Hosting A Girls' Night In - Pizza Night!

Who doesn’t love pizza? According to an article from the Food Network it’s America’s #1 favorite comfort food! It’s no surprise considering pizza night is something you hear quite often. Keeping with our girls’ night theme this month, I thought it would be fun to put together a few easy pizza recipes to knock out before the girls come over this weekend. These are so simple you could even put them to work if you’d like. Give someone the job of applying the toppings and someone else the job of pouring the wine and you’ll be having a good time before you know it.

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I could share a homemade pizza dough recipe with you, tell you how to spend an entire day whipping up your own pizza sauce. Let’s be honest though. I’m a busy girl and I know lots of you are busy as well. I love to cook and I spend a lot of time doing just that. I also like to have quick-prep meals when company is coming that won’t have me ready for a nap right after. There are so many store-bought options available to us that can make things like pizza night super easy to put together within minutes. In fact, I prepped all three pizzas below plus the bistro salad in just one hour. Sounds pretty good doesn't it? And everything is basically home cooked. So you don’t knead the dough with your own hands? Who’s judging? Certainly not me because I have kneaded that dough before and while it’s therapeutic, relaxing it is not. Grab a glass of your favorite wine, prep your ingredients and get to assembling. Pizza night is minutes away and you don’t wand to miss it!

About that vino I keep talking about... I shared a margarita recipe to go with taco night so it only seemed appropriate to include wine pairings for pizza night. When it comes to wine, I started out as a white wine loving gal. Studying wine while studying abroad in France and then following it up with a few more classes in the US exponentially expanded my palette. For starters, my choice of white is no longer Moscato but instead Sancerre which is unfortunate since it comes from a very small region in France therefore is terribly expensive stateside. Second of all, I went from never touching red wine to preferring it. I love a good tempranillo, malbec, and spicy Spanish reds. Knowing not everyone has the same taste in wine, I did a little research while also relying on my own personal tastes to put together a few suggestions for each pizza recipe we have to share. Take a look and let me know what you think in the comments below!

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PREPPING THE PIZZAS:
What You Need:
Cornmeal
Store-Bought (or homemade pizza dough)
Pizza Sauce (I used 24 oz. over three pizzas)
1 tbsp dried Oregano per pizza

Directions:
1 - Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (or follow the directions on the pizza dough package if different).

2 - Sprinkle a tablespoon of cornmeal on the baking sheet and/or pizza pan. Roll out, or unroll, the pizza dough. It doesn’t have to be perfect but stretch it out as much as you can without any tears. Spread a few ladles of pizza sauce onto the dough.

3 - Top with your choice of toppings (directions for each below). 

4 - Finish with a sprinkle of oregano. Pop into the oven and bake 12-15 minutes or as long as the package directions say. Let cool 5 minutes or so before slicing. This will help keep the cheese in place. Enjoy!

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Veggie Lovers’
Ingredients:
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Bell Peppers, cut into small chunks
8 oz. Mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 cup Black Olives, sliced
2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:
1 - Follow steps one and two from above.

2 - Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the bell peppers, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Cook 8-10 minutes until softened. Spread over the pizza sauce followed by the olives and top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes evenly all over the cheese.

3- Continue with step four to finish.

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Barbera, Sancerre or Rose

 I did half sausage and half sausage and green pepper. If you decide to do a half and half like this, just use one bell pepper instead of two.

I did half sausage and half sausage and green pepper. If you decide to do a half and half like this, just use one bell pepper instead of two.

Sausage & Pepper
Ingredients:
1 lb. Hot Italian Sausage, browned
2 Bell Peppers, cut into small chunks
2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:
1 - Follow steps one and two from above.

2 - In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the sausage. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess grease. In the same skillet, add the bell peppers. Cook 8-10 minutes until softened. Add the sausage back into the skillet to mix with the peppers. Spread over the pizza sauce and top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes evenly all over the cheese.

3- Continue with step four to finish.

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz

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Classic Cheese
Ingredients:
3 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:
1 - Follow steps one and two from above.

2 - Evenly sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the pizza sauce. On top of the mozzarella, sprinkle the parmesan cheese.

3- Continue with step four to finish.

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Syrah or Zinfandel

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Bistro Salad
Ingredients:
1 head Green Lettuce, chopped
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 cup Cucumbers, halved and sliced
Your Favorite Vinaigrette

Directions:
1 - Mix together the lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. Let guests serve themselves and dress with their favorite vinaigrette or dressing. I used Buttermilk Ranch.

**EXTRA CONTENT! If you’re going a little more fancy on the pizza toppings, Wine Enthusiast has a great article sharing even more pizza and wine pairings that veer off the basic combos. Check it out here.

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