My mom used to call pizza the “King of Junkfood.” What she meant was pizza feels like junk food but is actually healthy – with bread and vegetables and cheese. I truly think your average pizza is decidedly not healthy, but that’s not a problem. Everyone needs some cheese and carbs every once in awhile.
This pizza might deserve the “King of Junkfood” title more than any other pizza around, though. I found some whole wheat pizza dough in my freezer (aka the blackhole) and recognized that I had a pound of brussels sprouts ready to be used.
Most pizza recipes with brussels sprouts contain bacon also because obviously the two are a winning combination. I ran across a vegetarian rendition of the pizza, though, and keeping with the healthy theme of the whole wheat dough decided to try it out.
Are you scared of lemon on pizza?
Don’t be. What a delicious surprise! The cooking mellows them but they retain their juicy bite and go perfectly with the cheese and veggies. Be sure to slice them thinly so they just sort of dissolve into your pizza.
Who loved this pizza the most? The Omnivore. That doesn’t mean, however, we won’t be fighting over the lone leftover piece. By the way, the recipe is a Martha Stewart recipe so of course the Omnivore couldn’t resist cracking jokes about learning amazing recipes in jail throughout our dinner.
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 pound pizza dough
- 3 ounces lightly salted fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 ounces finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 2/3 cup)
- 3 cups shredded brussels sprouts (from about 1/2 pound)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 5 paper-thin lemon slices, cut into half-moons (from 1/2 lemon)
- Preheat oven and pizza stone to 550 degrees.
- Work dough into a round pie (if it retracts, let rest 5 minutes before continuing). Place dough round on a pizza peel or the back of a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal.
- Brush a 1-inch border around edge with 1 teaspoon oil.
- Scatter mozzarella and half the Pecorino evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge.
- Toss brussels sprouts with remaining Pecorino, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Scatter sprout mixture over cheeses, and top with lemon.
- Turn over to broil (high if you have the option) and slide pizza onto prepared pizza stone. Cook 5-7 minutes until crust is browned, cheese is melted, and toppings are cooked.
- Transfer pizza to a cooling rack so that crust does not get soggy.
I don’t talk a ton about my job on this blog for a few reasons. First, it isn’t related to food at all. Second, teachers’ comments about their profession are scrutinized more than any others. I guess that is understandable but that fact keeps me guarded.
I am finishing up my second year as a high school biology teacher. This week my students are taking their end-of-course test in the subject. This is the exam administered by the state (the type of exam people scream about when they say we “teach to the test”). In just a few short weeks kids will leave my classroom and kids may leave my life. Naturally, it is a time for reflection.
This job. This job. THIS JOB.
If you had asked me as a 5 year old what I wanted to be when I grew up it was decidedly an anesthesiologist. If you had asked me when I was 20 what I wanted to be, it was veterinarian. You can read about what became of that here.
Now I’m a high school biology teacher. I walked into the classroom last year with no experience teaching, no know-how, and dead-wrong expectations. My lilly-white private school education didn’t prepare me for what it would be like to educate the children of rural South Carolina.
I stole a line from my husband. When people ask me what I teach, I say, “I teach children and if we have time I teach them biology.” This job makes me laugh so hard. Kids say the darndest things. This job makes me cry. Hard. Kids can be mean.
Have you seen the video of Jeff Bliss teaching his teacher a lesson? If that doesn’t cause a teacher to stop and think, I don’t know what does. Are we touching their hearts? Do I get them excited about biology? Am I doing our country justice as I attempt to educate America’s future?
Are they going to remember the standards of biology I’m required to teach when they take this state test this week? In 5 years when in college? In 10 years when deep in life’s path? Will those standards of biology matter? Probably not. How much do I care? Not much.
The lessons I aim to teach have little do with cellular respiration or prokaryotic cells. They have to do with solid thinking and research, problem solving, and morality.
Are they going to remember the example I set? Do I set the right example? How I showed them kindness and didn’t give up? How I gave them my best on a daily basis?
They won’t. I didn’t appreciate my teachers until far too removed from school. Maybe I didn’t truly appreciate them until I was a teacher. It is okay, though, if they don’t know what I do for them. Maybe that’s the selfish part of me; maybe I try to do a good job just to please myself.
