Archive for the ‘Baking/Cooking’ Category

Tonight was taco night, another attempt at making a delish flour taco. We are definitely getting closer. We used a Sopapilla recipe from Allrecipes.com. It’s the same one we used last time. We also got a spider skimmer to fry with. This was a lot easier than using the tongs last time. It helped to keep the tacos closed and the meat from falling out. Feeling lazy tonight so all you get are pics 🙂


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First grilled burger for the year…so happy.

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The special!? Homemade Deep Dish!

Yeast has always been something I stayed away from while baking. After a few really really dry and not so yummy tea rings, I haven’t baked with the stuff in years. These tea rings, btw, when made by my mother in law are amazing!

At first we were going to try the Lou Malnati’s recipe from the Food Network. We had their pizza when we want to Chicago a few years back and thought it was really good. Our attempt at making it…really bad. The ingredients were listed by weight, and we don’t have a food scale. Google didn’t help us much when trying to convert to cups, tablespoons, etc. My poor KitchenAid never worked so hard in her life! The dough was so dry it wouldn’t even form a ball. The dough ended up in the trash. After a little more research online I finally found something that would work. Here is the recipe I used for the crust:

Deep Dish Pizza Crust (adapted from Pizzeria Uno Chicago recipe on Food.com)

  • 1 cup of warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 1 package of yeast (1/4 oz)
  • 3 cups of bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of cornmeal for the pan

Combine all the ingredients, except for the cornmeal, in your mixer and mix on low until all combined. I used my dough hook. Then increase the speed to medium and let it mix for a few minutes until a nice dough ball forms and its smooth and elastic. I placed my dough in a glass bowl that I had greased with a drizzle of olive oil. I then covered with plastic wrap and let it rise for 45 minutes. It doubled in size.

You can use your favorite toppings.

We went with:

  • Mozzarella
  • Pepperoni
  • Grazianos Sausage (local and delish!)
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Sauce
  • Parmesan

Once your dough is done rising, punch it down in the middle. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Put a drizzle of olive oil in a pan and wipe it all around with a paper towel. Remember to go all the way up the sides. Sprinkle the cornmeal on the grease pan. We actually only used ½ our dough for the pizza.

Once you have your dough pressed into the pan, start layering your toppings. Traditionally I think deep dish pizzas always have the cheese on the bottom, so that’s where we started.

Once that is done, pop it in the oven on the middle rack, bake for about 15 minutes at 450, and then drop temperature down to 400. Ours baked for about 30-35 minutes.

Will we be making it again? For sure! We had a lot of ‘juice’ in ours, we think it was from our mushrooms, so we are thinking about sautéing them a bit before putting in our pizza next time to sweat out some of the liquid. Other than that it was pretty tasty!

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I am back! I have Wednesdays off in March to use up some vacation time. So I am all settled in for the night, RELAXING! I can’t wait to sleep in tomorrow. That hour that we ‘spring’ ahead really gets me each year. The weather was wonderful today and it’s still pretty mild, so I have the door open for some cool fresh air.

I have been trying to eat healthier lately. Tonight’s dinner, spaghetti squash spaghetti. I have been reading about spaghetti squash and dying to make it so tonight was the night.

Start by cutting your squash in half the long way. My squash was so large I needed 2 pans to cook it in. Fill each pan with an inch of water and place the squash in the pan, cut side down.

I preheated my oven to 350 degrees and baked it for 1 hour. After the hour I was able to poke a knife in it easily. Take them out of the oven, flip the squash so it’s cut side up, and let it rest for about 10 minutes. While they rested I sautéed some onion and Trader Joe’s Chicken Jalapeno sausage in a little bit of olive oil. Then I added my favorite spaghetti sauce and let it simmer a bit.

While my sauce was simmering I spooned out the seed in the middle of the squash, and then took my fork and starting to scrap inside of the squash. Seriously, I am amazed by this. The more I scraped the more ‘spaghetti’ was created.

