Pizza, Pizza

Temperatures in the 100s means I have not been cooking indoors–meals have been on the grill or straight out of the fridge (salads, sandwiches).  I did make an exception and bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies but thought I was going to pass out from how hot the kitchen was – and that’s with air conditioning!

Keeping the not-cooking streak alive, Quality Assurance Guy (QAG) and I went out for pizza during the week and decided to branch out a bit and try a new (to us) place.  I think we found our new favorite pizza restaurant!

Pizza Brutta in Madison is a very un-assuming restaurant from the outside.  It’s in the midst of a block full of stores and store-front restaurants/bars.  We walked in and were amazed–this place was packed on a weeknight.

Place your order

Everyone places their order and then sits down or waits for take-out.  The friendly staff bring you your order and check in with you once or twice during your meal.  People were milling about waiting for tables and booths to open up.

Fun decor in a lively restaurant

Pizza Brutta serves Neaopolitan Pizza–Neapolitan pizza is characterized by wood-fired ovens, dough’s made only with flour, water, sea salt and yeast, tomatoes grown on the volcanic soils of Mt. Visuvio, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh mozzarella. There are three basic Neapolitan Pizzas: the Margherita, (named in 1889 for its first fan Queen Margherita of Savoy), the Marinara which is simply garnished with tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil, and the Bianca which is garlic, olive oil and fresh Rosemary. (Source)

The restaurant uses fresh ingredients, buys locally, and promotes sustainability in their practices and ingredients.

On to the pizza!  If you can’t find something you like on the Pizza Brutta menu, it’s your own fault!  You have your choice of Pizza Rosso (red sauce) or Pizza Bianco (olive oil and sea salt base).  I ordered the Marinara (crushed tomato, basil, oregano, garlic – no cheese) – delicious!  I did ask for extra basil to add post-oven – the pizza only came with those few little leaves in the center.

Pizza Marinara

QAG went with the Salami E Funghi (Crushed tomato, oregano, salami, kalamata olives, cremini mushrooms, fresh mozzarella)

Meat, olives, veggies

We will definitely be back to Pizza Brutta!  If you live in the Madison area or are in town for dinner, enjoy a hot, fresh, delicious pizza at Pizza Brutta!


Lickety-Split Lasagna

Last week I was in New York City for a couple of days.  I’m old-school in that if I’m heading out of town and my Quality Assurance Guy is staying in town, I like to make sure there are a couple of meals in the refrigerator or freezer.  I know he’s capable of finding his way through the grocery store and kitchen, but I still like to cook for him!

Making this pan of lasagna coincided with a refrigerator/freezer issue.  I needed to clear items out–stat–before they went bad.

I did a quick scan of cabinets, freezer, refrigerator and knew I could whip up a lasagna.  In fact, a Lickety-Split Lasagna.  This was such a quick dish to put together.

I used the Barilla No-Boil Lasagna Noodles which ensured I could skip the worst step of making lasagna.  Have you ever made it with the noodles that you have to pre-boil?  I have and I usually end up burning my finger tips trying to handle hot noodles!

Lickety-Split Lasagna

8-10 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 16oz. container cottage cheese
6-8 oz. cooked Italian sausage (I used Johnsonville Mild Ground Italian Sausage)
1 can of tomato sauce (26-30 oz.)
Mozzarella Cheese
Garlic Salt
Italian Seasoning

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Spray a casserole dish (approx. 9×13) with cooking spray and set aside.
*Cook sausage and drain on a plate lined with paper towel.
*Spread sauce on the bottom of casserole dish.
*Place 1 layer of noodles on sauce, cover with cottage cheese, sausage, sprinkle with S&P, seasoning, and cover with sauce.
*Repeat noodles, cottage cheese, etc. until you’ve used up all of your meat, noodles, and sauce.
*Top the lasagna with mozzarella cheese – shredded or thin slices.
*Cover and bake in oven for 30 minutes.
*Remove cover, turn on broiler, and broil to get a crisp top and to allow for cheese to brown.
*Remove from oven and let sit at least 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Enjoy!  This keeps in the fridge for a week.

I’m happy to report that QAG thought this was one of the best lasagnas I’ve made…he even said he ate some for breakfast one morning.  I’ll take that as a compliment.

Maybe the secret ingredient was the “help” that my kitchen companion provided during the cooking process.

Kitchen Helper

Please don’t call the Health Department.

What’s a favorite quick dish that you like to make?