Tomato Basil Pizza

For my crust recipes, see this post.

The recipe is a knock-off of another recipe from my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook. I’ve been making pizza crusts from this cookbook for years, but I never looked at the opposite page at the Tomato Basil Pizza recipe.

My sister, Erin, introduced me to this gem of a recipe this past summer. I’ve made it several times since then. It’s super yummy!

Tomato Basil Pizza

  • 1 pizza crust
  • olive oil
  • 8oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced
  • dried basil
  • dried oregano
  • garlic powder
  • jalapenos, sliced (optional)

Toss mozzerella in the freezer 45 minutes prior to slicing to make the slicing easy on yourself. If you forget, no worries, it all melts anyway! Just slice it best you can.

Thinly slice mozerella cheese and tomatoes. Use a serrated knife on the tomatoes as that will bruise the tomato less than a regular knife.

Roll out crust on pizza stone or cookie sheet that has been generously coated with cornmeal.

Spread olive oil over crust, just enough to moisten the entire surface. Top with cheese slices and tomato slices. Sprinkle entire pizza with dried basil and oregano. Shake a small amount of garlic powder on the crust only (This will make the crust a treat to eat!).

Dan loves to add fresh jalapenos or serranos to just about every dish we eat. So we split the pizza in half: half with jalapenos and half with-out. This is optional, but Dan would vouch for its spicy deliciousness!

Bake at 425 (thin crust) or 375 (thick crust, pre-baked for 8 minutes) for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Mexican Pizza

For my pizza crust recipes, see this post.

I had a hankerin’ for tacos one night, but I didn’t have any tortillas. Dan suggested we make tacos into pizza, and voila, we had Mexican Pizza. I’m short on pictures for this post, but I think you can figure it out. Let me know if you have any questions.

Mexican Pizza

  • 1 pizza crust
  • olive oil
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • taco seasoning (I used the bulk taco seasoning from McCormick)
  • Shredded Monteray-Jack cheese
  • frozen corn
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • fresh cilantro
  • sour cream

Brown ground beef on stove, drain grease, and season with taco seasoning. Warm beans on stove so they will spread easier.

Roll out crust on pizza stone or cookies sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal.

Spread a small amount of olive oil over crust. The next steps are completely to taste. You probably won’t use the whole can of refried beans or ground beef. The more you put on, the longer the pizza will take to cook.

Spread refried beans over crust, sprinkle with seasoned beef, frozen corn, thinly sliced onions, and shredded cheese.

Bake at 425 (thin crust) or 375 (thick crust, pre-baked for 8 minutes) for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Top cooked pizza with fresh diced tomatoes and torn cilantro. Serve with sour cream. Enjoy!

Pesto Veggie Pizza

For my crust recipes, see this post.

Dan and I were blessed with a grocery sack filled with basil near the end of the summer. I made and froze lots of pesto from that bag of basil. This is the first recipe I’ve made from my homemade pesto.

Pesto Veggie Pizza

  • 1 pizza crust (thick or thin)
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1-2 green bell pepper
  • A bunch of small tomatoes, halved (grape, cherry, any small type)

Toss mozzarella in the freezer 45 minutes prior to slicing. It will be easier to slice if partial frozen.

Thinly slice cheese, onion, and green pepper. Cut tomatoes in half.

Spread a small amount of olive oil over crust then spread with pesto. I find the olive oil helps the sauce to spread easily and allows you to use less sauce which I think is key to a perfect pizza.

Top with mozzerella cheese. Don’t worry aout covering then entire pizza; it will spread as it melts.

Finish off with veggies.

Bake at 425 (thin crust) or 375 (thick crust, pre-baked for 8 minutes) for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

We really love our veggies, so we put quite a few on our pizzas. Adjust the proportions to your liking.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

For my crust recipes see this post.

This recipe was derived partially from my love of The Pioneer Woman’s BBQ Chicken Pizza and partially from “these-are-the-only-ingredients-I-have-in-the-fridge.” Yep, I’m that kind of cook.

Emily’s BBQ Chicken Pizza

  • 1 pizza crust (thick or thin)
  • BBQ sauce
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 1 medium red onion
  • olive oil

Place chicken breasts in oven safe baking dish. Spread all sides with BBQ sauce. I used our homemade Honey-Pepper BBQ sauce from our pig roast, shown here. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and juices run clear.

Slice chicken breast and pepper-jack cheese. Mine cheese was pre-sliced as it was the left-over cheese from our pig roast. Waste not!

Thinly slice the onions, cook in sauce pan drizzled with olive oil until caramelized.

Roll out crust, spread a thin layer of olive oil over crust then spread a couple tablespoons of BBQ sauce over crust. Do not drown the crust in sauce!

Layer the crust with cheese, chicken, and top with caramelized onions. Drizzle a little more BBQ sauce over entire pizza.

Bake at 425 (thin crust) or 375 (thick crust, pre-baked for 8 minutes) for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown.


Pizza Week

This week I’m going to focus on a food group that is near and dear to my heart. Pizza.

I’m not joking. I love pizza. I make it all the time in all different ways. There’s no wrong way to make a pizza.

I’m going to start the week out with the crust. I tend to use one of two recipes for my crust. I don’t vary it too much. Why ruin a good thing?

Betty Crocker Pizza Crust (Regular Thickness)

  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup very warm water (120° to 130°)

In a mixer with the bread hook attachment (or the paddle if your mixer is like mine and the bread hook doesn’t reach the bottom of the bowl), add water and sprinkle with yeast. Add 1 cup of flour, sugar, salt, and oil and mix for a couple minutes until well mixed. Gradually add more flour until dough leaves the sides of the bowl.

Place dough on floured surface and knead for five minutes or until dough is springy. Let rest while you prepare the rest of the toppings.

Flatten dough with hands or rolling pin. Lay on pizza stone or cookie sheet that has been generously sprinkled with cornmeal. Bake at 375 for 8 minutes with no toppings. Remove from oven, add toppings, and return to oven for 15-20 minutes. Crust should be golden brown and cheese melted when finished.

Note: The instructions above are my own, not Betty Crocker’s. I did take the proportion of the ingredients from the Betty Crocker website.

Substitutions: I regularly substitute wheat flour for the white flour above. Either substitute completely or use half and half.

Betty Crocker Italian Pizza Crust (Thin Crust)

  • 1/2 cup water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 package regular or fast-acting dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

In a mixer with the bread hook attachment (or the paddle if your mixer is like mine and the bread hook doesn’t reach the bottom of the bowl), add water and sprinkle with yeast. Add 1 cup of flour, sugar, salt, and oil and mix for a couple minutes until well mixed. Gradually add more flour until dough leaves the sides of the bowl.

Place dough on floured surface and need for five minutes or until dough is springy. Let rest while you prepare the rest of the toppings.

Flatten dough with hands or rolling pin. Lay on pizza stone or cookie sheet that has been generously sprinkled with cornmeal. Top with desired toppings. Do not pre-cook the crust. It is too thin.

Bake at 425 for 15 to 20 minutes. Crust should be golden brown when done.

Note: The instructions above are my own, not Betty Crocker’s. I did take the proportion of the ingredients from the Betty Crocker website.

Substitutions: I do not substitute wheat flour in this recipe. Wheat flour takes longer to break down meaning the crust will not stretch as easily. It will tear. If you want to use wheat flour, try letting the crust rise for 30-40 minutes before rolling out to let the flour break down.

My Side of the Story – Part 7

God Had Other Plans: Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I must take a quick moment to tell you about my husband, Dan. Obviously, he was the one to take me into the hospital on Saturday morning. He had to repeatedly answer the same four questions each time I woke up, Where am I? Why does my head still hurt? Does my mom know? Did you tell Erin I can’t come see her today? In the past, he always got annoyed when I’d tell him the same story over and over.

I think God has a sense of humor even during the bad times.

Anyways, what I was going to point out is that he never left my side. He stayed in my room every night, he prayed with me, and he read the Bible to me for hours on end. There really are so many other things, but most you don’t want to hear about. Let’s just say he dealt with the good, the bad, and the very ugly during the hospitalization. I could never say enough about the wonderful, caring husband he was to me. He is truly a man of God, and I am honored God let me spend my life with him.

Back to the story: I am doing very well. So no more neuro checks every hour all day and all night.

Thank you Lord for some real sleep!

I am being transferred to a regular room for my last night in the hospital, Tuesday, November, 17. I’m going home on Wednesday to wait for a surgery date to be set.

Tuesday night my friend Megan came to see me. We had a great visit. We talked and laughed for a long time. It was so good to sit and chat.

My roommate that night wasn’t the most pleasant. She complained loudly and snored even louder (this is all before 9pm!). In her defense, she just had back surgery. However, she would wake up from her napping screaming about the pain and demanding more meds.

Dan didn’t have a chair that laid down in the room. Oh boy, this is going to be a long night.

Oh we had no idea…

I don’t know the real time frame, but within 30 minutes of Meg leaving, another headache started with a vengeance. Sharp, searing pain is shooting in my head.

We push the call button for the nurse.

She says she’ll be right there.

She’s not here.

Push the call button again.

“Something’s wrong. We need you to come”

She’ll be right there.


Pushing the call button repeatedly now.

I start crying now which makes it even worse. I suspect what is going on: my brain is hemorrhaging again. It’s a lot more scary when you know what is going on.

I ask Dan if I’m going to die. It’s all very real now. He starts to tear up. “No, you’re not going to die.” He starts to pray.

Still no nurse.

Where is she????

Push the call button again. (Funny thing about being in a regular room versus the ICU, the nurses don’t come running when you push the call button on the regular floor. Bummer for me.)

Dan keeps looking out the hall for the nurse.

Finally the nurse arrives.

She decides that I need to go immediately down for a CT scan to see if the brain is bleeding again.

It HAS to be. It feels just like before but worse.

There is no transport bed available. I am in one of the older sections of the hospital, but the only choice is to wheel my bed down to where they do the CT scans.

The trip was horrible to say the least. I’m curled in the fetal position just trying to bear the pain, and the bed is hitting every corner and doorway on the way down.


In the elevator, I try to explain to the nurse that I’m not faking the pain. I’m really in a lot of pain right now. In fact, I could only whisper it hurt so much.

She says she knows I’m not, but I still don’t think she believes me. I again try to tell her I’m not a winer like my roommate. She says she knows. I give up.

Results from the CT scan: my brain is hemorrhaging again. I am taken directly to ICU again. A couple wonderful nurses are waiting in the room for me when I get there. They promise some pain meds as soon as they talk to my doctor. It seems like forever, but I finally get some pain meds. Fentanyl is a beautiful, wonderful drug.

Relief is on the way…


Next: My Side of the Story – Part 8

Red or Orange?

I bought these mums for $4 on a roadside stand a few weeks ago.

What color would you guess the blooms are?

Red or orange?

Here is what they look like today.

Do they even look like the same flowers?

I’m baffled.

Table Lamp Re-do

Remember this lamp?

I finally got around to painting it. I love the drum shade and the shape/texture of the lamp base. The one thing I didn’t like was it was too white. The shade has a nice linen-like texture, but it was slightly off from the ceramic base.

My inspiration was the orchid in this picture frame collage.

I wanted to get a little deeper orange or more of a red-orange, but the closest I could find in the finish I wanted (gloss) was this orange. It’s a tad bright, but if I don’t like it, I’ll just paint it again!

This lamp was in the clearance section of Homegoods due to some scuffs on the bottom of the lamp. I was banking on the spray paint covering it up.

First I taped up the cord and light bulb part then applied several light coats of spray paint.

I debated about using primer first, but the spray primer I had on hand was for metal only. So I decided to skip that part.

The scuffs were a bit difficult to cover, but I don’t think they are too noticeable now.

I let the lamp cure for a few days in the garage.

Ok, ok, it was a few weeks.

As I took off the tape, I noticed an error.

Why didn’t I paint that white part? I decided to continue putting it together, but I might need to go back and paint that piece.

I haven’t painted the side table I bought, but I got it cleaned up to set up with the lamp.

First I cleaned it up with my go-to all purpose cleaner: half vinegar, half water.

I bought the table from Hope Thrift, a local thrift shop near here. It definitely had the second-hand smell. Yuck. The vinegar and water solution cut the smell right out. Love it!

Here’s the finished product.

Do you think I should paint the ceramic bulb on top that holds the shade on? What about the white part leading to the bulb out of the base?

Overall I like it, it’s not finished, but it’s a good start.

Apple Extravaganza!

I’m so lucky to have friends that are as food obsessed as me! Or as homemaker-ish as me…or fruit crazy as me…whatever you call it, I’m so glad they all like to have these food making days. It’s a great time and lots of yumminess comes out of it!

We tackled many different projects with our apples: applesauce, pie fillings, canned apples in a simple syrup, and plain apples for freezing.

I didn’t have enough time to take step-by-step pictures of everything we did. I’ll try to explain as I go, nothing is rocket science.

(1) Applesauce

Kim’s mother-in-law loaned us an apple smashing contraption that made making applesauce a breeze!

Cut washed apples into quarters and boil for 30 minutes. Remove the stem, but don’t worry about anything else.

Spoon cooked apples into the funnel and turn the crank!

The machine mushes up the apple flesh while removing the skin, seeds, and core. Isn’t it amazing?!?

The blue/green bowl in back caught the skins, seeds, and cores, and the red bowl caught the sauce.

Making applesauce this way is by far the easiest way to do it that I’ve tried. If you want unsweetened applesauce, you are finished. If you want to add sugar, honey, or cinnamon. Just add to the finished product, stir, and store in whatever method you like!

I froze my portion in ziplock bags, but Kim didn’t have a lot of freezer space so we canned hers.

(2) Apple Pie Fillings

I took this idea from my mom. She has been freezing pre-made pie filling like this for years. I have all of my friends hooked on it to.

I follow the basic Betty Crocker Apple Pie recipe. The linked recipe is close, but not exact to what I used. I always make 8 cups of apples. I like a really full pie. The measurements don’t matter too much as it is hard to mess this up. Also, I use the sweetened apples for a variety of things throughout the year, not just apple pie. Most often, I use the filling to make apple crisp. I just put the thawed apple filling in a glass baking dish, make an oatmeal crumb topping and bake. It’s delicious!

Here’s our set up in Kim’s kitchen: The peeling/coring/slicing station:

The seasoning station:

The mixing station:

The finished station!

(3) Canned apples in simple syrup

I didn’t get too many pictures of this, but this was the basic process.

Peel/Core/Slice apples

Cover in simple syrup in a pan on the stove.

Then pour into canning jars.

Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

(4) Plain apples for freezing

Last year I tried freezing peeled/sliced/cored apples in a ziplock with a little bit of lemon juice to prevent browning. It worked out perfectly!

Whenever I need to cook with them, I just break off a frozen chunk (they don’t freeze too hard), chop it up, and put into whatever I’m baking.

The two main things I made with these apples are Fruity Baked Oatmeal and Apple Muffins. I’ll have to find some new recipes to use these in.

Any ideas? What do you like to do with apples?

Apple Picking

One of my favorite activities is to pick fruit and store it in some fashion. West Michigan has good soil for growing fruit, so there are plenty of u-pick farms around for me to fulfill this obsession of mine.

I haven’t blogged about every season, but I usually pick strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and apples. Raspberries made it in this year too, but it was kind of disappointing. I’ll explain later.

It’s fall now though and time for apples! Fall is such a great season. The cool crisp air is invigorating as you pick apples then you have a perfect excuse to warm up with a nice, hot mug of apple cider. If you are having cider, you can’t pass up pumpkin donuts or cider donuts or caramel covered apples or fresh, hot cinnamon rolls (These all were available at the orchard we picked at. I had one of each!).

As I write this, I’m not so sure I like fall so much as I like fall food. There’s food that goes best with each season, and maybe that’s while I like the changing of the seasons…

Summer – fresh fruit, grilled veggies, hamburgers, corn on the cob, lemonade

Fall – pumpkin anything (pie, donuts, pancakes, coffee cake, muffins…), cider, caramel apples, squash

Winter – hearty soups, ham, pecan pie, oranges, clementines, mashed potatoes

Spring – strawberries, first fresh foods on roadside stands

I digress. I’m supposed to be writing about my fall apple picking excursion.

I had to pleasure of getting together with my old college roommates to pick apples and prepare all kinds of apple goodies with them. I just love those girls, and it warms my heart every time we’re together.

The apples that were ripe when we went were Jonagold (my favorite) and Gala. Here are some pictures from the orchard.

The four of us at the apple orchard. Cristy wasn’t able to make it. We missed you Cristy!

The picture is not so great. I should not have picked an old person to take the picture for us!

On the way back to Kim’s house, we stopped at a raspberry farm to pick some raspberries too.

The vines were lovely.

The fruit was lovely.

The only not-lovely part was it took four of us at least 30 minutes to pick this much fruit.

I now understand why raspberries are so expensive in the grocery store.

We let Erin keep all of the raspberries because it wasn’t much to split between four people. I may have picked more if every other one didn’t land in my mouth. Not 100% sure on that one. 🙂

Fun times with my girls. Up next, apple extravaganza!