I plated up my ‘spaghetti’ and topped it with my sauce, a sprinkle of grated parmesan and red pepper flakes and dinner was served. Verdict?! LOVED it!! Seriously it’s so weird in a good way. I kept reading that it wouldn’t be mushy or soft, but I didn’t really understand that. I mean I cooked it for so long and yet it still had a little crunch to it. Its hard to describe. I guess you will just have to try it.

Off to enjoy the rest of my evening with the hubs and pooch.

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Hello! Happy Belated Valentine’s Day! Did everyone have a great day? The plan was for Joe and I to cook Dat Seen and relax at home that night, but I just wasn’t feeling it. So we ran errands, and ate at the mall food court, very romantic 🙂 The goofy thing is, we wanted different things so paid for myself at Panera, and Joe wandered off to eat at a different place. He ended up a Panera too. After dinner I treated myself to Birthday Cake Remix at Cold Stone – yum. Don’t worry I wouldn’t have had it any other way! We never get to spend the evenings together due to different work schedules, so it was perfect! I loved every minute of our Valentine’s “date”

My dog, Maddie, did get me a very very thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift. A coupon for a Holga 35 mm converter kit that I have been wanting for years! How awesome is she?

I hope to have some fun cooking post next month. I got a dutch oven I am dying to try. Love the COLOR!

Joe and I have had some cooking adventures recently. We had our first attempt at making Sushi. Not to brag, but it tasted pretty awesome 🙂 We still needs to work on presentation. There aren’t too many pics since we were both concentrating on making it and eating it, but I am sure there will be many more Sushi nights to come.

I am off to go pack! I am headed to Miami for a day, and am excited to sink my toes in the sand and soak up some rays. Checked the weather and its 83 and SUNNY!

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Cleaning party and comfort food, that is what yesterday looked like. Cleaning out, getting rid of junk, organizing our lives…we did all of those things. It was a much much needed day of cleaning. Feels good. To help us clean…some comfort food.

Shepherd’s Pie

Meat mix

  • 1 lbs of ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 16 oz bag of frozen veggies (I use peas, corn, green beans, and carrots)
  • Small jar of gravy (I like Heinz Home Style Savory Beef) (I actually don’t like the taste of it plain, but when baked with the meat and veggies…yum)

Mashed potatoes

  • 5 lbs of russet potatoes (ok we loooove potatoes, so I make a lot)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional – 1 cup of shredded Colby Jack cheese

In a large pot, start boiling the water for the potatoes while you peel and clean them. Add all potatoes and boil until tender. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Chop the onion and garlic. Start browning the ground beef, onion and garlic. Add a little bit of salt and pepper. Once meat is cooked through, add the jar of gravy and frozen veggies. Let this simmer while potatoes are cooking.

Once potatoes are fork tender, drain and put into a large bowl, premash them a bit. Add salt, butter and milk. Then with a handheld mixer beat potatoes until smooth. Optional – fold in the cheese. I added cheese 🙂

In a 9×13 glass pan, pour in meat mixture. Then take the potatoes and spread them over the top. Cover with foil and place in the middle of the rack in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

I think this might be one of Joe’s favorite things I cook for him….beef, gravy and potatoes. If he had it his way I would leave out the veggies 🙂 but as you can see…I don’t.

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I am obsessed! I need help. All I want to do is make homemade stuff. Not even homemade dinner but crafty gifty type things. I think it all started with Christmas and the Vanilla Sugar that I made. Now I can’t stop googling needle felting and homemade vanilla extract. I guess there are worse things to be obsessed with 🙂 I have already started thinking about homemade Christmas gifts for next year, and its only January.

I used Alton Brown’s Vanilla Sugar recipe but got the idea from Eat, Live, Run. It is delicious!

  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

I sliced the vanilla bean and scraped the seeds out. I mixed with the sugar then sifted it to get any large sugar lumps out.

I used some Ball jars that I bought at my local grocery store. After I washed them I made sure they were completely dry before adding the sugar.

Fill the jar with some of the sugar then add the split vanilla bean. Fill the rest of the jar with the sugar burying the bean.

I got these super cute wooden spoons to tie to the jars with festive ribbon.

Let the mix rest for a few weeks before using. My next Vanilla project….Vanilla Extract!

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