Happy Dance, Happy Dance!

Tonight I didn’t feel like making a big dinner.  Then my husband remembered that he had a meeting tonight.  (We had both forgotten.)  So, while he rushed out the door, I tried a new recipe.

I’ve been intrigued by Amish cooking lately.  In fact, I’d like to do some research, purchase a good Amish cookbook and go through it from beginning to end, making everything in there.

Tonight I found a recipe called Angel Biscuits and so the boys and I had breakfast for dinner… scrambled eggs, angel biscuits, and milk.  Yup.  That’s all.  The biscuits were very simple… put together like regular biscuits.  But, the difference is that they have baking powder, baking soda and yeast in them and they have to rise.  I had never baked anything with all three before.

The result was the lightest, fluffiest and tastiest biscuits I’ve had in a long time… a texture that is different from baking powder biscuits.  They’re like a hybrid between baking powder biscuits and yeast rolls.

Here’s where I found the recipe for anyone who wants to try it:  Angel Biscuits

Angel BiscuitsThe recipe says to mix and roll the dough out.  When I put the liquid into the flour, the dough was very wet.   So, I put quite a bit of flour on the counter, scooped the wet dough out of the bowl on top of that, put more flour on top and gently worked it until I was able to roll it.  But, instead of rolling, I patted it out to 1/2 inch thickness, cut it with a biscuit cutter and put it closely together on a cookie sheet.   To make these look different from my regular biscuits, I took a fork and poked gently into each one three times.  My husband’s mother used to do that.  Finally, I brushed each one with melted butter before putting it aside to rise.  It actually took about 1 hour for it to rise to double.  Into the oven it went and 8 minutes later I had the lightest, fluffiest biscuits.

It seems to me that these biscuits would be good for the Southern biscuits and sausage gravy kind of breakfast.  The recipe made so many that we ate them for dinner and have enough left over for breakfast tomorrow and probably another meal.

Try these.  I really think you’ll like them.  My husband had one when he came home.  All three of my guys say this recipe is a keeper.

Pizza Last Night – Cinnamon Rolls This Morning

Yesterday I posted a blog entry that talked about our family night and homemade pizza.  It was so good.

I complain a lot about my camera, but I have to make do for now.  Below are pictures on the final results.  The color is off on one (with orange tones) even though all three pictures were taken under the same light and both the pizzas were on the same cutting board.  I can’t figure out why my little camera does this.  But, despite the pictures, the pizza was delicious.

This one was for my youngest son.  (Of course it was way too big for him and we had leftovers, but he loved having his own pizza that was different from the rest of us.)  We put pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese on his.  That’s all he wanted.  He sat there watching a show with us and eating like he thought it was the best thing ever.

(I haven’t gotten the hang of hand-tossing pizza dough so I roll it out and press it into shape using both hands.  My left hand slightly holds on while I stretch the dough out with my right.  Then I turn the dough slightly and do it again until there are no thick sections.  My pizzas are always rustic looking.  But, I actually like them like that.)

This one had a thicker crust than I intended.  I put the dough onto a cookie sheet.  While the other one was baking, this dough was continuing to rise.  So, it had quite a thick crust.  I hadn’t gone shopping so whatever we had in the house was what we were going to use.

With pizza sauce as the base, I layered on sausage that I had cooked into large crumbles and drained, pepperoni that hadn’t been used during the last pizza experiment, onions, green peppers and grape tomatoes cut in half.  Then I put mozzarella cheese all over the top.

My husband said it was the best pizza I’d made so far. The thing I love about homemade pizza is that you can experiment and put whatever you want on it… and it’s a fun thing for your kids to help with, especially if they’re making their own personal pizza.

We had leftover pizza dough.  Instead of wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap, putting it in a freezer bag and freezing like I usually do, I decided to make cinnamon rolls for Saturday morning breakfast.

