Category Archives: Pizza

Bacon-Cheeseburger Mini Stuffed-Meatball Pizza with Garlic-Parmesan Sausage-Stuffed Crust

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Growing up, I don’t recall having meatballs much. We had meatloaf and plenty of other ground beef entrees, but the closest we came to meatballs was the rare occasion my dad made “stuffing balls”–ground beef wrapped around prepared Stovetop stuffing. (It’s actually one of those meals I think back on fondly, mouth watering. That, and rouladen, which we had exactly once, but there was something about that pickle wrapped in beef that was so memorable, I can’t help it. This may explain my fascination with inside-out burgers…)

So back to the present… It’s no secret: I love to cook. I love to bake. I love to share my cooking and baking. (I also really love bacon–more on that in a minute.) Last fall, with the help of my husband, I discovered Johnsonville Sausage‘s Italian Sausage Pizza Possibilities contest, and since I also love pizza, I decided to enter. I ended up winning with my Mini-Stuffed Meatball Pizza with Garlic-Parmesan Sausage-Stuffed Crust. Why, yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but so delicious! 

But never one to settle and declare a dish done and always searching for ways to incorporate more bacon into my cooking, I’d been dreaming of a bacon cheeseburger version about 5 minutes after the first Mini-stuffed Meatb… came out of the oven.

And so, here it is, in all its bacon-y, cheesy, sausage-y, hyphenated (and mushroomy, because mushrooms are good, too) goodness. It may look like a lot of work, but I guarantee the efforts are worth the end product. After all, love comes with a price, and dreams don’t come true sitting still. If you’re going to dream, you might as well go big. With mini meatballs. 🙂 

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Bacon-Cheeseburger Mini Stuffed-Meatball Pizza with Garlic-Parmesan Sausage-Stuffed Crust

Dough  (you may also substitute your favorite premade pizza dough)

  • 1 cup very warm water
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2-1/4 tsp.)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage links
  • 2 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 36 pieces (should measure about one-quarter inch by one-quarter by one-half inch blocks)
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2/3 cup pizza sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. cold butter
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Stir yeast into water in large bowl.  Add sugar, 2 Tbsp. oil, salt, and flour and stir until dough forms.  Turn dough onto lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes (add flour as necessary to keep from sticking).  Place in large bowl brushed with olive oil, turning to cover all sides of dough.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let rise in warm place until double, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Remove sausages from casings; set one link aside.  Divide remaining three links into 10-12 pieces each.  Wrap a chunk of cheddar with one piece of sausage and roll in hand to form small meatball. Repeat with remaining cheese and sausage.

Heat remaining Tbsp. of oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high. Cook remaining sausage link until browned, breaking apart into small pieces, about 5 minutes.  Remove sausage to bowl; set aside.

Reduce heat to medium, and add bacon to skillet.  Cook until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add onions and mushrooms; cook until browned and tender, about 5 more minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Remove from heat.

Shape pizza dough into large circle about 1 inch wider than large pizza pan or pizza stone.  Sprinkle cooked sausage and ½ cup shredded mozzarella about 1 inch from edge of dough; fold dough over cheese and sausage and press to seal.  Bake in oven for 5 minutes.

Spread pizza sauce over crust.  Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.  Top with bacon and onion mixture.  Evenly distribute meatballs on pizza.  Bake for 17-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and meatballs are cooked through.  Remove from oven; immediately rub butter over crust and sprinkle crust with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese, sprinkling any extra Parmesan cheese over pizza.  Let sit for 5 minutes, slice, and serve.

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Potluck Pizza

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Here’s the situation: it’s a Friday afternoon. It’s hot. Gray clouds are rolling in and a quick peek at weather.com shows a big blob of red heading in your general direction, accompanied by a severe thunderstorm warning bearing words like “winds in excess of 80 miles per hour” and “heavy rain” and “stay away from windows!”. You’ve seen it before, right? You’ve probably also gone in the basement just to be safe, and you’ve probably experienced a power outage during the brunt of the storm. But what do you do when the power goes out for a total of 47 hours?

