Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Do-Ahead Mini Pizza Appetizers

Whoever heard of a Super Bowl party without pizza?!! Not me, and probably not you either. Sometimes, though, it’s fun to have something different than the usual Domino’s or Pizza Hut pizza. This year, we’re serving up homemade pizza at our Super Bowl party, in mini appetizer-sized portions.

Like most everything else I’m serving this year, these pizza crusts can be made in advance and frozen. Then right before serving, they just need to be topped with sauce, toppings and cheese, and baked for a short time in the oven. They’re simple and easy to prepare, and sure to be a hit! Here’s how to make them

Do-Ahead Crusts for Mini Pizza Appetizers

2 cups warm water
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
2 T. honey
2 T. olive oil
3 cups white flour
3 tsp. Italian seasoning
½ tsp. salt

Combine the water, yeast and honey together in a small bowl and let it sit until it looks frothy (about 10-15 minutes). It will get very foamy and expand.

Combine flour, seasoning and salt together in another bowl. Make a well in the center; add olive oil. Then add warm yeast mixture. Stir together. If it is too dry to mix, add 2-3 teaspoons of warm water (sprinkling a small amount at a time).

Turn out onto a floured board. Knead the dough about 10 times—just until it is smooth. Shape it into a ball.

Grease another bowl with about a tablespoon of olive oil a bowl and put the dough ball in it; turn the ball over once to coat all sides. Cover with a towel, and let it rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until double.

When done rising, punch dough down. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet with olive oil, and sprinkle with cornmeal. Take about a tablespoon worth of dough at a time and press it into a circle. Crimp the edges to make a crust. Do this with all the dough. Place each mini pizza crust onto cookie sheet. Bake them in a 450 degree oven for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on rack. Freeze mini crusts in a freezer bag or large freezer container until ready to cook as pizzas. This recipe makes about 40 mini appetizer-sized crusts.

To make the pizza appetizers, take mini crusts out of freezer. Top each crust with pizza sauce and desired toppings. I often use a canned pizza sauce, and my favorite brand is Pastorelli’s. Favorite toppings include sliced black olives, carmelized or sauted onions, sliced bell peppers, sauteed or canned mushrooms, and cooked and drained ground beef that I’ve seasoned with oregano and black pepper. Last, each mini pizza is topped with grated Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses. Bake in 450 degree oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.  There’s nothing like the smell and taste of a yeasty pizza fresh out of the oven!

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