My 3 year old calls himself a Spidey-Ninja. That's a cross between Spiderman and a ninja warrior, if you are wondering. He runs around the house yelling "HIYAH!!!" while jump kicking me in the shins. He thinks it is hilarious. My poor bruised legs don't find it so funny. When I try to catch him, he runs away, jumps on the furniture, and then launches himself like Spiderman. This is the moment when I realized that my baby boy is no longer a baby anymore. He's not even a toddler. He is officially a "big kid." *Sigh...*
Besides being a Spidey-Ninja, my big kid is also my sous-chef in the kitchen. One of his favorite things to make is pizza. While we love to make pizza from scratch, it isn't always possible due to time constraints, poor planning, gluten intolerances, etc., and sometimes we just want something different. That's when we turn to these pizza stuffed baked potatoes.
These have all of our favorite pizza toppings and flavors, but are quick and easy (and gluten-free!). I even microwaved the potatoes to save time. I did make the sauce from scratch because we absolutely love this sauce, but I'm sure you could use store-bought in a pinch. And feel free to mix it up with whatever pizza toppings you like. I'm sure your family will love this fun new twist on pizza night!
Pizza Stuffed Baked Potatoes
1 lb. lean ground beef, turkey, or Italian sausage
1/2 bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
20 pepperoni slices, halved or quartered
3 garlic cloves
28 oz. can crushed or petite diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
Salt and pepper
5 russet potatoes, scrubbed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Parmesan and mozzarella cheese for topping
Fresh basil for garnish
In a large skillet, brown the meat over medium heat. Drain off excess fat, if necessary. Add the bell pepper and cook until softened. Add the pepperoni and garlic; cook for 1 minute longer.
Add the tomatoes, dried basil, oregano, marjoram, salt, sugar, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
While the pizza mixture is simmering, place the potatoes on a microwave-safe plate. Prick all over with a fork and rub with olive oil. Cover with a paper towel. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Flip the potatoes over and microwave for another 5 minutes, or until tender. (You can also bake these in the oven if desired.)
Remove the potatoes and slice down the middle. (Optional: Scoop out some of the potato to make more room for pizza filling.) Season with salt and pepper. Place a large scoop of pizza filling in the potato. Top with parmesan and mozzarella. Briefly microwave to melt the cheese or place under the broiler. Garnish with fresh basil.
(Gluten-free option: Already gluten-free. Yay!)