Thursday, December 13, 2012

Making pizza!

We love homemade pizza and bread! I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer and used it often, with the dough hook, to make pizza dough. But then I discovered no-knead dough, and it's even easier! It only takes 4 ingredients, a bowl and a spoon. How much easier do you need, right? And better yet, with the same dough you can make delicious artisan bread, the kind with a thick crust and chewy center. Want to know how? Keep reading!

Artisan Bread
Makes 4 1-poundloaves.  This recipe is easily doubled or halved.
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast ( 1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for pizza peel

Mixing and storing the dough:
1.       Mix the yeast and salt with the water in a 5-quart mixing bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
2.       Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon. You may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.
3.       Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at roomtemperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

4.       The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold.  Refrigerate in a lidded(not airtight) container and use over the next 14 days.

To Make Bread - On Baking Day:
1.       Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough withflour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit sized) piece.  Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.  Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40 minutes.

2.       Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450ºF, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack.  Place an empty broiler tray (or aluminum pie plate) on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the baking bread.

3.       Sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and slash a cross, scallop, or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.  Leave the flour in place for baking; tap some of it off before slicing.

4.       Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone.  Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top crust is deeply browned and firm.  Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time. Allow to cool before slicing and eating. (I tried a larger loaf and it didn't cook well. The outside was VERY done but the inside was wet. Better to keep them smaller.)

Enjoy! Let me know how it turns out! Buon appetito!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Homemade Christmas Presents

I like to try to make gifts to give whenever possible. It just feels a little more special to have made something for someone. Is is just me?

Tomorrow is our last day of co-op so I needed to come up with something to make for my children's teachers. I thought about baking something but this is such a rough time of year for trying to keep weight off that I didn't want my gift to end up being a curse rather than a blessing! So I had to come up with something else.

I had bought some cute bags and little wooden scoops from Pick Your Plum. I had pinned several receipes for a salt or sugar scrub but these are all made with oil and I didn't think my little bags would hold up. I wanted something dry, so I hopped on Pinterest and searched for bath salts. I found several different recipes but I based mine on was this one. I made up my own version, however. Here are the ingredients I used:

2 cups epsom salts
1 cup baking soda
lavendar flowers
chamomile tea mix

I mixed the salts with the soda and added a small jar (think McCormick's) of lavendar flowers that I had bought years ago for a project Annie wanted to do but never did. They smell so good! Gave that a good mix. That filled two bags but I needed to make more and didn't have enough of the flowers so I had to come up with something else.

I had seen a recipe for a tea soak and thought about adding some black Chinese tea leaves I had. But then I ran across a jar I had of Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea. It's my favorite tea! Tastes great and smells wonderful as well! At my husband's work they have a Keurig with an assortment of teas. No one was drinking the Sleepytime (who wants to be sleepy at work, right?) so my husband brought the K cups home to me. I had opened them up and poured them into a jar (we don't have a Keurig) and was planning on using it as loose tea. However, I sacrificed my tastebuds and added it to my second batch. I just added the Sleepytime tea to the salts/soda mixture and gave it a good stir.

Then I bagged them up in the little bags with a peek-a-boo window, tied on a little wooden scoop (also from Pick Your Plum) with green and red ribbon (that I had bought on clearance last Christmas at JoAnn's). I'm so happy with the way they turned out!
Cute, festive, useful and calorie-free! Merry Christmas teachers! I appreciate what you do for my children!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The bathroom remodel took a bit of a sabbatical. But we are back in business!
 The floor to the shower is poured.
The walls are up and doped.

It's coming along!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


This week the team worked on putting in electricity and water. We are adding a light in the shower as well as a vent fan. Code doesn't require us to but we'd like to. There's so much to think about when placing outlets and switches.

The light and fan switch to our bedroom had to be moved since the wall was moving out into the bedroom 21 inches.
 Three switches: the light above the sinks, the fan, and the light in the shower.
 Wires running everywhere. You can see the boxes where the plugs will go above the sinks.
 The fan and the light are put in place.
Tom does such a nice job cleaning up after he's done working for the day.
We have selected tile and granite. More than likely going with this tile. Looks like marble but it's not.
 Need to decide between one of these two granite pieces.
 And we really like the blue mosaic as an accent in the shower.
Today I must go order the cabinet!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The remodel is coming along!

The demolition is mostly done. The studs are going up.
 The carpet is cut.
 The bathroom door jamb is out. 
 Here's the gutted room. 
Here are the boys hard at work!
 Did you catch the sweat? They're working hard!
 The bathroom wall is down! 
 You can see the closet door on the left.
 Here's the top part that had to be built. (You like the way I sling those technical terms around? Top part.)
I better go find some tile, quick! They're going to be done before you know it!


