Rosemary Focaccia

I love the smell of fresh baked bread.  Heck, I love the smell of the yeasty-ness from the time it is all mixed up until it comes out of the oven.

In fact, I love the smell almost as much as I love eating bread.

Zack and my favorite grocery store has shelf after shelf full of focaccia bread.  I really wanted to try some, but of course, I had to try making it myself.  It turned out beautifully.  I was so pleased.  It was really easy to make, too.  Plus, it has one of my all-time favorite ingredients in it – rosemary!

I wonder if it bothers people that I don’t take the time to take really artsy pictures of my food.  My mindset is, I just spent all the time making it, I don’t want to waste time setting up a photo session just for one picture…and allow the food to get cold.

I love to eat way too much for that!

Zack and I are leaving tomorrow for Pennsylvania Amish Country to celebrate our three year anniversary.  I am so excited for this trip!  I can’t believe we’ve been together three years.  Ah, I am so in love.

PS – remember that wreath I mentioned in my previous post, totally finished it and I love it!

Rosemary Focaccia

– 2 medium onions, chopped

– 1/4 c olive oil + 3 T, divided

– 1 1/2 t active dry yeast

– 1 1/2 c warm water, divided

– 1/2 t sugar

– 1/2 t salt

– 3-4 c AP flour

– 2 T fresh rosemary or 2 t dried, divided

– cornmeal

– coarse salt

In a large skillet, saute onions in 1/4 c oil until tender; cool.  In a large mixing bowl; dissolve in 1/4 cup warm water.  Add sugar and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add 2 T oil, salt and remaining water.  Add 2 c flour.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Add onions and half of the rosemary.  Knead 1 minute longer.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Punch dough down.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface, divide in half.  Pat each piece flat.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  Grease 2 baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Stretch each portion of dough into a 10-in circle on prepared pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.  Brush with remaining oil.  Sprinkle with coarse salt and remaining rosemary.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 2 loaves.

The BEST Homemade Pizza Sauce & Crust

By now it is common knowledge that Zack and I are pizza addicts.  We have some form of pizza at least once a week (usually).

Well, we finally found the perfect sauce and crust.  It was actually two separate recipes that I found and tweaked.  The crust was originally not whole wheat, but I really wanted that added health edge (if there is such a thing in pizza!).  I’m very glad I did, because this was AMAZING.

There was a lot of sauce left over, so I saved it and served it with some pizza bites for Zack later on.  Post about those coming soon.

I cannot wait to make this pizza again, but I may have to wait a while, because I had no self control when it came to eating it! haha!

 

The BEST Homemade Pizza

Make the whole wheat crust:

– 1 pkg dry yeast

– 1 c warm water

– 1 t sugar

– 1 t salt

– 2 T olive oil

– 1 c whole wheat flour

– 1 1/2 c all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add sugar, salt, and oil.  Add flours and mix well.  Cover and let rise in warm place for five minutes.  This makes one soft crust.

Make the sauce:

– 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

– 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste

– 2 t dried oregano

– 2 t garlic powder

– 1 t onion powder

– 1 t ground sweet paprika

– 2 t sugar

– 1/2 t salt

– 4 T olive oil

– 2 t white vinegar

In a large bowl or container, mix all ingredients.

Roll out dough onto pizza pan, cover in sauce, cheese, and toppings of choice.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is browned.

Homemade Play Dough!

Although this isn’t edible, I am including it on here, because it’s made entirely out of household food items.

It’s super easy to make and would be a great project for parents to do with their kids.  The end result smells, feels, and looks exactly like the store-bought variety.

My mom and I used to make this on occasion and I always really enjoyed it.

I made this batch green, because it’s Zack’s favorite color :)~

Play Dough

– 2 c flour

– 1 c salt

– 4 t cream of tartar

– 2 c water

– food coloring

Mix all ingredients together in a heavy saucepan.  Cook over medium heat.  Stir constantly (don’t worry about lumps).  Cook 3-5 minutes or until it forms a big ball and is not sticky wet.  Do not undercook.  Remove from heat and turn onto floured waxed paper or counter.  Knead until cool.  Stir in airtight container.  It will keep this way for up to 3 months.  Keeps better in refrigerator.

Homemade Butterfingers

Butterfingers are probably my favorite candy bar.  They have the best flavor and such a wonderful texture.  I did not have a clue how they were made, so when I came across a recipe for them on the internet, I could not resist trying it out!

Plus, with only 3 ingredients, how could you go wrong?

These things turned out great! If they didn’t taste exactly like butterfingers, they were darn close!  I think it’s cool that they use candy corn as an ingredient, but it sucks that I will only be able to make them in the fall!

Some of them covered with the chocolate really well and others were kind of lumpy, but it definitely did not take away from the taste.

I will probably end up making a bunch of these in the next month or so, so that I can get it out of my system for the rest of the year! 🙂

Major YUM!

Homemade Butterfingers

Adapted From: In Katrina’s Kitchen

– 3 cups candy corn

– 1 cup peanut butter

– chocolate for dipping

Melt candy corn in the microwave for about 60 seconds.  Check and stir returning to microwave for 15 second intervals until completely melted.

Add peanut butter and combine.  Return to microwave if necessary to incorporate until creamy.

Pour into a greased 8×8 pan and let cool about an hour.

Cut candy into desired shape and cover in melted chocolate.

Simply-A-Must Crescent Rolls

I love bread.  I love eating it.  I love making it.  Heck, I even like smelling it.

The only thing I do not like about making bread is the insane amount of time you have to wait for it to rise.

