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Chocolate Kissed Strawberries

February 6

Perfect with romantic dinners or a quick party appetizer – these strawberries look gourmet and professionally made in only a matter of minutes.

Valentine's Day Strawberries_The Spice & Tea Exchange

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From TSTE®

Your choice of:

TSTE® Dark Cocoa Sugar

TSTE® Coconut Sugar

TSTE® Espresso Sugar


From the Grocer:

10 – 15 strawberries (with stems)

1 – 7 oz cup of dipping chocolate (dark or milk)

6 oz white chocolate chips (about ½ a bag)
1 tsp vegetable shortening



RINSE strawberries. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels and set aside.

MELT white chocolate chips and vegetable shortening in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir consistently throughout the process until the chocolate is smooth.

REMOVE the plastic lid from your cup of dipping chocolate. Heat the cup of dipping chocolate according to the directions on the package – this will typically entail repeatedly microwaving on medium for 30 sec and stirring afterwards, until completely melted.

DIP each strawberry in dipping chocolate and use a spoon to drizzle white chocolate over top. Sprinkle with TSTE® Dark Cocoa Sugar, TSTE® Coconut Sugar, or TSTE® Espresso Sugar. Refrigerate until the chocolate is hardened and serve.


Pressed for time? Dipping chocolate cups come in both milk and dark chocolate and the strawberries will look great using both (if you don’t want to take the time to melt the white chocolate chips).

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Valentine's Day Strawberries_ The Spice & Tea Exchange

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Yield: 10-15 strawberries  Kitchen Time: 10-15 minutes 


-The Spice & Tea Exchange



Easy Layered Nachos

January 24

Here’s another great appetizer for your“Big Game” party. Nachos are easy, loved, and affordable. Why not add a little spice and flavor to your nachos by topping with TSTE® Southwest Seasoning!

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From TSTE®

1 TBS TSTE® Southwest Seasoning, or to taste

From the Grocer

11 oz bag tortilla chips

15 oz can black beans, rinsed

8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

4-5 jalapeños, sliced

12 oz jar banana pepper rings

1 tomato, diced

2.25 oz  can black olives

1 bunch of cilantro, minced

8 oz sour cream

16 oz salsa

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PREHEAT oven to 400°F.

COVER the bottom of a 9×13 pan with a layer of tortilla chips (about half the bag). Sprinkle half of the black beans and cheese over top.

COVER again with the rest of the chips and then follow with the remainder of the beans and cheese. On top, layer: jalapeños, banana peppers, tomato, black olives, and cilantro. Top with TSTE® Southwest Seasoning.

BAKE for 7 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with your favorite salsa and a dollop of sour cream.

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Yield: 4 servings   Kitchen Time: 15 minutes


-The Spice & Tea Exchange



Tropical Cocoa Cupcakes with Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream

March 7

When I was approached by The Spice and Tea Exchange about creating a recipe using one of their products, I was ecstatic. Creating recipes is always a fun challenge.

I was lucky enough to receive two – 1 ounce packs of their Tropical Cocoa Mix. I must say, it is wonderful. The smell alone was intoxicating. Hints of coconut and vanilla were prominent, and it had a subtle fruity taste. It would taste wonderful as a simple mug of hot cocoa, or whisked into a cup of coffee for a morning pick me up.

But being a baker, I wanted to work this interesting ingredient into a dessert.

After a bit of brainstorming and recipe research I came up with a chocolate cupcake to showcase the uniqueness of of the cocoa mix, while still preserving the deep chocolate flavor. To accentuate the tropical flavors I topped the cupcakes with a coconut swiss meringue buttercream. But, a regular coconut or vanilla buttercream would be just as fabulous.

This cupcake will satisfy a chocolate craving and transport you to paradise all in one bite.

What are you waiting for? Get your own tropical cocoa mix today!

Tropical Cocoa Cupcakes

Yields 12 cupcakes


  • 1 ounce dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup Tropical Cocoa Mix
  • 1/3 cup hot coffee (I used french vanilla)
  • 2 tbsp vanilla greek yogurt*
  • 5 ounces (1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup, tightly packed, light brown sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract

*No greek yogurt? Feel free to substitute whole milk, sour cream, or regular yogurt in its place.

To Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake papers.
  2. Place dark chocolate and cocoa in a bowl. Pour the hot coffee over the 2 ingredients and whisk it all together until very smooth. Add the yogurt and mix until smooth again.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium for 2-3 minutes or fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs and coconut extract, mixing until just barely incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.
  5. Add the flour and chocolate mixture in 5 steps, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Carefully mix in each addition for 10 – 15 seconds. You do NOT want to over mix your batter!
  6. Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cupcakes pass the toothpick test. Cool completely

    before frosting.

Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Swiss meringue buttercream may be intimidating at first. But don’t worry, you can do it! Have patience, and pay close attention to your egg whites. This recipe makes enough to lightly frost the 12 cupcakes, double it if you like a heavily frosted cupcake, or plan on using this for a layer cake.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 12 tbsp room temperature butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract

To Make the Frosting:

  1. In your stand mixer bowl (or other heat proof bowl) over a pot of simmering water, whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Note: do NOT let the bottom of the bowl touch the water, and do not let the water touch bowl! You don’t want to over cook your egg whites. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites mixture is hot (you will need to test this with your finger).
  2. Lift up the bowl and dry it off. Using the whisk attachment whip the egg white mixture, starting on low and moving to high, until it is white, doubled in size, and has formed stiff peaks. Note: you will know it’s ready when the bowl is cool to the touch! Do not add any butter until the bowl has cooled down.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment and start slowly mixing in the butter on medium speed. Once all the butter is added mix until it forms one homogenous mixture. It may take a few minutes for it to come together, but it will eventually. Even if it looks lumpy and wrong, keep mixing! It will come together!
  4. Once it looks like fluffy, white frosting; mix in the coconut extract and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.

This post was written by Erin Meyer, author of You can also find her on Facebook at and on Twitter @bigfatbaker.

Cookbook Review: All About Roasting

February 22


All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art
by Molly Stevens
photos by Quentin Bacon
wine pairings by Tim Gaiser

Reviewed for The Spice and Tea Exchange by Linda Avery.*

Facts: W.W. Norton, 573 pages, $35.00 (or Amazon at $19.17)
Photos: Over 100
Recipes: Over 150
Give to: Carnivores and cooks who want to know the “why?”
Stock up on:  Hard spices and sweet smoky aromatics, such as cumin seed, allspice, clove, and juniper berry; sweet and hot smoked paprika; coarse salt and butcher-cut ground pepper.
Working the Pantry: experiment with smoked salts and meat blends, especially English Roast Blend in the beef recipes.  For the lamb section try Wild Game Blend and Backwoods Hickory Rub.

Roasting is to winter what grilling is to summer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cooking With Coffee

February 17

The Spice & Tea Exchange brings you this post from guest blogger & Twitter follower Jen Lane, staff writer for Food Lush:

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Years ago, I dated a guy who fancied himself a cook.  His opinion of himself could not have been farther from the truth.  The first time he made me dinner, it involved over-cooked noodles topped with canned pasta sauce which had been mixed with spicy steak sauce and not heated.  He topped this masterpiece with a slice of yellow, plastic-like cheese and served it proudly.  I choked down a few bites and tried to be kind.  His next creation was green beans. He’d read something that said it was good make them with coffee, so he’d taken some instant coffee crystals and dumped them into a can of green beans, heated the whole thing in the microwave and served it alongside some rubbery chicken.

Needless to say, that relationship did not last.

Since that first disastrous experiment using coffee as an ingredient, I’ve found some better ways to use coffee grounds, espresso beans and even brewed coffee to make some delicious treats.  TSTE’s Espresso Sugar is a great addition to so many baked goods.  I like it best with chocolate, because, really, is there anything better than the combo of coffee and chocolate?  Not really.

These cookies are insanely easy to make and contain ingredients you probably have on hand at all times.  Whip them up as a treat for your family or co-workers.  The espresso sugar gives them a nice, hearty kick.


1 box chocolate cake mix

2 eggs

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

TSTE Espresso Sugar (to taste)


Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl (or stand mixer), combine cake mix, eggs and butter.  Mix until well-blended, about 2 minutes.   Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop rounds of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart.  Sprinkle tops of cookies with TSTE Espresso Sugar. Bake 8-10 minutes.   Cool for 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet. 

Jen Lane is the Production Stage Manager at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.  She loves cooking with her husband Marcus, who would never dream of mixing instant coffee into green beans.  Their four-year-old son, Dean, has inherited the cooking gene and enjoys baking, sprinkling garnishes onto dishes and making antipasto platters.  Yes, really.  Read about more of Jen’s culinary delights at Food Lush.




