#CampCampbell: Tasty Traditions

Two PhDs, a yarn expert, a circus performer, blogger, and a lawyer walk into an apartment….

Nope. Not the beginning of a hilarious joke (YET! Accepting any takers.) But it was the beginning of a night filled with some of the most interesting and inspiring ladies that I know (well, at least those that live in Philly. Maybe I’ll try to scoop some more distant buddies next time).

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it before, but I’m a member of a lovely network of women organized by Campbell Soup called Camp Campbell. It’s made up of women 18-34 who are passionate about food. Change makers and tasters and movers and shakers. Apparently, I qualify as one of those, so when they reached out to see if I wanted to host a fall dinner, I jumped on the opportunity. I invited a handful of inspirational women in my life, and we went back and forth with what to eat from the ingredients sent over. Although I received a generous box of Campbell family products, when I described them to the ladies, one option came out as clear.

Taylor ogles the spread

Taylor ogles the spread

PIZZA PARTY!

Prego Pizza Sauce, unknown to me before delivery, is part of the family often known only for their soups (and like…. a bunch of other brands. Learn something every day, right?)

PREGO: Not just for pasta anymore!

PREGO: Not just for pasta anymore!

Almost all the other stuff was brought and supplied by my buddies. And we were fully loaded. Prego, pesto, two crust types, sausage, salami, roasted vegetables, cheese far as the eye can see, spinach, pine nuts. SUCH GOURMET, am I right?? Not only are we inspirational. We keep it classy. Since my dear friend Susan let me bogart her home for the evening, I played cook.

Chef BoyarJay

Chef BoyarJay

Pizza a plenty

Pizza a plenty

And Ame brought the treats.

Ame's got dessert covered (she also brought the snickerdoodles)

Ame’s got dessert covered (she also brought the Snickerdoodles)

Despite most of the photos, though, the night was not only about pizza…

Dinner is served!

I mean, it was a lot about pizza.

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner and kicking off the holiday season, we decided to share some of our favorite traditions. From singing with wine to rotating hosts of Thanksgiving dinner to choosing who brings the novelty butter (you guys haven’t LIVED until you try some turkey-shaped butter) to putting together Thanksgiving hoagies the next day with all the leftovers, it wasn’t surprising that some of our best holiday memories revolve around food.

Since two 'zas is never enough

Since two ‘zas is never enough

But here’s the thing. Although I was provided some choice ingredients courtesy of Campbell’s, and I deeply appreciate that, the best thing that came from the night was not the food (despite the fact that the brussels sprouts pizza was off the chain).

The MVP(izza)

The MVP(izza)

The best part was the promise of a new tradition. These are women that I know from different walks of life. School, work, friends of friends. And they all came together, by my invitation, to dine. To dish. To gossip and reflect. And then, at the end, we were like “Wait. This was great. Let’s do it again around Hanukkah!”

So we will.

Sure, anyone can be a girl who grubs… but we’re going to be ladies who latke. And that can be our new tradition.

Mix Six Monday

You know, if all my Six Pack Sundays are written on Monday, are they still Six Pack Sundays?

Probably.  But let’s not cheat.  Instead, let’s eat.  Or at least run through all the tasty things that I ate this past week!!

1. Trader Joe’s Pizza Party!!

It's not delivery, it's TJs!

Last night, between four of us, we almost ate two entire doughballs worth of Trader Joe’s homemade pizzas! On this one: 4 cheese sauce, mozzarella, Italian sausage, and pepperoni. On the other (with the garlic & herb crust!): a “sauce” of butter, garlic, and some oil, mozzarella, pepper bacon from the AMISH, and tomato.  I couldn’t even control myself.  So flipping tasty, so easy, so fun.  Thank goodness for pizza stones!

2.  Saison du BUFF!

VICTORY!

Ok, I didn’t eat that guy. But I DID drink the beer resting on his hulking arm.  Saison du Buff (the Victory version).  Alas, the verdict was that I was not really a fan, though it kind of reminded me of a more bitter Fullsteam Summer Basil (of which I’m a HUGE fan.)  I’ll just have to try the other Saison du Buffs to see how the trio holds up.

(PS: Would you believe, the day before this shot was taken, this guy underwent major, invasive back surgery? Yeah, I think it was all a big hoax, too.  The most elaborate hoax that involved multiple doctors and a hospital stay.

He’s a trickster like that.)

3. Keeping it Green

Healthy! And BRIGHT!

I’m convinced that, if my eye was a DSLR (instead of an eye), I’d wanna eat veggies even MORE than I do now (which is pretty regularly).  Those roasted asparagus stalks look sexy beyond belief.  That salmon doesn’t look too bad, either.

Down, Jordan. No need to get all worked up…. you can recreate this dish another time.

4. Federal Donuts: More like Federal GO NUTS!!

Oh, Federal... you do donuts RIGHT!

Wait, did I forget to mention I went up to Philly  this weekend?

Because I did.  And I bought myself (and a few other people) some donuts. Not just any donuts, though.  Federal Donuts.

Sure, the store is itty bitty and, yes, I may have scratched my mom’s car pulling out of the impossible parking area when a garbage truck blocked me in.

But that’s okay, because these things are AMAZING!

