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OK, peeps.

Hang with me here.

I’m about to blow your mind with this pizza.

Even if you are a non-adventurous meat-eatin’ man (I’m talkin’ to you Uncle Doug), I  guarantee you will like this pizza.

And if you don’t, then I’ll tell you that you’re crazy.

I drool over the gorgeous food pictures on FoodGawker nearly every day.

You’ll never see my food on there because I have no clue what I’m doing with a camera. Food and flavor are my focus. Not so much the pics.

But the FoodGawker food is absolutely irresistible, and I seriously want to try a handful of recipes every dang day.

So yesterday, I saw a picture of this pizza and I knew I had to try it.

It was fate because I had all of the ingredients on hand.

This recipe is courtesy of Chris over at The Café Sucré Farine.

It made my eyes pop wide open when I took the first bite.

Drool worthy.

So, this is a pizza that is topped with bacon, chicken, cheese, a balsamic/strawberry glaze, fresh strawberries and cilantro.

Sounds crazy, I know.

But. You. Will. Not. Regret. Making. This.

It has been a while since we have talked about my love affair with bacon. Do not fear.

My love has not waned.

I still love it more than ever.

However, I did try a new brand of Applewood Smoked Bacon from Whole Foods. This bacon is made from non-industrial farmed pigs. So, before these pigs gave their life for us (I know it’s morbid, but c’mon- it’s meat) they lived a happy life on a farm with room to roam. Then, they were killed humanely.

Again, I know that not everyone cares about the things I care about. And that is fine by me.

I’m just sharing my choices and experience.

So, don’t get all high on the hog (ha- get it? hog? bacon? har!) and whateverish with me.

Back to cooking.

Fry your bacon.

Then, drain off some of that fat on paper towels.

Then, eat approximately 4 pieces to make sure the flavor it acceptable.

Yes, it takes at least 4 slices before you can know for sure.

Now, lets make our glaze.

Get out some balsamic vinegar.

And add a quarter cup to a small sauce pan.

Boil that vinegar, then reduce the heat and simmer until the vinegar has reduced by half.

Reducing the vinegar causes some of the liquid to evaporate, and the liquid left in the pan gets a little thicker and syrupy. Yum.

Bust out some strawberry jam or preserves.

Or jelly.

I’m sure jelly would work fine.

Plop a 1/2 c. of the strawberry goodness into your balsamic reduction.

And now, a surprise ingredient.

Some Sriracha!

A little spicy spiciness.

If you don’t have Sriracha, I’m sure any hot sauce would suffice.

Add 1 teaspoon of the hotness to your sauce.

Stir it up until it is all combined.

Set that sauce aside until you need it again.

Now, lets cook some chicken.

If you are a good multi-tasker in the kitchen, you can cook the above sauce and your chicken at the same time.

To cook normal sized chicken breasts, place your pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the breasts fairly generously with salt and pepper.

Cook on each side for approximately 4 minutes.

So, back to my new commitment to responsible eating. If you have a Whole Foods near you, they have a mega pack of chicken breasts that are organic/free range/cold washed. If you buy the bulk package, the price is not that much more than the conventional chicken at other grocery stores.

Ok, lets get our pizza dough ready.

Preheat your oven to 450.

I made my own dough from the recipe on the back of the new Fleischmann’s Pizza Dough yeast packet.

Kroger used to carry these super thin pizza crusts, but they didn’t have them. Boo Kroger!

Trader Joes also carries an uncooked pizza dough for $1.29 that I really like. However, I wasn’t going to run out for one measly pizza dough.

So, I love this next idea. Again, I’m totally stealing this from Chris’s recipe.

She recommends using parchment paper to roll out your pizza dough.

Put down a little cornmeal.

And roll out your pizza dough.

The parchment makes the transfer to the pizza stone so dang easy. I can’t believe I have never done this before.

It made the whole process easier and cleaner.

Yay for parchment paper!

I like to season the dough a bit and cook it a bit before piling on the toppings.

I spread a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Place it on your pizza pan or stone and cook the crust for 4-5 minutes.

While that dough is par-cooking, chop either one large or 2 small chicken breasts.

Chop up 6 slices of bacon.

Chop up 1/4 of a large yellow onion.

Top your chicken with a tablespoon or 2 of the balsamic strawberry glaze.

And use your hands to mix the sauce into the chicken.

Pop a piece into your mouth.

Savor the goodness.

Practice restraint by not downing the chicken before it ever makes it onto the pizza.

Pull your dough out of the oven.

Spread the remaining glaze around the crust.

Spread a cup of shredded Italian cheese across the pizza.

I normally don’t like or use the pre-shredded stuff but I was aiming for ease!

Pile on your chicken, bacon, and onions.

Finish it off with another cup of the shredded cheese. Throw that bad boy into the oven until the cheese is all ooey-gooey-melty.

About 7-8 minutes.

It comes out looking like this.

I could have eaten it just like this.

It smelled so heavenly.

But I wanted the full delightful experience.

So, I sliced up some strawberries and threw them on top. DO NOT skip this step. I promise. It is so so freaking good.

Then, I chopped some green onion and tossed that on top.

The actual recipe calls for cilantro (not green onion), and I was quite sad to discover that I had no cilantro. It would have been perfection.

But the green onion was a perfectly delicious substitute.

I served the pizza with Ina Garten’s Lemon Fusilli with Arugula. So good!

For Ina’s recipe, I used half of the amount of cream and lemon and pasta. And I used double the amount of vegetables.

I’m not big on a super pasta-y pasta salad. Does that make any sense whatsoever?

Anyhow, it was a perfect meal on a perfect Ohio evening enjoyed on the patio.

We ate while Henry soaked in the fresh air in his bouncy seat.

The two ding dongs ran around arguing over the same stick.

A pretty perfect meal, and a pretty perfect evening.

Life is good,

Leah

P.S. Want to see the coolest, most darling gift I received yesterday? My friend, Jess, oozes creativity. And she made this for Henry’s room. I died. It is perfection, and it will be so perfect for his nursery. Thanks Jess!

Sorry, it is an iPhone pic- I’ll share a better pic when it makes it onto the wall.

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OK.

I’m going to share a Brussel Sprout recipe.

And I’m nervous.

Because if you are like me, you probably have traumatic childhood memories of Brussel Sprouts.

So today, I’m asking you to keep an open mind.

Perhaps it is time to give the old stinky Brussel Sprout another try.

I think you might like ’em.

There is a restaurant in Cincinnati that serves the most amazing Brussel Sprouts you could ever imagine. These Brussel Sprouts made me reconsider my stance on the mini cabbages. And you know what?

I think I officially like ’em.

Here is what you’ll need:

Brussel sprouts, chopped white onion, garlic, tomatoes, vegetable stock, extra virgin olive oil, some dry white wine, bacon, salt and pepper, and some pasta.

Put 2 cups of stock into a stock pan, and bring it to a boil.

While you are waiting for that to come up to a boil, cook some bacon.

Yes, bacon.

I feel like it has been a while since we discussed how delightfully delicious bacon is.

My long lost love.

Bacon makes my life.

To get your brussel sprouts ready to add to the boiling stock, you have to do three simple things.

1. Pull off the outer one or two leaves- these are what was closest to the ground and often they are wilty and dirty.

2. Cut off the stem/bottom/thingy (I love when I use technical terms, don’t you?)

3. Cut them in halves or quarters. You will likely have some small brussel sprouts in your bag, and those will only need to be cut in half. The larger ones you’ll want to cut into quarters. The goal is to get all of them to be about the same size so they cook at the same rate.

Put them in the stock.

While those are boiling away, remove your bacon from the skillet and drain the fat.

Add the onions to the skillet.

Let them get all brown and caramely.

Once they have softened, add in 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic. Cook for one-two minutes.

Push that around in the pan.

This should be smelling amazing by now.

Bacon. Onion. Garlic.

The holy trinity of food if you ask me.

You’ll know your brussel sprouts are ready when they are fork tender.

Once they are, drain them and add the brussel sprouts to the skillet.

Let them spend a little time in the skillet. From the photo above,  you can see that they should get a little bit browned. Mmmm.

Throw in your chopped tomatoes.

I would use a medium sized tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes.

We have bacon. We have onions. We have garlic. We have brussel sprouts. We have tomatoes.

Sweet Mary, how could this get better?

Um, wine?

Yes.

Wine!

Add about a half cup of white wine.

Sprinkle in a little salt and pepper to taste.

Crank up the heat to bring the whole darn goodness to a boil.

Turn the heat down to a simmer.

Let those good little buddies hang out together for a while.

We’re going to cook our pasta.

I’m using some fresh pasta from the farmers’ market that is wild mushroom flavored.

Yum!

But any pasta will do.

Bring your water to a boil.

Season the water with salt. You want to use enough salt for the water to taste like the sea- at least that is what Mario Batali tells me.

We’re old chums, you know.

Drop in your pasta.

Cook it ups, and then drain the pasta and add it to your veggies.

Mix it up.

There ya have it.

Serve it up on a plate and crumble some bacon on top.

