3 Ways to Jazz Up Store Bought Pizza Crust

store bought pizza crust

For me, cooking is a joy and a stress reliever. I love the process – gathering, mixing, stirring, chopping, creating – but sometimes I don’t have time to immerse myself in that process. And there are some days when the process I enjoy so much just sounds burdensome. Enter one of my new, faux-process dinners: pizza using a store bought crust.

Pizza crust isn’t too difficult to whip up, but on those nights when I’m tired or low on time, store bought crust is a short cut that allows me to serve a home cooked meal with little effort.

Bread is my culinary best friend, so my tastes gravitate towards pudgy, thick pizza crust. However, my love handles don’t always appreciate my carb-laden chum, so Tim and I have been making our pizzas on whole wheat, thin crusts we found at Target. (This isn’t a sponsored post, just FYI.) It’s square, fairly low calorie, and thick enough to be chewy not crackery.

I’m always down for the standard cheese and pepperoni, but it makes me feel more grown up to be creative with our toppings. Plus, that helps me justify having pizza twice in a week (because you have to use both crusts, right…).

Here are 3 ways we’ve jazzed up our store bought pizza crust:

3 Ways to Jazz Up Pizza Crust

Fig Proscuitto Pizza – based on this from Pioneer Woman.

Sweet, salty, gooey with a fresh bite from the arugula. Eat it with a fork.

  • Crust
  • Fig Preserves – Bonne Maman is widely available and super tasty.
  • Proscuitto – crisped in skillet and crumbled.
  • Mozzarella
  • Bake at 400 until cheese is melted, 10 ish minutes.
  • Top with chopped arugula and shaved Parmesan.

Bacon and Egg Pizza – based on this in Food Network Magazine.

Breakfast for dinner is a favorite. Breakfast AND pizza? Yes, please.

  • Crust
  • Salsa
  • Red bell peppers, diced and sautéd until soft
  • Mozzarella
  • Bacon, cooked and chopped
  • Make wells in toppings and crack an egg into each well.
  • Bake at 400 until egg whites are opaque. Check after 20 minutes.

Peppered Ricotta and Roasted Veggie Pizza with Red Wine Reduction

Roast all your leftover vegetables and throw them on top of some creamy ricotta. A drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette would be a tasty substitution for the red wine reduction. 

  • Crust
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese mixed with freshly cracked pepper
  • Roasted veggies (we did 1 yellow onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 small sweet potato)
  • Bake 400 until heated through, 15 minutes
  • Drizzle with red wine reduction sauce.

Is pizza in your meal rotation? Do you make your own crust? What are your favorite toppings?

When I have time to make homemade pizza crust, I’m going to follow these 9 tricks for making amazing pizza from Erika over at Let Why Lead!

Low-Fat Banana Bundt Cake

Low-Fat Banana Bundt Cake

People get really loyal about their banana bread recipes. I’m no exception. I use my Auntie Lo’s recipe almost exclusively. However, there are times when branching out is a good thing. This Banana Bundt Cake is no exception. (I realize this is technically a cake, but it’s banana and you could bake it in a loaf pan, so it qualifies as a banana bread in my mind.)

When you’re a sweet toothed, carb addict who is trying to make wise food choices, low-fat and cake in the same recipe is a beautiful partnership. My mom had already vetted a couple muffin recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook I talked about in this month’s Twitterature post, so we were intrigued by the banana cake that fit that glorious description.

Many things can go wrong with low-fat baked goods. Some aren’t sweet enough (for me), others have a weird texture due to reduced amounts of butter and/or eggs. Some just have that “too-healthy” stank on them. But this dense, flavorful cake? None of the above.

Banana Bundt Cake Ingredients

Bananas and unsweetened applesauce add moistness to balance the reduced oil content. Brown sugar’s molasses undertones provide strong flavor and just enough sweetness to make this a viable dessert. The whipped egg white to egg yolk ration is perfect, cutting out some cholesterol while still maintaining a tight, rich crumb. I’m a sucker for anything with nutmeg (homey and festive, right?), and I loved how the unexpected spice in this cake made the banana flavor more complex.

