Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Writer's Snack: No-Guilt Mini Pizzas from Cleo Coyle


Writing novels for a living appears to be a perfectly safe occupation. As my fellow authors know, however, the writing life comes with one major hazard. No, we don't dodge flying bullets or psychopathic killers (though our characters may). What we combat every day is a more sinister villain: Excess Calorie Man. He lurks behind every extra handful of peanuts, chunk of cheese, or silver of pie.

As you can imagine, it’s even worse for a culinary mystery writer. Testing recipes, especially delicious ones like the chocolates in Murder by Mocha or firehouse recipes in Roast Mortem, gives Excess Calorie Man free reign. Well, today I’m going to show you one way this writer reigns him in...

May you eat with joy
and in good health!

~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.
Cleo Coyle's
Mini Pizzas

Journalist Mark Bittman became famous with his 101 foodie idea articles. I swear my Italian-born mother and aunt could have written one on 101 things to do with squash. 

As a kid, I took all my pop's homegrown veggies for granted. As an adult, I miss them dearly. This recipe makes good use of zucchini, especially baby ones at the start of summer. It makes a fun, quick snack or lunch. It's kid-friendly, too; my mom and aunt used to make it for me as a little girl. 

Of course, my family used homemade red sauce. And if you'd like to make your own meatless Italian spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes, click here for that recipe (or click the link below to download a free PDF of that recipe).

Click here to download a free PDF of
Cleo's homemade, meatless Italian
spaghetti sauce recipe from
fresh tomatoes.

Today, I took a shortcut in my recipe and used jarred pizza sauce. The brand I picked up was quite tasty, and I can recommend it as a time saver.


- Small to medium zucchini 

- Pizza sauce (jarred or homemade)

- Mozzarella, shredded (whole milk or part-skim)

- Toppings (see note*)

*Note: Use your favorite pizza toppings from veggies to meat, just be sure any meat is already cooked. Topping suggestions: sauteed, chopped mushrooms; sliced olives; chopped peppers; regular, turkey, or
meatless pepperoni or cooked and
crumbled sausage, etc.

Directions: (1) Cut the zucchini into slices of 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. You want the slices thin enough to cook fast under the broiler but thick enough to hold their shapes for handling after toppings are added. Place the slices on a sheet pan. 

Tip: for easy cleanup, line the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. 

(2) Spoon pizza sauce onto each slice. To save time, use jarred. (If you need a recommendation, I like the Ragu Homemade Style Pizza Sauce, "100% Natural.") Sprinkle on your shredded mozzarella and toppings. As noted, because these pizzas are finished in a flash, make sure your meat toppings are already cooked. If using mushrooms or peppers, I would chop them finely and saute them in a bit of olive oil before adding. 

(3) Place the pan of mini pizzas under your broiler for 1 to 3 minutes--time will depend on the intensity of your oven's broiler. No matter what, keep a close eye on these because they cook very quickly and the cheese can burn fast. Remove and...eat with (guiltless) joy!

F o o d i e 
P h o t o s

To download a free PDF of this
recipe that you can print, save
or share,
click here.

Eat and Drink

with Joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
13 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 


(with mini plot summaries)
clicking here.

Sign up for my newsletter!
Simply write an e-mail that says
"Sign me up" and send it to this address...


This will also enter you in my weekly
Free Coffee Drawings.
Every week, I give away a package of
premium coffee to a subscriber.

Good luck!

* * * 

Now a National
Bestseller in Hardcover

A Coffeehouse Mystery 

*Starred Review* -Kirkus

"Top Pick"  -RT Book Reviews

"...a highly satisfying mystery."
-Publishers Weekly

See the book's
Recipe Guide
by clicking here.


Haunted Bookshop

Free Title Checklist,
with mini plot summaries,


  1. Those are perfect Cleo--they'd be good hors d'oeuvres too! And I'd love to see your family article on 100 things to do with squash:) xo

    1. Lucy - LOL on the 100 things with squash. I think that would be a fun post to put together (except for the photos, 100 photos is a little daunting)! Thanks for dropping in today, I appreciate it!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. Replies
    1. Indeed, they are delicious. To borrow a phrase from Madison Avenue, I can't eat just one! Thanks for dropping in today, Libby, it's always a pleasure to see you in the Kitchen!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  3. Helena GeorgetteMay 27, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    I have heard of using zucchini as pepperoni. I REALLY like your idea! Your recipe for sauce looks so good. Your stories of your family especially your father are touching! What could I use in place of the wine. Please don't say grape juice, yuck.

    1. Helena - Thanks for the nice words about my family and father. It's nice to see the old ways coming back around. My dad got a big kick out of "urban gardening" coming into fashion for the upscale NYC chefs. It was never a fashion for him--and so many of his generation--it was a matter of survival! As for the sauce recipe, wine imparts a very special flavor. If you don't want to use it, the taste will be different, but I understand some folks don't want to consume alcohol. In that case, substitute vegetable stock and a little bit of sugar (1/2 to 1 teaspoon or to your taste). That should be a good substitute.

      Thanks again for dropping in, Helena!
      May you have a delicious week...

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  4. We just got the first of the kitchen garden planted this weekend and zukes are in place!! Along with some tomato plants...so come late summer I'll be making my own sauce and zuke pizzas!! Hoping that ours look as good as yours!

  5. Yum! Those look great! May I suggest that we murder Excess Calorie Man?


  6. These look delicious! Love guilt-free pizza.

    Daryl / Avery

  7. I love these! I am fighting my addiction to wheat and these can help. Making them tomorrow. Thanks, Cleo.