Blood Orange Tea Spiced Pecans

February 10

TSTE is happy to share this post from guest & Twitter follower Jennifer Matlock (@threelilpiglets):

I’m not quite sure why, but every afternoon around 3:00 I start feeling this insane urge to snack!  It’s probably leftover from school days when my mom always greeted me off the bus with some nice tasty, sweet treat.  The only problem?  I’m not a little kid anymore and don’t run around the neighborhood burning off all those calories! When I’m craving something sweet, my solution is Blood Orange Tea Spiced Pecans.

Pecans contain lots of vitamins, they’re good for your heart and your cholesterol, and research shows they may help you maintain a healthy weight.  Instead of indulging in candied pecans (which I also love), I swap the sugar in my favorite roasted pecan recipe for ground tea.  Blood Orange Smoothie Tea is so fragrant and naturally sweet that there’s no need to add any sugar to your pecans at all when roasting, which makes me a very happy and healthy snacker!
Blood Orange Tea Spiced Pecans
2 ½ tbs. Blood Orange Smoothie Tea*
2 large egg whites
1 tsp. water
Pinch of salt
1 lb. pecan halves
Preheat oven to 225 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a silpat or aluminum foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
Using a mortar & pestle (or a spice grinder), grind the tea until it’s a fine powder.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine egg whites, water, and salt.  Whip the mixture with an electric mixer (or a whisk) until it just starts to get fluffy.  Add the pecan halves and toss until evenly coated.  Sprinkle the ground tea over the nuts and toss again until evenly coated.  Pour nuts onto prepared baking sheet and scatter into a single layer.
Bake for 1 hour until the coating is dry, stirring every 15 minutes.  Cool completely and store in an air-tight container.
*This recipe would work equally well with any slightly sweet tea, however, you may have to vary the amount of tea you use depending on the sweetness of the blend.  You could also use a stronger tea and add 2-3 tablespoons of sugar to make them a little sweeter.
More about Jen:
Jen Matlock, is a proud Navy wife and veteran, mother of three, and culinary student.  She offers EASY, healthy and budget friendly recipes, with step by step instructions, and money saving tips to help you eat well and save on your grocery bill on her blog The Three Little Piglets.  You can also find her on Twitter.

Easy Spiced Chocolate Mug Cake

December 28

The Spice & Tea Exchange brings you this post from guest blogger Jen Lane, staff writer for Food Lush:

Around 2pm each day, it hits me…the afternoon crash.  I’ve heard the advice to eat almonds or bananas to up your energy, but you know what I really want? Chocolate. More specifically? Warm chocolate.  Now I love hot cocoa as much as the next person, but the best way to kill my chocolate craving is with warm, gooey cake.  I recently stumbled across a recipe for chocolate mug cake which called for Nutella and cocoa powder.  I decided to get a little creative and use some of my TSTE Spiced Cocoa instead of plain cocoa powder.

Let’s just say it was the right thing to do.

This cake is beyond easy to prepare and contains ingredients most of us already have on hand, especially during the holiday season.  Microwave cooking times vary, so give your cake a poke after 2 minutes.  If it springs back when you touch the top and has separated from the sides of the mug, it’s ready.  If it’s still gooey, zap it for 30-60 seconds longer.  3 minutes was the perfect amount of time in my microwave.

A nice break from the measuring, mixing, pouring, stirring, cooling and, most of all, waiting that goes along with traditional cakes, this quick treat provides a great pick-me-up almost instantly and makes you feel like you’re treating yourself to something special on any old ordinary day.  The TSTE Spiced Cocoa adds the perfect kick!


4 tablespoons self-rising flour
4 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons  TSTE Spiced Cocoa
3 tablespoons Nutella
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients in a large coffee mug. Whisk well with a fork until smooth. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 – 3 minutes, depending on your microwave wattage. Top with whipped cream and chocolate syrup, if desired. Enjoy!

Makes 1 very large serving.

About Jen

Jen Lane is happy to share some deliciousness with her fellow TSTE fans.  She is a staff writer for Food Lush and randomly blogs about life and such at Hey, Y’all.  Find her on Twitter.  Offline, she’s the mom of the world’s coolest preschooler, wife of an amazing cook, and works as a stage manager for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Garlicky Meatballs: A New Family Tradition

December 14

The Spice & Pfizer viagra Tea Exchange brings you this post from guest blogger Jen Lane, staff writer for Food Lush:

Like many families, our household eats pasta about once a week.  I typically make either a traditional spaghetti sauce with ground beef, onions and peppers, or a creamy tomato sauce called Parma Rosa.  Every once in a while, though, I spring a craving for good old spaghetti and meatballs.  I recently ran out of bread crumbs (and was too lazy to make my own), so I improvised some changes to my usual meatball recipe.

