Happy weekend, blog world friends! I'm enjoying a nice relaxing Saturday morning...just had some tasty homemade oatmeal and a cup of coffee, and after I finish this blog post, I hope to look through some cookbooks for a recipe to make later on today. It's nice to have a weekend here in Boston and not off traveling! I have a lot on my to-do list I'd like to accomplish. :-D
Enough ramblings, I know... Onto more important topics like pizza! I LOVE making homemade pizza. I probably make it about once or twice a month but now that I'm thinking about it, I really should do it even more often than that! It's such a fun and easy meal that's sure to please everyone. I am guessing that many of you have made homemade pizza before, so what I'm about to share isn't necessarily earth-shattering. However, I hope that this post will give you some fun ideas for new toppings or, if you're not someone who makes homemade pizza, maybe you'll start making it after reading this! :)
First of all, I am sad to say that I've never actually made my own pizza dough. It's on my cooking/baking to-do list though! When I finally get around to making my own dough I'll have to have a sequel to this blog post for you. In the meantime though, I'll share that 90% of the time when I make homemade pizza, I use fresh dough from an Italian chain restaurant that's here in the Boston area, Bertucci's. I think they're in a few other states, but they're definitely not a nation-wide chain. Anyway, a few years ago I discovered that you can actually buy THEIR dough, which is seriously one of the best pizza doughs/crusts I know. So for those if you who may live near a Bertucci's and didn't know you can buy their dough, now you know! Exciting, right?! If I don't buy Bertucci's dough, I usually just buy the fresh dough in the grocery store. If whole wheat is an option in the store, I often opt for that (Bertucci's is not whole wheat). A delicious dough is essential to delicious pizza, so be sure you find one that you love!
I have found that it's easiest to work with dough that's cold, so I usually leave mine in the fridge until I'm ready to use it. I also sometimes sprinkle it with flour before I begin to roll it out. Another idea is to sprinkle flour or cornmeal on the surface on which you're rolling out the dough. I most often end up only using my hands though; I don't really "roll it out," per se. I'm usually able to stretch it enough by "playing" :) with it in my hands, and that works just fine for me! I tend to shape it into an oblong shape more often than round, but either works! I don't have a pizza stone (maybe I should look into getting one though!!!), so I just put my pizza on a cookie sheet.
About 99% of the time, I use red sauce on my pizza. Depending on what I have, sometimes I use just plain ol' tomato sauce in a can, and other times I use pasta sauce. Anything goes here, folks! I don't care for too much sauce, so my pizza tends to look like this:
On this particular pizza, I was using Classico pasta sauce, as you can see here!
I would like to try making my own white sauce sometime (I think I have before but I don't know what recipe I used!). This recipe here looks pretty good if you're in the mood for white sauce. A few times now we've actually put barbecue sauce on our pizza in place of red sauce... Such a fun twist on the "norm"!
Next, onto the exciting step of adding your pizza toppings!!!! Although I am not a vegetarian, there are many days when I could go without meat and not miss it one bit. Love my veggies! Typically, I like to load up my pizza with a variety of delish veggies...and then sometimes I add meat too. ;-)
On this pizza below, I put tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and roasted sweet potatoes.
Now, I have to say that there are some veggies that I think are much better on a pizza if you cook them first! Examples include onions, broccoli, peppers (any kind - red, green, etc.), and sweet potatoes. For veggies like peppers, I usually just saute them in a pan on the stove under they're just tender. If you don't cook them ahead of time, I personally think they're a bit too crunchy! Onions I tend to cook more, until they're light to medium golden brown in color. You could also cook them all the way until they're caramelized! That would be very yummy. I just usually don't take the time to do that. But here's a recipe for caramelizing onions if you're interested. ;-) Mushrooms are a veggie that could go either way; I've cooked them prior to going on the pizza before, but I've also put them on raw. Either is fine! And as a side note, if you decide to go non-traditional and try barbecue sauce instead of red sauce as I mentioned earlier, I'd recommend onions, green peppers, and chicken as toppings. Love that combo!
Now, onto a favorite topping of mine...sweet potatoes! Because I am a tad obsessed with sweet potatoes, I almost always have them in the house! I love roasting sweet potatoes with various spices like salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, chili powder, etc...anything goes! So if at all possible, if I can, I add roasted sweet potatoes to my pizza....such a great addition, I tell ya!
This next pizza has a different variety of veggies on it. I believe I see mushrooms, spinach, red peppers, broccolini, and mashed sweet potatoes. MASHED sweet potatoes? Yes! This pizza was fun because I actually used leftovers I had from when I went out to dinner. I had some broccolini and mashed sweet potatoes left over and thought to myself, these would be perfect on pizza! And they were.
Here's a few pics of that same pizza in the prep stages. ;-)
What's that you see? Could it be bacon? It is! I had some bacon in the freezer, so I decided that would be a fun and different topping to add (we didn't add too much though, so it didn't make the pizza that unhealthy ;-)). We cooked it on the stove before crumbling it and putting it onto the pizza.
On the pizza below, I believe we put mushroom, tomato, sweet potato (roasted of course!), and chicken! Yum yum yum. Seriously, I'm getting hungry as I type this...
And I know you know this, but definitely cook your chicken before putting it on your pizza. It won't cook thoroughly otherwise. :-P
Close-up! Is your mouth watering yet?! Mine is...
Finally now, we can't forget the cheese! I often go the easy route and add simple shredded cheese to my pizzas. I buy it already shredded in the store...mozzarella, italian blend, mexican blend...anything is a-okay with pizza really! So pick whatever you like best. Sometimes I'll add a less typical, yet very delicious cheese, like goat or gorgonzola. Mmmmm. You could also buy a nice, fresh ball of mozzarella and put slices of it on the pizza. Gosh, that sounds good! This is the fun of making homemade pizza - you decide what goes on it! Oh, and you also can't go wrong with sprinkling some parmesan on either. ;-)
To be completely honest, I don't necessarily always bake my pizza at the same temperature for the same amount of time. I just do it - I don't think about it! I believe though that my oven is usually on around 400 or 425 degrees. I'd say check your pizza as soon as 10 or 12 minutes have passed. Sometimes it really doesn't take long! A typical cooking time though is probably 12 to 15 minutes or so. When your cheese is melted (and maybe slightly golden) and your crust is a nice, light golden brown, you're good to go! It's best to let the pizza sit for a few minutes before slicing it too. ENJOY!
Let me know if you have any other fun topping ideas! I'd love to hear them!
Hey, I just realized that this is the third type of pizza I've shared with you here at the Barbershop. I've previously shared two less common pizzas...a candy pizza and a breakfast pizza. You've got all your meals covered now!
Have a great weekend, friends. :)