Superbowl Sunday Food: Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms



Can a man stand tall and proud when he’s hunching over to pull out baked stuffed mushrooms for him and his boyfriend to enjoy on a Sunday night while waiting to watch the one-hour premiere of Kirstie Alley’s Big Life? (I’ll leave out references to the powder blue oven mitt I got for Christmas). Two days later, I still am unsure of my answer to that question and would like to pass until the next round, Wink. I will say, however that there was not one bit of stuffed shroom left anywhere in my home within twenty minutes of turning down the oven and presenting them to a most-surprised and delighted MG. One might argue that it’s nearly impossible for anything to taste bad when slathered in a mixture of heated cream cheese, bacon, parmesan and Worcestershire sauce, but I would like to think that my ever-mounting kitchen skills had something to do with these coming out as awesome as they did.

I’m still not the biggest fan of the shroom, but the zesty aroma will make them hard to refuse. A definite must-bring to any pot-luck party. Just make sure your host has available oven space to cook them just before putting them out. (Geez, I sound like Martha Stewart! I’m tossing that powder blue oven mitt the minute I get home!)
Recipe for Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

Superbowl Sunday Food: Prosciutto Pepper Puffs

Here’s a simple twist on the recipe for crab puffs I posted a while back to accomodate those heathens who dislike crab. There were more of them out there then I originally realized – my mother and father being two of them – so out with the crustacea and in with a hot and zesty one-two punch of prosciutto and serrano pepper that’ll keep these babies flying into your mouth faster than you can keep count. And being as light and mouth-watering as they are, you won’t want to keep count.

Recipe for Prosciutto Pepper Puffs

Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese


Once you start showing off what you’ve managed to learn to make in the kitchen (say, on a blog for example), you have to take a certain level of responsiblity when friends and family start making certain food assumptions about what you’ll prepare for them when you invite them over. I became accutely aware of that fact earlier this week when my friend Travis asked what I was going to be serving at my weekly LOST viewing party and dinner:

Travis: “What are you making tonight, Gary?”
Me: “I’m making this amazing jalapeno popper mac and cheese.”
Travis:  “Cool… what else?
Me:  “What do you mean what else?
Travis:  “I mean… what else are you making to go with it?  And what, no dessert?”

I guess my days of gliding by with spaghetti and meatballs served on plastic plates I stole from my college dining commons are over, but I’ll happily leave that era in my past. MG often reminds me of my typical day’s food rundown from our first year or so of dating. I don’t recall, but apparently I lived exclusively on Hot Pockets, McDonalds and Tombstone frozen pizzas. I’m guessing MG is happy I’ve left those days behind as well.

On to the mad mac and cheese recipe I found over at Let’s Cook.

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Superbowl Sunday Food: Three (or Four) Cheese Mac and Cheese with Herbs

There’s some serious cheese going on here, folks.  You need to be warned… I mean truly warned.  Take a good look at the photo below and ask yourself, “Do I have the fortitude to take on this recipe?”  All of the cheese in the photo below was grated  and melted into a mere 12 ounces of penne rigate to create the finished product.  You’ve been told.

And it doesn’t stop there.  There’s also butter!  There’s also bacon!  There’s also the fat from the bacon! There’s also white flour.  There’s also fresh sage, parsley, oregano and rosemary.  Some of that counts as vegetables, right?

Am I leaving anything out.  Oh yeah!  I accidentally doubled the amount of butter required by the recipe.  Oops!  I swear, it was unintentional.  And guess what, it totally didn’t ruin the meal!  Who’d have thought it?

I started preparing this at about 8:00 in the evening.  I started eating it at about 9.  By about 10, I was speaking in tongues and levitating three feet off the floor

The recipe can be found at StephenCooks.com, so send your thank you cards and/or the pants you are about to no longer be able to fit into his direction, not mine.  I didn’t come up with this.  I merely used it on a lonely Wednesday night to fill a hole in my heart.  Cheese is really the best way to overcome such things, don’t you think?

So take a read below for how to get ‘er done, and then head to the store for the ingredients you’re missing, because if you have this much cheese just sitting around your house already, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be spending your time reading blog posts.

