Homemade pizza has become one of my absolute favorite things to make. Sure you can buy all the ingredients to put together a pizza in no time, but the fresh dough, easy sauce, knowing I'm not putting too much sugar, salt and preservatives into my kids' bodies are so worth the effort. Plus it can be a fun family project! I have a dough roller, a topping placer, of course with much supervision and a slightly messier than usual kitchen. Our dog, Frankie, helps eat up the dropped shredded mozzarella. By allowing my kids to help prepare meals, I've found them much more willing to try new things and excited about meal time. It also keeps them away from the video games and television.
For us, this is definitely a weekend project, however, you can make enough sauce and dough over the weekend to freeze or refrigerate for the upcoming busy work week.
This recipe comes from myrecipes.com, slightly modified:
Easy Pizza Dough
- 1 package dry yeast
- 2/3 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Vegetable cooking spray
- Dissolve yeast in water in a large bowl, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup flour and 3/4 cup wheat flour, cornmeal, oil, and salt to form a soft dough.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); add enough of the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.
- Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning dough to coat top. Cover dough, and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
- Punch dough down, and roll into a 15-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a 15-inch pizza pan or baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Top and bake according to recipe directions.
- Note: To make 6 individual pizzas, roll dough into 5-inch rounds.
Pizzas like a hot oven, you might have heard. I place a pizza stone into my cold oven then preheat to around 425 degrees just so I don't set off the smoke alarm. My stone smokes for some reason. I also make sure I have the oven vent on.
I like to make individual pizzas so the kids can customize their own but also so I can get it onto the hot stone using the spatulas I have. It would be easier and way cooler with one of those pizza paddles I've seen at the professional pizzerias. But where to store that thing??
It's also fun to grill pizza. The dough cooks real fast on the grill so I don't take my eyes off of it!
I make a couple batches of dough and divide it into the six individual balls (twice, so 12 balls for two batches) which I'll wrap in plastic wrap, then place those in a freezer bag. That way, I can pull as many balls as I need for dinner the next day, to defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
So, I know, what does this have to do with lunchboxes? Packing lunches are one more thing on the to-do list that can create anxiety for some. By taking 15 minutes or so over the weekend to plan out meals over the week and grocery shop, then in turn have some easy left-overs for lunches (I believe I mentioned the left-overs thing before), to make lunch packing a cinch. I save much time and stress if I have what I need when I get home from work faced with a tired, hungry family.
Easy Pizza Sauce from myrecipes.com slightly modified:
- Cooking spray
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
- Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add garlic to pan; sauté 30 seconds. Add tomato paste, oregano, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and tomatoes. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; Cool.
Frankie, our topping catcher