April 24, 2022
Create meal experiences
I love meals that taste good and are an experience – like homemade pizza night or DIY sushi.
It gets everyone involved and is less about the cook and more about creating together. Sure, it’s messy and not totally buttoned up on timing, but the imperfection is part of the fun.
These meals also become part of the everyday tradition loop of a family or group. It just works doesn’t it?
My sister has her famous Asian Bowtie Pasta Salad that alllllll the kids request. My friend, Tammy, makes her famous banana bread. My mom whips up a chicken and rice casserole that never fails to bring cheers to the table. When I smell a certain fajita marinade, it takes me right back to every Spring Break from my teen years at Sunriver, Oregon with my best friend’s family.
Food subconsciously roots us through our taste buds connecting to the memory center of our brains.
Homemade pizza is on the rotation as a part of our everyday traditions. Taking inspiration from my favorite pizza place, I created some delicious combinations and made a menu for people to gain inspiration from when making their creations.
I have a go-to pizza dough recipe that I’ve used for years and it turns out perfect crusts.
+This post contains affiliate links. I never link to anything I don’t endorse and use myself.
A FEW ITEMS THAT MAKE PIZZA NIGHT EASIER
- PIZZA PADDLE: This pizza paddle makes sliding dough into the oven easy.
- ROLLERS: This pizza roller or this rolling pin work great for rolling out your pizza dough
- SMALL BOWLS: This multi bowl serving tray is great for toppings
- SILICONE MATS: Silicone mats are helpful when rolling and make clean up so much easier. This one is fantastic, but a more budget friendly option is this one.
- MIXING BOWL: This 13-quart mixing bowl is amazing for mixing and rising dough. I use it for all sorts of others things too.
- PIZZA STONE: Regular baking sheets work okay, but if you want a crisp crust, a pizza stone is worth the investment. If you want to get really serious, home pizza ovens are available. This one is higher end and gives a restaurant-quality result. And this one is similar – isn’t quite that top of the line but has a better price point.
DOWNLOAD A PIZZA MENU TO SHARE FOR RECIPE IDEAS
This pizza menu adds a festive touch, as well as gives people recipe ideas for what to put on their personal pizza. I gathered some of my favorite combinations and put them together on this sheet. Print some copies and hand it out at your gathering. People will be grateful to have the inspiration. I listed the ingredients needed in the recipe.
Homemade Pizza Crust and Suggested Toppings
This is a no-fail crust for your next homemade pizza night experience with your friends + family. Be sure to read the bottom tips!
3 cups lukewarm water
2.5 Tbsp. dry yeast
1 cup olive oil
5 tsp. sugar
7.5 cups flour
Suggested Toppings to Go w/ the Menu Provided in Post:
- Tomato sauce
- Goat cheese
- Fresh basil
- Cherry tomatoes
- Balsamic reduction sauce (I like Trader Joe’s)
- Artichoke hearts
- Kalmata olives
- Crimini mushrooms
- Red onions
- Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, add the water and sprinkle the yeast and sugar to the top. Let the yeast activate. Add the olive oil and salt.
Stir in the flour one cup at a time (I use my KitchenAid with my dough hook) but you can also do this in a large bowl. Mix well until it gets to be an ear lobe consistency – see tip at the bottom.
Cover the dough with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise one hour.
Punch it down with a fist in the middle after rising.
Give everyone a small round of dough and let them roll it out using extra flour and rolling pins.
Place the pizza crust on a pizza paddle sprinkled with cornmeal and top. When finished, slide the crust onto a hot baking stone or baking sheet.
Bake for 8 minutes at 500 degrees.
TIP #1: Here is the secret to perfect dough – when it’s all mixed together it should feel like an ear lobe. I know that sounds weird, but watch – it works. If you need to add more flour to get to that state, do it! You can always add more flour but it’s hard to take it away, so start with less and add as you knead the dough.
TIP #2: I turn on my oven to 200 degrees and then turn it off after it reaches that temp. When the dough is ready to rise, I put the large bowl in the warmed oven (but make sure it has been cooled a little – you don’t want to cook the dough).
Tip #3: A pizza paddle is helpful when making your own pizzas. After rolling out the dough, place the round on a pizza paddle sprinkled with corn meal. Top the crust while it is on the paddle. Slide the crust onto a hot baking sheet or pizza stone and cook (the corn meal will help it slide off easily).