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Pizza is the perfect food to serve for any kind of gathering... a game night, a last minute dinner, cooked ahead for a picnic lunch or cut up small to serve as an "appetizer-type" food.
When I was planning my food for my party, I was originally thinking I would run out and pick up a couple of the fresh (not frozen) pre-made pizzas at Costco. They've actually got a nice range of different toppings (from 4-cheese, tomato and provolone to bacon, ham and pepperoni), are super quick to bake (8-10 minutes in the oven) and are quite good and cheap ($12 for two). However - since I was hosting the "event" to raise money, I thought it would be a good idea to keep my costs as low as possible. A quick calculation told me that by using the ingredients I already had on hand to make my own home-made pizza (dough and toppings), I would save at least $12.
And I decided to try and make my own pizza from scratch for the very first time. There's really nothing like a gang coming over to entice me to try something new in my kitchen...
I found a simple recipe one of my favorite food blogs, Backseat Gourmet, via another one of my favorite food blogs, Simple Bites.
I have to be honest and say that I was skeptical at first. (1) I didn't know if it would be worth the trouble (2) I thought it would be a lot more trouble (and mess) than it was (I learned that it's much easier to simply allow the kitchen aid to do the work for me and skip the whole - dough stuck all over my hands - step!) and (3) pizza without tomato sauce... hmmm?
I was super happy with the result. The dough made a nice thin crust and the toppings I chose to try made the pizza seem a little more "refined" and "healthy". I'm seriously considering making all my pizza from scratch... making and freezing my dough in advance to save time on busy evenings.
2 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
1. Stir together water and yeast. Let sit for a few minutes until it is foamy, or the yeast has bloomed.
2. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Create a well in the center of the flour. Pour the water, yeast, and olive oil into the well. Start incorporating the liquids, (if you have a stand mixer or food processor, I highly recommend skipping this next part and simply letting the dough come together with the help of your appliances - it will save a lot of time and mess) using a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula. You will likely have to switch to mixing with your hands. Once it has come together as a dough, dump it out on a floured counter top. Knead for just a few minutes until the dough is smooth.
3. Divide into four equal portions. Cover lightly with a lightly damp tea towel and let rest for an hour. (Depending on how many pizzas you're making, freeze what you aren't using by simply wrapping your balls of dough tightly in plastic wrap and throwing them in your freezer. When you're ready to use them, take them out to thaw and roll them out to make pizza)
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
5. Add the toppings of your choice.
6. Bake on baking sheet or pizza stone for about 10 minutes.
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1-2 tbsp olive oil
asparagus (boiled for 1 minute to soften)
grape tomatoes (halved)
Philadelphia "chive" cream cheese
Sun-dried tomatoes (sliced)
Cheddar & Mozzarella cheese