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?

Funny Muffin Friday: My Date for My Birthday Supper

Funny Muffin Friday

One week ago today, I turned 35.  I know!!!!  Turning 30 didn’t bother me.  I was a new mama at that time and barely blinked when the big 3-0 hit.  But 35 I approached with apprehension.

Locally, the pizza restaurant Rotolo’s offers as a member of their loyalty program a free pizza for your birthday.  Last year, this was when we ate out at the restaurant shortly after my birthday:


I think last Friday, Muffin and I sat in the same booth when we went for my birthday.  The pizza this time was pineapple.

This time Muffin was my sole pizza date because Josh had to work.  He ordered a sour green apple Sprite drink which he proclaimed to be “Sour like lemon!!!!”

Image-1 (3)

And the pizza we shared…


I truly enjoyed my birthday this year, despite reaching the dreaded 3-5!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Meal Plan Monday: Week of January 4

Meal Plan Monday

This week is going to be a hodge podge.  Josh is on call, but off Monday and Tuesday.  We still have plenty of leftovers from the party as well as a few other goodies that I have planned.  Josh will probably bring home a pizza on Friday.

Saturday:  leftover fajita stuff

Sunday:  Crock Pot Dr. Pepper pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, canned veg

Monday:  Josh prep–breakfast for supper?

Tuesday:  Josh prep–spaghetti with Italian sausage?

Wednesday:  leftover Bacon Double Cheeseburger Beer Cheese Soup, crackers (Josh may take some in his thermos to reheat in his new travel oven)

Thursday:  leftover fajita stuff or leftover pork chops

Friday:  Little Caesar’s $5 pepperoni special

Saturday:  Spasagna, green veg, artisan bread

Sunday:  Chicken and Dumplins, salad or veg sticks and dip, artisan bread

My goal is also to make more of the refried beans for use the next week on Saturday or Sunday.  I’m lovin’ that recipe.

And now…Bacon Double Cheeseburger Beer Cheese Soup, courtesy of The Slow Roasted Italian:

Bacon Double Cheeseburger Beer Cheese Soup

Source:  The Slow Roasted Italian


First, I made my own Montreal Steak Seasoning:

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon crushed black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dill weed

3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Mix together and use 5 teaspoons of the mixture below.

And now…the recipe:

6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut using kitchen shears into 1/2 inch pieces.

1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

5 teaspoons homemade Montreal Steak Seasoning

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

12 ounces beer (I used Coor’s light)

4 cups half-and-half (or cream for thicker or milk for thinner)

16 ounces mild cheddar

salt, to taste

Warm 8 quart pot over high heat.  Add cut bacon to pot stirring often.  Cook until lightly crisp.  Add beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into chunks.  Cook until done.  Drain all but 2 tablespoons drippings.  Stir in flour, seasoning, and paprika.  Stir until flour is coated.  Add beer and scrape pot to deglaze.  Cook 3 minutes.  Add half and half.  Stir to combine and bring to a bubble.  Add cheese and stir until cheese is melted.  Taste to add salt, as necessary.  Allow to simmer until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.

Serve with croutons sprinkled over the top.

Muffin loved this soup!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite cold-weather soup?

As always, I will be linking up here:

Funny Muffin Friday: Muffin’s Push to Make Us Go to the New Sam’s Club

Funny Muffin Friday

Note:  I realize that it’s been a while since I last wrote.  This new school year is kicking my tush!

But…Muffin keeps it all in perspective.  Recently, our Sam’s Club opened.  I should note that we did not go to Sam’s on the day it opened (Boo!), or the day after…or the day after that.  It opened on a Thursday.  We went there on Sunday.  And, by we, I mean my parents, Muffin, and me.  Josh was on call and had to work that week.

Our goal was to arrive at 9 and go on in.  One small problem:  Sam’s didn’t open until 10.  So, we went back to my parents’ house (and left my car in the Sam’s parking lot).  At 9:50, Muffin told us that we needed to “skoo-dee-daddle” to go to Sam’s.  (He really wanted his slice of pizza.)  I think it’s my mom who has told him a few times to “skeedaddle.”  But Muffin had to put his own special spin on it.

Note:  Muffin really likes Sam’s.

And the pizza.

And…there was a man there who was making watermelon rind sculptures.  Muffin received a dinosaur.

And he loved it.

Unfortunately (for us and anyone within range of Muffin’s voice) the watermelon carver has not been back since.  We’ve been back to Sam’s a few times, and Muffin has to check…each…and…every…time.

