Cheesing hardcore...the Claes4.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Thin crust delight.
Tonight was a big a deal.  I used yeast for the first time.  Mark another thing off the “before I’m 40 list”.  I don’t know why but using yeast has always scared/confused me.  I guess it is too much like science for me.

I decided to start with something easy, pizza dough.  I chose one that used whole wheat flour only, not whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour (I don’t buy all-purpose flour any more).  This was the recipe I followed:  It took no more than 5 minutes to do.  I let it rise for about 2.5 hours but was a little nervous because it didn’t look like it had risen much.  I’m not sure if it was suppose to double or not.  I went ahead and punched it down and rolled it out.  I really liked how easy and quick it was to roll out.  No more than 90 seconds per crust (one batch made 2 crusts) and it wasn’t sticky at all.  I rolled it very thin since that is what we like.  I pre-baked each crust for about 5 minutes at 400°. 

While the dough was rising, I made some pizza sauce and sautéed mushrooms.  For my pizza sauce I used an inexpensive spaghetti sauce and added sautéed shallots and garlic to it.  I also added about a tablespoon of chopped basil, about a 1/3 coup of sun dried tomatoes and some dry parsley.  I let that all simmer and blend together and then adjusted the seasoning with a little bit of sea salt, black pepper and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  For some reason it seemed a little sour to me so adding the sugar helped mellow it out.  To sauté the mushrooms I sliced them and then added them to a hot skillet that had a little oil in it.  Just let the mushrooms cook down until the liquid all comes out.  Once the liquid evaporates they will start to brown.  You don’t want to add any seasoning to them until they start to brown.

I loaded the first pizza with sauce, chopped spinach, bacon pieces and shredded mozzarella cheese.  For the second pizza I also added a bit of crumbled feta and diced jalapenos.  I cooked them for another 5 minutes at 375°.

This was super easy and really good if you like cracker thin crust.  Next time I will add flax seed, a bit more honey and probably some dried herbs to the crust.  The kids really, really liked it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Kinda Healthy Brownies

Friday night snack attack!
We have been on dessert kick lately and tonight was no exception.  Ice cream alone wasn't going to do the trick so I decided to make brownies.  I was kind of amazed I had all the ingredients.

Here is the list of ingredients I used:
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used 4 ounces of plain unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1 cup white sugar (I used Splenda; follow the equivalent  for 1 cup of white sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used the same amount of whole wheat flour)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) (I did not use nuts)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds (optional)

  • Directions:
  • 1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan.
  • 2.  In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended. Stir in walnuts or add flax seed, if desired. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  • 3.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

  • Verdict:
  • They satisfied the craving but I think the next time I will either use 1/2 white sugar and 1/2 Splenda or use regular flour.  Something was kind of off about it.  I also will up the cocoa powder a bit.  Now that I think of it, adding powdered sugar to the top might have helped a bit.  Overall they are good, just got to tweak the recipe some.  I would actually be fine with my kids having these for breakfast but maybe with some protein powder added.

  • I found this article interesting about substitutions and baking:

Chicken Pot Pie

Fancy schmancy.
Growing up we didn't eat a lot of traditional comfort foods or frozen foods.  So when my Mom would give in and let us get a "TV dinner" I would get a chicken pot pie (or Banquet fried chicken meal) and I loved them.  For a while the church we attend would have Wednesday night fellowship meals catered (yeah...our church rocks... by a local business, the Texas Pie Company (  Their samplings, other than pie, are chicken pot pie, King Ranch chicken, chicken tetrazzini, lasagna and beef stroganoff.  All great comfort food meals.

Recently I decided to make chicken pot pie myself.  For some reason it always scared me before. The whole idea of making pie crust (or bread) confuses me.  But when I realized, "duh...frozen pie crust" I knew I could do this.  Here is a rough description of what I do, along with the ingredient list.