I formed the dough into a log to make it easier to get a rectangle shape then rolled it into a rectangle.  Again, I hadn’t gone shopping and was completely out of nuts.  So, I just spread butter on the rolled out dough and sprinkled brown sugar and cinnamon over the entire surface.  After rolling it up and cutting it into 8 pieces, I put it into a buttered 9″ pie dish, put another pie dish on top and “tied” the two together by wrapping the dishes up tightly in plastic wrap.   (Using the second pie dish on top gives plenty of room for rising while keeping it moist enough between the pie pans that the dough doesn’t dry out.)  It went into the fridge to rise very slowly overnight.

My husband got up earlier than I did and took it out of the fridge to get it to room temperature then turned the oven on to 350° F.  While the oven was heating up, the cinnamon rolls started rising at room temperature.  By the time I got up, all I had to do was pop them into the oven for 20 minutes.  (Of course, I’m not a morning person and my brain wasn’t fully awake so I didn’t get a picture of the baked rolls.)

The house smelled heavenly this morning!!  We all sat down and enjoyed cinnamon rolls for breakfast with really no more effort than it took to make pizza dough for dinner last night.   (And yes, I know.  I likely blew my weight loss attempts this week.)

I didn’t know what kind of cinnamon rolls the pizza dough would make.  It turns out that when quickly cooked in an oven at high temperature as a pizza, the texture of this dough is just slightly chewy.  But, when cooked at a lower temperature for a little longer, it is very tender and soft.

My son said they were delicious and my husband called them “bodacious”.  Both had seconds.  I love nuts, so the next time I do this I’ll make sure to go shopping.  They will have chopped pecans in them.

I really encourage you to experiment and try different things.  You may be surprised at how fun it is and how many delicious things you can come up with yourself.  (Don’t forget to click on the link in last night’s Family Night blog entry to get the pizza dough recipe.)

Have a blessed day!

 

Family Night Tonight!

Friday nights are Family Night at our house.   Tonight we’re having homemade pizza.

We live in the country outside a small Southern town.  When I say small, no it’s not a one-light town, but it is small.  (The membership of the church I used to attend on the West Coast was about the same size as the population of our town.)  However, we still have a number of pizza places.  On the Food Network they talk about getting pizza dough from your local pizzeria.  I’m assuming that they mean in the big city where you may have a pizza place that isn’t a chain and that makes fresh dough every day.  I drove around our town and visited every pizza place.  Not one of them will sell pizza dough.

That night I went to the grocery store and bought Pillsbury pizza dough.  It was as I thought it would be… just OK.  (Sorry, Pillsbury.  It’s great in a pinch, but it doesn’t have the texture and flavor of a good pizzaria dough.)  I started looking for and trying recipes.  After many attempts (most of them also just OK) I finally found a recipe that my boys really, really like.

Check out Jamie Oliver’s Pizza Dough Recipe on the food Network! (This picture is from that site.) I found it in March and have been making it every time we have pizza ever since.  (In fact, each week my boys are now asking if we can have pizza for Family Night.)

Something to keep in mind:  I don’t suggest piling the flour on the counter, making a well, and pouring the liquid in the well the way the recipe suggests.  I tried that the first time around and had a leak in the flour dam… the liquid lake overflowed and started spreading all over the counter, to my youngest son’s delight.  (He was laughing and jumping around having a great time watching.)  I couldn’t swoosh it back to the flour fast enough, but finally got control by quickly spreading the flour over top of the rivers of liquid.  Ever since then when I make it I put everything in a bowl and mix it with a wooden spoon until it’s ready to be kneaded.  Then I dump it onto a floured surface and start kneading.  It’s not as much fun for a 6-year-old to watch, though.

In reality, the recipe makes a bunch of small personal pizzas or about 4 medium-sized regular crust (as opposed to about 6 thin crust) pizzas.  It’s great for parties.  If you are cooking just for family, you can take half the dough, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, put it in a freezer bag and freeze it for the next time.   Then all you need to do is pull it from the freezer, let it defrost, punch it down and make your pizzas.  When we do the personal pizzas, the boys can come and put whatever they want on their crust after I’ve shaped it.  They like that.

