Home Cooking: Breakfast Pizza

“Learn to trust your hands.”

This was the sage advice offered to me by my friend Rawiya as we talked about preparing meals. I was a few months into Pinterest aided cooking and my indecisiveness made a 30-minute meal take an hour. I would check the recipe multiple times in between taking a step. It wasn’t that I couldn’t remember what was next. It was that I didn’t trust myself to not mess it up.

Why was messing up such a big deal? I mean 9/10 a kitchen calamity still results in something edible, right? That tasteless chicken I made my first go round was salvaged with some barbecue sauce. Despite that, there were still echoes of cookies where the measurement of baking powder was off just enough that the entire batch tasted like batteries.

Beyond mistakes, there was also the want to make a recipe my own. To use it as a guideline and not a fixed set of directions. To know when to alter something, when to add something, when something that was listed wasn’t necessary. I wanted certainty but what I didn’t realize was that with so many variables it wasn’t about exacts. It was about a kind of faith that wasn’t decided but instead was earned.

As the advice finally sunk in, my wife Lin helped bring it home by suggesting I just throw things in and see what happens. When I watched the success and failures, I began to learn and no longer religiously followed recipes. They then turned into find your own adventures where I hoped to find a delicious meal at the end.

I no longer avoided recipes that included ingredients that I didn’t have. That is how I came to making the breakfast pizza. The recipe I found on Pinterest called for bacon to be included, but we never have bacon (why? It’s expensive and I almost always end up wasting at least half of the package). It also needed six eggs (I only had five). So what did I do? I improvised. I took two sweet Italian sausages, the eggs, tater tots, cheese, butter, and my trusty cast iron skillet and went to work.

Like many recipes I take on it’s never about a difficulty score but the resulting taste, and boy did this one deliver. The breakfast pizza is perfect for any time of day. Instead of eating last night’s pizza leftovers, take a few minutes to make this.

If you know how to do the following: cook sausage, place tater tots in a cast iron skillet, scramble eggs, and throw cheese on top then you can make this recipe. While I made this recipe without bacon, you can include it or try anything else. Remember the recipe is merely a guideline that you can work off of. The key is to trust your hands and feel free to experiment. You might be pleasantly surprised with what you end up with.

Ingredients

  • 32 oz bag of tater tots
  • 6 eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Two cups of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Two sweet Italian sausages
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Cook Italian sausage. When finished cut into smaller pieces and put off to side.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Grease cast iron skillet with olive oil.
  4. Place tater tots along bottom and sides of cast iron skillet so that the entire surface of the pan is covered.
  5. Place skillet with tater tots in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Scramble together eggs in a large bowl with salt and pepper.
  7. Grease pan with butter and cook eggs until they set.
  8. Take skillet out of the oven and press tater tots down until they are as flat as possible.
  9. Spread one cup of cheese over flattened tater tots.
  10. Add scrambled eggs, and cut up pieces of sausage on top of the layer of cheese.
  11. Use the second cup of cheese to top off the pizza. Make sure cheese gets to tater tots on the side to hold everything together.
  12. Place skillet back into the oven for 10 more minutes.

Notes

Home Cooking: Churro Cheesecake

I love to cook.

It’s not a secret, but not many people know that about me. Until three years ago, my sustenance relied on the cooking of others and take out . It was expensive, but it was easy, immediate, and it was all I was willing to know. So what changed?

Lin came home and uttered a simple phrase “I’m cooking the baby, you cook the food.” Prior to that moment, my list of culinary victories looked like this:

  • Hamburger
  • Sloppy Joe
  • Hot Dogs
  • Eggs
  • Pancakes
  • French Toast
  • Tacos

It was official, we were all going to die and it was going to be my fault. Irrational? Yes, but you have to understand that I had a grave fear of cooking because I didn’t know where to start. Now I was cooking for myself, my then soon to be wife, and the child that was “cooking” in her stomach. Next she gave me Pinterest, and then sent me on my way.

One of the things I learned by using Pinterest was that many of the recipes pinned were the creations of stay at home moms from Middle America. The problem? To lend credence to an old cliche: “they don’t season their food!” Following a recipe exactly resulted in flavorless chicken.

Over time, I learned to trust my hands as I experimented with different foods and began to learn which seasonings I liked (including an overwhelming reliance on lemon pepper). Three years in and I have, begrudgingly, earned the nickname “Chef Boyar-T” from Lin. While there is a pleasure in cooking to feed us, making something sweet is different. If cooking dinner is the 9 to 5 struggle making dessert is happy hour at the end of a hard week.

I’ve baked quite a few different things, but I always come back to the Churro Cheesecake. Why? It only has a few ingredients, the instructions are straight forward, and the taste. The taste isn’t quite something to die for but it is damned good. Due to the size of the dish used there will be a good amount of leftovers (as long as you don’t gorge yourself).

If you have sweet tooth, and a little bit of patience this is the perfect recipe. If you make it you might feel so confident that you’d bring it to a potluck as proof that you can slay a thing or two in the kitchen. But if you don’t have those aspirations make it for yourself. You will not regret it.

Ingredients

  • Two cans of Crescent Rolls (I prefer Pillsbury, but any kind can work)
  • Two 8 oz packages of Cream Cheese, softened.
  • One egg.
  • One cup sugar, divided.
  • Two tbsps ground cinnamon.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat together softened cream cheese, egg, and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. (If you have a hand mixer you might prefer to use that, but a spoon works just as well)
  3. Mix remaining sugar (1/2 cup) with cinnamon in a separate bowl.
  4. Grease 9 x 13 baking dish with either cooking spray, butter or whatever you have.
  5. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mix in the baking dish.
  6. Open one container of crescent rolls and lay the dough on top of cinnamon sugar in baking dish. Seal dough so that there are no creases.
  7. Spread cheesecake mixture evenly on top of dough.
  8. Unroll second container of crescent rolls and place on top of cheesecake mixture. Make sure that all seams are sealed so that there are no creases.
  9. Sprinkle rest of cinnamon sugar mix on top.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

Notes

  • Recipe adapted from the Recipe Critic
  • The original recipe included 1 tsp of vanilla, and it was included in step 2. I never had to use it and the recipe has come out fine every time.