Summertime Pizza Recipe

pizza, pizza recipe, summer, recipe

“What’s for dinner?”


Always music to my ears growing up. But let’s be honest, pizza for dinner still puts a pep in my step.  I suppose that’s the “youthfulness” in me. There’s just something about homemade pizza. It’s so much fun to make and to get the whole family involved.

Today I want to share with you my summertime pizza recipe.

But first, I want to share how I get my crust crisped to perfection. I shared this method with someone once, and they were so excited! I remember them saying, “This is a game changer! I’ve always struggled with soggy pizza! I’m learning how to make pizza from a real Italian!” Haha.

The Secret to Crispy Pizza:

pizza, pizza dough, recipe
Pizza dough prepped for the oven!

I purchase my pizza dough from the bakery at my grocery store.  When you’re ready to start cookin’, let the dough rest outside of the fridge for a little while.  This will help the dough become more pliable. Roll the dough out or stretch it with your hands until it is the size and thickness of your preference. Brush it with olive oil and season it with oregano.  Take a fork and prick a few holes in the dough to prevent huge bubbles in the dough. Then, put the dough in the oven WITHOUT any toppings.  This is when you want to fully cook the dough and get it nice and golden. If you’re using a pizza pan with holes in the bottom you can leave it on the pan.  But, if you’re using a cookie sheet, you’ll want to shimmy the crust off the pan halfway through the cook time (this allows the bottom of the crust to brown).  Cook time will depend on your dough and the thickness, as well as your preference. Once your crust is crispy and fully cooked (should take 15 to 20 minutes), put your toppings on your pizza. Once the pizza is topped and ready to go, put back in the oven for ONLY 3 minutes.  This is simply to melt the cheese and heat the toppings through.

Using the above method will keep your pizza toppings from losing their freshness and crisp, and will prevent a soggy pizza crust!

So now for the summertime pizza recipe! This recipe has become a staple in the Brown Abode! Billy and I made it for our family the other night, and they’re already asking for us to make it again.

I created this recipe to be a light pizza that is perfect for warm summer evenings by the pool.  With peaches, fresh sweet basil, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze, it’s very gourmet and feels very southern.  Soul food for sure!

pizza, pizza recipe, summer, recipe

Summertime Pizza Recipe

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • Pizza Dough
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Oregano
  • Shredded Italian Cheese
  • 1 Peach, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Salami, sliced into thin pieces
  • Fresh Basil
  • 2 TB Balsamic Vinegar


  1. Preheat oven according to the directions of your chosen pizza dough.
  2. Brush with olive oil, season with oregano, and prick with a fork.
  3. Cook dough until golden and crispy. The crust should be fully cooked. Babysit the dough to prevent overcooking.
  4. Add cheese, peaches, and salami.
  5. Put back into the oven and bake for 3 minutes.
  6. In a small skillet, simmer balsamic vinegar til it thickens and forms a glaze. Set aside. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
  7. When the pizza is done, top with fresh basil and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

-From the kitchen of Julia Brown

pizza, pizza recipe, summer, recipe

Get in the kitchen this summer. Have some family or friends over, have a record spinning, and blow them away with this tasty pizza that looks straight out of a restaurant. If you make this recipe, comment below! I’d love to hear how you enjoyed it!


Bruschetta Recipe

My sister and I have started a new Thursday night tradition. We have each other and our hubs over at each other’s homes, alternating weeks. It’s become a coveted time of laughter and good food! The perfect way to break up the week.

When they came over to our place, I made bruschetta as an appetizer and they enjoyed it so immensely! What I love about bruschetta is it’s delightfully light, looks impressive, but is deceptively easy to make! So I thought I’d share my recipe with you all–because that’s what friends are for!

Speaking of bruschetta, I must confess a pet peeve of mine—when people call it “broo-shetta.” Being the little Italian girl that I am, hearing bruschetta mispronounced is like nails on a chalkboard for me. Haha. “Broo-sketta” sounds far more beautiful, don’t you agree?


  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 tomatoes, petite diced and seeded
  • 1/2 onion, petite diced
  • A few leaves of basil, chopped
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A dash of garlic powder
  • 1 to 2 TB of olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Baguette


  1. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, basil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil.
  2. Refrigerator mixture until ready to serve.
  3. Slice baguette into 1/2 inch pieces.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and garlic powder and toast in even for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. (Or until desired crispiness.)
  5. In a small pan, simmer balsamic vinegar until it bubbles and reduces in volume. It will continue to thicken as it cools and will form a glaze. Set aside.
  6. Spoon tomato mixture on each slice of bread and drizzle the balsamic glaze on top.
  7. Enjoy!

-From the kitchen of Julia Brown

I love how light and refreshing this appetizer is! The perfect cheese board pairing! May this recipe delight your tummy and wow your guests.


Roasted Parmesan Potato Recipe

Hectic schedules call for cooking shortcuts.

