5/31/11

Crab Rangoon Style Pizza Appetizers

A baked version of crab rangoon
Regular visitors to An American Housewife will remember my posts using Pillsbury Crescent Rolls as the base of a delicious appetizer topped with cream cheese, ranch dressing mix and fresh vegetables.  A couple years ago I came across a recipe that reminded me (loosely) of this, but with a twist;  it was made with crab rangoon ingredients.  It caught my eye at the time because our family loves homemade Crab Rangoon Wontons.

The recipe I put into my files used a pizza crust but I started to wonder if it wouldn't be even better using the crescent rolls as a crust instead of the pizza dough; similar to the other appetizer base.


I am going to post it from my files with the store bought pizza crust as listed but I'm already playing with this recipe in my mind to two one of two things;  either I'll make my own homemade crust (I never buy canned pizza dough, always make it from scratch) or I will try this recipe with the crescent rolls pressed into the pan and the seals sealed to make a bottom crust.  I think that's my first choice.  Have any of you tried this yet???

Crab Rangoon Pizza Appetizers

1 1/2 T cornmeal
1 can (13.8-ounce) Pillsbury Refrigerated Classic Pizza Crust
2 cans (6-ounce) white crab meat, drained, flaked
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/2 t seafood seasoning (Old Bay)
1 (8-ounce) package shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 c thinly sliced green onions
1/2 c diced red pepper


Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 12-inch pizza pan with non-stick cooking Spray. Sprinkle cornmeal evenly over pan. Unroll pizza crust dough on pan; press dough onto pan, leaving a 1/2-inch rim around the edge.

In a small bowl, combine crab meat, cream cheese, mayonnaise and seafood seasoning. Spoon mixture over pizza crust. Sprinkle with cheese, then green onions and chopped pepper.

Bake at 425 degrees F. 15 to 18 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown. Let stand 2 minutes before cutting into wedges.
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5/28/11

Vanilla Dipped Red, White and Blue Strawberries

It's Memorial Day weekend...  a time to remember and honor those who have served for our country and gotten us the blessings and liberties we enjoy (and take for granted) today.  My own thoughts are often turning to my Grandfather, who earned a Purple Heart and was MIA for some time, lost in the jungle; but also to my baby brother who is currently serving in Afghanistan.

While I have a full weekend of tasks, projects and chores to accomplish, I will be attending a friends garden party on Monday in honor of the holiday.

What will I bring to the patriotic garden party?  I'm not sure yet!  I do best when I decide at the last minute.  However, I was thinking about how well chocolate covered strawberries go over...  (which I've posted previously as it's a favorite snack of my 15 year old daughter).  But... Memorial day is a weekend of honoring the red, white and blue

I love the look of bright red strawberries dipped in white almond bark.  So let's add some 'blue' to the red and white...  and you have a great Memorial Day Weekend or Fourth of July Weekend treat!

Chocolate & Vanilla Almond Bark
Pat the berries dry so the bark will adhere

 
Vanilla Red, White and Blue Strawberries

1 quart strawberries, washed and patted or air dried
1/2 lb. vanilla almond bark
blue sugar crystals (from the cake decorating area of your local store)

Melt the almond bark in the microwave in a bowl, at half power or as directed on the package.  You can also melt it in a double boiler or in a bowl over a pan of water on the stove.  Do not heat on high and do not 'over' cook it.  It will melt quickly and smoothly by stirring.  Use your fingers, a fork or toothpicks to dip the bottom half of a clean, dry strawberry into the mixture.  Let the excess drip off or run the edge over the bowl or a spoon to remove the excess from pooling.  Hold it just a moment to let the bark set up just a little bit and then dip the bottom 1/4 of the berry into the blue sugar crystals.

Place on wax paper or parchment paper and let set up completely.  Serve the same day you prepare them if possible.
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5/26/11

Cream Cheese and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Red Pepper and Broccoli

Years ago we would sit down to dinner and after a few bites my husband would exclaim, "You've got to make this again!" and invariably I'd have to mumble; "Um, I don't think I can.  I made it up."   He and the kids started to ask instead, "Did you write this one down?"

I've learned a tiny bit since then... not much, I admit, but I sometimes remember to grab the camera and take pictures along the way. Tonight, I'm glad I did. I have a delicious stuffed chicken recipe I made up using 'whatever' was on hand in the refrigerator and I just had a feeling it was going to be good so I grabbed my camera and remembered to wipe my hands clean and take a few shots along the way.

