Sunday, August 27, 2017

Chicken Bake

Costco chicken bakes, the ones from the cafe (or also available to purchase frozen), are a yummy treat my parents used to buy me. Since we don't live near a Costco, I decided to try to make my own. These are a bit more bready (not necessarily a bad thing!) than I remember the Costco ones being, but the flavor is about right. I originally followed this recipe on Redefined Mom but the most recent time I made them, I changed a few things and liked the result a lot better. I used the amounts below and ended up with 4 enormous chicken bakes (one is sufficient to feed my family as a meal with a side of vegetables). I froze the extras to eat later!

Chicken Bake

one batch pizza dough
2-3 chicken breasts, baked ahead of time and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 large onion, diced
6-8 strips of bacon, cooked and cut into small pieces
a few artichoke hearts, diced
2-3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 bottle caesar dressing

  1. (Prep work: bake frozen chicken breasts, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, at 375°F for 35-40 minutes, until done. Allow to cool, then chop into bite-sized pieces. While baking, you can fry up your bacon & drain on paper towels, and make a batch of pizza dough.)
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Dice onion and cut bacon into small pieces. In a large bowl, combine onion, bacon, artichoke hearts, and chicken.
  4. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup caesar dressing and mix until everything is well-coated.
  5. Divide dough into 4 even balls (or more if you'd like smaller chicken bakes). Roll each section into a large rectangle, with dough as thin as possible. 
  6. Generously brush a few tablespoonfuls of caesar dressing onto each dough rectangle. Don't skimp!
  7. Scoop 1/2 cup or so of the chicken-bacon-onion-artichoke hearts mixture unto each dough rectangle and spread out into a single layer, leaving a couple of inches of space at one end.
  8. Generously sprinkle cheese over the chicken mixture.
  9. Roll up dough rectangle, ending at the side with a couple inches of space. Use the extra dough to seal it up. Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Brush with caesar dressing and sprinkle with more mozzarella cheese.
  10. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on the outside. Serve hot; can be eaten like a sandwich or cut into rounds and eaten with a fork.

Pizza dough

We eat pizza on about a weekly rotation. We all love bread and cheese and tomato sauce, so it definitely gets a presence in our diet. Our daughter even requested to eat pizza for her 2nd birthday!

This is my go-to pizza dough recipe over the last year or so (found originally at Chef In Training). It's pretty straightforward and works well for me. If I find a better recipe I'm not opposed to updating, but I'm not actively searching for one. When I make pizza, I often make a couple batches of dough so I can make pizzas to freeze as well. Here's where I originally learned the process for freezing pizzas.

Pizza Dough
yield: dough for 2 pizzas

2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup oil
5 cups flour
  1. Proof yeast in warm water for a few minutes. Add salt and oil; stir to mix.
  2. Add flour and stir well to combine. When it begins to form a sticky dough, pour out onto well-floured surface and knead until smooth, adding flour as needed to keep it more toward smooth than sticky.
  3. Return to bowl; cover and let sit for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Divide in two. Roll out each ball into a flat circle to fit your pizza pan. If rolled very thin it is possible to make a stuffed crust by placing cheese near the edges and folding in on itself (highly recommended!).
  5. Place rolled-out dough onto baking pan (either directly or you can sprinkle some cornmeal onto the pan and place the dough on top).
  6. If making to freeze, follow instructions below*
  7. If making pizza to eat, generously apply preferred sauce (I just use jarred pasta sauce... easy!) and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle favorite toppings and bake about 10 minutes at 500°F, or until toppings are bubbly and crust is beginning to brown.
*To prepare pizzas to freeze and cook at a later date:
  1. After rolling out the dough and placing it on pizza pan (and stuffing crust, if desired), bake for about 6 minutes at 500°F.
  2. Let cool, and if needed, transfer to a surface suitable for freezing. Then generously apply preferred sauce and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle favorite toppings now or before cooking at a later date.
  3. Place in freezer and allow to freeze solid, at least several hours. Transfer to a large ziplock bag or other (preferably air-tight) packaging. 
  4. To cook from frozen, simply remove pizza from packaging, place on pizza pan, and bake at 500°F for 12-18 minutes, or until toppings are bubbly and crust is beginning to brown.
Ideas for pizza toppings
mozzarella cheese
canadian bacon
bell peppers
artichoke hearts
alfredo sauce

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies

These are the easiest and yummiest peanut butter cookies! A friend recently gave me this recipe. I was extremely skeptical at first, based on the simplicity of the ingredients, but it worked, AND they were delicious!

Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies
(yield 2 dozen)

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Mix peanut butter, sugar, and egg together until well-combined.
  2. Scoop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.
  3. Bake 18-20 minutes.
  4. Resist eating them all yourself :)