Monday, December 31, 2012

Soft, Chewy Pizza Crust

Now, I have a recipe on here already for pizza crust, and it's one that you can use on the fly without having to let it rise.  This recipe however is by far the better choice if you have the time!  It comes out nice and crispy on the bottom and super soft on the inside!  And what's even better is you can play with it and add extras depending on what kind of pizza you're making!  Give it a shot!

Pizza Crust
(Spicy BBQ Chicken Pizza!)

*makes one 12 inch crust

1/2 C. and 2 Tbsp. Warm Water (very important that it's warm)
1 1/8 tsp. Yeast
1/2 tsp. Honey
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 1/2 C. Flour

1. If you are like me and have a bread maker, this is the easiest thing in the world to make.  Start with your liquids in the pan.  Water, oil, and the honey.  Then add the flour, salt, and any fun seasonings you'd like to add. (i.e. chili powder and garlic powder for a mexican style pizza, oregano and parmesan for a chicken alfredo pizza, parsley for a tomato basil pizza, etc)  I generally do a full tsp of any/each.
2. Turn the machine on and use the dough setting and in 90 minutes it's dough!
3. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
4. Then you can take out the dough, use a little flour (I like to use cornmeal with pizza dough) and stretch it to the size of your pan.  I recommend lining the pan with parchment paper for an easy clean up!
*A great tip I came across as well: If you don't have a pizza stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and use parchment paper.  Turns out crispy and awesome*
5. Sauce it, top it, and throw it in the oven for 12-15 mins depending on the oven.
6. Enjoy!

When you're not using a bread maker:
1. Stir honey, yeast and warm water together in a large bowl.  Let this sit for 5-10 mins to activate the yeast.
2. When it starts to bubble, stir in the salt, oil, and half the flour and mix well.
3. Slowly add the other half of the flour mixing it well.  The dough should be tacky, but not sticky to your hands.
4. Kneed the dough for about 10 mins (or use the dough hook on a stand mixer for 6 mins)
5. Pull the dough out and put it in another bowl that is lightly greased. Move it around a bit to cover it so it doesn't dry out.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for an hour or two.
6. Move on back up to step 4 in the original directions!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Remembering the Important Times

I was flipping through my old blog that I don't keep up with anymore and came across a post that marked close to the beginning of my culinary adventures.  This day was weirdly important and made me realize how much I love my kitchen and how much I love to cook.  If anyone needs a reason to keep a blog/journal/diary, this would be it.  A nice reminder of what happened to cause the HUGE turning point in your life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I went to cook dinner last night and discovered that my kitchen was being flooded..... sigh.   After trying to make phone calls, putting on flip flops and looking for someone to help, I was blown off by a new office employee because the office was closed.... Who in their right mind says, sorry, I hear you saying your apt is being flooded, but if I help you, I'd have to help everyone else in these situations.  WHO does that?!  After hours of water gushing up the sinks, and a VERY new on call repair guy unclogging the building and wet-vac'in my kitchen, everything seems to be doing well.  I did a lot of praying to get rid of my anger and frustration at the situation and ended up cooking a full blown meal right after the repair dude left.  (I'm still a tad upset at the whole situation) But not near as angry and panicky as I was when it was happening.

After a VERY long day at work today, I ended up cooking some awesome wraps to take to work (since I need to lay off the fast food) ((they took away our awesome discount at work, so eating at subway is almost as expensive for me as it is for normal people)).  I also fired up the crock pot with a roast that I (unfortunately) have to shred at 530 tomorrow morning, but I thank God every day for my love of cooking.  Rain or shine, it's just what I do.  (I might be too tired to have dinner tonight though.  I spent over 2 hours prepping the other two things.)  Frozen food for the win.


I don't usually  promote stuff like this, but even though it's irrelevant, it's an important reminder of the little things that change our lives.  At this point in my life, I'm looking at attending Culinary School after I get my bachelor's degree.  :)  Follow your dreams and never forget the past.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Best Beer Batter for Everything!

I first made this for onion rings and decided to try it out on chicken and it turned out amaaaaaaaaaaaaazing.  It's not very heavy and it doesn't feel real thick as you're eating it.  Try it out on your favorite veggies or meats!

Beer Batter

*Makes a lot :) 3-4 whole onions, or 2-3 cut up chicken breasts, just get crazy and fry everything!

3 C. Flour
2 Eggs (separated)
2 cans/bottles Beer (any type, I tend to use ambers)
4 Tbsp. Butter
1-2 tsp. Salt

1. Sift flour into a bowl. Set aside 1 cup in a smaller bowl.
2. In another bowl, whisk egg whites.  Add beer, butter, and salt.  (VERY IMPORTANT: you may not need all the beer.  It should be a pancake batter consistency so play it by ear.)  Add this to the 2 cups of flour.
3. Let this sit for 45-60 mins. **add the egg whites after it sits, and mix well**
4. Heat your oil in a pan or a deep fryer if you have one.
5. Coat your chicken/veggies in flour and then dip in the batter.
6. Fry a few at a time until they are golden brown.  Take them out and put on a cookie sheet or on paper towels as you cook more.

Chicken Piccata

I stumbled across a dish that has so vastly changed from the original Italian recipe as it's been passed around the states.  The original is a breaded chicken that's split open and fried and usually served before pasta or rice.  This recipe has taken on an American feel to it because of our love of pasta!  Here goes!

Chicken Piccata

*Serves 2-3

Allergen Tips:

Rice flour noodles are a great g-free option for any pasta dish!

