Saturday, January 15, 2011

PW's Basic Pizza Crust

From the ever popular Pioneer Woman! Ree makes the EASIEST pizza crust ever and it is delicious.
1 tsp Instant or Active Dry yeast
1 1/2 C Warm Water
4 C All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/3 C Olive Oil

Sprinkle Yeast over 1 1/2 C warm water. Let stand for a few minutes.
In mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with a paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with the flour. Next, gently stir together the water/ yeast mixture and pour it in, just until combined, and the dough comes together in a sticky mass.
Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil and form dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside for 1 to 2 hours. You can also store in the fridge until you need it (I agree with Ree and think its even better a few days later.) I usually make this on a Sunday afternoon and we use it whenever we make pizza casserole that week.
When you are ready for pizza, preheat the oven to 400. Grab half the dough (this recipe makes enough for two, but I halve the recipe occasionally and it works perfectly) Roll the pizza dough out with a rolling pin or just pull it with your fingers- I usually end up rolling first and then finishing it off just stretching it with my hands. When the crust is nice and thin, lay it on an oiled baking sheet or pizza pan. Drizzle a little olive oil on the edges of the dough and spread it with your fingers. Sprinkle a little salt on after then top with your favorite toppings. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until crust is golden.

One of my favorites that Pioneer Woman makes is Fig-Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula- it is AMAZING and even Patrick loves it! Check out this recipe- and her whole site- its amazing and she has pictures of the step by step pictures of anything she's cooking.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One more "not quite as quick" update

While we are on the subject, I have one more quick update. I say not quite as quick because it wasn't a 30 minute update. Well part of it was- my part.  But then I had to have the seat and back made because its a pretty old director's chair and not a standard size which really I'm SO thankful for now because it came out sooo much cuter than if I had just put a standard/ solid canvas seat on it.

Here's the before of the chair- keep in mind Patrick has had this chair in his apartment probably since college and its always traveled with him.

 I love the chair and its so useful but I've always hated the fabric- it just looked so dated. Say hi to Stonewall Jackson McGown next to the chair... HI STONEWALL!

Anyways, after we moved I decided it was time for a change so with some 80 grit sand paper and some of this: all surface spray paint that you can tilt at any direction and it will still spray (super ergonomic!)

I painted the frame of the chair, taping off the hardware so as to keep the contrast. This paint is AMAZING. It is so easy to use and goes on so smoothly- no drips at all. I will warn you though, the fine mist will stick to anything- I had lots of cardboard down but it was clearly not enough as you can still see a little white spray paint mist on the patio! OOPS ;)

Then i ordered some fabric and had a tailor make the seat and back and this is what we got:
Pretty drastic change for such little work- and now I just love it! Especially sitting in our dark navy guest room! Perfection.

Quick Update

When we moved back in July to our ivy covered house and put all of our furniture in place (at least temporarily, as things move often around here) it was painfully obvious that we needed some sort of china cabinet or buffet table to go in the dining room:
See- its so empty looking! So we went searching for something just right. The biggest issue was that it really couldn't be very deep at all so that we could still have a chair on the end. I ix-nay'ed a buffet because I thought if it were long it would be hard to come get in and out that door there in the back right corner- that goes to the Wii room and beyond. Then we were given the opportunity to inherit a china cabinet from P's parents. We went and looked at it and it was a perfect size. Maybe a little shorter than I wished for and maybe a little darker than what I was thinking but for free and sentimental family value it was PERFECT! Just what we needed, so we brought it home and I filled it up immediately! It was so exciting to see all of our wedding china and crystal that really hadn't been out of the box!

I was content for about 30 minutes- then I was thinking- i wish it were lighter in the back so the crystal would show up better, and I wonder if I can get the felt off. My mother in law and I had already pondered what the felt had really been for. So, I decided I could probably do some sort of quick update by covering the back with .... wrapping paper!!! Its so much cheaper than wallpaper and it was pretty much already the same width as our cabinet. And I could get my hands on it the next day- instant gratification! So I went online and found some super cute wrap at The Container Store (because its such high quality and much thicker than most wraps) and found the "Pleasing Paisley"

how cute is that, and I was already in love with the name! So I picked up a roll for $4.99 and got to work. To take out all of the objects, shelves, line the back and the bottom (to cover the felt) took me about 30 minutes MAYBE and some extra strength double sided tape, which I already had. And this is what I got:

Isn't it so fun! And just a little punch of color that you aren't expecting!

