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 Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

I have a confession. I am a picky eater. If you notice, my recipes tend to contain the same main components. Though I do like fruits, I am not a fan of vegetables or squash like things. This last Thanksgiving, I helped my Aunt make butternut squash. I’m not sure if it was how it was prepared or the squash itself, but I was not a huge fan. For Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend made spaghetti squash. It was good. I liked it. Which, is a big deal. I have a texture thing. I don’t like such things normally. I was hit with inspiration and went shopping today. I was going to make spaghetti squash!

Ingredients:

1 small-medium spaghetti squash

1-2 garlic cloves

Olive Oil

1/2 cup – 1 cup cheese- mozzarella, parmesan, any mix of cheese you would like

8oz tomato sauce

1-2 tablespoons minced onion (or dried onion flakes)

Meat of choice- I used mini salad shrimp, sausage, ground beef/turkey/pork, muscles, again totally up to you

Spices/Herbs- basil, oregano, parsley

Pre-heat oven to 300

1. Slice your spaghetti squash in half- I read AFTER I cut mine to bake it a bit to soften it. It is quite difficult to cut in half. So you can choose to pre-bake yours for about 15 minutes or just hack away like I did. Cut in half and scoop out the pulp, like a pumpkin.

2. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and place on a baking sheet, skin side out, that’s also been drizzled with olive oil.

3. Rip a small piece of foil, place in 1 or 2 garlic cloves and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up and place on the cookie sheet with the squash- nothing beats roasted garlic!

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4. In a sauce pan on the stove, combine your sauce, meet and spices. Just kinda keep it on low while the squash is baking to let the flavors meld. I used little tiny shrimp so that the flavor was still there but so that I didn’t have huge chunks.

5. At 30-45 minutes, flip the squash flesh side up and test with a fork. You should easily be able to pull the strands away from the rind. If not, continue baking. I left mine flesh side up for another 15 minutes or so.

6. Once the squash is done, scrape out the flesh with a fork into a separate bowl. Add the sauce and half of your cheese and mix until well combined.

7. Replace the mixture back into the hollowed squash skins. Sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese and put back into the oven for another 15 minutes to melt the cheese on top.

8. Serve hot with a hearty slice of bread and butter!

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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!

Homemade Pizza

This may be a throw back for some of you. This pizza dough recipe comes from none other than the The Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith. This is an easy homemade Focaccia dough with lots of fresh toppings! This recipe also makes two pizzas

Sauce Ingredients: 24oz of tomato sauce (I used our canned stuff)

3 minced garlic cloves

2 tablespoons minced onion

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon parsley

1/3 teaspoon oregano

1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Leave on low heat to mellow and allow the flavors to release and develop while you are making the dough and such.

Dough Ingredients:

5 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

2 packets of dry yeast

2 cups tepid (warm) water

1 tablespoon of white granulated sugar

4 tablespoons of olive oil

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. In a bowl combine the yeast, warm water and sugar. Stir a little and allow the yeast to react. It will get kind of bubbly and rise to the top of the water when this happens.

2. Add in the olive oil, vegetable oil, and salt.

3. Slowly add in the flour until it begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl as it mixes. If you are using a Kitchen Aid, slowly add in all 5 1/2 cups of flour, using the dough/knead attachment, knead on medium/low for 10 minutes. If you are hand kneading, add in 4 1/2 cups and knead the remaining cup in as you go.

4. After kneading, separate into two balls, stretch/roll out over two greased baking sheets/pizza stones. Let rise for at least 30 minutes in a relatively warm environment. I turn my oven on “warm” at 170 while I am making the dough and turn it off the last few minutes. It’s just warm enough to help with rising without baking the crust!

Toppings: This is the easy part. You can do what you want. I went to our local deli and got 4 medium, fresh, mozzarella balls instead of pre-shredded cheese. We had frozen peppers from our garden this summer. We had a ham steak, onion and ground beef. I fried up the onions with some butter, browned the ground beef, diced the ham, and sliced-ish the cheese and went to town! While you are decorating your pizza, preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and crispy! Because our two baking sheets don’t fit on the same rack, we did 10 minutes, switched them around and finished them with another 10. Here is the before and after pics! YUM!

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Before baking- Mozz, ground beef, fried onion, diced honey ham! Mhmm

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Before baking- half cheese, half peppers with fried onions! 🙂

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Homemade French Onion Soup

It’s cold out-EW! Dad doesn’t feel well- double ew. I am home on break and in between jobs right now- YAY! This combination means killer dinners. I was going to make French Onion soup last night but decided on the Tortellini instead. When my dad found out that French onion had been an option, he was quite upset, hence making it tonight. It also happens to be one of my favorites! Between last nights dinner and tonights, we are going to have a killer left over night tomorrow night!

