Quick and Easy Homemade Pizza

Growing up, I used to eat homemade pizza at my Grandma’s house and I have always wanted to make some of my own. I’ve never made the time to get around to it and after making it the other weekend, am not sure why I thought it was such a daunting task! My Dad’s family is rather large and we used to get together every Thursday for Spaghetti dinners. My Grandma would make her homemade bread and everyone would gather round her table (which was not big enough for the 16 kids and 20 something Grandkids). After those Thursday dinners she would sometimes have leftover dough to make these amazing pizzas. Those Thursday dinners and homemade pizzas are some of my earliest, and favorite, memories from my childhood. It was a true Italian family – and you could feel the roots of our Italian culture that had been implanted in the core of our family. I felt special to have such a large family who took time out every week to stop and appreciate one another and share some laughs over homemade pasta and bread. Isn’t that what happens in Italian families and what movies are made around?

It might have been my childish sense of perfection, but those Thursday nights just seemed so joyful. Perfect, actually.  I am sure there were the fights that there are now and the bitterness you can still sometimes sense when we all gather – but that comes with a large family and it helps you to continue to bond with each other. You fight hard and love even harder. I think Caroline from the Real Housewives of New Jersey said that in an episode once, and I could not agree more.

I miss those loud, crowded, hectic and fun nights eating with the people I love, so whenever I get the chance to create a meal with my family or friends, I cherish it. Living in Chicago, I am away from my large Italian family, but I’m lucky because I have a small little family here and we often get together to make dinners and enjoy each others company. A few Sunday’s ago we  decided to grab some dough from Trader Joe’s (which is only 99 cents) and make homemade pizza! It was SO easy and some of the best pizza I’ve had. I definitely think it is worth it to do this instead of ordering pizza or getting a pizza to go.

Pepperoni Pizza

1 package Trader Joe’s pizza dough

1 package shredded mozzarella Cheese

2 cups of my quick sauce (add oregano and basil to taste while cooking)

1 package pepperoni

Parmesan Cheese

Follow the directions on the back of the Trader’s Joe dough package. Once the dough is ready and rolled out, spread the sauce from end to end (put as much as you would like). Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese, add the pepperoni and put it in the oven! It is THAT simple!

Nikki rolling out the pizza dough!

Me attempting to spin the dough in the air…I failed miserably!

White Spinach Pizza

1 package Trader Joe’s pizza dough

1 package shredded mozzarella cheese

2 cups white sauce

  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 carton heavy whipping cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • Dash oregano

Spinach (however much you would like!)

Mushrooms (optional)

White Sauce:

In a medium sauce pan, heat butter and garlic until garlic is translucent. Add 4 1/2 tsp flour and mix with a whisk until well blended. Add in the heavy whipping cream and continue to whisk until sauce thickens. If it’s not thickening, add in the remaining flour and continue to whisk. Once the sauce starts to thicken, add in the parmesan (slowly), salt and pepper, to taste.

Pizza:

Follow the directions on the back of the Trader’s Joe dough package. Once the dough is ready and rolled out, spread the sauce from end to end (put as much as you would like). Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese, add the spinach and mushrooms and put it in the oven! Yes, it really is that simple!

The pizzas turned out amazing! I like to make my dough homemade, when I can, but with how simple and delicious these pizzas turned out, I don’t see the point in making your own pizza dough. AND each dough package was 99 cents! So cheap and so worth it! Next time I am craving pizza, instead of ordering out or picking up a Homemade Pizza Co. pizza, I’m going to consider just making my own!

April Vacations Bring May Relaxations

May.  I can’t believe it is already MAY!!  The past 10 months have been so crazy…filled with ups, downs, fears, and excitement.  All the emotions have made this year just fly by.  Today was the first day of my REAL job.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been working, but now I have a salary and benefits and can say I am a full-time employee.  It is weird to not have an end date in mind.  That has never happened to me before, but I’m so glad I can finally stop waiting for the day I have to look for another job!

Minneapolis was such a fun time.  It was so nice to spend time with my friend and catch up.   It was pretty rainy and dreary out all weekend, but we still managed to stay busy and have a blast.  Saturday we spent the day at the Mall of America.  For a girl who loves to shop, this place is still a little much.  I didn’t know which way to look, walk, or buy.  I found a few things of course…but this is not a place for a weak shopper to spend a Saturday.  We had lunch at the Nordstrom Café and I had some of the best Tomato Soup ever and my Pesto Chicken Sandwich was super delicious.  Since I didn’t cook, I thought I would share some of my tasty treats over the past week.

Saturday night I went to dinner with Laura, her two roommates, and some friends.  We went to this ADORABLE restaurant, Amore Victoria.  I don’t typically choose to go to Italian restaurants because, not only do I eat it all the time, I am a food snob when it comes to my sauces and Italian dishes, but this place was SO good.  I split the Pollo Bianco with Laura (chicken sautéed in a white cream sauce with fresh mushrooms, a layer of prosciutto and mozzarella.  Served over pasta), and it was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  I am really glad we split it because if not, I would have eaten the entire dish.  Not joking.  Laura was my roommate when I studied abroad in Italy and she  joined me in my 4 month carb adventure, eating nothing but pizza and pasta.  She and I both could have eaten our plate, but remembering our appearances after that food adventure, it was a better idea to share.  She got sick of pasta after those 4 months, me on the other hand, I could eat it every day.  And then the next day. After a great weekend, I was sad to leave, but I was really excited to head to Florida to meet my mom and spend a relaxing week with her!

We both arrived at the airport around 11 PM, got our bags, and went straight to the rental car counter.  When we got to our car we both looked at each other in disbelief.  It was the funniest looking car I have ever seen.  We contemplated going back to request a new car, but we were so tired and neither one of us had the energy to go back and switch.  If you have never seen a Nissan Cube, let me have the pleasure of giving you a glimpse of what we drove around Naples all week.  We were stopped twice by people asking where we found this “car.”  My great Uncle wouldn’t get in it because he said it was so ugly.  the only positive I can share with you about the car is that it only cost $19.00 to fill up the gas tank.  I haven’t done that since  I had my first car in 2003 and it cost $20.00.

There is not much to say about my trip to Florida except one word.  RELAXATION.  I needed that trip more than anything and I am so glad I was able to spend so much time with my mom.  Below is a picture of my “desk” for the week.  This is where  I did all of my reading (Sarah’s Key and Eat, Pray, Love), emailing, chatting, and creative thinking.

I finally found some MUCH needed cooking inspiration while I was there.  I had forgotten how much I LOVED Carrabbas Margherita Pizza, so when I insisted we went there for dinner one night, and I fell in love with the pizza all over again, I decided it had to be my next cooking adventure.

I am going to get my Grandma’s pizza dough recipe and my roommates and I are going to have a “Pizza Party.”  We each can make our own pizza creations and share!  I am excited to finally be inspired again.  I guess now that my life has calmed down, I have been able to put my thoughts elsewhere (back on cooking).  I am not sure when this will be able to happen, considering I am going to be Indy this weekend for a wedding and Mother’s Day.  Hopefully next week I will have time to have a “kitchen adventure!!”

Sorry for the novel.  Have a great week!