Saturday, November 26, 2011

Photo #333/365: Pizza

For a long time now, I have been looking for a recipe for a really good homemade pizza crust.  My cousin, Angela, gave me one that I like, but it wasn't quite what I wanted.  I saw this recipe on Pinterest.  It is from a blog called Lauren's Latest.  Tonight is the first time I every used my dough hook on my stand mixer.  It was easy, and worked very well.   Here is Lauren's recipe.

Fail-Proof Pizza Dough and Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks 

Basic Pizza Dough
yield: 2-12 inch pizzas, approximately 1 lb. of dough
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

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. 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.

Turn the mixer on high to knead for 6 minutes. Make sure to let it go the whole 6 minutes.

The dough should be smooth and easy to work with. And the bowl should be clean!

Lightly grease the bowl and the dough so it doesn’t dry out, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise 1-2 hours.

I baked it at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Go to her blog to see the step by step tutorial and her recipe for Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks.  You'll find it at:  Lauren's Latest

This is absolutely the best pizza I ever made!  I used some of my homemade pasta sauce, sweet Italian sausage, pepperoni, and a mixture of Italian cheeses.  Give it a try!

Photo #332/365: An Afternoon at Smokey Row

I'm not really a coffee drinker, but I love the atmosphere of a good coffee shop.  I have two that I particularly like; Smokey Row and the Caribou Coffee on Ingersoll.  I spend a lot of time at both of these places during the summer, but I usually don't have much time to hang out there during the school year.  On Friday, Jacci and I got together at Smokey Row.  I love the vintage look of the interior, and it wasn't that many years ago that this building was the book drop and warehouse for Planned Parenthood.  Mom and I have been to the Smokey Row in Pella, which has a similar decor.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Photo #331/365: Michael

I was really glad to have Michael with us for Thanksgiving this year.  We missed Lisa.  She is running a marathon in Seattle this weekend.

Photo #330/365: Cat Thanksgiving

The cats were not invited in, but they had their own Thanksgiving dinner.

Photo #329/365: After Dinner Conversation

Mom prepared dinner for Lauren's family, but she joined us in the evening for some after dinner conversation.  I just love this area with the comfortable arm chairs.  Those are my feet on the ottoman.  Jacci was setting up her Kindle for Mom to take with her to Arizona.

Photo #328/365: Thanksgiving Dinner

We had an earlier dinner than usual, because my nephew, Torin had to work in the evening.  His roommate, Jonathan, joined us for Thanksgiving dinner.  We had many things to be thankful for today.

Photo #327/365: Carving the Turkey

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.  It was an unbelievably beautiful day, with temperatures in the sixties.  I drove to Ames in the morning to pick up Michael.  Later we went to Jacci and Donner's house for dinner.  Here is Donner carving the turkey, and Jacci putting the final touches on our dinner, along with my nephew, Kendrick.

Photo #326/365: Friendship Posters

I write pretty elaborate lesson plans, but I don't necessarily follow them.  In fact some of my best lessons happen when I have a mid-lesson inspiration.  We were doing a simple health lesson about the qualities we look for in a friend.  We put together these posters, which are now hanging outside our door.  Each student wrote a sentence about friendship.  They were a lot more engaged than if I had them do a worksheet.  Sometimes I am amazed by how much my teaching has changed over the years.  That's part of the fun of teaching, you always need to be learning and changing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Photo #325/365: Breakfast at the 5 and Diner

We met for breakfast at the 5 and Diner, before people got on the road to head back to Kansas.  We had a great breakfast and more good conversation.

Photo #324/365: Jana and Mark

My cousin, Jana and her boyfriend, Mark.

Photo #323/365: Centerpiece

My sister always decorates her home with beautiful flowers when we get together there.  These were on the dining room table.

Photo #322/365: Grandstaffs

We made Aunt Lola, my mom (Maxine), Uncle Gary, and Aunt Barbara pose for a few pictures.

Photo #321/365: Lola and Heather

We had our first celebration of the upcoming holidays this weekend.  We got together out at Jacci and Donner's house.  We had great food, good company, and lots of laughter and fun.  This is my cousin's daughter, Heather, and her grandma, my Aunt Lola.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Photo #320/365: Olivia Mosaic

I went to and put together this mosaic of Olivia and family.  I can't get enough of this kid.

