By KATIE WORKMAN, Associated Press
If you want to wow your gang during an Oscar viewing party, game day, or a movie-watching or Netflix-binging session, mini pizzas are a great way to go.
And no need to make this an all-day project; there are plenty of shortcuts to take. You could make your own pizza dough, but you could also buy it at the supermarket or a local pizzeria. You could make your own tomato sauce, but you could also buy a jar.
Then all that’s left are the toppings. You can prepare as many as you like, and then mix and match them on the pizzas.
Another thing that makes these pizzas easy: All of the toppings are uncooked. Chopping them finely allows them to cook quickly in the time it takes for the rest of the pizza to bake.
How much of each topping you’ll need for a batch of pizzas will depend on how many options you’re working with. You won’t need more than a pound of cheese total for one batch of mini pizzas (20), and 1 cup total of the toppings will surely suffice.
Don’t overload the pizzas with sauce, cheese or toppings — you don’t want things slipping and sliding off. These pizzas are meant to be just two-bite little affairs.
The cornmeal on the baking sheet serves two purposes. One, it adds a little crunch and texture to the bottoms of the little pizzas, and two, it helps them come off of the pan easily.
If you haven’t turned your oven to 500 degrees in a while, or ever, it might feel like a strangely high temperature. It’s OK. The high heat will cook the dough base quickly, resulting in as close to an approximation as possible of that chewy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside dough that you get in actual pizza joints, with their eyebrow-singeing hot ovens.
Slight caveat: These get inhaled pretty quickly, so count on at least four per person — more if my family is coming.
45 minutes start to finish
Makes 20 pizzas (about five servings)
1 pound store-bought or homemade pizza dough
1 cup tomato sauce (such as a simple jarred pasta sauce)
Cornmeal for sprinkling
Other shredded or crumbled cheeses, such as feta, cheddar, Monterey Jack, smoked mozzarella, fontina, gouda, Swiss-style cheeses
Finely chopped red onion
Finely chopped bell peppers or roasted peppers
Finely chopped tomatoes
Pepperoni, thinly sliced crosswise (or try different kinds of salami or cured meats)
Chopped fresh oregano, or dried oregano
Red pepper flakes
Bring the pizza dough to room temperature in a bowl, draped with some plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. If you have parchment paper, line the baking sheets with that. Lightly oil the baking sheet or the parchment, or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle the parchment or baking sheet lightly with cornmeal.
Divide the dough in half, and then each half into halves again. Then divide each quarter into five pieces. This way your pizzas will all be close to the same size. Use a rolling pin to press each piece of dough into a flat circle about 2 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick; you can also press with your fingers, but a rolling pin is easier). Place them on the baking sheet and let sit for about 15 minutes.
Spoon about 1 teaspoon of sauce onto each round, spreading it almost to the edges. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the cheese(s) of your choice over the pizzas. Top each one with 1 to 2 teaspoons of toppings, choosing the combo you like best. Sprinkle the pizzas with oregano and/or red pepper flakes as desired.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is cooked through, and the cheese is melted and starts to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven, transfer to a serving platter, and serve hot or warm.
Nutrition information per serving: 244 calories; 139 calories from fat; 15 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 40 mg cholesterol; 799 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 12 g protein.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.