Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dinner & A Movie - Easy Mini Stromboli! (pizza rolls)

Mini pizza roll-ups (or for those of you proper Italians – Easy Weeknight Stromboli!)

This is probably one of the easiest recipes EVER.  And super quick – the waiting for it to cook is the longest wait ever b/c it smells SOOOOOO good.  This a great recipe for one or two people (if it's just for one – you can make two and stick one in the freezer for an even quicker weeknight meal).  If you have more peeps you may need to get a whole pizza crust and just make a ginormous one.

Here's how it goes...

  • 1 can of reduced fat crescent rolls – divided into two equal parts
  • 1/4C tomato sauce (or pesto if you like instead)
  • 2T shredded cheese
  • any added stuffers you want like pepperoni, spinach, shredded chicken, etc.  Whatever you would top your favorite pizza with.
  • 1/4C Olive oil
  • grated parmesan

tools to use:
  • best to cook on a pizza stone if you have it otherwise a non-stick cookie sheet preferably lined with parchment paper
  • clean empty wine bottle (explanation below – they ain't just for candles anymore)

preheat the oven according to the directions on the crescent rolls.

Wad up half of the crescent rolls into a ball.  Then pat into a pan cake and put on a lightly floured cutting board (or use cornmeal).  I use a wine bottle as a rolling pin – way less stickiness.  I have tried wooden and marble rolling pins yes from Williams Sonoma – WASTE OF MONEY.  Get you a good bottle of wine, enjoy it.  Then soak the label off, wash it good and you have a rolling pin/meat tenderizer for nearly nothing.  Trust me – this works GREAT.  Anyway – roll your dough out thin as you can and transfer to your pizza stone (or non-stick cookie sheet with parchment paper on it).  Repeat with the other little ball of dough.

Then put about 1 ½ T of tomato sauce (you can use meat sauce or maybe pesto – whatever floats your boat or that you have in the house) schmeer it around.  Then put your toppings of choice on (i.e = pepperoni, chicken, spinach, brocoli, olives, peppers, whatever floats your boat.).  Then sprinkle 1T of shredded mozzarella cheese (I use an Italian mix shredded cheese so I get a bigger flavor).  Then once you are done with your concoction, roll it up like a burrito and secure it with wooden toothpicks.  Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top.

Cook it according to the directions on the crescent roll package.  Add a romain and tomato salad on the side to round out the meal.

Wine pairing: Chianti or a Sangiovese

Movie pairing: Moonstruck or Godfather part 1

other uses – cut into bite sized slices and serve as appetizers.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Coming in Feb!

I have a few new receipes - one or more will be an everyday Italian (since that is one of the "in" things this year), maybe a cocktail for Valentines' Day - or any day for that matter and some tips.  Of course, there will be more stuff but it's not even February yet and I still have to think of stuff.  I will leave you with the below sweet treat to dream about.....I found this on Pinterest!  You can follow me on there too if you want.  This recipe is available at the below link!...

If you make this - let me know how it comes out.  :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Where have I been?

Well - I was sick ... Again. But now I'm better! Started up teaching voice again, helping with talent coordination for songwriter interviews on (which if you love music you MUST check out) AND revamping the singing tomato logo & trying to think of revamping the site design... PHEW! So I've not been ignoring y'all just planning to share great things!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Kick That Winter Cold Chicken Veggie Curry!

Ok – well, disclaimer – not sure if it will truly kick your cold so don't sue me if it doesn't but it sure does taste good if you're tired of chicken noodle soup when you're sick.  

I have been down with a yucky cold this week and I hate how dry decongestants make you.  The stuff you need to do, like take a decongestant, to function when down with a cold seem a little counter intuitive to what you are told to do by all the health experts, hydrate.  So I started researching to see if there were some natural remedies.

I found several articles named “the 10 foods to eat when you have a cold”.  According to these articles, some foods, mostly veggies and spices, have different antioxidant properties and nutrients that help power up your immune system and help fight off that nasty cold.  Now this is not an excuse to skip the doc if you're feeling really badly – so don't think I am saying that.  I am saying in conjunction with your doctor's orders and conventional medicinal remedies – sometimes eating a super powered meal that tastes great can at the very least help you feel better emotionally if not physically.

So among the list of foods that these articles said were immune boosters were:
  • broccoli
  • red bell pepper
  • turmeric (a key component in curries that give it that yellow color)
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • lean proteins
  • pumpkin
  • tomatoes
  • green tea
  • whole grains

Sound familiar?  Yes – pretty much what you should eat everyday to be fit, happy & healthy.  “East your colors, lean meats & whole grains”.  But right now, I am feeling pretty sluggish, cranky & puny!  So I thought – how can I get as many of these items into one dinner because the other thing the article said was you need to combine these food s to really get a good result.

So I found a curry paste starter that has both turmeric & ginger – as well as some other energy spices like cinnamon.  2 down.
I had some left over steamed chicken and broccoli from my chinese food the night before – 2 more down
I put garlic in everything so what the heck.
All I had to go out and buy was the can of tomatoes with onions and garlic (but watch and make sure you don't get the Italian one – that would taste weird) & a red bell pepper.

Here is my recipe!

  • 1 red bell pepper – seeded and sliced into strips
  • 1 cup broccoli – fresh & cut into bite sized trees
  • 1 cup cooked boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces 
  • (or you can order the steamed chicken and broccoli from your local Chinese take out place & skip the work on the above)
  • 1 can diced tomato with garlic, onion & parsley (but no other spices)
  • 1T curry paste (make sure it has turmeric, ginger, garlic in it)
  • 2t minced garlic
  • 2T olive oil
  • 1 1/2C water

Add caption
In a saute or large fry pan – put the olive oil and saute the pepper & garlic until a little tender (if your broccoli is uncooked throw this in now too.).  Then add broccoli & chicken & curry paste.  Stir around so the paste gets all over everything.  Then add the tomatoes & water.  Simmer covered on low for 15mins.

You can serve this over your left over rice from the Chinese Take out place or make your own – or eat it by itself.  Are you vegetarian?  Drop the chicken and throw in some more cut up veggies (maybe some fresh baby bellas, celery, carrots or zucchini).  Don't have left over take out and hate cutting up things?  Check out your grocer's frozen food section for a Stir Fry veggie blend – make sure there isn't any sauce or rice in it and you are good to go!  Use this in place of your veggies listed above.

For my WW friends – this (w/o rice) is 6pts for the whole dang thing!!!! 3pts if don't put chicken in.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What's in the Fridge Omelette...

I LOVE omelettes (or fritattas which are omelettes you don't flip and bake under the broiler).
You can eat them for breakfast, brunch or dinner and with the right sides they are always pretty, FABU yummy and a nice presentation...

I named it this b/c it was what I had in the fridge.  I went to Publix two days prior and absent mindedly bought one of those small pre-made spinach salads.  I thought, "ok I will be good and have this for lunch one day this week"  ...but alas I probably had a burger or sushi and this lone salad sat in my fridge.

Then on Christmas Eve I wanted an omelette and I thought, "oh rats, " I have nothing in the fridge to make it with.  Then, I opened the fridge and there in the corner as if there was a halo around it was my salad.  And here is how it went down....

From your Publix mini spinach salad retrieve:
  • pepper slices and chop
  • scallions
  • mushrooms – slice them
  • grape tomatoes - quarter
  • and about 4 grabs of the fresh spinach

Then in your omelette pan:
  • 2T olive oil
  • throw in the above and saute until spinach is wilted.
Isn't that just pretty!  Eating your colors is always pretty & healthy too!
Then scramble together
  • 2 eggs (or 1/2C of egg beaters)
  • 1/8C milk

Pour over the veggies and salt & pepper to taste.  cook until it seems firm.
Then add some shredded or sliced thing Havarti cheese (that's what I had in the fridge and it was FABU!!!! but you can use what you have).  Now if you want an omelette – take a spatula and carefully fold the omelette over on itself like it's a soft taco (the picture below was my attempt to flip it over but when it didn't it became a frittata).  

I know it looks a little messy but OMG! It tasted SUPER YUMMY!
If you want a fritatta – turn the broiler on low and stick the whole pan under it.  WATCH IT CAREFULLY – because the broiler is a tricky thing – it can burn really quick.  Once the cheese is melted – take it out and put it on the plate – YUM!

