Saturday, September 27, 2008

BBQ Chicken Pizza


I've seen BBQ pizza recipes before and for some reason, it just really sounded good on this night and I had everything on hand to make it except the dough. I do like to make my own pizza dough and make it frequently, but it can be a little time consuming on a weeknight, so I keep the refrigerated kind on hand for when the pizza craving attacks. I was very pleased with the outcome and Bill really liked, which was a huge plus.

BBQ Chicken Pizza
pizza dough (homemade or store bought)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
BBQ sauce
mozzarella cheese
sharp cheddar cheese
red onion, chopped

P9120688 1. Spray grill with cooking spray and preheat grill. Season chicken with salt (or salt substitute), pepper, and garlic powder. Grill chicken until cooked through, turning as needed.

P9120690 2. When chicken is almost done, coat lightly with BBQ sauce. Remove from grill to cool. While chicken cools, place pizza dough on pizza or cookie sheet.


3. Spread BBQ sauce on pizza dough almost to the edge, leaving a small crust. Sprinkle with a little bit of mozzarella and a large amount of cheddar cheese, enough to cover the BBQ sauce.


4. Cut chicken into small chunks and sprinkle over cheese. Sprinkle with a little more cheddar cheese and chopped onion. Drizzle with BBQ sauce.


5. Bake according to pizza dough directions, usually around 15 minutes.


Sissy's Variations:
P9120689 For the BBQ sauce, I had both regular and hot and spicy on hand. I figured the hot and spicy would be too hot for spreading, so I used it on the chicken and the regular as the "pizza sauce." It was a perfect combo. I also used cheeses that were either low fat and/or made with 2% milk to cut back on calories. No problems with melting. And, of course, only half the pizza had onion, since I don't like uncooked onion.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas


We're meat eaters around here. I've only successfully made one other meatless meal that we both really loved, kept us satisfied, and that I would certainly make again. But, I was really looking to keep costs down this week and went to the pantry and fridge for things I already had on hand. It's certainly nothing original and nothing terribly spectacular, but they turned out really good.

Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

(All ingredients can be adjusted based on how many enchiladas you are making; I made seven.)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
enchilada sauce (I used leftovers of the sauce I used for the Avocado Enchiladas), about 2 c.
1/2 block 2% sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
onions, chopped
shredded colby jack cheese
corn tortillas

P9100680 1. Heat black beans on stovetop or  in microwave until warm, but not mushy. I added some garlic powder for flavor. Re-heat enchilada sauce.




P9100683 2. Quick "fry" tortillas in oven (spray tortillas with cooking spray and cook on baking sheet in oven set to 350 until they are just pliable).

P9100684 3. Fill tortillas with beans, cheddar cheese, and onions (I don't eat onions like that, so only Bill got onions). Roll and place seam side down in baking dish.

4. Pour enchilada sauce evenly over enchiladas. Top with colby jack cheese.

5. Bake in 350 degree oven until cheese melts, about 5-10 minutes.


Sissy's Variations:
As I mentioned, I didn't use onions since I don't like them. Bill also had his topped with extra chopped onions. I'd like to try these with different beans just to experiment, but these were great as is!


Sunday, September 7, 2008

An All-time Fave: Chicken Spaghetti


One of my very favorite dishes of all time is the Chicken Spaghetti my mom cooks. Now, the fact that it's something my mom cooks is something pretty amazing all by itself. My mom, you see, doesn't really cook. She married men who could cook, and that is where I learned much of what I know about cooking--from my dad and my stepdad, both of whom are great cooks. But, Chicken Spaghetti is something my got from her mom and she's been cooking it for me forever. We rarely get to eat it because nobody else likes it quite like we do; they just tolerate it.

Mom says she has the recipe somewhere, but I've never used. I just sort of go from memory and occasionally call Mom to make sure I'm not forgetting something. It's super simple and makes great leftovers. But WARNING it makes A LOT. I suppose there are ways to cut it down, but for us, it just doesn't work unless you make a lot.

