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A Healthy Treat

Thanks to my new job, I have acquired some awesome skills. One of those skills is making pizza dough.

Sunday afternoon me and my GF were getting ready to watch the Tony’s(her choice), and trying to figure out what to have for dinner. She’s been eating healthier lately, which is great, but kind of messes up my usual cooking style. My diet consists of french bread pizza and frozen burritos.

We decided a healthy pizza was the way to go for a lazy sunday dinner.

I made the dough using wheat flour. That’s something I’ve never worked with before. I was a little worried. I’m not a big fan a wheat bread, so I thought the taste would be similar, and I wasnt really down with that. It didn’t taste similar at all! It was really subtle. The texture was a little grainy, like a good wheat bread should be.

The sauce I made from scratch. I noticed that canned tomatoes have a lot of sodium in them, so I used fresh Roma tomatoes instead. Aside from the sauce being too orange, it came out very good. I stewed the tomatoes with some onions and peppers. Once the veggies were soft, I let them cool down for a bit, then blitzed them with my immersion blender. I then simmered the sauce with some herbs and spices.

Now for the pizza construction! I used mostly low-fat ricotta cheese. I chose that cheese, again, for low sodium content. I did put a little sprinkle of mozzarella to fill in the gaps. For the toppings I used peppers, onions, mushrooms, and zucchini. Luckily with pizza you can just about put anything on it. This combo was very tasty, and again, very healthy.

Overall, pizza sunday was very tasty. This is something I’m looking forward to playing with in the future. Different doughs… different toppings… Skies the limit. Just don’t tell my GF… they probably all won’t be healthy!

 

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2011 in Pizza

 

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I’ve got a golden nugget.

Ladies and Gentlemen… I bring on to thee…

Chicken-fried, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy!!

Just let that marinate in your mind for a bit.

Okay. Welcome back.

I don’t know if I just thought of this out of the blue one day, or saw it on t.v., but this is one of the best things that has come out of my kitchen.

It’s very simple to make. Unfortunately, I’m not gonna tell you my technique. Sorry, but somethings are meant to be a secret.

I will say, the base of this goodness is easy to do. Just make mashed potatoes, and gravy like you normally would. The frying part is up to you to figure out. I had to. Good luck! 😉

I used chicken stock for my gravy, but you could easily make this vegetarian by using veggie stock. Not only is this treat tasty, but it’s also a conversation starter. There is nothing like watching the look on people’s faces when they bite into this nugget of pure, savory, scrump-didily-umptious-ness!

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2011 in Appetizers

 

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It’s my party, and I’ll fry if I want to.

My birthday was on monday, and instead of receiving, I gave. I decided to make some delicious, fried appetizers for my dinner guests, which included; my girlfriend Elena, my sister Heather, Heather’s boyfriend Roque, and my friend Jay.

I happen to believe my apartment lies in the middle of some vortex, where a batter does not stick to anything you want to fry. I started us all out with crab cakes, and beer battered shrimp.

Unfortunately, the batter did not stick to the shrimp. It was tasty, too. Made with Old Bay seasoning, and Pabst. What a waste. The flavor, surprisingly, stayed with the shrimp. Another crazy mystery of my kitchen.

The crab cakes were a topic of discussion. I used canned crab, which everyone agreed, led to a lack of crab flavor. I completely agree. I’m not a Rockefeller, so I couldn’t afford fresh crab meat.

I added bread crumbs, and a flavorful “mayonnaise” to the meat. As a group, they said the cakes alone were just okay. When they tried them with the tartar sauce I made, they really enjoyed the combo. The tartar sauce had capers, mayo, mustard, Old Bay, pickles, and other seasonings. The only complaint came from my sister, who didn’t like the size of the pickles. Sorry for my lack of knife skills. 🙂

As a finale, we had buffalo chicken tenders, with blue cheese dressing.

This was a big hit. The flavor was delightful in the chicken. I battered it with flour, and butter milk, seasoned with…well I can’t tell you that. The dressing was well received. I thought there was something off about it, but everyone disagreed. Thankfully!

Roque had nothing but oodles of praise. I take that as a great compliment. Whenever I ask him if he likes something I make him, he usually just says, “n’yup”.

I feel this was a happy birthday. I spent time with friends, and family. I made some food that I get to improve on, thanks to the feedback. Getting older doesn’t always suck.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2011 in Appetizers

 

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Shelby comin’ round the mountain…

My first friend post!

