Thursday, February 27, 2014

French Bread Pizza with Italian Sausage, Pesto and Tomatoes

Crispy, crunchy and gooey. THAT is French bread pizza. This is one of the easiest meals to make and there are so many different ways to top it. Simple cheese and pepperoni is great, but I decided to step it up a notch and create one a little more "gourmet".

Basil pesto adds flavor to all kinds to dishes - pasta, roasted veggies, soups...you name it. But using it in place of pizza sauce adds a fresh herb and garlic flavor that creates a wonderful freshness. I topped my pizza with Italian turkey sausage and sweet sundried tomatoes. After we claimed to be full, Josh and I both went back for an extra bite :)

This meal cost me $13.55 and took 20 minutes to make (woo!).


1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Combine pesto ingredients in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.


3. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Cook sausage over medium-high heat until brown, 5-7 minutes. Add crushed red pepper and sundried tomatoes and cook 1 minute longer.


4. Cut French bread loaf in half lengthwise and lay on a baking sheet lined with silpat or coated with cooking spray.


5. Top each bread half with pesto, then the sausage mixture. Finish with cheese.



6. Bake pizza for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.


French Bread Pizza with Italian Sausage, Pesto and Tomatoes
Serves 4

All you need:
Pesto
10 fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil

8 oz. Italian turkey sausage
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 (8 oz.) French bread loaf
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Combine pesto ingredients in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Cook sausage over medium-high heat until brown, 5-7 minutes. Add crushed red pepper and sundried tomatoes and cook 1 minute longer.
4. Cut French bread loaf in half lengthwise and lay on a baking sheet lined with silpat or coated with cooking spray.
5. Top each bread half with pesto, then the sausage mixture. Finish with cheese.
6. Bake pizza for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese

Although strawberries aren't quite in season yet, today I just was craving a big, summery salad loaded with my favorite fruit. As I flipped through this week's grocery ad at work I noticed a picture of pretzel crusted chicken tenders. From there, I decided to come up with a salad that pulls all those flavors together. The result: amazing. The honey mustard dressing, crispy chicken tenders, creamy goat cheese and sweet basil and strawberries make this salad one you will want to make over and over again. And it's super simple!

This recipe took me 35 minutes to make and cost $16.40.


1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites, Dijon mustard and honey. Set aside.


3. Place pretzel braids in a blender or food processor and pulse until crumbly. Transfer to a plate.



4. Line a baking sheet with silpat or coat well with cooking spray. Dip each chicken tender in the mustard mixture, then coat in the pretzel mixture and transfer to the baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.



5. Meanwhile, make your dressing: in a small bowl, combine stone ground Dijon mustard, honey, olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


6. Lay salad greens on each plate and top with strawberries and fresh basil. Top with warm chicken tenders, goat cheese and dressing. Serve.




Pretzel Crusted Chicken Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese
Serves 4

All you need:
Pretzel Crusted Chicken
2 egg whites
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 cups honey wheat pretzel braids
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
1/4 cup stone ground honey Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Salad
6 cups mixed salad greens (I used spinach and baby romaine lettuce)
10 strawberries, hulled and sliced
5 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (or chopped)
3 ounces goat cheese

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites, Dijon mustard and honey. Set aside.
3. Place pretzel braids in a blender or food processor and pulse until crumbly. Transfer to a plate.
4. Line a baking sheet with silpat or coat well with cooking spray. Dip each chicken tender in the mustard mixture, then coat in the pretzel mixture and transfer to the baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, make your dressing: in a small bowl, combine stone ground Dijon mustard, honey, olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
6. Lay salad greens on each plate and top with strawberries and fresh basil. Top with warm chicken tenders, goat cheese and dressing. Serve.



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blood Orange Cake

Blood oranges are at their peak of freshness right now. I love using these gems in sauces, vinaigrettes and desserts because they add a beautiful color and sweetness. Although I'm not a huge baker (as you guys have probably figured out by now), I do enjoy making sweet treats now and then, especially if they involve fruit (or chocolate!).

