Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chicken Parm Rolls

I loooooove chicken parmesan – tender chicken, tasty breading, slathered with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce and served with a side of pasta and fresh bread…here in Buffalo, they even make chicken parm subs (the chicken, cheese and sauce on a sub roll, minus the pasta).
Now you can put it all together in one handy package as a chicken parm roll – it’s a take-off on this Pillsbury recipe for Garlic Bread Spaghetti Rolls…since I’m not a fan of the meatballs (actually, hamburger in general), substituting leftover chicken parm was a no-brainer, because Restaurant Week at Campobello’s in East Amherst ALWAYS means leftover chicken parm! (More on that later…)
The recipe makes four rolls, and they warm up really nicely in the microwave, so they’re great for brown-bagging it to work too!

copyright Paula Thompson Freelance

Chicken Parm Rolls (inspired by Pillsbury)
1 8-oz. can crescent rolls or a flaky dough sheet (like Pillsbury’s Recipe Creations)
Leftover chicken parm and pasta (approximately 1 cup)
Mozzarella cheese (for topping the rolls, or adding inside if desired)
Olive oil (flavored if desired)
Pre-heat oven to 375-degrees F. Separate crescent rolls into four sections and pinch together the seams OR cut the dough sheet into four squares. Fill the center of each square with pasta (don’t overfill) and a piece of chicken parm (mine was about 1” to 1-1/2” square), adding extra mozzarella if desired. Form each into a roll by folding each corner up diagonally to the center and pinching together.
Brush top with olive oil (I used garlic-infused) and top with mozzarella. Place the four rolls on a baking sheet and bake for 16 to 17 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.
copyright Paula Thompson Freelance
**To warm up leftover rolls – microwave for 45 to 60 seconds on medium-high (for my microwave, for example, 70 percent).

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Favorite restaurants: Clarence Pizza Company

Formerly known as Pizza Inn, Clarence Pizza Company is another local business with great pizza (is it any wonder that my first Food Challenge was pizza??), as well as other traditional Buffalo pizza-place food – chicken wings and fingers, subs, pasta, salads and more.
Located at 6235 Goodrich Rd. in Clarence Center, CPC offers a number of specialty “signature” pizzas, including Chicken Finger Pizza, the Ultimate White Pizza, and the Sinatra Pizza, featuring your choice of chicken or pepperoni with olive oil, crushed garlic, Romano and mozzarella cheeses and swirled red sauce on top.
CPC runs daily specials for pizza, subs, wings and dinners on various nights of the week, and also has an everyday special of two slices of pizza and a can of soda. They also offer combo packs of pizza and chicken wings or fingers.
Check out Clarence Pizza Company’s menu at www.pizzainclarence.com.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pizza Challenge: Artisan Pizza in Five Minutes a Day

I love the Five-Minute Artisan books, of which I have both Artisan Bread and. It’s a great concept: make dough once and eat fresh bread or pizza for a couple of weeks. I really love the pizza recipe because I can make pizza shells to keep in the freezer if I won’t be able to use the dough during the time span. I’ve only made the original recipe so far, but I’m eager to explore some of the other recipes… someday…when I have time… (like in retirement!). This recipe makes dough for six to eight pizzas (about 12 inches in diameter each), and can easily be halved (which I do) or doubled.
copyright: Paula Thompson Freelance
Pizza Dough Master Recipe (from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day)
3-1/2 cups lukewarm water (approximately 100-degrees F)
1 tablespoon yeast
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
7-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Add water to a large bowl (approximately five quarts with a non-airtight lid), then add yeast and salt. Add flour to the water and mix – kneading is not necessary for this recipe; mixing can be done with a wooden spoon, food processor with dough attachment or stand mixer with paddle. When thoroughly mixed, cover with the non-airtight lid and allow to rise for two hours – do not punch down the dough.
That’s it! You’ve made your dough, and now over the next two weeks you can have fresh pizza whenever you desire. To make the pizza, pre-heat your pizza stone at your oven’s highest temperature for 30 minutes. While pre-heating, remove a orange-sized piece of dough (approximately 1/2-pound) from your container and shape into a ball for 20 to 30 seconds (add flour to your hands, not the dough, to make the job easier). Roll out or stretch the dough into a 12-inch shell (mine usually end up square!), approximately 1/8-inch thick, and move to either a pizza peel or parchment paper. Add toppings and move to the pre-heated stone, baking for 8 to 10 minutes. If you want to make shells for later, bake for only 4 to 5 minutes and store in the freezer – when ready to use, thaw, add toppings, and bake for 6 to 8 minutes.
Get more detailed instructions and additional recipes in the book Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Favorite restaurants: Pizza Supreme

Pizza Supreme, located at 8550 Sheridan Dr. in Clarence (in the same plaza as Bender’s Christian Store), is another one of the Amherst/Clarence area’s great pizza and wing places. With a variety of pizzas, subs, appetizers, salads, wraps and wings, Pizza Supreme has something to please everyone– they also have a soup and salad bar that often features one of their specialties, Buffalo Chicken Wing Soup.
Pizza Supreme offers numerous daily specials, including wing specials on Tuesday, pizza on Wednesday and party pack specials everyday featuring pizza and chicken wings or fingers. They also have a banquet/party room and catering available.
One of the best things about Pizza Supreme, besides the food, is their Rewards Program. Sign up for a card and collect points toward $10 gift certificates. You’ll also get extra rewards throughout the year on your birthday and/or wedding anniversary, special double-points offerings and coupons.
Pizza Supreme is open Sundays 2 to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pizza Challenge: Crescent Pizza

Remember last week I mentioned that I used half of the can of crescent rolls from this recipe to make something else? This is it – Pizza in a Crescent from Pillsbury. It’s a great idea for a sturdier piece of pizza for those who enjoy hand-held foods, or treat it like a calzone or a pod (a Buffalo specialty) – cut it to eat with a fork and dunk it in some more pizza sauce. My suggestion would be to make this with the crescent roll sheets (Pillsbury’s are called Recipe Creations), and that way you’ll avoid having to pinch the seams together from the individual rolls. This recipe makes four pizzas.
copyright Paula Thompson Freelance
Crescent Pizza (adapted from Pillsbury)
1 can (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or refrigerated seamless dough sheet
1 package pepperoni slices (3-1/2 oz.)
4 tablespoons pizza sauce
Shredded mozzarella cheese (to your liking of cheesiness)
Pre-heat oven to 375-degrees F.  If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough; separate dough into 4 rectangles. Firmly press perforations to seal. Press or roll into four 7” x 5” rectangles. If using dough sheet: Unroll dough; cut into 4 rectangles. Press or roll into four 7” x 5” rectangles.
Arrange 7 to 9 pepperoni slices in center third of each rectangle, then top with 1 tablespoon pizza sauce and shredded mozzarella. Fold short sides of dough to almost meet in center and pinch edges together, leaving middle open; add more pepperoni tucked into the middle. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 13 to 16 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – peanut butter and chocolate are perfect together. When it comes to chocolate, my desert island candy is M&Ms – just the plain ones (but if someone wants to drop off some Peanut Butter M&Ms, I’ll suffer – haha! – through them too!). This recipe for Peanut Butter M&M Cookies, found on the blog How Crazy Cooks through Tasty Kitchen, combines two of my favorite things into a tasty little handheld treat. This is a great recipe it you need a lot of cookies for something – I cut this down to 1/3 of the recipe, and got 17 cookies, so you’re looking at about four dozen cookies from the following recipe.
copyright Paula Thompson Freelance
Peanut Butter M&M Cookies (adapted from How Crazy Cooks)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup M&Ms, plain
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla; using mixer (hand or stand), cream ingredients together on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Add flour, oats and baking soda, and mix on low speed until combined, and stir in M&Ms by hand.
Drop dough by tablespoons onto lined baking sheets, about two inches apart. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until bottoms are light golden brown, rotating pans halfway through baking.
Cool on baking sheet until cookies are firm enough to handle, then transfer to wire rack and finish cooling.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Favorite restaurants: Pautler’s Drive-In of Clarence

