>Family Date Night: Pizza and a Movie


Yesterday was a busy day for us.  We started the day early by giving our old house, which we’re getting ready to put on the market, a good scrub-down.  Washing all the windows, scrubbing floors, cleaning bathrooms, weeding and cleaning up landscaping, etc.  It’s quite the process, one we’ve been struggling to complete all summer, but I think we’re finally at the point where we can proudly show it off.
After that, we came home for a quick lunch, and then I was off again running errands – groceries, gassing up the car for the week of commuting ahead, picking up the LONG list of “suggested” school supplies for my soon-to-be kindergartner.  
When I finally arrived back home, I was pretty beat and I didn’t want to do much of anything productive.  I knew we had Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief  from Netflix that we needed to watch, so I thought we could do a family movie night.  Part of me simply wanted to pop up a big batch of popcorn and call it a night.  I mean, it’s corn – right?  Some people even consider corn to be a vegetable.  And butter is a dairy product, right?  That seemed like a pretty well balanced meal to me.
But, alas, reason prevailed, and I ended up whipping up a couple of pizzas using leftovers and some canned tomatoes I’d put up last weekend.  
Okay, I know what you’re thinking – homemade pizza is a far cry from the ease of popcorn.  The thing is, it really isn’t that much more difficult.  Granted, it does dirty a few more dishes, but time-wise, it’s just not that bad.
While my husband and oldest son were outside trimming the lawn, and then looking for frogs down by the creek, (an activity they’ve become quite enamored with lately) I began the process of making the pizzas.  The thing that makes this such an easy task is this super-simple, super-flavorful pizza dough.  It comes from one of my favorite cookbooks – The Food Processor Bible.  From raw ingredients to being ready to roll out, it only takes about 15 minutes.  
For the dough, you’ll need:
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup warm water
  1. Dissolve the sugar in 1/4 cup warm water and sprinkle the yeast over top of that solution.  Let sit while you prepare the next three ingredients.
  2. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of your food processor and turn on.  While the food processor is running, drizzle the olive oil in through the feed tube.
  3. Stir the yeast mixture to fully dissolve, and drizzle it through the feed tube of the running processor.
  4. Add 1 cup of warm water slowly through the feed tube while the food processor is running.  As you add it, the dough will start to form a ball.  Keep an eye on it – when it comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl, stop adding water.  I added all but about 1/8 cup this time (it depends on how humid it is outside).
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide in half.  Knead each portion a few times, just until it become smooth and elastic. 
  6. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough balls into 12-14 inch circles – they should be between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.
  7.  Brush the tops of the rounds with olive oil and let sit while you prepare your toppings.
For the sauce, you’ll need
1 8-oz. can of diced tomatoes in juice (I used some I’d canned last week)
1/2 large carrot, finely shredded
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely mince
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil.  
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, just until the flavors come together.
  3. Spread thinly over pizza rounds – if there’s still quite a bit of liquid, use a slotted spoon.
  4. Top with cheeses and toppings of your choice.

For the boy, I made a simple cheese pizza.  I just sprinkled the tomato sauce with some freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano and topped that with some fresh mozzarella.  I slid this in a preheated 450F oven on top of a pizza stone and let it bake until it got good and brown and bubbly.

    I mean, just look at that crust.  Not too thick, not too thin – it’s actually pretty perfect, if I do say so myself (I never claimed to be modest).

    For the grown-ups, I made what I’m now calling a chicken cordon bleu pizza.  I had some leftover roasted chicken in the fridge, and some thinly sliced deli ham, so I diced up the chicken, slivered up the ham and topped the whole thing with a heaping mound of fresh spinach.  Over all of this I sprinkled more of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and slices of the fresh mozzarella, and baked it in my preheated oven on the pizza stone.

    I made a quick little faux-caprese salad out of tomatoes from our garden and the rest of the fresh mozz (I say “faux” because I was out of basil, so it wasn’t truly an insalata caprese in the strictest sense of the word – but it was darn good).

    It was a perfect way to relax after a busy day – in our pajamas eating pizza in front of a family-friendly movie.  I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather have been.



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