Pair’o’Pizzas & Some Workout Variety

Yesterday was a nice sunny spring day here in the South, so I took advantage with a morning run. Because of that, I ended up switching out the day’s running-heavy Invictus workout (I’m following last June’s strength building cycle, since I am not able to do the CrossFit Open this year and I need some strength back!) for a pure lifting session. I decided to try out some heavy barbell hip thrusts, since I was skipping out on kettlebell swings.

I often do light, single-leg hip thrusts for hip stability, but I’ve never tried them heavy. The verdict? Hard, but a really great way to target the glutes/upper hamstrings in a way that is different than squats, lunges, deads, and all the usual suspects – I’ll keep ’em!

After the workout, it was definitely time to think about dinner. My boyfriend is home again right now, and I’ve been trying to get a chance for months to revisit some pizza recipes I first made for us just about exactly a year ago. I mean, who doesn’t love a Saturday pizza-night?

I habitually do two versions – one with fresh mozzerrella, tomato, and basil (beccause I want something more traditionally pizza-flavored) and one with ricotta, feta, parmesan, spinach, red onion, kalamata olives, rosemary, and garlic cream sauce. Because… wait, you need a reason for that?

The spinach one is definitely a standout. It turns out that rosemary, olives, and ricotta are just amazing together. Here’s the details:

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Pizza at Home, Two Ways

I make a double batch of THIS crust in my bread machine, first of all – and I have learned the hard way that you need a TON of flour on your hands before you even think about trying to take it out of the pan. I’ve tried several crust recipes and this is by far the closest to what I, as a native of the Northeast, am used to. This time I felt mildly fancy, so when I brushed my crusts with olive oil I sprinkled sea salt around the edges too.

*Note – The recipe says to par-bake 5 minutes before topping; I do more like 7-10. Maybe I over-top or something, but the 5 minutes never seems to be enough to avoid gluey crust in the center for me.*

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Then, while you par-bake your crusts, make some garlic cream sauce. I habitually don’t measure when I do this, but for two pies (with a moderate amount of sauce on each – I don’t want to overdo it both healthwise, and also so it doesn’t just overwhelm the flavors) I do about 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup milk, a tablespoon butter, one clove crushed garlic, and 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch, with a generous sprinkle of salt and LOTS of black pepper. I whisk it all together and then heat it until it bubbles and thickens.

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Once the par-baked crusts are back out of the oven, put some of the cream sauce down on the one you’ll use for the tomato version – the spinach one CAN get sauce on the bottom, and sometimes I do it that way, but it’s not the best method in my opinion. If I remember everything in the proper order, assembly goes like this:

Tomato Verson
Garlic Cream Sauce (I could just eat this on fresh bread…)
3-4 sliced Roma tomatos
1 bunch basil leaves, rinsed and removed from stems
Sliced mozzerella – 8 oz if you’re feeling light, 16 if you’re feeling cheesy (this was most of a 16 oz roll, it was a treat night)
Grated or shredded parmesan – about 1/4 cup. Just sprinkle it around.
Oregano and red pepper flakes – I like to sprinkle these on before baking so they really get in there. Fresh oregano would probably be delicious, but I can’t find it around here.

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Spinach and Olive Version
2-3 big handfuls of fresh baby spinach
Garlic cream sauce – spread around on top of the spinach
1/2 red onion, sliced very, very thin
Ricotta cheese – dolloped around on top of the spinach
Feta – sprinkle generously
Parmesan – sprinkle liberally, including on the edges of the crust
Kalamata olives – I get the ones that are already pitted nd cut in pieces so I just have to sprinkle them on top
Rosemary – I like to finely chop this, both so it bruises and releases flavor, and also so it’s not a noticeable texture. I used about 2 medium sprigs on last night’s pie.

*I forgot last night to put the spinach on the bottom, which isn’t the end of the world, but some of the leaves will dry out if you do it that way. It’s better if the sauce and cheese go on top of the spinach.*

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Bake at 425 (same as the crust recipe) for about 20 minutes.

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Yum.

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