Homemade Chicago “Stuffed” Pizza Your Guests Will Drool Over

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Here in Chicago, most of us don’t call it “deep dish pizza,” we call it “stuffed pizza.” Why? Who cares!?  It’s delicious!

What makes stuffed pizza so delicious and special to the hearts of us midwesterners is the unique buttery, flaky crust, gobs of mozzarella cheese and a thick, zesty sauce.  I grew up on it, and in my opinion it is the best stuff on the planet…besides ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s “Peanut Butter World,” to be exact).

Before you go and try to make this pizza with a regular pizza dough, do yourself a favor …don’t do it.  Stuffed pizza has a lighter, flakier crust due in part to the cornmeal and also in part by “laminating” the pizza dough with butter (I’ll explain later).

I have to be honest and admit that when I first tried making stuffed pizza, I bought pre-made regular pizza dough from Caputos.  Regular pizza dough bakes tougher and when it’s used for stuffed pizza, it makes for a hard time cutting each bite of your slice.  You end up scraping all the gooey cheese out of it to eat by itself.  And then you either eat the crust separate, or you end up tossing the entire crust.  While it tasted pretty good with the regular dough, nothing tops actual stuffed pizza crust!!  So, I highly, HIGHLY, recommend using this recipe.

All of the “oohs” and “aahs” that I’ve gotten from this pizza is enough to make it a staple comfort food in our house.   My sister even said it was probably the best stuffed pizza she’s ever had.  Did you hear that, Giordano’s??  In yo’ face!  (Just kidding – I love you.)

TIP:  You will first want to read these instructions all the way through, at least a day ahead, so you can make time for preparation and purchase the correct ingredients. 

YOU WILL NEED:  either 2 cast iron skillets (10″ or 12″), or 2 springform pans.  I prefer cast iron all the way!  I must warn you though, it is hard to cut the cooked pizza in a cast iron skillet since you can’t take it out of the pan.  A springform pan easily comes off and you can cut it easily.  You don’t want to use a rolling pizza cutter because it will crush the crust and not look pretty.

NOTE:  This is a very LONG recipe, but simple enough.  Hang in there with me. You will be glad you did because this is what you will get (yours won’t be as yellow as the one in my photo – I tried using a filter and failed miserably):

CHICAGO STUFFED PIZZA

INGREDIENTS:
Crust (makes 2)

  • 3 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 & 1/4 tsps salt
  • 1 Tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 standard packet of yeast (not instant)
  • 1 & 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided (1/4 cup melted, 1/4 cup softened or room temp)
  • olive oil for coating

Sauce:

  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, grated (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1-2 drops oregano essential oil)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano (THE BEST), if possible)
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp granulated sugar

Toppings:

  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (buy a block and shred it yourself, rather than buying pre-shredded – you will thank me!)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Topping Options:  approx. 20 pepperoni slices, 4 slices cooked/crumbled bacon (2 per pizza), cooked and crumbled mild Italian sausage, thinly sliced green peppers and/or onions, sliced mushrooms.

Crust Directions:

Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, or food processor with dough attachment.

If you do not have any mixer, you will have to do it by hand.  Use a large bowl. Give the ingredients a quick toss with your mixer on low or with a large wooden spoon.

Add the warm water and 1/4 cup of melted butter.  The water should be warm – not hot, or it will kill the yeast.  Also, make sure the butter isn’t super hot.

On low speed, mix the ingredients until everything is moistened.  Continuing on low speed (or remove from the bowl and knead by hand on a dough mat), mix the dough until it is soft and pulls away from the sides of the bowl and falls off of the dough hook (about 4-5 mins).  If the dough is too hard, mix in a teaspoon of warm water.  On the other hand, it feels too soft, mix in a Tablespoon of flour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball.  Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside, turning it around so that all sides of the dough are coated in oil.  Cover the bowl tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rise in a warm environment for 1-2 hours or until double in size.

TIP:  If your house isn’t warm, preheat your oven to 250F degrees.  Once it’s 250F degrees, turn it off.  Place the bowl of dough inside and close the door.  The heat will help your dough rise quickly like magic!

When the dough is ready, lightly flour a large work surface.  Remove dough from the bowl, set the bowl and aluminum foil aside to use later.  “Punch down” the dough to remove any air bubbles and roll the dough into a large 15×12″ rectangle.

Slather 1/4 cup of softened butter on top of the dough, covering every inch.  This is the “laminating” part.

Roll the dough up lengthwise like a roll-cake or Litttle Debbie “ho-ho”.  Cut the dough log in half.  Form the two pieces of dough into balls and put them back into your greased bowl.  Cover again with aluminum foil and allow it to rise in the fridge this time for 1 hour until the dough balls are fluffy.  Make the sauce during this time.

Sauce Directions:

Place butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat to melt.  Add grated onion, salt, oregano and red pepper flakes.

Once the onion has browned a bit, after about 5 minutes, add garlic, tomatoes, and sugar.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and allow to simmer until it’s hearty, fragrant, and thick – about 30 mins.  If it isn’t think, keep cooking until the moisture reduces a bit.  Remove from heat and set aside until ready to be used.  (You can store the sauce in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 days, or freeze up to 2 months.)

Preheat oven to 425F degrees.

Assembling the pizzas:

After the dough balls have risen and are fluffy, take out only one ball to start.  Roll it out on a lightly floured work surface, working it into a 13-inch circle (if your pan is 12″) to about 1/4″ thickness.

Pick up the circle of dough and place over your skillet or springform pan so that the dough is hanging slightly off the sides.

Using your fingers, gently press the dough down a little, leaving some dough hanging off the sides – try not to tear it.  Then add your cheese – 2 cups of cheese per pizza. Next add your meat/veggie toppings – except your pepperoni – you will use that towards the last step.

Then, use a knife to cut off the extra dough hanging off the sides of the pan and save. We will use it to make the top layer – just like the famous Giordano’s stuffed pizza. It’s their secret step, and what I believe makes their pizzas so awesome. (Giordano’s seals up the pie with a super thin layer of dough before topping it off with the sauce and parmesan.)

Roll a bit of that extra dough into a circle as thin as possible.  Place it over your filled-up pizza, and pinch it together with the dough on the sides to seal the pie.

Place pepperoni on top of this dough layer, then top your pie with half of the sauce. Finish by topping it off with half of the grated parmesan cheese.  Add more, if desired.

Here is a photo before it went into the oven:

Repeat steps with the 2nd dough ball in a 2nd pan.

If using springform pans, place them on top of a large baking sheet, which will catch anything that might spill over.  Bake for 20-28 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Remove the pizzas from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

YUM!!:

Place any leftover pizza in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days (yeah right, as if there will be any leftovers!!!)

Reheat leftovers in a 300F oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot.   Enjoy!!!

Pleeeeeease tell me if you made this pizza, and if you have any suggestions or comments!

Blessings

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DIY Facial Serum

clean, cleanliving, diy, do-it-yourself, empowerment, essential oils, gifts, gluten-free, health, holistic, homeopath, homeopathic, natural living, organic, pure, recipe, wellness

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Facial serums are an important part of a skin-care regimen, just as much as a good cleanser and moisturizer.  Serum will provide nourishment and soothing to your skin.

If you have acne-prone skin, you would benefit from a light, astringent serum to keep your face moisturized and nourished without clogging pores.  And you will also want to use as a toner, either Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, or organic witchhazel – or both combined (witchhazel-based toner is the best for your skin, as it will not dry it out like an alcohol-based toner would). Toner is always a must in any skin care regimen because it firms, tightens and tones the skin.

If you are 25 or older, I would highly recommend using an anti-aging facial serum.  It’s never too early to start nourishing your skin.  As skin ages, it loses its elasticity and starts to sag.  Without proper moisture and nourishment, you may end up looking like an American bulldog by the time you are 60.  Sorry, it’s truth – and the truth hurts sometimes…

Let’s get started!


FIRST, choose your carrier oil – which is your main ingredient.  It’s also known as a base oil.  Below are a list of very light base oils that will not leave your skin sticky or greasy.  I would try to always get organic or cold-pressed:

Argan oil (for dry, aging, oily, normal, or acne-prone skin)
Jojoba oil (for dry, aging, oily, normal, or acne-prone skin)
Apricot kernel oil (for any skin type, but especially dry, aging skin)
Sweet almond oil (thicker, and takes longer to sink in, but nourishing)
Grapeseed oil (for normal, oily, or acne-prone skin)
Avocado oil (for dry and aging skin)
Hemp seed oil (for any skin type, also very light)
Calendula oil (extremely healing to irritated, sensitive skin)

My favorite base oils are jojoba oil or sweet almond oil.  They are very lightweight and do not clog pores.


