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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Mexican Biscuits and Gravy

 Mexican Biscuits and Gravy is a creative and entertaining breakfast. Bacon enchilada sauce drenched over freshly baked biscuits, eggs, and cool queso fresco. This is the breakfast you need to make every weekend.

Vacation to Cape May is just 10 days away.

Right now, I'm in that magical dreamy phase that happens right before a vacation. Anticipating the getaway, the break from monotony and work that seems to reinvigorate you allowing you to "life" again, the excited planning of where and what to eat while we're in town. That's where I am right now. 10 days of daydreaming about the beach, about having that ice cold beer with snacks about 1pm, and about sitting outside late at night watching the stars and hearing the waves crashing on the beach with a cool refreshing air on my face.

Cape May has always been a special place for me. It's where we vacationed as kids, so many hilarious inside jokes with my brothers were made there. And now, being able to start new traditions with my husband and daughter there is incredibly special. My goal is we vacation there every year, form memories, and hopefully one day Lilly will be looking forward to our Cape May vacation just as much as I am.

This right here, this Mexican Biscuits and Gravy, is going to change your breakfast game forever.

I promise, I'm not being dramatic. Eat these once and you're going to wonder why you haven't been eating this every weekend. Mexican Biscuits and Gravy uses a bacon enchilada sauce smothered over fresh biscuits then topped with eggs and tons of cool queso fresco. This is the breakfast you need. This is the breakfast your weekends have been missing.



That enchilada sauce has tons of pieces of crispy bacon. The flavor of salty bacon with seasoned crushed tomatoes will be something you'll want every weekend! Mexican Biscuits and Gravy are here to stay.

For the Biscuits
-2 cups flour
-1 teaspoon sugar
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-8 tablespoons butter, cubed
-3/4 cup milk


-6 slices of bacon
-15oz can crushed tomatoes
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 tablespoon onion powder
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 cup water
-4-6 eggs (depends on how many servings you want)
-Queso Fresco for topping

1. Prepare biscuits, heat oven to 425. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into the mixture using a biscuit cutter or large fork until it looks like cornmeal. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and slowly add the milk into the middle. Flour your hands a bit and knead dough with your fingers. Lightly flour your counter and roll dough onto surface to desired thickness. Cut biscuits with a small biscuit cutter. (You can use a round cookie cutter too. I actually have neither so just used a knife to cut out circles). Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

2. Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut/dice the raw bacon in to small pieces. Heat a medium pan over medium heat and add the bacon pieces. Cook for 10 minutes until crispy. Then spoon onto a plate lined with a paper towel and wipe clean the pan since you will use it to make the sauce.

3. To make the sauce, pour the crushed tomatoes into a the sauce pan over medium heat, add the garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, and 1/2 cup of the water. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4. While the sauce is simmering, cook your eggs in a separate pan, I prefer for this receipt anything from over easy to over hard. I do not recommend scrambled.

5. After the sauce has simmered for 10 minutes, add the bacon pieces to the sauce and the remaining 1/2 cup of water. Stir until everything is combined.

6. To serve, cut open the biscuits. and place the biscuits halves on a plate, top each biscuit half with an egg, then generously cover with the bacon enchilada sauce. Lastly, crumble as much queso fresco as you want over top. I like a lot so don't be shy to be very generous with this!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Easy Summer Pasta Salad

If you want to be the most adored person at your next pool party or BBQ, be the person that brings that pasta salad.

I think we can all agree that a cool and creamy loaded pasta salad is a basic requirement at any summer party. The meats always get all the attention: the burgers, the dogs, steaks, chicken wings. The men huddled around the grill, taking inventory of how many burgers there are, how many need toe be cheeseburgers...and who wants a dog? But you know where you'll find me? Yes, the bar area but I mean other than that...you'll find me hovered over the fixins. The pasta salad, the side dishes. That to me is what I gravitate to. I swear I could do without the grilled meats and be totally happy and full off the assortment of side dishes and appetizers at a party. That's why for me, it's so important to have a pasta salad such as this one at a summer party.

