{Chicago} Deep Dish Pizza

.  Okay, it was only fitting that I whip this recipe out at some point during my tenure in Chicago.  I'm sure you all know by now how much I love this city [I swear I'm never leaving], so how could I resist trying out a recipe the city itself is known for?  Well...I couldn't.

As you surely know, Robbie and I love our pizza.  And we are very critical when it comes to determining what's good and what's not so good.  Unfortunately, he and I differ on whether thick crust or thin crust is better.  I, of course, go for the thick crust.  Who doesn't love the chewy bready-ness of a thick, deep dish pizza?

Ha, well Robbie.  He goes for the thin, crispy sort.  But he and I compromise over our pizza outings and try all different sorts.  We don't discriminate when it comes to pizza.

And when the [rare] occasion rolls around that I decide to make a homemade pizza from scratch, Robbie really has no say.  He gets what I make.  Sorry, love.

So Deep Dish it was.

But the wondrous thing of all?  This time we couldn't have been more on the same page.

This pizza is the real deal.

And by that I mean Robbie went so far to say that "we won't ever order Giordano's again."

Okay, okay.  Probably a little extreme.  But you gotta love his conviction.  And I won't complain when I hear a compliment from my fiance, who is easily my harshest baking critic.  In a loving way, that is.  So I'll take it!

But seriously...I can't even think of one simple tweak I would make to this recipe.  It's pure perfection.  Except maybe for the fact that it only makes two pizzas rather than four.  However, that's probably for my own good.

So let's jump into the details.  Why is this pizza a true rival to some of the Chicago greats?

First.  The flakey, buttery [yet not greasy!] crust.  No doubt in my mind the best homemade crust I have ever made.  Ever.  Now, the crusts I've made before [take a gander at the Ham and Veggie Pizza or Margherita Pizza] were awesome: thick, chewy, and slightly crisp.  But not one of them was like this recipe.

I equate this crust to a bread version of the best pie crust you've ever eaten.  You know those ones that seem to have layers?  The ones you can basically peel away while eating?  Yes.  That is this.  But bready.  And it isn't hard to achieve.  In fact, it'll probably happen by accident simply due to the way the crust will gently fall in on itself on the sides of the pan.  Hard to explain but just take my word for it.

And the beauty of the rest of this [pizza] pie is that YOU customize the filling.  Throw in any meats, veggies, or any odds and ends you can think of.  The possibilities are endless!  And if you end up not liking it, you really only have yourself to blame, right?  But listen up...

One tip: DO NOT skip the tomato mixture!

I kid you not.  This tomato concoction makes all of the difference and you do not want to miss out on it's tastiness.  Ba-lieve me.

But other than that, you're free to do as you please.  And because, according to a trusted source, Halloween is the night with the highest number of pizza deliveries of the year, I'm offering you an option to avoid the waiting game.  And you will not regret your decision.  So, HAPPY HALLOWEEN and off you go!  .

My Notes:
  • DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT be afraid of the fact that you're making a homemade crust.  This dough is absolutely the easiest dough I've ever worked with and extremely forgiving.  I was anything but gentle when rolling out this dough and you would have never known.
  • You can probably tell, but I ran out of daylight while making this pizza.  It gets so dark so early!  So take a look at the original recipe post because the pictures are absolutely beautiful and totally do this pizza justice.
Adapted from Handle the Heat

4 c. all purpose flour
3 tbsp. cornmeal
1-3/4 tsp. salt
2-3/4 tsp. (1 package) instant yeast
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 c. plus 2 tbsp. warm water

1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. dried Italian herbs
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 lb. of choice meat (e.g., chicken, sausage, pepperoni)

  1. For the crust, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, yeast, olive oil, butter, vegetable oil, and water.  Knead on medium-low speed until dough becomes smooth and soft (about 7 minutes; dough can also be kneaded by hand).  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until puffy (about 1 hour).
  2. Lightly grease one 14-inch deep dish pizza pan or two 9-inch pie pans (I recommend using springform pans) and pour in 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil to cover the bottom and sides; set aside.
  3. Once the dough is risen, use your hands to stretch out into a circle slightly larger than the pan(s).  Lay the dough into the pan(s) and stretch towards the edges until the dough begins to pull back.  Cover and let rest 15 minutes.  Heat oven to 425F.
  4. Stretch the dough again so it reaches up the sides and let rest again for 10 to 15 minutes.  Bake crust 10 minutes or until set and barely beginning to brown.
  5. Meanwhile, for the filling, combine tomatoes, garlic, sugar, and Italian herbs in a medium bowl.  Lay 1/2 of the mozzarella across the crust.  Add 1/2 of the meat and top with 1/2 of the tomato mixture.  Repeat to create a second layer (however, if you're using two pans, use 1/4 of the ingredients for each layer.  So in total you will use half of the ingredients for one pizza and half for the second pizza).  Sprinkle the tops with Parmesan cheese to cover.
  6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden brown.  Allow the pizza to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Yield: 1 (14-inch) or 2 (9-inch) pizza(s)

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Secret Recipe Club: Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with Rum Cinnamon Sauce

.  Fall, in my mind, means comfort food.  Warm, comfort food.  From soups to pies to all of those highly anticipated holiday meals.

