Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Pizza

IMG_7952 - Version 2My rambunctious, fun loving, joy filled son turned 11 today and we had a small gathering to celebrate.  I asked him what he would like on his pizza and he requested Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Chicken.  I had never made it before and was not sure how much sauce to add to the pizza, but I was pleased to find that this was nearly perfect!  It would have been even better with bacon! Next time!

Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Chicken

by goodcookbecky

Yield: 8 slices

Pizza Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 packet Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 F)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour

Pizza Toppings:

  • purchased Alfredo Sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • garlic powder
  • frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained (squeeze dry)
  • 1 roasted chicken breast half, pulled apart into bite size pieces
  • 8 oz shredded Italian Blend cheese
  • 2 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and broken into smaller pieces

Instructions:

To make pizza dough, dissolve the yeast in the warm water in your kitchen Aid stand mixer, if you are lucky enough to have one.  Add the vegetable oil and sugar to the yeast.  Add 1 cup of flour and 1 tsp of water to the mixing bowl.  Use the paddle attachment and mix until the ingredients are well combined.  Add the remaining 2 cups of flour to the dough, and switch to the hook attachment and knead until all the flour has worked into the dough and it looks smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes.  Remove the dough from the hook and pour about 1 teaspoon of oil over the dough, turn the dough to coat it with the oil.  Cover the mixing bowl, first with a piece of plastic wrap and then cover with a clean kitchen towel.  Allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.  It should double in size.

In  the meantime roast the chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper,  in the oven (I used skin on, with bone chicken breasts) and roasted them at 375 for about 40 minutes.  I allowed the chicken to cool off about 20 minutes, so it was cool enough to handle.

Preheat the oven to 375 for the Pizza.

Place the dough on a pizza stone (I love my pampered chef one- in this case I used their large one that has a lip).  I sprinkled the dough with dried oregano.  Next, I ladled about 1 cup of sauce onto the dough and spread it out.  I then dotted the dough with pieces of spinach (be sure to wring it dry before using it – I like using the chopped frozen spinach because you can remove the moisture – which would be hard to do if using fresh).  I pulled the chicken skin off and pulled the meat from the bone and pulled the meat apart into bite size pieces, placing them all along the top of the dough.  Next, I sprinkled garlic powder over top the pizza and chicken.  Sprinkle with bacon pieces if you are using them (I will next time).  I drizzled about 4 tablespoons of Alfredo sauce over the top of the chicken again and topped it with the shredded cheese.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Printable Recipe

 


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Korean Beef

IMG_7923Nearing dinner, I looked in my refrigerator and found a pound of ground beef.  I did not want to make the same old same old and turned to Pinterest for inspiration.  I came across the recipe for Korean Beef at the website of Elizabeth Bryant (link).  It looked simple enough, and I had the basic ingredients needed in my refrigerator right? Well, actually, I had to send my husband to the store to get my green onions (my hero!).  The Korean Beef came together quickly and was delicious with steamed rice and steamed broccoli (which hubby also picked up because he was going to the store already!).  Korean Beef is usually made with flank steak, but this ground beef option was very good.  This dish is simple enough, my 11 year old son could cook with supervision.  It is easy and delicious.  I will be making this again and again.  Thank you Elizabeth Bryant for posting this to Pinterest.

Korean Beef (Ground Beef)

adapted from http://elizabethbryant.blogspot.com/2010/05/korean-beef.html

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (just the green part)

Serve with:

  • steamed rice
  • steamed broccoli

Instructions:

Brown the ground beef in a large non stick skillet over medium high heat, breaking up and stirring the beef with a wooden spoon.  When the beef is mostly cooked, drain off any fat and stir in the chopped garlic and grated ginger.  Cook stirring for about 1 or two minutes or until the beef is completely cooked through.  Remove any additional fat if needed and add the sugar, soy sauce, crushed red pepper flakes and stir.  Just before serving stir in the green onions and serve over hot steamed rice and broccoli on the side.

Serves 5

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Jambalaya

IMG_7625I have been wanting to make my own Jambalaya since my husband and I ate some in Las Vegas.  I turned to one of my favorite recipe sites for a good recipe: allrecipes.  I should have also read some of the reviews before following the recipe exactly – it was spicy!  My children were all at a music performance, so the only taste buds that were assaulted by flavor and heat were hubby’s and mine.  I did like the recipe though, but next time I will tone down the spice.  I reduced the amount of red pepper flakes and hot sauce by half in the recipe here – adjust to your liking.  I did use Sriracha so that may have been the culprit for it being too spicy.  The flavors of the recipe were good though.  Added shrimp would be nice too – I would cook them separately, and add them just before serving though, so they do not over cook.

