April 25, 2012

Pin It Whole Wheat BBQ Chicken Calzone

Taken From How Sweet It Is

Week 17
You see my new "Pin it" button?  Yeah, I did that.  I learned how to use computer code and put it into my blog template by editing my HTML template and expanding my widget template...whatever any of that means.  The point is, not only did I successfully add the pin it button to my blog but I figured out how to read computer code enough so that I could put the pin it button exactly where I wanted it, instead of at the end of the post like the directions explained.  So yay me, I've reached a new level of blogger dorkiness but it was still a pretty exciting accomplishment.

On to the food! This was my first attempt at making a calzone and I'd say it was a huge success.  I did cheat a little though by not making my own dough.  I would have, as it seemed pretty straightforward, but I did not have the hour and a half that it needed to rise.  Instead, I picked up a ball of whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe's ($1.99 and absolutely worth it).  In Jessica's recipe, she had honey in her crust, which sounded really good.  To recreate this, my intention was to spread a little honey on my dough before filling it with its guts, but I forgot. Oh well, I'll try it next time.

I boiled 2 chicken breasts for ~15-20 minutes.  I had called my mom to ask how long chicken takes to boil, she told me 1-2 hours. Oh Mom, now we both know :) I let the chicken cool a bit then shredded it and set it aside. I caramelized the onions in a little olive oil for ~30 minutes and set those aside as well.   The TJ's dough has to sit out of it packaging for ~20 minutes to rest (which I always forget) so I did that while the onions were cooking and I also seasoned the chicken and shredded some cheese.

One thing I tweaked was that I used a 1/4 teaspoon of both garlic and onion powered... because I wasn't sure which was right.  In Jessica's ingredient list she said onion power, but in her directions she said garlic powder so I used both!

Since I used the TJ's dough and didn't exactly make mine mini, I ended up with 4 calzones (Jessica's recipe makes 6-8) and extra filling (chicken, cheese and caramelized onions). I could have managed more calzones out of my dough had I made them smaller but I think I still would have had leftover filling.  I used 2 chicken breasts and a really big red onion so there you go... I figure any leftovers would be great in a salad. 
Shredded and seasoned chicken breasts.
Caramelized red onion, the house smelled delicious.
Filled calzone.
Mid-sealing. It was actually much easier than I anticipated. 
Professional looking calzone, I was pretty proud.
Drizzled with a little olive oil to try and get a nice sheen going.
Done! A mini plate and a not-so-mini calzone.
Gooey and delicious insides.
Poor Tom always has to wait until I get a good picture before he can eat, but I think it was worth the wait. Great, easy weeknight recipe! Obviously you can fill a calzone with whatever you want, but this was a classic flavor combo that turned out great.

April 23, 2012

Pin It Milk Chocolate Filled Snickerdoodles

Taken From Cookies and Cups

Week 16
Sun warmed melty cookies (90˚ weather at Picnic Day in Davis will do that).
Mmmm, you want one don't you?  It's ok, that's how I felt when I came across this recipe. The visually induced salivating pared with the fact that I have cream of tartar in my cupboard equaled a destiny with these cookies.  I actually bought the cream of tartar months ago with the intent to make snickerdoodles and it has just been sitting idly by in my cupboard...sad and unused.  Well I heard its cries and put it to good use with these babies!

PLUS I bought a muffin top pan last weekend with the sole intention of using it to bake deep dish cookies.  You should be impressed I was able to wait the whole week to break it in.

Because I tend to strive for a good lookin' cookie, I ended up making this recipe multiple times over the course of the weekend.  I starting out following the Cookies and Cups recipe and I will show you the sequence of events of that first batch.

I mostly followed the directions for the dough, although I made a few minor changes.  The first step tells you to mix all the wet ingredients together.  I like to cream the butter/shortening and sugar first, THEN add the eggs one at a time.  If you beat everything together (specifically the eggs and butter) there is a reaction that essentially cooks the eggs, and you end up with a cakey cookie.  I've done this before by accident and it was very disappointing.

Also, the instructions for this recipe never tell you to when to add in the vanilla; you can add this after the eggs have been incorporated.
I wanted to fill these with dark chocolate but they were out at the store so I bought Dove milk chocolate squares instead.  White chocolate was not even in the cards for me as I'm not a huge fan, but I'm sure it's really good....if you're into that.
So I followed this recipe for my first pan and got less than ideal results.  I'm referring specifically to how much dough it says to use for each deep dish cookie.  The recipe said to use a heaping 1/4 cup of dough for each cookie. This was WAY too much...and I will show you why.
1/4 cup of dough with 2 chocolates.
This is what a 1/4 cup of dough with 2 chocolates inside looks like.
This is what it looks like inside a standard muffin top pan.
Full pan using 1/4 cup dough balls.
And this is why 1/4 cup dough it WAY to much.

The idea behind the a deep dish cookie is that they remain contained within the confines of the muffin top pan, and do not spill over.  As you can see, 1/4 cup of dough is just too much to be contained within my muffin top pan, which, to my knowledge it the standard size.
Close-up of spill-over cookie.
Muffiny-top cookie
Inside muffiny-top cookie.
Not quite right but still yummy.
So this is not what it is supposed to look like, but this batch was still delicious.  This is a really good snickerdoodle recipe.  You end up with a moist chewy cinnamon-sugary cookie. I highly recommend it. You can also make these as regular cookies on a normal cookie sheet, with or without chocolate inside. If you are making regular cookies, bake for 8-10 minutes.

After my first pan full (which was only 6 cookies, but did use quite a substantial amount of dough, ~1.5 cups) I tried smaller and smaller amounts of dough.  
I don't have measurements but am showing the dough balls in the muffin top pan for perspective.
Same pan as above. Smaller dough balls, but not small enough...
The end of day one also resulted in ~8 more cookies that looked like this:

This is closer to what I was aiming for and I had run out of time and dough, so I stopped here for the day. I took the best looking of my batches to Picnic Day up in Davis, which was a blast!  It's a big alumni, open house day filled with fun events like weener dog races and deep fried Twinkies (AKA fun for the whole family) with a slightly different take if you are a current student (maintain a specific state of inebriation throughout the course of the day hoping for as few bad choices as possible) ;)

It was super fun being back on campus and the amazing weather (90˚) made it even better.

On Sunday, I made one final attempt to find the prefect amount of dough for these deep dish cookies so I could bring them as dessert to a BBQ...and I think I got it.

I cut the recipe in half (because I really don't need that many cookies) which worked out nicely. Unfortunately, I didn't measure the final dough amount, but I hope the pictures below will give you enough perspective to replicate. I'd say they are probably closer to 2.5 tablespoons of dough (2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup). I also did not press them into the pan at all before baking, I just placed them in the center of the greased circle and they turned out great!
Perfect sized dough balls, rolled in cinnamon and sugar.
See how he glistens with pride?
I baked them for ~12 minutes and let them cool for ~5 minutes before removing them from the pan.  If you try and take them out too early they will get all squished and sad.
Cooling to maintain their integrity.
Have you ever seen such an organized stack of cookies?!

I ended up with a little extra dough, not enough to fill with chocolate, but just enough to make the cutest little snickerdoodle. I then stacked him on top of his chocolate filled buddy.
Mini is getting a piggy back ride.
Chocolate gooey insides (and Bonnie's feet).
In the end, I was very happy with my results.  I now have a great snickerdoodle recipe (whether you fill them with chocolate or not) and can't wait to make more deep dish cookies!

April 16, 2012

Pin It Sweet Potato Shepard's Pie

Week 16

I've actually made this recipe before, probably sometime last summer, but thought I'd give it another whirl.  I didn't remember loving it but also didn't dislike it enough to remove it from my recipe binder.  Last time I made it I remember I used ground turkey, which may have been why I didn't love it.  I feel ground turkey always ends up a little dry and just doesn't have as much flavor (AKA fat) as beef.  This time around I used ground beef and it was way better! If you are not of the red-meat-eating persuasion, ground turkey is a good alternative.  However, I would recommend adding a little more seasoning to the recipe and also not cooking off as much of the liquid before putting it in your casserole dish.

