~ Best family pizza night ever! (So fun and incredibly easy, too!) Everyone can choose their own toppings for the mini Chicago-style personal pizzas. Then, the pizzas bake right along with quick mini apple pies in this complete, healthy meal the whole family will love! ~
This Recipe Is: • Vegetarian (Depending on Your Choice of Toppings) •
Let’s have a little fun with math today, shall we?
No, really! Stick with us, friends … this is gonna be the yummiest math ever (we promise)!
So let’s start with a simple equation:
Pizza + Pretty Much Anyone on the Face of the Earth = Happiness
See … that wasn’t so hard! Really, it’s just obvious. It’s tough to find anyone who doesn’t love pizza! And, hey – all the better if it comes with a built-in dessert!
You know we sure do love pizza here at THK! Yep, no doubt about that … from our Easy Homemade Grilled Pizza to our Fruit “Pizzas” … and even to the flavors of pizza nestled into a juicy (but healthy!) burger … we’ll take pizza any way we can get it!
Bonus for the family cook: everyone loves you when you make pizza! Kiddos and adults alike swoon with adoration and gratitude. Hip hip hooray … it’s pizza night!
One of the great things about pizza is that it’s infinitely customizable to fit practically anyone’s preferences. But that’s also where it gets a little tricky. How do you accommodate everyone’s topping preferences in just one pizza?
And how do you (oh, health-minded THK reader) make it more nutritious than what the big chain stores serve up? A super-sized, white-flour crust loaded with full-fat cheese and often lots of full-fat meats? Boom! (That was all your great nutritional intentions going up in an explosive poof of smoke – sorry.)
So, let’s see if we can use an equation to work through this tough problem:
One Large Pizza ÷ 20 = Deliciously Healthy, Portion-Controlled Minis (With a Remainder of …Dessert!)
Perfect! Everyone can totally customize their own mini deep-dish pizzas (which, trust us, is super-fun for kiddos, in particular!), and you’ll have enough dough left over to throw some yummy, healthy desserts into the deal, too! Talk about people swooning with adoration!
Yeah … you want to see them swoon!
Everyone is gonna want to personalize their own, with custom toppings and amounts, and we don’t want to get in the way of that. Plus, you may have to change up the exact amounts of pizzas and desserts depending on the size of your family. But we’ve figured out an approximate guide that we find works pretty well. (Ooooohhh … and watch out for fractions ahead … more math fun for you!)
In each of the 16 pizzas, you want:
- About 1½-3 tablespoons of pizza toppings (maybe 1-2 tablespoons of veggies and a bit of turkey pepperoni, plus another 3 or 4 teaspoons of reduced-fat cheese). Remember, friends – think HEALTHY, and offer lots of appealing veggie options!
- Finish each pizza off with about 1½-2 teaspoons of pizza sauce. (Saving the sauce for last allows you to use the toppings to spread the dough up the sides, without messy sauce getting in your way. Plus, just like real Chicago deep dish pizzas, adding the sauce last prevents the other toppings and cheese from burning or browning too quickly during baking.)
Then, in the 4 remaining muffin cups, you’ll divide the apple pie mixture you tossed together, about ¼ cup for each of the 4 mini desserts.
The key is not to skimp on the toppings. Nope, nope! We’re talking Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas here (mini ones, yes … but still DEEP!), so that means you want lots of toppings.
In addition, you’ll notice that a nice, full muffin cup of toppings is much better at keeping the dough from sliding back down – bonus!
As you put in the toppings, press them gently but firmly down, and you’ll see the dough spread right up the sides of the cup (just don’t be too forceful, or you’ll still end up making holes in the dough).
Then, you can use your fingers to spread the dough just a bit more, so it reaches the top of the cup. Don’t be worried if it shrinks back down a little, but you definitely want it to be at least ¾ of the way up the sides (so you don’t end up with a much-too-thick bottom crust).
Little kitchen helpers (we call them minions!) love to help with this recipe.
And, while they gleefully assemble their own personal pizzas, you’ll have time to chop up an apple and toss it with some cinnamon and brown sugar to make those darling little dessert pies.
Mmmmmm … the perfect, satisfying yet healthy end to the pizza party!
So, your math homework for tonight? That’s easy! Just memorize the following equation:
Mini Pizzas x Bonus Desserts x Healthy Ingredients x The Fun of Everyone Making Their Very Own = Best-Ever Family Pizza Night!
P.S. Shelley’s husband 100% deserves the credit for the brilliant idea of creating a meal-in-one that included mini desserts, right along with the pizzas (and yes – he for sure pointed out that he should get the credit for his genius idea!). It just so happens that (besides being an evil genius in the kitchen), he’s also an engineer … which means that he’ll either totally appreciate our attempts at mathematics here today, or he will shake his head sadly (no doubt, with his mouth full of pizza). Either way, buddy … this one’s for you!
MINI APPLE PIES
- 1 cup peeled, cored and finely chopped apple (from 1 small sweet-tart apple, such as Pink Lady or Honeycrisp)
- 3 tablespoons chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons water
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pound whole wheat pizza dough
MINI DEEP DISH PIZZAS
- your favorite pizza toppings – such as turkey pepperoni and finely chopped veggies like red or green peppers, onions or green onions, olives, banana peppers, sliced mushrooms, and tomatoes
- shredded, reduced-fat mozzarella cheese (about 3-4 teaspoons per pizza, depending on how many other toppings you have)
- 5-6 tablespoons of your favorite pizza sauce
- Preheat oven to 400°F and prepare muffin pans (20 cups – probably requiring two pans – in regular-sized muffin pans, not mini muffin pans) by spraying with non-stick spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine apple, pecans, brown sugar, water, and cinnamon, stirring to combine. Let sit until ready to make dessert pies, or, if you’re prepping this step several hours in advance, cover and refrigerate until using.
- Form dough into a smooth ball, then divide it into even quarters with a dough scraper or sharp knife. Shape each quarter into a loaf and divide each loaf evenly into five disks (you will have 20 total). Gently spread each disk into a circle and place each disk into the bottom of a muffin cup.
- Add pizza toppings and cheese (excluding sauce) to 16 of the prepared dough cups. Each mini pizza will need about 1½-3 tablespoons of toppings total.
- Use ingredients to help push down on dough and drive dough up the sides of the muffin cups, creating a deep-dish pizza crust (being careful not to push down so hard that you make a hole in the bottom of the dough).
- Spread about 1½-2 teaspoons of pizza sauce on the top of each pizza to finish.
- To each of the 4 remaining dough cups, add ¼ of the apple mixture you prepared (about a heaping ¼ cup in each). Again, use the apple pie ingredients to help you gently push the dough up the sides, while also being careful not to poke through the bottom of the dough.
- If using two 12-cup muffin pans, place each on a separate oven rack (do not jam both side-by-side on the same rack) to avoid cooking the mini pizzas at the edge faster than those at the center of the rack. Bake for about 19-20 minutes, or until dough is golden and pizzas are hot and cooked through.
Although this recipe is written to make 16 mini pizzas and 4 mini apple pies, you can easily scale the number of pizzas and apple pies (and the ingredients to make them) to accommodate the size of your family and how many people you're serving.