Oh Unprocessed October, how you have changed me. It had not occurred to me on November 2 that it was no longer Unprocessed October. Meal planning, making unprocessed foods and not eating out as much has become part of my routine. When the realization hit me I thought, well, I am going to get me a Fruit Punch Drink. The pretty red, the deliciously sweet goodness served over ice that I used to indulge in weekly. It was awful! I swear drinking it down it was like trying to drink syrup. I gave up. Good bye fake fruit punch drink; you are way too sweet and syrupy for me now.
My family for the most part did not eat a lot of processed foods so I thought going into the challenge that it would be an easy task to take, a nice way to incorporate more recipes and eat a bit healthier. I underestimated the planning part that goes into cooking from scratch and preparing whole foods. Unprocessed August would have been easier for me. Fresh veggies from the garden and grilled meats were on my table regularly, not to mention that I was off work and the kids were off school so there was more time available. Unprocessed October made me face that I was getting lax in my planning and was starting to fall into a rut of forgetting to set something out for dinner and so let’s just go out to eat mode. I appreciate the wakeup call. This way of eating and taking care of my family is something that I take seriously and I am glad for the challenge that woke me up and stopped my slide into convenience foods that are filled with not so wholesome ingredients and chemicals.
Saturday, my family was in the mood for pizza. Frozen pizzas had been a staple in my freezer for many years. My boys like to just pop them in the oven and voila they have pizza. However, Unprocessed October and my commitment to not buying processed foods left those pizzas at the grocery store. After scouring Pinterest for pizza recipes, I decided that I wanted to try and make a pizza in my cast iron skillet. I was hoping for a Pizza Hut type pan pizza crust with real mozzarella cheese, the kind that comes in a ball and is super soft, way too soft for shredding.
I read that you needed to start with a hot pan and oven to help keep the heat even on the pizza crust so I started with preheating my oven to 450F and put my skillet in there to begin to get it hot. Before putting in my skillet, I wiped the pan down with organic coconut oil. For the dough, you will need…
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- A pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon dry fast active yeast
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 to 1 ¾ cups of warm water
In to my bowl I added the warm water, sugar and yeast. Left this stand for about 5 minutes or until the yeast is activated and frothy then add in the olive oil. In my KithcenAid mixer, I added the flour and salt together and stirred to incorporate them. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl. The dough should be stickier than you would want for working with bread but still pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Add more water for flour as needed. Once the dough has been worked, let that sit for 5 minutes to rest and rise a bit.
For the sauce, I decided to make my own also. I started with a can of diced tomatoes and blended them smooth, to that I added a tsp of dried oregano and a tsp of olive oil with a pinch of brown sugar. Put those together in a sauce pan and simmered on medium heat. Once the sauce was heated I added 2 tsp of tomato paste to thicken it up a bit. Once I was ready to dress the pizza crust, I added a handful of fresh basil ribbons to finish off the sauce. I just love basil and tomatoes together. It is one of my favorite combinations.
When the pizza dough was ready, I pulled out my hot cast iron skillet and began carefully spreading the dough out in the pan using light finger touches to spread it into place. I then topped the raw dough with my sauce and added fresh mozzarella, pepperoni and mushrooms. Then pizza needs to bake in the 450F oven for about 17 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of your dough. I was going for thicker crust and used all of the 20 minutes to bake it. When the pizza came out I topped with scallions and more basil.
This pizza was awesome if I do say so myself. The cast iron skillet really made the crust have that crunch at the bottom that makes the pizza place have such great pizza. The fresh ingredients cannot be beat. My sauce next time, I believe I will add red pepper flakes. I had not thought of it until we were eating the pizza and I thought, hmmmm this could have a kick to match the pepperoni. The fresh basil and the green scallions were wonderful additions to the toppings.
Give it a try, you will not be disappointed. Feel the cast iron love. 🙂
p.s. In case anyone was wondering how my youngest son’s costume came out. I think he did really well. It was a fun idea. Heres a picture of our group before Trick of Treating.