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!


Soup’s On: Rustic Mushroom Barley Soup

I’ve got an easy recipe today that yields a healthy, hearty stew/soup–
Rustic Mushroom Barley Soup.  

Doing inventory of grains currently living in my kitchen cabinet, I came across a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Hull-less Barley and was eager to use it up…barley seems like such a Winter grain to me, perfect for soup and ingredients I had on hand.  Hull-less Barley is the whole grain, including the bran layer (which is typically removed in the processing of pearled barley).  It has a chewy texture and is a great source of protein and fiber.

Source: Bob's Red Mill

Rustic Mushroom Barley Soup

Prep & Cooking time:  2 hours
Serves:  Lots…you’ll get at least a few lunches and/or dinners out of this recipe

The ingredients list is short but the cooking time is a bit long…once the soup is cooking, it’s a good time to take an hour and read a book, do a yoga DVD, or catch up on your favorite blogs!

Prepped veggies

*5-6 stalks of celery, chopped
*1 lb carrots, peeled & chopped
*2 lbs mushrooms, sliced
*1 small onion, sliced
* 1 clove garlic
*1 Tblsp apple cider vinegar
*Seasoning of your choice to taste (I used a sample packet of Bragg 24 Herbs & Spices Seasoning and some Italian seasoning)
*Garlic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
*32 oz. of vegetable broth/stock + water as needed
*1 and 1/4 cup barley
* 1 can of cannellini beans  (rinsed and drained)


1.  Chop all of your veggies.
2.  Spray a soup pot with non-stick spray (or use olive oil – I went the spray route to avoid added fat)
3.  Saute the garlic, carrots, onion, and celery until tender.
4.  Add the seasoning, salt and pepper, mushrooms, and apple cider vinegar and cook for a few minutes.
5.  Add  the broth and barley and bring to a boil.
6.  Reduce heat  and simmer for 1 hour or until the barley is done to the desired tenderness.  Add water or additional broth as needed…the barley soaks up the liquid as it cooks.
7.  Add the beans and allow to heat through.
8.  Enjoy!

Soup's On!

A few options –  you could add white wine during cooking for an extra zing, and to save time, cook the barley ahead of time.  That will reduce the overall cooking time and you’ll just have to saute the veggies, add the broth, barley, beans and heat through (this would reduce the need for added liquid during cooking).  


This soup got the thumb’s up from my Quality Assurance Guy – I was relieved because otherwise I’d be eating this pot of soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all week!  Please let me know if you try the recipe!

Question:  What is in your kitchen cabinet right now that you’re trying to use up?