Friday, October 12, 2012

Perfect Frozen Pizzas

I almost always have frozen pizzas in my freezer. I love pizza and they are so convenient to have on those nights where dinner just isn't going to work out. Here's the thing though, most store bought frozen pizzas just don't meet my standards for taste. A lot of them use really crappy toppings and some don't even use real cheese. So, of course, I make my own. I've come up with a system that makes it really quite easy. Occasionally I'll just use up a couple hours (okay, hands on time it is only like 30 minutes total) one afternoon when I have time and make several pizzas to store for those days when I don't have time on my hands.

If you've ever seen my frozen pizzas, they look pretty darn good. I traced my pizza stone onto some clean cardboard and cut out several circles to freeze my pizzas on. I use them over and over and over. This way there is something to freeze them on that they will come off of easily AND they are just the right size for my pizza stone AND they end up looking all professional AND they are a piece of cake to put onto a pizza stone because they are frozen solid.


1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil
5-6 cups flour
(makes 2 large pizzas)

1. Place all ingredients in bread machine on dough only setting OR dissolve yeast and brown sugar in water in a stand mixer bowl. Let sit 10 minutes until bubbly. Add all other ingredients and mix until well combined. Keep the dough light and fluffy by slowly adding the flour just until the dough is workable. Let it rise for about an hour.

2. Divide dough into 3 portions. Roll out each portion in a circle to the size of your cardboard cutouts. It will be pretty thin, but don't worry, they rise.


To get your dough onto the cardboard first, fold it in half.



Second pick up the folded dough and plop it onto your cardboard. Unfold it.



It will stick to itself a little and lose its shape. Don't despair! It is so easy to fix it. Just use your hands and stretch it out until it is the size and shape of your cutout.



3. Let the pizzas rise for about 20-30 minutes.

4. Top with desired toppings. Pepperoni, Supreme, Buffalo Chicken, and BBQ Chicken are our favorites. You can also just make them sort of plain and add more toppings when you actually bake them. Just be sure to add the toppings quickly before baking. Once the pizza starts to thaw you'll have trouble getting it onto your pizza stone.

Now you have a bunch of beautiful pizzas.



5. Stick them in the freezer to freeze.

6. Once frozen solid, remove from cardboard backing and wrap tightly in plastic wrap to store.

7. Bake on pizza stone at 425 degrees until done. You'll have to eyeball this based on your toppings. It should take around 10-15 minutes. The more toppings you have the longer it takes to cook.



It's really just so convenient to have these puppies in your freezer. It has helped us eat out less, and we never have to compromise our tastes to those store bought atrocities.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip




Oh deliciousness! The title says it all. While it doesn't taste like cookie dough, it has a good cookie dough cream cheese flavor. It is absolutely delicious and somewhat addicting. I love it when it is extra cold and I can just eat it with a spoon.

Ingredients

1 8-ounce block of cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter (melted)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips


Instructions

Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar for 60 seconds. With mixer on low speed, add in brown sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Serve with vanilla wafers, fruit, cookies, or pretzels.


Cooking Lesson: Cream cheese is an American invention brought about in the late 1800s by a guy who was trying to duplicate the French cheese Neufchatel. You've probably seen Neufchatel  in similar packages sitting right next to the cream cheese. In fact, you may have accidentally bought it a time or two. The taste is actually quite similar. One of the biggest differences is that cream cheese contains about 10% more milk fat than Neufchatel. You can use Neufchatel to "lighten" a recipe calling for cream cheese.

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