No Fuss Pizza Night

pizzas

When the house is a mess and the cat’s “on the fritz,” the best thing to do is to make pizza. Tell everyone to put the vacuums and plungers away because it’s pizza-making time. Trust me. They’ll leave you alone because they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. That’s when you can roll up your sleeves and show them a thing or two about making pizza.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1) A cat-free environment. Sometimes a child-proof gate works, but not always.

2) Ingredients for the crust:

2-3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 packet of fast-rising or “pizza dough” yeast

1 ¼ cups warm water

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

3) Toppings:

“The Kennedy Family ‘Usual’ Toppings:”

–Any pizza sauce you like—or scroll down to see the heading below for “Home-Made Sauce.”

–Pepperoni—or sausage or whatever you like. Nate and Alex like pepperoni.

–Vegetables—I like chopped baby bell peppers in a variety of colors, some onion, and banana peppers. (Nate doesn’t like any of these things on his pizza, but Alex does.)

–Shredded mozzarella cheese. The amount? It depends: In our house, Nate likes lots of cheese. Alex only likes about a ¼ of a cup. (Alex thinks that gobs of stringy, melted cheese is gross. It’s a “texture thing.”)

OR, You Could Try:

“Street Taco Inspired Toppings:”

–Salsa—scroll down to see the heading below for “Cecilia’s Salsa.”

–1 can of black beans—rinsed and drained—seasoned with some salt, ground cumin, and garlic powder

–a few cooked, boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders—seasoned with a bit of salt, cumin, and ground chili powder

–marinated red cabbage—scroll down to see the heading below titled “Marinated Red Cabbage.” (This ingredient could be made a day ahead so that it has time to marinate.)

To make the dough:

1) In a bowl, mix the warm water with the packet of yeast. Then, wait five minutes. The yeast is supposed to eventually “bloom.” Mine usually just kind of “fizzes.” That doesn’t stop me from continuing with the next steps:

2) Add the sugar and the salt. (Sometimes that really gets the yeast going, but typically not for me. I’m not particularly concerned though, so I move on to the next steps:)

3) Add a cup of flour and stir until you have a smooth mixture. Continue to add enough flour so that you can turn the dough out onto a flat surface and knead it.

4) Knead the dough for about ten minutes.

5) If you can let the dough rise while you run a child to swim practice, answer some emails, and organize your sock drawer, the dough will be nice and puffy. I don’t even cover it. Usually though I’m in a bit of a hurry, so I just let it sit—uncovered—next to the oven while I let the oven warm up for ten minutes.

6) After ten minutes—or a long movie—you can turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Cut it in half. (Or you can make individual size pizzas: probably 3-4.) Roll the dough portions into any shape you want. Some people like round pizzas. Some like square pizzas. I prefer a more rustic, oblong-shaped pizza because I’m not good at making squares or circles.

7) Liberally poke the dough with the prongs of a fork. (My mother and I once skipped this step when we were making pizza and the dough exploded all over the oven. Ah, memories.)

8) Place your toppings onto the crusts:

“Regular pizza:”

–sauce; veggies (if using) and meats (if using); and cheese

“Street Taco-Inspired:”

–salsa, the cooked chicken cut into strips or chunks, black beans, mozzarella cheese (or any other kind of cheese you’d like to use).

9) Bake at 450 for 5 minutes on the bottom rack. Then, place the pizzas on the top rack and bake for another 13 minutes.

10) For the street taco-inspired pizzas, you can top the cooked pizzas with the marinated red cabbage and any other ingredient you might like: chopped cilantro, sour cream, queso fresco, hot sauce, etc.

“Home-Made Sauce:”

In a medium bowl, mix together: 1 can of tomato sauce, garlic powder (to taste), dried Italian herb seasoning (to taste), a small amount of sugar (to taste), red chili pepper flakes (to taste), salt (to taste).

“Cecilia’s Salsa:”

1 package of cherry tomatoes—rinsed and roughly chopped

½ jalapeño pepper, chopped—or more if you like

sprinkle of sugar

sprinkle of salt

¼ cup chopped cilantro

¼ cup finely chopped onion

1 tsp fresh, chopped garlic

splash of balsamic vinegar

1 tsp ground cumin

–Mix everything in a medium-size bowl and season to taste.

“Marinated Red Cabbage”(–Make a Day or Several Hours Ahead)

1 head of red cabbage—chopped

1 tablespoon of sugar

¼-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

–Throw everything into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 6-24 hours. (As it’s marinating, you might want to stir the cabbage every once in a while.)

Table Talk: What’s your favorite topping? Discuss and post! (Or, if you make this pizza—let me know what you think.)

 

 

 

 

 

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