From The Kitchen Of Rachelle Underwood

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chimichurri Sauce

This is a sauce that is my new favorite condiment. It is used in Latin cuisine, think...Argentina. This sauce is good with ANY type of meat/seafood. I love making it up, and using it all week for dinner. The sauce tastes a little off right after you blend it all up. But after a couple of hours of sitting, the flavors meld together, and become very harmonious. You don't need to store this in the refrigerator, as it contains nothing that can go bad. Try it really bumps up the flavor of plain old meat. (It is also good on top of white rice)
Chimichurri Sauce

1 c. cilantro leaves
1 c. flat leaf parsley
1/2 c. mint leaves
4 garlic cloves
3/4 - 1 c. olive oil
1/4 - 1/3 c. red wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Blend all herbs, and garlic in a blender or food processor. Add vinegar, and pulse. Add olive oil and salt and pepper, blend until incorporated. Let sit for at least an hour, stir mixture, and serve on top grilled meat.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Feta Stuffed Chicken

This recipe will make you feel like a chef after preparing it. The flavors go very well together, and instead of having a boring chicken breast, you can have something packed with flavor. To make the filling even healthier, you can use reduced fat feta cheese and fat free cream cheese, but I like to use the Nuefatchel cream cheese, and regular feta. If you are not a feta fan, substitute mozzarella cheese, it will taste just as good. Also, if you don't have balsamic dressing on hand, make your own using equal parts of balsamic vinegar to olive oil, and plenty of salt and pepper.
Feta Stuffed Chicken

4 chicken breasts
3/4 c. balsamic vinaigrette
1/4 - 1/2 c. feta cheese (use as much as need to stuff the breasts, since breasts vary.)
1/2 tsp. dried basil or 2 tsp fresh basil
2 tbs. cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. pepper
olive oil (1-2 tbs.)
1 tbs. chopped sun dried tomatoes (optional)

In a plastic bag put chicken and vinegarette, and let marinade for at least 2 hours. In a samll bowl, combine feta, cream cheese, basil, sun dried tomato (optional) and pepper, set aside. Remove chicken from marinade, take a knife and half the chicken breast to create a pocket, but do not slice all the way through. Stuff the pocket with the feta mixture and secure it with a toothpick. Repeat process for all the chicken breasts. In a large saucepan, prehat olive oil to medium/medium high heat. Let pan get really hot before adding the chicken breast. Brown chicken on both sides, turning the heat down after browning so that the chicken can cook through. Chicken is done when no longer pink inside.

Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake

For those of you that just can't cross over to the white Texas sheet cake, here is the chocolate version that is SO good. This cake should be called "Better than Sex Cake". It is truly, truly yummy. I really like when there is some leftover from a party that I get to eat for breakfast! I know, not healthy. But, what is the difference of having pancakes with butter and syrup on them? Why is that OK and not a slice of decadent chocolate cake? If you don't have buttermilk, measure out 1 cup of milk and put 1 tbsp. of vinegar or lemon juice into the milk, stir and let will know it is butter milk when it gets really thick and nasty.

Texas Sheet Cake (Chocolate Version)

For the cake:
2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 c. flour
2 sticks butter
4 tbs cocoa
1 c. water
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

For the Frosting:
1 box powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
3-4 tbs cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 c. buttermilk
dash of salt

Cake: In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt, stir together. In a small sauce pan, bring butter, cocoa and water to a boil. Pour hot mixture into dry ingredients and mix well. Add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla, mix well. Bake in a greased, large jelly roll pan for 30 minutes at 300 degrees, do NOT over bake! Let cake cool 20 minutes before making frosting.

Frosting: Combine powdered sugar and nuts into a large bowl. In a small saucepan heat cocoa, butter and buttermilk to a boil. Pour hot mixture into powdered sugar bowl, add vanilla and a dash of salt and beat, until the consistency of loose pudding. Pour on cake, and frost quickly, as the frosting cools it will set up fast!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

White Texas Sheet Cake

I'm not a huge cake fan, I prefer cookies over any other baked good. However, besides rainbow chip cake with rainbow chip frosting, this is my all time favorite cake. Many people have had a Texas sheet cake that is a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, but this is the white cake/white frosting version of that recipe. I'm crazy about almond flavored baked goods, and I think that's why I love this cake so much. The frosting has almond extract, butter, and the cake is extremely moist with the usage of buttermilk. If you are not a fan of almond extract, just use vanilla extract in the frosting, it will still taste TDF.

