Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cheesy Muffin Pizzas

I buy a rotissiere chicken every week and I'm always looking for fun new ways to use up the leftover meat.  I happened to catch an episode of Giada at Home where she made these cute little Cheesy Muffin Pizzas with a ball of pizza dough, one leftover chicken breast, and lots of cheese. They caught my attention right away and I thought they'd be a perfect after school snack for the kids.  I was right.  It's always a sure bet that everyone loves anything miniature sized, especially kids.    

These cute little mini pizzas are a savory combination of diced chicken breast, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, mascarpone cheese, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and chopped spinach.  The cheese gets all bubbly in the oven and they bake up to the beautiful golden brown.  All twelve of these mini pizzas were devoured in record time.

Cheesy Muffin Pizzas
Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 3-4

one chicken breast cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup chopped baby spinach
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/3 cup purchased tomato-basil sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil, for coating muffin tins
all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 pound ball fresh pizza dough
 In a large bowl, combine the chicken, mozzarella, spinach, mascarpone, Parmesan, tomato-basil sauce, basil, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper.

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Brush a standard 12-cup muffin pan with olive oil.

Lightly flour a work surface. Roll out the pizza dough to a thin large round, about 1/8-inch thick. Using a 3 1/2- to 4-inch-diameter round cutter, cut out 12 rounds for pizza crusts. Working with 1 crust at a time, settle 1 dough round into the prepared muffin pan. Press and pull the dough up the sides of the cup. Rotate the pan and repeat until the dough covers the bottom and sides. Pack in 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and filling.

Bake the pizzas until the crusts are golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 16 to 18 minutes. Let stand 5-6 minutes. Then use a small knife to loosen the pizzas. Arrange on a platter and serve.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Frozen Vodka Slushie

I love a good frozen cocktail and this Frozen Vodka Slushie is simply fantastic!  I love the icy consistency and the bright burst of citrus flavor.  At first I had reservations about making the entire recipe just for myself, but as soon as I tasted it I knew I would have no trouble polishing this off in a matter of days.  This is such a refreshing cocktail and I can definitely see myself making it again when the need arises for a special adult beverage.

Frozen Vodka Slushie
Adapted from Entertaining 
by Donna Hay
Serves 4

1 cup sugar
4 cups water
1-1/2 cups lemon or lime juice
1/2 - 3/4 cup vodka*
Slices of lemon or lime for garnish
*Notes: I used a citrus infused vodka

Place the sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil for a minute or two until the sugar dissolves.  Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding the lemon or lime juice and vodka.  Place the mixture in a shallow container and leave in the freezer for 2 hours.  Stir with a fork and freeze for another 2 hours or until firm.  Break the ice with a fork or blend until smooth and serve with immediately.  Slushie looks pretty served with slices of lemon or lime.

Theme: Raise Your Glass!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fusilli with Broccoli Pesto

Every woman in my family has one green vegetable they crave like crazy.  My mom craves asparagus and always says her body feels great as soon as she eats it.  My daughter craves green beans and will pretty dominant the entire pan if I let her (and I do).  I crave broccoli regularly so I pretty much always have a head or two in the fridge at all times.

This is the kind of pasta dish I could easily make once a week and never tire of.  It's a super quick one pot wonder brimming with loads of fresh broccoli flavor, lots of creamy Parmesan cheese, and a hint of garlic.  This dish really satisfies my broccoli craving and let me just say...there were no leftovers!

Fusilli with Broccoli Pesto
Adapted from Delta Kitchen
and Donna Hay's Fresh and Light
Serves 4

1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
250 g pasta
1 cup pasta water
Parmesan cheese

Set a large pan of water to boil.  When the water comes to a boil blanch the broccoli for 2-3 minutes.  Remove the broccoli and add the pasta.  Cook pasta until al dente, removing about a cup of pasta water before draining.  In a food processor, blitz together the broccoli, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the cooked pasta, using the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce as desired, add the desired amount of Parmesan and stir.  Serve with more Parmesan, if desired.

Theme: Getting Saucy!