by Debra Caffrey

As much as I love to experiment a lot when I cook, I also appreciate a plain old easy night of preparation, too! There are lots of times when I don’t feel like making much of an effort to convince my child to eat his vegetables, or nights when I just downright would rather keep things more fun and kid-friendly in the kitchen than anything else!

One of my favorite ways to accomplish this is by use of a package of store-bought pizza dough. Homemade pizza is one of the most affordable, fun and easy weekday dinners you can add to your menu rotations, but it doesn’t have to stop at a basic circular pizza. There are countless ways you can riff on pizza night and this is where the fun comes in. A store-bought pizza dough (sure, you can make your own but sometimes, let’s face it—it’s just easier to buy one!) is always a great staple to have on hand in the freezer. Just place in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth to thaw and rise, and suddenly you have a cheap, premade base for calzones, strombolis, breadsticks, garlic knots, pizza pinwheels, pull-apart bread and more.

If your kids love stuffed crust pizza as much as mine does, my pizza “ring” recipe is a creative play on the idea that looks impressive but is super easy to pull off. Who wouldn’t love the idea of a giant edible wreath of cheesy pizza for dinner? Not only is this an inexpensive meal idea, it’s something that kids of all ages can help prepare and also be excited to eat. Serve it alongside a salad or some veggie sticks for a complete meal, and you’ve just made a regular Monday night magical for the whole household!

Giant Stuffed-Crust Pizza Ring

  • One, 1-pound store-bought pizza dough, thawed and left to rise
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Approx. ½ cup pizza sauce of your choice, plus more for dipping
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • About 4-5 pieces of string cheese
  • Handful of pepperoni (optional)
  • • 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 475 F.
  2. On a floured work surface, stretch and roll out pizza dough into one giant rope. Roll a rolling pin on top to flatten the rope into a long rectangular shape about three inches wide.
  3. Keeping a border of about ½ inch on either side, spread some of the pizza sauce on the dough along the entire length. Sprinkle with Parmesan, mozzarella and option pepperoni and dried spices.
  4. Arrange the string cheese in the middle of the dough, aligning each piece so it forms one long line of cheese. Leave a one-inch empty space on either side of dough.
  5. Fold the long sides of the dough up over the center and the cheese, pinching the sides together well. Carefully lift the rolled dough “log” and place on stoneware or baking sheet. Bring the ends together to form a circle or “wreath.”
  6. Bake until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Allow to cook for ten minutes, then use a serrated knife to slice into wedges. Warm the remaining pizza sauce for dipping!