Saturday, November 10, 2012

Show Stoppin' Blue Cheese, Prosciutto, Apricot and Arugula Pizza

This pizza is unbelievable! I was reminded of its glory yesterday when my bestie called to get the ingredients for it. She is a little bit of a weinie with food. Her husband often gets mad at her because when he tries to get her to eat something a little more "exotic" and she refuses, he says, "Ugh, I know that you would eat it if Kristi offered it to you."

This pizza is one of these dishes. It sounds like something that you wouldn't want to eat, then you eat it, you can't stop sighing while eating it and then it becomes your go-to "fancy dinner for friends" meal.

I like to let my dough rise at least a few hours in advance, overnight is even better[I used my go-to recipe It yields enough for about 3, thin-crust 12 inch pizzas and is probably a little over a pound of dough], heat up my pizza stone and pound out 2-3 of these pizzas and let my guests, and myself, grab a slice from each pizza as they come out of the oven.

Blue Cheese, Prosciutto, Apricot and Arugula Pizza
*Yields 2, 12 inch pizzas 
1 lb. of room temperature pizza dough
6 T of apricot preserves
4 oz. of crumbled blue cheese
Approximately 10 slices of thinly sliced prosciutto [more or less is fine, cooked bacon crumbles would be delicious too], roughly chopped
2 heaping handfuls of baby arugula

Preheat the oven, and pizza stone if using, to 500 degrees.

Divide the dough in two and roll out each section of dough into a rough circle...rustic pizza shapes are just fine!

I have a cool pizza peel, so I assembled my pizzas one at a time on the peel, sprinkling a little bit of cornmeal on the peel before placing the dough on top to aid the pizza sliding off of the peel onto the pizza stone.

Spread half of the apricot preserves on each pizza.

 Sprinkle half of the blue cheese crumbles over the thin layer of apricot preserves.  Don't worry, the cheese layer will look very scant but it melts into a beautiful "sauce" with the preserves.

Place your pizza on the pizza stone and cook just until the cheese had melted, approximately 4-5 minutes. After the cheese has slightly melted, sprinkle the chopped prosciutto on the pizza and let cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven, sprinkle with a handful of arugula, slice and enjoy while hot!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Roasted Brussel Sprout and Lemon Chicken Spaghetti

This year, we decided to spice up our gardening lives a little bit and try our hand at growing brussel sprouts. We bought seedlings, I get nervous to try to grow anything but squash from seed. The brussel sprout plants got giant and held up through multiple frosts. Earlier this week, I decided to harvest my sprouts. 

The stalks were as thick and sturdy as branches, so I ended up pulling up the entire plants and hauling them over to my patio table. The leaves at the base of the plant had fallen off but I still had to pluck a ton of large leaves and carefully whittle off each little sprout. 

This was the carnage:
And this was the end result, which was only toppled over three times by my toddler:
Then came dinner time! I knew that I was going to use my laboriously gathered brussel sprouts but wasn't sure what would go well with them.

I searched high and low throughout my produce bowl, pantry, fridge and freezer and found some staples: garlic, parmesan cheese and whole wheat noodles. Luckily, I also discovered a couple boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the freezer, a lemon and half a bunch of fresh parsley. 

I had everything I needed to make one of my go-to pantry busting pasta dishes. I frequently make a quick lemon and herb pasta with whatever green vegetable I have in the fridge tossed in. Cook whatever pasta you want. Throw in fresh spinach or frozen peas or broccoli [throw the broccoli in with the pasta for the last few minutes]. While the pasta and cooked veggies are draining, I use the same pot and melt a little butter or olive oil. I add in lemon juice, salt, pepper, lots of garlic and fresh parsley. Add the pasta and veggies back with the addition of some parmesan cheese. Toss and eat!

I personally believe that it is a crime to eat unroasted brussel sprouts. The roasting caramelizes and chars them perfectly and gets rid of a lot of their bitterness. I jazzed up one of my fave pasta dishes by roasting my veggies first and adding some marinated and sauteed chicken [the marinade was made with all the flavors that would make my pasta sauce].

Roasted Brussel Sprout and Lemon Chicken Spaghetti
For the chicken and marinade:
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper and garlic powder
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 T olive oil
1 T chopped fresh parsley
For the roasted brussel sprouts:
3 T olive oil
1 lb of cleaned brussel sprouts
1 t each of salt, pepper and garlic powder
For the pasta:
10 oz or 3/4 pack of whole wheat spaghetti noodles
1 T butter
1 T chopped parsley
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/3 cup of grated/ shredded parmesan cheese 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place the chicken thighs in a small mixing bowl. Top with the marinade ingredients and toss to thoroughly coat the chicken. Cover with Saran Wrap and refrigerate for a half hour before cooking.
While the chicken is marinating, place the brussel sprouts on a baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over the sprouts and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Toss to thoroughly coat each sprout.

Roast the sprouts in the 425 degree oven until slightly browned around the edges, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
While the sprouts are roasting, bring the pasta water to a boil and cook the spaghetti.

After the chicken has marinated, place the thighs and marinade in a frying pan over medium heat and sautee the chicken, covered, for about 7 minutes a side.

Once the chicken has cooked, remove the chicken thighs from the pan, place in a bowl, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for about 5 minutes before slicing. Leave the juices from the chicken in the pan...this will contribute towards your delicious sauce!

While the chicken is resting, add the butter, additional parsley, garlic and lemon juice to the pan that the chicken cooked in. Warm the mixture slightly over low heat. 

Once the chicken has rested, chop it into bite size pieces. Add the chicken, any juice that came out while the chicken was resting, the sauce, brussel sprouts, drained pasta and parmesan cheese to the pot that the pasta cooked in and toss to combine.