Favorite Homegrown Home-made Pizzas!

718mfgzG1zL._SL1500_Pizza is one of those things that a lot of people love, but very few of us actually make it at home.  Which is very strange — since it’s so easy to make, especially if you already have a bread machine sitting on your counter.  Also — the mistaken idea that pizza is, by definition, junk food, can be laid to rest simply by using quality ingredients, lower fat (but not fat-free) cheeses and meats, lots of quality, organic fresh veggies, and whole grains where possible.

Pizza has 3 parts: crust, sauce, and toppings — and there’s a lot of freedom to play in such a basic combination.

Let’s start with the obvious:

Basic Crust

Crust is easy to make by hand — even easier with a bread machine.

3295_08_14_2012__13_52_01_700Basic, all-purpose flour works perfectly, but it gets better if you use a specialty flour, like King Arthur’s “Perfect Pizza Blend” that yields a really elastic dough and a perfectly crispy crust.  The pizza blend flour has its own recipe on the flour sack, so I’ll give you my basic non-specialty-flour recipe:

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast
  • 7/8 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water (always start with the smaller amount, and add water, if needed, 1 T at a time. Dryer climates and low-humidity days always require slightly more water than their more humid counterparts.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

51Op7VZ5tzS._SL1016_Just set your bread machine to “dough” and add these ingredients.  I can’t tell you what size pizza this with make, because that depends on whether you want a thin or thick crust!  In general, this will make 1 large or 2 med pizzas — but again, it all depends on how you like your pizza.

If you are making your dough by hand, knead the dough lightly for about 1 minutes, then place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel in a draft-free place for 15-20 minutes before shaping the dough into a crust.

You can “dress up” your crust by adding any (or a combination) of the following ingredients before mixing:

  • 1/3 c parm or romano cheese
  • 1 t Italian herb blend
  • 1/2 t rubbed sage
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 t powdered jalapeno pepper (or chipotle, ancho, New Mexico red, etc….)
  • 1 t smoky paprika
  • 1 t fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 T minced onions, soaked in 1 T warm water for 10 minutes
  • 1/3 c finely minced kalamata olives, drained on a paper towel
  • 1/3 c low fat refried beans
  • 3 T course ground corn meal


For a traditional pizza, the combination of Romano cheese, Italian herbs and garlic is good; for a BBQ pizza — onions and black pepper are an excellent combination; and for a Tex-Mex tilted pizza, add beans, jalapeño and onions!  I personally love an olive pizza with kalamatas and Parmesan cheese in the crust, and a variety of pitted and halved olives on top… more about that later.31nXLYjHn-L

Whether baking on a pizza stone, or in a traditional sheet pan or baking sheet, lightly dust the surface with course ground corn meal before shaping your crust. (to prevent sticking, and to make a crisper crust.)

There are 2 ways to make really great crust:

  1. IMG_0001On the grill: fire up your grill with a pizza stone to pre-heat as the grill gets ready.  Since I like crispy crust, I like to put my prepared crust on the stone and let it begin to cook — so that the bottom is already cooked a bit before I start adding toppings.After the crust has used the pre-heat of the stone to begin cooking for about 2 minutes, I flip it over, and THEN spread sauce and toppings.After the pizza is assembles, all you need to do is close the grill for 2 minutes and wait for the cheese to melt!
  2. In the oven:  begin pre-heating the oven to 500 as soon as you begin making your dough for crust.  The key to a good crust is a hot oven!Thin crust pizzas should take 5-8 minutes to bake (depending how HOW thin.)For a deep dish or thick crust pizza, you will need to reduce the temp of the oven to 425 after the first 3 minutes.  Deep dish pizzas will need to cook for at least 12, and as much as 18 minutes, depending on your pan, and how much stuff you pile into the pan.When it comes right down to it — unless you pre-bake your crust to about 1/2 done, a thick crust or deep dish pizza just has to be tested and watched carefully.  They are basically more like a casserole than a pizza in terms of time.



Basic Sauces

41UaOGWKMSL._SL500_AA300_PIbundle-12,TopRight,0,0_AA300_SH20_While there are a couple of good commercial pizza sauces on the store shelf, sauce from scratch, or sauce made from a blend of commercial and fresh ingredients is an easy way to go.

The amount of sauce you need (again) depends on how big a surface you have to cover — so these recipes all make about 1 cup of sauce — which you can halve, double or just make ahead and use what you want….

