Have fun crafting handmade pizza, enjoy a "Seize Her Salad" and try crisp nachos Alfredo this Halloween season.
For those experiencing a last-minute Halloween frenzy of costuming, applying makeup and hairstyling, you might opt for frozen bread dough or pizza crusts. Although this is an Italian recipe, pizza purists might enjoy this simple-to-make French bread pizza crust dough.
Classic French Bread
2 cups very warm, almost hot water
2 tablespoons dry active yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1½-2 cups whole wheat flour
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Pour the hot water into a mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast and sugar and allow to react until foam covers the surface of the liquid, about 10 minutes. Add the salt and 2 cups of flour, stir until smooth. Add 2 more cups of flour and beat until smooth, then add last portion of flour and stir until a smooth elastic dough is formed.
Divide the dough into desired number of portions. Shape and flatten on a floured surface with a rolling pin. Transfer to a lightly oiled 10-inch-by-15-inch baking pan. Spoon on marinara sauce and top with your favorite pizza toppings, experimenting with colors and textures. Suggestions include grated Parmesan cheese, grated mozzarella cheese, sliced pepperoni, olives, bell peppers, ham, pineapple, onions or cooked shrimp.
Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes until the crust is golden and cheese melted. Time will vary depending on the size of the pizzas.
Seize Her Salad
Here's a quick and easy version of the classic. If you are ambitious, consider making bread trenchers or plates to serve the salad on by using the French bread recipe above and cutting out croutons using fairy tale cookie cutters.
1 bag chopped romaine lettuce
1 generous handful Caesar-flavored croutons, if not making your own
Light Caesar dressing (I like Ken's Steak House Lite)
Grated Parmesan cheese
Toss together the lettuce, croutons, dressing and cheese.
Fairy Tale Croutons
Use fairy tale shaped cookie cutters to make shaped croutons from sliced sourdough bread. Cut out shapes and place on a baking sheet and drizzle with a mixture that is half melted butter and half oil. Toast at 350 degrees until slightly golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
Nachos Alfredo Bar
A bed of wonton crisps is the base for this Italian variation of nachos where guests choose their favorite toppings
2 packages of wonton wrappers (available in the produce section of most grocery stores)
Cut wonton wrappers in half. Drop 6-7 at a time into a skillet containing about 1 inch of hot oil. Fry until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels and salt lightly. Serve with Alfredo sauce and other toppings.
32 ounces heavy cream
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
Combine cream and nutmeg in large shallow skillet. Cook over medium heat until volume is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add Parmesan cheese and stir until melted.
2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded four-cheese Italian blend
1 cup pepperocinis, sliced and drained
4 chicken breast halves, grilled and sliced
1 cup green onions, sliced
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1 cup black olives, drained and sliced
To assemble nachos, place a bed of wonton crisps on a plate and then sprinkle with grated cheese, the Alfredo sauce and other desired toppings.
Pam McMurtry is an artist and writer with a bachelor's degree in art teaching/drawing and painting. She is the author of "A Harvest and Halloween Handbook."