Chicken Pesto Pizza

When I was growing up, Friday night was pizza night. My earliest memories of Friday Pizza Night was scarfing down Pizza Hut while glued to Boy Meets World on TGIF. This later evolved into scarfing down Dominoes on my way to football games, but I think we can see the trend.

Not all pizza is made for scarfing though. While granted Pizza Hut and Dominoes are not the kings of culinary sophistication, pizza can be so much more than just a “junk food.” It’s a blank canvas that you can fill with all your favorites in creative and tasty ways. It can even be…healthy.

The Kiwi and I can do some damage to this size of a pizza. I usually only end up with one piece for lunch the next day. However, if you were to have a nice side salad with it, I’m sure you could eke out a few extra slices to get you through lunches for a couple of days.

Chicken Pesto Pizza

The Base
pizza dough
½ cup pesto

The Toppings
½ of a red onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 chicken breast
pinch of salt and pepper
½ cup of grated cheese {I used gouda, but parmesan or mozzarella would be good too.}

Preheat your oven to 475°F/240°C. {The longer your oven preheats the better. You want a really hot oven!}

Start heating a pan on medium high heat. While it’s heating up, slice your onion. When it’s hot, melt the butter in the pan and add your onions and brown sugar. Give it a good stir and let them cook for about 5-8 minutes or until they are nice and caramelized, stirring frequently. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Return the pan to the heat and add the olive oil.

While the onions are caramelizing whip up your pesto. Then get to work on the chicken. Cut it into bite sized pieces and sprinkle with some salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Pop the chicken into the pan and cook on each side for about 3 minutes.

Spread a healthy layer of pesto on your rolled out pizza dough. Then layer on the caramelized onions and the chicken. Finally top with grated cheese, and pop it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the crust is a bit brown around the edges and the cheese is all melted. Slice it up and enjoy!

Spicy Baked BBQ Hot Wings

The Kiwi and I are big fans of the spicy stuff. We like that added kick of flavor, and the fact that it gives us an excuse to pair whatever we are eating with cheese {you know, for the casein}. We aren’t that crazy though. This one time, in the States, we went to this wing joint where you had to sign a release form to order their hottest level of spicyness. Insane! There is a point where things stop being flavorful and become straight up painful. {I’m looking at you Mr. Habenero.} This sauce is the perfect mixture of flavorful spicyness  and savory sweet–the way that BBQ sauce should be. {Sorry Carolina style fans.}

Seeing everyone on Facebook getting their football tickets for next season {sob} reminded me of the first time I made these. We were ‘tailgating’ in our living room for the first UGA game of the season. We started in on the wings and naturally, once we had the sauce all over our hands and faces, the video feed freezes and continues to do so every couple of minutes through out the game. {face, palm} Moral of the story? Don’t eat these wings when you’re going to have to tinker with fancy electronics.

82 days people. Go Dawgs!

Spicy Baked BBQ Hot Wings

The BBQ Sauce {makes 1 cup of sauce}
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp hot sauce

The Bird
10 pieces bone in chicken wings

Preheat your oven to 400.

Combine everything in a large sauce pan and bring it to a boil stirring constantly. Once the mixture starts getting darker {from the sugars caramelizing}, turn the heat off and keep stirring. Let it cool and then taste test it. Add more of any of the ingredients you think it needs. If it’s too spicy, add more ketchup.

Line up your wings on a lined baking sheet and brush the sauce on the top of each wing. Flip it over and do the same thing on the other side.

Put it in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Get the pan out, brush the tops with more sauce, flip, brush the other side with more sauce, and put it back in. Repeat until they have cooked for a total of 30 minutes.

While the wings are cooking, whip up a blue cheese dipping sauce because you’ll want something to cut the heat {or at least I do}. I usually pair the wings with a green veggie side like steamed broccoli or green beans, so I feel better about the fact I’m eating wings. But sometimes we have it with fries too.

Stuffed Chicken Parmesan

What are your feelings on spinach? I love spinach. I really do. But there is this thing that happens when we want to cook with spinach…burnout.

Spinach can technically grow all year, but most of the year the only way we can get it is in size ginormous. I’m talking like 5 cups of spinach in a bag. When you are only cooking for two people that’s a ridiculously large amount of spinach to consume. We literally have to eat spinach every day for a straight week to use it up that much spinach. {I guess I could take up drinking smoothies for breakfast, but I don’t see that happening just yet.} Sure I could just use what I need and let the rest go to waste, but then I just feel guilty. {There are starving kids, you know?} Anyway, after this week long spinach binge, I never want to see spinach again–until two weeks later I forget about it and buy another bag.

Needless to say, there are a number of recipes that I throw some spinach in to use it up. And why not? Spinach is great for you {just ask our favorite sailor}. It’s chock full of vitamins A and C and minerals like iron and calcium. {Maybe I should rethink those smoothies.} This recipe, though, has to be one of my favorites. I have had a hankering for it for a couple weeks, but was hesitant to put it on the meal plan because I knew it would another spinach binge. However, this past week I spied a bulk bin of spinach at our local. Much to the displeasure of all the German shoppers around me, I may or may not have let out a squeal of glee. Thank goodness it’s finally spinach season! We can buy only the spinach we need and I can make this deliciousness any time I’d like!

