Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Written in February 2008:

This week I got around to making pizza on the stone and it was fantastic! It makes me think about making pizza every week but I am sure we would get sick of it....or would we? I top our pizza Chicago style even though the dough is a thinner crust instead of a thick crust like most Chicago style pizza's. I made 2 pizzas one veggie and the other with meat. It was nice to eat left over pizza for lunch.

Whole Wheat Herb Pizza Dough
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Place all ingredients in the bread machine in order used by machine. Run on dough cycle.

Removing the dough from the machine form the dough into a ball and place into a bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap coated lightly with cooking spray or a dish towel and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to overnight rise.

Remove the bowl from the refrigerator about one hour prior to making the pizza. Set the bottom oven rack to its lowest position and preheat the oven to 400° F for at least 30 minutes before baking. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 balls of dough for 2 smaller/thinner crust or leave whole to make one large/thick crust. Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin. Since this is whole wheat it sometimes wants to snap back instead of rolling out. Let it rest for a bit and then try it again. Drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size place on pan or pizza stone and add desired toppings.

From crust up I layer: cheese usually a combination of mozzarella, ramono and parmesan cheese, then meats and veggies, crushed tomatoes, herbs and a light sprinkle of cheese again.

Here is a good link about Pizza Stone's since I had never used one I thought I better read up on them.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Book: Natural Cleaning for Your Home

Natural Cleaning for Your Home: 95 Pure and Simple Recipes by Casey Kellar

I think the book is put together nicely with photographs and recipes for natural cleaning. But I was mostly disappointed with the natural cleaning recipes the author offered. There were some good alternatives to using store bought harmful chemicals, but she used some harsh chemicals to me and not a natural cleaning supply. Again good alternatives to Fantastik, Windex or the likes. But ammonia and bleach aren't natural and are harmful chemicals. The author's alternatives to what we can get in the supermarket would be considerably cheaper though even with ammonia or bleach being used in some recipes.

Other things I didn't like : there weren't enough recipes, she used things that really aren't easy to come by in a smaller town and some of the instructions weren't clear or as descriptive in use as I would have liked.

The book did give me some recipes that I hadn't heard of before and want to try. So it was worth checking out from the library just not owning.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cleaning the Microwave

After food has splattered in the microwave, it can be hard to clean up. Just heat 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of water in a cup or bowl in the microwave. This will loosen splattered on food and deodorize. I let it sit for about 3 to 5 minutes letting the steam loosen the splatters but also allows for the water to cool down. I then take the vinegar/water mixture and moisten a rag or sponge to wipe the inside down.

Also if you have had burnt popcorn smell in the microwave doing, microwaving the same mixture will remove the odor.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The recipe:
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl cream at medium speed butter, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Scraping sides of bowl occasionally. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture until well blended. Refrigerate dough 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon. form dough into balls (walnut sized) and roll in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Place 2" apart on baking sheet. Bake about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool on rack. Snickerdoodles will puff up at first and then flatten out during baking.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Book: Speed Cleaning

I read Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell. It is a great concept for cleaning the house quickly, but also quite thoroughly. The methods make sense. Pick up this book if you want instructions as to how to quickly do a basic weekly cleaning of your home. He teaches how to clean well and how to clean as efficiently as possible (just not sure I agree they are totally efficient).

Things I didn't like about the book:

I didn't like that he pushed his products and certain cleaners so much. He even said that the vinegar/baking soda -- natural type cleaners don't work as well and I really don't agree with that.

I didn't like that he sometimes just said to do things his way because he said so -- and didn't give reason why it was more efficient/better.

I didn't like that he said don't clean things that you can't see. Just because I can't see it doesn't mean I shouldn't clean it. Dust, bacteria, germs can still build up on areas you don't see.

I think if you don't feel you clean well, don't have time to clean or just need a new way to clean - then pick up the book. It is worth the read. I don't think the methods need to be followed strictly -- take what will help out and ignore the rest.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bread Machine: Potato Herb Rolls

1 C. plus 2 tablespoons water (70 to 80°F.)
2 T. olive oil
1 t. salt
2 t. dried herbs -- I use more then that and use garlic powder, onion powder, basil and oregano
3 C. bread flour
1/2 C. instant potato flakes or buds
2 T. nonfat dry milk
1 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. bread machine yeast

1 egg, lightly beaten

To make dough: Measure all dough ingredients into bread machine pan in the order suggested by manufacturer, adding potato flakes with flour. Process on dough/manual cycle.

When cycle is complete, remove dough to floured surface. If necessary knead in additional flour to make dough easy to handle. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece to 10-inch rope; coil each rope and tuck end under coil. Place rolls 2 inches apart on large greased baking sheet. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.

To Top:
Brush tops with egg; sprinkle with sesame seed (optional). Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

Note: Dough can be prepared in 1 1/2 and 2-pound bread machines.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How to Shape Dinner Rolls

I have dough in the bread machine for herb potato rolls and I wanted another way to shape them then my usual way. I found these sites:


Cook Illustrated - this is a pdf - but really good source!

Prepared Pantry

And this site only shows one way to shape them but I think it is a good basic one (what I usually do).

Fine Cooking

***photo of the rolls I made -- I did 2 different shapes a double knot and then just a kind of single loop but only double knots showing in this picture

Monday, July 7, 2008

Biscuit Muffins

Biscuit Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cardamom or ground nutmeg (I used cardamom as I am always looking for recipes with it in it)
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoon butter, cold and unsalted, and cut into small pieces
1 cup cold buttermilk
1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the cups of a standard muffin tin.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, nutmeg, and salt. Distribute the butter over the flour mixture, and with a fork, or an electric mixer, work in the butter until coarse crumbs are created.

Pour in the buttermilk, and mix using low speed with a mixer, or a fork, until dough forms a sticky mass, about 30 seconds. Do not overmix, you are just letting the dough come together.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Dump the dough out, sprinkle the top with flour, and knead gently, 6-8 times. The dough should remain soft and sticky. Cut the dough into 12 equal portions, and place in greased muffin cups.

Sprinkle with sugar, and bake 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove pan from oven, and transfer muffins to cooling rack to cool for a few minutes before serving.

***I use powdered buttermilk and they came out great! I just made sure the water was really cold and added the powder with the flour mixture.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Book: Bread for Breakfast

Bread for Breakfast by Beth Hensperger

I love to read cookbooks. I get into bed under the covers and read them just like I would any other book. And I like to cook. So I sit, go over the ingredients, thinking of them as if I would be mixing up the dough for the breads of this book. This book had many recipes that I would make. I have only made two so far (and both were delicious) but would like to try a few more before returning it to the library. It will be a book I put on my wish list too. It had very easy quick breads to breads ...more I love to read cookbooks. I get into bed under the covers and read them just like I would any other book. And I like to cook. So I sit, go over the ingredients, thinking of them as if I would be mixing up the dough for the breads of this book. This book had many recipes that I would make. I have only made two so far (and both were delicious) but would like to try a few more before returning it to the library. It will be a book I put on my wish list too. It had very easy quick breads to breads that require a little more time and then delicious looking coffee cakes to eat when gathering with friends. Plus some recipes that use bread but are the perfect Sunday breakfast/brunch recipes. I really want to try out each recipe out. The book also has little stories or antidotes with each recipe. And tips also. Good to read and delicious recipes to make!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Vanilla Crumb Cake

Makes one 10-inch round coffee cake

Crumb Top
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter - cut into small pieces (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)

Cake Batter
6 tablespoons unsalted butter - softened (3/4 stick so basically the rest of what was left after the crumb topping)
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cake flour - unsifted
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream (not fat reduced)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for a dark-finish pan). Line a 10-inch springform pan with parchment, grease the bottom and sides and set aside.

To make the crumb top, in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar; and cinnamon. Cut in the vanilla and cold butter on low speed until coarse dry crumbs are formed. Pour into a small bowl and set aside. If not using immediately, refrigerate until needed.

To make the cake batter, without cleaning the mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract and beat well on medium speed for 30 seconds. The mixture will be loose. Add the flour; cinnamon, baking powder; baking soda, and salt and beat on low speed for 15 seconds. Add the sour cream and beat on medium-high speed only until the lumps smooth out and the mixture looks fluffy, about 30 seconds on medium-high speed. Do not overbeat.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared springform pan. Sprinkle the top evenly with the crumb topping. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the top is crisp and feels firm when gently touched in the center; the cake separates slightly from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean (it may be a bit moist; that's okay). Do not overbake, or the cake will be dry.

Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving warm, or cover in plastic wrap to serve later at room temperature.

Store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

I made this in a 9x9 square glass cake pan and it worked fine. I have done it in the springform pan and presentation is nice - by cutting into wedges, but works fine in a 9x9 square cake pan too.


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