Friday, November 4, 2011

PIzza Bake Surprise

Yes, I do realize that this is my second post in a row about pizza.  I also realize it's been a while since I've posted - that's just how I roll! This recipe came about by complete accident, amazing how sometimes those are the best!

I picked up a spaghetti squash at a local produce market and wanted to do something different than just serve it with pasta. The extra challenge in this is that I have an 11 year old who swears he hates squash and a 35 year old who isn't always crazy about it either! Since I always have pepperoni and mozzarella cheese on hand I decided to incorporate those.


Fortunately it turned out amazing! I just called it a pizza bake and no one was the wiser, though I did let my hubby know.  The proclaimed squash hater practically licked his plate!  I did tell him after he cleaned his plate that it was squash, initially he made a big deal that he didn't really like it but the truth finally came out - he did enjoy it! He even helped me make it again so I could blog it, and licked the bowl!

Here is what you will need to make it
Pasta sauce (about 1/2 a jar), spaghetti squash, mozzarella cheese (2 1/2 cups), pepperoni (6 oz), and cream cheese (1/2 block).

I start by cooking the squash, if you have never cooked one it is pretty simple. I do it in the microwave, but it can also be done in a pot of boiling water or in the oven. I use my Tupperware cooker and add about 1/4 inch of water and microwave it for about 10-12 minutes. Before microwaving or baking it in the oven, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.


After cooking, let it cool enough that you can handle it easily but don't let it get too cool. Scoop out the squash and put into a clean bowl. At this point I sprinkle fresh ground pepper and kosher salt on it.


Cut the 1/2 block of cream cheese into smaller pieces and mix into the squash, it will melt with the heat of the squash and become creamy. Add in the sauce and some of the pepperoni until it is well mixed. Pour into a baking dish - 8x8 or 9x9 is about right. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top, then lay pepperoni over the top. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 until the cheese is well melted and the casserole heated through. You will be rewarded with something that looks like this:


Beautiful! From the side it looks like this.


There you have it, Pizza Bake Surprise! Obviously the surprise is that it is made of squash! This is going to become a regular on our menu rotation!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pizza Night

As promised I am posting our family pizza recipe!  We make pizza once a week at our house, generally on our family movie nights.  Tonight was not movie night, but I wanted to post the recipe so we had pizza! We pretty much always have pepperoni as that  is what makes everyone happy.

We start with the crust, we fell in love with this Valentino's Pizza Crust Recipe that we found on allrecipes.com. The beauty of this crust is that even though it is a yeast dough you don't have to wait forever to let it rise, only a 10 minute rest!

Valentino's Pizza Crust

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Stir water, sugar and yeast together until dissolved. Add the olive oil and the salt. Stir in the flour until well blended. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Pat dough into pan or on to a pizza stone using fingers dipped in olive oil. If desired sprinkle basil, thyme or other seasonings on crust. Top with your favorite pizza toppings and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven.

We always use a pizza stone and I cover it in parchment paper - it keeps the pizza from sticking without the use of cornmeal. As an added bonus, clean up involves me throwing away the parchment paper and putting the stone away. It is important to use your hands to spread the dough and not a rolling pin, it will affect the texture of your dough.


While the dough is resting, gather your ingredients for the sauce. Although I recommend remembering the sugar - I completely spaced it for the picture!


Bill's Pizza Sauce


Ingredients

   *15 oz can Hunt's tomato sauce (you can use other brands but we don't promise it will be as awesome)
   *1 Tablespoon dried Oregano
   *2 cloves Garlic minced (we use our garlic press - super easy!)
   *2 teaspoons dried Basil
   *1 Tablespoon minced dried Onion
   *1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Mix all ingredients in glass microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 90 seconds, stir well. Microwave for another 90 seconds, stir.


After the dough has rested and you have pressed it out onto the pizza stone,  spread the sauce on as light or heavy as you desire. We top ours with 2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella and 4 ounces of pepperoni. Looks like this before heading into the oven:

I trim the parchment close to the stone so that in my clumsiness I don't pull on it and make a mess. In our oven 15 minutes is the perfect baking time, you will have to keep a watch on it and find out what works for you. Now for the most important part, using the leftover pepperoni and sauce make what we call "special snack". Take one or two of the pepperoni and dip them in the sauce,  we can't make pizza without having special snack, the boys just love it!


Mmmm good! Once your pizza is done, carefully remove it from the oven (says the one who is accident prone) and let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into it. You should be rewarded with a beautiful pizza that tastes fantastic!


I would love to know if anyone tries these recipes and how you like them! Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Get a job! Wait, another one??

For a couple weeks I have had this post on my mind.  I have been looking forward to this time in my life for a while, BOTH of my boys are in school all day! I love my boys and I am SO thankful that I get to stay home with them, however the 2 of them don't always get along so well and it is so lovely to have peace & quiet during the day now!

When people would discover that both boys would be in school all day I would get one of two responses:
1: What are you going to do with ALL that time?  (Generally these were not people who had seen the inside of my house)
2: Oh, so now it's time to get a job!

First of all, as my grandma would say "A woman's work is never done"! She was so right, there is ALWAYS something that needs done or someone that needs something!  With all this time I now have my plan is keep my house tidied up, laundry kept up, get some organization done, canning, working at the farm, reading, crafting, spending time with my mom and making our home an inviting place to be!

As for the second response, I still have a job! I will always have this job and it will always be an important one! I will be home for my boys after school to help with homework or offer comfort after a bad day or a listening ear on a good day and some days I will even offer cookies & milk.  It also allows me to help out my friends & family by watching a kiddo or going to a Dr appt with someone or one of so many other things I can do with my time.

At first it really frustrated me when folks would suggest I needed a job, but after mulling it over for a while I realize that I am doing just exactly what I'm supposed to be doing right now! I am thankful to be where I am and I love my job!

In the next week I hope to share some of my farm girl adventures because it has sure been a week full of them! Still planning on getting our pizza recipe up soon also.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Creamy Dreamy Ice Cream

I love to cook & bake. I am going to try to blog one recipe a week, we have so many favorites that I want to make sure I get them shared!

We have had a ridiculously hot summer here in the Midwest. One of our favorite ways to cool off is with a little bit of ice cream! I have borrowed my mom's Cuisinart automatic ice cream maker, and in playing with it I accidentally created a simple but amazingly creamy ice cream! The one thing that we have not been crazy about with most quick & easy ice cream recipes is that they are not creamy,  and do not freeze well.  I was going  through my pantry one day and saw a can of fat free sweetened condensed milk and I thought, hmmm I bet I could make ice cream using this - I was right!  This has to be the easiest thing I've ever made!

Karla's Easy Creamy Ice Cream

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk (fat free or regular, both work well) - Refrigerated
1 pint half & half
1 teaspoon Mexican Vanilla (if you don't have Mexican Vanilla you can use regular vanilla but it won't be nearly as awesome)

Make sure the half & half and Condensed Milk are good and cold. Mix all 3 ingredients together before pouring into ice cream machine. Gently pour into machine, wait 25-30 min and ta-da you have perfectly delicious ice cream! This can also be put into a container and stored in the freezer to have later!




It can also be served alongside a delectable brownie! Want that recipe also? Ok, go to your grocery store, pick up a Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix, bake as directed.  I have yet to bake brownies from scratch that even come close to how fantastic these are.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and please let me know if you make it! Next week I plan on sharing our favorite pizza dough recipe and my husband's awesome pizza sauce recipe, we use both every week on Pizza & Movie night at our house!

I have a ton of coupons to clip and I am going to switch out my coupon binder and re-organize a bit! What can I say I am just a party waiting to happen!! Have a Fabulous Monday!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cuke-tastic!

We LOVE cucumbers.  Love to eat them, love to grow them, sometimes we even love to share them.  It is possible we went a little crazy planting cukes this year. Then with all this heat there was the concern that it would kill them. Here is a picture I took last night of the garden, obviously they have survived the heat!


 There are about a dozen mounds of cucumbers here with an average of 3 plants per mound. We are finally having to pick on a daily basis, which means soon I will be able to start pickling!  Until then we are eating the ones daily that we are picking.

One of my kids' favorites is a "Cucumber Boat" they will literally eat this every day.  It is something I came up with last year when we were drowning in cukes. Take a little of the peel off (makes it a little easier for kids to eat), scoop out the seeds inside - I usually eat these or share them with another family member who loves them, and scoop in some cottage cheese, I also usually sprinkle Nature's Seasons on it.  Ta - da, Cucumber Boats!


Does anyone else sense Larry's nervousness?  I could not resist the photo op on the Veggie Tales plate!  I mentioned another member of our family who also loves cucumbers, it is our sweet Runey. This dog goes crazy for veggies, especially cukes! If I am in the kitchen chopping up vegetables I will look down to see this:


It is almost as if she is saying "I can haz cucumber?", being the softie I am I do tend to share with her.  She will sit at the line between the kitchen & dining room and watch me the entire time I am working with vegetables.

My boys love cucumber boats (who am I kidding, so do I!), the dog loves cucumber scraps but the thing I love most is cucumbers & buttermilk. It is something I have had for years, I particularly remember sitting at Grandma's table and having it with cukes from Grandpa's garden. The tanginess of the buttermilk and the crunch of the cucumber is just a combo I can't seem to get enough of in the summer! The fact that it is super easy to fix is just a bonus! Chop up some cucumber, put it in a bowl, sprinkle with Nature's Seasons and pour buttermilk over it!  Yum!


I'll bet you didn't know that cucumbers are this awesome! Well, they are! I can't wait to start canning some, I made a bunch of dill pickles last year and they were a huge hit.

In other news, school starts in a week! I am quite excited as this will be the first year that both boys will be in school all day, 5 days a week. I have so many things I hope to get done during those hours alone. However, I imagine the first week will just be me enjoying some peace & quiet!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Just keep pinning, just keep pinning...

     If you didn't read the title like Dorie singing "Just keep swimming" you need to go back and do that now. Ok, now that I have that stuck in your head (you're welcome!) you are probably wondering what on Earth I mean by pinning. Unless you have already discovered Pinterest, then you know EXACTLY what I am talking about!

    The first time I checked it out I really thought it was just meh.  However,  then I started really delving into it and checking out other people's "pinboards" and I got sucked in!  I love that I can sort things however I choose! Before I started using Pinterest I would just bookmark sites either on the desktop or on the laptop.  Problems would arise when I forget what I bookmarked where!  Using Pinterest fixes that for me as I can access it from any computer,  and it keeps things organized! 

     I still don't have all the categories like I want them but I keep tweaking it a little more and eventually it will be exactly what I want! Currently most of the things I have on there are things I can make either baking or crafting! If you haven't checked it out, you definitely should - but I will warn you that it can be VERY addictive!  Here is the link again: Pinterest.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I am a Wanna Be Farm Girl

Now I am not a sissy and generally not afraid of critters. However, I am pretty sure a REAL Farm Girl would not have shrieked as I did at the sight of this:




Yep, that little thing scared the living daylights out of me!!  Obviously I'm going to have to work on that fear of snakes if I'm going to be a real Farm Girl someday.

I am getting the hang of the gardening thing though. My parents & I planted a good size garden out on our land this year. It is SO much work but it is also so very worth it! We had some fantastic onions and may do more if the weather ever cools off. We also had red & gold potatoes, they have all been dug up but not yet used up. I have made some into frozen hashbrowns and also froze some in cubes for potato salad, a favorite around here! Currently in the garden we have some beautiful cucumber plants that are just beginning to produce, in fact I picked the first one last night!



It was delicious! Nothing better than fresh from the garden veggies! Soon we will also have bell peppers, we have 3 large plants and another 5 that are smaller and struggling a bit in this heat. I was excited to see these last night also!


We have a ridiculous number of tomato plants, I think somewhere around 30, good thing we love maters huh? Gardening has really brought out my inner Farm Girl as I have enjoyed working the ground and seeing the amazing results of the work we put in! My oldest has also been a great help with the garden and is turning into quite the Farm Boy, in particular he is a great donkey wrangler.  What is a donkey wrangler? Someone who has the ability to get these naughty little donkeys (say that in a bad British accent - it's much more fun) back into their pen after they have been out grazing.

The darker one is Boomer, he is the naughtiest of the two. The lighter one is Tanner and he is much more of a lover and more inclined to obey. Tanner will often come up to me and push his nose against my leg hinting that he wants some love! I was wishing for my donkey wrangler the other day when I spent an hour trying to coerce these little donks to get back in their pen. It was probably already 100 degrees out and I was running after donkeys, not a good combo. Needless to say I haven't let them out to graze since then!

We have had so many triple digit days here already and scheduled for several more yet and no rain in sight, things are drying up left & right. Including ponds. Including our pond. We had to try to rescue as many fish as we could before it completely dried up and we were able to save a lot of beautiful catfish, bluegills and some bass. It is just heartbreaking though to now see that pond empty. That pond where my grandma taught me to fish, where we had many picnics, celebrated my oldest son's first birthday, and so many other memories. I am thankful for all the wonderful memories I have, and that those won't dry up in this heat!

Maybe some day I will be able to call myself a real Farm Girl, but for now I am perfectly happy being a Wanna Be!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Try, try again

     I have really been longing to get back to blogging.  However, the blog I used to write was based more on just cake decorating and crafts but I am no longer doing cakes.  I wanted a fresh start so here I am!  I plan on blogging about crafting, cooking, baking, gardening, being a mom, and anything else I might do in a day!

     As much as I would like to write more tonight I still have 2 beds to make and laundry to put away.  Such a glamorous life I live!