Sunday, May 30, 2010

Homemade PIzza

Can I just tell you how much I love pizza. Anyone who really knows me can confirm that! I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner...I LOVE IT. I used our bread maker to make the crust and it turned out good! I still am searching for the ultimate pizza crust recipe because this recipe wasn't as good as I think it needs to be. Really it was so fun to make and I will hopefully be trying some more variations! You really can do whatever you want with this recipe. Use different cheeses and toppings to make your favorite pizza. I will try another dough recipe that doesn't involve a bread maker pretty soon!

Cheese Pizza

For the dough:
1 cup water 80-90 degrees)
3/4 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 2/3 cups bread flour*
9 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 3/4 teaspoons Yeast, active dry, instant or bread machine
**may use all bread flour rather than using part whole wheat flour

1. Place ingredients in the order listed in a bread pan fitted with kneading paddle. Then all you have to do is put the pan in the Bread Maker and let it do all the work for you (takes an hour and 45 minutes for a medium). I used Cuisinart Convection Bread Maker.

8-10 ounces your favorite shredded cheese (I used a mix of mozzarella and cheddar)
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the top of the pizza

1. Put a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. (the stone needs to be very hot before the pizza is put on it)
2. Sprinkle flour over a pizza board. With your hands covered in flour take the dough out of the bread pan and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough. If the dough is sticking to the rolling pin just put flour on the pin. Roll out your pizza so the crust is the size you want. Throwing it in the air does help thin it out!
3. Cover the pizza with the tomato sauce leaving 1/2 inch for the crust. Sprinkle the cheese and toppings and then add the italian seasoning.
4. Slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust has lightly browned.

Tools I recommend to be a pizza connoisseur:
Baking Stone
Pizza Peel Board
- A bread maker or a food processor can be used to make dough


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Quick and Easy Mexican Chicken

This is a great recipe. It was quick and easy (hence the title) and good for the effort that was put into it. This  is also a low fat dish and you can really influence the flavor by picking out your favorite type of shredded cheese and salsa.

Quick and Easy Mexican Chicken
Adapted from All Recipes
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups salsa 
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Heat a greased skillet to medium. Rub chicken pieces with garlic, salt, pepper and cumin to taste and add to hot skillet. Cook until brown on both sides and no longer pink (10-15 minutes)
3. Transfer meat to 9x13 inch baking dish, top with salsa and then cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes (until the cheese is bubbly and starts to brown).

Serve with mexican rice or over buttered noodles....we just ate green beans with it!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Two for One Deal

I am so excited to share this recipe with everyone! I mean how often do you get a Two for One deal when you are baking? A little bit of a carb overload (hence my high cholesterol...I'm trying to cut back) but so worth it! For Mother's Day we had a little family gathering at my grandparent's. Everyone was supposed to bring something and since I am a grown up now I thought it was time for me to pitch in. I of course decided to bring some dinner rolls (I really am addicted to bread). I went all out for this one...including the kneading and rising part. According to Laura, I am now a "suzie homemaker" I guess. After all the kneading and rising, (which was super easy by the way) I started rolling the dough into rolls. After about 32 rolls (only 10 people were coming to dinner) I still had half of the dough left. So I had to think of something. Option A= making 64 rolls OR Option B= sticking with the 32 rolls and using the extra dough to try homemade cinnamon rolls! Well I of course chose option B and it was a success. 32 dinner rolls and 15 cinnamon rolls later I present the Two for One Recipe!

Dinner Rolls

Adapted from All Recipes
2 1/2 cups warm milk
4 teaspoons active dry yeast 
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
6-7 cups bread flour (just depends on the consistency of your dough)
1/2 cup butter, melted

To make the dough:
1. Pour milk into a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle yeast over the surface. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Beat in the sugar, eggs, 1/2 cup softened butter, and salt; blend thoroughly. Gradually stir in the flour to make soft dough (I ended up using about 6 cups of flour). Cover bowl, and set in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
2. Punch down the dough/knead, cover the bowl, and allow to rise again. Repeat this step two more times.
3. Break off 1 1/2 to 2 inch size pieces of dough, roll lightly into round shape, and place in prepared baking dish, edges touching. Repeat to make approximately 32 dough balls. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.   ***at this point set aside the other dough for the cinnamon rolls
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
5. Bake rolls in preheated oven until tops turn golden brown, 10-15 minutes. When rolls are finished baking, drizzle melted butter over the top and serve warm.

