Pizza, Take Two

Lookie what I picked up at the grocery store recently:

Bread flour, for making bread!  And yeast, for making bread…that has yeast in it!

“But wait,” you’re thinking, “isn’t this post supposed to be about pizza?”

Why, yes, you are absolutely right.  Being the chicken that I am, I decided, after picking up 5 pounds of bread flour, that pizza, rather than bread, might be the better/easier way to go for my first venture into making all things yeasted (yeasty things?).  So, I picked out a pizza crust recipe, and, what do you know:  it called for bread flour, which happened to be sitting lonely in my cupboard, waiting for me to find some courage and bake a loaf of bread already.  Baby steps, baby steps.

This recipe comes from the cookbook that my grandmother compiled from the recipes of her friends and family when she left her amazing store, called Apple Core, after 21 years of selling home decor, delicious homemade goodies, and other treasures.  My grandma makes beautiful rosettes (like these) and the most incredible pancakes in the world, so I figured if this recipe made her book, it was worth a try.  Plus, it was dubbed by its creator:

Perfect Pizza Crust

Makes:  1 large pizza

  • 1 T. active dry yeast
  • 1½ cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 2 T. sugar
  • ½ t. salt
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • cornmeal
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  If you don’t have a thermometer, ask your mom what to do use water that feels warm to the touch, but not hot.
  2. Add sugar, salt, 1 cup of bread flour, and whole wheat flour.  Beat until smooth.
  3. Stir in enough of the remaining bread flour to form a soft, sticky dough.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
  4. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Optional: take a walk around town, happen across a rummage sale, and come home with two pillows, a shirt, and a glass jar, all for $1, to find your dough perfectly risen.
  5. Punch dough down and roll/spread onto a greased pizza pan or a pizza stone dusted with cornmeal.  Add toppings.
  6. Bake at 425° for 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and toppings are lightly browned and heated through.

I told you when I made the no-yeast pizza crust that I would one day attempt a yeast crust and bring you my comparison of the two, so here it is:

Yeast.  Do it.

Most of you probably already know this, but it never hurts to have one more on the yeast team, right?  Now, I’m not saying I’ll never make the other variety again, because sometimes you just need to be able to throw something together quickly, but if you have the time and ability to plan ahead, this crust is the way to go.

This crust has that perfectly golden, toasted outside with the soft and chewy inside that you’d get at a restaurant, except that it’s better, like pretty much everything else you make yourself.  It’s not much more difficult than the no-yeast variety, either; it simply requires more time.  Is it worth it? 

Just try to look that pizza in the eye at that soft, golden (and delicious-smelling) crust and say it’s not.

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Breakfast, Twice

Breakfast is my absolute favorite meal.  This is perhaps because the experts say it should be your biggest meal of the day, so I feel no guilt loading up on eggs, fruit, and my favorite food group:  carbs.  Yum.  It could also be because I always wake up starving, my stomach immediately growling for a bowl of cereal.  Anyone else here go to bed already thinking about breakfast?  It can’t just be me.

In honor of my favorite meal, I’m here to share two simple forms of homemade fruit + carb deliciousness, neither of which are required to be consumed in the morning.  At my house we affectionately call that “brinner.”  Yep, breakfast for dinner.  And as much as I love breakfast in the morning, brinner really is a beautiful thing.  Don’t you think?

Whole Wheat Waffles

Makes:  about 8 belgian waffles

  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 t. sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients
  2. Add egg yolks to dry ingredients, place egg whites in a small mixing bowl
  3. Beat whites until moderately stiff, set aside
  4. Stir butter, milk, and vanilla into dry ingredients
  5. Fold in egg whites
  6. Pour batter into hot waffle iron
While your waffles are cooking, you can make this:

Strawberry-Peach Syrup

Makes:  about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups of sliced fruit (mine was about 1/2 strawberries and 1/2 peaches, but you can use any combination of these or other fruits)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar (depending on the fruit you use and how sweet you want the syrup to be)
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • dash cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 t. cornstarch (optional)
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine fruit, water, sugars, and cinnamon (if desired)
  2. Stir occasionally until fruit softens and mixture is heated through
  3. For a thicker syrup, mix cornstarch with a small amount of water and stir into fruit mixture
Note:  This recipe is very easy to adjust to your taste by modifying the type of fruit and the amounts of water, sugar, and cornstarch you use – it nearly always turns out well (I have to say “nearly”, just in case).
Alex loved this homemade syrup and said it was better than maple syrup or fresh (uncooked) fruit.  He even chose it over peanut butter on his waffles, which, if you know him at all, is a pretty big deal.  So, I decided to try it again the next time I was craving a carbohydrate-heavy breakfast, which is where the following recipe came into play.Whole Wheat-Buttermilk Pancakes

