Monday, February 9, 2009

Pizza, part II

My family enjoyed last week's pizza so much that we had pizza again tonight. I made a really yummy cheeseburger pizza and wanted to share it with you.

I followed the dough recipe found in the original pizza post. I made a thicker crust, approximately 3/4 inch thick, uncooked. I then topped in this order:
pizza sauce
garlic powder
dill relish
prepared mustard
Wisconsin sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheeses
cooked ground beef
caramelized onions.

IT WAS FABULOUS!!! I made one without mustard and pickles for my picky husband and he told me it was the best pizza he had ever had. The caramelized onions really add depth to the pizza...I think the only thing that could have made this particular pizza better would have been a bit of bacon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner since I did not plan ahead and put anything out of the freezer. I thought about the scanty ingredients I had; I rarely get to the grocery these days, with 4 kids it's hard to find room in the cart for the food.

I realized I had everything I needed for pizza and this is a kid favorite. It's mostly a kid favorite because they get to help build the pizza. So I searched for a quick pizza dough and found this one. I used a bit more flour (1/4-1/2 cup) than the recipe called for and I added 1 tsp garlic powder and onion powder, 1/4-1/2 tsp dried parsley, thyme and oregano directly to the dough.

I divided the dough in half so I could make two pizzas. I was able to stretch the dough working it by hand and never used the rolling pin. I put down a flexible cutting board, put a piece of aluminum foil on top of that and put the dough right onto the foil. This allows me to heat my stone in the oven so when I put my pizza on it is already hot. The foil also allows me to remove my pizza from the oven without having to take the stone out. This is helpful when making multiple pizzas. I can build a second pizza while the first is baking and not need additional pans.

I lightly dressed one side with pizza sauce and left one side with just olive oil on the crust...two of my children don't like red sauce and one does. I added some grated parmesan and fresh grated mozzarella. Since I divided the dough I only baked for 15 minutes at 400 degrees rather than the recommended 20 minutes at 350 degrees in the recipe.

When making a pizza for myself I love to add chicken, fresh brocolli, black olives, cooked ground turkey, fresh tomatoes, spinach, bacon...well just about anything! Tonight I caramelized onions added fresh mushrooms and black olives.

The only thing I would have changed would have been to add garlic powder on top of the pizza sauce, otherwise the herbs in the crust flavored the pizza beautifully!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup

I love chicken noodle soup, but do not like it made with chicken broth so I take the time to make chicken stock so my chicken noodle soup is rich and delicious. This is time consuming, but worth the effort in my opinion.

For Stock

5 pounds chicken pieces, wings, backs and necks. (If you purchase whole chickens to cut up for a recipe, you can always remove these parts and freeze them until you have enough to make stock.)
4 quarts cold water
2 onions
3 carrots
3 celery stalks

For Sachet:
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs of fresh parsley
12 whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Place the chicken pieces and vegetables in a sturdy roasting pan. You may want to apply a thin layer of oil or spray Pam to the surface to prevent sticking. Roast the chicken and vegetables until the chicken pieces are brown. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a large stock pot.
If there is a lot of fat floating on the surface of the roasting pan, remove it with a spoon but leave the wonderful caramelized juices that are a result of roasting the ingredients. Put the roasting pan on your stove top and add 1 quart of the water. The pan is already hot so be careful and be sure to use your oven mitts.

Using a wooden spoon, scrape any brown bits of chicken or vegetables that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan and mix them into the rest of the liquids. Pour the combined water and juices over the chicken and vegetables in the stock pot.

Add the rest of the water to the stock pot and bring the heat up to high. You want to watch this closely at this point because as soon as the water comes to a boil, you want to reduce the heat to a nice gentle simmer. You will find impurities floating to the top in the form of fat or foam. Remove it with a spoon.

Make your sachet and add it to the pot

Gently simmer for 3 to 4 hours removing any impurities as they form on the surface. When done, remove the sachet and strain the stock through a fine meshed strainer. Let the stock cool and then transfer it to airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. You may find a thin layer of fat that has congealed on the surface of the stock after you have refrigerated it. Just scrape it off with a spoon. You can also freeze your brown chicken stock up to 3 months.
You now have a rich, flavorful, important ingredient that you can use to make all sorts of soups and stews.

If your chicken stock does not taste as rich as you would like, put back in to a pot and reduce until you get the delicious flavor you're looking for. And don't add salt!!! If you are saving your stock for use in multiple recipes then you can add and adjust salt with each recipe rather than in the stock.

Now for the chicken soup:

1 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs chicken cut into one inch cubes (skinless dark or white meat)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 lbs carrots, chopped
2-3 leeks, sliced into 1/2 inch rings
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
5 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried parsley
salt to taste
approx. 4 cups chicken stock
12 oz package egg noodles

In a large pot add olive oil and heat over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add chicken pieces sprinkle with salt. Cook chicken until brown on all sides, add garlic, onions, leeks, carrots, celery, thyme, poultry seasoning, peppercorns, parsley and bay leaves. Continue to cook for 3-5 minutes stirring often. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil then cover and cook for 90 minutes. Check level of liquid, you need enough liquid to add your egg noodles. If you do not have enough liquid, add more stock or water if the liquid is very concentrated. Add egg noodles, cook for 5-10 minutes (depending on size of your noodles).

Homemade Oreo Cookies

Posting this recipe was inspired by my blogging buddy Crash. She had this odd dream about eating fruity oreos and I instantly started thinking of how to make fruity oreos. So I'm taking a favorite recipe and putting a spin on it.

My friend, Tsugumi, joined in a cookie exchange I hosted a few years ago. She brought the BEST oreo cookies. The cookie is soft, cakey and chocolaty. Here is the recipe:

Cookie Ingredients

2 Devil's food cake mixes
1/2 cup flour
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs

Filling Ingredients

8oz package cream cheese
1/2 c butter, softened
6-7 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla


For cookies - Combine all ingredients, mix well.
Roll into 1.5 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet
Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool completely.

For filling - Combine all ingredients, mix well.
you may add milk to thin or powdered sugar to thicken to the correct consistency.
Spread or pipe filling on bottom side of a cookie and top with another cookie to create a sandwich.

Now for the fruity part! You can make fruity oreos by adding orange extract to the filling or you could add fresh fruit or jams. Thinly slice strawberries, bananas, apricots and layer with the filling or mash fresh raspberries and smear a bit on one cookie with cream filling on the other cookie and then sandwich together! You could even add dried cherries. There are many options for fruity oreos :) If the post to Hawaii were not so lengthy I'd make some and send them to you, Crash :)