Chicken & Roasted Red Pepper Pizza

Hello, readers!

Yes, I was absent last week… and I didn’t even have the courtesy to say why, did I? You see, I was on a top secret mission to California! My husband (this dude) was on Jeopardy! It has been pretty much a lifelong goal of his to be on the show.


And now I’m on another top secret mission – I can’t reveal anything about what happened on the show! It hard… very hard… but I can tell you to watch Jeopardy on Thursday, April 8! I know it’s far away; it will be a long wait for us too, but you don’t want to miss the show!


Since returning from California I’m trying very hard to get back into the graduate school + DinnerCakes mindset. I often find myself daydreaming back to our time at Sony Studios and listening to Alex Trebek answer questions from the audience by going off on humorous rants (did I mention he’s also very polished in real life?).


Ok, ok.. I’ll try not to talk about it constantly. Let’s talk about this pizza.


Today’s pizza is probably the best one that we have made. The toppings work together flawlessly. I even took a page out of Chef Edwin’s book for the roasted red peppers. I had actually never roasted them before, but it’s definitely the way to go here.


There are a few steps to get all the toppings reading, but this pizza really comes together wonderfully. Enjoy!


Chicken & Roasted Red Pepper Pizza

1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked this way and sliced
1/2 cup frozen spinach, cooked according to package instructions
1 red bell pepper
freshly grated mozzarella cheese for sprinkling
1 ball of pizza dough from a local bakery or Italian store
1 batch of Mom’s marinara sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
flour, to sprinkle on work surface

Preheat oven to 525 F. Flour a cookie sheet and roll out dough to a 16 inch circle. Drizzle olive oil over the dough.

For the roasted red pepper, here’s what Edwin instructed me to do:

1) Cut the pepper in half longways, starting at the stem.
2) Put the pepper pieces directly on your burner, turning it as it blackens.
3) After it’s done, put the pieces in a gallon ziploc bag until it cools enough to handle.
4) When they’ve cooled, pull off the blackened skin using your fingers. Edwin adds, “If you have a hard time getting some skin off, just do what you can without destroying it and make a note of it for next time.” (Some other questions I had that he answered for me: No, the ziploc bag won’t melt when you put the peppers inside and no, don’t eat the black stuff).

Pour sauce over dough, then add cheese, cooked and drained spinach, roasted red peppers and sliced chicken.

Transfer cookie sheet to oven and cook for approximately 11 minutes (we use a pizza stone, so we preheat the oven with the pizza stone in the oven, then carefully transfer the uncooked pizza to the heated stone. It takes two of us to transfer the pizza without letting it fall apart, so proceed with caution if you go this route).

Let pizza cool for 2-3 minutes. Slice and serve!

Pesto Pizza (hold the milkshakes… please)!


You know those crazy people who don’t like sauce on their pizza (cough-my husband’s sister-cough)? Well this one’s for you!

pesto and tomatowith cheese

Remember the other week when Morgan and I went to a neat gourmet store/cafe in Charlottesville called Feast? Well we also bought a little jar of basil pesto.


I have a great memory of going out late for food one night with a friend in college – for some reason we thought pesto pizza washed down with giant milkshakes at midnight was a great idea. We were wrong (dead wrong), but that doesn’t mean pesto pizza isn’t delicious!


Pesto Pizza

1 ball of dough
1 jar of basil pesto or make your own (see recipe links below)
1 tomato
1 cup of freshly grated mozarella
a little bit of oil and a bit of flour

We bought a delicious and inexpensive bag of pizza dough at Chandler’s Bakery in Charlottesville.

If you have a pizza stone, preheat the oven with the stone in there to 525F. Flour a baking sheet and roll out the dough – preferably on a baking sheet that will make it easy to transfer the pizza to the stone (that’s always the hardest part!).

Drizzle a small bit of oil on the dough and then spread your basil pesto over it. It doesn’t take much pesto, maybe 1/4 cup for a medium size pizza. If you’d like to make your own, I recommend 101 Cookbooks’ recipe; Simply Recipes also has one but I haven’t tried it.

Slice the tomato and then cut the slices in half (I hate it when you bite into a piece of tomato but can’t bite through it all the way… let’s just go bite-sized!). Spread the slices over the pizza. Grate your mozzarella and sprinkle gingerly over the tomatoes.

Pull out the oven rack as far as you can, and get another person to help you carefully transfer the pizza to the stone. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

Emptyin' Out The Fridge – "Leftover" Pita Pizza

Next week is going to be pretty exciting for me. On Monday I leave for California to begin a road trip through some of southwest US with a friend from college. This trip has gone through many (many) changes since its original inception back in June and, quite frankly, I’m very glad it still happening. We’re going with the flow, but our plan is to hit San Diego, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Zion and Vegas!

Leftovers for a Pita Pizza

I’ve been trying to go through any leftovers I may have, as I’ll be emptying out the fridge before I take off. Soups are my usual method of disposing of extras. Just throw whatever veggies you have on hand with some mire poix, stock, a few spices and you’re bound to come up with something tasty. It’s hard to make a ‘bad’ soup, if you ask me; something you disdain putting in your mouth. My appetite was craving something more substantial, however, and I ended up in the delicious territory of pizza land. I don’t even remember the last time I HAD pizza.

Pita Pizzas Ready For The Oven

Treat this as more of a guideline or inspiration rather than a recipe. This is nothing more than the union of my personal taste with what I had available. Feel free to go nuts (I’ve never had corn on my pizza before). Pitta, muffin, real dough…. whatever tickles your fancy. Be sure to comment on where your creativity takes you.


Oh, and if any of you have suggestions on where to eat where we’re headed, throw em my way. 😉

“Leftover” Pita Pizzas
If you have a broiler, toast the bottoms of your pitas for a few minutes to give it a more close-to-the-original taste. I went with a frying pan (no oil), with moderately satisfactory results. Consider this an optional chip.

4 pita breads; cut in half
1/2 cup tomato sauce
4 ounces mozzarella
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 jalapeño pepper; sliced
1/2 red onion; chopped
1/4 red bell pepper; chopped
handful grape tomatoes; sliced
a few pinches of oregano
a few pinches of basil

Move a rack to one of the bottom levels and preheat the oven to 400.

Spread several spoonfuls of tomato sauce (your own or from a jar) on each pita, leaving a half an inch for the crust. Add about half the cheese to your pitas then sprinkle with your vegetables. Follow with the remaining cheese and your herbs.

Bake your pizzas for 8-10 minutes, until cheese has melted. Let cool briefly and enjoy.

English Muffin Pizzas

Today we’ll be having a different kind of culinary adventure – how about an adventure for people who are moving in under a week, have packed up pretty much all of their belongings, whose lower back and legs are killing them from packing and cleaning things up and who are left with a lot items that might not naturally go together?


Yeah, that’s probably a little too specific, huh? I won’t start whining about how exhausted I am, but I will admit that I may have just fallen asleep in the closet…

So today I bring you english muffin pizzas! They’re not the fanciest or most sophisticated dinner or lunch, but you shouldn’t knock them until you try them. It’s summer, and they’re light, easy and really tasty.


You know how there’s always that person in the group who can’t have cheese? Or someone doesn’t like meat? Another person doesn’t like a lot of sauce on their pizza? Remarkably, everyone can get exactly what they want with english muffin pizzas. Set up an assembly line of ingredients for kids and/or adults and have everyone decorate their own – there’s no messy, sticky pizza dough to roll out, and there’s no grease like with take out. Make as many or as few as you like.

english muffin pizzas

English Muffin Pizzas

whole wheat english muffins
fresh shredded mozzarella
Ghost Baker’s mom’s marinara
fresh basil, torn into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350F. Toast english muffins first by themselves for a crispier crust. Add ingredients above as desired and add to a baking sheet. Cook until mozzarella melts.

Spinach and Mushroom Pizza with Mom's Marinara Sauce

Groan – It’s hard to write this post when I’m still so full from dinner… four hours later! But if I had it to do over again, I’m sure I’d still wind up eating way too much.

flour cookie sheet

My husband, Morgan, and I got back into town yesterday evening from a few long and difficult days. Thanks to everyone who sent good thoughts our way.

rolled doughspread sauce

Getting back into the swing of things, my cooking/baking wish for the next week is that I’ll avoid baking at least until Easter because I indulged in way too many delicious and fattening things at northern bakeries (ever had Checkerboard Cake? We bought some after my dad exclaimed that he used to enjoy it from time to time while growing up. I had never had it before, and now you can bet I’ll be trying to make it soon).


So today was mostly comprised of cleaning up the apartment, organizing for the week, grocery shopping and decompressing. The weather was gorgeous, and Morgan and I decided to pick up some pizza dough from the nearby Italian Store (I’ve mentioned here before that they have outstanding dough).


We bought ingredients for a spinach and mushroom pizza, but this time we made the sauce from scratch using my mom’s excellent marinara sauce recipe. It’s recently become an obsession of ours to make this sauce for spaghetti, chicken, pizza and anything that could possibly use marinara sauce.


I have to say this is our finest pizza yet. Making this sauce from scratch is so easy and probably less expensive than buying ready made sauce. We have leftover sauce, so we keep it in an air-tight container in the fridge; it should keep for the week. The spinach was also a great addition and doesn’t call a lot of attention to itself.


I’ll also repeat myself and say how you really need to find a local (non-chain) pizza shop in your area and try to buy a bag of dough. Waiting to try making your own pizza is just depriving yourself of some of the best pizza you’ll ever have!


Spinach and Mushroom Pizza

1 16 oz bag of pizza dough
1 cup freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package frozen spinach, cooked according to package instructions
1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
flour, to sprinkle on work surface

Heather-Ghost Baker’s Mom’s Marinara Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 small onion, finely chopped
1 16 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
3/4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt

For sauce – Add olive oil to a medium saucepan set to medium temperature. Add garlic and onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and add remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 30 minutes, until mixture is thickened. Stir occasionally. Makes about 3 cups of sauce.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 525 F and cook spinach according to package instructions in a small saucepan. Saute sliced mushrooms in a separate small pan for 2 to 3 minutes.

When sauce is just about done, flour a cookie sheet and roll out dough to a 16 inch circle. Drizzle olive oil over the dough. When sauce is done, pour and smooth sauce over pizza dough, followed by spinach, mushrooms and cheese.

Transfer cookie sheet to oven and cook for approximately 11 minutes (we use a pizza stone, so we preheat the oven with the pizza stone in the oven, then carefully transfer the uncooked pizza to the heated stone. It takes two of us to transfer the pizza without letting it fall apart, so proceed with caution if you go this route).

Let pizza cool for 2-3 minutes. Slice and serve!

I bought more cauliflower this past week. It couldn’t be helped. I tried not too, but with my recent good experiences using cauliflower, its siren call was too compelling to resist. Alas, such is life.

Spreading The Sauce

I’d never made a pizza before; well, if you don’t count those english muffins you make as a kid (good times). I’ve also never had a pizza with cauliflower, so I really have no idea where the inspiration for this one came from. But come it did and here are the results. Not a bad first try if I do say so myself.

Before Baking

In hindsight, I’d recommend a thin crust for this pizza. I tried half with hazelnuts and half with pine nuts, but can’t recommend one over the other. I prefer the hazel nut, but it’s all about taste.

Garlic Goat Cheese Pizza with Asparagus and Garlic

Garlic Goat Cheese Pizza with Asparagus and Cauliflower

1 lb pizza dough (trader joes garlic herb)
1 roasted head of garlic
1 punch of asparagus; peeled and cut into thirds
1 head cauliflower; cut into florets; florets cut small (thirds, halves depending on size)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces mozzarella; cut into thing slices
4 ouces goat cheese crumbles
1 handful of your choice of nuts (hazel nut or pine nut)
2 handfuls of fresh basil; roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 450.

Steam the cauliflower for 4 minutes then set aside. Steam the asparagus for 2 minutes then set aside. In a food processor, process the garlic, all the asparagus but the heads, 1 handful of basil, salt and one table spoon of oil until in a smooth paste. Depending on the size of you’re food processor you may need to push the sides down a few times.

Roll out your dough onto a pizza stone and spread your garlic asparagus paste onto your dough, leaving an inch on the outside bare. Spread your mozzarella slices onto your pizza spread about and bake for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread about your asparagus heads and cauliflower. Sprinkle the goat cheese, your choice of nuts and the other handful of basil. Bake for an additional 10 minutes until the choose is melted and the crust is golden. Enjoy.