Chicken Crust Pizza

It’s been a crazy couple of months for this girl. I went right from working full time at my favorite place in the world, to a long term subbing assignment at an inner city school, moved out of my parents into what would be our first apartment, started a new long term assignment at a different school with my own classroom, finished planning a wedding, and got married. Needless to say, I haven’t had too much time to breathe. BUT I have an entire collection of recipes, classroom freebies and adventures, wedding pictures and vendors, that I’ve been stock piling for when I was finally able to join the blogging world again.

Being that I have a special affinity for food, it’s only fitting that my return post be one of my new favorites, and one that Ethan LOVES- chicken crust pizza. This recipe was cooked in a 10in cast iron skillet, to give you an idea of space: ingredient ratio.

What you’ll need:

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast (ground chicken is fine too)

1 egg

About ½ cup bread crumbs

Tomato sauce of choice (I use canned stuff from my parents garden)

Spices of choice (to add to your sauce- I do onion, garlic, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes)

PIZZA TOPPINGS! This is my favorite part! I get good mozzarella, pepperoni, and fry up some bacon

Preheat your oven to 375.

  1. In a food processor, ground the chicken with the egg. It will be a fairly mushy consistency. Mix in the bread crumbs by hand or with a spoon. The egg helps keep the chicken from shrinking and the bread crumbs help bind it all together.
  2. Smoosh the chicken into the bottom of a baking dish, or skillet. Make sure it is pretty even. I like to make the edges a bit thicker like a real pizza crust. Put in the oven for at least 20 minutes or until it’s no longer pink.
  3. The sauce can be done a number of ways. I usually start my sauce on the stove well before I’m ready to use it to give the flavors time to meld and develop. You could also just use a jar of Ragu, the choice is really up to you. I do however recommend heating the sauce before using it.
  4. After the chicken crust is done baking, assemble the toppings! This is a great chance to get the kids or your spouse involved. I fried bacon, then sautéed onions in the bacon fat. I added some of the onions to the sauce, and used the rest as a topping on the pizzas. Bacon makes everything better.
  5. Since the chicken is already cooked and the sauce is already warm, you’re really only putting it back in the oven to melt the cheese (clearly the best part). I put it back in the oven at 375 for about 10 minutes to get it started, and kick on the broiler to really finish bubbling the cheese.

EAT! 😀

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Shrimp and Chicken Pasta

Home alone. Well, kinda. Does having 4 dogs with you really count as “alone?” Is it kinda like “you’re not drinking alone if your <dog>/<cat> is with you?” Either way, after surviving on Cheerios for the last 3 days {no exaggeration, I eat like a toddler 95% of the time}, it was time for a “big kid meal.”

Ingredients:

1-2 lb shrimp (my bag was a 40-50 count)

Chicken (breasts, legs, what ever. I had some left over legs I chopped up and threw in)

Garlic clove

Butter

Olive oil

Pasta (penne is perfect!)

6 cups water

Tomato sauce (I used a pint mason jar of our homemade stuff)

1/2 cup red wine (optional but oh so yummy)

Salt/Pepper

Basil

Onion

Parmesan Cheese

Oh the best part, all done in ONE pan!!! BOOM!

*THAW AND PEAL YOUR SHRIMP BEFORE YOU START IF NEEDED! DONT FORGET TO DEVEIN! Prep what ever chicken you are using as well!*

  1. In your pan, melt butter with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. While they are heating chop cup your garlic and onion.
  2. Once your butter has melted, on medium/high heat, add in your garlic and onion to sauté. While they are going, cut up your chicken, get your ingredients in order.
  3. Add in your shrimp and chicken to the butter goodness in the pan. Sear for 2-3 minutes.

13672090_10209826670848571_74546087_n4. Add in your tomato sauce, water, pasta, red wine, and sauce seasonings

13652707_10209826670768569_1814399578_n5. Cook at a low boil until the pasta is cooked through.

6. Serve nice and hot with parmesan on top!

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Total prep (including shrimp for me) 30 min. Clean up- 5 minutes, we have a great non-stick pan.

