Pizookie (Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I remember when I first moved to L.A. I heard about Pizookies from multiple locals. I remember thinking, what the heck is that? But it’s very simple – a half-baked, warm cookie served in a tin pan (like pizza) with ice cream on top. The restaurant BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse made the dessert famous.

I found a wonderful Pizookie recipe from WhipperBerry, and got lots of praise when I took them into work the next day. Everyone commented on the fluffiness of the cookie and how it wasn’t too sweet. I take no credit, the WhipperBerry blogger has made a perfect cookie recipe. Even though it’s not technically a Pizookie because the cookies are not served warm nor with ice cream, the cookies still taste light and perfectly sweet.

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

After a long day of work, all I wanted was comfort food. Cut to me driving straight from work to Ralph’s to buy pie crust.

You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl.

Chicken pot pie was the first dish I ever cooked on my own at college. I remember calling my mother asking her how to cook the chicken…I feel like I’ve come so far since then!

Here is the recipe I used, courtesy of my mom:

1. Cook two large chicken breasts by lightly boiling them in a covered pot in about 3 cups of water. Cook them for at least 1/2 to 1 hour, until they are tender and well done. Shred the chicken into small pieces and make sure to remove all of the bones.

2. Separate the crusts, one crust from each unit will stay in the pie plate (Buy two packages of pie crust in the pie plate. Each package usually has two crusts, and these are usually found in the upright freezers at the grocery store.). Carefully, poke holes in the two crusts, but be careful not to puncture the foil pie plate. Poke holes with the fork on the sides and on the bottom. These holes let the air out when the crusts cook. If you don’t poke the holes, the crust will bubble and break. Put these empty pie crust shells in the oven at about 350 degrees until they are lightly toast brown.

3. While they are in the oven, remove the other pie crusts from the shells and lay them flat somewhere, you might want to put flour under them so they do no stick to whatever you put them on.

4. In a bowl mix:
2 cans of Cream Of Chicken Soup
2 boxes or one bag of mixed veggies , ie..corn, peas, green beans
The shredded chicken breasts
salt and pepper

5. Add this mixture to the cooked pie shells.

6. Put the uncooked pie shell on top of the mixture in the pie plate and try to seal around the rim. Poke holes in the top of the pie crusts.

7. Put the pies in the oven at 350 or 425 degrees for about 45 minutes. The top will be toasty brown.

 

Sooji Halwa Recipe

I was first introduced to the dessert halwa at Good Karma Cafe, located on the University of Southern California campus. The chef made several different flavors of the textured pudding dessert, such as peanut butter chocolate, blueberry and cinnamon rasin. The warm, lightly sweet and grainy dessert is a great option when you’re looking to have something light and not too sweet.

Before you make sooji halwa, you’ll need to take a trip to the nearest Indian food store. There you’ll find the ghee and sooji. Ghee is a clarified butter made from cow’s milk and sooji is semolina flour. Here are pictures to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about:

I pulled a recipe from Manjula’s Kitchen, which a makes a perfect serving for 4 people.
Ingredients:
1/2 cup sooji (rava, semolina flour)
1/4 cup ghee (clear butter)
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2cup water
Pinch of cardamom powder

Instructions:
Boil the water with sugar, and cardamom powder in a pan over low medium heat. Bring to a boil and Set aside.
Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat.
Add sooji and roast to golden brown color; stirring constantly this will take about 5 to 8 minutes. Sooji will be golden brown in color and will have a light sweet aroma.


Add the syrup slowly, as you add the syrup to sooji water will splatter.
Turn down the heat to medium low and let it cook for about 2-3 minutes.


Let the sooji absorb the water. Once it is fully absorbed, let the halwa cool.
(recipe courtesy of Manjula’s kitchen)

King Ranch Chicken

I grew up eating King Ranch Chicken, my personal favorite of all my mother’s recipes. The casserole is named after the famous King Ranch in south Texas and is also rumored to have originated there. King Ranch Chicken is comfort food at its best… at least for a Texan who loves spice and a little flavor of Mexico.

Ingredients:
olive oil
1 chopped Green Pepper
1 chopped Onion
10 oz. Mushroom soup
10 oz. Cream of Chicken soup
1 can Rotel tomato
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken breasts
12 Corn Tortillas
2 cups shredded Cheese

Cooking Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Saute the pepper and onion in the olive oil. Add soups, tomato, and chicken that’s been shredded in a food processor.
3. In a 9 x 13 pan, make two layers of the tortillas torn into bite size pieces, soup mixture, and cheese.
4. Bake 40 minutes at 325 degrees.

The mushroom and cream of chicken soup give a creamy, comfort food flavor and consistency while the Rotel tomato amps it up with a jolt of spice. Shake up your dinner routine and try King Ranch Chicken! It’s got my Native Texan Seal of Approval!

Indian Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken is, by far, my favorite Indian dish. I order it pretty much anytime I go to an Indian restaurant… so I’ve spent a lot of money on Butter Chicken! I wanted to make the classic dish (just as good as it’s served at the restaurants) at home to save money. The result was amazing… it’s hard to believe I made something so delicious in my very own kitchen! I pulled the recipe from allrecipes.com, but changed a few things to make it not as fattening. Note: the cow ghee, garam masala and ginger garlic paste can be purchased at any Indian food store

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons cow ghee
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Instructions from allrecipes.com:

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Saute shallot and onion until soft and translucent. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in half-and-half and yogurt. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat, and season with 1 teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Stir in a the sauce, and simmer on low for about 30-40 minutes until liquid has reduced, and chicken is no longer pink. Serve with rice or naan.

