01/05/2012 05:16 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

Eight Ways to Use Ready Made Pizza Dough

Ok, I'll give you that not everyone makes their own pizza dough from scratch but if you are so inclined please see the recipe for homemade pizza dough on my website. It is easier than you think and since the ingredients are flour, water, yeast and salt, it goes together in no time at all. But if you are just too busy, there is always store bought, ready made pizza dough, and it's not just for pizza. With a little creativity and a switch out of ingredients, you can turn plain pizza dough into a Jacob's coat of many variations and flavors.

Here are eight ways to get you started:

  1. Loaf of bread: Shape the dough into a round or elongated shape; cover and let rise until doubled in size. Bake at 375F until nicely browned and hollow sounding when tapped. Add sesame seeds and coarse salt as a topping before the bread is baked for a nice crunch.
  2. Crust for quiche: Roll the dough out to fit a 9 or 10 inch pie pan. Line the pan and fill it with your favorite quiche ingredients; I like spinach, cheddar cheese, eggs and thyme. Bake at 375F until the filling is set.
  3. Bread Sticks: Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each under the palms of your hands into ropes about 12 inches long and the thickness of your middle finger. Place them on greased baking sheets about 1/2 inch apart. Let rise until doubled in size. Brush them with beaten egg and sprinkle coarse salt and grated Parmesan cheese over the sticks. Bake 375F until nicely browned. Best warm.
  4. Dinner Rolls: Divide the dough into 10-12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Place the balls on lightly greased baking sheets. Let rise until doubled in size, then bake at 375F until nicely browned.
  5. Fried Dough: Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Stretch each piece into a 6 x 3 inch rectangle; this does not have to be a perfect shape. Place the pieces on lightly floured towels; cover and let rise until doubled. Have ready 1 cup sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon in a large paper bag. Set aside. Meanwhile heat 4 to 6 cups vegetable oil in a heavy duty pot or deep fryer. Heat the oil to 375F. Drop a few pieces of the dough at a time into the oil and fry until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Plunge the fried dough pieces into the sugar and cinnamon mixture and shake well. Best eaten warm
  6. Stuffed Loaf: Roll the dough out into a 16 inch diameter and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Do not worry that dough overhangs the sheet; you will be rolling the dough up. Meanwhile combine 1 1/2 cups well drained ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup diced mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup well squeezed spinach or Swiss chard in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup diced tomatoes in olive oil that have been drained or your favorite olives, diced. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread mixture evenly over the dough to within 1/ 4 inch of the border. Starting at end nearest you, roll dough up over filling to form a tight log. Make sure seam side is down. Brush the top of the log with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse salt. Cover and allow to rise until doubled. Bake 375F until the log is nicely browned. Let cool on rack then use a serrated knife to cut crosswise into thick slices.
  7. Cinnamon Rolls: Roll the dough as for #6. Brush evenly with two tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle a mixture of 1 cup sugar mixed with 2 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon over the dough. Sprinkle 2/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries over the dough. Roll the dough up as for #6. Use a sharp knife to cut the log crosswise into 1-inch thick slices. Place the slices on parchment lined baking sheets at least 1-inch apart. Cover with towels and let rise until doubled in size. Bake 375F until nicely browned.While rolls are baking, make a glaze with 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar and 3 to 4 tablespoons Half/Half. After rolls are baked, allow them to cool for 10 minutes, then drizzle the glaze over them. Best eaten warm
  8. Calzones: Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into an 8 inch diameter. Spread 1/4 cup of your favorirte cooked sloppy joe mixture, or cooked ground chicken or turkey sloppy joe mix on each round. Fold one end of the dough over the filling and seal the edges with a fork to create a turnover. Place the calzones on parchment lined baking sheets at least 1-inch apart. With a scissors, cut an x in the center top of each calzone. Brush them with beaten egg and coarse salt. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in size. Bake 375F until nicely browned. Best served warm but these can also be frozen after baked and reheated as needed.