Pizza! For When the Busy Takes Over.

Hey folks, it’s been awhile since I posted here, hasn’t it? I had to take a break from blogging about food in order to grow some! Late April to early June is prime time in our garden, when the seedlings start growing into actual plants and lots of care is needed to make sure they become strong and healthy.  So far, so good as far as all that goes. And with all the good that has been going, meal time has become something of a challenge, especially on the weekends when we do most of our garden work. After being out in the yard all day, the last thing we want to do is cook.

This is where pizza comes in.

I love pizza. You love pizza. We all love pizza! And homemade pizza gets lots of love in our house, partly because it’s so easy to manage when we’re bone tired. And while you can’t go wrong with the basics – tomato and cheese, pepperoni and sausage, pepper and onion, etc., sometimes it’s nice to branch out into other flavor territories. So here are a couple recipes that we came up with when more than the basics are required: Buffalo chicken white pizza and artichoke, sun-dried tomato, and feta pizza. (So delicious, both!) I’ve also included a sauce recipe that’s become a staple whenever fresh tomatoes are not available. Either recipe can be made on the pizza crust of your choice — fresh, pre-made, flavored, wheat, white — the sky’s the limit! Cooking the pizza is up to you, whether you use a pan, pizza stone, or are maybe lucky enough to have a pizza oven. For our usual setup of individual pan pizzas, I cook the crust alone first for about 10 minutes at 375-400 degrees. Then I take the pizzas out of the oven, add the toppings, then put them back in for 13-15 minutes.

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Semi-homemade pizza sauce

  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with basil, oregano, and garlic (If you like a lighter sauce, only drain the tomatoes slightly. Drain fully if you want a thicker sauce.)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • dash of ground pepper
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon agave nectar (Recommend the agave over white sugar as it mixes better, but you could use white sugar. Go with a smaller amount of sweetener at first and add more to taste.)

Blend all ingredient together using a blender or stick blender. Let rest for about 30 minutes prior to using to let the dried herbs soften up a bit. Recipe makes enough for 2 large pizzas.

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Buffalo chicken white pizza

Ingredient list:

  • chicken (white and/or dark meat, whatever your preference)
  • flour
  • egg white
  • water
  • panko or white bread crumbs
  • corn meal
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oil, sliced or diced
  • butter
  • hot sauce
  • garlic powder
  • onions
  • whole milk mozzarella cheese (really, don’t skimp on the cheese! A little goes a long way.)

For buffalo chicken, cut up chicken into strips about an inch wide. Coat in flour, then dip into a mixture of 1 egg white and 1 tablespoon of water, then coat with a mixture of panko, corn meal, salt, and pepper. Fry chicken strips in about 1/2-inch of oil over medium heat, about 4-6 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain chicken on paper towels and let cool.

For the buffalo sauce – whisk together 1/2 cup of melted butter and 1/2 cup hot sauce. (Can adjust to taste.)

One chicken is cool to the touch, cut into small chunks and place in a ziploc bag. Pour in a enough buffalo sauce, and shake everything around, so that it liberally covers the chicken. (You’ll want to have enough sauce left over for two drizzles over the pizza.)

Also saute or caramelize the onions.

For garlic butter sauce, in a small container with a lid, add 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 2 teaspoons garlic powder. Put lid on a shake vigorously.

Prepare pizza: Brush garlic butter on crust. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Add chicken and onions. Drizzle a little buffalo sauce over the top. Cook until crust is golden brown. Drizzle a little more buffalo sauce over pizza before serving.

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Artichoke, sun-dried tomato, and feta pizza

Ingredient list:

  • artichoke hearts, quartered and marinated
  • sun-dried tomatoes (dry packed, not the ones in oil)
  • feta cheese
  • whole milk mozzarella cheese.
  • semi-homemade pizza sauce

Throw the sauce and cheeses on your pizza crust. Cut up a desired amount of artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes, and place liberally on top. While cooking, you may want to keep an eye on the pizza as sun-dried tomatoes have tendency to burn. (P. S. If you happen to like black olives, they work well on this pizza, sliced and in small quantities. Too many and it gets too salty.)


While Cary’s happy to talk food here, she’s also pretty good at doling out words about video games at United We Game while simultaneously maintaining her own blog, Recollections of Play. You can also find an archive of fun, geeky articles from her and like-minded souls at Geek Force Network.

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That Holiday Classic — Spanikopita!

In two days, we (read: Americans) will be engorging ourselves on a feast that only comes round once a year: Thanksgiving dinner. I’m talking sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, yeast rolls, stuffing/dressing/whatever you prefer to call it, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, ham (at least at my house) and, of course, spanikopita! Uhh, you mean…turkey?  No, actually I mean spanikopita, a classic spinach pie with Greek roots. I discovered this magical meal early on in my turn towards vegetarianism, and it became something of a holiday-only thing because of the limited availability of phyllo dough. Back then, the only time I could find phyllo dough was in November and December. Now, that quirky pastry dough is easily findable year-round, but I still tend to only make spanikopita during the holidays. Putting aside the difficulties of working with phyllo dough, spanikopita is a delicious, savory, and satisfying dish that can be equally enjoyed by all. (Seriously, and I’m not much of a fan of spinach!) Yes, you have to be a little easy on the papery phyllo, but the results are worth ten times the effort.

The recipe below serves 6-8 people and can easily be doubled or tripled (which might require 2 packages of phyllo dough). It’s made in an 8- or 9-inch pie plate, but you can also use a similarly sized square baking dish. Or, if you’re feeling brave and creative, you can also cut the dough and fold the filling into triangular “packets.” (Place them on a greased baking sheet and cook at the same temp and time.) But you’ll have to venture elsewhere online to find out how to do that — I just don’t have the skills and patience.

Spanikopita

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil olive oil
1 lb spinach washed and drained, or 10-16 ounces. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
6-7 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper
6-8 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten
3-4 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 package of phyllo dough, thawed (if obtained frozen)

 Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8- or 9-inch pie plate with a little cooking spray.

2. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat and add spinach. Let it wilt fully and then remove from the pan. Place on paper or cloth towels to cool and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Note:  If using frozen spinach, simply thaw and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

3. In same pan sauté scallions in remaining oil until soft. Add spinach back in along with parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well until spinach is warmed through. Remove mixture from pan to cool at least to room temperature.

Note:  Spinach mixture can be made up to a day in advance and stored in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.

4. Once spinach has cooled, stir in feta cheese and egg.

5. Unwrap and unroll thawed phyllo dough and place all the dough between sheets of damp paper towel. Basting each sheet carefully with butter, layer six sheets crossways — alternating between placing them left to right and top to bottom — in bottom of pie plate. (Some of the dough may hang over the edges and that’s okay.)

6. Place spinach and cheese mixture into pie plate and spread evenly. If your phyllo dough hangs over the edges of the plate, wrap it over the top.

7. Again basting each sheet carefully with butter, arranged 6 more sheets of dough on top of the spinach. (You can wrap or fold the dough in whatever manner you like to cover the pie, but none should hang over the edges of the plate, otherwise it’ll burn.)

8. Baste top layer with butter and cook for about 30 minutes, or until top is browned and filling is set.

9. Once done, cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into wedges.

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Because of phyllo dough’s tendency to become soggy, spanikopita is best enjoyed the day it’s cooked. Leftovers reheat well enough, but the dough will not become as crispy as when it’s first cooked.


Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.