the ice cream melts

In order to keep the promise to myself to update this collection of writing at least once a month, here is June 2011’s installment of what’s going on in my life.

June has flown by fast like the previous five months of this year so far, and I key this in during the last few hours of the last day of this month. With hope of not spending too much time updating you to be able to get the few items on today’s checklist complete before I call it a night, I will again attempt to keep this post short.

Almost effortlessly, I had three job interviews this month, none of which got me better employment with another company therefore amounting to a waste of my time. The first interview was almost successful, but something occurred on the company’s end that prevented me from getting the position. I’ll just say the person I was replacing didn’t want to be replaced after all. The company claimed to make a difference in people’s lives, and they definitely made a difference in mine.

The second interview was a subpar phone interview. I didn’t have what it took to nail the interview, and the person conducting the interview was a condescending jerk that clearly didn’t understand my email reply about not having all of the experience necessary but possessed the passion to earn it.

I nailed the third interview which was a phone interview as well but still ended up not getting the job. I’m under the impression that my status of being currently employed had a big influence on their decision, since I’m sure they needed to fill the position immediately. I am also happy to admit that I was overqualified for the position but was going for it to bring change to my day job existence.

So much for keeping this post short.

I saw a dentist for the first time in years. I bet it’s been over five years, closer to six or seven. I had a toothache for a whole week that rendered me almost useless for a few days. I would just work my eight hours then rush home to suffer the excruciating pain. The dentist referred me to an oral surgeon that extracted the tooth, my first adult tooth I’ve had to lose. I still have all of my wisdom teeth, but those will hopefully be pulled some time next year before they cause me any serious problems.

My eight-hour workdays have recently turned into ten-hour workdays. Purgatory has extended my shift, because they need my mad skills. Ha. I can’t really complain about getting a fatter check and the boost in income that I was seeking with those interviews that fell into my lap.

M&I went to San Antonio this past weekend to visit one of my best friends and his wife. We ate at Timbo’s for lunch then checked out the zoo. For dinner, we went to Big Lou’s Pizza to feast on their 42″ pie. Our party of seven was unfortunately unable to finish it, but I was able to consume my share. The pizza is delicious, and I would go back but maybe not get such a big pie unless we promise to dominate it.

I did have the dream of conquering the Four Horsemen burger at Chunky’s but decided against it after reading reviews on Yelp, hearing about the horror stories involving vomit, the questionable cleanliness of the restaurant itself, and the fact you get a barf bucket, the option of wearing gloves, have to sign a waiver, and have to pay 17 bucks if you don’t finish it. Maybe I’ll have the courage one day but maybe not.

I attempted my fifth victory of the Pluckers Fire In The Hole challenge earlier in the month. The wings were enormous on our visit, and the 50-piece we split actually had 56 pieces. The drummies were almost the size of regular drumsticks. Our defeat was a result of the amount of food and not the heat. This was my first failure for the challenge, but I will get on the South Lamar Wall of Flame one of these days.

We also tried a new wing bar called Wingzup that has a Ghost pepper wing sauce. Unfortunately, it’s made with Ghost chili powder, not fresh peppers. It was decently fiery, but no Fire In The Hole. The service was excellent. The food quality and presentation was stellar. They have a neat gimmick of serving beer in plastic towers with a tap at the bottom. We may return if we’re in the area. They gave us discount coupons, so that makes it even more desirable to return.

I am so relieved that my toothache has been eliminated as you can tell with all of the food talk you just read. The experience of suffering a toothache diminished my spirit, but that is behind me now.

Summer television programming is slowly making its way back into our lives. I’ll be hanging on to my current job that isn’t so bad for a while longer. Life is treating me well, and I will update this again some time next month. Peace out.

the sooner than later

I’m just trying to squeeze this quick post before midnight creeps up. The clock just hit 10:56pm and I’m just going to hit a few more keys or until 11pm at the latest.

We’re currently watching Zapped! right now. Prior to the movie, we ran errands for about five hours stopping at a few places. Then, I started on single player mode on Portal 2.

We ate a pizza topped with mushrooms, spinach, and garlic. We’ve had it before, and it was also tasty then. The deal was buy the frozen pizza and get a box of ice cream Drumsticks free with a coupon. Sold. Now I think it’s time to hit Publish and enjoy one. Peace out.

the costco margherita pizza

Why has ‘Za of the Week been on hiatus? Because Costco has tasty take&bake pizzas and their concession pizza rocks. Kinda but not really. We just haven’t been making homemade pizza lately, but Mare and I have been eying some of their pies that you take home and bake for a while now and actually took one home to try today.

It was tasty. The crust was a little bland versus their concession pizza, but the toppings were excellent: sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, shredded mozzarella, and fresh mozzarella on top of a layer of marinara.

They also have one for meat lovers that was stacked high with… meat! The standard cheese and pepperoni pizzas are also available. What’s great about the pepperoni pizzas is that they use the big slices of pepperoni that look like they belong on a sub.

Mare gave the margherita pizza an A. I recommend it. Costco take&bake 16-inch pizzas are the best ten-dollar pies you’ll find anywhere hands down and worth every penny.

the naan pizza

Late last month, Mare picked up some naan (pronounced ‘non’, not na-an) from Whole Foods, and we made some tasty pizzas with it.

