Baker Stone Pizza Oven Box

When we were planning our new backyard living area the Hubs was contemplating building a pizza oven. While I love pizza, I just didn’t feel that we would use it enough to justify the cost. 

After researching alternative options to a built in pizza oven, we decide to purchase the Baker Stone Pizza Oven Box. 

So. Glad. We. Did! For right around $120 we now have an amazing little pizza oven that works right in our existing gas grill.  

This oven cooks a beautiful pizza in about 5 minutes and the crust turns out beautifully baked and toppings are cooked to perfection. 

We have had fun pizza parties with the kids and grandkids and everyone gets to choose their own toppings. There are a ton of great recipes on Pinterest to try and believe me, I have pinned a bunch for future use. This Apple Cheddar Rosemary Bacon from climbinggriermountain.com has become one of our favorites. 

I highly recommend this pizza oven as an addition to your backyard cooking options. You will not be disappointed. 

Easy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup to the Rescue!

Well. I guess I really do need bone broth after all!

So glad that I made a big batch of the broth on Monday because yesterday I came down with a nasty sinus infection that has knocked me out for the past few days.

Today I had the energy to make it downstairs and when I opened the refrigerator I saw those lovely jars of bone broth. And the extra chicken meat that I plucked from the bones before making the broth. Win.

Ahh…… chicken soup! Nature’s antibiotic. (Although I got a Z Pack as well!) I have also read that chicken soup is good for sinus infections. I just know that when I am sick, chicken soup sounds so good.

I am not a fan of canned soups. The Hubs loves them but I try to make him homemade soup whenever I can. I always have Kirkland Organic Chicken Stock from Costco on hand but I was super excited to have my own homemade broth to use.

I looked through the pantry and the fridge and threw these ingredients in the Bella Electric Pressure Cooker and voila – an easy, fast, yummy soup was ready for my lunch. Now, back upstairs for a little nappy poo. We have tickets to see Billy Joel on Saturday at Dodger Stadium and I need to get better!

So yummy and comforting!

Here is how I made it:

Easy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Serves about 6

Ingredients:

4 stocks celery – cut into chunks

3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

or

Baby carrots – as much as you want (I usually don’t have baby carrots on hand-these were left over from something and I needed to use them up)

3/4 cup uncooked wild rice

1-2 cups cooked chicken

2 quarts chicken broth

Throw it all in the electric pressure cooker and push the “soup” button. Release pressure after timer beeps.

Garnish with green onions or whatever your little heart desires. Easy!

Enjoy.

Cheesy Polenta Keeps on Giving!

So, the Cheesy Polenta that I made the other night to go with the Oven Baked Cranberry Maple Crusted Chicken was so good and I had leftovers. Yay!

The polenta was really soft and creamy when I served it for dinner. I knew that it wouldn’t reheat and have the same creamy texture so I smashed it into a loaf pan, covered it with plastic wrap, and stuck it in the fridge.

The next morning I had a beautiful loaf of polenta that was the perfect consistency to slice and fry up in a little butter with an egg on the side.

Not the lowest calorie breakfast but SO good!

Here is the recipe for the Cheesy Polenta. Enjoy!

Cheesy Polenta

Serves 4-6

1 clove  garlic, minced

1 T avocado oil (I like to use avocado oil for sautéing as it has a higher smoke point than olive oil)

1 cup polenta

1 cup milk (I suggest using whole fat milk or heavy cream or a mixture of both. Non fat milk will not result in a creamy mouth feel)

1-2 cups chicken stock

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese*

In medium saucepan  sauté  the garlic for one  minute. Add the milk and one cup of the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Add the polenta and whisk until polenta is thick and bubbly. Continue whisking and adding stock as needed until polenta is soft and creamy.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

*You can substitute any cheese of your choice to suit whatever you are serving it with. This is a pretty versatile recipe!

 

Oven Baked Cranberry Maple Crusted Chicken with Roasted Veggies

I am loving finding ways to use Cucina Antica Cranberry Sauce in my cooking. It has such a fresh taste and is so so pretty!

I pulled some ingredients out of the pantry, fridge and freezer to come up with this tasty meal. The combination of the savory breading on the chicken and the tart cranberry sauce and the sweet maple syrup was scrumptious. Oven roasted veggies are one of our favorites also. If you haven’t tried roasted broccoli, get on it! Ah-maze-ing! We gobbled it up pretty fast.

