Bacon and Barbecue Chicken Pizza

We are quickly heading into the season of chilly weather, overcast nights, rainy days…oh wait…the last part is probably more specific to my area, the Pacific Northwest!  So. much. rain.  But it’s what keeps everything so green and beautiful, which makes it hard to complain!

I have discovered that it is almost impossible to find pizza dough around here.  Trader Joe’s seems to be the only store around here that carries it – whereas when I lived in upstate New York, it was a staple at even the trashiest of grocery stores!  Silly west coasters…(yes I know, I am a West Coast girl myself).  In any case, thankfully TJ’s *does* carry it, because it would have been devastating if I had been unable to make this bacon and barbecue chicken pizza by Baked by Rachel.  Seriously, friends – so good! 

It also doubles as the perfect cold night comfort food, Italian/American fusion style.  I don’t even know what that means, but hopefully it made sense!  Regardless: please make this pizza.  If you feel turned off by the possible calorie content, schedule a run afterward.  Do what ya gotta do, but DO make this pizza! =)

Bacon and Barbecue Chicken Pizza

serves 3-4

-1 ball of pizza dough (I used whole wheat – you can also look at the original blog’s homemade dough recipe)
-1/2cu bacon
-1 chicken breast
-2/3cu barbecue sauce, divided
-4oz mozzarrella cheese

-Cook bacon on medium heat until desired crispness (or follow package instructions), then set aside on a cutting board.
-Reduce heat to med-low and cook chicken until cooked through and no longer pink (I found that it helped to cut the chicken breast into chunks, to cook a bit faster – or you can use another chicken-cooking method, if you desire)
-Shred chicken and toss with 1/3cu barbecue sauce. Also chop the bacon at this time.
-Preheat oven to 425 F.
-Lightly grease a sheet pan or prepare a pizza stone and shape the dough to fit (my dough always comes out being oddly-shaped, no matter how well I try to roll it – oh well!). Spread remaining barbecue sauce as your base sauce, scatter the chicken evenly, and then top with mozzarrella and crumbled bacon.
-Bake for about 10-15mins, or until desired done-ness, slice, and serve immediately!


Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas

Two posts in a row of buffalo chicken recipes!  Anything buffalo chicken-esque is pretty amazing in my book (check out my buffalo chicken soup from the other day, along with my buffalo chicken pizza, my other buffalo chicken pizza, and my buffalo chicken enchiladas).  But, in true Whitney-form, I rarely make the actual, traditional dish (aka buffalo chicken wings)…instead I make fusion dishes.  However, if anyone does have a tasty buffalo wing recipe, let me know, cuz I’m willing to give it a whirl!

In any case, this was a pretty simple dish.  It has minimal ingredients and minimal directions.  It is even quicker if you already have cooked chicken on hand (you can use my friend Alysha‘s crockpot chicken method, or bake at 375ish for 30ish minutes…or you could chop it up ahead of time and pan-fry it pretty quickly).  This is truly a “dinner on the table in a few minutes” recipe.

I omitted the tomatoes (because I don’t like them) and green pepper (because my husband doesn’t like them), but you can keep them in, or add other buffalo chicken-type things.  Adding carrot or celery might be an interesting touch! 😉

Also, this post features my super cute new table decor and plates – thanks to Ikea!  I love them, and I feel like it all helps brighten up my kitchen.  You can also see my PartyLite bowl and candle – the perfect addition!  Check out my good friend Brandy’s PartyLite biz page to shop (I love giving plugs to my friends, in case I haven’t made that known over time). =)

Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas

serves 4

-tortillas of your choice
-1cu cooked and shredded chicken
-1/4cu hot sauce
-3tbsp ranch or blue cheese dressing
-1/4cu green pepper, chopped
-1/4cu tomatoes, chopped
-1cu shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
-sour cream and salsa, for garnish

-Mix together chicken, hot sauce, and dressing until well combined.
-Spray skillet with olive oil or non-stick cooking spray and place a tortilla shell in the skillet. Spread cheese, chicken, veggie mix, and top with another tortilla.
-Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes per side or until tortilla turns light golden brown and cheese is melted.
-Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
(If you have a quesadilla maker, like me, just spread some oil over each side of the maker, and follow the same layering instructions, then close the lid, usually the makers will tell you when it’s done, or you can periodically check).
-Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream and salsa.

