Easy Pizza Rolls

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These quick and easy pizza rolls are a delicious twist on a beloved classic. Keep the few ingredients on hand and you can have glorious, cheesy finger food ready in a flash!

My husband Justin has many, many good qualities. Of course he does, I married him! He is intelligent, funny, understanding, hard-working, crazy handsome and an all around sweetheart. There is no one else with whom I would rather spend my life. But… If I had to pick one minor, teeny tiny little flaw, it would be this: he forgets to fill me in when he’s inviting people over to our house. It throws me for a loop every time. I obviously want to be showered and presentable when we have guests. More importantly, I want to be gracious. I get it from my grandma, who was completely unable to allow people to enter under her roof without feeding them. Every time we would visit, she had sodas for the kids, beer for my dad, tea for my mom and cookies in the cabinet above the microwave. If you wanted something more substantial, all the better. An impromptu Italian feast would be placed in front of you before you could blink. I witnessed her casual hospitality so regularly that it is ingrained in me. It’s a reflex. If you come over, you’re going to eat.

So, I tend panic when I learn last minute that we will have guests. What can I offer them? These pizza rolls are an easy and delicious answer.  Made with a mere handful of pantry and refrigerator friendly staples, they require only 5 minutes of hands-on prep time and under 30 minutes in the oven. That leaves just enough time to do a quick tidying up and to put on a fresh coat of mascara before the guests arrive.

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Start by rolling out a refrigerated can of pizza dough onto a cutting board or countertop. Use your fingers to press the dough into a roughly 11×13 inch rectangle. This is not the time to break out the ruler. Spread some jarred pizza sauce over the dough, then layer on pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. Provolone would work, too! Roll it all up, jelly roll style, and cut into 12 equal pieces. Place in a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Slather them with a savory mixture of butter, garlic and Italian herbs, then toss ’em in the oven. Once they come out, sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese and serve! I like to have some extra pizza sauce on hand for dipping. And there you have it- a no-brainer, back pocket kind of recipe for easy, cheesy, delicious pizza rolls that will be ready in the time it takes you to shove all of the counter chaos into a drawer before company arrives.

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Easy Pizza Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 can refrigerated pizza dough, such as Pillsbury
  • 1/2 cup jarred pizza sauce, plus more for serving
  • 5 oz. sliced pepperoni
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella OR 12 slices of mozzarella cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Roll pizza dough out onto work surface. Use fingers to press dough into a roughly 11×13 rectangle.
  3. Spread pizza sauce in thin layer across dough.
  4. Place pepperoni on top of sauce in an even layer. Sprinkle or place cheese evenly on top of pepperoni.
  5. Starting with the long side of the rectangle, roll the dough jelly roll style into a cylinder. Pinch closed at the seam.
  6. Cut the cylinder into 12 equal pieces. I do this by cutting the cylinder in half, then each half in half, then 3 pieces from each quarter.
  7. Place cut pieces into pan.
  8. Melt the butter and stir in the garlic and Italian seasoning. Pour over the pizza rolls.
  9. Bake pizza rolls 25-30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and dough is puffed and lightly browned. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over pizza rolls while warm. Serve immediately.

Makes 12 pizza rolls

Quick Roasted Green Beans

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A healthy and tasty side dish that goes from the fridge to the table in under 30 minutes. 

Hi there! It’s been a while, I know. This is a super busy time of year at work, and by the time I get home, make dinner, work out (0n a good day), shower and clean up…I’m ready for bed. But! I’m still cooking and coming up with lots of fun ideas to share, so stay tuned.

