Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and Pizza . . .

Left-Over Lunches

Okay, so there were no planes involved, but I like the title.  But, pizza was involved, and after my saga, I promise, I have posted my recipe for homemade pizza.  So this morning, in an unfortunate occurrence my left-over pizza, which was going to be my lunch today, got left behind in my vehicle following a traumatic experience.

Currently, I drive a Nisson Xterra, which has been a great way to get from Point A to Point B (and my dad says, if you can do that successfully, it really doesn’t matter what you drive). It was cold last night. There was frost on the windshield, and when I tried to open the driver’s side door, I couldn’t get it to unlock, it was stuck and wouldn’t budge.

I was running late with only twenty minutes to drive, park, catch my train, and still be on time for work, so I decided instead of fiddling with it to try to get it to work I would simply get in through one of the other doors. Because of the setup of the front, I thought it would be easier to go through the back seat door, and then through the center opening between the two front seats.  However, I did not take into account,  A) the placement of the gearshift in relation to the seats, B) the position of the headrest, C) The degree of flexibility I currently possess,  and D) My size (Let’s just say I’m not the size 7 I was six children and thirty-some years ago).

However, throwing caution to the wind, I proceeded with my back door entrance plan. I managed to get myself through the center opening, with the exception of one leg. In the process I kind of fell against the door, wedging myself into a very awkward position (and of course my phone was in my pocket that was jammed against the door, so I couldn’t get it.)  As I tumbled into place, my elbow caught the horn, setting it off, so of course Captain Underfoot, my Border Collie/German Shepherd guardian, came out to investigate and commenced barking furiously behind the fence.

My shoe (the one on the foot that didn’t make the over-the-seat hurdle) had fallen off, and the headrest was in the way, and I was stuck!  I have to admit, I felt several moments of sheer panic!  I told myself I was being ridiculous and to just calm down, and not worry about someone seeing me. Although, I suppose if someone walked by I could have  simply told them I was trying out a new style of automobile yoga.  After my panic subsided, I skooshed (yes that’s a word) a bit until I was more perpendicular (sort of) than horizontal, and in a move destined to prove that I can still do the splits, I managed to throw my other leg over the seat, then over the gearshift, and into the place where it belonged.

I reached back and retrieved my shoe (which I couldn’t put on because the door was still jammed, and I wasn’t about to try any more gymnastics),  I glanced at the clock and determined that I still had time to catch my train if I hurried, and the door lock cooperated (I hoped that by the time I got to the station the Xterra would have warmed up enough that the lock mechanism would be thawed and I could get out normally).  My driving angels were with me and I only encountered one red light, and I made it to the train station with a couple of minutes to spare —and to my great relief, the lock mechanism worked, and I was able to put my shoe on and board the train without complication. But, in all the hoopla, I forgot to get my left-over pizza out of the back. Sigh.  And now that you’ve commiserated with me, I give you my recipe for homemade pizza.


Pizza Crust 

Makes 1 small pizza – double or triple for larger pizzas

1 tbsp. dry yeast

1/2 tsp. sugar

2/3 c. warm water

1 1/2 c. flour

Dissolve sugar and salt into water. Add yeast and let rest for 5 minutes. Stir in flour 1 cup flour. Dough will be sticky.  Add additional flour a tablespoon at a time, kneading after each addition, until a soft dough forms.  Cover bowl and set in a warm place to rise (about 20 minutes).

Grease a pizza pan (or cookie sheet).  Cover hands with butter or oil. Stretch and pat dough to fill pan. Let rise in pan until puffy.  Cover with pizza sauce and toppings. Bake at 375 degrees 20 – 25 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. If you don’t have a pizza cutter handy, cut the pizza with into slices with a pair of kitchen shears.


1  8 oz can tomato sauce

1/4 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp. fresh chopped finely)

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 tsp pepper

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp oil

1/2 tsp. minced garlic (dry)  or use fresh minced garlic to taste

Mix together and simmer over very low heat while crust is rising.

Suggested Toppings 

Sprinkle a layer of shredded cheese over sauce, add desired toppings, and sprinkle another layer of cheese over the top.

mozzarella cheese, shredded

Italian sausage cooked and crumbled

pepperoni slices

Canadian bacon  & pineapple tidbits

mushrooms, sliced

peppers, diced

black olives, chopped

onions, chopped


PS: I ate the cold pizza on the drive home —hey, I was hungry!




Dinner Loaf


Back in the day with six kids to feed, and sometimes a very limited budget, it was a rare occurrence that I served any entree that involved individual servings of meat. A pound of hamburger could be used in a dozen different dishes, a pound of stew meat could be used to create not only stew, but cooked and tossed in a rich, homemade brown gravy and served over mashed potatoes or rice, or added to vegetables for a quick stir-fry meal.  Same thing with chicken breasts. So, it should come as no surprise, that Dinner Loaf is a feed-your-family inexpensively, one-dish meal.

Nearly of my children loved it, a couple liked it, and one sometimes ate it even though he didn’t particularly like it because my mantra was always, you can eat what I made for dinner, you can go hungry, or you can make yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I didn’t cater to individual likes and dislikes much, although, if half of them disliked a dish, I would make a second one and serve both so they had a choice, sometimes, if I was feeling ambitious.

There were times I gave them a bowl of cereal for supper, and as they got older, at least one night a week became a yoyo night, meaning You’re On Your Own – forage for your dinner in the fridge and cupboards.  I have to admit that these days rather than cooking a complete meal for myself, you may find me standing over the sink (it saves on washing dishes) eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; how times have changed. (But I do enjoy PB&J every now and then.) Anyway, dinner loaf, a versatile recipe, that’s easy to make and feeds a crew.


Dinner Loaf

1 loaf French bread (the top sliced open and bread scooped out – set aside)

1 can cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup

½ to 1 lb of ground beef, browned and seasoned with salt and pepper

1 to 1 1/2 c. shredded cheese (set aside)

Remove excess grease from ground beef. Mix soup into cooked ground beef, add crumbled bread from inside of loaf.


Saute then add to meat/soup mixture any or all of the following:

Mushrooms, sliced

Several stalks of celery, finely chopped

Medium onion, diced

Garlic clove, minced

Green and/or red peppers, diced

Olives, Chopped

Broccoli Heads, Chopped

Cauliflower, chopped

Spread ground beef/soup/vegetable filling into hollowed out loaf. Shred cheese over the top, replace bread “top” then wrap in foil and heat in 350* oven until cheese is melted and filling is hot.  Serve hot with a side of fruit.


Hot Fudge Pudding Cake


This is a quick dessert I used to make on Sunday evenings for my kids.  They loved the chocolate-gooey yumminess, and I liked how  simple and easy this dessert is to make.  Perhaps I will make it this evening when my grandchildren come over.  There’s nothing like introducing a new generation to a family favorite.

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

1/4 c. flour

1/2 c. sugar

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1  1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 c. milk

1/4 c. butter

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 egg


Fudge Sauce

3/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. cocoa

3/4 water

1/4 c. milk


Mix the cake ingredients in a microwave safe bowl, set aside. Dissolve sugar and cocoa in hot water, then add the milk. Pour over cake batter. Cook in microwave uncovered 5 – 6 minutes.  Cool twenty minutes before serving.  Pudding Cake will be gooey. Serve in a bowl with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.