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!

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Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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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.

Apple Pie with Strudel Topping

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What’s more American than apple pie? Apple pie is probably one of my favorites pies. There are all sorts of variations of this pie. You can find double crust, lattice top, strudel top, crumble top and so on. I have never made my own pie crust, this is something I want to try and have several recipes bookmarked. For this pie, I used store bought pie crust, the kind you unroll and place in your pie dish. I did however, make my own studel topping. This is a great dish to serve during the holidays.

APPLE PIE WITH STRUDEL TOPPING
1 (9 inch) pie shell
5 cups apples (it is nice to use a variety)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

STRUDEL TOPPING
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Unroll pastry shell into pie pan and place in freezer. Place peeled, cored and sliced apples in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine 2 tablespoons flour, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Toss with apples until they are evenly coated. Remove pie shell from freezer. Place apple mixture in pie shell. Cover lightly with a sheet of aluminum foil, do not seal. Bake 10 minutes.

Make Strudel Topping: Combine flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, and oats. Mix thoroughly, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Remove filling from oven and sprinkle strudel on top.

Reduce heat to 375 degrees F. Bake pie 35 to 40 minutes, until strudel is browned. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning.

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    Applesauce Pancakes

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    I have a series of apple related posts, after receiving a giant bag of apples from my grandma, I have made tons of applely treats. My daughters Sasha loves pancakes and applesauce, and I thought she would be delighted if I combined the two. Needless to say, she was not disappointed. These are a perfect fall breakfast, we paired our pancakes with a sausage patty.

    APPLE PANCAKES
    2 c AP Flour
    1/4 c brown sugar
    2 T baking powder
    1 t salt
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 c milk
    1 single serving container of non sweetened applesauce
    1/4 c butter, melted

    Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine eggs, milk, applesauce, and butter; add to dry ingredients and mix well. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter onto a lightly greased hot griddle. Turn when bubbles form on top; cook until second side is golden brown.

    APPLE TOPPING
    2 T butter
    3-4 apples, pealed and sliced thinly
    1/8 c brown sugar
    2 T half and half

    Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Simmer apples and sugar in butter until apples are soft and carameled colored. Stir in half and half. Serve warm over pancakes. ENJOY!

    My other pancake recipes
    Banana Walnut Cornmeal Pancakes
    Biggest Loser Blueberry Pancakes

    My other apple recipes:
    Apple Fritters

    Apple Fritters

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    I have made regular ole glazed doughnuts, which turned out wonderfully. Honestly, there is nothing like eating a doughnut that is still warm. Making yeast doughnuts are not something you can whip-up on a whim however,  you need to wait for them to raise before you can fry them. All the waiting is well worth it, I promise.

    The other weekend we were low on grocery supplies, and I was craving something doughnutty. I still have a small surplus of apples from my great grandma’s tree that needed to be used. Like a light bulb going off in my head it came to me, APPLE FRITTERS!

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    This fall at the farmer’s market  I had an apple fritter that was as large as my head. It was a perfect combination of crispy outside and soft inside. It was delicious. I have never had homemade apple fritters before and wondered how difficult it would be to make at home. I found my recipe at the appropriately named The Picky Apple blog, after searching for a recipe that included chopped apples, not fried apple rings. I did try to make an apple fritter as big as my head, like the ones at the farmer’s market. I failed miserably. The outside was super crunchy (which I like), but the inside was not cooked. I did not have enough oil to adequately fill my dutch oven to fry such a giant fritter. I settled with doughnut hole size fritters, and enjoyed the applely deliciousness. These are so easy to make. You must try this recipe!

    Head on over to The Picky Apple get the recipe. ENJOY (I know I did)!

    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