Cooking Class: Pizza Night

Pizza Class Midlife Snowbird
Cooking Class: homemade dough crust with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil

Snowbird Recipe:

Cooking Class: Pizza Night

Easy Pizza at Home

For years, my husband and I have tried to figure out the best way to make pizza at home. Of course, we love our local pizza restaurants, but homemade pizza is fun for a relaxing stay-at-home date night, a group activity for a gathering or an easy weekend lunch. Plus it's a great option to control the calories and type, quantity and quality of ingredients.

Pizza Night Cooking Class Midlife Snowbird
Chef Patrick Whetstone demonstrates homemade pizza recipes through our city's Parks and Rec Department

When our city's Parks and Recreation Department department offered a pizza class presented by professional Chef Patrick Whetstone, we immediately signed up -- Chef Whetstone already wowed me with his Elegant Hors D'oeuvres class. For pizza class, Chef Patrick demonstrated different styles of toppings and pizza crust: homemade dough, sliced French bread and naan bread. Sauces range from traditional red or white sauce, pesto, olive oil, alfredo and bottled barbecue sauces. Regarding toppings, there's no right or wrong answer. Experiment and have fun with various flavor profiles.

In the past, we struggled with the crust because it is tricky to get the dough properly baked in a regular oven so it isn't tough, soggy, over or under cooked. My conclusion is canned or homemade dough is fine if you have a professional pizza oven to bake it. For those who want to use non-traditional crusts such as cauliflower, canned pizza dough or make their own, go for it. There's many recipes and options depending on one's baking appliances and skill level.

Because of the pizza class, we found that pre-made naan flatbread is our favorite option for at-home pizza. It is available in the freezer section of the grocery which makes it easy to store at home and retrieve it at the last minute to throw it all together. The 8" size of naan bread easily lends itself to each person making their own pizza their own way. Other good options include crusty ciabatta bread, focaccia bread or any kind of flat bread. We have found flatbread works best for us. 

The ideas included below are primarily based on using a pre-made crust rather than canned or homemade dough; however, the basic process is the same no matter what the crust is. I've created a check list of ingredients by category and 18 popular pizza combo ideas for quick reference. Have fun, get creative and enjoy.

Buon Appetito!

Snowbird meals tend to be much simpler, using fewer ingredients and a very limited selection of appliances and gadgets to prepare them. Choose the freshest, highest quality ingredients and find alternate ways to make your favorite recipes. Forget about what you don't have to cook with, instead focus on what you can accomplish with what you do have. - Midlife Snowbird


Select ingredient/s from each category: crust, sauce, seasonings, toppings, cheese. Exact measurements aren't necessary. Save any prepped, unused ingredients for another meal. Then follow preparation instructions below.


Ciabatta or focaccia bread, sliced lengthwise

French baguette, cut in half lengthwise

Fresh dough, rolled out

Naan or any type of flatbread

Pre-made, canned dough


Alfredo sauce: from a jar or homemade

Barbecue Sauce

Garlic butter

Extra virgin olive oil

Pesto (ground olive oil, fresh basil, walnuts or pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic)

Red tomato sauce

White sauce: garlic/parmesan, Ranch/neufchatel cheese



Rustic Pulled Pork Pizza Snowbird Recipe
Create your own flatbread pizza with pulled pork, onions, cheese and barbecue sauce

Chili flakes

Creole salt

Dried minced onion


Garlic powder

Onion powder




Taco seasoning



Bacon pieces

Canadian bacon

Chicken: shredded, grilled or canned (drained)

Ground beef or turkey: browned or with taco seasoning

Ham, sliced or diced

Mini meatballs

Pepperoni: regular or turkey

Prosciutto ham


Sausage: Italian sweet, hot or mild

Shredded beef, pork or chicken

Turkey: Sliced or diced


Flatbread Pizza Snowbird Recipe
Consider individual preferences for toppings rather than exact measurements


Artichoke hearts



Fennel, fresh

Garlic, sauteed

Jalapenos, finely diced or sliced

Mushrooms (sautéed to eliminate liquid): white, baby bella, shitake, crimini

Olives, black, green, kalamata

Onion, red, white or green scallions (raw)

Peppers, red, yellow or green

Pineapple chunks

Salsa, hot or mild

Shallots, diced


Tomatoes, diced or sliced

Zucchini, sliced


Cheddar, white or yellow



Gorgonzola/blue cheese


Mozzarella (shredded or fresh Italian style)

Parmesan, shaved or ground








Fresh parsley


Scallions (green onions)

Shaved Parmesan

Sour Cream

Tortilla chips


Recommended: Sienna Bakery® 8" naan flatbread, Sweet Baby Ray’s® original barbecue sauce


--Preheat oven to 400 degrees

--If using canned dough, follow package instructions

--Assemble your ingredients: crust, sauce, seasonings, toppings, cheese/s

--Exact measurements for cheese and toppings aren't necessary. Just follow your own preferences.

