Monday, July 18, 2011

Secret Recipe Club - BBQ Chicken Pita Pizza (and another surprise!)

I found another AMAZING blog club to belong to recently. It is called called The Secret Recipe Club. How much more bad-ass do you get than that? Well, in the world of blogging I guess?

Each month, our ingenious organizer, Amanda of Amanda's Cookin sends each of us a secret e-mail with the name of a blog. At that point it is our job to go through and pick a recipe that we want to recreate. It was so exciting to go through my selected blog this month - The Life & Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch. How awesome of a name is that to start off? Please take a moment to look through some of Shelby's recipes - they are all right up my alley and she takes great pictures to boot! I'm not going to lie, I picked recipes posted in the last three months because I would have had way too many options to choose from if I kept browsing...

The recipe that I chose to replicate is BBQ Vegetarian Chicken Pita Pizza except I omitted the vegetarian part (and the healthy part apparently)! It was a dinner that I will surely make again, especially because it came together so quickly. Don't you just love when quick-cooking recipes taste like a million bucks?

2 pieces pita bread
1 cup BBQ sauce, separated (choose your favorite store-bought version)
3/4 lb chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Hormel real bacon bits 
Sliced jalapeno peppers (optional) - they made their way on my pizza!
1/2 cup Shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses 
Fresh cilantro

Cut up chicken breast into bite-size pieces and place in a zip-lock bag with 3/4 cup BBQ sauce. Let marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook marinated chicken in a frying pan for 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink (this depends on how big you cut your pieces. Place pita bread on cookie sheet and spread 2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce over the top of each (1/4 cup total will be used). Layer pita pizza as follows: chicken, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, bacon bits, cheese. Place in oven and bake 5-10 minutes or until cheese melts and pizza is as brown as you would like it to be!

This pizza came out so good that I decided to cheat and make another one of Shelby's recipes. Surprise! I made the Simplest Pasta Ever - and boy was that name true! It was probably one of the easiest pasta dishes I've ever made and it sure was delicious. It had very "Italian" flavors with the freshly grated Parmesan cheese, garlic and fresh basil running through it. I will be making that dish over and over again. You can quote me on that. 

Tutti Mangia!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Club: Baked - Farm Stand Buttermilk Donuts Three Ways

Jamie: Hey, Shaun - I'm making donuts from scratch tonight.
Shaun: Oh cool!
Jamie: It says the recipe makes only 10 donuts - should I double the recipe?
Shaun: Sure why not.

Why not? I'll tell you why not! I had 45 donuts sitting in my house this week! That's why! I felt like I was running a Dunkin Donuts out of my own house.

I shouldn't complain because they were very yummy. I was a donut-making virgin up until the other day but I sure am glad I was given the opportunity to make them for the first time! The recipe in the cookbook was pretty straight-forward but rolling and cutting out the donuts was a little tedious. I'm not saying it was not worth it though - don't get me wrong! The dough was extremely sticky when I tried rolling it out. Nothing that another 3/4 of a cup a little flour couldn't solve. If you are interested in viewing this recipe but don't want to shell out the money for the AMAZING cookbook, Baked Explorations, check out Gloria's blog. Gloria from The Ginger Snap Girl was our host this time around. She picked a winner with these cake-like donuts!

I came out of my donuts experiment with only one small burn on the tip of my right pinky finger. Not bad for my first time. I consider that a kitchen success! These donuts definitely won high marks for me. You could tell the difference in the shape of the donuts from my first batch to my last batch. Their shape was rounder and more consistent and they were not as brown. I do have to say - these suckers cook quick - really quick! Mine took about 2-3 minutes total, on both sides, to cook up.

Of course I had to try all three of the topping flavors. For some reason my chocolate glaze was very thin and did not hold to the donuts very well. My vanilla glaze came out superb - so sweet, a perfect compliment to the thickness of the cake inside. The cinnamon-sugar was equally as good. As soon as the hot donuts came out of the oil, I tossed them with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Nothing beats a hot donut right out of the fryer - take my word for it!

See how my fellow bakers fared with their donuts here. I'm so proud to be in a baking group with them all!

