Monday, May 31, 2010

WalMart Marketside Traditional Five Cheese and Pepperoni Pizzas

Carol and family moved into their beautiful new home yesterday and Margie offered to buy pizza to feed the hungry "moving crew".  She made a quick run to WalMart and picked up two varieties of take-and-bake Marketside pizzas - the Five Cheese Traditional Crust Pizza and the Pepperoni Traditional Crust Pizza.   The packaging and the pizzas were both very attractive and they were loaded with a tasty mixture of cheeses. 

Lexi said she loved the mild, family-friendly pizza sauce, but thought that the crust was a little hard.  In all fairness, I think the hard crust was a result of being slightly overbaked, rather than an issue with the pizza itself. 

For me personally, it will never replace a handmade pizzeria pizza, but for a quick inexpensive meal to feed a hungry crowd, it was an acceptable alternative and I was happy to have the opportunity to try it.

Congratulations on your new house, Carol!  I know that you all will have many happy times there!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Grilled Pizza Recipe - My First Try!

I know my pizza looks pretty funny - it's okay to laugh!   I read about grilled pizza.  I studied the technique both in books and online.  I watched Chef Annie Burrell's Grilled Pizza segment on the Food Network's "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef".   In the end, I loved it ... but I also made a few mistakes.  Obviously.

For my first try, I decided to go with a simple cheese pizza.


1 loaf frozen pizza dough
1 cup pizza sauce (we used Mid's)
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan
1/8 cup chopped basil
olive oil

Technique (or lack of):

Thaw dough according to package directions.  When thawed, place between two sheets of parchment paper that has been lightly oiled.  Try to roll into a 12" round.  Remove top sheet of parchment paper and take outside to your grill, that has been preheated.  (For this try, we used a George Foreman outdoor propane grill.)  Lay the pizza dough on top of the grill and lower lid.  Grill/bake for approximately 5 minutes on a low/medium heat.   Using a spatula or pizza peel, peek at the bottom of the crust.

In the meantime, prepare your topping ingredients and have ready to put on the crust as soon as you flip it.

When the bottom of the crust is a pleasant golden brown, use the pizza peel or two spatulas to flip the dough.  Top with a layer of pizza sauce, and sprinkle with cheeses and chopped basil.  Cover and grill/bake for approximately 10 minutes.  Peek at it after 5 minutes to ensure that the bottom of the crust is not burning and make any adjustments in temperature.

When cheese is melted and dough appears to be cooked through, use a pizza peel or two spatulas to carefully remove from heat, turn off the grill.  Slice and serve!

Despite the fact that my pizza was not that attractive, we had a lot of fun making it and we loved the slightly smokey flavor.  I will definitely give this another try sometime soon - next time I will use another type of dough and will try different toppings.

P.S.  Lexi says my pizza looks like an oven mitt.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fox's Pizza Den, Pleasant Hills - Mini Review

This is a mini review because we only had one bite!  We went to an estate sale run by Estate Liquidation Services (Mark Dlugos) estate sale in Whitehall.  We were checking out just as Mary Ann rushed in with a pizza, and Mark was kind enough to offer us a slice.  Our one bite impression was that we loved the sauce, but need to try a larger portion to judge the crust and cheese.   We're been wanting to try one of Fox's famous "Wedgies", so we'll make a visit there soon!

Fox's Pizza Den on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Planting a Pizza Garden

I think it would be fun to plant some seeds and have tiny pizzas pop out of the ground!  But ... that's not what I mean by a pizza garden.  Every year I play with a theme to my gardens - one year it was a salsa garden, another year a chili garden, and I always plant a salad garden because I eat salads every day in the summer.  I think about the ingredients I need to go into recipes for certain meals and plant herbs and vegetables to make those meals.

There are lots of ways to think about growing a pizza garden - I know I'm not planting wheat for a crust, so that's out!  That leaves sauce, herbs and spices and toppings.

To make the heirloom tomato pizza sauce recipe, I can grow the tomatoes, oregano and garlic.   Out of the nine ingredients in the salt-free pizza seasoning recipe, oregano (again), basil and maybe fennel seed are doable for me.  I've never tried to grow fennel before, but I'm going to experiment with it this year.  Toppings are the fun part - my favorite toppings on a traditional red sauced pizza are mushrooms, green and hot peppers and sliced olives; on white pizza, I like tomato, spinach and basil.  Out of those toppings, I will definitely grow green and several varieties of hot peppers.  I've been doing a little research about growing mushrooms, but haven't quite gotten brave enough.  If anybody has any hints, let me know!

So here's my plan: 

  • Roma or other meaty, Italian style tomato
  • Heirloom variety for the outstanding flavor
  • Celebrity or other salad tomato
  • Variety of grape tomatoes
  • Greek oregano - I planted some a few years ago and it has now taken over my garden!
  • Basil - both
  • Fennel
  • Sweet Globe Peppers - both green and yellow varieties
  • Banana Peppers - both hot and sweet banana
  • Giant Marconi - huge chiles that I found at my local nursery (Mosside Greenhouse in Wall, PA)
  • A slow bolt variety, such as Burpee's Harmony Hybrid (spring and fall)
  • New Zealand spinach - not a true spinach, but a decent substitute for hot summer weather
  • Burpee's has a variety called "Salad Fresh" which sounds like it could be good for summer also and great for salads and toppings
  • Sweet (like a Mayan or Vidalia type)
  • Red
  • Scallions
I'm going to do some planting this weekend!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Stouffer's French Bread Cheese Pizza Review

One of my "go to" pizzas has always been Stouffer's French Bread Pizza - it's fast, reliable and pretty good.  Last night was one of those nights when I needed a fast dinner, so I put the Stouffer's French Bread Pizza in the oven and tossed a salad.  Easy, right?

