Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)


Challenge Accepted.

  Back at the end of December, my wife voiced an opinion that we should participate in some 'challenge' floating around in one of her online groups to not eat out at restaurants in January, and instead put that money towards paying down a bill. 

I said sure...because it would be irresponsible to have argued otherwise.  'No...let's go drop $50-60 a pop to eat out once a week instead of finishing paying off the F-150 in the next 6 months'. 

Fast forward now to NFL Divisional Play Off Saturday, with my Patriots playing the evening game.  Seems like the perfect time to order pizza and kick back watching the game.  But...does ordering pizza for pick-up count as eating out?  I decided that while it might not violate the letter of the agreement, it would bend the spirit.  Instead, I felt it was time to attempt something I had never done before...home made pizza.

Oh, we have done home made French bread/English Muffin/Boboli crust pizza, but I have never tackled making home made pizza crust before.  I think I've said it on here more than 6 times, but, while I have always felt I was a decent cook...baking has always been outside my comfort zone.  It requires much more precision than cooking a tasty burger.

After doing some sorting, I settled on this basic looking dough recipe.  I started early, because I wanted all the hard work done before the Patriots came on, and I'm glad I did, because the first batch of dough went in the garbage disposal.  It just wouldn't tighten up, no matter how much extra flour I added.   I finally just put in the warmed oven to rise, hoping some magic would happen, but no luck, other than the luck I made for myself by starting at noon. 

The 2nd batch, I made entirely by hand, ditching the dough hook, and hand mixing and kneading.  It came out sooooooo much better.  I don't know if I was using the dough hook at too high of a speed, or what...but the old fashioned way got the job done.

Now I just need to work on the whole 'round' thing.  The one of the left for the girls is half cheese/olive, and the other half is salami/bacon/chicken.  The larger, more irregularly shaped one is chicken/bacon/artichoke/spinach and olives. 
With my crust issues being worked through, I expect more home made pizza will pop up on the menu, especially since the combo of pizza and Iron Horse Mocha Death helped the Patriots win. 


  1. If you would like, here is the CiCi's recipe I took with me when I left them. This yields 3 15" pizza crusts.

    1 packet yeast
    1 Tbs sugar
    2 cups water at 110F, or as directed by yeast packet
    1 Tbs Olive Oil
    5 cups general purpose flour plus 1/2 cup
    2 tsp salt

    Add yeast & sugar to mixer
    Add 2 cups water
    Add olive oil, stir
    Wait maybe 4-8 minutes until mixture foams and/or bubbles a bit. I'm at sea level, so I get foam. Higher up, you get bubbles (lots).
    Add 4 cups flour.
    Add salt
    Mix with dough hook. Unlike most other baking, you can mix a looooong time without hurting the dough. Add last cup flour little at a time until dough mostly won't stick to your fingers. If it sticks a lot, add flour little at a time, and keep mixing. Flour varies in weight, at CiCis we went by weight, not volume. You may need to add more or less, the stickiness is the key.
    Divide dough into 3 balls, with both hands turn ball under, like a mushroom shape. Wipe 3 plates with olive oil and place dough balls. Brush olive oil on tops of dough balls and cover with plastic wrap. This keeps them from drying out while they rise. Leave them on counter for an hour or two. They will spread a bit. Place 1/2 cup flour on counter top, take dough off plate and put on flour. Push with finger tips to flatten dough, going around the ball. Don't touch the outside 1/2 inch or so, that will be a taller rim around the baked pizza. My daughter LOVES to slap the center to get the air bubbles out, you may or may not have these. Dress the pizza and bake at 425F until it looks ready, my cooking time varies a lot depending on the toppings. to get the CiCi's taste completely nailed, Melt 1 Tbs real butter & add 1 Tbs garlic salt. Brush rim of pizza after baking. This is a twice a month staple at my haus, and it works, The type of flour you use is important, fine cake flour doesn't work well, if you can find high gluten flour, it will work very well. I use 16" round pizza screens
    NEVER EVER EVER WASH THEM. If you do, the dough will forever stick. Don't lube them, or butter them, or any thing. First pie may stick a little, just scrape the screen. Screens gets the pie a little crispy. If you try this, post about it! I'll be interested to see if it works for you.

  2. Those look really really good. I also like the combos you picked. Since it's just two of us, we do the smaller cast iron pizzas, but those look excellent for when we have friends over. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. This is my prefered pizza dough recipe: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/pizza-crust-recipe though I add some garlic and onion powder to it along with some red pepper flakes. The nice thing about it is I can make it up and leave it in the fridge so that during the week when we want pizza all I have to do is tear off a ball of dough.