Watermelon-Mint Salsa

I vaguely recall promising to post this watermelon salsa recipe several weeks ago…you know…when it was still summer.  And here in the Pacific Northwest, it is going back to our drizzling dreariness (kinda love it, not gonna lie!).  Therefore, the intrigue of summer food has kind of faded away for many of us.

BUT, since when do I subscribe to social norms?  I have been known to grill outside in rain and windstorms and go out for tacos (mmm I miss Moe’s!) in hurricanes…so why not post a summer salsa recipe in the fall? 😉

In any case, I don’t have a link for this recipe, as it came from a coupon book I got from Fred Meyer.  I made it on a day that we were having company over, I needed to make a yummy appetizer, and we had 1/2 a watermelon gifted to us from my mother that I wanted to use up.  I was a bit worried that our guests wouldn’t like it (not everyone is food-venturous), but 4 of us adults just gobbled it all right up! (though I don’t think the 3 kids in tow tried it).  It was a wonderful blend of spicy/zesty, with a faint hint of sweet, and great to pair with chips (or top grilled seafood or a pork chop with, or whatever you want!).

Watermelon-Mint Salsa

serves 4-6

-2cu seedless watermelon, diced (I’m not sure how much I used, I don’t think I actually measured)
-1cu cucumber, diced and seeded (I just used an entire cucumber)
-2tbsp red onion, finely minced
-1tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
-1tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
-1/4tsp hot sauce (I think I added a few extra shakes)
-salt, to taste

-Combine all ingredients, mixing gently to make sure they are well incorporated.
-Cover and let chill for one hour in the fridge.
-Leftovers can be refrigerated for several days.

Spaghetti Squash with Spaghetti Sauce

I have been meaning to try out spaghetti squash for over a year now.  My friend Alysha and I were discussing it recently and it turned out she had been intending to try it also.  We decided to get together last weekend to join efforts…this was actually a HUGE deal for her, as she is one of the pickiest eaters ever (by her own admission!)…and honestly, I have never been a huge fan of other squash.

We were both a little nervous.  We also had no idea what we were doing.  I googled a lot of recipes and ways to prepare it and it seemed that roasting it was the most popular and reportedly tastiest method.  We merged this Dashing Dish microwaved spaghetti squash recipe with this Martha Stewart roasted spaghetti squash recipe, and adapted our own version from there.

IT WAS SO GOOD!  I think we were both a little surprised at how much we enjoyed the final product.  It was a bit on the crunchy side, which I actually really liked.  Alysha observed that the slight sweetness from the squash made the sauce a bit sweeter, also.  Also: one squash will yield a TON of “spaghetti.”  We each ate large portions that night, and it created about 4-6 leftover servings.

It was also really fascinating how it really does look like spaghetti!  I realize it’s called “spaghetti squash” for a reason, but was still neat to see how it literally came out in spaghetti-like strands when we scraped each half with a fork.  I have been told if you want to do a quicker version, you can simply nuke it for 6-10 minutes and it will be ready.

The spaghetti sauce is a recipe that Alysha got from her mother-in-law and is now her and her husband’s go-to sauce – and it’s really obvious as to why.  It was delicious!!

Bottom line: if you are wary of trying out spaghetti squash – don’t be!  If a squash-disliker and a picky eater ended up loving it, then it must be a keeper! 😉

Spaghetti Sauce

serves about 6

-1lb ground beef
-1/2 an onion, diced
-2tbsp minced garlic
-salt and pepper, to taste
-a couple shakes of basil
-a couple shakes of oregano
-one shake of rosemary
-one shake of thyme
(note: there are no specifications for precise amounts – do it to your taste and what seems right for you)
-one small can of tomato paste
-one medium can of tomato sauce
-one large can of diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings (blend it ahead of time if you don’t like chunky tomatoes, like the two of us!)

-In a frying pan, brown the meat with the onion, garlic, and a dash of salt and pepper.
-Once browned, drain the grease and add to the crock pot, along with the spices, tomato paste, one can of water (in the paste can), sauce, and diced tomatoes with the juice. Mix together.
-Cover and cook on low for as long as you like (about 8 hours at the most).
-This can be done on the stove top, as well.