For the Cinnamon Rolls

Adapted from All Recipes
Use the other half of the prepared dough AND...
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
(can add chopped pecans if you like nuts)

1. Roll the dough into a rectangle (approx. 17x10 inch). Mix together the sugar and cinnamon (and pecans if you want them). Spread melted butter all over the dough. Sprinkle the sugar mixture to cover the whole rectangle.
2. Starting at the long side, roll up the dough. With a serrated knife slice into one inch slices and place in a 9x13 buttered pan. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes (I actually skipped that part).
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Because this was a last minute addition I didn't have the ingredients to make icing so I just sprinkled some more of the sugar mixture over the cinnamon rolls once they were placed in the baking pan. Also, try substituting 1 cup brown sugar for the 1 cup of white sugar.

Things I learned:
- when blending the ingredients for the dough (before you add the flour) it works best to use an electric blender to make sure there are no butter chunks
- when you are kneading the bread make sure a put flour on your hands to keep the dough from sticking.
- You can place the dough in the refrigerator overnight for a slow rise (takes about 8-10 hours). That is what I did after I had rolled the dough into balls and it worked great. I just put the rolls in the oven in the morning and made the cinnamon rolls with that extra dough (that had also been in the refrigerator overnight rising)
- Here is a great Video to show you how to roll the cinnamon rolls (with icing)


Cheesecake Squares with Chocolate Chip Crust

Let me start off by saying that these are a must bake. I have attempted cheesecake several other times and it has never turned out as good as these. I must warn you though, it's not like the oversized New York style Cheesecake in which a fork is a necessity. It is like the name says, a square; something you can make bite-sized and serve to a large group of people. I have made them for a baby shower so I will let you know how people respond to them in a couple of days! Hope you enjoy!

1  1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 9″-square baking pan. Line pan with parchment paper, leaving enough to extend over the sides. Butter the parchment paper.

Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter until crumbs are moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Press crust mixture into bottom of pan. Bake for 6 minutes. Set pan on wire rack to cool.

10 or 11 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar just until smooth. Add egg and vanilla extract, beating just until blended. Pour batter into baked crust. Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls over the top of the filling.

Bake about 30-35 minutes, or until set. Transfer to wire rack. Let cool for at least an hour in the pan. Put pan in refrigerator for several hours or if you are in a hurry in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut only once squares are chilled. 

Things I learned
1. Cheesecake looks really weird when you first bring it out of the oven, but once you let it cool and sit in the refrigerator for awhile it will look like normal cheesecake.
2. If you are making them for a gathering, take ALL of them or else you will end up eating them. 


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sweet Beer Bread

I've been wanting to bake bread for the longest time. I mean you aren't really a suzie homemaker until you know how to make bread right? Well, I guess I'm a half suzie homemaker now that I've made beer bread. Why half? Because there is not need for to knead and rise, knead and rise. All you do is combine 3 ingredients and pop the dough in the over. So simple! The only trick to this bread is knowing what you want before you make it. If you want something light, try a light beer. If you want to make it heavy and yeasty (is that a word?) use a heavier darker beer. If its spring or summer try a flavored beer like strawberry. And if it's fall, try a pumpkin flavored beer.  I used a dark ale beer and it turned out so good. The hubby thought it was te best bread he had ever tasted! Hope you enjoy!

3 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup white sugar
12 oz. beer
1/4 cup of melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into a greased 9x 5 pan. Put in oven for 45 minutes. Take bread out and pour/brush butter over bread. Bake for 5 more minutes. You will know when the bread is done when a toothpick comes out clean.

What I learned
1. Making bread can be so easy.
2. Beer bread makes for great toast in the morning.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chicken on the Ritz

This will be one of the easiest/tastiest little meals you make! If you love chicken and Ritz crackers this is the recipe for you. I am kinda cheating this week because I have made this several times but it is one I have to share! Another reason to love this recipe is because it is impossible to dry out the chicken...well not impossible but very hard to do because you dip the chicken in butter. The butter keeps the chicken moist! It sounds pretty unhealthy but if you use the right kind of butter...not too bad right?? Serve with something green!

Chicken on the Ritz
4 boneless chicken breasts, skinned
1 stick butter ***see below for the "healthy" butter
1 sleeve Ritz Crackers (I use the whole wheat kind)

Preheat the oven to 350. Crush Ritz crackers on wax paper. Line the bottom of baking dish with crushed crackers. Melt butter in a bowl. Roll chicken breasts in butter, then roll in Ritz crackers and place in baking dish. Bake 40-45 minutes or until done.

"Healthy Butter"
Earth Balance - made with expeller-pressed oils to help raise good cholesterol while lowering bad
Smart Balance - made with fish oils and flax seed giving you some good fiber
Yogurt Butter - lower saturated fat