Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sloppy Janes

I turned to Sloppy Joes tonight, but I used ground turkey instead of ground sirloin and so called them Sloppy Janes. I thought this was one of the best Sloppy Joe recipes I have come across even though I used ground turkey. The taste and texture came out perfect. I served these on my homemade hamburger buns, which I had in the freezer and a Massaged Kale Salad with fresh diced mango, which rounded out our meal beautifully.

Sloppy Janes (serves 6)
Adapted from

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 package ground turkey
1 tablespoon steak seasoning
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 carrot, minced
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, minced
4 ounces mushrooms, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups tomato sauce

Place all the minced vegetables in a food processor and pulse to chop very finely. Set aside.

Brown the ground turkey in the olive oil over medium high heat. Break up the meat as it cooks until it is well crumbled. Season with steak seasoning and cook until it well browned. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the finely chopped vegetables from the food processor and reduce the heat to medium. Add the red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Cover and reduce heat to simmer and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve approximately 1/2 cup of meat on a toasted bun.

Our rating:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Scampi on Couscous

I fell back on a favorite for dinner tonight with this recipe from Giada. The couscous is cooked in a tomato enriched broth flavored with onions, carrots and garlic. The shrimp get a quick saute in garlic flavored olive oil with some crushed red pepper and sprinkled with fresh lemon juice at the end. The scampi go over the couscous and make a scrumptious combination.

Scampi on Couscous (serves 6)
Adapted from Everyday Italian

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed, plus 2 garlic cloves minced
2 (8 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes in their juice
1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
2 cups plain couscous
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. When almost smoking, add onion, carrot and 1 clove smashed garlic and saute until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and their juice, clam juice and white wine. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Carefully pour tomato mixture in blender in batches and puree until smooth. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if needed - you want to end up with a broth Check for seasoning.

Return broth to the pot. Add 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add 2 cups couscous. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let rest for 10 minutes allowing the couscous to absorb all the liquid. Fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, add the remaining 1/4 cup oil and the 2 cloves of minced garlic. Heat the oil, making sure not to burn the garlic. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and stirring occasionally, cook the shrimp until they start to turn pink, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp or they will become tough. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, red pepper and chopped parsley. Check for seasoning.

To serve, mound the couscous in the center of a platter and top with the shrimp.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto

There was a butternut squash in my CSA basket and I had seen many recipes for Butternut Squash Risotto all over the Internet. I have been doing a lot of cooking lately from a website called She indicates the Weight Watcher's point for each recipe and so I feel like most of these recipes can't be half bad for you.

Tonight's risotto was absolutely spectacular! I started by cooking some of the butternut squash and pureeing it to get a cup of squash puree. I then added the puree to vegetable stock and warmed the broth through for the risotto. The risotto itself was pretty much the standard with arborio rice cooked with diced shallots and garlic and chopped fresh sage, deglazed with white wine before having ladles of the warm broth added. It was finsihed with 1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese. I did garnish the bowls with a little bit of cooked butternut squash and a sage leaf with a little more freshly grated cheese. YUM!

Butternut Squash Risotto (Serves 3 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish)
Adapted from

1 cup butternut squash puree
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 shallots, minced
5 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmigaino-Reggiano cheese
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Take 2 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash, put in a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until squash is tender (approximately 20-30 minutes). Puree tender squash cubes in blender with a little bit of the cooking water to get a smooth puree.

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute until golden, add risotto and sage and stir well to coat each grain with the oil. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed. Add salt and pepper and the stock a ladleful at a time, until it is absorbed before adding another ladleful stirring gently and almost constantly. Stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. The trick to a great risotto is to keep stirring each ladleful of stock until you can scrape the bottom of the pan with either a wooden spoon or a spatula and it leaves a completely dry streak. That is when you know you are ready for the next ladleful. Continue adding ladlefuls of stock and stirring until all the stock is used, about 30 minutes from the time you started. When all the liquid is absorbed, stir in the grated cheese and remove from heat. Serve immediately.

Our rating:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Herb-Crusted Roast Beef

After all the turkey we ate the past few days, I was actually craving roast beef. I chose a boneless beef eye round roast which was rubbed with a mixture of sour cream and horseradish seasoned with salt and pepper. Then a mixture of whole wheat bread crumbs mixed with herbs de Provence, garlic, and some olive oil were pressed on to the sour cream mixture before being roasted in the oven.

I seared the roast on all sides before being covered with the sour cream mixture and coated with the bread crumbs and then it went in a 400 degree oven to roast for about an hour. I also roasted an assortment of vegetables to go with the roast beef which all turned out wonderfully.

Herb-Crusted Roast Beef (serves 8)
Adapted from Skinny

3 lbs beef eye round roast, all fat trimmed off
3 tbsp fat free sour cream
4 1/2 tsp prepared horseradish
kosher salt and fresh pepper
2/3 cup whole wheat seasoned bread crumbs
1 tbsp herbs de Provence (rosemary, thyme, marjoram and savory)
1 large clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°. In a small bowl combine sour cream, salt, pepper and horseradish. In another bowl combine breadcrumbs, herbs, garlic and oil.

Season meat with salt and pepper. Sear roast in a large skillet on high heat for about 10 minutes total on all sides. Place in roasting pan and cover with sour cream and breadcrumbs on top of roast. Place in the oven and cook until thermometer reads 140°, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

French Fries

After working out first thing this morning, I picked up my CSA bin which had all kinds of wonderful produce in it. I washed it all and put it all on a towel to dry while I got ready to go out with all my girls for lunch and then bridesmaid dress shopping.

We met at Elizabeth's apartment before going out for lunch and then to a special bridal shop in Lewisville which carried dresses by a certain designer that Elizabeth loved. The bridesmaids will be her two sisters and her two best friends from elementary through high school. Each of the women will wear the same color dresses, but in a style most flattering for them. It was a very fun and special afternoon.

Val and I split the produce from the CSA bin when we got back here and I then proceeded to make dinner which consisted of hot turkey sandwiches with some of the leftover turkey meat and hot turkey gravy over toasted bread. Our side dish was homemade French Fries made from a couple of the potatoes from the produce bin. This is the last meal we will have from the turkey for now, but I did freeze 2 packages of leftover meat that I will use for turkey pot pie in the future. I also froze two packets of homemade turkey stock which I will also use for the pot pies.

Homemade French Fries

2 large Russet potatoes, peeled
3 cups vegetable oil
Kosher salt

Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut each slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick fries. Put the fries in a large bowl of cold water and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed medium stockpot over medium heat, or in a tabletop deep fryer, to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.

Drain the fries well and pat dry in batches with paper towels. Fry each batch, turning frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the fries are a pale blond color and limp. Remove with a mesh skimmer to the baking sheet lined with paper towels.

Increase the heat of the oil to 375 degrees.

Fry the potatoes again, in batches, turning frequently, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with the skimmer and drain on clean paper towels. Season immediately with salt and serve hot.

Pumpkin Pie

On Friday, Gerry and I enjoyed a day of relaxation, after working out first thing in the morning of course. The fact that we work out every day is what allows us to eat all the wonderful food we consume. It's all a matter of checks and balances.

We did some errands, some housekeeping details and simply had leftovers for dinner. We put a little of everything on our plates and reheated everything in the microwave with the exception of the pumpkin pie.

This recipe has been a family favorite since we lived in Pennsylvania which means I have been making this particular recipe for at least 18 years.

Pumpkin Pie

3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups milk, scalded
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Combine eggs, sugar, salt and spices. Gradually stir in milk and cream. Add pumpkin. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 30-35 minutes until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Our rating:

Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving is a day of following traditions for the big meal of the day. My family does not like to change any of the foods they have grown up with on this particular day. I can totally change up other holidays, but not this one.

We always have an oven roasted turkey, stuffing, (sometimes a regular bread stuffing in addition to a cornbread stuffing depending on who is at the table), homemade gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, green beans and a sweet potato casserole. One of our standard desserts is pumpkin pie and I usually try to add something a little different to the dessert offerings. This year I added pumpkin ice cream and Val made a Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart.

The sweet potato casserole is exactly what you imagine with mashed sweet potatoes, butter, brown sugar, maple syrup and just in case it isn't sweet enough, it gets topped with mini marshmallows. The guys all find this a little too sweet, but all the women love this addition on their Thanksgiving plate. This has been a standard on our table for the last 15 years.

