Bloomin’ Pizza

I have a bad habit of claiming every food which graces my lips is I seriously say it like twice a week.

And every time it’s true.

So you know what that means… You must stop whatever you’re doing right this second and make this recipe!

I don’t care if you’re in the middle of a dungeon, driving, or having sessytimes (which, btw if you’re doing that and reading this a) I’m flattered, and b) you’d better get back to work!) YOU MUST MAKE THIS PRONTO.

What is “this”? Well you know that infamous appetizer consisting of a partially segmented, deep fried onion?

Imagine that in pizza form.

Oh yea. We went there.


Bloomin’ Pizza Bread (adapted from Christy over at The Girl Who Ate Everything )

1 loaf of good, solid bread
Black olives
16oz mozzarella, cubed
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4 tsp oregano flakes
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

First off, you’ll need a loaf of good bread. Something with a backbone – Wonderbread ain’t gonna cut it here. Why something so sturdy? Because you’ll need to slice it into cubes, without actually slicing it into cubes. Cryptic, I know. We used some artisan garlic bread from our local grocer. It’s rustic. It’s crunchy. It’s garlic-y. AMAZING.

Start by slicing the loaf length-wise, then cross-wise. Think Bloomin’ Onion-style. If you accidentally slice through, don’t worry… the cheese will cover it all up :)

Next, take about half the cubed mozzarella and stick it in between the bread cube-slices you just made.

Slice stacks of the pepperoni into quarters and sprinkle it over the bread. Chop up the black olives, and top the pepperoni with that.

Next, stack the remaining mozzarella cubes atop the topping-adorned loaf. This is where those mad Jenga skills come in handy (and you thought there wasn’t a practical application for that game!)

Sprinkle with salt and pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and oregano, and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is melty and bubbly.

NOM. You can make this your own by using your favorite toppings. Next time we’re tote’s going to pesto-it-up!




ScratchThat: Drunken Cranberry Sauce

I don’t know what it is about the cranberry-orange flavor combo that keeps me coming back.

I don’t particularly like oranges. I don’t L.O.V.E cranberries. But when the two get together I just can’t get enough.

And when you add some liquor to the mix, woah baby here I come!

Drunken Cranberry Sauce:
2 cups whole, fresh cranberries
2 cups granulate sugar
1/4 cup Grand Marnier

In a medium sauce pot, heat cranberries and sugar over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Most of the berries should burst on their own, but others may need help so don’t be afraid to smash away (let out the aggression!). Add in Grand Marnier and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Place in an oven-safe bowl and let it chill, uncovered, in the fridge for a few hours. If you don’t like your sauce cold, just let it come to room temperature a few hours before serving.



ScratchThat: Pumpkin Pie

Last week my anti-cooking friend E announced she was making a pumpkin pie from scratch for Thanksgiving. After LOLing for a solid minute, she explained to me that it was her daughter who actually wanted to make the pie, so E was going to help her not burn the house down. All she needed was my recipe (and a fire extinguisher).

Sadly I had to confess I’d never made a pumpkin pie from scratch, but swore I’d find one for her.

And ever since then I’ve spent every night up to my elbows in pumpkin puree tweaking measurements, perfecting this orange wonder.

And is it ever wonderful.

Disclaimer: This isn’t the most involved pie I’ve ever made, but it’s pretty high on the list. If you’re really in a hurry, just grab a can of pumpkin pie and be done with it. Hell, you might want to do that ANYWAYS just in case this pie fails. You never know…

Pumpkin Pie:
1 pie or sugar pumpkin
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups whipping cream (liquid… not the stuff in the can)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 or 9 inch prepared uncooked pie crust (premade from the freezer section or from scratch)

Pie pumpkins. They’re not jack-o-lanterns. They’re not squash. They’re those little pumpkins next to the squash which are too small to carve, but too big to bounce. Stater Brothers has them. I’d assume Ralphs and Vons does too. Ask someone in the produce section if you can’t find one yourself. If you really REALLY can’t find one… just get a can of pumpkin.

