Jalapeño Popper Cheesy Stuffed Pretzel Bites

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It’s been a minute since I made these. These poppers from The Slow Roasted Italian were one of my contributions to the Super Bowl spread back in February, but with March Madness back in full gear this weekend, I though some cheesy game food made sense.

But honestly, it’s not like I really need a special occasion for these when you’re talking cheese + beer + japaenos + salty pretzels. Just maybe someone to help us eat them!

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Making these pretzel bites went much more smoothly than the last time I tried making homemade pretzel buns. Let’s just say adding baking soda to boiling water can end up like those volcanos you used to make with baking soda and vinegar as a kid. I was seriously cleaning baking soda off my stove and oven forever (it was even between the glass on the oven door). So as you can imagine, I appreciated that this recipe added baking soda to hot water in a bowl. And I can promise you I set that bowl in the sink when I added it just in case!

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The dough for these bites starts off using a beer rather than water for the main liquid in the dough. The recipe was written using a Blue Moon, however I used a Belgain white beer. I think you could work with anything lighter in the lager-hefeweisen class, although I’m not sure you would want to go too dark or too hoppy for this recipe. If you’d rather not try the beer, the original poster comments that you could substitute water or milk.

Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Cheesy Pretzel Bites
From The Slow Roasted Italian

Ingredients:
12 ounces warm light beer warmed in the microwave to 110-120 degrees
2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
12 ounces of bacon, cooked and chopped into bite-sized pieces
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 (4oz) can diced jalapenos (can sub chopped green chiles)
1 large egg
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. Kosher salt plus more for pretzel tops
2 Tbsp. baking soda
2 cups water

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Pour beer into a microwave-safe bowl and heat until it reaches 110-120 degrees F. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Add sugar and stir. Allow the yeast mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy and smells like yeast.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix cheese, cooked bacon, and jalapeños.

In a small bowl, beat egg and set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Add flour and salt to the mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on to speed 1 for 3-5 minutes until the dough comes together in 1 ball. Add more flour a tablespoon at a time as needed if the bread is too sticky. Turn the speed up to 2 and add flour slowly (1 tablespoon at a time) until the dough is no longer tacky, about 1-2 minutes. Take the dough out of the mixer and form into a ball. In order to divide the dough in pieces, first quarter  the dough. Roll each quarter into a fat log. Cut the log into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a long and cut into 3 more pieces. When you are done, you should have 36 pieces.

Fill a medium bowl with 2 cups of hot water and SLOWLY add baking soda. Place the baking sheet, baking soda after, and the cheese mixture on the counter within reach.

Roll each dough piece into a ball and then flatten it into a circle. Add 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture in the center. Carefully pull each side over the cheese and pinch to seal the cheese mixture completely inside. Set aside until you have 3 stuffed balls. Transfer the 3 stuffed balls into the hot water mixture. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and set on the baking pan. Continue until you have filled all the dough pieces. Brush egg wash onto the balls and sprinkle with course salt.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until the tops are browned. Enjoy!

Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Casserole

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Last week we had a little “going away” breakfast party for a couple of the guys at work who were leaving us. I work with a pretty big group of people, so it is always fun to do a work potluck where I you to eat a little bit of a whole bunch of different foods!

There were already quite a few people signed up to bring breakfast ‘sweets’ – bagels, muffins, doughnuts. So I was looking for something on the savory side that would be easy to transport. The only caveat to this was due to dietary restrictions, it would be much easier to have the dish be vegetarian. Enter the idea for an egg casserole, except I needed a recipe. My dad has made one growing up, but it always contained Polish sausage and would be a bit plain without the meat.

In a recipe search, I came across this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction that looked pretty customizable. Bonus in that it was make-ahead because let me be honest. I already had to bake this and be into work by 6:30 that morning. And I don’t function too well in the morning any earlier than that.