We finally bit the bullet! The bathroom has needed to be redone for a while now. Our builder's schedule had finally cleared up. It was time to begin. Here's the before picture:
 See the mold that was growing on the ceiling?
 And in the shower?
 A shot of the other side of the bathroom.
 The first blows of the hammer...
 To speed things up, you grab it and shake it like this...
 Once all the walls came down, this is what we found inside. No surprise. It was wet.
 This was the wood that was part of the step.Rotted out.
The demo took one day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Crockpot: Asian flavored chicken

I came up with this easy yet TASTY recipe (again, no picture! sorry!) which we served over rice. Man was it good.

Place chicken pieces (I used legs) in a crockpot. Add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, 2 pressed garlic cloves, grate some fresh ginger (I keep it in the freezer which also makes grating really easy), mirin. Cook on low for 7 hours, stirring a few times throughout the cooking time so that the chicken on top gets into the liquid.

Chicken will fall off the bone. You can thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch/water mixture. I didn't but it would make a nice thicker sauce.

Chicken Legs in Wine Sauce

I needed an easy chicken recipe the other night so I was trolling through my favorite website, My Recipes when I found this recipe. The flavors were wrong for what I needed, so I decided to swap out some ingredients and come up with my own version. It came out great! (Sorry I don't have a picture...we dug in and there was nothing left!)

Chicken in Wine Sauce

Slice an onion and a pepper (I had a cubanelle but any green/red pepper would do or you could even leave it out as the original recipe does) and saute' in olive oil in a non-stick pan for 3 mins. Remove from pan. In the meantime, create the following spice mixture:

1 t onion powder
1 t garlic salt
1 t summer savory
1/2 t paprika

Sprinkle on chicken legs (or any other cut) and cook in pan, browning on all sides.

Add 1/2 cup red wine and 2 T red wine vinegar. Bring to a boil. Add 1 cup chicken broth (or water mixed with bouillon which is what I did). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 mins. This makes a nice sauce which would be great over rice or mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Peach Blackberry Cobbler

I'm still on a cooking spree with all the produce I bought at the farmer's market yesterday. Today I canned more banana peppers and 3 jars of petite diced tomatoes. I cooked up another batch of oven roasted cherry tomato pasta. But the best thing I made today was the cobbler. I'm not sure why it's called a cobbler because I think of it more as a crisp. A cobbler has a more dough-y topping whereas a crisp has a streusel and this is definitely a streusel. Whatever you wanna call it, it's so tasty!
Start by assembling the topping. The recipe says it needs to sit for 20 mins. I reduced the butter by 2 tablespoons to lighten it up a little. Letting it sit did allow for the dry stuff to get all wet.
Then add your cut peaches (I didn't bother peeling mine because the skin has fiber! But some people don't like the way the skin feels when they eat it.) to a pan with sugar, flour and nutmeg. The recipe said to cook for 6 minutes but I didn't let mine cook that long. It was pretty dry and I was afraid it would burn. I'm not even sure why this step is even in the recipe. In other crisps I've made you add those ingredients to the fruit and place it in the baking pan. I think I'll try it that way next time. It may need to bake a bit longer but that's ok with me! One less sticky pan to clean!
Spoon the fruit into a baking dish. The recipe called for a 9 inch square pan but I had increased the amount of peaches so I used a 9 by 13.
 Sprinkle the streusel topping over the fruit. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.
Alas, we were out of vanilla ice cream. It would have been PERFECT with that but I did have whipped cream and so I added a squirt of that. Hubby judged it the BEST cobbler I'd made in a while (it HAS been a while since I made ANY cobbler!) I had to concur. The kids are off doing charity work. We'll see what their opinion is when they get home. Below is my adaptation of the Southern Living recipe. If you try it, let me know what you think!

I still have some blackberries left. I think tomorrow I am going to try a blackberry, strawberry, cherry crisp. Stay tuned!


  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 6 tblsp butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 6 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches (about 6 large)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries

  1. 1. Prepare Streusel: Stir together sugar and butter in a large bowl; place in microwave and heat, stirring every 15 seconds until butter is melted. Add salt, flour and almonds, and stir until blended. Let stand 20 minutes or until dry mixture is wet through.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, prepare Filling: Preheat oven to 375°. Stir together peaches and next 3 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and boil, stirring occasionally, about 5 mins or less or until juices have thickened. Remove from heat, and spoon peaches into a lightly greased 9-by-13 inch glass baking dish.  Top with blackberries then sprinkle streusel topping over hot peach mixture.
  3. 3. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

Melanzane al funghetto

Yesterday I told you about my trip to the farmer's market and all the produce I bought. With the tomatoes I made this dish also using eggplant from my garden.
This is what I picked from my garden after being gone for a week. The tomatoes are wonderful but the plants are all dead. Too much rain!

Anyways...what do you like to make with eggplant? Most people know about eggplant parmigiana. I never make that. It has melted cheese and I don't like melted cheese. But I *LOVE* this dish! It's pretty easy but not super good for you because the eggplant is fried. In oil.

