Recent Happenings including a few restaurant reviews and community events!

Happy Thursday, folks! I’m gearing up for FNCE (Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo) with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that will be going on this coming Saturday – Tuesday. So much to do before I leave! However, I was happy to see that some of the local publications I contribute to came out this week! My friend Cindy from NewlyWed Nutrition recently recruited me to help her with restaurant review for The Planet Weekly. Below is my first review of a local pizza place in Tuscaloosa.

broadway review

I also had my articles from Druid City Living pop up this week. Instead of focusing mainly on food, I was asked to help with some awesome community events happening this month and next…including a delicious Bacon and Brewfest and a fun Monster Makeover! Check out this month’s digital issue of Druid City Living to read the publication in its entirety.

 

baconandbrewfestDCL

monstermakeover DCL

 

What are you up to this weekend? Let’s swap some ideas!

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Movie Theater Popcorn and Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizzas

A happy Friday to all of you! I hope everyone has some great things planned for the weekend. Last night I had the opportunity to watch Divergent with my book club. If you’re a fan of young adult fiction, I do believe you’d really like this series. I could go on endlessly about how I feel about the third book and the way the series ended, but I’ll refrain. As not to spoil anything about differences between the movie and the book, I’ll refrain from any details other than saying that I really enjoyed the movie last night 🙂

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Due to a busy schedule before getting to meet my friends, I was a little panicked about what to eat. I knew I wanted movie theater popcorn but wasn’t sure how much I wanted it as my full-fledged dinner, especially since we weren’t watching the movie until 8 p.m. I had to give a presentation to a student group at 6:30 p.m. and had run out of packed snacks in my purse. The building that I was speaking in had a small food court, including a Pizza Hut Express. Now mind you, when you reach Defcon 1 overt hunger, you pretty much pick foods based on what smells good versus thinking things through and making a healthful choice. Enter the supreme personal pan pizza. I would have taken a picture right when I picked it up, but I was so hungry I forgot. After I ate one of the four individual slices, I decided to stop. I knew that popcorn and a personal pan pizza would not make the most pleasant situation in my stomach. I didn’t want to waste the pizza either, so after flattening the whole thing with a napkin to get the grease out, I stuck the pizza box in a brown paper bag and into my purse, making my way to my lecture. One of the students said I smelled like really good pizza. GREAT!

This the pizza AFTER it had been to the movie theater with me stuffed in my purse and AFTER I gave the dog part of one of the slices. Doesn't really look so appetizing 5 hours after I bought it....

This the pizza AFTER it had been to the movie theater with me stuffed in my purse and AFTER I gave the dog part of one of the slices. Doesn’t really look so appetizing 5 hours after I bought it…. (Excuse the photo quality or lack thereof!)

pizza hut

Moving on to the movie theater popcorn. Have you ever wondered what makes movie theater popcorn so delicious? It might be the fact that they cook it in coconut oil. After doing some research on the internet, I found that a lot of movie chains are going cheap on this end and going back to canola oil. I decided to call the corporate office of the theater chain I was attending to see what they use. The lady on the phone told me that they did indeed use coconut oil. There’s been a lot of concern about movie theater popcorn but honestly, if you haven’t had it in forever, then go ahead and enjoy it. I’ve been in a bad habit the past few years of woofing down a small popcorn, adding the pseudo butter topping, and then sprinkling some regular and peanut butter M&M’s in the bag (oh good golly it’s delicious). I decided to be a little more healthful in my decision and went with a medium diet coke and a small popcorn sans candy. Now granted I still had the pizza stuffed in my purse (yes gross, I know). When I got home from the theater, I realized I was so engrossed in the movie (and perhaps a particular movie character…) that I only ate about 1/4 of this bag. The only thing that’s a bummer is that “unfresh” movie theater popcorn kinda tastes gross.
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To put a little more perspective on how many calories, fat, and saturated fat (often from coconut oil used to pop corn which gives a better mouthfeel) in your golden buckets of pleasure, check out the graph from City Girl Bites
***Popcorn Size ↓ Calories Total Fat Saturated Fat
Kid’s with butter 470 37 22
Kid’s without butter (5 cups) 300 20 14
Large with butter 1640 126 73
Large without butter (20 cups) 1160 77 55
Medium with butter 910 71 41
Medium with butter 1220 97 56
Medium without butter (11 cups) 650 43 31
Medium without butter (16 cups) 900 60 43
Small with butter 630 50 29
Small without butter (7 cups) 400 27 19

