Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pizza Tips

I've been making homemade pizza since the first year of my marriage 8 1/2 years ago.  I have to admit, it was just so-so until the last few years. (The pizza, that is, not my marriage.   That's been great from the start!).

Here are a few tips I've learned along the way to make your pizza easier and tastier.


  • Oil your pan generously...more oil improves the flavor and texture of the crust.
  • Oil your hands to spread the crust.  I spent years adding flour like you would for bread.  Oil your hands a bit and spread the crust by hand--it's incredibly easy and great for the taste of the crust.
  • Put veggies under the cheese, but always put pepperoni on top of the cheese.  It makes is crisp on the edges and adds some texture and yumminess.
  • Switch up the sauce.  My family can get tired of a regular tomato pizza.  Try barbecue sauce with leftover chicken or enchilada sauce and taco meat with a little crumbled tortilla chips on top.  Get creative.  It's really hard to mess up a pizza. 
  • When  you take the pizza out of the oven, grab some butter or margarine and go over the crust quickly...try it and you'll never go back.  It makes it shiny and awesome.


Hey readers, got any other pizza tips?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Being Thankful

We had a lovely, restful Thanksgiving here in our house.  I was thinking of this blog through all the cooking of the meal, and now the leftovers, and I was overwhelmed by the bounty that we have.

I know that the focus of this blog is largely on economy and how to make due with less, and recipes that are cost-effective, but still yummy.  There's a great need for learning how to cook and live within a tight budget.  I know what it's like to come home from the store frustrated in the little amount we have to make due with.  I know what it's like to not want to go shopping because you can't afford much.  I understand what it feels like to put something back on the shelf because you can't afford it.  I get it...I understand.

With all that said, I was amazed at how much bounty my family, and probably every reader of this blog had for the holidays.  Much as we need to be careful of how we spend, we are still blessed with so much!  When I feel discouraged with our money issues, I'm going to look back to how good God has been and continues to be to us!  There's a difference between needing to economize and being in real need.  Most of us Americans, regardless of budget, rarely see hunger or need.  We really do live in the bounty of God's goodness...whether we can spend unlimited money at the store or not.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hello All...

I wanted you all to know that I'm taking the week off blogging to celebrate Thanksgiving with my wonderful family.  We'll finish up our pizza posts on Monday, then start up with the apple recipes.  I've got a new contributor to introduce, and lots of lovely apple ideas that are great for year round cooking.

If you have any apple recipes, ideas, or tips, send them on to me at crazycreativemag@gmail.com.  Enjoy your holiday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pizza Bites

Here is a recipe that's a regular thing in our house.  You've got to try this one out!  It's from a great website called Annie's Eats.

Just a note, whenever I make these, I make a double batch.  We usually eat just over one batch and the leftovers are great for lunches or for freezing for individual serving use.  They're also GREAT with tomato soup...just saying!

Here's the link...Pizza Bites.  Pop by and comment here if you try them out or if you have any variations!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza!

Here is a suggestion by a blogger friend, Lindy.  You can find her lovely blog here: Who Am I?.  She's a great resource for all you crocheters out there...I especially love her cute little flowers...so clever!

She suggested this recipe from Taste of Home, which I plan on trying sometime soon.  Perhaps next time I make Fettucine Alfredo, I'll keep a little sauce for this tasty treat.  You could probably use cubed chicken instead of the nuggets if you don't have any handy...in other words, for those of you without kids in the house.  Check it out here: Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza.  Thanks for the input, Lindy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Breakfast Pizza

Here's another pizza idea from Susan!

Breakfast pizza

This is a true family favorite.

a package of English muffins
eggs
real butter
breakfast meat (either bacon, sausage or ham)
American sliced cheese

 Toast the English muffins. I usually make 2 per adult and 1 per child. Brush lightly with butter. Set aside. Cook the breakfast meat-drain the meat from the fat/grease. Chop the meat into small bite size pieces. Set aside. Scramble the eggs and season as desired with salt & pepper. Add breakfast meat in with the eggs, mixing well. Place muffin on plate, top with egg & cheese mixture, and top with a slice of cheese. Place loaded muffin in microwave for 10 seconds to melt cheese. (with my family, I do a plate load at a time). You can also add onions & peppers to the breakfast meat to give it a spicer taste. You can also add tomatoes to this. This is great to make espeically for when you have company.....you can line a cookie sheet fill of these and melt the cheese in a warm oven.♥

Monday, November 14, 2011

Creative Leftovers: Garlic Cheese Bread

My kids are eating this as we speak and I couldn't believe how great it turned out!  Here is what we had:

Leftovers: 1 small tub garlic butter from last night's pizza, tiny bit cheapie Parmesan, 3/4 cup colby jack cheese

Here's what we did:

Make a half batch of pizza crust (enough for 1/2 pizza).  Grease a round cake pan.  Smoosh pizza crust down and top with garlic butter.  Sprinkle with a small handful of Parmesan and 1/2-3/4 cup other cheese.  Sprinkle with a bit of dried basil and parsley.

