BBQ Chicken & Bacon Pizza

This is M’s fave. He loves the smoked Gouda with our fave barbecue sauce and roasted chicken combo – oh, and I can’t forget the cilantro or the bacon. I baked of some thick cut bacon for this (400 degrees for 25 minutes) and it was perfectly crispy. When I need shredded chicken, I always buy chicken breast with skin and rib bones which I then roast at 350 for 30-35 minutes. I simply season them with olive oil, kosher salt and lots of fresh cracked pepper – it’s perfect and juicy every time. This time I tried fresh mozzarella (the kind packed in water) and it was nice and creamy. I recommend letting the cut pieces dry a little on some paper towel before you put it on the pizza. I was reminded why this was his favorite, it was so good; and the flavors are wonderfully complimentary to each other, It’s a party in your mouth, people! Just try it ūüôā Thanks for reading, enjoy!

BBQ Chicken Pizza –

    • 1 ‚Äď 15 ounce ball of pizza dough, I always use this recipe
    • 1/3 cup of store bought BBQ sauce, I used this
    • 1/2 cup smoked Gouda cheese
    • 3 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, torn
    • 1/8 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
    • 4 – 6 ounces shredded, cooked chicken ‚Äď sauced with a few tablespoons of BBQ and ranch dressing ‚Äď trust me on this one!
    • 3 slices of crispy bacon, sliced
    • Fresh cilantro (optional)¬† if you have it
    • Pizza seasoning and dried oregano (optional)

Directions –

*Preheat your oven to 475 about 15 minutes before you make your pizza. I use a pizza stone and place it on the lowest rack of my oven.

1. On a piece of parchment paper, shape the pizza dough into the desired diameter. I use a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Work from the inside out, and gradually move your hands away from the center of the dough. You could also do this with a rolling pin ‚Äď I happen to love using my hands for the job. Once you‚Äôve achieved the size you want, take a fork and poke the tines all over the surface of the dough.

2. Spread the bbq sauce all over, making sure to leave about an inch around the circumference. Next, take your torn mozzarella and place on top of the sauce. Because it’s fresh mozzarella, you can leave lots of empty space because this type of mozz melts beautifully and spreads itself nicely when heated. I love the stuff!  Add some smoked Gouda and top with your roasted chicken, bacon, more cheese, cilantro leaves and dried seasoning if desired.

3. Carefully transfer the pizza ‚Äď still on its parchment paper to an upside-down sheet pan. I use it like a pizza peel to move it to the stone in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes. Using the sheet pan again, remove the pizza from the oven and place the parchment paper and all onto a cooling rack.

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Crustless Quiche and Garlic Bread

This is what happens when I have no desire to go grocery shopping and when I have no clue what sounds good. This is a first for us all, but I have had regular quiche before…yeah – normally brunch fare, but I was out of options! I also wanted to use the other ciabatta loaf I made and a giant container of salad needs to be used up. Quiche brings life to leftover cheese, meat and veggies – it’s a fridge cleaner-outer ūüėČ The master recipe is really helpful because it also gives ratios of veggies, cheese and meat – you don’t want your pie dish to be too full. I used my deep dish pie plate and it worked out perfectly. For our quiche I used leftover bacon, cheddar cheese, and broccoli. I was careful with the salt because of all the cheese and bacon.

Verdict:¬†This was so tasty – a perfect combination! I’m really happy with how it turned out and my husband didn’t disown me for making quiche for dinner. I did remind him that he likes “brinner” and he agreed. Besides, can you go wrong with bacon and cheese on anything? Not in this house you can’t. Even my picky 5 year old enjoyed eating this and my 8 year old had seconds. The garlic bread was super garlicky – take it easy on the cloves if you’re not a fan. I used five huge cloves for this and probably only 1/4 cup of olive oil. The kids enjoyed the flavor of the bread too and I am still tasting it! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Crustless Quiche Master Recipe – adapted from Food Network

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated¬†Parmesan¬†cheese
  • 9-inch glass or ceramic pie pan

Custard:

  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon¬†kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne or paprika

Fillings:

  • 2 to 3 cups prepared vegetables, such as braised leeks,¬†broccoli, sauteed onions, mushrooms, spinach, peppers,¬†tomatoes
  • 4 ounces, or about 1 cup grated or crumbled cheese, such as¬†Cheddar, goat cheese, Gruyere, Parmesan,¬†fontina,¬†provolone,¬†mozzarella, Gouda, solo or combined
  • 1 to 4 tablespoons minced herbs, such as¬†parsley, chives,¬†tarragon, basil, dill,¬†rosemary,¬†marjoram
  • 3/4 cup chopped crisp bacon, diced ham or salami
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, optional, this is good to use with vegetables that release liquid during cooking, such as¬†zucchini¬†and¬†spinach
Directions –

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For the pan: Brush pan with the soft butter and sprinkle the grated Parmesan evenly on top.