I actually really liked this recipe this time, plus it makes a ton!  It says 4 servings, but I would actually break that down to: 4 large man-sized servings or 6 lady servings. Basically, enough for my lunches for the week.

This recipe is fairly simple and only requires minimal chopping and prep work, my favorite.  I did have a cry fest while chopping and abnormally large yellow onion but that is par for the course for me. The flavors may seems a little odd at first, but trust me, they all work really well together.  I've never actually made a traditional Shepard's pie, but I would definitely recommend making this quirky variation.
Melting pot of flavors and colors.
Smashed sweet taters.
Beef/veggie layer loaded into casserole.
Topped with mashed sweet potatoes, olive oil and some S&P.
Not the most photogenic meal but very tasty.

April 14, 2012

Pin It Black Bottom Cupcakes

Taken From Bakerella

Week 15

To mark the end of Passover, I wanted something delicious to break my week of eating no grains, beans or sweets. I looked through all the desserts on my list of recipes I want to try (the majority of which are sweets) and this was the winner. I mean, how could it not be?! It has all my favorite things: bananas, chocolate, cream cheese, chocolate chips, all in one!
Although this recipe does have several components, it was fairly simple.  I think my favorite part is that there is banana in both the chocolate part and the cream cheese part, score!
Dry ingredients for chocolate layer.
Chocolate batter.
Cream cheese, banana, chocolate chip mixture.
Loading up the cupcake liners.
Adding the cream cheese mixture on top.
I may have put too much chocolate batter into the cupcakes, as the layers were definitely not half and half. However, after looking at Bakerella's pictures again, it doesn't really look like hers were half and half either, so maybe I did it just right.  Since the cream cheese layer doesn't have any flour in it, it's much runnier, and not exactly batter consistency. I think if the cream cheese layer were half of the cupcake, you'd have a very un-solidified top half. I actually had some left over cream cheese mixture and baked a cupcake that was made entirely of that.  The final product was pretty gooey and didn't really seem like it ever really cooked through.
All ready for the oven! Fingers crossed they don't overflow...
Tada! A little brown on edges from non-stick pans, but all is well.

So in the end, it turned out to be a banana chocolate cupcake with a cream cheese, banana, chocolate chip top, but I actually think that's what it was supposed to be, so...success!  It was a great way to ease back into sweets and grains and carbs.  Ok, so maybe not "ease" but it was just what I wanted J

April 8, 2012

Pin It Creamy Avocado Yogurt Dip

Taken from Two Peas and their Pod

Week 15

Eating out during Passover is hard. So is going over to other people's houses for dinner. I was going over to Tom's parent's house for dinner this weekend and was going to contribute an appetizer to the mix. I debated about what I should bring, but in the end figured it should be something I could eat too (which narrows it down a lot during the week of Passover). I didn't come across too many appetizer type recipes in my blog searches that both looked good and was something I could eat. Actually, this was really the only one, so I went with it!

It was very easy to make, even though I don't have a blender or food processor.  I doubled the recipe to make sure there was enough for all and used my immersion blender to smooth it out. I left out the jalapeno (because I can't do spicy) and the only other thing I tweaked was that I only put in ~1/3 teaspoon of cumin (not quite doubling that ingredient).  Unless you really like the smell/taste of sweaty man, I would leave the cumin out altogether.  It's a pretty overwhelming flavor and if I made this again, I would skip it.  Other than that (which I think only bothered me), it seemed to be a hit. I cut up some peppers, celery and put out baby carrots as dippers. I would definitely recommend this as an easy, healthy (I used non-fat Greek yogurt) dip for entertaining.  Just making sure there is no one with an aversion to cilantro J.
Dip was matchy-machy with my new C&B bowls.
Colorful veggies to accompany dip.