Remember; play with your food!  Add or delete what you have on hand or what you do or don't like.  Play with the amounts a little bit too.  A touch more of this, a little less of that.  Don't go crazy of course or you'll ruin the dish, but if you like more feta and less garlic, feel free to improvise.



Cream Cheese and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts
with Red Pepper and Broccoli


3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts  (will make 6-8 servings)
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese (softened in the microwave)
2 T red pepper, diced
1/3 c broccoli, chopped (fresh! Not frozen)
1 t minced garlic
2 T crumbled, cooked bacon
2 oz. feta, crumbled
2 green onions, chopped with the green
1/2 c flour mixed with 1 t dry Italian Seasoning
1/2 c panko style bread crumbs (seasoned or plain)
salt and pepper

Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so they are thinner.  Then pound them thin between layers of plastic or wax paper. 

Mix the garlic, red pepper, broccoli, bacon crumbles, feta and green onions with the cream cheese in a bowl.  Spoon about 2 T of the mixture onto each chicken breast.  Roll up and secure with 2-3 toothpicks.  Mix the bread crumbs and flour together and dredge each rolled up breast into the flour/crumbs.  Place on a well oiled baking sheet.  I used about 1/4 c olive oil on a large sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 1 hour.  Turn over the last 15 minutes or drizzle the tops with oil so they are golden all over and dry flour/bread crumb mixture is left showing. Serve from the oven.


 Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so they are are half as thin

Pound between plastic or wax paper to make thinner

 Add delicious veggies!  Here are 2 green onions

Feta cheese adds to the flavor but you can leave out if you don't have it
  

Garlic, broccoli and red pepper... yum!


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5/25/11

Vanilla Charlotte with Raspberries

If you've been following the news this week you'll know that yesterday the Obama's met with the Queen in England.  Skimming over the article I noticed they printed the menu of what was served at dinner.  Lamb was on the menu and...  Vanilla Charlotte.

Vanilla Charlotte.  Doesn't that just sound delicious!?

A charlotte is a classic European dessert that begins with a mold lined with sponge cake or ladyfingers and filled with custard, fruit or mousse. I immediately knew I wanted to post a recipe for Charlotte on my American Housewife site for making soon.  This recipe is from Chef Gale Gand of Tru Restaurant in Chicago.


Vanilla Charlotte with Raspberries


1 (7-ounce) package ladyfingers
2 (1/2-pint) containers raspberries

4 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
12 large egg yolks
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
White chocolate curls (see below), optional
Confectioners’ sugar


Coat 8-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Line with parchment paper, using a circle for the bottom and a 4-inch-wide strip for the sides. Generously spray the parchment. Stand the ladyfingers up around the insides of the pan.

Pick over the raspberries, saving the best ones, a little less than 1/2 pint, to garnish the finished charlotte. Have ready near your cooktop a large bowl. Fill it 3/4 full with ice and cover ice with water.

Bring milk and vanilla bean to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn off heat and let vanilla steep in milk for 10 minutes.

In small bowl, gradually sprinkle gelatin over cold water and set aside to soften.

In medium bowl, whisk egg yolks with granulated sugar for about 1 minute to combine, then gradually pour in hot milk, whisking continuously. Return mixture to saucepan and, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, cook over medium heat until sauce has thickened and is 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, being careful not to overcook or you will have scrambled eggs!

Immediately stir softened gelatin into custard until dissolved. Strain mixture through fine-mesh sieve into medium bowl. Place bowl of custard into bowl of ice water and stir frequently until custard starts to cool and thicken.

Fold in the less-than-perfect berries (don’t worry if they break up a bit) and then pour the custard into the ladyfinger-lined pan. Smooth top of custard and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

To serve, trim ladyfingers even with top of custard. Invert charlotte onto serving platter. Remove mold and parchment. Arrange reserved raspberries around edge of charlotte and pile white chocolate curls in center. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into wedges.
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5/24/11

Focaccia

I love a good Focaccia. However, I think the secret to making a good one might be double based; a good recipe and good technique. I'm am hoping to find both. A good recipe to start and one my own technique can shine through to give me a chewy bread with a nice sturdy crust, yet easy to bite through, chewy yet not heavy and the perfect tiny 'crunch' or 'bite' at the end when my teeth come together. Focaccia is such a joy for me to eat when I find a good one and it's fresh, with not-too-hard of a crust bite through (as it gets by the 2nd day).

