Margherita Time

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This time last year Jesse and I were taking the first giant step of this newest journey in our life. We left the Thursday before Memorial Day and made our way across the United States to San Diego. I’m pretty used to long drives but this was in a class of it’s own. Still it was amazing. It was great having a chance to spend 3 days with just the 2 of us. Plus let’s be honest, this is a pretty cool country and we went from lush farm lands in the midwest, to wide open spaces in Texas, to dry flat dessert in Arizona, then green beautiful mountains in Arizona, then the most amazing mountains that looked like giant mounds of over-sized pebbles, and finally we landed in San Diego where the palms trees are plentiful and the air smells of the ocean. Just awesome.

Looking back a year later I don’t think I could have guessed how many incredible changes and wonderful experiences we would have in just one year of our lives. Of course with the good came some bad. The worst of it being that we have been separated for more than half of the last year. That part sucks, no way around it. But we’ve made the best of it and in 3 weeks we’ll be together again! Here is to hoping that this next year is even better (and has us together more than we are apart!)

What’s all that have to do with Margherita pizza? Uh, nothing. I just had some things to get off my chest before sharing the recipe. This pizza tasted great and would be perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. You can double the dough recipe, divided it into 4 and freeze 3 parts individually so you always have homemade pizza dough on hand. You’ll never need a processed, sodium laden frozen pizza again!

Margherita Pizza

1 ball pizza dough (recipe below)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Sprinkle of garlic powder
1-1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup diced (or sliced) tomato
3-4 fresh basil leaves, julienne

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees, with rack in the lowest position in oven.

Roll out pizza dough until ~1/4 inch thick and ~10 inches across and transfer to a piece of parchment paper. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder.

Spread the mozzarella cheese over the pizza dough and sprinkle the tomatoes and basil on top.

Remove hot pizza stone from oven and carefully transfer the pizza (parchment paper and all) to the stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes, keeping an eye on it the whole time so the cheese doesn’t burn.

Easy Weeknight Pizza Dough
(Adapted from Amber’s Delectable Delights)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package quick-rising (instant) yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a measuring cup, add the sugar to the warm water and stir until dissolved. Add the yeast and let rest while you prepare the dry ingredients.

In the bowl of a food processor add the flour and salt. Pulse a few times to blend the flour and salt.

Turn the food processor on and stream in the water/yeast mixture. Turn the food processor off and stream in the olive oil. Then pulse in 4 second increments until a ball of dough is formed. It should be slightly sticky but not wet. If it is too dry add water a tablespoon at a time. If it is too wet add flour a tablespoon at a time.

At this point you can do one of two things. One, let the dough rest for 15 minutes while you gather your toppings, then roll out. Two, transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour until almost doubled in size. Then divide the dough in half and roll out. I typically let it rise, but the great thing about this recipe is that you don’t have too. I’m just used to letting it rise (for other recipes) and I like my dough to be a bit fluffier. I also feel like I have more dough to work with if I let it rise for longer (able to get 2 balls of dough).

Southwest BBQ Chicken Pizza….

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

A few weeks ago I decided to challenge myself to two things: 1. To make pizza on the grill and 2. To try and clone my favorite from Dewey’s Pizza (this might be an Ohio thing, anyone know of any in another state?). Well this pizza knocked both things out of the park. I have made this twice now and I actually have decided that I prefer this pizza to the restaurant version because the crust is crispier and I can make it more cheesy. I am pretty proud of myself for coming up with this one, it really is awesome and you should probably make it ASAP!

Grilling the pizza was surprisingly much easier than I had anticipated. I had visions of a perfectly good crust falling through the rack or it going up in flames. Thankfully, it did neither of this things. The most difficult part was flipping the pizza and the first time that was a little rough. This time I used 2 spatulas and let it cook a tiny bit longer on the one side so it would be more sturdy. I also put the dough right on the grill for the first side and then on an airbake pizza pan for the second side. That worked out great because I didn’t have to worry about moving the pizza from the grill to the house. Most recipes for grilled pizza call for smaller pizzas (like personal size pizzas) but I wanted a full size so that’s what I did and it worked out fine. But you could definitely make two personal size pizzas from this recipe and grill it that way.

Southwest BBQ Chicken Pizza
Sunny Side Up Original

Ingredients
1 ball of pizza dough (Today I used this recipe)
1 chicken breast, sliced
3/4 cup black bean and corn salsa (recipe below)
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, cut into chunks (I only put the peppers on my half of the pizza if you want to put them on the whole thing then use a 1/2 cup)
1/2-1 cup BBQ sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 tbsp garlic butter (melted butter and minced garlic)


Directions
Preheat the grill making sure that it is really hot before putting the dough on it. While the grill is preheating roll the ball of dough into a 12 inch circle and place on an airbake pizza pan. (Take all of the ingredients outside with you because you assemble the pizza right there at the grill.) Grill one side of the dough for 3-5 minutes, watch your heat and adjust for any flare ups. Carefully flip the dough over (and back onto the airbake pan if you did the first half directly on the grill) and get ready to assemble.

To assemble the pizza – spread the garlic butter over the dough, then pour on a little BBQ sauce, next add half of the black bean corn salsa, then the chicken and red peppers, then the a little more BBQ, then 1/2 of cheese and the rest of the black bean corn salsa and finally the rest of the cheese.

After assembling the pizza turn the heat down a little and shut the grill lid. Let cook for about 5 minutes. Check to see if the dough is golden brown (carefully not to burn your fingers, use a spatula!) and if the cheese is melted. If it looks like it needs more time continue to grill checking every minute or so.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drained
1/2 cup sweet yellow corn
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro to taste
squeeze of lime juice

You could easily just chop all of these ingredients up and throw them in a bowl cold, but I like to heat mine for this pizza and I like to saute the onions to take out some of the bite. So this is how I do that:

In a pan saute the onion for just a few minutes to take out the bite. Then add the black beans and corn and heat through. Finish with salt and pepper, cilantro and lime juice.