Recipe for Super Bowl Style Mac and Cheese

Peach and Basil Pizza



This morning on my way to getting coffee, I passed a giant display for Marlboro’s “Dream Big” contest.  I immediately thought to myself, “They’ve discovered a way for me to achieve my biggest dreams WHILE nursing an unhealthy addiction?  F**K yeah!  Where’s the saw for my right arm?”

I would have pursued it further, but the Marlboro website requires you to sign up for entry. And ever since I’ve given up cigarettes, I find I don’t really have the energy to finish things I start.  But that didn’t stop me from looking back over my life and recalling the larger-than-life dreams I once held as a young person… back when anything was still possible, we learned all we needed about safety from a police parrot, and AYDS was just a diet candy!

 

Come on… let’s hold hands and take a walk down Memory Lane.  A rich, creamy, juicy peach and basil pizza awaits us, along with all kinds of “Gary Green’s dreams” that evaporated amidst more unpleasantness than NBC’s ill-conceived Emeril Lagasse sitcom.

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Salami with Fennel and Asiago Pizza

Salami with Fennel and Asiago Pizza RecipeI’m giving this pizza four stars.  One for every slice of it MG polished off last night.  And they weren’t small slices, either.  They weren’t even reasonable slices.  These were some seriously wide and weighted down wedges!  You really have to respect MG’s tenacity.  He gets the job done!

Underneath that deceptively simple asiago/mozzarella cheese canopy are hiding chunks of shiitake mushroom, aromatic fennel, tangy tomato, onion, and thick cuts of spicy salami.  I had complete confidence in all of these ingredients with the exception of the fennel.  I’d never used it in a pizza before, and I was worried its flavor might overwhelm.  No need to fear.  This pizza was all sorts of savory, rich, and meaty, with just pings here and there of fennel sweetness.

Salami with Fennel and Asiago Pizza Recipe

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Appetizers are Served!

Pickled cherry tomatoes, whipped ricotta with thyme and oregano, grilled county garlic bread and mozzarella with olive oil, basil and paprika. Shouldn’t have bothered to make dinner.  Recipes for all to follow.  Click on the image below for a full-size, full-fun version!

Pizza and a Movie #3: Texas BBQ Chicken Pizza with Prosciutto and The Black Scorpion (1957)

The Black Scorpion centers on a misunderstood prehistoric creature who is accidentally freed from his underground cave by a volcanic eruption and proceeds to roam all of Mexico in search of friendship and understanding.

Unfortunately, he is unable to find it, so instead he decides to slash his way through thousands of locals, demolish infrastructure, and create economic chaos in an attempt to weaken the peso.

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Pizza and a Movie #2: Hula Heat Pizza and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)


It was 1979 when my parents first got cable television for the family… or what passed for cable television at the time.  The nation had yet to be introduced to even the seedlings of the multi-channel services movie fans have piped into their living rooms today.  Before everyone knew HBO, Z Channel, Showtime, Encore or Cinemax, they all knew ON-TV.

ON-TV was what was known as a “scrambled UHF” service, the height of broadcast sophistication at the time.  During the day, the UHF station (channel 52 where I grew up) aired its regular programming grid of Hercules cartoons and William Bendix in Life of Riley reruns.  But at 7 in the evening, ON-TV would begin transmitting recent motion pictures over the air to the station, and the image would immediately scramble on home televisions, the sound cutting out entirely.  In order to watch the movies, a converter box with a single “on-off” knob had to be rented for a whopping nineteen dollars a month.

Nineteen dollars a month.  I was ushered into puberty for the price of nineteen dollars a month.

ON-TV gave me the first opportunity to see movies which my yet-to-hit-double-digit age would have prevented me from seeing in an actual theatre.  And unlike the networks, ON-TV played the films totally uncut and unedited, finally allowing me to obtain a meager grasp of understanding on the subject of sex.  Smokey and the Bandit, Silver Streak, Animal HouseThe Deep… to this day I can’t watch any of them without still experiencing a faint twitch of pre-adolescent Catholic guilt.

It was one regular school night at home when my parents and sister came together in the living room to watch a movie called  The Spy Who Loved Me, and my mother allowed me to watch with them.  No one in my family was particularly fond of James Bond, so I had no idea what to expect.  But this was the only movie playing on the only movie channel the family had, so it was automatically an event.

By the time the opening sequence –  featuring not one, but two love-making scenes and a ski chase down the side of an Austrian mountain – gave way to Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better” and the film’s titles, accompanied by a bevy of naked women, swollen in all the right places, trampolining through the air and doing cartwheels on the tops of semi-automatic pistols, I was pretty sure I was watching the greatest motion picture ever produced.

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Pizza and a Movie #1: Greek Pizza with Pancetta and Hitchcock’s Stage Fright (1950)



If you don’t start dramatically prancing around your living room before recklessly tossing your body onto the nearest piece of open furniture while crooning in the lustiest, huskiest voice you can muster after watching Marlene Dietrich perform “The Laziest Gal in Town,” smack dab in the middle of Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright (video below), then switch the movie off immediately.

Stage Fright clearly has nothing to offer you.  Stick with Psycho.

For months now, MG and I have regularly observed a Friday night tradition of homemade pizza and movie-watching at Chez Tv Food and Drink.  It’s become such a ritual that I generally start mentally nominating film contenders and potential pizza toppings as early as the Wednesday before.  All the necessary ingredients are in-house by Thursday night, and if the selected film can’t be found via DVR search or on the living room shelves, an expedition to local DVD retailers is commissioned until the required title is smoked out and bagged.

And all of that happens before I even get to the cleaning of the house.  The living room must be in perfect order. Throw pillows appropriately placed.  Stray books, sneakers, and electronic gear stowed away.  Aquarium cleaned and filled.  Glass tabletops free of all smudges and rings.  Curtains opened so the lights from the balcony candles are able to reflect their charm into the window panes.  Ipod turned on to the “Cocktail Hour” playlist featuring over 500 of my favorite lounge tunes, exotica, and Bond soundtracks.

And my OCD goes double for the kitchen.  Countertops must be scrubbed down and free of any unnecessary appliances. Dirty dishes are washed, dried and put away. Cutting boards set out along with all appropriate knives and the rolling pin for the pizza dough.  By the time MG arrives from work, I have the entirety of that night’s pizza built and ready to hit the oven.  Then together we count three, hoist up the pie via the slice of parchment paper underneath, and transport it onto the pizza stone, which has been heating in the oven at 500°F for no less than thirty minutes.  Once the oven door is kicked closed, I make our drinks and we head to the living room to discuss the day for the next 12-18 minutes until it’s time to slice up our dinner, kill the lights, and start our movie.

Pizza and a Movie night – hardly a new concept, though I don’t know if anyone in the history of Pizza and Movie Nights has taken it as seriously as I do.

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BBQ Chicken Pizza

For the first time in over three years, I’m a non-working television producer.  As of today, I have been without a job for eight whole days.  Breaking it down, that’s 192 hours, which isn’t so bad.  Heck, I’ve slept more than 192 hours straight on several different occasions.

You can also think of it as 11,520 minutes, which starts to sound a little frightening… though not as frightening as 991,200 seconds.  Holy smokes!  I’ve been a non-working producer for 991,200 seconds?  It’s true what they say about life… it really passes you by before you know it.

You may have noticed that I’m using the term “non-working,” which I think is much nicer than “unemployed,” don’t you?  In fact, if we put our minds to it, we can put a much nicer spin on any unfortunate situation just by tinkering a bit with word choices.  Examples:  My show wasn’t “canceled.”  It just “concluded its run.”  My financial situation hasn’t “stagnated.”  It’s merely “awaiting an upcoming monetary installment.”  You’re not “old.”  You’re simply “well seasoned!”

I’m doing my best to stay in the moment, which is what everyone is telling me I need to do.  Actually, before they tell me to stay in the moment, they ask that question all “non-working” producers just love to hear: “So… now what?”

It’s like they think I keep thirty or forty fully developed careers on stand-by for just such an occasion.  “Well, let me take a look at my handy list here… oh!  Next up is ice cream man.  Perfect!  Summer is just around the corner.  Kids are out of school.  All I need is a little paper hat and a van that plays “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” and I’m right back in the game!

People also do their best to get you very excited about having potentially endless free time on your hands.  “Think of all the things you can do now!” they encourage brightly, “Re-decorate!  Write a novel! Run a marathon!”  Why in god’s name would I want to do any of those things?  Those sound worse than having to go to work every day.  Even if I was independently wealthy, I don’t think any of those things would interest me.

I appreciate all the words of encouragement, instructions on what to do when life gives me lemons, and the reminders that I’m only about thirty work years away from having to scoop up french fries and assemble Happy Meal boxes if I don’t play my cards right.

But for the next 991,200 seconds, I think I will focus on making pizza.

Have you listened to a steaming hot pizza pie just out of the oven recently? The way it sizzles and hisses as the cheese bubbles pop hyperactively from one end of the crust to the other? That aroma of tangy sweet and spicy sauce snaking its way through your kitchen? Even those charred little pockets of mozzarella left behind on the walls of your oven take on a fragrant reminder the next morning… man, I love pizza!

And that’s… what’s now.

So if you’re in the Hollywood area, you should definitely stop by and snag yourself a slice. And don’t worry about gaining weight. At Tv Food and Drink, your butt never looks “fat.” It merely looks “super existent.”

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Mediterranean Shrimp Quesadillas


Last week, I had a bum foot. MG labeled it plantar fasciitis, because MG knows about such things. I like to just call it a bum foot. Sounds more gruff.

MG and I were supposed to host a finger food party/mini stop-motion animation film festival last weekend. I know… doesn’t sound very gruff, does it? But I was excited because it was going to be the first party where the entire evening’s menu was to be catered by Tv Food and Drink. The menu was going to consist of, among other things, sugar and cumin spiced almonds, roasted marinated peppers, sun-dried tomato hummus, onion brie tarts, stuffed mushrooms and Italian meatballs.

I had been imagining the unending songs of praise that were to come my way for days ahead of time. I even went so far as to consult Martha Stewart’s Hors d-Oeuvres for presentation suggestions. Yeah, I think at this point we can just retire the word “gruff” from this entry altogether.

The party was not to be, sadly, as I was unable to put any weight on my left foot (insert your own Daniel Day Lewis joke here) for more than a few minutes without a dagger of pain shooting up my leg.  But me and MG still gotta eat, right?  So I headed to my favorite stop for fast and friendly recipes, HalfHourMeals.com, and zeroed in on contribution from fellow HHM member and Packers fan, Ashley.

So, instead of a night full of friends and a table full of finger foods, we enjoyed these rich, satisfying and quick-to-make quesadillas by ourselves on the couch while we watched 30 Rock and Modern Family off the DVR and I rolled a racqetball back and forth under my aching foot for three hours.  All in all, still a pretty good night, even though I got to be neither gruff nor Martha Stewart.

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Three (or Four) Cheese Mac and Cheese with Herbs

Coming home from producing our show’s Cinco de Mayo episode, I decided to celebrate all things queso!

There’s some serious cheese going on here, folks.  You need to be warned… I mean truly warned.  Take a good look at the photo below and ask yourself, “Do I have the fortitude to take on this recipe?”  All of the cheese in the photo below was grated  and melted into a mere 12 ounces of penne rigate to create the finished product.  You’ve been told.
And it doesn’t stop there.  There’s also butter!  There’s also bacon!  There’s also the fat from the bacon! There’s also white flour.  There’s also fresh sage, parsley, oregano and rosemary.  Some of that counts as vegetables, right?

Am I leaving anything out.  Oh yeah!  I accidentally doubled the amount of butter required by the recipe.  Oops!  I swear, it was unintentional.  And guess what, it totally didn’t ruin the meal!  Who’d have thought it?

I started preparing this at about 8:00 in the evening.  I started eating it at about 9.  By about 10, I was speaking in tongues and levitating three feet off the floor

The recipe can be found at StephenCooks.com, so send your thank you cards and/or the pants you are about to no longer be able to fit into his direction, not mine.  I didn’t come up with this.  I merely used it on a lonely Wednesday night to fill a hole in my heart.  Cheese is really the best way to overcome such things, don’t you think?

So take a read below for how to get ‘er done, and then head to the store for the ingredients you’re missing, because if you have this much cheese just sitting around your house already, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be spending your time reading blog posts.

Continue reading “Three (or Four) Cheese Mac and Cheese with Herbs” »