Friday, February 26, 2010

Olympic Pizza & my new FAVORITE Pizza Crust

I love a good pizza. Friday nights are usually Pizza night at our house. It is a meal that the whole family enjoys, and I don't have to force it down! We designed our Pepperoni's to make the Olympic Rings on our pizza. We ate pizza and watched the Olympics. It was a lot of fun, and something we never do. We always eat dinner at the dinner table, and never sit in front of the TV while we eat. Our kids just ate it right up, and tried to immitate the ice skaters and their jumps. This would be a great way to close out the Olympics. Enough about the Pizza decorating, and Olympics... The crust is what I am talking about today. This crust is delicious! Chewy, crispy, crusty, and quick!!! I was most pleased with the quick part about it. You bake this pizza at 500 degrees. That scared me, but it was perfect. I can't wait to make it again tonight for another Olympic night. We are going to do some junior olympics with our kids. We are going to play games like "carry the cotton balls on a spoon", throw the ball into a jar", "balance a pose on one foot", "kitchen hockey with wooden spoons", etc... I've got young kids, so it won't be complicated at all. I am going to make medals for everyone out of canning jar lids, tied with ribbon. Then we will watch the Olympics. We'll see how it goes. Because my kids are young I try not to get my hopes up, and I don't put too much time and effort into it, in case it totally blows! So, if you want to do an Olympic party this weekend to close out the 2010 Winter Olympics, whip up this awesome pizza crust and make it festive for the closing ceremonies.

I found this recipe through The Sisters' dish at , who found it at Little Birdie Secrets at . Thanks for sharing this yummy crust! Check out their blogs. They are great!

15-Minute Pizza Dough

2 1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup hot water (120-130 degrees, use a candy thermometer for accuracy)
1 Tbsp Rapid Ris or Bread Machine yeast (I used SAF Instant yeast with great results)
2 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together. Add hot water and olive oil. Mix for five minutes (I used my mixer with dough hook, but you could do it by hand too). Let rest 10 minutes. Press dough on pizza pan, pizza stone, or jelly roll pan. Bake at 500 degrees for 3 minutes. Take out of the oven and cover with toppings. Return to the oven and bake 8-10 minutes more. Makes on large pizza (16-18 inches).

***I rolled mine out to fit my cookie sheet and it was perfect for an Olympic flag.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Caramel & Chocolate Dipped Pretzels for your Valentine!

My very favorite sweet is caramel and chocolate dipped pretzels. Years ago I had a friend who was a pro at making them. I have lost touch with her, and I have tried to make my own. I have been working on them for a few years now, and I almost have them perfect. This year the perfect thing that worked was using my mom's caramel recipe, which is actually my grandma's recipe. It is delicious! We have used it as caramel dip, caramel popcorn, it really can be used for caramel in any recipe. In my case, I used the caramel for the first layer on my yummy dipped pretzels. The recipe is really easy, soft, chewy and of course, sweet goodness. I love licking the spatula! Dipping pretzels for Valentine's Day has become a tradition for me. I would like to do them for Christmas, but I can't make all the best sweets for Christmas, so I save these little treasures for Valentine's day. I love the crunch from the pretzel, the chewy caramel, and heavenly milk chocolate topped with festive sprinkles. To top them off, I wrap them in a simple clear treat bag and dress it up with a cute ribbon. It is perfect for all the love's in your life. I like to use the Honey Wheat Pretzel Twists that are found at Wal-Mart. (They are Wal-Mart brand, and so tasty.) I used to be able to get them at Sam's Club in a big tub, but they stopped selling them, so when I found them at Wal-Mart, I had to buy several bags. My kids love to snack on them, and I get my fair share too. These are so much better than the standard bland pretzel's that our out there. I just used Guittard Milk Chocolate Chips for dipping, which worked out great, but next time I am going to get dipping chocolate. I also want to get pink and red dipping chocolate for drizzling next time. I'm not crazy about the crunch from the sprinkles. So, I'm still perfecting them, but I do know one thing, that I will always use my mom's caramel recipe, so here it is...

Mom's Caramel for Dipped Pretzels

2 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup Light Corn Syrup
1 cube Butter (has to be butter)
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Dissolve brown sugar in corn syrup in large pan over medium-high heat. When dissolved, add butter and melt. When butter is melted, add sweetened condensed milk. Stir and scrape the bottom constantly as to not let caramel burn on the bottom. Attatch candy thermometer to the side of your pot and watch closely. When it gets to Soft Ball Stage, keep stirring vigorously and time for 2-3 more minutes. Remove your pan from heat and continue stirring to cool down quickly. Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes stirring occassionally before dipping pretzels. Prepare cookie sheets lined with wax paper. You are ready to dip when the caramel stays on the pretzel and doesn't just melt right off. If it slides right off and pools, wait a bit longer. Dip your pretzels and twist with your finger to drain extra caramel off and place on parchment paper to set. Continue until caramel is gone. Any extra caramel can be stored in the fridge and reheated for caramel apple dipping, ice cream drizzling, or other caramel yummies.