A sweet and tangy sauce of mayo, mustard, sugar, vinegar and dill drench every cork-screw rotini noodle...and take a look at all that color going on! Red onions, red peppers, bright green beans, and vibrant yellow Cheddar cheese make this an inviting dish you just want to dig in and take a heaping spoonful for your plate. Since this is a mayo-based dressing keep this in the fridge until your ready to serve, and put back in the fridge if there are any leftovers. I doubt there would be leftovers since this is so good, but you never know, and it's best to keep leftover mayo chilled.

Make this for your next summer get-together!



-1 box rotini pasta
-1 cup mayo
-3 tablespoons dijon mustard
-2 tablespoons white vinegar
-2 and 1/2 tablespoons sugar
-1/4 cup fresh dill, lightly chopped
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon pepper
-1 and 1/2 cups cooked frozen peas
-1 red pepper, diced small
-1 cup diced red onion
-6oz sharp Cheddar cheesed, cut into small chunks

1. Cook the pasta according to box directions. The strain, drizzle with a little olive oil and stir to prevent from sticking, pour into a large mixing bowl.

2. To make the dressing, in a bowl combine the mayo, mustard, sugar, vinegar, chopped dill, salt and pepper.

3. To assemble the pasta salad, pour the dressing over the pasta and stir until all the noodles are covered in the dressing. Then add in the diced red onion, diced red pepper, cooked peas, and Cheddar cheese. Stir until everything is well distributed throughout the pasta. Garnish with a little fresh dill. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.




Adapted from: Eating on a Dime

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Creamy Curry Pasta

I don't want this to sound like I've given up, but I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that I may never wear a two-piece bathing suit again.

Why am I having a hard time with this? Maybe I'm feeling like having to retire the bikinis forever means a stage of my life is over that isn't coming back. Or maybe it's that I feel a little bit like a failure for not 'snapping back' all the way since having Lilly. Moms, we are so hard on our bodies. A pregnant woman's body, especially the stomach/abs area, goes through such enormous change carrying a baby. It stretches, getting bigger and bigger until baby decides they're good and ready to come out. Once baby is here, this little invisible clock starts ticking...time to get your body back to just as it was, or maybe even better, before getting pregnant.

I remember those first few weeks after having Lilly. You literally have no ab strength, standing over the sink to wash a few dishes felt like I was doing 1,000 crunches. And the thing is, you're not even supposed to workout your ab muscles until 6 weeks postpartum since they also need time to heal before being thrown into a strenuous workout...you know those strenuous workouts that you'll have so much time and energy for now that you have a non-sleeping newborn. As time passed, and Lilly is now 20 months old, I did my best to fit in workouts here and there, be mindful about not eating sugar, and trying to eat sensibly. But here I sit, with a flabby tummy I didn't use to have, tummy rolls I didn't use to have, and a little feeling that people may wonder why I just don't workout harder.

Truth is, while I do get hit with waves of wishing my stomach was flat or wishing I had the energy and stamina for daily workouts and the willpower to eat healthy all of the time, I have to cut myself some slack. I had a baby. My body did an amazing thing, pushed to it's limits, all for Lilly. When I look at that little girl how can I beat myself up so much? I'd want her to love her body as it is, and not feel pressured to be a certain size or weight. So if anything I'm trying to not body issues take room in my life and potentially doing damage to her self-image down the road. So this summer you can catch  Lilly and I at the beach, soaking up the sun...in our one-pieces.



Since I am trying to be mindful about making meals too indulgent or high calorie, this pasta dish is so perfect. This has:

-No butter
-No cream
-No dairy
-No cheese

And yet, it's creamy and rich and so satisfying. The sauce is made with a blend of curry power, sesame seed oil, garlic and onions and a can of coconut milk. My trick is making a slurry of corn starch and water and that thickens the sauce from a soup-like consistency to more of a cream sauce. Roasted chick peas and broccoli give this some substance, each bit is so savory you'll be wanting seconds. And since this isn't packed with any high calories fats go ahead and have those seconds, or thirds.

