Chicken Crust Pizza

It’s been a crazy couple of months for this girl. I went right from working full time at my favorite place in the world, to a long term subbing assignment at an inner city school, moved out of my parents into what would be our first apartment, started a new long term assignment at a different school with my own classroom, finished planning a wedding, and got married. Needless to say, I haven’t had too much time to breathe. BUT I have an entire collection of recipes, classroom freebies and adventures, wedding pictures and vendors, that I’ve been stock piling for when I was finally able to join the blogging world again.

Being that I have a special affinity for food, it’s only fitting that my return post be one of my new favorites, and one that Ethan LOVES- chicken crust pizza. This recipe was cooked in a 10in cast iron skillet, to give you an idea of space: ingredient ratio.

What you’ll need:

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast (ground chicken is fine too)

1 egg

About ½ cup bread crumbs

Tomato sauce of choice (I use canned stuff from my parents garden)

Spices of choice (to add to your sauce- I do onion, garlic, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes)

PIZZA TOPPINGS! This is my favorite part! I get good mozzarella, pepperoni, and fry up some bacon

Preheat your oven to 375.

  1. In a food processor, ground the chicken with the egg. It will be a fairly mushy consistency. Mix in the bread crumbs by hand or with a spoon. The egg helps keep the chicken from shrinking and the bread crumbs help bind it all together.
  2. Smoosh the chicken into the bottom of a baking dish, or skillet. Make sure it is pretty even. I like to make the edges a bit thicker like a real pizza crust. Put in the oven for at least 20 minutes or until it’s no longer pink.
  3. The sauce can be done a number of ways. I usually start my sauce on the stove well before I’m ready to use it to give the flavors time to meld and develop. You could also just use a jar of Ragu, the choice is really up to you. I do however recommend heating the sauce before using it.
  4. After the chicken crust is done baking, assemble the toppings! This is a great chance to get the kids or your spouse involved. I fried bacon, then sautéed onions in the bacon fat. I added some of the onions to the sauce, and used the rest as a topping on the pizzas. Bacon makes everything better.
  5. Since the chicken is already cooked and the sauce is already warm, you’re really only putting it back in the oven to melt the cheese (clearly the best part). I put it back in the oven at 375 for about 10 minutes to get it started, and kick on the broiler to really finish bubbling the cheese.

EAT! 😀

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Wedding Planning on a Budget Part II

In my first part of this “series” I went over our basic wedding decisions. I discussed venue, some decorations, stationary and stamps. You can find all the good stuff HERE. I’m going to share a few more things that have come up and expenses that creep in.

DJ:

I love music. Ethan loves music. I sing. I dance. I wiggle. He hums. And kinda has rhythm. And plays a few instruments. I would have a dance party in the corner if I needed too. But a DJ does more than just play music at a wedding, at least, a good one does more than that. We started our search for a DJ, and it’s not easy. You start out with recommendations from others. “The DJ at my cousin’s nephew’s wedding was great! They rave about him. Let me get you their number!” You smile, grin, take the number and stuff it in the back of your wedding planner. You look online. And you find people that are $2,000+, they seem fun, but well…you can tell they just won’t really “work.” And then, your mom goes “hey, we know a guy DUH!” Not only do we know him, but after having done work for the school I attended, I know he’s good. I knew he was REALLY good when I got on his website and he had a questionnaire with really, really, good questions. Everything from who is in our wedding party, special dances and what songs we’d like, what kind of music we want played, what we absolutely do NOT want played, the list goes on. He is a DJ but also an MC. WINNING! And on top of that, he is AFFORDABLE! It’s in the name Affordable Music DJs.

Photography:

This may be one of the most important elements of your wedding. Seriously, you are going to be stuck looking at these pictures for all eternity. Nothing is worse than paying a boat load of money for bad pictures, poorly edited pictures, or a photographer who doesn’t get any of the shots you wanted them too. Photography is not cheap. Your friend might have a camera and say they are a “photographer,” but, call me a snob (maybe it’s because I’m a teacher), I put stock in an education, and I am THRILLED that our photographer not only has a degree in digital media/photography or that she is budget conscious/friendly, but that she is also a friend and did our engagement pictures. You can take a look at some of those HERE. I have no fear that she will do an amazing job because she already knocked it out of the park for those, and she knows what we want.

