Wednesday, August 26, 2015

BBQ Chicken Pizza with Bacon and Onions

School starts tomorrow for Adam.  Sadly, this means that our fabulous summer, spent as a family, is over.  After our trip to France, French cooking adventures at home, afternoons at the pool and lots of walks to the library this summer, Fox and I will now be alone during the days, missing Daddy.  

After Fox was born, Adam and I joked that we both wanted to be stay-at-home parents, because we love spending time as a family, and this summer that was pretty close to true!  Adam worked on the study abroad, but much of that included all three of us.  When we got back, he worked from home most days, and so we got to spend more time together. 

My family has always been the most important thing in my life, but with a family growing from two to three, the significance of being together and sharing moments has become more special to me. Parenthood is hard and somewhat different than I expected, but there is nothing that I love more than my little family.  I hope you're all squeezing your little ones tight as they start school again!  

Because of school starting, many of you might need another tasty, easy meal to whip together on those busy nights with homework and extra-curricular activities.  This isn't the fastest pizza I have ever made, but it is easy, and you could totally adapt it to be quicker (cook chicken and onions with BBQ sauce in the crockpot, and cook your bacon in the microwave).  And it is fantastic.  Lots of cheesy goodness with bacon and a slightly spicy BBQ sauce. It is sure to be a hit with your entire family!  A perfect way to start off the school year!  

BBQ Chicken Pizza with Bacon and Onions:
makes 1 medium-sized pizza

1 pizza crust (I make this recipe every time and freeze half the dough for the next time I make pizza.  If you are feeding a family, I suggest making the full dough and then doubling the toppings and making two pizzas.)
1/2 onion, diced
4 pieces of bacon
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large chicken breast, cut in half, then sliced
3/4 cup BBQ sauce, divided
1 cup finely shredded, sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp cornmeal

Put your bacon in a frying pan and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy.  Remove the crispy bacon and add the diced onion to the bacon fat.  Cook until the onions are soft and translucent.  Remove onions, set aside.  Once the bacon has cooled, rip it up into bite sized pieces.

Wipe the residual bacon grease out of the frying pan and add the chicken and about 1 Tbs olive oil.  Cook over medium heat until the chicken is just barely cooked through and then add 1/2 cup BBQ sauce right before you pull the chicken off the heat.  Stir until the chicken is coated evenly with BBQ sauce.

Now, sprinkle cornmeal on a silicone baking mat.  Roll out your pizza crust and take 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce and spoon it over the crust.  Spread out with the back of the spoon until it evenly coats the crust.  Begin placing chicken and onions evenly across the top of the crust.  Then sprinkle your cheese over the chicken. Top with bacon bits.

Cook in an oven preheated to 425°F for 8-10 minutes, or until the crust is golden around the edges and the cheese is melted.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Savory Green Bean Cobbler

Adam and I were members of a CSA program (a box of local produce that was delivered every other week) last year.  It was a great opportunity to try new things, and helped me learn to like a lot of vegetables that scared me or that I had never tasted before.  

Many weeks, we got something in our box that I would look at and wonder what on earth I was going to do with it.  I spent many hours scouring the internet for good recipes with rutabaga and the like.   

This is how I stumbled onto this savory cobbler recipe (I was trying to use up a large bunch of collard greens).  I was suspicious of it the first time I made it, but it is a wonderful dish that I have made a number of times, always with great success!  I have adapted it to fit my needs, but I have made the original, and it is great as well!  

Savory Green Bean Cobbler:
Adapted from The Yellow House

Biscuit top:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
5 Tbs unsalted butter, very cold and diced into small 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cup buttermilk (or scan 3/4 cup milk with a little lemon juice or white vinegar added.  Let the mixture sit for a few minutes until the milk is curdled)

1/2 pound Italian sausage or pork sausage, using the spices in this sausage 
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup fresh or frozen green beans (If using frozen, defrost in the microwave)
2 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Begin by making the biscuit dough.  Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a stand mixer.  Add the honey and the butter pieces and mix until the butter is mostly combined and the largest pieces are the size of peas.  Then add the buttermilk and stir for a few seconds until the flour is all mixed in.  Drop 1/4 cup drops of biscuit dough onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Refrigerate for 30 - 45 minutes.

