Friday, September 17, 2010

Quick Tip: Pro Pizza Toppings

Bill loves pizza, in a serious way. Most weeks it's inevitable that pizza makes the dinnertime menu. To save money and eat healthier, we often make our own at home. Making dough from scratch is fun, but at the end of a long work week or a rough Monday, I'm searching for ready-made solutions.
However, when using one shortcut, it's still a cinch to give a homemade touch with extra love to the art of toppings.
  • 1 lb whole wheat pizza dough, fresh or thawed
  • package shredded mozzarella cheese (for lactose solutions, see Brands I Like below)
  • 1 jar pasta baking sauce
  • 3 raw Italian chicken sausages
  • 6 baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • garlic salt
  • oregano
  • fresh-ground salt & pepper
  • flour for kneading
  • olive oil
  • cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. I recommend using a round, grated pizza dish. Although we do own a pizza stone, melted cheese can make clean-up a fiasco. I find a basic, perforated pizza pan, like this one, to be the most fool proof.

First, cut the chicken sausages into half inch pieces. It may be easier to remove the sausage meat from the cases. Saute pieces in a skillet coated with cooking spray. Season with garlic salt, oregano and pepper. Add onions and cook until sausage browns and is just cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Remove sausage mixture and reserve pan.

Add olive oil to pan, scrape up the sausage drippings and add baby bella slices. Season with grated sea salt. Cook on a low heat until mushrooms soften and start to sweat, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in sausage & onion mixture.

Divide 1 lb of dough in half, wrap other half and place in fridge. Roll out first half of dough on a lightly floured surface. If you don't have a rolling pin, use the jar of spaghetti sauce or cooking spray can. Don't stress if it's not perfectly round, mine never is. Carefully lift up dough and transfer to pizza pan that has been lightly greased with cooking spray. Pinch ends of dough up to make crust. Spoon pasta sauce onto dough and spread around dough, careful to leave a little space along the edge.

Sprinkle with cheese to your liking, I usually use half a package of those preshredded bags of cheese. Add half of sausage/mushroom/onion topping evenly over pizza, transfer to oven and bake 10-12 minutes. While the first pizza is baking, roll out the second pizza. When the 1st pizza is cooked, transfer to baking sheet and transfer uncooked dough to pizza pan & repeat steps to make crust and add toppings. Let pizza sit a couple minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Brands I Like: I always make one pizza with mozzarella and the 2nd pizza with a lactose free alternative. For my fellow lactards, I recommend this shredded mozzarella faux-cheese. It melts well and can satisfy my cravings without making me feel miserable. The package is a little small, and I used almost all of it on my lactose-free pizza.

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