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How on earth have I never made a deep dish pizza before this week?

What is wrong with me?

It is so super duper easy.

Start by preheating your oven to 475.

I’m sure that this isn’t an original idea, but I felt like a genius when I thought to use a spring form pan.

So, I used this recipe to make the pizza crust. After it was done rising, I used my fingers to spread it into a non-stick sprayed pan.

I popped that into the oven for about 8 minutes to just precook the crust a bit. I like a crispy, slightly browned crust. If you don’t care about a crispier crust, you can totally skip that step.

Once slightly cooked, I put a teeny bit of sauce on the bottom of the crust, and then layered on the cheese.

You know that cheese goes on the bottom of a deep dish pizza, right?

Spicy italian sausage- all cooked up

Then some pepperoni

And some slightly sauteed spinach (mostly to get some of the moisture out)

Some sauteed shallots and banana peppers

Sauteed crimini mushrooms

And green olives on my half only

Sauce on top

And a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, a dash of Italian seasoning and some garlic powder

Baked at 475 for about 25 minutes.

Bubbly and piping hot.

Let it cool for a few minutes.

Then, BLAM-O.

Remove your spring form pan for a perfect deep this pizza.

I’m so impressed with myself!

Slice out a hunk for you and one for someone special in your life.

Apologize profusely for the strange color of this pizza… I don’t know how to take pictures of red things at night.

Sorry.

Serve it up with a green salad.

Perfect.

And the best part… this recipe is totally customizable by you!!!

You can make it anyway you want. Add in or leave out any ingredient that doesn’t suit your fancy.

I kind of want to try a deep dish pizza that is filled with only cheese. Like 5 different kinds of melty cheese. Doesn’t that sound amazing?

Happy Hump Day!

XO,

Leah

OK, peeps.

Hang with me here.

I’m about to blow your mind with this pizza.

Even if you are a non-adventurous meat-eatin’ man (I’m talkin’ to you Uncle Doug), I  guarantee you will like this pizza.

And if you don’t, then I’ll tell you that you’re crazy.

I drool over the gorgeous food pictures on FoodGawker nearly every day.

You’ll never see my food on there because I have no clue what I’m doing with a camera. Food and flavor are my focus. Not so much the pics.

But the FoodGawker food is absolutely irresistible, and I seriously want to try a handful of recipes every dang day.

So yesterday, I saw a picture of this pizza and I knew I had to try it.

It was fate because I had all of the ingredients on hand.

This recipe is courtesy of Chris over at The Café Sucré Farine.

It made my eyes pop wide open when I took the first bite.

Drool worthy.

So, this is a pizza that is topped with bacon, chicken, cheese, a balsamic/strawberry glaze, fresh strawberries and cilantro.

Sounds crazy, I know.

But. You. Will. Not. Regret. Making. This.

It has been a while since we have talked about my love affair with bacon. Do not fear.

My love has not waned.

I still love it more than ever.

However, I did try a new brand of Applewood Smoked Bacon from Whole Foods. This bacon is made from non-industrial farmed pigs. So, before these pigs gave their life for us (I know it’s morbid, but c’mon- it’s meat) they lived a happy life on a farm with room to roam. Then, they were killed humanely.

Again, I know that not everyone cares about the things I care about. And that is fine by me.

I’m just sharing my choices and experience.

So, don’t get all high on the hog (ha- get it? hog? bacon? har!) and whateverish with me.

Back to cooking.

Fry your bacon.

Then, drain off some of that fat on paper towels.

Then, eat approximately 4 pieces to make sure the flavor it acceptable.

Yes, it takes at least 4 slices before you can know for sure.

Now, lets make our glaze.

Get out some balsamic vinegar.

And add a quarter cup to a small sauce pan.

Boil that vinegar, then reduce the heat and simmer until the vinegar has reduced by half.

Reducing the vinegar causes some of the liquid to evaporate, and the liquid left in the pan gets a little thicker and syrupy. Yum.

Bust out some strawberry jam or preserves.

Or jelly.

I’m sure jelly would work fine.