Stuffed Chicken Parmesan

{adapted for two from Skinny Taste}

The Stuffing
1 cup fresh spinach
1/4 cup ricotta cheese {cream cheese or mascarpone work too)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 fresh oregano leaves, chopped
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

The Breading
1 egg
¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 more fresh oregano leaf, chopped
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 or 2 chicken breasts {Depending on how much meat the carnivore in your house requires. We use 1, and he doesn’t complain.}

The Toppings
½ cup pasta sauce
½ ball of buffalo mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450°F/225°C.

First we’ll prep the stuffing. Start by putting a healthy handful of spinach in a medium size bowl and microwave for about 20 seconds. {This will wilt the spinach just enough to make it easier to mix with the other ingredients and eventually stuff the chicken.} Then add the rest of the stuffing ingredients and mix well.

Go ahead and prepare the dish you are baking this yumminess in {I use olive oil, but Pam or straight butter would get the job done as well}.

Now onto the breading. Get out two bowls. In one, crack your egg and beat it a bit. In the other combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, oregano, garlic salt, and pepper.

Now it gets a little messy…

Using a meat tenderizer {a wine bottle works too–I know this from experience}, pound the chicken out until it is about the thickness of your pinky finger and then cut it in half. Spoon the spinach mixture on the chicken and roll it up. Then dip the rolled chicken first into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Make sure it is coated all over and then transfer to the baking dish seam side down. Repeat for second bit of chicken and then pop it into the oven for 25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, I usually put some pasta on or whip up a salad. {Full disclosure: I’ve never made a salad with this–usually because we will be having a spinach salad at some point in the week and I need some pasta in my life. But the point is that you could. You could have a nice healthy salad. We have pasta.}

Anyway…

After the chicken bakes for 25 minutes, take it out and cover the top with your favorite pasta sauce and a nice slice of mozzarella. Put it back in the oven to heat the sauce and melt the cheese. This usually takes about 5 more minutes for me. After that, plate up and dig in!

Cashew Chicken Noodles with Coconut Peanut Sauce

For better or worse, one of my favorite things to eat for lunch is a PB&J. I think it stems back to my high school days when our lovely lunchroom ladies whipped up this magical concoction of peanut butter and jelly that was a party in my mouth, and put it on two pieces of Sunbeam {the white bread to beat all other white breads}. They would only sell this amaze-balls delicacy AFTER you had eaten a real lunch. Fortunately, I was told early in my high school career, that if you flash a lunch box and a smile they would sell it to you anyway. And so began my love affair with peanut butter and jelly. My lunch time PB&J {or rather peanut butter and honey} has come a long way since the days of those super refined, albeit tasty, sandwiches. However, when I moved to Germany, I had a bit of a crisis.

You see, Germany does not share my love of peanut butter. When I first moved to Germany, I was living in a small village with my host family. After searching high and low for peanut butter in said small village, I decided to give ‘Erdnuss-Sauce’ a go. For future reference, ‘Erdnuss-Sauce’ is satay sauce—not peanut butter–and it tastes awful when mixed with jam.

After complaining about it incessantly to my English speaking friends and a failed attempt at making my own, I eventually found the American aisle at the stores in the city and now have a healthy supply of peanut butter on hand. I know you were worried.

However, I still had this jar of satay sauce in my cupboard waiting to be used. This recipe was the perfect thing. It is a super quick meal that is perfect for a busy week night and has become one of our go to meals. When we finished up that jar, I decided to try my hand at making my own healthier, less processed version. It was perfection and, even with making my own satay sauce, it still can be knocked out in less than 30.

Cashew Chicken Pasta

{Adapted for two from Armommy}

The Pasta
4 ounces {100 grams} whole wheat pasta
½ of a red pepper, cut into strips

The Protein
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 chicken breast
salt and pepper for seasoning
¼ cup of cashews

The Sauce
{barely adapted from Kitchen Thymes}
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp soy sauce
juice from ½ a lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
sriracha sauce to taste {we use about 2 tsp}

Start by heating up a deep sauté pan on medium heat.

Put the pasta on and cook according to the directions on the package {usually 11 to 13 minutes}.

While the pasta is cooking, slice your red peppers and set them to the side. You’ll add the red peppers to the pasta for the last 4-5 min of cooking.

Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the pan and throw in the chicken. Cook until the chicken is nice and brown {about 4 minutes on each side if your pan was good and hot}.

While the chicken and pasta are cooking you can whip up your peanut sauce. Add everything {except the sriracha sauce} to a bowl and whisk until it is all mixed together. Add a bit of sriracha. Whisk and taste. Repeat until you have the right amount of heat for you. {If you don’t have sriracha sauce red chili flakes will do the trick too.}

Once the chicken is cooked, remove the pan from the element and add the cashews and drained pasta and peppers. Mix in the peanut sauce, add a bit of fresh black pepper, and you’re finished!