Banana Bundt Cake Process

The recipe calls for baking in a Bundt pan (which is how I baked it), but my mom has made it twice in a 9-inch springform with great results. Slices of any shape are perfect for tucking into lunch boxes or nibbling on in the afternoon. I love mine with a plop of peanut butter and a cup of tea in the morning. But, it is a cake, so we’ve served it with a cloud of lightly sweetened whipped cream to rave reviews. I can also envision it with a dusting of powdered sugar and berries or a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce.

whipped cream

Whatever way you serve it, this Low-Fat Banana Bundt Cake is worth having in your banana repertoire. As with most banana baked goods, it tastes even better then next day.

Budget tips:

  • Unless your family eats a lot of unsweetened applesauce, buy a pack of the individual snack sized applesauces. You’ll have enough to make three cakes without worrying about the applesauce spoiling.
  • Buy overly ripe bananas instead of waiting for regular ones to get hinky. Grocery stores sell bags of brown bananas for cheap. You can even freeze mashed banana to use later (which is what you see in the photo of ingredients above).

Do you have a favorite banana baked good recipe?

Low-Fat Banana Bundt Cake

Banana Bundt Cake recipe

A dense and delicious banana cake for anytime of day! Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites: Flavorful Recipes For Healthful Meals

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly coat a 10-inch Bundt pan (or 9-inch springform) with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Mix well and set aside.

Combine the egg yolks, bananas, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until evenly blended.

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold the egg whites into the banana batter with a spatula. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 60 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on rack for 10 minutes and then invert onto a plate.

Store in an airtight container.

Serves 16

Per serving: 140 calories, 3.5 grams protein, 5.8 grams fat, 18.6 grams carbs


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Shauna Niequist’s Chocolate Mousse

Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazonany purchase you make supports Primitive Roads (with no extra cost to you!)


Sometimes good food photos just don’t happen. Despite the fact that I didn’t have time (or the lighting) to take pretty photos of this delicious dark chocolate mousse, the recipe needed to be shared.

Our Bread and Wine group/book club/study (not sure what to call it) met on Wednesday for another wonderful evening of fellowship around the table. I was in charge of the sweet ending to our Italian meal. My default desserts are generally heavy on the gluten, which doesn’t work for a couple of wheat intolerant gals, so I was going to go with sorbet to finish off the evening until I perused the recipe index of Shauna’s book.

GatheringI love meeting and eating around the (mismatched) table with these women!

Just the name, Simplest Dark Chocolate Mousse, had me convinced, then I looked up the recipe and was further convinced by the short ingredient list: dark chocolate, honey, and heavy whipping cream. Not only was this absolutely gluten-free, but it was easy too!

The honey offered a pleasant sweetness to the mousse but didn’t compete with the intense chocolate flavor. If you weren’t a huge dark chocolate fan, milk chocolate would certainly work.

A dollop of freshly whipped cream is the perfect foil for such a rich dessert. I waited until just before serving to add big clouds of lightly sweetened whipped cream to the tops of the mousse. The chilled mousse has a fudge-like consistency. If you wanted a lighter texture, take the mousse out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

I doubled the recipe to feed our 10 person group and had one serving left over to feed my hubby after youth group. Shauna suggests putting the mousse in juice glasses, but I don’t have 10 of any type of glass except for mugs and tea cups. So, I opted to serve the mousse in my pretty tea cups.

Mousse in tea cups

My baking sheet isn’t the prettiest background but worked well to corral all of these tea cups in the fridge.

Simplest Dark Chocolate Mousse

         adapted from Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

  • 1 quart chilled heavy cream, divided
  • 2 (12 oz) bags dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup honey

In a saucepan over low heat, stir together 1 1/2 cups cream, chocolate chips, and honey until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

While the chocolate mixture is cooling, beat 1 1/2 cups cream to soft peaks in the bowl of an electric mixer. Fold cream into chocolate mixture in two additions.

Divide mousse among 12 glasses or ramekins (or teacups!). Refrigerate until set, about two hours.