Notes:
-When I cook with pasta I almost never use the entire box, I'm pretty consistent with using 3/4 of the box of whatever type of  pasta I'm cooking. I've always found that the entire box is just way too much.

-A slurry is a combination of water and cornstarch and is used to thicken sauces.

-You must use the canned coconut milk, you'll find these either near the Mexican/Spanish food or near the Asian/Thai food in your grocery store. Don't use the coconut milk found in the milk section of your store, it's not going to give you the same results.

For the Pasta
-3/4 box thin spaghetti
-2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
-2 garlic cloves, grated
-1/2 cup small diced white onion (I like them diced very small)
-2 teaspoons white sugar
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 teaspoons curry powder
-1 13.5oz can coconut milk
-2 tablespoons water
-4 teaspoons cornstarch
-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 ladle of reserved pasta water

For the Broccoli
-3 cups chopped fresh broccoli (this was about 2 and 1/2 heads of broccoli for me)
-1 and 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Chick Peas
-1 15.5oz can chick peas, drained
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Place the chopped broccoli florets in a large bowl, toss with the EVOO and the salt, then pour onto the baking sheet. Dump the chick peas into a strainer and toss a few times, remove any of the shells that have pulled away from the chick peas, then pour them into a bowl and season with the salt, garlic powder, and EVOO. Place the broccoli in the oven for 5 minutes, after they have cooked for 5 minutes remove the baking sheet and dump the chick peas onto the other side of the sheet, then place back in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

3. Once the chick peas and broccoli are baking, bring a large pot of water to boil (make sure you always salt pasta water!). I like my pasta on the softer side so I boil mine for 11 minutes. Want firmer pasta? Only cook it for 9-10 minutes.

4. While the pasta is cooking heat the 2 teaspoons of sesame seed oil, diced onions, and grated garlic in a medium pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the curry powder and stir to coat the onions. Pour in the coconut milk and season with the sugar and salt. In a small bowl, combine the water and cornstarch then pour into the coconut sauce, raise heat so the sauce boils, then reduce to simmer. Add 1/2 of a ladle of the boiling pasta water to the sauce and stir. Simmer the sauce on low heat until the noodles are done cooking. If the sauce at any point gets to watery/thin, add cornstarch a teaspoon at a time and whisk into the sauce, you'll just need to reboil any time you add cornstarch so that it activates and thickens the sauce. If your sauce ever gets too thick, add small amounts of the boiling pasta water to bring it back to a cream sauce consistency.

5. To serve, pour the drained spaghetti into the pan with the coconut curry sauce and stir until all the noodles are coated. To each bowl of pasta, top with the roasted broccoli and roasted chick peas.

Enjoy! This also tastes amazing as leftovers.











Adapted from: In Pursuit of More

Monday, June 10, 2019

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Pizza

Homemade pizzas deserve a gold medal.

They deserve a gold medal in "The Easiest and Fastest and Most Fool Proof Dinner Ever". Homemade pizzas beats pasta, it beats a grilled cheese, it even beats casseroles. This is the dinner you need when you sat in traffic for an extra 30 minutes because they decided 5pm was the perfect time to start road construction, when it's pouring rain but you had to make an extra stop for diapers on the way home, or when you're just too tired to slice and dice ingredients but you want something home cooked.

I always keep a few refrigerated thin crust pizza dough containers on hand, because I know that feeling of just being too exhausted at the end of a long work day. Trust me, I get you. I don't blog full time, even though I wish I did, so I understand those feelings of walking in the door and the thought of cooking dinner feels like someone just thrust you onto an episode of Chopped. So to have these types of "saves the day" recipes are everything. Ready in under 30 minutes, you're going to feel so good about making this and not ordering take out. Honestly, this is going to be faster than take out. So if you're starving, tired, and ready to eat now this recipe is for you.



