; Supermarket Serenade: April 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Extreme Bacon Cheese Pizza

I am not so old that I cannot remember fun and fabulous times on Spring Break in college. I can actually map out my life to date in a sort of "Spring Break" timeline:
  • Let's start with college...fun times in Ft. Lauderdale (yeah I know, I'm old- Ft. Lauderdale for Spring Break is so 80's)
  • Post graduation years...Spring Break morphed into summer weekends in the Hampton's in a house shared with 20 of my "closest friends".
  • Early married life...Spring Break was romantic weeks or weekends just for two-enjoying Robert Cray at Jazz Fest in New Orleans comes to mind.
  • The kids were young years...Spring breaks were spent usually in a place with costumed characters and eating at anyplace that served chicken nuggets.
  • The kids are getting older years...I've come almost full circle, we just returned from Spring Break and it was spent going on college visits for my oldest son who is a Junior this year.
I am pretty sure that I am a college marketers dream come true; I sat at every power point presentation mesmerized...drawn in...wishing I could choose college all over again. Don't get me wrong I love my alma mater (Fordham) and would probably choose it again given the choice (and would be thrilled if my son got in and chose it), but man...the presentations we saw this week...each one out did the next. I had to keep reminding my son (and myself) that they were in fact sales presentations. Oh and it didn't hurt that at one campus it was "Spring Fling" and the campus was bustling with activity-of course my 17 year old liked that school the best.

Our return from "Spring Break" has given me a real hankering for college foods so the kids and I made Extreme Bacon Cheese Pizzas which got an A+ from everyone.

Extreme Bacon Cheese Pizzas

5 slices bacon
1 prepared pizza crust divided into 4 equal pieces
1 cup prepared sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Arrange the bacon in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake the bacon in the preheated oven for 10 minutes; remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Stretch the dough pieces into 6x4 inch ovals and place on a baking pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Divide the sauce between each crust, spreading in an even layer.
Sprinkle each with the cheeses, evenly dividing. Crumble the bacon and divide between the pizzas arranging on top of the cheeses.
Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake pizzas in the oven for 12 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crusts are golden brown.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers and a Night at the Diner

I'll be honest, I'm not a big fan of Chinese food; I very rarely make anything remotely Asian in flavor. My husband on the other hand loves Chinese food so he was thrilled when he saw the plate of Chinese Chicken Salad that I placed before him.

Today is Barefoot Thursday, and for those not in the know it is a day which occurs two Thursdays a month and is a day when various food bloggers prepare a recipe from one of the Barefoot Contessa’s (a.k.a. Ina Garten) cookbooks. Today's recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad was selected by McKenzie of Kenzie's Kitchen.

This recipe could not have been easier and according to my husband, it couldn't have been more delicious. My kids unfortunately share my dislike of Chinese food would not touch it so last night became one of those nights I fondly refer to as "Diner Night"...a night when I am transformed into short order cook. I think I would do well working at a diner-I was able to get every one's dinners on the table (hot) at the same time-yeah, I know...amazing. For the kids it was Roasted Chicken Subs with Spinach and Jack cheese and for me it was a poached egg over roasted potatoes and asparagus (you'll notice I did incorporate ingredients from the salad into the other meals so that made it easier). Thanks in part to Jitterbuz.com here's how I think the whole dinner would sound in diner talk:
Three birds on bread-bring in Popeye and Jack it...One dead eye on a green raft...one chopstick bird salad with spears (OK that one's a reach...but they don't usually serve Chinese food at a diner). Moo juice all around.

Chinese Chicken Salad
Recipe by Ina Garten from Barefoot Contessa Parties!

4 split chicken breasts (bone-in skin-on)
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound asparagus, ends removed, and cut in thirds diagonally
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
2 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
For the dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breast on a sheet pan and rub with the skin with olive oil. sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large bite-sized pieces.

Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers in strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the cut chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mediterranean Pearls

Pasta is a dinner staple in most homes and ours is no exception-but don't you get tired of the same old penne and spaghetti? My favorite find this week is in fact a pasta but not your typical Italian variety...this one originated in of all places Israel.

Favorite Food Find Friday's find is...Mediterranean (a.k.a. Israeli) couscous!
These little pearl shaped grains are similar looking to barley, but they are actually made from a wheat based dough which is shaped into little balls and toasted-as opposed to dried as pastas usually are.

The large grains make an impressive presentation as the base for chicken or seafood or tossed with caramelized onions and blue cheese for a tasty beef side dish. Today I've made a Mediterranean style salad that couldn't be easier...you need "1" of everything in it. You'll notice there's no added oil-I found it just doesn't need it, but if you're planning on chilling it before you serve it you may want to add a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive just so the couscous doesn't clump together. Also I used a fresh mozzarella because one of my favorite supermarkets makes it fresh in the store and it's just fabulous, but you can substitute a feta or goat cheese if you prefer.

"One" Mediterranean Couscous Salad

1 (32 ounce) container chicken stock
1 cup Mediterranean (a.k.a. Israeli) Couscous
1 cup diced roasted red pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped arugula
1 cup diced fresh mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 lemon, thinly sliced then halved

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Stir in the couscous, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Drain couscous and transfer to a large bowl.
Stir the red pepper, arugula, mozzarella cheese, salt, pepper, garlic, pine nuts and lemon slices into the bowl with the couscous. Serve warm or chilled.
Yield: 4 servings