Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pepperoni and Cheese Stuffed Pretzel Bites

I found this recipe on Sweet Pea's Kitchen  blog and I have always loved her ideas and inspirations. She inspired me to make these because I love pretzels, all kinds of pretzels from Rold Gold to Auntie Ann's. Whenever they are at a party my hand is always in the bowl.   I had not made pretzels since 7th grade in Ms. Strayer's HomeEc class....that was 15 years ago. I also remember the pretzels looking very anemic and tasting like salted pizza dough.....This pretzel challenge changed my mind-Yes I can make real looking and great tasting pretzels! I will be repeating this recipe again in the future. I want to try stuffing with cheese, sausage, maybe even chocolate.  Here is how mine turned out. 


1 1/2 cups warm water
1 pkg dry yeast 
2 Tbls brown sugar 
3 Tbls melted butter 
2 1/2 tsps salt
4-5 cups flour ( depending on stickiness of dough) 
( olive oil) 

1 package sliced pepperoni 
1 bag shredded mozzarella

1 egg beaten
1/2 cup water 
rock salt 
pizza sauce

1 large pot boiling water 
1 cup baking soda

1. Place warm water, yeast sugar and butter in mixing bowl and use your dough hook. Let rest for 5 mins. 
2. Add flour and salt until dough sticks to your dough hook. ( 2-3 mins) if needed add more flour 1 Tbls at a time.  

 3.  Remove and dough and place in a well oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover and place in warm draft free spot in your house for 1 hour until dough doubles in size.  

4. Turn dough onto an floured surface. kneed until not sticky and divide into 8 equal parts. 
Roll each part into a long rope about 18-24 inches long.  Then cut each rope into 3 inch pieces. 

roll each piece into a flat round ( see below) 
6.  Fill each flattened round with mozzarella and pepperoni and fold into a little round/oval ball. 

7. Preheat your oven to 425.  Now here is where it gets weird.  Take  large pot of water ( I used this 7 qt cast iron pan) filled it with about 6 cups of water and 1 cup baking soda. The water will be milky. Once water starts to boil put your stuffed bites into the water.  Boil for about 30-40 seconds until they puff up and float to the top.  This seals the pretzel and make the pretzel have that chewy outside ( the missing step from my 7th grade ) 

8. drain bites with slotted spoon and brush with egg wash

9. bake on a cookie sheet for 15-20 mins. Remove when golden brown. 

10. Serve warm with warm pizza sauce.  These are amazing. Totally worth the prep and effort.  Well received by everyone. 

**Note** These are pretty time consuming. I made the dough at 7 and after the dough is risen ( about 8:30)  the prep time for 4-5 dz pretzel bites is about 2-2 1/2 hrs.  I was not done with my last batch until almost 11 on a weeknight.** 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo - Olive Garden Copy Cat Recipe

Once again here I am working to copy cat a Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo pasta recipe from the Olive Garden.  I have a always loved to re-create dishes and the chain restaurants always do a good job of putting uncommon elements together.  I find it challenging and fun with no recipe just trail and error. Then I can share it with you!   I was inspired to make this after I entered the giveaway from The Girl Who Ate Everything's blog for $100 to Olive Garden.   I entered last week and I keep thinking about how I'd love the $100 - There is only today left so click on the link and enter! 

Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo- Olive Garden Copy Cat Recipe 

Here is my Recipe and my Tutorial 

Servings:4  Prep time:45 mins. 


1 package fettuccine pasta 
1 hanger steak (about 1.5lbs) or any kind of steak
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup Gorgonzola
1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil  

Balsamic Glaze:
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar  
1 Tbls sugar
1 Tbls balsamic vinegar 

Alfredo Sauce:
1 pint half and half 
1 cup Kraft processed parmesan cheese
4 Tbls butter
3 oz cream cheese 
1 Tbls garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic Glaze (can be made up to 1 week in advance) 
1. Warm saucepan to high heat add 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and reduce to 2 tablspoons this will take about 15 mins on high heat - stir and watch.  If you're not watching the vinegar will evaporate into nothing.  
Add in 1 Tbls sugar (this is optional because the balsamic becomes sweet as it cooks) 
Transfer to a container with a pour spout ant add 1 Tbls vinegar to thin. 
 Should Stick to spoon (maple syrup consistency) 

Set aside 

2.  Alfredo Sauce- Mix half&half, butter, cream cheese and garlic powder  in a saucepan together on medium heat until mixtures blends together and bubbles.  Add in cheese and simmer for 15 mins stirring occasionally. Should be smooth and creamy. Salt and pepper to taste.  

3. Prepare Steaks (Start water to boil pasta here) 
I used my inside Cuisinart grill press but you can pan fry the steaks or gill them on a outdoor grill.  used a 1 1/2 lb hanger stake and cut into 1 in wide pieces. 
 cut with salt and pepper on them (bring to room temperature) 

Pound steaks until all are about 1/2 thick and drizzle with olive oil.  

