Monthly Archives: August 2012

Cooks: Pizza Crust

Every single Sunday evening in recent memory has been pizza night and movie night. I should admit that at first, I rebelled at this. I mean, it seems like such a cop out to ALWAYS have the same meal on the same day.

But, I’m a convert. I love know exactly what we will have on Sunday, especially because Sunday’s are crazy busy at our house. And, it helps me save money: I know what ingredients to look for on sale/clearance or to look for pizza coupons.

Probably once a month, we splurge and get pizza from a restaurant. That means that I’m making pizza crust dough at least three times a month. I’ve gone through a lot of mixes and recipes (mostly bad ones) in an attempt to replicate the crust my picky family likes: yeasty and bready for me and Nathanial and crackery thin for Micah. I’ve decided that pizza crust is a fine art…and I’m still trying to master the nuances.

Making the crust can get very specialized. King Arthur has special pizza crust flour and pizza dough flavor, neither of which I’ve ever tried but I plan to order some with the other specialty baking things I order for my Christmas baking. (West Texas is awesome, but for weird things like that, you have to order out if you know what I mean).

Here’s the pizza crust recipe we use the most at this point. It is adapted from the recipe on the back of the Fleischmann’s pizza crust yeast. This West Texas girl believes in working smarter and not harder, so if the recipe on the back of the package works, use it 🙂

Pizza Crust Recipe
1 3/4-2 1/4 c flour (I usually use 1/2 whole wheat/regular or all whole wheat pastry flour if I can find it.)

1 envelope yeast (I use stuff called pizza crust yeast because you don’t have to let it rise and it makes a great thin crust. Also, its one of the few specialty things like this I can find in town and at a reasonable price. HEB carries it; United does not.)

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar (I use stevia in most of my cooking now and it works fine.)

3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 c very warm water

3 tablespoons oil (I use EVOO)

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Combine 1 c flour, yeast, sugar, salt in a large bowl. Add water and oil. Mix until well blended.

3. Knead and add additional flour until smooth and elastic. Usually takes 5 minutes in my Kitchen Aid mixer.

4. If you use regular yeast, you need to let it rise for about an hour at this point. If you use pizza yeast, you can start rolling out the dough. I use a little EVOO to coat the dough and make it roll out better.

5. Add toppings and then bake for 12-15 minutes or until cheese bubbles and crust is brown. In my family, that means Nathanial gets Alfredo sauce and cheese with an occasional pepperoni or hamburger topping. Micah gets tomato or Alfredo sauce and always pepperoni with cheese. I just use whatever sauce is left, any veggies I have around, and spinach.

This makes 1 12-inch crust or 2 thin crusts. I usually triple this recipe for my family of 4.



Makes: Stress “Ball”

My youngest, Micah, has always had trouble sleeping, from the moment he was conceived I think. I’m constantly trying new things to help him sleep without resorting to medication.

Last night, I remembered something that I had made in the past…that had worked, but I had forgotten to make again: A stress “ball”. I put ball in quotation marks because what I made is not really a ball–its a sock–but you get the idea.

Homemade Stress “Ball”


1 sock (this is a good use of those mysterious single socks that always seem to show up)

1 cup rice (not minute rice)

Essential oils: Lavender, Chamomile, and Ylang Ylang (or any other  combination of relaxing oils you prefer).

1. In a small non-plastic bowl, combine the rice and 40 drops of Lavender, 10 drops Chamomile, and 10 drops Ylang Ylang. Stir with a non-plastic spoon until the rice is completely coated with the oils–it will look shiny on the surface.

2. Open the neck of the sock and spoon in the rice. Once the sock is filled, stretch out the sock’s neck a couple of times to loosen it and then tie it in a knot.

3. This can be heated up in the microwave if you want. I usually put the sock on a clean, microwave safe plate and heat it in 30 second intervals. Obviously, check and see how hot the sock is before you give it to anyone.

If the rice loses its scent, untie the knot, dump the rice in a bowl and reapply the essential oils.

Hope this gives you or a loved one some much needed relaxation!


Local Treasures: Mary’s Paleteria

The boys and I wanted some ice cream and even though we live in a fairly large city, there are only a few non-chain options. If you ignore Sonic and DQ, that leaves a frozen yogurt place (which isn’t the same as ice cream) and Mary’s. We had been to the yogurt place recently and to be honest, I was hoping for something a little more economical. The last time we went, we paid about $28. Its a by the ounce place and I’m not sure how many ounces we bought, but let me tell you, a tween boy and a teen boy can put away frozen yogurt!