Roasted red pepper sauce is a savory sauce the blends well with the large pools of cool ricotta cheese.


-1 refrigerated thin crust pizza dough
-1 7oz jar roasted red peppers, drained
-1 garlic clove
-1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-2 and 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
-1/2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
-5 basil leaves, chopped
-extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, and salt for crust

1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray, unroll the refrigerated thin crust pizza dough onto the baking sheet and spread the dough until it covers the sheet. If the dough splits and gets any holes just knead the dough a bit to close the hole. Bake for 8-10 minutes then remove from oven,

2. In a food processor or blender, blend the roasted red peppers, garlic clove, salt and 1/2 tablespoon of oil.

3. After the pizza dough has pre-baked, cover it with the Mozzarella cheese, leaving a small border for the crust. If you feel it needs more cheese depending on how large your pizza dough is, by all means add more cheese!. After the crust is covered with the Mozzarella, spoon over top in small dollops the ricotta cheese, then sprinkle over top the Parmesan cheese, then drizzle the roasted red pepper sauce, and lastly sprinkle the chopped basil over the whole pizza. With a basting brush (or you can use a paper towel as a brush) coat the crust with some extra virgin olive oil and very lightly sprinkle with garlic powder and a little salt. Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes until the crust is crispy and the cheese is browned and bubbly.

Enjoy!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Easy Enchilada Twice Baked Potatoes

Easy Enchilada Twice Baked Potatoes combine the comforting flavors of a warm enchilada sauce with sharp Cheddar cheese, soft black beans, and cool Queso Fresco for the finishing touch. An interesting and fun way to enjoy the essence of an enchilada.


I'm writing today with a lot of excitement. Tonight is date night.

Date nights are those elusive things that seem to become so rare after adding a little one (or little ones) to your life. I remember the freedom before a baby when it felt like any night had the potential to be a date night. Going to dinner on a whim, happy hour drinks, it didn't matter the time or day. As I mention in a previous post, the thing about life before kids is that your time always belongs to you. Once you add a child into the mix, well, your time is basically belonging to someone else...their schedule, their needs...and you just try and find a hidden chunk of time here and there to fit in some "you" time, or in this case, "us" time. 

We're actually celebrating tonight which is why tonight's date night is a bit more special than others. June 18 will be our 3 year wedding anniversary! To say time has flown by is an understatement. It feels like all the anticipation and nervous energy and extensive planning was only a year ago. Has it really been 3 years?So much change in only a few years. For those of you who might now know, this is my second marriage. I remember a time after my ex and I had recently split and the thought of marrying again seemed too scary. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to have kids, I was on the fence. But here we are, 5 years together, 3 years married, and one incredibly smart and beautiful little girl. I'm truly happy.

So Enchilada Twice Baked Potatoes. Ok, I have terrible segues from the content of my post to the actual food part. Sorry. But you're going to love these because they fall into the category of easy to make after working all day. Making enchilada sauce is SO easy, and it doesn't even compare to the canned kind you can buy. Seriously, please please do not buy the canned sauce and then try and make this. The flavor isn't the same and I don't think you'll like these without the homemade kind, it takes about 15 minutes to make the sauce, that's it! Also, this does make more sauce than you might need. I usually like having more sauce for leftovers or for dipping on the side. If you have extra sauce just store it in a container in the fridge and use it on some chicken or ground beef the next day. Another note, I totally use a hack and microwave the potatoes instead of baking them first in the oven. You can absolutely bake them instead, but my goal here is to get a quick dinner on the table so it helps to speed things up and during these crazy hot summer days it helps to have a day where I don't need to crank up the oven and make my kitchen feel like the depths of hell.

Make these Easy Enchilada Twice Baked potatoes for dinner this week!


