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Roasted Vegetable Pizza
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Roasted Veggie Pizzas
So I went to my first yoga class Tuesday night.  It was kind of a big step for me.  An act of courage, of internal bravery.  OK I’ll be honest; I was freaking nervous as all get-out.  I had done a weeee bit of yoga at home before but doing this “omg I have to stretch my leg how?” thing in a room full of complete strangers and the thought of it induced a near-meltdown inside me.  I knew going in that in the midst of a group of people, I couldn’t just give up if it seemed too hard, if a half hour was enough, like I would have done and have done at home where turning off the dvd is an option.

And you know what?  I got through it.  I teased on Instagram that night that I didn’t puke or didn’t pull any muscles (indicating success for me) but I was really proud of myself.  You know why?  Because half an hour into the class, I foolishly looked at the clock and mentally patted myself on the back for making it to the halfway point.

Then another half hour passed and the “oh my ever-loving gawd [don’t forget, I am from New York], this class is an hour and a half long, not just an hour” reality set in.  Sweaty chubby-girl-in-yoga-pants (hi! that’s me) panic proceeded where clear thoughts and deep breathing should have been.  But dammit if I wasn’t making it through that whole class.  I powered on, albeit sheepishly weak and slightly wobbly by that point, and finished.

Roasted Veggie Pizzas
This class, just like this roasted vegetable pizza was a step in the right direction in the middle of a meatless January for me.  Put simply, we loooved these mini-pizzas.  Made with leftover tortillas, some of my favorite Italian cheeses, and a heaping mound of roasted vegetables, we devoured this meal twice in the course of a week.  They are a cinch to through together, especially if you’ve got leftover roasted vegetables hanging around, and could be served as dinner with soup or a salad or as a light lunch on their own.  I’m adding this meal to our regular rotation and will be adding regular yoga classes to my workout schedule.  My muscles will eventually forgive me for Tuesday night.  I hope.

 

Margherita Pizza
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Sometimes deciding on what to make with the overwhelming number of tomatoes that we have is the easiest thing in the world.  And by overwhelming, I mean: so many tomatoes that they are practically yanking the tomato cages out of the ground as the plants lean with the weight of the tomatoes.  So we plucked a few San Marzanos, diced and hand-crushed them and then made a pizza.  A simple homemade pizza of crushed tomatoes as the “sauce”, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil.  Dinner seriously does not get any better than this one!  Who’s with me when I say that I’m going to desperately miss summer vegetables when they are gone?

Steak, Shaved Asparagus, and Gorgonzola Pizza
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Lately, I feel like my brain has been working in overdrive.  Since moving, I’ve been working on changing a few things around here.  Where dishes used to sit in the sink for a day (or two…ok, I’m being generous here), a little extra conscientiousness and some rubber gloves go a long way.  Laundry gets folded within 2 days of being washed.  My commute is an extra 10 minutes in the morning now and I’m busting my butt every morning to get to my new job on time.  I’m chronically late for just about everything in my life and frankly, I’m tired of feeling like I’m always stopping to catch my breath, literally and figuratively.

I hate my shortcomings.  I know I’m not a fabulous “housewife” but I know I’m able to make lots of other contributions to our little family aside from just my paycheck.  Like this pizza.  Thinly sliced flank steak, shaved asparagus, crumbled Gorgonzola, and a béchamel sauce base.  It’s pretty much the best [non-breakfast] pizza we’ve eaten in ages.  And it really came about because in my typical frazzled manner one morning a few weeks ago, I forgot to take the pork chops out of the freezer for dinner.  I called Kyle at home to take them out (he was off from work that day) and I came home that afternoon to find thawed flank steak.  Silly boy.

So out of my stewing about the flank steak not being pork chops, I wrapped my brain around the idea of this pizza.  And since I’m not one to toot my own horn [too often], I’ll just say that you’ll thank me after making this.  Set atop your favorite pizza dough (this is ours – I really need to blog this recipe), you’ll love how the ingredients all come together almost as if it’s a dinner at a pricey steakhouse.  The flank steak is tender, the fresh asparagus adds a little bitterness, the Gorgonzola (and some mozzarella) melts all over just like a decadent Gorgonzola sauce over filet mignon, and the béchamel sauce base is rich and silky.  Basically, it’s perfection.