 

1 Dish Chicken and Veggies

Tonight my family is all over the place. My brother came home from work, turned around, and left for job number 2. My parents came home, loaded 2 of the four dogs into the car for a quick trip to the vet for a manicure. I was left home. As my mom ran out the door, she said “Why don’t you throw some hot dogs on the grill?” Now I like hot dogs as much as the next person. There was a solid 2 years of my small life where I ate nothing but hot dogs and chicken nuggets (my mother still talks about it). But having just had kielbasa the night before, I wasn’t feelin it. So, what could I make relatively quickly that would be done by the time my parents got home and wouldn’t make a giant mess? 1 dish chicken and veggies.

What you’ll need:

2 cups chicken stock or water with 2 bullion cubes

Salt

Pepper

Onion (we had yellow so that’s what I used)

Chicken Breasts

Potatoes

Green Beans (we have fresh, frozen ones from our garden)

Carrots

Thyme

Parsley

  1. Thaw your chicken breast. We buy chicken in bulk, and my mom usually cuts thick breasts in half so they’re not as thick and cook a bit quicker.
  2. Dirty peel and cut your potatoes and carrots. If you can’t stand the skins, feel free to peel them completely. If you are worried about them cooking all of the way in the oven (like me) you can pre-boil them for a bit to kick start the cooking process.
  3. Cut a slice of onion about 1/2 inch thick. Simply cut into quarters so you have pretty decent sized pieces.
  4. Prepare your chicken broth and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. The chicken broth helps cook the potatoes, carrots, and green beans while also keeping the chicken nice and juicy!
  5. Lightly grease the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish. dump in your veggies and mix a bit. Lay your chicken breast on top. Pour your chicken broth over it all, it won’t cover all of the veggies but it will come about 1/2 up.
  6. Sprinkle salt, pepper and a bit of thyme and parsley.

13177273_10209214354421043_6736157662262300396_n.jpg7. Cover with foil and put into your oven. Cook until chicken and veggies are cooked through.

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If you’re feeling adventurous, you could remove the chicken and veggies to a platter and make a thicker sauce with the juices and chicken broth by adding cornstarch. I did not do that this evening.

You could easily make this in a crock pot, or use additional vegetables like asparagus. If you were to do this in a crock pot, I would add an extra cup of broth/water just to be on the safe side, especially if you plan on leaving it unattended.

Baked Chicken Legs and Marinade

We are hard-core grillers, and by “we” I mean my mom. She loves to grill and does it just about anytime of year. Well, it’s been just a wee bit cold up here in Pennsylvania and she’s given up until it gets a bit better. But we had chicken legs, and I love chicken legs. We normally reserve them for grilling, but I needed something to break up the monotony of winter dinners. So I decided I was going to bake my chicken legs.

Ingredients:

Chicken legs

1/2 cup EVOO

1/2 onion

2 lemons

1/4 orange juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

3 garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon Rosemary

1/2 teaspoon Thyme

1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

Salt/Pepper

1. In a large container combine: the juice of 2 lemons, olive oil, chopped onion, orange juice, Worcestershire sauce, 3 minced garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme, brown sugar, salt and pepper. With a fork, mix everything together to distribute the ingredients.

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2. Place your thawed (or mostly thawed) chicken legs into the container, put the lid on and shake around to distribute the marinade over the legs. Let marinade for at least 3 hours, or over night. I would re-shake every so often to redistribute the goods.

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3. Pre-heat your oven to 350. Place your chicken legs and marinade into a large baking dish, skin side up, and cover with foil. Place in the oven while it is still pre-heating. Bake for at least an hour and a half, or until the meat reaches 160 degrees using a meat thermometer. For the last half hour, remove the foil to crisp the skins.

4. Optional, remove foil and turn on your broiler. Everyone likes that awesome crunch skin and this is the best way to get it when you’re not grilling. Broil until the skins are turning golden brown and crunchy!

5. Remove from the oven, and let rest. Serve with sides and enjoy! We had rice and a veggie! 🙂

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Homemade Chicken Pot Pie (Actual Pie)

It was just within the last few years that I had learned that there are two versions of “chicken pot pie.” One is the literal pie version, with flakey crust stuffed with chicken and vegetable goodness. The other is the “Pennsylvania Dutch” version that is a thick and creamy chicken soup with big egg noodles. Some of you may be scratching your heads, I live about 30 minutes from Lancaster, home of relatively large Amish and Mennonite communities. Being so close, some of the recipes and cultural norms have wiggled themselves in…anyway. This recipe is a classic, actual pie version. In true Anna fashion, my mother asked me if I had  recipe, I said yes. “Yes” actually means “I’ve got a plan but I’m totally making this up.” 9 times out of 10 it works for me.

