Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pizza Bites: Perfect Football Party Appetizers

We made these little greasy bites of heaven for a recent football game-watch at our home. We shall not speak of any specifics of the game itself, but lets just say that Paul was in a horrible, foul mood during the whole party and immediately sulked his away upstairs to sleep off his frustration after the whole thing was over and done with. Our Irish love to frustrate their loyal fans.

Here are the two men of the household lazily awaiting the arrival of their pizza bites while totally mesmerized by the television screen. In case you were wondering, Matthew is holding a garlic press in his left hand. At least it's not a paring knife or a box cutter.

These were a breeze to make and super fun too! I already had a few balls of homemade pizza dough in the freezer, along with a jar of homemade pizza sauce. I just let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight so they were ready for assembly! This probably took less than 10 minutes to throw together and they were instantly devoured. Matthew loved eating them as well - once they had cooled down a bit!

For the filling, we just stuck with a basic pepperoni and cheese combination this time around, but you could certainly do whatever suits your fancy! Next time, I plan on doing a Hawaiian Pizza variation with ham, pineapple, and mozzarella. Paul is already making plans to fill a pan with BBQ chicken, bacon, and Jack cheese.

Gooey Pizza Bites
inspired by Chaos in the Kitchen

1 batch pizza dough (enough for 2 medium pizzas)
8 oz. block Mozzarella cheese, cubed into 40 pieces
8 oz. sliced pepperoni
Olive Oil (for brushing)
Parmesan Cheese/Italian Seasoning (for sprinkling)
Pizza Sauce, warmed (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease two cake or pie pans and set aside.

Divide the dough into 40 pieces (I usually eyeball this...but you could most certainly be a little more scientific about it!). Working with one piece at a time, layer a couple pieces of pepperoni and a cube of cheese onto the piece of dough.

Gather and pull the dough up and around the filling and pinch to close. It does not have to look perfect, but should be well sealed so the filling does not leak out into the pan while baking.

Place each ball seam-side down in a prepared pan. Repeat until all the dough has been used and both pans have been filled with about 20 filled dough balls each. Brush the tops of the rolls with some olive oil and sprinkle liberally with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. Paul and I actually ended up sprinkling our rolls with a dried dipping oil blend that we had purchased at a specialty food shop a couple years ago. It was a great way to use it up!

Slide the pans into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so. When finished, the rolls should be a golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let stand for 1 minutes. Loosen the sides and bottom with a metal spatula and carefully lift the whole bat with a wide spatula and transfer to a serving plate.

Serve with warm pizza sauce for dunking!

Heck, while we're at's an awesome and easy pizza sauce recipe. It's the only one we ever use! I am not entirely certain where the original recipe came from, but this is a modified version of one we have been playing around with ever since we were first married.

Our Favorite Pizza Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large tablespoon chopped garlic (not minced)
1/2 heaping teaspoon dried basil
1/4 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

Before beginning, measure all the seasonings into a small ramekin or prep bowl.

In a medium saucepan, heat and stir the olive oil and garlic over medium heat until the oil begins to sizzle and the garlic becomes very fragrant (be very careful not to burn the garlic!). Dump all the spices in with the oil and garlic and continue to stir for about 30 seconds. Pour in the tomatoes (carefully!) and give them a good stir. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the sauce simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until it has thickened. Be sure to stir every once in a while to ensure that nothing is sticking to the bottom of your pan. And I apologize if your stove-top receives an occasional sprinkling of tomato juice.

Once thickened, the sauce is ready to use in your favorite recipes. If you plan on freezing or refrigerating the sauce for later time, be sure to completely cool the sauce to room temperature first. Otherwise, the sauce may take on a sour taste.

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