Then drained on paper towels. When it's all done frying, remove most of the oil, leaving just a little bit in the bottom. Add a clove of garlic to the oil (I like to press mine in a garlic press but you can leave it whole and then remove it once it's lightly browned.)
Then add chopped fresh tomatoes. Canned will work in a pinch, but fresh is always best. Oops. The steam off the tomatoes messed up the picture. You get the idea...
Let the tomatoes cook about 10 mins, then add the eggplant back in and mix it all together gently. Add salt to taste and some fresh basil leaves. All done! Buon appetito!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Washington D.C. Day Three

I need to finish telling my account of our D.C. trip! Where was I? Oh yes...

My legs were tired from running up and down the escalator so I didn't go for a morning run. I knew I would get a lot more walking and stairs this day so I decided to save my energy. Plus we had gone to bed late the night before so I slept in :)

After checking out of our room and stashing our suitcases, I headed back into town. I was getting good at taking the metro by this point! Did I mention how HOT it was?? Hotter than Florida!

There were more gardens to explore. First stop: Enid A Haupt, a Smithsonian garden which is actually a rooftop garden! I admit, I didn't see the museum beneath, but I really enjoyed the garden!
 This was a skylight to the museum beneath.  
 A sign that explains this is a rooftop garden. You can see me reflected in the sign :)
 I learned what a parterre is.
I want an urn like this in my yard. Wouldn't it look nice?
 Ahhh...the reality of beautiful gardens. Lots of weeding! (A full time staff?)
 I loved this. One side weeded. One side not. (and another glimpse of me) Remind me not to plant a parterre .
 I took this picture for Michael. This was inspired by the Alhambra. Cascading water.
 This is the look I love. Lots of flowers crammed together with a focal point of garden art.
 Close up of the flowers. Mostly coneflowers or echinacea. Gotta try some of these! Hope they grow in FL!
 Isn't this amazing?! Polka dotted leaves!
After the garden, I was sufficiently warmed and in need of cooling off. I headed towards the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gardens. Having had multiple art history courses in college, I was familiar enough with modern art to be able to appreciate it. I had not been to this museum before and was surprised at how much fun it was.
This was painted directly on the wall. It's entitled Cube without a cube by Sol LeWitt. If you stare at it at times the cube seems to be a cut out and at other times it seems to protrude. Very tricky!
 This one was on the opposite wall, by the same artist.
This untitled piece by Mark Grotjahn was oil paint (and lots of it!) on cardboard on linen. It was so thick! I even took a picture of the side.
 You can see how much paint was used. 
 Here's a close-up.
 This neon piece by Lucio Fontana was hanging over the top of the escalators.
 Ahhh. Piet Mondrian. Composition with Blue and Yellow (1935).
 Imagine my surprise and delight when I saw these Calder mobiles. 
 I love Calder!
 I thought this was so fun! Lucas Samaras Book No. 6. A book made of stickpins. 
 I want to make this same untitled piece by David Hammons. It's made out of glass wine bottles and silicone glue. The bottles are still dirty. One even had a bug in it! Some had caps and some didn't.
 They had one painting by Andy Warhol.
 I can so make this. Paint a canvas a color then slash it.
 This was so cool! More of an experience. A dark room with spotlights, a wall of mirrors and small mirrored metal plates that hung freely and fans to make them move.
This was a really neat experience! We had to put on white "shower caps" over our shoes so as not to mar the pristine floor. The walk into the space which was divided into "rooms" lit by neon colored lights.
 Moving from the blue room, to the red/pink room, to the green room.
 My feet covered with the caps.

 This was taken from outside looking in through a window.
 This explains the next piece. Sooooooo cool! Penetrable art.
 This is what it looks like.
 About to enter the art.
 This is the structure.
 Inside the art piece.
 This was made out of a frame, like a window, and neon tubes of light. Lots of them lined up.

After the museum, my phone was getting low so I had to go plug in somewhere. The guards in the Hirshhorn wouldn't let me use the wall plug so off I went to the Museum of Natural History to rest my weary feet and juice up my phone. After hanging out there a bit, I went off in search of the Old Post Office and some grub. My friend had recommended it to me. I rode the elevator to the top for some great views of the city.

 I didn't feel like any of the food in the food court so I decided to eat at the Pavilion Cafe at the Sculpture Garden. Another rest and then off to another museum. It was so hot that I decided to take a shortcut through the West building of the National Art Gallery over to the East building to see more modern art. Imagine my surprise when I encountered this on the bottom floor as I was passing through!
 Degas sculptures.
 More Degas.
 Mary Cassatt.
Rodin The Kiss

I made it to the tunnel that connects the two buildings, started browsing the gift shop and then noticed the time. I had to RUN to the airport! I put everything back and took off for the metro to make it back to the hotel in time to meet Michael. I just made it but he was running a bit late. We decided to take a cab rather than the metro during rush hour. We made it in plenty of time to deal with the fact that my flight was at 7:59 a.m. not p.m.! We were able to fix it and make it back in time for a beach day in Flagler and lunch at 
where we had celebrated after we had gotten engaged over 20 years ago! Then it was time to pick the kids up from camp. We made it just in time!