Realistic Cooking Ideas

for Busy People! And sharing our life adventures along the way!

Buffalo Blue Cheese Wing Pizza close up 2 Sliced and plated

Is everyone who lives in the States ready for Super Bowl Sunday? We are ready to go with preparations beginning on Saturday. I started the Chocolate Coconut Cheesecake with Rum and we had this fabulous pizza! Today I am making a different version of a Buffalo Wing Pizza that I can’t wait to try. We use the Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Wings Sauce – this is an authentic wing sauce as many are rather questionable that claim to be Buffalo! During our travels we have been served “Buffalo Wings” and they were rather humorous. For the cooked chicken I shake them with medium sauce, which was a nice contrast to the blue cheese dressing that is meant to reduce the heat of the wing sauce. My husband likes his a bit hotter so he just added some Buffalo Wing sauce to his pizza – that is a great option if people like different levels of heat! The cheddar cheese is a nice compliment to the wing sauce – I used 2/3 cup since 1/3 was not enough but next time I would add a bit less cheese to showcase the Buffalo chicken. And don’t forget to add a bit of crumbled blue cheese when serving!

Buffalo Blue Cheese Wing Pizza Sliced and plated

The below closeup picture shows the blue cheese sauce, the vegetables, and the Buffalo Wing chicken blends in with the cheddar cheese. I diced the carrots and celery small and they provide a nice crunch as if you were having chicken wings, blue cheese with carrots and celery. A popular staple in the Buffalo region! To learn more about how the Anchor bar discovered chicken wings click here and here. Their wikipedia page documents how Teressa Bellissimo discovered chicken wings back in the 1960’s – a story known by many Buffalonians. Teressa is credited with the creation of the dish when she deep-fried some wings and covered them in Frank’s RedHot hot sauce and butter. Back then chicken wings were not popular and often thrown away. She served them with blue cheese dip as an appetizer at the bar. They were initially offered for free. Now chicken wings are in demand around the country and can be expensive depending upon supply and demand. Every year in Buffalo we have a wings festival where different restaurants bring their best Buffalo Wing Sauce to win top honors and bragging rights!

Buffalo Blue Cheese Wing Pizza close up Sliced and plated

I love how a cast iron skillet pizza looks coming out of the oven! This is a perfect healthier option for us by using a rotisserie chicken, dice the meat and shake in wing sauce that has 0 calories. Blue cheese dressing is excellent but keep it light!

Buffalo Blue Cheese Wing Pizza out of the oven

Ingredients
10-inch Cast Iron Skillet
½ cup Light Blue Cheese Dressing
½ cup Carrots, diced
½ cup Celery, diced
4 ounces Cooked Chicken, cubed
1/3 to 2/3 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing Sauce
Crumbled Blue Cheese for garnish
Whole Wheat Pizza dough – 14 ounces

Preparation
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Season the cast iron skillet. Roll out pizza dough into desired size and place in the cast iron skillet. Let it rest for a few minutes. Add light blue cheese dressing as your sauce. Top with carrots and celery. Shake the cooked chicken in the Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing Sauce and add to the pizza. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake for about 20 to 25-minutes.

Top with crumbled blue cheese as the garnish and serve with extra blue cheese and Buffalo Wing Sauce to dip your pizza in!

Buffalo Blue Cheese Wing Pizza with carrots and celery

Buffalo Blue Cheese Wing Pizza with chicken shaked in buffalo wing sauce

Buffalo Blue Cheese Wing Pizza with cheddar cheese

buffalo-style-meatballs-final

In the states, people are getting ready for the big game on Sunday. Even those of us who really are not football fans enjoy the commercials, entertainment, and of course the food aspect of the Super Bowl! Every year I try new recipes and am sharing a few favorites from past years. This year I am trying two new Buffalo Wing style pizzas made of course in my cast iron skillet! Plus a Buffalo Style dip and maybe even a dessert!! What are your food plans for Super Bowl Sunday and do you have a favorite team?

Super Bowl Turkey Chili With Cornbread is an awesome option that can be served as part of the dinner buffet or an appetizer.

awesome-turkey-chili

It is Super Bowl Sunday with Buffalo Style Meatballs! I just love these Buffalo Style Meatballs! Again great as part of your dinner buffet or make them a bit smaller as an appetizer. They are a guaranteed hit!

buffalo-style-meatballs-final
Buffalo Style Potatoes with Crumbled Blue Cheese Dressing. Just when you think it can’t get any better – here comes these fabulous potatoes!

buffalo-style-potatoes-with-crumbled-blue-cheese

Chicken Quesadillas are always a hit and make a great appetizer and finger food.

