It's on

It's on. Christmas is officially back on and my in-laws are due to fly in this Wednesday. Seeing as we've overcome several hurdles to get to this point, I'm approaching the cooking that this holiday requires with a calmness that is very unlike me. The week of cooking seemed to get kick started yesterday as I was preparing some pizzettes (mini-pizzas) for our neighborly holiday party.

I am hoping that the near disaster that occurred two minutes before we were due to head upstairs to the party is not a sign of things to come. As I went to fetch the innocent looking baking sheet from the very hot oven, I blinked and one entire tray of mini pizzas were upended on the oven door. With my face melting, I carefully salvaged all but one offensive pizza who's toppings were smeared across the oven's glass window. Mental note: add oven cleaner to the holiday shopping list.

Tis the season for get-togethers and festive gatherings of family, friends and co-workers. I am constantly in search for nibbles that will taste great with a cocktail or glass of wine. We decided to do a cocktail party for Christmas Eve at my sister's place and I'll be taking Ina Garten's roasted shrimp cocktail, some roast beef and arugula crostini and home-made chicken meatballs with peperonata.

These pizzettes, from Italian beauty Giada De Laurentiis, are perfect two-bite cocktail accompaniments. They use ready-made pizza dough that you can find pretty much anywhere these days. The last thing you want to be making from scratch at this time of year is pizza dough. Here's a helpful tip though: Make sure when you're rolling out the dough to use enough flour on both sides so that it doesn't stick to your counter-top and so the circles hold their shape.

I made three different toppings, but you can try a multitude of combinations depending on your tastes. Giada's toppings included caramelized onions, goat cheese and prosciutto and another with gorgonzola, cherry tomatoes and basil. I added a third topping combo with fresh ricotta, rosemary, red grapes and local honey from Heritage Prairie Market.

For the three recipes below, I actually bought 2 balls of store-bought pizza dough and got about 40 circles out of them and split them between the three different toppings.

Pizzettes with Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto
Adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis

1 ball of store-bought pizza dough (12-16 oz)
3 large onions, sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp each of kosher salt, ground black pepper, herbs de Provence and sugar
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
5 slices of prosciutto cut into 2x2 inch pieces
handful of parsley, chopped for garnish
2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter (or you can use a glass about the same size and a sharp knife)

Start your onions first. These will take about an hour, so I started mine in the morning. In a heavy skillet, add the oil over low heat and combine the onions, salt, pepper, herbs de Provence and sugar. Stir together and cook over a very low heat for about an hour. Stir them occasionally until they become caramelized and are a dark, gooey golden brown.

Preheat the oven to 475F. Roll out your dough on a well floured surface until it is a 1/4 inch thick round. Using your cookie cutter or the top end of a glass, cut out the circles and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Top each dough circle with a spoonful of your caramelized onions and then some of the crumbled goat cheese. Don't add the prosciutto until after they come out of the oven.

Bake for about 10 minutes until the golden and bubbly. Top with the prosciutto pieces and place them on a serving tray. Chop the parsley and scatter over the entire platter and serve immediately.

Pizzettes with Gorgonzola, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil
Adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis

1 ball of store-bought pizza dough
1/2 cup gorgonzola, crumbled
3 oz cherry tomatoes, quartered
handful of basil leaves, torn into pieces
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Follow the instructions above for the pizza dough and top each round with a spoonful of crumbled gorgonzola. On top of the gorgonzola, place 2-3 tomato quarters.

Bake at 475F for 10 minutes until golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven and place on a serving platter. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle the basil leaves over the entire platter.

Serve immediately.

Pizzettes with Ricotta, Rosemary, Red Grapes and Local Honey

1 ball of store-bought pizza dough
15 oz tub of ricotta cheese
2 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
1 cup of red grapes, sliced in half
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper

Follow the instructions above for the pizza dough and top each round with a spoonful of the ricotta cheese. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the cheese with a pinch of rosemary. Top the cheese with 2-3 red grape slices and bake for 10 minutes at 475F until golden and bubbly.

Drizzle with honey and remove to a serving platter. Sprinkle over a little rosemary to garnish.

Serve immediately.


  1. These look great. I wish we lived near each other! It would be so fun to have dinner parties together!

  2. I wish we did too Becky! It's also been way too long since we've seen you. We'll have to do a cousin get-together some time in 2010!

  3. I would love that! We will feast!

  4. My wife & I are the lucky upstairs neighbors. Not only were the mini pizzettas delicious, the exquisite scent of their preparation earlier that day was off the scale. A veritable evening of loaves & fishes -- each couple supplied their own very special contribution, and a spontaneous holiday gathering transformed into one of the more memorable of the holidays (at least until the 3rd glass of Veuve kicked in -- just as much fun, a lot less remembering!)

  5. These not only looked great but tasted great. I am always in need of good easy appetizers. Aunt Pat