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No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread

I have been in search of the perfect Crusty Bread recipe. You know, the kind you find in great Italian restaurants that have a gorgeous crackly crust and a chewy inside, perfect for dipping in olive oil? Well here she is folks.

 No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread

The dough comes together in minutes and requires only four ingredients and hardly any effort on your part. FOUR! All she needs is a little time to become something wonderful. This is the easist bread you’ll ever make. For anyone who’s terriefied of baking bread (once upon a time I was too) this is your new BFF. Seriously, this is THE easiest bread I think you can make.

No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread 2

This recipe is adapted from Jim Lehay’s minimalist approach to bread baking: let time do the work. Throw your ingredients together tonight and be enjoying fresh baked bread tomorrow. And what isn’t more comforting that the smell of fresh bread floating in the air as the days and nights get colder?

No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread

No Knead Artisan Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup water

Directions

1. In a mixing bowl add the dry ingredients. Using your hands, or a fork, blend the dry ingredients.
2. Pour in the water and mix. Pull together the dough using your hands or a wooden spoon.
3. Scrape any excess flour from the bottom and sides of the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well incorporated and form into a ball. Don’t worry the dough is supposed to be stringy.
4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the bowl to avoid the dough from drying out. Allow to rise in a warm dry, and draft free place for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
5. Dust a large piece of parchment paper, measuring about 24 inches with flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Scrape the risen dough onto the floured parchment paper.
6. Sprinkle some flour on the dough to prevent it from sticking to your hands.
7. Lightly pat down the dough with your hands to form a piece of dough measuring approximately 10×10 inches.
8. Fold the both side edges to the center of the dough take the top edge and fold into the center, doing the same with the bottom edge of the dough.
9. Turn the dough and place the folded side of the dough on the parchment paper and dust with flour to prevent sticking .
10. Loosely wrap the dough in the parchment paper and place on a baking sheet and cover it with a tea towel again.
11. Transfer to a warm and dry place and allow to rise a second time for 2 hours.
12. Place the cast iron Dutch oven with its cover, on the second rack from the bottom of your stove’s oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Dust the smooth side of the risen dough with flour to prevent it from sticking to the bottom while baking.
13. Once the oven has heated up. Remove the pot from the oven and take the cover off. Place the dough, folded sides up and cover. Bake for 30 minutes at 500ºF
14. Remove the cover and continue baking at 375 for an additional 15-30 minutes.

3 Ingredient, DIY Facepaint

Halloween came and went again this year, and like every other year, the sons’ didn’t disappoint with any of their creative costumes.

Son #4 as Kristof from Disney’s Frozen

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Has Kristof ever looked so cute?! At some point soon I will get a tutorial up for any of you other Mama’s with another son obsessed with the frosty flick.

Son # 3 decided to go as Scarecrow from Batman. The hubs and I had fun putting our heads together helping him make his mask.

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While he may have terrified several young neighbors, I know the cheeks under that mask.

And then we have Son #2

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The. Hulk.

Don’t get him started on the 6 going on 8 pack that he’s developed and is spending every wrestling practice honing ;) This was the perfect costume for him this year.

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I should have seen it coming. I should have been better prepared.

What happens when a 5 year old sees his Bubba’s gone green and masquerading as one of his favorite Marvel characters? Yes, he immediately wants to be green too. I was able to fend off the giant mega meltdown when I said no by pointing out that we were ready to go trick or treating and he was already dressed as Kristoff. Did he want to miss out on any candy? No. Crisis averted. Actually… diverted. Since the very next day he woke up at the break of dawn to come badger me about being green.

Son #4 had really bad eczema when he was younger, so we had to be really careful about anything we applied to his skin. This led us to coming up with many homemade alternatives, even to things as simple as face-paint. Because what kid doesn’t love to paint on or be painted on?! Even though he’s aged out of most of his skin issues, I still air on the side of caution. So, homemade face-paint it is for him. Shoot, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Son #2 found his body paint at the grocery store for $1.50. Score! We were both pretty dang pleased with that price point.

So, if your kid’s Halloween costume calls for a painted face next year, or your just looking for a bit of indoor fun this Winter, take caution when considering the stock at your local Halloween/Costume store that’s likely loaded with toxic ingredients and allergens. Instead make your own face paint, using three simple ingredients that will neither harm the planet or your precious little ghoul or goblin. What’s more, you probably have both of these ingredients already.

This recipe produces a creamy paint that is easy to apply and easy to remove.

3 Ingredient, DIY Face-paint

 Easy DIY Facepaint

cornstarch
food coloring, or washable, non toxic paints
baby lotion
pallet/plate for the face paints
brushes

Directions

1. Mix together two heaping teaspoons of cornstarch with one teaspoon of baby lotion. Add a few drops of food coloring, or a dollop of paint, and mix together well until you have reached the desired consistency. For a thicker paint add more cornstarch and to make it runnier add more baby lotion, or water, to the mixture.

Sous Chef Sunday: Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Sub

The Sons’ are at it again, bringing the masses another recipe they’ve knocked out of the park.

Garlic Bread meets Spaghetti and Meatballs meets the Meatball Sub and the result is out of this world!

This recipe will leave your house smelling like a heavenly Italian restaurant and you’ll be lucky if you can keep your family from devouring it before it makes it to their plates. I think the Sons were worse than our pug that night, loitering around the kitchen and watching for any missed speck of this recipe while they waited for me to plate everything up for them.

Savory, buttery, crispy garlic bread stuffed with delicious spaghetti and meatballs… it’s a match made in heaven. How could I blame the little scroungers?!

I’m always watching the sons turn their spaghetti and garlic bread into an open faced sandwich (I’ll admit it freaked me out slightly the first few times), so I knew this would be right up their alley. And oh boy, were they sure on to something…

 son 3 helping

(The apron says it all)

Son # 2, just like his Daddy :)

He could easily (and quite happily) eat spaghetti and meatballs every night of the week. Which is why he nominated himself to oversee this particular meal.

 Spaghetti & Meatball Sub Sandwich

It may not be the prettiest presentation, but it delivers 100 % on flavor. All the sons and the hubs gave it two thumbs up. Just make sure you have some napkins handy, because it is messy. But man, you can’t go wrong with Garlic Bread meets Spaghetti and Meatballs meets the Meatball Sub! Enjoy!

Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Sub

Spaghetti & Meatballs Sub Sandwich

recipe adapted from The Cards We Drew

frozen, or homemade, meatballs (we used about 1/3-1/2 of the package)
Parmesan, and/or Mozzarella cheese, to taste (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 box of spaghetti noodles
1 loaf of Italian bread
garlic butter (either store bought or homemade)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce

Directions

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
2. Cook meatballs according to package directions.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the meatballs with the spaghetti sauce until evenly coated. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and then set the aside.
4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
5. Cut your bread loaf in half length wise, and liberally coat both sides of the inside with garlic butter.
6. Place bread in a baking dish, or on a baking sheet, with the insides facing up and bake it until the butter is melted and inside is lightly crisped.
7. Once the bread has baked, top the bottom half with the cooked spaghetti, top the spaghetti with the meatball and sauce mixture, and then sprinkle some parmesan, and/or mozzarella cheese on top.
8. Put the loaf back in the oven until the cheese is nice and melty and the sauce is heated through. Slice loaf into individual sandwiches and serve with salad for dinner.

Caramel Apple Stuffed Waffles

Apple picking seems to be the quintessential start to all things fall. I just can’t help but think about it anytime I remotely think about the season. We’ve gone as a family every fall since Son # 4 was born (I’m big on traditions), and he gets more excited about participating each year. I love the fresh mountain air, the beautiful views, and snapping tons of pics of all the sons in all their boyish glory. The hubs is all about their fresh-from–the-fryer apple cider doughnuts, fresh pressed apple cider, and sitting among the rows of apple trees, and using his pocket knife to cut slices of apple for the kids to enjoy. We always end up with at least one bushel, at most two, of fresh picked fruit to take home. I set aside some fruit for the kids for snacks, and then it’s time to get down to business with what’s left. What better excuse could I have to be making messes and being up to no good in the kitchen? I can’t have perfectly good apples being ignored and going unused. While we all have our favorite ways to enjoy them, each year I love find new favorites and experimenting with different ways to use them all up. This year we discovered not only this recipe, but the stuffed waffle.

