Gourmet game day

Super bowl food ideas

The best thing about game-day parties is the excuse to stuff your face and guzzle beer with zero guilt. Don’t show up to your Super Bowl party empty-handed. Seriously, don’t be that guy/gal.

I’ve even taken you half of the way there, with this handy-dandy Super Bowl recipe list:

You can thank me in free game-day betting squares.


Jalapeno popper dip

Greek 7-layer dip

Loaded bake potato dip

Hot spinach dip

White queso dip

Sliders and sammies

Spicy whiskey BBQ sliders

Out-of-this-world veggie burgers

Cheeseburger sliders

Fried pizza sandwiches

Philly cheesesteak with garlic aioli

Crock Pot faves

Slow-cooker carnitas

Crock Pot picante chicken

Crock Pot chicken, rice and green chile casserole

Crock Pot chicken taco chili

Slow cooker buffalo chicken sandwiches

Party staples

Italian deviled eggs

Potato salad

Tomatillo salsa


Bacon mini quiche

Mexican munchies

Chicken tostadas

Double-decker taco cupcakes

Won ton tacos

Mac ‘n’ cheese tacos

Mini fish tacos


Greek pizza

Prosciutto, arugula and parmesan pizza

Red pepper and goat cheese flatbread

Buffalo chicken pizza

BLT pizza


Sweet potato cakes with BBQ brisket

Bacon wrapped potatoes

Potato rings with ranch

Bacon and blue cheese french fries

Mac ‘n’ cheese french fries

Miscellaneous bites

CB&J crostini

Bacon cheddar hush puppies

BBQ chicken cornbread pie

Corn dog tots

Sweet potato chorizo hand tarts


Guava orange margaritas

Bourbon bomber

Dark and stormy

His and her whiskey cocktails

Lights-out punch

Super Bowl sweets

Brown butter and bourbon blondies

Football cookies

Salted caramel cheesecake shooters

Bacon apple pie

Dessert nachos



I won’t be one of those bloggers that pretends to have thousands of clamoring fans that didn’t know what to do with themselves when their favorite blogger went on hiatus. That being said, for the three of you out there who actually care, sorry for depriving you of dry humor and french toast recipes.

It’s been an insanely busy summer, but I’ll spare you the excuses and get straight to the good stuff …

Portobello, red pepper and goat cheese flatbread/pizza

You’ll need:

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1-2 portobello mushrooms, chopped

8 oz. goat cheese

3-5 cloves garlic, minced

Crushed red pepper  and salt to taste

1 bag of Trader Joe’s pizza dough (you can substitute other dough, but I love this one)

A pizza stone

Olive oil

Have I ever preached the merits of a good pizza stone? It is absolutely crucial if you want to achieve the perfect crisp-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside crust. And take it from me—skip the parchment paper and slap that dough right on the stone. There is an art to this people, so allow me to explain the process:

Ideally, you’ll want to pull your dough out of the fridge an hour or so before you start to let it proof.

Then, you’ll set your oven to 500 degrees and put the pizza stone in to heat it up. Next, ready your ingredients.

In this case, I sauteed the chopped red peppers in a little olive oil for a while to soften them up (ever had a pizza with vegetables that were raw and crunchy? Nothing worse.) and then added the mushrooms in toward the end. Set your ingredients aside and let’s get doughing (forgive me for that one, I’ve been out of the food-humor game for a while). I cut the dough in half so each pizza will fit on the stone—that’s a ball of dough about the size of a baseball. You’ll need a flat, floured surface to work on.

Press your fingers into the dough about an inch inside the outer edge to form a crust. Then press down in the middle with your palms to flatten the dough, and start pulling the dough apart with fingers. Once it is thin enough, you can slap the dough back and forth between your palms or hold one end and let the weight of the dough do the work to stretch it more. If you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about, here’s a good video tutorial—unfortunately I didn’t have the foresight to visually document this process.

