It’s Not Delivery, It’s Pizza Date Night

Last summer I intended to make pizza from scratch. I’d looked up a few recipes. Watched America’s Test Kitchen. Read more recipes about grilling pizza. But I never got around to trying it out. Many know my devotion to burritos, but I also love pizza. If asked to choose between which food I could eat for the remainder of my life–until succumbing to high cholesterol and morbid obesity–I’d be torn to choose.

Pizza date night is by no means an original idea, but it still counts as an idea. If you’re looking for something fun to do with a lady friend or gentlemen suitor, I suggest a pizza party. While it won’t rival the parties of our youth that included germ-filled plastic ball pits and potentially puking before the ghost story portion of the sleepover, it will have booze. If you play your cards right you could still yammie before it’s time to turn out the lights. The only difference is your mom may not come to get you this time.

The upside to making pizza is it’s relatively easy.

The hierarchy of pizzas is (most complex to easiest):

Completely homemade

Semi-homemade (I’m coming for you Sandra Lee)

Take and bake

Frozen

Delivery

I opted for semi-homemade. Trader Joe’s had everything we needed for a pizza party. They have pre-made dough, pasta/pizza sauce, cheese, organic and non-organic veggies, meats, meat substitutes. No matter what dietary restrictions your date has, you can accommodate their nom nom needs with one store visit. We went for a straightforward, traditional pizza pie. We got two crusts: whole wheat and herb. Then loaded up on veggies and arugula. Don’t forget to pick up some cheese. We bought fresh mozzarella.

You’ll have to roll out the dough, which is relatively easy. Then it’s an assembly job. Bust out that Slap Chop you bought off an infomercial and get at it. Crust/sauce/veggies/cheese. While the pizzas baked, we tossed up a salad with the extra veggies and made a balsamic salad dressing. 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. So, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Shake it in a Tupperware then put on the salad.

Get crazy with your toppings. Whoever came up with bacon and pineapple clearly was an outside-the-pizza-box thinker.

Let me know your favorite pizza combinations in the comments.

Make Trader Joe’s Your Sous Chef

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It’s good to be known for something.

I’m known for a few things: cooking, an insatiable appetite for Mexican food and being funny.

At least that’s what people tell me to my face. I suspect that’s so they get invited to future dinner parties and taco excursions.

Once a month I have board meetings for my alma mater. Sometimes I attend and others I’ll skip the commute into the city and join remotely. I’ve been working later into the night recently (not as a gigolo) and can’t make it downtown in time to fraternize. So tonight in my rear view mirror I got to see a man vigorously drumming with drum sticks on his steering wheel. Once home, I made a quick pasta sauce from scratch to accompany a package of pesto tortellini from Trader Joe’s.

Bachelor Tip: Trader Joe’s and pre-made food can be your friend.

Ravioli or tortellini make really quick dinners. If you’re watching your carb intake, I’m sorry you aren’t blessed with my metabolism. But like all things in life, moderation. Add a salad or some grilled veggies to substitute for eating all the carbs in the pasta.

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This sauce was inspired mostly by America’s Test Kitchen. They have yet to lead me astray in the kitchen. I also implicitly trust a man in a bow-tie.

Quick Marinara Sauce

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 can organic, whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 2 mini sweet peppers, sliced in rings or diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 3-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 splash of vodka (chef’s choice if you want a shot for yourself, too)
  • Sprinkling of oregano

Process

  1. Put your phone on mute for your conference call.
  2. Heat skillet on medium heat.
  3. Cut up all the veggies.
  4. Add tsp olive oil to hot pan.
  5. Add onions and carrots to pan. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  6. Add butter.
  7. Stir.
  8. Add mushrooms, stir. Add garlic.
  9. Add can of tomatoes. Mash with the back of a spoon. Or you can also use crushed tomatoes, if you don’t feel like the hulk tonight.
  10. Keep stirring and smashing. Add a splash of vodka or wine. Alcohol always adds more depth of flavor to sauces.

Total cook time was about 30 minutes before it thickened and the raw taste was cooked out of the tomatoes. Be sure to add crushed red pepper flakes if you like a little heat in your sauce.

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