Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quick Homemade Pizza

In this house, ordering a pizza is always a multi-step process. First, there's deciding to have take-out instead of cooking. I always feel badly about ordering dinner when there's perfectly cookable food in the refrigerator, so this first step tends to take a while as I go back and forth. Once my laziness has conquered my guilt, there's the matter of deciding where to order. Somehow, despite only having about five take-away places near our house, this is always a lengthy conversation. After we've decided on pizza, it's a fifteen minute wait for pick-up. Then another 15 minutes after that to get the pizza home.

This recipe is quicker than all that. I don't think we've ordered a pizza since I've discovered this handy way of making it at home. And it almost goes without saying that homemade pizza is healthier and cheaper.

What makes this recipe quick is that the pizza dough is not given time to rise before baking. That said, this dough is not dense, nor does it like a biscuit (all those crusts in a can taste like biscuit to me). I cut the dough in half, freezing the other half. This gives me a crispy, thin crust, which is how I prefer my pizza. And I get a second pizza out of the deal. The sauce is a simple no-cook sauce that can be prepared at the same time as the crust. Sprinkle on some cheese and toppings, and dinner is done!

This pizza would probably be fabulous baked on a pizza stone. However, I use a pizza pan with holes, which I find works pretty well.


for the crust:
1 c warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 package yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 c bread flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

for the sauce:
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

1 (8 oz) bag shredded mozzarella cheese
toppings of choice

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. In the bowl for a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast foams. Add the flour, olive oil and salt to the yeast mixture. Using the bread hook, mix together ingredients on low speed. Once dough has come together, detach the bowl from your mixer, cover with a clean, dry towel and allow dough to rest for 5-10 minutes.

3. While the dough is resting, make the sauce. In a bowl, mix together tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, and seasonings. Taste and play around with the herbs and spices until it's at your liking.

4. Place dough ball on a lightly floured surface. Cut in half, and stick one half in a gallon freezer bag to freeze for later. Roll out to a size to fit your pizza pan or stone. Top with sauce, shredded mozzarella, and any desired toppings.

5. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Source: Allrecipes (crust) and Allrecipes (sauce)

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

This picture would have been cuter if Sundae would have agreed to wear the Santa hat I bought for her.

Christmas means many things to many people, but to me it means I'm done my holiday baking. Here's what I made for this year:

Oatmeal Cream Pies for my Grandpa
Lemon Crinkle Cookies for my Dad
New York Crumb Cake for my husband's Grandmom
Lighter Taco Dip for Christmas day appetizers
Easiest Ever Fudge because no holiday is complete without chocolatey snacks
Old Fashioned Dinner Rolls as requested by my aunt
Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies for my father in law
No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls for my in laws

And in my infinite wisdom, I decided to produce all this the day before Christmas, knowing we had to wake up super early the next day for an almost 3 hour drive to New Jersey. Planning is not my strong suit.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with great times, and great treats!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pretzel M&Ms Blondies

I love any recipe that gives me an excuse to buy candy. In this case, I had an excuse compelling reason for the purposes of research to try out pretzel m&ms. Pretzel m&ms have been around for a few years now, but I've stayed pretty loyal to my old favorite, peanut butter. But I'm glad I gave these a chance, because I really enjoyed how they worked inside the blondies. I love the combination of salty and sweet. I also appreciate that this recipe comes together fairly quickly and easily.


1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and then cooled
1 c light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 c (or more) pretzel m&ms

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 pan with foil.

2. Beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the salt. Gradually add in the flour. Stir in the m&ms.

3. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake. Place pan on a wire rack to cool for a bit. Pull out foil and then let cool completely. Cut into 16 squares.

Source: Bake at 350

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


In my family, stollen is a Christmas tradition. Every year, I would wake up the morning before Christmas to find my Dad pacing around the kitchen and peaking into the oven, yelling at the bread to hurry up and rise already. Every year. Ah, tradition.

Stollen is a century's old German fruit cake. The shape, an oval folded over, is meant to look like a swaddled baby Jesus. The German city of Dresden has laid claim to producing the one true "authentic" stollen, to the point of it's production being regulated. However, seeing as this is Pennsylvania, and not Dresden, I decided to use this stollen recipe I found on the internet instead. I don't know how authentic it is, but it's very tasty. My Dad has used probably a dozen different stollen recipes over the years, and I think this is the best one I've tasted. And in his experience, it's the one that gives him the best results and rises the quickest.

This stollen begins with a sponge which you then use to build the dough. Think of the sponge as a sort of "pre-dough" that you let rise a little before adding all the remaining ingredients. Stollen does seem to take a bit more time to rise than other bread doughs (Dad, I now feel your pain), but it's well worth it in the end. This bread has a cinnamon-sugar filling that I feel is optional. Before serving, be sure to sift on a thick layer of powdered sugar. Justify it as being snow, or something. But, of course, the best part of this bread is enjoying it on Christmas morning and sharing it with family and friends. :)


for the fruit mixture:
1 c mixed candied fruit
1 c raisins
3 tbsp rum

for the sponge:
1 .25oz package yeast
1/4 c warm water (about 110 degrees)
2/3 c milk
1 tsp honey
1 c flour (the original recipe calls for all-purpose, but I used bread)

for the dough:
1/3 c honey
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into chunks
1 tbsp lemon zest (I zested one lemon and called it a day)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c slivered or chopped almonds
3-4 c flour

for the filling (optional):
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp sugar

1. In a bowl, mix together the candied fruit and the raisins. Toss with the rum. Cover with plastic wrap and occasionally shake to coat the fruit with the rum.

2. Pour the warm water into the bowl for a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Heat the milk to 110 degrees (I do this by zapping it for a few seconds in the microwave). Pour the milk into the bowl. Add in the honey and 1 cup flour. Stir to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place. Let sponge rise for about 30 minutes. It should puff up and appear full of bubbles.

3. To the sponge, add the fruit mixture, 1/3 cup honey, butter, lemon zest, salt, nutmeg, almonds, and 2 cups of the flour. Using the paddle attachment for the stand mixture, mix on a medium low speed for about 2 minutes. It'll look more like a cookie dough than a bread dough at this point. In 1/4 cup intervals, add the remaining flour until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook. On low speed, use the dough hook to continue mixing together the dough, adding flour by the tablespoon until dough cleans the bowl. Once dough cleans the bowl, it has enough flour. Use the dough hook to knead the dough for 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Spray a large bowl with some non-stick cooking spray, or coat with vegetable oil. Place the dough ball in the bowl, and flip over so oil coats both sides. Cover bowl and place someplace warm. Let dough rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours.

5. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a clean counter top. Remove dough ball from bowl and place on the paper. Roll dough into a 9 x 13 inch oval. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted butter over the oval's surface. Mix together the cinnamon and 3 tablespoons sugar and sprinkle over the melted butter. Fold the dough in half lengthwise (the parchment paper really helps this step). Transfer the stollen, still on the paper, to a baking sheet. Cut any excess paper that doesn't fit the baking sheet. Cover the stollen with a dry, clean towel. Place somewhere warm and allow to rise again for about 45 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack. To serve, sift powdered sugar over top.

Source: Food Network

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday, Crazy Sweet Tuesday

Monday, December 19, 2011

Soft Gingerbread Cookies

The holiday season completely sneaked up on me out of nowhere, and I find myself utterly unprepared. Is it just me, or has Christmas come faster than usual this year? A week from Christmas and I have not decorated, put up a tree, or braved an over-crowded shopping mall. And I definitely have not been cranking out the Christmas cookies.

That said, I made sure I carved out some time this weekend to make these Soft Gingerbread Cookies. This is a recipe a family friend has used for decades. Every year, she would use it to make my younger brother the cutest advent calendar. She would wrap 24 of these cookies in plastic and attach them to a ribbon. My brother would then snack his way down to Christmas! These cookies stay remarkably soft day after day, so you can make these quite a bit in advance of when you'd need them. The spices in these are just right, and they have the perfect amount of sweetness. I'm sure Santa wouldn't mind gobbling a few up!


2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 c molasses

1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Set aside.

2. Cream together the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and then the molasses. In small batches, mix in the dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl between each batch. Refrigerate dough for about an hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on parchment, leaving plenty of room between them. Dip the bottom of a drinking glass into flour and shake off the excess. Press the drinking glass onto each dough ball to flatten them.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday, Crazy Sweet Tuesday

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cowboy Beans

I'd like to think I'm a decent cook. An advanced beginner, perhaps. But the one area where I really lack in inspiration and technique is side dishes. I tend to focus my energy on one main dish, after which I just want to slap it on the table and declare dinner to be done. I know that's bad. I'm working on it. Starting with this recipe.

These Cowboy Beans are an excellent side dish. Tasty, relatively quick to make, and inexpensive. What more could anyone want? I've also eaten this alone for lunch (I had to do something with my test batch), and, while I wouldn't call this dish heavy, necessarily, it's pretty hearty. I personally love beans, especially at this time of year with the weather getting cold. Beans make me think of Texas and places south where winter doesn't suck so hard. I find dishes like this incredibly warm and comforting.

The only real I change I made from the original recipe I used was to swap out chorizo and replace it with bacon. I did this because I thought it would be easier to use of the rest of a package of bacon as opposed to being left with a random amount of chorizo. And I really think the smokiness from the bacon worked well in this dish. These beans are not particularly spicy, so heat lovers might want to add the whole jalapeno.


2 slices bacon, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large tomato, diced
1 15oz can pinto beans, undrained
3/4 c water
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a 2-quart stockpot, cook the bacon over medium-high heat. Drain grease, leaving some behind to help cook the vegetables.

2. Turn down the heat to medium. Add onion to the bacon and cook until tender, or about 4 minutes. Add jalapeno and cook for another minute. Stir in the chili powder and oregano. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add in the tomato and heat through for about a minute. Add the can of pinto beans and water.

3. Bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Source: Food Network Magazine

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Potato Chip Dip

Whenever there's a holiday get-together, I usually find myself on appetizer duty, and I've had a lot of dip recipes on the brain as of late. Most of the dips I make are meant to be eaten with that master of multi-tasking, the tortilla chip. However, I got a request for a dip to accompany potato chips, which led me to this recipe. Potato chip dip recipes are surprisingly hard to find, and most involve some kind of soup packet. This recipe is similar to the familiar, pre-packaged french onion chip dip but with a fresher, nicer taste. Goat cheese is not usually my thing, but its tang is much appreciated in this dip. It's on the expensive side for an ingredient (I am no foodie), but if there were ever a time to splurge on dip-making materials, the holidays would be it.


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove
1 c sour cream
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 c chopped chives

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in the onion and season with some kosher salt. Cook the onion until it caramelizes and becomes soupy. This should take about 20 minutes.

2. Combine the caramelized onion, garlic clove, sour cream, goat cheese and chives in a food processor. Pulse until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Refrigerate dip for at least an hour before serving.

Source: Chow

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday