Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pantry Challenge - July 2012

I'm a few days behind in joining, but I am joining a Pantry Challenge over at the blog.  I have been looking for an active challenge to help me use up what I already have in my pantry, fridges and freezers.  I did really well in February and March (I believe those were the 2 months) by only going to the store for milk, eggs, and cheese once or twice during that time.  Somewhere around then I started buying produce from  If you've never heard of BountifulBaskets I can tell you it is pretty awesome.  We get a basket full of fruits and veggies every 2 weeks for $16.50.  I did price out what I got at King Soopers once and I would have had to spend $33.50 and still not get everything I got in my BountifulBasket.  Normally I would pick up lettuce, onion, tomatoes, maybe some bananas and that is about all I'd get from the produce section (unless they had fresh corn at a good price).  Now I get tons of fruit and veggies and we eat them!  But this post is not about BountifulBaskets.  It is about using up what I already have in the house.  I'm combining this with the menu planning I've been afraid to jump into wholeheartedly but here we go now!

Since this is my first challenge, I am not going to set any outrageous goals (some people commit to not going to the grocery store at all or send only $10 in a month on food, etc.)  I am going to do my best to make meals that use what we already have in stock without extraneous trips to the grocery store.  However if I find boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.49/lb you can bet I'm going to restock my refrigerator.

Do you want to join us??

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Easy Pizza Dough

Easy Pizza Dough

Here is a very easy pizza dough recipe. It can be made in your bread maker or your mixer.  I have included instructions for both below.  I use this for homemade pizza and pizza pockets.  It is very delicious!

This recipe makes enough for 2 large pizzas with medium thickness.  

1 1/2 cups warm water
4 tsp yeast
4 tsp honey
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Your favorite spices (some things I use: garlic salt, italian seasoning, onion powder, parsley, dried chopped onions, McCormick's rosemary garlic and bell pepper seasoning, Parmesan cheese)

Instructions for Bread Maker:
Put water and honey in bottom of pan, add flour.  Make well on one side and add yeast.  On other side, make another well and add your seasonings.  Close the lid, push the dough setting and let it do its magic.  Because I am at high altitude or depending on how much additional dry ingredients were added, you might need to add just a little bit of extra water.  I let the bread maker mix the ingredients and if it seems like it is not forming a ball then I add a little extra water (usually a few drops to 1/8 cup).  Don't add too much water.

Instructions for Mixer:
Put water and yeast in bottom of mixing bowl and let bloom for about 5 minutes.  Add honey, turn on mixer and start adding flour in slowly (if you have mixer on too high you will have flour everywhere - I speak from experience here). If you have to, use spatula to get flour off the sides.  Add in your spices/herbs.  If too dry add in small amount of additional water until dough forms a ball.  Put into a large bowl coated with oil or cooking spray and cover with a towel.  Let rise for about 2 hours.

Instructions for both methods after rising:
Flour large cutting board or counter and turn dough out on to board.  Knead for a couple of minutes.  Cut dough in half and put one half to the side.  Roll out with rolling pin.  If you like thick don't roll it so thin.  You can also use this to make pizza pockets/calzones.  I like my calzones to be thinner so the dough cooks through.  Remember this recipe makes enough for 2 large pizzas (I have a 16" pizza pan) with a medium thick crust.

On pizza pan, sprinkle a bit of corn meal to keep dough from sticking.  Put rolled out dough on pan and top with your favorite sauce and toppings and bake in oven.  Depending on your ingredients, I generally cook at 400 degrees for 14-18 minutes.  

If you want to make a cheese stuffed crust, roll out crust about 1 1/2 inches bigger than your pan on all sides.   Tear mozzarella cheese sticks into about 2-3 long strips each and put along edge of crust and roll in.  Crimp along all edges with fingers to keep cheese from leaking out.

Taco Casserole

Here is a recipe I got from my wonderful mother-in-law.  It is a nice easy meal and very good.

Taco Casserole

2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 pkgs taco seasoning (depending on how strong you like it)

1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can evaporated milk
1 can enchilada sauce
2 cups monterey jack/colby or mexican mix cheese (a good melting chicken)

Brown ground beef, onion together in large skillet or pot. Add taco seasoning and mix.  Add both soups, evaporated milk and enchilada sauce.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Spray 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Line bottom of baking dish with nacho flavored Doritos*.  Pour in meat mixture and top with grated cheddar cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees until cheese melts and mixture is bubbling well along sides.

Remove from oven and let set up for 5-10 minutes.  Serve with sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa or other favorite toppings.  My husband also enjoys eating the leftovers in tortillas.

* I did not have the nacho flavored Doritos so I used plain tortilla chips and sprinkled them with taco seasoning.  You want a good layer of chips, don't make it too thin.  I also sprinkled the top with some taco seasoning after I put on the cheese.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fell off the Face of the Earth

Ok, so I did not really fall over the face of the earth, but my blog has been ignored for the last several months.  So what have I been doing during this time?  Well to tell you the truth, I haven't been doing much crafting.  I think I got burned out after doing several swaps and crafting 3-6 days a week for almost 3 years.  I just needed a break from it all.  I did make (and mail) about a dozen Christmas cards and have been getting together with friends about once a month since November so I'm slowly getting back into it.

I also got into couponing which was taking A LOT of time.  I have found an easier way to organize my coupons though so it does not take near as long (I file my inserts by date and only cut the coupons I need for my shopping trip).  By couponing, I cut my grocery bill from $125/week to $35-$40/week (and now I spend that about once every 2 weeks!!).  Occasionally I will still have a bigger trip but that is usually when I am loading up on meat or don't have coupons for the things I am buying.  I have quite a stockpile now and am trying to use what I have for our meals.  It is working really well so that other than picking up a couple of special items for my daughter's birthday dinner, I have been able to cook for us using items in my stockpile. What is even better is that I have been able to make about 3-4 meals and snack/side items for a family who is having to spend a great deal of time at the hospital as their son has been in ICU for almost 2 weeks.  So the last 2-3 weeks, I have been cooking a lot more.  We are really enjoying making homemade pizzas and crockpot applebutter (so easy).  As soon as I can get a good hamburger deal (93% lean), I am going to make homemade pepperoni!  Here's the recipe if you are interested.  I haven't tried it yet because hamburger is too expensive right now.

I also spent a good deal of time over the Christmas Holidays to work on my genealogy which I've not touched much in the last 18 months or so.  Felt so good to find some new info!  I can't wait until April 2nd when the 1940's census becomes available.  I know, I know, but for genealogists this is a goldmine of information!  Call us weird, because we are!

So if you start seeing posts unrelated to crafting, just remember that I warned you first!