While your biscuit dough is getting cold, make your filling.  Begin cooking your sausage in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Once it is no longer pink (but before it gets too brown), add the diced onion and cook until the onion begin to soften. Add garlic powder and cook for a minute, then add the broth.  Turn up the temperature and bring the mixture to a boil.

Add the green beans, turn the heat to low and let them cook for about 15 minutes.  Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, until the cornstarch is dissolved and add it to the green bean mixture.  Let it simmer over low for a 3 or 4 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken.

Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Pour the green bean mixture into an 8x8 sized glass baking pan.  Remove your cold biscuits from the refrigerator and gently place them on top of the green bean mixture.

Cook in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the biscuits look lovely and golden on the top.  Remove and let cool slightly before eating.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Our Eleven Favorite Dinner Recipes

I cook almost every night.  I think we go out to eat once every other month (not kidding), so home cooking definitely happens around here.  This is a non-comprehensive list of our favorite dinners.  These all appear regularly on our menu, and I love each and every one.  Hopefully some of them will become favorites of your family as well!  Some have been adjusted from the original source, and I rewrote them with my revisions on the blog (and in one case in the description), and some I love in their original form from the blog that is cited.

Also, congratulations to Jennifer who won the PayPal Giveaway!  Thank you to everyone else who entered!  

Clockwise from upper left: Chipotle Chicken Tacos; Black Bean SoupQuichePizza
(All the photos were taken and the food was made by me)

1.  Black Bean Soup:  I talk about this one a lot, because it is a favorite.  Especially accompanied by tortilla chips.  It is creamy, thick and flavorful.

2. Tuscan Pasta (Mel's Kitchen Cafe):  Mel never fails.  Almost every recipe I have ever tried from her has been amazing, and this one didn't disappoint.  It is SO easy and incredibly good.  Great for a quick weeknight meal.

3. Chickpea Salad (Perry's Plate):  I used to be very wary of chickpeas... They kind of freaked me out (probably because of the smell), but now I love them.  This is one of my favorite ways to use them.  I substitute peanuts in for the walnuts, and almost always leave out the cilantro.  It still tastes delicious anyway. I made this when I was pregnant one time, and I think I ate 7 bowls of this for dinner... It was so good.

4. Gourmet Green Salad (Mel's Kitchen Cafe):  The dressing makes this salad, but the bacon and pear don't hurt.  This one is a home run every time.  I would half the dressing.  One time Adam made the whole thing and we were eating it for every meal for 2 weeks, and still had to throw some of it away.

5. All the Pizza:  There is so much love in my heart for pizza.  We make it about once a week with whatever is in the fridge.  It is one of my favorite nights of the week.

6. Vegetable Pot Pie: My mom made this all the time when I was growing up.  It has become a favorite in our home, too.  I almost always leave out the chicken, and have subbed in all kinds of other fillings.

7.  Bacon, Apple, Cheddar Panini:  So I may have posted them with the worst photos of all time, but this is still one of my very favorite dinners.  For a lot of people, a panini press would go to waste, but ours is a workhorse.  We use it several times a month.

8. Hoisin Vegetable Noodle Bowl (Budget Bytes): I stumbled on this accidentally, but it is my go-to stir fry.  Hoisin sauce has become a very favorite of mine, and honestly, if something has peanut butter in it, you can almost guarantee I will like it.

9. Quiche:  Another dish that my mom made a lot when I was a kid.  I always make it with a crust, because Adam says it is just an omelet in a pie pan if it doesn't have a crust.  This was a recent one that I made, but I make them a lot and throw in all kinds of veggies and meat.

10. Creamy Tomato Soup (Our Best Bites):  My mom recommended this recipe a few years ago, and I have made it at least a dozen times since then.  It is a total crowd pleaser and absolutely delicious!

