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Chicken pizza is something to salsa about

Thursday, June 26, 2003

By Nancy Anderson, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Cathy King of Upper St. Clair is back from an extended family vacation at the beach.


"We take our five kids and meet with all my relatives -- I'm one of seven kids -- and rent a big house in Nags Head," she said, sounding surprisingly calm and sane after the experience.

"It's actually relaxing for me," she said. "I hardly ever see my kids because there are so many other kids to play with."

Sounds like fun, especially at dinner time.

Cathy didn't say if they made her recipe for Mexican Chicken Pizza, today's Countdown winner, which is an example of something borrowed becoming something new.

"I'd heard of a quesadilla that used cream cheese and cumin mixed together," she said. "I sort of combined that idea with a pizza theme and came up with this recipe."

Most of her family -- husband Paul, an engineer for US Airways, and daughters Kristina, 11, Rachael, 9, and Lucy, 7 -- like this tasty pizza, but 6-year-old twins, Daniel and Samuel, haven't become adventurous eaters yet.

"They don't like anything but regular pizza, so I throw in one of those too," she said.

Juicy, ripe tomatoes are key to today's recipe, but they're difficult to find in supermarkets.

The plum tomatoes we bought were red and looked ripe but had the consistency of cardboard when sliced. Hydroponics were a little meatier but still tasteless.

We suggest substituting salsa for tomatoes that are barely worthy of the name.

And, if you have time, Cathy recommends mixing the cream cheese and cumin ahead of time and letting the flavors mellow out.

Mexican Chicken Pizza

  • 1 prepared pizza crust (we used Boboli) or thawed frozen bread dough (see note

  • 8-ounce package cream cheese (low-fat is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • About 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken breast -- store- bought rotisserie or left-over -- shredded
  • 1 1/2-2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 3 to 4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • Optional: cilantro, chopped fresh or dried (we used 2 tablespoons fresh)

Preheat oven to 400. While oven heats, combine cream cheese and cumin. Shred chicken and chop tomatoes (if the tomatoes are hard and juiceless, use 1 to 1 1/4 cups of salsa).

When oven is hot, brush prepared crust with olive oil and bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over crust. Top with chicken, cheddar cheese and tomatoes. Sprinkle cilantro over all. Bake 5 to 7 minutes until cheese is melted.

Cathy's note: If using frozen bread dough: Grease pizza pan or 13-by-9-inch pan with olive oil. Dust with flour. Roll out dough and press into pan. Brush with olive oil and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and follow above steps.

Nancy Anderson can be reached at nanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3549.

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