Easy Home-Made Pizza using TJ’s Pizza Dough (Re-Visited!)


I noticed that the all-useful TRADER JOE’S PIZZA DOUGH which had been only 99 cents (!) for as long as I can remember, went up to bit by bit and is now $1.29. While I loved it for under a buck, its still not a bad deal, say compared to Whole Foods prices.

The pizza recipe” post I did before seems to be one of the more popular posts here, so I’m re-visiting the topic of PIZZA (Yeah, baby!) Pictured below is yet another pizza I made for dinner using TJ’s ever useful bag of Pizza Dough sold in the refrigerator section.

To make this I used some homemade spaghetti sauce, with some extra veggies I had leftover from another dinner (eggplant, peppers, and onions). Mozzarella, and some hot Italian sausage. At the end I put on some cooked Kale with garlic I had made another night too. See, part of the “pizza night” ethos is to use up whatever one can find in the fridge, that might work on it!


Seriously, doesn’t this home-made pizza look so damn yummy and delicious that you wish you could eat it right now?! Well guess what, you canMake your own pizza at home, folks. No really, it’s pretty easy. Do you need to use home-made sauce? Of course not, a jar or canned sauce like TJ’s Marinara would be fine. Making your own pizza is easy, fun, super delicious and is of course cheaper than buying one. There is nothing like eating a pizza you made yourself and just pulled fresh out of your oven, bubbly and browned. If you have never made pizza at home before, you must try making one yourself at least once. I promise once you do, you’ll want to make a pizza once a week. Every time I go to Trader Joe’s I buy a package of dough to keep in my freezer to always have it on hand for these occasions. It will defrost on the counter in about 3-4 hours (or leave to defrost in the fridge overnight).

Is a Recipe needed to inspire you? OK then heres how to make a pizza:

pizza5HOMEMADE PIZZA WITH TJ PIZZA DOUGH

Ingredients needed: 1 package of TJ’s Pizza Dough, about 8 ozs of some sauce (Marinara, etc),  about 1/2 lb cheese (Mozzerella, Parmesan, Pecorino, Grana Padano, Jack, etc ) and using more than one cheese is even better (optional: fresh garlic, diced tomato, fresh/dried basil, onion, parsley, cooked mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, kale, etc) and of course Italian Spices (oregano, basil, rosemary, red pepper, black pepper….)

1) Take your (defrosted) package of TRADER JOE”S PIZZA DOUGH out of the fridge –  leave it out at room temperature for at least one hour (the package says ’20 minutes’ but it is too short). Room temperature dough will be easier to work and press out,so plan ahead! (around the 1/2 hour point, turn on to pre-heat your oven to 450-500…very hot) Do not nuke it.

2) Prepare a clean work surface thats large enough to work your dough on. Dust it with flour. Remove the dough from the package (TIP: Its sticky! I invert the plastic bag to remove and just keep tugging and pulling till I get it all out). Dust the dough with flour so you can work it. Now you shape it. With your hands well floured and adding a little extra flour (or cornmeal) on the surface of the dough as needed, start to press out the dough using your fingers. Keep working and turning it until it is your desired size and shape. I generally use a square non-stick “half-sheet pan” to cook my pizza in. Its a little trickier to make the dough into a square/rectangle instead of a round but I like it like this. If using this kind of sheet pan, put a little olive oil in the pan on the bottom, put in your dough, put some oil your fingers and on top of the dough and work it into shape using your fingers, pressing it out gently. The oil will help you to stretch it out and work the dough towards the corners. Let the dough rest five minutes if you find its not ‘listening’ and keeps pulling back on you. Normal dough behavior. Just let it rest 5-10 minutes, then come back. Try to be careful and not to make the pizza “too thin” (or rip it!) if you can. And not too thick either or it will be tough! Get it just right. Build up the outside edge a bit. You can gently brush the edges with some olive oil if you want (optional). Another Option: Use a rolling pin to get it started and transfer that carefully to the pan and then work it. Remember if its the pan style its a rectangle you are shooting for. Shaping the dough is the only tricky part of making a pizza. The more you do this, the more you will get the hang of handling dough. If its not perfectly shaped your first time don’ worry. It will still taste as good! Don’t give up. Check YouTube for some videos on making pizza, study a bit, practice and keep doing it. You will get the hang of it and find it much easier in future. If you want to go the traditional round pizza route, of course try that. Moving the raw pizza into the oven is a tricky part, though personally I have found a square one in a sheet pan works.

IMG_0003READY TO ASSEMBLE (I am using smoked mozz and a little provolone) 
Now that you have your pizza dough base ready, its time for the ingredients
3) Spread your tomato sauce out with a large spoon. Do not oversauce – that will make the pizza harder to cook evenly and soggy. Add sauce as a thin layer. Now add your other ingredients, again in moderation, and spaced out. Don’t place too much stuff on it. Sprinkle on grated mozzerella or other cheese as desired. I like to use more than one cheese (Parmesan is great as well as Grana Padano) If using sausage, pre-cook a bit just till you can slice easily (I cooked mine covered for 5-6 minutes, let it cool in the pan, then sliced it up and added it) Add extra spices as desired (Oregano, Rosemary, Basil, Red Pepper flakes….). Add fresh cracked pepper. Drizzle a bit of Olive Oil all over just before baking (Are you vegetarian? Vegan? Adjust the ingredients as needed. I’m sure you know how. Soy cheese perhaps?)

