Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pizza Party, Pizza Party

Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the fact that I’ve spent the last couple days bored outta my gourd, daydreaming like a fiend.  I’m not sure of the reason but all I do know... is that I can’t stop thinking about pizza. 

Since I was feeling this way, I decided to put my thoughts to paper. 

So without further ado, here is my list of ALL things PIZZA…
Frozen Pizza De Jour:

Here's the thing, I'm all about taking something from a jar/can/the freezer section and adding a fresh ingredient or two to make it more snazzy.  Then I pretend like I made it from scratch and am really “not that lazy.” 

My choices… 
Aldi Brand Personal Pizza: Why?! Because it costs a flipping dollar and then everyone can add their own toppings and not have to compromise.  You want to put anchovies on it, be my guest.  How awesome is that?  My favorite toppings: fresh tomato, mushrooms, black olives...or really anything in my fridge that is about to go bad... YIKES.  Just sprinkle on top and pop in the oven, voila! Oh and there is no extra charge for sausage or supreme.  I love you Aldi!! 

I am also a huge fan of the Dominick’s/Jewel Pizzas because they are huge.  Technically they aren’t frozen, just unbaked.  But here is the thing, on Fridays these pizzas are on sale for either $5 or $6 (can’t remember exact prices here)… the catch is that it is only for cheese and only the unbaked.  If you want sausage, it costs $2 more and don’t even think about the supreme.  Hence my theory on “using things already in the fridge at home” to make it more than a sad ol’ cheese pizza.  $$ in my pocket thank you very much.

Here is my list of places and pizzas you have to try, especially when you are looking to try something a little different… 

Bruschetta Pizza from Phil's.  It's a cold pizza, be forewarned.  But if you want something fresh and different, particularly when it's 90 degrees outside and the thought of hot cheese and grease makes you want to keel over, then this a great pizza to try. 

Another good option is the Salad Pizza from Coutryside Saloon.  I'm completely aware that a "salad pizza" is an absolute oxymoron and goes against all that pizza is about but man-up and try it anyway, you won't regret it. 

BLT pizza from Dino's.  Why?  Why wouldn't you want a delicious sandwich in pizza form?  Duh.  Oh, and if you order it on Wednesday (carryout or delivery) you’ll get a free cheese pizza.  Winning!!

Anything from Coalfire Pizza.  This place has the super thin crust and serves your classic Italian pizza options.  Sadly, it used to be BYOB but as we learned the hard way (just ask my dad about his trip to the CVS wine isle and the devastating conversation that had to take place when we were informed, "oh yeah, we haven't been BYOB for over a year now.") it is no longer... making carry out a delightful option.  However, during their ‘busy times’ they won’t even answer the phone for carry out, so make sure you plan ahead for that. 

For some deep dish, I will ALWAYS be a Lou's girl but if I'm going to mix it up, Pequod's is the next best option.  Less tourists, some deliciously burnt crust and caramelized cheese.  Oh my God, I'm hungry...    

Best Bar Pizza Ever.  You would never guess when you looked at the outside of this place but the Edison Park Inn has a wood burning pizza oven.  I love the Grilled Portabella Pizza with Sun Dried Tomato…I mean who would get that from a dingy bar? Are we kidding?  It’s amazing.  You have to try it.   

Now, everyone has their own favorite, go-to delivery places and I’m no exception.  I won’t push my beliefs on you because that’s just wrong.  However, even though I just ordered or made a pizza with all of the fixings, the fat girl in me says I can always add one more thing to make it even more delicious. 

If you want to add some at home additions try:
1. Ranch Dressing - Also known to some as "fat girl's ketchup" - whatever...
2. Giardiniera/Muffaletta – My suggestions, you need to have the relish.  Apparently some places (Countryside Saloon being one) make their own Giardiniera pizza, I’ve just never tried it.     
3. Balsamic Vinegar – There are some kinds that are way too watery.. However if you get a bottle that is labeled “syrup” or “traditional” then you’re in business.

If you are trying to save a little dough (hehe... come on its funny) then the next best option is to make your pizza at home. 

If you want to roll your own crust try:

Lou Malnati's: If you go into any Lou's restaurant, you can purchase raw dough by the pound.  It comes out to about $3.25 and one pound is more than enough for a large deep dish or extra large thin crust pizza.

Trader Joes: The cheapest dough ever and I like that it comes in different flavors; wheat, white and herb.  It is $0.99 a package and makes a decent size pie.  

I was told that my crust wasn't "that great" and that "my Italian heritage would be disappointed" by a certain somebody who will remain nameless.  I found this link and it changed my life and relationship around.  Apparently, instead of rolling out the dough in flour and cornmeal (which was my mistake) it’s best to coat everything around you in PAM/olive oil and roll it out that way.  Then, instead of drying out and being tough, your dough is crispy and light.  Verdict:  I was told "I guess you do love me."  So there you have it. 

I’ve only started looking at this site but they seem to have some awesome and unique pizza recipes.  I will definitely be trying some of these out in the near future.  

If you have any other pizza suggestions (places, recipes, etc) please let me know!  I’ll definitely add more to my list!!  Happy pizza eating!!  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Four Out of Four Bud Drinkers Agree

This is how the conversation went, when it was discovered that jalapeños in your beer transform a bitter old Budweiser into a fresher fermentation with an adult treat at the bottom.  You can doubt me if you dare…


Cut to a crowded basketball arena. Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns play in the background amongst drunken CHEERING and nonsensical SHOUTING.

JAMES, BURKE, KWAS, and SHEL sit in the stands each with a respective beer in their hands, staring ahead intently.  BURKE sits in the middle of the group with a tray of nachos that take up her entire lap.  She struggles to juggle her beer while dipping a chip in the nacho cheese and adorning it with a jalapeño at the same time.

We see the pain in her eyes as she ingests another jalapeño, barely making a dent in the mound of pickled deliciousness that lay atop her nachos.
She turns, speaking to no one in particular.

BURKE (mildly defeated)
There are way too many jalapeños on these nachos and I can't eat anymore.  I even had several without a chip and my mouth is on fire.

JAMES offers his beer to BURKE without hesitation.

JAMES (nonchalantly)
Just pop a couple in here.

KWAS sits between JAMES and BURKE looking quizzically side to side then obliges by dropping two peños into the nearly full beer.  She watches as they fizzle, one slowly slinks to the bottom.

JAMES sits back and without hesitation takes a couple sips and continues watching the action on the court.
Perplexed at his nonchalance, BURKE, KWAS and SHEL all stare at JAMES until KWAS' look of perplexity changes to one of submission.

Ok, let me try it.

She reaches for the cup and tentatively takes several sips before a look of shock and aww appears on her face.  She hands the beer back to JAMES and takes a sip of her original beer.

KWAS (turning quickly to JAMES and in frantic speech)
Try these back to back, I swear to God the peños made the beer so much smoother.

Double-fisting, JAMES sips from both beers and turns half way to KWAS.

JAMES (not surprised)
Indeed it did.

KWAS turns to BURKE and SHEL, grabs two jalapeños from the mound and drops them into her beer.  She hands it to BURKE.

You have to try this, this is incredible.

BURKE (sipping curiously)
Oh that is amazing.

Two more jalapeños are plunged into the Budweiser as it gets passed to SHEL for final approval.  She takes a quick sip.

SHEL (Exclaiming)
Peños for me please!

SHEL thrusts her cup over to BURKE.

With this, JAMES, BURKE, KWAS and SHEL all raise their glasses in a single CHEERS and drink their newly doctored drink.

NARRATOR: Thus, it was born, Peños in the Budweiser.  The night transformed these four individuals into jalapeño users for life and they will always look back on the night of the Bulls game and remember that sweet, smooth surprise that resulted from the mingling of an American classic and a pickled nacho topper.
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