When you take your supper out of the oven then snap a picture of it, you know there’s a post about it in your future. That’s what happened last week when we had homemade pizza. I seem to have a cooking blog this week. I’ve considered starting one – and even have a folder of photos put together for making a header – but I think it will wait until later. Melissa and I were talking yesterday and she encouraged me to post my pizza ideas.Step 1: The Crust

For years I made a homemade crust from fresh-ground wheat flour. It was very healthy, but unfortunately involved a lot of prep and rising time. I found this quick and easy crust recipe at Full Bellies, Happy Kids; although not nearly so healthy as my former recipe, it is a real time-saver and enables me to make pizza much quicker (which means more often).

Quick Pizza Dough

1 pkg. Quick Rise dry yeast (I use 2 tsp. instant yeast)
1 c. lukewarm water
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. honey
2 1/2 c. flour

Mix yeast in water, then add other ingredients. Mix well by hand. Cover with dishtowel and let sit in bowl for 5-10 minutes. Flatten on greased pan. Add your own toppings. Bake at 450 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Step 2: The Sauce

Years ago, when first experiementing with homemade pizza, I bought ready-made pizza sauce. Unfortunately, we were never satisfied with the taste. I almost gave up on making pizza altogether until I found this sauce recipe in my cooking bible, The New Basics Cookbook:

Basic Tomato Sauce for Pizza

1 can (28 oz.) Italian-style tomato purée
1 large clove garlic, minced (fresh, not jarred!)
1 tsp. dried oregano or marjoram
4 fresh basil leaves or 1 tsp. dried
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a 3-qt. saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, lower the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
3 cups (enough for two 12-inch pizzas)
Note: This sauce may be made ahead and frozen.

With sauce, a little preparation goes a long way. It takes very little extra effort to multiply this recipe, just buy a bigger can of tomatoes and add more of the ingredients. I usually quadruple and freeze it, then thaw what I need the next time I make pizza.Step 3: The Cheese

The simplest thing for me is keep pre-grated Kraft Pizza Cheese in the freezer. If you use straight-up Mozzarella, you may want to wait and add it to your pizza during the last five minutes of cooking, since it is a very soft cheese and over-browns easily. I also use Parmigiano Reggiano, located in the deli/specialty cheese section of the grocery store. It has a very distinct taste and smell, not to be confused with the much milder pre-grated Parmesan cheese. This is a very hard cheese, which seems to store almost indefinitely. I only use a small chunk of it at a time, which I grate with my Pampered Chef deluxe cheese grater (it makes me feel like a server at The Olive Garden). I store the rest in a ziploc bag in the fridge.

Step 4: The Toppings

Obviously, this is very much a matter of personal taste and ingredients on-hand. I use lots of fresh garlic. The pizza below is from last week, and was topped with a fresh, sliced tomato from our garden (oh, I dread it when they run out!). We even like a “white pizza” with lots of cheese, herbs, and garlic (maybe a little drizzled olive oil), and no tomato sauce.

Hopefully I’ve given you a little “food for thought,” pizza-wise!

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