Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tortilla Casserole

Source: Cooking for Two

I continue to LOVE this cookbook by America's Test Kitchen. Everything I've tried from it has been stellar, and although I always like to have leftovers for lunches, it's nice to have a cookbook with portions for two! This recipe intrigued me since it was a casserole, but it was made and finished in one skillet. It also lacked any cream-of-anything soup, which is certainly rare! Casserole + one dish to clean = win! This was such a satisfying meal. I've never cooked with chipotle chile in adobo sauce (canned, in the Mexican section of your grocery store), and there's a reason you should only add one to two teaspoons. I stuck my finger in the can as soon as I opened it to get a taste, and immediately started choking and my eyes started burning. It's got some kick! We used one teaspoon, which was enough spice for us. If you REALLY love spicy food, add the additional teaspoon!

If you have more to serve, this could easily be doubled. Simply make the increased ingredients in a larger 12-inch skillet, and then transfer to a glass baking dish to broil.

This is great served right from the skillet, or topped with sour cream...yum!

Tortilla Casserole

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 teaspoons minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
5 ounces tortilla chips, broken into one-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
1 tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped medium
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Adjust an oven rack to about 6 inches below the broiler unit, and heat the broiler. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, shallot, garlic, chipotle, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the skillet and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits.

3. Stir in half of the tortilla chips. Nestle the chicken into the broth and chips, cover, and cook over medium-low heat until the thickest part of the breast registers 160 to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a carving board. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces using two forks.

4. Return the shredded chicken to the skillet along with the tomato, 1/2 cup of the cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro. Stir in the remaining tortilla chips until moistened.

5. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and place and skillet in the oven. Broil until golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Using potholders, remove the skillet from the oven. Let the casserole cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and serve.

Pizza Dough

I love me some pizza, so why have I never attempted pizza dough? You got me. I turned to my trusty New Best Recipe and I wasn't disappointed! This recipe is supposed to make 3 pizza doughs, but I think I didn't let it rise long enough. I'll definitely make this again!

If only making one pizza, make the full recipe and divide into three once the dough is done rising. Place the extra dough in separate airtight containers and freeze them for up to several weeks. Defrost and stretch the dough when desired.

I used to be intimidated by yeast recipes before I bought a candy thermometer. Now, for a recipe like this, I'll keep filling up a measuring cup and checking the temperature of the water until it's at 110 degrees. It takes all the guesswork out of it!

The best way to cook the dough once you add all your toppings is on a pre-heated pizza stone. Heat the oven to 500 degrees and place the stone into the oven for at least 30 minutes. Bake in the oven for 8 - 12 minutes, until the crust edge browns and the cheese is golden brown in spots.

Pizza Dough

If you want to make the pizza dough in the morning and let rise on the counter all day, decrease the yeast to 1/2 teaspoon and let the covered dough rise at room temperature (about 68 degrees) until doubled in size, about 8 hours. You can prolong the rising time even further by refrigerating the covered dough for up to 16 hours, and then letting it rise on the counter until doubled in size, about 6 to 8 hours.

1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting (all-purpose flour can be used, but it won't be as crisp)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl

1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

2. Process the flour and salt in a standing mixer (or 11 cup food processor) to combine. Continue to mix ingredients while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a couple of tablespoons) in with the dry ingredients. If the dough does not readily form a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse or mix until a ball forms. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic.

3. Turn out the flour and knead by hand to form a smooth round ball - or replace your paddle with a dough hook and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bough, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate - it is now ready to use!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon, Shallots, and Capers

Source: The New Best Recipe

I've never had scallops before, but wanted to try these since scallops are incredibly easy to cook. Basically, get a pan hot, cook for a couple of minutes, turn over for another 30 seconds or so, and you're done! You never want to overcook scallops.

I really enjoyed these, and the sauce was a perfect accompaniment. You can't go wrong when lemon, white wine, and capers come together! If you're looking for an impressive but easy dish, this fits the bill!

Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon, Shallots, and Capers

1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
Salt and ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 medium shallot, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest and 1 tablespoon juice from lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced capers
Salt and ground black pepper

1. Sprinkle the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat until hot, about 1 minute. Add half the butter and swirl to coat the pan bottom. Continue to heat the pan until the butter beings to turn golden brown.

2. Add half the scallops, one at a time, flat-side down. Cook, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the fat from burning, until the scallops are well browned 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Using tongs, turn the scallops, one at a time. Cook until medium-rare (the sides have firmed up and all but the middle third of the scallop is opaque), 30 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes longer, depending on size. Remove to a platter and cover.

3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet and saute the shallot in the fat until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and lemon zest and simmer until reduced to about 1/3 cup, 6 to 7 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the butter, parsley, lemon juice, capers, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the scallops and serve at once.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

Source: Giada de Laurentis

Oh, Giada. You never let me down! I picked this recipe because I'd been purchasing Healthy Choice microwaveable bowls, and while convenient, they are pretty flavorless. I love the little meatballs, though, so I wondered if I could make a better version myself.

Well, it turns out I can (copy Giada). I was a little concerned the broth would be somewhat flavorless since it's just chicken broth, some endive, and the egg/Parmesan mixture. But I thought it was VERY flavorful! I typically use ground turkey for any recipe that calls for ground meat, but I made these as stated in the recipe, and they were SO good! Make sure you use fresh parsley! I've been taking it to work for lunch all week, and I daresay it gets better as the week goes on! I may make another batch this week!

Italian Wedding Soup



1 small onion, grated
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 large egg
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 slice fresh white bread, crust trimmed, bread torn into small pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
Freshly ground black pepper


12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound curly endive, coarsely chopped (1 pound of escarole would be a good substitution)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. To make the meatballs: Stir the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the cheese, beef and pork. Using 1 1/2 teaspoons for each, shape the meat mixture into 1-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a baking sheet.

2. To make the soup: Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and curly endive and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the curly endive is tender, about 8 minutes. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a medium bowl to blend. Stir the soup in a circular motion. Gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a fork to form thin stands of egg, about 1 minute. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve. Finish soup with parmesan cheese if desired.