The best part is finishing them off with a generous amount of crumbled queso fresco and dollops of sour cream. Don't skip the queso fresco! It adds a very crucial coolness to the little spice of the enchilada sauce.



 Packed with sharp Cheddar cheese, black beans, pools of homemade enchilada sauce and that pillowy sour cream. You'll be happy there is leftovers! 

Food Exhibit
Refer to this photo when I mention cutting around the permimeter of the potato to make and outline of how to scoop out the cooked potato.





For the Potatoes - Yields 8 potatoes
-4 baking potatoes
-3 tablespoons salted butter
-3 tablespoons milk or cream
-2 tablespoons cream cheese
-3 tablespoons sour cream
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-3/4 cup canned corn, drained
-3/4 cup canned black beans, drained
-1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
-1 10oz wheel Queso Fresco 
-Sour cream for garnishing
-Paprika for garnishing 
-Oil for brushing potato skins

For the Enchilada Sauce
-1 tablespoon vegetable oil
-1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
-Dash of chili powder (you can use more if you love heat, but I like mine mild)
-1 15.5oz can crushed tomatoes
-1 cup water
-1/2 tablespoon onion powder
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Poke each potato several times with a fork, microwave for 13-15 minutes until cooked. Pre-heat oven to 350.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, start making the enchilada sauce. Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium high heat, then add the flour and stir until the flour has absorbed the oil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir for about 30 seconds, then pour in the crushed tomatoes, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin and salt. Lastly stir in the water. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes until thickened. If the sauce is too thick, add water a little at a time. If it is too thin or watery, you can add corn starch about a teaspoon at a time and that will thicken a sauce. Any time you add corn starch to thicken a sauce you need to bring the sauce up to almost boiling so it's very bubbly, then reduce heat to low again.

3. In a large bowl, place the butter and cream cheese. Once the potatoes are done, carefully remove them from the microwave and place them on a cutting board. Slice open each potato in half so that you have two long halves. Then, using your knife cut along the inside perimeter to give yourself a guide for scooping out the inside. See Food Exhibit photo above for instructions. Scoop out the inside of each potato, being careful not to break the skins. Place all of the potato in the bowl on top of the butter and cream cheese, and place the empty skins on a large baking sheet. Lightly brush the potato skins with some oil and sprinkle with a little garlic powder just to give them some taste.

4. To the bowl of potato, add the milk and sour cream. With a potato masher or large fork, mash until everything is combined, you do NOT want a mashed potato consistency. There needs to be some lumps and structure to the potatoes. If it is too thick, add milk a tablespoon at a time to loosen the mixture. Stir in the corn, then last the black beans. You want to be very gentle with the black beans so that you don't break them apart and create too much of a black color to the potatoes.

5. To assemble, fill each potato skin with the potato mixture, top each potato generously with the sharp Cheddar cheese. Bake for 15 minutes.

6. To serve, generously spoon the enchilada sauce over each potato, then lots of crumbled queso fresco, and lastly a dollop of sour cream.

Enjoy!





Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Oven Chicken Tenders with BBQ Tahini Sauce

Oven Chicken Tenders with BBQ Tahini are chicken tenders suitable for any adult dinner. Crispy seasoned chicken tenders dipped in a tahini sauce with BBQ sauce, lime juice, and almond butter will satisfy your craving for a chicken tender. The kids will even like these too!

They tell you all about the sleepless nights with a baby. People love to talk about that. I think that's one of the first things out of someone's mouth when they respond to news about a new baby. "Hope you enjoyed your last restful night!" or "You'll sleep again when they're 18!" And to an extent, they are right. The no sleep, terrible sleep, can't even sleep on a business trip because I'm used to be woken from my sleep is all very very true. But there's something people don't mention that I struggle with daily: never-ending cleaning.

