Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad

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I know, I know. Another ‘pizza’ themed recipe. I’m sure it’s kinda getting to be overkill at this point, right?

Well just bear with me one more time. This’ll be the last ‘pizza-style’ recipe I share for a while (at least I THINK it will. I may change my mind about that), and it really was too good NOT to share with you all in the case that you hadn’t heard of it before.

Does pizza have a flavor? I don’t mean the individual ingredients themselves, I mean the actual dish of pizza in and of itself- does it have a specific taste and flavor all on it’s own?

I think so. I mean, I sure can pick out a particular smell at my job and immediately think, “Someone here ordered pizza.”

Then I stick out my bottom lip and kick an imaginary rock because somebody has pizza and they’re not sharing it with me.

I don’t care if it’s just one of the $5 Hot-N-Readys from Little Caesars. When you’re at work and you smell pizza, ANY kind of pizza smells and looks good. And when you don’t get any, you just get in a really rotten mood, then turn back to your crappy food that you brought from home and tell yourself that it tastes just as good. (It definitely doesn’t. Very few things taste as good as pizza.)

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I decided to make this dish purely out of curiosity. I thought it sounded like a good idea, but wasn’t exactly sure if pasta salad- that most famous dish of cookouts that’s usually just seasoned with a bottle of Italian dressing, could actually taste like the ‘flavors’ of a pizza. As it turned out, it really did because the first thing that came out of mouth when I took a bite of this was, “Heh. It tastes like pizza.” (i.i, delicious)

Although the title of this recipe is Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad, I think you should really just adapt it for yourself, and throw whatever you eat on your pizza, into this salad. Supreme Pizza is just what I like, so I used the toppings, plus some roasted red peppers that I roughly chopped up.

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Well, I kinda take that back. There are some rules that go with this when it comes to add-ins. You have to put pepperoni in this- even if you don’t like it on your pizza. And if you don’t like pepperoni on your pizza, then you’re dead to me.

Also, if by some horrible error of your tastebuds in fooling you into believing that you like things like anchovies or black olives on your pizza, then you shouldn’t add them in here either. They’re both disgusting. They’ll ruin the dish.

I’m taking this dish to this week’s Fiesta Friday #28, hosted by  Margot and Saucy.  Give it a shot,  it’s quick, easy, and tastes like pizza: what more do you want from me? 😉

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And now, because I’ve run out of things to say and am too lazy to try and think of anything else to discuss: some completely random facts I hunted down just for you guys.

  • It takes the “Where’s Waldo” artist one month to complete a drawing. (Yeah, I can definitely buy that. I have no idea how that guy can make so detailed drawings that, save for the one itty bitty space where Waldo is hiding, are wholly insignificant. Great talent.)
  • Oprah Winfrey earns $315,000,000/year = $26,000,000/month = $6,000,000/week = $850,000/day = $35,000/hr = $600/minute = $10/sec! (I don’t know whether to be really happy about this because Oprah represents such a Cinderella story, or really depressed because my yearly salary is what she makes in an hour and a half.)
  • Make a fist with your left hand, squeeze your left thumb and then put your right index finger down your throat. “NO GAG REFLEX” (OMG, guys, I actually tried it, and it worked! #MINDBLOWN)

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Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad

Recipe Adapted from Rachael Ray

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 8 fresh white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 stick pepperoni, casing removed and cut into a small dice
  • 1 (9.6 oz) bag of pre-cooked sausage crumbles
  • 20 leaves fresh basil, torn or thinly sliced
  • 1 pound rotini pasta, cooked to al dente and cooled under cold water, then drained

Dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves or Italian dried seasoning
  • 1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, eyeball it
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

 Directions

1. Combine tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, peppers, pepperoni, mozzarella, basil and pasta in a big bowl.

2. Whisk garlic salt, oregano or Italian seasoning, tomato paste and vinegar together. Stream in extra-virgin olive oil while continuing to whisk dressing.

3. When oil is incorporated, pour dressing over pasta salad, add a few grinds of black pepper to the bowl. Add the parmesan cheese, then toss salad to coat evenly. Adjust your seasonings and serve salad.

S’mores Brownies

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People ask me all the time:

“What do YOU like to cook?”

“What’s YOUR favorite recipe?”

“What’s the best thing you’ve ever made?”

And that’s why I’m here now. Not only to show you what I love to cook…but how YOU can make it too.

Okay. Maybe I swiped that little intro from the Food Network show, “The Best Thing I Ever Made.” (Great show, by the way. I wish they’d put out more new episodes of that and “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” instead of the ‘game shows’ they keep just throwing at the wall and hoping that they’ll stick.) But it really is true that people do ask me those kinds of questions, especially when they find out that I have a food blog. I also get asked a lot of random questions about ingredients, dishes, recipes and other cooking related subjects that people need help with in their kitchens- like I’m the resident Julia Child, or something. It’s flattering, and most of the time, I really can give some kind of helpful advice.