--Chop/prep any ingredients that require it and place into small bowls for easy assembly

--Saute meat/s, vegetables as required

--Prepare sauce/s

Choose a crust base, then add toppings in this order:

1. Sauce

2. Seasonings

3. Meat/s

4. Vegetable/s

5. Re-season

6. Cheese/s

--Bake on sheet pans at 400 degrees for ten or 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly, broil if needed

--Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes

--Brush crust edges with olive oil, garlic butter or Parmesan cheese, optional

--Add fresh garnishes

--Slice into squares or triangles

--Serve hot



White sauce

Green olives, mozzarella cheese, sauteed garlic, chili flakes. Garnish with fresh basil

Chicken Florentine

Garlic parmesan sauce

Grilled chicken, fresh spinach, red onions, sliced tomatoes, three-cheese blend, plus feta cheese

Chicken Fresco

Red sauce

Grilled chicken, real bacon bits, onions, sliced tomatoes, three-cheese blend, plus cheddar cheese

Chicken, Pesto, Fresh Mozzarella

Olive oil

Pesto, chicken and balls of fresh mozzarella cheese (do not overcook)


Red sauce

Pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, raw onions, cheese

Homemade Pizza Midlife Snowbird
Cooking class: Homemade dough crust with prosciutto ham and lemon-ricotta cheese


Red sauce

Mushrooms, black olives, onions, sliced tomatoes, cheese, plus feta cheese

Hawaiian Chicken, Ham, Pineapple

Red sauce

Ham or Canadian bacon, grilled chicken, real bacon bits, pineapple and cheese

Local Favorite Signature Pizza

Red sauce

Hot Italian sausage, roasted red pepper, Mozzarella cheese and ricotta cheese. Garnish with fresh flat leaf parsley and chili oil

Meat Lovers

Red sauce

Pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage, ground beef and cheese, topped with bacon bits

Mushroom – Olives

White garlic sauce or olive oil

Mushrooms, black olives and mozzarella cheese (optional: add chicken or meat)

Pepperoni Combo

Red sauce

Pepperoni, mushrooms and cheese

Prosciutto Ham and Arugula

Red sauce

Prosciutto ham, fontina cheese and sautéed minced garlic cloves. Garnish with fresh arugula and olive oil


Red sauce

Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese, garlic, rosemary and olive oil

Saturday Night Combo

BBQ sauce or olive oil

Canadian bacon, sliced baby bella mushrooms sautéed with minced garlic cloves and shallots; green olives, sweet onion, mozzarella cheese, topped with real bacon bits

Shredded Meat and BBQ 

BBQ sauce, such as Sweet Baby Ray’s original

Braised short ribs, pulled pork or shredded beef or chicken, red onion, diced jalapeno and white cheddar cheese. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Taco Pizza

Red sauce or salsa

Ground beef (with taco seasoning) and/or Italian sausage, jalapenos, black olives, onion and Colby jack cheese. Garnish with diced fresh tomato, lettuce, crumbled tortilla chips, sour cream, cilantro, salsa and avocado


White garlic sauce

Roasted red pepper, zucchini, mushroom, red onion, grape tomato, mozzarella cheese and fresh fennel. Garnish with fresh basil and chive oil

White Cheesy

Garlic parmesan sauce

Bacon, onions, sliced tomatoes and cheese




Serving Suggestion:

--Ideal for potlucks and gatherings

--Serve for lunch, dinner

--Suitable for guests

Equipment List:

--Baking sheet or cookie sheet pan

--cutting board and sharp knife

--measuring utensils

--small bowls for prepped ingredients

--pizza cutter, optional






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What are your favorite seafood recipes? Side dishes? Desserts? Go-to party recipes?