Thursday, October 30, 2008

Have I yet again lost my mind? What have I gotten myself into???

My creation up above~
Her Frankenstein is below~
OK, I tend to find all of these crazy fun things that I want and feel the NEED to do. Here is one of the things that I decided to do for G2's Halloween party. I told G1 that he could take one of these to each of his teachers and he would take chocolate dipped pretzels to his classmates. He agreed to this deal until he saw the finished product. I had to stick to my guns because my girlfriend and I had a heck of a time making these. I found these in the Paula Dean's Halloween Magazine. Yeah, OK Paula please let me know HOW yours turned out so perfect.....well, she probably didn't do them at all! That is what I think! Anyhow, they turned out so very cute I sure hope that the kiddos will love them tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Flour Garden Pizzeria- October Daring Bakers Challenge

That's right, I turned my kitchen into a pizzeria last night! This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was to make Peter Reinhart's Pizza Dough. This recipe comes from his book, "The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread". The challenge was hosted this month by Rosa from Rosa's Yummy Yums and in honor of a past Daring Baker, Sher at What Did You Eat, who suddenly lost her life to a massive heart attack in July. Never in Daring Bakers history have they made Pizza Dough, so let the challenge begin!

I printed the recipe and directions and carefully planned the perfect toppings for my family and their pizzas. I decided for my pizza I would like to recreate a BBQ Chicken Pizza from a Gourmet Cafe that I just loved when I lived at home. For my kids, that was an easy decision, sauce and cheese for the one; and sauce, cheese and pineapple for the other kiddo. They are not quite the food critics that I would like, but the oldest is starting to appreciate the finer things. The husband likes his pizza just as boring; sauce, pepperoni and cheese. So, I just needed a few toppings that I didn't have in the pantry and I had everything for the pizza dough since I have been the bread Nazi lately.

This recipe is a little time consuming since you have to let the pizza dough rest over night. This is not something that you just decided to do 15 minutes before you want the pizzas going into the oven. But the recipe is straight forward and very basic. If you can operate a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, you can make this recipe.

Day One: I broke out the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer and made the dough. This dough consists of Chilled Flour, Salt, Instant Yeast, Olive Oil, ICE Water and Sugar. Very basic! I was all ready to put the ingredients together and had completely forgotten to chill the flour. Chilling the flour makes the dough blend better from what I understand. I tossed the measured flour into a Ziploc and then into the freezer to chill. About an hour later, I had chilled flour to work with. I mixed the ingredients and then put the dough hook on the mixer and "Kneaded" it for about 6 minutes until the dough was smooth. I pulled the massive dough ball out of the mixer bowl and then divided it into 3 large balls. Then, I transferred it to a greased pan covered with plastic wrap and tossed it into the fridge to chill overnight.

Day Two: The FUN begins. I took the dough out exactly two hours before I planned on making my kitchen a complete mess! A mess that surely made even the Husband want me to clean it up! (That is something that doesn't often happen) I placed 2 of the dough balls onto my floured counter top and pressed the dough into disks and then had to wait for two hours so that the dough was able to rest. About 45 minutes before I was going to make the pizza, I had to preheat the ovens (Yes, I used both ovens) to 500 degrees with the baking stones in the ovens. This is where the story becomes interesting. The little guys starting screaming, the house is on fire. The smoke alarms were going off and the smoke was thickening the air. Ok, I only like putting my oven on "SELF CLEAN" in the winter so that it also heats my house. So, here you find that I obviously have had some boil overs and maybe some fallen crusts that didn't take well to the 500 degree oven. The Husband rolls into the house complaining to whomever will listen, which wasn't any of the three of us, that the house is smokey and the alarms are still going off. Yeah, like we didn't realize that....need I say more? MEN, they just don't get what a woman will do to try new things, they just don't get it! The windows had to be opened, 34 degrees here now, the fans were put on and smoke alarms stripped from the ceilings...yep, the man took control.

Shortly after the smoke settled, we continued on with making the pizza's. The kids gathered their toppings and were all excited about making their own pizzas. I was also excited. I got the camera out to capture the moment when the pizza dough would land onto my head after attempting to toss it, this actually didn't happen, but did come very close! I put the dough onto my knuckles and started trying to stretch it. I then got up enough guts to toss it into the air. It went sideways and folded into an unknown shape that didn't resemble anything I had even seen at a pizzeria! I smooched the dough back into a disc shape and let it rest for about 15 minutes and reattempted. This time I was successful! It wasn't a toss that was 5 feet into the air, but it did stay into the shape that I desired. Next it was time for the kids....did you think that they weren't going to be involved? Oh yeah, this is when the fun really began! My little guy, G2 we will refer to him as, threw his dough in the air and it came right down on his face. We all couldn't stop the laughing! G1, our oldest son, had a great laugh once his turn came around. He was successful and it didn't take him as much time to get the nak of it as it took me!

G1 and his attempt to toss the pizza
G2 just before his dough landed on his face!

After we got our dough all stretched and spun, we were ready to add the toppings. The directions told us to flip over a jelly pan and then cover it with corn meal and place the dough onto the corn meal. After placing it just right, we were able to add our toppings and place the pizza in the oven. This is where the real challenge started. Once it was time to transfer the pizza from the pan to the 500 degree preheated pizza stone the pizza dough didn't want to move from the pan. I had to pull the dough onto the stone and one of the pizzas was just a disaster and it just happened to be G1's pizza. He was at least mature about the devastation and helped me replace the toppings and pull the dough back onto the stone. Boy did the stone smoke after all the cheese and toppings hit it!! The Husband thought he saw smoke when he got home, not a chance this was smoke!

We cooked these pizzas in my two ovens and once one would come out, we would put another one back in. We had hot pizza that tasted so AWESOME!! I couldn't believe that I actually replicated my favorite BBQ Chicken Pizza from a Gourmet Cafe and I didn't dig myself 6 feet down by doing it either!!!

Cheese Pizza

This challenge was so very exciting and really brought us together at dinner time. I have already suggested having a pizza making night with my cousin and her children so that we can really a great time and awesome pizza that is truly homemade! Thanks Daring Bakers for challenging me to make something that I never thought of doing. I had a great time this month and cannot wait to see what new recipe November will bring.
Here is the recipe for this awesome crust!
~Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart
Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
Cornmeal for dusting

1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer)

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water
NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.
NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil (a few tablespoons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow it to rest for 2 hours

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).
NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time. During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and re-flour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully, then try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes

Friday, October 17, 2008

Win a BEAUTIFUL quilt!

Hurry on over to and all you have to do it leave a comment about her quilt post! That only earns you one entry. For more entries, sje will give 5 additional entries for posting about the giveaway on your very own blog. She will also give another 5 entries for posting the banner below in your sidebar. If you don't win the quilt, she will be giving away a very special 2nd and 3rd place prize, THE PATTERN TO THE QUILT. I know just how complicated making a quilt is, so I really appreciated the fact that she has taken the time to complete it, and then GIVE IT AWAY! I hope I win or even you too! HURRY, it ends today ;}

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


October 1st marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a very important month to all women and especially those that are high risk due to family history. One week before I was born, (29 years ago +/-) my maternal grandmother had a mastectomy. She won her battle with breast cancer and went on to live another 16 years until she lost her life to another form of cancer. Without having her yearly exam, she wouldn't have known that she had breast cancer. She caught it in time to be able to go on with her life and to see 5 grandchildren born.
It is very sad to think that I could lose my mother to this horrible disease too! This is why you should make sure that you have a physical and mammogram done on a yearly basis. If you don't have insurance or your insurance doesn't pay for it, click on one of the links I have posted.