I started by adding a hearty handful of TSTE Vik’s Garlic Fix.  I mixed about 2 tablespoons into my ground beef with a beaten egg. Once mixed, I noticed how well the mixture was holding together.  The smell of garlic was intoxicating, so I decided to leave well enough alone and see what happened.  I rolled the mixture into meatballs, baked them and tossed them into some homemade marinara sauce I had simmering on the stove.  Later that night, I served dinner to my family.  My husband, who thinks pasta is “just ok,” ate 3 bowls, declaring these the best meatballs he’d ever had.  Three ingredients.  Less than 20 minutes start to finish prep/cooking time.  One happy family.

Since trying this recipe out, I’ve also made meatballs this way for subs and a batch of turkey meatballs for my food-snob son.  Both were outstanding.  If you like a little meat with your garlic, give TSTE’s Vik’s Garlic Fix a try in your next meatball-making endeavor.  It’s also delicious when mixed with breadcrumbs and used to bread chicken!


1 pound ground beef (or turkey)

2 tablespoons TSTE Vik’s Garlic Fix

1 egg, beaten

Mix ingredients together in large bowl with hands.  When well-mixed, roll into balls (approximately 1-inch in diameter) and place on baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes, or until browned throughout.  Serve atop pasta, on a sub roll with sauce or alongside your favorite veggies.

About Jen

Jen Lane is happy to share some deliciousness with her fellow TSTE fans.  She is a staff writer for Food Lush and randomly blogs about life and such at Hey, Y’all.  Find her on Twitter.  Offline, she’s the mom of the world’s coolest preschooler, wife of an amazing cook, and works as a stage manager for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Sweet & Smokey Fudgebombs

October 21

A while ago, I delivered the “tough love” about eating a paleo diet. There are plenty of good reasons to try the paleo diet, but it does exclude some categories of foods. In a nutshell, if you want to eat live a caveman (or girl), you’ve got to say goodbye to grains – especially the ones that contain gluten – dairy, legumes, and excess sugar.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with your food once in a while, too. And nothing says “fun food” like chocolate, right?

One of the most popular paleo treats is a recipe called “fudge babies,” made from dates, chopped nuts, and cocoa powder. I usually add a pinch of sea salt to mine to balance the sweetness of the other ingredients.

For this new version that I concocted just for The Spice and Tea Exchange, I added two bonus ingredients: ground chipotle pepper and Spiced Cocoa Mix. These Sweet & Smokey Fudgebombs have a deep, chocolate flavor with the kick of chili peppers, and the smooth sweetness of vanilla.

Sweet & Smokey Fudgebombs
Makes approximately 40

1 1/3 cups pitted dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons Spiced Cocoa Mix
to garnish: coarse sea salt

Place dates, vanilla, cocoa, chipotle pepper, and pecans in the bowl of a food processor. Process on high until the mixture forms a paste. There’s a magic moment when it transforms from disparate ingredients into something smooth, glossy, and tempting.

Wet your hands with water and shake off the excess, measure rounded 1-teaspoon scoops and roll the “dough” into 1-inch balls between your palms. Set on a baking sheet.

Refrigerate until the Fudgebombs are firm, about 30 minutes. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with the Spiced Cocoa Mix, and toss gently until lightly coated. Place the coarse salt on a plate and dip the top of each Fudgebomb into the salt until a few grains stick to the top.

Store in the refrigerator but allow to come to room temperature before eating for the best flavor.

Melissa “Melicious” Joulwan is the author of the blog  The Clothes Make The Girl and the book Rollergirl: Totally True Tales From The Track. She CrossFits, eats paleo, and loves Prague, Jane Eyre, and lifting heavy things. Her cookbook Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat will be published in December 2011. Find her on twitter (@melicious11) and Facebook.

Caveman Thai Grilled Chicken With Garlic Zucchini Noodles

August 29

The Spice & Tea Exchange continues our Guest Blogger Series with a post from The Clothes Make the Girl blogger Melissa Joulwan.  We invite you to enjoy a look at paleo eating using our products! ~ Sharity

I like rules, and I love following recipes – mostly because I feel virtuous when I obey them and because occasionally breaking out of them is delicious fun. Which partially explains why I enjoy following the paleo diet.

Sometimes called the primal or caveman diet, paleo eating is based on the idea that we feel our best when we mimic the nutrition of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. I know! It sounds a little groovy or like something from science fiction. But what it boils down to for everyday meals is this: avoid grains –  especially the ones that contain gluten – dairy, legumes, and excess sugar. These foods, while often tasty, can make most people feel less than their best. That’s a lot of favorite comfort foods on the “no” list, right?

