Best Ever Homemade Pizza

This homemade pizza dough bakes up golden brown, soft, and chewy, and is the perfect base for your favorite pizza toppings!

Best Ever Homemade Pizza | thepajamachef.com

I used to think homemade pizza was lame. When I made it, it just never seemed as good as delivery or pizza shop pizza. Even though I shared recipes for pizza here on my blog I kinda thought homemade pizza was a frugal substitute for the real deal. But then I had GOOD homemade pizza, made by several different friends, and realized I was just doing it wrong. C’est la vie, right?

Best Ever Homemade Pizza | thepajamachef.com

That’s what prompted me to do something about it and put “homemade pizza dough” on my 30 before 30 list. I was determined to find the BEST homemade pizza dough. I tried several recipes… and you guys… I think this it it! [And not because of those delicious brown cheese bubbles there. :)]

Best Ever Homemade Pizza | thepajamachef.com

This dough is chewy, flavorful, and the perfect palate for any pizza topping. I haven’t added any seasoning to the dough because I don’t think it needs it, but feel free to doctor it up if it’s your thing… especially if that helps your pizza toppings succeed. Prefer something traditional? Great. Perfect a taco pizza? Awesome. Anything goes–really! This is dough bakes into a beautiful golden brown crust reminiscent of Pizza Hut pan pizza–not too thick or too thin, just right.

Best Ever Homemade Pizza | thepajamachef.com

Though this recipe is yeast based, it’s really easy. Seriously–it’s hard to mess up since it just has one rise. The dough is so soft and smooth after it rises that you can easily press or roll  it into the pizza pan. Some doughs are sticky–this isn’t one of them! Definitely try it and see what you think. I’m going to use it for calzones next! YUM!

Best Ever Homemade Pizza4

P.S. I did some work on my blog this week–what do you think? Let me know if anything looks funky and I’ll check it out. Thanks!

one year ago: Mango Quick Cake Squares
two years ago: Cookie Dough Dip
three years ago: Rhubarb Muffins

Best Ever Homemade Pizza

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1hr 30mins
  • Print

from Creative Savings
Ingredients:

for pizza dough

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 package [2 1/4 teaspoons] active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

for rest of pizza

  • cornmeal for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce – I like this recipe from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures and usually add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • toppings as desired – pepperoni, diced peppers, sliced mushrooms, spinach, chopped tomatoes, etc.

Directions:

In a large bowl [I usually use my stand mixer but you don't have to], whisk together warm water and yeast to dissolve. I heat the water about 15-20 seconds in the microwave so it feels like bathwater–too hot will kill the yeast. Then add warm milk, olive oil, salt, and sugar. Whisk or blend on low to combine. Add in 2 cups flour and stir or blend to incorporate. Gradually add in another cup to 1 1/4 cups of flour in 1/4 cup increments to form a soft dough.

Knead [either in mixer or on a clean, flour-dusted surface] for 6-8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Grease a large bowl and place pizza dough in it, turning once to coat. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

Partway through the dough rising process, preheat oven to 400 degrees so it’s nice and hot when it’s time to bake.

When dough is ready, punch down and press or roll onto a pizza pan that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Top with sauce, cheese, and desired toppings. Bake for 18-20 minutes, broiling the last minute or so to brown the cheese. Let cool for 5-8 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

We even made a his and hers version of this pizza this weekend… SO GOOD! Make it now! Please. :)

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Lightened Up Cheesy Sausage Grits Breakfast Casserole

Since moving South, Ben and I have been exposed to many new things. From language [y'all] to restaurants [meat and threes] to just a slower pace [though Nashville isn't quite as sloooow as other places in the South], life here is different. We love it here, but have become pretty proud of our Northern roots. Case in point: my birthday is coming up next month and I am begging Ben to get me a super sweet Indiana-shaped pendant necklace from an etsy shop. Gotta support Indiana from afar!! Though there are some areas/stereotypes of Southern culture that we don’t embrace, there is one MAJOR one that we do: the food! And what is more Southern than grits?

Lightened Up Sausage Cheese Grits Breakfast Casserole | thepajamachef.com

I actually [willingly] ate grits before moving to Nashville, but they are all over the place here, but these… oh my… THESE are the best I’ve ever had! It’s probably because they were made in the South. :) I don’t think it was the cheese that helped, do you?

Lightened Up Cheesy Sausage Grits Breakfast Casserole | thepajamachef.com

This breakfast casserole is a fun alternative to the traditional potato-based breakfast casserole. The leftovers fed us breakfast [and lunch and dinner] for days, which is absolutely wonderful for busy weekday mornings. Though it seems pretty funny to call this recipe “lightened up” because it’s so indulgent, it is light compared to many recipes.

