Pesto Pizza and Wedding Invitations!

I'm done.  Finally.  I've been done for almost 48 hours now, actually, but it doesn't quite feel that way.  Well, that's also not exactly true.  I still have final grades to enter for my class.  But I'm waiting on instructions for that.  Oh well.  Everything else is done.  Phew.  It was a wild ride of a year.  And somehow I'm having a harder time shaking the stress and feeling that there's always math to do than I ever did in undergrad.  It's weird.  I'm just having a hard time convincing myself that it's actually summer.  It's really here.

And I need to catch up now.  NES and I made a fun dinner last night and ate it out on our back porch.  But more on that later.  Now it's back to wedding invitation stuffing night!  Which was . . . last Thursday.  Before I got sent deep into algebra land.

I happened to have a take home exam last week that I had claimed Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday morning and Friday morning to work on.  So, when I finished it and passed it in on Wednesday afternoon, I had some free time on my hands.  I mean, maybe I should have started studying for the next final.  But that's ok.  I was really tired and needed a small break.

So Thursday, I spent my day running a review session, coming to our new apartment and getting ready to host people and stuff invitations.  I studied a little in there while I was waiting for NES to get here.  So it wasn't a completely math-devoid day.  But it did feel like a vacation.  Which I needed at that particular moment.

For some reason, I had this urge to make this dessert mom used to make when I was little.  I mean, it was quick and easy, so it was perfect, but I don't remember how I thought of it.  So making it was the first order of business.

I actually had to buy a 9x13 pan for this recipe, too.  I don't know how I didn't have one already.

Saltine Candy Crunch
from Grammy

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
approximately 1 sleeve of saltine crackers
1 12 oz. package of chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13 pan with foil (very important!!!) and spray thoroughly with cooking spray.  Line the bottom with a single layer of saltines.

Gently heat the sugar and butter to a boil in a saucepan.  Let boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour hot liquid over saltines gently and bake for 7 minutes.

Remove from oven and quickly sprinkle chocolate chips over entire pan.  Let melt a little and spread the chocolate chips with a knife over the caramel layer.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours.  Break into pieces to serve.

So, the stirring while the sugar and butter melt and come to a boil isn't the easiest part of a recipe, especially when it's like, what, the third time in your life you've cooked on a gas stove?  But alas.  It is sooo good.

It's basically making a caramel sauce to put over the crackers.  (Salted caramel, anyone?)  It's amazing how it goes from this grainy goo . . .

. . . to smooth and clear caramel sauce.  Amazing.  Cooking never ceases to amaze me.

And then over the crackers it goes -- it really is a play on the whole sweet and salty idea that's so popular right now.

And then the fun comes.  Spreading the chocolate on top is . . . well, a challenge in some ways, but it's so good (and you just end up breaking it into pieces) that no one cares.  If some caramel mixes into the melted chocolate, who cares.

It's a little crumby and can be hard to break up, just as a warning.  But you try and eat just one piece.  It's definitely one of those desserts.

Meanwhile, while that was refrigerating, I studied, NES came, and our guests were stuck in rush hour traffic.  But that's ok.  It gave us more time to get ready for them.

For dinner, I made pesto pizzas.  I happened to have 2 containers of homemade pesto left in the freezer -- it was perfect!

Now, if I were just making one or two pizzas (I made four this time -- but there were 8 of us!), I would usually use fresh mozzarella for a pizza like this.  But that seemed like a lot of fresh mozzarella.  So I used shredded.  It was very different, but I liked it just as much!

And now to make things easier for me, I chose simple toppings.  On top of a base of pesto,

I added cheese.

And I left one like that.  I think it was my personal favorite.

On one, I put sliced mushrooms on top of the cheese.  I probably should have sauteed them instead of putting them on raw, because they didn't really cook all the way, but I was ok with that.

On one, I put just the pre-"grilled" strips of chicken you can buy in the grocery store.  (Hey, I was going for simple here, and chicken and pesto go well together.)

And on the last one, I did half and half.

And there were 3 pieces left at the end.  It was a perfect meal for entertaining 8, but quick and easy enough to clean up that we still had plenty of time to do invitations.

The invitations were quite an adventure.  We had 3 of us labelling envelopes, and everyone else stuffing, stamping or collecting.  And we got them done in just a few hours!  Thanks to all the help, we had them done that quickly, that is.  If NES and I had to do it ourselves, it would have taken FOREVER.  It was great to have some of the wedding party come and help.  We had a fun evening.
Invitations!  And I even got to hand cancel them the next day at the post office!  It was really fun.

Now, on to wedding planning!  For real this time!  No more math to get in the way!


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