Wash your pie pumpkin to get any dirt off. Dry, stem & quarter it. Tip: Use a serrated knife! Power saws are a lot faster. Task your hubby with cutting the pumpkin if you’re concerned about losing a finger. Note: The smaller you segment the pumpkin, the faster it will cook and easier it will be to peel the skin off.

Gut the pumpkin seeds and stringy insides and toss, or save if you want to make toasted pumpkin seeds.

Place the pumpkin pieces skin-down in a shallow baking dish with half an inch of water. Cover with a dish towel and pop in the microwave for 20 minutes. If your microwave doesn’t have a rotating plate, make sure you rotate the baking dish half-way through cooking time (that’s like at 10 minutes).

Remove the baking dish from the microwave and let come to room temperature before peeling the skin off.

Place the pumpkin meat in a blender and puree until smooth. This can take some time depending on your blender. Don’t be afraid to stick a spoon in there (while the blender is OFF) and swish the pumpkin around until it’s completely smooth. It’s going to look like baby food at this point.

Here you have a couple options. A: Continue on with the recipe. B. Strain the pumpkin through some cheesecloth to get the extra liquid out. A is quicker, B prevents your pie from becoming too soupy. Pumpkin in a can already has the extra liquid removed. If you’re going to strain your fresh pumpkin puree, place a double-layer of cheesecloth over a Tupperware container and place the puree in the cheesecloth. Leave an inch of space between the bottom of the container and the bottom of your pumpkin-filled hammock. Refrigerate overnight and in the morning you’ll have pumpkin and pumpkin liquid! Discard the liquid and continue on with the next step.

Preheat your oven to 375F, arranging racks so your oven space is cut into thirds.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until combined. Add in spices and salt. Add in pumpkin and cream, mixing until no streaks of white remain. Pour pumpkin mixture in prepared pie crust. Place uncooked pie on a baking sheet and place in oven. Remember when I told you to arrange your racks? Place the baking sheet + pie on the topmost rack if your oven’s heating element comes from the bottom. Place the baking sheet + pie on the bottommost rack if your oven’s heating element comes from the top! See, there’s a method to the madness ;)

Why are there terracotta tiles in our oven? To keep the temperature constant! They absorb the heat of your oven so while it cycles on and off to keep its heat constant, the tiles make up for the cyclic difference. BAM.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pie comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature before enjoying!



Earl Grey Tea Cookies

These aren’t your granny’s tea cookies…

Or maybe they are.

Maybe your nanna was a wild-child.

Maybe your me-ma was into the good stuff.

If she was, she’d totally approve of these cookies. Why?

Because they’re made FROM tea leafs and infused with LIQUOR.

I know what you’re thinking, but before you give me the fish-eye, just hear me out.

My family LOVES rum balls. You know, those silly little balls of powdered sugar and dark rum and other stuff I couldn’t give two-shakes about? Yea. I hated those. And I would have written it in caps if I hadn’t already typed “with”, “liquor”, and “loves”. Gotta keep the caps positive today!

Anyways, back to rum balls. Disgusting. So gross that I’d avoid any cookie that came anywhere near a rum ball. Ew. Bleh.

And then I grew up.

I still can’t understand the appeal of a rum ball, but I can see the logic in liquoring-up your cookies. It’s genius!

It combines both “just one more” situations and everyone knows two negatives make a positive, right? TA-DA! Free pass to eat as many of these cookies as you can fit in your belly.

Just don’t pass out early. No one likes a chick who can’t hold her liquor!


Earl Grey Tea Cookies – Adapted from Martha Stewart

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves (from about 4 bags)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier + 2 tablespoons melted butter

Using an electric spice or coffee grinder, pulse tea leafs until finely ground.

Whisk flour, tea, and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture until no streaks of butter remain.

