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Not Your Mamas English Muffin Pizza

Remember eating English muffin pizzas as a kid? I do. My mom used to make them for us all the time. She’d take a few muffins, slather on some marinara sauce (homemade, of course) and top it with whatever kind of cheese she happened to have in the fridge.  Then, she’d pop them in the toaster oven until they were hot and bubbly. The sauce would puddle up and settle into those nooks and crannies under a gooey blanket of melted cheese. We loved them!

Later on, when I was in college, English muffin pizza became one of the mainstays of my diet – and my social life. With a hotpot and toaster oven being the only appliances allowed in my dorm room, my culinary options were limited to canned soup, ramen noodles and whatever I could find to toast. Preparing anything beyond that required both resourcefulness and creativity. I spent many a late night study break whipping up English muffin pizzas for my dorm mates and me with sauce from a jar and regular old Kraft singles. It was far from gourmet, but every bite was filled with the taste of sweet independence.

When Mini SGCC was little, I carried on the English muffin pizza tradition. By that time, I had a well equipped kitchen, a fully stocked fridge and a lot more choices. I began to experiment a little with different sauces and toppings, and tried to sneak a few healthy bits of fruits and vegetables into my pizzas.

Last May, I met some of the folks from Bays English Muffins [1] at BlogHer Food [2] in Atlanta.  After the conference, they were nice enough to send me some free samples to try out.   When the package came in the mail, the first thing I thought of was pizza.  English muffin pizza to be precise!  So, I put on my pizza-making thinking cap and came up with a few ideas to take them to the next level.  These are not your mama’s English muffin pizzas, people!

This one is topped with a zesty basil pesto sauce, slices of fresh Roma tomatoes and grated Parmesan cheese.  I had some homemade pesto in the freezer, but store bought pesto would work fine here.

For this pizza, I cooked diced red onion and zucchini in olive oil until soft.  For the “sauce” I used Boursin cheese, a spreadable garlic and herb cheese.  Topped with a little shredded mozzarella, it was out of this world!

I think that this one was my favorite of all.  I spread a layer of cream cheese on the toasted muffin, and spooned on a mixture of diced fresh pineapple, pepperoni and red onion sautéed in butter.  Then, I sprinkled some shredded Swiss cheese on top.  When I sank my teeth into it, I got sweet, salty, crunchy and creamy all at the same time. Divine!

The topping possibilities for these pizzas are literally endless!  Pretty much anything that you have in your fridge can be turned into a mini pizza masterpiece.  It’s a great way to use up leftovers too.

Making English muffin pizzas is one of the easiest things in the world to do.  It’s almost impossible to ruin them.  But, there are a few tricks you can use to make them even better.  First of all, you should always lightly toast the muffins before you add on any toppings.  By doing this, you’ll prevent “soggy bottoms” and keep your pizzas nice and crispy.  Second, if you’re using fresh tomatoes, set them on a plate lined with a paper towel for ten minutes or so before putting them on the pizzas.  This will help to “dry” them up a bit so that they hold their shape when baked.  Finally, if you are using fresh vegetables to top your pizzas, take a few extra minutes and sauté them on the stove to get tender.   The pizzas only bake for about ten minutes, and I found that the veggies were still kind of raw.

English muffin pizzas are fast, easy and super delicious.  Plus, they’re a lot of fun!  They make a great lunch for the kids, a quick weeknight dinner and a perfect, self contained nosh at cocktail parties.  So, channel your inner child and make some now!

Thank you to Bays for providing the English muffins used in making these recipes.  As always, however, the opinions presented are mine – all mine!