In college, things changed. Poor starving college students know that eating out becomes a luxury that is few and far between. I had discovered Trader Joe's and fell in love as soon as I walked inside. (It is so painful that the closest one to me now is 45 minutes away!) They have ready made pizza dough for $1. And it freezes beautifully. I could get 2-3 personal sized pizzas from the dough. Thus, the college student began to fall in love with homemade pizza...
1. The Dough. I am really picky about my dough. I really despise the pre-cooked ones you can pick up at the super market, and don't even get me started on the insane notion of trying to use an english muffin as a crust. Told you I was picky. I use this recipe. Once I found it and had it, I stopped looking for a new one. You can make it a night or two before, leave it in the fridge, and you don't have to roll it! The pre-made Trader's Joe dough is good too. The trick for that one is to roll it out and cook it for 8 minutes or so before putting on the sauce and toppings...it doesn't like to cook all the way through with everything on it. Another reason I love the above recipe...don't have to do that step anymore!
2. The Sauce. This is your opportunity to use your favorite marinara. So use it!
3. The Cheese. I love to layer in between my toppings. Example: Sauce, cheese, mushrooms, cheese, peppers, cheese, etc. Just don't try and cover the entire thing with each layer...I guess unless you love cheese that much. I am ashamed to say I have yet to figure out how to use the fresh mozzarella Maybe one day I'll get it down. It always seems to be watery/runny when I use it so I've stopped for now. Nothing wrong with some good old fashion pre-shredded goodness!
4. The Toppings. Get the ones you love, and don't be afraid to try new ones! One of the beauties of homemade pizza is that it is 100% custom! For a while I was on a veggie kick, so they turned out more like flat breads with roasted vegetables with a sprinkling of pepper jack cheese (yum!). Have you ever had roasted garlic and onions on your pizza? Life changing. Seriously.
5. Consider Personal or Sharing Pies. Personal pizza are the best. They are smaller (portion control!) and just for you. So if you hate olives but your friend loves them...no big deal! (I am on team no-olives!) Of course, you can also split the pie right down the middle. My sister and her boyfriend did that in the pic above. Brilliant, no?!?
6. Seasonings. You can pick up "pizza seasoning" in the spice isle. It is an assortment of dried herbs...usually basil, oregano, and parsley. I put some on every pizza. Some. Not a lot. A little goes a long way...
7. Olive Oil. When my pizza turns out to be more like a flatbread with mostly toppings and little cheese, I like drizzling olive oil over the top. Delicious. Like 1 teaspoon or so. Have fun and fling it around! I skip this if it's more like a traditional pizza.
8. Salt and Pepper. On pizza?!? I know, I'm crazy right? Just a small sprinkling of salt and pepper over the top makes it oh so good. But don't take my word for it. Try it and find out for yourself.
9. Hot Oven. I am totally guilty of throwing things in the oven while it is preheating. You cannot do that with pizza. Just trust me on this one.
10. The Broiler. A lot of people are scared of the broiler. But the broiler in small doses is a good thing. It browns cheese in just the right places. It makes the crust nice a crispy. With pizza, the broiler is your friend. I crank on the broiler the last 2 minutes of cooking time. Then I get perfection.
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