the ‘zas of may

Since it’s the last day of the month and I haven’t posting much lately, this will be the post that covers all of the homemade pizzas Mare and I made and enjoyed in May.

May 8th
Pepperoni & Canadian Bacon
A huge bubble formed in the middle and sent the toppings
sliding to the edges like lava flowing down a volcano.

May 15th
Canadian Bacon & Red Onion
This one turned out excellent.

May 24th
Canadian Bacon & Red Onion
A repeat of the previous week.

May 29th
Thick-sliced Pepperoni & Diced Portobello Mushroom
Very hearty and greasy delicious.

Unmentioned ingredients in descriptions and comments above:

  • Pizza dough
  • Homemade marinara
  • Shredded mozzarella and Italian cheese blends
  • Parmesan cheese to soak up any excess moisture and for sog prevention
  • Olive oil (extra virgin, both garlic-infused and plain) to grease the baking sheet

Baking directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place pizza on middle rack to bake for ten minutes.
  3. About five to six minutes into baking, rotate the pie 180° to help bake evenly. During the rotation, you can monitor any bubbles that may be forming. Simply poke them with a fork.
  4. After ten minutes, remove the pizza from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. A cooling rack will help the steam leave and make the crust firmer.
  5. Slice and enjoy!

the last of the 3hirty or the record high

[ [ [ Countdown to 3hirty Posts in April: ONE! ] ] ]

The challenge has been conquered. With a less than two hours left in the day, I am writing the thirtieth post for April.

I’m gonna try to keep this short, and I’m sure I will since I didn’t post too long ago. This month went by fast as expected.

I’m gonna wrap April up with a small list of this month’s highlights from my perspective:

  • K$ made the Pluckers Wall of Flame.
  • I purchased and received enough comics to probably last me ’til 2009. (But I ain’t stoppin’!)
  • I turned 26.
  • My sister gave me a Buddy Christ bobblehead.
  • My brother put together an excellent BBQ birthday party extravaganza equipped with burgers, bratwurst, and keg.
  • Two words: ROCK BAND.
  • The third and fourth volumes of Thrice’s The Alchemy Index was released.
  • Sleepercar’s debut album, West Texas, was released.
  • Alkaline Trio released their Agony and Irony EP with a catchy single, Help Me.
  • I told Pluckers about how awful one of their waiters was by filling out one of their comment cards, and they apologized by sending me a $25 gift card.
  • Uncle Sam gave me some of my hard-earned dollars back plus approved me for one of his bonus checks.
  • Two ‘Zas of the Week.
  • I was excused from jury duty and had a fantastic half-day off.
  • I saw these great bands in no particular order: Thrice, Dynamite Boy, Cruiserweight.
  • I experienced why I do not like performance art.
  • Two words: ROCK BAND. (listed twice intentionally ’cause it r0xx that hard!)
  • Rivers Cuomo stole the main riff from Portside Scout’s R2D2 song to use in his single, Pork and Beans.
  • Working where I work wasn’t so bad for the 21st month in a row.
  • I purchased a new machine, c0rey foldman, whose creation is strictly intended to contributing to the [email protected] project.
  • I spent way too much time in the MoSo WP CMS by challenging myself to write thirty posts this month and successfully pulled it off like the über g33k that I am.

This is the most posts in one month on Modern Soapbox which matched last June. Maybe I’ll go for 31 in July. I’ll be taking it easy from this next month to concentrate on my other projects that matter more, but I won’t abandon y’all. I promise. Peace out.

[ [ [ ZERO! ] ] ]

the ‘za of the week (apr 13 – apr 19) + pizza recipe

This week’s ‘za was a Hawaiian-style pie topped with Canadian bacon and pineapple. This simple couple creates a unique flavor that Mare & I both enjoy.

Nothing complex went into this pizza, but I’ll go into a step-by-step process on making this pizza to beef up this post and because I have to constantly remind myself how to make ’em!

Modern Soapbox ‘Za of the Week Recipe

1. Brush a thin layer of garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil on a rectangular baking sheet.

2. Stretch the dough evenly to fit the baking sheet. Stretch it a little larger the baking sheet and push the edges up the inner sides of the sheet. The pie will shrink a little when it’s baked, so this will make it fit snug.

3. Spread about seven tablespoons of pizza sauce evenly on the crust.

4. Sprinkle a generous amount of parmesan on the pizza sauce to help soak up any extra moisture created by the sauce, cheese, and toppings.

5. Spread about a cup and a half of low-moisture part-skim mozzarella evenly over the pizza sauce.

6. Evenly spread your toppings. For this pie, the Canadian bacon and pineapple were the toppings. When using canned toppings such as the pineapple, make sure to drain them very well. This will keep the crust from getting soggy.

7. Sprinkle about half to three-fourths of a cup more of mozzarella over the pizza to seal those toppings in.

8. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

9. Once the oven is preheated, place the pizza in the middle rack and bake for ten minutes. Rotate the pie 180° about halfway through the baking time to bake the crust evenly.

10. After ten minutes, remove the pizza and allow it to sit for about a minute. Then, transport it off the baking sheet onto a cooling rack to let the pie to crisp as it cools.

11. Move the pie onto a cutting board, slice it, and enjoy!

This pie had some extra dark spots, but I think it was caused by thin cheese spots. Remember to spread that cheese evenly and sprinkle it on thick to prevent those extra dark spots!

