Beverages, Food

Mama Chia {Copycat Recipe}

PicsArt_11-14-04.48.44

Finally. I have finally concocted a cheaper version of the Raspberry Passion Mama Chia beverage my daughter and I love so much.

It was much easier than I expected it would be. I’m not sure why I kept putting it off.

I began by looking at the ingredients list.

20171114_170542-1

Already I had decided to use pomegranate juice. Odd that that isn’t one of the ingredients listed. Pomegranate juice to me tastes like a combination of juices…like a raspberry/grape/cranberry combo maybe?…so I was confident that this would work.

20171114_094109-1
Raw honey, soaked chia seeds, pomegranate juice and lime juice.

First I prepped the chia seeds. I took about 1 ¼ cups of dry seeds and poured them into a mason jar along with about 30 or so ounces of water.

I actually miscalculated the amount of water I would need initially. I filled my glass bottle (see pictures below) 3/4 full with chia seeds, then added water.

That is not the way to do it.

Chia seeds absorb a lot of water. Like 3 times as much as the actual seeds. 

So after that sat in the fridge for awhile I was ready to throw it all together.

20171114_095606-2

One teaspoon of honey was just right, once I figured out how to stir it up (stir with a metal skewer then shake vigorously).

A bit of lime juice added to the pomegranate juice added another element to the flavor that made it pitch-perfect, and just like the Mama Chia beverage I remembered.

20171114_095626-1


 

Rachel’s Copycat Mama Chia Recipe

Makes about 10oz (1 serving).

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup soaked chia seeds*
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime juice

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in liquid measuring cup.
  2. Pour into desired container.

*To make about 25oz/3c. of soaked chia seeds, I put about 1 ¼ cups dry chia seeds into a quart (32oz) mason jar. I filled the jar with water, shook up the jar and let it sit in the fridge about 24 hours.

Cost:

For 10oz of this Mama Chia brand drink from Aldi, it was $2.29. My version was only $1.28 for the same amount.

Granted, my recipe doesn’t have the same exact ingredients. But the taste is very similar and still delicious.

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Desserts, Food

Accidental Hot Fudge

PicsArt_07-31-12.49.20

 

A few days ago I accidentally made hot fudge. Want to know how? It goes like this…

My son J demanded wanted no bake cookies. I thought that was a good idea because I love them too.

Out came the recipe and I began making them. Butter, sugar, cocoa…oh and almond milk. But then it looked strangely soupy. Oh no I added 1 cup of almond milk instead of 1/2 cup. I didn’t want it to go to waste so…

I added double the amount of butter, sugar and cocoa. Let it boil for 1 minute as usual. Then poured it into a glass measuring cup. It was about 2 cups so I poured out half back in the pan and made the cookies like normal.

Except now I realise that I had a double recipe’s worth of milk and varying degrees of the others. The butter, sugar and cocoa were at the same level but the peanut butter and oats were still at the half-batch amount.

No wonder they looked like pancakes. Oh well. They still tasted fine.

What to do with the rest of the liquid? Well it certainly looked like chocolate syrup. I wondered what would happen when I froze it.

So I poured it into a cake pan and popped it in the freezer. I forgot about it until the next day when I brought home a pint of frozen custard.

When I pulled off the plastic wrap from the cake pan, the chocolate sauce had all the appearance of “hot” fudge.

I put it on my frozen custard and it was divine. A bit heavy on the butter but totally delicious.

20170730_132021-1


Accidental Hot Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter (can sub non-dairy butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or other dairy or non-dairy milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan as the butter melts. Boil for 1 minute.
  2. Pour into a metal cakepan to cool. Cover with plastic wrap (press it to the surface of the syrup) and freeze overnight.
  3. Spoon or drizzle hot or cold over your favorite dairy or non-dairy ice cream/frozen yogurt/custard 😊

Cost:

$1.24. Yeah. Cheap. If I divided the chocolate sauce and my pint of chocolate frozen custard into 4 servings it would only be $1.31 a serving. Even for 1 cup servings it would be $2.62. That’s about a dollar cheaper than the ones I order ready made.