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Pennsylvania Dutch CPP

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“Classic” CPP

 

Ingredients for filling:

2-3 thawed boneless/skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup carrots

1/4 cup green beans

1/4 cup corn

Any other vegetables you’d like- peas, lima beans etc.

3 potatoes

2-3 chicken bullion cubes

1/2 stick of butter

1/2 cup flour

1 cup milk

Salt/Pepper

Pie Crust:

You can use 2 store bought crusts (top and bottom) or you can use this tried and true, my personal favorite, recipe HERE!

*Pre-heat your oven to 350*

1. In a medium-large pot boil chicken bullion cubes in about 6 cups of water.

2. Chop your chicken breasts into small bite sized pieces/cubes. Throw them into the water to cook. This flavors both the chicken and the stock. You will use this for the gravy filling later.

2. While the chicken is going, make your pie crust. Roll out and place your bottom crust into the pie dish. I made the bottom pretty thick because we like crust! Poke holes into the bottom to keep it from puffing up. Place in the oven at 350 until it is just turning golden brown. Mine happened to time perfectly for when I was ready to fill, about 30 minutes since it was thick.

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3. Peal and chop the potatoes into small bite sized chunks. Throw them in the pot with the chicken to boil until tender. I also threw in the carrots since they can take a bit longer.

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4. In a medium sauce pan, melt half a stick of butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted and started boiling it will start to kinda bubble. Whisk in your flour continuously. It will bubble, thicken and start to turn brown. When it is a toasted almond color and smells nutty, remove from heat, slowly add in the milk to temper. Continue whisking. It will continue to thicken. This is a rue!

5. Using a ladle, ladle in as much of the stock from the pot with the chicken and potatoes as possible and put back on medium heat. Continue to whisk together. Add in salt and pepper to taste. This will be the “gravy” in your pie.

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6. Dump the rue/stock mixture back in the pot with the chicken and potatoes. Dump in the green beans, corn and other veggies in at this time. I used fresh-frozen veggies so they’d already been pre-cooked, they just needed “heated up.”

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7. Pull your bottom crust out of the oven if you have not already. Fill with your filling! You will probably have some left over filling.

8. Roll out your top crust, place on top, poke holes in the top to release steam. Put the pie glass/tin on a baking sheet to catch potential drips and replace back into the oven until the top crust is golden brown. This will take about a half hour. I used the broiler to then add a bit more color to the top crust.

Serve HOT! If you have any extra pie crust or filling, roll out the extra dough, cut circles, place in muffin tins and fill with the extra filling for mini-pies that you can freeze and eat later! YUM!

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My dad chalked this up to “another success.” Not too bad for not quite having a recipe! This recipe took a little over an hour start to finish, but for a CPP with HOMEMADE crust and gravy, I think that’s pretty good. This was perfect for the blustery cold winter we’ve been having up here in the North East!

Pocket Chicken and Potatoes With Green Beans

When it is in the 90s the last thing you want to do is turn the oven on in the house. Even with the AC on full blast the oven is a bad idea. But the taste of the grill isn’t always wanted every day of the week. Here is my way around both problems.

Ingredients-

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breast

Salt

Pepper

Olive Oil

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Parsley

1/2 cup onion

2 garlic cloves

Butter

Pakricka

1. Thaw chicken breasts.

2. Pull out 2 large pieces of foil and make the shape of a plus sign. Spray with non-stick spray and drizzle some olive oil to keep the meat from sticking.

3. Finely chop your onion and garlic, kind of mix them up in the same bowl

4. Place about a quarter of the onion and garlic on the top piece of foil

5. Season each chicken breast on underside and place on top of onion and garlic.

6. Season the top side of the chicken and spread the rest of the onion and garlic on top.

7. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and add small pads of butter on top of each breast.

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8. Wrap the chicken up nice and tight!

DO NOT POKE HOLES! The whole point of this is to partially steam the chicken. It stays nice and moist this way.

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9. Turn the grill on High and place the pockets on the grill. Our grill at that point cooks at about 400.