White Texas Sheet Cake

1 c. butter
1 c. water
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. buttermilk or sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c butter
1/2 c buttermilk
4 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
pinch of salt
1 c. chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a small saucepan, bring 1 c. butter and water to a boil. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt, mix to combine. Add hot butter mixture to wet, stir. Add buttermilk or sour cream to the cake mixture, blend. Then, add eggs and vanilla, blend. Grease large jelly roll pan, and pour batter into pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until done. Do not overcook, the cake should not be brown! Let cake cool 20 minutes before making frosting, you want it to be slightly warm when you frost it.
For the frosting, in a small saucepan, combing the 1/2 c. butter and 1/2 c. buttermilk, bring to a boil. In a large bowl, measure out 3 cups of powdered sugar and a pinch of salt, pour hot mixture and almond extract over powdered sugar, and mix to combine, adding more sugar to reach desired consistency. You don't want the frosting to be thick. Since the mixture is hot, as it cools, it will harden. Look for the consistency of slightly runny pudding. Add nuts, and spread frosting on the cake quickly as the frosting cools fast.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Just Like a Restaurant Pizza Crust

I'm always on a search to make homemade pizza that would taste like you got it from a restaurant. I thought I had found a great pizza crust recipe, until I tried this one. I was watching Tyler's Ultimate this weekend on the Food Network, and he made pizzas. He whipped this pizza dough up very quickly, and I liked the technique that he used of heating the pan you are cooking the pizza on in the oven, before placing the dough on it. This technique is what makes the dough slightly crispy, chewy and soft. I also like that the dough is very flavorful, so you want to eat the crust. This recipe whips up in no time, and now it is my new favorite. The recipe makes 2 crusts, so if you only need one crust, cute the recipe in half. If you don't have stand mixer, just use your hands to mix, and knead.
Just Like a Restaurant Pizza Crust

2 pkgs active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
2 c. warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
2 tbs. kosher salt or 1 1/2 tbs of table salt
6 c. flour, plus more for dusting
2 tbs olive oil

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and water and stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, 5 to 10 minutes.

If you're using a stand mixer, combine the salt and flour to the bowl and pulse a few times to mix. Add the yeast mixture, at the lowest speed, until the flour incorporates. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough gathers into a ball. This should take about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and pulse a few more times. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough as you're making it by squeezing a small amount together between your thumb and fingers. If it's crumbly, add more water, if it's sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead with dough hook until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Form the dough into a round and put it into a lightly oiled bowl, turning it over to coat the dough entirely with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot (i.e., over a gas pilot light) until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Place jelly roll pan in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Stretch dough with hands on a lightly floured surface until it's big enough to cover the pan. Remove hot pan from the oven, and put about 2 tbsp. of olive oil on pan, tilting it until the oil coats the whole pan. Place dough on hot pan, this starts the cooking process, and place sauce/toppings on pizza. Cook at 450, until golden brown on the bottom.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The BEST Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm seriously foaming at the mouth about this recipe right now. I made these cookies yesterday, and they are SO insanely perfect, I don't know if I will make any other recipe for chocolate chip cookies again! I saw that alot of food blogs were posting this recipe, which comes from a cooking magazine. The recipe looked strange to me, and I had serious doubts as to weather they were going to turn out. The result was a chewy, soft, flavorful, perfect chocolate chip cookie. Here's why I think they turn out the way they do: It calls for a cup of brown sugar and only a 1/2 a cup of regular sugar, and when you combine the melted butter with all the brown sugar it starts the caramelizing process. I don't know what the egg yolk does, but it must do something! The other interesting part is that you cook these cookies at a low temperature for 14 minutes, this allows the cookie to caramelize and become chewy, without being burnt! These are just wonderful...if you don't try this recipe, you will never experience in my book, the perfect cookie.
P.S. - these cookies get more chewy as they, love, love! I also found that the first batch of cookies, I had to cook longer, but then after the first batch, 14 minutes was perfect!