These crescent rolls are the perfect answer to that problem.  They still have to rise twice, but for only a total of 40 minutes.  That is a huge improvement from the other breads that I have made that have required ~ 2 hours to rise!

I was really impressed with how cute these turned out.  They actually looked like the crescent rolls from a can (I’ll admit – I usually use that kind).

I halved the recipe when I made them, but it still only made about 10 rolls.  I don’t know how they got 3 dozen out of twice what I made.  Maybe mine were bigger than the ones that they made.

I made these when I made dinner for my dad and Zack last weekend.  See Whipped Sweet Potato Casserole and Grilled Citrus Chicken.  They complemented both dishes really nicely.

I really want to try making French croissants but it is such an intense recipe with a million steps that I am a little intimidated.  I am waiting on a snow day where I am stuck in the house with nothing to do to attempt them

These were so easy that I might say goodbye to the canned crescent rolls forever…sorry Pillsbury 😉

 

Simply-A-Must Crescent Rolls

Yield: 3 dozen

– 5 1/2 – 6 cups all purpose flour

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1 tablespoon quick rise yeast

– 2 teaspoon salt

– 1 cup milk

– 1/2 cup canola oil

– 3 eggs

– 2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt.  In a small saucepan, heat milk and oil to 120-130 degrees.  Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened.  Add eggs, beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour to turn a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

Turn onto a floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Cover and let rise for 10 minutes.  Divide dough into thirds.  Roll each portion into a 12-inch circle, brush with butter.  Cut each circle into 12 wedges.

Roll up wedges from the wide end and place point side down 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray.  Curve ends to form crescents.  Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pans to wire racks.

Homemade Kit Kat Candy Bars

Poor Zack.  He’s been deprived.  He’s been asking me to make him some Homemade Kit Kats for months, but I’ve always either forgotten or decided to make something else.

Last night we were grocery shopping and he picked up a Kit Kat to put in our cart and I said, “okay, okay okay, I will make you some homemade ones when I get home.”

These things are difficult in some ways and easy in others to make.  They require no baking (the easy part), but they are nearly impossible to break into bars at the end (the hard part).

The end verdict: Zack says they were very good, but not too much like actual Kit-Kats…I guess I will keep trying.

You can see how poorly they broke up.  Some pieces wouldn’t break at all and others shattered.

A view of the bars still in the baking dish.  They look yummy to me. 🙂

Homemade Kit Kats

– 1 box square butter crackers (like Club crackers)

– 1 cup butter (2 sticks)

– 2 cups graham cracker crumbs

– 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

– 1/2 cup white sugar

– 1/2 cup milk

– 2 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

– 1 1/2 cup butterscotch chips

– 1 cup peanut butter chips

You need: a 13×9 inch baking dish, a smaller baking dish, plastic wrap, and cooking spray.

Spray the smaller pan with cooking spray and lay crackers edge-to-edge along the bottom.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the milk.

Add the sugars and bring to a boil.

Stir in the graham cracker crumbs and cook for 5 minutes.

Pour about 1/2 of the filling over the layer of crackers.

Make another layer of crackers in the same way as the first.

Pour the rest of the filling over your crackers.

Make a third layer of crackers on top.

Cover with cling wrap and put in the refrigerator to firm up (or freezer if you’re in a hurry).

Cut the pan of crackers into sticks after the candy has cooled and then returned to room temperature.

Melt the three kinds of chips in a double boiler, microwave, or candy melter until smooth and creamy.  Pay attention, because the butterscotch chips are difficult to get completely melted.

Cover a larger baking dish in plastic wrap.  Pour in a layer of chocolate and allow to set.

Arrange the bars you cut previously on top of the chocolate layer.

Coat the bars in another layer of chocolate, making sure to cover the tops and sides.

Once they’re set, break them up into bars.

Good luck!

Homemade French Fries

For those of you that don’t know, I’ve recently lost a bunch of weight (56 pounds!).  To do this, I completely changed my eating habits.  This included giving up fried foods (and fast food in general for the most part).

At first I really, really wanted some KFC or Popeye’s fried chicken, but now (it’s been almost 7 months) I don’t want either of them.  In fact, I don’t miss fried foods at all…except for these.

My mom used to make these every once in a while when I was growing up and they are seriously delicious.  They’re one of the first things I made when Zack and I moved into our apartment.  Plus, the fact that they’re pretty easy to make helps.

To make them, you need:

– Potatoes (russett)

– a medium-sized bowl of water

– oil

– a fry daddy or frying pan

First of all, cut your potatoes into fries.  You can totally peel the potatoes first or leave some skin on the ends.  I personally like them with some skin on them, but Zack doesn’t like skin at all.  It’s all personal preference.

Next, soak the fries in the bowl of water for about fifteen minutes.  While they are soaking, heat up the oil in either your Fry Daddy or frying pan.  The oil should be deep enough to completely cover the fries in batches.

After the oil is heated and the fries have soaked, put them in batches into the oil.  There isn’t an exact science to determining how long they should stay in there, just until they turn slightly brown.

Continue this until all are cooked.  I let mine cool on a paper towel to absorb some of the excess grease.

After they are all done, you can sprinkle them with salt and pepper, or Lawry’s Seasoning Salt like is shown in the picture.

Happy cooking 🙂

Artist Palette Cake

One of the guys that Zack works with has been asking me to make him a cake for a long time.  Yesterday was his birthday, so I decided to finally make him one.

He’s really into art, so I put a palette on top of the cake. The cake part is a white cake that’s been colored neon.  This time the colors turned out just as neon as I hoped.

The top layer before it was leveled.

The bottom layer before it was leveled.

It took a couple of hours to do this cake, but I love the way it turned out!