Are you a movie theater popcorn lover or a personal pan pizza lover? What about a Divergent reader? Let’s sound off here boys and girls! 🙂


Cranberry, Chicken, and BRIE Pizza

Cranberry chicken and brie pizza

Cranberry, chicken, and brie pizza. All I have to say about today’s recipe is “OH MY DAD…THIS IS DELICIOUS!”  It’s almost not fair to put “…and Brie” in the recipe title especially since I have a love affair with this delicious cheese. If you’re a fan of baked brie with fruit preserves or the taste profile of savory and sweet in general, this is a recipe I would definitely recommend. It’s been about 3 years since I’ve made this particular pizza but after having some baked brie recently at one of my book clubs (shoutout to Sarah for being a fellow brie lover!) and my best friend Sally getting married next week (Sally first introduced me to this recipe around 2009) AND I wanted to make something different for dinner for my husband, this cranberry, chicken, and brie pizza seemed like a great (yummy) choice. I do want to mention that another reason I did this recipe is because I’d really like to do a recipe redux on this sometime…acknowledging the fact that brie is a high fat creamy cheese, this pizza would classify as something yummy every now and again (hence it being 3 years since I’ve made it 🙂 )

As far as chicken for this recipe goes, I really don’t think you could go wrong with whatever kind of chicken you use. If I had a leftover rotisserie, I would have probably opted to do that, but since I didn’t I decided to pick some raw breast up at the store. Some recipes I’ve seen in the past recommend buying two chicken breasts, cutting it up into cubes and then cooking stove top in a pan until done. My grocery store had a good deal on some chicken breast cutlets, thin sliced, so I added salt, pepper, and garlic powder (I really like the flavor the garlic powder brings in the chicken) on both sides of the chicken and then lightly brushed a layer of olive oil on the top to seal in the moisture to prevent this white meat from drying out while in the oven. You’ll noticed that there’s 4 pieces of chicken on my pan… by the time all was said and done, I actually only ended up using 2 pieces of chicken for the pizza.

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While my chicken was roasting I sliced up my brie… I used about 7 ounces based on the wedge I bought from the grocery store (o.47 lbs) but I think that you could get away with using less…about 6 oz or so.

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After my chicken was done I proceeded to cut it up into bite sized pieces.

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Since this was a last minute dinner idea, I didn’t have time to make my pizza dough from scratch and instead opted to use a Pillsbury pizza dough. Their dough calls for you to prebake it for 8 minutes prior to adding toppings.

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When you’re ready to add toppings, you’ll add about 1/2 -3/4 can of cranberry sauce…some recipes call for about 1 1/2 cups of cranberry sauce but I find that to be a little too much and can get watery very easily. You can also use your own cranberry sauce made from scratch 🙂

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Next add your brie and chicken… you’ll see that I probably could have gotten away with using less brie.

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We had a large bag of dried cranberries from Sams Club/Costco so I added a handful of those as well.

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Next you’ll top off your pizza with a little bit of Mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of dried Rosemary.

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You’ll follow your pizza crust’s baking instructions for the appropriate cook time…mine took an additional 13-14 minutes after the crust prebake.

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And tada! Pretty tasty and pretty simple 🙂 Below I’ve added the recipe for your use, and a Pinterest worthy picture for you to use to share the love 🙂

Cranberry, Chicken, and Brie Pizza

Ingredients
2 chicken breast cutlets, thin sliced (can also use about 1-1 1/2 cups of  any chopped chicken you have)
1 Pillsbury pizza crust (or your own recipe)
1-14oz can whole cranberry sauce or about 1-1 1/2 cups homemade cranberry sauce
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 oz Brie cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 Tb dried Rosemary
1 Tb garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees for chicken cutlets. On a foil lined baking sheet, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to both sides of chicken cutlets, brushing top of chicken with olive oil to seal moisture in- roast chicken for approximately 15 minutes or until 165 degrees internally. While chicken is cooking, slice Brie into bite sized pieces, followed by chopping chicken into bite sized pieces once cooked. Pre-bake Pillsbury crust by package directions at 425 degrees for about 8 minutes. After pre-bake, add cranberry sauce to crust— about 1/2-3/4 of the can. Next top with chopped chicken, brie, and dried cranberries. Sprinkle Mozzarella cheese and dried Rosemary on top. Bake for about 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Pizza Collage