30 September 2010

Double Take: Stuffed Peppers

My laptop has been having a hard time. You see, I got in the fall of 2004, and it is now the fall of 2010. I got it in North Carolina, but it has also traveled halfway across the country to Oklahoma twice, countless times to Georgia, and well, it made the move to Germany a year ago. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve knocked it, how many times my dear cat, Lorelai, decided to take a nap on the keyboard, or, for that matter, how many times I dropped it. The biggest drop came during the time I was writing my Master’s thesis, and it hasn’t shut properly since (luckily, my thesis was not destroyed during the drop). Though I have a nice sturdy laptop, it’s obviously on its last leg. My laptop will be replaced by a netbook in just over a month, but in the meantime you’ll have to bear with me as my old laptop slowly becomes a large paperweight.

23 September 2010

Double Take: Skillet Creamed Corn

Corn, glorious corn!

The picture in the book for this recipe looked divine. Despite my dislike of creamed corn as a child, I decided I was going to try this one anyway (I only liked corn on the cob. I could watch my grandmother cut it off the cob and still wouldn’t eat it because it was no longer on the cob… what can I say? I’ve always been particular.) So I was taking a big leap when I picked this recipe. Hubby and I both adore fresh corn, so I was quite appalled when all I found last fall was corn in a package. That’s right, no silk, no husk, and it had been preserved and vacuum packed. Bleck. (Or so I assume… I’ve never tried it.) Around the end of June, when my cousin was talking about his 140 ears that he just picked from his garden, I was green with envy. I started looking everywhere for fresh corn and much to my dismay, found nothing. Finally, during a World Cup game, I pleaded my case to a local and discovered that I would not be able to find fresh corn. Hubby and I were both devastated.

16 September 2010

Double Take: Loaded Garlic Smashed Potatoes

This recipe has been on the back burner for quite some time. Tabitha wanted to make it back in the day, but that was before red potatoes were in season and I was unwilling to make changes to the recipe. Well, I’ve loosened up a bit and red potatoes came into season, and we decided it was time to make this recipe. And boy, am I glad I did.

I have always been a huge mashed potato fan. I can now make them in a way that hubby will eat them, but he never goes back for seconds. Me on the other hand, I generally go back for thirds, which probably isn’t the healthiest thing in the world for me. I even tried preparing Momma’s Holiday Mashed Potato Casserole for Hubby, but he still didn’t go back for seconds. I didn’t see how this recipe would be any different, but decided to make it anyway since we both love garlic and bacon. I failed to mention to Hubby that this recipe contained sour cream, and just served it up as potatoes. He went back for seconds. Twice.

09 September 2010

Double Take: Ham-and-Cheese Omelets

I picked out this recipe for one simple reason: I wanted something other than bacon and eggs for breakfast on Saturday mornings. Apparently, I was more than willing to replace bacon and eggs with ham and eggs.

I went to gather the ingredients. After looking through the list, I knew locating havarti cheese might be problematic. That is one is difficult to find around here, and I’ve never seen it in block form. However, we do have butter cheese here and the cookbook described havarti as buttery, so I decided that would be a simple sub. But when I got to the store, I actually found havarti. I was so excited to find it that I didn’t look at the package closely or check the expiration date. Oops.

I set out my ingredients the next morning. Our plans for canoeing that day had been cancelled because the river was so high, so we opted to go visit the castles we would have looked at from the river instead. It was raining when we got moving that morning, so it looked like we wouldn’t even get to go hiking either. I gathered my ingredients that morning and decided first things first: grate the cheese. The swiss grated, I turned to the havarti. I opened the package and was hit with a foul smell. I closely inspected the cheese: it was slimy. Into the trash went the havarti. Swiss only it was.

02 September 2010

Double Take: Bistro Grilled Chicken Pizza (sort of)

Don't have access to hot Italian sausage? Make your own! Instead of grinding it myself, I buy it pre-ground and just add my seasonings. 

I miss Americanized pizza. Hubby misses Americanized pizza. Delivery pizza is just not the same here. The crust is blah. It make the normal delivery pizza companies in the US taste outstanding. There are a few Italian pizza places in town, and they have great pizza, but it's not Americanized... it's Italian. Which is all well and good, but I've grown accustomed to lots of topping, a choice between thick, thin, and pan crust, and lots of cheese, and that's not traditional Italian. So when I order from a delivery pizza place in town, I generally order Indian food (yes, you read that correctly, most of the delivery joints deliver pizza and Indian food... and beer and wine). And Hubby has given up on ordering from the delivery places.

