Aldi Cheese Pizza Hack

So full disclosure that this is not an original idea, though my own topping idea. Why have I never thought of it before, I will never know though. It really is a bit like, duh!

Recently, I joined an Almost All Aldi group on Facebook for sharing recipes and tips. It is being run by a blogger I have been following called the Mashup Mom (seriously, if you live near an Aldi, follow her and join the Group!). A question was asked in the group a couple of weeks ago about the toppings that people put on their pre-made Aldi pizzas (I think the brand is called Mamma Cozi). These are huge pizzas and already come with a variety of toppings, but apparently people kick it up a notch by adding other stuff onto it. So I thought, why not?

Now this can also be done with any pre-made pizza, but in this scenario it is all Aldi. It was raining the day I picked up my groceries and my receipt did not survive, so I can’t remember how much the uncooked pizzas cost, but I can guarantee it was less that it costs to get delivery –which we do not have! Can you believe there is no pizza delivery in my area? I can get Domino’s and Papa John’s, but as an Italian blooded girl from Jersey, that is not real pizza. There are two places to pick up pizza, but it is expensive to get a large pie with toppings. It is cheaper and so much more convenient to have pizza on hand in the fridge or even the freezer.

As I mentioned, this is a huge pizza, so the first thing you need to do is cover your oven rack in aluminum foil because it is not going to fit on a baking sheet.

Next take your pizza out of the wrappings and place directly on the rack. Next, add your toppings. I started with a five cheese pizza and added Prosciutto pieces and extra cheese. (I was going to add pineapple because pineapple on pizza is awesome despite what some may think, but realized I didn’t actually have any in my pantry).

Then we cooked it according to the directions on the box, about 18 minutes.

Yum! Definitely trying this one again. This would also be fun to do with my son and his friends the next time they have a PS4 tournament. It is cheap enough to have multiple pies, though my oven certainly isn’t big enough to cook it all at once!

What are your go to pizza toppings? Comment below to share your favorite flavor combos.

**I also want to mention that if you ever see the big flat boxes of Mamma Cozi refrigerated pizza breadsticks with sauce, pick up a couple boxes! These taste just like Little Caesar’s Crazy Bread…Hey, not all things about the chain pizza companies are bad.

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Sometimes You Have an Instant Pot Winner

So my pasta dinner in the Instant Pot might have been a fail, but my Beef Stew was an insta[pot] success!

This was so good, I forget to take a picture, this is my second helping (I skipped lunch).

Materials:

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 16oz can diced tomatoes, do not drain
  • 1 packet Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 Bay lead
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4-5 small potatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup mashed potatoes

Procedure:

1. In the Instant Pot, set on Sauté onion and garlic with olive oil. Cook until onions start to turn translucent.

2. Add beef stew meat, season with salt and pepper first.

3. Add beef broth.

4. Add tomatoes

5. Add packet Lipton Onion Soup Mix.

6. Add bay leaf, thyme, and rosemary.

7. Add carrot, potatoes, and celery.

8. Stir and place the lid on the Instant Pot. Set on Meat/Stew on High for 20 minutes. Make sure vent is closed.

9. Let NPR for 15 min.

10. To thicken, stir in instant mashed potato flakes.

If you have ever had the Beef Stew at Cracker Barrel, this is very similar. The tomatoes break down and the onions disintegrate into the sauce. The potatoes breaking down will make the sauce thicker, but I help things along by adding the mashed potatoes. It tastes better than adding flour or cornstarch.

We ate this served over egg noodles. Because I used the last of my beef bouillon (which meant basically dumping in the remainder of my jar) and added the soup mix, this was a little salty, but it was so good. I have brought the leftovers to lunch at work all week. Perfect for the chilly office!

Paprikás Csirke Hack with the Instant Pot

I am a quarter Hungarian and grew up on Paprikás Csirke with Nokedli …basically Hungarian chicken and dumplings with lots of paprika and served with sour cream. Somehow time got away from me yesterday, so I decided to make a hacked version via the Instant Pot. I say hacked because I started with frozen chicken breasts and instead of making the nokedli (i.e. the dumplings) from scratch, I made a pot of Mrs. T’s Cheddar and Potato Pirogies.

Materials:

  • 6qt Instant Pot
  • Stock pot
  • Plate
  • Large spoon
  • Tongs
  • 2 forks ( to shred chicken)

Ingredients:

  • Three frozen Chicken Breasts
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbs paprika
  • 1 Tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 bag frozen pierogis
  • Sour cream (to taste)

Procedure:

1. Place chicken stock, garlic, butter, and seasonings in Instant Pot. Stir together.

2. Place three frozen chicken breasts in pot. Be careful not to overlap as this will affect the cooking. No one wants raw chicken.

3. Set Instant Pot on Poultry on High for 15 minutes. Let NPR for 15 minutes.

4. While your Instant Pot is heating up and getting ready to count down, start a pot of boiling water for the pirogies. Cook per instructions on the bag (usually 5-7 minutes once water starts boiling).

5. When your Instant Pot is done, pull chicken out and shred. Place shredded chicken back in pot and mix with the broth.

6. Dish out some pirogies and top with chicken mixture. Make sure to get some of that broth.

7. Top with sour cream.

Personally, I think I could have used more paprika in this dish, but the guys really liked it. It was quick and easy and very filling. You could of course swap out the pirogies with egg noodles or even your own nokedli (I have even used canned biscuits dropped in boiling water before).

Enjoy!

Ham & Bean Soup for a Cold December Day

Today is sunny, but it is one of those days where it is so cold that you don’t want to leave the comfort of your blankets, steaming mug, and comfy couch. It is the perfect day for soup…especially if you have a ham bone leftover from Christmas dinner.

For Christmas, I got an extra inner pot for my 6qt Instant Pot. This means I can make two things back to back without having to wait until the first pot is cool enough for me to clean out. So I made an attempt at Ham and Bean soup. This recipe starts with dried beans. You could wait over night while the beans soak, but why wait when you can have them in an instant?

Materials:

Ingredients:

  • 16-20 oz Dried Northern White Beans with Ham Seasoning
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups sliced ham (with bone)
  • 2 cups cubed potatoes
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 3 tbs butter

Procedure:

1. So to start, sort your dried beans for any small stones and rinse well. A strainer is helpful for this step.

2. Place beans in your instant pot with 4 cups water. Set at Manual at high for 40 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes for the pin to drop.

3. At this point, I swapped my inner pots. My beans absorbed all the water, but you might need to drain them if you still have water in your pot.

4. Add dried onions, minced garlic, and butter to the inner pot on Sauté. Heat until onions are translucent.

You need to keep stirring so they don’t burn. I got distracted as you can see by the brown onions here, but it didn’t affect the flavor too much.

5. Turn off Sauté. Add diced carrots, celery, potatoes, ham, chicken stock, and seasonings. Mix well. Add your cooked beans and mix it together.

6. Set at Manual on High for 20 minutes and let NPR for 15 minutes.

Yum! Enjoy and try to stay warm today!

Sweet and Sour Chicken from Scratch

So I didn’t actually take any step by step pictures for this one, but the other night, my son said he wanted to eat Chinese food. He really just wanted to eat white rice. I admit that there is something very soothing about not only eating white rice, but also the smell of a fresh pot from the rice cooker. In our house, the rice of choice is Jasmine. So even better.

I think I am getting a little off topic…

Well, I happened to be on my way to Aldi to pick up some groceries and there was no way I was going to go to the store and then order out (though, yes, we have done drive thru with a full trunk of groceries before. It happens). So instead I decided that we would make Chinese food. He said he was fine with that as long as there was rice. Nice of him, huh? So I picked up a package of chicken tenders which may have been a little more in price than the breasts, but you are paying for the convenience.

When I got home, I told him that he would be helping me make dinner. So we looked up several recipes on the internet before we found a combination that we liked and oh my goodness was it good. We made sweet and sour chicken all from scratch. I hope you enjoy because this is now a new favorite in our house.

Materials:

Ingredients:

For the Rice:

*consult your rice cooker for exact amounts. Mine uses a special scoop to measure.

For the Chicken:

  • 1 lb Chicken
  • 3/4 cup Corn Starch
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 cup Lemon Flavored Seltzer
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Pepper
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Tbs Vegetable Oil

For the Sauce:

  • 3 Tbs Ketchup
  • 1 cup Pineapple Juice
  • 1 Tbs Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbs Water
  • 1Tbs Cornstarch

Procedure:

For the Rice:

  1. Measure out the amount of rice that you wish to cook. For example, I typically use three scoops of Jasmine Rice using the special cup that came with my rice cooker. This scoop does not exactly measure to equal one cup exactly, so make sure to follow the instructions on how to measure out rice based on your rice cooker.
  2. Rinse rice in water until water is clear. This rinses the starch off the rice which make for a nice sticky rice like you would get in a Chinese restaurant. I like to use a strainer and use a back and forth method under the faucet until the water is clear and no longer cloudy from the starch. It also helps to swish it around in the pot as you are rinsing it.
  3. Measure water to the level specified for your rice cooker for the amount of scoops you added.
  4. Place in rice cooker and set cooking selection of White Rice. You could also do this in your Instant Pot, but I admit that I have not tried this yet. Same instructions would apply though.

For the chicken:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cube chicken into 1 inch cubes and set aside.
  3. Add flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and baking powder to medium size bowl and use a fork to mix well together. You could also use a flour sifter to sift together the dry ingredients to make sure they are well blended.
  4. Break one egg in small cup or bowl and mix well. Add to flour mixture.
  5. Add seltzer to flour and egg mixture. This should be a mixture pretty similar to Oobleck.
  6. Dip chicken into the Oobleck-like mixture and toss well so chicken is well covered. Coat all chicken pieces. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your skillet.
  7. Heat skillet to high medium heat and add approximately 2 tablespoons oil.
  8. When oil is hot, carefully add chicken to skillet. Do not overcrowd your pan as it will lose heat.
  9. Flip chicken when starts to brown. This may be approximately 2-3 minutes. Don’t worry about cooking it through as you will be finishing in the oven.
  10. Move chicken to foil covered baking sheet.
  11. Once all chicken has been partially cooked in skillet and moved to baking sheet, place baking sheet in oven. Cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
  12. Move to a paper towel covered plate for any residual oil.
  13. Serve with the sauce form the next section.

For the Sauce:

  1. In small saucepan, combine pineapple juice, light brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, and soy sauce. Whisk together.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. In small bowl, combine water and cornstarch. Add to pot and whisk in.
  4. Cook until sauce thickens, should take about one minute.
  5. Remove from heat and serve over chicken.

Please keep in mind that this is my method, you may prefer to forgo the oven and cook it completely in the pan. I have an issue with texture and just don’t really like the texture of fully skillet fried chicken. That is why I finish in the oven.