The fact that this particular recipe caused me to emerge from my blog hibernation should tell you that it must be something special. I made it one night for dinner and literally could not wait to make it again so that I could share it with you. In fact I was so excited about it that when I went home this past weekend, I insisted on making this for my mom and brother so that we could have the mutual experience of this pizza to rave about for the rest of the summer. Kind of like when something really funny happens but there is no one around to laugh with you, this pizza is best as a shared life experience.
I could tell that my mom was extremely skeptical of this unusual combination, and I can’t really blame her. If I hadn’t already made the pizza myself, I may have caved under the funny looks I received when I told her that sirachi was combine with balsamic vinegar and strawberry preserves to make the sauce. Luckily, I was confident in the fact that everyone would love this pizza, and went ahead with my plans. It did not disappoint. The balsamic vinegar and siracha make this just savory enough to call it dinner, and the strawberries and cilantro keep it fresh enough to make it feel like summer. My brother said that he had never had such a refreshing pizza. And since the dog got the last two pieces of this off the counter – apparently animals like it too. As strawberries are coming into season, make this, pair it with a strawberry Abita, and hope for some more 80 degree sunny days in May – it doesn’t get much better.
Stawberry Balsamic Chicken and Bacon Pizza
- 1/2 cup strawberry preserves or jam
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce
- 1 ball prepared pizza dough
- 1/4 onion, thinly sliced
- ~1 cup cooked chicken, diced or shaved
- 4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crispy and then crumbled
- 4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1-2 oz finely shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cut strawberries, diced
Place the pizza stone in the lower middle of the oven and preheat to 500°F.
Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced to half and mixture thickens, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the strawberry preserves and chili sauce. Mix well; set aside to cool.
Roll out the pizza dough to a 12 or 14-inch circle. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper.
Spread the cooled strawberry sauce over the pizza top with chicken, bacon, sweet onion, mozarella and parmesean cheese, and 1/2 of the cilantro and 1/2 of the strawberries.
Transfer the pizza with the parchment paper onto the hot pizza stone and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly for 1 to 2 minutes. Top with the remaining fresh strawberries and cilantro. Serve hot.
Looking on a the positive side of things, I will have to say that one of the best things in the past month has been able to see a lot of my mom and brother – 2 of the most special people in this world. I know my mom thinks she’s imposing, but I seriously love it when they are here. It basically makes it feel like a vacation, because usually when we are all together – it is a vacation. Of course having “house guests” also makes me like a grown up, which is really just like “playing house”- with a slightly more sophisticated (and dangerous) fisher price set. Because I really wanted to impress them with my domestic skills, I carefully planned a few things to make when they came. One of them was an old favorite, stuffed green pepper soup, and the other was this Chicken Tikka Masala. I’m pretty sure they will be coming back again soon :-).
My mom, who claims to not really like curry, couldn’t stop raving about how deep the flavors are in this dish, and my brother stated that it was the best chicken tikka masala he had ever had (even better than some posh Asheville Indian restaurant he loves). I purposely waited a while to post this, because I wanted to see how the leftovers would be after freezing them for a while – and I can now safely say that they are still delicious. I froze the chicken, then thawed it and reheated it, adding just a little bit more milk and John and I still loved it! I would recommend making the whole batch, even if you don’t think you’ll be able to finish it all, because the frozen leftovers really are convenient.
Please don’t be intimidated by the seemingly long ingredient list, it is actually a really simple dinner and there is very little prep work. I chose to brown the meat first because it tends to add a depth of flavor, but if you don’t want to dirty another pan feel free to simply put all the ingredients in the crockpot without pre-browning. I was also really excited to finally use the Garam Masala I had bought way back when from Penzey’s. If you don’t have a Penzey’s nearby, I noticed when I was home at Christmas that even local grocery stores carry this spice. Having never used it before, I was a little worried about using a full 3 tablespoons of it. But never fear – it’s not nearly as strong as you might think and the dish was seasoned perfectly. My last pre-recipe suggestion would be to adjust the cream in this recipe for your liking. The original called for 1 1/2 cups of heavy (whipping) cream. That seemed like an awful lot, so I dialed it down and added some more greek yogurt at the end. Feel free to play with it a bit to get it the creaminess you would like.
Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala
For the Chicken:
- 9 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 whole Jalapeno Pepper, Stem Removed, Pepper Pierced Several Times With a fork
For the Sauce:
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 whole Large Onion, Peeled And Diced
- 6 cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Garam Masala
- 1 piece Fresh Ginger, About 2-3 Inches, Peeled And Grated
- 4 cups canned Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (depending on preference)
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- White Rice
- Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1) Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken. Stir in yogurt to evenly coat the chicken. Cover and let sit 10 minutes or refrigerate for several hours.
2) Melt 1 tablespoon the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and brown about 1/2 of the chicken. . Transfer browned chicken to the slow cooker as it is finished. Then repeat with 1 more tablespoon of butter and remaining chicken. Throw the pierced jalapeno in on top of the chicken.
3) To make the sauce return pan to medium and 3 T. of butter over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt and stir. Cook until onions begin to brown, stirring frequently.
4) Add the 3 T. of garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (30 seconds), then raise heat to high and add crushed tomatoes and sugar. Scrap the bottom of the pan as you stir and bring to a boil. Then pour over chicken in slow cooker.
5) Cook chicken on low for 5 hours.
6) Mix heavy cream and greek yogurt into mixture, adding cream until you get your desired color. Heat for 1o minutes more.
7) Serve over rice and top with a generous amount of cilantro (it really adds a lot)
Welp, it’s happened. The first recipe on the blog made almost entirely by John. I don’t mean to belittle his cooking talents, but I think the fact that I trusted him with making this dinner should tell you something about it’s complexity. I had set the ingredients (all 3 of them ) out on the counter the night before, and planned on throwing them in the crock pot before I left for school, but as I mentioned last time, normally I barely get 2 of the same shoes while I’m running out the door, let alone make dinner 8 hours early. Despite my best intentions, if I wake up a few minutes early, then I simply diddle-daddle around longer until I am once again rushed to leave. So John was nice enough to make this for me in the morning.
While this is certainly not a complicated or gourmet cooking dish, it is definitely something worth keeping in your recipe arsenal. Also, I should mention that there is really nothing “French” at all about this, other than the fact that it uses American’s version of “French Dressing”. Nevertheless, this dinner is delicious and I had trouble saving my second piece of chicken for lunch the next day. I found myself eating every last piece rice that the scrumptious sauce had touched. Plus, its so easy you really have no excuse not to make it – it’s 3 ingredients that you put into a pot. You can adjust the cooking time to fit your schedule so it’s ready when you get home. For example, Nikki mentioned that you could use 6 frozen chicken breasts and cook it on high for 4 hours and low for 2 hours, or use 4 fresh chicken breasts and cook it on high for 3 hours. Since I think one of the best things about crock pots is coming home to them being ready, I prefer to cook things for a longer period of time on low, which I have indicated below. I think next time I am going to at least 1.5 the recipe because this really made great lunch leftovers (especially when compared to the hospital cafeteria).
“French” Apricot Crock Pot Chicken
– Serves 4 (or 2 with great leftovers the next day)
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup french dressing (I used Newman’s Own)
- 1 cup apricot jelly or preserves
- 1 packet onion soup mix
- salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for a minimum of 7 hours, but longer is fine. Serve over rice.
Source: Pennies on a Platter
Sometimes I miss college. Well, let me rephrase. Sometimes I miss certain parts about college. Like the part where you can walk up and down the halls of the dorm and always find someone with their door open to hang out with. And the part where the most important thing on a weekend was figuring out what costume would be perfect for the theme of the next party (okay, so sometimes I still do this). But the thing I was missing this week was Torero’s – the signature Mexican restaurant in our college town. Because our meal plan was ridiculous, you could get Torero’s delivered to your dorm room anytime you wanted, on meal plan points. I had tried a variety of things from the menu, but one time someone ordered Taquitos, I tried one, and I fell in love. I’m pretty sure every time after that, I ordered chicken taquitos myself. Somehow I happened to never actually read the menu to realize they were deep fried, and although they clearly looked deep fried, I chose to ignore this little fact.
I don’t think I’ve had a taquito since college, but when I saw these baked chicken taquitos on Pink Parsley, I knew I would have to try them. Not only are they a baked version of my favorite college Mexican treat, but they also use my favorite salsa – Salsa Verde. (The same salsa I use in Chicken Enchiladas Verdes). Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, because these really don’t take that long to put together – in fact I think these are easier to make than the enchiladas. If I was a little more organized, I would’ve planned grilled chicken for dinner one night, and made sure to cook enough to have leftovers for these the next. Perhaps one of the greatest things about these taquitos is that you can freeze them (unbaked) and then bake them whenever needed. Actually, the ones in the picture were baked from a frozen state. I originally planned to post this the first time I made them – but we ate up all the taquitos so quickly that I didn’t get to snap a picture. I’ll have to say, they taste just as good from the freezer as they did the first time. This would also be a great meal for a big group dinner, because once you have the filling made it’s really simple to put together, and have you ever met a person who doesn’t like food they can eat with their fingers?
Baked Chicken Taquitos
– Recipe indicated is for 20-24 taquitos, which will serve 6-8 people
- 3 -4 chicken breasts (~4-5 cups shredded)
- 1 block (8 oz) low-fat cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup salsa verde (tomatilla salsa)
- Juice from 1 lime
- 2 tsp chile powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup chopped scallion
- 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 20-24 small (6-inch) flour tortillas
- cooking spray
Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add chicken breasts to the water, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink when cut into. Remove chicken from water, let cool slightly and then shred. (You could also use leftover chicken, or roast the chicken in the oven)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and lay a wire cooling rack over a large cookie sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese with the salsa, lime juice, cumin, chile powder, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, cilantro, scallions, and a pinch of salt & pepper. (Everything but the chicken, cheese, and tortillas). Once mixed, fold in the chicken and shredded cheeses.
Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of filling onto the lower third of each tortilla, and roll tightly. In order to help the tortilla stay closed, you may want to spray some cooking spray on the seam. Place seam side-down on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
Spray the taquitos with cooking spray, then place the wire rack on top of a baking pan (otherwise the cooking spray creates a sticky residue when baked on the cookie sheet.) Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and golden-brown. Serve with dipping sauces such as salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. I think sour cream mixed with salsa would also be delicious.
*To Freeze the taquitos, roll them up as usual but do not bake. Place on a baking sheet in the freezer in order to “flash” freeze them individually. Wrap in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and freeze in a freezer bag. To bake, remove from oven, and bake un-thawed for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees.