Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Ready, Set, GO!!

Pizza Bites

Leftover Easter ham? Ya... thought so. Us, too. Tired of ham sandwiches? Yep... same here. So how about mixing things up a little bit & trying something new with some of that ham!!? I'd seen several different bloggers post a recipe for Pizza Bites/Pizza Balls - little balls of dough with a cube of mozzarella & a slice or 2 of pepperoni in the middle. Then you bake them & dip 'em in pizza sauce. Well, I was trying to be good & responsible & use what we had so I decided to make up a batch of ham & pineapple pizza balls. Not bad!! Not bad at all! Wanna make some? Of course you do!! LOL

You'll need:

A roll of pizza dough (or you can go from scratch), Mozzarella (most of the people I've seen used cubes - I had shredded so that's what we went with!) and what even toppings/fillings you like on your pizza. As mentioned, I went with ham & pineapple. you could easily so sausage, olives, mushrooms, pepperoni, etc... have fun with it! Then you'll also need olive oil, Italian Seasoning & Parmesan cheese. And your dips, of course!

Roll out your dough & then cut it into little squares. I got 20 out of 1 roll of the Pillsbury stuff.

Spread the squares out a little & then add in the fixings!

Seal the edges up tightly. You don't want any holes or it'll all ooze out & leave you with a sad, hallow ball. Booo for empty pizza balls!

Now pop them into a greased pan, seam side down - either a square or pie one work. Drizzle with some olive oil & use a pastry brush to spread it around. Then sprinkle with Italian Seasoning & Parmesan cheese.

Throw them into your 400 oven for 20 minutes.

Ta da!!!!

I smashed one open for you....

Look at all the steaming, oozing goodness!

Serve them up with a side of your favorite dipping sauce - pizza sauce, Alfredo, Ranch... whatever your family's into!

Mmmm..... ENJOY!

Pizza Bites:

Pizza dough
Mozzarella cheese
Favorite toppings
Olive oil
Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese

Roll out your dough & cut it into about 20 equal squares. Take one square, spread it out a little & add in Mozzarella & toppings. Seal up the edges completely. Continue until all balls are done.

Place seam side down in a greased pie plate or 8x8 pan. brush tops with olive oil, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese & Italian seasonings.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Serve with favorite dipping sauce.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fresh Baked Rolls... kinda!

Looks good, right? Smells good, too! I love good, warm, homemade, fresh-from-the-oven rolls. But honestly, when I'm cooking up a big meal full of other homemade stuff, the rolls are just one more thing that I don't have the energy to fuss with. So I cheat! How do I make my rolls?

Rhodes does it for me! These come in a bag - I get the 36-roll size, and it's just full of frozen balls of dough! They are cheap (like $3 for this bag!) & easy & so, so, so good! Just plan ahead... you need 3-5 hours for them to rise from the frozen state.

Just spray your pan with PAM, lay down the frozen balls & cover with plastic wrap that has also been sprayed with PAM (on the side that will touch the rolls).

The let them rise in your favorite warm spot. As you may remember, my spot is in the microwave above the oven - with the under-light on. It brings in just enough heat to get a great rise!

After about 4 hours:

Then take off the plastic, pop them in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes.

Helloooooooooooooooo gorgeous!!

As soon as they come out of the oven I rub the tops with a stick of butter.

They are so soft, fluffy, sweet & wonderful. If ever I'm going to a party & I'm assigned to bring the rolls I might bust out the effort to go scratch. But when it's just us at home!!? Rhodes does it for me.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

S'mores - without a campfire

After our yummy ham dinner this past Sunday I decided we needed some S'mores! Obviously we weren't out camping & we are not lucky enough to have a fire pit in the back yard... so what's a gal to do!? Use the broiler, of course!

I'm sure you know the fixings, but just to keep with my usual way of doing things:

Graham crackers, marshmallows & chocolate!

Have you seen these fun new marshmallows from the Jet-Puffed crew!? They're flat squares! Perfect for Kitchen S'mores! If I'm out camping I still want my fat round guy on a stick but at home - these are genius!

No big mystery here - lay down a cracker, top it with chocolate & then the marshmallow!

Stick it under the broiler - not too close. You don't want to burn your 'mallow before the middle gets gooey!

Once they're browned to your liking pull them out...

& top with another cracker.

Ta da!! Yum, yum yum!

All right - now for the particulars... Personally, I didn't love the melted chocolate that happened by putting the candy under the broiler with it all, but everybody else did. They were pretty messy, too. So, next time I think I'll od half this way & then for the other half of the pan I'll add the chocolate after they've browned, when i add the top cracker. I love the variety of textures you get between the crispy cracker, gooey marshmallow & a firm piece of chocolate.


Kitchen S'mores:

Graham crackers
chocolate candy bars

Lay your crackers on a pan. Top with chocolate & then a marshmallow. Put about 6 inches from the broiler & allow to brown to your liking. Remove & top with another cracker.

For a less melted chocolate center do not add the chocolate until after removing from the oven.

Wordless Wednesday - Mom!! Food!!! Now!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Maple Brown Sugar Ham - in the Crock Pot!

Easter's coming! And that means lots of family time - great church meetings, dying eggs together, the Easter egg hunts that follow, family dinners... I'm looking forward to it! Do you have a menu planned out yet? You should REALLY consider putting THIS ham on the list! Usually, when we cook up a spiral ham it comes out on the dry side. My *old way* was to just cook it according to the package directions & mix up that glaze packet to top it off. If I was feeling frisky I might stud it with cloves & pineapple rings. Well - notice that I called it my *old way*!!? That's because this recipe will now be my go-to ham. It's moist, flavorful & just perfect! And an added bonus? It's made in the crock pot which means your oven will be available for all the wonderful side dishes! Woo hoo for oven space!

So what do you need? It's totally simple:

A spiral sliced ham, pineapple juice (100%), dark brown sugar, REAL maple syrup (not pancake syrup).

That's it!

Put the ham in your crock pot, flat side down. Then rub down the sides with your brown sugar, Pour the syrup down over the top.

Then pour the pineapple juice down the sides - but not onto the ham. You don't want to wash off all the sugar & syrup you just rubbed on!

Now just cover it & cook on low for 4 or 5 hours. If your ham stick up so far that the crock pot lid will not fit on securely just triple layer some tinfoil together & wrap it down the edges.

When it's got about 1 hour to go baste it generously with the juices.

Look how much the juices rose! Lots of yumminess to soak in!

Once it's done just pull it out onto a board & let it rest for about 10 minutes before you serve it up.

It is SO good! Moist, juicy, sweet & wonderful. You really ought to give this one a try!

Maple Brown Sugar Ham:

7-8 pound bone-in spiral-cut ham
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup REAL natural maple syrup
2 cups pineapple juice

Use a 6-7 quart slow cooker. Unwrap the ham and discard flavor packet. Place the ham into the slow cooker stoneware, flat-side down. Rub brown sugar on all sides. Pour on maple syrup and pineapple juice. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. An hour before serving, baste ham with the collected juices from the bottom of the slow cooker. When cooking is done, remove carefully and let it rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before carving.

Source: A Year of Slow Cooking

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pecan-Panko Chicken

Some of my newer readers may not realize that I have meat issues! And more meat issues. Seriously. I can't touch raw meat. I cannot cut raw meat. I get completely skeeved out by fat & gristle. And to see a vein in there!!?? I have to put down my fork & just be done with dinner. I'd like to say I'm working on it but I'm not really sure that I am. I am, however, making small baby-step progress because I was able to pound this chicken! I winced & shuddered every step of the way, but I DID IT!! It was a good dinner. Not the prettiest presentation, but the taste was great!