 Spaghetti Squash

serves about 6

-one spaghetti squash (mine was about 4lbs)
-olive oil
-dash of garlic powder or salt

-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
-Puncture the squash a few times with a fork or knife.
-Microwave the squash for about 5-6 minutes, then cut it in half (it will be nearly impossible to cut if you don’t microwave it first). Scoop out the seeds and any gunk that you can see.
-Line a baking dish with parchment paper or foil (or just put it directly on, if you prefer) and set the squash in, face up. Using a basting brush, spread some olive oil on each side, and sprinkle some garlic over it.
-Roast it in the oven for about 30 minutes. It should be easily punctured with a fork.
-Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash to create spaghetti-like strands. You can keep scraping until you get down to the skin!

Chicken Parmesan Meatball Soup

A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted chicken parmesan for dinner.  Like, badly.  I looooove chicken parm (I sound like a broken record, cuz I know I’ve said that a lot!).  In any case, I had not had it in awhile, so I was jonesing.  However, it was also a dreary day outside, so I was also thinking it would be a perfect day for soup.  Warm, comforting, relaxing, homemade soup.  Mmmm.

But then the most amazing thing happened.  I went onto my “Chicken Dishes” Pinterest board to look for chicken parm and I found Chicken Parmesan Meatball Soup by Chocolate Moosey.  Seriously.  Chicken Parm + Soup = I died and went to Heaven.  Again, SERIOUSLY – the most genius idea in the world.


I am still excited about it today.  And I might have to break my “never cook the same dish twice” rule in order to make this dish again because it was fan-freaking-tastic.  How long can I rave about this, you wonder?  😉

My husband was joking that it was like eating chicken meatballs in marinara sauce for dinner.  Ours was probably quite a bit thicker than the original recipe, as it calls for canned crushed tomatoes, and I just used canned tomato sauce.  I don’t like chunky tomatoes, and I could have blended the tomatoes, but that felt like an extra step.  However, now that I think about it, it probably would have been a thinner soup had I done that. 

Also, I know that it is pretty ingredient-heavy, but the good news is that most of the ingredients are things you already have in your cabinets!  Also, don’t do what I did and almost forget the cheese at the end – I had started to dish it up in our bowls, then was like I FORGOT THE CHEESE, and dumped them back into the pot.  That’s really how my mind works sometimes, haha.

In related news, sorry for posting 3 pictures of essentially the same thing.  I didn’t take any preparation pix, so I figured I’d over-compensate this way.

Also: this would have been great with some pasta, too!

Chicken Parmesan Meatball Soup

serves 4-6 (depending on appetites)

For the meatballs
-1/4cu + 1tbsp panko breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes
-1lb ground chicken
-1/4cu finely chopped onion (roughly half a small onion)
-1 clove garlic, minced
-2tbsp parmesan cheese
-1/2tsp salt
-1/2tsp dried basil
-1/2tsp dried parsley
For the soup
-1tbsp olive oil
-1tbsp butter
-1/2cu chopped onion (you can use the rest of the onion from above)
-1/4tsp salt
-1/4tsp ground black pepper
-1/8tsp dried basil
-1/8tsp dried oregano
-1/8tsp dried thyme
-1/8tsp paprika
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2tbsp tomato paste
-28oz canned tomatoes with juice (I used tomato sauce, which provided a thicker soup)
-2 cu + 1cu chicken broth
-1/4cu shredded mozzarella cheese (plus more to garnish)

