Tag Archives: cooking

Deliciousness (ie: home made pizza)

I love pizza!

REALLY!!

LOTS!!!

When I was at my brother’s house for Thanksgiving they made pizza.

Delicious, awesome crust, could have come from a restaurant, pizza.

And I HAD to know how they did it!

Pizza stone was the answer – but pizza stones are expensive and break – & then cost a fortune to replace. So, they had learned online that they could make their own pizza stone. They told me how and I’ve been having AMAZING home made pizza ever since.

What you need is:

unglazed quarry tile – 1/2 thick at least. The unglazed part is the most important.  I could only find 6×6 tiles (my brother somehow found some 8×8 tiles – they don’t sell those in my area). I had to do a bunch of calling and finally found them at Manards. They cost about 50 cents a piece. So, $3 later I had enough tiles to fit in my oven and bake on. – 2 rows of 3 is what usually works when using 6×6 tiles. (I actually bought 10 so I’d have replacements if some broke).

When you get your tiles home rinse them of and let them dry thoroughly before using. If there is still moisture on them, they’ll break. About an hour before you want to make pizza, put them in your oven on the wire rack – I like having my rack either in the center or one step down towards the bottom. Set your oven as hot as it will go – usually between 500 – 550 for conventional ovens. It will take about 30 minutes to preheat and then you want it to heat for another 20 -30 minutes so those stones get good and hot.

Now, you can’t have good pizza without a good crust recipe – and I searched around a bit looking for one I liked. I found one, but the crust was too thin (I like thick crusts), so I doubled it and tweaked it slightly & it made the yummiest crust! So, here’s the recipe (if you want a thinner crust, half it)

Makes 4 10-12 inch pieces (or bigger/more if you want thinner)

10 C flour (I prefer Bread flour)

3 Tbs Sugar

4 tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp instant yeast

5 Tbs olive oil

4 cups water (may need to add a bit more – I think I did, but I don’t remember how much)

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl (or mixer – mixer is way easier) and stir vigorously . After all the ingredients are combined, let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Mix again adding flour or water if needed. You want your pizza dough to be a little wetter and stickier than your typical bread dough. It should be dry enough it holds together and pulls away from the side of the bowl when you mix it, but it doesn’t need to be dry enough to knead by hand.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces and place each one into an oiled freezer bag. (I use olive oil to oil the bags – I put it on my hands and then rub the inside of the bag – that way the dough won’t stick to my hands either.

At this point, if you aren’t going to use all the dough today you can throw a couple of them into the freezer – they’ll be good for at least  a month and the evening before you use them, put the dough balls in the refrigerator to thaw.

The best thing for a tasty pizza crust is a slow rise – so I make my dough early in the day and let it rise for a few hours in the fridge. It’s fine though if you are short on time and can only let it rise an hour on the counter. From what I read online, flavor improves with longer slower rises at reduced temperature. The first time I made the crust I didn’t have time to let it rise long and did a counter rise – it tasted great – but the second time I did it, I did the long rise and it was SO much yummier!

So, now you made your dough and it’s rising! Yay! When your ready, just roll it out to the size and shape you need/want. I like flinging mine in the air and pretending like I know what I’m doing. So far it’s fallen on the floor, counter, my face…. but the kids think it’s funny (and fun)

So, the next awesome thing you need is a great pizza sauce.

I thought I could take some sauce and paste and throw seasonings in it and it’d be great. I was wrong – I could never get it right, so I searched the internet and found this gem for the Ultimate Pizza sauce on food.com. It take a little effort – but it is SO worth it. I’m changing it here to fit your 4 pizzas – if you have left over it’s good in the fridge for about a week, or you can freeze it.

4 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs butter

1 C finely chopped onion

1/2 C finely chopped celery

2 garlic cloves minced (or if you’re like me and always forget to buy garlic cloves – garlic powder works too – use 1 tsp)

2 cans (8 oz) tomato sauce

2 cans (6 oz) tomato paste

4 Tbs grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 small bay leaves

2 tsp fennel seeds (fennel seeds are the MOST IMPORTANT part of any pizza sauce – really – it’s the difference between good and WOWZA!!!)

In a skillet, melt but with oil and sautee the onion, garlic, & celery until soft and transparent – some of you will be worried it will make the sauce to chunkly, it won’t as long as you dice it small and cook it well – the flavor it adds is wonderful.  Add the tomato sauce & tomato paste and stir until smooth. Add all the rest of the ingredients and simmer. You can simmer for 30-60 minutes for full flavor, or you can use sooner if you’re short on time. Take out the bay leaves and spread the sauce on your prepared dough. (you do not need to cook your crust ahead of time). It makes a nice thick sauce and it’s REALLY yummy.

Then, top your pizza with whatever you want.

A couple more tips:

You’ll want a pizza peel – wood or metal (I have wood, my brother has metal).

spread cornmeal liberally on your pizza peel before you put the crust on it – this will help the pizza to slide off after you have it assembled.

Bake you pizzas directly on the stones (the stones, 0r tiles, absorbed the moisture and give the awesome crisper crust on the bottom).

For thinner crust pizzas we bake at 550 for about 7 minutes – for thicker crust pizzas we bake at 550 for about 8 minutes.

When you pull them from the oven, let them cool for a couple minutes on a wire wrack to keep the bottoms from turning soggy.

It’s not really as much work as it sounds like & it’s well worth it for pizzas that taste as good as the restaurant kind at a fraction of the cost. 🙂

Here are a couple of pictures from our last pizza night (New Year’s Eve)

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Feel free to ask me questions –

I’m not an expert, but I might be able to make up an answer that sounds convincing! 😀

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Filed under Every Day Life

Hmmmm… That didn’t work so well either

I think the spoon gods are against me or something!  This time I was trying to reheat the mess to clean out my pot since we have a slight aversion to peanut brittle coated in plastic.

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I don’t know, maybe I should have taken it as a warning of things to come this morning when Murdoch (our very large dog) trapped himself under the stairs in the basement behind the washer and dryer – TWICE! With in the space of 3 minutes I might add. Getting him out involved moving the dryer all the way out, man I love that dog. In all honesty though, it’s kinda funny…   Makes me wonder what else will happen today.

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Filed under Humor

If They Say It’s Heat Resistant…

… DON’T BELIEVE THEM!!!!


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Filed under Humor

Born to Be a Chef

I had to tell Jacob the other day that he could put the toy pots and pans on the real stove. “But I need to cook dinner,” he explained. I proceeded to let him cook on the counter beside the stove and watched as he stirred his pots of plastic fruits and vegetables.

He is fascinated by what I do in the kitchen, always wanting to “holp” and forever underfoot, but i try my best to not get impatient and find simple tasks for him to do. Some times he sneaks into the kitchen when I am not looking and interesting things result. Apparantly he had spent some time the other day unnoticed in the kitchen, because when I returned home from my quiet writing/editing time at a quaint local bookstore, my husband told me to go look at the stove.

I panicked at first. My mother has one of those glass top stoves, and I was terrified someone had managed to damage it. “No, the stove is fine, just go take a look,” he insisted.

I entered the kitchen and there, sitting tucked partway beneath our cow-shaped tea kettle was a glodenrod-yellow sheet of paper. I examined the red scribble on the paper. A simple arrow pointed to the tea kettle with the words, “Look inside” beneath it. I picked up the kettle and pulled off the lid. As I peered inside, I cascaded in laughter.

There floating in the water were various plastic fruits and vegetables. I think a certain little boy was playing a chef that day.

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Filed under Children, Jacob

A Series of Unfortunate Events….

After baking up a storm over the last few weeks I happily prepared 16 goodie plates to take to friends on Friday and Saturday evening. The kids were excited to do some carroling and we bundled everyone up tight, loaded the car and took off. While Friday was fun and rather uneventful, Saturday was fraught with peril. Well, maybe just a little peril.

Some months ago our very good friends began an addition on their house. Things never go as quickly as planned and the house is still unfinished. They had been preparing to pour concrete and so things had been even more altered than usual. My first discovery of this had been a few days before when I went to pull into the driveway, in our little old truck, or Silver Bullet as Sariah calls it (we still can’t bring ourselves to bid the poor thing farewell). To my horror I felt the truck drop beneath me as I fell into their driveway, not realizing in the foggy dark that they had dug it out to get ready for the concrete. There was no getting out, so rather sheepishly I went into their house and to their jovial hillarity I explained my predicament, and he was kind enough to tow me out, while she called and told my hubby, having a good laugh.

I suppose I can say that they cursed me, and it all started because of that fateful night, but Sat. after singing at their home I turned to follow my family out. There was quite the step down from their front porch, due to their nonexistant stairs, though there was a small mound of uneven dirt below it. All the framing for the walk way up to the house was done.

Well, I stepped off that porch and with all the grace in the world, twisted my ankle and went crashing to the ground and into the framing. I even scraped the side of my forhead on something, and have some of the most colorful bruises yet, though I don’t know if they surpass my last escapade. I managed to hoble back into their house to wash my hands off and we all marveled that me, with my graceful goofy tendacies managed to last this long, heh.