The messes. The cleaning...constant cleaning. After meal time Lilly's highchair looks like I dumped out the contents of a dustbuster all over it. The table top of her highchair becomes a finger-painting masterpiece of tomato sauce. I'll admit, I fall back on feeding her just to avoid creating yet another crumbly, saucy, all over the floor mess. And for all you pet-owners, you know where I'm going next. Our furry friends have learned if they wait underneath the highchair it's only a matter of time before  a morsel of something is dropped from those little baby fingers on it's way to the floor....well now the pet's mouth. The added problem for me is, my kitty cat has IBS. So when he's in a flare-up these little treasures don't sit well with his tummy...so guess what I'll be cleaning up next? I'm writing this as there's a sink piled high with dishes, I have a dishwasher but it's full with clean dishes that I'm too tired to unload and reload with the dirty ones. Sometimes, it ends up being a night we eat dinner on a paper plate. Parenting takes every last ounce of mental and physical energy you have, and at the end of the day sometimes the dishes sit, the crumbs stay in the highchair, and I eat off a paper plate. 

 Oven chicken tenders are great because you'll cut down on dirtying up some silverware, all cheer for less cleanup! Chicken tenders are really easy to throw together, slice up some chicken breasts, coat them in some seasoned breadcrumbs, and bake. DONE. Then you can have a little fun with the sauces, which is what I did here. BBQ Tahini sauce is THE sauce of the summer. I'm not making that up. You're going to want this on everything, I'm already thinking of burger recipes I can use this on. 

A couple things to note about this recipe:

  • Tahini sauce can be made with tahini or nut butters, you'll see below I use almond butter and I do this quite often. Tahini sauce might not be something you can find in your grocery store so don't worry, almond butter or cashew butter is a completely acceptable replacement. 
  • I always buy chicken breasts and slice them into my tenders, I never buy the chicken tenderloins. I find that the tenderloins are tougher and don't cook as well for me.
  • The seasoned breadcrumbs recipe below is a basic mix of spices, it has lots of flavor but feel free to mix it up or add heat like chili powder if that's your thing.
  • These are kid-friendly! Lilly ate these up, after I tore them up into bite-sized pieces that eventually made a crumbly mess I had to cleanup.

  
If you have extra tahini sauce you can store it in the fridge for a few days, just know you'll need to add some water to it before you use it next since it will set into a thick paste consistency once it is chilled. It will loosen back up, add water a little at a time until it reaches a nice saucy consistency again.

Eat these oven chicken tenders with BBQ tahini and enjoy a childhood favorite with a bit of a mature spin to them.






For the Chicken Tenders
-2 large chicken breasts, slice into chicken tenders
-1 cup plain breadcrumbs
-1 cup Panko
-1 cup half and half
-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon paprika
-1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-Olive oil for brushing chicken

For the BBQ Tahini Sauce
-1/4 cup almond butter
-1 lime, juiced
-1 teaspoon soy sauce
-3 garlic cloves, grated
-3 and 1/2 tablespoons BBQ sauce 
-4 tablespoons water


1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Pour the half and half into a large bowl. In another large bowl, mix the Panko, breadcrumbs, garlic powder, paprika, dry mustard, onion powder, salt and pepper. Take your chicken tenders and dip into the half and half, then into the seasoned breadcrumbs making sure they are well coated all around. Press the chicken firmly into the breadcrumbs to help them stick and get a nice coating. Place all coated chicken tenders onto a large baking sheet that's been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Last, pour some olive oil into a bowl and use a basting brush to dab a little oil over each chicken tender. Bake for 18-20 minutes. 18 minutes was perfect in my oven.

3. While the chicken tenders are baking, make the tahini sauce. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until everything is combined. If it's too thick, add more water a tablespoon at a time until it has thinned out.

4. To serve drizzle a little of the BBQ tahini over each chicken tender and serve with a generous bowl of tahini for dipping.

Enjoy!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Sun-dried Tomato Lemon Basil Pizza

Sun-dried Tomato Lemon Basil Pizza combines robust flavors to create an aromatic white pizza. Pools of cool ricotta cheese over top browned Mozzarella cheese provide the perfect foundation for the sun-dried tomatoes.

