Bob Recipe: Italian Tomato Appetizer Pizza

You don’t even have to knead the dough…refrigerated pizza crusts are the way to go.  This really is a cool appetizer recipe, try it!

from:  Essential Everyday
Product:  Fancy Shredded Italian Style Cheese Blend

Bob Recipe:  Italian Tomato Appetizer Pizza

Active time:  10 minutes  Total time:  25 minutes  Amount:  20 servings

1 (13.8 oz) packaged refrigerated pizza crust dough
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 (8 oz) package shredded cheese, divided
3/4 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese, divided
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1-2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

Place pizza dough on a greased 14-inch pizza pan.  Press dough from center to edge of pan, making edges thicker than the center; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, 1/2 cup shredded cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and garlic powder.  Spread over entire pizza; top with remaining shredded cheese.

Lay tomato slices over cheese; season tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle entire pizza with remaining 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and remaining 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.

Bake in a preheated 400 F ove 15-18 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown.  Remove from oven and cut into appetizer squares.

Note:  Pizza can be assembled up to 1 hour ahead and refrigerated unil ready to bake.


The Only Pizza Dough I Use (“Pizza A Casa”)

Don’t we all love pizzas?  And what fun it is to really make pizzas at home, and If you’re trying pizzas for the first time, I’m sure your reaction after baking your first successful pizza using my recipes below would be, “This is super-easy and so much fun, why haven’t I done this before?”  But as always, let’s start with some basics of pizza.

1.   Pizza doughs are really inexpensive, you’d soon realize you will actually be saving “doughs” by making your own pizza.  Regular pizzas now average US $ 10 to 15 dollars.

2.  You don’t have to master the art of tossing the dough, just roll it and flatten it out in your baking pans.

3.   Fresh mozzarella has a high water content, so make sure to lay sliced mozzarella out on paper towels to dry before using.

4.  Provide some sort of raised edges (rim) on the pizzas to ensure toppings won’t slide off in the oven.

5.  You can top your pizza with just about anything, so be creative.  Morena Febbo suggested using ricotta cheeses in case you fancy a white sauce for your pizzas (and you know what, Calabro has the best tasting ricotta cheeses, ever, I love it!).

6.  You can freeze pizza doughs, oh yes.  I dust dough balls with flour and place them in individual freezer plastic bags to freeze.   Take frozen pizza dough out to thaw for just about an hour, and you’re ready to roll ’em out.

The Only Pizza Dough I Use (“Pizza A Casa”)
Pizza isn’t really difficult to make .  Use the following recipe and you are on your way to become a CelebrEATy pizza maker.  Makes 4 regular round pizzas or 2 large rectangular tray pizzas

Yeast Proofing:
2 tablespoons active dry yeast    2 teaspoons sugar     1/2 cup warm water (105 to 110 F)

proofed yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water   2 teaspoons salt   1 teaspoon sugar    4 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cups all-purpose flour (with flour allowance)

Proof or activate the yeast in sugared-warm water (stir together with a fork), until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Dissolve 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon sugar and vegetable oil in 1 1/2 cups warm water; set aside.

Place 4 cups of all-purpose flour in a large bowl.  Add the proofed yeast and water mixture.   Beat together with a wooden spoon (or dough whisk, if available) until moistened.  Add more of the remaining flour until you get a soft dough.  Transfer to a floured surface and work on the rest of the flour, kneading the dough until dough is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky (additional flour may be needed).  Oil large bowl lightly and place the ball of dough in the bowl, turning to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.   Transfer dough out to a flour-dusted surface and divide the dough into individual pizzas (4 regular or 2 large pizzas).    Preheat oven to 425 F.  Roll out and press down onto lightly greased pizza pans; you may rest dough in between stretchings for easy handling.  Parbake the crust (no toppings yet) in the preheated oven for 5 minutes to give the crust its initial “spring” (weight of toppings may be too heavy for bread to rise well).  Brush crust lightly with olive oil.  And pizza dough is now ready for a spread of pizza sauce, sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese, a nice covering of mozzarella cheese and your favorite toppings (pepperoni, browned sweet Italian sausage, cooked chicken breast cubes, bell pepper, onions, mushroom slices, etc. etc. etc.)  Return to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is nicely golden.    Rest baked pizzas for 5 – 10 minutes before slicing.

Quick Pizza Sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste     1 1/3 cups water    1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder    1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme    1/4 teaspoon dried basil     1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup tomato catsup (Use UFC banana catsup, if available)

Combine sauce ingredients, except the tomato catsup, in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  Stir in tomato catsup and allow sauce to rest some 30 minutes to develop flavors.

So what’s on your pizza…Chicken Bacon Alfredo Pizza (cooked white meat chicken and bacon with jarred or homemade Alfredo sauce),  Pizza Margherita (plump tomatoes, fresh Calabro mozzarella, olive oil and fresh basil leaves), Caesar Alfredo Pizza (Alfredo sauce combined with Caesar Dressing), Tangy BBQ Pizza (using bottled barbecue sauce, shredded beef/chicken/pork and canned tomatoes), Calabro’s Pizza Ricotta (with plump tomatoes, parmesan cheese, Calabro ricotta cheese and a bit of salt),Taco Nacho Pizza (with seasoned ground beef, crunchy corn chips, jalapenos) and even Vegetarian Pizza (using zucchini, green peppers, eggplant and lots and lots of Calabro mozzarella).  And the list goes on.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Fresh asparagus in a pizza, that is screaming “Spring” to me.  I love pizza, I love asparagus, and having them both is fabulous to the highest degree.   Use any of your go-to pizza crust (store-bought, from scratch, or from a box like Jiffy), top with a thin layer of white sauce (Alfredo or bechamel, available in jars but, really it’s so easy to make it with just few ingredients) and shaved asparagus (we do same thing with fresh green beans, sauteed along with browned ground beef, yumm).

1 recipe Jiffy Pizza crust (1 box Jiffy Pizza Crust Mix) or your favorite pizza dough
1/2 pound fresh green asparagus, rinsed well and woody ends removed
store-bought bechamel sauce or Alfredo sauce
1/2 pound grated/shredded mozzarella (use very large grater of box grater)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded or cut into small cubes
olive oil
sprinkle of salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes

Shave fresh asparagus: (1) by picking  up each asparagus spear and make shaves of asparagus using a sharp, “never used” disposable shaving razor blade or (2) laying flat, while holding one end, each asparagus spear and make shaves using a vegetable peeler.

Make your pizza crust following package directions (no need to pre-bake the crust though) and stretch out the pizza dough (dusted with flour) to fit a large rectangular baking tray with sides (dusted with flour or cornmeal) .   Brush formed crust lightly with olive oil.  Top oiled pizza crust with white sauce (bechamel or Alfredo),  a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese and shredded/grated mozzarella.  Arrange shaved asparagus on top, add a sprinkle of salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes and finish with a light drizzle of olive oil.  Bake at a preheated 425 F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are nicely browned.