Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

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Someone please explain to me whyyy there are commericals concerning what the ingredients are in dog food followed by pet owners who are disgusted when they find things like corn gluten and meat by-product…

but the following commercial is about children being fed pre-made chicken nuggets (in which the ingredient list has a number of ingredients that I can’t even pronounce) like there’s no problem.

What ever happened to REAL food?

There is a homemade, real food alternative to every pre-made food out there. It may be a bit different but my thought process: if it’s homemade, it HAS to be better for you. I mean… it’s REAL food after all.

Let’s start with pizza! Yes, you can make pizza at home. And you can even healthify it by using whole wheat flour instead of white flour. And it’s simple!! Mix, knead, rise, knead, last rise while you chop your veggies and grate your cheese. Easy cheesey!

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Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes enough for one small, thin crust pizza. Double it if you like your pizza thick and bready.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
1 tablespoon olive oil
your choice of sauce and toppings

Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball. Use flour when needed… it’s slightly sticky at this point.

If you are finding this step difficult, simply pause. Leave the dough in a lightly-floured spot, put the empty bowl upside-down on top of it and come back in 2 to 5 minutes, at which point you will find the dough a lot more lovable.

Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl (a spritz of cooking spray perfectly does the trick) where you had mixed it — one-bowl recipe! — dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.

Dump it back on the floured counter and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.

Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. Roll out the pizza, toss on whatever topping and seasonings you like. If you like a TON-o-toppings and bready crust, slice them thinly so you don’t weigh down the dough.

Bake it for about 10-15 minutes until it’s lightly blistered and impossible to resist.

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Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream

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As I sit here and watch TV, it amazes me the things you’ll see.

A woman coming clean about having slept with her sister’s boyfriend and fathered his child and hid it not only from her sister, her fiance but her sister’s fiance as well. SURPRIIIISE.

A tribute to hollywood couples, some of which make me misty-eyed (and make my top list too!)

Ozzy and Bieber in a commercial together. There was also something about 6G?!

And Anne Hathaway being tackled by James Franco.

None of this has anything to do with this ice cream, but eating a bowl while you watch trashy tv couldn’t get any more perfect. Unless you drizzled it with hot fudge or caramel sauce. Just sayin’

This ice cream is so creamy dreamy delicious. It gets its deeper flavor from the vanilla beans and brown sugar. A match made in heaven.

The only odd ball ingredient is the dry milk powder, which is usually sold in bigger than necessary boxes. But have no fear, you’ll be making this ice cream again and again!

Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream
From the Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry skim milk powder
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split & scraped, reserving the seeds & pod

Directions:
1. Fill a large pot with about 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Set a large bowl over the top, and check that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water (this is a double broiler or bain-marie setup). (Remove the bowl and use it to combine the ingredients for the ice cream.)

2. In the large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, milk, brown sugar, salt, skim milk powder, egg yolks, vanilla bean and seeds, and vanilla until completely combined.

3. Place the bowl on top of the simmering pot. Be sure the water is simmering, not boiling. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened to nappante (thick enough to coat the back of the spoon), 5 to 10 minutes or approximately 180 to 185°F on a candy thermometer.

4. Cool the custard in an ice bath. Strain the mixture into a resealable container. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

5. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. *

6. Transfer to a resealable container and freeze 4 hours or overnight before serving.

* If you don’t have an ice cream maker but you have a food processor or blender just strain the mixture into your processor bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours. Once it is cooled, stick it in the freezer for half an hour. Pull it out of the freezer and stick it onto the base and pulse it until it looks smooth again. Repeat this process for 2-3 hours. Once it is frozen and creamy, put it in a resealable container and store in your freezer.

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Toasted Almond Scones – TWD

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It’s Tuesday and a million thoughts are running amok in my head.

Like how good Activia Desserts yogurt is with a dollop of whipped cream… for lunch. Or how I should really be finishing book 1 of the Harry Potter series instead of click-clacking away on this. Or how I’m kicking myself for having eaten my very last sweet potatoes last night. Or how I’m too lazy to go to the store today to get more. Or trying to remember what day Big Bang Theory comes on, I just love Sheldon! Or how I really need to find a scone that I absolutely love.

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Scones, to me, are more like a sweet biscuit. Maybe I’m just making them wrong but mine usually come out on the crumbly side and lack…. something. Maybe it’s oomph? Maybe if I added chocolate…

Orrrr, maybe I’m overworking the dough and not measuring my ingredients correctly. *shrugs*

Either way, the flavor of these were great! I ran out of almonds so I subbed the rest for pecans. I used all almonds to make “almond meal” (which was chunkier than that which you can buy at the store, but hey… I love texture) and I used a mixture of almonds and pecans to make up the difference. I skipped the almond topping and opted for a coating of heavy cream and a sprinkling of turbinado sugar. Best decision of my life.

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Straight out of the oven, these were pretty good. Fagrant and certainly nutty. Tender and barely sweet. (As the days passed, they did not maintain their tender texture but rather yielded to the crumbly side. Otherwise known as the dark side *enter heavy breathing*)

All in all, they were good. Not enough to WOW me and make me sing the scones song from the mountain tops, but good.

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I guess I’ll just have to continue my search for my perfect scone. Oh, woe is me ;)

I’d like to thank Mike of Living Out West for choosing this recipe. It certainly is nice to have not only a variety of recipes within the month but that the recipe is simple with minimal ingredients.

For the recipe head on over to Mike’s blog (or simply click here)

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Whole Lemon Poppyseed Cake

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Before I began baking, lemons weren’t a central part of my life.

I didn’t need them in my fridge. I didn’t use the zest. And I wasn’t that concerned if I didn’t get every drop of juice out of them.

Now that I am an avid baker… lemons are a must in this house. You never know when you’ll need one or a dozen. I used the juice for cakes, the zest for cookies and the sad remains to deodorize my cutting board and disposal.

Waste not, want not… right?

This pound cake is the perfect example of not wasting anything from this wonderful fruit. It uses everything… juice, zest, pith, everything!!

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Whole Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Adapted from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Yields 1 loaf

For the cake:
1 & 1/2 lemons (do NOT use 2 whole ones, it will be very bitter)*
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

For the lemon glaze:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

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Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 1 1/2-quart loaf pan.

1. Using a sharp knife, remove the little green stem from the lemon skin. Cut the lemon into 8 pieces.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the lemon pieces (skin and all!) and 1/2 cup of the sugar until pureed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, so that no large lemon skin pieces remain.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Stir in the lemon pulp. whisk in the melted butter to combine.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds to combine. Sprinkle over the lemon mixture and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold until just combined.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes before unmolding the cake onto the rack for glazing.

6. For the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice, and sugar at a high simmer. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until reduced by half.

7. Using a pastry brush, brush the hot glaze all over the cake while it is still warm.

The cake keeps tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for 2 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Defrost still wrapped at room temperature.

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* If you don’t already have a use for the other half of the lemon consider slicing it and adding it to a chicken or salmon dish. Or deodorize your wooden cutting boards (sprinkle your board with salt and scrub with the lemon half). Or deodorize your garbage disposal (put 1 cup of ice and half a lemon in your garbage disposal and let it run, rinse with cold water).

Zebra Cake

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Animal prints is something I never really got behind. It was something that I only saw on 75 year old blue-haired ladies that are way cooler than me or on kids who looked like walking cheetahs. Not really the look I go for.

Lately everywhere I look, there’s something with some form of animal print on it and I find myself liking it. Ok, not EVERYTHING but a few pieces here and there. I can probably attest some of this animal print tolerance to my sister, she’s so stylish sometimes that it kills me. ;)

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I’m not sure what kind of demographic I reach out there in internet land, animal print lovers or haters, but I’m sure your love or hatred won’t apply to this cake. It’s a zebra striped cake.

I said it. Zebra striped cake. And no matter WHO’s plate it sits on, it will ALWAYS be in style.

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This is a simple cake needs no pillowy frostings, no fancy ganaches, and no whippy creams. A light and beautiful dusting of powdered sugar, a plate and a fork… and you’re in business!

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Zebra Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yields one 9″ or 8″ round cake

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup milk (whole, 2% or 1%)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Double Dutched Dark Cocoa

Directions:
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9″ x 2″ round baking pan with cooking spray (you can use a 8″ x 2″ for a slightly thicker cake). Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment, and spritz again. Set the pan aside.

2) In the bowl of your mixer, blend the sugar and eggs until lightened, about 2 minutes. On low speed blend in the oil, milk and vanilla until well combined and smooth.

