Grilled-Chicken Alfredo Pizza

What can I say? It isn't low-fat, but it IS delicious!
Grilled chicken layered with grape tomatoes, fresh basil (or spinach leaves) and fresh mozzarella over an easy-to-make creamy Alfredo sauce on a crispy 50% whole wheat crust.

The creamy Alfredo sauce goes together in minutes, and it is spiked with pinch of red pepper flakes to give it a little kick. You can spread the sauce right on the raw dough, but I usually pre-bake my crusts for a couple of minutes first then apply the toppings.
After the sauce is smeared on top of the crust, a sprinkling of fresh basil leaves (or baby spinach leaves) go on top.
I grilled the chicken breasts specifically for this recipe, but you could surely use leftover chicken as well. Next time I'll cook the chicken until "just done" as I thought it was a tiny bit dry by the time the pizza finished baking. I used fresh mozzarella but you could used aged if you prefer.
I love the way the grape tomatoes gain that bit of roasted char in the hot oven, it really seems to concentrate the sugar in them so they are delightfully sweet.
Lastly, brush the edges of the crust with olive oil before baking, and a light sprinkling of coarse salt and pepper over the pie before it goes into a hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
Another shower of basil or spinach goes over all once the pizza is taken from the oven for a fresh contrast to the hot pizza.
For the crust this time I found myself playing around with a pizza crust recipe I came across on Heidi Swanson's "101 Cookbooks" blog (I adore her blog!)
In keeping with trying to eat more whole grains, I just changed the recipe a little by exchanging half of the white whole wheat flour with a mix of whole wheat and dark rye flour. It turned out very well, and the crust crisped up very nicely, with a nice "chew" to the edges.

For ease of transferring the pizza to and from the oven I always assemble my pizzas on a pizza peel (click) like the ones shown below.
I love to put these beautiful wooden peels into double duty as cheese, fruit, bread, sandwich, and appetizer or dessert serving boards.

And although this metal type of pizza peel may not be as aesthetically pleasing as the wooden ones -- the thin, sturdy metal construction makes removing the hot pizza from the pizza stone a very easy task.
It slides right under the thinnest, or the heaviest pizza without a hitch.

I like a crisp crust so I bake pizzas directly on a preheated baking stone like ...

This one.
I've tried all kinds of baking stones; individual tiles, round and square one-piece units, but my favorite by far is this rectangular one-piece style. It works great for baking bread upon, too. I usually keep it in one of the ovens all of the time as it helps in keeping the baking temperature on point.
Baking Stone cleaning tip: If you don't mind leaving a rack in place when you use the self-cleaning function in your oven, leave your baking stone on the rack while you clean the oven. The baking stone will be cleaned at the same time. (I just use my bench scraper to remove any cornmeal or other bits from the stone prior to auto-cleaning the oven, then fire up the self-cleaning mode.)

If you would like a printable copy of the pizza recipe you can find it on my recipe blog by clicking HERE.


Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper & Asiago Sausage

Hi friends! Is it just me, or does this summer seem as if it has been racing by?!
Family things, our critters, managing our bit of property, followed up by a delightful and most welcome visit from my brother and his charming wife have kept me from the internet lately. It's good to be back, and thank you for stopping by to visit!
This time I thought I would start off with a product review ~
I've been thinking that I would like to incorporate a couple of reviews each month of products I use or have tried. Occasionally these will be products offered to me from companies, other times they will be items I've tried on my own --- I'll make it a point to let you know if the product has been supplied to me, or not. But be assured, I always promise to give my honest evaluation!
Like these chicken sausages I decided to blog about. I just saw them in the store and they appealed to me---no coupons, promotions or compensation were offered.
To learn more about "al fresco" sausages and get a $1.00 off coupon click HERE.

If you've been following my blog for a while you probably know that I generally like to make most of our meals from scratch, but I have no problem supplementing "from scratch" with store-bought if the prepared foods are minimally processed and basically healthful.

Recently we tried the "al fresco" brand of 'Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper and Asiago' Sausages and were favorably impressed. They are fully cooked, so just a few minutes on a hot grill allowed us to have dinner on the table in mere minutes. While the grill was heating I mixed together a fast veggie salad for a refreshing accompaniment. Perfect for a hot summer evening meal.