And bread pudding.

Bread pudding is easily my most favorite indulgent treat.  There's absolutely nothing healthy about it [what baked good is...] but uggGggGggGggggh, it is SO good.  I can't resist it.  I get it from my mama.

So for this months' SRC, there was zero question about what I would choose to make from Kate's Kitchen, my October assignment.

Kate's lovely blog is full of savory cooking recipes and you know they must be de-lish because her hubby is actually a sous chef.  As well as her appointed taste tester.  So while I eat pre-made salads from the grocery store, I can't even imagine the decadent, wondrous meals going down in Kate's house.  Lucky gal!

But as I perused Kate's blog, I came across her Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with Rum Cinnamon Sauce....hmm, no brainer.

And this recipe did not disappoint.

Bread puddings are one of those goodies that require the least amount effort but produce crowd pleasing favorites that no one can ever get enough of.  And during the hectic holiday times, who doesn't love a dish that you quickly prepare the night before, let set while you sleep, and pop into the oven in the morning for a hearty, filling breakfast?

This custard-laden bread dish consists of your classic bread pudding ingredients but Kate's subtle variations create a dish on a level of it's own.  For example, allowing the butter to seep into each piece of bread, the studding of chocolate chips throughout the dish, and the drizzle of butter and brown sugar across the top before baking.  I guess that cinnamon rum sauce [that simply screams holidays!] seeping into every crevice doesn't hurt either.

But to really get what I'm saying here, you're just going to have to bake up a batch of this yourself.  It took me oh, all of about 6.25 minutes to whip together and you just let the oven do the rest.  I'm already envisioning this dish at our breakfast table for the coming holidays.  It's that worthy.

I highly recommend you make try this recipe out before the holidays though, just to make sure you really like it.  It typically takes about half of a panful of taste testing bites to truly get a feel for it though.  I guess you'll just have to sacrifice for this one though ☺

So THANK YOU, Kate, for such a quality recipe that will remain in my repertoire for a long time coming.  I'm so excited to have been assigned your blog and can't wait to see what you whip up next.  Until next month, SRCers!  .

My Notes:
  • Feel free to use whatever type of bread you have on hand, but I always recommend quality breads such as challah, brioche, etc.  And if you're feeling really adventurous, try out the best homemade challah recipe I've come across [and I'm not just saying that because it's my recipe, I promise!].  
  • This particular recipe doesn't require overnight setting, but it doesn't mean it can't!  The longer a bread pudding sits, the better it will taste.  Trust!
  • If you're looking for a more adult version of the rum cinnamon sauce, substitute in 1/4 cup of rum for the rum extract and water.
Adapted From Kate's Kitchen

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding:
1 lb. bread loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 scant c. semisweet chocolate chips
2-1/2 c. half & half
1 c. sugar
6 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp. packed light brown sugar

Rum Cinnamon Sauce:
1 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. rum extract
3 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

  1. Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, toss together bread and melted butter to coat bread pieces evenly.  Add chocolate chips and mix well.  Spread bread mixture evenly in prepared pan.
  2. In the same bowl, whisk together half & half, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and salt.  Pour the custard over the bread mixture.  Press bread down to make sure each piece is coated with the custard.  Let stand for 30 minutes to soak, pressing bread down every 10 minutes.  
  3. Heat oven to 350°F.  Drizzle the remaining melted butter and brown sugar over top of bread pudding.  Bake 1 hour or until puffed and golden.  
  4. For the sauce, in a small bowl whisk together melted butter and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Add cinnamon, rum extract, water, and vanilla extract, and mix until combined.  Serve over bread pudding.
Yield: 2 dozen servings

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Raised Yeasted Waffles

.  Okay.  I've literally been trying to compose this post all of this last weekend and for the life of me...I can't.

I think it's what they call a 'writer's block'?  Albeit, I'm not a real writer.  But you get what I mean. My mind just seems to be a bit clouded at the moment so you'll have to work with me.

So rather than string together some cheesy link to the reason I'm sharing the best-ever waffles since Egg-o's, I'll just get right into the recipe.

My homemade waffle obsession all started with my purchase of the most wondrous contraption: the William Sonoma All-Clad Belgian Waffle Maker.  And no, this is not an ad.  I just love this thing so dang much that I want you all to know about it!  It's a bit of a splurge but most definitely an investment piece, one that you'll be using for the rest of your life to make waffley goodies for your loved ones.

