Good Thing My Friends Love to Eat, Because I Love to Cook

At my age, the ripe old age of 25, not too many people have had a relationship with food and cooking like I have. I think people usually learn to appreciate food a little more as they get older. Please don't get mad if I'm making an irrational generalization. I'm just sayin'... I just happened to blossom nice an early and some of the peeps around me haven't. So when I tell my friends that I'm going to cook, they are ever so grateful.

This past weekend, we decided Saturday was going to be pizza, beer and March Madness night at my boyfriend's house. I was obviously going to be making the pizzas from scratch (dough, sauce and toppings included). The whole kit and kaboodle, y'all (okay, okay. not the cheese or pepperoni. get off my back).

But seriously, I love coming up with food creations and cooking them up. It's like a science experiment. But with the tastiest materials. The best part?? Seeing people eat it, and like it! For me to get the chance to cook for 7 of my friends is awesome.

So rather than my friends thanking me endlessly for making dinner, let me thank them for letting me cook!

Pizza Dough
I've been testing out dough recipes and they keep getting better every time. This dough was pretty dang good. My best yet. It rose nice and fast and was really easy to work with. I do this all by hand, but if you have an electric mixer go for it.

5 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 3/4 tsp finely ground sea salt
1 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 packet active dry yeast
Olive oil

In a measuring cup, add the yeast to the warm water and stir until dissolved.

In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, salt and garlic powder together. Add the water and yeast and stir with a metal spoon until a dough forms. If the dough seems too dry (excess flour at the bottom of the bowl) add a tablespoon of warm water at a time. If the dough seems too wet, add a little flour. I usually end up adding a tablespoon or two of water to get the right texture.

Once the dough is in a nice ball, flour the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead the dough for 10- 15 minutes, adding flour as needed. You don't want the dough to get sticky. Once the dough feels nice and elastic, you're done!

Add some olive oil to a clean mixing bowl and put the dough in. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it sit on the counter for 2.5 hours. If all goes well, the dough should double in size, or at least rise up quite a bit. Make sure it's resting in a warm area without any drafts.

While the dough rises over the 2.5 hours, I prep the rest of my ingredients (below).

Heat oven as high as it will go, 500 degrees in most cases. Put pizza stone in oven at least half an hour before cooking pizza.

After 2.5 hours and all the other ingredients are prepped, the pizza dough should be ready to roll out. Look at the dough to make sure it has doubled in size.

Split the dough in half and start working with it to turn it into a pizza crust. If the dough sat for long enough, it should be fairly easy to roll out. Roll dough out, on a floured surface, into a big circle and place it onto parchment paper or a a pizza peel. Top the dough with the ingredients (below) and put parchment and pizza directly on pizza stone and put in the oven for about 12 minutes, until crust is golden and cheese is melted.

Red Pizza Sauce
Make your red sauce however you want. I always switch it up a little bit. Here's one of my favorites.

1 can (14.5 oz) organic crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/8 yellow onion (minced)
Crushed red pepper
Italian spices
Sea salt and pepper
Olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic with salt and pepper. Let cook for 3-5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, and the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Let simmer until ready to make pizza.

White Pizza Sauce
I love garlic, so I use a ton in this sauce. My friends loved this pizza, so I think you will too :)

1/4 cup good quality olive oil
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1/4 yellow onion or shallot (minced)
Crushed red pepper
Sea salt and pepper

Heat olive oil over low heat and add all ingredients. You don't want to burn it, but rather let the flavors infuse the oil. Keep warm until ready to make pizza.

Pizza Toppings

  1. Roasted Red Pepper- Coat whole pepper in olive oil and roast at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove skin from pepper once cooled and slice into strips.
  2. Mushrooms- The key to cooking good mushrooms is space. Each mushroom needs to touch the bottom of the pan. Slice up button mushrooms and heat in olive oil. Don't salt! Let mushrooms cook on each side for 5 minutes, and don't move around. They should brown up if they aren't moved
  3. Onions- Slice 1/2 a yellow onion into very thin slices and saute in olive oil with S&P for 7-8 minutes
  4. Good quality pepperoni from the deli (sliced into strips)
  5. Fresh banana peppers (sliced into thin rings)
  6. Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (some sliced and some grated)
  7. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pizza #1: Red Sauce with Pepperoni and Banana Peppers

Pizza #2: White Sauce with Mushrooms, Roasted Red Pepper and Onions

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