Quick & Easy Personalized Pizza

Lately, for some reason, dinner stresses me out.  I dont know if its the whole 'getting married and being someone's wife' thing or if its just the 'not on a diet anymore (though i should be) so there's no excuse for less than amazing-tasting food' thing or if its the 'i want more to post on the blog' thing or my competitive nature which makes me want to outdo myself every time, but every time Jordan asks if i have any idea what i want for dinner, i get immediately stressed...

The other morning, on the way to work, we were talking about this and were talking about how a rotation of themes would help...  for example, nearly every sunday, we have some sort of pasta.  I grew up that way and Jordan is more than happy to play along and that makes sunday night dinner the least stressful one of the whole week - because at least there is always a starting point...

So we started brainstorming themes - things that, like pasta, could be as easy or as complex as you allow them to be.  and we came up with pizza...  We've been on a pizza kick for months now, after discovering this awesome little place - Bodrum - not too far from our apartment that does flatbread pizzas.  In the summer they have a great little outdoor area and in the winter, the fiery pizza oven makes it super-cozy inside...  Its become our go-to when we want grown-up pizza (there's wine, you see...)

But i digress - i was talking pizza at home...  so, anyway...  after a few seconds of though, we realized that pizza can be incredibly easy if you choose to buy all pre-made parts and just assemble them or can be more complicated if you choose to make your own pizza dough & sauce or have to pre-cook any of your toppings.  Therefore, i'm calling it -

Pizza is the new Pasta!

(dont worry sunday nights, you'll always be pasta night...)

In addition to it being wherever you want on the difficulty meter, another great things about pizza night is everyone can have whatever they want.  As long as you can agree on a crust, you are golden!  This is imperative when you have people with differing tastes - vegetarian, meat-eating, pepper-adverse, whatever...


This particular take on pizza was fairly simple - store bought crust (TJs wheat crust - 99cents! woo!  though, i highly recommend stopping by your local pizzeria and asking to buy dough - did you know they sell it?  i never did until i read it on someone else's blog a while back), doctored up store-bought sauce and we stayed fairly basic with our cheeses & other toppings.  However, now that we've declared pizza as a new theme, you can be assured we'll be experimenting.  and, of course, since half of my stress is 'blog fodder' - sharing it here with you.

Quick & Easy Personalized Pizza
courtesy of me

Special tools used:  Pizza stone, pizza peel.  If you dont have these, just use baking sheets - one in the oven pre-heating and the back of another one for assembling the pizza

1/4 c cornmeal
1 trader joe's whole wheat pizza crust (feel free to buy one from a store or your pizzeria or make your own instead)

~ 1/2 jar trader joe's pizza sauce
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp basil, chiffonaded (is that a word?  spell check wants to call it chickenfeed!  ha!)

~1 c shredded mozzarella
~1 c shredded asiago

1/4 of an onion, sliced thinly & layers separated into individual pieces
3 small sweet peppers, sliced (think slightly larger than jalepenos)
1 medium tomato, sliced & slices cut in half

crushed red pepper (optional)


Remove pizza dough from fridge and allow to come to room temperature (in its bag)
Place pizza stone in oven on middle rack and preheat to 450°

turn pizza dough out onto lightly floured surface to suck up any lingering stickiness

once dough is no longer wet, start shaping it into a circle.  Try to imitate the local pizza dudes and use your fists to turn & stretch it out until it is about 10" around.

spread a fairly generous amount of cornmeal onto your pizza peel (this is IMPORTANT) and place stretched dough on top of it.  Continue to stretch and shape until its about 12" diameter.  Dont worry if its not a perfect circle - mine tend to end up oblong -as long as its fairly consistent in thickness (with a little extra thickness at the edge) and fits on your stone, its all good.

mix 1/2 of a jar of TJs pizza sauce with the minced garlic & 1 tbsp of the basil

spread that mix evenly over the pizza, leaving about 1/2" - 1" around all edges

sprinkle half of the asiago and half of the mozzarella over the sauce

Now for the customization - here's how we made ours:
onion pieces on entire pizza
pepper slices on half of pizza
tomato slices on the other half of pizza
crushed red pepper on the side with tomato slices (warning - it will bake in and get REALLY hot.  be very sparing...) 
Back to the whole pizza:
To finish it off, sprinkle remaining basil over toppings, sprinkle remaining cheese over that and sprinkle oregano over the whole thing.

Slide off of pizza peel (this is why the cornmeal is SO important - thats what allows it to slide) onto the hot pizza stone and cook ~ 7 - 8 minutes.

Allow to cool for 3-4 minutes prior to serving to allow cheese to 'set'

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