Marinade for Chicken
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice (preferably fresh)
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Garlic (minced)
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/2 tsp. Basil

2 Tbsp. Butter
4 Tbsp. Lemon Juice (preferably fresh)
1 Tbsp. Garlic (minced)
1/2 C. Half and Half
2 tsp. Basil
1/2 C. Parmesan Cheese

2 C. Penne Pasta

1. Mix your marinade and pour over the chicken. Marinade for at least 4 hours.
2. Boil the water for your noodles and cook them to your liking.
While the water is boiling, Start cooking your meat, either searing in a pan or grill it.
3. Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat to start the sauce.  Add the garlic and lemon and whisk.  Add the half and half and whisk until it's warm.  Throw in some salt and pepper for taste.  Then add the parmesan cheese and basil.  Whisk until it's melted and sauce-like.  You don't want it stringy.
4. Drain your pasta if you haven't already and toss the pasta in the sauce.
5. Cut up the chicken and throw it on top.  Top with a bit more parmesan and enjoy!

Chipotle Marinade

Who doesn't like a nice smoky, spicy piece of meat?!  I'm tired of buying marinades that aren't worth the price (even though I love the flavors).  So here comes the chipotle marinade that's easy to play with and you can use on any cut of meat!

Chipotle Marinade

** served with Smash-ed Tatoes**
*Makes enough for 2 pieces of meat

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic (chopped)
1 tsp.-1 Tbsp. Honey (depending on if you like a subtle sweet with your spice)
1/4 tsp. Cumin
2-5 Chipotle peppers (from a can in adobo sauce) ((2 is a touch of spicy, 5 is a good kick in the mouth))
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper

1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor or a blender and mix until it's no longer chunky.
2. Here is where you can play with the flavor a bit.  You can add green onions, regular yellow onions, herbs, or other spices.
3. Pour over the meat and marinate.  Cook how you like it.  I love to grill it.

*marinating times*
Chicken- 24 hours
Steak- 12-24 hours
Fish- Who knows... I don't eat the stuff :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Salsa Gratin Potatoes

Potatoes.  One of the cheapest foods in stores.  I buy 10 lbs for less than 2 bucks!  Now what to do with these potatoes becomes the issue.  I decided to try my hand at some fresh au gratin potatoes to accompany my bbq chicken.  But instead of it being just plain ol' au gratin, I put my own twist on it.  As usual, I encourage you to play with it, add ingredients to your liking.

Salsa Gratin Potatoes
*serves 2-3

3 Russet Potatoes (peeled and sliced using a mandoline or cut by hand 1/4 inch thick)
1/4 Onion (diced)
1/3 C. Salsa (I use a liquid or pureed salsa rather than a chunky one)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Butter (not margarine!)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Flour
1 1/4 C. Milk
1 1/2 C. Cheese (shredded, and your favorite kind)
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder

1. Slice your potatoes and soak in water for 15 mins.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Put butter into a pan on med-high heat and melt.  Add the flour and whisk until the lumps are gone.  Slowly add the milk (only 1 cup, save the rest for later).  Make sure you're still whisking to keep the lumps out.  Then turn the burner down to just below med-low.  Dump in the cheese and again keep whisking. (Does your arm hurt yet?  Mine did!)  You want to keep stirring until it turns into a creamy sauce.  If it seems a bit thick, add a tiny bit of milk at a time from the last 1/4 C.
3. Take a 6x9 pan and rub the inside with butter.
4. Pour our the water and dry the potatoes a bit with a kitchen towel.  Make your first layer (10-14 slices).  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic (be generous with the salt).  Then pour a 1/3 of your cheese sauce over the potatoes.  This part doesn't need to be perfect.  Sprinkle half the onions on top of the cheese.  Then drizzle 1/3 of the salsa over the cheese.
5. Repeat a second time.
6. Use the last of your potatoes for the top layer.  Scrape the cheese into the pan covering as much as you can and then the last 1/3 of the salsa.
7. Cover with tinfoil and cook for 90 mins.
6. Uncover for the last 25 mins to get a nice browned surface.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fresh off the Pan Tortillas

Considering how much Spanish/Mexican food I make, I've probably spent a fortune on tortillas in the last few years.  I've had some of the best homemade tortillas during some family gatherings and I decided to make some for myself.  These can be made to suit all kinds of different meals and I encourage you to play with it!

Homemade Flour Tortillas

*Makes 8 six inch (really thin) tortillas

2 C. Flour
3/4 tsp. Salt (this is close to taste. Any less will not be enough, but you might want more than this so keep that in mind if you expect the salt to stand out.)
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tbsp. Oil, lard or Shortening (either work I just find it easier to mix with oil)
3/4 C. HOOOOOOOT Water

1. Sift all dry ingredients together.
2. Add the water and oil. (if you use shortening or lard, add that first and mix well with a fork to distribute it)
3. Mix until it starts to form into dough.  Kneed the dough for 5-10 mins adding flour or a sprinkle of water if needs be.
4. Separate into little balls.  If you want fajita size, you'll get about 8, if you want burrito size, this makes about 4.
5. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit for 10 mins.
6. Put a pan (cast iron, skillet, griddle, or whatever you have that's large enough for the size you're making) on the stove and heat it to medium high.  Spray the pan with non-stick spray for each tortilla!
7. Flour your counter and the rolling pin and roll them out one at a time. You can make them as thick or thin as you'd like.  I go for the store bought thickness so roll it out about as thick as a dime.
8. Cook in the pan for about 30-45 seconds (or until it starts to brown nicely) on one side.  Flip to the other side and cook for another 15-25 seconds.  Put on a plate covered with a towel or if you're fortunate enough to have a tortilla warmer, you can use that!
9. Repeat until they're all made and enjoy!

**To make things interesting, you can use all kinds of seasonings in the dough depending on what you plan to make with them!  You can make sandwich wraps with herbs, or a thicker tortilla similar to naan.  Garlic powder and chili powder are always favorites as well!  Get a little crazy!**