Pizza is usually our go-to fallback meal when we don’t feel like cooking. We currently have three favorite spots within a mile of our house. We alternate by which toppings we’re in the mood for. (We have a favorite combination at each place.) But, pizza is super easy to make at home! If I’m in charge, I just throw it in the oven on a pizza stone; if Hubby is in charge, he kicks it up a notch and throws it on the Big Green Egg. If you have kiddos at home who love to help in the kitchen, this is a great meal to get them involved. You could even make personal pizzas so that everyone can have his or her favorite topping combination! (Just thinking out loud here, but this would be a fabulous choice for a family movie night. 😉 )
Most grocery stores sell prepared dough in their bakeries. (Trader Joe’s even has a whole wheat option!) I used to make my own pizza dough all the time, but I got into the habit of picking it up at the store instead. I usually ended up grocery shopping on my way home from work, and pizza was a quick meal to throw together when getting home late and out of energy. (Grocery shopping is exhausting, y’all! 😀 ) I’m trying to do a better job of grocery shopping either on the weekends or first thing in the morning, so that I’m not too worn out to cook after filling up my fridge and pantry! I’ve always loved the irony of unpacking a kitchen full of fresh fruits and veggies only to pick up the phone to order take-out instead of throwing together an easy meal. Trust me, I am very guilty of this! One of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules that has stuck with me, though, is to make your own junk food. I have an *unofficial* goal of trying to make at home those processed foods we do buy, primarily bread. I tend to shop out of the fresh bakery section of whichever grocery store I’m in, but some of their “artisinal” recipes can really put a dent in my wallet. Breads are actually easy to make at home; it just takes a little trial and error to find your favorite recipe!
As I said before, I used to make my own pizza dough all the time, and I’ve decided it’s time to bring back the homemade dough. I “cheat” and make it in my bread maker. While not a necessary piece of equipment, it certainly simplifies the process! (You can also use a stand mixer with a dough hook!) All I do is throw in my ingredients, select pizza dough, and wait about an hour. At this point, the dough has been kneaded and risen. I just leave it in the bread maker until I’m ready for it, and it’s ready to go. Now, the fun begins! Use your favorite toppings or follow the recipe below for our favorite combination.
I mentioned above that we have three favorite pizza spots. Well, we actually have four. All of you ATLiens know the spot of which I speak: the one that quickly became and continues to be a hot spot, the one where you can BYOB, and the one where you MAY just have to stand around with pizza box in hand until a seat opens up at one of the communal tables. 😉 Antico is not on our normal rotation just because of the convenience factor; parking can be difficult, and while they take phone orders, they don’t actually place your pizza in the oven until you have shown up and paid. But, the pizza is AMAZING! Our favorite is their San Gennaro. It’s a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy with the best little red peppers I’ve ever tasted. Seriously. So. Good. One night we were making pizza at home, and we were at The Fresh Market (around the corner from us = very dangerous!) picking up the ingredients. Lo and behold, we saw those same little red peppers on the antipasto bar. Could it really be? We, of course, grabbed some, and now, no pizza is complete without their bright cherry red goodness. You will thank me for this tip 😉
Sweet Pepper Pizza
1 1/2 plus 2 TBS water
2 TBS EVOO
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cane sugar
2 tsp yeast (I buy the jar that I then keep in the refrigerator; more bang for your buck, and it will last awhile.)
Pizza sauce (Just use some tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes)
Italian Seasoning (a couple pinches)
8 oz Mozzarella Log (Use the fresh stuff; I’m a fan of whole milk dairy – none of that low- or non-fat for me!)
1/4 LB sweet red peppers (Fill the smallest container at the antipasto bar)
In a bread maker, pour in the liquid ingredients first (water and EVOO). Then, add the flour, salt and sugar without mixing with the water. (I like to use a knife or spoon to gently scoop the flour out of the measuring cup to avoid splashes!) Make a small indentation in the middle of the pan right next to the mixing blade. Add the yeast. My bread maker has a pizza dough setting, and it takes 55 minutes.
Once the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 500°F. Cover a pizza stone with cornmeal and place in the oven to preheat. On a flat surface (I like to use a pizza pan or other sheet pan for easy transfer), spread a generous amount of cornmeal and roll out the dough. Keep your fingers wet to avoid sticking. Don’t worry too much about making a perfect circle. Next, add the sauce. If using tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, add a sprinkle of salt and a few pinches of Italian seasoning. Next, spread whole fresh basil leaves on top of the sauce. Then, add slices of mozzarella, and finish off with the sweet red peppers. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is starting to brown.
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