Pizza Burgers

For sentimental reasons I decided to try this recipe.  A good friend, who sadly is no longer with us, used to make this recipe for pizza burgers and they were a big hit with her family.  Almost every time her grandson came to visit she would make them.  Her boyfriend used to help her.   He’s wanted to replicate her recipe so I made them for him the other night.  If you’re a food snob you might stop reading as soon as you see the ingredients.  For sure my husband is a food snob.  He made up his mind he wouldn’t like them even before he tasted them.  And to tell the truth, I didn’t want to like them either.  But I did.  It is beyond amazing to me that this combination of ingredients tastes JUST LIKE PIZZA.  It reminds me a little of the lady in the grocery line who saw my Christmas baking partner buying the ingredients for our chocolate fudge.   She said her mother made the best fudge (according to her) using Velvetta cheese.  I have no sentimental reason to try that recipe so that will probably never happen!  But it exists out there on the internet if anyone is interested.  Proceed to pizza burgers.  The recipe is not complicated at all and comes together quickly.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 can SPAM

1 block longhorn cheese (I used 8 oz of Colby jack)

1 half jar original Ragu spaghetti sauce

onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano to taste

Preheat your oven to 425.

In a heavy skillet over medium high heat brown the ground beef.

While the meat is browning shred the cheese and the SPAM.

Once the meat is browned put the meat in a mesh colander to drain off excess grease. Return the ground beef to the skillet over low heat.  Season to taste with onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano.  Add the SPAM and cheese and stir until everything is incorporated and the cheese is melted.

Stir in about half of the 24 oz jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce just until the meat mixture is moistened.  You don’t want it quite as juicy as a sloppy Joe.  Remove from the heat.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  (I used a pizza pan because these are, after all, pizza burgers)!!  Put hamburger buns on the baking sheet and spoon prepared meat mixture on the buns.  There should be enough for 8-12 sandwiches.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes.  You can serve them open faced or with a topper.  Your call.  Keep an open mind and enjoy!

I only made up 4 sandwiches on slider buns for sampling purposes and gave the rest of the pizza burger filling to our friend.

NOTE:  While not difficult, I think the SPAM would be a little easier to grate if it had been in the freezer for a tad bit before grating.  My friend’s recipe called for a “block” of longhorn cheese.  Not having any idea how much was in a “block” or being able to find cheese labeled “longhorn” I used 8 oz of Colbyjack.  I did not add any salt.  It has been a really really long time since I’ve had SPAM but I was sure that would add enough salt to the recipe.

To kick this up a bit you could add a couple slices of pepperoni or perhaps a little slice of mozzarella cheese to each burger before baking.   But before you modify, please taste!

 

 

Pizza Sauce

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Last year when I was canning tomatoes I decided to make salsa.  As usual, I did more than necessary and have plenty of salsa left for this year.  This season I made some of my tomatoes into pizza sauce.  There is no pizza delivery anywhere remotely close to where we live so when we are craving pizza I need to make it myself.  The sauce is relatively easy to make.  Cooking down the tomatoes is the most time consuming part so you need to be patient or you will end up with watery sauce.  The kitchen smells so good when this sauce is cooking.

Ingredients:

Tomatoes , approximately 4 quarts peeled and diced

2 T olive oil

1 Large Onion diced

6 or more cloves of garlic (I used more)

2 T oregano

2 T basil

2 T celery seed

4 T chopped fresh parsley

2 T salt

2 T granulated sugar

cracked pepper to taste

1/4 tsp citric acid per pint of sauce

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Core, peel and dice the tomatoes.  Bring a large kettle of water to a boil and drop a few tomatoes in for a minute or so until you see the skins start to break.  Remove the tomatoes to an ice water bath and slide the skins off.  Dice and put the tomatoes into a large, non aluminum, kettle.

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Begin cooking the tomatoes over medium heat.  In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender and translucent but not brown.  Add the onion and garlic to the tomatoes.

