Category Archives: kitchen tips

feta, cheddar, and spinach muffins

Standard

feta, cheddar, and spinach muffins  I  frozen pizza, again?

 
I am not a fan of muffins because they are typically sweet. (I have the opposite of a sweet tooth; I have a salty tooth.) But I found these non-sweet muffins quite tasty, probably because they are more like biscuits than muffins.

I was a little nervous about trying this recipe because it is written in metric units (and I’m terrible at math), but the conversion part was solved for me when I remembered that the digital kitchen scale Russell got me for my birthday has both ounces and grams.

 
feta, cheddar, and spinach muffins  I  frozen pizza, again?

 
Feta, Cheddar, and Spinach Muffins
From the Kitchen of: I Like Ginger Biscuits

Prep Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12 muffins
Difficulty: Easy

{Ingredients}
2 ¼ cups/ 300 grams all-purpose flour (a slightly rounded cup is okay)
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 egg
1 cup/ 220 ml milk (I used 2%)
2 Tbsp/ 30 grams butter
half a red onion, chopped (I think you could substitute any onion)
2 ¾ well-packed cups/ 130 grams fresh baby spinach after stems have been removed
1 ⅓ cups/ 100 grams shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup/ 150 grams crumbled or chopped feta cheese

{Instructions}
Preheat oven to 325°F/ 170°C/ gas mark 3. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.

Melt butter in a sauté pan; add chopped onion and cook until soft and browned.

While onion is sautéing mix together flour, baking powder, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl whisk together egg and milk. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients; stir to combine.

Chop the spinach into small pieces. Add both cheeses, spinach, and onion to ingredients in the large bowl and stir to incorporate. You may need to add a couple splashes of milk if the batter is too dry or won’t mix well.

Kitchen Tip: An easy way to chop spinach – stack several leaves on top of each other. Cut into strips, then rotate 90 degrees and slice again. Run knife through pieces a few more times until you achieve desired size of pieces.

Scoop into muffin pan using an ice cream scoop (this gives them a nice rounded shape). The muffin cups should be at least ¾ full.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. (There may be a few crumbs or melted cheese on the toothpick, but the crumbs will look done. If the crumbs come out translucent and underdone stick the muffins back in the oven for few minutes at a time until cooked all the way through.)

{Notes}

  • The batter will be very dense, more like biscuit dough, and the muffins will not rise much in the oven.
  • Though cayenne is usually a spicy ingredient, in these muffins it just kicks up the flavor (but without the heat).
  • The amount of chopped spinach called for is 2 ½ cups, but I only used 1 ½ cups of chopped spinach because I didn’t think an extra cup would actually mix into the batter.
  • I do not recommend using muffin cups for this recipe because the muffins will stick to the paper.


-♥-
Katy

 

 
 
If you liked this recipe, you might also be interested in:

impossible ham n swiss pie  I  frozen pizza, again? sausage cheese crescent squares  I  frozen pizza, again? cheddar bay biscuits  I  frozen pizza, again?
Impossible Ham ‘N Swiss Pie // Sausage Cheese Crescent Squares // Cheddar Bay Biscuits

kitchen tip: perfectly shredded chicken in a snap

Standard

This tip comes from the kitchen of Simply Healthy Family.
kitchen tip: perfectly shredded chicken  I  frozen pizza, again?

 
 
Attach paddle/flat beater to KitchenAid stand mixer. Place WARM/HOT chicken in mixer bowl. (Refrigerated chicken is harder and may harm your mixer.)
kitchen tip: perfectly shredded chicken  I  frozen pizza, again?

Look at that steam!

 
Turn to speed 4-6, and in 20 seconds you will have perfectly shredded chicken!
kitchen tip: perfectly shredded chicken  I  frozen pizza, again?

 
 
{Note}
The last time I shredded chicken this way I put in 4 small-medium breasts (shown in photo above) at speed 4, and my mixer started to shake a bit and make an odd noise. I had to lower it to speed 2 to finish shredding the chicken. I have tried this trick before and had no problems, though I can’t remember how many pieces of chicken I put in the bowl, so I’d recommend sticking with three medium-sized pieces at a time.