For the meatballs
-In a small bowl, add 1/4 cup panko/corn flakes, then in a large bowl, mix together the chicken, onion, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, remaining 1 tablespoon panko, basil, and parsley.
-Make one inch meatballs (mine might have been bigger), then roll them into the panko. Keep them refrigerated on a tray while you make the soup.
For the soup
-In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter on medium-low or medium until melted. Add the onion and cook until soft, 5-8 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, paprika, garlic, and tomato paste. Stir all together and cook another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 2 cups broth. Bring a boil then turn down to a simmer and cook 30 minutes.
-Add the soup mixture to a blender and puree until smooth (FYI – I skipped this, because it seemed like too much work, as I would have had to do it in batches, and then it’d also be more dishes to wash, and I was so happy with the result).
-Add back to the pot with the remaining 1 cup broth and bring to a boil.
-Once boiling, add the meatballs. Cook 7-10 minutes or until the meatballs are fully cooked (now this was actually a bit tricky – I had more meatballs, most likely, because I used more chicken – also be careful, as I had to cover the pot at this point, since everything was popping, and sauce/broth was getting everywhere, including on me, which kinda hurt! Every so often, I would lift the lid just far enough to stick a spoon in to stir/rotate the meatballs, but not enough to let the sauce pop on me and all over the stove).
-Stir in the cheese until melted. Serve in bowls and garnish with extra mozzarella cheese.

Mexican Spiced Turkey Burgers

My husband and I had a busy and fun weekend!  I was excited to try out several new recipes this weekend, and I love enjoying company and cooking for others, as well.  On Saturday, I made Mexican Spiced Turkey Burgers from I Don’t Go To The Gym’s Blog.  We had a couple over from our old church, and their 3 kids (only the adults ate the burgers – the kids had hot dogs).  It was the husband’s first time EVER eating a turkey burger.  I am just flabergasted when I hear things like that, because it is so normal to me!  But then I remember, I didn’t eat turkey burgers as a kid or while growing up – probably once I really started cooking is when I started eating turkey burgers.  My husband also didn’t eat them before I came into his life! 😉

Our friends’ kids also don’t spend a lot of time around pets, and it was just adorable to see them so enamored with the cat and lizard, and even afraid of our sweet little dog!  It was cute to see them warm up to him, petting him, then proudly telling their parents that they were able to.  At first I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough to keep the kids busy, but with having 6 pets and a little play area outside, it turned out to be great for the 2, 4, and 6 year olds!

Going back to these Mexican turkey burgers…I have had this recipe saved for about a year now, just kind of waiting to make it.  It involves SO MUCH STUFF.  Nothing really expensive or out of the ordinary, but it’s definitely a trashed up or fancied up burger.  I even had to text my friend ahead of time to make sure she was ok with it, or if they prefer “normal” burgers.  As many people know, I RARELY make a normal burger. 😉

There are some changes I would recommend from the original recipe – the original recipe says to use one pound of ground turkey to make 6 patties…um…how is that even possible?  Sometimes it can be difficult enough to make 4 patties out of one pound of meat!  I ended up using 1.25lbs (it was on sale for cheaper than the 1lb package!) and made 5 burgers.  Also, there is SO MUCH additional stuff in these burgers, that I actually had to cut it down a bit, because there would be literally almost no burger and all filling (which I suppose may have been their point, but it’s kind of hard to grill filling with minimal burger).  As it was, we had to grill these on foil (make sure to spray your foil!), so that they wouldn’t fall apart between the grates.  Also, I omitted the jalapeno (but kept the bell pepper – and my husband didn’t mind! Score!).  I also only used half a red onion, to save for a yummy watermelon salsa I also made (check the blog soon for that recipe), and only used half of the red bell pepper because, again, there was just so much filling.

Despite all the filling and despite all the changes – these were YUMMY burgers.  I mean it.  So filling, so flavourful, dripping with flavours.  My friend (the wife) said that she loved the “pockets” of cheese in the burger, and the husband said that he really liked it too!  Sure, he might have just said that to be polite, but he ate the whole thing, which I think says something. 😉

For the recipe below, I am going to post using my alterations, from what I can remember, but if you’d like to compare and contrast, definitely check out the original recipe – feel free to make it your own!

Bonus: we used fresh cilantro from our garden! Yay!