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Bring the tomatoes to a simmer stirring frequently.  Add the sugar, herbs and spices, and salt and pepper.  Once the tomatoes begin to break down use an immersion blender to get a nice, smooth sauce.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have reduced by approximately 50% and you have a nice sauce that clings to the spoon.

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Ladle the sauce into sterilized jars (I used pints).  Add 1/4 tsp of citric acid just before sealing the jars.  Process the sauce in a hot water bath for 45 minutes.  Once you remove the jars from the water bath allow them to cool completely before storing.

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That is not ALL pizza sauce…better than half the jars are diced tomatoes.  Now, all you need to do is whip up a crust and get a pizza in the oven.  I made one with the sauce that was left over after filling my jars and some of our favorite toppings.

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NOTE. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a regular blender or food processor and process in small batches.  Also feel free to add other spices or increase/decrease some of the ones that I used.  If you like your sauce kicked up a little add some red pepper flakes.

I put my garlic cloves in the tomatoes without dicing.  Once the sauce simmered for awhile the immersion blender took care of  them.

Pizza

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Almost everyone loves pizza!  Hot pizza or cold pizza, deep dish or thin crust, lots of cheese or lots of sauce, meat lovers or veggie, white or red.  There are so many variations, pizza can make almost everyone happy. You can divide the dough into small balls and roll out little individual pizzas. Let everyone choose their own toppings; a particularly fun thing to do with kids. Pizza. It’s what’s for dinner.

Pizza night starts with the crust.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups tepid water

2 1/4 tsp dry yeast

1/2 tsp salt

1 T olive oil

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp each dried oregano and basil (optional)

1/2 tsp garlic powder

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Place tepid water in a bowl and mix in yeast and salt. Add the olive oil. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour, garlic, and herbs and stir with a wooden spoon. Add remaining flour and knead for five minutes until you have a smooth dough. Grease a bowl and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, approximately an hour.

Divide dough in half or in smaller portions if making small, individual pizzas. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface.

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Preheat the oven to 450.

Once you roll the dough out place on a lightly greased pizza pan. Fold the edges over, lightly rub down with olive oil and pre-bake for approximately ten minutes. This helps to keep the crust from getting soggy.

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Now we are ready to top the pizza. There are many prepared sauces that you might like or you can use fire roasted tomatoes, a little olive oil, and some herbs.

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Blend the tomatoes, 1 T of olive oil and herbs to taste. Spread the sauce on your pre-baked crust.

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Choose your favorite toppings. Tonight I’m using onions, peppers, artichoke hearts, portabella mushrooms, tomatoes and some organic pepperoni.

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Spread the toppings.

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I used romano cheese and fresh mozzarella. Grate the hard cheese over the toppings and distribute slices of mozzarella.

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Bake for approximately 25 minutes until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy this thing of beauty with a cold beer, soda, a nice wine  or a glass of milk.

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Like I mentioned earlier there are countless pizza toppings for every taste. Sausage, bacon, ham, pepperoni. Spinach, fresh basil leaves, arugula. Sweet peppers, banana peppers, peppadews, green olives, kalamata olives, black olives. Mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic, artichokes, asparagus, zucchini. And pineapple…my least favorite topping. Love it in an upside down cake but leave it off my pizza.

Mozzarella is the most common of pizza cheeses but provolone, feta, Parmesan, Romano, asiago, goat cheese, even Gorgonzola are great options. Different cheeses pair well with different veggies and meats. Most grocery deli sections and frozen food aisles have countless types and brands of pizzas.  If you don’t have time to make a pizza from scratch doctor a grocery pizza up with fresh toppings and extra cheese to make it your own.

Note:  The crust recipe makes enough for 2 large pizzas. If you only plan to make one, freeze half the dough BEFORE you let it rise. Divide the dough and place half in a zip lock freezer bag. When you’re ready to make a second pizza let it thaw/rise and your ready for pizza #2.