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Tonight is pizza night. So it’s time to share another of my lifehacks for being under house arrest.
We’ve been doing pizza night every Friday since my daughter moved out to be on her own. Dad was convinced that if he offered an alternative that included free pizza and daughter’s social schedule didn’t have anything all that attractive on it, going to visit the parents, enjoy your favorite pizza and not have to spend a dime might win out.
Dad was right.
Alas these days, that doesn’t work, but the ritual lives on for my wife and I. The days of ordering two large pizzas so there’s plenty for everyone are gone too, so we started a new approach when the shutdown started.
It started by accident when LIDL had a sale on its self-rising frozen pizzas. Normally I don’t care for anything frozen, as it tastes to me like watered down ingredients on cardboard. Even if you enhance them with other fresh ingredients, that cardboard taste is still there.
But the LIDL self-rising pizza actually had a decent crust. It sells every day for $2.75, and it’s about the size of a medium pizza, meaning it’s more than enough for the two of us. And because it’s so cheap, I took the approach I was just buying the crust as a base to work with, and I’d add the rest of the ingredients we wanted.
Our experiment started with cooking the pizza per the instructions with no additional ingredients. The crust was decent, but it was sadly lacking in cheese. The sauce was minimal, but not bad. And you can’t really mess up meats like pepperoni or sausage if you cook them properly.
So then we tried additions. We found adding extra sauce wasn’t a good idea. Whatever is in the crust, it had sponge-like qualities that sucked moisture out of whatever was added, so extra sauce made it soggy. The same was true with onions, which are notorious for giving off moisture when cooked. So those two were booted.
We then tried mushrooms, black olives and extra cheese. They worked, but you can’t follow the cooking instructions. They suggest 16-18 minutes at 400 degrees, and that won’t be enough. So I cooked it for 16 minutes with the extra ingredients on it, but no extra cheese. Then I took it from the oven and added an extra layer of whole milk mozzarella and let it cook for another 8 minutes.
All of sudden we had a cheap pizza we enjoyed. I’ve experimented with something different every week since, such as brushing butter on the crust for the last 3 or 4 minutes. That browns it up nicely and removes some of the dry taste you get with a frozen crust. I’ve also mixed in a little sharp cheddar with the mozzarella that gives it a different layer of flavor. The wife says she likes it, so it stays on the menu.
The best part about it is the convenience, as anytime anyone wants one, there are 5 currently sitting in the freezer in the basement at about the same price as one delivery pizza. When Harris Teeter does its bi-weekly buy 2, get 3 deal on shredded cheese, I load up the fridge. It's not going to be like the slice you'll get at the corner pizza place in Brooklyn, but for convenience, price and taste, it will do.
Our dilemma tonight involves some leftover pineapple in the fridge from last night. I’m tempted to add it to the pizza to see what it tastes like. I’m concerned it might have too much moisture, plus purists would probably rush to my house and remove my “I’m an Italian” card for even considering it.
There’s a poll at the top. Do I put it on the pizza? Or throw it in the garbage?
You decide 😊