Monday, August 10, 2015

Sally's Pizza Crust


Over the past year, I have been on a search for a thin crunchy pizza crust similar to the pizzas that we had in Italy or that you get at restaurants with a wood fired oven. Everything I tried turned out too thick, yeasty, or doughy. Earlier this summer, my friend Sally posted photos of the pizza that she made with her daughters that looked amazing. She kindly shared her recipe with me and I made it last night. BINGO! Perfectly thin and crunchy, exactly what I was looking for. My search is over.

Here is her recipe, along with the adaptations I made to do the kneading and rising of the dough in my bread maker. (I never knead dough by hand if I can do it in my bread machine!)

Sally's Pizza Crust


1 package of yeast (I used pizza yeast, not sure if that is necessary)
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup cold water (Use warm if using a bread machine.)
3 cups flour
Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water with a little white sugar.  Let proof 10 minutes until frothy.  

Meanwhile, combine the salt, honey, olive oil, and cool water in a small bowl. (I used warm water which I think works better for the bread machine.) Mix well. 
If mixing by hand: Place flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center.  Pour the honey-water mixture and yeast into the well.  Slowly incorporate flour/salt into the wet ingredients, working outward from the center.  When dough is formed, transfer to a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth.  Place in a buttered bowl and let rest, covered, for 30 mins.

If using a bread machine: Measure the flour and salt into your bread machine. Add the liquid and the yeast mixtures and knead using the dough cycle, following directions for your machine. After 15 minutes, check the dough. If it seems dry, add a bit warm water a teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together. I left the dough to rise in my machine for the 1.5 hour cycle.
Divide dough into 4 parts. Roll into tight balls. Place on a flat dish and cover with dish towel. Put in fridge at least 2 hours.  Take out 1 hour before baking.

Lightly flour work suface, and roll out each pizza dough ball into a thin crust.

Place on a wooden pizza paddle that has been dusted with cornmeal. Add the toppings that you desire.

Bake them in the oven at 500 degrees on a pizza stone for 10 -12 minutes. (Watch carefully, it took less time in my oven.) You also could put your pizza stone on the grill and cook the pizzas outside (Sally's suggestion).  

Makes 4 pizzas, about 12 inches wide.






Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"Watch Words" on the Apple Watch


I've been using the monogram feature on the Apple Watch to create a "watch word" for each week. It has been fun to try and come up with a word of 4 characters or less that gives me a phrase to inspire me or to pray about for the week!  My first watch word was "calm" - reminder for a busy week of testing in the lab.


Last week was "heal" after a tumble left me with very bruised ribs. I think I was more concerned that my watch was ok after the fall!


This week's watch word is grow - looking forward to working in my garden over the weekend. Still dealing with some pain on my side where I fell, but hopefully will be able to plant if I take it easy.


To set a "watch word," go to the clock setting on the Watch app on your phone and type it under monogram. Note that the word only appears if you use the Color watch face.

Anyone else have a creative idea on how to use the monogram feature on their watch?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Nutella Snowflake Coffee Cake


So I came across this Braided Nutella Bread on Pinterest that I just had to try it. It was surprisingly easy, but I found the dough a bit tough and bland. So I followed the technique, but used a variation on  a coffee cake recipe that I use in my bread machine. End result - cute and tasty!  So here is my version of the Nutella Snowflake Coffee Cake!

Nutella Snowflake Coffee Cake

Dough:
In your bread machine, put the following ingredients, and mix using the dough cycle according to your machine directions.  (If you don't have a bread machine, use either the dough hooks on your mixer or blend and then knead by hand.)  
2 1/2 cups regular flour
1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into one inch squares
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons quick rising yeast (be sure it is fresh!)
I always check the bread machine while it is mixing. I like the dough to stay fairly soft, so if it seems dry add a bit more water a teaspoon at a time. Let the dough rise for a couple hours, or until about doubled.
When done, remove the dough, divide in half, and form into two balls.  Let it rest about 10 minutes.  Then roll the dough into two 12 inch circles.  Cover a round pizza pan with a parchment paper circle and set the first dough circle on top.

Spread the first circle with Nutella (I used Trader Joe's Cocoa Almond Spread) up to about a half inch of the edge of the dough.

Top with the second circle of dough.  Pinch the edges together - you can brush the inside edges with a bit of water if it isn't sticking together. I lightly pressed a glass on top to mark the center. Then I sliced the dough into 16 pieces - first halves, then quarters, then eighths, then sixteenths - it helps to keep the slices the same size.  

Take two pieces and twist them towards each other.  I think I did 3 twists each time. It was actually quite easy to do this.

Repeat all the way around. Then let rise until about doubled, about another hour or so.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 to 30 minutes.  My oven actually died in the midst of baking these for my neighbors, so I ended up going to a friend's house to finish them. So the temperature or the time may be slightly off, so watch closely and adjust according to your oven.  Cover the top with foil if it seems to be browning too quickly.

Let it totally cool.  Doesn't it look cute??

I drizzled it with a glaze made of powdered sugar, milk, and a little melted butter before wrapping it up for delivery to my neighbors.


This recipe is definitely a keeper. Next time (after I get a new oven), I may try it with butter, nuts, and cinnamon sugar. Not sure if the snowflake design will be as obvious as with the Nutella, but worth a try.

Vintage Christmas


Before the season is over, just wanted to share a few ways that I used vintage items in my Christmas decorating.  After the epic flooding in my basement this summer, I lost a lot of my Christmas decorations. It forces me to take a fresh look at some the the things that I still had and see what I could do with them!


A friend gave me this old coffee pot when cleaning out her parents' home. A perfect spot to "plant" a little Christmas tree. Next year I will try a real mini one and see if the cats will leave it alone.


A bare spot on the wall where I hung my childhood plaid lunch box.


So obsessed with bottle brush trees. I picked up a package of them at Joann's last year post Christmas and scattered them everywhere. I like the look of this one perched on an upside down tea cup.


More trees and a snowman caught in a mason jar. (Made the snowman years ago, one of the few of my snowman collection that survived the flood.)


I had to toss all the Christmas wreaths that were stored in the basement. Here is a new one I put together using some thrift store sweaters I had stashed away and and some vintage buttons.


I sadly lost most of my vintage ornaments from my grandmother - the water melted the paint right of the them. Wish I hadn't tossed them and kept them as a plain silver color, but was so overwhelmed at the time with trying to save things.  A few were left, and I went out this December to antique stories to try to replace a some of them with some similar ornaments. Put them in a bowl under a tinsel tree.


I added a few red dishes from the dollar store to my stack of blue dishes. The mason jar has a solar light top that I discovered at Michaels - I'm definitely getting more of them!


I also bought a bunch of these cute little frames at Michaels at their dollar spot.  My brother recently scanned all of our family slides, so I added a few photos from when we kids. Will do more of these for next year. 


A few years ago I made some faux mercury class candle holders out of thrift store dished.  Mixed them with a pretty door knob. Put a few bottle brush trees in bleach to turn them white. One of my cats loves playing with these trees and I keep finding them on the floor, thus the wonky shape.


More vintage postcards. Twisted wire as holders in a salt shaker and in a door knob.

And speaking of cats, they did much better this year at staying out of the Christmas tree (at least while I was watching) but they still both had to check it out when I first put it up.

I hope your Christmas was wonderful! God's blessings to all!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sweater Wreath


Sweater wreath - thrifted sweaters, vintage buttons, bottle brush trees, styrofoam base, hot glue.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Shortbread Toffee Bars



Here's another recipe that I have been drooling over on Pinterest. I actually bought a bag of the Heath Bar pieces over the summer to make them, but I confess that I ended up nibbling straight out of the bag and never made the bars. I finally bought another bag and made them on Thursday night. If you happened to be hanging around the teacher's lounge yesterday, you might have gotten a sample of these yummy bars because I brought a few extras to share. Seems they were a hit, so I promised to post the recipe!