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I mostly used her recipe as a base, swapping and adding things where I thought it might be good. As mentioned above, I did not add any meat, thus I ended up adding some shredded hash browns to the cooked veggie mixture in an attempt to ‘heft’ the casserole up a touch. Other than no mushrooms, I largely followed her veggie list, adding only a jalapeño that happened to be in my fridge. I used normal sandwich bread for the bread in the recipe, although I’m sure any type of bakery loaf you may have would be awesome here as well. Just know that it can work with the bread you normally have in the house too 🙂

On the bake time, I will say to watch it closely. I also baked mine on the longer side, 53 minutes to be exact, as I was concerned about ensuring the middle was cooked (particularly as I had added the potatoes). The eggs themselves were not over baked, however the bottom of the casserole was more of a dark tan color. I might shave a few minutes off that next time and keep it closer to the 48-50min range. Keep in mind, if the casserole has a chance to cool off for a bit, it will seem to ‘set up’ more as well. I cannot speak to reheating as the casserole did not make it until lunch at work, but I have had success reheating egg bakes in the past. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Casserole
Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 bell peppers of any color, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10 oz) pkg baby spinach
1/3 to 1/2 pkg frozen shredded hash browns
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of bread (any type desired), torn into bite-sized pieces
10 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Non-stick spray

Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil. When warm, add the bell peppers, onions, and jalapeño and sauté for 4-5 mintues, or until crisp-tender. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the potatoes and cook until warmed through (this should help get out any extra water). Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the vegetables aside.

Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Add the torn bread in a (mostly) single layer over the bottom of the pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Stir in 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour half of the egg mixture over the bread. Top with the vegetables and cover with the remaining egg mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the casserole.

Spray the bottom of a piece of aluminum foil with non-stick spray. Cover the casserole and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Remove and allow to come to room temperature prior to baking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the casserole, uncovered, until the top is golden, the edges are crispy, and the middle appears to be set or about 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool as desired (will ‘set up’ slightly more as it cools).

Roasted Poblano Salsa Chicken Enchiladas

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First of all, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I have a very non-Irish dinner idea for tonight.

One thing my husband will readily tell you is that I’ve never been the cleanest cook. There’s a reason the dogs in this house hang around in the kitchen if I’m working in there. Nonetheless, please tell me I am not the only person who gets cilantro EVERYWHERE whenever I try to use it in my kitchen. Chopping it is the worst. I swear I’ll find it for days after I thought I had cleaned it up. I thought I would be smart making the salsa for these enchiladas and just add it to my blender straight off the bunch. I was going to blend it anyway, right? No, there was still cilantro on the floor and somehow on the opposite kitchen counter…

This becomes a real problem for me as Mexican/southwest flavors are some of my favorite things for dinner.

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Enter these enchiladas from Iowa Girl Eats. I wish you could even just smell this salsa over the blog world. So. Good. I warmed up a leftover enchilada for lunch this week, and all of my coworkers were wondering what smelled so good!

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The entirety of this dish does take a little bit to put together. First, you make the salsa, then cook the chicken, grate the cheese (ugh, but worth it), assemble, and bake. I really think the salsa is what makes this dish. I almost can’t wait to make this again this summer with some garden tomatoes as it was great with mid-March grocery store tomatoes. Don’t substitute traditional enchilada sauce here. It isn’t hard and is worth the time. Find a day/weekend where you can set aside time to make it. I promise you won’t regret it!

I’m sure you could make these quicker by making the salsa and chicken ahead of time. IGE recommends that it can be made up to 3 days in advance, but I’m finding myself wondering if it would be freezable as that would make the time commitment for this next to nothing (probably almost a 30 minute meal).

Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Roasted Poblano Salsa Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:
For the Roasted Poblano Salsa:
1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 poblano pepper
1 small red onion, peeled and halved
1 head garlic, top 1/4-inch sliced off to reveal cloves
1/4 cup packed cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1 Tbsp. salt
1-2 tsp. black pepper

For the Enchiladas:
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 – 1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 – 1 tsp. black pepper
8-10 fajita-sized whole wheat tortillas
8oz freshly shredded Queso Quesadilla (by refrigerated tortillas at the store)

For the Cucumber Pico de Gallo:
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

For the salsa, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Add tomatoes, poblano pepper, and onion to the baking sheet then brush with extra virgin olive oil to coat. Place the head of garlic in the middle of a smaller piece of foil and drizzle generously with olive oil. Seal the garlic into a pouch of foil and place on the baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping everything but the garlic halfway through. Decrease the heat on the oven to 350 degrees.

