Sunday, April 30, 2017

Broke My Own Rule

I know, I know. I've said it a million times before.  I don't think chicken has any place on a pizza. But, I'll admit that I've had chicken pizzas before and it wasn't terrible.  Probably because I still maintain that pizza is the world's perfect food.  All food groups can be (and should be) represented. 

The other day, I cleaned out my fridge.  How does one family of 3 come up with so many jars of stuff?  Horseradish, capers, 5 kinds of jelly, wasabi, 4 hot sauces, maraschino cherries, just to name a few.  And, two half full bottles of BBQ sauce. That sauce, and the leftover roasted chicken in my fridge, got me thinking.  You know where I'm going with this.

I pulled out the bread machine and whipped up some pizza dough.  I really love this machine and need to remember more often that I have it. And, the fridge ingredients got involved to create our version of a BBQ chicken pizza.

I started early in the afternoon with caramelizing onions. If you have the time to slowly caramelize onions the right way, you'll be so pleased with yourself.

This is 3 medium-large sized onions
Starting to get a little color

Browning up more

Slowly but surely, we're getting there

OMG, isn't this beautiful?
My chicken was already cooked, so I just shredded it and tossed it around in some of that BBQ sauce from the fridge clean-out.  I rolled our homemade dough out nice and thin and placed on my trusty pizza stone.  After brushing with some olive oil, I put it into a 500 degree oven to prebake and get crisp.

For the pizza, we used a layer of BBQ sauce instead of tomato pizza sauce.

Since we're going with red BBQ sauce, some cheddar made sense.

Then, I just continued on with the chicken, some chopped (cooked) bacon, my gorgeous caramelized onions, pineapple chunks and mozzarella. 

The finished product

Despite a pretty sophisticated palate, my sweet girl usually defaults to a cheese pizza (much to mama's chagrin).  However, she took one bite of this and declared it the "best pizza ever."  It's her new favorite.  Personally, I think I went overboard on the sauce.  It was tasty, but a little too sweet for me, but overall, I thought it turned out quite well.  The bacon and pineapple were great choices and really gave the pie a cool "flavor profile" as they love to spout off on The Food Network. Next time, I'll just use less sauce and I think it'll be pretty close to perfect. 

On a personal note: I dedicate this post to Paul Whitlark.  He was a nutty, looney, generous, kind, always hospitable friend to so many of us.  He will always be Rosewood's favorite "Pizza Man" and we will all miss him terribly.  Peace to all of his family. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tikka Masala Makes Ya Holla!

I've always been intrigued by how we have to teach our kids to enjoy other cuisines, such as Mexican, Indian, Japanese, etc. But, in Mexico and India and Japan, little kids are eating that food all day long.  You can't say it's too spicy or too weird for kids, because clearly, there are kids eating it.  I guess I have to conclude that somewhere in New Delhi there is a mom trying to introduce her kids to fried chicken and biscuits.  Right?  

I love Indian food.  I admit that I am far from being an expert.  I wish I were. But, thanks to Indian friends and clients, I know a thing or two.  I own an Indian cookbook, I know where my local Indian market is, I've made Biryani and Tikka Masala from scratch.  And since I love to cook, it's fun but make no mistake, cooking Indian takes time and lots of ingredients.  Mainly spices.  Lots and lots of spices.

Recently, I was cruising the aisles at Aldi and came across a brand of Indian "simmer sauces."  I got so excited; what a great way to have some Indian on a quick weeknight schedule.  And, the little one (not so little anymore...just had a birthday!) has been expressing interest in Indian food.  I bought Korma, Jalfrezi and Tikka Masala.  

It couldn't be simpler: cube up some chicken, saute it to brown, saute onions, sweet bell peppers, peas, whatever.  I added some chopped spinach to the most recent batch to add well, spinach, and color.  

Simmering away with Tikka Masala sauce

The first couple times I made it, I worried that the sauce might be a little spicy for the Vivver.  I portioned out enough for her and added some half & half to tone it down.  However, on our most recent dinner, she tasted it ahead of time and deemed it not too spicy, so I left it alone.  And since Aldi is the bomb-diggity that it is, they also sell really awesome packaged Naan bread that just takes minutes to warm in the oven.  It's like restaurant food on a Tuesday night!  

Our chicken Tikka Masala over Basmati rice and served with garlic naan
 And, now I have an 11 year old who is a fan and can't wait to actually go out to a real Indian restaurant and sample lots of good stuff!  My work here is done.  Not really, but you get my drift.  Next up?  New Peruvian restaurant in our neighborhood.  Anyone know anything about Peruvian food?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I'm Still Here!


I am alive and well. Despite what you may have heard, I have not suffered a terrible demise. I have not fallen off a cliff or gotten trapped under a large rock.  I am, however, ridiculously embarrassed to admit that I haven't written a thing since December. I offer proof of life:  

Excuses?  Probably not any good ones, but I can tell you this...Girl Scout cookie season took over my life.  I had to serve as the "Cookie Manager" for our troop this year.  It's not really a hard job, despite what people tell you.  But it is insanely time-consuming.  My husband actually asked me how much I was getting paid for it.  Uhhh, nuthin' honey.  

