Archive for the ‘Main Dish’ Category

Bake 52 Week 37: Take Two

September 15, 2012

Well, I won’t say that my pizza was an epic fail, but it will need a do-over.  Even though I still haven’t been to the store for flour, I was feeling much better today, so I decided I’d attempt the pizza using whole wheat flour.  That part went well.  I’ll definitely continue to use it, or at least do half and half on the flour.  It didn’t rise quite as much as I would have liked, so maybe adding some white flour in will help that.

There was one main problem though.  I don’t have any 9-inch cake pans.  However, I did have a 12-inch cake pan, so I decided to just make one pizza using that.  And I think it would have worked fine if it had been a pan with dark, non-stick finish, but this one did not.  Which meant that my crust didn’t darken and crispen up like I would have liked.  It was still good….I could taste a hint of Pizza Hut in there….it just didn’t have that crisp outer crust that really makes a deep dish pizza.

There was also a secondary problem, one I didn’t anticipate, given the amount of oil on the pan….one small section of my crust stuck to the pan, so when I tried to slide it out, it tore and folded over on itself.  Oh well….no pretty, but still tasty.

I’ll definitely be purchasing some good, 9-inch cake pans before trying this recipe again, which will be soon for sure!

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Bake 52 Week 7: Basic Pizza Dough

February 15, 2012

If you know me well, you should probably sit down before reading this next sentence: I wasn’t in the mood for pizza the night I made this.

Me? Not in the mood for pizza? It’s true. I’ve eaten so much pizza in the last couple of weeks that I truly wasn’t really in the mood for it this time. But, I made a sacrifice and ate it anyway 😉

I have two go-to pizza dough recipes that I use rather frequently. One is a thinner crust that bakes up nicely, and the upside to it is that the recipe makes just one crust, so I use it when I don’t want two pizzas, or pizza and breadsticks. The other makes a more bready crust, and makes enough for two pizzas, or one pizza and breadsticks (which is the route we usually go). The best thing about both of these recipes? From start to finish, I can have pizza on the table within about 30 minutes.

Being spoiled like that, I had a bit of a struggle with the prep time that the basic pizza dough recipes takes–it has to rise for 1-1 1/2 hours. It’s a rare day in my house when I plan dinner ahead to the point that I have that much leeway. And given that the day I made this pizza was an incredibly busy one, it’s a miracle that we ate before 10:00 that night. But, I pulled it off. I decided to do one pizza and make breadsticks with the rest of the dough. I skipped the suggestion to use the pizza sauce recipe in the book….I LOVE my old standby sauce, which is just 1 cup of tomato sauce seasoned with a tablespoon of Shirley J Pizza & Pasta Seasoning. So quick and easy and super yummy! With my pizza and breadsticks prepared, they were ready to go into the oven. (and if my cheese looks a bit odd to you, it because it’s frozen….we make pizza frequently enough that I find it easiest to buy mozzerella in bulk and freeze it in bags containing 2 cups of cheese, which is the perfect amount for a pizza or batch of cheesy breadsticks)

I’m a pretty big cheater when it comes to using my pizza stone. I never preheat it. Shame on me, right? Well, even on a cold stone, my pizzas always bake up nicely, so I figure there’s no point. But, trying to stick to the recipe on this one, I put my stone in a 500° oven to let it heat up for 30 minutes. And when the 30 minutes was up and I opened the oven door, smoke billowed out. My poor house was hazy and smelly for the rest of the night. Hmmmm….not a very good incentive to try that again.

I really struggled to get the pizza from the baking sheet to the stone. The recipe suggests making the pizza on a piece of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet (or the back of a rimmed baking sheet, which is what I did), and then when it’s time to bake, sliding the parchment from the baking sheet to the hot stone in the oven. That step really needs two people. I nearly lost the pizza more than once while attempting to slide it from one location to the other, while trying not to give myself a 500° burn. I think a pizza peel would be a worthy investment if I plan to preheat my stone more often in the future.

After 8 minutes in the oven, my pizza still looked a little undercooked. So, I gave it 2 more minutes….and when the time was up, the cheese looked as though any more time in the oven would leave it burnt, while the crust looked like it still needed a minute or two to bake. Plus, one side of the pizza was much less baked than the other….not sure why it didn’t bake up evenly. In spite of that, it was cooked all the way through and seemed to pass the soggy vs. crisp test mentioned in the book.  The breadsticks looked great when they came out!

Did it pass the taste test? Yeah, I think so. Maybe not with flying colors, but everyone liked it. Typically when I make pizza, Ryan will easily eat three pieces and several breadsticks. He was done after just one of these slices. Both of my other pizza recipes include a bit of sugar in the dough and I think this recipe could have used some as well….it was a tad bland for me.  The final consensus from Joseph was that he preferred my other recipes.

I WILL try this recipe again. I think some of my issues with it were due to user error. It likely won’t go on my go-to recipe list, mainly because of the rising time involved, but I think I should be able to tweak it enough to fit my tastes and make it one that we use from time to time.

Betsy was this week’s host and the full recipe and diretions can be found on her blog.


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Chicken Parmesan Bake

November 23, 2011

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and pinned it….twice.  I guess that means it looked really good to me.  I was at a loss for what to make for dinner one night and went to my handy dandy recipe board there to find a quick and easy idea.  Chicken Paremsan Bake stood out to me.  I called Joseph and asked him to stop on his way home from work to pick up a couple of ingredients we didn’t have, and set out making preparations.  I didn’t take pictures along the way, but this recipe is EASY.  And quick.  My two favorite things.  Even better, EVERYONE in the family loved it!  This is one that will definitely go into our regular rotation!

Chicken Parmesan Bake (via Food Wishes, where a nice video tutorial is also posted)

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Hot red pepper flakes, to taste
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used tenderloins and just covered the bottom of the baking dish)
2 cups marinara sauce
1/4 cup chopped basil
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
4 oz Parmesan, grated
1 (5-oz) package garlic croutons

Directions:
Coat the bottom of your baking dish with the olive oil and sprinkle the garlic and  red pepper flakes on top.  Place chicken breast in the dish, covering the entire bottom.  Pour 2 cups of marinara sauce over the chicken.  Sprinkle the basil and half of your mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top.  Spread the croutons over the top of that, and then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.