Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Family!!!

This is my family at the Hunter Farm Pumpkin Patch in Weddington, NC.

They are what it's all about.

Life is good.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Breadsticks, Dinosaurs, & Hearts!

I recently posted this quick and super easy Pizza Dough Recipe, and I've gotta say--it rocks!  Since then, other than making pizza, I've used it for breadsticks as well!
Here is what my breadsticks looked like before and after baking. 

They were a super hit!  I brushed some butter, fresh pressed garlic, and italian herbs on some of them, while the others I left plain with just butter brushed on top.

Tonight I needed a quick meal.  So once again, I threw together some of this fabulous dough and made my son a dinosaur shaped pizza and my daughter a heart shaped pizza at their requests!  They were THRILLED!!!
Here are some photos of the process!

Everything tastes even better when it looks cuter apparently! 


Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes!

Happy Fall, Y'all! =o)
I LOVE Fall, I LOVE baking, and I LOVE Pumpkin flavored anything!
We had another "pancakes for dinner" night last week (and I had some canned pumpkin on hand), so I decided to search online for a Pumpkin Pancake recipe! I found one on that I used and adapted! My kids loved it. In fact, my son ate 3 whole pancakes! These pancakes are hearty and rather filling too!

Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour *
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar *
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk *
1/2 cup canned Pumpkin (NOT Pumpkin Pie filling) *
1 large egg *
2 teaspoons vegetable oil *
Maple Syrup *

* indicates an organic ingredient was used

1.Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt in large bowl. Combine milk, pumpkin, egg and vegetable oil in small bowl; mix well. Add to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened; batter may be lumpy.
2.Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat; brush lightly with vegetable oil (I used Organic margarine). Pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle; cook until bubbles begin to burst. Turn and continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.

My pancakes turned out VERY thick so I had to spread them around a little in the pan with the back of a spoon and covered the pan while cooking as well. I got 11 pretty thick pancakes out of this mix. I served them with a little bit of Organic maple syrup drizzled on top.

These are only some of the pancakes. I took the picture of the stack after the kids started eating! You could definitely make a batch of these and freeze them between some wax paper for a quick-I-have-absolutely-no-time-to-cook breakfast!


The Quickest and Best Pizza (Dough) Ever!

I found this EASY and QUICK homemade pizza crust recipe online and I've been meaning to get on here for forever to share! It came out amazing and the kids loved it!!

My husband had to run out to Earth Fare (not far!) to pick up some Organic Mozzarella cheese. In the time he was gone, I had mixed the ingredients and rolled out the dough and was ready to pop it into the oven! One of the best things about this pizza dough is that you don't have to wait forever for it to rise!

Here is what ya need:

1 (1/4 ounce) package yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup water
2 1/2 cups flour *
2 teaspoons olive oil *
1 teaspoon sugar *
1 teaspoon salt

* indicates an organic ingredient was used

Combine yeast and warm water.
Stir until dissolved.
Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Let rest 5-10 minutes.
Roll out to fit your pizza stone. (I found it easier to place the dough directly onto my round pizza stone and roll it out on there rather than on a mat and having to transfer it over.) You can add a little flour to make rolling easier if you find the dough too sticky.
I prebaked mine for 10 minutes at 450*. Then, I added the sauce and toppings and baked for another 8-10 minutes until the cheese was melted.

Definitely keep an eye on the crust (even during prebaking) as it can brown FAST! I found that I had to poke holes in the crust as it bubbled up during prebaking.
Instead of sugar, you can throw in some Italian Seasoning or even brush some olive oil mixed with some freshly pressed garlic before prebaking--yum! Your house will smell divine!
You can use this recipe for calzones, breadsticks, individual pizzas, or whatever!!!

Here are some photos of the process!

This pizza is seriously healthier and quicker than ordering out for delivery!
YUM YUM YUM!!!!!!!!




Monday, September 27, 2010

You did WHAT with the Olive Oil???

I have struggling for what seems like forever with my skin (on my face). It seems like certain products provide the anti-aging properties I am looking for, but cause me to break out...ugh. Other products I've used take care of my (mild) acne issues, but dry my skin out! Well, I've been doing some research and even considering making some organic "concoctions" for lotions, etc. when I stumbled upon SEVERAL web pages where people were talking about the miracle of Olive Oil! I have honestly NEVER heard of anyone "cleansing" with Olive Oil before, but the stories I read were so amazing--even people with eczema said it worked wonders without making their skin oily or causing breakouts! I had just been to my dermatologist that morning for my yearly "skin check" and was discussing facial products with her coincidentally. Well, after reading these posts, I figured, "Why not?"  I have a huge amount of Organic Olive Oil that I purchased at Earth Fare recently, so why not give it a go? Worst case, I break out and stop using it. Best case, it really is a miracle treatment!
So that night I did what others posted they did. I rubbed some Olive Oil all over my face. Then, I soaked a washcloth in hot water and wrung it out. Next, I placed it over my face and let the steam open my pores (which feels really nice too!). I used the washcloth to wipe away any remaining oil which also made me no longer smell like salad dressing! =o) My skin felt SO soft! So here I am 6 days later, and I have to say, my skin is looking better than it has in a long time! No chemicals needed! I have been cleansing with Olive Oil morning and night (which by the way even takes off the most stubborn waterproof eye makeup!), and only using a fragrance free moisturizer with SPF under my mineral powder makeup in the morning. That's it!  It doesn't leave your skin oily. In fact, my skin tends to be on the dry side, so sometimes I'll pat a small amount of the oil on my face even after wiping away.  (I've read of other people dabbing castor oil on spots that are more acne prone before applying the Olive Oil, as well as splashing on cold water after wiping the oil off to close up their pores as well.)
I just wanted to share this bizarre and helpful tip! Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!
Here is a photo of my "Olive Oil Container" that has a little hole for pouring under the cap. I think I got it for $1 in the trial size travel section at Target.