chickenquesadillafinal5

Cosmo Martini and Mocktail. Of course we need a cocktail or two to select from. Many cocktails can be shaken without alcohol!

cosmo-martini

Orange Dream Martini and Mocktail. This is one of my favorites – so much fun to drink!!

orange-dream-martini-cover-picture

Asian Inspired Layered Chicken Dip. This is a wonderful appetizer that is easy to make!

asian-inspired-layered-chicken-dip2

Wood-Grilled Chicken with Sundried Tomato Flatbread. For those in warmer climates consider this wonderful wood-grilled pizza!

wood-grilled-flatbread-closeup

Bite-Size Bread Pudding with Strawberry Topping. And don’t forget the bite-size desserts – I have a few of them on my blog.

bite-size-bread-pudding-cover-picture

Hawaiian BBQ Pizza closeup

Cooking with a cast iron skillet is so much fun with making different types of pizza. We have tried different versions including Rustic Cast Iron Skillet Vegetable Pizza Topped with BBQ Chicken and each was easy to make and delicious! Not only are they easy to make but they are a healthy alternative to the traditional cheese and pepperoni pizza. A slice of this Hawaiian BBQ Pizza is about 435 calories if you cut it into four slices. Not too bad for dinner even if you have two slices. Consider adding a healthy salad such as Blood Orange Avocado Salad with Macadamia Nut Oil and you might only have one slice!

Hawaiian BBQ Pizza out of the oven

I made this version a couple of times. The first time I used 1/2 cup BBQ sauce and felt that the BBQ sauce overpowered the other ingredients. My preference is 1/4 cup (which is how I calculated the calories) and felt that was a better ratio to the other ingredients. Often BBQ sauce is brushed on chicken or pork chops while being grilled or served as a dipping sauce. So keep in mind the more BBQ sauce added the more concentrated the flavor is with your pizza. The cast iron skillet is easy to clean. While it is still warm, take a damp cloth and wipe it out. Then dry it and place back into the oven to ensure it is dry. Then season with olive oil. It is easy to clean as long as your crust does not get too thin resulting in the ingredients leaking onto the pan. Then you might have a bit more clean up to do. But overall the cast iron skillet is easy to clean when making pizza!

Hawaiian BBQ Pizza slice

Ingredients
10-inch Cast Iron Skillet
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough – 14 ounces
¼ to ½ cup BBQ Sauce
½ cup Pineapple, tidbits, drained
4 ounces Chicken, diced
¾ cup Ham, diced
Sliced red onions
⅔ cup Cheese, shredded

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Season the cast iron skillet. Roll out pizza dough into desired size and place in the cast iron skillet. Let it rest for a few minutes. Place BBQ sauce on the pizza dough, add pineapple, chicken, ham, sliced red onions, and then top with the cheese. Bake for about 20 to 25-minutes.

Hawaiian BBQ Pizza before going into the oven
Hawaiian BBQ Pizza with cheese before going into the oven

Linguine Pasta with Roma Tomatoes and Shrimp

We love going to different restaurants to taste new dishes that inspires me to try different ingredients or make slight modifications to an existing recipe to give it a face-lift. There is nothing like walking into a good Italian restaurant with its old-world charm and heavenly aromas floating from an open kitchen. There is just something about good food – especially Italian dishes – that make people happy! There always seems to be a party going on with servers bringing out heavy trays of food and cocktails. One of those restaurants is Carrabba’s Italian Grill providing the inspiration for this recipe and many other dishes including: Wood-Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Medallions with a Fig & Port Wine Sauce, Wood-Grilled Chicken with Goat Cheese Topped with a Lemon-Butter Basil Sauce, and Wood-Grilled Chicken with Sundried Tomato Flatbread.

Linguine Pasta with Roma Tomatoes and Shrimp closeup

This is a quick and easy meal to make after work. I tend to cheat by purchasing some prepared items to save even more time. It is a fairly healthy dish as long as you limit the butter-lemon sauce and use it more to enhance the flavors. It is important to add a lot of spinach since once cooked it greatly reduces in size. Mushrooms have the same problem! I tend to purchase them whole to cut them thick to avoid them cooking away to almost nothing! Add more or less roma tomatoes depending upon how much sauce is preferred with the linguine. Mix a quick salad, throw a loaf of bread in the oven, pour a glass of red, and plate the Linguine Pasta with Roma Tomatoes and Shrimp – and you might think you are in a great Italian restaurant with its wonderful food and aromas! Mangia!

