Sunday, July 24, 2011

Even Batman Takes a Time Out to Eat Pizza!

Experts claim that a new habit can be formed in 21 days, so my family and I have put that theory to the test.  We used to eat out every Friday night, mainly because I felt that I earned the night off from cooking and I earned a nice little treat out on the town.  Before kids, our Friday nights consisted of going to the same establishment every week for the same fish fry.  These dinners were essentially "date night" even though we NEVER called it that.  In the early years, dinner was followed by going to the electronic store and scouring the clearance isles for a great deal on the new VHS tape that was out.  Once we bought a house, our budget got a little tighter and our usual fish fry place was replaced by any establishment that had a "BOGO" coupon,  and  the electronic store was replaced by our local home improvement store.

Now days, with the addition of children, Friday night dinners at home are more appealing.  It is more stressful to go out on the town with a three year old than it is to stay home and have a nice quiet night at home.  So, that's where our new habit comes in.

Friday night has become our pizza night, the night I make a simple homemade pizza with different toppings (usually saving a corner for the sauce and cheese for my three year old).  I'm so enthused about this idea on so many levels.  1.  It is a money saver:  making pizza at home is relatively inexpensive especially compared to dining out.  2.  It is a stress saver:  no arguing with a three year old in a restaurant and no menu planning at home.  3.   It tastes good.  Who doesn't love pizza, right? Even batman takes a time out to eat pizza!

 All the pizzas are made with pizza dough that I buy from my local organic grocery store.  There is nothing special about it, I just happen to think their dough is the easiest to work with so I buy it.  On a cold day this winter, I have plans to make and freeze my own, I've done that in the past and it tastes great, I have a great recipe for whole wheat pizza crust that I just love and will share sometime in the future.

Just roll out the dough as thin as you like and pre-bake it in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  It will not be thoroughly cooked but this step helps it get nice and crispy.

Oh we'll start with my favorite.  Roasted veggies with fresh basil pizza.  I take two pints of cherry tomatoes,  a sliced red onion, chopped garlic,a pound of portabella mushrooms, and olive oil.  Roast all of the veggies together on a cookie sheet in a 425 degree oven.  15-20 minutes later I add all the deliciously roasted veggies to the top of the half baked pizza crust.  Top with mozzarella cheese and cook for approximately 10 minutes.  Once baked, top with fresh cut basil.  This pizza is to die for.  It has all my favorite flavors in one bite (but of course I take several bites to be sure). 

Next is my husband's favorite pizza and a close second favorite for me.  Buffalo Chicken pizza. In a pan, cook 1 pound ground chicken.  Add one diced red onion.  Once chicken is cooked and onion is soft, add 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of buffalo sauce (I love Frank's red isn't that spicy).  Turn off heat once butter is melted and the sauce thickens a bit.  Add chicken mixture to  the top of the half baked pizza crust.  Spread 1/2 cup of ranch dressing over the top of the chicken mixture and top with mozzarella cheese.  Once baked, top with fresh cut chives.  This pizza is perfect to eat while watching the Packers cream the Bears.

This pizza had a purpose.  Clean out the fridge pizza.  I had a bunch of items in my refrigerator that I wanted to get rid of so they were used as toppings on this pizza.  I cooked a half pound of bacon in the oven till it was nice and crispy.  I spread approx 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese on top of the half baked pizza crust and topped with artichoke hearts, the crumbled bacon, half of a sliced red onion and baked in a 425 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes.  All the items were leftovers from another meal that would have otherwise probably gone to waste (once I found them in the back of the fridge several months later).  We had full bellies and an empty fridge!

Oh and this last pizza.  Super simple.  Guess who loves this one? Roasted mushroom pizza.  I fried a pound of baby portabella mushrooms and a whole sliced red onion on the stovetop with some olive oil.  While that was cooking, I topped the half baked pizza crust with some jarred pizza sauce.  I Topped that with lots of mozzarella and finally the mushrooms.  I baked in the oven for approximately 10 minutes.  I quickly snapped this picture before my son gobbled it all up.   

I hope you have enjoyed my take on pizza and I hope you find time to try a couple of these on your own "date night".

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