Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pizza dough

Who does not like pizza?  Right? It seems that pizza is one of those dishes really cherish by everyone.  They are fun and easy to make and allow you to be creative. You can make them as a main dish or as an appetizer (served as a flat bread).
I have been making pizza for years and now it is almost a must on Sundays at my house! 
At first, I used to buy the dough and made the rest at home.  As usual, I figured I could make the dough myself. Some of the advantages on doing so are that it tastes much better and saves me a few bucks. A win-win situation.
The recipe I use is simple and has never let me down.  The batch is enough to make 3 pizza doughs of about 12" round each. Here is the recipe:

Pizza Dough
3 3/4 cups of unbleached bread or all purpose flour (can substitute one cup for whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 cup of lukewarm water (120F)
2 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast (1 packet)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sugar

Mix the yeast and the water together and wait 2-3 min until the yeast starts bubbling.
Add 1/4 cup of flour, olive oil, sugar and salt and mix it all together.
Add the rest of the flour and knead the dough for a few minutes (I use the bread hook on my mixer, but this can be done by hands too).
Let the dough rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until doubled. 
Punch the dough and divide it in three equal balls. 
At this point either freeze the dough in individual bags or let it rise a second time until doubled (another 1-2 hours). 
When I need to use a frozen dough, I simply take it out of the freezer in the morning, let it thaw and rise all day and it is ready on time for dinner.
The dough is ready to be used.  Roll it on a slightly floured surface to about 12" round.
Place on a greased pizza pan.
Add your favorite toppings and bake it in a preheated oven at 400F for about 20 min.
Et voila!















Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snowmageddon

Day 6 of the snowmageddon 2012! 

Well, how do you handle it when a snow storm hits your area. 
I have to admit that Seattlelites tend to be a bit wimpy when it comes to snow.  1 inch and the city shuts down. 
I have to say I was a bit sceptic at first and even made it to work on day 5. 
Day 6 is by far the worst.  We totalled about 4-5 inches of snow at our house but the worst has been all the ice making the streets a huge ice rink.
Temperatures have been low for Seattle (in the 20s, brrrrr).  So the next challenge has been to ensure everyone is kept warm, fed and hydrated.  Easy tasks for all of us in the house (hubby, daughter and cats) but for the girls (aka the chicken) it has been another challenge.  Being that it is my first winter with them, I want to make sure that their experience is as good as mine.
The biggest one has been to ensure that their water was available at all time.  I changed it twice a day (in morning and afternoon) and it seems to do the trick.  I have also added some plastic and garden fabric around the run to make a quick wind breaker.  That has also helped  keeping the girls happy.
I think they have handled themselves very well.  They are hardy breeds which has proven to be wonderful.  The thing I have noticed is that they do not specifically like to walk on the snow as I had to "rescue" one of them who had wandered around and found herself stranded!
The coop is also holding on well under the snow which is another bonus (yeah for me!).
Keep warm, be safe and enjoy the few days off (If you are in the area)!

Here are some pics of snowmageddon:

Brrr, it's cold! That's Sweeney.


Paulette also happens to be molting just now.


This is Gossie.  The best layer so far.

Rosie, more worried about her "shoes" than laying eggs...No egg from her so far.



The wind breaker!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Kale Salad

Do you have that one vegetable that is "it" for you? 

I love everything vegetable but until about 2 years ago I had no idea about kale.  Sure, I had seen it at the store but was never quite sure what to do with it.
Until one day my husband "pushed" me in buying a bunch.  Now, what? 
I was introduced to a recipe that made "it" for me...Kale salad, it is so simple but yet so good.  I have never been much a fan of salad in general but this was different.  The texture of kale (being from the cabbage family) is more "robust" and heartier than lettuce.  Plus add all the benefit of kale et voila, perfect match!
I have been making this salad practically every week and have not yet grown tired of it.  It also keeps very well overnight and for some reasons is even better the next day.

Here is the way I make it.

Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch of kale (Curly green or red or both, lacinato...) 
  • 2- 3 Tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp Red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/2 Lemon juice
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • Bread crumbs
All the measurements are approximate, I eye ball everything, you can adjust to your liking (I love garlic so there is never too much!).

In a small pan, heat the oil add garlic and red chili pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes (about 2-4 min. garlic should still be white).  Let cool down and add the lemon juice.
In a salad bowl mix the cheese and bread crumb with the kale, add the oil mixture, salt to taste and mix well.
Place it in a fridge, for about 20-30 minutes prior to serving. 


Bon appetit!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beauty secrets from the pantry

OK, so it is the beginning of the year and you have made all these resolutions, right?
Is pampering yourself one of them?  If not, it should!  It does not take much (time and money) to do so.

Just like with my food, I tried to use more natural products when it comes to "beauty".  I have not quite been able to remove all pre-made products but in some areas I have been able to convert very easily only using my own pantry.

My husband has asked me one day if I was able to make my own deodorant.  He suggested I use olive oil and tea bags under my arm pits.  For now, I think I will stick with regular deodorant, but this does not mean that I would not explore it in the future, although I don't think the oil and tea bags would be the right product to use and maybe not quite so discreet.

So far I have mostly focused on my hair and skin and here are a few of my "beauty secrets":


- for smooth skin, I pour milk in my bath and soak for about 15 min, if it was good enough for Cleopatra, I think it is good enough for me!
- for dry hair, I pour about a tablespoon of olive oil in the palm of my hands and rub it all over my hair and my scalp and let it sit while I bath.
  
   - for shiny hair, you can use white wine vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice, simply rinse you hair with it.
   
- for a facial mask, you can use 1 cup of plain yogurt, apply it all over your face and leave it on for 15-20 min, you can even add slices of cucumber or used tea bags to refresh your eyes.
Yogurt is also good if you have sunburn or a rash, it will help cool you down.

 

Here you have it.   What are your beauty secrets?