Scallop BLT Pizza

I made this scallop BLT pizza because I love just about anything on pizza. I mean, have you seen all the pizza toppings I’ve fallen in love with? This combo of scallops, bacon, and alfredo provides the luscious and decadent part while the tomatoes and arugula balance it out with freshness. We had a great scallop pizza last year in Maine for our anniversary.
scallop_blt_topped_590_390

I love topping pizzas with raw greens (like this Greek one, or this BLT one, or Big Mac pizza, or this prosciutto fontina arugula one) but if that’s not your thing either spinach or arugula would be great chopped up and cooked on the pizza.

Ingredients:

pizza dough
2 slices of bacon
3-4 sea scallops
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
3 tbs flour/wheat flour
salt & pepper
1 cup light alfredo sauce
1 tomato, sliced into chunks
8 oz shredded mozzarella
2 cups arugula (or spinach)

Directions:

Preheat the oven (and pizza stone if using one) to 400 degrees.
Pan fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from heat to drain and chop up.
Rinse scallops and remove the connective tissue on each one, if there is any. Pat dry.
scallop_blt_scallops_590_390
Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Spread pizza dough onto the pizza stone or pan and bake for 5-10 minutes. The point is to get it pre cooking so when the pizza is topped, it doesn’t have to cook much longer.
Heat a heavy skillet to medium and add butter & oil.
Toss the scallops in the four mix and pan sear each one for about 2-3 minutes on each side, flipping once (they’ll go into the oven again too so don’t overcook).
scallop_blt_scalfry_590_390
When the pizza dough is pre-cooked a bit, remove from the oven. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees. Top the crust with alfredo sauce, cheese, bacon, and tomato.
scallop_blt_cheese_590_390
Cut scallops in half horizontally, or into quarter chunks if you prefer.
Add cut scallops to the pizza, with the seared side facing up.
Return to the oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
scallop_blt_done_590_390
Toss arugula with a very little drizzle of olive oil and add onto of the pizza.
scallop_blt_plate_590_390
Slice & enjoy!

I added a little sprinkle of Parmesan and chives before the arugula, mostly because I had some. I liked everything that was going on for this pizza. It was reminiscent of bacon wrapped scallops.
scallop_blt_topped_590_390

This is seriously a cheap way to serve scallops. I bought 3 scallops for 2 of us. I did slice them in half but there were lots of pieces to spread over the pizza! Bay scallops aren’t the same but maybe I should branch out for meals like this. I also only used 2 slices of bacon. It seems like plenty when spread around. I would always like more, but this amount is the smart choice. I pre-portion bacon and freeze it. Otherwise a pound can disappear verrrry quickly.

Bacon and Leek Crepes

PARIS & PRAGUE! Mr. J and I booked a 2nd anniversary trip to Paris and Prague in September!

I cannot contain myself. It makes me just want to skip down the streets of Paris munching on a fresh baguette. I was so fearful that it wouldn’t happen. I’ve been obsessively dreaming about going to Paris for uhh, at least a YEAR. My fall calendar was filling up and I was afraid that the idea of the trip would keep getting bumped back. It’s happening! I’m just so psyched. It’ll be a whirlwind (or as the Jersey housewives would say: world wind) but that’s just how we do.

Because I’ve been Paris obsessed, I wanted to make some French food. It was uuuuber hot here in Boston so I also was figuring out meals that didn’t require any oven action. I got this electric crepe maker back in high school. Probably around the time I went to Paris on an exchange when I stayed with a family in a suburb between Paris and Versailles. Yup, pretty awesome.

Crepe night was like a sophisticated taco-night to them. It meant there weren’t a million courses (unlike usual) and it meant that dessert was crepes too. It was the dad’s-cooking-dinner-tonight meal for the family I stayed with.
crepe_plate_590_390

Now, for the crepes. The batter is really simple but I don’t think it’d be as simple to actually cook it in a regular pan. The French don’t really use crepe makers like this, but it is fool-proof for me. Of course, it is an art form in France with a dramatic dowel-like-tool swooped across a hot griddle or pan. Ohh well. This is delicious enough for me.

crepe_form_590_390

I figured bacon + veg + cheese + ready-made sauce would be perfect. I wanted bacon, leeks, gruyere, and bechamel sauce. I couldn’t find any gruyere, so I got gouda. I decided that I wasn’t wanting to make my own sauce, so I chose light asiago cream sauce from a jar for the win.