It was a fun weekend! Who knew I could camp in my own house? We had running water–hot running water (here’s to gas water heaters!) and flush toilets. I had my own bed. We started a 1000-piece puzzle and played games. We read books and took naps. We had plenty of kindling to start a fire in our new fire pit. We had a grill with propane and charcoal. We had a fridge and freezer full of food. 

Oh, yeah. We had a fridge and freezer full of food. Stocked for the month. Hmmm… So maybe my meal planning and grocery shopping for the month wasn’t such a good thing this time. 🙂 No, we didn’t lose all of the food (thankfully). Not everywhere in the Columbus area was hit so hard by the storm, and the empty fridge at church meant that my food had a safe place to live for a couple of days. And I happen to be married to one of the guys who has a key. Awesome.

But we didn’t ship all the food over to church right away. We were waiting and hoping the power would go on, and we hadn’t opened the chest freezer yet, buying some time. But Saturday evening came with no glimmer of light or flicker of hope, and since we had leftovers and odds & ends not worthy of a road trip (did I mention traffic lights were also out, so it took my husband twice as long to get to church and back?), I did what anyone would do: I made grilled pizza. No pepperoni? No problem. No Italian sausage? No big deal. Let’s call it Potluck Pizza. Nothing was ruled out. Mushrooms, onions, olives, tomato, spinach, fajita chicken & green peppers, mild banana peppers, summer sausage, pepper jack, cheddar, mozzarella, pizza sauce, and BBQ sauce in various combos — all good. 

Going without power for any real length of time isn’t really fun and games. Sure, it’s an adventure, but I’m so thankful our power has been restored. I can do laundry. I can make my own coffee. I can sit comfortably in the cool of the air-conditioned house and work on that puzzle as the temps outside soar above 90. I can prepare all those meals I planned for, making leftovers worthy of the next round of Potluck Pizza — even with the power on. 🙂

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Potluck Pizza

A power outage is not required for this recipe. This makes at least 3 medium-size pizzas.

  • 2 packs (2 ¼ tsp. each) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water 
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for flouring counter
  • whatever toppings you find in your fridge*
  1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over water and stir until dissolved.  Add remaining ingredients and mix by hand (wooden spoon works well).  Knead for 5 minutes.  Place dough in greased bowl (I often simply spray the large bowl I mixed in, making sure the bowl is pretty scraped of all dough).  Let rise for 20 to 30 minutes (this can be optional — the dough just isn’t as pliable and won’t be as thick if you don’t let it rise; I usually get all my toppings together during this time, and by the time I’m done, the dough has risen a bit).  
  2. Meanwhile, line three cookie sheets (or pizza peels or large plates or anything flat that will hold a crust) with foil. Spread liberally with cornmeal or flour. Preheat grill (gas or charcoal — your choice) to medium direct heat. Prepare pizza toppings and place near grill for easy access to top the crusts.
  3. When dough is done resting, divide dough into three (or four or however many you want — sometimes smaller is better to manage on the grill), place on prepared cookie sheets and roll out or pat into 10-inch circle or rectangle –shape doesn’t matter too much, as long as they fit on your grill. Brush oil over top of crust (or spray with cooking spray). 
  4. To grill, use the foil to invert crust directly onto grill rack. Cover and grill for 3-4 minutes or until bubbles begin to form in crust and/or bottom is brown (carefully use large spatula to check). Remove crust from grill. Spread sauce on top of browned side and top as desired. Return to grill rack; cover and grill for an additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bottom of crust is browned. Remove from grill.  Cut and enjoy!
*To make fajita chicken, place 1 to 1-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast breasts in resealable plastic bag. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup oil, and 3 Tbsp. taco seasoning. Let sit for 30-60 minutes. Place in disposable aluminum roasting pan with one sliced onion and one sliced green pepper. Place pan over indirect medium heat and cook for 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in center, stirring occasionally. Let rest for 10 minutes; shred chicken using two forks, if desired.