I totally get that. It is so easy to pop a bag of frozen waffle fries in the oven. In fact, that was one of my favorite sides to use when cooking cube steak or something like that. Because–easy.

But you know what? Roasting potatoes is also really easy. And it’s real food. No crazy ingredients. Not fried. And tons of flavor. There’s nothing wrong with cooking some frozen fries every now and then. But my new go-to is this recipe I created. I make these all the time now!

I could literally eat these potatoes like candy. Dipped in ketchup, they taste like fancy French fries that you can actually feel good about eating!

What makes these so special is the PARMESAN sprinkled on top. Oh man. I can’t get enough. You know me. Always gotta put an Italian spin on things. 😉 The combination of the cheese with the spices creates an explosion of flavor. It’s like a big Italian-family get together for your taste buds. Hehe. Not to mention, the aroma that will escape your oven as these roast! You’ll have your whole family asking, “What’s for dinner?!”

Check out the recipe below and let me know what you think! This side compliments so many entrees. I’d love to see what you pair it with.

Happy cooking!

Roasted Parmesan Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 4 red potatoes, chopped (I leave the skin on.)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano or Italian spice blend
  • Garlic powder
  • 2 TBS Grated Parmesan cheese


On a sheet pan, place the chopped red potatoes. Drizzle them with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and a little bit of garlic powder. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top. Using your hands, toss the potatoes to coat evenly. Cook for 25 to 35 minutes until brown and your desired crispiness.

Nonna’s Dress

Little Julia, perhaps 9 or 10 years old, had a huge imagination.

In her closet was a large plastic bin. A bin of possibilities. What some may call a bin of dress up clothes.

There was a Pocahontas costume. A shawl (that also doubled as a “net to catch fish”). A little house on the prairie outfit. A gypsy costume. Among other things.

There was one dress that was particularly beautiful. It was white and blush pink with a flowing cape. It was little Julia’s favorite. While it was much too big on her, she loved wearing it around the house, pretending she was a princess.

That dress was her Nonna’s.


Now I’m all grown up. Well, at least on the outside. On the inside, I’m still the same little Julia, with the wild imagination.

And now Nonna’s dress fits me. Nonna is in heaven now with the Lord. (And my Nonno ❤️)

When Billy and I decided to do a photoshoot for our 2 year anniversary, I knew exactly what I wanted to wear. Nonna’s dress. The usual “what should I wear?” dilemma never occurred. I knew it would be a lovely way to honor her.

You see, the beautiful dress in the pictures is more than just a beautiful dress. It is Nonna’s dress. The dress that little Julia couldn’t wait to grow into. The dress that reminds me of the beautiful person that my Nonna was, on the inside and the outside.

Wearing her dress made the photoshoot that much more special.

The above photo shows me holding a picture of my Nonna wearing the dress. 💗

I often wish Billy could’ve met my Nonna. She passed away before I ever knew Billy. But, sometimes I wonder if maybe in heaven she and my Nonno can see what’s going on down here. Perhaps one day they’ll say, “Billy! It’s nice to finally meet you in person.” Probably followed by, “Try this, it’s yummy.” Because that’s the Italian way. 😉

* All photographs in this post were taken by Stephanie Gamble.

Minestrone Recipe

In pre-school, we were asked what our favorite food was. Amidst the screams for “ice cream!” and “pizza!”, I yelled out “minestrone!” True story, my friends.

Needless to say, minestrone has been one of my favorite recipes for my entire life. My family is Italian, so this recipe means a lot to me. I remember when I first got married, I made minestrone for Billy. It was such a cool moment, because there I was–all grown up, married, and making minestrone for my hubby. How special.

There’s something precious about handing down a recipe from generation to generation. I can’t wait to teach my kids (Lord willing) how to make this one day, just like my mom taught me. (Hi, mom!)

Not only is this recipe sentimental, but it is fully LOADED with vegetables and flavor. This recipe yields such a large batch, you can enjoy it all week long and serve it with different sides. Billy and I love “minestrone week.” Billy loves having a hefty soup for dinner each night, and I love only having to cook once that week. 😉

Now, being the busy girl that I am, I have created a couple changes to make this soup a little faster to make. For example, instead of purchasing a half of cabbage, I buy a bag of spinach and add that. (No chopping, and super yummy.) I also like to buy the snack bags of celery sticks. (Already washed, ready for me to chop.)

So here is the infamous minestrone recipe (with my minor tweaks). I hope it works its way into your heart, like it has mine. ❤️

Minestrone Recipe

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 glove of garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup of potatoes, chopped
  • A handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 15 oz. can of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 TB of chicken bouillon
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cups of water
  • Salt/pepper to taste


Sauté onion and garlic in some olive oil. Add chopped veggies. Add frozen veggies. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add sauce, water, bouillon, and beans. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add spinach. Serve over cooked rice or ditalini pasta. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread.


Chicken Bryan (easy) Recipe

Well let me just start by saying…this week has been…crazy. There aren’t really words, guys. But I’m sure most of you can relate, so there’s really no need for elaboration. Thank goodness the weekend is upon us.

