Monday, October 31, 2011

Basic Pizza Dough

I, along with the rest of the United States, love pizza.  We do order out for pizza a decent amount but we also love to have make your own pizza nights here at the house.  Basic pizza dough obviously makes great pizza but it also is great for making strombolis and calzones.

This recipe makes 2 balls of dough.  I like to go ahead and throw one in the freezer so i'm always prepared.  If you're cooking for one then cut the loaf into smaller pieces.

Pizza Dough:
(Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 3/4 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Fine cornmeal, for dusting

In a small bowl , sprinkle the sugar and yeast in the warm water.  Mix with a fork and let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy.

In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt to combine.  Add the yeast water mixture and the olive oil; pulse until the mixture comes together but it still slightly sticky.  Turn the dough out onto a slightly floured work surface; kneed four or five times until a smooth ball forms.

Place dough ball into a slightly oiled bowl, smooth side up.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Punch dough down, fold onto its self four or five times.  Place back in the bowl, smooth side up, and let rise for an additional 30-40 minutes.

Punch dough down again.  Turn out on a floured surface and divide the dough into 2 pieces.  Knead each piece of dough 4 or 5 ties and turn into a smooth ball.  If freezing, wrap the dough in plastic and let thaw in the refrigerator before using.  Otherwise roll out and top with your favorite toppings.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan: October 30

It's almost November.  Goodness.  Mr. T's birthday is on Wednesday so we will be either going out or i'll be making a steak dinner.  We will see.

As for the rest of the week I'm planning on making a soup or white chicken chili for the weekend or to freeze (or both).

1) Red Beans with brown rice

2) Turkey Burgers, toppings TBD (maybe guac, tomato, spinach?)

3) Chicken fajitas with yellow rice

4) Fried rice using the leftovers from fajita night

5)  I'm still looking for a recipe but this might be a good one to build off of.  White Chicken Chili

6) Massive salad with chicken and more than likely some buffalo chicken dressing

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Dillard House

I recently went on a trip to north Georgia.  Part of this trip included going to The Dillard House in Dillard, GA.  I've heard about this place from my family and some friends.  This was my first experience.

We arrived towards the end of the service but were able to get a pretty nice window seat. 

The food was served family style and was all you could eat (they even gave us take home boxes).  We had our choice of: bacon, sausage links, sausage patties, pork chops, scrambled eggs, grits, sausage gravy, red eye gravy, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, fruit, cinnamon apples, orange juice, and muffins.  I was good to go until supper time.

Everything was great.  My favorite things were the bacon (of course), chicken fried steak, and the cinnamon apples.  The service was really fantastic.  I was however, a little disappointed with the biscuits.  I think I might have just picked the wrong one out of the basket because I was told that they other one was great.  That is the main reason I hate being at the end of service.

I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the breakfast menu but here's the lunch menu for the day.  Next time we go up that way I plan on stopping by and trying out lunch or dinner.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Left Overs Fried Rice

I had a half day of work this week and was able to come home early and have lunch.  I was going to settle on a bowl of cereal but as I was poking around in the the refrigerator I decided that it was time to use up some of the stuff that we had in there.  I went with fried rice and was very happy with the way it turned out.

I used some of the left over chickpea patties in this rice dish.  It's not a normal thing to add to fried rice but they needed to be eaten.  They worked surprisingly well.  This is a smaller portion so if you want to make a larger just add more rice and veggies.

Left Overs Fried Rice:

1 cup of left over rice (I used brown rice)
1 egg
1 carrot, chopped into small cubes
1 green onion, chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 left over chickpea patties

Heat up the oil in a pan.  When it get hot add the rice and left over chickpeas to the pan.  Cook, stirring, for a minute.  Make a space in the middle of the rice, add the egg and scramble it in the empty spot on the pan until it's just cooked but still soft.  Mix the egg up with the rice.  Add the vegetables to the pan, stir and let cook some.  Add the soy sauce and stir.

I only had carrots and green onions in the house.  I usually add frozen peas, bell peppers, or broccoli to my fried rice.  Just to give some more ideas.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pineapple Nut Cake

Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits.  This cake is so moist and is perfect with a good cream cheese frosting.  It was a very easy cake to make and most of the ingredients are pantry staples.

Pineapple Nut Cake:

2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 #30 can crushed pineapple - do not drain
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Grease & flour 9 x 13 pan. Mix all ingredients by hand. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

8 oz cream cheese  1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup butter or margarine
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
Mix with electric mixer & frost while cake is warm.  Sprinkle top with 1 cup chopped nuts.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Crispy Chicken Sandwich

I love chicken, who doesn't?  This was another recipe that I found in one of the many magazines on my book shelf.  I was amazed with just how crispy this chicken stayed.  I ended up just eating the chicken breast with a side salad, but Mr. T ate his as a sandwich.

Crispy Chicken Sandwich:
(adapted from Clean Eating Magazine- March 2011)

1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 cup whole-wheat panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 whole-grain sandwich buns

Whisk together egg whites, dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.  In a shallow pan add the bread crumbs.  In another pan add the flour.

Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess, then in the egg, and finally in the bread crumbs, gently pressing the bread crumbs into the chicken.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown and fully cooked.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meal Plan: Week of October 23

It's that time again.

1) Homemade pizza

2) BBQ Chicken with green beans and baked beans

3) Mustard Chicken Tenders with a salad and ranch potatoes

4) Cubed Steak Sandwhich

5) Skirt Steak Fajitas

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cornmeal Crusted Fish

I have come up with another way to eat fish.  I used tilapia, pulled some stuff out of the pantry, and went to town.  It turned out pretty tasty and it was a nice way to change up a dish that we have a lot.

Cornmeal Crusted Fish:

2 tilapia fillets (or more if you're feeding more than 2 people)
2-3 egg whites
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon blackening spice (I used Old Bay)
salt and pepper
Olive Oil

Heat a pan on medium high heat and add some olive oil.  I think I used about 2 tablespoons.  Put the egg whites in one bowl and the cornmeal, salt, pepper, and blackening spice in another bowl and mix together.

Take each fish fillet and put it in the egg white then in the cornmeal mixture.  Press the cornmeal onto the fish and shake off any excess.  Place each fillet in the heated pan and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until the fish is cooked through and flaky.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Broiled Shrimp

Mr. T and I eat a lot of shrimp.  We're very lucky to live in a place that is surrounded by good quality, fresh shrimp.  This was a new, but very simple recipe for me.  It was really easy to make.  In my opinion, you can never have too many recipes for shrimp.  It's awesome.

Broiled Shrimp:
(Eating Well Magazine)

1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt


Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.

Meanwhile, toss shrimp, scallions, oil, garlic powder, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper and salt in a medium bowl. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Broil, stirring once, until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Serve with grits topped with the broiled shrimp and scallions.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Turkey Black Bean Tacos

I love tacos.  They're easy to make, taste great, and are like little boats of awesomeness.  We make them a lot and i'm always trying to come up with some new ideas.  Turkey tacos aren't a new thing for my house but these are a little different so I thought I would share.

Turkey-Black Bean Tacos:

1 can of reduced sodium black beans
1 package ground turkey
1 tablespoon of your favorite taco seasoning
1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper powder
Soft tacos shells
Sour Cream

In a skillet heat up a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the ground turkey and let it start to brown.  Once it starts to brown add the taco seasoning and chipotle powder.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until the turkey is cooked through.

In a small sauce pan add the can of drained and rinsed black beans.  Let them warm through.

Assemble tacos however you like.

(I told you this was easy, and a great way to get veggies and beans into picky kids)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cake Contest!

The Linda Blondheim Art Studio is hosting a a different type of art show.  It's called the Creative Hands Cake Party.  Not only with the landscape artist's work be on display but there will also be homemade soaps, resin and scrabble tile jewelry, and handmade bears and purses.

There is also going to be a cake contest.  5 cake recipes will be picked and the winning cake at the party will win a blue ribbon on Saturday and a little gift from the artisans.

Do you have a to die for cake recipe?  Send in your recipe to and the five most popular recipes will vie for a prize from all of the artists.