The problem was that during the 30 minute cooking time, Sandy's family came by to pick up some boxes we were keeping for them (they are finally moving back into their house after 120 days at a hotel due to a house fire!), then Carol, Cocoa and Lexie stopped to say hi.  Needless to say, even though I had enough sense to turn off the oven, the pizza "rested" for much longer than it should have!

By the time everyone left, it was time to eat.  Even overcooked, the pizza was pretty good, and the only thing that really suffered was the cheese topping.  The crust was crunchy, and sauce had a pleasant, mild herby flavor.  Thank you, Stouffer's, for a reliable meal!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Kelly Liken on the Food Network's Iron Chef Tonight!

This post doesn't have anything to do with pizza, but my friend Adeline's granddaughter, Kelly Liken, is going to be on the Iron Chef tonight.  I only met Kelly once - and it was a very long time ago - but I hear stories about her all the time from her very proud grandmother! 

Here's what the Food Network says about tonight's showdown on their website:  "Colorado Chef Kelly Liken takes on the newest Iron Chef Garces in her first entry to Kitchen Stadium. Will Chef Liken's fresh take on secret ingredient be enough to best Iron Chef Garces? Tune in to see whose cuisine reigns supreme!"

We're excited and wish her the best of luck!

Italian Oven Restaurant Update

5301 Grove Rd Ste 639
Pittsburgh, PA 15236
(412) 882-6500

We finally had a chance today to stop in and try the Italian Oven Restaurant at their new Caste Village location - it is gorgeous!    We loved the sleek, contemporary look and the stunning flower arrangements (provided by Herman Heyl Florists) in my favorite shades of deep pink and fuschia. 
If you remember, the Italian Oven Cafe in Brentwood Towne Square was sort of fast/casual.  You ordered at a counter, watched your food being prepared and then either sat and ate or took it away to enjoy at home.  The new restaurant is definitely ... a restaurant ... and a very nice one, at that.  We needed to get home, so ordered our meal to go.  Although the extremely friendly staff accommodated us, it is definitely more of an "eat in" restaurant and next time I would like mine to go, I will call ahead.

I ordered my favorite Italian Oven panini - the Tuscan Chicken - and it was every bite as good as I remembered, and prepared exactly as I had requested.  It came with a small bag of chips, but none of those tasty little Italian mints that used to accompany the orders ... and no olives from an olive bar, either.  Darn!  We also tried the meatball panini and, although we thought the meatballs were juicy and flavorful, they had more of a sausage taste than we like personally and we did not finish the sandwich.   They have a new filet mignon panini that we thought we will try the next time we visit ... along with the pizza, of course.

Welcome back, Italian Oven!  We missed you!

Italian Oven Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 7, 2010

California Pizza Kitchen Cheeseburger Pizza

The one great thing about shopping on a weekend day is that at the end of almost every aisle are nice people offering tiny food samples!  Today we were lucky enough to come across samples of Cheeseburger Pizza, a limited edition pizza from California Pizza Kitchen (CPK).

We only had single bites, but that bite definitely tasted like a cheeseburger, complete with ketchup and pickle flavor!  Amazing.  My thought about it is that, although I did enjoy the bite that I had, I don't know that I would want to eat more than a slice of it.  It might be nice to enjoy a slice of the CPK  Cheeseburger pizza along with something else, like a nice salad, to accompany it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Relish Magazine's Top 3 Favorite Pizzas

Relish Magazine is that fun little food magazine that is inserted into the newspaper once a month - this week's edition listed the magazine's top three favorite pizzas and asked for readers to let them know their own favorites.  Their top 3 favorite pizzas nationwide are: 

  1. Lupi's - Chattanooga, Tennessee
  2. American Flatbread - Vermont, Oregon and Virginia
  3. Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, Arizona

I haven't tried a single one of them, and since none of them are close to Pittsburgh, it doesn't look likely that I will anytime soon, but you never know!  Maybe we'll plan to do a pizza tour this summer.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Deep Dish Broccoli and Cheese Pizza Recipe

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 loaf frozen bread or pizza dough
1 c. shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. pizza sauce
1/2 c. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
1 cup diced fire-roasted diced tomatoes, well drained
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Thaw pizza dough overnight, following package directions.  I wrapped the frozen loaf loosely in parchment paper, then put it inside a large zip lock bag.

2.  Preheat oven to 475 d.  Coat an oven proof skillet with olive oil.

3.  Pat or roll dough into a 14" round and place it onto the oiled skillet.  (I messed this part up, but my finished pizza still looked okay!)  Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes. 

4.  Spread pizza sauce evenly over dough; sprinkle mozzarella cheese over sauce.  Squeeze the thawed broccoli to remove any excess moisture and layer it on top of the cheese.  Top evenly with chopped tomatoes  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

5.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is puffy and golden brown.  Be very careful removing it from the oven - the handle will be super hot!   Cut into generous slices and serve.

Note:  My testers were not sure that they would like broccoli on pizza and really complained about it ... loudly.  I made them taste it, though, and the concensus was that it was really pretty good and that they would try it again!