Ingredients:

1 large leek stalk, chopped
1 egg
⅔ cup milk
¼ cup water
½ cup flour
2 tbs melted butter + 1 tsp butter
4 slices of bacon, chopped
4 oz grated cheese (I used gouda)
1/2 cup bechamel sauce (I used Asiago Romano jarred sauce)

Directions:

If using fresh leaks: Soak leaks in water, and let sit for 5 minutes. Sift them out (without letting any sand from the bottom get back into the leeks). Repeat again until no sand/dirt comes out to the bottom of the water bath. Mine were already washed & chopped leeks in a bag from Trader Joe’s.
Whisk or blend together egg, milk, water, flour, and melted butter. Then let sit for 5 minutes.
In a large skillet, fry the bacon over medium heat, until crisp.
While bacon is cooking, grate cheese and warm sauce.
Discard bacon fat but use the same pan to cook the leeks. Add one tsp of butter to deglaze the pan from the bacon, and add the leeks to cook for about 5 minutes.
While leeks are cooking, set up for the crepes.
If using an electric crepe pan, pour batter onto a plate. “Dip” the crepe maker upside down onto the crepe batter plate. Swiftly turn upright and let it cook for 1-2 minutes.
crepe_cooking_590_390
Repeat to use all the batter.
Add the bacon back into the leeks.
Fill crepes with bacon/leek mixture, then cheese, then sauce. Roll up and serve or keep warm as you fill them.
crepe_filling_590_390

I loved this dinner. I served them with some salad which made it feel super easy. I enlisted Mr. J to the assembly line to fill. The crepe itself isn’t quite sweet or savory. I adore the consistency. Crepes are super thin and have the slightest egg flavor without feeling like breakfast. I love how soft and delicate they are.
crepe_inside_590_390

It only made me wish I had dessert fillings around. More crepes to come!

Have leftover leeks? Make Potato, Leek, & Bacon Pizza or chop it up to freeze it so you can add it into your lasagna/soup/enchiladas next time!

BLT Pasta Salad

Now that the 4th is over, the pressure is off for your food to be red/white/blue. Phew!

I was thinking this pasta salad was getting so hearty that it didn’t really need to just be a side, I thought it could be almost the whole meal. I put it on salad with a few more veggies and thought it was great!

blt_salad_overhead_590_390

Ingredients:

6 oz plain greek yogurt
1 envelope Ranch Dressing (or Italian Dressing)
10 oz dried pasta (any shape you like)
4 slices of bacon
2 tomatoes
1 cucumber

Directions:

In advance: mix yogurt and dressing packet together and refrigerate for 3+ hours.
Boil pasta until cooked through, but just a little al dante. (I cook it longer than when I prepare hot pasta).
Fry bacon until crisp.
Let pasta cool.
Chop tomatoes, cucumbers, and bacon.
Mix dressing onto room temperature pasta.
blt_salad_pasta_590_390
Chill for an hour-or-two before serving.
Serve as pasta salad or on top of a green salad.
blt_salad_plate_590_390
Basil would have been a good addition to make the pasta salad be more BLT instead of the lettuce. I used Greek yogurt to up the protein and lower the fat from mayo. If it dries out, add a tablespoon or two of milk to get it creamy again before serving.

There are pretty much a million substitutions for this one…ready? go!

Bacon & Beer Festival

I did it. I went to Bacon & Beer Fest. Finally! The tickets sell out in the first 10-minutes online. Luckily, Ms. L was on it and grabbed a few. It benefits Community Servings and Lovin’ Spoonfuls. I love those two groups but was disappointed that there was zero representation of the organizations.