So, this time, we went to Mary’s Paleteria (601 South Treadaway Boulevard  Abilene, TX 79602). We’ve been here before and I’ve always been impressed, but its one of those places I just forget about. Here are a couple reasons why I love Mary’s:


1. Its just a happy place. The decor and treats are brightly colored and always put me in a happy mood. The employees are incredibly friendly and patient with me as a try to decide, which is something I always value.

2. Its has an incredible amount of choices, flavors, and types of ice cream. There are ice cream bars or just regular ice cream/sundaes and all kinds of drinks. More importantly, especially if you are a tad bit wary of trying a new place, there are old favorite flavors like chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla and some unique ones in case you get wild (rum raisin or praline anyone? and yes, they are both awesome flavors).


3. It is very reasonable. We got two small scoops of ice cream (pistachio and cheese) for $4 including tax. These were not small scoops and probably could have been shared if we had been so inclined (we weren’t).

On a side note, I was being wild and tried the cheese ice cream. To answer your question, yes, it was actual cheese and not cream cheese or something like that. At first taste, it was kind of odd. But I started loving the contradictory tastes of something sweet with something kind of salty (If you have ever eaten french fries with a milkshake, you know what I mean). I just fell in love with the taste. I seriously think this is my new favorite ice cream.


Views: Dr. Bronner’s Magic

Since the boys are away for the night, I thought I’d “catch up” on my Netflix queue. I have a lot of movies and documentaries in there that I want to watch and I’m pretty much the only one that wants to watch them. Mostly, these are older romantic comedies, but there are a few documentaries too.

So, I’m watching a documentary on Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap.

I use Dr. Bronner’s a lot and have since I was pregnant with my oldest (so over eighteen years)! I absolutely love the smell and the fact that such a small amount lasts and lasts. For a long time, I didn’t realize they now use 100% recycled bottles, use mostly organic ingredients,and give away 70% of profit–but once I found this out, it made me an even bigger fan.

I have read the bottle and it really confuses me still, with all its text and layout issues and obscure references.

I’m not going to deny that I wonder about Dr. Bronner’s sanity, because some of the text sounds like a rant. He was admitted to a mental hospital at one point, but despite that, I admire his fanatical belief in what he believes is true: that we can all to united by one God. He didn’t care what people thought or said about him, he just said what he knew to be true: “We are all brothers and sisters because of one ever loving eternal Father”

This has made me think of all the times that I silence myself–afraid of what people will think or of gaining some disapproval or it just not being the acceptable thing to do. If I am truthful, these things usually don’t matter in the end and the effect usually is just that I end up unhappy with myself.

I’m not saying to disregard the feelings of those closest to me, but some times, especially if its something crucially important to my being, I have to ignore all these things and follow what I know is true and right. This applies to everything, but especially core direction of life and spiritual issues.

My goal is to remember and act on this more. I think good things are afoot.

Plans: Menu Plan Monday

Here’s my meal plan for the week. This is the first time I’ve posted something like this online, so hopefully this first attempt will be okay.

A couple of things:

-I am trying to follow the USDA dietary guidelines, but with a thirty something mom, a teenage boy, and a tween boy, the guidelines vary. We are going for 2 c. fruit, 3 c. vegies, 8oz grains, 6.5oz protein, 3c dairy, with me eating less (1.5 c., 2.5c, 6oz, 5oz, 3c.)

-I am a vegetarian, but my boys aren’t, so the meals reflect this.

-I don’t usually have a day where its “on your own” or anything like that—it doesn’t work at my house and the guys end up eating junk.

-I’m using a lot of recipes from Big Oven because I have that app and I am familiar with it. I use the free version.

Monday: First day of school

B- Muffins from a mix (easy!)

L- Chinese (Grandma in town)
D- Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

Tuesday: Fast

B- Old-fashioned oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, apples, walnuts, and flaxseeds

L- Sandwiches, carrots
D- Boys at their dad’s house; spinach artichoke dip

S- yogurt and fruit

Wednesday: Mexican

B- Waffles and fruit

L- Mac and Cheese (boxed and easy), green beans
D- Tostadas: refried beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese

Thursday: Pasta

B- Breakfast Burritos

L- Jucy Lucy’s Hamburgers, fries, carrots
D- Chicken Marsala, mixed vegies

S- Chai cake

Friday: Exotic

B- Cinnamon Rolls

L- Veggie Korma, rice, naan
D- Broiled Tilapia, brocolli


B- Fruit and Yogurt

L- Pad Thai
D- Bread, cheese, leftover fruit that needs to be eaten


B- Spinach/Cheese Puffs

L- Sushi (out)
D- Homemade Pizza