Steak, Shaved Asparagus, and Gorgonzola Pizza

Ingredients

    For the bechamel sauce:
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • For the pizza:
  • 1/2 batch pizza dough
  • 8 - 10 oz flank steak, cooked medium and sliced thin across the grain
  • 6 asparagus stalks, shaved lengthwise with a vegetable peeler
  • 3 oz crumbled Gorgonzola
  • 6 oz mozzarella, shredded
  • Cornmeal

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 500° F with a clean pizza stone on the center rack of the oven for 30 minutes.
  2. To make the bechamel sauce: Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Toss in the garlic and bring the milk to a simmer, stirring frequently until it begins to bubble and coats the back of a spoon, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the garlic and off the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  3. To assemble and bake the pizza: Once the stone is properly heated, roll the pizza dough out to a 14-inch circle on a well-floured surface. Sprinkle some cornmeal on a pizza peel or wood cutting board and transfer the dough round to the peel or board. Spread the sauce out over the pizza and sprinkle on half of the mozzarella cheese. Lay the steak on the cheese in one layer, spread the shaved asparagus out over the steak, sprinkle on the remaining mozzarella, and add the Gorgonzola.
  4. Remove the stone from the oven and sprinkle some cornmeal on the stone; carefully transfer the pizza to the stone. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Allow the pizza to cool on the stone for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Source

source: Smells Like Home original, sauce adapted from Spinoccoli Pizza

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http://www.smells-like-home.com/2012/05/steak-shaved-asparagus-and-gorgonzola-pizza/

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Pizza
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In 1988, my parents bought a boat.  Overall, the boat served us well (in spite of all the money they sunk into it, no pun intended – you know how having a boat goes) and we spent many a weekend for the better part of 10 or 12 summers crammed into my parents’ 25-footer at our favorite little beach on Fire Island.  Like camping, feeding a family on a small boat requires a good bit of planning; refrigeration is limited (think dorm-size fridge) or sometimes non-existent except for ice in coolers and if the beach/marina you’re staying at even has water available, your hook-up is done through a garden-like marine hose plugged into the side of the boat.  Our showers were made possible by a sun shower that we’d let heat up on the dock all day then hang up on a nail in one of the stalls of the public bathroom to wash away the sand, salt, and sunscreen.

In a semi-distant but totally comforting way, this bacon, egg, and cheese pizza reminds me of Sunday mornings at the beach.  For the most part, my mom packed food for breakfast – our electric griddle was king – but on a rare Sunday, after giving in to our pleading and whiny voices (dad included), she would allow my dad (as we were always on a budget) to hit up the snack bar for freshly made-to-order egg sandwiches.  He practically floated down the dock on the smell of cooking bacon and sausage wafting over the marina like a cartoon character drawn to his favorite food.  Those sandwiches were rare, special, and so satisfying.

This breakfast pizza, being all of those sentiments, admittedly was Kyle’s idea.  He gets me.  He knows that I find it virtually impossible to find a decent freshly made egg sandwich sandwich (i.e., not microwaved – gross) anywhere near our home.  This pizza idea is the brainchild of observing my frustrations all these years and it encompasses all that I [we] love in an excellent egg sandwich.  Plus?  It’s pizza.  So yeah, two of my favorite foods wrapped up in one little package.  Like I said, he gets me.

