Mini Pizzas using refrigerated biscuits and brownies with salty pretzels nestled inside!
I was reminded again of how great convenience items are. I know I like to talk about baking from scratch and all, but I am NOT above convenience items. I know I can mince up cloves of garlic when I need it for a recipe and that it's way cheaper, but I'll be damned if there aren't times when that store-bought jar of minced garlic looks like a million bucks. And I love making my biscuits from scratch and having them turn out picture-perfect, but there just aren't enough hours in the day to make those from scratch EVERY time. And I know it's waaaay more cost effective to buy a block of cheese and shred it up myself as I need it, but I don't want to have to break everything out and take the time to do it--when I can simply pick up a bag while I'm at the store and toss it in with only 30 seconds used.
I'm just sayin', being the only one home with two young kids when it's time to get dinner on the table are the times when those convenience items are well worth it.
Although it's not just in time crunches when these things come in handy. It's also nice when you are out of key ingredients for the "from scratch" versions. And that's where Friday comes in.
The notorious Pizza & a Movie Night.
I never made it back to Trader Joe's for their pizza crusts. I did have a box of ready-to-make crust, however. But I didn't have any tomato sauce. Oh yea, and I didn't have any cheese. Nor did I have any of the sprinkle-over-your-pasta version of parmesan cheese. I sure was scraping the bottom here. And I knew Thing1 would not let me out of the special night. So I started doing the 'kitchen scramble'. Refrigerated biscuit dough--actually bought for just this kind of emergency. And I found a half-can of black olives. And there was some sliced muenster cheese in the drawer--the kind usually for making sandwiches. Oh! And look! Green salad olives! Now I just needed a sauce to bring it home. I was able to locate a jar in my fridge with about 2 tablespoons of spaghetti sauce in it. I'm not sure why it got put back with so little left, but at this moment I'm sure glad it did!
I told my daughter of my genius plan. It was met with a frown and crinkled nose. Thing1 didn't seem to agree with me. So I sweetened the deal. Literally. I told her I'd make it up to her with brownies. There is no better way to turn her frown upside down. ;)
For the mini-pizzas, I re-purposed the refrigerated biscuits. Instead of baking them as-is, I flattened them out (or kneaded them, if you wanted to stay in the spirit of pizza-making). Then I placed them on a greased baking sheet. Popped them in the oven for 2 minutes, and pulled them back out to be topped. (Again, staying in the spirit of pizza-making.) For the girls' ones, I spread the leftover spaghetti sauce--turns out it is a good thing I was going to do some for myself differently as I ran out of sauce. haha
For mine, I went a different way. I had grape tomatoes hanging out on my counter and wanted to use them with olive oil in place of the traditional sauce. So I drizzled olive oil over my 4, sliced up the super cute lil tomaters started creating my mini-pizzas.
In my fridge was some minced garlic-fresh. Yes, I know, I totally just ranted about convenience items. But this was leftover from the other night when I had time enough on my hands to mince up the garlic I bought fresh from the Farmer's Market.
On both sets, it was then time for the olives followed by seasonings--salt, white pepper, onion powder, basil, and oregano. Into the oven the baking sheet went for another 8 minutes or so. We pulled the pizzas out (by this time Nate was home) and plated them up with the slices of cheese. I figured the girls would have a lil more fun if they got to put the cheese on themselves--good call.
By now I'm sure you are wondering what movie we watched.
Nate, convinced we the girls and I had never seen it, suggested 'The Emperor's New Groove'. I promise we had watched it before--probably on a previous Friday. But we watched it again. I'm not complaining, mind you. It is a cute movie.
For dessert, I drew inspiration from Love From The Oven's post of Caramel & Chocolate Chip Brownies with Pretzel Crust. When I first saw the picture of this post, I started drooling. Brownies (done right) do that to me--what can I say?
I used Christi's recipe for inspiration because when I checked out the ingredient list, I knew I was lacking. So here's what I came up with.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa powder
- 1 box chocolate pudding mix
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- caramel baking bits (these really do look like chickpeas)
- semi-sweet chocolate chips
- butterscotch chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 baking dish and set aside. I used butter for this.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder, and the dry pudding mix. Set it aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, which has been fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and olive oil.
The butter will initially look like it is resisting being combined with the oil. Just give it a few minutes on medium speed. It will be a soft yellow in color and smooth and creamy.
Now beat in the eggs and sugar.
Slowly, beat in the dry mixture. Once all of the dry ingredients have been thoroughly mixed in, beat in the vanilla extract.
|Don't you just want to eat it with a spoon??|
Spoon about half of the the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Crunch up some handfuls of pretzels and sprinkle overtop.
Now add some handfuls of the caramel bits, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips.
Spoon the remaining batter on top and spread to even it out. Some of the "crunchy" layer will get mixed up in this top layer--don't worry about it.
Pop it into the oven and bake for about 18 to 20 minutes.
**If you read Christi's post about her heavenly looking brownies, you'll notice my placement of the pretzels is different from hers. While I did read through the ingredient list, I didn't really read through the step-by-step instructions. Yes, I know, this is the most basic rule--read through the recipe in its entirety first. Whoops.
I did notice, however, that when she went to cut her brownies, she used a circle cookie cutter. I thought this was a really nifty idea. So I used my biscuit cutter. This made for the perfect fit in out dessert bowls. :)
We topped our "brownie rounds" with a scoop of ice cream. My ice cream of choice was Raspberry Dark Chocolate Chunk. Then we all got a good tablespoon of caramel on top. Yumm!!!