April 27, 2010

Pizza, My Frugal Food

Usually on the weekends I make pizza.  Pizza is one of those foods that you can make as a way to use up some leftovers.  I prefer pizza with everything on it.  However the rest of my family prefers a few toppings. 

I stock up on shredded mozzarella cheese when it is on sale and I freeze it.  If I see Monterey Jack or Co-Jack cheese in the reduced display, I pick it up and shred it and freeze it.  I have never had any bad results with freezing shredded cheese.  Just let it thaw it and then you can use it on pizza, quiche or a pasta dish. 

As to toppings, I buy pepperoni on sale and freeze it if it is close to the expiration date.  Other meat toppings I use are:  ends of ham chopped up, pieces of salami, a few leftover strips of bacon, ground beef, ground breakfast sausage or for that matter sausage links, leftover grilled hamburgers, leftover chicken, leftover turkey, leftover pineapple and so on.  Any meat that is leftover from a meal that I can use on pizza, I freeze. 

One time I tried a new recipe using strips of chicken breast and it was awful.  I had all this leftover casserole and no one liked it.  I took the chicken out of the casserole and rinsed it off and the next evening I used it on pizza.  Nobody knew it was from the casserole from the night before.  I dolloped a little barbecue sauce on top of the chicken before I put it in the oven and everyone loved it.

I have never been able to make a good pizza sauce so I use spaghetti sauce.  I can usually get sauce for 4 large pizzas from 1 jar of spaghetti sauce.  Since I usually make 1 large pizza at a time I freeze the rest of the sauce in amounts for one pizza.

I make my own pizza crust which my family does love.  It is one of those - a pinch of this and that concoctions but I did measure the last time I made it so here are the ingredients:

2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast - quick rise
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve.  Let this mixture sit for a couple of minutes so that the yeast starts to foam a little.  I use my kitchen aid mixer and dough hook for mixing up the dough.  Put about 1 cup of flour in the bowl and add the yeast mixture.  I let the mixer take over and mix it with the dough hook adding enough flour to make a soft dough.  The key here is a soft dough.  You don't want your pizza dough to be stiff and hard.  Then empty the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead 10 times.  Then I take the dough and work it with my hands to form a circle and place this on a large greased pizza pan and work it to the edges to form a nice edge crust.

Sometimes if string cheese is on sale at a good price I will buy it, cut it in half lengthwise and then place the string cheese on the edge and over lap the dough to cover the cheese.  This makes a stuffed crust.

Top the pizza with the sauce, cheese and any other toppings.  Then, let the pizza dough rest or rise for about 15 minutes.  The finishing touch is to sprinkle some Italian seasoning over the pizza and bake it at 425 degrees for approximately 12 minutes. 

On Saturday I made a pizza and topped it with a mixture of mozzarella and cojack cheese.  I then cut up one leftover grilled hamburger and used 3 pieces of leftover bacon for the topping. 

I can usually get the spaghetti sauce on sale for 75 cents a jar.  One 8 oz. package of shredded mozzarella is on sale about every two months for 99 cents.  I buy my yeast and flour in bulk.  The rest of the toppings are leftovers or purchased on sale.  I can easily make a pizza for $3.00 and under depending on the toppings.

The best part is that my family prefers my homemade pizza to take out pizza.  I've made pizza so much that I can usually get it in the oven in about 20 minutes from start to finish.  

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