Linguine Pasta with Roma Tomatoes and Shrimp plated

Ingredients
1 pound linguine
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 – 8 ounces White mushrooms, sliced
1 pound medium shrimp
4 cups Baby Spinach about 5 ounces, chopped
1 can Roma tomatoes
1 – 2 tbsp Butter-Lemon Sauce (I bought mine premade from Wegmans)
2 tbsp Fresh basil, chopped
Salt and White Pepper

Preparation
Cook the linguine according to the instructions on the package. While the linguine is cooking, make the sauce. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and cook the white mushrooms until tender. Transfer to another bowl. Add the remaining olive oil in the pan and cook the shrimp. I take a shortcut as I purchase cleaned, cooked shrimp to save time. I might add it cold to the pasta or at the very end mixing with the pasta. Add the spinach and cook for about a minute. Add tomatoes and butter-lemon sauce and cook until heated through. Add the cooked mushrooms and fresh basil. Drain the pasta and add to the pan to mix with the sauce. Season with salt and white pepper before serving.

Basmati Vegetable Rice with Pumpkin Seeds Closeup

So I just have to ask… what kind of weather is everyone experiencing? Earlier this week I went to work on a -7 degree Fahrenheit day – that would be -22 Celsius. In that weather you bundle up before you get out of the Jeep to walk the very short distance to the door. Holding your breath is a good idea to avoid that frigid air entering the lungs. Of course during that short walk, you need to be anti-social until you get into the building. It is all about survival during that 15-seconds walk to the door! Today the temps got to 40 and it felt like a heatwave while running my errands this afternoon – in fact I was getting hot. But no complaints here!

In a quest to continue bringing healthier ingredients into our meals, I came across this recipe and made it as part of our New Year’s Eve dinner. I served it with Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops with a Balsamic Glaze Dressing with Dates and a delicious Blood Orange Avocado Salad with Macadamia Nut Oil. The rice was easy to make and has a lot of great color from the vegetables. A one-cup serving is about 160 calories. It is great as a side dish for dinner and for lunch just add protein and you have a nice lunch!

Basmati Vegetable Rice with Pumpkin Seeds

The newer ingredient for us is the brown basmati rice – in the past I used white but as we all know brown is typically healthier. Previously I made Basmati Rice With Spices – it was excellent and now I want to try it with brown basmati rice.

basmati brown rice photo

Another newer ingredient is raw pumpkin seeds – I prefer raw cashews and almonds to avoid the added salt. So I figured raw pumpkin seeds should be pretty good too! From the book Power Foods they recommend to refrigerate the raw pumpkins seeds to avoid going bad since they are high in oil. They can be eaten raw and sometimes I add them to the Blood Orange Avocado Salad with Macadamia Nut Oil instead of the dried fruit. Pumpkin seeds of course can be roasted. Most of us remember doing that as a child – scooping the seeds out of the pumpkin and then baking them – well maybe mom was baking them! That is a messy job and raw pumpkin seeds that are shelled can be found in the bulk section of many grocery stores. Just be sure to purchase from stores where the pumpkin seeds are fresh. Also throw a few in a skillet and roast for a few minutes to top granola, salads, oatmeal, and other dishes. Just be careful to not burn them – you know how it goes – you take your eyes off for only a moment and then they are burnt!

raw pumpkin seeds photo

This is a wonderful recipe from Healthiest Meals on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What Meals to Eat and Why. I do not always have cilantro and green onions in the pantry but it is good without those ingredients. A nice substitute might be some chopped raw nuts, parsley, or a bit of dried fruit – but not too much because of the sugar. Enjoy this recipe and have a fab weekend!

Basmati Vegetable Rice with Pumpkin Seeds cover

Rice Ingredients
1 cup Brown Basmati Rice, well rinsed
1/4 cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds
2 cups Water, Vegetable Broth, Chicken Broth, low-sodium
Salt

Vegetable Ingredients
½ to 1 Small Red Pepper, cut into squares
½ to 1 Small Orange Pepper, cut into squares
2 tbsp. Lemon Juice

Garnish Ingredients
Cilantro, chopped
Green Onion Stalks, diced
Fresh Lemon Slices, optional

Preparation
Rinse and drain rice until the water is not cloudy. I like to soak it for a few minutes, drain with a strainer, place back in the bowl, and add more water, drain – repeat until the water runs clear.

In a saucepan add the rice, pumpkin seeds, water or chicken broth, and a shake of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, stir and reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 50-minutes. Remove from heat, add the peppers and let sit covered for about 10-minutes to finish cooking. Another option is to add the pumpkin seeds at the end. Plate the rice and top with garnish ingredients. I like to add more pumpkins seeds as they are delicious!