We also warmed up some focaccia like we did last time. All we did was brush some garlic-infused olive oil on both sides of the bread, sprinkled some parmesan and a blend of Italian seasonings, and baked it right after the ‘Za of the Week for four minutes.

The after photo doesn’t look much different, but you’ll notice the bread became more golden and the parmesan baked up as well.

We served this and the ‘za with a romaine and feta salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. This was a deluxe meal that Mare & I always enjoy.

the ‘za of the week (apr 6 – apr 12)

We missed ‘Za of the Week last week, because we had other dining plans. This week, we kept it simple again. This pie was topped with sliced pepperoni and fresh mushrooms.

To save some space in these posts, I’m going to be fusing the before and after photos into one image. This will also allow you to see a side-by-side comparison of fresh ingredients ready to go into the hot oven and the result after it’s been baked to perfection.

We also warmed up a store-bought loaf of plain focaccia. To add some flavor to it, we brushed our garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil on it and sprinkled an Italian blend of seasoning and some grated parmesan.

The focaccia had a fluffy texture and tasted so good hot out of the oven. I placed the loaf in the oven heated at 450°F right after the pizza finished for about 4½ minutes.

We also had a tasty bag of Parisian salad that we picked up over the weekend. The bag had a mix of green leaf lettuce, frisée, radicchio, and julienne carrots. It also came with salad toppings that added an extra level of flavor. These toppings were: feta cheese, dried cherries, and frosted almonds. We dressed the salad in a raspberry vinaigrette which complimented our baked goods very well.

Lately, we’ve been on a bit of a health kick eating mostly soup and salads. I think ‘Za of the Week will be shifting to a bi-weekly schedule rather than weekly.

the ‘za of the week (mar 23 – mar 29)

I think we’ve made tonight’s ‘Za of the Week before. This one had pepperoni, pineapple, and red onion on top of sun-dried tomato pesto with mozzarella cheese. The combination makes a pie packed with bold flavor.

za

I’m trying to utilize more of the photo space when taking the before and after pics.

za

This after photo was shot in a different lighting than the before photo. The first pic was taken in the kitchen where the ‘Za of the Week photos are usually taken, but the lighting was acting up when it was time to take the after photo which ended up being taken in the dining area.

the ‘za of the week (mar 16 – mar 22)

This ‘Za of the Week came around quick. Time flies. This pie was very similar to last week’s, but we used sliced black olives instead of pineapple.

za

We also used bulk mozzarella that was shredded a little thicker than the usual mozzarella we used. The cheese melted more evenly with less spots and smoother than the finely shredded mozzarella.

za

I have an attachment to pepperoni pizzas. They seem to have the flavor I really look for in a tasty pizza. This must be why pepperoni is America’s favorite pizza topping.

za

Oh… what’s that?! Yes, to the right of the photo is a bubble. This happens from time to time, but this one wasn’t too crazy. It didn’t affect the pie much at all. I remember my days in the pizza shop when we’d get some of the biggest bubbles that would ruin a pie if it wasn’t taken care of during the baking process.

za

Yummy. Check out how those toppings relax in a sea of cheese. Since we used a bulk package of mozzarella, I think I used more cheese than usual. I did measure two cups of cheese, but yes, the cup was packed well so it could have been more than what we get in the two-cup packages we purchase. The savings are well worth it, since this has become a weekly ritual that we enjoy sharing with you here at the modern soapbox. =)

the ‘za of the week (mar 9 – mar 15)

The ‘Za of the Week post has been delayed but not forgotten lately. Mare and I made this pie last Thursday. I worked late the previous Monday and Tuesday and was able to leave an hour early. On top of the unusual, I had worked from 9 to 4 that day so I returned to the apartment much earlier than usual.

This ‘za was pretty traditional. The toppings included: sliced pepperoni, half of a sliced red onion, and pineapple tidbits.

za

The pepperoni slices were lined up right next to each other, so this pizza was topped with more pepperoni than we usual put and made it that much tastier.

za

The pineapple was drained with a strainer really well. The onion was sliced to make quarter-inch wide pieces.

My attack at slicing an onion goes a little like this:

  • Cut the onion in half through the ends that have that dried roots on one end and where the plant shoots out on the other end. You can lay the onion flat on the cutting board from here, and slicing will be much easier.
  • Slice the ends off and discard them.
  • Remove the first layer of the onion that should include the dry skin.
  • Slice the onion into quarter-inch thick pieces. Guide the knife with the middle joints of your fingers on the non-cutting hand. You won’t cut yourself if you keep the blade near the onion and the side of the knife as close to your bent fingers as possible.
  • Don’t throw away the middle part of the onion. Think of it as the heart, the most flavorful part of the onion. When the heart cooks up, it will provide the sweetness than red onions are known for.

za

The sauce was the usual marinara we use, and we used part-skim low-moisture mozzarella. The baking sheet was greased with garlic-infused olive oil. The pie was baked at 450°F for ten minutes. It was cooled in the baking sheet for a minute then put on the cooling rack for a few more minutes. While it’s on the cooling rack, I snapped the after photos that you see here.

za

Our homemade pizzas turn out better than calling up the corporates and having them bring it to your door, heating up something frozen, or even “take and bake.” Everything from the crust to the fresh ingredients to the love put into assembling these creations makes every bite worth savoring.