At this point, your pizza stone should be heated. Professional pie-makers may turn their noses up at my method, but trust me, for the home cook this works like a charm: Take the pizza stone out—very carefully—and set it on your counter or stove top. Again, VERY CAREFULLY, place your shaped dough (no toppings yet) on the stone. The crust will start to cook immediately from the heat of the stone, so quickly brush the dough with olive oil, crumble the goat cheese and sprinkle the toppings over the surface. I added a few grates of parmesan for good measure. Stick the pizza stone back in the oven and keep a close eye on it. It cooks very quickly—in about 5-7 minutes. Remove the stone once the crust is golden brown and let cool for a while. The pizza should slide off the stone fairly easily.

Garnish with crushed red pepper and a bit of sea salt to taste.

Nothing’s better than Effen on a rooftop

OK, so I stole my post title from the concept for Effen’s new cheeky ad campaign. I’m sure they won’t mind.

Recently, I had the pleasure of enjoying some “Liquid Luxury”—courtesy of Effen and the Effen awesome folks at Zocalo Group—while contemplating sustainable design, really cool succulent party favors and apple and bacon pizza.

And let me tell you, the chefs and mixologist at ROOF at The Wit aren’t Effen around (OK, I’m done with the Effen jokes, promise). The food and drinks were fantastic. And the bottles of Effen (again, courtesy of Zocalo and Effen) we got beforehand weren’t so bad either. Who gets a bottle of vodka messengered to their office?? This girl. I may or may not have gone home and immediately poured myself a stiff, impossibly smooth screwdriver.

Anyway, back to the party at the Wit, where copious amounts of vodka cocktails on a Tuesday were unabashedly encouraged.

We had more than our fair share of Sustainable Sours, Green City Gimlets, Chicago Caipiroskas and Second City Sparklers (recipes below for your imbibing pleasure). The general consensus was that the Green City Gimlet was the frontrunner. And the food, ohhhhh the food. Most of it didn’t live to be photographed, unfortunately … Funghi pizza with roasted oyster mushrooms, mozzarella and thyme; Salsicia pizza with house-made sausage, cured tomato fennel and havarti cheese; Apple and bacon pizza with sliced apple, smoked gouda, cobb smoked bacon and rosemary; Roasted sweet pepper and goat cheese crostini; Marinated rock shrimp crostini with white bean puree and parsley salad; Grilled cheese panini with tomato fontina soup; and PLT: Crispy pancetta, arugula, cured tomatoes, lemon aioli …

It was all soooo good. So, so, sooooo good. Or maybe it’s just the fact that my pre-wedding diet and workout regimen has exponentially intensified my cravings for anything cheesy and carby.

Once I’d settled down from the pizza frenzy, I was able to focus (using the word focus very loosely, as I was at least three cocktails deep at this point) on a presentation on the past, present and future of sustainable architecture and design in Chicago from Jonathan Boyer of Farr Associates, and one from clever ROOF mixologist Jonny Abens on the night’s libations. And let’s not forget the fabulous view:

I’ve always loved Effen, but after this event, I had a newfound appreciation. As a matter of fact, that bottle in my freezer is calling to me right now …

Sustainable Sour

You’ll need:

1 1/2 oz. Effen Vodka

1 oz. St. Germain

1/2 oz. simple syrup

3/4 oz. fresh lemon

Pour ingredients over ice, shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon and cherry.

Green City Gimlet

You’ll need:

1 1/2 oz. Effen Vodka

1/2 oz. Cointreau

3/4 oz. fresh lime

2 basil leaves

Muddle one basil leaf and add remaining ingredients over ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf.

Chicago Caipiroska

You’ll need:

1 1/2 oz. Effen Black Cherry

1 oz. brown sugar

2 lime wedges

2 dashes cherry bitters

Muddle lime wedges and add remaining ingredients to shaker. Shake all ingredients and pour over ice into a rocks glass.

Second City Sparkler

You’ll need:

1 oz. Effen Black Cherry

1/2 oz. Domaine De Canton

1/2 oz. fresh lemon


Pour first three ingredients over ice, shake and strain into a champagne flute. Top with prosecco and garnish with a lemon twist.