Whisk the half-and-half, eggs and yolks in large glass measuring cup. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, cayenne or paprika to taste. Spread half the desired filling evenly in the pan, top with about half the cheese; repeat with remaining filling and cheese. Pour the custard over the fillings. Top with more herbs or cheese as desired.

Bake until the quiche is just set in the center, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool completely on a rack before serving.

Garlic Bread Ingredients – adapted from King Arthur Flour

  • 1 medium head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled (about 15 medium cloves)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup¬†olive oil
  • pinch (1/16 teaspoon) of salt
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • snipped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
Directions –
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the loaf lengthwise and prepare the topping by combining all ingredients but the parmesan and parsley together. Spread generously all over the bread. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle with parmesan and parsley. Cut, serve and enjoy!

B.L.A.S.T.

It has ¬†all our faves – shrimp, check! Avocado, check! Bacon, check! I love a classic BLT, but the shrimp and the avocado really make it a substantial¬†meal. I made ciabatta bread for the first time ever – yes, a bit time consuming, but a heck of a lot cheaper and flavorful than Publix. Once the bread was baked off this meal came together pretty quickly. Something I usually do to make life a little easier is bake my bacon at 400 degrees on a wire rack and half sheet pan lined with foil so I don’t have to babysit them.

Verdict:¬†Everyone enjoyed this but it was a little difficult to eat, only because the sandwich’s innards wanted to fall out – but that seems to be a problem with lots of sandwiches. The shrimp weren’t too spicy and the lime mayo was a nice complement to this. I’ll try this with marinated grilled chicken next time. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

BLAST Sandwich Рadapted from Soupbelly 

  • 4 sandwich rolls, I used these
  • 1 pound shrimp, thawed and deveined
  • 1 lime
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • Chipoltle powder
  • Chili Powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 slices of bacon, cut in half (12 small strips)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 4 large leaves of lettuce

Lime infused Mayo:

  • 4 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 lime, juiced
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

1) Make the marinade – squeeze the lime in a container, add the olive oil, kosher salt, chili powder and chipotle powder to taste; mix well and pour over shrimp. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

2) As shrimp are marinating in the fridge, slice and toast rolls. Cook bacon in skillet until crispy. Place on plate lined with paper towel to drain excess grease.

3) In a small bowl, squeeze lime juice, and 2 tsp of lime zest into 4 tbsp. of mayo. Mix thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste.

4) In a skillet on medium high, cook shrimp until they turn opaque (approx. 2-3 minutes). Place cooked shrimp in bowl.

5) Slather mayo onto toasted rolls, assemble sandwiches with avocado slices, lettuce, 3 slices of bacon, 4-5 shrimp, and a slice of tomato. Serve and enjoy!

Ciabatta Bread

This is a first for me, so hopefully it works out! This takes a little planning ahead and slightly more effort to make than your average loaf. The dough requires a starter – which is so easy and low maintenance. I found this recipe around 9 last night and threw it together in a couple of minutes. All it had to do was sit, covered for up to 15 hours. I waited about 12 to finish the dough up – which is made so much easier with my trusty digital scale and KitchenAid mixer. This dough is much more wet and sticky than any dough I have used lately. It’s similar to a no-knead dough – both are moist, stringy and sticky. Oil your hands, tools and work surfaces generously; and even the oil doesn’t keep it all from sticking, but it is a big help. This dough is also a slow-rising dough, so again – plan ahead. There is the overnight bit, the two hour first rise, the 60 to 90 minute second rise and then finally the 20 minute baking time. Like I said earlier – I really hope that this works out! ūüėČ

Verdict: ¬†This was great for my first try – I learned a lot about this dough, so I will be more prepared next time. Because of the overnight starter, the flavor is reminiscent of a sourdough bread. I’d say overall this was a successful attempt at an artisan bread. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Ciabatta Ingredients – adapted from King Arthur Flour

Overnight starter

Dough

  • all of the starter (from above)
  • 1 teaspoon¬†instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon¬†Baker’s Special Dry Milk¬†or nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons¬†olive oil
Directions –
1) To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Cover the starter and let it rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to 15 hours. It will become bubbly.
2) Place all of the dough ingredients, including the starter, into the bowl of your mixer, and beat at medium speed, using the flat beater, for 7 minutes. The dough will be very smooth, soft, shiny, and elastic. Alternatively, knead the dough ingredients in your bread machine using the dough cycle.