10. Cook for 10 minutes, go out and turn the pocket. Cook for another 10 minutes.

11. Turn the grill down to Medium for 15-20 minutes.

12. You can pull them out just to add a few grill marks or remove them from the pocket and place on a plate to serve.

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Serve with fresh veggies!

I was super excited to make the potatoes! It finally gave me a chance to use the ones we dug out a few days ago!

Ingredients:

Potatoes

Olive Oil

Butter

Garlic

Rosemary

Onion

Parsely

1. If needed, cut potatoes. I used a lot of our smaller ones that only needed cut in half or not at all!

2. Lay out 2 piece of foil just like the chicken. Spray with non-stick spray

3. Add potatoes to the center

4. Drizzle with olive oil, seasonings and herbs

5. Top with a few pads of butter

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6. Wrap up nice and tight. DO NOT POKE HOLES!

Cook along side the chicken- see directions above and below

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7. Turn the grill on High and place the pockets on the grill. Our grill at that point cooks at about 400.

8. Cook for 10 minutes, go out and turn the chicken pocket, FLIP the potato pocket. Cook for another 10 minutes.

9. Turn the grill down to Medium for 15-20 minutes.

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And last, but not least, actually my favorite part- THE GREEN BEANS!

Tonight was our first night of having our green beans FRESH out of the garden! Absolutely, hands down, favorite and best thing about having the garden!!! Traipsing through the green bean forest is quite fun as well!

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Green Beans

Garlic Clove

1 Tablespoon Butter

Olive Oil

Minced Onion

1. Blanch/cook your green beans to desired level of crunch! We like ours a bit on the crispy side still!

2. While the beans are cooking, finely mince garlic and mince onion (or use the dried stuff)

3.. Drain water and put beans back into pot.

4. Add butter, a squirt of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon garlic, and 1/2 tablespoon of onion.

5. On medium-high heat melt the butter and keep everything moving as to not burn it.

6. Once the beans start to show signs of frying and the garlic and onion are thoroughly infused, remove from heat.

That is one yummy, fresh, flavorful summer dinner!

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Not Baked Zitti But Not Chicken Parm

I find that I come up with my best recipes when there is nothing in the house. Eric goes shopping about once a month, loads up like a crazy person and doesn’t have to see a grocery store for about 3 weeks. Which is awesome because we hate grocery shopping. It absolutely sucks when it’s the end of those 3 weeks and I am scraping food from the bottom of the barrel so to speak. The new running joke of course is that if worse comes to worse we can always eat the chickens. -_-

Ingredients:

3-5 boneless, skinless chicken breast

1/2 box elbow macaroni

2 jars of  homemade tomato sauce

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 grated Parmesan cheese

I finally finished my last two jars of sauce from last summer, JUST in time to prepare to make some more over the next few months.

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Usually when I am seasoning my sauce I throw in a crushed clove of garlic and about 2 tablespoons of minced onion. We were out of both so I used the good ole’ store bought dried stuff. I also threw in basil, oregano, and parsley, with the garlic powder and dried minced onion.

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Pre-heat the oven to 425

I keep the sauce on medium-low for about an hour. This helps thicken the homemade sauce and marries the yummy flavors in with the sauce.

I thawed and mostly cooked the chicken breast through before cutting it up into larger chunks with kitchen scissors.

I pre baked the elbow macaroni until they were aldente.

Put the chicken chunks, macaroni, and sauce in a large casserole dish. Cover with cheese and cook for 20-30 minutes. Everything is already cooked and hot. This is just to make sure the chicken is definitely cooked through and allows the sauce to cook into the noodles just a bit.  Of course the cheese needs time to get ooey and gooey.

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Not too bad for a “there’s literally nothing in the kitchen” dinner. Yes, this definitely makes a lot BUT it’s enough for Eric to take for lunch a few days and his roommate to stuff his face a few times as well. If the chicken is thawed, this takes 30 minutes of “hard-work” prep and another 30 letting the sauce simmer.  I asked Eric if this was worth making again even when we have food back in the kitchen and he gave me the thumbs up! 🙂 Obviously not baked ziti, or chicken parm but something almost akin to the two? Like a long lost distant cousin twice removed maybe?

THE BABY CHICKENS!