Cent Saving Saturday will be back tomorrow with a reminder that Sam’s has probably the cheapest (although not healthiest) fast food meal on the fly.

Meal Plan Monday: Back to Work Full-Time

Meal Plan Monday

This week brings a return to work full time.  I am planning to make it a fairly low-key foodie week, with a three-in-one meal of chili and prep for the chili and another dish on the weekend.

I hope to compile a list in next week’s Meal Plan Monday post that will detail foods that can be prepped on the weekend and either compiled and cooked quickly on the weekday or cooked completely on the weekend and reheated on the weekday.  This list will help me and others prepare for the busy meals of the week.

But here is the best I could scratch up for the week:

Saturday:  La Madeleine’s Tomato-Basil soup and grilled cheese sandwiches

Sunday:  fried rice

Monday:  Texas Hash (prepped Sunday):  See the recipe below.

Tuesday:  chili (prepped Sunday) and cornbread

Wednesday:  Frito pies with leftover chili

Thursday:  chili cheese dogs with leftover chili with any vegetables ready from the garden

Friday:  Pizza grilled cheese with pasta sauce for dipping (may save some of the pineapple to do a Hawaiian one again)

Saturday:  grilled hot wings and fries (maybe with grilled baked beans)

Sunday:  burgers (I want to do something special with them.  Maybe I will check out some of The Slow Roasted Italian‘s recipes)

Growing up, one of my favorite dinners was my mom’s Texas Hash.  I doubt it will have ground beef this time (I may use ground pork or ground turkey).  I loved the idea of the meat and rice and tomatoey goodness and the bell pepper and onion and the most exotic spice of my early childhood…chili powder!  Chili powder was great for many things when I was young:  Texas Hash, chili, taco seasoning, and sprinkled in my mom’s and grandmother’s variations of beefy vegetable soup.  As I grew older (and we purchased a microwave), the preparation was even faster.  This is a great one-dish meal that is great with the pineapple-cheese salad.

But, here it is:

(Mom’s Texas Hash, that is)

Family Heirloom Recipes

Texas Hash
(Adapted from my mom)

1 pound ground beef (or turkey or pork), browned and crumbled

1 cup rice (before cooking), cooked according to package directions (Mom now uses brown rice, but my favorite method of preparation is white rice.)

one large bell pepper, diced

one large onion, diced (preferably white or yellow)

one 8-ounce can tomato sauce

one can (14-16 ounces) diced tomatoes (I used petite diced)

one tablespoon (or to taste) chili powder (Make sure you use chili with an “i” rather than an “e” and that you use chili powder, not chili seasoning)

Brown and crumble the ground meat.  In a large casserole dish (microwave safe if you are using the microwave, oven-safe if you are using an oven) combine meat, rice (cooked), and chili powder.  Taste and add more chili powder, if desired (but keep in mind if you are preparing this for a spice-phobe that cooking the dish will intensify the heat slightly).  Zap in the microwave (or saute in a pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) the onion and bell pepper until softened.  Stir this mixture into the meat and rice.  Stir in the tomato sauce and undrained can of tomatoes.  Either microwave for 6-8 minutes or bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  If you prepare ahead of time, prep it to this point and then bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes (or until heated through).

Serve with taco sauce, extra chili powder, salsa/picante sauce, sour cream (Josh), or ketchup.  I’ve been known to drizzle it with a bit of honey when I was younger (for that sweet heat feel).  This goes well with the pineapple cheese salad and bread and butter.

As usual, I will be linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

What is on your meal plan this week?

Please Don’t Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge: Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Please Don't Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe ChallengeI’m trying to be more open about the bad.  I think I do okay opening up about the good, but this challenge has been…a challenge.  Monday I tried a new version of the Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwich that I first saw on Forkful of Comfort.  I figured that a Hawaiian version would be great.  I love Hawaiian pizza (I especially love simply pineapple pizza), and it is a family favorite.  After the success of the salami version, I figured it would be AWESOME!  And it was.  Like totes.  🙂  Here’s the kicker:  it is the fastest recipe ever.  It takes as long as it takes to make grilled cheese.  And not being a fan of cheese singles, being able to use mozza really amps it up.  And…all I have to say is…pizza dipping sauce.  I swapped out the butter/margarine on the outside with mayo.  Mayo is easier to spread more evenly (none of the torn bread syndrome).

Think of this cheesy goodness.