BBQ Pizza SauceSM_130

2/3 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (I like Stubbs Mesquite because it’s not too sweet, and is just slightly different from the stronger hickory smoked varieties….)
2 T tomato paste
1/4 c finely minced onion


Chili Pizza Sauce (process in a blender/food processor)

2/3 c canned or home-made chili (no beans)  Wolf Brand or Hormel will work.
1/4 c prepared salsa (like Pace)
1 T ketchup
1 T tomato paste


Pineapple/Cream Cheese Pizza Sauce (process in a blender/food processor)

1/2 c crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1/2 c cream cheese
2 T all natural peanut butter
1/4 t salt


Pesto Pizza Sauce

2 T Extra virgin olive oil
3/4 c commercial or homemade pesto sauce
2 T capers, rinsed and drained
1 T balsamic vinegar


Beefy Goodness Pizza Sauce (prepare in a food processor or blender)0003068487676_500X500

3 oz left-over roast beef, or deli roast beef, chopped fine
1/2 c strong beef stock, reduced
1/3 c finely minced onion
2 T tomato paste
2 T commercial or home-made pizza or marinara sauce
1 t fresh ground black pepper


Cheesey Pizza Sauce

4 oz Velveeta (!) processed cheese
2 T Parmesan cheese freshly grated
1/4 c cream
1 oz cream cheese
1/4 c shredded extra sharp cheddar
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
1/4 t dried thyme

[melt Velveeta with cream and lumps of cream cheese until hot (or microwave slowly 15 sec on/15 sec off  until melted and bubbly.  Add parm and cheddar and stir gently.]


Muffaletta Pizza Sauce

7/8 c mixed olives, pitted and minced fine
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 T cider vinegar
1 T tomato paste
2 T finely minced sun-dried tomato
1 T finely minced celery
1 T finely minced onion
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

[whisk oil, vinegar, tomato paste with basil and pepper; toss with minced olive mix and veggies]


Mushroom-Alfred0 Pizza Saucephoto-1

1/3 c powdered, freeze-dried mushrooms (Just Tomatoes offers freeze-dried mushrooms that can be powdered using an electric coffee grinder, if you can’t find prepared powder)
2 T finely minced shallots
1/4 t garlic salt
3/4 c cream
1/4 c fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 c fresh shredded Romano cheese
1/4 t white pepperconey_island_xlg
1/4 t dried basil
1/4 t dried oregano

[whisk garlic salt, herbs, and mushroom powder into cream and heat using a double boiler until simmering.  Slowly add shallots and shredded cheeses until cheese is melted and creamy.]


Coney Pizza Sauce

2/3 c hot dog chili sauce
1/4 c buffalo chicken wing sauce
1/4 c very finely minced onions
1 T yellow mustard
1 T ketchup
1 t Tabasco sauce


Sour Cream-Pepper Pizza SauceTB194

3/4 c sour cream
1 T buttermilk
1 t dried mixed Italian herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, parsley)
1/4 c finely minced fresh button mushrooms
1/4 t salt
1 t fresh ground black pepper


Toppings / Pizza Recipes

You can pretty much put anything you love on a pizza — from the traditional meats, cheeses and veggies, to the new American popular pizzas, from long-time favorites like Hawaiian pineapple and ham pizza, to more non-traditional thinks like a pulled pork and caramelized onion BBQ pizza, or a spinach, cinnamon-sugared pecan, and blue cheese pizza.  Use your imagination.

The hardest thing to remember about topping a pizza is how little of any topping is needed to make a great pizza — especially the meats and cheeses.  We’re so accustomed to thinking “more is better” these days that we over-estimate the value of MORE.  –Sometimes (and this is almost always true of pizza)

LESS really is MORE

A good rule of thumb is this:  you should be able to see some of every layer of a pizza when looking down on it from the top, both before and after cooking.  You should be able to see sauce through the meat, cheese, and veggies — and you should be able to see some of every ingredient lying naked on the sauce.

Here are some of my favorites:

Wilted Spinach Salad Pizza

thin, crispy crust
mushroom Alfredo Sauce – spread verrrry thin
baby spinach leaves
crumbled bacon
finely chopped boiled egg
finely crumbled blue cheese
mandarin orange sections
sprinkle lightly with balsamic vinegar after cooking


BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza

Med thin crust, baked completely before topping
lots of BBQ Pizza sauce
drained and blotted-dry BBQ/Baked beans (just a few)
loosely packed pulled pork
thin rings of red onion
dusting of well-drained sweet relish
low moisture, part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (just a little)


botanyherbs.com-sweetie-cherry-tomatoClassic (almost) Margherita Pizza

Very thin crust, unbaked
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
4-5 large basil leaves, cut into strips
4 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 T balsamic vinegar + 1 T extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 c Parmesan cheese
1 T small capers
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper

Slice tomatoes very thin and lay on paper towels to drain.  dust lightly with salt, to get some of the water to drain out of the tomato slices.  Once drained, place tomatoes in a bowl and toss with vinegar and oil mixture.

