Philly Cheesesteak Pizza #Unprocessed

As I mentioned before, we love pizza, which is why I've recently declared Friday night homemade pizza night. I generally stick to pepperoni, which is one of those foods that should probably be considered a food group all of its own. Much like bacon it makes everything taste better. Since we go through so much of it I made a half-hearted attempted to find an unprocessed pepperoni we could eat during October #Unprocessed, but after a fruitless search I gave up. When I stumbled across a package of roast beef deli meat instead inspiration struck— I decided to make cheesesteak pizza. 

Picture this... thin slices of beef, gooey mozzarella and provolone, caramelized onions, bell peppers, and a little bit of sauce. Are you drooling yet? I promise it tastes as delicious as it sounds. We ended up eating it every Friday in October (so much for creativity, but can you blame me?) Every week I fiddled with the ingredients until I found the perfect balance of cheese, meat, and veggies. Feel free to try it out the next time you decide to have a pizza night, you won't regret it one bit.
Philly Cheesesteak Pizza
makes 1 medium pizza

Ingredients

½ White Whole Wheat Pizza Crust recipe
1 Tablespoon salted butter
½ cup yellow onion, diced
 cup pizza sauce
4 ounces provolone cheese
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
3 ounces sliced roast beef 

Directions

  • Follow the directions for White Whole Wheat Pizza Crust recipe. You'll need half of the dough for a medium pizza. If you plan on making a large you'll need to double the amounts listed above for the toppings.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. If you are using a pizza stone you will want to preheat the stone for 20 minutes before you are ready to make your pizza.
  • In a cast iron skillet set over medium-low heat, melt butter, add diced onions, and cook until they are translucent.
  • Remove the pizza stone from the oven, place the rolled out crust on the stone, and add sauce, provolone cheese, mozzarella cheese, onions, red bell pepper, and roast beef. Work quickly so the stone does not cool off, it is best if you have your ingredients laid out and ready to go.
  • Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, until the cheese and crust start to turn golden brown. Let the pizza rest for several minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes

The pizza in the photo is made with mozzarella only. I didn't realize I had run out of provolone cheese until the last minute (which is why you always lay your ingredients out before you begin a recipe.) I highly recommend a mixture of provolone and mozzarella, but you could use all provolone or all mozzarella. I've tried this all three ways and each one was delicious, although I prefer equal parts provolone and mozzarella. 

White Whole Wheat Pizza Crust #Unprocessed

I tend to get stuck in a rut when it comes to menu planning. We have meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, some sort of pasta on Wednesday, leftovers on Thursday, and pizza night on Friday. Most of my creativity in the kitchen comes out on the weekends, which is why one of my goals during October #Unprocessed was to experiment with healthy ingredients that I had never used before. In addition to making our meals more nutritious I wanted to use this as an opportunity to shake up our menu a bit. 

Early in October I read that white whole wheat flour is a good middle ground for anyone who don't care for the strong flavor of traditional whole wheat flour. Because it is made from a different type of wheat the flavor is more mild and the texture isn't as course. That little bit of knowlege solved a problem I've been struggling with for six years. Just shortly after my husband and I got married I discovered that he hates whole wheat flour. That posed a bit of a problem for my baking style since that was pretty much all I used. I wasn't going to make my hubby eat something he hated (although I do sneak a few things in on occasion.) Instead, I spent a good portion on my free time adapting my recipes to work with unbleached all-purpose flour. I wish I would have known about white whole wheat at the time, it would have saved me a lot of work in the kitchen.

My first attempt at using it was in the pizza crust recipe I'll be sharing with you today. I knew that I couldn't go a whole month without eating pizza, so that was one of the first recipes I decided to adapt to be unprocessed. The good news is that my husband didn't even notice the change and even I found the differences to be rather subtle. The crust had a slightly more dense texture than it's all-purpose flour counterpart and baked up to be slightly more crispy on the bottom. I happened to really enjoy that, it solved my soggy pizza problem that I encounter occasionally when I try to drowned my pizza in sauce. Not all crusts hold up to my love of pizza sauce, but this one was perfect. My husband and I both agreed that this was one change that I made last month that will be sticking around. The cheesesteak pizza we enjoyed every Friday during the challenge is something I'll continue to make for pizza night. I love the fact that we can still enjoy pizza and not feel guilty about what we're eating. When we make pizza at home we have full control over the ingredients and pizza can be a healthy meal.

White Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
makes 1 extra large or 2 medium crusts

Ingredients

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
½ teaspoon brown sugar or turbinado sugar
1 ½ cups warm water (110°F)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cups white whole wheat flour + additional  - ½ cup for rolling out dough 

Directions

  • Fill a small glass bowl with warm water (110°F) add sugar and yeast, then let it sit for 10 minutes to activate.
  • Add olive oil to a mixing bowl, making sure to coat the sides of the bowl. Add flour, sea salt, and the activated yeast, then mix using the dough hook attachment until well combined.
  • Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise for 1 hour until it doubles in size. Punch the dough down and form it into a ball, then let it relax for a few minutes before continuing.
  • While the dough is relaxing preheat the oven to 425°F. If you are using a pizza stone you will want to preheat the stone for 20 minutes before you are ready to make your pizza.
  • If you don't want to make an extra large pizza split the dough into 2 balls before rolling it out. See notes below for storage tips.
  • Turn the dough out on a floured surface, sprinkle the dough ball and rolling pin with flour, then roll the dough out working in a circular pattern.
  • Remove the pizza stone from the oven, place the rolled out crust on the stone, and add toppings as desired. Work quickly so the stone does not cool off, it is best if you have your ingredients laid out and ready to go.
  • Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, until the cheese and crust start to turn golden brown. Let the pizza rest for several minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes

This recipe can be divided into two portions and the leftovers frozen for up to three months. Just thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight before using and let it come up to room temperature before you roll it out.

If you haven't used your pizza stone before or it isn't well seasoned I suggest adding a small handful of corn meal to the stone before laying down the pizza crust. This will help prevent it from sticking to the stone.

October #Unprocessed - Week 2 Update

Week 2 Update:

This week started out a little rough, not because I was struggling with the challenge, but because I cracked two of my teeth. That's what I get for eating fruit and nut bars instead of twizzlers on the way home from St. Louis. Unfortunately my dental problems have yet again left me scrambling for meal ideas — anything other than soft food is off the table for the next three weeks, unless my dentist can get me in earlier. I'm not looking forward to living on a diet of soup, bread, yogurt, and oatmeal so more menu planning is in order. Budget Impact: $2,000+ (which makes me wish I had just eaten the twizzlers.)

Speaking of budgets, since our food budget is so small I've been keeping a close watch on any extra spending I've done during the challenge. This was one of my husband's biggest concerns when I told him what we'd be doing this month. So far I've averaged $20 per week in extra expenses, but for the most part those extra costs have been offset by the things I haven't been buying, such as single serving yogurt cups and tortillas. Overall the impact to our budget has been minimal and if we can increase our grocery budget I feel like the changes would be sustainable in the long run.

Bringing Back Pizza Night

This week my biggest expenses revolved around pizza night. We gave it up for week 1, but I couldn't see us going a whole month without home made pizza and decided to modify my pizza crust recipe. This wasn't difficult, but finding an unprocessed meat proved to be more challenging than I had anticipated. Many of the "natural" meats are still full salt and sugar and I was determined to eliminate as much sugar as possible from my diet this month. I did stumble across one brand of deli roast beef with simple ingredients and no sugar. The meat wasn't as flavorful as I've grown accustomed to, but it did allow us to have cheese steak pizza for dinner. We'll be using the last of the deli meat next week for pizza night and I'll be looking into additional topping ideas for the rest of the month. Ultimately I'd love to find a unprocessed pepperoni, but I'm not sure if such a thing exists.

Next Week:

I'll be experimenting more with the white whole wheat flour I bough for pizza night. I can see a lot of potential uses and still plan on modifying my pita recipe when I have time. Unfortunately the next few days I'll be busy with a number of dentist appointments so my time in the kitchen will be limited. When I have a busy week like this I prefer to pick up a rotiserie chicken and not worry about cooking. I'll need to do some advance planning or pull out my crock-pot so I can continue to focus on staying unprocessed this month.