That’s why it’s important to focus on the “yes” list instead. Think of every kind of meat, seafood, vegetable, and fruit you can. Go on! Imagine your list… keep going. Now imagine yummy fat sources like coconuts and avocados and olives. That’s a lot of wonderful food! And those are the foods that make up the paleo diet.

I’ve been eating this way for two years. I don’t think I would have been able to stick with it if I hadn’t learned how to cook food that’s every bit as delicious as “regular” food. Exotic, fragrant spices are a big part of my cooking. An unassuming piece of chicken and so-good-for-you zucchini can become a “make it again” dinner with the right dusting of seasonings. Which is how I ended up eating Thai Grilled Chicken with Garlic Zucchini Noodles for dinner last night.

We’ve had 68 days of 101+ temperatures here in Austin, Texas, and when it’s that hot outside, the air conditioner struggles to keep us cool inside, so I’ve been relying on the grill. Any day I don’t have to use the stove too much is a good day! A short marinade in Coconut Thai Blend gave my chicken a kick of ginger, a little heat, and the sweetness of coconut. Instead of pasta noodles, I used a julienne peeler to turn the summer bounty of zucchini into gluten-free, veggie noodles. Tossed with fruity extra-virgin olive oil and Vik’s Garlic Fix, they made a luscious bed for the chicken.

Caveman Thai Grilled Chicken


2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
2 tablespoons Coconut Thai Blend
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1. In a large bowl, combine the oil and  Coconut Thai Blend. Place the chicken in the bowl, toss until coated with marinade, then cover and refrigerate, 20 minutes.

2. Heat a gas grill on high heat, with the lid closed. Grill the chicken about 5 minutes per side, until cooked through and nicely browned.

Garlic Zucchini Noodles
4 small zucchini
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons Vik’s Garlic Fix

1. Use a julienne peeler or mandoline slicer to cut the zucchini into noodles. Place the noodles in a colander or sieve sprinkel generously with salt, and allow to “sweat” for 20 minutes. Rinse the noodles under running water and pat dry with paper towels.

2. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and saute the noodles until just tender, about 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, push the noodles to the side of the pan, and add the olive oil. Add Vik’s Garlic Fix to the oil and stir until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and stir the noodles into the oil until well coated.

A garnish of raw vegetables – cucumbers and red peppers are a particularly delicious combo – is a cool contrast to the spicy chicken and garlicky zucchini noodles… and you can never get too many veggies!

About Melissa
Melissa “Melicious” Joulwan is the author of the blog The Clothes Make The Girl and the book Rollergirl: Totally True Tales From The Track. She CrossFits, eats paleo, and loves Prague, Jane Eyre, and lifting heavy things. Her cookbook Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat will be published in December 2011. Find her on twitter and Facebook.


Individual Vegetarian Greek Pizza

July 13

The Spice & Tea Exchange continues our guest blogger series with this delightful twist on pizza -enjoy! Sharity

Hello, my name is Tori and I write about being a vegetarian cancer survivor on my blog- Fresh Fruition. As a full-time college student I gravitate towards recipes that embody two terms: quick and simple. As a vegetarian I often come across those who worry that meatless meals might lack flavor- not the case; especially not with The Spice & Tea Exchange blends. This individual Greek pizza is anything but bland, and- get this- it only takes a few minutes to make!

Individual Greek Pita Pizza


  • 1 tablespoon red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 grape tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon green pepper, chopped
  • 2 kalamata olives, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon hummus
  • 1/4 teaspoon TSTE Greek Seasoning
  • 1 small whole wheat pita
  • 1/4 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)


Spread- no, not the traditional tomato sauce- hummus (I used a sun-dried tomato variety) evenly across the pita.

Place the green pepper and olives on top of the

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Now, add the red onion and grape tomato.

Sprinkle the feta cheese evenly on top.

And now for the secret (well, not really since it's previously listed) ingredient that makes this pizza pop with flavor- the Greek Seasoning blend!

Bake on an bare baking sheet at 350 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the pita is crisp and the cheese has browned. Drizzle on the olive oil, if you so desire.

Slice your masterpiece into 4 sections and enjoy! The great thing about this recipe is its versatility- don't like olives? Leave them out! Not a big fan of red onion? Use less! This completely customizable pizza is quick, easy, delicious, and filling. Bon appetit! Oh, wait. That's not Greek! Err, kalí óreksi!