Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tips for Great Homemade Pizza

We started the tradition of pizza and movie night on Fridays.  It's our family tradition that lets my husband and I breathe a little while the kids enjoy a new movie.  I'm not going to lie, sometimes I'm just too tired to make my own pizza - we order from our favorite local pizzeria that knows our address well.  But for those times I'm feeling motivated and looking for an activity to do with the kids, we make our own pizza.

This all started with the gifts I received from my parents this past Christmas - a traditional pizza stone, deep dish pizza stone, and a pizza peel.  We began to experiment with different combinations of pizza toppings and of course our favorite, pepperoni.  The best part of making it yourself is that you can control all of the ingredients:  no nitrate added meats, part-skim mozzarella, fresh veggies, and even whole wheat crust if you want.  You get a much healthier pizza with all your favorite stuff!

Below you will find my tips for making the BEST homemade pizza.   Give it a try - nothing to fear but deliciousness.

Happy Cooking!

Nitrate-free Pepperoni and Sopressata - my husband claims its the best pizza he ever had!
Tips For GREAT Homemade Pizza

For the ingredients:

  • find your favorite store-bought pizza dough, white, wheat or otherwise (some places make herb or garlic flavors) or make your favorite pizza dough recipe in advance.  My favorite is from Whole Foods
  • experiment with different bottled pizza or pasta sauces (or make your own).  My favorite is Simply Enjoy Marinara, found at my local grocery store
  • find your favorite toppings, and healthier versions of them if you are willing and able to spend the money (organic, nitrate-free, made from part-skim milk, etc)

For the prep work:

  • preheat your oven to 450 degrees and allow to pizza stone to pre-heat at 450 for 30 min before beginning
  • get your kids involved or have a pizza making party with your closest friends and family!  As you can see from the pictures below, my kids LOVE to make their own pizza and are so proud of their creations.  (you can take one ball of store bought dough and split in 2-4 mini pizzas).  Plus they seem to have no problem eating all of their dinner when its something that they, themselves, made.  

Below are pictures of the kids pizzas they made themselves, before and after cooking.

Cooking time:

  • I swear by pre-baking your dough!   Roll your dough out, being generous with flour so it doesn't stick.  Shake the access flour off after you've rolled it out to size, the size of your pizza stone.  Using a spatula, your hands, or a pizza peel, place the dough on the stone and bake at 450 degrees for 6-8 minutes (just enough time for the dough to be cooked but not browned or crispy yet).  Remove from the oven.  Don't worry if any air pockets formed - just press them out...beware of the hot, steamy air that comes out so you don't burn yourself.
  • Place all your favorite toppings on top of the pre-baked dough.  If you don't have a pizza peel, I would use a large cutting board and a spatula to assist you with transporting the pizza on and off the pizza stone.  Place pizza back in the oven at 450 for an additional 6-10 minutes, depending on how doughy or crispy you like your crust.  

Some of our favorite flavor combinations have been:

  • shredded mozzarella, pepperoni, mushroom, black olive, and spinach
  • spinach, kalamata olives, sun dried tomato, artichokes, feta cheese (this tastes delicious with tomato sauce, pesto, or with plan old olive oil and garlic)
  • meatball, fresh mozzarella, roasted red pepper, and onion

Be creative!  Make it your own and you may never order another pizza again!!!  Enjoy!

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