Once cool enough to handle, transfer the tomatoes and onion to a food processor or blender. Cut the top off the poblano pepper and remove any seeds and membranes. Add to the blender. Squeeze all of the garlic cloves out into the blender (they should be soft). Add cilantro, lime juice, 1 Tbsp. salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper. Process until smooth then taste and add more salt and/or pepper if desired.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, onions, garlic salt, and black pepper and sauté until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the prepared salsa into the bottom of the dish. Wrap each tortilla with a scoop of the chicken, 1-2 Tbsp. of salsa, and 1-2 Tbsp. shredded cheese. Place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat until all the ingredients have been used. Cover the enchiladas with salsa; you may have some salsa leftover. Top the enchiladas with the remaining cheese and eat the remaining salsa with chips if desired.

Spray a large piece of foil with non-stick spray and cover the baking dish (with spray-side down). Bake for 20 minutes. Switch oven to broil, remove the foil, and cook 2-3 minutes longer or until the cheese begins to brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes after baking.

While the enchiladas are baking, add the remaining chopped tomatoes, cucumber, jalapeño, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Toss to combine. Top each enchilada serving with a scoop of pico de gallo.

Green Chile Mac & Cheese

green chile macaroni and cheese bite

Brrr…. I know I really should not be complaining, but we’ve had ourselves a cool spell here in Arizona. Below freezing at night folks. We have been covering our plants outside with every extra sheet in the house for a couple nights now. Probably looks kind of funny if you drive by our house. Nonetheless, I really don’t want to lose our new Meyer lemon tree to the cold!

The cooler turn in the weather has both of us craving comfort food. Enter this macaroni and cheese. In fact, my husband asked specifically for it. As far as mac and cheese goes, the hubbs is a baked mac and cheese guy. He loves the crunch of the bread crumb topping. I can go either way (truthfully, I’ll eat both), but if I had to pick, I am probably more of a stove-top gal. Just can’t get over the creaminess! In light of his request, I went the baked route this time. That and it let me use my new croquettes that I received for Christmas 🙂

green chile macaroni and cheese

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The recipe is from A Zesty Bite, and the whole allure of this recipe for us was the green chiles in the sauce. They completely make this dish. As written, the recipe is scaled to be more of a side dish, but for the two of us, it worked perfectly as a main dish. For me, the cheese sauce ended up pretty thick, although I think this may have been more my fault than anything else. My other thought was that the macaroni to cheese ratio seemed really high. It is really rich as written, and I think I’d add more macaroni for the same amount of cheese sauce next time. A quick note, be careful when browning the bread crumbs under the broiler. I toasted mine a little to far. I’d check on them every minute or so.

All of that said, this mac and cheese met all those comfort food notes. We really enjoyed it, and I am thinking this will be a repeat recipe in this house. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Green Chile Mac & Cheese
Adapted slightly from A Zesty Bite

Ingredients:
4 oz. whole wheat elbow macaroni noodles (I think you could even double this to 8oz)
3 qts. water plus salt
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1-1/4 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp. non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (best results if you shred your own)
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (best results if you shred your own)
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
whole wheat Panko bread crumbs for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 6 minutes (al dente). Drain and rinse in cold water.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes. Slowly add the milk while whisking to avoid any clumps. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly (don’t let it get too thick). Add the Greek yogurt, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir in both cheeses and the green chiles. Mix until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the macaroni noodles until well coated.

Place in a casserole dish and sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs. Baking time will vary based on the size of your baking dish. For a large dish, bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling at the sides. Individual serving dishes will need a shorter baking time. Mine was done at about 15 minutes. When the cheese is bubbling, it is ready. Switch the oven to low broil for 2-3 minutes to brown the bread crumbs.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

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This recipe idea was completely my husband’s genius. See there is this little coffee shop café right next door to the pharmacy in the hospital. Per his report, the pharmacy staff will often eat there, especially on the weekends, and the chicken tortilla soup is one of the best things they make.

Now, I haven’t tried their version myself, but I think this one has to be pretty close . When we were hunting for recipes, I found there seems to be two variations of soup that bear the name chicken tortilla soup. One that is a broth-based soup with lots of southwestern-themed veggies, and one that is a creamier, thicker version with melted cheese. Don’t get me wrong, the first version is delicious. I’ve made it many times before. This second type is on a whole different level. Probably not as healthy of a level, but everything in moderation, right? 🙂 This recipe comes from Brown Eyed Baker. Michelle states that she came up with this recipe as a homemade version of a soup from a restaurant chain in Ohio. We were definitely on the right track.

