Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pizza Party

I have become a huge fan of happy hour over the past few years. You go out right after work, the drinks are usually cheap, maybe you eat a cheap snack, and you're home in time for dinner. It works out to be ideal both time-wise and economy-wise.

The thing is, though, when you go out for happy hour a lot, it still adds up. And Dr. Scott, Rob, Caitlin, and I were going out to happy hour A LOT. (Plus, we were getting oh-so-slightly sick of going the same places all the time.) So we came up with a solution: move happy hour to our houses and rotate every week. We started out at Scott's, and this past week moved to my house.

 Caitlin and I drinking Laphraoig at Scott's

As hostess, I felt compelled to provide food for my guests. I wanted to keep it fairly simple and casual, but filling. I also wanted to make something that Noe would want to eat when he joined us after his basketball game. I went with homemade pizzas - fairly cheap, pretty easy, and I could offer a variety of toppings.

I cheated a bit - I bought two Boboli crusts and a bag of dough from the refrigerator section of the supermarket. The day before our gathering, I took inventory and built my pizzas around things I already had. I decided to do three pizzas: a pesto/artichoke; a fig/bacon; and a classic Margherita.

For the artichoke pizza, I mashed a few cloves of roasted garlic (purchased from the olive bar at Stop & Shop - didn't have time to roast my own) and spread them on the crust. I then spread a couple tablespoons of pesto (found in my freezer; God only knows how old it was) over top of the garlic. I topped that with some chopped artichoke hearts (I had a can in the cupboard from making spinach-artichoke dip) and some grated cheeses: mozz, provolone, and parmesan.

 Garlic, pesto, artichoke, and three cheese pizza

For pizza number 2, I did purchase a jar of fig preserves. I spread them over the crust like I would sauce, then topped it with chopped bacon and thinly sliced red onion. I topped it off with crumbled bleu cheese (leftover from a bistro steak I made over the weekend).

 Fig preserves, bacon, red onion, and bleu cheese

The third pizza was the classic Italian combo of tomato, basil, and mozzarella. I spread the crust with crushed tomatoes (chunkier than plain tomato sauce). I sprinkled it with some dried oregano and basil from my spice cupboard, topped it with some slices of fresh mozz,and baked it. After I took it out of the oven, I tore up some fresh basil leaves and sprinkled them over the top.


All three pizzas turned out pretty tasty. Scott voted the artichoke the winner. I was a big fan of the bacon/fig/bleu combo. Rob liked the Margherita, but that was mostly because of the chewier crust. We decided to let Noe pick the winner - he went with the fig (probably because he has a bit of a sweet tooth).

(This was a very cheap meal for me to provide, because I happen to be the type of person that has things like imported tomatoes, cans of artichokes, and frozen containers of pesto on hand. But anyone can make a pizza with a pre-made crust, and you don't have to pick expensive or "fancy" toppings. And most of the things I used were not very expensive to begin with. You could buy everything to make any one of these pizzas for less than ten dollars.)

Scott brought a couple bottles of Scotch, one of which we had made a dent in last week. I am really starting to love the smokey, complex taste of Scotch. Scotch is very expensive when ordered in a bar, so
buying it by the bottle has definitely saved us some money (I'll be writing a Scotch post in the near future).

 Scotch and Rob - NOT a match made in heaven,
but what a great photo!

So far, home happy hour has been a huge success (although it does make me want one of those sixties Mad Men-style bar carts with wheels). We've eaten better, consumed higher quality booze, and even saved a little bit of money. Rob's up next - we'll see if he can take up the mantle and continue the tradition.


Alison said...

Now that Brad and I have no time to cook time-consuming dinners anymore, we make homemade pizzas at least twice a week using whatever fresh/canned ingredients we have on hand. Pizza dough is so cheap - even cheaper than Boboli. To make a crispier crust, I bake the crust for 3-4 minutes first before adding the toppings, and then put it back in the oven.

Amy W. said...

I always liked the Trader Joe's pizza dough - have you ever bought that, Alison? They used to have an herb-flavored one that was really delicious!

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Niki Colon said...

In-home happy hour? What a great idea! That's up there with the clothing swaps that are all the rage with the "recession-ista's." Horrible term? Definitely. But it also illustrates the point.

The pizzas look scrumptious, too!

Becky said...

This almost makes me wish I liked pizza.