These are naan pizzas topped with pineapple and red onion before they go in the oven. We made them just like we make our homemade pies with fresh dough, but no stretching needed to be done.

Here they are fresh out of the oven on the blazing hot pizza stone.

We experimented with an interesting topping combination: Canadian bacon and a sliced Granny Smith apple. You know how pigs are portrayed with apples in their mouths when they’re about to be eaten? It’s kind of like that but on a health kick scale.

The Canadian bacon/Granny Smith apple-topped naan pizzas after their ten minutes in the 400°F oven. They actually tasted delicious. The ham and apple compliment each other very well.

the ‘zas of may

Since it’s the last day of the month and I haven’t posting much lately, this will be the post that covers all of the homemade pizzas Mare and I made and enjoyed in May.

May 8th
Pepperoni & Canadian Bacon
A huge bubble formed in the middle and sent the toppings
sliding to the edges like lava flowing down a volcano.

May 15th
Canadian Bacon & Red Onion
This one turned out excellent.

May 24th
Canadian Bacon & Red Onion
A repeat of the previous week.

May 29th
Thick-sliced Pepperoni & Diced Portobello Mushroom
Very hearty and greasy delicious.

Unmentioned ingredients in descriptions and comments above:

  • Pizza dough
  • Homemade marinara
  • Shredded mozzarella and Italian cheese blends
  • Parmesan cheese to soak up any excess moisture and for sog prevention
  • Olive oil (extra virgin, both garlic-infused and plain) to grease the baking sheet

Baking directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place pizza on middle rack to bake for ten minutes.
  3. About five to six minutes into baking, rotate the pie 180° to help bake evenly. During the rotation, you can monitor any bubbles that may be forming. Simply poke them with a fork.
  4. After ten minutes, remove the pizza from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. A cooling rack will help the steam leave and make the crust firmer.
  5. Slice and enjoy!

the ‘za of the week (apr 13 – apr 19) + pizza recipe

This week’s ‘za was a Hawaiian-style pie topped with Canadian bacon and pineapple. This simple couple creates a unique flavor that Mare & I both enjoy.

Nothing complex went into this pizza, but I’ll go into a step-by-step process on making this pizza to beef up this post and because I have to constantly remind myself how to make ’em!

Modern Soapbox ‘Za of the Week Recipe

1. Brush a thin layer of garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil on a rectangular baking sheet.

2. Stretch the dough evenly to fit the baking sheet. Stretch it a little larger the baking sheet and push the edges up the inner sides of the sheet. The pie will shrink a little when it’s baked, so this will make it fit snug.

3. Spread about seven tablespoons of pizza sauce evenly on the crust.

4. Sprinkle a generous amount of parmesan on the pizza sauce to help soak up any extra moisture created by the sauce, cheese, and toppings.

5. Spread about a cup and a half of low-moisture part-skim mozzarella evenly over the pizza sauce.

6. Evenly spread your toppings. For this pie, the Canadian bacon and pineapple were the toppings. When using canned toppings such as the pineapple, make sure to drain them very well. This will keep the crust from getting soggy.

7. Sprinkle about half to three-fourths of a cup more of mozzarella over the pizza to seal those toppings in.

8. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

9. Once the oven is preheated, place the pizza in the middle rack and bake for ten minutes. Rotate the pie 180° about halfway through the baking time to bake the crust evenly.

10. After ten minutes, remove the pizza and allow it to sit for about a minute. Then, transport it off the baking sheet onto a cooling rack to let the pie to crisp as it cools.

11. Move the pie onto a cutting board, slice it, and enjoy!

This pie had some extra dark spots, but I think it was caused by thin cheese spots. Remember to spread that cheese evenly and sprinkle it on thick to prevent those extra dark spots!

We also warmed up some focaccia like we did last time. All we did was brush some garlic-infused olive oil on both sides of the bread, sprinkled some parmesan and a blend of Italian seasonings, and baked it right after the ‘Za of the Week for four minutes.

The after photo doesn’t look much different, but you’ll notice the bread became more golden and the parmesan baked up as well.

We served this and the ‘za with a romaine and feta salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. This was a deluxe meal that Mare & I always enjoy.

the ‘za of the week (apr 6 – apr 12)

We missed ‘Za of the Week last week, because we had other dining plans. This week, we kept it simple again. This pie was topped with sliced pepperoni and fresh mushrooms.

To save some space in these posts, I’m going to be fusing the before and after photos into one image. This will also allow you to see a side-by-side comparison of fresh ingredients ready to go into the hot oven and the result after it’s been baked to perfection.

We also warmed up a store-bought loaf of plain focaccia. To add some flavor to it, we brushed our garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil on it and sprinkled an Italian blend of seasoning and some grated parmesan.

The focaccia had a fluffy texture and tasted so good hot out of the oven. I placed the loaf in the oven heated at 450°F right after the pizza finished for about 4½ minutes.

We also had a tasty bag of Parisian salad that we picked up over the weekend. The bag had a mix of green leaf lettuce, frisée, radicchio, and julienne carrots. It also came with salad toppings that added an extra level of flavor. These toppings were: feta cheese, dried cherries, and frosted almonds. We dressed the salad in a raspberry vinaigrette which complimented our baked goods very well.

Lately, we’ve been on a bit of a health kick eating mostly soup and salads. I think ‘Za of the Week will be shifting to a bi-weekly schedule rather than weekly.