Melissa's Cuisine: August 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Crisco Olive Oil--Herbed Dipping Oil

EVOO--that's how Rachel Ray refers to Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Ever since I became a fan of her show that's how I think of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  People who don't know Rachel Ray might look at you like you're crazy when you talk about EVOO, but that's okay we're all crazy in our own way, right?

I've had a couple posts from the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program lately and I hope you're enjoying them.  One thing I really like about this program is it offers me a chance to try a new product or showcase a more common one in order to share the products with you!  The products I have tried are all high-quality and ones I feel good about sharing.  The Crisco Olive Oils I received were no exception.

I received 3 bottles of Crisco Olive Oil:  Extra Virgin, Pure, and Light. 
I was asked to come up with recipes that incorporate the three types of Olive Oils.  So over the next few days I'll be sharing the recipes that I made:

 Flatbread, with Herbed Dipping Oil:
Cucumber Tomato Salad with Italian Dressing:
And, pizza dough (recipe here, I just used Crisco Light Olive Oil):

Today, let's talk about this dipping oil.  When I was in Romania, crusty bread and dipping oil were one of the main meal starters for a Sunday dinner.  I loved the flavors infused in the oil and how it enhanced the bread!

Herbed Dipping Oil

Serves 6

You will need:
1/2 cup Crisco Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
Parmesan cheese
Crusty bread or flatbread for dipping (I'll be posting my flatbread recipe next!)

1.  In small frying pan over medium heat, saute minced garlic in EVOO until the garlic is soft but not brown.  It took me about 3 minutes.

2.  Allow oil to cool and pour into a pint sized jar (use a funnel if needed).

3.  Add vinegar, salt, black pepper, and rosemary to oil.

4.  Shake vigorously to mix the ingredients.

5.  To serve, pour the oil into a shallow bowl or plate and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Dip crusty bread or flatbread into oil and enjoy!

Disclosure – As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received Crisco Olive Oils to try with my family and write about it. Opinions expressed are my own and are NOT influenced by monetary compensation.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Blueberry Muffins--SRC Reveal

It's time again to reveal my assigned blog for the Secret Recipe Club.  This month, I was assigned to Chelsy's blog, Mangia.  Let me tell you, this girl can cook!  She comes from an Italian food-loving family and her passion for food is definitely apparent in her blog.

I had a hard time choosing which recipe to make, in fact I have a few bookmarked to make at some point.  When I saw these delicious looking blueberry muffins, I knew this was the recipe for me.  I love blueberries and July and August are prime time for blueberries in West Michigan.  I had the opportunity to pick berries this year so I was excited to use blueberries that I hand-picked!

Do you notice a trend here?  I love muffins so much that I choose a muffin recipe last month and again today!
Blueberry Muffins

Makes 24 muffins (or 12 muffins and 1 loaf of bread, or 2 loaves of bread)

You will need:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup olive oil
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 cups blueberries

For the topping:
1/3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons butter

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, place the flour, brown sugar, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and mix until just incorporated.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the vanilla, olive oil, egg, buttermilk, and yogurt using a whisk.

3. Add the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and combine until fully incorporated.

4. Fold in the blueberries.

5. Pour the blueberry batter into a greased muffin pan.

6. In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the crumble topping using a fork.

7. Top each of the muffins with the crumble mixture.

8. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out clean.

*I made 12 muffins and 1 loaf of bread.  I baked the bread at 400 for 45 minutes.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Birds Eye Viola!

In my last post, I told you about a new Birds Eye product that makes it quick and easy to put veggies on the table.  Today, I'd like to share a new product with you that puts an entire meal on the table in a matter of minutes.

Birds Eye Viola! really lives up to its name.  Everything you need for a delicious and filling meal, all in one bag.    

Just follow the simple directions: heat the contents of the bag with some water and Viola! Dinner is served!

I was really impressed with this meal!  It literally took less than 10 minutes from freezer to plate.  The bag says it contains about 3 servings, and I think that was pretty accurate.  The vegetables tasted fresh from the garden and the chicken was juicy and well sized.  The noodles cooked up perfectly (I'm always hesitant about mushy noodles) and the sauce was perfect.  This is definitely a meal I feel good about serving!  

And now you can too!  Birds Eye has generously provided me with coupons for buy one get one free Viola!  (My local grocery store sells bags of Viola! for $4-$5 a bag, and BOGO makes this a great deal!)  If you're interested in trying this new product, please leave me a comment with your email address so I can contact you for your mailing address and get you your coupon!

Disclosure – As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received Birds Eye Viola! to try with my family and write about it. Opinions expressed are my own and are NOT influenced by monetary compensation.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Birds Eye Steamfresh Chef's Favorites

Summer tends to be one of the busiest times of the year.  You know how it goes, work all day, come home and work in the yard, softball practice, walks on the beach, ice-cream dates with friends. With all the busyness in life,  few people have the time to spend hours preparing a delicious and healthy meal for their families.  Coming up with healthy side dishes can be time-consuming, and often it's so much easier to grab unhealthy options.

So when I was contacted by the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program, I jumped at the chance to try a product that would make my life just a little bit easier. Birds Eye Steamfresh Chef's Favorites are a great way to put nutritious vegetables on the table in a matter of moments.  I was sent 4 bags to sample:

Lightly Sauced Creamed Spinach
Lightly Sauced Primavera Vegetable Risotto
Lightly Sauced Mushroom and Green Bean Risotto
Lightly Sauced Roasted Red Potatoes and Green Beans

I love a good risotto so I knew that I would be trying one of them first.  I chose the Primavera Vegetable Risotto.  I was impressed with how easy it was to make, just 4 minutes in the microwave and it was ready to eat!  I loved the creamy texture and there was just the right amount of sauce.

I also couldn't wait to try the Roasted Red Potatoes and Green Beans.  I am a fan of roasted potatoes so I was really hoping these would live up to my expectations.  I was really impressed with these, the beans and potatoes are covered in a light olive oil and Parmesan cheese sauce which really enhanced the flavor.

These products will be available in your grocery stores in September.  Keep an eye out for them so you can find your favorite!

Disclosure – As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received Birds Eye Steamfresh Chef’s Favorites  to try with my family and write about it. Opinions expressed are my own and are NOT influenced by monetary compensation.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grilled BLT Pizza

I'm not a huge sandwich eater, but one of my favorite sandwiches is a BLT.  There's just something about the crisp bacon, juicy tomatoes, and lettuce that I love.  And, you all know how much I love my pizza!  When I saw this recipe, I knew it would be the perfect topping for my grilled pizza.  I hope you'll check out my "How-To" that I posted yesterday, I know you'll love grilling pizza as much as I do!

You will need:
4 individual pizza crusts, grilled
4 cups lettuce, torn into small pieces
1 large tomato, diced
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup Bacon Ranch dressing (you can substitute regular ranch dressing if needed)
1/4 cup Asiago cheese, shredded

1.  In a large bowl, combine lettuce, tomato, bacon, dressing, and cheese.

2.  Spoon topping onto freshly grilled pizza crusts.

3.  Slice pizza and serve.
What could be better than a BLT salad on top of pizza?
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Monday, August 22, 2011

How To Grill Pizza

How many of you have heard of grilled pizza?  Quite a few recipes have been floating around the blogosphere lately and I decided it was high time to jump on the wagon.  And I'm glad I did!  Grilling the pizza dough takes it to the next level--this was the best pizza dough I've ever made!

I've seen 2 ways to grill pizza; I'll share both of them with you, really they're quite similar.  However, I prefer the results of one way over the other.  You'll need a stiffer dough for grilling, as the dough doesn't go on a pan.  My go-to dough recipe was perfect.

You will need:
2-1/4 teaspoons yeast
1-3/8 cups water, 110 degrees
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour

1.  Sprinkle yeast into a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and pour water over it.  Allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes, until yeast begins to bubble.

2.  Stir in olive oil, salt, and flour and mix until a dough forms.

3.  Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes by hand.  You can also use your stand mixer, it will take about 6 minutes.

4. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled, about 1.5 to 2 hours.*

5. Deflate dough by punching down and knead for about 5 minutes. Allow the dough to rest before dividing it into 2 pieces (or 4 if you're making personal size pizzas).*

6.  Place the dough on a floured surface and form the pizza crust.  Remember that you're grilling the pizza crust, so you don't wait it to be so thin it will burn right away or so large that you can't easily move it.  

Now it's time to grill!

First prepare your grill:  
I always turn the flames to high to get it hot and then when I put the dough on, I lower the heat to medium.  Our grill has a thermometer so I let it get up to 350 degrees.  Before grilling, grease the grates of your grill using a vegetable oil soaked paper towel.

Next, place each pizza round on the grill.  Cover the grill and let the dough cook for about 3 minutes.  

Open the grill and your pizza dough should be bubbled up and look something like this:
Now this is where you can choose which route to take.  If you'd like, you can flip your pizza dough over and cook the other side.  Or, you can choose to just grill one side of the pizza.

If you choose to flip the dough, flip let the other side cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Remove from grill and add  your choice of toppings.  Return to the grill, cover, and cook on lower heat until the toppings are warmed (about 2 more minutes).

If you decide not to flip the dough, after the original 3 minutes of cooking, reduce the grill heat to low and continue to cook for 2 more minutes.  Add your toppings and return to the grill until the toppings are warmed through, another 2 minutes.  Keep a close eye on your dough so it doesn't burn!
I prefer to grill both sides of the pizza as it really infuses both sides of the crust with the delicious grilled flavor. I found that grilling just one side of the crust led to burned crust in order to cook the dough all the way through.  Though grilling both sides causes you to lose the puffy edges created by grilling just one side (the air bubbles pop when you flip it over), which may lead to more spilled toppings, I've found the added flavor is totally worth it!

*I would like to note here that after the dough has risen I'll often put it in a ziploc bag and store it in the fridge for a few days (up to a month) before using it.  Mike and I both think the flavor is much better after the dough sits for a while.  Or, we quite often make personal sized pizzas by dividing the dough into 4 balls.  We'll use 2 that night and save the rest in the fridge for another time.

Come back tomorrow for one of my favorite ways to top a grilled pizza!

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