Thursday, December 26, 2013

GUEST POST :: Howie's Perfect Anytime $1 Pizzas

Hey guys!  I've been having a lot of fun cooking in the kitchen with my hubby.  He's been coming up with some excellent creations of his own and I thought it was about time he got the spotlight.  It's been fun doing the posts on my own until now but he's been the inspiration for a lot of what I do, so I'm excited to share some blog love with my man.  These pizzas are easy, super convenient and deliciously awesome, I know you'll enjoy!  -Steph

p.s. my personal favorite toppings lately have been arugula and garlic - the deliciousness is pictured below :)

[Enter Howie]

I'm so impressed by Steph's cooking and her blog.  All of her time and creativity in the kitchen has rubbed off on me in a great way - I'm learning a ton and we're enjoying healthy food more than ever.   That said, at the end of the day I am still a sucker for some of the basics in life.   For those who know me, that means a few things.  Chief among those is a great breakfast, and man do I have a post coming your way soon on that.   Another food with an eternal place in my heart is amazing pizza.  The best part about the recipe that follows is that you can make a few dozen of these pizza crusts in an afternoon and freeze them, and then anytime you want whip up a gourmet pizza in less than 5 minutes hands-on time by just grabbing a crust from the freezer, topping, and popping in the oven for 10.   Makes for a super easy but interesting and tasty anytime dish, plus can easily delight (and impress) folks who drop by for a visit.

Now, I'm not sure if my pizza affection has to do with knowing I was a ninja turtle while growing up, over-advertising in my youth ("pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at suppertime....")  or too many late nights out in NYC capped off by some of the best pies on the planet.   If I had to pin down where it all started though, I'd point to a Baltimore staple:  Joe Corbi's Personal Pizzas.  These were kits that were sold by youth sports teams, churches, etc. as fundraisers, and they contained in them everything a young man needed to create delicious, crunchy pizza sans the help of a single adult.   If you know what I'm talking about, I don't need to say more, and if you don't, the recipe here will help you create your very own, HEALTHY version of the JCPP...

My baby's got sauce.  Now some people are dough boys, some are cheese heads, but for me, good pizza starts with the sauce.   This is why I always loved Ledo's.   I tried 3 different sauces, and the one that stood out to me head and shoulders above the rest was Muir Glen Organic Pizza Sauce.   I just order a 12 pack on Amazon Prime and then can have gourmet sauce on hand and ready at my beckon, any time.   Each can of sauce makes about 4 of these pizzas, so you get pretty good mileage too.

Next comes the dough.   I tried 4 different dough mixes, and the one that wins is Namaste Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix.    Healthy, sweet yogic name, plus the easiest to make.   The trick, which I will elaborate on later, is to make the dough into VERY thin pizzas, like 1/4 inch thin.

For cheese, we generally just pickup like a gallon bag of mozzarella from the grocery store and use it over the course of several weeks.  I also sometimes go with Daiya mozzarella.

Topping these bad boys is the best part!   Literally whatever is laying around can be made onto pizzas. I have done garlic + arugula (yum), charcuterie and grape tomatoes, truffle oil and black pepper, and dozens of other combinations that make each time fun and unique.

Now for the "how to."    

Part 1 is getting a bunch of crusts made up and into your freezer for anytime grab-and-go. 

1)   Prep the pizza dough by blending olive oil, water, and the dough mix.   Ignore the "makes X # pizzas" on the bag, since we won't be making round pies but rather personal rectangular(ish) pizzas.

      Keys to perfect crust

  • For the water, use hot water.   Also, use a power hand mixer on the dough if possible.
  • Spray a bunch of cooking sheets and make the pizzas into pies slightly smaller than a piece of paper folded in half.   This will be the perfect size rectangle pizza for a lunch or dinner with salad, and make for great sharing plates.
  • You MUST make the pies very thin -- thinner than you think -- still thinner -- more thin -- okay, there.   I'm not kidding, 1/4 inch thickness is about right.   Just keep using your spatula to paint the dough into shape and the dough blobs will eventually thin out.

2)  Bake the dough on pans, I can generally get about 3 pizzas on a pan and use several pans at once, so you can see we're going to have a lot of pies.   Bake them for 18 minutes on 450.   Yep 450.   I do 2 batches of 3 pans with 3 crusts each, which means I can have nearly 20 pizza crusts done in just an hour.

3)   When done, let cool and then take the crusts and wrap them in tin foil in individual wraps.  Then pop em in the freezer for anytime use.

Part 2 is the fun part - finishing the job.

4)   Heat oven to 415.  Grab a crust out of the freezer, unwrap it, and pop open a can of sauce.  Use a spoon to coat a thin (thinner than you think) layer of sauce onto a crust.   Saran or foil cover the sauce can and save the rest for your next pizza.

5)   Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce.

6)   Add on any awesome toppings you want!

7)   Bake for 10-12 minutes on 415 degrees.

Enjoy!   If you've done these right they will be crispy, light, and delicious.   Cut into 4 pieces and share with a guest or an amazing someone ;)

Finally, some microcosting.   12 pack of sauce cans costs $16 and each can makes 4 pizzas.   That is a per pizza cost of $0.33 cents on sauce.   6 pack of dough mixes costs $30 and each bag makes 18 pizzas.  That's about $0.27 cents on dough.   Adding in olive oil and mozzarella, both of which are not super expensive, and you can see that we're landing on a per pizza cost of about $1.00   Not bad for something this tasty and quick.