Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Margherita Pizza on steroids

Yes, it’s me, I’m back. I have garlic and I’m not afraid to use it! In my house, garlic is a food group, along with chocolate and red wine. Sounds like a party, no? ūüôā Last summer I had a bumper crop of basil. I love me some fresh basil, also a food group. Because I didn’t want to waste any, I ran it thru my food processor with a little olive oil and put it in ice cube trays & froze it to use later. Since pesto is just basil that’s been put through a food processor with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts & parmesan, I figured I’d have the hard part already done, right? Great. So, now I’m coming up with new ways to use my bounty. And just in case you’re curious, yes, I will have basil in my garden again this year.

Today I was trying to decide what dinner would be and I saw the premade pizza shells at the grocery. I love the thin & crispy crust pizza and was thrilled to see a pre-made thin crust. Pizza Margherita is wonderful and I rarely see it when I go out. Hmmm, thin crust pizza shell, tomatoes in the fridge and basil ready to go? I’m in! But….here I go again, changing things up. You’ll be so proud, I took pictures!

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In case you don’t know what Margherita pizza is, it’s a pizza crust with olive oil, minced garlic, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and basil. Yum! It’s a very light & flavorful pizza. Mine, well, mine was essentially pesto pizza with tomatoes. In my fridge, I happen to have some gorgeous fresh asparagus that I picked on Friday at Thunderbird Berry Farm (I so wish they had a website). And a jar of pine nuts in the cabinet calling my name too. Yep, I did it. I added them to my Margherita pizza and, well, all I can say is WOW. amazing! So, if you love caprese salad, you’ll love Margherita pizza! Give it a try! You won’t be sorry!

Margherita Pizza on Steroids

1 pre-cooked thin pizza crust
2 roma tomatoes sliced thin
4 oz shredded mozzarella
2 tbsp. olive oil
5 garlic cloves (you can use less if you don’t want to stink!) finely minced
5 tbsp. chopped basil (or 1/2 C fresh basil cut into thin strips)
6 stalks of asparagus
2 tbsp. pine nuts
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. On pizza crust, spread 1-2 tbsp. olive oil all over crust using a pastry brush to be sure and get all of the crust
3. spread chopped basil over olive oil, sprinkle garlic & pine nuts over basil.
4. sprinkle cheese over basil & top with tomato slices
5. arrange asparagus around tomatoes
6. bake 10 minutes or until crust reaches your preferred crispness
7. enjoy with altoids!

****NOTE-if you don’t want your tongue to slap your brains out, feel free to decrease the amount of garlic and/or basil. If you use fresh basil, the taste will be delicious, but not quite as powerful as my version.

enjoy!

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Allium Sativum, How I love Thee….

Y’all already know of my¬†passionate affair with Allium Sativum, that’s the scientific name for garlic. It’s a wonderful thing that I’ve brought my husband along to enjoy. Well, I kinda have to, you know, how gross is it when your date/friend/spouse/partner has just consumed what smells like an entire head of garlic and starts talking/laughing/singing to you? Blech. Sick. My thought is if I have company in what I’m eating, we’re both pungent and no one cares! Make sense? Well, it does to me! Almost like drinking alone, it’s just not the same. Hmm, I don’t know that I can say that either, I don’t mind having a glass of wine by myself. Preferably in a hot¬†bath with a good book.

Back to my garlic. I really should try to grow my own, since I eat it like an apple. Ha ha! Just kidding, I seriously do NOT eat garlic like an apple. Have you ever sampled a raw fresh garlic clove? It’s spicy, like raw onion spicy.

It’s been a while since I shared about garlic, and since I’ve got some new friends, how about a little¬†refresher? Garlic is fantastic in many ways, besides chasing off those pesky vampires! It’s really good for your heart and circulatory¬†system, your immune system, and even though they say it doesn’t act as a mosquito repellent, I¬†totally think it does b/c when I eat a lot of it, they don’t come near me!

How about I just break it down into bullet points?

  • Fresh will always be best over jarred. When it’s processed, it starts to lose it’s potency and flavor.
  • Besides, storing/peeling/using fresh garlic couldn’t be easier, really. Start off by choosing a head (that’s the whole thing) that’s white in color and the cloves (the little pieces that you break off to use) are nice and held tightly together (remember “White and tight”). The ‘head’ of garlic breaks into ‘cloves’. I remember reading about someone who was a newlywed and trying a new recipe, ’20 garlic clove spaghetti’ and mistakenly thought the whole head was a single clove! She put 20 WHOLE HEADS of garlic in her pasta sauce! And being a sweet husband, he ate it and didn’t complain, although she didn’t make it again!
  • Store garlic in a dark cool space, I keep my in my pantry. Do not put it in the fridge, it will lose it’s flavor, besides, it’s not necessary to store there.
  • To peel a clove of garlic, break off the clove from the head.¬†¬†Place the clove on a cutting board/hard surface and lay knife flat over the clove with the blade pointing away from you, use the heel of your hand and hit the flat part of the knife blade to kind of crush the clove. Then¬† you can easily peel the clove and do what you wish with it.
  • another method to peel multiple cloves, I saw on YouTube, break the head apart into individual cloves, and with two bowls of the same size, place the garlic in one bowl and put the other bowl on top going the opposite direction (top to top), hold it together and shake back and forth vigorously. I’ve tried it and been sort of successful.
  • If you really want to release more of the garlicky goodness, use a garlic press. They are fantastic little gadgets and you don’t even have to peel the garlic before squeezing it where you want it! I got mine from The Pampered Chef ages ago. It’s super easy to use. I love it when I really want a strong taste, by squeezing it, you release more of the oils, hence flavor. If you want the flavor of garlic, but not an overpowering level, you can mince it on your cutting board.
  • If you’re afraid of garlic, or don’t really care for the stronger taste, try it roasted. Roasting the head of garlic will make it soft, a tiny bit sweet, and spreadable. One of our favorite restaurants serves roasted head of garlic with crusty fresh-baked bread. MMMM¬†who needs an entr√©e when I have that?

Are you hungry yet? I’m thinking garlic chicken stir fry or some fresh bruschetta. Or maybe some roasted garlic smeared on crusty bread. And a side of mouthwash!

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Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

So you remember my post about all the ways I love garlic? Here’s a quick, easy and healthy way to get it into your diet!

Garlic chicken stir fry

1 lb chicken cubed

1 bunch green onions, sliced diagonally

1 can sliced water chestnuts drained

12 to 15 cloves garlic sliced very thin

16 oz pkg fresh mushrooms  sliced

1 C water

2 tbsp chicken broth

3 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp corn starch

2 tbsp canola oil

1. in a wok, heat oil to med/high and stiry fry the vegetables 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender. remove from pan.

2. put chicken in pan and cook until no longer pink, approximately 5 to 8 minutes.

3. mix chicken broth, water and soy sauce.

4. push chicken to the side of the wok, pour liquid mixture into center of wok. stir and cook until bubbly and slightly thickened.

5. add vegetables, including water chestnuts, back to wok. stir and cook until completely heated through and blended.

6. serve over hot cooked rice.

Delish and nutrish! It goes together really easily and is healthy. And the best part, it’s even better the next day! enjoy! Sorry, once again, no pics, we were starving and dove right in!

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Penne Beef Florentine

I love this dish! My children even love it, which makes me like it that much more! And once again, it’s a meal in a pan, but hey, who can complain about that? Less dishes to clean, right?¬† I must apologize, I didn’t get any pics, we were starving and ate it¬† before I could get my camera out!

Penne Beef Florentine

1lb ground beef

1 pkg whole wheat penne (12oz)

3 cloves garlic pressed

1 pkg fresh spinach (2oz) chopped

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

2 cans tomato sauce (8oz)

1 can beef broth

1-1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 C shredded mozzarella

What to do:

1. brown ground beef with garlic. drain.

2.cook pasta according to pkg directions in salted water. drain.

3. put tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, Worcestershire in with beef.

4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until sauce begins to thicken.

5. Add spinach and stir until spinach is wilted.

6. Toss beef/tomato mixture with pasta. Sprinkle cheese on top and cover until cheese is melted.

There you go, can’t get much easier than that! If you like your spinach pieces larger, you can just do a coarse chop, or even leave the pieces whole. We discovered last time that my son likes the spinach to be in tiny pieces. Ok with me! If that will help him eat it better, I’m all for it! Let me know what you think, it’s Italian-esque, without being typical Italian.

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Another slow cooker recipe: French Onion Soup! Mai oui!