So when I noticed this week's challenge, I was a little nervous. I've only made pizza once before, and Hubby wasn't around for that. On top of that, he eats at the local Italian place quite frequently since it's so close to his work and has free wi-fi, which means he can work and eat lunch at the same time (such discipline, I would spend the whole time surfing the net instead of working). So, I was nervous about making pizza for him. So much so that I didn't tell him that I was making it until about an hour before I got home from work. I mentioned that the recipe called for chicken, but he asked for bell peppers and Italian sausage instead. I obliged.

If you'll notice, the subtitle of this blog is Bistro Grilled Chicken Pizza (sort of), but I didn't use my grill or chicken. The broiler function here is called the grill function instead, so I took that as license to use my broiler instead of making Hubby get out and light up our tiny charcoal grill that the pizza dough probably wouldn't fit on. Since Hubby doesn't like chicken on pizza (and frankly there is only one chicken pizza I really like and it's only available at the Domino's in the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center), I begged Tabs to let me change up the recipe a bit. Considering I've always been the stickler for sticking to the recipe, I knew it'd be fine. And that's how my Bistro Grilled Chicken Pizza turned into Semi-Homemade* Broiled Italian Sausage Pizza (2 ways).
Hubby's pizza ready to go back in the oven for the final broil.

Semi-Homemade Broiled Italian Sausage Pizza (2 ways)
(heavily adapted from the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, original recipe here)

2 containers refrigerated pizza crust
2 tsp olive oil
2 (14 ounce) cans hot pizza sauce, gently warmed on the stove
10 ounces hot Italian sausage, castings removed, browned and drained (see photo note above)
1/2 green bell pepper, thin sliced
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 small onion, sliced into half rings, submerged in water and chilled at least 30 minutes
1 pound shredded mozzarella
12 fresh basil leaves
yield: 2 pizzas

Preheat oven on high heat (as high as it will go), positioning rack in the middle of the oven.

Unroll one crust and brush evenly with 1 tsp olive oil. Invert dough directly onto cooking rack, peel off the baking paper it came on, and broil using top heating element only 3 to 4 minutes or until the top of the dough is browned. Turn dough over (I used two sets of tongs for this step) and broil 2-3 minutes or until top is set. Carefully remove crust from rack to an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.

Spread half of the sauce evenly over crust; sprinkle evenly with 8 ounces of mozzarella. Sprinkle with 7 ounces crumbled Italian sausage and the bell pepper. Return to hot oven and broil 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly brown on top.

While the first pizza is on it's final broil, unroll the next crust and brush with remaining olive oil. When the first pizza is done, remove from oven to large cutting board and serve immediately. Repeat initial broiling process with the second crust.

Once the second crust is set and out of the oven, spread the rest of the sauce evenly over the dough. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese. Top with 3 ounces crumbled Italian sausage, the sliced onion (drained), sliced mushrooms, and fresh basil. Return to oven and broil 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted ans slightly brown on top. Serve immediately.

You might notice that the upper right corner of the pizza is... weird. I might have had trouble flipping it the first time because one of my sets of tongs focuses all the pressure on one point instead of spreading it out. Nicely, I had this issued worked out by the second pizza.

Hubby's pizza was gone before I pulled mine out of the oven. However, in the future, I'll use my own pizza crust and sauce because the crust available in the refrigerated section was absolutely tasteless. It made me yearn for Mellow Mushroom's springwater crust. So now I have to learn how to make pizza crust. Wish me luck! As far as the original recipe goes, I like the method and it translated easily to the oven. I've been waiting to get a pizza stone before I made pizza in the oven, but this method allows me to get a nice crispy crust without burning the cheese and other toppings. If you don't have a pizza stone, I highly recommend this method of mostly prebaking the crust directly on the cooking rack before adding the toppings.

Please-make-me-Americanized-pizza-again-but-with-better-crust-and-sauce: 1 vote
Yay-I-actually-got-to-eat-a-mushroom-and-onion-pizza: 1 vote

 For Tab's take on Bistro Grilled Chicken Pizza (sort of), head on over to Double the Garlic!

* Is it bistro because it uses store bought crust and sauce?

My favorite pizza: heavy on the mushrooms and onions, light on the Italian sausage

Do you have a great crust recipe? Please share! And what is your favorite pizza? Restaurant pizza? (Mine's the Magical Mystery Tour from Mellow Mushrooms with added onions)
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