Plop a 1/2 c. of the strawberry goodness into your balsamic reduction.

And now, a surprise ingredient.

Some Sriracha!

A little spicy spiciness.

If you don’t have Sriracha, I’m sure any hot sauce would suffice.

Add 1 teaspoon of the hotness to your sauce.

Stir it up until it is all combined.

Set that sauce aside until you need it again.

Now, lets cook some chicken.

If you are a good multi-tasker in the kitchen, you can cook the above sauce and your chicken at the same time.

To cook normal sized chicken breasts, place your pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the breasts fairly generously with salt and pepper.

Cook on each side for approximately 4 minutes.

So, back to my new commitment to responsible eating. If you have a Whole Foods near you, they have a mega pack of chicken breasts that are organic/free range/cold washed. If you buy the bulk package, the price is not that much more than the conventional chicken at other grocery stores.

Ok, lets get our pizza dough ready.

Preheat your oven to 450.

I made my own dough from the recipe on the back of the new Fleischmann’s Pizza Dough yeast packet.

Kroger used to carry these super thin pizza crusts, but they didn’t have them. Boo Kroger!

Trader Joes also carries an uncooked pizza dough for $1.29 that I really like. However, I wasn’t going to run out for one measly pizza dough.

So, I love this next idea. Again, I’m totally stealing this from Chris’s recipe.

She recommends using parchment paper to roll out your pizza dough.

Put down a little cornmeal.

And roll out your pizza dough.

The parchment makes the transfer to the pizza stone so dang easy. I can’t believe I have never done this before.

It made the whole process easier and cleaner.

Yay for parchment paper!

I like to season the dough a bit and cook it a bit before piling on the toppings.

I spread a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Place it on your pizza pan or stone and cook the crust for 4-5 minutes.

While that dough is par-cooking, chop either one large or 2 small chicken breasts.

Chop up 6 slices of bacon.

Chop up 1/4 of a large yellow onion.

Top your chicken with a tablespoon or 2 of the balsamic strawberry glaze.

And use your hands to mix the sauce into the chicken.

Pop a piece into your mouth.

Savor the goodness.

Practice restraint by not downing the chicken before it ever makes it onto the pizza.

Pull your dough out of the oven.

Spread the remaining glaze around the crust.

Spread a cup of shredded Italian cheese across the pizza.

I normally don’t like or use the pre-shredded stuff but I was aiming for ease!

Pile on your chicken, bacon, and onions.

Finish it off with another cup of the shredded cheese. Throw that bad boy into the oven until the cheese is all ooey-gooey-melty.

About 7-8 minutes.

It comes out looking like this.

I could have eaten it just like this.

It smelled so heavenly.

But I wanted the full delightful experience.

So, I sliced up some strawberries and threw them on top. DO NOT skip this step. I promise. It is so so freaking good.

Then, I chopped some green onion and tossed that on top.

The actual recipe calls for cilantro (not green onion), and I was quite sad to discover that I had no cilantro. It would have been perfection.

But the green onion was a perfectly delicious substitute.

I served the pizza with Ina Garten’s Lemon Fusilli with Arugula. So good!

For Ina’s recipe, I used half of the amount of cream and lemon and pasta. And I used double the amount of vegetables.

I’m not big on a super pasta-y pasta salad. Does that make any sense whatsoever?

Anyhow, it was a perfect meal on a perfect Ohio evening enjoyed on the patio.

We ate while Henry soaked in the fresh air in his bouncy seat.

The two ding dongs ran around arguing over the same stick.

A pretty perfect meal, and a pretty perfect evening.

Life is good,

Leah

P.S. Want to see the coolest, most darling gift I received yesterday? My friend, Jess, oozes creativity. And she made this for Henry’s room. I died. It is perfection, and it will be so perfect for his nursery. Thanks Jess!

Sorry, it is an iPhone pic- I’ll share a better pic when it makes it onto the wall.

Can I just tell you?

I love pizza. I love the greasy, cheesy, salty deliciousness. However, when I make pizza at home I do try to lower the calorie count, and I like to add in a serving of vegetables or two. It makes me feel better about myself.

