Wednesday, July 31, 2013

French Bread Pizza

I like quick meals for when we are especially busy. This year has been non-stop going. Really I think we have been home about 5 weeks total out since the end of the February. It helps me not feel so guilty when I actually sit and think about it like that, because otherwise I start beating myself up about how I haven't been cooking anything new or really in depth.

One of my favorite quick meals is French Bread Pizza, because it is really versatile and so easy! I will give you the basic recipe and then give you lots of topping ideas as wells as tips to make it even more easy and quick at the end.

1 loaf of French Bread (about 18 to 20 inches long)
Desired Seasonings
Desired Topping

  1. Preheat oven to 425. 
  2. Slice French Bread in half - length-wise. 
  3. Spread with sauce. 
  4. Top with  desired seasonings, cheese, and desired toppings. 
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. 
  6. Let cool for a few minutes and then slice into big pieces (4 per half)  or smaller skinny slices for a party food. 
Topping Ideas:
Sauce Our favorite sauce isn't really sauce, but just a small can of tomato paste.  A small can willl cover both halves of the French Bread.  Other sauce ideas that I have used before: small can of tomato sauce, store bought pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce, homemade spaghetti sauce, crushed tomatoes with the liquid drained, a white sauce such as Alfredo or BBQ

Desired Seasonings: If you aren't using a pizza or spaghetti sauce, you might need some seasonings these are my favorite that I add on top of the sauce: A seasoning mix such as Penzeys (which is what I use) or Italian seasoning mix, oregeno, basil, or garlic powder or salt, onion powder or salt, red pepper flakes

Cheese Mozzarella, colby/jack mix, Asiago, Parmesan, Romano, feta, provolone

Meat: Pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon, ham, ground beef, chorizo, chicken, prosciutto, shrimp
Vegetables:  Mushrooms, onions, red peppers, tomatoes, artichokes, green peppers, green onions, jalapenos or green chilies, spinach, cherry tomatoes, olives, banana peppers, sweet corn
Other: Pineapple chunks, black beans, fresh basil, garlic,capers

Pizza Ideas:
Our Favorite:  Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, Black Olive, Red peppers and Onions with Colby/Jack Cheese and Provolone

2nd Favorite: Chicken, fresh basil, sliced tomatoes and with really any cheese and red or white sauce

Southwest:  Chicken and/or Chirizo, black beans, spinach, corn, jaapenos or green chilies and topped with colby/jack cheese

Sweet and Sour:  Pineapple and ham

BBQ:  BBQ Sauce,  chicken, onions, bacon, and colby/jack cheese.

* Buy French Bread loaves and on day old bread racks at the grocery store.
* Put loaves in freezer and pull out just an hour or 2 before going to make pizza or make up pizzas with toppings and then wrap for freezer. Store in freezer until ready to put in oven and increase cook time by adding 5 or 10 more minutes.  I sometimes take  it out 15 to 30 mins before cooking and that seems to make cook time be closer to the orginial 10 minutes in the basic recipe. 
* It is really good party food - just slice into thin slices to feed a larger group.
* I like serving with a salad as a side, but good just making them and eating straight out of the oven without a side. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cleaning Suitcases

I am sure if you are a regular reader of Domestic Servitude that you will have noticed that this year has lacked posts.  Master's job has a lot more traveling to it and I am blessed that I get to go along. But with that comes lots of packing, unpacking and repacking. 

When we come home from a trip, I unpack and get ready to do laundry, but I also have a little cleaning I do to the bags we use on our trips.  If I get to thinking about it too much, I can become a germophobe, but thinking about where our suitcases have been has had countless other people who might not be as clean does sometimes get under my skin.  So when I come home, I take my homemade cleaner of tea tree oil, vinegar, liquid soap and water and spray the inside and outside of all our bags. If I use totes that are washable, I throw them into the washer. But suitcases and other travel bags such as our laundry bag aren't washable. So I spray them with the homemade cleaner as it has disinfecting properties in it. I also take a cloth that I wet with the hottest water I can stand to hold and wipe down the interior as well as exterior of our suitcase including the rolling wheels and handles. Making sure to get into crevices. I let them air dry. Also you might want to test a spot before wiping down with a cloth with hot water on it as it can fade some. 

Why do I go through all this trouble? Well, I want you to just think about this for a moment and maybe it won't bother you - but I know it bothers me. When we come home, we often threw our suitcase up on the bed.  Now if you have been to a hotel that ends up having bed now have potentially just passed on to your bed.So another suggestion is not to throw your suitcase on the bed, but to unpack in a bathroom or laundry room. I like to put on top of the washer and dryer and start sorting clothes right away in there. Then I can clean it easily in there also and let it air dry. 

*Photo is taken in our bedroom as the light and space to take a photo in our laundry room is horrible.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Traveling Food

I have mentioned that we have been traveling a lot.  I had been losing some weight, but with all our traveling and eating out, I stalled. I haven't gained any thankfully, but I haven't lost any either.  

Here are some things I am doing to help with food while traveling as eating out every meal costs quite a bit as well as not being very healthy.  When we travel, I always pack a cooler. We almost always stay in a hotel that has a mini-fridge too which always is a great asset when traveling. But even if we don't get one we have the cooler. I have those ice bricks and love them as they keep the food colder longer than ice cubes. I like that I can put those bricks into the mini-fridge - freezer section to have frozen and ready for our return trip.

So this is what I pack when traveling....

I pack small snack size ziplocks with grapes, sliced/cubed cheese or string cheese, pickles, baby carrots, baby peppers, or sliced peppers. I then take those little bags and put in a bigger ziplock, so that I just don't have lots of little bags floating around the ice. I put little containers of ranch dressing or bean dip to dunk veggies.  I bring other fruit with us - bananas and apples with us too.  Make sure you wash all fruits and veggies before you go so you can eat in the car easily.

Other traveling snacks I pack at times are trail mix or crackers that I put in snack size ziplocks for portion control as welly as just easier to have a little bag then a box or bigger bag. For something sweet, I will make cookies or bars so that we aren't picking up candy bar or other sweet treats.  Sometimes of course we indulge as our area doesn't have Dunkin Donuts so when in a town that has one we usually do part take in the puffy pillows of goodness. 

For breakfasts, I add some containers of yogurt to the cooler and bake some muffins. I also try to make at least the first day of travel meals - lunch and dinner - if not a couple of lunches. Such as packing sandwich/wrap makings - bread/tortilla shells and lunch meat, slices of tomato, spinach or lettuce.  If  I am just planning for one lunch/dinner then I will make up sandwiches for us knowing they will be ate that day.  I sometimes make a pasta salad or garden salad with some shredded chicken to top it as alternative.  (Extra little tip - if I bring wrap ingredients a quick easy lunch or snack is also using some bean dip/hummus, sliced peppers, tomatoes and spinach on a tortillas. Yums!)

When packing, I also remember to pack silverware including a knife that will cut apples or bread if needed, paper plates, paper towels, baby wipes for sticky fingers, and condiments. I try to keep it down to one salad dressing we both like and one condiment such as Dijon so that I am not having the cooler overloaded with things we will use so little of on the trip.   (Extra tip: We have a Sprouts here, but I am pretty sure Whole Foods has them too, but they sell the little almond and healthy Nutella spread in little condiment size packages like you get ketchup in when eating fast food - really nice for apples or crackers on the road.)

We always buy a case of bottled water - to keep hydrated during this hot hot summer and to discourage us from stopping from soda as much. When you pack your silverware, you might throw in a corkscrew also. Sometimes picking up a bottle of wine on the road especially an area that has local wineries is always a nice treat while in a hotel room after a long day of being on the road. 

Really, I know that has to be other stuff that could be easily packed and used for trips....please feel free to share your tips!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Extra Plastic Bag Storage Tip

I have a long tube like storage that hangs in the pantry for plastic bags. It is one that you shove the bags in one end and pull them out on the other end.  But sometime that fills up. We re-use  plastic bags for emptying cat litter as well as many other uses so I like having as many around and just like the thought of reusing them.

I have 4 empty tissue boxes that I now keep around and stuff with any extras.  I really like having them around because they are easy to tote.  Places I use them:
  • When deep cleaning, I bring a box into the room I am cleaning and start making bags for donate, toss, stuff that needs moved to another room and just general stuff I need to organize better. Those things put in the appropriate bag and then I sit down and organize it better after the room is clean or at an appropriate time such as before I am heading to Goodwill.  But just having a box of these to pull from instead of having several loose bags around the room until I use them makes things just easier and neater.
  • When we travel, I love putting a box in the car to use for trash sacks or for overflow if a suitcase or travel bag  is getting over packed/stuffed - then I have extra sacks to use to hold things. 
  • When cleaning outside or cleaning the car, I bring them for trash.


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