Restaurant Redo: Make Your Own Pizza

Do you have a restaurant meal that you love to order again and again? Wish you could eat it all the time, but it’s either too expensive or too unhealthy? Well being a carb fiend and a girl on a budget, I have a lot of dishes like that.  Instead of lamenting the infrequent presence of restaurant food in my life, I try to recreate the dish at home for a fraction of the cost with 100% of the flavor. How do I do it? It is different for every dish, but I almost always start by researching online to see if I can find a similar recipe somewhere. If it is a meal from a chain restaurant, chances are pretty good the recipe is already available. If not, I read a few, or sometimes dozens, of recipes taking tips and ingredient ideas from each to get to the closest approximation of the original version. During the cooking process, I do several taste tests, making flavor adjustments along the way. It takes some trial and error, but in the end it is definitely worth it and once you get the recipe finalized, it is something you can make time and time again, almost as often as you want to eat it ;)

Today for my restaurant redo, I made pizza. Sounds simple right? Except that I am on a dairy-free diet because of my daughter’s allergies, so I can’t use cheese. I have been working on this recipe for a long time and let me tell you most vegan cheese is like eating slimy cardboard and it melts about that well. I came up with a yummy mediterrean cheese-free pizza, but it just wasn’t the same without the gooey, creamy cheesy topping. Thanks to a few vegan blog articles, I discovered Daiya dairy free shreds and let me tell you it is the bees’ knees of fake cheese.  When baked on top of dough and sauce, it melts and stretches just like the real thing. For my pizza, I use the mozzarella flavor, although it comes in a few flavors (but they all taste the same). One of the best parts about ordering out, is that it arrives with minimal effort on your part, so I used premade whole wheat pizza dough store to simplify the pizza making process. The frozen dough, which is enough for a large pizza, regularly goes on sale for $1 at the grocery store. Another shortcut is to use premade pasta sauce, rather than pizza sauce, which can be pricey, or canned tomatoes, which require a lot of extra ingredients to create something flavorful. All I needed to do was roll out the dough, spread on the sauce and cheese, and layer on jalapenos and red peppers, my favorite pizza toppings. After a stint in the oven, I had a piping hot, dairy-free pizza within 15 minutes. Yum!

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