If you're in town join the artists on Friday November 18th from 5:30 to 9PM and Saturday from 12 Noon- 4 PM
The cut off for submissions is November 8th.

Meal Plan: Week of October 16th

I'm pretty much finished with vacation (I'm so sad) so it's time to get back on a somewhat normal schedule.

We are going to go out to eat with some friends either Tuesday or Wednesday.  I don't know when or where.  We're awesome at planning.

Ok... here we go.
1) Homemade pizza or calzones - pepperoni, spinach, and mushroom more than likely.

2) Taco Night- turkey and black bean more than likely.

3)  Meatloaf with green beans and oven roasted potatoes

4)  Chicken Fried Rice, based on this recipe.

5)  Left overs

6)  Blackened tilapia with broccoli and cheese grits or yellow rice

Friday, October 14, 2011

EPCOT 2011 Food and Wine Festival

It's that time again world.  Time for the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival!  It's my favorite time of the year (Mr. T loves it too, mainly for the booze).  We decided to run down to Orlando on a whim to go to the festival and celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary.

First off, it was hot down there!  I don't get it, our part of Florida was normal but once we hit Orlando the sun moved closer to the earth or something.  Whatever.  I just wasn't prepared and we didn't go as hard core as we could have.  We still had a lot of fun.  Here's what we did, enjoyed, and want to go back to do next time.

The thing I thought was the coolest was the Ocean Spray cranberry bog in the middle of the festival.  I have a small obsession with cranberries and this was just great for me.  It didn't hurt that they were giving away packets of Craisins.  I didn't talk to the cranberry people but they were talking to everyone and answering all types of questions.

On our tour around the world we stopped at England (for booze), Ireland, Japan, Germany, and Mexico.  First up, Ireland.

Mr. T got a snack at the Ireland pavilion.  He got a glass of honey mead and the Fisherman's pie.  It was a mashed potato topped pot pie filled with lobster and scallops.  It was really good and homey tasting.  The honey mead was different.  It was a sweet drink.  I don't really know what mead should taste like so I can't tell you if it's good or not.  It's one of those things that Mr. T has always wanted to try so he did.


Japan was next.  We each got something this go around.  Mr. T got the Spicy Tuna Roll and I got the Tuna and Salmon Sensation.  It might have been a little too hot to eat a party cup full of raw tuna and salmon but boy was it good.  It was insanely simple and just went to prove that sometimes simple is best.  Tuna, salmon, avocado, and soy sauce... that was it.  The spicy roll was really good too.  Again, it was simple but full of good ingredients and it made all the difference.

Next up, Germany.  We stop at this pavilion every year.  Mr. T always gets the sausage link inside of a pretzel roll.  I always get the apple strudel with caramel and vanilla sauce.  It's what we do.

We decided to go to a sit down restaurant for supper instead of grazing.  We decided on the San Angel Inn inside of the Mexico Pavilion.  I've had some pretty horrible meals at Disney restaurants, mainly Magic Kingdom, but still.  I was really impressed with our meal.  The margaritas were fantastic (Mr. T got the jalapeno and I got the blood orange) and my steak was perfect.  I have to say, the thing I was most blown away with was that when the staff found out it was our anniversary they brought us out a little dessert treat, on the house, to celebrate.  I know it was something small but the entire experience was fantastic.  We will be back.

The festival is going on until November 13th.  If you like food or drinks check it out.

Sautéed Fish Sticks

I don't usually talk about the failures I have in the kitchen.  I don't know why, I guess it's because I don't know who would want to read about it.  I wasn't going to blog this but a couple of my friends convinced me to go ahead and share this recipe and share what went wrong with it in my eyes.

Sauteed Fish Sticks:
(Clean Eating Magazine)

1 slice whole-grain bread
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 egg
3/4 lb boneless, skinless tilapia fillet, rinsed with cold water and patted dry

In a food processor, process bread into crumbs. Set aside.

Crack egg into a medium bowl. Chop tilapia as finely as possible and add to egg. Add 1/4 cup bread crumbs to tilapia mixture, then use hands to thoroughly combine.

