Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Homemade Pizza a la Cabbage Ranch

Sunday night is pizza night here at Cabbage Ranch.  By Sunday evening we've usually run all our errands, finished riding horses, the house is (theoretically) clean, and attention finally shifts to meal planning for the week ahead, and a fun dinner together.

We don't live all that far outside the boundaries of civilization, but there is definitely no such thing as delivery pizza out here.  I love pizza, and that situation wasn't too bueno with me at first, but now I'm glad.  Life's challenges only make you stronger, you know? 

Without living in the boonies, I wouldn't have started making my own pizza.  And in turn, making my own pizza made me a better person.

[cue music: Wind Beneath My Wings]


I started out using the Betty Crocker pizza crust packets, but when I ran out of them one day I resorted to the recipe in my trusty old Joy of Cooking.  That crust was better- and easier- than the packets.  But it wasn't quite perfect in a kinda way because that crust required two stages of baking (before and after adding toppings) and was too crunchy.   

Then, I tried The Pioneer Woman's pizza crust.

It has become the foundation for my pizza paradigm.

Once you try it, it will become yours, too.  You've been warned.  Don't try it unless you're ready for it.  But trust me when I say you are. 

Making your own crust is easy and fast.  It seriously takes me about five minutes (even with a baby on my hip although that's become so normal it's like what I imagine having a third eye might be like- distracting at first but really after a while how could you have ever lived without it?), and the hardest part used to be remembering to buy the yeast packets.  So you know what I did?  I bought a jar of yeast.  Now I am never without my little friends. 

Word to the yeast.

So Sunday nights I throw together some flour, salt, and olive oil, then stir in a yeast/water mixture.  Knead it a few times, because [wait for it]

It's nice to be kneaded.

...and put it on the back of the stove to rise for a little while. 

While that magic happens, I usually start dinner number two, which is often a crockpot meat or bean-based dish that will cook all night and get thrown in the fridge as I dash out the door Monday morning. 

The Pioneer Woman's pizza crust recipe calls for it to rise for at least an hour, and it really is best that way.  BUT due to unforeseen conditions- and by unforeseen I mean I didn't foresee my life this hectic or multitasked to the Nth degree and I definitely didn't foresee the challenge of buttoning my jeans some days- I've even skipped that step and it turned out fine. 

When I'm ready to make pizzas, I get out my oldest and most venerable cookie sheets and rub them with a little olive oil.  (Don't try to substitute cooking spray, take it from me.  You need the olive oil for a good texture.) 

Divide the dough in half, then stretch and pat each half into a thin sheet.

Open a jar of your favorite tomato sauce.  We like to use pasta sauce, because then I don't have to remember to buy pizza sauce.  It's all about me.

Spread about 3/4 cup of sauce on each pizza.

Grab grated mozzerella, thinly sliced roma tomatoes, pepperoni, a sliced cooked sausage (leftovers, unite!), and fresh basil.  If you have some parmesan, that makes it double plus good. 

Layer everything on until it's just how you want it.  I love being able to control the amount and quality of the ingredients we eat.  Cabbage is a straight-up pepperoni man, but Beep and I like all different toppings and sauces.  She and I are both huge fans of pesto subbed for tomato sauce, topped with mozzerella, parmesan and tomatoes.

Bake for 10-14 minutes, depending on how browned you like your pizza.  Around this ranch, we're 14ers.

About this time your baby will start pointing and whining for cheese and if you have a husband named Cabbage, he will too.  He likes this pizza in a big way.

But wait!  There's more!  Sprinkle with fresh basil.  I chopped it, cuz I don't want big leaves and I'm the boss of this here pizza.  Round these parts.  In this frontier town. 

After it cools a few minutes, I cut it into small pieces, pile them on a wooden platter, and we all dig in.  It's Sunday night!

One of the beautiful things about this recipe is that it stores well, and when feeding the three of us it makes enough for this meal plus a generous amount of leftovers.  We have it again for another dinner.  Or a couple of lunches.  Or breakfast.  Whatever.

The important thing is, it's your pizza, done how you like it, and it's totally something you can do for yourself and anyone else you want to let onto your pizza ranch.  Enjoy!

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