Monday, February 28, 2011

Delicious Restaurant Quality Pizza AT HOME MY WAY!

Recipes for crust, deep dish pizza, thin pizza, and dessert pizza on this post.

We typically have homemade pizza night at our house once each week or at least once every two weeks. We really love our homemade pizza! Our town is a pretty small town and although we do have Pizza Hut and another local franchise called Breadeaux Pizza, we don’t have any of those little greek or italian pizzarias that I personally prefer. So, I have searched high and low and experimented with many different recipes trying to come up with a homemade pizza recipe that would satisfy my family’s desire to eat pizza “out!” Happy to report that we have settled in to a terrific and easy recipe that most of the members of my family (except daughter #1 who is so, so picky and she insists on only eating Pizza Hut) would rather have any day - even up against their favorite restaurant pizza! Its really outstanding and very easy! I will post the recipe for the crust/dough first and then post how I actually make pizza night extra special at our house!

I make my own sauce and freeze it from homegrown summer tomatoes and I will post that recipe as soon as I can, but your favorite pizza sauce will work just fine!

NOTE:  Mix the dough up the day before and stick it in the fridge. It will rise in there - no kneading required. If you want, you could mix this up and let it rise for 2 hours on the counter and then put it in the fridge. Don't fret if you don't have the 2 hours to let it rise on the counter.  I have to be in my car driving out of the driveway by 7:15 every morning, and sometimes I only have time to mix this up and stick it in the fridge.  If you are leaving it in the fridge all night or all day, it doesn't have to rise on the counter.  It will rise in the fridge over the duration of the day/night just fine!  The dough does really need some refrigerator time so that you can handle it though because it’s a very wet dough. This dough will keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks. I will list other recipes you can use this dough for, like english muffins and a crusty loaf to go with supper.

No-Knead Dough (I learned the basics of the recipe from an issue of Mother Earth News. The link is here  and the authors also have a very nice blog where they try new recipes. But, I digress... here we go...

No-Knead Dough

3 cups very warm water (NOT luke warm) (think “hot but no hurt” - like hot bath water)
2 teaspoons or 1 packet active dry yeast
6 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon salt

Instructions: Measure 3 cups of very warm water(should feel hot to your hand but you can hold your hand under there without wanting to remove it). Stir in the yeast until mostly all dissolved. Let it sit while you measure the flour and salt.

In a very large mixing bowl put the 6 ½ cups of AP flour. Add 1 Tablespoon salt and stir well to combine.

Let the water/yeast sit for about 5 minutes so that it becomes bubbly and frothy.

Pour into the bowl of flour/salt mixture. Stir (a wooden spoon works great) as much as you can. It will be very shaggy. Just stir as much as you can, pushing the dough over on itself with the spoon to incorporate all together. It will not be a ball or anything, just a big bowl of shaggy dough. Cover with plastic wrap (I use a plastic grocery bag) and let sit on the counter 2 hours (if you will be home). After the 2 hours, the dough will have risen and flattened to pretty much fill the bowl. Place the covered bowl in the fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours.

Pizza crust instructions.

Any time you remove dough from the bowl you will first want to sprinkle some flour over the surface of the dough in the bowl. That just keeps it from sticking to your hands (and I think kind of feeds the yeast growing in there to develop a delicious flavor) each time you use it thereafter.

So, sprinkle app. 1/4 cup of flour around on top of the cold dough in the bowl.

Remove a piece about the size of a grapefruit. Form it into a ball/disc and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes. On a floured surface, roll this dough out to fit your pizza pan.

These are my instructions for a deep dish pizza which has a terrific pan-pizza (Pizza Hut type) crust. I use an iron skillet but a round cake pan would also work.

Deep Dish Pizza Instructions

In the iron skillet/pie pan put:

3 Tablespoons oil and swirl around with a pastry/bbq brush (it will be oily - that’s okay. The crust absorbs this oil and it makes it really yummy. Trust me on this.

Make sure your crust is rolled out bigger than the bottom of the pan/iron skillet.

Drop your crust in. Best case scenerio is if it comes up some on the sides but mine tends to shrink back and that’s okay as long as it fills the bottom pan. Pull/stretch it a little bit to fit.

I put on my sauce/ some parmesan cheese (green can is fine), then my toppings - we like pepperoni because we’re boring, and top with grated mozerella.

Bake in preheated 450 degree oven until crust is brown. We like our cheese to start to brown a little bit. The crust will be a little oily underneath like Pizza Hut. Its just really delicious and leftovers are just as yummy.

(Hint: I plop this pizza out of the iron skillet onto a cutting board to slice.)

