Perfect Pesto Potato Pizza

When I was in high school, I used to spend my days at this small mall in Princeton. It had a Barnes and Noble and a movie theater. There was also a small pizza place that sold some interesting combinations. I was going through a limited meat phase, so usually opted for veggie pizza. They had a pesto and potato pizza that sounded interesting. It was so good. I wanted to try it again, but then the mall went under renovations and the pizza place was gone. For years, I said I was going to try and recreate it. So last night I finally did.

Family Pizza Night is a standard in our house even though it doesn’t have a strict schedule. If we are making pizza, then that means all three of us are making pizza. We buy the dough pre-made or sometimes my son will prep it for us. We have even made pizza on nights where he had a friend over. My husband usually tries to make a calzone with various results. So I decided that this would be the week we made pizza. I bought three packages of dough from Walmart through their grocery pickup service. Let’s just say that that service is a lifesaver. In and out in less than twenty minutes. I just wish they had same day pickup. The closest I can ever do is 24 hours, but it is way better service than I got at the nicer supermarket in the area, Harris Teeter. Plus it is free!

Last night was an experiment night. Usually, we do the standard pepperoni pizza. Maybe I do one with olives and peppers. This night I used some leftover pesto sauce I had still in the fridge. I thinly sliced a potato and voila! Perfect pesto potato pizza…try saying that three times fast.

I made a small personal pizza, but you could always adjust the recipe to make a larger pie. The coarse sea salt was a perfect touch because there were small pockets of flavor intensity. Yum!

So here is what I did:

Materials:

  • Pizza pan or large baking sheet
  • Rolling pin
  • Spreader/spatula
  • Knife
  • Potato peeler
  • Pizza cutter
  • Ingredients:
    • 1/2 package Pizza dough, pre-made
      1/4 cup Pesto sauce
      1 small Russet Potato
      1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
      1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
      Olive oil
      Flour
      Garlic powder
      Sea salt, coarse ground
      Black pepper, coarse ground
      Italian seasoning

    Procedure:

    1. Let your dough sit out for at least 1 hour for it to come to room temperature.
    2. Peel potato and slice into thin slices. These slices should be almost translucent. The thicker they are, the longer it takes to cook and you run the risk of cooked crust and raw potato. Place slices in a bowl of water mixed with a dash of salt. This will prevent them from turning brown and oxidizing.
    3. Pre-heat oven to 450F.
    4. Once your dough is ready, flour a large flat surface. Take your dough and split it in half since you are only making a small pie. You can use the other half for another pie or even breadsticks. Roll your dough out into an oval or rectangle shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect, call it rustic!
    5. Once dough is rolled out, transfer to your pizza pan.
    6. Place dollops of pesto sauce on your dough and use your spreader to spread it out.
    7. Arrange your potato slices around your pie. Don’t overlap any of the pieces.
    8. Drizzle olive oil over your potato slices.
    9. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic over your potatoes. The amount varies depending on your preference, but I recommend coarse ground sea salt and pepper.
    10. Sprinkle your cheeses over your pizza. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the cheese. Again, the amount of seasoning you use depends on your preference, but remember that pesto already holds a lot of flavor.
    11. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes. You should start checking it at 15 minutes, crust should be slightly brown and the potatoes soft enough for a fork to pierce them.
    12. Let rest for at least 10min outside the oven to cool and then slice.

    What are your favorite non-traditional pizza toppings? Yes, I do like pineapple and ham. Bacon of course is better. Share in the comments.

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    Ham & Bean Soup for a Cold December Day

    Today is sunny, but it is one of those days where it is so cold that you don’t want to leave the comfort of your blankets, steaming mug, and comfy couch. It is the perfect day for soup…especially if you have a ham bone leftover from Christmas dinner.

    For Christmas, I got an extra inner pot for my 6qt Instant Pot. This means I can make two things back to back without having to wait until the first pot is cool enough for me to clean out. So I made an attempt at Ham and Bean soup. This recipe starts with dried beans. You could wait over night while the beans soak, but why wait when you can have them in an instant?

    Materials:

    Ingredients:

    • 16-20 oz Dried Northern White Beans with Ham Seasoning
    • 5 cups chicken stock
    • 4 cups water
    • Salt (to taste)
    • Pepper (to taste)
    • 1 cup diced carrots
    • 1 cup diced celery
    • 2 cups sliced ham (with bone)
    • 2 cups cubed potatoes
    • 1 small yellow onion, diced
    • 1 tbs minced garlic
    • 3 tbs butter

    Procedure:

    1. So to start, sort your dried beans for any small stones and rinse well. A strainer is helpful for this step.

    2. Place beans in your instant pot with 4 cups water. Set at Manual at high for 40 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes for the pin to drop.

    3. At this point, I swapped my inner pots. My beans absorbed all the water, but you might need to drain them if you still have water in your pot.

    4. Add dried onions, minced garlic, and butter to the inner pot on Sauté. Heat until onions are translucent.

    You need to keep stirring so they don’t burn. I got distracted as you can see by the brown onions here, but it didn’t affect the flavor too much.

    5. Turn off Sauté. Add diced carrots, celery, potatoes, ham, chicken stock, and seasonings. Mix well. Add your cooked beans and mix it together.

    6. Set at Manual on High for 20 minutes and let NPR for 15 minutes.

    Yum! Enjoy and try to stay warm today!

    Sweet and Sour Chicken from Scratch

    So I didn’t actually take any step by step pictures for this one, but the other night, my son said he wanted to eat Chinese food. He really just wanted to eat white rice. I admit that there is something very soothing about not only eating white rice, but also the smell of a fresh pot from the rice cooker. In our house, the rice of choice is Jasmine. So even better.

    I think I am getting a little off topic…

    Well, I happened to be on my way to Aldi to pick up some groceries and there was no way I was going to go to the store and then order out (though, yes, we have done drive thru with a full trunk of groceries before. It happens). So instead I decided that we would make Chinese food. He said he was fine with that as long as there was rice. Nice of him, huh? So I picked up a package of chicken tenders which may have been a little more in price than the breasts, but you are paying for the convenience.

    When I got home, I told him that he would be helping me make dinner. So we looked up several recipes on the internet before we found a combination that we liked and oh my goodness was it good. We made sweet and sour chicken all from scratch. I hope you enjoy because this is now a new favorite in our house.

    Materials:

    Ingredients:

    For the Rice:

    *consult your rice cooker for exact amounts. Mine uses a special scoop to measure.

    For the Chicken:

    • 1 lb Chicken
    • 3/4 cup Corn Starch
    • 1/4 cup Flour
    • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
    • 1/2 cup Lemon Flavored Seltzer
    • 1/4 Tsp Salt
    • 1/4 Tsp Pepper
    • 1 Egg
    • 2 Tbs Vegetable Oil

    For the Sauce:

    • 3 Tbs Ketchup
    • 1 cup Pineapple Juice
    • 1 Tbs Soy Sauce
    • 1/3 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
    • 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar
    • 1 Tbs Water
    • 1Tbs Cornstarch

    Procedure:

    For the Rice:

    1. Measure out the amount of rice that you wish to cook. For example, I typically use three scoops of Jasmine Rice using the special cup that came with my rice cooker. This scoop does not exactly measure to equal one cup exactly, so make sure to follow the instructions on how to measure out rice based on your rice cooker.
    2. Rinse rice in water until water is clear. This rinses the starch off the rice which make for a nice sticky rice like you would get in a Chinese restaurant. I like to use a strainer and use a back and forth method under the faucet until the water is clear and no longer cloudy from the starch. It also helps to swish it around in the pot as you are rinsing it.
    3. Measure water to the level specified for your rice cooker for the amount of scoops you added.
    4. Place in rice cooker and set cooking selection of White Rice. You could also do this in your Instant Pot, but I admit that I have not tried this yet. Same instructions would apply though.