Unfortunately, since I've never owned a waffle maker before this beaut, I didn't have many waffle recipes lying around the house [or of course, pinned].  But lucky for everyone at the breakfast table, the Williams Sonoma package also included an array of their very own waffle recipes.  And true to myself, I had to try out the yeasted waffles because well, what the haay are yeasted waffles?!

My first question [after that one] was what is the difference between yeasted waffles and plain ol' regular waffles?  And the only comparison I can think of [that writers block is really getting to me] is the difference between cake donuts and fried/yeast donuts.

So you see, cake donuts are typically much more dense in texture.  We'll compare those to a regular waffle batter.  On the flip side, raised/yeasted donuts [or doughnuts...toe-mato, ta-motto] tend to be much more lighty and fluffy.  Think...Krispy Kreme.

Now, I am by no means comparing this yeasted waffle recipe to Krispy Kreme [that would be mighty amazing though].  The point I'm trying to get across is that these yeasted waffles are lighter, fluffier, and tastier than your regular ol' batter.

And for those of you with rushed, chaotic mornings or needing last minute breakfast/brunch ideas for incoming visitors, this recipe is for you!  Here's why: the batter rests overnight, so you can easily whip together the ingredients the night before you need the waffles, wake up in the morning, and all you must do is put the batter in the pan.  Easy peasy, winner winner!

And one last rave about these waffles?  You can pair them with anything and everything you please!  Try fresh fruit, whipped cream, syrup, cinnamon and sugar, or if you really want to go all out you can drizzle on some chocolate or caramel sauce.  Nummyyyy!

So now that we are officially in the heart of Fall, what better way to start a morning than with a warm, comforting meal of waffles?  I can't think of anything better.

Happy baking [or waffle making]!  .

My Notes:
  • IMPORTANT TIP!  In order to keep your waffles as fresh as possible (i.e., not getting soggy), heat your oven to 200°F and place a baking sheet in the oven.  Once the waffles are done, place them on the pan and let sit in the oven until ready to serve.  This will keep your waffles crisp and warm.  Great tip, huh?!

From Williams Sonoma

1 package (2-1/2 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. warm water
1 c. milk
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 c. all purpose flour
2tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Fresh fruit, whipped cream, syrup, etc. (optional, for toppings)

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes). 
  2. In a saucepan over low heat, combine milk and butter and heat to lukewarm.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, and salt.  
  4. Stir in milk mixture to yeast mixture.  Add the dry ingredients and stir until blended.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.  
  5. When ready to use the next morning/day, heat waffle maker according to directions.  Stir the egg and baking soda into the chilled batter until combined.  
  6. Use batter with waffle maker according to directions.  Serve immediately.
Yield: 1 dozen waffles

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Musselman's GIVEAWAY & Autumn Apple Butter Dip

.  Hello, my lovelies!

It's been a while but the giveaways are back!  I don't know about you all, but I absolutely love these.  And not just because I get free baking stuff sent to me [it doesn't hurt]...but because I get to test of some quality products and let you in on the real deal.  And then, one of you lucky ladies/fellas get some free stuff, too!  It's a win-win for everyone.

You may remember that I've done an Apple Butter giveaway before but Musselman's is always coming up with creative ideas for their products.  So what do we got this time 'round...
Well in honor of my most absolute favorite season, Musselman's went completely Fall and sent me a package of: Apple Butter, four completely Fall recipes with a twist [including Spiced Apple Cake with Orange Glaze, Overnight Oatmeal, and Party Swedish Meatballs], and four decorative mini loaf containers for gifts.

Now even though the above three recipes all sound scrumptious [uh hello, swedish meatballs are perfect for football game days!] but I just couldn't pass up the Autumn Apple Butter Dip because 1) two ingredients?  C'mon.  And 2) who doesn't love snackin' on dips while watching a gamut of Sunday football games?  Hands raised high.  I know.

So the dip it was.  A couple of 'cups', a few swirls, and into the serving platter this very Fall-esque, hint-of-pumpkin dip went.  Served with a platter of Gingersnaps and we've got ourselves a lovely snack.

So what do YOU have to do to get in on this apple butter action?  Well, easy.

Musselman's recently revamped their Apple Butter e-Recipe Book that you must check out!  And when you do, simply leave a comment below on this post telling me which of the de-lish Apple Butter recipes from Musselman's e-Recipe Book that you'd like to try [or already have].  Then, whomever is the lucky winner, will receive the same giveaway package I received, complete with a large jar of Apple Butter to make your favorite recipe!  Again, win-win all around here, folks.

So get browsing and leave a lovely comment.  You have until October 26, 2013, to enter so there's no time to waste.

Happy baking!

P.S. head on over to the Musselman's website to view the Autumn Apple Butter Dip recipe featured here, it's worth the click!  .

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