Monday, July 14, 2008

Homemade pizza, an experiment in budgeting

I use the term "homemade" very, very recklessly here; this pizza was homemade in a very Sandra Lee-inspired way. Frequently when I'm visiting my good friends the innernets I come across a lot of budget-smart blogger moms who make their own pizza at home and rave about the "tremendous money savings" and how much "fun" it is to do with their kids.

Dadgum it, they're right again.

Now, most of the recipes I've found use the real deal when it comes to dough, starting from scratch. There's a lot of covering and waiting for dough to rise for an hour or so and then punching it down and blah, blah, blah. But some of us had a loooong rainy Sunday evening yesterday and couldn't be arsed with such nonsense.

I started hunting for a recipe shortly after the last time we called our local Papa Domino's Hut. For a large pizza for our family of four, it was close to $25 with tip. But my time is very precious to me too; I mean, all that time in the kitchen jabbing at dough and such could be spent sprawled in the beanbag chair eating Pirate's Booty crumbs off my t-shirt. Anyway.

After I perused a few recipes I realized I had most of the stuff I needed already on hand: parmesan cheese, some leftover bolognese sauce from Friday night,ricotta cheese, and olive oil. So, not counting the stuff I already had in my pantry and freezer, I ended up spending only about $14, and there's still lots of ingredients remaining for future pizzas.

A quick roundup of my grocery list:
Two bags of Martha White pizza crust mix, $2(This was the real time saver! My home girl Martha always comes through for biscuits, cornbread and now pizza crust. That chick is something else. )

One jar of Ragu Pizza Quick sauce, $2.89 --Please don't judge me. I've tried a lot of fancier pizza sauces over the years and they were either cloyingly sweet or just tasted like plain tomato puree. This one fit the budget, doesn't have a lot of added sugar, and has a good blend of spices.

Small can of black olives, $1.89 - Maybe it's because it's part of her name, but our Liv loves her some black olives. We let her mark her territory with a ton of them when we were adding the toppings.

Turkey pepperoni, $3.79

Mozzerella cheese, $3.19 --sliced, not shredded

The process was so stoopidly simple, but much more fun than wringing our hands waiting for the pizza delivery guy.
First, I used my two packs of dough mix and followed the package directions, which just calls for adding about a cup of hot water and mixing with a fork. And the covering and wait time? Five minutes, people. I told you Martha's my kinda gal.

The dough turned out very pliable and stretchy enough to cover a fairly large square jelly roll pan, and I pinched the edges to make a lip for the sauce. Next we brushed a thin layer of olive oil on the dough to keep the sauce from seeping through and to help crisp up the edges. Then we spread only about four or five tablespoons of sauce so the crust wouldn't get soggy.

Next we slapped on the cheese and got down to the businesses of adding our individual toppings. Olivia chose the top right-hand section for her olive-palooza. I picked the left section for sort of a lasagna-esque deal with the meat sauce and ricotta. I added a few pepperoni slices too. The picky boy child, well, he went a little crazy and added some extra cheese to his section.

The baking time was only about 15 minutes, but about halfway through I noticed the cheese on the right-hand side was browning faster than the rest, so I tented it with some foil. This turned out super yummy, and the kids were very impressed with their efforts. This is definitely something we'll work into the regular rotation because it offered a fun activity plus a dinner that pleased everyone's individual tastes. Ah, success- - it smells a lot like garlic. And olives.


dawn said...

mama mia! yummy! cooking on a stone is also a good way to keep the heat distributed evenly and crisp up that dough. wondering if you could make calzones with it as well...

Tracy said...

Oh, sure---in fact calzones are probably the next thing we'll try with this dough. It's the best! I used to have a Pampered Chef stone but "someone" (um, maybe me) dropped it and cracked it.