This recipe for oven roasted green beans has been a life saver over the past few busy busy busy months. It’s not often that I will finish my veggies before anything else on my plate (I’m looking at you, carbs), but these green beans are just so.darn.tasty. They are roasted at a high, but not too high, temperature for 20-30 minutes. This is longer than you might think a skinny old green bean needs to cook through, but the extra time in the oven makes the magic happen. No sad, soggy green beans here. They emerge from the oven toasted, nutty, crispy and (my personal preference) just south of burnt. If fruit is at its’ ripest right before it goes bad, these green beans are at their most delicious just before they burn. But fear not. There’s plenty of water in fresh green beans, so they will not go up in smoke while you’re busy tending to the rest of dinner. You’ve got a little wiggle room here. Like I said, a life saver.

I’ve been making a conscious effort over the past few months to eat a more wholesome diet, and this recipe has played an integral part. On Sunday afternoons, I’ll roast a pan of these, a pan of diced sweet potatoes and a bunch of seasoned chicken breasts to have for lunch throughout the week. On a busy weeknight, I can prep them and toss them in the oven in the time it takes to grill some turkey sausage or some other protein. And I have no shame in eating them cold straight out of the fridge. Green beans as snack food = a win.

img_7859To prepare these quick roasted green beans, you’ll need a pound of fresh green beans. If they are thick and the ends tough, trim them. I’ve been buying “French beans” at Costco and find that the ends are perfectly fine as they are. I like to line a half sheet pan with foil for easy clean up. Place the green beans on the pan and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Throw in some garlic powder if you’re feeling crazy. Roast at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the beans. Toss once halfway through cooking and remove from the oven when they have become browned and crispy in spots. Of course, you can cook them as long as you like, but I really do urge you to cook until well browned. If you’d like, you can finish with lemon zest or juice, or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. One final note- if making extra for meal prep, I would use two half sheet pans, as overcrowding the beans will make it hard for them to brown.

 

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You’d better believe I ate that whole bowl as soon as I finished taking pictures. ūüôā

Quick Roasted Green Beans

A healthy and tasty side dish that goes from fridge to table in 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb green beans, cleaned and trimmed, if necessary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425. Place green beans on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle oil over green beans and add salt and pepper. Toss until green beans are evenly coated with oil. Spread green beans in single layer.

Roast green beans in oven 20-30 minutes, tossing halfway through. The green beans are done when they are browned and slightly charred. Don’t be tempted to take them out too early- the magic happens when they start to brown.

Serves 3-4

Truffled Pappardelle with Pancetta and Asparagus

truffled-pappardelle-with-pancetta-and-asparagusHave you carried over any routines from your childhood household to your adult life? I have retained so many that I’m 95% sure I have morphed into my mother. (Which is a pretty awesome thing, my mom is the best!) For example, like my mother before me, my Thursday nights are for cleaning the house while Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune play in the background. The first 15 minutes after arriving home from work are reserved for a fresh cup of coffee and a magazine. And Friday nights are “no cook” nights. While there were occasional Friday evenings where we had tuna noodle casserole, by and large our Friday nights were pizza nights. Nothing was so simultaneously thrilling (pizza!) or terrifying (I didn’t want to open the door and awkwardly pay the delivery guy) as seeing the Pizza Hut delivery car pull into the driveway.

For the past 5 years, my husband and I have carried on the Friday night pizza tradition. However, in the past few months pizza hasn’t really been hitting the spot. I want something…else. Sometimes we’ll pick up Chinese from the place around the corner. Other times, if I’m reeaaally nice, I can convince Justin to drive out to our favorite Thai restaurant to grab takeout. And no, I really don’t feel like eating out on Fridays. For one, I’m exhausted, and two, my cats have been home by themselves all week and need our attention, thankyouverymuch. Surprisingly, the most satisfying Friday night dinners in recent history have been the ones where I’ve gotten over my initial weariness, poured myself a glass of wine and gotten to work in the kitchen. Maybe it’s the little thrill of bucking tradition. More likely it’s been the phenomenal and phenomenally easy pasta dinners I’ve thrown together. Today’s Truffled Pappardelle with Pancetta and Asparagus is one such home run.

