Writing novels for a living appears to be a perfectly safe occupation. As my fellow authors know, however, the writing life comes with one major hazard. No, we don't dodge flying bullets or psychotic killers (though our characters may). What we combat every day is a more sinister villain: Excess Calorie Man. He lurks behind every extra handful of peanuts or just-one-more-silver of pie.
Even when our diet is relatively healthy, the hours of sitting in front of our computers take their toll as EC Man gets his jollies from as little as a sliced-up banana on a peanut butter sandwich or an extra hunk of cheese with your crackers.
As you can imagine, it’s even worse for a culinary mystery writer. Testing recipes, especially delicious ones like the cookies in Holiday Buzz (my latest Coffeehouse Mystery), give Excess Calorie Man free reign. Well, today I’m going to show you one way this writer reigns him in...with a lunch of my No-Guilt Mini Pizzas
Mark Bittman became famous with his 101 foodie idea articles. I swear my mother and aunt could have written one on 101 things to do with Italian squash. As a kid, I took all my pop's homegrown veggies for granted. As an adult, I miss them dearly. This recipe makes good use of zucchini. It's a fun, quickie, kid-friendly lunch my mother and aunt used to make for me as a little girl. Of course, they used homemade red sauce. Today, I took a shortcut with jarred pizza sauce. The brand I picked up was quite tasty, and I can recommend it as a time saver.
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Small to medium zucchini (courgette)
Pizza sauce (jarred or homemade)
Mozzarella, shredded (whole milk or part-skim)
Toppings (see note*)
*Note: Use your favorite pizza toppings from veggies to meat--just be sure any meat is already cooked. Topping suggestions: sauteed, chopped mushrooms; sliced olives; chopped peppers; regular, turkey, or meatless pepperoni or cooked and crumbled sausage, etc.
Directions: (1) Cut the zucchini into slices of 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. You want the slices thin enough to cook fast under the broiler but thick enough to hold their shapes for handling after toppings are added. Place the slices on a sheet pan. Tip: for easy cleanup, line the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. (2) Spoon pizza sauce onto each slice. To save time, use jarred. (If you need a recommendation, I like the Ragu Homemade Style Pizza Sauce, "100% Natural.") Sprinkle on your shredded mozzarella and toppings. As noted, because these pizzas are finished in a flash, make sure your meat toppings are already cooked. If using mushrooms or peppers, I would chop them finely and saute them in a bit of olive oil before adding. (3) Place the pan of mini pizzas under your broiler for 1 to 3 minutes--time will depend on the intensity of your oven's broiler. No matter what, keep a close eye on these because they cook very quickly and the cheese can burn fast. Remove and...eat with (guiltless) joy!
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