Sweet Potato Casserole

5 sweet potatoes
1 stick butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
miniature marshmallows

Cut sweet potatoes in half. Boil until tender. Drain and peel potatoes, place in bowl. Mash potatoes with butter, brown sugar, syrup and salt. Put in casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Add marshmallows, bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Our rating:

Baked Potato Soup

I decided to keep dinner simple for Wednesday night since I knew the day would be busy. We started by making Buttermilk Pancakes for breakfast with Emma (our routine is either we make pancakes or we go to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast). Dunkin Donuts for breakfast is a tradition that started with my mother-in-law taking the girls out for breakfast whenever she had them and so we now find ourselves continuing the tradition with our grandchildren. It's funny how that works.

Stephanie and David had come in from Austin late the night before so they also got to enjoy pancakes. Gerry and David played golf while all us girls got together for a quick shopping trip and lunch out. We all enjoyed our various choices and Emma and Ethan got to have pizza which worked out great.

For dinner, we had a Baked Potato Soup which I thought was really good and as a bonus came in at a little over 200 calories per serving. We also had some homemade dinner rolls; both white and wheat.

Baked Potato Soup (serves 5)
Adapted from

2 russet potatoes, washed and dried
1 small head cauliflower, stem removed and cut into florets
1 1/2 cups low-fat chicken broth
1 1/2 cups 1% reduced-fat milk
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup light sour cream
10 tablespoons reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons chopped chives, divided
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (you can use turkey bacon)

Pierce potatoes with a fork and bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Peel potatoes.

Meanwhile, steam cauliflower with water in a large covered pot until tender. Drain and return to pot. On medium, add chicken broth, milk, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Use an immersion blender or puree in batches in blender, until smooth. Add sour cream, cheese,half the chives, salt and pepper and cook on low another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. Ladle 1 cup soup into each bowl. Top each serving with the remaining chives, and bacon crumbles.

My rating:

Tuesday's Chicken Wings

I watched both grandchildren in the afternoon and we had already decided that Emma could spend the night. Once Val picked up Ethan and took him home, we went to the park with Emma since it was a beautiful afternoon. I had accomplished a lot during the day with cleaning, laundry and advance food prep for Thanksgiving, so we decided to go out to eat. When we asked Emma where she wanted to go, her response without hesitation was Buffalo's. She loves the macaroni and cheese at Buffalo Wild Wings and Gerry and I happen to love their wings which made it a perfect place for dinner.

I did a lot of my Thanksgiving prep before Val dropped the kids off. I made a batch of my Big Batch Quick Dinner Rolls and popped them in the freezer just before I would have baked them. Then all I had to do on Thanksgiving day was pop them in the oven right from the freezer.

I made my cornbread muffins so they could cool down and actually turn a little stale before making my stuffing. I made my pumpkin pie which I think you can make up to two days ahead with no real loss of flavor.

I made my turkey stock by roasting a couple of turkey wings in the oven until they were golden brown and adding them to a stockpot along with some vegetables that had been browned in the stockpot. The entire mixture got covered with water, seasoned and allowed to simmer for a couple of hours to make a very nice turkey stock which I then used for my stuffing and gravy.

I made my cranberry sauce which is fresh cranberries with sugar, grated orange zest and a cinnamon stick which was good, but I think this is better made the morning of Thanksgiving.

I ended my prep work by having Emma help me make pumpkin ice cream which she thought was boring after 3 or 4 minutes of watching the ice cream maker do its magic. It did take a total of almost 20 minutes and I must say she did enjoy seeing the end result and licking the components of the ice cream maker clean. I wonder if she'll have more patience next time knowing that there is a reward at the end...we'll have to wait and see.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stuffed Acorn Squash

For Meatless Monday, I decided on Stuffed Acorn Squash. I had an acorn squash in my CSA basket and set it aside for this recipe. I cut the squash in half, scraped out the seeds and roasted the squash halves in a 350 degree oven for almost an hour until tender.
While the squash were roasting, I prepared the filling by sauteing some diced onion and garlic, adding a little water, tomato paste, salt and pepper and chopped kale. I cooked everything covered until tender and then added some canned white beans and chopped Kalamata olives. The filling was spooned into the roasted squash halves and topped with a mixture of Panko breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

The stuffed and bread crumbed squash halves went under the broiler for a couple of minutes to warm everything through and brown the breadcrumbs and cheese.

I made some dinner rolls to go with this since I wanted to test this recipe before Thanksgiving and these rolls worked out great. One batch of dough makes 24 rolls and you can freeze them just before baking to make it easy to be able to bake fresh dinner rolls as needed. I went ahead and baked all 24 rolls so I could test out the recipe. I will freeze them tonight and then pop them back in the oven on Thanksgiving day. However, now I know that I can make the dough ahead, freeze and just bake them at the last minute for nice fresh dinner rolls. What I really like about this recipe is that it makes 24 rolls and they are good size rolls. It is the perfect family, holiday recipe for rolls.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Kale and White Beans (serves 2)
Adapted from (originally from Eating Well)

1 medium acorn squash
1/2 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon water
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups chopped kale
1/2 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

To make it easier to cut a pumpkin, acorn, squash or other winter squash: pierce in several places with a fork; microwave on High for 45 to 60 seconds. Use a large sharp knife to cut in half. Remove the seeds and stringy fibers with a spoon.

Cut a small slice off the bottom of each squash half so it rests flat. Brush the insides with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place in a 9-by-13-inch (or similar-size) microwave-safe dish or baking pan. You can either cook the squash halves until tender in the microwave or roasted in a 350 degree oven. If using the microwave, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on High until the squash is fork-tender, about 12 minutes.

If using the oven, place the squash halves in a casserole dish or baking pan just large enough to hold them cut side up, add 1/4 cup water and roast in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in water, tomato paste and the remaining 1/8 teaspoons each salt and pepper. Stir in kale, cover and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in white beans and olives; cook until heated through 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat broiler.

Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a bowl. Fill each squash half with about 1 cup of the kale mixture. Place in a baking pan or on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Broil in the center of the oven until the breadcrumbs are browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

My rating:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Shallots

I'm glad I decided on these pork chops for dinner tonight since the weather did a quick change today from warm and balmy this morning to a drop of about 20 degrees with rain now. It would not have been a good afternoon for grilling. I also waited until the Cowboys football game was over (go Cowboys!) before going to the grocery store.

These pork chops got a thorough saute in a skillet before coming out and being kept warm while the sauce was pulled together. In the residual butter left from sauteing the pork chops, some shallots were browned and then deglazed with chicken stock. At this point some Dijon mustard and baby bella mushrooms were added, along with some chopped fresh parsley and allowed to cook through. I seasoned the sauce with salt and pepper and finished off the sauce by whisking in 2 teaspoons of butter to smooth everything out.

Our side dishes were mashed potatoes and steamed carrots.

I also made a Pumpkin Pecan Clafouti for dessert which I will try to blog about another day.

Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Shallots (Serves 4)
Adapted from

1 teaspoon butter
4 pork loin chops, 1 inch thick, trim all visible fat
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 cup chicken stock
10 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons butter

In a large frying pan, heat the butter over moderately low heat. Season pork with salt and pepper Raise heat to medium and add the chops to the pan and saute for 10 minutes. Turn and cook until chops are browned and done to medium, about 10 minutes longer. Remove the chops, cover with foil and put in a warm spot.

Add shallots to the pan and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the stock to deglaze the pan, stir in the mustard, 1 tablespoon parsley, then add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook about 3 minutes, or until mushrooms are done. Reduce heat to low and whisk in 2 teaspoons butter to enrich the sauce.

Put the chops on a platter and pour the mushroom sauce over the meat, top with remaining parsley.

Note: Food and Wine says it is okay if the pork chops are pink in the center, Trichinosis is killed at the relatively low temperature of 150 degrees. Use a thermometer to check the center and leave it until it hits 160 degrees. Don't overcook or they will become dry.

Our rating:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Seared Ahi Tuna

I put Gerry in charge of dinner tonight since I attended a play this afternoon. I went to see "To Kill a Mockingbird" which happens to be one of my all time favorite books. The part of Jem (Scout's brother) was played by a student in our neighborhood so it made it extra special to watch his performance.

