Friday, May 28, 2010
Yay – it’s Friday :o) And for me (it’s SP lol) – that means FOOD FRIDAY here at the blog! I’ll be honest with you – I had planned to do a very different food post today, but need to wait on permissions before I can share it with you – so, today – we are going with something super simple and that EVERYONE seems to love! PIZZA! Pizza is a staple in our house lol! We have it at least a couple of times a week. We used to rely on frozen pizza or delivery – but making your own is sooooo much better, and not to mention healthier since you can control the ingredients :o) So, I thought I’d share our ‘famous’ (lol) garden pizza recipe…a 6×4 garden pizza recipe card, and some tips and variations along the way!
I know that in the past…making ‘home-made’ pizza just sounded toooo difficult. And, I guess if you were making your own pizza dough/crust – it might be (well, it would be for me anyway lol). But, when you take some pre-made items and combine them with delicious and healthy fresh vegetables – it is sooooo simple! It is literally faster than delivery :o) Don’t get me wrong – there are times when delivery just works…you’ve had a long day, you’re tired and don’t want to stand in the kitchen…or you’re simply out of ingredients lol, etc. But, when you can, why not make something ‘custom’ and oh so good?!
I want to first mention a few ideas and tips before we get started! First…summer is almost here and it is that wonderful time of year when we seem to enjoy grilling and being outdoors so much. So, do not limit yourself to cooking your pizza in the oven – try it on the GRILL instead! Or, if you are hosting a party, why not make it a pizza party? We buy both the ‘personal’ size pizza crusts as well as the large. But, the personal sizes lend themselves so well to letting everyone build their own custom pizzas! So, set up a ‘toppings’ bar with all of the ingredients and let everyone have fun creating their perfect pizza (especially great for the kids)!
And, while our version is a GARDEN pizza, of course you could add all kinds of meat toppings (pepperoni, italian sausage, hamburger, canadian bacon, etc.). You could also have fun adding pineapple – or make a dessert pizza instead! That is the wonderful thing about pizza – the options are endless!
So, let’s get to the recipe (dont’ miss the free recipe card download below) and then I’ll add a few more ideas/tips :o)
(keep in mind that many of these are optional)
pre-made pizza crust
pizza sauce (marinara or pasta)
crushed red peppers
monterey jack cheese
fresh parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and then it is as simple as ‘building’ your pizza! Start with your pizza crust and then add sauce (any kind of marinara or pasta sauce – whatever is your favorite!). Now add your crushed peppers if you like them (we find that adding them to the sauce layer helps them to become part of the pizza instead of sprinkling them on top). If you love garlic (optional), add it now (adding it to the sauce layer will keep it from burning). Combine the mozzarella, monterey jack and romano cheeses and add your herbs to the mixture (basil and rosemary – as much as you like). Add the cheese mixture to your pizza. Now it’s time to stack the tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and mushrooms (all are optional). Last, sprinkle some fresh grated parmesan cheese and feta cheese (save some for a garnish, too). Bake for 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of your pizza and how crispyyou want it – you might have to go a little longer – just keep an eye on it and take it out when YOU think it is perfect). Before serving, sprinkle with fresh parmesan and feta, and garnish with basil leaves. ENJOY!
When it comes to the crust – OF COURSE you can make your own…but we really like the BOBOLI brand pizza crusts (they even have wheat if you can find it). There are many brands and options, so just experiment and find what you like best :o) Before spreading the sauce, you CAN drizzle some fresh and good olive oil over the crust if you like :o) When it comes to SAUCE…this is TOTALLY personal preference! We all like something different – some prefer chunky, some smooth – some like spicy, others don’t…then there are flavors like garlic and herb, etc. Generally, whatever you like on your pasta and spaghetti will probably be pretty great on your pizza, too! Personally – we love NEWMAN’S OWN MARINARA SAUCE :o) Now, if you REALLY want to splurge (i’m talking price AND calories/fat here lol) – you can use a delicious, creamy (and rich) tomato basil soup as your sauce. We LOVE La Madeleine’s tomato basil soup – but do not eat it very often simply because it is sooooo rich lol! We can find the jars at our local grocery store…but the restaurant will sell them, too! Again, this is just a fun little idea! We discovered it one time when we got everything ready to make pizzas and then realized we were out of sauce! I saw the soup jar sitting on the shelf and though, hey – why not?! lol! It was YUMMY lol :o) almost TOOOOOO yummy!
Now, on to the toppings – again, these are pretty much all optional and can vary by your personal tastes and preferences! We sprinkle our crushed red peppers and fresh garlic directly on the sauce layer. This keeps the garlic from burning, and really ‘melds’ the peppers to the sauce so they are not so harsh (as they can sometimes be when you sprinkle them on top at the end). When it comes to cheeses and herbs – we find it easiest to combine all of these (mozzarella, monterey jack and romano cheeses, and basil/rosemary). I know that monterey jack cheese is not something you usually see on pizza, lol – but we have found that it adds a great ‘bite’…AND…it gets a little ‘brown’ in the oven, which also adds great flavor! You can add as much or as little basil (and rosemary) as you like. But, I suggest adding at least a little as it really adds to the overall flavor of the pizza :o) For the veggies…we pretty much add whatever we have (although I will NOT eat mushrooms lol..so those only go on half of the pizza, hubby loves them). Simply cut and slice everything to the desired size and stack on the cheese layer. Of course, you could also add olives or anchovies (sorry, we just do not eat either…so they got left off the list lolol)! Finally, we add just a little feta and fresh parmesan cheese (not the kind in the can :o)) on top. You can also drizzle the pizza with a little olive oil, and then pop it in the oven. NOTE: we place our pizza directly on the center rack (we place a sheet of foil on the rack underneath to catch any cheese, etc. that might slide off while cooking/melting) and end up with a perfectly crisp crust! You could also use a pizza stone (if you have one), or again – go for the GRILL! The cooking time really depends on how you like your pizza! If you want a softer crust – keep an eye on it and take it out when it’s perfect for you. If you like a crispy crust, you’ll need to leave it in a bit longer :o)
When the pizza is perfect, simply sprinkle on a little more parmesan and feta (if you like it) and garnish with basil leaves :o) THAT’S it! I know it probably sounds like a long process…but our pizzas are done (start to finish) in about 30 minutes. Not bad for a yummy and fresh dinner, full of great veggies (and that the kids love, too…granted you might need to leave off the onions, etc. depending on what they will eat – our little man pretty much does sauce, cheese and tomatoes lol)! You can even go with low-fat/part skim cheeses if you like…but, we go ahead and splurge on the cheese since everything else is pretty healthy! So, I hope you will give this recipe a try – it is great for family game/movie night…or just a fun dinner that the kids can help with (they love ‘decorating’ the pizzas)! HAVE FUN :o)
Here is the recipe card…it is 6×4″ – just print it out and add it to your recipe box!
Thanks for stopping by today! For all of you in the States…have a WONDERFUL and SAFE Memorial Day weekend! We’ll be back tomorrow for the LOTW post…and then will see you again on Tuesday :o)