Yay for frugal wins!

~Rachel

Food, Snacks

Homemade {Crockpot} Coconut Yogurt

PicsArt_07-25-10.10.19

Last Tuesday and Wednesday I finally did something about my yogurt conundrum. I’ve been wanting some good non-dairy yogurt that isn’t saturated with sugar like the storebought kind.

I’ve been putting it off because I thought it would be hard to make my own. I was wrong. It totally wasn’t hard. Long process, yes. But not hard.

Why coconut yogurt? Some of you may know I can’t have a lot of dairy products. Currently everything is out except butter and cheese and just a few other things…like my beloved frozen custard that I would probably die without.

Anyway. The process began when I saw my local natural food store had this yogurt starter for sale. It was $10 for a pack of 4 probiotic starter packets. Oy. I went back and forth about buying it.

Finally I did because I figured once I made some yogurt I could use part of that as a starter and hopefully never have to buy more starters.

For the recipe, I used this one from Dawn @smallfootprintfamily and got an idea of a time frame for the crockpot from this post by Trisha @funkyfoodallergies.

From start to finish, this took about 16 hours. That seems absurd, but let me break it down. It heated up from 4-7pm. From 7-11pm it cooled down. I added the stuff and then it fermented overnight from 11pm-9amish. Very little hands on time.

20170718_160241-1
Ingredients I used: 1 yogurt starter culture packet, 33.8 oz 100% coconut milk, 2 envalopes knox unflavored gelatin. Not pictured: 1 TBS honey.
20170718_193206-1
By 7pm, the coconut milk had reached 180°.

And yes, that is a meat thermometer.

20170718_225749
By 11pm, it had cooled to about 95°. This was taken after I had mixed in the gelatin and honey.
20170719_091247-1
Bedtime for the yogurt…wrapped up in 3 layers of towels. Let it sit overnight.
20170719_125821
This was the jello-like consistency after it was transferred from the crock pot to the fridge for several hours.
20170719_130149_HDR-1
Emptied it all into a bowl in the sink.

In retrospect, I believe I added a bit too much gelatin. I calculated that I would need 1.75 packages to make a quart of yogurt. But I got distracted while pouring it in because I was talking with my husband. I’m thinking this was the reason it turned out so thick.

20170719_130404-1
Whipped it up to a smooth consistency.
20170719_131053-1
I tried some plain before I put it in the fridge again. Was planning on sharing it with L…thus the baby spoon.
20170725_094339
The whipped texture after the second time in the fridge.
20170725_094807-1
Vanilla and strawberries make it yummy.

20170725_094813

But does it taste good? Is the price worth it?

To me, the answer is yes and yes. The flavor and texture is something to get used to. As directed, I used full fat coconut milk. It was hard to get used to the unsweetened plain flavor, but with the addition of vanilla and frozen strawberries..yes. Very good.

And the price?

I calculated I made about 35 oz. (After it was whisked to a fluffy texture.) The price came out to $7.71. That’s 22¢ per oz and 88¢ for 4 oz. The last time I bought coconut yogurt at Wal-Mart, it was $1.58 for a 4 oz container. And that stuff was sugared to the moon and back. And rather on the thin side to boot. Currently none of the stores in my area carry any cartons larger than 4 oz so I can make no comparison there.

So yes, pretty easy to make. Tastes good with flavorings added and cheaper than storebought. There is a bit of investment initially, but I think its worth it. Per batch the price is right. I’m calling this one a triple win 🙂

~Rachel

Food, Snacks

Homemade Graham Crackers

PicsArt_07-12-12.34.11

Last night I made Rachael Ray’s Penne with Turkey and Broccolini for supper. It’s one of my go-to recipes that seems to be easy, tasty and well-liked by everyone. We also had cucumber spears and berry fruit salad.