4) BAKING: When its ready to bake, place the pizza in pre-heated 450-500 degree oven. Very hot! Real pizza ovens are much hotter than your home oven can go but we can work with just longer baking. TIP: I have started to put the pan on the oven floor for 7-10 mins then move it to the middle or top rack for the rest of the baking time. This really bakes the bottom (if you don’t have a pizza steel or stone). If moving it sounds too complicated, just use the middle rack.

Check pizza after 15-18 minutes (ROTATE the pan after 10 minutes, to even the baking. The pizza will probably need a total of around 20-25 minutes to bake, but your mileage may vary, as every oven is different. Check it frequently until you think its done. When it is done, I think you will know; it should be bubbly and slightly browned on top (as well as the bottom) However be careful not to over-cook your pizza or it may be a bit tough. Real pizza ovens are 600-900 degrees or hotter, so a pizza bakes in mere minutes….we just do our best with our regular home ovens. When your beautiful pizza looks – and smells – like its done, it probably is, so remove it from the oven. Check it. If its finished, you should let it rest 2 minutes before cutting as it will be easier to slice. Yes, waiting is the hardest part. SLICE it up with your favorite tool. I’ve got a pizza cutter from a 99 cents store, and it works fine. Believe it or not I even use kitchen shears to cut up pizza, and that works fairly well. If you have fresh Basil, now is the time to add it – use kitchen shears as I learned to do watching master pizza maker Dom DeMarco at the legendary DiFara’s Pizza in Brooklyn)! Dom’s pizza’s are to die for.

IMG_0002Before and After. The hardest part in the above may be waiting 20 minutes for the pizza to come out of the oven.

IMG_0004

The thing is, once you get the hang of making a pizza yourself a few times you will find its really not that hard to make, nor takes that much time. You must try making pizza yourself.

Please leave some feedback on your successes (or failures)

UPDATE / TIP: I have been experimenting with “aging” the TJ dough in the fridge and let it sit for a few days before use. It will ferment slowly and will get sourdough-y taste this way as the dough ferments. Try this aging for 1 (or 2 days) past the “sell by” date. Experiment with the aging of the dough tip and see if the crust and flavor is improved. I find it so.

Personally I have found the regular dough is the best version TJ has  – I have found the whole wheat version too tough, and the herbed version too off-tasting and bitter. Your mileage may vary. If you really want great pizza, eventually you may even make your own dough!

Buona Fortuna (good luck!) and Enjoy…

Gently remove dough from bag and place on lightly floured work surface. Let dough rest for 20 minutes, then, for best results, stretch by hand or roll out with rolling pin to 12-inch diameter. Top with your favorite toppings and bake in a preheated 450 degrees oven or BBQ grill for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese begins to boil and the bottom of crust is golden brown.Use a hot pizza stone or lightly oiled pan for optimum results. Mangia!

AND YET MORE PHOTOS OF MAKING OF A PIZZA USING HOMEMADE DOUGH

HALF ZUCCHINI / HALF TOMATO

TJ Oatmeal & Honey Soap


soap

RAVE 

I should start with that I’m a regular guy, meaning I am not that into fancy soap. I usually buy Dalan soap at the dollar store, 3 bars for about $1. My wife on the other hand, buys soap at L’Occitane de Provence for herself that goes for $10 a bar. I feel guilty using it (washed my hands….was that 20 cents worth?) But shopping at TJ’s a few weeks back I notice this soap: Trader Joe’s Oatmeal and Honey Soap (“pure vegetable soap”) in their Health and Beauty area. I put it up to my nose, smells nice. Cost? OMG, this nice looking package of soap goes for only $1.50 for 2 good size bars. Immediately my “wow even I can afford this” part of my brain says, “you can buy it !”

The low down when I actually tried it? GREAT. LOVE IT. This soap smells fantastic, and has such an incredibly creamy lather. My skin actually feels better, less dry. We know oatmeal is one of the best things for skin, incredibly soothing (Aveeno?). I can actually see oatmeal flakes in the soap as I use it. Did I mention how amazing it smells? I mean yummy. Another TJ’s item I tried once and immediately said, “Wow this is an amazing product. I’m going to buy this always from now on!”*. It doesn’t melt fast, but lasts a long time, truly an excellent value.

OK I get it now. Good soap is important, and this stuff is worth every penny. PLUS my wife also loves it. Yes, she still loves her $10 L’Occitane soap but now keeps the $10 soap solely for washing her face, so it lasts much longer. We actually now agree on buying soap. Amazing.

Trader Joe’s Oatmeal and Honey Soap WAS $1.49 NOW $1.69, 8 oz (two 4 oz bars). Ingredients include “…Glycerine, Essence of Oatmeal, Oatmeal Flakes, Honey…” TJ’s also sells a Tea Tree Oil Soap for a wee bit more. It looks good too. I haven’t tried that yet, but I will. Other TJ Beauty Stuff you’d recommend? Leave some suggestions.

*How many times do Trader Joe products have that effect on you? There’s a reason. They  have great buyers whose sole job is to scour the world for good products for Trader Joe’s.

One of Trader Joe’s best products: A RAVE!

FOLLOW UP: PRICE INCREASE – This product recently went from $1.49 to $1.69 (a 20% increase)

I’ve seen LOTS of price increases at TJ’s now.