Pizza

Sausage, Manchego, and Pepper Pizza

My pizza obsession is getting out of control. I’ve been making my own pizza for a while but lately I’ve taken to eating box after box of frozen pizza. Um, I can’t help it. Don’t judge. It’s easy, inexpensive and it tastes so good with beer on a Friday night. Hey – I don’t have a sophisticated palate. My only saving grace is that I’ve kept myself from picking up the phone and having pizza delivered. So, while I’m fooling myself into thinking that eating frozen pizza is better on my waistline (it is to a degree), I know I’m even better off making my own pizza at home where I can control the ingredients. So, here we are with this Sausage, Manchego, and Pepper Pizza I made recently.

Refrigerated pizza dough is glazed with a tasty topping of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and oregano and then topped with chicken sausage, manchego cheese, and fresh yellow bell peppers. A little sprinkling of red pepper flake adds a kick at the end. I was able to portion out this pizza and save some for the next couple days rather than eating the whole thing in one sitting (not that I ever do that – ha!). The balsamic vinegar adds enough flavor to keep this pizza from being bland which sometimes can happen with tomato-less pizzas. The sausage was hearty and the yellow pepper adds a bright, slightly sweet burst. I loved this pizza but that is no surprise. I think I love all pizza. Even the pizza I don’t eat. I heart it.

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Place the dough in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; pierce liberally with a fork. Microwave at HIGH 10 seconds. Discard plastic wrap. Combine garlic, 2 teaspoons oregano, oil, and vinegar in a small bowl.

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Roll pizza dough on a lightly floured surface.

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Carefully remove pizza stone or baking sheet from oven. Sprinkle cornmeal over pizza stone; arrange dough on stone. Brush dough evenly with oil mixture; top with sausage, bell pepper, and cheese.

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Bake at 450°F for 13 minutes or until edges are browned. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon oregano and crushed red pepper.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Basil

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Pita Pizzas with Kale Pesto, Tomatoes, and Bacon

Pita pizzas…you are my savior. I’ve been trying so hard lately to track my food which means watching my calories and everything I eat. This can be tough when you have a food blog but the real key (as they always say) is portion control. I don’t know about you but it’s hard for my to control myself around pizza. There is a thin crust frozen pizza at my grocery store that I have eaten all by myself in one sitting before…more than once. Not good. My new obsession: pita pizzas. Specifically, these Pita Pizzas with Kale Pesto, Tomatoes, and Bacon.

Whole-wheat pitas are the base of these personal-sized pizzas which are topped with a bright kale and basil pesto, tomatoes, and bacon. With both Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and a light dusting of nuts, this pizza is packed with flavor and perfectly portion controlled. The pesto is the real star. Making pesto out of kale is a perfect way to get a ton of flavor into this nutrient-rich vegetable. I’ll admit, I made this pizza nearly everyday for lunch last week until I ran out of pitas. Any leftover pesto was eaten with eggs at breakfast and on top of roasted chicken at dinner. I couldn’t get enough of it. The pesto – and the pizza – is a real winner.

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Place a baking sheet in oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. (Keep baking sheet in oven as it preheats.) Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add kale; cook 1 minute. Drain and plunge kale into ice water. Drain; squeeze excess liquid from kale.

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Place kale, basil leaves, 2 tablespoons nuts, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, and garlic in a food processor. Process until chopped. Add 1 tablespoon water, juice, and salt; pulse 5 times. With processor on, slowly pour oil through food chute; process until well blended.

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Spread about 2 tablespoons pesto over each pita. Top evenly with tomatoes and bacon. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses; top evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon nuts. Remove pan from oven; place pitas on pan.

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Bake at 400°F for 12 minutes or until crust is browned and crisp.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Slivered almonds
  • Turkey bacon

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Pesto Tartlets

I told myself that as of this last birthday, I was going to start eating better and really focusing on healthier eating.  The reality is, when I eat healthier, I actually feel better (duh…who knew?!).  But I know this healthier lifestyle will take some time and let’s face it, when you have a food blog, it’s not really that easy sometimes. Well, I made these Pesto Tartlets last weekend and because they are made with puff pastry, they may not be the healthiest things in the world but they are not really the worst for you either.

Puff pastry is topped with bright grape tomatoes and baked before being topped with fresh burrata (or mozzarella) and an arugula pesto.  The pesto is made with arugula, parmesan, garlic, olive oil and vinegar and has different kick than regular basil pesto.  I used about half of the olive oil called for and my pesto was plenty flavorful with a perfect consistency so use your judgement with how much oil you use. The crust is buttery, the grapes are juicy, the pesto is vibrant and the cheese is creamy which makes this tartlet a little slice of heaven.  This pesto also tastes great with pasta or chicken so save any leftovers. Looks like I’m eating fruit the rest of this week.

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In food processor, puree arugula, Parmesan, olive oil, vinegar and garlic; season.

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Put puff pastry on parchment- lined baking sheet; pierce with fork. Top with tomatoes; season. Bake at 425 degrees until crisp, 15 minutes.

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Top with burrata and pesto.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Fresh mozzarella cheese

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine

Pear, Blue Cheese, and Bacon Pizza

Pizza, pizza, pizza. We get pizza every Friday in our office and most Fridays, I skip it and grab take out from the vendor on the corner. For someone who loves pizza, sometimes I can’t bring myself to eat plain old cheese pizza. It’s my favorite but some days, I just can’t do it. I loved the idea of this different no-tomato style pizza, Pear, Blue Cheese, and Bacon Focaccia-Style Pizza. Okay, I admit my pizza dough isn’t “focaccia-style” because I take short cuts when it comes to pizza dough. Yes, I know I can make it myself and yes, I know it will probably taste better. But let’s face it, when I want pizza, I’m not waiting hours for dough to rise. Get in my belly!

Cooked bacon (in typical fashion, I used turkey bacon), red onions and blue cheese are layers over creamy ricotta mixed with a little nutmeg for extra flavor. After baking in the oven, the pizza is topped with thin Bosc pear slices and vibrant arugula. There are so many layers of flavor in the pie. For someone who never used to eat blue cheese, I found myself enjoying the bites with blue cheese the best (I used Gorgonzola) and wished I had used more. Not feeling pears during the summer? Juicy peaches would be a great substitute. If you are having a lazy weekend day and want to make your own dough, go for it. Please let me know what I’m missing out on.

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Cook bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon. Return pan to medium heat. Add onion to drippings; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

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Combine ricotta and nutmeg in a small bowl. Spread ricotta mixture over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border; top evenly with bacon, onion mixture, and blue cheese. Brush edges of dough with remaining 1 teaspoon oil.

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Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until edges are golden. Top pizza evenly with arugula and pear; sprinkle with pepper.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Phyllo Pizza with Feta, Basil, and Tomatoes

I have to tell ya, I’m really getting into this pizza on Fridays thing.  And since I’ve been trying all different kinds of pizzas, I’m used to eating pizza that doesn’t have a lick of tomato in it at this point.  But now I’m resorting to making a pizza that doesn’t even use pizza dough?  Who am I?  The great thing about phyllo dough is it can easily be used in both sweet and savory dishes (à la Baklava and Spanakopita) so why not make it the basis of a pizza?  This Phyllo Pizza with Feta, Basil, and Tomatoes does just that perfectly.

Sheets of phyllo dough are layered with a combination of mozzarella, Parmesan, and feta cheeses and topped with slices of fresh tomatoes, basil and scallions. Fragrant oregano gives this pizza a traditional Italian herby feel while the phyllo and feta keep it grounded with classic Greek flavors.  A simple pizza with nothing more but tomatoes and basil is always going to be a hit to me but the addition of phyllo and feta here make it extra special.  Don’t worry if you get confused by the directions like I did, just layer the cheese and phyllo sheets and even if you mess it up, it’ll still taste perfect.  This pizza is a real winner!

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The ingredients:

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Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine mozzarella, feta, Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl.

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Cut phyllo sheets in half crosswise. Working with 1 phyllo sheet half at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), place phyllo sheet on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat phyllo sheet with cooking spray. Repeat with 2 more layers of phyllo.

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Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture. Repeat layers 5 times, ending with 2 phyllo sheets.

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Coat top phyllo sheet with cooking spray; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture. Pat tomato slices with a paper towel. Arrange tomato slices on top of cheese, leaving a 1-inch border.

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Sprinkle with onions and the remaining 6 tablespoons cheese mixture. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes or until golden.

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Sprinkle with basil leaves.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Reduced-fat mozzarella

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

Barbecue Chicken and Smoked Gouda Pizza

A new brewery/restaurant opened near my house over the summer and it is now my favorite place to go because of a) the proximity to my house (I can walk there!) b) the beer is good and c) the food is fantastic.  So far, one of my favorite items I’ve eaten there was a barbecue chicken pizza with smoked Gouda, green pepper, red onion, and bacon (which I 86’d).  Being a lover of smoked Gouda, I decided I could easily try to make something similar in my own kitchen.  The result was this Barbecue Chicken and Smoked Gouda Pizza.

At the time I made this, I couldn’t remember what the restaurant included in their pizza so I didn’t include any veggies of any kind but you could easily add on anything you like here.  Since you could put smoked Gouda on a piece of cardboard and I would probably eat it, it’s no surprise I love this pizza. And barbecue chicken? I mean, come on, really? What’s not to like?  Since I used store-bought pizza dough and pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, this pizza came together in a flash.  With so many different kinds of barbecue sauces out there, you can get as creative as you want. I used plain old basic barbecue sauce but a spicy or mesquite barbecue sauce would be excellent here too.

Barbecue Chicken and Smoked Gouda Pizza (6-8 servings)

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons store-bought barbecue sauce
  • 8 oz. shredded cooked rotisserie chicken or precooked chicken strips, chopped (such as PERDUE® SHORT CUTS® Carved Chicken Breast)
  • 2/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 package store-bought pizza dough
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro, basil or parsley for topping, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Unroll pizza dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake according to package directions, approximately 8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine shredded chicken with 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce until chicken is lightly coated. Spoon remaining barbecue sauce onto pizza crust and spread evenly. Top with shredded chicken and red onion (if using).  Sprinkle shredded smoked Gouda over chicken, followed by shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Top with chopped cilantro, basil or parsley (if preferred).

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The ingredients:

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Unroll pizza dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake according to package directions, approximately 8 minutes.

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Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine shredded chicken with 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce until chicken is lightly coated. Spoon remaining barbecue sauce onto pizza crust and spread evenly. Top with shredded chicken and red onion (if using).

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Sprinkle shredded smoked Gouda over chicken, followed by shredded mozzarella cheese.

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Bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Top with chopped cilantro, basil or parsley (if preferred).

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Sausage, Fennel, and Ricotta Pizza

I’ve been on a little bit of a pizza binge lately.  Whether it’s greasy takeout pizza, frozen pizza or homemade pizza, I’m all about it.  Earlier this year, I was in the habit of coming home on Fridays after work, throwing a frozen pizza in the oven, popping open a beer or two and settling in to watch Grimm with the lights off.  Yes, it’s sad, I don’t go out on Fridays.  By the time work is over for the week, I’m exhausted and look forward to a Friday night at home.  Well, now that Grimm starts again tonight, I’m right back into old habits except this time, I’m challenging myself to make a different pizza each week instead of those inexpensive frozen pizzas I’m used to having (no matter how much I love them!). This Sausage, Fennel, and Ricotta Pizza was no disappointment.

Refrigerated pizza crust is topped with browned turkey sausage, thin fennel slices, and dollops of creamy garlic-laced ricotta. Red pepper flakes and fennel seeds are scattered over the whole pie before it is baked until golden and crispy. This pizza uses fennel 3-ways: in the sausage, fresh from the bulb and the seeds. I have decided I’m obsessed with fennel. I’ve used fennel before in soups and other recipes but this pizza really stands out to me as a way to really celebrate fennel’s unique flavor. If you haven’t used a fresh fennel before, this is a great way to try it.  The slices get soft when baking and the flavor mellows out perfectly. Of course, if you really aren’t into fennel bulb, you can leave it out: the fennel seeds provide perfect flavor alone.  Pizza and beer sounds like the perfect way to spend a Friday night to me.

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The ingredients:

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Preheat oven to 500° (keep pizza stone or baking sheet in oven as it preheats). Let pizza dough stand at room temperature, covered, while oven preheats. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casing from sausage. Add sausage to pan; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring to crumble. Add fennel bulb; cook 4 minutes or until tender.

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Roll pizza dough into a 16-inch oval on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle cornmeal over pizza stone or pizza pan; place dough on pizza stone or pan. Brush dough evenly with oil. Sprinkle sausage mixture evenly over dough, leaving a 1-inch border.

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Combine ricotta and garlic in a small bowl; top pizza with teaspoonfuls of ricotta mixture.

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Sprinkle red onion and remaining ingredients evenly over pizza.

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Bake at 500° for 11 minutes or until golden. Cut into 8 slices.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Red onion

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

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