Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Well hello there!  Thanks so much for reading.  I know we're only 11 days into September, but I am so proud of my family for hanging in with me and making the sacrifices needed to make sure we're secure in our future. 

Last night continued the "eat our pantry" month.  We had sausage sandwiches with macaroni and cheese (for the second night in a row) with some broccoli in it.  In Piglet 1's lunch, he took a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (with homemade jelly and bread), leftover macaroni and cheese (again, homemade), carrot sticks, and yogurt.  Pen and I are having leftover ham sandwiches for lunch.  We're splurging and buying a pork loin for this Sunday.  We buy one pork loin for around $12, and it gets us through two dinners and lunches for most of the week.  Pen smokes it in our electric smoker, and bathes it in BBQ sauce every hour or so for six hours.  It's delicious, but most importantly, paired with mashed potatoes and gravy and some broccoli with cheese sauce (our vegetable of choice), I can feed my family for C-H-E-A-P many times over.

I wanted to share some of the recipes I've talked about, so you can see how easy it is to do these things at home, too.  We do have a KitchenAid Mixer with a dough hook attachment which makes making bread very easy.

French Bread / Pizza Crust:
1 1/2 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 cup very warm water
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
2 cups water
1 1/2 T oil
2 1/4 t salt
6 C flour

In my mixing bowl, I combined the yeast, 1/2 cup water, and sugar and let is sit for about 10 or 15 minutes.  Then I added the remaining water, oil, salt, and three cups of of flour.  Mix until all the flour is incorporated, then add the remaining 3 cups of flour gradually.  I admit I made a HUGE mess while not adding the flour "gradually" and flour went everywhere.  Don't make the same mistake I made!  When I say gradually, that's what I mean.  I let the mixture run for about five minutes, letting it do all the hard work for me.  I dumped it onto my floured bar, and beat it up every 10 minutes for the next hour.  I broke it into thirds and made one pizza crust and two loaves out of it. 

For the pizza crust, I oiled my pizza pan and spread it out.  I added some olive oil and Parmesan cheese on the crust before putting it into a 370 degree oven.  We cook our crust for about 10 minutes before putting the toppings on and sticking it back in the oven.  This prevents the crust from getting soggy.  Once the 10 minutes are up, we added homemade marinara (see recipe below), pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese.  We also sprinkle some Italian herb mix on top, too. 

For the bread, I shaped the remaining dough into two loaves and put them on an ungreased cookie sheet.  This was a mistake.  GREASE THAT SUCKER!  The bread stuck to the cookie sheet and burned a tad on the bottom while I tried to get it unstuck.  I brushed some egg whites on the bread to make the tops crunchy, then cut three diagonal lines in the tops.  I let is sit for about 30 minutes, then baked at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then at 370 degrees for 20 minutes. 

I let the bread bake for the first 10 minutes, then put the pizza crust in the oven after knocking the temperature down.  Everything came out at about the same time.  The bread finished a big earlier, but we like our pizza a little darker on the top.

1 can crushed tomatoes
2 - 5 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
1 or 2 bay leaves (option)

This was the easiest thing to make.  I saw this on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, and had everything I needed right there!  How easy!  I diced the onion and let is saute until just translucent in the oil.  I don't like to bite into a raw onion, and I really wanted to develop the sweetness of the onions.  Then I added about five cloves of diced garlic, but our family lurves garlic, so you may want to ease up on this.  Once that had cooked for a minute to get rid of some of the bitterness of the garlic, I added my can of crushed tomatoes, a pinch of salt, some pepper, some Italian seasoning, and two bay leaves.  After about 10 minutes I took the bay leaves out so it wouldn't taste too . . . "bay-ee", and let it hang out over low heat on the stove.  This was where I let it go too long and most of the water evaporated out of it, leaving a really thick sauce.  You don't have to do this.  I didn't mean to do this.  I put the whole pot in the refrigerator, and the next night for pizza, I just added a touch of water to bring it back to the right consistency.  I didn't even notice the onions, and believe me, I almost always notice onions.  Next time I'm going to add some Parmesan cheese.  Everything is better with cheese.

So there you have it, our new ritual Friday Night Dinner.  Occasionally we spice things up and put sausage on our pizza, but that's generally about how far we go.  For the french bread, I buttered mine and added garlic powder to make my own garlic bread, but the rest of the family just ate it plain.

Since we had everything we needed for the marinara sauce already (and had for quite some time, seriously . . . that garlic was on its LAST leg), I count that as F-R-E-E.  But if you don't have anything, the cost would be very minimal.  The marinara sauce was enough for our pizza, as well as over our pasta for lunch the next day, and there's still plenty of marinara sauce left over.  The bread didn't make it through the next day.  Most of the loaf was gone after dinner!

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