Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

With my recent success with yeast, I’m starting to go back to all the yeast using recipes I’ve wanted to attempt. As a friend said, “It was a crime that someone so experienced in cooking wasn’t comfortable with yeast.” These are words that couldn’t be any more true! Done are my days using a prepared pizza dough from Trader Joes. Homemade pizza dough is the only way to go in this house going forward!

With that said, I decided to come close to home by making a Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza from scratch. I used two small round stoneware pans for individual pizzas. Although it came out amazing, I would probably make one large pizza next time. I didn’t like how ‘stubby’ the pizza slices were because the pan was small. However the dough itself was wonderful. My husband even suggested marketing the pizza (silly guy!). But I can’t take all the credit as I used an Emeril recipe. Who knew Mr. Bam could have a good Chicago style recipe?

One thing to note for those that are interested in making a pizza dough from scratch is that not all pizza doughs are the same. Some are better used for thin crust and others for pan or deep dish pizzas. The following recipe is best for pan/deep dish pizzas

Chicago Style Pizza
dough recipe from Emeril/Food Network

Pizza Dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1 (1/4-ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 teaspoons to grease bowl
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar and stir to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the semolina, 1/2 cup of the oil, and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated but the dough is still slightly sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes. Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil.

Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Divide into 2 equal portions and use as directed.

Pizza Sauce:
1 (14.5 oz) can Italian style diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chiffonade fresh basil
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves minced garlic

– While the dough is rising, make the tomato sauce.
– Drizzle olive oil in a hot sauce pan over medium high heat.
– Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
– Add whole can of tomatoes (undrained), tomato paste, fresh herbs and salt/pepper.
– Stir and heat through. Set aside until ready to use.

Pizza Toppings:
1 lb pork sausage
1-2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup sliced white buttom mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced bell pepper strips (frozen is available at Trader Joes)
1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese, divided
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

– In a medium bowl, combine sausage, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, ground pepper and fennel seeds. Mix thoroughly to fully season sausage.
– Divide the sausage mixture in half and shape each half into a large flatten disk of sausage. Set aside.

Assembling Chicago Style Pizza:

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Oil 2 seasoned 12-inch round deep-dish pizza pans with the extra-virgin olive oil. Press 1 piece of dough into each pan, pressing to the edge and stretching about 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Layer the mozzarella & colby jack cheese all over the bottom of the pies. Top each with half of the mushrooms and bell pepper strips.

Top the pizza with the dish of sausage.

Ladle the sauce evenly over each pizza and top with remaining mozzarella if you’d like.

Bake until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice and serve hot.

Aloha BBQ Chicken Pizza Squares

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. This is a recipe I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time. I’ve seen different variations of BBQ chicken pizza in restaurants and this was a way for me to incorporate the trend in my menu with a tropical spin…

Aloha Pizza
recipe adapted from Pampered Chef

2 packages refrigerated croissant dough
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup BBQ sauce, divided
2 cups (8 oz) shredded colby jack cheese
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup pineapple tidbits, drained
handful finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup finely diced tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unroll both packages of dough side by side over bottom of a cookie sheet to cover. Bake 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown; remove from oven.

Spread half of the bbq sauce over hot crust. Sprinkle with chicken, crushed pineapple and cheese over crust. Bake in oven until cheese is melted.

Remove from oven and garnish with fresh cilantro and diced tomatoes.

Holiday Chicken & Gorgonzola Pizza Squares

I prepared this for my annual Holiday Cookie Swap this year. It was a hit and so easy to make!

Holiday Chicken & Gorgonzola Pizza Squares
original Joelen recipe

1 ball of prepared (or homemade) pizza dough
1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
chives, chopped for garnish
salt & pepper to taste

– Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
– Stretch out your pizza dough to loosen it up and make it easier to work with. Sometimes using gravity to help stretch it out helps!
– Press your pizza dough onto your pizza or baking sheet.
– Bake your pizza dough until lightly browned and crisp on the bottom, roughly 12-14 minutes.
– Remove crust from the oven and top with the chicken, cranberries, sliced red onions and gorgonzola cheese.
– Place back in oven and heat until cheese melts.
– To serve, garnish with chopped chives.

