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Homemade Pizza for Your Family

by Brandie Valenzuela |
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Making homemade pizza can be intimidating to some parents, but it really doesn't have to be. I know, some of you may be saying, "Why bother? Just dial up Pizza Hut and they have it here within the hour!"

True, in our family, we do have pizza delivered about once a month, but I like to save money and recently I was pleased when my daughter and I had the following conversation:

Daughter: "What's for dinner tonight?"
Mom: "Pizza."
Daughter: "Homemade or delivered?"
Mom: (thinking that she was hoping for the delivered pizza) "Homemade."
Daughter: "YAY! COOL!"

Now that made me feel great! As I create our homemade pizzas that night, I knew I was making something that would not only save me a small fortune, but was something my family would be impressed with.

The last time I made my homemade pizza, I didn't buy much in extra toppings, but just used what I had in the fridge. Our local grocery store had a 2lb. block of Precious Mozzarella Cheese on sale for .99. I shredded the whole block up with the help of my son and used every bit! We made four large pizzas and one small one (I bake my pizzas on cookie sheets). At my best guess, I would assume that these five pizzas cost me no more than - to make -- which would include the cheese, sauce and dough makings, and toppings.

You may be saying, "I don't need to make five pizzas for my small family." Well, neither does our family (there is only four of us), but I always make a large batch and I freeze the leftovers. As a matter of fact, right now I have two large whole pizzas in my freezer that are ready to be placed on their cookie sheet and baked -- talk about saving time!

One of the best ways to save money when you are making your own pizza is to make your own pizza dough. I don't really follow a recipe for it, but I will share a pizza dough recipe that I have used and it is very similiar to how I do mine, except that I would at least triple this recipe.

Basic Pizza Dough
1 1/3 warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt

Grease two 14-in. pizza pans or equivalent. In a cup or small bowl, mix the water and the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Add sugar and let stand until mixture is foamy on the top. Mix in flour and salt. When mixture begins to form a ball, remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for 5 minutes or until smooth. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let stand for 2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch down dough. Pat and stretch the dough onto your greased pans. You may need to let your dough "rest", if it keeps wanting to shrink back. Top with your pizza sauce, cheese, and other toppings. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Pizza cannot be complete without pizza sauce. I usually prefer to make my own, but on occasion, I have used a jarred pasta sauce. Here is an excellent recipe so that you can make your own pizza sauce:

"Brandie's Pizza Sauce"
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups water
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Garlic powder, salt & pepper, sugar to taste

In a bowl, mix all of the above ingredients thoroughly, excluding sugar. If you find the sauce to be too tangy, add small amount of sugar. Makes about 3 cups of sauce, which should be enough for two 12 - 14-inch round pizza pans or 1 large size cookie sheet.

Now on to the fun part! I have made a variety of pizzas for my family during the years. If Domino's or Pizza Hut have it on their menu, I have probably made it. Here is a list of the type pizzas I have made often and how to make them:

~Plain cheese: Just sauce and shredded cheese!

~Pepperoni: Just sauce, shredded mozzarella, and pepperoni!

~Hawaiian Pizza: Spread sauce on dough, top with shredded mozzarella, pineapple chucks (I used Dole's Fun Shapes..there are very small and the kids like the fun shapes), and sliced ham luncheon meat.

~Bar-B-Q Beef: I cook one pound of ground beef with one small onion (chopped). When done, we stirred in our favorite bottled bar-b-q sauce. I then spread this mixture on top of the dough and topped with shredded cheddar cheese.

~Mexican Pizza: I spread the top of the pizza dough with refried beans, and then topped it with shredded cheddar cheese. After baking, I added some drained (and patted dry) diced, canned tomatoes and shredded lettuce and served immediately.

~Stuffed Cheese Crust: If you would like to make your pizza with a cheesy crust, just put string cheese on the edges of the pizza and fold and seal the dough over the string cheese. Continue around the edges of your pizza.

~Veggie Pizza: Top your dough with sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and an assortment of vegetables. Anything will do, but some ideas are: sliced bell peppers, sliced mushrooms, sliced black olives, and small broccoli trees.

~Chicken Pizza: Do you have some leftover chicken breasts from another meal? If so, dice up the chicken and use it as a topping.

~Meat Pizza: If you love meats, this is the one for you. Just use any or all of the following: cooked ground beef, cooked bacon pieces, cooked sausage, pepperoni, ham, etc.

~Nacho Pizza: Spread your dough with a nacho cheese sauce, top with shredded cheddar cheese and sliced jalepenos. ~Bacon Cheeseburger: Top your dough with sauce, and then the following: cooked ground beef, cooked bacon bits, and cheddar cheese.

~Dessert Pizza: Spread dough with your favorite pie filling. Using apple? Top with a streusel topping. Using cherry? Drizzle with icing.

~Alfredo Pizza: Get rid of that traditional tomatoe-based sauce! Spread your pizza dough with some delicious alfredo sauce, top with shredded mozzarella.

Of course, the above are just an example of the type of pizzas you can make. Every person in your family has their favorites, so just ask them what kind of pizza toppings they would like...I am sure they will answer you! Another idea is to invite the kids into the kitchen and have them help you with the preparations. Children love to create pizzas and this is the kind of meal that no one can mess up -- there is no "right" way to add the cheese and toppings!

So, if you have never made homemade pizza before, I hope my tips have inspired you. If you have made it before, I hope that you learned a new idea or two, but most of all, I hope that you have learned that pizza making isn't for a gourmet cook, and that any parent can learn to save money by making their families favorite meal, and not calling out to the local pizza parlor!


Great Salads & Low Fat Dressings


About the author: Brandie Valenzuela is married and a mother of two children. She is currently expecting their third child in December of 2000. If you like this article, then be sure to check out Brandie's FREE ezines dedicated to the family: The Family First Newsletter and the Daily Holiday Recipe at: http://members.aol.com/BMValen/index.html

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