Sunday, April 20, 2014

Homemade Play Dough

The other day the kids wanted to play with play dough.  Of course, the play dough was hard and yucky.  And, I really needed them to entertain themselves for an hour.  So we whipped ourselves up a batch of homemade play dough, which takes about 5 minutes, from start to finish.  And it is super soft.  And we added lavender essential oil so it smells nice.  We did green food coloring in ours, and none of the color came off on our hands. This recipe makes a lot of play dough, and if you store it in a ziplock bag, it will last for a long time.  If you have never made play dough, you really should!  (I'm saying this to my sisters, who all have young kids and probably hard play dough, as well.)

Homemade Play Dough

2 c. flour
2 c. warm water
1 c. salt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. cream of tarter (it said this was optional, but I used it)
food coloring
scented oils

In a large sauce pan, mix all of the ingredients together and stir it over low heat.  The dough will start to thicken.  Keep stirring.  It gets thick pretty fast.  When the dough pulls away from the side and clumps together in the center of the pan, remove it from the heat.  If it is still sticky, cook it a little longer.   When it has cooled, remove it from the pan and play!

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I have been meaning to post this recipe for a long time (almost 2 months to be exact) and today I decided I would finally do it!  I needed to share this because it has changed our life.  We have Stromboli all the time now.  We make it for friends who come over for dinner, we make it for people who are sick and need a meal, and we make it for ourselves because we like it that much.

The first time I made this recipe I did it for Valentines day and thought I would get creative by shaping it into a heart.  I will admit, I was pretty pleased with the result.  It looked so beautiful!  Even with the cheese spilling out and the dough busting out at the bottom, it was still so goldeny delicious.  I got the recipe from this blog and I used her pizza dough recipe too.  The only change I really made from her recipe is that I didn't ...This is Eliza!

My post was highjacked.  As I was saying, the only real change I made was that I left the sauce off and we dipped our Stromboli! (you always have to say it with an exclamation point) in the sauce while we ate it.

The pizza dough recipe is this:
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey {or sugar}
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 cups bread flour {give or take 1/2 cup...depending on the heat & humidity}
for the cheesy garlic bread sticks-
1/2 recipe Fail-Proof Pizza Dough from above
2 tablespoons softened salted butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese {use the real stuff!}
1/4 pound grated mozzarella cheese
{salt & pepper, if desired}


For the pizza dough--In a large mixing bowl, preferably that of a stand mixer, stir yeast and honey into warm water. Sit for 5-10 minutes or until bubbles form and mixture starts to foam. This tells you that the yeast is alive and kicking. Pour in salt, oil and half the flour and mix. Once that flour is incorporated, start adding flour in bit by bit until you get the pizza dough to the consistency you want: slightly tacky, but when you touch it it doesn't stick to your hands. Once you reach this stage, knead for 6 minutes. Turn a timer on and walk away! Resist the temptation to stop earlier than 6 minutes! That seems to be the magical number. The dough should be smooth and easy to work with. And the bowl should be clean! {*This is the point when you could freeze your dough!! Divide into portions, place into freezer bags, seal removing all air and freeze. To use, remove from freezer and let sit out to get to room temperature and double in size; 6-8 hours. Then use as you'd like.} Lightly grease the bowl & the dough so it doesn't dry out, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise 1-2 hours. That's it! Use as desired.
For the Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks- Preheat oven to 500 degrees with pizza stone inside. {If you don't have a pizza stone, use an upside down cookie sheet...a tip I got from Natalie!}
Mix butter and garlic in a small bowl and set aside.
Spread pizza dough out into a 12-inch circle on parchment paper. {This makes it easier to transfer to the pizza stone.}
Spread the butter and garlic mixture over dough and top with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Top with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper, if desired. {That step is totally optional!}
I copied the recipe straight from Lauren's Latest.  I love her site too, in case you are in the mood to browse a food blog.
Once the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 500, split the dough in two and then roll out a rectangle shape.  spread the cheese on one-third of the dough and then spread your toppings on top of that.  My favorite toppings are red onion, diced bell pepper, and spinach.  
Once the toppings are on, grab an egg and beat it (just beat it! No one wants to be defeated!) in a bowl.  Fold the shorter edges in about an inch and baste the folded edges and the third of the dough left without toppings.  

Roll the dough, beginning at the end with the toppings and roll until shaped like this:

Only you can keep it shaped as a straight log if you don't love your family as much as I do...

Place the log on top of a pizza stone or upside down pizza pan.  I wasn't sure why it said an upside down pan but then I tried it without and the Stromboli! didn't brown quite as evenly.  Next, baste the log with the egg and sprinkle pizza flavored herbs on top (I use a spice I own called Pizza Spice but I'm sure a little basil, oregano and garlic would do just fine) and some parmesan cheese. Slit the top of the Stromboli! every inch and a half or so.

Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and beautiful.

Cut it up into slices and dip in whatever favorite pizza sauce you might own.  Or  if you're like me and never have pizza sauce on hand, whatever spaghetti sauce you have lying around.

And viola!  You are done and ready to eat your Stromboli!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Jello Poke Cake

This is a classic recipe for a jello poke cake.  Did everyone's mom make this when they were growing up?  It definitely reminds me of my mom.  The other day I needed to make dessert on St. Patty's Day.  I was going to make coconut tres leches cake, which is fabulous, but I ran out of steam with my busy day.  Instead, I did this poke cake, using lime jello.  It was an easy way to do a lightly sweet, delicious cake, and it was green!  Perfect!

Jello Poke Cake
this is really from my mom, but I got my measurements from

1 white cake mix
1 package (3 oz) jello, any flavor that you want
1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. cold water
1 tub whipped topping

Mix and bake your cake, according to the package directions.  Let the cake cool.  Using a fork, poke the cake all over.  In a bowl, mix the jello with the 1 cup of boiling water.  Stir it for 2 minutes, or until it is completely dissolved.  Stir in the cold water.  Pour the liquid jello all over the cake.  Put it in the fridge for a few hours.  Spread your whipped topping over the top before you serve it.