I swear by this recipe. Make it and impress your friends. It’s the best dish I’ve ever made! Now hopefully I’ll get to go to India and taste some authentic butter chicken!

Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

This is a super quick and easy post for a super quick and easy snack.

I like to use ingredients that I need to get rid of. I had some extra tortillas, so I made these delicious cinnamon sugar tortilla chips.

They’re so easy – just tear up a tortilla into chip sized pieces, lightly coat them in melted butter and top with cinnamon and sugar! Pop in the oven at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes and enjoy!

The Paleo Diet + Homemade (Healthy-ish) Onion Ring Recipe

I hate diets. They just don’t work. However, my roommate introduced me to the Paleo Diet, which I have been following 80 percent of the time for the past three weeks. I have seen a noticeable difference in the way I look and feel.

I’m no expert on this diet – but to sum it up, it’s about eating all the things humans ate when we were hunter-gatherers. This means no noodles, bread, crackers, etc. Dairy products are also discouraged in favor of alternatives such as coconut milk and almond milk. It involves a lifestyle change, but after a while, you will stop craving the foods you used to want.

My kitchen passion is baking. You can imagine my utter horror when I found out I was going to be cutting back (or finding alternatives to) butter, flour and sugar. But honestly, it’s so easy! You just have to adjust to the flavor change – things will taste more grainy and subtly sweet. After a while, you get used to it and the flavors come out even more. I use almond meal and ground flaxseed instead of flour and honey and almond butter instead of sugar and butter.

I don’t hesitate to indulge every once in a while. I went to an actors showcase today and of course there was a dessert table – so I had a brownie, no big deal! It’s just about avoiding over-indulgence.

If you’re interested in what paleo dishes taste like, try this quick paleo onion ring recipe:

1. Heat coconut oil in a pan.

2. Cut an onion and separate the rings.

3. Gather two bowls. In one bowl, crack an egg and beat it. In the other bowl, pour almond meal. (I recommend the almond meal from Trader Joe’s)

4. Dip a ring in the egg, covering it on all sides.

5. Dip the ring in the almond meal, covering it on all sides.

6. Place the onion in the pan, flipping over occasionally until golden brown. Repeat.

Oat Bread With Dried Cranberries

I love making my own bread because it tastes so fresh and has a nice moist consistency. I came across this recipe a while ago on 101 Cookbooks, but I modify the ingredients slightly to make it a bit healthier. Here’s the ingredients:

2 cups oats

2 cups wheat flour

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt

1 3/4 cup coconut milk

Cooking instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. Pulse the oats in a food processor until it comes to a flour consistency.

3. Combine the oat flour, wheat flour, ground flax seed, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

4. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture and pour in the coconut milk.

5. Stir together then add cranberries. Knead dough until it forms a solid dough with no cracks.

6. Form dough and place in bread pan sprayed with butter. Slice slashes on top of the dough.

7. Bake for 50 minutes then enjoy!

Light and Fluffy Scones

I used a lovely scone recipe from Once Upon a Chef last week, which turned out to be amazing!

All you need are the ingredients and a food processor. Find the step by step by clicking the link above. Here are some pictures from my scone adventure:

These are served best with any kind of jam. Pour yourself some coffee too, and it’s the best, most simple breakfast or afternoon snack ever.

Stuffed Chicken Wrapped in Pillsbury Croissant… you heard me

This chicken is easy to make and tastes like Heaven.

I found this recipe on Pinterest but altered a few ingredients based on what was available to me at the time. I have no measurements, just instructions. And to be honest, with this recipe, measurements do not matter.

What you’ll need:

chicken breasts (2)

cream cheese

1/4 of an onion

asparagus

2-3 slices pre-cooked bacon

salt & pepper

1 tube Pillsbury crescent rolls (1 tube can cover two chicken breasts)

1 egg

Now here’s now you assemble this thing!

(preheat oven to 400 degrees)

1. Wash and cut asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces.

2. Microwave pre-cooked bacon (normally for around 20 seconds) then chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Chop 1/4 onion.

3. Mix together the cream cheese, onions, chopped asparagus, chopped bacon and salt & pepper.

4. Wash chicken. Place on cutting board and take a big fat knife and poke holes all throughout the chicken. Beat it like Chris Brown. It will be super tender this way.

5. Then, at the thickest part of the chicken, cut a slit and fill it with the cream cheese stuffing.

6. Lay out the Pillsbury crescent rolls in one sheet – do not break them apart – on a cookie sheet.

7. There will be a slit that separates the crescent roll sheet in half. Each half holds one chicken breast. Place one of the chicken breasts slit w/ stuffing side down and pull the extra dough over and pinch together to completely cover the chicken. Repeat for the second chicken breast.

8. Turn the wrapped chicken breast over so that the non pinched together dough is facing up. Beat an egg and brush it over the top.

9. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

10. Enjoy.