SECOND, you will choose an extra oil, for added nourishment (optional, but very beneficial).  Here are some extra oils:

Tamanu oil (good for acne-prone or oily skin, or skin with scars)
Sea buckthorn oil (for all skin types, but especially aging or dry skin)
Rosehip seed oil (regenerating, firming, anti-aging)
Carrot seed oil (super nourishing! – you only need a miniscule amount
Borage oil (high in oleic acids – for most skin types, especially oily & acne-prone skin)
Evening primrose oil (acne, aging, normal skin)
Neem oil (antimicrobial and healing – for acne and oily skin)
Emu oil (emollient, protective and nourishing – for dry or aging skin)


THIRD, choose your favorite essential oils that work best according to your specific skin care needs.  You will only need a few small drops of essential oil as they are super potent.  (See note in red below)

Here are the most-used essential oils in skin care:

Lavender (oily or dry skin)
Peppermint (oily or dry skin)
Chamomile (soothing for sensitive skin)
Rose (for aging, dry and normal skin) (Unless you are the CEO of Microsoft, you may not be able to afford this oil!  My company finally sells it, and it’s pre-diluted so it’s cheaper!  Hallelujah!)
Geranium (for dry, sensitive, aging, and normal skin)
Lemongrass (brightens/tones – for normal or oily skin)
Rosemary (moisturizes oily skin)

FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oils I use give full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade, and extremely potent.  If you would like to use this brand, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

**[PLEASE NOTE:  According to the compliance rules of the FDA, I am unable to disclose my favorite oil company’s name in the body of this blog, but you can comment below with your email address, and I’ll send you the link, along with some great educational materials on essential oils.]


LAST, take the dropper top off of a 1-oz glass bottle and:

1.  Fill your bottle just under 2/3 of the way with your base oil.

2.  Add “extra” oil until the bottle is just about full (If you are using carrot seed oil, only use a few drops)

3.  Add 5-7 drops of essential oil.  (Less if you’re using peppermint!! – and make sure to keep away from eyes).  Put the cap on your bottle and shake well.  You should be able to smell the oils, but it should not be overwhelming.

Apply 2-3 drops to face and neck after cleansing, and before your moisturizer.  If you use toner, use it after the toner.  You will not need a moisturizer after applying the serum – it should give you enough moisture on its own.  Keep your serum out of the sunlight (use a dark colored class bottle, such as amber or cobalt blue).  Give it a little shake each time before you apply the serum, to make sure the oils are well combined.  It should be good for up to 12 months.

This recipe may need tweaking, to accommodate your skin care needs.  We all have different skin types, and an oil that is good for one may not be good for another.  I would suggest by making only a small amount at first.  If it ends up not working for your face, you can always rub it on your body to moisturize before bed, or add it to your whipped body butter (see my recipe HERE).  The mixture will still benefit your skin, and does not need to go to waste.

To learn more about essential oils, or the brand I use, comment below.  I’m happy to help point you in the right direction.

Blessings

Homemade Toothpaste with Coconut Oil

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Have you ever looked at the ingredients in your store bought toothpaste?

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Yeah, I didn’t either until I started caring more about what I put in and on my body.   The ingredients listed below that I am most concerned about are the sodium laurel sulfate, carrageenan, “flavor,” and sodium hydroxide. According to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002487.htm, sodium hydroxide is found in many industrial solvents and cleaners, including flooring stripping products, brick cleaners, cements, and may also be found in certain household products, including:  aquarium products, drain cleaners, hair straighteners, metal polishes and oven cleaners, etc.  Sooooo, why is it in our toothpaste?!

So, over the weekend, I ran out of toothpaste.  I need to save money, so I figured I’d make my own toothpaste.  I found a recipe on Pinterest and tweaked it a little bit to my liking.

You simply mix all of these ingredients in a bowl, scoop it into your container, and you’re done!  Tada!  My, my, that is some tasty-looking frosting toothpaste.  It is about the same consistency as store-bought toothpaste.

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Peppermint Toothpaste

1/4 cup + 2 TB coconut oil, softened
1/4 cup aluminum-free baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp bentonite clay (I used liquid bentonite)
½ tsp liquid pure stevia
10-15 drops peppermint essential (see note in red below)
5 drops thyme essential oil
5 drops of myrhh essential oil

In a medium bowl, combine the coconut oil and baking soda.  Mix thoroughly.  Add in the remaining ingredients and mix.  Store in a jar or a squeezable bottle.  (Note: When mixing bentonite clay, please use a wood or plastic spoon.  Bentonite clay should not come in contact with metal because it deactivates the clay’s detoxifying properties.  Bentonite clay isn’t necessary for this recipe, it is an added benefit).

So, how simple is that?!

UPDATE:  Since I started using this toothpaste, my mouth and teeth feel cleaner, my teeth look whiter, and my lips aren’t so dried out.  Usually, I apply chapstick as much as 20 times a day!  But, I feel that the coconut oil provides the needed moisture.  I am loving this toothpaste – my husband even loves it!

FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oils I use give full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade, and extremely potent.  If you would like to use this brand, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

**[PLEASE NOTE:  According to the compliance rules of the FDA, I am unable to disclose my favorite oil company’s name in the body of this blog, but you can comment below with your email address, and I’ll send you the link, along with some great educational materials on essential oils.]