As with any pizza or egg sandwich, feel free to add whatever toppings you want.  We went for bacon, Monterey Jack, sautéed onions and peppers, and a whole bunch of fresh herbs.  The key to this pizza is to make sure you push the pizza dough up the sides of a baking sheet so that the beaten eggs have a place to stay.  It’s almost like making a quiche in that you don’t want the eggs leaking under the crust, else they will make it soft and difficult to remove from the baking sheet.  Use a well-seasoned baking sheet if you have one and sprinkle on a little cornmeal before you put the dough down – don’t skip this step.  The end result is a something magical: fluffy eggs, salty bacon, tons of freshness from the herbs, crispy pizza crust.  It’s pretty much the perfect breakfast pizza and because we made a whole sheet pan of it, we had plenty of leftovers for breakfasts later in the week.  I can see this being a great Mother’s Day breakfast project with a kitchen full of kids or even a quick through-together breakfast-for-dinner kind of meal during the week.  Either way, this breakfast pizza is a big winner here: it evokes great memories for me and fills our bellies at the same time.

Spinoccoli Pizza
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Spinoccoli Pizza

It’s no surprise to me that, when faced with a new pizza recipe, we wouldn’t be all over it.  It’s also no surprise that my friend Annie has dreamed up another fabulous pizza recipe being that I know one of her favorite foods, like my own, is pizza.  Annie’s Spinoccoli pizza lends a silly name to a drop dead amazing pizza, combining fresh baby spinach and itty pieces of broccoli with a luscious white sauce.  All baked together, the pizza reminds me of a vegetable lasagna and that’s probably why I love it so much.  I’ve actually got an unforgettable spinach lasagna recipe to share with you soon but in the meantime, you must try this pizza.  The greatest thing about this spinach broccoli pizza, aside from how it tastes of course, is that you can use up all those leftover bits of vegetables in your fridge.  I know I’m not the only one who chronically has half a bag of baby spinach in my fridge with nothing to do with it except to throw it in a salad – so bust it out for this pizza!  The white sauce takes all of 10 minutes to make while you’re waiting for the oven to preheat and in 30 minutes (if you go with premade dough rather than homemade), Friday pizza night is done.  It’s the perfect way to end the week, don’t ya think?

 

today's broccoli harvest from our garden!

So just a little aside about the funky photo I took above…have you heard of Instagr.am?  It’s a cool little [FREE!] app for iPhone used to snap photos, add some flair to them with different filters, and it gives you the ability to instantly upload them to Twitter, flickr, and even Facebook.  It’s a ton of fun and after I picked this broccoli from our garden one morning earlier this week, I took a quick shot.  You can also link your mobile Instagr.am app to Web.stagram where you can easily connect with friends and view and comment on all of their photos (and yours too) in a running feed.  It’s not so much of “another social media thing to handle” as it is a digital photo book – check it out if you have a minute.  And if you’re wondering about the broccoli…I’m insanely excited that this fresh bundle is going on my Spinoccoli pizza tonight!

Buffalo Chicken Pizza
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Remember the days when you were convinced you didn’t like a certain food…and then by some unknown miracle, you found out that you actually loved that food?  Most of us have a food like that.  For me, it’s buffalo sauce.  When my girlfriends were putting down 10¢ happy hour wings in college, I was studying. Or working.  And when Domino’s showed up at the dorm in the wee hours of the night with a butt-load of extra hot wings after a long night at the bars, I usually was no where to be found (Read: already showered and in bed). I couldn’t be bothered with anything having to do with buffalo.

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But in my post-post college years, something awakened inside me.  Now 10 years after college, my college girlfriends and I still meet up a few times a year and it should be no surprise that we meet for wings. It was a few years ago that something told me that I needed to partake in this wing obsession that my girlfriends still harbored  So I gave these much beloved buffalo wings a shot and through the sweaty red face and fingertips full of hot sauce and ranch dressing, I fell in love.  I couldn’t believe what I had been missing all those years ago!  So I pitched the idea of getting wings one night to Kyle and got a thumbs down. Another non-believer! Boooo!

But there was a way around this.  A way to get my way and get some of that winged goodness in my house without Kyle turning it down…I’d put it on a pizza.  And let’s just say that he loves this pizza just as much as I do.  It’s spicy.  It’s sweet.  The flavors almost caramelize together and make it impossible to resist going back for seconds.  You won’t see a pizza dough recipe below but I’ll tell you that I’ve tried 3 or 4 different dough recipes for this pizza in the past and I wholeheartedly recommend Annie’s favorite recipe (also linked below since I haven’t blogged about it yet).  Don’t wait like I did to try out a pizza like this one; I know you’ll love it as much as we do!

