We LOVE pizza at our house. My husband grew up eating a lot of home-made pizza, and thankfully this is one of the few dishes from his childhood that he still loves. I love to make it because everyone eats it happily and without complaint. I also love meals that are versatile, and allow me to be creative. I get a little tired being boxed in by certain recipes. With pizza, you can do SO much more than switch between pepperoni and sausage.

A lot of people immediately think of Papa Murphys or Pizza Hut when they consider having pizza for dinner. Most people shy away from the idea of making a home-made pizza. I am hear to tell you, that while I love making my own yeasty dough for pizza crust, and can my own pizza sauce, you DO NOT have to do those things to enjoy delicious home-made pizza. There are several great alternatives to dealing with dough and fresh tomatoes! So, put down the pizza coupons..I know they are alluring, but you can do this!  Here we go!

1. French Bread Pizza – This was a big favorite at my house growing up, and remains one of my favorite ways to have pizza. This is a great recipe for those of you afraid to deal with any sort of crust. (And this is cheap!) Head to your grocery store, and choose a loaf of good French bread. (not the little baguettes…you want some width here!) Slice the loaf lengthwise and toast lightly in your oven until slightly golden. You definitely want to pre-toast, as the sauce can make the bread soggy otherwise. If you like, you can rub a clove of garlic on the toasted bread for some additional flavor.  Spread on your favorite pizza sauce. (Plenty of times, before I made my own sauce, I used jarred sauce, or simply spiced up some tomato sauce. You can even use spaghetti sauce in a pinch.) Add your favorite pizza toppings. The great thing about French bread pizza, is that you can easily make each side a different flavor (and not have quibbles about which side is bigger!) My husband and I like very different toppings, so this is a good fit for us! Pop your bread back into a 375 degree oven until the cheese is melted and gooey. Man…I really need to stop blogging about food when I’m hungry…

2. Bagel Pizzas- I made these for my kids for lunch the other day, and wow…they thought I was about the coolest thing ever. Seriously, if you want a big mommy ego boost, make these for your kids! You COULD do this for your whole family, but it is really a special treat for kids. I actually used mini bagels for my kids, and it worked out great for their little hands. I split the little bagels in half and spread on my sauce and toppings. These cooked up really fast in the oven, taking only about 5 minutes to heat up.

3. Pita Pizza – This is a great healthy option for those of you concerned about that sort of thing. =) You can do this two ways. You can either use the whole pita as a crust, topping it as you would a regular crust, OR, you can split it open, and stuff the pita with your sauce and toppings, and make a little pita pizza pocket. (Think hot pocket, only healthier and without fake cheese.)

4. BBQ Pizza – I love pizza as much as the next girl, but sometimes, I get tired of having the traditional red-sauced pizza. Instead, try out a bbq chicken pizza. Use a mild bbq sauce instead of red sauce. Top with cooked diced chicken dressed in a bit more sauce, lots of mozzarella cheese, and red onions. I LOVE this pizza…LOVE it I tell you! There is no law that says pizza must come with pepperoni! (It is actually my LEAST favorite pizza topping!) Try something new!

5. White Pizza – Here is another idea for using chicken on top of your pizza. Use your favorite alfredo sauce instead of the classic red. Top with cooked chicken, plenty of cheese (a combination of white cheeses would be terrific here), spinach or basil leaves, and perhaps some tomato. Olive Garden has a version of this on their menu, and you can try it out there first if you wish.

Make pizza, just make it differently! You don’t need Papa Murphy’s to have a delicious pizza meal. You also don’t have to have an Italian grandmother to be able to make pizza at home. You can do it! Happy pizza making!