Pictured here are slices of the deep dish (iron skillet) pizza and the thin pizza.

To make a thin crust pizza (which my hubby prefers).

Roll out your crust as thin as you can and place this crust on a cornmeal sprinkled (also sprayed with cooking spray) cookie sheet/pizza pan. Its nice if you can slide this pizza onto a hot baking stone in the oven, but that is a little tricky with thin crust/sauce/toppings all on there. So I just bake on the cookie sheet. Just make sure to spray the cookie sheet/pizza pan with cooking spray or grease/oil it before you put your cornmeal and then crust on there. (The cornmeal gives the crust a certain good texture/taste but isn’t an absolutely necessity here).

Put on your sauce/toppings, cheese, and bake in preheated oven until its browned like you prefer.

And who can have supper without a fabulous dessert?

To make a delicious Dessert Pizza:

Cream Cheese Streussel Dessert Pizza (instead of cream cheese filling, you could also use any canned pie filling or sweeted fruit)

Get your pizza pan/cookie sheet ready by spraying it with cooking spray. Get your dough out of the bowl - a grapefruit sized piece - letting it rest, rolling it out to fit your pan. When the crust is on the pan:

Filling ingredients:

1 8-oz cream cheese (non-fat, low fat, or regular - all fine)
1 egg
½ cup sugar

Other ingredients:

1 small yellow cake mix (Jiffy brand) or ½ regular yellow cake mix (dry)
½ stick margarine (melted completely)

Ingredients for the Glaze:

2 Tablespoons margarine/butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
2-3 Tablespoons milk
1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Stir together the filling, mixing well:

1 (8 oz) cream cheese (softened or microwaved a few seconds until you can stir it)
½ cup sugar
1 egg (add it after the sugar/cream cheese so that the sugar cools any heat in the cream cheese)

Blend and spread over the dessert pizza crust.


Sprinkle with the dry yellow cake mix.
Drizzle over with melted margarine/butter.

Bake in preheated 450 degree oven 15 minutes or so until crust is browned.
Remove from oven to cool app. 10 minutes.

While this is cooling, stir together your glaze:

Combine melted margarine, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Stir. This should be a pour-able glaze. If not, microwave it a few seconds until it is or add a little more milk.

Drizzle over dessert pizza.

Cut the dessert pizza into fat short strips because this is a delicious but rich little finish to pizza night!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


This weekend I was really in a mood to cook alot! I mixed up a batch of this french bread dough. I made one loaf of regular french bread to go with our supper. I rolled up one loaf of pizza bread. I rolled another one with ham and grated mozerella to eat for sandwiches for the week (sliced).

But, the most exciting thing I made was I made homemade spaghetti pasta. I used this pasta maker which a friend loaned me to try out.

You can find it on Amazon here:

I used the recipe in the box which was:

2 1/4 cups flour
3 eggs

I mixed this up with a little sprinkle of water and kneaded the dough until smooth. Formed the dough into a disk and wrapped in plastic wrap to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Then we rolled pieces of the dough into strips with a floured rolling pin according to the directions in the box, fed those strips into the pasta maker, and then made the spaghetti.  First, you set the pasta maker on setting #1, which is the widest setting and you feed the dough in.  You keep feeding the dough in and decreasing the flatness of the dough.  On our pasta maker we ended up on setting number 4, which was recommended for making spaghetti.  When those strips were flat enough, we fed those strips into the spaghetti cutter part of the pasta maker.

We cooked the spaghetti in salted water about 5 minutes and it was SO DELICIOUS. I never thought homemade noodles could ever taste like storebought pasta, but it really did. My husband actually liked it better than boxed spaghetti because he thought it grabbed on to the sauce better.

I highly recommed making your own pasta. I think you wouldn't even have to have a pasta maker. You could roll the strips very thin. Roll up like for a cinnamon roll, and slice thin, and proceed from there. I need to try it that way and see how it turns out. The noodles might not be perfect in size, but I bet the end result would be the same.

But, I'm going to use my Swagbucks to order it from Amazon since I already have $35 in free money which I earned from doing my Swagbuck searches.

Mama mia - pappa pia !
This recipe is linked to The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Homemade Biscuits

I grew up mostly eating homemade biscuits. The ONLY time we ever got canned biscuits (we have a friend who calls these "wop biscuits" ... purely for the wop you make with the can on the side of the counter LOL) was when we were at my Granny's house. I don't think my Granny really loved cooking like I do.  If there was a shortcut, she took it! LOL.  That's not to say that she didn't make some completely delicious food! She could make a mean pot of spaghetti sauce which all of us grand "young 'uns" (as she called us) thought was the very BEST SPAGHETTI ON THE ENTIRE PLANET and her conch peas and sweet tea - PURE BLISS! (But that's for another day...)

I loved eating canned biscuits at her house. My brother and I would get to split a can. But, at home, we had homemade which was delicious as well! I make homemade biscuits at my house. They are wonderful and we eat them for breakfast, lunch or supper. My girls really dislike canned biscuits! They only eat the homemade version so its a good thing I have mastered this craft....

"Down South" we ate our biscuits with cane syrup or jelly or just butter. My mom tells me she ate hers with even peanut butter although I don't think that sounds so great. Of course, our MOST FAVORITE way to eat biscuits was to split them in a bowl and completely smother them in hot chocolate pudding. I bet we had that once a week for dessert.

Here is how I make HOMEMADE BISCUITS.

Homemade Biscuits
First: Start preheating your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Measure these ingredients into a bowl:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Mix this together. Then add:
1/3 cup margarine/butter (equals 5 1/2 Tablespoons measured on the stick) or 1/3 cup shortening.
Cut this mixture into the flour mixture with two knives or a fork. I prefer to use a pastry blender.
  • Measure:
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons milk (I use 2%)
  • Dump the milk over the flour/baking powder/salt/margarine mixture in the bowl and stir well with a large spoon (I use a wooden spoon.)
  • Spray a large pie pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray or lightly grease/butter.
This is how I form the biscuits:
Place 1/2 to 1 cup flour in a large saucer.
Drop scoops of dough (about 1/4 cup per scoop) onto the pile of flour. Toss around to coat with flour just so it doesn't stick to your hand. Place the floured biscuit in the greased/sprayed pan and pat to take the rough edges off. Place the biscuits almost touching - but very close to each other - in the pan.
Bake 15 minutes or until browning a little bit.
Freezing instructions:
You can also put these unbaked biscuits on a cookie sheet (not touching at all) and flash freeze. Then bag them up for baking later on. This way you don't have to pay the big bucks for those Pillsbury biscuits you find in the freezer section of your grocery store.
My mom just used Jello cook pudding and pie filling chocolate but I have since found a perfect "scratch" recipe which tastes just like my mom's and its homemade so "unknown ingredients" in there. Its here.

Monday, February 7, 2011


We were invited to a Superbowl party this year at the house of a good friend. This is the dish I took to share. I turned this Crusty French Bread Recipe into Pizza Bread. I remembered to take "before" pictures, but of course,was in a run out the door to the party and forgot to take a picture of the finished product. This dough makes 2 loaves of french bread or 2 loaves of pizza bread. No kneading required really. So easy, and everyone should try it!

Crusty French Bread (my camera is pretty awful, but I wanted you to see how it looks while baking)

1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (HOT but no hurt)
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon oil or melted shortening (I used oil)
4 cups all purpose flour

In a 2-cup measuring cup, measure the hotish/warm water. Add the yeast and sugar. Stir well to dissolve, leaving your spoon in there. Let this rest while doing the next step.

In a large bowl measure out the flour and add the salt. Stir well.

Back to the yeast/water. It should be becoming foamy and cloudy. If it is, then add your measured oil. Stir a little bit - very gentle... those yeasties are ALIVE!

Dump the oil/water/sugar/yeast mixture over the flour/salt mixed together in the large bowl.

Using your spoon (I use a wooden one), mix this all together. I actually have to use my hands and mix this in - kneading about 5 times to incorporate all the ingredients all together.

Spray with a little cooking spray or lightly oil/grease some plastic wrap and cover the bowl (I just spray my dough ball with cooking spray and cover with a walmart bag.)

Let this sit to rise in a location that isn't too drafy. I put mine in the microwave (off) and shut the door.

After this has risen, place this dough on a floured surface, Divide in half (2 loaves) and using a floured rolling pin, roll each half until its about 1/2 inch thick. If you are making french bread, just roll up each half and place the loaves on separate sprayed/greased cookie sheets to rise (45 minutes). Slice 3 shallow vertical cuts across the loaves to allow the bread to expand when it bakes (you do not do this step when making the pizza bread), and then bake (PREHEATED 400 degree oven for 30 minutes).

Turning this dough into PIZZA BREAD:

If making PIZZA BREAD, spread with some pizza sauce, sprinkle some parmesan cheese, toppings of your choice on the rolled out halves, along with grated mozerella, to within about one inch of the sides.

Roll up and seal the dough as best as you can. When I baked mine, some still leaked out, but that's okay... it tastes great and you are going for that "rustic look" anyway right?

Place on a greased/sprayed cookie sheet. I spray my loaves with cooking spray and sprinkle additional parmesan cheese.

