Homemade pizza might surprise you

I admit. I’ve always been skeptical of homemade pizza. I know the pounds of grease dripping off pies from restaurants and even grocery store frozen food sections are bad for you, but somehow they always added to the taste. Gross, I know.

On a whim this past weekend, my boyfriend and I decided we wanted to make our own—hold the grease, please. So I whipped out my pizza issue of Bon Appetit (thanks, Sarah!) and read about the basics of homemade pizza-making. We didn’t have the time (or desire) to bake our own dough, but we did learn a little thing about cheeses: Pick two soft—mozzarella, stracciatella, ricotta, Robiola, etc.—and one hard, like Parmesan. As for toppings, variety matters.

To save money, we chose only one soft (mozzarella) and settled on Parmesan for our hard cheese. We selected the best pre-packaged pizza crust we could find (about $6—not cheap!) and bought a quarter pound of pepperoni from the deli (it was less expensive and more practical that way). We picked out Classico traditional pizza sauce, a smart decision, and used what we had sitting in the fridge for additional toppings.

We laid down the crust, added the entire small jar of sauce (leaving a border for the crust), mixed a generous amount of shredded mozzarella and Parmesan together, and added chopped pepperoni slices at will. We then broke up pieces of mushroom, cut up bacon (about 4-5 half slices) and ham (1-2 pieces of ham off the bone from the deli), and finally sprinkled a little more Parmesan on top to pack it all in.

All ovens are different, but we set ours on 410 degrees for 16 minutes. The result? Let’s just say I have a new all-time favorite.

A hearty snack: spring vegetable and goat cheese dip

Yesterday I made a great appetizer: spring vegetable and goat cheese dip. I forgot to snap a picture (not that my dish came out quite as presentable as the one in Bon App├ętit Magazine), but you can find the recipe online.

Here’s a quick rundown of my experience making the dip:

Since I’m slow, I didn’t bother preheating the oven until I was most of the way through mixing the ingredients. Like the recipe advises, I started by preparing the 3/4″ asparagus pieces. Then I focused on everything else. I couldn’t find mild white cheddar cheese at the grocery store, so I substituted monterey jack. The only other ingredients I left out were the peas, mint, and parsley. I think peas are gross, and others seemed too minor to justify spending extra money on.

My changes didn’t make much difference—the dip was absolutely delicious, although it didn’t turn out as golden-brown as I would have liked and the remaining goat cheese (sprinkled on top before putting the dip in the oven) didn’t melt very well even after 20 minutes.

I made this dip for four people and served it with pieces of baguette. It went fast! :)

A toast to an awesome cooking blogger

Thanks to blogger Sarah for holding a contest and choosing me as a winner of a one-year subscription to Bon Appetit Magazine! There’s little I love more than getting goodies in the mail, except my fellow writers and readers.

Sarah runs an amazing cooking blog over at Sarah’s Place. Believe me, it’s awesome and very non-cook friendly—meaning she’ll turn you into one with her great recipes and pictures of delicious food. I’m hungry just thinking about it.

So stop by her blog and—oh my god, look at that French onion soup. I don’t even like French onion soup! Wowza.

Thanks, Sarah!