Okay. So now that I’ve vented, I’d like to share a quick and easy recipe, that you can make on a crazy weeknight.

If you’ve ever ordered Chicken Bryan from Carrabbas, and love it, this one’s for you! I crave it so much, so I decided to start making it at home. I found a few recipes on Pinterest, but I decided to simplify it even more. Let me tell you–it’s delicious. Billy literally can’t stop telling me how good it is.

So here’s a great, filling meal to add to your weeknight meal plans!

Easy Chicken Bryan Recipe

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 bag of Tyson frozen pre-grilled chicken
  • Montreal chicken seasoning
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 TBS of white wine
  • A handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • A handful of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • Goat cheese


Start by placing the pre-grilled chicken on a baking sheet and sprinkle with Montreal chicken seasoning. Put in the oven, following the heating instructions on the bag. While that is cooking, melt the butter and garlic in a small skillet. Next, add the lemon juice and wine. Keep heat low so the butter doesn’t brown or separate.  When the chicken is almost ready, take it out of the oven and add a slice of goat cheese on top of each piece. Put back in the oven for one more minute to melt and warm the cheese. Then add the basil and sun dried tomatoes to the lemon butter sauce. When the chicken is ready, pour the sauce over the chicken. Enjoy!

And there you have it! The creamy goat cheese tastes delicious with the bite of the sun dried tomatoes. This’ll be a favorite in our house for a long time! The pre-grilled chicken is my new favorite thing! Quick homemade meal on a weeknight? I’m all about that life.


Simple Marinara

Happy Hump Day! It’s a great feeling knowing you’re half way through the week. Ahhh 🙂

Today I’d like to share with you one of my original recipes. Recipe production is still something I’m working on. While I’m not able to come up with an elaborate cake recipe, I have been able to create a couple simple recipes.

The recipe I’d like to share with you today is a simple marinara sauce that you can throw together quickly on a weeknight or put on some homemade pizza. It’s easy, light, and has great flavor.

So, let’s get cooking. 🍝

(Quick note on the picture below. While “perusing” Homegoods, I stumbled across this mint Dutch oven. I’ve been wanting one so bad, and this one was only $30! I’m in love 😍. Dutch ovens are so versatile, and are especially great for sauces, soups, and chili! Oh and by the way, there is no such thing as perusing Homegoods. 😉)

Simple Marinara

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 cloves of garlic
1 small sweet onion
1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup of white wine
Oregano or Italian Spice Blend
Fresh basil


Heat olive oil in a medium sized pot. Mince garlic and chop onion.  Saute in the pot until translucent.  Add the crushed tomatoes, a splash (or more) of white wine, and the seasonings. Bring to a simmer. At the end, chop some fresh basil and stir in. Serve over pasta.

I hope you enjoy! This recipe is great if you’re looking for an easy “pasta night” but don’t want to just heat up a jar of pre-made sauce.  This one’s fresh and tasty. Happy cooking!


Me, You, and Tiramisu 

Tiramisu is one of those awesome, fancy desserts you pay $9 for a small slice at a restaurant. What if I told you that it’s actually really easy to make, and it’ll have you feeling like a boss when you serve this?

I’ll tell you right now, make this easy dessert for your next dinner party, and you’ll blow away your guests. It looks and tastes like it was really challenging to make. But it’s so easy and fun! (But they don’t need to know that. 😏)

Every year, I make my guy a dessert for Valentine’s Day. This year I made him tiramisu because it’s his absolute favorite. I had never made it before, so I was a little nervous.

My Nonna (that’s Italian for grandma), had an amazing recipe she used to make. So, I pulled out her recipe and set to work. If you’ve been looking for a tiramisu recipe, look no further. This is the one. It’s written in her beautiful handwriting. I will tell you more about Nonna and my Nonno and their story in a future post. (It’s a good one 😉 )

Nonna's Tiramisu

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


1 Box of Lady Fingers

1 cup of heavy cream

3 TBS of coffee liquor

5 TBS of mascarpone cheese

2 cups of strong coffee or espresso

Cocoa powder



Using a mixer, whip cream, coffee liquor, and mascarpone cheese until stiff. Next, dip the lady fingers in the cooled coffee or espresso. Lay the dredged lady fingers in a dish. Pour some of the whipped cream mixture over top. Sprinkle a mixture of cocoa powder and cinnamon overtop the cream. Make one more layer and finish by sprinkling more cocoa powder and cinnamon. Refrigerate overnight. Serve cold.

Note: Mascarpone cheese has a similar texture to cream cheese and can be found where your grocery store sells their speciality cheeses.

One of the reasons I love cooking so much, is that it is so much more than simply preparing food to be eaten.  It is sharing something. It is sharing a story, sharing love, a means of expression. On Valentine’s Day, I didn’t make Billy just any tiramisu. I made him Nonna’s tiramisu. Spread the love, and sprinkle some cinnamon.