Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Family Pizza Night

We've accidentally developed a little pizza night tradition in our family.  Somehow, Sunday nights became synonymous with pizza just as much as Sunday mornings are with pancakes.  We are creatures of habit and when it comes to two of our favorite foods, why not?!  After realizing that we were spending quite a bit each month on weekly pizza nights, we decided to start making our own, with the occasional ordering out.  We've experimented with a couple different crust recipes, and made some fun discoveries, including the best breadsticks ever.  These aren't so much my own originals, but more of my collection of pizza night favorites in case my girls ever find their sentimental sides and want to duplicate it someday (hey, a mama can hope, right?).  Here's how our family does Sunday pizza night:


Martha Stewart's Quick Basic Pizza Dough - this dough is not only easy, but also super versatile.  It makes a nice hand-tossed or thin crust and THE BEST BREADSTICKS!  I like to use 3 c. all-purpose and 1 c. whole wheat flour.

  • 2 packets (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl and brushing
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface

  1. Pour 1 1/2 cups warm water into a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk sugar, oil, and salt into yeast mixture. Add flour and stir until a sticky dough forms. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and brush top with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead 1 or 2 times before using.
  3. To freeze, you can wrap the dough in plastic and freeze it in a resealable freezer bag for up to 3 months. If you plan to use it in a recipe that calls for half a batch, divide it before freezing.

We all have our favorite pizza toppings, so we usually split the dough into four smaller pizzas (it will make two large baking sheet-sized pizzas with a thicker crust or four with a thin crust).  Since the girls both like pepperoni and black olive, we usually make three pizzas and use the fourth for breadsticks for dessert pizza (yea, I went there!).  If you're using a pizza stone, preheat it in the oven and do not grease it.  Since we make several at once, we use big baking sheets and lightly grease the pans (Don't forget this step for regular pans, or it will stick!).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Once you've rolled out the dough, poked it with a fork a few times, and decided on toppings, bake at 425 degrees for 16-20 minutes. (varies depending on how many you are cooking at once, how many toppings you put on, etc.)  If baking more than one at a time, be sure to rotate top and bottom racks part way through baking.

Some of our favorite combinations: 
- pizza sauce, cheddar/mozzarella, pepperoni & olives (girls' favorite)
- barbeque/pizza sauce, cheddar, pepperoni, salami, olives & peppers (Michael's favorite)
- olive oil, zatter spice, feta, sliced roma tomatoes, kalamata olives, mozzarella (Mama's favorite)
- piquant sauce, ground beef, cheddar cheese, pickles & black pepper (cheeseburger pizza)
- ranch/bleu cheese dressing, cheddar/mozzarella, grilled chicken, onions, buffalo sauce drizzle (buffalo chicken)
- refried beans, taco meat, Mexican cheese blend, green onions, diced tomato, black & green olives (taco pizza)

update:  I've found that if you will be adding a lot of toppings/sauce and want a thinner crust, it's best to precook the crust for about 3-4 minutes before adding toppings.

I usually use 1/4-1/2 of the recipe, depending on how many I want to make (1/4 of the dough makes around 6-8 breadsticks).  Using the same dough recipe above, knead the dough a couple times, then form into a roughly rectangular shape, about 8" high, 12" wide (if it's a little smaller, that's ok because it will rise some).   Using a knife or a pizza cutter, slice dough into 1.5" wide sticks.  Place into a greased baking dish and allow to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes or so, until risen slightly.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Melt 2 T. butter and brush over the top while still hot. Sprinkle with garlic powder and kosher salt.

Apple Streusel Dessert Pizza:
On the occasional special pizza night, we will make dessert pizza instead of breadsticks with the fourth crust.  This recipe is my tried and true favorite.  I haven't even bothered to alter it or make up my own because I love it so much.  For a short time when I was pregnant with Emma, I made this pizza at least weekly.  I never use all the icing and I use the same crust as above instead of her dough recipe, but other than that, no changes from this original from Mel's Kitchen Café. 

(using 1/4 of the dough recipe above)
Cinnamon Streusel Topping:
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened

  • Apple Topping:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Glaze:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven.
    2. For the cinnamon streusel topping, stir together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add the soft butter and mix with a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is well-distributed.
    3. For the apple mixture, heat the butter in a 10- or 12-inch skillet until melted. Add the chopped apples, brown sugar and cinnamon, and cook, stirring often, until the apples are tender (but not mushy) and the mixture is thick and bubbly, 4-5 minutes.
    4. Press the dough into a 16-inch pizza pan (or it can be stretched into a rectangular baking sheet if that is all you have). The dough should be about 1/4-inch thick. Scoop spoonfuls of the apple mixture over the dough. It won't cover the dough completely, just distribute the apples as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the cinnamon streusel over the top of the apples. Let the pizza rest for about 10 minutes to allow the dough to puff slightly.

    1. Bake the pizza for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are browned and the pizza topping is hot and bubbly. While the pizza bakes, prepare the glaze by heating the butter and milk in a medium saucepan until melted. Add the vanilla. Mix in the powdered sugar gradually, whisking to combine until the glaze is smooth.
    2. Let the pizza rest for 10 minutes before drizzling the glaze over the top (you can also drizzle glaze on each individual piece as it is served). Serve the pizza warm. Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated briefly in the microwave.

    Well, now that everyone is on carb overload, I hope you've enjoyed this little glimpse of one of our favorite food-related traditions. All in moderation... Happy pizza night! :)

    Emma's 2nd birthday Snoopy pizza

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