3) Transfer the dough to a greased bowl or other rising container, cover it, and let it rise for 2 hours, deflating it midway through. If you’re using a bread machine, allow it to rise for an additional hour after the dough cycle has ended.

4) Lightly grease your work surface, and a half-sheet baking pan (18″ x 13″) or similar large baking sheet. Grease your hands, as well.

5) Very gently turn the dough out of the bowl onto your work surface; you don’t want to deflate it. It’ll lose a bit of volume, but don’t actively punch it down.

6) Using a bowl scraper, bench knife, or your fingers, divide the dough in half. You should have two fat logs, each about 10″ long x 4″ wide.

7) Handling the dough gently, transfer each piece to the baking sheet, laying them down crosswise on the sheet. Position them about 2 1/2″ from the edge of the pan, leaving about 4″ between them.

8.) Lightly cover the dough with heavily oiled plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise for 60 to 90 minutes. Midway through, gently but firmly dimple the dough with your fingers, making fairly deep pockets. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425¬įF.

9) Spritz the risen loaves with lukewarm water. You’ll see that the dimples have filled in somewhat, but haven’t entirely disappeared.

10) Bake the loaves till they’re golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Crimini Mushrooms

Meat and potatoes – every red-blooded, American man’s favorite combination, right? Well, this meal was meant for the hubs Father’s Day dinner…we and our lazy butts never got around to going to the store. So, better late than never! He requested filet mignon, roasted shrimp cocktail and roasted garlic mash. The mushrooms are for me, however because the man doesn’t eat fungus! I’ve never had steak and saut√©ed mushrooms so now is good a time as any.

Verdict: Yum! Great sides, great steak…and we didn’t spend even one third of what it would have cost at a steak house! I love that ūüôā Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Mash Ingredients – adapted from Food Network

  • 1 head garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, washed well and quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
Directions –

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Slice off the very top of the garlic head. Drizzle head with olive oil and wrap in foil. Place on a sheet tray and bake until tender and fragrant, roughly 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove the cloves and mash with a wooden spoon.

Place potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender and drain. Mash the potatoes until smooth.

Meanwhile heat butter and cream until butter melts. Add the roasted garlic and potatoes and mash all together.

Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Saut√©ed Crimini Mushrooms –¬†

  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms (aka baby Portobello) cleaned and sliced
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 4 TBSP dry red wine
  • fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt to taste
Directions –
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and butter. Add mushrooms, shallot and garlic; then cook 15 minutes until evenly browned and tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste then add wine and deglaze the pan. Cook down for a few more minutes until the pan is mostly dry. Add a little more unsalted butter to taste, if desired.

Cookies ‘n Cream Ice Cream

This couldn’t be an easier recipe – 5 ingredients, 30 minutes of churning and a rest in the freezer. Okay, so it’s not the quickest but it is super simple. I was surprised that there was no salt in this (all sweet needs a little salt to balance the flavor) but I decided not to modify this at all until I taste the final product.

Verdict: This is almost too sweet and fatty. The use of heavy cream and whole milk, (Philadelphia-Style) make this ice cream coat your mouth with butter fat – so if you’re not crazy about that, steer clear of this one. I’m sure the kids and husband wont mind, but I think I prefer the mouth feel of an ice cream that uses egg yolks (French-Style); so I’ll be on the hunt for those. I borrowed The Perfect Scoop¬†from the library a while ago, and I need to search through the book for some must-make-soon desserts. I just realized last night that it’s due back in five days, so I’d better get on it! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Cookies ‘n Cream Ice Cream Ingredients – adapted from Simple Comfort Food

  • 1 cup¬†Whole Milk, Cold
  • ¬ĺ cups¬†Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons¬†Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups¬†Heavy Cream
  • 10 whole¬†Oreo Cookies, Crumbled
Directions –
Freeze your ice cream bowl prior to starting your recipe, as it is very important that it is completely frozen.

Begin by adding the milk and sugar to your mixing bowl, and mix with a whisk until all of the sugar dissolves. Add in the vanilla extract, and the heavy cream. Assemble your ice cream maker, and turn it on, adding in your mixture.

Let the mixer spin for at least 30 minutes, adding the crumbled Oreo cookies about 25 minutes into mixing. Place the bowl back in the freezer for at least an hour, or in my case, overnight. Scoop and enjoy.

