Chicken Parm Pizzas

Aaaahhh pizza. What is there not to like about it? I have been a pizza lover since a very young age. I can remember quite a few times when I was younger (I am talking under the age of 10) when I didn’t want to eat whatever my mom cooked for dinner so then dinner for me would be a slice of pizza. When I got to college, pizza was one of the tastiest (and safest) things to eat in the cafeteria. Thankfully they switched it up every day with Hawaiian pizza, pepperoni pizza, white pizza, focaccia pizza and so forth. So, what if you combined pizza – one Italian classic – with another classic, Chicken Parmesan? Well, you would get Chicken Parm Pizzas. And no, it’s not just a breaded chicken cutlet shaped into a circle. The key to this classic combo mash-up is using ground chicken to get that perfectly round pie.

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To begin I mixed a pound of ground chicken with Italian herb blend, salt, garlic and onion powders. I divided the mixture in half and then pressed it into two 8-inch cake plans that I lined with plastic wrap. Following that I covered the two pans with plastic wrap and placed them in the freezer for 4 hours.

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Before removing the ground chicken from the freezer I preheated the oven to 400 F and assembled the three separate coatings I would need for the chicken: Wondra Flour, 3 eggs lightly beaten and a breadcrumb – cheese mixture.

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The frozen chicken…

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Which I then coated in the flour, then in the eggs and finally in the breadcrumb – cheese mixture and then placed on a baking sheet.

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I then heated olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cooked the chicken rounds until they were golden. After draining them on paper towels I transferred them to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet.

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And then it was time for them to become “pizza.” I topped them with marinara sauce and sprinkled them with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

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I cooked them on the wire rack set inside the baking sheet for about 15 minutes, until the cheese was melted and the chicken was fully cooked through.

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While Chicken Parmesan is customarily served with pasta I opted to serve these pizza versions with steamed broccoli.

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Overall, these were quite tasty, but, I didn’t find them to be better than your typical Chicken Parmesan that definitely doesn’t require as much time or work. It’s definitely a nice twist on two classics though. One thing though, if I do make them again I will reduce the salt content in the seasoning for the ground chicken from a teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon (or even a 1/4) since I did find them to be a bit salty.

 

Chicken Parm Pizzas

Ingredients:

1 1/4 lbs. ground chicken

1 1/2 teaspoon Italian herb blend

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon onion powder

3 eggs

1/4 cup Wondra flour

1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

1/2 cup panko

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan*

4 tablespoons grated pecorino*

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup marinara sauce

*I didn’t have pecorino so I opted to use 8 tablespoons of Parmesan

 Directions:

1. Line 2 eight-inch cake pans with plastic wrap. In a medium bowl, mix the chicken, 1 tsp. herb blend, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. each garlic and onion powders. Divide chicken mixture and press into the prepared pans. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze 4 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs. Place the flour on a large plate. On another plate, combine the breadcrumbs, panko, 2 tbsp. Parmesan, 2 tbsp. pecorino, and the remaining Italian herb blend and garlic and onion powders. Unwrap the chicken; remove from the pans. Coat the chicken in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumb mixture. Transfer to a baking sheet.

3. Set a rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high. Cook 1 chicken round, turning once, until golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer the patty to paper towels. Repeat with the second chicken round. Transfer both to the rack.

4. Combine the remaining cheeses. Spread the marinara on the chicken, leaving a 1-inch border; sprinkle with the cheese mixture. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Last Minute Stuffed Peppers

Baking has always come naturally to me, cooking on the other hand is a whole other ballgame. I’m always apprehensive that I will under season or worse over season things, but lately I have become a bit more confident (or maybe I should say comfortable) with my cooking abilities. There is one thing that still frustrates me though… Figuring out what to cook, especially for dinner. As such was the case one day last week. I really was at a lost as to what to make, then while picking up some produce the light bulb in my head turned on and I thought stuffed peppers…. Hence Last Minute Stuffed Peppers. Customarily for a dish like this I would turn to a recipe, but I decided to wing it and create something on my own and a bit from memory from the last time I made them.

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I began making the filling for the peppers by sautéing sliced mushrooms in olive oil. Once they cooled I chopped them up and placed them in a large bowl.

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In the same pan I used to sauté the mushrooms I then cooked a pound of ground beef which I seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and half a red onion chopped. I then added this to the bowl with the mushrooms.

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I then added in a cup and a half of cooked brown rice to the mushroom meat mixture. To cook the brown rice I opted to use the 30 Minute Cooking Method; you bring a large pot of water to boil, stir in at most 2 cups of brown rice, bring the water to a boil once again and allow the rice to cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

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And finally I added in about 1/3 cup of jarred spaghetti sauce and a 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese to the rice mixture. I mixed it together well and set it aside.

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Next I prepped the peppers. I sliced the tops off the peppers and cleaned out their insides while I brought a large pot of water to boil. I boiled each of the peppers for about 4-5 minutes. I wanted the peppers to be tender but still a bit rigid so they wouldn’t tear when I stuffed them. I placed them in an 8 x 8 baking dish that I coated with about half of the sauce I had left in the jar.

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I then filled each of the peppers with the rice-beef mixture and topped them with the rest of the sauce and sprinkled each of them with the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese. And for the final touch I topped each of the peppers with their respective sliced tops.

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I placed the dish in a 350 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese was melted and I was sure that the filling had enough time to heat through.

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Prior to enjoying one I sliced it in half and added some of the spaghetti sauce that was in the bottom of the dish. Oh yes, and I added some extra vegetables to this dish by serving it with fresh okra on the side.

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My Last Minute Stuffed Peppers were delish! Definitely something that I will be making again. And best of all, it gave me a small boost in my cooking confidence.

 

Last Minute Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

4 large bell peppers, any color

3 cups (8 oz. package) sliced mushrooms

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 lb. lean ground beef (I used 80%)

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

1 jar of spaghetti sauce

1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until they are tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove them from the skillet and once they cool chop them up and place them in a large bowl.

3. In the same skillet, cook the ground beef along with onion and season with the salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. Once the beef is cooked add it to the bowl with the mushrooms.

4. Add the brown rice to the bowl with the beef and mushrooms along with 1/3 cup of the spaghetti sauce and 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella. Mix the contents together and set aside.

5. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile prep the peppers by slicing off their tops (set them aside) and cleaning out their seeds. Once the water is boiling add the peppers and leave them in the water for about 5 minutes; until the peppers are softened but not to the point where they are going to tear when stuffed.

6. Pour about 1/2 of the remaining spaghetti sauce into an 8 x 8 baking dish and then place the peppers in it. Fill each of the peppers with the rice – beef mixture, filling each of the peppers to the top. Pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over the peppers and top each of the peppers with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover the peppers with their reserved tops and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.