Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Munchies - Spinoccoli Pizza

Today's recipe was a new one I tried out on Friday night.  My roommate had to work late which is a good thing because my first pizza crust was a complete, unsalvageable (is that even a word?), flop.  I'm still getting the hang of this altitude cooking stuff (living at 6,500 feet really does make a huge difference in cooking and baking, it's crazy)!  But, I tried again with a high altitude recipe, and the second one was a success.  And the pizza was pretty tasty too!  I absolutely love broccoli, it's one of my favorite veggies, so when I saw this pizza recipe on a blog several months ago I knew I wanted to try it.  It reminded me of a pizza version of chicken and broccoli alfredo (except without the chicken).  I like to have some vegetarian meals each week and this was a great option, but I also think it would be good with some chicken or bacon on it if you're not into the veggie thing.  Also, if my first crust worked I had planned to put some caramelized onions on it, but didn't have time since I had to make another crust, and after eating it I think it would be good with red onions too.  The sauce recipe makes a bit too much for the pizza, but it's a perfect dipping sauce for the crust!

Spinoccoli Pizza
White Sauce
1 T. butter
1 T. flour
3/4 cup heavy cream or half and half (I used fat free half and half to make it a little healthier)
1 clove of garlic, smashed (Here is a YouTube video complete with super cheesy music that shows you how to smash garlic!)
Salt and pepper to taste
6 T. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling and light golden, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the heavy cream or half and half, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and bubbles.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated Parmesan until completely melted and smooth.  Discard the garlic clove.

Unbaked pizza crust (although I always bake mine for a few minutes before topping it to make sure the crust is completely done)
1/2 cup packed baby spinach leaves, torn
1 cup of small broccoli florets
2 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz shredded cheddar cheese
Grated Parmesan

Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round.  Lightly brush the perimeter of the dough with olive oil.  Spread a thin layer of the white sauce over the crust, leaving a border clear around the edge for the crust.  Sprinkle the torn spinach leaves over the white sauce.  Evenly distribute the broccoli florets over the dough.  Layer evenly with the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.  Finish with additional grated Parmesan, if desired.  Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Recipe Source: Annie's Eats

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Munchies - Fiesta Chicken Salad

The last couple of days here in Jackson have been absolutely beautiful!  I spent quite a bit of time outside, and all of the warm weather made me hungry for one of my favorite summer salads, Fiesta Chicken Salad!  I love the marinated chicken/veggie mixture, and my roommate agrees that it's better the second day because all the flavors have more time to blend together, either way, YUM!  Last night we ate it as a salad, but tonight we ate it in whole wheat tortilla shells and it was great that way as well.  I'll admit, I used to just eat the chicken/veggie mixture (no lettuce) on chips, I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with any combination of these ingredients!

P.S. Sorry I only have one picture, my camera charger tried to escape the move.  Thanks to my mom and the mailman it will be back shortly!

Fiesta Chicken Salad
Chicken mixture:
2 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 t. garlic salt
Olive oil

Saute chicken until done

Veggie mixture:
1 (16 oz) package frozen corn
1 red pepper (diced)
3 avocados (diced)
1 can black beans (drained)
1-2 tomatoes (diced)
Chopped green onions

Put the above ingredients in a large bowl, mix in the chicken, and pour dressing over all a few hours before serving (in my opinion, the longer the better, however if you want your avocados to stay looking good, add them just before serving).

1/8 t. pepper
1/4 c. vinegar
3 T. honey
1 and 1/2 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. salt

To Serve:
On a plate, break up tortilla chips.  Place torn lettuce on the chips, followed by the chicken and veggie mixture.  Top with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and salsa (and I think it would be might tasty with some cilantro and sliced olives on top as well).

Source: Carrie Robson

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Munchies - Monster Cookies

A few weeks back I had a big bag of M&M's leftover from a cooking project and needed a recipe to use them up, Monster Cookies seemed like the perfect recipe!  Our community group is getting rather large and it's hard to come up with desserts that will feed 20 people, but this recipe makes enough to feed a small army!  I'm sure if you didn't want as many, you could halve or quarter the recipe but my favorite thing to do with leftover dough is to freeze it.  Now, a lot of people just freeze a wad of dough, but scooping them into dough balls first saves a bunch of time when you're ready to thaw and bake them.  After you've scooped the remaining dough into balls put them close together on a baking sheet and pop them into the freezer for a few hours, or until they are hard.  Then, put them in a freezer bag or some other container and you have cookies ready to go at a moment's notice.  You don't even have to thaw them before baking, just adjust the baking time accordingly!  This is an awesome way to have fresh baked cookies ready for friends or neighbors who drop by unexpectedly!

