Yay, it's my first post with food! It's going to be kind of long because it's sort of three dinners in one. I didn't want to bore anyone with 3 pizza posts in a row so I combined them into one.
Today I chose pizza because, well, I love it. Why do I love it so much? Because I love carbs and I love cheese. And considering those are the main components of any pizza, it's the perfect meal for me. But I'm too broke to order pizza every day so I realized that I needed to learn how to make it cheaply so I could indulge and save at the same time. In addition to homemade pizza being cheaper, it's way less greasy. This saves on calories and time because patting the pizza with a napkin to soak up the puddles of grease is no longer a necessity!
Also, I think pizza is one of the many great bases for any other type of food you might be in the mood for. Other wonderful bases include eggs, sandwich bread, pasta, chicken, and salad greens. What I mean by "base" is that you can put pretty much anything you want on it and it's bound to taste pretty good as long as you like the way the ingredients you chose combine on your taste buds.
I'll give you an example with something I crave often. Artichoke hearts. Love 'em but they're kind of expensive so I want them often but buy them rarely so when I do save up enough pretty pennies to buy them, I try to use them in as many ways as I can. Enter the wonderful world of bases. I could chop them up and combine them with some onions, cheese, and eggs to make an omelet. Or I could put them on a sandwich with some salami, provolone, onions, tomato, and oil and vinegar dressing. If I'm in a pasta mood I could toss them in with some linguine, spinach, and olive oil. If I'm feeling like more of a carnivore, I could make chicken breasts stuffed with artichokes and ricotta. And if I'm trying to watch my figure, I can put them on a salad with roasted red peppers, feta, and kalamata olives. See what I mean? The bases are delicious on their own but can also be used as a kind of... an edible platter for what you REALLY want.
Alright, enough rambling. On to the pizzas! I'm not going to write a formal recipe for this one because there are so many variations. However, I am going to explain the process, which is super easy. But if you're anything like me (lacking common sense), sometimes it's tricky to figure out dirsimple things the first time without being explicitly told what to do.
I made three very different pizzas but the first couple steps are always the same.
To get ready, you need to spray a bowl with cooking spray and put your dough (I just use the grocery store brand refrigerated dough in a bag. Budget, remember?) in it to rise according to the directions on the package. Spray a piece of wax paper with cooking spray and cover the dough.
When the dough has risen and you're ready to make the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 if you're using a pizza stone or 350 if using a cookie sheet.
If you're really fancy and have a pizza stone, stretch out the dough to fit the pizza stone. You don't need to spray the stone. If your kitchen isn't quite as fully developed, just grab a cookie sheet. When using a cookie sheet, you DO need to spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray and then stretch the pizza dough to fit the cookie sheet. You can form a crust if you'd like or just leave it flat if you're not a crust person.
Now put the sauce on. This could be pesto, pizza sauce, olive oil, salsa, eggs (TWO BASES?!?! We're gettin' crazy here), or any other spread/sauce that you want. For my pizzas I used sauce on one, egg on another, and olive oil on the last.
Now the toppings! This where you can get creative and let your taste buds and stomach do the decision making. For one of my pizzas, I was feeling very indecisive so I made half with red peppers, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, and onions and the other half with red peppers, artichoke hearts, and olives. For the other pizza, I wanted to make a breakfast pizza so I topped it with eggs (two of them; beat as if you were going to make scrambled eggs and then poured onto the dough), broccoli, and red peppers. For the third pizza, I used spinach (a whole frozen package), mushrooms (one package, sliced), garlic, and artichoke hearts. I sauteed all of the ingredients until the mushrooms were lightly cooked and put them on the dough.
Then cover the toppings with lots of cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. I add so much cheese that you can barely see the toppings. That might be a little excessive for some people and to those people I say... "You're crazy!". I have a cheese problem. For the first pizza, I used a pizza blend. For the breakfast pizza, I used a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar. For the third pizza, I used a container of feta and half of a bag of mozzarella.
Lastly, put the pizza in the oven to bake. I haven't found an exact science as to how long to cook the pizza because it depends on what you use for the sauce and toppings and how packed the pizza is with goodies.When using a pizza stone, it takes about 15-20 minutes. If using a cookie sheet, it takes about 25-30 minutes. I generally just keep an eye on it and take it out when the crust is slightly browned and cheese is totally melted. Make sure to check the bottom as well. Just lift the edge of the pizza with a spatula to make sure that it's not sticking to the pizza stone or cookie sheet. It should be slightly brown and firm when the pizza done.
Now pictures :) Here's pizza #1 The pictures contain legitimate kitchenware because I made these at my mother's house.
That's all for now! I hope this inspires you to make your own pizza for less money, with less fat, and with whatever ingredients your heart desires :)