Roasting the veggies on the same pan as the chicken made clean up a breeze. The Hubs likes that since we sort of have an understanding. I cook, he cleans up! Win/win. He was used to doing dishes when he was working in the fire station so he doesn’t mind. (Or I like to think he doesn’t mind!)

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did. Let me know if you make it.

Oven Baked Cranberry Maple Crusted Chicken with Roasted Veggies

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts

1 egg

1/3 c milk

1/3 c flour

1/3 c pinko bread crumbs

1/2 Tbsp Malibu seasoning

Carrots

Broccoli

Granulated garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

Cucina Antica Cranberry Sauce

Maple syrup for drizzle

 

Preheat oven to 400º.

Mix egg and milk with a fork in a small bowl.

Put flour in another small bowl.

Mix bread crumbs and Malibu seasoning in a third bowl.

Lay out carrots and broccoli on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and granulated garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

Dip a chicken breast in the egg/milk mixture to coat. Move to bowl with flour in it and coat with flour. Put back in the egg/milk mixture to coat again. Dip in the Panko/Malibu seasoning mixture to coat.

Drizzle some olive oil on the part of the sheet pan where you are putting the chicken and lay chicken in pan. Repeat with second chicken breast.

Place sheet pan in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until chicken registers 165º on instant read thermometer. Stir the veggies halfway through the cooking time.

Top with Cucina Antica Cranberry Sauce and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Serve with Cheesy Polenta.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Lemony Asparagus, Orzo and Ham Salad

Still have leftover ham from Easter! And leftover uncooked asparagus as well. Fridge is bulging.

Good thing the Hubs has his weekly card game tonight because it is time to use this stuff up. This salad is what I came up with.

This salad looks super fresh and pretty. Beautiful colors in it. Look at those lovely little bits of red pepper peeking out! The lemon vinaigrette that I found online gives it a nice zingy taste.

You really could add anything you like to this salad, making it the perfect “clean out the fridge” salad. I’m thinking broccoli and chicken, asparagus and salmon, make it vegetarian by leaving out the meat. Whatever your little heart desires!

I like to use DeLallo whole wheat pasta in cold salads because it has a little nutty flavor and it stands up to sitting in the dressing. It keeps that nice little bite. But, you could use any pasta you choose.

The toasted pine nuts add a nice little crunch and the avocado finishes it off perfectly. Yum yum!

Hope you enjoy this salad. It really is a “no-brainer!”

Lemony Asparagus, Orzo and Ham Salad

1 1/2 c  DeLallo whole wheat orzo

1/4 c finely chopped red onion

1/2 c medium chopped red pepper

1 rib celery finely chopped

1 lb asparagus, woody part removed, chopped into 1 in. pieces

1 c chopped ham

This dressing. Use the entire amount made. (The only thing that I changed on the dressing recipe is that I just dumped all of the ingredients in a mason jar and gave it a good shaking. So easy!)

One avocado cubed

1/3 c toasted pine nuts

Lemon zest for garnish if desired.

Directions

Bring 3 quarts lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and bring back to a boil. Cook orzo for 8 min then add chopped asparagus and cook two more minutes.

Remove from heat and drain.

Mix orzo and asparagus mixture in large bowl with all other ingredients except for the avocado. Let chill in fridge for at least 4 hours. Gently stir in avocado  and pine nuts just before serving. Garnish with lemon zest.

Pulled Pork Anyone?

Pulled pork salad made from leftover Apple Juice Brined Pulled Pork

The stars recently aligned perfectly for the most amazing string of dinners! We recently hosted a couples bridal shower for our son and his soon to be wife. They will be married in May and will blend two families into one big “Brady Bunch”. She has four kids, he has two. “Here’s the story of a lovely lady……” Now I bet that song will be stuck in your head all day.

We did a bbq theme with pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, and a s’mores bar for dessert . It was super fun.

Getting s’more supplies ready.
I cooked the pulled pork on our Traeger Wood Fire Grill the day before the shower. This is the recipe I used. They have so many great recipes on their site and so far every one is a winner. If you do not have a Traeger, I highly recommend checking them out. The Hubs bought it at Costco because he HAD to have it. Even though we have a perfectly good gas grill and at the time we had and electric smoker as well. At first I didn’t see why we needed it so desperately.

