There are few things on earth I enjoy more than good fellowship with friends around the table. I love hanging out with friends, eating good food and being part of a group. (Of course there are times when I need “down” time where I can simply chill out, like most things moderation is important.) While I don’t have a specific New Year’s resolution, I’d like to encourage my readers to open your homes to others and share time around the table. I know we all get busy, our houses get messy, and sometimes all we want to do is lounge around in our pajamas–I am speaking to myself here. At the same time, there is something being said about sharing our lives with others by sharing around the table. Before you offer further objections, you don’t have to have a spectacularly fancy meal or even have the cleanest house (ask anyone who has eaten at my house.)
When you have folks over, don’t feel like you have to make everything from scratch. Start where you are and work from there. I remember a time several years ago before William was born when we invited some friends over for dinner. It was important for us to spend time with friends even though we were all working full-time and led very busy lives. I remember this particular meal because we ordered pizza. Our desert was brownies from a mix topped with peppermint ice cream. We had a wonderful time!
I remember telling one of my co-workers later that we had these friends over and ordered pizza. My co-worker was appalled or surprised that I had done such a thing since the friends we had over were foodies themselves. She couldn’t believe that I would invite this couple over and not make everything from scratch. What I think my co-worker missed was that hospitality is less about the particular menu on the table and more about making room to spend time together. We still get together with this couple all these years later though our gatherings are crazier since there are four kids added to the mix.
For Jeffrey and myself, hospitality is one the most important values we think we can teach the boys. Both of us come from families where hospitality was taught to us around tables that always had room for guests. When we gather with others, we can do more than feed our bodies. We can feed our souls.
In honor of my pizza meal, I thought I would share my favorite way to make pizzas at home. Unfortunately, I am still searching for my favorite pizza dough recipe so I will not be sharing that today, but I am sharing my “go to” sauce. It is amazing, if I do say so myself, and you don’t even have to cook it. How easy is that? Would you consider opening your home this year? It doesn’t have to be fancy and it could be one of the best habits you could pick up this year.
Homemade Pizza with a crushed tomato sauce
pizza dough (I prefer to buy mine at Whole Foods but am still searching for a homemade version.)
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
1 t. dried basil or 2 T. fresh basil
1 t. dried oregano or 2 T. fresh oregano
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. red wine vinegar
½ t. salt
shredded mozzarella cheese
toppings of your choice (mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage, pineapple, ham, red peppers, onions)
Stir crushed tomatoes, black pepper, basil, oregano, garlic, red wine vinegar and salt together in a bowl. Taste, adjusting seasonings as you like. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Toss or roll pizza dough out and place on a pizza stone. Spread a thin layer of sauce on dough. (I reserve the remaining dough for future pizzas.) Top with your favorite toppings. Bake in a preheated oven until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden. Approximately 10-20 minutes depending on how many toppings you have on your pizza.