Love me some French onion soup on a cold day, so imagine my delight when I came across this recipe (which I immediately modified)! I will share it with you as it mostly was originally and tell you next time I will not add quite so many onions, I’ll use half as many as it called for, it was very oniony, good, but oniony.

Slow cooker French onion soup

6 cans beef broth

6 medium onions chopped (I’ll use 3 next time)

3 bay leaves

3 tbsp butter

1-1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce

2tsp onion salt

3 tsp garlic salt

2 tbsp Kosher salt

5 to6 whole garlic cloves peeled (if desired)

French Bread sliced approximately 1″ thick and toasted

shredded parmesan/mozzarella/asiago cheese

1. Saute onions in butter until onions are crisp tender.

2. Put all ingredients except french bread and cheese in 4 qt slow cooker. Cook for 5 to 7 hrs or until onions are tender.

3. Remove bay leaves and  ladle into bowls and top with toasted French bread and a sprinkle of cheese. 

This is one of those recipes that makes a big batch and could easily be halved. It’s so delicious on a cold night without being too heavy. Enjoy!

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Italian Flag One Pan Dinner

As per my norm, I saw this recipe and immediately altered it! You know me, I can’t seem to leave anything alone! This is really delicious, extremely simple and very healthy. It’s loaded with protein, fiber and, wait for it….TASTE! I promise, you will so love it!

Italian Flag One Pan Dinner

1lb chicken cut into 1″ pieces

1 can 18 oz cannelini/white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 cans diced tomatoes-one plain and one Italian

16oz frozen chopped broccoli/broccoli florets thawed

1C orzo

1 tsp Italian seasoning

6 garlic cloves pressed (more or less, depending on what you like)

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil

Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain.

While orzo is cooking, in a large skillet, cook chicken in olive oil 5 to 6 min, or until no longer pink. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add garlic to remaining oil and cook about 1 minute. 

Put tomatoes, beans and italian seasoning into skillet and bring to a boil.

Add in broccoli and chicken, reduce heat stir to blend and allow all ingredients to com to the same temperature.

Put orzo in the chicken mixture and stir to blend.

Serve with a nice green salad and you are done, done, so done!

Calorie info: 1-1/2 C =approx 350 calories.

You can’t beat that! Enjoy and do tell me if you give this a try!¬† So sorry I have no pics to share, we dove in so fast, I didn’t have a chance to grab my camera!

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Tuscan Chicken

By now, if you’ve been hanging out with me on a regular basis, you know I love me some Italian food. I think in a former life I really must have been Italian. I love the food, the wine, the language sounds incredible (although I know not a single word besides names of pasta), the scenery. A trip to Italy is at the top of my bucket list. So, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that when I found this recipe, I ran around in little circles like a yippy dog (minus the tinkle on the floor!). It’s delicious, and even better, EASY!¬† Are you ready???

I know, right? Makes me hungry right now!

 

Tuscan Chicken

1C chopped onion

1tbsp minced garlic (or several cloves pressed)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 can Italian diced tomatoes, drained

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1C each chopped red and yellow bell pepper

1tbsp olive oil

3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)

1/4C shredded parmesan

2/3C chicken broth

hot cooked pasta (I prefer linguini)

1. saute onions and peppers in oil 4 to 5 min or until crisp tender

2. add garlic and cook 1-2 min or until veggies are tender

3. place chicken in a resealable bag and flatten to 1/2″ and place over veggies

4. add tomatoes, broth, vinegar and salt

5. bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken juices run clear and sauce is slightly thickened. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with parmesan.

See what I mean? EASY! If the red and yellow peppers are way expensive (like most of the time around here) it works well with green peppers as well, they just give a different flavor.

This is how I like it! A green veggie on the side and nice glass of zin to go with! Mangia!

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Garlic overload chicken

If you’ve been along for my ride into domestic goddessness, you’re familiar with my love of garlic. If you’re new to my world, garlic is a food group in my house!. This recipe totally takes into an all new direction! Basically, it is a chicken version of my thought ‘too much garlic is just right’! If you love roasted garlic and an easy recipe, this one is definitely for you! Just be sure you’re not¬†eating it alone¬†b/c you won’t be getting any lip action if¬† the only one indulging is you!

I just¬† thought of something, if you’re like my sister-in-law, who doesn’t like really powerful garlic flavor, but you do like the roasted garlic, this is a good recipe. Cooking the chicken in the same pan as the garlic, you get a bit of the garlic flavor, but it’s not like you’re eating raw garlic. The chicken is very juicy and flavorful.

Garlic Overload Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts flattened to 1/4″ to 1/2″ thickness and cut in half

1tbsp Italian seasoning

2tsp rosemary

1tsp salt

fresh ground black pepper

2 heads of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled

2tbsp olive oil

1 pkg chicken flavor Rice-a-Roni

In a large skillet heat the oil¬†on medium ¬†and add the whole¬†garlic cloves, still in their paper shells. Cook over med heat for 5 to 8 minutes until the cloves are soft. (they may brown a bit, but don’t let them scorch.)

mix the seasonings, salt and pepper and sprinkle on top of the chicken, and don’t be shy with it!

Push the garlic to the sides of the skillet and put in  the chicken seasoned side up.

As chicken is cooking, prepare the rice according to package instructions.

Carefully turn the chicken after about 5 to 6 minutes and continue cooking on the other side on med/low heat, until chicken is done and juices are clear.

If the garlic looks like it’s getting overdone, take it out and put it in a bowl for later.

Serve the chicken over the rice and you can either squeeze the garlic over the chicken, or just put the cloves in a bowl (like we do) and eat it with the chicken. The garlic comes right out of the shell, it’s soft and nutty like roasted garlic. My 7 yo daughter can’t get enough of the garlic!

I have also served this with Rachael Ray’s¬† Garlic and Parmesan Orzo¬†for a super duper dose of garlic! when I did, my friends down the street could smell it! You can’t get much easier than that! Enjoy and let me know how you like it!

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Delish pasta for one!

I was hungry and I was solo. Something that doesn’t¬†happen often in my world.¬†Hmmm, what should I have for dinner? I am free! Free to eat things that are green, or sauteed, or steamed or spicy, without hearing, ‘eeewww I don’t like thaaaat!’ I opened my fridge looked around and had the usual, ‘there’s nothing in here’ moment. I wanted some simple pasta and remembered that I had blanched some fresh asparagus and put it in the freezer. Ok, now we’re talking. Here’s what I came up with.

8oz fresh asparagus, steamed and cut into 1″ pieces

3 slices bacon, cut into 1/4″ pieces

1tbsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp butter

1 clove garlic

4 to 6oz whole wheat spaghetti

In a skillet, cook the bacon until it’s crisp, drain on paper towels.

In a large pot, cook the pasta until it’s tender

Put asparagus in skillet with bacon pieces, add butter, cook on low heat for just a minute or so to bring everything to temp. Press garlic into skillet and stir. Add a pinch of salt if desired.

Drain pasta and toss with asparagus/bacon mixture. Top with shavings of parmesan and/or asiago. Mmmm it’s nice and light, but packed with flavor and yummy goodness! Enjoy! This can easily be doubled to serve more, or altered to your tastes with more or less of the asparagus and bacon. This and a glass of wine and I was a happy girl!

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Awesome no-heat chicken!

So right now, in my little corner of the world, the temps get down to the bone chilling 80 at night and we have a heat index in the triple-digit teens. Needless to say, the grill, microwave and crockpot are my best friends right now. I pulled this recipe out of my archive and wanted to share. It’s really good, easy, and healthy to boot! Oh yeah, and it won’t heat up your kitchen, YAY!

Creamy Italian Chicken

4 to 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 pkg dry Italian dressing mix

1 can (4oz) sliced mushrooms

1 pkg (8oz) reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1 can reduced fat & sodium cream of mushroom soup

1/4C water

1 to 2 cloves of garlic, pressed

2 C cooked brown rice

1. Place chicken in slow-cooker (I like to cut my pieces in half, easier for serving & quicker cooking)

2. Mix water and dressing mix and pour over chicken.

3. Place lid on slow cooker and cook 3 hours on low.

4. Combine cream cheese, cream of mushroom soup and garlic until well blended. Spread over chicken, sprinkle mushrooms on top.

5. Replace lid and cook 1 hour longer.

6. Stir to blend sauce and serve over rice.

Add some veggies steamed in the microwave and a¬†green salad and you’ve got a nice dinner, all without heating your kitchen! YAY! Enjoy!

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