And it was about the EASIEST 'makeover' if you can even call it that! you can see we've also hung the silver platter- another fun wedding gift that I LOVE to display- above the cabinet to make it feel a little taller overall. And I'm still working with the serving pieces up on top- haven't quite found an arrangement that I like, but I'm sure I will eventually! Anyways, that's my quick update for the day. I still have urges occasionally to refinish/ paint it something lighter to fit the space a little better but I'm undecided! And I wouldn't feel comfortable making any more permanent changes like that without asking first- it is a family piece after all! But in the meantime we are just loving it and all the pretty pieces its holding :) Don't you?

Random FYI- this is without the dining room end chairs that I LOVE!!! Because they are sitting next to the TV in the living room for more seating- but even without the chairs- it doesn't look this bare in real life- I don't like this picture now- the room looks bare...but its not! I promise :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

WW Pizza Casserole

This is another good ol' Weight Watchers recipe someone came up with years ago but its really good and a bit healthier alternative to real pizza. This calls for a refrigerated pizza dough but I sometimes make it with homemade dough- which is even more delicious. We have changed it up alot too it- sometimes we pull the dough thin onto a cookie sheet, instead of the more deep dish version you get in a 9 x 13 pan. We have also pulled it thin and then rolled it up to get a sort of calzone type which is fun. Also, P loves to add turkey peperonni to it. I ususally cut the slices in half and add them to the meat with the sauce to simmer.

1 lb lean ground beef
15 oz can tomato sauce (I buy Classico fire roasted tomato which is too big but usually one jar will have enough to make two pizzas and it keeps in the fridge for a while)
10 oz refrigerated pizza dough
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

Season and brown the meat. Drain. Return meat to pan and add sauce. Heat until simmering. spray 9x13 dish with cooking spray and press dough into bottom of pan and up the sides (to creat a crust around the edge). Top with meat mixture. Bake at 425 for 12 minutes. Pull out of oven and top with cheese. Then bake for 5-7 minutes longer, until cheese starts to brown.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Chicken Spaghetti- on a diet

Carolina- this is just for you!!
I've been making this recipe for a couple of years now and I don't even remember who forwarded it along to me in the first place. It is actually a Weight Watchers recipe that someone made, and if I remember or you are on WW I believe a serving is 4 points! This is a super easy throw together recipe that is cheesy and good. Very much comfort food.

3 C. Whole wheat spaghetti, cooked (I vary depending on how many people I'm serving)
6 oz. cooked chicken, shredded
1 can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup (I've also used the heart healthy)
1 can Rotel- I usually drain about half of the liquid out
4 oz - 2% Velveeta- this is about 1/3 of a small block
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350. Grease casserole dish (9x9 or 11x7). Mix soup, cheese, Rotel and garlic powder. I usually do this step in the casserole dish I'm using. Microwave it until its melted- this usually takes a 5 or 6 of minutes in our microwave and I stir it about half way through. When melted, stir in chicken and spaghetti. Use tongs or forks to mix all together and get all of the chicken and spaghetti coated with sauce. I like to sprinkle some mozz or parm on top but its by no means necessary (and probably takes away the "diet" aspect!
Bake for 30 minutes and VOILA!

Mud room... or lack there of

Being a small 1951 house, we don't really have a place to throw all of our stuff down when we walk in the door from the garage, so I am trying to make a "mudroom" out of this very small area-

If you think it already looks pretty good- it does- compared to what it used to look like. We used to have a low chest (that hit at my shins), and an ugly put practical mirror with hooks for keys, etc. The problem was that there was nowhere to set stuff, and even though we had hooks- they were tiny! So, the only thing that was ever on them was keys (at least mine) and some hats. First, we upgraded the chest. I found this chest on Craig's List for $35. The big drawers are great for storing hats, games, ANYTHING! Then the new, BIG mirror came which has been great ( Its currently the biggest/ longest mirror in the house) and my cute birdies to hang keys! Aren't they sweet:

 So I am still in the process of mudroom-ing this little space- and the back door is getting recruited. I had Patrick hang two hooks up for our coats, etc last week. And now I'm thinking we need some sort of contraption to hang on the door to throw papers, books, etc that we bring into the house because I HATE having them sitting on the chest. I would like something like this:

But we'll see- I'm going to try to come up with something a little more economical and/ or unique.
Oh and I want a lamp on that chest! Something like this:

or this:
Hopefully today will bring some fun goodies :)

 *images from Pottery Barn

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Before and Afters

The Befores (with old owners furniture in it):

Entry hall

front/ guest bedroom- do notice the ceiling which are the same color as the whole room!

 middle bedroom/ our office

hall bath- which is mostly the same- as of now :)

Master bedroom- set up all wrong

Master bath- which was our first overhaul thanks to a leaky shower pan that got us a completely new bathroom for almost free! Notice the wall to the left of the sink- couldn't even get a picture of the old shower it was so small! (well the whole room is tiny but its functional)

The Kitchen
what is now our Wii room- clearly they were not as cool as us

 Dining room- with brown ceilings and no chandelier

And back to the front- living room

One midway picture: painting the ceilings in the WHOLE house! Every ceiling was the exact same color as the room it was in- so most of the house had brown ceilings, the master's was blue and the nursery (now office's) was pink. JOY! but for sure one of the best decisions we made early on!


The entry way- where you can see the light blue-gray accent wall in the foreground and the dark smokey (actually the paint color was called slate blue...) accent wall in the dining room in the background 

Front/ guest bedroom- which we just painted midnight/ ink blue on a whim a couple of weeks ago and I'm absolutely IN LOVE with it! 

The middle bedroom/ office. Desk is just to the left

the hall bath: well the only new thing in the hall bath!
Master bedroom done right! Still missing an end of the bed bench though!

And newly refinished master bath... with bigger shower, side light instead of a wall for a more open feel, new medicine cabinet, lighting, tiles, paint, a little new plumbing and mainly a new shower pan!

Then back up the hall to our pretty kitchen which you've seen lots of!

Breakfast room (check out our fun new bar out of a bookshelf) and Wii room

Then the dining room- with chandelier and all of our furniture moved in. You can't see it but the wall to the left is the dark accent wall

And the main living room (pardon the large moving object, and my yoga station, and the TV trays from dinner...)

 And, just for Patrick- our garage- with shelving system- there is another one as well to the left with a work bench (strangely- I don't even have a picture of it!!)

Whew!! Hardly done (A few of these pictures are even a little outdated) but looking good so far!

The Kitchen- FINAL ROUND!! (well mostly)

Had to show one more picture of the kitchen finished, with some natural daytime lighting:

We are getting so close- we'll just show you our progress:
With our old oven- that let off heat like crazy and smelled like gas ALL the time, even though there was no gas leak (trust me- we checked!)

After much research and shelf pull out testing, I present you with our new range- all thanks to Sears and their 30% off KitchenAid sale. LOVE a bargain- big or small

the griddle is sitting on a long oval burner that can be used as a burner too with the extra grate- that is currently sitting in my WARMING DRAWER!!! How fancy is that? So pretty and cooks soo well. LOVE it so far- the burners are amazing- both the super burner and the simmer burner are perfect and the oven cooks so evenly. YAY- research paying off :)

Then it was granite time! Didn't quite make it for the New Year's Day festivities but it was completely worth the wait to make sure we picked the right color. Here's a before- where the counters look relatively neutral- but don't let them fool you- they were light pink! I SWEAR! it was bad. . .

With the drawers pulled out- the night before the install
And the nasty sink- that never actually sprayed at full power due to crud up in the sprayer that were very stubborn and could not be coaxed out- even with CLR!



And pretty new sink and faucet (and disposal)! A Christmas gift from my parents- funny how your wants change after buying a home! Check out that bull nose edge, huh?? NICE

look how deep that puppy is! That's a good 10" deep and amazing- notice the suds at the bottom- for plates about to get a soaking!
And this is just an up close of the granite color- its so pretty and warm.

So now the kitchen is 99.9% done- the only thing left I want to do is replace the cabinets! OH WAIT, no not really, we were lucky there. Just going to replace the two flush mount light fixtures that let off yellow light due to the color of the shade- and we are pretty sure we can tackle that on our own- like we did with the pendant above the sink! Who knows, maybe they'll be a final final round on the kitchen after this weekend!