Super Snacks for the Super Bowl - Easy, Home Made Pizza

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms

Pizza used to be GREAT and it didn't really matter where you got it. Neighborhood restaurants, at the beach.....even (surprise!) at the bakery.

Whether you got a whole pie or just a slice, it was always hot, gooey and oh, so yummy!  And, let's not forget all that warm olive oil running down your chin........divine!!!

But not any more.
Franchises, chain restaurants and grocery stores have plasticized pizza into something not worth eating..... and convenience store pizza.... well, forget card board stuff all together!  

In less time than you think.... and for a lot less money  (and with so much good taste) you can whip up real, yummy, olive oil drippy pizza at home.... can there be anything better? 

Treat your Super Bowl crowd to home made pizza.

Easy, Home Made New York Style Pizza

New York style means the crust is thin....  but not too thin.  The crust should be just a little bread like to perfectly balance the equal amount of sauce and cheese.  

If the crust is too thin, it gets crispy - like a cracker.  That's called Californian style and usually has non traditional toppings like avocado, blue cheese or goat cheese.  California style pizza often has no tomato sauce but may have fresh, raw tomatoes.   

Chicago style pizza is traditional pizza only with a very thick (almost an inch) bread crust.  It's more crust than sauce or toppings.  

Makes 1 (14-16 inch) pizza

Pan size - a 14 to 16 inch pizza pan is ideal but any similar round or square pan will work.
Large pizza pans (disposable or reusable) are available in most grocery stores. 

3 tablespoons old fashioned (coarse) grits (not quick cooking or instant)
1 batch dough (recipe follows)
2 cups thick pasta sauce (your favorite - about 20 oz.)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups shredded, whole milk mozzarella cheese (or to taste - skim milk or part skim milk cheese not recommended - see Karla's Tip #1 below)
Optional pizza toppings (as desired - see Karla's Tip #2 below )

Grease pan or coat with cooking spray.  Sprinkle grits evenly over bottom. 

Using your fingers, press dough over grits to fill pan bottom. (Dampen hands with cool water to prevent sticking.  Do not use flour. It's OK if dough shrinks back from edges of the pan.) 

Using your finger tips, lightly rub dough with 1 tablespoon of oil.  Be sure to oil the edges of he dough next to the rim of the pan.

Spread sauce to within 1/2 inch of edges.  This is important.  Leaving the 1/2 inch edge will give you the traditional looking crust once the dough has risen.  

Sprinkle with oregano.  Top with cheese.

Toss toppings in remaining oil and distribute over cheese.  Use a plastic scraper to get all the oil out of the bowl and onto the pizza.  (If you're not adding any toppings, just drizzle the remaining oil over the cheese.)

Let rise in a warm place until edges have doubled in size - about 1 hour. (Don't worry about the whole pizza doubling in size.... it's only the edges that need to rise.)

After dough has risen, position the oven rack so the pizza will bake in the center of the oven. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   

Bake 40 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cheese has melted.


Karla's Tip #1  - Mozzarella Cheese
Get whole milk mozzarella cheese - not skim milk or part skim cheese.  Whole milk melts better and gives you that traditional stringy texture with every bite.  Skim milk or part skin cheese is more common - especially in the pre-shredded packages - but whole milk is readily available - just read the labels.

Also - avoid pre-shredded cheeses.  They are usually coated with an invisible film of cellulose or starch to keep the shreds from sticking together.  You don't need that extra starch and the quality (and taste) of coated cheese is not as good.

Karla's Tip #2  - Optional Toppings
Anything/everything....the sky's the limit!
(But you can also just leave the pizza plain.....)

Raw veggies (broccoli, onions, mushrooms, green/red/yellow peppers, egg plant, ....etc.)
Cooked meat or seafood (sausage, ground beef, meatballs, chicken, shrimp)
Fresh basil leaves 

Using a bread machine makes this a snap!
You will never buy one of those expensive pre-baked (and often taste-less) crusts again!

1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon Kosher salt (or 2 teaspoons regular salt)
4 1/4 cups bread flour (not all purpose flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast (1 envelope)

Using the Bread Machine
Put ingredients in order into a bread machine.  Set on "pizza dough."  (No pizza dough setting?  Use the regular "dough" setting.)  

Continue with recipe after dough cycle is complete.

By Hand
Mix all dry ingredients together.  Stir in water.  Knead 10 minutes or until elastic. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double - about 45 minutes then continue with recipe.


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