Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cleaning Out The Fridge: Shrimp Pesto Pizza

One of my favorite way to "clean" out the fridge is by using bits of leftovers to make a pizza. Let's face it, most things are better when eaten pizza-style! This week I had some leftover basil pesto, some frozen salad shrimp in the freezer and a few goat cheese crumbles. Why not make it into a pizza?

This particular leftover-based pizza was such a hit I might actually plan it on purpose next time! I think thinly sliced red onions would be really good too. What are your go-to ways to use up those leftovers lurking in your fridge?

Leftover Pizza: Shrimp & Pesto

Pizza dough (click here for my super-easy homemade version)
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
1/2 lb. frozen salad shrimp (defrosted)*
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic (finely minced)

Spread out the pizza dough on a prepared pizza stone or baking sheet and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush the crust with olive oil and sprinkle the minced garlic over the top.

Smear on the pesto, making sure to leave an edge around the crust, then evenly distribute the shrimp. Finish by topping with the goat cheese crumbles and mozzarella.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is softened and the crust is golden. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

*Note: If you have fresh shrimp you'll want to cook them off first, otherwise it won't work well on the pizza and it'll get soggy.

Click Here For The Printable Recipe

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easy & Impressive: Puff Pastry "Pizza"

I firmly believe everyone should have puff pastry in their freezer. It is by far one of the most versatile ingredients in my kitchen and I know I can thaw and use it to whip up a quick appetizer or dessert in no time, and it always impresses!

I was playing around with the idea of doing a "pizza" style appetizer using the puff pastry since my Puff Pastry Tomato Tart was such a hit at one of our game nights. Since we aren't quite in fresh tomato season yet around here, I went for a different taste combo and quickly got everyone addicted to it. I can't wait to do it again!

Note: if you're into tabletop gaming, check out my husband Aaron's blog over at A Little Late to the Table

This brings be back to the magic of puff pastry - you can really customize it with any ingredients you have in the fridge, experiment and create your own flavor combinations! This time I decided to go with bacon, gorgonzola cheese, cranberry sauce and a little fresh rosemary. It was divine and I ate an embarrassingly large amount of it.

Note: I used this as an appetizer, but it would be fantastic as a main course served alongside a green salad too!

Cranberry Bacon Puff Pastry Pizza

2 whole Sheets of Frozen Puffed Pastry (thaw the pastry at room temp. for 30 minutes)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce (or use homemade if you're feeling fancy)
8 slices bacon, cooked through but not too crispy (use this method for no splatters!)
8 ounces gorgonzola cheese (crumbled)
Fresh rosemary (chopped - about 1 tbsp.)

Preheat the oven to 425 and once thawed, carefully open the sheets of pastry. Using a sharp knife slice them in half, straight down the middle. Place the pastry on a large baking sheet lined with parchment or use stoneware (that's what I did and it was perfect).

Chop the cooked bacon into rough pieces and set aside while you brush the olive oil over the top of each pastry piece.

Spread about a 1/3 cup of cranberry sauce down the middle of each pastry (more or less to suit your taste) then add the bacon and cheese crumbles evenly. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Sprinkle the pizzas with fresh chopped rosemary as soon as they come out of the oven, then let them rest 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Recipe adapted from Baker By Nature

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Simple Is Best: How To Roast A Perfect Chicken

Roast chicken in a staple in our house, I love how versatile it can be! I switch up seasonings from time to time and use it shredded in sandwiches, wraps and other meals. Sometimes I just love being able to enjoy it whole and roasted in the oven.

In my opinion, the key to a good roast chicken is seasoning aggressively and not overcooking it. The method I use is to cook it at 400 degrees at about 20 minutes per pound. Still, the best way to make sure you're not over or under-cooking your chicken is to use a meat thermometer and check that the temperature is 165 degrees in the thigh meat. Also, remember to rest your chicken for about 30 minutes before carving so you don't lose all those juices as soon as you slice it!

Depending on my mood and what's in my fridge, I swap out ingredients in the recipe below. Sometimes I use olive oil instead of butter, or fresh herbs if I have them on hand instead of dried, or I might not have an onion in the fridge so I rely on lemon and garlic in the cavity. You really can personalize a roast chicken to exactly what your family likes. Check out my go-to recipe below!

Simple Roast Chicken

1 lb. bag of baby carrots (or cut down regular ones)
1 lb. small yellow potatoes (scrubbed and quartered)
4-6 lb. whole chicken
3 tbsp. unsalted butter (softened)
Salt & Pepper
5-6 sprigs of fresh rosemary (or a few tsp. of dried)
5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme (or a few tsp. of dried)
2-3 fresh sage leaves (or 1 tsp. of dried)
1/2 yellow onion
1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil

The first thing you want to do is make sure your chicken is clean (empty out the cavity of any innards) and dry. Place it on a clean cutting board (not wood!)  and pat it dry with paper towels. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Roughly chop or pick the leaves from your herbs and mash them into the softened butter, along with a good few pinches of salt and pepper. Zest the lemon into the mixture and mix well to combine. Smear the herb butter all over the chicken (inside and out) and make sure to loosen the skin over the breast with your fingers and smear the mixture under the skin. Do a final sprinkle of salt and pepper all over the bird.

Slice the onion into quarters and add it to the cavity. Do the same with the lemon and add it to the cavity (just add as much as will fit).

Add the carrots and potatoes to the bottom of a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss so the veggies are well coated, then place the chicken on top. Tuck the wing tips under the bird and roast in the oven until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165 degrees. If you're concerned about the chicken breast meat drying out before the dark meat is done or that the skin is getting too dark, just tent it with some foil and finish cooking.

When the chicken is done, remove from oven and let it rest for 30 minutes (at least!) before carving. Serve alongside the roasted veggies.

Click Here For Printable Recipe

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