Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pizza Dough

Homemade pizza dough is fun, easy to make and can yield a pie that's less expensive than fresh store-bought pizzas. Our family loves to prepare the dough and assemble the pizzas together.

Pizza Dough (Bread Machine Recipe)
Makes 2-3 large pizza crusts

1 2/3 cups water (110° F )
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dry milk
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons active yeast
1 teaspoon powdered garlic (optional)
1 teaspoon oregano, dried (optional)
Pizza sauce (we use Sweet Spaghetti Sauce)
Shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Add water, oil and lemon juice to bread machine. Layer flour, salt, dried milk and yeast. Add any seasonings you desire.

2. Set bread machine to dough setting.

3. When dough setting is complete, remove dough as soon as cycle is done.

4. Divide dough into at least 2 balls. Sprinkle surface you are rolling the dough out on with flour.

5. Shape dough by rolling out to at least 1/4 inch thickness.

6. Sprinkle pan or pizza stone for baking with cornmeal to prevent sticking. Place dough onto pan.
7. Apply toppings to pizza.

8. Bake at 425° F for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool about 5 minutes prior to slicing.

    Suggested Toppings:

    Pepperoni, sliced
    Ground Italian Sausage, cooked
    Ground Beef, cooked
    Black Olives, sliced
    Onion, diced
    Spinach, fresh and chopped
    Peppers, diced
    Mushrooms, diced
    Chicken, cooked and diced
    Green Pepper, diced
    Ham, diced
    Pineapple, diced

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Making Birthdays Special

 Birthdays! No matter what your age, you have to love how special they can make you feel. At our house, we do several birthday traditions every year that create not only good feelings, but memories too. And the good news is we've found it doesn't cost much at all to make someone smile.
Fairies aren't just for teeth.
We have a birthday fairy to come to visit the prior to the birthday. She leaves a trail of confetti to the birthday presents, decorates the bedroom door of the birthday girl or boy and leaves balloons. 
Wear a happy hat.
Birthday hats are a fun way to add a little silliness to the day. We have been using the same pack of a few years now. I just place them out next to the birthday presents.

Fancy-up a special meal.
Growing up, I remember my Mom always letting us use a special plate at the time of our birthday dinner. The plate is Waechtersbach's You're Special Today plate. And it really did make me feel special. Just last year I was able to find this plate at a rummage sale for a great deal!

Be in the moment.
There is always talk of what time my girls were born and where. A fun way to celebrate their moment of birth is to set a timer set to go off at the time of birth. You could celebrate with hugs and comment on how much bigger they feel.

Have your day, your way.
In our house, another way we celebrate birthdays is to pick what you want for dinner. The meal could be homemade or a modest restaurant. We have done dinner's out to Baked Macaroni and Cheese for dinner. 

My girls celebrating their birthdays together. Only 4 calendar days apart.
Just simple routine things, like opening up presents around the same time of the day, every year, can make your next birthday run a little smoother and create traditions. We always let the kids open up there presents first thing in the morning, while they are still in their pajamas. Usually we get up about 15 minutes earlier but the kids (and adults) love it.

Happy Birthday to you!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dying Easter Eggs With Food Coloring

Spring is finally here and Easter is coming! And that means it's time to dye the eggs! This is a fun activity for the whole family, although, be sure to provide some guidance with the little ones around the dye.

Fun Fact:
The egg symbolizes new life and our rebirth in the spring time, just like through the sacrifice of Jesus giving us a new life through God's forgiveness of all our sins. But why dye the egg? In history eggs would be dyed red to represent the blood Christ shed for us. The egg can also represent the tomb where Jesus was laid after his crucifixion. The hard shell can be removed like the sealed tomb was opened on Easter morning.

The following is a traditional account of how my family dyes Easter eggs. 

Egg Dye Made With Food Coloring
(This recipe yields one cup of colored dye.)

1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
liquid food coloring
hard-boiled eggs

In a small cup (we have always used coffee mugs), mix together water at room temperature, vinegar and several drops of food coloring. I used about 20 drops of color in each mug, but you can adjust this however you like for a deeper or lighter color.

Prepare several different colors in this way.

Carefully place one egg in each cup of food coloring. After a few seconds, roll the egg to ensure the it's completely covered with dye equally on all sides. Watch the eggs, then carefully remove them when they reach the desired shade. Use a spoon to remove the egg and place it in an egg carton or on a paper towel to dry.

For extra decoration:
Decorate the eggs with crayons prior to dying.
Decorate the eggs with small stickers.