Apple, Brie & Caramelized Onion Pizza

I prepared this for my annual Holiday Cookie Swap this year. It was a hit and so easy to make!

Apple, Brie & French Fried Onion Pizza
original Joelen recipe

1 ball of prepared (or homemade) pizza dough
1 wedge or log of brie cheese, sliced
1-2 apples, finely minced
1 cup french fried onions
chives, chopped for garnish
salt & pepper to taste

– Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
– Stretch out your pizza dough to loosen it up and make it easier to work with. Sometimes using gravity to help stretch it out helps!
– Press your pizza dough onto your pizza or baking sheet.
– Bake your pizza dough until lightly browned and crisp on the bottom, roughly 12-14 minutes.
– Remove crust from the oven and top with slices of brie with the rind removed.
– Top with the french fried onions.
– Sprinkle with minced apples.
– Place back in oven and heat until cheese melts.
– To serve, garnish with chopped chives.

Fresh Fruit Dessert Pizza

The following recipe was made for my guests during my Fall Snacks cooking class. You can read and view links to other recipes I made HERE.

Fresh Fruit Dessert Pizza
Recipe adapted from HERE

1 (18 ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 cup homemade buttercream icing
1/4 – 1/2 cup each of the following fresh fruit: strawberries, blueberries, sliced kiwi, drained mandarin oranges

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
– Press cookie dough evenly into a 12 inch pizza pan or medium sized baking pan. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack.
– When cooled, spread the buttercream icing over the top of the baked cookie crust.
– Top with fresh fruit and cut into squares before serving.

Mexican: Light & Refreshing

For dinner tonight, a friend came over to catch up on girltime. I prepared a quick dinner that was light, flavorful and used what I had on hand, since the hubby to the car to work today. (And it was a perfect chance to cook beef for myself since my hubby doesn’t eat beef!) With that said, here’s what I came up with and was pleasantly surprised what a little creativity can do!

Mexican Steak “Pitzas” with Cilantro Cream

1 lb beef flank steak, finely chopped
1/2 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon southwest seasoning
1 teaspoon Sazon con Cilantro seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon canola oil for cooking
4 gyro pitas
1/2 cup shredded mexican blend cheese
1/2 finely diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
2-3 tablespoons water

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
– In a skillet over medium high heat, add the cooking oil, onions and garlic; saute until softened.
– Add the beef and seasonings and cook until browned.
– Meanwhile, place your gyro pitas on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes to soften the pitas. Remove the pitas from the oven and set aside.
– When the beef has cooked thoroughly, carefully spoon the beef over the warmed pitas to cover completely.
– Top the beef with the shredded cheese and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese has melted.
– While the pitas are baking, prepare the cilantro cream by combining the cilantro, sour cream and water. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
– When the pitas are done baking, remove from the oven and top with the cilantro cream and chopped tomatoes; serve.

Tex Mex Quinoa Salad

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 chicken breast, boiled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 stalk green onion, sliced
2 japelenos, finely diced
1 can sweet kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the quinoa and chicken broth. Cook until done and set aside.
Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss.
Add the slightly cooled quinoa to the bowl and toss
Season with salt & pepper to your taste.

Garlic & Herb Three Cheese Pizza

The following recipe was made for my Food Network Chefs Dinner. You can read about it and get other recipes made for the event HERE.

Garlic & Herb Three Cheese Pizza
shared at the event by Tricia
(a Rachel Ray recipe, found HERE)


1 ball fresh pizza dough, store bought or from your favorite pizzeria
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 (5-ounce) round soft cheese with herbs, crumbled (recommended: Boursin)
1 teaspoon lemon zest, eyeball it
2 cups shredded sharp provolone cheese
Few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Stretch dough out and form a thin round. Use a little flour or cornmeal on your hands if dough sticks. Mix the garlic, parsley, ricotta, herb cheese and lemon zest. Spread the soft cheese mixture across the pizza dough to the edges then top with an even layer of provolone. Scatter thyme over the cheese mixture. Bake until crisp and bubbly-brown on top, 18 to 20 minutes.