Grill:About 10 mins for medium rare and let rest 
4.  Assemble:

Mix 1 cup chopped spinach into your Alfredo sauce and turn heat off. Drain pasta and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  

Plate with pasta first, then spinach Alfredo sauce,  sprinkle with sun dried tomatoes. Finish with your steak ( sliced or whole) 2 pieces per pate, add Gorgonzola and balsamic glaze and enjoy! 

*If you're Alfredo is too thick add a little olive oil and or more 1/2 and 1/2*

Enjoy!  (Let me know how it compares to the Olive Garden)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spicy Orange Chicken with Rice

I love Asian food and so does Bill (and Hannah).   This is a repeat for sure and hopefully you can add it to your list. I first saw this recipe on Pinterest last week and I have made this recipe twice.  Modified from Sweet Pea's Kitchen Blog  I added green beans the first time and red bell pepper the second.  

Recipe and Tutorial 

Cook time: 30 mins   Prep Time:20 mins  Marinate time:40-60 mins

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
6 tablespoons white vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup  brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts ( I used 3 breasts)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon cold water
8 small whole dried red chiles (optional)
8 thin strips orange peel
1 tablespoon any kind of oil
Optional : 1 thinly sliced red bell pepper or 2 cup fresh green beans 

1.                   Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, orange juice, grated zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne until the sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out 3/4 cup of the mixture and pour into the bag with the chicken. Refrigerate 60 minutes. 
I doubled the recipe and froze one but made
two bags like above

2.                  While the chicken is marinading, in a large saucepan, bring the remaining orange juice mixture to a boil over high heat. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water until combined and add to the sauce. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the orange peel and chiles; set aside.  This takes about 20 mins on high to reduce. I started in my dutch oven but it my fry pan got hotter so I would suggest using a fry pa
Reduction (not effective)
Reduction Effective - 20-25 mins on high heat should be thick 
I added in the vegetable here to the sauce after i turned the heat off. 


3. Heat  oil in a wok or large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute chicken until browned and cooked through; remove from heat and set aside. Reheat the sauce over medium heat until simmer, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and gently toss until evenly coated and heated through. Serve over rice.

Prior to cooking 

Dinner last night with red bell peppers
Dinner last week with green beans


Modified from: I have been in love with http://sweetpeaskitchen.com  blog and that is where I found this recipe. I found her on Pinterest and have been obsessed with the fun recipe she cooks and finds.  This recipe I modified for 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Asiago Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken and Bacon

I love allrecipes.com and I look forward to their daily e-mail of someone else making suggestions of  what I should make for dinner. I even have a folder in my e-mail that is for allrecipes.com.    I got this recipe e-mailed to me a few weeks back and gave it a try the other night. Here is how it turned out.   Worthy of a repeat! Just what I had hoped it would taste like and look like.  Modified from : Asiago Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

Asiago Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

pre time: 30-40 mins  4 servings 

1cups heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup Asiago Cheese ( plus more for garnish)
1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with equal parts water
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 (16 ounce) package bow tie pasta ( or what you have on hand) 
3/4 cup bacon
1 cup sliced mushrooms ( optional) 
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion or shallots
1 ½ cups grilled chicken breast, diced ( I used rotisserie chicken)
Fresh Spinach

1.       in a large saucepan over medium heat cook bacon until crisp and remove bacon and let cool on paper towel and excess fat drain. At this point you should also heat a large pot of salted water to boil your pasta in.


add in chopped garlic and shallot to bacon fat and sweat the vegetables 3-4 minutes until it is translucent drain off any excess fat and add in sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, broth and heavy cream bring to a boil.  Add the chicken  and back, heat thoroughly. Then add corn starch to thicken. Turn off heat once thickened.


3.       once your  large pot of lightly salted water boils…Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.. Stir in spinach and Asiago cheese into your cream sun dried tomato sauce   

4.       Plate and serve – garnish with Asigao cheese.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Trader Joe's White Pizza with Prosciutto and Arugula

This recipe was modified from Martha Stewarts - Bianca Pizza. It's one our favorite pizza meals and it's a easy one stop shop to pick up all ingredients at Trader Joe's.  

Recipe and Tutorial

Pre-heat oven to 500

Ingredient list: 

  • All-purpose flour, for dusting and rolling
  • 1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic clove, minced
  • 6-7 slices thinly sliced prosciutto  ( or any kind of Italian cured meat)   
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (6 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (1 ounce)
  • 2 ounces baby arugula (2 cups)

this is what my shopping trip to Trader Joe's looked like. 

1 Spread a liberal amount of flour and pizza dough on hard surface and use a rolling pin to roll crust out as thin and large as you can.  

Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 10 mins to pre-bake the crust ( not necessary if you have a pizza oven - I don't ) 

2. While crust is pre-baking mix ricotta, olive oil, garlic, pepper together  and spread on baked crust. 

3.  Put prosciutto or cured meat on pizza and spread mozzarella cheese over the - the ricotta mixture then put the  Parmesan or Pecorino
4. Bake pizza on the oven rack - do not bake on cookie sheet for 20 mins until cheese is melted and golden brown. 
5. Add arugula cut and enjoy!