"Free" Pizza in a Flash!

As I wrote about last week, we’re on a pretty strict budget. When we go over in one area, we have to take out of another. Usually the first thing I trim is the grocery bill. Last week I managed on just $20, and this week we’re getting by on $70 (this includes breakfasts, lunches AND dinners!). I find that times of great necessity foster great creativity, and I’m pretty proud of the tasty and healthy meals I’m able to whip up using little more than what we already have hanging around the kitchen.

I’m often asked how I assemble a meal without a trip to the grocery store. So, I thought I’d outline my thought process in putting together last night’s dinner:

1. I take a quick inventory of what’s on-hand, making special note of anything that is about to expire. We had one chicken breast in the fridge so I knew I needed to use that.
2. Now that I knew I had to stretch one piece of chicken into a meal for three, the brainstorming really kicked in. There is ample basil on our rooftop deck, so I immediately thought of pesto. I made a quick basil pesto with some garlic, olive oil and parmesan (three ingredients I always have available).
3. Ok, now I’m working with pesto and chicken. My first thought is some kind of pizza, but we had no shredded mozzarella. In our refrigerator’s dairy drawer we had four pieces of string cheese. I put those in the food processor and instantly had shredded mozzarella. On the counter I spied one roma tomato and a few little peppers I bought at the farmer’s market. Sliced those and they were ready to go.
4. But, we had no crust! So, I opened the pantry and saw a bag of bread flour, and in the fridge was a jar of yeast (I like making my own bread, so these ingredients are usually on-hand). I put together a quick pizza dough:

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Gently mix warm water and yeast. Let it sit for 10 minutes until it is foamy and creamy in appearance.

Attach the dough hook to your electric mixer. Into a bowl combine flour, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in olive oil and yeast mixture. Turn on mixer and knead until a ball of dough forms. Top with a towel and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes.

To save on clean up, I drop the risen dough onto a cookie sheet and roll it into the desired shape. It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle – just make sure it is evenly rolled out!

Spread pesto on unbaked dough. Top with poached chicken, sliced tomato and peppers, mozzarella and a little parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

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1 Comment for this entry

  1. Ebelegy Blog says:

    That pizza looks yummy! Good job staying on your budget!!!

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