But that’s not what this post is about.

After supper I decided to make homemade graham crackers again. I think this is my 4th time making them. Little House Living has a fantastic recipe going on. I love her blog. And she’s right, this recipe is simple and yummy.

My family loves these so much. Its fun for me to make too and I know exactly what is in them. Plus, you know, I get to sneak a few bites of the dough. We still eat graham crackers from the store, these just make for a different change of pace. Kinda like homemade pizza adds spice to the pizza game. This recipe does that for graham crackers.

PicsArt_07-12-12.07.01
Mixing.

I got to use my Hatian vanilla! It smells so good. I followed the directions and added 1/2 of the recipe amount, since it’s concentrated.

PicsArt_07-12-12.18.35
Prepping the dough for baking.
PicsArt_07-12-12.34.11
The marvelous finished product.

These pictures seem like the Instagram type. However, since I am sans Instagram, you get to see them here 🙂 Plus I get bored of listing pictures sometimes. Collages are much more fun.

A few observations about the recipe.

  • Parchment paper does work well for sandwiching the dough during the rolling process. Plastic wrap will work too but it is very annoying to re-adjust. In a pinch you could use 2 gallon ziplocks with the sides cut out.
  • Experiment with thickness. I like mine thicker, more like a cookie. My son J prefers his crackers to be thin and crispy.
  • I used a fork instead of a toothpick to prick the dough..easier and takes a bit less time 😉
  • I baked mine at about 385-390° for 15 minutes. They could have stood a little less time but still taste really good.

Cost:

I broke down the pricing for storebought vs. homemade and this is what I found…

Homemade: $2.06 for 1 recipe. This makes at least 25 squares. So 8¢ per square.

Aldis is: $1.29 for about 52 squares (as well as I could figure our box is nearly empty and the serving size was vague). That’s per square.

Comparable? For me the homemade is worth it. Although they aren’t as shelf stable. But the taste..there is no comparison with the taste.

You can taste the crisp buttery goodness, the molasses and cinnamon. The crispy just baked texture. Heaven. Can you tell I’m currently eating some?? 😛

Last night I officially copied down the recipe and put it in my 3-ring binder that holds all my grocery, food and meal stuff. Right next to the recipe for homemade goldfish crackers 🙂

~Rachel

P.s.- If you’re looking for more healthy snack ideas for your kids (or yourself as well) check out my post Favorite Toddler Snacks.

P.s.s.- Sub non-dairy butter and this recipe is dairy-free! I haven’t tried it yet but I see no reason why it wouldn’t work.

Food, Snacks

Strawberries & Cream

0225151151

Howdy. Its been a long time! I bet you all thought I abandoned this blog. And yes I did have to clear away some spiderwebs (figuratively and literally) as I sat down to write this post. Truth be told, I was looking for a perfect recipe to share. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, really. I tried this and that but nothing seemed good enough.

Then we took a vacation to Florida. We’ve been back for almost a week now but the memories and the sun still linger with me. It is so beautiful down there. Most of you know that I live in the cold northern state of Ohio. Which, yes, some states in the continental US may be colder. But I doubt any of them have such wildly unpredictable weather as we do. That’s mostly reserved for the spring and fall seasons where we famously run the ac and heat both in one day. Anyways. Its been a bad winter for everyone. On our trip down south, we saw snow as far south as Georgia. And later we heard that Hawaii and Florida are the only two of the 50 states that haven’t gotten snow this winter. It has seriously been so harsh and awful for everyone. But I know that spring is on its way. I’ve heard the birds sing more lately and that’s brought a smile to my heart.

It was no surprise that it was very crowded down in Florida. Apparently everyone wanted a piece of the Florida sand and sun. We saw license plates from all over. East coast. Texas. Even Ontario. The locals said this is the busiest tourist season they’ve seen in..possibly forever. Which is nice for the economy.

