Tip Tuesday: Pizza in Another Exciting Incarnation

Tip Tuesday

Pizza.  PIZZA!  Pizzahhhhhhhhh!!!

Is there a way that pizza (in its various forms) isn’t yummy?

But sometimes…the local pizza joint, or a Pepperoni Pizza Hot Pocket, or English Muffin Pizzas just fail to satisfy.

Sometimes, pizza gets a little ho-hum.  Mundane.  Ordinary.  Boring.  Trite.  Overdone (and I don’t necessarily mean burnt).

Sometimes you can (gasp!) get sick and tired of pizza.

That is when pizzahhh needs a reboot.

Today’s reboot comes courtesy of Kraft Recipes.  Well, mostly.  If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that it is impossible for me to follow a recipe exactly.  I.  Must.  Modify.

And luckily, this recipe is easily modifiable and adaptable.

What is it, exactly?

Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna.

Let me repeat that lusciousness again.  Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna.

Cheesy, saucy, meaty, pasta-y, veggie goodness.

And easily adaptable.

Yes, this is recipe nirvana.  (And not the band)

Nirvana (the band) is not exactly the genre of music I hear in my head when making and consuming copious amounts of this recipe.  Sinatra, yes.  Alternative?  No.  Think the Olive Garden soundtrack.  “When the moon meats your eye, like a big pizza pie…”

And, now back to recipe matters and not mangling-lyrics matters.

The original recipe calls for raw diced bell pepper and onion.  That creates two problems in our household.  1)  The peppers and onions don’t get completely cooked, and 2)  Muffin is not a fan of raw bell pepper and raw onion.  And, since he eats so many other healthy things, I have learned not to push my luck.

So, we adapted.  We subbed olives for the peppers and onions.  I think it would also be fabulous with most pizza toppings.  Except maybe pineapple.  As much as I love pineapple pizza, the thought of pineapple and lasagna noodles makes me slightly nauseated.

But Italian sausage, browned and added to the sauce and crumbled over the top?  Definitely!  (Even though we haven’t tried it that way yet.)

So, what do we do usually?

Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna

Adapted from Kraft Recipes (see link above)

1 egg, beaten

1 (15 ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided

1 pkg. pepperoni, divided (I used the 6 ounce package from Aldi)

1 cup (1 can large pitted ripe olives, sliced) veggies, divided

1 jar (24 ounces) smooth pasta sauce (Traditional flavor, if possible)

1/2 cup water

1 package lasagna noodles, uncooked (You will not use them all.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the egg, ricotta, Parmesan, and half of the mozzarella.

Reserve 12-15 pepperoni slices and 1/2 cup olive slices (or 1/4 cup other vegetation).  Chop remaining pepperoni.  Add it to a medium bowl with sauce, water, and remaining vegetation (olives).

Spray a 9×13 dish or foil pan with cooking spray.  Spread 1/2-3/4 cup sauce on the bottom.  Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, broken to fit, as necessary; 1/3 ricotta mixture; and 1/2 cup of sauce.  Repeat layers twice.  Top with lasagna noodles, sauce, cheese, and reserved toppings (meat and vegetation).  Cover with foil sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake 35 minutes.  Uncover and cook 10 minutes more.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Cut into serving-sized squares, with a slice of pepperoni centered in the square.

Chill or freeze.

When ready to eat, remove the desired number of squares and reheat in the microwave until heated through.

*Note:  I tried eating this 10 minutes post-oven, but the noodles are on the hard side of al dente.  For some reason, chilling it overnight after cooked softens the noodles to a more preferable al dente (as in, you can then chew them).

This recipe was definitely Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite pizzahhhh variation?

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Meal Plan Monday: A Lazy Spring Break Week

Meal Plan Monday

Good Monday morning everyone and welcome to the Spring Break edition of MPM on FHM&M.  (Wayyyyy too many acronyms there)  Maybe the “lazy” should simply be for the cooking.  This week is going to be a week of no new recipes (unlike spring breaks in the past with meal plan challenges).

So, what does this week look like?

Here we go!!!

Saturday:  ate at the hotel in Dallas

Sunday:  After the trip and a large lunch at Taco Cabana, I wasn’t hungry.  Muffin ate pizza.  Josh made a sandwich from the boneless ribs left over.  I eventually ate a piece of the yummy peppered maple turkey we bought at Central Market.

Monday:  nuggets, fries, celery sticks and dip

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Tuesday:  Ranch Chicken Enchiladas x 2, rice, beans

Wednesday:  Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna (recipe forthcoming), salad bar salad

Thursday:  leftovers or hot dogs

Friday:  pizza rolls x several to freeze, corn

Saturday:  Imperial Cathay Style Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce, egg roll

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Sunday:  Smothered Chicken, rice, broccoli

What’s on your meal plan for this week?

Meal Plan Monday: Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated!

Good morning, Monday readers!  Well, I’m actually writing this Sunday morning, but I have Monday thoughts on this Sunday.

If you recognize the source of the subtitle, kudos to you!  I am waiting (with baited breath) for the sequel (supposedly in October according to the often-incorrect Wikipedia).

The last several months have been a delicate balancing act (read:  epic fail at that) of being the mama of a first grader, Star Wars and Nerf Gun enthusiast, and cub scout.  Oddly enough, the last has tipped the scales into insanity and hilarity quite often.

Added to that biweekly trips to Aldi (that turn into day-long excursions as lunch is usually included) and the following day spent cooking and prepping for the following week?  Yes, writing time has been almost nonexistent.

And, for a long time, I worried that I had lost my writing mojo.  I would stare at my list of dishes that I had prepared, new and exciting ones, and felt…blah.  Staring at a blank screen with a blinking cursor (and imagining the cursor taunting you with each blink…”You can’t do this; you can’t do this!”) is far more intimidating than staring at a blank spiral notebook page and a pen (which is how I usually compose fiction).

My Muse had escaped me, it seemed.  And, then, very recently (in both terms of fiction and here), a new Muse appeared.  In other words, the words that have been trapped in my head on the tips on my fingers, almost, have suddenly started purging themselves on paper–and on the screen.

I feel rejuvenated.

So, those people that I am related to (cough cough, my sister, cough cough) who have wondered why they have haven’t been receiving notifications about new posts, you should receive one soon.

This week abuts spring break (yay!  finally!) and a much-anticipated trip to Dallas (to celebrate our anniversary last November, Valentine’s Day, and everything in between), so the menu plan is going to look kinda…odd.

Are you ready for the super-charged meal plan?

Or the what-was-she-thinking meal plan?

Here we go!!!

Saturday:  Peeps be sick (or, at least Muffin was).  I had eaten at a Chinese buffet for brunch that turned into b’lu’pper because I ate too much.  Muffin was finally able to hold down two corn dogs from Sonic (yay!  50 cent corn dogs and happy hour drinks!), and I’m not sure what Josh had.

Sunday:  Asian-Paste Pork Loin with Two Onions, rice, tomato slices

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Monday:  grilled boneless ribs with a rub, grilled asparagus, French bread with butter

Tuesday:  Mexican pizzas, chips, salsa

Wednesday:  leftovers or hot dogs

Thursday:  breaky for dinner–Josh is off so eggs over easy, sausage from Aldi, biscuits (like Grands but from Aldi), and hash brown patties

Friday:  mini pizzas (Aldi had mini pizza crusts with sauce on clearance)

Saturday:  dinner in Dallas

Sunday:  dinner on the road or snacky lunch

What is your menu looking like this week?

Asian-Paste Pork Loin with Two Onions

Have you ever noticed that there are times in your life when you are staring down a pork loin (or a “beefy” 5 1/2 pound half pork loin) and your slow cooker, and you simply cannot stick it in there with a little salt and pepper, some onion, carrots, and potatoes, and call it a fix-it-and-forget-it day?

And, at the same time, been on an Asian (especially Chinese-ish) food craving binge?

No?

Me neither.

Whistles oh-so-innocently.

Today found me in such a predicament.  I wanted to squeal over aromatic slow cooker pork with an Asian zing that didn’t taste completely processed.  Get it, squeal, pork?

I also wanted to challenge myself to use a Chinese hot mustard packet Josh picked up when he got Chinese a week or so ago.  Did I mention that this Chinese food craving binge has been going on for over a month?

At the same time, I felt the need to use up the remainder of green onions I purchased at Aldi yesterday.  I only needed two for Tuesday’s menu, and that left 10 or 12 more that would languish and eventually become oozy goo (trust me; it is not pretty!) in the fridge until is tossed after a week or so.

The solution?

Something I will only call “Asian-Paste Pork Loin with Two Onions.”

What do you do?

Wash out your new trusty slow cooker (or your old trusty).  Peel, cut in half long-ways, and slice into rings the quantity of one onion.  Separate the rings and scatter in the bottom of said slow cooker.

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Trim, clean, and chop 10-15 green onions into 2-inch lengths (greens and whites).

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Do you call them green onions, spring onions, or scallions?  To me, they are always green onions.  Scatter said green onions over the onion rings in the slow cooker.

Mix together the yummy paste ingredients with a plastic fork.

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Go all slasher flick on the pork loin, gouging it repeatedly with your sharpest knife.

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It’s very stress relieving and anger managing to do so.

With a pastry brush (or a barbecue brush), slather paste on the fatty side of the loin, making sure to fill the gouge-wounds with paste.  Place the loin fatty-side-down in the slow cooker atop the onions.  Pour the remaining paste over the pork loin, using the brush to smooth and spread the paste evenly.

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Cover with the lid and cook on low for 6 hours.  Serve with rice and a veg.

The verdict?

It was so aromatically awesomesauce.  And, yes, that is the technical description.

Asian-Paste Pork Loin With Two Onions

Source:  My Brain

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(It tastes so much better than it looks!)

half pork loin (mine was 5.5 pounds, but it can definitely be smaller)

1 onion, cut from pole-to-pole and sliced into half rings

10-15 green onions, trimmed and chopped into 2-inch lengths

1 cup brown sugar

sprinkle of cayenne or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flake

2-3 tablespoons ground ginger

twenty grinds of freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

one lone packet of Chinese hot mustard

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

soy sauce to thin the mixture to a paste

Scatter first the white onion, then the green onions, on the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.  Perforate the pork loin in several places with either a skewer or a sharp knife.  Mix paste ingredients (stirring together dry ingredients first before adding the mustard packet and then the vinegar).  Thin paste to thick pancake batter consistency with soy sauce.

Using a silicone brush, brush the paste on the side of the pork loin (the fatty side).  Place the pork loin, fatty side down, in the slow cooker.  Pour and spread the remaining paste over the top of the pork loin.

Cook on low for six hours.  Serve with rice and appropriate veg.