Monday, March 29, 2010

What makes your perfect pizza?

Nettie's Famous Pesto - Alfredo - Chicken Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust

For those of you who know me (at least longer than a week) you know that baking is my stress relief. Yes, stress relief. Ask my mom - she'll tell you stories of how many batches of soft pretzels I would make my senior year in high school, because I had the worst case of senioritis, ever. (At least in my experience 5 lbs. of flour is less expensive than a therapist!).

Anyway - ever since Matt and I found out I am pregnant, he's been encouraging me to cook even healthier. And, thanks to my fabulous sister (literally - she has 5 amazing kids, home schools, and grinds her own flour - just to name a few things) who is paving the way in eating healthy, I've been trying new things for the last few months.

While you may think, there's no need to fix the wheel if it's not broken, thankfully people out there have made improvements. (Just ask me about long days of fixing mountain bikes that are older than me at camp…)

Here's the new and improved (and now "healthy") version of my pizza.

Disclaimer: If for some reason you stumble upon this blog and you aren't one of my former roommates (who I practically force to read and give me their feedback) or my mom or sister, and you don't know how to work with yeast…hmm…thanks for stopping…come back after you have read a "how to bake with yeast" tutorial or something.

Original Pizza Dough Recipe:
1 tbs yeast (dissolve in)
1 1/3 c. warm water
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
Flour (1/2 wheat 1/2 white)

New & Improved (& must be healthier) Pizza Dough Recipe:
1 tbs yeast
2/3 c. warm water
2/3 c. kefir whey or kefir (instructions on kefir whey, see Kefir cheese: aliveradiantfree.com)
1 tbs. sugar (possibly substitute honey)
1 tsp. salt
1-2 tbs. milled flax seed
1-2 tbs. wheat germ
1-2 tbs. wheat bran
Flour (1/2 wheat 1/2 white)

Pretty simple: mix it all together until it forms a "not too sticky" ball you can work with and spread out onto your pizza pan, or roll it into breadsticks. (If you like thick crust - let it rise for 10-15 min…otherwise load with toppings).

I'm not going to go into great, if any, detail on the benefits of whey, flax seed, wheat germ, and wheat bran - but I do know that the dough still turned out great and it has to be healthier. Right?

Baking Tips:
I used to roll out the dough, throw the toppings on, bake at 400F and call it good. However, more than once I ended up with really doughy pizza (icky in my opinion). Now I bake the crust at 425F for 7-9 minutes. Remove, top, and return to oven. Bake at 400F until the cheese is bubbly and just getting brown.

Toppings for the Pesto/Alfredo/Chicken Pizza

Disclaimer: I don't measure many things (especially when it comes to pizza)

2-3 heaping Tbs. pesto (depending on how much you love or hate it…or if you are sneaking it into recipes even though your husband hates it!)
2-3 serving spoon fulls of Alfredo sauce
spinach (don't even chop it - just throw on some leaves!)
cooked or grilled cubed chicken
feta or ricotta (if you have them on hand and like them)
artichoke hearts (again - only if you like them and have them around)
shredded mozzarella (how much do you LOVE cheese?)