Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pesto Pizza-- Guest Recipe

Steaming hot Pesto Pizza
This recipe comes straight from the kitchen of my father-in-law.  They recently got a new house and he has thoroughly enjoyed experimenting in his new kitchen.  This is one of the many yummy dishes he has come up with.

Pesto Pizza

1 pizza crust
4 oz pesto sauce
4 oz fresh mozzarella cut into 1/4 to ½ inch thick slices and 1 to 2 inches square
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1-2 cloves of garlic chopped
8 oz fresh baby spinach
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 red bell pepper
fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup of black olives halved or sliced
1 oz shredded parmesan or other cheese of your choice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Heat oil in large pan.  Add garlic and saute until just slightly browned. Toss spinach in pan.  Add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Cover and reduce heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally until spinach has wilted.  Drain the liquid and set spinach aside.  Cut red pepper into strips.  Lightly coat pepper and grill with oil. Grill until tender, turning if occasionally.  Sprinkle strips with salt and pepper.  Remove from grill and set aside.

To assemble the pizza, spread pesto sauce evenly over crust leaving a 3/4 inch rim, so oil does not drip while cooking.  Distribute mozzarella, spinach, red peppers and black olives over the pesto.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.  Place pizza directly on oven rack or use a pizza stone.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until center is hot.  Raise oven temperature to broil and brown the cheese for 1-2 minutes.  Remove let cool slightly then serve and slice.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mediterranean Oregano Chicken

Mediterranean Oregano Chicken 

I had a hectic week, but I still wanted to make a special dinner on Friday so I decided to whip up one of my favorite dishes.  I  made a quick run to the store for the feta cheese and olives, but everything else I had on hand.  This flavorful dish is surprisingly simple to prepare and it's both healthy and delicious.
I served it here with a simple side of fresh baby spinach.

Mediterranean Oregano Chicken
6 Chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 tomatoes sliced
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup Kalamata olives chopped
8 oz feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
3-4 sprigs fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
sea salt
1/2 cup red wine (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread a little olive oil in the bottom of a large baking dish.  Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry.  Place in the baking dish and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Lay onions around chicken.  Drizzle chicken with a about 1/4 cup olive oil.  Bake in oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Lay tomato slices on top of chicken.  If using wine, add at this time. Sprinkle with garlic, fresh oregano, parsley and olives.  Then crumble feta cheese over everything.  Raise oven temperature to 375.  Cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake about 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.


Saturday, April 9, 2011


Bangladeshi Chicken Biryani & Brussel Sprouts with Naan and Channa Masala 
After a couple weeks off to tend to my husband and his reconstructed knee, we officially reinstated our Foreign Food Fest Friday.  Last night we chose Bangladesh for country number 53.  I decided to make a Bangladeshi Chicken Biryani and  Brussel Sprouts.  Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you away.  It is well worth the trip to the store to buy some extra spices.  I've never had too much luck making recipes from the subcontinent taste authentic.  But these two dishes brought back memories of when my husband and I were rafting down the Ganges River.

Chicken Biryani

1 lb chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek style)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic
2 saffron threads crushed
1/2 inch piece ginger chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 T ghee (clarified butter) or butter
1/2 onion sliced
pinch cinnamon
1/2 cup cilantro
2 cups Basmati rice rinsed

Place chicken in a glass dish.  Mix turmeric, cardamom, coriander, salt, garlic, cayenne pepper, and saffron in a small bowl.  Stir yogurt into chicken, then add mixed spices.  Mix well.  Cover chicken and marinate overnight.
Cook 2 cups of Basmati rice according to package directions.  In a large frying pan, heat ghee or butter over medium heat.  Add cumin seeds and cook about 2 minutes or until they give off a slight fragrance.  Add chicken and yogurt mix to pan.  Cook until chicken just begins to brown.  Add onion slices, crushed red pepper, and ginger. Add more butter if needed.  Add cooked rice to chicken mixture.  Incorporate rice into mixture so that it absorbs all the sauce and is an even light yellow color.  Add frozen veggies.  Continue cooking until all liquid is absorbed and bits of rice and chicken are browned.        

Bangladeshi Style Brussel Sprouts

15- 20 Brussel Sprouts cleaned and halved
1 cup  baby spinach chopped
1/2 onion sliced
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp mustard seed
1/8 tsp fenugreek seed
1/4 inch ginger chopped
1/2 tsp salt
Juice of 1/2 lime
olive oil or butter

Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add fennel, cumin, mustard, and fenugreek seeds.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Add onions and cook until they start to soften.  Turn heat up to medium high and add brussel sprouts, adding more oil if necessary.  Don't crowd the pan.  If necessary, cook in two batches.  Saute brussel sprouts until they start to brown.  Add ginger, salt, pepper, and chopped spinach.  Turn off heat and let spinach wilt.  Add the lime juice and stir.

Serve Biryani and Brussel sprouts with Dal and Naan bread.  I cheated, and bought Tandoor Chef brand frozen Naan and Channa Masala.     It turned out great, except my son's first reaction was, "Wow that's a little spicy."



Thursday, April 7, 2011

Balsamic Black Bean Salad

Balsamic Black Bean Salad
I love beans.  I never did as a kid, but I guess my palate finally matured.  Now as a mom, I'm always trying to find new ways to infuse fiber into my family's diet. These tasty black beans do the trick.

Fun Fact:  Beans originated in the ancient America's some 8,000 years ago.

Balsamic Black Bean Salad

2 cans black beans drained and rinsed
1 tomato diced
1/2 cup green pepper diced
1/2 cup red pepper diced (can use orange and yellow too)
1/4 cup red onion diced
2 cloves garlic
2 scallions finely chopped
1/4 good balsamic vinegar
1-1 1/2 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
about 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley chopped
1/4 cup cilantro chopped

Put beans, peppers, onions, and garlic in a large mixing bowl.  In a smaller bowl whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper until sugar is dissolved.  In a slow stream whisk in olive oil.  Depending on the strength of the vinegar you may need to adjust the amounts of oil and sugar slightly.  Once oil and vinegar are thoroughly mixed (in suspension), pour over beans.  Stir in cilantro and parsley.  The salad can be eaten right away, but it is more flavorful if you let it sit in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.    


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

We still had a lot of our home made salsa left over, so I decided the best thing to do was to make chicken enchiladas.  They aren't a 5 minute meal but they are so worth the effort!
 Alyssa made the guacamole while I made the enchilada filling.  Then she helped me roll the tortillas.  Her first few turned out a little bit short, but soon she was learning to make them long and skinny.  We also made up some quick Spanish rice (from a box) and refried beans.

Chicken Enchiladas

1 lb chicken diced into small cubes
2 cans enchilada sauce
1/2 pablano pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 can black beans drained
about 1-2 cups baby spinach rinsed and chopped
14 tortillas (depending on how full you fill each one)
shredded cheese (I use the Mexican style)
sour cream (I always use plain yogurt instead--the Greek style is especially yummy)

Fry the chicken in the pan until it starts to brown.  Add the drained beans, pepper, and garlic.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add about 1/2 of 1 can of enchilada sauce.  Cook down until sauce is thick, about another 5 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook until just wilted.  Add the about a cup of the shredded cheese.  Stir until melted.
Spread a couple tablespoons of enchilada sauce into the bottom of a rectangular baking pan.  Take a scoop of filling and lay it in a line on the tortilla.  Fold in the sides and then roll it tightly so it is long skinny roll.  Place in pan seam side down.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas, placing them tightly together.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the tops and spread out to cover them.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese. I use about 1 1/2 cups of cheese, use more or less as you like.


2 ripe avocados diced
1 tomato diced
1/4 cup red onion diced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
jalapeno diced (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro chopped

Mash avocados until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly.