Tag Archives: mozzarella

Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Casserole

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We’ve been having some super-cold weather these past few days, along with lots of snow and ice, so it seemed like a great time to make a good hot casserole! I thought I’d try a Pizza Spaghetti Casserole recipe I found at MyRecipes, but instead of using pork sausage in this, I used extra pepperoni and cheese so it would taste more like a pepperoni cheese pizza, which is my favorite kind. You can use turkey pepperoni in this if you like. I used a little more sauce, too, and I thought it was pretty tasty–a very good comfort food dish when it’s cold and yucky outside!

PEPPERONI PIZZA PASTA CASSEROLE by NancyCreative, adapted from MyRecipes

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan

  • 1 (12-ounce) package uncooked pasta (you can use spaghetti or your favorite pasta noodles)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar pasta sauce, plus another 1/2 jar (12-ounces) of sauce (a total of 36 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 (8-ounce) package shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 (4 or 5-ounce) package pepperoni slices
  • 1 (8-ounce) package shredded Italian cheese blend

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13″ baking pan or dish.

Cook pasta with 1/2 teaspoon salt according to package directions. Drain pasta well and put in a large bowl. Add in the 24-ounce jar of pasta sauce (save the other half jar of sauce for later) and grated Parmesan cheese, and toss ingredients together until all the pasta is coated with sauce and Parmesan cheese. Spread pasta/sauce mixture evenly into your baking pan or dish.

Sprinkle the shredded Mozzarella cheese evenly over the pasta mixture, then spread half of the pepperoni slices over the cheese. Drizzle the half jar of sauce (12 ounces, or 1 1/2 cups) evenly over the pepperoni, then top with the shredded Italian cheese blend. Arrange remaining pepperoni slices evenly over cheese. Place a sheet of aluminum foil lightly over the pan.

Bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes; remove foil, then bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and just beginning to brown.

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Casseroles are great during the cold weather months! What’s your favorite casserole dish?

Sharing this recipe at Meal Plan Monday.

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Caprese Tart

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If you like Caprese Salad or Margherita Pizza, you’ll want to try this tart! It has sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil in it–yum! This summer, I’ve been wanting to make some sort of a tomato tart and I came up with the idea of making a Caprese Tart! If tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella are so good in a salad or on pizza, they’d probably be good in a tart, too, I reasoned. And you never know until you try. I have some basil growing in a pot and also had some garden-fresh tomatoes (from Mark and Marijo–thank you!) , so I bought a block of mozzarella cheese and was all set to try this out!

I thought it turned out really yummy and it’s very easy to make–I used a pre-made refrigerated pie crust, but you can use your favorite homemade pie crust recipe if you prefer. I also used a little Parmesan cheese in this, to give it a little extra cheesy zing. If you’re looking for ways to use the tomatoes from your garden, you just may want to try this Caprese Tart out!

CAPRESE TART by NancyCreative

  • 1 ready-to-use refrigerated pie crust (1/2 of a 15-ounce package), or make your favorite homemade piecrust
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella chesse
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and thinly sliced (NOTE: to easily seed a tomato, just slice off the stem end and gently squeeze the tomato over a bowl–the seeds will come right out!)
  • 1/4 cup well-packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Parchment paper
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly coat parchment paper with cooking spray.

Toss the shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses together in a small bowl so they’re blended well. Unroll pie crust on parchment-lined baking sheet and top crust with half of the cheese blend  (1 cup), leaving a 1 1/2-inch border at the edge. Arrange tomato slices in a circular pattern over the cheese (you may need to overlap some of the slices a little). Sprinkle half of the chopped fresh basil over the tomatoes, then drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.

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Spread the rest of the cheese (another cup) over the tomatoes and basil, then sprinkle the remaining basil on top of the cheese and drizzle another Tablespoon of olive oil over that.

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Fold pie crust edges up and over the filling, pleating and pinching dough slightly as you go. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned. It should come out looking like this…

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Remove from oven and let tart cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into wedges, then serve.

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I  love to make things with basil and tomatoes, especially in the summer! Do you have a favorite tomato and basil recipe?

Easy, Cheesy Garlic Bread

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I was looking at some recipes on a blog called Butter and Oven Mitts and found a cheese bread recipe that sounded really yummy! I made a few small changes–I used extra cheese (the more cheese the better, I say) and a loaf of French wheat bread instead of regular French bread, just because I like to eat wheat bread whenever I can. It turned out great! I love cheesy breads and they’re the perfect thing to serve with salads and soups. This would also be good served with Three-Bean Veggie Chili or Chili from The Pioneer Woman. Here’s my version of the bread if you want to try it…

EASY, CHEESY GARLIC BREAD by NancyCreative, adapted from Butter and Oven Mitts

  • 1 loaf of unsliced French Bread (I used a 13-oz. loaf of French wheat bread)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning, divided
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 to 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (not the grated kind)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoons garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice bread in half lengthwise and place the two halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Spread butter on cut surfaces. Sprinkle with half of the Italian seasoning. Top with Mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with the garlic powder and remaining Italian seasoning. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and starts to brown slightly. Cut crosswise into 1 to 2-inch pieces, and serve warm.

I never get tired of eating garlic bread! Do you have a favorite recipe for that?

Pizza Margherita from “Thursday Night Pizza”

I have a confession to make…I have never made homemade pizza! I’ve been wanting to make some, though, and very recently I had the opportunity to review a cookbook/guide to pizza-making called Thursday Night Pizza, written by Fr. Dominic Garramone, and published by Reedy Press. So this was the perfect time for me to attempt making pizza from scratch.
Father Dominic hosted a popular PBS show, Breaking Bread with Father Dominic, for several years and has tested his pizza recipes for the past twenty years on his fellow monks at the Saint Bede Abbey. After all that testing, I figured I couldn’t go wrong with any of his recipes! The book includes instructions for making 3 different pizza doughs, 8 sauces, 2 pestos, and several dozen recipes for pizzas (including some pizza appetizers and a few dessert pizzas).

The hardest thing was deciding which recipe to try first…there’s the the Four Cheese Tomato-Top Pizza, Italian Beef Pizza, Carbonara Pizza, Spicy Thai Peanut Chicken Pizza, Spinach Pesto Pizza, and Muffaletta Pizza, to name a few. I finally decided on the Pizza Margherita, because all the ingredients–fresh basil, tomato, mozzarella, and garlic–are favorites of mine. In the cookbook, it’s described as “A classic pie that is both rustic and elegant in its simplicity.” I like rustic and simple! 🙂

Now as far as the pizza crust goes, Father Dominic says homemade dough is always the best, so I used his recipe for Italian style dough (for a thick crust) on page 32 of his cookbook. It’s not that hard to make, and the crust was really good! However, when you make homemade dough, it does add a few hours to your pizza-making process; if you don’t have the time, you can use pre-made pizza crust, like the Boboli brand, or whatever type of crust you prefer. For the Pizza Margherita, a thick crust works best. Father Dominic also recommends using a pizza stone instead of a pan if you have one, and I did have a round pizza stone. But if you don’t, just use a pizza pan.

Here’s the recipe…

PIZZA MARGHERITA (from Thursday Night Pizza)

  • Recommended crust: 8-12 oz. of Italian style dough (from page 32) OR pre-made thick pizza crust
  • 4 large plum tomatoes, diced and drained
  • 1 garlic clove, mashed and minced
  • 3 or 4 large leaves of fresh basil, cut into strips (I found some fresh basil at my grocery store; even in winter, more stores are carrying fresh herbs now and you definitely want fresh basil for this)
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces (I bought an 8-oz. block of mozzarella and shredded it with a grater)
  • some cornmeal, for dusting your pizza stone or pan

Using your fingertips, hand-stretch the pizza dough to 12″ to 14″ and place on a pre-heated cornmeal-dusted baking stone or pizza pan. Toss diced tomatoes with garlic. Top the dough with the diced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Bake at 500 degrees until the crust is lightly browned and the mozzarella is fully melted (about 10-12 minutes). Remove from oven and top with strips of basil before serving.

If you like adding extra seasoning to your pizza, you might want to add a dash of salt or pepper to suit your taste.

This is a really nice and thick, cheesy pizza. And if I can make homemade pizza, I know you can, too! The recipes in Thursday Night Pizza are easy to follow, so don’t feel intimidated about trying any of them out!

Cheesy Hot Artichoke Dips

The first time I had a hot artichoke dip was up in Kansas City at a friend’s home. She had a dinner party and served it as her appetizer. I had never had anything like it and it was so good! Since then, I’ve seen several variations of  hot artichoke dips. I found this first recipe at Kraft FoodsI’m also including other versions that I’ve found in a few cookbooks. The recipes are all pretty similar, so you can take your pick…the Kraft recipe has both spinach and artichokes in it and most of the others just have artichokes mixed with the other ingredients.

This is a great appetizer for dinner and a tasty snack if you’re watching a football game with a group of friends. You can serve it with crackers and/or veggies and it also goes well with those large scoop corn chips. Here’s the Kraft recipe I made…it smells so good when you take it out of the oven, you’re going to want to eat it up right away!

CHEESY SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP adapted from Kraft Foods
Makes 2 3/4 cup or 22 (2 Tbsp.) servings
  • 1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained, finely chopped
  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup light or regular mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2–1 tsp. garlic powder (I used 1 tsp. because I like a stronger garlic flavor)
  • additional 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese for sprinkling on top (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a medium-size bowl. Spoon into a 9-inch quiche dish or pie plate. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through. If you want to sprinkle additional Mozzarella cheese on top, add that the last 3 to 5 minutes of baking). Serve with crackers, assorted cut-up fresh veggies, or large scooping corn chips.
VARIATIONS ON THIS DIP: You can substitute 1 envelope (0.7 oz.) GOOD SEASONS Italian Salad Dressing Mix for the garlic powder.
To make a SPINACH AND MUSHROOM DIP, substitute 1 cup chopped mushrooms for the artichokes.

If you want to try some other Artichoke Dip recipes, here they are…enjoy!

The next four recipes are from Chip & Dip Lovers Cook Book.
BAKED ARTICHOKE DIP
  • 1 (14-oz.) can artichokes, drained
  • 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In large bowl, mash artichokes with a fork. Add mayonnaise and cheese. Spread the mixture in a small baking pan and bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until top is slightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

HOT ARTICHOKE DIP
  • 2 (6-oz.) jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and diced
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. dried tarragon

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over very low heat for about 30 minutes. Transfer to a medium serving bowl and serve warm.

MICROWAVE (OR OVEN-BAKED) ARTICHOKE DIP
(This recipe is very similar to one on the Hellmann’s® site called Creamy Hot Artichoke Dip)
  • 1 (14-oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and diced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese (you can use freshly grated or the kind that comes in a canister, like the Kraft® brand)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
To Microwave: Place the ingredients in a microwave dish and stir to mix. Microwave on medium for 5 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
To Bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in 1-quart casserole. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until heated through.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

CHILE-‘CHOKE DIP
  • 1 (14-oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 (7-oz.) can diced green chiles
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Combine the ingredients in a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes. Serve warm. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

The next two recipes are from By Special Request: Old Recipes for a New Generation.

ARTICHOKE PARTY DIP (this one’s not a hot dip, but it sounded good)

  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 2 (.7-oz.) packages Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing Mix
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 (14-oz.) can artichoke hearts
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce

Squeeze liquid from artichoke hearts and chop into small pieces. Mix all ingredients and chill. Serve with chips or crackers.

HOT ARTICHOKE DIP II
  • 2 (14-oz.) cans artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash Tabasco sauce

Drain artichokes well. Chop and combine with all ingredients. Spoon into a greased 1-quart casserole dish. Bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve hot with melba rounds or crackers.