I have a "Cooking with the Cardiologist" event coming up this week and I decided to test out a cake that is light and really highlights the flavor of the oranges. The almond meal in this cake adds a wonderful toasted nut flavor and the candied blood orange topping brings the whole dish to life and makes the red color "pop". Serve with dollop of light whipped cream if you wish! I'm a simple eater, so I could eat this cake without anything on it and would still find it super satisfying.


1. Place the whole, unpeeled oranges in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove oranges from the water and allow to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 350 and coat a 9-inch pan with cooking spray.

3. Once cooled, cut the oranges into quarters, discarding any seeds. Place all but 6 of the orange quarters into a food processor or blender and pulse until pureed. Measure out 3 cups of the orange puree and set aside.



4. In a small bowl, mix together the almond meal, flour, baking powder and salt. In a another bowl, beat the eggs with 1/2 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.




5. Add the measured orange puree and flour mixture and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until cooked through.

6. While the cake is baking, prepare the topping by chopping the remaining orange quarters into small pieces. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar along with 3/4 cup water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir well to dissolve the sugar, then add the chopped oranges. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes or until thickened. Set aside to cool.



7. Once cake has cooled, cut into pieces and top with candied orange mixture (and light whipped cream, if desired).



Blood Orange Cake
Serves 12

All you need:
6 blood oranges (or navel oranges)
1 3/4 cups almond meal/flour (like Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
1 cup Truvia baking blend (if using regular sugar, up this to 2 cups - I'm just baking for a crowd where several participants need to watch their blood sugar so I figured I would give this a whirl)

All you do:
1. Place the whole, unpeeled oranges in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove oranges from the water and allow to cool.
2. Preheat oven to 350 and coat a 9-inch pan with cooking spray.
3. Once cooled, cut the oranges into quarters, discarding any seeds. Place all but 6 of the orange quarters into a food processor or blender and pulse until pureed. Measure out 3 cups of the orange puree and set aside.
4. In a small bowl, mix together the almond meal, flour, baking powder and salt. In a another bowl, beat the eggs with 1/2 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
5. Add the measured orange puree and flour mixture and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until cooked through.
6. While the cake is baking, prepare the topping by chopping the remaining orange quarters into small pieces. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar along with 3/4 cup water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir well to dissolve the sugar, then add the chopped oranges. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes or until thickened. Set aside to cool.
7. Once cake has cooled, cut into pieces and top with candied orange mixture (and light whipped cream, if desired).

*If you want to make this recipe gluten-free, simply substitute GF flour for the all-purpose flour


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hungarian Beef Goulash

Josh and I ate at a restaurant back in Holland (Michigan, not the country - we're not that cool) over Christmas break that served all kinds of international dishes. The Hungarian beef goulash on the menu caught our eye (and the pickled beets...my absolute favorite) and it was delicious. The caraway seed and smoky paprika add a unique flavor and the beef becomes super tender while simmering in that delicious broth. I ate mine as is (I really just wanted a bowl of that broth), but this dish is also great served over egg noodles or mashed potatoes. Paired with a glass of red wine, this dish will warm you up in no time.


This recipe cost me $15.67 and took 7 hours to prepare (slow cooker does pretty much all of the work).

1. Place beef, caraway seeds, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to coat. Transfer to a slow cooker. Top with garlic and bay leaves.

2. Combine tomatoes, broth and Worcestershire mixture in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer. Pour over beef. 

3. Top with onion and bell pepper.

4. Cover and cook until beef is very tender, 4 hours on high or 7 hours on low (I prefer low and slow). Discard bay leaves. Mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and pour into the stew. Cook on high, stirring 2-3 times, until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley.




