Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Quick Pizza Crust - Save $$ - Make Pizza at Home!


I'm always looking for ways to put supper on the table - at home - without having to go out.  Making pizza at home is one of the biggest money savers for me.  We can easily spend $12 on one restaurant pizza.  $12 doesn't sound like much until you eat one or two pizzas a week and then it adds up.  Am I right?

Most of the time I plan ahead for making homemade pizza.  For crust, I typically use my no fail, Five Minute a Day dough, which is kept in the fridge for up to ten days.  

But other times I don't have a plan and I still need to put dinner on the table.  

Last night I tried a terrific, quick, instant pizza dough recipe.  It turned out FANTASTIC!  I will definitely be using this dough all the time!  It is as easy as one of those little crust packets you get at Walmart!  Just a little measuring, stirring, and folding.  It rolls out beautifully and homemade pizza can be on the table in the time it takes to warm up the oven.

Here's how I made QUICK PIZZA CRUST At Home My Way:


QUICK PIZZA CRUST

  • 1/2 cups + 2 Tablespoons warm water (like hot bath water)
  • 1 packet active yeast (only use one yeast packet even if doubling this recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons oil (I used olive oil.)
INSTRUCTIONS:

Measure very warm water in a measuring cup.  Add yeast and sugar to the cup.  Stir gently.  Add yeast/water/sugar mixture to a mixing bowl.  Add the flour & salt.  Stir with a spoon until it all comes together.  Drizzle with oil and fold/knead a few times (like 10-15 times) until it forms a tight ball.  Let it rest while your oven is preheating.

Preheat oven to 350.

(I doubled this recipe for my pizza because I wanted a thicker crust.  But if you double the recipe, you still only have to use one packet of yeast.  That is plenty for one pizza!)

To use for pizza, spray cookie sheet/pizza pan with cooking spray.  Roll out using a rolling pin, small dowel, or a cup.  Also press until it reaches the edges.  I like to sprinkle a little cornmeal in my pan after spraying -before rolling to give a crunchier crust.  I roll my crust right in the pan.  No need to dirty the counter!  I used a cookie sheet as I don't have a pizza pan.

Top with sauce, seasonings, cheese & toppings. 

I increase my oven temp to 375 when I put my pizza in the oven - because we like the bottom of the crust to be crispy and the sudden increase in heat does the trick.


Tips for making frugal, homemade pizza:


  • Use homemade crust.  There are lots of recipes out there!  I am included the best and fastest one I have found in this post.
  • MAKE PIZZA BOATS!  Use up your stale buns, hoagie buns, english muffins, thick slices of french bread, toasting first in the oven and then topping with sauce, cheese & toppings and heating in the oven again until all melty!  These are fantastic!
  • For pizza sauce, just use a small can (8 oz) of plain old tomato sauce.  After spreading on your dough, sprinkle with a little salt/pepper, garlic powder, and oregano.  Tada=pizza sauce!
  • For pizza sauce you can also use jarred spaghetti sauce, sliced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes (using garlic powder, oregano for seasonings), even tomato paste will work!
  • I grate my own mozzarella which I get at Aldi!  I keep blocks of it in the freezer for pizza any time! I have also just used a few slices of mozzarella to lay around on the pizza - even if I don't have much.  My mom didn't always use mozzarella on pizza and just sprinkled with canned parmesan.  As little kids, we loved it and didn't really miss the cheese.
  • Load up with vegetables you have on hand.  Cook some onions, use canned/drained mushrooms, chop up peppers, black olives, brown a little breakfast sausage and add to your pizza.  My child even loves pineapple chunks and sandwich ham pieces on her pizza. Of course, we prefer pepperoni - from Aldi - and the package has lots in it and lasts forever!
  • Think outside the box!  Use leftover taco meat, drained pinto/black beans, salsa & cheddar for mexican pizza!
  • Dessert pizza!  Top with fruit, canned pie filling, cooked apples  and sprinkle with some yellow cake mix/drizzle with butter & bake!
  •  Breakfast pizza!  Top with leftover gravy, scrambled eggs, cooked sausage, bacon crumbles, vegetables like peppers, cooked onions, tomatoes, cheese!  
  • Make homemade hot pockets.  Use circles of dough, topping half with everything from pizza makings, leftovers like meatloaf, sloppy joe meat, taco meat, ham & cheese, broccoli/cheese, or even fruit or eggs & cheese for breakfast hot pockets!  Fold in half, seal like a turnover, and bake.  These keep great in the freezer for lunches!  Reheat in the microwave.


Hope you enjoy these great ideas for quick, frugal ways to put a meal on the table!


Gina

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Making Homemade Yogurt TASTE like you BOUGHT it!



For all of you yogurt purists out there - good for YOU!  I wish I was more pure in my love of plain yogurt.  For all of you who are like me and prefer your yogurt, sweet and fruity - this one is for you!

