Photos by Aimee Broussard

Aimee’s Pretty Palate: Pizza My Heart

Pizza, in my opinion, is a universal food love language when it comes to accommodating even the pickiest of eaters. Dough can be easily divided if you want to truly cater to personal preferences, and assorted toppings encourage participation from the entire family and keep mealtime fun and engaging.

My Sheet Pan Meatsa Pizza, probably known in your home as a Meatlover’s Pizza, is exactly that—three meat varieties throwing a party on a pizza crust for meat-loving carnivores. I’ve used Canadian bacon, ground meat and pepperoni slices on mine but the options are truly endless. Italian sausage pairs well with roasted red peppers and can be substituted in place of the ground meat while also adding veggies and extra nutrition to the mix. Prefer grilled chicken? Add that protein!

And while I’ve gotten carried away talking about the toppings, let’s back up and discuss the crust because a pizza without a crust is not quite a pizza, now is it? My Quick & Easy Homemade Pizza Crust is a thinner crust that requires very little rise time and can be whipped together in less than 30 minutes, making homemade pizza night during a busy workweek not such a farfetched idea.

Round out the pizza meal with a Caesar salad topped with Homemade Croutons to bring some restaurant-quality flavor to your routine salad. Once you’ve made croutons from scratch, you’ll wonder what took you so long. You may also find yourself using my basic crouton recipe for topping your soups and casseroles, too!

Quick & Easy Homemade Pizza Dough

1 cup warm water (105 degrees)
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. olive oil + more for brushing
2 to 2.5 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Combine warm water, yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl; stir to combine. Let mixture rest for 5 minutes or until it is frothy and bubbles begin to form. Gently stir in 1 Tbsp. olive oil.
Add 2 cups flour and salt and, with a spatula, mix until a ball begins to form. Add more flour as needed to form a dough ball. Dough will be sticky.
Transfer to a floured surface, and with floured hands knead into a smooth dough. Roll dough into desired shape and transfer to baking pan of choice.
Optional: If you have additional time, you can place the dough ball into a bowl and cover with a damp tea towel to allow the dough to continue to rise for a fluffier crust.


Homemade Croutons

¼ cup olive oil (plain or flavored with basil or garlic)
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried parsley
½ tsp. roasted garlic powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
3 to 4 heaping cups cubed white bread (small French bread loaf, or baguette)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine olive oil, Parmesan cheese and spices. Add bread cubes to olive oil mix, tossing to coat.
Spread bread cubes in an even layer on a sheet pan, making sure cubes are not crowded. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Midway through baking, toss cubes to ensure even toasting. Monitor closely to avoid over-browning.
Allow croutons to cool, then serve immediately.
Notes: Fresh bread may take longer to crisp, whereas stale bread will brown faster and bake time may need to be adjusted.
Makes about 4 cups.

Sheet Pan Meatsa Pizza

1 lb. pizza dough, homemade or store-bought
1 lb. ground beef
4 oz. Canadian bacon, diced
4 oz. pepperoni slices
½ cup pizza sauce
3 cups mozzarella cheese, or pizza blend that includes mozzarella
Dried parsley, garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil; set aside.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef until it’s no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain and set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll pizza dough into a rectangle roughly the size of sheet pan. Mine is 13 x 13 inches and works perfectly for the homemade pizza crust on page 60.
Lift and transfer dough to pan, pressing it into sides of pan and up sides. Press together any tears so that there are no exposed holes. Use a fork and “dock” the crust by pricking crust in order for air and steam to escape—this will keep the bottom from getting soggy.
Add sauce evenly over top of crust, followed by cheese. Evenly distribute toppings and finish with dried parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until crust around edges is puffed and golden brown, center is bubbling and cheese is fully melted.
Allow pizza to cool slightly, then cut into squares and serve.
Leftover pizza can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Makes 12 squares/slices.

Aimee Broussard is a Southern food blogger and award-winning cookbook author. Seen on QVC, Rachael Ray and more, she is a self-proclaimed accidental entrepreneur with a penchant for porches and sweet hospitality. Find her online at