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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Pizza Super Bowl Style

The big game is just days away, and I'd be lying if i said i was super excited.  Can you blame me?  Nearly four solid hours of football. Boring! My only solace is the incredible commercials, snacks galore and seeing my friends enjoying themselves. Now, I may not be the biggest sports lover or expert, but I do pride myself on being somewhat a master of party-throwing… so you can be sure that a Super Bowl fete is no exception. Since nothing says ‘Super Bowl  party‘ quite like snacks, pizza and apps, (and buffalo chicken is always desired) i kick off super bowl '13 with this buffalo chicken pizza. Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

3/4 pound breaded chicken fingers
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 pizza dough, store bought or from your favorite pizzeria (or your own)
Cornmeal or flour, to handle dough
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
2 to 3 tablespoons hot sauce, medium to spicy heat
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, a few generous handfuls
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
Cook chicken according to package directions.
Stretch dough to form pizza using cornmeal or flour to help you handle it. If you let it rest and warm up a few minutes it will handle even easier. Set pizza on pizza pan to the side and clean board.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter and stir in Worcestershire, hot sauce, and tomato sauce.
Remove the chicken from oven and thinly slice it. Add chicken to sauce and coat. Cover the pizza dough with the saucy Buffalo chicken, cheeses, and scallions. Bake 18 minutes or until crisp.

• photo and recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

Monday, January 21, 2013

Guacamole Kickoff

Are any of you beginning to see signs of super bowl madness around you yet? Since we’re closing in on the big kickoff, I thought it was the perfect time to tackle a simple and healthy appetizer for your Super Bowl festivities that even the most "macho" of men will love.
Lets face it, game time is all about snacks galore. There are a few guest though, that would like to have a healthy choice. Healthy choice and super bowl an oxymoron for sure, but hey who am i to judge. That is why i always have some healthy options to offer guests, and this guacamole has always been a favorite of mine.
While traditionally guac is associated with bad mexican restaurants and oily food, (far from healthy) guac in its self is full of vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate and copper. Guacamole is also high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as lutein, which is important for eye health. Additional nutrients include vitamin A, niacin and magnesium.
So treat the macho men and your guest to a healthy but yummy snack. And remember healthy and football need not be an oxymoron. Enjoy!

3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

* Recipe adapted from Alton Brown, Photo from Foodnetwork

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Arrabiata is ssssspicy!

You know those nights when you’re starving and want something simple and yummy… but don’t feel like going to the grocery store or cooking for hours?  My answer, Arrabiata. A spicy Italian pasta sauce. Characterized by the use of simple, but fresh, ingredients. Since the word Arrabiata mean "Angry" in Italian (and we are referring to a red sauce,) it goes with out saying that the sauce always features tomatoes and hot chili peppers, either fresh of dried. 

You can use this basic recipe and change it up however you like: different herbs, different citrus fruits, different seasonings. You can even have a different attitude and see how that affects the flavor of the plate!

Just kidding. But what you can change is what you wear each time. Choo's and Arrabiata; now that's a fun combination!

Spaghetti Arrabiata
Yield: 4 servings

1-2 tbsp. extra- virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
1 tbsp crushed dried red pepper flakes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 28-oz. can pureed tomatoes
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp oregano dried
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
1 lb. dry spaghetti pasta (or linguine)

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add garlic, and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened and slightly browned.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti for 6-8 minutes until al dente.
Add red pepper flakes, oregano, a pinch of black pepper, then pour in the tomatoes.
Drizzle lightly with additional olive oil, stir, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes; add chopped basil towards the very end of cooking time.
Drain the spaghetti, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta water.
Transfer the pasta to the tomatoes, only adding pasta water to thin the sauce as needed.
Drizzle with olive oil as desired.
Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the pasta holds the sauce.
Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil to finish.

Tricks for easy pasta: 

The water needs to taste like the sea when boiling because dry pasta is not seasoned. Boil dry pasta for less time than the box directions since you will finish the pasta off in the sauce.

Arrabiata is a great, spicy base to make other sauces. A simple addition of capers, peppers and tuna you can make a simple puttanesca sauce, or adding some mushrooms, onions and olives makes an easy cacciatore. Add a touch of cream for a great, easy pink sauce.