Pizza Night at the Porter House

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday night is Pizza Night in the Porter House. Pizza night is my husband David's favorite night of the week. He LOVES pizza! Who doesn't, right?
Fridays and Sundays are always the days when I use my absolute favorite kitchen appliance - my bread machine! The bread machine is the best thing I ever purchased for my kitchen (well that and my crock pot) and if you don't have one, I HIGHLY recommend investing in one. They run about $50 and trust me, you will DEFINITELY get your money's worth out of it!
On Fridays I make pizza crust and on Sundays I make bread. Most people are hesitant to buy a bread machine because they don't like the fact that when you bake the bread in the machine, it has a funny shape and leaves a hole in the bottom of the loaf. To tell you the truth, I have the same feelings and I rarely use my bread machine to actually bake the bread. I use the dough cycle and let the machine do all the hard work, then I just shape the bread into loaves, baguettes, rolls, whatever shape I want, and bake it in the oven. It works beautifully and makes it so easy to have fresh, homemade bread! Homemade bread also freezes really well.
With the bread machine, it is so easy to make homemade pizza for your family and it is definitely more health conscious than getting take out or frozen pizza because you know EXACTLY what is in it! I usually make whole wheat pizza crust and save white crust for special occasions, like when we have company over on pizza night (my husband LOVES it when we invite friends over because he LOVES white crust!) If you have never had wheat crust on your pizza, it really is delicious! It may take your family a little getting used to, especially if you are used to eating take out pizza, however, I think you will find that in a short amount of time, your family will be enjoying the health benefits and the taste of wheat crust. I also add flax meal to my crust for a little added nutrition.

Here is my recipe for a delicious whole wheat pizza crust that is soft and chewy. I also have an excellent white crust recipe, so if you would like that one, please let me know!

1 1/2 cups all purpose white flour (or bread flour)
2 cups whole wheat flour (I use the King Arthur brand)
1 tbsp. dry active yeast
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt (or garlic powder if you want to lower the salt content)
1 teaspoon sugar (you can use white or brown sugar)
1 tsp. flax meal

Add ingredients to your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Set to dough cycle. That's it! Your pizza dough is ready in about an hour and a half, and your bread machine did all the work, now wasn't that easy?

Once your dough is ready, roll out into a greased pizza pan or pizza stone. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Top with your favorite toppings and cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted and bubbly.

My husband LOVES pepperoni pizza so I usually buy some really good pepperoni from the deli counter at my grocery store. There are a lot of really wonderful toppings. I also love to make a pesto chicken pizza, and a barbecue chicken pizza.

My pizza sauce is also super easy. All you need is a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, a 6 oz can of tomato paste, 1 tbsp. dried italian herbs (or more if you're like me and like your sauce herby), 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/4 cup pureed butternut squash or sweet potato (optional), and salt and pepper to taste. Mix all the ingredients using an immersion blender, a regular blender, or a food processor until smooth. I add the butternut squash or sweet potato as a little added bonus. You cannot taste the squash (or sweet potato) and not only does it add texture to the sauce, it also adds a little added nutrition (and an extra serving of veggies).

Pizza night is also a GREAT way to get your kids involved in the kitchen. The pizza dough can be easily divided to make individual sized pizzas. You can offer a variety of toppings and your kids will love making their own personal pizzas! You can also have your kids help you make large pizzas by having them add the toppings and the cheese! My son Daniel loves to place the pepperoni on the pizza! Because I believe that vegetables should always be served with dinner, we always have a tossed green salad with our pizza.

Pizza Friday is a tradition that David and I started early in our dating relationship and 7 years later, it is a tradition that is still alive and well. In that 7 years, the pizza has evolved, but the family time spent together has always been the same. This is a meal that we prepare and enjoy together, and even our one year old son is able to help out! It is quality time spent as a family that we truly value. Sometimes we invite our friends and their children over to enjoy pizza night, because it is so special to us and we want to "spread the love" as they say. Pizza Friday is sacred in our home, nothing else is scheduled on Friday evenings, that is our time together.

Until next time Foodie Mommies and Daddies, happy cooking!


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