My boys and husband LOVE home made pizzas now.  (We don’t do “take-out” anymore.  Of course, we would if I didn’t have time to make the pizza dough.)  But, when you make it at home, you can make any kind of pizza you want!

I didn’t go grocery shopping so have to use what I have in the house.  Tonight I think it’s going to be sausage, green pepper, and onion.   Unless we want something unusual like red cabbage or sour kraut (!!?!!), I don’t have other pizza ingredients.

You all have a blessed evening.  We’re going to enjoy each other’s company, eat homemade pizza, and enjoy a family movie together.

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Update:  05-01-2012

Here are some blogs with pizza ideas (all of them outside the norm when it comes to pizza):

My Fancy PantryCaramelized Onion, Purple Potato and Pistachio Pizza
Spices & Spackle:  Salad Pizza
A Brand New Season:  Pita Pizza
Cupcakes & Couscous:  Veggie Pizza on Portobello Mushroom Cap Crust

 

Traveling from Home – Introduction

As of this week, we have decided to add an activity to Homeschool and our family experience.  We will be learning and eating our way around the world.

I think it’s important for people to know about countries and cultures other than their own, so we’ve decided to broaden our horizons.  Since we are homeschooling, every single week our sons will be given the responsibility of picking out a country from around the globe for the following week.  (That will give me time to look up recipes and see if I need to find special spices, etc.)

The week we study that country we’ll open up our “Operation World” book and learn about how to pray for the people in that country.  We’ll get on the internet and look up interesting things about that country and its culture(s).  We’ll visit the library and see if we can find stories about the people of that country.  We’ll see if the travel channel has any shows about that location.  And, finally, we will look up recipes and each week make food that will give us a sense of what the people in that culture may eat.   I’ll try to remember to take pictures for you all!

Every member of our family will participate and learn together. Each week, I’ll write and let you know about our “travels” around the world and our kids’ responses to the food and the things that they learn.

Pad thai (ผัดไทย), served in Bangkok.
Pad thai (ผัดไทย), served in Bangkok. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I chose the location because it was simple to buy the food from the grocery store.  (We’re visiting Thailand and tonight we had Pad Thai for dinner.  The boys thought it was very good.)  However, starting next week, the kids will get to choose where we “travel”.

Care to join us and do something similar in your home?  We’d enjoy hearing about it.

Please share this and tell everyone you know.  We would love to have people come to our blog to make comments and contribute suggestions and ideas, places to “travel”, foods to try, tidbits of information on different cultures.  If you’re from a culture other than North America or have visited places around the world and have a favorite cuisine or country, we’d love to hear real life information about your culture or the culture you visited!   I’ll be posting our “travel” blog every Friday starting next week.

B.L.O.G.

My husband has been working long hours lately, but was home for lunch today.  I hadn’t gone shopping.  Looking in the fridge to see what in the world to make, I found bacon, lettuce, a quarter of an onion, a quarter of a green pepper and just enough leftover berry trifle for one serving.  Nothing else seemed to go together.

I had everything for a BLT but the tomatoes.  So instead, I made a BLOG and gave him the berry trifle for dessert.  (He usually doesn’t get desserts, so when I make them for special meetings like our Life Group Bible Study the night before, he sure enjoys it.)   My husband (who thinks onions and green peppers are great any way they’re served) loved it.  So, this is a new sandwich added to my list of sandwich recipes.  (Next time I make it, I’ll take a picture.  I didn’t think to do it this time.)

BLOG (Bacon, Lettuce, Onions & Green Peppers)

Bacon – 4 pieces, cooked
Lettuce – 1 piece big enough to cover the bread
Onion – 1/4 of a medium-sized one
Green Pepper – 1/4 of a medium sized one
Bread – 2 pieces toasted, one very lightly buttered and one with a very light spread of mayonaise
Black pepper – to taste

Cook the bacon in a pan until crispy (or the way you like your bacon).  Set aside.  Take out most of the bacon fat, leaving about 1 tsp in the pan.  Put onion and green peppers in the pan with the remaining bacon fat, grind pepper over top, and saute until slightly soft.  (There’s enough salt in my bacon that I didn’t need to add any.  But, you’ll want to be sure to take a taste and see if you need to add a little salt, based on the kind of bacon you use.)

Toast bread and spread a very small amount of butter on one side and a very small amount of mayonaise on the other side.  Put the bacon on one piece, cover bacon with onions and green peppers, and put lettuce over the whole thing.  Cover with the other piece of toast, cut in half, and serve.

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No, it isn’t low fat.  But, once in a while, it sure tastes good to eat bacon.  (By the way, since I’m determined to lose weight, I didn’t eat this sandwich.  I just tasted it to make sure that the flavor was good.  It was a hit with my husband.)

Mulligan Stew

My Father-in-Law used to make Mulligan Stew every once in a while.  What that meant was that he took all the leftovers in the fridge from the week and made a soup out of them.  I was told that when they had been warned that it was Mulligan Stew night, my sisters-in-law would make sure to go to the fridge before their Dad would get there and get rid of all leftovers that they didn’t think would taste very good together.

Well, tonight I had a bunch of leftovers so it was Mulligan Stew night.  We had soup and biscuits.  The “leftovers” soup ingredients that I threw into the pot to simmer are:

  • homemade “smoky” salsa (with turmeric and cumin in it instead of cilantro and lime)
  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • yellow squash
  • cabbage, chopped
  • parsnips, chopped (using up four remaining fresh parsnips before they went bad)
  • 2 fresh potatoes, chopped
  • chicken bouillon
  • taco meat (that just happened to be roasted venison cut into bite-sized pieces and stewed in taco seasoning from another meal)

I threw it all in the pot to simmer on the stove.  There was actually enough flavor between the salsa, the chicken bouillon and the seasoned venison to give the soup a delicious flavor.  It had a light broth that were slightly reminiscent of Mexican food.  My husband and older son had seconds on the soup.

We enjoyed apricot jam on our biscuits and dessert was home made chocolate orange pudding.  I was experimenting so melted dark baking chocolate in milk, added orange flavoring and agave nectar (for sweetening), and thickened it with cornstarch, disolved in milk.  It was lovely as well.  My husband decided to wait to have his until mid-evening for a snack.  He wants whipped cream, nuts, and coconut on top.

Try being creative by using up leftovers in the fridge and making your own Mulligan Stew.  The fun thing about Mulligan Stew is that it is literally an experiment in being creative and making leftovers tasty.  It will be different every single time.

Tropical Fruit Bread

Last night I had a burst of energy and only a few slices of bread left.  So, I decided to make some bread for today.  It started off being 1 loaf white bread (for sandwiches) and 1 loaf raisin bread (for breakfast).  But, as I was looking for the raisins in the pantry, I found a package of dried pineapple, mango, and papaya I had forgotten about.  Why not?!  So, I chopped up the dried fruit to about the size of raisins and kneaded them into the bread at the end of my kneading process.

My husband sat in the living room watching the ball game and asking when the bread would be ready.

I let it rise, punched it down, shaped it into loaves (one plain white and the other tropical fruit).

My husband asked if it was done yet. 

With a smile I let the loaves rise and they looked so beautiful as I put them in the oven.  Oh my!  The whole house smelled like baking bread.  Yum!  With about 20 minutes to go, I told him how long it would take and asked if he could let me know since I couldn’t hear the microwave timer go off from our home office.

At twenty minutes (to the second), my husband called out, “Twenty minutes is up!” 

When I’m baking bread, he’s better than a timer.  Two beautiful, fragrant loaves of bread came out of the oven… and had to sit and cool for a bit.

And finally, my husband got to have a late evening snack. 

He chose the tropical fruit bread.  I did, too.  With him and my boys, loaves like this don’t last long.  It was delicious.  We love raisin bread, but now we have a bread we love even more.  I highly recommend pineapple, mango, papaya bread.