Monday, March 4, 2013

Comfort Food: Pizza

Pizza isn't usually associated with the phrase "comfort food" but I think it should be! It is one of the few foods that just about everyone loves; it is good either hot or cold; and it's fairly portable.

Over the years, my family has eaten a large amount of pizza--most of it homemade. We've also eaten restaurant and store-bought pizza, but we all agree that homemade is best. I don't say that to brag, and I'm not being biased. My children's friends all rave about my pizza, and my husband is always disappointed when I buy pizza instead of making it. (Sometimes I just need a break from the Friday routine, though!)

I doubt I'll ever open a pizza parlor, so I'm going to share my recipe here.

Kelly's Pizza Sauce

1 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Basil
2 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Salt
several dashes Pepper
8 oz can Tomato Paste
15 oz can Tomato Sauce

Heat all ingredients over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Reduce heat to lowest setting and allow to cook for 5-10 more minutes. Remove from heat. Use two heaping tablespoons on each pizza (more or less as your taste prefers). Store leftovers in airtight container in refrigerator.

You'll notice there is no garlic or onion in my pizza sauce. You are welcome to add it, but it will alter the taste. As much as I love garlic and onion, they do not seem to agree with my husband's stomach. Therefore, I leave them out of just about everything I cook. As I said earlier, people love my pizza and I think the sauce is a big part of that (and the fact that I leave out the garlic and onion).

Pizza sauce can be used on many things, such as English muffins or breaded cheese sticks, but it goes best on pizza crusts. With that in mind, the following is my crust recipe.

Kelly's Pizza Crust 

2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups room temp Water
4 1/4 cups Flour
2 tsp Yeast

Preheat oven to 425F.
Place all ingredients into bread machine in order recommended by manufacturer and set to "dough" setting. When machine beeps (end signal) allow to set for 10 - 15 more minutes to get a good rise. Turn out onto floured surface and cut into four equal sections. Working with one section at a time, roll out into thin circle. (If you like your crusts thicker, cut into three sections, or even two, and adjust baking time.) Place onto round pizza pan, and place a second round pan on top (to keep flat); place in oven on lower rack and bake for 8-9 minutes. Remove from oven. Top with sauce, cheese, and whatever other toppings you enjoy. Place pizza directly on upper rack (so you can put a fresh crust on the the pan on the lower rack) and bake for another 8-9 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

If you give these recipes a try, I hope you like them!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Peanut Butter Krispie Treats

When I was growing up, my mom always made Peanut Butter Krispie Treats. I didn't have the marshmallow kind until I was in my late teens, and, quite frankly, thought they weren't nearly as good as the peanut butter kind. My children were raised on these peanut butter ones, and everyone I serve them to is amazed at how good they are -- so I thought I would share the recipe.

When I asked, Mom said she got the recipe from a magazine. A Google search of the ingredients turns up Chocolate Scotcheroos. I'm asked for the recipe so often, and it's so simple, I'll post it here.

Peanut Butter Krispie Treats

1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® cereal
(They're also good when made with Cocoa Krispies® cereal.)

In a large pot, add the corn syrup and sugar. Heat on medium, stirring to combine, until sugar is melted and mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat; add peanut butter and stir until combined. Add cereal and mix until completely coated. Pour into greased (I like to use real butter for these) 13X9 pan, and press it out evenly. 

This is where I stop -- these are fabulous just like this. However, you can add a topping if you wish:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Melt together, stirring until smooth and creamy. Spread over Krispie Treats and place in frig to cool/harden. 

With the topping, these taste much like a Hershey's Whatchamacallit candy bar. I prefer to leave off the topping and use chocolate cereal... or regular cereal... I'm not picky. If you decide to make some, of these, with or without the topping, let me know. I'll be over. ;-)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pioneer Woman's Spicy Dr Pepper Shredded Pork

A few weeks ago we had illness sweep through our house. Sunday morning found three of us (me, hubby and youngest child) unable to go to church. After the other two children went off to church (it's so nice to have another driver in the house!) we settled into some comfy chairs and watched some TV. I was lucky enough to get control of the remote -- better known as the clicker around here -- so I put on Food Network (thankfully, none of us were nauseous).

