Sunday, June 30, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Pizza with a Beer Bread Crust

I'd like to start this post by stating that this meal was not for me.  For one thing, I've been eating pretty healthy lately, and for another, I don't typically eat pizza.  Yes, you read that correctly, I don't typically eat pizza, especially if it comes from a restaurant.  I do however have to admit that there are a few "healthy" pizza recipes that I've been wanting to make from scratch.

I was very tempted to taste test this pizza though, seeing how much I love buffalo chicken!  I'm proud to say, and still can't believe that I refrained and let Jeff have it all to himself. 

Buffalo Chicken Pizza with a Beer Bread Crust
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For the Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TBSP. sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¾ cup larger beer, warmed to 105 degrees
2 TBSP. olive oil

For the Pizza:
¼ cup buffalo wing sauce (favorite brand)
3 TBSP. Franks Red Hot Sauce (optional)
2 TBSP. Larger beer
1 TBSP. butter, melted
1 TBSP. ranch dressing
1 ½ cups cooked, cubed or shredded chicken (I seasoned mine with a dash of cayenne pepper and garlic powder as it cooked)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles (if desired)
2 TBSP. sliced green onions for garnish
Blue cheese crumbles for garnish

For the Crust:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, but removed from the stand, combine 1 cup of the flour with the sugar, yeast, baking powder, and salt.  Now, add in the beer and olive oil and stir together.  Place the bowl back on the stand, and beat on a low speed for about 30 seconds, then on high for about a minute.  Add in the last cup of flour and continue to beat on low, until a soft dough is formed.

Replace the paddle attachment with a dough hook (If you don’t have a hook, you could knead the dough by hand) and beat on a medium speed for about 5 minutes.  (The dough should feel somewhat tacky, you can always add more flour, if needed)

Once the dough is ready, cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
For the Pizza:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spray a baking sheet with a non-stick cooking spray. 

On the prepared baking sheet, press the dough into a 14x10 inch rectangle and poke holes in it using a fork.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges of the crust just begin to turn a nice golden brown.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the wing sauce, hot sauce, beer, ranch dressing and melted butter.  Add the chicken, and stir around until all the chicken pieces are well coated.

In a small bowl, combine all 3 cheeses and stir together until well blended. 

Once the crust has been removed from the oven, sprinkle on about 1 cup or so of the cheese mixture (I used a little extra).  Top with the chicken and sauce mixture and then add on the rest of the cheese.  Return the pizza to the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is a nice golden brown.  Remove from the oven and garnish with green onions or blue cheese crumbles.
Source: Slightly adapted from Betty Crocker

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Puffs

Chicken enchiladas are pretty much one of my all time favorite meals!  Ok, confession....I'm really a huge fan of any Mexican dish, as long as it's made well!  Unfortunately though, I don't always have time to make chicken enchiladas as detailed as I'd like to (I'll post my favorite chicken enchilada recipe soon).  Due to this I sometimes have to improvise, which is exactly what I did here.  The enchilada puffs turned out to be delicious, which is why I'm sharing the recipe, but they are definitely different from original enchiladas, if that's what you are looking for. 

I found that this recipe is perfect if you're short on time, plus, as an added bonus, they make for a great little snack or appetizer!

Chicken Enchilada Puffs
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15 white frozen Rhodes dinner rolls (thawed)
1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
1 cup cooked chicken (diced or shredded)
            -while the chicken cooked, I seasoned it with a dash of cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder and a little garlic powder.  I seasoned to our taste, this step is up to you.
1 can of enchilada sauce
1 jar of your favorite salsa (bought or homemade)
¼ cup Mexican blend shredded cheese for garnish

Thaw the dinner rolls until they are no longer frozen.  (Don’t let rise)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.

First, flatten out the dinner rolls.  Then, directly in the middle of each roll place about a spoonful of salsa and enchilada sauce.  Add on about 2 tablespoons of chicken, and top with about a tablespoon of cheese.  Pull the sides of the dough up and around the ingredients and pinch closed so that the ingredients don’t fall out while baking.

Place the prepared puffs, sealed side down, onto the prepared baking pan.  Spread on some more of the enchilada sauce and garnish with desired amount of extra cheese.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the puffs have turned a nice golden brown color and are puffy in appearance.  Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Serve with extra salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.  Enjoy!
Source: Six Sister's Stuff

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Protein Granola

School's finally out, which officially means summer is here!!! 

Being a teacher I often times tend to hear people say, 'teacher's have such an easy job and get the summers off, that's so unfair.'  All I ever think when I hear this, is 'try teaching for a week, or then again, a day, and tell me how you feel after that.'  I usually just end up keeping my thoughts to myself though.  So, as much as I love my job, the summer break is always nice, needed, and well deserved.  It gives me a chance to get a ton of things done and finally focus on my personal life for a change, without having to worry about 130 kids. 

So, for the month of June I've decided to really focus on my health.  More specifically, I've been trying to change my diet and eat healthy.  Since my injury in February, I've put on a few pounds, and am determined to shed them this summer.  I'm a very competitive person by nature and am taking part in a diet bet with friends of mine, plus a lot of others.  My ultimate goal is to be back at the weight I was at last summer and I know that eating healthy is going to play the biggest role in that.

Over time I've noticed, that for some reason, when I'm not at school, eating healthy is easy.  In the summertime I'm fond of light lunches: yogurt, cottage cheese, sandwiches, protein shakes, etc.  I always like to add a little extra to these things in order to spice them up though, and am a huge fan of granola and fruit!  Due to this, I decided to be creative and make a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Protein Granola in order to go with my cottage cheese or yogurt dishes.  Honestly, the granola turned out better than I expected!  I already had some Nature Valley dark oat granola bars that I like to break into pieces, in my pantry, however, I now foresee them staying there for quite a bit.  I'm definitely going to be making this recipe again and again! 

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Protein Granola
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2 TBSP. honey
6 TBSP. water
2 TBSP. light brown sugar
2 tsp. canola oil, or coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 TBSP. special dark cocoa powder
3 TBSP. creamy peanut butter
2 TBSP. ground flaxseed
1 scoop protein powder
¾ cups chopped walnuts
4 cups oats (I use old fashioned)
Ground cinnamon
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Set aside.  Place the oats and walnuts in a medium to large bowl and then set that aside as well.

In a medium bowl, combine the honey, water, brown sugar, oil, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and flaxseed, then whisk together until completely smooth in texture.  Add in the peanut butter and stir around until smooth.  Lastly, add in the protein powder and continue to stir until well combined and smooth.

Pour the peanut butter chocolate mixture over the oats and using a wooden spoon, stir around until all the oats are evenly coated.  Pour the oats out onto the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with some cinnamon, and place in the oven for 20 minutes.  Make sure to stir the oats around halfway through.  Once ready, remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack for cooling.  After the oats have had time to completely cool, add in the chocolate and cinnamon chips, and stir together.  Store the granola in an airtight container.
Source: Bowl of Creativity Original

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Round-em' Up Cowboy Lasagna

Happy Father's Day to all those wonderful dads, soon to be dads, and grandpas out there, especially my own!  I may be a little bias, but I have to say it......My dad's the BEST dad ever and I owe him so incredibly much!  Thanks to him I had a fantastic childhood and life so far!  Not only did he always make my sisters and me feel loved and special (yes, he was the only boy in a house with 4 girls), but he constantly worked hard to support all of us and even put my sisters and me through school, just so that we'd have no debt when we started life on our own. 

My dad has definitely had a major impact on the person I am today, and for that, I will forever be grateful.  I'm positive that there were times I tested his sanity, but I always knew that I could count on him to be there for me whenever I needed.  My dad always wanted and still wants what's best for me in life.  I really just wish that he lived closer, so I could see him more and show him how thankful I am to have such a dedicated, loyal, and caring father.  Happy Father's Day Dad!  You are loved beyond words.

So, due to the fact that it's Father's Day, I felt a manly meal was in order.  Here goes......

Round-em’ Up Cowboy Lasagna
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1 lb. lean ground beef
3 TBSP. minced onions
Worcestershire sauce – season to your liking (generous sprinkle)
Dash of garlic powder (no more than 1 tsp.)
3 TBSP. parsley, divided
2 Tsp. ground mustard
1 can tomato soup (10 ¾ oz.)
1 can corn (15 oz.)
1 bag of Tator Tots (32 oz.)
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13” baking dish with a non-stick cooking spray, set aside.

In a large skillet set over a medium heat, brown the lean ground beef with the minced onions, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and half the parsley.  Once the meat is no longer pink, drain the grease.  Place the meat back into the skillet and add in the ground mustard, soup, and corn.  Stir around the ingredients until they’re well blended and then let simmer for 10 minutes.

To assemble:
Evenly cover the bottom of the baking dish with a single layer of tator tots.  Sprinkle on your desired amount of the mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese, and then evenly spread on the meat and corn mixture.  Top the dish with more mozzarella and cheddar cheese, then garnish with parsley.

Place the dish in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the tator tots are cooked through.  Once ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. 
Adapted from Peppermint Mocha Mama

Monday, June 3, 2013

6-Layer Toasted Marshmallow and Belgian Chocolate Cake

One of my all time favorite things to do is to create a variety of flavorful and tasty cakes.  The main reason that I enjoy making cakes, is because it provides me the with the opportunity to display my creative side.  I keep telling myself that one of these days I’ll finally take a cake decorating class or watch one of those cake shows on tv; I just haven’t yet.  If you're interested though, and want to see more elaborate cakes that I’ve created for others, please feel free to check out 'Savory Sweets by Jamie', on Facebook.
Now, onto the cake........

The following cake recipe is for a moist, delicious, and scrumptious, 6-layer toasted marshmallow and Belgian chocolate cake that was made for some students of mine.  The reason behind this cake is because some of them definitely rose to the challenge that I presented to them a little over a month ago.  I truly am proud of each and every one of them, but unfortunately, as with any competition there can only be so many winners.

So here's the lowdown.......

The Cake/Group/EOG Challenge:  Every year in North Carolina students from 3rd grade and up take what are called the EOG’s (end of grade test).  The students need to pass these basic skills tests in order to be promoted to the next grade level for the following school year.  In order to help prepare the students for these tests we, as a school and teachers, have to go through some sort of review unit.  These units can sometimes be boring and repetitive to the kids, therefore I am one who always likes to hold classroom games and competitions in order to make the experience more fun, interactive, and collaborative.  One strategy that I use is what I like to call group challenges.  For this activity the students must collaborate with their group members to read a loud a passage and then answer a series of comprehension questions.  The key is that ALL group members must agree on an answer and be able to express why they feel the answer is what they think it is, especially if some of their other peers in the group don't agree.  This type of collaboration provides the students with an opportunity to justify themselves and help others who might not comprehend.  At the end of the 4 week challenge, the group who has accumulated the most point wins.  In this case, they won a piece of cake, which hopefully they thought the challenge was.  Pun intended!

FYI.....My students informed me that this might just be the best cake they've ever had, so either they were  sucking up to me and hoping I'd give them an "A", or it's a really good cake!

6-Layer Toasted Marshmallow and Belgian Chocolate Cake
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Makes: one 6-Layer, 8 inch round cake
For the cake:
2 ½ cups + 1 TBSP all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar (yes really… can diet later)
1 cup + 1 TBSP cocoa powder (I used Hersey’s)
1 TBSP baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cups buttermilk, room temperature
1 ½ cups black coffee, hot (I used Target brand Vanilla flavored)
¾ cups vegetable oil
1 ½ TBSP vanilla extract

For the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
1 lb. (4 sticks) butter, room temperature (Once again… can diet later)
4 - 5 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted (I ended up using more later on due to the frosting being a little too soft.)
¾ cup Chocolate Malted Ovaltine, or Carnation Chocolate Malt Powder
1 TBSP vanilla extract
8 oz. Belgian Chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled (I used milk chocolate Milka bars)
cup heavy whipping cream

For the Toasted Marshmallow Frosting:
16 large white marshmallows
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 jar (213 g) marshmallow fluff


For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare 3-8” round cake pans by spraying them with a nonstick baking spray (I use the Wilton brand, but Baking Joy would work too, or butter and a light dusting of flour).

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together all the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl/large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil, and vanilla.  (Helpful Hint: Whisk the eggs first, and then whisk in everything else)

Add the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat on a medium speed for 2 minutes, or until the ingredients are well blended.  Hint: start the mixer on a low speed to avoid a mess and then slowly increase the speed to medium.  Once ready, divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.  (The batter will appear to be pretty thin, but its ok, trust me)

Bake for 20-23 minutes rotating pans as needed.  Continue to bake until an inserted toothpick comes out almost clean (just a few crumbs).  Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then remove from pans and allow to completely cool.