These were very easy to make, although you have to bake 3 individual layers, so you can't simply mix them and pop them in the oven. The only issue I had was that my milk chocolate chips did not spread smoothly after they were melted. I think the bag had been sitting around in the pantry for a while.  I simply sprinkled the toffee pieces on top and stuck the pan back in the oven for a couple minutes, then pressed the pieces into the chocolate with a spoon.


Shortbread Toffee Bars

Shortbread Crust  Layer

3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend together shortbread ingredients with a mixer until combined into crumbly pieces. Press the crumbs into a 9 x 13 inch pan lined with foil and sprayed lightly with non-stick spray. (I actually skipped the foil and buttered the pan with the butter wrappers.)  Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly brown. Cool slightly (about 10 minutes).

Filling Layer

1 can sweetened condensed milk (I used the low fat version)
2 tablespoons butter

While the shortbread is baking, prepare the filling.  In a saucepan, melt the butter. Combine with the sweetened condensed milk and heat slightly, whisk together until smooth.  Pour over the cooled shortbread base and smooth. Bake for 12 -15 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Do not over bake.

Topping Layer

One package milk chocolate chips
One package Heath milk chocolate bits (You could also use crunched up Heath bars.)

Immediately sprinkle the milk chocolate chips over the hot filling. Return to the oven for 2 minutes, until the chips are softened. Use a knife or spatula to spread the chocolate over the bars, then sprinkle with the Heath bits. Press the pieces into the chocolate. (If needed, return the bars to the oven for a minute to melt the chocolate enough to press the pieces in.)

Cool completely before cutting.  Store and serve at room temperature.

Original Recipe at Cookies and Cups


Friday, August 29, 2014

Lynktec Rechargeable Apex Fine Point Active Stylus - Review




I recently purchased a Linktec Apex Fine Point Stylus and I think my search for a great stylus that gives me fine point control for writing and drawing has finally come to an end.  I have had my Apex for about 3 weeks and I must say that I love it! 

The Apex is a comfortable length, width, and weight in my hand as I draw or write. To use it, you press the button on the handle for a few seconds and a blue light comes on at the tip. It will work in any application - you do not have to sync it within an app or use Bluetooth.  I have been using it with ease with the Flipink, Procreate, and Paper53 apps and also writing notes in Penultimate.  

The stylus automatically turns off after about 30 minutes, so you do not have to worry about running down the battery.  My first charge has lasted for 3 weeks and I still have not needed to recharge.


The 2.3mm tip is slightly thicker than a large paper clip. It is rigid and provides excellent control - it will write/draw where it touches. I have not had issues with it skipping (like I have had with my Adonit Jot Pro Stylus).  It doesn't not have that annoying easy-to-lose plastic disk like the JotPro does. It writes quietly and moves easily on the surface of the iPad. I love the control! However, if I am looking for a bit more "flow" to what I am drawing, I probably would reach my my Pencil or Sensu Brush.


One important thing to note is that since it does not sync with apps, you will not have any pressure sensitivity when iOS8 is released. The Pencil stylus will be able to take advantage of surface pressure, but I do not think my Apex will be able to use these new features.  I'm ok with that - this is perfect for precise control.


The Apex comes with a lithium ion battery installed and a charging cord. Simply unscrew the cap and plug it into your computer USB port to charge. The cap also stores a replacement nib tip which comes with the stylus. Handy and convenient.

The Linktec Apex Fine Point Stylus currently is listed at Amazon at $69.99 US.  A bit pricey, but I am finding I love it for writing, taking sketchnotes, and drawing. It has been worth the splurge for me!

UPDATE: I've had some frustrations with this stylus as I have used it more often. I have found that when I draw slowly on the diagonal that I get very jagged lines. This really shows when I am trying to do precise writing, which is the main reason I bought it. I don't have issues when I write quickly.  I did purchase new tips, but still having issues.  So I still recommend, but with some reservations.

(Note: I receive a very small percentage of any purchases made through my link to Amazon. Moneys received help me purchase technology that will help my students and me in the classroom.)

My Sketchnote Resources: listing of apps, equipment, examples

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