When caramel is set, melt chocolate in double broiler pan. If you don't have a double broiler, you can use a glass bowl that will fit inside a saucepan with about one inch of space between the glass bowl and saucepan. Fill saucepan with about 1/4 in of water and boil. Put chocolate chips or dipping chocolate in glass bowl and melt. Dip caramel covered pretzels into chocolate and place back on parchment lined cookie sheet to set up. If you want sprinkles, do it now before the chocolate dries. If you want to drizzle with colored chocolate, wait until chocolate sets up.

When pretzels are set up, assemble in cute bags with bow. There are lots of creative ways to pretty them up. I love tying them with big cute bows. It's simple, and really cute. So if you have some special people in your life that you love, surprise them with these delicious treats!
Happy Valentine's Day from My Sisters' Cucina!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lemony "LOVE" Potion

We had a fun Valentine's party for all the cousins last week, and this was the drink we served. I found the recipe on Family Fun's website. That is one of my "go-to" sites when I am looking for something kid-friendly. I did modify the recipe a bit, and I do have ideas to make it even better! I found these cute valentine kiddie cups at Wal-Mart, and my mom got the straws from none other than... 7-eleven. They were kind to give us 15 long slurpee straws for free! Thanks 7-eleven! The kids just guzzled these right up, and we were right there taking pictures of it all. I wish I had it on video. They were slurping, and blowing bubbles...all the things we tell them not to do at the dinner table. They would say, "On your mark, get set, go"... and they would all blow bubbles at the same time. It was a hoot. They loved it, and so did we, because they were sitting still and being quiet...other than the slurping and bubble blowing! They were having fun spending time with their cousins, and that is why we plan these parties. It is very easy to assemble, and takes little prep time. So, if you have a Valentine's party to plan, throw this onto the menu. You'll be glad you did!

Lemony Love Potion
Family Fun

12-ounce can frozen Raspberry Lemonade concentrate
1/2 gallon Raspberry Sherbet
1 liter Lemon-Lime soda (I used 1-up)

In a pitcher prepare frozen lemonade with recommended water. (Decide how much drink you want, and you will put half lemonade and half 7-up.) Pour lemonade in cup. Drop one large scoop of sherbet into lemonade and top with 7-up to fill cup and make good bubbles. Stick one red soda straw in each cup, and serve!

***I think this would be great with a pineapple sherbet, or rainbow sherbet. I liked the tarty taste that the lemonade gave it, but I probably will leave it out next time. I love the sherbet and 7-up combo. It's just like a Root Beer Float, but it's fruity. Love it! I think next time I will top them each with a nice red cherry. They would look beautiful in Sundae mugs.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"Lovely" Banana Cake

I promised a few banana recipes, so here is one more!!! This Banana-Sour Cream Cake is de-lish! This recipe comes from Kraft Foods. The combination of banana and walnut is perfect, and the sour cream makes it a very moist cake. It takes a boxed cake mix to a whole new level. Topped with a rich cream cheese frosting definitely making this cake absolutely perfect! We eat this cake all year. There is always a reason to make Banana cake at my house. We have lots of ripe bananas in our freezer from the killer deal Macey's had on bananas in the summer, so we can make Banana cake several more times... and I'm sure we will... and so should you!

Banana-Sour Cream Cake
Kraft Foods

1 pkg (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1 cup sour Cream
1/4 cup oil
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
1 cup walnut pieces, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13x9- inch baking pan; set aside. Beat cake mix, eggs, bananas, sour cream and oil in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed just until moistened, stopping frequently to scrape bottom and side of bowl. Beat on medium speed 2 min. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 35 min. or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gradually add sugar, beating after each addition until well blended.

Remove cake from pan; cut crosswise in half. Place one cake half, top-side down, on large serving plate; spread top with frosting. Top with remaining cake half, top-side up. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Carefully press walnuts into frosting on sides of cake. Store any leftovers in refrigerator.

***Neatly frost this cake by freezing cake layers about 20 minutes before frosting. This helps to set the crumbs on the cut edges of the cake layers so they don't pull up into the frosting. Don't worry if the frosting doesn't look perfect on the sides of the cake - the walnuts will cover any imperfections.

***I doubled this cake for a baby blessing and it worked perfectly. I stacked 2 - 9x13 cakes. It turned out beautifully!


Come back next week with some Valentine's Day Treats!