Makes:  8 pancakes

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 T. oil
  1. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and make a well in the center of the mixture
  2. Combine egg, buttermilk, and oil; pour into flour mixture and stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy)
  3. Adjust to desired consistency with additional buttermilk or flour
  4. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto a lightly greased griddle or skillet over medium heat; cook until golden brown
And to top the pancakes…Cinnamon-Apple Syrup
  • 1 medium apple, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. cornstarch (optional)
  1. In a small saucepan, combine fruit, water, sugars, and cinnamon
  2. Stir occasionally until fruit softens and mixture is heated through
  3. For a thicker syrup, mix cornstarch with a small amount of water and stir into fruit mixture
Did that recipe sound familiar?  I told you it’s easy to modify!
If you’re feeling fancy, top your waffles or pancakes and syrup with a little powdered sugar or whipped cream to make them pretty.  As for me, I wasn’t feeling very fancy, just hungry.  Speaking of which, I could go for a little second breakfast right now…
P.S.  If you don’t have any buttermilk for the pancakes, don’t worry – I’ll be back soon with a quick fix for that!
P.P.S.  Been dying to know what’s going to happen with our headboard? It looks like the “tufts” have it!  I’ll share the details as soon as I finish breakfast the project.

A Take-Out Take-Down

It’s been a few days since you’ve heard from me, but don’t worry, it’s only because I’ve been so busy cooking and crafting, which means there will be plenty of new posts to come!  But before I can get to some of the (not quite finished) bigger projects, I wanted to give you a few simple ideas for how to cut costs and eat better at the same time.

First:  Homemade Pizza!

If you couldn’t tell from the unnecessary exclamation point, I love homemade pizza.  It tastes fresher than the frozen variety (um, duh) and less greasy than what you get at most restaurants.  Beyond that, it’s easy, inexpensive, fully customizable, and can be made in about the time it takes to preheat the oven. So what’s stopping you from making your own pizza?

Pizza Crust

Makes:  1 medium pizza

  • 2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 T. oil
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2/3 cup water
  1. Add liquids to dry ingredients
  2. Knead 6-8 times by hand
  3. Roll dough (I just used my hands) onto baking sheet or stone
  4. Add sauce and other toppings
  5. Bake 18-20 minutes at 400°
How easy is that?  To top the crust I used an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, green peppers, onions, and a blend of mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan cheeses. I forgot to season the sauce, so I sprinkled a good amount of italian seasoning over the cheese, which actually made the pizza look even better, so I might do it on purpose next time!
I will warn you, this isn’t going to be a [insert your favorite pizza chain here] type of crust, because it’s made without yeast.  That means it’s more dense than fluffy.  I thought both the taste and consistency of this crust were great, but I’d love to hear your thoughts if you get a chance to make this.  Also, I’ll be back soon with a pizza crust recipe made with yeast and my comparison of the two.  Until then, I hope you enjoy this one!
Second:  Homemade French Fries
Here’s another amazingly simple recipe.  It’s so easy, in fact, that it makes me wonder how companies can charge so much for a bag of frozen, sliced potatoes when we can do the same thing at home for so much less.
Baked French Fries
  • potatoes, about 1 medium per person/serving (russet are best, but I used what I had: red)
  • seasoning (I used sage, basil, parsley, and a little parmesan cheese, but use whatever you like. Maybe garlic salt or cajun seasoning?)
  1. Wash potatoes, peel if desired
  2. Slice potatoes evenly, about 1/4 inch thickness
  3. Soak in cold water at least 10 minutes, then dry fully on a towel
  4. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray
  5. Spread potatoes out on cookie sheet and add seasoning
  6. Bake 25 minutes at 400° or until golden brown and crispy, turning over halfway through

I loved that these fries were well-seasoned without being too salty, which I often find to be a problem at restaurants.  And they were great the next day, too.  I just popped them back into a 400° oven for a few minutes and they were just as good as before – maybe better.  Also, in case you were wondering, we did not eat pizza and french fries at the same meal.  Even if they are healthier, homemade alternatives, what kind of wife would I be if I let my husband have all of his favorite foods at one meal?

As easy as we all find it to run to the drive-thru for a burger and fries or to order a pizza from the couch, next time you’re tempted, I hope you’ll reach for one of these recipes instead of the keys or phone.  Your wallet and your heart will thank you later!