I stayed pretty close to the recipe, but I did decrease the cayenne pepper by at least half. As written, it calls for 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. We can handle quite a bit of heat, but that’s a lot of cayenne pepper! I’d recommend starting slow. You can always add more if you want more heat. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Adapted slightly from Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1/2 white onion, minced
1/4 cup minced Anaheim pepper (about 1 pepper)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2-3 cups cooked shredded chicken
8 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded
3 (6-inch) corn tortillas, minced
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/8-1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
Tortilla strips, sour cream/Greek yogurt for garnish

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, Anaheim pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

In a separate bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the chicken broth. Add the mixture to the pot with the shredded chicken, cheddar cheese, minced tortillas, lime juice, diced tomatoes, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, and salt. Increase the heat to medium while stirring constantly to help the cheese melt. When the soup begins to bubble, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve topped with tortilla strips and/or sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.

Philly Cheesesteak

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One of the eating options at our undergraduate college was set-up fast-food style. It wasn’t a big name restaurant that you see at some of the big student unions, but a smaller operation ran by the same people that ran the cafeteria. You would walk up and literally write your name and order on a little slip of paper and hand it to whomever was cooking. They had you standard fast-food fare – burgers, chicken strips, mini pizzas, and Philly cheesesteaks. Those cheesesteaks were SO good. Horrible for you, I know, because they would drip grease, but how much do you care about that at 19?

To make a long story short, I haven’t had a Philly Cheesesteak in a long time because I know that it is definitely more of a splurge. You can imagine that I was really excited to find a makeover recipe in the March issue of Cooking Light!

philly cheesesteak meat options
philly cheesesteak

As I mentioned, it has been awhile since I’ve had a “real” cheesesteak, but these were pretty good in my book. The recipe came together really well. I did not include the mushrooms as they are not my cup of tea. My only note would be to be sure to make the cheese sauce just before you are ready to eat. I made mine too early, and ended up needing to reheat it. This did not go well as the sauce got really thick, but could be fixed easily enough. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Philly Cheesesteak
Adapted from Cooking Light March 2012

Ingredients:
1 (12 oz) flank steak, trimmed 
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1-1/2 cups thinly sliced green bell pepper
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 ounce provolone cheese, torn into small pieces
2 Tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
4 (3-inch) hoagie rolls, toasted  

Place beef in the freezer for 15 minutes. Cut beef across the grain into thin slices. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. 

Heat a large nonstick skillet over 2 minutes or until beef just loses its pink color, stirring constantly (mine took about 3-4 minutes). Remove beef from pan. Add remaining 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan. Add onion; saute 3 minutes. Add bell pepper, and garlic; saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Return beef to pan; saute 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Stir in Worcestershire and soy sauce; keep warm.

Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1/2-inch thick shell. Divide the beef mixture evenly amongst the bottom halves of the hoagies.  

Just before ready to eat, place flour in a small saucepan; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook 1 minute or until just slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Drizzle sauce evenly over beef mixture; replace top halves.

Ham, Cheese, and Broccoli Casserole

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Have leftovers from Easter still hanging around your house? I can’t help you too much with any leftover hard-boiled eggs, but this recipe will certainly help you use up that leftover ham and another surprising ingredient that may be hanging around your house after Easter dinner. Carrots… This recipe from Clean Eating for broccoli and cheese casserole actually uses cooked, pureed carrots to help slim down the cheese sauce.

Using up leftovers and turning them into a healthy meal? Sounds good in my book. I’ve made the recipe a couple of times. The second time I decreased the amount of crushed red pepper slightly, and we liked it much better. It is not really that it is too spicy with the full amount, but the flavor is just too overpowering.  Be sure to use a cheese that you really enjoy. I found a reduced-fat sharp cheddar by Cabot that works really well for this dish.

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Sadly, we both worked last weekend, so I don’t have any Easter leftovers. So, if anyone wants to send a bit of ham my way, I’d love to make this again! Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe) 

Ham, Cheese, and Broccoli Casserole
Adapted from Clean Eating: Classic Comfort Foods

Ingredients:
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups cauliflower florets
2  Tbsp. olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (originally 1 Tbsp)
1/2 lb. whole wheat pasta, desired shape
4 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
3/4 cup evaporated skim milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese 
1 cup, cubed cooked lean ham
1/2 cup whole wheat Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet, toss broccoli and cauliflower with oil and red pepper flakes. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside; reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. 