Let rise for about 30-45 minutes in a non-drafty place,and start preheating your oven to 400 degrees.

Place in oven and bake 30 minutes. Let this baked loaf rest about 10 minutes before slicing.

This is completely AWESOME leftover. I go ahead and slice mine in thick slices and place any leftover slices in a baggy for lunches/breakfast/snacking the next day.

Variation. I think you could slice this like for cinnamon rolls, place in a greased pan and bake like you would cinnamon rolls but these would be pizza rolls.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I am always on the lookout for perfect pancakes. I love pancakes, but I don't like sweet ones. I don't like dense heavy ones. I don't like to taste too much egg. I can't really describe the perfect pancake until I find it. Well... I hit the mother load and found it. I used to teach a bread baking class on Sunday mornings to our high school Sunday school class. They loved making these pancakes! Some of them had no idea you could even make homemade pancakes without a box mix, so they were thrilled to have this recipe. These are THE PERFECT PANCAKE... at least to me. We make up a bunch and store in either the fridge or the freezer for quick busy weekday mornings.

I originally found this recipe at a favorite blog This site is a great resource for all basic cooking recipes. I make lots of her recipes and they always taste great. I like my pancakes a little less thick and dense than the original recipe on the blog so I have modified it to my tastes. But I find that these are so perfect! I like to make them with this buttermilk syrup. It is TO DIE FOR. I kept a jar of this syrup in my fridge for several months and just microwaved it (it will thicken seriously in the fridge). It kept a long time and is like this delicious butterscotch syrup. Very rich, but yummy!

Here's the pancake recipe..


• 1 1/4 cup milk
• 1 medium egg
• 1 tablespoon oil
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 1/2 cups flour

Get out a medium sized bowl. Measure in the milk, egg, oil and sugar. Beat well with a fork or wire whisk. Add the salt, baking powder and flour. Stir again, mixing until the batter is smooth.

Cook on a hot, well oiled griddle (I use margarine or butter on my griddle) or skillet. I use about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake.

These pancakes actually get the little bubbles on top when they are ready to turn (like we learned about in Home Economics, but most box mixes don't do that.)


Friday, February 4, 2011


I used this recipe for Bobby Dean's Goulash found at Mommy's Kitchen blog (which I love by the way), for the most delicious quick supper (think how fast Hamburger Helper is, but better for you)! I changed it up a little bit using what I had on hand like this:


2 - tablespoon soy sauce
2 - bay leaves (do not omit - key ingredient here)
1 - teaspoon oregeno seasoning
1 - (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (diced is great too but I had crushed)
1- (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 - cups water
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 lb - lean ground beef
1 Tablespoon onion powder
2 - cups elbow macaroni, uncooked

In a Dutch oven or large pot, saute the ground beef over medium-high heat until no pink remains. Break up the meat while sauteing. Spoon off any grease. Add the onion powder and garlic to the pot. Add 2 cups water, along with the tomato sauce, crushed/diced tomatoes, oregeno (basil or italian seasoning works here), bay leaves (key ingredient - don't omit this), soy sauce, and a little salt/pepper. Stir well.

Place a lid on the pot and allow this to cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the elbow macaroni, stir well, return the lid to the pot, and simmer for about 15 - 20 minutes (stir periodically here because once the macaroni starts to cook - it might stick). Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves, and allow the mixture to sit about 10 minutes more before serving. Serve with garlic bread and a salad.

DO NOT EAT THE BAY LEAVES. Use big ones so you can find them easier!

This is great leftover. I really love this recipe!

This is what I do during a blizzard!

To ward off the "blues" during our BLIZZARD OF 2011 (18 inches of snow... the entire interstate was closed from St. Louis to KC), I made this cool bread! I call it rainbow bread. I made some for a bake sale they were having at church. The last time I sold it at a farmer's market it was the first thing to go. Even my high schooler loved taking PB&J on this!

I used the recipe for my sandwich bread and dyed each batch a different color (I mixed gel dye into the yeast/water portion of my recipe) and then proceeded from there. When the dough was ready (I did mine in the bread machine throughout the day), I divided each batch of dough into fourths, rolled out each fourth and stacked three colors together (with varying colors on the outside). Rolled like for a cinnamon roll and plopped it in a sprayed loaf pan. It rose for about an hour and then I baked it for 30 minutes as in the recipe. They turned out so cute and if you have to make a great gift for a young person "on the cheap" or something to sell at a bake sale - this is it!

P.S. If you were making rolls for any of party (I'm thinking orange/purple-Halloween; red/white/blue for the 4th of July; red/green-Christmas), this would be great for even dollar rolls. What a way to liven up a sandwich!


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