Pizza is common food for family nights everywhere, but the dinner menu can also be a great bonding time if you turn away from take-out and offer homemade pizza making as a fun, tasty project everyone will enjoy.
Pizza is a great dinner option, particularly if you throw away the delivery man’s phone number and make it yourself. It is not hard, and you can control the ingredients that actually go into your dinner by making it at home. And, it is a fun way to get the family working together as a team. Additionally, pizza is very versatile for families who have eaters with a range of varying tastes!
Start with a Great Dough
A great pizza begins with a great pizza dough. There are a lot of options. One, you can buy your dough. Sometimes pizzerias will actually sell portions of their doughs to customers, and you can usually get ready-made pizza dough in the fresh and/or freezer section of your grocery store. Be sure to check the ingredients of any ready-made doughs you consider, and eliminate ones that contain ingredients you do not want, like high fructose corn syrup or too much salt. But, if you want to make your own pizza dough, there are lots of recipes out there. You may already have your own! But, if not, here is one easy bread machine option that I have used many times successfully:
You Will Need:
- ¾ C Water (80 degrees F/27 degrees C)
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp. Sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2-1/4 C Bread Flour
- 2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
- 1 tsp. yeast
Place ingredients in your bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer’s directions (the order given works for my machine). Begin “dough” cycle. After a few minutes, check to see if you need to add any additional water; do so, if needed.
While your dough is making is the perfect time, by the way, to get your pizza toppings ready—whatever you like. Get creative. I like veggie pizza; Mark likes BBQ chicken. So, while the dough cycle is going, we chop veggies, sauté chicken, and choose our sauces and cheeses. It makes it so much easier, having everything ready to go and spread out in front of you, instead of trying to chop, grab and search the fridge while you are topping your pizzas. As a bonus, when you are working with kids, it gives them a good lesson about how organization is important--and they won't even realize they are being taught!
After the cycle is complete, remove dough to a lightly floured surface. This dough will be sufficient for one 12” thick-crust pizza, or two thin crusts. It will also be good for 4-6 individual pizzas. So, simply divide the dough as you need. And, don't worry about everyone making perfect circles with their crusts; sometimes the most delicious pizzas are the most uniquely shaped.
Perfect Portion Control
I have found in my home that it is easier to just make separate pizzas than to try and make a single pizza with two halves. There is always an annoying overlap of my veggie pizza and Mark’s BBQ pizza, and so we decided that just making two pizzas is the way to go—try this in your house to keep the peace. You can make the pizzas as large or as small as you would like, as well: perfect portion control.
Get Everyone into the Build!
When everyone has their dough shaped and on a pan (no, it does not have to be a pizza pan; a couple of individual pizzas usually fit well on a cookie sheet) you are ready to begin building your pizzas, so preheat your oven to 425. After spreading out the dough, everyone can begin to build a pizza to suit their own tastes. My typical pizza: sauce (8 oz. no-salt-added tomato sauce; 2 Tbsp. minced garlic; 1 Tbsp. dried oregano leaves; ¼ tsp. sea salt; 1/8 tsp. black pepper; 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper) topped generously with Parmesan cheese, pickled jalapenos, olives, spinach leaves, onions, green peppers, tomato slices (de-seeded) and shredded mozzarella cheese. Into the preheated oven, bottom rack, for 18-20 minutes. [By the way, if the tomato slices leave your pizza a bit watery on top, even after de-seeding, setting your pizza onto the top rack of the oven for about 3-5 minutes while the other pizza is cooking should remedy the problem, and won’t negatively affect the overall preparation of either pizza.]
Mark’s pizza taste is completely different than mine: BBQ sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano leaves, onions (sliced as rings), sautéed chicken and Cheddar cheese. But, when it is time for his pizza to go in the oven, it is the same: 425 oven, bottom rack, 18-20 minutes.
Pizza Time, Family Time
Such good pizza—so much better than take-out—and so much fun making it! Get your family together for pizza night, and make it more than just the night you eat pizza from the box: Make it a real family night in the kitchen.
Want to see Mark's BBQ Chicken Pizza? Visit Huliq on Facebook!
What are your favorite pizza toppings Huliq readers? Have a great sauce suggestion? The perfect crust? Leave your suggestions in the comment box below!
Image: From the Kitchen of Mechele R. Dillard
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