Lightened Up Cheesy Sausage Grits Breakfast Casserole | thepajamachef.com

Serve this casserole with fruit, potatoes, toast, or any other traditional breakfast sides and I can guarantee you this meal will be absolutely devoured, day after day! It is so good. Enjoy!

one year ago: Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd Filling and Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
two years ago: Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken
three years ago: Sweet and Spicy Peanut Soup

Lightened Up Cheesy Sausage Grits Breakfast Casserole [adapted from South Your Mouth]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups quick-cooking grits
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage [regular or turkey]
  • 6 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 5 egg whites, beaten
  • 3 eggs, beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring water and chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in grits and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Brown sausage in a large skillet, breaking apart with a wooden spoon to crumble. Drain well and set aside.

Add cheese, milk, butter, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne to the grits. Stir until the cheese melts, then stir in sausage and eggs/egg whites.

Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Time: 90 minutes [20 minutes active].

Yield: 16 servings.

Notes: 6 whole eggs can be used instead of the 5 egg whites/3 egg combo that I chose. To make ahead, prepare casserole as directed then cover and refrigerate overnight. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking as directed above.

Linked up with: Tuesday Talent Show.

Mystery Dish: Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas

This month for Mystery Dish, Christine from I Dig Pinterest and I Did it Too was the head honcho. She gave us the following ingredients to work with: fresh mushrooms, pork, spinach, cream cheese, pineapple, butterscotch chips, macadamia nuts, Sriracha, Ritz crackers, and tortillas. When I first saw the list, I had dreams of a fabulous dessert. But things just didn’t work out due to family and work things… so dinner it was! But shhhh! Don’t tell these enchiladas they were a second choice because they’d be oh so sad. They were SO tasty and SO spicy and SO worth it.

Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas | thepajamachef.com

The two ingredients I used from Christine’s list were spinach and tortillas. I thought about also using Sriracha in the spicy enchilada sauce, but after a quick test taste, I realized there was no way I’d be able to handle the heat if I added that. :) So two ingredients it was! Obviously tortillas are an essential part of enchiladas–but spinach? Sounds a little weird. But I’m never one to shy away from adding veggies where they are unexpected. The combination of chicken, spinach, and corn made for a delightful enchilada filling, and when we had a little leftover, I saved it for quesadillas later in the week. Also an excellent choice for this filling! If a super spicy sauce isn’t your thing, feel free to buy some or try my [old old old] recipe for a classic enchilada sauce.

Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas | thepajamachef.com

We loved how flavorful, fast, and unique these enchiladas were, and I bet you will too! Be sure to check out some of the other creations made by my Mystery Dish pals. :)

one year ago: Italian Sausage and Red Rice
two years ago: Sausage, Apple, and Egg Casserole
three years ago: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 cup tomato juice or water
  • 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 6 ounces cooked chicken, shredded
  • 2 handful spinach, torn
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese [pepperjack or a Mexican blend would also be good]

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, combine tomato paste, tomato juice, onion, green pepper, garlic, chipotle peppers, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Process until smooth. Spread 1/3 of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.

In a bowl, stir together chicken, spinach, corn, and salsa. Divide mixture between the tortillas, then place seam side down in the baking dish. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and the cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Time: 45 minutes [15 minutes active].

Yield: 4 servings.

February Mystery Dish Collage
1. Grilled Pineapple with Nutella and Macadamia Nuts by Joyful Healthy Eats
2. Hummingbird Cake by Baking a Moment
3. Three-Cheese Spinach Squares by The Well Floured Kitchen
4. Easy Pesto Pita Bread Pizzas by Yummy Healthy Easy
5. Minty Pea Prosciutto Toast by Chez CateyLou
6. Pina Colada Cheesecake by Blahnik Baker
7. Chocolate Banana Cheesecake Chimichangas by Culinary Couture
8. Pork with Pineapple Fried Rice by I Want Crazy
9. Tropical Green Smoothie by The Dessert Chronicles
10. Spicy Chicken, Spinach and Corn Enchiladas by The Pajama Chef
11. Pineapple Drop Cookies by I Dig Pinterest

Sweet Potato Pork Quesadillas

Apparently February is National Sweet Potato Month! Who knew?! I know no better way to celebrate than with these awesome Sweet Potato Pork Quesadillas!

Sweet Potato Pork Quesadillas | thepajamachef.com

Please forgive my less than stellar photos. I am so over this winter weather, it’s really killing my photos! But anyway–these quesadillas are ridiculously good. Though they require a few extra steps than a usual quesadilla, since you have to cook the ground pork and saute some jalapenos, they are well worth it! These quesadillas are the perfect combination of sweet and spicy goodness. We’ve made them for dinner a couple times, but I can definitely see them as a wonderful party appetizer too. As you can see, I served them with quite a bit of sour cream and some sauteed jalapenos. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Sweet Potato Pork Quesadillas | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Chewy Peanut Butter Brownies
two years ago: Caramel S’more Cups
three years ago: Bacon-Wrapped Feta & Almond Stuffed Dates

Sweet Potato Pork Quesadillas [from Food Network Magazine]
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Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1/2 pound ground pork [chorizo would also be a great substitute]
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder [ancho chili powder or chipotle chili powder also works well--but scale back depending on your tolerance of spice]
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • butter or oil, for cooking
  • 4 burrito-size flour tortillas
  • 2 cups cheese [cheddar, jack, Mexican blend, etc.]
  • sour cream, for topping
  • sliced pickled jalapenos [or saute a few fresh jalapenos]

Directions:

Prick a medium sweet potato all over with a fork and microwave until soft, about 8-10 minutes. When sweet potato is cooked, let cool for a few minutes and then remove the skin. Gently mash sweet potato with a fork, then set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat and cook pork with chili powder, breaking up with a wooden spoon until browned. Add garlic, green onions, and cooked sweet potato to skillet and stir together. Cook for a minute or so, then remove to a bowl. Stir in cilantro.

Wipe out the skillet and add about 1 teaspoon of butter or oil to the skillet. After a minute or so, add tortilla to skillet. Evenly top tortilla with 1/2 cup cheese and 1/4 of the pork mixture. Reduce heat to low. After cheese is melted, fold the tortilla in half over the filling and cook until tortilla is golden brown. Remove from pan and cut into four wedges. Repeat to make an additional 3 quesadillas. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a few slices of jalapenos, if desired.

Time: 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 meal-size servings, 8 appetizer servings.

SRC: Chili Relleno Casserole

Finally! Time for another edition of the Secret Recipe Club! We took a break in January, but now we’re back and it feel sooo good. :) I just love being part of this club. It’s fun to get to try out new recipes and get to know new bloggers.

Secret Recipe Club

This month for SRC, I was assigned to Ilona’s Kitchen. Ilona shares tons of recipes on her blog every month that are family tested and approved. She loves to feed her family new recipes and old classics… a great combination, I think! She’s also loves to shop, bake, and go to the gym. A woman after my own heart!! Well, I run, but you get the idea. :) When perusing her blog, I found quite a few recipes I wanted to make: Blueberry Popovers, Chicken & Spinach Tortilla Bake, and Coconut Tea Cake. The last option sounds AWESOME! She just posted the recipe, otherwise that is definitely what I would have made. But alas, Chili Relleno Casserole it was. And it did not disappoint, even though it’s not the most photogenic recipe ever!

Chili Relleno Casserole | thepajamachef.com

Ilona has about three Chili Relleno recipes on her blog… some have been flops and others have been great. Ilona claimed this was the best of the three, and we found it to be pretty wonderful. It seriously tasted great! I’ve never had a real chili relleno, so I can’t testify to the authenticity [it is a casserole after all], but the flavors are phenomenal. It’s just a simple mix of ground beef and vegetables, topped with eggs, oregano, garlic, tomato sauce, and cheese. What’s not to like? Plus, it’s quick and easy to throw together–perfect for those busy weeknights. Ben actually made the whole dish and it was ready waiting for me one night after work. That must be why I like it so much. :) I have no doubt that we’ll be making this again soon! Thanks, Ilona, for introducing me to this great recipe! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes. :)

Chili Relleno Casserole | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Baked Jalapeno Popper-Ranch Dip
two years ago: Fried Eggs on Pesto-Parmesan Toast
three years ago: Mini Meatloaf

Chili Relleno Casserole [from Ilona's Kitchen]
click to print

Ingredients:

  •  1 pound ground beef
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cans [4 ounces each] chopped green chilies
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded mexican blend/taco cheese, divided
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a skillet, brown ground beef. Drain fat and then add green pepper. Cook until tender, then stir in oregano, garlic, and chopped green chiles. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.

Layer half of the meat and 1/2 cup cheese in prepared baking dish. Top with the rest of the meat and another 1/2 cup cheese. Pour egg mixture on top of everything,

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove and spread tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese on top and return to oven for 7 minutes.

Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting, then slice into squares to serve and enjoy.

Time: 40 minutes [10 minutes active].
Yield: 8 servings.

Be sure to check out other recipes from this week’s Secret Recipe Club reveal here: