Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thai Chicken Pizza

If this pizza doesn't convince you to make homemade pies, then I'm thinking you should stick to delivery-style.  I've been wanting to make a healthier version of Thai Chicken Pizza, and Trader Joe's offered me the perfect inspiration!

(Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck Merlot)

I love Trader Joe's.  It's a no-frills store with truly good and mostly healthy foods.  I feel for those who don't live within at least an hour of these fab stores.  I say take some coolers and make a day trip out of it!  It's worth it!

Anyhow, their recipes aren't too shabby, and I borrowed their Thai Chicken Pizza recipe to help create my own.

You can get all you need to make this at TJ's, but I make my own dough and I use pre-cooked chicken breasts that I cooked and then stored in the freezer.  If you can get Peanut Satay at your store (grocery, Wal-Mart, Target, World Market), then really, the rest is easy as pie.

Thai Chicken Pizza
Makes 3 Pies

For dough:
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
Pinch of sugar
3 to 3 1/2 cups 00 Flour or Bread Flour
1 tsp. sea salt with iodine (like Morton's Sea Salt w/Iodine)

For toppings:

2 jars TJ's Peanut Satay (enough for 16 oz.)
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
4 cups 2% milk mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded (diced) carrots
1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/3 cup unsalted, dry roasted peanuts
Cracked black pepper
1 Serrano, thinly sliced (optional, these are HOT)
Chopped cilantro (optional, but yummy)

Instructions for dough:

Dissolve yeast in warm water in bowl of mixer.  Add pinch of sugar.  Let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy.

Add in flour and salt, mix and let stand for 5 minutes.  Chemistry is happening!

After rest period, use dough hook to knead dough for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Dough should be elastic and smooth.  Place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Leave in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour until doubled in size.

After dough has risen, use the poke test to make sure dough is ready.  By sticking the handle of a wooden spoon (or your finger) into the dough, if the indentation remains, it's ready!

Punch down and leave on a floured surface.  Allow to rest for 10-20 minutes while preparing the toppings.  Pour 1/3 cup of satay on shredded chicken.  Allow to sit until ready to top on pizzas.  Gather cheese and veggies.

Place pizza stone if you have one in the lower rack of the oven.  Preheat to 440.  Divide dough into thirds, then roll them out, one at a time, and divide toppings for three pies. (I used a 1/3 cup measuring cup to spread the satay on the pizza dough)  Bake, one pie at a time, for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  Wait a minute to cool, then slice into 8 to 10 slices.  

My pre-cooked chicken made this super easy, but if you have access to pizza dough (as in your local pizzeria), then this just got easier!  My hubby likes Sriracha sauce on this, but I feel the Serrano chiles give it quite enough kick for me!  This Tuesday night meal was a Thai treat!

Weight Watchers Points +
4 points per slice, depending on how heavy-handed the toppings are applied

Monday, January 30, 2012

Shoe Shopping With Leftovers

Leftovers.  I have a love-hate relationship with them.  They come in handy when I don't want to cook, I just grab from the freezer and defrost.  But at the same time, my freezer is full of forgotten leftovers.  I'm a housewife, but leftovers usually are not high on my list of things to remember!  Anne Taintor makes me feel a tad better about this.  Apparently, I'm not alone!

Almost all kidding aside, the leftovers that have puzzled me the most are tortillas.  What do you do with them other than junk 'em?  You can rarely buy a pack with just enough for one meal.  It seems the manufacturers want you to make enough tacos to feed the world. I simply cannot feed the world.  Mama has shoes to buy.

Priorities, people.  Priorities!

Luckily, I've solved the problem - Chilaquiles.  And no, those are not shoes.

Normally, Chilaquiles is a casserole made with turkey and the tortillas are fried in oil, then portions of the ingredients are fried in the remaining oil.

I'm not ok with this, as all that frying is unhealthy and very messy.  I bake the tortillas for a few minutes - watch carefully, they burn, I know - and once they've cooled, I can begin to build this lasagna-like meal.

Once again, please give using pre-cooked chicken a try.  I grabbed two pieces from the freezer this morning and it took less than five minutes to shred them as the tortillas baked in the oven.  Getting into the habit of cooking the chicken beforehand will suddenly make cooking a breeze!

Chica's Chicken Chilaquiles
Serves 4-5

12 corn tortillas (6-inch size)
2 tsp. olive or safflower oil
2 chicken breasts, shredded
½ red bell pepper, diced or small slices
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. onion powder
Several cracks of fresh black pepper
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 cups tomatillo salsa
¾ cup cotija or crumbled feta cheese
1/3-1/2 cup sliced scallions


Preheat oven to 400.  Line two cookie sheets with foil.  Place 6 tortillas on each sheet.  Drizzle 1 teaspoon of oil over six tortillas, repeating for the second sheet of tortillas.  Using fingertips or pastry brush, distribute oil over the tops of each tortilla.  Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes, turning halfway through.  Reduce heat to 375.

