Friday Night Date Night: Experiments with Pizza

This weekend Ben and I abandoned our plans to venture out into the unknown of Cincinnati and opted for a more casual evening. Deterred by the heavy rain, we decided on an in-house date night. It started with a few of my experiments in pizza making. 
We love homemade pizza. Back home we have a brick oven in our kitchen (although sometimes I like my mom’s pizza from the regular oven better, go figure) and someday while we’re in Italy we’ll take cooking classes. But, for now I’m a fan of layering toppings, mixing flavors, and treating pizza making like an art. I’ve included the dough recipe we’ve used for a few years below but I encourage you to get creative with your toppings. I had all of these done and baking for when Ben got home, but it could also be a fun thing to do together! Grab a bunch of ingredients, opt for smaller pizzas, and mix and match for original creations! 
Following pizza we put in an hour or so at the climbing gym, picked up Skyfall on redbox, and treated ourselves to DQ (and I finally found an employee who understands the phrase “lots of sprinkles.” proof here). Did any of you love that movie? I guess it was well done but not at all the extravagant and opulent 007 I was anticipating. A little dark for my tastes. 

You’ll note we have no kitchen table yet so I got creative with an unpacked box and some kitchen linens. 

Our Pizza Creations: 

Pizza 1: Alfredo sauce (in a saucepan whisked cream, flour, butter, and parmesan), roasted tomatoes, roasted and mashed garlic, feta cheese, and basil. 

Pizza 2: Pesto (Classico from a jar), roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, and feta cheese.

Pizza 3: Alfredo sauce, pesto, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, basil, and feta cheese. 

Pizza Dough Recipe
What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp.) yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water, at room temp
  • 2 tbsp  olive oil
  • 2 C flour
  • 2 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing bowl


  1. Measure the warm water into a liquid measuring cup. Dissolve the yeast and set aside for 5 minutes. Stir in the room temperature water and oil.
  2. Mix flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms.  Knead for five minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.
  3. Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes with pizza stone or pan in oven. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces (or for this recipe with smaller pizzas I did three). Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth.Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes (I totally skipped the ‘relaxing’ part and it worked fine). 
  4. Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal. Top as desired. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining ball of dough or freeze for later use.
Happy dating, and happy baking 🙂


  1. My husband served in Italy, and we have a tradition of making pizza every Sunday! We do basically the same toppings every week though… we're creatures if habit, I guess. Now I want to change things up! Pesto is a fun idea, I've never tried it on pizza 🙂

  2. We'll be taking a cooking class while I'm studying abroad in Italy next week! I'm so excited to actually get tips on how to cook!

  3. This looks delicious! We used to always make homemade pizzas when I was a kid. Takes me back!

  4. Just stumbled upon your blog. Definitely going to follow!

    Homemade pizza is the best. We have a current favorite that uses BBQ sauce with shrimp, bacon, and red onions as toppings. Sounds weird, I know, but trust me dude. It's amazing.

    Also, we are climbers too! I've never seen anyone else in this genre of bloggers that is a climber! My husband actually works in a big university's outdoor programs department and coordinates and leads climbing and backpacking trips as his job. Ridiculously awesome, I know. (I have a day job in a cubicle at the moment, teensy bit jealous.)

    PS. Love that teal skirt in the previous post!

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