The event was great, though now it is a bit outdated. Better late than never. The lighting and crowds didn’t make it an ideal photo-op, but I had to snap a few while juggling my beer cup and spork.

bacon_beer_sign_590_390
Check out the crowds. There were restaurants on the floor and breweries and more restaurants around the edges on 2 levels.
bacon_beer_crowds_590_390
Bacon, cheese, and fig spread on a crustini:
bacon_beer_crustini_590_390
This was huge and not our favorite, but I really liked the idea.
bacon_beer_cream_590_390
This mac & cheese had smoked pork and avocado cream.
bacon_beer_mac_590_390
This was my favorite sweet bite of the day. It was a take on a smore from Petit Robert.
bacon_beer_chocolate_590_390

Leek and Potato Pizza with Bacon

I was feeling like dinners had been too wintry and I wanted something springy. I’m ready for spring and Boston sure feels fresh and rejuvenated. We are on the mend and with a springy-feeling drizzle and a sunny hug this weekend helped us heal and move forward.

I spotted leeks at Trader Joe’s. Thanks to Joe, I didn’t have to slice and soak. It also meant I didn’t have to try to use leeks in everything I cooked from now on.

Ms. L was coming so I figured bacon was just the addition she would appreciate. All hell was breaking lose at work. I needed to make this delectable pizza. I needed something I could do well. I’m sure Ms. L would have understood if I was too overwhelmed. When other things are going wrong, I just want dinner to be comforting.

potato_leek_baked_590_390

Ingredients:

pizza dough
2 cups leeks
2 tbs pesto
8 oz shredded mozzarella
4 oz St. Andre cheese
2 russet potatoes, thinly sliced
2 strips of bacon

Directions:

Preheat oven and pizza stone if you’re using one to 400 degrees.
Saute leeks in butter and olive oil until cooked through.
potato_leek_leeks_590_390
Spread pizza dough onto the pizza stone or onto a lightly greased pan and poke a few holes with a fork.
Pre-bake the dough for 10 minutes until the dough puffs and is somewhat cooked, but not crisp.
Fry the bacon until almost cooked (it will continue baking on the pizza)
After removing the dough from the oven, spread pesto onto the dough.
potato_leek_cheese_590_390
Top with shredded mozzarella, sliced potato, leeks, soft cheese, and crumbled bacon.
potato_leek_assembled_590_390
Return to the oven for 20 minutes until the crust crisps and the cheese melts.
potato_leek_whole_590_390
Remove from the oven, and let sit for at least 5 minutes before cutting.

This was so good. The two cheeses were perfect. St. Andre crumbles like butter and is like brie, times 10. The cheese plus potatoes plus bacon was so well balanced. The leeks are fresh almost oniony almost garlicky.

I loved this and will make it again, for sure.

What I Ate: Avocado BLT

Happy Friday! Since we’ve successfully made it though the week together, I figure this Avocado BLT a perfect ‘What I Ate’ addition since obviously you do not need a recipe for a BLT. Bacon + Lettuce + Tomato = delicious. I’m going to add a few special touches to an already awesome sandwich. (Check out How Sweet It Is’ Avo BLT from this week too!)

The BLT is a perfect I-ate-some-pretty-bad-for-you-food-this-week option for the weekend,

or a breakfast-versus-lunch tie breaker,

or I-don’t-like-traditional-breakfast-food.  It has the perfect grease requirement for hangovers and the ideal fresh factor to make up for unhealthy indiscretions.
avo_blt_assembled_590_390
I think BLTs are perfect for a quick dinner or even brunch. They’re great on whatever bread you have, rolls, wraps, biscuits, flatbread, bagels, pita pockets, anything!

I added some pesto aioli and some avocado. Perfection! Mix up some mayo and some pre-made pesto. Also, if you refer to it as aioli, even people who think they don’t like mayo will be alllll about it.
avo_BLT_spread_590_390
I grilled the bacon in a criss-cross lattice pattern. Bacon in every bite! I like it suuuuper crispy but bacon in any form is perfect.
avo_blt_bacon_590_390
Layer it up! I like it in the order of B then L then T. I added avocado to make it more special, filling, and creamy. avo_BLT_plate_590_390
I think there are tons of fun ways to keep a BLT interesting. I think a salad-y wrap would be good too. Maybe the lettuce and tomato in chunks mixed with ranch, avocado, and bacon! Ooo. Yum! A BLT grilled cheese would be delicious right about now. Or maybe a BLT with fried egg on ciabatta! I’ve made BLT pizza (which was to die for). Just goes to show you, BLTs are great inspiration.

What do you do to keep sandwiches interesting? Any BLT variations I should try next?

Corn and Bacon Chowder

Are you stuffed and/or hungover from the Superbowl? This won’t undo any goodies you munched yesterday, but I thought: what food should be the morning-after the Superbowl? Answer: soup!

I’m trying to change people’s impression of soups. I fear they get a bad wrap for being not filling, or for lacking flavor. This recipe has been hanging out a bit because I made a creamy sherry tomato soup and pizza Soup ‎and roasted cauliflower soup all somewhat recently and I thought you might get souped-out. Not to worry though, I have a lighter soup Momma just made that is beyond words amazing. I’ll make it soon-ish. If nothing else, soup helps vary dinner ideas now and then.

This corn and bacon chowder is not exactly the healthiest soup, but the flavors are delightful. I based it off of Tyler Florence’s recipe and loved it. I shaved off some heaviness and calories by using half cream and half low-fat milk. I also used wine in place of some stock. This is a great spot for whole wheat flour since it is only thickening the soup.
corn_chowder_done_590_390

Corn & Bacon Chowder

Adapted from Tyler Florence

Ingredients:

2 tbs butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbs garlic, minced
2 tbs flour (I used wheat flour, all purpose is fine too)
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup white wine (or increse stock by 1 more cup if omitting wine)
2 cups corn
2 large potatoes, cooked and chopped
2 cups milk/cream (I used half milk, half heavy cream)
4-6 slices of bacon/pancetta/chorizo
½ tsp liquid smoke (optional)
½ tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper

Directions:

Boil potatoes until cooked most of the way through (or microwave, or bake)
Saute onion in butter until translucent and cooked through over medium heat.
Add garlic and flour, stirring well before adding stock and wine.
Add corn.
corn_chowder_pot_590_390
Cook over medium-high heat, gently boiling.
Pan fry bacon.
Add potatoes and milk to the pot cooking at medium-high heat.
corn_chowder_potatoes_590_390
Stir well, allowing potatoes to break down slightly.
Chop bacon.
Bacon, liquid smoke, and spices, and stir to combine.
Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
corn_chowder_bowl_590_390

I did the whole thing in 1 pot and 1 pan. Score! I boiled the potatoes and when I drained them, I started the soup in that same hot pot.

I love the bacon in here and the liquid smoke plays off that a bit. I think the bacon adds a depth and difference to the sweet corn that is necessary, not optional. I think the herbs could really be anything you have/love. Sage might be interesting? Tyler uses parsley. Basil always makes me think of lightness/freshness. I love chives (and they’re about the only thing I can grow).

Have I proclaimed my love for liquid smoke? I recommend adding it to traditional chili, soups, butternut squash enchiladas, etc. It seems like a special ingredient, but it ends up going with everything. It also doesn’t go bad for about a million years and you only use a little at a time. Ok, are you sold?

I didn’t freeze any of this soup. Cream based soups can seem kind of texturally off after being frozen to me. This made about 4 sizable portions for dinner & lunches.

Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts Hash

Happy New Year! December included a vacation then the whirlwind of the holidays in MA & ME. It was an awesome few weeks but I feel like now it is is major detox time. Time to eat real food and get back to the routine. There were some amazing meals on vacay, Christmases with both families, holiday parties, a cookie swap, some festive beverages etc.
brussels_hash_plate_590_390

I spotted this easy sweet potato and brussels sprouts hash on Culinary Colleen’s blog. It looked awesome for brunch. I thought it could be an easy and balanced dinner.

Ingredients:
2 small sweet potatoes quartered
2 cups brussels sprouts, trimmed
4 strips of bacon
1 tbs chopped garlic
2 eggs

Directions:
Partially boil the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are halfway cooked.
Steam the brussels sprouts while pan frying the bacon.
brussels_hash_steam_590_390
Drain the bacon, leaving the pan coated with bacon grease.
Cook potatoes, brussels sprouts, and garlic in the bacon pan.
When potatoes and sprouts are getting gently browned and crisp turn to low and keep warm. Add bacon just before serving.
brussels_hash_pan_590_390
Pan fry eggs over easy, or poach the eggs.
brussels_hash_eggs_590_390
Serve eggs over the potato and sprout hash.
brussels_hash_plate_590_390

I liked this. It was super easy. I think I should have dripped in a little liquid smoke, but the bacon gave a great smokiness. I don’t think I’d crave this weekly, but it was a nice change up and was only 1 pot and 1 pan to make. Love that!

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

There aren’t enough foods wrapped in bacon. I can sense when scallops wrapped in bacon are a passed appetizer near me. It is like radar. I work the cocktail hour scouting what waiter has them near by.
bacon_scallops_plate_590_390

I decided I should make some myself. I think the challenge was really to get the bacon crisp and not to overcook the scallops.

Ingredients:

3-4 sea scallops per person
½ strip of bacon per scallop
toothpicks
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil

Directions:

Rinse scallops and trim any connective tissue.
Pat dry. Again, pat any excess water off.
bacon_scallops_dry_590_390
Wrap each half strip of bacon around each scallop and secure with a toothpick, through the center. Or try using 2 to make an X to get it going. Generously salt and pepper both sides.
bacon_scallops_prepped_590_390
Melt butter and oil in a hot skillet.
Place scallops in, bacon side down.
bacon_scallops_cooking_590_390
Don’t overcrowd the pan so you can rotate the scallops, crisping the bacon on each side.
At the 4th rotation, pan fry both top and bottom.

These were tricky. I made sure to (account for and) pull out each before serving. The bacon held well. If anything, they weren’t quite as crisp as I would have liked. I think the scallop maintained its integrity.
bacon_scallops_plate_590_390
Four scallops per person was too much. They were huge! I served them with some roasted broccoli and parmesan risotto.

I have lots of meals and a whole vacation recap ahead. I’ve been under the weather and I’m trying to vacay detox while still getting prepped for the holidays. Bear with me! I’m shooting for Monday ;)

Bacon, Butternut Squash and Gouda Pizza

I had an idea for a fall inspired pizza once I saw a good lookin’ pizza on Flying On Jess Fuel. Her pizza had bacon, gouda, apples, and caramelized onions. How delicious does that sound?! I also saw an awesome one on We Are Not Marta with pumpkin crust topped with prosciutto and brussels sprouts. I had a few fall flavors I thought would be good and it seemed like it’d be an ideal use for some butternut squash I had roasted. Bing, bam, boom.
fall_pizza_plate_590_390

Ingredients:

pizza dough
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup shredded mozzarella
½ roasted butternut squash
1 cup sliced gouda
4 strips of thick cut bacon

Directions:

Preheat the oven (and pizza stone if using one) to 400-degrees.
While oven is heating, fry bacon until almost cooked (it keeps cooking when on top the pizza).
fall_pizza_bacon_590_390
Pre-bake the pizza dough for about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle mozzarella, thyme, and nutmeg on top after removing from the oven.
Spread the mashed butternut squash onto the dough.
fall_pizza_layer_590_390
Top with sliced gouda.
fall_pizza_cheese_590_390Finish with bacon.
Bake 20-30 minutes until melted and crisp.
fall_pizza_tobake_590_390

I liked it. I think the gouda is nicely nutty and the quash layer provides a great moisture layer. I liked the crisp bacon in contrast to the soft squash.
fall_pizza_slices_590_390

It was good. This fall pizza was a nice combo of flavors I’m glad I didn’t go bananas topping it with everything I thought might go. Sometimes I go pizza-topping-overboard. I can’t help it!

Psssst: get ready! I have a new series launching later this week. Stay tuned!