Italian Savory Monkey Bread (aka Pizza Puffs)

Pizza Puffs

Home economics classes seem like a stereotypical female rite of passage in the 1950s. But in 1998, Matthew’s middle school home economics class was where he learned this recipe for “Pizza Puffs,” which he now affectionately refers to as Italian Savory Monkey Bread. It’s a delicious, incredibly simple and delightfully cheap way to make a homemade pizza of sorts without doing the work to mix even the simplest of crusts. Kudos to Matthew’s home-ec teacher Ginger Patterson for sharing this recipe, which is easy enough for a young teenager to make with minimal adult supervision.

Ingredients

1 can of eight biscuits

your favorite pizza sauce

shredded cheese

desired additional toppings (pepperoni, cooked hamburger meat, vegetables, etc.)

Step one:

Cut the biscuits into 4 pieces each and spread across the bottom of a thin casserole dish.

Step two:

Cover the biscuits with the desired amount of sauce, add additional toppings of your choice and cover generously with cheese.

Step three:

Bake in a 375-degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. (Your cooking time will vary based on your oven, the depth of toppings and how brown you want the biscuits and cheese.)

Step four:

Let cool and break apart pieces to serve. The recipe will serve 2-4 people, depending on how hungry you are.

Matthew’s take: This is one of the first recipes I learned to make on my own (other than stir-fry, which I started making about the same time by experimenting with grilled chicken, cheese and green peppers in a pan on the stovetop). It’s a delicious recipe that is mostly homemade, without any real cooking going into it. That should appeal to people who don’t like spending a lot of time and effort making dinner, while also appealing to people who don’t want to spend a lot of money buying ingredients for a meal. Quite possibly the best part is that, like a full traditional pizza, you can eat the leftovers cold or warm. These get an A+ for ease and cost, an A for taste and a B for presentation. Other than the browned cheese, there’s nothing fancy about how they look, but taste is what matters most of all to me.

Molly’s take: Despite my well-known dislike for pasta/pizza sauce, I’m glad Matthew took a chance on making these for us. They’re very easy to make, inexpensive and quite tasty! I personally loved having sausage and pepperoni on them. The more meats the better! But that’s how I usually feel about pizza anyway. This had a deep-dish pizza taste to me, which I liked, and a good combination of meat, cheese, sauce and bread. Overall, a delicious and easy meal for a family to make, since it can feed up to four people, or a couple like us, who can have it for leftovers on another day. Overall grade: A. 🙂

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Five-Ingredient Homemade Poptarts

step four

We found the inspiration for these on Pinterest and decided to add our own different fillings. The original recipes we found called for strawberry or other berry preserves (which are more expensive), but we used a few different kinds of jelly we had on hand. Here’s the recipe – with just five ingredients! As always, check out our take below.

Ingredients:

Two frozen roll-out pie crusts

Any kind of jelly, jam or preserves

1 cup powdered sugar

App. 1 tbsp. milk

Sprinkles, optional

Step one:

 Defrost the frozen pie crusts (either by microwaving for a few seconds or leaving at room temperature until soft) so you can unroll them. Cut them into small rectangles, all the same size. You should end up with six, and you can make two more with the edges. (The ones made from the edges will only look as good as your skills can make them.)

Step two:

Put about a tablespoon of jelly onto half of the squares like this.

step one

Step three:

Take the non-jellied pieces of pie crust and put them on top of the jellied pieces. Seal the edges and crimp with a fork.

step two

Step four: 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Depending on your oven, it might take longer, or shorter, so keep an eye on them. Let them cool completely before icing.

Step five:

Mix the topping! Stir together the powdered sugar with the milk, adding more milk if necessary. Stir in sprinkles and spread on the cooled poptarts.

step three

Your finished product:

poppytarts

Matthew’s take: I don’t eat a lot of store-bought PopTarts because they’re an unhealthy food item I can stay away from, but I do enjoy them. The thought of making our own pastries intrigued me, and I got even more excited at the thought of including local jellies, including blackberry and elderberry fruit spreads canned right here in western North Carolina. My high interest in this recipe didn’t end in disappointment after we tried the recipe. These poptarts are just as tasty as their name-brand counterparts, making eight of them only cost us about $5 (remember, they are homemade and require a few ingredients) and each one only nets about 300 calories, including the sugary icing (which I would leave off if I made them regularly because you wouldn’t lose much in the way of taste and the jelly would still provide the sweet factor). These poptarts would be great to make with or for your kids and, while they’re thought of traditionally as a breakfast or snack treat, they’re sweet and versatile enough to pass as a dessert. They get an A+ for ease and cost, an A for taste and an A for presentation.

Molly’s take: I loved these super easy-to-make poptarts and enjoyed the fact that they tasted homemade, while at the same time, like a rather fancy pastry you could get at a coffee shop. My favorite was probably the blackberry, but any jelly would work. Just be careful about really thin jellies, because while baking, our elderberry jelly poptart filling leaked out onto the pan a little. I wouldn’t leave off the delicious, unhealthy icing, because I’ve always loved iced Poptarts. (Of all kinds, but especially brown sugar cinnamon and s’mores.) As a homeschooled kid, Poptarts were very often my morning meal. And the more sweet and sugary, the better. My mom and I would usually spread butter on a few wildberry or blueberry Poptarts and bake them in the oven before eating them. That gave me a serious love for some buttery poptarts. That said, these are great and you should try them.