Monday, January 16, 2012

Thin Crust Pizza

First of all, please excuse my horrendous picture! We seldom eat dinner much before 6 or 7pm and by that point, the lighting is AWFUL! This pizza, however, was anything but "awful"--talk about a huge hit at my house! The kids both said that they preferred it to any pizza they had tried out--of course part of that could have been that they were involved in the whole process :) The recipe was a little unusual for me, because the dough was actually made in my food processor--as opposed to my mixer. It was so very easy to make the dough and for that matter, the actual pizza making process was simple, as well! The downside: you have to make the dough ahead of time and then wait at least 24 hours (but preferably 48-72 hrs) to make your pizza, so the dough sits in your refrigerator taunting you for a while! Trust me, it was well worth the wait and honestly-speaking, it was much easier in the long-run to divide the work. I contemplated making this recipe back in March when we had our kids' pizza-making birthday party, but didn't realize that the recipe required allowing the dough to sit for at least 24 hours...oops! We really enjoyed the dough that we used for the party, but this was equally as delicious! I made the homemade sauce that I made for their party, which is SUPER simple to throw together and freezes well if you have excess. The single recipe makes (2) 13-inch pizzas and it seemed much more filling than take-out pizza. We did struggle a little to get it as thin as we wanted and I'm wondering if it wouldn't have been easier, had we allowed the dough to sit in the refrigerator an extra day??? (I believe the dough was in there for approximately 30 hours). While the recipe calls only for cheese, we added some pepperoni and I would definitely do that again! Our pizzas were done in about 10 minutes and I served them with salad. We had about 3/4 of a pizza left, after the four of us ate, and trust me when I tell you...we're all good eaters!

Thin Crust Pizza

Yield: 2 13-inch pizzas

For the crust:
3 cups (16½ oz.) bread flour
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. instant yeast
1 1/3 cups ice water
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1½ tsp. salt

For the sauce:
1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. red wine vinegar (I was all out, so I used Balsamic vinegar)
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

For topping:
Olive oil, for brushing
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella

To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a food processor* fitted with the metal blade. Pulse just to combine. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube and process just until the dough is combined and all dry ingredients are incorporated, about 10 seconds. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Add the oil and salt to the dough. Process until the dough forms a smooth, tacky ball that clears the sides of the bowl, about 30-60 seconds. Remove the dough from the bowl, knead briefly on a lightly oiled work surface, about 1 minute. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. (After the period of refrigeration, the dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for later use.)

To make the sauce, 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.

One hour before baking the pizza, adjust an oven rack to the second highest position and place a baking stone on the rack to preheat. Preheat the oven to 500˚ F. Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. (If you plan to freeze a portion of the dough, this is the time to wrap in plastic, place in a freezer bag and freeze for later use.) Form each half into a ball and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Spray the dough balls lightly with cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

To assemble the pizza, transfer a dough ball to a well floured work surface. Flatten into an 8-inch disk, leaving a slightly thicker edge around the rim. Using your hands, gently stretch the dough to a 12-inch circle. (We used a rolling pin, per Annie's suggestion, to get the crust thin enough.) Transfer the dough to a well floured pizza peel and stretch to a 13-inch circle. (We don't have a pizza peel, nor do I know what one is, so I left Marcus in charge of stretching the pizza out as best as he could!) Lightly brush the thicker edge of the disk with olive oil. Spread ½ cup of the pizza sauce over the dough. Sprinkle evenly with the grated Parmesan and the shredded mozzarella. Carefully transfer the pizza to the preheated baking stone. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

*This dough can also be made in a stand mixer or by hand. Keep in mind, the idea is to avoid warming the dough, so a food processor or mixer is optimal.

Source: Annie's Eats

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Oven Fried Perch

Believe it or not, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth! "Craziness" is too mild of a word to describe my life at the moment. My husband just completed his first semester of nursing school, but throughout the course of the semester, meal-planning was a bit challenging. Last semester, he worked (2) night shifts and I've been trying to pick up as many shifts as possible at the hospital, in addition to raising two very active little ones! Not only has it been difficult to muster up the energy to cook, but it's hard to experiment much while living on such a strict budget. I've become quite the little "couponer" and find that most everything I purchase is purchased almost exclusively with coupons (aside from meat and produce, of course), which doesn't always give me much to work with! This coming semester appears as if it will be a little easier, primarily because my husband will only be going to school 2 days/week for the first 8 weeks and he'll be able to work (2) day shifts. The problem, though, is that even when he and I work day shifts, it means we don't get home until at least 8-8:30pm, so we're generally looking for very quick meal ideas! This particular recipe was perfect for last night! I defrosted a package of perch fillets and I'm not exaggerating when I say that between prep and cooking time, my meal was complete in 15 minutes! That gave my husband just enough time to put the kids to bed and take a quick shower, so we could both enjoy a meal together at the end of a very long day! (I forgot to mention that I spent probably close to 6 hours at three different grocery stores with my 3 year old...enough said!) While I do generally prefer a more "crisp" coating, it was very tasty and certainly more healthy than frying. We will definitely make this again!

I hope everyone had a very nice holiday season! Wishing all of you a very Happy (and healthy) New Year!!! Oh, and just as a little side sister, Sarah, just started a new blog--make sure to check it out! (Amateur Foodie)

Oven Fried Perch

1 lb Perch Fillets
2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese - grated
1/2 Cup Dry Bread Crumbs
1/2 Tsp. Thyme
1/4 Cup Milk
1 Tbsp. Margarine, melted


Combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and thyme in a shallow bowl. Dip perch fillets in milk and then coat each fillet with bread crumb mixture. Lay in single layer on greased shallow baking pan. Drizzle with melted margarine. Bake in oven at 450 degrees for approximately 10 or until perch flakes easily with a fork.

***Serves 2*** (Perfect for a late night meal for my husband and I, but definitely not enough food for more than 2 people, so make sure you adjust your ingredients accordingly!)