But besides all that lovely sun the other thing that the state is known for is..the food. And I don’t just mean seafood. Though I do love that..we don’t get “fresh” seafood in the big OH. What I’m talking about is the produce. Amazing and fresh and wonderful. All of it. We visited a produce stand before we left and I picked up some lovely oranges, bananas, apples and strawberries of course.

Growing seasons and peak produce seasons vary from state to state. Just because something is available in the grocery store year-round does not mean that it is necessarily good, as I’ve tried to communicate in my past produce posts. Strawberry season in FL has just begun. I think it may take a bit longer for it to reach the northern states. According to ourohio.org, strawberry season for Ohio is in May and June. (source) When we reach full summer though the season is usually spent across the country. So even though they aren’t as good in other states yet, if you live down south, you may be able to find some nice berries.

I’ll admit it, I get jealous of those Florida folks! They have good food and lovely beaches..so much vitamin D. But then I remember the things I love about my home state. We may not have palm trees but we have many more varieties of  trees that change color in the fall. Not many sandy beaches but we do have good solid dirt to grow crops and gardens. We may have cold noses in the wintertime but it gives us a chance to stay indoors and slow down and plan for the year ahead. And to write food blogs while our darling sons and husbands are asleep. Ha.

Alright onto the actual food.

If you’ve never made your own whipped cream then you really ought to give it a try. It is so divine. And aside from a hot fudge sundae, nothing goes better with whipped cream than fresh strawberries. Ok maybe pumpkin pie. But not until Thanksgiving.

To make it, all you need is heavy whipping cream, a whisk and a little sugar.

0225151101a

A bigger whisk would make it easier. But if your whisk is on the petite side like mine, take heart! I did it and so can you. All there is to do is pour that heavy whipping cream into a bowl and whisk away till its light and fluffy. Or if your kitchen is a part of the modern world you can delegate the task to a mixer. (Lucky.) As it is, hand whisking builds character 🙂

0225151118

In about 15 minutes, you will have this. Yes it did take me 15 minutes and it got a little discouraging along the way. But I’m glad I didn’t give up. And fun fact, if you continue whisking you can make your own butter! I wasn’t feeling that adventurous but it does sound like an interesting activity for the future. I’ve also heard that you can recruit your kids to make butter by putting whipping cream in a small glass jar and letting them shake away.

Then you add sugar. This time I tried it with powdered sugar. In the past, I’ve tried it with granulated sugar and I like it better that way. The grainy texture makes the whipped cream taste better in my opinion. Just add in however much tastes good to you, a little at a time.

0225151146a

0225151146

0225151123

0225151123a

My son took a few bites of whipped cream. I really can’t convince him of the yummy-ness of strawberries just yet though. Ah well. I thought they were quite delicious.

Even if you don’t live in a southern state, you can take confidence in the fact that Spring is only weeks away. The new season will bring new foods and a kinder weather forecast for the winter weary. Until then, happy cooking and stay warm!

~Rachel

Food, Seasonal Food

Seasonal Fruit: Pomegranates

It’s that time of the year again. In my state, fall is starting to dwindle into a colder, duller time of the year. How dismal. To challenge myself, I’m going to try to blog about one fruit or vegetable that is in season during the winter months. Preferably one that I’m not as familiar with.

Honestly its so dark and dreary already in the winter and I feel like not a lot of things are in season during the winter time, so this should be a good challenge for me.

I shall begin by introducing a seasonal superfruit. This fruit is in season for a 2-3 month span, beginning as early as mid-August and potentially extending into December, depending on where you live. I just noticed them at my local grocery store about a month ago, yet they have just this week (11/5) gone on sale at Aldi. 69¢ a piece! That is an excellent price for our featured fruit.

About nutrition…the FAQs state state that this superfruit is so called because of the powerful antioxidants it contains. Better than red wine? I’ll take it! They are also high in potassium and vitamin C, to boot. Supposedly half of a this fruit has 25% of your daily vitamin C requirement and about 10% of your daily potassium. But it was the antioxidants that intrigued me.

1106141339
Pomegranates. Gorgeous pinky-mauve on the outside…
1106141343
And full of jewel-red “seeds” on the inside.

The seeds are actually referred to as arils…I thought it was a bit of a funny term myself. Wiki enlightened me. Basically an aril is a part of a fruit that encloses a seed. Wiki points out that nutmeg has an aril, called mace in the spice world.

(Yes, I used a red towel under my cutting board. I would recommend it, as the juice can stain fabric and other surfaces very easily.)

1104141424

 

The unique thing about a pomegranate is that the aril is really the only edible part of the fruit. The peel and pith are really too bitter to eat.

Or so I’ve heard. Didn’t personally want to give that one a go.

There are basically 2 options for eating a pomegranate: 1) eat the arils whole or 2) juice the pomegranate arils.

I tried eating them whole and did not particularly care for it. Wasn’t crazy about those crunchy seeds. But that was ok, because I happened to be borrowing a juicer from a family member. Besides using a juicer, I’ve heard that you can manually juice a pom using a juice press. A juice press is nice because all you do is cut the fruit in half, pull down a lever and ka-bam. Juice.

If you’re using a juicer though, you need to extract the seeds before putting them into the juicer. There is an easy method for this involving a bowl of water and a metal slotted spoon.

1104141350[1]

 

Can I just say how much I love any recipe that allows me to vent my frustration through pounding? Does that sound odd? It was a great stress relief to de-seed these pomegranates. After pounding away for about 30 seconds, I peeled the fruit a bit to get the few remaining seeds out. This would be a good activity to do with your kids, too. It was really a lot of fun.

Then I scooped out the pith that was floating in the water and rinsed and sorted the arils.

1106141405

 

Aren’t they gorgeous? They look like little jewels. I measured 2 1/2 cups of them. Then I carefully poured them into the juicer. This is the one I used. It’s actually not too pricey. This isn’t a high end model though. I think if you’re a serious juicer a bigger investment would be in order. But I’m not serious. And my borrowed juicer suites me just fine.

source: Amazon

It looks like so. My kitchen counters were not so picturesque. But here the juicer is after I used it. Talk about an explosion of pink! It did an excellent job.

1106141418

 

 

 

1106141423
Juice! This is from the 3 pomegranates that I bought from Aldi.

1106141417

Those 2 1/2 cups of arils made nearly 1 cup of juice! Total price=$2.07. I drink it in 1/3 cup servings, costing me 69¢ each.

And it was delicious. I would describe the taste as similar to grape, raspberry and cranberry juice, yet not really like either one. Pomegranate juice has its own thing going. What is your favorite seasonal superfood?

1104141420

1104141421

 

~Rachel

Food, Main Meal

Homemade Pizza: Part 2

Here’s the second part! The ending of our pizza story.  In part 1, I showed you how to make pizza dough from scratch, without the use of a bread machine. I referenced Erin’s website for the dough recipe. It closely follows the recipe in her $5 Dinner Mom (2009) cookbook with the exception of 2 Tablespoons of Parmesan cheese added in the kneading process.

Here is where we left off.

100_3913

100_3912

During part of the hour that it was rising in the oven, I grated my mozzerella cheese. I typically use more than this. I forgot I was using it for pizza later and J and I ate some. Scatterbrained 🙂

100_3915

Here I have made my pizza sauce and am browning about a 1/2 lb. ground beef with onions and seasonings (italian seasoning, oregano, basil, s&p). The pizza sauce is very easy to make. It is nothing but 2 cans (8oz ea.) of tomato sauce; 1 tsp. each of basil, oregano, italian seasoning, onion powder and garlic powder; and 2 tsp. of oil. I used canola oil. Olive oil would be a very good choice too. Tomato sauce, seasonings, and a wee bit of oil. That’s it.

100_3916
Simmering the sauce, cooking the meat & onions.

