I love pizza. But then again, who doesn't love pizza? I know there will be some deranged person out there who probably doesn't love pizza. If you don't love pizza, you must have some serious taste bud issues. Maybe hypogeusia or dysgeusia? I say, see a doctor.
As far back as I can remember, pizza has always been a treat. As a kid my favorite was kind was Canadian Bacon and Pineapple. There is just something delicious about the combination of sweet, salty, spicy and cheesy. It blends the best of all worlds into one tasty pizza!
When my husband and I were first married, we regularly had pizza delivered. It was quick, easy and, well, delicious. In a pinch, a frozen pizza curbed the craving. As we plunged into the uncharted waters of "single income family with kids", we cut back on our expenses. Sadly, eating out (which included delivery in) was almost completely eliminated.
Why not just stick with frozen pizzas at this point, you say? At first glance, that seems like a simple solution. The problem is that in my first pregnancy I had some cravings (Mexican food with all the fixings) and only a few aversions. The primary culprit: frozen pizza. There was just something about the smell of frozen pizza cooking that completely turned my stomach. I don't know what "they" put in frozen pizza, but I still have some residual aversion to this day. (I hear you, maybe I am the one who should be seeing a doctor.)
Around this time I also began to explore the possibility of making pizza at home. I started out using Trader Joe's Pizza Dough. I stored it in my freezer and defrosted it when the pizza urge hit. Next I found pizza dough at the San Francisco Street Bakery. Sometimes, though, their dough was sold mostly frozen and took too long to defrost for dinner. Soon I realized that it probably wouldn't take much longer than the defrost time to actually make the dough myself.
After trying out several pizza dough recipes, I finally settled on the one in my Betty Crocker's Cookbook. One thing I really like about this recipe is that the dough only needs to rest/rise for 30 minutes! It is still kind of time consuming, but totally worth the effort.
This looked like the dough was sufficiently leaving the sides of the bowl, so this is where I stopped.
I like to use my kitchen table to knead. The height just works better for me. (I know, I am just asking for short jokes right about now.) Seriously, it is much easier and a lot less work to knead on the lower surface.
I may have gotten a little carried away with the olive oil this time. It looked like my dough was practically floating in the olive oil. I just figure, olive oil is good for you, right? It adds great flavor, right? And you know what else? My dough didn't stick to my bowl.
Check out this post.) Start that sauteing in some olive oil. Add in a generous amount of fresh garlic. I just had to show you this single huge clove from my garden. Amazing, isn't it?
Dump in your spices. I say dump because that is what I really do. I never measure spices. Never.
In the bottom right of the picture is my dumping of basil. The other large pile is a dumping of oregano. Bottom left is a small pile of crushed red chili peppers, which add a slight spiciness and make it truly taste like pizza sauce. Near the top is some fresh ground black pepper. I know it would have been twice as delicious if I would have used fresh spices, but I don't always have them on hand.
Stir the sauce. Let this concoction of yumminess simmer. The longer it simmers the more delicious it will be.
Grab your bowl o' dough and smile, enjoying how much the dough has risen in just 30 minutes.
Dump the dough onto your 15" pizza stone. I use my rolling pin and roll my pizza out the size of the pizza stone. Honestly, I am too scared of dropping the pizza dough to attempt throwing it. This makes a semi-thick crust pizza. (The recipe actually says to use it for 2 - 12" pizzas.)
Pop the pizza dough into the preheated oven. Partially bake for 7-8 minutes or until crust just begins to brown.
While the crust is baking, assemble your toppings. We enjoy many different toppings, but this time I went super simple. I just used pepperoni.
Applegate Farms makes my current favorite pepperoni. I love that it doesn't have any bad stuff (nitrates, nitrites, hormones, MSG, etc.) And it tastes delicious!!!
These pepperonis are very large, so I cut them into quarters.
Grate a nice big pile of cheese. Or ask your husband to grate it for you, like I did. Didn't he do a great job?
My favorite combination of cheeses is Mozzarella, Cheddar and Parmesan. There is just something about adding the Parmesan that makes the pizza so yummy.
Grab your partially cooked pizza crust from the oven. I like to set mine on a silicone trivet. It protects the counter and keeps the pizza stone from sliding.
Pull your pot of finished pizza sauce from the stove. (If you want pre-made pizza sauce, Trader Joe's makes some great sauce.)
Slather your crust with this sauce. This is either enough sauce for a very generous saucing on this pizza or enough to use half now and freeze the other half for when the next homemade pizza craving hits.
Add a sprinkling of cheese, a thick layer of pepperoni (or your toppings of choice) and a final nice thick layer of cheese.
Bake your pizza for another 10 or so minutes, or until the cheese is melted and sufficiently bubbly.
Now for the best part: eat. I enjoy watching my kids devour their dinner, making plenty of satisfied gulping and lip smacking noises. Yes, that is the real reason why I love making homemade pizza.