Easy Peasy Pizza Pie

I love homemade pizza. My husband got me a pizza stone awhile back, and I love it. I find more ways to use it almost every time I bake. Hands down though, my favorite way to use my pizza stone is to bake pizza. We love homemade pizza at our house. When we first started making pizza I would buy either the premade pizza crusts or the pizza dough packets (where you add water and stir). Both of these yielded good pizzas. Awhile back a Daring Bakers challenge was pizza dough. This was a great recipe, but it took planning, since the dough had to sit in the fridge for 24 hours.

I knew there had to be a pizza dough recipe that was instant. After all, those dough packets I got at the store called for only a 5-10 minute rise time. I wish I could take credit for developing this recipe that has become my “go-to” when we get the hankering for pizza. Erin from Lee Lou  Ann had the perfect recipe I had been searching for. It takes 10 minutes of knead time and 10 minutes of rise time. This allows you 20 minutes to shred your cheese, brown your meat, mix your sauce, preheat your oven, have a beer or a glass of wine, whatever you need to do to get ready for pizza time.

Easy Pizza Dough
(from Always in Season)
4 to 4 1/2 c. flour
2 envelopes fast-rising dry yeast
1 t. sugar
2 t. olive oil
1 3/4 c. warm water (110 degrees)
1 t. salt

Put water in mixer bowl. Add yeast and sugar, stir with fork and let sit until creamy. Add oil and half flour and mix with kneader hook. Add remaining flour and salt, knead for 8-10 minutes. Let rest, covered with towel for 10 minutes. The dough may be punched down, placed in a resealable plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator for 12 hours or frozen at this point; return to room temperature before proceeding.
Divide the dough into 8 portions for 6″ crusts or 2 portions for large crusts. Top with sauce, cheese and other toppings. Bake on pizza stone or cookie sheet at 450-500 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

* Roll your crust thin and dock (poke wholes) with fork. Brush lightly with olive oil.
* Crank up the temp on your oven. I preheat my oven and pizza stone to 550 degrees F.
* Par-bake your crust for 5 minutes before topping.
* Limit your toppings to no more than four. Too many toppings will make your dough soggy.
* Use sauce lightly. I like to do cheese down first, then meat and veggies, sprinkle of Parmesan and pizza spices
* Once pizza is topped bake for another 8 minutes, or until cheese is melty and bubbly.

If you follow these tips you will have a delicious crispy crust pizza. My husband thinks that this is the best pizza ever! We are looking forward to giving it a try on my in-laws BGE!


Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day


My most recent trip to the library I brought home Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. After flipping through it several times I realized that this is a book I need for Christmas (hint, hint). I made only the Master Recipe, in two different shapes: Boule and Baguette. I have renewed the book several times, because there are so many other recipes I want to try. I know soon I will have to return it, it would be so nice to have a copy of my own (hint, hint).

The bread is truly easy to make. It is a wet dough that you store lightly covered in your refrigerator, you pull off a hunk of dough when you are ready to bake. Last month we went over to a friends house for dinner, when I asked what I could contribute to the dinner, I was asked to bring bread to eat with the chili. It was so easy, I grabbed a couple grapefruit-sized hunks of dough from the fridge, shaped into baguettes, let rise and bake. It really took no effort on my part. How wonderful is that? Homemade bread without all the effort. The authors say that the master recipe can be stored for up to 14 days and it will become more sourdough flavored the longer it sits. I can not tell you if this is true, because the bread is so good, I used up all my dough after two days (actually less than 48 hours).

The Master Recipe: Boule
from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

Makes four 1 lb loaves
3 c lukewarm (100 degrees F) water
1 1/2 T granulated yeast (I used dry active)
1 1/2 T kosher salt
6 1/2 c unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method

Mixing and Storing the Dough
In a large, resealable food storage container, mix water, yeast and salt. Add in all the flour (no kneading required!). Mix together (I used a strong wooden spoon) until everything is moist. You should be able to mix the dough together relatively quickly. Allow dough to rise in bowl on the counter for 2 hours (up to 5 hours), you could use the dough after this rise if you wanted to. Refrigerated dough is less sticky, so, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Ready to Bake
Cover your pizza peal with cornmeal (I do not own a pizza peal, so instead I use parchment paper). Sprinkle your dough with a little flour. Pull up and pinch off a grapefruit sized (1 lb) blob of dough. Add a little more flour, so the dough won’t stick to your hands. Stretch the dough around to the bottom to make a ball shape, this will take a few seconds to achieve. The end result will be a smooth ball of dough.  Put your ball of dough on the pizza peal to rise for 40 minutes (does not need to be covered).  Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.  Place your baking stone in the lower third of your oven, and a empty boiler tray on the top shelf. Once the bread is ready to go into the oven, dust the top with flour and make 1/4 in. slash marks in the top with a bread knife.  Quickly transfer bread to pizza stone, and add 1 c hot water to boiler tray. Quickly close the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until bread looks brown and crusty. Cool completely before slicing.