That day there happened to be a bunch of Pioneer Woman shows on, back to back. I'd never watched PW before, but after a few recipes I decided I liked her. She cooks real food; stuff that kids and cowboys like; down-to-earth meals. One recipe in particular caught my eye: Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork.

A couple weeks later a local store had a sale on the exact cut of meat I needed for this recipe, so I bought it, along with the other ingredients. I must admit, finding chipotle peppers in adobo sauce was a challenge, but now I know where to get them!

After a few hours in the oven, my house smelled heavenly. When it was finally time to take it out and shred the meat, I was starving! If you like pulled pork, you'll really, really like this. We chose to leave the meat separate from the sauce, so we could add the amount of "spice" we each wanted -- yes, the sauce is very, very spicy.

This recipe makes a large amount; we ate about 1/3 and split the remainder into two containers for future meals and stuck them in the freezer. I also split the remaining sauce into two containers and froze that as well. This is going to make a wonderful, quick meal sometime in the next week or two!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sausage & Spaghetti Spirals

Years ago, there was a jarred sauce called "Pasta Bakes." All you needed to do was mix it with cooked pasta, place it in a 13x9 pan, top it with cheese and bake it. It tasted great, but later in the evening someone was sure to be uncomfortable. I had to stop buying it. :-(

So, I created my own recipe! I have not yet gotten to the point of making my own spaghetti sauce (although I do make my own pizza sauce), so I use Prego. We've found that the combination of ingredients in Prego do not cause digestive problems like some of the other sauces. Feel free to use whatever works for your family.

1 lb Italian sausage
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1 jar (24 oz) spaghetti sauce
1 box (16 oz) spiral pasta
1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. While this is cooking, brown the Italian sausage and green peppers. Drain the meat and add the spaghetti sauce, then mix with the cooked pasta. Place in a greased 13x9 pan, cover with foil, and bake at 350 (F) for 30 minutes. Uncover, add Mozzarella, and bake for 5 minutes more to melt cheese.

This is a great dish for pot lucks, too! Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Molly's Money-Saving Digest (January 2010)
© 2009 The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC
PO Box 8426, Gray, TN 37615

I love to be organized. My files, my sewing and yarn supplies, my books--my home and my life! Being organized makes my life easier, and helps me accomplish my tasks quicker--which leaves more time for leisure activities.

Imagine my joy when I read the January 2010 edition of Molly's Money-Saving Digest! Produced by Econobusters and sold through The Old Schoolhouse magazine, this is a series of e-books that are published monthly. The January 2010 edition was a special treat as it included instructions on making pies by Mrs. Martha Greene of Marmee Dear. With so many "shortcuts" available these days (canned filling, pre-made crusts, and pre-made pies) the art of making pies has been set aside. That's really a shame, too; teaching children to make pies is such fun!

But, this issue wasn't just about pies. Being the January issue, it covered the basics of getting organized in a new year: budgeting and checkbook balancing, clothing inventory, tips for decorating frugally, and of course a January calendar and to-do list. What more could you ask for? How about recipes, complete with a shopping list? That's included! Or maybe you'd like tips on evaluating, prioritizing and organizing? Those are included, too! How about tips from other moms? Yup, Molly's got it! All you need to do is pull up a chair and visit Molly in the pages of this e-book.

Rounding out the issue is a listing of links found throughout the e-book, all neatly organized in the last few pages. (That doesn't really surprise you, does it?) After you've been blessed by this January issue--and I know you will be--you may be interested in some of the other Molly e-books. Besides monthly e-books, Molly offers books on organizing, recipes, and menu planning. If you stick with Molly, you'll soon have a wonderful library full of life skills to teach your children, as well as inexpensive decorating tips and money-saving ideas.

Have you visited Molly this month?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Help Lord, I'm Getting Ready to Start Homeschooling My High Schooler!