Homemade pizza saves dinner.

No, I don't think that statement dramatic at all. Homemade pizza is quite literally one of the easiest and most satisfying dinners you can make on a busy weeknight.

Let me set the stage for you. You arrive at work just after 8am. Traffic was a nightmare which means you had to skip getting your Starbuck's since the line would have made you late so the day has barely begun and you're under-caffeinated. You manage to make it through the work day, through all the conference calls, the emails, the putting out fires left and right and now it's time to get back in the car and fight the same traffic just going in the opposite direction. Oh and also, it's raining. And not a drizzle, the sky just opened and it's a downpour. You manage to make it home, not too behind schedule, you're starving and it's time to cook dinner. There's no way you're spending an hour or more preparing something....you're beginning to think of ordering from your favorite spot. This is when pizza saves dinner. Homemade pizza can be ready in under 30 minutes, it's fresh, it's cheesey, it's over the top savory, and is an all around crowd-pleaser.

That scene didn't resonate with you? How about this one. You've been home with the kids all day. Nap time didn't go as planned, it's been one tantrum after another. There's no way a Pinterest-inspired sensory box is going to happen, and it's raining so no outdoor activities. You somehow managed to make it to 6pm, bedtime for the little ones is insight. But..it's time for dinner. Time isn't on your side though, the kids won't hang in there for an hour or more as your prepare something complex. This is when homemade pizza saves the day. Quick, easy, little mess created, barely any cleanup. Kid-friendly, mom-friendly, an all around crowd-pleaser.

Yes, homemade pizza can absolutely save dinners everywhere. What makes this extra easy is using refrigerated pizza crust. While you can buy the ball of pizza dough and roll it out yourself, I feel this adds an extra unnecessary step and I don't find it easy to get a thin crust from the balled dough. A little special trick I like to do is to brush the crust with a little extra virgin olive oil then sprinkle it with garlic powder, it really helps make the crust become this final savory seasoned bite at the end of the cheesy pizza. Keep a few packages of the thin crust refrigerated pizza dough in the fridge so you're always ready to whip up some homemade pizza on one of those nights that needs a little saving.

A note on the Mozzarella cheese, while I typically like grating my own cheese, especially for Cheddar, I think it's fine to use packaged shredded Mozzarella cheese for pizzas. If you want to grate your own from a block of cheese, absolutely do that, but I've had this both ways and I find either way produces the perfect pizza cheesy-ness.


-1 package thin crust refrigerated pizza crust
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-2 garlic cloves, grated
-1 lemon, zested
-1/4 cup chopped, fresh basil
-1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
-2 and 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
-Extra virgin olive oil +  garlic powder for dusting the crust

1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray, then place the unrolled pizza dough on top and gently knead and stretch the dough until it fits the size of the pan. Don't worry if you get a hole, pinch the dough back together and press it together and it will seal back up. Once the dough has been fully unrolled, bake it for 8 minutes.

2. While the dough is pre-baking, in a medium pan over medium heat, pour the extra virgin olive oil. Add the grated garlic, the chopped basil, the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and all of the zest from the lemon. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and pour into a bowl.

3. When the dough has been pre-baked, remove from the oven. With a brush lightly brush what will be the crust with extra virgin olive oil, then very lightly sprinkle with garlic powder. If you don't have a brush, no big deal. Pour some of the oil into a small bowl, then bunch up a paper towel. Dip the paper towel in the oil and use that to brush the crust.

4. Once the crust has been prepared, cover the remaining dough with the shredded Mozzarella cheese, spoon in dollops the ricotta cheese over top the Mozzarella, sprinkle the 1/4 teaspoon of salt over top. Next, spoon the sun-dried tomato lemon basil mixture over top the ricotta and Mozzarella. Lastly, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the whole pizza.

5. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees.

Enjoy!