I’m telling you.

Give it a try.

The brussel sprout is back baby.

Have a good one!!

XO,

Leah

Acorn.

This word has had a bum rap in our house for a few weeks.

You know, because of this incident.

Acorns aren’t meant to used as dog food. They just aren’t.

Instead, acorns should be planted so that you can harvest a delicious acorn squash.

Wait.

That isn’t right.

Acorns = oak tree.

Acorn squash seed = acorn squash.

Science is confusing.

These are acorn squash. Squashes. Squash.

Say the word squash out loud three or four times. It starts to sound really strange.

Not only are they pretty, they are also pretty delicious.

And they are easy to turn into a simple supper.

The hardest part of cooking with an acorn squash is the first step in the cooking process… cutting them in half.

You may have to put your back into it.

You may break a sweat.

But I believe in you.

Use those muscles and cut through the squash.

Please keep all fingers out of the way.

I would like for you to retain all of your digits during the making of this Acorn Squash Soup.

We need to get those pesky seeds out of there.

Here is a fun fact: acorn squash was originally harvested for the seeds- not for the flesh.

Turns out that fact wasn’t really all that fun.

It was more of a mundane, fairly-interesting-but-not-really sorta fact.

Sorry.

I like to use a grapefruit spoon for this job- its sharp serrated edges give you the scooping edge.

Blam.

Score these guys.

I don’t mean score them on a scale of one to ten for attractiveness or flavor profiles.

That would be plain silly.

No, I mean use a paring knife to cut slits into the flesh of the squash.

Scoring them will help with three things:

1. Cooking evenly

2. Seasoning them

3. Enhancing your knife skills- how else are you going to win Iron Chef?

Now, oil ’em up.

Get ’em good and greased.

Slather ’em.

Then, salt ’em.

Throw ’em on the pan.

Cook the squash cut side UP.

I added about a cup of water to the pan before putting them into the 400 degree oven.

The water helps the skin from getting scorched.

And it helps the cooking process along by providing a little steamy action in the oven.

Roast these for approximately 40 minutes. Depending on the size, it may take a little less or a little more time. You want the flesh to be tender.

Why does this whole recipe sound like one innuendo after another to me?

Dr. Freud, I’d like an answer.

Scoop out the flesh, and reserve it in a bowl.

Toss out the skins.

Now, we shall begin our soup making.

Turn a burner on medium.

Into a medium sauce pan with a little extra virgin olive oil, throw half of a chopped red onion, two stalks of chopped celery, and 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic.

Push it around to coat it in the oil.

Chop up some herbage.

I think thyme would be the best option for this recipe. Thyme is fall-ish and kind of tastes woodsy.

I didn’t have any fresh thyme.

But I did have some dill.

So, dill it was.

And I don’t regret that decision.

I think that chives or rosemary would also be lovely instead of the dill.

I used about 1 1/2 T. of the fresh stuff.

If you are using dried, I would cut it back to a teaspoon.

You know, ’cause the dried stuff if potent.

Toss in your herbage.

Give it a stir.

Bask in the instant aroma that occurs in your kitchen the moment a fresh herb hits the heat.

Pretty fantabulous if you ask me.

Now, we shall thicken our soup.

Guess what we are using?

That is one heaping tablespoon of either:

A: Cocaine

B: Powdered Sugar

C: Flour

You will have to correctly guess the ingredient here, ’cause I’m not telling.

Stir it in so that it doesn’t have a raw flavor.

Now add four cups of stock.

Veggie or chicken will do.

Toss in one lonely bay leaf.

Add in your roasted squash.

Then a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Bring that to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer.

Now, get out your immersion blender.

Or your regular blender.

Blend it baby!

Let it simmer away until you are ready to eat.

Now you can do a few different things to amp this bad boy up.

#1. Mix in a splash of cream. Regrettably, I had none. Boo.

#2. Sprinkle on some crispy bacon. You KNOW I had that. So, YAY!

#3. Chop up a tomato or a green onion or some herbs and sprinkle on top.

Serve it up with a green salad.

My salad had these amazing Burgundy Mushrooms on top.

It is savory and yummy in my tummy.

Hope that you  all are having the happiest of Thursdays.

XO,
Leah

Note: Click on the recipes tab above this post for the full catalog of Seven Hills Recipes.

Our household is entering in to an insanely busy time.

There are lots of exciting happenings for us right now, but it does mean more dinners for one.

Tear.

Sniffle.

Sniffle.

Cry.

Sob.

Wait?

What’s that you say?

Mama O is back on with her final season?

Well, then.

That is a different story entirely.

I’ll happily take my meal for one and spend my evening watching the Mighty Opes.

And that is exactly what I did just the other night.

This dinner was for one. But I made extra to pack for lunch the next day. This recipe could easily be turned into dinner for 2 or 4 or 12.

A couple of weekends ago, at my brothers wedding, my mother-in-law brought us a present from a recent trip.

Wine flavored barbecue sauce.

Hello, lover.

I didn’t want to wait to use this treat!

So, when the man was working late, I decided to put the gift to good use.

Raw chicken in a bowl.

Nothing says delicious and yet disgusting quite like raw chicken.

Bleck.

I put just enough barbecue sauce in to coat the chicken. I put the airtight lid on the container and I stuck it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

You, of course, can use any barbecue sauce.

Pick one that floats your boat.

In the meantime, I threw together my salad.

I actually really love salads.

Especially the hearty kind with lots of toppings and flavors.

Spinach on a plate:

Chop up a ‘mater:

And some cuke:

Drain some black beans:

And sprinkle some on top:

Hmmm… at this point, I’m looking in the fridge trying to figure out what else would be delish.

What do I like?

What do I want?

This is the true beauty of cooking for one.

No one else’s tastes or opinions matter.

And sometimes being selfish is fun.

So, guess what I found??

Yep, Bacon!!

So, you know some of that is getting crumbled on top.

Random hard boiled egg.

Sure.

Why not?

Avocado.

Mmmmm. Hmmmm.

Let’s throw that on.

Some crumbled blue cheese on top.

Yummers.

Just two things missing at this point,

Chicken and some dressing.

For the chicken… pull it out of the fridge.

I desperately was hoping to grill these up.

But, it rained.

And the ground and my poor thirsty plants desperately wanted the rain.

So, I settled for a non-stick pan.

And I put down a little extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.

And I threw my bbq covered tenders in about 5 minutes on each side.

Right before they were done, I wanted a little more of that winey barbecuey saucey.

So, I slathered some on.

Chop it up, and on to the salad it goes.

For dressing, nothing I had in the fridge was feeling quite right.

So, I took a little ranch:

Added in a bit of the barbecue sauce:

And I think a splash of hot sauce.

Oh yes.

Mix it all together.

And drizzle on your salad to top it off.

Grab a glass of this:

And maybe some of these (for you know how Mama O rolls):

Sit down in front of this:

And snuggle in for some special one-on-one time with your BFF:

Happy eating friends.

XO,
Leah

*According to the always reliable and 100% accurate Internet

If you have spent more than 5 minutes on this blog, you have likely used your powers of deductive reasoning to determine that I am CAH-RAZY about bacon.

I truly believe in my heart that it is the best singular ingredient on the planet.

I also truly believe that bacon is the main reason I could never be a vegetarian.

Well, bacon and burgers.

And steak.

And scallops.

Ooh, and tuna.

Anywho.

1. The average American consumes 18 lbs. of bacon a year. I do believe I may be raising that average.

2. BLT sandwiches (mmm, doesn’t that sound good right about now?) became popular after World War 2 when grocery stores expanded and lettuce and tomatoes were available all year.

3. There are varieties of Bourbon, Beer, and Vodka that are bacon flavored.

I think I need a drink.

4. Maple Leaf foods conducted a survey and determined that of the folks they surveyed “43% would rather have bacon than sex”.

OK, lets not get carried away here folks. Even I have my limits on bacon love.

5. Oscar Mayer patented the first pre-sliced packaged bacon in 1924. I always thought that was a good year, and I know now for certain that Oscar was an upstanding citizen.

6. A single serving of bacon is 3 medium slices. WAIT. WHAT?!? While I do love bacon, I usually only have one slice. Two if I’m feeling bad.

News Flash: I am upping my intake!

7. Saint Anthony the Abbot is the patron saint of pigs, swine herders, and butchers. He is known as “The Patron Saint of Bacon”.

God Bless Him.

8. According to an episode of Oprah, Dr. Oz says that regular pork bacon (specifically low sodium) is better for you than turkey bacon! All of the nutritional elements are the same except that turkey bacon has way more sodium.

And tastes nasty.

And has a weird texture.

And where the heck does bacon come from on a turkey?

Dr. Oz you have made my bacon eating life guilt free.

Not that I had guilt.

Because life can be tough, and bacon makes it easier and better.

Maybe that should be fact #9.

9. Bacon makes life easier and better.

10. And this is a fact. I swear it. I’m not making it up. Any dish can be improved upon by simply adding bacon.

That’s all I have to say about that.

If you are now in the mood for some bacon dishes, click here or here or here.

Leah

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