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 17-18 minutes.  Pop it out onto a cutting board and cut into wedges.  We had ours with Ranch dressing, but it'd be a great side for spaghetti or even as an appetizer with pizza sauce.

You could whip up your own garlic butter to produce the same results...butter, garlic powder, salt.  Let me know if you have any additional suggestions!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pizza Sauce

Now that we know how to make up our crust (or take a short cut and buy pre-made...more pricey than homemade, but still cheaper and healthier than carry-out), let's talk sauce.  There are a lot of options for pizza sauce.  You can buy pre-made sauce, which is not terribly expensive.  You can use spaghetti sauce.  It's a little thinner than pizza sauce, but tastes pretty much the same.  You have the added benefit of using leftovers, too!  If I have leftover sauce from something (meatless is a better bet, usually), I use that first.  If not, I make my own pizza sauce from tomato paste.

One can of tomato paste will sauce two large pizzas.  Here's what to do.  Scoop out half of the tomato paste and put it in a small bowl.  Add enough warm water to thin it out to just a little thicker than spaghetti sauce.  It's usually between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of water for us.  Then season to taste.  I add a pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, dried basil, parsley, garlic, and oregano.  If you have any fennel seed, it'd be a fantastic addition.  Make sure to taste as you season, and careful with the garlic.  Another thing to keep in mind...most meats and cheeses you add to your pizza will be pretty salty, so don't overdo it salting the sauce.  Slather it on, add toppings and cheese and bake as usual.  Save the other half can for next time, or make up another pizza to freeze!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pizza Dough by Susan

Okay, it's officially time to start in with our pizza recipes and ideas.

Here's Susan's take on pizza!

Pizza is a favorite treat for our family. We love pizza, but the cost alone can kill our food budget. Anytime I fix roasted lemon pepper chicken, sausage, or ham, I am able to set aside some meat to freeze for when I do make pizza.....I then have my meat toppings.

Having a good pizza dough recipe is important....and this is a great recipe.

Pizza Dough by Susan
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1/2 teasp salt
2 tsp olive oil
2 1/2-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
cornmeal

Directions-dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed bowl. Add salt, olive oil, and 2 1/2 cups flour. Mix until well blended. Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough forms a ball and cleans sides of bowl. Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl, turning once to grease sides. Cover, let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch dough down. Brush a 14 inch pizza pan with oil, sprinkle with cornmeal. Press dough across bottom of pan, forming a collar around edge to hold filling. Top with desired fillings. Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!!......I also like to use a large heart shape cake pan to make my pizzas....the family loves the shape of a heart pizza.♥.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Just a Head's Up...

I've decided to post Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on this blog...at least until school is done for the year.  So, this will be my last Tuesday post for a while.  I've been loving having the help of so many different ideas, so if you have something worthwhile, by all means send it on to me at crazycreativemag@gmail.com.

Tomorrow we'll start up with our ideas for pizza, one of the regular homemade meals here in my house.  I'm very excited to share new frugal tips, ideas, and recipes!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Did you ever want one of those delightful pumpkin rolls, but were just too busy (uh . . . lazy) to make one?  I often did.  Then my friend, Val, gave me this easy cake recipe that has the same taste, without all the work!

~  Christine from The Good, The Pure and The Lovely

Mix together:
1 box of Spice Cake Mix
15 oz canned pumpkin
1 cup Miracle Whip
3 Eggs

Pour batter in a 9x13 greased pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Now, cream together:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter, or margarine, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons. milk

Add in 4 cups of powdered sugar, and mix until smooth.

Spread icing on top of cake after the cake has cooled.  Store cake in refrigerator, if you have any leftovers!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I love salty and crunchy snacks.  One of my fall favorites is roasted pumpkin seeds.  Are you ready to try to make your own? 

Start by cleaning out a pumpkin and rinsing the seeds well.  Pat the seeds dry.  Spread the seeds in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Drizzle oil (I use canola) over the seeds.  Mix well, then sprinkle with salt and pepper (if desired).  Pop in a 325 degree oven for for 25 minutes.  Stir half way through baking time, and check frequently during the last ten minutes.  When they are lightly golden, they are ready.  Wait until cooled, to enjoy. 

Any old pumpkin will do.  If you have a leftover jack-o-lantern pumpkin, you can use it for this.  If you are baking a pie from scratch, that will work, too.  If you are really adventurous, try some different spices, like cayenne, with your salt.  Have fun roasting!

~ Christine from The Good, The Pure, and The Lovely

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hello again frugal cooks...

My family and I are officially back and are trying to get our household under control.  We'll resume the blogging tomorrow morning.  I'm looking forward to all your pizza recipes and ideas!