Friday, March 29, 2013

French Bread Pizza with Homemade Pizza Sauce

This is a fun switch up for pizza night - French bread pizza. I love the crispiness of the toasted bread with the gooey cheese and toppings. It is a great fast dinner that my family loved. This recipe uses 2 loaves of store bakery French bread, but you could also use homemade French or Italian bread and it would be wonderful. I also love the homemade pizza sauce included in this recipe - it's made in a blender so it's super fast. It has great flavor and is just the right thickness for a pizza sauce. The recipe is from Jamie Cooks It Up.

French Bread Pizza

2 loaves store bakery French bread
pizza sauce (recipe below)
shredded mozzarella cheese
grated Parmesan
toppings of choice: pepperoni, cooked & crumbled sausage, green peppers, olives, red onion, mushrooms, etc.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Slice French bread loaves in half through the center. Place on foil lined sheet pans. Spoon prepared pizza sauce over halved loaves, then top with shredded mozzarella and other toppings of choice ending with a good sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 7 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and edges of bread are golden. Let pizzas rest a couple minutes then cut into slices (a pizza cutter works the best here).

Homemade Pizza Sauce

1, 14 oz can Italian stewed tomatoes
1, 6 oz can tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch red pepper flakes

Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and well combined. I used the "smoothie" setting on my blender and it worked great.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Food Nanny's Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

I love this hearty and delicious Italian classic! The Food Nanny (Liz Edmunds) has still never let me down; all of her recipes are simply fabulous. This meat sauce is slow cooked on the stove and will make your house smell fantastic as it bubbles away. Serve the sauce over spaghetti or any other type of pasta with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan.

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

3, 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1/3 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
6 oz can tomato paste
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed bay leaves
2 cups hot water
1 lb dry spaghetti

Put the tomatoes and their liquid in a blender and pulse 4-5 times until crushed a little. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is softened but not browned. Increase heat to medium high and add the meat. Continue to cook, stirring until the meat is browned. Stir in the tomato paste. Cook until the mixture starts sticking to the pan, about 5 minutes. Add reserved tomatoes, brown sugar, oregano, salt, basil, thyme, and bay leaf. Mix well. Stir in the water. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat, and simmer uncovered about 2 hours, stirring periodically and add more hot water if the sauce gets too thick.

Twenty minutes before serving, cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain.

Pu the spaghetti in a bowl, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and combine. Serve spaghetti with sauce over and Parmesan on top. This dinner goes great with a green salad and some crusty bread.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lunch Lady Brownies

I found this recipe on Pinterest, originally from The Salt Box House cooking exchange blog. These brownies are super good. They are rich, dense, chocolaty and tasty - kind of a cross between cakey and fudgy. These are said to be the brownies that have been served at Bonneville Jr. High in Idaho Falls for generations. Having never eaten at Bonneville Jr. High I can't be sure that's true, but if they are, those are a bunch of lucky kids in Idaho Falls.:) They do remind me of the brownies served in my elementary school if that gives any validation to the story. Wherever the recipe came from it's great, with basic ingredients I always have on hand, and my family loved them - what more can you ask for. You can double the recipe and cook it in a half sheet pan to feed a crowd.

Lunch Lady Brownies

1 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla

Melt butter in microwave. Add melted butter and cocoa powder to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat together until smooth. Add flour and sugar and beat until combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix until combined, but don't over mix. The batter will be stiff. Spread into a greased and floured 9x13 baking dish. Smooth out with a rubber spatula.

Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees or until done (start checking around 20 minutes). It is hard to tell when brownies are done, but these are done when a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs. Remove from oven and cool for about 15 minutes before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients together with a hand mixer until smooth and combined.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

It seems like my recipe blog has become a Crock Pot blog! Here is yet another slow cooker recipe, and it is SO good. I think this soup might go into my regular dinner rotation; everyone loved it! The huge bonus is that it was easy to make and I think my kids liked it just as much as my chicken noodle soup. The recipe is from Jamie Cooks It Up, but I modified it just slightly. Thanks Jamie for another great recipe.

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 large carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
10 cups chicken stock or broth (that's 2 big boxes & 1 can)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed bay leaves
3 cups cooked and cubed chicken (*can cook chicken in soup, read below for alternate directions)
1 cup rice
1 can cream of chicken soup
salt & pepper

In a skillet or large saucepan, melt butter. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook for 4-5 minutes or until vegetables are softened, but not browned. Pour the cooked vegetables into your crock pot. Add chicken stock/broth, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and chicken. Cook on low for about 5-6 hours. Add rice and cook another hour. Add cream of chicken before serving and allow to heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

*To cook chicken in soup: Follow the directions as stated, but use 3-4 uncooked boneless skinless chicken breasts in place of cubed chicken. After cooking on low for 5-6 hours, remove chicken, shred or chop up and return to crock pot. Follow remaining directions as stated above.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pioneer Woman Brisket

Recently my family ate some of the best brisket we've ever had at Rudy's (a Texas BBQ restaurant). Wow, it was incredible. So ever since eating that fabulous brisket I've been wanting to make brisket at home. Then I was watching Pioneer Woman on the Food Network and voila, she made a brisket recipe that looked easy and yummy. Is this brisket as wonderful as Rudy's? No. Just keeping it real. But this brisket is still lovely and delicious and can be served on a bun for a brisket sandwich or all by itself. Seriously good!

Pioneer Woman Brisket

1 large brisket
48 oz ketchup
2 packets dry onion soup mix
few dashes Tabasco
2 cups water

Place brisket in a baking dish large enough to fit it or in a foil roasting pan. Combine ketchup, onion soup mixes, Tabasco, and water; pour over brisket. Cover tightly with foil. Cook at 275 degrees for 6 hours or until tender and falling apart. Cut into slices against the grain. Serve as is or in a bun with bbq sauce (I served it with Rudy's "Sissy Sauce", which is the best bbq sauce! Yum!)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

Taco night is a favorite at my house, so I thought chicken tacos would be a nice change from our regular ground beef tacos. This recipe is awesome. It's a slow cooker recipe - yay! The chicken turns out tender, moist and full of flavor - yay again! This chicken can also be used in enchiladas, burritos, or quesadillas.

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning
1, 16 oz bottle picante sauce or salsa

Place chicken in crockpot. Combine taco seasoning and picante sauce and pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours. Remove chicken, shred with 2 forks, and place back in crockpot. Stir to combine and heat through. Serve in taco shells/tortillas with toppings of choice (we like cheese, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and sour cream).