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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

KIds can cook... Pizza!

I'm working on getting my family to share in some of the cooking duties. One of our favorite family meals is no surprise... Home made Pizza! While I was out of town recently my 12 year old took it upon herself to make dinner one night, she chose pizza. Since I was not here to experience that meal so she made it again for us about a week ago.

She did a great job and it was delicious!

here is the Pizza dough recipe

You can personalize this dough easily. You can substitute 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for the all purpose.

Add Italian seasoning or garlic powder to taste. Start with about a teaspoon.

Oh and she made this one stuffed crust! We just split Mozzarella cheese sticks (like for snacking) into 4 pieces lengthwise then place around the edge and wrap the crust around it. You can use the whole stick or just split in half if you like but we try to not go too crazy since they are a bit spendy.

Other helpful tips...
Cornmeal it great for between your dough and pan. Helps the pizza crisp and release easily.

Use a fork to poke your dough all over before putting the sauce on.It helps the dough to not bubble up like crazy during cooking.

If you like super saucy pizza bake the dough for a few minutes before adding your sauce otherwise it may be doughy.

When adding veggies add them on to of the cheese and the wettest veggies should go on top so prevent sogginess.

Regular pizza Putz factor 2.5 / Stuffed crust is about a 3-3.5

Sunday, January 26, 2014

No School... Ahhh winter in MN

So school was called off last thursday because of cold . At my house it was -22 and that was before wind chill! Gotta love Minnesota!  So what to do, admittedly I'm not a very creative mom but we did have a couple treats. Strawberry Kool-aid and strawberry Jello. I know what you are thinking , doesn't sound so special but those are things I just don't serve very often. Lunch was  Mac n cheese. Dinner was chicken pot pie and apple crumble pie for desert. All home made:)

I never make the Mac n cheese exactly the same but basically what I do is cook some pasta noodles. while they are draining heat about 1/2 cup of milk in the pot the pasta was cooked in. Add some cheese. Totally depends on what I have on hand. Today I used 5 slices (like for sandwiches), a few slices of Velveeta type cheese (aldi brand) and about 1/3 cup monetary jack shredded cheese. For a bit of flavor (thanks to a suggestion from my 12 year old daughter) I add a little garlic powder and garlic salt, about 1/8th of a tsp of each. 
When its melted and smooth add the noodles and stir  it all up. Enjoy!

Just got the call that there is no school (again) tomorrow,  due to cold temps (again) and wind chill (Again) predicted down to -50. What to do with the kids? Ahhhh I am so NOT a creative mom when it comes to keeping them occupied and away from screen time when we are cooped up in the house.

Meal plan Jan 26th - Feb1st 2014

I'm working on meal planning again for many reasons...
1. My kids have after school activities 4 days a week
2. I'm working part time (which I love and am grateful for!)
3. I want to use my crock pot more due to the fact that my oven and stove are propane and the price of propane has skyrocketed here in the Midwest.

Sunday: Hungarian Goulash
Monday: Bacon and Cheese Chicken
Tuesday: Steak fajitas
Wednesday: Potato soup
Thursday: Tater tot hot dish (it's a MN thing!)
Friday: Sweet Garlic Chicken ( NEW! I saw this allover FB and want to try it!)
Saturday: Ravioli with Italian beef

All these recipes will be made in the Crockpot!

Here is the Steak Fajita recipe :)  Print

1/2 cup salsa
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pound of steak, trimmed of excess fat. Flank is good I generally use tenderized round (AKA cubbed steak)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips   (you can use all green peppers to save $!)
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro for garnish (dried is OK too)

In a small mixing bowl, combine salsa, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper. Place flank steak in a 4-5 quart slow cooker and pour sauce over steak, making sure to coat steak well. Add bell peppers and onion. Cover and cook on low heat setting 6 to 8 hours (OR on high heat setting 3 to 4 hours).

Remove steak and vegetables from juice and let steak stand 10 minutes before slicing. Slice steak thinly across grain of meat. Serve with peppers and onion. Garnish with fresh cilantro and your favorite toppings.
If you want more heat use a spicier salsa or add diced Jalapeños.

This is great with guacamole or a Mango Salsa!
For more tender meat place your beef on the counter for about an hour before adding to crock pot. I'm not sure why this works but it does for me.

I highly recommend cooking this on Low Vs. High!

My favorite Guacamole (that my husband will eat!)

1 ripe avocado mashed
1-2 Tablespoons finely diced red onion
1 Teaspoon lime juice or to taste
salt to taste
cilantro to taste 1/2 Teaspoon dried or 1 teaspoon diced fresh
1 roma tomato diced (optional)  I do not add this when the Hubby is sharing :)
1 diced Jalapeño (optional) I do not normally add this for myself.

If a recipe does not have a link either it is new, I do not have it typed up yet or its a recipe i never do the same way twice :) It's just how I roll...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bread

* UPDATE *  I have made this 4-5 times now and you really do need to weigh the ingredients! The results are MUCH better!

Isn't it funny what can result from looking up info online? I was looking for tips on freezing bread dough and I ran across this awesome bread cooking forum called The fresh loaf. There I found wonderful advice, tips and yup recipes!

I have also been thinking it would be nice to have something easy and warm for breakfasts and something I could take to work that was also a bit healthier than a bagel. This bread looked like it would fit the bill by still being a bit indulgent but also being an OK food choice.

Looking at the recipe the first time I admit I was a bit apprehensive. It looked complicated. I was pleasantly surprised that while it took a bit more time than my favorite sandwich bread it was not too bad at all (at least as far as bread is concerned)

Here is a link directly to the recipe cinnamon raisin oatmeal bread

It is helpful to have a kitchen scale. Any serious baker will tell you it is better to weigh ingredients for baking. (I invested in a scale over the holidays when Aldi had them for $9.99).

Do not be like me... I did not read the directions fully and did not measure the water I soaked my oats in OOPS!!! Luckily it worked out OK... Phew...

Also after reading other peoples experience I only did 2 rise cycles. My first rise took some time. A few hours. Then I kneaded the dough and made it into 2 loaves. Yes the recipe calls for making 3 but I have larger stoneware loaf pans so I was pretty sure it would be fine. If you are using Pyrex bread pans definitely do 3! Or make rolls as another poster on the forum did. I will do that next time to try it out!

Next time I make this I will also slightly warm the water I use to soak my Oats. I think this may have hindered my rise a bit. Although a slower rise can create more flavor.  I was also a bit short on raisins but It was still fine.More would definitely be better though!

If you have NO experience with dough this would probably not be my choice for your first bread endeavor. It does take a bit of knowledge and experience to get a "feel" for if a dough is going to work out. If you have mixed and kneaded at least a few loaves successfully you should be fine :)

If you decide to give this a try hopefully this is what you will end up with... Enjoy!

Mmmmmm... Lots of melty butter to make it extra yummy!