Monday, September 20, 2010

How "clean" is your house?

If you are like me, you have a "product" for every purpose--including cleaning your house. A dear friend of mine from back home told me about a book titled Green Goes with Everything, and after reading portions of it, I realized that there was more that I needed to change in our lives than I had even previously thought!  There are so many unnecessary poisons lurking in our homes that we just simply don't need!  So after much research and reading online, I came up with a few simple, easy-to-make, and effective cleaning mixtures that I wanted to share!

The nice thing about using nontoxic ingredients in your cleaners is that everyone at home can help clean!  I would never have felt comfortable handing over a bottle with a big skull and crossbones on it to my daughter to help me clean--no way!  With some simple concoctions made mostly out of household ingredients, I feel so much better about not only having my family help me clean, but I no longer worry about their skin coming in contact with these cleaners or about them getting sick from them.

The first very basic cleaner is a mixture of 50% vinegar and 50% water.  This can be used on pretty much  EVERYTHING!  I gave my daughter a little spray bottle of this and she went around the house and cleaned all the windows and windowsills and they looked beautiful!  AND...she totally enjoyed helping out!  Win-Win!!

If you want a mixture that is a little bit stronger, simply add about 30 drops of Tea Tree Oil to your vinegar/water basic cleaner.  (I used a 32 oz. empty spray bottle to make mine.)  Tea Tree Oil is known for its natural antimicrobial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.  When cleaning in general, I'll use the basic vinegar/water cleaner, however, if I'm cleaning anything meat has come in contact with (or the bathroom!), I use the Tea Tree Oil mixture.

Recently, I decided that I also wanted to find an alternative to the usual floor cleaner I use that I know is laced with chemicals whose names I probably can't pronounce.  I searched the Internet and found this great "recipe" for cleaning my laminate floors!  SO simple yet it worked so well!  The best part is that it does not require rinsing either!
Here is what I used:
  • 1/4 cup dish soap

  • 1 cup lemon juice

  • 1 to 2 cups of water

  • 2 cups vinegar

  • I used a 32 oz. empty spray bottle I purchased at Lowe's Hardware to make this mixture (same type of bottle used to make the Tea Tree Oil mixture above).  I bought this great microfiber washable head mop at Walmart for somewhere in the range of $11, and I was now ready to clean my floors!  I just sprayed and mopped--so easy!  The best part of it was that there was no waster, no pads to throw away, and it was all natural!  Woohoo!
    Here is a photo of one of the bottles I used, along with the Tea Tree Oil I purchased at Trader Joe's.  I am assuming you could find this at pretty much any health food store.
    * I just wanted to add that Tea Tree Oil can be toxic in concentrated form and if taken internally, and it should not be left within reach of children.

    Happy Cleaning!


    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Homemade French Bread Rolls

    I was SO excited to make my own French Bread Rolls.  I figured I could make them and my family could use them as hamburger buns!  We picked up all the ingredients and some "bulk yeast"--who knew you could buy it that way?!  Well, it turns out that there is a BIG difference between nutritional yeast and baker's yeast.  Nutritional yeast does not contain active yeast therefore will not make your bread rise--OOPS!  Live and learn, right?
    Well, I had the whole batch mixed up and put in a warm place to rise--but it didn't.  That's when I pieced it all together.
    I searched on the Internet and found that you could substitute baking soda for the yeast in a 1:1 ratio and add a teasoon of lemon juice.  The baking soda was to be mixed with the dry ingredients and the lemon juice was to be mixed in with the liquid ingredients...yeah, that was a problem for 2 reasons.  One, I had already mixed the batch of dough together, and two, I had no lemon juice or lemons in the house.  Out of desperation I juiced an orange and used a teaspoon of that.  Worse case, I would toss the rolls and be out the cost of the ingredients.  Luckily, they didn't turn out so bad!  They could have been a bit "fluffier" and "lighter", but they were definitely edible.  My two biggest critics, my kids, actually liked them--hooray! 
    Here is the recipe I used (and botched up) from!  I'm sure that it will turn out even better if you actually have the correct ingredients on hand!

    French Bread Rolls to Die For

    1 1/2 cups water
    1 tablespoon active dry yeast
    2 tablespoons sugar
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon salt
    4 cups bread flour

    Directions:Prep Time: 30 mins
    Total Time: 50 mins

    1. Mix together warm water, yeast and sugar and let stand for about 10 minutes.

    This is what it should look like except with ACTIVE yeast! 

    2. In large bowl, combine yeast mixture with oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour.
    Oh, and I had trouble finding organic bread flour, so I used this Arrowhead Mills flour! 


    3. Stir well to combine.
    4. Stir in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
    5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
    I had some help!


    6. Lightly oil a large bowl and place dough in and turn to coat with oil.


    7. Cover with cloth and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
    Twirl and perform ballet while waiting!


    8. Deflate the dough and turn out onto floured surface.
    9. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces and form into rounds.
    10. Place rolls onto lightly greased baking sheet at least 2" apart.
    11. Cover rolls with cloth and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
    12. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake rolls for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

    And with all my adjustments, voila!  Here is the finished product!!!

    And here is how they looked served with Organic french fries (not homemade) with a mini grassfed beef patty!  Oh, and yes that is Organic Ketchup WITHOUT high fructose corn syrup!!