In a medium bowl, mix chicken through cilantro.  Add ¼ cup salsa and ¼ cup of cheese to chicken mixture.

Spray a 11x7 baking dish with cooking spray or line with non-stick foil (easy clean up!).  Place ¼ cup of salsa in bottom, then 4 tortillas on top.

Add half the chicken mixture, then 4 tortillas.  Add second half of chicken mixture, then remaining 4 tortillas.  Pour the rest of the salsa (1 ½ cups) over the top and sprinkle with ½ cup remaining cheese.  Top with scallions.  Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Ok, so maybe food isn't as nice as the rush in buying a new pair of kicks, but this comes pretty darn close.  Also, by using feta and not a fattier cheese, your legs will look fab in your next new shoe venture! Don't underestimate the power of leftovers.  More leftovers = more shoe shopping!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Did Someone Say Cheese???

I like cheese, sure, but this recipe will stop any cheese lover in their tracks.  Take a peek...

I'm calling these easy and fast enchiladas, "quick death".  Yeah, they're fast, but if you eat too much, you'll be experiencing heart failure for sure.  There's 12 ounces of queso blanco in this dish, and that's 6 ounces more than I'm ok with.  So in other words, use whichever kind of cheese you prefer, and as much or as little as to meet your needs.  Also, please shred the cheese yourself if you can.  Many bags of shredded cheese have chemicals added to them to reduce moisture and prevent the cheese pieces from sticking together.  Does that sound like melt-y goodness to you???  Take five minutes and grate it yourself.  It'll be a good arm workout before you indulge in punishing your arteries.

Muerte RĂ¡pida Enchiladas

12 corn tortillas
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
1 small can of fire roasted diced chiles
1/4 teaspoon oregano
Several cracks of fresh black pepper
12 oz. Queso Blanco, shredded
2 cans of enchilada sauce, red or green

Preheat oven to 400.  Line a 9x13 baking dish with foil, preferably non-stick.  Add diced chiles, oregano, pepper, and half a can of enchilada sauce to chicken.  Add 2/3 of cheese to chicken mixture.

Fill each tortilla with just enough mixture in order to roll and not split the tortilla.  I did this with a few, we still ate them ;)  Fill entire dish with loaded tortillas that have been rolled up.

Pour remaining half can and the other full can of sauce over the top.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over the sauce.  Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes or until bubbling.  

Again, this is a great moment where having pre-cooked chicken breasts in the freezer makes dinner snappy and happy.  We enjoyed this with avocado crema, lime wedges, and pickled jalapenos.  

In favor of keeping my healthy heart, I plan on using no cheese in the filling next time and some feta cheese on top.  Gotta keep our tickers ticking!

Chocolate With A Chile Kick

I love the taste of chocolate with chiles.  My favorite (and local) chocolatier makes an excellent spicy chocolate truffle.  However, since I am trying to prepare for the impending bathing suit weather and a trip to Orlando in April, truffles really aren't in my diet vocabulary.

The alternative is to whip up a batch of Chocolate Chile cookies that I nabbed from Weight Watchers.  2 points per cookie - sweet!  However, I can never leave - what seems to be well enough - alone.  To me, if you're going to advertise that there's some chiles in your chocolate, make it taste like it.  The reviewers of this recipe reported that you really couldn't taste the cayenne pepper in the cookies.  Cayenne?  They considered that worthy?  And only a quarter of a teaspoon, to boot.  Lame!

So I recreated their version into one that suited my family (and some friends, 'cause sharing is nice!).  Add more heat if you want, but only by 1/4 teaspoon at a time.  It would be a shame for that good chocolate to go to waste!

Chocolate Chile Cookies
Revised from Weight Watchers
Serves 36, 1 cookie per serving

2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate squares, chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour or cake flour

1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. corn starch (to make slightly chewy cookies)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. ancho chile powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup packed brown sugar, dark-variety
1/3 cup sugar, granulated
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350, placing one rack on the top slot and the second rack on the third slot.  Prepare two cookies sheets with non-stick foil, silicone baking mats, or foil with cooking spray.  Take chocolate and melt in microwave in 15 second increments or until mostly melted.  Stir till melted.

In a small skilled, toast almonds until golden brown, allow to cool.

Combine flour through cinnamon with a whisk in a small bowl.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a mixer, beat sugars and eggs for 5 minutes until tan and thick.

Add chocolate and vanilla and beat until well blended.  Add flour mixture, blending in small batches.

