Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mom!!! More hot pockets!!!

Okay, so this was initially an attempt at a "healthier" costco chicken bake (did you know those things contain about 1000 calories each?!) , but the end result was more like a healthier hot pocket than chicken bake - I think it was the broccoli that did it. Either way, it still yummy, though next time I think I'm gonna use less wheat flour and a bit more sauce, and make them hot pocket-sized so that it can be eaten as a quick snack.

Pizza dough (any pizza dough recipe will do) -
- 3/4 cup warm water (~110 deg) - 1 packet of active dry yeast
- 1 cup wheat flour (you can use all all-purpose flour too)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt

Mix yeast and water and let it proof for ~10 minutes (until it gets bubbly). Combine the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth (I used my KA mixer). Oil the ball of dough so it won't dry out and let it rise in a bowl covered with a towel or plastic wrap for about 2 hours (until doubled in size).

Punch down the dough and divide it into 4 (if you want costco chicken bake sizes, divide into 8 for hot pocket sizes). Let the dough rise and again for about 30 mins, then roll each one out to whatever size you want your end result to be. There's no need to make sure it's a perfect round or anything like that because you're just going to fold it to close it up.

Filling - You can fill it with anything you want, just all the different varieties of hot pockets out there! For the costco chicken bakes, you'll want grilled chicken, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, bacon, green onions,and caesar salad dressing. Here's what I put in mine:
- 1 grilled chicken breast (seasoned with salt and pepper)
- 1/2 diced shallot

- broccoli florets
- 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
- 16 tbsp caesar dressing
- sprinkling of parmesan

* Split the filling evenly between each hot pocket/chicken bake.
* Fold over the edges to enclose the fillings and put it on a baking sheet, seam side down
* Poke a few small holes in the top to let steam escape.
* Sprinkle a bit of cheese on top
* Bake at 350 for 15 mins or until the cheese is melted and golden brown
* Let cool on a cooling rack and eat immediately or pop them in the freezer to keep as a quick and healthy snack!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


i'm really enjoying our new kitchen and all the fun toys we received from the wedding and love making all these "fancy" dishes that i used to always reserve for special occasions...like paella!

though i gotta say, part of the problem is that some of these dishes loose their "specialness" and paella is one of them. don't get me wrong, it's still yummy, but definitely doesn't feel "fancy" anymore. oh well, at least i get to eat it more often now!

- Saffron threads or turmeric
- 1 cup of rice
- 1 diced onion
- 2-3 minced cloves of garlic
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- chorizo sausage
- 1 grilled chicken breast
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- diced bell peppers (1 red and 1 green)
- various seafoods (shrimp, squid, mussels, clams, etc)
- peas
- *any other veggies/meats you feel like tossing in


* Boil saffron threads (optional, you can use turmeric instead if you want. honestly, the saffron didnt have much fragrance or flavor, so turmeric will work just fine for color purposes) and shrimp peels in chicken stock (for extra flavor).
* Saute onions in oil until soft, then add garlic, then bell peppers
* Saute chorizo sausage to release the oils and get a bit of char and squid if desired
* Saute rice until coated with oil
* Add in cubed grilled chicken
* Add wine and chicken stock and tomato puree (optional)
* Salt and pepper as needed
* Boil until most just slightly more watery than you like it (and bottom is starting to crisp)
* Sprinkle shrimp, mussels and other more delicate seafood/toppings and peas
* Cover and steam the toppings
* Open and enjoy!

Friday, February 8, 2008

deep dish pizza - my first experiment

i loooove zachary's pizza. it was always a special treat in college to get zachary's because it's a bit expensive on a college student's budget. and these days, it's still a treat because it's so freakin' far!

i've always wondered why no other place (that i've tried) can replicate it because it didn't seem too difficult. as i usually do with things i want to make, i have an idea of how to make something, then i google it to confirm, revamp, or tweak my initial thoughts and then give it a whirl!

i gotta say, this was pretty darn close and i will no longer be making the long trek to berkeley and paying their ever increasing prices. my only complaint is that the crust that we made wasn't "flaky" or "buttery" enough, but i intend to try a few different things in future attempts to achieve perfection! until then...

it's still YUM!

i used our castiron skillet to bake this and it was super easy to get out of the pan. i suppose you could also use a cake pan or springform pan too.

here is my version. you'll probably find that i'm not too great about measuring things or doing things consistently, but the link that i adapted it from has nice measurements that probably work out great.

Crust (enough for 2 pizzas):
1 tbsp sugar
1 pkg (1 tbsp) yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
.25 cup vegetable oil
4 - 6 cups all purpose flour

* proof yeast, sugar and water in mixer bowl (I used my KA Mixer) until it's bubbly (~15 mins)
* add oil
* stir in 4 cups of flour, and mix until smooth (add more flour if it looks like it needs it)
* knead until the dough forms a ball
* turn into greased bowl and let rise until doubled (an hour or two)
* knead the dough by hand and split into 4 and let it rest
* roll the 2 sections of dough (all 4 if you're making 2 pizzas) out pretty thinly (1/8" or less?) or until it covers at least the bottom of the pan you're using. make sure the bottom layer has enough excess to go up the side of the pan at least an inch.

Tomato Sauce
olive oil
4 minced garlic clove
1 large can of whole tomatoes packed in juice
ground black pepper

* heat a bit of olive oil and saute the garlic
* cut the tomatoes into chunky dices (~3/4"x~3/4" cubes or larger)
* dump the tomatoes with the juice in the pan, along with the oregano and basil (to taste)
* add salt, pepper and sugar to taste
* simmer on low until it's not too watery (but not too thick either - about 20 mins)

Fill it with whatever you like. We decided to half chicken and half spinach and mushroom, our two favorites.

Grill one chicken breast seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper and cut into ~1/2"x1/2" cubes.

*Lay one of the rolled out pieces of dough in your pan and make sure it goes up the sides a decent amount (~1" at least).

*Sprinkle mozzarella cheese along the bottom, one thin layer, just enough to coat the bottom. It doesn't seem like a lot for a "deep dish" pizza, but is was enough for us and we didn't think it differed from zachary's in this respect. if you want it super cheesy, feel free to add more, but one thin layer seemed just right to us.

*Sprinkle in your toppings of choice (grilled chicken breast, spinach and mushrooms for us). Again, you don't need as much as you might think for a "deep dish" pizza. The bottom of the pan was by no means even close to being covered and had lotsa gaps, a lot more than your traditional non deep dish pizza, but like i said...we thought it was great!

*Sprinkle a bit more cheese on top of the toppings (we used 2 small handfuls for a 12" pizza) and a bit of parmesan. The parmesan is really just for a bit of extra flavor. To be honest, I'm not really sure if it made any difference at all and probably wouldn't have been missed if we omitted it.

*Lay the second rolled out piece of dough on top and "seal" the sides (it's okay if there are gaps, in fact it might be good, to let some of the steam out). Cut off the excess dough around the edges, or if you like more crust, fold it in. Poke a few holes in the top layer too. One time we made it, I opened the oven door to be greeted by the biggest pizza bubble ever!

*Ladel the tomato sauce on top.

*Pop it the oven and enjoy! (450 deg for 30mins)

adapted from: http://groups.google.com/group/rec.food.cooking/msg/14b2ffbe1f674b93?hl=en