Sunday, March 14, 2010

the perfect pizza dough

i'm on a quest each week to find the perfect pizza crust. and so far this is the winner. you see... we have "pizza friday" every friday night. yes, when you have little kids it's something to look forward to. sophie *loves* to help me make pizza, all day: "i help make a pizza!" and i love trying to per-fect my pizza crust, and landen? well he just loves eating it. so it's a win-win-win.

i think i'm finally getting the hang of it thanks to this website. the trick to the perfectly crispy-on-the-outside and soft-on-the-inside crust happens to be using a pizza stone. sure you can still use this recipe on a good old cookie sheet (i've done it and it's still yummy), but if you're looking for that perfect restaurant crisp than use the stone! my definition of the perfect crust is one that i'm not overly noticing, it just blends into the yummy sauce and toppings. here we go.

2 cups flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
4 tsp sugar (about 1/8 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup warm water

directions: (i usually start the whole process at 3pm to let rise in time for dinner)
in a glass measuring cup filled with the sugar & water (water should feel very warm against wrist but not hot) i let my yeast activate for 5-10 minutes until bubbly on top. then i mix the oil in with a spoon. while yeast is activating i add the dry ingredients together in my mixer for about 15 seconds (flour & salt). while the mixer is running, pour the yeast mixture in slowly and process the dough for about 60 seconds, a dough ball should begin forming. if the dough is sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time to dry the dough and allow a ball to form. if the dough is dry, add water one tablespoon at a time to moisten the dough. you want the dough slightly sticky and soft. you don't want to overprocess the dough, you just want to combine the ingredients to form a loose ball. the dough will be soft to the touch and there will be a small amount of residual dough left along the bottom and sides of the bowl.

once finished, place the ball on a floured surface and knead by hand for several minutes. (this is how i take my aggression out after a week of dealing with kids). use flour on your hands to prevent sticking. the dough should feel smooth and silky when ready for use. (you might be able to let your mixer do all the work, but i love kneading dough and i like how i do it better.)

shape dough into a ball and place in a bowl coated with olive oil. brush a light coating of oil on the top of the dough ball as well so it doesn't dry out. cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and then with a kitchen towel. i warm my oven up to 300 or so while i'm kneading, and then turn it off and place the bowl on top of the oven so it's nice and warm for rising. the volume should double depending on the warmth of the kitchen but usually takes 45-90 minutes.

after the dough has doubled, punch it down. turn out onto your board and knead it for a minute or two to get rid of any bubbles. let it rest in the bowl for another 45-90 minutes. i know this seems like a lot of rising, but i have noticed my doughs are much softer and easier to form if i do a double rise.

rolling out your dough:
place the dough ball on a lightly floured work surface. using your fingertips push down on the center of the dough applying outward pressure. you want to flatten out the dough ball and increase the diameter, once you have your intial shape, use a rolling pin to continue flattening the dough. roll in one direction, rotate 90 degrees and roll in the same direction. continue until you achieve your desired thickness and dimaeter.

i need a wooden paddle, but for now i just put my rolled out dough on some parchment on the backside of a cookie sheet so i can easily slide it onto my stone. you want to heat your stone for at least 45-60 minutes before you place your pizza on it. heat oven to 450 degrees (i think i change it every time). decorate your pizza and slide onto stone. i remove the parchment after it's cooked for about 5-10 minutes so it won't stick. cook until crust is just turning crispy golden and cheese is bubbly. about 15 minutes i think? just watch it.

easy sauce:
1 can of tomato sauce
mrs. dash "italian medly"

mix in a bowl until it tastes right! super easy and yummy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Burger and Fries Casserole

I have to admit I haven't tried this one yet but its on the menu for this week, so I thought I would share. Cause really who doesn't like burger and fires?
(I think this makes a lot so i would probably cut it in half)
2 pound lean ground beef
1 10 ounce can condensed golden mushroom soup
1 10 ounce can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1 20 ounce package frozen french fried crinkle cut fries
1 teaspoon season salt
any toppings like pickles tomatoes, ketchup or mustard

preheat oven to 350degrees. In a large skillet cook beef and drain fat. transfer beef into a baking dish (casserole dish). in a medium bowl combine mushroom and cheese soups then spread over beef. top with the frozen potatoes and sprinkle with season salt.