Meanwhile, boil some water in a medium saucepan. Add pasta and cook about 5 minutes or until al dente per package directions. Drain and set aside. 

In a separate medium saucepan, combine carrots, milk, and 1/2 cup water. Place on medium-low heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until carrots soften. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes. You can transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor; add cheese and pulse until smooth. Alternately, you can use an immersion blender (this is what I did). Set aside.

In an 8×10-inch baking dish, combine broccoli-cauliflower mixture, carrot-cheese mixture, pasta and ham. Spread mixture in an even layer. Cover with Panko bread crumbs and bake for 20 minutes or until topping is browned and bubbly. Serve immediately.

SRC: Stromboli

stromboli cut

Hope everyone had a great weekend. It is Secret Recipe Club time here again! This month I was assigned The Keenan Cookbook. The blog is ran by Chris, Rachel, and Baby Boy, and Chris indicates that they make a great team in the kitchen with him doing much of the cooking and Rachel taking most of the photos. The recipes on their website often come along with personal stories, and I really enjoyed all of their posts.

So how did I settle on this stromboli recipe? In the spirit of posting recipes with memories and family connections, we have our own stromboli story here. While it was a much different recipe, stromboli is the first meal that my husband (then boyfriend) made for me.

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stromboli cut from end

In the spirit of staying true to his recipe, I also made the pizza dough recipe that Chris suggests for this recipe. My other changes were minor – chicken sausage, turkey pepperoni, and smoked mozzarella. I also added some provolone cheese, although I am not sure this was a substitution. Chris doesn’t list this in his ingredient list, however his photo indicates there was some form of sliced cheese in addition to the mozzarella cubes. The dough recipe was different that others that I have made in that I felt the dough turned out stiff and hard to maneuver. Nonetheless, it baked up nicely and held in all the ingredients stuffed in this stromboli really well, so it may be worth a second try to see if my problems were user error.

stromboli bites

Be sure to stop by The Keenan Cookbook to check out his original version of the stromboli as well as all of their other recipes. I know I’ve bookmarked several other recipes to make myself. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Stromboli with Alton Brown’s Pizza Dough
From The Keenan Cookbook

Ingredients:
Dough:
4 Tbsp. sugar 
2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1-1/2 cups warm water
4 cups bread flour
2 tsp. instant yeast
non-stick spray

Stromboli:
1/2 recipe pizza dough 
3/4 lb. chicken sausage
1/2 pkg. turkey pepperoni
1/4 lb. deli salami, sliced 
1/4 lb. deli provolone cheese, sliced
8 oz. smoked mozzarella cheese
3 Tbsp. dried parsley
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 egg white, slightly beaten

For the dough, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the ingredients in the following order: sugar, salt, olive oil, water, 2 cups flour, yeast, and remaining 2 cups flour. Mix on low until the dough just comes together forming a ball. Spray the hook attachment with cooking spray. Swap the paddle attachment for the hook and knead for 15 minutes on medium speed. Tear off a small piece of the dough and flatten. Stretch the dough until thin. Hold it up to the light to see if you can see through it. If it tears, you will need to knead the dough for an additional 5-10 minutes. Form the dough into a smooth ball with your hands. Spray a large bowl with the non-stick spray and place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat the ball of dough with the spray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18-24 hours. I divided this in half, using half for the stromboli and the other half for a different pizza. The dough can be frozen by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and placing the wrapped ball of dough into a freezer ziplock bag. Remove from the freezer the morning you want to use it and place in the refrigerator. 

For the stromboli, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature (approximately 30 minutes). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, cook the sausage until cooked through. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle. Sprinkle with the herbs. Layer with meats and then cheeses. Starting with the long end of the rectangle, roll the dough up. Pinch the seams to seal. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet and pierce with a fork in several places. Brush with egg white. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Slice and enjoy!


