Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pizza Cups, a Lunchbox Revelation

Pizza cups are an answer to prayer for our lunchboxes. They are easier to eat and stay nicer than sandwiches.  They can be stashed in the freezer for a panic-free lunch-packing session.  The children love them unequivocally.  I can make them with whole foods.  We love everything about them!

I found the concept online somewhere (Pinterest, maybe?), but I made it my own.  I'm giving you the blueprint, and then you can plug in your biscuit recipe.  I'll give you the pizza sauce recipe, too, since it's a good one and so easy.

How to make pizza cups:

1.  Make a batch of biscuit dough.  I make whole wheat Basic Biscuits from More with Less.
2.   Divide the biscuit dough into 12 cups in a regular-sized muffin tin (for reference, my biscuit recipe uses 2 cups of flour and I got 11 pizza cups total). 
3.  Press the dough into little crusts, like little bowls inside each muffin cup.  Children love to do this. 
4.  Put 1-2 Tbsp. pizza sauce in each one.  Top with 1-2 Tbsp. grated cheese and any other pizza toppings you love.  (Here I discovered that we were out of mushrooms, so I used green olives.) 
5.  Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes.  Serve warm, or allow to cool and then freeze.

Pizza Sauce (tweaked from Simply in Season)
The awesome awesome awesome thing about this recipe is that you do not have to peel the tomatoes.  Just remove their little brown stem spot at the top and whiz-wheeeee in the food processor!  I don't know exactly why, but there won't be any hard little shreds of skin when the sauce is done; my theory is that the long cooking softens them completely.  The sauce is robust and fresh-tasting and fabulous.  I triple this recipe and can or freeze a batch or two at the end of summer.

Puree in blender or food processor until as smooth as possible:
2 lbs. very ripe tomatoes, cut in rough chunks
1 small onion, chopped roughly
1 chili pepper or a sprinkling of red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic

Pour puree into saucepan.  Add:
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1-2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
Italian herbs to taste (I like it rather herby and I use dried herbs:  heavy on basil and oregano, with some thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and a pinch of fennel)

Bring to a simmer and then keep it at a simmer, uncovered, over low heat for at least 1 hour, preferably 2.  You want the sauce to reduce and thicken.  Check the flavors.  I usually add a few more pinches of herbs and sometimes I simmer it almost 3 hours.  Your house will smell delicious.

Linking up with Eat Make Grow!


Hazel said...

Perfect! I try to always have something in the freezer I can get out for packed lunches at short notice. These are great, thanks.

jenny_o said...

Oh, these look so good! Thank you for the recipes.

Thrifty Mom In Boise said...

Love this idea! I'm going to give it a try. I am always looking for ways to keep my girls lunches interesting. Thanks so much.

BLD in MT said...

Brilliant! I am making some of these for my own lunchbox!

Susan said...

So, do you thaw them the night before, so that they're room temperature by the time the kids have lunch at school? They apparently find them yummy, even when they're not heated up? This sounds like a great idea, just trying to picture how it plays out in practice!

Margo said...

Susan, I put the pizza cups frozen in the lunches in the morning. They're room temp by lunchtime. My son's classroom has a microwave, but so far both kids are happy to eat them room temperature.

Sarah Barry said...

this is such a nifty recipe!

Anonymous said...

Thought you might like this recipe.

Margo said...

TessaDiane, thank you! Duly pinned.

Christian - Modobject@Home said...

Great idea! I've been experimenting with various lunchbox appropriate, pizza'ish recipes. So far, what we call "pizza rolls" have been the biggest hits... homemade pizza crust dough wrapped around mozzarella and other various pizza toppings then baked into rolls. I freeze them and plop them into lunch bags as needed.