bake for 45 minutes to 55 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown. if you want put your toppings on and eat! SO EASY
( so i got this from a meals on a budget recipe book it says this meal should only cost you 12$ to make and if you don't make it as big it should be less. We will find out good experiment though!)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

kristen's pudding cake

remember this recipe?
well one night we had a bunch of strawberries from costco, and didn't want them to go to waste so we came up with this version of the lemon cake recipe. no shortcake? make vanilla pudding cake! so moist and yummy.

white cake mix {yes... gasp... the box kind}
small vanilla pudding
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
3 eggs

topping (instead of glaze):
a bunch of cut up strawberries with sugar sprinkled on top, let sit in the fridge for an hour before to get the juices flowing.
and of course... whipped cream

mix all the ingredients together and bake at 350 degrees...follow the directions on the box for a 9x13 pan.

crockpot sweet & sour chicken

so i've been trying lots of new recipes... just not posting them! i am the worst, i know. it took another sinus infection to get me on here posting.

this recipe comes from taste of home here. but for you liz, i'll post the whole recipe.

1-1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
1 Tbs. canola oil
salt & pepper to taste
1 can (15 oz.) pineapple chunks (i omitted the water chestnuts...bleh, and added a whole can of pineapple)
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 Tbs. soy sauce
4 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup sweet-and-sour sauce (i used this kind, but i'd be willing to experiment with others)
1/4 cup water
(i omitted the ginger because that sounded weird to me)
3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen snow peas (i used fresh and it was sophie's favorite part)
hot cooked rice

in a large skillet, saute chicken in oil for 4-5 minutes; drain. sprinkle with salt and pepper. drain pineapple, reserving juice; set pineapple aside. in a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the chicken, carrots, soy sauce and pineapple juice. cover and cook on low for 3 hours or until chicken juices run clear.

in a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, sweet-and-sour sauce, and ginger until smooth. stir into the slow cooker. add onions, peas and reserved pineapple; cover and cook on high for 15 minutes or until thickened. serve with rice.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Blueberry Buttermilk Streusel Coffee Cake

I found this recipe on Stephanie's Kitchen just after Bella was born and made it about nine times between then and Thanksgiving.  It's pretty much the perfect breakfast cake, and you know it's a snap to put together if I was making it three weeks postpartum!  Look at it....

doesn't it make your mouth water?  I stole the pic straight off her blog (sorry Stephanie, nothing else I found did the yumminess justice)  :)  Make this for your lazy Saturday morning....the recipe is right here.

Sorry Liz, I know, a link instead of full text.  Just follow the link, I promise it's worth it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Veggie Burger Heaven

I'm a veggie burger fan, but never thought to make my own until I found this recipe from the food network,Guy Fieri. I'm hooked. These patties are packed with fiber (8g each) and loaded with flavor! One of the things I love about this recipe is that you can add a little corn, brown rice or whatever you can come up with, just compensate by adding a little egg white if you put more dry ingredients in. Freeze individual patties for dinners later in the month. By the time you put on lettuce and tomato you'll never miss the meat. Promise, try them!

2 ounces olive oil
3 tablespoons diced red onion
2 tablespoons diced black olives
2 tablespoons diced red bell peppers
1 teaspoon diced jalapeno (I didn't use this)
1 1/2 tablespoons diced garlic
1 tablespoon diced artichoke
4 ounces black beans, drained
4 ounces chickpeas, drained
4 ounces white beans, drained
6 ounces rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
2 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg

In a medium saute pan over medium heat, add 1-ounce olive oil and all raw vegetables except beans. Saute until translucent. Remove and cool.

Add veggies to beans and mix thoroughly. Add all dry ingredients along with the egg. Thoroughly mix all ingredients by 'gushing and squishing' between your fingers. The beans help make it all stick together, form into 4 patties, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (I doubled it and used each of the three cans of beans)

In saute pan add 1-ounce olive oil, and cook patties 2 to 3 minutes per side.