alternative pizza fillings and ingredients

Saturdays spent gathered ‘round the big screen, rooting on your favorite college football team is one of the many highlights of the autumn months. And what better way to feed football fans than with huge slices of fresh, cheesy pizza? Pizza and football are a perfect combination, but instead of calling for delivery, why not make your own homemade pizza pies instead?

Whether before the game starts or during halftime, let everyone create their own personalized pizza creation. Gather a variety of ingredients, an array of great sauces and a solid dough recipe and let everyone don a chef’s hat. Make it extra fun by creating grilled and dessert pizza options in addition to traditional oven-baked. For more ideas, visit our Money-Saving Recipes board on Pinterest.

Grilled pizzas

With early September weather temps still in the 90s, it’s always a good idea keep the oven off and take the pizza cooking to the outside grill. Instead of firing up the grill for burgers or brats, toss on some pizza dough and some amazing pizza toppings for a new, delicious twist. Get the grilling party started by lightly cooking both sides of the dough first, before adding toppings.

A loaf of French bread, too, is made even tastier when cooked on a preheated grill. Cut a load of French bread in half lengthwise and spread with pizza sauce. Sprinkle with 2-3 cloves of minced garlic and 2-3 cups mozzarella cheese. Add your favorite toppings like pepperoni, sausage, green pepper, mushrooms, onions and more. Place each piece of bread on foil atop the low-flame grill for 8-10 minutes.

Traditional with a twist

Sure, a meat lover’s or Hawaiian pizza is a sure-fire favorite, but why not try making your own rich and hearty barbecue chicken pizza. Or make your own garlicky white pizza. A chicken bacon ranch, pizza, too, is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Or step out even further from the norm and create a breakfast pizza complete with a fried egg topping.

With peaches in season, this Peach, Prosciutto and Brie Flatbread Pizza sounds like a decadent twist. Brush two pieces of naan bread with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place thin-sliced pieces of 1 4-ounce package of brie (rind removed) on the bread. Add 8 pieces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into pieces and thin slices from 1 medium peach. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Top with balsamic glaze.

Dessert pizza pies

Whether baked on a crust of traditional pizza dough or a sweeter cookie or brownie base, dessert pizzas are a perfect way to wrap up a pizza-themed football afternoon. Fruit pizzas are one of my favorite treats to serve a crowd. You can either make individual mini fruit pizzas everyone can customize, or you can make a large, decorated round sure to wow your crowd.

For Chocolate Chip Cookie Pizza, top pizza dough with a sauce of 8 ounces softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Top with 1 cup mini chocolate chips. For streusel, melt 3 tablespoons butter with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour, 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Add butter mix to create crumble. Top pizza and then bake at 500 degrees for seven minutes.

— Jennifer Durrant