Side – hash browned potatoes, turkey sausage, bacon, orange slices, toast of many varieties – tons of options!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What's in Michele's Crockpot tonight?

What am I making on this chilly evening??  Why my Goldilocks Chili (click the link for my recipe) of course!!!  Sometimes I like to switch it up - and so can you!  I switched out ground turkey for ground chicken and since I had no black beans in the pantry I just added more tomatoes and kidney beans...

Sometimes you can create a new recipe out of necessity!  And I know it will be yummy because when I got home for lunch today it already is smelling like HEAVEN in my house!

Warming up a little left over homemade corn bread to accompany and you have a FABU fast weeknight dinner in one pot and nearly no clean up!

Chili for a chilly night!  FABU food for foodies like us!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Top Ten Kitchen Gadgets for 2012 - in no particular order...

I LOVE kitchen gadgets like men love electronic gadgets – whether you know how to use them or even what they are – you know you must have them.  If it's in Williams Sonoma – I want it...when it finally arrives in the Outlet or at Homegoods for a fraction of the price of course!

I thought I would make a top 10 list of the items I feel all fellow foodies should equip their kitchen arsenal with because sometimes we don't know what we should have because we didn't know it existed!  I know I get all kinds of happy when I discover something new or just get something that makes life easier.

1.  KitchenAid Mixer 
    I love my mixer!  I used it to mix everything from cake mix to making ice cream.  I was given meat grinder and pasta maker attachments for it but have yet to use them.  This is truly only second to diamonds in the “girls' best friend” category.  Now I know what you are thinking – THEY, must like the Dyson vacuum, ARE SO EXPENSIVE!!!  Yes – retail they are between $199-$299 and up.  But let me tell you – there are ways to find one cheaper....I actually got mine for FREE from a friend who was moving across country and didn't want it anymore.  I have seen these at Tuesday Morning, TJ MAXX and Homegoods for under $100.  You could also check out Craigslist and see if anyone is selling theirs.  If there is a will there is a way and I suggest you splurge on one of these because you will be kicking yourself for waiting to get one after first use!
They come in a TONE of colors!
2.  Cookie or Ice Cream Scoop
    Not just for gelato anymore.  These are great and you can find a cookie scoop – which is like the Skipper doll to Barbie, if Barbie were an ice cream scoop.  It's about half the size of an ice cream scoop but looks and works just the same.  You can get one at Target but I got mine for $1.99 at Aldi when they had all their Christmas cookie makings on sale.  This will help you get the most out of your recipe and pretty uniform looking cookies.  Also an ice cream scoop can be used for perfect portioning for muffin mix into the muffin cups.  And the best part?  No more messy fingers trying to get all the batter off the spoons you're using to place the dough on the cookie sheet!

3.  Wine vacuum & corking system
    These are THE BOMB!  I know most of us don't ever finish a bottle of wine when we open it (wink wink) and no one wants their wine to turn to vinegar – no matter how cheap it was.  Once you uncork a wine it immediately starts to oxidize – which can be great for taste in the immediate but in the long term there is a fine line between breathing and vinegar.  So to combat wine's natural enemy, air, get you a vacuum and vacuum cork set.  This little thing will get your wine to last and always taste FABU!  They can range from $30 (if you pay full retail but who does that anymore?!) to $3.99.  You can get these for a steal at TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Tuesday Morning and World Market for a steal!

4.  A good chopping knife!
    Every recipe whether baking or cooking – you need to chop or slice something and a super good chopping knife is key.  In 2012 – thank goodness steel is back! Ceramic is fabulous and colorful but OMG!  It's expensive!  Steel knives are cheaper and last forever!  You can sharpen them yourself and you can get a good one at Tuesday Morning, TJ MAXX, Homegoods, all those discount home stores for $5.99 - $12.99.  And you can find an easy to use shaprener at all the same places for a few bucks.
5.  Stainless Steel cookware!
    Ok so if you grew up in the 70s & 80s like i did, you were brainwashed into thinking teflon was the end all be all of cookware.  Until this point your choices were either copper (which is a TOTAL B to keep clean even when you're not using them) and Stainless.  Well fast forward to the 90s and wowy zowy – if you over heat or over use your teflon cookware – the coating may flake off and if it gets into the food you cook in there may make you sick - YIKES!  Plus – for its non-stick virtue its a pain to clean or use b/c you have to only use wooded or plastic cooking utensils (and plastics are not found to also cause cancer and birth defects!  YIKES again!) and when you clean it you need to get those plastic scrubbies.  OMG!  Not only is it a pain in the rear – it's SCARY!
NOW – Stainless is back in!  It is self sanitizing by just heating it up in the dishwasher, it doesn't flake bad particles into your food, you can use a good old fashioned brillo pad to clean it and throw it in the dishwasher.  BAM!  Also – use some cooking spray and it is non-stick – who knew.  The good stuff is not cheap but a good Cuisinart goes for about $200 and it will last more than a decade – and what can you say that about these days?  Certainly not teflon.  I have dreams for an Al-Clad set but they are about $400 for a stinkin' lid to a pot – but a girl can dream...

6. Crockpot
    This was a no-brainer.  For us busy foodies – whether you want a savory, stick to your ribs dinner in the cold of winter or a light chicken dish that you don't have to turn on the oven for in the heat of Summer – the crockpot is the modern gal (or guy)s friend.  You throw a bunch of stuff in it in the morning and then go to work.   8-10hrs later you come home and the house smells great and dinner is ready!  What more can you ask for?  These are inexpensive and every kitchen should have one.  They run between $19.99 - $50 and up for super duper fancy ones.  I think I saw one at Williams Sonoma for over $100 bucks but I am not paying that unless while I am at work not only is it cooking dinner but is cleaning my house too.
7.  Pampered Chef Chopper
    This thing has taken the place of my good kitchen knife and mortar and pestal because a lot of times if you are chopping hard things like nuts – hand chopping can cause your hand to hurt and make cooking not fun.  This thing – 3 smacks and wowy zowy you have chopped nuts and no hand pain.  Plus it comes apart and slides right in the dishwasher for cleaning.  It runs about $20 or so from Pampered Chef.  You can get a cheaper one that's an off brand – but this was the first and I have had mine for about 10 years and no problem.  Spend a little extra on this to get quality that lasts.
8.  Pizza Stone
     Great not just for pizzas!  You will NEVER need a cookie sheet again.  I also got this from pampered chef about $25 – but you can get them for about $10 less at Tuesday Morning, TJ MAXX or Target.  This is the best thing EVER for me.  I love baking but as Darren will tell you cookies are not my strong suit.  Not because the batter is bad but because for some reason I burn the heck out of  the bottoms every time!  ARGH!  Then I found the pizza stone – which makes a great crispy pizza crust but also makes a GREAT cookie sheet!  Why?  Because, you can cook a cookie on it for 3hrs and it will never burn.  It will come out in the manner of skeet if you cook it for that long but the bottoms will be a nice golden brown.  This is why I LOVE the pizza, not just for pizza anymore, stone.
9.  Garlic roaster
    A friend of mine introduced me to fresh roasted garlic and OMG – is it the best ever!  It basically turns into a spread once roasted that you can use as a great spread for appetizers at a party (please tell guests not to eat the whole bulb as a friend of mine did because he thought it was a pastry...that was the joke of the party & boy did he get a shock!).  You can use it as garlic paste for other recipes as well.  I have seen garlic roasters for upwards of $40 retail – but you know me...I got mine at the Salvation Army store for $2.99!

10.  Stainless Kitchen tongs – cause sometimes a spatula just won't do...  I never thought to get these   until I had a party where we were serving BBQ (pulled pork for my Yankee friends).  Now I use them for EVERYTHING!!  These little suckers are great for flipping chicken or other things in a roast or fry pan that you don't want to puncture – the juices won't come out.  You can use them to serve pasta, pluck dumplings or eggs from boiling water – all without burning yourself.  You can even get a cheap pair at Dollar Tree but I suggest that you get a slightly better pair so they have the rubber handles and your hands will stay cool even if you are plucking hot things from boiling water.  A couple bucks at Target and you will be set!

These are my Top 10 – in no particular order.  Have a gadget you love?  Tell me about it!