Honey Cornbread Muffins

Quick Post: I made these to go with our Grilled Pork Chops. They were yummy, slightly sweet and not annoyingly crumbly Рif that makes sense. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Honey Cornbread Muffin Ingredients – adapted from Food Network

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Special equipment: paper muffin cups and a 12-cup muffin tin

Directions –

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Into a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

Place muffin paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Evenly divide the cornbread mixture into the papers. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden

Grilled Pork Chops

We’ve never grilled pork before, so hopefully this works out well! Choosing to marinade is always a good thing to ensure flavorful, juicy meat; so when I found this recipe and saw the ratings, I decided it was a safe one to try. The barbecue sauce was so simple to throw together and only needed to be stirred every once in a while. Then the marinating – what could be easier? I love dinners like this one where the longest part is the stay in the fridge.

Verdict:¬†I am so happy that these simple ingredients and steps led to such a tasty dinner; and I will definitely make this again. The barbecue sauce has great flavor, and isn’t too sweet or too spicy for us. I would use the sauce recipe again for another application unless I’m feeling lazy ūüėČ Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Grilled Pork Chops Ingredients – adapted from Food Network

  • 4 pork chops (about 1/2-inch thick)
  • Neely’s Seasoning, recipe follows
  • Neely’s BBQ Sauce, recipe follows

Directions –

Apply Neely’s Seasoning to each pork chop. Place pork chops in a large freezer safe plastic bag. Pour 2 cups of Neely’s BBQ sauce into bag. Marinate¬†in refrigerator for 8 hours.

Place pork chops on grill and cook until internal temperature is 160 degrees F. Reapply BBQ sauce to pork chops prior to serving.

Neely’s Seasoning Ingredients –

  • 1 cup¬†paprika
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Neely’s BBQ Sauce Ingredients –

  • ¬†2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard¬†powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
Directions –

Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a large saucepan or Dutch oven.

Over high heat, bring ingredients to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Once sauce comes to a boil, reduce temperature to low and simmer, uncovered, for at least 2 hours.


His Favorite Macaroni and Cheese – Now with Panko!

It is really so good that it needs a repost. The last time I made this, I added Panko to the top before baking. It just gives it that crunchy texture that makes this extra special. This time I used Baby Swiss (Gruy√®re was over $9.oo for 8 ounces!) and M’s favorite Smoked Gouda. This dinner is worth the little extra effort to make and the leftovers are great too. Next time I make this, I’ll try some different cheese combination – hopefully he’ll go for it! ūüėČ Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Macaroni & Cheese Ingredients ‚Äď adapted from The Pioneer Woman
  • 4 cups Dried Macaroni
  • 1 whole Egg Beaten
  • 1/2 stick ¬†butter (1/4 cup)
  • ¬ľ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2-¬Ĺ cups Whole Milk ( *I used 2 cups 1% and the rest was half and half )
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 1 pound Cheese
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoons Seasoned Salt, More To Taste
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/3 cup (or more to cover the mac n’ cheese) Panko bread crumbs
  • Optional Spices: Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Thyme

Directions –

Cook macaroni until very firm. Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain.

In a small bowl, beat egg.

In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.

Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.

Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs. Whisk together till smooth.

Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.

Add in cheese and stir to melt.

Add salt and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.

Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
Serve immediately (very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, *panko*, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

These are what I would categorize as a “special treat” cookie. They are huge! I wanted to make M an extra decadent dessert for Father’s Day, but he didn’t want me to have to put too much effort in to it. For some reason, that kind of dessert makes him feel guilty because of all the extra work – of course, I don’t mind that kind. I like the challenge! So, as a compromise, I’m making these for him instead.

Verdict: YUM!!!¬†I made these slightly larger than they were supposed turn out because I used my disher that holds 1/3 cup. All of these cookies are at least 5 inches in diameter and took 15-17 minutes to bake to my desired doneness. Oh, and I chilled the Reese’s cups after I quartered them just so they would incorporate easily in the batter. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies – adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 12 oz package mini peanut butter cups, unwrapped and rough chopped
Directions –
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicon mat.
  2. Place butter and sugars in a mixer bowl, mix on medium high until well-combined, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla.
  4. Add dry ingredients and mix on low just until combined. Add peanut butter cups until distributed.
  5. Chill dough 15 minutes. Scoop 1/3-cup dough balls onto a lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake 12-16 minutes, until the edges brown and the center is still soft.
  7. Let cool on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Yield: 14 cookies.