Everyone in the family will enjoy homemade pizzas

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Photo by Ann Cipperly Pizza can be made from a homemade crust, purchased crust, baked tortillas, pita bread, sliced French or Italian bread, portobello mushrooms or English muffin halves. Mushroom Pizza is pictured above, made by spreading pizza sauce over crust and topping with grated mozzarella cheese and lightly sautéed fresh mushrooms.

By Ann Cipperly

Pizza is one food that seems to appeal to all ages. Thick or thin crusts, tomato sauce and lots of melted cheese make a scrumptious snack or meal served with a salad. Depending on the type of pizza, toppings can vary from  meats to vegetables and even fruit, such as pineapple or figs. If you use a purchased crust, you can create a tasty pizza faster than you can order one for delivery. 

One of the best pizzas I have tried was at Chef Todd English’s Olives restaurant in Las Vegas. I am not a fan of Las Vegas, but at least there are good restaurants there. The lunch pizza was covered in fig jam and topped with Gorgonzola cheese and thinly sliced prosciutto with a sprinkling of chopped scallion.

I did a search for the recipe and found it on  Epicurious’s website. They ran the recipe with permission from Chef English, but since I didn’t have time to find the chef to get permission to run it, you will just have to find it on Epicurious for exact measurements.  (I am hoping I can meet Chef English the next time we visit our son in West Palm Beach and go to the chef’s new restaurant there.)    

Katie Jackson has a similar pizza recipe made with fig preserves, prosciutto and goat cheese.  Katie creates a variety of pizzas and uses purchased crusts and innovative toppings. Her Chicken and Pesto Pizza and Vegetarian Pizza are also delectable.  

Our family has also savored delicious and unique pizzas at the Clear Skies restaurant on Clearwater Beach, Florida. The restaurant is located near the beach and has buy one get one free pizzas on Friday nights. We like to go there with family and order a variety for the table. We can each try a different slice for something new.

My favorite pizza there is a Margherita pizza, made with San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced fresh tomatoes and a garnish of fresh basil. I have copied this pizza at home.  You can make a sauce with pureed San Marzano canned tomatoes, garlic and a little olive oil or just use purchased tomato or pizza sauce.

Although you can use regular sliced or grated mozzarella, I really prefer fresh mozzarella that has been sliced. The fresh tomatoes are optional. If you use them, select plum tomatoes, which don’t have as much juice, or use sliced cherry tomatoes.

Margherita pizza has an interesting history. The story goes that on June 11, 1889, Neapolitan pizza maker Raffaele Esposito created “Pizza Margherita” to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. The pizza was topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, to represent the national colors of Italy on their flag.

The history of pizza goes back to various ancient cultures that made flatbreads with toppings. Pizza probably evolved from focaccia and other flatbreads prepared in Naples, Italy. While Italian emigrants brought pizza to this country, it became popular after WWII when troops stationed in Italy developed a love for the Italian flatbread.

While you can use purchased pizza crust or dress up a frozen pizza, try the One Bowl Homemade Pizza Dough. A neighbor from Tennessee gave me the recipe more than 30 years ago. I have made it dozens of times for my children, who would request it on their birthdays. It is really easy and the crust is better than what some pizza places make.

The Easy Deep-Dish Pizza was also a favorite for our children, especially made with Italian sausage. I always kept the ingredients on hand, as it went together quickly. Using the box of hot roll mix makes a tender, flavorful crust. Just mix it with water as directed on the box.

Along with homemade or purchased pizza crust, other bases for pizza can be portobello mushrooms, sliced French bread halves, English muffin halves, pita bread or baked tortillas.

Margo Herndon creates healthier pizzas using stone ground whole-wheat tortillas, which are baked until crisp. The pizzas are a favorite of her grandchildren. Margo will set out the toppings and let everyone make their own pizza.

She also makes an interesting Pimiento Cheese Pizza that she adapted from a café at an antique mall in Louisville, Kentucky.

Look over the following recipes and surprise your family this coming week with a homemade pizza. It will no doubt be requested many times by everyone in the family. 

Ann Cipperly can be reached at recipes@cipperly.com.

One Bowl Homemade Pizza Dough

This is an excellent pizza dough that is easy to prepare. A neighbor from Tennessee gave me this recipe over 30 years ago. It has remained a family favorite. 

2 ½ to 3 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. sugar

2 tsp. salt

1 pkg. dry yeast

1 cup very hot tap water

2 Tbsp. oil

In large bowl, mix 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Gradually add very hot tap water and oil to dry ingredients. Beat one minute at low speed in an electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally.

Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Place in greased bowl; turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Press each half into a greased 12-inch pizza pan, forming a standing rim of dough.

Add toppings and bake until golden brown in a 400-degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or cheese melts and crust is cooked.

Homemade Pizza Sauce

This sauce is good for making Margherita pizzas with fresh sliced mozzarella cheese and fresh basil with a drizzle of olive oil. You can use regular grated mozzarella instead of fresh and add sliced plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes.   

28 oz. can peeled tomatoes (San Marzano is the best), drained

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp. kosher or sea salt

½ tsp. dried oregano, optional

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Place tomatoes, garlic, salt, oregano and olive oil in a food processor and purred. Makes enough sauce for 4 pizzas. Keep in refrigerator or freeze. 

Mushroom Pizza

Spread pizza or tomato sauce over homemade or purchased crust.  Sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese over top, then add lightly sautéed fresh mushrooms. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until cheese is lightly browned. If using homemade crust, be sure it is cooked.

Easy Deep Dish Pizza

This goes together quickly and kids of all ages enjoy it! 

1 box hot roll mix

1 jar pasta sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Toppings, if desired: Italian sausage, cooked; sliced mushrooms, lightly sautéed, or pepperoni

Mix yeast and flour packages in hot roll mix together; stir in 1 ¼ cups hot tap water and 2 Tbsp. oil. Stir together well. Pat into a 9 x 13-inch pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Bring dough up sides of pan.

Pour in pasta sauce. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; add a topping if desired and shredded cheese. Return to oven and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes until cheese is melted and lightly brown.

Healthy Pizzas

Margo Herndon

The Healthy Pizzas are also a favorite of grandchildren. The base of the pizza is stone ground whole-wheat tortillas, which are baked until crisp. Margo will set out the toppings and let everyone make their own pizza.

Tampixco Tortillas (stone ground whole wheat, in dairy counter)

Pizza sauce

Monterey Jack, grated or shredded mixed Italian cheeses

Bell pepper

Turkey pepperoni

Mushrooms

Black olives

Set oven to 400 degrees and bake tortillas for a few minutes until crispy. Then, spread pizza sauce, cheese and toppings and cook until bubbly and brown.  Really good and low in carbs and fat.

Pimiento Cheese Pizza

Margo Herndon

(Adapted from café inside the Louisville, Ky. Antique Mall, where I have spent many happy hours!)

Tampixco Tortillas

Pimiento cheese

Bacon bits or pieces

Chopped green onion

Chopped tomatoes

Bake tortillas until crispy, then spread with pimiento cheese, bacon, onions and tomatoes.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until melted and bubbly.  Very tasty!

Vegetarian Pizza

Katie Jackson

One large (10-12-inch) thin pizza crust (homemade or purchased), precooked

Olive oil

Two medium tomatoes, sliced thinly

½ cup roasted red pepper strips

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced

½ cup chopped olives (black, green, or mixed)

Two sprigs fresh basil, chopped

1 ½ cups fresh baby spinach leaves

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved

1 cup mozzarella or pizza cheese, grated

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Sea salt or other coarsely ground salt to taste

Brush crust with olive oil and scatter spinach leaves on crust. Lay sliced tomatoes on spinach.  Sprinkle olives, basil, red pepper strips and onions on top of tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with Parmesan and mozzarella/pizza cheeses. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 400 degrees until bubbling.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

You can use mushrooms, squash, eggplant and other vegetables on this as well, or make up your own vegetarian concoction.