Dough balls for freezing
Monster Cookies
6 eggs
2 c. white sugar
2 c. brown sugar
1 stick of butter
3 c. peanut butter
1 c. Crisco (or you can use more butter)
4 t. baking soda
1 T. vanilla
1 c. flour (or you can add another cup of oats instead)
8 c. oats
1 bag of M&Ms
1 bag of chocolate chips

Combine peanut butter, butter, Crisco, sugars, vanilla and eggs, beat until smooth. Add baking soda and mix thoroughly.  Stir in oatmeal and flour, then add chocolate chips and M&M's.  Scoop onto cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Yield: 6 dozen(ish) normal size cookies (depending on how much dough you eat!)  Also, these are tasty made into giant cookies, just remember to adjust the baking time accordingly!

Source: A combination of my friend Bry's recipe and a similar one from our church's cookbook From Our Table to Yours

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Munchies - Kale Chips

It's Monday again, and my last Monday in Missouri for awhile!  As I told many people goodbye at church yesterday, reality started sinking in - I'm moving in 2 days!!!

Anyway, back to business.  I had seen recipes for kale chips on a lot of food blogs several months back.  Honestly, I have no idea what kale tastes like raw, I should probably try it someday, but for now I'll stick with the roasted crunchy chip version.  I made these for the first time a couple of weeks ago and the consensus was that it was girl food, for the Hoffman family, but maybe your boys are less picky, in which case, you should roast them some kale chips!  These are light, flavorful and pretty quick to throw together.  Although we made them for dinner, I think they would be a really good afternoon snack.  The crunch factor and saltiness kind of make you forget you're eating a vegetable, but I will say the curly edges give it a strange texture, not bad, just strange.  Surprisingly, these also warmed up rather well.  I threw them in the oven under the broiler for a couple of minutes and they crisped right up again, good as new!  So, if you're looking for a quick and easy snack or side dish, give these a try!

Kale Chips
1 bunch of kale
1 T. olive oil
Salt to taste (I love using coarse salt for roasted veggies.  The salt has a more concentrated flavor, so I find myself using less without compromising the taste!) 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Rinse and dry the kale and remove the leaves from the stems.  (I found it was pretty easy to lay a piece of kale flat on a cutting board with the stem pointing down.  Cut an inverted "V" around the tough center ribs, then cut them up into pieces.)  Toss the kale with olive oil in a bowl, then lay out flat on a baking sheet or two, and sprinkle with desired amount of salt.  Bake 20 minutes or until crisp.  (The original recipe tells you to turn the chips over halfway through baking.  However, I'm terrible at reading recipes through, thought I was done with all the steps, went for a quick run and ignored this step, and they still turned out fine.)

Adapted from: The Food Network

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Engagement Rings and Chocolate Bunnies

I love spring and Easter is full of memories for me.  I love that we spend more time remembering and reflecting on Jesus' work on the cross, but I also spend some time each year thinking about Easter 2005.  Most people get chocolate bunnies and candy in an Easter basket, but I was given something most women dream about that year.

We stopped by the pond and he took my hand, got on one knee, showed me a ring glistening in the sunlight and said "Heidi, will you marry me?" and to this day I think that was one of the most difficult days of my life.

I started courting/dating/spending time with this boy in August of 2003.  He was one of my best friends, and we had known his family for a long time.  His dad had loved me ever since he asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I told him I wanted to be a wife and mom (years before we started dating), and I think then and there he decided I should marry one of his sons.  The first time the bf and I met to spend time alone was at the Emerson Drive concert at Trails West.  Our first real date (he asked my dad, picked me up, opened my doors, and no siblings or parents were in the vicinity) was to the rodeo...yes, you read that right, a country music concert and a rodeo, doesn't get much more hick than that!  He was a good guy, ambitious and driven, worked really hard, managed his money well, and was a gentleman.  At the time, I would have told you our relationship was going well, and when I graduated from high school in 2004 he said he wanted to marry me, but when he and my dad had the initial "talk" my dad told him flat out we couldn't get married until I finished college, and bf agreed, saying he would wait.  But 4 years is a long time to wait and although I really do think he loved me, he was getting impatient.  We had visited the marriage option over and over, bringing different scenarios to my dad and every time my dad saying we needed to wait.  We were young and had much to learn, probably more spiritual lessons than anything else.  In one letter he wrote me he said, "But if your dad won't let you get married next fall, I need to change some things, and I need to let God start taking control of my life more."  Um, hello, red flag - so if we are getting married God doesn't need to "take control", what?!  But I was blind to it then.  I think we were both kind of spiritually stagnant, but we didn't fully realize it until later.  We spent so much time working on our relationship with each other that we neglected our personal relationships with the Lord, and as a result there was a lack of growth, and we weren't keeping Christ at the center of our relationship.  A few months later, after some distance, the Lord began to open my eyes to the mistakes we had made.  I wrote that "No matter how much a part of my future "bf" might be, I need to focus on my relationship with Christ first."