I made my kids these blondies as a snack to eat before their big test. I gave them a pep-talk, fist bumped a few boys, and disappeared. The blondies are delicious. Browned butter and brown sugar – sweet and rich and moist. I studded them with razzcherries, which are cherries soaked in raspberry juice. The dried fruits were gifted to me by Sincerely Nuts. Be sure to check out the site – it is full of interesting and top quality dried fruits, nuts, and more.
Browned Butter Blondies (adapted from Simply Recipes)
- 1 cup of butter, melted
- 2 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cups dried fruit mix ins or chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour 9×13 pan.
- Brown butter by melting it over medium heat in a medium saucepan. The milk solids will separate from the liquid, which will turn a delicious golden color. This will take about 6-7 minutes.
- Cool butter slightly and mix with the brown sugar in a medium bowl.
- Add the egg sand vanilla extract. Mix.
- Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, mix it all together. Add the dried fruit or other mix-ins.
- Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve. (I baked for 20 minutes and loved the outcome)
My mom’s husband (I hesitate to call him my step-dad because they were married after I was out of the house and married myself, after all) has a thing for apple pie. He talks about his late wife’s excellent apple pie and it is clear that those memories hold a special place in his heart. When you combine love, nostalgia, and sweets there’s almost no beating the memory you have of something you can’t ever taste again. There’s no point in even attempting to make the pie of his past.
So when you’re up against those kind of standards it is best just to turn the other way and make something completely new and different. Enter: apple cheddar pie.
I remember the first time I encountered this combination of cheddar and apples. During college I worked at the circulation desk in the library and I often shared shifts with this Greek boy, Morgan. He was an eccentric sort – decidedly intelligent but belligerently lazy. I would peer across our shared desk, jealous of his ability to live-and-let-live and be happy with a C in college classes. He adored the combination of cheddar and apples and remember him, once, talking incessantly about how delicious it was. I was skeptical but intrigued.
I didn’t try the combination but I started comparing it to my love of pineapple on pizza, the presence of grapes on cheese platters, and raisins in chicken salad. The combination makes sense. But should it pass as dessert?
It should pass as an any-time-of-day treat. This crust was amazing. AMAZING. So cheddary. So flaky. Easy to work with. The Omnivore, who was very skeptical of this treat, adored the recipe as well. The filling was perfectly consistent – not runny and gooey. It was a tad lemony from the addition of both lemon zest and lemon juice so next time I’d omit the zest.
Cheddar Crusted Apple Pie (adapted from Food Network)
- For the Crust
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 1/4 cups packed grated sharp Cheddar (about 6 ounces)
- 4 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed
- For the filling
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2.25 pounds granny smith apples (about 5 large apples), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- juice of 1 lemon
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 1 beaten egg, for brushing
- For the crust: In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, cold butter and grated cheese. Pulse the processor until the mixture resembles fine sand.
- Stream the ice water to the mixture. Run the processor just until the mixture rolls itself into a little ball. If the mixture is a bit dry, add more ice water by the tablespoonful until it comes together. Gather the dough into a ball.
- Divide the dough evenly in half.
- Shape each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.
- For the filling: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar, making sure there are no lumps in the cornstarch. Mix in the apples slices, lemon juice and pinch of salt. Toss to coat the apples completely in the mixture.
- After the dough has chilled, lightly flour the work surface and roll 1 of the dough disks into a 13-inch round. Carefully place the dough round to a 9-inch diameter pie dish. Brush the overhang with water. Pour the apple filling into the dough-lined dish.
- For the top crust, roll out the second dough disk on the same lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch round, slightly smaller than the bottom crust. Carefully place the dough over the mound of apples. Press the overhang of the bottom and top dough pieces together to seal. Cut the excess dough to 1/2 inch and fold under. Crimp the dough under and pinch together. Cut 3 (2-inch) slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to escape.
- Bake the pie until golden brown, about 30 minutes. If the edge of the crust browns too quickly, place an edge guard or craft your own out of aluminum foil and place on the pie edge. Remove the pie from the oven and cool the pie on a rack for 1 hour.