This is the model we bought at Costco.
And then I cooked on it! Let’s just say that I LOVE IT and we DID need it! Everything, and I mean everything, that I have cooked on it has been so so good. I have made ribs, tri tip roast, pork loin roast, pork chops, steaks, salmon, prime rib, roasted whole chickens, and I even cooked our turkey this Thanksgiving on it. Actually, I cook on it WAY more than the Hubs does. We even gave our electric smoker to one of our sons because we don’t need it anymore. The Traeger can do it all.

But, I digress. Back to the pulled pork. I made way to much for the shower. I am terrible at figuring out amounts of food to have for a crowd. I always (not an exaggeration) cook too much. I bought 28 pounds of pork shoulder for 30 or so people. I could have got away with about 10 less pounds. Hence, leftover pork.

Not to worry. We made more sandwiches for dinner one night. The really pretty pulled pork salad above for another night. Pulled pork tacos last night. And last tonight we used up the remainder for pork and cabbage (my favorite).

I served the pork and cabbage over brown rice with a side of the left over watermelon and it was delish!

Here is how I made it:

Pork and Cabbage Easy Style

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 Tbsp grape seed or canola oil

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 cups leftover pulled pork

1 small head of cabbage medium shredded

Soy sauce to taste

Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Heat grape seed oil in large sauté pan. Add onion and garlic and sauté for about 4-5 minutes until onions are soft. Add toasted sesame oil and pork and heat pork through stirring frequently. Once pork is heated through add the cabbage. It will look like a lot of cabbage but it shrinks down as it cooks. Continue cooking and stirring frequently until cabbage is cooked. Add soy sauce to taste as you are cooking the cabbage. Make sure to leave the cabbage with a little “bite” to it so it doesn’t taste soggy.

Serve over brown rice with a little sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.

Enjoy! And check out those Traegers next time you see them at Costco!

 

 

 

 

To Die For Wasabi Salmon – Really!

This. Is. So. Good. The Hubs and I love this salmon. We eat it at least two times a month. Usually more.

It doesn’t hurt that the Hubs and two of our sons took a fishing trip to Alaska last summer and I have a freezer full of salmon, and halibut, and rockfish. I love fish. I could never be a vegetarian because I would miss fish too much. I guess it’s a real thing that you can eat too much fish, so I try not to eat it at every meal!

Here they are on their early morning flight to Alaska.

The men (My boys are men! Sigh. It went by way too fast. ) had a great time hanging out together, fishing, bonding, fishing, laughing, fishing, and just enjoying the beauty of Alaska. Oh yeah, and also fishing!

Look at that beauty caught on the Kenai River.

I make this salmon so often that I don’t even have a recipe written down. People ask me to send it to them and usually I just shoot them a quick text with instructions.  I figure this blog is a good place to finally write down the details. It is adapted from a recipe that my sister-in-law, Laura, gave to me years ago. I don’t know the recipe’s source but I am sure grateful to whoever came up with this wonderful combination of flavors.

Start out with your beautiful salmon.

Then mix the wasabi paste and mayo. I sometimes substitute plain yogurt or half yogurt and half mayo. Depends on what kind of mood I am in! It’s great either way. I use Roland Foods Wasabi Paste. I’ve found at my neighborhood Barons Marketplace and also at WinCo.

Spread the mixture on the salmon and drizzle with Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce. This is the absolute best teriyaki sauce in the world! I am not exaggerating. Such a rich flavor. Not too sweet and there are sesame seeds mixed right in it. Perfect! Once in a while I will find it in a larger size at Costco and I always snatch it up. I wish it was there all the time. You know the Costco saying. “If you see it, buy it, or it won’t be there next time!”

Bake for a bit and then enjoy the best salmon! You will crave this salmon. You will dream about this salmon. You will rave about this salmon. You will want to share it with everyone. Really!

To Die For Wasabi Salmon

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Salmon filets

1/2 cup mayo (or plain yogurt or a mixture or both)

3/4 to 1 tsp. Roland wasabi paste (adjust wasabi to taste. You may find you want to use a little less)

2 Tbsp. Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce for drizzle

 

Preheat oven to 425°.

Spray baking pan with cooking spray and place salmon in pan.

Mix mayo and wasabi paste together until smooth. Spread mixture over the top of the salmon,

Drizzle with teriyaki sauce.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until salmon flakes but is still moist. Don’t over bake or you will end up with very dry salmon!

Calories per serving: 290

WW Plus points per serving: 8