Turn off mixer, remove attachment, and stir in almonds.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.  Bake for 7 minutes, then take the top cookie sheet and switch places with the bottom cookie sheet.  Bake for 7 more minutes.  Allow to cool on sheet for 3 minutes.  

These are crunchy with some chewiness to them.  Add another teaspoon of corn starch or bake for one 30 seconds to one less minute if you like chewier cookies.  Fast, easy, and muy delicioso!  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Soul Good Mexi Chicken Soup

The pollen that found its way onto my windshield on Wednesday has me wanting to crawl back to bed on Friday.  I need a lunch that is not only nourishing, but comforting.

This is the perfect day to whip up some Soul Good Mexi Chicken Soup.  It's actually the base to my Pozole con Pollo I'm making for dinner tonight, so consider dinner halfway done!

Soul Good Mexi Chicken Soup
Serves 4 large bowls


1 tsp. olive or vegetable oil
1 med. Spanish/purple onion, diced
1 Serrano pepper, seeded and diced
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. cumin
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup cilantro
1 tomato, seeded and diced
32 oz. low-sodium organic chicken broth
3/4 tsp. sea salt
Juice of half a lime
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded


Take a few peppercorns, a few cloves, and break the cinnamon stick in half, placing all in a piece of cheesecloth.  Take opposite ends of cheesecloth and tie into knots that meet in the center so the spices don't fall out.

In a large stock pot/Dutch oven, heat to medium and add 1 tsp. olive or vegetable oil.  Saute onion and cumin until soft.

Add Serrano and garlic, cook for 1 minute.  Add cheesecloth bag, cilantro, tomato, salt and broth.  Simmer for 15 minutes.

(Next step optional) Take cheesecloth bag out and blend soup until smooth.  (Following steps are mandatory) Add chicken, lime juice, cilantro, and return bag to soup pot.  Simmer for 15 more minutes.  Discard bag.  Serve with more cilantro if desired.

I serve mine with an Avocado Crema that's quick and easy.  Take 1 avocado, scoop out flesh and place in a food processor.  Add 1 container of fat-free Greek yogurt, plain.  Squeeze half of a lime over avocado and yogurt.  Toss in a pinch or two of sea salt, 1/4 tsp. cumin, and a dash of chili powder.  Blend.  This should serve 4-6.

Feeling better already!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sushi Time...But Wait!!

We love sushi in this house.  Pete and the girls even made some for me one year on Mother's Day.  I, however, have no patience for making the stuff.  All that sushi rice. PASS!

But I do like sushi-grade ahi tuna.  I am going to pause the sushi talk here and speak to those who prefer not to eat raw fish.

If you don't like even partially cooked tuna, please do not buy the ahi tuna and then cook it all the way.  This fish is not cheap by any means.  It usually runs $10 a pound - YIKES - where I live.  To cook it entirely would be a travesty, in my opinion.  So I suggest grilling some shrimp with a little safflower oil (high smoking point), lime juice, salt, and pepper. This meal works just as well with the shrimp.

Now back to the sushi programming.

This recipe is a salad, studded with gems and topped with a crown that tastes like solid gold.  The crown being Newman's Own Light Asian dressing.  Alas, my store was completely OUT.  Nooooo!  However, Kraft makes a light Asian dressing, and I think - gasp - I might like it better!  And it was on sale...bonus!  Wait - you're wondering why I am not making my own dressing, right?  This meal is quick and easy.  For me, making my own dressing would add time to the process, and who wants that, right?  Right!

Seared Ahi Salad
Serves 4


1 to 1.25 pounds of sushi-grade ahi tuna
1 tsp. olive, avocado, or safflower oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper
Container spring greens or baby romaine
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 English cucumber, chopped
1 avocado, sliced (each person gets 1/4 avocado)
Chopped cilantro
Lime wedges
Kraft Light Asian dressing (1 tbsp. per person)


Prep all veggies and place in bowls for your family/friends/pet rocks to use as a salad bar selection.  

Rinse and pat the tuna steaks dry, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat grill pan or skillet on medium and add the teaspoon of oil when pan is hot.  Pan must be hot enough to cause the fish to sizzle. 

Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, then allow to rest on a cutting board for another 2 minutes.  Slice thinly.  Allow family/friends/pet rocks to build salads, then add 3-4 oz. of sliced ahi to the tops of salads.  Dress with lime juice and 1 tbsp. dressing.  

I serve French bread rolls with this for my carb-loving family, but if you're watching your waistline, just add more veggies.  And the great thing about this meal is that it's a salad - add whatever you like!

Thursday dinner - done!

Weight Watchers Points (w/o dinner roll): 6 points
Note: All WW Points are based on the recipe calculator on the WW site.  Eating more proteins, carbs, and fats will increase your point level.