Whisk garlic and black pepper into the olive oil.

To assemble, brush olive oil/garlic mixture on the crust, then arrange tomato slices, and basil evenly spread over crust (lots of gaps — this is enough topping to make a sheet-pan sized pizza.)  Sprinkle with small capers, then shredded cheeses.  Bake very hot until cheese is bubbly, crust is beginning to brown.


French Onion Pizzacaramelized-onions

Thick pizza crust
Beefy goodness pizza sauce
1 med onion, sliced into thin rings and caramelized in butter until rich brown color
diced shiitake mushrooms
shredded swiss cheese


Coney Pizza

Med thin crust made with minced  onion (sourdough crust works best)Coney pizza sauce — complete coverage
coin-sized slices of kosher hot dog
rinsed and drained sauerkraut
paper-thin rings of sweet onion
thin slices of bell pepper
thin slices of kosher pickle, blotted dry
shredded cheddar cheese

[alternately, this pizza can be made without the hot dog slices, then each slice can be wrapped around a grilled hot dog like a bun!]


Nacho Pizza

Thin pizza crust
Chili pizza sauce, generously covering crust
thoroughly browned chorizo sausage
drained, but not rinsed Ranch Style Beans
chopped red onion
pickled jalapeño slices
chopped and drained fresh tomatoes
shredded mix of mild cheddar and Monterey jack cheese

plus: dollops of guacamole and sour cream once the pizza is served


Panhandle Pizza Pie

Very thin pizza crust made with 3 T cornmeal and 1/2 t cayenne pepper
chili pizza sauce
browned ground beef seasoned (lightly) with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper
sliced green onions
drained and rinsed pinto beans
whole kernel corn
finely minced poblano peppers or Hatch green chilis
chopped and drained fresh tomatoes dressed with prepared enchilada sauce
thick shreds of sharp cheddar cheese

–serve each slice with a slice of fresh avocado and a slice of fresh tomato


Pigs and Pineapple Pizza

Medium thick pizza crust
Pineapple & cream cheese pizza sauce
pineapple “tidbits” in their own juice, drained and blotted dry
Canadian bacon sliced thin
1″ cuts of high-quality bacon, cooked crisp
Planters dry roasted peanuts
a few thin bits of green onion


Muffaletta Pizza

Thick pizza crust with italian herbs in a deep dish pan
Muffaletta pizza sauce, spooned onto crust at least 1/4-1/2″ thick
lean deli ham, sliced thin and cut into 1/4″  wide strips
smoked deli turkey breast, sliced thin and cut into 1/2″ wide strips
med tomatoes, sliced thin and drained on paper towels
small sweet onion, sliced paper-thin and broken into rings
shredded low moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese


Ham and Cheese Pizza

Thin pizza crust made with rubbed sage and thyme
cheesy pizza sauce spread thinly over entire crust
finely diced lean deli ham
shredded mozzarella cheese
shredded cheddar cheese
shredded Monterey jack cheese
freshly grated parm & romano

[once baked, top with chopped tomatoes tossed in balsamic vinegar and fresh ground pepper]


Roast Italian Veggies Pizza

thin plain crust
traditional red pizza sauce
sun dried tomatoes cut into strips and soaked in V-8 juice for 30 minutes, drained and blotted dry
extra virgin olive oil to saute veggies:
chopped onionsdiced bell peppers
diced fresh tomatoes
roasted garlic, mashed with a little kosher salt
mixed Italian herbs

For a sausage and veg pizza, add:
italian sausage links, baked whole, then sliced and baked again to brown


Favorite Traditional Pizza: Sausage & Green Olive

pr_mixed_olivesdeep dish, thick crust made with olives, parmesan, Italian herbs, and garlic
traditional pizza sauce (Chef Boyardee is actually my favorite… out of a can — it’s a guilty pleasure) lots of it!
spicy bulk breakfast sausage (Jimmy Dean) browned extra dark –lots of it!
low moisture, part skim mozzarella, shredded
pitted green and kalamata olives, sliced
grated parmesan cheese


Kalamata Olive and Feta Pizza

Kalamata and basil thin pizza crust
Very thin coating of sour cream-mushroom pizza sauce
pitted and chopped kalamata olives
crumbled feta cheese
minced sundried tomatoes that have been soaked in olive oil
shredded asiago cheese (just a dusting)
fresh basil leaves, sliced into strips
finely minced shallots




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