Divide fish mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a rectangular stick about 2 1/2 inches long. Pour another 1/4 cup bread crumbs into a large or flat-bottomed soup bowl. Dredge each stick in bread crumbs, pressing lightly to coat both sides.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet for 1 minute on medium. Add fish sticks to pan and cook, covered, for 4 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown.

Use heatproof tongs to gently flip sticks over and cook for another 3 minutes or until both sides are golden brown.

Here were my issues:
1.  My pan got WAY too hot and everything burned.  Awesome.
2.  The texture was off.  I don't know if it's because I didn't chop my fish up enough or what.
3.  The fish were kind of bland.  It's an easy fix but I still wanted to throw it out there.

I think that these could be really good and I think that kids would love this.  I'm not sure that I'm going to try to make them again but here the recipe is so that you can be your own judge.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Crab and Corn Chowder

I've been holding onto some awesome shrimp stock.  I have been wanting to make crab and corn chowder but i've been trying to hold off until the weather cools off some.  I just can't enjoy a bowl of soup when it's 99 degrees outside.

This recipe came out of one of my Disney cookbooks.  It was the first time I've ever made it.  I did make some changes.  The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of dill and some Pernod.  I don't like dill and I had to Google Pernod.  It's a liquor that has a licorice flavor, which I can't stand.  I decided to leave them out.

Crab and Corn Chowder:
(Disney Chefs)

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
1 cup finely diced potatoes
1 cup finely diced carrots
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
1/2 cup corn kernels, preferably fresh
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup clan or seafood broth
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
In a 4 or 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the heavy cream, half-and-half, and milk to a simmer over medium heat.
Add the potatoes, carrots, crabmeat, corn, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.
Whisk the water and the cornstarch together in a small bowl. Add the cornstarch mixture and the clam broth to the cream mixture and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, or until thickened.
Just before serving, stir in the scallions.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Red Beans and Rice

I love red beans and rice.  It's a comfort food to me and one of those dishes that are perfect to eat when it's raining or cold outside.  It's also a really hardy meal.  Now that school is back in session my daily commute has doubled, which means I have less time to cook dinner.  It's has made me look at different meals and different ways to prepare those meals. This has led me to the crock-pot.

I was really happy with how this meal came together.  I prepped all of my veggies the night before, put them in a storage container, and threw everything in the crock pot the next morning.  11 hours later I got home from work, threw my rice on the stove, and dinner was served!  If you're looking for an easy week night dinner try this out.  I also think this would freeze well.

Red Beans & Rice:(adapted from Tasty Kitchen)

1 pound dried red beans (I used kidney beans)
7 cups water
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped (including leaves)
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon blackening seasoning
Salt to taste
Hot cooked rice

Place all of the ingredients, except for the rice in a crock pot.  Cook on LOW for 10+ hours or on HIGH for 7 hours.

When ready to eat, serve over hot rice with cornbread.

This would also be great with sausage, which is traditional.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sauteed Garlic Mushrooms

Mr.T and I eat a lot of mushrooms. They're tasty and something that we both grew up with. I found this recipe in a cookbook that was given to me at one of my bridal showers 3 years ago. I'm slightly embarrassed to say that this is the first time.I've used it.

Sauteed Garlic Mushrooms:

(Family Favorites- Vegetables)

1 pound white mushrooms
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Wipe all of the mushrooms clean and trim the stems off. Cut the large ones in half so all the mushrooms cook at the same time. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and cook until most of the oil has absorbed into the mushrooms.

Reduce the heat to low and let the mushrooms cook. Reduce the heat to low.  When the juices have come out of the mushrooms, increase the heat and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper.  Cook for an additional minute then serve.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Black Bean Sweet Potato Hash

Sunday afternoon I was digging through the kitchen to try to find something to eat for lunch.  I found a sweet potato, left over black bean patties, bell pepper, onions, garlic, carrots, and regular potatoes.  I decided to experiment with everything and came up with a black bean sweet potato hash.

If you don't have left over black bean patties feel free to use half of a can of black beans, slightly smashed.  Just use what you have.

I love it when I can use up leftovers.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Hash:
(inspired by The Pioneer Woman's Breakfast Potatoes)

1 sweet potato
1 yukon gold potato (or whatever you have)
1-2 left over black bean patties, broken apart
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, diced
salt and pepper to taste
paprika to taste

Cook the potatoes in a pot of boiling water until they are easy to poke with a fork.  When finished peel the sweet potato and cut all of the potatoes into cubes. 

In a large skillet heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon canola oil.  When the oil is hot add the onion, garlic, carrot, and bell pepper.  Spread out the vegetables so that everything has the chance to brown.  Once the veggies are nice a crispy add the potatoes and the black bean patties, stir to mix everything together.

Let the potato mixture cook until nice and brown, then flip and cook the other side.  Add salt, pepper, and paprika and cook until they are as crispy as you'd like.

I would consider this a main meal.  It's also one of those meals that you could add or subtract any vegetables that you would like to have.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Banana Nut Bread

My aunt's church is having a craft sale and I'm bringing some baked goods to it.  One of the things I wanted to bring was banana nut bread.  Everyone loves it so I decided it would be a safe bet.  I used a recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and made a couple of changes to suit my tastes.

Banana Nut Bread:
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 3 bread pans with cooking spray; set aside.  In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the eggs, sugar, and vegetable oil on medium-low speed until combined.  Beat in the flour mixture.  Add the vanilla, banana, nuts, and buttermilk.  Beat until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between prepared pans.  Bake for 60-65 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken fried steak is a staple in the south.  It can always be found on a buffet.  I love it, and while it's not something that should be eaten all the time, it is tasty and always makes me think of good times with friends and family.

Chicken Fried Steak:
(Alton Brown- Food Network)

2-4 pieces of cubed steak
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 whole eggs, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Cut the meat with the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices. Season each piece on both sides with the salt and pepper. Place the flour into a pie pan. Place the eggs into a separate pie pan. Dredge the meat on both sides in the flour, followed by the egg and finally in the flour again. Repeat with all the pieces of meat. Place the meat onto a plate and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.

Place enough of the vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch slope-sided skillet and set over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the meat in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.

Cook each piece on both sides until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side.

Remove the steaks to a wire rack set in a half sheet pan and place into the oven. Repeat until all of the meat is browned.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tzatziki Chicken

I had some extra taztziki sauce in the refrigerator and decided to experiment.  I always love it when an experiment works out.  The greek yogurt adds a little bit of a tang to the chicken which makes it stand out a little more than the normal week night chicken breast dinner.

Tzatziki Chicken:

2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 cup tzatziki sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Pour tzatziki sauce into a zip loc bag and add chicken, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Let marinade for 20-30 minutes.  Transfer the chicken cubes to a pan and save some of the yogurt.

Heat broiler and let the chicken cook for 20 minutes, turning half way through to make sure that both sides cook evenly.

While the chicken is cooking heat the left over greek yogurt in a saucepan.  Cook it just long enough for the sauce to thicken up some.

When the chicken is finished drizzle the sauce on top and enjoy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Banana Bread French Toast

I've been making banana bread like it's going out of style.  One of my favorite ways to eat it (or any sweet, quick bread) is to make french toast.  It's easy and tastes awesome.

I used banana bread because I had it, but this would also be awesome with pumpkin bread, cranberry nut bread, or anything else you have around.  Also, if you like more cinnamon or nutmeg, then add more spices.

Banana Bread French Toast:

Banana bread, sliced.  This is rich so I would say 2-3 slices per person is fine.
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup cream or half and half
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix everything, except the bread together in a bowl, making sure that everything has combined well.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Melt 1 tablespoon of butter.

While the pan is heating, take the slices of bread and place in the mixture.  Let soak for a minute or so and turn so the other side can soak as well.

Place each slice of bread in the hot skillet and cook for a minute or two on each side, until nice and golden brown.  I ate mine with butter pecan syrup, which was amazing but anything you have at home will work.