Cheeseburger Salad

cheeseburger salad

By far, the most popular day at our work cafeteria is taco Thursdays. They make both normal tacos and taco salads served in those big, fried taco bowls. I typically bring my lunch to work, so I have yet to participate in taco Thursdays. Nevertheless, if you would sit outside the cafeteria, I would bet almost every single person walking out of that cafeteria has one of those big bowls. While those taco salads may be delicious, part of the reason that I have not yet indulged is just that. With all the meat (which I doubt is lean), cheese, and the fried bowl, I’m sure those salads are far from health food. 

From tacos to cheeseburgers, doesn’t seem like too far of a leap up the “healthy meter” but hear me out. Lean ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, whole wheat homemade croutons with no heavy dressing. May be a little higher in sodium due to the condiments and pickles, but not so bad after all. 

cheeseburger salad with homemade crutons

This salad is actually adapted from recipe that I saw on Ree’s site The Pioneer Woman. In the two weeks since I first noticed the recipe online, we have already made it twice. The second time requested specifically by my husband. It is that good. Almost better when I reassembled the leftovers for my Thursday cheeseburger salad lunch 🙂 Enough said. Enjoy!

cheeseburger salad further out

(Printable Recipe)

Cheeseburger Salad
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:
2 large whole wheat rolls, cut into 1-inch pieces
Butter-flavored non-stick spray
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
1 lb. lean ground beef (93 or 96%)
3 Tbsp. ketchup
1/2 tsp. yellow mustard
1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. barbecue sauce
1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and torn
1/4 – 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 Roma tomatoes, diced
4 whole dill pickles, cubed
1/2 red onion, sliced

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray the pieces of bread with the non-stick spray and toss. Sprinkle with the garlic salt and parsley and mix. Spread the cubes on a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes. Stir and bake for 15 more minutes or until brown and crispy.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. When cooked through, drain any fat from the pan. Add ketchup, mustards, and barbecue sauce and stir to combine. Keep warm.

To assemble each salad, divide the lettuce between plates. Layer on the meat, onions, tomatoes, pickles, cheese, and croutons. Serve immediately. The salad can be saved for lunch by storing the vegetables, croutons, and meat separately. Warm the meat up in the microwave just before eating, then assemble the ingredients.

Mexican Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Cheesy. Enchilada. Casserole. Not the terms that you would typically think of in a January meal. Surprise, this recipe is actually based from Cooking Light, although I found this adaption on Iowa Girl Eats this past summer. Not sure it would actually classify as “health food,” but when a Mexican craving strikes, this could certainly fulfill the requirements without doing too much damage to your diet. Good news in our book as Mexican is one of our favorite types of cuisines.

This recipe starts by cooking chicken breasts on the stove top in a mixture of chicken broth and green chiles. The cooked chicken is shredded and set aside as the chile mixture turns into your cheesy enchilada sauce. On a side note, did you know that you can shred a cooked chicken breast in your stand mixer? It works here or if you’ve boiled them on the stovetop. Just place the hot breast into the mixer with the paddle attachment and go. Perfect if you’re like me and always end up burning yourself while trying to shred the hot chicken 🙂

Our verdict: cheesy, lighter, and delicious! Looking through the ingredients, the dish is really a deconstructed enchilada layered lasagna-style into a baking dish, so if you have that soft spot in your heart for enchiladas, these should float your boat. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Mexican Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats (originally adapted from Cooking Light)

Ingredients:
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth 
2 (4.5oz) cans chopped green chiles, divided
1-1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup skim evaporated milk
1 (10oz) can enchilada sauce
2oz. 1/3-less fat cream cheese
1 cup (4oz) Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup (2oz) 2% sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
9 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1-2 oz tortilla chips, crushed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8-inch baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.

Heat the chicken broth and one can of the green chiles in a large skillet on medium-high heat. When boiling, add the chicken breasts and cook for 7-8 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken, shred, and set aside. Reserve the cooking liquid and set aside. 

Re-heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and second can of green chiles. Saute until the onions are soft, then add the evaporated milk, enchilada sauce, cream cheese, Monterey jack cheese, and reserved cooking liquid. Stir until sauce is combined, then add in the shredded chicken. Stir well, and remove from heat.

Lay 3 corn tortillas on the bottom of the baking dish, tearing them when necessary to cover the entire bottom of the dish. Top with 2 cups of the chicken mixture. Repeat the layers 2 more times, ending with the chicken layer on top. Top with the crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese on the top is golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.