Since I moved into my new place about a year ago, I’ve been on the hunt for easy, breezy and delicious dinner recipes. It started off with incredibly basic things – like potstickers, rice and a salad – that take little to no planning or preparation. But, over time, the tried and true meals tasted bland and I found myself getting incredibly bored. So, for the sake of my taste buds, I’ve taken to the interwebs and a few great cookbooks to get a feel for what’s actually possible in this kitchen of mine.
My research left me with a couple great takeaways. The first thing I learned about creating a meal was this: if you can follow instructions, you can cook. But what I didn’t realize was that recipes are like templates – sure, they build a great final product, but who says you can’t make any alterations? After all, it’s going in your stomach! The second thing I learned was that, as in life, timing is everything. It’s one thing to create a mouthwatering salad with pasta and sizzling steaks as individual items; but if you have no concept of timing then your steak could finish before your pasta is tender and you’ve cut your fresh vegetables.
One of my newest, and most delectable, additions is making pizza! If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, chances are you’ve seen my ridiculously scrumptious posts floating across your timeline; if not, that’s just too bad because my creations are amazing! It’s super simple to make, it’s affordable and its great for groups. Simply ask each person to come with a favorite topping – or beverage – and voila, collaborative pizza party! The one thing I do need to own up to is that I don’t make my own pizza dough, but hey – what do I look like, Papa John?
Pizza – Prep Time :20 // :15-20
- 12″ Pizza Tray, but a cookie sheet will work if you’re S-O-L
- Cutting Board
- Small, sharp knife
- 1 Tbs Flour
- Pizza Dough: I love the premade dough at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s; I tried the ‘Garlic & Herb’ last night and it was delish! If you’re feeling crafty, you can even make your own!
- Sauce: Trader Joe’s makes a great pizza sauce, but I actually perfer using pasta sauce like Ragu’s Old World Style in Meat Flavor
- 6 oz Grated Cheese: Half a block or half a bag, depending on your preference. You could get fancy, buy a nice block and grate it yourself but I prefer the pregrated cheese assortments like the ‘Three Cheese Mexican Blend’ at TJ’s.
- Toppings: First of all, there are a world of toppings to choose from so why confine yourself to the basics? Walk over to your local produce spot and take a gander at their fresh veggies then head over to a deli and take a peak at their meats.
- Dranks: Wine and beer both go great with pizza, and I suggest opening a bottle of either (or, both!) while you get cooking!
- Preheat your oven to 450 F
- Sprinkle the flour lightly over the pizza tray and set the pizza dough on top of the flour; it’ll take about 20 minutes to properly rise.
- While you’re waiting on your dough, cut up the vegetables and meat into bite size portions. It’s okay to sneak a few bites, I won’t tell!
- After 20 minutes is up, spread the dough evenly on the pizza tray using your hands or a rolling pin if one is available
- Cover the pizza with sauce, leaving about half an inch at the edge for crust. I’d say use about 4 heaping spoonfuls of sauce, and make sure it’s spread out evenly
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese on the sauce then distribute your toppings
- Turn the oven to bake, and put the pizza tray in for 15 minutes
- Set an alarm, and check the crust at 10 minutes – then leave for longer based on your desired crispiness!
For meats, it depends how much work you want to put into it – Trader Joe’s carries something called ‘Just Chicken’ that’s precooked, or you could prepare your own chicken. Then there are the packaged meats like salami, ham and prosciutto; I can’t give you a favorite because they’re all so good
There are so many different vegetables you can throw on pizza, but so far I’ve really enjoyed are: avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Now, I’ve tried using two different types of tomatoes – the larger, ‘off-the-vine’ variety and smaller, grape tomatoes. I thought the size of the grape tomato would be better to deal with, but in actuality I prefer the larger ones!
You can pick all of these up at any supermarket, but if you want to kickass in your community find a mom and pop produce and deli store to make your purchases. It’s a lot more affordable with a bigger variety of veggies to choose from, and to boot you’re helping stimulate your local economy.