The best ever pizza dough

Well, it’s that time of year again where I have to come up with meat-free meals. Yep, it’s lent and time for cheese pizza Fridays! My husband is incredibly picky and there are few things he’ll eat with out meat (pasta), he doesn’t like fish, and he’d starve as a vegetarian. So, cheese pizza it is!
I have a great pizza dough recipe I’m going to share. It’s kinda my specialty. It’s very simple, but you do need an electric mixer! I made a cheese version, but feel free to get creative!
Ok, here we go!
Start by putting a package of rapid rise yeast, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 1/2 cups hot (100-110 degrees) in your mixer bowl.

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Let this sit for about 10 minutes, and it should look like this:

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Now add 4 1/2 cups of ap flour, 1 tsp kosher salt, and 3 tbsp oil. Mix together with your dough hook. Now, once mixed, Adjust your consistency. If its sticking to all the sides and not forming into a ball, sprinkle in a bit more flour. If it forms a ball, but doesn’t stick to the bottom, add a bit more water. You want it to form a ball around the dough hook, and only stick to the bottom of the bowl. Like this:

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Now, continue to kneed at low speed for 10 minutes. Then, coat your mixing bowl with oil, cover your bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise. At least 2 hours. It will go from this:

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To this:

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Now it’s time to make your pizza! Preheat your oven to 500 degrees, and put your oven rack as low as you can. Grease the pan with butter or margarine. Spread out your dough thin (this recipe will make 2 pizzas). No rolling or stretching, just use your fingers to spread it out in your pan.

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Now let’s talk sauce! The key is San marzano tomatoes! Just mix a can with some olive oil and garlic salt. Use your hands to gently break up the tomatoes. Or, buy a jar of Mario batali pasta sauce. Tomato and basil is perfect. That’s what I had on hand:)

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Then add your toppings. Place pizza on lowest oven rack and bake for 6-10 minutes, until your cheese starts to brown (more toppings = longer cook time). The pizza cooks fast, watch it closely!!

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Your crust should be golden brown, like this.

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But, if not, I have a great trick! Turn your stove on low, place the pan directly on the stove, turning it often, until your crust is crispy and browned. Then enjoy! I cut my pizza in a grid, like they do at Chicago fire pizza in Folsom.

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Any unused dough can be stored frozen. Just let it rise at room temp for 4 hours before use.

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February 25, 2012. Tags: . Food and Drink. Leave a comment.

A little experiment…or two

This post has two purposes. First, a little experiment to try a post using the WordPress app. Second, tell you about my latest quest.
See, my kids love Rubios. I guess it’s ok, just not incredibly healthy. But, they have one menu item that I love. And it’s not the fish taco! I love their tortilla soup. I really want to create it at home. I love that it has a light broth and isn’t too heavy (a lot of the recipes I’ve tried are heavy, like chili). There have been a ton of recipes posted on pinterest, so I decided to try this crockpot version. It actually looked hearty in the picture, but the recipe sounded like it may be close. Anyway, we had it tonight. Not bad, but not Rubios:( I’ll keep searching!

Here is my version. If you have a great recipe, please share!!

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February 22, 2012. Tags: , . Food and Drink. Leave a comment.

Engagement Dinner Party

There is some really great news in our family. My brother-in-law has asked his girlfriend Shannon of four years to marry him…finally! I was so excited to hear this news, that I knew I had to do something special to celebrate with them. So, I threw them a little dinner party.

I wanted the table to be simple, but elegant. So I went with a black and white color scheme, and added some red rose centerpieces for a little pop of color.

I made little menu cards for each place setting. Gives it a more formal feel. Then I busted out my silver chargers. I actually got these for my wedding, but I rarely have such a formal event to use them for. I do have 2 young boys, after all! I also used my chalkboard painted wine glasses for the seating tags. I love how they tie in with my black and white theme. I served a green salad with Dijon vinaigrette, twice baked red potatoes, Gorgonzola crusted Fillet Mignon, and sauteed green beans with toasted almonds.