What if I told you that this year I took waffles to the next level and stuffed them with caramel coated, sauteed apples and then drizzled them with homemade caramel sauce before topping with another heaping spoonful of cooked apples? That’s right, a double caramel apple whammy! The sons topped there’s with a little bit of pancake syrup or a dollop of butter, and washed it down with a cold class of milk and you know what? They all managed to start the day with a smile!

Caramel Apple Stuffed Waffles

 Caramel Apple Stuffed Waffles

recipe originally from Happy Food, Healthy Life

1 envelope of active yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 cup of warm milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup of melted butter
3 cups of All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup raw sugar

For the Caramel Apple Filling

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
8 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and diced

Directions

1. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm milk in a small bowl. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes. The yeast should be foamy at this point.
2. Whisk together the eggs and butter.
3. Add in the milk.
4. In a large bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, and salt
5. Make a well in the center of the flour, and add the liquid ingredients.
6. Whisk until everything is well incorporated. The dough should form into a ball.
7. Cover and let rise until doubled, approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
8. Gently stir in the raw sugar.
9. Divide into 8 individual baseball sized balls and let rest about 15 minutes.
10. Prepare the filling: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
11. In a medium bowl, combine diced apples and caramel sauce, leaving about 1/2-3/4 cup of caramel aside to pour over the waffles.
12. Heat waffle iron, and brush with oil or melted butter.
13. Stretch the ball of dough out a bit and place it on the waffle iron so it covers the majority of it. Quickly place about a large spoonful or two of apple filling in the middle of the dough. Top with a second ball of stretched out waffle dough.
14. Gently close the waffle iron and flip per the manufacturers instructions. All the toppings will meld into the dough.
15. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until your waffle is browned.
16. Very carefully, with a fork or two, remove the waffle from the iron. Continue with the remaining waffles.
17. To serve, top with a spoonful of apple filling and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
18. If you’re really in the mood for dessert, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

Garlic Ranch Chicken Pizza

For those of you who don’t know the hubs, which is probably most of you, let me tell you about his love of all things neat and orderly. To put it bluntly, he can’t function in any other sort of environment. He knows where everything goes, and if one thing is out of place it’s going to systematically drive him crazy. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me since he’ll be the first one to start cleaning or come behind me as I’m cooking and wash the dishes as I go. Even when I get annoyed, I can’t help but appreciate this side of him because he totally balances me out. For example, just last week the hubs went on a two day long streak where he decided that we would pull everything out of every nook and cranny in the house and clean it and organize it. At first I was frustrated since this had clearly not been on my honey-do list for the weekend, but by the end of it I was thankful. Everything was thoroughly cleansed, we’d swapped out spring/summer wardrobes for fall/winter. The freezers had been defrosted and updated inventories made of what was where and when it expired. Instead of dreading taking on these tasks myself and getting them done piece meal, we both felt like we’d accomplished something, we both had help, and we rewarded ourselves the next day by mindlessly relaxing & binge watching a new TV show on Netflix with all the sons. And that had been on my list.

So that was the good. The bad? I had several things in the freezer that needed using in the very near future. Several of those things were multiple pounds of pizza dough. So guess what? We had pizza for dinner two nights in a row last week. The sons thought I’d gone and lost my mind. They were thrilled. This was what was on the menu with two pounds of said dough. Several of our favorite flavors and ingredients, coming together to star in one perfect pizza.

While I can flourish in clutter, the hubs can’t. The happy medium? We keep each other in sync and have many things to show for it. Not the least of which are some damn delicious dinners!

This recipe is a doozie. If you love pizza, bacon, chicken, and ranch dressing then you are going to love this.

Garlic Ranch Chicken Pizza

 Chicken Bacon Garlic Ranch Pizza

recipe adapted from I Heart Naptime

Dough for 1 large pizza
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced and diced
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded or diced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

 Garlic- Ranch Sauce

2 Tbsp sour cream
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 1/2 Tbsp milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon chopped, dried chives
1/8 teaspoon dill
1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
dash of onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. In a small bowl combine all the ingredients to make the garlic-ranch sauce.
2. Spread the sauce evenly over the pizza crust, leaving a 1/2 inch of ‘crust’ all the way around.
3. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese over top the sauce, then evenly spread the chicken, bacon, onion and tomatoes.
4. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
5. Bake at 450 degrees for 9-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Sous Chef Sunday: Grilled Mac N Cheese Sandwich