Tutti Mangia! 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tuscan Pork Chops

Pork chops always get a bad rap, don't you think? They are so easy to overcook and tend to dry out BUT not if you use the right marinade before-hand. The marinade in this recipe brings me back to sitting in an Italian villa eating dinner with Grandma.

That's a lie. I've never been to Italy.

I would imagine this is what a dinner in Tuscany would taste like though...The flavors in this recipe represent my country beautifully. You have the tang of the balsamic vinegar, the fruitiness of the olive oil, the freshness of the herbs and the bite of the garlic... you can't ask for more!

This recipe was adapted from a fellow blogger, Emily at Vita Nostra. She made this dish for only two people but I wanted to make this dish for my whole family. We are a big group AND we like to eat a lot. What Italian family doesn't? Am I right? C'mon - forgedda 'bout it!

Do not be alarmed at the large quantities of ingredients you will see here. Feel free to modify this recipe according to how many people you are making this dish for. It can easily be adapted to feed less people.

14 boneless pork chops
Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp fresh sage
3 tbsp fresh rosemary
10 cloves garlic, chopped
3 lemons, quartered

Liberally season pork chops with salt and pepper.  Let sit out at room temperature while you get your ingredients for the marinade together. Combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sage, rosemary and garlic. Pour over pork chops and marinate for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.

Heat grill to medium high. Grill your pork chops for about 5-7 minutes on the first side. Flip and grill the second side for another 4-5 minutes. (This timing depends on how thick your chops are and how well-done you like your chops to be.) Let the pork chops rest for a few minutes and then squeeze the juice of the lemons over the top. Lucky for me, since I was home on Long Island when I made these, I had my amazing step-dad as my grill partner. It worked out well with me inside preparing the marinade and side dishes and him outside grilling away with a beer in hand!

My family and I made these pork chops with two different side dishes: baked rice and roasted green beans. I've never had green beans roasted before but I promise this will be my new way of eating them. They get sweet, caramelized and crunchy all at the same time - it's a party in your mouth! Thanks for the recipe Mom! As for the rice - this was no ordinary boxed minute rice.

Homey don't play that way.

To make the rice dish, we combined long-grain white rice, chopped onions, olive oil and beef broth, and then baked it all in a casserole dish for about an hour. It came out amazing! It's a very different method than I'm used to but it still kept the rice moist and fluffy. The added bonus was the crusty clumps of rice around the edge of the pan that I picked out all for myself. HE-HE

Tutti Mangia!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Old South Jelly Roll Cake

It's Recipe Swap time!  


Christiana of Burwell General Store, our gracious host, chose Jelly Cake this month. I've been an awful team-member and have not participated in a while but I'm back now! The rules are that each "swapper" must change at least 3 things in the given recipe to make it our own. Of course, you must try to stay true to the intent of the recipe along the way. 

Here is the infamous recipe of the month:

I used my girl Paula Deen for inspiration and adapted her recipe of a classic.The base of this cake tastes exactly like angel food cake. The addition of strawberry jelly and whipped cream was a nice touch. It was refreshing to eat after dinner and didn't weigh you down like desserts often do.

4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup strawberry jelly
Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and set aside. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until light. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla, and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the sifted flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture.

Fold the egg whites into the egg mixture and pour the batter into a 9" x 13" pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until the cake is golden. Cook cake on rack for 10-15 minutes. Once cake has cooled, spread cake with jelly and top decoratively with whipped cream. Serves 8-10.

Those are four very important steps that you MUST not skip when baking this cake. Otherwise, it will not come out as light and airy as it should. You want it to spring back at you if you push down on it (when cooled of course). Honestly, the darn cake is so lightweight, I felt like I could eat the whole thing without any topping on it. It must not be that many calories, right?

The other bloggers that participate in this swap with me are so incredibly talented - you'll just have to check them out for yourself:  Dennis, Toni, Sabrina, Lora, Lindsay, Mari, Mary, Jennifer, Crissy and Lauren, Pola, Claire, Shari, Joy, Monique, Linda, Priya, Rachel, Alli, Katy, Lana and Jaclyn. It's amazing to see how different our interpretations are for each recipe! Visit the swap page for everyone's bios and please visit all of our blogs to let us all know what you think of our inventions.

Tutti Mangia!

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