The BEST Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 c. plus 2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbs. butter, melted, then cooled till warm
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
1 c. - 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave just until it melts, don't scorch it! Add sugars, vanilla, and salt to butter mixture. Add egg and egg yolk, blend. Add flour and baking soda, mix until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Scoop tablespoon sized cookies onto an ungreased, light colored baking sheet. Cook for 14 minutes, or until edges are lightly not over bake.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Penne with Chicken, Cilantro and Tomato

I love cilantro. I first had this recipe a couple of years ago at our friends house and instantly loved it. The flavors taste very restaurant style and with just a few ingredients you can have a one pot meal. I'm not very good with Italian dishes, so this recipe was a hit! It's really good when tomatoes are in season, and I think that that time is just around the corner. If you don't like cilantro, substitute basil, it will taste just as good.

Penne with Chicken, Cilantro and Tomato

6-8 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz. jack cheese, grated (not pre-grated)
2 grilled chicken breast, sliced thinly
1 box penne or bowtie pasta

In a saucepan , combine tomatoes, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and garlic. Cook pasta according to directions, make sure to salt the water liberally to give the pasta flavor. While the pasta is cooking, warm the tomato mixture up until warm/hot. When pasta is finished cooking, drain, place tomatos mixture into a large bowl, and place drained pasta on top. Sprinkle with grated cheese, allowing the cheese to melt, add chicken, and toss all together. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Healthier Apple Cake

I found this recipe on the 24 hour fitness website under their recipe section a couple of years ago. I'm all about having a dessert that is healthy, but it has to taste like it's not lacking something. Most apple cakes or cakes for that matter use a cup of oil, and this recipe only uses 1/4 c. This cake is a great treat to have as a snack or if you need something sweet, and you don't want to spend hours at the gym working off one piece of cake. Kids like this as well, and it is very easy to whip up for an after dinner treat. Don't eat this cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, the cake is best if you let it sit a couple of hours. This allows the apples to really give off their juices, making the cake incredibly moist. This recipe is for an 8x8 cake pan, but it can be easily doubled for a 9x13 size cake.
Healthier Apple Cake

2 c. peeled, diced apples
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. oil
1 egg, beaten
1 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8x8 pan with cooking spray. Combine apples and sugar in a bowl, and let sit for 30 minutes. Add oil, and beaten egg, and mix. Then, add remaining ingredients, and mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until done. Do not overcook! Sprinkle w/ powdered sugar and let rest for a couple of hours before serving.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

6 Week Buttermilk Bran Muffins

So, last year my sister Lana and I were obsessed with these incredible muffins. It is so nice to have fresh muffins in the morning, and we liked them because they were so moist, and you don't get hungry at all morning after eating these. The recipe we used calls for bran flakes, and these bran pellets that looked like rabbit food. I decided to try this recipe, and you get the same results, but it is not as expensive, and you don't have to deal with the rabbit pellets.
Lana likes these with honey butter, I love them with just butter, have them however you want! They are good muffins!
6 Week Buttermilk Bran Muffins

1 (15 oz.) Raisin Bran cereal
3 c. sugar
5 c. flour
5 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 c. oil
1 qt. buttermilk

In a large bowl, put cereal, and then pour buttermilk over the cereal and let sit until cereal become somewhat soggy. Combine dry ingredients, mix well. Combine wet ingredients, mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mix very well. Add buttermilk cereal mixture, and mix well. Put batter into an airtight container and put into the refrigerator 12- 24 hours before you make them. Take out what you need and put into muffin tins. Bake 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. This batter will keep 6 to 8 weeks in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Authentic Mexican Rice

This rice is SO easy, tastes like the stuff that you get at Mexican restaurants, but you control the quality in your ingredients. My mother-in-law Sheree gave me this recipe, which she got from her friend from Mexico, so it really is authentic. This rice is good with any meal, it doesn't have to be a Mexican dish. This rice is good as a side, in burritos, fajitas, etc. If you want to make the rice spicy, slice up a jalapeno like coins,and throw them on will add much heat. If you need to make more of the rice, just double it!

Authentic Mexican Rice

1 c. long grain rice
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp. oil (can use olive oil)
1/2 small onion sliced into thick rings

In a medium pot add oil, and rice. Over medium-high heat, stir rice and oil, until rice turns bright white, that's how you will know when it's ready to add the liquid. In a measuring cup, add tomato sauce and enough water to equal 2 cups. Add to rice, stir, add salt, stir, and then add onion slices to the top. (They will sink onto the rice, and add a pretty touch when rice is done). Cover and let simmer on low for 20 minutes or until rice is done.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Favorite Cherry Pie

Since I'm making this cherry pie this weekend for my Aunt Kym, I thought I would post this recipe since it is one of my favorites. This recipe was also in my TDF cookbook that I published a couple of years ago. I really don't like pies, but I like this pie. I hate the store bought gelatinous cherry pie filling, it tastes like metal to me....I know I'm weird. There is something about the tart/sweet cherries mixed with sugar, butter and almond extract that makes this recipe a winner. The almond extract is what makes this pie so special, so don't leave it out! The pie is best when you let it sit and cool, as there are lots of juices, and cooling the pie helps the juice from the cherries set up. Vanilla ice cream is a great accompaniment.
As a side note, there is a funny family story to this pie. When my Grandma Mabel past away, my mother cleaned out the cupboards in her house. She found a large amount of white granules in a container, and my mom put those granules into our sugar container. One Sunday evening, our family decided to make this pie. We made the recipe, following it closely. The pie smelled so incredible in the oven...we were all anxious to eat it. We cut a piece for my dad, and he took a nice big bite...he yelled, and spit it out...we were like, "what is up with you dad?" He said the pie was as salty as the ocean water. Turns out Grandma Mabel bought salt in 10 pound bags....we knew she was laughing up in heaven! Very funny moment, but what a waste of such an incredible pie!

Favorite Cherry Pie

Pastry for a 9 inch 2 crust pie
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
2 cans pitted, red tart cherries
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 tbs. butter

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pastry, or if using store bought, place pastry in the pie plate. Drain cherries in a colander really well. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and sugar, mix with drained cherries, add almond extract, and pour into prepared pastry. Dot with butter. Cover the top with crust and create a small whole in the middle for ventilation. Seal bottom of pastry to the top of the pastry. Cover edges of pie crust with foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake 35-45 minutes, removing foil the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Corn Muffins

I LOVE these corn muffins! They are so fast, and yummy. I have tried many recipes for cornbread, and I like these because they are muffins, they are sweet, the recipe doesn't make too much, and you don't need to add any butter or honey to make them moist after they cook. I got the recipe from Barefoot Contessa originally, and made a few adjustments. They really are worth making the next time you have soup or chili!

Corn Muffins

3 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 c. cornmeal
2 tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. whole milk
1 c. butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs

Preheats oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine milk, melted butter, and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir just until blended. Spoon batter into paper liners, filling each one to almost the top. Bake for 3o minutes, until tops are crisp and toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly and remove from pan.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tortilla Soup With Chicken and Avocado

A couple of years ago I was part of "Gourmet Group". A group of us would get together and have a party with a 3 course meal, and beautiful table decorations. This soup was served as one of the main dishes. I love the easy preparation, and little ingredients needed to make a flavorful soup that adults and kids enjoy. Leftovers are always welcome with this recipe. You can use any kind of cheese you have one hand, and you can also use store bought chips if you prefer. I like to cut my corn tortillas into strips, place them on a baking sheet, and bake them at 425 degrees until they are crisp and golden. Salt and pepper this dish to taste, as everyone has different seasoning preferences.

Tortilla Soup with Chicken and Avocado

3 tbsp. oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
1 onion, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes, not drained
1/2 tsp cumin
4 c. chicken broth
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
salt and pepper
5 corn tortillas
1 avocado, pitted and cubed
1/2 c. cheese

In a large pot over medium heat, warm 1 tbs. oil. Add sliced onion, garlic, cilantro and saute just until golden brown, about 10 minutes. In a blender, combine sauteed mixture and tomatoes and blend until smooth. In the same pot, over medium high heat, warm another tbs. oil. Add tomato mixture and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and darkened, 5-6 minutes. Add chicken stock, cover partially and simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Add shredded chicken. While soup is simmering, heat 1 tbs. oil in frying pan over medium high heat. Drop tortilla strips and fry until crisp and brown. Set aside. Between four bowls, evely divide tortilla strips, sprinkle some grated cheese and ladle soup into bowls. Top with avocado and a squeeze of lime and more cheese if desired.