11.  Chipotle Chicken Tacos: These tacos are a real win!  Every time I make them I wonder why we don't eat them every week.  They are SO delicious!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Peach and Rosemary Ice Cream

I will eat ice cream any time of the year, but it is most refreshing in the summertime!  For many of you, summertime is ending and fall is beginning.  Texas doesn't believe in fall (is it just me, or do I talk about the weather a lot? Oh well... apparently it greatly affects my cooking), so we don't get cold until the end of November, if we are lucky.  Sometimes it is still 70 degrees on Christmas, so I get to enjoy ice cream for many months to come!

I stumbled across this ice cream a few months ago, and was so inspired by the idea of putting peaches with a savory spice that I ran with it and made my own recipe for it!  It is an unusual flavor, but so so good.

The peach is a lovely subtle flavor, and the rosemary really steals the show giving the ice cream a savory-sweet taste that is unusual and delicious.  It is a great way to use the last peaches of the season.  If you or your kids are starting school next week, and need a little way to celebrate your last days of summer, this ice cream would be perfect!

If you do end up making it, take a photo and tag me on instagram (@measureandwhisk)!  I would love to see your creations!

Peach and Rosemary Ice Cream
makes about 1 quart

1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 or 2 peaches, peeled and pureed
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
a dash of salt
1 cup cream

Heat the milk in a saucepan until it is quite warm (not boiling).  Remove from heat, add the rosemary and peach puree and cover for 30 minutes.

Strain the mixture through a cheese cloth to remove rosemary and the peach puree. Discard the rosemary and peach puree.  Put the strained milk back back on the stove and begin to warm again.

In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks.  Add the sugar to the milk mixture, and then slowly, all while stirring, add the egg yolks to the milk mixture.  Add the salt and stir constantly over medium heat for a few minutes until the mixture begins to thicken, and coats the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and add the cream, stirring all the while.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or until the mixture is quite cold, then add to an ice cream maker and let the ice cream maker work its magic until the mixture is about the consistency of soft serve ice cream.

Remove the ice cream from the ice cream maker, put it in a large tupperware and freeze it for about 2 hours, or until it is quite firm and scoopable.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Chocolate Granola

One of the cool things about traveling, is that you are never quite the same afterwards.  Some part of the culture, people, food or lifestyle has influenced you and made you think about the world in the a different way.  For example,  I have decided that breakfast is better with chocolate in it.

Chocolate muesli is a French staple (at least I think so, because you can find it in every grocery store, big or small) that I have come to love.  I think we went through at least 12 boxes of granola in the seven weeks that we were there, so I have been wanting to find an adequate substitute.

After a few medium tasting batches, I made a delicious batch, with just a hint of sweetness that played along nicely with the chocolate!  So tasty, crunchy, and chocolatey.  Now I'm ruined: my granola just isn't complete without a heavy dusting of dark chocolate pieces.

The chocolate can be an extra delicious addition if you let it melt just slightly on the warm granola and then let it harden back up before you store it.  It clumps the granola a little more, giving you fun chocolate-filled chunks, and spreads the chocolate flavor a little further.  When you remove the granola from the oven,  let it cool until it is just slightly warm, and then pour the chocolate over the top and let it sit for 1/2 hour or so until it is cooled completely.

Chocolate Granola

4 cups oats
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup millet
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted to a liquid)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp honey (you could use maple syrup, but it is not as good of a pairing as the honey is)
1/2 cup chocolate chunks (you don't need to splurge, but don't get the bottom of the barrel chocolate either;  none of that waxy stuff!)

Combine the oats, almonds, millet and salt in a large bowl.
Add the melted coconut oil, vanilla, and honey.  Stir until all the oats mixture is covered.
Spread evenly on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Cook in an oven preheated to 350°F for about 10 minutes.  Take a spatula and stir the granola, then cook for another 5 -10 minutes until the edges are beginning to crisp.  Let cool and add the chocolate chunks.  Store for up to a week in an airtight container.

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