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.

TIPS FOR PERFECT PIZZA:
* 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!

Sausage and Spinach Lasagna Rolls with a Pesto Tomato Sauce

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WOW that title is a mouthful, at least it is a tasty one! My husband raved over these little lasagna rolls. In fact, he said if I ever openned a restaurant I would HAVE to have these on the menu. What a great compliment for a dinner I threw together with stuff in the fridge.

Those of you who know me and/or have been following my posts know that I LOVE pesto. I could honestly just eat it right off the spoon (and have). Yum! I hope to someday have a Cuisinart food processor where I can make all sorts of great pestos, right now the jarred-grocery store kind works wonderfully. I had a partially used jar of pesto in the fridge and could not let it go to waste. Pesto was the inspiration for these lasagna rolls. I also had a partial jar of marinara sauce and a couple handfuls of baby spinach in the fridge that needed to be used. A little spicy Italian sausage in the freezer and I had the workings for a tasty sounding lasagna.

Let me just say that adding pesto to your jarred tomato sauce really freshens it up. The garlic and basil really complement the tomatoey flavor of a marinara. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.

Sausage and Spinach Lasagna Rolls

1 lb spicy Italian sausage (casings removed)
15 oz ricotta cheese
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
3 c mozzarella cheese
1 10 oz jar Pesto
1 28 oz jar Marinara sauce
couple handfuls Baby Spinach
1 package “boil” Lasagna noodles
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Fill large pot with water, bring to boil. Salt water and add lasagna noodles, cook to package directions. Drain (reserving 1 c liquid), and rinse in cool water. Separate noodles on counter or cookie sheet, so they don’t stick together. Heat skillet over medium heat and brown sausage, breaking up large chunks, drain. Grease 9 x 9 baking dish.

Mix together pesto and marinara. Add 1/2 c sauce to bottom of baking dish. Mix ricotta, Parmesan, 1 c mozzarella, spinach, and reserved noodle liquid.

Assemble rolls:

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Spread ricotta mixture on lasagna noodle.

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Top with some browned sausage. Roll.

Place seam-side down in pan. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Top with remaining sauce mixture and mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil, bake 35-40 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5-10 minutes or until cheese browns.  ENJOY!

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Cottage Pie

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Have you ever heard of a Cottage Pie before? I hadn’t. I have always called this dish Shepherd’s Pie regardless of the meat used. Traditionally Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb, something I am not a fan of. I can say “I do not like lamb” because I have given it many tries. I think ground lamb (with spices and herbs mixed in) is tolerable, but the thought of lamb chops or leg or lamb make my stomach turn.

At Easter I ate at a brunch buffet with my in-laws. As I was eyeing all the lovely food options, I saw a man (actually a teenage boy) standing at the carving station with a beautiful piece of meat in front of him. I thought to myself “Wow that looks like some good  prime rib, I will have that for lunch.” I waited in line, and as I held my plate up to him I said “I will take a couple pieces of prime rib.” He slapped the meat on my plate without a word.  I returned to the table and eagerly cut into my “prime rib”.  I took one bite and almost regurgitated it all over the table. I leaned over to my husband and said “DO NOT get the prime rib, I think there is something wrong with it.” He took a bite of mine and agreed it had a funny flavor. After awhile we heard my husband’s uncle and cousin talking about the lamb –my stomach turned even more. That experience has tainted my perception of lamb, because lamb tastes nothing like prime rib.

I digress. Since I do not like lamb I could not called this dish Shepherd’s Pie, it most certainly is a Cottage Pie made with ground beef. It is tasty. I found my recipe on a really cool website called Cooking for Engineers. They lay out their recipes in a unique manner, for those who like to cook and have an analytical mind. Head over there and check out this recipe for Cottage Pie.

Great looking recipes from blogs I read:

Family Pleasin’ Shepherd’s Pie from Picky Palate

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie from Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Easy Shepherd’s Pie from Simply Recipes

Cottage Pie from What Geeks Eat

My recipes:

Rachael Ray’s Shepherd’s Pie Redo