How to Make Freddie Prinze Jr.'s Family Friendly Pizza Pie (Exclusive)
By Liz Calvario
There's something extra special about sharing a meal as a family. For Freddie Prinze Jr., it brings back memories of him and his mother, sharing stories around a stovetop.
"That was the best time that her and I always had together. She always made sure that we ate together, even if it meant me staying up late, which I didn't mind," the 44-year-old actor tells ET about where his love for cooking came from. "She would tell me stories about family and [her past]…So she was the one who put a [cooking] passion in me."
The "food-obsessed" actor is best known for his rom-coms and '90s and 2000s films, but in 2016 he released his cookbook, Back to the Kitchen. With his mixed heritage, Prinze Jr. -- who shares two children with Sarah Michelle Gellar -- loves to teach his family about different cultures through food.
"It's always been important to me for my kids to understand all kinds of different cultures, not just our Latino heritage," he notes. "But understanding and showing respect for all of them, which is important for my family. With most cultures, I always found that the best introduction is the food."
Now, just in time for the holidays -- and as a way to keep the kids busy -- Prinze Jr. has shared one of his favorite recipes and the special meaning behind it.
"Pizza is just simple and it's family friendly, it's something that even young kids can help with, you're not dealing with raw [meat]. So it's just a simple, easier way to get it done," the She's All That star shares. "My mom was old-school and she would do potato dough because she was just straight gangster like that. But that can be too intimidating for some people. So just do regular-based dough and if that's too much work for you, you can get a ready-made dough from your grocery store where you're literally having to roll it out. Most grocery stores have it and then you can roll it out with you kids."
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
¾ cup hot water (110 degrees F)
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for greasing
Course-grain cornmeal, for dusting (optional)
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of dried oregano
3 to 4 fresh basil leaves
½ cup Pizza Sauce (1/4 cup per pizza)
½ cup grated mozzarella cheese (1/4 cup per pizza)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Make the dough: In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, sugar, and hot water and set it aside for 5 minutes.
2. In a stand mixer or food processor fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour and salt. Add the water/yeast mixture and the oil and mix on low and then medium until the dough comes together and looks and feels a bit sticky. Scrape the sides with a spatula as you mix, so all of the water is incorporated.
3. Grease a large bowl with oil and dust a work surface with flour. Place the dough on the floured work surface and knead it for about 5 minutes, or until it is smooth, feels stretchy, and the dough bounces back when you press it with a fingertip.
4. Roll the dough into a large ball and place it in the greased bowl, then cover with a damp, clean kitchen towel
5. Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the tomato sauce and garlic powder. Rub the dried oregano between your fingers as you sprinkle it into the saucepan, breaking down the leaves. Add the basil to the pot. Bring the sauce to a very low simmer and let it cook for 20 minutes.
6. When the sauce is done, remove the basil, taste for salt, adding a small pinch if necessary, and set the pot aside to cool down completely to room temperature. (Do NOT put hot pizza sauce on fresh dough. You won’t be happy with the results.)
7. When your dough has risen, punch down the center to release the air. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise again until has doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
8. While the dough is in its second rise, remove the top rack and position a rack at the bottom of the oven. Preheat to 500°F for at least 30 minutes and preferably 1 hour.
9. To make 2 small pizzas, cut the dough in half and roll each half into a softball-size ball. Cover one with a kitchen towel, then dust a work surface with flour and roll the other softball out into a thin round between 1/8 and 1/6 inch thick, making sure it will fit comfortably on your baking sheet or pizza stone. (The thinner you roll it out, the larger, but more cracker-like, your crust will be.)
10. Sprinkle a baking sheet or a pizza peel with a light dusting of cornmeal (if using) and gently place the dough on top. Shake gently to center the dough, if you need to.
11. Dress the pie by spreading a thin layer of sauce on the dough, then sprinkling on the mozzarella cheese lightly.
12. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the cheese has melted and the crust is puffy and cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. (If you tap the crust, it should make a hollow sound.)
13. Remove to a cutting board, sprinkle with half of the Parmesan (if using), and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Repeat this process with the other ball of dough to make a second pizza.
This recipe can be found in Back to the Kitchen. Prinze Jr. has teamed up with Kelley Blue Book to reveal the 2021 Best Buy Awards and the company's own island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, where players can escape and virtually explore, play and fish on the deserted island. The island will be accessible only through a unique Dodo code that players can receive after emailing KBBAnimalCrossing@coxautoinc.com.
"If you're playing Animal Crossing, my kids are amazing at it, you can go on Twitter to get a password to go to their island," Prinze Jr. says. "You can play games, you can fish, if you pick up trash and throw it away, they donate funds to the American Rivers Project, which helps preserve our nation's rivers."