Ok... I love to make homemade yogurt.  I love the idea that I'm not getting BPA in my body from the plastic container.  I love that I made it and I know what's in it.  I love that - I did it myself!

But to confess - I'm not always a fan of how it tastes for breakfast.  I have this thing for those little plastic cups of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt.  I love them!  I want my homemade to taste just like that.

After much trial and error and lots of combinations - I tried making the yogurt with a packet of lime jello - Nope; I tried sweetening it and adding vanilla - Nope; I tried straining it so that it would be more like greek yogurt; Nope.  None of these things really worked for me.  Sure, drowning my yogurt in sweetened strawberries is delicious but I don't always have strawberries.  I needed a more "pantry loving" way to eat breakfast using my homemade yogurt.

Ding-da-ding, ding ding!  This morning I hit the jackpot!

I made yogurt this weekend using this SMALL-batch method with one quart of milk.  My plan was to use it for making these Vanilla Scones


Vanilla Scones - Just like Starbucks!

some ranch dressing/dip:



 and to replace sour cream in some other casserole type recipes.  I was also bound and determined to find a way to like it for breakfast!  

Hey-I found it folks!  The key is jam/preserves.

What is fruit in the bottom of store bought yogurt cups, but sweetened fruit?  And, what is sweetened fruit but preserves or jam?  Duh...

This morning, I put a healthy scoop of homemade blackberry preserves in the bottom of my half-pint canning jar.  In went a couple of scoops of my Small Batch Homemade Yogurt.  Next was some Perfect Granola and a few dried blueberries.

It was a feast, I tell ya!  Swirl it around and the preserves actually sweeten the yogurt.  Double plus!

This post isn't a recipe.  It's just a way to eat plain or homemade yogurt - so that if you aren't a yogurt purist, you too can enjoy the fruits of your labor from homemade yogurt or, to save a little $$$ moolah and buy the big container of plain yogurt - to mix up your own fruit-on-the bottom yogurt.

Here's how I made Homemade Sweetened Fruit -on-the Bottom Yogurt Cups AT HOME MY WAY:

Yogurt with Fruit-on-the-Bottom
  • Plain/Homemade Yogurt-unsweetened
  • Preserves/Jam (I used homemade)
  • Optional:  granola, dried fruit

Instructions:

Place a few scoops of preserves in the bottom of your container.  I used a half-pint canning jar. Top with homemade/plain (unsweetened) yogurt. Add any toppings/granola/dried fruit when ready to eat and stir to swirl all of the flavors together.


Yum!  Enjoy!


Gina




Monday, February 29, 2016

Old Fashioned Noodles & Tomatoes - Pantry Cooking



A friend of mine at work brought leftovers for lunch the other day.  It was a bright little bowl of macaroni and tomatoes.  I had to ask her what she had made because it looked so yummy! She told me it was a simple dish that she often made for herself when her hubby wasn't hungry for supper- "Noodles & Tomatoes".

My friend lives in the boonies so that explains why she would be making this dish when eating alone instead of my temptations when eating alone (take out chinese or the golden arches-eek!) LOL.  

I remembered making a similar dish a few years ago.  I'm a fan of simple dishes, the ingredients for which I would have in my pantry.  I'm also a fan of cheap, frugal food and this fits the bill on all counts.

This dish is a little more complex than it seems.  It can be dressed up or down with the addition of cheese (purely optional- I prefer no cheese in mine).  You can add spices (I don't).  I like it in its purest form - pasta - tomatoes-butter-a tiny bit of sugar, and salt/pepper.  I prefer egg noodles but any pasta will work.  You could use garden fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, or even a small can of tomato sauce if your family isn't "in" to chunks.

I served my Noodles & Tomatoes as a side to BBQ pork tenderloins which I made in the skillet.  But I love it so much, I would eat it by itself!  I love the combination of buttery noodles and slightly sweetened tomatoes with the tiniest amount of heat from the pepper.  Mmmm!

Keep this little recipe (if you can call it a recipe) in the recesses of your memory.  Pull it out when you have folks to feed, are short on money, or just want a simple, old fashioned kind of meal or side.  This one would be something your granny made, and wouldn't she be happy to know we're still making and loving it! 

Here's how I make Noodles & Tomatoes AT HOME MY WAY:

Noodles & Tomatoes
  • 16 ounces of any macaroni, noodles, pasta of your choice
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) whole, diced, or crushed, tomatoes (can use an equal amount of peeled, fresh tomatoes)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter (don't omit - key ingredient!)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Optional ingredients:  1/4 cup parmesan cheese, garlic or other Italian spices)
Instructions:

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente.  Drain completely.
Add butter, tomatoes, sugar, salt & pepper.

Heat until butter is melted about 10 minutes, stirring gently - giving the flavors time to all blend together.


-Enjoy this old fashioned flavor at your house!  Mmm!


Gina



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