The casings had a nice "pop" and the filling was juicy and flavorful-- not bland at all. The sausages are well seasoned with sweet roasted red pepper (not spicy), the slight hint of Asiago cheese rounded the flavor out very nicely.

You could certainly serve them on a bun, on pizza or in a pasta sauce, etc. but I opted to offer them with knife and fork this time. We liked the flavor so much that I skipped the condiments entirely. Delicious!
These received solid thumbs up at our house, I would buy them again, and I recommend them if you're looking for a quick, flavorful lunch or dinner. They would be wonderful as part of a mixed-grill dinner, too.
(I've received no compensation for this review.)

To keep the meal super easy I made a quick Black Bean and Corn salad--- with bits of red onion, sweet red bell pepper, flavored with ground cumin, a little Tabasco, and a simple dressing of fresh lime juice and vegetable oil, then seasoned with salt and pepper. It was a perfect complement to the grilled sausages. I essentially followed one of Rachel Ray's recipes with just a couple of changes; less Tabasco and I stirred in a few avocado chunks and some chopped cilantro just before serving, and offered an extra wedge of lime on the plate.
If you would like a copy of the recipe you can find it on my recipe blog by clicking HERE.
Thank you for stopping by friends!


Szechuan-Style String Beans

We used to order this favorite dish all the time at a favorite Chinese restaurant when I lived in the SF Bay Area. Years ago I bought the chef/owner's cookbook and it has been a life saver for times when I crave these green beans, as I haven't found a recipe for Szechuan-style String Beans I like as well as this one. Make it as spicy or as mild as you like ~ and add as much or as little garlic as you want. It's delightfully fragrant, and it's one of those dishes I MUST make whenever good quality green beans come to market.

I've posted about this dish before (here), and now I've added the recipe to my recipe blog so you can print or save the recipe.

The original recipe required that the beans be deep fried first (a method known as oil-blanching), but I've adjusted the recipe to our tastes using much less oil (about 1 tablespoon), which produces a lighter, more healthful dish. I nearly always substitute the ground pork with ground chicken (I process boneless, skinless chicken breast in food processor until minced), or ground turkey.

If you try this recipe, I hope it becomes a favorite of yours, too.
For a printable copy of the recipe you can find it on my recipe blog by clicking HERE.
This is my submission for Foodie Friday, hosted by Designs by Gollum ~
Please click the logo below to visit and learn more:

Thank you so much for stopping by, I always read and very much appreciate any comments you would like to leave. I wish everyone a wonderful weekend!


Chicken Tacos

Hi Friends!
After a sluggish start, summer is finally coming into full swing here. Yay!
Today we expect temperatures to reach triple digits for the first time this year. That's unusual because we always have a few of those hot days sprinkled throughout June, but not this year... the veggie garden missed that jump start and the tomatoes and squash are slow to develop because of the cooler weather.

Does your appetite change with the seasons? Our appetites sure do. As the temperature rises we prefer (actually crave) lighter foods and meals that are fast and easy to prepare, like these shredded chicken tacos.
How I wish those tomatoes were freshly plucked from our garden, not quite yet ~
but soon!

This time I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts which I had cooked early in the day, then refrigerated until taco time. (You can shred the chicken right after cooking or shred just before reheating when you're ready to assemble the tacos.) Incidentally, this is a wonderful way to use leftover chicken, or a store-bought rotisserie chicken.
When reheating the leftover chicken for the tacos I like to add additional flavor, so I saute some slivered/sliced onion (as little or as much as you like), in a little oil until translucent, then add the shredded chicken along with a bit of oregano and a couple of tablespoons of chicken broth then toss to heat, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

This time I used white corn tortillas, but yellow corn, flour, or your favorite variety of wraps are delicious too. Fill them up with the warmed chicken & onion, a little shredded cheese, shredded or leaf lettuce, and salsa (fresh or from the jar). I adore cilantro so I always add extra, a sprinkle of fresh oregano, and a squeeze of lime.
Of course you can add a dollop of sour cream (or plain yogurt), sliced green onions, diced avocado, or any of your favorite taco additions.
Simple and delicious on a hot day!
Thank you for stopping by friends~ I hope you're having a wonderful day.

A Sampling of my food . . .


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