 
Now you can use this tip when you make Lime Chicken Taco Bowls, White Chicken Enchiladas, or any other recipe requiring shredded chicken!
 


-♥-
Katy

 

 
 
If you liked this kitchen tip, you might also be interested in:

burned dessert top  I  frozen pizza, again? honey tip  I  frozen pizza, again? hummus broccoli  I  frozen pizza, again?
How Not to Ruin Dessert // How to Easily Measure Out Honey // The Best Way to Cook Broccoli

cheesy italian quick bread

Standard

cheesy italian quick bread  I frozen pizza, again?

 
This bread is the reason that I requested a pastry blender for Christmas this past year. I had no idea that pastry blenders existed until I saw that this recipe required one. The first time I made the recipe I tried using the 2 forks/knives method to cut in the butter, but it was just time-consuming and frustrating. I briefly researched pastry blenders and discovered that they are a very useful kitchen tool and fairly inexpensive – under $20! I have used the pastry blender a few times since I received it, and it just makes baking bread so much easier!

 
cheesy italian quick bread  I frozen pizza, again?

 
Cheesy Italian Quick Bread
From the Kitchen of: Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life

Prep Time: 30 – 40 minutes
Servings: 8+ (depends on how generous your slices are!)
Difficulty: Easy

{Ingredients}
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp basil
½ tsp oregano
3 Tbsp cold butter
1 egg
½ cup plain Greek yogurt (I used a 5.3 oz individual serving)
½ cup milk
spray butter, an extra Tbsp butter, or garlic spray (optional)

{Instructions}
Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray a 9-inch round baking pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients – flour through oregano – and mix well. Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender (or two knives/forks) until mixture looks like fine crumbs.

Kitchen Tip: If you are new to bread baking like I am and have no idea how to cut in butter, here are some handy videos showing three different ways to cut butter into flour: pastry blender method, 2 knives method, 2 forks method.

Also, you may be wondering “how will I know when the butter is completely cut-in?” Like the instructions say, the mixture is done when it looks like fine crumbs. I tried to take a picture of my crumbs, but they wouldn’t photograph well. Just trust me that it will make sense when you make the bread; the mixture really will look like fine crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, Greek yogurt, and milk. Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened – do not over mix! If your dough is still a little dry, add a splash of milk. (NOTE: Dough will be thick and soft – similar to Bisquick drop biscuit dough.)

Spoon into prepared baking pan and spread dough to edges of pan. Top with remaining
¼ cup cheese and extra butter, if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!

{Notes}

  • Sometimes I like to double the seasonings (garlic, Italian, basil, and oregano) to pump up the flavor of the bread.
  • If you use extra butter on top of bread, the cheese will crisp up and add a nice contrast to the soft bread.

 


-♥-
Katy

 

beef with snow peas

Standard

beef with snow peas  I  frozen pizza, again?

 
I think this is one of the very first things I pinned after joining Pinterest over a year ago. Like many new people to Pinterest I pinned anything that looked remotely interesting so now my boards are littered with no-longer-interesting things. I recently decided to start at the bottom of my food board and work my way up, deleting recipes that no longer appeal to me and actually trying ones that do.

I knew I had this recipe on my board but just kept skipping over it when making my meal plan for the week. Well, last week I finally decided to make it for dinner, and I am so glad that I did. It is delicious! I am seriously thinking about making it again this week because it was that good!

 
beef with snow peas  I  frozen pizza, again?

 
Beef with Snow Peas
From the Kitchen of: The Pioneer Woman

Prep Time: 30 – 45 mins
Servings: 6 – 8
Difficulty: Easy

{Ingredients}
1 ½ lbs flank steak
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce (I used regular soy sauce)
3 Tbsp sherry or cooking sherry
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger (I used ⅛ tsp ginger powder)
8 weight oz fresh snow peas, ends trimmed
5 whole scallions or green onions, cut into half-inch pieces on the diagonal
salt, as needed (use sparingly)
3 Tbsp peanut or olive oil
crushed red pepper, for sprinkling (optional)
jasmine or long grain rice

{Instructions}
Cook rice according to package directions.

Trim fat from flank steak, then slice very thin against the grain. Cut the meat slightly on a diagonal rather than a ninety degree angle to the grain. (I forgot to cut on a diagonal but my meat turned out just fine.)

Mix together soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, cornstarch, and ginger. Add sliced meat to bowl of liquid and toss with hands. Set aside. (If you prefer, pour half the marinade into a separate bowl before adding the meat; it will be used in the stir fry later.)

Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet (iron is best) or wok over high heat. Add snow peas and stir for 45 seconds. Remove to a separate plate. Set aside. (Don’t crowd the pan; cook in 2 or 3 batches if necessary.)

Allow pan to get very hot again. With tongs, add half the meat mixture, leaving most of the marinade still in the bowl. Add half the scallions. Spread out meat in a single layer as you add it to pan, but do not stir for a good minute. (You want the meat to get as brown as possible in as short amount of time as possible.) Turn meat to the other side and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove to a clean plate. (Again, don’t crowd the pan; cook in several batches if necessary.)

Repeat with other half of meat, allowing pan to get very hot again first. After turning it, add the rest of the cooked meat, the rest of the marinade, and the snow peas. Stir it around over high heat until it bubbles up and boils, about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat. Check seasonings and add salt only if it needs it. Mixture will thicken as it sits. (Note: It does not bother me to boil the same liquid that was used for the meat, but if you poured off half the liquid before soaking the meat, just pour the extra liquid in here.)

Serve immediately over rice. Sprinkle crushed red pepper over the top to give it some spice.

{Notes}
This is a really simple stir fry recipe that can be adapted in any number of ways: use chicken instead of beef, change up the vegetables, etc. Just make sure you let the pan get very hot before adding the ingredients!

{Fun Fact} / {Kitchen Tip}
I was curious why this recipe (and others I have seen) called for a heavy pan. Here’s what I found:

Heavy-bottomed pots and pans are thicker at the base, meaning they tend to absorb and distribute heat from a stovetop burner more evenly than a thin pot or pan. Thin pots and pans are more prone to “hot spots” — areas that heat more quickly than others; hot spots, if not watched carefully, can cause your food to burn. A heavy-bottomed pot or pan will heat and cook your ingredients more evenly. […] It’s a good idea to use a thick, heavy-bottomed piece of equipment when cooking or heating any items that can burn or break easily. – LA Times

 


-♥-
Katy

 

hummus broccoli

Standard

sour cream noodle bake  I  frozen pizza, again?

 
Does the picture above look familiar? If you are a regular reader then you have already seen this tasty side dish paired with Sour Cream Noodle Bake. The original name of this recipe was Creamy Garlic Broccoli, but Russell decided to change the name to Hummus Broccoli because it is much more fun to say.

Broccoli is my favorite veggie, but I really only knew two ways to serve it: in something else or as a side with a little butter and salt. This recipe gives me an easy third option, which I believe is now Russell’s favorite way to eat broccoli.

 
hummus broccoli  I  frozen pizza, again?

 
Hummus Broccoli
From the Kitchen of: Kathy for Babble

Prep Time: as long as it takes to cook the broccoli + 2 mins
Servings: 4
Difficulty: Super Easy

{Ingredients}
3 ½ cups broccoli florets, fresh or frozen
½ cup creamy garlic hummus
black pepper + lemon juice, to taste (optional)

{Instructions}
Cook the broccoli florets in your preferred method: steamed, roasted, or grilled.

Kitchen Tip: To get the most nutrition out of broccoli do not boil it. Boiling pretty much negates any nutritional value that the broccoli had. The best way to cook broccoli and retain the most nutrients is to steam it.

Toss the warm florets in the hummus — coating it as you would pasta with pasta sauce.

Add lemon juice and black pepper over top. Serve warm or place in the fridge to chill before serving.

{Notes}

  • If you are not a fan of garlic, you can use any variety of hummus, such as roasted red pepper or lemon.
  • If you buy a large container of hummus and have some leftover after making the broccoli, just freeze it for later use.
  • I recommend making this the night before you plan to serve it. It was a little bland to me the night I made it for dinner, but the next day for dinner it was great! I think sitting in the fridge overnight helps the flavors blend together better.

 


-♥-
Katy

 

crash hot potatoes

Standard

parmesan pork roast  I  frozen pizza, again?

 
I’m not a huge fan of potatoes, but these were yummy. They paired very well with my Parmesan Pork Roast and were quite tasty covered in the gravy. They would probably pair well with No Peek Beef Tips, which also has a tasty gravy.

 

crash hot potatoes  I  frozen pizza, again?

 
Crash Hot Potatoes
From the Kitchen of: The Pioneer Woman

Prep Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6

{Ingredients}
12 new potatoes (or other small round potatoes)
3 Tbsp olive oil
kosher salt, to taste (I used regular table salt)
black pepper, to taste
rosemary (or other herbs of choice), to taste

{Instructions}
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in potatoes and cook until fork-tender (about 10 -15 mins). Make sure to boil your potatoes enough or mashing them will be difficult and messy.

Kitchen Tip: For you other novice chefs, fork tender means the food item is tender enough to be easily pierced with a regular table fork.

Preheat oven to 450°F. On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil or use parchment. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet, leaving plenty of room between each potato.

With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes; rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. (Don’t use the Pampered Chef potato masher – the one that looks like a spoon; it doesn’t work as well as a regular potato masher with this recipe.) Brush the tops of each potato generously with more olive oil.

Sprinkle potatoes with salt, black pepper, and rosemary (or herb of choice). Remember that potatoes need salt, so don’t skimp.

Bake in a 450°F oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

{Notes}
I used baby red potatoes and only seasoned them with salt and pepper.

 


-♥-
Katy

 

pita bread

Standard

pita bread  I  frozen pizza, again?

In this photo are 3 types of pita: all white, part white/part wheat, and all wheat. 1

 
I told you last week that I tried a new recipe that included learning a new skill. Well, as promised, here is my latest adventure in learning to be domestic: baking bread (which is a domestic goddess skill that is pretty high on the list, if you ask me).

I chose this recipe because it was my turn to make the snack for our weekly Card Night with our friends, Teri and Caleb, and hummus was suggested as a good snack option for Caleb, who is currently on the South Beach Diet. And what goes better with hummus than pita? Plus, store-bought pita is not something I enjoy. I learned after I had decided to try my hand at homemade pita that pita is one of the easiest breads to make so it great for beginners, which is me.

The week that I made the pita my brother and his fiancée Sharon were here visiting us, so I asked Sharon to help me. She’s a beginning baker too, so we were both learning together. Learning is fun (and messy)!

pita bread  I  frozen pizza, again?pita bread  I  frozen pizza, again?
An action shot of us kneading the dough / Showing off our homemade pita dough

 
While I was making the pita the Bible story of Elijah and the widow suddenly made more sense to me. The story is from 1 Kings 17 and it goes like this:

God declared that there would be no rain in Israel for the foreseeable future because of their disobedience to Him. During this time Elijah the prophet was in hiding from Ahab, the king of Israel, who wanted to kill him for pointing out all the bad things Ahab was doing. At first Elijah stayed in a ravine out in the wilderness where there was stream to drink from, but when the drought got severe the stream dried up. So God made other arrangements to provide for Elijah. He sent Elijah to Zarephath in the land of Sidon to seek out a widow who would supply him with food. When he got there the widow said she barely had enough flour and oil to make one last meal for her and her son. But Elijah told her that if she would make some bread for him too then God would make sure her jars of flour and oil never went empty until the drought ended.