100_3917

So incredibly messy. Some like to follow a special technique for transferring the pizza dough to the baking pan. I don’t particularly have one, unless I’ve rolled it very thin. Then I will wrap it around the rolling pin and unroll it onto the pan.

100_3918

100_3919
Sauce!

100_3920

100_3921
Meat & Cheese!

I baked it for about 20 minutes, till the cheese was bubbly and just beginning to brown.

100_3923

And then…..

I had a few pieces. It was divine!

100_3926

This pizza turned out really well. It was more of a deep dish pizza. The pieces in this picture were about 2″ thick. This is due to the fact that I made a whole recipe instead of a half and did not pre-bake my crust.

I was distracted and worried, as my son was developing a suspicious cough. Had I made a half recipe and pre-baked the dough, I would have had a wonderful thin crust crunchy pizza. Ah well. It was still plenty delicious! Next time I think I’ll work on some pizza topping variations. Maybe a roasted veggie or a simple pizza margarita.

Easy, right? The sauce isn’t a must, but I do think it tastes better than store bought. It also depends on which store brand you buy. Typically, I will do a plain cheese or a pepperoni and cheese topping but some variety (and some real meat) is sometimes nice.

All together, this recipe cost me: 99¢ (dough) +    84¢ (sauce) +    $3.94 (meat, onions and cheese)  =   $5.77

Last time we ordered pizza at my house it cost us about $10 for a large pepperoni pizza. Prices vary by location but I think I can say with confidence that making your own pizza can save you $$. And even though it’s messy it can still be fun. I look forward to sharing this experience with my son when he gets older. And when I am less worried that he will turn my kitchen into a twirling snow globe of flour.

~Rachel

Food, Main Meal

Homemade Pizza: Part 1-The Dough

Pizza.

Everyone loves it. It can be a lifesaver when that pizza delivery person shows up at your door with that lovely flat cardboard box full of pizza-baked goodness. It’s so nice to have someone else cook sometimes. What woman doesn’t love that? This post is not about bashing take-out. Or convenience food. I wholeheartedly support both. Because cooking meal after meal has a tendency to get old. You would have to be pretty passionate about food in order to not be disheartened about making 3 meals plus snacks every day of your life. A break from being head chef is necessary from time to time.

I’ve bought pizza from 3 or 4  different pizza places in my town. Tried Wal-Mart and Aldi’s brand refridgerated ready-made pizza. Red Baron, DiGorno and Kashi Roasted Vegetable frozen pizza, plus a few other brands. My husband lovesRed Baron’s pepperoni. I’m more of a thin crust person. Love me some thin crust pizza margherita. Mmm. Crispy crust covered in nothing but juicy cherry tomatoes, cheesy blobs of mozzerella and fresh basil leaves=the best! Love it. Wish I had a classic Italian pizza oven so I could flash bake some right now. Delicious.

Anyways. Goes without saying that I have tried a lot of pizzas. And one day I decided that I would like to try my hand at making one myself. The pros? You choose the ingredients. No mysterious ingredients that you don’t know about. Also, your pizza will be cooked in your own kitchen. There’s something satisfying about knowing that you made this meal and that you made it well.

The cons? It takes awhile. But you can make this pizza in stages. After you make the pizza dough, you let it rise for an hour. That’s an hour of doing whatever you want (or whatever else needs done). Then if you’ve had enough, you can throw that pizza dough in the freezer for later.

But…you can also load that pizza with toppings and bake it for supper. Or lunch. Or breakfast. Personally I can’t deny that I’ve occasionally had pizza for breakfast.

So this blog is labeled Part 1 of my Homemade Pizza blog. This recipe is from: you guessed it. The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook. I know, I’m always promoting Dinner Mom recipes. But it’s for a good reason! Everything in that cookbook is easy, nutritious and delicious. I needed an easy recipe for pizza dough and I found it in that book. Bread dough can be a challenging thing to create and if you are making it for the first time, I think it’s important to use an easy recipe.