Chicken Spaghetti

1 whole fryer chicken
1 lb. spaghetti
1 lb. Velveeta cheese
2 cans stewed tomatoes (Italian style or regular)
1 can sweet peas, drained
1 can cream of chicken soup (optional, use only if necessary)

1. Boil chicken in large stock pot until done (about 1.5 hours).

2. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Save broth.

P9080673 3. Once broth cools a bit, skim fat from top and discard. Bring broth back to a boil and cook spaghetti in broth according to package directions. The pasta should absorb most of the liquid, leaving no need to drain. If there is too much excess liquid, drain off some.

P9080674 4. Leave pot on burner and reduce heat to medium low. Cube Velveeta into pasta, stirring frequently to allow cheese to melt and to keep it from burning on the bottom.


P9080675 5. De-bone and de-fat chicken and shred into pot. (I just pull the chicken off the bone, discarding the skin and fat, and shred with my fingers. Some people can't do that, so use your favorite method.)


P9080676 6. Add tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes with your hands or a fork. Allow to heat through.


P9080677 7. Add peas just before serving.



Sissy's Variations:
The cream of chicken soup is used to thicken the spaghetti up if needed (as well as add some extra flavor). Mine was pretty thick this time on it's own, so I didn't use it. I had 2% Velveeta cheese on hand, so I used that without any difference in taste.

It was super yummy, as always. Bill even raved about it. And I will be eating on it for a week!


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Crack Cookies Gone Wild


In case you're wondering, yes, I've probably lost my mind. The very first recipe I ever blogged about was Crack Cookies, which are just crazy good chocolate chip cookies that I make that are kind of famous. So, last week my very good friends Dina had unexpected back surgery. Two days before her surgery, I had told her I'd make some Crack Cookies to bring to work that week to make her feel better (she LOVES my Crack Cookies--I bake them for her as her Christmas present every year). Well, her surgery ended up being scheduled way before we expected, so I didn't get to make them beforehand, so I told her that as soon as she was up for it after surgery, I would send her a whole batch via her sister (who I also work with). So, not knowing when I'd need to make them, I just got all the stuff to make them and decided to play with recipe a little bit.

P9030651 Recently, I had bought some dark chocolate and white chocolate chips and some semi-sweet chocolate chunks.


P9030650 So, I bought some more milk chocolate chips (the ones I prefer to use) and headed home to check out what all I had.



P9030652 I found some Mini M&Ms for baking and some semi-sweet mini chocolate chips.




I had a plan. If they were already Crack Cookies, jazzing 'em up this way could only mean one thing: Crack Cookies Gone Wild. Hey, I already said I know I've lost my mind!

The recipe makes 4 dozen cookies, so I decided to try 4 different kinds of Crack Cookies.

P9030655 I made up the dough as usual. Then I split the dough into four 3/4 c. batches. I used about 1/2 c. (probably a little more) of add-ins for each dozen since the original recipe calls for 2 c. chocolate chips.








Regular (milk chocolate)






Dark Chocolate Chip


White Chocolate/Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chip


Mini M&M/Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunk

Unfortunately, I was a bit distracted and the first night's batch didn't turn out quite as good as I liked. They were a little more over cooked than I usually like, but they were still good, so I hear. That batch went to work with Bill. I made the same thing the next night to take to work with me, and while they didn't get quite the same reception as regular Crack Cookies, they were enjoyed. The white chocolate in particular seemed to be a hit.

Update 9/10: I made Dina her Crack Cookies this week. Her sister was going to be able to take them to her on Tuesday, which happened to be the same day she got her staples out. I got an email from her this morning saying they were the best batch ever. I had to agree. I knew as soon as I pulled them out of the oven that they were perfect, and of course I had taste one. There really is no other cookie like a Crack Cookie!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Peanut Butter Cookies


I'm not the biggest fan of peanut butter cookies (weird, since I really love peanut butter in every form), but others really do, so I figured I'd give them a try. Since my very favorite cookies are my Crack Cookies, so I really wanted to find a peanut butter cookie that was close. In searching my Google Reader, I came across these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies from Fresh From Cate's Kitchen blog. The recipe is really similar to my crack cookie recipe, so I decided to try it.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from Fresh From Cate's Kitchen)

1 stick (1/2 c.) butter, softened
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 12-oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt.