Here is one I've added to my files. I have 3 that I'd like to try soon and hope to find the time to post them here for future reference. If you make them first you'll have to email me to let me know whether they are a 'go' or a 'no'!

Focaccia


2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 tablespoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foam appears. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn't form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise over a gas pilot light on the stovetop or other warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Coat a sheet pan with a little olive oil and corn meal. Once the dough is doubled and domed, turn it out onto the counter. Roll and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about 1/2-inch thick. Lay the flattened dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, coat a small saute pan with olive oil, add the onion, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes until the onions caramelize. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover the dough and dimple with your fingertips. Brush the surface with more olive oil and then add caramelized onions, garlic, olives, cheese, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake on the bottom rack for 15 to 20 minutes.
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5/20/11

White Chocolate Almond Cake

We held my youngest daughter's First Communion Party at a local Buca Di Beppo restaurant in the Twin Cities (where we lived at the time).  At her party I fell in love with one of their signature cakes.  Ever since then I've been on the look out for versions of almond cakes. (Which the tri-color Celebration Cake they made back then with pistachio nuts on the outside and the image of Italy on the top looks and tastes nothing like what you find now - and apparently the Celebration Cake offered is regional as some area's have Red Velvet offered as their Celebration Cake.)

The way this White Chocolate Almond cake is presented is just so fitting and beautiful for a Spring or Summer get-together.  It's a stock photo obviously but I hope to update with my own version this summer when things settle down around here and life isn't quite so crazy.  So for my own files... and yours too  - keep this one tucked away for future reference!




White Chocolate Almond Cake

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (16-ounce) package light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 cup hot water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Melt semisweet chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH for 30-second intervals until melted (about 1 1/2 minutes total time). Stir until smooth.

Beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer, beating about 5 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add melted chocolate, beating just until blended.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to chocolate mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Gradually add 1 cup hot water in a slow, steady stream, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in vanilla. Use immediately, following directions for desired cake.

1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate morsels
1 cup coarsely chopped slivered almonds, toasted

Spoon batter evenly into 3 greased and floured 8-inch square pans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire rack.

Melt white chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH for 30-second intervals until melted (about 1 1/2 minutes total). Stir until smooth, and spread in a 1/4-inch-thick layer on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with almonds. Chill 30 minutes or until firm. Remove from baking sheet, and chop.

Spread Vanilla Buttercream Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Press chopped white chocolate mixture into top and sides of cake. If desired, tie a decorative ribbon around sides of cake.
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5/14/11

Vegetable Squares (Like a cold vegetable pizza appetizer)


Yesterday I was craving... vegetables!  Cauliflower, red peppers, Jicama, broccoli, celery, green onions; all of it!  And I knew just the thing.  A cold Vegetable Square dish that I've been making regularly since I was about 14 years old.

Our family loves cold, fresh vegetables dipped in a thick ranch dip made with a dressing mix and sour cream.  This is similar except improved and served on a light, flaky crust to make it portable and more of an appetizer or even a light lunch.

Change it each time you make it by adding different vegetables.  You can also add black olives if you wish.  A food chopper makes preparation quick and easy but even if I use one, I like to chop the broccoli separate and into pieces a little larger as I feel it helps with overall presentation.

I used 1 carrot, 1 stalk celery, 2 cups broccoli, 1 cup cauliflower, 1 green onion, 1/3 red pepper

Vegetable Squares

1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese (I like to use 1/3 fat)
1/2 dry package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 clove fresh minced garlic
Various vegetables - chopped
1 can oven ready crescent rolls (the kind you roll out and bake yourself) Low fat is fine.

Open the can of crescent rolls and press the seams together to form one full crust on a baking sheet or pan.  The size can be anywhere from 8X8 to 9X13.  The size of the pan determines how thick you want your crust to be.  Bake at 375 for about 13 minutes as directed on the package.  Let cool while you mix the cream cheese, fresh garlic, dressing mix and mayonnaise with an electric mixer until smooth.

Spread the cream cheese mixture on the baked crust.  Top by sprinkling a variety of fresh vegetables on top.  Almost any vegetable you would normally dip in a fresh dip or dressing would work.  Carrots, cucumbers, jicama, cauliflower, red, yellow and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, celery and more.  Eat immediately or chill to serve ice cold.
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5/12/11

Rambling of a Housewife; Teenagers and Pure Fruit Smoothies


My 18 year old son can't seem to get enough of smoothies lately.  