That night and the next morning I made every cooking faux pas possible (I poured the pecans into the pie pan without the crust, I forgot the eggs for the pumpkin pie filling but thankfully I remembered just before I poured it into the pie crust, I forgot to spray the jello mold before pouring the jello in, I left the bread in the oven that I was trying to dry for stuffing while heating it up for the pies and found brown crispy bread when I went to put the pies in, I heated the turkey roaster without the turkey in it, I started trying to cook the cranberries without the sugar and water though I managed to remember before I scorched any of them, and just after talking to Paul about needing to spray the muffin tins for the rolls I put them in with out spraying), and only Paul managed to save me from myself. And he wondered, “Just how hard did you hit your head?” Clearly my brain was else where.

Christmas Eve became a comedy of errors as we drove around looking at lights and Emily christened Moby Dick…. urp slop bring a mop! Later when Santa came, she almost christened him, but instead it all landed on his bag with the kids presents in it. Just after Dorothy sat on Santa’s lap she took off running, thank goodness she made it to the bathroom in time.

Poor kids, to be sick on Christmas is no fun at all, especially tummy bug sick, and not being able to eat anything. Our special Christmas breakfast was called off, I couldn’t bear to eat yummy food in front of the two sickos while all they got to eat were crackers and gatorade. We decided to try for a New Years breakfast instead.

Even with a scatterbrained, sick, and gimpy crew we managed to have an awesome Christmas. The kids are feeling much better this evening, and are happily coloring and playing with new treasures as we watch the first season of “The Muppet Show” on DVD.

Merry Christmas!!!!

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Filed under Children, Every Day Life, Family, Goofs, Humor, Parenting

Burn Baby Burn!

I was late starting dinner.
“I have no time self, what shall I make for dinner?”
“Stir fry is always a good stand by, not to mention yummy, make that.”

I defrosted the chicken quick and dumped it in the wok flicking the burner on high. After it had cooked a bit I tossed in some ramen noodles (I didn’t want to wait for the rice to cook).

“Mamamamammaaaa.” Jacob had awakened and was crying. I left my chicken and noodles and hurried back to grab the baby. I gently lifted him out of the crib only to place my hand on his wet leaky bum.

“Ewww! Time to change you!” and I set to work changing his diaper and changing his clothes. Then I sat on the floor and play with him a bit.

“Ummm, self, did you forget something?”

“Oh, crud! The food!” I charged back to the kitchen, only to find a charred mangled mess sitting in the bottom of my wok, I had forgot I had left the burner on high. Frustrated and annoyed by the stench I wanted to sit on the floor and burst into tears.

My loving children pipe up, “That’s ok mom, we’re glad it burned! We didn’t want stir fry any way; we don’t like it.”

Oddly enough I just dissolved into giggles and we had a fine dining experience of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids and Marie Calendar meals for Paul and I.

This morning however, I was no longer laughing. I couldn’t get rid of the stench. I had thrown out the food and set the wok outside until I could scrub it clean, but to no avail it still stunk. After walking for an hour this morning I arrived back at my house and could smell it before even opening the door. It was so bad it smelled like we were smokers! I turned on the furnace fan and opened windows trying to get rid of the smell. I even went out and bought a candle. I think the stink is finally dissipating, thank goodness. I think it will be a while before I have enough stomach to try chicken stir fry again! lol 🙂

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Filed under Children, Dot, Em, Goofs, Humor, Lizy, Parenting, Things Kids Say

Dancing in the Kitchen

I finished teaching my last piano lesson at 6:30. Definitely a mac & cheese night I headed into the kitchen to see how Paul was coming with dinner. As happens frequently he grabbed my hand spinning me around on the linoleum and we danced across the kitchen floor. I love to dance. We would love to take a class together some day, but for now we practice in the kitchen. Our favorite is the swing. We even will sing our own music if there isn’t any on at the time. The kids scamper in and sit at the counter with big silly grins on their faces watching us dance.

I remember grinning like that when I watched my parents together. It was the grin that I knew my parents were hopelessly in love with each other. It brings me joy to see that grin on my girls faces. I grin back before Paul whisks me into another spin. He flings me out and rolls me back in throwing me into a dip and I nearly topple to the floor. (He’s dropped me before, but mainly because I am being too goofy) We dissolve into laughter. The kids are laughing too, but they don’t know why, they just feel the joy we feel.

Paul and I continue to dance and talk in the kitchen while the kids eat their dinner at the counter, because it is late and bed time is around the corner. As we dance Paul gives me a kiss. Dorothy wants to be sure we are listening to something she has to say. “Daddy, quit kissing mom and listen!”

At least they know we love each other, which is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

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Filed under Children, Dot, Family, Love and Marriage, Memory, Parenting, Things Kids Say