P9030663 3. Mix the butter and both sugars in stand mixer on medium until fluffy. (The recipe doesn't specifically mention where to add the peanut butter, so I added it here.) Stir in vanilla and egg and mix on low until combined.

P9030664 4. Add the flour mixture and mix on low just until the flour is no longer visible. Stir in chocolate chips.



P9030666 5. Drop by large spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake 8-10 minutes, or until just set. Remove from the oven and let cool on sheet fro 5 minutes, then eat or transfer to wire wrack to cool completely.


Sissy's Variations:
I made two batches and I wanted one with nothing in it, so I made plain PB cookies. The other batch, I used  semi-sweet chocolate/peanut butter swirl chips because they looked fun.

Unfortunately, somebody was distracting me (we won't name names!) and they cooked a little longer than I would have liked. They were still good (yes, I tried them), but a little on the crispy side for my taste. Everybody liked them, but I will do better next time.

And I'm thinking I may try to adapt the crack cookies to peanut butter cookies one of these days.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Boston Cream Pie


I love Boston Cream Pie. I always have, even as a kid. My dad used to buy them at this pie place when I was little. Years later, I found a recipe for one in my stepdad's Betty Crocker cookbook. I was so excited! And then my stepdad said he really liked it too, so I knew I had to try it. Boston Cream Pie was actually the first thing I ever baked that wasn't from a box mix. Really, a pretty heavy undertaking for a fairly novice baker, but it turned out great. I now have my own Betty Crocker cookbook, but I've compared the recipes and they are the same. I usually make it for my stepdad's birthday, but I didn't get to this year, so when he invited us for Labor Day dinner, I said I'd make it for him.

For anybody who hasn't had a Boston Cream Pie (and if you haven't, what the heck are you waiting for), it's not actually a pie. It's a fabulously layered cake with a cream filling and a chocolate glaze. Really, it's heaven.

P9020643 Boston Cream Pie
(from Betty Crocker)

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. shortening
3/4 milk
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
Cream Filling
Chocolate Glaze

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and side of round pan, 9 x 1 1/2 inches, with shortening; lightly flour.

P9010625 2. Beat all ingredients except Cream Filling and Chocolate Glaze in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.

P9010628 3. Bake about 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

4. Make Cram Filling and Chocolate Glaze. Split cake horizontally in half. Spread filling over bottom later; top with top layer. Spread glaze over top of cake. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Store covered in refrigerator.

P9010631 Cream Filling
1/3 c. sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla

P9020636 Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in 2-quart saucepan. Mix milk and egg yolks; gradually stir into sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 2 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Press plastic crap on filling to prevent a layer of skin from forming on top; cool.


P9020632 Chocolate Glaze
3 tbsp. butter or stick margarine
3 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
1 c. powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla
About 2 tbsp. hot water

P9020639 Melt butter and chocolate in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently; remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir in water, 1 tsp. at a time, until smooth and spreadable.


Sissy's Variations:
P9010629 Since it was Labor Day and I didn't have anything else to do, I decided to make an attempt at Boston Cream Cupcakes. I've been wanting to do this for awhile. I made up another quick batch of batter and made a little over a dozen cupcakes.

P9020640I made another batch of cream filling, which I put in a pastry bag with a tip. I filled the cupcakes through a few different holes in the top. I thought I got enough in them, but we discovered upon eating them that I'm going to have to work on filling cupcakes.

P9020635 The other thing I thought I wanted to try after having made it the day before was chocolate ganache instead of the chocolate glaze. They are pretty similar, but I was so nervous about screwing it up. The last couple of times I've made the glaze it hasn't quite turned out right. No matter what I do the texture is off--almost lumpy. So I thought the ganache would be perfect.

P9020641 I went ahead made the chocolate glaze and decided to use it on the cake and the ganache on the cupcakes. Turned out, I had enough ganache to cover the cupcakes and the cake. I glazed the cake with the glaze and then topped it with the ganache. I think the outcome was prettier and had a richer chocolate flavor.

P9020642 (Oh, I said it made just over a dozen cupcakes. Well, Bill and I had to taste test a few to make sure they came out okay!)

The family raved!