Eric’s grandparents at one point and time had a full working farm. Horses, cows, chickens, ducks, turkeys, crops- the whole nine yards. Now that they have gotten up there in age they have chickens, turkeys, and keep smaller gardens. While over helping them a few weeks ago Eric decided that he too wanted a few chickens. He and his roommate decimate eggs like they’re the only food on Earth most weeks. Even though his grandparents supply us with eggs most of the year, he wanted a few of his own. Admittedly, I did too!

After a few phone calls to friends and relatives with chickens and some serious research we picked a breed- Rhode Island Reds. This also happens to be the same breed his grandparents and most of our friends and other relatives have as well. They are supposed to be great layers and have generally good dispositions.

A few more phone calls later, Eric and I found ourselves at Pickering Valley Farm and Feed. This happens to be a pretty cool pet store. We left the store with 4 little pullets. A pullet is not quite a baby chick but it is also not of egg laying age/adulthood. They are like teenagerish. They’re a little more than a month old, which means they still need to hang out under the heat lamp most of the time.

They’re also adorable.

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We haven’t named them yet because we just can’t decide. It was easier deciding on names for our non-existent children.

We are currently feeding them special not-quite-chick-but-not-quite-adult food for now. My goal is to make homemade feed for them in the coming months, especially when winter comes knocking again.

If you are considering getting chickens or already have some and are always looking for places to get good info, check out Back Yard Chickens. They were invaluable while researching breeds, feed, coops, how to raise them, health issues etc. It’s like the chicken Bible.

Stay tuned to see pictures of our coop and how we did it.

And because they’re so cute….a few more pics!

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Baked Parmesan Chicken

Everyone knows the classic breaded chicken parm. The greatest thing about chicken is its versatility. You can put just about anything on chicken and it tastes delish! This is my own twist to the classic fav dish.

Chicken breast
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (or as much as you want!)
2-3 cups bread crumbs
3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or minced garlic)
If bread crumbs aren’t preseasoned, feel free to add basil, oregano, garlic and onion

Pre-heat oven to 375

1. Combine olive oil and garlic powder. Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese

2. Dip thawed chicken breast in the olive oil/garlic mixture

3. After the garlic/oil dip, coat the chicken in the bread crumb/cheese mix

4. Drizzle some olive oil on the bottom of a baking dish before putting the chicken in.

5. Cover with foil and bake for 20 min. Uncover and let cook for 10-15 min, or until juices are clear and centers aren’t pink to give a nice golden finish.

Place on a bed of penne and top with tomato/spaghetti sauce of your choice!

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Cheesy Chicken Bacon Potato Hash

It happens to everyone. You get home from work and have to make dinner. As you dig through the freezer you come up with a pack of chicken breasts. With a little more digging you find bacon. Looking through the pantry you pull out some potatoes. Opening the fridge you find a block of cheese and not much else. Well, this happened to me. My boyfriend hadn’t been grocery shopping in some time and there seemed to be nothing in the house but those few things. So I came up with this.

3 chicken breasts
Bacon bits or bacon BAKED and crumbled
4-6 potatoes (I like red)
2 cups of cheese
1-2 tablespoons butter COLD

1. Cook the chicken. Grill it, boil it, bake it, microwave it. Just cook it.

2. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. I threw mine in my magic bullet so it was nice and shredded.

3. Peel and cut the potatoes in relatively small pieces. The smaller the quicker they will bake. (Sometimes I boil them to speed the baking process up a bit)

4. If you are baking your bacon, place cookie cooling rack on a cooking sheet. Place bacon on cooling rack and bake at 350 until crispy. The fat drains through the cooling rack leaving crispy and “healthier” bacon. Or you can just use store bought bacon bits, the REAL ones.

5. Grate at least 2 cups of cheddar or cheese of your choice.

Now you have everything prepped! Time to put it together.

6. Combined chicken, potatoes, bacon bits/crumble and half of the cheese either in baking dish or bowl. *grease bottom of baking dish!*

7. Cover mixture with remaining cheese!

8. With a knife, cube or slice butter and drop on top of casserole.

9. Cover with foil.

If potatoes are already cooked, bake at 350 for about a half hour to melt the cheese and get all the flavors together. If potatoes are not cooked, bake at 375 for 30-45 min or until the potatoes are soft.

So next time you find empty cupboards, don’t sweat! This super easy and relatively cheap dinner is yummy and takes about an hour and 15 minutes start to eating! It can easily be made ahead of time, and just thrown in the oven when you’re ready to eat.

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