Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chicken Club Pizza

When I first saw this recipe in a magazine it reminded me of something I once ordered at California Pizza Kitchen. It was so incredibly delicious and I loved the lightness of it. You can eat a couple of big pieces and not feel guilty. As usual, I used chopped rotisserie chicken. You will need:
1 can refrigerated pizza crust
1/4 cup reduced fat Mayo (I used the Mayo with Olive Oil)
1/2 c. ranch dressing, divided
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 c. cooked, chopped chicken
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 c. shredded lettuce
1 tomato, finely chopped

Begin by rolling out the pizza dough onto a cookie sheet or bar stone. Tap your fingers all over the top to give it ta little texture. I also brushed my crust with olive oil, Italian seasoning and a clove of pressed garlic. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. This is what it looked like after it was baked. Mix the mayo and half the ranch dressing and spread it over the top of the baked crust. Top with half the cheese, then the chicken, then the rest of the cheese, then the bacon. Bake an additional 5-8 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned. Before serving, top with shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes and drizzle with the remaining ranch dressing.

What the Chayote?

These came in the Bountiful Basket this week and for the first time, I had to ask the volunteers, "What is THIS?" One of the men said, "It's some type of squash". I had no choice but to go to the grocery store and look for one to see if I could figure it out. To my surprise I easily found them.

This, my friends, is a Chayote squash (pronounced Chee-o-tay). It is from Latin America and is similar to a zucchini, but more mild. How anything can be more mild than zucchini, I do not know. I am going to cook it up this afternoon and try it with a little butter and salt. What a fun food adventure.

Zucchini Muffins

The past few weeks I have been participating in the Bountiful Baskets program. If you don’t know what that is, you should click here and start participating. Last week, four zucchini were in the basket and I was delighted. I cut some up and threw in a pasta salad, made four loaves of zucchini bread, and finished out the week with these amazing muffins. They turn out perfectly moist and are just the right amount of sweet.

2 ¼ cups flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

3 eggs

½ c. canola oil

¾ c. sugar

½ c. brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

½ c. sour cream

3 cups shredded zucchini

Optional add ins: zest from an orange, chopped walnuts or pecans

In a small bowl mix the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder with a whisk, set aside. In another bowl, beat the eggs, oil, both sugars and vanilla until well mixed. Stir in the sour cream, the zucchini, and any mix-ins you like. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (don’t over mix!) Spray 2 (12 count) muffin tins with cooking spray or line with paper liners. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-18 minutes. Makes approximately 20 muffins.

Quickest Chicken Salad

What’s the first thing that comes in to your mind when I say “chicken salad”? Is it WEDDING? When I was a little girl I loved to go to weddings and they would always serve a cream puff (I now call them profiteroles) stuffed with chicken salad, some type of slushy punch and a little mint. I loved it so much that it became the menu at my own wedding. Chicken salad has grown up since then and this recipe is a definite upgrade. I love adding sweet mix-ins such as grapes or Craisins. 2 cups breast meat from a rotisserie chicken, chopped*
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
3 green onions, chopped fine
1/2-1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. coarse grain mustard (I use Grey Poupon)
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Mix ins: Dried cranberries (Craisins), Chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts), zest from a lemon, red grapes, halved

Place chopped chicken in a bowl along with celery and green onions. Add the mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined – I always start out with ½ cup mayo, then add more if it seems a little dry. Just before serving, stir in any mix-ins that you like. Serve on rolls or croissants with a leaf of fresh green lettuce. Store covered in refrigerator up to 3 days.

*Instead of using rotisserie chicken meat, you could also cook 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and chop them up. For convenience, I buy the rotisserie chicken, remove and chop the breast meat for this recipe, then remove all of the dark meat from the legs and thighs and use it to make soup later in the week.

Mango Sticky Rice

Kudos to my friend Kelly for introducing me to this Asian inspired dessert. I loved it so much that I ventured to the Asian market for the very first time to buy the ingredients and even bought a sticky rice pan and basket. This is one of my favorite desserts to make...totally addictive! You can't use just any rice for this recipe. I buy sticky rice at the Asian market. They sell small bags of it for about $7. You have to soak the rice in water for at LEAST 24 hours before cooking, so you'll want to start in advance. Pour about 2 cups of rice into a bowl and cover with several inches of water. When ready to cook drain the rice. I had to buy a special pot and basket to make the sticky rice, but it was really cheap (less than $10 for both). Fill the pan with several inches of water and heat over stove. Once the water starts to boil, add drained sticky rice to the basket, place the basket over the boiling water, and cover the top with a lid to seal in the moisture and allow the rice to steam. While the rice is steaming (it will take about 10-15 minutes), pour a can of coconut milk into a small saucepan and add about 1/4 cup sugar. I use the Splenda Sugar Mix, so I only add about 2 T. of that. Heat and stir until it starts to steam and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside. Every few minutes, stir the sticky rice. You will know it's done when it starts to stick together in one big ball and pulls away from the sides of the basket. You will also want to taste test it to make sure it isn't still crunchy. Slice some ripe mangoes in small strips and set the strips aside. Once rice is done, assemble the dessert by placing a scoop of rice in a serving dish and then pouring about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the coconut mixture over the top. Finish with slices of mango and serve warm. YUM!