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This recipe was inspired by the meal I ordered at our anniversary dinner a few weeks ago at  Chow Bistro. It’s one of those recipes that is delicious and impressive and has the added bonus of being unexpectedly simple to make. Perfectly al dente pasta is tossed with crisp bits of pancetta, lightly charred asparagus and coated with savory, slightly funky (in the best way) truffle butter. Plus, it’s topped with a fried egg. Fried eggs = happiness in my book. If truffle butter is a deal breaker for you, or if you simply can’t find it, you can easily substitute browned butter. The result is a rich and special occasion-worthy pasta dish that is done within 30 minutes. Go ahead and invite some friends over for a weeknight or Friday night dinner- they’ll think you’re a rockstar with this meal.

Pappardelle is a medium wide egg pasta usually sold in adorable little “nests.” The cute factor obviously makes it that much more tasty. While the water is coming up to a boil and the pasta cooks, diced pancetta is browned in a large skillet. Once the pancetta is crisp, remove it from the skillet and rest in a bowl lined with paper towels. Toss the asparagus into the skillet and quickly cook it in the fat rendered from the pancetta. If you have time before the pasta is done, you can take the asparagus out of the skillet, fry the eggs and set them aside. Otherwise you can quickly fry them up after the pasta is plated. Once the pasta is done, toss it into the skillet with a generous amount of truffle butter, the asparagus and pancetta and toss until everything is coated in decadent, buttery goodness. Shave parmesan over the pasta, top each serving with a fried egg and eat! Give this a try one Friday night, or any night. The only loser here is the local pizza shop- they’ll miss you!

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Truffled Pappardelle with Pancetta and Asparagus

If you cannot find or do not like truffle butter, you can substitute an equal amount of browned butter. Truffle butter can be found near finishing butters in grocery store.

Ingredients:

  • 9-10 oz dried pappardelle pasta (1 package)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz diced pancetta
  • 1 bunch asparagus, about 1 lb, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 Tbsp truffle butter (or browned butter, if desired)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs

Instructions:

Fill large stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add salt to water. Add pappardelle and cook until al dente, per package instructions (around 7 minutes.) When pasta is done, reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain.

In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add pancetta to skillet and cook until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Remove pancetta from skillet to bowl lined with paper towels. Add asparagus to skillet and cook until lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Season asparagus with salt and pepper. Remove asparagus from skillet and add eggs. Season with salt and pepper and fry until the whites are set and yolk remains runny. Set eggs aside.

Reduce heat under skillet to medium. Add truffle butter, pasta, pancetta and asparagus. Cook until truffle butter is melted and all ingredients are coated. Taste and season again with salt and pepper. If the pasta looks dry, add reserved pasta water in small increments until you reach desired consistency. Note that this will not be a heavily sauced pasta.

Portion pasta onto plates and top each serving with parmesan and fried egg.

Serves 3-4

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Pumpkin Spice Crispy Treats

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Hey there! I hope you had a great weekend. Mine was wonderful, just too short. I could always use one more day. If someone ran a presidential campaign on the platform of a nationwide 3 day weekend they would have my vote. Sadly I think all hope is lost on that front for this election. At least¬†homemade treats make a pretty good consolation prize. I did have time ¬†this weekend to make this fun, seasonal update on the classic Rice Krispie Treat. Which is a good thing and a bad thing. Good because they are delicious. Bad because…they are delicious and I keep eating them.¬†Pumpkin Spice Cheerios and white chocolate chips turn this childhood classic into¬†a delightful autumn treat.¬†These Pumpkin Spice Crispy Treats would be a great fall baking project to make with young kiddos for Halloween. No complicated measuring or prolonged baking time. Just melt, stir, pour and slice. Easy peasy.

I’m sure you don’t need too much in the way of directions for these treats, since they follow the tried and true Rice Krispie Treat method. However, I will offer a couple of tips. First, learn from my mistakes and mix the cereal with the melted marshmallows in the pan you use to melt the marshmallows. I did the opposite- I poured the melted marshmallows into a bowl with the cereal/chocolate chip mixture and it almost cooled before I had thoroughly mixed everything. If you mix in the pan, the residual heat will keep the marshmallow warm enough to evenly coat the cereal. Next, these are most easily sliced if ¬†you spray your knife with some nonstick cooking spray. That way you’re sure to get clean edges. Finally, if you can’t find Pumpkin Spice Cheerios (I bought the last box at my store. Sorry, neighbors!), you could also use Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. Or use plain Cheerios or Rice Krispies and add 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice to the butter/marshmallow mixture.

I decorated individual squares with mellowcreme pumpkins, since I’m a sucker for those little things. If you put them on while the treats are still warm they’ll stick. Sliced up and put in individual cellophane treat bags, these would be great for a fall bake sale or class party. One last thing- this recipe uses a bag and half of marshmallows, which means you’ll have half a bag leftover. If you’re wondering what to do with the extra, take a peek at my recipe for¬†S’mores Tarts. Enjoy!

pumpkin-spice-crispy-treatsPumpkin Spice Crispy Treats

Ingredients:

  • 9 cups (1 box) Pumpkin Spice Cheerios*
  • 2 cups (1 bag) white chocolate chips
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 15 oz (1 1/2 bags) marshmallows
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

In large bowl, toss cheerios and white chocolate chips.

Prepare 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In large stockpot, melt butter over medium low heat. Once butter is melted, add marshmallows and stir continuously until marshmallows are completely melted. Add vanilla extract and stir to incorporate. Take stockpot off heat. Add cheerios and white chocolate chips and stir until cereal mixture is well coated in marshmallow. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and  press into even layer. (Spray cooking spray on your hands or spatula to make this task less messy.)

Allow treats to cool, then cut into squares. To cut cleanly, spray nonstick cooing spray on knife.

Makes about 24 treats, more or less depending on how sliced.

*If you cannot find Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, you can use Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. Alternatively, use either regular Cheerios or Rice Krispies and add 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice to marshmallow mixture before adding cereal.

Pumpkin Spice Crispy Treats

 

Creamy Kielbasa, Kale and Potato Soup

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Is there anything more comforting than a hot and hearty bowl of soup on a chilly day? I don’t think so. Right about now I could use a cool, blustery day where all I do is hang out in comfy clothes while eating a warm bowl of soup on the couch. This right here would be my soup of choice. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll have that kind of down time anytime soon. But at least I can have the soup. And what a soup. Turkey kielbasa, kale and potatoes are cooked in a flavorful broth and finished off with a little heavy cream of richness and texture. There are a million variations of this soup across the internet. This is mine and I think it’s pretty fabulous. A lot of versions use Italian sausage, but I like the flavor and meatiness of turkey kielbasa. The result is a super tasty and satisfying soup that’s on the table in no time. It’s pretty healthy, too, even with the addition of heavy cream.

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This soup is a great option to whip up on the weekend for a quick and easy lunch. It holds up well in the refrigerator, so make a double batch for the week ahead. There are a couple of simple steps to maximize deliciousness here. First, brown the turkey kielbasa in olive oil before preparing the rest of the soup. Then remove the kielbasa and add in at the very end, rather than simmering with the soup the whole time. The turkey kielbasa can get tough if overcooked, so this ensures that it remains tender and juicy. You’ll also want to add the heavy cream at the very end. If you’re making extra to serve later in the week, just remember to stir the soup before scooping out portions as the broth and cream will separate a bit in the fridge. This soup will be in regular rotation in the cold months ahead.

Have a great and cozy weekend, friends!

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Creamy Kielbasa, Kale and Potato Soup

A healthy and hearty soup of juicy turkey kielbasa, potatoes and kale in a flavorful broth enriched with a little heavy cream. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 13 oz-1 lb turkey kielbasa
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 lb yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Heat olive oil in stockpot over medium high heat. Brown turkey kielbasa 3-4 minutes, then remove to a bowl and set aside. Add onion and carrot to pot and cook until onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook an additional 30 seconds, until garlic becomes fragrant.

Add chicken broth, potatoes, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf to pot. Season with salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add turkey kielbasa and kale to pot and cook 3-4 minutes, until kale is wilted and kielbasa is warmed through. Stir in heavy cream and serve.

Serves 4.

 

Grandma Pisani’s Pasta Fagioli

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My grandma’s recipe for pasta fagioli departs from the typical soup version of the dish. Instead this is a hearty pasta dish, quick and economical enough to make on a weeknight when the pantry is bare. Grandma’s pasta fagioli is the definition of comfort food: warm, delicious and packed with love and happy memories. 

My love for cooking started in my Grandma Pisani’s kitchen. She has a tiny stool that says “Happiness is Retirement”, or something to that effect. When I was a little girl, Grandma would pull the stool up to the counter and patiently walk me through the steps of her recipes. She started with the  quick and simple ones, keeping in mind my small hands and attention span. Scrambled eggs, or “eggies”, as we called them, were an early favorite. As the years progressed, we moved on to grilled cheese and pan fried sausages, to cookies and Christmas kolachi. Grandma let me taste each ingredient, so I knew the difference between butter and oleo (margarine), between provolone and cheddar. The dishes we made were never complicated or fancy but were always delicious and full of her boundless love. They are the recipes I turn to when I’m feeling blue, homesick or under the weather. On a dreary Sunday afternoon, nothing makes me happier than making a big batch of meatballs and sauce, Grandma-style. The savory aroma and divine taste evaporate all of the years and miles and place me right back in Grandma’s kitchen, where nothing very wrong could ever happen and all problems could be cured with a cookie, a cup of tea and a hug.

Fortunately, not all of Grandma’s greatest hits are weekend-only affairs. This pasta fagioli is a perfect example. Lightning quick and made entirely of pantry staples, this is a busy weeknight’s saving grace. The entire dish is done in the time it takes the water to boil and pasta to cook. Chopping a little garlic is the extent of the culinary skill needed to pull this one off. Saute the garlic in some olive oil flavored with a pinch of red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning. Add some tomato sauce and red beans (red because my Dad and uncles used to pick the beans out- lunatics!- so Grandma used red beans to make this task easy for them) and simmer while the pasta finishes. Reserve some pasta water, drain pasta and toss in the sauce. Add pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce so it coats the pasta. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle on some shredded Parmesan and dinner is on the table. This is humble, good food, perfect to warm bellies and souls as the cold months approach.

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Grandma with all of her grandchildren ‚̧

As is typical for a family recipe, there are a million stories and memories associated with this pasta fagioli. When my parents started dating, my dad brought my mom to dinner at Grandma’s house unannounced one evening. It was the first time my mom was meeting my dad’s family and Grandma was less than thrilled with her lack of notice. She had made this pasta fagioli and homemade pizza(!) and was embarrassed at the modest dinner she had prepared. Of course, my mom was floored by the delicious home cooked meal she was served and has raved about the pasta fagioli ever since. Which just goes to show, simple can be best and Grandma knows what she’s doing. Love you, Grandma!!!

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Grandma Pisani’s Pasta Fagioli

This pasta fagioli is a hearty and economical pasta dish. The sauce just lightly coats the pasta. If you prefer a more saucy pasta, you may increase the amount of tomato sauce in the recipe by 1.5 to 2x the amount called for. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups ditalini pasta
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Season water generously with salt. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet or saucepan. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning and cook another 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomato sauce and kidney beans. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Simmer sauce gently until pasta is done.

Once pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of pasta water and then drain pasta. Add pasta to sauce and toss to coat. Add reserved pasta water as necessary to ensure sauce evenly coats pasta. Taste and season again with salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Serves 4-6.