     2 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts (you decide what you want to use)
     3-5 diced carrots
     2 stalks celery
     1 small onion
     2 cloves garlic

     frozen peas
     poultry seasoning, pepper, parsley and marjoram, to taste (I also use a hit of cumin.)
     chicken broth
     whole wheat flour

How to:
1.  Boil chicken in enough chicken broth and/or water to cover.  I used a Knorr caldo de pollo cube (  I would have also added a bay leaf if I could have found them in my pantry.
2.  While chicken is cooking add onion to a medium skillet.  I used frozen diced onion I had put up.  I don't use oil for this part because you just want the onions to start "sweating" not brown.
3.  Once the onions start "sweating" add the diced carrots and celery.  Cover and cook about 10 minutes and then add the garlic.  Again, you don't want to brown the items, just want them 
to get tender.  Add some broth or water if you feel the urge.  
4.  Once the chicken is cooked strain the broth into your vegetable mixture.  I strain it because I don't like the "floaters" you sometimes get when boiling frozen chicken.  Dice chicken to the size you like and add to the veggies.
5.  Taste the combination and adjust the seasonings.  I usually do not add salt because the caldo de pollo cube is salty enough.  Then add about 2 tablespoons flour to about 1/2 cup of water, stir till lumps dissolve and add to the veggies.  I also add about 1/2 cup of milk for more creaminess.  You can use half and half and evaporated milk too.  Bring to a low boil to thicken.  Taste and again adjust to your preference.  
6.  The last step is adding the frozen peas.  I add about 1 1/2 cups.  You can also use frozen veggies in place of all the vegetables but I don't like the balance of what vegetables are 
usually in a package.
7.  Prepare pie crust according to directions for a 2 crust pie.  Add enough of the pot pie mixture to be just shy of the very top, you need breathing room.  I used about 4 1/2 cups of the mixture.  Place the top crust and vent.
8.  Cook according the the pie crust box.  Anywhere from 25-40 minutes, depending on your oven and amount of doneness you like.
*I cook intuitively so all measurements are guess-timations.

Verdict:  My family enjoys this and I could eat it quite frequently but I know they would tire of it.  Harper, the youngest, isn't a fan of it but I think that is her being stubborn.  Marlee, the oldest, really likes it.  It is really an easy thing to do that looks impressive.  You can use what you have on hand or like too.  Less celery, add cooked, diced potatoes...sure.  I think the trick is cooking or pre-cooking everything, that way it doesn't take an hour to cook.  It is easy to double and freeze the extra.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon

What better way to increase your
Omega 3 intake than by covering salmon
with brown sugar?
I have never made salmon so I wasn't sure how it would go over or taste.  Fears tasted wonderful and was super easy to make.  I roughly followed this recipe:
I didn't have any honey so I used a little bit of apricot Simply Fruit.  I also added a bit more Dijon mustard and also included 2 cloves of diced garlic and about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground ginger.  Since it was pretty sweet I also added some lemon juice.  I salted and peppered the salmon pieces by themselves.  The sauce made enough for 6 pieces of salmon but next time I will make a bit more because it is yummy.  I also will eliminate the butter because it didn't seem to make a difference.  I did spray the foil paper with spray and patted the salmon pieces dry before putting them on the foil. Next time I will only make 4 pieces because the kids split a piece while Sean and I each had one.

Even though we all liked this (very proud of the girls for trying something totally new) next time I will do a more savory and healthier version.   I will probably just go with fresh herbs and lemon.  I did like how quickly and easy it was to cook.  I was very apprehensive that it would stick or not cook throughly.

I served the salmon with one of my favorite potato recipes from Better Homes & Gardens,  I've made these potatoes many times over the years and they are just hearty and homey.  We had a simple green salad along with it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Easy Stromboli

Easy Stromboli and salad
After taking a much longer than expected break from this blog I am back.  Well...we are back.  To kick off the relaunch of this blog my 8 year old daughter, Marlee, made dinner all by herself (for the first time) tonight.  All I did was "supervise".

We had decided a few weeks ago we were going to do this so we had a recipe all picked out and had the ingredients on hand.

Easy Stromboli,, was our inspiration.  We followed the instructions of the recipe to a T but we modified the ingredients.  Since my girls don't like pepperoni we used bacon pieces.  We keep plenty, and I mean plenty of bacon pieces on hand.  We buy it from Sam's Club ( We also used sliced mozzarella cheese and a bit more sauce than what it called for.  And that was it...20 minutes later ooey gooey goodness with some parmesan cheese (yeah...the stuff in the can...don't judge) sprinkled on top. This served all 4 of us perfectly.

Marlee turned on the oven, put it in the oven, turned on the timer, checked on it and took it out, all by herself.  I am sooo very proud of her.  Next time she says we are doing dessert with "secret ingredients".

Marlee says:
Hi, it's Marlee. I had so much fun making this and I HOPE I can be on the blog more often!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!