Crispy pizza crust: part two

Eggplant Parmesan_2

I applied the rolling-pin approach to my leftover pizza dough today. It’s definitely the way to go for a thin, crispy crust. I used my great old-fashioned wooden rolling pin. None of that silicone crap.

Crispy Crust

I cooked the crust first, as with before, and poked a few holes in the dough with a toothpick to prevent the giant balloon effect that I got before. Worked like a charm.

Then I topped it with pesto, minced garlic, some of my leftover fried eggplant, a tiny bit of shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan. I popped it under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

Then I sprinkled it with shaved parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes. It was SO good. Better than the eggplant parmesan panini, in fact.

All this pizza making has me eyeing this and this. Yet another couple of items to add to my kitchen tools wish list.

Eggplant Parmesan Pizza_9

Heaven on Crust: prosciutto, arugula and parmesan pizza

This, my friends, is pizza the way it was meant to be:

Prosciutto Arugula Parmigiano Pizza

I first tried this delicious combination in a small trattoria in Turino Italy.

The crust was thin, crispy and warm. The flavors and textures of the uncooked toppings mixed PERFECTLY together: paper-thin slices of rich, salty prosciutto, generous shavings of parmigiano-reggiano, crisp, peppery arugula, a drizzle of olive oil, and fresh ground pepper.

If I’m ever lucky enough to see a similar menu item stateside, I plead with my fellow diners to split it with me. Most people aren’t into it. Maybe the arugula and prosciutto turns them off. Or the fact that this isn’t anything close to what we Americanos think of as pizza. If you people only knew what you were missing!

Last night, while shopping at Trader Joe’s, I noticed pre-made pizza dough (for just $1.19!), prosciutto, parmesan cheese and arugula ALL IN THE SAME AISLE! Coincidence? I think not! OK, so the place is pretty tiny. But never mind that. I HAD to make this pizza.

Pizza dough


Parmesan shavings

Prosciutto, Arugula and Parmesan Pizza

You’ll need:

pizza dough (Trader Joe’s dough is awesome and cheap)

parmesan cheese, thinly shaved/sliced


extra-virgin olive oil


fresh ground pepper

First I prepared the dough. My first job was at Domino’s Pizza—I know what I’m doing here. The trick is to take the dough ball and press your fingers around edge while stretching it slightly with the other hand to form a crust. Keep the center dome-ish for now, like this:

Forming a crust with Pizza dough

Making a pizza crust

Then slap the dough between your hands to stretch it. Try a spinning toss if you’re feeling lucky. If the prospect of dropping your dough or ripping it in two makes you nervous, you can always roll it out with a rolling pin. But that’s not really my style.

Get the crust as thin as possible. Mine came out a little too thick for my liking. Come to think of it, a rolling pin may be just the trick. Darn.

Put the crust (hold your horses on the toppings) in a 475-degree oven on a sheet of tinfoil or a pizza stone. I purposely left my sheet pan out of the equation (it prevents cookies and the like from burning on the bottom), because I wanted a super crispy crust.

Once in the oven, my pizza crust ballooned without any toppings to keep it in check. I poked holes in it with toothpicks. Crisis averted. Try poking your dough with a fork before you put it in the oven.

When the crust was hard enough, I placed it directly on the oven rack for an extra crispy crust. I think it was in for about 15 minutes total, maybe a little less. Take it out when it looks like this:

Cooked Crust

Notice the conspicuous toothpick pricks? Now comes the fun part.

First, drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil.

Crust with olive oil

Now pile on your prosciutto.

Crust with prosciutto

Then comes the arugula.

Crust with Arugula

Sprinkle your parm shavings.

Parmesan crust

Now for one last drizzle of olive oil and a few turns of the pepper grinder.

Prosciutto Arugula Parmesan pizza

The marbling of the prosciutto makes this one a little difficult to cut, but it is SO worth the extra work.

Arugula Parmesan Prosciutto Pizza

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