Over the past year this child of mine has been the 'ice cream shake' kid. Not just a simple ice cream shake, but he is a man of habit.  It had to be ice cream, Oreo's, chocolate and peanut butter.  Blessed with an incredible metabolism, he would have his 'shake' almost every other night and still has the same 26" waist he had when he was about 4 years old.  

About two months ago he switched it up.  Grabbing a bag of frozen fruit from the deep freeze, he asked me if this is what his sisters and I used for fruit smoothies?  He proceeded to make a fruit smoothie using... fruit.  And just enough water to make it liquid.  He was hooked.  From then on the ice cream took a back seat and fruit was the new 'in' thing.  Our freezer is always stocked with a variety of frozen fruits such as mango's, mixed berries, strawberries; although now that he is on board the 'fruit' train, we seem to go through them at a record pace!

I've always loved pureed fruit but I have never embraced the fruit smoothies made with dairy.  Whether you use milk, yogurt or anything else in the smoothie, I'm sure you love it, but I gag.  Not a fan of milk, ice cream or yogurt in general, I don't like it in my fruit smoothies either.  Pure fruit please.  And only fruit!  It seems my son has taken after me (although my oldest daughter makes her smoothies with yogurt and likes them just fine and my younger daughter loves Orange Julius which is made with milk).

As I laid in bed reading last night before falling asleep,  I heard him exit his bedroom and walk down the stairs to the kitchen for a late night snack.  Within a minute or two I heard the blender whirling.  

I smiled.


Edited to Add a response to the comments:  

Kimmie!  YES!  Omgosh.  It's a family joke around here that after eating a fairly good sized dinner he will stand up and suck his stomach in... and it is no where to be seen!  His stomach sucks into being about 3 inches wide.  WHERE does this food go!?  His sisters and I eat a grape and we have a bulge.  LOL.

In November my son had our huge Thanksgiving meal and the next day we went to Grandma's house and had another big Thanksgiving meal.  That evening he stepped on the scale and smugly showed his sisters;  he LOST three pounds.  They hate him.  LOL.

Edited to add response II:  Yes Cowboy Joe - I think the Nutella is a close comparison.  If you can imagine drinking Nutella Tea.  LOL.

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5/6/11

Tomorrow Night is Pizza Night - My Favorite Greek Style Pizza (with spinach, garlic & feta!)

Many of you have been visiting this website since it first started back in 2006.  If so, then you know what Saturday night is around our household;  pizza night!

All who know us know that Saturday at 6:pm there will be at least 2 or 3 pizza's up for grabs to whomever is here.  I'm told by my 18 year old son that I can expect at least 3 extra teenage boys tomorrow night and he asked if I would specifically make sure to have one stuffed crust version.

Absolutely.  But for me?  One I've featured many times on An American Housewife - my favorite Greek Style Pizza with spinach, garlic and feta cheese.



Greek Style Pizza

Prepare basic pizza dough. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

1/2 c mayonnaise
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 c crumbled feta cheese
1 12 inch pre baked crust
1/2 c oil packed sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped plus 1 T of the oil
1/4 c pitted Kalamata Olives, chopped
1 t dried oregano
2 c baby spinach leaves
1/2 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450. Mix mayonnaise, garlic and 1/2 c feta in bowl. Place pizza crust on cookie sheet and spread the mayonnaise mixture over. Top with tomatoes, olives and oregano. Bake 10 minutes. Toss spinach and onion with 1 T tomato oil. Top the hot pizza with this mixture and the remaining feta. Return to oven, bake 2-3 minutes longer. Cut and serve.




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5/4/11

Spring has sprung!  I know this is true because my body has made a change over the last week to start to crave lighter meals and salads...  a sure sign when you live in heartland of America. 

Time for simple salads and almost anything goes!  I've been craving my favorite 7 layer salad, which includes layers of lettuce and peas with cheese and bacon on top, held together with a mayonnaise dressing... but my kids prefer Ranch Dressing.  If yours do too, enjoy this salad and watch them gobble up their greens!





Try a layered salad in a trifle bowl for a delicious meal and pretty presentation.

From the bottom up, layer;

1 bag fresh spinach or  mixed lettuce
1 c fresh or frozen peas
sliced hard boiled eggs (about 6)
1 - 16 oz. container sour cream mixed with 1 dry pkg. ranch dressing
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Top with 1 cup cooked, crumbled bacon

Cover and chill overnight.  Serve!
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