BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken PizzaWhen you live in North Carolina you start to realize people have some very strong opinions about BBQ. Growing up in the south, but not this far south I had BBQ as a child, but I had really only had one type. Looking back I believe it would have been considered Eastern NC style BBQ – a shredded pork with a vinegar based sauce, no tomato.  BBQ was not something we ate often, but I did enjoy it and I still do.  To be honest I am not a tried or true BBQ purest. I like both Eastern and Lexington style, which apparently there are bills regarding the BBQ in North Carolina.  I may not be a BBQ purest, but I do know that North Carolina reigns in BBQ.  Don’t get me wrong other areas in the South claim to know BBQ, but throwing something on the grill is not the same as pork barbecue slow cooked, covered in just the right amount of sauce and served along side cole slaw and hush puppies.  That is called grilling and I love that to, with just about any type of meat, fish, vegetable; but to me that is not BBQ.

Here is where I allow my own opinions and taste to enter.  Barbecue sauce, which typically when I think of BBQ sauce I am looking for that tomato influenced sauce that tends to be served with Lexington style BBQ or the wet ribs of Memphis style BBQ can add a nice flavor to meats other than pork.  I enjoy chicken tossed on the grill and basted with bbq sauce, or ribs done well and served with bbq sauce on the side.  So for this recipe, I meld my opinions together and create my own BBQ chicken Pizza.  These days you can find a bbq pizza on a lot of menus, but that was not always the case.  California Pizza Kitchen was one of the first restaurants known to have added a pizza like this to their menu.  It was an instant success.  I don’t remember when I had my first taste of BBQ pizza, but I have been making a version of my own since the early 2000’s.  It has changed some over the years as I have realized I prefer to keep it simple in flavor using Mozzarella and a small amount of cheddar or gouda, but only as an additional flavor.IMG_3947

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 Pizza Dough ( my go to is trader joe’s pre made dough)

1 Chicken breast, cooked and chopped*

1/4 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup pineapple, chopped (fresh, frozen in small pieces)

1/4 cup red onion, diced (optional)

1/2 cup Barbecue sauce of choice, divided

3/4 cup shredded or sliced mozzerella cheese

1/4 cup shredded or sliced cheddar or gouda

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

* I find it easiest to plan ahead for this pizza and cook an extra chicken breast a day or so ahead. I prefer to grill chicken and use what we do not eat or plan by cooking an extra breastPreparing the Pizza Dough

Preparing the Dough

Allow dough to sit out for at least 30 minutes to become room temperature. This will make rolling the dough out easier. I did not say it would roll into a perfect circle as that takes skill which I don’t focus on, I just roll and go. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and allow to heat for 30 minutes with pizza stone. Remove hot pizza stone from oven and pour 1 Tbsp olive oil over the stone. Spread it around if you want or the quick and easy way just toss the dough on top. I always try and roll a little more once the dough is on the stone to thin it out and reach the edges of my stone.

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IMG_3943Preparing the toppings

In a small bowl toss together chopped chicken, red onion, pineapple, and red pepper.  Add 3 Tbsp. barbecue sauce.

Assembling the pizza

Remove the pre baked dough from the oven when it begins to turn golden brown in some spots.  If there is an air bubble in your dough allow some steam to escape.  Spread the remaining barbecue sauce on the dough then spread the toppings evenly around the pizza.  Cover with cheese and return to preheated 425 degree oven.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to bubble an turn brown.

Remove from oven sprinkle fresh cilantro over the pizza.  Slice and serve.

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A couple of our favorite pizza recipes

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Traditional Turkey Pepperoni & Veggie Pizza

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Shrimp Pesto Pizza

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Naan Bread Pizza

Baked Apple Yogurt Parfait, What we are Eating

DSC_0608It is Monday again and once again I am pondering what to write, what to eat, and what needs to be done this week.  As I said in late August this is my busy season.  What does that mean exactly?  I am not sure, but I keep thinking it as it just seems that between all the back to school stuff, holidays, and family celebrations, I lose focus because I have so many things going on.  Whereas each year late winter, spring I find myself pining for things to do, such as this project: starting a blog.  Well my post may be more sporadic for the next few months, but I do not want to bore my readers so when I do post, I want it to be a recipe or something that I feel is worthwhile sharing.

