Friday, December 21, 2007

You put WHAT on your pizza?!?!?

So, anyone that knows me is probably shocked that I put spinach on a pizza- but it was actually delish! I was pleasantly surprised :). I took pictures, but I haven't downloaded them yet, and honestly, they kind of make the pizza look like cat throw-up, so I might not ever add them, lol.

Jenni's (not me, a fabulous nestie that shared this great recipe!) Whole Wheat Herb Pizza Dough:
1 package dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour, divided
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons pizza seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking Spray
1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes.
2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, oil, garlic powder, pizza seasonings and salt to yeast mixture, stirring until well-blended.
3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
4. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.
5. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. Top and bake according to recipe directions.

Note: You can prepare this in a stand mixer using the dough hook. Add all the ingredients and let the hook knead the dough for approximately 5 minutes. This is how I made mine and it was soooo easy! Don't be afraid, yeast is your friend!

Also, this dough may be frozen. Follow directions for kneading dough, and shape dough into 2 balls. Coat balls with cooking spray and place into a ziptop plastic freezer bag. Thaw overnight in a refrigerator. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85'), free from drafts' 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If Indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Shape as instructed.

And now, for the fabulous White Spinach Pizza:
Serving: 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

1 (10-oz) can refrigerated pizza crust
1 cup skim milk
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
½ lb mushrooms, sliced
½ tsp minced garlic
3 cups fresh spinach, washed and stemmed
½ tsp dried basil
¼ cup crumbled feta
½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Pat crust into a round 12-inch pizza pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 7 minutes or until crust begins to brown.

2. In a small pot, mix together milk and flour over medium-high heat until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread white sauce over partially baked crust.

3. Meanwhile, in a skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, sauté mushrooms and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Add spinach, stirring until wilted. Add basil.

4. Spread spinach mixture over white sauce. Sprinkle with feta and mozzarella cheeses. Return to oven and continue baking for 10 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Based on individual serving.
Calories: 152
Total Fat: 4 g
Carbohydrates: 23 g
Protein: 8 g

I used chicken instead of mushrooms and just cooked the chicken (diced) for a few minutes before adding the garlic to make sure it was well cooked. I also used Grueyere and Parm as my cheeses, 'cause those are my faves!

Monday, December 10, 2007


Had to include a couple of pics from the 2007 Nestie Tacky Sweater/Cookie Exchange Extravaganza! It was SO much fun, Dizz's house was gorgeous, everyone made delicious food, we all looked extremely tacky (especially Pami!) and most importantly, I came home with 3 dozen yummy cookies.

Here's my (well technically my mom's!) Ginger Snap recipe for those that want it. Sorry I forgot to take a picture. I was so bummed that I only had 4 leftover!

Ginger Snaps
3/4 C shortening
1 1/4 C sugar, divided
1/4 C molasses
1 egg
2 C flour
2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t cloves
1 t ginger

1. Cream 1 cup sugar and shortening.
2. Add molasses and egg, beat well.
3. Sift dry ingredients, add to creamed mixture and mix well.
4. Roll into small balls and dip balls in 1/4 cup sugar.
5. Place 2" apart on greased cookie sheet.
6.Bake at 350 for 12-13 minutes (chewy) or 15 minutes (crispy).

When I took mine out, they didn't look cooked all the way, but I let them sit on the cookie sheet for about 5 mintues after I took them out and the hardened up! I also sprinkled a little extra sugar over the tops right after they came out of the oven.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


This is quite possibly my favorite dish that I make. That I've ever made. It is delicious. Make this one when you want to impress the heck out of someone (but don't particularly care about their arteries). It's kind of a pain to make, but after you make it once, you'll realize that it's worth 3x the effort. I only use about 2T of butter when I make it. Ya know, to make it more healthy. Kind of like ordering a diet soda with your large fries.

Caution: When this dish is baking you will most likely start drooling from the scent wafting out of your oven. Don't say I didn't warn you. Also known to cause knock down, drag out fights over the last bite.

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup grated Gruyere
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish with about 1 tablespoon of the softened butter.

Arrange a layer of potatoes in the baking dish, and sprinkle some of the cheeses over them. Continue layering potatoes and cheeses until you've used them all, ending with a layer of potatoes.*

In a small bowl, whisk the cream with the salt and pepper; pour this over the potatoes. Dot the remaining butter over the top and sprinkle with the paprika. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the potatoes are tender and golden brown on top. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

*Layer the potatoes all the way to the top. They sink a little when they bake, and trust me, you'll want as many layers of cheesy goodness as possible.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Old standby

This is at least a twice monthly dinner in our house. It's pretty easy, and makes two meals, so I don't have to cook the next night! Always a plus.

Grilled Chicken:
1 bag frozen tenderloins (I like HT brand the best)
1 bottle Italian dressing
1 can crushed pineapple

Add the dressing and pineapple to the bag of chicken, and marinate for at least 6 hours (it's best if it's overnight though). Grill. Can't get easier than that!

Smashed Potatoes:
Red potatoes (I usually use about half a bag)
1/4 stick butter or margarine
Sour cream
1 cup Cheddar cheese
Garlic Salt

1.Quarter the potatoes and boil them until they are soft.
2.Drain potatoes and add butter to hot pot.
3.Smash potatoes with a spoon (they don't need to be completely smooth, but you don't want them too chunky either. Mmm, chunky, there's an appetizing word)
4. Mix in enough milk and sour cream until they are the consistency that you want.
5. Mix in cheese, bacon (I usually use bacon bits) and a healthy sprinkling of garlic salt (to taste, I use a lot).
6. You can add cheese on top, but it's not necessary. Stick in the oven at 375 for about 10 minutes.
Enjoy! These are super yummy, and the garlic salt adds enough flavor that you don't have to use a ton of cheese if you don't want to.

And the spinach is the HT frozen variety :).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Mike and I just got back from a very quick, but very fun trip to Baltimore. He had a meeting there on Monday, so we left Raleigh at about 8 am Sunday morning so we could have a little fun there Sunday afternoon/evening. We really wanted to go to the aquarium, but we ended up not getting there until about an hour and a half before it closed, and decided it wasn't worth $45 for that short a visit.

So we just wandered around the Inner Harbor area, which is really cool (and cold...but I guess it is November!). I discovered a store called Filene's Basement, and I probably could've spent the entire trip shopping in there. Mike decided to spend some time over at the ESPN Zone while I shopped there for a bit.

::side note::
Unlike many women, I do not care about expensive purses. Or expensive shoes. I've never bought a purse for more than $25 and my most expensive shoes are my Uggs, which I pretty much wear every day during every winter. But I do love dresses. Not just normal dresses, but fancy dresses. So I ended up trying on half a dozen at Filene's. One in particular caught my eye, it was $80, marked down from $288. Amazing deal. It was gold with sequins and a bubble skirt (sounds ugly but it was so adorable) and it fit me like a glove. Oh, and when I put it on, my favorite Michael Buble song started playing over the speakers. It was fate. But alas, I decided that even though it was an incredible deal, I just couldn't justify $80 for something I'd probably only get to wear 3-4 times. Sigh. I should've bought it. I miss that dress.
::end site note::

So then we went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner real quick. I had lots of cool suggestions for dinner, but ended up choosing a local place that Mike's client suggested, called Petit Louis . It. Was. Amazing. I had the best French Onion Soup I've ever had, including when I had it in France. The rest of the meal was very good too (I got Steak Frites, Mike got pork, we split some gratin de pomme de terre, and for dessert he got sorbet and I got a pot de chocolat), but that soup...oh man...that was some awesome soup. We split a bottle of yummy red wine, and it really was just a perfect meal. Very comfortable, intimate restaurant with wonderful service.

So all in all, it was a great trip! I really wanted to stop at Ikea on the way home, but Mike's meeting ran late and we had to be back in Raleigh by 9 to pick the pups up from boarding. Guess I'll have to wait until the Charlotte store opens! Oh, here are the pictures we took.....perhaps it was too dark, lol.

Friday, November 9, 2007

At the other end of the scale...

Hehe, get it? Scale? I decided to try and make up for my Heart Attack Soup last night by making something healthy for the hubby tonight. My mom e-mailed me a Spicy Turkey Chili recipe, so I decided to try that. DH loved it! He ate two huge bowls (good thing it's healthy!). Here's the recipe:

1 lb. extra lean (99% fat free) ground turkey
1 large onion (chopped)
2 large cans of whole or diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
1 can chili beans (make sure you get chili beans, not chili with beans. Bush's makes three kinds: mild, medium and hot, and I bought the hot kind)
2 oz. Chili powder (they were out of chili powder when I went to the store, so I bought Mexican Chili Powder, and it just made it a bit spicier)
Salt, pepper to taste

Brown the ground turkey and onion together in a large pot. Add canned tomatoes, including tomato liquid. (If using cans of whole tomatoes, make sure to chop up before adding.) Add both cans of beans including liquid. Add chili powder, salt and pepper. I usually add a can or two of water to chili also depending on how much time I have for it to simmer. After bringing it all to a boil, let it simmer for a few hours.

I added 2 cans of water and it was perfect after simmering for about 5 hours. I'm not very good with a crock pot, but I'm sure you could make it in one. DH said it was spicy, which means it probably would have set my head on fire, but I did use the hot beans and extra hot chili powder! And I did take a picture, but stupidly deleted it, so I'll take another one when I unfreeze the remainder of the chili.

Best. Meal. Ever.

Some nights I make a meal and I'm just like "man, I am awesome at cooking." It doesn't happen very often, but last night was one of those nights. YUM! So we had loaded potato soup (I found a recipe online that was an O'Charley's imitation), cheddar biscuits (Red Lobster imitation), "life changing chicken", and a lame mesclun salad for Mike. Everything was awesome. I could eat a thousand of those biscuits. And the soup was delish! I froze the rest to save for lunches (although I hope you can freeze potato soup...we'll see!).

So recipes:

Very quick, very easy, very delicious (That's what she said)

I of course omitted the chives and parsley, and I also only used 4 cups of half-and-half, and added 1 can of chicken stock. I also added some extra cheddar and some cornstarch at the end to thicken it a bit. Heart attack warning: if following the exact recipe, this soup contains 97% of your daily fat intake. Yeah. No wonder it's good, right.

Life changing chicken:
Chicken tenderloins (fresh work better than frozen with this recipe. I use 2 packages for me and DH, I use 3-4 packages for company)
1 c chopped cilantro
6 T olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic (might want to make it 2 if you are using fresh garlic)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/2 c lime juice

5 T brown sugar
2 T mustard (I use honey dijon)
3 T hoison sauce
1.5 T red wine vinegar

Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Combine last 4 ingredients in a separate bowl. Spoon all of the first bowl and about half of the second bowl into a large ziplock baggie. Add chicken, coat it well and stick in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours. Keep other half of second mixture in the fridge too (helps it thicken up a bit). Thread the chicken onto metal skewers and immediately put on a hot grill. Cook for about 8 minutes on each side, basting generously with the remaining mixture. It should be charred but not burnt when you take it off the grill. Eat and enjoy!

These are great for parties too, just take them off the skewers and stick a toothpick through each one. You can even make them ahead of time, refrigerate, then heat and add a little extra sauce. They won't be quite as good as fresh, but they'll still be delicious!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mia Monster!

Sorry for the double dog post, but Mia turned 1 on November 1st! And b/c she is ridiculously spoiled, she not only got presents (a tunnel and agility water bowl), but also a cake complete with candle! Unfortunately the candle really freaked her out, but she stayed long enough for a photo op. I love my little Mia, despite her being incredibly demanding and difficult. Life was much easier before we got Mia, but she brings so much joy to my life that I'm so grateful we adopted her (am I a cornball or what??). Plus we are having a blast learning the sport of agility together!

So Happy Birthday to my little Miss Priss, may she have many more!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Howl-oween!

We make our dogs dress up in costumes b/c we think it's funny. They are not big fans. They kind of freeze up and then start pawing frantically at their heads to get the hats off. But they'll sit still long enough for pictures as long as I have treats in my hand. Ginger is looking forward to Halloween, b/c lots of friendly strangers come to the door and most of them want to pet her. Mia's biggest fears are: children, the doorbell ringing, and people dressed strangely. So we're pretty sure Halloween will be the worst night of her life.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Steak and Parmesan Risotto

There is no better dinner, IMHO, than a delicious steak and a cheesy starch. I usually throw in a salad or some asparagus for the hubby, but it didn't happen this time. I cooked the steaks on the stovetop, which is my new favorite way of cooking a good thick steak. Shocking, considering I grill out at least 4 nights a week, but I've found that a pan seared steak is hard to beat! Here are the recipes for this meal:

Heat up an 8" skillet (I use non-stick b/c that's what I have, but I think you are supposed to sear with stainless cookware). While it's heating up, put a few sprinkles of Mrs. Dash on one side of the steaks, topped with a small sliver of butter (very small, think like 1/4 teaspoon). When the pan is hot, throw the steaks on, butter side down. While that side is searing (about 30 seconds on high), sprinkle some garlic salt on the other side of the steak. The flip and sear that side. After both sides are seared, turn the heat down to medium low and finish cooking. I cook 1" steaks for about 6 minutes total, but keep in mind that I like mine still mooing.

Parmesan risotto:

In a small saucepan, bring 2 cans of chicken broth to a simmer (you can also use 1 can broth, 1 can water). In a medium saucepan, melt 2 T butter/margerine (or you can use 3 T olive oil) and 1 clove garlic. Add 1.5 cups risotto (also known as arborrio, just in case your husband comes home empty handed from the store insisting that they don't sell risotto) and stir. Turn heat to medium and add 1.5 cups white wine. Stir continually until the liquid is gone. Then begin adding broth, about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring until liquid is gone. After about 15 minutes, taste to see if risotto is cooked. Once it is cooked, add salt, cracked black pepper, and 1 cup of freshly grated cheese. I usually use Parmesan, but Gruyere is also very good! This is one of those dishes that you'll perfect after a couple of times of making it. You can also add a little onion in with the butter and garlic if you want a little extra flavor.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mini Pesto Pizzas

I am making these for a PC show next week, so I wanted to try them out. I made them for dinner and they were delish! DH doesn't really love pesto, so I don't think he was looking forward to these, but he ended up eating 9 of them, soooo....guess he liked them! They tasted yummier than they look on the pan. I served them with soup because it was a gloomy day, but they'd go well with a salad too (if you don't hate salad of course!). Anyway, here's the recipe if you want to try them!

2 plum tomatoes
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup walnuts
1 package (13.8 ounces) refrigerated pizza crust
1/3 cup prepared basil pesto or Basil-Walnut Pesto (I made my own, recipe below)
1 cup (4 ounces) grated mozzarella cheese

Basil-Walnut Pesto
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil, divided
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, divided
1 ounce grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1. Finely chop half of the basil and half of the walnuts together in cap of Food Chopper (mixture should resemble a thick paste); place into Classic Batter Bowl. Repeat with remaining basil and walnuts.
2. Using Microplane(R) Adjustable Grater, finely grate cheese. Add cheese, oil and garlic pressed with Garlic Press to batter bowl. Mix well using Small Mix 'N Scraper(R).

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Slice tomatoes using Ultimate Mandoline fitted with v-shaped blade; set aside. Grate Parmesan cheese using Microplane(R) Adjustable Grater. Coarsely chop walnuts using Food Chopper. Combine walnuts and Parmesan cheese in Prep Bowl; mix well.

2. Place dough onto Cutting Board (do not unroll dough). Using a sawing motion, slice dough into 15 disks (about 1/2 inch thick) using Utility Knife. Place disks onto Large Bar Pan; lightly press to flatten and seal seams.

3. Spread 1 teaspoon pesto over each crust with back of Easy Adjustable Measuring Spoon. Divide mozzarella cheese evenly among pizzas. Top each pizza with one tomato slice and Parmesan mixture. Bake 12-15 minutes or until crusts are golden brown. Remove pan from oven to Stackable Cooling Rack. Serve using Mini-Serving Spatula.

Yield: 15 servings

Thursday, October 25, 2007

First Entry

So I'm starting a blog because my life is just that interesting! Ok, not really. This will mostly be a cooking/dog blog. But definitely not a blog about cooking dogs. That's gross.