Mexican Spiced Turkey Burgers

serves 4

-1lb lean ground turkey
-1/2 or 1 chopped red bell pepper
-1/2 or 1 chopped small red onion
-1/2 cup frozen corn
-1tbsp olive oil
-1-2tbsp cumin
-1-2tbsp chili powder
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1 handful cilantro, chopped
-1 lime
-1 egg white
-1/4cu panko (I used a little more)
-4tbsp Mexican cheese blend

-Add one tbsp olive oil to saute pan over medium heat, then add red pepper, onion, garlic, frozen corn, 1 tbsp cumin, and 1 tbsp chili powder to saute pan. Saute until golden brown. Add juice from one lime and mix to combine flavors.
-In a mixing bowl combine lean ground turkey with the veggie mixture. Add remaining cumin and chili powder (if you want to – 1tbsp of each was actually pretty decent). Mix in chopped cilantro, panko, and egg white.
-Form patties, stuffing some cheese into the center, and then fold the meat around.
-Either grill or use saute pan with non-stick olive oil spray. Cook on medium high heat for 5-7 minutes each side
-Top with condiments of your choice, on the buns, and serve.

Thai Beef Tacos

I spent 3 days at the Watershed music festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre near George, Washington (yes, that is really what it’s called).  It was my first time at the Gorge and it was truly an epic experience.  There were so many amazing performers, musicians, and entertainers.  And the entertainers weren’t only on stage!  There were definitely the crazy kids walking around trying to shock everyone (guys wearing daisy dukes and sporting bikini tops, guys wearing speedos with dollar bills stuffed in them, girls in teeny thong bikinis, and even a guy that shaved his chest hair into a bikini shape – that one was actually pretty original).


Before my mini vacation, I made these AMAZING Thai beef tacos from How Sweet It Is‘s blog.  I have been waiting for ages to make this.  It is a bit more costly than the average dish, because I had to buy fresh mango and it has a lot of ingredients, but it was SO, SO, SO, SO, SO worth it.  I had bought some thin steak on sale recently, so just had to stock up on some of the fresh produce to pair with it.

The “serving” is about 3 tacos (using the little corn tortillas), but I think I ate 4-ish.  I could have eaten about 10, if we had enough meat for it.  These were seriously amazing.

How Sweet It Is has been the inspiration for many of my favourite meals, and this one was no exception.  I marinated the meat for 24 hours (longer is better, people!).  I also added the jalapeno to my salsa separately, as my husband can’t handle that kind of spice.  Speaking of the mango salsa, I may or may not have just eaten the salsa by the spoonful when there were no more tacos, but still some salsa left over…divine.

Thai Beef Tacos

serves 2

-1/2 to 3/4lb thin flank steak
-1tsp salt
-1tsp pepper
For the marinade
-3/4cu light (canned) coconut milk
-1tbsp sesame oil
-4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
-2tsp freshly grated ginger
-2tbsp brown sugar
-3tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
-1/3cu sweet chili sauce
For the mango salsa
-1/2 mango, chopped
-1 shallot, diced
-1 jalapeno, diced
-2tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
-sprinkle each of sugar, salt & pepper
For the tacos
-1tsp canola oil
-6-8 corn tortillas
-1/2cu sweet chili sauce
-1/4cu peanuts, chopped
-green leafy lettuce + fresh cilantro for topping

-Sprinkle flank steak with salt and pepper. Combine coconut milk, sesame oil, chili sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar and cilantro in a bowl and whisk. Add flank steak to a ziplock bag or a shallow baking dish and pour marinade overtop. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
-When ready to prepare, remove steak from fridge and let sit for 20-30 minutes, to reach room temperature.
-In a bowl, combine mango, shallot, jalapeno, salt, sugar and pepper, mix thoroughly, then set aside.
-Heat a large oven-safe skillet (like cast iron) over high heat. At the same time, preheat the broiler in your oven. (You can also grill the steak if you wish.)
-Using a pastry brush, brush oil onto the skillet so there is only a very thin layer. Remove steak from marinade with kitchen tongs, placing in the skillet. Sear on both sides for 2-3 minutes.
-Remove skillet and place is the oven directly under the broiler. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook for 3-4 minutes more (for a 1-in thick steak, this results in medium to medium well, but broil for less if you’d like it less done).
R-emove skillet from over, and place steak on a cutting board to rest for 15-20 minutes. At this time, assemble your tortillas (warm them if desired), salsa, extra chili sauce for drizzling and -cilantro. After the steak has rested, slice it into thin strips. Assemble tacos as desired and eat!
**Side Note: I did not broil my steak at all, because it was SUPER thin stir fry steak, and broiling would have literally charred it – so use your best judgment if you decide to broil/grill, as it totally depends on what kind of steak you have.**