Focaccia Bread

As the weather gets cooler I begin to crave hearty foods, like homemade soups and breads. Awhile back I made Old-Time Beef Stew and with it I served some homemade focaccia bread. Sasha, now 2 1/2 loves to help in the kitchen, and I thought this focaccia would be the perfect opportunity for her to help.

I used Michael Chiarello’s Potato Foccacia recipe for the dough, and instead of topping it with potatoes I used dried thyme, rosemary and cheddar cheese. It was great for dunking into our stew.

For the Dough:

1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup lukewarm whole milk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt, preferably gray salt

Combine the yeast, sugar, and milk in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 1/2 cup of the flour. Stir well, cover with a towel, and let rest in a warm place for 25 minutes.

Mix in the olive oil, salt, and 1 cup of flour, until well incorporated. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough adheres to the hook. It should remain soft and slightly sticky. Continue mixing for about 6 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Remove from the bowl, shape the dough into a ball, flatten slightly, and put into an oiled bowl. Turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a towel and put in a warm place for about 1 hour, to let the dough rise until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a baking sheet.

Lightly flour the dough and punch it down. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12 by 10 inches. Brush off any excess flour and transfer to the oiled baking sheet. Brush the dough with olive oil and leave to rise for 30 minutes.


Dimple the dough by poking your fingers into it. Add dried herbs and cheese.


Please don’t lick your fingers until you are completely done dimpling the dough!

Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and the bread is crisp on the bottom. Let cool in the pan to room temperature. Cut into squares, “fingers,” or triangles to serve.


Here Sasha is enjoying all her hard work.

Cinnamon Rolls


Paula Deen. The Queen of all things delicious. I don’t think I have ever made one of her recipes that I did not love, or see her cook something that did not make my mouth water. Well I take that back, the other day on Paula’s Home Cooking she was making Peanut Butter Cheese Fudge, and my stomach did flip-flops.

I recently made Paula’s Cinnamon Rolls for my husband to take to work, they were a huge success, the pan came back empty. This recipe is a MUST TRY! For me it is a WILL MAKE AGAIN!

Click on the cinnamon roll link to get the recipe.


Daring Bakers: PIZZA DOUGH!

It is the end of the month and that means it is The Daring Bakers Challenge deadline. This month’s Challenge was hosted by Rosa’s Yummy Yums. Our challenge is something that we love in our house and that is homemade pizza. When people think of baking, typically something sweet, creamy, and chocolatey come to mind, at least that is what comes to my mind. I am so glad that this month our challenge involved something I could serve my family for dinner.

This month’s recipe is “Pizza Napoletana” from Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”. Included in part of the challenge was capturing yourself tossing the dough. I unfortunately do not have a picture of this, so please check out the Daring Bakers blogroll for wonderful pictures of my fellow bakers who have mastered the toss.  We also had to use both a sauce and toppings, but it was left up to our imagination as to what those included.

I know a couple secrets to great pizza is a HOT, HOT, HOT oven and don’t overload the toppings. This is a recipe I want to try when I am at my in-laws place, because they cook their pizzas on the grill. My father-in-law has a BGE (Big Green Egg) and it makes for some amazing pizza. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. However, this dough can not be whipped up on a whim. You need to plan for it, because it takes needs to rest in the fridge OVERNIGHT.

My pizza toppings include: marinara sauce (very little), cheddar cheese, Canadian bacon (ham), pineapple (that has been blotted dry), dried Italian herbs, and fresh shredded Parmesean cheese.

I do want to make a pizza with apples. I have a whole crisper drawer full in my fridge.

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled – FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast – FOR GF use 2 tsp
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar – FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.


2.  FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.

3. Flour a work surface or counter.  Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them.  Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.


8.  FOR GF:  On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator.  Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven.  Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.


10.  FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.


11.  FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.


12.  FOR GF:  Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.


13.  FOR GF:  Follow the notes for this step.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Yeast Rolls

I have been loving my local library lately; I think I have been there every week since we moved to Omaha. On one of my more recent trips I picked up Down Home Wholesome by Danella Carter. This cookbook is filled with 300 low-fat recipes. Danella includes little stories with some of the recipes, and with her yeast roll recipe the story said these were her mom’s yeast rolls and whenever they were invited someplace for dinner her mother’s rolls were always requested. Since these rolls were infamous, I had to try them. They were delicious! I even made some mini yeast rolls for my girls to enjoy.

Yeast Rolls
Down Home Wholesome by Danella Carter

1 package active dry yeast
1 T honey
1/4 c warm water
2 c 1% fat milk
2 T butter
4 T sugar
1/4 tsp salt
5 c AP unbleached flour

Dissolve the yeast and honey in the warm water and set aside for 10 min. Scald the milk in a small saucepan. Add the butter, sugar, and salt, and let the mixture come to room temperature in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture. Add flour, a little at a time, until a soft dough is formed. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, about 12 min. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large buttered mixing bowl.