Ingredients:

1 pack beef stew meat/cubes- I know, FOS doesn’t usually have meat in it, well, mine does.

2-3 onions, we used yell

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tablespoon gravy master

5 beef bullion cubes or 6 cups of beef stock

6 cups of water *if using beef stock you will not need the water!*

Shredded or sliced mozzarella cheese

1. Cut stew meat into smaller bite sized pieces- halves or quarters. In a pan on medium heat, brown the cubes.

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2. While the cubes are browning, slice up your onion! We used 2 1/2. You can choose how you’d like to cut them. We quartered them and sliced them length wise so we had onion strips about an inch to 2 inches long.

3. After the cubes have browned, add the onions, stir and put a lid on them. You want the onions to sweat, soften and mix in with the cubes. This took about 10-15 minutes.

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4. Once the onions and cubes are done, put them in the crock pot. Add 3 cups of water or stock, depending on which you are using. Put the pan back on the stove and turn the heat up to high.

5. Add the remaining 3 cups of liquid to the pan, using a spoon, make sure there’s no good stuff stuck to the bottom. Add in the Worcestershire sauce, gravy master, and if you are using water, the bullion cubes. Bring to a boil and stir until the bullion cubes are pretty much dissolved.

6. Pour the yummy mixture into the crock pot with the onions, beef, and other liquids. Set on low and let simmer for the day.

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As with most of my crock pot recipes, this can be “sped up” by just doing this all in a big pot on the stove. This could technically all be done in the crock pot as well by just throwing everything in and turning it on high, but I feel like the flavors would not be as developed. It would be great to throw in the night before to have for lunch the following day as well!IMG_4718

If you’re like us and don’t have the cute little crocks, have mozzarella cheese shredded/sliced to put on top of the soup with a good, hearty crust of bread. Best if served nice and HOT. Nothing beats that stringy mozzarella with that bread dipped in the beefy, onion broth!

Creamy Crock Pot Tortellini Soup

One of the joys of being in a relationship is collecting and learning recipes. This happens to be one of my new favorites! Filling, easy, warm, and perfect for a cold winters day, this crock pot soup takes about 5 minutes to throw together. Seriously. There’s almost no prep time.

Ingredients:

1lb bag tortellini- cheese or meat

1 8oz pack of cream cheese

16 oz can/jar of tomato sauce

1 lb ground beef

1-2 garlic cloves

1/2 onion

Basil

1. Dump in the tortellini, tomato sauce, and thawed ground beef into the crock pot. Make sure the ground beef is broken up.

2. Add in the cream cheese and split it up a bit so that it is not in one giant block.

3. Mince/chop garlic and onion and add to the pot.

4. Add in a few fresh basil leaves or about a table spoon of dried

5. Set on high and stir occasionally for at least 3 hours. The tortellini should be soft, any meat should be cooked through, the cream cheese should be melted and incorporated.

This whole process could be sped up by doing it in a pot on the stove if needed, or put in a crock pot on low for the day. Serve with a good hearty bread and eat up! Possible additions or substitutions include: diced tomatoes, chicken or a ground meat like turkey or venison, meat tortellini, or meatballs.

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Simple Garlic Parm Potatoes

Potatoes are one of the most versatile foods out there. Seriously. Think about it. Oh, and they’re just generally awesome. I make these more tame potatoes to go with my Mmm Mmm Meatloaf, since the meatloaf already has loads of flavor. They’re quick, easy and sure to please.

Ingredients:

6-8 red potatoes really as many as you need

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup chopped onion

Parmesan Cheese

Salt

Pepper

Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350

1. Dirty peel and rinse potatoes

2. Chop potatoes into cubes, put in a pot of COLD water and begin to bring them up to a boil

3. Rough chop about 1/4 of an onion, you should get about 1/2 of a cup

4. Mince 2 cloves of garlic

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5. Add the garlic and onion to the pot

6. Boil the potatoes until you can cut them with the spoon and strain.

7. Drizzle olive oil into a baking dish and dump in potatoes

8. Crack fresh black pepper and salt on top. Grate or sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top-as much as you’d like. Give it a little drizzle of olive oil on top.

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9. Put dish in the oven uncovered. The potatoes should be pretty well cooked through, so putting them in the oven just finishes that process, melts the cheese and helps the flavors meld. I left mine in for about 20 minutes. 🙂

Serve nice and hot! Sour cream on the side is an option…but then it’s always an option in my life! 🙂