If you’ve never had a mac n cheese grilled cheese sandwich, then you’ve never really lived. It’s exactly what it sounds like: creamy macaroni and cheese stuffed into a sandwich with extra sharp cheddar and grilled until melty inside and golden browned to perfection on the outside. Some of you skeptic, health-conscious folk might be thinking that’s just way too much starch in one sandwich. WRONG! Those were my initial thoughts too, but alas, that is not the case. The starchy side and the sandwich aspect work harmoniously well together, creating a euphoric eating experience unlike any other. It’s a fusion of the ultimate comfort foods that results in a beautiful soul food hybrid. This, my friends, is heaven.

This recipe makes two sandwiches at once. Needing more than that? Just double the recipe as needed. I’ve always got to make 3 ‘batches’. Wanting to dial back the cheesiness a bit? You can opt out of adding the extra slices of cheddar? Even the cheese is flexible? Don’t like cheddar? American works well. Prefer a white cheddar macaroni and cheese? Use white cheddar slices, or even mozzarella or provolone. Cheese is very forgiving. :)

Grilled Mac N Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich

4 slices Sourdough (or other dense bread)
1½ cups leftover Macaroni & Cheese
8 slices American or Cheddar Cheese
2 tbsp Butter

 Directions

1. In a small nonstick skillet place heat ¾ cup of mac & cheese over medium heat.
2. Once warm (about 3-4 minutes), shape mac & cheese into a pile about the size of the bread and top with 2 slices of cheese.
3. Turn off heat.
4. Butter 2 slices of bread.
5. Place bread butter side down in another skillet over medium heat.
6. Top one of the bread slices with 2 slices cheese.
7. Use spatula to lift corner and check done-ness.
8. When lightly browned turn off heat. Use spatula to transfer mac & cheese rectangle onto cheese covered bread in the skillet.
9. Cover with the other bread slice, toasted side up. Gently press together with spatula and transfer to a plate.
10. Serve immediately.

Butterfinger Brownie Cookies

When I was a kid, right after trick or treating on Halloween, my sisters and I would sit down in the middle of the living room floors, dump out all of our candy, take inventory, and then get down to completing the very important candy trading. You know… I’ll give you my Milky Way for your Twix Bar? There were a few candy bars that I always wanted to have in my stash, including… Butterfinger. I wanted them all. Crispety, crunchy, peanut buttery goodness covered in chocolate. I love ‘em which is why I decided they belonged in another favorite of mine…. cookies.

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These amazing buttery chock-full-of-Butterfinger cokies are suuuuper yum. Like, beyond yum. Freakishly yum. Yum, yum, yum. Risking life and limb, I had to hoard the last dozen or so just so I could take pictures of them so I could post the recipe. No one knows exactly what happened to those cookies after pictures were taken. Reports are mixed and slightly fuzzy.

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Did your kids manage to scare up way too many sweets this year? Instead of hauling all of that leftover Halloween candy into the office or hiding it in a drawer, turn it into this amazing treat. If they didn’t, or as would be my case, aren’t willing to part with their precious butterfingers, hit up the clearance Halloween candy aisle. And if they’re all out, no worries, they’re in stock through out the whole year. ;)

Butterfinger Brownie Cookies

 Butterfinger Brownie Cookies

recipe originally from Recipe Girl

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon All Purpose Gold Medal® Flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chopped Butterfinger candy bars (7.8 ounces)- Roughly 12 fun-size bars

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper.
2. Put butter and chocolate chips in a glass bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes, stir, then microwave an additional 15 to 20 seconds if needed until the mixture is melted and smooth, or melt in a double boiler.
3. Stir sugar, salt and vanilla extract into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring until they are completely incorporated.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda, then add the flour mixture to the chocolate batter. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Give it all you’ve got for a good 2 to 3 minutes of mixing. The batter should be smooth and glossy and thick. If the batter is cooled off, stir in the butterfingers.
5. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter onto your prepared cookie sheets- leaving about 2-inches between cookies as they’ll need space to spread out. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. They’ll spread out and puff up. You want to take them out when they’ve crackled but they’re still soft and gooey. They’ll sink and become more firm as they cool. Wait a few minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

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