On Easter, our plan was that after our family lunch at my house, the bf and I would go to his sister's new farm to spend some time 4-wheeling and then eat dinner with them.  Now, 4-wheeling is one of my favorite activities in the world.  You get to go fast, feel the wind blowing through your hair, catch some air if you go terrace jumping, and feel that "lose your stomach" feeling you get on the drop of roller coasters.  I LOVE it.  Bf knew I loved it and really planned the perfect proposal.  When we got to the house we rode around for awhile, and then we stopped by the pond.  It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, the water was sparkling, and I was doing my favorite activity with the boy that I loved.  Then he hopped off the 4-wheeler, proposed, and by God's gracious mercy the first words out of my shocked mouth were "did you ask my dad?"  Bf said yes, he asked my dad, and I proceeded to ask what my dad said, why would I do that...wouldn't I assume if he was asking, my dad said yes?  God is truly sovereign and merciful!  The next words out of bf's mouth changed everything, "Your dad said no."  

Now, at this point in our relationship, I loved my parents but I didn't think they understood our situation.  I thought I was mature enough to get married, I understood that I was trading life experiences for marriage and I didn't care.  I knew marriage was hard, but I couldn't convince my parents that I knew it.  My relationship with my parents was very strained as a result.  This made the fact that I even asked what my dad said, or cared enough to decline bf's proposal because of it, nothing short of amazing.  To this day, I don't understand it, God had to have put those questions on my heart and lips.  I wasn't being obedient to my parents in other ways.  I thought I knew better than they did; I hated college and just wanted to marry bf so I could begin my dream of being a wife and mom.  But again, God showed me mercy and gave me the courage to tell bf that if my dad said no, then I couldn't marry him.

We skipped dinner with his family and he drove me straight home.  I cried a lot that night, and I think my parents might have been more shocked that I said no, than they were that bf proposed.  We sort of kept dating (yeah, not my brightest idea), but with a lot of distance, and two short months later I randomly found The Master's College online (there's another long, but awesome story of God's faithfulness) and decided I wanted to go.  I left in August and bf said he would wait for me.  But waiting only lasted until September when he called to tell me we either needed to get married that summer or break up.  Again, the Lord had been working on my heart and gave me the courage to tell him that I knew I was where God wanted me, so I guess we needed to break up, and that was the end of it.  Since I was thousands of miles away we didn't talk again...for like three years.  It was hard at the time, but I grew so much through the situation.  I have several friends my age who worry that they are never going to find "the one" that they will be single for the rest of their lives, and that they will die lonely old men and women.  But let me tell you, it's better to live for the Lord, to follow Him and be single, than it is to be married without the Lord in the center of your relationship.  Every Easter I am SO thankful that the Lord is merciful, compassionate, forgiving, and sovereign over all, and that He caused me to decline that marriage proposal, and ultimately draw my heart to Him to show me that only in Him can I find joy, contentment, and satisfaction.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Munchies - Healthy Horseradish Hamburgers

Grilling season is definitely here! Last week our neighbors to the right and left and behind us were all grilling making the neighborhood smell WONDERFUL!!!  As summer approaches and we enjoy the warmer weather, blooming trees, and everything great that comes with spring, we also know that the ever dreaded bathing suit season is right around the corner as well.  This is a great recipe in which fewer calories does not mean less flavor, in fact, I prefer these over a regular ground beef burger.  I'm not a huge fan of horseradish, I don't like the way it overpowers other flavors, but in these burgers it adds just the right amount of flavor and kick without being too spicy!  These burgers are also great all year long, whether you cook them on the grill or in a skillet.

Horseradish Hamburgers
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 c. finely shredded carrot
1 T. prepared horseradish
1/2 t. salt

Stir the beef, scallions, carrot, horseradish and salt together in a medium bowl until well mixed.  Form into 4-6 patties.  Note:  They are a bit more crumbly than regular burgers, but just keep squishing them together, they stick enough that transferring/grilling/eating them is not a problem!

Spray a non-stick rigid grill pan w/non-stick cooking spray and set over medium high heat.  Add the patties and cook until an instant read thermometer inserted into the side of a burger registers 160 degrees (for a well done burger - about 4-5 minutes per side).  Or, throw them on a grill instead!  Also, grill your me, just do it.

If you make 6 burgers, each burger has 205 calories and 5 weight watchers points (not sure about points plus)

Source: Weight Watchers Comfort Classics Cookbook

Also, head over to Ali's blog Gimme Some Oven for a chance to win a $100 Visa giftcard, and check out her great recipes while you're there!