However, I will not sacrifice flavor.

And with this recipe I believe I have obtained the keys to flavor town.

And it all starts here:

Garlic.

Oh, garlic. How I love thee.

I love thee so much that some days I walk around smelling like a giant meatball from cooking with garlic the night before. Gross, I know. But so worth it.

Raw garlic is potent and very strong in flavor.

BUT. ROASTED GARLIC. Roasted garlic will change your life. I’m not even kidding.

You need it for this pizza (only 3-4 cloves), but I strongly suggest you do a couple of heads because you can put it on AN-Y-THING (think crusty bread, vegetables, on a sandwich).

Preheat your oven to 350. I just used my toaster oven because it is still too hot to have the whole giant oven on for 45 minutes.

Chop the top off of the whole head of garlic.

Put each head on their own little foil pan. Edges folded up so garlic juice doesn’t drip and burn all over the bottom of your oven thus stinking up your entire house.

Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle on a little salt.

Now, into the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

The garlic should be lightly browned and softened.

Oh. My. Garlic.

Yes.

Yes.

Forever Yes.

Ok, set that aside and lets start our pizza. Oven at 400 degrees.

Throw some cornmeal on the counter.

Roll out your pizza dough. I’m not insane, so I buy my pizza dough. Trader Joes has a good version for $.99. That seems WAY easier than making my own.

I like lots ‘o cornmeal on both sides. However, if you don’t groove on the cornmeal, you do need some at least on the side that goes on the pan. Well, I guess you only need it if you desire to get your cooked pizza off of the pan.

I use the Pampered Chef pizza stone because it keeps the pizza hot forever after it comes out of the oven.

Put your crust on the stone or on your pan (or if you are feeling crazy, on the grill!). Drizzle on some olive oil and spread it around.

This step is critical for delicious crust. I highly encourage you to generously cover the whole crust.

Sprinkle on salt (go lighter here), pepper, red pepper flake, and some parmesan cheese.

I find a crispy crust a necessity for a good pizza. So, I throw this in the oven for 10 minutes or so. After a minute or two it starts to smell really good, and I start to get a little drooley.

Now, for our veggie topping. I would like to state that for this pizza I opened the fridge and just pulled out what looked good to me that night (and what needed to be used before it went bad).

In a skillet, toss in a little extra virgin olive oil. I cooked up one half of a HUGE zucchini and one portobello mushroom.

After they were browned up a bit (and some of their moisture released), I threw in a few handfuls of chopped fresh spinach.

Let it cook down a bit. Put a little salt on the veggies. And turn off the heat.

So, about now, we should pull out the crust.

I would like to note that my main man never eats the pizza crust. However, he told me after this pizza that the crust made his life.

Ok, he didn’t use that exact phrase, but you get the idea.

Now, guess what time it is?

Lets take a few cloves of this roasted garlic deliciousness and spread them right on the crust.

I could eat the crust plain. Just like this. Forever and ever.

For the sake of the recipe, however, I will not.

Now pile on your cooked veggies.

I will warn you that the zucchini is pretty earthy. If you don’t like zucchini, I wouldn’t put it on the pizza. I happen to rather love it, so for me it works.

Obviously, put whatever YOU love on the pizza. This is simply what I love. This recipe can be whatever you want it to be. Don’t let the recipe be The Man, and don’t let The Man hold you down.

So, on top of the cooked veggies I added chopped green olives (LOVE), 1/2 chopped green pepper, 2 very small chopped white onions, and a ripe chopped (and de-seeded) summer tomato.

Ok, so roasted garlic was Key to Delicious Pizza tip #1.

Here is Key to Delicious Pizza tip #2: Fontina Cheese.

You know I love cheese. And fontina is perfect on a veggie pizza. I used a mild one from Trader Joes. Fontina can be a stinkier cheese, but I highly recommend you seek out a milder version. It may just change your life. If you can’t find it, you can use mozzarella. I guess.

Now, into the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is ooey gooey.

Ok, I have to go.

I must eat this. Now.

Sweet Mother of Pearl.

Happy eating,

Leah

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