Over the past few years, we have become parfait people.  I say we, but really it is Little Miss Mixture who can eat this daily.  There are recipes for beautiful yogurt parfaits all over the internet, but really a parfait does not need to be beautiful and you can make a single serving very easily.  A parfait by definition is a a dessert containing layers of ice cream, fruit, etc. served in a tall glass, so by definition maybe what we eat is not exactly a parfait, but yet a yogurt sundae.  A sundae is defined as a dish of ice cream with added ingredients.  Regardless of what you choose to call it a breakfast like this is simple, healthy, and balanced.  An excellent way to start your day.

IMG_33124th of July Breakfast Parfaits

With the burst of cool air and storms that were expected this weekend if finally started to feel like fall.  Fall to me is about apples.  In years past I have baked apples and I remembered Ihad a recipe for a simple microwaved apple dish.  Using the basis of this but making some changes so as to use honey rather than sugar, I came up with this healthy breakfast.

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Baked Apple Yogurt Parfait   ( Serves 4)

3 Apples, Chopped

1/4 cup Dried Cranberries

1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts

2 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon

1/4 Cup Honey

1/4 cup Water

Combine all ingredients in a glass or ceramic baking dish.  Microwave for about 6-8 minutes or until apples are soft and water has evaporated.

Serve with yogurt of choice ( Vanilla, Plain, or Greek yogurt works best)

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What We Are Eating ( September 7 – September 13)

Sunday – Grilled Chicken and Biscuits, Grilled Okra, and Corn

Monday - Calypso

Tuesday – Pasta and Sausage Bake

Wednesday – Mexican Casserole

Thursday – BBQ Chicken Pizza

Friday – Sandwiches on the Go

Saturday – Night Out / My night off, but not really as I prepared a plate of desserts for a get together we attended.

Pasta and Sausage Two Ways

IMG_3919Last week was busy and we really did not have many family dinners.  In fact between after school activities running late and Mr. Mixture being out of town I got quite a reprieve when it came to cooking dinner.  We were able to enjoy several leftover type meals and breakfast for dinner, as it seems to always be a hit.  When Friday rolled around and I knew we would all be enjoying dinner together after a busy week, I decided to try something off our Recipe Must Try List.  I figured a pasta dish that Little Miss Mixture had picked would be a nice way to end a busy week.

On my initial attempt at Quick Rotini with Sausage and Tomato Sauce, I made some changes that fit into our eating style better.  As it indicated in the initial recipe we found in Cooking Light May 2014, you could substitute spinach for the Arugula.  Well in the last few years, we have become fans of all greens, so when I found an organic spinach arugula mix at the store, I decided it would add a nice touch of flavor to the pasta dish.  I substituted whole wheat pasta for the original called for rotini, as I rarely eat anything else.  I made a few other changes as well as I created the dish for Friday evening.

In the end the dish came out nicely, it had a little heat to it from the crushed red pepper and adding more greens that originally called for provided a nice color to the dish as well as increased the nutritional value.  But the greatest value in this meal was as a family of three there was plenty left over for another meal.  I do not have a problem with leftovers in fact there are some foods that I think are even better the second time around, but leftovers can be hit or miss with the other members of the Mixture family.  So when I decided to revamp the pasta dish for a nice week night meal, I was pleasantly surprised with its versatility.  The pasta dish became a perfect casserole and hit the spot on a dreary overcast day.  In fact it might have been better received and enjoyed than the first go round.

Quick Rotini with Sausage & Greens**

8 ounces Whole Wheat Rotini

Olive Oil

3 (4oz) Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage links, casings removed*

2 1/2 cups Greens (I used arugula spinach mix)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1. In a large saucepan boil water.  Add pasta and cook 7-9 minutes.  Drain pasta over a bowl so that you can reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid.

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2. Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage to the pan and cook about 5 minutes or until browned.  Add 1 cup greens, onion, oregano, crushed red pepper, and garlic.  Cook 2 minutes stirring frequently.

3. Add reserved cooking liquid, tomatoes, sugar, and black paper.  Bring to a boil and add pasta to skillet.  Cook about 2 minutes and add remaining greens.  Toss greens throughout pasta and serve.  Top with fresh parmesan cheese, if desired.

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Pasta and Sausage Take Two Baked

Leftover Quick Rotini with Sausage, and Greens

1/2 cup Ricotta or Cottage Cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup spaghetti sauce ( I used trader joe organic tomato & basil)

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup sliced or grated mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

2.  In a large bowl mix the pasta dish with Ricotta cheese and next five ingredients.  Once mixed well, pour into a ceramic or glass baking dish and top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 for about 20 – 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and pasta is bubbling.  Serve and enjoy.

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**We are a family of three so the original recipe that served four actually stretched to serve us twice since we enjoyed salads with it both times.  In order to get the benefit of this pasta dish two ways, you may want to double the original recipe.

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If you enjoy pasta dishes, here are some others you may like as well

IMG_3029 Red, White & Greens Pasta

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Snap Pea & Tortellini Pesto

Monday’s Mixture: What we are Eating, School Lunches

DSC_0608While the internet and television are buzzing with fall recipes the temperatures continue to be some of the hottest we had all summer.  As much as I want to start baking with my recently picked apples and enjoy the taste and smell of fall, all I can think about it is smoothiesmilkshakes and meals that will not require me to heat my kitchen up.  It is suppose to cool off starting today and I am looking forward to it not only because I love crisp mornings and the warmer days of fall, but I have gotten stuck in too many summer type thunderstorms this past week trying to pick Little Miss Mixture up at school.IMG_3878

1.  What We Are Eating (August 31 – Sept. 6)

It was a very busy week in our house, which lucky for me translates into easy dinners.  Apparently I had overcooked a little the week before which was also to my benefit as we enjoyed several nights of leftover or a revamp of a meal.

Sunday – Family Dinner Out

Monday – Baked Salmon, Spinach & Apple Salad, Macaroni & Cheese (my take on this recipe from 100daysofrealfood.com)

Tuesday – Taco Salad or Cilantro Serrano Pasta

Wednesday – Leftover Indian Food for Little Miss Mixture and I had a Spinach Salad with Baked Salmon

Thursday – Breakfast Eggs & Fruit Salad

Friday – Quick Rotini with Sausage (recipe posted soon)

Saturday – Attended a Surprise Party for a friends 40th

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2.  Kitchen Organization – Now that Little Miss Mixture is back in school, I have to get to work on some random house projects I have on a list.  One of the easier, less time consuming task was to redo a couple kitchen drawers and cabinets.  When we moved in I gave Little Miss Mixture two drawers in the kitchen where we kept her utensils, plates, cups, and bowls.  Well now that she has grown I decided we could decrease her space to one drawer.  I am not a fan of kids stuff, so she has duralex dishes for breakfast and lunch meals.  I still want her to use these as they are a good size , but I do not need her jumping upon the granite.  They say they are nonbreakable, but I do not care to take a chance.  Decreasing her space allowed me to move some kitchen gadgets around and make room for some tasting bowls I recently bought for soup.  Those of you with kids -

Did you use the plastic utensils and cups?

 At what age did you advance your children to real utensils?

 

3    3. Apples – I may not have started baking or making homemade applesauce as yet, but I have enjoyed a fresh apple either plain or with peanut butter for lunch all week.  It is also puts a smile on my face when Little Miss Mixture asks for an apple for her snack.  Here are some ideas I have for using all our apples:  Cinnamon Apple Rings, Brie & Apple Grilled Cheese, Kale Salad with Apples, and caramelized apple pizza.

4.  Lost Tooth – It has been almost two years since Little Miss Mixture lost a tooth.  In fact I forgotten how aggravating it can be when the tooth is not quite ready to come out, but it is scary to brush and hard to eat certain foods.  Little Miss Mixture seems to have a knack for loose teeth in the fall as one year she had no front teeth to bite the apples we picked, then she had a loose bottom tooth which made it impossible to bite into an apple the next year, and now after a two year stent it is apple season and she could not eat an apple for the first two days.  Luckily she came home from school on Tuesday one less tooth in her mouth, and ready to bit into an apple.

5. Baby Animals – Animals do some of the cutest and yes annoying things sometimes.  Thus coming from the person who recently realized my dog has learned to jump on my bed and take things off the night table.  No matter how annoying some of the things they do are just so darn cute and funny.  I find it hard not to smile with some of the things animals do and now a days you can find some great videos that are just adorable.  This video of panda’s playing on a slide just made me happy this week.