I was always a little confused about this story because I didn’t think that flour and oil were enough to make bread. I figured that it needed an egg or something to help hold it together, so how was endless flour and oil going to be that helpful to the widow? Well, as I was making the pita I realized that the basic ingredients weren’t much more than flour, water, and oil. So yeah, endless flour and oil was really helpful to the widow. I feel like I should throw in a “knowledge is power” here. 🙂

 
And now, finally, the pita recipe…

pita bread  I  frozen pizza, again?

photo credit goes to my “baby” brother, Brian (he took this with his iPhone too!)

 
Pita Bread
From the Kitchen of: Budget Bytes

Prep Time: 1 ½ – 2 hours
Servings: 6-8 pitas

Ingredients
1 ⅛ cup warm water
1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
1.5 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil, plus enough to oil bowl and dough
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 ½ cups all-purpose (AP) flour
1 tsp salt

Instructions
In a small bowl, combine warm water, sugar and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let sit for 5 minutes or until a foam develops on top. Once foam develops on top, add 1 Tbsp of olive oil. [Sidenote: I just realized that I forgot to add the oil when I made my pitas. They still turned out tasty anyway.]

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of flour (half whole wheat, half regular AP) and salt. Stir to evenly combine. Add the small bowl of liquid to the big bowl of flour. Stir to combine.

Continue mixing in flour until it forms a loose ball that you can no longer stir with a spoon. Turn the ball of dough out onto a floured surface and continue to knead in more flour until a soft and pliable (and no longer sticky) ball forms. You should have used around 3 cups of flour total and kneaded the dough for at least 3 minutes.

Kitchen Tip: For those of you are who are new to bread making like I am, here are some helpful instructions (with pictures!) on kneading dough.

Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl then rub more oil on top of the dough to keep it from drying out. Cover loosely with a towel and let sit to rise for one hour or until doubled in size.

Kitchen Tip: I learned that the key to making bread rise is a consistently warm environment. Sometimes your kitchen, especially in the summer, can be warm enough (80-90°F), but the easiest way to ensure a consistently warm environment is to use your oven. “Turn your oven on to its lowest setting possible (around 150 F/ 65.5 C), let it heat up to that temperature, then turn the oven off and open the door of the oven wide for about 30 seconds to dissipate some of the heat. […] Traditionally, you cover the bowl with a towel, also to keep the dough from drying out. Look in periodically.” 2

Punch down the risen dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Stretch the dough into a log and cut it into 8 (or 6, depending on how thick you want the pita to be) equal-sized pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a smooth ball and then roll it out into a flat, 6 inch diameter circle. (I finally used the Tupperware pastry mat that my mom gave me to roll out the pitas.)

Kitchen Tip: To shape into a smooth ball, hold the ball in the fingers of both hands then start tucking the edges of the ball under, pulling the top taut and rotating the ball as you go. Just keep tucking until it’s nice and smooth on top. Here‘s a video for the visual learners.

Preheat the oven to 500°F (mine wouldn’t get that hot, only 450°-475°, but my pitas baked just fine) and let the dough circles rest as the oven comes up to temp. Place a damp cloth over the dough circles so they do not dry out. When the oven is hot enough, place the dough circles on a wire rack* (a couple at a time) and place the rack in the oven. Watch the circles puff up as they bake. When the circles have completely inflated but not yet turned brown, remove them from the oven and put in the next batch. If you let the pitas cook until golden brown they will be crispier and may retain the inflated shape as they cool.

*The wire rack should not be coated; only use plain metal racks in the oven.

As you remove the pitas from the oven, stack them on a plate and cover with a damp cloth. The trapped steam will soften them as they cool. Once completely cooled, store the pitas in an air tight container in the refrigerator. They should also freeze well.

Notes
Personally, I preferred the all-white pitas to the part wheat/part white, but both were good. To make all-white pitas just use all AP flour instead of adding the ½ cup of wheat flour.

 
1 Sharon and I made the all-white and part wheat/part white pitas. The all-wheat pitas were from an earlier attempt and did not turn out as well as the others, but they do add a nice contrast to the photos.
2 science.howstuffworks.com

 


-♥-
Katy