Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pan Pizza - Restaurant Style (Made at Home)

The first time I had this pizza at a friend's house I begged shamelessly for the recipe. When certain out-of-state members of my family come to visit they want to go to the "pizza lady's" house and have pizza. When I make this for guests they tell me it's better than what they get at restaurants. You see, the "pizza lady's" husband actually managed Pizza Huts at one time in his life. Over several years he and his wife worked on an elevated homemade version of pan pizza, and she gladly shared the recipe with me. Wow. What a gift! I did change the dough recipe to something a whole lot easier and I don't taste any difference.  I asked for the appropriate Chicago Metallic pizza pans for Christmas, and now this recipe has definitely become a family recipe. As a matter of fact, I just gave out the recipe last week so I thought it was about time that I posted it on my blog.

Pan Pizza - Restaurant Style (Made at Home)
(the following recipe makes two 12 inch pizzas or four 9-10 inch pizzas)

Master Boule Dough Recipe (ingredients listed below for convenience)
2 lbs of a good quality ground sausage (I've used Whole Foods and Jimmy Dean), browned
1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 clove of garlic
2 small or 1 medium onion, diced
16 oz of shredded mozzarella
dried oregano (and some fresh oregano if you have it)

Master Boule Dough Ingredients
3 cups of lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons of Kosher salt (I use Real Salt)
6 1/2 cups of unbleached, all-purpose, white flour using the scoop and sweep method

1. Make the dough by placing the flour in a large mixing bowl. Mix salt and yeast to lukewarm water (not to exceed 110 degrees) in another container. Don't worry about getting all the yeast to melt into the water.  Add yeast mixture to the dough and mix with wooden spoon until there are no dry spots. Use your hands if necessary. Cover and allow to rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size. You can see step by step instructions here.

2. A half hour prior to making the pizza preheat the oven to 500 degrees and start preparing the rest of the ingredients. Brown the ground sausage into bite size chunks. If there is a lot of fat left in the pan you can run a paper towel through the cooked sausage to absorb it.

3. Add 1 clove of garlic to tomato sauce. Open the jar or can and press 1 clove of garlic into the sauce and stir. (Well, I accidentally took off another small clove from the bulb so I threw that one in too).

4. Dice the onion and set aside.

5. Oil two 14 inch deep dish pizza pans or four 10 inch cake pans with a few glugs of olive oil.

6. When the dough is doubled in size divide the dough in half (and in half again if you are making four pizzas).

7. Press the dough into a flat disc and use gravity to help stretch the dough. Let the dough hang (like a steering wheel) until it stretches then turn 2 hours on a clock. Let the dough hang and stretch then turn 2 hours on a clock. Repeat this process as necessary until the dough is more than halfway the size you need.

8. Add the dough "wheel" to the oiled pan and let it rest. Repeat the process for the other pan(s).

9. Go back to pizza #1 and using your fingertips gently press from the center out to create a 12 inch circle in a 14 inch pan. Use your judgement if you are using smaller pans (I've never made the smaller versions). I don't go all the way to the edge. I like the crust better this way.

10. Bake pizza crust #1 at 500 degrees on the second to bottom shelf of oven for 12 minutes. This step is important for the yummy, brown, crunchy crust on the bottom of the pizza. Plus, it par bakes the crust. While this crust is baking finish pressing out pizza crust #2.

11. Remove the par baked crust #1 and par bake crust #2 on the second to the bottom shelf for 12 minutes. While crust #2 is baking add the toppings to crust #1.

12. Add half garlic sauce to crust #1.

13. Pinch and crumble dried oregano with your fingertips while sprinkling over the pizza sauce.

14. Add half of the sausage.

15. Top with half of the cheese and half the onions.

16. When crust number #2 is done par baking shift the rack to the second position from the top. Switch the oven to low broil. Bake pizza number #1 for 8 to 12 minutes until the cheese is melted, lightly brown and bubbly.

17. Remove the pizza from the pan to a cutting board. Sprinkle the pizza with fresh oregano (or basil) if you have it and slice with a pizza cutter into 8 slices. Make pizza #2 the same way.

Take note of all the happy smiles and all the yummmmms, and be prepared to share the recipe.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cheeseburger Salad

If you are one of the many people making a low carb recipes a part of their lifestyle then this recipe might come in handy. I don't know about you but it seems whenever I'm trying to cut back on carbs I end up with cravings for some of my favorite "junk" food: pizza, burgers, fries, and fried chicken. The burger craving I can solve. A cheeseburger salad will scratch that itch. Whether you are on South Beach phase 1 or the induction phase of The New Atkins you can make this recipe work for you. This is one of my go-to low carb week night recipes.

Cheeseburger Salad
1 lb of hamburger
4 to 6 cups of lettuce (I used a combination of Romain and Iceberg)
your favorite ranch dressing* (I made Homemade Ranch Dressing)
2 oz of sharp cheddar cheese*
red onion
garlic powder
*use low fat versions for South Beach and regular for The New Atkins.

1. Form two 8 oz hamburger patties. Season both sides with salt pepper and garlic.

2. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet (preferably cast iron for flavored browning). When the oil is shimmering add the burger patties. Make a two finger indent into the center of each patty. This will help counteract the "puffing" of the burger as it cooks. Cook on side one for 5 minutes.

3. While the burgers are cooking on side one wash and chop the lettuce. Slice a 1/4 inch ring of red onion.

4. Flip the burgers. Look at the yummy crust!

5. Add 1 oz of cheese to each burger and add the red onion. Sprinkle the red onion with salt and pepper. Cook the burger "covered" for another five minutes until cheese is melted.

6. While the burgers are cooking on the second side toss the lettuce with ranch dressing. Divide the lettuce between two plates. Top with more salt and pepper if desired.

7. After the cheese is melted remove the burgers to drain on a couple of paper towels for a minute. Flip the red onion to cook for another minute on the second side.

8. Set the burger on the salad and add the onions on top of the burgers.

You might also enjoy these other versions of cheeseburger salad.
Pioneer Woman's Cheeseburger Salad
Rachel Ray's Cheeseburger Salad

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homemade Ranch Dressing (and Dip)

I love the convenience of bottled salad dressings, but equally important is knowing exactly what all the ingredients are in those type of convenience foods. If I buy salad dressing from a store I prefer to buy the kind that needs to be refrigerated. The ingredient list on those bottles are usually a little easier to understand. I have made the following dressings from scratch: Caesar dressing, lemon vinaigrette, balsamic vinaigrette, avacado-cilantro dressing, and lime-peanut vinaigrette. Recently, I decided that I needed to learn how to make ranch dressing from scratch. Let's face it. When you make things from scratch you usually know what all the ingredients are. After looking at some other recipes online I put the following ingredients together because they sounded good to me. And guess what? I'll make this again and again.

Homemade Ranch Dressing (and Dip)
1 (16 oz) tub of sour cream (I used regular but you can use low fat or no fat, if preferred)
1 garlic clove
1 handful of dill
1 handful of chives
1 handful of flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, optional
fresh cracked pepper
buttermilk to taste

1. Peel one clove of garlic and smash or slice thinly with a knife on a cutting board. Sprinkle the garlic with enough salt to smash with a the tines of a fork and create a paste. Add the garlic paste to a medium sized mixing bowl.

2. Add the sour cream to the garlic in the mixing bowl.

3. Mince the dill, finely.

4. Mince the chives, finely.

5. Mince the parsley, finely.

6. Add the fresh herbs to the sour cream mixture.

7. Squeeze a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and add to the dressing mixture.

8. Mix the herbs and sour cream.

10. Add more salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. (You could use the mixture as is for a thick ranch dip).

11. Add buttermilk and stir until you reach the desired consistency for salad dressing or dip.

12. Use for salad or dip!

These were the recipes that I studied before creating my recipe. The Pioneer Woman and An Oregon Cottage blogs had the biggest influence on my recipe.

The Pioneer Woman's Homemade Ranch Dressing
HuffPost Taste's The Only Ranch Dressing You Will Ever Need
Chow's Basic Ranch Dressing
Simply Recipe's Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
An Oregon Cottage's Best Homemade Ranch Dressing & Dip

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Breakfast Stuffing (A Casserole with Egg, Sausage, Bread, and Cheese)

The last time my mom, dad, and brother came to visit my brother made an amazing breakfast casserole. The first time he had tried it was at a friend's house for brunch. After his first bite he knew he wanted to make if for all of us. When my husband first saw the casserole come out of the oven he said, "mmm, breakfast stuffing." We all had a good laugh because we all know how much he loves stuffing. I've been looking for an excuse to make it again because this dish is most definitely not low carb. After an early morning Easter service we had a special breakfast. I made a "Green Chile and Cheese Breakfast Casserole" and this "Breakfast Stuffing." The bonus factor is that you can prepare everything the night before and bake in in the morning!

Breakfast Stuffing (A Casserole with Egg, Sausage, Bread, and Cheese)
1 lb ground breakfast sausage
1/2 onion diced (optional)
1 lb loaf of french bread, cut into 1" cubes
1 lb of sharp cheddar cheese, grated or shredded
1 dozen eggs
1 cup of half and half

1. Break up the sausage into small pieces and cook on medium heat until cooked through. Place the sausage in a bowl off to the side, and from the frying pan drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.

2. While the sausage is cooking slice the bread into 1 inch cubes.

3. Saute the onions until soft and lightly golden brown. Mix the cooked onion into the sausage.

4. Crack open all the the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until blended.

5. Whisk the half and half into the eggs.

6. Fold the shredded cheese into the egg mixture.

7. Add the cooled sausage and onions to the egg mixture.

8. Place the bread cubes into a buttered 9 x 13 inch baker.

9. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes and make sure everything is mixed well. You don't necessarily want to end up with bread and eggs on the bottom, and the sausage and cheese on top. Instead try to mix all the ingredients evenly -- so it looks like stuffing! You could bake it the same day after the bread is thoroughly moistened, or cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Note: the next morning there wasn't any liquid left and some of the bread cubes seemed dry so I added four more eggs and another splash of half and half. I used a very dense and crusty loaf of bread so it needed a little extra moisture.

10. When you are ready preheat the oven to 350 and bake the casserole for 45 - 60 minutes until completely set -- a knife should come out clean as if you were testing a cake.

Note: here is the link to the original recipe from my brother's friend. Breakfast Strata


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