Twerking. I mean, tweaking… recipes that is.

Not much has happened this week that is blog-post worthy … I mean, I made a phenomenal pizza which I’ll absolutely share with you – all credit goes to Ree Drummond.  Since I’m cooking a lot of repeats of our favorite recipes I do try to make at least 1 thing new each week or tweak an oldie to make it a “newbie”.

Oldie made “newbie” – salsa chicken (chicken breasts, salsa, cheese)
The recipe calls for taco seasoning to be sprinkled on the chicken … well I used fajita seasoning – WAY BETTER! Not just any fajita seasoning, you know it had to be Bolner’s. Pour on the salsa as usual, but get a fun one … something with chunks of veggies in it, not just runny/cheap/generic salsa. Considering chicken and cheese is el-cheapo, splurge a few extra bucks on decent salsa … it adds to the texture as well.

What else did I make … (I need to consult my menu board, it’s been a LONG and CRAZY week).
Oh yeah – store prepared kabobs (beef wrapped in bacon and scallops wrapped in bacon … double turf & 1 surf, HA!)  As a side I made a Martha dish, cherry tomato and basil crisp (which turned out more like a crumble, but it was still good 😉 ) It might because I used whole wheat bread – maybe it doesn’t firm up as nicely as white. I was trying to make a healthy swap.

So I ‘cheated’ with something prepared but wanted the meal to feel homemade. Easy.
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Another simple creation, inspired by Martha but I put my own twist on it.  Originally it was supposed to be spinach penne and ricotta… well that’s not substantial for this house so I bought regular penne, added fresh spinach which I had leftover, and sliced Italian sausage. Oh man, now that’s a filling dish. I didn’t have any pine nuts but I sure did have almonds! Chop those babies up and sprinkle on top – great textures between the pasta, spinach, sausage, shredded parm, and soft ricotta.
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Okay, okay … the pizza!
My cheat: Bisquick mix for the dough! Sprinkle onion and garlic power in along the way, BOOM. So good.
Follow Ree’s recipe for the pizza toppings … it’s easy; really, really, really easy. Don’t cheat on the cheese, get what the recipe calls for – all of the different flavors are like an explosion and when you add the tomato/basil/balsamic vinegar mixture to the top – holy cow. It’s amazing!
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I added the cheese to a RAW Bisquick dough (shoot, don’t forget the pesto!!!) – let the dough turn golden brown and the cheese becomes ooey-gooey – 15-20 minutes (25-30 if you like crispy) … let it sit for the cheese to firm up just a bit (it’s easier to cut), add the tomatoes and life will be good in 3, 2, 1… YUM!

This was our first pizza on a pizza stone – BUY ONE. Just do it. Those pizza pans with holes are garbage. Lesson learned.

We’ve got pork chops and a grilled zucchini salad for tonight. Not just any pork chops, hitting up the old blue cheese and cranberries (I’m going to freeze it like a ‘steak butter’ and let it melt over the pork chop as I’m plating).

ENJOY!

 

 

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And this little tomato got burnt, burnt, burnt…

Did the creator of this recipe want me to burn the little tomatoes?

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The original recipe instructs you to bake grape tomatoes for 35 minutes at 425 degrees… um, bake them to a crisp? YUMMY! Word to the wise, when using internet recipes, always read the reviews left by people who have tried it already. Usually 1 review is actually helpful but in this case, each person was fooled by the cooking instructions, burning the tomatoes and shallots… people went on to say that they still ate it! Gross. Only hotdogs are allowed to be burnt via the grill. Oh my gosh crispy hot dogs are the best.  I digress, I kept the cooking temperature but only put the tomatoes and shallots in for 12 minutes – voila, perfect.

CONTINUE!
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Simple set up for tomato ravioli … 8 ingredients; takes maybe 30 minutes to prep & cook everything.  I swapped out ravioli for tortellini; it was a better value for the price.  Stuffed pasta is stuffed pasta; I don’t care if I offended you with that statement. You’ll forget all about it once you see this picture, who can resist a “kiss the cook” opportunity from Sous Chef Geno?

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While the tomatoes and shallots were baking I started boiling the tortellini.  Figuring, ‘why not?!’ when dumping all the contents into the water, not thinking about the small pot I decided to use…  SH*T! It’s boiling over.
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I let it go down and moved the pot to another burner… the crooked burner. The water spilled over again. CRAP! How difficult is this?!

**BEEP BEEP BEEP** No, that’s not me cursing, that’s the alarm on my phone telling me it’s been 12 minutes, ha. Yes, I use my phone as a timer because the oven timer doesn’t work nor does the microwave.  The plastic yellow pepper timer that I thought would be cute also stopped working after a few uses. Hey, there are two more things I can add to my “awesome kitchen” list.

I’m hungry, let’s eat. CRAP! I almost forgot about the balsamic vinegar, it’s ok though… only needed to drizzle some on the tomatoes and shallots after baking.  I don’t know what it is about balsamic vinegar, but it tastes so good when mixed with pasta. Now you can top the tortellini with the tomatoes and shallots, mix together. Plus make that 9 ingredients.

Here’s the finished product … take a look at our formal dining set up.  We sure are fancy folk, drinking out of gallon water jugs.  Seriously, you can take the boy out of the boonies but you can’t take the boonies out of the boy.  I on the other hand prefer to drink out of our sweet “Higby” glasses, wedding present courtesy of Danielle. Bark Busters bag is kept near by in case the sous chefs decide to sneak a peak at dinner.

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As another attempt to be fancy, I made wedge salads to go along with dinner.  Maybe it’s just me but I used to think wedge salads were amaze-balls… the bees-knees… only found at expensive steak houses.  HA! What was I EVER thinking? It’s stupid $1.00 ice burg lettuce that steak houses sucker you in to paying $4.00 for. Man, what a rip off! I guess the blonde hair is taking its toll.

Some of you may be wondering what Josh did while I was preparing dinner…
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HOLD THE PHONE. Jason Grilli is on the cover of S.I.