Compiled by Kathy Reynolds
© 2009 The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC
PO Box 8426, Gray, TN 37615

Homeschooling has been a wonderful adventure for my family. With one already graduated, and another graduating this year, I'm looking forward to the next eight years and the graduations of the remaining three children. Six years ago I didn't think I'd be saying that. Six years ago, I needed this book!

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine has been encouraging homeschooling families for several years now. As more and more families begin going through the graduation process with their students, that encouragement takes on a whole new meaning. Having "been there" and survived, those families are eager to share their stories and offer support to those following in their footsteps. Help Lord, I'm Getting Ready to Start Homeschooling My High Schooler! is a compilation of that support and encouragement.

Fourteen families share their experiences with homeschooling—specifically the high school years. At $12.45, this e-book is well worth the price. Regardless of the ages and grades of your children, you will be encouraged by this book. You may even find a few kindred spirits, as I did.

I've always said that if we put God first, everything else will fall into place. Imagine my surprise when I read those exact words from Phyllis Sather (p. 31)! Or, when I found Donna Rees' heartfelt sentiment, "I wanted others to be proud of my children, too" (p. 81). What a boost to my momma's heart and homeschooling mindset! I was quick to write down Donna's goals for homeschooling (p.82) because they sum up my own ideals:
  • Commitment to God and His ways
  • Development of character qualities that are pleasing to Him
  • Knowledge with which to gain access to greater opportunities for more knowledge.
Besides gaining a renewed mindset toward my own abilities to homeschool, I also found some great ideas to implement in our studies. I love a good creative writing course, but I never thought of doing Fan Fiction as a class! I'm also inspired to research the possibilities of apprenticeship programs with businesses in our community.

You can order this e-book directly from TOS but you may want to take your time before checking out. There are so many wonderful resources available through TOS! And that reminds me of another reason why I loved this e-book: the list of resources in the back of the book is fantastic! Not only do they list books and websites which benefit the parent/teacher, they list resources for the student and the whole family. Pick up your copy today!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Once Life Matters: A New Beginning, by Marty Angelo

Earlier this month I received a message on Facebook from a gentleman that I didn't know. He wanted to know if I would be interested in reviewing his book. I didn't find this unusual since I'm a Fan of a page that connects reviewers with products. I figured he found me there. I clicked his name to view his profile and discovered we had a friend in common. I then started checking out his websites, to learn more about his book.

Marty Angelo has spent the majority of his life in the music industry. He's also spent the majority of his life strung-out on one drug or another, or drunk. His book, Once Life Matters: A New Beginning, is about his life before and after his salvation—mostly before.

I wasn't sure I wanted to review the book. I'm not active in the prison ministry, or any ministry that serves those dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. And I don't have ties to the music industry—anymore. You see, once upon a time, I was very active in a rock 'n roll lifestyle. I know what it's like to be high and drunk (sometimes both at the same time). I recognized the names of some of the bands and recording artists that Marty mentions in his book. That intrigued me enough to agree to the review.

Once Life Matters is a quick read. I took almost 4 days to read it, but that's only because of two things: family obligations do not allow me to sit and read for hours on end, and strong memories and emotions resurfaced during the reading. When Marty wrote of his despair, I felt it. I've been there. I know the darkness that surrounds drugs and alcohol and the rock 'n roll lifestyle.

This isn't the kind of book you give to someone out of the blue, in hopes that they'll read it and get saved. This is the kind of book you give to someone once you've established a relationship with them, and discovered that they're looking for something but don't know what. Marty walks you through his life, showing his attitude along the way, and sharing his thought process. Bible verses are sprinkled throughout the book, giving the reader a foreshadowing of where Marty is leading.

The book left me with a feeling of expectancy. Where would God use Marty next? More importantly, where would God use me next? I was encouraged to stay focused on Jesus Christ, and to listen for the Lord's leading.

If you know someone who seems to be searching, who seems to have a hole in his or her life and is constantly trying to fill it, you'll want to get this book for them. It will show them what they're searching for, and Who can fill that hole.