    For the chicken:

    1. Preheat oven to 400.
    2. Cube chicken into 1 inch cubes and set aside.
    3. Add flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and baking powder to medium size bowl and use a fork to mix well together. You could also use a flour sifter to sift together the dry ingredients to make sure they are well blended.
    4. Break one egg in small cup or bowl and mix well. Add to flour mixture.
    5. Add seltzer to flour and egg mixture. This should be a mixture pretty similar to Oobleck.
    6. Dip chicken into the Oobleck-like mixture and toss well so chicken is well covered. Coat all chicken pieces. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your skillet.
    7. Heat skillet to high medium heat and add approximately 2 tablespoons oil.
    8. When oil is hot, carefully add chicken to skillet. Do not overcrowd your pan as it will lose heat.
    9. Flip chicken when starts to brown. This may be approximately 2-3 minutes. Don’t worry about cooking it through as you will be finishing in the oven.
    10. Move chicken to foil covered baking sheet.
    11. Once all chicken has been partially cooked in skillet and moved to baking sheet, place baking sheet in oven. Cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
    12. Move to a paper towel covered plate for any residual oil.
    13. Serve with the sauce form the next section.

    For the Sauce:

    1. In small saucepan, combine pineapple juice, light brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, and soy sauce. Whisk together.
    2. Bring to a boil.
    3. In small bowl, combine water and cornstarch. Add to pot and whisk in.
    4. Cook until sauce thickens, should take about one minute.
    5. Remove from heat and serve over chicken.

    Please keep in mind that this is my method, you may prefer to forgo the oven and cook it completely in the pan. I have an issue with texture and just don’t really like the texture of fully skillet fried chicken. That is why I finish in the oven.

    From Scratch…

    I have talked before about how much I love Pinterest. It is just so inspiring. So many people comment on how it is a vortex to waste your time, but I have found many useful tips and tricks from the site. My favorite is the Fauxbreeze that can be found on my Frugal Me board. So Simple! I have also found that I am dressing and accessorizing better– at least in my opinion. I have also created a Pinterest Stuff I Have Really Tried board to not only show other that it is a valuable tool, but also to prove to myself that it is not a waste of time.

    Last month, we bought a waffle maker from Target. We used a boxed mix to make the waffles and they were less than appealing. We decided that we would make a batch from scratch. Which prompted a pretty funny conversation with my 6 year old.

    Little Man: Mommy can we go to the store tomorrow?
    Me: Why? What do you want from the store?
    Little Man: Scratch!
    Me: What do you want?
    Little Man: You know! Scratch…to make waffles from!
    Me: Oh! Scratch isn’t a specific thing, it means using ingredients to make something homemade. We have to pick up the ingredients to make waffles.
    Little Man: Well, can we do that? 


    Sadly, we still haven’t made the waffles from Scratch, but I now have a stock pile of baking ingredients (including more bags of flour than I realized I already had). I started thinking while I was pinning recipes to my Food board on Pinterest that growing up, we didn’t buy a box of cake mix. There were no cans of apple pie filling. When we wanted to bake something, we pulled out the Watkins cookbook with my grandmother’s handwritten notes in the margin. Somewhere in high school, the cookbook was shelved and boxes started to take over the cabinet. I still use boxes, but is my son missing out because of this? It would be cheaper to make stuff from scratch even with coupons for all those box mixes.

    I still have my grandmother’s cookbook. It is very brittle with age now, but it is nice to have that little bit of family tradition and history. So I have decided there will be no more box mixes in my house. I do of course have to use up the mixes I still have, but I will not be purchasing more. I have quite the collection of recipes now from Pinterest, but do you have any particular favorite boards or blogs to watch for? Maybe a favorite waffle recipe? 😉