Jambalaya

adapted from allrecipes.com (submitted by Terri)

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 Tbsp canola oil, divided use
1 Tbsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
12 oz andouille sausage, sliced into rounds on a slight bias
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, diced small
1 small green bell pepper, diced small
2 stalks celery, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16 ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp file powder
1 1/4 cups uncooked white rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth

Instructions

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to the skillet.  Add the andouille sausage and season with half of the Cajun or Creole seasoning.  Turn to brown.  Remove the sausage to a bowl.  Add the remaining cooking oil to the skillet and cook the diced chicken pieces with the remaining Cajun seasoning.  Once the chicken is slightly browned and cooked through for most part, remove wish a slotted spoon.

Use the same skillet and cook the celery, onion, and green pepper in the remaining oil.  When the onion is softened, add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant for about 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Return the sausage and chicken to the skillet.  Once it comes to a boil, cover with lid, reduce heat to low.  Continue cooking for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.  I turned off the heat after 25 minutes and left it covered for 15 more minutes to make sure the rice was completely cooked.

Serve hot.

NOTES: I reduced the red pepper flakes and hot sauce by half in this post, as you can easily add more heat to the dish, but you cannot take it away.  File powder is key and you should be able to find it in well stocked grocery stores.  It acts as a thickening agent.

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Chocolate Zucchini Bread

IMG_7576Zucchini Bread is good.. but Chocolate Zucchini Bread would be even better right?  I had a friend give me a rather large zucchini from her garden.  I mean.. large!  I grated it in my Kitchen Aid Food Processor and it made 8 cups of grated zucchini.   Oh the goodness!  I made 3 chocolate zucchini loaves (one with chocolate chips) as well as a dozen regular size muffins with the zucchini and I have 3 cups of shredded zucchini left in my fridge.  This recipe is from Taste of Home.  The result was delicious!

 

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Makes 2 loaves or 1 loaf and 1 dozen regular size muffins or 24 muffins

adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease two loaf pans with cooking spray. (or line 12-24 regular muffin cups with paper liners)

Mix the canola oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in a stand mixer, at medium speed until well combined.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder together with a whisk.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix just until combined.  Add the grated zucchini to the mix and beat just until combined.  Add miniature chocolate chips if desired — it usually is at my house!

Pour half the mixture into a loaf pan and the other half in another loaf pan, or if you wish to make muffins, use an ice cream scoop to measure out the batter equally into the paper lined muffin tins.

Bake loaves for 50-55 minutes or muffins for 18 minutes.

 


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Quick Appetizer and Dessert

I was recently asked to contribute appetizers and a dessert for a function at our church.  I love to cook, and was of course happy to help.  I was a bit of a procrastinator though in planning, so I made 2 simple appetizers and a simple dessert.

The first easy to make appetizer was a platter of skewered cherry tomatoes, mini mozzarella balls and basil leaves.  A drizzle of balsamic vinegar would put i over the  top, but because my appetizer would sit in the refrigerator for 3 hours before the event, I left the vinegar off.

I  found sandwich picks at Smart and Final that were nearly 3 inches in length – longer than toothpicks which is perfect for this appetizer. Here is what you need:

Tomato Kabobs

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  • 3 inch skewers or sandwich picks
  • cherry tomatoes, washed
  • cherry sized mozzarella balls (I used Mozzarella Fresca by Galbani)
  • whole basil leaves

To assemble: Place one cherry tomato on the skewer, followed by a mozzarella ball, then a leaf of basil and another cherry tomato. Place along edge of a round platter and layer until you like the look.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar just before serving if desired.

 

Cucumber Sandwiches

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This is so easy! Cut the crusts of a white bread that you like.  Spread one side of the bread slices with a purchased garlic spread and top with thinly sliced cucumber slices.  Top with second piece of bread that also has the garlic spread.  Slice diagonally.  Serve. That’s it!

Dessert:

Purchased pound cake cut into rounds (or squares) to fit inside your dessert dishes.  I found small 5 oz clear dessert dishes and made 24 desserts for the event.