Erin has a new recipe on her website for pizza dough. Here is the link. I think that Erin is an awesome blogger and this recipe for whole wheat pizza looks really good. But the recipe is for a breadmaker. Which I do not have. Anyone else? No breadmaker is no problem. Just mix and knead the dough by hand. I can see you rolling your eyes! It’s not that hard, I promise. I’ve been making my pizza dough using this method for 3 years and it gets easier every time.

You can find this recipe in The $5 Dinner Mom cookbook, but this link from Erin’s website has the same dough ingredients as the book, with the exception of 2 TBS parmesan cheese that is listed in the book. This recipe is also made using a breadmaker but I will show you how I make my pizza dough by hand.

Begin.

100_3891

Here I have a cup of white flour and a cup of lukewarm water together in a bowl. The salt, oil, sugar and yeast are in a smaller bowl off to the side.

100_3892

100_3893After combining the warm water and the flour, i stirred in the rest of the ingredients. My recipe that I got from Erin’s book didn’t call for italian seasonings to be mixed in at this point.

100_3894

Then I let it sit for 15 minutes.

100_3895

After 15 minutes it was slightly spongy, not a whole lot though.

100_3896

Next I mixed in my remaining flour. I like to use 1 cup of white flour, 1 cup of wheat flour. I have a bowl with 2 TBS Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp italian seasonings in it off to the side, to be mixed in during the kneading process.

100_3897

100_3898

I mixed the dough with a wooden spoon as much as I could, but eventually you will have to mix it a bit by hand, pressing the dough pieces together till they form into a ball. I decided to use a wooden cutting board or “bread board” to knead my bread on, instead of my counter. I will have to say that I liked it a lot better.

100_3899

I put my dough ball on my floured bread board.

This is my least favorite part of the process. It took me 7 1/2 minutes of kneading to get it to the right texture. (Soft baby skin texture, as Erin likes to put it.) To knead the dough, you fold it in half, then press down and push away from you all in one motion.

100_3904

Step 1: stand your dough ball on one end, then with *both* hands fold it in half.

100_3905

100_3906

Step 2: Press the folded dough down with your palm and heel of your hand.

100_3907

Step 3: Use the heel of your hand to simultaneously roll and flatten the dough. Repeat until the dough is smooth, elastic and has the texture of “soft baby skin”.

After the kneading is done, I add my parmesan cheese and italian seasoning to the dough. This isn’t an absolutely necessary step, but it does add a lot of flavor to the dough, and compliments the pizza sauce nicely.

100_3909

I added it a little bit at a time by sprinkling it on the bread board, squishing down the dough on top of it, then kneading it into the dough. In the past I’ve tried to add it all at once and it didn’t work as well for me that way

100_3910

100_3911

Now the seasonings are fully incorporated and it is time to let the dough rise. The $5 Dinner Mom cookbook I used said to grease or flour a bowl, then put the dough in and cover it with a towel and let sit in a warm place. I did not like the vagueness of “a warm place”. A lot of places in a kitchen can be warm but how do you know what the optimal dough rising environment is? (Yes, very technical I know.) I can’t remember where exactly I got this tip, but I’ve heard a good place to let your dough rise is in your oven, with a bowl of hot water on the shelf underneath your dough. This method has always worked well for me.

100_3912

Here the dough is in a greased, slightly icky bowl.

100_3913

And in the oven, with 2 bowls of hot water, for good measure. After that, you close the oven door and let it rise for an hour while you take a break!

100_3914

My little cutie fell asleep as I was making the dough. I laid him down for a nap 🙂

This ends Part 1 of my 2-part Homemade Pizza post. Part 2 will follow soon! I will show how I prep my pizza dough for baking and how I made the sauce and toppings. Plus, a picture of the finished pizza before I devoured it. Yum. It was seriously gone in like a 24-hour period. Looking forward to sharing the rest with you 🙂

~Rachel