You'll need:

Chicken breasts, Greek yogurt, chopped pecans, fresh flat-leaf/Italian parsley, Panko crumbs - if you can find the Italian seasoned ones (I know Progresso makes some) get those! I already had these plain ones so I just added some Italian seasoning. I wished I'd gotten the pre-seasoned crumbs. The flavor wasn't as intense as I would have hoped.

So now we're gonna pound out chicken. Why? Because a breast, as is, is thick on one side, thinner on the other & since we're frying these in a pan, the thin side would get overcooked/burned/dried out before the thicker side was even close to done. By pounding it flat, you're evening it out so it's a uniform thickness all the way across.

Put the breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & start whacking it with a rolling pin (or a meat mallet if you've got one!) We're going for about 1/2" thick. Don't be afraid to give it a good smack - it's already dead, you're not gonna hurt it! LOL

Now grab a pie plate (or other shallow dish) and mix the crumbs, nuts & parsley.

And on another plate dump out your yogurt.

Dip the flattened breast in the Greek yogurt - be sure to get both sides. Use a pastry brush to spread it around if you need. This is a very healthy substitution to the usual butter or egg that people often use. See here for a shakedown on what is SO wonderful about Greek Yogurt!

Once it's coated in yogurt, dip it into the crumbs.

Give it a good press with your fingers to make sure the crumbs all stick on well.

Next step is to put the coated breast in a large pan with about 3 TBsp of olive oil heated to medium. Let it go maybe 10-12, flipping once. If you're doing more than 2 breasts you will need to work in batches. Don't crowd the pan!

Be sure to dump the crumbs between batches so you don't get super burned bits stuck to the next batch!

Serve it up with some good, fresh produce & enjoy!!


Pecan-Panko Chicken:

3-4 small chicken breasts (about 1 pound - if using bigger breasts just get more of the other ingredients)
1 6-oz container Plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup Italian Panko crumbs
1/2 cup diced pecans
2 TBSP fresh flat-leaf/Italian parsley, finely chopped
3 TBSP olive oil

Put each chicken breast between pieces of plastic wrap and gently pound with flat side of meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1/2 inch thick.

In a pie pan or other shallow dish, mix crumbs, nuts & parsley. Pour the yogurt out onto a plate. Dip chicken into yogurt, then coat with crumb mixture.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Cook chicken in oil 10-12 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and coating is golden brown.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lemon Cake Cookies

We got home from our Disney trip on Friday about 4:45 & while Hubby unloaded the car I went straight to the kitchen to see what homemade food I could serve up for dinner! We had a whole week of cold cereal breakfasts, PBJ sandwiches for lunch & eating out for dinner. I was SO ready for something not greasy or expensive or served to me by someone I have to tip! LOL (Although it was awfully nice to not do the dishes!!) As I looked to the cupboards for inspiration I saw a box of lemon cake mix & got completely distracted! I wanted cookies!! So I made cookies! Don't worry, thanks to my freezer I was able to pull out a bag of frozen spaghetti sauce, frozen broccoli/carrots/cauliflower and some frozen french bread & we had a good meal - I just whipped up these cookies as it was all coming together!

You can make these with ANY flavor of cake mix; chocolate, strawberry, lemon, vanilla, butter pecan, funfetti, etc. And it becomes even more of an endless stream of possibilities when you consider the different flavor extracts you can add in!

You'll need:

Cake mix, oil & eggs.

Just mix them all up in your mixer...

Plop 'em on a cookie sheet....

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes....

and you're DONE!!!

Was that not the easiest cookie EVER!!? Sometimes when I do the lemon I add in 1/2 tsp of lemon extract & dip the tops in a little powdered sugar before I bake 'em.

Cake Mix Cookies:

1 box cake mix - any flavor
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp flavor extract, any flavor (optional)

Mix everything together. Drop by tablespoon scoop onto a cookie sheet. bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.