I may have already consumed one of the two sandwiches before remembering to take a shot of second of the two sandwiches.  As in, it was so super yummy I felt the need to inhale consume it instantly.  Here’s what we did:

Hawaiian Pizza Grilled Cheese

bread, sliced (We used cheapy-cheap white bread)

butter, margarine, or mayo to slather on the bread (one side of each slice of bread)

shredded mozzarella (enough to layer on the bread twice

half a slice of thinly sliced ham (or Canadian bacon) per sandwich torn into bits

half a small can of crushed pineapple (and to keep the sandwiches flat enough it needs to be crushed), very well drained

jarred or canned red pasta sauce of one’s own choosing, warmed

Slather butter, margarine, or mayo on one side of each slice of bread.  Sprinkle a generous blanket on the un-coated side of half of the bread slices.  Sprinkle with ham and pineapple bits in an amount of your own choosing, but make sure to allow some of the mozzarella visible.  Sprinkle on more mozzarella.  Place the un-coated side of the remaining bread slices on top of the mozzarella.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot (You may want to spray the surface with nonstick cooking spray).  Place the sandwiches on the pan (being sure not to crowd too much).  Once the underside is browned and the cheese is partially melted, flip each sandwich carefully.  Cook until browned on that side and cheese is completely melted.  Cut diagonally into either two or four triangles (Muffin’s preference).  Repeat for remaining sandwiches.

Serve with warmed pasta sauce for dipping.

This was the thumbs-up portion of the week and definitely Muffin Approved.

That was the good news.

The thumbs down was my fault.

I attempted to make Josh’s Oma’s meatloaf in the slow cooker.  I had similar results to the Chicken Parmigiana meatloaf.  If you overcook meatloaf it turns kinda sour tasting.  If I had stopped at the five hours on LOW that I had it set for, but I didn’t think it looked quite done, so I set it for another hour.  It resembled dark brown leather afterwards.  I managed to choke down a slice, but Josh and Muffin couldn’t.  I do have to say this:  Oma’s meatloaf is yummy enough to deal with heating up the kitchen for.  Although the culinary adventuress within me wants to try it one more time and stop it at five hours.  I think it would have been awesome.

I didn’t take a picture.

Tomorrow we consume pancakes and bacon.  I plan to use the recipe from Miss Kay’s cookbook (because I like it the best) but to make sure I don’t use expired baking powder.

What is your biggest culinary achievement or disappointment lately?

Muffin Approved

Well…the pizza grilled cheese, at least.


Meal Plan Monday: Same Meals but With Some Variety… (Part 1)

Meal Plan MondayEven Friday pizza night can get boring.

I’ll let you digest that shocking statement.  I’ve been researching (some call it time wasting) on the Pinteresting Blogosphere and the-site-formerly-known-as-Recipezaar (Food.com) different ways to present the same foods.

Fruit Salad:  in a bowl, in an ice cream cone (or the nifty waffle bowls that we got for the Super Bowl ice cream sundae bar), in hollowed out fruit (like pineapple or larger citrus fruits)

Pizza:  minis made on tortillas, pitas, English muffins, white bread slices (toasted), or even crackers; French bread pizza (or sub roll pizza), pizza subs; pizza muffins; pizza rolls (made with eggroll wrappers–in place of the fake-tasting Totino’s pizza rolls); pizza lunchable; pizza components on a stick (kabob) to dip in pizza sauce; pizza components in a salad (If Rotolo’s can serve Muffaletta salad, I’m sure a pizza salad is not far away); pizza wrap or ‘rrito; and calzones and panzarottis (and Hot Pocket style pizza pies)

Tacos:  burritos, tacos, soft tacos, nachos, tostadas, chimichangas, mini tacos made out of wontons, taco eggrolls, Mexican pizzas, taco salad, and taco-stuffed crescent rolls

Buffalo chicken:  buffalo chicken pizza (my personal fave), buffalo chicken sandwiches, buffalo chicken soup (something that only I liked), buffalo chicken covered fries, buffalo chicken wontons and eggrolls, buffalo chicken fajitas, and buffalo chicken wraps, just to name a few (I’m waiting for an air freshener company to create a buffalo chicken air freshener)

But I’m sure most of you are here for the meal plan:

Monday:  Chicken noodle soup and sandwiches

Tuesday:  leftover chicken spaghetti

Wednesday:  tacos

Thursday:  nachos

Friday:  heart-shaped biscuit pizzas, chocolate-covered strawberries

Saturday:  snacky supper for Muffin based on the cheese platter Josh and I will have for date night–our ValDay celebration (probably a salad for both of us to start):  cheeses, fruits, dried fruits, nuts, breads and crackers, salami and turkey, marmalade, olives

What’s on your meal plan for this week (especially to celebrate ValDay)?  Let me know by dropping a line below.

I’m linking up to Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday!