Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spook-tacular Homemade Pizza

My family - like many - loves pizza! I started making pizzas from scratch when my children were young and we lived in a little town in Minnesota that was at least 15 miles from anything. There wasn't an option to order a pizza for delivery or take-out. Over the years, I've perfected the style our family likes and now pizza made from scratch is the "treat". Who would've guessed it?

A few years ago, after we moved back to Sioux Falls, we noticed a newspaper ad insert for Papa Murphy's. For those of you not familiar with Papa Murphy's, they specialize in "take and bake" pizzas. You buy a ready-for-the-oven pizza at their store and take it home to bake it. It was close to Halloween and they were advertising a jack-o'-lantern pizza. I looked at the ad and thought "I can do that". Since then, making a jack-o'-lantern pizza for Halloween has become a tradition at our house.

To make the jack-o'-lantern pizza, simply form a "stem" at the top of the pizza when rolling the dough out on the pan. It's really quite easy to do! Use strips of green pepper to make it look more like a stem. After spreading the cheese on top of the toppings, make a jack-o'-lantern "face" using pepperoni, black or green olive slices or any other toppings. If you have young children at home, it's a lot of fun to let them make the jack-o'-lantern face. We've also used the mini pepperoni to spell out "Boo!" and "Eek!" on the pizza. Just use your imagination!

My youngest son, Adam, made the pizza this year!

Pizza Crust

Makes 2 - 12" pizzas or 1 - 16" pizza

2 3/4 - 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 pkg. (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. dry Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 cup lukewarm water (slightly cool to the touch)
2 tbsp. cooking oil (can also use olive oil, if you prefer)

Pizza Sauce (my family prefers the Ragu Original Pizza Quick Sauce, but I've included a good recipe for homemade sauce below, if you're in a pinch or want to make your own sauce)

Toppings - whatever you and your family likes to have on their pizza!

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/4 cups of flour, the yeast, salt, seasoning, and parmesan cheese. Add the warm water and oil. Beat with an electric mixer (or you can also use a whisk, if mixing this by hand) on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape bowl and continue mixing on a higher speed for 3 minutes. Using a spoon (or dough hook, if using a machine), stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic - about 6 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Let the dough rise for approximately 30 minutes.

All ready for the pan!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease two 12" pizza pans (I use a baking stone, so no pan preparation is necessary) or one 15-16" pizza pan. You can sprinkle the pans with cornmeal, if you like. Divide the dough in half, if making two pizzas, and roll the dough (I use a baker's roller from Pampered Chef shown on the right or my hands) to fit the dough to the pan. You can roll the dough on the countertop or directly on the pan, whichever you prefer.

Adam doing a GREAT job rolling out the dough!
We prefer a crispy crust, so I pre-bake the crust for about 5-8 minutes (depending on how thin it is) before adding the sauce and other toppings. If you pre-bake, be sure to prick the crust with a fork so the crust doesn't form any bubbles.

Spread pizza sauce over the crust (be careful it you pre-baked the crust) and layer on any other toppings you and your family likes. Finish the pizza with a generous layer of mozzarella cheese (shredded or slices - whatever you and your family likes). If you're feeling adventurous, try blending the mozzarella with parmesan, provolone, romano or asiago cheeses.

Now for the sauce . . . .
Bake in a 425-degree oven until the cheese in bubbly and browned to your taste - about 10 - 18 minutes (depending if you pre-baked your crust or not).

Pizza Sauce

1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 - 7 1/2 oz. can undrained diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp. dried basil (use 1 tbsp. if using fresh basil)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried oregano (use 1 tbsp. if using fresh oregano)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or until the onion is tender.

Please send a photo of your jack-o'-lantern pizza and I'll post it next week! Enjoy and Happy Halloween!!

And, if you find yourself really pressed for time or if making a pizza from scratch just really isn't your thing, then check out Papa Murphy's. They make a pretty good pizza!

This post is linked with love to the following:


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meatloaf Worth Making

Lately, like many, we've been trying to eat healthier meals. I came across this recipe watching Food Network one Saturday afternoon and thought "why not?". Turkey's something that's served in our home maybe twice a year and I'm sure you can guess when that is. I don't have many recipes for turkey - other than roast turkey - so I was curious when I saw this.

I used Claire Robinson's recipe, but made a couple of adjustments. I didn't have sun-dried tomatoes on hand, so I substituted some Pineapple Chipotle Salsa from Stonewall Kitchen.

I should have taken the picture BEFORE opening it!

What a difference a little salsa makes in a meatloaf! We loved it! The pineapple chipotle salsa was so good, it's inspired me to try it with other salsas. I'm sure the sun-dried tomatoes are equally as delicious and I'll have to try them in the recipe in the future, too.

The other adjustment I made was to just serve the meatloaf when it came out of the oven. I skipped the step to "twice-cook" it. The meatloaf had a wonderful texture I haven't ever had a hamburger meatloaf produce, so I didn't feel the need to slice it and give it a "crust" on a hot skillet. Besides, we were hungry and I didn't want another pan to wash!

If you do try this recipe, may I offer a tip? Search for the video of Claire making this meatloaf - it's short, I promise - and watch how she shapes the meatloaf on a sheet pan instead of pressing it into a loaf pan. Genius! The results are much better. One other tip (if I may), is to use turkey with a higher fat content. Turkey tends to get dry when cooked and a higher fat content definitely helps. I used an 85/15 turkey and the meatloaf was very moist.

Here's the link to Claire's twice-cooked turkey meatloaf on Food Network:

And here's the recipe I used with just an adjustment or two:

Turkey Meatloaf

Serves:  4

1 lb. ground turkey (use a turkey with a fat content of 7% or greater)
3/4 cup bread crumbs (if you have homemade crumbs from soft bread - even better!)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup salsa (your choice of flavor) or sun-dried tomatoes (puree them first)
1/4 tsp. ground sage (may also use fresh chopped sage leaves, but use 1/2 tsp. of them)
pinch of salt and pepper

Mix everything together in a bowl. I used my hands to really get it mixed well.

Not very pretty (at this point), but it's not how you start that's important. It's how you finish that matters!

Place on a greased sheet pan or baking dish. Shape into a slightly mounded loaf.

All ready for the oven!

Bake in a 375-degree oven for approximately 50 minutes or until a quick-temp thermometer registers 165-degrees. Spread 1/4 cup salsa or pureed sun-dried tomatoes on top of loaf and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. If you'd like a little more texture, just follow the link to Claire's recipe for twice-cooking.


If you have a minute or two, check out Stonewall Kitchen's selection of salsas and chutneys: and You won't be disappointed! Or, if you're in the Sioux Falls area, check out Treasures From the Heart at 3605 W. 57th St. They carry many Stonewall Kitchen products and it's a unique, fun store.