Still not ready for buffalo chicken pizza?  Here are some other recipes to try out:

3 Course Pizza Dinner
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~~~Never in a million years would I have thought that I would find myself in the midst of Project Food Blog Challenge #5.  I was thrilled to make it to Challenge #2 and it seems my disbelief continues to grow each week as I move ahead with each challenge.  As expected, they are getting progressively more difficult, but this wouldn’t be a blogging challenge if it didn’t get more difficult.  I have YOU to thank for helping me get here.  Thank you to each and every one of you for your extraordinary support and encouragement each week! I hope I will do this next challenge justice!~~~

When I saw the prompt for Challenge #5, asking contestants “to put your own spin on Pizza“, my heart soared.  I heard birds singing.    Unlike doing a photo tutorial, this challenge was right up my alley.  See, I adore pizza.  It’s one of the two foods I could eat every day.  It’s one of the 3 things I would take with me if I ever got stranded on a deserted island (the other two being bagels and my cat, Wilma). Pizza is in my blood. It was, without fail, my standard meal for every Friday night dinner growing up.  It was my first real job. It’s what I even tweeted about last week. And for the record, I still don’t know how people in CT will wait 40 minutes for a pizza on a Thursday night.  In NY, if you hear 40 minutes, you laugh, hang up the phone, and dial your next favorite place on a list of 25 pizza places in the 3 mile radius of your house.  Maybe it’s the inherent lack of patience NYers seem to possess but I think  it’s more that they know they shouldn’t have to wait so long for such a staple food. And for the record, a 40 minute wait never happens anyway.

All this said, I didn’t think this challenge would be easy.  Making a pizza seems easy on the surface but when you’re pinned up against 72 other fantastic bloggers all looking for the next 60 spots, the stakes are a little higher.  Just a little.  Hundreds (thousands??) of possibilities abound for how to make a pizza.  But when Kyle and I sat down Friday afternoon to discuss what to do, we came to an almost  immediate agreement.  3 courses: appetizer, main course, and dessert. Here is our menu (all recipes are listed below):

Appetizer
Margarita Pizza
Grilled mini tomato, basil, mozzarella pizzas

Main Course
Clams Casino Pizza
Stone-baked white pizza with fresh clams and bacon over a ricotta cheese sauce

Dessert
S’mores Pizza
Stone-baked graham crust with chocolate ganache sauce topped with toasted marshmallows


The appetizer was a no-brainer for us since we love this combination in so many forms.  Classic tomato, basil, mozzarella. Even after summer tomatoes are well-passed, it’s still one that works great on a pizza since the tomatoes break down a little with the heat.  We decided to grill these mini pizzas.  Grilled pizza is a favorite around here and it’s so much easier to do with little pizzas rather than full-size ones.  And the slight bit of char on the dough really helps to bring out the dough’s flavor.  Grilled pizza is always a winner!

For the main course, I’ll admit that this is kind of out there for most people.  But clam pizza is a local favorite here in CT and most pizza places have it on their menus.  It’s not a topping, however, that a NYer would be used to seeing, though you would think that clams would be a natural choice for this Long Island girl (Suffolk, south shore) since clams in all forms are almost as much of a staple as pizza is.  But in fact, the thought of a white clam pizza made my stomach turn for years even though it’s one of the most popular pizzas sold at one of the most famous pizza places in the country, Frank Pepe’s in New Haven, right around the corner from my first apartment. Kyle has asked me time after time for a clam pizza and I resolutely responded no every time.  Until about a month ago.  Something piqued my interested and for this challenge, I was ready to make the leap to clams. And it turns out that I LOVE clam pizza!  Could it be the addition of bacon (also foreign to NYers)? Or the salty contrast with the savory ricotta cheese sauce? Whatever it may be, I’m in love! And I know this pizza made Kyle happy so that really just sweetens the deal.