Before serving, beat the remaining cream to firm peaks. (I always add some vanilla and powdered sugar to the cream intended for whipped cream). Spoon whipped cream on top of each mousse.

Serve plain or with berries.

Yield: 12 servings


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Raspberry Brie Bites

Raspberry Brie Bites I wish I could take credit for these Raspberry Brie Bites, but they were the brain child of my sweet friend Christie. She made them for a Fall party in 2011, which ended up to be the day before Tim and I got engaged! (That’s her on my right (below), holding the apple…). She makes some of the most delicious little appetizers and these are no exception. After having them at that party two years ago, Tim and I have made these jammy, cheesy puffs a dozen times, especially during the holidays.

The recipe is really straightforward, but this simple combination of flavors is addicting. Plus, they’re just cute. They remind me of mini brie en croutes with a sweet touch from the jam. Three ingredients and ten minutes later Raspberry Brie Bites are in the oven. By the time you tidy up the kitchen, the bites are golden and bubbling.

Raspberry Brie Bites 4

Once you start making them, you’ll think of endless variations. I LOVE Brie, but you could sub any soft cheese. Cream cheese would be great, as would gorgonzola for a more savory bite. Same goes with the jam. Try fig preserves, blackberry jam, or a chutney of some sort. If time had allowed yesterday, I would have fried up some bacon to crumble inside this batch.

Make sure you plan ahead a bit – the puff pastry needs to thaw. A final warning: You will be tempted to pop one of these bites in your mouth the minute they come out of the oven. Resist or be scarred by the molten hot jam lava…

Raspberry Brie Bites

  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, I use Pepperidge Farm
  • Brie cheese, approx 3 oz depending on how big your chunks are
  • Raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin or two.

Let the puff pastry thaw in the refrigerator (great) or countertop (good) until the sheets are workable but still cold.  One sheet at a time, unfold the pastry and lay flat on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet out until the folds are smooth and the sheet has stretched a bit. You don’t have to be exact. Cut the sheet into 12 pieces. Line muffin cups with the pastry pieces. Repeat with the second sheet so you have 24 all together.

Raspberry Brie Bites

Trim the rind off of the Brie and cut into small chunks. Mine end up being 1/2″ cubes. Place one chunk of brie in each pastry cup. Drop a teaspoon of jam into each cup. Now comes the fun part! Squeeze the tops of the pastry together to create little packages.

Raspberry Brie Bites 2

Bake the bites for 20-25 minutes or until just golden. Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then take the bites out. Eat warm or at room temperature. We’ve never had any leftover so I can’t vouch for how they weather an overnighter.

Yield: 24 bites

Raspberry Brie Bites 5

Banana Cake with Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting

Banana Cake with PB Frosting

When my mom begins an email with, “gotta share these two new and fabulous recipes with you!”, I know I’m in for a treat.

The summer humidity where my mom lives makes bananas ripen quicker than they get eaten. After making multiple loaves of banana bread, she went searching for a different recipe to utilize her browning nanners and a spare cake mix. What she found was a simple and versatile (you could use any flavor cake mix) recipe that yields a moist, tender cake with a mild, but distinct, banana flavor.

My mom and I share an affinity for banana bread and peanut butter sandwiches. With that in mind she found a fluffy peanut butter frosting to adorn the banana cake and mimic the taste of those tasty sandwiches we so love.

The result of these two new recipes is indeed fabulous!

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Banana Cake {source}

  • yellow cake mix
  • eggs, oil, and water (ingredients listed on the box to make cake)
  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Create cake batter according the package instructions. In a separate bowl, mash the two bananas. Mix the baking soda into the bananas until thoroughly mixed – it will look lighter and slightly foamy. Add banana mixture to the cake batter and stir until combined.

Pour banana batter into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake according to package directions. Let cool completely and frost with Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting (below).

Banana cake with PB Frosting

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting {adapted from All Recipes}

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Beat butter and peanut butter together until well combined. Beat in the powdered sugar. Frosting will be very dense and thick.  Add heavy cream and beat until fluffy and spreadable. Spread on cooled Banana Cake.