Sheree's Chocolate Lava Cakes

If you want something super chocolaty, takes 20 minutes, very few ingredients and you don't want a whole bunch of leftovers, this is the recipe for you! It is SOOOOOOOOOOO TDF! Personal chocolate cakes that are oozy and gooey in the, love, love. I love that in a 20 minutes you can have such an amazing treat, plus making this dessert makes you feel like a chef or something...
The name of this recipe, was named after my mother-in-law Sheree. Last year when we were in Utah, I made a special dinner and dessert for her. She is a chocoholic and loved the Chocolate Melting Cake on a cruise we took a couple of years ago. So, I did some research and made some adjustments, and came up with this recipe.
You can use what ever chocolate you want to, just make sure you use 2/3 c. all together.

Sheree's Chocolate Lava Cakes

1/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 c. bitter-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. butter
1 c. powdered sugar
2 whole eggs
2 whole yolks
6 tbsp. flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 4 ramekins with cooking spray, place them on a cooking sheet. In a small bowl, melt butter in microwave until melted. Place chocolate chips into melted butter, and let sit, until chocolate is melted. Wisk eggs, and egg yolks in a medium bowl. Add the powdered sugar and wisk until well blended. When chocolate has melted in the butter, wisk them together until smooth, then add to the egg and sugar mixture until well blended. Add flour and wisk just until blended. Divide mixture between ramekins, and bake for 13-14 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE! Let rest for 10-15 minutes before inverting onto the plate. Garnish with fruit/whipped topping/ice cream.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Steak, Chicken or Pork in a Zesty Tomatillo Sauce

I'm a HUGE fan of Mexican food. It is fast, cheap, and if prepared well, healthy. I'm always on a search for good ingredients to incorporate into the star of the show, which is the meat. My mother-in-law Sheree, makes a recipe called Green Chili Pork, which is VERY good. It does take alot of work, and so I was trying to find a way to make it a little less work intensive. This recipe has some similarities to green chili pork, but I use way less chilies in my recipe.
I love the tanginess of tomatillo's, and I have only started using them in the last year. They are located in the vegetable section in any supermarket. This recipe is great, because you can use any meat, especially cheap cuts of meats that are nice and tough, to make a variety of meals. I made up a batch of this, using London Broil (1.99/pound), and froze what I didn't use for dinner. I think I will get about 3-4 meals out of cooking this up. Use the meat/sauce for tacos, burritos, tostadas, salads, nachos, enchiladas, and whatever else!

Steak, Chicken or Pork in a Zesty Tomatillo Sauce

3-5 pounds of meat, cubed, seasoned with salt and pepper
7-8 tomatillos, husks removed
6 cloves of garlic, left whole
2 jalapeno pepper, seed, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, add garlic, onion, and pepper, along with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Cook on medium heat, until vegetables are soft. remove husks from tomatillos, and place whole tomatillos in a medium sized pot, add water until tomatillos are covered. Bring water to boil, and cok tomatillos until they turn a yellowish-green color, or until they are soft. Blend tomatillos, and onion mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Preheat large pot that you cooked the onions in on high heat. Add 1 tbsp. oil, let pan get really hot, and then add the cubed meat. Stir occasionally while the meat browns. Add tomatillo mixture, and stir, getting all the brown bits up. Turn off heat.
If you are cooking this in an oven safe pot, cover pot, and put into a 325 degree oven, and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If you want to cook this in a crock pot the rest of way, transfer to the crock-pot, and cook for 3-5 hours on high.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mediterranean Pizza

This pizza is TDF. Every time I make it, I say to myself, "This is like something you would get at a restaurant." It may sound like ingredients that you don't have on hand. But, I have actually created this recipe, so that you can have it several times a month, and have all the ingredients ready for use.
I buy a big block of Mozzarella cheese at Costco, and divide it into thirds, and freeze them, until they are ready for use. I buy a big container of pesto sauce at Costco, and divide it into 1/4 c. servings in individual sandwich zip-lock bags, and freeze them. (Note: doing this with the pesto allows you too pull out of the freezer a gourmet flavoring for pesto mayo, pesto and pasta, grilled pesto chicken, pesto pizza...etc.). I buy canned artichoke hearts, drain them, use what I need and freeze the rest. When chicken is on sale, I buy a whole bunch, throw it into a marinade, and grill it up on the BBQ. I freeze the grilled chicken breast, so that it is ready to go for a variety of meals. Those are just some of the money saving tips, and tips to having an amazing meal on the table without having to go to the grocery store all the time.
As far as pizza crust goes, if you do not want to go the homemade route, buy the pizza crust in the can. It works just great! I have tried many homemade pizza crusts, and by far, I like the Kitchen-aide Pizza Crust because of it's simplicity, taste and texture.
If you do cook this recipe up, leave a comment and let me know how it went, I would love to know!

Mediterranean Pizza

For the Pizza Crust:

1 pkg. yeast
1 c. warm water (120 degrees)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
2 1/2 - 3 1/2 c. flour

In kitchenaide bowl, dissolve yeats in warm water. Add salt, olive oil, and 2 cups of flour. Turn to speed 2 and mix 1 minute, or until combined. Add remaining flour until it forms a nice ball. Then knead for 2 minutes on speed 2. Remove dough from dough hook and cover bowl with a towel, and let dough rise for 1 hour in a draft free environment. (like your oven)

For the Pizza:

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tbs. olive oil
2 grilled chicken breast, sliced into bite-sized peices
1/4 c. pesto sauce
3-4 artichoke hearts, chopped
2 c. mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 onion, sliced thinly

In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sliced tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Let this mixture marinate at least 30 minutes. (you can make this in advance, and let it sit on the counter for hours if you prefer) When crust has risen for an hour, preheat oven to 550 degrees or as high as your oven can go. Spray the pan that you are using to cook the pizza on with cooking spray, and sprinkle with cornmeal (optional). Spread crust to the edges of the pan (I use a large jelly roll pan). Spread pesto over crust, then cheese, then chicken, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and lastly the onion. Pop into the oven until crust is golden, and cheese has melted. FABULOUS!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Rolls

I'm officially giving these the TDF factor...they are simply to die for! I got this recipe off another food blog, and tried it out. I modified it a little, to fit the ingredients that I had, and surprisingly I couldn't imagine that there is anything missing. The original recipe called for a cup of softened butter spread on the dough before topping it w/ the cinnamon and sugar, and I used 1/2 c. butter, and it was buttery enough!
The vanilla pudding is actually prepared,and then added to the dough! The results of this recipe was an incredibly moist, flavorful, fluffy, large cinnamon roll. Honestly, this recipe was better than anything I have had at a bakery. Try will LOVE it...pure decadence!

Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Rolls

½ cup warm water (115-120 degrees)
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ ounce package instant vanilla pudding
½ cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
6+ cups flour

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk

In a small measuring cup combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Set aside. In large bowl (kitchen aid mixing bowl), take pudding mix and prepare according to package directions. Add butter, eggs and salt. Mix well with paddle attachment. Then add yeast mixture. Blend. Add 3 cups of flour. Remove paddle attachment, and attach dough hook. Add remaining flour slowly as needed, knead for 8-10 minutes on low. Do not overflour the dough! It should be very soft but not sticky. Place towel over the bowl, and let rise until doubled (I turned my oven to the lowest temp, and then shut it off, and put the bowl into the oven to rise, so that it would be nice and warm, and draft free).
Then roll out on floured board to 34 X 21 inches in size. Use as much flour as you need to help you roll the dough out. Take 1/2 cup soft butter and spread over surface. In bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups brown sugar and 3 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top. Roll up very tightly. With knife put a notch every 1 1/2 inches. Cut with thread or serrated knife. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Cover and let rise until double again. (Do the same oven/warm place as described above).
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove when they start to turn golden (don’t overbake). Frost warm rolls with cream cheese frosting (combine butter and cream cheese and mix well, then add vanilla and sugar and mix again, then add milk for desired consistency). Makes about 24 very large rolls.