Mom on the Run for Feb. 23, 2012

Advocate staff photo by BETH COLVINTake advantage of convenience when making Pizza on the Run. Start with a store-bought, whole-wheat, prebaked pizza crust and add whatever toppings appeal to you and your family. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BETH COLVINTake advantage of convenience when making Pizza on the Run. Start with a store-bought, whole-wheat, prebaked pizza crust and add whatever toppings appeal to you and your family.

What a gift: Pre-baked pizza crust

It’s 6 p.m. and in my house are one husband, one toddler, two collie-ish mutts and a cat. And they’re all hungry and want food.

Now. Right now. Ten minutes ago, if I could swing it.

The dogs and cat are easy — kibble for all. The humans are trickier. Ideally, gnomes would have arrived and presented a hot, filling and healthy dinner just as I walked in the door. Barring that, it’s up to me, or we’d have hot dogs and chips with cheese, Cheerios and bananas. Or whatever culinary creation John and Ainsley threw together. I shouldn’t jest; John really is a good cook. It’s Hungry John, the one that throws together dishes that look like an episode of “Chopped” gone horribly wrong, that we have to worry about.

In an attempt to preserve my sanity, I keep on hand at all times ingredients for one of several quick meals. There’s Breakfast-for-Supper or eggs, usually in the form of a frittata with cheese and leftover veggies, and whatever breakfast item is in the freezer, like pancakes or biscuits. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are another handy thing to have around; a quick defrost and a few minutes in the pan with herbs and butter and your main dish is done.

My last idea, soup, seems to have worn out its welcome. I thought it was brilliant. Thaw out some of the broth I keep in the freezer, add leftover veggies and rotisserie chicken and there’s dinner. Hot, filling and healthy.

Maybe I prepared it one too many times. Maybe John burnt his finger on a bowl. Maybe a one-bowl meal just doesn’t sit well. No matter what it was, it was ... respectfully requested ... that soup take a menu hiatus. Which left me with the baleful stares of a hungry family and the threat of a new hot dog-Cheerio-banana creation on the night I would have made soup. Not to mention all the leftover veggies I would have used.

The solution came on a platter of whole-wheat dough. Pre-baked pizza crusts are a gift to busy households everywhere.

On this night, my crust was topped with leftover slices of eggplant sauté ed in olive oil; a can of diced tomatoes, well drained; thin slices of zucchini and black olives, all topped with the remnants of a bag of shredded mozzarella.

The beauty of this recipe, like the one for soup, is that it can be whatever you make it. You can put pepperoni, chicken or Italian sausage, or you can make it fancy with proscuitto and fresh figs.

There might even be room for hot dogs, Cheerios and bananas.