*Side note idea* Create a private Pinterest board just for you and your photographer if they’re into that kind of thing. I went through and found pictures and poses that I would like to do for our wedding. Giving them a visual and idea to go off of other than “um…you’ve done this before, I trust you,” will help give them a legitimate direction and make sure that you have an idea of what you are looking for as well.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.08.14 AM.pngFood:

I feel like this is one of the more stressful ordeals to go through when planning a wedding. I’ve been to a number of weddings, and there always seem to be fads over the years as well. I tend to have a bit of a selfish mind frame. This is our wedding. You are our guests, and we’re glad that you can come, but at the end of the day, it’s ours. Not yours. I’m not going to kill myself to have 18 different options because you may not be in the “mood” for chicken, allergic to everything under the sun, or have a billion food allergies (unless it’s serious like you start flopping on the floor if you get near a peanut).

We are having an early ceremony and lunch reception for a number of reasons. Everything from we have people traveling from out of town and I don’t want them to have to NEED to stay the night, to I want to not be dead and enjoy my wedding night. There are 3. food positives to this scenario.

1. It’s lunch so there’s not as much pressure to have a fancy sit-down dinner or something.

2. No alcohol. I have nothing against it, I’m not a staunch alcohol is the worst thing ever, but really. If you can’t have fun at a wedding without it, you shouldn’t be there; and if you REALLY want to drink at 1 in the afternoon before driving home there are bigger issues. It’s just something that due to the time of day, we are easily able to skip….and save hundreds of dollars in the process by doing.

3. Lunch food in general tends to be a bit lighter and more fun. So we are doing pizza. Yes. You read that right. Pizza. We are having a pizza lunch reception. We are offering 3 varieties- Pepperoni, Hawaiian, and Margarita (fancy cheese pizza).  When people RSVP they will be able to chose their flavor so that we have an idea of how many of each we’ll need. We are also having salad and some sides. My parents are not 100% on the pizza band wagon so they will have some small/extra “options” for their own sanity. But it will be less than $500 to have pizza for about 150 people.

Drinks will be water, soda, and a hot chocolate/coffee table. We will make the giant pot things of coffee, and put the hot chocolate in crock pots. Marshmallows, chocolate dipped spoons, mini candy canes, whipped cream, sauces, 3 basic cream flavors, mini chocolate chips, and coconut will be provided to add to the hot drinks. We found awesome disposable mugs from Sam’s Club for a very reasonable price.0009838260822_A.jpgAgain, something super fun that will cost under $200 to do for our guests.

The Restaurant Store is AMAZING! I’m sorry if you don’t have one near you, or you’ve never heard of it. Because it’s the bomb.com. The items we can’t get from SAMs club, we are getting from here, like nice, disposable plates that we can buy by the case for under $100. Buying in bulk is a great, quick, easy way to save money and have plenty of what you need!

 

Favors:

Originally my mother and I thought of this brilliant idea to do jars of jam. But we don’t buy jam, we make it ourselves. And then we started thinking about the fact that we’d have to get about 150 little jam jars. If you haven’t ever made jam yourself let me tell you….it takes a LOT of fruit to make it happen. I mean, a TON! Even with having a strawberry patch in our backyard, there’s no way in the world we’d grow enough. Oh yeah, and it takes a TON of sugar. The logistics and reality of that cute favor hit us pretty quickly. We decided to make it the bridal shower favor instead and start from scratch for the wedding.

We found heart and snowflake shaped cookie cutters from Oriental trade. I love to bake. Everyone knows it. I have a particular affinity for sugar cookies. The cutters come on a card, have a sugar cookie recipe on the inside, and a personalization spot on the front. They’re about $9 a dozen.

They’re cute, but they’re a bit plain. My plan is to use blue water color on the left and right edges to make them a bit more personal and pretty. They come out to cost just a bit more than $1 each.

Hand-Me-Downs:

Weddings are beautiful. Weddings hopefully, only happen once for you. You have one day to make this happen. ONE DAY. Which is why spending an astronomical amount just makes my skin crawl. The average wedding is about $20k. That’s a down payment on a house. That’s a car. That’s a really really really nice vacation to Europe for like a month. It makes my head spin. And at the end of the day, it is only ONE day. The most important part of that day is marrying your best friend and love of your life. Who cares if you use hand me down goodies from other friends or even strangers who used them before you?

My future sister-in-law got married last September. They bought good quality white table cloths and cloth napkins. We have to pick up a few extra but that is a large chunk of money we are saving by borrowing them. The center pieces will pop on the white. We’re using blue ribbon and jingle bells to tie the napkins, that will later be used for our jingle bell send-off.

I was in a wedding in Nebraska last weekend. Her mother spent good money and got a very nice quality isle runner. She sold it to me for $30. There are a few faint step marks that I’ll wipe off with a damp cloth. I’m getting paint markers and am going to write/calligraphy on a Bible verse Ethan and I picked out.

My mother and I have been collecting blue glass for years. We pick them up at Goodwill, yard sales, or even get them as gifts when friends and family see them at yard sales and Goodwill. We’ve spent anywhere for $5 to $0.50 on vases and glasses (with the exception of the blue wine bottles because we had to drink the wine first). Each center piece with the flowers, pine cones, jingle bells, and blue glass will easily cost less than $5 a table.

In Conclusion:

As an English teacher, that ending makes my skin crawl, but it works here. You’ll notice throughout the post that most of the products I’m using, I’m getting through people I know. This does not mean that I am getting discounts. I’m paying the same amount other people would pay for the same services and goods. But it does two things. I can rest assured knowing that the people I am relying on to make our day special will make it happen. I trust them. I would also much rather give my business and money to local people who I know and trust. I spent a lot of time shopping around and looking for decent quality, good prices, and coupons. I’m buying “plain” items and making them personal and our own. Personalization is key. Adding a monogram, adding a picture, adding an aspect that is obviously hand crafted/done, instantly makes things seem more expensive and nicer than something just bought off of a shelf and given.

Homemade Pizza

This may be a throw back for some of you. This pizza dough recipe comes from none other than the The Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith. This is an easy homemade Focaccia dough with lots of fresh toppings! This recipe also makes two pizzas

Sauce Ingredients: 24oz of tomato sauce (I used our canned stuff)

3 minced garlic cloves

2 tablespoons minced onion

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon parsley

1/3 teaspoon oregano

1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Leave on low heat to mellow and allow the flavors to release and develop while you are making the dough and such.

Dough Ingredients:

5 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

2 packets of dry yeast

2 cups tepid (warm) water

1 tablespoon of white granulated sugar

4 tablespoons of olive oil

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. In a bowl combine the yeast, warm water and sugar. Stir a little and allow the yeast to react. It will get kind of bubbly and rise to the top of the water when this happens.

2. Add in the olive oil, vegetable oil, and salt.

3. Slowly add in the flour until it begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl as it mixes. If you are using a Kitchen Aid, slowly add in all 5 1/2 cups of flour, using the dough/knead attachment, knead on medium/low for 10 minutes. If you are hand kneading, add in 4 1/2 cups and knead the remaining cup in as you go.

4. After kneading, separate into two balls, stretch/roll out over two greased baking sheets/pizza stones. Let rise for at least 30 minutes in a relatively warm environment. I turn my oven on “warm” at 170 while I am making the dough and turn it off the last few minutes. It’s just warm enough to help with rising without baking the crust!

Toppings: This is the easy part. You can do what you want. I went to our local deli and got 4 medium, fresh, mozzarella balls instead of pre-shredded cheese. We had frozen peppers from our garden this summer. We had a ham steak, onion and ground beef. I fried up the onions with some butter, browned the ground beef, diced the ham, and sliced-ish the cheese and went to town! While you are decorating your pizza, preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and crispy! Because our two baking sheets don’t fit on the same rack, we did 10 minutes, switched them around and finished them with another 10. Here is the before and after pics! YUM!

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Before baking- Mozz, ground beef, fried onion, diced honey ham! Mhmm

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Before baking- half cheese, half peppers with fried onions! 🙂

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