Sunday Special: Picky Eater Approved Cheese Pizza


Do you ever miss something so much that you dream about it?

I’ve been having basketball dreams lately. It’s normal this time of year since practices have kicked off for collegiate basketball teams across the country. My basketball years were the best time of my life; the only difference now is instead of being exhausted from actual practices and games, I’m tired when I wake up because I play intense basketball games in my dreams.

SS4 - HS Basketball (Ingrid)
Edgewood High School
SS4 - USYD Basketball (Ingrid)
Study Abroad, University of Sydney
Macalester College Senior Day            Image by Christopher Mitchell

Reliving my life as a student-athlete in my sleep brings back lots of good memories: a life consisting of class, practice, homework, food and sleep; the daily ice baths that were only necessary because muscles I didn’t even know I had hurt; and team meals including but not limited to the grossly greasy pizzas we scarfed down after games.

Since my last collegiate game on February 12, 2012 (1,351 days ago, but who’s counting?), I’ve found a few ways to keep the feeling alive. I joined the UFC gym with workout classes that almost give me the “after basketball practice” feeling. This means I waddle-walk to my car, I can’t get up from sitting without my body reminding me why it hates me and I’m hungry all the time…basketball players– you know what I mean. I also eat homemade pizza while I watch my favorite team play (Wisconsin Badgers, duh) to relive the meal I had after my games in college.

In preparation for the upcoming season, here is my picky eater approved homemade pizza recipe:

Part One – Picky Eater Approved Pizza Dough:

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl and brushing

2 packets active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 teaspoons brown sugar

Put brown sugar into the warm water (make sure the water is warm, not hot!). and add both packages of yeast. Dissolve and let stand for five minutes (until foamy). Dust the counter with flour. Mix flour, salt, olive oil, and foamy yeast mixture with hands. Knead dough on the dusted surface for 10 minutes. Add more flour if the dough becomes too sticky. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and brush the top of the dough with oil. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel and put in the oven to rise for about an hour. Roll out on lightly flowered surface. Makes about two large thin crust pizzas (about 12″) or four small individual pizzas (about 6″).

Part Two – Picky Eater Approved Tomato Sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 small white onion, finely diced (optional for picky eaters)

2 large cloves chopped garlic

2 cans (28 oz) plum tomatoes, drained

2 teaspoons dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

Heat oil in large pot. When hot, add onion over medium heat and sauté until they are slightly transparent. Add garlic and sauté until golden (about 1 minute). Add tomatoes by chopping them into small pieces with a spoon into the pot. Crush dried basil and oregano with your hands and drop into pan. Add salt, brown sugar and tomato paste. Stir together and simmer for 40 minutes – make sure to keep an eye on it as the sauce should not boil. Separate equally into baggies to freeze (2 large or 6 small).

Part Three:  dough + sauce + cheese = picky eater approved pizza

Olive Oil

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 pound provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 500F and divide dough into equal balls (2 large or 6 small – I put the sauce baggie and dough into a quart sized freezer Ziplock for easy-to-make-at-a-later-date individual pizzas). Flatten the dough on a floured surface with a rolling pin. Smear olive oil and sprinkle cornmeal on pizza sheet. Carefully slip dough onto the pan so the edges hang over. Roll the edges to form a rim that will hold the sauce and ingredients. Poke holes throughout dough and put in oven for three minutes; poke holes in any bubbles before adding sauce to the crust and cover with slices of provolone cheese. Cook for 10-15 minutes depending on size. Enjoy your homemade picky eater approved pizza!

Let me know if you have any questions – just because picky eaters eat simple things doesn’t mean the things we eat are simple to make 🙂

Pickin’ Your Brain:

  • What toppings do you like on your pizza?
  • What do you do to relive your glory days?