For desert, I wanted to make them something really special. Here are some “champagne” Cake pops. I used white nonpareils¬† for the bubbles and a white candy melt for the glass base.

The champagne bottle was really fun to make. But a lot of work, so there is only one! I made the bottle green, then painted it with some gold edible paint for the foil at the top. The black and red decorations were colored on with edible pens. The bottle monogram was made by piping white chocolate on some wax paper. I flipped the label over, then used an edible pen to draw on the monogram.

Overall, it was a great night. The food was delicious, the wine was flowing, and most of all, the bride and groom to be really enjoyed that we made this celebration special. Congratulations David and Shannon!

February 19, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Food and Drink. Leave a comment.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

My valentines are DONE. This year, much like the last, was all about the cake pop…and cake ball. I’m sure you’ve seen this idea all over pinterest (with lollipops, not cake pops), but I LOVE it, and had to try it with my boys. Not the best picture, but you get the idea. I uploaded my picture to shutterfly, and they had some cute valentines day borders.

I also made some cake balls, but not just any cake balls, these ones I shaped into hearts. I love how they came out.

This one looks like a box of chocolates!

Tomorrow I plan to celebrate valentines with all my boys. We are having heart pizza and broken arrow cupcakes…I’ll post later:) I put out a little valentines treat for my boys to discover tomorrow…

I picked these cute little mailboxes up at the Target dollar section. What’s inside? Silly putty,a hotwheels car, a mini slinky, a mini strawberry pot, and some jelly beans.

Hope you have a great Valentine’s Day!!

February 14, 2012. Tags: , , , . Cakes and other Treats, Fun for Kids. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday Jason (aka Daddy)

I love to bake cakes. I especially love to decorate them (you can check them out at Sweet Cakes by Karla and Sarah). My kids are fondant junkies, they love to eat my scraps, but rarely do they get to play with it (let alone decorate a cake!!). Except on dad’s birthday. I started this tradition last year. Here is last year’s cake:

The cake was so small, most of the fondant ended up on the cake board! But they had fun cutting out their favorite shapes, then coloring them with edible markers.

This year, I wanted to give them more creative freedom. So, I baked a chocolate mint cake with vanilla mint buttercream (my husbands favorite flavor combo). I was sure to make this cake a little bigger! Its covered in chocolate ganache (not perfectly I might add, but I figured they would be covering most of it anyway!).¬† The kids picked out all the cookie cutter shapes. so random what they chose…Christmas and Halloween?!? And I had some Duff cake wires that we decided to try. The kids put them in the cake, that’s why some are protruding out the side with balls of fondant attached to them. Anyway, here is the finished cake. I especially love the reindeer with the bug eyes:)

It was so fun to see them present their creation to their dad! They were so proud!! I think it cake out pretty cute!

February 8, 2012. Tags: , , . Fun for Kids. Leave a comment.

Tutorial: Make a Key Hanger using Stretched Canvas

Up until now, my husband and I were throwing our keys on the counter. But I HATE clutter, so it would drive me crazy. We have really been needing a key hanger, but I just never got around to buying one. So I made one! Here’s what you need:

  • Stretched canvas, any size will do, but I used 12 X 24.
  • Acrylic paints and paintbrushes or fun fabric
  • decorative hooks (I got these at Lowes)
  • Power drill

Start by painting a design of your choice, or if you are not an artist, buy some fun fabric and use a stable gun to attach it to the back of your canvas (I was going to go this route, but since I’m planning on painting some large canvases in our dining room, I wanted the practice!).¬† Next, drill holes in the wood frame of your canvas, then screw in your hooks. And that’s it!

I tried gluing the hooks on, but since the canvas is not very rigid, they heavy keys pulled off the hooks. Really, screws are the way to go.

Ahhh, all nice and organized. Now maybe my husband will be able to find his keys in the morning:)

February 2, 2012. Tags: , , , . Sewing and Crafts. Leave a comment.