Shelby made mac n’ cheese. A family favorite that ANYONE can agree is good no matter how it’s made.

I’ve known Shelby for half my life, but never knew she had culinary skills. She made this dish exactly how I love it. She started out by cooking the pasta. She then made a sauce using American cheese. Not too many people use American cheese, and I HIGHLY salute her for it. She combined the pasta, and sauce in a caserole dish, topped it with cracker crumbs, and cheddar cheese, and baked it. Here it is!

She told me the recipe called for Ritz crackers. She used Saltines. I think that was a smart move. The Saltines, I’m sure, added an extra bit of seasoning; an important step that we sometimes forget.

I’m told the result was AMAZING! Her son, Tony, and her boyfriend, Jose, almost ate it all up before she got to try it herself. Hopefully next time she’ll double the recipe… and save some for me!

Thanks, Shelby!

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2011 in Friend food

 

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Feelin’ Fancy n’ Fresno

I know what you’re thinking: Does this guy make anything other than risotto? Well, let me explain.

My girlfriend’s family was in town this week. Like a good woman, she talked-up my risotto-making skills. Her sister, Andrea, is a vegetarian, so anything with animal stock was off the table. I decided corn risotto was the way to go since I hadn’t made it in a long time. Now, what to serve with it?!

The vegetarian eats fish, which was a relief because white fish pairs great with corn. I brought up scallops but Andrea’s husband, Darrin, said he had scallops once and they were rubbery and gross. I then got to thinking: What other types of fish could I make with this dish?

I was on the fence about swordfish and not a whole lot else was coming to mind. Then it suddenly hit me! I am going to make this couple love scallops as I do with the help of my awesome, ninja-like, culinary talents … but just to be safe, I got a salmon fillet as a plan B.

In the end, everyone ended up loving the food. If you’ve never had a scallop, scallops taste as if a crab and a shrimp got together and had a mixed, ocean-life baby; to top it off, the corn sauce I made gave the scallops a little sommin’, sommin’.

By the end of the evening, I had turned all dinner party members into über scallop fans AND I even got an invitation to Indiana to cook for my new scallop-loving friends. Long story short: the power of seafood is god-like!

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Entree

 

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Vacuumed chicken?

I have never done this technique with anything before, but this is the ONLY way to make chicken much better. I vacuum sealed the chicken breast with salt, pepper, herbs, and a little olive oil.

I marinated it overnight to let everything get acquainted. I then simmered the chicken in the bag for about fifteen minutes. That will cook the chicken through without making it dry. When it was time to eat, I browned the breast in a pan with more herbs, and finished it in the oven to heat through. The result was a terrific surprise!

The chicken was succulent. The herbs were very present in the taste and aroma. To accompany the beautiful bird, I made a spectacular chicken jus. The jus consisted of onion, carrot, celery, white wine, chicken stock, and a plethora of herbs, including allspice berries and bay leaves.

If that wasn’t enough of a mouth-gasm, I made mushroom risotto (my specialty) and sautéed swiss chard. All the flavors worked excellent together. Savory from the chicken … earthy from the mushrooms … a little sweetness from the swiss chard…

A surprisingly light dish that speaks volumes in taste!

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Entree

 

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Amo la colazione!

For those of you who don’t speak Italian, that means, “I love breakfast!” (I had to Google it.)

So, I decided to combine one of my favorite cuisines with my all-time favorite meal of the day. I give you… eggs benedict, Italian style!

I fell in love with polenta’s deliciousness and versatility about three years ago. I discovered that you can put just about anything in it, and it makes it taste AMAZING.

In my dish, I had a pan-seared polenta cake topped with a smear of roasted garlic and crispy prosciutto. On top of that, rested the ever-glorious, ever-necessary poached egg. I finished it off with a dollop of pesto.

This dish was a symphony of flavors and textures, that I can assure you, would please anyone! The polenta was nice and creamy on the inside, and the undertone of the garlic played well with the “sauce” created by combining the yolk of the egg with the pesto.

Don’t forget the prosciutto — a salty, crispy treat that adds more texture, and a savory note, to the whole dish.

Overall verdict: FUGGETABOUTIT! This dish was easy and fun to prepare, and more importantly, not expensive. If you want to have a new brunch experience, I highly recommend giving this a try.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Breakfast

 

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