Only open from 7am-3pm (weekdays) or 7pm (weekends), this joint regularly sells out of their scrumptious ‘nuts. And their hots (Appollonia, Indian Cinnamon, Vanilla Lavender) were amazing, but I also go to try two of their limited edition “Fancies”:

Root Beer Float
Root beer glaze with vanilla ice cream icing.

Gingersnap Cookie  (pictured above!)
Ginger glaze with gingersnap cookie crumb

GET THEE TO FEDERAL, STAT!!

But don’t drive a new car. Just walk.

5. Farmers Suck at Popping Corn

I’ll admit, I mostly bought this for the novelty.

Where's my corn cob pipe?

But this little cob produced a seriously disappointing amount of actual popcorn.  And for about $3, I feel a little ripped off. If I see that Kansas farmer any time soon, I’m gonna ask him for some more popcorn (especially if we’re in a movie theater.)

6.Not Bad, Fake Meat Producers… Not bad at all.

Top Notch Pulled "shreds"

Even though I’m eating meat again (a lot of it), I had a package of these Gardein pulled “shreds” leftover from the Pescatarian Lent.  Last week, I used them as the topper of a few of my salads…. I was pleasantly surprised! Yup, they’re loaded in carbs. But the sweet sauce ALMOST tricks you into thinking that you’re eating slightly bland pork.  That doesn’t sound glowing, I know, but seriously, I’d definitely get these again.

Tonight, I take my first water aerobics class (which may help to counteract some of that pizzabeershredsdonut bloat I’m feeling.

Are there any food “crazes” that you’re 100% behind?  Gourmet donuts could be my latest obsession.

Two Pizzas Are Better Than One: Buffalo Shrimp and BBQ Chicken

Here’s the honest truth: I’m a sauce boss.

At any point in time, in my refrigerator, there are enough products that could be used as sauce, marinade, dressing, and the like, it makes you wonder where I put it all. I guaranteed have more sauces than I do foods to cover with the sweet, liquid toppings, but that never seems to stop me from buying new ones.

I like my fries to be the side of my ketchup.

My pancakes should be able to swim in syrup.

My chips nearly drown in the salsa.

But here’s the clutch part of this story. Until Sunday evening, the only sauce I’d been using on my pizza…. is pizza sauce.  Occasionally in the form of marinara or Sockarooni (the favorite sauce of the Sugar Coated Sisters) but, honestly, I wasn’t getting too creative, pizza-wise.

Enter: Game Changers 1 and 2.

Big thanks to Ray and Ken

Two dinners made special thanks to Sweet Baby Ray’s and Ken’s Buffalo Wing Sauce.  Oh, and a special Harris Teeter deal on Whole Wheat Pizza Dough!

Single Girl Realization: One pizza dough ball = 2 beautiful pizzas for one!

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and get ready for some pie!  Add some parchment paper to your pan so you don’t need to clean up later (trust me on this one).

First up, a buffalo shrimp pizza.

Not my best photography... But one of my best pizzas.

I rolled out that dough the best as I could. Unfortunately, on night one, that means an oddly shaped pie.

Up next, I put a thin (THIN being the key word here) layer of the buffalo sauce on this doughy wonder. In the meantime, I took some pink shrimp and tossed it in some cajun spices and olive oil, to give it a little flavor. Chances are, I dramatically overcooked it. I wouldn’t recommend that step, but I’m new at this whole seafood-cooking thing.

Up next, I tossed the cooked shrimp in some buffalo sauce. I covered the sauce and dough in a thin layer of cheese, then added some sauteed spinach and tomato slices to the pie. Add the shrimp and a bit more cheese. Cook in the oven for… jeez, I’m not even sure. 12 minutes?  Just watch it carefully.

Hawk-like.

When the cheese is melted and the crust is golden, you’re ready for eating action.

Maybe shrimp and buffalo sauce isn’t your poison?

I got this.

Roll out dough ball number two. Chances are, you did a better job this time. I know I did.

That looks much more pizza-like!

Keep that oven preheated to 400, and hit up your chopping block to cut up some red onion (I guess another onion would be good. But I prefer red.) Chop this bad boy thin, try not to cry, and sautee it in some olive oil.  Wait until the pieces get all soft and tasty. This is the best way to enjoy an onion.

Add some more spinach (gotta keep it green), and, if you have some cooked chicken, add it. I happened to have had a can of chicken on me, and I added this.  It worked perfectly. The chicken sweated on the onions and the spinach soaked it all up. It was a romantic little get together.

Take that BBQ sauce and add a thin layer to the dough.

The BIGGEST recommendation I can give about ALL homemade pizzas is to push the toppings out to the very edge of the ‘za. I can’t stress this enough.

So make that sauce reach every last nook and cranny of your crust. Sprinkle some cheese, add the spinachonionchicken mix to the pie, and spread a bit more cheese over with a drizzle of BBQ sauce.

Cook it in the oven!! Follow the same instructions as the first one (i.e. no real instructions… just watch it carefully.)

Perfect pie!

Serve it on a plate in the shape of a slice of pizza.

That’s probably the most important instruction of all.

Wait. Don't eat the plate.

What’s your favorite dream pizza topping?

How about the sauce you use the most?