Lightly oil the top of the dough, cover with a plate, and let stand in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour, or until dough doubles in bulk.

Butter two muffin pans. Punch down the dough with your fist, and knead for 3 minutes. Pinch off 24 pieces about 2 inches in diameter. Place each piece into a muffin cup.

Cover and let sit for 45 minutes, or until rolls have doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil the top of each roll. Bake for 15 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.

A Naan-Traditional Meal

In July Alex and I traveled to Phoenix, while we were there we ate at a delicious Lebanese restaurant in Tempe, called Layalena. Before we ate there my middle eastern food experience was extremely limited; in fact I think the only thing I had previously eaten was hummus. Since neither of us knew what to order we decided to order a sampler mezza (appetizer) and the king’s feast for dinner and share it.  The appetizer included: Hummus, baba ganouj, falafel, labneh, m’hammara, and grape leaves. The king’s feast was huge and included: A skewer of kefta kabob, shish tawook, and shish kabob plus a lamb chop. It was a wonderful meal. Since we aren’t on vacation anymore, I had to figure out how to satisfy my craving for that meal at home.

My inspiration for this meal came after we took a trip to the library and I checked out several cookbooks; one was this beautiful book entitled “Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World“. As I flipped through the book (several times) I saw a recipe for Silk Road Non; after reading it over and over I thought I could at least give it a try. What fun it would be to make handmade non (also spelled nan or naan), and a whole middle eastern meal to accompany it. I did a little research and completed my menu with muhammara and shish tawook.

Everything turned out so beautifully, in this case my hard work really paid off.  Alex was presently surprised with a delicious meal when he came home from work, and he requested it becomes part of the meal rotation. So shake up your recipe collection and try something naan-traditional!If you need inspiration, head to your local library. Many libraries are stocked with recipe books from around the world.

Silk Road Non
Makes 12 round breads
From: Home Baking

2 tsp active dry yeast
3 c warm water
7 to 9 c AP Flour (or 2 c whole wheat flour, plus 4-6 c AP flour)
1 T salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 c rendered lamb fat melted, (or 4 T unsalted butter, melted)

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add 3 cups of the flour (if using whole wheat flour, add it and 1 c AP), a cup at a time, stirring well until a smooth batter forms, then stir for another minute, always stirring in the same direction. If you have the time, cover your bowl with plastic wtap and let stand for 30 minutes, or as long as 3 hours, if more convenient.

Sprinkle on 1 T salt and stir in. Add 3 T of the lamb fat or butter and fold in. Continue to add the flour, a cup at a time, stirring and folding it in until dough becomes too stiff to stir.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes.

Place the dough in a clean blow, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until at least doubled in volume, about 2 hours. (For more flavor, set in a cool place to rise for 8 hours, or overnight.)

Place rack in upper third of oven and place a large baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, (or baking sheet) on it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it in half and set one half aside, covered. Cut the remaining dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball and then flatten with the floured palm of your hand. With a rolling pin, begin rolling it out into thin rounds about 8 inches in diameter. The dough may resist stretching, so work with 2 rounds at once to give the gluten in the dough time to stretch and relax. Roll out 1 round as far as it will easily go, then work on a second before coming back to the first to roll it out a little more.  As you complete each round, set aside on a lightly floured surface, covered with a towel or with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes before baking.

To shape the breads for baking, warm the remaining 1 T lamb fat or butter until very liquid and place by your work surface, together with a pastry brush and salt. Lightly dust a peel with flour. Place a dough round on the peel, then stamp or prick with center of the round thoroughly and vigorously with a fork, leaving a 1 inch rim. Brush lightly all over with lamb fat or butter, then sprinkle the center with a generous pinch of salt. Transfer to the baking stone, placing it to one side to leave room for another bread. Prepare the next bread, and slide into the over beside the first.

Bake for 5 1/2 – 7 minutes, until well flecked with gold. Place on a rack to cool for 5 minutes or so, then wrap in a cotton cloth to keep warm.

As this post is already incredibly long I will just include links to the other recipes. Mahammara is a red pepper and walnut dip. It is delicious with naan. Mahammara link is here. Also I recommend you roast your own red peppers; I couldn’t believe how easy it was, click here for a how to roast your own peppers tutorial.

Shish Tawook is a marinated and grilled chicken. It is so easy to make and tastes wonderful with muhammara. I used a combination of recipes. The original recipes can be found here and here.

Shish Tawook

1/2 c Plain yogurt (I used sour cream)
1/4 c white vinegar
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
2 T ketchup
2 T yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
2-3 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breasts (cut into strips)

In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients. Stir in chicken pieces, coating all sides with marinade. Cover bowl, and refrigerate overnight. Skewer chicken onto kabobs, grill until cook through.