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Quick and easy pizza bake – with substitutions

Impossibly Easy Pizza Bake

The first month of the year brings an easy, family-pleasing dish from Betty Crocker.

For several years now, I’ve had the annual tradition of proudly hanging the Betty Crocker calendar on my wall. I love the lush photography and reading the fun recipes. But I rarely ever make them … just drewl and think about it.

Well, this year is different. I’ve promised myself that I will make all 12 recipes this year and last night I made my version of January’s recipe: Impossibly Easy Pizza Bake.

Here’s what my experience was:

1. The recipe calls for pepperoni, which doesn’t agree with me … so instead I substituted sausage. I browned a package of Farmer John’s mild pork breakfast sausage and used that.

2. The recipe is so easy and only took about 10-15 minutes to prepare, and it only took that long because I used a can of pasta sauce instead of a jar of pizza sauce (extra time to open a can compared to a jar) and I grated my own cheese rather than purchase it already grated (extra time to grate the cheese).

3. It took a little longer to bake than suggested, but that may be my oven. I’ve found that to be a trend.

4. Absolutely delicious — I had three pieces last night for dinner and another for brunch today. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Notes on Bringing Kitchen Creativity to Your Home

Did you notice how I followed the spirit of the recipe but still made it mine? You can do that, too. Here’s my thought process in modifying this recipe.

1. Switched out pepperoni for sausage.
This is a pizza bake, right? What other toppings go on pizza besides pepperoni? I like sausage, so I used that. But you could put any of your favorite toppings instead. I’m thinking of adding broccoli, olives and/or sun-dried tomatoes next time.

2. Switched out a jar of pizza sauce for a can of pasta sauce.
Frankly, I just couldn’t find a jar of pizza sauce when I went out. But you could use any kind of sauce that you like on pizza — it doesn’t even have to be tomato based! A nice pesto sauce would have worked well, too.

3. Grated my own cheese.
Cheese is cheese and it doesn’t matter who grates it — you or the manufacturer. I did use mozzarella, but I could have used any kind of melt-y cheese I wanted, such as jack, cheddar or gouda, for that matter!

When you think of recipes as guidelines and make substitutions in a parallel fashion, you can begin to gain confidence in your ability to apply your creativity in the kitchen.

One more note, I’m lactose intolerant, so I rarely have cow’s milk in my home. So, in this recipe I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk and it turned out fine. Now, there are cases where non-dairy milk won’t work, so be careful with this kind of substitution.

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About the author

Carma Spence has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas. She is the author of Bonkers for Bundt Cakes and Your Perfect Pie, as well as author and contributor to several more non-food-related books. With Carma's Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining.