Don’t tell my husband this, but every once in a while he comes up with a genius recipe idea. This does not include his attempt to add red sugar sprinkles to oatmeal raisin cookies and call it a “secret ingredient” nor does it include the time he served all of our friends lighter fluid flavored hot dogs because someone is particularly impatient when it comes to charcoal grills. No, every once in a while he has this moment of pure culinary brilliance when he produces a food masterpiece.
When hubby was deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Al Udeid, or whatever sand storm was the current war torn hot spot, I had a lot of free time to scour cookbooks and plot recipes to celebrate his return. I also arranged and rearranged the fridge multiple times a week, but that is a story for another day (I mean, you do weird things when your significant other leaves for months at a time). Anyhow, I poured over my cookbooks and flagged about 217 recipes, of which I will probably make four. One of those recipes happened to be for a whole wheat pizza crust. I have always been intimidated by making pizza dough from scratch, mostly because I was afraid of any recipe that included yeast. “Live active yeast” just sounds terrifying not mention it shares the name with an infection occuring in the female reproductive system. What sort of creatures are inhabiting all of our delicious breads and pastries? Plus, yeast has that extra step of mixing it with hot water of a certain temperature which always seemed like a hassle. The fact that yeast doughs have about four ingredients and come together in about 10 minutes had no apparent bearing on my opinion of from-scratch pizza.
Truthfully, I like making meals from scratch because I can be sure I am eating whole, nutricious foods that are cost effective. Learning to not rely on processed foods has required a bit of planning on my part, but the beauty of this recipe is that it can be made ahead of time and frozen. Then, whenever you are in the mood for some homemade pizza-liciousness, you can just pull one of these out of the freezer, thaw and bake. So while John was busy defending America’s freedom, I was at home furiously mixing up pizza dough in an attempt to defend against a hungry John (he gets downright cranky when he’s hungry. The military may want to use this as a tactic before sending service men and women for battle).
The dough turned out soft and deliciously yeasty, but it was John’s brainchild that made the pizza truly magical. Due to the abundance of veggies floating around the fridge and my insistance that John eat something green and use everything up before it gets relegated to the compost pile , he came up with a tasty little pizza pie that Papa John himself would be jealous of. It wasn’t so much the ingredients, however, that made this a delish dish but his unique cooking method that made it outstanding. After having trouble making a perfectly circular pie (who’s OCD now?!?) , he came up with the idea of baking the pizza in a cast iron skillet. The bottom of the crust got hot and crispy while the center remained thick and doughy. The picture below is his particular version of a “meatless lovers” pizza. I don’t ask John to follow a vegetarian diet, but my passive aggressive glares in the meat aisle sort of aid in his decision to go animal free. If anyone asks, I’ll adamently deny it and assure you that he 100% loves vegetables so much that he just can’t stand the thought of eating anything but leafy greens and things that sprout.
To make a ridiculously long story about pizza making short, I’ll just say that having an easy, wholesome recipe for crust on hand is the ticket for getting a fun dinner on the table fast. Plus, you can turn it into a family affair and everyone can personalize their own pizza creations. I think kids would get much more of a kick out of that than listening to mom frantically trying to call in a last minute pizza delivery and then trying to subdue (or sedate?) the children until the foodage arrives. If this can keep a hungry John happy, I’m confident it will please your little warriers at home as well. Plus, there’s no tipping-unless, of course, you bribe your kids to set the table. In that case, you might have to dole out a nickel or two for their hard work. Yep, a nickel. I already feel bad for our unborn children. But at least they’ll have pizza night!
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (makes one 12 inch crust or six slices)
3/4 c. all purpose flour, divided
1 package fast rising yeast (don’t be afraid!)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. very hot water (120 degrees)
2 tsp. honey
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1. Combine all purpose flour, yeast, and salt in bowl. Add hot water and honey, stiring until smooth. Mix in enough whole wheat flour to make a soft dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth and elastic (KIDS ARE GREAT AT THIS STEP!). Cover dough with bowl and let stand 15 minutes. Spread dough in cast iron skillet or baking sheet. Top with favorite ingredients and bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Nutrition information: 101 calories, 0.3 grams of fat, 90 mg. sodium, 3.5 grams protein, 21.6 grams carbohydrates