Hungarian Beef Goulash
Serves 4

All you need:
2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 oz.) can reduced-sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons light Worcestershire sauce
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

All you do:
1. Place beef, caraway seeds, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to coat. Transfer to a slow cooker. Top with garlic and bay leaves.
2. Combine tomatoes, broth and Worcestershire mixture in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer. Pour over beef.
3. Top with onion and bell pepper.
4. Cover and cook until beef is very tender, 4 hours on high or 7 hours on low (I prefer low and slow). Discard bay leaves. Mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and pour into the stew. Cook on high, stirring 2-3 times, until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Adapted from: Eating Well







Sunday, February 16, 2014

Clementine and Coconut Braised Chicken

Sundays are my favorite day of the week. I have time to catch up on life and cook a hearty, home cooked meal. Today I decided to tackle the Gazette KCRG Cook Club recipe of the month which featured the braising cooking method. Braising is a combo cooking method using both moist and dry heat. The food (in this case, chicken) is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with some liquid, resulting in a yummy sauce.

The recipe was absolutely delicious. The chicken got so moist while cooking in the broth of coconut milk and clementine juice. The fresh ginger and garlic (8 cloves to be exact!) added great flavor as well. Served over brown rice, this is one of those recipes you can feel good about.


This meal cost me $18.74 and took 2 hours to make. (Like I said, a great Sunday meal!)

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and place an oven rack to the lower-middle position.
2. Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat one tablespoon olive oil over high heat in a Dutch oven. Add chicken breasts (you may need to work in batches depending on the size) and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes each. Remove to a plate and allow to cool slightly before removing and discarding the skin.

3. Add one tablespoon oil to Dutch oven and reduce the heat to medium. Saute onions until softened, about five minutes.

4. Add ginger, garlic, coriander and cayenne and saute until fragrant, about two minutes.


5. Stir in flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

6. Pour in soy sauce and rice vinegar, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan.


7. Stir in coconut milk.

8. Squeeze clementine halves to release juice into the pot and place halves in the liquid.

9. Lastly add the carrots and chicken, making sure the chicken is only one third to one half submerged.  Turn heat up to high and allow it to come to a slow boil. Turn off burner, place lid on Dutch oven and place in oven. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.


10. Remove pot from oven and place on burner. Remove chicken breasts before turning burner to high. Boil liquid for about 5 minutes or until it has reduced by one-fourth. Stir in baby spinach. Once spinach wilts, remove from heat and stir in cilantro.


11. Shred chicken and add it back into the pot.

12. Place brown rice onto plates and top with chicken mixture. Garnish with fresh clementines, if desired.


Clementine & Coconut Braised Chicken 
Serves 4

All you need:
2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut milk (I used fall fat, but light will work too)
3 clementines, unpeeled, cut in half
1 pound carrots, peeled and diced
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and place an oven rack to the lower-middle position.
2. Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat one tablespoon olive oil over high heat in a Dutch oven. Add chicken breasts (you may need to work in batches depending on the size) and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes each. Remove to a plate and allow to cool slightly before removing and discarding the skin.
3. Add one tablespoon oil to Dutch oven and reduce the heat to medium. Saute onions until softened, about five minutes.
4. Add ginger, garlic, coriander and cayenne and saute until fragrant, about two minutes.
5. Stir in flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
6. Pour in soy sauce and rice vinegar, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan.
7. Stir in coconut milk.
8. Squeeze clementine halves to release juice into the pot and place halves in the liquid.
9. Lastly add the carrots and chicken, making sure the chicken is only one third to one half submerged.  Turn heat up to high and allow it to come to a slow boil. Turn off burner, place lid on Dutch oven and place in oven. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
10. Remove pot from oven and place on burner. Remove chicken breasts before turning burner to high. Boil liquid for about 5 minutes or until it has reduced by one-fourth. Stir in baby spinach. Once spinach wilts, remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
11. Shred chicken and add it back into the pot.
12. Place brown rice onto plates and top with chicken mixture. Garnish with fresh clementines, if desired.




Nutrition facts by foodlabelpro.com