Greek Style Chicken Sandwich 2

Working for a small private company has a lot of perks and some challenges that include not having a cafeteria and needing to drive to the closest restaurant for lunch. For several months a food truck stopped with sandwiches, soups, salads, pizza, and other wonderful options. But suddenly they stopped coming – though who could blame them with the winter storms and bitter cold temperatures. Not really sure how they made money with stopping at companies in the business park for a few minutes. They did not make the food but coordinated with local fast food restaurants to stock the food truck! The upside is no temptation for pizza and the downside, of course, no back up plan in case a lunch is not available to bring to work!

It becomes important to pack a lunch and a decent lunch so you are not tempted to make a trip to the vending machine for something unhealthy! Healthy is the key – healthy and something that taste good. If it is bland you end up needing something sweet or fun to eat. It feels like I am always trying to figure out my lunch routine. Plus I do not like to eat the same lunch every day – maybe for a week or two – then I need a change. The Greek Style Chicken Wrap is a wonderful, tasty lunch at about 200 calories for a low-carb flatbread. This means there are enough calories left for a Greek Yogurt, a square of dark chocolate, or a handful of green grapes. Life is good!

Greek Style Chicken flatbread

The new ingredient in this recipe is the low-carb Flatout FoldIt Artisan Flatbreads. They are sturdy enough for a sandwich and taste good – you never know when the package says low-carb. And no, I am not one of those low-carbs or carbs are evil people. But since I sit in front of a computer or in meetings all day, I do need to be careful with my overall calorie intake. I hope you enjoy this recipe!!

Greek Style Chicken Sandwich

Ingredients
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
11/2 tsp oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 ounces shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (about 1 cup)
1 seedless cucumbers, chopped
Plain hummus

Preparation
4 low-carb flatbreads such as Flatout FoldIt Artisan Flatbreads

Place all ingredients except for hummus in a bowl; toss to combine. Spread 1 tablespoon hummus over 1 side of each flatbread. Top with about 1/2 cup chicken mixture. Cover with the other half of the flatbread and enjoy!

Rustic Cast Iron Vegetable Pizza Topped with BBQ Chicken out of oven photo

If I was stranded on an island and could only have one food – that would be Pizza. I just adore pizza – nothing like a gooey cheese and pepperoni New York Style pizza with rolling the slice to eat! Nothing better. Then reality sets in. I can have this type of pizza once in a great while but if I want pizza more often it needs to be a healthy alternative.

We are going to be trying different types of pizza and other dishes in our cast iron skillet. Using a 10-inch cast iron skillet pizza makes 4 large slices or 8 small slices. Based upon the below portions, a pizza cut into 4 slices has approximately 400 calories a slice. Typically I do not measure my ingredients in these types of dishes but it is important to control the calories and fat by adding cheese, so it is important to measure the cheese. Banana peppers do not have any calories (per the jar) but are high in sodium so be careful on how much you add. Slicing your own pepper might be a better option. Pizza sauce is delicious but can be high in sodium. Try to use less pizza sauce and add more chopped tomatoes. Or better yet make a quick sauce controlling the ingredients and sodium. A nice compliment to this dinner is to add a Blood Orange Avocado Salad with Macadamia Nut Oil. It is packed with a lot of good vitamins and nutrients!

Rustic Cast Iron Vegetable Pizza Topped with BBQ Chicken Close up Photo

Don’t forget the Blood Orange Avocado Salad with Macadamia Nut Oil!
Blood Orange Avocado Salad with Macadamia Nut Oil Close up photo

Ingredients
10-inch Cast Iron Skillet
1 small or medium sweet onion, cut in half and sliced
1 tbsp Olive Oil
½ cup Your Favorite Pizza Sauce
Bbout 2/3 cup Your Favorite cheeses, shredded
1/4 cup chopped tomato
Red and Orange Peppers, chopped
Banana Pepper Slices, chopped
4 ounces Rotisserie BBQ Chicken
Whole Wheat Pizza dough – 14 ounces
Basil

Preparation
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Caramelize the onions in the olive oil. Season the cast iron skillet. Roll out pizza dough into desired size and place in the cast iron skillet. Let it rest for a few minutes. Add your favorite pizza sauce. Top with caramelized onions, chopped tomato, chopped peppers, and banana peppers. Add a blend of cheeses and top with BBQ cooked chicken. Don’t forget to add the basil either fresh or dried. It does add a lot of flavor! Bake for about 20 to 25-minutes.

This is why I call this recipe “rustic”. When I was assembling the ingredients it had a rustic look to me!
Rustic Cast Iron Vegetable Pizza Topped with BBQ Chicken Preparation without cheese photo

A little cheese can go a long way to help bring flavor to the pizza without being the main ingredient. You could reduce the cheese to about 1/3 cup and this pizza will still be delicious!
Rustic Cast Iron Vegetable Pizza Topped with BBQ Chicken Preparation with cheese photo

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