Chicken Pesto Pizza

Katie Jackson

One large (10-12-inch) thin pizza crust (homemade or purchased), precooked

½ cup pesto (purchased in jar or homemade)

Two medium tomatoes, sliced thinly

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced and caramelized in olive oil or butter

1 ½ cups precooked chicken, diced

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved

1 cup mozzarella or pizza cheese, grated

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Sea salt or other coarsely ground salt to taste

Olive oil

Spread pesto on pizza crust. Scatter chicken evenly over pesto. Lay sliced tomatoes on chicken. Spread caramelized onions on tomatoes. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste on this layer. Cover with Parmesan and mozzarella/pizza cheeses. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 400 degrees until bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fig and Prosciutto Pizza

Katie Jackson

One large (10-12-inch) thin pizza crust (homemade or purchased), precooked

Olive oil

1 pint fig preserves or 15 or so fresh figs, washed, stemmed and sliced in half

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced and caramelized in olive oil or butter

3 to 4 slices prosciutto, diced

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ cup goat cheese

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved

1 cup mozzarella or pizza cheese, grated

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Sea salt or other coarsely ground salt to taste

Brush pizza crust with olive oil. Spread fig preserves or lay fresh figs cut-side up on pizza crust to cover.  Scatter prosciutto and onions on figs. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and thyme on this layer of onions and prosciutto. Cover with goat and Parmesan cheeses. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 400 degrees until bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fig preserves will make this a sweeter pizza than the fresh figs. You can also use dried figs, but plump these up by pouring boiling water over them and letting them sit for 10 minutes or so, then drain off the liquid.

Linda’s Quick Pizzas

Linda Fucci

For those times when you look at the clock to see it is 5:30 and you have no dinner plans.  Add a salad and you have a meal. I keep the bread in the freezer, a jar of Classico in the pantry and mozzarella and pepperoni are always in our refrigerator.

Pita bread (whole) or flat bread  (I prefer white, but you may use wheat.) If bread is frozen, thaw.

Classico Tomato and Basil Sauce

Whole milk mozzarella

Your choice – use one or any mix of the following:

Fresh thinly sliced Roma tomato – no more than 8 thin slices per pizza

Fresh thinly sliced mushroom

Cooked and thinly sliced Italian Sausage (cook sausage on broil until well done)

Pepperoni

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. It is best to cook this on a stone, so be sure the stone is hot before you add the pizza.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on pita/flat bread. Add mushrooms and/or tomatoes. Top with thin slices or shredded Mozzarella cheese. Add pepperoni and/or sausage to cover top, or end with the cheese for a meatless pizza.

Cook until all ingredients appear to be bubbly. Cut the pita bread in fourths or the flat bread in squares.  It depends on your appetite as to how many pizzas will make up a serving.

You may portion out and freeze any sauce remaining for future Quickie Pizza making.

No Tomato Greek Pita Pizza

Emily Smyth

Pita bread for crust

Layer:

Pkg. grated 6-cheese Italian cheese

Generous slices pepperoni

Chopped onions and green peppers

Sliced black olives

Crumbled feta cheese

Parmesan cheese

More Italian cheese, sprinkled on top

A couple of Greek peppers, optional

Assemble pizza. Cook in preheated 400-degree oven for approximately 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly brown.

Two Ingredient Pizza Crust 

Terri Neighbors

2 cups self-rising flour

1 cup Greek yogurt

Combine flour and yogurt, mixing well. It stores well in the refrigerator. Terri greases the inside of a plastic bag and places the dough in the bag until ready to use. 

Pat desired amount of dough onto a baking sheet. Add toppings of choice. Cook at 400 degrees until lightly browned.

Hawaiian Pizza Topping

Pizza crust

2 cups tomato or pizza sauce

1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into cubes, 4 to 5 cups; or two 20-ounce cans pineapple chunks, well drained

1 lb. unsliced ham, cut into cubes or chunks

2 to 4 cups shredded mozzarella

Spread tomato sauce over crust. Layer with the pineapple and ham, then sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until cheese is melted.

French or Italian Bread Pizzas

1 large loaf French or Italian bread, sliced horizontally

4 Tbsp. olive oil

4 Tbsp. butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

14 oz. jar pizza or spaghetti sauce

3 cups or more grated mozzarella cheese

Can also add topping of choice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place olive oil, butter and garlic in saucepan and stir until butter melts. Place bread halves on cookie sheet. Brush cut live of each half with olive oil mixture Bake 5 minutes.

Top with sauce and grated cheese. Add any other toppings at this time. Bake about 8 to 10 minutes longer or until cheese melts. Slice and serve.

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