Consider this your warning: I'm back.  Today I find myself in that oh-so-familiar place.  "What can I do with this damn chicken today?"  Yes, I'm in a chicken rut. Again.  I'll figure out something to do with it and will come up with more interesting topics for future posts.  Promise. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Fresh Pierogies in the Neighborhood!

We were so excited to see that the European Market moved up Rosewood Drive closer to us.  I mean, I get it, where it was wasn't far, but now I can walk to it in no time flat. And, now they are right next door to another of our neighborhood faves, The Local Buzz. 

I was out tonight for some last minute boxes and wrapping paper when I noticed their "open" sign was still on.  I popped in hoping they might have Kinder eggs, being European and all.  Happy of happy days, they do!  The Vivver will be most pleased to see that Santa once again picked up a couple of these Euro-gems for her. 

Since I was alone, I took some time to browse around. I discovered all kinds of cool stuff in this little market, but one of the first things to catch my eye was that the clerk was unpacking a couple big boxes of containers of pierogies. I kind of lurked over her shoulder checking them out. Not having much experience with pierogies, I was curious but also clueless. 

Fast forward to check out.  I started chatting with the clerk and somehow the pierogies came up.  She told me that they are made fresh by the owner and that I should try them.  She recommended the ones filled with sweet cheese; those are her favorites.  I had also notice some were labeled as stuffed with kraut. Neil loves sauerkraut, so she said, "oh, you must get him some!"  So, I did.  I got them home and we dove into one of the kraut ones right out of the package.  They have caramelized onions on top; added bonus!  Then, I warmed and browned one of each type in some butter so we could sample them as intended.  OMG.  These little dumplings are so fantastic! The cheese pierogies are slightly sweet, kind of like lightly sweetened ricotta.  But, we both agreed the sauerkraut ones are our favorites. 

I've read tons of recipes over the years for pierogies but have never attempted them.  They are soft dumplings with (probably) as many types of filling as one could imagine.  The ones I bought tonight were fully cooked, so all I had to do was warm and brown them up. They were just delicious.  And, apparently, you can special order them from the market if you need a specific quantity for a party or get-together. 

The European Market is right next door to The Local Buzz at the corner of Shandon St. and Rosewood Dr.  I highly recommend you patronize both!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Mom was Right...Again!

By the time my sister and I got to high school, my mom was running a full-swing real estate business and was working a lot.  We had already begun learning to cook simply because quite often, mom got home late. My dad began to specialize in awesome stuff like Veal Oscar and his famous Kiwi Shrimp.  It was around this same time that Mom turned over the grocery shopping to us girls.

We would make the list, decide on dishes for the upcoming days and then Mom or Dad would hand us a blank check and off we'd go to the old Winn Dixie in Irmo.  Y'all remember that place?  When they built that grocery store, it was monumental.  No more trucking up Broad River Road to the old Big Star for us Irmese anymore!  The cashiers all knew us, so we never had any issues using our blank checks. And, we never abused it either. We stuck to our list, for the most part. Every now and then we'd find something that jumped out at us and we'd indulge.  But overall, we were good little shoppers.

So, here's today's lesson:  Mom told us something very important. She said, "It's ok to buy generic.  It all comes from the same factory. They just put different labels on it."  Now, we all know that sometimes there is a difference.  For instance, Aldi's brand of Cheetos just isn't worth the time of day.  Folger's coffee is crap, no matter what label you slap on it.  But for the most part, Mom is right.  Take this example that I noticed just today:

See this butter? The stick at the top is Publix brand.  The bottom one is Aldi brand.  The difference in color is because I just took the Aldi stick out of the freezer. You'll notice that the fonts look exactly alike, right?  Well, look at this:

Good ol' Plant # 55-360 packed both sticks!  See?  It IS all one big factory, just like my mom said all those years ago!  The only difference is that a pound of butter is about $2 less at Aldi than at Publix.  And, if you're one of those people who think you need to pay even more than the Publix price for something like Land O'Lakes, well...

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Don't Skimp on the Shrimp

One of the perks of living in a coastal state is that fresh, wild seafood is just a car ride away. This fact does make me scratch my head, however, when I see seafood in our grocery stores from other places.  Why?  Why?  It's just two hours down the road!

One of Neil's friends is from Beaufort, SC and he and his dad are avid fishermen.  On a recent visit to Columbia, Rick brought up tons of shrimp that he'd just caught.  Beautiful, South Carolina shrimp, already bagged up in 1lb sizes for us...and getting the "friend price" is always nice as well!  The thing about shrimp is, it's just like Bubba said in Forrest Gump; you can make a million dishes out of it.  Endless possibilities.

I needed some lunch, so here's what I did about it.  Shrimp salad on a flaky croissant.  Yeah, I said it.  I made a simple salad by gently poaching the shrimp in some homemade vegetable stock.  As they cooled, I mixed some light mayo, sliced green onion, salt, pepper and dill weed.  Stir, stir, stir and there's my shrimp salad. 

It was light, fresh and hit the spot.  In a restaurant, this would likely be a $15 sandwich.  Here at my house, about $2.50.  Hmmm, I think I got the better deal.  


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