Dessert came without argument during our discussion. S’mores pizza sounded outstanding but we wanted it to be a pizza you could pick up with your hands and eat like…well a slice of pizza.  It was Kyle’s idea to try making a yeast crust with graham crackers and I just happened to have graham flour in the pantry for graham crackers I’ve been wanting to make forever.  We added a bit of each to a yeast pizza dough recipe and hoped it would work. The result was amazing! A graham cracker pizza crust topped with chocolate ganache sauce and toasted marshmallows was the ultimate ending to our 3 course pizza dinner.  You couldn’t have had a better s’more from a campfire if you had tried!!

As simple as pizza sounds, the results of new combinations can be extraordinary. Everyone has their favorite but there are so many kinds out there to test out.  So the next time you call to put your order in or think about your next homemade pie, try something different – you may just find your new favorite!

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Roasted Eggplant and Fontina Pizza
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One of my favorite pizza toppings happens to be eggplant but it isn’t roasted.  It’s fried just like it would be for eggplant parm. And it’s damn good on a pizza with some ooey gooey mozzarella.  So I knew when I came across this recipe that it would be a winner.  It helps that there’s some fontina here too.  Mmm…fontina…

Nothing about this recipe disappointed us.  And it won’t disappoint you either.  I used up some homemade whole wheat pita (which you’ll get to see if I venture to make them again) and pulled out some homemade tomato sauce from the freezer.  The pizzas were a cinch to throw together on a busy weeknight after having roasted the eggplant over the weekend. Top the pita, bake, and serve.  It doesn’t get much easier than that!

The original recipe calls for the toppings to be baked on a halved pita but you could definitely use pizza dough. If you’re thinking, “Huh? Pizza on a pita? No thank you ma’am,” think again!  These pita pizzas were some of the tastiest little pizzas we’ve had in ages.  Heck, they beat out some of the pizza we get from local places here! And seriously, how could you go wrong with roasted eggplant and fontina? Together. On a pizza.  You just can’t. You can bet we’ll be making this recipe again as the eggplant in our garden hits its stride in the next couple of weeks.  What about you?

White Pizza with Arugula
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White Pizza with Arugula…Except mine was with fresh spinach.  We don’t do arugula in my house (or goat cheese for that matter) so I modified the recipe slightly.  Thankfully it was one that could be easily modified while remaining true to the original recipe and one that was easy to make on top of that!  My hearty thanks goes out to Andrea of Nummy Kitchen for choosing pizza for this month’s second recipe – any kind of pizza gets me excited!!

As mentioned, I subbed spinach for the arugula and ricotta cheese for the goat cheese.  I considered using Boursin instead of ricotta but thought it might be too different for the sometimes unadventurous palate of my husband.  It was enough to ask him to eat uncooked spinach on top of his pizza in the first place.  I also played around with the dough recipe after having the desire to make whole wheat pizza dough for probably close to a year.  You’ll see my modifications below (which is half of the original recipe) as well as the link to the original recipe.

Overall, this pizza was good.  I’ve had spinach pizza with lemon slices before and loved it so I assumed I would love the vinaigrette on top of the spinach here but it was just ok.  I did have some leftover garlic oil which I drizzled over a piece or two and much preferred that over the vinaigrette.  So, the pizza didn’t blow us away and we’ll probably stick to our usual toppings of chicken, sautéed onion, and garlic but the dough however, was AWESOME!!  I couldn’t believe how much the dough puffed up while cooking – way more than any 100% all-purpose flour dough has done for me – and it made the pizza so much less filling even with 4 types of cheese on top.  I will definitely use this dough recipe again in the future but will probably pass on the toppings.  Sorry Ina!

It’s time for my usual plug for the Barefoot Bloggers…head on over and check out the ever-growing group – we’re up to 130+ members now!

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Some goodies from two years ago: Chicken Stuffed Shells and Brownies with a Caramel Touch

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