My husband and I had been trying so hard to come up with the perfect menu for our kids' combined birthday party this past weekend. I'm not exactly sure what prompted my initial thought, but I started thinking that it might be fun to set up a "make-your-own-pizza" table and allow for a more interactive party, also giving each person the opportunity to have exactly what they wanted! Ordering pizzas was one of our initial considerations, but I always worry that someone may not like what I choose to order or we may run out of a particular variety of pizza that is more of a "hit", forcing people to eat what's left. One of my biggest concerns was selecting a pizza crust. I've never made homemade pizza dough as an adult, so my natural inclination was to purchase something like Boboli (or something of that sort). Then, at just the perfect time, I saw a recipe posted on Macaroni and Cheesecake for a thin crust pizza and easy homemade pizza sauce, originally taken from Annie's Eats. I was all set to make this particular pizza crust recipe, but knew the week of the party was going to be chaotic and was concerned that I wouldn't have enough time to make the dough ahead of time to try it out (primarily to familiarize ourselves with what we were working with so we didn't have a disaster on our hands the day of the party!). I linked directly to Annie's Eats and found another pizza dough recipe that she spoke very highly of and it just so happened that this recipe could be made within a few hours...as opposed to having to make it and allow it to sit in the fridge for at least 24 hrs. We tried this recipe a few days before the party and were amazed at how easy it was to make the dough and even more so by how great the pizza tasted! While I did greatly enjoy this recipe and would recommend it/make it again, I am kind of anxious to try the initial thin crust recipe that I saw on Macaroni and Cheesecake. This definitely is a more substantial dough--much more like a hand-tossed. The recipe, as written, makes (2) medium pizzas or (4) calzones. We made (4) individual sized pizzas from each recipe, but they were PLENTY filling...most everyone had some left! The sauce recipe was incredibly easy, as well, but if you don't want to mess with making your own, you could always use your own store-bought sauce. It seriously is SO easy, though and takes all of maybe 5 minutes to prepare! All in all, I think the pizza idea was a huge success...the only problem was that I desperately needed a double oven, but everyone patiently waited and made their pizzas in shifts :) Definitely consider trying this recipe out, instead of buying store-bought crust next time! Homemade Pizza Crust and Simple Pizza Sauce
½ cup warm water 2¼ tsp. instant yeast 4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting 1½ tsp. salt 1¼ cup water, at room temperature 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend. Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil. Mix until a cohesive dough is formed. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours.
Press down the dough to deflate it. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.) Cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.
To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes. Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Shape the dough with lightly floured hands. Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil. Top as desired. Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.
For the sauce:
1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 1 tsp. red wine vinegar 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. oregano ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to use.
If you were to look up the word "picky" in the dictionary, you would see a picture of my husband off to the left. Growing up, I was exposed to all sorts of different foods and encouraged to experiment with different flavors, but after meeting my husband, I somewhat locked myself into an eight to ten meal rotation and was reluctant to deviate. I have since given birth to two of the least picky eaters on the face of the Earth, thus inspiring me to transform my cooking style. I know many people, like myself, lead such hectic lives, so I strive to find recipes that are quick and easy--especially those that you can whip up with ingredients that you ordinarily have on hand!
A bit about me...I married my husband, Marcus, on June 1, 2003 and we welcomed our son Jacob on March 22, 2005. Our daughter, Madeline, was born on March 1, 2008. I stay home with the kids for the most part, but also work occasional shifts as a registered nurse at a local hospital. I truly hope you enjoy my blog. A special "thank you" to my sister, Sarah, for giving me the idea! Her creativity is hard to live up to, but I'm a very determined person and hope to make her proud :)