6.  School Lunches – It is almost impossible to look through Pinterest or Facebook and not find someone who has tagged a list of healthy school lunches.  I am all about eating healthy and I tend to think Little Miss Mixture has a good repertoire of food she eats, but most of the lunches on the lists I have seen would end up coming home.  In fact I cannot even imagine eating them myself.

My goal is to eat healthy and instill good eating habits.  Little Miss Mixture like me has a sweet tooth, but sweets are limited in school lunches.  Yes, I send Chocolate Milk because I encourage the calcium and protein with her meal and Little Miss Mixture is not a big milk fan all the time.  I choose to pick my battles and I would rather make sure a balanced diet is consumed with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, than to pack something and it not be enjoyed.

Here are a couple of recent school lunches I have packed.

Munster Cheese Slices, Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Wafer Crackers, Apple, Cashews, and Organic Chocolate Milk

Peanut Butter, Honey, and Raisin Sandwich (use bread of choice), Trader Joe’s Organic Corn Dippers, Raspberries, and Organic Chocolate Milk

Nitrate Free Ham Roll Ups with Cheddar Cheese, Cantaloupe and Grapes, Mixture (Pecans, Plantain chips, and Dried Blueberries) and Chocolate Milk

Happy Meatless Monday!  Have a good week!

Cilantro Serrano Pesto Pasta

CilantroIMG_3302

This is an herb that I am not sure I realized how much I liked it until about ten or so years ago.  It was around that time that I realized how nice the flavor was and what cilantro could do to a recipe.  Fresh herbs are great, but the problem I find with so many fresh herbs is you purchase them in bunches.  Rarely does a recipe call for that much.  Now if you are able to plan really well you can ensure that several foods you prepare that week will include the same fresh herb and then none is wasted.  But hello reality that does not work every time and some times just because you bought cilantro or another herb you may not want the same meals each time. Thus if you have the space or the energy growing you own herbs helps this dilemma considerably.  However I have tried growing cilantro and it is not easy.  You see I do not have a green thumb in fact I kill most house plants, but when it comes to garden herbs and plants I seem to manage usually, but cilantro is tough in the south.

The one good thing that came of my brief stint of trying to grow cilantro was some more recipes that utilized the herb.  When cilantro flourishes it does really well, but it has a short growing season and does not do well in heat.  Unlike basil and mint which as you snip them they grow more, my cilantro plants did not do that.  Rather they began to brown.  So in an effort to use all my nice cilantro I started cooking.  If you have been following my blog for anytime you know I love pesto.  So when I ran across this recipe that is a pasta dish but can just as easily be served as a pasta salad, I had to try it.

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Cilantro Serrano Pasta with Chicken 

Ingredients
1 1/2 Cups fresh cilantro
1/2 Cup fresh mint
1/2 Cup parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp toasted pecan halves
2 garlic cloves
1 serrano chile, seeded and sliced
2 Tbsp extravirgin olive oil
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast**
Cooking spray
3 Cups hot cooked penne pasta
2 Cups cherry tomatoes, halved (I used a variety of heirloom cherry tomatoes)

Directions
Place cilantro and next 5 ingredients (through chile) in a food processor; process until well blended. With processor on, slowly pour oil through food chute; process until well blended. Place pesto in a large bowl; stir in vinegar and black pepper.
** Chicken can be prepared one of two ways.    1)Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat chicken with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. 2) Poach or boil chicken until cooked.IMG_3851IMG_3853

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Add chicken, pasta, and tomatoes to pesto; toss to combine.  Serve and Enjoy.

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* adapted from Cilantro Serrano Pesto with Grilled Chicken and Penne that appeared in Cooking Light Magazine

If you like pesto, be sure to check out these recipes that use different pesto sauces in a variety of ways.

IMG_2637Arugula Pesto

IMG_2644Shrimp Pesto Pizza

Arugula Pesto, Caramelized Onions and Fontina

Arugula Pesto, Caramelized Onions and Fontina

Fancy Grilled Cheese

IMG_2833Snap Pea Tortellini & Pesto