanilla or 1/2 t. of vanilla powder.

Add flour to the butter mixture, and use a fork to mix until crumbly.  Using your fingers, sprinkle crumb topping evenly over cherries.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.  Bake at 200 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn oven to 325 and bake for 30-45 minutes or until light golden brown.

Cherry Streuselkuchen
  • 3 cans (14.5 oz. each) sour cherries, drained
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup plus 1 T. sugar, divided
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup oil

For the crumb topping:
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 t. vanilla sugar (or a splash of vanilla or 1/2 t. vanilla powder)
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour

Place flour in the center of a large bowl.  Add 1 cup sugar around the outer edge of the flour.  Make a little well in the center, and add a dash of salt.  Heat milk in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.  Dissolve yeast and 1 T. sugar in milk and stir.  Pour into well in center of flour.  Use fork to mix - some sugar and some flour will stay on the sides of the bowl.  Let rise for 45 minutes; dough will appear cracked. Combine egg and oil; pour into dough and stir.  Gather dough in the bowl, adding more flour if necessary.  Knead dough on a lightly floured counter.  Spread dough on a greased cookie sheet.  Spread cherries over the dough.To make crumb topping, combine butter, vanilla sugar, and sugar until creamy.  Add flour and crumble by hand or fork.  Sprinkle over top of cherries.  Preheat oven on lowest setting.  Bake cake in oven on lowest setting (warm) for 15 minutes.  Turn oven to 325 degrees and bake for 45 minutes or until light golden brown, checking after 30 minutes.
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