It’s spring, and that means it’s time for the return of Pautler’s Drive-In of Clarence, located at 6343 Transit Rd. in East Amherst. Established in 1958, Pautler’s is another family-owned and operated business that offers quick food that says summer, sun and fun.
There is a definite 1950s feel to Pautler’s, from the background music to the d├ęcor to the food: basics like hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers, beef on weck, curly q fries and fried bologna sandwiches. There’s also a lighter menu featuring chicken souvlaki and a selection of salads, plus a kids menu that offers a drink and fries with one of the following: hot dog, hamburger, cheeseburger, chicken fingers or the perennial kid-favorite, grilled cheese.
The best deals at Pautler’s are the combo meals, which start at less than $5 (hot dog). Each meal includes a medium drink, steak fries or curly q fries and your choice of hot dog, hamburger, cheeseburger, beef on weck or chicken fingers. These meals are made even better if you can find some of the coupons they offer in local coupon booklets – buy a combo meal, get a free custard!
Oh, yeah – in addition to great food, they serve awesome custard, ice cream (Perry’s!), frozen yogurt, milkshakes, floats and more. To add to the diner feel of Pautler’s, they host a popular Tuesday night Cruise Night from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; the 2013 edition kicks off on May 14th and runs through September.
Pautler’s does close for the winter, so make sure you get there before the snow flies!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Small-Batch Cut-Out Cookies

Ever have the need for just a few cut-out cookies…you know, to take somewhere (or, OK, to eat yourself)? This recipe from Dessert for Two fits the bill to a ‘T’ – depending on the size of your cookie cutters, you’ll get 10 to 15 cookies from this recipe, and the cookies are crispy and delicious.
copyright Paula Thompson Freelance
Small-Batch Cut-Out Cookies (adapted from Dessert for Two)
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees F. In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Once light and fluffy, add the egg yolk and vanilla. When combined thoroughly, add half the flour mixture and beat gently until combined, then add the rest. Beat until combined, but be careful not to over-mix.
Dust a clean counter top with flour. Gather dough into a ball and press it into a round disk. Flour the top of the dough, then roll out to desired thickness. Cut cookies using cookie cutters, and place shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Gather the dough scraps and re-roll to cut out more shapes and place them on the cookie sheet; continue until dough is used up.
Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes, then bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies just start to turn brown. Let them sit on the sheet a few minutes before moving them a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate with your favorite icing and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nutter Butter Truffles

As I’ve mentioned before, I love the blog The Smart Cookie Cook, because she’s got plenty of what I like on there: cheese, chocolate, pasta, more cheese, peanut butter, pizza, more chocolate…These are also my favorite food groups! J
For the recent Easter holiday, she developed a decadent treat for the chocolate and peanut butter lovers among us, and I had to try it out (because I knew I’d have plenty of guinea pigs to try them!) – Nutter Butter Truffles.
copyright Paula Thompson Freelance
The original recipe made two dozen truffles, but I cut it in half (because I was experimenting with other recipes as well) and used those cute little Nutter Butter Bites instead of the full-size cookies.

Nutter Butter Truffles (adapted from The Smart Cookie Cook)
3/4 bag (8 oz.) Nutter Butter Bites
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
Milk chocolate candy wafers (or whatever flavor or color you’d like)
Place Nutter Butter Bites and peanut butter chips in a food processor and process until they start to come together (approximately 5 minutes), stopping periodically to scrape down the sides. Add the oil and process until smooth and creamy (approximately an additional 2 minutes). Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
Form Nutter Butter mixture into tablespoon-sized balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper so it doesn’t stick. Continue with remaining mixture. Transfer truffles to the freezer until completely firm (one to two hours).
Melt chocolate by your desired method just before removing the truffles from the freezer. Dunk frozen truffles into the chocolate and coat completely using a fork or just your fingers. Flip to coat both sides and let excess drip off. Return to lined waxed paper lined baking sheet.
Stick coated truffles in fridge to set completely and enjoy. Store extras in an airtight container in the fridge. Let come to room temperature before eating. Makes one dozen.