For the Malted Chocolate Frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, set to a medium speed, beat together the butter and confectioner’s sugar until well blended and creamy in appearance.  Hint: start the mixer off on low, to avoid a big mess.  Once ready, add in the malt powder and vanilla then beat on a low speed until well combined and smooth in appearance.  Add in the melted chocolate and beat on a medium speed until smooth.  Make sure to stop and scrape down the side of the bowl as needed.

Lastly, add in the heavy whipping cream and beat on a medium-high speed for another minute or so.  Be careful not to over beat.  (This is the step where I ended up adding more confectioners’ sugar to make the frosting a little thicker in texture.  Add in a ½ cup at a time until desired consistency is reached.)

For the Toasted Marshmallow Frosting:
Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with a silicone baking mat or a piece of parchment paper and spray it with a non-stick cooking spray.  Arrange the marshmallows, in a standing position, on the cookie sheet and then broil until nice and brown on top.  Time varies so keep a close eye on them, the marshmallows brown quickly.  Once ready, remove the pan from the oven and gently turn the marshmallows over to the other side, then place back into the oven and continue to broil until the other side has turned the same nice golden brown color.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment and set on a low-medium speed, beat together the butter and the confectioner’s sugar for about 1 minute.  Stop to add in the vanilla and mix on a medium-high speed for about 3 minutes or until smooth and creamy in texture.  Scrape down the side of bowl as needed.

Next, add in the marshmallow cream/fluff and the toasted marshmallows.  Beat on low for around 1 minute or until well blended.

To assemble:
First you will need to cut your 3-8” round cakes in half, so that you have your six layers.  Once that step is complete you’ll need a serving plate, or an 8” round cake board.  Place your first cake layer down on the board or serving plate and spread on top a thin layer of the marshmallow frosting.  Top with another cake layer and then spread on a layer of the malted Belgian chocolate frosting.  Repeat the steps until you have used each layer of cake.  Hint: It helps to place the final cake layer upside down (reduces the crumbs when you frost).  It also helps to let the cake sit in the fridge for a bit to harden up before frosting.

Once ready, frost and decorate the cake as desired!  Enjoy!  It will go quickly!
Source: Very slightly adapted from Sweetapolita 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Butter Pecan Biscotti

I feel the urge to share today’s recipe with you for two reasons……. 1:  It’s a great recipe to make over the weekend, and 2: It will make more than enough biscotti, which means that you’ll have leftovers for breakfast during the hectic week.  As always, remember to make sure you store any extras in an airtight container, this will keep the biscotti slices from drying out.

So here in the South most people love pecans, and this particular biscotti recipe definitely doesn't disappoint. It truly is a Southern treat for breakfast!  The reason that I feel this way is because not only does the biscotti contain pieces of pecans, which happen to be my favorite, but it also has a somewhat sweet, but not too sweet flavor to it.  Therefore, the biscotti goes perfectly with a side of warm coffee and will just so happen to be gone before you know it!
Butter Pecan Biscotti
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Makes 20-24
1 package (18 ¼ oz) butter pecan cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
½ cup butter, melted
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 ½ tsp. instant coffee granules
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
½ cup very finely chopped pecans
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp. brewed coffee
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, flour, butter, eggs, syrup, coffee granules, and vanilla and beat until well blended (dough will be thick).  Add in the white chocolate chips and the ½ cup of pecans.  Fold together and then divide the dough into two pieces.
On an ungreased baking sheet, shape each portion of dough into a 12 in. X 12 in. rectangle.  Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes or just until they begin to turn a nice golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Once the biscotti is cool enough to touch, transfer to a cutting board and cut diagonally, using a serrated knife, into ½ in or ¾ inch slices.  Once the pieces are cut, place them back onto the baking sheet, cut side down.
Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the feel firm.  Once again, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Glaze:
Place the confectioner’s sugar and coffee into a small bowl and whisk together until the sugar is completely dissolved.  If you want the glaze to be thicker, add a little more sugar.  Line the biscotti up, and drizzle the glaze over the slices.  Immediately sprinkle with the pecan pieces.
Source: Slightly adapted from Taste of Home