Gerry settled on Seared Ahi Tuna since we have not had fish recently and he found some really fresh tuna steaks this afternoon. He marinated the steaks in a mixture of dark sesame oil, soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, scallion and lime juice.

After marinating he quickly seared them in a non-stick skillet 2 minutes per side which was the perfect amount of time to leave it nice and pink in the center, but still warm all the way through.

His side dishes were oven roasted red potatoes, cauliflower and carrots. Everything was perfectly cooked so he did a great job!

Sear Ahi Tuna
Adapted from Simply Recipes

2 (6-8 ounce) ahi tuna steaks (3/4" thick)
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced (a few slices reserved for garnish)
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Mix the marinade ingredients together and coat the tuna steaks with the marinade, cover tightly, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high to high heat. When the pan is hot, remove the tuna steaks from the marinade and sear them for two minutes per side.

Remove from pan and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices. Sprinkle with a few green onion slices.

Our rating:

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I decided on Broccoli Cheddar Soup to use up the last of the broccoli that was in my CSA bin and since I was meeting friends for Happy Hour this was the perfect meal. I made it in the afternoon so we could just take what we wanted and reheat it when we wanted.

I have really been enjoying soups lately since the weather has cooled down a bit. This soup was rich and hearty and creamy which made it absolutely delicious!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
Adapted from

1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half and half
2 cups chicken stock
2 large stalks fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
8 ounces grated sharp Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Saute onion in 1 tablespoon butter. Set aside.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter and add flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stirring constantly, gradually add the half and half. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

Puree in blender in batches until smooth (or use an immersion blender). Return to heat and add cheese.

Serve with a crusty bread and a big spoon.

My rating:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shrimp Pizza

I decided pizza sounded good for tonight since we haven't had pizza since Zeb's birthday celebration. I started by making my favorite pizza crust. It is a crust that I enjoy more than most pizza parlors. I still love working with yeast doughs. It is amazing to me what you can do with water, bread flour, instant yeast, salt and olive oil. It takes about 3 hours from the beginning to a rolled out pizza crust. It is crusty on the outside and very tender on the inside.

I started the topping part of dinner by roasting a red bell pepper and peeling and chopping it. Once I had the crust rolled out, I brushed it with a little olive oil and spread a little marinara sauce on it. I then sauteed some shrimp that were drizzled with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with some Creole seasoning. Once cooked, they were set on a plate to cool.

While the shrimp were cooling, I sprinkled the pizza crust with some Pecorino Romano and mozzarella cheese. I proceeded to top it with the roasted, chopped red pepper, chopped red onion and sliced scallions. The cooled, sauteed shrimp went on last along with a little more Creole seasoning sprinkled over the top.

The entire pizza went into the oven on the hot pizza stone for 12 minutes and came out perfectly.

Perfect Pizza Dough
Adapted from Annie's Eats

For the Pizza Dough:

½ cup warm water (about 110°)

1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast

1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting

1 ½ tsp. salt

olive oil for greasing the bowl

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and allow it to dissolve and swell (about 5 minutes). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend. Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil. Mix until a cohesive dough is formed. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on low seed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2-2 hours.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

To bake, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal. Top as desired.

If you don't plan on using our dough immediately, freeze it. To do this, mix up the dough as usual and let it rise as normal. After dividing the dough into two equal portions, wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and store inside a freezer-safe bag, and transfer to the freezer immediately. (Reuse these bags to avoid being wasteful!) The double layer is important here. Even after the dough is moved to the freezer, it will continue to rise a bit before the rise is completely suspended. It always pops through the plastic wrap so the extra layer of protection is needed to prevent exposure.

Freeze the dough until it is ready to be used. The day you plan to use the dough, transfer it to the refrigerator in the morning to thaw in time for dinner that evening. (If using the dough for lunch, transfer to the refrigerator the night before.) The dough that has been frozen tastes every bit as good as fresh, so it is incredibly convenient to have available for a quick, throw-together meal.

If you are planning on using the dough the very next day, the refrigerator is not cold enough to stop the rise quickly and the result is an over-risen, crazy puffy monster dough. Use the freezer initially to completely stop the rise, and then transfer the dough to the refrigerator until it is ready to be used.

Our rating for pizza dough:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday's Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce

I usually order one of two things when we go out for Mexican (and living in the Dallas area, there is no shortage of Tex-Mex restaurants). I either get fish tacos or chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce. The last time I ordered these out, I decided I needed to have a version I could make at home.

I started by poaching a whole chicken in a stock pot with an onion, a couple of garlic cloves, some whole cumin seeds, salt and water to cover. I simmered the chicken for a couple of hours until it was completely tender. I used the cooked chicken which I shredded to fill the enchiladas and I also used the stock as one of the components of the sauce.

While the chicken was poaching, I made and cooked the tortillas and set them aside.

I started the sauce by melting butter, and whisking in flour and cooking briefly. I added milk gradually and added some of the chicken stock. I stirred the mixture constantly until it came to a boil. I then added some chopped green chilies and reduced the heat to low while I shredded the cooled chicken. I also minced an onion and grated 1/2 pound of Monterrey Jack cheese.

I whisked some sour cream in a bowl and added 1/2 cup of the hot white sauce to the cream and continued to whisk to slightly warm the sour cream. The warmed sour cream mixture was stirred back into the hot sauce to finish it.

I used some of the sauce to coat the bottom of a large casserole dish. Each tortilla got a few tablespoons of the shredded chicken along with some minced onion before being rolled up and placed in the casserole dish. After all the tortillas were filled, they were covered with the remaining sauce and baked for 25 minutes. The shredded cheese then went over the top and baked for another 5 minutes until the cheese had completely melted.

They were very good but I thought they were a little heavy; I will try to lighten this recipe up quite a bit before making them again.

I started our meal with Guacamole with tortilla chips which was an awesome way to start our meal.

Chicken Enchiladas in Sour Cream Sauce (makes 18 enchiladas)
Adapted from Homestead Cooking

For the chicken:
One 3 1/2 pound chicken
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon salt
water to cover chicken

Prepare the chicken early in the day so it has plenty of time to cool.

Rinse chicken in cold water and place in a large soup pot with onion, garlic, cumin seeds, salt, and about 3 quarts water. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer about 2 hours. Remove foam as it rises.

While chicken cooks, prepare 1 recipe of Flour Tortillas. Cover until ready to use.

When chicken is cooked, remove from broth. Reserve broth for the sauce.

Flour Tortillas (makes 18)
3 cups pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups very hot water
pastry flour for rolling out

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl. Mix the oil and water together. Add to flour and stir.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth (about 2 minutes). Divide the dough into 18 pieces and shape into balls. Place on floured work area. Cover with a muslin towel and let rest 15 minutes.

Heavily flour a work surface with pastry flour. Dredge a piece of dough in flour and flatten slightly with your palm into a circle and dredge in flour again. Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough out into a 6" circle. Repeat with all the remaining pieces of dough.

Heat a cast-iron frying pan over medium-high heat and cook one tortilla at a time until it bubbles. Turn and cook the other side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm until all are cooked. Wipe pan with a clean, damp cloth after you cook each tortilla. Continue until all 18 are cooked.

For the Chicken Enchilada Sauce:

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
4 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
4 canned or frozen green chilies
2 cups Sour Cream

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir. Mixture will be thick. Add enough milk to form a paste. Stir well and add rest of milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumping. Add chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Chop green chilies and add. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook while you shred the chicken.

1 medium onion
1/2 pound Monterrey Jack cheese, grated

Shred chicken and set aside. Mince onion and grate cheese; set aside.

Place Sour Cream in a medium bowl; whisk until smooth. Add 1/2 cup white sauce and whisk until Sour Cream is liquid. Stir back into sauce and cover.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 4 ladles of sauce into a 10" x 14" baking dish. Tip dish to coat with sauce. Spread center of tortilla with 3 tablespoons shredded chicken and 2 teaspoons minced onion. Roll and place tightly side by side, seam-side down, in baking dish.

Pour sauce over all and bake for 25 minutes or until bubbling. Sprinkle cheese over top and continue baking until cheese has melted. Serve immediately.

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