Cheap Eat Challenge Count Down: 23 days
What's that you say? Pizza is not holiday food. Oh contraire, my friend. Pizza is perfect after a long cold day of shopping or errands or practices for the Christmas choir. It's a good crowd-pleaser at a party. It's warm. It's creamy. Sounds festive to me.
Also, I'm not sure it'll make the budget once the cheap eat challenge begins, so I wanted to post it now. Don't get my wrong, it's fairly cheap to make and I certainly intend to try to get it onto our menu this coming year even if I must reduce the cheese or something (forgive me, Kip) because it is my favorite pizza in this world.
I like it best with a sour dough crust, but my sour dough starter went a little wonky (i.e. pinkish--frightening), so I just used a wheat crust here, which was delicious as well. Then there's a ranchy mayo sauce with a broccoli topping. And after that, the sky's the limit. Our basic pizza has chicken and olives for the topping. I also love it with chicken, bacon, artichoke hearts, olives, and spinach. I also love it with pepperoni instead of the chicken, even though I didn't think I would. I also love it with some cauliflower mixed in with the broccoli and I'm guessing if you're a cauliflower lover you could replace the broccoli with it entirely if you wished. We usually top it with mozzarella, but we've done a mix of mozzarella and cheddar and mozzarella and Parmesan before when we didn't have quite enough mozzarella to meet Kip's coverage standards.
Pizza can also be made in the morning or on a Saturday and stored or frozen, then thrown in the oven when needed. It can be given to someone who just had a baby or is moving or just needs a little love. And, even though this pizza is kind of "pricey" as it is loaded with toppings, it is still cheaper than any $5 pizza you could pick up and--need I say it--so much tastier. (The cost figured very unscientifically in my head last night came to about $4 for a jelly roll size pizza, and that was with expensive canned chicken).
Chicken and Vegetable Ranch Pizza
Makes 24 pieces
adapted from a Pampered Chef party I attended many moons ago
1 sour dough or whole wheat crust: (I made my whole wheat one in the breadmaker, but I'll post a good basic recipe below.)
2/3 C mayo
1 package or 3 Tbsn Ranch powder (it's on my to-do list to figure out how to make this from scratch)
1 small head broccoli, very finely chopped (I chop mine till it's crumb-like)
1/2 C shredded chicken (also good with bacon or pepperoni or, I dare say, sausage, though we haven't made it that way because Kip doesn't like sausage because he's mentally ill)
1/4-1/2 C sliced olives
Other veggies that are good with this pizza: carrots (thinly sliced or grated), zucchini, green onions, red onions, artchoke hearts, spinach, cauliflower (chopped like the broccoli). Tell me if you use anything else that comes out amazing
8-12 oz. mozarella cheese (I think this is about 2 C)
Prepare crust (or, heck, buy one--it'll still be cheaper than anything bought from a pizza place, and it makes this super speedy/easy to put together). While crust rises if rise it must, prepare other ingredients.
Boil a chicken breast in water until cooked (15-20 minutes--cut it open to be sure). Let it cool a bit and shred it. Alternately, you can use any old leftover chicken you happen to have lying about. Alternately, you can use canned chicken if you're in a pinch for time or fresh chicken.
Combine mayo (do you like how I always abbreviate this because I have trouble spelling the darned word) with ranch powder and mix thoroughly. It will seem ranch-y, but don't skimp or the pizza comes out a bit bland.
Chop broccoli till crumb-like. Chop other vegetables.
To put it together:
Press the crust into a jelly roll pan or a pizza pan should you be so privileged (9 years of marriage and still no pizza pan--I guess we like things rectangular). Add mayo sauce and spread. Sprinkle broccoli over sauce. Add toppings. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden and the cheese is just beginning to brown. (The picture above could have used a couple more minutes, but apparently, we were hungry). Ideally, you should give it a few minutes to cool and set, but I don't think we ever do.
Basic Whole Wheat Pizza Crust:
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (so I did use it for something after all)
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 package (or about 3 tsp) active dry yeast
1 C warm water (120-130 degrees)
2 Tbsp oil (I use canola)
Combine 1 1/4 C flour, yeast, and salt. Add water and oil. Mix with spoon and begin to stir in remaining flour and then begin to knead adding extra flour until dough is pliable and slightly tacky, (not loose and sticky and not super tight or hard). Knead for about 8 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes and then you're good to go.
Alternatively, you can use a Kitchenaid with a dough hook if that's you thing.