Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pizza! Pizza!

… and I am not talking about Little Caesar's. About six months ago, I decided that I really wanted to start cutting out most processed foods (or where I can at least.) My first order of business was to buy a bread maker… seemed like the obvious choice for some reason, I don't know why. I started making these delicious, fabulous, homemade breads. The best part about making your own food (no matter what it is) is that you know exactly what you're putting in the food that you're putting in your body. I'll be sure to post one of my killer bread recipes soon…

My foodie brother got wind of my new purchase and was kind enough to pass along this AMAZING recipe from one of HIS favorite foodie blogs, The Amateur Gourmet. The recipe is for pizza dough made in the bread machine. And yes… my brother and I talk about food... a lot, as well as cooking methods, gadgets, and food blogs with each other quite frequently. We're cool like that. Anyhow, I've probably made about 3 dozen pizzas since I first tried out this recipe, and once you give it a whirl… I guarantee that you will NEVER go back to Papa Johns.

This was GREAT news for me, because the hungry man/ bottomless pit boyfriend and I used to order Papa John's pizza out the frame when we first started dating! At $20 a pop and excess calories that neither of us needed, we kicked that habit about a year ago. So when I made homemade pizza for my boyfriend with HOMEMADE pizza crust… no lie, he told me it was the best thing I had ever cooked for him! Now… not to toot my own horn or anything, but when it comes to my cooking skills, I'm kind of a big deal ;) So for him to say that this pizza was the best meal I cooked for him... that's gotta say something, right? Well maybe it's cause he's also a guy and prefers homemade pizza to coq au vin. Pish posh... either way, he loved it.

Look at that beautiful ball of dough!

I roll out the dough with a rolling pin (confession: I used to use a wine bottle – so I won't judge you if you do) If you're wondering what exactly is the odd shaped contraption that my pizza dough is draped over… it's a pizza stone! Run to your local Williams-Sonoma and grab one. They make all the difference in the world!

This pizza sauce is where it's at... the brand is DELALLO. You can find it on the pasta aisle in the little bitty section of "specialty Italian foods" at your local Kroger.

Basil is such a sentimental herb for me. Some of my earliest memories with my Italian grandmother, Mimi, involve cooking with basil. How cliché does having an Italian grandmother sound, but I do have one and she's amazing! Anyways...she would be cooking in the kitchen and ask me to go outside and pick some basil leaves from her basil plant. The scent of basil just takes me back to my summer visits in NJ. As you can see, my basil plant has flourished this summer! Clearly I'm overdue for making a batch of homemade pesto! I'm sure I'll be blogging about that soon. I also have some rosemary (I tempted to add that to my pizza dough soon) and lots o' fresh mint… hello mojitos!

Today's pizza toppings... fresh basil, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and sundried tomatoes!

My method for pizza toppings…. a light sprinkle of cheese followed by veggies/other toppings, followed by a blanket of cheese to seal the deal.

Up close and personal... before the blanket of cheese.

Easy Bread Machine Pizza Dough ... recipe courtesy of The Amateur Gourmet
3/4 cup water
2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar (the sugar is "food" for the yeast, it's a science thing, go with it)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon of vital wheat gluten (I never add this, but you can if you'd like)
2 tablespoons ***lard, cut into four small pieces

***I use Crisco, works like a charm… don't be freaked out! Two measly tablespoons spread out through an entire pizza won't kill you, although Jillian Michaels probably would if she ever read this.

Add the water to the bread machine's pan and then pour the flour, sugar, salt, and wheat gluten (if using) over the top.
Tap the pan to settle the ingredients and make a well in the center.
Add the yeast to the well, and then put the pieces of lard into the corners of the pan.
Set your bread machine to the dough setting and let 'er rip!

I'm sorry, but I think Papa John would be pretty jealous right about now.  Look at that crust! So tender and delicious! Don't forget to practice portion control! My serving is always two slices... and because of all the veggies, it's quite filling!


  1. Your basil plant is amazing - you have a truly green thumb! Now that fall is almost here, it's time for pumpkin SOUP and butternut squash soup. Make a vat of it and freeze for future enjoyment!

  2. How do you keep your basil alive through the seasons changing? I just started growing my own and I don't want it to die!

  3. @mahzehtaim I bought this basil plant (which was 1/4 of the size when I bought it) in June. I water it every day, and it does pretty well in direct sun as long as it's watered. It's starting to look a little sad right now because of the changing seasons. I would go ahead and harvest yours now and make lots of basil! Then put it in ice trays and freeze it, that way you can toss of cube of pesto into your next pot of marinara sauce!

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