3) In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to remove any lumps. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients. Combine on medium speed 1-2 minutes or until the batter is smooth and lump free. Be sure to scrape down the bowl halfway through mixing.

4) Remove 2 cups of the vanilla batter and place it in the measure you used for the liquid ingredients. Sift the cocoa over this batter, and stir well to combine. Be sure to use a sifter to avoid cocoa lumps in the batter.

5) Now for the stripes. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of vanilla batter into the center of the cake pan. Next, spoon 3 tablespoons of the chocolate batter into the center of the vanilla batter. This causes the vanilla batter to spread out. Continue to alternate batters, in bulls-eye fashion until all batter is used. You will now have thin rings of each batter on the outer edges of the pan, thicker rings towards the center.

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6) Bake the cake in the center of the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Dust lightly with confectioners sugar or frost if that strikes your fancy.

Playing around: you can keep the cake batter all vanilla, divide it into two different batches and tint one any color you’d like and follow the same process. Heck, I bet it would work with three different colors :)

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TWD – Chocolate Oatmeal Drops

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Oatmeal is something that I never really liked.

The texture was just all wrong, the cookies didn’t have illegal amounts of chocolate in them… oatmeal just wasn’t for me. I mean take a good long look at cooked oatmeal: it’s gloopy and smooshy and this odd cross between grey and brown. What about that was so enticing to grown ups, I never understood.

But now I’m an adult and my adult taste buds have apparently come in because I love oatmeal!! And sweet potatoes. And broccoli. Yep, even broccoli.

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The name pretty much tells you all you need to know about these cookies and the oatmeal in them made me snap to attention. Ok, ok… the fact that ‘chocolate’ came first is what drew me… but I get points for making these anyway, right?

I expected these cookies to spread thinner than they did, almost like a chocolate chip cookie, but they stayed almost the same size and shape as their unbaked brethren. I also think that I baked them a bit too long as they were a tiny bit on the crumbly side. But nit-picking aside, these were delicious.

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I, of course, had to up the amount of chocolate in these cookies so I added a few handfuls of chocolate chips. A perfect addition for the 5 year old with undeveloped taste buds in me. :)

For the recipe, head on over to Caroline and Claire’s blog Bake With Us.

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Red Velvet Pancakes

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Happy Valentines Day lovelies!!

If you celebrate, I hope that your day is filled with red and pink hearts, lots of hugs and sugary sweet chocolate.

Those who don’t celebrate, might I suggest celebrating discount chocolate Tuesday?!

I know I’ll be celebrating both!!

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But on a serious note, I’d like to take a second to thank my husband for being exactly who he is.

He’s the one that swoops in and picks me up from an upsetting situation.

He’s the one that knows a hug can seriously heal all things ailing me.

He’s the one that makes any and all jokes just to possibly make me smile.

And mostly, he’s the one that loves me for exactly who I am… and doesn’t try to run away ;)

I love you pickle, with everything that I am and everything that I have to give.

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So let’s pretend that I made you these pancakes for breakfast and let’s pretend that you actually liked them. I’d hate to have such vibrant beautiful red pancakes go to waste.

Ok….. so let’s pretend you made them for me.

Oh babe, you’re the best!!

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Before you look at the ingredients list, YES there is packaged cake mix in there. It was the quickest and easiest way to make these. After all, who wants to spend the day trying to figure out how to make totally from scratch pancakes when you have valentines to open?

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Red Velvet Pancakes
Adapted from How Sweet It Is

makes about 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup red velvet cake mix
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups milk (I used vanilla almond milk)

Combine flour, cake mix, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix. Add 1 cup of milk, egg and vanilla extract and stir until smooth. You want the batter to look like regular pancake batter; not too thin, not too thick, slightly lumpy. This will vary greatly on the brand of cake mix you use (I used Betty Crocker with great results). Start with 1 cup of milk and add more if needed.

Preheat a skillet on medium heat (or an electric grilled and turn it to 250 degrees). Pour batter in 1/4 cup measurements onto skillet and let cook until bubbles form on top, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 minute more. Serve with vanilla glaze.

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
sprinkles (optional)

Mix milk, extract and powdered sugar until glaze forms. You may need to add a little more sugar or water/milk to reach desired consistency. Mix into glaze and drizzle on pancakes.

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