Friday, January 28, 2011

Basil Pesto

Classic Basil Pesto

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

2 cups gently packed fresh sweet basil leaves

½ cup olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons raw pine nuts, toasted

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

In a food processor, pulse the first four ingredients in spurts, just until there are no whole leaves.With the machine running, pour the olive oil through the feed tube in a steady stream. Stop and scrape down sides, then pulse again (not too much because you want the texture from the leaves still). Add pine nuts and pulse again (just enough to chop them a bit), then add cheese. You can add more olive oil for desired consistency, but if freezing I usually just enough olive oil to hold it together in a chunky paste. At this point, I portion it into plastic bags to freeze. You could also portion it by freezing it in ice cube trays and then after frozen, pop them into a freezer bag.

I froze a bunch in one container to keep them a bit more uniform.
This post is to get you thinking ahead about your spring garden plans! January is always so depressing so it was fun for me to be able to pull out and enjoy a bit of summer for dinner.
So what do you do with pesto, you ask? Don't be intimidated. It sounds fancy restaurant-y, but it's a really easy way to spice up any Italian dish you make. I use it for my throw together pasta dishes (see below), but you can also use it with chicken dishes, spread it on a homemade pizza instead of marinara sauce, use it instead of mayo on a sandwich, or put it on some toasted bread with chopped up tomatoes and parmesan... mmm!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Herb Chicken

This recipe has a light, slightly tangy sauce. We liked this one a lot.
(From Holly Clegg's Freezer Friendly Meals book)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 T. flour
2 T. butter
2 green onions, chopped
2 t. dried parsley
3/4 c. chicken broth (or white wine, or white grape juice)
1/2 t. dried rosemary
1/2 t. dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with the flour.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and brown the chicken on both sides (about 5-7 minutes each side). If you are eating this for dinner right away, make sure the chicken is done. Remove the chicken to a baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix the green onions, parsley, broth, rosemary, and thyme. Pour into the skillet and stir with bits remaining in pan. Cook over medium heat until bubbly. Pour over the chicken.

If eating now, serve right away. If not, cool to room temperature, wrap, label, and freeze. To eat after freezing, thaw and bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is done.

*Note: The next time I do this, I think I will double the sauce so that I have a bit (doesn't really need much - it's a strong sauce) extra to put on mashed potatoes to go with the chicken.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pizza, Pizza!

What's better on a Friday night than a frozen pizza you can pop in the oven to feed the kids while you escape with your hubby for the evening? My sister-in-law asked me for this recipe earlier this week, reminding me that this would be a good one to post.

Jay's Signature Pizza Crust


· 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

· 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

· 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

· 1 teaspoon salt

· 2 tablespoons olive oil

· 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour


1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.

2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.

3. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.

5. Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

*Note: to keep the crust from baking to my pan I generously sprinkle some cornmeal on the pizza stone.

I love homemade pizzas! This is not only because they taste better and are incredibly cheap (around $1.75-ish for one medium sized pizza, depending on your toppings) but also, once you find a good dough recipe, you can play around with whatever toppings you want. Pepperoni is a standard favorite around here. We've also done plain old cheese, supreme, BBQ chicken (BBQ sauce, red onion, and cooked, chopped chicken dipped in more BBQ sauce), our own version of Papa Murphy's garlic chicken, and (only liked by mommy) spinach, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes. Oh, and our favorite tomato base is Shirley J's Pizza and Pasta Seasoning Mix - (1 T. of the seasoning to 1 small can of tomato sauce - we use just less than 2 cans to one batch of dough).
What I usually do is mix up a batch of the pizza dough, split it into thirds, make 2 pizzas for dinner that night, and then par-bake the last 1/3 of the dough and freeze that separately for a quick dinner for me and the kids on a night when Ric isn't going to be home for dinner. This is my ugly shaped crust:
So to par-bake them, you get the crust all shaped and then bake it at 500 degrees for 3 minutes, remove it from the pan/pizza stone and let it cool completely. At this point, you can just wrap it up and freeze it, or you could also throw all your toppings on and freeze it all ready to go. Either way, when you're ready to eat it, you heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 10-15 minutes (once the crust is golden brown and all of the cheese is melted). OR, you could just freeze the dough in blobs before you let it raise. So many options....!

Friday, January 7, 2011


I am excited to share with you some freezer meals my family has enjoyed! Freezer meals just make all kinds of sense to me. "Make it once, eat it twice" - it's a great time saver. So I will be posting a new freezer meal (or sometimes dessert!) every Friday.
I started to do this on my family blog, but due to threats of mutiny on account of our "family blog" becoming a "cooking blog" I have decided that this is the safer option. ;) So for my first Freezer Food Fridays post, please feel free peruse some of my previous postings: