Yesterday was my other half’s birthday. Being a milestone of sorts, this one brought him to a respectful number of years on this earth. I won’t say how many, but let’s just say the local cougars may remove his name from their “A List”. That being said, I wanted to do something to celebrate. Family came, the children made their “Papa” cards and a good time was had by all.
Birthdays, for me, are a double-edged sword. I find they are either fabulous or they are dreadful, without many falling in the gray area lying in between. I got engaged on one birthday and also saw a marriage end on another. So, two weeks before mine shows up on the calendar I usually find myself a bit hinky and on edge.
Having a birthday as I do on the day after Halloween is handy. Dressing up and painting faces are two of my favorite activities, so my closet downstairs devoted to holidays comes well equipped with wigs, costumes, clown feet, and bags of face paint. Love it.
In my twenties we had annual costume parties. Our garage housed a coffin which we lined with trash bags and used as a huge ice chest. The day of the party I filled it three-quarters full with cubed ice. Then I stuck plastic skeletal hands protruding through the ice holding cans of beer. Plastic eyeballs were frozen inside ice cubes the evening before and then randomly distributed throughout the bed of ice. I was born with a very active imagination so Halloween just lends itself to tapping into the creative side of my brain.
One year we had sixty-five people join us at the house dressed as everything thing from bacon and eggs to Adam and Eve. It was great. That year I came as Minnie Mouse. People started arriving about eight thirty and by one o’clock things were really getting moving. I had gone to our neighbors the day prior and invited them to join us, and if not, told them to let us know if we got too loud at any point and we would amp it down. Late comers drifted in and out and around two there was a knock at the door and two party goers dressed as police officers were standing there. Slightly giddy in my whiskers and polka dot skirt, I invited them in and offered them a beverage. As it turned out it appeared they weren’t allowed alcohol when on duty. Once it became clear to me that they weren’t there for the nachos, I lowered the music. They came in and walked a time or two around the house to make sure I guess that we weren’t either well disguised gun runners or running a meth lab in the back bathroom. Most probably the casket in the living room and the brain suspended in neon highlighted water didn’t bode well for our credibility. Plus, it’s hard to have a serious conversation with a young woman who’s whiskers are twitching and is wearing eyelashes that reach to just beneath her eyebrows. In the end, they seemed to sense the humor in the situation and asked us to keep things down to a dull roar, which we did.
Our parties are a little more family oriented these days and at this one we made delicious French bread pizzas which can be personalized with whatever toppings you enjoy on your pizza. They require minimum prep and the end result is yummy. We got the bread still warm from the bakery shelves. Nice large loaves are best and make sure to slice in half lengthwise as evenly as possible to keep the toppings from sliding off during baking.
French Bread Pizza
4 loaves of freshly baked French bread, halved
2 24 oz. jars of traditional marinara sauce
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups Italian blend cheese or Mozzarella
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Sliced black olives
Thinly sliced green peppers
Marinated artichoke hearts
Sliced heirloom tomatoes
Pick your choice of toppings, which are only limited by your imagination. I prep everything ahead of time so it’s easy to assemble.
Preheat oven to broil.
Place your bread halves on baking sheets. Leave space in between loaves to allow for proper browning. With a spatula spread sauce evenly to cover all cut halves (you will probably have some left over so refrigerate or freeze). Sprinkle cheese liberally down center of halves leaving about 1/2″ on all sides. Place your toppings on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Place on center rack on broil and cook for 10 mins. Turn oven down to 400 degrees and cook for an additional 10-12 mins. checking regularly until nicely browned. Serve with red pepper flakes and additional Parmesan cheese. If you only use 2 toppings cooking time may be reduced.