Shape dough into a log. Roll in plastic wrap to ~1 1/2 inches in diameter and wrap tightly to seal. Transfer to fridge and chill overnight (or up to 2 weeks!). In a hurry? Pop the log into the freezer until firm, about 1 hour. Want to know a secret to keeping the rough from developing a flat side while it rests? Use a wooden rolling pin stand or cut open an empty paper towel roll and fit it around the log!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Want to be fancy? Get out a small cookie cutter and cut the slices into fun shapes!

Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment.

Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

As the cookies cool, brush with a mixture of butter and Grand Marnier or your favorite orange-flavored liquor.


Manlyman Chili

GamerMan’s dad was in town this weekend, so we partied it up family-style. One of the best things about having 3 men to feed is getting to cook insane amounts of meat.

We probably ate an entire baby cow’s worth of beef this weekend – no lie.

And it was delicious.



Manlyman Chili  – adapted from Mark
2-3 tabespoons olive oil
1 white onion, diced
1 pasilla chile, diced
1 yellow chile, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3lbs beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/2-1″ cubes
4 chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce, diced
1 29oz can tomato puree
1 32oz box beef broth
salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
2 tablespoons masa harina
1 tablespoon water

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Toss in onion, pasilla, and yellow pepper and saute until the onion is translucent and the peppers have softened. Add in the garlic and saute for a minute or two – just until fragrant.

Add in the cubed beef, turning to brown on all sides. The meat will release its juices after a minute or two – cook this down for about 10 minutes and you’ll be rewarded with an amazing caramel flavor which helps cut the heat later.

Once the meat has browned, toss in the chipotle peppers and a tablespoon or so of the adobo sauce it came canned in. Stir to combine and heat through. Add in the tomato puree, beef broth, and spices. Bring to a boil with the lid off, then turn to low and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

If you like your chili soupy, stop now and DEVOUR!

If you like your chili thick, in a small bowl combine masa and water and mix until a thick paste forms. Stir this paste into the chili. Turn the heat up to medium (it’ll help cook off the extra liquid the masa-mix doesn’t take care of) and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes, again depending on your consistency preference. Plate and DEVOUR!

PS. More on those BACON CORNBREAD MUFFINS later ;)



Chicken Pesto Penne

We’re eagerly awaiting November 11th for oodles of reasons.

GamerMan is excited because Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be released.

GamerGirl is excited because it clocks us in at 364 days from the superfun GamerWedding!!!

Since there is literally nothing else on either of our respective brains except for that stuff up there, we’ve been eating a lot or re-runs. Yes… re-runs. They’re exactly what you’re thinking they are, too: food which we’ve eaten before, but when ingested a second time seems different, leading us to a magically nostalgic place where Butterfree and Pwnies dance together.

Well… maybe not that magical (we don’t have those kind of hookups here), but they’re certainly every bit as delicious as they were the first time around!

Chicken Pesto Penne

2 cups penne, dry

2 chicken breasts

1 tablespoon pesto

salt + pepper + herbs d’provence

olive oil

1 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup paramesean; freshly grated + some for garnish

Cook the penne to aldente (that’s like a minute or two LESS than it instructs you on the box) drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil (two rounds should do it) in a skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes on each side. After flipping the chicken once, dash on some herbs d’provence. If you don’t like it, don’t use it. If you don’t have it, it’s not the end of the world – it just adds some depth to the final flavor. Flip the chicken once more, turn the heat to high and cook for an additional 2 minutes per side to get some of that carameley goodness going. Turn off the heat, remove the chicken from the skillet, and let it relax on the cutting board for a few minutes.

Return the skillet to the heat – this time to medium – if there’s any extra oil in the pan, tilt to the side and mop it up with a paper towel. Add the drained penne and chicken broth to the skillet, scraping up the caramelized goodies stuck to the bottom. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Back at your cutting board, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. Toss into the skillet, along with pesto and shredded parm. Toss/stir to distribute and return to a simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Plate, top with additional parm, and enjoy!