It does take a little time to assemble and chill, but look beautiful for a short list of ingredients.

Strawberry Dessert

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  • 1 pound cake, thawed and sliced into thin slices
  • fresh strawberries, washed and sliced into 4 pieces (arranged along edge of dessert dish, cut side out)
  • Jell-o (large box) lemon flavor
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 (16 oz) Cool Whip, thawed
  • Whipped Cream (from can)

First cut the sliced pound cake into rounds that fit inside your dessert dish (you need 2 per dessert).  Place one of the pound cake pieces in the bottom of the dessert dish.  Line the sides of the dish with sliced of strawberries (cut side facing out) – my dishes  were small, so I only fit 4 slices in each.  Use more or less as needed.

Prepare the jell-o.  Mix 2 cups boiling water into a bowl with the lemon flavored jell-o.  Whisk to combine. Place the bowl of jell-o into the refrigerator for 25 minutes.  The jell-o will still be warm when you remove it from the refrigerator.  Whisk in the thawed cool whip.  Ladle 1/4 cup of the mixture into the center of the dessert dishes, try not to disturb the strawberries.  Use more to cover the tips of the strawberries.  Cover with saran wrap and chill for about 1 hour.  Remove the desserts from the refrigerator.  Remove the saran wrap and place a second round of pound cake on the jell-o.  Top each dessert  with whipped cream just before serving.

Enjoy!

 

 


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Strawberry Pound Cake

IMG_7259 Strawberry season has arrived in Southern California.  I stopped at a stand and picked up some beautiful berries.  This dessert is one of our favorites and is really simple to make!  My husband likes pound cake more than short cake, so this is our new Strawberry Short Cake. I agree it is better (and easier) to make.

Strawberry Pound Cake

Serves 6

  • 1 frozen family size pound cake, thawed
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced or chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • whipped cream

Instructions:

Place sliced strawberries in a bowl with 1/4 cup of sugar. Stir.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours.

Slice the thawed pound cake into 12 equal slices. Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat.  Melt butter in the pan and place a few pound cake slices in the skillet.  Sprinkle the pound cake with sugar and turn over.  Sprinkle second side with sugar.  After the first side has browned, flip to brown second side.

To assemble: Place two slices of the grilled pound cake on a dessert plate. Spoon some strawberries over the pound cake. Top with whipped cream.

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Authentic Black Forest Cherry Cake

IMG_6893This is one recipe that has been on my “cooking bucket list” for years.  My Mom would make this cake for special occasions, and unusual ones too!  I think my all time favorite memory was the time I was returning to go to Bible School in England after having spent Christmas with my parents in NJ.  My flight was out of  John F Kennedy Airport in NY and my Aunt and Uncle who lived in Long Island at the time met up with us… on a day when  there had been a snow storm and all the flights  were delayed.  So here we were in the terminal of the airport eating Black Forest Cherry Cake and having a mini family reunion with jealous passengers looking on in curiosity!  Great memory!  My High School was located in Kandern, Germany and we sometimes were able to sample the cherries that grew in the Black Forest region.  I have fond memories of Europe and still love to eat the foods in that region. The German name for this torte is Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.

I invited my friend Lori to learn to make this cake too.  I cook much more than I bake.  Baking is exact science and I have to wait for layers to cool before taking the next step and I am often about instant gratification!  Well, we had fun.  The cake was not perfect, but it was delicious!  This dessert is not overly sweet – I think we American’s use way too much sugar in our desserts.  It took us 3 hours start to finish, so it is not a cake you can just pull out of the hat for an event.  Plan ahead!  It really is best if you refrigerate the cake for 24 hours before cutting into it.  The layers will be well refined and the flavors of the kirschwasser will have worked its magic as well.  I did not have the patience to wait even an hour after making it, but had some left over the next day, so I really do have to say the 24 hours makes a lot of difference in the flavor and texture.

The layers consist of an almost cookie crust chocolate layer as the base, then cherries and whipped cream, then at least two (or if you are great at slicing 3)  layers of  chocolate sponge cake which are separated by more cherries and whipped cream. The entire cake is then  covered with more whipped cream that has gelatin as a thickener and topped with cherries and sprinkled with milk chocolate shavings.

My cherries spilled out of the layers and onto the base of the cake, so when I covered the cake with the coating of whipped cream the cream turned pink in color but it was still beautiful to look at.  When I encounter errors like this, I rename it rustic and it is all good!  Perfection is for the 4th time I make this! ;-)  I used a 9 inch spring form pan to bake my cake, my friend Lori used a 10 inch. They both turned out great, but mine was a little taller and actually works a little better for this torte.  Though the original recipe called for a 10 inch.. use what you have.

Cherry Filling:

Image 4-12-14 at 4.10 PMI found Morello Cherries at Trader Joes (24 oz).  They are a product of Germany and are sweet with just a hint of tart. It is with light syrup and needed to be thickened.  I added 3 ounces of Kirschwasser (if you really cannot find any, use Rum).  To thicken, I combined 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water and added them to my pan with the cherries and kirschwasser.  Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 30 seconds to a minute longer and the mixture has thickened.  Then transfer to a bowl and cool completely.  Before you use the cherry filling in the layers pull out 10-20 cherries to decorate the top of your torte.

You could use a cherry pie filling, but I find them to be overly sweet.

 

Bottom Chocolate Crust

Image 4-12-14 at 4.31 PMPreheat oven to 375°F.

Combine the dry ingredients and whisk them together: 3/4 cup flour, 2 Tablespoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking powder.

In a separate bowl, combine 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/3 cup sugar.

Combine the two mixtures together and make a thick dough.

Line a 9 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper. And press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Poke the dough with a fork and then bake for 15 minutes.

After it baked, allow it to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing it from the spring-form pan.  Carefully transfer to your plate. It may crack, but it will be okay. Be as careful as possible.

Here  is a picture of my baked crust:

IMG_6867 I allowed this to cool completely while I made the sponge cake layers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 4-12-14 at 5.04 PMFor the Sponge Cake Layers:

Combine 4 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons warm water, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Beat with an electric mixer until the egg yolks are pale.

Sift together dry ingredients: 2/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup cornstarch, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.

Whip the 4 egg whites with 1/3 cup of sugar until it is stiff.

First add the flour mixture to the egg yolks and combine and then fold the egg whites into the batter using a rubber spatula, about half the egg whites first and then the remaining half of the whipped egg whites after it is fairly well combined.

 

Image 4-12-14 at 5.21 PMPrepare the spring-form pan for the sponge cake by inserting parchment paper both on the bottom and the sides of the pan. I find that butter keeps it in place nicely and since it is outside the paper does not affect the cake any.

Pour the sponge cake batter in and spread it evenly in the pan.

Bake at 375°F for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing it to a separate plate.  Once it cools completely, cut it horizontally into two layers. Try to cut them as evenly as possible.

For the Whipped Cream: Beat 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream with 1/2 cup powdered sugar.  When it is stiff, divide the whipped cream into two batches.  Use one half for the filling and the second half will be used for the topping, but is thickened with gelatin for extra stability.

1 1/2 packets of Knox Gelatin is combined with 2 tablespoons of water and brought to a boil and then cooled slightly and whipped into the second batch of whipped cream.

Now for the fun stuff: the assembly of your Black Forest Cherry cake.

Image 4-12-14 at 5.39 PMTop your cake base with half of the cherries.  Top the cherries with half of the whipped cream (that has not been stabilized with the gelatin).  Top with the bottom disk of the sponge cake and repeat by topping with the remaining half of cherries.  I should have not put as much of the thickened liquid.  It got a little sloppy… but a yummy sloppy, so I am okay with it.. remember if it is not perfect it is rustic!

 

 

 

Image 4-12-14 at 5.43 PMAdd the remaining whipped cream (not stabilized batch). Top with second layer of sponge cake.  Spread the stabilized whipped cream over the top and sides of the assembled cake. Mine should have been whipped just a tad longer, but it still worked okay.

Decorate with a circle of the reserved cherries.

 

 

IMG_6891 Then to finish decorating the torte, use a vegetable peeler and make chocolate curls by “peeling” a bar of milk chocolate over the cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is best to let the cake set up in the refrigerator for a few hours before you slice into it. I am an impatient person though and was so excited to have made the cake that I could not wait to try it though. It turned out beautifully!

And it was as good as my Mom’s rendition too, which is a bonus.. now if only I could conjure up a snow storm and eat it in an airport!

 

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