But there is the left-field query that I have absolutely no clue how to answer-to which I quickly give an off the cuff reply based upon the .2 seconds I’ve had to actually consider it. Then I say a silent prayer that the advice  I’ve given won’t result in a ruined dish or in them burning their house down.

Don’t act like you haven’t done it too.

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But seriously though, the question “What’s the best thing you’ve ever made?” has always kinda been difficult for me to answer. The truth is, I’m a fan of ALL the food I cook, because I cook the way that I would like to eat. Pinpointing one or two dishes among them as favorites makes me draw a blank…

Most of the time.

Every once in a while, I’ll try out a new recipe and right after I try that first bite, I will LITERALLY let an audible “Oh my GOD!” slip out of my mouth out of sheer shock and disbelief of the nirvana that’s happening in my mouth. Sometimes, I do make a dish that is literally so delicious, so supremely perfect, that I just can’t believe it.

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These brownies were one of those dishes. It all started innocently enough. My older sister asked me to make her some brownies. Then my twin sister asked me to make her some. Then my Dad’s birthday came up and he wanted some. Well, since everyone was getting their own variations of brownies, I decided that I was getting left out, and thus  deserved some of my own too. Am I right? Am I RIGHT?

S’mores is one of my favorite ‘flavors’; I’ll eat it in just about any form. The thought of putting it in a brownie seemed like a tasty idea, so I clashed together a couple of ideas I’d seen on Food Network and the Rachael Ray magazine, and ended up with this dish of brownies.

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Guys.

I wasn’t prepared. I really wasn’t.

After I put that first bite in my mouth, it was suddenly like everything around me stopped. The world was on pause, and suddenly it was just me and the most flawless brownie I’ve ever had in my life. I actually think my eyes may have rolled back a little bit. Nothing else mattered. Every other brownie I’d had up to that point ceased to exist- they were just cheap imitations of the word.

I don’t know how to pick out what I love the most about these: the brownie itself is just so perfectly thick and balanced, with just enough chew to distinguish it from chocolate cake (boo for ‘cake brownies’), but not so dense that it’s like fudge (I don’t like overly rich brownies). It’s a perfect base for the other ingredients. The graham cracker crust on the bottom gives a texture to the smoothness of the brownies and is a wonderful ‘vanilla flavored’ compliment to the chocolate flavor of the brownie. And the marshmallows? Don’t get me started. They’re the sweet, gooey glue that gives the whole thing that campfire S’mores authenticity. Put together, they’re literally one of the best things I’ve eaten. No joke.

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The last time that I made the recipe for My Grandma’s Banana Pudding, my twin sister Jas said that it was so good that it almost made her want to start dancing. For some reason, that compliment really stuck with me- and not just because it buffed my ego. I started thinking about how interesting it was that food can literally give someone so much satisfaction and happiness that they want to start dancing. The more I thought about it, the more awesome I realized that was. Later for all these people that are demonizing certain foods as ‘bad’ or something we should be ashamed of for enjoying. Nowadays the world is filled with so much evil and unhappiness that I believe that we should grab onto all the things and people that make us happy and just embrace the heck out of it. 

If something that you cook for someone has the power to make them so happy they wanted to start dancing- then I say, make it. Spread some of that happiness around….even if it’s for yourself.

 I’m a huge fan of the Pharrell Williams song from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, “Happy”. To me, this song is just all kinds of awesome. I was listening to it the other day as I was writing this post and I suddenly had what I think is a pretty good/fun idea for the blog. From now on, whenever I post a recipe like these S’mores Brownies or My Grandma’s Banana Pudding– recipes that just make me, or the people in my life literally feel so ‘happy’ that we want to dance, I’ll be tagging the post with the Happy Stamp below. I also intend on creating a new section for it in my Recipe Index and updating it for the recipes that I’ve posted thus far. That way, anytime you guys need to find a recipe to cook that’s been tested and guaranteed to spread some happiness to a loved one, or even to yourself, you can find it here 😉

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S’mores Brownies

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine & Rachael Ray Magazine

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups, crushed graham crackers
  • 1 stick, plus 6 tbsp  butter, separated
  • 3/4 cup, plus 3 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 whole square graham cracker

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang. Coat the foil with cooking spray.

2. Mix the crushed graham crackers, 6 tbsp melted butter, 3 tbsp sugar together and press onto the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden, about 8 minutes; cool.

3. Melt 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips and 1 stick butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring. Off the heat, whisk in 3/4 cup each light brown sugar and granulated sugar; cool slightly.

4. Whisk in 4 eggs, one at a time, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

5. Stir in 1 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread in the pan. Bake for 45 minutes.

6. Remove brownies from oven and turn on broiler. Spread marshmallows and milk chocolate chips  over top of brownies and place back in oven. Bake until marshmallows melt and just begin to brown, about 1 minute.

7. Break whole graham cracker into shards. Remove brownies from oven and press graham cracker pieces into melted marshmallows.

8. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes.  Run hot water over a metal knife to make slicing the brownies easier and less messy.