#319/365: The Dapper Mr. A and Mr. P

Mr. A is always one of the readers at Reading Adventure With Dad, and for the second year in a row, he taught in his tux the following day.  Here he is working with his fifth graders at math club.

Another of the readers was Mr. P, my 4th grade colleague.  Now I missed seeing him in this get up, but I found a photo on Facebook, which I stole.  I had to check it out, because the kids talked about it all day.

Photo #318/365: Pirate Ship

By the time I left school yesterday, a pirate ship was taking shape in my room.  This was just the beginning of the fun at RAD.

Photo #317/365: Ready for RAD

Last night was Reading Adventures With Dad or RAD for short.  This was the tenth year for this event.  Kids and their dads, or other VIP visit decorated rooms, where a guest reader shares a great book.  We knew our room was going to be used, but I didn't know what book was going to be featured.  We moved everything out of the way so the PTA moms could work their magic.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Photo #316/365: Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

Tomorrow is our annual staff Thanksgiving feast at school.  I'm taking my famous scalloped corn, and this Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake.  I last made this cake about two years ago.  I wanted to make it last year, but I couldn't find the recipe.  Next time if I can't find it, I can come to this blog.  I hope it's as good as I remember it.  The original recipe came from the Nov./Dec. 2007 issue of Simple & Delicious Magazine.

Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

1 package (18-1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
1-3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2-1/2 cups vanilla frosting
1-1/4 cups chopped walnuts

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, water, pumpkin, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Beat on low speed for 30 seconds:  beat on medium for 2 minutes.

Pour into two well-greased and floured 9-in round baking pans.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centers comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Combine frosting and remaining cinnamon;  spread between layers and over top and sides of cake.  Press walnuts lightly into frosting on sides of cake.  Yield:  10-12 servings.

Photo #315/365: Shopping at Barnes and Noble

On Sunday, Jacci and I took a trip to Barnes and Noble.  She was in search of gluten free, vegetarian cookbooks, but there were lots of other temptations as well.  We hadn't been there in a long time.  It was a great afternoon.

Photo #314/365: Summer, Jill, and Olivia

This is Olivia with her two moms, Jill and Summer.

Photo #313/365: Sweet Potatoes With Apples

Family get togethers are a great time to try out new recipes.  This is a simple, but delicious dish that I made for our last two family dinners.  The original recipe comes from the Taste of Home Cookbook and my photo does not do it justice.

Sweet Potatoes with Apples

3 to 3 1/2 pounds of sweet potatoes
2 tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch rings
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

  1. Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until just tender.  Drain and cool slightly.  Peel and cut into 1/4-in. slices.
  2. In a greased 13-in x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish, alternately layer potatoes and apples.  Poor orange juice over top.  Combine the brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon, sprinkle over potatoes and apples.  Dot with butter. 
  3. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until apples are tender and heated through.
Yield:  8 servings.

Photo #312/365: Circle of Admirers

When Olivia was here last weekend, we just couldn't take our eyes of her.  She definitely has a circle of admirers. Here she is with her mom, Summer, Grandma Jacci, and Great Grandma Maxine.

Photo #311/365: Olivia and Grandma Jacci

My sister is, of course, way too young to be a Grandmother, but here she is lovingly holding her beautiful granddaughter, Olivia.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Photo #310/365: Uncle Kendrick

When we arrived for dinner at my sister's house, my handsome nephew, Kendrick was sitting in a chair holding his darling niece.

Photo #309/365: Olivia and Her Mamas

It is really nice to see Summer and Jill with their new baby.  They are so happy!

Photo #308/365: Sleeping Beauty

This is the beautiful Olivia taking a little snooze.

Photo #307/365: Beautiful Olivia

I got to meet beautiful Olivia this weekend.  She and her moms are here for the weekend.  She is adorable and she is my great niece.  We had a wonderful time out at Jacci and Donner's.  Basically we spent the time talking, admiring, and hold Olivia. Olivia is just two months old.  She was born on Labor Day.

Photo #306/365: Turkey Time

Only a week into November and I actually packed up the Halloween decorations and got out the turkeys.  That's a pretty good job for me.