Quick and Easy Homemade Pizza

Growing up, I used to eat homemade pizza at my Grandma’s house and I have always wanted to make some of my own. I’ve never made the time to get around to it and after making it the other weekend, am not sure why I thought it was such a daunting task! My Dad’s family is rather large and we used to get together every Thursday for Spaghetti dinners. My Grandma would make her homemade bread and everyone would gather round her table (which was not big enough for the 16 kids and 20 something Grandkids). After those Thursday dinners she would sometimes have leftover dough to make these amazing pizzas. Those Thursday dinners and homemade pizzas are some of my earliest, and favorite, memories from my childhood. It was a true Italian family – and you could feel the roots of our Italian culture that had been implanted in the core of our family. I felt special to have such a large family who took time out every week to stop and appreciate one another and share some laughs over homemade pasta and bread. Isn’t that what happens in Italian families and what movies are made around?

It might have been my childish sense of perfection, but those Thursday nights just seemed so joyful. Perfect, actually.  I am sure there were the fights that there are now and the bitterness you can still sometimes sense when we all gather – but that comes with a large family and it helps you to continue to bond with each other. You fight hard and love even harder. I think Caroline from the Real Housewives of New Jersey said that in an episode once, and I could not agree more.

I miss those loud, crowded, hectic and fun nights eating with the people I love, so whenever I get the chance to create a meal with my family or friends, I cherish it. Living in Chicago, I am away from my large Italian family, but I’m lucky because I have a small little family here and we often get together to make dinners and enjoy each others company. A few Sunday’s ago we  decided to grab some dough from Trader Joe’s (which is only 99 cents) and make homemade pizza! It was SO easy and some of the best pizza I’ve had. I definitely think it is worth it to do this instead of ordering pizza or getting a pizza to go.

Pepperoni Pizza

1 package Trader Joe’s pizza dough

1 package shredded mozzarella Cheese

2 cups of my quick sauce (add oregano and basil to taste while cooking)

1 package pepperoni

Parmesan Cheese

Follow the directions on the back of the Trader’s Joe dough package. Once the dough is ready and rolled out, spread the sauce from end to end (put as much as you would like). Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese, add the pepperoni and put it in the oven! It is THAT simple!

Nikki rolling out the pizza dough!

Me attempting to spin the dough in the air…I failed miserably!

White Spinach Pizza

1 package Trader Joe’s pizza dough

1 package shredded mozzarella cheese

2 cups white sauce

  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 carton heavy whipping cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • Dash oregano

Spinach (however much you would like!)

Mushrooms (optional)

White Sauce:

In a medium sauce pan, heat butter and garlic until garlic is translucent. Add 4 1/2 tsp flour and mix with a whisk until well blended. Add in the heavy whipping cream and continue to whisk until sauce thickens. If it’s not thickening, add in the remaining flour and continue to whisk. Once the sauce starts to thicken, add in the parmesan (slowly), salt and pepper, to taste.

Pizza:

Follow the directions on the back of the Trader’s Joe dough package. Once the dough is ready and rolled out, spread the sauce from end to end (put as much as you would like). Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese, add the spinach and mushrooms and put it in the oven! Yes, it really is that simple!

The pizzas turned out amazing! I like to make my dough homemade, when I can, but with how simple and delicious these pizzas turned out, I don’t see the point in making your own pizza dough. AND each dough package was 99 cents! So cheap and so worth it! Next time I am craving pizza, instead of ordering out or picking up a Homemade Pizza Co. pizza, I’m going to consider just making my own!

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Page Family Meat Pie

While I was home for Easter I got to spend that Saturday with my mom and my cousin Concetta cooking, laughing and just having a fun girls day. When I woke up Saturday morning, it was to my favorite smell in the world, my mom’s spaghetti sauce! I told her that I hope heaven smells like her sauce and she laughed at me. She might have been laughing at the fat girl who is inside of me, or maybe she was just flattered. I will choose to go with the latter. Her sauce not only smells delicious, but it reminds me of home. It reminds me of my childhood, of my Grandparents house for Sunday dinners and our Thursday night pasta dinners we had growing up. It reminds me of family and is always equated with good memories and most of all, love. I may just love to eat pasta, but honestly, there is more to it. There is a history that I enjoy “coming home to” every now and then.

While the sauce was cooking, I decided to make something of my own. I had come across a recipe in a family cookbook for a meat pie that was my Grandpa’s family recipe and thought it would be the perfect addition to my family recipe collection. It turned out great (I did a little altering though!) and I got the seal of approval from my Grandpa and his sister, my Aunt Marie, who happens to be the “Meat Pie Queen.” It was actually her recipe I used, so thank you for sharing Aunt Marie!

Page Family Meat Pie

Ingredients (makes 2 pies)

3 lbs ground beef

1 large onion, chopping finely

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp ground sage (taste before using all the sage)

5 potatoes

2 pie shells

1/2 cup milk

1/2 stick of butter

Peel potatoes and finely chop onion. Add the potatoes to a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. In a large skillet, heat oil and add beef and onion. Season with sage, salt and pepper. Once the beef is cooked, set aside to cool. Then, once the potatoes are fully cooked, remove and put into a mixing bowl. Add the milk and butter and mash. Be sure to leave some chunks in the potatoes. Mix with the beef and add to the pie shell.

Once the mixture is in the pie shell, spread some melted butter to the top of the pie in order to make the pie shelly crispy and to get a golden brown color.

Preheat the oven to 350° and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Slice and enjoy!

I had dinner plans that night to go to my Uncle Hank’s Italian restaurant in Indy, Amici’s, so I wasn’t able to enjoy the pie for dinner, but luckily my Uncle Phil stopped by for a visit and had dinner with my parents.

It’s been a pretty busy spring and I have been really bad about posting, and just as bad about cooking. It’s sad, but it really is hard to find the time to get to the grocery store and make the time to actually cook something! I was at a wedding last weekend though, and had some of the BEST food I’ve ever had. I ate so much my dress barely fit by the end of the night!

It was such a fun weekend! We had a great girl’s getaway and spent the weekend gambling, eating, laughing and dancing the night away to celebrate Leah and Rob’s wedding!

Let’s Get Saucy!

So Sunday night my roommates and I were exhausted after a very long and fun weekend, so we wanted to something quick and delicious for dinner!  My sister Gina had been in town all weekend for her first dress fitting (I can’t believe the wedding is in 70 days!!!) and we went to the beach Saturday, so overall it was a non-stop kind of weekend.  Did I mention that in 70 days I have to give probably the most important speech in my life? And it will be in front of around oh…500 people?  Ya. 70 days are going to fly by…

Even though I was exhausted I still wanted to make dinner and I wanted it to be good, so I went to my most reliable recipe  that I keep in my back pocket – my quick sauce.  I have combined a few family recipes to create my own and I think it is oh so delectable.

Quick Tomato Sauce

1 can of Hunt’s tomato sauce

1/4 onion

1 clove garlic

1 bouillon cube

Skim milk

Pepper

Finely dice the onion (I chop and then add into the mixer to make extra thin) and then saute in olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic and some pepper and let simmer.  Add the can of sauce, bouillon cube, and skim milk (fill up tomato can about 1/4 of the way) and add more pepper.  Boil your water and then add the pasta.  Let the sauce come to a very slow boil and then simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes while your pasta is cooking.  Add more pepper if necessary.  Serve and enjoy!!

This time I got a little more creative than normal and decided to dice up some cherry tomatoes and add them into my sauce.  I added them to the onions and garlic while they were cooking and sautéed them as well. The sauce turned out really good, which is surprising considering how tired I was from the weekend!  I highly recommend trying out this recipe, even if you aren’t looking for something quick!  And I definitely recommend Hunt’s – it’s the only tomato sauce I’ll use!

So I am back home again in Indy this weekend for lots of wedding stuff!  We have a couples shower on Friday and Sunday my two aunts and I are hosting a shower!  The shower is going to be so pretty and I can’t wait to share pictures!  I spent a lot of time planning and picking out everything for the big day with m Aunts – so hopefully everything is just perfect!  Have a wonderful weekend!

No Joke…I am STUFFED!!

So the peppers were MORE than a success.  I am sitting on the couch right now so stuffed from all of the delicious food from tonight’s dinner.  I am so glad I was able share my passion with such wonderful company tonight.  It is so nice to be able to enjoy great food and great company at the same time!

The recipe I posted the other day for the peppers is not necessarily correct, so making dinner tonight was, as usual, an adventure.  My mom and I wrote down a recipe the last time she made the peppers, the first time I ever learned to make them, and we did some guesstimations (I think I made up this word, but you get the point).  They were not so accurate…I had to make more rice than I thought, I used all of the sauce (I thought there would be some left over to freeze) and I didn’t end up using all of the peppers.

We went to the grocery store today and the peppers there were a joke!  The red peppers were so small and the yellow peppers were not ripe.  We ended up buying organic red peppers (which were $3 a pepper!!!).  That is just insane.  They were huge as well, which is probably why I did not need to use all of them.  For some reason the rice kept burning (of course I can make homemade pasta sauce, but fail at making rice.  Typical), but once I used a smaller pot and made a larger serving of rice, it turned out perfectly.  My sauce was delicious.  I made Jess taste it and once she said she could just keep eating spoonfuls of it, I knew it was done.  The beef didn’t seem to have enough flavor with the salt and pepper, so I did what I always do when my food needs more flavor,  I added my Grandpa’s seasoning, David Page’s Special Seasoning, and it tasted delicious!  For proof, check out the photo’s below.  My friends went to town on the stuffing before dinner was even in the oven!

All in all, tonight’s dinner was a successful Kitchen Adventure!  It was the perfect end to a perfect weekend.  I am so excited for the warm weather here in Chicago and cannot wait for summer!  Next week I will be heading home for Easter, my FAVORITE holiday!  I am going to attempt baking some really pretty Easter desserts to share with my family…hopefully I won’t get as nervous as the last time I cooked for my family (they are all food snobs, but they are wonderful).

Here is a recap of Sunday Dinner below.  I could write more about dinner, but I will spare boring you with my words, and instead, make your mouth water!

Preparing the peppers!

Getting “Stuffed”

Stuffed Red Peppers


Our Lovely Family Dinner

Good and “Stuffed” – Proof Dinner was a Success!

~Jess made Chocolate Covered Strawberries~

I hope you enjoyed seeing another Kitchen Adventure and I hope the pictures inspire you to try them yourself!  I have felt so creative and challenged since starting this blog.  I hope to be able to inspire others as well!  Since it is spring and the sun is starting to shine again, everyone needs to indulge in their passions a little and jump into Spring!

I am coloring Easter Eggs this week, so hopefully there are more kitchen adventures to come before Easter.  The last time my roommate Alyssa colored Easter Eggs she stuck her entire hand into the dye to get out the egg.  Don’t judge her, she had never done this before..but I am very glad she reminded me of the incident today.

Night!