Copyright Paula Thompson Freelance

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pizza Challenge: Pizza Bites

I’m working on a few “challenges” this year, starting with the Pizza Challenge. Pizza is now more than a round pie with tomato sauce, cheese and some other toppings – it’s a flavor, something that has moved into pasta, sandwiches, hand-held versions, knife-and-fork versions – the possibilities for pizza are endless! So I’m checking my recipe catalogs for new “pizza” recipes and I’ll be posting the “results” here.
copyright: Paula Thompson Freelance

First up: these Pizza Bites from the Dinner-Mom blog that I found on Tasty Kitchen. Stuffed with three cheeses and using crescent roll dough, there’s a lot of flavor in these easy-to-make little bites – dip them in red sauce for a complete pizza experience. The original recipe makes 24 bites (great for party appetizers), but it can easily be cut in half if you have something else to make using crescent rolls (which I did – that recipe comes next week).

Pizza Bites (adapted from Dinner-Mom)
1 8-oz. can crescent roll dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 cup shredded mozzarella
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
In a small bowl, mix olive oil, garlic and Italian seasoning and set aside. In another bowl, mix cheeses in and set aside.
Roll out crescent roll dough and press together seams. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 24 small squares. Brush olive oil mixture over the dough, then place 1 teaspoon of cheese mixture on each square. Pull up the sides of the dough over the cheese and roll into a ball. Repeat for all of the squares.
To cook the bites, use the cake pop maker of your choice and follow the instructions given. I used a cake pop pan, which had the suggested temperature and time of 350-degrees F and 25 minutes – this worked well for the bites.
Remove bites from cake pop maker and enjoy.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Coffee Cake Muffins

Sometimes an “ooops!” can be a good thing, like it was for me with these Coffee Cake Muffins. In following the recipe from Pinch of Yum, I inadvertently (ie: misread the recipe!) added 1/2 cup brown sugar where I should have added 1/2 cup white sugar…not a big “ooops,” but it did add a little color and flavor to the muffins (they looked like Entenmann’s coffee cakes!), which were delish. This recipe made nine regular size muffins.
copyright Paula Thompson Freelance
Coffee Cake Muffins (adapted from Pinch of Yum)
Muffin batter:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 stick butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
Streusel mix:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
Ground cinnamon to taste
1/2 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl, set aside. In another bowl, cream together the butter, sour cream and vanilla. Whisk the egg into the mixture, then add brown sugar and mix until well combined. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just moistened.
For the streusel, combine the sugars, flour, cinnamon and butter in a small bowl. Cut the butter into the mixture until coarse crumbs form. Spoon the batter into lined muffin tins (you can also use cooking spray with the liners), filling about 1/3 of the way. Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of streusel on top of the batter. Cover with rest of batter and top with streusel. Bake for 17 to 19 minutes for regular size muffins, or adjust accordingly for muffin tins of other sizes.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Favorite restaurants: Sorrentino’s Spaghetti House

Sorrentino’s Spaghetti House, located at 5640 Main St. (corner of Mill St.) in the village of Williamsville, has been a long-time family favorite – and they sponsor my dad’s race team! A family-owned and operated business, Sorrentino’s has more than just spaghetti – there’s a wide selection of Italian specialties – pasta, pizza and more – as well as a variety of subs, salads and sandwiches, and some of the biggest chicken fingers I’ve ever had!
Sorrentino’s offers daily specials for many appetites:
·         Sunday, Monday and Tuesday – all you can eat spaghetti
·         Sunday and Wednesday – large cheese and one item pizza special
·         Thursday – chicken finger lunch or dinner special
·         Friday – fish fry
·         Saturday – chicken wing special
They also offer their homemade sauce to enjoy at home. For more information on Sorrentino’s, visit their website – www.sorrentinosspaghettihouse.com.