My family loves homemade pizza. It makes dinnertime seem like a party! So when it came to sending my favorite meal to Taste of Home, I didn't deliberate very long.
In summertime—or anytime—a menu that has Homemade Pizza Supreme, Cream of Broccoli Soup, Parmesan Breadsticks and Buttermilk Cocoa Cake rates "high fives" from my husband, Russell, our children and their friends.
I found the pizza recipe in a community cookbook from the 1980s. The hearty pizza has a great crust and colorful toppings. The recipe makes two pizzas, which is wonderful when our four children are all home. Older son Paul and youngest daughter Janalyn live with us. Carli is finishing up her master's degree at Brigham Young University in Provo (my alma mater). Jeff and his wife, Karen, live nearby.
Soup Is a Standby
Cream of Broccoli Soup is super-easy to make and yet it tastes like you've worked for hours. I always make sure I have the ingredients on hand just in case I want to whip some up quickly.
I first tasted Parmesan Breadsticks when my neighbor Susan H. brought them to a church social. I time it so the breadsticks are the last thing out of the oven just before we sit down to eat.
The old cookbook where I found the pizza recipe also yielded another treasure—Buttermilk Cocoa Cake. Actually, its title in the book is "Betty Brundage's Buttermilk Brownie Cake."
We've had fun with the name over the years, saying it with exaggerated emphasis on all those Bs! People who've tasted it remember "that marvelous cake we had…you know, the B-B-B one." We have no idea who Betty Brundage is but are extremely grateful to her!
I love to bake, as you can tell from my menu. I can trace my baking experience back to my childhood, when I was in charge of making dozens of cookies for our family Christmas Eve party. I would start weeks ahead baking and freezing each batch.
Over the years, I've come up with some shortcuts and no-fail techniques I'd love to share with you:
- I have four big baking sheets and use all four for making cookies: one baking in the oven; one ready to bake; one I'm filling up; and one with cookies cooling. I get done in no time!
- When I try a new recipe, I write notes on it about what I changed, what I added; how many minutes it took in my oven; what I did or didn't like; how long it took to make, from start to finish; which pan worked the best, etc.
- I also make a note of who really liked a recipe and on a birthday or special occasion, I surprise that person with one of his favorites!
- Not everyone likes nuts (and some people are allergic to them). If I have many guests, I make my baked without nuts, but provide a small bowl of chopped nuts on the table with a spoon for sprinkling on top.
- Instead of making traditional frosting, I sometimes melt a few squares of baking semisweet and then spread it on cooled brownies.
- Sometimes, when I want a special brownie treat, I put half the batter in the pan and then add a layer of Symphony Bars with toffee pieces (or chocolate mints, peanut butter cups or chocolate-covered peanuts). Then I cover with the remaining batter and bake as usual. Scrumptious!
- I always use real butter and real vanilla. I buy butter when it is on sale and freeze it.
- I watch for recipes that contain buttermilk. It makes baked goods moister and more delicious.
- I often put a cake recipe for a 9- by 13-inch pan into a 10- by 15-inch pan. It bakes in about 15 minutes and goes farther, and there's as much frosting as cake (especially if you make 1-1/2 times the frosting!).
- I slightly under-bake my cookies so they won't be hard when they cool. I always set my timer earlier than the recipe suggests.
Russell and I have been married over 32 years and live in Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. Just outside my front door, I see the beautiful Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. Originally from Los Angeles, I love this view and still glory in real live snow and the four seasons.
During the "wedding season," I play Here Comes the Bride at weddings and background music at receptions. I also compose and arrange choral and piano music that's published nationally.
For me, every season is cooking season and I hope you'll enjoy my favorite menu. Let's see if we nickname it "Gaylene's Great Grub," maybe your family will start asking for "that pizza meal…you know, the G-G-G one!"
Add your own pizzazz to my recipe for Homemade Pizza Supreme:
- Change the toppings to fit your family's preferences. Try Italian sausage in combination with another meat or on its own. Vary the veggies to your taste.
- Let each family member or guest bake his own individual pizza. Just grease ovenproof dinner plates, divide up the pizza dough and let each person pat out the dough to cover the plate. Have the sauce and a choice of toppings available.
- If you're in a hurry and don't want to roll out the dough, press it out on cookie sheets, add sauce and toppings and bake as directed. It's yummy either way!