Spicy Chicken, Bacon & Avocado Pizza

Ever since I made pizza with yeasted potato crust it has become a staple in our meal rotation list. It seems like all it takes to come up with an amazing filling combo is just a little inspiration so the influence of flavors Brion and I tasted in Mexico became a natural choice for me.

Although avocado on pizza may sound weird, if you are a guacamole lover, its glorious. When you think about it, tomato or tomato sauce is a big part of pizza most of the time. Often guacamole is made with tomato, so it compliments pizza well. I used all the ingredients you would normally fit into a tortilla for toppings. Spicy chicken, bacon, avocado, onion, tomato, cheese and GUACAMOLE!

When I make guacamole for pizza, I like to keep it simple: mashed avocados, onion, garlic, lime juice, salt and cilantro. Another thing I found, was that any left over pieces can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and placed in a freezer bag and frozen. When you want to use them, thaw at room temperature then heat slightly in the microwave. Most often pizza is frozen unbaked and needs assembly and baking. This pizza tasted just as good as when it was freshly baked!

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Spicy Chicken, Bacon & Avocado Pizza
Instructions
Pizza Dough
  1. Cook potato, peel, mash & cool. Combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well.
  2. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a tea towel & allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Chicken Marinade
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine all ingredients. Seal & turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
Guacamole
  1. In a large bowl, coarsely mash avocados with lime juice & salt. Stir in garlic, onion & cilantro. Blend well. Cover & set aside until ready to use. You will have extra for something else.
Pizza Topping Prep
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until fairly crisp, drain on paper towels & chop coarsely. Wipe skillet with paper towel. Add marinated chicken, stir-fry until cooked then remove to a dish. Add peppers & onion to skillet; sauteing until tender crisp.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press dough into a 16-inch circle. Transfer with paper to a baking sheet.
  2. Using some grated cheese, make a ring around the outer edge of the dough. Roll dough once over cheese ring. Carefully spread the 1/2 cup of guacamole over the bottom of pizza, then sprinkle with a bit more cheese. Layer with avocado slices, onion, bacon, chicken, tomato & remaining cheese. If you prefer, brush to top of the outside ring with egg wash.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, Remove from oven & slice.
Recipe Notes
  • You may choose to prepare your marinated chicken & guacamole before you start making the dough.

Sausage, Pepper & Perogy Casserole

Perogy, pierogi, piroshky, pelmeni, paczki or whatever you choose to call them, they are basically all the same concept. Wrapping a filling with some kind of dough exists all around the world. Between these variations, however, are distinct foods from different countries making it nearly impossible to trace the base origin.

The one I remember from childhood, being of German heritage, was a dumpling filled with a slightly sweetened, dry cottage cheese. I think the dough might have been made from potatoes and flour. We just loved them, of course.

When it comes to Brion and I, we always favor the very basic potato and cheddar cheese filling.  This recipe is pure, unadulterated comfort food! As plain as it seems, the flavor is amazing. The contrast of the lightly browned perogies against the creamy sauce and spicy, Asiago/red pepper sausage is exceptional. I find there is no need to add any cream to the sauce when you use 100% pure mozzarella cheese. It gives the casserole exactly what it needs.


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Sausage, Pepper & Perogy Casserole

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Instructions
  1. Boil perogies in a pot of boiling, salted water until they float to the top & are cooked. In a saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp of butter with 2 Tbsp olive oil. When perogies are cooked, lift out of water with a slotted ladle & place them in a single layer in the saucepan. Fry until lightly browned on both sides; remove from pan & set aside.

  2. To the same skillet, add sliced raw sausage, stirring constantly until cooked through. Add green peppers, cooking until tender crisp. Remove sausage & peppers from skillet; set aside.

  3. In same skillet, melt 3 Tbsp butter. Whisk in flour & continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes until golden brown. Whisk in chicken stock & whole grain mustard. Continue to simmer mixture, whisking constantly, until sauce is thickened & bubbly. Return perogies, sausage & peppers to skillet; carefully combine to coat everything well in the mustard sauce.

  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place mixture in a 13 X 9-inch casserole dish; sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese & bake 10-15 minutes. When everything is heated through & cheese is melted remove from oven & serve.

Parmesan-Shrimp Bread Sticks with Broccoli Cheddar Soup

It seems we never get enough of taking just about anything we do to the next level. Case in point would be pizza dough. It started as a very thin, crispy crust and evolved into whatever thickness you wanted to make it. Enter the ‘stuffed’ crust with a ring of cheese encased in the outer edges of your pizza! Then, of course, the actual pizza fillings can be virtually anything that you choose or have available.

Bread sticks, on the other hand, aren’t something that have remained unscathed either. Probably the original simple design was ‘grissini’ (as they are known in Italy). Today’s bread sticks come in many forms from super crispy, thin ones to the larger ones often served with spaghetti and used to mop up excess sauce. Now, here’s where it gets one step better. Enter ‘homemade stuffed’ bread sticks. For inspiration all you have to do is think about all of your pizza toppings. Use them as options for either mixing into your dough or actually stuffing into a bread stick.

Being shrimp and Parmesan lovers, the natural thing for me to do was  incorporate both into some bread sticks. The next step was to pair them with a nice light broccoli-cheddar soup. A match made in heaven even if I do say so myself.

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Parmesan-Shrimp Bread Sticks with Broccoli Cheddar Soup
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
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Instructions
Parmesan Shrimp Bread Sticks
  1. Combine all ingredients, in the order listed, in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on medium-low until the dough comes together. Continue to mix on medium-low for 5 minutes to knead. Dough is ready when it is stretchy & smooth. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise for about an hour or until doubled in bulk.
Bread Stick Filling
  1. Peel, devein & slightly chop raw shrimp; place in a bowl. Grate & slightly chop fresh Parmesan cheese. Combine oil, minced garlic, spices & Parmesan cheese with chopped shrimp.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch dough down; on a lightly floured work surface, press dough into roughly an 8 X 12-inch rectangle. Top with shrimp filling & sprinkle with dill weed. Slice lengthwise into 8 strips; fold each strip in half enclosing filling. Twist each strip slightly & lay on baking sheet. Top each bread stick with some grated mozzarella cheese (or you could put it on as soon as they come out of the oven). Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with soup.
Broccoli-Cheddar Soup
  1. In a large saucepan, saute onion & garlic in olive oil until tender. Stir in flour; cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in broth. Bring to a boil; cook & stir for 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  2. Add the broccoli, tarragon, thyme & pepper; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 10 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Add milk; cook, uncovered 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.
  3. In a blender, process about half of the soup until smooth. Return to saucepan; heat through. Reduce heat. Add 100 grams of cheese; stir just until melted. Serve immediately, garnishing with remaining cheese.
Recipe Notes
  • When time is of the essence and you need to speed up the process, use a tube of purchased refrigerated pizza or bread stick dough instead of making your own. 

Wild Shrimp & Red Pepper Pizza

One thing for sure — pizza worldwide, never gets ‘old’. The fact that pizza can be topped with almost anything, creates some of the most unique flavors.

But, first we must think about the cheese used as it has been a part of pizza forever. Food experts seem to agree that mozzarella is the best choice. There are four different kinds of mozzarella used for pizza: fior di latte (made of cow’s milk), mozzarella di bufala (made from the milk of water buffalo), burrata (a fresh Italian cheese with a creamy filling), and the type most commonly used in North America, pizza cheese (whole milk or part skim mozzarella). Of course you can always opt for a kind that you favor more personally.

Around the world, regional ingredients and local foods create some interesting combinations such as:                                                                                      Australia: bacon, ham, egg, shrimp & pineapple                                                          Brazil:        green peas, corn, raisins, boiled eggs & hearts of palm                      China:        mini hot dogs                                                                                                          Costa Rica: shrimp & coconut                                                                                                France:       bacon, onion & fresh cream                                                                          Germany:  canned tuna                                                                                                            Greece:       feta cheese, olives, oregano, onion, tomato, green pepper &                                 pepperoni                                                                                                                India:           tikka chicken, minced mutton, pickled ginger, paneer cheese &                          tofu                                                                                                                              Japan:          squid, eel, teriyaki chicken, bacon & potatoes                                        Netherlands: lamb, as well as the so-called ‘double Dutch’ – double meat,                            onion & cheese                                                                                                    Pakistan:    tikka chicken, achari chicken & curry                                                        Portugal:    local garlic sausage or chorizo                                                                      Russia:        a combination of several types of sea food with onions called                             ‘mocaba’                                                                                                                  Sweden:      chicken, peanut, curry powder as well as pineapple & banana

This wild shrimp pizza uses a light garlic-lemon sauce with a mozza-parmesan cheese combo. We love shrimp (or seafood), so what’s not to like!

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Wild Shrimp & Red Pepper Pizza
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, melt butter & add oil over medium heat. Add garlic & lemon zest, cook for 1 minute. Add broth (or wine) & lemon juice, simmer for 2 minutes. Add shrimp & red pepper. Saute ONLY until shrimp is pink. Remove from heat; place shrimp & red pepper in a dish & set aside. Add Parmesan cheese & Italian seasoning to broth remaining in pan; combine well. Cool slightly.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large pizza pan with parchment or sprinkle with cornmeal. Press out pizza dough evenly in pan & brush with slightly cooled 'sauce'. Top with shrimp, peppers, mozzarella cheese. Bake 8-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.